Book Recs, Signings, and Stuff

Jul. 17th, 2017 07:54 am
marthawells: (Reading)
[personal profile] marthawells
Signings and Stuff


* Here are some photos of me and Rachel Caine at our signing at Murder by the Book: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/163060728297/my-friend-tooks-some-photos-of-me-and-rachel-caine We had a good crowd, even though it was pouring rain and there were tornado warnings.

* Here's a post from me on Writers Read: https://whatarewritersreading.blogspot.com/2017/07/martha-wells.html about what I'm reading now (actually what I was reading when I wrote the post)

* And I'm not in this article but I know all these people: https://www.austinchronicle.com/arts/2017-07-14/writing-science-fiction-fantasy-and-horror-in-austin/



***

Books


(If you've been following my book rec and new book listing posts for a while, you may have noticed this already, but while most book lists emphasize books by popular straight white men, this one emphasizes everybody else. I include books by straight white men, but in about the same percentage that other book lists include everybody else. I also try to highlight books that are less well known.)

(I only link to one retail outlet in the book's listing, but most books are available at multiple outlets, like Kobo, iBooks, international Amazons, Barnes & Noble, etc. The short stories are usually on free online magazines.)


* Short Story: Children of Thorns, Children of Water by Aliette de Bodard


* Stranglehold by Rene Sears
Morgan Tenpenny has retreated from her painful, magical past, choosing to live quietly as a guardian of one of the gates between worlds. But her sister Gwen is married to a lord of the High Court of Faerie-and when Gwen asks her to protect her nieces, it's time for Morgan to emerge from her seclusion. The gates to Faerie have inexplicably closed, and no one knows why...


* Revision by Andrea Phillips
Mira is a trust fund baby playing at making it on her own as a Brooklyn barista. When Benji, her tech startup boyfriend, dumps her out of the blue, she decides a little revenge vandalism is in order. Mira updates his entry on Verity, Benji’s Wikipedia-style news aggregator, to say the two have become engaged. Hours later, he shows up at her place with an engagement ring. Chalk it up to coincidence, right? Soon after, Benji’s long-vanished co-founder Chandra shows up asking for Mira’s help. She claims Verity can nudge unlikely events into really happening — even change someone’s mind. And Chandra insists that Verity — and Mira’s newly minted fiance — can’t be trusted.


* Short Story: Waiting on a Bright Moon by JY Yang


* Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy (Laksa Anthology Series: Speculative Fiction Book 3) edited by Lucas K. Law and Derwin Mak


* All Things Violent by Nikki Dolson
Soon the ambitious Simon introduces her to Frank Joyce, a man who would teach her how to become a stone-cold professional killer. Laura learns her deadly trade and earns her money. Twenty-six years old and she thinks she’s found her happily ever after. Sadly it all falls apart when Simon leaves her for another. Now some other woman, blonde and polished, all shiny and new, is living Laura’s happy life.


* Telling the Map by Christopher Rowe
There are ten stories here including one readers have waited ten long years for: in new novel-la The Border State Rowe revisits the world of his much-lauded story The Voluntary State.

Swag!

Jul. 12th, 2017 09:28 am
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
[personal profile] marthawells
Raksura stickers and buttons


This is the first time I’ve been able to afford actual swag for a signing. These are stickers with art by Pentapoda, and I also have buttons. I’ll have them at the Murder by the Book (in Houston) signing with Rachel Caine on 7/15/2017 at 4:30 (if you can’t come, you can order our signed and personalized books to ship to you at http://www.murderbooks.com/event/wells-caine ) and at ArmadilloCon http://armadillocon.org/d39/#/ and World Fantasy 2017 http://wfc2017.org/wfc2017/

History Lesson

Jul. 11th, 2017 03:26 pm
eyelessgame: (Default)
[personal profile] eyelessgame
This is a long history lesson. I will do my best to make it at least mildly entertaining.

For a hundred years after the Civil War, racists voted with the Democratic Party, because Lincoln - a Republican - freed the slaves. For that entire century, 1865-1964, the states of the Confederacy went for the Democrat in virtually every presidential election. (The South is not of course the only place there were and are racists; they've just always been more concentrated there, and racism is the motivation for the vote of more people there.)

