Well, this has been a week. I’ve been cutting back on caffeine, which has left me tired for a lot of the time, and it’s been further exhausting to see the ongoing, steady stream of sexual harassment, abuse and rape accusations coming out of, seemingly, everywhere. It’s important and valuable and I truly hope that some real. lasting, sustainable change comes from all this public sharing of stories, but it’s still depressing. Too much of the public outrage is hypocritical and feels performative, and it’s not enough to oust a handful of badly behaved men; institutional reform is necessary, and proposals for that are thin on the ground.
We’ll see. I haven’t lost hope yet. I’m just running low on energy.
I didn’t write nearly as much as I’d hoped this week, though I’m not unhappy with what I did accomplish. It took longer than expected to write about last week’s Star Trek: Discovery, and the double episode of The Shannara Chronicles ended up taking an extra day as well. I’m currently most of the way through a post reviewing October’s Tor.com novellas, though, so expect that tomorrow or Tuesday.
This was actually a pretty great week until yesterday, when I had to spend half the afternoon dealing with Spectrum, as I finally decided to switch my grandfathered-in Time Warner internet plan to one of the newer ones, which meant new hardware that had to be hooked up and activated. It’s all supposed to be automated and as simple as calling a number and saying “activate,” but that turned out not to be the case. The tech support guy I dealt with was very nice and did finally get things sorted, but over an hour on the phone with anyone is usually enough to fry my nerves for the rest of the day. An hour on the phone with a tech support guy stumbling through settings to find out why things aren’t working the way they’re supposed to is basically torture. Honestly, I’m still feeling frazzled and resentful about the whole experience a day later.
Halloween was on Tuesday, and we kept it low key here. It was the first Halloween my daughter chose not to go trick-or-treating, which was kind of sad. She went to her grandparents’ house to help hand out candy instead, so we were left to our own devices. We don’t get trick-or-treaters at the apartment, so I ended up just staying up far past my normal bedtime to finish a post about Star Trek: Discovery. Let’s just say there was a lot to unpack in the most recent episode.
Wednesday marked the start of NaNoWriMo, which I’m kinda doing this year. I’m not writing a novel, but I am treating the whole month as a sort of productivity exercise in the hopes that it will help me get back on track to where I’d like to be in terms of writing content for the blog, which will in turn (ideally, anyway) put me in a better position, come the first of the year, to work on a couple of ambitious project ideas I’ve been sitting on for a while. Right now, I’m all about instituting more structure in my day-to-day life and building a routine that will allow me to accomplish big goals in the future. So far, it’s gone okay, even if yesterday turned out to be a total loss, what with dealing with the cable company and all. This coming week should be even better.
Every year for Halloween, the Book Smugglers publish a short horror story. This year’s is “Nini” by Yukimi Ogawa.
This video of Wayne Brady doing a 1930s-style cover of “Thriller” is the last Halloween-ish thing I’m sharing this year:
If you’re looking for something to read this month and my Fall Reading List isn’t good enough for you, be sure to check out Tor.com’s lists of November releases:
Finally, I’m still processing all the news that came out of Blizzcon this weekend, but look at this cinematic trailer for the next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth. Sylvanas looks a-MAZING:
So, the thing about depression, at least the way mine works, is that, sometimes, when I get towards the end of a depressive period, I feel like things are going to get better, but that feeling can last for weeks or even months with little actual change in my mood or productivity. Which is sort of where I’m at these days. The good news, of course, is that things aren’t getting worse. The bad news is that no matter how much I feel like things are looking up, there’s no telling how much longer it’s going to be before I actually am better.
So, this week, I only managed to write my regular Star Trek: Discovery and Shannara Chronicles coverage, in spite of having intended to write quite a bit more than that. It just didn’t happen, so I’m more than a little disappointed with myself. It didn’t help, either, that I was mired all week long in a book that I just didn’t enjoy, even though I’d been super hyped for it. I kept reading and reading and hoping it would get better, but it did not. It was a bummer. Fortunately, I’ve been reading some better stuff this weekend. I started reading Fonda Lee’s Jade City yesterday, and this morning I raced through Matt Wallace’s upcoming, penultimate Sin du Jour novella, Gluttony Bay, which is fantastic. No one writes action like Matt Wallace.
With Halloween coming up on Tuesday, it’s a good time to read something spooky.
This year’s fall colors continue to be somewhat disappointing, but the weather has been nice and I’ve enjoyed being able to have open windows and fresh air so far into October. Sure, all the leaves have surned a sort of weird, muddy yellow-brown color, but it’s been in the mid-to-high 70s all week. That said, I’m still pretty pleased that temperatures are finally going to be down into the 50s and 60s this week, as all this nice weather has started to cut into soup, chili and squash season and I’m ready for fall cooking. I’ve got a spice cupboard full of curry and tandoori and five spice and other warm things that have just been waiting for some cooler weather.
