Category Archives: recommendations

Alloy Of Law, Voting, and the Gemmell Award

So I just found out that The Wise Man’s Fear made the shortlist for the David Gemmell Legend award.

It’s flattering, because not only was Gemmell a great writer, but because whoever wins doesn’t just get a trophy or a certificate or something.

No. The winner of the David Gemmell legend award gets an axe.

Which you have to admit is pretty cool. It would certainly be a step up from my current writing axe.

The problem is this, when I wandered over to see who else was on the ballot, I saw that it was stacked with other really good books.

Most troubling for me, was the fact that it was up against Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law.

When I saw that, I realized that I’d never actually gotten around to writing a review of Alloy, though I’d been meaning to for weeks and weeks.

I feel it’s my civic duty to talk spread the word about good books I’ve read. So I finally wrote it up and  posted it over on Goodreads.

For those of you who have some sort of odd, trauma-borne link-clicking phobia, here’s the jist of it:

“Sanderson has now been added to a very short list. Specifically, the list authors I wish to kill so that I might eat their livers and thereby gain their power.”

It’s a really good book. Not just because of the story. But because what he’s doing is really amazingly different. (Read the review if you want the details.)

So here’s the deal. One of the nice things bout the Gemmell Legend Award is that it’s decided by a popular vote. Y’all can go in and voice your opinions.

But the OTHER nice thing is that the voting goes until May 31st.

That means if I put up a link here, y’all have plenty of time to go out and read some of the other books on the list. Fairly assessing all the options and making an informed choice.

This is the thing you should do when you vote, you realize. Making informed choices is what gives you the right to call yourself a human being.

Consider this practice for other voting type things that might be looming on the horizon. When I put up the link, don’t just wander over there, bleating like a sheep, and click the name that looks most familiar to you. Don’t vote for the option all your friends have been talking about. Don’t vote for the person your parents trained you to vote for.

No. Look at your options. Gather data. Be a rational human and make a informed choice.

Trust me. It’s good practice. This is an important thing to practice.

And here’s your link.


Also posted in awards, How to be a Worthwhile Human Being | By Pat81 Responses

An Interview With Mary Robinette Kowal

So in the past, I’ve been known to interview folks from time to time.

Today, helping me continue that fine tradition, is the inestimable Mary Robinette Kowal.

Heya Mary,

Well, hello there!

Thanks for agreeing to do this.

Problem is, I’m really bad at introductions. So let’s do it this way:

Let’s say you’re at a party and you end up mingling with people you wanted to impress. What sort of things about yourself would you casually drop into the conversation to prove that you’re awesome? They don’t all have to be true.

The fact that I’m a professional puppeteer is always a conversational cheat. If I really want to hold onto the conversation I’ll then follow up with working in Iceland, or a story of a show gone horribly, horribly wrong. The fact that I’m an author… I’m still not used to that.

It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one that’s still not used to it. I’ve always written, but I’ve only been an author, (that is to say a professional writer) for a comparatively short period of time.

Okay. My turn. You’re also Vice President of SFWA.

True, but there are two types of people to whom I would be chatting with at a party. People that would have no idea what SFWA is and people who DO know and want me to fix something. The last thing I want to do is to remind them that I’m the vice president. Besides, I’ll be out of office at the end of June.

You’re also a Hugo Award winner and a Nebula nominee.

Oh… yes. Those don’t seem real sometimes. I just… I wouldn’t bring them up at a party because they feel like bragging. I sort of feel like I didn’t have anything to do with being tapped for those, even though I know that it’s for my work. It’s just that they were such amazing surprises that I feel more like it’s a gift the fans gave me and that I shouldn’t take credit for it.

Although at panels at conventions I totally do, because it provides context. Just the party setting that feels awkward. I guess I should also mention that I won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2008 and my work has received two UNIMA-USA Citations for Excellence, which is the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve.

Also, I’ve met Sting. You did say it was a party, right?

Oooh. That’s definitely braggable. Was he cool?

He was very cool. I taught him the lyrics to a song, but to get that story, you’ll have to ask me at a party. A girl needs some mysteries left to talk about.

Lastly, but not leastly, I should mention that you’re the author of the recently published Glamor in Glass.

