Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, April 2017


Find out all the details!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is Saturday, April 29th, starting at 5am for me. My goal is to read as much and as long as I can.

TBR

This TBR is overly ambitious, but it offers so many options!

library trb
From the Library
Other Options

Much of my “pile” overlaps with the Spring into Horror Readathon. I also have a little bit of everything: novels, novellas, short stories, a graphic novel; historical fiction, literary fiction, a classic, horror fiction, nonfiction; physical books and ebooks.

Progress

Challenges

Closing Survey @ Dewey’s 24 Readathon

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I conked out at 2am. So, 1am (hour 21) was pretty rough.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year? I’m beginning to think good middle grade books are the way to go, so Curiosity by Gary Blackwood.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season? Not really. Obviously, the site was having some problems, especially mid-way through when I’m guessing participation was highest. Technical difficulties suck. As a Twitter user, I thought you all did a good job of tweeting links and staying engaged.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? (See above)
  5. How many books did you read? Finished 2, almost a 3rd and a couple of short stories.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Curiosity by Gary Blackwood and Infernal Parade by Clive Barker. (And most of The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.)
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? Curiosity. It even had a plot device that, had I known about it in advance, would have led to me not choosing the book—but the device worked!
  8. Which did you enjoy least? I DNFed Epigenetic in the Age of Twitter, a book on the intersection of science and pop culture. The author was too grumpy about social media.
  9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? See you in October! I’m not sure I’m up for anything other than reader although I did my popping around and commenting this year.

Books and Beverages @ Days of Wine & Romance

  • Pick the book
  • Craft your beverage

Mid-Event Survey! @ Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

  1. What are you reading right now? Well, I was reading Epigenetics in the Age of Twitter (an impulse checkout from the library) but the author is really annoying me. I think it’s time for a short story cleanse with Glen Hirshberg’s The Janus Tree.
  2. How many books have you read so far? I’ve finished two! (One was quite short.)
  3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Hmm… *looks back at list* Oh, hey, The Invisible Man is in my TBR!
  4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Not too many interruptions. I did need a nap earlier, and I did need to get up and move. I went for a 20min run because the weather is gorgeous.
  5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? Readathon seems low-key this time, but really amiable. 🙂

#CoverFromMemory @ Outlandish Lit

What I want you to do is think of a book. Now, with no googling or shelf-searching, you need to draw it. You don’t need to be an artist! Let’s be real, the uglier it is, the funnier it is. Imaginary bonus points if you use MS Paint.

My rendition of Harlan Ellison’s Angry Candy, next to the original:

 Angry Candy

Opening Survey @ Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Tempe, Arizona in the US. The high temp today is only going to be 82F which is a nice reprieve from the 90s.
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Looking forward to Curiosity by Gary Blackwood. It involves the mechanical chess-playing Turk, so that should be fun.
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to? I’m going to try not to snack too much today, but I am looking forward to a piece of apple pie for breakfast.
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself! I really enjoy reading about (and watching!) magic, especially the magicians in the early 20th century. I wish more novels existed about the subject and the era, so I’m perpetually tinkering with fiction involving magicians. Unfortunately, I haven’t written anything that satisfies me yet.
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I’m feeling pretty creaky in the joints today. I have the feeling that I’m going to be pretty liberal with napping. AND I’M NOT GOING TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. <— That would be the part I’m doing differently. Oh! And take better notes while I read.

Review ~ The Island of Dr. Moreau

Cover via Goodreads

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells

A shipwreck in the South Seas, a palm-tree paradise where a mad doctor conducts vile experiments, animals that become human and then “beastly” in ways they never were before — it’s the stuff of high adventure. It’s also a parable about Darwinian theory, a social satire in the vein of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), and a bloody tale of horror.

As H. G. Wells himself wrote about this story, The Island of Dr. Moreau is an exercise in youthful blasphemy. “Now and then, though I rarely admit it, the universe projects itself towards me in a hideous grimace. It grimaced that time, and I did my best to express my vision of the aimless torture in creation.” (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
I’ve been reading my way through H. G. Wells oeuvre. I was going to read The Invisible Man next, but The Island of Dr. Moreau has a more horror reputation and I wanted an extra title for Spring into Horror.

