Sunday, July 31, 2005
I'm not working today. I am vigorously not working today. Usually, my days off wind up being watered-down work days. The 18th and 19th of this month, for example, my most recent "days off" before today. I worked on both of them, it was just a messy, unfocused sort of work with a lot of pretend relaxation thrown in. But this entry is as close as I'll come to work today. Frell it all, I say. If it can't wait until tomorrow, I don't care.
Yesterday, we read through Chapter Seven of Daughter of Hounds, which I like a great deal, mostly, and I made a bunch of corrections to the science of "Night," fixing some truly embarrassing errors that a first reader was kind enough to catch for me. I answered e-mails. I sent e-mails. I dealt with some eBay business (Spooky did more of this than I did). And last night, we watched a vampire film that was so entirely and mercilessly imbecilic that I'm not even going to admit to having seen it. Fortunately, I could watch Duck Soup on TCM afterwards. Groucho is an antidote for a lot of merciless things. I also played more of the pink shimmering fury that is Final Fantasy X-2. It might have been any Saturday. They blur together.
This morning I've lain about, nibbled at Newman's Own Oragnic Alphabet Cookies (arrowroot flavoured), made fun of the cat, napped, and tried very hard to be sincerely unproductive.
Truthfully, it kind of bores me. Like this journal entry, which I'm sure is boring you, too.
Oh, I forgot. Spooky photographed my eyes this morning (which was kind of drad and slightly oogy), because a friend needs eyes for some arcane purpose which only she fully understands. One of these photos might make a decent LJ icon. One big eye. ONE BIG EYE. I find that eyes are one of those things that if you stare at for only a few moments begin to lose "context" and appear like something else entirely (usually peculiar, bottomless pools thriving with vast colonies of extremophilic bacteria). Stare at them only a moment, and you realise how little you actually know about what an eye looks like. Yes. I'll stop now. If you insist. But my platypus asks that you check out the eBay auctions. I have mentioned my platypus, right? Well, anyway...
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Addendum: Spooky's listed copies of both The Dry Salvages (PC of the numbered state) and The Worm in My Mind's Eye on eBay, and we ask that you please have a look. This is the first time anywhere that the chapbook has been offered independent of the lettered and numbered editions of The Dry Salvages.
Also, I just read news of a letter in Nature (via Palaeoblog) announcing the discovery of two new taxa of Paleocene-age venomous mammals. Today, Solenodon, two shrew species, and the duck-billed platypus are the only four mammals that use venom. Drad stuff.
Unexpectedly, after only 1,357 words, I stumbled upon the end of Chapter Seven yesterday. It's a wonder I didn't break my damned fool neck. Today, we'll read through the whole chapter, and I'll make revisions. I also have to make some final revisions to "Night" today. But, back to Daughter of Hounds, I can at last see the light at the end of the large intestine. As Chapter Seven concluded, the pieces fell into place (as the cliché goes). I know now what Emmie has to do. I know what Soldier has to do. I know what's up with the Bailiff (mostly). I know, probably, what's to come of the Daughter of the Four of Pentacles. I even know who the strange black-skinned woman in the desert is. And, strangest of all, I think the ending will be much less grim than I'd come to expect. When I started this book, I promised my agent a "happy ending." This promise was made very tongue-in-cheek, but I did hope to write something that wasn't as utterly bleak as Murder of Angels. Yet, as the book unfolded, total doom just seemed inevitable. All these people were doomed, and what could I do about it? How else could it go? But now I see a small bit of hope, a silver lining, and I hope no one's going to think I'm losing my nerve or going soft or anything. I'm only following where the story leads me.
I'm not sure, but I don't think I've ever written a whole chapter in only seven days (and one of those days was almost a total loss). I might have done something like that when I was writing Low Red Moon. I can't recall. So, yeah. Chapter Seven is done, two days "ahead of schedule." I'll try to begin Chapter Eight no later than Tuesday.
I have been chided for not having linked to this story sooner. It appears there may be a planet beyond Pluto. Of course, the question of whether or not it's the tenth planet hinges on whether or not Pluto's a planet at all. I've always thought there was far too much of semantics and much too little science in the task of deciding what is and isn't a planet. We tend, rather arbitrarily to think of planets as those primary objects orbiting stars, but it seems to me that "moons" are also planetary, especially large moon systems like those of Jupiter and Saturn. They just happen to orbit other planets while they orbit the sun. Anyway, I agree that Yuggoth would make a perfect name for this new denizen of the outer solar system.
Click here for the latest chapter of Boschen and Nesuko. Nesuko has a line in this chapter that I adored: "The universe isn't made of safe feelings, pain, or even sadism. It's made of...meat and bone, rocks and water." Ahmet.
Er...let's see. Kid Night, right? Yeah. We started with Tomo-o Haraguchi's marvelously bizarre Kibakichi (2003). Think High Plains Drifter meets The Seven Samurai meets Nightbreed, and that's a start. We followed it with the lamentably dull Cold and Dark (2005). And then, gardas and nixars, then something most strange and unforeseen happened. I did a something I swore I'd never, ever do. I played a Final Fantasy game. To be precise, I played Final Fantasy X-2. And...I liked it. I know I'm going against stereotype here, so bear with me. It was just so marvelously frelling surreal...and pretty...and cute...and giggly. If there is a girlier game in all the multiverse than this, I dare you to find it. I may grow weary of the novelty after another night or three, but there is an undeniable charm in the sheer goofiness of this game, what with dancing people to death and the scantily clad whore children and all the giggling...gods, the giggling. And the eye drops. I still don't understand the eye drops. Perhaps I never shall.
The monster doodle sculpture auction was a hit. I will offer a second one soon. But not immediately. My thanks to the winner of #1. No one else can ever have the first, but you, dear thing. Meanwhile, check out the other auctions. Whoever uses "Buy it Now" in the next two days gets a free Nyarlathotep CD (Our Thoughts Make Spirals in Their World). And I apologise for still not having gotten The Dry Salvages and The Worm in My Mind's Eye up yet. Hopefully, we'll do it today.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Just a quick reminder that one of the items, the hardback copy of Low Red Moon, in our current eBay auctions goes off tomorrow. And, in fact I have just decided, even as I write this, that whosoever wins the auction will be the first person on this particular planet and in this particular dimension to own a monster doodle scuplture. That's right. I'm trying my hand at sculpting one of the grotesques from my doodles (in paper clay), and if you get this copy of Low Red Moon, you also get that first doodle sculpture. It might not be pretty, but it'll be yours. I will mark it #1 and initial it.
And just so this entry consists of something other than a shill for the auctions, here's a link to a very drad thing — Frozen lake shines bright in Martian crater.
Yesterday was sort of a disaster as far as the writing of Chapter Seven was concerned. About 250 words in, the teetering Popsicle stick and school paste scaffolding of my focus came clattering down all over the office floor. I'd allowed my thoughts to stray from the story, and that's almost always the fast track to an unproductive day. I forced myself to make it as far as 500 words (total, I did 529 words yesterday). Fortunately, the day was not a total waste. We made it through the galley for To Charles Fort, With Love again, double- and triple-checking this and that. But Spooky did most of the work on the galleys. I'm annoyed that no matter how many times we read through this collection I know, from personal experience, there will be errors in the printed text. It has been proofed to hell and back, and still there will be errors. I've reached the point where I give up and resign myself to the fact of them. It will not be perfect. The imperfections, most of which will be invisible to other people, will be the first thing I see whenever I look at the book. Also, yesterday was marred by our attempt to extract blood from a stone, which is to say that we're trying to get a decent black-and-white print from a once-reliable photo developer that's gone mostly digital. First they printed on the wrong paper (matte, when we need glossy), then they cropped where we told them not to, and today I have to decide whether of not to accept the imperfect print or try to make them do this job right. But, mostly, I have to try to reach the end of Chapter Seven. I'm very close, perhaps no more than 2,500 words for Chapter Eight. I found myself writing this particularly Carrollian scene yesterday, and that was another reason I made myself stop, because I'd ceased to trust my own judgement as to whether or not I was making the correct decisions about the book. I was too exhausted. Too little sleep. Far too little sleep.
Phew. Long frelling paragraph.
There's been some very good and much-appreciated conversation in the phorum the last few days, regarding my decision to write under a pseudonym and the pressures of being a working novelist in today's market. You might check it out. Just click here and look at the thread titled "Journal Follow-Ups..." I think the conversation in question begins in the 7/27 entries (or thereabouts).
As evidence of how far out of touch with the vertebrate paleontology community I've gotten, I've only just learned of the death of Professor John Ostrorm. Ostrom was responsible, in large part, for the "Dinosaur Renaissance" of the 1970s, following his discovery of the maniraptoran theropod Deinonychus in 1964. He was mentor to Dr. Robert T. Bakker, who, in turn, was my mentor in the mid-1980s. Our understanding of the evolution of birds owes much to Ostrom's studies of non-avian theropods and fossil birds, especially his work on Archaeopteryx. I met him in 1986 in Philadelphia.
