13 October 2020

Book review/recommendation: The Four Profound Weaves

I bought an e-copy of RB Lemberg's The Four Profound Weaves, and I had a chance to read it last night. It's about an old man and an old woman who go on a journey - a quest, even - to find the old woman's aunt, from whom the old man wants to receive a name and the old woman wants to learn the final Profound Weave: to weave a cloth from death.

It's part of their Birdverse series, which includes these three stories.

Geometries of Belonging

The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar

Grandmother nai-Leylit's Cloth of Winds

And it is related to the third of these. The nameless old man was a protagonist there.

This story/book is about so much more than the plot. It is, at its root, a profoundly trans and queer story. Both protagonists are trans (spoiler, I guess?), and the nameless man spends time thinking about what it means to be a man and his people's traditions of masculinity and femininity. Among the nameless man's home culture, it is the norm for groups of women (3 seems common, but I don't know if that's a requirement) to form an oreg, a group of lovers who go on trading journeys together. Men remain inside a separate, locked quarter, where they are scholars and artificers.

It's sad, in many ways, and angry, but also incredibly hopeful. The final chapter hit me right in the feels, in a very similar way that The Song of Achilles did: that queer place, where there is hope and anger and sadness, lost family and found.

Lemberg's writing style is poetic without being impenetrably dense, and it reminds me of Ursula Le Guin's prose at its finest. (I'm sure RB would be pleased with that comparison! I know that "Stone Telling" is meaningful to them.)

I highly recommend this book. You can find it at all the usual suspects.




09 June 2020

Practical linguistics for writers

I'm launching a Patreon today that combines my talents: writing and linguistics. I'm going to be writing a book about the basics of linguistics that are useful for writers, especially of speculative fiction - phonetics, morphology - and how to use these things for good in your writing. How the shape of your aliens' vocal tract affects which phonemes they can produce. How to make a logical set of sounds in your secondary world, if you don't want to just use English or faux French.

Please share with your friends and colleagues! Practical Linguistics for Writers

This was supposed to automatically publish in June, but it didn't. WTF. So here it is, 4 months delayed.

15 December 2019

Award eligibility post

The monthly column I've been writing at tor.com since June is, I believe, eligible for the Best Related Work Hugo award. If you haven't read any of them, here is the archive.

I have no fiction published this year.

25 February 2019

*dusts off blog*

Has it really been 2.5 years since I last updated? The academic life has been pretty overwhelming, especially because I decided I wanted to get 2 MAs in 3 years, which resulted in my taking 4 graduate level classes a semester for a year while teaching. Needless to say, I haven't had much in the way of time to write since I started school.

My short story "Debridement" was finally published around September 2018 - that's the one my last post was about. It's in the anthology Survivor, edited by Mary Anne Mohanraj and JJ Pionke. That was my VP17 application piece, and it finally found a home.

Since I last updated, I've actually been to Dresden and seen the opera house - it's definitely quite the piece of architecture. When I eventually have time again, I should update my "where to go in Germany" stuff, since I can add a handful of places now.

I'm in my last semester of grad school (FINALLY) and writing my MA thesis on a very specific group of verbs in German. Once it's finished and approved and all that, I'll work on a summary for non-linguists and share it with the like 2 people reading this (ha). As long as that doesn't violate some sort of academic publishing thing, I guess. I'll ask my advisor.

Anyway, anyone still here? Hi.

09 December 2016

Story sale!

My short story "Debridement" will be published in the anthology Survivor, edited by Mary Anne Mohanraj and J.J. Pionke.

It'll be out around September 2017, I'm told. You can preorder here.

"Debridement" was my Viable Paradise application piece, and I'm thrilled it's finally found a home. It's a magical realism-ish story about a WW1 surgeon in Dresden, with a hell of an opening line. I hope you love it as much as I do.

22 April 2016

Now it can be told!

I've been accepted to the German Studies MA program at the University of Georgia for this fall! I'll be focusing on the linguistic aspects of the language (language change and variation).

I'm not going to get to very many (any?) cons over the next couple years, because of classes and all, but I currently intend to get the new novel WIP outlined before the semester starts and take a couple hours every weekend or something and work on a draft.

30 December 2015

2015 in review

2015 hasn't been terribly eventful.

I ran another Shatterdome Atlanta, which happened and people had fun. I went to my brother-in-law's wedding on Orcas Island, which took literally all day to get to from here (we had a 7 am flight and landed in Seattle at 1:30 pm and rented a car and drove 2 hours to the ferry, waited another hour + for the boat, then took the half-hour ferry to the island, and then had to drive to the other side of the island to the location, so we arrived around 9:30 pm, which felt like midnight to us, after a really long day.)

I started taking Russian at UNC. It's an interesting language, with a few bits of grammatical WTFery for speakers of Germanic languages (which includes English). A friend said I shouldn't learn it because it's too hard, but I said "pfff" and am doing it anyway. I got an A in 101, and I expect to get one in 102 as well. Going to the class eats 10-12 hours a week, plus another 4-5 of homework. I live half an hour from campus, but I use free parking that's not exactly close to campus, so I take a bus from there.

As to the goals I mentioned in last year's review... I accomplished two and a half. I ran a 5k (36:15), successfully chaired a convention, and made a small dent in my reading backlog. I have not sold a story (not for lack of trying...37 submissions, 37 rejections), and the novel is not in anything resembling a shoppable state (which is entirely my fault; I started learning Russian, which eats up a lot of time.) I'm working on it over winter break, but I still don't think I'll get it ready before classes start again.

I taught some German this year; after May, there was a lot of summer travel, so my whole 3 students and I said we'd reconvene toward fall. And there wasn't enough interest to make a class, so no class.

I read more. I even read books that were published this year! Naomi Novik's Uprooted, Ann Leckie's Ancillary Mercy, and Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown. I liked the first one a lot, the second one a lot, and the third one OK.

For 2016, I'm going to keep trying to sell these stories, keep finishing this damned novel, and start figuring out the next one.