July 2016

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I don’t know what happened to July, but I have it on reasonably good authority that it’s over.

I went to Readercon (for the second time) last month, and while I had a really nice time and attended some great panels and readings — and bumped into some really nice people — I think I was a little out-of-sorts for a lot of the time, maybe a little under the weather, and I was definitely a less active participant than I would have liked to have been. This month, in just a couple of weeks actually, I head out to Worldcon (for the first time), and I’m committed to being friendly and more actively involved.

I don’t always do well with that, but that’s the plan. There should be lots to see there, if nothing else.

Speaking of nothing else, that’s pretty much the rest of what happened last month. There was good and there was bad, but mostly it just went by ridiculously quick.

But I read thirty-six short stories (and one two books) and saw ten movies, so there was that at least. Also just a tiny little bit of music.

The stories

  • “The Last Sailing of the Henry Charles Morgan in Six Pieces of Scrimshaw (1841)” by A.C. Wise (The Dark)
  • “Magnifica Angelica Superable” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Lightspeed)
  • “The Blameless” by Jeffrey Ford (A Natural History of Hell)
  • “The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery” by Cat Valente (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “Jonas and the Fox” by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Mountains His Crown” by Sarah Pinsker (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “Sabbath Wine” by Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “Two Bright Venuses” by Alex Dally MacFarlane (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
  • “Pathways” by Nancy Kress (Clarkesworld)
  • “Something Borrowed, Something Blue” by Gwendolyn Kiste (Three-Lobe Burning Eye)

The books

ETA: I actually read two books, and I really liked the second of them…but for some reason forgot to mention it. That book was A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. My review over at Goodreads:

A Head Full of GhostsA Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this. One of Tremblay’s smartest moves is his choice of narrator, the (mostly) (unintentionally) unreliable Merry. I don’t think the book would have been half as effective if not seen through her not-always-comprehending eyes. The book is maybe a little too long, and there are some small parts of the plot that seem questionable, but it’s a serious look at the horror genre, and specifically exorcism, and where evil actually comes into play. In some ways, it’s a horror novel that made me feel a little guilty about enjoying horror novels.
View all my reviews

I finished one book, which The first book I read for a monthly meetup group. And…well, I didn’t much like it. As I wrote in my Goodreads review:

HexHex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m being generous here. It’s an interesting set-up, and one that almost works for a while, but I was actively not enjoying the book by the end. This never felt like a real place, with real people, and maybe some of that’s an artifact of the translation and moving the story to America, but it kept me at a real distance. There are plenty of disturbing ideas here, but there’s a big difference between that and haunting images, much less ones that are tied to genuine human emotion. The book creeped me out plenty, but it never scared me, despite near-constantly telling me how unbelievably scared the townspeople supposedly were. (The town might feel a mounting dread, but I rarely did as a reader.) The book has lots of upsetting images, but that’s all they are: upsetting. They don’t go any further than that. A witch with stitched-shut eyes is genuinely creepy, absolutely, but in the end she’s not used in service of an interesting story. I stumbled over a lot of the writing, thought it took way too long to tell what story it had, and by the last few chapters just didn’t care.
View all my reviews

The movies

  • Real Life:

  • House:

  • Spotlight:

  • Lost in America:

  • Alfie:

  • Harmontown:

  • Midnight Cowboy:

  • Everybody Wants Some:

  • Room:

  • The Hidden Fortress:

The music

There wasn’t much, but for the sake of completeness:

June 2016

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How is June over already? That makes not one bit of sense, and yet there it is. It’s already July 4th weekend.

I published a brand new issue of Kaleidotrope, which I’m really proud of, and managed to do some writing (and submitting) of my own. So that was good.

I also read thirty-four short stories, in June, saw six movies, and read just one book. Plus, like always, there was some music. Here’s the breakdown of all that:

The stories:

I read thirty-four short stories in June. I accidentally skipped a day, but I made it up and then some (well, a little some). My favorites included:

  • “And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices” by Margaret Ronald (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps” by Julia August (Grendelsong)
  • “We Ride the Stillness” by Deborah Walker (Grendelsong)
  • “The Drowning Line” by Haralambi Markov (Uncanny)
  • “The First Confirmed Case of Non-Corporeal Recursion: Patient Anita R.” by Benjamin C. Kinney (Strange Horizons)
  • “1957” by Stephen Cox (Apex)
  • “The Bog Girl” by Karen Russell (The New Yorker)
  • “Things With Beards” by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
  • “A Windowless Kitchen” by Trevor Shikaze (Liminal Stories)
  • “.identity” by E. Catherine Tobler (Clarkesworld)
  • “Innumerable Glimmering Lights” by Rich Larson (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “The Middle Child’s Practical Guide to Surviving a Fairy Tale” by Mari Ness (Fireside Fiction)

The books:

Though I’ve been poking in and out of some books lately, I only managed to actually finish reading one in. But it was a book I really, really loved: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s just such a beautifully told story.

