The Deaths of Tao

27 July, 2015

The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu; John W. Campbell Award Nominee

For millennia, the Quasing have shaped life on Earth to their own desperate needs, driving their hosts through conflict and destruction into progress with a single goal in mind: to return to the homeworld they lost long ago. Eventually some rebelled, seeing what they were doing to humanity -- most advanced of their hosts -- as a price not worth the cost. Roen and Jill serve as willing hosts to their Quasing, working with them in a desperate bid to save humanity from an ancient and ruthless enemy. But is a broken marriage and a parentless child too high a price to pay for loyalty, when the war they fight has perhaps already been lost?

The Dark Between the Stars

22 June, 2015

undefinedundefinedThe Dark Between the Stars, by Kevin J. Anderson; Hugo nominee for Best Novel

Twenty years after the Elemental War ripped the galaxy apart, its survivors and their descendants face a new and terrifying threat from the distant past -- a threat that lives in the darkness between stars.

Though I couldn't put a book to the name, I was pretty sure I'd read Kevin Anderson before, in my post-Zahn teens when I'd been consuming every Star Wars extended universe book I could find. With that in mind, I went into this book expecting something fun -- not brainy, maybe, perhaps with some regrettable points upon reflection, but fast-paced and plotty and popcorn fun.

Boy, was I disappointed.

The Goblin Emperor

15 June, 2015

Most of you are familiar with the Hugo kerfuffle, so I'm not going to post about it here; suffice to say it motivated me to buy a supporting membership this year. I'll be posting reviews as I finish books. I've tried to avoid the slate/non-slate breakdowns for now and go in with as few assumptions as possible. 

Serendipitously enough, reading in alphabetical order put a book I'd been meaning to read anyway at the top of the pile...

undefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedThe Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison; nominee for Best Novel

Fourth son of the elvish emperor by a regretted political marriage, Maia is exiled to a distant manor with an enemy of his father as his guardian. Then an airship crash kills his father and brothers. Now Maia must unravel the complex, ornate dance of a court that never expected or wanted him to rule it -- before it kills him.

The Book Of Names

31 May, 2015

Three running problems of mine:

  • I am terrible at naming characters, and even worse at coming up with names from outside my limited, Euro-centric sphere.
  • Most name sites on the internet either encouraged my eurocentrism, had poor or no random generation options*, and/or bombarded me with cutesy baby photos, diaper ads, numerology, and other things I Did Not Want.
  • When rudimentary databasing skills are your hammer everything really is a goddamn nail.

Somewhere around last November, my problems collided, and now there's this. Basically I started with Wikipedia's World list of most popular given names and then things, um, snowballed? And yes, I really have been piddling at it for seven months. And yes, it was quite a lot of time (that I don't have) and effort to put into solving a relatively minor problem. I am aware. I was aware from the first. I just did it anyway. As Dan says, no one else can shave the yak quite as thoroughly as I can.

At any rate, it's done, and a minor but irritating illness that kept me from doing anything creatively useful for the past month was the final impetus to polish it off and put it out there. Maybe a few other people will find a random name generator with over 9000 names from various world cultures useful. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find a new yak....



* Unless the goal is for everyone's name to start with A, presenting me with an alphabetical list is a bad plan.

Happy Thinly Disguised Pagan Ritual Day!

05 April, 2015

It went much better this year, largely because I didn't tell kidlet it was Easter until after she'd gotten up. (This also meant we didn't get to dye eggs together, but that was more a matter of bad timing.) This saved me from last year's debacle, when I was woken at ten to six by heavy breathing in my ear and "Mom... let's see if the Easter Bunny took our eggs and hid them!"* I also had a better grasp on her mental capabilities this year and so the finding was done with only very minimal prompting this time. Dan stayed in bed, on the grounds that he was sleepy and also Jewish, but as he drove to the store at 10 pm because the Easter Bunny forgot to buy a chocolate rabbit he is still a hero of the revolution.

And yes, the chocolate bunny was it for candy. Someday she's going to see all these Facebook photos of other kids with their Easter hauls, and the local Easter Bunny is going to be in so much trouble


* The Easter Bunny had not. The Easter Bunny set her alarm for six. Luckily, her incoherent explanation of how Mommy was going to go check but in the meantime it was vital that everyone stay inside and not look out any windows mostly worked. It is amazing how proud parenting makes you of successfully fooling a two-year-old.

Things About Hide and Seek That Kidlet Doesn't Get

12 March, 2015
  1. Hiding.
  2. Once convinced you are, in fact, obligated to hide, the necessity of hiding in such a way that they can't see you. Standing in the middle of the room with your eyes covered does not cut it. Putting your head under the blankets is slightly better, but still runs into the age-old conundrum of "I can see your butt."
  3. Once you have found a hiding place that conceals the majority of your body parts, remembering that your opponent can also hear. Cheerful monologues on where you have hidden are discouraged. Responding to rhetorical questions like "where's Ellie?" with "Here I am! Hiding behind the couch!" is also a bad strategy. Giggling, ok, we can probably manage selective deafness with regards to giggling.
  4. When it is your turn to seek, it is considered bad form to follow the other person around so you can see where they're going to hide.
  5. Sometimes people are better at this game than you, particularly if they are older, and have a grasp on points 1-3. This does not mean they have left the house, just that you can't find them. The accepted response is to call "Ally-ally-in-come-free" or even just "I give up, where are you?", not hyperventilate yourself into silent hysterics before they realize something's wrong and come out.*
  6. On subsequent rounds, hiding in the same spot every time is not very effective. Hiding in the spot where you just found the other person also contains a certain logical fallacy.
  7. In summary: the entire game.

She still insists we play it all the time, though. I blame Sesame Street.



* My mother insists she was just trying to demonstrate the effectiveness of points 1-3. The rest of us think she maybe takes winning games of hide-and-seek with a three year old a little seriously.

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