Packing and Milton,…

Packing and Milton, Milton and packing. Lucifer's made it to Eden at the end of Book 4, after a really touching soliloquy where he regrets losing Heaven. All the heavenly angels are really annoying stiffs. Adam and Eve have spent several pages talking mostly about how he does what God tells him to, and she does what Adam tells her to, and how they're both so happy with this arrangement. She's so meek and agreeable that my stomach actually churns. Yuck. Ick. How did women put up with this? How did they convince themselves they believed it???

In happier news, the dining room is done, aside from a few pieces of furniture to be picked up. Started on the kitchen and the living room. How weird this is.

The second book of…

The second book of Milton is better -- great arguments among the fallen angels about whether they should go to war, just laze about hell, try to create a peaceful kingdom there, or go corrupt the humans to get back at God. Funny! I'm listening to Cross Country in the background -- it's the most religious music I own, which isn't saying much. At some point I'd really like to pick up at least one excellent gospel CD. Recommendations welcome. Joyful music especially...

In other news, finished the second book. (Technically, it won't be finished until tomorrow, when it's done pressing, but I'm done actively doing things to it, so good enough. :-) Very happy with how it came out! The camera doesn't really capture the dark intensity of the raw silks; the colors are a fair bit darker than what you're seeing to the right (the photo below is closer). Not sure why.

Huge thanks to Karen for e-mailing me quilting instructions -- or at least instructions for the first phase of quilting, which it turned out was all I needed. Irons are very helpful! In fact, I don't think you can really sew without an iron. Sewing machines are also helpful -- even with one, this cover took long enough that I may never do a patchwork cover again...without a sewing machine, there's just no way. It ended up using five strips of ten squares each -- I suppose if I'd used bigger squares, it wouldn't have taken so long, but it wouldn't have looked as good either. I *am* sort of tempted to do triangles at some point, just to see whether I can make stars and other shapes. But I figured that was beyond my meager skills at the moment. :-)

I'm including a large picture of the interior below, just so you can read a little of the story. Isn't my little star/ribbon bookmark cute? Sterling silver -- I assume the sparkly bits are just glass, but still, very cute.

Much mulling over the…

Much mulling over the Hugo Awards today. The stats are really interesting to think about. It's frustrating to see that there's still such a huge skew towards men -- if you go through and count women on the ballot, you get (or I get):

4 out of 21 (for fiction, assuming Shane is male)

12 out of 59 total (not counting the movies or the Campbell, counting a woman even if her co-editors are male)

Not great numbers. Roughly a fifth? We improve, but slowly.

In other interesting stats -- only 21 votes were required to get a short story on the ballot? 21! If I were a sf short fiction writer, I'd be wondering right now whether I had 20+ friends I could have talked into nominating me...

It also makes me think that if, oh, Jed and I, say, had conferred and picked out three favorites of short fiction and novellettes from last year, and then posted them as a "recommended" list or some such, whether we might have gotten a SH story onto the ballot. I mean -- we have 30+ staff, and hundreds of supportive contributors, before you even get to our thousands of readers. Surely at least 25 of them nominated for the Hugos. And the Hugo administrators told me that there were *lots* of nominations for SH stories in the various fiction categories -- just not enough consensus on which ones. So, y'know...we could've.

But I think it would have felt weird -- moving beyond generally letting people know that we were eligible to actively trying to manipulate the vote. I'm not sure, but I think so. It's still a little odd to realize how few votes it takes to get on the ballot.

Various and sundry tasks today -- I'd like to get a fair bit of packing done, in between reading Paradise Lost for class. So far, only the first book done; it's somewhat slow going.

I have a deep desire to…

I have a deep desire to wash my hair, because I don't really like going to bed smelling smoke. But if I wash it, it'll still be wet when I go to sleep (I don't own a hair-dryer, which I sometimes think is a bit of a nuisance), which is not ideal. But really...ick. Ick ick ick. And my eyes are still stinging.

Despite all that, had a lovely time tonight. Department grad student reading; all quite good tonight. Steve Tuttle read a really charming zoo story that I think Jed would like a lot; I should ask him if I could get a copy to send Jed. Not that Jed has time to read... Afterwards, we went to the Twilight bar for drinks (mostly people had beer; I had a Madras, which I think is vodka, orange juice and grenadine? Maybe?) and conversation. Much conversation. Good conversation. I was in an awfully good mood, in part because Erin Miller, a friend who graduated last year, is back in town this weekend and was hanging out with us. I like Erin a lot. I suppose I was also in a good mood just 'cause...well, life is good right now. A lot of last year was so terrible, due to the break-up. I couldn't concentrate on my courses, etc. But as N. was explaining to Erin, since about mid-March, I've been having a really good year. Things looking up with Kevin. Losing some weight (and getting a lot more compliments...though perhaps some of that is just because I'm looking happier). Winning the Steffenson-Canon fellowship. And most recently, Strange Horizons making the official Hugo nomination list. Woohoo!

