One thing that makes me put down a book or a submission is a world where the behavior of the inhabitant doesn’t bear any resemblance to what you can expect of people as a whole with a their cultural history. The Pearl Harbor attack affected the American psyche because it was the first attack on American soil of its kind, overwhelming, devastating, and completely unexpected. By the time the IRA bombings were winding down, the British had become if not accepting of them, but fully cognizant both physically and emotionally that all they could do was move forward with life because giving in or giving up didn’t accomplish anything.
After the second world war, Japan reset the point at which history began in their schools. Why? Because it fit in with the existing culture. Specifically the pride/shame foundation of the nation as a whole, and their warrior elan of the upper crust and military survivors as a collective and cultural tradewind for the nation. After World War Two, Japanese history was retconned to what would allow them as a culture to go on. Pride, family, saving face, shame and a need to cling to the cultural fundamentals they knew had kept the nation alive for thousands of years.
When we look at this map
Cultural expression map
We see a very familiar form of measuring human behavior. It’s existed at least since man decided to map out the four humors. If we take what the article on Harvard Business Journal says as a guide, and look at the formative stages of a couple of nations we get some interesting perspectives.
- Largely isolated historically.
- Its largest neighbor has been a serious threat.
- Slightly separated from, but its neighbors.
- Lots of interaction with other cultures.
- Multiple social groups that made up the whole and coexisted.
- Continually integrating new bits and bobbles of other cultures and languages.
- Generally secure from conventional threats
- Historically idealized view of the ability to interact with and have profitable engagement with most people.
- Historically under attack from forces that should be overwhelming.
- Fused by a common purpose even if the various Judaic groups within it have varied origin.
- Cultural preferences to get the other guy to back down so both can disengage.
- Internal division that are both localized in the form of feuds and global in the
- Limited natural resources that make conflict both expensive in the immediate term and difficult to recover from as either winner or loser.
- Inimical neighbors.
I would adore seeing more fictional cultures have the people living in them (as a whole) fit their origin point (their nation). If we look at Barrayar, they like Philippines have had inimical neighbors, internal division, but are largely beyond that and with a long period of isolation. It’s not surprising they are not very fond of outsiders, made extraterritorial gains, and have a culture that in many ways revolves around their military industrial complex. That complex is an outgrowth of their desire for both order and security.
Not many wormhole jumps away is Beta Colony. They live in a very hostile environment, they are relatively wealthy, and the founders of the colony were selected from a group of people to be very similar and form a monoculture. They’re population was and remains highly educated and in areas designed to overcome the issues of their homeworld. Their response to unprovoked violence is to fix the issue because that’s what doctors, engineers, and social workers do. They send some to (involuntary) mental adjustment because they view that as better alternative to execution, exile or imprisonment (correctional or psychological institutions are both prisons).
So, I got bored the other day.
This is always a problem. But I got bored while trying to find a way to come up with a way to get people to actually post reviews to books I know are being bought and read.
So with the launch of Frozen in Amber from the sensation Phyllis Ames...
I'm launching an experiment...
Be one of the first 7 people to review one of the books mentioned in this post and get one of the others (your choice) mailed to you free.
- Review must be dated after this post.
- Review must be over 250 words.
- You must post the link to the reply post.
- Review can be positive, really positive, glowing, incandescent, or negative but it must be clear to me that you read the book.
- No more than 3 reviews for each book will be counted, so you may not want to go with your first reaction.
- If you don't indicate which book you want I will pick one at random.
- The person with the most interesting over all review will get another bonus book.
- No more than one review per person.
So post a review!
Direct link to the reply post (on LiveJournal) is here: http://onyxhawke.livejournal.com/15
All comments will be screened for privacy.
If you have questions post them in a seperate comment so I can unscreen that and not your personal information.
I will try and get to reviews as the come in.
I'll post what books have been reviewed as needed.
I really did like a lot of the elements that made up Avengers: Age of Ultron. The issue as the title might just have tipped you off is that it wasn’t a very Marvel Marvel movie. It was however very Whedon, if you’re one of those afflicted folks who worship the ground he hovers just above you won’t see a problem here. And that’s a topic for another day.
The humanizing elements of Age of Ultron were pretty awesome. Hawkeye’s family was a slice of the American-pastoral pie Norman Rockwell would have been weepy eyed with pride at serving up. The early two thirds of the Black Widow – Hulk arc was engaging. The “why” for every character everywhere along the way were key-in-lock tight with who that character was.
Unfortunately, not much of it, specifically the pastoral interlude did what they were supposed to do. Anyone paranoid enough to keep their family so off the grid only one in six of their teammates knows they exist at all is unlikely to bring them up during slightly iffy times. To actually bring several near strangers, two of them very unpredictable (Stark and Hulk) and excellent at violence, to his home during what was shaping up to be an extinction level event is so utterly out of character it’s absurd. Yes this is where they make contact with Nick Fury, but that could be done literally anywhere on the planet, and most of them would have better served the Avengers logistic needs.
