Susan’s Salon: 2021 May 23/24

Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday (Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is still Sunday in most other 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 😇

For those following old calendars, happy Whitsuntide

46 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2021 May 23/24

  1. So Simon R. Green has a new Deathstalker story coming out this year according to one of his staff, and if all goes well, a new Deathstalker novel set in the early years of the series starring Giles Deathstalker will follow. As soon as I know where and when it’ll be published, I’ll tell y’all.

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    1. That’s wonderful news. I love the Deathstalker series. It also helped me through a bad case of SF-related writer’s block with its “let’s throw in everything and the kitchen sink, too” attitude.

      Also, that’s one slot on my Best Series Hugo ballot spoken for then.

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  2. Not a whole lot to report here. My SIL has been in the hospital the last few days, but should be going home today. She has severe chronic back problems, and had already been scheduled for yet another spinal fusion on 5/27, but her normal ongoing serious pain became unbearable pain the other night. I felt very bad for her, especially because I couldn’t drive to Nashville to take her to the hospital — just by lousy coincidence, my van’s battery was dead and I was waiting for AAA (which took FOUR HOURS to arrive!). So she had to get the ambulance. At the very least, she knew the firefighters who came to help her until the ambulance arrived (strange policies in the US — fire engines often come to ambulance calls). The back of her yard butts up against the back of her local fire station’s property, and she occasionally takes them goodies and goes to talk to them, so they’re friendly. In any case, the hospital kept her for several days because her electrolytes were wacky, but they seem to have gotten that straightened out. Now she’s basically just going home long enough to get things sorted to go back in at the end of the week. Poor woman!

    As for me, nothing interesting here. Not much video watching, either. I did watch the first episode of Shannara, whatever they’re calling the Shannara series, and it was interesting enough that I’ll watch at least one or two more. It was nice to see John Rhys-Davies, though sad to see him looking thin and ill. No more Outlander binging — now I’m working my way through Season 3 at a more sedate pace. And no movies this week!

    In reading, I’m working my way through the rest of the Lightbringer series. Listened to all of The Broken Eye (24 hours) and about 2/3 of The Blood Mirror (20 hours) so far. Then I think I’ll go straight to the last book, The Burning White (39 hours!). Ahh, the joys and marathon listens of epic fantasy.

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    1. Oooo, ahhhhh. Paladin’s Grace by Oor Wombat just came off hold at the library, and I just finished The Blood Mirror. So you can guess what I just started. 😊

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  3. It has finally stopped raining here in Arkansas. Also I am re-reading Katherine Addison’s Goblin Emperor, in happy anticipation of the sequel appearing in June.

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  4. I’m entering my second year of apartment confinement due to the serious knee injury and now that the in- hospital five day EEG isn’t until October, I’m looking at another four months of it as the neurological consultant at the epilepsy monitoring unit where I’ll get my testing done banned from walking where a fall where was possible such as outdoors walking. Other than PT, medical appointments and shopping, I don’t get out at all.

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  5. First IRL social event in a year yesterday. Great fun seeing my writers’ group in the flesh again. Got a little overloaded after 3.5 hours though.
    Read CL Polk’s Midnight Bargain and liked it a lot.

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  6. Still packing for my move to Northern Virginia and now I am on my library (which is the last item on the list). The paperbacks are done and the next book in line is a hardback of Railsea by Mieville. For my weekly one-pot meal, I will cook Vegan Mapo Tofu from the NYT Cooking website.

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    1. “For my weekly one-pot meal, I will cook Vegan Mapo Tofu from the NYT Cooking website.”

      I was addicted to their food porn until it became a paid subscription, and then recently I became addicted again when I got a really good deal on said subscription (a bundle of NYT + puzzles + Cooking for only $6 per month, yippee!). They do have fabulous food porn. And one of my favorite parts is reading the comments on the recipes!

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      1. The NY Timess cooking site is great, though more and more recipes are vanishing behind the paywall. Thankfully, I saved a lot of them when they were still accessible. And the Vegan Mapo Tofu is a great recipe.

