nora at inkstain

November 29th, 2009

the best podcasted short fiction of this year

Posted by nora in art, podcasts, science fiction

So the end of the year is coming up and I haven’t written anything here in ages. A couple people I know have been asking for lists of good short fiction from podcasts, so here’s the stuff I’ve listened to in the past year and thought was good enough to pass along. It’s all genre fiction– science fiction and fantasy– but don’t dismiss it because of that. They’re not in any particular order.

  • Jesus Christ Reanimator by Ken Macleod. (story starts at 49:50) I really want to like StarShipSofa more than I do. They have really good fiction picks, and a lot of the other stuff is interesting, but I find the genre history sort of hit or miss, and a lot of the fact articles are just not things I’m interested in. It’s worth skipping to the main story on most of their casts, though, and this is a perfect example of a really good story choice. It takes a really good, half-serious look at what would happen if Jesus came back– would people think he was a fraud? An alien? Their savior? It’s a weird and interesting look at religion in general, and the character of Jesus is really well done and likable. I also absolutely love Matthew Wayne Selznick’s voice and narration style.
  • A Hard Rain at the Fortean Cafe by Lavie Tidhar. A whirlwind of the conspiracy theories meet noir styled heroes narrated by Amelia Airhart.
  • The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford. (story starts at 9:39) A fascinating story about intense synesthesia. This is an exceptionally well-crafted story, with a main character who is totally alienated from society by what his parents and doctors see as hallucinations, a mental illness. He’s likeable and surprisingly identifiable. The images the story paints are amazing.
  • Sinner, Baker, Fablist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster. (trigger warning for sexual assault) This is a hard story to summarize– it’s about people who literally become the masks they wear, but it’s much more than that. It’s one of the most beautifully crafted stories I’ve ever read. It’s creepy as hell, too, so check it out if that’s your thing.
  • N-Words by Ted Kosmatka. Neanderthals are cloned and racism becomes, uh, an issue. This is narrated by the widow of a neanderthal that has been killed in racist violence. Kim the Comic Book Goddess’ narration here is powerfully understated; she captures the mood of the story perfectly.
  • 26 Monkeys, Also, the Abyss by Kij Johnson. This is one of those stories where you create something totally weird, put a normal character in it, and see how they react. The main character is an ennui-filled woman who purchases a bus full of monkeys that dissapear into a bathtub during a magic show that she takes around to various carnivals. It’s strange and beautiful and well-written. The main character is interesting and surprisingly pragmatic. Also this story taught me the word “lagniappe”.
  • Summer in Paris, Light from the Sky by Ken Scholes. (trigger warning: rape) An alternate universe story where Hitler isn’t a bad guy. Creepy. Haunting.
  • Rapunzel by Tanith Lee. A revisioning of the classic story of Rapunzel. It’s a romance, and a very sweet one. It’s one of those stories where you get to the end and everything gets put together and makes sense, which I always find satisfying.
  • One Paper Airplane Graffito Love Note by Will McIntosh. A strange romance story set in a world very like our own about a woman whose life becomes a part of movies. It’s beautifully written.
  • Castor on Troubled Waters by Rhys Hughes. A hilarious shaggy dog story– the whole thing is a convoluted excuse to get away with avoiding paying a bet. This is another one where everything comes together at the end.
  • Captain Fantasy and the Secret Masters by Tim Pratt. A strange superhero story with fascinating characters– there’s not much more I can say without spoiling it. Again, I adore Matthew Wayne Selznick’s voice.
  • Hell is the Absence of God by Ted Chang. This is another sort of fantasy story about religion– it’s set in a world where angels appear regularly and it is easy to tell if souls go to heaven or hell. It has a really interesting cast of characters who are coming to terms with their ideas of faith. It’s beautifully written and deeply sad.
  • In the House of the Seven Librarians by Ellen Klages. A very sweet story about a child raised by seven semi-feral librarians in a library that is cut off from society in all ways. It’s a really nice growing-up story.
  • Huntress by Chris Lester. I don’t know who it was that said that they could listen to Leann Mabry reading the phone book and be totally entranced, but I agree with them. This is a really good story, though– the narration just makes it… unbearably sexy. It’s about a vampiress looking for willing prey, but not in, you know, a creepy way.
August 15th, 2009

Mario Kart Love Song

Posted by nora in Uncategorized

Thank god for Metafilter.

July 23rd, 2009

so yeah

Posted by nora in personal

I made a necklace for The Boy and was helping him put it on while we were standing by the Redondo Loop and someone yelled “SOMEBODY’S GONNA GET SOME” out the window of their car.

Needless to say, this was hilarious.

July 15th, 2009

going to Albuquerque

Posted by nora in Uncategorized

I’ve just spent a few days on the East Coast, and damn am I tired.

I was told by a Connecticut resident that I have the sort of slow, mellow voice of a native New Mexican, and I guess I do. I realize it’s partially the voice that does it– out here, everyone talks like they have to be somewhere. It gets tiring, for me, just being around that for a few days.

The trees are beautiful, and I saw a gorgeous sunset while I was out here– with beautiful stripes of purple going across the clouds. It was just a tiny bit of it above the trees, though. The trees in Connecticut make me feel trapped, though they are beautiful, and I love the smell of places like this– I was staying in the tiny town of Oxford, which was gorgeous and huge and totally underpopulated and full of liquor stores. I like small towns like that– to visit, at least– but they do feel sort of weird, compared to what I’m used to.

