Susan’s Salon: 2021 April 25/26

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Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday (Sydney time which is still Sunday in most countries). It’s fine to be sad, worried, vaccinated, unvaccinated-yet, angry or maybe even happy (or all of those things at once).

Please feel free to post what you like (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! Whatever you like and be nice to one another 😇


48 responses to “Susan’s Salon: 2021 April 25/26”

  1. I’m currently listening to Becky Chamber’s The Galaxy, and The Ground Beneath which is a remarkably laid back affair. My book of the moment is Roger Zelazny’s My Name is Legion. And my sweet indulgence is Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I even bought the large container of them.

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    • Okay, late update on the boring week —

      I finished the second season of The Boys. I ended up enjoying most everything about it — the plots, the characters, the acting, even the bit parts/cameos. Not so much the excessive black hair dye — dunno why that bugged me so much — though I suppose even that fit with the comic-book theme. I’m looking forward to season 3.

      Watched the last episode of Falcon/Winter Soldier. I was again impressed by the effects, even though I was watching on my Kindle Fire in the sunlight and some of it was way too dark. Didn’t like all the white in Sam’s suit — can you imagine how dirty that would get?? I’m getting more and more fond of Sam’s accent, which is apparently genuine to Anthony Mackie (he was born in Louisiana), which makes me appreciate the appropriate family history they’ve created behind him, which makes me wonder if the character in the comics had the same family history, in which case kismet, or whether they just created that whole schtick just because Mackie couldn’t do any other accents.

      Other than that, this week has been a lot of not much. Some more planting, some more telling Roundus what a good cat she is for getting better so impressively. She just tells me to peel her more catfood cans. The last batch of ducklings should be getting mailed today and arriving Wednesday, but I haven’t received the mailing confirmation yet. When they arrive I will probably be doing a lot of swearing and what-was-I-thinking about having so many baby birds all at once!

      In reading, I finished The Name of All Things and went on to The Memory of Souls, which I’m nearly finished with now. I am getting burned out with all the betrayals and complications and etc. — it almost seems the complications are more the point of the story than the story itself. Nonetheless, Lyons still sells it well most of the time, and I have no idea how either she or her editors keep all the details straight.

      In the midst of Memory I found out that Tor has just made a Murderbot short available for free on its website, called “Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory”. It’s been available for awhile, I think as an add-on to the hardback?, but has just now been put on the Tor.com site. So I stopped to read that (very nice vignette!), which then induced me to go back and re-listen-to both Exit Strategy and Network Effect, both of which made me very happy. Which made me think more seriously about the appropriateness of Murderbot being on the Novel shortlist. People occasionally point out that comedy is overlooked for awards — and while this isn’t exactly comedy, it’s certainly more warm-and-fuzzy than a lot of award winners. So maybe I’ve been prejudiced against it when I have said in the past that it doesn’t belong on the Novel list. At the moment, it’s gonna be in my #2 slot after Piranesi, with the proviso that I haven’t read either the Jemisin or the Kowal yet — I’ve read all the others.

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  2. I have had my second shot, and the side effects were nothing this time. Arm barely sore for 24 hours, one small bout of chills, a couple of extra naps. Huzzah! Donut was had, and I’m sure I’ll have a superpower any minute now.

    Weather has been sunny and warm and very nice, except today it has decided to be winter again. Possibility of rain, which would be swell, although I fear all we will get is chilly, damp, leaden overcast.

    Wait! I have looked outside and seen a few drops falling! The patio is completely damp! ALERT THE MEDIA!!!

    The dimness displeases the credential. He is asleep at the window, but with his back to it.

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    • I had no meaningful reaction to either of Moderna jabs beyond some muscle soreness. I certainly heard the tales of woe from other people who either had dreadful reactions themselves or knew individuals who had.

      My osteopathic manipulation therapist who’s thirty five told me that her second Pfizer shot give her twenty four hours of chills, headache and muscle contractions. (And vomiting.) On the day the house they live in lost its power in February. So she, her husband and their two year old child huddled in bed for eighteen hours.

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      • My second shot (also Pfizer) gave me a sore arm and mild body aches for a few hours, but I was fine after that

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  3. Second shot for me is Tuesday. Busy week at work, ending with me getting a lot for next week! So yikes.

    Read four books this week: KM Szpara’s “First Become Ashes”, Echo Brown’s “Black Girl Unlimited”, Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s “Son of the Storm”, and today I finished Jenn Reese’s middle grade novel, “A Game of Fox & Squirrels” (which was nominated for the Norton/Nebula and I hadn’t heard of previously). A quartet of really difficult books honestly, dealing with heavy heavy themes (Race and Class among other issues in Black Girl Unlimited and Son of the Storm; Abuse in BGU, First Become Ashes, and A Game of Fox & Squirrels, etc.)

