Susan’s Salon: 2021 May 9/10

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 😇

May has the sweetest name of all the months

47 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2021 May 9/10

  1. I got scheduled for an in-hospital five EEG stress test this past Friday in an effort to get to the bottom of my blackouts and headaches. It isn’t until this Autumn but will get moved up if they get a open slot in the epileptic monitoring unit where I’m having it done.

    In the meantime, I’m enjoying an amazing run of excellent genre listening. I just finished up Simon R. Green’s The Best Thing You Can Steal, the first in an excellent new series, and will be listening to P. Dejeli Clark’s A Master of Djinn next. Seanan Macquire’s Angel of The Overpass, the next in her Ghost Roads series, is also on the To Be Listened list.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So I’ve read Piranesi. It was good (better than I feared), but nothing I would have nominated had I read it in time. My hold on the ebook of Beowulf has become available. I look forward to following along as I listen to the online reading of it. My library has purchased A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky at my request. They’ve just gotten it in and I’ve put a hold on it. Not sure how or if I’m going to consider the rest of Best Related Work, but I’m excited about these two!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. gahhhh, I think my computer just died….

    (Then how are you posting this, Steve? Because I have been online so long and am so in tune with the Internet that I no longer need a computer to connect. Or I have a very old and cranky backup laptop. You choose.)

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Heh. I had to get my laptop fixed early this year, and in the meantime went back to using my state-of-the-art-in-2010 computer with the Big Old Screen which is its redeeming feature. If I had your knack for viewing the Cosmic All, I could be free, too!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I am now playing the How Badly Have I Screwed Myself On Backups game…. One WIP somewhat banjaxed, the rest saved up-to-date on the external HD, which is not too bad. But all my Unknown spreadsheets and the magazine PDFs were on the main machine, and so I’m going to have to do some re-downloading there…. Also, I’ve lost the cover image I was going to use on the next self-pubbed novel, but since it wasn’t a very good cover, maybe this is a good excuse to make a better one.

        Of course, it also means I’m doing the Working On Another Device dance. Update this! Confirm that! Reset the other! “You are using a different device, is this really you or *have you been HACKED???* Re-enter all your passwords to continue!” Sometimes I think these things are far too paranoid – when my router died, I was locked out of Twitter because I just *looked* at a Twitter-reading app on my phone.

        And of course this is the old and cranky backup machine, so *it* could die at any minute… Oh, well, that’s life.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Last time I had a laptop die on me I was able to open it up, connect the hard drive to another device and extract most of the contents. This relies on the fault not being in the hard drive, and you bring pretty sure you never want to use the defunct laptop again (not all laptops go back together after being pulled apart). Also helps if you have a lot of interesting cables and connectors to hand.


    3. Commiserations. I just screwed up my laptop (entirely my own fault) myself and had to reinstall an OS. Thankfully I’m up to date when it comes to backups and my external HD sits snugly in my drawer. I also acquired a live system USB stick in the course of these adventures.


  4. Just read (and really loved) Andy Weir’s “Project Hail Mary.” It’s moving, interesting, has multiple plot elements, characters I cared about, and a well-written ending. There are a couple of slow places (but just a couple), and there’s at least one cringe-worthy scene (where was the editor?), but, overall, those are small blemishes. The what-if is a little far-fetched but, given that, the rest of the science is pretty solid. (I have a quibble or two, but nothing serious.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m a third of the way through Project Hail Mary now, and I’m reminded of why the movie of The Martian, with its character development and human interaction, was superior to the book (despite the fact that I greatly enjoyed the novel).

      As with The Martian, this is all about ideas, with copious amounts of explaining of statistics and physics facts, with almost no character development. Which is cool! I can totally appreciate that! But it makes for an interesting thought experiment, not for an interesting novel.

      Even though Artemis didn’t get particularly stunning reviews or widespread buzz, I really liked it because it was very much about the main character, rather than just recitations of facts and statistics.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I spent too much time yesterday editing a one-day quiz I wrote for Learned League (James Bond Villains).
    Full immunity kicks in Tuesday. Week’s assignments include housekeepers and plumbers coming in, getting a haircut, getting the car inspected, and going into an actual store to buy tuna for Wisp, our adopted stray. Hopefully eating out, going to the library and donating blood as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Just re-read Moorcock’s second Hawkmoon trilogy and was well-satisfied. Given the current obsession with “the multiverse,” it is interesting to read these books because a lot of the story is based on alternate versions of characters and character-driven shifts in universes. The MCU writers ought to give them a look!


