A Peeve and a Signal Boost

First, the signal boost:  Fran Wilde’s novel Updraft comes out today.  Smashing science fiction from a Viable Paradise alumna, available in hardcover and ebook formats from the usual suspects.

And now the peeve, because while it’s the first of September summer isn’t quite ready to let go of us just yet, and hot weather makes me feel peevish:

For heaven’s sake, people – copyeditors of the world, I’m looking at you – learn the difference between auger and augur.  Writers have at least some excuse, since the gift of good writing and the gift of good spelling are very much not the same thing, but it’s a copyeditor’s job to be aware of these  differences and keep good writers from looking like bad spellers in front of the reading public. For that reason, it annoys me when I spot mistakes like this in published work.

Okay.  Deep breath.

An auger, with an e, is a drill, specifically a tool with a helical bit for boring holes in wood or dirt.

As part of his cunning plan to do away with his fishing partner, Joe used an auger to drill a hole in the bottom of the rowboat they used on alternate days.

An augur, with a u, is an ancient Roman prophet or soothsayer, specifically one who was trained in reading the future from omens such as the flight of birds (and not to be confused with a haruspex, who did the same thing by studying the innards of sacrificial animals.) The predictions thus obtained are known as auguries, and the verb to augur still means “to portend a good or bad outcome.”

Joe’s fishing partner (who commuted on alternate days from ancient Rome by way of temporal translocation) consulted an augur about the day’s fishing prospects.  The augur, observing a flight of geese in the left-hand rear quadrant of the sky, said that the signs did not augur well for going on the water that morning.  When the rowboat sank at the pier later that day with no-one on board, Joe’s partner’s confidence in the auguries was confirmed.

So.  Two different things, two different spellings.

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My Thoughts on the Hugos

Because I can’t hold up my head and call myself a science fiction fan if I don’t have some:

All in all, a victory for truth, justice, and the fannish way.

Also, the air that was full of smoke and dust and apprehension on Friday was clear and blue on Saturday, when the awards would be presented later that evening . . . which is a thematically appropriate weather progression that nobody could get away with in a piece of fiction, on the grounds of sheer implausible hokeyness.    But as is often pointed out, fiction needs to be believable, while real life is under no such constraint.

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The Internet is Full of Nifty Stuff

On the days when it starts to feel like the internet is nothing but insult and outrage from wall to wall and floor to ceiling, it helps to go look at some of the other things.

For example:  here’s an informative post from Tumblr, giving workshop instructions on how, exactly to gird your loins (if you’re wearing long skirts, or a robe of some sort.)  Note that the process not only gets the material out of the way, but also provides certain crucial areas with extra padding.

This isn’t the same thing, by the way, as simply kilting up one’s skirt, which is a simpler process, involving tucking the extra fabric into one’s belt to shorten the garment.

And here’s a report on the recent RWA (Romance Writers of America) convention, including some very cogent remarks on the need for representation in romance.  Short version:  Romance is the genre of happy endings, and readers who aren’t cisgendered currently-able-bodied straight white women need books that say they’re just as entitled to happy endings as anybody else.

Finally, a couple of links that are pure catnip for a word nut like me: a compendium of the blogger’s own favorite posts from three years of All Things Linguistic, and a page from which you can buy a copy of Balþos Gadedeis Aþalhaidais in Sildaleikalanda – which is to say, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, newly translated into Gothic by the scholar David Alexander Carlton.

As Katta (the Cat) says to Aþalhaids (Alice), “Weis sijum her woda in allamma” – “We’re all mad here.”

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Neophilia

Which is to say, I’ve upgraded my desktop system to Windows 10 and – so far, anyhow – nothing vital has either exploded or disappeared into the ether.

I did take good advice, though, and didn’t use the “Express” setup option, because it defaults to sharing everything with everyone everywhere, which is a stupid thing to default to, but it wouldn’t be a Windows operating system without at least one stupid default.

(And no, I don’t want to switch to the Apple side of the force.  There are people for whom the Mac/iWhatever interface is deft and intuitive, and there are people for whom it is intensely frustrating, and I’m one of the latter. )

So now I’m checking to make sure all of my previously installed apps are still working as advertised, this post being a test of Windows Live Writer.  If you’re reading these words, then presumably Live Writer tested sat.

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Novella vs. Novelette

(Or, novelet.  The spelling varies.)

John Barnes explains the real difference, over here.   The explanation comes with a link to the first episode of an actual serialized novelet, also by John Barnes.  He’s a good writer and a clever guy – go read and enjoy.

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Today’s Mail

DecoPunk CoverIn addition to the usual unsolicited credit card  offers at rates that make “usurious” sound like a good deal, the postalperson today brought us our authors’ copies of the anthology Decopunk: The Spirit of the Age, which contains our short story, “Silver Passing in Sunlight.”

I really like that cover, by the way . . . if they made a poster out of it, I’d  put it on my wall.

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Questions That Nobody Asked Me, Take One

Q.  I really loved To Kill a Mockingbird, and Atticus Finch was my hero.  Do I have to change all that in view of the publication of Go Set a Watchman?

A.  Only if you want to.

If you don’t want to, there are several good reasons why you shouldn’t have to.

Reason One:  Go Set a Watchman is not a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird just because it takes place in a later decade.  It was written before To Kill a Mockingbird, but wasn’t published until just now.  If either version of Atticus Finch is to be regarded as the “real” one, the title should go to To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus (“Atticus Prime”, as the Star Trek fans would put it) rather than Go Set a Watchman Atticus (or “Reboot!Atticus”, to continue the Trek analogy), by right of prior publication.

Reason Two: Given that To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, by virtue of their peculiar  history, do not actually stand in a text-and-sequel, or even a text-and-prequel, relationship, but are separate books, then Atticus Prime and Reboot!Atticus can safely be regarded as distinct and separate characters who just happen to share a name and place of residence.  (Again, science fiction readers already have a model to hand for dealing with things like this: two separate universes, parallel but different in some key respects.  Not quite Spock-with-a-Beard territory, but similar.)

Reason Three:  Go Set a Watchman, until recently, was never meant to be published at all.  It was what is sometimes referred to as a “trunk novel” — that is, an early work that the writer, usually for good and sufficient reasons, has put away in a trunk (or a desk drawer, or a computer file in an increasingly-obsolete format), never to see the light of day.

Sometimes, however, a trunk novel does eventually get published.  A writer may achieve sufficient popularity that it becomes a good bet that readers will buy even his or her old grocery lists, at which point somebody — maybe the author, but often the author’s literary heirs or executors — will decide to haul that manuscript out of obscurity and turn it loose on an unsuspecting public.

The reason for this, not surprisingly, is usually money.*  Either the author needs it, or the heirs-or-executors want it, or both. If the author is dead, and the heirs-or-executors are nowhere in evidence, then the coin involved is likely to be scholarly reputation.

So, no.  You don’t have to throw out your copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and consign Atticus Finch to the dustheap of abandoned role models unless you, personally, want to do that thing.  Which is your decision to make, not mine, and if I have any position at all on this, it’s that every person has a right to their own reaction to a work of art.

*Because writers have this annoying tendency to starve if they can’t buy groceries.  Go figure.

 

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