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2016-05-29 01:39 pm

I have a new blog

So my friends Zibb and Mal, and I have started a new blog where we’re talk science fiction and fantasy and mastering Ahri from league of legends, in all corners of the media world from books to movies to games. You can find us over at Conceptual Neighborhood and while we’re still ramping up, there’s some good stuff there. (PS: thanks [info]lirazel for the name suggestion.)

I will probably still post here occasionally about things I’m thinking of that don’t necessarily fit the baliwick of Conceptual Neighborhood.

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2015-12-27 10:34 pm

Quotation Mania

On the blog itself, I keep in the sidebar, in prominent position above the fold, a random quotes file. Tonight I was adding one of my favorite quotes from Canadian politician Jack Layton (rest in peace).

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

I’m always looking for new quotes to add to the sidebar. I’ve got whimsical — I’ve got one from Legend of Zelda: Windwaker in there — and I’ve got serious. But I’m always looking for more.

So what’s your favorite quotation?

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2015-12-13 07:16 pm

Help fix Jill’s car!

My sister has the worst luck.

She’s been ill and has been told by her doctors to minimize the time working and try to focus on getting better. But in October, something happened that has made her really upset. In the span of a few short weeks, the brakes went, the ball bearing decided to be on the verge of failing, the battery died and had to be replaced, the starter stopped, and then worst of all…the timing belt broke.

And when the timing belt broke, the car broke too.

My sister has next to no money. The cost to replace an engine is prohibitive, but the whole family needs that car running again. So we figured we’d see if the Internet wanted to help us out.

I know it’s a tight season, but anything you can donate will be a help.

You can find the donation widget in the sidebar (third down) or by going to https://www.youcaring.com/jillscar.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give. And even if you can’t help, maybe you could pass it on.

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2015-12-13 12:26 am

A bit of excitement.

Not the recommended kind, though.

I’ve been getting a lot of headaches, sometimes very migraine-like, lately. I’ve got a consult in with the neurologist for a week and a half from now, but for the moment, I’ve been taking Aleve at the first signs of a headache and resorting to the heavy guns (sumatriptan) if it doesn’t go away. If the headache wasn’t making me feel useless, the sumatriptan puts me out, or at least makes me very groggy. Hence, heavy guns.

So, I’m sitting there, scanning documents, when my head starts to hurt. Ah, I say, I have a headache, and reach for my backpack where I keep a bottle of naproxen sodium, which is generic Aleve. I count out two pills, put them in my mouth, and take a swig of my soda in order to swallow them.

First pill goes down fine. Second pill? Not so much. I immediately cough badly (I think it tried to go down the windpipe), but after a moment, I speak, so I’m obviously not choking on a stupid pill. Hell of a way to end a life, eh? “Here lies katster, choked on a pill.”

Unfortunately, it felt like it was still lodged in my throat in a rather uncomfortable way. Some water, some tea, and some food seemed to make the pain die down, but it reappears randomly, sometimes feeling like it’s moved and is touching where my gag reflex is, or that it’s in the tube where my ear connects to my throat, or just stuck.

Everything I’ve read on the Internet says that it’s probably not actually a pill stuck there, but that my throat is mighty irritated because it left a scratch or a bruise in the throat when it did momentarily get stuck. I guess the nerves in your throat are particularly sensitive. I’ll keep an eye on it, and if it gets worse, I’ll go see a doctor. If it stays the same, I have an appointment with my primary care doctor on Tuesday.

But trust me, it’s not much fun to feel like there’s something lodged in your throat that you can’t get out.

…yeah, that was my day. How was yours?

(PS: Tombstone courtesy of Tombstone Builder and my own demented mind. If you can’t laugh at things…)

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2015-12-11 10:35 pm

What’s in a name?

So…I ponder weird things in the shower.

Today’s thoughts started with the saw I like to use about whether people from Roseville were Rosevillains. (It’s actually Rosevillians, with the i and a transposed, but that got me thinking.

Why is what we call people from a place so weird? For example, I’m a Californian. People that live in the biggest city in the metro area are Sacramentans, and over in the Bay Area, we have San Franciscans and Oaklanders and Berkelians/Berkeleyites. (And also whatever people from San Jose call themselves, which I haven’t figured out.)

People from New York are New Yorkers, people from LA…well, that’s one of the weird ones, as they’re Angelenos. Philadelphians and Washingtonians. Bostonians and Torontonians. Ohioans and Michiganders. (I think the later’s right…)

Expand out a bit more, and it gets really weird if you think about Europe. Europeans, yes, but you have French and Germans and English and Spaniards, Dutch and Danes and Norse and Swedes and Finns and Poles and Greeks. But you also have Italians and Russians and Hungarians and Romanians.

