lunes, 31 de diciembre de 2007

On New Year's and Sour Grapes

Here's a Spanish custom for you today:

Tonight, at 12 o'clock, a big fat clock at the 0 km of Madrid will start chiming. The 0 km is where all the roads start counting kilometres, since until recently all roads went through Madrid (and people still wonder why the Catalans and Basques hate us...)

So, first you have the warning chimes, which are like seconds or something and then you get the gong, gong, gong of the actual hour. So, with each gong, you're 'sposed to eat one grape. If you don't choke and die by the end of the twelve gongs and have managed to finish your twelve grapes, you'll be lucky for the next year!

Pagan custom? I don't think so.

In the 18th century there was a huge harvest of grapes. So the grape people went to the King, who was Charles III and said: Oh, mighty King, may we throw the grapes into the sea so that the insurance company will pay us monies?

And the King said: you may not, for those insurance companies of which you speak do not yet exist, although I may have to invent them for my private profit. Instead, let us con a whole nation into eating grapes on New Year's Eve, so that the harvest will be sold, and at a great price.

And so it was.

But, but, but... was that the end of Teh Spanish Crazy?

No! One fine year, in a little town (don't remember well), the lights went out on New Year's Eve so that they couldn't eat their grapes watching their TV's. And so the inhabitants went to the Mayor and said: Oh, woe on us, who didn't eat our grapes. Are we unlucky for the coming year?

And the Mayor said: Not in the least, we'll change the date to August 31st and eat grapes anyway and advertise in the papers and get lots of tourists because, really, New Year's is fine, but it'd be better if it were warmer.

And so it was. And now that town lives off tourism. On August 31st.

That's Spain for you.

So, gotta go choke on my grapes and cava (Spanish equivalent to Champagne, but the French don't let us call it Champagne, for some reason). Some people buy their grapes canned and peeled, but my family are all macho (and cheap about it) and our grapes have skins and pits to chew/choke on. When I was younger I remember the chimes went faster, but they've been slowed as a result of the aging Spanish population (we wouldn't want any of the old folks to die, now would we?) and as a result the tradition has been completely sissified. Oh well, macho customs of choking for luck don't last forever.

So, happy New Year or whatever crazy passes for New Year wherever you come from. And don't choke on your grapes. Sour or otherwise.

(By the way, my History is like my reviews: a helluva a lot of embellishment + one pinch of truth. Don't take me to court for that: I like my reality distorted. It's a lot more fun this way. So there)

martes, 25 de diciembre de 2007

Merry Christmas...

... from the bottom of my oesophagus.

There, I said it. I can try to be merry now.

The only thing that helps is that this is possibly the last Christmas I will ever have to celebrate: I plan on being on call for each and every yucky holiday from not until the day I retire.

Oh, and if you do enjoy the holidays, well, good for you, and sorry for the snark. I don't like cola drinks but I'm ok with people liking the stuff. Let's be mature and accept that some people feel the same way about Christmas. Just because I don't like it doesn't mean we can't be friends.

If you're like me, survive and think that it'll all be over soon. Sadly, in Spain we have the Three Kings on the 8th, so the whole family-meal thing won't be over until then. Congratulate yourself thinking that your Christmas is almost over.

If you actually like the Holidays, have a merry one with lots of gifts and lots of pie.

jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2007

Laugh or Cry?

Ben Payne has taken my frustration at some of the SF I've read lately and put it in words.

It hurts so much I think I'll have to laugh.

viernes, 14 de diciembre de 2007

A Whimpering Mess of Spiritual Constipation

Ok people, the big day is coming. I should have realized this about six months ago, but it hit me yesterday that my exam is on January 19th. That's little more than a month to revise everything that can come up in the exam--ie: all the Medicine in the World.

Some people say God is so obviously not a woman. Well, God is so obviously not a doctor either, or he wouldn't have all these diseases so complicated. The fact that these things kill people is no longer an issue. I'm studying to pass and right now, to be sincere, I don't much care about any hypothetical patients. Ever wondered how the empathy was beaten out of your doctor? This is how.

I haven't been able to write for a month or so (except for the micro story I wrote for that editor--he knows who he is). Ideas keep building up faster than I can bat them aside to focus on my books. Hell, even the books make me think of story ideas. And, guess what? Ideas spawned by miastenia gravis? Not so good. I'm spiritually constipated and ideas keep throwing themselves at the blockage. The blockage is January 19th. I wish once that's done all these ideas will come out nice and easy. But from experience with previous pre-exam idea barrages, I doubt that's going to happen.

miércoles, 5 de diciembre de 2007

lunes, 3 de diciembre de 2007

It's official: Godtouched in Czech

Pevnost will translate and reprint Godtouched, which originally appeared in Strange Horizons. This is a particularly important step in my World Domination Plan since my maternal grandfather is Czech and will now love me for ever.

And you know me, I like to make the grandparents happy. They may be old and look frail, but anyone who'se survived the Korean War or the Spanish Civil War (respectively) while holding down three jobs or blackmarketing (respectively) to survive is guaranteed to keep an ace up their sleeve. And you know what? I'm not sure I wanna see that ace just yet. Besides, grandparents are sweet.

I have three surviving grandparents, which I think speaks well for my genes. My Spanish grandfather died more than ten years ago. During the Franco Dictatorship, he maintained his membership to the outlawed Communist Party and kept the card around his house. That's my definition of cojones, people. And before anyone starts screaming about commies, Spanish commies were the good guys during the dictatorship. Their connection to Russia was nominal at most and they were the only people putting up a decent underground and insurgency (There was also ETA, but we've all seen how they turned out. Anyone claiming that they're anything more than the black hole that attracts the psychopaths that any society seems to produce, regardless of social structure, needs to get their heads checked)

Then there's my Spanish grandmother. She didn't get much schooling, because her dad died when she was young and she started working as a seamstress at age 12. But she reads fast, man and when I mean fast, I mean faster than I did when I was 15. And that was really fast. I guess this comes from working at a kiosk for the last 60 years. You gotta scan the material. We've tried to get her to stop working, but she won't listen. She still spends a couple of hours each day helping my uncle. I guess it gives her something to do, but I wish she'd stay inside during the worst of the winter. She's 83 after all.

Grandparents on the American side. My grandma grew up in a German farm, with people who didn't speak much English. She was discouraged from going into MedSchool by some priest who told her to leave the well-paying jobs for men who had to support their families. She then went on to teach High School and have nine kids. She could have used the well paying job. Needless to say, she's very proud of me being a doctor. She writes poetry and does little craft things with paper and poems which have been showcasted in the Milwaukee art Museum. She ran marathons until recently. You go grandma!

