Blog Without A Name

My goal is to become a veterinarian because I love children

Back a couple days ago when I updated my poor, underfed Books Read list with Mockingjay, someone asked me what I thought of the Hunger Games Trilogy.  I said then that I was still thinking about it.

I think I’ve reached the end of that.

Warning!  If you have not read the Hunger Games sequence, and object to having your reading experience spoilt, you might want to stop here.  You have been warned.

Right, then.

The very first thing I noticed about The Hunger Games was that the world-building sucks.  No, really; it does.  The place just doesn’t hang together at all, and the reader is forced to suspend disbelief like a wild crazy suspending thing for the first, eh, half of the first book, before your brain finally says, “Oh, all right!  It’s that way Because The Author Said So. Fine, then.”  That’s OK, though, because nobody was reading The Hunger Games for the world-building, anyway.

You read The Hunger Games sequence — if you read them at all — to find out What Happens to Katniss.  Who is unlikeable, smart, adaptable — and an unflinching and extremely compelling narrator.  Also?  The author makes an interesting choice:  she tells the story in first person.  I mean to say — Suzanne Collins?  Is a smart cookie.

Why?  Because across the trilogy, Katniss does some terrible, terrible things.  Had the tale been told in tight third, that little, little distance, granted the reader by the pronoun she? Would have made it too easy to judge Katniss and downplay her necessities.  It’s much, much easier to hate she than it is to hate I.

Mind you, there were frequent moments when I wanted to slap the child — and, again, Collins chose correctly, in making her heroine prickly and self-doubting.  And tough, did I say?

I’ve seen some discussions positing that trilogy is so over-the-top as to be unbelievable.  This is not unique with Suzanne Collins.  Back when I was a YA reading YA books, the problems the heroes were already over-the-top and casual, terrible suffering was the norm.  Possibly because the audience for YA feels everything so strongly, in real life.

I remember a book about children being kidnapped and imprisoned on an island to mine gypsum, of all things.  And another about an alien girl who brings sorry and tragedy on her new friend. When the two of them are imprisoned by the Really Nasty Police Type People, their heads are shaved.  The native girl immediately collapsed into an agony of shame, while the alien girl doesn’t care at all.  Old Yeller, anybody?

So, anyway, the over-the-topness, I think, is a mark of the genre.

Other things the author did right.

She gave Katniss clothes.  Beautiful clothes.  Yes, she professed to hate them — but that hit a sweet spot.

She gave Katniss two perfectly acceptable choices for boyfriend, and she let them both live up to their potential.  Different? Oh, my, yes.  But equal in their different powers.
She allowed Katniss to not understand what was going on, and who was playing whom.  She also allowed Katniss the native wit to be able to figure some of this stuff out.  But — she’s only, what 15? — when the first book starts; legitimately, she’s naive.

She allows Katniss — and the rest of the characters — to show cracks from the treatment they’ve been subjected to.  To survive the Hunger Games is not a victory.  To do that, you will have killed, or outlived, many people, and even perhaps murdered people you cared about.

Things she did wrong.  IMHO, there was, as President Snow himself said, no reason for Prim to die.  That?  Was over-the-top.

Would I recommend the series?  Sure, why not?  The things the narrative wants to discuss — personal responsibility; how to figure out who to trust, and how far; that actions, deeds and thoughts have very real consequences, not all of them pleasant? — are all worthy topics.

So — Scott!  Sorry you asked?

Well, here’s something exciting

One of the (thousands) of things that I let let slide when I’m writing is answering — and often reading — email.  Which is why I’m late to announce that Katharine Kimbriel — that’s K.E. Kimbriel to you — has re-released her stunning and long-out-of-print SF novel Fires of Nuala, as an ebook through Book View Cafe.

If you’re really patient, you can read the novel in serial, one chapter a week until it’s done, for free, but trust me, you’re not gonna be that patient, once you read the first chapter.  Here: read it now.

Kathi is also planning to re-release the other two Nuala books — Hidden Fires and Fire Sanctuary — as ebooks through Book View Cafe.  Look for Hidden Fires before the end of the year.

For those who have managed to miss the work of K.E. Kimbriel, Kathi’s Official Website is here

…and you can find her on Live Journal.

