[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
[ << Previous 20 ]
[ << Previous 20 ]
|Friday, July 1st, 2011|
Yes, I know I'm not around here much these days, but thought I should post my (awesome) schedule for this year's Readercon
.Friday July 15
12:00 PM F Plausible Miracles and Eucatastrophe. Chesya Burke, John Crowley, John Kessel (leader), James Morrow, Graham Sleight. Mark Twain instructed other writers that "the personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable." This rule can be generalized: the more favorable to the characters an unexpected plot turn is, the better it needs to be set up (see the end of James Morrow's Only Begotten Daughter). But what about eucatastrophe, where the power of a happy ending comes from its unexpectedness? Is the eucatastrophe in fact a form of plausible miracle where the plausibility derives not from things the author has put in the text, but from beliefs the reader already had, perhaps without knowing it? Or is there another explanation?
1:00 PM F Well, We Know Where We're Going: The Pseudo-Religiosity of Teleological SF. John Crowley, Barry N. Malzberg, James Morrow, Kathryn Morrow, Graham Sleight (leader). The late Charles N. Brown was a great advocate of the idea that science fiction was teleological: even if it didn't predict the future, it told us the kind of direction our species was heading. Books like Stapledon's Last and First Men, Clarke's Childhood's End, and Greg Bear's Blood Music are about that kind of ultimate destiny. But are they also offering a kind of pseudo-religious consolation, a final goal without a God watching over it? When readers seek out science fiction that posits or imagines some kind of final destiny for humanity, are they driven by the same yearning for certainty (even uncomfortable or unhappy certainty) that leads many people to religion?
2:00 PM ME The Readercon New Nonfiction Book Club: Evaporating Genres. John Clute, F. Brett Cox (leader), David G. Hartwell, Graham Sleight, Peter Straub. Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic Literature, Gary K. Wolfe's collection of eleven linked essays, was described by reviewer Jonathan McCalmont as "a quietly revolutionary piece of methodological advocacy that urges its readers to open their minds and their hearts to the chaos at the heart of genre." Wolfe argues that science fiction, fantasy, and horror are by their nature inherently unstable, evolving, merging with each other and with a wide variety of other fictional traditions, until they eventually "evaporate" into new forms, and that such metamorphoses have been especially volatile over the past few decades. But is there really "chaos at the heart of genre"? And is it true, as Wolfe seems to contend, that without this inherent instability genre fiction may be doomed to self-referentiality and eventual ossification?
4:00 PM F SF as Tragedy. John Clute, Samuel R. Delany, Gardner Dozois, Barry N. Malzberg, Graham Sleight (leader). Gardner Dozois's collection Geodesic Dreams has an epigraph from James Tiptree, Jr.: "Man is an animal whose dreams come true and kill him." In Dozois and Tiptree, protagonists fail--and often die--because of something inherent in their biological or social makeup (q.v. "Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death," "The Peacemaker," or "A Kingdom by the Sea"). Where classical ideas of tragedy involve unwise choices, the characters in Tiptree-esque tragic SF ultimately have no choices at all. What other works of speculative fiction do this? How does the science fiction setting accommodate the expansion of the tragic argument? And what makes these bleak stories so appealing?
7:00 PM G Is "The Death of the Author" Dying?. K. Tempest Bradford, Jack M. Haringa, John Kessel, Eugene Mirabelli, Graham Sleight (leader). It's long been accepted wisdom in literary criticism that the meaning intended by an author is not of prime relevance to the job of reading or interpretation; to think otherwise is to commit the "intentional fallacy." But today's authors have bold new technological avenues to tell us what their story is supposed to mean (e.g. Anne Rice's famous "You're reading it wrong" pronouncement). Will texts and critical reading necessarily suffer as authors and readers conduct meta-conversations in blogs and on Facebook? Is an author's blog post telling us how to read their book really different from an introduction or afterword? And what can we learn about the intentional fallacy by observing the authors who say it's not a fallacy at all?Saturday July 16
10:00 AM RI The Year in Novels. Graham Sleight, Liza Groen Trombi (leader), Paul Witcover, Gary K. Wolfe. We will discuss the speculative novels published since last Readercon.
1:00 PM ME Mind the Gap. Graham Sleight. What links the Doctor Who story "Frontios," Schrodinger's cat, Shirley Jackson's "The Intoxicated," and C.P. Snow's idea of the "Two Cultures"? How is fanfiction like damp-proofing? And what does stage magic owe to Keats? Graham Sleight will attempt to answer these questions while putting forward some ideas about where the fantastic has come from and where it's going.