We didn’t need to see Hawkeye hug his own kid and gaze at the picture of his family to know why he’d save a kid at great personal risk in crunch time; he’s a bleeding hero and that is what they do.
The emotional dance of the seven veils between Banner + Hulk and Black Widow was lovely, but that’s all it was for her. I think this movie made her less likeable honestly. The kiss and then push off the cliff of Banner to fulfill her need for Hulk was an unequivocal betrayal of Banner. Would not blame him a bit for never speaking to her again. Worse, it wasn’t needed. Banner proved he’s willing to let slip the dogs of war at need. He wasn’t leaving, he wasn’t going to standby and do nothing. He may be the most reluctant hero in the Marvel universe, but he’s a hero.
After the human elements that Whedon kludged into the script for I’m-Joss-Whedon reasons there are all the Marvel things he left out or utterly fouled up about the story and universe. Honestly the failed human elements were largely buffoonery, the anticannon deviations were even less justifiable than the changes to X-Men Days of Future Past, and less successful as well.
First and foremost Ultron was a collaborative effort led by Hank Pym aka Antman (among other names) and Tony Stark. Bruce Banner had diddly-squat to do with it. Introducing him and his sometimes other-half would be the perfect way to build audience for his movie. More, Hank and his sometimes other-half are in and out of the Avengers enough and well before Scarlet Witch you’re not futzing with timelines too much. Going with Pym and Janet as the new team members would have allowed for the romantic elements without having to strain credulity pushing Banner and Widow together.
Next: going to Wakanda without bringing up The Black Panther is some amalgam of criminal and blasphemy that aught to have shoving matches between powers secular and divine over who gets to put the torch to the wood around your stake. Worse, with a Black Panther movie I the works, it’s bad capitalism not to even mention the man, myth, and legend.
Was this the worst comic-book movie translation ever? Of course not, Green Hornet was actually released for some reason. Was it the least faithful to source material? It might just have been. This is the type of movie I feared when I heard he was involved in the first Avengers. Whedon’s latest incursion into the Marvel universe leaves the same variety of seedy impression Shamalayan movies do; that they are unable to differentiate between making a movie great and making sure every viewer knows who made the film. As part of the pantheon that is the current cycle of Marvel movies, this movie fails. It fails for not having the breaks put on before it hit production, and for being a Whedon movie not a Marvel movie.
Were there things I liked? Yes. But much like the third Dark Knight movie, I’m unlikely to see this anywhere near as many times as the adjacent movies because not only is it not as good it taints the others simply by existing.
So, shocking as it is, I read. I read Big 5, I read the ingredients on my food, I even read independently published and some small press stuff.
As you probably know, I’m not a big fan of ereading. I have a tablet that’s got a great screen, but never felt the need for a specialized reader. So i decided to try something on my phone. Glynn Stewart’s Starship’s Mage didn’t seem like too much of a commitment.
Perhaps the most surprising given my dislike of anything shorter than 90k words or so, is:
This is a lovely hybrid of space opera and whatever you call mages in space. The science side and the magic are done well. There are two additional installments right now on Amazon (and other venues) and firmer-than-rumors- of other chronicles. Each is about 20k words and a good chunk of world and story. The main character is a recent graduate of the mage academy who runs afoul of some unpleasant folks when he’s just doing the best he can. Really fun stories.
The first was fun, and after reading it I figured I wouldn’t hate myself too much for trying something longer.
So I went for:
SanClare Black is fantasy, the world isn’t the stock “vaguely England with dashes of France or German for variety” that we see in so, so many fantasies that so, so few do well. Jenna Waterford has a fantasy world with working trains, steam ships, the odd fire arm, and a gigantic tear in space/time in the middle of the world. Wizards, family feuds, and social conflict are all drawn deftly to enhance the characters and inform the world.
About 20 pages into SanClare Black I realized I could adjust the color of the font and text in my ereader. Going with sepia text on black was amazing. I zoomed through the rest of SanClare Black and picked up the other two Starship’s Mage installments. All four reads were quite good.
My devious and ubiquitous spies whispered in my ear that July 19th is Glynn Stewart’s birthday, and like most writers he’ll take sales as the sincerest form of birthday well wishes. The hoarders of hearsay also bespoke Jenna Waterford’s birthday as July 28th. I can safely promise you that even if your taste somehow isn’t met by either writer, there are thousands, upon thousands upon thousands of much, much, much worse books in the world.
