Month: December 2013

2013 in Review and a Glimpse at 2014 Plans

Posted December 30, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Goals / 5 Comments

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Daily Life. The text 'Lynn's Living Life' underneath the cameo silhouette of a woman. Daily life updates.

Once upon a time, when I was in university, 2012 was going to be the year. It was going to be my year and start living my dream, somehow, despite anxiety issues and a history with culture shock. I visited my best friend for the first time and got to see Amy again and, oh yeah, my dentist ruined my plans and I put everything I’d been working on and dreaming of on hold because I cannot adult and deal with dental issues at the same time.

As my friends know: dental things upset me at best. Please do not offer advice or share stories or aught unless I’ve specifically asked you to do so. Also, if discussion of dental things upset or trigger you, be warned that the first paragraph below the cut discusses it in some detail. If you want to avoid it altogether, SKIP TO THE NEXT BIT IN ALL CAPS.

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Top Reads of 2013

Posted December 25, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books / 4 Comments

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Thoughts. The text 'rambling thoughts' underneath a burning lantern. For rambles, thoughts, and not-essays.

Meep. I haven’t done one of these in a very, very long time and the year isn’t over yet. Good thing I can save these as drafts and only publish them later, because if I read something utterly amazing before the end of the year, I can still edit this post to reflect that and my reading sometimes shoots up during the holiday season.

But to the books! They’re mostly in the order that I read them and, with one exception, the books I’m mentioning are all new-to-me reads. Otherwise you’d get a couple of classics, notably The Hobbit and The Last Unicorn. I have now named those rereads as two of my top reads, so let’s move on!

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Early Sci-Fi Memories and My Experiences with Le Guin’s Works

Posted December 18, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Thoughts. The text 'rambling thoughts' underneath a burning lantern. For rambles, thoughts, and not-essays.

I’d title this “ Book Talk: The Dispossessed” and talk about my experiences with that book, but I already know that it would veer off in an entirely different direction very soon if I tried, so that would be silly. Nevertheless, that book is going to be a fairly important note in my rambling here.

When I first read Le Guin’s books, I picked up the Catwings series. They were short; they were about cats with wings; they were perfect candidates to start with, even though I was over twenty at the time and they’re books aimed at smaller children. I branched out into Earthsea after that and from there I decided I’d try to jump into Le Guin’s science fiction with whatever books came to me first. I’d read a couple now. I knew I liked her writing. I wouldn’t have to worry so much about starting her science fiction with a book that I didn’t click with. The first book I picked up after the Catwings books was The Beginning Place, which I finished and hated. Most of the information I found out about it suggested that it wasn’t her best book by a long shot, and I’d liked the previous ones, so I decided I’d give her works more chances and when I saw The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness in a second-hand store, I snapped them up. I didn’t know much about the former, but I knew the latter was a big thing. They’ve been languishing until… Well, the latter is still languishing a little, but the former I’ve tried to read.

Yep, tried. I bailed two-thirds of the way through. It was a good book, don’t get me wrong, but we weren’t clicking with one another and then, on top of appreciating the book and not really liking it, it gave me a headache from hell. At which point I said “Stuff it” and went off to read something else. That’s not at all the reaction I was expecting at any point, but I’m not surprised by it either.

I think I have, at an earlier point (or will at a later if I said it in a scheduled post), discussed that I’m not really a fan of ‘hard’ science fiction. The Dispossessed leans towards that for me. Not because there’s a lot of physics and science discussed in it (though there’s a fair quantity), but because the ideas of the novel felt all important. They eclipsed the relationships between the characters (and, indeed, the characters themselves). Now, I learn well through stories to the point where if you want me to understand an abstract concept, a story is usually the best way to go. But only if I connect to and invest in the characters. Otherwise it’s just a thesis with a veneer of story passed over it, a bit a la Plato’s Symposium.

Le Guin’s work is a bit of an odd duck, almost, in that one of my earliest memories of science fiction books has been my dad pushing her books on me and refusing to take “No” for an answer. He still doesn’t. I spent years of my life shouting “No” at the top of my lungs. My dad likes Le Guin’s science fiction books. He likes books that discuss ideas and theories far more than he likes books that focus on people and relationships. He’d probably like The Dispossessed too. He’s not a great fan of Le Guin’s fantasy books.

