Updates, Etc

Okay, it has been a while.  I’ve been busy.  I have two novels in the works, which will take up most of my free time this year, but that’s no excuse to ignore everything else.

So first off, an upcoming event.

At the Missouri Regional Library on April 29th, 7:00 PM, Professor Tom Dillingham and I will be doing a presentation on the value of science fiction.  What Science Fiction Can Teach Us will be a discussion of the potential scholastic, edifying, and just plain useful aspects of SF.  This is the talk that would have happened back in February had the Second Ice Age not threatened glaciation.  This should be a fun evening.  Tom is a delight and I sort of know a thing or two about the subject.

So—April 29th, 7:00 PM, Missouri Regional Library, 214 Adams Street, Jefferson City, Missouri, 2nd Floor.

Also, hopefully, fingers crossed, the short story collection will be out in mid to late May.  We’re going to do a release party at Left Bank Books, the specific date still a bit up in the air, but either the 14th or the 21st.  I will let the world know when I know.

I’m changing the night of the reading group I moderate at Left Bank Books to the first Thursday of each month, starting May 1st.  The title at hand is Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, which is available at Left Bank Books now at 20% off, so for all you local folks, go get a copy, support your local independent bookstore, and consider attending the meeting.  Thursday evenings, 7:00 PM.

No doubt there is more and I will get to it as soon as I remember what it is.  For now, have a good weekend.

Obsession Point

I have a friend who likes to engage me on our points of departure.  He’s a self-admitted conservative, I am not.  He’s a sincere Christian, I’m an atheist.  Looking around at the current culture, you would think that should make any conversation we might have problematic at best, impossible at worst.

Yet we carry on the occasional hour, two-hour, sometimes three hour conversation and never once descend into anger or dismissive rhetoric.  And yes, we talk about religion regularly.  We talk about politics.  We talk about meaningful living.  It’s the kind of exchange of ideas from different perspectives that seems both rare and uniquely pleasurable.  Would that we taught kids growing up how to appreciate this kind of conversation as, at the very least, an æsthetic pleasure.

Consequently, when he questions me on priorities, I tend to listen.

A couple weeks ago, after the monthly jam session (he runs a church basement coffeehouse to which I’ve been going and participating for more than a few years now) we hung around and started talking about current subjects.  My opening statement concerned the new movie Noah and the absurd fact that the studio has decided to put a disclaimer on it to appease religious reactionaries who are bothered by “historical inaccuracies.”  I expected a laugh over the ridiculousness of this—these are not people who have much patience for that kind of shallow literalism—but instead what followed was a discussion of my obsessive attention to people like Ken Ham and the anti-evolution crowd and biblical literalists in general.

“Why do you pay any attention to them?”

Well, I replied, somewhat glibly, stupidity is fascinating.

Patiently, though, my friend worked at that.  Really?  Aren’t there better things to focus your attention on than the obdurate intractability of intellectual ostriches?  Don’t you have, like, books to write?

At the end of the conversation (which is not to say that it’s over) I had to concede that I spent far too much time and mental energy worrying over the misreadings, misinterpretations, manglings, and malignancies of what is a minority example of entrenched ignorance.  Like watching a neighbor gradually destroy his property (and being unable to do much about it), or watching a slow-motion train wreck, or even repeatedly viewing and complaining about a very expensive yet utterly brainless film, it is both attractive and repellant to observe this particular bit of cultural shadow-play.

The answer to the question has occupied me now since.  Why do I give them so much of myself?

The glib answer is that they draw attention to themselves in such a way as to seem important and relevant.  Paying attention to them feels, on a shallow level, like being engaged.  Noticing them, knowing what they’ve been saying and seeing what they’re doing, seems like being a responsible agent in my own culture.  Every time they manage to censor discussions in schools about evolution or try to force prayer into the classroom or some other culture-war battleground is pushed into the news, being aware of it just seems the thing to do.

A somewhat less glib answer is that the very real political power such groups seem to enjoy worries me.  I don’t want to live in a country designed by biblical literalists.  And determining how they’re wrong and why is basic to any kind of pushback.