And Asia. Chinese and Japanese and Vietnamese, but also Indians and Laotians and Indonesians and Cambodians. Afghans and Filipinos, Mongolians and Koreans. Then you have Pakistanis and Iraqis and Israelis, but also Syrians and Lebanese and Egyptians, Kurds and Turks and Turkmen.

Even out a bit farther — Earthlings and Martians. Although I admit, I’m fond of Terran as an alternative to Earthlings.

I think we can work out a few rules from this.

Places that end in -ia, like California and Colombia and Russia get an n shoved on the end, thus Californians and Colombians and Russians.

Places that end in -o tend to end -an, and sometimes, but not always get the o chopped off. Sacramento and San Francisco are Sacramentans and San Franciscans, but Idaho and Ohio are Idahoans and Ohioans.

-ing will sometimes get -er tacked on the end. Same with k.

Places ending with the letter n often, but not always, have an -ian tacked on. (Berlin/Berliner is a notable exception, as is Japan/Japanese.)

And some places are just irregular. I’m looking at you, Europe.

Yeah. All this from a stupid thought in the shower.

What do they call people from where you’re from?

(Sign from this wonderful article celebrating Boring, Oregon’s sister city matchup with Dull, Scotland.)

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2015-12-10 01:52 am

I’m watching television

For those who know me, this is a rather shocking move. But it’s something my mom likes to do, and I’ve been enjoying watching shows with her. I’m usually busy, so I got sidetracked into watching a couple shows with her tonight, and I’m slightly late by the clock for this post. But let me tell you what we’re watching.

Scorpion: My mom discovered this show, about a bunch of supergeniuses solving crimes and hard problems. She drug me into watching it with her because…wow, this is hard to write in a blog post, particularly when I’m not feeling it. But I’m pretty smart, probably a genius, and my mother is endeared by the show because, well, it’s pretty much me. I’m not a human calculator or an excellent hacker or somebody who knows everything there is to know about psychology and behavior or a mechanical genius, but I enjoy watching them use their skills to solve the problems. (And heck, even sometimes I manage to guess what the problem is, and understand their technobabble.) That’s why it’s fun, and I’ve rather come to care about these characters.

Supergirl: I said to Ben (he’s the guy that runs the comic book shop I frequent) the other day that I tend to enjoy superheros more on the screen than in the books. Part of this is simply because there’s so much frickin backstory in comics, and yes, I know comics go through retcons and reboots, but I’m one of those people who gets annoyed about not being able to start at the beginning. I remember my mom watching Lois and Clarke when I was a teenager, and I think she enjoys watching this. Besides, it’s about a girl kicking ass and taking names. There are three very strong woman characters, and each of them kicks ass in their own way. Besides, the owner of the big media company goes by Cat. How cool is that? (Okay, I spell my nick with a K, but it’s still cool.)

Limitless: What if you can take a pill and become the smartest person on the planet? What would you do with that power? What if it comes with bad side effects? I know it’s a spinoff of the movie with the same name, which I’ve not seen, but man, the science fiction in this one is awesome. Also, the main character is an unreliable narrator, but his narration is pretty witty. And well, I sorta feel like Brian Finch sometimes. Creative as hell, but floundering in a world that’s not made for that.

Blindspot: Also a crazy SFnal idea wrapped in an FBI procedural, although this show couldn’t be any less like Limited if it wanted to be. This is a very serious show, about a girl who has her memory wiped and tattoos all over her body, giving clues to crimes that haven’t been committed yet. I haven’t figured out how they did this yet, but it should be interesting. And it’s a very nifty well-crafted use of a simple SFnal idea placed in the modern world — what if we have drugs that can completely wipe a person’s memory?

Quincy, ME: Yeah, I know, the old timers are going to go, wow that show, and the folks my age and younger are going to go WTF, but Mom and I have been on an interesting kick. We’ve been watching cop shows — all of Dragnet, all of Adam 12 (RIP Martin Milner!), and all of CHiPs. Now we’ve started in on Quincy. It’s a fun show to watch simply because you have to remember they didn’t have DNA to help them identify victims and murderers, and the way they go about doing it involves some pretty neat scientific trickery. It’s also neat to see a snapshot in time of the 70s, and Jack Klugman is always a joy to watch act.

A couple other shows that I’ve been watching on and off as interest (and time) waxes and wanes:

Walking Dead (No spoilers, please, I’ve only gotten through the season that ends with them locked in a boxcar): It’s not about the zombies. It’s about the human will to survive even when everything has changed overnight. And it’s about the monsters we become as we try to do that. Yeah, I’ll say it. The monsters in this show aren’t the zombies — it’s the living. And yet I love it. (I also love the comic book series it’s based on, for much the same reason.)

Agents of SHIELD: I am about halfway through the first season — I got diverted because there was an episode involving characters from the Thor movies, which I hadn’t seen at the time, and I haven’t managed to go back to it yet.

