Things I have found interesting recently

Sonya Taaffe has a brilliant story in the most recent installment of Ideomancer, “ζῆ καὶ βασιλεύει.” Absolutely magnificent.

Arkady Martine has an excellent story in Strange Horizons, “City of Salt.”

Beth Bernobich is Kickstarting a novelette, Nocturnall.

Foz Meadows has an amazing essay on GIFsets and the changing face of criticism.

Speaking of Foz, she encouraged me into watching the first season of The 100, out of which – among other things – came this exchange. Which amused me.

The Washington Post has an article on an early medieval Viking female burial that included a ring with “For Allah” inscribed on it in Kufic script.

I binge-watched all four seasons of Legend of Korra and should probably stop looking at art of Korra and/or Asami like these prints at some point. (But not yet.)

I want to go to this production of the Bakkhai. It is unlikely I will be able to afford it, especially since it is in London. But NEW ANNE CARSON TRANSLATION.

My brain is slowly growing back into something akin to the ability to focus. I can read books this week. It is a welcome development.


So many pretty books.

So many pretty books.


Ahem. Courtesy of Gollancz, Gavin Smith’s THE AGE OF SCORPIO and A QUANTUM MYTHOLOGY, and Alastair Reynolds’ POSEIDON’S WAKE. Courtesy of Talos, Eli K. P. William’s CASH CRASH JUBILEE. Courtesy of Tor Books, Will Elliott’s SHADOW, Ellen Datlow’s THE DOLL COLLECTION, and V.E. Schwab’s A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC. And courtesy of Little, Brown and Company, Kate Elliott’s COURT OF FIVES.

I, er, may have read most of that last already. IT IS AMAZING.

Review copies: Carey, LeGuin, Wolfe, Sanderson, Deas, Cargill, Hunt

Eight Gollancz paperbacks.

Eight Gollancz paperbacks.

Courtesy of Gollancz, Ursula K. LeGuin’s THE WORD FOR WORLD IS FOREST; Linda Carey, Louise Carey, and M.R. Carey, THE HOUSE OF WAR AND WITNESS; Gene Wolfe, THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN Vol. 1: SHADOW AND CLAW; Stephen Hunt, IN DARK SERVICE; Stephen Deas, THE SPLINTERED GODS; C. Robert Cargill, QUEEN OF THE DARK THINGS; and Brandon Sanderson, WORDS OF RADIANCE, parts one and two.

The Deas is the third book in a series. The Cargill is the second, and the Sanderson is… technically the second book, or the third and fourth volumes, I think. I don’t know why they sent me so many blokey fantasies – and not even the first books in series!

RIP Sir Terry Pratchett

“Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.” – Small Gods.

A great light has gone out of the world of literature. My most sincere condolences to his friends and family.


Review copies: Walton, Cambias, Lindskold

Three, from Tor Books.

Three, from Tor Books.

Courtesy of the kind people at Tor Books: Jo Walton’s THE PHILOSOPHER KINGS, Jane Lindskold’s ARTEMIS INVADED, and James L. Cambias’s CORSAIR.

Since handing in my PhD thesis, I’ve been wandering around in a kind of aimless, bereft fog. My brain broke sometime in the last month: in the past few days, glimmerings of regrowth have begun to appear – I no longer want to run screaming from the thought of reading a novel, or really anything longer than a blogpost, although “enthusiasm for the prospect” is still a ways off – but physically, mentally, emotionally, I am so tired.

It is very bizarre. I am completely off-balance. It feels almost like the state I was in after my near-nervous-breakdown… ha, it’s nine years ago this month, practically, after I had permission to stop (I did my first year of university twice: the second time on a medical repeat) and try to learn how to live with myself again. A curious blankness; a peculiar anomie; the theoretical knowledge that with enough time and proper food and sleep and exercise one might feel real again instead of frustratedly hollow, the ghost of one’s own self haunting ruined passages. But theoretical knowledge is only theoretically comforting. Time has lost its meaning: I can’t conceive of a space beyond the end of a week, cannot conceptualise the shape of so long a time as a month. (If I hadn’t had this happen nine years ago, I’d be more worried: back then it took me about two months to think more than a couple of days ahead again.) My head and my muscles and my very bones ache, semi-constantly, and the physical reflex of anxiety – tightness in the diaphragm, shortness of breath, a tingling in the muscles that presages the desire to run or fight – comes at random moments in my day.

