Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Yesterday, after picking up some last minute things for our costumes, we drove up Peachtree to Borders at Buckhead, to get copies of Publisher's Weekly and Locus, both of which have reviews of Murder of Angels in their latest issues. On the one hand, having been through this so many times before — the wait to see if I'll get reviews and if the reviews will be positive — hasn't really dulled the attendant dread, and on the other hand, having been through this so many times before, it's becoming a bit monotonous, in a same-dren-different-day kind of way. The monotony may not be a bad thing, though. This is the first time I've managed not to let my stomach tie itself in knots over forthcoming reviews; everything, no matter how terrible, becomes mundane, if only we are forced to endure it enough times. Anyway, here are the two reviews in question (WARNING: There will invariably be MAJOR SPOILERS):
From Publisher's Weekly:
MURDER OF ANGELS
Caitlin R. Kiernan. Roc, $14 paper
(352p) ISBN 0-451-45996-2
In this stylish sequel to Kiernan's debut novel, Silk (1998), it's been 10 years since a drug-field experiment opened a window on an alternate world of horrors that pushed angst-scarred Spyder Baxter to suicide, and its survivors are still reeling from the aftershocks. Daria Parker has parlayed some of her experience into a successful music career, but her lover, Niki Ky, is wracked by full-blown schizophrenic episodes in which Spyder beckons her from a dimension beyond death. When Niki follows Spyder's instruction to make a fatal plunge from San Francisco's Bay Bridge, she awakens in a gothic realm of death and darkness where she plays a key role in an intrigue Spyder has engineered to draw out a demonic entity known as "the Dragon." Meanwhile, Daria struggles in the world of the living to retrieve and protect an artifact Niki needs to keep horrors in the Dragon's world from erupting into our own. Though the plot often mystifies, the novel's unusual blend of otherworldly and supernatural horror gives it a uniquely weird cast. Kiernan's true achievement, however, is the careful crafting of her mellifluous prose to sustain an intense atmosphere of dread. Dream and nightmare, hallucination and reality, private fantasy and objective experience all merge seamlessly, making this one of the more relentless horror reads of the year. Agent, Merrilee Heifetz. (Sept. 7)
FYI: Since Silk shared the International Horror Critics Award, expectations are high for this sequel. The author's performance in a goth band helps keep her name current in fan circles.
No, I am not currently in a band, goth or otherwise. I have not been since frelling 1997...
Murder of Angels, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc 0-451-45996-2, $14.00, 352 pp., tp) September 2004. Cover by Steve Stone.
Murder of Angels may be Kiernan's best book to date, joining her always prodigious gift for language with a wrenching, compelling story — and there are no shortages of monsters, fantasy vistas, or sudden reversals of fortune for the characters, either.
While this is a sequel to Kiernan's debut novel Silk, set some ten years after the conclusion of that book, it stands alone well, with the relevant events from Silk woven skillfully into the backstory. The central character of Silk was the enigmatic Spyder Baxter, a sad and charismatic woman who transformed her childhood abuse into a disturbing personal mythology about angels and monsters — a mythology that gradually began to intrude on reality and affect others. Spyder didn't survive the events of Silk, but two of the other characters from that novel for the heart of Murder of Angels. Daria has gone from local musician to the heights of rock and roll stardom and partway back down again, her career endangered by debts, alcoholism, and the stress of dealing with her mentally disturbed lover. Niki Ky was the person hurt worst by Spyder's madness and death in Silk, and she has spent the ten years since in therapy and on medication to treat her persistent, horrifying hallucinations, doing her best to have a normal life with Daria.
Things are, if not exactly stable, at least consistent, until Niki's hallucinations become worse and more insistent, with strange creatures and ghosts from the past telling her that Spyder lives on in another world and needs Niki's help. Reluctantly, never quite sure of her own sanity, Niki sets out to do what Spyder wants, at the risk of destroying her own life with Daria. She is eventually drawn into a world parallel to our own, a dark place of bone bridges and basalt plains, populated by wonders and monsters — a world which may have been born of Spyder's imagination or which may have existed all along and has only been tainted by Spyder's exothermic trauma. Daria, too, is drawn into Spyder's plans, along with other characters from Silk (and one from Kiernan's Low Red Moon, in asort of parallel-universe cameo) who each have their own roles to play in what at first seems to be a clash between Good and Evil, but proves to be something altogether more ambiguous.
There's a scene in Murder of Angels when Niki's psychiatrist talks to her about syncretization, "taking elements from older stories and putting them together in new ways or combining them with other stories to make new and more useful myths." It's as good a way as any to examine what Kiernan has done in this novel, bringing together elements of horror, magical realism, experimental fiction, and even epic fantasy (complete with a Dragon and a broadsword, though neither play their standard roles). She makes these disparate elements fit almost seamlessly, at once crafting an exquisite dark fantasy and commenting on the dangers of using fantasy to understand and cope with the difficulties of life. As Niki's psychiatrist says, "It can be very dangerous, creating myths." But in the skilled hands of a myth-maker like Kiernan, it's more than worth the risk.
So, there you go. Ta-dah.
There was no writing yesterday, There should have been, but there wasn't. It wasn't an absinthe day, but rather a Valium day, as things turned out. Today may only be a caffeine day, and, hopefully, it will also be a writing day (but I'm not making any promises). As Dragon*Con looms nearer, distractions become ever more numerous. A package from Spooky's mother arrived from Rhode Island, including two books on Woonsocket and the lower Blackstone River Valley, both of which will be very helpful in the writing of Daughter of Hounds (whenever that finally begins). Last night, we worked on a pulse-pistol holster and (you guessed it) played Morrowind. I finally vanquished the fekkiks hiding out in Sargon and got an ebony curass for my troubles, worth far, far more than the mere 500 gps the Fighter's Guild was paying me to make the hit. Then, after a stop in Ald-Ruhn, I took a home in Balmora. Having made twelfth level, I figured I deserved a home. And it seemed only fitting that it should be the annoying pillow lady's, the site of my first Fighter's-Guild job. I killed her, stashed my belongings in her attic, discarded 36 pillows, and slept in a real bed. You know, if someone would ask me to write a Morrowind novel, this whole thing would suddenly become work, and I'd feel a lot less guilty about all the time I'm giving this game.
I also enjoyed Poppy's MORON rant yesterday.
Whoops. I see by the flashing LED in my left wrist that it's time to recharge my neural net...
Monday, August 30, 2004
First things first. As promised, here's my schedule for Dragon*Con '04 (a complete program can be downloaded at the Dragon*Con website):
Friday, Sept. 3
5:30 p.m. (Fairlie)
Gothic Journeys track
"Welcome to the Journey"
7 p.m. (Greenbriar)
"Connecting the Dots"
Saturday, Sept. 4
2:30 p.m. (Fairlie)
Gothic Journeys track
"Seeing is Writing: The Visionary Author"
5:30 p.m. (Greenbriar)
"Staying Afloat in an Ever-Changing Market"
7:00 p.m. (Williams)
Reading from Murder of Angels
8:30 p.m. (Fairlie)
Gothic Journeys track
"Theft or Flattery: The Truth About Fan Fiction"
10 p.m. (Fairlie)
Gothic Journeys track
"The Beautiful and the Dangerous: Vampires in Fiction" (because there always has to be a frelling vampire panel)
Sunday, Sept. 5 (note: on Saturday, the part of Caitlín will be played by Nar'eth)
2:30 p.m. (Bonn; Marriott)
5:30 p.m. (Fairlie)
Gothic Journeys track
Reading (probably a short story)
11:30 p.m. (Fairlie)
Gothic Journeys track
"Fangs, Fear, and Gore: Horror Literature and the Occult"
Monday, Sept. 6
1 p.m. (Greenbriar)
"Characters That Leap Off the Page"
4 p.m. (Greenbriar)
"The Future of Fantastic Fiction"
Unless otherwise noted, all locations (Greenbriar, Fairlie, etc.) are in the Hyatt. I'll be signing books (and selling books) after the readings.
Yesterday, I wrote 669 words on "Bradbury Weather" and finally escaped the Interminable Scene in which I was mired. Sure, there's a little tar on my feet, but at least the sabre-tooths didn't get me. I'm finding that one of the most vexing things about first-person narrative is the fact that, in the end, it's all dialogue. I don't know if a lot of readers (or even writers, even those who habitually use f-p narration) have ever stopped to consider this. Normally, I tend to think of a story I write as occurring in two sorts of Voice: 1) the author's voice, i.e., mine (what might be called style) and 2) the many distinct voices of the characters. However, in f-p, every word of the story is being spoken (written, same difference) by the central character, who also happens to be the narrator. When other characters speak, it's only the main character's recollection of their speech. So, there's never any escape from that dominating voice, which needs to remain "in character" throughout. At almost 7,000 words, I've reached a point with "Bradbury Weather" where I'm probably going to have to stop and read back over everything to be sure that the narration hasn't difted "out of character." This would not, of course, be a concern with third-person narration.
There wasn't much else to yesterday. I cooked a huge pot of chili, with tequila, lime, and porta bellas, and made quacamole. Spooky and I wasted most of the evening on Morrowind. Venting frustration and hostility, I went on a killing spree at the Dren Plantation and escaped with four bottles of skooma and the first volume of The Vampires of Vvarndenfell. I fled to Vivec to unload my booty. When an Ordinator tried to arrest me for the crimes at the plantation, I paid my fine (36 gp). Then I discovered he'd taken both the skooma and the book, so I picked a fight with him, resisted a second arrest, and killed him. I stole his very expensive armour and headed back to my room in Ald-Ruhn. A return trip to Vivic and numerous encounters with guards seem to indicate I'll not be held accountable for his death. Sweet. Then I took new orders from the Fighter's Guild in Ald-Ruhn and proceeded north on foot, walking all the way to Sheogorad to find a killer (that is, another killer besides myself) and his gang hiding out in Sargon and bring them to "justice." I have to admit, though the animation sucks and the game is devouring my sad, little life, I'm delighted with the moral ambiguities of Morrowind's. It has D&D beat, in that respect.
At 2:45 a.m., I made myself stop playing and go the hell to bed, where I lay awake awhile thinking about "Bradbury Weather." It's a good sign, when I lie awake thinking about a story. I lay there thinking that there ought to be zepplins on my Mars of the future, that zeps will be the primary mode of long-distance travel. I'm not sure how practical that is, but it's enormously satisfying from an aesthetic standpoint, which, of course, is ultimately what really matters.
I'm tempted to start a tirade on this thing with the French government forbidding Muslim women to wear head scarves in public schools (today's news pollution) and how much French and American fascism have in common, but what's the frelling point?
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Very soon, Murder of Angels will be in the stores (actually, it's probably already in the stores, just not on the shelves) and, like I've said, I'm so not ready for this. I'm not ready. There, I've said it three times now. I feel like I need to warn people, at least the people who've read Silk, that they should check their expectations. This is probably not what will be expected of a sequel to Silk. For starters, this is not a novel revolving around a Southern city's half-assed attempt at a punk scene. If Silk was a novel about the impact of history (past present) upon the present, of the hauntings facilitated by memory and consciousness, then Murder of Angels is a novel about taking responsibility for one's life and actions and loved ones in light of the weight of all that past. We move beyond existential shock in this one. Spyder Baxter did that in Silk, though I'm not sure anyone else did. Oh, and there's Spyder. I know a lot of readers have grown to fairly worship her, and there will be readers who are not pleased with who she's become in MoA. I worry about them a lot. When I started writing SIlk in '93, at age 29, I was awfully close to being Spyder Baxter, in almost every sense. But this is more than a decade later. Writing this book, I was closer to Daria and Niki than to Spyder. No, not to the people they were in Silk, because this is a decade later, but to the people they've become. I'm not making much sense. We're long past the point where I can shelter this book or make excuses for it. It has to take care of itself now.