5:00 PM F Geoff Ryman Interviewed. Geoff Ryman, Graham Sleight (moderator). Graham Sleight interviews Guest of Honor Geoff Ryman.
|Thursday, November 5th, 2009|
|Best broken-leg advice ever
And topical! From a doctor I work with, who was saddled with a broken foot a few years ago:
"Sorry to hear about your broken leg. I hope it is on the mend and that while it is your home does not prove too much of a confinement. If you go out on Guy Fawkes night, make sure no one drops a match in the box of fireworks when you are standing next to it."
|Tuesday, October 20th, 2009|
|Further leg update
So my hospital appointment today was supposed to cover the following:
1) Remove the fibreglass "backslab" cast.
2) Remove the dressings on the wounds from surgery, check they're OK.
3) If Yes to 2), remove the 20-30 metal staples holding the wounds together.
I had an additional appointment on 26th Oct, at which the following was scheduled:
4) X-ray of bone to see how healing was going.
5) Consultant follow-up/discussion of X-ray and next few weeks' treatment.
In fact, my consultant was there today, so all of 1)-5) ended up getting done. And, as a consequence, I don't have to go in again on the 26th. The news? Pretty good, I think. The wounds seem to be healing OK; the staples are all out; the consultant seemed extremely pleased with what the X-rays revealed - no need for any kind of remedial anything. The cast is gone, replaced by an "aircast boot
", which I have to wear when walking but can remove when stationary. So, no boot when sleeping, in the bath/shower, or vegging on the couch: that is, I have to say, a huge advance. Next appointment is Dec 1, at which point (fingers crossed) I should be given the all-clear. My mobility will probably be a bit limited between now and then, and I don't want to push things (by, eg, trying to get into work on crutches). But still, this is all really good news.
Two further notes: Mr snowking
gave up most of his day to accompany me through the appointment, the various delays, my wussiness about the pain, and a kind-of-interminable journey back home. It must have been deadly boring for him, but he was the perfect supporter/person to have by my side. Thank-you, sir; I owe you bigtime.
Also. Was trying - I think mostly out of idle curiosity - to figure out how much my treatment would have cost me (or my insurer) under the US healthcare system. Can anyone either point me to a website that'll do the calculation for me, or give me an estimate based on actual figures? (Very rough inventory of what I've incurred: being shipped from site of accident to hospital in ambulance; initial treatment in emergency room; 4 nights' stay in hospital; 2-hour surgical procedure to implant and peg titanium nail, led by *extremely* qualified orthopaedic surgeon; 4 or 5 lifts from hospital to home or vice versa (c. 20 miles); painkillers and other drugs to manage after-effects across 2-months; 3 or 4 follow-ups from my primary care physician.)
|Wednesday, October 14th, 2009|
Now that I'm on the mend, this journal is likely to go back to being mostly friends-only; if you'd like to be friended, please leave a comment on this post.
|Tuesday, October 13th, 2009|
I've recovered sufficiently that I'm making Lj posts as numbered lists. Just like my old self!
1) The lj client on iPhone is a bit rubbish, isn't it?
2) Reading project for the moment: finally get through Shelby Foote's 3000 pages on the US Civil War. I have failed at this before, but suspect now maybe different...
3) listening project: the late Beethoven string quartets and piano sonatas, which I've never really got my head around.
4) Main remaining symptom: ungodly tiredness, at all hours of the day. Have to lie down for 5 mins after, eg, venturing to the bathroom. Have to just let this happen, I suppose, and trust the body to do its healing thing.
5) That said, I am going to try to catch up with emails this afternoon, and maybe some reading for Locus.
How are you all, anyway?
|Monday, October 12th, 2009|
Recovery continues. Lots of tiredness, some pain (though decreasing), getting used to the constraints of being at home. Today's hero of the revolution is major_clanger
, who was kind enough to trek up here and visit yesterday.
|Saturday, October 10th, 2009|
Am home, upstairs, and in bed. :)
|One particular bit of thanks
If you'd told me at the start of the week I was going to break my leg, I think I'd have been astonished that I wound up talking about it so much in public. I'm automatically suspicious of any urges to self-dramatisation in myself  and going on about something like a leg-break would have felt (yes, I know) self-dramatising. But I've been following for about a year Jay Lake's accounts of his own, very much more serious illness. Though I don't know Jay very well, I have huge admiration for what he's done in those posts - and my sense has been that they've been useful for him too. And, whaddaya know, so they were for me as well. I don't think Mr Lake reads this journal, but if any of you know him, could you point him this way and say how grateful I am to him?
