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Cookie Day Two: The Re-Cookenating

I had a list. We ignored the list. We burned the list to the ground.

You see, Mom and Grandma and I: we are experienced in the ways of Cookie Day. But having already done one, we had a lot of our usual tricks kind of…handled. One of the ways that you keep three experienced bakers working all day with only one oven is to make things on the stove. Well, we’d already made two kinds of fudge and caramels. That was on Gluten-Free Cookie Day. But! We are versatile! We are fierce! We are determined! So onwards. Onwards to glory and lots and lots of treats.

We made: pepparkakor, brun brod, pretzel hugs, strawberry shortbreads, blueberry shortbreads, pecan penuche, hazelnut toffee, blueberry meringues (bluemeringues! they are boomerang shaped!), and strawberry jam filled amaretti (pink, to distinguish them from the raspberry jam or frosting filled lavender ones on Sunday). We would have also made lemon curd, but I ran out of butter and have to run out to the KwikTrip today to get butter for that and the yams. (Because I am I going to brave a grocery store the day before Thanksgiving when the gas station sells perfectly cromulent butter? Hahaha I am not.)

Note: some of the linked recipes are old recipes in which I reference using oleo. I don’t really bake with oleo any more unless I’m baking for someone who needs non-dairy treats. You can; most of those recipes were passed down from relatives who grew up with butter rationing if they weren’t still on the farm. But I pretty much always bake with butter.

The amaretti are the great discovery of this year. They’re really not hard if you’re comfortable with a pastry bag (which includes being comfortable with a Ziploc with the end snipped off), and we totally didn’t do the thing she talks about with switching the racks of the oven, and it worked fine–my cookie sheets are large, so we can only bake a sheet at a time because they block air flow from each other. But fifteen minutes in the middle of a 300 degree oven, no fooling around, they do exactly what they’re supposed to do, they’re an easy gluten-free dairy-free cookie, go team.

You notice that some of the things yesterday were still gluten-free, even though the gluten-free focused Cookie Day was Sunday. Here’s the thing. There is so much out there that’s good that doesn’t have to have gluten in it in the first place. Penuche, toffee, meringues. These things are just–they’re just treats. They’re just goodies. They aren’t funny-smelling pseudo-treats. Life as part of a family that contains allergies can be rich and festive and joyful. And it should.

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Cookie Day One: Sans Gluten et Sans Reproche

My godson Rob was diagnosed with celiac this spring, and while we haven’t made all the changes we would if it was someone in my household, there has been a lot more paying attention to what has wheat and barley and the like, what doesn’t, what does but can be made to work without it. Also, we have been saying for years that my goddaughter Lillian is almost old enough (and definitely enthusiastic enough about baking) to be included in Cookie Day. This year, the two things combined: we had Lillian spend the night and then spend all day having Gluten-Free Cookie Day.

Here is what we made.

First, in our pajamas, we made fully glutenated waffles for breakfast. Because Lillian hasn’t been diagnosed with celiac, and sometimes having the gluteny things you like when you’re not sharing them with your big brother is a good plan.

Then we got ready for the day and finished putting out the Christmas decorations (usually wayyyy too early, but I’m going to be in Montreal, so I needed to get it done if it was ever going to happen) and waited for my folks and my grandma. And then the reinforcements got here and we really got going.

We made: chocolate fudge with hazelnuts; double-layer chocolate/peanut butter fudge; caramels; strawberry shortbread with gluten-free flour*; chocolate-dipped apricots; chocolate mixed nut clusters; amaretti (tinted lavender–Lillian’s choice), some sandwiched with frosting and some with raspberry jam; Nutella cookies; and chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. We didn’t get to the blueberry meringues, so I’ll do those tomorrow before we really get going on the gluten-y cookies, and there was a teeeeeensy mishap when we were boiling the apple cider down for apple cider caramels, so that got scratched for the day.

And in the process, we taught Lillian about when you whip a lot of air into egg whites to make them fluffy, how to use a pastry blender to do exactly the opposite, how to use a pastry bag to pipe dough out, how to make frosting from scratch, and many other topics in the worlds of baking, chemistry, finance, and more.

All in all, a lovely day. More of it coming tomorrow.

