In the Lobby

Like so many other folks, I was driven by the results of the last election to become more involved in the political side of things. I joined/rejoined organizations, donated money, read blogs, subscribed to magazines. But then I thought about … Continue reading

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The Reluctant Traveler, Part 5: Cape Town, Where I Went and Where I Didn’t

WHERE I WENT

On a tour organized for those of us who arrived to the city a day early, our first stop was at one of the local clinics who participant in HIV vaccine trials.

It was a bright, welcoming place, surrounded by a high iron-bar fence and beyond this, a sea of shanties.

 

 

Next we visited a Youth Centre in what had been a school. We met a young rapper who was eager to demonstrate her skills to us.

Children in a neighboring day care became a rapt audience as we wandered through the Centre’s Children’s Garden.

 

 

 

 

Our lunch break was at the Groot Constantia Vineyards, where I purchased a bottle of South Africa’s beloved varietal, pinotage. They also produce a stunning sauvignon blanc. Continue reading

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Enceladus

(Picture from here.)

NASA has announced some new findings from the Cassini probe. In 2015, Enceladus produced a geyser that Cassini managed to fly through. In its mass spectrometer, it detected molecular hydrogen. This is hydrogen that is only bonded to itself and not with other materials or in an ionized state. (See here.)

Before we go too far, we have to talk about Enceladus. Continue reading

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The Rambling Writer’s Greek Travels, Part 12: The Caverns at Pyrgos Dirou

This series started on Oct. 15 and continues every other Saturday. I’m taking a trip back in time to my 4-month backpacking rambles around Greece in the early 1980s, which planted the seed for my recent novel The Ariadne Connection. Now, as I work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect, I’m reflecting on the ways a writer’s experience can be transformed into fiction. I hope you find the journey illuminating, or at least entertaining. Sadly, most of my photos from the trip were lost; these below are borrowed.

 After leaving the medieval fortress island of Monemvasia, our new friend Nikko gave my partner Jim and me a ride to a busy crossroads where we could catch a bus north into the Peloponnese peninsula. After our timeless interludes in the islands, it was a rude reintroduction to modern industrial life. Countless trucks and busses roared past in clouds of diesel fumes, and it was three hours of fruitless arm-waving before a bus finally stopped to take us on. At that point, we didn’t care where it was heading. But once more, a helpful deity “descended in the person of the blameless driver,” to paraphrase the ancients, and dropped us in the town of Githio. Nearby, we learned, was a complex of caves that beckoned us to explore. Continue reading

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New Worlds: What’s In a Name?

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

Continuing on from the discussion of phonology, I want to get into names — not how they sound, but how they’re used.

When I’m reading, I see a huge number of invented worlds where everyone has a given name and a family name, in that order. It is the blandest, most invisible way to name a character, because it’s the stripped-down form of the name style that most of you reading this essay probably have. And it doesn’t require the author to think very much.

But if you look around the world, and especially through history, it isn’t always that simple.

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A Tricoastal Woman: Texas History

Come and Take ItIf you go to public school in Texas, you will at some point be required to take Texas history. In fact, unless things have changed, if you want to teach school in Texas, you have to take a course in Texas history, even if you’re going to teach, say, physics.

At my school, we had this class in eighth grade. It was preceded by a semester of Texas geography, which is why I’m still pretty good at figuring out the location of the state’s 254 counties and know something about the indigenous population and the different landscapes.

My Texas history teacher took us up through statehood, but didn’t bother with anything that came later because, he said, “After that Texas history is just like the history of every other state.” That’s not completely true, and a lot of that later history would have been worth studying, though not, perhaps, on an eighth grade level. Continue reading

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Moore and Nagata Books in SFWA SF Storybundle

Tech HeavenThe WeaveLinda Nagata’s Tech-Heaven and Nancy Jane Moore’s The Weave are both included in the SFWA Science Fiction storybundle. This storybundle was curated by SFWA President Cat Rambo and features a dozen science fiction ebooks.