Anything else about yesterday? The signature sheets for both To Charles Fort, With Love and Frog Toes and Tentacles arrived, but I'm not going to be able to get to them until early next week. Last night, I mostly tried to relax, in hopes of getting a good night's sleep. I finished Pariah for the XBox. Few games that I've bothered to finish have suffered from a such a muddled storyline. And, like I said, the fps perspective was even more claustrophobic that usual, sort of like wandering around staring through the cardboard tube at the center of a roll of paper towels. Then Spooky and I watched Val Guest's excellent The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), a very creepy and understated vision of apocalypse. And that was yesterday.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
I know I must have slept last night. I'm quite certain of it, because I have recollections of nightmares that must have occurred in an alternate mode of consciousness from that which I am presently experiencing (unless they are other sorts of memories, from some other alternate). But I feel like I haven't slept at all. I am almost painfully not awake.
Yesterday, I wrote a very decent 1,535 words on Chapter Seven of Daughter of Hounds (which means the chapter presently stands at 7,017 words, written since the 23rd). The progress (or, if you insist, the "illusion" of progress) is nice, but there's no escaping the truth that writing this novel is pretty much a long walk through a very dark room. Maybe it's a long walk through a very dark attic with a rotten floor. I continue moving from one side — p. 1 — towards the other side — THE END (someday I shall write a book backwards) — placing one foot in front of the other, trusting that there will be solid floor ahead of and beneath me. But never knowing. And now that I've just written that out, thinking back on the last tumbling step Emmie Silvey took yesterday, my metaphor and the action of the book seem to have converged in a way that must be meaningful, at least to me (and the author is the only person for whom a novel must hold meaning). And, also, I seem to have reached that point with this novel that I usually reach with novels, where I have become fiercely protective of whatever thread my subconscious is reeling out, or whatever link currently exists between me and a wider unconscious mind. Early on, I'm usually pretty agreeable about stuff. Maybe this shouldn't happen. Maybe that should. Perhaps I should outline a few chapters. Should I rewrite Chapter Three? Perhaps I should know, this time, how it all turns out before I write it down. That's how it always starts. But by Chapter Six or Seven, I shed any pretense at being reasonable. I begin to fear that some flow or communication (between me and myself) will be interrupted.
I've been told by Bill Schafer that Bob Eggleton is doing the illustration for "Bradbury Weather," for issue #2 of Subterranean Magazine. I adore Bob's work. If you'll recall, he did the painting for the cover of From Weird and Distant Shores.
After the writing yesterday, it began to rain, which was nice. I like summer, but lately there's been a little too much of a good thing. After dinner, we walked in a downpour, which was even nicer. The air felt sort of clean for the first time in weeks.
Spooky has posted a photo she took of the offending heart, the severed ventricles of the sheep, in her LJ. Just click here.
We never did get around to listing The Dry Salvages and The Worm in My Minds Eye on eBay yesterday, but hopefully that will be remedied this very afternoon. And I think that's it for this morning. Time to make the doughnuts.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
So, what do you get when you combine two brightly coloured tree frogs, a black umbrella, and a raw sheep's heart? An aborted shoot for the author's photo for To Charles Fort, With Love, that's what. It seemed like a simple enough concept. But little, picky things kept going wrong, and I was exhausted and didn't feel like sitting on a hard wooden chair half-naked under hot lights holding a hunk of raw, drippy, slimy meat, and there was the frelling cat, and at 10:40 p.m. I said enough's enough. We'll use the Stegosaurus photo or something else that's pre-existing. The sheep's heart is still in the fridge. I suppose it needs to go down to the garbage today.
I only wrote 1,004 words on Chapter Seven yesterday, because my agent called. We talked about YA fiction in general and the strategy we'll be taking with my YA novel, in particular. She's on her way up to Maine to hide from the heat in NYC for the rest of the summer. We talked about the happy endings I never write. We talked about my desire to write under a pseudonym. And by the way, yes I would continue to write short fiction, novellas, etc. as Caitlín R. Kiernan — a number of you asked that yesterday. My agent's not entirely sure why I want to take on a pseudonym, and I found that I have a hard time explaining it to her (or anyone else). It just feels like what I ought to do. Of course, in the end, this will most likely be up to an editor somewhere. If they want a YA novel by the "Caitlín R. Kiernan" construct, then that's probably what I'll have to give them. I'd just like to write as someone else for a while, and, as I told Merrilee yesterday, I'd like certain witless people to stop thinking of me as "that person who can't write in complete sentences." Anyway, the conversation was mostly encouraging. Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press called immediately afterwards. Too much telephone for one day.
I've been pleased to learn that a lot of those copies of the Charles Fort ARC that went to BEA this year actually made it into the hands of people I wanted to have copies — Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link, Gwenda Bond, Holly Black. All people I was getting ready to mail copies out to, only to discover they have them already. That was a pleasant surprise. I still need to send one to Neil, but I think that's about it.
Later today, we'll be adding a couple of things to the eBay auctions, including copies of The Dry Salvages (both trade and signed editions) and the recent chapbook, The Worm in My Mind's Eye. Watch for those, please, as income from eBay is rather important to me at the moment, and do not hesitate to write Spooky at CRK_books@yahoo.com if there's something you'd like, but don't see it on our current auction list.
Back to yesterday, as if things needed to get weirder after the frogs and the umbrella and the heart, Spooky and I watched The Witch Who Came From the Sea on DVD, which was, perhaps, weird beyond measure. I'm not sure how one would describe it. One part Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, one part David Cronenberg, one part '70s skin flick, one part William Hope Hodgson, one part...oh, never mind. It was actually better written then I'd expected, but inexplicable, nonethless. Not the thing for right before bed, but there you go.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Yesterday was a very good writing day. I did 1,738 words on Chapter Seven. I hope to reach the end of this chapter on July 31st. So, yes, progress, but the story drags me forward with little or no foreknowledge of where it's carrying me. Strange places. Yesterday, for example, I had a moment where I was pretty sure I was writing an Arabian Nights tale that had somehow bumped universes with my novel. Emmie has spent much of this novel trying to distinguish between reality and dream, and I think we've reached the point where I'm no better at it than she is, at least not as far as the events in this novel are concerned. I can say that the readers who were put off by the overt/traditional "fantasy" elements in Murder of Angels will not be happy. I'm writing another utterly unclassifiable novel. Surprise. But that's okay. At least, I can say that's okay, whenever I'm not worrying about sales figures and marketing and dren like that. I'll have many chances in my life to make money. I have only one chance to write this novel the way it should be written.
And very soon, I have to put together a proposal for the YA novel. All I need are a few 28-hr. days, and it should be a breeze. I'm speaking with my agent, Merrilee, at 2:30 this afternoon, on this subject — the YA novel, not 28-hr. days. I'll most likely have to bite the bullet and do an outline/synopsis for this one, which, though aggravating, is fine as long as no one actually expects me to follow it later on. And I believe that I have decided that I will not be publishing the YA books as Caitlín R. Kiernan, but under a psuedonym. Have I mentioned that already? Well, I have now.
Discovery is in orbit. I've breathed my sigh of relief (two, actually). Eny'arid dri vr't, I say (which, in Nebari, means simply "safe journey").
Spooky is deep into doll-making mode again. She spent much of yesterday painting stripey legs. You can see her progress on the latest doll in her LJ, Humglum. If only she would use her powers for...well, you know how that goes.
Okay. I have to write now, or the little men who live under my desk will start to complain. But please have a look at the latest round of eBay auctions. Thank you, one and all.
Monday, July 25, 2005
The writing went well yesterday. I did 1,558 words on Chapter Seven of Daughter of Hounds. Oh, this book. This damned book. I'm so in love with Emmie Silvey and Soldier and Odd Willie and the Daughter of the Four of Pentacles, but I am so afraid of this book. And yesterday I came to one of those points (thank you, Spooky) where I'm made to consider that perhaps I've been looking at the problem entirely wrong — the problem, in this instance, being the bringing together of two connected but separate narrative threads. It may be that they are to remain separate, that my protagonists might never meet face to face. Or that meeting may be very brief. I have begun to understand that through such a narrative as this I could perhaps better serve the story, and also serve a favorite passage from Schopenhauer which I used as the opening epigraph for Silk and which has since informed much of my writing:
All the events in a man's life would accordingly stand in two fundamentally different kinds of connections; firstly, in the objective, causal connection of the natural process; secondly, in a subjective connection which exists only in relation to the individual who experiences it, and which is thus as subjective as his own dreams....That both kinds of connection exist simultaneously, and the selfsame event, although a link in two totally different chains, nevertheless falls into place in both, so that the fate of one individual invariably fits the fate of the other, and each is the hero of his own drama while simultaneously figuring in a drama foreign to him...
