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This review contains SPOILERS for the TV series Game of Thrones as well as for A Song of Ice and Fire.  Read at your own peril.

What’s going on with these new episodes of Game of Thrones?  Everyone is so understanding, so goddamn nice.  What happened to all the treachery, the back-stabbing, the hatred and secrets and vindictiveness?

Look at Jaime, for example.  Enough people bear grudges against him that they should be standing in line to attack him: he killed Daenerys’s father, he pushed Bran off a tower, he imprisoned Sansa and Arya’s father, he constantly made fun of Brienne.  And yet every one of them ends up accepting him.  Some of these scenes are truly affecting, especially the one where he makes Brienne a knight, but they can’t all be so forgiving.

The Hound shrugs off the fact that Arya left him to die.  Samwell Tarly is unhappy that Daenerys killed his father and brother, but nothing seems to come of it.  (Unless the fact that he told Jon the secret of Jon’s birth is his revenge, but if so it seems awfully passive-aggressive.)  Sansa even hugs Theon, after everything he’s done.  When Tyrion suggests they sing a song, I almost expected someone to start up with "Kumbaya."

I don’t know why this bothers me so much.  It’s certainly a pleasant change of pace to see everyone working together, and to watch people who have been separated for years finally meet up again.  It just seems too rational for Westeros; it’s as if, to take an example from the real world, everyone suddenly decided that Climate Change is a real threat and banded together to do something about it.  I kept expecting something more in keeping with what’s gone before, like, I don’t know, Arya getting orders from the House of Black and White to kill Jon, because someone knows about Jon’s claim to the Iron Throne.  But nope — they meet and talk about weaponry.  Yeah, it works, but I don’t know if it’s as interesting.

But as I said, I don’t totally hate all of this good feeling, and I did enjoy a lot of Sunday’s episode.  And there’s still Cersei left.  Thank god for at least one vindictive person.
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When I read Cory Doctorow’s collection Radicalized I felt a bit as if he was preaching to the choir.  But, hey — there’s a reason the choir returns week after week, and maybe it’s to hear the sermon.  Every so often it’s good to read stories that reflect and even expand your own views, especially if they’re written by someone who’s passionate and articulate and knows what he’s talking about.  And these stories aren’t cheap propaganda — each of the four novellas is a good tale in its own right.

The first, “Unauthorized Bread,” follows a woman, Salima, who discovers that her toaster has stopped working.  Not a catastrophe for most people, but the toaster is made by the corporation Boulangism and supplied by the owners of her apartment, and Boulangism has gone bankrupt.  Since the apartment managers don’t allow her to use any other toaster (and she couldn’t afford one in any case), she’s in the strange position of having to hack her own appliance.

Her dishwasher goes out too, and she hacks that as well.  Soon other people in the apartment building are asking her for help, and she recruits a group of kids — well, it’s more that they recruit her — who go door to door tampering with appliances.  The problem is that the toaster, the dishwasher, even the kids’ schoolbooks are set up to take only products supplied by their respective companies, and when Boulangism is restructured they will be coming for their money, or to discover why they haven’t been getting any.  Everyone with a hacked toaster could be going to jail.

Doctorow has built a fascinating world for his story, one that in some ways seems all too familiar.  Every new residential building must set aside a number of apartments for low-income housing, which is how Salima manages to snag one.  But there are no laws about what you can do with these poor people once they move in, and so the apartment owners mandate the kinds of furniture and appliances they can have and, of course, get kickbacks when these are used.  My favorite evil plan by the owners involves the elevators, which will stop at all the “market-rate” floors before deigning to pick up anyone from the poor floors, so that Salima sometimes has to wait an hour or so before the doors open for her.  The two groups inhabit the same building, but they never see each other.