I wouldn’t call myself a fan of them, but I did click with them to a far greater extent than I did to The Dispossessed. Anyway, my point is that my earliest memories of science fiction books include a lot of negativity. It’s involved a lot of pushing and fighting back against that pushing. I spent years utterly refusing to read anything by Le Guin — and I still refuse to read any part of Dune — as much because I’m more of a fantasy reader as because it became a matter of principle. I said “No” and I meant “No”.

But Le Guin is one of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy out there, so eventually curiosity won out. You probably guessed that. And I picked up the Catwings books not just because they were short and about winged cats, but because my dad had never read them. I could read those books free of baggage and negativity. And I liked them and that brings me neatly back to the second paragraph of this post. I’ve read two of Le Guin’s science fiction novels and liked exactly none of them. Appreciated them on an intellectual level, sure, well enough, but I haven’t liked them. I’m hoping that I’ll have better luck with The Left Hand of Darkness. I snuck a peek at the first page already and it did seem more likely to click with me than The Dispossessed did, even though first person, as a rule, doesn’t click as well as third for me.

But there you go. Some early memories of my encounters with Le Guin’s work as well as how my reading of her works has gone to date. Maybe what I need are some recommendations on where to start with her science fiction? They’d have to be from people who keep my interests in mind, though. My dad has no regard for whether something is actually interesting to you or not and thinks going “Readitreaditreaditreaditreadit. I say you must read it because I think it’s awesome” enough times is a good way to convince someone. (Hint: it really isn’t. At best people try to read it just to shut you up.)

So. Bearing in mind that I don’t like books that lean heavily toward discussing ideas, anyone have any suggestions on which of Le Guin’s science fiction novels I could poke? Should I be looking at the short story collections instead?

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Monthly Goals November/December 2013

Posted December 3, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Goals / 0 Comments

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Monthly Goals. The text 'monthly goals' underneath a scroll with a key on it. A look back at my goals of the month.

So. It is now December and NaNoWriMo is passed and the year is almost over and it’s time to reflect on what I’ve been doing the past month. Let me remind everyone of my goals this month!

I Want to Read:
– Alysha’s Fall by M.C.A. Hogarth
– River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

I Want to Write:
50000 words of fiction

I’ve accomplished exactly one of those goals. I managed to read Alysha’s Fall. I’ve made no new progress with River of Stars because I really, really do not wish to run out of new to me Guy Gavriel Kay books. Also, it’s bulky and painful to hold, but mostly I don’t want to be out of new Guy Gavriel Kay books. T_T

NaNoWriMo, even rebelling, turned out to be… not impossible, but certainly more challenging than I’d anticipated. I wrote 31,087 words, most of which was nonfiction and some of which I’m not going to be sharing. The good news is that the nonfiction writing has helped me sort myself out a little. Sometimes nonfiction writing does that, you see, and that’s a worthwhile result in its own rights. I’m nowhere near sorting the issue or discussing it more publicly — part of what I’m struggling with is public face and presentation; this means it’s likely that once I have an actual storyline to comment on the situation with, I’ll probably go that route — but I’m somewhere closer to getting there. I’m sure I’ll sort it out eventually. I did get some writing done, though! I currently have about 5K of a story (projected to be nearer the 30K mark) I promised a friend ages and ages ago. It’s a very draining story to be working on. I’m fairly sure the protagonist and viewpoint character has GAD, which isn’t the same as SAnD, but which is still harrowing to write. I can’t say I recommend trying to draw on experience when describing panic attacks, even when they’re comparatively mild. I’m so sorry to be taking forever with working on it, but I do hope it’ll be considered worth the wait. I’d really wanted it to be finished at about this length, but I’m not even a quarter of the way through. When I’m not busy avoiding it because of ow, though, I’m pretty excited about it.

So. December is going to be about making some proper headway with this story. I’ve been learning a lot these winter months, though. For example: I’ve learned that I really did make the right call in not trying to start crowdfunding projects. I’m not in the right space for them, my stories repeatedly refuse to stick within the word count I estimate for them, and I write ridiculously slowly. (I hate the latter the most, even though I’m trying to work out how it got to this point and how to deal with it.)

Anyway! I did read a decent amount in November too, but it’s definitely been one of the worst months for it this entire year. Still, I enjoyed what I read immensely and I’m really proud of myself for finishing The Wanderers on time before my interview with Cheryl. That became a goal partway through the month, because I really wanted to have a review accompany the interview, give a recommendation based on “I read this!” as much as on anything else.