And then there's grandpa Ptacek. Jeremy or Jaroslav in Czech. I can't even remember all the things he's done. He's the guy who had three jobs to put 9 kids through college. And he flew an airforce jet. And he was in the reserve, some. Like the Spanish grandma, he narrowly escaped death more than a few times. In Spain, we call this "being born with a flower on your ass". It means you're born lucky, dunno what the flower has to do with it. Anyway, I sure hope it's a hereditary condition.

lunes, 26 de noviembre de 2007

Sale to Desolate Places

Death and Love in Gehanna has been accepted by Desolate Places, an anthology about, well, desolate places published by Hadley Rille Books. The minute I saw the premise of the antho, I knew I needed to send them this story. I can't think of a more desolate place than a frozen continent peopled only by a couple crazy exhiles and a semi-sentient albino pantiger.

I think this is the first time my work will appear in book format. Gotta love them milestones.

This sale was much needed. I haven't been able to write for the past few weeks and was starting to feel all down and spiritually constipated. On top of that, Intestines were kicking my ass that week (this week it's Heart, but he behaves a lot better and doesn't make me feel like a hopeless loser). Percentiles suck. Keeping them up sucks even more. I'm starting to feel the drain of studying for this damn exam and can't wait to get it over with. This sale put a bit of color in my week.

January 19th. I'm dreading the day, of course, but part of me just want to sit through all 5h of the exam now and be free!

miércoles, 21 de noviembre de 2007

Helix SF

Check out this review of the first year of Helix SF.

Three novelettes were among my favorite stories. John Barnes’s "Rod Rapid and His Electric Chair" (January) is a very mordantly funny send up of a Tom Swift-like series of books and the racist and fascist views expressed therein. Also from January, "The Narcomancer", by N. K. Jemisin, tells of a man who brings peace to those who need it by easing their way to death -- at considerable personal cost. "The Snake’s Wife", by Ann Leckie (October) is a story of dynastic struggles between two regions in a fantastical world, and also as legitimately shocking as any Helix story so far. It's a story of war, forced marriage, mutilation, and revenge: ultimately suggesting that the promises of gods may come true but ought to regarded with great suspicion. Other particularly strong novelettes came from William Sanders and from Jennifer Pelland.

Of the short stories I liked Esther Friesner’s sharply satirical "A Sacred Institution" (July), in which a slimy politician marries his dog but runs into trouble when aliens show up who demand that promises like marriage be kept. And N. K. Jemisin’s "The Brides of Heaven" (July), set on a harsh alien world in which an Islamic colony seems doomed because all their male colonists died in an accident, until one colonist decides that true obedience to God requires a particular, chilling, solution. And Robert Reed's "The Hoplite" (April) is an effective and dark variation on the "eternal soldier" theme. Other good short stories came from Sara Genge, Vylar Kaftan, Michael Payne, Samantha Henderson, and Jay Lake.

Indeed, on looking over the magazine's sum of stories I am again impressed -- there is a lot of nice work here.


Yeah, baby. I've gotten quite a bit of love for Pretty Little Thing. I think Helix has done a great job getting good work and putting it out there and I am glad that Clapping for the Fairies has landed me a second publication in this ezine.

domingo, 18 de noviembre de 2007

Couldn't Resist






Which Discworld Character are you like (with pics)
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax

You are Granny Weatherwax! The most powerful witch on the Disc! You often use headology rather than actual spells, and are a very good witch, despite the fact that you sometimes wish you were a bad one. You play a mean game of Cripple Mr. Onion, and have a very powerful stare. By the way, you should really get that broom fixed…


Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax


81%

Lord Havelock Vetinari


75%

The Librarian


69%

Carrot Ironfounderson


69%

Gytha (Nanny) Ogg


63%

Death


56%

Rincewind


31%

Greebo


25%

Commander Samuel Vimes


25%

Cohen The Barbarian


13%


viernes, 16 de noviembre de 2007

Why Is Racism Ok In Spain?

Seriously. The Spanish Big Brother has a participant called, Amor, who makes constant unambiguous racist comments towards another contestant. Telecinco, the TV network which shows the program, denounces her racism but doesn't stop her. This is not a cable network and children watch this.

Amor gets off light because she's a male-to-female transexual. Now, since when is being part of a minority and excuse to behave like this? Why isn't anyone calling her on it? Something similar (although much less blatant) happened on the British Big Brother: the participant was expelled and, if my memory serves me well, there was even a formal statement from the government saying that THIS WAS NOT OK. The LGTB magazine Cero has her on the front-page this month. Why aren't people screaming at Cero? How can a gay magazine condone this person? They'll probably argue that they don't condone her behaviour, but wtf? They're giving her publicity, she's becoming a minor celebrity. This is sick.

This is made even more convoluted by the fact that the guy who she attacks is an avowed homophobe. Please, don't make us watch this. Kick them both out. This is denigrating to everyone, black, white, gay and straight.

Somebody adopt me. I want me a new country; the ones I have, suck.

jueves, 15 de noviembre de 2007

Beware The Eye

Yep, Eyes today. I kept being reminded of the Eye of Mordor. This one was equally malevolent and for the 5 hours that I stared at it, it didn't blink--not once. Is personifying my study material a sign of mental illness? The books say no, but I have to wonder.

Please remind me why I'm doing this.

martes, 13 de noviembre de 2007

Uncle Kidney Wants YOUR Brains

The Kidneys are back, and they're wooping my ass. I've tried studying Nephrology in every way that is known to man or woman, and some that only Extraterrestrials with particularly quaint urethras could think of (sorry, Jason, couldn't help it, sorry, sorry, sorry), but I just keep forgetting it as soon as I've finished memorizing it.

I think they demand a sacrifice. Of my pickled brains. I'm not sure I'm about to give those up. I mean, you'd think my social life and sanity would be enough for the critters, but oh, no, they want my brains too.

And today, the Ear joined the fray--taking the Kidney's side. Now, come on! Otology was never meant to be difficult to understand (only funny to say). Finding, so late in my internship preparation, that even Otology is giving me hell, doesn't do much for my morale.

viernes, 9 de noviembre de 2007

domingo, 4 de noviembre de 2007

Apex Digest Holiday Subscription Drive

Apex Digest is having a subscription drive throughout the month of November. Their aim is to get 100 new subscriptions and raise pay rates to 2.5 cents/word.

BUT, if they get more, they'll raise the rates accordingly. It's a far shot, but 500 new subscriptions would mean 5c/word, the pay required by HWA and SFWA to consider a market professional.