I took advantage of my laziness yesterday to get out of the apartment. Spooky and I prowled about Morningside, Virginia Highlands, and parts adjacent. We located a Thai restaurant we haven't tried, which smelled invitingly of jasmine, but ended up having dinner at a trusted favourite (also Thai), instead of trying the new place. But some asshole had chopped down four very large, old trees near the trusted favourite, trees that were not only fine things in their own right, but which, if we must justify their lives by recourse to service to humans, kept the blazing afternoon sun off the restaurant. I hope there is a special Hell for tree murderers. There should be chainsaws and indifference. Atlanta is a city sorely lacking in greenspace, smothering in smog, and it can't afford to lose perfectly good, oxygen-producing trees. Anyway, we sweltered on the previously comfortable patio and tried to enjoy our dinner. We started with pork loin buried in mounds of fresh garlic, green and red chilies, cilantro, fish sauce, and lime, all on a bed of shredded cabbage, a dish so hot it really ought to be eaten last as it strips the taste buds and renders them useless for a day or so.
Where's the Lorax when you need him?
Of course, the Lorax failed.
The right side of my face still aches, but I seem to have recovered, otherwise.
Today, I have to get myself unmired from the "Bradbury Weather" scene in which I have mired myself. I feel like a mammoth stuck in tar up to my ass. The sabre-tooths are watching through the tall grass.
There was a great documentary on Frank Frazetta on IFC last night. Painting With Fire. I went through a "phase" as a child/preteen when my most favourite author was Edgar Rice Burroughs, and this was back when Ace was releasing all his books as paperbacks with those fabulous Frazetta covers. 1975-'78 or so, I guess. I was eleven, twelve, thirteen, etc. I still have all those paperbacks (which is surprising, as little survives from my tumultuous childhood) with their startling, terrifying, sexy, deliciously creepy covers, many of which were featured in Painting With Fire.
Saturday, August 28, 2004
My thanks for all the well wishes. I feel much, much better than I felt this time yesterday.
I did a meager 553 words on "Bradbury Weather" yesterday. I seem to be mired in a scene. I think I shall get nothing written today. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a good writing day. I'm tired of forcing myself, forcing the words, and I'm backing off today. Total word count on the story now stands at 6,226, when it "should" (by my own admittedly warped expectations) be closer to 8,026 by now. For the want of a nail, right? Anyway, it seems unlikely at this point that I'll finish this story before Dragon*Con, as I'd hoped.
Apparently, some online booksellers have already received copies of Murder of Angels, and some people have already received their pre-ordered copies. That's about two weeks ahead of schedule, as the book's street date is September 7th. I don't expect to see it in book stores until then.
Taking Lives was an odd film, poorly paced, seemingly at a loss for identity, and clumsy in the presentation and resolution of its central mystery. The last ten minutes weren't too bad. Ethan Hawke did the best he could, considering, and Angelina Jolie, though a joy to look at, was clearly moving on autopilot. Afterwards, I played a little Morrowind, but not much. I've taken on the task of ridding Vos of a coven of troublesome necromancers, put I'm having trouble locating the woman who I've agreed to aid in the task. Nar'eth the Dunmer isn't so different from Nar'eth the Nebari. Basically, she gets paid to fuck people up and has no problems killing when asked and paid well. It's an interesting alter-ego I've unleashed. There's no pretext at nobility and justification, and moral quandaries are non-existent. She's very practical about these things. I fell asleep about two a.m., and Spooky played until three.
Speaking of Nebari, Spooky worked on her makeup yesterday. It's coming along, as you can see from the photo below.
Friday, August 27, 2004
First, something quite drad, a link sent to me by "cadyolive" a couple of days back (it's one of the things I kept forgetting yesterday): Patti Smith on H. P. Lovecraft. How cool is that?
Anyway, yesterday I was finally forced to admit that, yes, I'm sick. I was extremely loathe to do so, as it ends a long, long streak of total wellness. I don't think I've contracted anything worth noting in well over a year. But I have this, whatever this is. Jennifer had it and has recovered, and Spooky got it and is mostly recovered. I'm the lucky third. I was working on "Bradbury Weather" yesterday, did about 75 words, and had to stop and lie down. Ugh. I spent the evening weak and slightly achey, dizzy, nauseous from swallowing the dren draining from my sinuses, feeling fevery though my temperature never wavered from its normal 97.6-97.8F range. I took Tylenol and my nose was swabbed with zinc. This morning I feel a little better, less weak, and I hope to be able write. I have to get completely over this very, very quickly, as Dragon*Con is fast approaching.
Ashley Cheng of Bethesda Softworks made good on his promise. My gratis copy of the "Game of the Year" edition of Morrowind arrived a couple of days ago. I am again sucked into Vvardenfell. My Dunmer fighter has progressed to ninth level and caught her first glimpse of the Ghostfence. And Spooky's hooked, too. Which is just what we needed, the both of us addicted to this frelling game. She's playing a Khajiit "witch hunter" mage named Syllahr. Verily, we are doomed. I figure Jennifer's next, though she never plays video games.
The final set of corrections on The Dry Salvages were e-mailed to the very patient Bill Schafer yesterday afternoon. It might not be perfect, but it's now much perfecter than the ARC text. It will be released in October, hopefully at the same time as the "Mercury" chapbook and the long-delayed subpress edition of Low Red Moon.
I'm chomping at the bit to see Jet Li in Hero, as well as the Director's Cut of Donnie Darko. But tonight is Kid Night, which I need more than usual, and I think we're going to watch Taking Lives. I don't yet know what the second feature will be. Morrowind, most likely. *sigh*
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Addendum: I remembered one of the things I was pretty sure that I'd forgotten. This comes from an interview with Guillermo del Toro, by way of Blu, and is his response when asked how often he hears questions like "Why actively put horror into the world? Isn't there enough already":
GdT: Very rarely, but I had to hear that for years from my family, especially my grandmother, whom I grew up with. She was on her deathbed, and I was showing her my portfolio of makeup effects and she said, 'Why were you never able to do something beautiful?' I said to her, 'To me, this is beautiful.' I think it's a very simple question and people have the right to ask it, but the answer is equally simple: Art is a reconstruction of the world, and violence and horror are absolutely as much part of the world as butterflies and happy faces. There are so many more people trying to sell us the bullshit that the world has to be happy and the world has to be sunny, and you have to have good breath and shiny hair. With this, we lose touch with imperfection and that makes for a really harsh, cold measure to live by. I think horror makes us human, because it reminds us of our imperfection.
That part about beauty really got me. I think, a lot of times, people look at my writing and see only "scary," not understanding the complexity of "horror," which, of course, must include "beauty." Narcissa Snow is a good example. I wrote her to be terrible, broken, insane, misguided, sadistic, monstrous, and so forth, but always, always beautiful in a senese far beyond and more profound than any simplistic concept of physical beauty (though, ironically, she has that, too).
Go write, Caitlín. Leave the people alone.
Yesterday...gods. The sort of day when resolve and the best of intentions are rendered irrelevant by the force of distraction. Which is to say, nothing was written on "Bradbury Weather." And having left the piece where I did has made me a bit nervous. It's one thing to get fed up with a story and need some time away from it. It's another entirely to have the process interrupted this way. So, most of today will be spent getting back into "Bradbury Weather."
But, though messy, yesterday was not an entirely unproductive day. I had another meeting with Marvel, which was very promising, encouraging, but we're a ways from the point where I can publically say what's brewing. Be patient. Elsewise, we worked on The Dry Salvages frelling again. Bill Schaefer sent a pdf. of the latest layout, and I thought it'd be a simple matter of checking to be sure all my changes had been made. Turns out, though, I must have been about half-tinked when I did the very last bit of editing a couple of weeks ago, because there were a bunch of small, line-edit type changes that I'd made but somehow not sent to subpress. Grrrrrr. So, I bitched and moaned and cursed myself until Spooky finally made me leave the office so she could clean up the mess herself. Which she did, because she rocks. Today, we mail the line edits back, and then I suppose I'll need to look at another "final" version of the layout. I really hate it when something is so undoubtedly my fault.
Have a look at The Adventures of Boschen and Nesuko by Sestuled (yep, the same Setsuled who is also known as Leh'agvoi and draws the Nar'eth manga). If only I had pointy ears, purple hair, and a longsword (sigh).
I have the feeling I haven't said what I meant to say this morning, or that I've said it all poorly. Ah, well. If more comes to mind later on, I shall erect an addendum in honour of my fallen memory. Meanwhile, the HUGE eBay sale continues...
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Addendum: The new longer trailer (1:54 minutes) for Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars is now online at Apple (of course). It's exquisite.
This made my day suck 150% less.
Also, I'm extremely excited by the news of a Uranus-sized rocky planet found circling mu Arae.
And, of course, I shall remind you that we're in the middle of the postage-free if you "Buy-It-Now-With-PayPal" eBay sale on From Weird and Distant Shores and/or In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers. Take advantage of my generosity. It's a rare thing...
I've had to spend years training myself not to apologize for every possible transgression. So, I am not apologizing for the tone and/or content of yesterday's entry, despite my instincts to do so.
Yesterday, I spent about three hours on "Bradbury Weather," wrote (and rewrote, and re-rewrote) a mere 527 words, and finally conceded that the sinus trouble had me entirely too ill and distracted to concentrate. I think I feel a little better today, so, hopefully, it'll go better. I can't be sick right now, because there's just not time. There would have been time a month ago, but not now.
A pdf. from Subterranean Press just reached me, the new layout for the revised text of The Dry Salvages. That has to be proofed today, so I'm not sure if there will be time to get to "Bradbury Weather" again until tomorrow. Frustrating, but my fault for finding so much wrong with the Dry Salvages ARC. No, my fault for not having gotten it all right in the first frelling place.
(slightly off-topic posthumanist sentiment: I am, at this moment, even more sick than usual of the meatsack in which my consciousness is imprisoned. No, I mean really sick of it. Puking, self-amputation, self-flaying sick of it...Okay. There. I feel a little better now.)
What was I saying? What was I going to say?
Oh, yeah, A special today, in the HUGE eBay sale. For the next twenty-four hours, until 11:32 a.m. EST tomorrow morning (August 26th), postage is FREE on both From Weird and Distant Shores and In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers if you use eBay's "Buy It Now" feature and pay with PayPal. That's right. We'll pay the postage if you buy either, or both. But only until this time tomorrow morning.
Oh, and here's a spiffy site that a reader was kind enough to direct me towards. I now extend the favour to all of you: Fat-Pie.com. You'll want to thank me, but really, it's not necessary; my heart fairly bleeds altruism.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Yesterday, I wrote 1,010 words on "Bradbury Weather." I spent a good bit of the day getting a grasp on the Zubrin Mars Calendar. This story is shaping up to be darker sf than, say, The Dry Salvages. At least, I think it's darker, in that it's more concerned with human violence and weaknesses and fears than with great, cosmic Lovecraftian big-bads. A lot of my readers seem to disagree with me on this score. I thought, for example, that Low Red Moon was a far, far more horrific, frightening novel than Threshold. A lot of people didn't agree.
It might be the things I wrote yesterday, in part, which have me in this mood. But I know it's not only the things I wrote.
I'm sick of the internet, of Blogger, LiveJournal, Amazon, hypertext, e-mail, the whole goddamn mess of seemingly (but not actually) instantaneous communication.
I'm sick of video games.
I'm sick of the little plastic spouts with their convenient screw-on caps that juice cartons have to have now, helping to insure that no part of our lives can be free of petroleum byproducts.
Maybe I'm just sick. I think I have a minor sinus infection.
But if all that there is for me in life is this writing gig, then I'd really appreciate it if I could just focus on my writing. Not on reviews (both real and Amazonian), or sales figures, or return rates, or cover art, or schmoozing with other authors, or popularity, or any of that crap. Just the writing.
Forget the signings and public appearances. Forget the interviews. It's nothing that has anything to do with writing. Celebrity and art are always at odds, even minor celebrity. You might win the hearts of the masses, but then you have to keep them happy, or they'll turn on you in a heartbeat. And they have sharp teeth. I'd rather not bother winning them over in the first place.