And of course, since this conversation took place, we have the incident of the FOX television affiliate in Oklahoma blocking fifteen seconds of the new Cosmos program, the 15 seconds dealing with evolution, and my blood boils.  I react.  I become insensed.   And I immediately go to write a new blog post about how stupid this is and how malevolent this kind of nonsense is and how—

Which is, actually, a waste of my time.  Really, there are better-qualified people doing exactly that.  You can find links to some of them on the sidebar over to the right.  You want to read a better-informed and more current tirade against this kind of thing, go to Freethought Pharyngula—P. Z. Myer is an evolutionary biologist and apparently has more time, energy, and inclination than I do to keep abreast of all this nonsense—or check the science blogs to which I maintain links.

I don’t have to do this.

And yet…and yet…I keep doing it.  Even here,  in addressing a different kind of question, I’m thrashing about and striking back.  Willful ignorance, asserted as if it is a positive attribute, with an insistence that it is Right and Truth and we should all bow to its inevitable godlines MAKES—ME—CRAZY.

Why?

Because, at base, I loathe my own ignorance.  I loathe that part of me that desperately wants to be right, whether I am or not.  Because I am aware of my ignorance and strive to correct it and because I see that as an important fight it disturbs me—more, it frightens me—when others not only don’t see the worth in that fight but are dedicated to preventing the triumph of knowledge.

So, I suppose the simple answer to my friend’s question is—fear.  Those people scare me.  They are the ideological descendents of Inquisitors, witchfinders, book-burners, imperialists of dogma, stone-throwers, and censors.  Because I read Lest Darkness Fall and Fahrenheit 451 and my imagination is such that I can see what a victory for them would mean for people like me.

And because I honestly lack any kind of faith in those who are my intellectual and cultural kindred that we will win this fight.

But that still doesn’t fully address the challenge he laid at me feet.  Why do I  pay so much attention to all this when I could better serve my own purpose and the purpose of the civilization I support in so many other ways?

Because, when combined with all of the above, this has become a rut.  It is easy.  And it feeds my sense of relevance.  But really it’s a paltry diet.  There are richer meals to be had, that would be more beneficial, to me and to others.  So it is an itch which has become easy and habitual for me to scratch.  And in certain company, it’s a sign that I am part of a certain group of like-minded.

It’s a poor excuse.  I could be doing better things with my time and frankly getting more out of my intellectual life.  Because at the end of the day, I’m not going to change their minds, and those who nod along with me when I dive into one of my tirades don’t need me to tell them about this.

I think it is worth paying attention to when tax money goes to something like Ken Ham’s Creation Museum.  That’s an abuse of public trust and a violation of the law, frankly, and should be made public and stopped.

But I don’t need to go on about Ken Ham’s idiocy.

The spot that itches has grown raw and inflamed from repeated scratching and no salve is in sight.  I need to leave it alone.  I have a book on mathematics to hand, another about the history of science fiction, and still another about World War I.  Yes, I have a couple of books dealing with the assault of reason, which is not only from a religious reactionary quarter—reason is under assault from many quarters—but I’m a fiction writer.  My job is to tell stories about the world and because I write science fiction I can do a little prognosticating.  I have to stop pissing away time on pointless subjects.

Besides, I really do think they’ll fade.  When I sit myself down and really examine it, the world view we define as that of Reason will maintain and eventually the nattering naysayers will diminish.  It’s just difficult to see that day to day and believe it when there are people worrying over the “historical” inaccuracies in a Hollywood film about a mythical event.

So I wish to thank my friend for opening a door and pointing out that I’ve been perhaps wandering the wrong hallway for a time.

This is why we must cultivate relationships with people we disagree with.

Gravity Box

So now it can be told…

I have a new book coming out this May.  It is my first short story collection* and will be published by

Walrus Publishing, a small press right here in St. Louis.

Here’s the cover, done by the remarkable John Kaufmann, also local to the area.

Gravity Box Cover

There are eleven stories, a mix of previously published and new, a mix of science fiction, fantasy, “slipstream,” and a mix of short story and novelette.  I am, needless to say, very excited about this, and I throw myself on the mercy of anyone reading this to spread the word.

