Memeage

Jun. 11th, 2011 11:43 pm
vr_trakowski: (Default)
• Comment with "Come at me, bro"
• I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can get to know you better.
• Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
• Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions.
 

Because [livejournal.com profile] mingsmommy was kind to me... 

1. You are, bar none, one of the most talented and creative writers I've ever read. Where do you find inspiration? 


*blush*  Thank you! 

Well, it's more like inspiration finds me, occasionally using bloodhounds and searchlights.  I'm very intuitive that way, which sounds good but can be a real hassle; I usually have to wait for the idea to smack me upside the head.  It's not that I don't sometimes come up with a plot through deliberate "what if"; but the best ideas usually come out nowhere and demand to be written down. 

These days, inspiration seems to be nurtured by a really intriguing movie or TV show, but sometimes I read something and think "hey, what if it went this way instead?"  

2. Obviously, you are incredibly well read. That somehow makes me feel justified in making this a two part question. What is your favorite novel? Under what circumstances did you first read it? 


Oh, whine, you're going to make me choose?  :P  There isn't just one!  I love the Chronicles of Narnia for its hope, and The Secret Garden because my mother read it to me after my brother was born, and the Secret Country trilogy because it's what I and my friends wanted to do as kids, and the Tale of the Five series because it's just fantastic.  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Call of the Wild were two of my early favorites.  I wore out a copy of The Wounded Sky traveling across the U.S. and back when I was fifteen.  The Rains of Eridan.  Shards of Honor.  Crimson Roses.  Finn Family Moomintroll.  Robin.  The Spellkey, read at my grandparents' in California, along with Silver Woven in My Hair--had to get a long lease from the library for thoseDragonflight, which I've probably read over a hundred times, and was given to me by my mother's best friend, who also introduced me to the wonder of Pilgrimage and The People (see Ingathering for all their stories), among others.  

I suppose if my apartment were burning, the first thing I'd throw out the window would be They Stand Together because I had such trouble getting a copy, but it's not a novel and it's probably easier to replace now.  

3. I always say we shouldn't have regrets because even the things we see as mistakes or missteps have led us to where we are, and where we are is exactly where we're supposed to be. But, sometimes, I do wish I'd done a couple of thing differently. What is something like that for you?


I would have declined the opportunity to have a boyfriend, way back in my sophomore year of college.  Some people may be able to make themselves fall in love, but I am not one of them, and I knew it then and went ahead anyway.  I hurt him, and that is something for which I have not forgiven myself. 

There's all kinds of excuses for it--I was young, love's always a risk, it was a necessary experience for both of us--but I knew better than to behave like that, and did it anyway.  It still makes me a little sick.  

4. Would you rather cook or clean?

Cook, most definitely!  Or bake, if given the choice.  Not that I'm particularly skilled at any of it.  One of my small fantasies is to make enough money to afford a cleaner.  

5. What is the oddest thing that ever happened to you? 

Difficult to say!  Probably it's a tie between knowing ahead of time that my brother would fall into my grandparents' pond when we were kids, and the whole haunted dorm thing during college.  Oh, and there's the bit with my mother's earrings, but I promised her I wouldn't tell that story.  Nah, the other two are weirder anyway. 

Thanks for indulging me!  ;) 

vr_trakowski: (pages)
I'm not sure why I enjoy a good post-apocalyptic story so much, but I do have a taste for them, with the excellence of Michaela Roessner's Vanishing Point being a high bar (though, strictly speaking, it's not exactly post-apocalyptic).*  

And I adore H.M. Hoover.  Her books were probably the first sci-fi I read, and they are still solid despite almost forty years' advances in technology.  They're not all gems, but the balance is heavy on the side of quality. 

Children of Morrow is definitely post-apocalyptic, and a terrific story of outcast kids escaping from hostiles to a better community.  Tia and Rabbit are vivid characters and the world is described well--it's desperately lonely, and bleak enough to make one want to go out and mend the ecology on the spot. 

Unfortunately, the sequel Treasures of Morrow doesn't deliver quite as well.  It synopsizes too much, skimming over the complexities of Morrow with just a few glimpses, and breaks down in characterization when the kids return to their original home.  It's not a bad book, but it suffers in comparison with the well-rounded Children.  

