First Hugo Casualty

Six Wakes is the first novel I picked up with the express purpose of deciding if I would nominate it for a Hugo.  It only took me a few pages to decide that I would not.  It took me nearly halfway before I decided not to even finish it.  I don’t think I’m being pickier than usual, or feeling self-important about my new-found (new-bought) influence in the SFF world, but I did fret about putting this one down completely.  The writing is…not great (noticeable from the first few pages).  It certainly doesn’t live up to the premise, which is pretty cool, but maybe the book could have been saved by a good editor.  Maybe it WAS saved, and this was as far as she could take it.  I stuck with it because I liked the story and figured I could still find out what happens – just because I may not nominate something doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable read – but then I stopped enjoying it.  I started skimming.  !!!

Tip for Future Me: if you’re skimming a book because you want to know the end but you can’t handle reading every word, put it down and look up the plot summary online.  Save your reading time for books you want to read.

Anyway, I feel guilty about it, but I put the book down for my own sanity and then promptly read the plot summary online.  And now I know the end…and I’m kind of glad I didn’t keep reading.  It doesn’t sound like it pays off.

Side effects with drifts

A side effect of working from home is that I don’t pay that much attention to the weather.  It’s cold out?  Okay.  It’s raining?  Whatever.  I can stay in the comfy coziness of my own home, no worries about commutes or clearing snow off the car or whether the office will be open.  The downside is that whatever the weather, as long as I have power, I’m working.  No snow days.

Speaking of snow days, imagine my surprise when I discovered this morning that, in addition to the RIDICULOUSLY COLD TEMPERATURES we’ve had lately, that John and the locals assure me are most definitely out of the ordinary, no sirree, it never gets this cold here in the Ocean State, nuh uh – where was I? Oh – in addition to the cold, we’re in the path of a blizzard.  A winter hurricane.  A bomb cyclone.  (I can’t make this stuff up.)  What’ll it bring us?  High winds and 8 to 12 inches of snow.  What’ll come after?  MORE COLD WEATHER.

Before you tell me I got what I asked for by moving to New England, hear this: I wouldn’t trade it.  Shocked?  Me, too, a little.  But I woke up this morning to clear blue skies.  The sun has been shining for days on end.  Sure, it’s cold, and sure, we’ll get a day of snow and no sunshine, but the sun will come back.  I just checked the weather in Eugene – nearly 50 degrees for the high for the next week, but you know what else?  Rain.  Every day for a week.  Where’s the sun?  I’ll tell you.  It’s here.

As for the cold, I’ll just stay inside.  Our heat works.  I have books.  I have internet.  I actually went grocery shopping on New Year’s Eve, so we’re all stocked up (although I’m a little amused that food was that far down my list of hibernation priorities).  And I’ll buy real winter boots with fuzzy warm linings and gloves and mittens that keep my hands warm.  I’ll be the coziest.

I will be taking this duty very seriously

Last summer, Erik told us that WorldCon (the World Science Fiction Convention, if you’d like to be formal about it) is going to be in San Jose this coming summer.  WorldCon is where they present the Hugo Awards (awarded to the best science fiction and fantasy of the year before, in a lot of different categories), and the winners are chosen by members (anyone who goes to the convention, plus a few others).  Like, I’m going to be able to vote and help decide who wins a Hugo this year.  Plus it’s a big convention with a ton of my favorite authors, and so, pretty much since the day Erik told us about it (which might have been during our last visit), we’ve been planning to go.

I finally bought our memberships just before the end of the year.  (John and I are members of the World Science Fiction Society now, and at the moment, I think I might keep that up.  Seems like a thing I should be a member of.)  I could have bought our memberships (giving us access to the convention) at any time, but I was prompted to do it before New Year’s by one very cool thing I found out in the nick of time: becoming a member before the end of the year means that not only do we get to vote, we get to nominate.

You can’t see me jumping up and down through your browser, I know, but you can imagine it.  I’ve been squeeing in some form, inside or out, for the past four days.