Maybe it’s just the current climate, but I was never completely convinced that our government would care even this much about poor people.  Conservatives are frequently overcome with horror when they learn that someone on a low income owns a refrigerator, let alone toaster or — gasp!— a dishwasher or television.  A friend of Salima’s, Nadifa, has an income-indexed place, which means that she and her kids “would be able to afford to live there no matter what happened to them in the future.”  At the risk of sounding like the most unhinged of conservatives, who is paying for all this?  Who’s paying when Nadifa takes one of her kids to the dentist?  Who paid for the refugee camp in Arizona where the two women met, where Salima had lived for five years?  Putting all this aside though, which is easily done, “Unauthorized Bread” is a terrific story.

“Model Minority” shows what happens when the American Eagle, a superhero much like Superman, saves a black man from being beaten by cops.  The Eagle has been idolized by the public up to that point, but this one act is enough to turn a good portion of them against him.  It’s a pitch-perfect satire, one that makes you really think about the meaning of the words “truth, justice, and the American way” ... especially those last three.

Doctorow moves from a story leavened with humor to one that’s almost too painful to read.  In “Radicalized” Joe’s wife Lacey has cancer, but the experimental treatments available have been denied by their health care providers.  Joe desperately needs a way to unload his anger, and he finds a forum for people in the same position.  But the posters there are pushing more and more radical actions, and at times you find yourself agreeing with them.

This is how Doctorow works: he shows you the real stories behind the statistics, people on the edge of despair, clinging by their fingertips.  You feel their rage and frustration, and you wonder what you would feel, how you would act.

Martin, in “The Masque of the Red Death,” has built a bunker to hide in when the world collapses, and has invited thirty people to join him.  At times he even seems to be looking forward to it; as a hedge-fund manager he thinks things like “The fact was that the world just didn’t need all these people anymore, and the market had revealed that fact…It was just like ‘gentrifying,’ but on a grand scale.”

Of course it all goes terribly wrong, but Martin is such an unpleasant jerk it’s kind of fun watching it happen.  Then you remember that this is the End of the World, and you see some of the characters you like die.  And here you are again, locked out of the bunker or the apartment or the hospital, locked away from the privileges of the rich.  How would you feel?  What would you do to save yourself, or a loved one?

Doctorow’s dedication and last sentence are nearly the same: “This isn’t the kind of fight we win, it’s the kind of fight we fight.”  Preach it, brother.


_____

Other news:
 
I’ve seen the cover for my new book Ivory Apples, and it’s terrific!  You’ll just have to take my word for it, though, because Tachyon wants to do a cover reveal on a bigger website that this one — and I can’t say I blame them.  I’ll let you know when they post it.

Right now the book itself is scheduled for September 15.
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The history of Mary, Queen of Scots is so filled with incident it can read like fiction.  Murders, spies, exile, Game of Throne-style intrigue — and, if you believe the romantics, a star-crossed love affair.  You'd think it would be impossible to make a dull movie out of her life… but, it seems, human ingenuity is endless.

Out of all this interesting material, the movie Mary, Queen of Scots concentrates on Mary’s relationship with her cousin, Elizabeth I, and especially Elizabeth’s envy of Mary’s beauty.  Since both characters are played by your average-looking Hollywood stars— i.e. people more stunning than anyone you’ve ever met in your life — the dialog frequently wanders off into the absurd.  “Oh, how I wish I was as beautiful as Mary,” Elizabeth says, staring at her perfect image in the mirror.  (Not an actual quote from the movie — I didn’t know I would hate it enough to write a review and didn’t take notes.  But it’s how her character is shown to feel.)  At the end, the filmmakers are reduced to showing Elizabeth in clown makeup: flat white skin, two circles of red blush, and a wig in a shade of magenta that would become popular among punks four hundred years later.  Yes, it’s true that she hid her smallpox scars with makeup, but there aren’t any portraits that show her looking like Bozo.

Part of the problem is that the movie has an agenda: Mary is concerned and caring, Elizabeth cold, brittle, envious, unfeeling.  In support of this, Mary sometimes sounds like a present-day liberal, in favor of homosexuality and cross-dressing and tolerance toward other religions.  Which would be fine if she wasn’t also shown as a devout Catholic, and if these weren’t all things the Church has come out strongly against.  If she truly thought so little of Catholic dogma, she might as well have become Protestant and saved herself and Scotland a lot of trouble.

