*incoherent squeeing*

*incoherent squeeing*

KIM STANLEY ROBINSON WILL BE IN DUBLIN IN APRIL

*DIES OF EXCITE*

Seriously, you have no idea. Meeting him is like bucket-list material for me, and I was SO HAPPY to get to meet him at Loncon, because I figured it was a once in a lifetime chance. And now he’s gonna be doing a thing in Dublin in TWO WEEKS and I’ll get to meet him AGAIN. #diesofexcite

In fact he’s doing an entire week of teaching and lectures in Limerick and Ted was like “Are you going to Limerick?” and I’m like DO NOT TEMPT ME! And he’s visiting the ecovillage, where I want to live ANYWAY, so I said to Ted WE MUST MOVE THERE IMMEDIATELY. LIKE BY NEXT THURSDAY! and he was all, “I’ll get right on that.” *laughs* I have a great husband. :)

I do not own the Mars trilogy in hardback. I may have to rectify that by the 10th. And seriously I had this big angst about whether I was bringing all the Science in the Capital books with me to Loncon and I finally decided no just the first one because weight allowances and I’ll just have to be happy with that AND I AM but now omg I will get to have the other two signed and #flailswithjoy

Kitsnaps: Botanic Gardens Hailstorm

Glasnevin Tower

Last Friday Young Indiana and I went out to the Botanic Gardens and got caught in a rain-and-hailstorm. It was great fun, actually, and involved a lot of running from one hiding place to another, playing keep-safe games and dancing.

I had my camera, having intended to pursue my self-directed photography ‘classes’ some more, although I haven’t advanced much beyond practicing shallow-depth photography. On one hand that’s fine, because as it happens I Really Love shallow depth photography and I’m chuffed I’ve re-learned how to do it reliably. On the other hand, I should move on because I took some pictures facing directly into the sun and then had to apply quite a lot of post-production to get them to be, y’know, vaguely see-able. The Ladies & Palm House ended up with me futzing with it the most, because the whole image even when I took the picture had this somewhat surreal quality to it, and the actual photo…fell short. :)

I’m especially pleased with the robin, as it’s apparently an Unspoken Life Goal (or perhaps not so unspoken) of mine to take a really good picture of a robin, but I think the picture of Young Indiana is just wonderful. :)

Robin Red Breast
Robin Red Breast

A European robin hides in the trees with us as we all wait out a hailstorm.

Ladies & Palm House
Ladies & Palm House

My favourite sculpture at the Botanic Gardens, backed up by the magnificent Palm House.

Botanic Gardens in the rain
Botanic Gardens in the rain

Botanic Gardens in the rain

Dancing in the Rain
Dancing in the Rain

Just singing and…

Recent Reads: Citadel of the Sky

Recent Reads: Citadel of the Sky

Make room, GRRM: Chrysoula Tzavelas knows how to bring on the pain.

I’ve just finished CITADEL OF THE SKY, which Chrysoula is in the midst of Kickstarting, and, like, whoa.

This is not GRRM-style fantasy, let me make that clear. You don’t spend every turn of the page in fear that your protagonists are all going to be dead on the next one. It’s a cast of several, but not thousands. It’s also under 300 pages, which is like a quarter or a third of the length of a GRRM book. And in voice it’s–it’s not even faintly GRRM. It’s almost more…well, the *tone* is more like Eddings or Brooks or Lackey or–it’s not grimdark. You can’t possibly mistake it for grimdark, even if four people are dead by the end of the first paragraph (which is one of the greatest opening paragraphs I’ve ever read).

But holy crap, does it bring on the pain. But mostly psychological pain: the royal family has a gift for magic that leads to madness, and nobody I know writes crazy like Chrysoula does. She captures emotion and mindset incredibly well, and there were whole scenes I spent going “holy shit THAT’S how you do that in a book*!”