 curiously, though, I don't have a problem with friends of mine being self-dramatisers; for me to impose my views on this on them would be, uh, self-dramatising.
|Friday, October 9th, 2009|
All being well, will go home at 10am tomorrow. Will be looked after by family in the first instance, but social services have also been alerted. More updates when I'm back.
|Wednesday, October 7th, 2009|
|Son of update
Got wheeled off to theatre around 11am, woke in recovery room around 3pm, was back on ward (now ward t6, bed 59), by 4. Awaiting visit from surgeons to tell me how they think it went, although the answer seems to be, fine. Am on morphine pump, woo, about which I'd say that a little goes a long way. Only thing is, it makes typing and concentrating on screen tricky. Hence brief post; but thanks for further good wishes & visits today.
Am awake and on a saline drip. Surgery scheduled for this morning, subject to acts of god. Not sure what this means for my awakeness later today. Will try to update here.
ETA: catching up on news in the sf field and outside. Very saddened by Kevin Mcgee's death, observing the octocon committee's foot-shooting with horrified fascination, glad Obama's being open about Afghanistan.
|Tuesday, October 6th, 2009|
So I've had an unusual day. Getting off the train at Euston this morning, I slipped so that my right leg went between the train and platform; my weight, at least briefly , was all on my shin. Kindly commuterd tried to help me up from where I was sprawled on the platform, but it soon became clear that standing on my right leg was not a good idea. So I waited until some firstaiders arrived: they brought a bench with them and hauled me off to sit on it. At this point, the pain if anything seemed to be getting worse - radiating out to the ankle and knee, and also to the back of the leg. So the firstaiders took me off in a buggy to their recovery room where I stayed for about 30 mins. Elevating the leg helped the pain, as did just lying still. So after a while, their suggestion seemed to make sense- that I borrow some crutches, take the first train back home, and lie down till the bruises started healing. That seemed sensible, though there was also a nagging idea that I should get whateveritwas checked out in hospital. So they called me an ambulance and I was taken over the road to Uch hospital. There, over the course of a few hours, a preliminary assessment was done; it became clear from x-rays that I had fractured my tibia - a spiral fracture. This, I was told would need some kind of pinning, probably permanent. At about 2, after 4 hours in a&e, I was taken to a ward on the first floor, which is where I am now. The procedure, originally planned for this evening, will now take place tomorrow. After that, all being well, I should be in for another 3 days and then on crutches for a few weeks. I'm still working out the implications of that as they affect what I can and can't do, but my employer has at least been really considerate. The surgeons are optimistic that the treatment they've mapped out should restore my leg to what it was. So, a scorecard. The bad: I've broken my leg. The good: this has been a day to restore my faith in human nature. My thanks to coalescent for posting an abbreviated vrsion of this on his lj; to the people (four!) who've visited me; and, though they won't read this, to the anonymous commuters who helped me on my way. I feel very well looked after here, and in a far more positive frame of mind than I'd expected. I'm still a coward about pain though. What's next? Op tomorrow, I hope, then recovery and home. Visitors are very welcome (8am to noon and 2pm to 8) but bear in mind I may be moved from my current ward, t1, at some point. Will try to update here with news. One request: if you are visiting, please don't for the moment bring Stuff - books etc. The more Stuff I accumulate, the more I'll have to lug home - and the less luggage I have, the better.
|Wednesday, July 29th, 2009|
|Sunday, July 5th, 2009|
|Final Readercon schedule
My final Readercon
schedule now looks like this:70 Years of Van Vogt
Thursday 9th, 7pm, ME/CTwith Gary Wolfe, John Clute, Charles N Brown
[[Locus will be running in August one of my retrospective columns, on van Vogt, plus a transcript of this roundtable discussion with the above-listed illuminati.]]
The Career of Elizabeth Hand
Friday 10th, 1pm, Suite Bwith F Brett Cox, Adam Golaski (M), Paul Witcover, Gary K WolfeThe Year in Novels
Friday 10th, 2pm, Suite Bwith Charles N Brown, Ernest Lilley, Shira Lipkin, Paul Witcover
Friday 10th, 7pm, ME/CTSolo talk
(though with surprise guest discussants)
Following on from his talk at last year's Readercon (a potted history of the last twenty years in speculative fiction), Sleight now discusses the use of history in the fantastic — from John Crowley's Ægypt sequence to Tim Powers's fantasies of history. Other works discussed include Road Runner cartoons, Harry Potter, slash fiction, and the stories of Elizabeth Hand, Russell T Davies, and Thomas Pynchon. Overarching theories may be suggested; gratuitous mentions of Shakespeare may also take place.