Now, for that same period the majority in most of the rest of the country was Republican - in large part for the same reason, that Lincoln freed the slaves - at least until the Great Depression. (The 65 years from the Civil War to the Great Depression saw only two Democratic presidents, so the Depression, and the initial tepid reaction to it, was largely blamed on Harding-Coolidge-Hoover Republicanism.) From 1932 on, the Democrats started enjoying a lot of electoral success, buoyed by solid support in the South, where they'd even vote for a liberal so long as he was of the party that also winked and nodded at their racism.

In 1964 that changed. Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. This was seen by Southern racists - correctly - as an overwhelming rejection and betrayal of a demographic that - however odious - was a core demographic of the Democratic Party. Throwing them out was the gutsiest and - speaking in terms of political, electoral success - one of the most foolish political actions ever taken by a political party. RFK's comment was "we've lost the South for a generation." He was optimistic.

But the realignment wasn't just from Johnson throwing them out. It was also from Nixon, and his strategist Atwater, welcoming them in. The Republicans correctly calculated that there were at the time more racist voters than black voters in the South, and the Democrats had put the racists up for grabs. Atwater calculated ways to appeal to racists without turning off nonracist conservatives - "dogwhistle" framing of anti-minority messages that only racists would understand as such. (The messaging changes over time. Nixon started with "law and order" - to conservatives, that's simply a good priority for government; to a racist, who thinks of crime as something mostly black people do, it's a way for government to attack and punish black people. Later on it was "busing," and "welfare queens," and "affirmative action hires," and Obama's birth certificate. Reagan was a master of the dog whistle: Reagan's first speech announcing his candidacy in 1979 was in Neshoba County, and he consistently focused on "states' rights" - another of Atwater's potent dogwhistles, that nonracist conservatives and libertarians would see as an issue of simple freedom, but which racists understood very well as a shout-out to the Confederacy and Jim Crow, and against all the federal antiracism programs of the 1960s.)

For the 52 years since that realignment, the South has voted for Republicans in every presidential election, except when the Democrats actually ran a Southerner (Carter, Clinton) - and even then they were only able to split the South. Racists have never trusted Democrats since. And Republicans, from Nixon to Reagan to Dubya to Trump, have enjoyed the benefits of the Southern racist vote.

But this also isn't the end of the story. In the 1970s, smart people of both parties started looking hard at Mexico and Central America, figured out that the US was going to start getting a big influx of Hispanic immigrants over the next couple generations, and started planning how to attract this demographic. Republicans came up with a set of plans to appeal to Hispanics, relying on their generally Catholic culture, using another set of "pro-family" messages, including attacks on gays and - importantly - abortion.

This dovetailed with another Republican program. There was a movement in the party at the same time to court Evangelical Protestant conservatives into political activism, specifically involving Jerry Falwell. This movement grew out of a Southern priority opposing affirmative action (Falwell's Liberty University was in danger of losing tax-exempt status under Carter, because it was violating nondiscrimination laws since the university did not allow students of different races to date). But it quickly found its most potent cause, one which the strategists eyeing Hispanics pushed for and embraced: opposing abortion, which had been until then an almost entirely Catholic issue.

(The conversion of Evangelicals to the cause of considering abortion a moral evil and working to see it outlawed is a fascinating story, and one that others cover in detail. It's stunning how quickly and completely the position spread through the conservative Protestant community between 1975 and 1985. But it's a tangent off of what I'm talking about here.)

By the Reagan era, the Republican Party was comprised of corporate money, racists (Reagan and Nashoba County), Evangelical Christians, militarists (Reagan's aggressive militarism helped push military families and military veterans into the Republican Party), libertarians, and gun owners.

At the time of Reagan, this added up to a majority - in 1984 an overwhelming one. But there were rumblings of a problem, and that problem - while it has many forms - was most of all a Hispanic one.

During the decade following Reagan, Hispanic Americans overall came to the conclusion that Republicans, despite pro-family and anti-abortion positions, were very much not on their side. Part of this was economic - Hispanics, like any community comprised largely of recent immigrants, are less well-off overall than the median American, and Republican/conservative policies tend to be bad (or at least perceived to be bad) for working-class and poor people - but also the Nixon/Atwater dogwhistles started producing dramatic blowback.

Two kinds of people hear racist dogwhistles - racists and minorities. You can tune the dogwhistle so that nonracist white people don't hear it, but when you're getting racists excited, you can't stop their targets from noticing too. Hispanics started getting the very clear message that Republicans did not welcome them. (Pete Wilson was one of the grand villains here, in the 1990s. He ran explicitly anti-immigrant ads as a California gubernatorial candidate, and carried the message into his brief presidential campaign in 1996.)

