Thick Books for Cold Nights

Last week felt like the first normal week of 2021. I had no family drama or cat drama, though we had Pepper fixed and after a day of withdrawal from the Ketamine which is used in cat sedative, she was back to being her usual sweet self, although with a bare belly and a shaved foreleg (for the i.v.) which makes her look like she is wearing an UGG boot.

It was a pretty good week for reading material here at the Library of Winkelman Abbey. Four new founts of information and entertainment arrived during the first genuinely wintry cold and snowy week of the season.

On the left (ha!) is the latest issue of Jacobin, a magazine which has only increased in importance since America’s slide into being a corporate fascist state was slowed slightly by the election of Joe Biden.

Second from left is the latest issue of Poetry, a magazine which has always been important, as poetry has always been important, as the inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, clearly demonstrates.

Third is The Cybernetic Hypothesis, a text by contributors to the leftist journal Tiqqun, from Semiotext(e), a publisher (and group) known for writing material which caused noted coward and fascist bootlick Glenn Beck to wet himself in terror at their mere mention.

On the right is Son of a Liche by J. Zachary Pike, which is the sequel to the wonderful Orconomics. This one is self-published, as was the first which won the Self Publishing Fantasy Blog-Off in 2018.

In reading news, I finished Isabel Wilkerson‘s Caste: The Origins of our Discontents and it left me with much the same feeling as Matthew Desmond‘s Evicted, Sheldon Wolin‘s Democracy, Incorporated, and most certainly Michelle Alexander‘s The New Jim Crow. Which is to say, again, that feudalism was never overcome, it was only rebranded.

I am approaching halfway through The Brothers Karamazov and maintaining a comfortable pace to complete this behemoth of a book before the first day of spring.

Now that I am done with Caste, I started (the late) John Giorno‘s memoir Great Demon Kings, which is a fantastic window into the art, poetry and nascent media scene in New York starting in the mid 1950s. I am a little over a third of the way into the book and enjoying the hell out of it. One note: the subtitle is “A Memoir of Poetry, Sex, Art, Death, and Enlightenment”, and the sex is front and center, and very graphic.

In writing news, my mind finally feels clear and I am ready to begin. I just need to come up with some ideas.

January 2021 Reading List

In January 2021 I completed three books and 21 short stories. Not bad for such a chaotic month. I had hoped to average a short story a day, but life and world events intervened and significantly cut short my quiet time. Perhaps February will be better.

In the short stories, Coffin Bell is the online journal which recently published my short story “Occupied Space.” I recommend them highly.

Books (3)

  1. Tidhar, Lavie (ed.) – The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.05)
  2. Robinson, Kim StanleyThe Ministry for the Future (2021.01.11)
  3. Wolin, SheldonDemocracy, Incorporated (2021.01.25)

Short Prose (21)

  1. Tobias Buckell, “The Inheritance”, Patreon (2021.01.01)
  2. Kaaron Warren, “Ghost Jail”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol.1 (2021.01.01)
  3. Yang Ping, “Wizard World”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.02)
  4. Alfar, Dean Francis, “The Kite of Stars”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.02)
  5. Yaniv, Nir, “Cinderers”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.02)
  6. Nasir, Jamil, “The Allah Stairs”The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.03)
  7. Halim, Tunku, “Biggest Baddest Bomoh”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.03)
  8. de Bodard, Aliette, “The Lost Xuyan Bride”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.03)
  9. Mandigma, Kristin, “Excerpt from a Letter by a Socialist-Realist Aswang”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.04)
  10. Glines, Larry, “Old Bones”, Coffin Bell #4.1 (2021.01.04)
  11. Žiljak, Aleksandar – “An Evening in the City Coffeehouse, With Lydia on my Mind”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.04)
  12. Menon, Anil, “Into the Night”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.04)
  13. Fazi, Mélanie, “Elegy”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.05)
  14. Živković, Zoran, “Compartments”, The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 1 (2021.01.05)
  15. Wolfe, Viktor, “The Tower”, Coffin Bell #4.1 (2021.01.05)
  16. Tucker, Neal, “My Alexandria”, Coffin Bell #4.1 (2021.01.26)
  17. Fellinger, Noah, “The Desolation Hour”, Coffin Bell #4.1 (2021.01.26)
  18. Cap, M.K., “The Museum of Doubt”, Coffin Bell #4.1 (2021.01.26)
  19. Harper, Elliot, “A Tale From the Terraced Ocean”, Coffin Bell #4.1 (2021.01.26)
  20. Kepfer, Joshua, “The Wolf and the Sheep”, Coffin Bell #4.1 (2021.01.26)
  21. Sanford, Jason, “The Eight Thousanders”, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Sept/Oct 2020 (2020.01.31)

Monday Music: Yat-Kha

This is “Karangailyg Kara Hovaa” by Yat-Kha, from their 1995 album Yenisei Punk. I appreciate a song which uses the sharpening of blades as a musical instrument.

I don’t remember the first time I heard Tuvan music. It was probably sometime in the mid-1990s, not long after the first time I heard the polytonal chanting of Tibetan Buddhist monks.