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  7. I do the Washington Post for twenty nine dollars a year and the Boston Globe for a dollar a month for six months at a time by rotating email addresses. My local paper costs me more than that but is worth it.

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    1. I get the WaPo too, with the same deal. It’s the best paper for long stories, IMO. Never tried the Globe. And sadly, my localish papers are lousy!

      I’m a bit of a news addict. I keep paid digital subscriptions to NYT, WP, The Daily Beast, and The Tennessean. And I usually look at the CNN app, the Fox News app, and The Guardian as well. I was also reading the Epoch Times newsletter til they got too annoying with their paywall, and I sometimes read the Reason newsletter as well. And that’s not counting publications like New Yorker and Vanity Fair that send out newsletters.

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      1. If by “news addict” you mean you want actual news, rather than just text of some kind, I think cutting out the Epoch Times was a good move regardless of the reason. They make Fox look like a model of journalistic integrity.

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        1. Keep your friends close, and keep your enemies closer. I believe in checking in on what “the other guy” is saying, not just listening to the choir director.

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      2. I’ve unwittingly watched one thing that the Epoch Times have done, close to the start of the pandemic. Even knowing nothing about them at the time, the whole thing seemed fishy.

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      3. I really hope you weren’t intending just now to say that anyone who doesn’t choose to seek out and consume right-wing propaganda is therefore naive and out of touch with anyone outside their “choir”, or some such thing. That is kind of what it sounded like, and if so, I regret having said anything.

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        1. I didn’t read it that way. I like to keep abreast of what the far right are saying but I wouldn’t recommend it and I don’t think there is anything wrong with people who chose not to. It’s a wise choice.

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          1. Years ago I started reading right-wing stuff to see if it challenged my own beliefs. It didn’t. It was obvious even in the late 1980s that they were primarily preaching to the converted.

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  8. Question for the commentariat: What’s good in mystery genre, let’s say, in the last 10-20 years? Since Goodreads’ recent Mystery Week I’ve been obsessed by the fact that I, a great mystery lover, haven’t been reading much of them except SFF ones. So, I’m going around asking for recommendations (as I do not trust whatever Goodreads was peddling).

    Weirdest result: I really might try to get into Detective Conan manga, hearing a lot of positive things.

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    1. No idea if you can get them, but Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher books are good at the lighter end of the mystery spectrum (the books are way better than the TV series imnsho). She also wrote a series of modern day mysteries about a baker in Melbourne (the Corinna Chapman series). And I haven’t read all of them, so I can’t vouch for the later ones in the series, but I enjoyed Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series.

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    2. There are a lot of good mystery and crime fiction books out right now, so what are you looking for? Darker or lighter, cozy or hardboiled, historical or contemporary.

      If you like historical mysteries, Volker Kutscher’s Gereon Rath mysteries set in Berlin during the 1920s/30s are all being translated into English. The TV show Babylon Berlin is based on this series, but the books are much better IMO.

      More good historical mysteries are C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr series (Regency era England), Antonia Hodgson’s Thomas Hawkins series (18th century England) and Abir Mukherjee’s Sam Wyndham mysteries set in British colonial India in the 1920s.

      For contemporary settings, Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway mysteries featuring a forensic archaeologist in Norfolk are great. Elly Griffiths also has another series, which I haven’t read. James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux novels are great and I love the Louisiana setting. I also like Craig Johnston’s Longmire series, which is set in Wyoming. Attica Locke’s two novels featuring the African-American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews are also great.

      For SF/futuristic mysteries, my go-to is J.D. Robb In Death series, which I keep nominating for the best series Hugo, though no one else does apparently.

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      1. Huge thanks for these =)

        As with SFF I want to check out breadths of the genre (maybe not too dark) but mostly feel drawn to extremely long, stad-alone-ish (Nero Wolfe-like?) series. And I see some promising examples in your and angharad’s recs so I’m already extremely happy while trying to ignore the size of the TBR mountain.