*This was our only use of a gluten-free flour product. All the other cookies and treats were recipes that are just naturally made without flour. I know that some of the wheat substitute flours can taste pretty good for people who need them, especially with a strong flavoring like strawberry covering up the fact that they don’t taste quite the same, and they’re a good resource to have. But when I’m not working around another dietary restriction like nuts, dairy, or eggs, I prefer to make recipes that were gluten-free to begin with, rather than adjusting things to become gluten-free. Several of the above were also dairy-free, though, so ask if you’re interested.

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It’s okay if it’s just like.

I saw this post, which is called “A love letter to my first library,” and I thought, well, it’s shameful confession time for me.

I don’t love my first library.

My first library was adequate.

I loved going to the library. I wanted to go to the library more, ever more. We went no less often than fortnightly, usually weekly, and it was a treat, a highlight, always. When I was the size of child without perspective on managing household tasks, whichever parent had just taken me to the library had a halo, as though they had not arranged it between them: “I’ll stop by Target and pick up shampoo and Scotch tape while she’s at church choir, and then we can go to the library and the bank on the way home,” or whatever the errand list was that week. Whichever parent hadn’t gotten the library rotation would hear, “Daddy! Mommy took me to the library!” or, “Mommy, guess where Daddy and I went?” Because when you’re 4 years old and perpetually book-short, “Why don’t we go to the library?” is one of those suggestions that can only be met with, “HOLY CRUD YES HOW BRILLIANT I LOVE YOU YOU ARE THE BEST PARENT EVER.” Every. Single. Time.

But the library itself? It was brown and small; it was quiet and had the right kind of quiet that libraries should have, and it had the right kind of booky smell that libraries should have. But it also had a horrible habit of stocking books two and seven of whatever series you wanted to read, and I had already read most of what was there before I could really remember being old enough to read it. This was in Omaha, where literature and education are less a priority than they are here. Their library system was extremely sporadic about use of the rocket ship or atom stickers that most science fiction readers talk about, so I didn’t really connect with genre as a marker of things I liked until I had a moment of epiphany when I was much older. They had the barbaric practice of limiting children to ten books at a time, under which system I chafed horribly. I read no more slowly then than I do now, but children’s books are shorter, so I would end up rereading whatever I’d liked of the ten books several times in the week, plus several of my own books at home. And interlibrary loan was a thing of dreams then. If it wasn’t there, well, it wasn’t. You went to the library to get what was at the library. Other branches? What other branches?

So I spent much of my childhood yearning for Grandpa’s library, because what you wanted was already there. With adult perspective, this is not because I went there less often, although of course that helped. Grandpa’s main library was the Hennepin County one by Brookdale, although he also went to the little one in Brooklyn Park. It really was gigantic. It really was full of wonders. Objectively, it is an amazing library. And this was readily apparent to me from the time I was first taken there, which was when I was very, very small, because it was readily apparent to Grandpa that I was the sort of small person who liked the kinds of outings he liked pretty much immediately.

So my first library, my home library when I was small…doesn’t have the traditional “I grew up to be an author” library magic. It was a good place. I liked going there. It was enough for me to like it. Sometimes a like letter is enough.

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Books read, early November

Richard N. Frye, The Heritage of Central Asia: From Antiquity to the Turkish Expansion. Mostly Turkmenistan and the bits just around it. If you’re trying to fill in early Turkmen history, here’s a start but not a lot of detail/depth.

Daryl Gregory, Afterparty. Near-future SF with designer drugs and a lot of discussion about neurology and religion/atheism. The “party” aspect of the title is not very present in the book–there’s a lot more running around trying to control one’s mental health under the influence of unknown newly engineered substances and also not get killed by various groups.

Ilyon, Samguk Yusa: Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea. Brief tales, good background in an area that’s difficult to find in English. One of the worst copy-editing jobs I’ve ever encountered, though.

Carolyn Johnston, Voices of Cherokee Women. Quite often I say of the works of nonfiction I discuss here, “Does what it says on the tin.” This is the opposite. It is substantially not the voices of Cherokee women. It is mostly the voices of white men, sometimes the voices of white women, and only a small percentage the voices of Cherokee women. Nor are the passages quoted from white people about the Cherokee people particularly well-focused on the women’s roles or experiences. My friends who bought me this as a present were doing a very good thing, because I would have loved a book that actually was Cherokee women’s perspective. This is not it. It’s disjointed, and there’s no particular reason you should read it.

