July 5th, 2007

yeff yahoo avatar

back from Ashland (The Ashland Report)

Well, those three days went fast. Monday was Crater Lake and the "deathmarch" (as E and A referred to it) from Rim City to Discovery Point (where "discovery" = "first white man sees the place and says something about it"). It is astounding to think that it used to be a mountain that then blew its top and collapsed. The water of Crater Lake is the most amazing shade of blue that it is indescribable - one must see it for oneself.

Tuesday was hanging out in Ashland, including going to Lithia Park and playing at the excellent playground which includes two new climbing toys: a big fake rock, and a pyramid of ropes. A thoroughly enjoyed both. C and E saw "As You Like It" in the afternoon and felt similar to me - the lead wasn't strong and was trying too hard, with too much style and not enough substance. Also, the two leads didn't really have any chemistry.

The Wallins arrived about 5 and we all went for dinner at Standing Stone. After that C and I, along with R Wallin, went to see "On The Razzle", a Stoppard farce dating from 1981. It was quite fun, the actors did a nice job, and make sure to pay attention or you will miss Stoppard's quick-paced wordplay. As a note, the similarity to "Hello, Dolly" is not a coincidence, it turns out they're both based on the same source, see here for details.

Wednesday morning was the Ashland Fourth of July parade, which was fun even though it was beginning to get hot. Two hours of bands, decorated cars, floats, buses - all the elements of a small-town 4th of July parade including all the candy the kids could grab.

Wednesday afternoon I took the kids (all five of them, E, A and the 3 Wallin Kids) to Science Works while C and the Wallins saw "Gem of the Ocean" in the afternoon. They enjoyed it as much as I did and I think we all agreed it was the best play we saw ("On the Razzle" was also fun, but since it was a farce it loses "Best Play" points).

Wednesday night we had dinner at Black Sheep> and then I saw "The Tempest" all by myself while everyone else went and had chocolate, waited for the bats, then watched the fireworks. "The Tempest" was rather good; I hadn't actually seen a production of it before so I was surprised at how short (compact) it was. Derrick Lee Weeden did a very good job as Prospero. I also really enjoyed the message of the play itself, about forgiveness instead of revenge.

Thursday morning was up, pack, brunch at Morning Glory, then the long, hot, hot, hot (Redding = 113, Sacramento = 105+) drive back. My gosh, it's hot here.

Friday we get household things done and get the kids packed because Saturday I ferry them out to San Antonio before coming back and packing for Hawaii. It's a brief glimpse of home in his month of travel.

Did a lot of puzzles and a lot of reading while in Ashland, but not a lot of writing. Shame on me. At least, some version of shame.
powerpuff utonium

Puzzles: GAMES September 2007

Crossword Puzzles
Letter Openers = 4:17 (one star, 15x15)
Small Measures = 6:19 (two star, 15x15)
Pencil Pointers = 9:56 (two star, embedded clues, 19x23)
Cheery O's = 11:54 (two star, 17x17)
Go With The Flow = 23:09 (three star, 21x21)

1-Seaman = 7:11
2-Petty Officer = 3:44
3-Ensign = 5:01

New GAMES, puzzles while on vacation. Nice times on last two Battleships.
yeff yahoo avatar

Comment: F&SF May 2007

Many of the stories in this F&SF were solid, but took negative (dystopian) terms at the very end that, in my opinion, diminished the story and made it less enjoyable for me.

My favorite was the novella "The Master Miller's Tale" by Ian R. MacLeod. It was a nice, engrossing, enjoyable story about a miller of flour and the twists and turns his life takes. I found it touching, with a strong sense of place and character. It could be a Hugo nominee for me.

I also enjoyed the novelette "Kaliedoscope" by K. D. Wentworth, the story of a woman who is moving through a multiplicity of realities and has to figure out what she wants and how she can keep hold of it.
yeff yahoo avatar

Comment: Asimov's June 2007

Almost all the stories in this Asimov's were good and solid and well-done in terms of character, setting and plotline.

My favorite story was the short story "Tideline" by Elizabeth Bear. It was a touching, nice, lyrical story about a robotic AI war machine that is working with a young boy to try to find a way to atone for its previous deeds. I rather liked it and felt it was well-done.

I have to make a comment on the novella "News from the Front" by Harry Turtledove. This alternate history story concerned a FDR who is waylaid in his attempts to run the post-Pearl Harbor WWII operations by an overly inquisitive and meddlesome press. I could only read this as an allegory implying that Bush's Iraq War has gone poorly because of the "interference" of the press. Turtledove's claim in the intro that "it is foolish to infer anything about a writer's politics from his or her work" I felt was silly and an attempt to distance ones' self from a highly political work. Really, what else is someone supposed to take from this story?

Beyond my issues with "News from the Front," I thought this was a good issue.
yeff yahoo avatar

Comment: Analog June 2007

Some good stories, definitely in the "Analog" model (as detailed by Stanley Schmidt in his intro column) of being based upon technical issues and problem solving, but I did enjoy the issue.

My favorite was the novella "The Sands of Titan" by Richard A. Lovett, a story about a man trying to save himself after he evacuates his ship and ends up on Titan. I thought the best aspect was the character of his embedded AI, which had the personality of a teenage girl. This created a parent-child, teacher-mentor aspect to their interaction that I really enjoyed. An outside candidate for a Hugo nomination.

Lovett also wrote a great "Science Fact" article about various asteroids and their characteristics. Great information, well-written, and with tons of idea germs that could help spark or flesh out stories.