June 2016

27994291776_d12389e2ed_k

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

26807601561_cac70aa1c5_k

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 —

http://puppetwrangler.tumblr.com/post/145060196120/in-1559-columbus-discovered-the-clitoris-dulcedo

— 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

jellyfish

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:

February 2016

25128247840_ce0ffcbb55_k
Was February a better month than January? Oh man, it would almost have to be, right?

I did only spend one day home sick from work last month, so I suppose it’s a definite step in the right direction. This time it was courtesy of a cold I think I caught from my boss — my second cold in as many months, as it happens. I’d like it to be my last one, at least for a little while.

Otherwise, it was kind of an uneventful month.

I watched four movies:

  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
  • Deadpool
  • Mortdecai
  • Less Than Zero

I mostly liked the first two, and mostly didn’t like the second two. Mockingjay suffers, I think, by being split in two, though I’ll certainly watch the second half when it’s available to stream.

Deadpool is violent and rude, and sometimes less clever than it thinks, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Mortdecai…well, isn’t. It suffers from being late into late-period Johnny Depp, this stage of his career where it’s all affectation and no acting. If it had come earlier, I don’t think it would be any less not-funny, but it wouldn’t suffer as much by comparison. It would just be a dull movie, not a symptom of the disease.

And Less Than Zero? Well, it probably seemed more impressive in 1987. There are some good performances in it, from Robert Downey, Jr., and James Spader, but too little of anything else. I mean, seeing ridiculous yuppies ruin their previously pampered lives through cocaine might have been compelling in the mid-’80s, but thirty years later it’s a little dull and trite.

I managed to read two books in February: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin and Updraft by Fran Wilde. Both books are very imaginative, creating rich and unique worlds, but Jemisin’s novel was definitely my favorite. It’s just a stunningly original fantasy.

I also read thirty short stories, continuing to read one every day. My favorites included:

  • “Charlotte Incorporated” by Rachael K. Jones (Lightspeed)
  • “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
  • “Starfish” by Karen Tidbeck (Lightspeed)
  • “Between Dragons and Their Wrath” by An Owomoyela and Rachel Swirsky (Clarkesworld)
  • “Vulcanization” by Nisi Shawl (Nightmare)
  • “A Partial List of Lists I Have Lost Over Time” by Sunil Patel (Asimov’s)
  • “And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead” by Brooke Bollander (Lightspeed)
  • “Coming of the Light” by Chen Qiufan (translated by Ken Liu) (Clarkesworld)
  • “So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld)
  • “Midnight Hour” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Uncanny)
  • “Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s)
  • “The Zeppelin Conductors’ Society Annual Gentlemen’s Ball” by Genevieve Valentine (Lightspeed
  • “Alchemy and Ice” by Charlotte Nash (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine)

As with last month, the first five six stories are from 2016, while the rest are from earlier, in this case mostly 2015.

And finally, like always, I listened to some music. Here’s my monthly mix:

You’ll notice there’s a song from Hamilton in there. I finally listened to the internet and listened to Hamilton. It really is quite good. Good on you, internet.