Weirdly, though, the movie sort of ends up making Elizabeth’s point.  She didn’t get married because she thought that anyone she took as a husband would want to be more than just her consort, that he’d scheme to become king and maybe even try to get rid of her.  Then Mary does get married, to a man who wants to be more than her consort, and who schemes to become king… 

And, objectively, Elizabeth was a better queen, guiding her country through several rebellions, a change of religion, the plague, and the Spanish Armada, and into what most historians consider a Golden Age.  Meanwhile Mary lost her husbands, her throne, and, eventually, her life.  (Not a spoiler; the movie starts with her beheading.)  But we’re shown nothing about how Elizabeth ruled England, just her endless nattering about appearance.

Unlike the filmmakers, though, I don’t think it’s necessary to show Mary as a failure to make Elizabeth look better by comparison.  In my opinion Mary only had one major flaw, but it was a pretty big one for a ruler: she made terrible choices.  Meanwhile Elizabeth thought slowly and carefully about her decisions.  She agonized over Mary’s death warrant, partly on the principle that if you can kill one queen you can kill them all, and later she would say she was tricked into signing it, but the movie, with its agenda of Elizabeth bad, Mary good, shows none of this.  Her caution had her advisers tearing their hair out, but in the end she was shown to be right.  And hey — there’s a contrast that might make for an interesting movie.
Mar. 6th, 2019 03:56 pm

Hungarians

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Doug and I became interested in Hungary on our trip and got a book called Hungary: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat, by Paul Lendvai.  This struck me as a particularly Hungarian title, but I couldn’t say why until I started reading it.  So far I’ve found out:

1. Hungarians have nothing to do with the Huns -- the confusion comes from the similarity of names.  Still, some Hungarians like the idea of being related to Attila so much that they name their children Attila, or their city streets.  And I have to say I was disappointed too.  It just seems more exciting to be descended from Attila rather than some vague tribe somewhere between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains. *

2.  Hungarians have been overrun or ruled by just about everybody: Mongols, the Holy Roman Empire, Turks, Habsburgs, Nazis, Soviets.  (With a list like that you sort of wonder why the Incas hadn’t taken a crack at them as well.)  It explains, at least partly, why they’re so melancholy — their music, their literature, the fact that they don’t have a lot of jokes.  My mother once taught me a Hungarian nursery rhyme that went, “When I was very young, / I didn’t have a rocking horse.”  And they all seem to be like that, talking about what they don’t have, their disappointments in life.  As Arthur Koestler once said, “To be a Hungarian is a collective neurosis.”

3.  Franz Liszt was so proud of his Hungarian heritage that he started to learn Hungarian.  But he got to the fifth lesson, and the word “unshakability” — “tántorithatatlanság” — and gave up.

First of all, who starts off with “unshakability”?  I’ve been studying Spanish for years, and I’ve never seen it once.  (My Spanish dictionary doesn’t even have it, actually, just “unshakable” — “inconmovible”.)  But second, I can’t really blame him.  I didn’t even get as far as he did, just looked at a Hungarian dictionary once and decided that it wasn’t really that important to know what my mother and her friends were saying.

I wouldn’t be (half-) Hungarian if I didn’t register a complaint.  There’s no entry in the book’s index for “Roma.”  There are five references under “Gypsies,” but these lead to comments about Gypsies from other people and not the Roma themselves, and some of them are complaints that Hungarians and Roma have gotten mixed up in the public mind.  Lendvai talks a lot about how tolerant the Hungarians can be, how accepting of diversity (and he actually makes a good case, despite the guy who’s Prime Minister now), but this just shows, I guess, that you can never really know your own blind spots.  Which always makes me wonder what my own blind spots are…

——
* And that way, of course, Doug could come back from work and say, “Hi, Hun, I’m home!”

