Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

"Dude! You hacked your TiVo?"

01 November 2013

Tales from the archives.
In 2000-2001, I was an engineer at TiVo, working on the TiVo service. When I started, all TiVos were still using dialup to get schedule updates. One of the things we did during the time I was there was to record an over-the-air broadcast aimed at TiVos, clip it into little bits, and use that for a lot of TiVo content updates.
So there I was, with my engineering machine tethered to a TiVo daughterboard via a serial cable, working away on something. I needed a few minutes’ break while I ate my dinner, so I hopped on IRC.
Some kid in some linux-related channel was doing the geek version of the a/s/l check, posting his cat /proc/cpuinfo (from a Celeron, groan) and wanted to know what everyone else had.
Well, my workstation was faster than his, so I ran the command on my work TiVo and pasted it without comment into IRC. It was a 54MHz PowerPC, which was about 1/6 the speed of the server I had at home.
# cat /proc/cpuinfo<br></br>processor : 0<br></br>cpu : IBM 403GCX<br></br>clock : 54MHz<br></br>revision : 20.1<br></br>bogomips : 53.86<br></br>machine : Teleworld Customer Device
(Teleworld is the original name of TiVo, and TiVo machines are called “TCD” internally (for Teleworld Customer Device.))
Kid ridicules my slow machine, then someone else said, “Is that a TiVo?”
Kid’s like, “Dude! You hacked your TiVo?”
Suddenly, I became of great interest to everyone on the channel. All I said was, “I’m not a dude, I’m female.” (Normally, being from California, dude is an inclusive term and I don’t normally comment if someone calls me dude, but I just felt he needed it.)
“No way!” Kid genuinely couldn’t believe there were female software engineers. I felt really sorry for him, but wonder how much that changed him over 13 years, if at all.

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My First Publication

31 October 2013

When I talk about my writing, I generally start with my fiction writing, because that’s what’s turned out to be important to me.
My first paid publication, though, was in Computer Gaming World, Issue 1. (1.4MB PDF)
Before I’d been published in fiction, I’d been published in technical writings of various stripes. I had a column about computers for, and I quote my editor here, “double-digit IQ types.” (Over time, I’ve actually had three technical columns.)
I was very happy to have poetry published, as I considered it the “least like me” writing style of all. Another style I didn’t expect to be published in: creative non-fiction. I rather enjoyed it once I got the hang of it.
All of those happened before my first fiction sale (which was in 1991).

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Writing Repositories: Git? SVN?

30 October 2013

Apart from the fact that my writing process is complicated, the tech part of my writing process is also complicated.
One of my working goals was to be able to use source code management, so I write in plain text files. I have eight years of subversion repositories for my creative writing, and that was part of my goal: I don’t lose anything.
But: Given that I’m leaving the server where I’ve got subversion hosting and can therefore move to anything I want — where to go, what to do?
Also, I think I want to switch to git.
My history with these things:

  1. A novel is a directory, where the chapter files are named xxx-chap-nn.txt, other necessary files (e.g., a template file with things like author info and pseudonym) are in that same directory, and there’s a support directory with other files (like research notes)
  2. A short story is a single file in a directory of shorts. Until now, all my shorts were in the same repository (because that worked well with Subversion), but I think that’s the wrong answer.
  3. When I submit a piece, I create a subversion tag for that submission. So, instantly, I can look at a piece and see what I submitted for a given editor and how it has (or has not) changed since then.

How I get it from text files into the final version: I write in Markdown, render the Markdown into HTML, massage into XML, use XSL-FO with XSLT stylesheets to generate a PDF and RTF. It’s a fidgety process prone to breakage, and I’d actually like to just go straight to RTF/EPUB from HTML.
Dropbox gives me the freedom of a directory structure that iCloud sharing does not, so I could still keep my existing novel structure in Dropbox. That would make it possible to still use Subversion, but I’m not sure how well it’d work with git.
Other people have wondered why I have such a fiddly system. Because some editors still prefer Courier. Some want anything but Courier. (Personally, I’ve grown to like Courier, hate Times New Roman, and generally use Georgia as my “most compatible with everyone” font of choice.) Sometimes you want to print 1-1/2 lines for editing to save gobs of paper. Maybe you want to print a reading copy for someone.
With my old system, I can just use a different XSLT stylesheet. But I could just use something like (or exactly like) PhantomJS to inject a CSS stylesheet and document header information — et voila, HTML with stuff I don’t actually keep in my writing documents.
With MacOS X, I can convert from HTML to RTF easy peasy, so I don’t need the old messiness:
textutil -convert rtf novel-chap-01.html novel-chap-02.html novel-chap-03.html
So the question I have: Git or SVN for this? And why? And where to host (given that I don’t want to share my repositories with anyone)?
Here’s what I do care about and don’t care about:

  1. I need a fair number of private repositories. 100-ish.
  2. Don’t need other “developers” (aka writers).
  3. Space is not a concern. Books are small. Typical hardcover is ~1MB of text.
  4. SSL would be nice.
  5. Don’t need issue management or Trac or yada yada.

Looks like CloudForge is the best per this page, but that focuses on SVN hosting (though CloudForge does both). Let’s put it this way: GitHub is too expensive for the number of private repositories I want to have, so it’s a non-starter.
Edited to add: I specifically want offsite repos.

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Which iPad?

30 October 2013

Been meaning to write this for a while…. Dan Frommer talks about his changing use of an iPad after acquiring an iPad Mini.
John Gruber says in his iPad Air review:

There are so many millions of iPad users that no simple explanation can cover all use cases. But my take, since last year, has been that the full-size iPad is best seen as an alternative to a laptop, and the iPad Mini as a supplement to a laptop.

I thought I’d talk about my own evolution over the years, and talk about them in a larger context, going back to when I got my first iPad in 2010.
I’ve had an original iPad (wifi), an original iPad (3G) with an engraved autograph by Steve Jobs, and replaced it last year with a The New iPad, aka iPad 3, retina screen, 32 gigs, LTE. Over the years, I’ve had an original iPhone, an iPhone 3GS, a 4, 4S, and just acquired a 5 after my 4S was stolen.
I was given an iPad Mini last Christmas. Thank you Mr. Federighi.
Just like when I got my first iPad, I wasn’t sure how the new member of the family would fit in. Most of my coworkers used only one iPad. When I brought both iPads to meetings, they sometimes teased me about it.
I loved, loved, loved retina on my iPad. When I first got a retina device, I said, “Wow, it’s like getting a new pair of glasses.” And it is.
Despite the lack of a retina screen, I prefer using my iPad Mini for book reading — and I’m an avid book reader. Having an iPad Mini quintupled the rate at which I read books, which surprised me. Having an iPad at all tripled the rate at which I read books. Partly that’s just due to tired eyes: I prefer to read at night before I go to sleep, and I prefer to read with my glasses off. Over time, that meant I found larger text easier. Since print books hadn’t changed, that meant I was reading fewer and fewer. Not a good place for someone who writes.
Speaking of writing, I prefer to write on the full-sized iPad. I love the retina screen. I love my external Logitech keyboard for it. I like the form factor. It feels writing-sized. It reminds me of a cool little battery-operated typewriter I used to have that had a thermal print head and would store about a dozen sheets of paper in its lid.
Catch is, once I started using the iPad Mini a lot, my usage of the full-sized iPad dropped like a rock. I’d either reach for my laptop (which hardly went anywhere any more) or the iPad Mini. Honestly, I haven’t opened my iPad in days, and that’s typical for me now.
I prefer to watch videos on the iPad, especially with the retina screen. Catch is, I’m not doing that as much as I was before I got the iPad Mini.
Additionally, my iPad has LTE, but my iPad Mini is wifi only. For that reason alone, I haven’t been willing to give up my iPad — it’s my backup cellular device when I’m traveling, which was critical when my iPhone was stolen in July.
So consider the changes that the iPad Air and the iPad Mini Retina offer: I can get the same retina niceness, the same screen resolution — in a form factor I find more convenient.
Now consider that I switched from a 15″ MacBook Pro (weighing 5.6 pounds) to a 13″ MacBook Air last month (weighing 2.5 pounds). That weight and size difference? It’s huge. So you might think I’d want to keep the larger iPad form factor.
I really had to think about it, though.
As Gruber points out in his review, the iPad Air is the better device for those whose primary mobile device is an iPad rather than a laptop. I use a laptop as my only computer.
What matters most to me is: which device do I actually reach for? I keep both of them nearby when I sleep, but it’s almost always the Mini I reach for in the morning to check my email and Twitter. Unless I’m using a book as a reference while programming, I’ll use the Mini for reading. Otherwise, the size of the full-size iPad is helpful.
As soon as the new iPad Mini comes out, I’m selling both of my current iPads and getting a new iPad Mini.
I was so sure Gruber was wrong when he said, “Both the 11-inch Air and full-size iPad 3/4 make more sense to me as devices for people who only want to carry one portable computer. But if I’m going to carry both, I think it makes more sense to get a bigger MacBook and the smaller iPad Mini.”
However, my own usage patterns have shown one thing: that’s exactly what happened.