If I do this, it will make a much stranger novel of Daughter of Hounds, the same way that Chance's kidnapping effected Low Red Moon, and the absence of a climatic explosion effected Threshold, the same way that Niki's suicide effected Murder of Angels, and so on. And it frightens me. Those things which stand apart make easier targets, and I must admit that after eight years (the time now since the publication of my first novel in 1998) of painting bullseyes on my chest, I'd really kind of like to blend in just a little. It's a cowardly ambition, I know. It's an ambition alien to what I am supposed to be doing here, and one that I have to disregard, no matter how alluring it may seem sometimes. It's always, always, a question of doing right by the book, or the short story, or comic script, at hand. And doing right by Daughter of Hounds, I see now, might mean that I leave some less adroit, less adventuresome readers scratching their heads. This will likely not be the novel that leads critics to proclaim I have at last gained the "common touch." This will be the novel it needs to be.
My thanks to Llar'en for bringing additional errors in the text of "Night" (?"The Horses of Neptune") to my attention, and to my editor for giving me the time to do something about them. I'll get to that ASAP.
Last night, we had a rare dinner out with friends. Very good Thai at Top Spice. And the conversation was even better — better for me — than the food. Back home, I sqaundered a couple more hours on Pariah and it's murky storyline. Er...let's see. Anything else? Oh, yes. I meant to say that yes, the things I said yesterday about the necessarily self-conscious, self-indulgent nature of fantastic fiction does, indeed, apply to the writing of all fiction. I really didn't mean to imply otherwise. It just came out that way. To my way of thinking, all fiction is fantasy, as all fiction is equally fictional (i.e., non-factual, which is not to say untrue).
And we've begun a new round of eBay, the first in a couple of months. As you'll recall, we're now selling from a new (old) account, and all inquiries should be sent directly to Spooky at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there's something you want, but it's not currently listed, just ask (lettered editions, for example). All interested parties please proceed to Spookycrabbit. Thanks!
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Set me aflame and cast me free,
Away, you wretched worlds of tethers...
There are many words and phrases that should be forever kept out of the hands of book reviewers. It's sad, but true. And one of these is "self-indulgent." Whoever reviewed Neil's new novel, Anansi Boys, for Kirkus calls it "self-indulgent" (though the review is, generally, positive). And this is one of those things that strikes me very odd, like reviewers accusing an author of writing in a way that seems "artificial" or "self-conscious." It is, of course, a necessary prerequisite of fiction that one employ the artifice of language and that one exist in an intensely self-conscious state. Same with "self-indulgent." What could possibly be more self-indulgent than the act of writing fantastic fiction? The author is indulging her- or himself in the expression of the fantasy, and, likewise, the readers are indulging themselves in the luxury of someone else's fantasy. I've never written a story that wasn't self-indulgent. Neither has any other fantasy or sf author. We indulge our interests, our obsessions, and assume that someone out there will feel as passionately about X as we do.
I did manage to get Chapter Seven of Daughter of Hounds begun yesterday (indulging my own fascinations with old railroad tunnels, underground places in general, shadows, burnt-out automobiles, and mildew). It was a modest beginning, only 1,104 words, but that's decent. It's something to act as a foundation. But I am starting to fear this book. It's not unusual, that I find myself fearing a novel as I near it's completion. It happened with both Threshold and Murder of Angels. But here I am, past typescript-page 400 (as of yesterday), and I still have two seperate narrative threads. I thought that they would come together towards the middle of the book, but now we're past the middle of the book and, though they are bridged here and there, they remain divided. Partly, this is an artefact of the story's having been compacted by Roc's desires to keep it under 150,000 words. Partly, it's just some strange thing that seems beyond my control. I begin to wonder if there's actually some purpose in it. I don't want to force a confluence, as I hate the feeling that I'm forcing a story this way or that when it seems to have other things in mind. But I am near to forcing it, anyway. I can already imagine the comments from reviewers, the ones who will go on about how better the book would have been if only the two narrative threads had been united early on. But that's not what happened. That's not the way this story is happening. If I force it, I might break the whole thing apart.
Nothing much to say about yesterday. The mosquitoes are eating me alive. It happens every summer. They prefer my blood to Spooky's. I don't want to be delicious, anymore. What else? After Darkness, I wanted to see something else by director Jaume Balagueró. We chose The Nameless (Los Sin nombre; 1999), because it was based (to some degree) on Ramsey's novel of the same name. Sadly, it wasn't nearly as effective as Darkness, though it covered much of the same ground. But I'm open to the possibility that the film was so marred by the atrocious dubbing job (I just wasn't up to subtitles last night) that it would be unfair of me to judge it until after I've seen it in Spanish. Also, I started playing Pariah on XBox. So far, it's a particularly claustrophobic fps. The game's world is well-rendered, the voice acting's better than usual, and the music's quite good — but I can't help but feel I'm playing Halo 2 over again or that I've only unlocked some secret side-mission. And that's probably not a fair estimate, either. I hate it when reviewers dismiss something for not being "original." Originality is the most deadly mirage in all of art. You can chase from now until doomsday, and you'll only find yourself lost and dying of thirst. Anyway, that was yesterday.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
I did not get Chapter Seven started yesterday. But I did finish up the revisions on "Night" (which might become "The Horses of Neptune" after all) and dealt with some questions from Subterranean Press regarding the CEM (copy-edited manuscript) of To Charles Fort, With Love. So, there was work, just not as much as there needed to be, and certainly not the sort there needed to be. But I have some hope for today of getting back to Emmie Silvey and the Daughter of the Four of Pentacles and the tunnel beneath College Hill.
Back in the day, I wrote lots and lots of music reviews for the late great Carpe Noctem magazine. But I don't really do that sort of thing anymore. I'm just not terribly good at writing music reviews, and I know it. And I have all these other things to write, besides. But I was recently asked if I'd like to write a review of The Unquiet Void's wonderfully Lovecraftian Posioned Dreams for Starvox webzine. I said that I would, and you can now read it here.
Anyway, back to yesterday. When the work was done, I read Dominic Green's "Send Me a Mentagram" from last year's Year's Best Science Fiction, because someone on the phorum had recommended it to me. And then, for KinderNacht, we watched Jaume Balagueró's mostly effective Darkness (2002). Anna Paquin wasn't quite as good as I'd hope she'd be (the director had wanted Natalie Portman for the role). But yes, creepy, and I loved the eclipse scenes. We followed it with John Maybury's The Jacket (2005), which was really very marvelous, so good that I felt kind of bad for watching it on Kid Night. It's not a Kid-Night movie. The cast is excellent, and Keira Knightley redeemed herself for her part in that awful Arthurian thing. Brian Eno did the score, and it's probably one of the better films involving time travel I've ever seen. So, that was yesterday.
And I think that's it for now. I'm not awake. That's become my battlecry. I'm not awake. I'm sitting here typing, but I'm not awake. There's not enough caffeine in the world to wake me.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Addendum (The Lure of Simplicity): I've changed the title of the new sf story to "Night," though, for a moment I almost went with "The Horses of Neptune." Despite the revisions, there's something still bothering me about the story, something I can't quite pin down. I may yet do another revision before publication, if there's time.
I'm pleased by the proposed extension of Daylight Savings Time. Of course, the Bush Administration objects. W is no doubt worried about the 100,000 barrels of oil per day that will be saved by the extension. Me, I just like the longer days.
And I'm very excited about the release of a Hybrid SA-CD version Jeff Wayne's 1978 musical adaptation of The War of the Worlds. And there's a 7-disc limited edition. How drad is that? Very drad, indeed.
Well, on the bright side (squint), I only feel about seventy this morning. On the not-so-bright side, because you can't have one without the other, eclipses being what they are and all, I got absolutely nothing done yesterday. Neither the last revisions to the sf story, which still has no title, nor the beginning of Chapter Seven. I act like I have all the time in the world. Well, I don't.
As for the aforementioned free movie passes, turns out we didn't see either. After such an utter loss of a day, I just didn't have the requisite energy and patience for contact with humans. So, we rented Capricorn 1 and Cube 2: Hypercube on DVD and stayed the frell home. I also watched a documentary on the Discovery Times Channel about the search for the source of the Nile. I loved one line towards the end, when the narrator referred to the "long-lost Mountains of the Moon." See, this is what happens when white people don't know where things are. They must be either "undiscovered" or, better yet, "long lost."
We should be getting things going on eBay again soonish. Note that the auctions will be under a new account — Spookycrabbit, which replaces the old Spookydooky account — and that all inquiries specifically involving the auctions should be directed to a new e-mail address — email@example.com.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Nazi ignoramus...er...I mean pinhead...um...I meant to say, Congressman Joe Barton decalres that scientists should be placed on trial for sassing the GOP.
"At best foolhardy," indeed.
