Ursula K. Le Guin Gets Her Snark On

She read a New York Times interview with Kazuo Ishiguro about his forthcoming novel, The Buried Giant, which takes place in a non-historic just-post-Arthurian England, in which the author frets that his audience will say that it is fantasy.  (To be fair, it contains. among other things, a dragon.)    And she was moved to speak.

I’ve said this here before, and I’ll say it again:  One of the things I respect most greatly about Le Guin is her steadfast refusal to disavow the genre.  More than one author, upon attaining literary respectability, has stashed their propeller beanie and their Spock ears in the far back of the closet . . . all honor, then, to the ones who don’t.

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A Useful Thing Which I Have Discovered

(Which has nothing to do with writing, and which most other people have probably known about for ages):

If you’ve got a rice cooker that came with a steamer basket, the steamer basket is very handy for turning uncooked chicken breasts or tenders into cooked chicken suitable for shredding or dicing and incorporating into things like enchiladas or pot pies or any other recipe that calls for cooked chicken bits.

Well, okay . . . this is like writing in one respect:  Don’t automatically assume that the idea you’ve just had is old hat, or is no good because it is old hat.  Because you can always take that old idea and use it to make something new and tasty.

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Well, It Was a Weekend

Two entries ago, I said:

If we’re lucky, Boston will have shoveled out from under its most recent snowpocalypse by this weekend, and won’t get another one while we’re there.

If you were watching the weather reports for the East Coast of the USA over the past few days, you’ll know that we didn’t get that lucky.

We did, however, make it safely down to the convention before the snowstorm started, and made it safely out of Boston again on Sunday.  Which is more luck than a lot of people had, so I shouldn’t complain.

Meanwhile, as of last report, Jim Macdonald and I are still goingto be doing our reading/signing at the UConn Co-op this evening at 7.  If you’re in the area, feel free to drop by.

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Today’s Bit of Amusement

Over at The Toast, “How to Tell if You Are in a Logic Puzzle.”

Because heaven knows, Logic Puzzle Land has only a tangential relationship to Real Life Land.

Obligatory writing reference:  When constructing plots and figuring out character motivations, remember that Fiction Land generally strives to reflect Real Life Land, not Logic Puzzle Land.  There are a few instances where it’s closer to Logic Puzzle Land – the strict-form allegory, for example, or the roman à clef – but those are the exceptions rather than the rule.

(Now that I think of it, that’s a good way to distinguish between an allegorical work and one that merely makes heavy use of symbolism and metaphor:  If the workings of the plot and the actions of the characters appear to be taking place in Logic Puzzle Land, you’re probably dealing with an allegory.)

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Prep Work

Today and the rest of this week are mostly all about getting ready for Boskone . . . getting all the necessary laundry done, formatting and printing out all the stuff for our reading (there are people out there who can read aloud off of their tablet or laptop, but I’m not one of them), getting out this month’s newsletter  (if you’re not a subscriber, you can become one via the signup link in the sidebar, and have the March issue show up in your mailbox when the time comes), and keeping a wary eye on the weather predictions for the next week.

If we’re lucky, Boston will have shoveled out from under its most recent snowpocalypse by this weekend, and won’t get another one while we’re there.

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Peeves of the Day

Because it has been entirely too cold up here of late, and cold weather makes me peevish.

Peeve the first:  Mixing up tic and tick.

A tick is a bloodsucking parasitical insect.  (Okay.  Technically, an arachnid.)  Or the sound made by a clock.  Or a check mark against an item in a list.

A tic is an involuntary muscular movement.

So a character with a facial tick . . . no, I don’t want to go there.  Just thinking about it makes me twitch.  Gives me a tic, if you will.

Peeve the second:  Oh and O.

“Oh!” is the interjection:

“Oh, no!”

“Oh, what a day!”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake!”

O is the particle that goes in front of a noun that is the name of somebody or something that is being directly addressed by the speaker:

“O Lord, we beseech thee….”

“Hear me, O King!”

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches!”

If we were talking in Latin, O would go with nouns in the vocative case.  In modern English, it tends to show up in archaic or formalized or poetic speech . . . and in the manuscripts of writers who are attempting, with varying degrees of success, to write forsoothly.

To whom I can only say:  If you’re going to do it, get it right.