Anyway, this is excellent music to get the blood pumping on a slow Monday.

Another January, Done and Gone

(Poe approves of genre fiction and books in translation)

Here we are at the last day of the first month of 2021, and wow, did it feel like 2020 would never end. Up until inauguration day we seemed to be in some sort of eternal November 3, which I suppose made President Biden’s first day November 78, or something.

But the transition has been made, less peacefully than hoped but about as peacefully as could be expected. And with the slow lengthening of days it does seems as if a weight has been lifted from the world. A small victory when measured against the existential crises of the COVID pandemic, global warming, and the slow worldwide morphing of capitalism into neofeudalism, but we take what we can get.

Two new, somewhat-ordered collections of words arrived at the Library of Winkelman Abbey in this past week.

On the left is the latest release from And Other Stories, Permafrost (in the snazzy subscribers-only cover), written by Eva Baltasar and translated by Julia Sanches.

On the right is the December 2020 issue of Dreamforge. This is, alas, the last issue of Dreamforge which will be released in print format. Due to the state of the world and the instability of any and all methods of delivering physical goods to physical addresses, Dreamforge is switching to a digital-only format called Dreamforge Anvil. This is ultimately a good thing, as to do otherwise would likely doom them to going out of business. And there is enough of that going around right now.

In reading news I am well over 200 pages into The Brothers Karamazov, which is about four times farther than I have ever made it in before. I hit my stride a week ago and expect to be able to continue reading a chapter or two a day for the duration. So far I like it. I really, really like it.

I am a little over 100 pages into Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that feudalism was never dismantled; it was merely rebranded, and swapped ownership of property for control over capital.

In writing news, there isn’t much to report, other than that I am preparing things today to be able to re-start the writing habit first thing tomorrow morning. The many and varied deadlines are approaching and it is past time I released some work into the wild.

Funk and Fugue

With the inauguration now in the past the world exists in the consensual illusion of having returned to something like normal. That is absolutely not the case of course, and it will be a long time before we even have an idea of what normal looks like. It certainly won’t be what things looked like on this date four years ago, or even one year ago.

On this weekend in any other year I would be at ConFusion right now, hanging out with old friends, meeting new friends, talking about reading and writing and past cons and publishing and not getting published, and drinking and carousing and enjoying being in the company of good, smart, talented people.

Of course ConFusion is cancelled for this year, and I think ConFusion 2020 was the last normal thing I did before lockdowns began last March. I miss the experience terribly, but it is not as bad as it would be if it were going on and I was not there.

Right now I am sitting in the waiting area of a hospital, waiting on test results for a family member who is in poor health. This is part of a process which has been ongoing for some years now, so while it is not unexpected, it is also not a thing which could be predicted in any meaningful way.

Thus even though the exceptional chaos of the past four years is over, we are still awash in the ordinary chaos of daily life here in the cyberpunk hellscape that is the mid twenty-first century.


It’s been a quiet week for books here at the Library of Winkelman Abbey. One book arrived – War Stories, an anthology courtesy of my subscription to Apex Book Company.

I am almost done with Democracy, Incorporated, and am about 120 pages into The Brothers Karamazov. I plan to round out the month with short stories before I pick up another book to follow the Wolin.

Writing is still going nowhere, though I can feel the knots in my mind loosening up and the creative juices beginning to flow again.

In the absence of ConFusion for inspiration I will need to rely on the mundane chaos of the world.

Breaking Cat News!

We have achieved cuddling! I repeat – we have achieved cuddling!

Poe and Pepper are getting along famously. Zyra and I started letting them interact under strict supervision about a week ago. Two days ago, after the usual running and tussling and what-not, they fell asleep near each other on the floor. Then last night while Z and I watched a movie, the Orange Ones climbed onto the sofa with us, piled up, and fell asleep. Then this morning, with the whole house and its innumerable nooks and crannies available, The two of them chose the same shelf and fell asleep.

2020 Just Won’t Let Go

Just when you think you’re safely out of 2020, the eldritch, cyclopean terrors of the time rise up and pull you back under. More about that in a dedicated post.

Not a lot to report for this past week. Work has been keeping me busy, and at any given time during the day I likely have a small orange cat asleep in my lap, which is the exact opposite of motivation to be productive.

Two new books arrived this week. On the left is the new hardcover version (Kickstarter exclusive) of Dyrk Ashton‘s fantastic Wrath of Gods, the second book in the Paternus trilogy. On the right is Arkady Martine‘s A Memory Called Empire, from my most recent order from Books and Mortar.

In reading news, I am almost 100 pages into The Brothers Karamazov, which puts me at just under 15% of the way through the book. I am also less than 100 pages from the end of Sheldon Wolin’s Democracy, Incorporated, and I am no longer either angry or sad when reading. Now I am just taking notes.

Still not a lot of writing happening here, though I feel like some could happen at any minute. Yup. Aaaaaany minute.

Maybe once I get caught up on my sleep. So, sometime after 2035.