What Didn’t Work
The science is, of course, dated. Changing the gross physiology of an animal cannot make it into a more man-like creature. Likewise, the practice of vivisection was very controversial at the time of the novella’s original publication (1896), but the depictions are perhaps less shocking in our era of PETA disseminated photos of animals in labs. So, what does science fiction with outdated science hold for a modern audience?

What Worked
Wells did believe, on some level, that the novel’s premise might be possible, though probably not in the way the novel depicts. The novel is a spinning what-if that begins in science and tumbles into philosophy. The story is more interested in how beasts might gain humanity (through fear of the law) and how human might lose humanity (through giving in to baser nature). Alas, when the Law is chanted, the refrain is “no escape.”

This Law they were ever repeating, I found, and ever breaking.

In a weird way, The Island of Dr. Moreau reminds me of a twisted version of The Tempest: a castaway ruins the tenuous calm of a genius’s retreat from the world. That work too muses on the nature of humanity.

But, also, The Island of Dr. Moreau has some pretty tense moments. Like many classics, the adaptations really aren’t spoilers for the original. I know I’ve seen the 1996 movie with Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer and probably the 1977 version with Burt Lancaster too*, but I really didn’t know what was going to happen next. I know from the literary frame that Prendick will make it off the island, but like the tagline to another horror classic, what will be left of him? What I enjoy most about Wells is that, yes, he’s presenting a lot of his views of the world in his fiction, but, unlike Swift (see the blurb), he also writes a good story. Preach at me if you want, but entertain me too.

* My running playlist includes House of Pain. Two of the tracks on their first album sample the 1977 movie. “Commercial 2” has been the projected 1.5 mile mark on many of my 3K playlists

Overall
I am three for three with Mr. Wells. Looking forward to The Invisible Man.

Publishing info, my copy: ebook – HTML & Kindle, October 14, 2004 [EBook #159]
Acquired: Project Gutenberg
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction

Writing Update, 4/26

(The #1LineWed today was “curious,” and I have nothing. Wondering is close, right?)

Progress
Not a lot of words since last Wednesday. I did decide to apply a little magic theory to one of the plot problems I was having.

It’s so easy to shove writing aside in favor of other easy things. As I mentioned in my Monday post, I’m adding a time schedule in an effort to not spend the entire day on non-writing tasks. Again, so far, so good, but it’s only been two days.

What is This?
Wicked Witch, Retired is my current writing project. It is the sort-of sequel to a flash story I wrote, “Wicked Witch for Hire,” which is currently available in the anthology Bounded in a Nutshell.

#1lineWed is a Twitter event hosted by @RWAKissofDeath. Every Wednesday writers share a line of their current work-in-progress based on a theme.

It’s Monday, What Are You… (4/24)

…Reading?

The Island of Dr. Moreau Seasons of Reading The Janus Tree and Other Stories

Haven’t gotten much reading done for the Spring into Horror Readathon. Last week was weirdly busy and tiring. I’m planning to finish The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells by Thursday and review it then. I’ll read some of Glen Hirshberg’s The Janus Tree and Other Stories until Saturday’s 24-Hour Readathon. I’ll have a separate TBR for that!

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

…Watching?

Started watching Da Vinci’s Demons a couple weeks ago. This is obviously historical fantasy, accuracy need not apply. I enjoy the way the shows tries to depict Da Vinci’s genius and its effect on those around him—very much akin to Sherlock, but maybe better. Unfortunately, there’s a mystical bent to the plot which I’m not a fan of. We’ll see how the last couple episodes of the first season play out.

…Doing?

Gearing up for a busy week ahead of the readathon on Saturday. I’m going to try to work with a time schedule. Roughly, there are five categories of things I work on each day: writing, reading, blogging, classes, and VOTS stuff. Often, I let one or two of these things take over. Maybe if I set aside specific times for things, especially writing and especially later in the week, I’ll manage to get more done.

Deal Me In, Week 16 ~ “Iron Eyes and the Watered Down World”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Iron Eyes and the Watered Down World” by Saladin Ahmed

Card picked: 9♣
From: Engraved on the Eye, available for $0 at Amazon!