Apex is a good looking mag, which has published the likes of Cherie Priest, Lavie Tidhar, Ian Creasey, Nancy Fulda, Kevin J. Anderson, Geoffrey Girard etc. Each issue contains a diverse assortment of dark science fiction by established writers and new voices. A one year subscription costs 20$, two years 34$ and there are discounts for gift subscriptions.


The full announcement is here

Each person who posts/gets a subscription/gets a friend to subscribe enters the drawing for Apex for Life--a lifetime subscription of Apex, and a crazy mug.

Subscribe to Apex--the field needs more good professional magazines.

viernes, 2 de noviembre de 2007

Neener from Interzone May Slush

Interzone bounced "Slow Stampede", which was being held from the Interzone May Slush. Oh, well, I got some comments on it that may help future rewrites.

I think "Godtouched" is being reprinted in Czech in Pevnost, but I don't know when. My Grandfather is Czech so obviously, he's very proud of me now.

And the Villa Diodati juice is still running high. I wrote a 3500-ish word story today and am typing it into the computer as of now. It actually has a less-than-depressing ending and a clear plot arc, for a change. Sword and Sorcery with an over 50 female sword-wielder as MC. Interesting voice to write in.

I'm going to juice it up with nice crunchy sensory details and hit some editor on the head with it, hopefully next wednesday when I pass close to a post office.

jueves, 1 de noviembre de 2007

The Sweet Spot in Apex Digest

My story "Dear Diary" which is part of the Dear Diary series published in dailycabal, is in the tentative TOC for Apex 12.

Here's the full list:

Brian Keene & Steven Shrewsbury - "Death Comes For All"
Paul Jessup - "Post Flesh"
Michael West - "To Know How to See"
Ryck Neube - "Feverish Solutions"
Joy Marchand - "Clementine"
Geoffrey Girard - "Cain 4"
Sara Genge - "Dear Diary"

Interviews:
Laura Anne Gilman
Jeff VanderMeer - (interviewed by Hal Duncan)

I've always had a soft spot for the Apex's parting shot. I'm a lazy reader, so the flash is the first or second story I read in every issue. I don't usually write with a magazine in mind, but in this particular case, I spent some time trying for Apex-length flashes. This was nicely compatible with producing material for Daily Cabal: if it was under 400, it went there, otherwise, to Apex.

Then, of course, Dear Diary turned out to be fantasy. Luckily, Apex took it all the same.

miércoles, 31 de octubre de 2007

Galumphing back from Villa Diodati



In case you thought my post on Villa Diodati sounded too good to be true, check out these post by people who don't have my reputation for wanton exaggeration.

Nancy Fulda thinks Villa Diodati is like college without the homework.

Aliette de Bodard wrote a lot, but doesn't she always?

Ruth Nestvold calls it a sublimely wonderful workshop.

Picture supplied by Ruth.

martes, 30 de octubre de 2007

Villa Diodati Workshop

I'm back home after a blast of a weekend.

I'd had some experience with live workshopping from the Madrid Writer's Critique Group, but nothing near as extensive and intensive as this. We spent three glorious days in a German castle with a moat and a gorgeous garden, sipping tea, coffee and wine, chatting about everything, crittin' and writin' writin' writin'!

I got to meet six writers who've gone straight to my list of favorite people.

Ruth Nestvold organized the whole affair. I never imagined she'd have such an exuberant personality. She had us laughing the whole time and she was generous with her knowledge of writing and the publishing world. Imagine having someone who is as accomplished and talented as she is, locked up in a castle with you and knowing she can't run away from your questions! Awesome! Thanks, Ruth, for putting this together.

Nancy Fulda is sweet and funny and also shared her writing and editing experience. She endured my conversation for the two hour drive from Frankfurt to Mosbach and back. Big thanks for picking me up and dropping me off at Frankfurt!

Deanna Carlyle writes chicklit and YA and has a great eye for plot. She was the only one of us from outside the genre, which was good, since she challenged our views of how things are and showed us how an SF story looks like to a mainstream reader. Her insight was hugely valuable and she's a blast to be around with.

John Olsen has a beautiful lyrical writing style. I loved the story he had up for critique. He made us a three course meal for supper on Sunday that was absolutely great. Great sense of humour. He stoically put up with five jabbering women.

Aliette de Bodard. What can I say? I already knew her from Liberty Hall, and she's already great over the Internet but she was absolutely hilarious in person. We shared a room and chatted long into the night. She and I were the only two people there who'd grown up outside of the US, so I found we shared some common experiences. We've both decided to write in English because our other languages don't have a strong Speculative readership. We've both come to American culture in a roundabout way. What can I say? I can't wait to see what she writes next.


The weekend also turned out to be totally affordable. We paid 127e for three nights of lodging and food. Although we doubled up, the rooms were so huge that I didn't feel cramped. There was loads of little nooks to write in. The bathrooms were humongous, with a fresco of Botticelli's Aphrodite, of all things. There was a giant bathtub (yes, I took a bath, something I haven't done in years).

In the garden, there was a plastic mannequin in a nightgown half submerged in the river. The leaves from the trees kept falling. We have mostly perennials in Spain, so watching red crunchy leaves fall was a treat.

I wouldn't be surprised if some of us end up setting a story in that castle.

It was decided that there had to be another workshop next year. Villa Diodati lives!

jueves, 25 de octubre de 2007

Villa Diodati Workshop Weekend

It's here! It's arrived! It's real!

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Frankfurt to participate in the Villa Diodati Worshop. This workshop was devised for expat English Speculative Fiction writers who usually don't have the time and cash to go to the US for workshops and conventions. This year, there are five of us: Nancy Fulda, Ruth Nestvold, John Olsen, Deanna Carlyle and me, but if all goes well, I expect we'll repeat the experience next year (hint: if you want to join, drop me an email).

Ruth got this webpage going http://www.lit-arts.net/VillaDiodati/

We're staying at Schloß Lohrbach, which is a Castle. With a Moat.

This Moated Castle looks awesome

I'd like to think of this as more than a consolation prize for European writers. My foreign reprints of Godtouched have taught me that there's a whole wide world outside of the American SF community, and I'd love to cultivate that. European SF could really lift off, if we just gave it a push.

On a different note, the Apex Raffle is still OPEN until October 31st. The number of yummy items on the list is mind boggling. Besides, it's a way to bet with a clean conscience, seeing as how it's for a good cause. A percentage goes to the National Centre For Family Literacy. Actually, upon second thought I'm not sure giving money to them is "altruist". After all, literate people are a writer's bread and butter.

domingo, 21 de octubre de 2007

Ennea

I self-google for a number of reasons, ego kicks being the most obvious, but more often, I self-google just to keep track of the conversations I've commented on in different blogs. I could tag these blogs, of course, but then I'd forget to check them and besides I end up tagging too many things and never get around to going back to any of them. Yes, I'm a dissaster.

