viktor_haag: (Default)
I don't rightly remember how it exactly happened I discovered the writing of Cathrynne M Valente, otherwise known here as [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna. But I do know these things:

• She was immediately identified as a good egg, and a good writer (in ways that I, as a reader, appreciate and enjoy), by several friends and acquaintances I trust (some of whom are writers themselves, or reviewers, or fans, or just plain old folk, like me, not particularly connected to the genre writing or fandom community).

• I picked up one of her "The Orphans Tales" volumes from the local library, read 50 pages in, and immediately ordered it, its companion volume, and her novel Palimpsest. I find her writing lyrical, rich, approachable but deep and mythical: it's writing that (so far) seems to resonate with what I like from the SF&F-end of the genre stuff I read.

• Her educational background is as a classicist, and I find accord with what this has done for the way that she writes. She names things well. She doesn't just sprinkle around world-building and cultural elements as if they were doritos or knick-knacks -- they have weight and seem real and substantial, even when her tone is light and flippant.

• She has a new book that's just come out, the first volume of what (as far as I know) promises to be a major new project for her. To call it the culmination of a hell of a lot of work would, I gather, not be quite accurate. Rather, it might be the first public return on declarations of a hell of a lot of work, with more to come. This new book is called "The Habitation of the Blessed", and it bills itself as a "dirge for Prester John". (Who is Prester John, you ask? Well, she is only too happy to explain.)

• I will be buying her book. I hope to be buying this book directly from her, at her book reading at Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine. I may even buy other books of hers that I don't already own, if they have 'em. As you may know, such a trip will be a bit far afield for me, and thus An Adventure™.

• Because I don't have the book yet, I cannot yet have read it. I thus have no idea what it is like, and it would be irresponsible of me to say anything more about my response to it. But I will promise to write a comment about it, after I have secured and read my copy. Whether this will motivate you to seek it out yourself... well... I don't know whether your taste is in accord with my own. Plus I do not have millionz of intarwebz followers, so my reach is rather small.

• She offers kewl prizes for the spreading of word about her work. It is partly in this endeavour that I make this post (see previous point about book unseen, unsecured, unread). I would like kewl stuff. I promise to share any kewl stuff, should it come my way by happenstance, with friends and family.

• The SF&F genre seems to me to be in an interesting place. There are really good writers in it. There are also scads and scads of formulaic and relatively mould-standard books as well. From what I've read so far, I think Valente falls into the former category: her writing reminds me of other folks I really like to read, like John Crowley, Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin -- mostly because she seems really good at naming things, and because her worlds seem simple, human, but still, deeply deeply real. But, it also seems to me that the really good writers (or at least the writers I like) often don't get supported and continually published (in the same way that, often, really good TV shows that I like get cancelled).

So, if you're of a mind, try out one of her books. You might then want to buy some. I did.
viktor_haag: (Default)
I don't rightly remember how it exactly happened I discovered the writing of Cathrynne M Valente, otherwise known here as [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna. But I do know these things:

• She was immediately identified as a good egg, and a good writer (in ways that I, as a reader, appreciate and enjoy), by several friends and acquaintances I trust (some of whom are writers themselves, or reviewers, or fans, or just plain old folk, like me, not particularly connected to the genre writing or fandom community).

• I picked up one of her "The Orphans Tales" volumes from the local library, read 50 pages in, and immediately ordered it, its companion volume, and her novel Palimpsest. I find her writing lyrical, rich, approachable but deep and mythical: it's writing that (so far) seems to resonate with what I like from the SF&F-end of the genre stuff I read.

• Her educational background is as a classicist, and I find accord with what this has done for the way that she writes. She names things well. She doesn't just sprinkle around world-building and cultural elements as if they were doritos or knick-knacks -- they have weight and seem real and substantial, even when her tone is light and flippant.

• She has a new book that's just come out, the first volume of what (as far as I know) promises to be a major new project for her. To call it the culmination of a hell of a lot of work would, I gather, not be quite accurate. Rather, it might be the first public return on declarations of a hell of a lot of work, with more to come. This new book is called "The Habitation of the Blessed", and it bills itself as a "dirge for Prester John". (Who is Prester John, you ask? Well, she is only too happy to explain.)

• I will be buying her book. I hope to be buying this book directly from her, at her book reading at Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine. I may even buy other books of hers that I don't already own, if they have 'em. As you may know, such a trip will be a bit far afield for me, and thus An Adventure™.

• Because I don't have the book yet, I cannot yet have read it. I thus have no idea what it is like, and it would be irresponsible of me to say anything more about my response to it. But I will promise to write a comment about it, after I have secured and read my copy. Whether this will motivate you to seek it out yourself... well... I don't know whether your taste is in accord with my own. Plus I do not have millionz of intarwebz followers, so my reach is rather small.

• She offers kewl prizes for the spreading of word about her work. It is partly in this endeavour that I make this post (see previous point about book unseen, unsecured, unread). I would like kewl stuff. I promise to share any kewl stuff, should it come my way by happenstance, with friends and family.

