So I won’t be here. Try to find meaning in your life anyway.
Quite a few books and ARCs came in while I was on the boat last week, so here they are, over three pictures. Anything look good to you? Share in the comments!
Short form intro: Marjorie M. Liu is awesome, and her Hunter’s Kiss series of books is awesome, and now there’s a new book in the series, Labyrinth of Stars. Marjorie takes a moment to look at the series and its heroine and where they both are, after all this time.
MARJORIE M. LIU:
The concept of the Hunter Kiss series is straight-forward: A young woman is covered head to toe in living tattoos that make her invulnerable by day, and that peel off her body at night to form her own demonic army. There are a million different ways I could have approached that concept, but as writers we’re often products of a particular moment in our lives. Back in 2008 when I wrote the first book in the series, The Iron Hunt, I thought what I was trying to create was an urban fantasy about a girl who would solve supernatural mysteries. Instead, what I wrote was something very different: a series of books about a young woman’s emergence from her mother’s long shadow.
For my heroine, Maxine Kiss, that’s easier said than done. Those tattoos that protect her have been passed down from mother to daughter for ten thousand years, and it’s a tragic inheritance. Every mother ultimately dies for her daughter – violently, terribly — and every daughter knows that, and knows she’ll do the same for her daughter, whether she wants to sacrifice herself or not. That’s the price of their power.
But it sucks. How do you live your own life, become your own individual self, when the only person you knew as family, — your mother, your world, your source of identity – is sacrificed so that you can go on living? How do you carve your own path, when you feel compelled to follow the legacy of the woman who died for you? Beyond all the demons and conspiracies, and otherworldly happenings of the Hunter Kiss series, that is the ultimate question – one I’ve tried to answer over the course of the previous four novels and two novellas.
And now I’ve come to Labyrinth of Stars, which isn’t the end of the road for Maxine – just the beginning, in fact – though it is the end of a particularly long chapter in her life, one that began with her as a daughter still struggling to follow her mother’s footsteps, and that ultimately finds her transformed into a woman about to become a mother herself, with her own legacy to pass down.
Mothers and daughters — the sacrifices we make for each other – the strength it takes to become women in our own right, with our own power: that’s the over-arching idea behind this latest novel, and all the Hunter Kiss books. But it’s an old story with endless incarnations — and yet, for all of its familiarity, as intimate as skin.
Once upon a time, about a half hour ago, this guy said to me on Twitter:
@scalzi @exjon: Remind me to never buy 1 of your books.
— Shawn Smith (@Zaklog) March 7, 2014
I love being helpful!
Yes, it is a tiny little thing, isn’t it. Although in point of fact it has the same screen real estate as my first-gen Nook; what it’s missing is the bottom third, which included the little LCD screen. It’s also (and not surprisingly) substantially thinner and lighter the first-gen Nook, which was not especially hefty to begin with. It’s something like six ounces, which means it probably weighs less than the paperback version of The Human Division. That’s a little weird.
I’ve had the thing for less than a day so I don’t want to post an in-depth review, but I will say that so far it’s been pretty lovely. It does what it’s supposed to (i.e., allow you to read electronic books without much eyestrain), the screen is crisp and clear, and the built-in light works as advertised. The thing doesn’t have as many features as the first-gen Nook; you can’t cruise the Web, for example. But inasmuch as cruising the Web on an e-ink reader was a distinctly subpar experience that I did exactly once, I cant say I will miss it much. For reading books, the new Nook is exactly as advertised.
When writers start a book, there’s the idea, person or event that the book centers on. But when the writing starts in earnest, does that initial idea stay at the center? Does it have to? Stephen Leigh confronted these very questions while writing his latest novel, Immortal Muse. Here he is to talk about how it worked out for him… this time.