I didn’t write much this week, though I did do my normal coverage of Star Trek: Discovery and The Shannara Chronicles. What I did do was quite a bit of reading; I made it through several books, which I’m looking forward to writing about soon. This week, watch for the regular Star Trek and Shannara posts, though tomorrow’s Star Trek review may not be out til Tuesday as I have several errands that will keep me out of the house and away from the computer tomorrow. My big goals in the coming week, however, are to 1) exercise every day, at least 30 minutes of cardio because I need to get back on track at some point, and 2) write three book reviews, because I have a significant backlog again and a lot of them are excellent books that I have lots of feelings about. Three book reviews won’t get me caught up by the end of the week, but if I could do that between now and, say, Thanksgiving, I might be caught up.
On the bright side, I’m well past my reading goal for the year, with two and half months still to go.
SFWA President Cat Rambo has a two-partresponse to Fireside’s #BlackSpecFic report that is worth reading. It’s good to see the findings of that report being taken seriously and that steps are being taken to address some of the genre’s problems.
One of the books I read this week was Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s upcoming novel of manners, and I loved it. I also loved Moreno-Garcia’s essay on the genesis of The Beautiful Ones. I recommend reading both essay and book. (It’s out Tuesday! There’s still time to pre-order!)
Autumn continues apace, though the weather here in Cincinnati has still been positively summery most of the week. Leaves are falling, though they haven’t changed color much; we never do get especially spectacular fall colors here, but they are usually prettier than this. It’s slightly disappointing, especially after this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Still, it’s not awful.
I’ve been working on getting back into the healthful routines that were working for me so well back before I broke my foot a couple years ago, which means calorie counting (still a work in progress), cardio, walking and daily Duolingo practice (I’m up to 46% fluent in German now!). I’m doing a terrible job of quitting energy drinks, but I’m getting there, and I did bake like twelve dozen cookies (five spice snickerdoodles and chocolate chip, yum!) yesterday, which is not healthy, but the fact that I have the energy for baking is kind of a good sign. Huzzah for mild-to-moderate lessening of my depression!
This week, I reviewed the excellent Laksa Media anthology, Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction & Fantasy. I also continued my coverage of Star Trek: Discovery, which sadly took a turn for the worse, and wrote about the first episode of the new season of The Shannara Chronicles, which was surprisingly decent. It wasn’t as much as I’d hoped to write, but it was better than last week. The new routine, even if I’m not sticking to it perfectly, is already helping my mood and energy levels immensely, and while I didn’t write as much as I wanted to this week, the writing itself went easier and faster than it has in a while.
If you’re looking to read more diversely and don’t know where to start, there’s a new subscription box you should check out: Afrofuture Books.
The next installment of Sarah Gailey’s The Fisher of Bones is up at Fireside: “Discovery.”
Well, this has been a hell of a week, and I haven’t had the energy or emotional fortitude to do pretty much anything other than play Destiny 2. Yesterday was my birthday, which was as uneventful a day as I could hope for in this garbage year. I drank a bottle of cheap wine. It helped, a little.
The good news is that I’m feeling better, enough so that my lack of productivity today was part of a purposeful day of recharging rather than another day of devastatingly crippling depression and anxiety and shame-spiraling. I’m not making promises about the coming week, as I’m just gonna take things one day at a time for a little while, but I will say that I’ve got a to-do list ready for tomorrow and I’m going to get a good night’s rest tonight, so I’m cautiously optimistic.
The first week of October and my birthday are basically when I really feel like it’s fall, and that means fall recipes. This year, I’m aiming to eat as much pumpkin and squash as I can, and here’s where I’m starting:
I’ve been pretty concerned for a few weeks that I was going to have a freak-out as I got closer to my 35th birthday on October 7, but so far I’m feeling okay about it. All things considered (and there are a lot of things to consider these days), it feels like it might not be a completely horrible year. Feeling optimistic-ish about the future, I’ve even updated my Amazon wishlist just in case anyone is interested in feeding my endless hunger for literary criticism and beautiful cookbooks.
In happy news this week, the Book Smugglers’ Level Up Kickstarter hit its first goal and is well on its way to some great stretch goals, including a new serialized story by JY Yang if they make it to $20,000.
Salik Shah explains why Mithila Review has closed submissions. Spoiler: the problem is lack of funding. It’s a great publication, and I highly recommend checking it out and supporting it via Patreon. $2.50/issue gets you a digital copy of each new one as its published, and Shah has said submissions will reopen when they hit their first funding goal of $250 per issue.