I've known about that last one for a few days, but I wasn't supposed to say anything yet. But now it's all official and announce-able, so please, feel free to spread the word far and wide. Here's the full set for that category:

BEST WEB SITE (365 ballots cast)

  • Locus Online, Mark R. Kelly editor/webmaster (www.locusmag.com)
  • SciFi.com, Craig Engler, executive producer (www.scifi.com)
  • SF Site, Rodger Turner, publisher/managing editor (www.sfsite.com)
  • Strange Horizons, Mary Anne Mohanraj, editor-in-chief (www.strangehorizons.com)
  • Tangent Online, Dave Truesdale, senior editor; Tobias Buckell, webmaster (www.tangentonline.com) I think it's really interesting that three of the websites don't publish fiction at all -- Locus Online, SF Site and Tangent Online. SciFi.com is, of course, the big Sci-Fi Channel website -- they're huge and impressive, and Ellen Datlow's SciFiction is part of it. So they certainly do fiction (new fiction every week, and a classic reprint every other week). But y'know -- they have massive television money behind them. I'm just so pleased to know that we're even able to compete with them, given the community-based shoestring we run on in comparison. And our making the ballot really says something about the level of support we have in the SF community; I'm just so very pleased. Totally. Utterly. Astonishingly. :-)

    The ConJose website has the full Hugo nomination list. Enjoy!

  • Hey — realized I never…

    Hey -- realized I never put up the photos from Alex's visit. So here they are...

    It was really gorgeous while he was here; the flowers in Temple Square were stunning. Now they're all brutally frost-bitten; very sad.

    Ah well -- rather than dwelling on sad flowers, I'll show you the book I just finished. Pretty straightforward; just like the earlier books I did, except for the addition of a peacock feather bookmark. Which, you know, doesn't take any skill on my part. :-) Still, I think it looks pretty good. Oh, and the other difference is that I used a fabric cover this time, which looks great. Will probably do more of them in the future...

    Tomorrow I should have "The Fallen Star" ready; it's drying now.

    Didn’t tell you about SH…

    Didn't tell you about SH this week, did I? We're all about series right now -- the first part of an Alan DeNiro story, the first part of a Greg Beatty essay on the various sf awards, the first of Tim Pratt's bestiary poems... So you might want to wait on Alan's piece, but the rest I think can be enjoyed right now. Also a review by Brian P., and another in the charming series by Ben Rosenbaum, of Other Cities -- this one is Maxis. Go read! :-)

    Woke up and immediately…

    Woke up and immediately dived into working on the POD. Yes, I did. Three hours later, I think I'm actually almost done with everything I can do without help. I'm trying to coax one of my SH staff into proofing the darn thing now; I think I may also offer authors the chance to proof it. I'm hoping to actually get the manuscript to Wildside (assuming they're still even interested) within the month. It's just been lingering too long.

    While I'm waiting for people to get back to me, I'm going to run out and do errands. Pick up a silver star, new glasses (and contacts!), some glass squares to make another set of coasters. I think I'm going to do "October Song" again; it's not new, but it's the right size to fit on coasters, and the autumn leaves I have will suit it so well...

    I also glued the book block for "Minal" into the casing. Looks good so far; now it's pressing under a stack of books, so it dries evenly. I decided the gold cord concept didn't really work, so far that one I'm just going to leave the peacock feather loose inside the book. Still planning to glue the silver star-ribbon bookmark into the other book, though.

    This afternoon, I'd like to work on the Due biobibliography, but I'm still waiting for her to get back to me on one last thing. So not sure what I'll do instead...maybe pack. This evening, grad student reading followed by bar hanging-out. Will probably be out late; one of the MFA students from last year is back in town this weekend; it'll be great to see her again. All these transient people...but I suppose I'm one of them, eh? Can't really complain.

    None of you journallers…

    None of you journallers out there update enough. You're making it very difficult for me to avoid my work.

    So, I drafted the Ford preliminary questions and sent them out -- I imagine I'll have quite a few more once he answers. Hopefully soon! The piece is supposed to go live in a little less than two weeks...I hate pushing things this close when finishing it is dependent on someone else's schedule. (Pushing things much closer when it's only dependent on me is *much* better -- I can always not sleep.) Then I did a third of the massive pile of scary dishes. Then I revised part of the Due thingie, and realized I had to ask poor Tananarive yet another question -- she's been an angel through all this. It's so nice working on a live author, where you can just e-mail and ask questions like "Was Lucas Shepard's name supposed to be a homage to Lucius Shepard, the sf writer, or was that just a coincidence?" 'Cause my editor asked me that, and really, how else would I know, if I couldn't ask her? "Ummm...maybe?" is such a wimpy answer.