Tentatively, there are plans in the works to have a release party at Left Bank Books in mid-May.  I will also be at ConQuest in Kansas City over Memorial Day Weekend where copies will be available.

The first publicity post is up at the Walrus site, here, which is an interview.  So rather than ramble on about the book here I urge you to click through and read the interview…and while you’re there check out some of Walrus’s other titles.

 

_________________________________________________________________________

*Hmm.  Not strictly true.  I should say this is my first BOOK LENGTH short story collection.  The estimable Steve Miller and Sharon Lee published a chapbook of three stories some years ago called Other Ways: Three Tales From The Secant.  As of this writing, I do not know if these are still in print.

Upcoming Events

I have a couple of events coming up that I’d like everyone to know about.  Back to back, this coming Thursday and Friday.

The first one will be at the Missouri River Regional Library, Thursday, February 6th, at 7:00 PM.  I’ll be there with Tom Dillingham, good friend and educator.  Here’s the announcement on the MRRL calendar:

Contact: Madeline Matson   634-6064, ext. 250   matsonm@mrrl.org
 

What Science Fiction Can Teach UsThursday, February 6
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MRRL Art Gallery

Mark Tiedemann, author of numerous science fiction novels and short stories, and Dr. Thomas F. Dillingham, retired professor of English, who has taught science fiction courses at Stephens College and the University of Missouri-Columbia, will take part in a “conversation” about science fiction as significant literature.

Location: MRRL Art Gallery

 

Tom and I will conduct a dialogue about science fiction and its implications, with a Q & A for the audience.

 

Next, the following evening I will be at the St. Louis Science Center for their First Friday event.  Again I will be paired with an educator, Mr. Keith Miller from UMSL.

Center Stage (Main Building, Lower Level)

8pm                Humans, Cyborgs, and Robots: Who Is a Person and Who Is Not?
Join in this conversation between scientist Keith Miller and science fiction writer Mark W. Tiedemann as they bring a historical context to the question of persons and non-persons and speculate as to how St. Louis will be different in the future, due to a new category of non-humans — robots.

- See more at: http://www.slsc.org/february-first-friday-st-louis-2264#sthash.uDo65pUN.dpuf

 

I’m jazzed about both and it would be cool to see some of my friends there.

Starting in March, I will be conducting a reading group at the Pulitzer Art Foundation once a month in conjunction with their newest exhibit, Art of its Own Making.  They have selected five classic SF titles to go along with the exhibit.  This is being done in cooperation with Left Bank Books.

As well, I’m conducting an ongoing reading group at Left Bank Books—Great Novels of the 22nd Century.  Here’s the FaceBook page.  I enc0urage those interested to like the page and come to the discussions.

That’s all for now.  Thank you.

 

Favorite Posts of 2013

Because, it was a long year, and memory is sometimes a tenuous thing.  These are my favorite rambles from the past year.

Meaning, Cults, Freedom

Portrait of a Good Friend

Guns and Popes

Breakneck Mousetraps

Scouts’ Honor

Undeserved Entitlement

Original Intent

Right Is Wrong

Jack Vance

Colloquial For “Why, I Didn’t Mean Nothin’ By It!”

On The Extraction of Feet From Mouths

Boycotts and Bully Boys

My Friend Has A New Novel

About Hild

I did not include links here to last July and August because almost all of those months were about our trip, so just flip back to them in the archives and enjoy.

I included a couple of reviews from the Other Blog, The Proximal Eye.  I guess I did a bit in 2013.  I hope 2014 is just if not more productive.

Thanks for your indulgence.

Pet Peeve

I don’t watch a lot of television.  Possibly more than I should, given everything I have on my plate, but I grew up with tv and have loved a lot of what’s been on it and it is, or can be, a great source of pleasure.

