I continue to read

•August 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

What I’ve been doing while not posting here.

  • I’m 15 books into my 20 book goal for the year. I may just have to raise that goal up a few notches.
  • I’ve started quite a few reviews for this blog, but I seem to have lost all confidence in my ability to collect my thoughts…
  • thus I’ve been reading about literary analysis. We’ll see if that helps me gather my thoughts.
  • I started a tumblr to track the short fiction I read. See my reviews of The Emperor’s Old Bones by Gemma Files and The Best Science Fiction of the Year Three by Ken Macleod
  • I continue development on the next iteration of TagShadow, although data entry has stalled. I really need to bring some other people onto this project…

The Big Idea: Michael Marshall Smith

•May 30, 2013 • Leave a Comment

mentatjack:

I love reading “The Big Idea” on Scalzi’s blog and this book has been intriguing me for a while. I once did a reading at an open mic that applied this technique (via machine translation) to a rather personal email. I suspect the results here will be better.

Originally posted on Whatever:

It’s not unusual for authors to play with words in their stories. It’s slightly more unusual for authors to take chances with the meaning of their stories — and to see if the meaning of the stories will change if the words are changed, in a deliberate way. With The Gist, author Michael Marshall Smith is doing both. Here he explains how and why he’s doing it.

MICHAEL MARSHALL SMITH:

I don’t actually remember when or how or why I had the idea for The Gist—which is odd, as it’s ended up taking about ten years of my life. As a writer, I’m normally a pretty direct kind of guy. I don’t do fancy. I distrust artifice. I may wrestle with a Big Idea in a novel once in a while but it generally winds up being subservient to character and plot, and the books themselves are as…

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The Affinity Bridge eBook is now on sale for $2.99

•May 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

mentatjack:

I’ve not read this series, but I have the first 2 on my shelf.

Originally posted on Tor/Forge Blog:

George Mann’s The Executioner’s Heart, the latest in the Newbury & Hobbes Investigation series, is due out on July 9. This month we are making it easy to get started with the series by releasing the first ebook, The Affinity Bridge, for only $2.99.*

About The Affinity Bridge: Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, while ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen, and journalists.

But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side.

Queen Victoria is kept alive by a primitive life-support system, while her agents, Sir Maurice Newbury and his delectable assistant…

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Science: Dealing with Data (misplaced draft 3/6/11)

•May 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

A data archivist would be a mix of librarian, IT expert, and physicist…

This is a job that sounds awesome to me. The proposal to create such a position on particle physics research teams was made in the first of a series of articles on “dealing with data” in the February 11th issue of Science. Normally I just read through the abstracts and skim the occasional article, but I was pretty excited to spend some time with this topic. I manage a ton of data as part of my day job and I spend some of my free time working on Tag Shadow, which involves collecting and analyzing data on books and stories.

The second article discusses how techniques for visualizing and analyzing data developed for astronomy have been applied to medicine and vice versus. This got me thinking of the work my friend Justin does as well as my misplaced aspirations at becoming an astrophysicist. The third article profiles a company called Kaggle that runs competitions to improve the analysis of data, much like the Netflix prize.


I have WAY too many drafts that I never got around to posting for one reason or another. I figured I’d share.

Review: Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts

•May 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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I worked in the theater department while I was in college. I also worked with University Computing and a coworker there, Skip, had an interesting project with the local blacksmith. Add in all my friends that were obsessed with the SCA and Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts had a rather nostalgic pull on me. My wife will like the Northwest setting, but for me all that nostalgia pretty much superimposed this story on the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. My mind does weird things with settings.

It’s hard not to compare this book to Norse Code (review). They came out around the same time and both draw heavily on Norse Mythology. Norse Code was definitely more my type of book, a tangle of sub genres and dense with ideas. Black Blade Blues is literally a tale of a magical sword being used to slay a dragon. You don’t get much more core fantasy than that. Also, not that much of a spoiler if you happen to glance at the cover.

The strength of Black Blade Blues lies in its main character. Sarah Beauhall is many things before she becomes a dragon slayer. First, she’s distinctly working class, holding down 2 jobs to make ends meet. She’s a blacksmith by day and the pro master for a very indie movie theater in the evenings. She’s got a beautiful girlfriend and a ton of baggage from her very conservative upbringing. She’s also surrounded by people that seem to know more about the magical aspects of the world than she does.

As more and more magic enters the story, Sarah resists. Part of that magic is Norse Mythology and part of it is love and in both cases she resists. She drives herself more than a little emotionally ragged and makes plenty of bad choices. The first two thirds or so of the book follows this roller coaster and then the stakes are raised. The big battle at the end is gritty and epic despite it’s relatively small scale.

The world that’s been established for this series is pretty traditional urban fantasy. I like the working class emphasis although there are plenty of side characters with money. I actually appreciate the “magic and technology don’t mix” trope although it was handled rather erratically in this case. I like the structure of the story – tight 1st person on Sarah with the occasional 3rd person chapters to fill us in on other characters – definitely gave the world room to breathe. I like how much damage is done to important characters. I feel like Pitts could pull a GRRM and kill off a point of view character. Probably not Sarah. I think there are at least 3 more books. I actually enjoyed Sarah in the heavily character sections, but I look forward to her spending more time kicking ass and less time destroying relationships in future installments. I’m also curious what the short story version of this was like. May have to track down that anthology.

BookStore-BookBlogger Connection

•May 16, 2013 • 1 Comment

I just discovered BookStore-BookBlogger Connection. Very cool project. I’ll let them explain in their own words:

If you have a book blog, and one or a few of your reviews are specific to a title, contain “blurb-able” material (a sentence or two), and you would like to participate, go check out the I’m a Book Blogger tab up top.

If you are a book store owner, and would like to use READER reviews to promote the books in your shop, take a look at our ever growing list of books that we have blurbs for, and the information in the I’m a Book Store tab.

I’ll definitely be submitting some blurbs.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction and The Finite Canvas

•May 15, 2013 • 1 Comment

I was adding The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection to TagShadow and got sidetracked by one of the stories that’s available to read online.

The Finite Canvas by Brit Mandelo is an intense story that revolves around a conversation between two women. They tell each other stories and are drawn to each other by a need they share. It’s way more bloody and awesome than that sounds and I highly recommend it.

 
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