RIP Vonda N. McIntyre

I saw this news several hours ago, but didn’t want it to come across as a terrible attempt at an April Fool’s joke. Vonda N. McIntyre, one of the founding members of Book View Cafe, has passed away. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two months ago. The news of her illness rocked everyone at BVC; Vonda was a bedrock of our organization, and we’re still figuring out how many of us it will take to fill the gap she leaves behind.

I never had the pleasure of meeting her in person, but she was the beta-reader for my New Worlds collections — a wonderful mix of encouragement and suggestions. And, of course, she was an amazing writer; tributes to her work are popping up all over the place. We will all miss her greatly.

New Worlds: Trash

I haven’t nearly finished addressing the topic of cleanliness in human societies — we haven’t even started on personal hygiene — but since the month is nearly over, this segment of the New Worlds Patreon will wrap up for now with trash. Next week, for the fifth Friday in the month, I’ll be back with a bonus essay!

BVC Book Blast!

My fellow Book View Cafe members and I are exceedingly pleased to announce that our site is now ensconced in a much better hosting platform that will not give us the problems we were having in December and January. In celebration — and to thank you, our lovely readers, who have been so patient through all those troubles — we are having a SITE-WIDE SALE this week, 20% off everything in the store. No coupon hoops to jump through; just load up your cart, and we’ll apply the discount at checkout.

I’ve built up a surprisingly large pile of titles with BVC over the years. If you’re interested in picking one of those up, you can choose from:

Plus a great many more! We have Brenda Clough’s time-travel trilogy The River Twice, Meet Myself There, and The Fog of Time (which came out during our outages and really took it in the teeth as a consequence), and all kinds of titles from Sherwood Smith, Vonda N. McIntyre, Judith Tarr, Laura Anne Gilman, Linda Nagata, Katherine Kerr, and many, many more. We have fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, literary things, funny things, sexy things, informative things — all kinds of stuff. And it’s all 20% off. So come browse our catalogue and help us celebrate our new home!

Miss Sherlock

You remember some years ago, when Elementary premiered and people were so excited about the casting of Watson as an Asian-American woman?

Meet Miss Sherlock.

It’s a Japanese adaptation — live-action, not anime — where both leads are women. Even now, it’s still vanishingly rare to watch a woman get to be the character so brilliant everybody puts up with her complete lack of manners; add the layer that it’s a Japanese woman, and the effect is kind of startling. She barges into someone’s apartment with Watson (or rather, Wato-san) chasing after her wailing “SHOES!!!!”; after Sherlock, with clear irritation, takes her shoes off like a civilized human being should, she winds up storming out barefoot while Wato-san chases her again yelling “SHOES!!!!”, this time for the opposite reason.

There are so many mystery shows on TV these days that any given one tends to live and die not by its clever plots, but by its characters and their dynamics. I really like both of the main actresses here. Wato-san is adorable, and though she doesn’t measure up to Sherlock’s genius, she gets to have a personal life outside of being Sherlock’s designated apologizer. And Sherlock herself is elegant and sharp, with a ferocious smile. But when a villain starts monologuing about their reasons for the crime, Sherlock collapses onto the nearest couch with her hands over her ears and an expression that says “poke me when they’re done.”

I also like several of the side characters. Inspector Reimon, the Lestrade stand-in, is nice but not all that memorable, but my sister and I instantly shipped with Wato-san with his sidekick, Shibata, who is perfectly competent and has no patience with Sherlock’s b.s. — quite understandable given that he often takes the brunt of it. By contrast, Hatano-san, aka Mrs. Hudson, manages Sherlock quite nicely. Mycroft isn’t notably Mycroft-y — he’s fine, but not more brilliant than his sister — and, well, I won’t say anything about Moriarty, because spoilers.

The plots themselves range around a bit in terms of quality. Mostly good, but toward the end of the season it falls down a bit; Sherlock commits one unforgivably stupid mistake, and the villain’s ability to mess with people gets cranked up beyond plausiblity. Also, it is occasionally more gruesome than I expected, so if that’s an issue for you, be warned. (Not slasher porn levels of gruesome, just “wow, I didn’t expect you to show that wound directly and then shove somebody’s hand in it.”) But I very much hope they get a second season, because I would happily watch another eight episodes of this.

We watched it on HBO’s app; not sure where else it might be available. For those who are interested. 🙂

New Worlds: Public Sanitation

This week’s New Worlds Patreon essay delves into that most fragrant of topics: sanitation! To bait you into clicking that link rather than going “ew, no thanks,” I will use my favorite piece of historical trivia on this topic, which is that there was a time and place in history where human waste was so valuable, people literally stole it. To find out where, when, and why, head on over to Book View Cafe!

Caveat clicker

Apparently several of my old blog posts just appeared on people’s Dreamdwidth friendslists. All of them reference gambling, and had spam links inserted into them that were NOT there before. From this I conclude that my account was hacked somehow.

I’ve changed my password and edited those links out of the posts. But if you’ve seen things posted from me today that aren’t “On Cruising,” “Wheel of Time side post: On Women,” and “A Memory of Light Liveblog Part 2,” please let me know, so I can go clean them up. And if you’re getting comments suddenly on old posts of yours, check to see if they’ve been interfered with, too.

Book pre-orders and post backlogs

With the second year of the New Worlds Patreon having wrapped up, it’s time for it to emerge from its chrysalis as a beautiful butterfly ebook! New Worlds, Year Two: More Essays on the Art of Worldbuilding is now up for pre-order at Amazon US and UK, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Google Play, and Kobo. iTunes and Indigo will follow shortly. The book will be out on April 2nd!

NEW WORLDS, YEAR TWO by Marie Brennan

Also, a glitch with the plug-in I use to crosspost from my website to Dreamwidth recently glitched. Everything still crossposted . . . but on a private setting, which means none of you could see it. So if you missed it, the posts were, in sequence:

Goat cheese

The other day I was at the grocery store, and the cheese counter had samples out of something. Another customer was standing between me and the actual blocks of cheese the samples were taken from, so I had no idea what they were, but I went ahead and popped one in my mouth.

Train of thought: “Oh, wow, this is amazing, this is — UGH BLEAGH IT’S GOAT CHEESE GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GET IT OUT.”

I have no idea what’s going on chemically with goat cheese, but invariably I have this type of reaction, where for a second or two it’s lovely, and then I get hit by a freight train of something so unpleasantly pungent, it lingers with me for a good five minutes afterward. Much as with cilantro, I don’t think I could train myself into liking it if I tried for a year: when that taste kicks in, my brain utterly rejects the possibility that what I’m eating is food.

Those of you who like goat cheese — is that pungency a selling point for you? Or does it not even hit you in the same way? (Wikipedia describes goat’s cheese as “tart,” which is not remotely the taste I get off it.) I’m wondering if this is anything like the “supertaster” deal where some people can’t taste phenylthiocarbamide or propylthiouracil, while for others (I’m one) they are unspeakably bitter. I know my reaction to cheese in general is linked to the fact that I have a very strong sense of smell; your stinkier classes of cheese are Right Out for me because all I wind up tasting is the stink. But this wasn’t a strong-smelling cheese, and it still bowled me over with that unpleasant funk two seconds after I bit down. So I’m kind of curious what’s going on there, chemically speaking, and whether the experience is just qualitatively different for people who like the stuff.