Various Notations and Nonsense 8/29

Popping my head up again to make a few comments.

1. I’ll definitely be posting one more entry prior to Noreascon, for which I leave on Thursday morning. Be on the lookout for it, because it’s participatory.

1a. Old Man’s War is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com, and at 30% off, as you can see. Amazon lists its publication date as January 1, 2005, making it (possibly) officially the very first book of 2005. Rock! However, I am told by certain people in the know that the book should be available in December, so those of you who were planning to give it as holidays gifts can feel reasonably assured you can still lay it out under the Christmas Tree/Menorah/Pagan Solstice Indicator of Your Choice. Should you pre-order now? Well, of course, I would. And I would pre-order, say, 15 of them. But that’s just me.

If you do click through, by the way, please to note the latest edition of the cover, which is just like the previous editions of the cover, except with a little text on the front which assures you that the book is “A stunning novel of war and survival.” Well, and it is. A book cover would never lie to you.

2. For everyone who is wondering if I have any thoughts on the Republican National Convention, the answer is: Honestly, no. I’m voting against Bush (which in this case means I’m voting for Kerry), and since that’s a settled issue for me, I don’t see much point in aggravating myself by thinking about the convention in any way whatsoever. So, aside from posting some links to what other people are saying about the convention on By The Way (because I did it for the Democratic convention), I plan to avoid it pretty much entirely. This means largely ignoring the news through Thursday, which I’m willing to do, and also ignoring the various political blogs I usually read, which I’m also willing — nay, eager — to do as well. Truth to be told, after The Great Bookmark Implosion of ’04, I’d stopped reading about 80% of them anyway, but now I’ll cheerfully ignore the rest for a week or so, and may continue to ignore them for longer than that if I find I enjoy the clear open space in my personal bandwidth.

This comes as no great surprise, because I mentioned earlier this month before that I had been finding certain previously-readable political bloggers largely unreadable because they’d gotten a little too frothy at the mouth, and it’s only gotten worse since that point. I stopped reading Instapundit about ten days ago when it was clear that “Kerry in Cambodia” thing was a sucking heatsink for his intelligence, causing him to worry at that pointless bone of useless political stupidity like a starving dog determined to scrape out every rancid morsel of decayed marrow from it; it was just sad. I’ll get back to him in November, when presumably he’ll recouple some of the more sensible portions of his brain. Likewise Atrios and Kos are off my radar for a while; they’re already in a state of dudgeon so high that it’s fatiguing to read them on a daily basis; one can only imagine what they’ll be like this week. I imagine they’ll soil themselves in righteous indignation once every 90 minutes or so; the makers of adult diapers shall rejoice.

Not to bag on Glenn, Atrios, Kos too much; they’re just my straw men for the state of political bloggery in general at the moment. As I’ve noted before, I can get as wound up as any of them; but thanks to a short attention span I move on fairly quickly. And perhaps because of my short attention span, I get wildly irritated at people who can’t fucking move on. Going into a political blog these days is to be transported into a room of people who get off on smelling their own farts; the musty self-pleasuring scent of people too pleased with the result of their digestions to crack a window and let in some air. Well, mazel tov, kids. Have fun and see you after the election.

Does this desire to sequester myself mean I’m apathetic to what’s going on? No; I’m still planning to vote, and I doubt that I will be entirely devoid of political thoughts between now and November 2nd (and I may even share some of them here. Mmmmm… musty self-pleasuring scent). I’m simply reminding myself that I reserve the right to decide what is relevant and what is not. Given the nature of political conventions today, the likelihood that anything useful or interesting will happen at the RNC approaches zero, particularly as it relates to me; indeed, as conventions go, Noreascon will have significantly more impact on my life than the RNC. Therefore, for the next week, I will focus on the former rather than the latter, and I imagine this will make me both happier and calmer for it.

3. Since I am paring down my blog meandering to a bare minimum, you may ask what I am doing to fill up my time. Well, one, I have a book chapter due in two days (which won’t get done in two days because I didn’t actually get the contracts until Friday, and I have this thing about not doing work before I know I’m going to get paid. It will probably be done before I hit Noreascon, however; that’s only two days late. Given the contracts were two months late, I can live with that). But two, I’m reading other people’s books. Among them:

* Edenborn, by Nick Sagan. Nick’s latest and the sequel to his debut novel Idlewild. I got it over the weekend and I’m about a third of the way through it, and so far, so good — Nick’s having fun with the epistolatory mode of novel-writing, pouring his brain into the writing styles of several different people including at least one character who wouldn’t be out of place on an AOL teen chat room. One doesn’t want to dwell too much on how he knows how a girl like that would write. I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation, one that won’t interest the FBI.

Aside from the quality of the book, which is high and its own reason to purchase the novel (buy it, damn you!), it also features a touching shoutout to me from Nick, in which he describes (in the nicest possible way, of course) how I would taunt him from time to time while we were writing our most recent novels. Showing up in other people’s book’s acknowledgment pages is one of the niftier things about having writers for friends.

* Another fringe benefit of the writing life is that sometimes you get sneak previews of other people’s work; the other book I’m reading is a pre-release version of a novel by someone who I will not name (I’m not sure I have leave to mention that I’m reading it), but who is well-regarded in SF circles at the moment. I got the novel as a trade-in-kind; he wanted to read Old Man’s War and offered the swap. I suspect I got the better end of the deal, since my book is classically-structured science fiction (i.e., a genial rip-off of Heinlein), and his is definitely very forward-thinking stuff. At least I don’t have to worry about him demanding his money back.

No, I’m not running myself down; you all know I think well of Old Man’s War (how could I not?), and I think everyone who reads it will get their book purchasing price out of it and then some, because it’s just that good. I’m not a big fan of false modesty. However, OMW is not especially deep; it was designed as a variation on a well-established theme; it plays the changes on your basic space opera. I think it’s good, but it’s not exactly taxing on the gray matter. The book I’m reading is actually trying to make people think; I got a headache trying to stuff all the ideas in my brain at once, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Books that give you headaches are fun, as long as it’s not a headache from painful prose. However, I don’t usually let books with painful prose get to a point where they’re headache inducing. This headache is a “Note from your neurons: Stop making us fire so damn much” sort of headache, and that’s good.

Between Edenborn and this other novel which shall remain nameless (the author pops by here occasionally; he can out himself if he likes), I’m pretty pleased with my reading list, and I’m also reminded that science fiction as genre seems to be pulling itself out of its own self-recursive ass in the last couple of years and is both positing big ideas and creating writing worth reading (add to these two examples China Mieville’s work, the most recent of which, Iron Council, I wrote about recently on BTW, and the loopily crazed near futures of Cory Doctorow). I find it interesting and ironic that in the middle of this creative thrust into unexplored territories I’ll be coming out with my, as I’ve said, more classically-structured novel. I’ve no worries about finding an audience (I don’t only read one sub-genre of SF, nor does anyone I know); I think it’ll do well. It’s just a reminder that the company I get to keep on the bookshelves these days is pretty damned smart.

4. Final thing: You have no excuse for not buying the new Finn Brothers album. I like it enough that I actually posted a review on Amazon (it was basically what I wrote about the album on BTW — I can recycle myself). Also, and again as I note elsewhere, the video for their first single “Won’t Give In” is surprisingly moving. See it: High bandwidth here; low bandwidth here.

That’s all I have for you right at this second. But remember: At least one more entry between now and Noreascon. You won’t want to miss it. Yes, I’m overselling it. But stupid me, I went on a mini-hiatus, said I won’t be back until the 7th, and now I want your attention. I’m a friggin’ moron.