The first spark that resulted in Immortal Muse came in January, 2010. I habitually kick up the BBC’s “Day In Pictures” website in the morning — I love photography, and they always have incredible images. That day, I saw a shot of a woman reflected in curved metal elongating her figure, and that reminded me of my Fine Art undergrad days and dark mornings staring at slides in Art History class, and specifically the work of Amedeo Modigliani. So I googled Modigliani and glanced at several of his portraits. I happened to notice that many of his portraits were of the same person: Jeanne Hébuterne.
So I googled her…
Ever felt a sudden, strong attraction to a person in a photo? That happened to me with Jeanne. I thought, gee, if I were much younger, unattached, and able to travel back in time, I’d love to hit Paris in 1918 and look her up. That being three successive impossibilities, there was zero chance of this happening, so it was a safe thought. (You can see a photograph of Jeanne here).
I also read the biography and discovered a tragic and sad love story. Here’s the short, truncated version. Jeanne was Modigliani’s last muse. She met him in 1917; they fell in love. During their affair, Jeanne became pregnant, giving birth to a daughter in 1918. Jeanne would become pregnant again, but by that time Modigliani was suffering from tubercular meningitis; he would die in January of 1920. Jeanne, eight months pregnant and exhausted from caring for him, was distraught. Her parents had taken her to their home, but the day after Modigliani’s death, Jeanne threw herself from the fifth floor balcony of her parents’ apartment, ending her life and that of her unborn child. She was twenty years old.
The whole story resonated. With novels (at least for me), Big Ideas come from several sources, not one. If you want the whole gory story of the genesis for the novel, it’s here. Suffice it say that I started thinking about a muse who would touch several historical figures… because then I could do something with Jeanne and Amedeo.
I proceeded to draft out the novel… where my muse protagonist shows up everywhere from the late 1300s to contemporary NYC. But I’ll admit that something was already bothering me even as I sent out the initial polished draft to my editor at DAW, Sheila Gilbert. I was hoping that Sheila wouldn’t sense that struggle, and tell me “Oh, this is wonderful and perfect and for you to change a single golden word would be a crime.”
Yeah. Right. I should have known better.
Sheila called after she’d read the draft, telling me how much she liked the overall book, but also (of course) mentioning a few things she felt I needed to work on. Chief among those was the Modigliani section. I’ll paraphrase what Sheila said: “You have her pregnant twice here, and I know that’s because, historically, she was, but here’s the problem: if your muse can have children, than she should have had kids all throughout history; if she’s had those kids, then if she isn’t concerned with their welfare and their descendant’s welfare and so on, then she becomes a cold, selfish, and unsympathetic character. You don’t want that.”
My answer to Sheila was, well, I sorta gave a hand-wave explanation by saying that this happened because Jeanne was so deeply in love with Amedeo that something inside her shifted and she could become pregnant even though that had never happened before over the centuries, and gosh golly gee doesn’t that work?
There was silence on the other end of the line. Sheila uses silence well. “OK,” I told her finally. “I don’t buy that either. Let me think about all this, and I’ll get back to you in a few days.”
I thought about it. I thought about it obsessively. I really loved the alternate history that I’d come up for Jeanne, and after all, she’d been the initial spark for the whole damn book. I considered not giving Jeanne and Amedeo children at all, but for me the kick of writing historical fantasy is in actually using the facts and finding alternate explanations for them. Making Jeanne childless would be bending genuine history far too much for my comfort.
How else could I save this section? How could I make it work? After all, this was over 10,000 words of the novel. It had taken me months to write. I had to save it, right?
And I realized this: I couldn’t. The more I thought about it, the more I knew that the only good writerly choice was to jettison Jeanne entirely — which would involve re-envisioning the structure and much of the plot of the book. Here’s the truth: sometimes the Big Idea doesn’t make it into the book because it doesn’t work with what the book eventually becomes. That precious idea-child of yours has to be cast out and exiled, despite the pain.
Reluctantly, I deleted the section and began the process of re-writing from the beginning.