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Feb. 10th, 2019 11:21 am

Speling

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A short story of mine, “Paradise Is a Walled Garden,” is coming out in an anthology of alternate histories called Making History.  Now the editor, Rick Wilber, tells me that I spelled Al-Andalus wrong all the way through.  (“Al-Andulus”)

Arrggg!  (As I wrote to Wilber.)  This is embarrassing, especially since I do proofreading as well as writing.  And didn’t anyone at Asimov’s Science Fiction, where the story first appeared, think to check it?

(And of course in the first draft of this post I spelled Wilber wrong.  I give up.)
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The first thing you notice about Fire & Blood * is that it isn’t The Winds of Winter.  Of course I agree that George R.R. Martin should be able to write whatever he wants, and if his muse leads him to a 700-page book about the history of Westeros starting with Aegon the Conqueror then by all means he should go for it.  Though I’d really like to know what happened with Jon Snow I’m still waiting, as patiently as I can, for the next volume in the Song of Ice and Fire series. **

The second thing you notice is that 700-page thing.  And not only is the book very long, it only covers the first half of a three-hundred-year history, with another book to come.  So I guess that while we’re waiting to see IF JON SNOW IS STILL EVEN ALIVE Martin will be spending some more time working on the second half of the history.

Seven hundred pages would be great if Fire & Blood reached the heights of SoIaF, or even came close, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.  The blurb makes an inadvertently apt comparison to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, apt because Decline and Fall has long patches of boring as well.  You know the kind of thing: lists of the heirs of kings or emperors, and what happened to them, and who they married, and if/how they were killed, and how many children they had … 

So at times the history seems too long, but at other times, weirdly, it seems too short.  We don’t get any of the fascinating and complicated characters we’ve come to love or hate in SoIaF, none of their telling traits and foibles.  There’s no one with anything like Tyrion’s wit, or Dolorous Edd’s over-the-top pessimism, or Jaime’s quest for redemption, or Arya’s stranger and darker journey.  Just a picture of a king or queen, whether they ruled wisely or not, who their counselors were, what battles they fought.

The lack of spark In Fire & Blood, the way it failed to keep my interest, led me to a very unsound theory, which is that Martin didn’t write most of it.  It does have a lot of Martin’s tics and tropes, phrases like “much and more” and “little and less,” and “leal” for loyal and “wroth” for angry.  (This last always reminds me of the Marx Brothers’ movie Horsefeathers.  “Professor, the Dean is waxing wroth,” someone says.  Groucho: “Well, tell Roth to wax the Dean for a while.”)  But these are easy to copy, and there are some strange missteps as well.  A few times, for example, the writer uses the word “prevarication” to mean “procrastination.”  Then there’s “mayhaps,” which doesn’t appear in the Oxford English Dictionary (or my spellchecker, for that matter).  The OED does have “mayhap,” which it says comes from “it may hap,” or happen — but you can’t say “it may happens.”

Okay, so maybe “mayhaps” is a Westerosi word, not one that can be analyzed by the standards of English.  That still doesn’t explain some of the other problems with the writing.  “One wit named Rhaenyra ‘King Maegor with Teats,’” the author tells us, but, well, that isn’t very funny.  Or “Jason Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock, poured down out of the western hills,” which gives you a very strange picture of poor Jason.  There are cliches like “veil of tears,” which 1) seems more like an English phrase than something from Westeros, and 2) should be “vale of tears.”  Martin has always seemed too good a writer for clunkers like these — and would the creator of the Vale of Arryn get this spelling wrong?

I’m almost certainly being unfair here.  This is a history, after all, not an exciting, event-filled novel.  (Though how many histories are called something like Fire & Blood?  It sounds like another expose of the trump administration.)  People who like history, or world-building, will probably love it.  So will fans of military fantasy — there are a lot of battles — and of dragons.