I'm trying to say something important about writing and about being an author, but I'm afraid that, for whatever reason, I'm not being very clear.
If it were only a matter of writing my stories, of sitting in this dark little room, writing my stories. If it were only a matter of being the best artist that I can be. That's exactly what it never can be.
I have long bemoaned the online journal as a place to whine and self-pity. I certainly shouldn't be perpetuating the problem myself.
Monday, August 23, 2004
Yesterday, I wrote 1,051 words on "Bradbury Weather." It's coming along quite nicely, I think. I've still found no way of reconciling the problematic first-person narrative, which, of course, is only problematic to me. But then, as the writer, my opinion is the only one that matters. Or. As the writer my opinion is the only one that doesn't matter.
Murder of Angels will be in stores in three weeks. I'm so not ready for that. Of course, my readiness or lack thereof is something else that doesn't matter. The book will be released, spend a few weeks on the trade paperback tables at the front of Borders and Barnes & Noble, then quietly take its place with my other books in the genre ghetto deep in the shadowy recesses of those same stores, and I'll still be trying to prepare myself for its release. That's the way it goes.
That $17 cheque from January 8th, the one I found when I cleaned my office a few weeks back, is still sitting here on my desk. I'm sure it thinks I don't love it, unless it thinks, instead, that I have an unnartural fondness for it, resulting in an unwillingness to set it free.
Yesterday, I left the house for the first time since Wednesday (August 18th). I'm not as bad about that as I used to be. I'd forgotten how strange the world out there looks when you haven't seen it for a few days. That's its real face, I believe. Familiarity hides the world's true nature. Oh, shut up, Caitlín.
Last night, I finished Crimson Skies by saving Chicago from the Die Spinne's monstrous tornado-generating zepplin. That was one of the most utterly frelling awesome gaming experiences of my life, and I can't believe I made it all the way through in the space of a one-week rental. It's a fairly short game, but I think everything else about it more than makes up for that. It kept me breathless and entertained and absorbed.
On the other hand, now I'm trying out Knights of the Old Republic, and I have to say that, so far, it's a gigantic, tedious disappointment. Right at the start, it gets a big black mark for not allowing you to play a non-human character when there are such marvelous alien races in the Star Wars mythos. Why would I want to be human when I could be a Wookie or a Twi'lek? The game seems to have a very steep learning curve and hits you with instructional overload right off in the form of an annoying orientation level. Blegh. But the worst thing so far is the fact that, mired in the d20 system utilized by D&D, KotOR randomly generates the results of your hostile encounters. If an enemy approaches, the game takes control of your character. There's no aiming, no shooting, just dull, helpless watching as it all becomes a spectator sport. Without a doubt, this has to be the lamest feature of any video game I've ever played. Ever. I know, the game's deciding how well you shoot, how hard you are to hit, etc., based on all those stats you distributed at the start, but, blegh. So far, this game has shown all the imagination and entertainment value of the last two Star Wars films. That's probably the worst insult I can think of, short of comparing it to an episode of Stargate: SG:1. Tedium, tedium, tedium. So far, thumbs down.
Okay. I have to work now and perpetuate the illusion that I'm something more than a gaming geek.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
After several nights of not sleeping well at all, nights when the nightmares were so loud and clear the sleep I got seemed inconsequential, I resorted to Ambien. I'm more rested this morning, but a little groggy. The dreams left me alone until well after sunrise. That was a relief. Last night, I played more Crimson Skies (I flew through the volcano, destroyed the Die Spinne bases, saw that Maria tralk get what she had coming, then headed back to Chicago to try and stop the huge, weather-altering zep), then we watched Clerks on IFC. Silent Bob still rocks my world.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,193 words on "Bradbury Weather" (the total now at 2,886). I hope to do another 1,000+ words today. I'm liking this story, much more than the frustrating "The Pearl Diver," but it's in first person (again), and I am vexed by my inability to suspend my own disbelief. In The Dry Salvages, I like to think I managed to set out a template for defusing the inherent weakness of f-p past tense. But. I can't turn around and use all those same tricks again in "Bradbury Weather." As they say, that shark's been jumped, that cow's been flung. I have to find another way of effectively conveying that this story is an artefact, of explaining its existence. It matters not to me how comfortable others are with first person. I have to buy this if I'm to find a way to THE END. Regardless, it's good to be writing again. Oh, and I need to find a mechanism to explain the absence of men on a colonized Mars.
Also, yesterday, I updated iTunes (to 4.6) and Quicktime (to 6.5.1). Woo hoo.
Dragon*Con is now a scant two weeks away, and Spooky and I are trying to attend to all the little odds and ends of our costumes. I still need a hoslter for the pulse pistol, and there's a little more to be done on my gauntlets. Spooky's working on her make-up, which, unlike me, she's doing for herself, and we both have to get our wigs done on September 1st. Of course, sadly, Dragon*Con is not only about costuming. I also have to decide what I'll be reading on Sunday (Sept. 5th) and give a few of the panel topics some thought. This will be my eleventh consecutive Dragon*Con.
Thanks to everyone whose taken part of the HUGE eBay auction thus far. Remember to let us know exactly how you want your books inscribed.
I think Jennifer's going to see Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2 at The Fox tonight. I really wanted to go. I haven't seen a single movie at The Fox all frelling summer, and this is the last of the season. But there's writing to do. *sigh*
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Yesterday, I did 857 words on "Bradbury Weather" and thoroughly rewrote the pages I did on Thursday. That brings the total up to 1,669 words thus far; I expect this to be a long story. Yesterday, it required me to spend some considerable time researching Spanish profanity, specifically from Panama and Puerto Rico. Oh, and I got an e-mail from Bill Schafer at subpress threatening my life if I dared to change the title, so I guess that I shan't, as Spooky is rather fond of my life. I will try to do a solid thousand words on the story today.
It's a peculiar piece, a little Raymond Chandler, a little Zane Grey, a little Philip K. Dick.
Did I mention Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends on the Cartoon Network? It's my new favorite television show, after Farscape. I think I have a crush on Frankie. It wouldn't be my first cartoon crush.
Last night, Spooky, Jennifer, and I watched Hellboy on DVD (I saw it at the theatre, loved it, and have been waiting on the DVD to see it again). This DVD contains one of the absolute best "making of" documentaries I've ever seen, as well as a few missing deleted scenes and such. But the documentary was great. Afterwards, I played a couple hours of Crimson Skies (I have reached South America, after that Maria tralk betrayed me), but managed to get to sleep at the relatively reasonable hour of (roughly) 3 a.m. I woke to The Rebirth of Mothra. Jesus, Moll and Lara freak me out. If only they wouldn't sing.
Don't forget the HUGE eBay auction, now in progress. And because Saturdays are slow and every book we sell is one less book we have to move to the new place, from now until midnight tonight (midnight Pacific, 3 a.m. EST), every "Buy It Now" purchase will get you the free Nyarlathotep CD plus a free monster doodle.
And now I should go. Brush my teeth. Exercise. Write. You know the drill.
Friday, August 20, 2004
So, last night my cat, who is elderly in years (15+), but still acts like a kitten about half the time, finally set me straight on this whole silly ADD thing. Well, at least on cat ADD. I was trying to play Crimson Skies, and she was trying to get my attention by flipping the pages of a book on the coffee table (this is a common ploy of hers). Finally, I'd had enough and yelled at her to please frelling stop.
"I can't," she replied.
"Why the hell not!" I growled, gripping the XBox controller tighter.
"I have ADD," she said.
"You do not have ADD."
"Sure I do."
"Sophie, you don't even know what ADD stands for."
"Sure I do."
"Fine. Then tell me."
Now, it's rare that I manage to catch her furry little butt in a full-on lie, but this time, this time I was sure. So I admit I awaited her answer with a certain degree of satisfaction.
"ADD," she began, "stands for Attention Deficit Disorder." (Damn, I snarled silently, foiled again). Or," she continued, "more precisely, its the deficit of attention which causes me to behave disorderly."
And the worst part is, I think she's immortal.
Last night, while I slept, Hinderance (the iBook formerly known as Victoria Regina), completed my 200th SETI@Home data unit. That's a total CPU time of 6,317 hours, 23 minutes in just over a year, which places me in the 86.708 percentile. Only 2,076 other SETI users have this rank, out of a total of 5,101,408. Which is to say, I'm presently ranked at 676,022nd place. I think I may be more excited about finishing my 200th unit than I am about the impending release of Murder of Angels. Oh, I know the odds are stacked against SETI's success, but I also know there is a chance of success, no matter how slim, and, as I may have said before, I think that this serves approximately the same fuction for me that prayer serves for many religious people. It gives me some small hope.
I finally began the new short story yesterday, the one for subpress. Because I like to have titles before I begin (though these titles are free to change should they need to do so), I spent about an hour deciding on "All Tomorrow's Parties." I "typed" it at the "top" of the "page." Perfect! I thought. And then I thought, uhm, wait. I called myself several unpleasant names, cursed William Gibson, erased the title and replaced it with "Bradbury Weather," which was my second choice. I did about 700 words in about three hours, much of which needs reworking today, but at least it's a start. I was relieved. This will be a story set on Mars, a couple hundred years or more from now. I've always wanted to write a story set on Mars, and now I will.
My goal is to have the story completed by Dragon*Con.
Thanks to everyone who's already taken part in the HUGE eBay auction now in progress. And because I think there may have been some confusion, let me reiterate: only those people using the "Buy-It-Now" feature will get a free Nyarlathotep CD. And yes, the CDs will be signed by me. I also want to draw attention to the Dreaming mobile. I only have a very few of these and, to my knowledge, they'll never be available anywhere else. Most of them went out to comic shops for promotional displays and were discarded after a couple of months. Click here for a complete list of that which is being auctioned.
Er. Okay. Gotta go for now. The damn cat's trying to get my attention...
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Every now and then something comes along to remind me that anyone in the world might well be reading this journal, and that, perhaps, I should keep that in mind when opening my big yap about whatever I happen to be yapping about. Yesterday, for example. I received an e-mail from Ashley Cheng of Bethesda Softworks, one of the minds behind Morrowind. He was very pleasant, complimentary, didn't seem the least bit pissed about the snarky things I'd said about his game, and he has kindly sent me a copy of the "Game of the Year" edition of Morrowind. Upon reading his e-mail, I had four thoughts more or less simultaneously: 1) Cool! Now I can get Nar'eth off that frelling balcony in Vivec; 2) Crap! Now even more of my life will be devoured by this game; 3) Weird! Next I'll be getting e-mail from Roland Emmerich for slamming The Day After Tomorrow; and 4) Damn! This is one of the most embarrassing things to happen to me since I got the cat's head stuck in the garbage disposal. Honestly, it does freak me out how all points on the web are more or less equidistant, and there's absolutely no telling who's reading you. It makes my brain itch.
I am not even half awake.
Okay, because getting all this pink makeup off to reveal my true grey self isn't cheap, we're mounting a HUGE eBay sale, and because I'm sick near unto puking death of drawing little monster doodles, everyone who uses "buy it now" will get a FREE!!!! copy of the Nyarlathotep: The Crawling Chaos CD, Our Thoughts Make Spirals in Thier World. This album was composed by the band as a soundtrack to Threshold, and I contributed vocal samples (as well as liner notes). We'll be running this offer right up until Dragon*Con starts on Wednesday, September 2. How can you resist? What? You already have a copy of this brilliantly, beautifully creepy CD? What's the matter? Don't you have friends? Don't you believe in giving them cool things in hopes they'll exchange the favour? Don't be a fekik! Suuurrre, you do! There. Problem solved. Click here because, as Captain Kangaroo used to say, supplies are limited.
With the Fiddler's Green essay out of the way, it's time to start the new story for subpress and manage somehow to get my brain lodged firmly in the place where Daughter of Hounds waits to be written.
