Story Excerpt Sunday: From Hidden Steel by Doranna Durgin

Hidden SteelHidden Steel

by Doranna Durgin

Sound first invaded her cocoon of awareness. Beeping. Really annoying beeping. Something tightened snugly around her upper arm… and when it went away, so did she.

When the beeping returned, it came with odors. Astringently offensive odors of new plastic and antiseptic, and the earthier odors of unwashed hair and barely washed body. It came with the trickle of a thought: hospital. And the more worrisome question: What am I doing here?

Nothing hurt particularly, aside from the ache of being too long in one position. No pain in her limbs, her torso, her head… although every thought came surrounded and obscured by thick mist. So then…

Why? Continue reading

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Women Writing Space Opera

Forgotten Suns

I’m so glad to see a female-written space opera getting lots of glitz, and Anne Leckie’s books are well worth the praise.

But like so many other situations, that is one woman getting all the buzz that mostly flows toward male written works. What about all the other women writing interesting space opera? Yet again, they depend on word of mouth, as the publicity machine churns for the new male star.

Because Leckie is not the only female writer doing interesting things with the old form. I am not going to say formula, because while certain elements crop up, the works I come back to reread are ones that combine the expected fast action and science (and para science) gosh wow with complex characters, which includes interesting things done with gender and identity.

Continue reading

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The News From 2Dits Farm: The Girls in the Coop

The girls in the coop have been watching Dr. Phil again. I can always tell: Pecky Specky is eager to tell me that Rocky has been bullying Henny Penny, Penny is hiding in a corner, and Spacey Lacey wanders in her own little world, obviously deeply in denial of the sibling rivalry she has witnessed. I sigh and start filling the food pan with their supplemental breakfast of kale, apple quarters, and a little tuna cat food.

The thing is, they were so darned cute when they were chicks. Who could have predicted this angst?

This is my second flock of hens. Back when I was planning in earnest for retirement, I was aiming for the self-sufficiency of providing as much of my own food as possible. The vegetable garden would take care of one aspect of that, but aside from legumes like beans and peas, vegetable sources of protein can be hard to come by. Many homesteaders raise a flock of meat chickens for a few weeks each summer, then slaughter the whole flock at once and stock their freezers with their home-grown, often organic, chicken. It is attractively economical and has the added advantage of peace of mind. You know where that meat has been, and what has–or more importantly, has not–been done to it. When I faced the prospect of killing another living creature with my own two hands to eat it, though, I knew I couldn’t do it. There would be no slaughtering at 2Dits. Continue reading

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Give Me That New-Fangled Future

I saw on Facebook recently that the millennial generation doesn’t want the family treasures. They’re not interested in finding a place to put all that stuff that’s been accumulating for generations.

I’m quite a bit older than the millennials, but I feel the same way. Earlier this year I wrote about giving up nostalgia.  I have fond memories of college and the exciting and turbulent period generally called the Sixties (though it ran into the 1970s), but I don’t want to go back there. And while there are other high points in my life – times and places I really loved – I don’t want to repeat those, either.

There’s certainly no historical period from before my time I’d want to live in. I like computers and modern medicine and exposure to a variety of cultures, not to mention living in a society that at least tolerates independent women.

But there is another time besides the present where I would like to live: The Future. Continue reading

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WWW Wednesday – 4/22/2015

It’s WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.

• What did you recently finish reading?

In keeping with my erratic practice of juggling fiction and non-fiction, I just finished Going Clear, Lawrence Wright’s book on the history and growth of Scientology. It is meticulously documented and footnoted, an entertaining read in a sort of “people are weirder than anything” way. Having been a proof-reader for several of the books in the definitive edition of Robert Heinlein’s letters (including the volume of his letters with John W. Campbell) some of the early-days material was not new to me, but the spin, of course, is interesting. As someone who views other peoples’ faith with a little bit of wonder, reading this book is a little like an anthropological tour of another planet to me. Continue reading

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Confessions of a Ghost Writer Part 2: Ghosts and Zombies

ghostbusters logoI’ve never sat down and counted all of my ghostwriting/editing clients. Every once in a while, when I go in to clean up my file folders, I realize that I’ve had more than I thought and that I’ve actually forgotten about some of them. Some I work with once and that’s that; some I’ve been working with for years. A lot of them, in one way or another, came to me from one of several book packaging companies I’ve done work for—companies who, in turn, came to me through a wonderful (but, alas, deceased) freelance resource called Freelance Daily.

The clients that puzzle me most stand at two ends of a spectrum. At one end are talented people who have no desire or who lack the confidence to take the next step toward getting published. At the other are people with little or no writing talent, a seeming inability to understand how either the writing craft or publishing works, and the ambition and confidence to believe that they can be or are writers just as good as Ray Bradbury or Shirley Jackson or Umberto Eco (you may add your favorites to the list).  Continue reading

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The Left Hand of Darkness Hits BBC Airwaves!

Left Hand of Darkness PlaybillUrsula K. Le Guin’s Hugo and Nebula award winning 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness is currently airing as a radio play on the BBC.

The first episode has already aired, and you can hear it free online for about a month at the Beeb’s site. Episode two is now online here. The episodes run about an hour in length.

It should be noted that the production employs the prodigious talents of the fine actor Toby Jones. Ursula has every right to be pleased and proud.

You can read more about this applause-worthy development on the Open Culture blog.

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Tidings of Comfort

Louise Tiffany, by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Louise Tiffany, by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Note: I chose this painting because I liked it. It was only after I’d typed in the painter’s name (Louis Comfort Tiffany) that I realized I’d doubled up on the entendres. Pure serendipity.

With a to-be-read pile that stacks up to the sky and threatens my continued survival (it’s on my bedside table, and in an earthquake it would surely topple over and mash me flat) it perhaps makes no sense that I sometimes have to stop what I’m doing and start comfort reading. And it’s not always because I need comforting, in the “world is too much with me, gimme my blankie and my thumb and I’ll be in the corner” sense. So why?

Sometimes my mind is too full of Other Stuff™ to be able to fit in someone else’s new worlds and ideas. Sometimes there’s something in that much-read work that I recognize will help me unpick a writing problem of my own. Sometimes it’s just been a Day, and I want something reliably cheery, or chewy, or full of whatever quality I think I want in that moment. I was thinking about what books make my comfort reading list, and which, over the years, have slipped off it. Continue reading

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BVC Announces Forgotten Suns by Judith Tarr

Forgotten Suns by Judith TarrForgotten Suns
by Judith Tarr

I am no one. I pass from dark into dark. I hunt a track gone cold as stone.

For five thousand Earthyears, the planet called Nevermore has been empty. Its cities are deserted, with every trace of their inhabitants erased. Only a handful of nomadic tribes remain, none of whom remember the ones who went before. Continue reading

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Utopiyin, Utopiyang

Ursula K. Le Guin, photo by Marian Wood KolischUtopiyin, Utopiyang

by Ursula K. Le Guin

These are some thoughts about utopia and dystopia.

The old, crude Good Places were compensatory visions of controlling what you couldn’t control and having what you didn’t have here and now –- an orderly, peaceful heaven; a paradise of houris; pie in the sky. The way to them was clear, but drastic. You died.

Thomas More’s secular and intellectual construct Utopia was still an expression of desire for something lacking here and now — rational human control of human life — but his Good Place was explicitly No Place. Only in the head. A blueprint without a building site.

Ever since, utopia has been located not in the afterlife but just off the map, across the ocean, over the mountains, in the future, on another planet, a livable yet unattainable elsewhere. Continue reading

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