Convention update

Unfortunately, due to the Ongoing Medical Disaster, which I’m considering renaming the Ongoing Medical Calamity because “calamity” is a more fun word than “disaster,” I have been forced to cancel my appearance at IndyPopCon the weekend of June 7th. It is not a good time to be leaving town right now, and I don’t see that changing in the next couple of weeks, plus I would have to take the 7th off from work and I can’t afford to take any additional days not related to the OMD.

So that leaves me with no con appearances currently scheduled between now and Kokomo-Con X in October, and two in a row cancelled. I’m considering seeing if InConJunction, which is over my birthday weekend, and Hall of Heroes Con in September still have spots available. Maybe one more summer con if I can find somewhere to go. Anywhere have something they’d like to suggest, ideally this summer and ideally within driving distance of northern Indiana?

In which I have a word with all my favorite authors

Pictured: my unread shelf. Not pictured: the three more books I just ordered.

Dear authors I like: please stop writing so many books. I do not have time for all of them, and my unread shelf, which is full of riches, is starting to frighten me. There are three different authors I have more than one book from on that shelf. I just ordered another Seanan McGuire book, meaning there are about to be three by her. Kameron Hurley has a book coming out next week. And there is a third book in that order, an order I just placed perhaps an hour ago, and I don’t remember what it was.

(Oh, right! G. Willow Wilson, an author I’ve come to associate mostly with comic books, just released her second novel. That was it.)

I am currently reading The Phoenix Empress, the sequel to The Tiger’s Daughter, a book I read in January and liked a hell of a lot. For some reason it has taken several days to read, which is not a reflection on its quality, just on my lack of time to read in the last couple of days. I am about 180 pages away from the end, and as soon as I finish this post I’m going to pick it up and I’m not putting it down again until I am done with it. Because look at my damn unread shelf. It’s out of control, and more books are coming. I can’t stop buying books, because I have a sickness, and I’m pretty sure I really can’t read any faster, so the only solution is that y’all are going to have to stop writing so many books. I know y’all depend on this for your livelihood, but I’m told that things like eliminating Starbucks can lead to financial success, so maybe that will work for you. Or perhaps find a way for me to not find out about your books– which might be difficult, because I’m following all of you on Twitter.

(The Phoenix Empress is probably not going to get a full review. I am enjoying it but it’s not quite as amazing as The Tiger’s Daughter was. That said, a large part of my love for Tiger’s Daughter is related to how amazingly well it stuck the ending, so we’ll see how the last couple hundred pages go tonight.)

And then I will pick one of those books from the pile before I go to bed, and I will hope to be halfway done with it before I sleep. Because, my God, I have to winnow that mess down somehow. Tell me what I’m reading next in comments. I want to read them all next, which I’m pretty sure isn’t possible.

In which I’m suddenly taken seriously

I should probably hold this information back a little bit, because right now I don’t have much more than what I’m going to tell you and there’s certainly a lot more to know, but I just got my panel schedule back for ConGlomeration this April in Louisville. And whoa.

First of all, I have a panel schedule. I’ve been doing cons for like four years and I’ve been on one panel. There were four people in the audience. One was my wife. (One of the other three bought a book, though!) I am doing five panels at ConGlomeration.

Friday, April 19, 1 PM: Writing Dialog
2 PM: Writing Compelling Characters
7 PM: Writing Science Fiction

Saturday, April 20, 3 PM: Setting Yourself Up for Success as an Indie
8 PM: Writing Fantasy

I’m not on any panels with Timothy Zahn, which makes me kinda sad, but I think Michael Z. Williamson is on the Writing Science Fiction one? He’s holding a gun with an attached silencer in his picture on Wikipedia and he once wrote a book called Brilliant Liberal Logic: Three Lies in Three Words,  which implies that the word “liberal” is, itself, somehow a lie, which I’m not sure it is.

I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.

Double book review!

I read these back to back, and they are very similar books, right down to my actual opinions of them, so let’s do a dual review sort of thingie here. I ordered Kill the Queen a month or so ago after reading an article that recommended a bunch of epic fantasy by women, and Throne of Glass is the first book in a series whose final book just came out and which apparently a lot of my friends enjoyed, because I saw alllll sorts of tweets and Instagrams and all sorts of stuff when it came out. So I jumped in. Throne of Glass has six or seven sequels out and the series is complete; Kill the Queen’s second book comes out in June or July and I’m not certain how long it’s planned to run.

tl;dr: neither book is perfect but both have a lot of potential and you should check them both out.