One of the shows I’ve been devoted to the last few years has been Castle.  From the first episode, I’ve been hooked.  Firstly, how could I not like a show about a writer?  And especially the writer as many of us dream of becoming.  Secondly, Nathan Fillion.  I mean, Firefly?  I was so happy to see him get a new show.  (And the fact is, if one pays attention, there are Firefly references sprinkled throughout the show.)  Thirdly, Stana Katic.  (I am hopelessly enamored of women with strong personalities and great brains—did you know Ms. Katic speaks five languages and often does her own stunts?  We don’t even have to talk about her looks, do we?)

The show started off with a smart script, tremendous wit, and immediate chemistry.  No one was talking down to anyone here and the ongoing back story involving Detective Beckett’s (Katic) murdered mother was written in just enough and brought to a satisfying resolution, if not conclusion.

It was obvious from the get-go that these two would fall in love eventually, which worried me, because so many shows have been ruined by consummation.  (Just look at Bones if you don’t believe me.  How sad.)  They wrote and played it marvelously.

When they finally decided to get them together, much to my surprise they didn’t ruin it.  Usually what happens is one of the two becomes submissive and suddenly we have “traditional male-female roles” playing out and it’s just so been-there-let’s-not-anymore.  Not so here.  They are different enough characters that they can remain equals without the kind of imbalance that might blow them apart.  Which still may happen.  They’re on their way to getting married now and the quality remains high.

So I feel a bit churlish about complaining, but I can’t help it.

Rick Castle is getting stupid as the show progresses.

Oh, he always pulls himself out of it by an episode’s end, but over five seasons he has gone from a very savvy, knowledgeable, well-informed, somewhat reckless amateur sleuth to someone who believes in woo-woo and is overly-cautious to the point of cowardly at times.  And after 30 bestselling crime novels, the rich pool of knowledge he had at the start of the show has sort of leaked out along the way.

The last show I watched, from last season, has him advancing with a STRAIGHT FACE the theory of a serial killer striking from beyond the grave.  Really?  Really?  This is as bad as people assuming because I write science fiction I believe in alien abduction.  It’s reinforcing a weird stereotype.

Oh, I get it, he’s the writer, so he’s supposed to be the romantic as opposed to Beckett’s supreme rationalist.  But I liked it better when he was the one the wild (but credible) theories opposed to her thorough and dogged policeman.

It’s even borderline sappy now.

I still love the show, I still think it has some of the best writing on network television, but it would be nice if they’d push Rick back to where he started.  This hasn’t yet ruined the show for me, he is still mostly an asset in the police work, but from time to time he’s implausible.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the Joss Whedon-scripted episode.  You know one is on the way, don’t you?  ABC take note.  Whedon, a Castle script.  Please?

2014: Intentions

Good morning!

Now for a change in direction.  Slightly.  Much the same only with differences.

What I have planned for this year…

I long ago gave up on New Years’ Resolutions.  I recall keeping some of them, actually following through, but the fact is none of them transpired the way I’d intended and other things came along that proved both better and worse.  Like predictions of the future, they have a spotty record.

Which would seem strange, since resolutions are supposedly entirely yours to make and execute.  You have the power.  You control the horizontal, the vertical, the sharpness…

However, life is a sometimes perverse and uncooperative partner in the dance, so the best you can do is Intend.

So, my New Years’ Intentions.

I will have a short story collection coming out in May.  I already mentioned that a couple of posts back, so this isn’t news, I’m just putting it here to begin on a somewhat more reliable note.

I’ll be attending ConQuest 45 in Kansas City in May.  We used to attend every year, we have friends there.  But after 2005, when civilization collapsed, and money got tight, we stopped.  As I’ll have a book out by then (fingers and toes crossed) I’m going back.

Which hopefully will be the harbinger of more such trips and visits.  We’ve lost touch with some folks, we haven’t been where we’ve wanted to be, and I’m disinclined to waste much more time waiting for the situation to be Just Right.  So, a few more trips this year.

I intend to write two novels this year.  I’m working on the first (not right this precise moment, obviously, since I’m writing this to tell you about my writing something else) and starting to plot out the second.  They’re both going to be kick-ass novels, you just wait and see.

I intend to start writing and publishing short stories again.

