New Worlds: Just Add Water (and Year Three!)

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series. And many thanks to my faithful patrons, who have funded two years of New Worlds: with this, we embark upon Year Three! Look for the ebook collection of Year Two in early April . . .)

The Tigris and the Euphrates. The Nile. The Yellow River. The Indus.

If you look at the cradles of early civilization, those cradles are river valleys. This is no coincidence: human beings need fresh water to survive, and our settlement patterns are shaped by where we can most easily obtain that water, for ourselves, our livestock, and our crops. One of the ways to kick a savvy reader out of a story is to stick a major city in the middle of a plain, while a perfectly good river flows unused nearby.

But we haven’t just stuck to riverbanks. So let’s take a look at how we’ve managed our water needs over time.

Continue reading

Share

Nnedi Okorafor’s New Comic: LaGuardia

I have become addicted to Nnedi Okorafor’s new comic series from Dark Horse, LaGuardia. I know exactly when the next issue is coming out and I’ve even discovered the exact spot where it will be on my display in my neighborhood comics store. It’s been a long time since I felt this way about comic books.

When I was a kid, I mostly read comics when I went to Stanton’s grocery store in Alvin with my mother. We did most of our shopping at Baker’s store in Friendswood, but about once a month we’d drive over to Alvin because Stanton’s had more items.

Mother would shop and I’d plant myself by the comic book stand and read as many as I could while she got groceries. The store never objected.

I wasn’t very systematic about my reading. As I recall, I read a lot of Archie comics, which, on reflection, probably introduced me to a lot of sexist conditioning even beyond that of school and church and society as a whole. Though in some ways reading Archie was like exploring an alien world, since nothing about it had anything to do with my life.

We rarely bought comics, so I didn’t leave behind a stack of them for my mother to throw out before the word came that they could be valuable. And I always read way more books than comics. Continue reading

Share

Nancy Jane Moore’s Stories on Curious Fictions

Reprints of some of Nancy Jane Moore’s short fiction can now be found on Curious Fictions. Her most recent story at that venue is “Blindsided by Venus in the House of Mars,” which also appears in the Book View Cafe anthology Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls. Several of her other stories reprinted there also appear in her collections available on Book View Cafe.

There is no charge for reading stories on Curious Fictions, though tips and subscriptions are always appreciated.

Share

Feeding Your Invalid in the 19th Century 12: Faux Fish

Il Pesce

The notion of not telling sick people the truth was not solely Victorian. Well into the 20th century, if you had cancer your doctor might not say the fatal word, for fear that you would just lie down and die in despair. However, the 19th century did bring deceiving invalids into high relief. Many ailments — STDs, insanity, epilepsy — were social anathema and could never be spoken of except in whispers. If a man had syphilis, a highly contagious and entirely incurable disease at the time, his doctor might treat him but not tell the wife. After all, it was the mister who was paying the bill, right?  The little woman might endure poor health for years before realizing what was going on.

I had not realized that deceiving the sick extended even into the kitchen! This is a recipe passed to me by Gillian Polack, who found it somewhere in her researches. It is translated from some Asian language and does not favor the precise measurements of Western recipes. I am not entirely clear what he’s trying to tell us to do, with those eggs. I would hope that the ‘gourd’ is something like a zucchini or vegetable marrow. If sufficiently spiced up with those ‘other things’ in the last sentence it probably was tasty enough. But what a disappointment if you were actually hoping for fish! Continue reading

Share

My Electronic Overlord

I really am a simple soul.

In December I was given a Fitbit for my birthday. I love it. I may, in fact, have gone a little off the deep end about it. It’s a little bit like a tamagotchi (remember those?) except about exercise: it requires attention and gives you just enough approving feedback to keep you giving it that attention. This is how our E-Overlords are going to take over: by making us want to please them so we get tiny gratifications. Continue reading

Share

BVC Announces Never After by Marie Brennan

Never After by Marie BrennanNever After

by Marie Brennan

Forget perfect princesses, handsome princes, and “happily ever after.” In this collection of thirteen flash-length fairy tale retellings, award-winning author Marie Brennan introduces you to a world of manipulative mirrors, treacherous pigs, and candy houses that will eat you right up. Each one is a subversive little gem, guaranteed to shock the Brothers Grimm.