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Why Write

29 October 2013

Unlike a lot of people I know, writing didn’t come naturally to me. As a kid, I never felt the urge to write fiction. I wrote some songs, but that’s not really the same thing.
Music — that came far more easily to me. Dance was much, much harder, but I loved tap dance. By the time I was sixteen, I’d performed on stage as a dancer (my stage debut was tap dancing in a duck suit), singer, and on seven different instruments (alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, flute, piccolo, oboe, and viola). By the time I was eighteen, I added three more instruments (piano, guitar, and bass guitar).
I have an amazing memory for numbers. I also have an amazing memory for melodic lines. I can hear a piece, remember the melodic and harmonic lines and often improvise a counterpoint. For me, though, that’s more my math brain at work than my creative brain.
I love my math brain, don’t get me wrong. But I found I’m not happy if I’m not exercising both my math brain and my creative brain, and the math brain side gets plenty to do at work.
Which is no doubt why I didn’t stick with music. That, and I was always shy about having other people hear me practice. Performing was fine, but I cringed at practice rooms with glass doors.
Writing was harder than all of them, yet it’s what’s stuck with me. Why? I know younger me. If I’d had any idea it’d be as hard as it is, I would have given up.
Lawrence Block gave me the idea to write. I’d always been an avid reader. I’d read his fiction, and Telling Lies for Fun and Profit came out. Starved for another book, I read that too. Then my best friend Joyce started a writing group for our friends. If I wanted to hang out with the cool kids, I had to write.
So here are my first lines of fiction:

While waiting for a response, Gilbert’s beeper made a raspberry sound. He calmly moved his hand to silence it, and, in his haste, knocked it to the ground. It shattered with a last mournful wail. Gilbert’s faced turned raspberry, no doubt to match the sound.

Beepers. Those were the days. This was supposed to be a science fiction novel. Sigh. At least the character wasn’t waking up. Joyce said it was like “waltzing with Frankenstein,” clarifying that it was incredibly awkward, but it got there.
The interesting thing to me is that I wrote it in third person, which is most common. I soon found I was blocked if I didn’t draft in first person. For me, formal essay writing is like pulling teeth, and because writing in third person reminded me too much of essay writing, all my fiction first drafts had to be in first person or I’d freeze up. So I’d draft in first person, then edit it into third person (if that was the right viewpoint). Total pain. It was years before I could draft in third person.
And I didn’t know anything. I’m not someone who actually learns about book structure or style by reading books. When I read, I get caught up in the world, and rarely see the structure so long as I stay in readerspace.
So I learned writing through workshops and critique groups. In addition to the experience in my BA and MA programs, I went to Odyssey, Clarion, and Viable Paradise (twice). I can’t actually tell you how many shorter workshops I’ve been to. At every single one, I learned something important to me, even if that something was, “ignore this person’s advice.”
Yet, I’ve heard people diss the workshopping experience as if it’s only for “those other writers” who lack confidence. Sure, I’ll cop to having lacked a good chunk of that, too, but that’s not why I went. I went to learn, and learn I did.
Many writers struggle with understanding their creative process. Each person’s is unique, though each work has its own distinct process challenges. One of the things I’d learned is that I’m really really not a planner when it comes to writing. I’m of the E.L. Doctorow school: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” I’ve never been sure if that’s because my career (software engineering) has typically required a lot of planning, and I need to go into a different headspace — or what. Overplanning means the energy of the book fizzles, never to be caught again.
What’s the right amount of planning for me? I was in grad school for my MA in Writing Popular Fiction, and I had to turn in a synopsis. This is often the thing that kills a book’s energy for me, so I was pretty terrified. I was out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant with my husband and my mom, and the place was one of those that had paper placemats. Service was unusually slow that day, so I started writing numbers diagonally down the piece of paper. I had twenty-four submissions to do over four terms, so I wrote the numbers 1-24. Next to each, I wrote a short (2-5 word) description of what the chapter was about. That was the right amount of planning to get me through the first draft of 102,000 words. For me, that amount of planning usually comes about 1/4 of the way into the book. I can (and do) write entirely blind until then. I call it “backing into a book.”
Yet short fiction is quite different for me: I write the opening, I write the last line (most frequently) or last scene, then I write the middle. I need that map tack to work toward.
In 2010, my MA program decided to become an MFA program, and I went back “for the F,” as some of us put it.
Catch is, I’d changed a lot as a writer, and what I felt I needed wasn’t something I felt the program would provide, so I dropped out. I’ve wondered in the interim if I was just being an idiot. This year, I went to Milford, my sole significant workshop in quite a few years.
What I learned was that my instincts were correct — I had, somehow, managed to put together the remaining pieces I needed as a writer in the interim. This doesn’t mean I always see what the problems are in my own work, of course, nor does it mean that I don’t have work to do. It’s just that I know what to do and how to solve things, which didn’t used to be the case.
My first drafts can be just as awful as they ever were, but the surprise is that they aren’t necessarily that crappy. Somehow, finally, I had internalized the pieces I needed to know.
Then, last night, I wrote the synopsis for a book I’ve written one page of, and I didn’t feel the energy of the book fizzle. Will I be able to write this book now that I have a deeper sense of the plot and characters than I usually start with? Who knows.
Writing’s an evolving set of challenges, which is, no doubt, why it continues to hold me captive after all these years.