Laurie R. King, With Child. Another mystery in the Kate Martinelli series. I wouldn’t start here–a lot of the emotional resonance is dependent upon already knowing who these characters are and how they relate to each other, and it’s very much a characterization book rather than a pure mystery. A good installment in that series, though.

Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem. Discussed elsewhere.

Judith Mackrell, Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation. There were all sorts of chewy little details in this book–things that make utter sense in context once you come to them, but are just not the way history is usually presented in our current context. For example, in the introductory section about WWI, there was a bit where two young women shared a comforting needle of morphine on the night when a young man they cared about was shipped out to the trenches in France. Not the standard view of the young ladies in their victory bodices, and another piece of the lead-in to how the Roaring Twenties became the Roaring Twenties. There were some weird quirks in this book, though–for example, Mackrell’s refusal to call Emerald Cunard “Emerald,” insisting on “Maud” when very few people know her by that name and it was not the one she chose–and it fell apart in the last section, when Mackrell seemed to have forgotten that she herself had deliberately chosen to write a book about flappers. It wasn’t that she randomly selected six women of a particular age range and–oh my, who could have guessed–ended up with Zelda Fitzgerald and Tallulah Bankhead among them. It’s that she deliberately picked these women. And they’re interesting women! But then going on to generalize about the achievements of women in this age range when women in the age range she covered included serious scientists, musicians, politicians, writers, and on and on–just not as much in the flapper set–was a step too far.

Carla Speed McNeil, Finder: Third World. I think my favorite Finder yet. Funny and weird and wry and full of world-buildingness. A perfectly cromulent place to start, although it won’t give you everything; what Finder will?

Paul Thomas Murphy, Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy. Detailed accounts of each of the assassination attempts on Queen Victoria plus the state of her monarchy around them. An interesting angle, and while it looked like a fat tome, it was a very quick read for its size.

Greg Rucka, Lazarus Two. Another chunk of story in this post-apocalyptic graphic novel series. Definitely does not stand on its own. Go back and start with one if you want engineered warriors in major social inequality. Which you might. It sounds like you.

Brian Staveley, The Emperor’s Blades. Errrrgh. So frustrating. Two thirds of the point-of-view characters–far, far more by page count–were doing absolutely standard-issue fantasy novel things. Pseudo-Buddhist monk training in one case (although in Staveley’s favor, he does not have delusions about Buddhism being a religion of peace); military training in the other. Mostly quite, quite obvious. And the third POV was their sister the finance minister, and she got hardly any page count. She was the interesting one! She was the one who was not cut from the same cloth as dozens of others! Sigh, SIGH. I like a big fat fantasy novel from time to time, and this one was readable for that (especially if you are a sucker for training sequences, which…I am not really…but a lot of fantasy readers are), but there was the hint that it could have been so much more. Maybe the sequel will be? Maybe?

Peter Watts, Beyond the Rift. Significant overlap with earlier Peter Watts short story collection, but still enough new stuff to be worth the time.

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The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

Review copy provided by Tor Books.

I don’t usually note the translator of translated works I read, but in this case it’s Ken Liu, and he is himself a notable writer of science fiction. It’s one of the best works of translation I’ve ever read: the translator notes are clear, concise, and well-chosen. At the risk of playing armchair psychologist, I would guess that Ken has a lot of insight into what he would want someone in China or Tanzania or Bosnia to know about his stories if they didn’t have that background, while simultaneously being able to say, “Ah, okay, here’s a place Anglo readers are going to trip.”

As for Cixin Liu’s book itself, I recommend it to hard SF readers and to people interested in China, because oh my goodness, it is so Chinese. It starts with the Cultural Revolution, and the awareness of that permeates the book so thoroughly. Even western authors who are trying to write about Chinese characters who endured that period have never managed, in my opinion, to make it so organic and integral as it is to these characters’ thought processes. It shapes all their reactions to the science fictional elements. The fact of having to rephrase “sunspots” so that they don’t have political implications is exactly the sort of grounding detail it’s hard to figure out you’ll need from a different cultural background. Of course a scientist who has had that as their life circumstance will react very differently to news of aliens, will speculate quite differently about who those aliens might be and how humans should react to them. It’s hard to get all that right from the outside. This is why we need more SF in translation.