Continue reading

Share

Convention Report 6: Boskone

 The Boston SF fan community is one of the oldest in the US, and they’ve had a Boskone for as long as anyone can remember. Travel to Boston in February is challenging, and it is kind of far for me, at least, to go. For some years family pressures have kept me from attending. But this year, because the EDGE TO CENTER trilogy is out, I made the journey.

And the travel gods were with us! We drove up without weather, without traffic even. The Westin hotel (new to me) is on the edge of a trendy district in South Boston by the convention center. At this point in my life my con instincts are very good, and without consciously remembering my schedule I tottered down to my panel and was thrust into place in the nick of time, half an hour after getting out of the car. Continue reading

Share

Vonda N. McIntyre Is Seriously Ill

Book View Cafe founding member Vonda N. McIntyre has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

All of us at Book View Cafe are deeply saddened by this news. Vonda has been a mainstay of BVC both as an author and as a member who does many of the behind-the-scenes jobs that make it possible for us to publish so many books. For us, she is not just a writer whose stories we love, but also a colleague and friend who has given so much to so many for so many years.

Most ebook editions of her books are only available at Book View Cafe. Since Vonda is the person who always reminds the rest of us to link to our bookstore pages when writing on the blog, here is a link to hers.

Further information and ways to express your sympathy and good wishes are available on the Caring Bridge page created for Vonda by other friends. You can post messages on that page and there’s an address for sending cards and letters. Please don’t contact her directly. She needs to focus on her medical needs.

Share

Writing Landscape

This blog contains a little-finger dig at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival. I used to be a regular at the February venue, looking forward to it from the bleak depths of a Seattle January. Getting a job with high work demands made this treat less of a priority. However as this winter has been particularly nasty-heavy-dark, I promised myself a half-day ticket, left work a little early, and visited the show.

My memories of the fabulous display gardens filled my throat like a craving when I walked through the convention center doors. I was excited, with plans to pick up just what I could carry—mostly bulbs or tubers. The door greeters smiled. The crowd, while rather thin as this was post day-trippers and before diners finished their downtown meals, looked just as excited as I was.

When you walk through the main door, the first sight is the display gardens. There is usually a smell, too, of scented blooms, lush fir foliage, moist compost—the heavenly odors for any gardener. No acrid stench of herbicides or pesticides. As I entered the maze of displays, I felt an immediate let down.

Expecting brilliance in color, sculpture, and surprise, there was nothing. The theme was countries around the world. So we had Japan, Germany, Italy and sustainable Northwest. I didn’t see Africa anywhere. Or the Middle East, including Egypt. Nothing representing Australia. The plantings were pedestrian: evergreens with no varigation, unremarkable pavings and water falls and the bulb of choice was endless narcissus. Or succulents. Or repetitive ground covers, like shamrock for Ireland.

Are you kidding me?

Continue reading

Share

The Rambling Writer Explores More Greek Islands, Part 12: Rhodes Old Town

Join Thor and me as we revisit the Medieval walled city and the harbor of Rhodos Old Town, still bustling after 2500 years of rich history.

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.

The island of Rhodos has been inhabited since Neolithic times, with significant history for at least 2400 years. Since the island lies on major traditional shipping routes connecting Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, its culture and architecture have been a fusion of influences from those regions. Rhodos Town was established around 408 BC in the Classical Greece era, with ruins of temples within the Medieval walls and outside on an acropolis. The Colossus of Rhodes, a bronze statue reputed to stand 100-130 feet tall and one of the wonders of the ancient world, was erected near the harbor to celebrate Rhodian victory over the Macedonians in 305 BC. (It was made from the melted weapons of the besiegers.) It almost certainly did not straddle the harbor entrance, as portrayed in popular images, and sadly was toppled by an earthquake in 227 BC. Apparently it took 900 camels eventually to cart away the scattered remnants of the statue, which were melted down to make coins.

The entrance to the harbor today (top photo) is guarded by the town’s signature stag and doe atop high columns. Antique windmills used to catch the sea breezes: Continue reading

Share