I have read 13 books/novellas in the last year that are eligible for Hugo Award nomination.  I can nominate up to 5 in each of the 15-ish categories, although I won’t hit them all.  Some categories are for things like Best Editor or Best Semi Pro Zine, something I really can’t judge.  I’ll focus on novels, novellas, graphic novels, movies, short stories, and stuff like that.  They haven’t announced when nominations are due, but until I hit that deadline (maybe February or March?), I will only be reading Hugo-eligible works (which is any science fiction/fantasy/horror published in 2017).

I’m so excited!

It’s a small world after all

We went out New Year’s Eve with one of John’s high school friends, his wife, and a bunch of their friends.  During small talk with the husband of one of Lindsay’s riding friends, we discovered that he (and a friend who was also present) went to high school with our friend Adam from college.  Weird?  Definitely yes.  Also weird?  The four of us (me, John, and the two friends) took a picture and texted it to Adam’s DC cell phone.  Except it’s not Adam’s DC cell phone anymore, so some random person was super confused.  Polite, but super confused.

We had a great time and a fun New Year’s Eve, and today we did nothing.  Caught up on some Doctor Who, made a brisket, read a bit, and I really really really don’t want to rejoin the real world tomorrow.

Don’t make me!

Shortest review

Live action Beauty and the Beast: meh.  I don’t see the point of a shot-for-shot remake at any time, and the singing is better in the cartoon.  I mean, it’s fine, but if you want to watch Beauty and the Beast, just watch the 1991 cartoon.

All the books I want to read should be 99 cents all the time

Today is our anniversary, but what I want to talk about is e-book prices on Amazon and what I deserve just for being me.  I mean, obviously, I deserve all good things, right?  That should go without saying, but my sense of entitlement extends to sales on Amazon.  I’m inordinately annoyed when I sort my book list by price and find that none of the books on it have gone on sale in the last 12 hours.  It’s like Amazon doesn’t WANT me to buy books.  Jeez!  This is the same sense of entitlement that led to me bitching when Amazon took away my ability to sort my list by price, except worse because how ridiculous is it for me to expect MY books to be on sale?  Plenty of other books go on sale every day – it’s not Amazon’s fault I don’t want to read those.

So yeah.  That’s today.

Connecticut seems small but OH MY GOD IT NEVER ENDS.

Things I should do now that I’m home:

  • Unpack suitcases
  • Start laundry
  • Put the car snacks away
  • Put the presents away
  • Pick up the random clutter we left behind in our hurry to get out the door Friday night
  • Clean up the dripping mess we tracked on the floor inside the back door because our landlord didn’t send anyone to shovel or salt the driveway or the back steps.

Things I’m going to do because it took us 6 and a half hours to get home instead of 5 because I-95 SUCKS:

  • Sit in a chair.
  • Eat the Chinese food that will be delivered any minute or so I hope because the car ride took forever and I’m hungry.
  • Sit in the chair some more.
  • Look at the wall because I’m too tired to brain.
  • Stop looking at the wall and try to watch some TV that doesn’t require concentration.

Okay, I might clean up the mess by the back door.  There’s a towel RIGHT THERE.  I can manage that, as long as I’m waiting for food.

He must have learned in the womb

I let Graham touch my laptop for a bit this evening, and he found every neat shortcut there is.  No kidding, this 15-month-old taught me the shortcut to turn on airplane mode, the shortcut for zooming in and out, and how to make the desktop show me all my open windows using a pinching motion on the screen.

He’s a natural.

When I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

A correction is needed.  I have slandered the good name of the family.  (Maybe it’s libel, but slander sounds better.  Hush.)  Yesterday, I said “hardly anyone else enjoys Merry Axemas or the Brian Setzer Christmas albums as much as we do”.  I was wrong, and while I have already apologized profusely in person, I feel the need to make a public statement to remove any doubt that this family thoroughly enjoys the Brian Setzer Christmas albums.

I am sorry.  I was wrong.  And Brian Setzer rocks, although that was never in question.