Tech-Heaven was published by Mythic Island Press and Book View Cafe. The Weave was published by Aqueduct Press.

The Storybundle started today — April 12 — and runs through early May, so grab your collection soon. It’s a great way to get books by your favorite authors and to find new ones as well. And you can pay what you want above a basic minimum ($5 for six books; $15 for all twelve).

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Recommended: Summit by Harry Farthing

I loved this novel.

Summit is what I like to call a literary thriller — adventure, conflict, brave deeds, beautifully written, filled with philosophy and politics, and not formulaic. It’s the debut effort of Harry Farthing who, from his website, is a British businessman, world traveler, and adventurer. I listened to the audio edition, which was read by the author. He has an excellent voice and I greatly enjoyed his performance.

The summit referred to in the title is Mount Everest, highest peak on Earth. The mountain is central to the dual stories of two European mountaineers — one modern, one pre-World War II. In both settings, Farthing pays respectful attention to the Sherpa, who are well-rounded characters with stories of their own. The author is in no hurry to bring the two principle story threads together, but that’s all right, because both plot lines are fascinating and well told.
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Lessons in Partnership

There is an astonishingly adorable one-year-old taking his first flight, seated with his parents in the row behind me.  His parents are wonderful with him: it sounds like a party I’d love to be part of. Next to me is my younger daughter, solving a sudoku puzzle and attempting to steal pretzels from her father, who is in the aisle seat, headphones on. I expected he’d be listening to the Beatles (it’s so often the Beatles, whose work he analyzes down to the last hemi-semi-demi quaver), but apparently today it’s something classical. He’s a man of parts, is my husband. Now daughter has finished the puzzle we were working on and has moved on to the next one. We are all three of us mildly disgruntled that this airplane has no power outlets; our flight out had power outlets (this last comment should be spoken with a resentful whininess). But we’re persevering, flying from Philadelphia to Phoenix and thence to San Francisco.

We were in Pennsylvania for my father-in-law’s memorial; Emil died in November at 99 1/2 (one of the notions floated about Emil this weekend was that once Donald Trump won the election, he didn’t want to hang around to make 100 because he didn’t want to receive the traditional birthday card from that president. Continue reading

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This is a dog post

Getting a neck rub.

I have corgis. Wait, let me restart. When I was growing up on the cattle ranch, we had a lot of dogs, including a bunch of corgis. They are cattle dogs–did you know that? They nip cows in the heels and the cows kick right over their heads. The reason cow dogs have no tails, is that cows chase dogs with tails because they perceive them to be predators–coyotes and wolves.

Haaaaaaappppppyyyyy!

One time when my (then boyfriend) husband were out on endurance ride in mountains above Georgetown in California, we were about one mile in when here come these two fat puppies down a logging road. There was a drought and the dirt was a good four inches deep and they barely had their heads above it. There were four of us in the lead of this ride. I was on an arab I was testing out to see if I was interested in buying him, and my husband was riding a horse my folks were thinking of buying. Mine was squirrely.

Neither was willing to let me getting into my seat. They told me to sit in the back.

The four of us were talking over what to do when this fox trotter stepped on one of the puppies. The puppy put his paw over his head and whimpered and that was the end of that. We picked him up and he rode in the saddle in front of my husband, and the other rode with another woman. We had twelve miles to go to get to the vet check, where we figured we could leave the puppies until the race was over and hopefully they’d check them over for us.

So that’s what we did. The pups enjoyed the entire ride. It was totally fun. At the end of the race, we talked about what we should do. My husband and I ended up taking home the puppy who’d been stepped on (he was fine. In fact, as soon as he got picked up, he quieted down and loved horseback riding. We took him home and he was an amazing dog. Half lab, half malamute and incredibly smart and pushy and sweet. A few years later we adopted a malamute to keep him company when we weren’t home. Continue reading

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