My helpless, compulsive gaming is going to be the frelling end of me, I dren you not. Last night, I was up until 3:30 playing the incredibly addictive Crimson Skies. I wanted to stop and go to bed, really I did. But then Betty went and got herself kidnapped by a bunch of fascist thungs in Chicago, and I accidentally blew up a police zep while trying to deliver bootleg whiskey for the gangsters who've promised to help me find her. The story swallows me whole. I'm weak as a kitten. Finally, I hauled my sorry ass off to bed, my hands still aching from the controller, too wired to sleep, and Spooky read me her special adults-only edition of Dr. Seuss' McElligot's Pool ("'Cause you never can tell, What goes on down below..."), which, combined with a Lisa Gerrard CD, brought me back to Earth.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Especially unwanted news pollution from yesterday (from an Associated Press article):
"Many of the world's largest industrialized nations will lose population between now and 2050 as low birth rates, struggling economies and curbs on immigration stifle growth, says the author of a world population report. The annual study by the private Population Reference Bureau found that, while the world's population will increase nearly 50 percent by mid-century, Japan will lose 20 percent of its population in the next 45 years, while Russia, Germany and Italy will also see declines. The United States is the biggest exception among developed countries, with its population forecast to rise by 43 percent from 293 million now to 420 million at mid-century. [all italics mine]"
I know that many humans believe themselves somehow set apart from the rest of the biosphere, inherently different from other animals. Humanity, they might insist, is set apart by virtue of its brain or its soul or whatever. And yet, when generally freed from the pressures of predation, starvation, disease, etc., humanity behaves with exactly as much forethought and self-control as populations of sea urchins, rabbits, and cane toads. It's difficult to even imagine a world crammed with more than 12 billion people, a world where there is room for very little else. I like to think that this isn't my problem (I'll most likely be dead by 2050, I'm not a breeder, and there's nothing much I can do to curb the human plague...I mean, population explosion). But it is. Over the coming decades, I'll have to watch this happening. I'll have to watch the consequences of it. I'll wager the K/T extinction event had nothing on what we'll see.
Few things wake me up on a Wednesday morning like a stiff dose of future history.
Anyway, yesterday I wrote the essay for the Fiddler's Green souvenir book, and it felt good to get something done. I also signed the contracts for Daughter of Hounds, and Spooky put them in the post to NYC. Now, I just have to write the frelling book. I got my schedule for Dragon*Con. I'm scheduled a little heavier than last year, but that's okay. I'll include it all in an entry when the con's a little closer. And, finally, I uploaded the new Nar'eth pinup to Nebari.net. I hope today will be half so productive. I'll settle for a third.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
So, it was my intention to come back from New England, write the FutureShocks story, start Daughter of Hounds, pause just long enough to write another science-fiction story for the Subterranean Press magazine, then get right back to DoH. If I'd actually done that, I'd be finishing up with the subpress story about now. Instead, I came home, wrote the FutureShocks story, proceeded to dither about it for weeks, then proceeded to dither about The Dry Salvages for a couple weeks more. Which brings us to now. DoH is not even begun, nor is the subpress story, and all the ideas for the novel that were so fresh in my head while we were away have begun to fade. I am, I would suppose, at least three weeks behind schedule.
And, yeah, there was that stuff I said about slowing down, and I am, really, but we'll come back to that in a future entry.
It's time to start writing again. No more excuses. No more procrastination. The Nine Deadly Sins are not my friends. I am a lazy slacker, and it's time to get off my ass and work. I have only three weeks left until Dragon*Con, and by then I need to have the story done for subpress and, hopefully, have made some small beginning with the novel.
Here's the thing with the novel. I can't quite seem to find my way in. This has never really happened before. I can't seem to find the start of things, those first couple thousand words that will become Chapter One or the prologue. I like to start with the prologue. I am a linear writer. I prefer it that way. I can't write bits and pieces and then fit them all together later on. Each sentence leads me to the next. When I've done each sentence properly, then I am allowed to move along to the next. The stories may not be linear, but the writing has to be. I can't do it any other way. When I was writing The Five of Cups in 1992, the beginning was very clear. It was Chapter One. I added the prologue sometime later. The same thing happened with Silk. With Threshold, Chapter One came to me clear as day (though Chance was originally male), and, once again, the prologue came along later on. Actually, a couple or three of them came along later on. Then with Low Red Moon and Murder of Angels, the prologues came to me first, right off. And yes, I like prologues. I have my reasons. There's no rule stating that novels must have prologues, but I have my reasons.
Daughter of Hounds is a tangle in my mind. A swarm of faces. A sea of events. A hurricane of names. And no prologue or Chapter One has yet to present itself. No logical starting place. I think this is, in part, because it wants to be a Large And Complex Novel. Regardless, I have to find that beginning in the next two or three weeks. I have to find that point on Campbell's diagram (wheel) illustrating the heroic adventure; I know it's on the diagram, because the diagram encompasses all stories, and it's never failed me yet.
I am liking Crimson Skies (XBox) very, very much. It's a beautiful game and more involving than I'd expected it to be. I can't resist a good alternate history, especially one with zepplins. Especially ones where you're a sky pirate looting zepplins. I do wish that you had the option of playing Betty instead of Nathan, because I prefer female protagonists in my games, but life goes on.
Last night, the Japanese men's gymnastics team amazed me. The Romanians were very good, and the Americans were better, but the Japanese were on beyond either very good or better. It was a well deserved gold. Oh, and did I mention what hotties those gardas are? If nothing else, the Chinese and Japanese gymnasts are damn fine libido candy. It was also good to see Ian Thorpe take gold in the 200-meter freestyle. Today, we get the Women's Team Final in gymnastics, so that should be cool.
Also, Setsuled has done a new (and very charming) Nar'eth pin-up for Nebari.net (influenced, me thinks, by Rasputina), which I'll try to get up this evening.
Okay. I have to go deal with the Daughter of Hounds contracts, which have been lying neglected on my printer stand for frelling days now. And I have to send a copy of The Dry Salvages ARC to my film agent in LA; I'm pretty sure it's the best movie I've ever written.
Monday, August 16, 2004
Addendum: An explanatory page for all those who have been baffled by my alternative profanity. Have fun.
Last night, Spooky and I drank a bottle of homemade absinthe which was a gift from a friend. And while it did nicely augment my first experience with Crimson Skies, it also left us both with very notable hangovers. I am now endeavoring to ignore said hangover and get on with today.
My thanks to wishlish for sending me Baker Street: Honour Among Punks and Baker Street: A Tragedy in Five Acts (by Guy Davis and Gary Reed, of course). It's helping me think of comics again, which will hopefully help me get this essay written for the Fiddler's Green souvenir book, if the Fiddler's Green people ever get around to telling me how long the essay should be. Anyway, thanks.
The last couple of nights I've watched a good deal of the Olympics, the one significant exception in my general disinterest in and hostility towards sporting events. With the Olympics, most of the time, I feel like I'm seeing a more honest expression of athleticism, in the events themselves, though, of course, I understand the Olympics are as rife with scandal, corruption, greed, and corporate sponsorship as all those Other Sports. Don't worry. I'm a cynic, too. But the Olympics stir some faint ember of idealism. Besides, I just enjoy watching a lot of the events, namely gymnastics, swimming, and diving. The nationalism annoys me, especially the way that American broadcasters have grown increasingly disinterested in non-American competitors, but I watch, anyway. Well, not the really odd stuff, like beach volleyball and water polo. Archery's cool though, and weightlifting.
There are days, like today, when I wish I lived in New York. Today, for instance, I'd blow off the writing, spend part of the day in Central Park and the other part at the Museum of Natural History, then have dinner at the Yaffa Cafe on St. Marks. But I don't live in New York. I live in Atlanta. So, I guess I'll try to write, instead.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Gods. Spooky has just left to return frelling Morrowind, the soul-sucking time vampire, to frelling Blockbuster. Of course, I told her to rent Knights of the Old Republic if it's in, so things may not improve. I left my Dunmer fighter (eigth level now) standing on a terrace in Vivec. I'll get back to her, when the "Game of the Year" edition of Morrowind gets cheap. Last night, I made myself stop playing at four. I think I gave this game about seventeen hours of my life last week. I've been trying to figure out why I find it so compelling, and I'm pretty sure it's all about the freedom of movement, the absence of a linear story, and the pretty enviroments. It sure isn't the animation, or script, or voice-acting. Anyway, last night's session was fairly uneventful. I was sent on a mission to off an orc somewhere in the volcanic wastes northeast of the Arvel Plantation. It went very, very badly. I retreated and nursed my wounds on the Dren Plantation (funny, if you're into Farscape), where I managed to steal two bottles of skooma. But it was a clumsy theft (I was still emotionally traumatized by the orcs, okay), I was spotted, and had to swim for it. I managed to reach the Foreign canton in Vivec, with the intention of joining up with to Morag Tong, having grown disenchanted with the Fighter's Guild. But I was selling some shit to a pawnbroker, and a @!#*@! guard pinched me and sent me off to prison in Ebonheart. I did my time like a good girl, then headed back to Vivec. I spent the rest of the evening seeking the Tong and never managed to find them. I left Nar'eth (this is one of my many multiverse Nar'eths, but you gotta admit, a lot of those Dunmer look awfully Nebari) standing on a balcony in Vivec, outside the Arena, gazing up at the stars as that sappy Howard-Shore wannabe music played. I'll get back to her later. For now, I'm glad to be rid of my crack habit...I mean, Morrowind.
Day before yesterday, Bill Schafer called to tell me that Murder of Angels got a good review from Locus (you have to wait forever for the magazine to show up on the stands here). That's three for three. Yesterday, Jennifer and I did the last bit of proofing on The Dry Salvages (all commas and hyphens). Now I need to e-mail it to Bill today. I really, really like this little book. It's something that I know I did right. Well, except for all those mistakes in the ARC. But, hey, that makes the ARCs more collectible, right?
Oh, I meant to mention Craig McCracken's Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Spooky and I watched the pilot on Friday night (perfect for Kid Night). It's some of the most delightful television I've seen in a long time. Tune in to the Cartoon Network next Friday night at 7 p.m. (EST) if you want to see what I mean.
Spooky spent much of yesterday obsessed with a huge adult female Golden Silk Spider (Nephila clavipes) hanging about outside our bedroom window. Here are a couple of pix she snapped of it:
Today, we were supposed to play D&D, but Jennifer bailed on us to drive to Birmingham for her mom's birthday. Some people need to get their priorities straight. So, I'll probably work on an essay I have to write for the Fiddler's Green souvenir book. The Sandman, The Dreaming and me. Something like that. Only, I'm still waiting for someone from the con to tell me how long it should be. Later today, we might see Titanic at the Fox (yeah, I know, but I'm a sucker for the SFX and costumes in Titanic and for the Fox Theatre). There's Nebari costume work that needs doing. And I'm about half asleep. So, we'll just have to see how and where this day will go.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
What do you get when you combine four Alien films, two Predator films, a Dark Horse comic, H. P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness," Cube, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Lance Henrikson? Wait. Let me rephrase the question. If Mighty Mouse and Superman had a fight, who would win?
Since we didn't go to Birmingham, Spooky and I went to a matinee of Alien Vs. Predator. Going in, my hopes were high, but my expectations were zero. (NOTE: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD) So I was pleasantly surprised when this film that probably never should have been made was actually a lot of fun. As Spooky said during the closing credits, "Big, dumb, and gorgeous." That sums it up nicely. Could it have been something more? Could it at least have been as good as the fourth Alien film? I don't know. Maybe. But the very concept always seemed a juvenile, fanboy gimmick to me, one below the standards of the Alien films (though we know this all began with that shot in Predator II when we see the "alien" skull trophy in the hunter's space ship). I figured it would stink and that, at best, it'd offer up some nice eye-candy. But Alien Vs. Predator is a little better than that. Not a lot. Just a little. Just enough better that I didn't feel cheated. In fact, I found the experience quite satisfactory.