I don’t know if this is normal. I do know I’ve passed through something similar before, so I have to believe I will pass through this and feel more like I used to on the other side, eventually.

Meanwhile I am filling out government paperwork, in order not to starve while I try to find work… give us this day our daily forms, and deliver us from waiting in ticketed lines.

Finishing the thesis is, in case you’re interested, why my column at is presently on a break and why this space has been pretty quiet for the last year or so.

Genevieve Valentine’s PERSONA (Saga, 2015)

So my brain is broken right now, right, on account of me finishing a PhD thesis. For the last several weeks, I have barely been able to make myself read: for the last fortnight, I really haven’t.

Except for PERSONA. I looked at the first few pages of PERSONA and found I could not stop. This is an excellent book. It is, so far, the only book I have been able to read since my brain broke. It is the book that signifies to me my brain might not be permanently broken, and the malaise that afflicts my every thought of reading will pass, because once I started reading it I just kept going.

Good book. Excellent book. Very different to Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club but just as easy to read. Recommend highly.

Brain broken. But maybe not forever.

In honour of submitting my PhD thesis

…I got a haircut.

I hadn’t had a haircut for several months. Here is a picture of me from Wednesday, prior to THESIS DONE:



Here is a picture of me from today, after submission and haircut:



It ended up a little more butch than I really meant for – this is what happens when you go into a barbershop and say CUT IT ALL OFF: they take you at your word, unlike most ladies’ hairdressers – but it will grow out fluffy-floppy again within a month, and meanwhile the lightness is delightfully freeing.

A significant chunk of my life has come to… well, not an end, precisely, because ahead there is still viva voce and the report of the internal and external examiners, corrections and – if I’m fortunate – commencements, before I get to call myself Dr. Me.

But definitely a sort of period.

It’s a weird feeling.

Bad practice from Reads Print and Design, Dublin

ETA: The matter was resolved to my satisfaction and I didn’t even have to argue. Good practice in the end.

I write this blog post to document my interactions with Reads Print and Design company, Dublin, in the matter of printing and binding four copies of my thesis.

Yesterday morning I went to the Reads website, filled out the form:

Reads thesis printing order screenshot take 1

Reads thesis printing order screenshot take 2

received the quote shown in the screenshot, E62.34, for the printing and binding of four copies of my thesis.

I entered my payment details and was charged that amount. At 1100hrs Thursday I received an order summary/confirmation number by email. At 1232hrs I received by email a confirmation of when my order would be ready to collect.

At 1234hrs I received a second email, the text of which was:

“Your thesis order went through for only one set of black and white copy.

So the other 3 sets were not paid.

You will have to pay on collection.”

My email requesting clarification received an answer:

“You have payed for the binding, handling fee and 4 copies of the colour pages and one copy of black and white.

The other 3 copies of black and white are not payed for.

Your total should have been €124.26

You payed €62.34″

This morning I returned to the Reads Thesis Printing and Binding order form on the website and discovered that an extra box to fill in has been added overnight.

But I have screenshots. From my screenshots, would you conclude, as a reasonable person, that I was misled as to the price of the service on offer? Would you consider that it might fall under the heading of a misleading commercial practice “likely to cause the average consumer to make a transactional decision that the average consumer would not otherwise make?”

So today I am going to go to the business premises to pick up my order. If they try to charge me more than the quoted sum initially charged – well, I’m almost looking forward to writing a formal letter of complaint (with supporting documentation) to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

I have finished my thesis and the really truly final deadline is still a month off. I have time.