Still, I can recommend them both.  Read the first, and enjoy; if you like it enough, read the second. 


* I am aware of the deep flaws of her Walkabout Woman.  Vanishing Point is much better, and to my possibly ignorant eyes avoids such errors.  
vr_trakowski: (pages)
I'm not sure why I enjoy a good post-apocalyptic story so much, but I do have a taste for them, with the excellence of Michaela Roessner's Vanishing Point being a high bar (though, strictly speaking, it's not exactly post-apocalyptic).*  

And I adore H.M. Hoover.  Her books were probably the first sci-fi I read, and they are still solid despite almost forty years' advances in technology.  They're not all gems, but the balance is heavy on the side of quality. 

Children of Morrow is definitely post-apocalyptic, and a terrific story of outcast kids escaping from hostiles to a better community.  Tia and Rabbit are vivid characters and the world is described well--it's desperately lonely, and bleak enough to make one want to go out and mend the ecology on the spot. 

Unfortunately, the sequel Treasures of Morrow doesn't deliver quite as well.  It synopsizes too much, skimming over the complexities of Morrow with just a few glimpses, and breaks down in characterization when the kids return to their original home.  It's not a bad book, but it suffers in comparison with the well-rounded Children.  

Still, I can recommend them both.  Read the first, and enjoy; if you like it enough, read the second. 


* I am aware of the deep flaws of her Walkabout Woman.  Vanishing Point is much better, and to my possibly ignorant eyes avoids such errors.  
vr_trakowski: (shelf space)
Lois McMaster Bujold's Falling Free is set in the Vorkosigan universe, but a couple of centuries prior, which isn't quite as large a gap as it sounds.  I love this book because it is the genesis of some of my favorite folks in this universe, the quaddies--as well as for several other reasons.  *grin* 

As always with Ms. Bujold's work, the story is not quite as simple as it seems on the surface, and has themes of self-sacrifice, grace, and ethics as well as a marvelous space-rebellion plotline.  She loves to demand more of her characters than they ever imagined would be asked of them, and I love seeing what happens as they meet the challenges. 

This one can be read independently of the other books in the series.  Try it, and join me in wishing she'd write more about the quaddies than she already has.  
vr_trakowski: (shelf space)
Lois McMaster Bujold's Falling Free is set in the Vorkosigan universe, but a couple of centuries prior, which isn't quite as large a gap as it sounds.  I love this book because it is the genesis of some of my favorite folks in this universe, the quaddies--as well as for several other reasons.  *grin* 

As always with Ms. Bujold's work, the story is not quite as simple as it seems on the surface, and has themes of self-sacrifice, grace, and ethics as well as a marvelous space-rebellion plotline.  She loves to demand more of her characters than they ever imagined would be asked of them, and I love seeing what happens as they meet the challenges. 

This one can be read independently of the other books in the series.  Try it, and join me in wishing she'd write more about the quaddies than she already has.  
vr_trakowski: (pages)
I've read this one before, being fond of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series if not her Kate Martinelli one.  (I have tried the latter, but couldn't care about the characters enough.)  This is mostly a Martinelli novel with a Russell story inserted in the middle, quite cleverly, and I enjoy it very much despite my one-sided tastes. 

Mind you, the Russell story isn't about Russell at all, it's about Holmes, but to a devotee of that series it doesn't matter; one can take it as an addendum to Locked Rooms.  Parallel murder mysteries and a clever look at the nature of "fiction".  What is real, after all?  Ms. King does love to play with the concept. 

I recommend it, and frankly I think it can stand independent of either series, though a reader would get more from it after reading one or both series first. 

Separately, I'd like to direct interested parties to Open Library.  It's a nifty idea and I hope it manages to take off. 
vr_trakowski: (pages)
I've read this one before, being fond of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series if not her Kate Martinelli one.  (I have tried the latter, but couldn't care about the characters enough.)  This is mostly a Martinelli novel with a Russell story inserted in the middle, quite cleverly, and I enjoy it very much despite my one-sided tastes. 

Mind you, the Russell story isn't about Russell at all, it's about Holmes, but to a devotee of that series it doesn't matter; one can take it as an addendum to Locked Rooms.  Parallel murder mysteries and a clever look at the nature of "fiction".  What is real, after all?  Ms. King does love to play with the concept. 

