Except some of it doesn't seem to be, o hai, I am now making an effort, it is more that various academic things (seminars, conferences, etc) that I had flagged up in my diary ages ago finally came up and were all within the space of a few weeks, I don't know, it's the 'like buses' phenomenon. And some of them I did do some social interaction at and others I just slipped in and out, more or less.
Have booked up, what I was havering about, the annual conference in one of my spheres of interest that I was usually wont to go to but have missed the (I think) last two because I was not inspired by the overall theme that year. And it's not so much that I'm not inspired by this year's theme, it's more 'didn't they do something very similar a few years ago and I did a paper then, and don't really have anything new to say on the subject', so I didn't do that, but I think that it would be a useful one to go to to try and get me back into the groove for that thing that the editor at esteemed academic press was suggesting I might write and talk to people (if I can remember how to do that thing) and hear what's going on, and so on.
Also had a get-together with former line manager, which between the two of us and our commitments involves a lot of forward planning, but it was very nice to do it.
Have also done some (long) and (a bit less) outstanding life admin stuff, which I both feel pleased about and also as if I haven't actually done anything, which is weird.
Did I mention, getting revised article off last week, just before deadline? and then got out of office email from the editor saying away until end of month. WHUT. The peeves were in uproar.
And generally, I am still working out what I do with the day when it does not begin with posting an episode of Clorinda's memoirs and go on with compiling the next one. Okay, there are still snippets to come, but they come slowly.
What I read
Melisande Byrd His Lordship Takes a Bride: Regency Menage Romance (2015), very short, did what it says on the tin, pretty low stakes, even the nasty suitor who molests the female protag in a carriage (the Regency version of Not Safe In Taxis) just disappears. The style was not egregiously anachronistic (apart from one or two American spellings) but a bit bland.
Janet Malcolm, Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers (2013) - charity shop find. Some of the essays were of more interest to me than others, but all very well-written.
On the go
Matt Houlbrook, Prince of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook (2016). I depose that somebody whose scams got rumbled and who was banged up in various institutions for his crimes is not exactly trickster royalty. He then went allegedly straight and got into journalism, partly writing up the inside stories of the crime world, but these are very much complicated by the author as to their authenticity and did he actually write them. While he was more of a career criminal than the opportunistic upperclass louts in the McLaren book mentioned last week, he did have claims to gentility, but again, so not Raffles The Amateur Cracksman.
I'm currently a bit bogged down in it, which may be a reflection of the author's own experiences in trying to write about somebody who lived by lying, had numerous false identities, etc etc (which are very much foregrounded).
Simon R Green, Moonbreaker (2017) - came out this week, I succumbed.
Also started one of the books for review.
There's a new Catherine Fox out tomorrow (allegedly)...
How about, not?
Do we not get the impression that he has a very halcyon vision of what working on the land might involve? I suspect that there are not enough lovely organic farms practising biodynamic agricultural methods to take up anything like the numbers of intending students there are each year and a lot of them would end up working in agribusiness enterprises (which I suppose might be a salutory awakening, or not).
Also, would not much of the work be seasonal? What would they do the rest of the time?
Might there not be objections from the local communities?
I also think of the lack of amenities in many rural parts, e.g. no or inadequate public transport: in the evenings, not in the least worn-out from hours of back-breaking toil for poverty wages, maybe they'll gather round and sing folk songs and dance traditional folk dances and practice folk crafts?
And actually, I don't think this is true:
We also know that without contact with nature we will not form an attachment, we will not learn to love it.
See the rise of the notion of the healing powers of nature and the pastoral way of life in Britain as the society became increasingly urbanised, and therefore romanticised the supposedly more simple and harmonious existence of country life.
I have a feeling that people who live close to nature know exactly how dreadful nature can be. Tetanus! Anthrax! entirely natural.
My second novel,
Arabella and the Battle of Venus
, sequel to the Andre Norton Award winning
Arabella of Mars
, comes out this week! The official release date is July 18, but I have seen copies in two bookstores already. You can buy it from Powell's, University Book Store, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Your Local Independent Book Store, or Amazon.
Is there an ebook? An audiobook?
The ebook of Arabella and the Battle of Venus should release simultaneously with the hardback, from all the major ebook vendors, without DRM. I haven't seen any sign of the audiobook yet, but for the previous book it followed the hardback release by a few weeks.
Are you planning a book tour?
Yes! Here are the planned stops:
- July 18, 2017: Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, Portland, Oregon.
- July 20, 2017: University Book Store, Seattle, Washington.
- July 22, 2017: Borderlands Books, San Francisco, California.
If any of these events is local to you, please come if you can. There will be music, costumes, and giveaways! Come in costume! Tell your friends!
What's the book about?
From the publisher: The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in Arabella and the Battle of Venus, the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine’s swashbuckling sci-fi, alternate history series!
Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.
To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.
Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire solar system if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.
What can I do to help?
