WorldCon Withdrawals

Despite what my husband thinks, I have not over-dosed on science fiction since last Wednesday when the 74th World Science Fiction Convention (commonly referred to as WorldCon) arrived for the second time in Kansas City, Missouri.  MidAmeriCon II ended yesterday and of course the highlight of those five days was the Hugo Awards Ceremony held Saturday evening.

20160817_073751In fact, I sincerely hoped when I woke up this morning it wouldn’t be to the harsh reality of a Monday morning workday.  Ah, but life is cruel and the alternate dimension I’d enjoyed for five days evaporated into the dreary doldrums of gainful employment.  Well, not completely dreary.  Perhaps dreaded would be more like it, since I knew I’d be walking into some ‘hot potatoes’ once I strapped myself to my desk.

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Hugos in the Heart of America

I am attending WorldCon this week since it’s basically in my backyard. I’ll be tweeting highlights and photos throughout the con. I’ve also signed up as a volunteer so I’ll be behind the curtain so to speak most mornings. Follow me on Twitter @mossjon to see my updates and outtakes.

The 2016 Hugo Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, August 20, 2016 at 8 PM Central Daylight Time in the Kansas City Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom in Kansas City, Missouri. The Hugo Awards web site will once again offer text-based coverage of the Hugo Awards ceremony via CoverItLive, suitable for people with bandwidth restrictions. For…

via 2016 Hugo Ceremony Coverage Plans — The Hugo Awards

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Writer’s Shift – L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

This time around it’s Modesitt’s thoughts on how the publishing industry has changed over the last forty years. Yes, he’s been cranking out great books since before my eldest son was born.

Over the past few years I’ve been asked how the field of writing has changed since I was first published, a question I suspect comes up because I’ve managed to stay published for a long enough time that I might have some perspective on any possible changes affecting writers, in particular. Some of the changes…

via Writers’ Shift — L.E. Modesitt, Jr. – The Official Website

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The Self-Made Myth — L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

I always savor the wisdom of Modesitt and I hope you don’t mind that I occasionally want to spread it around a bit with a reblog post here:

It’s always baffled me how so many successful, usually white, usually male, individuals claim that they alone were close to solely responsible for their success, discounting or ignoring so many factors that contributed to that success. One factor that’s so often discounted is simply the fact that it’s easier to take risks if you’ll still…

via The Self-Made Myth — L.E. Modesitt, Jr. – The Official Website

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Grande Finale to a Grand Weekend

I’m amazed at how much I accomplished this past weekend, especially considering my husband had major surgery less than three weeks ago.

Friday Evening

TalkingTolkienTwoTowersFriday night was our first venture out on a ‘date’ since the surgery.  I signed up for a free lecture and screening at the National World War I Museum and Memorial entitled “Talking Tolkien: The Two Towers.”  We arrived about fifteen minutes early to enjoy some hors d’oeuvres and drinks.  We retired to the auditorium and waited a few minutes.  At ten minutes or so after the hour, the lecturer strolled up to the podium and gave a meandering introduction of upcoming events in a clear effort to stall.  He wanted to give the people in the lobby time to finish eating.

His lecture on Tolkien’s experiences during the Battle of the Somme was quite brief and rushed, not at all what I had been hoping for.  He further devolved into a montage of photographs from the Museum’s collection delivered in the manner of a television show’s “Previously on …” wrap of the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring.  You could clearly see where Tolkien (and probably Peter Jackson) got his inspiration for scenes from Middle Earth and the conflict immortalized in the Lord of the Rings.   After the lecture, the screening of The Two Towers began, for which Terry and I stayed only about thirty minutes before deciding the movie viewing experience was better at home.

Once back home, I decided to break out the Celestron C8 I had recently borrowed from my astronomy club.  Despite dire predictions, the sky remained perfectly clear so I looked forward to an evening of planetary observing, since all five visible planets are ripe for the plucking at this time of year.  I got everything attached to the tripod and manhandled it outside to my lower patio, giving it a quick leveling and orientation north so I could get through a polar alignment swiftly.  Then I just had to wait for darkness to fall enough for me to see Polaris with my naked eye.  Continue reading

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Taking the Fifth

Back in late March, I wrote a post about searching for an Austen audiobook I needed to read for a book club discussion.  At the end of that post, I promised a followup post on watching a movie using Hoopla and Google Chromecast.  I did search diligently for a movie to watch via Hoopla, one that I hadn’t already seen and that was even remotely appealing.  I watched two movies from Hoopla:  The Girl on the Train and Drive Hard.  I wasn’t overly impressed with either of them.  I searched and searched and determined that Hoopla’s catalog is just not for me, at least for movies.

I’m my own worst enemy though.  I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for years, both Blu-Rays and streaming.  I’m a snob when it comes to video quality as well.  For example, I rarely watch anything provided by my Dish Network subscription because they compress their “HD” to such a point that it might as well be “SD” quality.  If it’s not at least Blu-Ray quality, I’d rather not watch it.  So anything worth seeing, I’ve either gotten the Blu-Ray from Netflix or I’ve bought it through Google Play.

So Hoopla’s movie and television catalog is dated or full of not-so-highly rated offerings.  i could say similar things for Netflix streaming, but at least there are occasional gems to be had and the television shows available on Netflix are only about a year behind, except for their own flagship shows of course.

But Hoopla has more than just movies and shows.  It has music (and ebooks and audiobooks and comics and … well a whole lot more).  This will become significant in a moment.

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Reading the 1941 Retro Hugo Best Novel Nominees – Kallocain by Karin Boye

I finished Kallocain early this morning.  Finished is too final a word.  I doubt this book will ever fully leave me.  I should give this book four or five stars, but it’s hard to ‘lie’ to myself (as the narrator so aptly does until nearly the end) that I liked or loved this book.  It’s dystopian ficion – not an overly likeable or loveable subgenre of science fiction. Even so, decades later, we as a society still devour and crave stories that allow us to peer through a mirror darkly at what might grow if we nurture security at the expense of liberty.

Often compared to Huxley’s Brave New World (published eight yours before Kallocain) and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (published eight yours after), and having read both of those famous classics, I put forth that Boye’s Kallocain is more insidious, more disturbing than either.  Leo Kall invents a drug which facilitates the policing of thoughts, the ‘holy grail’ of any totalitarian police state.  The tragedy is Kall’s complete almost innocent faith in his Worldstate while his closest fellow-soldiers (wife, supervisor, test subjects and high ranking officials) exhibit humanity (laudible traits and those less laudible ones that bear fruit in totalitarian regins) and individuality.  Kall wishes to eradicate these treasonous thoughts in others and so aids less scrupulous officials in legislating and condemning them.  Once he achieves a modicum of his own power and acts upon his fears, Kall beings to regret, doubt takes root, innocence toward the benevolence of the Worldstate crumbles and his conscience awakes.

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