Clone Wars: My friends introduced me and it looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Murdoch Mysteries: A Canadian show about a detective in the Toronto Police Department at the turn of the century. No, the earlier one, the 19th to the 20th. It’s fun because mysteries are fun and the main character, William Murdoch, is smart, but a bit oblivious. And I <3 Constable Crabtree. Hard to find in the States, some of the early seasons are on Netflix. I may have to make a trip to Canukistan particularly for the point of buying this show.

Geez, I’ve prattled on. Anyway, that’s what I’m watching.

Tomorrow: bacon soda!

EDITED: Changed name of Blindsight to the correct name of Blindspot. There’s a Peter Watts novel with the former name that was intriguing, and I’m constantly calling the show that. Pardon the error.

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2015-12-09 02:35 am

I don’t feel like blogging…

First of all, it doesn’t matter what the clock says. It’s not the next day until you go to bed. (There are reasons I fail at adulting sometimes…)

Anyway, I’ve had a pretty bad case of the eff it alls lately.

I’ve got some things I want to talk about, but it takes more mental space than I’ve really got at the moment to process them. Instead, I spent the evening showing Hobbit all the photos, including Dr. Penis. Okay, it’s an ad I saw in the SF subway at the Castro Street Station when I was in grad school. It’s not horribly expensive to go to San Francisco when you’re a student at Berkeley, and I was taking photos for a school project. Besides, the ad was to raise public awareness that the SF Department of Public Health had free treatment for syphilis, so it was a PSA. It was still hilarious.

Ahem.

So, i was reading an recent article on why you should buy soundcloud plays, fake vs real and much more. You can find it here or on the popusocial website.

Anyway, I’d like to start on the Bible Project, which is something I’ve been threatening for years, and this month seems as good of a time as any. Plus, I stumbled across a book at the used bookstore that’s given me another idea about books. I’d like to talk a bit about what’s going on in this country, but I’m not quite sure I’d like to go there. Between relatives and former schoolmates who have rather opposite opinions of mine and a tendency to express this with some — what’s a nice word — choice words and because I’m job hunting and I don’t know who is going to read my blog, it seems rather unsafe.

I might do it anyway. Safe is relative.

But tonight I don’t want to blog.

Maybe tomorrow (today?) will be better.

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2015-12-07 10:14 pm

Kicking the dust off the old blog…

So a couple very dear friends of mine, Richard and Jennifer Crawford, do this thing in December where they proceed to blog every day. (They already commit to writing a novel in November — and Richard is my co-herder of Wrimos in the Sacramento area.) They’ve done it the past few years, and I’ve always thought of trying, but December is hard — especially after November. It’s this little thing called Holidailies, and this year they got put in charge of the whole shebang.

Anyway. I signed up this year, and I’m damned well going to do it, even if I’ve been pretty sick this last week and I’m still fighting a three-day old headache, the residuals of a cold, and the shiny new CPAP machine. I’m late to the party, yes, but I’m going to make it up. I missed the first six days of December (and it turns out even if I had been sick, I wouldn’t have been able to blog, thanks to a minor configuration error), so…I figure I need to have six days where I write more than one post.

This is completely doable.

Anyway, to those who don’t know me, my name is Katrina and I live in the Sacramento metro region. For the longest time, I’ve had a signature line that, over the years, has included such things as “writer, dreamer, information herder, part-time philosopher, first baseman, wrangler of computers, Cal Bears fan, gamer, bookworm, science fiction junkie.” I’m currently an out of work system administrator/tech support/systems analyst. I am a diehard fan of the California Golden Bears, the sports teams of my alma mater (twice over), the University of California, Berkeley. My undergrad degree is in history and my master’s degree is in Information Management.

Oh, and I have always existed in a Heisenbergian state somewhere in Northern California — native of Redding, graduate of Berkeley, resident of Sactown. I’ve thought of moving, but I suspect that’s not a possibility now.

People say I’m nice, and I like to think so. My general philosophy in regards to retail employees is that their job is hard enough and they don’t need me to make it harder — so always ask nicely and say please and thank you, and if you’re angry, do your best not to take it out on the poor employee. That’s my general way of handling most things, which seems to surprise folks. I have a very long fuse, but I can get angry. I like the Unitarian Universalist philosophy of ‘the inherent worth and dignity of every person’ — even the bad ones, although that’s hard.

To wrap this up, this blog might gyrate wildly between deadly serious topics and frivolous light-hearted ones. I’m always thinking, and sometimes the thoughts are a bit weird.

If there’s anything you’re curious about, feel free to ask in comments. And sorry about the dust. One of my goals for 2016 is to use the blog more.

