Wednesday Reads:

Welcome to Wednesday Reads.

Ahsoka (cover of the novel taken from Amazon)

Currently I am working my way through E.K. Johnston’s Ahsoka book (available here)  and it’s a delight so far.  I really love her character and I was very excited to get my hands on this.  My friend Bryan recommended it to me (you can find his stuff here) and so far I have not been disappointed.

I’ve recently finished Garrett Investigates by Elizabeth Bear, a short story compendium of Abby Irene shorts.  It’s a fantastic universe and I definitely recommend it if you can get your hands on it.   I’ve also finished American Assassin by Vince Flynn,  The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle,  The Alpha’s Home by Dessa Lux, and The Birthday of the World by Ursula K. LeGuin.

More reviews about those to come.   Currently on my reading list after I finish Ahsoka is New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear,  State of Fear by Michael Crichton,  and Shadows over Baker Street – an anthology mixing Sherlock Holmes and the Cthulhu mythos.

What are you reading?  Tell me in the comments!

Knowing and A Certain Kind of Grief

There are certain things that we just know. It comes from how we were raised, what experiences we had in those formative years from two to twenty.

These things can span the length and width of the sum of human knowledge, every person is different. I was raised to be an officer’s wife first and then a pastor or missionary’s wife. There is a terrifying amount of knowledge that was crammed into me at an very early age because from a family that until my generation was almost completely comprised of retired, reserves, and actively serving members of the armed forces (all branches), you know the value of being prepared. So you start young, in the hopes that once you get to be older and life throws curveballs at you, that they will have prepared you to handle what gets tossed your way. That you will be able to deal with whatever situation arises in a way that does not bring shame on you, your husband/spouse, or your family. You sacrifice a lot when you do this, but the trade offs are thought to be worth it.

A common point in these two professions is that grief and uncertainty come hand in hand with the daily paper and breakfast. When you are an officer’s wife or the wife of a pastor/missionary. Everything under your spouse’s purview is also yours. The spouses and families of those serving under your spouse’s command or in their church are yours to care for, to handle when they need handled.

As we say in my household, you are the “adultier adult” for everyone. It is not a light burden to shoulder. In some ways, it can be infinitely harder to deal with. You are the point person that everyone comes to, because you know everything and everyone. So if there is an event that needs to be hosted or a food train arranged or someone to go and sit with the family as they make arrangements, that is on you to make sure that even if it cannot be you yourself there with them, that you have then arranged for a suitable backup person to be there as your deputy.

You are the quartermaster, the logistics, the human resources, the confidant, and so much more. Life is uncertain enough on its own, without adding the extra factor of a job that most certainly will put your spouse and possibly you yourself in harm’s way. That goes for both professions – the major difference being that more often than not, pastors and missionaries walk straight into all kinds of possible danger unarmed.  Uncertainty you can learn to roll with. You learn to always keep food on hand, wherever you are. To always make sure that whatever house or home you have, no matter how big or small, there’s always space for someone to stay there. The extra linens and towels that you keep washed and fresh even if you never touch them yourself. That there’s always 20 dollars in the emergency fund or tucked into that one family bible that you keep but never use (you have other, non heirloom holy books for study and reflection).

Grief is more slippery. You cannot control grief or how it manifests in people. All you can do is listen and pay attention. After a while, you develop a sense for who needs a box of tissues, and who needs to dig a new trench in the backyard or remodel a kitchen. You are always calm and sympathetic, you are always upright, appearing clearheaded, even if the reality is different. Appearances matter. No one after all sees the commander cry.

This has been on my mind recently, as I have, in the last few months, had to handle some very trying curveballs that life has pitched my way. It is even more present today, knowing that on Saturday, I am losing my little brother. He has chosen to go back to Brazil for work and college. He is going to a city where the closest blood relative will be a two day drive/bus ride away. He’s 18 and this is his prerogative, but having been in those shoes before, it’s hard to deal with. Especially after knowing that the only reason I didn’t starve or run myself further into the ground that I already had been doing was because of my wonderful family who gave me shelter, food, crash course lessons on everything from driving to budgeting to how to write papers while also making dinner. Who supported me in ways I hadn’t been aware of until much, much later on. It would have been so much harder to do all of that and still be as successful as I was without them there. I had a safety net and he does not. Not really.

And that is tearing at my soul in ways that make it harder to keep my composure. To be able to be the person handling all the little things that have been forgotten in the chaos and drama of this exodus. Because for a child that I raised for a significant portion of his and my life, it’s exceedingly hard to let him go, especially when it feels like I had just gotten him back. I also worry for the effect that this will have on my parents. He’s the last child, the baby of the family, and so there is a big house that will seem even bigger now. I worry for their mental and emotional health and also their physical health. I worry about what happens if my brother falls on his face and they bail him out. I worry, in part, because it feels like no one else is. Realistically I know this is not true, from all the myriad of conversations that I have had with seemingly everyone, but sometimes it feels like it is. The only way that I have been able to keep myself functioning, especially in the wake of having just come home (and what a wonderful thing, having a home that is mine that does not move) from a trip for the other side of family that was harder than I had expected. But I was trained for this and I know what to do, even if it feels like there’s a widening gap inside of me that is going to swallow everything whole. I swallow back the waves and carefully move through the next thing on my to-do list – I can fall apart later when it’s Sunday and I have a spare hour or two where I don’t have to adult.

I wish he wasn’t going like this. I wish I could have gotten him to listen more. I wish he wasn’t going to have to learn some of the same lessons I had to, the hard way. I wish this was easier.

Dragon*Con 2017

At the end of the day, I wound up doing more panels than I’d officially been put on.  The grand total was 19 for the con and it was a lot, but I had a blast doing them.   Even though I work the con, rather than attend, I always have a good time.   This year was one of the best years.

So if you’re coming to here from having seen me at Dragon*Con, welcome! I really am just as weird as I am in person, only I use taller fonts to make my words seem larger.

Here is the link to the Patreon – there’s a 1.00 tier for if you just want access to the short stories!

You can also find me on Twitter over at  @DorothyJoanGray  and it’s some writing, some humor, some politics, and a lot of signal boosting.

So if you’re finding me through D*Con, leave a comment with where we encountered each other and I’ll send you some free flash fiction!

This month is going to be pretty busy with another con this weekend and then a weekend trip up to NYC from the 15th to the 18th.  However, I do have some reviews and essays that will be going up just as soon as I can have the brainspace to sling them up.    For reasons of not having much of a brain, I generally don’t post anything much until the weekend after D*Con.

Stay  weird, my lovelies.

Dragon*Con Final Schedule: Where I’ll Be and What I’m Talking About!

So here is the Dragon*Con Schedule, ya’ll. And if you can’t find me at one of these, then I generally lurk in the hallways like the raspberry seed you can’t floss out.

Title: Alternates
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Hanover AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Craft alternate realities, histories, & time-travel fiction. Historian Bethany Kesler reveals everything needed to craft historically authentic alt- worlds–what research is good, how to avoid the rabbithole of too much research, and how to pick your cascade points.

Title: History Will Be Televised: Accuracy May Suffer
Time: Fri 02:30 pm Location: M301-M301 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
Description: History as covered by the media will be will cover many of the shows that say they are showing things like they were…or the way we’d like to think they were. Discussion will cover Reign, the White Princess, Will, & others of this ilk.

Title: How the Westworld Was Won
Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: M302-M303 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
Description: The reinvention of this classic has really turned reality on its ear. Questions of sentience, humanity, conspiracy, & religion are all combined with story that often left us puzzled & amazed.

Title: Queer-Coded Villains in Classic Sci-Fi
Time: Fri 10:00 pm Location: M103-M105 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Ever watch classic Sci-Fi & think the bad guy is a little flamboyant or the villainess is too super-assertive? Discuss how perceptions & stereotypes of homosexuality & gender-nonconformity made classic villains such as Star Trek’s Q seem more villainous & the ways it still happens today.

Title: Practical Time Travel for the Storyteller
Time: Sat 04:00 pm Location: Athens – Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: This panel discusses the real science behind time travel, as well as how these scientific theories can place both challenging & rewarding demands on the stories we tell. Time dilation, the grandfather paradox, & others will be explained & these theories discussed.

Title: Lost Worlds: The Science Fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle
Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for Sherlock Holmes, but he also wrote SF! Our panelists help to shed light on Doyle’s futuristic works.

Title: Earth Station One Presents: The Princess Bride’s Inconceivable 30th Anniversary
Time: Sat 10:00 pm Location: M103-M105 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Have fun storming the castle with fans of the movie that taught us the meaning of wuv. True wuv.

Title: American Classic Musicals & All That Jazz
Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: M103-M105 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Musicals & geekiness go jazz-hand in jazz-hand. American? Yep. Classic? Yep. Sci-Fi? Well, how do you explain all that choreography?

Title: A Ladies’ Guide to the Apocalypse
Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: Chastain F-H – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: From Katniss to Furiosa & beyond, now more than ever female characters are taking the end of days head on. Discuss the increasing presence of heroines in apocalyptic media, as well as paying tribute to those characters who helped pave the way.

Title: KRULL: Witness the Glaive
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: M103-M105 – Marriott (Length: 2 Hours 30 Min)
Description: March toward a solid face of rock to discuss Krull, the glaive, the cyclops, & raisins in our brain-cases.

Title: Superhero-versary: Batgirl, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, & More
Time: Mon 08:30 am Location: M103-M105 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Celebrating the debut years of the greatest heroes. We refer, of course, to Detective Chimp, Captain Carrot, Ch’p, & tThe Human Fly.

Title: Westworld: Labyrinth of Lies
Time: Mon 02:30 pm Location: M301-M303 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
Description: The web of plots & sub plots, mysteries & time lines leads to some complex organization & not a few eureka moments as things click together. We’ll look back over all those threads & what ones might be coming up in the next season.

Book Review: The Ice Orphan of Ganymede

Book two in the The Jupiter Chronicles, The Ice Orphan of Ganymede kicks off with a bang.  The Jovians are free from Phobos, but there’s still a lot of cleanup to be done and a civil war that is threatening to erupt.    First Petros’ popularity has taken a hit and one of the Jovian General is advocating for his replacement.

But that’s not all,  Ian back on Earth is sick and getting sicker.   Nothing on Earth is able to help him, so Callie tries to take him back to Jupiter to see if they can cure him.    What they find is a mess of a situation and a possible lead in the Book of Ganymede.     Except the Book of Ganymede is missing so Ian and Callie have to go off to find it first.  In doing so, they find much more than just something to help Ian.

The second book in this series ably builds on the framework set up by the first novel and opens up more the intriguing universe set up by the author.   We learn more about Jupiter and its inner workings and the plot twists are delightful.   I can hardly wait to see where the next book takes us.

A Response To The Anti-Diversity Screed Leaked Today

https://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-d…

So this went viral today and I want to encourage every white male I know seeing this to go ahead and read it. Because this is one of you. This is one of your peers.

The document is well put together, sounds calm and reasonable, uses bullet points and proper grammar. It is also tearing away at the humanity of women and non white men. Someone who looks just like you, who jokes around at the watercooler/coffeepot, who is one of the “generally good guys” felt comfortable enough to write this 10 page document and actually post it on the internet.

It is important for you to understand that this man? This educated engineer who wrote this steaming pile of absolute garbage? He is NOT an anomaly. He is part of the status quo and has been for a while. He’s not going to stop or pay any attention to any of the women who have responded to this document. We don’t matter.

The document made the news and has been circulating around everywhere and yet not once have I seen any article name the man that wrote it. The press had the courage to publish his screed that claims that women are biologically inferior to men, but not the courage to name him. If that claim sounds familiar, it’s because it’s been used for centuries to discredit anyone different who might present a challenge to the default white male status quo.

This is the kind of power that men like him have.

But how you respond to it will be important. Men like him are dime a dozen. Silence will be treated as tacit approval of these viewpoints. It’s rough to speak up – there will push back and I know the societal pressure will be to keep quiet. To not rock the boat.

This boat, however, needs to be rocked. Women and POC’s have been confronting things like this on a daily basis. So my question to you is will you stand up with us?

The Con of Dragons Approacheth!

Here is my tentative schedule for Dragon*Con this year.  I’m once more an Attending Professional, which is always an honor and a pleasure.   I say this is a tentative schedule, because sometimes panels change and things get all swapped around.

I also know that the After Hour Sprints for the Hourly Workshops are not on here and I will be doing those as well alongside my partner in fiction writing,  Alison Sky Richards.  They’re Friday from 7-9.

Provided schedules align properly, I’m also planning on being at the Star Wars Holiday Special (yes, THAT one) shindig that the SciFi Classics track is throwing.  And I am always down for coffee or munchies during the moments I’m not presenting.  Come find me.  I promise not to dress as Waldo this year, and make it easier to locate the tiny person in the LOUD Hawaiian shorts.
Also side note – if you’re looking for me in the app, I’ll be under the muggle name for all my panels.
Title: Alternates
Description: An exciting look into how to craft alternate realities, histories, & time-travel fiction. Historian Bethany Kesler AKA DJ Gray will outline the rules, do’s and don’ts, as well as equip you with the all the tools needed to craft historically authentic worlds for all your fiction needs. What research is good research, how to avoid the rabbit hole of too much research, and how to pick your cascade points.
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Hanover AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: History will be televised – Accuracy may suffer
Description: History as covered by the media will be will cover many of the shows that say they are showing things like they were… or the way we’d like to think they were. Discussion will cover Reign, the White Princess, Will and others of this ilk.
Time: Fri 02:30 pm Location: M301-M301 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel

——————-
Title: How the Westworld was Won
Description: The reinvention of this classic has really turned reality on its ear. Questions of sentience, humanity, conspiracy and religion are all combined with story that often left us puzzled and amazed.
Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: M302-M303 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel

——————-
Title: Gender-Queer Villains in Classic Sci-Fi
Description: Ever watch classic sci-fi and think the bad guy is a little flamboyant or the villainess is too super-assertive? Discuss how perceptions & stereotypes of homosexuality and gender-nonconformity made classic villains such as Star Trek’s Q seem more villainous and the ways it still happens today.
Time: Fri 10:00 pm Location: M103-M105 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: Practical Time Travel for the Storyteller
Description: This panel discusses the real science behind time travel, as well as how these scientific theories can place both challenging and rewarding demands on the stories we tell. Time dilation, the grandfather paradox, and others will be explained and stories told that reference these theories discussed.
Time: Sat 04:00 pm Location: Athens – Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: Lost Worlds: The Science Fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle
Description: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for Sherlock Holmes, but he also wrote sf. Our panelists help to shed light on these works.
Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: American Classic Musicals and All That Jazz
Description: Musicals and geekiness go jazz-hand in jazz-hand. American? Yep. Classic? Yep. Sci-fi? Well, how do you explain all that choreography?
Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: M103-M105 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: A Ladies’ Guide to the Apocalypse
Description: From Katniss to Furiosa and beyond, now more than ever female characters are taking the end of days head on. Discuss the increasing presence of heroines in apocalyptic media, as well as paying tribute to those characters that helped pave the way.
Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: Chastain F-H – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: KRULL: Witness the Glaive
Description: March toward a solid face of rock to discuss Krull, the glaive, the cyclops, and raisins in our brain-cases.
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: M103-M105 – Marriott (Length: 2.5 Hours)

——————-
Title: Superhero-versary: Batgirl, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, and More
Description: Celebrating the debut years of the greatest heroes. We refer, of course, to Detective Chimp, Captain Carrot, Ch’p, and The Human Fly.
Time: Mon 08:30 am Location: M103-M105 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: Westworld – Labyrinth of Lies
Description: The web of plots and sub plots, mysteries and time lines all leads to some complex organization and not a few eureka moments as things click together. We’ll look back over all those threads and what ones might be coming up in the next season.
Time: Mon 02:30 pm Location: M301-M303 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)

Sale and A Patron

There will be more reviews coming shortly,  in addition to the Book Log, I have a stack of media reviews to queue up.    Due to some illness, I’ve been a bit delayed in getting them up.   My apologies, everyone,  my lungs have been on a bit of a strike.

So there are two pieces of news that are quite exciting that I want to share.   The first being that I have sold a short story that will be included in the latest Lovecraft anthology from Alban Lake Publishing,  The Mad Visions of al-Hazred.    Publication date still to come and I will keep you updated!

The second major bit of news is that the Patreon for my short stories is now live.   Find it here .     I am super excited to have launched it and I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of that!

A lengthier update to follow later this week.   For now,  stay lovely and don’t eat those mushrooms the lady down the street offered you.  They’ll take you down the wrong sort of rabbit hole.

Podcast Recs: TANIS

Because storytelling is storytelling, no matter what form it takes.  There are some truly astounding podcasts out there for whatever you seem to be interested in. One of my favorites is TANIS, produced by the Pacific Radio Alliance and hosted by Nic Silver.  They have other amazing podcasts, but TANIS has a special place in my heart.

Tanis Logo (taken from Tanis Podcast website)

 

 

This podcast blends real life facts and fictional mythologies to give us a genuinely intriguing mystery.  Currently on season three, you’ll easily get swept away by Nic’s narrative as he tries to untangle the mysteries surrounding this maybe mythical, maybe not, place called TANIS.    You’ll meet some really amazing secondary characters and the web of Tanis will slowly but surely suck you in.   Like the website says, “Tanis is an exploration of the nature of truth, conspiracy, and information.”   What happens when the lines between reality and fiction start to blur together and you’re left wondering which side of the line you’re actually on.

Runners Wanted Poster ( taken from Tanis podcast website)

If you are anything like me, at some point, the words “NIC SILVER NO.  DO NOT DO THAT THING” will come out of your mouth at the phone/IThing/computer because there are several of those moments where you get involved in the lives and the shenanigans and you will possibly wonder if maybe, just maybe you are going to hear someone actually die over the radio. 

Anyways, if you enjoy things that are weird, things that are mysterious, the Cthulhu mythos, Jack Parsons, or random disappearances into strange forests, give this podcast a try.

Because after all.  There are wondrous things.  There are magical things. There are dangerous things.  We get what we deserve.

Runners Wanted.

Book Review: Invisible 3: Essays and Poems about Representation in SF/F

So as a quick disclaimer, I was always going to buy this book.  I was always going to make it part of the library of both digital and dead-tree format books that I have.   I personally know one of the people featured in it and Jim Hines as an editor was a huge selling point.    I have met him in person and while they say never meet your heroes, I was not disappointed in the slightest by meeting him.   He also gives super awesome hugs.   I had also heard great things about  Mary Anne Mohanraj who co-edited it with Jim.

I was always going to buy this book.   I knew I would read it and I had a feeling I would love it.  I knew from the premise that it would probably emotionally compromise me and I was not wrong there.  My tears are good tears, because this collection, while it points out where SF/F has failed or where we can do better as a genre with regards to representation for POC  and people with disabilities and alternative sexualities, it’s ultimately hopeful.

Cover of Invisible 3 ( taken from the Amazon page)

It starts conversations that we need to have.   Points out viewpoints that maybe we hadn’t stopped to consider before.   The essays and poems presented here are some of the finest writing I have seen and what each piece contributes is priceless.  The knowledge, the wisdom, the heart behind each piece is invaluable.

I can’t pick a favorite piece.  I’ve re-read this book twice now and I love all of them.   I will be purchasing it in every single format that it is released in because I want to support the people in it, because I want to support what they are after in producing such a work, and because I lend books freely to people and I need to have it accessible in whatever formats someone might need it in.  It is a wonderful collection that is both brilliant and necessary.

So if you have means, pick this up.  You won’t be disappointed at all.   And if you don’t have the ability to grab it or the library doesn’t have  it yet,  drop me a line and I am happy to lend it to you or send it to you.

Here is the link to the Kindle format on Amazon:  Invisible 3    The editors, Jim Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj are both on Twitter and elseplaces at @jimchines and @mamohanraj