It’s been a decent week here at SF Bluestocking, though I’m still not quite where I’d like to be, productivity-wise. This coming week will be much better, however. Today was Star Trek: Discovery Day, so I’ll have the first couple episodes of that to write about tomorrow (I have a lot of feels about Star Trek), and I’ve got reviews in the works for a couple of this week’s new releases (Provenance and An Unkindness of Magicians–both excellent). I’m also putting the finishing touches on my Summer Reading Wrap-Up and getting ready to publish my Fall Reading List, so watch for both of those posts this week.
There’s 11 days left on the Kickstarter for Volume 3 of the Long List Anthology that collects short fiction from the long list of nominations from this year’s Hugo Awards. They’re currently less than $70 away from a stretch goal that will add four novellas to the book, and just $10 gets you the ebook of the collection.
The Book Smugglers Level Up Kickstarter has 10 days left, and there are still tons of great rewards up for grabs, including signed or personalized books, chats with the editors, short story or novel critiques and more.
Thursday was the first time in a couple of weeks that I managed to write anything substantive (and, boy, am I ever happy to be done with Game of Thrones for a while), but it still wasn’t as much as I’d have liked. That said, I read two full books and have spent some time working on outlines for my backlog of book reviews, plus I had a good idea for a future feature here that I’ll be working on with the tentative plan/hope of starting it after the first of the year. I’m still trying to stay away from making promises about my productivity or what I’ll be publishing this week, but right now, Sunday evening, I’m feeling more optimistic about the upcoming week than I have in some time.
I’ve read some great books lately, and I’ve got an exciting Fall Reading List in the works (watch for that next week), so I’m determined to turn out as many reviews as possible before I do my quarterly clearing of my schedule so I can start the new season with a clean slate instead of an enormous backlog of unfinished projects. Next weekend brings the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery, and season premieres of The Good Place, Lucifer, and The Shannara Chronicles (and Bob’s Burgers and Dancing with the Stars) coming over the next month or so as well, so there will be plenty to watch and write about in the coming weeks. I’ve even got a few movies on my to-watch list (WonderWoman, The Girl With All the Gifts, Colossal, It Stains the Sand Red) that I may have something to say about when I watch them. Finally, I still haven’t forgotten about Gormenghast; I am coming back to you, Mervyn Peake.
Ideally, I won’t be coming down with any more nasty colds or other productivity-killing conditions for a while. My mental health has been improving steadily(-ish), and I’m so very ready to start turning that into words on a page. And now for links!
There were two excellent interviews with Nnedi Okorafor this week as well. She talked about the Who Fears Death adaptation, her upcoming YA novel release (Akata Warrior, Oct. 3), and the nuances of Afrofuturism:
The first of Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries, All Systems Red, is one of my favorite novellas of 2017 so far, and there are three more planned in the series. The second volume, Artificial Condition, has a cover, a release date (May 8, 2018), and a cover, and Martha Wells was interviewed about the series over at The Verge.
Malka Older’s Null States is one of the fantastic novels I’ve read in the past couple weeks while being sick, and its official release date is this Tuesday, September 19. I’m working on a full review, but I’ll say right now that you need this book.
The most recent anthology from Laksa Media is The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound, which collects SFF stories about caregiving and caregivers. Editors Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law talked about their Favorite BitsandBig Ideasthis week.
If you’re on Twitter, you might have seen it already, but #drawingwhileblack is so full of wonderful art and amazing talent, and I’ve been getting so much joy from checking up on the hashtag repeatedly this weekend.
The first half of content for Uncanny Magazine’s Issue 18 is up, and it doesn’t include any of my especial favorites, but there are still a few standout pieces for you to read online for free right now:
Honestly, though, you owe it to yourself to just go ahead and buy the issue so you can read Catherynne M. Valente’s Cthulu Mythos and Clockwork Orange mash-up, “Down and Out in R’lyeh” and Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s “Fandom for Robots” right away.
So, the good news is that I think I’ve turned a bit of a corner with this depression thing this week. The bad news is that I spent most of the week prostrated by an absolutely horrible cold, and I’m still not 100% better. That said, I’ve been heavily doped up on cold medicine for several days, and it’s helping. Today, I’d say I was running at about 60% normal energy, lingering sinus headache and all, which is still a good bit better than I have been in general the last couple of months. My hope is that this upswing in energy holds out as I continue to recover from this cold; ideally it will be a sustainable trend going forward that will allow me to get caught up on things and accomplish more of my future goals here at SF Bluestocking.
Also a cool thing: I finally got ghost cat form in WoW, which I didn’t know would leave a trail of sparkles when I run around. I am delighted with it.
It’s the beginning of the month, which means Tor.com has their lists up of the new books coming out from major publishers in September:
One of my most-anticipated reads this year is the US paperback edition of Iraq+100, which hits shelves on Tuesday. At the Tor/Forge blog, two of the collection’s contributors talked about science fiction in Arabic literature.