A book I enjoyed to a startling degree, despite the fact that it was well outside my usual reading habits. (For more details, you can read Pat’s review on Goodreads.)

Let’s start with an easy question. What Muppet do you feel the strongest emotional connection with?


At World Fantasy this year I saw someone stop in the hallways and thank you for “writing a regency novel that doesn’t suck.”

Do you think of yourself as a regency writer?

La! At this point, it would be hard not to but– and this is important – it is not the only genre or time period I write in. That’s something that my agent and I talked about at length when we were making career plans for me, in fact.

When I’m writing short form, I write all over the map. Science-fiction, horror, secondary world fantasy. It’s all fun. But in long form, we’re keeping me in the historical fantasy realm, and my first four novels will all be set in the Regency.

Assume that I’m an idiot and don’t know what Regency literature is.  Could you explain the genre to me?

This is basically work that is set loosely in the Regency period, although most people expand it to include the 1790s up through the end of the 1820s. That means that you are looking at stories influenced by Jane Austen and the Napoleonic Wars. So Georgette Heyer and Patrick O’Brien are both writing in the Regency but they write completely different books. I clearly am more on the Austen end of the spectrum.

Do you find it tricky to write in a well-defined historical time period?

Yes. Oh, heavens, yes. Part of the trouble, of course, is making sure that you get the details right but the larger challenge is making all of that accessible to a modern audience. Jane Austen could say that a room was done in the most fashionable style, but  my readers have no idea what the fashion of the day was– actually, let me rephrase that. SOME of my readers don’t. Others can tell you the exact thread count of the preferred muslin fabric. And that doesn’t even get into trying to explain that today’s muslin is NOT the same thing as muslin in Austen’s day. Ah… language.

How do you deal with that sort of thing? I mean, the language has changed in some pretty drastic ways over the last 200 years…

Most of it hasn’t, thank heavens, and is still recognizably modern English but where it did change, it was often a doozy of a shift. Like the word “knowledgeable” which used to mean famous and now means well-read or educated.

In Shades of Milk and Honey, I tried to get the feel right but didn’t worry overmuch about if a specific word was period-correct for 1814. Two days after the book came out, a fan called me to tell me that I’d misused the word “check.” It meant “to stop” so a line like, “I shall check on the strawberries” became unintentionally comic.

In an over-reaction, I created the Jane Austen spell-check dictionary for Glamour in Glass. Basically, I took the complete works of Jane Austen, ran it through an engine that created a list of unique words, which I then plugged in as a spell-check dictionary. It flag any word that she didn’t use. From there, I looked it up to see if the word a) existed in 1815 or b) had shifted meaning.

I did take pains to use words that were accessible to a modern reader, and even used a couple that didn’t exist because they were the right word. At the end of the day, authenticity is less important than the story. If it gets in the way of a reader understanding, then I’m doing it wrong. But since language reflects the culture that uses it, an attention to word choices can enhance the texture of the novel.

Can you give us another word or two you had to do without?

Leyline. I thought it was this ancient word, but it turns out that it was coined in the 1950s.

Wastepaper basket. Trashcans, wastepaper baskets, garbage cans… none of these exist even as a concept. Everything got reused, fed to the pigs, or burned in the fire.

I’ve actually got a list of the words I cut on my website.

If you had to pick your favorite story of all time, in any medium, what would it be?

You’re kidding, right? I mean. One story. Can you answer that question? The one I have reread the most frequently is Steven Brust’s The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars but my favorite changes by the hour. And seriously. What’s your favorite?

I am as constant as the moon. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle holds its place firmly in my heart.

That is a beautiful book. See, now I’m tempted to say The Princess Bride since I realized you said any medium.

Johnny Depp, or Brad Pitt?

Nathan Fillian.

Agreed. You’re the first one to realize that was a trick question.

What’s your revision process like?

I don’t revise. What you see is exactly the way I write it. It takes me about a month to write a novel.

Um. What?

I’m messing with you. I just wanted to see your face when I said that and totally should have asked for a camera.

God. Wow. Yeah. You got me.

I was really ready to hate you. Like, hate you forever and ever. Seriously.


