Monthly Archives: August 2008

First Day of School, 2008

It’s the first day of fourth grade, which means Athena is officially in Judy Blume territory. Athena says “I’m very excited about the first day of school, although by the third day, I’ll be dreading it,” which I think fairly well encapsulates the American educational experience. But we’ll do what we can on this end to keep her interested.

I still think it’s wrong, incidentally, to start school before Labor Day. But they never ask me about that.

Here in Ann Arbor

And getting ready for my thing today with Toby and Paul. Aaaaaaaaaand that’s all you’re getting today from me because I’m, like, getting ready for my thing with Toby and Paul. And then I have to drive home. So, you know. Busy with the real world.

In the meantime: What’s your favorite type of primate that is not a human (specifically homo sapiens sapiens, i.e., us)? Feel free to list currently extinct species of primates. Show your work.

Summer Hair = Forever Young

Monday starts the school year here, so this is the last Saturday of the summer, and here’s a video from The Academy Is… that looks like the last house party on the last Saturday of summer – i.e., trying to jam in as much “fun” as humanly possible to make up for the fact the next nine months will be spent in class:

Also, I suspect strongly that this video looks markedly different at 39 than it does at, say, seventeen. As well it should. That Matthew McConaughey character in Dazed and Confused was fun to watch, but you wouldn’t want to be him.

Various & Sundry, 8/23/08

Look! A bunch of little stuff!

* First, everyone who keeps pestering me about the “Hate Mail” winners will be happy to know I’ll be announcing the winners either Monday or Tuesday. We’ve had the winner’s names for several days, but I’ve been strangely busy. But soon the wait will be over. And it will be worth it.

* Second, people are wondering if they can find Zoe’s Tale in the YA section of their bookstore or in the science fiction section. The answer is that it’s in the science fiction section; while it’s written as YA friendly, it’s being marketed as adult science fiction, because (among other things) that’s where my audience has been so far. So look for me where you usually do, and, hey, if you’re not busy, steer a YA reader you know into the SF section. Even if they don’t pick up my book, they’re likely to find something else interesting to them.

* Third, Joe Biden. Seems a reasonable choice, although given that the GOP already has ads out attacking the man, I’m sure they’ll find ways to spin it as the worst thing ever. I’m planning to vote for Obama anyway, and this neither adds nor detracts from the decision; it would take a lot for me not to vote for Obama (and even more for the GOP into the presidency at the moment), frankly.

* Fourth, online I see some folks griping about the variable pricing for the electronic versions of my books and particularly Zoe’s Tale, the eBook price of which ranges from $9.99 to $24.95, depending on where you buy it. My response: Eh. Considering that at the moment the cost of the printed book ranges from $12 to $42, according to Google Product Search, it seems that variable pricing of goods is the general order of the day, and folks should just deal (also: don’t pay $42 for the book. That’s just silly). I understand that it’s annoying for one eReader to have cheaper books than another, but it’s annoying that my iPod doesn’t work with my Rhapsody account, too, and yet I manage to make it through the day. Life is full of random technological annoyances. This is, incidentally, an argument for buying the actual printed copy and then scanning it in at your leisure for your own private use.

* Fifth, I resent being 39 and having a zit. That’s just nonsense.

Topics Not Generally Relating to Me, Part Two

I asked for topics, you gave them to me, and they’re not about me! Go, not me.

Alan Kellogg: What is it about skiffy flicks and crappy scripts?

I should probably save this for an AMC column, because then I would get paid to answer it, but I’ll give a short answer here: when the movies are cheap SF, as they often are, they can’t afford a good script, and if they had a good script they couldn’t afford to do it right. When the movies are expensive, the script often bows to studio imperatives, production values and star egos. When the movie is a Star Wars flick, it’s because George Lucas can’t script his way out of a paper bag, but there’s no one around to stop him. It should be noted that excepting the Star Wars angle, these problems are problems for movie making in general. This is why people are happy when any movie gets made with a good script.

Anny Mouse: How about a post on your favorite element (like on the periodic table)???

Well, my favorite is oxygen, actually, since I would be dead in ten minutes without it. I’m also a big fan of hydrogen and carbon, since along with oxygen I’m mostly made of that stuff. But what tips it to oxygen is that it’s kind of a psychotic element: essential for life, yet the element is corrosive and causes all sorts of destruction through rust and combustion and what have you. It’s like the lover you can’t do without, but who you always worry is going to stab you while you sleep. I like that in an element (not so much in actual, real-life lovers, however).