Anyway, my weekly self-google turned out this.
which bablefish says contains my name and the word "Ennea" so I'm guessing Godtouched is already out in Greek. I can't read the comment, which the bablefish rendering seems to imply is negative (still, no way to tell for sure with an automatic translation). If anyone speaks Greek and would like to tell me the gist of the post... It's not a big deal, but I like to know what people thought of my stuff.

sábado, 13 de octubre de 2007

"Clapping for the Fairies" sold to Helix SF

Helix SF has agreed to buy "Clapping for the Fairies", a second person, choose-your-own-adventure, lesbian horrortale written for the Liberty Hall Shimmer sponsored contest.

This is the second story I've sold to Helix (check out Pretty Little Thing) and I'm happy that it's found such a good home.

miércoles, 10 de octubre de 2007

Godtouched to be translated

It appears that Ennea wants to publish the translation in Greek of Godtouched.

Ennea is published on Wednesdays with the Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia. Ennea has around 200.000 readers and is possibly the Greek Comic and SF mag.

Yes, I'm getting published in Greek. I'm immensely proud. I still don't have details about the issue I'll be in, but I'll post about it as soon as I know.

Anyone speak Greek? I'd love to have someone read the translation and tell me how it correlates to the original.

domingo, 7 de octubre de 2007

Apocalypse Meme

Picked this one up from bymeaclue

Am I lame? Seriously yes, but what's more worrying, I'm still better than 99% of respondents of my age and gender. If the aliens come, we're all going to die!!!!



Your chance of survival: Preparedness: 27%, City Skills: 71%, Survival Skills: 47%, Nature Skills: 38%



“There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind. But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life.”

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”

“Even the end of the world is described as if it were only an exceptionally hot afternoon.”

“The heart of a man to the heart of a maid - Light of my tents, be fleet - Morning awaits at the end of the world, And the world is all at our feet.”

"If I left you alone in the woods with a hatchet, how long before you could send me an e-mail?"

Link: The Apocalypse Survival Test written by mike_ix a>

martes, 2 de octubre de 2007

Disquiet

Started writing a story today in the Metro and jarred to a halt after a page or so, not because I don't know where I'm going, but because of disquiet.

This is an odd feeling that hits me whenever I touch on something "serious" in my writing. "Serious" is a lame definition for it: I can write about serious stuff as long as I feel entitled to do so, but there are certain topics that make me queasy. This particular story involves a fight between two brothers who have been brought up to embody the two sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At this point, I might just scrap that part and carry on, with a more "normal" epic SF story. I just don't feel good enough to do the topic justice.

miércoles, 26 de septiembre de 2007

Happy Halfaversary

Daily Cabal is six months old today!

For the past six months, we've posted a microshort every day of the week (baring three days with server troubles) and the readership keeps going up.

My thanks to Kat Beyer, Rudi Dornemann, David C. Kopaska-Merkel, Luc Reid, Jeremiah Tolbert, Edd Vick and Trent Walters for letting me be part of a wonderful team, critiquing my stories and teaching me some grammar. Special thanks to Jeremy, who's done all the work on the site and Rudi, who is the informalish organizing motor in this jig.

Wish us many more months of short-shorts. Now, go read.

martes, 25 de septiembre de 2007

Shimmer Pirate Issue

The preview of Shimmer's Pirate issue, edited by John Joseph Adams is here. It looks awesome.

Sean Markey is responsible for the music, which in my humble opinion kicks ass.

domingo, 23 de septiembre de 2007

Apex Raffle

Check it out. For just one buck, you can bid on the copy edited original manuscript of Titan signed by Ben Bova, signed books by OSC, Geoffrey Girard, M.M. Buckner and Kevin J. Anderson among others, and lots of other goodies, including in-depth crits of your stories.

Oh no! I think I've paid for a stripper

A friend of a friend contacted me about this girl's birthday. They're organizing a gift for her and they wanted to know if I'd be in for 15euros. The plan was to buy her a mobile phone and a ski jacket (nobody shells out like that for my birthday!) I thought it a bit expensive but agreed. That's when they told me they're also getting her a stripper.

"Un stripper?" I asked, notice the "un" Spanish pronoun denoting "male". As in "a male stripper".

"Yes, he's a very nice guy. A real hunk."

Thank god the little light bulb in my brain turns on before I say something. I repress the urge to giggle.

"You won't tell her, will you?," this girl says. "It has to be a surprise."

I reassure her and hang up. I've just been conned into buying someone a male stripper.

To top it all off, I thought this girl was gay.

sábado, 22 de septiembre de 2007

Bak

Yesterday Eko celebrated her birthday and half invited us to dinner at Bak, a Chinese restaurant just off Plaza de los Cubos.

Here's a pic of the food after the locust had fallen upon it. The food was awesome and the plates generous. We gorged.

Eko insisted in paying about half of the meal and we tried to arm wrestle her out of it by singing happy birthday, which she hates. It didn't work. Then she paid for drinks and no amount of "Happy Birthday", "For She's a Jolly Good Fellow", David, the Gnome, Fraggle Rock or Oliver and Benji soundtracks managed to convince her. Someone even started singing in Japanese. Nothing. There's no understanding generous people.

jueves, 20 de septiembre de 2007

Graduation

It's over. I had my graduation ceremony last Tuesday. It wasn't an altogether crummy affair even if it was held in the parking lot. Two of the speeches were good: the one given by a fellow graduee and the one by the teacher that we'd chosen for the occasion. The other three speeches ranged from tedious to borderline clumsy. The rector of the University managed to sound condescending (by implying that we don't feel the need to be grateful to our teachers) and bore us to death.

A thought: maybe 85% of the people who graduated from Medschool that day were women--how come both the speech in representation of the students and the imposition of the muceta were given to men? The sad thing is that these two things were voted for by us, the students. This means most women vote for guys. I know, not very surprising. I'm also pissed at myself because I didn't vote thinking, "what the heck, they're not going to chose someone I like". Yeah, stupid reasoning.

Afterwards, the fun started. The University, in a show of generosity, managed to suply the students and relatives with enough booze and not enough canapes. Luckily, we had reservations and we promptly dumped our parentals and went off to have a Mexican dinner with liberal amounts of sangría and beer.

A couple observations from the party:

1. Serving food around a hoard of dancing semi-drunk graduates must be hell. I could tell from the waiters' faces. They did a damn good job, though, and only three dessert dishes were broken in front of me (multiply by the square footage of the room to calculate the number of dishes that were broken but I didn't see). On these three occasions, the waiter attempted to push out of his way a dancing female. Come on, waiters, you should know better.