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2015-08-23 08:54 pm

Why I Voted the Way I Did…

So the Hugo Award ceremony has come and gone, and the results were a Puppy rout, including five separate invocations of No Award in the five categories Pups had locked the ballot. At this point, I’m not interested in replaying the cultural war mishmash of the last seven months, to be honest. I just wanted to do a quick examination of why I voted the way I did.

First of all, I should state that I’m not a puppy. If you didn’t know that by now, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve been dreaming of winning one since I was in high school and read Asimov’s pontificating about them, and I’ve been honored to be a participant in the process of choosing one since 2007, more or less. Some years are harder than others — the last couple have been eaten by personal problems. But I managed to vote this year.

This was my process:

1) Elimination of anybody who advocated that the Hugo Award should be destroyed. This affected only a small amount of people on the ballot, one of which was, of course the leader of one of the two slate campaigns. My reasoning for this was simple. If you express an interest in blowing the award up, then it’s fairly obvious that YOU DON’T WANT IT. This only affected three people, but eight nominations.

2) Reading all the stories. (And yes, despite my immediate elimination of the people above, I still read their stories, confirming that my decision as above was sane and rational — the works didn’t deserve the award anyway.)

3) Weighing all the stories in a complex matrix which did include, I admit, some bias against those folk who were going out of their way to accuse me, somebody who takes their Hugo voting rather seriously, of not bothering to read the nominated works. I read them — as I said, I take this *seriously*. In fact, there was a familiar name on the Puppy ballot this year — I voted for his novel to win best novel several years back. I don’t just go blindly in for the sake of diversity. This is important, Pups, as you will see in a moment.

I read and I read, and I read some more. And in the end, I backed away from my complete anti-Puppy pledge, voting for a couple of people here and there. Sadly, most of the works I did read were not worthy of a Hugo award, and I voted as such. However, I did end up giving votes to folks in both the short and long form editor campaigns — Jen Brozek is an awesome editor, and I expect she’ll win some legitimately soon enough, and I was impressed by the work Sheila Gilbert has edited.

There’s one editor I did place below no award that has the puppies screaming. That would be Toni Weisskopf, and this is my reason for doing so: I depend on the voting packet to help me with the editors. All I was given in regards to Weisskopf’s editing was a link to Baen Books. Weisskopf was not even the only Baen editor on this year’s ballot, and surfing over to that website gave me no clue as to who had edited what. If I cannot determine what you have edited, then I cannot fairly judge your work, and I must sadly concede that it is perhaps better to have no award be given than give an award which I cannot determine if the nominee is worthy.

If Ms. Weisskopf and Baen would like to prevent this in the future, perhaps either including a list of the works you have worked on in the packet or, if Baen is truly a tag-team sort of environment, mentioning what value you add to the process. I’m not all that familiar with Baen, partly because it’s not my particular cup of tea and partly because I get this feeling that I, even as a lifelong science fiction fan, am not particularly welcome in that particular publishing house.

But that’s the long and short of it. I voted based on what I read. It was a slog this year, instead of the joy it normally is.

I don’t think 2016 is going to be much better.

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2015-06-09 04:46 pm

It’s OK if You’re a Puppy

Let me begin by stating that I speak only for myself. I speak not for past employers, present employers, potential future employers, friends, Romans, countrymen, other science fiction fanatics, people who are not myself, and most definitely not for George R. R. Martin.

After that, let me add that I think Irene Gallo used words that were ill-chosen, and that she painted with way too broad a brush. As Eric Flint has said, “Words matter.” I think neo-nazi to describe anybody was probably a bridge too far, although I know of a couple of people that I might, in a spew of frustration and hyperbole, have chosen those words myself to describe them. This is why I try very hard not to blog when I’m angry.

However, with all that said, I don’t think Gallo is completely at fault here. We’ve all made bad choices of words, and the time she posted that statement (May 11), tempers were still a bit high. As we’ve dug through May, things seemed to be calming down and people were settling down to read and get through this. The most appropriate time to have brought this up would have been in the days after the comment was posted, but no, that wouldn’t have caused maximum damage.

Enter Theodore Beale. I absolutely despise the man. He reminds me of nothing less than the smarmy jerk in high school who believed he was smarter than everybody and therefore, the rules didn’t apply to him. This applies to his absolutely ridiculous pen name (Vox Day, “voice of god”, isn’t it funny?), the way he blogs, and generally most interactions I’ve observed from him. He’s cruel, he’s petty, and he enjoys every second of it. Indeed, Beale is probably the soundest evidence that karma doesn’t exist.

Why does Beale matter? Well, he stumbled across Gallo’s words two hours after she posted them. (Note that “stumbled” is the nice words here — I’m certain he’s been reading the facebooks, twitters, and blogs of various high up people in search of ammunition. In other contexts, we would call him a stalker.) Instead of saying anything when he found them, he took a screen shot of the exchange and put it away for a more advantageous weekend. Perhaps one when the outrage seemed to be dying down, and when people were starting to feel for a way to bridge the gap. Maybe also a weekend in which the SFWA, an organization that Beale has placed on his enemy list, was holding their awards ceremony.