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  9. Really productive work week, which has led to a very fun weekend. Oh and lots of book reading this week too, with me finishing Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (Very good), Victories Greater than Death by Charlie Jane Anders (Fine, but nothing special), We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen (Really good, coming out in July), Terminal Boredom, an anthology of translated stories by the late Izumi Suzuki (very interesting), and now today, Sangu Mandanna’s A War of Swallowed Stars.

    That last one made me tear up in the end, as its the conclusion of a trilogy that began a few years ago with her A Spark of White Fire, which I don’t think had that much acclaim or readership back at the time (it’s a YA SF/Fantasy hybrid space opera retelling of part of the Mahābhārata) and each volume is fairly short, sometimes to the story’s detriment because events happen really quickly. And yet it all works, the characters are so good and lovable, and I loved every bit of them, and found myself constantly drawn in to see how this epic story would end, and how the gaggle of prophecies, characters, and whatnot would collide. Often tragic, but very strong in the end (with a happy-ish ending despite it all), and I highly recommend giving it a shot (or if you merely liked the first book, giving book 2 a try).

    So good.

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  10. I hope it’s OK for me to plug something that is 1. my friends’ work and 2. only accessible in the US, but it is something I feel a strong urge to share and it’s only around for a limited time (and it arguably has a SF/F element). It’s “The Program” by the San Francisco Neo-Futurists – an audio play that’s only accessible via phone (hence the US restriction, which I think they had no choice about due to the kind of call-center-hosting service that’s available on a budget), with both programmed and live elements. Anyone familiar with any of the various regional Neo-Futurist groups, who normally do super-short pieces in basically any style *except* representational narrative fiction, will recognize some of their common ingredients in this but I found it a surprising and affecting experiment. You can find out about it at sfneofuturists.org and currently they still have some tickets available through June 13.

    They’re also still doing an approximation of their usual ongoing anthology show, with online video sketches, which I think *is* accessible worldwide (they use Twitch), so you can find out about that on the same site. That is inherently an uneven grab bag, it’s like a never-ending workshop where pieces come and go; “The Program” is a rare case of them getting to focus on one thing for longer.

    As is the case with all of their work, it makes me wish I were more involved with theater. In the last few months I’ve been lucky to be able to do some Zoom play-readings with a group of old college acquaintances, doing a weird assortment of stuff from Chekhov to Charles Ludlam, and it’s been 1000x more effective at easing isolation than just regular online chats. Collaboration of any kind is special.

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      1. A few reasons, I think. One is just that it’s unfamiliar and forces you to focus in a different way. But also they literally (I think) used phone-menu tools for this, so that the flow of the monologue segments is partly determined by your verbal and button-pushing responses— though the degree to which that makes a difference is deliberately unclear. You do also get to talk with a person eventually (this part is a lot like some of the one-on-one “interview an audience member on some very specific theme” pieces that sometimes appear in their live show) and the overall narrative, to the extent that there is one, has to do with the phone menu system trying to prevent you from getting through to a human because it would rather talk to you itself.

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  11. I have been pretty busy lately with both work and not work. My dad had surgery last week on his back – a second go at trying to fix a back problem he developed about 18 months ago. I hope this one takes. He has always been a pretty active man (70 and still canoeing twice a week) and the physical disability has been very hard for him.

    Mr Angharad got his first jab of AstraZeneca. He felt really ill the first night after it, and then had a sore arm for a few days.

    I did not get the promotion I applied for, unfortunately, but I have now seen a job advertised elsewhere that sounds like exactly the kind of thing I want to do. The idea of moving on from my current workplace (after twenty years!) is a bit unnerving, but this feels like an opportunity I would regret missing. No guarantees I will get it, of course.

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  12. I have finally finished seeing what Hugo finalists I will be able to get my hands on and have started actually getting my eyeballs on them. So far I have finished reading the novelettes and short stories, tracked down (to the best of my knowledge) 2020 work of the pro and fan artists, and tentatively ranked those 4 categories. Just started reading Lodestar finalist Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.