This spring I will be participating in a reading group/art expo at the Pulitzer Foundation Gallery.  There’s a science fiction theme this year and it will be fun.  More on that later.

I’m also conducting my own reading group through Left Bank Books, which I’ve also posted about not too far back.  First meeting this Saturday, 7:30 PM at the central west end store.  The first half dozen titles are selected, which is giving me an opportunity to revisit some old friends (bookwise) and maybe put my two cents into the whole literary discussion about the field in general.

I intend to continue working out, staying healthy, defying old age.

(As a minor goal, I intend to have more than 300 followers on Twitter, if for no other reason than I seem stuck at 280. So if anyone would care to help out with that…)

I intend being more who I want to be.  It’s there, just a bit rusty from disuse.  The last several years haven’t been all that conducive to being spectacular.  Quite the opposite.  So I’m planning to change that.

I intend learning to play decent if not terrific electric guitar.  If possible, I’ll shoot for terrific.

I intend being in touch with my friends more.  It’s too easy to put things aside for later and then later turns out to be years and then you don’t know what the hell has happened and we’re all different.

I intend, finally, being around.  If that’s convenient and desirable to everyone, then we should all have a good time.

I intend to learn to cook some new things.  Microwaves are wonderful and take-out is delightful, but again, time passes, the fine cookware languishing in a cabinet continues to languish, and the taste buds atrophy.

Okay, have I covered everything?  Probably not, but I think that’s a good general statement of intentions.  No resolutions.  I haven’t resolved anything.  If I fulfill any or all these intentions, then I can say I’ve resolved them, but enough of that overcommitment-followed-by-disappointment-leading-to-self-loathing.  (I’m actually quite good at the self-loathing, regret, sense of failure schtick.  Enough.)

So.  To the horizon.  Welcome to 2014.  Onward.

 

Into The Horizon, July 2013

My Friend Has A New Novel

This is my friend, Nicola. She’s published a wonderful novel and I could not be happier for her. I get to talk to her from to time and I love it. I sometimes feel like I could talk to her for days and never get tired of it. (Of course, she’d get tired of me, so…)

Anyway, here’s a half hour of her talking about her new book and I wanted to share it.

Mary Poppins

There was a hardcover copy of a Mary Poppins book in my grade school library.  I remember finding it and being very excited.  Naturally, I’d seen the movie and I was already discovering how much better the books from which films were made could be.  So I checked it out and took it home and that night opened it up and—

Took it back the next day, unfinished.  To say it was nothing like the film is beside the point.  To say I found no magic in it would be closer.  But frankly, the Mary Poppins of P.L. Travers—of which we now are so vigorously concerned of late—I found to be a cold, humorless drudge who was obsessed with discipline.  She was more like Mr. Banks from the film, who had to be saved from his stern, business-before-all attitude before he let all of life pass him by.  I grant you, I was quite young—ten—and not, perhaps, the most patient of readers or the most perceptive, but the contrast was so sharp and jarring that I’ve never gone back.  Travers’ Mary Poppins was no one I would have wanted anything to do with.  That Walt Disney found something magical in these stories amazed me at the time.

Fast-forward to my erstwhile attempts at being a writer and the slight knowledge I’ve garnered about property rights and adaptations and so forth, and many things make much more sense now.  The books were popular—not Harry Potter popular, not even close, but they sold—and there was presumably a market that could be exploited.  It must have appeared to Uncle Walt to be an opportunity to do a little payback toward England, where his Peter Pan  was barred by the tidy little trust Barrie had put together that guaranteed revenues for the orphanage to which the playwright was dedicated.  Disney had gamed international copyright to make the film without cutting them in for anything and they successfully kept the product out of British markets (until only recently, when a new deal was cut, paving the way for, among other things, the wonderful Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry novels about Peter and the Lost Boys).  Walt was snatching another British property and this time nothing would keep the film from English audiences.

And he saw something my ten-year-old self didn’t—a way to extract a Disney production from the elements of the stories.

But the result was so different from the source material, one must wonder why he didn’t just come up with something completely new on his own.