Books read in 2010

Mr. Monster, Dan Wells

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins

I Am Not a Serial Killer, Dan Wells

Deceiver, C.J.Cherryh

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Half Magic, Edward Eager

Unknown, Rachel Caine

The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

Sunshine, Robin McKinley

Bone Crossed, Patricia Briggs

‘Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

The Ten-Cent Plague, David Hajdu

Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart

Books read in 2010

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins

I Am Not a Serial Killer, Dan Wells

Deceiver, C.J.Cherryh

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Half Magic, Edward Eager

Unknown, Rachel Caine

The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

Sunshine, Robin McKinley

Bone Crossed, Patricia Briggs

‘Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

The Ten-Cent Plague, David Hajdu

Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart

. . .wow.  That’s just. . .pathetic.  Thank ghod for the New Yorker, I guess.

When last we saw our heroine…

…she had just handed a novel in to her editor on sudden death overtime.

There’s some validity to the argument that the urge to write is a sickness; the best is the aftermath of Having Written — which like recovering from a bad case of the flu.  You’re irritable, your brain is mushy, your balance is slightly off, and you feel that you’ve forgotten how to do quite simple and ordinary things, like, oh, drive a car.

Despite this, my next act after emailing Ghost Ship to Toni was to get in the Little Green Subaru and follow Steve to Augusta (following Steve because I wasn’t sure I could actually find Augusta) to drop this same LGS at the shop.

That task completed, Steve drove us out west, pausing at the Readfield Public Beach, where we walked the four feet of sand beach, admired the ducks, and, in the absence of small children (we qualifying as large children) used the swings and the jungle gym.

On the way home, Steve proposed take-out Chinese, which sounded splendid to me, so we feasted and thus to bed, and the next day early to work.

…over which we shall pass lightly, except to say that all of the Very Important Tasks that had Piled Up while I was away on Monday were retired and no babies died.

Came home after claiming the LGS from the shop, collapsed on the couch with Hexapuma, who graciously shared his floofy snowflake blanket, read a few pages of a book written by somebody who is not me, had dinner with Steve and early to bed.

Yesterday, arrived at the day-job to find a bomb threat in process.  Not in my building, fortunately, so I was free to go up to the office, and, later, down to the bottom of the campus for a budget meeting where there was, thank ghod, coffee, and also to tend to the various minutiae for which I of course live.  Came home, dealt with some professional correspondence, then back with Hex and the book to the sofa until Steve came home, soaked and bearing pizza.

Steve this morning  is leaving for AlbaCon, while I to the day-job.  My personal goal today is to make lists of all the various things that were let to lapse while Ghost Ship got done, order them, and, tomorrow evening, start in.  I have, I believe, eight months of bookkeeping to enter, which, along with recovering the kitchen, should fill up the weekend handily.

The plan for this evening, beside the list, is to finish reading my book, so I can start reading another one.

Thanks very much to everyone who offered felicitations on finishing Ghost Ship — and I hope you’re all doing fun and exciting things!

Liaden Universe® InfoDump No. 84

You (yes, YOU!) are invited to a stellar event!
Sharon Lee will be launching her first singleton fantasy novel, Carousel Tides, from the town that inspired it, Old Orchard Beach, Maine on Saturday, October 30, from 7 – 9 p.m. at Beggar’s Ride Studio and Gallery, 39 Old Orchard Street. There will be readings, raffles, good stuff to eat, beautiful things to look at, and convivial company.

For those who would like to tarry for a day or two on either side of the event – it doesn’t get any better than October at the Maine ocean – The Seaview Inn at 65 West Grand – right on the beach! – offers $20 off rack to book launch attendees who say the Secret Word (to find the Secret Word, go here:  when making their reservation The discount will apply for the length of your stay, so come early, stay late! This offer is good for phone reservations (1-800-541-8439) and reservations made off the Seaview website , but you must remember to include the Secret Word.

Steve and Sharon will be hosting a warm-up reception at the Seaview on Friday, October 29 from 7 – 9 p.m.  If you would like to come to this event, please RSVP to liadenuniverseATgmailDOTcom (where AT and DOT are replaced by The Usual)

I am very grateful to Jean Peterson Kamfonik, captain-owner of Beggar’s Ride for hosting the book launch; Becky, the front desk manager at the Seaview Inn, for her help; Steve Miller for his generosity and love over the last 30 years; and Old Orchard Beach, for inspiration.

