Daily Update #32

Ugh, what an unbelievable couple of weeks.  Our house, sequestered on our wondrous acreage in the southwestern desert, caught fire.  The personal property damage was not very extensive but the damage to the house itself is bad.  It will take about six months to get repaired and Mrs. Axe is having to deal with being in a strange temporary house without me there.  Three more months to retirement.

Anyway:

– Progress on Pilgrimage has been slow due to the events mentioned above.  Heh, every time I think I am going to get it together, something happens.  I’ll keep at it.

– I now have two stories that are held for final decision by their respective magazines.  Neither are pro-paying mags but both are venues in good esteem, that I’ve been trying to pierce for some time.  Good steps, we’ll see what happens from here.

– While traveling recently, I read Brandon Sanderson’s latest, Steelheart.  It was okay.  I give it to Sanderson:  he is an absolute ace at creating glum, dystopian worlds with a very desperate climate.  His execution, though …

– With the rash of super hero movies coming out, I thought this blog entry about the five worst Avengers ever was kind of amusing.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t read anything else on this site, so …. yeah, I take no responsibility for your wanderings.)  It is a shame we will have an Ant Man movie before a Wonder Woman movie – or as another site put it, before we can have a superhero movie with “Woman” in the name, we have to have a movie about a character most famous for being a woman beater.  Can you tell I don’t like Ant Man?

– A few months back, Apex Magazine ran a contest for a 250-word spec fiction tale related to Christmas.  Figuring, “What the hell,” I whipped up a quick tale.  I did not win, obviously, so here is what I entered:

Another Year
The candy cane did not object when it was dumped from the box into a heap with its insensate kin.
It did not protest when the woman hung it from the tree branch.  The scents of pine sap and the burnt ozone of cheap electric lights swamped its senses but the cane told itself, “Patience.”
It did not lash out when the cat, malicious beast that it was, batted the cane loose from the branch.  Claws scored its surface and the cane’s mute rage swelled.  But the cane endured, and the child chased the cat away, returning the cane to the branch.  The cane told itself, “Just wait.”
Then at last, its time came.  The child came to the tree and pointed.  “Mommy, can I have a candy cane?”
The woman nodded.  The child walked around the tree, eyes roaming across the selections.  The cane shrieked in the vaults of its mind.  “I’m here!  Take me!”
The child reached out.  The cane trembled in anticipation – then shuddered as the child plucked up another, one of plain sugar and corn syrup.  “I want this one.”
The cane sighed.  It did not move as the tree withered and faded.  It did not object as the woman replaced it in the box, along with its mindless brethren.  The dark spirit within, waiting to be unleashed into the body of an innocent, was patient.  Christmas would come again.
The box lid closed.  The candy cane told itself, “Next year.”
And it waited.

Not bad, eh?

Ah well.  Thanks dear friends for allowing me to vomit my latest ramblings.

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One Author

Panning through old articles over at Mental Floss, I found this question and it was kind of intriguing:  if you were stranded on an island and could only have one author – not a specific book but one author – with you, who would you pick?

Zounds.  I had to think about this one.  At first I just took the question in the implied spirit, as to who would be the one who would provide the most mental stimulation.  But after a while, I realized I would need a more comprehensive examination.  Being on an island is a survival situation, after all.  So I thought this through.

First, have to throw out the dead folks.  Tolkein, Zimmer Bradley, et al … Great conversationalists with a wealth of knowledge but not much use in building a raft or spearing a crab.  Corpses usually aren't, unless they are simultaneously trying to eat you.  (Zombie Tolkein?  That's an idea, albeit one that might get me lynched by certain readership.)

I winnowed down those to who would actually help.  Michael Moorcock would busy himself waxing lyrical about the Cosmic Balance.  Charlaine Harris would be waiting for the local vampire population to help.  Harry Turtledove would spend more time re-writing how we ended up on the island, adding dragons and aliens, than figuring out how we could get out of there.  George R. R. Martin has too much writing to do to help with the heavy lifting.

