Jumpdrives & Cantrips

The Ides, the Ides…
March 15, 2008, 1149
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 Ok, I know we’ve changed calendar systems at least twice since the whole Julius Caesar ides-thing “occurred”, but it doesn’t make it any less amusing to me. Still working on Airs & Graces, which is a little slower read than I was expecting. In the meantime, wile your ides away with these:

  • Patrick Nielson Hayden reveals more about Tor’s website plans on Making Light. It sounds a little exciting, but I remain somewhat skeptical about the social networking end of things. And to be honest, while free eBooks are nice with the incentive mail-outs, I’ve owned all but one of them, and that one is certainly in the local library. Anyhow, I do hope that things turn out nicely and it works as a novel little marketing system.
  • Terry Pratchett, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, has pledged $1 million to support the UK Alzheimer’s Research Trust. Grasping for the Wind also has a post about this, including a link to a facebook group for fans supporting the cause if you are interested in supporting it. Knowing a little of how donated money gets broken down, I really hope that it gets used in a good way, because that’s one heckuva disease to live with, and one that is sadly common.
  • Also, check out i09’s Bad Movie Physics report card. These are things that I perpetually notice in science fiction movies and have a vague sense of “What the…?!” about, but they generally don’t ruin my movie going experience on the whole. Keep in mind I enjoyed The Core, which is a dearth of horrible (but extremely amusing!) science in and of itself… But really, half the fun is making fun of these types of things.
  • In the realm of amusement and silliness, check out No More Abandoned Shopping Carts to see some cart whispering. The area where I grew up sure needed a cart-whisperer. It’s renowned as a shopping cart graveyard.

Miscellanious bits
March 10, 2008, 1109
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In light of the computer recently spitting me out of writing my review of Dun Lady’s Jess, managing to erase the entire thing, and turning the screen into vertical green & black lines, I now resort to a news tidbits post *grin*

The Swivet mentions that Tanya Huff sold an urban fantasy book called One Woman’s Junk. I’m interested to see what she’ll do with these themes… See full info here.

More free eBooks! Jeff Vandermeer’s The Situation via Geekdad at Wired. Also Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods is up and running here.

This stuff is just so cool! Everyone knows that neurons don’t grow back, but a group of researchers has been using microchips to try and regenerate nerve cells. And if you ever wanted the chance to explore the International Space Station, have a look around.

And after Dun Lady’s Jess, I’m looking to review Airs and Graces by Toby Bishop (another horse-related fantasy), and more of the Jani Kilian books.


Anyone who’s been following my entries probably knows I’ve been waiting in anticipation for any Elizabeth Moon news since I heard tell that she’d be returning to the Paks universe, and The Swivet had this little gem about the sale of the new books:

Elizabeth Moon’s KING KIERI, set directly in the aftermath of the author’s “Deed of Paksenarrion” series, describing the struggles of a new king to reunite a land torn asunder by war and riven by resurgent conflict between elves and man, to Liz Scheier at Del Rey, in a significant deal, in a three-book deal (for a likely trilogy), for publication in October 2009, by Joshua Bilmes at JABberwocky Literary Agency (NA).

Haven’t seen much mention of this anywhere else online yet, including Moon’s own site. La Gringa also mentioned that A. Lee Martinez’ In the Company of Ogres (see my review here) has had film rights optioned to the same people involved in The Simpson’s Movie and Futurama. The story could make for a truly excellent movie, depending on how they interpret it… (see The Swivet’s full post here).

Also, for those keeping up with Canada Reads 2008 sadly Nalo Hopkinson‘s Brown Girl in the Ring did not win out. However, congrats to Paul Quarrington’s King Leary, which is apparently a humourous read, if not a speculative one.

OF Blog of the Fallen makes some interesting points about reviews that I don’t fully agree with, but are good to think about nonetheless. The comments are also thought-provoking. I’m thinking about writing more about why I do reviews and how I think about them at a later date. Which brings me to the fact that I’m always open to constructive criticism–I may not follow it, but I certainly appreciate when people give me feedback on the reviews and writing itself, so go to if you feel inclined. (I promise I won’t be too hurt, I might just lick my wounds for a few days before responding 😉 )

And in other news via the CBC, robots equally effective as dogs in curbing loneliness and spotlight on Pseudomonas-infected snow.

Grandmasters, missing author, a moon & a reprint
February 27, 2008, 2308
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I noticed today at Locus that the 2008 Spectrum Grand Master is John Jude Palancar, whose artwork I have loved since I first saw it… And in fact, I think the most memorable cover by him for me was for The Wild Swans by Peg Kerr.

Then I wondered what happened to Peg Kerr… She wrote two books in the late 1990s, then seemed to disappear. It looks like mainly be life and short fiction happened, as life often does, and short fiction sometimes does. I just hope she eventually comes back to novels, as both Emerald House Rising (1997) and The Wild Swans (1999) are excellent books.

And also, here’s an article about Elizabeth Moon, about her life and writing. She’s one of those people who does many things with her life, and it usually shows up in her writing at some point–there are some really nice takes on EMTs in space in some of her short stories. She makes an interesting comment that science fiction is easier to write than fantasy. I for one am glad that the return to fantasy publication is imminent, but no more news on that front from this article (found via The Swivet).