Cons: Really, really dumb science. A human cast that is not only expendible, but annoying and superfluous. Terrible acting. A script that I could have written with my ass (for example, the plot turns on the line, uttered like a great revelation, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."). Thirty minutes of set-up that would have been better spent just getting to the point. Raoul Bova. An unwillingness on the part of the filmmakers to risk losing the summer blockbuster this won't be anyway and take the chances that would have made this a much better, less formulaic film. A final scene that should have been left on the cutting-room floor. The PG-13 rating. Bullet-time. And did I mention Raoul Bova?
Pros: Truthfully, Giger's aliens have never looked this good. The creature effects alone justify matinee price. The aliens have a grace and fluidity they entirely lacked in Alien, wanted to have in Aliens, and almost achieved in Alien 3 and Alien: Ressurection. Lots of fun nods to the earlier films. Some decent suspense. Agathe De La Boulaye ("Adele Rousseau"), who's the best and cutest thing in humans this film has going for it, so naturally she's the first (or maybe the second) to die. A few (too few) exciting scenes where the aliens and predators actually fight. A moderately awesome climax (though a much more awesome climax wouldn't have simply repeated Ripley blowing the queen out of one of the Sulaco's airlocks). Lance Henrikson. Great SFX and art direction.
So, yes, Big, dumb, and gorgeous. Which is more than I thought I'd get. Yes, it could have been a lot better, but that may not be the point here. The very premise of the film is a rather lame marketing gimmick. Whatever this film was to become, it had to fight that gimmick all the way. I'd have done something very different. I'd have kept the whole thing away from Earth and kept humans out of the picture entirely. How about this: The film is set many thousands of years before the first Alien film. A war has been raging between two intergalactic civilizations. For centuries, the two sides have been locked in stalemate. Then one side genetically engineers the ultimate bioweapon: the aliens. The other side, in a desperate bid to save itself as its empire falls before the quickly spreading bioweapon, hires an army of hunters (the predators), though the hunters are greatly feared and generally avoided at all costs. A terrible deal is struck. On the homeworld of the losing civilization, the predators battle and narrowly defeat the alien menace. Meanwhile, however, there's been an accident, and the aliens have turned on their creators. The film ends with an extraterrestrial starship (the one found by the crew of the Nostromo) being overrun by the aliens and crashing on LV4 26.
No one would make an sf film without humans, of course. My Hollywood agent has told me this repeatedly.
It is interesting that in Alien Vs. Predator some of the concepts intended for the original Alien are ressurected. In the first draft of O'Bannon's script for Alien, the eggs were to have been discovered inside an ancient pryramid-like structure on a desolate alien world, not on a derelict starship. Also, despite the films PG-13 rating, I think Alien Vs. Predator realized Giger's overtly sexual penis-within-a-vagina image of the facehuggers better than any of the Alien films have done.
I'm still not sure how I feel about seeing the beginnings of what would become The Company in Alien, et. al. If that was Charles Bishop Weyland (and obviously the inspiration for the Bishop android), then who was the man who comes for Ripley at the end of Alien 3? A droid? A clone of the original Charles Bishop Weyland? Personally, I prefer to keep this film apart from the continuity of the first four Alien films.
The film also sabotages its own tagline, as, clearly, it's better for humans if the predators win this match.
My frelling gods. Shut up, you damned geek. Go do something that needs doing.
Friday, August 13, 2004
Jim Shimkus has destroyed my life. You may not know who he is, but rest assured, he has, truly, destroyed my life. This whole frelling Morrowind thing is his fault. Peer pressure, man, I'm telling you. Last night, at one a.m. I started playing that stupid game and at 5:20 frelling a.m. in the morning I realize that I've been playing for more than four hours. Spooky had long since fallen asleep on the sofa. I just barely managed to get into bed and asleep before the sun came up. Stupid game. I hate you. And it's all Jim Shimkus' fault. If you see him, kick him in the mivonks for me.
It's not that my opinion of Morrowind has changed. The animation and character design are ass. I stand by that original impression. But...it....has...sucked...me...in. It's...addictive. No, I mean seriously addictive. Like Skittles or Krispy Kreme doughnuts addictive. I mean, how can I stop playing now? I'm seventh level! I'm moving up in the world! There is so much of my life I can give to Morrowind, so much time I can waste scampering about CGI wastelands, hacking and slashing everything that moves. *sigh*
I was sent by the Fighter's Guild to collect 200 septims from a hooker (well, a madam) who wouldn't pay her debt. And she wouldn't pay me. And she wouldn't pay me. So I finally just killed the bitch and took the money. I mean, how cool is that. Then I got orders to collect a bounty on an orc. He wouldn't cooperate, either. Dead orc. I still get my money. Sweet. Then the Guild sends me off to Vivec to do work there, which involves yet another orc, this time one with a ring he ought not have. He won't cough it up. I provoke him into starting a fight with me. I kill him and take the frelling ring (this is when I realized it was 5:20 a.m.).
Jim Shimkus, you are an evil dude.
I'm not on my way to Birmingham, because I decided that Nar'eth needs a new wig, so we rescheduled the appointment for cutting and styling to September 1st (cutting things close, as usual). Now, I have to go to Atlanta Costume and order a new wig. Perfectionism, I tell you. It's a pain in the rump.
Work? What's that? Writing? What?
Oh, yeah. Writing. Well, I'm essentially done with The Dry Salvages, but you already knew that. I have an sf story to write for Bill Schafer (possibly a new take on James Blish's "Surface Tension"), and I must, must, must frelling get started on Daughter of Hounds. We also need to set up some local signings for Murder of Angels. I don't usually do local signings, but I think I'm going to do two or three for this book.
See? Writing stuff.
Sissy called yesterday afternoon from Tampa to assure us that he and Kat were safe and sound. But I've been watching the progress of Charley, and I'm worried about them and Jean-Paul. We'll try to reach them again this afternoon.
Spooky's busy hammering gromets somewhere in the apartment, working on these little leather gauntlet-like thingys for her costume. I should finish this up and get busy my own self. Oh, we're about to do a BIG ASS eBay sale. But more on that tomorrow.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Addendum: I forgot to even mention the rain last night. It seems as though it never rains all night anymore. I love nights when it rains all night, gently. It helps me sleep. And last night it must have rained from about two, when we went to bed, just about to dawn. I woke (from a big-budget nightmare involving a haunted house and demonic cats) at about 5:30, and the power was off. I'm not sure when it came on again.
Anyway, I'd meant to mention that this morning and then forgot.
Question: Why would anyone take a writing course from someone who is not, him- or herself, a very successful author?
So, by now you've probably heard that the California Supreme Court has declared the 4,000+ same-sex marriages from this spring legally null and void. I think we all knew this would happen. What's important is what happens next. And I have no idea what that will be. But if we can't get the Republicans out of the White House, it might be frelling concentration camps. Or at least state-sponsored mass sedation of those judged mentally ill. Here's my bit of "news pollution" for the day (the stuff about the California Supreme Court was on purpose): LIFE WITH BIG BROTHER: Bush to screen population for mental illness. I'm hoping this is a case of those curs'd liberal pinko commie fag journalists distorting the truth. Maybe Bush's New Freedom Initiative doesn't really call for psychological testing of all Americans (I admit I only scanned the lengthy progress report, and I couldn't find that part). I mean, this sounds wacko even for Bush. Doesn't it? Please?
Never talk about politics in the blog, Caitlín. Never, never. You know better.
I've reached the point with The Dry Salvages where I'm no longer fixing things, I'm merely changing them. That's not revision, that's just frelling about with words. I have lost perspective. It's time to let it go, whether I feel that it's ready or not. The last couple of days, I added maybe three hundred words of text. I have a handful of commas and hyphens I want Jenny to look at this evening, and then it goes back to subpress.
Tomorrow, Spooky and I drive to Birmingham, where a friend will be working on our Nebari wigs. We'll spend the night with my mother and head back Saturday afternoon.
I've been thinking in only four dimensions again.
And yesterday that was about the best this sad lump of grey matter in my skull could manage, and it was barely managing that. Puzzling out all the itsy bitsy errors peppering the text of The Dry Salvages because there were initially two mistakes regarding time dilation and intersteller travel that frelled lots of stuff up. Spooky kept me from drifting away and drowning in a puddle of my own stupidity. And now the ms. is 97% corrected. Today, all I have left to do is add a few snippets of text here and there. What began as innocent copyediting (there's an oxymoron) ballooned into a rewrite, and I've apologized to Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press for this. It means that the ms. will have to be laid out a second time. But I am determined to get this right. It's not obsessive perfectionism. It's just me trying to do something better than a half-assed job. Mucho thanks to the amazing Larne "Llar'en" Pekowsky for holding my hand and guiding me through all the Big, Scary Numbers.
Which is all to say that I finally got my eema out of "park" yesterday and worked. If it didn't exactly feel good, at least it felt better than the alternative.
At this point, I believe I am at least three weeks behind.
Was there anything more to yesterday? Not much. We were still working on The Dry Salvages at six p.m. I forgot to work out (though I have managed to lose five pounds since returning from Rhode Island in July, which is a good thing). Spooky talked with Andre at AFX Studios, who plays a big part in making Nar'eth real, and we scheduled my make-up session for 10 a.m. on Sunday, September 5th. It usually takes about four hours, start to finish. And that was all of yesterday that bears (or lions, or tigers) repeating.
I'm thinking my hair may soon be black again. This blonde thing is nice, but it's a hell of a lot of trouble.
For some time now, I've been meaning to write a meme. I've never written a meme before. At least, not to my knowledge. So here goes...
1. My favorite film in the Alien series is:
CRK: Alien (1979)
2. My favorite Cure album is:
3. My favorite David Bowie album is:
4. My favorite film in the Matrix series is:
CRK: The Matrix
5. My favorite film in the Star Wars series is:
CRK: The Empire Strikes Back
6. Complete this sentence: "Tofu is [ ]."
7. My favorite Ridley Scott film is:
CRK: Blade Runner
8. My favorite John Carpenter film is:
CRK: The Thing
9. I first had sex at age:
10. My favorite season is [winter, spring, summer, or fall]:
11. The Fifth Element and Dark City were two of the most brilliant sf films of the '90s (agree or disagree):
12: Farscape or Stargate: SG-1 (you have to choose one or the other):
CRK: Farscape (duh)
13: I first had sex with another person at age:
14: My favorite Kate Bush album is:
CRK: The Hounds of Love
15: My favorite H. P. Lovecraft story/novella is:
CRK: "The Colour Out of Space"
Your participation is critical. From these fifteen simple questions, carefully chosen through a tedious process of elimination over the last ten minutes, anyone can compute his or her or its ultimate worth to the multiverse.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
There are idiotic days. It seems, increasingly, there are idiotic days. Days that squat in a corner and drool and gibber and shit themselves. Yesterday was that sort of a day. And because it was that sort of a day, I've still not finished with The Dry Salvages. Or answered several important e-mails. Or signed the Daughter of Hounds contracts. And so on, and so forth.
Those of us damned to make our living by the word (and, inevitably, die by the word), need our own Church, our own Father Confessors, our own rituals and Stations of the Cross. Because sometimes we are lost beyond all comprehension, and there is no godlight or demon or Virgil to guide us home again. Only the material waste of our immaterial imaginations. We need a Church.
The sign, I see it/Tell me, am I true?/All I need from you is/All I see
Our agents would get a cut, of course, a fair percentage on every sin.
Jesus, I'm so fucking full of shit.
Yes, well. That seems to be the point. I sincerely hope you don't think they give you that money for your good looks and winning personlity.
I am at rest and cannot seem to do more than remain at rest. Just a little thrust would be sufficient to carry me clear of my own gravity. But I can't seem to find the spark.
It was a blessedly rainy day here yesterday. I haven't noticed the weather today.
I'm unsure whether or not it has noticed me.
Spooky and I have been talking about the photo shoot we're going to do to get the author's photo for To Charles Fort, With Love. It's going to be cool. I'll talk about it more later on. I don't know why more authors don't have more fun with author's photos. They ought to.