You should buy the book, of course. Buying it on the release date is helpful but not necessary. If you can't buy it, borrow it from the library. If you can't find it at your local library or bookseller, ask them to carry the book. Also, it's extremely helpful if you post a review on Goodreads, Amazon, your own blog, or anywhere else people might see it. It's okay if you don't like the book! Even a negative review can be helpful if you say why you didn't like it. (Reviewer: "I hated this book! It has Martians and airships and girls dressing as boys! Yuck!" Reader: "Cool, that's just what I love!") And please mention the book to your friends online and off.
Where should I buy the book? Is paper better than ebook?
Wherever and in whatever format you like to buy books. I get the same money wherever you buy it, and I don't care whether you read it on paper or on screen. There are benefits to me if you buy it on Amazon, but personally I'd prefer it if you would support your local independent book store. Or you could get it from Powell's, which is my local independent book store. You can even order a signed edition from Powell's, which I will sign for you at my reading on July 18.
How is Arabella of Mars doing?
Very well, thank you! It won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy and was nominated for the Oregon Book Award, Locus Award, and Compton Crook Award. Sales have been quite satisfactory, and the mass market paperback was released on May 30.
Will there be a book 3?
Yes! I just submitted the first draft last week, and it should be out about the same time next year. This third book, which is currently titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos but might be called Arabella the Traitor of Mars, concludes Arabella's story, but there are more tales which could be told about other people in other times and places of Arabella's world.
How are you doing?
As you know, the last year has been an extremely difficult one for me. But I am doing better, and Arabella's success has been a great comfort. I thank all of you for your support of me and of the book.
Doesn't say how long this charmer has been running a business, if you can call it that, but what I should have liked to have seen would have been a face-off between him and Driff Field, author of successive editions (last in 1995) of the idiosyncratic Driff's Guide to All The Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookshops in Britain (these are probably still worth reading if you ever come across copies, even though the information on actual bookshops is presumably waaaay out of date):
Hugely successful for its wit and wide coverage of the field, the guide was nonetheless chaotic, idiosyncratic and often sarcastic, with entries such as: "the b[oo]ks are slowly transforming themselves back into rags"; "judging by body temp, shop seems to have expired in 1930"; "I could smell a bargain, pity was I had a cold that day"; "owner has been unwell recently with bad back (possibly caused by turning on the customers once too often)".or at least how Driff would have written him up.
Yet another paean to the 'return' of the physical book and the allure of the bookshelves: My bookshelf says who I am – and a Kindle cannot do that.
Well, that depends whether your bookshelves do say who you are - mine, I depose, say 'I am large, I contain multitudes' - and whether you want this revealed to any casual observer - though I daresay anyone wishing to decode oursin from her bookshelves would have to be in and out of several rooms and up and down staircases.
(Also, of course, we may not have physical shelves to browse but we have our virtual ones, no?)
Today’s unlimited information makes the boundedness of bookcases profoundly comforting. My inner librarian is also soothed by arranging books. When my young children go to bed and I’m confronted by their daunting mess, my favourite activity is tidying their bookcase.*looks around at piles on floor* And not even the excuse of having small children.
Me, myself, today, I was actually doing something that might be considered my inner archivist at work - going through what I cannot even with any accuracy describe as my files, to bring some order into various matters of life admin, accumulated over a considerable period. The cobblers' children...
Bread during the week: brown oatmeal.
Saturday breakfast rolls: from the wholewheat nut bread recipe in James Beard, cutting down on the amount of sweetener he seems to think necessary - sugar AND honey!!! Nice. Haven't made these for yonks.
We stayed in Saturday evening and I made the following meal: starter of healthy-grilled asparagus and hard(ish)-boiled quails' eggs, sprinkled with a dukkah-type dry dressing of toasted sesame and sunflower seeds + pinenuts, crushed in a mortar; then smoked swordfish (which I had happened to spot in the organic butchers/fishmongers), which I served with ground black pepper and lemon, and a couscous and raisins salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, heritage tomatoes sliced and tossed in wild pomegranate vinegar with salt, sugar and basil (maybe it's me, but do heritage tomatoes, whatever their colour and shape, all taste like tomatoes?), and a hot cucumber pickle thing from one of my books of Japanese cooking - cut the cucumber in 4 lengthways, cut out the seeds, chop into batons, stirfry briefly in sesame oil with dried chile, add a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar (recipe also says salt, which I consider supererogatory with soy sauce) cook briefly, and leave to marinate for a bit.
Today's lunch: duck steaks, panfried and then rested as per instructions on packet, with Greek spinach rice (for some reason the rice was a bit too al dente), okra simmered with ginger, coriander and fish sauce, and padron peppers.
via liseuse. Why do I think this was compiled by somebody who has not been reading for as many decades as I have? (I am still considering that peach you are offering me.)
1. You currently own more than 20 books: I slightly shudder to think how long ago I passed that mark.
2. You currently own more than 50 books: vide supra
3. You currently own more than 100 books: vide supra
4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader: no, I switched to an e-reader for portability when on the move.
5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader: is this at all exceptional?
6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands: I used to have a book organisation system but with one thing and another much of it has fallen into chaos.