And I’m almost certainly wrong about the authorship as well.  I’m sure Martin invented the history, and parts of Fire & Blood appeared earlier as stories written by him.  (But what if he only wrote some of it?  There are places that could be his, where the writing is lifted above the plodding, pedestrian style, where something interesting happens.)  And maybe I’m just hoping that this is the case, that Martin’s been busily writing The Winds of Winter this whole time.  Maybe someday I’ll even find out what happened to Jon Snow.

———

* All the copy for this book uses that “&.”  It looks weird to me, but what do I know?
** Yes, I know Snow is alive and well in the HBO series.  But as someone who enjoys writing, I won’t believe it until Martin says so.
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This morning we had an earthquake and a thunderstorm within an hour of each other.  People used to joke that California did too have seasons: earthquake, flood, fire, and mudslides.  We never used to get them at the same time, though.

One good thing about having a dog who doesn't scare much is that neither event seemed to worry her -- she woke up briefly, looked around, then curled up and went back to sleep.
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The ebook of my novel Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon is priced at $1.99 today at Open Road Media.  I tried to think of something new to say about this book, and came up with this:

Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon takes place in the Elizabethan era, and at one point my editor, David Hartwell, told me that he thought he had a famous ancestor who’d lived then, a man named Abraham Hartwell.  I had an idea I could surprise David by putting old Abraham in the book, so one day while I was a UC Berkeley library I looked him up in the Dictionary of National Biography.  (In those days I practically lived at the Berkeley libraries.)  It turned out that he had translated a book from Italian called A Report of the Kingdome of Congo, a Region of Africa And of the Countries that border rounde about the same.  Not only that, the library catalog said they had a copy of the book in their Rare Books collection, and that I could actually go look at it.

Sp I went to the Rare Books room.  I had to put everything that had a sharp edge (pens, spiral-bound notebooks) into a locker, and show them the inside of my purse, so they could check for…well, I’m not sure what they were checking for, scissors or blow torches or something.  Then they gave me several sheets of paper and a pencil, the only things I could take with me.  I felt a bit like an imposter; I wasn’t a student or professor, or really anyone who was going to do anything useful with this information.  I must not have looked suspicious, though, because they passed me through to the reading room.

A while later someone brought the book out.  It’s still the oldest book I’ve ever held, dating from the early 1600s.  It read more like a fantasy novel than a travel book, describing people who were eight feet tall, and others who had metal instead of teeth, maybe the first in a long list of misleading and exoticizing travel books in English.

The Dictionary of National Biography also said that Abraham Hartwell was an assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift.  The amazing thing was that I’d already written a character who was an assistant to Whitgift, though I hadn’t given him a name.  So instead of having to come up with a place to put Hartwell in the novel it turned out that he was already there — I just had to take out the word “assistant” and put in his name.

This book was a lot of fun to write.

——
I’d forgotten some of this and had to look up Abraham Hartwell on Wikipedia.  Strange to think that if Wikipedia had existed back then I never would have seen the Rare Book room, or held an ancient book about Africa.
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Thursbitch, by Alan Garner — The worst thing about this book is the title, which seems to refer to a disagreeable woman who visits every Thursday.  The only reason I picked it up was because it’s by Alan Garner, the man who wrote all those wonderful YA books like The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Owl Service and Red Shift, and I’m very glad I did.  Thursbitch turns out to be a place, and Garner is matchless at conjuring up a landscape, a writer who knows every ridge and brook and stone his characters encounter.

Jack lives in 1755 and travels far from home to bring back wonders for his family: his father and mother and wife or partner Nan Sarah.  He’s also something of a shaman; he cooks up a drink out of mushrooms and serves it to the townspeople, then becomes the central figure in a ritual involving the death and rebirth of a bull.

Ian and Sal live in the present, and are connected in ways large and small to Jack and Nan Sarah.  Sal is dying of some horrible progressive disease, and she wants to see as much of the area as she can, while there’s still time.  As with Garner’s earlier Red Shift, past and present here are fluid, one flowing into the other.  Sal’s journey and Nan Sarah’s echo and re-echo, and so do Ian’s and Jack’s, and each has something to say to the other.

