Monday, December 31, 2012

Good Wine, Bad Taste

So there's a writers forum where I hang out when I'm on the Internet. One day, one of the F/SF regulars  posted a question. He was writing a fantasy that was heavy on diplomacy, and he wanted suggestions for other fantasies with diplomatic and political elements.

In other words, instead of doing his own research with primary sources - actual politicians, actual diplomats, academic experts on diplomacy and politics in history - he was drawing his source material from other fantasy writers. Writers who, one assumes, had never had political or diplomatic careers of their own, but were cribbing and researching themselves. He was researching at one remove.

It made me sad.

There is a weird pool of derivativeness that bubbles up in the heart of certain sections of fandom. Some fantasy fans seem to prefer the

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Support the Pink Gun Law

So, there's this petition on that...ahem...treats firearms with the seriousness they deserve. It's right here.

And here's the text of the petition:

Support a Pink Gun Law

We ask for a law to require all useable firearms (except antiques) to be painted pink.

Like orange safety vests, pink rifles will be visible for many yards, reducing the risk of hunting accidents.

Maniacs with pink guns will be spotted more quickly, so that they can be "easy kills" for any appropriately armed grandmother or Sunday School teacher.

The opposite of a "gun-free zone" sign, a big pink gun will let criminals know they are in the presence of a peaceful, law-abiding American who shoots to kill.

Since the Stonewall Riots, pink has been the color of individual rights and resistance to government oppression.

Like Mary Kay's pink Cadillacs, pink guns will foster a culture of self-esteem.

Pink guns will not infringe on the Second Amendment.


Go sign it!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Medieval Recipe Day - Christmas Goose!

Back in the Middle Ages, goose and boar were the meats of choice served at the Christmas feast. (They were all the more delicious since they came at the end of a four-day church "fast," where certain varieties of food were restricted.)

So, courtesy of Celtnet, here's a medieval Christmas goose:

Goose in Sawse Madame
1 goose (about 1.5kg)
1 quince, pared, quartered, cored and finely chopped

½ pear, pared, quartered, cored and finely chopped
80g black grapes, chopped and de-seeded
220g chopped fresh herbs (sage, hyssop, savory, lovage, marjoram)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

For the Sauce:
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
1 tsp galingale

Mix the herbs and fruit and use to stuff the goose.

Sew the body cavity closed then place the goose in a roasting dish and place in an oven pre-heated to 200°C. Roast for an hour and a half until done (the flesh should be slightly pink in the middle). Cook for longer if you want it well done.

To make the sauce, take the dripping from the goose and add white wine and the spices. Place in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduced until thickened then carve the goose and drizzle the sauce over it.

Unfamiliar ingredients: quince and galingale.

The quince fruit is related to the pear and the apple; its flavor is sweet, somewhat tart, and the flesh is dry, and not grainy. It's usually cooked instead of being eaten raw.

Galingale is related to ginger; like ginger, the root is used in cooking and herbal medicine. Its taste and smell are different from, and stronger than, those of ginger.

And please notice that the recipe is mostly in metric, not imperial, units.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just when we thought the world would end...

...Australia discovered two entirely new species of skink lizards! (Yeah, I spelled it right.)

You go, Oz!

Sucks to be you, 12/21/12.

Medieval Recipe Day!

Just got over the flu. So the recipe's obvious - and it sounds like a not-bad winter dish, too. Notice that medieval recipes didn't separate sweet and savory the way that we do.

Capon White Dish for the Invalid

Cook it in water until it is well cooked. Pound almonds with dark capon meat.
Steep this in your broth.
Strain it all through a cheesecloth, then boil it until it is solid enough to slice.
Pour into a bowl. 
Brown in lard six peeled almonds and put them on end on half the plate. Put pomegranate seeds on the other side. 
Sugar everything.

Friday, December 21, 2012


We all still here?

Just checking.
See ya at the next apocalypse.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why's That So Good?: Vernor Vinge

In a blog post I wrote for the gracious and prolific Samantha Combs, I pontificated that the essential fact of science fiction wasn't technology or aliens - it was the effect that speculative possibilities had on the story's characters. The situation, in other words, wasn't as important as how the characters felt about the situation.

Vernor Vinge - one of the best hard science fiction writers in the last 40 years, and an unacknowledged father of cyberpunk - pulled off this trick twice, in one of SF's most classic tours de force: Not only did he convey a speculative situation's effect on his characters...he made those characters non-human.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

People kill people in Chenpeng Village

I know, this isn't nerdy, or geeky, or speculative. But-

On the same day as the Newtown massacre, another miserable lunatic attacked 24 people (all but one of them children) in Chenpeng Village, China. 

Now here's the big difference:

He had to do it with a knife, because of China's strict gun-control laws.
And all of the victims are still alive.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Sure.
But guns make it a whole goddamned lot easier.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Eye Candy - The Great Bustard

I love the name.
And I love the fact that the bird looks like a bustard.
Seriously, what else would you call it?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Available at a Library Near You!

One of the places that carries TWS is Overdrive, which makes e-books available to public and school libraries around the world. That means that The Wrong Sword is available as an e-book at a library near you. Check it out!

Monday, December 3, 2012

What We See in the World of Online Dating

I saw this in on a profile recently and thought it was hilarious:

I have a thing for funny guys. If only Louis C.K. was a little sexier, Seth MacFarlane a little more straight, Larry David a little less neurotic, Zach Galifianakis taller.

Yep. "If only Brad Pitt were funny."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Better Son?

I just heard from a creative I knew back in Los Angeles. I congratulated him on the birth of his first kid, and he congratulated me on my own "progeny" - TWS.

He's not the first one to use the progeny metaphor for books and other creative projects, of course. But if you think about it, books and children are really converses of each other. It's fun to make a child (or it should be), but after that first moment, it's work, work, work. On the other hand, it's work, work, work to write a book...but it's darned fun if people buy it, read it and like it.

Still, it would be a pretty small life if you mistook art for children, wouldn't it?