Well, I deleted the section from the book, but I kept the file. I’d worked on it too much to just toss it in the digital bin. If you’d like to see it, I’ll give you the link in a moment. Mind you, the section isn’t sufficiently proofed, it’s missing several additional polishing passes the rest of manuscript received, and it also contains spoilers that might affect your reading of the “real” book. Worse, the ‘spoilers’ in the section are wrong — they don’t match events in the final revision. Bear all this in mind if you decide to take a look. DO NOT CLICK HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS BEFORE READING THE BOOK!
In the end, Big Ideas are wonderful things, and even though the one that started me on the path for this book didn’t make it between the covers, I’ll always be grateful to Jeanne for being my muse, if only for a time.
Inasmuch as this picture was taken from the top of a zipline somewhere in the Caribbean, you may assume it was in fact perfectly lovely. That’s our boat over there in the top left corner, the Independence of the Seas, which when you add up passengers and crew, has more than three times the people on it than live in my home town. It’s a little weird to think of it that way. Seriously, the thing is just ridiculously huge.
Last year Krissy and I went on the JoCo cruise and had a good enough time to do it again. This time we also brought along our daughter and our niece, the former because if we went to the Caribbean again without her, she might put us in the bad sort of nursing home decades down the line, and the latter because, we thought she might enjoy it (we were right). With the exception of the occasional performer swear word (if you worry about such things), the JoCo cruise is family and kid friendly, and the Independence also had a full slate of teen activities — enough that outside of dinner and onshore events, we hardly saw Athena at all.
I noted last year (I think) that I’m not a fan of going on cruises in a general sense, but I like the JoCo cruise specifically because so many people I know — performers and “seamonkeys” (the JoCo cruise attendees names for themselves) both — are on the boat with us. So if worse came to worst I could just chat my way across the Caribbean. Fortunately it’s never come to “worst,” but on the other hand I did spend a lot of time chatting with people, which really is one of my favorite things to do.
The good news is that the JoCo cruise does a very good job with the performers. In addition to the returning performers (JoCo himself, Paul and Storm, John Hodgman and David Rees, as well as Peter Sagal and Paul F. Tompkins from a couple cruises back), the cruise had some new and interesting performers as well, including among others Nathan Sawaya (who does amazing things with Lego, see the picture at the end of this entry), Grant Imahara, Jim Boggia, Hank Green and especially Sara Watkins, whose performance my wife was so taken with that she went up to Sara afterwards and told her she wanted to stuff her into a suitcase and take her home with us, which I assure you sounded a lot less creepy when Krissy said it than when I wrote it just now.
In addition to just hanging around on the boat, talking to people and eating a ridiculous amount of food, I also pitched in on a couple of things. One of them was Molly Lewis’ video, which showed up here yesterday, and the other was another episode of “Celebrity Artemis,” in which I and several other nerds pilot a (simulated) starship whilst on stage, for the amusement of the seamonkeys. This year I was the science officer, on a ship also crewed by Joseph Scrimshaw, Adam Bernstein, Grant Imahara, Peter Sagal and Angela Webber of the Doubleclicks as our captain. We did very well, if “very well” is defined as “yelling at Grant for driving us into asteroids at Warp 4.” Which, for entertainment purposes, is correct. When it gets to YouTube, and it will, I’ll put it up here.
So, in all, yet another ton of fun. I remain not a fan of cruises, but definitely a fan of the JoCo Cruise. Rumor is, there might be another one next year. You should start saving your pennies now.
I’m not Catholic, or, really, religious in any sense at all, but I like the idea of Lent — giving up something that you like in order to reflect on the idea of sacrifice (note this is a very abbreviated version of what Lent is). A few years ago my daughter wanted to experience Lent so she and I both gave up something we liked: She the Internet and I my precious, precious Coke Zero. It was a near thing, but we both survived.
This year I’ve decided to do something Lent-ish again, and in this case, from now until Easter, I am giving up something I really like: Junk food. Which in this case I am defining as cookies, candy bars, chips — basically, if it comes in crinkly packaging and/or the primary ingredients are some combination of sugar, salt and fat, it’s off limits until Easter Sunday.