In truth I have a fairly fluid revision process. I put a lot of work into having an outline that is structurally sound so that I can put my writing effort into the emotion of the scenes. While that outline gets tweaked and adjusted as I go, it does mean that my revisions don’t usually involve major structural shifts.

I also write with alpha readers following along. They are seeing raw draft. I instruct them to just talk about how the story is playing and not to talk about sentence level issues. Generally, I stay about two chapters ahead of them, which I find is about the right spacing to be able to adjust to their reactions to the story and not need to ask them to re-read material that I’ve altered. Occasionally, I ret-con things for them. Having that give and take is helpful for me.

It also gives me the freedom to focus on the story and not the language. After I finish the story, I do a read-through to look at structure and pacing. Then my last pass is a language pass. I do a once over with the spell-check dictionary then read the entire thing aloud to adjust flow.

All told, I spend a couple of months in the outline/research phase, about two months to get the first draft, then another three months to revise and edit it.

Okay. That’s an acceptable timeline. We can still be friends.

Oh good. That would be awkward at parties otherwise.

You’re relatively new to the publishing world. How has getting your book published changed your life?

Well, I’m doing a heck of a lot less puppetry. I travel almost as much as when I was on tour. And no one tells you this, but writing is really hard on your body.

How do you mean, specifically?

I was in a really active profession and writing is so sedentary. I put on about fifteen pounds, just because I wasn’t moving around enough. My lower back hurts from sitting too much. As a species, we’re just not designed to sit all day.

Now, I’ve got a standing desk that I use at home. I walk at least a mile every day, and do push-ups and squats daily to try to stay at least a little fit. I’m back down to about five pounds over my performance weight and feel pretty okay with that.

How many copies of your own books do you currently own?

One and a half shelves. But that includes magazines and anthologies. Shades of Milk and Honey itself? Seven copies. We have a small apartment.

What’s the most shameful self-promotional thing you’ve ever done?

Worn a white spandex body-suit?

Don’t bother googling it folks. I just tried and came up dry….

It’s what we wore in the puppet show that my company performed at WorldCon in 2011. There is actually a photo out there someplace.

We’ll see if anyone can find it and post it in the comments below.

Do you have a particular piece of grammar that you screw up regularly?

Lie, lay, lain, laid…. I just avoid using the word.

God. I’m awful at that one too. It’s just wired into my head wrong.

It’s just mean is what it is.

If you could punch one literary figure in the face, who would it be?

Hm… Tricky. Someone living could fight back. Someone dead would be all icky plus the bother of digging them up.

Edith Sitwell used to lie in an open coffin before she began her day’s writing. Do you have any little rituals that help you write?

I set a timer or try to meet up with friends. I’m a natural procrastinator, so I have to create deadlines.

So you mean you actually meet up with friends to write?

I do. Usually at my local coffee shop – which contributed to the aforementioned weight gain – but that doesn’t always work out. What I’ve lately been doing are virtual hangouts via Google+. We do 45-minutes of writing, followed by 15 minutes of chat. It’s great because it allows each writer to retain control of her own space but also socialize. Plus, the power of peer pressure means that everyone winds up being productive. Laura Ann Gilman said, “It takes the lonely out of writing.” She’s totally right.

That’s something I’ve been struggling with for years. I have some pretty serious erimitic tendencies, but the solitary nature of the profession still gets to me.

Is the beard an outward representation of your erimitic aspirations? And really? Did you just really use erimitic in cold blood?

Yeah. That’s how I roll.

And that’s why I like you.

A while back, I made a joke about Transition Putty on my blog. That being, of course, the what we writers buy at Home Depot to smooth out our rough transitions.

If you could have some sort of handyman tool like that, something like Plot Spackle or a Character Level. What would it be?

Didn’t you get the toolbelt? I thought they assigned that to everyone when you sold your first short story. Oh… wait. You’re only a novelist. No wonder. Right… Sorry, dude. Anyway, out of that set, I find that I use the Handwavium pellets the most.

Ah, good old Handwavium, most unstable of the inner-transitional elements.

Thanks much for gracing us with your presence and indulging my curiosity, Mary.

Always a pleasure to chat with you, especially if you’re going to give me a chance to brag and play with your head.

