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Apr. 28th, 2015

Excerpted from: They're Moving Father's Sewer to Build a Graveyard. For Link On Line, March 15, 2015. Dan Goodman, or 612-298-2354

Books read include: Elizabeth Benedict, The Joy of Writing Sex: A guide for fiction writers. Henry Holt, 2002. The good parts: there's advice which seems useful; and a quote from Smilla's Sense of Snow contains an act I had never heard of before.

However, the intended readership is writers of literary fiction. And reading this reminded me of why I don't care for most literary fiction. Too much technique, too little life.

Ben Aaronovitch, Foxglove Summer. Ballantine, 2014. Part of the Rivers of London series. (Each river has its god -- except the Thames, which has two who don't get along well.) Peter Grant is half the staff of Scotland Yard's division devoted to fighting magical crimes. In this book, he's sent to a small town to help investigate the disappearance of two young girls.

There are twists I didn't expect. And I've been reading mysteries and fantasies long enough that I often spot surprises long before authors reveal them.

Aaronovitch is up on police procedures, and gets assistance from working cops. (I don't think he consults working magicians.) I recommend this book, and the entire series.

Note: This is the second book with carnivorous unicorns I've read recently. (The other is Charles Stross's Equoid.) Anyone who looked forward to being first with the idea will need to find another one.

A few months ago, four men were arrested for cheating at poker at Canterbury Racetrack. (One played, one peeked at other players' cards, the other two blocked surveillance cameras.) Their earnings were given as "above $200."

Say they grossed $60 each. Three of them traveled to Minnesota from Florida; add in other expenses, and they can't have netted much. Even if they'd gotten away with it, doesn't seem worth it to me.

If I recall correctly, three were in their 70s and one close to it. They had previous records. If they were smart, they would've gone into another line of work.

[Names of workshop members commented to are replaced by pseudonyms]

Lord Bearer: SF editor John Campbell once speculated that nitroglycerin had been invented before gunpowder -- several times, by alchemists who didn't live to document their results. As I recall, Campbell took for granted that gunpowder was a European invention; but it seems possible to me that it was invented before Muslims brought gunpowder to Europe.

Latin Herder: Actually, some genre stories begin slowly. For example, a group of men are playing cards; and after a while one begins telling the story. This used to be much more common, as did men sitting around in a bar.

A good recent fantasy story which starts off slowly: Neil Gaiman, "To Weep Like Alexander."// I'm used to seeing song lyrics quoted like this:

There was an old woman in our town,
In our town did dwell.
She loved her husband dearly,
But another man twice as well.

She went to the doctor
To see what she could find,
To see what he could give her
To make her old man blind.


First time I seen Darling Corey,
She was standing in the door.
.45 pistol in her hand,
And a dead man on the floor.

Each line of the song on its own line.

//Much of my thinking is in multi-sensory diagrams; usually in three dimensions, sometimes four, occasionally five. Which is rather difficult to get down on paper. //An immortal woman might consider anyone with an age less than a few thousand years young. Even if she's relatively young herself. //I remember things much better if I write them down; and often I don't need to look at them again. My ticker tape synesthesia is less useful, but will do in a pinch. (Ticker tape: Seeing spoken words printed out; in my case, also words I think out. Thankfully, I don't notice it unless I "look." Such things can be distracting. )

People have different kinds of memory, with more differences than can easily be imagined.

Former Medic: I found out I had diabetes by mentioning to my doctor there was an itch between two toes which wasn't going away. (Which is better than the first indication being a coma, as happened to someone I know and to someone I knew when he was alive.) Thought about a relative who had diabetes and wasn't controlling it; I then lost enough weight to be merely prediabetic.