Why do this? One, because I’m currently at 180 pounds (i.e., too much for my own comfort level with my own body) and I need to lose weight, and cutting out all the crap will be useful to that end (I may also — gasp! — exercise). Two, because I’ve never gone six weeks without junk food of any sort and I’m curious to see what happens when I do. I like to think I’ll replace all that crap with, like, fruits and vegetables and such. It’s more likely I’ll just be cranky for six weeks because I can’t have my candy. We’ll see.
I’m telling you so that if any of you see me with a Snickers bar you can smack it out of my hand and berate me for it. I’ve already told Krissy not to let me slide, which I suspect means that the first thing she will do when she gets home is set a flamethrower to our pantry. Let her. Let the cleansing begin.
Farewell, candy, chips, cookies and other assorted crap. I’ll see you again on HOLY GOD APRIL 20 WHY IS IT SOOOOOO FAR WAY NOOOOOOOOO
Anyway, here we go.
Pray for me.
(P.S.: During Lent I will be taking the money I usually spend on crap and donating it to our local food bank. You know. As you do.)
In e-mail, an (excerpted) comment from a reader:
You didn’t have much to say about the Jonathan Ross/Hugo dust up. That’s not like you.
Well, you know. Two things: One, I had literally just gotten off a boat from a week at sea and was playing catchup on everything, including things that directly related to me, which this did not. I was also doing a lot of napping, because oddly enough, vacations can be tiring. I had barely learned about the incident, took a nap, and when I woke up it was done. So there was that.
Two: I was largely and deeply ignorant of both Mr. Ross and the context of the issue when I first heard about it, and now, several days later, am mostly still aware of all the things I don’t know about everything involving this incident. Anything I would add at this point would either a) be a rehash of things others have said better because they know more or have followed it more carefully, b) serve to expose said ignorance in one manner or another. Which will just make people cranky at me to no real purpose. Aside from a few mostly vague tweets on the topic, I’ve let this one alone.
So, in short: This was a contretemps that I was both unprepared to comment on and which largely got along without me any event. It was a thing that passed me by. I didn’t run to catch it. In the end I think Loncon3′s apology substantially covered what needed to be said, and I’m happy they offered it (note: avoid the comments there, because they’re Facebook comments, and they will just make you unhappy).
In a larger sense, I’m also at a point where if I know I don’t know what I should know about something, I’m gonna want to spend time learning more — or alternately, making the choice that this particular event can get along without me. Or, as it happened in this case, both.
In which I have a cameo, because I wasn’t wearing a beard at the time. So there’s irony. Anyway. An amusing encomium to hirsuteness.
Having just come back from a weeklong cruise that included stops at tropical islands, I can say they’re lovely to visit. But would I want to live there? Especially if I didn’t exactly choose to be there? It’s a question Lynne Matson considers in NIL — and here, she digs into the story behind a tropical paradise gone (possibly) wrong.
I can tell you the precise moment the idea for NIL fell into my head.
I had been in Hawaii (the Big Island) with my husband for all of thirty minutes. It was our first real vacation since the arrival of baby boy number four a few years earlier, and the lack of little Matson men under my charge was HUGE. It meant that as we got into our rental car, I didn’t have to wrangle anyone into a carseat, point out a passing bulldozer, or drive one-handed while I blindly fished around on the backseat for a wayward sippy cup (note: don’t do that; it’s NOT safe.) It meant that, for once, I could just look out the window, and relax. And think.
As we left the airport, we drove through miles of ancient lava fields. Broken red rock stretched endlessly both sides, gorgeous and desolate. There were no roads, no buildings, no people–only the eerie sound of wind blowing over the rocks. The silence pressed against us, powerful and real; it had a presence all its own. I specifically remember thinking how much the landscape looked like an alien planet, and thinking how creepy would it be to wake up there, alone, without a clue to tell you where you were? And what if you were a teenager, maybe one who wasn’t well-traveled? And what if–because let’s be honest, isn’t this every person’s worst nightmare?!-–you woke up naked?