And sure enough, guess what appeared on the Internet on Saturday?

I’ll grudgingly give Beale credit for this — he knows his army of sycophants, suck-ups, wannabes, and fellow travelers very well, and knew dropping that screenshot on the Internet would be like throwing raw meat to hungry dogs. All the outrage that had been dying down is back, kicked up yet another notch. And I’m certain this amuses him very much.

It strikes me that Beale doesn’t want dialogue. He doesn’t want us to understand each other, because if we can understand — if we can glimpse that the other side of the screen sits another human being not all that much different from us — then his culture war is dead. He cannot afford to lose that — it is his driving force and his motivator.

I’m a science fiction fan because I like to read, Beale. I’m not here for your bullshit culture wars, and I really wish you’d take them somewhere else.

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2015-05-19 03:28 am

The Voter’s Packet has arrived!

And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

I’m going to chronicle my reading here on this blog, but I wanted to do a quick rundown of what is in this year’s Hugo Voter’s Package. Sasquan released the package yesterday afternoon, and I’ve been spending a bit of time putting it all on my Kindle.

It’s been an interesting year for the Hugos and I think the voter’s pack reflects that. So, category by category, here’s what’s in the packet and my thoughts on the matter.

I should note, before I get started, that the Hugo Packet is a gift from the participants to the voters to make us more informed voters, and that I am entitled to none of it. Sometimes I make comments that skirt that ground, but I do truly wish to say thank you to the publishers, authors, artists, editors, and other varied participants who make this effort to help us to be informed voters. It is appreciated.

The same goes to the folks back at Sasquan central who are administering the Hugo Awards. This has been a crazy year, and your diligence, patience, and hard work are appreciated by this voter.

With all that said…let’s get to it.


NOVEL
3 complete novels:

  • The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison
  • The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson

2 extracts:

  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher
  • Ancillary Sword, Anne Leckie

My thoughts: Orbit continues the practice they did last year of including an excerpt of a novel in the package. Last year, they did it with Ancillary Justice, Neptune’s Brood, and Parasite and those novels went 1-2-3 in the voting, so it didn’t hurt them. Butcher is published by Penguin. The three whole novels are all Tor. It’s interesting that Tor (and Baen) seem to be the publishers that get that this is a goodwill thing. Ah well, I have a copy of the Butcher and I’ve read Ancillary Sword, although I would have loved to get another chance to make it fresh in my memory.


NOVELLA
All works made available.

My thoughts: It’s interesting that they put all five of John C. Wright’s nominations into one ebook, but I guess that saves time. I’m not sure if I’m up to reading all five Wright works back to back to back, so I may have to put in chasers. Luckily, swapping ebooks is not a hard process.


NOVELETTE
All works made available.

My thoughts: A minor quibble that the Flynn is only in PDF, but I can live with that. I’m getting these for free, after all, and my kindle does read them.


SHORT STORY

All works made available.

My thoughts: Wow. Baen included the whole book that one of the short stories was in. That’ll make for some fun non-Hugo reading. (I don’t really have a problem with Baen. They’re sci-fi — yeah, maybe a bit conservative and gun fetishy at times, but they’ve also got some really good authors, like Lois McMaster Bujold and Eric Flint. PS: If you haven’t been reading Eric Flint’s take on the whole Hugo kerfluffle, you really ought to check it out.


RELATED WORK:

4 complete:

  • “The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”, Ken Burnside
  • Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, John C. Wright
  • “Why Science is Never Settled”, Tedd Roberts
  • Wisdom from My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson

1 extract:

  • Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli

My thoughts: “The Hot Equations” is represented by a complete copy of Riding the Red Horse, which I believe covers entries in Related, Short Story, and Editor Short Form. It also covers the lone fiction credit for ESR in the Campbell, although that’s not stated in the notes attached to the files. “Why Science is Never Settled” is PDF only, as is the extract from Letters from Gardner. I wish there were a way to get a digital copy of Letters From Gardner because I’d like to read it in its entirety and $18.50 is a little steep for my budget at the moment. That said, I know the publisher of the book does good quality stuff (I have a copy of their version of Who Killed Science Fiction? around here.)


GRAPHIC STORY
4 works represented:

  • Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal
  • Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery
  • Saga Volume 3
  • Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick

My thoughts: The press release from Sasquan hints that the missing nominee (Zombie Nation #2) may be coming to the packet at a later date. It was also the only one that the guy who owns my comic book shop had never heard of. These two thoughts may or may not be related.


DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG/SHORT
No representation

My thoughts: This isn’t unusual. The Hugos are not the Oscars, and digital video isn’t quite there yet.