    Of them, First Become Ashes kind of stands out as the only one that doesn’t work – if you read Szpara’s prior work, “Docile,” you can expect a lesser grade but similar type of non-consensual activities on page, but unlike in that book, this book doesn’t really justify the inclusion? Like it wants to show seemingly the difficulties and challenges of childhood brainwashing and abuse, and then can’t commit seemingly to fully examining that as it reveals the magic the cult preached was true is actually real in some extent (but the book wants to make it sound like the magic comes not from pain and abuse but from hope and love, except it does very little to explore that) such that the main character and his enabler co-protagonist’s flight from people trying to help him becomes justified, and it’s just an utter mess. And when you’re dealing with non-consensual stuff on page like Szpara’s two books do, you better really nail your themes and issues, because otherwise it just becomes pointless.

    To end this post on a better note, Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s Son of the Storm is tremendous African-Inspired Epic Fantasy dealing with heavy themes, and a great start to a new trilogy. Comes out in three weeks, so highly recommended.

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  4. I haven’t been over here yet to say something dumb and help boost Camestros’ readership. There! Got that checked off my to-do list.

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  5. Vaccinations are going down in ages here in Sweden. They have now moved into what we call Phase 3 where people in risk groups below 60 are getting vaccinated together with everyone above 60. At least three of my friends of my age has now gotten their first dose. I guess we are 2-3 weeks from the last Phase when they will be open for everyone (even if the Regions will most likely continue to call people in order of age to avoid being overburdened).

    Myself, I finished of the book “Corpies” by Drew Hayes. The fifth book in his Super-Hero series where the previous four were YA-books. This is about the father of some of the previous protagonist. He’s starting to work as a Hero Liason for a Super Team of people without Hero-license who are working with rescue efforts in the aftermath of natural accidents, fires, villain attacks and the like. It was quite fun, I really like his writing.

    They have turned on the water for my cottage, so first barbecue next weekend (if it has stopped snowing). I will most likely move out there in a week or two. There were some complaints last year about Sir Scrittles and Nevyn murdering every bird who got near, so I will have to find some outdoor solution for them.

    There will be loud meowing

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    • Yes, this is a common issue with outdoor cats. I’m not anti outdoor cat as such, but they do need to be either monitored or somehow limited. Catios can work, or equivalent unclimbable fencing, though I imagine you don’t want to fence in much space near your cabin, or spend the amount that would require.

      We had one cat who would happily go out into our yard on a (long) leash tied to the steps, letting her poke about pretty much the whole space as she liked but keeping her from going further… as long as my husband put her on the leash. As soon as she saw me, she would carefully wrap the leash around the only tree in the space and act stuck, because even knowing she was being a faker, i couldn’t bring myself t leave her. And I’d feel obliged to keep watching, so she didn’t go ranging.

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      • That reminded me about a thing that happened that weekend and was probably the fault of a cat(parts of it at last).
        We had my five year old nice at a visit. There was a dead mice in our garden, probably left by a certain cat.
        Of course worst case scenario happened. We did lie to the kid. (She wanted the dead mice to stay there for all eternity and she often has a tantrum if thinks don’t go her way)
        Strangly her mother had 2 cats, one of them died and my nice doesn’t know that (the cat is dead for over a month).
        There is some speculation from her mother that she is autistic. I don’t know if it is that, or a reaction to the divorce of her parrents, plus more than one move and now the fact that she probably misses the contact to other children.

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      • We used to put our cat out on a very long leash, and he’d yell when he got legit stuck.

        It’s easier to keep EGG inside, as it keeps him from whining to go out, and he is such a stoopid cat he’s really not safe out there.

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      • Our cat is a stray we’d like to make into a fully indoor pet. However she’s determined to stay outside when the weather’s nice, and we’re not sure pushing her too hard would work out.

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  6. Still reading The Poppy War – 50% or so through it. Very much enjoying it, not finding it very grimdark really? Although [big spoiler event] has just occurred so perhaps that’s about to change.

    Mark Lawrence’s latest book is out in the UK in a few days so I’d like to get Poppy War finished, move onto that, then back to the next book in the Poppy War series.

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    • Yeah, that book really amps up the grimdark in the later parts. There’s a tweet from Kuang herself about that. I wish i could find it, but my google fu is not good enough right now.

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      • Well. Yes. I finished it last night and… hoo-boy, yeah that is both grim and dark. I’m going to read The Girl & the Mountain (by Mark Lawrence) and then probably Hiromi Kawakami’s People From My Neighbourhood as a palette cleanser before I dive into The Dragon Republic.