I get homesick really quickly when I go away. Albuquerque really is my favorite place in the world. I make fun of it all the time, but it’s beautiful. I’m not really addicted to the green chile, and I don’t terribly miss the sunsets, but the open space, the ability to get out if I need to– that I miss. More than that, it’s the attitude, the slowness of life.

I spent some time in New York when I was out there, and it was, well, cool. We saw MOMA, and some of the other cool shit out there. We ate at good restaurants, bought cheap shit in Chinatown. It was fun to visit, but I missed familiarity. (I was really good at getting taxis, though.)

June 18th, 2009

meet the new boss

Posted by nora in personal, politics

I’m disenchanted.

I know, I know. He’s a politician, right? They never keep campaign promises.

But all of you know how this process goes. I saw Napolean Dynamite months after it had been out of theaters, after it became a cult phenomenon, knowing that it wouldn’t be as good as everyone said it would be. But I hoped, you know?

And then it turned out to just be okay. Overhyped, though.

And so it seemed that this was different. And I think it’s understandable that I wanted to believe all the buildup during the election. Fierce advocacy. And I know he’s doing better than McCain would’ve.

This is the other shoe that I knew would drop. But it still hurts like hell when you hit the ground, even if you’ve braced yourself for the fall. So today, I’m sad.

June 12th, 2009

after the bombs dropped

Posted by nora in art, comics, fiction, poetry, science fiction

Joey Comeau usually does get it right.

June 6th, 2009

so it seems I’m back

Posted by nora in politics

Happy Birthday, Griswold v. Conneticut.

March 6th, 2009

another link roundup

Posted by nora in art, fiction, zombies

Miss me? Go read some stuff. It will dull the ache a bit.

Ferrett: Lessons From Mr. Serena:

They started bringing toys – stink bombs they threw at me, snapped underneath my nose and forced me to smell. Twisted bits of black iron they called “scorpions” that sprang shut when they mashed it against my flesh. Some of them pretended to be my friend, simply so they could get me to say stupid things, which I always did.

If it was consistent, I probably would have grown numb. But some days they didn’t care. It was like an evil slot machine, where the jackpot was half an hour of shoving brutes.

Mur Lafferty: “Hey Now Everybody Now” (a part of her Fingertips project, which is brilliant even to people unfamiliar with the They Might Be Giants album that inspires it)

I rubbed his head affectionately, noting that his hair needed washing. Silly mother thoughts in the midst of a crisis – sure, we had a very real zombie situation, but I was worried someone would notice my son’s greasy hair.

“I know, baby,” I said. “Mommy can’t get you anything to eat right now, but soon. I promise.”

February 17th, 2009

“Why are you friends with the Mayor?” “So I can send him pokemon, duh!”

Posted by nora in internet drama, politics, wikiality

Some of you may remember when I began annoying the Mayor on Facebook.

Well, after posting one too many sarcastic remarks on his status updates, it seems he has defriended me. He also defriended my friend Devin, who suggested something that has since been deleted about how he can’t make the economic stimulus work for Albuquerque and he should have a drink and get caught running a stoplight instead.

Did I mention I have the best friends ever?

Oh well. I guess it could’ve been worse.

February 9th, 2009

of course he’s good in bed, he’s Edward Cullen

Posted by nora in fiction

Alright, so in most books that have sex scenes (I’m not talking about erotica or NC-17 fanfic or whatever, I’m talking about general books that feature sex), all the characters have really, really good sex. Every time. Even the first time. Including if both parties involved are virgins.

This is something that happens specifically in stories where characters lose their viriginities– the only story I’ve known that has a realistic portrayal was one of Orson Scott Card’s Earthwhatever novels*.

Impressionable children that are not learning about sex from porn and prefer to read something more romantically enclined are going to be learning about it from fiction. (Some people are going to learn about it from their friends, but very few HS students are willing to tell their friends that oh yeah they had sex for the first time last weekend and they were real bad at it.)

These unreasonable expectations are one of the byproducts of the weird angle society looks at sex, and, judging from conversations with friends as well as the gigantic piles of advice columns I read on a weekly basis, people go into sex expecting something very different from what they get. (This is people of both/all genders/orientations too.)

Society as a whole seems to have pretty much figured out that the non-sexual, romantic bits of love don’t work in the way they do in the movies, and girls don’t honestly have the expectation that boys are going to stand outside their windows with boom boxes to woo them.

So, here’s the question: Do authors have a responsibility to portray sex, particularly in loss of virginity scenes (and we’re seeing more and more of these in YA literature of all genres– if you don’t believe me, go pick up Little Brother by Cory Doctorow or Tamora Pierce’s The Will Of The Empress, which features both lesbians and casual straight sex), in a way that is more realistic than they do? Or is it like all parts of a story, where it’s okay to leave out the boring parts, since most of the time no one cares what the characters ate for breakfast and how often they poop?

Bonus: Is this different for YA authors as opposed to with everyone else? What about with people writing about gay characters?

*This terrifies me, because OSC is a batshit crazy homophobic asshat. Those books are actually the books of Mormon rewritten in scifi format. Not that that makes them any less well written, just… weird. Especially with how they deal with the gay character.

Disclaimer related to the title: I haven’t actually gotten far enough in the Twilight series to know if Edward Cullen is good in bed. I’m assuming. I mean, he sparkles.

Next Page »