Never invade Russia in winter, never get involved in a guerrilla war and never ever push a dancing female out of the way. She will almost certainly swerve in an unpredictable direction.

2. I finally learned what all those cheesy Spanish Movida 80's songs are for--they're for dancing the conga! (Needless to say, serving food around conga-dancing people is tantamount to dishicide)

3. It doesn't take much to persuade five drunk young men in a room full of girls to take off their clothes to the soundtrack of "Full Monty". It might be a tad more difficult to get them to stop before the truth (or lack of it) is exposed.

4. In a desperate gambit, an organizer of a party might get the idea to tell everyone to climb up on their chairs and dance. This accomplishes three things:
1st: since people are standing in their seats (literally), it makes picking up dishes a lot easier
2nd: it serves as a natural selection of sorts of those who really shouldn't have any more sangria.
3rd: it wrecks havock on the plastered ceiling.

5. One cannot want to leave a party before 6am. If you do choose to leave around 1am like I did, at least have a decent excuse (headache in my case, the music was way too loud).

martes, 18 de septiembre de 2007

An Alternative To SFWA?

Lisa Mantchev threw a few ideas to the wind a couple weeks back about creating an alternative organization to SFWA or fixing the one we have. Those threads are closed for the moment, but Mary Robinette Kowal has set up an interesting poll.

Take a second to answer the questions. The stats are revealing: most people eligible to join SFWA in one category or another are choosing not to do so, mostly because of perceived ineffectiveness of the organization or lack of info as to what exactly it does.

I don't feel informed enough to give my opinion on the inner workings of SFWA (I am not a member and I don't yet qualify for active membership). What is painfully evident is that their public relations department sucks.

lunes, 17 de septiembre de 2007

Robert Jordan is dead

I've only read one of his novels, which I stole, along with a couple others, from a British pub in Rue Mouffetard, last year when I was living in Paris. I used to go there with Richard. We'd drink 3 euro pints of piss-water beer, talk and read. Since I went back often, I finished most of the books on site, but the Robert Jordan one was just way to long.

Before I left France at the end of the year, I put most of the books back, plus a couple I'd bought which I didn't want to take with me.

Whatever you think of Robert Jordan's writing, it's evident he changed the fantasy scene in addition to establishing a Guinness record for longest saga ever that will be impossible to crack (not that I think anyone should try)

The last book in the series was in the making. I wonder who will finish it.

viernes, 14 de septiembre de 2007

Things You Learn When Your Parents Leave Home For The Summer

1. Despite what Mom always says, a body can live happily on pasta and sardines alone.

2. Chicken can taste off even before its expiration date.

3. The person who thought of covering the off taste of meat with spices and hot sauce was a genius.

4. A philosophical question, akin to the one about the tree in the forest: if a room is locked off for two months and nobody witnesses the slow sedimentation of dust, does the dust still make dust-bunnies?

5. The lawn and punk green hair may look alike, but there are some subtle differences. Hair that isn't cut in, say, three or four years, reaches its maximum length and doesn't grow any longer. Neglected lawn, on the other hand...

6. An empty fridge is the mother of invention.

7. It is always too late to cook.

miércoles, 12 de septiembre de 2007

Daily Cabal is back up

Thanks to Jeremy Tolbert's superpowers, the Dialy Cabal is back up, at least the main page. We can't post new content (that will still take a while) but in the meantime, why don't you check out our archives? Chances are you'll find some yummy microfiction you'll enjoy. And yes, this means we didn't lose the database after all. It's all there.

I don't understand computers, which is obvious to anyone who knows me, but I'm going out with a computer engineer and I can sort of understand the work Jeremy has put into getting Daily Cabal up so fast. My thanks to Jeremy: don't know what we'd do without him.

domingo, 9 de septiembre de 2007

Daily Cabal down

Daily Cabal, the microfiction blog in which I participate, is down due to technical problems. Jeremy Tolbert, fellow contributor and site admin, says that it's either due to a massive hardware failure or a hack attack. Either way, it'll take a while to get back up, specially since Jeremy is working frantically on some other dozen sites that were hosted in the same server.

It's unlikely that we'll be able to retrieve our archives. It looks like we'll have to rebuild them from backups.

Sorry about this.

sábado, 8 de septiembre de 2007

Pickpocket? on the train

I posted this this morning in Liberty Hall. Right after the encounter, I didn't feel cool to post it on a non password protected site. A few hours later, that seems silly.

Judge by yourself. Here we go.

I've just been in a strange situation.
I was coming back home from my boyfriend's this morning. I was sitting on the train with this shady guy in front of me who was reading a free paper. He looked emaciated and had tracks on his arms. Another shady character was sitting across the aisle. In case anyone cares, the first guy was probably South American. The second's racial background was difficult to ascertain, but when he started talking it was obvious he was Spanish.

The first guy drops the paper and starts nodding off. I pick up the paper and start reading. The guy scuttles off to the window seat to sleep propped up against the window. He leaves a backpack unattended by his side.

The second guy picks up the backpack, removes a metal (silver?) cigarette case from a pocket and replaces the backpack by the first guy's side.

I start wondering if I haven't just seen a robber stealing from a junkie. I don't know what to do. The train is full of people, so my safety is more or less guaranteed. On the other hand, I remember the old Spanish saying: he who steals from a robber deserves a thousand years of forgiveness. This is none of my business, but I decide to butt in.

I look at the second guy. He gives me this blank stare.

"Is that yours?" I ask, pointing at the backpack.

"Yes"

"Then why are you keeping it over here?"

"I'm with that guy," he says pointing at the first guy. The first guy doesn't wake up. "Does it bother you?"

"No. Not at all." Ok. I hadn't considered this, I admit, but these two hadn't spoken a word to each other since they got in and I haven't caught any body language cues that they're together either.

"Are you from here?" The second guy says, referring to the suburbs.

"No," I lie, "I've come to see friends.

We get to my stop and I get off.

My question is: do you think these two were together? do you think I just saw someone stealing from a junkie? Do you think I was wrong to butt in?

There are other questions that bother me. The second guy looked odd but, would I have done the same thing if he were a nicely dressed old lady? What about a well dressed Spanish student? My guess is "no" to the first question and "yes" to the second, but I'll never know.

What was the junkie doing with a metal cigarette box in the first place?

Synchronicity

I found out about synchronicity yesterday, reading Jetse de Vries' blog for info on the the final selection of Interzone's May slush (my story "Slow Stampede" is on HOLD, so being me, I return for updates more than is resonable).