*     *     *

As an added bonus, Mary has agreed to play with us here in the comments section of the blog for a couple of days. That means if you want to ask her a question, you can. And if she wants to answer it, she will.

This is the first time that I’ve done this sort of thing with another author, so I’m trusting y’all to be your regular genteel selves.

Which is to say that if you kids don’t behave yourselves, I swear I will turn this blog around.

Have fun,


Also posted in Me Interviewing Other Folks | By Pat102 Responses

Sharing is Caring: Garfunkel and Oates

A lot of times, I end up conflicted about the blog.

On one hand, I know most of you stop by the blog to read stuff that I write. Whether it be idle musings, furious rages, or my occasional foray into scientific inquiry. You don’t stop by here hoping that I’ll put up a link to something else.

My thought is, if you wanted to go somewhere else, you’d already be there.

On the other hand, if something brings me joy, I want to share it with people.

On the other other hand, I don’t want this blog to become an endless series of links. As if I’d suddenly become that uncle of yours that won’t stop forwarding you dirty jokes and videos of cats.

On yet another hand in this increasingly unanthropomorphic  metaphor, it’s way easier for me to post up a few links, rather than, say, write a thousand word blog. And it has the chance to make folks happy.

And then I’m left back where I started, still not sure how much or so often I should link to other stuff I think is cool.

What I typically do is ride the brake. I don’t post stuff up on here unless it’s so good I just can’t help myself.

That’s what I’m doing today. I’m sharing something that’s so good I just can’t help but bring it to you attention.

Ladies, gentlemen, and those of unaffiliated gender: I give you Garfunkel and Oates.

How much do I love them?

I love them so much that I’ve had one of their songs stuck in my head for four days now, and I don’t even care.

Which song? This song.

(It’s not entirely safe for work, by the way.)

I stumbled onto their stuff a couple months ago, and after watching a couple dozen youtube videos, I wandered over to CD Baby and bought their CD, All Over Your Face.

Okay. I’ll be honest. I bought ten copies of their CD, because I wanted to share the love with my friends.

Luckily, the CD was even better than I expected. That’s not always the case with some of the music you hear live or on youtube first. For example, I actually like Johnathan Coulton’s acoustic stuff on youtube better than the more polished, produced versions I’ve bought. Same thing with about half the Flight of the Conchords CD’s I’ve picked up.

But this CD was better than the stuff I’d already heard. I would have bought a hundred copies and given them away as Worldbuilders prizes, except I know someone’s sweet old grandma who wanted to support Heifer would have ended up listening to “Sex With Ducks” and having a heart attack.

Yeah. They have a song called “Sex With Ducks.” It’s one of the many reasons I love them.

Okay. One more video and then I’ll stop.

This one is actually a good representation of the production quality of the music on the CD. In fact, I’m pretty sure this version of the song is the same as what’s on the CD.

Okay. That’s enough, you can hunt down their other videos on your own. (Like “Gay Boyfriend” and “Pregnant Women Are Smug”)

Or, if you are a sensible person who likes cool things and likes to support artists, you’ll go and buy some of their music.

Lastly, the the true believers that read all the way to the bottom of the blog, a reminder that I’m going to be at the Fox Valley Book Festival this Thursday (April 12th.) Details, as always, are on the tour page.


Also posted in cool things, music | By Pat54 Responses

Concerning Anime


After taking note that you’ve repeatedly referenced Cowboy Bebop, I’d like if you could include in a blog any favorite/recommended anime. I understand that you are busy or may not have enough interest in writing such a blog. Or may be hesitant to receive the potential fan outlash because you didn’t mention “insert anime name here” or haven’t seen “insert more different anime name here”.

But I would just like your opinion, as that is one of the primary reasons I read the blog – to learn more about the author. I’d like to think I’m not alone.

Until next time, fellow space cowboy!

Ben (Twin Cities, MN)

First off, Ben. I have to say I love the term “outlash.” It fills a good linguistic niche. It’s different from backlash. Outlash is less of a reaction, more of an upwelling of directionless vitriol. It’s less justified than backlash.

Off the top of my head, I’d say that roughly 27% of the internet is composed of outlash.

Here’s my utterly off-the-cuff top five Anime recommendations.

