Friday, August 31, 2007

It's my birthday tomorrow

I should probably post more and stuff, at least every day. But maybe I'd be better off to try to write fiction every day.

I have the first Dresden File book to read... I could be half done with it already if I hadn't sat here on the computer doing nothing.

It

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Fun Stuff... Bubonicon!!

I got three books signed: _A Shadow in Summer_ by Daniel Abraham. The second book (of a planned four) is out NOW and I want it *badly*. I highly recommend these. Jane Lindskold signed _Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls_ for me although it was signed when I bought it. I wanted to let her know that I particularly enjoyed it. She told me it was a reissue and the first book she'd sold. I had no idea. I also got _A Very Large Array_ signed by the editor, Melinda Snodgrass, which makes me very happy because the book was a gift to me.

Happy surprise, Mark Ferrari was there again this year. He's got his first novel out just this week, _The Book of Joby_. In his former life (when my daughter and I both met him) he was artist Guest of Honor and encouraged my daughter very much about her artwork. He was able to see the two drawings she had in the art show this weekend and talk to her about them. She was very excited about that, and so was I (because I'm a "scary art mom.") She *had* to get his book and get it signed... the only book purchased this weekend!... so I will borrow and read it and maybe get a review up.

I got to say hello to Vernor Vinge and shake his hand. I really should have got pictures but I didn't. My daughter even had the camera in her backpack this morning but I didn't know that! I've actually never read anything by Vinge but I think that I will.

I also finally got to meet S. M. Stirling. I have read one book of his before. It was one with Draka in it and more than a little bit disturbing. I went to a reading of his latest work and I think that I will start reading the series it is part of starting with _Dies the Fire_. No doubt it is disturbing as well, but I'm older now and maybe I've got a higher "disturbing" threshold.

Stephen R. Donaldson was there. Do you know that he smiles *constantly*? He seems like an excessively cheerful person. I can't say that I'm motivated to read the last four Thomas Covenant books, which is what he's working on now, but I will say that he seems like a really nice guy. Maybe it's getting all the bad stuff out on paper or something. You think?

This con is *tiny*... only one room for main programming, but I want to give an idea of just how *thick* the authors are on the ground here... the list of those *in the printed program*... Vernor Vinge (GOH), Jane Lindskold, Daniel Abraham, Doug Beason, Richard M. Berthold, S. C. Butler, Suzy McKee Charnas, Yvonne Coats, Stephen R. Donaldson, Terry England, Mark Ferrari, Steven Gould, Sally Gwylan, Warren Hammond (new author from Tor and I'm going to check out his book for sure), Betsy James, Matthew Jarpe (I need to get hold of his first novel too), Anne & Jeff Lambert, Victor Milan (another I *must* read and never have), John J. Miller, Laura J. Mixon, Pati Nagle, John Maddox Roberts, Melinda M. Snodgrass, S. M. Stirling, Ian Tregillis, Robert E. Vardeman, Carrie Vaughn, Sage Walker, Mel. White, Walter Jon Williams (I've got him on the side bar), and Connie Willis.

Perceptions of approval...

I already went on about this to my husband at 1 AM last night when I got home from the con so it's partly out of my system.

Way back at post number one I explained that I was blogging here under a pseudonym as a way to at least symbolically separate my political ranting from my hopeful professional career writing fiction. My purpose isn't to be deceptive. My purpose isn't to make sure that no one ever finds out that I'm Julie A. Pascal. My purpose is to avoid unnecessarily alienating my potential audience.

So.

I went to Bubonicon, a science fiction/fantasy convention this weekend. Anyone with two neurons to rub together knows that the political/religious/ideological... scope... of those who love speculative fiction of one sort or another is enormously broad.

Anyone, except, it seems Connie Willis or John J. Miller. And maybe they set the tone or something because it seemed that that whole panel seemed determined to speak their minds. Connie began by introducing herself and what she's been doing lately as (from memory) "watching the administration slowly implode and hoping they don't take the country with them." John Miller is in the admittedly annoying situation of having someone else with his name, including middle initial, publishing in a different field. I don't blame him for being upset by this but announcing the problem of having the same name of the guy who wrote "100 top conservative rock songs" as though this is particularly horrific did seem like a huge and unapologetic slap in the face to anyone who was conservative.

And I will say that the *audience* made approving noises. Neither Connie nor John have any reason whatsoever (unless they google their names and find this blog post) to think anyone disapproved of their political comments.

Because who would be that rude?

I sure wasn't going to make *dis*approving noises and disrupt the panel. And I ask you... is it even possible that I was the only person there who self-identifies conservative? Sure, I'm a libertarian sort of conservative but conservative none-the-less. Even if most of the audience was in political agreement it's not possible that there were NOT a large number of fans present who reacted as I did and sat there politely with their mouths shut.

Perhaps if those two hadn't set the tone in that manner I'd have been more tolerant of the digs at religion made by a couple of the other panelists (the panel was about plagues). I will say that I found it rather ironic that the person (I forgot who, precisely) who made a statement to the extent that religion blocked progress combating disease, after the discussion morphed a bit into a discussion of the danger of unintended consequences of human action, felt it was terribly important that we have a serious discussion of the morality involved.