EDITOR SHORT FORM
Contributions from all active members

My thoughts: This is one of two categories affected by late withdrawals, so there is nothing from Edmund R. Schubert. (Of course, he’s put out, independently, what he would have submitted, and I need to go through that.) Day is represented by the aforementioned Riding the Red Horse and the works of John C. Wright elsewhere on the ballot. Schmidt includes the anthology he co-edited with Brozek; Brozek includes another anthology that she edited. Resnick put a list of what he’s edited together.


EDITOR LONG FORM
Editorial bibliography from Anne Sowards, editorial bibliography and sample chapters from Sheila Gilbert, and a link to editorial bibliography by Toni Weisskopf.

My thoughts: Perhaps the most interesting thing here is this note included with the file: “Vox Day has no submission.” I’m sure there’s a reason for it, but it’s hard to judge somebody in this category without a nod towards what they’ve edited. Can Day truly say that he’s been No Awarded because of evil social justice warriors when he can’t even provide an editorial bibliography? I assume that because Weisskopf’s link is to Baen Books, that she edits all the long form stuff coming out of Baen — there’s no easy link on the site to tell. And whatever happened to Jim Minz? (And I thought he was Baen too…) Maybe this is stuff that will get sorted out.


PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
Four artists have sample work in this category.

My thoughts: I glanced through the sample artwork, and by and far, all of it is good stuff. I’ll do closer diligence when I hit this category. The missing artist is Carter Reid, the artist of the missing graphic novel above, so I will have to assume that his delayed submission will cover him here.


SEMIPROZINE
All candidates have sample work.

My thoughts: Nothing to write home about here. Abyss and Apex only has a PDF copy of their semiprozine, whereas the other four included epub and mobi copies, but that, as I have noted before, is a minor quibble.


FANZINE
Three candidates have sample work.

My thoughts: This is the second Hugo category affected by a late withdrawal, and thus only has four members in it. The missing candidate is Elitist Book Reviews. (Again, guys, don’t go blaming your loss on an SJW conspiracy when you don’t get stuff into the packet.)


FANCAST
All fancasts have a sample episode.

My thoughts: I’m not big on podcasts — I read much faster than I listen. But I’m going to give all five of these a try. I need to make sure they get on my phone. All episodes are in the mp3 format — of course, that’s generally the standard on the Internet.


FAN WRITER
All writers have sample work.

My thoughts: Everybody’s present here. Freer, Sanderson, and Green have work in multiple formats, whereas Johnson and Mixon have PDF only, but again, a minor quibble.


FAN ARTIST
All artists have sample work.

My thoughts: Foster, Schoenhuth, and Aalto have a URL to see more of their work elsewhere on the web, but all artists contributed something to the package itself. I flipped through the work in the packet and found much to admire. And I really need to bug both Brad and Steve for fanzine art…


CAMPBELL (not a hugo)
Three writers have submissions in this category.

My thoughts: English, Chu, and Cordova all have something in the packet. I haven’t looked closely to see what those things are. I think Chu is a novel, and Cordova had two items — both may be novels or they may be stories. I think English is primarily a short story author at the moment, but I could be mistaken. Although there is no note, I know Raymond’s only professional sale has been his story in Riding the Red Horse, which we have elsewhere in the packet. I have no idea what’s going on with Nelson.

***

…phew. That took some time to write up.

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2015-04-07 09:57 pm

My Mind is My Own

Over the last few days, I have been voraciously combing the internet, reading anything and everything I can find on the nominees for the Hugo awards and wrestling with my own conscience. I think I have finally come to a conclusion as to what I am going to do.

I will read all the Hugo nominees as if this were a normal year. I cannot betray my own sense of professionalism and well, I’ve read Glenn Beck and the entire Left Behind series without throwing the books through the window or across the room. I am, as I said in my earlier post, not looking forward to this. I am not reading these because the Sad Puppies demand that I must — I am because I feel an obligation to my own conscience to do so, just as I would any other year.

That said, I will rank all the nominees on either the Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies slates below No Award.

There are some things on the ballot for which it pains me to have to do this. I have loved the Dresden Files ever since my good friend Eileen introduced them to me by giving me the books for Christmas — but Jim Butcher is on the slate. Guardians of the Galaxy was my favorite movie of the year and a work I might have actually nominated if I’d felt well enough to turn in nominations. Nope. The Lego Movie is right behind it in terms of movies I loved last year, and would have been a very close #2 to Guardians. Sorry.

I am especially grieved to make this decision in cases like Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Black Gate, and Annie Bellet. It grieves me because Jen Brozek, a person I know and respect, is on the short form editor ballot and I would love to see her win a Hugo.