One of the things that my time in the industry has taught me is that there is an avowed love of easily quantifiable books with very, very small variations (like sparkly vampires) that make them just slightly different from a dozen other books with similar premises tan came over the transom the same day. Neither Starship’s Mage or SanClare Black are something fit into the neat categories the book buyers at chains like and understand.
I suspect that if traditional publishing and the chains want to remain viable they are going to have to become a touch more flexible on the subject of subgenre. I’d truly like to see something like the keyword cues one science fiction and fantasy publisher uses become universal with say a range of seven to ten keywords required for each book. For those of you who are up for something new, when you read these come back and suggest keywords for them, I’m always interested in what readers think.
So, cooking, its something we do. Arguably all sentient races will have some form of food variation and arrangement that they engage in, which may or many not include the application of heat. Last night I experimented with a staple; stuffed, roasted chicken. I wanted to do two things; combine things I never had before, and make a stuffing that was lighter than traditional bread based stuffing.
- One whole chicken, rinsed.
- Greens (mix of chopped kale and chopped collards, raw)
- GARLIC (real garlic, not powder, not pre-chopped out of a jar)
- FRESH mint leaves
- Jim Beam Maple*
- 2 slices thick bacon or four slices regular*
- mushrooms (white button, about 10 golf ball sided ones)
- red quinoa
- margarine (or butter, or some form of spread, I used a non dairy spread)
- spices: Turmeric, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, sage,
One of the things that always amuses me in far future science fiction is when they mention going out to eat and getting cuisine that’s from Tuscany or is Jamacian, or Bavarian. I just find the idea that cooking styles won’t fuse, mutate and rearrange beyond recognition as humans spread to a hundred stars or more. Just from life here on our own dirtball we know that onions grown just outside Toldeo, Ohio are going to taste different from the same variety of onions grown outside Austin, Texas or Kingston, Jamaica. A whole different planet? Assuming they grow at all, the local conditions will dictate a different taste.
Take the quinoa (about 1 1/2 cups) and Millet (about 2 tablespoons) combine in a sauce-pot with four or five medium or large garlic cloves (crushed then chopped) and bring to a boil in roughly twice the water as dry ingredients for five minutes. Allow to cool, dump into a large mixing bowl.
Cook the bacon* in a skillet on medium-low, retain grease in pan. Slice the mushrooms top to bottom and brown on one side in the skillet (lightly salt), sprinkle turmeric on the other side. Remove from pan place in mixing bowl with quinoa and millet.
Do not dispose of the skillet.
Turn on oven, preheat to 350f. Prepare roasting pan (make sure you have a rack).
You’ll need about a gallon (not packed) of chopped, rinsed greens (this time was roughly 2/3rds kale, 1/3 collards. I’d prefer the reverse, substitute spinach if you love it. Put half of this into the mixing bowl with the quinoa and mushrooms.
Chop very finely (to slightly larger than peppercorn size) about a cup and a half of carrots. Add to the mixing bowl.
Add about 3/4ths a teaspoon each of sage, rosemary, thyme, 1/2 a tsp each of salt and pepper to mixing bowl. Add about two or three more garlic cloves also smashed and chopped fine.
Rinse and finely chop the mint leaves add to bowl.
Rinse the chicken in cold water.
Hand mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl. (If you are any judge of volume you’ll note this is way more than actually fits into a chicken, shut up and keep mixing.)
Stuff the chicken.
Take the rest of the stuffing, put it in an oven safe glass bowl, cover with foil, put into the oven and remove at the same times as the chicken.
Rub the chicken down with margarine or whatever spread you use. (Unless its vegemite or marmalade because that’d just be weird.)
Peel and cut into large chunks 2-4 carrots per person and drop into the pan.
Add an inch or two of water to the skillet you cooked the mushrooms in. Warm on medium for one to two minutes so that it loosens the bacon grease, mushroom bits and spice, pour into the bottom of the roasting pan.
Add about 2 tablespoons of margarine to water and carrots in the bottom of the pan.
Remove the skin from the shallots, cut into thirds. Place in pan with carrots. Add some salt and pepper, and if you’re so minded, another garlic clove or three. Add about 1 tablespoon of lime juice to pan.
At this point your oven should be preheated.
Cover pan, cook until meat thermometer says 150f (yes I know.), baste the birdy.
Now that the chicken is nearly cooked, take that other half gallon of greens you’ve nearly forgotten, dump them into the pan.
Keep covered unto the thermometer says 165f, remove cover from pan and allow to brown.
When browned, remove from over, remove chicken from pan, allow to stand for 5+ minutes minimum then slice.
You now have something that will look like this on your plate**:
Wherever we end up as a species, here on earth with the last human taking one last breath or twenty one millennia from now dying a few billion at a time in a galactic war, I doubt we’ll ever lose the love of sharing meals with each other.
