Archive for June, 2005

6/25/05: That’s me all over

It appears that my story “Tk’tk’tk” from the March issue of Asimov’s has been translated into Spanish (in issue 19 of Asimov Ciencia Ficcion) and reviewed in Finnish. The best translation I’ve been able to come up with for the Finnish review is as follows:

Myyntihenkilö is vieraalla planetary shop tietokonejärjestelmää , only kielimuurin for ploy no really affair. And eventually husband waste omaisuuttaan väärinymmärrysten for and starvation began became , until husband eventually discover locally vegetarian restaurant , whereof may edible grub. Glorious good tale kielimuurista kultturien sometimes. Loppuratkaisu oli anew the idealist nössö.

That’s definitely my story, and it sounds like they liked it… I think. I also got two short story rejections on Friday, and finished the proposal for novel #2. I’ll be stuffing things in envelopes tomorrow.

6/20/05: Oh, now I get it

As faithful readers will no doubt recall, I picked up an iPod along with my new iBook. Well, it sat in the box for a while, but I got it up and running a couple of weeks ago… a nice UI, to be sure, but really not much different than a portable CD player. But I plugged away, loading up five or six CDs per evening, until I now have about two days of music on there (only about 1/8th of its capacity), and this evening I hooked up the little thingie so it can play through the nearest radio… …and now I get it. It’s Radio My Favorite Songs All The Time, and
every day’s a no-repeat day with no commercials. A guy could get used to this. On the writing front… the synopsis for Gaia’s Blood is up to about 3500 words and the plot is actually moving now… maybe too fast. I’ll probably have to rejigger it to smoosh the exposition around before I send it anywhere.

6/16/05: Bleah

Spent the evening working on the outline for my second novel, working title Gaia’s Blood. 2000 words of outline so far and I’m still in the opening chapters; I need to make things happen faster. Still no definite word from the editor on the first novel, but I’ve already been rejected by two agents so far. Bleah. I’ve been working very hard for the past few days at work, productive and useful stuff but not leaving a lot of energy for anything else. Also, in case I haven’t mentioned it, I’ve moved from my old cube to a new “bullpen” with two other people, both UI designers. I was a little worried about lack of privacy, but the space is large enough that it hasn’t been an issue so far, and it’s nice to have other people to bounce ideas off of. We’ve equipped the area with furniture from ScanDesign, lots of design magazines, and fun stuff like a giant inflatable T.Rex. We also have a lot of windows, which is great but I hope it will not be a problem when it starts to get sunny. Not that we’ve had any sun lately — it was cool, gray, and drippy today, as it has been most days for weeks. Some of my East Coast and Midwest friends are complaining about the heat, but at the moment I wouldn’t mind seeing some of that. I wore my leather jacket and hat to work again today. In June. Feh.

6/11/05: Howl

Last night I saw Howl’s Moving Castle. Today I have the song “I Should Be Allowed To Think” by They Might Be Giants going through my head. This tells you something about how my brain works. (Bonus points if you can trace the references.) I recommend this movie. It was lush, exciting, and emotional, with warm and believable characters and gorgeous, gorgeous animation. I haven’t read the source book, but we went with a friend who is a huge Diana Wynne Jones fan, and it sounds like Miyazaki changed it almost completely (for example, the book has none of the movie’s steam-powered automobiles or flying machines, and the scarecrow in the movie is friendly and helpful instead of being terrifying as in the book). But if you like Miyazaki you’ll love this movie. It’s even more visually sophisticated than Princess Mononoke, but there’s much less ooze and violence, and the plot makes more sense. Mind you, the plot is still rather tenuous and indistinct, at times incomprehensible, but that’s Miyazaki for you. I’d like to see it again with subtitles. Most of the voices in this dub are fine (I particularly liked Billy Crystal as the fire demon, others disagreed) but I didn’t care for the voice of Howl and I bet the original Japanese voice suited the character-as-drawn better.