1. Last Airbender.

First off. We’re not talking about the movie. We’re talking about the animated series. I hear the movie sucked to such a degree that words cannot fully encompass it.

This series was absolutely brilliant. I could easily hold forth for an hour on the clever storytelling techniques they use. I’m looking forward to the day that little Oot is old enough so that I can watch it with him.

2. Princess Mononoke.

Out of fairness to all other anime, we’ll only include one Miyazaki title in this list. Though it’s hard to narrow it down, this one has to be my favorite. Probably because the translation and dub is absolutely first rate.

Normally I’m a subtitle guy. 99% of the time, I go for subtitle. But this is one of the rare cases where I really do like the dub more. It made me feel better when I learned that Neil Gaiman was in charge of anglicizing the screenplay for the English version.

3. Cowboy Bebop.

A true rarity. A brilliant Japanese Anime series that doesn’t turn to total bullshit at the end.

4. Trigun.

Piece and Love!

5. Akira.

Okay. You know that crack I made up there in #3 about anime turning into total bullshit at the end of the series/movie? This is the perfect example of that. The last 10 minutes of the movie are like a bad acid flashback.

But you know what? This still makes the top five despite the fact that the movie as a whole makes no goddamn sense. The music and cinematography are enough make up for the largely nonsensical story/plot/character conflict.

And believe me, that’s probably nothing you’ll ever hear me say again, that the cinematography alone makes something worth watching.

But in this one case it’s really true. Despite the fact that this is largely an action movie, I consider it a brilliant study in silence and stillness. If you’ve watched it closely, I’m sure you know what I mean.

*      *     *

Now before y’all start your anguished screeling that I didn’t include Inuyasha or Witchunter Robin or  whatever your favoritiest BFF anime of forever is. Keep in mind that I might not have seen it. If you look at the dates of the above titles, you’ll see that I’m not really on the cutting edge here. I haven’t watched hardly any TV at all in two years. I’ve heard of Bleach but never watched it. Same thing with Death Note. (I read it.)

Then again, it’s quite possible your favorite show simply didn’t flip my switch. I watched Full Metal Alchemist, and while parts of it were cool, as a whole it felt draggy and slow. Though it came highly recommended, Monster just bored me, and I quit watching halfway through.

So much of this is a matter of taste, you realize.

Honorable mentions:

  • Ninja Scroll. Subtitled. (I once watched it three times in a row.)
  • Anything by Miyazaki.
  • Lupin the Third.
  • All Purpose Cultural Cat-Girl Nuku Nuku. (Seriously. It was great.)
  • Cutey Honey. (Because you have to respect the concept.)
  • Paprika.
  • Millenium Actress. (A story about stories.)
  • Ghost in the Shell.

If any of y’all have some particular favorites, I’d love to hear about them. Not that I have much time for watching TV these days. But someday I hope to be able to veg out in front of the tube again….


Also posted in Fanmail Q + A, Things I Like | By Pat189 Responses

San Diego 2011: Thursday: Wherein Pat Is (mostly) Not A Pervert

This is part of the San Diego Diary: Wednesday, Thursday Part I, Thursday Part II (Wootstock), and Friday Ad Infinitum.

*     *    *

Thursday is my big day at the con, I’m on a panel with a bunch of epic fantasy bigwigs including George Martin and  Brandon Sanderson. It’s my only panel at the con this year, and it’s going to be a big one.

So I make a point of getting up extra early so I’ll have time to perform my elaborate grooming rituals, anoint myself with scented oils, and carefully select which of my many stylish tuxedos I will wear to the convention.

My which I mean to say that I wake up at 11:00 and am walking to the con by 11:20.

  • 11:30 – Coffee.

Yeah. If I’m going to try be witty on the panel. I definitely need some. So I get some.

For those of you that are curious, it’s a large white chocolate mocha with hazelnut.

Yeah, yeah. I know it’s not the most macho coffee in the world. But I couldn’t get my usual. They didn’t have blueberry syrup.

  • 11:45 – Satyriasis

While heading up to my panel I get a text from a friend. Pooka is the lovely fan who took me under her wing at my very first ComicCon back in 2009. I was wandering aimlessly, trembling and dewy as a newborn fawn. She took pity on me and, to completely mix the metaphor, showed me the ropes.