NIL was born in that moment. That barren-red-rock visual locked in my head, and that’s what Charley sees when she first opens her eyes on the island of Nil. As soon as we checked into our hotel, I pulled out my laptop and my very-patient husband waited as I typed out the opening scenes of NIL.
From that point forward, the story exploded in my head with the island at the story’s core. I’ve always been fascinated with islands–and yes, I watched WAY too much Gilligan’s Island as a teen. (I was equally fascinated by Ginger’s perfect hair and the Professor’s inability to fashion a working raft even as he built a functioning receiver out of coconuts.) How could a three-hour-tour go so wrong?!
For me, islands offer the perfect mix of paradise and doom. The ocean provides a blatant and ever-present barrier to escape, but at the same time, beaches embody stunning natural beauty. The idea of being trapped in paradise gave me heaps of material to work with as I created the world of NIL . . . especially the idea of a dangerous paradise, one with cracks in the facade. What if there were other beasties trapped on the island too? Some friendly, some not so much? And of course, sometimes humans are the most dangerous creatures of all.
But let me clarify: NIL is not a contemporary Lord of the Flies re-telling; teenage savagery wasn’t my vision. Instead, my vision was one of teen survival: how do teens cling to their hope and humanity when faced with an expiration date?
I gave the teens in NIL a deadline, literally. They each have exactly one year–to escape the island, or die. It’s how the teens choose to spend those days that drives the book.
How do the teens adjust to the shock of arrival? How do they survive in a place they don’t understand, using skills they’ve never had to develop? Do they make connections with other teens, risk growing close to someone or falling in love, knowing that they might not have a future together? Do they choose to hope? Do they choose to help one another, or simply fend for themselves? How does the daily struggle to meet basic needs affect the teens’ broader hunger for understanding of the island itself? How do they fight the unknown? Or do they choose to fight at all? Do they give up? How do they cope every day with the knowledge their personal clock is winding down? I chose a veteran and a newcomer, and using a dual point of view, I worked though all of these questions and came up with different answers.
For all of us here, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. And yet, would you live differently if you knew that you had a finite number of days left to live: a year, perhaps less? And what if you might live–but then again, you might not. So for the teens on the island of Nil, death isn’t guaranteed, but neither is life. And if they do escape, they’ll have to live with the consequences of decisions made back on Nil. Time is a worthy adversary all its own. On Nil, time–especially the lack of it–colors every character’s decision, but each character makes very different choices. Some selfless, some selfish. Some perhaps, a mix of both.
In the end, NIL is a survival story. It’s also a story of love and friendship and above all, hope. Because without hope, we have nothing. Many of my characters felt that way too.
So if you find yourself on the island of Nil, hold your hope tight. Oh, and run. I’ll be rooting for you.
Taken on one of the formal nights of the cruise. Yup, she’s gorgeous.
I was given a first generation Nook by a friend of mine in 2010, and yesterday, after a week at sea and in the sun, the thing gave up the ghost. I got roughly three and a half years of use out of it. On one hand, for a piece of handheld electronics, that’s not a bad run. On the other hand, it’s a reminder that the life of electronic equipment, relative to a decently-produced physical book, is tragically evanescent. The mass market paperback of The Human Division which is sitting on my desk at the moment has the potential to outlive me and be accessible to anyone who has the ability to pick it up (and read English); the electronic version of it I have via B&N* lasts only as long, effectively speaking, as I keep a B&N account — or B&N exists at all.**
Be that as it may, I really do like e-ink readers; they’re easy on the eyes and on power supplies. So I went ahead an bought the latest generation of Nook e-ink reader (this one, specifically). Given the state of B&N’s Nook business, it might be the last e-reader of that brand I’ll have a chance to buy. But if it lasts at least as long as its predecessor I won’t have too much reason to complain. At this point, I think it’s clear that you buy these things with the understanding they don’t last forever.