So anyway: you have people–scientists, thinkers, mostly, celebrities, a few ordinary people–playing a game that’s helping them think through the biggest news in the world: that aliens are coming. That aliens have already interfered from afar and are about to interfere from closer up. And I don’t want to spoiler more than that. It’s fun, it’s good, you should read it. Especially if you like near-future SF or literature in translation, but especially especially if you like both.

Please consider using our link to buy The Three-Body Problem at Amazon.

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Revising Humor

One of the things I find hardest in the revision process, that I don’t remember seeing people talk about much, is revising the funny parts. It’s not the ones that aren’t working that trouble me–those are easy enough with good feedback. I have the lovely kind of critique group that will say, “And that line about [blah] was just awful, it just didn’t work,” if I really missed with something that was attempting to be funny. (I even trust them to say, “What was that about [thing]? I didn’t get that part,” if the attempt at humor is so bad as to be not clearly an attempt at humor, but happily for me they haven’t had to do that yet.)

No, for me the problem is more the opposite: revising other things around something that is working as a piece of humor. Mostly I try not to have JOKES in my work. I often say things like, “I don’t like humorous fantasy because I like things that are funny,” and this is snide and horrible of me but also sort of true: with the exception of Terry Pratchett, most of the authors whose work got labeled humorous fantasy when I was imprinting on sub-genres as a teenager were just not funny. They were jokey and horrible, always jogging your elbow to make sure that you got it (GET IT GET IT DO YOU GET IT?), but not actually funny. Whereas there were plenty of people who weren’t labeled humorous fantasy but could make me have to put the bookmark in the book so I didn’t lose my place while laughing.

But the thing about that kind of integrated amusing bit, as opposed to JOKES, is that if you’re revising a manuscript, you have to look at it all the time along with everything else. If you’re changing a detail–like whether some key event is mentioned by the characters as happening over takeout pizza instead of home-cooked stew, or whether they say they’re expecting someone to arrive at 8 instead of 7, or whether you had two days in a row being Saturday and have to fix the timeline–it’s the sort of detail that you have to read carefully to make sure you get all the references to. It can be important in characterization or in making the details of an action plot flow exactly right; it’s the kind of thing that’s worth getting right. And yet it means detailed, close reading of the whole section in which it appears–funny parts included.

Now. Think about the funny stories you have about your own life. Think about the times you’ve told them. Imagine that you’ve told them four, five, six times in a row–to utter silence. No response. Not a groan, not an eyeroll. Nothing. Wouldn’t you consider not telling that funny story any more? Wouldn’t you at least change how you tell it? This, for me, is the biggest hazard of revision of something humorous: the risk of over-revision. There’s no way to make the same lines feel fresh and funny to me each time, and without the direct feedback, I start to feel like they need changing just because…well, just because.

I’ve contemplated reading manuscripts to an audience every so often, just to see the reactions and remind myself that the funny bits are funny, the startling bits are startling, and not over-revise the silly thing, but while that has its benefits, I think it also has its drawbacks. Chief among them is that most people experiencing a particular manuscript will experience it in its written form. So “this works when I’m reading it with the right intonations” will only get me so far; I still have to believe that it works as a piece of written work. So I think I just have to re-watch Bull Durham every so often (it’s full of great advice! you just have to translate from baseball and/or sex to writing) and not trip over my own feet too much when revising humor. Even when I’m getting the details surrounding the funny parts right. Because “you have to get all new funny sections every time you have to change a detail” is just not a feasible option.

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I’ve latched onto something here, but I’m not sure it’s the affirmative.

I was singing “Accentuate the Positive” this afternoon, because I am clinging rather stubbornly to this as a theme this week, and also because we watched “LA Confidential” with my workout. (I love that movie, and Alec had never seen it.) And then I got to a line that’s always bothered me.

To illustrate my last remark: Jonah and the whale, Noah and the ark!

Okay, no. Jonah may be the single worst figure in the western tradition–religious, historical, literary–that the songwriter could have chosen for this line. This is just a terrible line. Jonah? Is one of the Bible’s great whiners. If you open the Bible to a random page, you will find someone who accentuated the positive and eliminated the negative better than Jonah. Go ahead, do it. “And there they found the Moabites, who were pasturing their goats–” And the subtext, friends, is that both Moabites and goats were making a great deal less fuss about the whole thing than Jonah would have. “Joseph in the jail.” “Isaac on the stone.” Literally any figure in the Bible. Job on the dung heap, though I haven’t made that scan yet: still more of a positive thinker than ol’ Jonah.