The Story
With a dual-saber-wielding tough-talking rabbit-woman named Hai Hai, I wish this would have been last week’s story. But, alas, I drew the nine of clubs this week instead. Such is the fickle nature of Deal Me In.

This is mostly a straight-up fantasy tale that feels like it could easily be the upshot of a good table-top gaming session. Zok Iron Eyes is our main character. He’s a tough warrior with an enchanted broadsword. His wife was killed a decade ago by a toad-headed demon and he’s vowed vengeance. He carries one of his wife’s earrings as a token of remembrance. Joining him on his adventures are Hai Hai and Mylovic, a cleric with un-clericly penchants for money and poppy derivatives.

The story is set in motion when the earring is stolen from Zok’s money purse by a young man that seems to be a part of the weak, soft generation that surrounds Zok and his compatriots. There is a little twist to this story which isn’t hard to guess at, but the tale is nicely told, all in all.

Continue reading “Deal Me In, Week 16 ~ “Iron Eyes and the Watered Down World””

Standout Stories from the Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mar-Apr 2017

picture

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January-February 2017

I set up a schedule to actually get an issue read in the two months before the next issue comes out. Genius! *cough*

There were two stories that I particularly enjoyed in this issue:

“The Man Who Put the Bomp” by Richard Chwedyk
According to the introduction to this novella, this is Richard Chwedyk’s fifth “saurs” story. I haven’t read the first four, but here’s what I gather to be the situation thus far: Saurs were genetically engineered to be playthings. Imagine if the plastic dinosaurs you played with as a kid moved around and could be your “Teddy Ruxpin”/”Furby”-like companions. But the saurs turn out to be more than just toys. They are alive. They have intelligence and autonomy. After a era of struggle, they have a kind of freedom, living in small enclaves, watched over by a few caretakers, and besieged by bio-tech corporations that wish to learn their secrets.

This story revolves around one such safe house. The cast of saur characters is confusingly large (really the only neagtive criticism I have about the story). Among them is Axel (an inventor theropod with a traumatic past*), Agnes (a stegosaur who wants to protect the community to a xenophobic degree), Tibor (who believes himself to be the ruler of Tiborea), Bronte (who has recently hatched an egg, even though saurs weren’t supposed to be able to procreate), Preston (author of bestselling thrillers), and the mysterious, mad-scientist sauropod, Geraldine. Geraldine may or may not be behind the appearance of the VOOM!, a bright pink kid-sized car.

“No good ever came from anything pink!”

Ambition is at the heart of this story. Scientists Nicholas Danner, who worked on the saur’s original genetic code, and an up-and-comer Christine Haig are sent to investigate the happens at the saur safe house. Danner must come to terms with what he helped create and Christine must decide whether the saurs are what they say they are. And in the meantime, Axel and Tibor endeavor to go on a tour of Tiborea in the VOOM!

There are shenanigans, hijinks, and a lot of humor.

* Have you seen the videos of things people do to Furbies?

“Daisy” by Eleanor Arnason

“I’m doing a job for Art.”
“He’s a nasty man, Emily. Don’t get mixed up wit him.”
“I’m trying to track down his pet octopus. Someone stole it.”
“His what?”
“His octopus.”

Art Pancakes is a mobster. Emily Olson is a private eye. And Daisy is a missing octopus.

Octopuses are weird critters. They seem to be more intelligent than most animals and they are quite alien, alien in the sense of otherness. This story is very lightly science fiction and probably just fantasy. I’ll be honest, I saw a few of the plot points from far out, but that didn’t make this story any less good.

Writing Update, 4/19

Progress
Eric and I have been talking about motivation and what intrinsic roadblocks I seem to have. Word count goals don’t seem to work for me, really, so I’m trying out a system of setting an amount of time I want to work and what scene/plot things I want to work on. So far, so good, but it’s only been two days…

I’ve added a smidge over 2000 words to Wicked Witch, Retired since last Wednesday. I finished one scene, added a second that I hadn’t anticipated.

What is This?
Wicked Witch, Retired is my current writing project. It is the sort-of sequel to a flash story I wrote, “Wicked Witch for Hire,” which is currently available in the anthology Bounded in a Nutshell.

#1lineWed is a Twitter event hosted by @RWAKissofDeath. Every Wednesday writers share a line of their current work-in-progress based on a theme.