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      • I was going to try to find her tweets about TPW but was distracted by the fact she’s writing a new novel currently only being referred to as the Oxford novel, with the title reveal being on May 4!

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  7. Not much to report except that I was interviewed last week by a reporter from the local paper about my Hugo nomination. However, the article hasn’t come out yet. I’ll link to it once it does.

    In other news, I finally finished my sword and sorcery novella “The Black Knight”, which clocked in at over 30000 words.

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  8. I think I’ve very nearly finished design work on the SF Encyclopedia “clone” site to which we’ll have to switch when Gollancz pulls the plug in October. Looks much the same but there are some subcutaneous improvements. For example, searching headwords for the magazine IF actually finds the entry! The original site designers felt that search efficiency was much improved by screening out common words such as … yes, you guessed. It took me a while to realize that a search for the Heinlein title If This Goes On returned exactly the same list of entries as a search for the single word Goes.

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    • //. For example, searching headwords for the magazine IF actually finds the entry! //

      That’s impressive! While it is unfair to blame the magazine for not anticipating what a terrible name that is for search engines, also there is an irony that a SF magazines title would be a problem for future technology.

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    • Glad to hear that the SF Encyclopedia will be saved, because it’s a great resource. But yes, the SFF authors and editors of old had clearly never heard of SEO.

      BTW, is Gollancz moving away from SFF? Because I’ve noticed that the delivery times were the Gollancz SFF Masterworks books are terrible of late. Or is that just Brexit striking?

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      • Gollancz is mostly an SFF imprint these days, and it’s still going. The SF Gateway ebook reprint project that the SF Encyclopedia was linked to has slowed down lately, but then considering the sheer amount they’ve published already that’s maybe inevitable.

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      • I have heard depressing things from established Gollancz SF authors who no longer feel valued. The SF Gateway ebook site — created at the same time as the SFE, with cross-promotion built in — was redesigned in mid-2019. The new design broke all the existing links from SFE book titles to Gateway (I was able to create a workaround there), crippled the SFE’s rotating home page display of Gateway book links (nothing much to be done about that except substitute the SFE logo for the permanently displayed cover of, for some reason, Kate Wilhelm’s The Clewiston Test), and purged all the past SF Gateway blog posts which had promoted their ebook titles with SFE links. Since August 2019, no such promotional posts of any kind — mentioning or not mentioning SFE — have appeared at Gateway, where the once-rotating home page display of SFE entry links is permanently stuck on Michael Scott Rohan (see Kate Wilhelm above).

        SFE-at-Gollancz and SF Gateway were both brain-children of Malcolm Edwards, who saw them launched together in October 2011 and left Orion/Gollancz at the end of May 2019. It might be speculated, though not of course by loyal me, that corporate lack of enthusiasm for both projects began to set in at that point.

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  9. We had a prospective adoptive kid here over the weekend. (This is the fifth serious prospect in 2.5 years.) He’s 11, but he’s a surprisingly strong reader. At the Space Needle, I got him to read some of the posters about the history of the structure, and he reads quickly, fluidly, and naturally. When he hits a word he doesn’t know, he doesn’t even slow down: he just sounds it out and keeps rolling. I was impressed.

    And yet he told me he hates to read. “I only do it when I’m forced to.”

    His current caregivers are big readers, and they can’t understand it. (He’s only been with them a few weeks though.) They make him read 15 minutes a day, and they let him read graphic novels that he picks himself at the library. He goes through them pretty quickly, but he still complains about it.

    I can’t help but think that someone who’s such a strong natural reader just needs a little push to discover the pleasure of reading, but Eric is worried about making the kid miserable by trying to force him to do something he just doesn’t want to do. I’ve done some research online, and the best I’ve seen is suggestions for making reading a cooperative activity. (E.g. I’ll read to him and then have him read to me. Or we’ll both read for 15 minutes and then compare notes.) Eric’s thinking, though, is that if he were going to be a passionate reader, he’d already be one by now. (We both were, at that age.) I’m still thinking that at age 11 a kid can still be molded, to some degree.

    Does anyone have thoughts or experiences to share on this topic?

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    • He may just not like to read. My father was an engineer — very smart and writes and reads very well, but he’s read maybe six books in the past 30 years. He reads newspapers and technical information, but that’s about it.

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      • It doesn’t have to be fiction. We’d be satisfied if he were reading non-fiction. Our concern is that reading is highly correlated with success in society, and we don’t want to be guilty of neglect. A lot of being a parent turns out to be about making kids do things they don’t want to do. That’s painful and uncomfortable, but if you don’t do it, that’s neglect. (Or being an uncle/aunt.) 🙂

        So, on the one hand, I don’t want to be a jerk who keeps pressing him to do something he hates to do. But, on the other hand, if a little attention and gentle pressure could change his life, I don’t want to be guilty of neglecting him just because it was inconvenient for me to push him. God knows enough people have done that already.

