Tuesday, August 27, 2013

on fame

"It'd be great to be so famous that if I murder someone, I will never, ever, ever serve any jail time, even if it's totally obvious to everyone that I did it."

- Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, pg 62

Monday, August 26, 2013

community swimming pool

"Not to sound braggy or anything, but I kind of killed it in college. You know that saying 'big fish in a small pond'? At Dartmouth College, I was freaking Jaws in a community swimming pool. I wrote plays, I acted, I sang, I was the student newspaper cartoonist. All this, of course, was less a function of my talent than of the school's being in rural New Hampshire, where the only option for real entertainment was driving one and a half hours to Manchester, on the off chance the Capitol Steps were touring there."

- Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, pg 47

Saturday, August 24, 2013

alienating the police

"That does make her squirm a little. Dan probably wasn't counting on her digging up the details on the story of how he made his name mud with the cops. Turns out the police don't like it when you report on one of their own who accidentally discharges his weapon into a hooker's face while coked up to the eyeballs. Chet said the officer got early retirement. Dan got his tires slashed every time he parked at the precinct. Kirby is happy to discover she's not the only one with the ability to alienate the whole of the Chicago PD."

- Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls, pg 82

Friday, August 23, 2013

fighting fair

"He wasn't expecting Grebe to gush like that. Wouldn't have come to it if the bastard had fought fair. But he was fat and drunk and desperate. Couldn't land a punch, so he went for Harper's balls. Harper had felt the sonofabitch's thick fingers grabbing at his trousers. Man fights ugly,  you fight uglier back. It's not Harper's fault the jagged edge of the glass caught an artery. He was aiming for Grebe's face."

- Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls, pg 10

Thursday, August 22, 2013

World Fantasy Award Nominee: "Swift, Brutal Retaliation"

Nominated for 2013 World Fantasy Award: Short Story


This is the second time I’ve read Meghan McCarron’s “Swift, Brutal Retaliation”, a story focused on the aftermath of the too young death of the brother of Sinead and Brigid with both their escalating war of pranks on each other as well as their desire to help the ghost of their dead brother find peace. 

That’s a gross simplification, of course, and when you get down to the heart of the story, what “Swift, Brutal Retaliation” seems to really be about is grief.  The grief of parents, the grief of sisters, the grief of the deceased, and how that grief and anger manifests throughout a family.  How losing that son and brother through a drawn out illness changes the dynamic, most likely irreparably.  

 “During Ian’s last few months, their mother was usually busy taking care of him. When he died, they had briefly hoped she would recover her interest in their well-being, but instead her caring engines shut down completely. She spent whole days in her room; the girls had no idea what she did in there. If they put their ears to the door, they heard the television, but they had the eerie feeling it wasn’t being watched.”

Told mostly from the third person perspective of the sisters, “Swift, Brutal Retaliation” is a story that begins a touch lighter than the subject matter would suggest, but simmers at a slow burn and has a powerful, explosive ending.  Explicitly, there is a touch of the supernatural with Ian’s ghost, but in this case it is one of the least important supernatural elements in a story and very well may just be a manifestation of the emotions of the family.  Regardless of that, this is a worthy story for the World Fantasy Award nomination.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


"These were days of pajamas and beard scruff, of mumblings and requests and him endlessly thanking everyone for all they were doing on his behalf. One afternoon, he pointed vaguely toward a laundry basket in a corner of the room and asked me, 'What's that?'

'That laundry basket?'

'No, next to it.'

'I don't see anything next to it.'

'It's my last shred of dignity. It's very small.'"

- John Green, The Fault in Our Stars, pg 248

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

thinking about death

"Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death."

- John Green, The Fault in Our Stars, pg 1

Monday, August 19, 2013

a republic, if you can keep it

"A life as full as Franklin's could not be captured in a phrase - or a volume. Yet if a few words had to suffice, a few words that summarized his legacy to the America he played such a central role in creating - and that, not incidentally, illustrated his wry, aphoristic style - they were those he uttered upon leaving the final session of the Constitutional Convention. A matron of Philadelphia demanded to know, after four months' secrecy, what he and the other delegates had produced.

