I’ve migrated…

over to Tumblr.  Here, to be more precise.  (http://munrovian.tumblr.com/)

I say a bit less over there, but lie a bit more.  Or do I?  Either way, please do come and visit.

This blog will sleep on in its cryogenic tube.  Sleep tight, little blog. 

Quote of the day

As a boy he had never dreamed of an age when there was no song left, but still some heart.

Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer

Quote of the day

Victor LaValle, in conversation with Madeleine Monson-Rosen at Bookslut:

It has always seemed to me that realism attempts to describe what daily life looks like while the fantastic attempts to express what daily life feels like. Getting evicted from your home — I mean genuine court-ordered, City Marshal enforced eviction — can feel like an episode from a piece of Gothic fiction. The reportorial aspects of realism just aren’t going to capture the matter. I can’t fathom how only one type of writing — whether realism, the fantastic, romance, mystery, etc. — can ever summarize life on its own. Using all of it — within the same book, sometimes within the same sentence — seems like the only sensible way to try and capture the whole spectrum of human experience. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

I have The Devil in Silver waiting on my Kindle.  Looking forward to it.

Surfacing

Oh, it’s been a while since I’ve posted, and ain’t that the way?  There is so much to say, there is nothing to say.  I’m not what you’d call a naturally gregarious person–when I was a kid I wanted to be a hermit when I grew up.*  Sometimes you just have to break the ice a little, though.

So, Coursera.  I’ve been lurking in the back rows of a course on fantasy and science fiction literature for the last couple of weeks.  Or maybe I’ve been auditing?  It’s free, low-pressure, and pretty high quality.  The course instructor is Eric Rabkin at U Michigan, and the course runs from July 23 through Oct 1.  Texts run from Grimm Brothers through Ursula K. LeGuin, lectures are broken into bite-sized pieces on video.  You can join in anytime.

It’s funny, we pretty much give up on learning things once we graduate and get jobs.  Or at least, there’s no further cultural support for continuing to take classes unless they’re Crossfit or cooking. When really, taking classes is one of the most awesome things in the world.

I finished reading a book the other day and right before I plunged into the next one, I felt a moment of sadness that reading is such a dislocated, personal experience.  I mean, I like that it’s personal, I just wish that there were some widely-accepted forum in which grown-up people could continue to think and talk and generally better themselves in the brain region, after graduation and induction into a cubicle.  Because really, what is out there??  Book groups, I guess.  Yeah, that’s…hit or miss.  Sad.

Anyway, here are some things that are good for your brain and its peripheral devices:

Okay, actually, one of those things will probably not enhance your brain significantly.  But North Korea is very depressing, so.

We are headed for Lawless in the near future, since apparently it hits theaters tonight.  This is a movie that stars both the delightful Tom Hardy and the undelightful Shia Leboeuf.  If I were Matt Bondurant I’d be alternately laughing and crying bitter, bitter tears.

*  True fact.  You can ask childhood best friends about this.  Probably not an indication of great mental health.

Video

Bob Ross, autotuned writing coach

Bob Ross reassures the weary writer. “Relax, let it flow. There are no limits here.”

Book review: Rootless, by Chris Howard

A quick review of Rootless, a YA novel by Chris Howard, coming out in November 2012.  Thanks to Netgalley and Scholastic for providing the ARC!

 

 

Continue reading

Blake Charlton, George R.R. Martin, and Lois McMaster Bujold walk into a room…

And about six hundred people rush to follow.

The ALA Library Information Technology Association and Tor Books hosted another science fiction and fantasy author talk at ALA this year.  I have to say, this is a pretty awesome public service these folks are doing.  If you wanted to see GRRM talk in Portland, you’d pay at least $26 for a ticket to the Aladdin, and you still wouldn’t get in.  (If Literary Arts unbent a little, maybe you could pay $75 to see him at the Schnitzer…and still not get in.)  Getting to see these great folks talk for free, in a venue big enough to accommodate just about everyone, is pretty awesome.

It’s never very useful to summarize these things, except maybe for the broad strokes.  (That’s why we go to them in person.)  In very broad strokes, all three speakers touched on the ability of fantasy and science fiction to empower its readers, both literally and metaphorically.

Blake Charlton is funny, energetic, and knows how to keep a talk moving and an audience happy. He fell in love with fantasy literature because it was the “literature of ability”–as a dyslexic kid who grew up thinking he was stupid, fantasy helped him dream of being powerful.  And now he’s a Yale graduate, Stanford medical student, and author of two fantasy novels, Spellbound and Spellwright.  So, yeah.

Lois McMaster Bujold, who should probably be Dame McMaster Bujold by now, talked about getting letters from people who told her that her books helped them through bad times, and how moving that could be.  During the question period, someone asked her about Miles Vorkosigan, the hero of her Vorkosigan Saga books.  Miles has congenital physical handicaps, including brittle bones, a spinal deformity, and dwarfism. Did McMaster Bujold have any trouble publishing a book about a disabled hero?  Sounds like no.  How and why did McMaster Bujold choose such an unlikely character for a hero?  Sounds like he walked on stage that way.  In other words, sounds like Miles is a pretty awesome, compelling character (I haven’t read any of those books yet–but will look them up now.)

George R.R. Martin, in his trademark cap and suspenders, talked about growing up poor in the small town of Bayonne on the New Jersey waterfront.  The family had so little money that they could only afford to take the excursion ferry to Rockaway Beach NY once a year–when the Democrats sponsored a free day.  (The Republicans sponsored a sailing too, Martin said, but it cost money.  Make of that what you will.)

Martin mentioned that his mother’s family had once had money in their small town.  Their home in the projects was only a few blocks from old family seat, now sold off and housing a new family.  He described regularly walking past that old house, which was dredged in bittersweet family memories.  Early origins for his  themes of lost greatness and faded glory.

Martin stumbled over fantasy literature in thirty-five-cent pulp paperbacks, slowly acquiring enough to fill up the tiny shelf in the headboard of his bed.  He recalled surveying his book collection in a lordly fashion.  (“Eight books!  I have eight books!  Eight of them!  There they are!”)  Recently, he built an addition to his house to hold his expanding library, he said–and it’s already full.  Librarians everywhere relate.

There was an obligatory question about when his next book will be out (“Every time someone asks him that, he kills a Stark.”) and another about when he’ll write a gay character who isn’t punished horribly (“When will I write any character who isn’t punished horribly?”)  And then, amazingly, it was time to pack up and go.

Big thanks to Tor and Baen Books, who gave away several hundred books to attendees.  I had the chance to talk to Baen’s Senior Editor Jim Minz shortly after the panel, and he was a super-smart, friendly guy.  Baen offers about 100 of their books for free online, and when I (sort of stupidly) asked him how they can do that, he laughed and said basically, “It’s great for sales.  Dummy.”  Except he didn’t say the “dummy” part.

Thanks for the great session, Tor, Baen, and LITA!  And thanks to the panelists, who were all kinds of awesome.

Do you know how hard it is to find a picture of anyone from Game of Thrones SMILING?

ETA:  Thanks to Jim Minz for setting me straight on a few key points, including his name.  Mea culpa!!