Jeff C.: What are your thoughts on the direction the Wheel of Time series has taken since Robert Jordan has died? I would appreciate any comments you have on Brandon Sanderson in relation to his authorship of the 12th book; or of Universal’s acquisition of the rights to make movies of the series, or of the Dabel Brothers announced graphic novel renditions of the series.

I’m personally not a huge fan of the series and never have been; that said, I think Brandon Sanderson is an excellent choice to finish the series, because he is a fan (and thus wants to see it finish well) and he has the writing chops to make all the other fans happy. I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather see finish the series, personally. As toward Universal and Dabel: Well, we’ll see, won’t we. I have nothing bad to say about either idea, but as with so many things, execution matters.

Dave Garrett: I am curious about the new Watchmen movie coming in I believe February 2009. Do you see it becoming a smash hit or just so-so?

Unless it is a genuine debacle, and it doesn’t seem to be heading in that direction, it’ll do $100 million domestic without a problem. The real question is whether it makes it to $200 million or beyond, and that depends on several factors, including length, critical reception, movie rating, fan reception (and repeat business), weather and whether audiences in general have superhero fatigue by the point or not. Remember that masses of fanboys aside, the Watchmen (the characters) are not actually well-known, and Watchmen (the movie) has to trade on the interest in and affection for the superhero genre in general.

Swampmaster: Isaac Asimov. He is one of my all-time favorite SF authors (I think his books introduced me to the genre). You often mention Heinlein (which I barely knew before I started reading you, but will be looking forward to reading now) and sometimes Bradbury, but I don’t think I ever saw you comment Asimov’s work. I’m curious to have your take on it.

Generally I like Asimov’s work quite a bit and fully acknowledge its (and his) importance to the genre, but speaking from a writerly point of view I don’t find his fiction writing skills hugely impressive. He is probably one of the best examples of a “classic” sort of SF storytelling that is heavy on very cool ideas but weak on things like character development — his writing is a vehicle to tell the story rather than adding to the story itself. There’s nothing wrong with it (I lean more toward that direction of things myself, after all), but on balance I wish there was more there there when it came to the writing itself. Asimov’s non-fiction, on the other hand, I think is great. Clear, easy-to-read, and full of information. I know a lot of SF fans were sad there’s a hole in Asimov’s fiction writing career where he largely decided to write nonfic full-time, but personally speaking I’m not complaining.

EricH: Oh great and masterful alpha fan – I attended a panel at the last Balticon that bemoaned the death of the Fanzine. The panelist to audience ratio was aprox. 1:1. Is the fanzine dead?

No, although I think as time goes on they’ll go online more than they already are and to some respects will become indistinguishable from blogs in terms of formatting. Fanzines were a good and simple way for fans to talk to each other about the genre they loved; these days there are simpler ways that reach larger audiences, and that poses challenges for the format. But the fundamental impulse that created fanzines in the first place — a love of SF and the desire to communicate about it — isn’t going away. The format may change, but fanzines one way or another will stick.

Range: Your perspective on microwaveable bacon.

That’s just sick.

Fiona: Obama and McCain veep choices—how much does a veep choice matter today compared with 50 yrs ago and who would be your choice of veep if you were running for president?

Since I don’t really think about being president I don’t really have my VP pick top of mind, so I can’t help you there. As for how important the VP is, I think it’s become more important since Clinton and Bush divested quite a lot of responsibility to their VPs, which is historically unusual, and in the case of Cheney somewhat problematic, but which has become a template since. So I expect whomever McCain or Obama pick will want to have a significant portfolio of their own. As to whom the two men will pick, I don’t know, although at this point I wouldn’t in fact be entirely surprised if they went to their primary rivals, specifically Clinton and Romney. We’ll know soon enough.

Thanks, everyone!

Reminder: Ann Arbor Appearance Sunday (and Dayton Tuesday) (Oh, and Lexington Friday)

If you live in Ann Arbor, and your Sunday is looking to be a vast expanse of nothingness punctuated bathroom breaks, I would like to take this moment to remind you that at 2pm Sunday at Ann Arbor’s Downtown Library branch, Toby Buckell, Paul Melko and I will be on hand to talk about the current state of science fiction and to sign books which will also be available to purchase, through the good graces of Nicola’s Books.