Today I found out that sacredmime from Liberty Hall has got a story accepted by The Town Drunk. If you've read my previous post, you know that my story "Master Yung" has sold to OG's Speculative Fiction. The strange thing is that sacredmime and I swapped these two exact same stories for revision for a Liberty Hall polish-contest thingy. It's kind of strange that they're being bought at the same time.

jueves, 6 de septiembre de 2007

Sale! Master Yung to OG's Speculative Fiction

OG's Speculative Fiction has agreed to publish "Master Yung", one of my few straight SF stories.

"Master Yung" will be in this issue of the magazine, coming out on September 15th.

This is my second sale to OG's, the first one is due to appear in the anthology Forbidden Speculations.

sábado, 1 de septiembre de 2007

Spam attack

Minor crisis,

I joined one of those stupid online groups for sharing pics and stuff and unknowingly send invites to my whole address book (including editors, yeah, it was that bad). I'm kind of pissed at the software, because they only showed me three contacts but I must have approved them to send spam to all my contacts, even those who weren't already in the network.

What makes this worse is that, in this case, the spam was sent by a stupid person (ie me) instead of by an Internet robot. What a foolish way to start the day.

viernes, 31 de agosto de 2007

Kill Me

After spending all morning studying, I reached my frustration-anger-desperation high point of the week.

This is what happens if you google "kill me"

Only 68 coffees to go.

lunes, 27 de agosto de 2007

Cardiology

Today I managed to study the three main types of myocardiopathy and revise cardiac valves. I know this doesn't mean anything to any of the people who read my blog (being writer types and all that), but studying all this in one day means:

1. I hauled ass
2. I study from a rather abridged manual.

Just wanted to share my exasperation. Now, I'm off to finish those valves and hopefully start with "shock".

jueves, 23 de agosto de 2007

101 reasons and clicking compulsions

101 reasons to stop writing is back! 101 reasons is one of my regular time-wasting compulsive clicking blog stops and when Sean Lindsey went on hiatus, I found the habit was hard to kick. I kept returning to the blog and going duh! when I realized that there was no new content.

Well, one of those compulsive clicks paid off: 101 reasons has migrated to a new fancy blog and I anticipate many happy masochistic reads.

martes, 21 de agosto de 2007

"Family Values" in COSMOS 16

Issue 16 of Cosmos Magazine is out, with my story "Family Values" in it.

Here's the link to a nice reader comment in the Last Short Story project. I'm glad girliejones felt that way. She even called my writing "smooth".
Now, seriously, I'm glad she liked the goofiness of the story. It was fun to write, unlike some of my darker stories which take tons of frustration and rewrites. I want to write more of these.

jueves, 16 de agosto de 2007

Strange Horizons 2007 Fund Drive

The 2007 Fund Drive for Strange Horizons has been extended two more weeks. Everyone who hasn't donated until now has a chance to help meet the 2007 goal of 6000$. The current amount received is just over 4200$.

There are many good reasons to give to SH:

1. Strange Horizons has a unique vision of speculative fiction and probably one of the most interesting in the field. You may not like all of their stories, but at least they're guaranteed to surprise you. Fight the tedium!

2. With the dollar so low, 30$ is pocket change. Seriously.

3. The SH fund drives happen only once a year (at least this year). Although you can give at any time of the year, now's the only time you'll be pestered, cajoled or guilted out of cash.

4. Check out some stories

5. Did I mention there are prizes?

martes, 14 de agosto de 2007

GUD #1. A semi-review.

Continuing with my informal reviews, here are my comments on the first half of issue 1 of GUD Magazine.

I've left the poems out since I'm not into poetry.

Electroencephalography, by Darby Larson, reads like a SF fable. At first the childish style and fairy-tale characters took some getting used to, but as the story got darker, the pipping voice made it all the more terrifying. Dean is a lazy man who wants to make a robot to do his housework for him and gets his father and brother to make it for him. From there, the story gets surreal, leading to a strange ending which, nevertheless, does the story justice.

What happened was this: I woke up and the arrow was there, wedged through my breastbone and into my heart like a trowel. And, you know, I was shocked but not surprised. I thought, Well, this explains that sinking feeling I’ve had for the last thirty years.

Nadine Darling's Arrow tells us the story of a person who, literally, has an arrow through their heart. Being a romantic is a painful and embarrassing affair, and the protagonist goes through all the stages of arrow-acceptance, until they decide to do something about it. But even making a deal with the devil might not be enough to remove an arrow.
I'm glad this story was written. I'm thinking of all those teenagers who've ever been shot through the heart with an arrow: you're not alone, kids, it's ok to feel sad. People learn to cope with arrows, or in the case of this MC, find darker ways of ridding themselves of them.
The language in this story is superb, the humour subtle and understated. A great read and my favorite story in this first half of the issue.

Drive Thru by Kenneth Darling is a prose-poem about an airport. I try not to crit poems, since I don't have even basic knowledge of what a poem should be and I generally don't enjoy them, but the prose structure conned me into reading it and now I don't know what to say. It was sweet, cute, the imagery was good. I told you I didn't know shit about poems.

Hello Goodbye by Lavie Tidhar is a story I tried to understand. It has underwater dragon sex, something I've never seen anywhere else. The writing is awesome (duh, it's Tidhar) and it had an eerie dreamlike quality to it.
Baptised by the Baptist, he says and giggles again, and stares up
at the moons and takes a deep breath. He lies flat on his back, holding
in air, and his body becomes a dirigible floating on water; he is a
Phoenician sailing ship, going to Ur, a merchant of wine and souls.


In Aliens, by Jordan E. Rosenfeld, the MC is a waitress in a vegan restaurant where she hates the food and can't stand Nadia, another waitress.
The language borders on poetic and the desert imagery is vivid. A very nice read.

Not In The Yellow Pages by Lesley C. Weston, is a flash about someone searching for a hotel that isn't listed in the Yellow Pages.
He asks, “Do you remember when you used to love me?”
“I remember,” I say. The roof of my mouth and my teeth ache,
like they did when I was a kid wearing braces.


Yep, I wore braces and they can do that.

As with Arrow, this story is written in first person and the MC's gender isn't explicit. Here I have a feeling it might be a man, whereas in Arrow it felt like a woman's voice. In either case it doesn't matter since gender really doesn't add much to the story and I expect readers could fill in their gender of choice.

As with Drive Thru, I'm wondering if this wasn't almost meant as poetry. The last line certainly carries a punch that sounds like good poetry. Well, whatever the author meant it to be, it's good, so I'm not bitching.

Natural History is the story of a woman coming to terms with the loss of her husband. Gini Hamilton weaves a tale of anecdotes and memories, punctuated by the woman's findings: dead animals, bones, stones. Literary language, restrained emotion and believable characters. GUD.