• The SF&F genre seems to me to be in an interesting place. There are really good writers in it. There are also scads and scads of formulaic and relatively mould-standard books as well. From what I've read so far, I think Valente falls into the former category: her writing reminds me of other folks I really like to read, like John Crowley, Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin -- mostly because she seems really good at naming things, and because her worlds seem simple, human, but still, deeply deeply real. But, it also seems to me that the really good writers (or at least the writers I like) often don't get supported and continually published (in the same way that, often, really good TV shows that I like get cancelled).

So, if you're of a mind, try out one of her books. You might then want to buy some. I did.
viktor_haag: (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] toddalcott, we notice Mamet on Drama (more specifically, the writing staff's job of writing the television drama, The Unit). I am not [livejournal.com profile] robin_d_laws, so if you want well reasoned theoretical examination of the application of scripted narratives (as for TV, film, theatre) for gaming, you should read his blog.

Click through if you want some noodling on using what Mamet says at your game table )
viktor_haag: (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] toddalcott, we notice Mamet on Drama (more specifically, the writing staff's job of writing the television drama, The Unit). I am not [livejournal.com profile] robin_d_laws, so if you want well reasoned theoretical examination of the application of scripted narratives (as for TV, film, theatre) for gaming, you should read his blog.

Click through if you want some noodling on using what Mamet says at your game table )
viktor_haag: (Default)
Another great column from Lisa de Moraes skewers Fox' new, much-hyped drama, "Fringe". I'm rather glad I did not see this thing, now that I read her column. She gets right to the carving in her first couple paragraphs:

Fox noted it was the network's most watched drama premiere in two years, if you exclude most of its drama premieres of the past two years. Actually, what Fox said was that "Fringe" was its highest-rated drama series debut in two years "excluding premieres following sports and 'American Idol.' "

Since September 2006, all but three Fox dramas ("K-Ville," "Canterbury's Law" and "Drive") have launched after a sports telecast or "Idol."


Snap.
viktor_haag: (Default)
Another great column from Lisa de Moraes skewers Fox' new, much-hyped drama, "Fringe". I'm rather glad I did not see this thing, now that I read her column. She gets right to the carving in her first couple paragraphs:

Fox noted it was the network's most watched drama premiere in two years, if you exclude most of its drama premieres of the past two years. Actually, what Fox said was that "Fringe" was its highest-rated drama series debut in two years "excluding premieres following sports and 'American Idol.' "

Since September 2006, all but three Fox dramas ("K-Ville," "Canterbury's Law" and "Drive") have launched after a sports telecast or "Idol."


Snap.
viktor_haag: (Default)
Not as good as some big speeches I've heard and read in the past, but Obama's convention address had some pretty nifty rhetorical touches ("the change we need doesn't come from Washington; change comes to Washington").
viktor_haag: (Default)
Not as good as some big speeches I've heard and read in the past, but Obama's convention address had some pretty nifty rhetorical touches ("the change we need doesn't come from Washington; change comes to Washington").
viktor_haag: (Default)
Copyright has, for many years, been a bastion against (oddly enough) commodifying art. But Terry McBride ("top music manager and label boss" according to The Register) says that's over, baby. Forget creativity. Forget art. Embrace the new wondrous corporate feudal state where art becomes "an upsell technique for [art] related products, e.g. ... clothing ... branded physical products".

What really bothers me about this attitude is that it favours ephemeral art. Why the heck would a writer want to toil away on a lengthy, deep, detailed novel? Embrace the word-bite! Blog yourself! Become a celebrity! Use your clever wordsmithery to shill for hip high-tech commerce!

I do not claim the novel is dead, or that film is dead, or that theatre is dead. But the destruction of copyright removes the principal way in which artists directly control the means of production, and are compensated for their efforts.

Do we really want a full-bore return to the patronage system?

(I am not unaware of the irony of asking this question, in this way, in this forum....)
viktor_haag: (Default)
Copyright has, for many years, been a bastion against (oddly enough) commodifying art. But Terry McBride ("top music manager and label boss" according to The Register) says that's over, baby. Forget creativity. Forget art. Embrace the new wondrous corporate feudal state where art becomes "an upsell technique for [art] related products, e.g. ... clothing ... branded physical products".

What really bothers me about this attitude is that it favours ephemeral art. Why the heck would a writer want to toil away on a lengthy, deep, detailed novel? Embrace the word-bite! Blog yourself! Become a celebrity! Use your clever wordsmithery to shill for hip high-tech commerce!

I do not claim the novel is dead, or that film is dead, or that theatre is dead. But the destruction of copyright removes the principal way in which artists directly control the means of production, and are compensated for their efforts.

Do we really want a full-bore return to the patronage system?

(I am not unaware of the irony of asking this question, in this way, in this forum....)
viktor_haag: (Default)
Season Three of Veronica Mars is, I think, almost completely off the rails. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we end up with a short season and the show getting cancelled. I have secret thoughts about Rob Thomas' high-concept project on narrative point of view being spun here, but more and more I'm forced to come back to reality and admit that I think the writing staff has lost their way and are fumbling around in the dark.