You folks are in for a treat, since I’ve done panels and presentations with Toby and Paul (who did a mighty thing by allowing himself to be roped in when Karl Schroeder had to step away), and it’s always a heck of a lot of fun. It’s hard to imagine you won’t be entertained. This is my only public appearance in Michigan for the rest of 2008; after this comes college football season and then anyone from Ohio is looked upon with suspicion until after the bowls. I suspect that Toby and Paul will be likewise embargoed for their Ohio citizenship. So get us while you can.

Folks in the Dayton area (and surrounding environs), remember that Toby and I will be making a stop at Books & Co at the Greene (that’s the big new one, in the big new shopping mall) on Tuesday, August 26 at 7pm. We’ll be reading and signing and schmoozing. And then Paul Melko joins us again and the three of us descend on Lexington, Kentucky on Friday, August 29 at 7pm at the Joseph-Beth there, for more science fictional hijinx and zaniness. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you again about these two, probably on Monday.

Hope to see you at one or the other of these, that is, if you’re actually sort of near these appearances. I don’t expect you to fly in from, say, Phoenix or Anchorage. But if you did, well, I guess that would be fine, too.

Topics Not Generally Relating to Me, Part One

Having gotten bored with myself, I asked you all to list some topics you’re interesting in me opining about that aren’t me me me me me. Here are some of them, and we’ll do another one of these tomorrow.

JReynolds: What do you think about the current polls that indicate that John McCain is now tied (or ahead) of Obama in the presidential race? Do you think it’s due to the negative advertising of the McCain campaign?

What? In the doldrums of the August of a presidential year, right before the conventions, the race has somehow tightened? Inconceivable!

I think the race has tightened because that’s what often happens around this time, if I’m not wildly mistaken. Do McCain’s ads have anything to do with it? Oh, probably. So does the fact that Obama went on vacation. So does the fact that conservatives have unleashed their poo-flinging monkeys (see: Jerome Corsi), and so does the fact that some liberals have come around to the realization that Obama, does not, in fact, fart cinnamon-scented rainbows. It’s a whole lot of things, really.

Matt W: If there was to be no more Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, etc. in the world ever again, would you switch to Pepsi, RC, Faygo? Or would you go thirsty?

Well, you know. Hard as it might be to believe, I don’t only drink Coke Zero. I do drink other stuff, including plain old water. I think I might survive. In fact, I have been giving some thought to cutting soda out of my diet entirely; I did it before, when I stopped drinking regular Coke, and save for the one day where I had a splitting caffeine withdrawal headache, it was doable. At the very least it would cut down on the recyclables.

Rick: The new edition of Dungeons and Dragons, or some other role-playing game if you don’t like D&D.

I haven’t really played D&D since back in the day, but I know a few people who do and from them the reviews of the 4.0 version of the rules seems to be pretty positive: I am led to understand everything’s more balanced and so on. Naturally I invite contrary opinion on the matter if I have been misinformed.

James J.: Maybe your opinions on what’s going on over in Beijing? IE: China having a huge gold lead over the US, etc…

You mean, aside from China showing yet again that it’s a world leader in illegal child labor? Not really. It’s not surprising that a host country would invest heavily in building up Olympic-caliber athletes, and the Chinese are strong in the marginal sports the US doesn’t give a crap about, such as Table Tennis and Badminton. So it’s not surprising to me they’re racking up some gold. I have only a mild interest in the Olympics this year; as egocentric as this sounds, my August has been busy enough without stationing myself in front of the TV to find out how we’re doing in, say, the equestrian events. Although apparently we did win a gold, silver and a bronze there. Go us.

Ashman: What good blogs have you recently read?

Seriously? None. Not that they don’t exist — I have an RSS blog feed that has a couple hundred blogs, all of which are interesting enough that I put them in the RSS feed — but more that I don’t have time this month to read them. And then the entries just sit there piling up and I feel guilty when I finally just delete them all, unread. But I really don’t have the time at the moment. Also, to be honest, I’m tired of reading many of the folks on my blog roll losing their minds because McCain has suddenly closed the gap on Obama. There’s only so many people you can watch lose their shit before it makes you edgy, you know? Better just to skip over it all for a while.

Christian: How did you lose your virginity?

Pretty much the usual way, with no particularly weird elements to make it an anecdote really worth the detailed retelling.

