Susan’s Salon: 2020 August 2/3

The first open thread for August! Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday Sydney time (still Sunday in most places) . It’s fine to be sad, worried, angry or happy (or all of those things at once). Please feel free to post either troubling news or pleasant distractions in the comments for this open thread. [However, no cranky conflicts between each other in the comments. Links, videos, cat pictures etc are fine – be nice to one another!] Whatever you like but be nice to one another 😇

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45 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2020 August 2/3

  1. Ignoring the big awards topic for this week, it was another rough week, with a death in the family disturbing my schedule. I read 4 books this week and am about to finish an audiobook I’ve powered through today (Kate Elliott’s Unconquerable Sun).

    The books were a mixed bag. I wound up really enjoying Jenn Lyons’ The Memory of Souls (which I mentioned I was reading last week) through the end, whose characters have really damn grown on me despite the book’s many other problems. And SA Chakraborty’s The Empire of Gold was a fun and satisfying capper to her Daevabad trilogy.

    Then there were the final two Planetfall books, which I binged on my way to and from the funeral which…..I’m not sure why I read. The first two books were books i enjoyed but didn’t love, and book 3 was utterly redundant of book 2 and book 4 was just…..ugh. The whole series, which I got in the Hugo Packet, is filled with excellent prose that makes it easy to read quickly as well as strong examinations of protagonists with mental traumas….and yet it puts each of those protagonists through similar stresses, in ways that in the end strike me as distasteful, especially for the last few protagonists who were blameless for their difficulties (the first protagonist was at least complicit in the initial events which exacerbated their traumas, which justified things a bit). I’m obviously missing what these books are trying to do, since all I get is “show how people can be seriously damaged by emotional trauma and watch how additional stress can lead to their utter collapses” by the last book. Which well, was not what I guess I should’ve been reading while mourning for my own family I guess 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sorry to read that the losses and struggles continue, garik. This is a very hard time in so many ways. I hope you are still able to mourn in ways that are comforting to you, despite the pandemic’s restrictions on our movements and gatherings.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. garik16, I’m sorry for your loss.

    I’ve had extra time for reading this week because of the Eid holiday. I read Megan O’Keefe’s Velocity Weapon, which I’d seen reviewed positively. There were aspects of it that I really enjoyed, but the pacing was really off and at 560 pages it turned into a bit of a slog.

    I bounced into non-SFF after that and was very pleased to read Andrew Greig’s At the Lock of the Green Corrie. It’s probably the perfect intersection of writing about nature, poetry and Scotland.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I just now found out there was a voters’ packet for the Sir Julius Vogel awards….

    I did happen to notice that supporting members of CoNZealand had voting rights on this one. I didn’t vote, though, because I didn’t feel I knew the field well enough. If I’d *known* I could have got even a good-sized chunk of the finalists delivered to my inbox…. Did anyone else hear about this before the vote? Am I just dense, and missed all the publicity?

    (I could have got *free books*! I’m mortified.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nope, never heard that we could vote or that there was a voters packet. I watched the replay of the awards. It was the second half of the Retro Hugos video. I didn’t really know about many of the finalists, but it was nice to see people being able to get together in person without needing masks!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I heard about this from the CoNZealand members’ Facebook group. I don’t recall if it was posted anywhere else.

      The packet was accessible via a Google drive that you had to request access to. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet because Hugos but I’m looking forward to diving into it at some point in the near future. (Similarly, I felt kind of uncomfortable voting as an American that has never been to New Zealand.)


    3. I would have sworn that CoNZeand had notified members in the e-mail newsletter about the SJV finalists and the packet (as, apparently, would they) but I checked my e-mail archive, and apart from mentioning that nominations were open in January, they did no further promotion or announcement of the finalists and the packet.

      Then I realized that because I had subscribed to the SFFANZ website back in January, I got their notification about the finalists and packet, which I posted for Mike back in the beginning of May, and that’s how I knew about it.

      I know that their Publications Division Head resigned around the beginning of June. I suspect that there were a lot of balls dropped in May and June due to that disruption. It still seems inexplicable that it was so poorly promoted.


  4. The New York Public Library has reopened some branches for “grab and go” pickups. You reserve books online, and they have them ready for you on the reserve shelves, already checked out. You just go and pick up your books, dropping off returns if you choose. Interestingly, no one inspects your library card or ID. It’s all trust-based for now.

    The Mid-Manhattan branch is one of the open ones. It’s been closed for remodeling for two years, and it’s nice to be able to go there again, even if you can’t browse just yet.


  5. Susan’s very festive this week!

    Hugos went pretty well, I thought, considering stuff on “tape”, people from all over live from their living rooms or movie theaters. GRRM did a nice job with props and hats.

    @Steve: Supporting members have *always* been able to vote for Hugos (it was the key to the Puppies’ “plan”), and the packet has been available for years. Throw yourself on the mercy of the con and see if they’ll let you get one now.

    I was about half satisfied with the winners (except BDP Short; WTF people?!!) so good enough. I didn’t read any of the novels not having a supporting membership this year or the money to buy books and my local libraries aren’t open yet — they’ve only got No Contact stuff and the books have to sit untouched for 4 days between patrons so I can’t imagine how long the waiting lists are now.

    Must buy Chicago membership. Already making tentative pizza and steakhouse plans. I wonder if they’ll be able to get the planetarium for First Night again?