But I can’t vote any of these folks above No Award. I am sorry, but this is what my conscience demands of me. I will read your work in my packet. I will consider you for my own nominations in 2016 — and I plan to participate in the nomination round next year. But any ranking you may earn by the quality of your work will go after No Award this year.

I have decided this because I care about the Hugo. I have cared about the Hugo ever since I found out about it in an introduction in one of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, and I dream of winning it someday. But in order to keep that dream alive, I have to make sure the Hugos survive. If it comes to a slate vs. slate situation, I would have even less chance of ending up on the Hugo ballot than I already did. So the only thing I can do is express my horror and displeasure at slate voting, and use what few tools I have to express that displeasure.

For those who are saying that I am only doing this because I disagree with the political stances of Sad/Rabid Puppies, I would be doing this if it were the John Scalzi/Making Light Slate of Rainbow Joy Kittens.

My mind is my own, and I make my own decisions.

It doesn’t really matter. I am just one person, and my blog is so minuscule that it won’t register. My vote is but a drop in an ocean, but it is mine. My mind, my thoughts, my opinions — they are my own.

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2015-04-05 03:23 am

Grimly and Without Joy

The 2015 Hugo nominations have come out.

Normally this is a great moment of satisfaction for me. I usually have not read all the nominees on the slate, so it’s like getting a Christmas present from my fellow science fiction geeks. Hugo nominations are generally so broad that what percolates up from the mass hive mind are usually stories that I don’t mind giving a bit of time to read and compare against each other. Most of the time, I find something interesting in this.

This process only works if it’s a true random percolation, though. The last few years, though, there has been a campaign called the Sad Puppies that suggests that the Hugo award is too liberal and too invested in identity politics, thus choosing works that are turgid and uninteresting instead of stories full of spaceships and laser guns and manly men, I suppose.

Now the first year of this slate, it fell under the radar. The second year, they managed to get a few works on the ballot — works I read, and in some cases, enjoyed. Were they truly Hugo-worthy? No, not as much as other things on the ballot, but with one exception, I didn’t mind reading them.

This wasn’t enough, I suppose. This year, the Sad Puppies managed to put together a slate. Not just one or two works in a category — that wasn’t enough. This was enough to disrupt the random percolation of works to the point where whole categories of the Hugo awards are dominated by this slate — and I wonder what I’m missing that would have risen to the level of a Hugo nomination in any other year. (I suppose I’ll find out when the long list comes out — it’ll be harder to dig up the works, but I might have to read them.)

I’ll read the works. I take my duty as a Hugo voter seriously, and I will rate the works as I see fit. I may end up ranking No Award above them all if I don’t feel any of the works nominated rises to the level of a Hugo in my opinion. It’s the best I can do in a situation I am obviously not happy about.

But I feel as if something I enjoyed has become a grim, thankless task. Politics is never far from any human endeavor, but this year, it feels like it’s all politics. Because here’s the part I elided around: part of the reason for this slate is that certain folks thought the Hugo wasn’t conservative enough.

Now I’ll freely admit, I’m not exactly conservative in my politics. I went to Berkeley, after all. But everything I was taught both in my deeply conservative home town and in liberal Berkeley is that you treat people with courtesy and respect, no matter where they’re from or what they look like. Do I always live up to this? I’m a human being, I’d be lying if I said I did. But it’s a good yardstick to work from.

There are people nominated this year that seem, from my vantage point, to go against this yardstick. Their words are, at best, ill-conceived, and at worst, vile hatred of anybody not like themselves. Bigotry and misogyny are rampant. Is this truly the best science fiction has to offer? I don’t think so, but apparently I’m wrong.

There’s a saying that when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. And while I’m not going to just toss every work on the Sad Puppies slate out without actually looking at them first — see the above about treating my duty seriously — I can understand why others would be tempted to do just that.

But it means this year’s reading will be done grimly and without joy.

I’ll probably have more to say about this in the future, as I start to read, but this will do for now.

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2015-01-10 01:23 am

A sunset and an update.

Hi, my name is katster and I like sunsets.

sunset

Sunset at the grocery store 1/9/2015

And an update on the situation in my last post.

I called the Giants and talked to somebody who’s part of the group who’s doing the trophy tour. She offered, if I could go to Vacaville on Tuesday, to make sure that I get to see them. She said they were surprised and overwhelmed by the response in Sacramento and that they’re thinking about bringing them back again so that more people get the chance to see them. As it was, they were there a few hours later than they planned even after they extended the time the trophies could be seen an extra hour. (Also that they’re thrilled to have the Rivercats, the local AAA team, as their shiny new Triple A affiliate.)

Jill can’t make it on Tuesday. I might go with her to Lodi in a month, but I’m thinking of going to Vacaville. The offer seems good. I’ll call on Monday and let her know that I think I’ll be there.