Unzipped is not another Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder story. For one, if I had noticed that was what it was about, I would have chucked the story across the room. I'm sick of stereotypes of Vietnam vets hitting the deck every time someone breaks a glass. Most cases of PTSD last less than 3-4 months. What's more, most people who live through a traumatic event don't develop PTSD.
Thankfully, the opening paragraphs are so cleverly worded that by the time I found out about that detail I was in love and couldn't stop reading. Steven J. Dines takes the theme into new, medically inaccurate places (I'm not complaining, this is fiction and I don't think it was the author's intent to portray the condition precisely), where guilt, madness and literary flair merge nicely. Dark. That's the way I like it.

Max Velocity by Leslie Claire Walker is about a woman who is breeding. This is no ordinary unwanted pregnancy, in this future, bearing a child costs a woman a lot more than just her figure, her time or her career. The bad guys are seriously screwed, the good guys aren't really good and there is no escaping nature (or a random mutation, whatever). A great way to remember to use birth control and one of the few horror stories that actually scared me.

All in all, I'm amazed at the quality of this first half of GUD#1. Most were impressive stories and there were no stinkers which is more than can be said for some top SF mags. My favorites were Arrow, Aliens and Max Velocity.

domingo, 5 de agosto de 2007

Apex #10--a semi review

It's clear that Apex has been getting better issue by issue, so it stands to reason that Apex #10 is the best one yet. And I used to think horror wasn't really my thing...

Cherie Priest's Bad Sushi is a pretty straight-forward horror piece in which sushi turns sour. The interesting protagonist (old Japanese ex- WWII combatant living in the USA) keeps the story rolling and me off sushi for about a week.

The second story, Daydreams, by Lavie Tidhar is good even by Tidhar standards. Set in the universe of Gunslinger of Chelem (a previous Apex story), it depicts a world in which dreams come real and super-detectives in the REM unit of the police force go into the field (not) counting sheep and clutching their teddy-bears.
The action is gripping (and freaking weird) and the conclusion, like most of Tidhar's stuff, is inconclusive but strangely satisfying.

What is it about this guy that reminds me of Frank Herbert? You read his stories and "get" only 10% of the plot, all the while wishing that you were more intelligent because that glimpse tells you the other 90% must be awesome. I wonder if it's not all a facade, make-believe that there's stuff hidden between the lines when there isn't. Either way, the technique works. It makes me feel like I've been transported into a future that I, poor twenty-first century mortal that I am, cannot begin to comprehend. This isn't the first (or fourth) Tidhar story I've read, but I'm sure going to keep on the lookout for more of his work.

What if ghosts didn't turn up to identify their killer? Memories of the Knacker's Yard, by Ian Creasey, explores this possibility. In a world where murder investigations should be easy-peasy, Malcolm Chenier finds himself pursuing the slasher, a killer whose motive are souls.

The world-building in this piece is gorgeous and the well-paced plot leads to a psychologically acute end.

In Pigs and Feaches by Patrice E. Sarath. A virus called super-A (super-Alzheimers) spreads through brains and leaves them plaque-ridden and mushy. Is there something left underneath dementia?

Part 2 of Cain XP11 by Geoffrey Girard. I'll leave this until I have read the whole story.

Monument, by Nancy Fulda is this issue's Parting Shot. Loss, regret, misunderstanding and the good writing you'd expect from Nancy Fulda.

viernes, 3 de agosto de 2007

Sale to Apex!

Apex Digest has agreed to publish "Dear Diary" for the Apex parting shot. "Dear Diary" belongs to a series of short shorts that are going up at the Daily Cabal.

I'm real proud of my little story. I'm very fond of Apex and I've been trying to get in for a while.

The only bummer is that I was planning on posting a review of Apex 10 this week and this sort of screws with that. But, what the hell, everyone knew I was partial to Apex anyway (why else would I try to be published there?), so I'll simply do my best to give a straight review and hope that the three people who bother to read this blog don't mind.

lunes, 30 de julio de 2007

Dead Tired

Again. I did 7 and a half hours of studying today, most of it productive, but I can't seem to work my way up to a full 8h. On the one hand, I'm mentally exhausted, on the other, my mind craves stimuli that don't involve cells and names of long-dead doctors. When the high point in your day is a T-lymphocyte expressing CD69 on its cellular membrane, you know your life sucks.

domingo, 29 de julio de 2007

Hell-- and not a nice cool Norse hell either

Summer finally came to Madrid to kick our collective asses. I think we hit 37ºC. I'm dying.

Jed Hartman of Strange Horizons posts about the annual fund drive and asks people to say something nice about the mag. Well, I'll start by throwing in a few links of stories that are in my top ten list:

The Women of Our Occupation by Kameron Hurley takes gender role reversion to a whole new level.

Dead. Nude. Girls by Lori Selke is a different zombie story.

Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery by John Shoffstall delivers just what the title promises and more.

Love Goes Begging by Bennet H. Marks. The language is simply gorgeous.

The Taste of Chicory at High Tide by Lisa Mantchev, which is the only allegory I've read so far which worked... I could go on and on.

For those who don't know it, Strange Horizons keeps archives online since it started publishing weekly 7 years ago. Do the math, that's a lot of free fiction.

I came across the mag a little over a year ago and spent many happy hours browsing the archives. I wasn't into Speculative Fiction at the time and Strange Horizons shaped my concept of Speculative and what I think it should be all about. I sold my first story to them, so they have a special place in my heart.

I hope this 2007 fund drive leaves them drowning in cash. Keep the stories coming!

martes, 10 de julio de 2007

Sintra


Careful, or the crazy sea monster will get you!

This pic is from the Castle of Sintra, a 19th century architect's trip in which the King of Portugal lived painting nymphs on the wall. Don't ask.

Sintra is a small city 30km from Sintra. There's an Arab castle, a Palace and a crazy masonic garden designed to be haunted.

Enjoy the pics.


The Garden of Regaleiras: Daphne's Grotto.


This is a teen-sized chapel in the middle of the garden. It's not quite child-sized but is only about ten metres tall.


Another pic from the Regaleira Gardens.

domingo, 8 de julio de 2007

Lisboa



This is the cloister of the Sé, the Cathedral of Lisbon.



I'm back home, resting from my one week vecation in Lisbon. I had a blast and everything would have been perfect if the Lisboetas weren't reptilian humanoids trying to commit saricide. Seriously guys, if you want to join Spain (28% of Portuguese think that merging with Spain is a good idea), you have to treat Spanish tourists better than that. I would totally understand if people who know me wanted to kill me, but complete strangers?

I was spit at in Mafra, almost driven over by a scooter redesigned as ice-cream cart and stuffed nearly to death on sardines and bacalao... Eh, that last one might have been my fault.