    Agents of SHIELD has gone full in for the feels. So many sad feels. Not everyone’s making it out. Only 3 more episodes — 2 more weeks — which gives me a major sad. I know I’ll cry. I’ll probably watch the final 2 episodes (aired together) almost-live or maybe even live-live if I think I’ll need commercial breaks.

    Meanwhile, I have GOT to cut down on the carbs. I fear when winter comes and I have to start wearing trousers again, they won’t fit.

    We’re up to a total of 5 cloth masks, about a dozen disposables, and a face shield for the 2 of us. Conserving the rubbing alcohol which largely gets used to wipe down the credit cards after they’ve been deployed out in the plague lands. Much credential food acquired this week so we won’t be in danger.


    1. Voting and packet for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards. Awards given at New Zealand’s national convention which was CoNZealand this year.

      Had to buy some masks last week. The ones I handmade early on (when I couldn’t find any to buy on or offline) are getting a little worn from wash and wear. Found a 10 pack so the two of us should be pretty well set.


  6. I am trying to organise a farewell lunch for a long-standing and much respected colleague who is retiring in a couple of weeks, and the state government just announced a tightening of social gathering restrictions due to an increase in coronavirus numbers here (small increase, no community transmission yet). But if they tighten any more we might have to have a lunch lottery.


  7. Sorry for your loss, Garik16.

    onto the reading blog: I finished Gideon the Ninth! It wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t terrible. Basically just a cozy locked room mystery with some more gruesome than usual death? Overall it was a fun read, though. I did pre-order the next book after finishing it as I want to know where it goes from here, and I think it has the potential to be a much stronger book than the first.

    Also about 60% of the way through Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell. Much of it is a historical fiction/ode to the 60s music scene; there are the usual name-drops and sense of entangling with his previous novels (notably the guitarist, Jasper de Zoet, is a distant relation of Jacob de Zoet from Thousand Autumns…) and various supernatural elements creeping in from his other works. I don’t think I can fully express how I feel about this book right now but it lights my brain up at least a few times per chapter. It makes me want to write, and the act of writing helped me process some things I needed to get to grips with.

    In books/authors I’ll never read again news: John Boyne apparently thinks a cursory google search and copy-pasting the first result with absolutely no critical thought that maybe Octorok eyeballs aren’t typical ingredients for a clothing dye is absolutely ok and is owning up to his sheer mind-blowing laziness on Twitter. If he’s this shit at researching something *so basic* how wrong are all his other books on anything that would require genuine research to understand? I do more work for the things I write that I will never, ever show to anyone else, let alone publish for the world’s eyes to see.


    1. Yeah, when Paolo Bacg-whatsis openly admitted that in his book all about about the importance of calories and power generation, he had power efficiently generated by tropical mammoths (?!) and forgot that waterwheels exist… nope. Too busy with the creepy objectification I guess.

      TIL what an Octorok eyeball is and that’s it’s so rare you wouldn’t use it for clothes dye because it makes potions. From the first link on search. And they make yellow anyway not red.

      That he doesn’t want to fix it — gaah!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. yeah if the Octorok, keese, Lizalfos etc didn’t tip him off, maybe the idea of using gemstones in a dye (for entirely the wrong colour of dye) should’ve? Or the idea that mixing a “spicy pepper” into something would automatically make it red? Or sunshrooms, or where the hell is Hylia and is it particularly known for its shrooms back in the mists of time? If he’s using a computer to copy-paste all this, most of these words are red-underlined which should be a big tip-off that something isn’t quite right. If he’s typing them on a typewriter or handwriting his manuscripts that should’ve given him enough time to think “hey, these don’t sound like real things!”

        Not to mention the frankly *insane* idea that the first recipe for red dye on Google might be the same sort of thing used to dye clothes back in Attila the Hun’s time, even if it was a legit recipe.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t believe WP let my comment on Chap. 18 of Hom. Cart. show up but that was a ripping yarn. And I am most saddened on behalf of Sir Pangolin in Chap. 20.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey all. I’ve been down for the last three or four weeks with abdominal pain that makes both my doctor and I strongly suspect my gallbladder is acting up. Of course, getting the damn thing to *prove* it is the game afoot. I have the big fancy scan tomorrow my time. Keep your fingers crossed it does so that maybe I can finally get rid of both the pain and the lack of appetite so severe I’m subsisting on applesauce, canned pears, chicken noodle soup, gatorade, and the occasional citrus soda.

    In other news, Covid somehow got into the rehab hospital my mom was in, and after a couple weeks, we managed to get special dispensation from the State of California to get her out of there. (Mom has leukemia and catching the coronavirus is probably a death sentence.) She did end up going to the hospital again after that, but it was for plain ordinary chemo, and the hospital she does chemo in has their own lab for Covid testing and can afford to be slightly more aggressive with it. Given last we checked, the rehab hospital has 13+ patients with Covid…I think we made the right call.



    1. katster, I’m SO glad you got your mom out. (I was worried about her. Because you are my friend and she’s your mom)

      I’ve known a number of people who had those pesky gallbladders out. Some were back to normal in a week, some took a couple of months, but none of them regretted it. No pain and being able to eat was worth it. I hope the scan provides a path forward.

      Susan’s Salon is helping me greatly in dealing with the stress and isolation.


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