Susan’s Salon: 2021 May 30/31

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 😇

Through efficiency savings, we have managed to squeeze an extra Susan’s Salon into May.

30 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2021 May 30/31

  1. It’s sixty degrees and sunny here in Arkansas (15 degrees for y’all Celsius sorts). I’m reading the new Library of America Edition of Octavia Butler’s works (Vol. 1). It had two essays by Butler which I’ve never seen before, and also mentions that Butler had written a draft of the sequel to Fledgling.

    Considering becoming a Butler scholar so that I can get access to the manuscript, in the Huntington Library. Is that going too far?

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  2. It’s turned sharply colder here in coastal Maine with a high under ten degrees Celsius. And Rainey as well. I’ve been running my very efficient space heater as the central heating is long since off in this apartment building.

    I’m still listening to P. Djèlí Clark’s most excellent A Master of Djinn, the first in his Dead Djinn series. I’m reading, courtesy of one of his staff, Simon R. Green’s Jekyll and Hyde Inc., which is on Baen which most decidedly doesn’t do review copies.

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  3. Watched Fate of the Furious yesterday. I liked it a little better than you did, but the strains of pitting a gang of street racers against a nuclear sub were pretty visible And the Shaw brother did get redeemed awfully easy, much as I love Mirren as their Mum.
    Finished One Long Night, Andrea Pitzer’s grim but informative history of concentration camps.

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    1. California has enough shots and enough anti-vaxxers that a 12 year old I know got his last week, without jumping the line.

      So far so good, but everything’s opening back up the 15th so I expect another surge. 😦

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  4. Here in Michigan businesses have begun taking down their “masks required” signs. Officially I believe unvaccinated people are still suppose to be wearing them indoors until July 1. There is a mix of employees and customers wearing and not wearing masks.

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  5. Our weather has been not too hot, and only occasionally rainy. With the last three weekends adhering to a pattern of bright sunny Saturday followed by an overcast and breezy Sunday. And on each of those weekends I failed to get the sun tea jug out on the veranda until Sunday. Mind you, sun tea works just fine on overcast days, but my husband likes to tease me about it.

    I have twice now laid eyes on the suspected rat that I I mentioned built a nest in the storage bin with my husband’s SCA armor. I have discovered what my husband immediately dubbed a Rat Super Highway. All of the second and third floor decks in the building have concrete floors, and those slabs of concrete rest on a wood and metal platform under which there more wood beams and a wood “ceiling” for the decks below… there are several openings on the outer edges of everyone’s decks, so far as I can see, and those holes five access to the gap between the “floor” of my veranda and the “ceiling” of the veranda of the nice grandmother who lives below us.

    Anyway, the mint spray discourages the rat from eating my flowers… but only if I spray it on every day. Since I have missed a few days, I have a lot of bare planters.

    I haven’t done any Hugo ballot related reading in the last week. I finished my re-re-re-re-{etc}-reading of Bleak House and have moved on to The Eleventh Gate by Nancy Kress which I have enjoyed so far.

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  6. Not much to report here. I published a collection of my Silencer stories about a 1930s pulp writer who dresses up as his own character to fight crime. I also sent out my newsletter.

    In other news, my doctor put me on the vaccination waiting list, though it will still be a while before I get a vaccination date, because I can only take the Biontech/Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and general practicioners get very few doeses of those. The bulk goes to vaccination centers (which won’t take me yet due to being too young and too healthy) and to company doctors working for large companies, which doesn’t help me, since I’m self-employed.

    And now they want to reserve part of the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine for teenagers, too, because it’s the only one they can take, even though teenagers have a very low risk of serious covid. But families must have the chance to go on holiday. It’s really frustrating.

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  7. We’ve had a few sunny but cold days here (per our definition of cold, which is not very). We went out to get a new garden bed for the veggie garden yesterday, but the only one we could find that was remotely what we were looking for was really big. So now we have one very large bed to go with the one small and four medium sized beds we already have. Sadly we didn’t have enough potting soil to fill it, so I couldn’t actually plant anything. I was very restrained at the garden centre, and only bought one bag of bulbs.