Pooka’s message tells me she’s been standing in line for hours and is worried that she won’t be able to get in. I give her a call and let her know that this is the one place in the world that I might actually be able to use my meager crumb of celebrity and get her in the door.

So I get to the room and start to stroll down the line. Pooka isn’t hard to spot because she’s wearing six inch platform boots and… well… this:

Pooka is the one on the right. You can’t see it too well in this picture, but she’s also covered in glitter.

(Also, those aren’t cat ears, they’re horns. I made the mistake of calling her a catgirl and she pointed out my mistake.)

She’s only about 20 people from the front of the line, so I wander over and say hello. Then I pull her out of the line and we head to the door where I’m also going to try and work my mojo to get her and another friend.

I met Gregory Noveck at the con last year, he’s a fan of the books that works in the movie business, and he’s been kind enough to help clue me in to some of the mysteries of how Hollywood works.

I introduce the two of them, and we chat for a moment or two until the panel before mine finishes. Then I show my badge to the door guy and head inside with my two friends and a few of the other speakers and press people. Once I’m in, I can see that there’s actually a ton of seats available. Pooka didn’t need my help after all.

With Pooka and Greg are safely inside, I head out again to get a drink of water and burn a little nervous energy. I’m preoccupied with the upcoming panel, a little nervous because I’m going to be up there with some people who are a Pretty Big Deal.

It’s not until almost 5 minutes later that I start thinking of how this must have looked to the other people standing in line around Pooka.

So for the record, I’d like to officially state that I’m not a pervert.

Well, wait. Depending on your viewpoint, I probably am.

But I’d like to officially state that I’m not the particular flavor of tacky pervert I must have looked like to the casual observer. I didn’t just show up for my panel, troll down the line until I found some random, scantily-clad, hot girl, and pull her inside as some sort honorary arm candy. We know each other. We’re friends.


  • 12:00: The Epic Panel

(Click to Embiggen.)

We talked about epic fantasy.

It was a good panel, but we needed more time or fewer people. Seven is too many in my opinion, especially when you’ve got this many heavy hitters. Especially if you consider that we’re folks who tend to measure our word counts in terms of millions.

For the most part, I tried to keep my answers brief and to the point. And a little funny never hurts, either. I got a few good laughs from the audience and didn’t make an ass of myself, so I consider the experience a success.

If you’re interested in the details, you can check out some videos of the panel over here.

After the panel, Martin came up and shook my hand, said he’d really enjoyed my second book. Said it was a good, quick read. A page-turner.

I was caught completely off guard by this. I was stunned and flattered, in all honesty. Luckily, I didn’t have time to make an ass of myself because the people in charge quickly hustle us over to our….

  • 1:30 Epic Signing

Everyone on the panel sits down to sign books for a while. Paolini and Martin were busy as bees. I wasn’t in nearly as big a demand, which was actually really nice as it gave me the chance to hang out and chat with the people that wanted their books signed. That’s something there isn’t time for me to do at some of the bigger events where we get 300+ people.

  • 2:30 – Ronin

I owe allegiance to no man. I wander the exhibit hall, a law unto myself, looking at catgirls and thinking a lot about waveform motion.

  • 4:30 – Christopher Fucking Moore.

I hear that Jim Butcher’s signing is finishing up at 4:30, so I wander over to meet him and see if he’s interested in grabbing an early dinner with Sanderson, Paolini and I.

As an unexpected treat, Amber Benson is there as well. I totally get a hug. Because I’m awesome.

Then I realize one of the other guys there signing books is Christopher Moore. And at first all I can think is, “Fucksocks!”

You see, up until a year ago, I’d never read anything Moore had written. Then I picked up a copy of You Suck to read on a plane and immediately fell in love. The next day I went to my local indi bookstore and bought every book he’d ever written.

I’ve been meaning to write a blog about his books for ages. But for now, let me simply say that he’s brilliant. Double plus brilliant.

I grab a quick handshake and do a brief, “Hello. Your stuff is incredible.” And leave it at that, lest I over-gush.

Then I buy the last two special-edition copies of Lamb they have for sale. (They look like bibles, gold leaf and everything) One is for me, and the other I’m going to use it as a prize for Worldbuilders later on this year.