When I was at McNally Robinson (a local bookseller) a couple days ago, I happened upon a Red Deer Press reprint of Doranna Durgin‘s Dun Lady’s Jess. So excited! I kept trying to get my hands on this book way back when it first came out, and could only ever get sequels because it always seemed to be out of print despite its popularity. And it just takes the cake that it’s a small Canadian press as well. O happy day! So look for a review of that in the near future, though there are some others in progress before that one will be up on the reading block…

Nebula Awards, KeyCon, and other tidbits
February 25, 2008, 2058
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So the SFWA’s Nebula Awards final ballot for 2007 are out and up for predictions. After all, we just finished the Academy Awards, and by golly, this is at least a little more intriguing if not as flashy (picturing some of the male authors in fancy evening gowns makes me snerk gleefully). I suck at predictions, and actually haven’t read all that many of these (some day, some day)–what do you folks think?

For those keeping track, the free Neil Gaiman book will be American Gods, available for download on Feb. 28. Or so says the author in his journal.

Holly Lisle’s Hawkspar has shown up on various online booksellers for pre-orders. I loved Talyn, so I’m very excited to read Hawkspar.

And in local Winnipeg con news, I stumbled on KeyCon’s 25th year line up. Guests include: Eric Flint, Jane Yolen, Tanya Huff, and Jennifer C. Wilkes (who is working on 4th ed. D&D). Nick DiChario and Robert J. Sawyer will also be in attendance. I almost always miss this con, but I’m hoping to maybe pop in for at least some panels this year (perhaps with my entire Huff library in tow for signings…). In any case, it makes me happy to see some interesting names coming to my little bit of prairie this May.

I also wanted to thank Graeme of Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review for including me in his Sunday link spectacular. Go visit him and say hello!

For amusement’s sake, something abominable and something articulate (er… kind of).

Interesting Stuff, Plus Subgenre Musings
February 22, 2008, 2258
Filed under: news, Rants | Tags: , , , , , ,

A few things of interest:

  • So cool to read about astronaut Steve MacLean’s experiences of reading in zero G… It makes me feel all wistful…
  • And while not really science fiction-related, this CBC article about the Google-sponsored race to the moon is interesting to see where each of the teams orginate.
  • Ridley Scott potentially involved with a Monopoly movie? (Yes, based on the boardgame.) This piece of news from Sc Fi Wire disturbed me a little–the man who directed Blade Runner getting stuck with an extended commercial seems wrong. Hasbro and Universal are in patnership on this one, and will also develop movies about other games, including Magic: The Gathering and Clue (I could swear we already had to put up with a Clue movie).

And I have to say that I’m always amazed by the tendency of people to categorise things beyond what anyone needs categories for. It’s almost like literary criticism becomes an extended version of Pokemon, because once you have cyberpunk, for example, it can level up to become pre-cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk (rarely neo-cyberpunk if you follow a different evolution path), biopunk, or steampunk. The element association is dystopian, just so we’re clear. And the funny part is that I’m not actually making up these terms. Most of them are out there if you look at people writing about this subgenre, and even more than what I’ve listed. Reading about it is a little like reading Pierre Bourdieu: somewhere in there is a point of some sort, if only the language didn’t strangle its own syntax.

To be honest, I participate in it as well as both a reader and a reviewer. There’s a need for common phrasing when you get right down to it, but how specific do you need to be without limiting perceptions? I mean, look at urban fantasy. There was a time back in the day when urban fantasy was a contemporary setting placed in a city of some sort and usually involved elves and elements of magical realism. Now it has narrowed focus to usually having vampires, werewolves, the Fae (“We can’t call them elves, that would be unoriginal!”) , and added a world-weary, sarcastic tone to the work itself in places.

Laurell K. Hamilton, who some people would consider the epitome of urban fantasy, is a far cry from Charles de Lint. The thing is, “urban” is more about the setting at this point, but the meaning of what urban fantasy is has changed over time in reader perceptions. The nomenclature end of things is something I find fascinating, and I think it really shows how people think about a particular body of literature at a certain point in time.

In any case, these thoughts will have to wait for continuation some day, as tonight I aim to read some Elizabeth A. Lynn, possibly some Dean Koontz. And tomorrow I get to see my husband for the first time in a week. But one last thing!

Tia from Fantasy Debut was kind enough to include Jumpdrives and Cantrips in a blogrolling post. I urge everyone here to check our her blog as well, especially if you like to see a more in depth reading experience. Thanks again, Tia!

Shadow Unit & Other Stuff
February 19, 2008, 2043
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Unfortunately I’m a little under the weather today, but I’ve got a review of Emma Bull’s Territory in the works, and a couple others. Here are some interesting things to check out in the meantime:

Emma Bull & co. have started a fanfic site for a TV show that… doesn’t exist? It’s called Shadow Unit, and the first novella by Emma Bull is now up. Other collaborators include Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, and Will Shetterly. If you’re curious how the idea came about, check here for an explanation.

Did you sign up for the free eBooks from Tor yet? Apparently the site will also have social networking, and potential to purchase original short fiction from writers, accompanied by original artwork. I’m curious to see how Tor works the site, and what kinds of costs will be associated with the for-purchase items… See info at Bloggasm. (Thanks for passing this on to me, Flaede!)

Mike Shepherd now has contracts for books #7-9 in the Kris Longknife series, which I suppose must be selling well given the sheer number of books due to populate the series. I’m really hoping the next book takes the series somewhere new, and it’s nice to see that if it’s good, it’ll at least be three more books of good. This news amongst other book wheelings and dealings at The Swivet.

Last but not least, please check out Grasping for the Wind for more book review love–if you haven’t already. Its proprietor has been lovely enough to urge visitors to come and visit, which is very kind and much appreciated.