Nope, no irony here.

I will defend my perceptions here to say that I *know* that many of the other panelists on other panels are strongly politically liberal and I did not have anything remotely like the same reaction to them. There is even one woman, Suzy Charnas, who I'd love to get to know because despite the fact that her bio and she, herself, describe her as a feminist (others are as well, I'm sure, but no one else mentioned it or described what they wrote as "feminist" SF) and I generally find feminism off-putting, she expressed herself in an appealing way... *without* an implied criticism of anyone else. Plus she seemed to get what I was saying about something and I think it was her voice (I didn't turn around) who said something from the audience in the very last panel that all the panelists disagreed with and I agreed with... I'd love to talk to her about it!

So, it really is not the politics or beliefs that I'm having a problem with here. It's the fact that I felt personally disparaged. I also am not at all inclined to read anything written by Connie or by John because of that. And that may not be fair of me but it's not punitive of me either. It's not to get back at them, it's that I don't trust them to write in a thoughtful way about those who disagree with them politically if they can't even be thoughtful toward those who disagree with them politically in a situation where they ought to be motivated to promote themselves.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Going to Bubonicon

I'm headed off to our local science fiction convention tomorrow. I've missed for a couple of years and probably would have this year as well but my daughter begged to go (turns out some new friends of hers will be there) and then decided that she wanted to enter something in the art show after all.

It should be interesting. I'll try for some pictures. It's not the most costume oriented con out there but there are usually some storm troopers. The con is more book oriented.

Hopefully I'll be able to meet some famous people so I can come back here and drop names. ;-)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stuck a feather in his cap....

Maybe this is silly but I'm just psyched. I learned something new
today!

I found out what "Macaroni" means in the song Yankee Doodle!

A "Macaroni" in the period of king George (of tea taxing fame)
was an excessively stylish gentleman. Those who aspired to
high fashion (and succeeded) were a Macaroni.

I suspect that the point of Yankee Doodle was that he aspired
to high fashion... and failed. ;-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Encouragement in song and verse.

Pakistan has troubles that certainly don't need Obama announcing tough love and invasions over. I don't know what people think, sometimes, about other countries and the people who live in them.

This is a video popular in Pakistan. The singers in it are pop stars there and they got together to do this song. (This version has English subtitles.)

I've said before, national mythology, or self-identity is probably the most important determining factor there is for what people can do tomorrow.

And while I'm linking videos. Here's a very different one from a Marine. Blackfive has the words if you'd like to read them. (Or if the link to You Tube doesn't work.) A call to unity and service.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bumper Stickers

Ahead of us in the McD's drive through on a rather nice car...

Feminists for Life

and

Equal Rights for Unborn Women


Very nice.

Comment from my daughter in response to my enthusiasm... "Feminist is another word for Sexist."

That girl may be too smart for her own good. ;-)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pitch

Airman Christina Valla thinks that no one knows her dark secret yet shortly after enlisting in the military she's pulled into the blackest of black ops. Trained from childhood to keep her demons at bay she resists, but ultimately fails. She is the only one strong enough to defeat the man who has run this black op for a lifetime and to rescue the Special Forces unit he has betrayed even if she loses her soul while doing it. Broken in spirit she learns that it's not the weapon but how it is used that defines good and evil.

Christina Valla is a Norse shapshifter-trance walker. A berserker. Unlike the others pulled into the black op she has always known. Unlike the others she has never had an episode. The ability is heritable and her line is not diluted, not in intensity nor in knowledge of her history, of Red Thor who prefers that blood flow and the White Christ who made it stop.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Princess of Wands by John Ringo

What I liked about this book, other than the heroine who can truly kick butt, is that John Ringo gets Christianity right in a few unusual ways. Barbara understands that she fights her own demons and her faith is how she does that, how she keeps them in check. She believes that she *needs* forgiveness, though she has never in her life done anything anyone else would consider evil or wrong. She knows the blackness in her own heart.

And I don't think it's too much of a spoiler for the plot, but what this means is that when the demon gives her visions of truly evil things that are at least slightly based in her own desires, she isn't destroyed by them. The evil inside of us, after all, is what forgiveness is for.

Ever since I was a kid I noticed that people seemed to think that it was *easy* not to do that bad things, that it was *easy* to have self-control. That the good kids were good because they didn't have to face what the bad kids had to face. But who knows temptation? The person who gives in to it or the person who rides it out until the end?

Oh, certainly a developed habit of self-control makes things easier, but it doesn't make things go away either and one doesn't *get* a developed habit of self-control other than by exercising it.

_Princess of Wands_ is made up of three novellas. The first is very good. The second is fun but would probably be a lot more fun if the obvious guest appearances weren't so distracting. Perhaps if I had no clue at all who the people *might* be I wouldn't have been trying to figure it out. And since I had no clue who they really *were* supposed to be, it was excessively distracting. The third short novella was excellent.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Interpretations...

This morning I had a dream that I had my own dojo.

It was a long narrow unit on the end of a stip mall. The walls were bare cinder block, the floors cement. Chunks of rebar and construction debris made little piles here and there and the florescent lights hung on wires. There were no windows.