Addendum 1: We have free passes for previews of both Stealth and The Island tonight. I must admit that some sad, sick part of me is drawn to the pure idiot blow-it-all-up charm of Stealth, but much more of me is drawn to Scarlett Johansson; so I think The Island wins, even though its appears to be little more than a shameless reworking of Logan's Run.
I just heard about today's bombings in London. Gratefully, it's apparently nothing like the severity of the attack two weeks ago.
Almost all of yesterday was spent reading. The new (and still untitled) sf story and Chapter Five. And then a paper on the use of magnetic sails for interplanetary travel, so that I could correct the dumb ramscoop error in the story. I didn't get all the revisions to the story done that I'd hoped I'd get done. I still have a little left to do today, which throws doubt on whether or not I'll actual begin Chapter Seven of Daughter of Hounds before tomorrow. I very much need to have another chapter finished before the end of the month. I'll be cutting it very close.
Also, my copy of The Year's Best Science Fiction, Twenty-Second Annual Volume arrived yesterday, though I've hardly had a chance to look at it. I was working on the story, on and off, as late as 11:30 last night.
I feel about eighty years old this morning.
Maybe today will be a day of several short entries. I could use them like buoys, to guide me through what promises to be an interminable day...
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
One day off turned into two days off. But there's a good reason, really. Monday, Spooky and I unexpectedly had to deal with a bunch of last-minute proofreading stuff related to To Charles Fort, With Love before the CEM went away to Subterranean Press' design person. And then, on top of that, we had to attend to the business of an ad in this year's Dragon*Con programme book. So, since I had to work for part of Monday, I stole another day. It was a halfway decent little holiday, too, despite the interruptions. We had sushi for lunch on Monday @ Sweet Lime in L5P, because Monday is $1 Sushi Day. Yesterday, we spent a couple of hours at Books Again in Decatur, where we have an obscene amount of credit from all the books we got rid of when we moved in December. While we were browsing, there was a terrific thunderstorm. Used book shops are marvelous during thunderstorms. Anyway, we left with the following (and we still have $278 in store credit):
In Search of Lake Monsters by Peter Costello
The Last Dinosaur Book by W. J. T. Mitchell
The Best of Beardsley by R. A. Walker
Vincent Van Gogh by Rainer Metzger and Ingo F. Walther
The Complete World of Human Evolution by Chris Stringer and Peter Andrews
Symbolism by Michael Gibson
Destination Mars: In Art, Myth, and Science by Maryin Caidin and Jay Barbree
The Art of Sleepy Hollow
Cyclopedia Anatomicae by Gyorgy Fehér and András Szunyoghy
And how the frell did I not know about Smilla's Sense of Snow? Somehow, I had it in my head that Bille August's film (and, by extension, Peter Høeg's novel) was some silly bit of chick lit and avoided it entirely. Instead, I discover eight years later, it's this funky take on "The Colour Out of Space." Anyway, we watched it last night (sadly, stuck with another VHS pan-and-scan). I adored Julia Ormond's performance and was impressed at how the meteorite and its associated weirdness was the catalyst for the story, but was never allowed to overshadow the lives of the central characters. My only complaint was that the climactic SFX weren't handled a little better, but I think they were a bit beyond the budget. Now, I have to read the novel. And that, gardas and nixars, was my two-day Day Off. Today, Spooky and I have to read through the new sf story again, so I can make the revisions later today, and then read Chapter Five of Daughter of Hounds so that tomorrow I can hopefully pick up Emmie's half of the story again with the beginning of Chapter Seven. So, it's going to be a long wordy day. I don't feel even nearly rested enough. I doubt I ever shall.
Anything else? Well, I never did link to the latest chapter of Boshen and Nesuko (Chapter 22:"Parties are Always Boring").
And there are boulders on Enceladus where boulders shouldn't be:
Each boulders measures 10-20 metres in diameter.
Mostly, I'm trying to remain above the bad news, all the terrifying, crazy stuff that makes me want to stay in bed, the stuff that makes it hard to sit here at this desk and write my preposterous little spook stories while the world gets increasingly rotten. W's pro-life pick for the Supreme Court, for example. Or the news that almost 25,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the war, the largest single percentage of them casualties of U.S.-led forces. Never mind that W lied about the WMDs in Iraq and about the country's connection to Al-Qaeda, that this is a war about money and oil; now, we see that American forces have killed enough civilians in Iraq to equal something like eight 9/11s. Isn't that enough? Aren't we "even" yet?
Monday, July 18, 2005
The read-through went well yesterday. Spooky read, and I listened. But then I e-mailed the story to
, who pointed out a really dumb mistake involving the use of a ramscoop and an even dumber continuity blunder involving android masturbation. This is what comes of writing when one is utterly frelling exhausted. But I like the thing as a whole. I like it very much. I think it may be better than The Dry Salvages, but not quite as good as "Riding the White Bull." The word count stands at 10,242, and I still have no replacement title. Yesterday afternoon, I read Eliot's "Little Gidding" to Spooky, since that's where the original title came from, hoping that some stray bit of verse would seem appropriate, but nothing did. Times like this, I'm truly annoyed at the artifice of title. One of the nice things about the vignettes in Frog Toes and Tentacles is that at least half the pieces are untitled.
By my reckoning, this makes the 64th short story I've written and sold since summer 1993. If you count the vingettes for Frog Toes and Tentacles, the number goes up to 73. Personally, I think quantity counts for very little in art. I'm merely amazed at the sum, and what it means in days and hours and keystrokes.
I spent much of yesterday afternoon at Emory, trying to catch up on my private hardcopy journal and looking for something to read. I came away with Charles P. Mitchell's The Complete H. P. Lovecraft Filmography (Greenwood Press, 2001). It turns out to be a rather abysmal affair. Anyone who would write of John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness, "One of John Carpenter's finest efforts, In the Mouth of Madness is a brilliant horror fugue, a scintillating, fresh, and intricate tribute to Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos. It is also one of the most intellectually challenging horror films of the past thirty years." — well, anyone who would write that, I know at once that this person's exploration of Lovecraft and cinema will be less than competant. Fortunately, it's a quick read. Mitchell lavishes attention on such turkeys as The Farm (aka The Curse, 1987), while rushing past most of the truly good films inspired (at least in part) by Lovecraft's work. Film's like Alien, Carpenter's The Thing, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Ravenous, etc . & etc. recieve little or no attention. Dren, I say. It makes me wish I had the time to write such a book myself. Anyway, because I'd seen the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers Saturday evening, last night we watched the 1978 remake (which really is very effective and far superior to the original) and then Stuart Orme's adaptation of Heinlein's The Puppet Masters (1994), which I remembered as being suprisingly decent. I still think it is. We had to settle for VHS, as no one seem to have the DVD. Great creature effects.
Cassini's latest flyby of Saturn's frozen moon, Enceladus, was apparently a success. Data and raw images are still being processed. I suspect Enceladus may prove to be one of the most interesting objects in our solar system. It resembles Europa in many respects.
Enceladus — a world of geologically active water ice.
Anyway, this is my Day Off. I am not to write today. Except for this entry. See you tomorrow.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
The story is finished. It hasn't got a title, and I'm not going to use the not-title anymore when referring to it. Hopefully, I'll find a new title for it today. I did 1,848 words yesterday (with a frelling hangover, I might add), not counting THE END. That would make it 1,850. No one ever gets to count THE END. It's a given. I'm pleased with how it's turned out, this story, and with the fact that I expected to need ten days to write it and managed to pull it off in only eight. The cost is merely exhaustion, and that fades. It's close to just right, but not quite. I think it needs a little tweaking. We'll do that today — read through it start to finish, make revisions, and then I'll send it away to its fate.
Last night, I watched the original 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It'd been a while. I much prefer the 1978 Philip Kaufman remake, but there's no denying that that the original is one of the more effective sf films of the Cold War Big-Bug Boom. I'd never realized how annoying Kevin McCarthy's voice-over is, and I didn't know that director Don Siegel had the prologue and hopeful epilogue forced on him by the studio. The differences in tone between the 1956 and 1978 versions are somewhat diminished when one watches them with this in mind.
Afterwards, I finished Destroy All Humans, a game which was excellent, by the by, all the way to the final cut scene. It was also the perfect way to follow Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I'm impressed by the wit and allusion of this game. I do fear that, unfortunately, a good deal of the humour will be missed by younger players, all the '50s politica and sf film in-jokes. I think what really amazes me is how Destroy All Humans has yet to draw the wrath of fundamentalists and conservatives, or the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, for that matter. It's a strange thing, in this day and age, to find oneself playing a game this subversive, in which Cold War hysteria and the sexual and moral hypocrisy of the "Golden Age" mourned by the neoconservatives is so completely lampooned. The Commie jokes, the jokes about idiotic military leaders and crooked politicians, the jokes about housewives and Valium, etc. It's nice to see a video game pull off satire and social commentary at the same time, when so few off them pull off anything at all. I suspect a lot of people can enjoy Destroy All Humans, even though they're at odds with its politics, simply because it involves an alien invasion and is set in the 1950s. They don't see that one of the things the game makes clear is how little things have changed. We've swapped Communists for terrorists, Valium for Prozac, Ike for W, but it's all pretty much the same silly, soul-sucking dren. And never mind that the game rewards you for raining fire and sonic destruction upon the Heartland, a California suburb, and the capital of the United States. I'm allowed to pretend to nuke the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the "Octagon," but people might go to jail for burning a flag? I suppose I should be grateful that it's still safe to burn simulated flags. At any rate, I count this as one of the best games of the last couple of years, and now I'm going to lay off video games and get back to reading for a while.