There are two main viewpoint characters in CITADEL, Tiana and Kiar. Tiana tries desperately to be the Normal Good Girl, which her position and surrounding events are never going to let her be. The moment where she stops being the Good Girl–for a very necessary reason–is very powerful, by dint of coming out of such regular, normal language–this isn’t stylised epic, it’s epic in a voice you and I would use if we found ourselves caught up in an epic adventure–and she never comes back from that dangerous, powerful place.

Kiar, OTOH, just doesn’t want to be noticed at all; she’s probably the best-realized introvert I’ve ever read. She’s also so unassuming as to be slightly maddening, which is brilliant characterisation. Her magic was a little harder for me to grasp than Tiana’s, although I eventually got the hang of it, and (although I caught a sniff of one with Tiana) it’s her romantic (very, very) subplot that really gave me the warm wigglies.

Seriously, the characterisation in this book. #headdesk Not just Kiar and Tiana, but the whole royal family, some of whom are hardly on the page at all, but who are beautifully sketched out with just a few lines. In fact, it’s one of those characters who ultimately brings the *most* pain, and that’s quite a feat. But it’s perfect: it’s perfectly done, that awful moment, and it tells us a huge amount about the characters surrounding it. So. Well. Done.

And I would like to doff my hat for Soula’s use of–let’s call it negative space. Moments when all we see is the reaction, rather than the action. It makes for a handful of incredibly elegant moments in the book, and I am *full* of admiration for the skill.

And also the descriptions. #headdeskMore Seriously, while reading her novel WOLF INTERVAL I was torn between wanting to do a Walker Papers/Senyaza crossover with her and being painfully aware that my descriptions would look like rudimentary stick figures beside hers. This has not changed with CITADEL OF THE SKY. :)

Interestingly, the writing felt a little rough in places–rougher than the Senyaza books–and I don’t know if that’s because I was reading an ARC or if it was reading it on my e-reader or if it was that I read it too disjointedly or if it’s deliberate. It was only a very minor distraction, and I think only noticeable to me because I’ve read Chrysoula’s other books, but I’ll be curious to see if that faint roughness is polished out in the final version.

This is a rare book that I have every intention of re-reading before I read its sequel, which, frankly, I would like to get my grabby little hands on right now. I can’t, though, since the CITADEL Kickstarter is running for another 13 days and we’re not even thinking of sequels yet! G’wan so! :)

*I would like to note that the only other writer who has made me think that, in those words, is Judith Tarr, who is kind of renowned for being brilliant.

Picoreview: Step Up 2: The Streets

Picoreview: Step Up 2: The Streets

Picoreview: Step Up 2: The Streets: As good as your average dance movie, which means less good than Step Up, but possibly good enough to explain why there ended up being FIVE Step Up movies.

It turns out this is the first one I’d seen in the theatres, and I don’t think the dancing is quite as good in it as in the first film. A lot of it seems less…controlled, although that may be deliberate, because that’s kind of the thing the main character lacks, so it may be that the whole vibe of the street crews is meant to look that way. In which case, kudos to them.

This one did, however, feature a tap dancer, which automatically gives it a place near and dear to my heart. :)

I think the lead actress is a better actor than the lead actress in Step Up; the lead actor is not, however, better than Channing Tatum, either as an actor or a dancer. He wasn’t *bad*, as far as actors in dance movies go, it’s just that there was actually a reason Tatum broke out with his Step Up movie.

Ted, who arrived home in time for the Final Dance-Off, watched the kid who is by far the most fun in this–“Moose,” played by Adam G Sevani, who is adorkable–and said “Is Tatum that good a dancer?” so I made him watch Tatum’s cameo dance scene at the beginning of the film. It’s not his best Step Up dance by a long shot, but it’s certainly enough to show he’s got the chops. And the falls in it are spectacular, which counts for something.

These movies always feature a romance between the leads, but this one shouldn’t have. They had no noticeable chemistry and what was nominally flirting…well. Didn’t convince me. I thought it felt more like…two people whose parents have always thought they’d get married performing the time-honored ritual of Acting Like They’re Flirting Without Either Of Them Meaning It At All. I was more convinced the boy was puppy-dog infatuated than the girl, who just really didn’t seem to have time for him as anything but a dancer, so even though I’d seen it before I couldn’t help hoping it wouldn’t end with a kiss. It did, of course, because that’s how these movies end, but still.

