Wednesday Reading

Currently, I'm reading Forever and Ever by Patricia Gaffney, last in the Wyckerley trilogy - this is for an online discussion that will happen in August.

In About Time Three, I'm on Pertwee's final season. When I'm done with this volume, I'll decide if I want to move immediately to volume four, or read a different nonfiction book instead, for a break. For instance, I've accumulated a number of Osprey books about various types of World War One soldiers that I've only skimmed for relevant information, or have not yet read. I'm feeling guilty about those since I just bought two more.

I've recently finished Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem and Glitterland by Alexis Hall.

The Kiem is an evocative 1980s period piece about a teenager and her father who have to flee the Soviet Union for New York City, and the subsequent fallout. There's a sort-of romance in it, which to me felt just a touch Stockholm syndrome, but to me the story was really all about the claustrophobic feeling of always being watched and of never knowing who could be trusted; Kiem gets that across really well. There's also a paranormal element, which affects the plot but felt a little random. I would call the novel a historical coming-of-age story that happens to have espionage in it.

Glitterland is a male/male romance set in contemporary England which plays heavily on class differences between the narrator (Oxbridge educated, a writer of literary fiction and detective novels) and his lover, a model with a strong Essex accent, partially transliterated. The narrator suffers from manic depression and anxiety attacks, somewhat under control through medication, but only after hospitalization, electroconvulsive therapy, and a suicide attempt; so far as I could tell, his descriptions of depression and anxiety seemed realistic and unromanticized. The book reminded me quite a lot of historical romances that explore class differences, with mainly the narrator overcoming his prejudices. Unlike the treatment of mental issues in some historicals, the narrator's illness was not magically cured at the end. Those who enjoy Groveling scenes after the romance's Dark Moment will find a juicy one here. I liked that there were no Big Misunderstandings.

In fanfiction reading, I found out there was a sequel to a Sherlock professional tennis AU by Jupiter Ash I'd enjoyed a while back (despite knowing nothing about tennis). I think I enjoyed the first story, "A Study in Winning," a bit more than "A Study in Doubles," but it was still pretty good. The series is here.

Next up, I don't know. Too many choices! So why do I continue to add new books? Recent purchases: Thanks to Coffee & Ink, I had Ruth Diaz' The Superheroes Union: Dynama on my wishlist, so when the Kindle edition went on sale for $1.99, I bought it. In a fit of something, I also ordered the Osprey books French Poilu: 1914 - 1918 and The Ottoman Army: 1914 -1918, both of which have been on my wishlist for a long while.

Another weekend is past

I picked one of the two August 1st deadlines I had and went back to writing on Saturday morning. This one does not, shockingly, require BDSM or dom/sub (though the editor listed those things as something she might be interested in). Most importantly, the call for submissions lists a whole range of genres! She's not just looking for contemporary!

So I flailed around, with too many choices. I wrote up a Readercon report and dug through my folder of unfinished Things.

I came across an ancient fanfiction story, from near the end of the time I used to write fanfiction, on which I'd spent a great deal of time and effort but never finished. The story was set not only post-series but post-an alternate universe ending, so it does not require a lot of filing off of serial numbers. It does require a lot of removing plot that is now extraneous since it is no longer to be Epic, and will have to get to the erotica part more swiftly (I had not gotten to that point before, but I'd been planning it). I spent Saturday and Sunday mornings poking at the thing and cutting (lots) and editing and thinking. I started with close to 4000 words and ended at about 1300. I'm now ready to write the necessary new material. Than I will probably have to cut some more. It's likely more (different) work than just writing a new story, but I realized I really did want some form of this story to be done, after all this time.

A new call for submissions showed up, with a September 1 deadline; that one is subordinate to the September 30 deadline I already had, I decided, but I'd like to try for both. Then I have a December deadline I could probably manage. Then I have to decide what to do next, because a year of this experiment in writing short stories will be drawing to a close. Am I ready to go back to the novel?

Pacific Rim (2013)

I saw "Pacific Rim" on Tuesday night and really enjoyed it, despite not always following everything that happened in the giant jaeger mecha versus kaiju fight scenes. It is not an original movie. But that is not bad, because it is more of an avatar of giant robot/monster movies/anime. Also, the acting was good and was allowed to be over the top when appropriate. (Ron Perlman, for example.)

Also, lots of Idris Elba. I was amused to see how he was taller than everyone except, like, the giant mecha jaegers. And he got to be badass, and have angst, and also shout at people. And wear a fabulous suit in which he looked fabulous. I was well satisfied.

Also, I think the 3D was some of the best I've seen, so far as just being there giving depth throughout as opposed to occasionally lobbing trees into your eyes.

I would not mind seeing it again!

Back to the World

Readercon was good, but some of the joy leached out when I heard about the Trayvon Martin killing verdict at breakfast on Sunday. It was terrific but exhausting to see so many people, as usual. My panels all seemed to go well.

I briefly meet Tat Wood, one of the main authors of the Dr. Who nonfiction series I've been reading. That was both unexpected and lovely! Also, Rob Shearman would like you to know that "The Time Monster" is rubbish.

I bought three books: Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee (I also got to attend her reading), My Dear Watson by L.A. Fields, and Wonders of the Invisible World, a new collection by Patricia McKillip.

My post on Patricia Gaffney's To Love and To Cherish is live today, over on my pro blog.