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Boskone on the Horizon

Two weeks from now at this time, I’m going to be going over the household master packing list for Boskone, our other midwinter cabin-fever preventative convention, all the while keeping an eye on the weather predictions.  (The blizzard that hit Boston missed us, thanks to the White Mountains acting as a barrier, but we’ve got snow scheduled to come in from the Great Lakes tomorrow.   This time of year, anything can happen – we got snowed in at Arisia during the Blizzard of 2005, to pick an extreme example.)

Herewith, an advance heads-up for the unified Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald Boskone convention schedule:


Saturday, 14 February, 10:00 AM

Marina 2

The Future of Forensics

Advances in science and technology are driving the future of forensics. How will these changes affect the future of crime prevention and detection? What crimes committed today or yesterday might be solved in the future, and how might it be done? What relationship do these advances have to the future of crime fiction? And how do we keep it feeling “real” without wandering into science fantasy?

John P. Murphy (M), James D. Macdonald, Alison Sinclair

Saturday, 11:00 AM

Harbor III

Mythic Love and Epic Romance

Some of the greatest love stories come from ancient mythology, such as Psyche and Cupid or Odysseus and Penelope. However, great love stories that span the fantastic and (in some cases) the centuries also come in more modern tales, featuring couples such as Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, Bella and Edward, Wesley and Buttercup, Dr. Frankenstein and Elizabeth, and Count Dracula and Mina. What do these tales of love and romance tell us about love? What do these epic love stories tell us about ourselves? And why are we drawn to them?


Darlene Marshall (M), Debra Doyle, Max Gladstone, Chris Jackson, Ada Palmer

Saturday, 2:00 PM

Marina 2

The Walking Dead: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Walking Dead opened its fifth season with a literal bang and seems to be going strong despite the occasional halting plot, erratic pace, and poor choices made by several characters in past seasons. Still, it remains the most popular show on cable television. What is it about TWD that compels 17 million viewers to keep watching a show that is possibly one of the most violent on television?

Erin Underwood (M), James D. Macdonald, Jennifer Pelland, Thomas Sweterlitsch, Steve Davidson

Saturday, 3:00 PM

Galleria-Discussion Group

The Hollywood Historical Past

Sleepy Hollow is not the first TV show with a historical backstory that diverges from real-world history. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Highlander also presented us with some highly dubious flashbacks. Is this a recent development, or only the latest product of the ahistorical approach to the past-as-story that gave us Shakespeare’s Italy and medieval writers’ fanciful versions of ancient Greece and Rome?

Debra Doyle

Saturday, 4:00 PM

Marina 3

Writing Fight and Combat Scenes

You can learn fencing, stage combat, or martial arts, but these skills are neither necessary nor sufficient to write compelling, realistic fight scenes. What does it take to write a fight scene that creates tension and drama without turning it into a play-by-play? Panelists will explore how to bring their readers into the fight and leave them gasping for air.

Myke Cole (M), Chris Jackson, James D. Macdonald, Ken Mondschein, Jen Gunnels

Saturday, 5:00 PM

Galleria-Autographing

Autographing: David L. Clements, Debra Doyle, James Macdonald, Allen Steele

 

Sunday, 15 February, 11:00 AM

Marina 3

Writing Workshops: What’s Right for You as a New Writer?

Thinking about attending a writing workshop or an MFA program? Wondering how to pick which one is right for you? Once you do, then what? There is no magic formula to elicit an acceptance letter, but a solid application is a good place to start. Join representatives from various writing programs and learn how to present the best of what you have to offer as a student.

Kenneth Schneyer (M), Debra Doyle, Theodora Goss, Shahid Mahmud, Jill Shultz

Sunday, 12:30 PM

Griffin

Reading: James Macdonald and Debra Doyle

The reading very likely will be “Silver Passing in Sunlight” from the upcoming DECO PUNK: The Spirit of the Age anthology published by Pink Narcissus. A world premiere!

A note in passing:  The Hollywood Historical Past is a “discussion group”, not a panel, which at Boskone means that I’ll be holding down a table in the Galleria, and interested parties are welcome to join me there and have a lively conversation about the topic.  If you’re at Boskone and are an interested party, do show up; if the topic isn’t your cup of tea, but you know someone who might enjoy it, please feel free to pass the word along.

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