I recommend it, and frankly I think it can stand independent of either series, though a reader would get more from it after reading one or both series first. 

Separately, I'd like to direct interested parties to Open Library.  It's a nifty idea and I hope it manages to take off. 
vr_trakowski: (Wizard)
This started out as a comment, but it got long, and I decided to move it here.  So, thank you, [livejournal.com profile] aspidites, for prompting this! 

Diane Duane wrote quite a few Star Trek novels, though I always hope that she will write more!  Well, I always hope she'll write more anything, frankly.  Fortunately for me, she does. 

The Wounded Sky was lent to me almost twenty-five years ago by a fellow Trekker, for a cross-country trip.  I read it so much that I bought her a new copy when I returned. 

My Enemy, My Ally is the start of her take on the Rihannsu/Romulans; TNG eventually took them in a different direction, but many hold Ms. Duane’s vision to be better.  This and The Wounded Sky can be read individually. 

Spock’s World* was, IIRC, the first Trek novel to be published first in hardcover, and is a history of Vulcan intertwined with a present-day adventure for the crew.  This should be read, if for no other reason, to see Doctor McCoy debate the entire planetary population of Vulcan.  *snerk* 

The Romulan Way is sort of the other half of the Spock’s World story, though they can also be read separately. 

Doctor’s Orders centers on McCoy and is tremendous fun--to my mind she writes the characters as they should be (but aren’t always, even on screen), and her treatment of Bones is quite possibly the best out there. 

Swordhunt and Honor Blade are really two halves of one book that I suspect Pocket made her slice in two; they pick up the Rihannsu story and shouldn’t be read alone.  The Empty Chair is nice and thick and finishes that story. 

The Bloodwing Voyages and Sand and Stars are “collection” volumes, not original stuff. 

For TNG she did Intellivore, and Dark Mirror, which is TNG and the Mirror, Mirror universe. 

She also wrote stories in various Star Trek graphic novels and manga, and co-authored the TNG ep Where No One Has Gone Before, though she points out here that it bears little resemblance to the original script.

Some were co-authored with Peter Morwood.  Like all her works, these are rich with tributes, hat-tips, sly guest appearances, and inside jokes that still have me laughing after a quarter of a century of re-re-re-reading.  Remember, don't judge by the covers, and for more information check out her site.  She's done many other gorgeous books. 


* The audiobook was read by George Takei, and is, I believe, abridged (alas).  I tried to listen to it but broke down in uncontrollable laughter when hearing Mr. Takei do the Rec Deck computer.  His voicing of Kirk is just a bit too sly as well, not that I really blame him...it was done quite some time ago! 
vr_trakowski: (Wizard)
This started out as a comment, but it got long, and I decided to move it here.  So, thank you, [livejournal.com profile] aspidites, for prompting this! 

Diane Duane wrote quite a few Star Trek novels, though I always hope that she will write more!  Well, I always hope she'll write more anything, frankly.  Fortunately for me, she does. 

The Wounded Sky was lent to me almost twenty-five years ago by a fellow Trekker, for a cross-country trip.  I read it so much that I bought her a new copy when I returned. 

My Enemy, My Ally is the start of her take on the Rihannsu/Romulans; TNG eventually took them in a different direction, but many hold Ms. Duane’s vision to be better.  This and The Wounded Sky can be read individually. 

Spock’s World* was, IIRC, the first Trek novel to be published first in hardcover, and is a history of Vulcan intertwined with a present-day adventure for the crew.  This should be read, if for no other reason, to see Doctor McCoy debate the entire planetary population of Vulcan.  *snerk* 

The Romulan Way is sort of the other half of the Spock’s World story, though they can also be read separately. 

Doctor’s Orders centers on McCoy and is tremendous fun--to my mind she writes the characters as they should be (but aren’t always, even on screen), and her treatment of Bones is quite possibly the best out there. 

Swordhunt and Honor Blade are really two halves of one book that I suspect Pocket made her slice in two; they pick up the Rihannsu story and shouldn’t be read alone.  The Empty Chair is nice and thick and finishes that story. 

The Bloodwing Voyages and Sand and Stars are “collection” volumes, not original stuff. 

For TNG she did Intellivore, and Dark Mirror, which is TNG and the Mirror, Mirror universe. 