* Yes, I buy finished electronic copies of my books. I can afford it.
** I am aware of course that I can strip off the DRM of any book I buy and just port it to another reader. But that takes work. I’m likely to avoid doing that work for as long as I possibly can.
Due to popular demand, Ursula Vernon and I are making Ursula’s fabulous “Roachie the Riveter” art available on coffee mugs, perfect for quaffing your favorite beverages while you clack your way into the literary world. We’re doing the mugs through Zazzle, because it’s easy and because we know they do a pretty good job with mugs.
Also, I’m happy to say that any artist proceeds from the mugs will go to two fine organizations: The Carl Brandon Society and the Xerces Society for Pollinator Conservation. It’s a nice way to show your allegiance to diversity in SF/F and, well, bees and other such useful creatures.
(For those of you going “huh?” to this, here’s some context.)
And yes, of course, I have ordered my own. Two, actually!
And I have to say, it’s an excellent slate this year. All information taken from here. The winners will be announced at the Nebula Weekend this May, in San Jose.
Congratulations to all the nominees!
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
Fire with Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Hild, Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper)
‘‘Wakulla Springs,’’ Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (Tor.com 10/2/13)
‘‘The Weight of the Sunrise,’’ Vylar Kaftan (Asimov’s 2/13)
‘‘Annabel Lee,” Nancy Kress (New Under the Sun, Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick)
‘‘Burning Girls,’’ Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com 6/19/13)
‘‘Trial of the Century,’’ Lawrence M. Schoen (lawrencemschoen.com, 8/13; World Jumping)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)
‘‘Paranormal Romance,’’ Christopher Barzak (Lightspeed 6/13)
‘‘The Waiting Stars,’’ Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky)
‘‘They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass,’’ Alaya Dawn Johnson (Asimov’s 1/13)
‘‘Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters,’’ Henry Lien (Asimov’s 12/13)
‘‘The Litigation Master and the Monkey King,’’ Ken Liu (Lightspeed 8/13)
‘‘In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,’’ Sarah Pinsker (Strange Horizons 7/1 – 7/8/13)
Best Short Story
‘‘The Sounds of Old Earth,’’ Matthew Kressel (Lightspeed 1/13)
‘‘Selkie Stories Are for Losers,’’ Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons 1/7/13)
‘‘Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer,’’ Kenneth Schneyer (Clockwork Phoenix 4)
‘‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,’’ Rachel Swirsky (Apex 3/13)
‘‘Alive, Alive Oh,’’ Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (Lightspeed 6/13)
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Doctor Who: ‘‘The Day of the Doctor’’ (Nick Hurran, director; Steven Moffat, writer) (BBC Wales)
Europa Report (Sebastián Cordero, director; Philip Gelatt, writer) (Start Motion Pictures)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, director; Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, writers) (Warner Bros.)
Her (Spike Jonze, director; Spike Jonze, writer) (Warner Bros.)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, director; Simon Beaufoy & Michael deBruyn, writers) (Lionsgate)
Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, director; Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, writers) (Warner Bros.)
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black (Little, Brown; Indigo)
When We Wake, Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin; Little, Brown)
Sister Mine, Nalo Hopkinson (Grand Central)
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
Hero, Alethea Kontis (Harcourt)
September Girls, Bennett Madison (Harper Teen)
A Corner of White, Jaclyn Moriarty (Levine)
There is evidence to suggest the neighbor kids used the backyard hill for sledding, perhaps earlier this very morning.
Which, I would hasten to add, is perfectly fine. They’ve asked before, and we’ve given them blanket permission. It is in fact a lovely little hill to do a bit of sledding on. It would be a shame if it were not used for that purpose at all. Given how cold and cranky this particular winter has been, I’m delighted the kids are getting some fun out of it.
