A quick update from the front…

Prologue

I think I’ve finally parsed why it feels like I’m living through a period of chaos and disruption. It’s not that there are any significant problems – there aren’t. It’s not that I’m unhappy – I’m not. I think it’s that I’ve engineered my way into a place where, right now, I’m only able to devote fragments of my attention to any area. Metaphorically speaking, I have all of these plates spinning and I have just enough attention for each to keep it spinning. I suspect I’m a natural spinner (to extend the metaphor), but a bit less will be good.

Part 1 – Reading

Suite Scarlett, Maureen Johnson
Suite Scarlett, Maureen Johnson

That said, what’s been up? Well, I didn’t tell you about Maureen Johnson‘s Suite Scarlett or Scott Westerfeld‘s Leviathan really, did I? I picked up Suite Scarlett because Justine had recommended it to me, and because I’d met Maureen briefly and she seemed really nice. It was her new book etc. Anyway, it showed up at the world’s best bookstore and I took it home, frankly intending to pop it on the ‘to read’ stack and move on. Didn’t happen. I read a page. I liked Scarlett. I was intrigued. I liked the idea of this family living in this tumble-down chic hotel in Manhattan being invaded by this Auntie Mame like figure. I liked her, I liked Scarlett’s brother. It was funny. I was, in fact, hooked. To be honest, it was a leetle bit girly for me, but not too girly, and Johnson is such an engaging writer that I honestly didn’t mind. I’m on board for the sequels, definitely, and will keep reading Johnson eagerly from now on.

Leviathan is not a girly book. I was sent a copy by Ron (who works for Amazon and is awesomer than Amazon just for sending it to me). I loved it, except for one thing. What is Leviathan? It’s Scott Westerfeld’s new novel. It’s a steampunk adventure about the heir to the Hapsburg dynasty and a girl who wants to fly airships. It’s the story of a world where steam-driven robot machines fight against biologically engineered creatures that fill the same niches as machines in our world. It’s rich and it’s strange and it’s completely immersive. It has stupendous artwork throughout. It is my favourite book of the year so far, except for one thing. It’s book one. It kinda just stops. This isn’t Scott’s fault. I don’t think he could have done anything much different. But I want the next one.  You’re going to get this one anyway, but it’s awesome and it’s the kind of not-girly book that will appeal equally to anyone who loves adventure and romance and things blowing up.

Part 2 – In which computer stuff is discussed

When I wasn’t reading I went out and bought a couple grand worth of computer pieces that are currently being constructed into the new ubercomputer that will JS Enterprises through the next couple years. This means a full upgrade to the network for the whole family, with Marianne getting her computer worked on and the girls getting a machine on the network to share. Much chaos will no doubt ensue over the next week as machines are installed, software added, glitches fought with and so on, but hopefully it will work out.

At the same time, I fell in love with Scrivener. This is, frankly, Lou‘s fault. He mentioned it would help with assembling anthology manuscripts. Help? It’s the best tool I’ve ever used for the job. Makes a lot of the pain just disappear and will make me a lot more productive, which I need to be. I can shuffle running order, insert story notes, author introductions, and then output an entire standard ms. that Scrivener automatically standardises for me. Bliss. I bought it. It’s Mac only. Gah!  Plans to pick up an HP Mininote when the Macbook finally dies have now gone out the window. At some suitable interval – probably a year from now after the Macbook is dead and gone – I will buy a new one and will probably be permanently stuck being a part PC/part Mac user.

Part 3 – Boring old project update

I’ve also been working on projects, as I keep mentioning. Eclipse Three is largely done. Marianne is giving it a read over, giving it a light copyedit and standardisation before it is sent off to the publisher. I bought some new stories for it. A couple emails still to send. I also need to write an intro (no idea about what – ideas?) for it and do the story notes. They’re this weekend’s task. I’m also waiting for one story. Once it’s in, I’m done on that.  Subterranean is almost done too. One major story due for it, then it’s housekeeping. I’ve also pretty much signed off on the Best of Peter Beagle and the Best of Larry Niven. Once they’re done, on to the Kim Stanley Robinson and Fritz Leiber books. I’m going to stop writing about this part now, because I think I might go slightly mad because I need to start factoring in Life on Mars, Engineering Infinity, the Year’s Best, and Wings of Fire. They’ll happen, but I’m a bit scattered on them right now.

Part 4 – Social life and family

Well, I sort of have a social life. Spent some time with the Gang going to a Place,  as you know. Great seeing the gang, but only a so-so Place.  Saw some members of the Gang separately too, which was swell.  Mostly, though, social life is on hold right now. Family stuff has been light, which is good. We’ve had birthdays, with more coming up.  Oh, and Marianne and I are off to see Simon & Garfunkel tonight. I honestly don’t remember the last live performance we saw together. It’s literally been years, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone since Springsteen in Oakland a couple years back. I’m looking forward to this, though. It’s supposed to be part of a move for us to do a bit more couple stuff, which is important.

Part 5 – Locus

A month or two ago I celebrated my seventh year as Reviews Editor at Locus. It’s also my twelfth year working for the magazine in one capacity or another. I’ve been a go-fer, a proofer, an editor, reviewer, and reviews editor. I’ve taken the publisher shopping and to doctors appointments, to concerts and been travel buddies on roadtrips. I’ve thrown dead plums of the roof of the publisher’s house, swept up, moved books, and all sorts of other things. I’ll be honest enough to say I’ve been a bit distracted, but I am working away on edits to the latest batch of columns.  I’m also really looking forward to seeing Charles, Amelia and the gang when I’m in town (far, far too briefly!).

Epilogue – Conventions

And a quick last note. In just twenty-nine days I’ll be offline and travelling. I’m headed for WorldCon in Montreal and Continuum 5 in Melbourne.  This means I’ll be in sunny Montreal from Tuesday 4 August to Tuesday 11 August, and in Melbourne from Friday 14 August to Monday 17 August. If you’d like to get together and hang out, spend some time, I’d love to see you. Email me!!  I’ll probably email you, but email me!