  7. Duckies and more:

    Miscellaneous spring pics, with duckies

    In watching:

    — I ended up binging 10 episodes of Outlander all night one night, mostly just because Sam Heughan is so sexy. I regret nothing.

    — Watched Snowpiercer. SUCH a weird movie.

    — Watched the first episode of The Irregulars. Thought it was very bad, and it even went so far as to make Watson look like a bad guy, which is just heresy.

    — Watched Enola Holmes, which I thought was sweet, and Millie Bobby Brown did a great job. But I always feel like Henry Cavill is doing a fake British accent, even though I know he’s actually British.

    — Watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — the Daniel Craig version — which wasn’t as good as the book. But it made me wonder why Bond actors always refuse to do accents (although Craig did do a Southernish accent in Knives Out). And I mean, geez, he even had Stellan Skarsgard right there to learn an authentic accent from!

    — Watched the entire series of Shadow and Bone. I felt pretty eh about it overall, and I didn’t especially like any of the characters except for the gunslinger. But I did like the effects and the sets.

    In reading:

    — Got sucked back into a few more Loretta Chase novels. What can I say, she’s addictive.

    — Tried reading Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan but dnfed it pretty quickly. Everything felt artificial and tropey. I did like the god characters, what we got to see of them in the first couple of hours, but it wasn’t worth putting up with the book to see more of them.

    — Read about half of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. On the one hand, it’s got plenty of good descriptive writing; OTOH, I kept getting irritated by awkward grammar that kept popping up. I got more and more involved with the plot for the first couple of hours, but then it seemed to stall out. I’ll go back to it as soon as I’m finished with the current Chase book I’m reading.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, PS, just a warning — the duckie page is very pic heavy, and I didn’t take the time to minimize the file sizes, so be patient with the loading time!


      1. Smol poultry!!! YAY! Thank you!

        The handfuls and boxful of ducklettes loaded up quickly, as did the automobilic chickens, as did the extreme close up of dawg teef.

        I shall return later for the felines. My DSL is WTF.


      2. Cattus is indeed not Roundus. Is Carmen a calico? That would explain her royalty.

        All your critters are lovely, but I think I’m fondest of Mr. Marsh. Love the toe tufts.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks!

        Sadly, those toe tufts only exist because Marsh is declawed. He showed up at a lady’s apartment as an adult stray, already declawed, and eventually made his way first to Mom’s indoor cat rescue colony and then to me because he would plaster himself to me whenever I went to visit. The apartment lady is the one who named him Marshmallow, and he is truly a Marshmallow of a cat.


      4. Aw, I’ve had declawed kitties too. One of them got lucky and kept all the function in his toes. He “sharpened” his paws, won an unexpected cat fight with local boss cat, and could pick up a dime out of shag carpet.

        Tortietude is real and extends to calicos. They are all royalty and you’d better treat them as such. Still missing my recently-gone tortie girl… though it is quieter without her Royal Proclamations.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Full immunity means I went out (still masked of course) and got a haircut for the first time in 2 years. Aaaaah. Literally a weight off my shoulders, and it’s a foot shorter at least. No more split ends, tangles, taking forever to dry, getting into everything, any of that.

    Spring means something out there is pollinating. I’m very stuffed up and snoring, and EGG has had a couple of mighty sneezing fits. One of which left cat snot on my arm. He’s fine otherwise, and continues to be really into food. Being A Cat of Very Little Brain, the sneeze attacks confuse him a bit.

    Reading random serieses that I don’t want to pay for with my remaining 3 weeks of free Kindle Unlimited.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I finally got my hair cut after too long back in March. It ended up shorter than I asked for because hairstylists always underestimate how much my hair is going to bounce up once the extra weight isn’t pulling it down. Even now it’s still a little shorter than I was going for, but I like it!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We had our pollen nightmare (it was soooo bad, even for NC) last month.
      My big read this week was Evelyn Lord’s Hellfire Clubs. Even given that the lurid image of the clubs was more myth than reality, it’s amazing how totally dull and tedious Lord makes her account.


  9. I have been reading, only a few decades late, The Dream Archipelago – apart from The Cremation which I read at school and then spent fifteen or twenty years trying vaguely to identify. It’s very good, but I’m more pleased at realising that now Christopher Priest has moved to the Scottish islands, he’s in the Dreich Archipelago.

    I’ll get my coat.


    1. Oh that does sound interesting! I would if they would like a paper on 2020 Presidential Election conspiracy theories among leaders of the 2015 Sad/Rabid Puppies Hugo controversy ;)…because I think I may have done all the research already!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You really should ask! It’s perfect, you have already done the work!