Mostly it made me want to watch more of LXD: Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, which Step Up did *not* make me want to do, which leads me to believe that Step Up was satisfying on its own and Step Up 2 left me feeling it could have been better.

I saw the eclipse!

I saw the eclipse!

It was significantly cloudy in Dublin at Solar Eclipse time and I had no real hope of seeing it. In fact, it was *raining* lightly, but I was still out and about and keeping an eye on the sky. Suddenly the clouds broke just enough to keep a haze over the sun, allowing me to look directly at the eclipse, which, at 9:23am, was close enough to the 90% totality seen today from Ireland to count.

I am not lying, guys: it was fucking awesome. And that’s from somebody who knows what an eclipse is. It’s no wonder people who didn’t, back in the day, were utterly terrified and confused by them. I was genuinely filled with joy to see it, and enjoyed walking around in the strange light.

That first image there looks *very* like what I saw today.

I work a lot.

I work a lot.

This morning as I was doing revisions on the 4th project I’ve worked on this month I had the shocking revelation that I work a lot.

I can hear people rolling their eyes at me from all over the world right now, but it actually was a shock. I think it was because it was the fourth project (REDEEMER synopsis, MAGIC & MANNERS revisions, short story revisions, now SKYMASTER revisions) that I’ve worked on in the past 3 weeks that it really hit me. And if I get this done by the weekend, which I should, I’ll be doing something else next week.

Frankly, you’d think I’d be making more money, working this hard. :p

So anyway we’ll see what pans out from all this work, over the next few months. It’s possible 2016 is going to be the Year Of All The Independent CE Murphy Books…

I hate revising.

I hate revising.

I hate revising. I particularly hate it when I’m going over a manuscript that, when I finished writing it, I thought was REALLY BAD and probably needed to be totally thrown out, and six weeks later when I look at it again I’m like “this appears to mostly work and i can’t tell if it actually works or if it’s just this HUGE GAPING BLIND SPOT OF DENIAL.”

Even more aggravating is that the last 3 chapters of my printed manuscript mysteriously disappeared and so I was left in the lurch and still don’t know if the book ends all right or if I’m stuck in this HUGE GAPING BLIND SPOT OF DENIAL. And I had a whole hour of work time left.

Fortunately I had a book with me. :)

Anyway, I have no idea if the book is awful or not. It probably is. An editor would probably see all the flaws and make me rip out the second half and fix them. Which I would do myself, if I could get past this HUGE GAPING BLIND SPOT OF DENIAL. Unless it’s actually not that bad. Which is possible. Unlikely, but possible.

*headdesk*

trying to develop a blog schedule

trying to develop a blog schedule

I want to do a thing. I want to develop a blog schedule, so like on Tuesdays or whatever I post a Recent Reads, and on Fridays it’s Picoreviews, and so there’s a Kitsnaps day and a Writing Topics day and a I don’t even know what else day. A Recommended Reads, which would be different from Recent Reads. Stuff like that.

This is a thing I want to do. Plus other random stuff that comes up too, and the boring “now i’m writing and all i can talk about is writing!” posts (okay, i don’t actually think they’re boring :)).

I’d love to have my act together enough to do more political kinds of posts too, or at least regular climate change stuff or something, although that seems a little ambitious. Well, not necessarily the climate change stuff, I follow a lot of that reasonably carefully and could do write-ups about what I’m seeing easily enough. But other stuff.

Most of the trick to this clever plan is getting ahead of myself so I’m not scrambling daily to get something posted. It’s distinctly possible I’ll never get that far, but it’s a nice thought. Something to aspire to, like. :)

Anyway, I’ve just had a look at some of my lists of blog topics that people have indicated interest in in the past, but this would also be an excellent time for people to volunteer what they might wanna read about! :)

Recent Reads: The Invisible Library

Recent Reads: The Invisible Library

THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY is the debut novel from another TooMUSH alumni, Genevieve Cogman, so I was predisposed to like it. OTOH, it’s a Library Story, and Library Stories are never…quite…what I want them to be. I don’t even know what I want them to be, save that I haven’t encountered it yet, so I was also moderately trepidatious.

