Today I have finished up a guest blog entry on ecofantasy for Charlie Stross, which you can read here.
I have also prepared for tomorrow’s thoroughly fabulous launch of License Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond, by making sure my reading of my Moneypenny story, “Through Your Eyes Only,” comes in under the five minute limit. I’ve booked a Send My Hair to the Sixties appointment at a place called Blo, and now I’ve also reminded you all that if you happen to be in Toronto, you really would be very very welcome to this shindig. (I tell you this even though, according to math, it increases my chances of winning the bespoke suit ChiZine Publications is giving away as a prize if you don’t come.) It’s at the Pravda Vodka House on 44 Wellington Avenue East. If you don’t want a bespoke suit, you can put my name on the raffle ticket.
(Are contributors even entitled to enter the raffle? Do I know? Don’t burst my bubble, okay?)
Earlier today, Iposted critiques for the last round of the Writing the Fantastic workshop at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Next up: revision exercises! (I do still have a few slots open in the winter session of Creating Universes, Building Worlds, by the way). I have worked on a novel called The After People, fetched food from two separate groceries, and written out some questions for the SFContario panel on economics in genre fiction that I’ll be moderating next Saturday.
I made a salad, drank coffee, ate a persimmon before it had a chance to liquefy and contemplated my upcoming Tor.com review of Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe of XKCD fame. Contemplated in this context is indeed a fancy term for “But she didn’t write a single word yet.”
Emails have been answered. Dishes have been washed.
And, since all this virtue and productivity means I am ignoring my young, I have refilled the bird feeder, which is the modern equivalent of slapping the kids down in front of Sesame Street with some Ritz Crackers.
If you happened to be outside my front window right now, this is what you would see. (Please don’t step on my flowers while you are there, you mad stalker! I actually got some bulbs going that the squirrels have so far neglected to eat.)
My birch trees are busting out fine new leaves, perfect little chlorophyll-laden shapes, with edges like serrated knives, and I have been writing Novel Writing III critiques about a meter from the bird feeder, which is exceedingly popular with the local sparrows.
Yesterday tasted of summer. It was bright and sunny and the house got a little bit stuffy. You could walk outside in a dress. No tights, no coat required. Kelly and I strolled out through a cherry blossom-infested U of T campus to Bloor Street, and a matinee of the film adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd. This was a speed version of Thomas Hardy. Look, a girl! Look, a boy! Another boy! A third boy! Unhappiness! Misery! Woe! Boom! Conveniently, we’re now back to one available party representing each of the sexes. Someone read the damned banns already.
To sum up my emotional reaction to this particular costume drama: the horses were pretty and nobody got hanged.
We came home, waited for it to cloud over, and climbed into the hot tub. This enabled me, later, to phone Vancouver, say “Thank you for giving me life!” and proceed to brag about how awesome a day it had been.
Today it is cooler and foggy.
I have a schtick on Facebook whereby I’ll often give the cats (whom we adopted 358 days ago, I’ll have you know) super-sekrit spy names for the day. Moose and Squirrel. Joe Dick and Billy Talent. Laundry Chicken and What’s Going On? Today it was Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap, which has spawned a small conversation about whether anyone could successfully reboot WKRP In Cincinnati and, if so, how? My position is that it would have to start exactly like the Battlestar Galactica reboot: Earth gets nuked, but Cincinatti survives. For obscure reasons (one friend claims this would be Johnny’s paranoia in action) the radio station was shielded against EMP.
Red Wigglers the size of Cadillacs would be roaming the Midwest, which makes it all seem like a mash-up with Dune.
Continuing on with the random, I am pondering a few fine linguistic details within the Stormwrack universe. A few of these came up when I was reviewing the copy-edit of A Daughter of No Nation. I got a query about when I use “in Fleet” as opposed to when I use “the Fleet.” (Answer: ‘in Fleet’ when they mean the city, and the words ‘in Tacoma’ could be used just as correctly. ‘The Fleet’ when we’re talking about the subsection that is a navy: “We’ll be sending the Fleet around to see if you’re in compliance with the Treaty.”) I had been doing this correctly but without conscious thought.
And here’s something that doesn’t happen to literary writers all that often: I had already known that the portions of the Hidden Sea Tales that take place on Stormwrack (as opposed to in San Francisco) were playing out, linguistically, in Fleetspeak. This means that those scenes played out in Fleet and were translated, by me, into present-day English. This is something that’s essentially invisible to everyone but my wacky imagination, but it became something of an entertaining conceit through the copy-edit process.
See, I’m no Tolkien. (I know, you’re shocked.) I don’t actually speak Fleetspeak. And the poor copy-editor really doesn’t speak Fleetspeak. So there was a bit of them going “Here’s a foreign word,” and me going, “No, that’s actually a real English science word. I had to look it up, too.” And them going “Here’s another foreign word ,” and me going, “It’s not foreign in Fleetspeak.”
Them: “Here’s another another foreign word.
Me: “Yes, that one’s Erinthian. Obvs. We can italicize that.”
None of which actually happened face to face, you understand. I’m describing a process of me talking to pencil marks on a 600-page manuscript that is now, blessedly, wrapped, taped, bar-coded and in the hands of Canada Post.
The c/e did a meticulous, thoughtful job and I’m so fucking grateful you can’t even imagine.
Finally, I am groping for a verb I can noun (or a noun I can verb) to describe a particular element of the magical inscription process, whereby a spellscribe takes an existing spell and creates a variation on it. I played with embroidering, but it’s long and unwieldy and not quite right. The embroidered spell? A broidery?