5/31/05: Wiscon report

Well, we’re back home from Wiscon. Ate too much, slept too little, exercised not at all. Had a great time. For me this Wiscon was not so much a feminist convention as a writers’ convention. I spent most of the con hanging out with writers, and the program items I attended were almost all on the business and/or craft of writing, from the writers’ workshop bright and early Friday morning to the “writers in mid-career” discussion group at the dead tail end of Monday afternoon. Some people asked me what I was doing in the workshop, and I replied that I was there for the same reason they were — to learn. Mostly one learns from the critiquing process (it’s easier to spot flaws in one’s own work after seeing them in others’) but in this case there was a pretty strong consensus that the antagonist’s conversion at the climax was insufficiently motivated. Now I have to figure out why he does what he does. Also, no one believed that an impoverished loner living in a shack in the woods could possibly have that many guns. Unfortunately the shack, and the guns, are drawn from life. But just because something is true doesn’t make it plausible, so that little darling must die. The mid-career writers’ discussion was even more valuable. Pat Murphy, who convened it, warned me that I might not be quite “mid-career” enough for this (she is considering defining “mid-career” as “has had at least one novel remaindered”) but I attended anyway and found it a validation of both my fears and my hopes. It’s nice to be able to hang out with other people who know that success can sometimes be as stressful as waiting to succeed. In between I spent time with many wonderful people, including Elizabeth Bear, Kristine Smith, Leah Cutter, Charlie Allery, Jed Hartman, Maureen McHugh, and many many more. It’s a hell of a fine crowd for a convention of less than a thousand people (I keep thinking it’s much bigger than that) and every time I turned around there was someone else I wanted to talk to. Exchanged business cards with a couple of agents and an editor, too. My reading on Friday night went reasonably well — we had about a half-dozen people and they seemed impressed with the novel’s new opening. The other program items I was on also went well. I was concerned that I might not have enough expertise to hold my own on the panel about David Reimers, subject of the book As Nature Made Him, given that two of the other panelists were transgendered and the remaining one was the author of Why Men Hate Sex, but I did find some things to say and several people told me after the panel that what I’d said had been sensitive and well-stated. I guess I know more about the transgender and intersex communities than most people, even at Wiscon. The other two panels, on business in SF and gender modification in SF, turned out to be more about corporations and gender (respectively) in the real world but they were still lively and interesting discussions. After the first hour or so of the Tiptree auction Kate and I got up to go to the Tor party before it got too crowded. But we’d made two mistakes: 1) sitting in the front row, and 2) being known to the auctioneer. Ellen spotted us walking out and insisted we sit back down. So we borrowed a Michael Swanwick mask from Eileen Gunn and tried to sneak out behind it. That didn’t work too well — Ellen grabbed me and hauled me up on the stage where she could keep an eye on me, and Kate took advantage of the fracas to slip away. I looked so pathetic that they passed the hat to free me, and wound up collecting about $110 (plus another $80 from those who wanted to keep me there). Next year I’ll try to be more inconspicuous. Many fine meals were eaten — Japanese, French, Indian, Nepali, Himalayan (those might be the same cuisine, but they were two different restaurants) as well as a couple of traditional American meals and fresh baked goods from the farmers’ market. Many were among the best meals I’ve had this year; I’ve never had a really bad meal in Madison. No cheese curds this time, though, nor the traditional stop at the noodle place. What else? The crowd on Sunday night was all turned out in film noir finery, with many a trench coat and slinky dress, and someone took a picture of me with the Maltese Falcon. Later that night I wound up in a hallway party with Barth Anderson and some nice people from Pittsburgh and Indiana whom I’d never met before. I missed the Campbell nominees’ cream-pie duel but not the aftermath. I discussed Los Alamos with Ellen Klages and got cold feet about that novel idea (she said that if I did less than two years of research I’d be in over my head). After that conversation I was worried that I had no other novel ideas on the back burner, but on Tuesday morning in the shower I had a key insight on another idea — a short story idea originally, but I found a way to make it novel-sized — and now I’m really excited about that one. It’s a little bit Thomas Covenant, a little bit Connecticut Yankee, and a little bit Narnia, but like Remembrance Day it uses the reader’s expectations about this type of story against them. I love playing with the reader’s head. All in all it was a fine, fine convention and I’m really looking forward to next year’s, which being the 30th Wiscon promises to be extra-special. But there was a bit of a weather delay in Denver coming home, so we got home late and I’m running on about five hours’ sleep. So, to bed.