The movies:

  • The Trouble With the Curve:

  • Hail, Caeser:

  • Zootopia:

  • Zoolander:

  • Stake Land:

  • The House That Dripped Blood:

The music:

Not much to say about this. I put together a playlist each month, of songs I especially liked listening to — usually if they’re new, or new to me — and this June’s:

And that was the month.

May 2016

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So what happened in May? Not a whole lot, but you know what? There’s not a whole lot that’s wrong with that.

I read thirty-five short stories, saw eight movies, and I somehow managed to read four books — five, actually, if you count a four-issue graphic novel. (And ignore the fact that the others were very short novels.) I even listened to a little music.

It wasn’t too bad. Even our team’s move into the lonely, dark downstairs office at work couldn’t put a damper on a pretty decent month.

The stories:

I read thirty-five short stories in May, beyond those I was still reading for Kaleidotrope. I figured I needed to make up for the three days I accidentally skipped in April. My personal favorites — and there were actually quite a lot of them — were as follows:

  • “The Men from Narrow Houses” by A.C. Wise (Liminal Stories)
  • “All the Colors You Thought Were Kings” by Arkady Martine (Shimmer)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)
  • “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” by Seanan McGuire (Uncanny)
  • “Three Points Masculine” by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed)
  • “.subroutine:all///end” by Rachael Acks (Shimmer)
  • “The Behemoth Beaches” by Maggie Slater (Apex)
  • “Deathlight” by Mari Ness (Lightspeed)
  • “The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch” by Seanan McGuire (Lightspeed)
  • “The Sound of Salt and Sea” by Kat Howard (Uncanny)
  • “Left the Century to Sit Unmoved” by Sarah Pinsker (Strange Horizons)
  • “You Can’t See It ‘Til It’s Finished” by Joseph Allen Hill (Liminal Stories)
  • “The Right Sort of Monsters” by Kelly Sandoval (Strange Horizons)
  • “When She Was Five” by Fraser Ronald (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
  • “Team Invasion” by David Tallerma (Liminal Stories)
  • “The Signal Birds” by Octavia Cade (Liminal Stories)
  • “Suicide Bots” by Bentley A. Reese (Shimmer)
  • “Once I, Rose” by A. Merc Rustad (Daily Science Fiction)
  • “Furnace” by Livia Llewellyn (Weird Fiction Review — reprinted)
  • “Through Earth and Sky” by Gwendolyn Kiste (Bracken)
  • “Wednesday’s Story” by Wole Talabi (Lightspeed)
  • “The Blood That Pulses in the Veins of One” by JY Yang (Uncanny)

Liminal Stories is definitely a new publication to watch, and I really like what they’re doing so far. But lots of my regular haunts had extremely good issues, Uncanny especially. Honestly, of the thirteen other short stories I read last month, only a couple of them are what I’d call duds. And we don’t talk about those.

The books:

I read five books, but with the possible exception of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, which has a lot of lovely things to say about a lot of things, I can’t claim to have really loved any of them.

Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child has its moments, as does Siri Hustvedt’s The Summer Without Men, but both are too slight and under-developed to really be satisfying. Hustvedt’s book maybe has more interesting things to say, ultimately —

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— but that’s in part because it reads more like a patchwork of essays than a novel.

Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples’ graphic novel — and that’s generous, given how sloppily it hangs together, but also given how incomplete it is — also has its moments. And Staples’ art, which I’ve enjoyed so much in Saga, is often stunning. But yeah, it’s kind of a malformed story that was obviously cut short after four issues by the publisher.

But even that was better than Benjamin Black’s The Lemur, which was such a disappointing non-starter of a non-story. It’s less a whodunit than a whocaresit.