As it turns out, THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY is pretty splendid. In a nutshell, the Librarians are in search of unique books, ones that only appear in one alternate universe, and are helping to keep the forces of chaos in line, all of which requires a lot of frenetic running around and adventuring and near misses. It’s been pitched as Doctor Who with librarian spies, and while I didn’t really get that vibe from the book, I do kind of get it from writing up a nutshell explanation, so. :)

One of the two things that really made it work for me was that our heroine, Irene, is a decidedly modern (even post-modern!) heroine in a job that often requires her to visit times, worlds and places that are not modern in sensibilities. The very slight clash of modern language & mentality against (magical) period settings made for a dissonance I really enjoyed. Irene was a lot better at playing into the rules of the eras than I’d be. :)

The other thing I really loved was the supporting cast. Irene’s partner Kai was fine and fun, but it was the characters she met on her main assignment, the Great Detective type Vale and the Harried Inspector Singh, with whom I particularly fell in love. I’ve never even been a particular Great Detective fan, but I just love Cogman’s version of the pairing, and I spent the whole last quarter of the book in despair because I could only see one way in which they could continue as regulars in the series, and I didn’t see it happening at the end of the VERY FIRST BOOK.

It didn’t happen, either, which is good, because it shouldn’t have. But something else excellent did happen, and I’m really going to enjoy the second book. :)

catch-up post

catch-up post

Young Indiana and I went to see Home, which was a sweet little film. It’s also the first animated film I can think of since Prince of Egypt where white people were only incidental background characters instead of the homogeny, which was great.

Today is Mother’s Day in Ireland. I have been greeted with a lie-in, a homemade card, and waffles with strawberries, which is a pretty nice start to the day. I was gonna go see Insurgent, except it doesn’t start until next week. Darn it. Maybe I can see Chappie instead. Or not. :)

I have a stack of ARCs to read. Is it a stack if they’re all electronic? Anyway, a virtual stack, including Chrysoula Tzavelas’s CITADEL OF THE SKY, which is currently being Kickstarted and which I have not yet read much of but I love its opening paragraph. I also have Beth Cato’s next Clockwork book, and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough’s THE DRAGON, THE WITCH & THE RAILROAD, which is a new book in her Seashell Archives series from the 80s. I *love* Kickstarter, that it can make things like this happen!

I finished Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy last week. I think they’re similiar to but perhaps a little better than her Mortal Instruments books, and in the end I was really pleased with how she handed the romantic entanglement. It’s not what I would have done, but it was possibly better, and that’s always nice. :)

I’ve also read several of Sheila Connolly’s Orchard Mysteries, which are pretty good little cosies. I’ve learned a surprisingly interesting amount about apple farming, and she includes recipes at the back of the books and there are several I want to try, so that’s kinda cool too. :)

I may have *accidentally* a little bit picked up a couple non-fiction books at Chapters yesterday. One, THE NOIR FORTIES, is a research book for the REDEEMER series and the other is, er. Not. O.O It’s TIGRESS OF FORLÍ, a history of Caterina Sforza, who sounds fascinating. And also I got the latest Benjamin January book by Barbara Hambly. :)

Let’s see, what else. We finished s3 Person of Interest, which…gosh. That’s a game-changer. And we watched the first episode of Powers, which was probably slightly more than I needed to watch. I could have stopped after the first 5 minutes, in fact. Agents of SHIELD has gotten pretty good, although I’d rather have full seasons of Agent Carter, given my druthers.

A post of mine, Representation matters, has gone viral on Tumblr! Almost 60,000 notes as of posting-time, which is just crazy. Last week it was at 6K, and I thought THAT was lots! :) It’s the most popular thing I’ve ever written on the internet. :)