Novels of Advocacy vs Novels of Recognition
Saturday 11th, 1pm, Suite Ewith Paolo Bacigalupi, John Clute, Ken Houghton, Barry N Malzberg, Robert J Sawyer
At the keynote Thursday night panel at Readercon 18, our panelists stumbled upon a useful taxonomic distinction: novels that advocate for a particular future (a la
Heinlein) versus novels that merely attempt to recognize and describe a possible one (a la
Gibson). There was some debate as to just how strongly the field was moving from the former to the latter, and if there was such a trend, its relationship to others (optimism vs.
pessimism, far futures vs.
near futures, etc.) One of the panelists, Graham Sleight, has recently renewed the discussion online
. We'll explore the numerous possible directions raised by Sleight and others. [[This is Readercon's description, not mine. I don't normally talk about myself in the third person. First person plural, maybe, but don't we all?]]
The Readercon Book Club: China Mieville's The City and the City
Sunday 12th, 1pm, Mainewith Jedediah Berry, John Clute, Jim Freund (M), Glenn Grant
At the center of former Readercon GOH China Mieville's new novel is a stunning, beautiful conceit that is revealed, in its basic dimensions, over the first six or so chapters. Reading these was about the most fun we've had with speculative fiction in years — and the book then gets even better. The reader gets a taste of the lived experience of a world existentially very peculiar, in prose much sparer than Mieville usually writes. That the conceit is revealed early makes the novel difficult to discuss without spoilers, so we urge you to read it before reading any reviews. And then come to this panel!
From which the only conclusion I can draw is that I'm not intended to have lunch that weekend. Final program grid on the Readercon website here
|Wednesday, June 24th, 2009|
|Doctor Who question
Is the Peter Hawkins who did voices for the Daleks and Cybermen (and Captain Pugwash, Bill & Ben, etc) and who has obituaries here
the same Peter Hawkins who published, under the pseudonym Karl Maras, a 1954 sf novel called The Plant from Infinity
? I can find neither confirmation or denial of this online, but both seem to have been born in 1924.
(No prizes, it's just for fun.)
|Wednesday, March 4th, 2009|
For those of you interested in such things, I should be appearing on BBC Radio 3's Night Waves tomorrow night
(from 9.15pm) discussing the work of Philip K Dick with presenter Philip Dodd and another sf author, to be confirmed. I assume the programme will be available afterwards via iPlayer if you're in the UK.
ETA: And it doesn't clash with paulcornell2
's "State of the Art
", on Radio 4 at 2.15pm tomorrow. Hint, hint.
|Monday, February 23rd, 2009|
|Self-promotion comma shameless comma repeated
1) I've just received a copy of On Joanna Russ
(Wesleyan U P, ed Farah Mendlesohn), a book that I think is splendid only partly because I have a contribution in it on Russ's short fiction. (Amazon UK
2) I'll be interviewing Nick Lowe (the sf film critic, not the rocker) for the BSFA on Wednesday evening. No admission charge, details here
|Wednesday, December 17th, 2008|
|Public service announcement
If you want to friend me on Facebook but we haven't met in real life, by all means go ahead, but send me a message with your friend request saying who you are, why you're friending me, etc. Same applies if we've met in passing in the sort of context (crowded room party, etc) where names and faces tend to blur. Thanks!
(Is this the way others deal with this question of online manners? Other suggestions as to how to handle it welcome.)
|Saturday, September 6th, 2008|
Has anyone out there sent me a packet recently that's too big to fit through a regular letterbox? If so, could you let me know what it is? I'm waiting in for a Royal Mail redelivery of it, but it's looking increasingly like they've messed that up, and it'd be helpful to know how big this thing is if I have to trek out to the sorting office.
|Saturday, July 12th, 2008|
For my own reference as much as anything, a selection of my favorite poems from the late tomsdisch
's LJ Endzone. I freely admit to having omitted some stuff that offended me politically. (There were some difficult cases here: I wound up including Arab Love but omitted Job Application
. Your mileage may vary. Beyond a certain point, as with Larkin, the politics are an unavoidable part even of this partial selection.) The headings are mine and are almost certainly too cookycutter, but helped me make some sense of the material. The selection is skewed, I realise, toward the material he published in 2006 and 2008: for some reason - repetition, perhaps? - I wasn't as taken by as many of the 2007 poems. ( Many links behind the cutCollapse )