7. You’re currently reading more than one book: yes, but some are more backburnered than others.
8. You read every single day: I breathe every day too.
9. You’re reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz: I'm not actually trying to multitask here.
10. Your essentials for leaving the house: wallet, phone, keys, and
a book: unless I'm just going round the corner to the shops or to the gym, e-reader; also, Freedom Pass for London Transport.
11. You’ve pulled an all-nighter reading a book: no, but I've stayed up later than I intended.
12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again: no.
13. You’ve figured out how to incorporate books into your workout: WOT.
14. You’ve declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read: no, but there are occasions I may have wished I had.
15. You view vacation time as “catch up on reading” time: to some extent. Also, long journeys.
16. You’ve sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book: eeeeuuuuwwww, no.
17. You’ve missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book: yes.
18. You’ve almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book: not to my recollection.
19. You’ve laughed out loud in public while reading a book: once or twice.
20. You’ve cried in public while reading a book (it’s okay, we won’t tell): no.
21. You’re the one everyone goes to for book recommendations: I'm not sure this is a thing one can say about oneself.
22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy: what am I, some kind of missionary? I put my thoughts out there and people can make their own decisions.
23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it: good grief, no. Seriously poor ton.
24. If your friend doesn’t like the book you recommended, you’re heartbroken: oh, come on, how old are you, 6?
25. And you judge them. A little bit: de gustibus non est disputandum, seriously.
26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them: what are you, 6?
27. You’ve vowed to convert a non-reader into a reader: eeeeuuuuwww.
28. And you’ve succeeded: you have a great future ahead of you as a cult guru, but count me out.
29. You’ve attended book readings, launches, and signings: only when it's been mates of mine launching their book.
30. You own several signed books: a few, but mostly ones by friends.
31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street: some of them.
32. In fact, you have: no.
33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you’d choose your favorite writer: this supposes that there is one prime favourite. Also, quite a lot of my favourites are dead.
34. You own a first-edition book: a few, none, I think, that I went out specifically to collect rather than happening across a copy that was.
35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles: oh, come on.
36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day: no.
37. You have a “favorite” literary prize: I skorn them utterly.
38. And you read the winners of that prize every year: what, with my existing tbr pile?
39. You’ve recorded every book you’ve ever read and what you thought of it: life is too short.
40. You have a designated reading nook in your home: no.
41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor: what is this even. Okay, I do have a photo of Dame Rebecca on my wall: it was a present. Do piles of books count as home decor?
42. You gave your pet a literary name: what pet.
43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands: I will cop to that.
44. You’re a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you’re just texting: ditto.
45. You’ve given books as gifts for every occasion: birthdays, Valentine’s Day, graduations, Tuesdays...: not really.
46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can’t choose just one. You end up naming twelve books: and then adding afterthoughts.
47. You love the smell of books: yes.
48. You’ve binge-read an entire series or an author’s whole oeuvre in just a few days: or at least over the course of a few weeks.
49. You’ve actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book: I've never actually checked this.
50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you’ve finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure: not sure I would put it exactly like that.
I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. [p. 9]
All Systems Red is the first-person narrative of Murderbot, a self-hacked security cyborg -- 'SecBot' -- who, due to having disabled their governor module, is no longer forced to obey the commands of the Company . (Note the pronouns: Murderbot may not have what they primly refers to as 'sex parts' but they are very much a person, possibly more so than some of their human clients.)
( not spoilery )
In one of those buildings which are now part of one of the Institutionz of the Highah Learninz in the Bloomsbury area, and are really not entirely fitted for purpose when you take into account things like accessibility, because the entire row if not the whole square is probably Grade II listed and therefore limits what one can do with the internal arrangements, also precludes bulldozing the lot and building something new.
Also, actual conference took place in a space which has massive associational resonances (a member of the Bloomsbury Group wrote An Important Book in it) but is a) not air-conditioned and first thing was draughty because somebody opened the windows at the back and later on stuffy and soporific and b) acoustically awful, though I think some of the problem I had in hearing the first speaker was not just because I was sitting rather far back but because, although they may have been miked, they muttered. Less of a problem with subsequent speakers, though I did move further forward for the after-lunch sessions.
All in all, very interesting, slightly tangential to my general line of interests, but one of those subjects that demonstrates what very diverse approaches you can get with different people from different disciplinary fields looking at a particular subject.
Also, managed to ask at least one question during discussions, and had a good conversation with one of the speakers at tea-time.
Although some weeks ago attendees were asked to advise on dietary restrictions re lunch, the day before there was an email saying, oops, no catering, find yourself. So as it was just around the corner, went to former Place of Work where I still have the entree.
Where I encountered a former colleague and had some discussion of Recent Changes - possibly it is not quite the thing for someone who was there as long as I was to moot the idea that people staying forever in the same workplace tend to get ossified, as does the place itself: but I think I perhaps did somewhat to counteract that effect by having Outside Scholarly Interests, visiting archives for research purposes, etc? Maybe? (unlike certain colleagues whom I suspect still hang on and will do until their lifeless corpse is discovered in the stacks.)