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  8. Not a lot of excitement here. SIL finally got discharged from the hospital on Monday, and her surgery has been postponed til June 4.

    We’ve had weird weather this spring — first drier than normal, then wetwetwet, then hot, now cold. It’s always something, but never boring!

    When I drove to Nashville to feed SIL’s cats I had a lovely non-masked, sit-in late lunch at my favorite local Thai/Lao hole-in-the-wall cafe there, and I alarmed the waitress when I told her I wanted 4 out of 5 on the spice. I hope she was watching as I added MORE spice to the dishes she brought me. ;-D That was the first time I’ve ever actually sat down for lunch there — I’ve always gotten take-out previously. Good food! (King Market, if anyone wants to try it out.) They also have several homemade varieties of pickled fish that I love to buy from their grocery (half the business is cafe, and the other half is groceries). Yum!

    Nashville and my little town seem to be essentially over any Covid precautions. TN never was very good with masking or distancing, but it’s whatever goes now. I’ve been shopping and restauranting maskless all week. Real life! No theater movies yet, but I’m eyeing “Nobody” — looks like a fun ride.

    I’ve got nothing to report in watching — haven’t watched much of anything this week.

    In reading:

    I finished The Blood Mirror, book 4 of the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks. The series continues to go well, except that there were several “revelations” in this one that felt like flat-out retconning, which I find extremely annoying. I’ll be reading the last book of the series soon, and I hope Weeks makes me believe those retcons.

    I also read Paladin’s Grace by Oor Wombat, T. Kingfisher. I always enjoy her narrative voice, and the MCs were fun. The plot didn’t especially grab me, but it was still a pleasant read.

    After that, I succumbed to more romance. I’m still stressed out by a lot of things, and romance is a good brain cleanser. I listened to Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale, a classic Regency-type romance which I’ve read before but had never listened to. Excellent narration by Nicholas Boulton. Then I read Roommate by Sarina Bowen, an mm romance that was sweet but slight — a fluffy read. Then I dnfed The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews — annoying narration and gothic writing made me give it up. This one might be okay in text. Then I laughed a lot over Oz by Lily Morton, another mm romance. I recommend the audio on this — very entertaining narration by Joel Leslie with several British accents, including Irish for the MC, and lots of humor. Also lots of explicit sex — you have been warned. And I finished up my latest romance binge with the last Loretta Chase book narrated by Kate Reading that I hadn’t listened to yet — The Last Hellion. Mostly as enjoyable as all the others, except for some pacing issues.

    And yes, I did finally get back to sff! I’m now roughly 1/3 through Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is my first Ishiguro, and I don’t really know what I think of it yet. I think it’s going to be one of those deceptively simple books, but We Shall See.

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  9. I finished Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary, and really enjoyed it, though I have to agree with MRK’s review that a lot of it is contrived to go where he wants the plot to go, and doesn’t really match what reality would be in terms of real-world astronaut procedures. But I loved the way he constructed an extraterrestrial which was quite different from humans, and the way that the alien and the human develop communication and understanding across the language barrier.

    I also read Melinda M. Snodgrass’ Currency of War, the 4th in her Imperials saga, and it was good but totally ends on a cliffhanger, which was a bit frustrating. The 5th book is finished, but she hasn’t announced yet when it will be released.

    I’m a hundred pages into The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison, and I honestly don’t understand all of the plaudits this novel has received. It’s as if the author kept an Idea Book, full of observations, visual impressions, and poetic turns of phrase which came to mind, and then sat down and sketched up the bare bones of a plot which he could use to showcase everything in his Idea Book, with Lovecraftian elements added to make it SFF. The two main characters and one of the secondary characters are such vapid, personality-less entities that I was rather horrified by the idea that there might be a lot of human beings in real life who are as vacuous and devoid of internal life as these. It’s very much a case of The Eight Deadly Words, and I don’t know if I’ll bother finishing it.