It really comes down to two.  On the one hand, Brandon Sanderson would probably be a good choice.  One, he's young-ish, with a strong back.  Two, he's a proven world builder, which speaks to strong organizational skills.  Three, IMO, he's an ascending author and still has a strong work ethic. (On an authorship note, I like Sanderson's work and I think I could learn something from him.)

On the other hand, Suzanne Collins has some experience (at least writing) about survival situations.  Knowledge is power.  Plus, she's easy on the eyes and has been known to be redheaded at times, so there's snuggling under the coconut trees while waiting for rescue.  (On an authorship note, I think Collins could give a good seminar on writing for young adults.)

I guess I go with Sanderson.  Survival over snuggling.

(Muse:  You could snuggle with Sanderson.)

Ahem.  Indeed.

So who would you all want to be stuck with?

BOING! goes the metal-fueled acrobat

Holy snit.  What the hell happened?

One minute, I was sitting there in Virginia, happy as a clam.  Then I had trouble buying the house, making me mad as a march hare.  Next thing I know, I am in Nebraska, checking into my new assignment, nervous as a gazelle who knows a lion’s about.  My spouse, my dogs, and all of my stuff ended up in the highlands of Arizona, while I sit here, lonely as the dog left on the Titanic.  (These animal metaphors doing anything for you?)

It was a long, grueling procedure but a few good things came out of it.  One, we did buy the ranch on 20 acres in the White Mountains (near Show Low, AZ), and it is just perfect.  Two, I think I worked up a full fifteen-minute comedy routine while I was driving.  I am still tweaking it but it is funnier than half the crap I hear at stand up shows.  I’ll keep tinkering but what the hell – maybe I will give it a shot.  Doing a stand up routine isn’t on my bucket list or anything but it would verify that I am as funny as I think I am.  Finally, I did read the entire Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson during the transition period.

The Mistborn series centers around a group of characters who are called Allomancers.  In the context of the story, that means they draw their power from "burning" specific metals in their bodies (often ingesting metal flakes to do so).  Each metal does something different, and Allomancers have a varied amount of ability.  For example, burning steel and iron give the Allomancers the ability to push and pull on metal.  If the metal is light, it flies to or away from them.  If the source of metal being pushed/pulled is heavier than the Allomancer, then they fly towards/away from that source.  Allomancers use that ability to leap through the city like a spring – hence my entry title.  The series is an ensemble piece, from multiple characters’ points of view, which is quite effective for the story itself.  The first book starts with the standard Big Bad that need needs overthrowing and goes from there.

All in all, I very much enjoyed the series.  Sanderson did a very good job of weaving the plot threads together.  Elements of the story that seem inconsequential often make much more sense as you read further in the series itself.  There are a few "WTF?" moments, such as:

SPOILER (when highlighted)
Why is Ruin completely able to control people through Hemalurgy but the reader is told repeatedly that metal is anathema to Ruin, in the sense that the entity cannot read the metal plates or detect the atium through other metals?  Seems counter-intuitive….

But overall, I thought it was quite good.  The slowest part of the series is the first 3/4 of book two.  For a while I thought I was looking at another Sovereign Stone Trilogy.  The first book of that series was absolutely stunning and chilling – only to have the second and third books fall completely flat.  They were only marginally connected to the first book and left dangling plot threads and at least one character had his fate unstated  Blarg.

Fortunately, the second book of the Mistborn series was saved by a couple of scenes at the end that were just Crowning Moments of Awesome (if you don’t know what that is, look it up) and the third book was gripping start to finish.  I could not put it down.

Word of warning:  these books are crushingly bleak and I think the ending may turn some folks off, but I enjoyed it a  lot.  If I still gave a crap about the Wheel of Time series, I would be very happy with Sanderson taking the reigns of that project.  The Mistborn series is a good read for anyone that likes heroic fantasy, and I give it an A+ recommendation.

The fact that Sanderson grew up only a few miles from the center of the football universe (Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska) has no bearing on it, I assure you….

Okay, a blog entry down.  Tomorrow, off to find an apartment – and settle in for a few years of writing.