'A republic,' he answered, 'if you can keep it.'"

- H. W. Brands, The First American, pg 716

Friday, August 16, 2013

When a Series Doesn't End

I finished reading Demonstorm a couple of days ago and it made me think reader expectations and the ending of a series. 

As I understand it, James Barclay intended for Demonstorm to be the conclusion to his Legends of the Raven trilogy.  It ended the story of The Raven, a mercenary band that saved the world on multiple occasions. There an epilogue which set the tone for the future and it was one where not only wasn’t The Raven needed, but it was one where they didn’t really exist anymore.  Which will make sense if you’ve read the books and be fairly non-spoilery if you haven’t. Demonstorm was an ending and a concrete ending at that. 

Of course, what I had known all along is that there was still one more book which was set ten or so years later: Ravensoul.  I knew that long before I read Dawnthief, but by the time I finished what now feels like the “series proper”, I wasn’t sure why or how there could be another book.  As Barclay writes on his website,
A quick scan down these bibliography entries will lead you to Demonstorm and my assertion that it was to be the last Raven novel and that there were no plans for more. Luckily, I also mentioned the immortal words ‘never say never’. Because, four years later, along came Ravensoul.

The fact is that something began nagging at me almost from the moment Demonstorm was done and dusted. That although I had written “The End” for the last time in Raven history, it just wasn’t the end. For a while I didn’t know why, but a bit like Vault of Deeds, the idea wouldn’t go away and slowly, it took proper shape. In the days when writing The Ascendants was particularily hard, I gave it considered thought too.

I wanted The Raven to have one last ride…
 Barclay then goes on to give a little bit more detail about the ending of Demonstorm then I want to go into here, but what I want to express is that I feel very mixed regarding how I feel about this as a reader.  I have very much enjoyed Barclay’s work with the Raven novels (see here for my thoughts on the first three books), and though I have seen a brief synopsis / cover copy on Ravensoul and know approximately how the story is continuing, Barclay finished the series.  He finished the story. 

Obviously, James Barclay disagrees with me since he wrote another novel set ten years after and who am I to say that the author is wrong for having more stories he wants to tell?

It’s not even that I don’t want to read more Raven stories.  It’s just that he wrote a book that had such an ending, to the point that the idea there is more feels something of a let down or a refusal to let go.  Part of this has to do with a specific story point that because it occurs so late in the series, but is absolutely key as to why having a sequel comes across as somewhat offputting to the reader, or, at least to this one.

Of course, if Ravensoul is up to the level of quality the first six books hit most of this is moot and I’ll accept it.  But there is that niggling part of the reader brain that thinks that no matter how good Ravensoul is, things should have ended where they were originally intended to. 

We’ll see. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

liars and weaklings

“I should have stuck around to discover the nature of that soil for myself – but I belong with the liars and weaklings. I cannot lead my betters. If I want to be a hero, it will not be to the jocks, whose interiors have an integrity that springs up from the very center of the earth itself. It will be to the utter liars I find myself here, in the white-walled room that is the typing school’s second-floor studio.”

- Sheila Heti, How Should a Person Be?, pg 34

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2013 World Fantasy Award Finalists

(Via SF Signal)

The nominations for the 2013 World Fantasy Awards have been announced, and while I have been less active in the SFF scene this last year or two, this has long been my favorite of the genre awards.  Congratulations to all the nominees, and I can't wait to dive in to these.