  • 5:00 – Dinner

So Sanderson, Butcher, Paolini, and Rothfuss walk into a bar….

Or rather, we walk through a bar, and into a restaurant to have dinner. We’re accompanied by Christopher’s sister, Angela, and Jim’s friend, Priscilla Spencer. I know Priscilla from way back (She does Books for Boobs, among other things.) But I never realized that she was the same Priscilla that did Jim’s maps for the Codex Alera.

Yeah. I’m kinda thick sometimes.

We have a lovely time over dinner. We tell stories and engage in the geeky book talk.

Unfortunately, I have a previous engagement, and I have to leave far sooner than I’d like.

I stand up and put my napkin on the table. “I’m really sorry,” I say. “But I’ve got to get going. I’m doing a little cameo appearance at Wootstock.”

I try to say this casually. As if I do this sort thing all the time. But I’m pretty sure I sound smug as hell. Because the truth is, I’m really, really fucking excited about getting to be part of Wootstock.

Also, I am slightly terrified. Slightly completely terrified.

It turns out Jim and Priscilla have tickets for Wootstock, so we share a taxi on the way there….

I’m in a taxi with Jim Butcher, heading to a theater where I’m going to meet with members of the Geek Gliterati. I’m heading to a theater where I’m going to stand onstage, alone, and read something to a crowd of over 1000 people.

My life has become rather strange over the last couple years….

*     *     *

Next: Wootstock!

Also posted in conventions, geeking out, Tales from the Con, videos | By Pat50 Responses

Interview with Jim Butcher and other book geekery.

Here’s a few items of interest while I’m putting together the next ComicCon blog.

As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, I’m a big fan of Jim Butcher.

While out at ComicCon this year, I got a chance to interview him. It was a ton of fun, and I only geeked out a little bit about how good his books are.

[Edit: In case you’re wondering, the interview is spoiler-free.]

[Later Edit: It’s spoiler-free for Ghost Story. Around 10: 50 there’s a spoiler for what happens in Changes, the book right before Ghost Story.

Sorry about that.]

Seriously. If you haven’t tried the Harry Dresden books, you really need to. They’re so fucking good.

In other news, NPR has finished collating everyone’s initial nominations for the 100 best Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels of all time. They took the recommendations of about 5000 people and compiled them into a list that includes about 230 books/series. Now they’re giving people 10 days to vote go in and vote for their 10 favorite books.

When I first flipped through the list, I was a little disappointed not to see The Name of the Wind on there. But only a little disappointed. It’s a big genre, after all, and I’m very new to the scene.

Then someone pointed out that while The Name of the Wind isn’t listed, The Kingkiller Chronicle is.

Needless to say, I was giddy as a schoolgirl. A big beardy schoolgirl whose book just made it onto a very flattering list.

If you’re interested, you can head over here and vote. It’s an amazing list of books, and trying to pick just ten titles to vote for is an interesting mental exercise.

That’s all for now, next post on Friday.


Also posted in Me Interviewing Other Folks, videos | By Pat86 Responses

Another list of books.

So when I was at NADWcon last weekend, I was on a panel titled: “What To Read When You’re Not Reading Pratchett.”

My co-panelists were Marian Crane and Kristine Smith. And we spent a pleasant hour discussing books we loved with the audience.

Rather than slow the panel down to a crawl by spelling out all the author’s names and/or the titles of the books. I offered to post up the list of books we compiled here on my blog.

However, I was moderating the panel, and when I moderate, I’m usually too busy abusing my power to take notes. Luckily, Marian was nice enough to jot down the books recommended by both the panelists and the helpful, clever members of the audience. Then she mailed them to me so I could post them up here for everyone to see.

I feel I should mention that we made no attempt to make this list comprehensive. These were just the books that came up in our discussion:

Our main criteria selection were books that were strong in: Worldbuilding, Characterization, and Language. (As those are areas where Pratchett excels).

We tried with somewhat less success to bring up titles that focused on other things we liked about Prattchett’s writing: the inclusion of humor, careful handling of ethical issues, and a “feel-good” quality to the books themselves.  This was somewhat less successful, as these are more ephemeral things, and harder to point at in a book.