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  13. Our newest foster kid (who just turned 11 years old last month) moved in on Friday to stay. He’s bright, articulate, and personable, and (so far) he’s very well-behaved. Getting him here was quite a challenge, though.

    He’s had a rough year, with five different placements–one of them so bad that he was removed from the home by the police. Prior to us, he was in a temporary placement, but he really liked them and somehow hoped he could stay there indefinitely. It didn’t help that we are far enough away that he’d have to go to a new school and make new friends. (His old school is almost three hours drive from here.)

    On his first visit with us–just for an afternoon–he told us, “Just so you know, there’s no way I’m moving here.” He was polite the whole time, but he never smiled or laughed, and he definitely didn’t want to be touched. (You always have to be careful about touching foster kids, but he was unusually standoffish.)

    Foster kids don’t really get a choice about their placements, but the State doesn’t want to add to their trauma, so everyone agreed that we needed to win him over via a series of weekend visits. It took quite a lot to get him to agree to do the first visit at all, but they got easier after that.

    I think the turning point was at lunch on the last day of the first weekend when he finished his hot dogs so fast I almost didn’t see him eat them. This was especially a surprise because we had had trouble finding food that he liked to eat, so he’d often just pick at his meals and leave 90% of the food on his plate.

    Anyway, when I saw his plate was empty, I said, “Eric, did you not give him two hotdogs?”

    “Yes. I gave him two. He just inhaled them, that’s all.”

    (The kid giggled a little at that. I guess he never heard of anyone “inhaling” their food before.)

    At that point, I made an exaggerated effort to search the area around his plate. I looked under the table, in the bag of potato chips, under his plate, etc.

    He smiled and asked, “What are you looking for?”

    “I’m trying to figure out where you hid those two hot dogs.”

    And he laughed. Flat out laughed. Eric remarked on it later. “It really felt like a breakthrough. It was the first time he let his guard down.”

    After that, there were more smiles and more laughter, we started getting better results with the menu, and last weekend, he started talking about “when I move in here” rather than “if.” When we reported he’d said that, the State immediately moved to formally transfer him to our care. That was official on Friday, and he seemed excited and happy about it, proudly showing off his new room to his previous foster parents.

    And, today, after a bike ride down to the lake, for the first time ever, he let me hug him.

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      1. Yes, although today we were talking about ways to pass the time on a long airplane flight (he’s never been on one), and he said, “I’d want to bring the first few books of a fantasy series, since once I get into one, I get all wrapped up in it and then time flies.”

        That took us by surprise.

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  14. 80% through Dragon Republic. Interested to see where it’s going after this.

    Also re RF Kuang, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a book that’s more than a year out from publication than I am for Babel, which so far seems to be ticking all my boxes for things I very much want to read. I am slightly sad she didn’t get to use her original, full title for it, though.

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  15. Another week of basically the same stuff. EGG continues to tell us he is woefully underfed.

    Next weekend, though, for the holiday, there will be socializing with someone I haven’t seen since the Before Times! At a restaurant (outdoors)! Plus possibly some recreational shopping! We’re all quite giddy at the prospect.

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  16. I’ve nearly finish Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. I might write a review tomorrow if I finish it this evening.

    I may be able to get a covid vaccination soon (Astra Zeneca) as well.

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  17. Apparently a tree fell in the neighborhood late last week and took down a power line; the power has been going out briefly 2-3 times a day for several days now. While it’s been little more than a nuisance, last night my cable modem went out and shortly after that we lost cellular service. I think what happened is that the local cable hub and cellular tower lost power while they were doing repairs.

    Although we lost power and Internet again this morning, at this point we’re off the outage maps for both my ISP and Toronto Hydro.

    I’ve reread all of Charles Stross’s Laundry Files novels on my ipad and I’ve started on the markedly different Kushiel’s Dart. On my kindle, I’m trying to get through one of Luke Arnold’s Sunder City novels. Not entirely sure I like either of the latter two at this point.

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