So, a happy ending for me, at least, even if it wasn’t for a lot of other people. Squeaky wheels get grease, I suppose.

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2015-01-07 10:07 pm

Heartache

The San Francisco Giants, my all-time favorite baseball team, said that they were going to have the trophy at their new Triple A franchise today, and that they would bring all three trophies. Having missed the stop on both the 2010 and 2012 trophies, I figured I’d go down to Raley Field and see them all.

After three hours in line (arriving when the gates opened, and looping around three sides of Raley Field), my sister and I had almost arrived at the gate when they closed them. Sure, I got a voucher for some Rivercats game. But it wasn’t really what I wanted. I mean, sure the Rivercats are going to be the Triple A franchise for the Giants starting this season, and I was probably going to go out to a few games.

But a Rivercats game is not the world series trophies for a team I have been following since I was a kid.

So I feel pretty miserable and awful right now — especially considering it’s pretty amazing the Giants had won *three*. To have to wait for #4 — a trophy that may not come for 50 years, as it took 52 years and three tries for the Giants to win their first in San Francisco — is a huge slap in the face that a Rivercats voucher isn’t quite enough to make up for.

And the fact that this event was the *only* event in the entire Sacramento Metro Area…yeah.

The Giants should have made this a longer event on a weekend. It would have been an awesome way to welcome their new Triple A franchise into the fold, and it could have been a festive day. It would have been good for both the Giants and the Rivercats. Instead, I’m left with a sour taste for both my favorite baseball franchise, and their Triple A team.

This wasn’t the way to do it, guys.

This blog isn’t exactly a big blog on the Internet, and I really don’t expect either the Giants or the Rivercats to say anything about this clusterfsck. But it hurts, in its way.

My sunset over Raley Field (the picture that accompanies this blog) feels oddly appropriate. It got retweeted by the Rivercats. At the time, I was so excited, but I thought I’d see the trophy at that point, too. So much for that.

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2015-01-03 11:34 pm

Hanging out at the twenty four hour diner

Saturday night and I’m doing my usual thing, hanging out at the local Denny’s with good friends and … well, maybe not *good* food, but decent. Of course, when I was a kid, Denny’s was sorta my idea of fine dining, so it’s amusing that I type that.

Anyway. Trying to think of things to write about and get my brain gathered, and I also really need to put a bunch of effort into finding a job. That’s the plan for Monday, I think. Of course, there’s also a lot of other things on my mind. But the job thing is the most pressing.

I should write more about that. Maybe tomorrow. Tonight is for friends and geeking out and all sorts of crazy bits of conversation.

…and the next table over is taking a selfie. Hilarious. I have also been informed of the existence of a selfie stick.

That’s enough for now. I’m putting these scribbles away before the laptop dies.

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2015-01-02 11:58 pm

Cutting it a bit close…

Day two of this new year. Spent it fighting a headache all day, but I did manage to complete The Wolf Among Us on my xbox one and spend a bit of time messing with the theme on this blog. So far, none of them is quite right. I’ll get it figured out.

Also, Mom is home from the hospital. This is good news. There’s an oxygen machine in her room. This is the not so good news.

Tomorrow, I’m going to do the next thing on my list of things in regards to this blog. It’ll involve the picture function.

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2015-01-01 10:17 pm

Is anybody there?

I’m hardly expecting much in the way of a response, but for my own notes, mind telling me if you see this post? Part of the reason I want to know is that I’m going to try revamping this blog, and it would be nice to have a baseline, and part of the reason is simply because I’m lonely and struggling.

Hopefully I can spend some time thinking tomorrow and work out a small plan for 2015.

That is all. Please say hi.

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2014-05-07 01:55 am

I just applied for a job.

Because everything is made better by having some long fancy code name, this is Operation Gd Jb Mo Pa. The name comes from a shorthand advertisement that read something like ‘f u cn rd ts u cn gt gd jb mo pa.’

Took a state exam. And now I put in my first job application to join one of the many tentacles of the company that controls Sacramento — the State of California.

Here’s to hoping.

Anybody want to be a reference?

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2014-05-04 10:16 pm

I really suck at updating my blog

I start with the best of intentions and I never quite manage to succeed. I need to devote more time in my life to things like my weblog but there’s always something getting in the way.

I need to devote time to finding a new job. The one I’ve got is nice, but it’s been nearly six and a half years and I’m still part-time, and I’m getting a sense that I’m not as important to the company as I would want to be at this point. This is not a good place to be.

Not to mention there’s a lot of personal issues that keep getting in my way. Most everybody reading this knows about the bipolar. I also live with my folks and that is…well, for a diplomatic word, challenging would seem to fit the bill.

So I’m trying to inspire myself to move. But…I’m still around. Sticking my head up for a moment to breathe.

Trying to figure out what to do with myself.

It’s a rough life.

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