  • The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
  • The Drowning Girl, Caitlin R. Kiernan (Roc)
  • Crandolin, Anna Tambour (Chamu)
  • Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson (Grove; Corvus)

  • “Hand of Glory,” Laird Barron (The Book of Cthulhu II)
  • Let Maps to Others,” K.J. Parker (Subterranean Summer ’12)
  • The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon)
  • “The Skull,” Lucius Shepard (The Dragon Griaule)
  • “Sky,” Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls)
Short Story
  • Epic: Legends of Fantasy, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Tachyon)
  • Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic, Eduardo Jimanez Mayo & Chris N. Brown, eds. (Small Beer)
  • Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, Jonathan Oliver, ed. (Solaris)
  • Postscripts #28/#29: Exotic Gothic 4, Danel Olson, ed. (PS Publishing)
  • Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Random House)

  • At the Mouth of the River of Bees, Kij Johnson (Small Beer)
  • Where Furnaces Burn, Joel Lane (PS Publishing)
  • The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume One: Where on Earth and Volume Two: Outer Space, Inner Lands, Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)
  • Remember Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman (ChiZine)
  • Jagannath, Karin Tidbeck (Cheeky Frawg)
  • Vincent Chong
  • Didier Graffet and Dave Senior
  • Kathleen Jennings
  • J.K. Potter
  • Chris Roberts
Special Award-Professional
  • Peter Crowther & Nicky Crowther for PS Publishing
  • Lucia Graves for the translation of The Prisoner of Heaven (Weidenfeld & Nicholson; Harper) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • Adam Mills, Ann VanderMeer, & Jeff VanderMeer for the Weird Fiction Review website
  • Brett Alexander Savory & Sandra Kasturi for ChiZine Publications
  • William K. Schafer for Subterranean Press
Special Award-Non-professional
  • Scott H. Andrews for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • L. Timmel Duchamp for Aqueduct Press
  • S.T. Joshi for Unutterable Horror: A History of Supernatural Fiction, Volumes 1 & 2 (PS Publishing)
  • Charles A. Tan for Bibliophile Stalker blog
  • Jerad Walters for Centipede Press
  • Joseph Wrzos for Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration (Centipede Press)
The Life Time Achievement Award will go to Susan Cooper and Tanith Lee!

Monday, August 12, 2013


"Are the men talking of dweomer among themselves?" Rhodry said.

"They are, my lord. I do my best to stop it."

"I know I could count on you for that. How do you feel about these rumors yourself?"

"Pack of horseshit, my lord."

"Good. I couldn't agree more."

- Katherine Kerr, Daggerspell, pg 213

Friday, August 09, 2013

this is the way it will be

"'What are you asking me, exactly?' Gudrun said. 'Why do I think the problems between the men and women of the world are the way they are today? You want to know whether the problems that you teenagers feel - will they follow you over the rest of your lives? Will your hearts always be aching? Is that what you are asking me?

Goodman shifted in discomfort. 'Something like that,' he said.

'Yes,' said the counselor in a suddenly plangent voice. 'Always they will be aching. I wish I could tell you something else, but I wouldn't be telling the truth. My wife and gentle friends, this is the way it will be from now on.'"

- Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings, pg 131

Thursday, August 08, 2013


"Jules. There it was, right there: the effortless shift that made all the difference. Shy, suburban nonentity Julie Jacobson, who had provoked howls for the first time in her life, had suddenly, lightly changed into Jules, which was a far better name for an awkward-looking fifteen-year-old girl who'd become desperate for people to pay attention to her. these people had no idea of what she was usually called; they'd hardly noticed her in these first days of camp, though of course she'd noticed them. In a new environment, it was possible to transform. Jules, Ash had called her, and instantly the others followed Ash's lead. She was Jules now, and would be Jules forever."

- Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings, pg 15

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

tearing a new one

"Abumwe began by tearing Doodoodo a new one, in as brilliant a show of venomous politeness as Wilson had ever seen in his life. Doodoodo and his fellow negotiators actually began to cringe, in the Burfinor fashion, which Wilson decided was more of a scrotal-like contraction than anything else.

Watching the ambassador do her work, and doing it with something approaching vengeful joy, Wilson realized his long-held wish that Abumwe would actually relax from time to time was clearly in error. This was a person who operated best and most efficiently when she was truly and genuinely pissed off; wishing for her to mellow out was like wishing an alpha predator would switch to grains. It was missing the point."

 -John Scalzi, The Human Division, pg 265