This season's episodes have been unfocussed, muddy, and unevenly paced. In the last couple episodes the once-razor sharp rapport between Bell and Colantoni has devolved into self-righteous-know-it-all teenager versus aw-shucks-confused-and-unsure dad.

I still hope my musings about Thomas' project are accurate (that the entire show is deeply immersed in Veronica's point of view, and so the depictions of events, characters, and their responses to each other and situations are vivid reflections of her own state of mind), but I have strong doubts that, with writing as weak as we've seen this season, VM will make it past mid-season let alone get renewed.

One big beef I've had with this season is the inept handling of the minor characters as Wallace, Dick, Mac, and Weevil seem little more than remote pawns flung in for plot device but having no central impact on the main thrust of the show. Even Logan has, more often than not, been reduced to a one-note purpose. Half of me says, "Of course! That's exactly what happens to your emotional landscape when you move from highschool to university: you struggle with that tension knowing that your 'friends for life' from highschool just aren't that vital or meaningful to your life any more; you drift away from most of them, inevitably, and find new people to fill the emotional nooks and crannies of your college years."

The other half says, "You idiots: you've spent two years building up audience expectations about these characters and Veronica's relationship to them. Now, in a season where you need to hit all the notes as well as provide strong stories if you have any hope of getting a full slate of episodes, you throw away all those expectations."

Sure you have a grand narrative project in the works, but the audience is starting to yawn and turn away in droves.

Oh well. Some shows just live past their useful lifespan, and Veronica Mars seems to be on life-support at the moment.

[Edit -- apparently, the network has ordered seven more episodes of Veronica Mars, so it will have a longer run at the ramp.]
viktor_haag: (Default)
Season Three of Veronica Mars is, I think, almost completely off the rails. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we end up with a short season and the show getting cancelled. I have secret thoughts about Rob Thomas' high-concept project on narrative point of view being spun here, but more and more I'm forced to come back to reality and admit that I think the writing staff has lost their way and are fumbling around in the dark.

This season's episodes have been unfocussed, muddy, and unevenly paced. In the last couple episodes the once-razor sharp rapport between Bell and Colantoni has devolved into self-righteous-know-it-all teenager versus aw-shucks-confused-and-unsure dad.

I still hope my musings about Thomas' project are accurate (that the entire show is deeply immersed in Veronica's point of view, and so the depictions of events, characters, and their responses to each other and situations are vivid reflections of her own state of mind), but I have strong doubts that, with writing as weak as we've seen this season, VM will make it past mid-season let alone get renewed.

One big beef I've had with this season is the inept handling of the minor characters as Wallace, Dick, Mac, and Weevil seem little more than remote pawns flung in for plot device but having no central impact on the main thrust of the show. Even Logan has, more often than not, been reduced to a one-note purpose. Half of me says, "Of course! That's exactly what happens to your emotional landscape when you move from highschool to university: you struggle with that tension knowing that your 'friends for life' from highschool just aren't that vital or meaningful to your life any more; you drift away from most of them, inevitably, and find new people to fill the emotional nooks and crannies of your college years."

The other half says, "You idiots: you've spent two years building up audience expectations about these characters and Veronica's relationship to them. Now, in a season where you need to hit all the notes as well as provide strong stories if you have any hope of getting a full slate of episodes, you throw away all those expectations."

Sure you have a grand narrative project in the works, but the audience is starting to yawn and turn away in droves.

Oh well. Some shows just live past their useful lifespan, and Veronica Mars seems to be on life-support at the moment.

[Edit -- apparently, the network has ordered seven more episodes of Veronica Mars, so it will have a longer run at the ramp.]
viktor_haag: (Default)
David Gemmel apparently died this morning in his home, a week after having major heart surgery. I did not read Gemmel widely, but what I did read (the Drus books) I enjoyed. More and more the good reads of my youth are becoming more poignant... 8(
viktor_haag: (Default)
David Gemmel apparently died this morning in his home, a week after having major heart surgery. I did not read Gemmel widely, but what I did read (the Drus books) I enjoyed. More and more the good reads of my youth are becoming more poignant... 8(
viktor_haag: (Default)
Congratulations to Jim Gardner, who has this year been nominated as a finalist for the Sunburst Award (for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic)! The other nominees include Cory Doctorow, Alison MacLeod, Holly Phillips, and Robert Charles Wilson. In that august company, I guess we can't consider Jim the favourite, necessarily, but good luck to him nonetheless!
viktor_haag: (Default)
Congratulations to Jim Gardner, who has this year been nominated as a finalist for the Sunburst Award (for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic)! The other nominees include Cory Doctorow, Alison MacLeod, Holly Phillips, and Robert Charles Wilson. In that august company, I guess we can't consider Jim the favourite, necessarily, but good luck to him nonetheless!
viktor_haag: (Default)
"Jargon is always something other people use. If you use it yourself, it's just a technical term."

Silly me. And I always understood jargon to be in the ear of the beauditor, and not in the mouth of the utterer.
viktor_haag: (Default)
"Jargon is always something other people use. If you use it yourself, it's just a technical term."

Silly me. And I always understood jargon to be in the ear of the beauditor, and not in the mouth of the utterer.

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