Ghost Ship Pub Date Set
Baen has set the publication date for Ghost Ship in August 2011!

Publishers Weekly reviews Carousel Tides
As seen in the September 27 issue of PW:

“A tourist town in Maine hosts a war of faerie magic in this engaging urban fantasy. The fireworks begin when Kate Archer returns to Archers Beach, Maine, to search for her vanished grandmother, Bonny Pepperidge, and to assume Bonny’s role as Guardian of Fun Country, an amusement park whose carousel animals are actually exiled fae criminals. Almost immediately, Kate runs afoul of neighbor Joe Nemeier, a drug smuggler who sets his assassins after her. Then she learns from the local earth spirits that Bonny may have discovered the whereabouts of Kate’s mom, newly escaped form a pursuing demonic captor. Lee brings these disparate subplots together in a pyrotechnic finale that plays out magically behind the ordinary facade of smalltown Maine life, evoking much of the romance and magic of her popular Liaden series.”

Where in the world are Lee and Miller
Steve will be at AlbaCon, October 8 – 10 in Albany NY

Sharon and Steve will be signing at the Barnes and Noble Marketplace in Augusta, Maine on Saturday, December 4, beginning at 1 p.m.

Disclaimer Stuff
This InfoDump is a product of the Liaden Universe®, accept no imitations. You have received this message because you asked for it. If you wish to subscribe to the Liaden Universe® email list, go here:

Friday Wrap-Up

Busy week here in the north country.  Highlights include:

1.  Steve and I spent Sunday at BangPop! as vendors and panelists.  I had a wonderful time, and got a couple dozen Carousel Tides samplers into the hands of innocent people potential readers.  One nice lady even came back to thank me for the sampler, told me she was going to pre-order the book at her favorite store, was a little impatient that November was so far away, and asked what was wrong with Kate’s health.  Score!  We also got to be on TV.  Keep a sharp lookout about 38 seconds in.

2.  The page proofs for The Agent Gambit landed on Steve’s desk.   I know what he’ll be doing this weekend, while I’m sitting with Ghost Ship, laying in those suplots.  Psst!  Working weekend at the Cat Farm!  Pass it on!

3.  Last night was our gig at the Lithgow Library in Augusta.  Steve read from Mouse and Dragon, I read from Carousel Tides; we talked about the vagaries of the writing life, answered questions, and signed books.  We had a group of about nine interested folk, including two students who had driven up from Bowdoin College, so it was more like a gathering of friends than an Official Presentation — an illusion that was given more substance by the Lithgow Reading Room, which includes an Oriental rug, a grandfather’s clock and wing chairs so comfy I was prepared to sign a lease.  Many thanks for Robin for inviting us!

4.  On the way home — or possibly on the way to — the library, we stopped at Barnes and Noble so I could deliver an invitation to the Carousel Tides book launch to Stew, who’s been taking care of the Science Fiction section for a number of years now.  While we were there, I talked to Stacy, the community relations manager.  We’ve still got some details to work out, but it looks like Steve and I will be doing a signing either the last Saturday in November or first Saturday in December.  Watch this space for details!

5.  When we got home last night, there was an email waiting from Toni Weisskopf, our editor at Baen, attaching a very nice review of Carousel Tides that will-or-has appeared in the September 27 issue of Publishers WeeklyMoney quote: Lee brings these disparate subplots together in a pyrotechnic finale that plays out magically behind the ordinary facade of smalltown Maine life, evoking much of the romance and magic of her popular Liaden series.

6.  Today is Friday.  My weekend is totally committed to Ghost Ship.  Psst!  Working weekend at the Cat Farm!  Oh, wait; I said that.

So, what’re your plans for the weekend?

Carousel Tides Book Launch Progress Report One

AsyouknowBob, I’ll be sending Carousel Tides off in fine form from the town of its birth, Old Orchard Beach, Maine, on Saturday, October 30, from 7 – 9 p.m.