If you want to hear the concert and you have SiriusXM, it’ll be on the Holly channel (channel 70) Christmas Eve at 3pm ET and at midnight ET (going into Christmas Day).  It’ll also be on the Outlaw Country channel (channel 60) tonight at 10pm ET, on Christmas Eve at noon ET, and on Christmas Day at 10am ET and 6pm ET.  It’s 90 minutes long, and it’s wonderful.

Best Christmas Drive

John and I have made the long (sometimes longer) drive to his family for Christmas for many many many years.  We take the opportunity to listen to our favorite Christmas albums, since hardly anyone else enjoys Merry Axemas or the Brian Setzer Christmas albums as much as we do.  Things usually work out pretty well elsewhere on the radio, too.  Our favorite songs come on, one year we happened to catch a broadcast of The Christmas Carol, and other stuff like that.

This year wins.  We had a five-hour drive in front of us, SiriusXM tuned to a news station, and we were not five minutes out of the house when we heard an ad for The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas concert, recorded live earlier this week, playing on some other channel at 8pm eastern.  It was just after 5pm.  Having seen his Christmas concert twice now, we weren’t going to miss that.  I set an alarm.

Guys, it was SO GOOD.  The sound was perfect – it felt like we were there, and the show was fantastic.  We had such a good time listening to it. It made our drive.  We showed up with big stupid grins on our faces instead of walking in the house all beat down from hours in the car.  It’s almost four hours later (this family stays up late), and I still feel the effects.  We’re going to track down that recording somehow.  I need it.

Testing the sunrise

Mom and Dad got us the sunrise alarm clock thing that wakes you up by simulating the sunrise next to your head, a thing I have wanted to try for YEARS.

Trial: Day 1

We tried it the first morning we got home, but that wasn’t really a good test.  We set the alarm late enough that the room was getting bright anyway.  Didn’t get the full effect.

Trial: Day 2

The NEXT morning, we set the alarm for 6am like usual, and it works!  We woke up gently, the room was lighter, and since it was only 5:59, I turned off the alarm before what is described as “gentle beeping” could begin.  But then, we were so comfortable and happy that we didn’t get up.  Went back to sleep for an hour, woke up too late for the gym, so we shut the light off and slept for another hour.  It was a lovely morning, but maybe the gentle beeping is necessary to get us out of bed.

Trial: Day 3

We set the alarm for 6 again and actually got up!  The gradual light really is nice, but “gentle beeping” my Aunt Sally*.  It’s not the all-out horrible alarm sound they always play on TV, but it’s not gentle, either.  The answer is yes, when it’s really that dark and cold outside of bed, the beeping is necessary no matter how nice the simulated sunrise.  It’s a shock, but it’s less of one.

Verdict after three days: I like the new alarm clock.

*Apologies to someone’s Aunt Sally.

Out of left field

You know Nielsen?  The company that’s been doing TV ratings since the invention of TV?  They sent us money.  In the mail.  I opened the envelope out of curiosity.  I would normally have just thrown it away, but we don’t even have cable – why on earth would Nielsen be contacting us?  Of course, it turns out they aren’t.  It’s addressed to “Providence Area Household”, which is technically us, but I feel like they don’t care about MY opinion.  And unexpectedly, two crisp dollar bills were looking at me from inside that envelope.  It’s an advance for the survey they’d like us to take.  Return the survey and they’ll send us an additional $5 in cash!  !!  !!!   There’s something weird about that.  Who mails cash?

Oooh, maybe I should fill out the survey and get the $5 just to have cash.  I hate going to the ATM.  So much so that I’m not sure I’ve been to one since we moved to Providence.  I don’t know where the nearest one is.  I don’t have anything against carrying cash (except that it makes my wallet bulky), but getting it is a pain.  Solution: put an ATM in my backyard.  Then I’ll have cash, and I won’t need Nielsen and their dollar bills.

They’re relying on me

Hey, guys.  I love you lots, and I’d love to catch up, but I’m at 88% on the latest Expanse novel, and I can’t put it down.  If I don’t keep reading, all sorts of awful things might happen to my people in there – it’s up to me to make sure they’re safe!  It’s a wonder I got through the workday.

