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Jun. 24th, 2016

07:43 am - Let’s play the Genderswap Game!

Jim Hines has been doing a thing on his blog where he genderswaps character descriptions to look at how women and men get depicted. He did it first with classic SF/F novels, then with more recent titles — including his own.

It’s an interesting enough exercise that I decided to go through my own books and see what happens when I genderswap the descriptions. Results are below. I skipped over the Doppelganger books because quite frankly, describing people has never been a thing I do a lot of, and back then I did basically none of it, so this starts with Midnight Never Come.

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Read the rest of this entry �Collapse )

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/767647.html. Comment here or there.

Jun. 23rd, 2016

03:02 am - Recommend a vegetable to me!

I’m not much of a cook, but I’m trying to change that. Which means that as time goes on, there may be more of these “help me figure out how to alter this recipe” questions.

The recipe in this instance is involves some advice about how best to arrange a pan of chicken pieces and vegetables to ensure optimal cooking in the oven. Dark meat + carrots and potatoes on the outer edge of the pan, white meat and brussels sprouts on the inside, because otherwise the white meat will dry out and the sprouts will get a little charred.

All well and good, except I loathe brussels sprouts. (They have a weird aftertaste for me that I find very unpleasant. This is possibly related to being a supertaster, though I don’t know for sure; all I know is, most other people don’t seem to notice any aftertaste.) So what can you recommend to me that would profitably occupy the center position in the pan? It needs to be less robust than carrots and potatoes, while harmonizing well with them.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/767376.html. Comment here or there.

Jun. 16th, 2016

08:40 pm - The Great Swan Tower Moving Day Sale, Redux and Cont’d

Many thanks to everyone who has picked up items from the Great Swan Tower Moving Day Sale! It has been a great benefit to me, cleaning out the various boxes I keep my author copies in.

In the course of packing up, I found a stash of the US trade paperbacks of Voyage of the Basilisk squirreled away in a corner. (I’d been wondering where they’d gone.) So here’s an updated list of what’s available. Same drill applies: all you have to do is email me or leave a message here calling dibs on something and giving me your mailing address; I’ll respond to let you know whether it’s still available, and we’ll arrange payment. Shipping is included for orders within the U.S. Inscriptions on request.

You have one more week to order anything that strikes your fancy!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/767126.html. Comment here or there.

01:56 am - Fun things to listen to

A whole bunch of audio links have piled up in my inbox lately, so here — have things to listen to!

I’ve raved before about how awesome a narrator I have for the Memoir audiobooks. But if you haven’t checked them out, and need to hear just how fabulous Kate Reading is, here’s an excerpt from In the Labyrinth of Drakes. It’s spoiler-free, so if you haven’t caught up with the story yet, don’t worry about hearing anything you shouldn’t.

If you’d like to hear me reading from Cold-Forged Flame, the Varekai novella coming out this September, here’s a recording from SF in SF. My reading starts around 36:30, after M. Thomas Gammarino, and then there’s a Q&A after.

While I was in San Diego for Mysterious Galaxy’s birthday bash, I recorded with the Geekitude podcast, which is posted here. My segment starts at the hour and twenty-two minute mark, and we discuss a host of things, ranging from what it’s like to wrap up the Memoirs, to hitting your thirties and not being made of rubber anymore, to RPGs and my experiences with them.

Here’s a brief video interview I did with ActuSF during Imaginales. The questions are entirely in French — my interpreter, Hélène Bury, was translating them for me, but too quietly for the camera to pick up — but I answer in English, before Hélène translates it for the camera.

I don’t have a fifth thing. Curse the internet for establishing that five things make a post! We’ll have to be satisfied with 80% of a post instead.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/766727.html. Comment here or there.

Jun. 13th, 2016

10:51 pm - the actions of the few

I do not blame the many for the actions of the one.

Therefore I do not blame all Americans just because Omar Mateen was an American.

I do not blame the many for the actions of the one.

Therefore I do not blame all Christians just because Dylann Roof is a Christian.

I do not blame the many for the actions of the one.

Therefore I do not blame all men just because Adam Lanza was a man.

It’s a damn good thing I don’t blame the many for the actions of the one, because if I did, I would be blaming white men a hundred times over. But if I can see that my husband and my father and my brother are not to blame for the actions of the white men who commit the majority of hate crimes, then I can see that Muslims (who, globally, are the overwhelming majority of terrorism’s victims) are not to blame for the actions of a few Muslim murderers.

I blame the murderers.

And I blame, here in America, the lawmakers who put on Very Serious Faces every time a mass shooting happens and offer their thoughts and prayers to the injured and the bereaved, but do nothing to change the fact that U.S. homicide rates are seven times higher than those in comparable nations, driven by a gun homicide rate that is more than twenty-five times higher.

Do not comment here to tell me that the majority of gun owners are law-abiding; that does nothing to prevent the accidental deaths. Do not tell me we need to arm more people to kill the bad guys when they show up, because this isn’t the fucking Wild West and we can damned well resort to law before counter-murder. Do not immediately leap to the extreme conclusion and equate “we need gun control” with “we’re going to take away every single gun.”