The closest equivalent to the variation/embroidery process would be someone taking a fiddly gourmet recipe and creating an undeniably different–but recognizably similar–food. Going from curried plantains in coconut milk to… maybe something with green mangos?
Why am I not currying plantains tonight? Why am I not currying plantains right now?
I try to limit my whine bloggery, but this week has had the emotional tone of a light bear mauling. You know the kind of thing I mean: buffeting, skull-gnawing, the occasional rake of claws. Still, the bear ain’t seriously pissed off or, worse, hungry. Eventually she heads off to play with some other food–because bored–and you pick your foot off the ground and hop to Dr. Frankenstein’s for a discount reattachment.
There were awesome things too, like the Chizine Saturnalia party, the Carbide Tipped Pens book launch, and–so delightful and exciting!–Kelly selling a story, “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill,” to Clarkesworld. Her list of upcoming publications can be found here now, if you haven’t been keeping score.
So! Someone remarked that I haven’t been posting about the kittens. Can that possibly be true? Here’s a very weird picture of the two of them hiding from the dude who came to fix our doorjamb.
The most notable thing right now about Lorenzo and Chinchilla is that they look an awful lot like cats. They’re about eight months old, which implies another few months of growth, but Lozo’s hit the 12 pound mark. CinCin’s half his size, and will certainly be the tiniest cat we’ve ever owned. Not the tiniest beast, thanks to the lizards, my college tarantula (yes, like so many other girls, I experimented with arachnid ownership when I was at university) and their coterie of magical crickets, whose short, pointless insectile lives were devoted to helping the noisiest singer among their number escape, all so that we would be treated to a constant symphony of sunsets at summertime, an echoing, bree, bree, bree, FRIGGIN’ BREE!!! HAHAHA PRIMATES YOU WILL SUFFER FOR YOUR CRIMES AGAINST MY COMRADES, I CAN DO THIS ALL NIGHT!! from under the refrigerator.
The kids have also picked up a few new spy nicknames: Fred and Barney, Moose and Squirrel. We still also call them Loaf and Sauce, though interestingly they seem to have mostly lost interest in the wet food that spawned this pair of names. They can pack away the kibble like nobody’s business, though. Anyone else had their young cats go: “Meh? Kibble’s fine; I’m bored with the wet stuff.” It happened with Obiwan too.
On a more mundane note–and I’ll probably repeat this a few times, in various entries–my sff.net e-mail address is going to be shutting down some time in the New Year. You can still get me at firstname.lastname@example.org or the main addy. Many people do use Facebook to reach me, which is completely fine as long as you understand that a) it may take me weeks to remember to check that Inbox and b) I do not respond to single-line demands for anything, whether it’s a book review, a Like My Page, my mailing address, jam, blurbs, signal boostage, photographs, or money. Say hello, for pity’s sake! Tell me how you’re doing and what you’re up to, and then hit me up for whatever it is you want. I might still say no, but chances are better that I’ll answer you rather than leaving a trail of steaks leading to your door, all to tempt that bear I mentioned.
Most of you may know we had CinCin spayed, finally, last Thursday. The vet sent her home in a cone that was wayyy too big, because she is so very small, and she ditched it almost immediately and licked her stitches off the first night.
Friday she went back for a second round of anesthetic and stitching. She’s been encased in a much smaller, jerry-rigged cone of duct tape and shame ever since, and has been somewhat high maintenance as a result. The low point was when she dipped the leading edge of the thing deep into her litter box and then lifted her head, essentially dumping a half cup of cat sand into her own face. My poor baby!
So we have been trailing her around, policing her litter visits when possible, encouraging her to drink extra water, mixing the antibiotics with butter and fish flakes so there isn’t a twice-daily trauma-inducing wrestling match, and luxuriating in the fact that, since she isn’t quite comfortable bolting around the house at top speed with no peripheral vision, she’s super-extra snuggly.
She’s been high maintenance, but it has had its rewards.
Lozo, meanwhile, has been very gentle with her and is going nuts with boredom. We’re running him around as much as we possibly can, but he misses having a fully-committed playmate.
She goes back Saturday morning to get the stitches out and her last round of immunizations. Your good thoughts to the tune of ‘no more vets for awhile!’ would be much appreciated.
Edited to add: this was supposed to go up on Wednesday, and didn’t. Since then, things have gotten more lively:
Kitten updates have been few and far between lately, I know, because Kelly and I were scampering around to a variety of movies at TiFF, with my always delightful and thoroughly brilliant cousins, Alicia and Joe. What’s up with the kids is, basically, that they are cute. Supercute, even!
We experimented a little with leaving the bedroom open to them at night while we were en vacance, but they are still too rambunctious. No big surprise there. CinCin’s headed back to the vet in about ten days for spayage and shots. I’ve also rearranged the top of the cat tree known as Beetlejuice Station. This might, eventually, occasion a new video.
This past staycation has been the best vacation, for me, in quite a long stretch of time. It offered the perfect mix of tourism, intellectual stimulation, good company, downtime, and amazing foodie experiences. Among other things, we tried a huge number of new restaurants: Khao San Road, The Harbord Room, The Senator, Fusaro’s Kitchen, and Byblos. Each of these is as deserving of a review as all the incredible films we saw.
It was illuminating, and has made me consider what K and I require in a break where our entertainment isn’t curated by a savvy, film-loving family member. Next time we have a stretch of time off at home, this shall be the model, I think: buy lots of tickets to lots of things, make a list of restaurants, and lure out various lovely people to partake with us.