Archive for March, 2010

Miscellaneous Musings

Posted on 31 March 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , , |

Since it’s been a few days since my last post I feel you should get some explanation. I’m sure your imagination has not been working overtime and you haven’t noticed my absence and so I’ll just give you some material for your imagination and then head on into the whys and wherefores.

I could have been abducted by aliens, preferrably not the bug alien from MIB; although I wouldn’t have minded being abducted by ET, he was cute.

I could have gone on a long overseas trip with say…Johnny Depp. Maybe that’s my dreams talking and not your imagination.

Maybe my house was blown up!

The reality is much more mundane than any of those. I was actually preparing for the start of Passover and just didn’t have much time for anything else. I was cleaning my house to within an inch of it’s life and preparing food for 17 people on Monday night. I’ll take this opportunity to wish all Jews a happy Passover and hope you survive the Matzah. I will also take this opportunity to wish all those who celebrate it a good and safe Easter next weekend. This includes those who celebrate Greek Easter as it’s the same dates this year.

I have a number of posts waiting to be written. I’ve just finished reading A Nest of Occasionals by Tony Martin; you’ll have to wait a little to find out if I pan it or rave about it. I have an article about Arnold Zable coming up and also one about George Dreyfus’ new book, Don’t Ever Let Them Get You! I’m currently reading The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke and hope to finish it soon so I can scribble a few words about that as well. I’m also going to start writing some stuff down about pulp magazines as I’d like clear the box out and put the books away. If anyone knows of an encyclopedia about pulp magazines and the pulp publishing industry please comment here with the details as I’d really like to buy a copy to help with the details.

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Being a NYT Bestseller

Posted on 26 March 2010. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , |

I came across this Tweet “What’s it like to be a NYT bestseller?” posted by Writeitsideways and then a couple of minutes later, another by the same person “More on the reality of NYT bestsellers”.

Naturally I followed the links, read the articles and followed further links. What I found was author Lynn Viehl giving us the lowdown on the reality of being a New York Times bestseller and the royalty payments that come along with it. She even shows us scanned images of two of her royalty statements and explains them to us so we can see how much money she’s not getting. Bear in mind this is in America with US dollars and therefore things will be slightly different in Australia or any other country, the thing that will remain very similar is the process. It’s complicated and involves something called ‘maths’ which is a concept I have great difficulty with so I won’t explain any of that, you’ll have to go to her articles here and here if you’re interested.

The other thing that occurred to me when I saw the Tweets was how would it be from the books point of view. I happened to speak this out loud and DD said it would be rather confused as it would be split up into so many different ways. Just imagine this, you’ve got the one entity as it’s been printed together than split up into boxes and the boxes shipped to different places and then the boxes opened up and each book taken somewhere different. Just imagine how challenging it would be for one entity to have so many different parts in so many different places! It’s like having brains in each part of your body and when the body is split up it doesn’t die; so you’ve got the different legs and arms being sent to different places but each one can still feel and think. I’d really like to read the story of that book!

I hope the last paragraph wasn’t too confusing. I just have the ideas and sometimes they don’t translate too well to print.

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Posted on 24 March 2010. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , |

Punctuation is a wondrous invention. It helps with so many things…well, actually, it really only helps with reading and meaning, but I’d just like to exaggerate for a little. I’m always trying to improve my use of punctuation as I do like to ensure my meaning gets across to the reader in the correct manner. I’ve come across a few sites recently, with thanks to people on Twitter, which have helped my mission.

The Writer’s Butt Does Not Apply To Me illustrates a lost comma. Personally, I don’t want to eat Grandpa.
Thank you to Elizabeth S Craig.

Author, Terry Odell, directed me to a lovely page which illustrates how changing the punctuation can totally change how we read a sentence. I know this one is fairly old but it’s still good, visit Punctuation for Men and Women for a look.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take note of the lovely person who directed me towards the The Oatmeal so I can’t credit them; it is nice to be able to use them correctly after all these years.