I spent maybe too much time wondering about Jack’s religion.  At first, because of the bull, I thought it was Mithraism, brought over by the Roman soldiers stationed in England and then changed and modified over two millennia.  There are other symbols that fit, like bees and constellations (at least according to Wikipedia), but not all of them.  Now I think it comes partly from real rites and customs and partly from Garner’s imagination.  It’s utterly believable, though — if he made up the songs and myths and rituals scattered throughout the story, and I think he did, he’s even more amazing than I thought.

Spoonbenders, by Darryl Gregory — I considered putting this on last year’s list but for some reason I didn’t.  Then I kept thinking about it.  The thing that really impressed me was the plotting, which, because of a character who can see the future, has to go off like clockwork.  The character, Buddy, works slowly and meticulously toward an end that only he knows, and Gregory manages to make every part of his intricate plan come together as perfectly as a Rube Goldberg machine.

There’s more to the novel than just that, of course.  Almost everyone in the Telemachus family has some psychic ability, so you’d expect them to be famous or at least rich from investing in the stock market.  It doesn’t work that way, though — poor Buddy, for example, can barely figure out what time he’s in.  Another character, his sister Irene, can tell when someone’s lying, but this proves less helpful than you would think, especially when she’s on a date.  It’s an unusual take on psychic powers.

All of the characters are interesting and believable and true to life, if life included people with psychic powers.  And the book’s very funny in places.  I especially liked the scene where Irene applies for a job and realizes her prospective employer is lying to her.  It’s truly satisfying, and highly recommended for people who hate job interviews.

A Skinful of Shadows, by Frances Hardinge — Makepeace has a terrifying talent: she can feel the souls of the dead reaching out to her, trying to take her over.  Her family might be able to help, but her mother refuses to talk about them, hinting only that they’re dangerous.  Then her mother dies, and Makepeace goes looking for her father.

Her mother was right, of course.  Makepeace finds the family home, which has the wonderful name of Grizehayes, and the first thing they do is lock her in a tower.  And there’s something wrong with them, at least the older ones: “It feels…when I look into his eyes…it’s like when the dead things in my nightmares…” Makepeace says to her half-brother, the only person there who treats her kindly.  She knows she has to escape, but how?

The action moves swiftly, as Makepeace escapes from one danger only to find another one waiting.  She’s a terrific character, stubborn, resourceful, doing the best she can with what little information she has.  And she has one other thing going for her — early in her journey she attracted the soul of a dying bear, and now it lives within her.  I loved this part — there are any number of times in life where a fierce and powerful bear can be a great help.

Jackalope Wives and Other Stories, by Ursula Vernon — Some of these stories subvert a fairy tale or a folksong, or, in the case of “Godmother,” all the fairy tales at once.  Some sound like folktales passed down from one generation to the next.  Some cross the line between animal and human so effortlessly that you barely notice it when an animal starts to talk.  Sometimes the prose turns into poetry.  All the characters are worth knowing, even the witch who finds the company of bug-eating plants “congenial.”  All of these are tales from a true story-teller, beautifully told. (More here

The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead — The Intuitionist is a less ambitious and weighty book than Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, but I liked its strange charm.  It conjures up a world where, as I wrote, “elevators have all the allure and excitement of the automobile industry.”  Lila Mae Watson is the first black woman hired by the Department of Elevator Inspectors, and when an elevator she inspected crashes she decides to investigate.  “Along the way she discovers other groups and other conspiracies, friends and foes and spies, and an astonishing truth about the founding of elevator science.”  It’s a lot of fun, but it can be serious too, and like The Underground Railroad it has things to say about race and racism. (More here.) 
——
I don’t know why I only found five books to recommend this year — and one of them, as I said, I read the year before.  There were other books I liked, perfectly good books, but none of them gave me that feeling of reading a really great book, as if you’re watching someone balance across a gossamer tightrope, your mouth open in amazement at every step.