        Something from your Hugo packet might be just the thing (for pre-2020), and of course being in the Hugo packet shows bona fide involvement.


      2. I second Lurkertype here. You really should do it, Cam — I am very much enjoying the the Debarkle project and think something related would be great for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Well I finished The Girl & the Mountain over the weekend, and started People From My Neighbourhood by Kawakami Hiromi. I’m… a little disappointed in TG&TM I guess? It suffers from the usual middle book problems in that it meanders a bit, needs to raise the stakes but not *too* much and its own conclusion is only in service of the final piece of the story. There was at least one unnecessary death that felt like it was only being used to raise the stakes and make some room for whatever’s coming next.

    People From My Neighbourhood is a bit of an odd one – it’s basically micro-fictions about various characters that weaves together into a tapestry of a quirky town. None of the stories on their own add up to very much, but throughout each piece the characters and relationships between them are all slowly fleshed out to create something that I think will feel much bigger than its parts once I’m done reading it (which given its brevity will probably be the next time I pick it up to read.)


    1. People From My Neighbourhood – I’m a big fan of Kawakami anyway but this was actually really lovely. She does a lot with a little here, and builds up a truly quirky, weird imaginary world. It’s also SF-adjacent in many ways – a house that will play music for you, but only on your birthday, at 3pm. Strange diseases that turn you into a pigeon. No-gravity days.


  11. I’ve just got done reading Juliette Wade’s Mazes of Power and Transgressions of Power. It’s science fiction set in the underground of what appears to be a post-apocalyptic planet (possibly Earth?), but is really a story of different kinds of slavery: because of lack of genetic diversity caused by centuries of inbreeding, the ruling caste has become progressively less able to produce live, healthy babies, so women are essentially breeding stock valued only for their ability to reproduce, while their own desires and personhood are considered irrelevant. Members of the lower castes have a much healthier genetic base, but are groomed from birth to serve as slaves for their rulers in strictly-defined career paths, rather than having lives of their own. It’s also a story of how people can be psychologically programmed into accepting and even actively working for their own oppression. The plot features lots of political intrigue, with some progressive characters who are working for reform of their badly-broken social system.

    It took me a while to really get absorbed in the first book, but once I did, then I really flew through it and the sequel. I definitely recommend starting with the prequel novella The Persistence of Blood, which is not strictly required but does provide some good background setup for the novels.


  12. I fell asleep with my laptop on. I woke up to find the cat sleeping on it.

    This is a good bed!

    PS: Relevant to this website, the screen is actually Cam’s latest Derbarkle chapter.)

    I have some stuff to say about last weekend, but it’ll have to wait until I’m a little more together.


    1. @Cora

      I really liked the deep dive you took into Allison V. Harding (“The Elusive Allison V. Harding and How To Suppress Women’s Writing Again”). That was a fascinating history, as best as you could reconstruct it, of a forgotten writer. Your deconstruction of “Black God’s Kiss” and its theological argument was also interesting (“Retro Review: Black God’s Kiss by C.L. Moore or How To Suppress Women’s Sword and Sorcery Writing”). Of your reviews, I particularly liked the episode of The Mandalorian where you talked about the state of the Star Wars universe (“The Mandalorian Pays the Wages of Fear in The Believer”). Hope this helps.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you.

        The Allison V. Harding piece, paired with a review of one of her stories, the two C.L. Moore Jirel of Joiry pieces are already in the packet, as is exactly that Mandalorian review, because that episode offers a comparatively rare look at the often neglected political background of the Star Wars universe.


    2. Another one I liked is your review of The Witcher. I think the connection between The Witcher, The Mandolorian, and your new Award is somethink that should be in the packet. (Also it should have the retro-conection, that was another topic where you wrote a lot of interesting articles, including your defence of the Retro-Hugos)
      One think I found funny in your last packet was that you had a Star Trek and a Star Wars aricle side by side.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And thanks for the reminder of the Franco-Belgiancomics, I remember a lot of them from my childhood (only Isnogod was missing but I asume that was still in the Future in 1965).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Witcher review and the two comics articles from Galactic Journey are already in as well as are several Retro articles and the Darth Vader Parenthood Award and the Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award.

        And currently, The Witcher is playing buffer between the Star Wars and Star Trek articles. I also revisited the theatrical cut of Justice League around the time the Snyder cut was announced, but I didn’t put that article in, because it has since became outdated due to the allegations against Joss Whedon..

        Isnogud already existed in 1966, but was purely a supporting character in another comic. He didn’t get his own strip until 1968 and is one of the narrow misses of that article along with Valerian and Laureline, which won’t come out until 1967.

        Liked by 1 person

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