I don’t know who these monthly updates are for, really, beyond myself. Posterity? Crickets? Bueller?
In November, I went to the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY. It was a lot of fun, even if I’m not entirely sure I would go back. (I’m debating Worldcon in Kansas City instead, though the cost has still debating. I might just go back to Readercon in July. That I’ve registered for.)
But Saratoga was very pretty, and if you’re going to see fall in New York, upstate’s where you want to do it. The theme of this year’s WFC was “epic fantasy,” which isn’t typically my thing, but I attended a bunch of interesting panels and readings. I even met several people, despite being my usual only semi-social self. (I mean, I’d like to hang out chatting in the bar, but these Star Trek: TNG episodes on the hotel cable won’t just watch themselves, you know.) I met some writers I follow on Twitter, some I’ve even published in Kaleidotrope, and one of my classmates from the online writing course I took earlier this year.
It was a good time. I didn’t stick around for the banquet or awards ceremony, but I walked away with a bunch of books and a had fun.
A lot’s been written about the accessibility issues at the con — including by Mari Ness, who bumped right up against those issues all weekend (which was unfortunate), but who I bumped into on my way to check out (which was lucky happenstance). And yeah, those issues were bullshit, particularly the lack of a ramp to the stage, so I’m really glad to see con organizers for WFC and others talk about how they’re going to fix these problems going forward. It’s also heartening to see so many people co-signing Mary Robinette Kowal’s SF/F Convention Accessibility Pledge. Because these are fixable problems.
Anyway, when I wasn’t busy attending conventions — which I guess is something I do now, huh? — I was mostly at home. Construction at the office robbed us of our cubicles for a little over a week, and with the Thanksgiving holiday shortly thereafter, I think all told I spent 8 days in the office this November.
Thanksgiving itself was really nice. Way too much food.
Also in November, I saw nine movies:
- The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
- Terminator Genisys
- Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
- Let Us Prey
- From Here to Eternity
- The Signal
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
- Q: The Winged Serpent
I’m not counting William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge, the hour-long talking-heads documentary about the early days of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Not because it wasn’t interesting and entertaining, but because c’mon, it was only an hour long. It’s pretty slight, and calling it a documentary might be stretching things a bit.
I didn’t actually love any of the movies I saw last month, although both the Terminator and Hunger Games sequels were a lot better than I expected them to be, and From Here to Eternity was quite good. For a film that’s largely remembered for a single scene upon a beach, it has a lot more to offer — especially since that scene (and the part of the story that drives it) is barely any of the movie.
The Signal and Let Us Prey both have style but are light on substance. Q has an interestingly unhinged Michael Moriarty at its center (and a couple of other game actors) but is an otherwise a pretty lousy B-movie. Conquest of the Planet Apes isn’t bad, and also boasts some decent performances, while The Seven-Per-Cent Solution takes a fascinating idea but doesn’t actually make an interesting movie out of it. (And I dunno…Robert Duvall as Dr. Watson? Really?)
But Spectre was probably the biggest disappointment. I’ve generally liked the Daniel Craig Bond movies, and I thoroughly enjoyed Skyfall, I think in part because it looked so beautiful in IMAX. But despite some good casting and strong initial set-up — the scenes in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead celebrations are very well staged — the film is boring more than anything. It makes the mistake of trying to impose continuity after the fact on Craig’s previous three Bond films, and it does so in the least interesting way possible. It’s not without its merits, and heaven knows there are probably worse Bond movies. (There’s nary a “Christmas Jones or pigeon doing a double-take here.) But too often, in its two and a half hours, it’s simply tedious.
Of the three big spy movies I’ve seen this year, I’d rate it well below Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, but also considerably below The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (which, while unnecessary, was also a little underrated).
I only read one book in November, despite picking up several at World Fantasy. That book was Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace, which I’d picked up at Readercon, and which I liked but didn’t love. The book presents an interesting post-apocalyptic world, which I guess is almost a prerequisite for young adult novels nowadays — it’s marketed as YA, though I wonder at that — but I’m not entirely sure it fleshes that world out as much as I’d like, despite a genuinely satisfying conclusion. A solid B+, I’d say, if I were the sort of person assigning letter grades to the books I read in lieu of really critiquing them.
I did read thirty-three short stories, though, so there’s at least that. Favorites included:
- “Wooden Feathers” by Ursula Vernon (Uncanny
- “Werewolf Loves Mermaid” by Heather Lindsley (Lightspeed)
- “A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap (Tor.com)
- “Last Drink Bird Head” by Daniel Abraham (Last Drink Bird Head)
- “Loving Armageddon” by Amanda C. Davis (Crossed Genres)
- “In Autumn” by Theodora Goss (Daily Science Fiction)
- “The Air We Breathe Is Stormy, Stormy” by Rich Larson (Strange Horizons)
- “What Wags the World” by Sarah Pinsker (Daily Science Fiction)
- “The Ape’s Wife” by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Clarkesworld)
- “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” by Kelly Robson (Clarkesworld)
- “The Sun, the Moon and the Stars” by Junot Diaz (This Is How You Lose Her)
- “Madeline” by Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed)
- “Let’s Tell Stories of the Deaths of Children” by Margaret Ronald (Strange Horizons)
- “Damage” by David D. Levine (Tor.com)
Lots of really good stories this month, though maybe that’s in part because I was cribbing from the SFWA’s Recommended Nebula Reading List. (Did I mention a story from Kaleidotrope also made that list? Because it did.)
And finally, what would another month be without another mix of songs:
That was my November. I hope all you crickets enjoyed yours as well.