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Dracula – The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Posted on 22 March 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , |

Today I finished reading a book, yes, it’s a cause for celebration for some people. It’s certainly a cause for celebration for me as I should soon get some decent sleep. I really shouldn’t read horror as it gives me rather strange dreams. Dracula – The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt is the first official sequel to Dracula by Bram Stoker. It is written by Dacre Stoker, the great grandnephew of Bram Stoker, and Ian Holt, the biggest Dracula fan in the world. I previously read and then scribbled a few things about Bram Stoker’s book and now it is time to write a few words about both books.

Dracula – The Un-Dead is a great book. It shows how brilliant Bram Stoker’s original book was while filling in some gaps and dealing with the inconsistencies created by Bram Stoker’s book and other Dracula books, movies and plays, it also makes it seem very real by bringing Bram Stoker, himself, into the story as well as various historical events and people. It highlights the dramatic tendencies Bram had and also how brilliant he was with keeping the tension going right through to the end. In Dracula – The Un-Dead the tension was still going right to the final paragraph and we’re left on tenterhooks even though we know what will happen as it’s a very historical event.

The only problem I have with it is the language. Bram Stoker’s book was set in about 1893 and the language showed that, it was rather stilted without slang and was what most other books set in that era have been. Dacre and Ian, on the other hand, have written in the style of today, despite the book being set in 1912. I’m not saying there’s words like lol or rofl, which there very well could be as it was only published in 2009, but it was a simpler style much more in keeping with books written today.

So, all you horror fans, run to your nearest store and buy it, make sure you have Dracula as well and read them back to back. If your shop doesn’t have it make sure they order it in from Harper Collins. They are both must read books for horror fans.

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Tiptree Awards

Posted on 20 March 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , , , , |

Seeing the Tiptree Awards as sent to me by The Bookslut on Twitter reminded me of a conversation I was having with a customer four years ago. She was buying books for her partner, who was going through gender reassignment, and had a whole list of books she wanted to read. It came as little surprise to me that most of them were fantasy with a sprinkling of science fiction in there. It was a very interesting list and when I heard about the Tiptree Awards it occurred to me to publish the list here so other people can get the benefit of their research. I took the time to email my customer and seek permission which was granted.

The list is as follows (I’ve taken out any really objectionable words):

Aldiss, Brian. The Dark Light Years (1964)
The primal urge
The hand-reared boy

Bujold, Lois McMaster. Ethan of Athos (1986) –. Rest of the Miles Vorkosigan series includes other gay, hermaophriditic, and transgendered characters. See especially The Warrior’s Apprentice; The Vor Game; Mirror Dance; A Civil Campaign (transgender). In Barrayar and Mirror Dance there is some discussion of a major character’s bisexuality

Buttler, Octavia Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago
Aliens land on the earth and attempt to merge biologically with humankind. They know a third gender and try to incorporate the humans. Adventure driven novel which explores the positions of both groups who resist that change and those who conform to collaborate with the aliens. Octavia Buttler’s multiethnic and racial perspective adds to the depth of the novel.

Flewelling, Lynn.
–. The Bone Doll’s Twin (Tamir v.1) [bisexual tensions; protagonist is female raised, and magically disguised even from herself, as a boy]
–. Hidden Warrior (2003) (Tamir v.2)

Gaiman, Neil
Weird and sometimes gay and transgender individuals can be found in this short story collection my Neil Gaiman.
Also lot’s of werewolves and creatures from T. Lovecrafts universe. Funny, intelligent, some sci-fi, some horror.

Hall, Radclyffe. “Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself” (1934) (a lesbian WWI nurse ends up in the body of a prehistoric cave man)

Heinlein, Robert A. I will fear no evil 1971
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein
The Door into Summer
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs (Hardcover)
Job: A Comedy of Justice
The Green Hills Of Earth
Podkayne of Mars (Ace Science Fiction) (Paperback)

Le Guin, Ursula. –. The Left Hand of Darkness. (1969) (Classic work about a race that embodies both genders in each person; see also the other Gethenian stories.)
–. “The Matter of Seggri” (in a world with few men, men and women are kept separate; young men are encouraged to form homosexual relationships, and sometimes adult men to also; women form sexual and love relationships with each other; heterosexuality is ritualized & reproductive)
–. “Unchosen Love” and “Mountain Ways” (Both stories take place in the Ekumen universe, on the planet O), where marriages are of four people, two men and two women, with four pairings between them (two heterosexual, two homosexual), across “moieties” (traditional divisions between “morning” and “evening” people). In these two stories same-sex romances are the centerpieces of complex love / family relationships.)