Well, at a guess, that name.  Mary Poppins.  (Especially the way Dick Van Dyke said it, in that exaggerated cockney accent.)  And the setting.  And the back story.  Safer, maybe, to grab something whole from a long siege than risk opprobrium by cutting out a new set of characters and then being accused of plagiarism.  Uncle Walt, after all, had an image to protect—his was part of an America trinity that included Abraham Lincoln and Santa Claus, honest, uncorrupted, generous, and pathologically well-meaning.  In his calculus it must have seemed worthwhile only if he could show that everyone, from the creator to the audience, approved.

And he bloody well paid Travers enough for her work.  Sixty thousand pounds, which would have worked out to roughly  one hundred two thousand dollars, which, adjusted for inflation etc etc would be worth about three-quarters of a million today.  Plus she got five percent of the box office gross.

She was, as they say, set.

Yet from all accounts the new film, Saving Mr. Banks, portrays Travers as just as difficult, odious, and perpetually disapproving as her signature character, granting Disney an aura of magnificent patience in dealing with this woman he seemed intent on making rich just by making Mary Poppins even more famous.

Why?

Because the fact is Travers went to her grave hating the film Disney made.  He turned her work inside out, cut away large portions of it to leave in the bin, and concocted a musical mish-mash of mind-numbing magical mush which she reportedly loathed.  The serious points she wanted to make in her stories got short-shrift, the “proper British household”(which she rather admired, especially being the daughter of a man who struggled for the position of Mr. Banks but lost it, only to die prematurely when Travers was six) was held up to ridicule, and Mary herself came off closer to an Edwardian jet-setter than the nanny who could fix anything Travers intended.

Mary Poppins was a creation from her childhood.  She had grown up with this character, it was part of her DNA, so to speak.  Disney worked at getting the rights to make the film for 20 years.  Can anyone fault Travers for being protective?  Indeed, obsessively so?  This is something most writers understand in their bones—it is their work, no, it is their being which is, depending how you view it, either being praised or raped.

The success of the film did not hurt.  She published more Mary Poppins books after it came out, among other things, but she never agreed to another Disney adaptation.  At a guess, at a minimum, she must have thought Disney had trivialized her character.

(To understand what must have gone through her mind, imagine for a moment the idea of telling, say, Ibsen that one of his plays was going to be made into a new production by Gilbert and Sullivan.)

Turning things over to someone else’s control is hard.  It can wrench to see your work treated differently, with apparent disregard for what you envisioned.  Even if no ill intent is on hand (and surely Walt Disney had nothing nefarious in mind—he was first and foremost an entertainer, he wanted to make magic that sold well) it can be galling to watch what you have done…altered.

I find it ironic that the film has been titled Saving Mr. Banks.  Disney as an institution has had more than a hefty dose of bad luck since Walt died and is often criticized for a variety of business practices which, while perfectly normal in the Hollywood milieu seem horrid and crass given the “Uncle Walt” persona the company wishes to put forward.  I realize it’s a play on the Banks family from the books and that part of the story Disney put on the screen concerns saving Mr. Banks’ soul from the creeping corporatism that is stealing him from his family.  But the film is about Walt Disney and his company.  Saving Mr. Banks, then, is about saving an image, saving a corporation, saving…Walt?

I have met no writer of books who was ever satisfied with the job a film did with his or her work.  Not one.  It is a very different medium from the printed page.  Those few films that have successfully (however one defines success) translated book to screen are the exceptions, not the rule.  The film maker very often finds it easier or more workable to just dump large parts of a written work and start over.  If everyone knows this is going on up front, then the results can be artistically fine.  Take for instance Blade Runner, which is based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.  There is maybe 15% of the book in the movie, but it is a brilliant film for all that it has departed from Dick’s original story.

Be that as it may, one wonders at the reasons behind putting together a hagiographic film about a relationship, while certainly important, probably few people really cared about so long after the events.  Why now?  Why this?  And what use is there in misrepresenting so much of what happened?  (Which films do all the time, this is nothing new, but for those who know better it is nevertheless aggravating.)  I wasn’t aware that Walt Disney’s image needed a new coat of varnish.