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      1. I’m an absolute sucker for East Asian influence in my fiction so Poppy War was right up my street. On that note I finished Dragon Republic last week and I looooooved it. It gets and stays very grim about halfway through Poppy War so I hope you’re okay with that.

        I started Within Without as well. I’m around a third of the way through it. It’s very, very weird, but it’s Jeff Noon so I knew that going in.

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        1. It has grim feel already and I don’t see happiness on the path for the protagonist. Although the setting is very different, it has a Robin Hobb feel about it and she’s never very kind to her heroes.

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      2. That’s a very good comparison – it’s been so long since I read any Hobb that I’d almost forgotten how beaten and abused her heroes get. That comparison really only seems to get more apt the further into the trilogy I’m getting so…

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    1. “Sunken Land…” is on my list to read soonish! I… am probably going to really enjoy it lol.

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      1. I loved Sunken Land (one of the very few novels I’ve had the headspace for in the last ~ year) – it managed to be just what I was hoping for in a Harrison novel without ever being what I expected.

        Which definitively proves… different people like different things.

        I didn’t realize Within Without was out! Of course, I haven’t gotten to the previous book yet…

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      2. Yeah, Harrison and Noon scratch a similar itch for me.

        Within Without continues to be a completely weird read, by the way.

        Also the second book in his “normal” crime series – House With No Doors – came out in January, if you didn’t already know (and are reading those too.)

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  10. Home, but still drunk. this place does not stint on the booze. Delightful to eat and drink like in the Before Times. Good food, amazing drinks, great service/ambiance. Lovely evening, good company, good fud and booze, tiki place so extra fun. 10/10 would booze it up again.

    Watching recording of Indy 500, will soon go to bed and pass out. EGG most annoyed with us for leaving him for a few hours which overlapped with his usual dinnertime. Tough. Humans gonna get back to living.

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    1. Today, indeed last night, my stomach wanted to know WTF I had done to it.

      I am out of practice with boozing, fried food, and general socializing. Many antacids and ginger finally calmed things down, and I slept startlingly late, even for me. Might be able to be conscious tomorrow? No hangover, though, just annoyed stomach.

      EGG still annoyed with us today. Whining more than usual. We were gone! We slept late! MEOW!

      All worth it.

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  11. A complete stranger left a comment on my blog last night about how he’d quite enjoyed my little book “The Ninth Knight”, and I am just basking in the validation. Seriously. He had opinions! And a favourite bit! I gave someone a vaguely pleasant reading experience! I am pleased.

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  12. I finished reading Wendy N. Wagner’s An Oath of Dogs, which I got onto from James Davis Nicoll via pursuing him down an alleyway, beating him unconscious and rifling his pocket  his post at Tor.com about Space Hibernation: Five Stories Featuring Sleeper Ships.

    I really enjoyed it, although there’s a lot of brutality in it, due to its accurate representation of the brutality of colonialism and eco-exploitation. It does a great job of presenting alien life as truly alien, as successfully as Philip Mann’s The Disestablishment of Paradise, David Wellington’s The Last Astronaut, and James L. Cambias’ A Darkling Sea.

    I would welcome recommendations of other works which do a similarly good job of portraying genuinely alien alien life.

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    1. Peter Watts’ Blindsight. Come to think of it, it does a good job of portraying human life as pretty alien.

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    2. I’ve long had a fondness for a comic book by Matt Howarth called ‘Keif Llama: Xeno-tech’. The main character is someone whose job it is to actually try to understand the alien cultures that humanity interacts with, so the diplomats know how to proceed. Unfortunately for her, understanding what the various aliens actually want often puts her at odds with her human supervisors who are more interested in ‘opening markets’ and similar things.

      Howarth had another comic for a while called ‘Konny and Czu’ where the main characters were alien con artists. ‘Konny’ is a collection of rocks with a piezo-electric nervous system.

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