She also wrote stories in various Star Trek graphic novels and manga, and co-authored the TNG ep Where No One Has Gone Before, though she points out here that it bears little resemblance to the original script.

Some were co-authored with Peter Morwood.  Like all her works, these are rich with tributes, hat-tips, sly guest appearances, and inside jokes that still have me laughing after a quarter of a century of re-re-re-reading.  Remember, don't judge by the covers, and for more information check out her site.  She's done many other gorgeous books. 


* The audiobook was read by George Takei, and is, I believe, abridged (alas).  I tried to listen to it but broke down in uncontrollable laughter when hearing Mr. Takei do the Rec Deck computer.  His voicing of Kirk is just a bit too sly as well, not that I really blame him...it was done quite some time ago! 
vr_trakowski: (pages)
Barbara Hambly's Ishmael is one of my favorites among the early Star Trek Pockets (#23).  It's a bit obvious, and it makes the rather glaring error of calling Vulcan "Vulcanis", but it's delicately, beautifully written, a must for Spock fans.  Good, old-fashioned time travel, better handled than such things often are (Terminator II, I'm looking at you); a strong understanding of the characters and relationships on board Enterprise; and some stellar OCs.  It could be argued that it is fanfic, but if so, it's fanfic of the highest quality; and anyway, most of those early Trek novels are.  The pre-Pocket ones, for instance, are an amusingly horrifying collection...  

Part of the delight for me, in this one, is the inside jokes.  Much like Diane Duane, Ms. Hambly tips her hat to several other space-going stories--I can count at least three and there may be one or two I'm missing--but she does so in a way that doesn't interrupt the plot at all.  Watch for them, and admire. 
vr_trakowski: (pages)
Barbara Hambly's Ishmael is one of my favorites among the early Star Trek Pockets (#23).  It's a bit obvious, and it makes the rather glaring error of calling Vulcan "Vulcanis", but it's delicately, beautifully written, a must for Spock fans.  Good, old-fashioned time travel, better handled than such things often are (Terminator II, I'm looking at you); a strong understanding of the characters and relationships on board Enterprise; and some stellar OCs.  It could be argued that it is fanfic, but if so, it's fanfic of the highest quality; and anyway, most of those early Trek novels are.  The pre-Pocket ones, for instance, are an amusingly horrifying collection...  

Part of the delight for me, in this one, is the inside jokes.  Much like Diane Duane, Ms. Hambly tips her hat to several other space-going stories--I can count at least three and there may be one or two I'm missing--but she does so in a way that doesn't interrupt the plot at all.  Watch for them, and admire. 
vr_trakowski: (shelf space)
I've read Emma Bull's ([livejournal.com profile] coffeeem) more recent works, but I have to admit that I prefer her earlier stuff, though I'm not sure why.  War for the Oaks is urban fantasy at its best; a strong heroine, interesting conflicts, humor and darkness, and fae that are dangerous.  I adore the Phouka.  And I want everybody's clothes, even though they wouldn't fit me. 

The music and styles are inevitably dated, given the framework, but that doesn't lessen my enjoyment.  I actually put together a playlist with the music the band plays, or at least as much of it as I could gather.  

It's a fun book, and like so much else of Ms. Bull's work, I want a sequel.  There's that tour, after all...  *grin*  
vr_trakowski: (shelf space)
I've read Emma Bull's ([livejournal.com profile] coffeeem) more recent works, but I have to admit that I prefer her earlier stuff, though I'm not sure why.  War for the Oaks is urban fantasy at its best; a strong heroine, interesting conflicts, humor and darkness, and fae that are dangerous.  I adore the Phouka.  And I want everybody's clothes, even though they wouldn't fit me. 

The music and styles are inevitably dated, given the framework, but that doesn't lessen my enjoyment.  I actually put together a playlist with the music the band plays, or at least as much of it as I could gather.  

It's a fun book, and like so much else of Ms. Bull's work, I want a sequel.  There's that tour, after all...  *grin*  
vr_trakowski: (snerk)
Dilly Dilly Piccalilli
Tell me something very silly:
There was a chap his name was Bert
He ate the buttons off his shirt.