Wednesday Reading

I'm still working through Patricia McKillip re-reads for a Readercon panel, but it's more bits and pieces now, so I'm not sure if that counts. If I don't re-read all the way through, that is, it doesn't feel like I actually read it.

I decided I needed to remind myself about Fool's Run, which as far as I know is McKillip's only SF novel. [edited to add: except Moon-Flash and its sequel.] It's future sf, set mostly on Earth and in Earth orbit, when there's a world government. Music and a mass murderer are key elements of the plot. One could do some interesting parallels between the music in this novel and in, say, harpists in the Riddlemaster trilogy. But I am not going to let my mind go there because I do not have time right now.

I did finish McKillip's Od Magic, which I enjoyed. I don't think it was her greatest work, but it's still better than lots of things by other people. I enjoyed the female relationships in it, which weren't the whole story, but resonated strongly for me.

In About Time, the Pertwee volume, I just finished the section on "The Three Doctors," which had some interesting behind-the-scenes information of which I'd previously been unaware.

In fanfiction, I enjoyed Unalienable by Basingstoke, a crossover between the X-Men movies and Highlander: The Series. I thought it worked really well. I also found out there was a sequel to a Sherlock AU by Jupiter Ash in which they are all tennis players - it was a huge story and I know nothing about tennis, but I still enjoyed it. Have downloaded the sequel: series is here.

I haven't decided what I'm reading next. I have to decide if I'm bringing McKillip's In the Forests of Serre with me to Readercon or not; I thought I would have started it by now, but I haven't.

My post on Gaffney's To Love and To Cherish will go live on 7/15.

Lifting while traveling

In the 5X5 lifting program, I'm up to 115 pounds for squats and 75 for bench presses and barbell rows. I don't feel entirely settled in my form for barbell rows; need to pay more attention to that, as one of my last sets felt easier than the first couple, which was weird. Unless it had to do with taking a break in the middle, since a squat rack had become available.

I plan to lift on Wednesday, but Friday I'll be at Readercon, and I already know the hotel doesn't have barbells. I am considering three options: 1) try similar exercises with what's available; 2) do bodyweight pushups and squats in large quantities instead; 3) skip weights and just do cardio. All of my panels are on Saturday, so perhaps it would be wise not to exhaust myself the day before. Or...I don't know. I think I waste too much worrying on these decisions.

I came up with goals for lifting - goals I've never done, even once, and consider a stretch. I would like to deadlift 160, bench press 125, and squat 175. Possible? I am not sure. My top bench press at present is 95, from months ago, and I did several reps on more than one occasion, so maybe. My top squat, a long time ago, was 155, I think. I've deadlifted 140, one set of 5. I guess the real issue would be those weights for at least two full sets. Sets of 5? Of 10? Maybe I should set a date to get a trainer again, for a few sessions? (10 session would run me around $400, so it's a significant investment.)

I'm pretty much packed for Readercon, and have plenty of panel notes. I'm still trying to read and re-read a bit more McKillip. I hope people show up for that one! (It's a 9:00 am on Saturday.) Just found out a friend from Romancelandia is planning to take a long drive for the romance panel I'm leading on Saturday. I can't wait to see her! We have only met once in person before.

Sleep Sounds

Do you have sound in your dreams?

Mine are sometimes really noisy. I know this because if awakened unexpectedly from a dream, I'm startled by how quiet it is in my room. Then I wonder if there was a real noise that woke me, and sometimes there is, but it's a different noise than the ones I was dreaming.

Wednesday Reading

One of my molar crowns came off last night. I hate that. It's so icky. Luckily, I did not swallow or lose the crown, and have an apppointment to have it stuck back on, later this afternoon. Chewing: such a privilege! I appreciate it very much!

On to reading. Since last week, I finished a lot of fanfiction, but nothing truly outstanding. I also finished Dity Little Secret by Jennifer Echols. It's set in contemporary Nashville. I loved the music neepery in it; I wanted more of that and less of the YA romance, but I suspect I might be an outlier in that opinion. Finally, I finished my reread of the Riddlemaster trilogy with Harpist in the Wind. I think I like the first two books best.

I am currently reading Od Magic by Patricia McKillip, which I owned but had not read. And I had forgotten that I had not read it! It was on the shelf with its fellow McKillips instead of in the TBR boxes. (This is why it is good when you get assigned to single-author panels. I had thought I only needed to read In the Forests of Serre.) Anyway, Od in Od Magic reminds me, on the surface, of Karis in Laurie Marks' Elemental Logic series, in that she is a very tall woman who has magic linked to a Thing (animals for Od, Earth for Karis), but so far, Od is a more mysterious and mythical figure, distant from the main narrative because she's not physically present much. Also, we don't get Od's pov. The main character is a male botanist, who clearly is going to develop some amazing magic. I really liked the way he's shown trying to deal with the grief of losing his parents.

I'm still reading A Cup of Smoke by Rachel Manija Brown, a story or so every now and again, and Volume Three of About Time - I'm on season 9 and just read a cool essay about early electronic music and its use in Dr. Who soundtracks.

Next up, In the Forests of Serre by Patricia McKillip, and Harrowing the Dragon, also McKillip, because I think there are stories in there I haven't read, either. If I'm not finished with it/those by next Thursday, I'll bring it/them along to Readercon and maybe get it/them signed.

I finished a post on Patricia Gaffney's To Love and To Cherish (posting later this month), but have not written anything about Anna Cowan's Untamed and am beginning to think I won't get to it. I've read too much in the interim, and am not sure I have anything new to say.