That's about it. By midnight last night I was exhausted. I have no recollection of my dreams, and that's most likely a very good thing.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
I think this morning I may have too much to try to contain in an entry. We can begin, of course, with the usual "Yesterday, I wrote..." blah blah blah thing, but matters are likely to get just an eentsy bit peculiar before the end. So...yeah...yesterday, I wrote 1,181 words on the story whose name is not "Zero Summer" (though no appropriate replacement name has yet been found). I should be able to finish the story today. That gives me all Sunday to review and revise and e-mail it off to the editor. Like I said, I like this story. It has decent enough sort of paranoia and foreboding right from the start, then gets increasingly disjointed and surreal towards the end. Some blotching fekkik on Amazon.com will come along, eventually, inevitably and pronounce it "incoherent" and "too dark" and "artsy," and they can kiss my butt. It's my first attempt at writing a story about androids without using human characters. I haven't succeeded entirely, in that a human character crept into the story and gets a couple of scenes, but it's a nice first attempt. I think.
What did I think of Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? (Warning — there may be spoilers ahead, if you're one of the four people who've never seen the 1971 Gene Wilder version or read either of Roald Dahl's novels — proceed at your own risk!) What did I think? I think this is one of those films where I try to tell someone how much I liked it and only wind up embarrassing myself with expletives. It was wonderful, campy brilliance. It was gorgeous and hilarious and delightfully weird. This is not your daddy's Willy Wonka (that does sound dirty, doesn't it?). It's closer to the novels, yet manages to pay homage to the '71 adaptation. I even liked the oompa-loompas, which I hated in the original film. Johnny Depp isn't the same sort of Wonka that Gene Wilder was, but plays off some other facet of the character. The squirrels freaked me out. Seriously. In the end (which this is not), I think the film uncovers the genius of the novels, by revealing their continued relevance. Outside the walls of Wonka's factory, Charlie Bucket is the lone voice of authenticity among children, in a world (like ours) where consumerism and cynicism have often muddled and sometimes simply destroyed childhood. But, see, that makes it sound dull and preachy, and it's never that. If I have a gripe, and I don't, really, it's that the tunnel scene which was so very creepy in the Wilder version, isn't really creepy at all the remake. It's something else, instead. As for the Micheal Jackson thing, yes, it's hard to miss, but so far I'm undecided on whether or not it's an accidental parallel, Burton striking some weird gold while mining the collective cultural consciousness. Wilder played Wonka as an aging eccentric, while Depp plays him as neurotic man-child, and I think one may draw both takes from the novels. In the end (hold on, it's coming), this film doesn't so much supplant the first film version, as augment it. They each have their place, at least for me. Your mileage may vary. Oh, charmingly sadistic. I knew there was an explitive I was missing. In the end (yes, this is it, really), you should see the movie, because I doubt anything else this cool's going to show up in theatres until the releases of MirrorMask and The Corspe Bride (we got trailers for both)...oh, and Terry Gilliam's new film.
Anyway, the film let out at about 6:30 p.m., and we still had all of Kid Night stretching out before us. So we rented a couple of DVDs, since writing like I've been writing often leaves me with the need to gorge on film (and candy, and alcohol and...other things). We watched Scott Kosar's El Maquinista (The Machinist), which features an appallingly thin Christian Bale as a guilt-ridden machine-shop worker plunging headlong into a particularly horrific sort of insanity. It's not really the sort of thing you should watch right after Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but it was exquisite, nonetheless — a little Kafka, a little Hitchcock, and various other deeply unsettling things. We followed it with Greg Pak's Robot Stories (2003), actually an anthology of four short sf films revolving around robotics. Well, one of them wasn't really sf, but the film was quite good, especially the last bit, "Clay," which dealt with a dying sculptor's unwillingness to accept supposed immortality in a future where simply dying in a crime.
And then things got a little odd. Spooky and I opened a bottle of absinthe that a friend had sent us. A bottle of homemade absinthe. Homemade absinthe is ever an unpredictable thing. When we started drinking it, about two a.m., we were listening to Radiohead and talking about Destroy All Humans (and video games, in general). When I awoke, about 9:30 a.m....well...Henryk Górecki was blaring from the stereo, and my head felt like someone had been kicking it about, and Spooky was wearing a blue bunny suit and a very large dildo. Lots of stuff must have happened in-between, but it's probably best that neither of us can quite recall what it was. The bottle is empty.
Now I have to write. Somehow, that seems unreasonably anti-climactic, doesn't it?
Friday, July 15, 2005
Yesterday I did 1,452 words on "Zero Summer." The story presently has a total word count of 6,914 words, and since I'm guessing the total will come out somewhere around ten thousand words, I only have about three thousand words remaining, perhaps two or three days work. That means I can have Monday off, hopefully, as I've not had a genuine "off" day in about ten days. I'll take one and then get back to work on Daughter of Hounds, the start of Chapter Seven. I'm liking this story, though I have begun to doubt that "Zero Summer" is the right title. At the moment, the anthology in which it will appear, The Cthulian Singularity, is only scheduled to appear as a limited edition hardback from Darkside Press, but the editor, John Pelan, is working to sell a mass-market edition, and he has a good track record with getting big publishers interested in Lovecraftian anthologies, so this story, and the anthology, should see a larger audience eventually.
I got up too early, after sleeping poorly, but I want to finish up with work in time that Spooky and I can make a matinee of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I probably wouldn't be quite so bleary right now had I not spent three or four hours yesterday evening vaporizing the 1950s in Destroy All Humans. I think I'm becoming convinced of the inherent danger of all video games. They have been sent here by some distant, nefarious star-faring civilization to distract human beings and other assorted sentient creatures, endlessly, from things that actually matter.
I came across this sentence while reading Tolkien night before last and fell in love with it: But already the oldest living things had arisen: in the seas the great weeds, and on earth the shadow of great trees; and in the valleys of the night-clad hills there were dark creatures old and strong.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Yesterday, I did 1,811 words on "Zero Summer," so it seems I'm back on track. This story is coming out with what seems to me a curiously flat, yet very tense voice. It's the effect I was aiming for, more or less, but it's still strange not to be writing in the old baroque. There was great relief yesterday when the words began to come.
Not much else to be said for yesterday. It didn't rain here, which seemed a minor miracle. Spooky finished Destroy All Humans. I read another paper in the new Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, "The vertebrate fauna of the Upper Permian of Niger—III, morphology and ontogeny of the hindlimb of Moradisaurus grandis (Reptilia, Captorhinidae)." Captorhinids were neat beasts. A shame the P/T extinctions wiped them out. Later, I read William Gibson's "The Gernsback Continuum" aloud to Spooky, and it made me want to see William Cameron Menzies' beautiful, sweeping 1939 adaptation of Wells' The Shape of Things to Come. I fell asleep to This Mortal Coil's Filigree and Shadow, which has long been one of my "sleep" albums. That was yesterday.
We have less than five and a half hours remaining until today's Cassini flyby of Enceladus, surely one of the draddest of Saturn's many drad moons, a moon with a self-replenishing atmosphere.
I do hope that the people who missed "Riding the White Bull" in Argosy #1 last year will pick up The Year's Best Science Fiction, Twenty-Second Annual Collection, which reprints the story, along with fiction by Michael F. Flynn, Vernor Vinge, James L. Cambias, Brendan Dubois, Kage Baker, Christopher Rowe, and lots and lots of other authors. You can find it at most chain bookstores or order from Amazon.
Okay. That's it for this morning. It's time to make the frelling doughnuts.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
The launch of the shuttle Discovery has been postponed while NASA tries to get its act together. Meanwhile, at least we do still have the Cassini flyby of Enceladus tomorrow.
I lost most of yesterday. I'm not sure if "Zero Summer" hit a snag, or if I did. Most likely the latter. I might have written a hundred words, the same paragraph over and over again. Something about the plot, something important, clicked, but instead of opening things for me, it seemed to shut everything down. My head was full of noise, and I could only sit and gnaw and worry at the story, at this revelation. Today has to go better, because we're on a clock here. It doesn't help that the story's set in 2125, and I have become increasingly doubtful of my abilities as a futurist. But at least we did finish proofreading To Charles Fort, With Love ("Andromeda Among the Stones" and the afterword by Ramsey, pp. 235-270). At least that's done.