Leigh, Stephen. Dark Water’s Embrace (lesbian, transgender; on another world hetero-sex doesn’t quite seem to work. homosexuality is officially discouraged & punished since it seems to be non-reproductive, but what do you do with seeming hermaphrodites?)
–. Speaking Stones (sequel to Dark Water’s Embrace, and continuing the story of the 3-sexed world. It’s worth it to point out that the “midmale” (the in-between sex) of the humans are often described as more similar to females than to males; and in fact they writing of them makes them seem more female than male. So their relationships with women feel like lesbian relationships.)

Lynn, Elizabeth. –. Watchtower (1979) (Chronicles of Tornor 1) (cross-dressing “ghyas,” homosexual passion, & cool lesbian sidekicks, in some of the best fantasy written)
–. Dancers of Arun (1979) (Chronicles of Tornor 2) (gay boy inc*st, sort of, in some of the best fantasy written)
–. The Northern Girl (1980) (the conclusion to the Chronicles of Tornor trilogy)

G R R Martin (song of ice and fire series)
Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords, feast for crows
Set to become one of the next classics in epic fantasy, there is a very small fraction on gay, lesbian content and Arja, one of the main protagonists that crossdresses as a boy,
to save her life and starts to live as a boy, while partially striving to retain their female identity. The dimension of this work merits comparison with Tolkiens Lord of the Rings.

McCaffrey, Anne
The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
The Ship Who Searched (Baen Science Fiction) by Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey (Paperback)
The Ship Who Won (Paperback) by Jody Lynn Nye, Anne McCaffrey

McHugh, Maureen.–. Mission Child. (No gay sex, but a transgendered protagonist; a woman who, disguising herself as a man, then finding her own “two-spirit” self, then trying to be a woman, then giving up & becoming sort-of a man, sort-of a neuter.)

McKee Charnas, Suzy
Conqueror’s child
Won the Tipptree award. A boy who has to crossdress as a girl to save his life in a society of separatist women. Savannah, swamps, cities built on the ruins of an old currupt civiliasation, which detroyed itsself in a terrible war.

Pratchett, Terry
Feet of Clay – Also in Jingo, the Last Continent and the Fifth Elephant transgender is a major element in the new Terry Practchett books. Humorous, intelligent fantasy which reflects the struggles of coming out, transition and bigotry and gives a good laugh at the same time. Thoroughly recommended to brighten up your day, also a good gift for holidays, birthdays to everyone. Best are Feet of clay and Fifth elephant, but also the others are not bad. In fact Terry has already made it onto the top of Britain’s general bestseller lists.

In Jingo Corporal Nobbs from the City disguises as a woman and we can watch him to experiment with cross-dressing and exploring his female side on Jingo and the Fifth Elephant. A parallel string is the journey of the dwarven women, who are forced by custom to be not distigushable from men, to a proud expression of femalehood, which is started in Feet of Clay. Suffering gender-biased restrictions and discriminations however do not prevent dwarfs to discrimitate against werewolves. At the same time the City watch is solving crime cases of high politically impact, in a world were equal opportunity policy might encompass Vampires, Trolls (which own Si-based-brains), the undead and maybe even Golems. The balance of humor, thoughtful philosophy, fantasy adventure story and political satire is most likely the foundation of the sucess of these books.

Russ, Joanna
The Female Man (Bluestreak) (Paperback)
Extra (Ordinary) People (Hardcover)
Extraordinary People (1984), The Zanzibar Cat (1984), and The Hidden Side of the Moon (1987).

Scott, Melissa
Shadow man – What’s better – a world where gender identity is characterized by your genital anatomy (and the one of your partner if sexual identity is concerned) or one where your identity is determined by your personality? Intersexed protagonist, gay and gender bending characters and full of thoughtful sociopolitical analysis. A rival to the classic a “left hand side of darkness”.