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Hugo Short Story Recommendation: The Slow Winter by James Mickens

26 October 2013

The Hugo Awards] Yes, I’m recommending a technical paper written by a Microsoft researcher for a Hugo Award for Best Short Story.
Wait.
Come back.
There is a narrative in there….about the 2nd person narrator, son John, and the generational differences in chip design between the two of them.

As a child in 1977, John had met Gordon Moore; Gordon had pulled a quarter from behind John’s ear and then proclaimed that he would pull twice as many quarters from John’s ear every 18 months. Moore, of course, was an incorrigible liar and tormentor of youths, and he never pulled another quarter from John’s ear again, having immediately fled the scene while yelling that Hong Kong will always be a British territory, and nobody will ever pay $8 for a Mocha Frappuccino, and a variety of other things that seemed like universal laws to people at the time, but were actually just arbitrary nouns and adjectives that Moore had scrawled on a napkin earlier that morning.

John learned about the rumored Intel Septium chip, a chip whose prototype had been turned on exactly once, and which had leaked so much voltage that it had transformed into a young Linda Blair and demanded an exorcism before it embarked on a series of poor career moves that culminated in an inevitable spokesperson role for PETA.

He would then throw a coffee cup at the speaker and say that adding new hardware features would require each processor to be connected to a dedicated coal plant in West Virginia. John’s coworkers eventually understood his wisdom, and their need to wear coffee-resistant indoor ponchos lessened with time.

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Author Marketing

24 October 2013

Chuck Wendig writes about his dislike of some author self-marketing strategies.
This.
So much this.
I’ve been in this community for a long time and I’ve seen a lot of people promoting books in various ways. Some authors build berms of their books in front of them at panels, as though they need defenses from the audience they intend to attract.
But here’s the thing: not only am I not going to promote your book if you spam me, I’m extremely unlikely to read it. I’ll almost never promote a book I haven’t read (though I may promote it while reading it).
On the flip side: most of the books I’ve liked this year were ones I never heard about through any promotion other than the publisher’s own “Coming Soon” title list. I read the descriptions, decided the book sounded interesting, and off I went with no other marketing at all.

Ways To Turn Me Off As a Reader

  1. Claim that you are a bestseller. I know, right? This one should be a gimme. But: I’m a person who likes underdogs, so I tend to avoid the popular memes. A non-book example: as a kid, I loved musicals. Still do. (Most recently-seen live theatre performance? Spamalot.) But everyone fawns all over Glee. Despite watching my fair share of television, I’ve never seen an episode.
  2. Tell me that your book is “just like” some other book. Though I do love weird high-concept mashup descriptions like my description of one of my own novels: “It’s Twilight meets Step Into Liquid.” Or the example from one of my favorite movies, The Player: “It’s Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman.”
  3. Try to tweet/FB post a bunch of stuff about your book’s content. I’m not talking the occasional “OMG, I got a great review!” squee. That’s fine. I’m talking about the people who actually try to put significant bits of content into social media form. Look. You have a web site, put that shit there. And, for the sake of all that is holy, please put an excerpt on your site. For a novella, 1-2 pages. For a novel, 2-5. That’s my preference, anyway. Long enough for me to decide if I want to download a sample and read more.

How To Catch Me As a Reader Via Social Media

  1. Put a link to your web site in your Twitter profile.
  2. Tweet things I’m interested in. Avoid tweets about stuff I don’t care about.

It really is that simple. You may be a lovely person, but I probably don’t care about your book. Yet.
The corollary: just because I like you doesn’t mean I’ll identify with your fiction.
And the flip side: just because I love your book doesn’t mean I think you’re worth knowing. Case in point: Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead are books I loved when I read them.

A Tale of a Favorite Book

I thought I’d write the timeline of how my current favorite novel, Charles Stross’s Halting State became my favorite book.
In 2001 and 2002, I worked part-time at Kepler’s bookstore in Menlo Park. I told Cory Doctorow that we had a copy of his book on writing science fiction in stock, and he came in to autograph it.
Around that time, open source advocate Eric S. Raymond happened to be in San Francisco for his birthday, and Rick and I and Cory and Eric went out for dinner to a Moroccan restaurant in San Francisco. Eric didn’t like the place, but Cory loved it — and that created a moment of connection.
When Charlie’s story “Lobsters” appeared in Asimov’s in 2001, Cory waxed poetic about it. One particular line caught me, and I loved the story, so I voted for it for the 2002 Hugo awards.
At the 2002 Worldcon, I congratulated Charlie on his nomination, and he was really nice. That moment created a more direct connection with Charlie. Yet, one of the things that happened to me after Clarion (which I had just finished) was that I burned out as a reader for years. At that particular point, I couldn’t read anything without hearing my entire Clarion class live critiquing it.
During the next few years, Rick had read quite a few of Charlie’s other works. I hadn’t.
Then, for some reason, I got a bee in my bonnet when Charlie was on tour in 2011, appearing at Borderlands Books, talking about Rule 34, the sequel to Halting State. Rick and I sat in the front row, and I loved Charlie’s talk. As both titles are very much internet-y books (and, hey, my license plate is XKCD 386), I wanted to read the sequel, but not until after I read the first book. Which I then did.
Halting State didn’t unseat Tim Powers’s The Anubis Gates as my favorite book on the first read, and Tim remains my favorite author. But Halting State is much more a “me” book in the way FlashForward is the most “me” television series ever produced.

So You’ve Caught My Attention, Now What Happens?

Not every book I love will have an eleven-year saga and require three personal connections. Thank God.
Let’s say you caught my attention by following me on Twitter.

  1. First thing I’ll do is check out your Twitter profile, which comes to me via email. If you sound interesting there, we go to step 2. If you are a horror writer or like writing about werewolves, we probably stop right here. I’m more likely to follow you if I think you’re funny.
  2. I’ll look at your Twitter stream. Do you tweet interesting stuff that’s not redundant to what I already get following others? If so, I may follow you. Your chances are best if you’re a modest (in quantity) tweeter.
  3. Whether I follow you on Twitter or not, if you seem like you might be an interesting writer from your Twitter stream and profile, I’ll look at your web page. I have seen a fuckton of web pages in my time, and I’m very judgmental about them. Is it tasteful? (This? Just don’t.) Can I read your page? Are your works easy to find? Is there an excerpt? (More important than reviews, people, come on. I only care about what I think of your work.)
  4. If I follow you on Twitter and you direct message me with something promotional in response, I will unfollow you and it will forever leave a bad taste in my mouth. No matter how interesting you are.
  5. So, I found your web site and I found your excerpt. Let’s say I like it. Then I open iBooks, go to the iBooks store, and download a sample. That’s my “To Be Read” pile these days. I don’t generally buy the book until I’ve finished the sample. If your book’s not available in iBooks, it’s extremely unlikely I will read it. Generally, I’ll only do that for authors where I’ve read everything there is to buy in iBooks and am hunting other prey of that author’s. Wait, your book is in paper? The last paper book I purchased was Ngā Mōteatea, a bilingual book of Maori songs (one of several volumes). If it’s not that obscure or interesting, I won’t be buying it in paper.
  6. Unfortunately, books can sit around in my to-be-read pile for some time. I have 35 paid-for (or free) books that are waiting to be read (two are books I’m not yet willing to admit I’ve given up on). I have samples for another 60 books, and some of those have been sitting around for a year.

Here’s five books in my sample pile:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy
Perv by Jesse Bering
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Steady Beat by Lexxie Couper
That’s what you’re up against.

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Counting Countries

22 October 2013

Once you get to more than a handful of countries, they start becoming difficult to count.
Consider the problem I had recently: I was at Manchester airport, about to board a flight to the Isle of Man, and domestic departures are one way and international departures are the other.
Which way should I go?
I stood there, stuck, not sure what the right answer was.
Isle of Man’s a little island between Wales, England, and Scotland on one side and Northern Ireland on the other. It’s got the oldest continuously-running parliament in the world. It has its own currency. It has its own official languages. It has its own passports. Unlike the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), the Isle of Man is not a part of the European Union.
For more about their relationship (and the whole mess generally), here’s CGP Grey’s wonderful video:

So, from a customs and immigrations standpoint, it occurred to me that maybe it was treated as an international flight. Instinct, however, told me that it was probably treated as a domestic one because most of the people coming/going would be arriving via the UK and it would be treated in the simplest possible manner.
Which, it turns out, happened to be the case.
Nevertheless, I counted Isle of Man as the 88th country I’ve visited.
I bring this up because there’s a new map showing where “all” the (196) countries are and I asked the question in the comments: “Why is 196 the right answer?”
As I also say, I use three different lists to keep track of country counts. The most restrictive (UN) lists 193 countries. The next most restrictive is the ISO Country Code (ISO 3166) list, which has 247 entries. The least restrictive is the Travelers Century Club list, which has 321.
Examples of some differences in my own visited countries:
UN and ISO counts England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as the UK, but TCC separates them because they follow their guidelines of “geographically, politically, or ethnologically distinct.”
UN counts Hong Kong and Macau as a part of China. ISO and TCC separate them. They have separate currencies, immigration policies, passports, visas, and official languages. As a practical matter, they are distinct.
TCC counts Hawaii and Alaska separately because of how far they are from the Continental US. TCC and ISO also both count Guam, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, etc. separate from the US. That’s partly because the TCC list is really aimed at travelers who are looking to broaden their horizons and because Guam is a very different experience than St. Croix or Hilo or Omaha.
Anyhow, it’s a complicated question. You might think it’s easy to determine what’s a country vs. what’s not, but it all depends on the definition, doesn’t it? 33 countries in the UN don’t recognize Israel as a state, and you can’t have a country without some recognition by other countries. So when is enough? When do the Cook Islands get their due?
When is enough for it to become a distinct blob on a map? When I was a kid, I had a globe with Ifni separately marked on it. I remember because it was one of the smallest places marked on the globe. Like now, I was fascinated by enclaves and exclaves (and enclaves within exclaves, like Nahwa).
World Map © alextrim and used under license.

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What Books Can Do

19 October 2013

Not long after I started reading a lot of science fiction, I thought I should read “the classics.” Catch is, many of them didn’t really interest me as much as they supposedly should have.
I remember struggling through Dune and I was about 2/3 of the way through. For me, the book never “caught” — it never became an easier read — and generally I’ll give a difficult book about 1/3 of the way through to catch. (As a comparison with a more recent book, it took about 1/3 of the way through for The Windup Girl. Incredible book.)
Anyhow, I happened to see this article again today when I was checking Don Melton’s blog to see if there were any updates, and thought back to reading Dune.
Back then, I called his sister up and we went to Denny’s. She was writing in a notebook (as she often did), and I was reading. At the time, California was going through a drought and there was a law passed about not serving water in restaurants unless the customer asked.
Without my asking, the waitress brought me water, and I was offended. It’s then that I realized the book had creeped in under my defenses and changed me.
I remember thinking: Nicely done, Mr. Herbert.

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