EvilDan: Skyline chilli: Worth the intestinal distress?

I’ve not found it so. And in fact I’ve wondered for a long time why Cincinnati has somehow developed a reputation for excellent chili, because in my opinion Cincinnati-style chili kind of sucks. I mean, really: spaghetti? WTF? I much prefer western-style chili. I understand there may be Cincinnati-style partisans out there, and to them I say: You are welcome to your chili-flavored soup.

Giacomo: Drinking age: 18 or 21?

Not being a drinker, nor ever having been one, I have no real investment in this particular question, save for the observation that I’ve never met an 18-year-old who couldn’t get a drink into their hands with minimal effort, so perhaps the law should reflect that reality. I read somewhere earlier today that someone suggested that what should happen is that the drinking age is lowered to 18 but the driving age is raised to 21, which solves the problem of drunk 18-year-olds on the roads. I don’t know that I agree with this idea, but I do think it presents an interesting argument.

More tomorrow.

The Fate of Short Fiction Online

Over at the Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine blog, F&SF editor/publisher Gordon Van Gelder comments and wants your feedback on short fiction published online. If you’ve got a moment, check it out and give him your thoughts.

Further Tales of Home Improvementary

In which we view the seldom-seen formal dining room, wrapped in plastic, awaiting the refinishing of the ceiling. Below the dining room, unseen in this photo, the basement is being emptied of much stuff, most of which is now on its way to the Salvation Army and/or Goodwill, which will no doubt be surprised by the appoximately a metric ton of old clothes, shoes and stuffed creatures that will be dropped upon them. I stayed home because someone has to keep Kodi from chewing on the ceiling spackler. They hate that.

Officially Bored With Myself

Man, blah blah blah blah ego ego blah. If I’m bored with myself by this point, I can only imagine how the rest of you feel.

I’m taking topic requests for today and tomorrow. Suggest something for me to write about, not involving me or my career. I’ll put them up in a couple of “Quick Hits” posts like I do at the end of my Reader Request weeks (see: here and here). Come on, help a guy out of an ego rut, will ya? Thanks.

ArmadilloCon Wrapup


(Picture of me at ArmadilloCon taken from here, because even though I brought a camera I never bothered to take it out, because apparently I’m an idijit. Thank you Merbrat!)

It’s taken me the better part of a week to get to my writeup of ArmadilloCon, but you shouldn’t take that as a negative commentary on the quality of the convention; I have, after all, had something of a busy week. And in fact, ArmadilloCon was a whole lot of fun, and I’m really glad I went, and I would definitely recommend it to any of you who are looking for a relaxed convention to meet some of your favorite writers. It was my first time in Texas, and based on how much I enjoyed myself, it won’t be the last.

I’m writing this early morning and I’m having a hard time crafting thoughts over consecutive sentences at the moment, so let me instead simply bullet-point some of my ArmadilloCon observations:

* FIrst, this is a convention that takes seriously its obligation to feed its guests; Austin is a food town and I’m pretty sure I gained five pounds while I was there. The night I arrived I was taken to Threadgill’s, at which I had chicken-fried steak and peach cobbler, and on the last night I was taken to The County Line, at which I was loaded with approximately 14 pounds of meat, across at least three different species. It would not have been a good place to be a vegetarian.

Now, I’m aware that some Austinites will be happy to show up in the comments and declare that the convention should have taken me to whatever their favorite Texas BBQ place is, or whatever, but two things: One, they were paying for my meals, so I went where I was taken, and two, trust me, these places were good enough. I didn’t have to consist on con suite cold platters. That’s an excellent thing.

* Proof that ArmadilloCon did its homework about me: When I checked into the hotel, the front desk presented me with a 12-pack of Coke Zero. Well done, folks.

* One thing I noticed once the programming started was how well-attended panels and presentations were: There wasn’t a panel I was on that didn’t have lots of butss in seats. Now, maybe this was a side effect of being the guest of honor, and people showing up where I was, but I don’t think so; I’ve done panels as a guest of honor other places that weren’t as well attended, and other people at ArmadilloCon did panels I wasn’t even on that were well attended. So I don’t suppose it was just about me.

Naturally, I liked this very much; it’s great to see folks have such an interest in panels, and I think one can both credit the quality of the programming choices and the quality of the panelists in a general sense.It was a good mix.