I was on a boat and/or Grand Cayman last Tuesday, so I neglected to make a big deal out of The Human Division coming out in paperback on its release day — and indeed, had not seen the paperback version of the book before I left on vacation. However, the bookstore at the Fort Lauderdale airport had a nice stack of them. So here they are, for your perusal. It looks great, if I do say so myself.
If you’ve not previously gotten a copy, head over to the book vendor of your choice and get it. Once again, my daughter’s future college education thanks you.
My cats got me up early and I can’t get back to sleep, so I might as well make something useful out of it. And thus, a few post-Oscar thoughts.
1. For those of you who missed it, I did post some updates to my predictions prior to heading off on vacation; I appended them to my original post here. With the updates, I ended up going my usual five out of six in the major categories, sticking with Amy Adams for Best Actress mostly out of sheer cussedness (although I noted I was ready for people to say “told you so” when Blanchett won). I am however happy to say my bet that Her would get a screenplay award paid off. Go me.
2. Between the Oscar nomination announcements and the ceremony, I was surprised both by the major fade of American Hustle, which I thought was going to be a front runner, and the (to my mind) resurgence of Gravity, which I thought had peaked. But then, this is why I do an immediate prediction post and then a followup — there’s more than enough time between nominations and ceremony for things to change.
3. I noted in my original prediction post that I thought a Best Picture/Best Director split was likely this year, and I was correct about that (even if I initially was wrong about to whom the Oscar would go to). As I noted at the time, one reason a split seemed likely to me was that Steve McQueen, the director of 12 Years a Slave, was also a producer of the film. He’d get an Oscar if 12 Years won Best Picture, even if he didn’t get the director statuette. This made it easier for voters to honor Cuaron for his immense technical achievement in Gravity. Note that with Gravity and 12 Years flipping the wins in the categories would have the same effect as Cuaron was also a producer on his film. Either way, however, everyone goes home happy (except David O. Russell).
It’s also significant that McQueen is either the first black producer, or at least one of the very few (my quick jaunt through Imdb/Wikipedia is inconclusive) to win a Best Picture nod (Mr. McQueen is from the UK and therefore not African American). Cuaron is likewise the first Latin American to win Best Director. A couple more barriers down.
4. Incidentally, with 12 Years winning, Brad Pitt now has an Oscar; he was a producer on the film. We also now live in a world where Matthew McConaughey is an Oscar winner, which is a state of affairs I do not believe anyone would have thought possible even three years ago. Likewise Jared Leto. What a world. There are worse worlds to live in, to be sure. Possible few that are stranger.
I’m back from a lovely week away. For those wondering, my personal project was: Vacation, specifically on the JoCo cruise. It was a week without Internet or even news; I came back onto land before I found out anything that happened for the last week. This is as it should be.
A couple of things:
1. The ability to comment here has now been restored, and I’ve gone through and released the comments that were posted during the week and which were therefore in moderation.
2. I’ll be going through mail that was sent in the last week. However, if there was something you sent that you really wanted me to see, you should probably resend it. No, not right this very instant, or even tonight (it’s Sunday night), but rather during the week, during regular business hours.
The exception for this: Big Idea queries. I see them in the queue and will get to them. Don’t panic.
With that said: Hi! How was your week?
So here’s a picture of a cat to keep you company until then.
But yes, as promised, I’m taking a little time off from the Internets for a personal project, and also because it’s a good idea every once in a while to walk away from the online world. Now seems like a good time.
Between now and March 3, the only thing I really need to let know about is the paperback version of The Human Division, which comes out on the 25th. And now I’ve just told you! So there’s that.
Please note that while I’m away from the Internets, commenting here is suspended. I’d hate to come back and have to weedwhack through trolls. Between now and then, if you comment, your comments will go into moderation. I will probably release them when I get back, unless there are too many, in which case I might go unnnnngh, and just delete them. Probably best to hold fire for a bit. Commenting will resume on the 3rd.
Until then, be good to each other and enjoy the rest of the Internet. If you must come here while I’m away, here, click this, it’ll take you to a random entry.
See you again soon.