Somewhat more detailed: both books feature young, orphaned women as the main protagonist (I’ll admit to rolling my eyes when KtQ’s protagonist first mentioned her parents were dead; I read that book second) although KtQ’s Evie is ten years older than seventeen-year-old Celaena in ToG. Both books spend the majority of their time in or around castles and dealing with the problem of royalty, although in different ways; Celaena, an actual assassin, is freed from jail by the crown prince at the beginning of the book and offered her freedom in exchange for serving as the king’s assassin for four years, and Evie is seventeenth in line for the throne at the beginning of KtQ, although … well, some stuff happens that sorta moves her up in the line of succession a bit. Spoiler alert, I guess. Celaena is uber-competent from the jump– if anything, a bit too competent for a seventeen-year-old; Evie starts off kinda useless but gets over it quickly.

ToG is Young Adults, although it’s the kind of YA that bitchy old men like myself can read without complaint. It’s real YA, as in the publisher markets it that way and that’s where you find it at bookstores, not the sexist “fantasy written by a woman, starring a woman, so it must be YA” YA. KtQ might fool you for about fifty pages and then the shit hits the fan and it definitely ain’t YA no more.

As I said, both books have some weaknesses, although ToG’s are less weaknesses of the book and more consequences of being YA: Celaena is an impressive badass, but I was never really sold on the idea that this seventeen-year-old who has been in jail for a couple of years working the salt mines was a world-renowned assassin. She doesn’t really ever come off as super assassiny, I guess? I mean, she’s a bitchy asshole, and I mean that as a compliment– I like her personality– but there’s a bit too much tell and not enough show, and I want much more backstory on her. But there’s six more books coming, so I’ll probably get it. In KtQ’s corner, the book begins with (spoiler) a Red Wedding-esque massacre that Evie is one of a very small number of survivors of, and I kinda feel like PTSD should have played a bit more of a role in her story? There’s also not as much societal upheaval as I’d guess from a book that starts with the utter destruction of damn near the entire (spoiler) ruling family. Like, nobody really seems to notice much other than a day of mourning.

Both books have romance; in no case does the romance go quite where you think it’ll go, which is cool. Throne of Glass also has a great bit where it is made clear that the book was written by a woman, and one who has thought about the biological ramifications of her protagonist basically being enslaved in a salt mine for a couple of years.

Also! I like the worldbuilding and the magic in ToG quite a bit, and again, I like Celaena quite a bit despite not quite believing in her, and despite being fucking called Kill the Queen, Kill the Queen‘s story managed to surprise me twice. I mean, it’s called Kill the Queen. You might imagine there’s some queen-killing! And there is! And it’s surprising anyway. It’s weird, but it works.

So, yeah: these are both four-star-out-of-five reads, with KtQ’s excellent ending very nearly pushing it up another half-star or so, and they’re both definitely checking out. I’ve already ordered the next two books in the Throne of Glass series, and I’ll be buying the sequel to Kill the Queen, called Protect the Prince, when it comes out in a few months. Check ’em both out.

Quick question for the readers

I have not seen The King and I in many years, and I have fond memories of it– not quite at the point where I really have anything memorized, mind you, but I think about it more often than I think about a lot of things. At any rate, I have a puzzlement for y’all.

Those of you who are readers, and especially those of you who enjoy speculative fiction of some stripe or another: how good are you at ignoring bad and/or problematic aspects of a work and concentrating on the bits that you like? This may sound a bit more serious than I want it to; I’m not necessarily talking about anything like, oh, the racist and sexist elements of The King and I that will likely get on my nerves much more now than they did when I last watched it, probably two decades ago now, but more like a book with propulsive writing, interesting characters, and a plot that makes no Goddamn sense at all. Or, say, a science fiction novel that gets a lot of basic science stuff wrong, but not in a handwaves-it-away sort of sense, just gets it wrong. This is probably going to be something that’s going to be hard to answer in a general sense, but is there something (poor characterization, for example) that you’re generally able to put aside, or is there something that will always throw you out of a book that you’re reading even if you’re otherwise enjoying it without the troublesome part?

I will provide more context if I decide that the book I’m reading right now deserves a full review, but for right now I’m just curious.

(Snow day, again, today. We had an ice storm last night, and I woke up to a two-hour delay that became a full cancel just as I was getting ready to leave to take the boy to school. He had school. I did not. Video games and comic books all day for the win.)