The upshot of all of this is that as the country has gotten less white, Republicans have gotten less popular with everyone who isn't white. (To the point where I've heard conservatives assert to me, out loud and without any sort of shame or hesitation, that Democrats are committing election fraud by being pro-immigration - because Democratic policies can import potentially unlimited numbers of new citizens, who will then be allowed to vote, and vote for Democrats.)

Race isn't the only issue, of course; conservatives - because of their connections to militarists, corporatists, libertarians, evangelicals, and gun enthusiasts - see all of those demographics shrinking relative to the groups most hurt by policies that those groups want - younger Americans affected most by war; environmentally literate people horrified by dismantling of regulations; working-class and poor people affected by shredding of the safety net and commoditization of their labor; women and LGBTQ affected by anti-gay, anti-abortion restrictions; and city dwellers who are most negatively affected by gun ownership.

Yet they are in a spiral, since they cannot turn their backs on any of these increasingly unpopular positions without alienating one or more of their core demographics.

They've tried hard. There are elected Republicans who really, really wish they could write sensible environmental regulations - but they can't, because of their corporate influences. There are *many* elected Republicans who want desperately to reform immigration - but their racist core would bolt. There are those horrified by the inability of their party to do anything humane about health care - but neither libertarians nor racists would tolerate the "something for nothing" aspect of taking care of poor people's health.

And now, those who simply see a case for Republican conservative policies - those who believe in a largely free-market capitalist society that rewards work and success, and pays attention to patriotism and tradition, but has supports that strengthen the community, take care of citizens who need help, and is inclusive and welcoming to everyone - have to be feeling a gradual sense of dread and panic.

Because they also know, or believe they know, that Democratic policies are very, very sticky. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid - which many conservatives believe to have negative impact on society overall - are permanent fixtures of our nation. Moreover, the electoral success of FDR and JFK/LBJ (which was halted by Vietnam and by Johnson's choice above) showed that voters respond very positively to successful Democratic programs (even though a Republican will make the case, whatever one thinks of it, that these policies' short-term benefits are outweighed by long-term costs, both economic and cultural).

So Republicans, I believe, are convinced that their gains are hard-fought and temporary, while Democratic gains - when Democrats are allowed to govern - are easy and permanent.

And - this is the critical piece of motivation I think we should understand, and the reason I went through all of that history, to illustrate the deal with the Devil they made - they see their demographic doom upon them. They know they can't expand beyond their current demographic limits. They are very, very aware that their last Presidential popular vote victory was 2004 and the one before that was 1988. They have won the popular vote in only one of the last seven presidential elections. There are more of us than there are of them and that is not going to change.

They see barbarians at the gate, everywhere. They are outnumbered and they know it. And they honestly see themselves as the last defenders of civilization and freedom, in constant danger of being overwhelmed and their light extinguished.

Needless to say I don't share their view in the slightest. But I believe I am accurately representing it. And I believe I understand it.

And when I put myself in that mindset - the last defenders of civilization - I understand their desperation. Why they embrace what seems insane. Why they are so willing to be so desperate. Why they fought Clinton, and then Obama, so furiously and relentlessly, never compromising and never allowing a single success, even one that had the potential to help enormous numbers of citizens without containing anything resembling actual "liberal" ideals (e.g. the PPACA).

They can't let us win even temporarily, because they are convinced it will be permanent. If we peel off anyone from their coalition, they'll never build it again. There's no one left for them to add. Too many Americans are nonwhite, or LGBTQ, or working-class, or nonreligious, or against guns, or in favor of abortion, or want some amount of services to provide support in an increasingly complex and demanding world. More all the time.

And all it takes, they believe, to cement an effectively permanent Democratic supermajority is for people to see a Democratic success. (They know Democratic policies help people. They're not stupid. They just think it's bad for the country to help people.) I'm not exaggerating or making this up when I say they believe they can't afford there to be a single opposition success; I've seen the position papers Republicans published under Clinton and under Obama. They have been frank about seeing relentless, total opposition as their sole path to survival.

And now that they're in charge they will literally do anything it takes to stay there, because they believe it's the last chance for their philosophy - and remember, they believe that any other philosophy than theirs leads to the downfall of civilization. This isn't evil, per se, it's desperation - or rather, it's what real evil in the real world is: not moustache-twirling sadism for the sake of it, but convincing themselves that every part of what they do, no matter how many people it hurts or what sacred traditions it destroys, has to be done to save humanity.