    I appear to have managed to stay in long enough that the snow has mostly melted and turned back to rain. Kind of. Maybe sleet? Not sure what to call it. Gonna shower and dress, and then figure out if I actually need to go into campus to do the rest of the research for the rare book I'm working on. I've already taken some notes on the physical book itself; what I need now is more general background info, which I might be able to get off of electronic reserve. I love electronic reserve, did I mention? It lets me be such a lazy slob...

    Speaking of which, I'm not feeling ill anymore (I slept like a *log* last night, until Rogelio called at nine, wanting to buy furniture (he ended up buying my dining table, a bookshelf, and my desk chair), waking me up). Which means no more excuse for not exercising. Tomorrow, bike class again, I think.

    Finished the first task…

    Finished the first task on my long list -- doing a draft of a budget proposal for the Tanner Humanities Center. It's a little erratic, working on the conference in the midst of all this moving stuff (and Paul studying for his comprehensive exams, to be taken next week). But we do progress.

    Once I'd done that, I rewarded myself with finishing Harpist in the Wind. Gods, I love these books. I'm not even sure I can tell you why -- something about the way she contrasts huge scope (thousands and thousands of years, an entire vast realm) with very tiny and human things. It really captures what I love about the best of high fantasy. Tolkien does that too, just exactly that. Sam's love for his garden, Frodo's simple desire to just go home -- that's what makes the whole epic battle worthwhile. And on the other hand, it's the epic battle that gives the story the power of high fantasy, as opposed to a charming little mainstream story about a man who loves his garden or his home... I don't know that so many others of the epic fantasists really manage that balance. And what's even better about McKillip is that she doesn't make it a simple matter of good versus evil -- it's about power, and what it can lead to, and even in the very end, compassion is at the heart of the story. Which I suppose you could argue that Tolkien does as well, when he has Frodo not kill Gollum, which allows for the ending to work out as it does. But somehow Tolkien's feels more accidental, less deliberately chosen, and he does still have plenty of Evil with a capital E going on too...

    Okie. Next tasks: revise Due essay for Bleiler, start Ford interview. Shouldn't take more than an hour -- and then I have to get to the real work, drafting my rare books paper. Which might involve going to the library. Which would involve heading out into a snowstorm. Sigh.

    Huh. Forgot to tell you…

    Huh. Forgot to tell you what else I did yesterday -- started making two new books! In the process of packing, I've realized that it'll be a lot easier if I make all my WisCon art stuff *before* I go. The hanging pieces are done (unless I get inspired), but there are several others I really did want to do. So last night, I put together book blocks for "Minal in Winter" and "The Fallen Star" (the latter modified so it no longer has the names of my cousins in it :-). I'm going to try embedding bookmarks in the binding this time. So for "Minal", I'm using dark red raw silk (suitable for a sari) for the cover, which so far looks gorgeous, and then attaching a peacock feather to a gold cord, which I'm going to glue to the inside of the binding. So in theory, the peacock feather will always be attached as a bookmark. Neat, huh? For "The Fallen Star", I think I'm going to go buy a little silver star, and then attach that to a ribbon braided of dark red, purple, and silver-grey silk embroidery threads. (What would really be a perfect cover for that story would be a quilted cover, using that same red silk, along with the green and blue silk I have. But I don't know how to quilt! Can I just use my sewing machine to sew the edges of pieces together? Is there anything more to it? Should I be sewing them onto a piece of backing?) I love working with these lush colors and fabrics. And the finished products are going to be a lot lighter than my doubled-glass pieces. :-)

    I'm also tempted to do a cookbook of some of my favorite Sri Lankan recipes. I was thinking I'd do it larger (half-page size instead of quarter-page) so it could actually be more functional as a cookbook. I wanted to try doing something that I've seen in other art books -- making the cover thick, out of several pieces of book board glued together, and then cutting a square out of the center of that block, and putting something inside it -- in this case, a cinnamon stick, some cloves and cardamom. But I'm not sure how to protect the pieces, and how to keep the grey board from showing where it's been cut. Hmm...I *think* the fabric covering the book could be folded into the cut and glued down on the inside (where the end papers will cover it). But that doesn't solve the protection issue. The one I've seen used a piece of thick plastic, held down with tiny gold studs. That looked great, but I'm not sure where one gets such studs, or if you need a machine to insert them. Heck, I'm not sure where you get a thick piece of clear plastic. I could just use transparency paper, but that's kind of thin. Two sheets? Most bewildering...

    It's nice having this kind of thing to work on, though. A good break from packing.