* One of the ArmadilloCon write-ups I read noted that this was one of those conventions where there were almost as many writers as fans, and while I’m not entirely sure about that, there certainly were a lot of writers and artists there, probably because Austin and its immediate environs (which in Texas means anyplace within a three-hour drive) is stacked with creative types, and you know us creative types. Anything to procrastinate. So, yes, a whole lot of writers and artists, and I had tons of fun meeting them. Sadly, ArmadilloCon icon Howard Waldrop wasn’t there in the flesh this year — something about a quintuple bypass surgery crimping his style — but on the final day, he managed a cameo via phone. That was pretty awesome.

* Some of my programming highlights:

– On Friday I popped into the ArmadilloCon writing workshops and give a quick five minute speech to the workshoppers about why it was okay to suck — and indeed it was necessary. I’m pretty sure this went over better than you might expect.

– A panel on Space Opera, which moderator John Picacio detoured into the aesthetics of Steampunk, which I thought was interesting (steampunk star wars for the win!) and actually, it turns out, related to the subject at hand.

– A worldbuilding panel with me, Steven Brust, Martha Wells and Warren Spector, about whom it took me a number of minutes to realize that he was the Warren Spector. In addition to being a kick-ass game designer he’s also a good panel moderator, since the panel didn’t devolve into the usual “here’s how to build a world” thing.

– The “fannish feud” panel, in which fans and pros played against each other in a variation of the old Family Feud game show. Despite my recent ascension into the role of Alpha Fan Writer, I played on the pro side, and we won (which is apparently unusual), but just barely.

– Sitting on a military science fiction panel with Joe Haldeman and Elizabeth Moon, which seemed oddly familiar, since I had done the same thing a week before. We had fun (again).

And I especially had fun with my Guest of Honor Q&A and my reading, mostly because I think the audiences in both cases were up for it and willing to tolerate my quirks, such as the fact that I pace all over the place while I talk and gesticulate like a monkey as I do so.

* If I try to mention every single cool person I met in Austin for the first time I’m going to fail, badly, because at the moment and no matter how hard I try I’m blanking on names. I blame artificial sweetener. Be assured that I met a number of very cool people and had a great time. That said, I do want to give a shoutout to my fellow Guests of Honor David Lee Anderson, Shelia Williams, Joe & Gay Haldeman, Bill Crider and Kelly Persons, all of whom were a great deal of fun to spend time with and talk to.

In sum, ArmadilloCon was excellent, and you should make it a point to go to one sometime soon. I plan on going back.

Daughters of Ripley

Over at AMC this week, I’m writing about the epochal science fiction character that is Ellen Ripley, and what she meant for strong, competent women (who don’t have to sex you up to get the job done) in science fiction film. Yes, female characters in science fiction have been on my mind recently, why do you ask?

As always, I encourage your thoughts and comments on the subject over on the AMC site, where each of your comments is viewed with the reverence it deserves.

Zoe’s Tale on Kindle

For all you Kindlers out there: Zoe’s Tale is available on your favorite e-reader.

And now, before you query me about other books, formats, etc: My electronic books primer. Please read.

Update: It’s available on the Sony Reader, too.

Update: Also Mobipocket.

It Has Been Revealed

You will no doubt recall, all of you, that I have been making cryptic pronouncements about a thing that I have done, which was evil yet awesome, which was to have been visited upon one of you.

Now it has been revealed — and it is this:

Yes, yes. A black velvet Wesley Crusher, delivered to none other than Wil Wheaton himself.

Wil tells the tale here. Trust me, you want to read it.

How do I feel?

Evil.

And awesome.

BWA HA HA HA HA HAH HA!

Man, that’s cathartic.

(Many thanks to Bill Robison, of VelvetPaintings.com, for helping to pull this off. Folks, when you think of velvet paintings, for you or your loved ones, think Velvetpaintings.com. That is all.)

Update, 9am 8/22/08: The thread about this entry on Fark (hi, Farksters!) has some pretty amusing Photoshoppery of the above picture.

It Could Be Made Into a Monster if We All Pull Together As a Team

A little birdie tells me that The Last Colony made the New York Times Bestseller list for mass market paperbacks. It’s on the extended list (i.e., “the part of the list we don’t actually publish in the book section”) but apparently it still counts. So: Hey, I’m a New York Times bestselling author now. Go me.