When there was no more hope for work, I had Spooky drive me over to Borders, and I splurged on the Eos trade paperback of William Gibson's Burning Chrome, because I didn't own a copy and often find myself wanting to read one of those stories. I also noticed that The Year's Best Science Fiction, Twenty-Second Annual Collection (edited by Gardner Dozois) was on the shelves. I am so very proud that "Riding the White Bull" was selected for this year's anthology. That one thing makes up for a lot of the crap that's happened in the last twelve months or so.
We came home, and I read Gibson's "Hinterlands" aloud to Spooky. It remains one of my favorite sf stories. I also read "Hungarosaurus tormai, a new ankylosaur (Dinosauria) from the Upper Cretaceous of Hungary," because the new Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology came day before yesterday. I didn't read it aloud, though, as Spooky has no interest in the morphology of primitive European ankylosaurs. Later, we watched Thomas Vinterberg's It's All About Love on Sundance. It was good, though possessing of ambitions a little more taxing than its budget could accomodate — if you tell me it's 2021, don't show me New York streets filled with cars from 2002 (the year the film was produced).
The launch of the shuttle Discovery is still set at 3:51 EST this afternoon. It seems impossible that two and half years have passed since the loss of Columbia, but there you go. I'll be watching the lift-off on NASA TV, though I'd hoped to actually be there in Florida for this one. I have my fingers crossed that mistakes have been learned from.
I've gotten news that the one person in London I'd yet to account for is fine. And I see that four suspects are being held in the bombing, and that they are all British citizens. And that the death toll has risen to 52. And that a suicide bomber in Baghdad killed himself today and took 27 people with him — mostly children. Okay, Caitlín. That's enough Stop with the news. It's nothing you don't already suspect...
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Yesterday, I did 1,144 words on "Zero Summer." The story seems to be finding itself, or finding me. Whichever. It's starting to feel like a story. After writing several sf stories last year, I backed off for fear that I was merely repeating "genre" clichés. And in this story, I can clearly see where the roots lie (Lovecraft aside), but I'm writing it, anyway. I like roots. They keep things from falling over. We also continued to proof To Charles Fort, With Love ("Nor the Demons Down Under the Sea," pp. 219-232). And right now, I am so, so not awake.
Last night, we watched George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind on IFC, which was weird and wonderful. Now, I'm having nasty Gong Show flashbacks. I also read "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor" from Tolkien's The Silmarillion.
Today, I have to sign signature sheets for a Cemetery Dance anthology called Mondo Zombie. Oh, if I had the time to recount the bizarre history of this book and my part in it. I wrote about it, briefly, in From Weird and Distant Shores. In the winter of 1993, I was contacted by John Skipp to write a zombie story based on the Romero films. At the time, I'd published not a thing, but several authors of note had read my work, and someone suggested Skipp contact me. I think I wrote the story in February or March '94 (I don't feel like looking up the specifics) and handed it into Skipp. Originally, the anthology was to have been Book of the Dead 4, to have been released by Bantam. And now, twelve long years after I was first involved in the project, after innumerable twists and unmentionable drama and no end of publishers backing out, etc. & etc., Cemetery Dance is releasing the book as Mondo Zombie, and today I have to sign the frelling signature sheets for a story I wrote in early 1994. The story is "Two Worlds, and In Between," of course. It was published in Steve Jones' Keep Out the Night way back in 1997, after I gave up on Skipp's BotD4 ever seeing print. Then it was reprinted in From Weird and Distant Shores in 2002. There was even a Canadian filmmaker, someone indie, who wanted to make a film based on the story, but wouldn't pony up any money for the option. This story and I, we have a history sort of thing. Today, I sign the signature sheets. Frelling bizarre.
I had a Nebari dream last night (or this morning), the first in a long time. I think it was triggered, in part, by the story I'm working on, and in part by other things. I was Nar'eth, stuck on a very small ship, deep in space. There was no gravity. Life support was failing. Those red emergency lights you always see in submarine movies had come on, and they flashed. I wasn't alone on the ship, and there was panic and shouting and cursing. I kept thinking about shooting myself, and somehow wound up in a crawlspace, trying to repair a radio transmitter. It was not a pleasant dream, but I suppose that much is obvious.
And speaking of Farscape — which I just realized I hardly ever do these days — a reader has asked (in reference to the meme I did last night): Please tell me that if money were no object, resurrecting Farscape...is number 6 on the list. To which I reply, yes, of course. It would have been higher, natch, but I was hungry when I did that meme, and my brain was even more muddled than usual. Also asked, what do I think of Ben Browder being introduced in a leading role on Stargate SG-1, and Claudia Black being added to the cast, as well? What I think is, well...I know how uncertain many of the cast's futures have been post-Farscape, and I begrudge no one a good, steady job. But I still won't be watching Stargate. Not even Gigi Edgely could get me to watch Stargate (unless maybe if she...oh, never mind). I do think that the Sci-Fi Channel is being rather shameless and odd in their attempt to lure Farscape fans to the series by linking it to a canceled SFC series that Bonnie Hammer has deemed unworthy, what with the new TV spots and all, but that's what TV execs do. Shame only gets in the way. By the way, has anyone seen the ratings for Stargate recently?
Monday, July 11, 2005
Here's a meme I snurched off someone else's LJ, just because...
Five Things I Don't Regret Doing:
1. Getting smashed with Jack Nicholson that night in North Hollywood.
2. Writing the screenplay for Silk IV: Spyder's Revenge.
3. Allowing Nar'eth to appear on David Letterman (twice).
4. Eating my weight in Swedish fish last Halloween.
5. Passing up a chance to write for The New Yorker in order to spend a year in Mongolia.
Okay, okay. I'll try to be more serious with the rest of these things, but, you know what the man said — print the myth.
Five of My Quirks:
1. I eat Campbell's Soup for breakfast.
2. I write in my underwear.
3. I have the ticket stubs for every movie I've gone to since sometime in 1994.
4. I often sleep to John Carpenter's The Thing.
5. I often cook in aviator goggles.
Five Things I Plan to Do This Evening:
1. Have dinner.
2. Watch television.
4. E-mail Sissy.
Five Things I Would Do if Money Were No Object:
1. Build the Palaeozoic Museum in Central Park, as envisioned by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins.
2. Keep a team of SFX makeup artists on staff full-time.
3. Buy the entire state of Alabama and evict every living human being.
4. Spend the next ten years traveling the world.
5. Make my own film adaptation of Low Red Moon.
Er...yesterday. I'm not sure. My head is full of rain. Dennis is spilling the trailing end of his fury upon us this morning, after battering us all night. Spooky and I went for for a walk and saw the sun peep through for a moment. We saw no trees down, buts lots of limbs and leaves. The gutters are still full of water, and I love that sound. I can pretend I'm listening to an actual stream, instead of rainwater rushing along between cement and asphalt. Everything is wet. The world is wet. I wanted to lie in bed all day and listen.
But here I am, typing. I did 1,207 words on "Zero Summer" yesterday. I should have this story finished by Saturday, at the latest, and possibly as early as Thursday, and then I'll get back to Daughter of Hounds. Also, we proofread To Charles Fort, With Love, "A Redress for Andromeda," pp. 205-217. I've gotten word of some very positive reviews of the collection, all scheduled to appear in August issues of various zines, I think. But the story was the main thing yesterday. Frustrating. I read a scientific paper, "Voyager Base Maps of the Icy Saturnian Satellites," written by a bunch of scientists, prior to Cassini, at the Institute of Space Sensor Technology and Planetary Exploration (German Aerospace Center (Berlin). I'm defeated by images, always. For example, there's no way inadequate language can touch this photograph (click image for a slightly larger version):
This is the moon of Mimas (lower left) seen against the backdrop of Saturn's northern latitudes. How does one match that with mere words? How does one do anything more than take apart and reduce? Someday, I will write a book entirely of images.
I think we're going to try to get the eBay auctions going again soon. More later...
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Addendum: Here's a link to an article on Space.com that I meant to post earlier: Mars Hoax Circulates the Internet. Didn't we just go through this last year?
So, last night I think I played about a billion hours of Destroy All Humans, the most wickedly addictive and satisfying video game since maybe forever. It has grabbed my inner sociopath by the nipples and won't let go. There. I said it. Nipples. I sat in front of the television for a billion hours, gleefully leveling 1950s America — bowling alleys, cheesy motels, a drive-in threatre, the whole enchilada (that is an Earth saying, right?). Finally, my eyes were beginning to liquify, and Spooky made me go to bed. I asked her to read me McElligot's Pool, but then I passed out before she even got started. Oh, I know I might have been using all that time last night to better my mind or clean the kitchen sink or something, something more constructive than vaporize the U. S. Army and all those MiBs, but what the frell. I wrote all day. I began "Zero Summer." At least, I hope I began "Zero Summer." I wrote 1,215 words. I did more reasearch on Mimas (My-mass or Mee-mus are apparently both accepatble pronunciations). And then we proofed more of To Charles Fort, With Love — "The Dead and the Moonstruck," pp. 187-201.