*The bacon and Jim Beam Maple are to make the cooking more enjoyable, no need to add them to the mix.
** For whatever reason chicken or white meats always look slightly pink with my camera, I suspect the lighting.
Also, note there will be bloggage tomorrow to, and its even about books.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting many very smart, talented and interesting people in the years I’ve attended conventions and been part of the professional end. It’s been an undiluted pleasure to meet people like Elizabeth Bear, David Drake, and Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ve met artists and editors, publisher, agents and publicists. The one unifying thing each and every one of us has in common; an abiding desire for the industry to be taken seriously.
Well, newsflash ladies, gents, undeclareds and undecideds; the current crock in crockery isn’t how we get there. The name-calling, that most of the folks I know on either side wouldn’t tolerate from a seven year old in their charge. The sexual sniping is something that one would expect from the middle school kids who known there’s something going on down there but haven’t figured out anything other than its messy and makes them uncomfortable. Yes, that is how it looks to (me) the movie companies, fans, and anyone else who might be considering your intellectual property. Do you really think anyone wants to work with a chronological adult like that if they can avoid it?
I don’t care about the sides. I didn’t when it was still a “discussion” about who should or shouldn’t be kicked out of SFWA. I didn’t when it was almost possible to view it as a purely intellectual debate over the content of the SFWA social media and other outlets. Sadly, it hasn’t been about either of those things in weeks. It’s become dogmatic drivel slinging as a litmus test for who’s cool and who isn’t. That isn’t supposed to be what SFWA is for. None of the sniping promotes the welfare of writers. None of it is getting more accountability from publishers. None of it is getting more recognition for self-published writers. Not a damn bit of it is attracting new readers and con-goers. The garden path y’all and hootin’ and hollerin’ down just eats creditability, time, and creativity.
But I get where it’s coming from. I’ve read many of the people busy pissing in the punch. Many of you were unpopular in school, and some of you still are in your non-publishing lives. Bullying, exclusion, and self-doubt were the other three horsemen when you walked the halls of whatever high school you longed to escape. Today, you’re striking out as you couldn’t then. It is great you’ve found your fighters stance and steely eye.
Unfortunately that fight is over. You can’t avenge yourself on you fellow outcasts, they didn’t push you from the herd in school. More importantly, you job is to entertain. You aren’t trapped five days a week 180 days a year in the same building with anyone. Some of the people you’re hissing and spitting at you’ve never met, and have probably spent less than a week in the same building as in the last decade. Is it worth it? Is it productive? Does it make you a better writer or protect the livelihood of some other writer? Nope, not a chance, and hell no. It’s all lost product.
There are a lot of people in the industry I like spending time with. Some like that guy way on the left who isn’t over tall and that lady on the other end with the funny accent wear their politics like a suit of armor. Some like Lois Bujold have politics that are nigh on impossible to guess. Why do I like people so far apart? Wit. Verve. Drive. More importantly, I don’t do cliques, I don’t care about what clique someone might be in because it doesn’t make me, my friends or my clients any money. I didn’t do cliques when I was a kid, didn’t as a teen, never been tempted.
So for the love of writing, reading and profits can we all just please, please, please and thank you pretend to get along?
Just before Christmas I came to a tentative deal for two books with the fantastic folks at DAW books. Seeing as the wheels of publishing turn slowly, it took a tiny bit of time to get all the details nailed down. Since then poor Marshall has been sitting on the knowledge he had finally gotten his dream. He wasn’t allowed to tell anyone because the contracts weren’t signed, witnessed and returned. After you read this (or before, it’ll still be here) go congradulate and comiserate with him, you can find him in several places on the intertubes.
Q: So who is this Marshall Ryan Maresca fellow?
Q: NightWing and Hawkeye get into a battle to the death; who wins?
Q: Your bio says you do some acting, would you want to play any of your characters in an adaptation? If so who?
You heard me!
Why are you reading this?
Oh wait. Let me guess. You’re that one person who has already bought, read, reviewed, and shared, on all your social networks The Broken Dragon? You know the latest in Irene Radford’s long running universe from DAW books?
That’s the book with this lovely cover:
I mean, honestly, between you and me (and the convieniently obsequious electrons helping us), I can’t think of any other reason for someone to be here right now reading this. Let’s be realistic, laundry, work, and the cat will still be there in a few hours, the book must be read (and the other stuff), now.
So stop reading. (Just share this post, eh?)
Find yourself a copy of Rayguns Over Texas, an anthology of fantastic fiction. There is a foreword by someone named Bruce Sterling who’s been in print since the 80′s, it is edited by Rick Klaw, and more importantly if features the writing of the amazing Marshall Maresca, along with more than a dozen others including Aaron Alston, Joe R. Lansdale and Michael Moorcock.