Jeanne Peterson Kamfonik, captain-owner of Beggars Ride Studio and Gallery, at 39 Old Orchard Street, will be hosting the book launch.  There will be readings, raffles, good stuff to eat, beautiful things to look at, and convivial company.  Really, this is going to be splendid!  Y’all should definitely plan on coming by.

But, wait, there’s more!

I’m just got off the phone with Becky, the manager at the Seaview Inn, 65 East Grand — for those who aren’t familiar with Old Orchard Beach, yes, that is on the beach — and she’s so excited, she’s offering 20 percent off rack for any room at the Seaview to book launch goers who mention the Secret Word “carousel” when making their reservation.  If you want to come in a day early or stay a couple days late to, yanno, enjoy the ocean or peep some leaves, the discount will apply for the length of your stay.  This discount offer is good for phone reservations and reservations made off the Seaview website, but you must remember to include the Secret Word.

Steve and I stayed at the Seaview last year, and had a wonderful time.

*happy sigh*

I’m so pleased with how well this is coming together, and how delightfully helpful people in Old Orchard, and elsewhere, are.

For those who are still not sure they want to come All The Way to Maine to be part of this Happening, I’ll throw out one more incentive:

The last time I threw a party was when Steve and I moved into the present iteration of the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, 18 years ago.  Who knows when I’ll throw another one?

Seriously, you don’t want to miss this.

Here ends Carousel Tides Book Launch Progress Report One.

Bloodletting and other auctorial pastimes

The day-job lives in a pleasant, if intermittently too-damn-hot, office on what you, being unInitiated, would call the third floor of an old brick building.  In order to get to the door of the office, one needs to climb a rather steep set of stairs, turn a corner on the landing at the library level (the “first floor”), and climb another set of stairs, equally as steep.

Students like to arrive at the library early, which is commendable of them, and loiter on the landing, often in packs, sometimes in little drifts of one, wilting against the rail.

There’s usually at least one student sitting on, or sprawled over, the first set of four stairs of the second staircase.

Often, they kinda skooch over an inch, to “give (me) room to pass”.  Just as often, they stick their finger in their off ear and continue talking on the cell, pretending they’re on Mars — or I am.  Some actually do get up and smile and say, “Sorry,” but those are rare.

This morning brought me three boys on the landing, talking and cutting  jokes as they waited for it to Be Time — and a fourth boy sitting all over the first four stairs, his cellphone laid handily by, his calculator ditto, a pack on the stair under his lap — really, he was awfully comfy.

And there wasn’t an inch for me to skooch by in.

I stopped, planted the point of my umbrella on the rug and contemplated him.

His buddies stopped talking.

The boy on the stairs kind of blinked at me, and tried a smile.  “Am I in the way?”

“Indeed you are,” I assured him.

To his credit, he got up, shifted his stuff and moved down to the landing to let me by.

. . .and had completely re-established his stairway office by the time I’d reached the top of the flight.

This evening, as I was leaving work, three young lads were walking toward me, taking up all available sidewalk room, none of them giving the least indication that they’d seen me.  I stopped where I was, blocking one young man, who stopped, blinked, and said, “UmAh?”

“The words you are looking for,” I said, “are excuse me.”

He blinked again.  “Excuse me,” he said, and dropped back to let me by.

. . .So that was my day before I got to the vampires, to find out that my records suddenly showed me living at a house in a location I’d never heard of.  The clerk fixed that, amid much wonderment and confusion from her and her supervisor (“It shouldn’t do that” may be the most comical phrase in English), and set me loose in the waiting area.

I was eventually called by the vampire, whose job it was to draw blood for another thyroid test.  The endocrinologist in Augusta “doesn’t see people with thyroid problems” (um, what?), and the next nearest, in Lewiston, called my primary care doctor to ask why I was being referred since my readings were — wait for it — “normal.”  Which is fairly discouraging.  Hence, the new blood test.

Steve, in the meantime, has written and posted the synopsis for Ghost Ship, by request of the good folk at Baen.  You can read it here, if you’re curious.  Warning!  May contain spoilers.

Ghost Ship is scheduled to be published in August 2011, roughly in time for the Reno WorldCon.

And now, having had Adventures, if not precisely Alarums and Excursions, I’m going to try to do some work.

Hope everybody has a splendid weekend!