I'm actually teetering at the edge of a very black mood. The disruptive forces that have recently had so much fun with my life, they tell me to go ahead and fall in. It's not so far to the bottom. And you know you like it down there. And I tell them to go suck a Durian fruit, and we go round and round like that all day.
Anyway, I think those are the highpoints for today (or yesterday, to be precise). Watch your step. Mind the gap.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
No, I'm not awake. But that's never stopped me before. Yesterday, I spent an hour and a half transcribing all the corrections for "Houses Under the Sea" and "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles," then e-mailed them to Robert Morrish. So, the stories should be in decent shape when they appear in Thrillers II (as for as I can tell, Cemetery Dance is not yet taking preorders on this book). These are two of the very best short stories/novellas I've written to date, and I do hope that people will seek out the anthology. Afterwards, I tried to start work on the story for John Pelan's The Cthulian Singularity, only to realize that I had no idea what I wanted to write. See, I get in this frelling, idiotic mindset that fools me into believing that good fiction can be produced on an assembly line, that it can be pooped out, workman-like, on demand, quickly, without mess or bother or lengthy contemplation. It comes from having worked for DC Comics for so long, I think, and from a number of other places, including my waning love affair with the Puritan work ethic. It was a short love affair. I really wasn't infected until about 1994. Anyway, I spent most of the afternoon researching one of Saturn's moons, Mimas, which I believe will be the focus of the new story, which I'm call "Zero Summer" (from T. S. Eliot's "Little Gidding"). But I do hope to write the opening scene today. Late yesterday, Spooky and I got back to proofreading To Charles Fort, With Love; we made it through "Apokatastasis" and "La Peau Verte," pp. 143-184. It was a long day.
For Kid Night, we rented John Polson's Hide and Seek and John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness. Polson's film was a disappointment, though I really can't say I had any expectations (well, then you shouldn't say you were disappointed, Kiernan). Sort of a Made-for-TVish, Shiningesque thing that managed little sense and came with five alternate and almost equally unsatisfying endings (four alternates, five endings counting the original theatrical one). I still admire Dakota Fanning, and she's still my pick for Dancy, but I do hope she gets better roles in the future; she was just about the only thing that halfway worked in this film. As for In the Mouth of Madness, a film whose charm has always eluded me, we rented it because neither of us had seen it in a while. It seemed longer and more fleshed out than I remembered, though I can no find evidence that the DVD included material omitted from the theatrical or VHS releases. Regardless, I was still soundly unimpressed. It's a film that plays more like half-assed camp, more a parody of Lovecraft than a Lovecraftian film. It's more often funny than creepy, never actually frightening, and lacks even an ounce of dread. The makeup and creature effects are shoddy and unconvincing, the story's muddled and absurd, and Sam Neil spends the whole film looking sleepy and vaguely bemused to be stuck in such a mess. So, I still don't see why anyone admires this film.
Right now, I wish someone would ask me to do a convention in Greece. Or maybe southern France. Somewhere warm and dry and Mediterranean and at least seemingly far away from American politics. And Spooky gets to come, too. I'd take them up on it, deadlines or no deadlines.
Friday, July 08, 2005
I suppose I could until I'm awake to write these things, but then I'd be depriving the world of the spectacle of my bleary ramblings. Not awake. Not awake at all, though I have had breakfast and talked about catbirds and grackles and the weather (hot today, maybe storms). At least a third of me is still in a dream somewhere. But I can type. Yesterday, we did not catch up with the proofreading on To Charles Fort, With Love, but we did come close. We read "La Mer des Rêves," "The Road of Pins," and "Onion." Pages 83-141. And I dealt with a mountainous molehill's worth of e-mail. But I didn't get the short story started. That needs to happen today. And it has to be finished in about ten days, at the most, so I can get back to Daughter of Hounds.
I've slipped into proofreading mode. When in proofreading mode, I become unreasonably annoyed by persistent and especially dumb grammatical and spelling errors. For instance, "mic" when people mean "mike," or the belief that "unique" comes in degrees ("more unique," "less unique," etc.), beginning sentences with "anymore," the way journalists insist upon capitalizing "internet" and "web," "they're" used for "their" or "there" and vice versa, and so on. I hate being in proofreading mode, because, generally speaking, I couldn't care less what people do with their semicolons (one word) and apostrophes. Life if far too short and annoying to dwell on comma placement, especially if you're a writer.
Chris Ewen, Future Bible Heroes guru, sent me an instrumental version, sans the coming cellos, of my song, "Twelves Nights After," which will be appearing on his side-project CD, The Hidden Variable, along with songs written by folks like Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite, and so forth. It's an entirely different score than the song's original music (it was one of the Death's Little Sister songs), and a somewhat different take. I love it. As soon as I can, I'll announce the vocalist. I've been told it's going to be someone very, very drad.
Speaking of drad things, my thanks to Gordon Duke (I think I know who he is on LJ, but I'm not sure) for a wonderful, belated birthday gift — Firefly on DVD. I very much appreciate these late presents trickling in.
I've turned to the BBC and The Guardian Unlimited for non-Americanized, non-Bushized coverage of yesterday's bombings in London. I can no longer endure the idiots on CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews. I managed to speak with a few friends and colleagues in London last night, and everyone's safe and accounted for. I'm still more or less speechless on the subject. It's hard to see past the things I fear. I fear the attacks may add fuel to the war against Iraq, fuel that Bush has been desperately looking for as his support in America begins to slip. I fear additional discrimination against non-extremist Islamic men and women. I fear the death toll may rise above 50. I fear additional attacks, of course. I feel as if the world is soundly at war now, and those of us who do not live our lives as religious fundamentalists are caught in the crossfire, because it's not only a war fought over money, but a war fought over fundamentalism, both Christian and Islamic. I'll close with a quote from Tagplazen, because he said it pretty well already (and with the appropriate amount of profanity):
...I don't give one flying fuck which crazy ass little book you're pulling your beliefs out of, the minute you think that your printed piece of shit gives you the right to tell other people how to live their lives, well, you can fuck right the fuck off. I have no wish to live in a theocracy, and don't try pretending that our choices are only between the rabid little ass monkeys sticking religious statues in courtrooms or the stupid fucks that lop hands off for stealing fruit out of the market. Both of them are the same fucking face of evil for all I can see.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
I didn't learn of the today's bombings in London until about 10:30 a.m. (EST), shortly after making my morning LJ entry. I watched about an hour's worth of CNN — the press conference and some of the recorded footage from the bombing sites — until it was only the talking heads repeating things that other people had said and speculating, and I turned off the television. The "new normal"? Maybe so. I really have no words today for this. I can only hope the death toll and number of injured grows no larger.
We're home again, after the short overnight visit to my mother's big yellow house in Leeds (about 15 min. from Birmingham). We had to come back so soon in order to get Sophie off to the vet this a.m. to have her glucose levels measured. The visit to Leeds was mostly pleasant. We watched lightning striking in the valley. We played with the schnoodle and ate too much. Unfortunately, I got into a pointless theological/philosophical argument sort of thing with my mother yesterday afternoon, the sort we both try to avoid having with one another. Her being a moderately liberal Xtian with a strong distrust of science and me being one part Materialist and one part mystic, stranded, these days, somewhere perplexing between science and Wicca — no good could have come from this conversation, and no good did. Finally, about 6:30 (EST), Spooky and I headed back to Atlanta in the storm. We very nearly frelling drowned, but made it home about 10 p.m. (thanks to my webbed feet).
I am so not awake, even by my usual standards. Er...let's see. Spooky and I worked while we were gone, because the page proofs for "Houses Under the Sea" and "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles" came in from Robert Morrish on Monday, just before we left for Alabama. I printed them out and took them with us, grumbling that I was already behind on the proofreading of the ARC for To Charles Fort, With Love. These two long stories (10-11k each) will soon be appearing in the anthology Thrillers II (Cemetery Dance Publications), as mentioned in the preface of TCF,WL, though I wish (as also mentioned in the same preface) that they could have actually been included in the collection. And, over the weekend, my editor read the first half of Daughter of Hounds and loved it (her words), which was a huge relief. When we got home, there was a package in the mailbox from Jada and Katharine in Arkansas (old, old friends), a Devonian-aged ammonite and nautiloid they bought us at a rock and fossil shop on a recent trip to Lake Tahoe. Neat. And today will spent trying to start a new short story (my first since "Bradbury Weather" last August, unless I count the vignettes) and trying to catch up with the proofing of TCF,WL.