What to read after you’ve read all available Pratchett books:

Douglas Adams: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, science fiction comedy
Neil Gaiman: fantasy and horror novels and graphic novels
Peter S. Beagle: The Last Unicorn, A Fine and Private Place, The Innkeeper’s Song. fantasy
Steven Brust: Vlad Taltos/Dragaera novels, fantasy
Glen Cook: Garrett, P.I. novels, fantasy mystery
Brandon Sanderson: Mistworld novels, Warbreaker, Elantris, fantasy
Jim Butcher: Dresden Chronicles, urban fantasy
Robert Jordan/ Brandon Sanderson: Wheel of Time series, fantasy
Lyndon Hardy: Master of the Five Magics series, fantasy
Walter Jon Williams: Drake Maijstral series, sf
Robert Zelazny: The Chronicles of Amber & many more, fantasy and sf
C.J. Cherryh: nearly anything, fantasy and sf
Barbara Hambly: nearly anything, fantasy and sf
Patricia McKillip: nearly anything, fantasy
Lois Bujold: the Miles Vorkosigan series, sf
P.C. Hodgell: the Kencyr novels, fantasy
Robin Hobb: the Assassin series, the Liveship Series, fantasy. Look also for her books as Megan Lindholm
David Weber: Honor Harrington series, sf
Diane Duane: ‘Wizard’ series and ‘Middle Kingdoms’ Series, fantasy
David Brin: the Uplift War series, sf
Ellen Kushner: Swordspoint and sequels, fantasy
Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett: Point of Hopes, Point of Dreams, fantasy
Ursula K. Le Guin: Earthsea books, Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe of Heaven, many others, fantasy and sf.
Orson Scott Card & Kathryn H. Kidd: Lovelock (The Mayflower Trilogy), sf
Peter David: Sir Apropos of Nothing trilogy, fantasy
Martha Wells: The Element of Fire, the Cloud Roads, many others, fantasy
Angela Carter: novels and short stories, magic realism
Tanith Lee: fantasy novels and short stories
Liz Williams: Inspector Chen novels science fantasy, mystery. Also see Inspector Chen series from Xiaolong Qiu, modern mysteries
Michael Marshall: The Straw Man and other novels, horror/sf
Georgette Heyer: comedy of manners
P.G. Wodehouse: comedy of manners
E.F. Benson: Mapp & Lucia novels, comedy of manners
Galen Beckett: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, historical fantasy/alternate universe
Jacqueline Carey: Terre d’Ange novels, historical fantasy, alternate universe
Dorothy Dunnett: The Lymond Chronicles, House of Niccolo Series, historical fiction
Mary Stewart: The Merlin Chronicles, historical Fiction
Ray Bradbury: Something Wicked This Way Comes, fantasy/horror
Christopher Fry: ‘The Lady’s Not for Burning’, play, historical romantic comedy
Tom Stoppard: ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’, play, historical comedy/drama
Jasper Fforde: Shades of Grey and other novels, sf
William Goldman: The Princess Bride, fantasy
C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters, Christian satire
Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, alternate history
Daniel Keyes: ‘Flowers for Algernon’ short story, sf
Lloyd Alexander: The Chronicles of Prydain, children’s Fantasy
Lee Martinez: The Automatic Detective, sf comedy/ Mystery
Barry Hughart: The Master Li books, Chinese historical fantasy
E. Hoffmann Price: The Devil Wives of Li Fong, The Jade Enchantress, Chinese historical fantasy
Fritz Leiber: ‘Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser’ fantasy series, other fantasy and horror novels
Vernor Vinge: ‘A Fire Upon the Deep’ and other sf novels
Phil and Kaja Foglio: Girl Genius graphic novels, steampunk fantasy
Hiromu Arakawa: Fullmetal Alchemist manga and anime Series, steampunk fantasy

There’s a fair amount of overlap between this list and my personal list of Must Read fantasy that I posted a while back. Some of that’s because I was on the panel, but another big piece of it is because some books are simply great reads. Classics become classics for a reason.

It goes without saying that if you were there at the panel and remember a book that didn’t get added here, you should feel free to mention it in the comments below.


Also posted in all sorts of different types of books, conventions | By Pat65 Responses
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