I want a change in our gun culture, that makes it more responsible owners with locked cases and less cowboys waving their pieces around to feel strong. I want the ban on assault rifles renewed. I want getting your gun license in Texas to require more in the way of training and certification than becoming a fucking manicurist, rather than the other way around.

I want us to agree that the level of gun violence we have in this country is unacceptable, and then actually do something about it.

And until we do, I am damn well going to blame my government for letting the bloodshed continue.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/766498.html. Comment here or there.

04:30 pm - Catching up on Dice Tales

Traveling and moving house and so forth have kept me so busy, I’ve neglected to link to my recent Dice Tales posts. (Fortunately I had the foresight and organization to get them written and scheduled well ahead of time, which is why the posts themselves have continued unabated.)

So now you get a threefer! The first post, Coping with Failure, talks about what happens when the dice say “nope, not happening,” and how you keep that from derailing the story/turn it into a narratively positive thing. So You Want to Be a . . . begins our discussion of character creation, and Decisions, Decisions goes through the choices you have to make when creating a PC for a game.

As usual, comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/766366.html. Comment here or there.

05:33 am - Why is this funny?

Mary Robinette Kowal recently had nasal surgery to correct a medical problem. Being who she is (a writer, and therefore professionally interested in just about everything under the sun), she’s been posting pictures of her recovery.

She also posted this.

Here’s the thing. Remember when I fell down the stairs? (It was just three days ago; surely you haven’t forgotten.) Afterward, several friends of ours made similar jokes, about my husband pushing me down the stairs.

Why is it that, any time we hear about or see a woman injured, our minds go immediately to domestic abuse?

And why is it funny?

As Mary says, part (maybe all) of the humor comes from the absurdity of the idea: my husband would never push me down the stairs; her husband would never hit her. Anybody who knows us knows this. But at the same time . . . is it really that absurd? How many instances are there of women being abused by their husbands, when all the friends and neighbors would never dream of him doing such a thing?

It isn’t funny, because it isn’t absurd. Not nearly as much as it should be. It’s reality for far too many women. And making jokes about it — that normalizes the idea. Used to be that you got cartoons about drunk driving, the bartender pouring his customer into his car when he’s had a few too many and waving him off homeward with a cheery grin. Because that was normal. You don’t see those cartoons anymore, do you? We don’t think it’s normal to drive when you’re sauced, and we don’t think it’s funny.

We need the same to be true of domestic abuse.

By all means, joke about me falling down the stairs. Remind me that I can’t fly. Say that however much I don’t want to carry boxes, I should stop at hurling them to the bottom, and not hurl myself with them. That’s fine by me; humor is a good way to deal with a really annoying and painful situation.

But don’t joke about my husband pushing me, or Mary’s husband hitting her.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/766072.html. Comment here or there.

Jun. 10th, 2016

01:45 am - The Perfidious Ankle: A Play in Three Acts

Dramatis Personae

YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER, our heroine
YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER’S RIGHT ANKLE, our villain
YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER’S RIGHT KNEE, our tragic figure

Assorted other characters including a HUSBAND, a NURSE, a BOX OF PAPERS, a STAIRCASE, and GRAVITY.

Act One

YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER is in the process of loading her car for the purposes of moving house. She is carrying a BOX OF PAPERS down a STAIRCASE. Six steps she navigates without difficulty, but on the seventh and final step, YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER’S RIGHT ANKLE declines to perform its assigned duty, pitching YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER headfirst onto the landing.

GRAVITY, which has been present in the scene since the beginning, takes center stage.

The BOX OF PAPERS is the first to receive the impact. (YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER is still holding onto this BOX; she will, when she has leisure afterward, take a moment to be grateful that she is wearing braces on both wrists already.) By some miracle and mercy of Providence, the ANKLE does not take any of the weight GRAVITY has sent careening downward; it survives this entire drama with no perceptible damage, which is most unusual for our heroine’s life. The remaining weight falls upon YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER’S RIGHT KNEE.

After a moment of shaken relief that she was not at the top of the staircase when she was so cruelly betray’d by her ANKLE, our heroine picks herself up and completes her task, carrying the BOX OF PAPERS to the car.

Act Two

On her way back from the car, YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER notes that the right knee of her jeans is stained with blood. Grumbling in annoyance at the small split in the fabric, she goes upstairs. Here she grouses to her HUSBAND about the treachery of the ANKLE, then washes out the larger split in her RIGHT KNEE, which so nobly sacrificed itself for her. She places antiseptic ointment and a bandage upon it, puts her stained jeans to soak, and goes about her business.

Four hours later, it comes to her attention that the wound is continuing to bleed — not copiously, but enough to draw attention. She concludes it would be wise to change the bandage and renew the antiseptic. In the process of doing so, however, she notes that the skin around the wound does not move in the fashion she expected; its behavior implies greater depth to the split than she had originally estimated.