I've got to stop spending so much time with the television. It sucks me in and tells me it's okay to lie on the floor for hours at a time staring at its screen. Last night, for instance, there was a really good special on the Science Channel about the Cassini probe and then another on M theory. The first almost made me cry, and the second just left me keenly aware that I'll never be half as intelligent as I want to be. And if I'd stopped there, it wouldn't have been so bad. But then I played three hours of Morrowind (only seven to go!). It went like this: I ascend to third-level fighter. I finally find Caius Cosades and give him the damned package I've been carrying since Seyda Neen. So, at least I have a place to sleep in Balmora. I've been sleeping in alleys and in the woods. I go back to the Fighter's Guild on the west side of town and accept orders to clear rats out of Drarayne Thelas' house (and realize that sexual fantasies involving these waxworks is all that's keeping me playing). I am a truly incompetent exterminator, and the bitch pisses me off so much I steal a pillow. New orders: stop poachers at the Shulk egg mine. I do it. New orders: fullfil a contract with the Caldera Ebony Mining Company to kill four Telvanni agents responsible for trouble at the Caldera Mine. Yippee. I get lost, end up in the Morrowind equivalent of southern Mississippi. I finally find Caldera, but break my long sword fighting a nix hound. Fine. I find a smith, but I don't have enough gold. I find a pawnbroker and sell him most of the crap I've been carrying around. But then I accidentally draw a dagger on him. A guard grabs me and hauls me off to some prison north of Caldera. I serve out my sentence, then head back to Caldera and find the mines. And decide I'm too tired to play anymore. So, I watch most of Night and the City (the original, not the remake) on FMC instead of going to bed.
Stop watching the goddamned television.
At least I mute the commercials.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Yesterday was filled with distractions, and I kept saying, "Okay, well, I'll do this one last thing, and then I'll go finish up with The Dry Salvages." But, by about 4:30 p.m., the obvious futility of my situation had become...well, obvious. So, the revisions were put off again, until, I hope, today. And most of the dren from yesterday isn't even notable, though I will mention that the contracts for Daughter of Hounds arrived.
I think this is going to be a short post. I just don't seem to have it in me this morning.
I have been suffering from a most profound and disconcerting intertia.
Last night, Spooky and I watched two eps from Season Four of Farscape, "Kansas" and "Terra Firma." It was cool seeing them back to back that way, and I think these aliens-on-Earth episodes are two of the series' best. Anyway, on disc two of Volume 4.3, under the extras, you can see the original make-up tests for Virginia Hey (as a very different looking Zhaan), Anthony Simcoe, and Gigi Edgley. We see a somewhat different direction that Chiana might have taken. Here's a still from the test (I found it online):
It would have been interesting if they'd gone with this concept. Certainly, Chi would have been a bit less cute and a lot more intimidating. And I'd have had to have dental prosthetics made.
Afterwards, Spooky fell asleep, and I puttered about Morrowind for a time (about two hours, I think). I mostly just ran around in the wilderness, killing giant rats and nix hounds. I eventually wound up paying some fekkik to let me ride his silt strider to Balmora, where I joined the Fighters Guild. Now they want me to clean a bunch of rats out of a cave. How much longer do I have to play before I've justified the $6.73 rental fee? Another ten hours, I figure. Yesterday, in a comment to the entry before last, Setsuled wrote, in what I think is a spot-on criticism of the game:
I've been thinking about this and I realised that, even though I've been playing Morrowind for years shall likely continue to, I kind of hate it. It's the only game I've played that truly creates a world, but sometimes I'll be running around in a city or something, and an eerie feeling of being utterly alone comes over me. And I feel curiously mad at Bethesda for stranding me on this world of dead things.
I have to brush my not-pointy teeth now.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Addendum: Fay Wray's dead. I just picked it up via "news pollution." I hate to admit that I thought she must have died years ago. I've been obsessed with King Kong since I was about five years old, and am also very fond of The Four Feathers.
She was ninety six, was Fay Wray. I can't even imagine living that long, having had a whole career back in that other black-and-white world and then living on through all the changes she witnessed. Of course, I've said the same thing of my grandmother (who is merely ninety).
Anyway, there you go. King Kong is one of the films that I often sleep to, and I think it's one of cinema's best bits of weird fiction. So, for all those times I've dozed off to Ann Darrow's screams as she was carried aloft through the squirming, primordial jungles of Skull Island, I just felt I should note her passing (even if I'd ignorantly thought she'd passed already).
I honestly didn't mean to ruffle feathers yesterday when I expressed my disappointment with Morrowind, but I apparently have, and I should clarify a couple of points (and if this nerdy stuff bores you, skip ahead to the other nerdy stuff). I did spent about three more hours yesterday evening with the game and would now describe it as dull and frustrating, yet inexplicably compelling. Anyway, to clarify and retort. I wrote:
...the characters [in Morrowind] themselves are stiff beyond belief. The first time I pressed "jump," I actually laughed out loud. As Spooky remarked, it's like moving paper dolls about through very pretty places. I fear I have become entirely too accustomed to playing characters with fluid, lifelike movement to find these jerky people fun to play with. How do I adapt to the uninteresting, uninvolving waxworks of Morrowind when I've played Tenchu 3: Wrath of Heaven and Beyond Good and Evil?
Now, what I was saying here was not that I was having trouble because my level-one character can't do very much (jump very high, can be killed by almost anyone and anything, and so forth). That's not the problem. I play D&D, and I expected that. What I was saying was that the character design and animation is very primitive ("stiff"). I've been playing PS2 and XBox games with much more advanced animation, and it's spoiled me, I suppose. Yesterday, I counted, and my Morrowind character has only nine points of articulation. That's pretty old school.
There are things that I like. For example, I like the way the game deals with the passage of time and the weather. I love the enviroments, for the most part. Creature design is fairly nice. I like how I can run off into the wilderness and find the hull of an old ship washed up on the shore and use it as a base camp while I spend several days just exploring the countryside. I like the concept of the game. I think I just need to wait until (or if) its animation catches up with more advanced games, until its lost that paper-doll feel Spooky spoke of, before it's a game that I can enjoy. And if you're into Morrowind and have no idea what I'm talking about, I would suggest that perhaps you step away from Morrowind for a bit and look at the animation in, say, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time or Primal. I think you'll see what I mean. I can even understand how the flexibility and intricacy of Morrowind would be so seductive to some that they might look the other way when it comes to the crappy animation. But I'm not one of those people. I need more than nine points of articulation, please.
We got news yesterday afternoon that Spooky's father, who is currently doing fieldwork in Vietnam, came down with appendicitis in Nah Trang and had to have emergency surgery. So, things have been a little tense hereabouts. But he seems to be doing just fine (Spooky's on the phone with her mom in Rhode Island right now). You can read more about this in Spooky's journal.
This morning I had a phone meeting with an editor at Marvel. I have another in a couple of weeks. If it leads to anything, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, yesterday we did manage to finish the read-through on The Dry Salvages, three more hours spent reading the novella, and today I shall do a number of revisions based on this read-through. Mostly this is continuity and correcting a few dumb scientific errors and miscalculations. But I have to finish today, because I've spent far too much time polishing this story and absolutely have to get on to other things. On and off, I've been working on The Dry Salvages since the end of last year, and it's time for it to move along. But I will say, I love this story, and I hope it finds many receptive readers.
Jennifer, who handles all the account information and business relating to my website (I mean my homepage, Pain and Wonder, though she takes care of Nebari.net, as well), was looking into the fact that our bandwidth requirements have gone up quite a bit recently, and she pointed out that I have access to a lot more data regarding who views the site and how often they do so than I thought I did. The journal is responsible for more than 60% of my traffic, which isn't surprising. But I was surprised to learn that I'm getting about five times the traffic I thought I was getting. Damn, there are a lot of you. Which is cool. I very much appreciate your attention. Now, if we could only manage to translate all those Blogger and LJ readers into actual book readers (hint, hint), I'd have a happy editor at Penguin. More importantly, I'd have a happy me. Seriously, I spend a lot of time on this journal, time that would otherwise be spent writing fiction or otherwise working. This blog is here to give you a little insight into the process of writing and publishing and to promote my work. All I ask in return is that you complete the circuit by buying and reading what I write. In the past, when I've expressed annoyance at all the people who read the journal and then write to tell me they love it but don't read my novels (and I've received many e-mails like that, kiddos), there's been a lot of whining and "yeah, but I..." and harrumphing that I would even have the nerve to be annoyed. Don't complain or make excuses. Don't preach to me about information wanting to be free. Just buy my books. Please. And I will continue, fearlessly, to blog about writing them.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
So, for a couple of years now, I've been wanting to try Morrowind. I've heard nothing but praise, from friends and from reviews. Last night, I finally rented the game from Blockbuster, and I have to admit I was entirely underwhelmed. On the one hand, the enviroments are gorgeous, and the freedom of movement is nice, but the characters themselves are stiff beyond belief. The first time I pressed "jump," I actually laughed out loud. As Spooky remarked, it's like moving paper dolls about through very pretty places. I fear I have become entirely too accustomed to playing characters with fluid, lifelike movement to find these jerky people fun to play with. How do I adapt to the uninteresting, uninvolving waxworks of Morrowind when I've played Tenchu 3: Wrath of Heaven and Beyond Good and Evil? Also, it would be nice if the game wasn't so bound to a D&D template. I love dark elves more than most people, but a little more originality in devising races and clases and such would have been nice. I love the idea of this game, and I'll certainly give it more of a chance, if only because I have to get my $6.73 worth from it. But these are my initial impressions, and, initially, I'm glad I rented before I bought.
Things happened, and no work was done of The Dry Salvages yesterday, or on anything else, for that matter. Hopefully, we'll finish the read-through today.
I did find a new and positive, though very brief, review of Murder of Angels, written by Don D'Ammassa, in the August 2004 Chronicle, :
Caitlín Kiernan's latest is a markedly strange novel. Two women were seriously affected by a strange experience in a deserted house, leaving one dependent upon drugs and driven to extremes to avoid facing her past, the other battling to retain her sanity despite the ministrations of various psychologists. Inevitably they are unable to escape the after effects forever, which involve communication with the dead, a strange alternate reality with some analogies to our world, and a mystical threat that could effect more than just the two of them. As usual, Kiernan's intricate prose and vividly described insights into human psychology are the centerpiece in this, her most effective novel to date.
I actually bought the magazine, though, as I've said, I've tried to stop doing that. There's also an announcement of Daughter of Hounds of page 19, which is a little unnerving, as I've not even begun the book yet.
Saturday, August 07, 2004
We made it halfway through The Dry Salvages yesterday, me reading it aloud from a copy of the ARC and Kathryn following along in another. How many times do you have to read a ms. before all the frelling typos and grammatical errors are found? There are literally hundreds of errors in the text of the ARC, mostly missing commas. And yes, this is the "uncorrected proof," but it's also what the reviewers read, and it annoys me that it isn't cleaner. Anyway, this latest round of picking over the story isn't even about this sort of correction (though we're still finding these sorts of mistakes). It's about continuity and trying to get all the science right. The extremely non-linear narrative and the narrator's unreliability is only making it more difficult. Hopefully, we can get through the last 60 pp. or so this afternoon.
I feel sick. Not sick as in I think I may be coming down with something. Sick somewhere deep inside that I can't reach. The dreams are bad again. Last night was the first halfway decent sleep I got in at least a week, and even it was filled with the dreams.
Vicky Gashe wrote to ask:
[in The Dry Salvages] The two droids that Audrey mentions - Othniel and Edward Drinker - are named after dinosaur hunters. I know of Edward Drinker Cope, and I recall him having a rival called Charles Marsh (or at least I think so). To whom does Othniel refer?
Easy peasy. Othniel was Marsh's first name.