Smith, Cordwainer
The world of Cordwainer Smith is inhabited by FTMs and cat-human hybrids. Besides he’s one of the major early writers in the field of Sci-fi. Norstilla the novel and the collection of short stories are both excellent choices, the hardcover also merits the price.
The instrumentality of mankind

Southall, Ivan
Bread and honey

Springer, Nancy Madbond, Mindbond, Godbond

Thomas, Thomas T. Crygender (1992)

Varley, John.
–. Lots of Varley’s work depicts transgender characters, multi-gender societies, and bi/omni-sexual characters.

Wells, John J. [pseud. for Marion Zimmer Bradley & Juanita Coulson], “Another Rib,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (June, 1963) [when an all-male crew returns from outer space to discover Earth destroyed, they have to figure out how to reproduce with each other]

Westerfeld, Scott Polymorph 1977

Westerfeld, Scott. Polymorph (1997) – (a shape-changer, born woman, can be male or female; has lesbian, straight, and gay sex; the protagonist seems to identify as female. at one point she actively resents a shape-changer who identifies as male butting in on dyke-turf. nice sf’al dyke bar scene.)

Williams, A. Susan, et al The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Lythande”

Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Science Fiction and Fantasy (Paperback)
by Camilla Decarnin, Eric Garber, Lyn Paleo (Editor)

The Riddle of Gender : Science, Activism, and Transgender Rights (Hardcover)
by Deborah Rudacille

Transgender Emergence: Therapeutic Guidelines for Working With Gender-Variant People and Their Families (Haworth Marriage and the Family)
by Arlene Istar Lev (Paperback – April 2004)

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Triocon 2010 – Melbourne

Posted on 19 March 2010. Filed under: Conventions I've attended | Tags: , , |

Some of you will know that Triocon is on this weekend and some of you will know the fun and excitement to be had there. For those that don’t here is a basic rundown on some of the fun; I’ve had some coaching from DD who attended Doctor Who Downunder last year, also run by First Contact Conventions.

Seating is allocated depending on what you pay for. VIP tickets are placed in the first two rows and receive other extras.

Tickets are issued at the door.

Last year for the Doctor Who convention attended by Peter Davison and Mark Strickson they had a replica TARDIS. Peter Davison mentioned it was too big. When the stage was clear it was possible to walk up there and take photos of the TARDIS, DD didn’t take a camera, some kind person took photos of her stepping into the TARDIS and hasn’t managed to send her the photos so somewhere in Melbourne there are photos of her launching herself on her next adventure.

Clips will be played, discussions happen, a question and answer session and videos played during lunch. There will be time for autographs and photos both will cost extra on the day. Last year DD paid for a photo with Peter Davison so we now have a good idea of his height.

There will be an auction and I do warn you about this. Some choice memorabilia will be available. If there are any badges, I request you bid on them for me.

In the foyer there will be stalls from various associated shops and shops; they will be more than happy to deal with you.
If you heckle with too many factoids you will receive the label of ‘nerd’. Some people wear this label with pride.

If you see this in time and there is space you’ll be able to attend and have enormous amount of fun. If you don’t, then just keep an eye on First Contact Conventions for other fabulous conventions. The next one listed is Star Trek in August.

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Nostalgic Books

Posted on 16 March 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , |

I sell books that I know about which means I won’t sell romance or chick lit. A lot of the books I know, and love, are ones I read in my early years as a child, then a tween, and finally as a teen and then further on into my young adulthood. I have grown and added some authors but a lot of the books I stock because I knew and loved them. If you pop across to the website and click on the different categories you’ll see some of them there. There’s The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Enid Blyton and so many more. Some of them are part of a series and others are stand alone books. I do try to fill in the categories with books I haven’t read and when time permits will pop a few books from the younger categories into my reading (sounds like I’m popping pills, and yes, reading is an addiction) and blog about them. I haven’t had much time for this recently as I have so many other books on my To Be Read pile.

One thing I have noticed is that many of the series I enjoyed are selling very nicely. I’m obviously not the only person wanting to re-read these books. A friend on Twitter let me in on this article. Depending on how you classify a baby boomer I do actually make it onto the list and enjoyed many of the same books. If you’re wondering why you’re having trouble finding a particular book from your childhood you now know why.