Dec. 10th, 2018 10:34 am

Rewrites

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I haven’t been posting much because I’ve gotten editorial comments on my novel, and I’m busy doing rewrites.  Much to my surprise, a lot of those comments are about the fact that this book is too long.  Surprise, because when I started writing pretty much the major complaint I got was that my novels were too short.  One person said, memorably, that when the curtain came down he still had some popcorn left.

These comments were so unexpected, in fact, that at first I didn’t want to believe them.  I even felt a sort of satisfaction — hey, I can too write long books!  It was only when I read specific notes that I realized that, yes, there were several places where I was in danger of boring the readers, or maybe putting them in a coma.  Characters repeated things that had happened earlier, though the readers, of course, had already seen these events and didn’t need to be told about them twice.  Characters got out of a car, walked up to a house, took their keys out, opened the door, and then stepped inside, none of which needed to be described.  Characters did things and talked about things that had nothing to do with the plot (though some of these, I still think, were character-defining moments and should stay).  Older strata of the novel thrust themselves into the final draft, to the point where characters ended up contradicting something they’d said earlier.

It’s enough to make me wonder why authors who get older, or people who get older, maunder on about irrelevant stuff.  You can see this in writers who are too famous to be edited — Heinlein, Stephen King,  Anne Rice — it seems to be their later books that take detours that end up as far from the original plot as, say, Pluto.  Of course maybe it’s only that they weren’t superstars when they published their earlier books, and they were forced to endure the indignities of editing.

A doctor friend says this kind of wandering is the result of “pre-frontal lobe disinhibition.”  That is, the pre-frontal lobe keeps us from saying and doing inappropriate things, and when we get older this function gets weaker.  I’ve started to use this to explain all kinds of things — all the way from dad jokes to strangers who tell you deeply inappropriate stories at parties to long weird-ass stream-of consciousness novels.  In one sense, and I really mean this, I’m glad I’m not famous enough to have my books go out unedited.
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Yesterday Doug and I went to a demonstration I’d signed up for earlier, one that would be called when trump crossed a line -- and he sure did that.  It was smaller than I’d hoped -- a lot of the crazy feisty Berkeley and Oakland protesters seemed to have moved out of the area.  And it was weirdly middle-of-the-road, with very little there you couldn’t have heard at a constitutional seminar, people talking about due process and the rule of law.  One man said, “I can’t believe we’re protesting the firing of Jeff. F**king. Sessions."
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1. It could be the last election you’ll be able to vote in.
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2. We need to keep the Affordable Care Act, and make it better.  We need to do something about climate change, or the world we know will be gone in two short decades.  We need to reunite kidnapped children with their parents, and make sure children are never put in cages again.  We need to stop letting corporations grow like tumors.  We need to stop corporate executives from getting obscene salaries and bonuses while their employees struggle, and start working for those employees instead.  We need to make sure the United States is fair to everyone, including minorities and women.
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3. More from Obviousland: We need to somehow stop the tribalism that’s tearing the country apart.  We need a president with dignity, someone who can bring people together and who listens to everyone, not just rich white men.  We need a president who doesn’t gleefully encourage hate crimes, like a kid playing with lit matches.  And since we can’t get that in this election, we need a Congress that can impress upon the president we do have that his behavior is unacceptable.
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4. It’ll be great seeing the look on Trump’s face if everyone votes against him.
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5. The obvious: We need a check on Trump.  We need to know what he owes to Russia, why he kowtows to Saudi Arabia, how much his business interests intersect with his political decisions, whether he’s mentally alert and stable enough to be a president at all.
lisa_goldstein: (pic#11299236)
7. Alternately, if your candidate wins by millions of votes, everyone will see how powerful his or her ideas are.  And it’ll be one election they can’t steal.
lisa_goldstein: (pic#11299236)
8. Your vote might be the one that puts your candidate over the top.

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