Audiobook Recommendation (if you can get it)

The “Wizard of Earthsea” audiobook available through Libby (the public library audiobook app) is different than the commercially available version, and cannot be found for purchase anywhere. This is a TRAGEDY. It’s read with sputtering, wide-eyed excitement and obvious love by Harlan Ellison, and is a DELIGHT.

Habituals Update

It’s been relatively quiet around Casa Testerman for the past week or so. There was a trip to Philadelphia, thick with unexciting wardrobe malfunctions, but otherwise I’m plugging along with writing, reading, and trying to get these damn habits locked in. Lemme sum up:

It’s been a very good month for me as far as new reading experiences go; first there was Terry Pratchett’s Nation, then Neil Gaiman’s wonderful Graveyard Book, and I had the pleasure of catching up with all the cool kids and read The Lies of Locke Lamora on the Philly trip. Great book. Just enough ‘new’ in the fantasy world, with great characterization and plotting. Capers are capered, swashes are buckled, and a great many skulls are duggeried. I came fairly close to sleeping on the couch a couple times, thanks to interrupting Kate’s own reading with chortling, out-of-context excerpts. Recommended (as are the others I mentioned – highly).

The “Adrift” story continues, in which Finnras seems to be engaging in some kind of Cunning Plan. We’ll see if he’s as good at such things as Locke Lamora. Odds are not good.

Habit the First – Tracking what I Eat
This went very well in the first week – I even dropped a few pounds. (Actually, according to the website on which I track such things, I dropped too much in one week, and now they want to me to eat more this week — as in… a lot more… “I can’t afford a whole cow!” more — it’s confusing.

I have regained control of my eating patterns by keep meticulous records.
I have regained control of my eating patterns by keeping meticulous records.

Habit the Second — Getting up an Hour Earlier

This one isn’t going as well. Yes, I’m getting up earlier, but I never have to use an alarm clock normally, and I for damn sure have to right now. Also, I’m dragging through large portions of the day, short on energy and long on nap-tropism.

I think part of the problem is that I haven’t set up any kind of reward for when I succeed at this each day (the other part of the problem is that I have no personal desire or investment in this – it’s wholly external) — so I need some help with that: what kind of reward should I be giving myself for getting up at the crack of dawn every day?

Suggestions need to be something concrete: that early in the morning I don’t think highly enough of my fellow humans for “a sense of moral superiority” to mean anything. Gimme some ideas in the comments.

A high point in a lifetime of reading

I stayed up until three am this morning to finish a book. I had begun to think that I was too old for that sort of thing to ever happen again.  I’m very happy to be wrong.

I stayed up for all the best reasons one stays up to finish a book: because I wanted to know what happened, because I was continually interested in what was happening right at that moment; because I was having too good a time to let it stop.  

It restores your faith in Wonderful Things.

The book is called Nation, by Terry Pratchett.

You should be reading this.
You should be reading this.

This isn’t a Discworld novel. It’s not a comedy; it’s not a pun-filled romp.  This is simply a fine, fine author writing what I personally believe to be his best book. 

This is a book you stand alongside The Princess Bride, waiting impatiently for the day you can share it with your children.  If you know me, you know what kind of praise that comparison carries.

Find it. Read it.


Missing_barnstar.jpgBeen a long while since I’ve posted (on this blog, anyway — I’ve been busy elsewhere on the internets, but not here), lets see about updating a bit.
I’ve revised the code on the site a bit to be a bit more small-browser-window friendly and just generally more readable. I’ve also resurrected as a kind of collective repository of everything I’m posting on all my sites, and updated a bit on Facebook and Flickr.
I got my 50k words down for NaNoWriMo, but Humorless itself isn’t really done, so I expect I’ll be going back to that in the new year… once I’m done with the latest round of revisions on Hidden Things, which is my next big to do.
Just got back from the 1800 mile round-trip to South Dakota to visit family. Very good to see everyone and the little girl made out like some kind of mad toy bandit, so it was all win for her. Plus I got to take my girls to Mount Rushmore, finally. I’ve been there many many times, but neither of them had, so that was fun. Slight damper on the joys of the season: ear and throat “thing” that I’ll be dropping by the doc’s this afternoon to pick up medicine for. Ugh… Also, I seem to be carrying five extra pounds of stuffing and pumpkin pie around. Bleh. Time to seriously shop for a replacement for my poor destroyed elliptical.
Recent Reads
Hearts in Atlantis (which I just realized is a terrible terrible pun on the part of the author), one or two of the Witches/Discworld books, and two of the Keys to the Kingdom books by Garth Nix, thanks to the local library’s audiobooks section and a very, very long road trip.

Bruce Sterling on Steampunk

2190665242_608efe473d_o.jpgFull essay is here.

Steampunk’s key lessons are not about the past. They are about the instability and obsolescence of our own times. A host of objects and services that we see each day all around us are not sustainable. They will surely vanish. Once they’re gone, they’ll seem every bit as weird and archaic as top hats, crinolines, magic lanterns, clockwork automatons, absinthe, walking-sticks and paper-scrolled player pianos.
We are a technological society. When we trifle, in our sly, Gothic, grave-robbing fashion, with archaic and eclipsed technologies, we are secretly preparing ourselves for the death of our own tech. Steampunk is popular now because people are unconsciously realizing that the way that we live has already died. We are sleepwalking. We are ruled by rapacious, dogmatic, heavily-armed fossil-moguls who rob us and force us to live like corpses. Steampunk is a pretty way of coping with this truth.

It’s a really interesting insight into the movement and, thinking about it, I probably agree… though at the same time I still just plain like stuff like zeppelins because they’re cool.
But when I think about the story I’m writing in Humorless, and the steampunk/clockpunk tech that shows up, a lot of it (with the exception of the story’s namesake) has corollaries in today’s technology, and each example has something wrong with it — flaws that also have a modern corollary.
Is that what I’m writing about? No. 1 However, I think it’s fascinating that, in introducing steampunk elements into the story, my mind naturally bestowed these relics of a technological path-not-taken with the same points of failure as the technology we have today.
Doing that sort of thing is, according to this essay, a kind of definitive part of the steampunk ‘thing’, and one assumes that that commentary is a conscious effort on the part of the participants. The fact that the same sort of deconstruction happened in my own story without my being aware of this alleged underpinning of the genre implies something even more important: that this knowledge of the oncoming failure of our current technological culture and the way we can/could reflect it in the Brass Mirror of pseudo-Victorian tech-that-never-was is something deeply ingrained in the subconscious.

1 – Truth be told, I probably won’t know exactly or even generally what I’m writing about until I’m done, or probably well after that — I know that brothers and sisters seem to be figuring fairly prominently, and that’s about it.