Unveiling

Bird and Bird (see Figure A), who have been with us for three years now, have been shy about revealing their true names.

Figure A

I can’t blame them – they’ve basically been itinerant their whole lives.  Why trust the people who can’t be bothered to stay in one place?  Now that Bird and Bird (see Figure B) have joined them, though, they’re thawing a bit, and the four of them have let us in on the secret.  (Also, they gave permission for me to let YOU in.)

Meet Maria, Steve, Natasha, and Bucky, formerly Bird, Bird, Bird, and Bird.

They’re happy to meet you.

Please, sir, may I have some more?

I LOVE the books I just finished.  It’s a set of two by Seanan McGuire (who I enjoy more with every book).  Premise: fairy tales exist in the real world, anyone can suddenly be turned into one, and there’s a secret government agency trying to prevent these incursions because they cause trouble and kill people.  Fairy tales are grim, guys.

HOW GREAT IS THAT?

The first book (Indexing) was written as a serial, which is very occasionally annoying in novel form because some things get explained (lightly, but still) in more than one chapter, but it’s easy to overlook.  I don’t think the second one (Indexing: Reflections) was written that way.

I want more.  More characters, more fairy tales, more ways fairy tales can mess with the world, more ways fairy tales can be twisted to fit into the modern world.  MOAR!

I could have been cool AND warm

I guess I was paying more attention to the forecast in Kentucky than I was to our forecast because I had no idea it was supposed to snow last night and this morning.  We only got about an inch, but it was coming down when we woke up and that was enough to convince us to skip the gym.  (It shouldn’t be that easy to convince us to skip the gym.)  I had a moment of welcome-back-to-the-east-coast panic (everyone from Texas to Maine got snow last week – it’s not just New England), but then I remembered that this is the year (or maybe next year – we’ll see) that I get real, honest-to-goodness cold weather stuff.

I can’t have the coat I WANT because it sold out in less than 30 minutes the day it came out.

John wants this one.

Columbia made 1,980 of each of these (plus a Han Solo parka we don’t like as much), and even though they were $400 each, they were GONE.  The website said they were totally sold out online, but stores had a limited number, so I called three different stores.  I only got through to one place (in Minneapolis).  The guy said they had one XS Leia and one 2XL Luke left, but “I’m looking at a customer who has them both in her hands right now.”  It was 10:20 in the morning.  The store opened at 10.

John and I are holding out hope that they’ll make more of them someday.  Until then, I’ll just have to be cold in my totally not awesome normal coat.

Meeting expectations

You know what doesn’t come out of felt?  Coffee.  Especially sugary coffee.  And you know what doesn’t smell appealing?  Felt drenched in sugary coffee, even after it has dried.  But you know what’s better?  New felt that doesn’t smell like anything.

You know what’s a weird word?  Felt.

(I dumped coffee on my felt laptop case.  I ordered a new one.  It came today.  I’m happy again.)

You know what else is a weird word?  Knap.  Also, belvedere.

Beeeeelllllllll-ve-deeeeeeeerrrreeee.

That is the sound of my brain shutting down.  ‘Night!

I appreciate my life

Working from home gives me freedoms I haven’t really appreciated before.  No one can see me when I’m on the phone, so I have the freedom to roll my eyes when certain annoying people go on and on unnecessarily about something.  I have the freedom to drop my head into my hands.  I have the freedom to shout at my computer when certain emails come in or to walk away or to pace during phone calls or even make tea during meetings.  I can get actual WORK done during meetings that don’t require my full attention without appearing rude or self-important.

My self-control during the two days I was in the office, after a year and 9 months of freedom, was, if I may say so myself, impressive.

And I am SO GLAD to be home.

Portland is weirder than Providence

I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Unipiper.  I mean, we hadn’t until we moved to Oregon, so I don’t know why you would have.  In case this is your first introduction, he’s a guy in Portland who plays bagpipes while riding his unicycle.  The Unipiper.  He has a website.

He also made this video.  Cracks me up every time I watch it.  Thank you, Will, for sending it to John!