For the record, I liked the film Mary Poppins.  I’ve been a fan of Julie Andrews ever since.  I liked it.  I didn’t love it.  I disliked musicals then, rather intensely, and the story seemed somewhat removed, but there were moments, magic moments, that took me out of my young head and made me marvel.  Enough that I became excited when I found that book in the school library.  Enough that I was disappointed at what I found on the page.

And that’s a point.  It matters what we’re exposed to first.  It sets out expectations.  While it may not be cool to admit it among certain circles, if the film is the first thing to which we’re exposed, it sets a bar that the books then must meet or surpass, and that’s just as difficult if the relation is reversed.  For me, the film remains stubbornly primary, even though I “know” better.  In a time when copyright and corporate ownership of intellectual rights is coming under more and more sophisticated scrutiny, it might behoove Disney to put forth an additional bit of mythology suggesting that this primacy is the valid one, that through his almost saint-like patience and paternal good will Uncle Walt was the one with the preferred vision and Pamela Travers was just, you know, being difficult.

Even a cursory glance at Travers’ life belies this.  She was an unmarried woman who had been making her way in the world of the theater and publishing for some time, who was in no way the constitutional drudge apparently being portrayed.  To be successful in that kind of life at that time, she could not be without considerable experience and business savvy.  It’s likely she smelled snake oil in Disney’s wooing and she reflexively recoiled.  She knew well enough that such a project would make her material existence easier, even if her conscience bothered her.  To personify what was a pragmatic business decision as some kind of character defect—because she was repelled by the subsequent production—is unkind, unnecessary, and more than a bit nasty.

Something Disney is not supposed to be.

 

Status Update

It’s winter.  Officially.  Stuff is falling from the sky, sticking to things, and it’s cold.

A couple of things of recent note.  This past weekend, one of my coworkers at Left Bank Books got married.  She held it in the bookstore, after closing on Sunday, and another coworker officiated.  I shot photographs.  It was wonderful.

That morning, I went to the gym and had a surprisingly good workout.  Last year, I was aiming at doing a thousand pounds on the leg press.  I reached 930 lbs before my little abominal abdominal incident put me right back down in the whimpy weights.  Sunday I did 900 lbs.  I don’t think I’ll make a thousand by years’ end, but I feel not at all bad about this.

I have a few more stories to edit for my short story collection, which now has a (tentative) release date—May 10th, 2014.  I’ve seen the cover art already and it ranks with my favorite covers, done by a local artist named John Kaufman, who deserves a look.  I am delighted that the collection will be sporting such a cool cover.

My friend Nicola Griffith‘s new novel, Hild, was release in November—11-12-13—and is doing very well.  I myself have sold half a dozen copies already and it’s on my Christmas Season hand-picked list at the store.  Go check it out, your brain will thank you.

I have been working for the last several weeks on the third volume of my alternate history trilogy, the Oxun Trilogy, and I have run headlong into a number of problems (one of which is that I’m trying to get a novel started during Christmas season when time is at a premium).  I’ve written the first two or three chapters now four times.  I am poring over my research, poking at it, trying to find a way in.  Finally, I had a breakthrough and realized that I’ve been starting the damn thing in the wrong place.  Note to aspiring writers: this is often the problem with stories that will not advance beyond a certain point.  Not the only problem, but a big one.

Of course, this realization has necessitated acquiring a whole slew of new books specifically about—Napoleon in Egypt!  If anyone out there reading this has a suggestion for a fairly detailed history of specifically the scientific mission, I would appreciate it.

Given the above, I’m doing something with this novel that I almost never do—outlining.  I don’t think I have the time to wing it and correct it all later.  I need to know very well where I’m going and when.

Earlier conceptions of the book required an outline of a different sort, and that is still there, but this is different.

Christmas at Left Bank Books is generally a time of insanity, madness, massive customer presence, and long hours.  Which means I may not be making many posts till next year.  I thought I’d let anyone interested know what’s going on.

If I don’t get to say it later, Have A Happy Holiday!