The movies:

  • The Invitation

  • Captain America: Civil War

  • Hush:

  • The Five Deadly Venoms:

  • The Witch:

  • 1408:

  • X-Men: Apocalypse:

  • Marnie:

The music:

My monthly playlist was actually quite short in May, for whatever reason. Still, you’re free to listen to some of the songs I enjoyed listening to last month:

April 2016

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April went by pretty quickly, huh?

I spent about a week of it in Atlanta, visiting the campuses of Emory, Georgia State, and Georgia Tech for work. I didn’t see a whole lot of the city, unfortunately, though I did get to sit in a lot of local traffic and visit the downtown aquarium while I was in town. (The former is formidable, ridiculous even, while the latter was a little disappointing, considering how much it cost just to get into the place.) I think I’ve been to Georgia before, this was the first time in a long while that it wasn’t just a short layover between two flights.

Meanwhile in April, I only managed to finish reading one book, Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky. I didn’t love everything about it, but it was a fun first novel, and I think it successfully merged the sci-fi and fantasy elements in an interesting and unique way.

I also only managed to read twenty-nine short stories, down from my one-a-day average, but that’s only because I accidentally skipped three separate days in the month. My favorites included:

I also went to the launch party for Clockwork Phoenix 5, which was a lot of fun, and to the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading, which was very crowded but also a lot of fun.

In April, I watched eleven movies:

  • Little Big Man

  • Batman V Superman

  • The Hateful Eight

  • Midnight Special

  • Now You See Me

  • The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

  • Maggie

  • Trainwreck

  • Rope

  • The Big Short

And finally, in April, I listened to some music:

March 2016

photo 2 (2)

March wasn’t really a bad month at all.

It was a busy month, one with a lot of things that I needed to get finished at work. But I seem to have finished those things, for the most part. I’ve exchanged them all for new things, new deadlines, but they’re not quite as deadliney as the old ones, if that makes any sense.

I read two books, like I had in February, which may not seem like much but which is double my recent monthly average. In March it was Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy and Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. And both were…okay.

Whereas Leckie’s first novel, Ancillary Justice felt unique and refreshing and vital, the two follow-ups…just didn’t. They’re as well written, and have some very nice touches, but they’re a lot less compelling, particularly when taken on their own. And while Chambers’ book is very readable, with fun aliens and likable characters, it’s also so amazingly devoid of tension. There’s rarely a problem in the book that can’t be introduced and resolved in just a couple of pages, and so the whole thing can’t help feeling very low-stakes and episodic, to a fault.

In March, I also read thirty-one short stories, one every day. Favorites included:

  • “Palingenesis” by Megan Arkenberg (Shimmer)
  • “The Wolf and the Tower Unwoven” by Kelly Sandoval (Uncanny)
  • “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0″ by Caroline Yoachim (Lightspeed)
  • “Seven Cups of Coffee” by A.C. Wise (Clarkesworld)
  • “Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass” by Jeremiah Tolbert (Lightspeed)
  • “Salvage Opportunity” by Jack Skillingstead (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Shadow Collector” by Shveta Thakrar (Uncanny)
  • “Meltwater” by Benjamin C. Kinney (Meltwater)
  • “Indigo Blue” by Rachael K. Jones (Shimmer)
  • “The Name of the Forest” by Margaret Killjoy (Strange Horizons)
  • “Angel, Monster, Man” by Sam J. Miller (Nightmare)
  • “Tumbleweeds And Little Girls” by Jeff Bowles (Podcastle)
  • “Woman in the Reeds” by Esther M. Friesner (Asimov’s)
  • “Ordinary Souls” by K. M. Szpara (Glittership, reprint)
  • “The Box Wife” by Emma Osborne (Pseudopod, reprint)
  • “The Husband Stitch” by Carmen Maria Machado (Podcastle, reprint)

Everything but the last three reprints were from 2016.

I watched six movies in March:

  • Creed
  • Spy
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane
  • Grand Hotel
  • Pee-wee’s Big Holiday
  • Jurassic World

They were all pretty good, with the exception of Jurassic World, which was pretty bad. No, strike that: very bad. I don’t quite know what else to say about any of the movies beyond what I said at the time on Twitter. (You do follow me on Twitter, right?)

And finally, in March, I turned another year older. I only feel a little bad about that when I realize this is the last year of my thirties. It’s also those little mental math problems that make me feel older, more than anything else.

Anyway, let’s close out March with some music, as I’m wont to do: