Kelly McCullough writes fantasy, science fiction, and books for kids of varying ages. He lives in Wisconsin with his physics professor wife and a small herd of cats. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series — Penguin/ACE, and the forthcoming School for Sidekicks — Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star — part of an NSF-funded science curriculum — and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp, which he co-authored and co-edited — funding provided by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Kelly on Twitter, Facebook, G+
Blob cat blobs
None shall pass!
Pwease don’t make me burnz you with my laser eyes…pwetty pwease
Iz got nip hangoverz, go way
I’z nesting…OK, E-Nesting…you gotz problem?
Need more NIP!
Leave me, I just wanna be alone with my…whasat?
You must give me the NIP!
Have you ever really…oh…itch…uh hi…were you talking to…
Here’s the last of the counters (to be installed later)
And the back porch which is no longer slowly falling off the house:
Rotten Trim 1 (not good but…):
Rotten Trim 2 (oh my):
Rotten Trim 3 (well damn):
Patch layer 1 (structural and underlayment):
Closeup of structural work:
Several websites have declared today, September 9, as a Day Without Cats. There is only one correct response to this: MORE CATS!
East Facing Windows in the Morning.
What’s in Window 1? …a cat!
What’s in Window 3? …3 cats!
November 18, 2014 in rant
Over at SFNovelists Alma Alexander is talking about her problems with Happily Ever After endings. The parts of her argument that touch on her tastes in fiction as a writer and reader I have no problem with. The parts where she seems to be talking about absolute values on the other hand I find to be genuinely and deeply troubling. (Note: she has now clarified what she means to a greater extent and her post bothers me less, but I still think that there is an argument in there that needs refuting in greater depth) Let me quote two pieces to demonstrate what I mean:
1: “There is no such thing as a happy ending. Tolkien knew this – a writer who had not understood this concept could not have ended “Lord of the Rings” with such a terrifyingly truthful story like the Scouring of the Shire (and Jackson’s adaptation of the book into the saccharinely-ended movie shows that he has NOT understood this fact at all). Ursula Le Guin understands this perfectly (for an outstanding example, go re-read “The ones who walk away from Omelas”).
The best we can hope for is a resolution, and perhaps an epiphany – and, yes, love of good people along the way.”
2: “When it comes to writing, and characters, this is an important thing to know.”
These statements strike me as seriously problematic if that “know” is taken literally to mean knowing in the sense of an absolute truth. Now it seems to me that this is not entirely what Alma is getting at, especially after clarification, but there is still a strong implication here that the more real or true a piece of fiction is, the better it is, and that argument is one that is a huge problem for me on several levels.
First, I’m not a big fan of absolute statements about what people should read or write, and any argument that one kind of fiction is objectively better than another is inherently an argument that presupposes what people should read.
That would be enough to make me feel a responsibility to argue against the point all by itself. It is however a less serious issue than my other problem with the argument, and I want to preface this next piece with the note that I absolutely do not believe that what follows is what Alma is intending to argue. At the same time, I believe that even the weaker version of the argument carries certain implications by its nature, and they are quite problematic.
Here’s why. It’s a half step from saying Happily Ever After is not real and therefore not as good as a darker ending to one of the traditional attacks made on f&sf by those who prefer literary fiction, i.e. that lit fic is more real and more serious and thus inherently better than other genres.
More disturbingly, it also echoes the serious fiction/realist fiction argument that has been made by chauvinist academics and critics to devalue Romance in specific and more generally women’s fiction and women authors as writing less important works because they don’t hew to a maximally realist line as defined by said chauvinists.
Again, I don’t believe for an instant that Alma, an exceptionally skilled author and a woman, is trying to argue the inferiority of women authors or of women’s fiction. But I do think that she has made an argument that if accepted at face value lends credence to those other, much more pernicious, arguments.
The group shot:
Corner cat tolerates the others…barely
Pick me first!
I am the walrus, kookookachoozzzzzz
The library ladder it protects me from all evil
You know what, I’m just going to move over here…
What I’ve been doing this week, cutting down surplused lab tables to make new butcher block kitchen counters:
The kitchen before, overview:
On the left you can just see the edge of the breakfast bar. Center, the desk. Right the dishwasher counter. Note that the last does not come all the way to the trim and that the ledge shelf is a different wood and has no end cap.
After, overview. Unfortunately taken from a slightly different angle, but more features will show in the close ups.
During, pre-oiling, you can see that the dishwasher counter comes over to the trim here and the end capping as well as the uniform construction:
This is what the lab tables looked like:
Old breakfast bar (oak plank)
New (unoiled) You can’t see much difference—mainly the 45 instead of rounded edges—but it’s really night and day:
Old desk (white Formica, bleah):
I still need to do the two tiny counters and cut down and build the sink counter, though that won’t get installed till late October. Still, since these are all actual oiled cutting blocks we’ve more than doubled the working area of the kitchen.
I went and saw Julie and Julia with my now on sabbatical wife yesterday. We biked up to the theater and got in about two minutes into the movie, thus possibly missing something. Overall it was a fun sweet movie.
The thing I liked the most about it was it got the little moments of publishing exactly right: The hit in the gut as you prepare to open what you’re sure is going to be the umpteenth rejection for something you love. The sheer jubilation of an acceptance or seeing that first book. The little happy spurt from fan response.
Yay for all that.
The thing I liked the least about it was the perpetuation of the stereotypes of the neurotic, self-absorbed, and/or clueless writer: It had the “I’m not a writer if I’m not published” freakout. The complete clueless wild-ass-guess about typical advances. The complete lack of clue on figuring out how to deal with publishers ahead of time. Etc.
Now, those stereotypes work because an awful lot of writers are subject to one or another of them, and a lot of writers do learn about business the hard way by signing bad contracts or doing stupid things with their careers, or totally relying on the Cinderella faerie godmother mode of success to whack them upside the head with the publishing stick. At the same time it has never been easier to learn how not to do those things. There are a million and one resources on the web for learning about the business of writing and understanding what is and is not likely to happen.
Someday I would like to see an aspiring writer who has done their homework and who understands what they’re getting into portrayed on the big screen. I think it would be simply lovely to see some story about the writing life that didn’t rely on the same old conflicts and stresses.
Which is not to say that I didn’t like the movie—I did, quite a lot, actually—just that it didn’t cover a lot of new ground.