Ending up in the whale is not just one of those things that could happen to any of us, like having to get your milk from Hell or your significant other dying and getting turned into the Moon. Jonah gets swallowed by the whale (Leviathan, whatevs) for very specific reasons in that Bible story, and it’s because he won’t stop lipping off to God about how he doesn’t waaaaant to go prophesy in Niiiiiineveh.

And it’s not like “whale” is needed to make the rhyme work. The things that rhyme in this verse are remark, ark, dark. So literally anything that goes DAH dah Dah dah DAH would have fit just fine. You need a stinger and two iambs, which is just about the easiest thing to find in English, and you need them to be more positive than Jonah, which is just about the easiest thing to find in Western cultural references.

For example, may I suggest “Brutus and the knife”? He was certainly taking a more proactive approach to his problems “when everything looked so dark” than running from them and whining and pitching fits at God, which is where Jonah was at the whale portion of that story. But people remember what Brutus did with the knife, and Jonah…well, we’re just supposed to remember that there was something something whale. You cannot trust scansion, people! Scansion is a cruel, false mistress!

I still do not advocate messing with Mr. In-Between. Let no one take this post as favoring messing with Mr. In-Between. I just had to get the thing about Jonah off my chest. It’s the sort of thing I know a lot of you think about, and I needed to let you know you weren’t alone.

Okay, so probably not. But you might now! And my work is done.

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Now don’t say I never give you anything nice.

1. Yesterday my friend Ginger Weil and I both had stories in the new issue of Apex. Mine is called The New Girl and is in the same universe as some other stories you’ve seen from me–most recently “The Salt Path,” also in Apex. Ginger’s is The Stagman’s Song and happens to be her professional fiction debut. Go, read, enjoy. (There’s also the rest of Apex I haven’t gotten to yet.)

2. Today I have a story in Nature, Boundary Waters. There is also a guest blog post from me on the Nature blog about it. So if you don’t have time to read “The New Girl” and “The Stagman’s Song,” “Boundary Waters” is much shorter but one hopes also a good read. (My two pieces go thematically together more than I expected, since I didn’t write them together and couldn’t plan that they would be published together. Very different settings and so on. See what you think.)

3. Speaking of my stories, there’s still time left in the Not Our Kind Kickstarter. It’s more than 60% funded, and there are new backer rewards that are worth checking out.

4. Not at all speaking of my stories, Tim is having his holiday print sale early this year. Lots of excellent new work in that as well as old favorites, and an easy way to see the existing photo gallery behind that link if you’ve been trying to remember what it was you wanted.

5. I have been doing a new craft project or art project or something. I have been making things. And the problem is, I am surprising people with these things for Christmas, so I cannot say what they are. I am even surprising Mark, so when he isn’t traveling for work, my materials get bundled away into my office closet. I am really not good at not talking about this kind of project, and it’s driving me a bit bazoo to not be able to talk about what I’m figuring out from first principles and what I’m learning from other people’s successes. A few of you are getting this on email. The people I would most want to say it to, though, are my mom and Stella and Sherry, and they are the people who most need surprising. It keeps coming up naturally in conversation and making me go, “Nnnng!” There was even a Terry Pratchett joke I couldn’t make yesterday. It is so unfair, and we’re nowhere near Christmas yet. (On the other hand, we are near enough to Christmas that I do need to keep working steadily on these items when Mark is out of town!) I finished Kev’s yesterday, and it’s lovely, it’s–

Not a pony. It is not a pony. Nobody is getting a pony.

That’s all I have to say about that.

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Books read, late October

Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, editors, Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands. I read some of the Borderlands books when I was a teenager, when I could find them in used bookstores mostly. This collection is much newer–a few years old–and features stories by a much newer set of authors as well as authors whose Borderlands stories I loved as a teenager. There is a tendency for Borderlands stories to feel quasi-autobiographical, and this works beautifully for some authors and less well for others. Catherynne M. Valente, for example, wrote a story that fits so perfectly in the Borderlands universe that one is tempted to explain it with the year she spent in Bordertown in college. Other newcomers who fit in so seamlessly that one is sure they have always been there include Amal El-Mohtar, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Janni Lee Simner; stories by Emma Bull and co-written by Ellen Kushner and Terri Windling reminded me of what I’ve always liked about this series.