I Want to Read:
– The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
– The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
– Goblin Moon by Terera Edgerton

I Want to Write:
5000 words of fiction

December will bring with it a few things, including a holiday. I seem to be going for a darkness/night kind of theme with my titles. We’ll see how it goes. Most of these are fairly thin and December, in recent years, usually sees my reading surge up one last time before the holiday season ends. I have a list of (paper) books I’d like to finish before the year is out. I’m probably not going to make it, but we’ll see. I’ve surprised myself with my reading lists before. I just have so, so many books I’m looking forward to. I’m toning down my writing goal a little in keeping with my tendency to read and the desire to try and finish up a few games if I get a good chance to play any, but also to keep with the fact that I want something easily obtainable. I’ve fallen off the writing bandwagon in the latter half of the year, and even at my most generous I find the numbers of what I accomplished this year depressing. I want to try and step back and take it slow. 2013 has, so far, been all about trying to figure out my health and if not improving then at least maintaining where I’m at. Oh, and I spent my year so far doing a million scary things, such as publish a book, so I want to try and leave the year gently and simultaneously productively. Get 2014 off to a good start and all. We’ll see how it all goes in the end. ^–^ I’ll also be reading a fair few short stories and trying to catch up on a few of my friends’ pieces.

Anyway, those are my goals. I don’t celebrate Christmas — or much of anything, really — or have any holiday plans so apart from spending some obligatory time with my family I should have plenty of time on my hands. That also make spending time with my family sound less pleasant than it normally is. Sorry about that, family! We’ll see how things go. I’ll be trying my hand at making to-do lists again. Maybe this time I can stick with them. They always help.

And that’s where I’m at for December!

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The Sci-Fi Experience Kick-off Post: Consortium

Posted December 1, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Banner for the 2014 Scifi ExperienceNope, this isn’t the same as the intro post. This’ll be a very brief post too as I just want to highlight a science-fiction RPG that’s likely going to be released during the Sci-Fi Experience and give you an updated heads-up of what to expect on the blog over the coming two months.

First up! What to expect the coming two months. Sort of. I’ve scheduled a bunch of posts on science fiction games, both old and new, for the duration of the experience. There’ll be at least one game-related post going live every week in December and probably in January as well.
I haven’t scheduled anything for the books or movies/shows, so those will be going up sporadically, because, well, I haven’t read the books yet and I have played the games.
I’ve tried to match the gaming posts up with the Vintage Science Fiction Month, so you get some vintage gaming posts in January and a look at some of the newer games I’ve played in December. (Hint: Mass Effect is not among them. I may or may not rectify the lack of Mass Effect in my life eventually.) As a bonus, I’m still working on a scifi short story too! Lots of scifi in my year.

And now that you know what to expect in a little more detail over the course of the month, the meat of this post: a heads-up about a science fiction RPG called Consortium. I haven’t played it (it’s not out and I’m not a betatester), but I’ve been watching its development… pretty much since I found it on Kickstarter and I wanted to link you all to Rock, Paper, Shotgun‘s preview post of the game. They do a much better job at describing Consortium than I could, and they offer commentary on how the game plays as well!

The the Consortium website does better job than I could do, but have the first part of the description on their website and if it sounds interesting you can click the link for the rest.

We have been spending years bringing to life a bright vision of humanity’s future – a world that has overcome many of the gravest environmental and societal issues we face today. Step through the rift and join the CONSORTIUM; the most feared and revered paramilitary peacekeepers on the planet.

WHAT IF you could take complete control of another human being? And what if that human being was a man destined to decide the fate of an alternate dimension? Speak for him, move for him, and be known as merciful and/or a killer, hero, liar, wild card…or perhaps the strong/silent type?

CONSORTIUM gives you that chance…

Like I said, I’ve been casually following the development of Consortium since their kickstarter back in the spring. I’m pretty excited to get a chance to play it when it’s released. Those of you who know me may be a little surprised at my interest in this game because, by and large, I prefer having basic character customisation. (I appreciate the fact that the lack of it here appears to be tied directly to the game’s premise and plot.) And, really, the premise and plot, what I know of it and I’ve been avoiding the game’s backstory as much as I’ve been following its development. I want to go into it as fresh and unfamiliar as I can. It strikes me as one of those games where it’ll enhance my enjoyment. (YMMV.) If the game gets released during the Sci-Fi Experience, there’s a good chance I’ll be talking about my initial impressions later in the experience, but for now I just wanted to bring it to people’s attention in case they felt it sounded interesting. ^-^

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