With trepidation, she asks her HUSBAND whether he concurs. He does. She, in a state of great vexation, gathers her belongings and goes to the hospital.

Act Three

We shall not try the reader’s patience, nor their fortitude, by recounting every detail that transpires at the hospital. Suffice it to say that a friendly NURSE cares for the valiant RIGHT KNEE, straightening the edges of the wound and putting in seven stitches (the split is not so large, but as YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER scars easily, she takes extra care in closing it). She contemplates putting our heroine in a joint-immobilizing support, but ultimately settles for an ace bandage and instructions for YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER to remain off the leg as much as possible for a while, because standing, let alone walking/going up and down stairs/lifting heavy boxes would put strain upon the stitches. And so, suitably chastened, YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER goes home.

Postscript

So that’s where things stand. This . . . puts an annoying spike in the process of moving, as getting to the car (or even moving around within either the source or destination residences) requires navigating stairs — which I can do, but toddler-style, step-together step-together. I am deeply annoyed at my ankle for deciding to stop ankling, and simultaneously relieved it didn’t happen at a higher elevation. My wrists are fine; my ankle’s fine; it’s just my knee, which has a little red smile, now sewn shut.

This is not how I wanted to spend my Thursday afternoon.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/765709.html. Comment here or there.

Jun. 9th, 2016

12:43 am - A message to my fellow progressives

With Clinton sewing up the Democratic nomination, I understand that a great many people are feeling disappointed by the results of primary season, and discouraged by the prospect of the upcoming general election. You don’t want to vote for the racist, sexist egomaniac, but you don’t like the idea of voting for Clinton, either: she’s too corporatist, too much of a hawk, too much or too little of whatever you’re most focused on. And so you’re thinking that come November, maybe you’ll write in Bernie’s name or vote Green or just not show up to vote at all. As a protest against the corruption, the two-party system, the rightward swing of our country.

To those people, I say this: look at the rest of the ballot.

Not the rest of the presidential ballot. The rest of the ballot. Governor. Senator. Representative. State legislators. Heck, go past those down into the real nitty-gritty: mayors, city councilmembers, school board, local measures, whatever your particular voting district lets you register an opinion on.

That is where your protest can mean something.

At that level of the ballot, you can damn well bet that every single vote can make a difference. Maybe your state is guaranteed to go blue or red in the electoral college, but your town? That’s easier to swing. And if you swing the town in the direction you want, it gets easier to swing the county, and the state, and the nation.

Sure, it’s a pain in the neck to pay attention to all of those races. Lots of them don’t even have official party affiliations, so you can’t just look for the right letter; you have to spend some time googling endorsements and policy statements. Voting responsibly at the local level requires preparation. But not much: even just an hour online the night before the election can give you a decent sense of the lay of the land. And then you’ve made the area around you just a little bit more like the world you want to live in.

Because for fuck’s sake, if we sit around expecting to make change happen once every four years, it’s never going to happen. We need change at the local level. We need city governments that prioritize making our lives better on a daily basis. We need ordinances that protect people’s health and safety. We need fields in which to grow new candidates, creating the governors and senators and presidents of the next few decades. So find the people you want, find the fire-breathing socialist radical of your dreams or the economic visionary with the ideas that can save us all that’s running for county commissioner, and vote for them. (Hell, maybe even sign up for their campaigns. But I haven’t gotten that far myself, so I’m trying to just preach what I practice, here.)

Then, when you’ve done that, take a look at the top of the ballot again.

Ask yourself: of the options there, which has the best chance of supporting all those downticket people in their work?

(And remember, this is not the Hugos. We can’t vote No Award, can’t say we’d rather have no president at all than one of the candidates on offer. We’ll have a president. And it’s going to be one of two people.)

When you vote, it’s not about you or your preferred candidate. It’s about the rest of the country, its government and its citizens, the extent to which they’re going to work together or against each other. It’s about the Supreme Court justices that candidate will nominate, who will decide the cases that will improve or wreck lives. It’s about those lives they’ll improve or wreck, all the people who can’t afford to say “well, maybe four years of Trump would be the wake-up call this country needs” — because they’re already awake, and they’re the eggs that would get broken for your self-righteous omelette.

You say you want a revolution? Vote for one — down at the bottom of the ballot, the roots that tree needs in order to grow.

(Personally, I’m fine with Clinton, and am happy to vote for her in November. If you feel differently, I won’t argue with you; but I’m not particularly interested in dissecting her character, voting record, or other qualities in the comments.)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/765564.html. Comment here or there.

Jun. 8th, 2016

04:32 pm - Update on the Great Swan Tower Moving Day Sale

For some reason the updates I had made to the Great Swan Tower Moving Day Sale page had vanished, but I’ve reinstated them. The list of books there should be fully up to date with what’s still available.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/765319.html. Comment here or there.

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