December 6th, 2002


and now the sun is out

a little girl in a silver coat has fallen behind her parents and sister; her boots are green, and the toes are shaped like the heads of tree frogs; she watches them with every step.

a snow person with hex bolts for eyes.

brown soupy lake at a curb.

snowplow-sculpted mountains almost as tall as i am.

a breeze wafts a gauze curtain of snow from a church's Gothic crenellations.

snow-weighted evergreen in Rittenhouse Square so perfect it might be a tabletop Christmas decoration.

people in boots, all kinds, and one college girl in leather tennis shoes. her feet will be soaked, soon.

patchwork of sidewalk; sections properly shoveled, sections with only a narrow trail blazed through the middle.

a moped heaped with snow. row of cars, huddled under snow.

the roofs of the Quad, mounded with snow.

how are your children and how are your sheep?

I finished Sisters of the Raven last night. It's one of the longer Hambly books; might even be the longest; I'm pretty sure I've read all of her books except the Star Wars one, and none is this thick.

I recommend it. Hambly tried some new things besides length, most notably a larger number of point of view characters, something she carried off splendidly, in my opinion.

The assortment of points of view were tied tightly together in ways that sometimes weren't obvious for pages or even chapters, and then I would think, 'cool!' as the connection sank in, and reflect that her mystery writing might have honed that technique. I don't want to spoil by giving away any of it, but she kept my interest, I can say that.

A couple of items in the plot seemed like they might become important and then they didn't, and weren't resolved entirely later, which leads me to believe there might be a sequel down the line somewhere. She rarely writes standalones, anyway; or she does, but later adds on others (like the Dragon books, for example).

A couple of her characters were familiar types to me because I've read so much of her work: Oryn and the Summer Concubine, especially, felt like they could have been in any Hambly novel, but since I love her characters, that was fine, in fact made the book more enjoyable to me. I love that her characters don't have to be skinny or beautiful, and that they get tired of doing the right thing and wish they could be lazy. And I love that her characters are often outsiders. These are things that I incorporate into my own work as well, or try to.

I've got Kushner and Sherman's The Fall of the Kings today. I wanted to save it for a bit longer, but they're in town this weekend to read at Gio's Room and I think I do want to have the book read beforehand.

all the children have mumps, all the flocks are asleep

Hambly's Sisters of the Raven had some neat worldbuilding.

The world she's writing about is really a city and environs set in the middle of a desert with no easily-reachable neighbors. Their water comes from seven lakes and from annual rains, brought by magic. The failure of those rains drives the plot.

I immediately thought Egypt, with lakes instead of the Nile (I must admit here that my endlessly in-progress fantasy novel is set in a very Egypt-and-Africa-like place). The lakes have crocodiles, and the palace is full of cats. A dress is described as being pleated, like the white pleated dresses of Egypt's New Kingdom, or so I pictured.

But she's also got a bit of Japan. The Blossom Houses host suppers where men are attended by Pearl Women in beautiful gowns who serve them tea and never, ever appear ruffled.

There're desert nomads whose lifestyle, I assumed, is based on the Bedouin or similar tribes (we don't see much of them, but it seems likely).

There's medieval Europe in the chest-and back plate armor of the King's Guard.

There are djinni and a silk-weaving industry, both horses and camels, and descriptions of rock formations that make me think of the American West.

It's all pretty cool. And I wonder if I will ever be able to seamlessly blend influences like that to make a New Place.

(no subject)

Favorite shampoo: Essential Oils Orange. Comes in a cobalt-blue plastic bottle.

Favorite conditioner: St. Ives, some stuff that you are not supposed to use every day; it's got a minty smell and makes your scalp tingle. I don't often use conditioner, but I love this.

Favorite hair coloring: I've never colored my hair.

Favorite perfume: Chanel #5. I also wear Crabtree & Evelyn's sandalwood.

Favorite soap: the handmade kind. I am a soap slut. Currently in circulation are unscented olive oil soap I bought in Greece, handmade evergreen-scent with bits of pine needle from the Pennsylvania Rennaisance Faire, the last of the pink flamingo soap I bought at a craft store in Manhattan when Doris bought all the fabulous glass, and some hemp-oil stuff with a nice scent from The Body Shop.

Favorite moisturizer: For face, Oil of Olay. For everything else, Aveeno with oatmeal. Cocoa butter for when things are really bad. Sometimes body butters from The Body Shop.

The one cosmetic item you'd take to a deserted island with you (besides comb): I wouldn't necessarily need a comb, my hair is so short. Toothbrush! Scissors, maybe, to cut my hair?