Reading some of the stories, etc. I mentioned in my last On the Bookshelf post reminded me of a couple of Neil Gaiman short stories that are among my favourite tales of all time. So I went back and gave them a re-read this weekend. Check them out if you haven’t read them already:
- “I, Cthulhu, or, What’s A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47° 9′ S, Longitude 126° 43′ W)?” – It’s pretty much what the title says it is.
- “A Study in Emerald” – If you like the creepy, supernatural Royal Family in my Cross books, you’re going to like this. It may also appeal to Sherlock Holmes fans and other troubled sorts.
This seems like a good time to point out I have a Cthulhu story in Has the World Ended Yet?, my latest book. There are also a couple of demon investigator stories featuring Molox, a demonic processing clerk, and Malachi, his impetuous imp companion. I’d kind of like to turn those stories into a book at some point, but more Cross stories are calling first.
I’ve been reading a bunch of different things at once lately – a couple of print books, some ebooks, a short story online, an analysis of another story. It may be I have a short attention span, but I prefer to think of it as the life of a parent with a full-time job.
Anyway, this is what’s on my bookshelf right now:
When the crew of the Nightjar find a merman of the fleet wounded and stranded in the ocean, Gale’s sister, Beatrice, is forced to take a back seat while Gale and Parrish work to find out who would assault a member of the nation of Tallon’s intelligence service. They soon discover a plot that could shake the foundations of the fleet and Beatrice might be the key to preventing a catastrophic disaster.
Dellamonica has more tales more in this universe if you like this story.
Resistance is Futile: Peter Watts’s “The Things” – Tor
Peter Watts is one of my favourite writers, and his story “The Things” is one of my favourite stories – and fucking difficult in a way his works are always challenging. So I am pretty much the target audience for this Tor analysis of the story.
In Lovecraft—and in Carpenter—difference equals horror. For Watts, that works both ways. The singular Thing is shocked and frightened by our individual isolation, our inability to change, our inevitable mortality. Our brains are sapient tumors, our bodies haunted by invisible ghosts. We’re like nothing it’s ever encountered before, though its instinct in the face of that strangeness suggests we might have something in common after all.
For the human readers, the horror of Carpenter’s original shapeshifting identity thief is amped up to a universe in which our individuality is the aberration. We’re a fragile fluke amid worlds of communal entities engaged in an ecstasy of mutual assimilation. Resistance is futile—we survive only as long as we’re not noticed.
Rumi and the Red Handbag by Shawna Lemay
I never thought I’d be interested in the lives of a couple of women working in a second-hand clothing shop, but here I am, lingering on every beautiful sentence and thought. I’m not alone in loving this book.
See also Lemay’s wonderfully calming and meditative blog Transactions with Beauty.
Spellsinger by Sebastien De Castell
You already know I love Sebastien De Castell’s Greatcoats series. Now he’s got a new bunch of books for me to fawn over – the Spellsinger books, about a magical society where everyone is a gifted mage… except for the hero of the story. Sounds like my life, which may explain why I’m enjoying it so much.
All right, enough blogging – back to reading.
The Walrus has a good article about what sexual consent means in the age of #MeToo. It’s timely for the world of CanLit, too, given all the controversy over UBCAccountable and CanLitAccountable, which have torn Canada’s writing communities apart, if they ever truly existed in the first place.
The article is written by Sarah Barmak, who also wrote the book Closer: Notes From the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality – which should be a must-read for pretty much everyone who’s having sex. It makes a really good point about how we inherit culturally models of consent, which can lead to all sorts of confusion, assumptions and problems – but there are other models out there, as is evident in kink and other communities:
There’s also less of a culturally ordained script that dictates what sex is supposed to look like among lgbtq people, says Johnstone. “There’s the assumption [in conversations about heterosexual sex] that it’s the man who would ask consent, and that’s not the reality that a lot of queer and non-binary folks experience, where consent is negotiated between partners.” Traditional models of heterosexuality have a built-in narrative for how sex is supposed to go: first kissing, then touching and undressing, then oral sex, then vaginal intercourse. (It’s why someone knows what you mean if you talk about “going all the way.”) In a culture that takes that script for granted, it may be easy to assume that one act will lead to another and that when someone consents to one part, they are agreeing to that whole sequence. Absent these presumptions about who will do what to whom, says Johnstone, partners talk more about what will happen, before it happens and throughout a sexual encounter. “It’s not just about saying yes or no,” she says. “It’s yes to what? No to what?”
Many kink and polyamorous communities, by their very nature, also have more nuanced and clearly articulated practices for consent. Parties in which explicit sex takes place often have detailed consent guidelines—especially ones at which bondage takes place, where no doesn’t always mean no, but consent is still paramount. (Some hosts distribute consent menus for guests to fill out, asking them to circle the names of sex acts they’re open to that evening.) It is common at such gatherings to hear that “consent is sexy” and that whips-and-leather bondage in which consent is explicit is safer than “vanilla” sex in which it is assumed.
Check it out and remember: there’s never anything wrong with asking.
I’ve received a lot of compliments for the cover of my new book, Has the World Ended Yet?, which I’ve graciously accepted even though I had nothing to do with it. The beautiful cover was all the doing of artist Michel Vrana, working on what my editor, Paul Vermeersch, had told him about the book.
Writers actually have very little control over their covers – the art is usually ran past us for approval but that’s more of a courtesy than a requirement. Publishers know what covers sell, after all – except for when they don’t. It’s a tricky business to be in sometimes.
While I’ve heard many horror stories from writers about their covers, I’ve been lucky enough – blessed even! – to always have covers I have absolutely loved. The artists don’t always get the credit they deserve, so I thought I’d give them a shoutout here because book art is the best art of all!
If you need a cover for your new book, now you know where to start!
I’m delighted to see my new book, Has the World Ended Yet?, included in Corey Redekop’s list of books that he done got through in 2017. Some mighty fine company there – I’ve added some new books to my own reading list!
If you like my work, I think you’ll love Corey’s books. I’d suggest starting with Husk, a darkly comic zombie novel. That one is still messing with my head….
Thanks to everyone who entered the Goodreads giveaway for Has the World Ended Yet?, my new book. Nearly 1,300 people entered – amazing! The 10 winner should be receiving the book shortly and taken into the shining light. The rest of us will be abandoned on the earth to meet our miserable fate. Happy New Year!
Have a great 2018, everyone! May it be less apocalyptic than 2017!
(Posted from my fallout shelter.)