Kenny Soward writes:
I have a technical question regarding the telling of backstory, specifically tense. For instance, I’m narrating a scene (using third person past tense) and there are snippets this individual recalls from say a week ago. I’ve noticed that different writers tend to take a different approach to this.
1) They bombard the paragraph with “had gone” “had removed” etc., so that you absolutely know this is a memory or past event you are describing.
2) Some writers simply do a section break in the chapter and remain in the third person past tense. I’ve seen you do this before.
3) Many writers will start their recollection with “had gone” “had removed” for perhaps the first sentence to let you know this is a memory, but then quickly revert to third person past tense.
4) Strangely enough, I’ve seen writers not change tenses at all, leaving it up to you to realize what it is.
This is one of the reasons I almost always write in present tense. If nothing else, it usually completely eliminates the need for the use of the ever-clunky past-perfect tense and the constant, annoying, and unsightly repetition of "had" ("had had" is one of the grand sins of prose). The present of the story is told in present tense — "Eponine opens the door and looks into the darkness." Any recollections, including backstory "flashbacks" can now employ the familiar and non-clunky past tense. "Eponine opens the door and looks into the darkness. Once, she was afraid of the night, and would never have faced it alone." But, if you simply must use past tense as your foundational tense (the effective "present" of your narrative, even if the events are long past), be consistent. The "trick" of reverting to past tense after a few establishing "hads" have been tossed about is lazy and is to be avoided (as are all lazy short cuts in writing). This is my advice.
Kid Night last night was marred by the absolute worst movie we have ever, ever, ever rented, a little speck of dren called The Fanglys. Boasting all the skill and production values of public access television, it's an inexplicable sort of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre wannabe. We've never come so close to just skipping to the second DVD of the night. It wasn't scary. It wasn't funny. it wasn't so bad it was good. It was just boring. I think that it'll spend a few seconds in the microwave before we return it. Anyway, fortunately, we followed The Fanglys with Robert Parigi's ambitious and moderately effective Love Object. It wasn't nearly as good as it wanted to be, and the ending just sort of collapsed in upon itself instead of expressing the irony it aimed for, but at least it tried, and was shot on actual film, with actors, and a script.
It's the frelling weekend, kiddos. Haven't you got something better to do than read my blog?
Friday, August 06, 2004
There was considerably more thwarting yesterday than the day before. It started when I went to print an e-mail and discovered the printer was out of ink, necessitating an hour-long expedition to the Staples on Ponce, out through the sun and pollution, which left me distracted and annoyed. I don't know if I even want to get into the details. Suffice to say there are errors in The Dry Salvages that no one caught before yesterday (or if they did, they kindly did not tell me about them), but which are Very Big Errors. I have been taught that I cannot write hard sf the same way that I write dark fantasy without making a mess that has to be fixed later on. I need to work certain things out ahead of time, instead of just making it all up as I go along. Yesterday, I found myself wishing that sf had the sort of peer-review process that scientific papers go through prior to publication. For example, before my mosasaur biostratigraphy paper was published, it was reviewed by two editors at the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and three experts on fossil lizards. Of course, there were still a couple of mistakes in the printed text, but they were tiny mistakes, inconsequential mistakes.
The plan for today is to read through the entire text of The Dry Salvages again (I've lost count), fixing the VBEs as we go. That should require about three hours, the reading, and then it probably needs another hour or so of work afterwards.
And just in case anyone out there who is foolish enough to want to be a writer (ha, ha, ha) is reading this, be it known that I don't get paid for this sort of thing. Every day I devote to purging my own dumb mistakes from this story is money lost. It's not a very artistic outlook, but it's the sort of outlook that one must have if one is to try to be a writer who can pay her bills with the money she makes writing.
Am I slowing down yet? I don't think so. Wasn't I supposed to? Didn't I make some huge resolution to take it easy for a bit? Shut up and makes words, lady.
But, as long as I'm talking about The Dry Salvages, this from Christopher Lee Simmons (aka Sissy), regarding my (rare) use of first-person narrative, which I found especially astute:
Dr. Audrey Cather, the narrator, owns up to her faults. She understands the inevitable editing of memory, the failures and shattered bits of broken imagery that we continually reinterpret and call fact. We don’t remember exactly what was said, or every small detail of a room, so when we tell a story, we necessarily make these things up.
Most narrators gloss over these things. Most writers gloss over these things. Dr. Cather brings it to our attention and in so doing, creates another layer of suspense and wonder in the story.
The flaws of first person are something Cait is entirely too aware of, so I think she went into this specifically looking to, if not fix, then at least patch up the holes caused by the viewpoint. The innate unreliability of the narrator is played on, rather than ignored, and the story is better for it.
Thank you, Sissy. Frankly, I can imagine no other way of writing first person. I've done three f-p narratives in the past year or so ("Riding the White Bull," "Houses Under the Sea," and The Dry Salvages) and in each case the fact of the narrators unreliability, as well as the reason for his or her writing, is kept at the forefront of the text. It is my opinion that to do otherwise would create a story that, though purporting to be recollection, ignores the most fundamental aspects of memory. Try to imagine the last (most recent) thing that happened to you that was significant enough you'd actually sit down and write an account of it. Now, try to remember it in a linear fashion, just the rough framework setting out the step-by-step series of events. Now try to fill in the gaps with what was said, with who did this then, with what you were thinking at any given moment. You can't. Not really. This is not the way the human mind works. It's the way we like to pretend the human mind works, and I follow the Modernists in my belief that literature should reflect something closer to the actual way that people think. A f-p narrative, more than a third, is an artefect and as such it needs to be presented in the context of the narrator's intent and weaknesses. And do not mistake the Author for the narrator. If you are to suspend disbelief, you must see Dr. Audrey Cather as the narrator of The Dry Salvages. I am, at best, reduced to a sort of meta-narrator. You are hearing her voice, not mine. It's almost the same as acting.
For me, all this stuff means that an author either a) avoids first-person narrative or b) justifies its use. If b), then the author should also acknowledge the extreme difficulty we have accurately recalling events from our past as detailed, linear narratives.
Why am I going on about this? I felt like it, that's all.
Yesterday, after the long hours of thwarting, which seemed to pass me by in the blink of an eye, Spooky and I went to Fellini's for dinner, then came home and watched "A Clockwork Nebari" (costume research). Then I played Kya: Dark Legacy. I'm so near the end of this game I can taste it (it tastes like kiwi fruit).
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Spooky and I have decided that we are in dire need of a "snuggle day." A day when we are expected to do nothing more than snuggle, bake cookies, read children's stories aloud, get stoned, and so forth. These little fantasies get us from one day to the next.
Yesterday was a monument to frustration. The word that springs to mind is "thwart." Yesterday, I was thwarted, and I was thwarted at every turn. I started out trying to add a bit to The Dry Salvages, regarding the Montelius' use of a constrained black hole to generate artifecal (you know, that's such a funny typo, it stays) gravity, so I was up to my nipples in all this dren about black holes and warped spacetime and gravimetric fields, when Jennifer called from work. She was on her lunch break and proofreading The Dry Salvages, and on page 100 of the ARC she caught a glaring frell-up: "'When you came home, it had been more than thirty years since you left, ' she said, 'and yet you'd aged less than twelve months.'" No, not months. Years. And twelve wasn't right, either, and so Spooky and I started checking dates and ages and things pertaining to relativity. Within half an hour, I was entirely confused and feared the story had even greater errors. So I wrote to Brokensymmetry (known to we Nebari as Llar'en, and to mere hoomans as Larne Pekowsky, brilliant, aspiring physicist), because he was of enormous assistance when I was writing the story, and asked him to check all of the numbers for me again. Which he did, and today I can set everything straight. It wasn't off so much as I feared, which made me feel a little less like a dumbass.
The thing is, it is rocket science.
So, today I need to deal with the minor time discrepencies, and get back to the matter of gravity (which was inspired by comments from Derek cf. Pegritz, caretaker to H. P. Lovecraft's brain, and one of the minds behind Nyarlathotep: The Crawling Chaos. And there's a matter of evolving linguistics, and then this book should be ready to go to press. Thanks to everyone who received an ARC and has offered thoughts and criticism. It was an interesting and, I think, successful experiment that will likely be repeated in the future. Now, I just hope the sf critics don't tear the story to shreds.
I think that Ramsey Campbell will be doing an afterword for To Charles Fort, With Love, which is just extremely cool.
Also, I got word yesterday that the contracts for Daughter of Hounds are on their way to me from NYC. Which is another reminder that I have to get serious about the next novel.
Oh, and I sent in my ballot for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology officers election, and renewed my subscription to Wired, and made cornbread, but no one cares about that stuff.
Spooky and I were up until almost three thirty with Kya: Dark Legacy. I am absolutely overwhelmed at the moment by the games that are now out that I want to play and the games that will soon be out that I want to play. We caught X-Play night before last, for the first time in weeks, and it was an all trailer episode. There was some amazing stuff, such as Conker: Live and Reloaded, and some absolute ass, such as the laughable Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines. Yeah, okay, so it uses the Half-Life 2 engine; it still looks like total dren. And I have yet to finish Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I need more me's!
I'm loving the sound from the new headphones, but I discovered yesterday that they don't play well with my stupid glasses. So I'm currently writing without my glasses. Which isn't nearly as fun as working without a net.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
A few days ago, it occurred to me that I spend a truly obscene amount of time on this blog. An average of two hours a day, and sometimes it goes to three. Because I can't just write an entry, I have to write an entry. I have to try to make it sound good, and get all the typos and grammatical errors out, and so forth. I have to try to find something to say and a way to say it well. Sometimes, I wish I could be like I was at fourteen or twenty one or even twenty five. Back then, I was inexplicably good at doing a half-assed job of things. Now, I'm a frelling micro-managing perfectionist.
Yesterday, there were e-mails and such that had to be taken care of, small things. Or, rather, big things that seem small in and of themselves, but if not properly handled can gum up the works good and proper. Sort of like an Escherichia coli bacterium or an ounce of plutonium. There are lots more of those things today. But I'm getting ahead of myself. If I start talking about today today, what will I talk about tomorrow?
After all the little stuff that wasn't little, Spooky and I struck out in the heat and light for CompUSA, inconveniently located all the way the frell over in frelling nasty-ass Buckhead, because I had to have a new pair of headphones. For the last six months or so, I've needed a new pair of headphones. But a) I procrastinate and b) I was sort of attached to the old ones, since I'd been using them since about 1997 or so. It was hot. We saw a couple of those big digital time/temperature signs that claimed it was 98-degrees F. I think they were low-balling. The concrete was starting to melt. What is the melting point of concrete? By the time we got back over to Ponce (which is, mostly, also nasty-ass; at least you have more trouble finding the hookers and crackwhores and winos in Buckhead) and stopped at Whole Foods (for salsa) I think I was a little delirious. I wanted to crawl in the big cooler full of oragnic tater tots and whole-wheat pizza crusts and wait for sunset.
But I did find a good, decently priced pair of Sony headphones, a pair that came with a free pair of ear buds, so I suppose it was worth risking my health and sanity to brave the sun and traffic and people.
After sunset, Spooky and I went out again, for a DVD (Spooky will tell you about the spider on the car). She found something called Half-Caste, a Blair Witch wannabe about undead wereleopards in South Africa. I wanted to see the uncut version of Supernova, as the theatrical release is on my "worst films ever" list, and I'm curious to see if the added footage at least renders the film coherent. Anyway, we went with Half-Caste, mostly because the picture on the box was kind of sexy (well, if you're me and Spooky, it was kind of sexy). The movie was awful, as we'd both expected, but not as awful as we'd expected. I suspect if the filmmakers had been in possession of just a few hundred thousand more dollars, it could have been much better. Some of the scenes were actually quite effectitively spooky, and the half caste creature effects, wisely kept to a minimum (we see the creature a good bit, but usually when it's moving quickly or in the distance or poorly lit) were moderately impressive. I was especially taken with the actor's ability to run on all fours. It was delightfully wrong.
Okay. Now, I have to brush my teeth, work out, and then the work must be done.