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    • Not sure if learning the pleasure of reading is the correct thing, not everyone is into that. As Eric says, you most likely know at that age.

      On the other hand, there’s also the pleasure of learning which is something else. I.e, if the kid likes cooking, buy cook books, if he likes sports, buy sport books – fiction or books on learning better techniques. Sometimes it can be enough to get that it is useful to read.

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    • My parents would discuss the books they’d read recently and what they enjoyed/liked about them with each other at the dinner table. We kids got exposed to the idea that grownups read for enjoyment, not as homework, in a way that wasn’t aimed at us. We were very young though, so I’m not sure how an 11 year old would react.

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      • @Lorien That’s a good idea. He’s not living with us yet, though. We’re in the exploration phase right now. It looks very good so far, though. He’ll spend one or two nights here this week.

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    • Maybe he simply hasn’t found the books he enjoys yet. I remember that I fell into a sort of reading slump at approx. age 12 – 14, because I’d grown out of children’s books, what little YA there was were the dreaded problem books about drug addiction and the like and when I tried to read the adult books on my parents’ shelves, I bumped hard off family sagas about people having affairs and getting divorced, which just bored me to death. So I only read non-fiction about subjects which interested me for about two years. Then I discovered SFF.

      Anyway, fingers crossed that it works out for you and the kid.

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      • Yes, 11/12 is the awkward age where kids age out of children’s books (what is not called middle grade). In my day, we mostly went straight to adult fiction, but it took some time to figure out what genres and types of books you liked, especially when you realised that what was on your parents’ shelves (a whole lot of family sagas, romances, book club fiction and bestsellers of the 1960s/70s in my parents’ case, even though my Mom actually prefers mysteries) wasn’t something you cared for.

        Nowadays, there is a lot of very good YA for kids who’ve outgrown middle grade/children’s books. But it might still take a while to find out what the kid likes.

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    • I like the suggestions from Hampus and Lorien. And I think it’s a big mistake to try to force any kid to “enjoy” reading, or to think that the kid has to fit YOUR model of success in order to be successful.

      Encourage him to learn, think, and have an open mind, sure. But let him choose how he engages with the world.

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      • That’s pretty good advice for an aunt or an uncle, but I don’t believe a responsible parent of an 11-year-old can be that hands-off. You’re constantly having to make them do things like brush their teeth, do their homework, get off the couch and do something outside, to tell the truth and not tell lies, etc. You can try reasoning with them, offering bribes (e.g. more screen time), or imposing penalties (e.g. reducing screen time), but whatever approach you take toward influencing their behavior, you are responsible for molding them into an adult. It’s not entirely in your hands, and it’s certainly possible to be too heavy handed, but it’s not right to just walk away from the responsibility.

        Good parents can made a big difference. Bad parents certainly do.

        A lot of these kids have seen the worst of both worlds. They’ve had parents who alternately abused them and neglected them. They’re distrustful of adults, and they tend to see us as people who do things to them, not for them. A lot of parenting a foster kid is about trying to heal the damage and encourage them to grow in ways they couldn’t before. There’s every reason to believe that such kids benefit from a policy of steady involvement with gentle nudges in the right direction. And, yes, that means making judgments as to what the right direction is.

        I 100% agree that trying to beat the kid into reading would be wrong. Even trying to shame him into it would be wrong. I’m even prepared to eventually conclude that reading just isn’t ever going to be his thing. But I really need to feel like I gave him the best chance at it. He has a strong aptitude for reading. I don’t want to just throw that away without at least making some effort to save it.

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        • But you don’t expect your kid to ever LOVE brushing their teeth or making their bed or so on. That’s a huge difference. You can force a kid to read, but if you force him to do it he’s even less likely to ever enjoy it.

          “They’re distrustful of adults, and they tend to see us as people who do things to them, not for them.”

          Remind yourself of this sentence as many times as you can. Don’t make reading into something that has been done TO him.

          “I don’t want to just throw that away without at least making some effort to save it.”

          Follow Hampus’s suggestion. Find whatever the kid is interested in and provide him with lots of books about that. Don’t make reading into an end in and of itself — let it be the pathway to whatever lights the kid up.

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        • True up to a point. 11 year olds need boundaries and expectations but your capacity to shape their taste and reading habits is a lot more limited by that age. If they like films, watch films with them and talk about them, same with TV etc. It’s the critical facility that is important. [just my 2 cents 🙂 with all the pitfalls of parental advice – and I’ve never attempted parenting an adopted child]

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