In Troubled Times: Still Here, Still Holding on to Hope

Following the 2016 election, I posted a series of essays called “In Troubled Times.” I wrote about despair, fear, anger, powerlessness, and determination. Then the initial fervor faded. Exhaustion set in for me as well as for so many others. Emotional exhaustion. Spiritual exhaustion. But the constant, increasingly vitriolic litany of hate and fear, as well as the assaults on democratic norms and civil liberties not only continued, it escalated.

What is to be done in the face of such viciousness, such disregard for human rights and dignity? Such an assault upon clean and air water, endangered species, and the climate of planet we depend on for our lives? How do we preserve what we value, so that in resisting we do not become the enemy?

I don’t know what the most effective strategy of resistance is. Social media abounds in calls to action. I do know that there are many possible paths forward and that not every one way is right for every person. Not everyone can organize a protest march (think of five million protesters in front of the White House; think of a national strike that brings the nation’s businesses to a halt). I find myself remembering activist times in my own past.

I came of age during the Civil Rights Movement and the Viet Nam war resistance (and, later, the women’s rights movement of the 1970s). I wore my hair long, donned love beads, and marched in a gazillion rallies. Those memories frequently rise to my mind now. In particular, I remember how frustrated I got about ending the Viet Nam war. In 1967, I joined the crowd of 100,000 protesters in San Francisco. I wrote letters, painted posters, and so forth. And for a time, it seemed nothing we did made any difference. My friends still got drafted and not all of them made it home, and those that did were wounded in ways I couldn’t understand. Others ended up as Canadians. I gave up hope that the senseless carnage would ever end.

But it did. And in retrospect, all that marching and chanting and singing and letter-writing turned out to be important. The enduring lesson for me is that I must do what I feel called to do at the moment, over and over again, different things at different times, never attempt to second-guess history, and especially never give in to despair. Enough tiny pebbles rolling down a slope create a landslide. Continue reading

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BVC Announces The Reefs of Time by Jeffrey A. Carver

The Reefs of Time by Jeffrey A. Carver
The Reefs of Time
Part One of the Out of Time Sequence
The Chaos Chronicles: Book 5
by Jeffrey A. Carver

The starstream is beautiful. But beauty turns deadly when an ancient and destructive AI uses it to travel uptime…

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Making an Edwardian Dressing Gown 5: Decorating

Before I actually cut into my gold brocade, it’s important to consider all the details. Once you take a scissors to the cloth there is no going back. And the important thought today is decorating the garment. With buttons.

A period dressing gown fastens with buttons and/or a waist sash or cord. There were no zippers and no Velcro in the 19th century. I have two separate sets of buttons that I could use, and I have to select one. Here they are:

Buttons1

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Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, and the Silver Fork Novel

I’ve been asked by a handful of people now and then to reprise my riff on Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and the evolution of the Silver Fork novel.

Recently I was on the east coast at Readercon, where I fell into several conversations that touched on this subject, and got enough of a “Oh you should republish that!” to offer it again, nearly ten years after its first appearance.

I discovered Georgette Heyer in high school, after reading an entire issue of the fanzine Niekas devoted to it, somewhere around 1967-8. At that time I’d loved historical novels ever since I checked out Mara, Daughter of the Nile in grade school. My favorite by ninth grade was Annemarie Selinko’s Desiree, based on real people during the Napoleonic period (though I was to discover it was every bit as romanticized as most of the memoirs penned by the surviving principals later on) so I was instantly intrigued.

The first Heyer I read was A Convenient Marriage, and as Horry was a year older than I (she was a sophisticated older woman of seventeen) I had no problem with her romancing a world-weary Earl in his mid-thirties–that age-gap was common in those days.

From then on I had to read them all. My library only had four or five, so for several weeks I walked the three miles to the stop for the downtown bus, which was almost a two hour ride one way, to check the Los Angeles Main Library, where I found a gold mine—they had everything, even the ones she later suppressed (though I could immediately see why, young as I was).

I was thoroughly entranced.

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The Rambling Writer Explores More Greek Islands, Part 31: Naxos Town & Tower

Join Thor and me as we explore more of the town’s labyrinthine lanes, including a Venetian tower.

NOTE: Since our recent trip to Greece to research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT, Thor and I knew we had to return to this magical region. My first entry in this new blog series posted here on Saturday, 10/20/2018. It gives an overview of our rambles from Athens to seven islands in the Dodecanese and Cyclades groups, ending our ferry-hopping pilgrimage on the anciently sacred island of Delos.

Our usual Greek island visits feature a lot of swimming in the luminous, deep-blue sea, but by the time we arrived on Naxos it was early October, windy and cool. (Perhaps still some after-effects of Cyclone Zorba?) After a Very frigid swim among the mysterious boulders of Mikra Vigla beach (somehow I lost those photos), we warmed up with more exploration of Naxos Town’s charming byways. A modern sculpture of the ancient sphinx watches over the harbor (above). The cobbled lanes’ twists and turns were designed, from ancient days, to thwart attackers by confusing them. It works! Continue reading

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New Worlds: Germs and Bad Air

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

I presume that everyone reading these essays is familiar with the basics of germ theory: that many diseases are caused by microscopic organisms such as bacteria or viruses. And probably most people are aware that germ theory is a relatively new development, really only invented at the end of the nineteenth century.

. . . except that last part isn’t quite true.

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Thinking About my Mother

My mother at 23.

My mother at 23

I saw a social media post in which someone mentioned — almost in passing — that they didn’t know what it was like to have a mother who did things for them. It was heart-rending, and it reminded me of one time in particular when my mother did something important for me.

It sounds like a relatively simple thing: I was having surgery on my thyroid (it all turned out fine) and my mother came up to help me with that. Not an unusual thing for a mother to do.

But it was a complicated year in my family. During the summer, while I was visiting my sister in New York City, we picked up the Times to see, above the fold, pictures of our hometown underwater. We rushed to call home.

“I can’t talk now,” our mother said. “The boat is here.”

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Two Hamlets: A Very Short Review

HamletCumberbatchBy chance more than wit, in the past seven days I have contrived to see Hamlet twice. The first was the filmed version of the play staged by the National Theatre in London in 2015, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. And a few days later I scored tickets to Washington DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company and their annual Free For All event, which this year featured a reprise of their 2018 production of Shakespeare’s greatest play.

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One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor

There ain’t, I am reliably informed, no accounting for taste. But from time to time I come across something that I have heard lauded for years and years, and my reaction when I finally get to it is… eh. Or worse, urgh. Like: where is this film/book/play that sounded so great? I wanted to see that one.

A few weeks ago Spartacus was on, and my husband and I realized we’d heard about it forever and had never seen it. And it was directed by Stanley Kubrick, whom we both admire. So we watched it… for about 40 minutes, before we agreed that our lives were worth more than sitting through any more of it. It wasn’t that the film was dated–there are films that are considerably older that we watch with enjoyment. Spartacus was visually arresting and filled with great actors, many of them doing unspectacular work. After all the years I’d heard about this movie… the big take away was “I am Spartacus.”

About a dozen years ago the late P.D. James wrote a “sequel” to Pride and Prejudice, Death Comes to Pemberley. The reviews I saw were nothing short of rapturous. With hope in my heart and the book in my hands I dived in and…Ugh. Continue reading

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