Father Fox's Pennyrhymes is delightfully illustrated and filled with tiny in-jokes.  And the rhymes are fun.  I have two copies of this one and every few years I pull one out and read it again, just for the sheer joy of it.  

Here's a song of Tinker & Peter
Honey is sweet but love is sweeter...
What comes next?  Now tell me dearly,
Alexander darling. 


This one is illustrated with two foxes in disguise at a rabbit wedding.  It is not at all certain who will be dining soon. 
vr_trakowski: (snerk)
Dilly Dilly Piccalilli
Tell me something very silly:
There was a chap his name was Bert
He ate the buttons off his shirt.


Father Fox's Pennyrhymes is delightfully illustrated and filled with tiny in-jokes.  And the rhymes are fun.  I have two copies of this one and every few years I pull one out and read it again, just for the sheer joy of it.  

Here's a song of Tinker & Peter
Honey is sweet but love is sweeter...
What comes next?  Now tell me dearly,
Alexander darling. 


This one is illustrated with two foxes in disguise at a rabbit wedding.  It is not at all certain who will be dining soon. 
vr_trakowski: (shelf space)
Martha Bacon's The Third Road.  It's difficult to describe, and while it seems to be available through Amazon, there's no description that I can see.  I don't know that it's that out of the ordinary for a '70s children's fantasy, but for me it was special.  

Three children go to visit their unusual grandparents in California.  They find a unicorn in the paddock among the horses, and that is just the beginning.  There's magic and history and time travel, a lapdog and Quetzacoatl, players and priests, and all of it is the way to the Third Road and Hy Brasil.  The enchantment mixes with reality and the adults don't disbelieve. 

I so wanted to find the Third Road myself.  Haven't yet, but I keep hoping. 
vr_trakowski: (shelf space)
Martha Bacon's The Third Road.  It's difficult to describe, and while it seems to be available through Amazon, there's no description that I can see.  I don't know that it's that out of the ordinary for a '70s children's fantasy, but for me it was special.  

Three children go to visit their unusual grandparents in California.  They find a unicorn in the paddock among the horses, and that is just the beginning.  There's magic and history and time travel, a lapdog and Quetzacoatl, players and priests, and all of it is the way to the Third Road and Hy Brasil.  The enchantment mixes with reality and the adults don't disbelieve. 

I so wanted to find the Third Road myself.  Haven't yet, but I keep hoping. 

Alas!

Jun. 27th, 2010 11:08 pm
vr_trakowski: (shelf space)
Why is it that Pamela Dean's works so often go out of print?  Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary is a fabulous book.  It's difficult, certainly--I had to read it at least three times to get all the nuances--but one doesn't read Ms. Dean for easy.  

It's really more about Gentian than the other two, who are all sisters.  And I'm finding it difficult to try to explain the plot of this book in any way that would convey its absolute uniqueness.  There are old ideas there, of course, but like Tam Lin, they are never, ever what one expects.  This is, in a way, a fantasy book, but the setting is modern and suburban.  Gentian is an astronomer, a scientist, and is struggling with the usual questions of a practical teen facing an impractical world.  And then someone new moves in next door...  

Whatever you're thinking, you're wrong.  But I don't want to give the plot away.  *grin* 

In addition, if you're into good books, pay attention to what the characters in this story read.  I found a wonderful series that way, and would have found another great title if I hadn't read it already. 

Alas!

Jun. 27th, 2010 11:08 pm
vr_trakowski: (shelf space)
Why is it that Pamela Dean's works so often go out of print?  Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary is a fabulous book.  It's difficult, certainly--I had to read it at least three times to get all the nuances--but one doesn't read Ms. Dean for easy.  

It's really more about Gentian than the other two, who are all sisters.  And I'm finding it difficult to try to explain the plot of this book in any way that would convey its absolute uniqueness.  There are old ideas there, of course, but like Tam Lin, they are never, ever what one expects.  This is, in a way, a fantasy book, but the setting is modern and suburban.  Gentian is an astronomer, a scientist, and is struggling with the usual questions of a practical teen facing an impractical world.  And then someone new moves in next door...  

Whatever you're thinking, you're wrong.  But I don't want to give the plot away.  *grin* 

In addition, if you're into good books, pay attention to what the characters in this story read.  I found a wonderful series that way, and would have found another great title if I hadn't read it already. 

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