Things I Want to Pimp Today: A List (Plus an Open Pimp Thread)
Here are the things I want to get pimplicious about at the moment:
1. Schuyler’s Monster, by Robert Rummel-Hudson: Rob and I go waaaaaay back; he and I are part of a small group of people who have been keeping blogs since the Cretaceous Period of the internet (when blogs were known as “online diaries” because the word “blog” hadn’t been invented yet). Right around the time Athena was born, Rob and his wife Julie had their own daughter, Schuyler, and for me it was fun to watch and read how another new dad was dealing with it all. But then our daughter stories diverged, because Schuyler was diagnosed with polymicrogyria, a brain deformation that, among other things, left Schuyler with the inability to talk.
This could have been (and in many ways was) a crushing blow to Rob and to his wife, but the two of them rolled with it, and Rob, who had dealt with so many events in his life by writing about them online, also began writing about his daughter’s “monster,” honestly, emotionally and occasionally painfully and angrily, and with more than a little humor, bleak though it was sometimes. Those of us who had been reading Rob for a while also noticed something else; Rob, who had been something of a typical Gen-X man-child sort of guy, was growing up and becoming the adult and the father he had to be to be a teacher, protector and friend to his unusual child. Wasn’t easy, but it was getting done.
All of this has now been put into a really extraordinary book, Schuyler’s Monster: A Father’s Journey With His Wordless Daughter, which I am immensely proud to recommend to you today. You’ll meet Rob and Julie and Schuyler and go through everything they go through as family, all from Rob’s point of view. Rob doesn’t take the opportunity to clean himself up here — you’ll see his development into a grown-up, and trust me, it’s a bumpy road — and that’s all to the good, because without it the book fails. And most of all you’ll see Schuyler as Rob sees her. At one point in the book, Rob mentions of Schuyler that there’s never been a person he’s feared for more, or has been prouder of. If you’re a parent you get that, and you also get how Rob might mean it even more than you do.
Since I know the people in the book, I can’t say that I’m at all objective about it, but folks, this is a good book. Rob writes well, with humor and anger and there’s enough shaggy charm to it that from time to time you’ll forget this stuff really happened to someone, at which point it will rise up, smack you in the face, and remind you. There were more than a couple of places I teared up. I think being a parent was part of that, and knowing the people was part of it, too. But the rest of it was because of Rob, and what and how he wrote. It’s not perfect, but it’s not about perfect people, so that’s fine. I think it’s exactly right for the tale it’s telling, however, and I think you should check it out.
2. Shadow Unit, by Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull, Sarah Monette and Will Shetterly (Amanda Downum, art director): I’ve known about this for a while, but the “first episode” just went live, so now’s a good time for pimpery. What is it? Well, Emma Bull (who I am assured is the “evil mastermind” behind it) describes it as fan fiction for a TV show that never existed, which is a concept just weird enough to work (it helps that the people writing the fanfic here are Bear, Bull, Monette and Shetterly, who between them have enough writing award nominations and wins to choke a moose). And what kind of not-show are they writing their fan fiction about?
The F.B.I.’s Behavioral Analysis Unit hunts humanity’s nightmares. But there are nightmares humanity doesn’t dream are real.
The Behavioral Analysis Unit sends those cases down the hall. Welcome to Shadow Unit.
This begs the question of why this wasn’t ever a real TV show, because it seems like a good idea (don’t talk to me about X-Files. I have some issues there). But hey, at least we have the “fan site” and fan fiction.
Incidentally, this whole shebang is done as a labor of love by the writers and others involved. They put out a tin cup in the form of PayPal and Amazon donation buttons. If you check it out and like it/love it/have it inhabit your life with unholy passion, consider sending some cash their way. Mind-bending faux-fan-fic should be rewarded.
3. The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet, by Daniel J. Solove: As you know (Bob), we live in a world in which anyone can Google up your name and find everything about you, including all manner of rumor, gossip and plain ol’ idiotic junk you put out on the Web when you were a sophomore in college, stoned to the gills and had no clue a future employer would scan Teh Tubes looking to see if you could be trusted to handle small sums of money. But what does it mean? George Washington University law professor (and law blogger) Daniel Solove is on the case for you.
This book was sent to me pre-pub and I’ve only had time to skim (rumor is, I had a book to write) it, which is unfortunate because what I have read is pretty damn interesting; it’s the sort of book I could use to springboard a whole bunch of posts here off of, which makes it already one of my favorite books (because I’m lazy, you see). But the good news here is that now you can check out the book for yourself, free, because Solove has just put it out in a freely downloadable eBook format. So you don’t need me to tell you if it’s good or not. You can read it for yourself and make your own decisions. Yes, I’m now officially useless. No, I’m fine. Just leave me alone, here in the dark.
If you do find it interesting/useful/life-changing, do please consider buying the book version as well, since I’m sure it will help Solove’s tenure chances if he has a bestseller, which is then made into a movie or TV series, which then will have fanfic written about it by Emma Bull. See, I bring these things around, I do.
4. Matter, by Iain M. Banks: Mmmm… exploding brains. I really dig Bank’s “Culture” books, of which this is the new one, because his universe is so complex and overloaded that I feel smarter just reading his descriptions of the place. There is the minor problem that I think the stories in his novels don’t necessarily resolve perfectly — lots of set-up and then you’re kind of hustled through the ending on a bit of a rail, as happens here and happened in The Algebraist — but by that point I’ve gotten enough of a show, with the pretty lights and big ideas and four-dimensional shell worlds and what have you that it seems almost churlish to note. And I certainly don’t feel cheated. I mean, hey, it’s a big friggin’ universe Banks has got there; who am I to expect everything to end up with a bow? It doesn’t even happen in this universe. Anyway, an excellent ride. Now, for some reason I was under the impression the book had already come out, but Amazon tells me it’s not coming out until next week. Could be it was already released in the UK. No matter (heh); here’s a pimp anyway.
Having now pimped four things, I hereby declare this an open pimp thread, in which you may pimp your own books/writings/blogs/projects/etc, or new and interesting books/writings/blogs/projects/etc that others are doing, that you feel need love and attention. Pimp away!
(Note: remember that three or more links in a single comment will get you sent to the moderation queue. If you get sent there, don’t panic — I’ll let your comment out at some point.)