When it’s Really Cold — Musings

When it’s really cold, the light in the morning takes on a peculiar quality. It’s an intense whiteness overlaid with a transluscent pink veil that lights the ice-encased tree branches as if they were beginning to burn.

When it’s really cold, the sky sky shows all the seasons; winter white near the horizon, then cornflower blue for spring, then clear summer blue then smokey autumn blue at the peak of the dome.

When it’s really cold, there’s an odd sourceless mist near the ground first thing in the morning that blurs the edges of the world, but only for a short time before drawing back and revealing them in a new clarity.

When it’s really cold, the snow takes on the consistency of sand. It snakes across the roads. The snow drifts become scoop-sided and knife edged and the pure, sparkling whiteness that is the source of all metaphors.


The Future of Animals

I think that people’s attitudes toward animals are changing, and this is a good thing. While I do not ascribe to the extreme (some might say “bizarre”) views of Peter Singer – which include, basically, indicating that chickens should vote and advocating via advanced logical structures that those of us in developed nations should crack off 25% of our respective GDPs to support those in developing nations – Singer introducted a concept in the 1960’s called “speciesism” to indicate that humans ought not approach their interactions with other living species from a biased, species-oriented viewpoint.

CavemanHere we have some PETA advocates, dressing as “cavemen” to protest the brutal treatment of rabbits raised for fur in Australia. This picture immediately reminded me of the cruel bias against the GEICO cavemen. According to a recent LA Times blog, “everybody hates PETA.”

Probably because their point of view is divergent from most others, and because they do gross and disgusting things (this caveman picture indicates the better sort of PETA attention-getting behavior). Continue reading


Rant: Heraldry in Fantasy – Get it Right, Dang it!

Something that bugs the heck out of me is when fantasy writers make up their own heraldry and it sucks.  I confess, I was a herald in the SCA years ago, and it made me obsessive about the quality of heraldry in fiction.

I don’t demand that the rules of heraldry be followed absolutely (there are multiple systems, for one thing), nor that fictional heraldry maintain enough difference so as not to conflict with existing heraldry.  That would be absurd.

All I want, and it isn’t much, is for the founding purpose of heraldry, specifically in a battlefield context, to be remembered.  Heraldry is a means of identification.  When warriors are armored head to toe, the pictures on their shields are the only way to tell friend from foe.

heraldry2heraldry1It makes me nuts to read descriptions of beautiful banners that couldn’t be made out from a distance of more than five yards.  Take a look at these two shields.  Which one would you be able to read from half a mile away, in motion, through a forest of spears?

I rest my case.


BATMAN #684: A Very Short Review

At this moment I suppose it is fair to say that Batman is the biggest DC hero going.  batman684A blockbuster movie will do that.  This means that it is to DC’s advantage to suck this brief phenomenom dry by reissuing old classics, plastering Batman everywhere,  repackaging popular runs, and in general beating the drum as hard as they can.  (This will get even worse if the late Heath Ledger wins a posthumous Oscar for his role as the Joker; look for DC to go briefly All Joker All The Time.)  Certainly there are masses of Batman titles and collections out there — I confess I am looking forward to see the Batman Annual collection, predicted to contain nuttier Bat stories like his various adventures on alien planets.

This latest issue of Batman is therefore a bizarre rarity — a stand-alone issue in which Batman does not actually appear at all.   To recap briefly, in the previous far-too-long arc Batman fought and defeated a villain but took sufficient hit points that he has either died* or is laying low to recover.  None of his usual intimates — Alfred, Robin, etc. — know his whereabouts.  This leaves his first lieutenant Nightwing (aka the original Robin aka Dick Grayson; his evolution is more complex than that of Eohippus and cannot be gone into now) to pick up the ball and run.

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Rise of the Lichens

I’m really looking forward to the release of the new movie Rise of the Lichens. We have far too few movies about lichens, algae, archeobacteria, fungus, mold, or pond scum, though yeast gets some play in the sponge of Hollywood.

Sponges themselves, on the other hand, get very little live-action screen time, which is quite a shame. Rumor has it, however, that the producer of the cult movie Sponge Diver is planning a sequel, Revenge of the Sponges, in which sponges and giant clams unite to immobilize their ancient enemies and scrub them to death.

I haven’t been able to put my hands on a screenplay for Rise of the Lichens, as it’s being very closely guarded by the studio, but the buzz on the movie is amazing.

Don’t read past the jump if you don’t want to see spoilers.

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Crossing Borders — Both National and Linguistic

Otras Miradas

My story, “Three O’Clock in the Morning” (“Las tres en punto de la mañana”), appears in Spanish in a new anthology, Otras Miradas, edited by Sergio Gaut vel Hartman.

Sergio is a science fiction writer and editor in Argentina. Among his many projects are two flash fiction blogs: Quimicamente Impuro, which consists of stories between 40 and 149 words, and Breves no tan Breves, stories between 150 and 750 words.

My story, “Statuary,” which is still available here on Book View Cafe, is now on Breves no tan Breves as “Estatuaria.”

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EVERGREEN: On Being a Professional Amateur #8: Barney as Narrator

More often than I’d like to tell I see manuscripts that read as if they were written for children, regardless of who the target audience is. Partly this is the result of what the writer chooses to tell the reader, partly it’s how the writer tells it.

Sample paragraph: Queen Amelia looked at the new ambassador. He looks familiar, she thought. What she didn’t realize was that the new ambassador was a disguised Lord Roberto.

“I am your new ambassador, Majesty,” announced Lord Roberto in his disguise.


What’s wrong with this perfectly grammatical set of sentences?

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