They can't back down, ever. On anything. They can't admit a single wrongdoing by anyone in their party. They can't quit even so awful and unfit a clown as Trump, because a weak hand going into 2020 could permanently realign the nation against them. No tactic is beyond them because they see - always - the apocalypse coming with the next election and they must use every weapon at their disposal. They are willing to throw even our ideals of free and fair elections to the winds, convincing themselves that's not really what they're doing - they're just temporarily making voting a little harder for people who probably wouldn't have voted anyway, what's the harm - who cares if there was foreign influence in our elections, they have any number of excuses for why that isn't as horrifying as it sounds - because they honestly believe the future of all mankind and all civilization depends on their victory over us.

Tuesday Post

Jul. 11th, 2017 07:57 am
marthawells: (Stargate)
[personal profile] marthawells
My post on the Barnes & Noble blog: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/8-books-blend-science-magic-minus-fantasy-tropes/ Fantasies that Blend Magic and Science

I also somehow missed that there was a Publishers Weekly review for The Harbors of the Sun: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59780-891-0

I removed the one mildy spoilery bit:

The beautiful fifth Raksura fantasy begins immediately after the events of The Edge of Worlds, tracing the various journeys of Moon, Jade, and the rest of the now-scattered Raksuran archaeological expedition.... Having done the heavy lifting of characterization in earlier books in the series, Wells is able to focus here on exploring how the Raksura fit into the wider world, dealing with the prejudices that result from their previous isolation, their shape-shifting ability and other magic, and their biological connection to the predatory Fell. The Fell themselves give rise to some of the more intriguing social explorations, as more is revealed about the half-Fell/half-Raksurans who were raised among the predators. Wells’s worldbuilding strengths are on display, and she knows just what to explain and what to imply, making this volume accessible to newcomers as well as longtime readers.


Now I'm going back to my aerobics class and hope I don't have any trouble from my back, my hands, my feet or any of the other bits of me that are falling off.

Monday

Jul. 10th, 2017 07:33 am
marthawells: (SGA Team)
[personal profile] marthawells
I keep wanting to write more here, but I keep forgetting to, and then forgetting what I was going to write about. I've been busy trying to do promo stuff for The Harbors of the Sun and I had a bunch of guest posts to write, and I've been working on the fourth Murderbot novella. (Which basically means I write half of it, decide it's going in completely the wrong direction, and start over.)

I need to start up Martha's Guide to TV Mysteries again because I have a lot to add to it. In particular Witnesses, which is a French series available on Netflix with subtitles, with a woman main character dealing with very creepy mysteries. (The first series starts with the discovery that someone is digging up corpses and arranging them like they're a family in model show homes in real estate developments.)

Now I went back and looked at my old mystery guide posts and now I can't remember what else I was going to write. So basically, stress, distraction, stress, is how things are going.


Oh, standard begging: If you enjoyed The Harbors of the Sun, please consider leaving a review somewhere like Amazon or GoodReads. Amazon won't include the book in its promotion system until it gets 50 reviews/ratings (Or so we think, I'm not sure if anyone knows for sure), so reviews and ratings really do help a huge amount and writers really appreciate them.

Also, if you want to get the book at your local library and they don't have it, remember that you can request that they buy it for their collection. And a lot of libraries are offering ebook lending, too, now.


And I'm doing a signing at Murder by the Book in Houston this weekend (July 15, 4:30) with Rachel Caine, and if you can't come you can get our signed and personalized books shipped to you from here: http://www.murderbooks.com/event/wells-caine Signed books make great gifts!

Also coming up is ArmadilloCon is Austin http://armadillocon.org/d39/#/ on August 4-6.

Opening Up for Summer

Jul. 10th, 2017 01:02 am
liralen: A pictures of one of my bees (bee)
[personal profile] liralen
The weather has been finally getting really hot, in the mid to high 90's for a few days, and I knew that I had to get better ventilation into the hive for those weeks when it would be close to 100.  The hard part of it all is that I have to replace the bottom board to do so.

There might have been other ways? But I've did this both years when I had my last hive, and I liked having the bottom board be sealed when the colony was small and needed fewer entrances to defend.  It was obvious, from watching the bees coming in and out each day, that they had good numbers to defend themselves, now.  Plus, the girls might need more room, so I prepared a super with another eight frames for them to build on and fill that would fit above the deeps that I was leaving for them to keep full of honey, pollen, and brood.

Read more... )

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