Chaz Brenchley, Bitter Waters. Discussed elsewhere.

A. S. Byatt, The Biographer’s Tale. This felt a bit like an out-take, like a run-up to better work, particularly The Children’s Book. There were some goodish bits, but mostly it was a bit abstracted and none of the major characters ever really connected for me.

Jean-Pierre Courtiau, Paris: Cent Ans De Fantasmes Architecturaux Et De Projets Fous. Projets Fous: crazy projects. Yep. This is a French book of pictures and discussions of the crazy stuff people have proposed to do to Paris. Like enclosing Notre Dame in plexiglass. My standards for crazy are probably a bit high, but it was still entertaining.

Max Gladstone, Two Serpents Rise. The middle of the three books of the Craft in terms of publication order, the first chronologically. I don’t know anybody who’s started here, and I wouldn’t, but I was still glad to read it and am still looking forward to more.

Ross King, Leonardo and the Last Supper. A bit disappointing as Ross King books go: not a lot of nitty gritty about pigments or materials. Still reasonable if you’re looking for a discussion of what it says on the tin. Just not as all-out nerdy about How He/They Did That as King’s usual stuff.

Margaret Maron, Death of a Butterfly and Death in Blue Folders. Two in a mystery series that impinge a bit on the New York art world of their time (a few decades back). I’m generally on the lookout for a readable new mystery series right now, but this isn’t actually helpful, because the library only has one more. I found them quite readable, though, and will be glad to get to that one. Artists, organizational details, people sorting themselves out despite inauspicious beginnings sometimes.

Juhani Paasivirta, Finland and Europe: The Period of Autonomy and the International Crises, 1808-1914. Weirdly focused on newspapers and their subscribers, but okay, that’s useful to know. Also touches on pieces like how Russia wanted their new Grand Duchy not to have access to Sweden and how they attempted to cut that tie and where they succeeded and failed.

Jim Rasenberger, High Steel: The Daring Men Who Built the World’s Greatest Skyline, 1881 to the Present. A bit breathless, both about New York and about its steelworkers; my consistent mistyping of this title as “darling men” was perhaps Freudian. Also the timing of “the present” was very close on the heels of 9/11/01, so there was quite a lot of that and not a lot of the building thereafter. This is understandable–it’s an event that’s hard to overstate in the history of that skyline. But inevitably you will get a different perspective on what the work is like a few months after than a few years. Anyway, there were some startling and some head-shaking anecdotes in this. It was not ultimately very deep, but it didn’t have to be. The interviews with/profiles of steelworkers from different ethnic groups were worth the price of admission alone.

Sarah Rees Brennan, Unmade. The end of its trilogy, and for the love of Pete do not start here. I felt that it was a satisfying ending, albeit rather tied up in a bow in a couple of ways that were predictably more for its main audience than for me. If you’re worried that she won’t carry through on some of the darker aspects of the premise, though–no, there’s dark here, there’s follow-through. It’s not a downer of an ending, but it also doesn’t flinch from consequences.

Michael Roberts, Essays in Swedish History. Mostly the early modern period here. Pre-industrial, mostly politics, mostly powerful groups and political things rather than peasants and artisans, but I’m told one can’t have everything, and certainly one can’t fit it all in one volume.

Sylvia Townsend Warner, Summer Will Show. Sylvia Townsend Warner never met an Aristotelian unity she gave a damn about, and this book is not going anywhere it looks like it might from the first few pages. It is a ’48er book. There are places where its attitudes about race and religion are remarkably progressive for its time, and places where that still falls short, just for a warning if you’re not up for that. But gosh. What a thing. What an odd, perfectly itself sort of thing to have, wandering around the barricades with its jewelry and its prejudices and the prejudices of other people it can see clearly. Gosh.

Peter Watts, Beyond the Rift. Short story collection that overlaps only somewhat with the one I read a few weeks back, plenty of other things to ?enjoy? ?appreciate? whatever the verb is for what one does with Peter Watts stories. Other than read. Read is a good verb.

Roger Zelazny, Unicorn Variations. There is only so much first-person asshole narrator one can have at once, and this was right up at the edge of that for me. Several bits of this are the places where Zelazny was most influenced by Hemingway, which…made me want to sit him down with several volumes of Elizabeth Gaskell until he felt better. This sort of impulse rarely ends well.