And a sincere thank you to Michael Scott. He knows why.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
So, anyway. Yesterday. I didn't get any actual writing done, but I did spend three hours compiling and formatting the first electronic draft of To Charles Fort, With Love. I'm very pleased that we're finally moving ahead with this book. These are short stories I published between 2000 and 2004. I've e-mailed the ms. to Bill Schafer at subpress and to Rick Kirk, who will being doing the art. If you've never seen Rick's work, you should do so now. He's amazing and deserving of far wider recognition. Bill is tentatively scheduling this book for Summer 2005.
Also, my contributor copies of Candlewick Press' Gothic!: Ten Original Dark Tales (edited by Deborah Noyes) arrived via UPS. It contains my story, "The Dead and the Moonstruck," which concerns Starling Jane (from Low Red Moon) as a young girl, and also includes all-new stories by Joan Aiken, Neil Gaiman, Gregory Maguire, and many others. I was especially proud to be a part of this project and am very pleased with how it's turned out.
Late yesterday, I received an e-mail from the very awesome Lousia John-Krol, who'd noticed that I'd mentioned her music somewhere in the blog. Actually, I wrote portions of Murder of Angels to her album Alexandria, especially "Contradiction is the Dragon." So, it was quite cool to hear from her, all the way down there in Austraila. Turns out she's a Farscape fan, too! I haven't yet had a chance to write her back.
And Spooky's Nebari boots arrived, but someone at the warehouse screwed up, and they were at least two sizes too small. So, they're being exchanged. But they do look fine.
And that's the best of it, of yesterday. I made a huge bowl of guacamole and a pot of chili (which we're still eating on). I played Kya: Dark Legacy. I talked with a small wolf spider making its way along the bathroom floor (we have quite a crop of wolf spiders this summer).
I'll get to yesterday later on, in this entry or in one later today or tomorrow.
If you've been reading this journal for a while, then you know how I feel about segregating my personal life from my public life. They are two things, distinct, only occasionally intersecting. As such, I do not generally discuss my private life here. But I'm about to make an exception, a big exception. I only hope I can do it in such a way that I won't regret the decision.
Today is the ninth anniversary of the suicide of Elizabeth Tillman Aldridge, a girl with whom I was deeply in love. But it was a bad time for both of us, a bad time in a bad place, and she away went to one city, and I away went to another. Afterwards, we hardly spoke. The last time was in late July of 1995, a couple of weeks before her death. It was very brief and very uncomfortable, our last conversation. That summer, my writing was just beginning to sell, and I was spending a lot of time in New Orleans at Poppy's house. I was about to write "Giants in the Earth" and was reading Michael Moorcock's The Dancers at the End of Time series. Poppy and I had been asked to pitch an X-Files novel, and we were working on the proposal. I was very preoccupied. So, I was there, in New Orleans, on this day, August 3rd, 1995, nine years ago, when Elizabeth finally gave up. We had demons and ghosts, both of us, more than anyone's fair share, and I'd always assumed mine were the more virulent. But on the morning of this day, which was a Thursday that year, she checked into a motel in Huntsville, Alabama, swallowed a month or so's worth of pills and slit her wrists. She died a few hours later in a local hospital. That's only a small part of what I know happened (which is, surely, only a small part of what happened).
A few weeks before, she'd graduated from college, with her undergraduate degree in Sociology. She was twenty four. I'm tempted to mention other things about her, such as her fondness for T. H. White and the Sundays, but maybe that sort of thing is best saved for some other place and day.
In New Orleans, on Thursday, August 3rd, 1995 — for the first time in three years — I was beginning to think that I could be happy again. I can't recall exactly what I was doing on this morning, nine years ago. I wasn't keeping a journal at the time, so it's been lost to me. Mostly, I recall that the weather was extraordinarily hot, and I was very glad to be there. A few days later, I went home to Athens, Georgia, and a day after that, on the afternoon of August 9th, a Wednesday, a mutual friend called to tell me of Elizabeth's death the week before. Her memorial service had been held on Sunday. Friends had made the decision not to tell me what had happened until I got back to Athens.
And I will remember that moment, sitting on the floor, hearing impossible words being spoken through the phone, for as long as I live. When I am an old woman, should I live so long, I will remember the smallest details of that moment. The completely undeniable absurdity of it. The way that the entire world had been changed forever. What I'd lost. The utter senselessness of her death. And so on. And on. And on. I have all of that, forever, right fucking here, behind my eyes. It's more indelible than any photograph or journal entry.
A couple of days later, I wrote "Giants in the Earth," the first story that I wrote about Elizabeth's death. In the years ahead of me, I wrote about little else (and I did little but write, as work seemed the only vital thing I had left). Occassionally, someone would ask me who she was. After all, all my novels have been in memory of her, and there was Candles for Elizabeth, the little chapbook I did in 1998. Threshold was more about Elizabeth's death and my struggle to deal with it than it was about anything else. Ditto for Tales of Pain and Wonder. But I've always evaded the questions about her as tactfully as I could. It didn't seem appropriate to talk about her publicly. Truthfully, it still doesn't. And it probably never will. She almost certainly would not have approved.
But it's been nine years now, and I have to get from one side of this day to the other, again, and I felt like telling the truth about why that's going to be so hard. As regards her death, I've never had a single iota of what is so fashionably, so casually referred to as "closure." I don't expect it. But, four years after Elizabeth's suicide, I met Kathryn (Spooky). Three years after that, I realized that I was in love with her, in love when I'd been unable to even imagine I would ever feel so strongly for anyone ever again.
That she is here with me today does not diminish the meaning of this day, but it does make the crossing easier, and for that I am speechlessly grateful.
Jesus. I thought I'd be able to get through this without crying.
I'll light two candles at dusk this evening, in a west-facing window, just as I've done on this day and on her birthday every year for the past nine years. I'll let them burn until dawn. In this jaded, always-dying world, this may seem an unconscionably sentimental act, but I really don't give a shit any longer; I feel haven't truly been a part of this world for more than a decade.
It is my most sincere hope that this entry has done neither Elizabeth nor me any disservice. I'm just tired of the "secret."
Elizabeth Tillman Aldridge (1970-1995)
I watched you suffer a dull, aching pain
Now you decided to show me the same
No sweeping exits or offstage lines,
Can make me feel bitter or treat you unkind
Couldn't drag me away,
Wild, wild horses,
Couldn't drag me away...
And so it goes.
Monday, August 02, 2004
Monday, again. The less said about yesterday, the better. For now, anyway. It seems highly unlikely that I'll actually write today, but I'll do something, because there is always guilt, and, hey, at least I have a clean desk again.
My skin, bare of its normal covering of downy hair, is unnaturally, almost unpleasantly sensative. My hand brushes my face, or my clothes brush my back, and the sensation is entirely alien.
Since I seem to have nothing much of my own to say today, here's an e-mail from David LeMoine, which I am including in this entry because it made me feel a lot better for a little while last night:
Following on the heels of your blog entry about your experience while seeing The Village, I offer many sympathies because my friend and I were loathe to experience exactly the same thing when we saw it. One would think that a small theatre in the little northwest corner of Massachusetts where we live would yield better results from people, but alas, it did not. Our theatre also erupted into laughter when Ivy confronts Noah after he's stabbed Lucius. I was also forced to endure the man behind me who crunched his popcorn the entire time, stopping every couple of minutes to shake the contents of the bag before resuming his feeding. But the clincher for me was the couple in front of me. The waif of a little blonde girl who sat nearly in the lap of her boyfriend while he decided to yell at the screen during choice parts. His bellowing of "How'ya feel now, bitch!" when Ivy is standing lost in the middle of the patch of red flowers was almost enough to make me get up and leave. The ending of the film was also entirely lost on these people, who were up and out of their seats before the fade-to-black finished, and the credits began to roll. Jesus frelling Christ, have we become that much of a society of ADD-riddled fuckwits that we can't even wait for the credits before storming out of the theatre like cattle while saying "This movie sucked." Or perhaps my personal favorite, and most telling, a girl walking out with her boyfriend told him, as she walked past me, "You're going to have to explain the ending to me, 'cause I didn't get it."
I'm guessing none of them could ever hope to "get" one of your books then. Which I'm guessing is as fine by you as it is by me, as who needs fans with dren for brains, right? Though the sales figures would be nice. Anyway, I finished my advanced copy of The Dry Salvages just a few hours ago, and I want to once again say how much I like the idea Sub. Press had of sending out advanced copies to fans. You'll have to thank Bill Schafer for me. With that said, I'll tell you that I absolutely loved the novella. It is definitely the best writing you have finished as of yet. The simple, stripped down style was masterfully done, as was the first person narrative.
It is easy for me to see the maturity in your writing style, having read all your novels, chapbooks, and majority of your short stories. Every book you have written has gotten better and better, and I think I would reason this to be not simply honing the craft of writing (a silly term, I know), but rather that each book is filled with so much personal emotion from you that every new character, every new story, every continuation of a character is an extension of yourself and your life's experiences. You've often likened the finishing of a book to birthing a child, and I believe that to be very true for you. These stories you write are more than mere words, as each word has a piece of DNA from you in there, a piece of its mother who cared for it for so long before sending out into the world, the story can never fully separate itself from its author, and I think this to be a good thing, as it lends an air of personality to each and every book or story you write. A good author can hope of having a "style," and you certainly have a wonderfully unique one.
The Dry Salvages left me breathless. The sheer adrenaline that pumped through me at the end of Audrey's story, and then the haunting and crushing defeat, the knowledge that no matter how many words she puts to paper those memories will never leave, forever trapped inside her mind, so better to drop the pen and see out the rest of her life; it is a beautifully desperate ending, but one she seems to have known was coming all along.
Reading The Dry Salvages brought back such great memories of reading Lovecraft's work when I was younger. The final scenes of what really happened on Piros were so perfectly worded that I felt I was literally there and losing my sanity with them. You have accomplished in words this time, better than I think you ever have, what Lovecraft mastered — the telling of unexplainable terror without ever showing us its face. The play of emotional and mental collapse brought to life in the characters by your words was intensely executed. I would easily rank this novella as one of the marvels and masterworks of science-fiction and horror, as well as one of the best damned pieces of writing I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
You mentioned in your blog that you would like to see your future writings take on this kind of style. I'll tell you that I would love to see that. An entire book written in this style - admittedly different from how you normally write - would be absolutely delicious.
Thank you, David.
Sunday, August 01, 2004
Gods. It's 11:46 a.m on a frelling Sunday morning, and I've already had a geeky argument about alignment in D&D. In some alternate, unrealized reality, Caitlín R. Kiernan is not an uber-nerd. She married an investment banker and moved into a pricey suburb of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has a dog named Patches and adopted two kids, a girl and a boy. She shops at Sam's Club and drinks cheap beer (a practice she thinks daring) and loves sitcoms. She wears a lot of pastels. Her idea of kinky sex is being on top (which she never does), and she's a member of the PTA. She drives an SUV (white), votes Republican (though she's a Democrat at heart), and has never quite gotten the hang of e-mail. She likes Thomas Kinkade and reads John Grisham. Goths make her nervous, though she isn't precisely sure why. She bakes bundt cakes (from mixes, not from scratch).
And she most definitely does not play D&D.
Someday, I'm going to write a whole book of alternate-world me's.
I was too tired yesterday to wash all the excess wax and moisturizer off my body and awoke this morning feeling like the sticky floor of a theatre. So, I have to wash my hair and bathe before I go play...well, you know.
Last night, I cooked a particularly hot, particularly yummy stir fry, and Spooky and I watched Olivier Assayas' very effective and surreal cybererotic corporate thriller, Demonlover. Then I played a couple of hours of Kya: Dark Lineage. I need to finish this game, then finish Prince of Persia, in preparation for the release of Ghosthunter.
Should I say something about writing? Hmmmmm. Okay. I can safely say that The Dry Salvages will be the most proofread thing I've ever published. There. Duty done. Have a doughnut...