For everyone who bought the paperback of TLC in the last couple of weeks: Thank you. You’ve made my day. And you’ve sent my marketing and publicity people over the friggin’ moon. For which I also thank you. They’re excellent at what they do. They deserve good days too.

My Dragon*Con and Decatur Book Festival Appearances

As many of you know, I and Tobias Buckell will be parachuting into the Atlanta area on Labor Day weekend to show our faces at the Decatur Book Festival and at Dragon*Con. I now have some idea of my appearances at both, so here they are:

SATURDAY, 8/30: Decatur Book Festival

11:15am -12:00pm: Young Ones to Watch (Kevin J. Anderson, Tobias Buckell, Cherie Priest, John Scalzi), Old Courthouse Stage.

The panel description reads: “Sci-fi master Kevin Anderson will lead this event showcasing three up-and-comers from the next generation of speculative fiction.” Personally, I think it’s nice that at age 39 I still somehow qualify as “young.” I’ve been told that after the panel it’s likely there will be some sort of signing thing going on, so if there is, that’s what I’ll be doing. Regardless, any panel with me and Cherie and Toby is bound to be a hell of a lot of fun.

SUNDAY, 8/31: Dragon*Con

11:30am – 12:30pm: Reading (Roswell Room, the Hyatt)

I’m going to read the first chapter of The High Castle, which is the upcoming novel set in the universe of The Android’s Dream. It went over pretty well at ArmadilloCon. If there’s any time left, and there should be, I’ll answer questions and the like. I’m up against 42 other events going on at the same time, including appearances by Adam West, George Takei and Sean Astin, so let’s just say I’m pretty sure I’m the undercard event in this slot.

So please come see me read, won’t you? Apparently, the room won’t be crowded. You can stretch out and get all the sleep you missed the night before trying to sleep on a hotel room floor with six other people! Which I am led to understand is a Dragon*Con tradition. Which I won’t be partaking in: I have my own room, thank you very much.

No, you may not sleep on my floor. Stop asking. Sheesh.

2:30pm – 3:30pm: Signing (M301 – M304, the Marriott)

You bring it, I’ll sign it. But for form’s sake, it’s better if I wrote it. Books will be available in the Dealer’s Rooms, from what they tell me.

Unfortunately I have to airlift out of Atlanta early Sunday evening, so if you want to say hello, dropping by either one of these will probably be the best way to do it.

So: Will I see you in Atlanta?

Zoë Arrives

Due to hilarious circumstances too wacky and zany to go into here, my author copies of Zoe’s Tale and the paperback of The Last Colony were delayed in getting to me, so the first time I actually laid eyes on finished copies of both were while I was out at Denvention and ArmadilloCon. But upon discovering the delay, the excellent folks at Tor overnighted me some copies of each, and so now they’re home. Here’s Athena, with her copy of Zoe. Book’s dedicated to her, you know.

The Door Into Summer

What a lovely squared-off hole in my house. There used to be a door there; there will yet be another door there, hopefully before the end of the day. For the moment, however: square hole. Hopefully the raccoons will stay out until the door goes up.

I’m mostly posting this so Krissy can see what’s being done to her house in her absence. The rest of you are just along for the ride.

Bang Bang Bang Bang Saw Thump Bang

In my house at the moment are men who, in no particular order:

* Are tearing down one of the doors of my house

* Are sawing through the ceiling

* Are loitering in the master bathroom

Is it a zombie attack? Have I enraged the neighbors with my incessant playing of the new Journey album? Are the political pollsters particularly aggressive this year? None of the above. My wife arranged to have some need home improvements done, and they all decided to arrive on the same day. Now there’s a whole bunch of guys sawing and hammering and tiling and whatnot. This will be going on for most of the day. I’ve already decided that I’m not writing anything today that requires a whole lot of uninterrupted thought.

Meanwhile, Athena is staging a rescue mission:

Her mom is threatening to empty out the basement (a not entirely idle threat, as we had a dumpster delivered today) and Athena was warned that anything she wanted to keep out of the basement she had better bring up. Thus, the sudden population of stuffed animals in the kitchen. These refugees will no doubt be relocated, but considering that the reason that they were exiled to the basement in the first place was that there was no more room for them in Athena’s bedroom, exactly where that relocation will be is up in the air. I suspect Goodwill, eventually, although Athena may need convincing on that score. In the meantime, our kitchen center island overfloweth.