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Book Shops

Posted on 15 March 2010. Filed under: Interesting websites, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

I’ve been having such fun just now. There’s a couple of photos circulating and my friends are really enjoying them. This one is in Buenos Aires. It’s in an old 1920s theatre and the possibilities are endless. I would have liked to embed the photo here but they’ve done something clever and it’s not possible.

So, this next one is a video and I’ll send you through to The Bookshop Blog to watch this one. It’s a bookshop in an apartment in the US and it’s truly an education. You can read more of my writing there as I’m one of their regular writers.

At this point you can stop and have a think about your local bookshop and what makes it a bookshop. Is it the shelves? Or maybe it’s the types of books, sometimes it could be the people behind the counter. This article is about the layout and the building. I’ve participated in a number of conversations about second hand bookshops this week and yesterday it was fortuitous as we we’d left the book launch and were walking down Chapel Street when my OH pointed out a building across the road which used to be a secondhand bookshop. It was one of the shops mentioned in a previous conversation and he told me it used to be a fantastic bookshop and took up all three storeys of the building. I didn’t think to take a photo but it doesn’t sell books now.

I’ve been wanding around the web looking for various bookshops and have hit a goldmine. Here’s a glorious one at Vilnius University. Take note of the frescos.

I like to visit different bookshops and there are some really different ones around. There’s this first photo in Lausanne which I feel is rather sterile and I wouldn’t be comfortable in it and the next photo is one in Sydney which is the opposite and I’m definitely not comfortable there either.

This next link is an article in the Guardian and you’ll find 10 fabulous bookshops in this article including the one from Buenos Aires.

Another thought. Do you prefer small bookshops or would you prefer to visit a large bookshop and get your daily exercise just by browsing the shelves?

My final thought will be this website with a focus on Shanghai. The first article is on a bookshop in Fuzhou Road. It only has 27 storeys of books.

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Sourcery – Terry Pratchett

Posted on 13 March 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

This is number three in the Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge.

The basic premise here is that Ipslore the Red was the eighth son of an eighth sonand he had eight sons, the youngest, by virtue of his position in the family is a Sourcerer…a source of magic. Ipslore the Red doesn’t want to die but has little choice as Death has come. To stave off his time he bargains with Death and then imprisons himself in his staff and stays by his son, Coin. Fast forward about ten years and Coin, who has been tutored by his father while imprisoned in the staff, comes to the Unseen University to take up the hat of Archchancellor. All sorts of fun and games ensue with Rincewind doing what he does best…running. I’m not going to tell you if things end up okay, you really need to read the book.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I wasn’t entirely impressed by it. I’ve read it a few times and have had the same impression each time. I’m struggling to find the words but it just doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the Discworld series. I’ll probably read it on other occasions to try and quantify what I find different about it. It’s one of the few Pratchett books I don’t like.

It does help to give a lot of background into wizardry and how it interacts on Discworld. It also shows just how bad things can get if a parent takes the wrong attitude to parenting.

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Makor Library

Posted on 12 March 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , |

I’ve written about libraries before but this one is rather more specialised than most. Makor Library a Jewish library and the focus is on books and other media on Jewish topics. You’ll find books in English, Yiddish and Hebrew. Needless to say, I only read the books in English and here is where I get to use my joke…I know two languages, English and Australian, and neither of them well. Anyway, like all libraries nowadays they are not just for books. They have a special section reserved for the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society (Vic) and also the Australian Jewish Historical Society (Vic) resources. Last weekend this room was named The Oberman Room after the late ex-President of the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society (Vic). Just like Makor this room can be used by members and non-members alike although unlike Makor you can’t actually borrow anything.

Makor is a lending library and for a modest annual fee you can borrow books, audio books, tapes, DVDs or just go there to read the Jewish publications. Actually, you can just go there and read without being a member.

Makor is more than just a library though. One thing I must make mention of is their Write Your Story programme. They run a weekly group which you can attend to hone your writing skills so as to write your very own life story. When they have enough stories or if there is one person talented enough to write a whole book they will publish an anthology or a memoir. They have over 80 personal memoirs and six anthologies published already and a lot of these are available for sale through Makor. It’s a wonderful programme, absolutely invaluable.

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