In Which Two In A Row Is Good

8 January 2004

I could get used to this: Fables is buying "Fair Use." Woohoo! And a good thing, too: there aren't that many SF novelette markets, and I'd tried several with this one. Yes, I could definitely do another day like these last two (I heard about "Fair Use" yesterday and "Seven Minutes in Heaven" Tuesday). If anyone who's listening has the ear of the universe to arrange that, I'd appreciate it.

(Wendy has bending the publishing universe to her own whim as a New Year's resolution. I approve. Go, Wendy, go!)

Oh, and the Fortean staff is going to further aid and abet Stella and me hanging out, this time virtually: we get to be ToCmates. Oh, the aiding. Oh, the abeting.

If I believed in a balanced universe, I'd be wondering how many days worth of acceptances balanced out a nine-rejection single day. It's not a simple calculation: acceptances are more joy than rejections are pain, but on the other hand, nine in one day has kind of a multiplicative effect. It makes it a lot easier, then, that I don't believe in a balanced universe at all. Good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people, silly things happen to serious people...things happen to people, and aside from the usual laws of causality, I don't think there's a big balancing. And that's okay.

So among other things yesterday, I finished the Sawyer and Sawyer book on medieval Scandinavia. It was a bit frustrating, because they had to keep pointing out ways in which other people had gotten it wrong. For example, apparently people went around assuming that all societies were matrilineal or patrilineal, pick one. Bilateral kinship was not an option. Bilateral kinship is what most of us have, where you consider all blood kin to be "real" family, not just one side or the other. And, lo and behold, bilateral kinship appears to be what the medieval Scandinavian groups had, too. They didn't just pop up with it out of the blue. It's amazing what shows up when you actually look at data like runestones and property records.

I don't mean to criticize Sawyer^2: if people are running around in one's field being idiots, sometimes one has to correct them. But it does get frustrating. On their side, too, I'm sure. Still, there was good stuff in that book. Then I read the most recent Analog, and then The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. I'd picked the latter up from a library book sale for cheap, and I'm pretty sure I read it at some point as a kid, but I didn't remember it very well. It was entertaining, quick; I'll probably read more of that series, because enough people have been enthused and I was not underwhelmed enough not to. But it didn't seize me and carry me away.

And now I'm reading Charles de Lint's Angel of Darkness. Uff da. This is one of the ones he wrote as Samuel M. Key, because it's darker than his usual stuff. And heavens, is it. More violent, er, yes. Quite a lot. It's well-done, I think -- I didn't know if de Lint would be able to pull off hard-boiled cop-novel type stuff (it's still a fantasy), and he can. Whether I'll read another of "Sam Key's" books is an open question as yet. I'm about a third of the way through, and he could crank up the violence and darkness a fair amount in the remaining chunk of book. And how he resolves it will be fairly important to me.

I was submitting my deal-with-the-devil story, "Cassie's Deal," to one of the markets that takes reprints, and it got me thinking about deal-with-the-devil stories. I think beating evil, tricking a trickster, has its appeal, but there's at least one other reason we like deal-with-the-devil stories: because the bargain is clearly spelled out. Often we're not sure where the causality goes. Do we know a lot of old people with Alzheimer's as the price for knowing lots of old people at all? As the price for using aluminum cookware? As a random occurrence? I mean, if we knew, or once we know, we could say yes or no. No, a fiddle of gold is not worth my soul; yes, my best friend's life is worth seven years of servitude. Sometimes there's a hard decision in these stories (my eternal soul vs. the life of my whole village, that sort of thing), but it's spelled out up front and quite literally. I think that can be appealing at times, that kind of certainty, even if it comes with drastic options.

And speaking of drastic, I told Mark we were hauling him to the doctor if he didn't feel drastically better by this morning. Well, he is doing quite noticeably better, but he was still up with the coughing in the night. Maybe I should be more specific in my ultimatums.

I just reorganized my book piles so that I had one fiction and one nonfiction. They don't include the books that are coming from my Amazon gift certificate, or the books Mark and Timprov are still reading from their Christmases. Oh, my book piles. I love them so.

Yesterday I got a scoop of pavaroti and a scoop of blueberry at Sebastian Joe's with the C.J. Oh, the bliss. The ice creamy bliss. Not loved as much as my book piles, but...whole blueberries, right there in my ice cream. So lovely. The moral of the story is that when Peg Kerr recommends somewhere to go, we now listen.

Melvin the Laundry Pile has been sneakily growing while I wasn't paying attention. I still have thank-you notes to write. I still -- as some of you have been astute enough to notice -- have pictures to crop and post from Christmas. I have e-mails to answer and Christmas gifts to put away, people to call and stories to write, garments to iron and toilet chains to crimp shut. At any moment, I may be UPS'ed a wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it, just to complete the package. So I've been going through this week's to do list and removing the "no way no how" items. Ironing, for example: not gonna happen. Those tablecloths can stay wrinkly until next week. Luckily, I have several items about which I can feel virtuous without having a lot of fuss or bother. They only make sense as shorthand, because otherwise, "Call Stella Italian" and "Call Yore Chinese" would look like some kind of weird ethnic tag game. "Tag! You're Icelandic!" And then you'd have to run after people shouting out bits of saga until you caught them: "Tag! You're French!" Oh, the fun we could have with national stereotypes.

Right then. I'm just going to go now.

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