Monday, July 04, 2005
I've spent the last hour or so online, looking at the astounding images from Deep Impact's collision with comet Tempel 1. After a journey of 172 days and 431 million kilometers (268 million miles), the little probe has successfully reached its destination, and many of the questions that mankind has spent millennia asking about the nature of cometary bodies — and perhaps the origins of life — will now be answered. Science has caught a falling star, so to speak. Comet Tempel 1 was discovered in 1867 by Ernst Tempel. The comet has made many passages through the inner solar system, orbiting the Sun every 5.5 years. It has a mass of 370-kg (~820-lbs), and is traveling at 23,000 mph. Here's a shot taken from the flyby spacecraft at or near the moment that the Deep Impact "smart impactor" made contact with the surface of the comet:
For my part, I'm entering into the peculiar depression that usually catches me immediately after I've "completed" something. Yesterday, I wrote 1,256 words and finished Chapter Six of Daughter of Hounds (it has a total length of 11,846 words, shorter than Chapter Five). I'm so tired that I couldn't possibly write anything else today or tomorrow, or probably the day after, but my imagination is still in overdrive. My mind is still grinding away, regardless of the fact that I'm having trouble focusing my eyes on the screen. I went to sleep shortly after midnight, very early for me, and awoke about 7:30 from various nightmares, and was unable to get to sleep again. But Chapter Six is done. At least Chapter Six is done.
About that Amazon.com "review," "Failure of Genre-Switching," I want to make certain that I'm clear on a number of points. I'm not objecting to the fact that reader was unhappy with the novel. Having written Murder of Angels, I've done my part, and I can only ask that it be read. Whether or not people enjoy reading it, that's an issue entirely divorced from my work as an author (except, perhaps, as regards the impact of sales upon my future work and, of course, the emotional impact of negative "reviews" and reviews). You will like the book, or you will not. What I was objecting to was 1) the claim that MoA switches genre relative to Silk, 2) that a well-written work of fantasy requires of the author the sort of decades-long devotion lavished on Middle-Earth by Tolkien, 3) that I'm a "horror" writer, and 4) that Silk (wherein we first glimpse the hemispherical world of MoA) is a "horror" novel. None of these things are true, and I know that because I wrote these books, and that's what I was saying yesterday. I suspect this reader (who has chosen anonymity) was mostly disappointed that MoA wasn't Silk II, which it was emphatically not meant to be. That is, he or she simply wanted more of what I did in Silk and so wasn't particularly interested in what I did in MoA.
We didn't have Thai last night, because after the writing I was too tired to bother getting dressed for a real restaurant, so we had fiery Indian take-away, instead.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Yes. Today is mine and Spooky's 3rd anniversary. Today we are three. It feels more like six, but I mean that in a good way. When I'm done writing (because write I must, even on my anniversary), we may go out for Thai and then, well...you know. This time last year, we were in Rhode Island, and on July 3rd made our second foray into Woonsocket, researching the book which I'm now writing. Click here for photos and details. Meanwhile, I did a jaw-dropping 2,439 words on Chapter Six of Daughter of Hounds yesterday. But eight straight days of writing, and 6,180 words in the last three days alone, have left me very, very tired. Exhausted. Drained. I have to finish Chapter Six today, to stay on schedule. I know that doesn't sound very artful, but this is what happens when we force our art to pay our bills, when we become ArtWhores. There are deadlines. I have tomorrow off, and I'll probably try to sleep all frelling day.
Day before yesterday, I allowed myself to get unreasonably bent out of shape by an Amazon.com "review" of Murder of Angels (click here and and see "Failure of Genre-Switching"). The upshot — I'm a pretty good "horror" writer, but should've stay in my own neighborhood and not tried writing "fantasy," at which I apparently suck. Never mind that since the very beginning, way back in 1995 or whatever, I've maintained, publicly, in interviews, on websites, and usenet, and everywhere else, that I AM NOT A HORROR WRITER! No, really. It's true. I write fantasy. Everything that I've written — every short story, novel, comic, and novella — all of it, fantasy. Hell, in The Dreaming there were even fairies and witches and magic and all that stuff which is lazily considered "genre fantasy" by those who can't be bothered, and I began work on the series in 1996! But, the real point is, I do not write genre. I am not a genre writer, not in the sense that the term in understood in publishing today. I write the stories that come to me. I write in worlds without walls. My sf is horrific. My "horror" is usually fantastic. Sometimes, my "fantasy" is even very scientific. Anyway, I suppose I shouldn't grouse too much about this "review." At least the reader was condescendingly nice about Silk and generally patronizing. I should count my blessings.
Last night, I gave Destroy All Humans a try, and it's really a very decent game. Beautiful graphics, some very funny scripting, and what more admirable goal could any game have? How could I not love a game titled Destroy All Humans, especially one where I get to kill rednecks, blow up drive-in theatres, and characters complain that they're not green, they're grey.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
I did a decent enough 1,336 words on Chapter Six of Daughter of Hounds yesterday. And then, at just past 4:30, the afternoon grew dark, and we had a wonderful, violent thunderstorm that managed to both cool off the date and knock our power out for over an hour. Nice gum-ball sized hail, though, and some of it made it down the chimney in the living room. As the storm wound down, we proofed To Charles Fort, With Love, pages 35-81, which includes "Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)," "So Runs the World Away," and "Standing Water" (plus three afterwords). By the time we were done, the power still hadn't come back on, and I was exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep, anyway.
Kid night got a late start, thanks to all the electrical shinanigans, but we did see Higuchinsky's unevenly effective Uzumaki (which, somehow, I'd yet to see), There are some superbly weird moments, such as the vortex of ash from the crematorium descending into Dragonfly Pond, but I think it falls flat as a whole. Oh, and I see that Roger Ebert isn't happy with Speilberg's War of the Worlds, either. Well, this is the man who liked Congo, after all.
There's a toothsome new chapter of Boschen and Nesuko (Ch. 23). That's been the best thing about my morning thus far.
I've been trying hard to stay clear of things political in the blog, just because, but I snurched this link yesterday: "What Iraq needs is a Walter Cronkite", from a USAToday Founder, Al Neuharth. I liked this bit particularly:
The crucial difference between Vietnam and Iraq is that there is no Cronkite to call Bush's bluff. Without a strong, trusted, non-political voice, too many of us remain Bush-blinded. Bush tried keeping the wool over our eyes again Tuesday on national TV by repeatedly tying Iraq to 9/11. That charge is as phony as his discredited prewar claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
And while I'm at it, one I found on my own: Yes, globe is warming, even if Bush denies it. After oil, I think denial may have become America's chief fetish...
Friday, July 01, 2005
I'm half awake, at best. Maybe one-third awake. A long night of dreams. But the good news is that I did a whopping 2,405 words on Chapter Six of Daughter of Hounds yesterday. If I can do as well today, I can finish the chapter on July 3rd, as planned. I think I shall spend the entirety of the Fourth asleep. I have to be in Birmingham on July 5th-6th. Anyway, yes, the chapter is moving along. The book is moving along. I'm encountering moments I've known were coming for more than a year and moments I had no idea were coming until the instant I wrote them down. The folly of outlining as anything more than suggestion is made clear, once again, by the directions this book takes. Without me, it seems sometimes, though I understand this to be illusion. There are times when I resist, and I think, That's not what's supposed to happen here, and then I remind myself that the collective unconscious is just that, unconscious, and all my purposeful thoughts on the book have been conscious, and I allow the story to do what feels right, not what I planned and wrote down and told my agent and editor.
I would absolutely suck at writing novelizations, even if it were a novelization of my own work.
It's going to be another very hot, hazy, polluted day out there. I don't much mind, because I don't have to go out again until after sundown, but I feel for the birds. Beats the frell out of winter.
After all the writing yesterday, I was almost too tired to even chew, which made dinner interesting, and ended up lying on the chaise, watching Manor House on PBS (Mr. Edgar is my new hero) and then a Margaret Cho thing on Sundance. Too much television after staring at the computer screen all day, but at least it was good television. And then I crawled off the bed.
I've seen some criticism of Speilberg's War of the Worlds condemning it as being right-wing and pro-military, and I'm like, what? Did we see the same movie? Throughout the film, the American military is shown to be ineffectual. They can't stop the aliens. They can't even manage to hold back a crowd. Sure, one tripod is felled with grenades scavenged from a burning military vehicle after the Army has failed, and at the end, another is downed with a shoulder-to-air missile gadget, but only after a civilian points out that its shields have gone down, and its vulnerable. That one was gonna die anyway. In the end, Nature defeats the aliens (as in Wells' novel), not the US military. This is explicitly clear. But it is a war film, as should be made abundantly obvious by the title, so a certain degree of military presence is to be expected, yes? I mean, if the scenario presented in the film were to occur, we'd most likely see some military response, however misguided. Now I'm trying to imagine W and the aliens. Hmmmm...