I also fell down the stairs of a tower in Sintra, but that could have been because of the slippery steps (however, I'm still investigating the RH hipothesis in that one too). Thankfully, I didn't twist anything or hit anything too hard.

Oh well, saricide attepts figure in the job description.



A nice view over the Tejo.


I think this one was taken in Alfama



And a street in Baixa.

viernes, 6 de julio de 2007

Going back home

It's my last day in Lisbon. The plane arrives in Madrid at 1.10 am (vueling changed the schedule, that's what you get for flying low cost). I have no idea how we're going to get back home at that time of night without spending 40e on a taxi. Wish me luck. There shall be pictures soon.

domingo, 1 de julio de 2007

Sardine Kisses

I'm in Lisbon!

This is the first day of a one-week vecation I'm taking before attempting to start studying for my internship in earnest. I'm so tired I want to cry, but damn did I have a good time. We started at the cathedral, stopped for lunch at Alfama and ended up in the Castle.

By the way, I had sardines. God, I'd forgotten how good those are. The first bite filled me with quiet contentment. Let's all sing an ode to sardines, the staple of the coastal Mediterranean diet. Dang, are they good! Sardines taste like the sea. They were grilled, (I think that's the term in English, I said "roasted" in LH before and everyone went "wha?"), salty, fleshy... all mine.

Unlike in Madrid, people here don't walk--they stroll. If you ask a lisboeta, they'll probably say that people in Madrid don't walk--they run. Fair enough. It was nice to slow down for a change.

The views from the Castle were wonderful. Miguel took a nap sitting on a bench up there while I read the guidebook and looked out on the river. The orangutan pidgeons didn't get us. All was good.

Kisses from Lisbon. When I get back, I promise there will be pictures.

domingo, 24 de junio de 2007

Apex # 9: review continued

It has taken me a while, but I've finally finished Apex 9. At first, I was pacing myself, trying hard not to run out of reading material and making sure I studied before diving into anything else. Afterwards, shit happened. I got a bad neck-ache which made a weird tingling sensation tickle down my arms and fingers. I knew this happened, but I never thought the feeling was quite this impressive. I discovered sitting at the computer worsened it, so I stayed off the keyboard (and off my pdf issue of Apex) until it went away. That's when the internet went to hell.
Anyway, I've finished Apex issue 9 and wanted to share some of my findings.

Pyramus and Thisbe by Jeremy Adam Smith is the kind of story that stays with you. I'm not entirely sure if this is all good, a big part of it is the "what the fu..?" feeling. Pyramous is a robot, Thisbe is human, everything else reads like a Reinascence alternative history or fantasy. The language is beautiful and anyone who mixes SF and Fantasy gets extra credit in my book. It is certainly a memorable story, however unclear and the ending is chilling.

Sufficiently Advanced by Bev Vincent started off with an interesting premise: an astronaut is ship-wrecked in a planet where primitive natives teleport without thinking about it twice. It goes downhill from there, however, playing off the theme that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". The story is ok, but I feel a bit let down because the beginning was so cleverly drawn.

Rob D. Smith's Don't Show Your Teeth is about people who take their collections too seriously. Seriously too seriously. Like that guy we all know who hits on you with a phrase from Star Trek. Ok, that's not so bad. But you get me.

The story is straight funny horror and it does its job. There's not much here to distinguish it from other horror pieces, but it's competently written and entertaining. And yes, a good hint to send to that friend who splurges his salary on comic books and Dracula teeth replicas.

Cain XP11: The Voice of Thy Brother's Blood by Geoffrey Girard. The first part of this story appears in Apex 9, but since the rest is due in later issues, I'll save my critique until I read the whole story. So far it looks very good.

Poppet's Left Impression is a poem by Brandy Shawn. I don't usually dig poetry unless it's by Lorca and this is no exception, but, of course, that's not saying much, is it? I'll simply refrain from critting poetry from now on.

Apex Parting Shot is Sonorus by Paul Abbamondi. The second person POV works well in this simple horror story about you when you find a musical instrument in the woods.

All in all, issue 9 surprises and delivers. My nightmares are a lot more interesting since I started reading Apex. I never suscribe to anything (because I can't commit to mags), but issue 9 was the last push I needed and I have now, for the first time ever, declared my fidelity (at least for a year) to Apex Digest

miércoles, 20 de junio de 2007

Nibble Nibble

I got a HOLD notice from Interzone for my story "Slow Stampede" and a "we're considering this" from Aberrant Dreams for "History of Stone".

Most nibbles don't pan out, but once in a while a mag bites and they sure give my poor ego a break.

Otherwise, I'm doing research on the mesopelagic zone of the Ocean for a story temporarily titled "Habitat's Plunge". If anyone knows where I can get cool data on things like pressure, temperature, salinity and ecosystem, speak up. I'd be eternally grateful.

lunes, 11 de junio de 2007

"Family Values" accepted by COSMOS

Yay!
This story grew out of Liberty Hall Flash. I'm very fond of it because it was a joy to write (unlike some of my more obscure stories which take months of revision) and it sold really fast. I wouldn't define the story as satire, but it does have a strong humor streak.
This is my second pro sale.

miércoles, 30 de mayo de 2007

Couldn't resist

101 reasons had this logo of International Slushpile Bonfire Day. I'm tempted to send the link to my first readers to let them know that I really mean it when I say that they can throw one of my stories back at me if they don't like it.

[International Slushpile Bonfire Day Logo]
International Slushpile Bonfire Day
May 31, 2007



It's sounds anti-ecological, but I know how good it feels. Today I recycled a semesters worth of Med School classes. I'm really looking forward to finishing for good. If they still bought used paper by the pound...

Eurovision

Since Eurovision seems to have become the reservoir from which all the shit of the Universe squirts out to hit the fan, here's the song I'm voting to represent Spain this year.




Bonus points to anyone who identifies the video that this parody is based on.

I don't have Aperger's (but I knew that already)


Your Score: Unaffected


Result: 22. Your score isn't an achievement, it just is.


Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge's Autism Research Centre have created the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults. In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger's report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives. You scored less than 32. Make your own assessment of that

Link: The Asperger's Syndrome Test written by beachbummer on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

lunes, 21 de mayo de 2007

Miss Snark is no more

101 reasons writes her a great eulogy and even refrains from making any petty and sarcastic comments.
Yes, she will be missed. I wonder where agents go when they stop blogging?

I Love Miss Snark!

Banner provided by 101 reasons

jueves, 17 de mayo de 2007

Preventive Medicine and Scout Sex Ed

Today I went to this compulsory Preventive Medicine jig organized by my University to give students a taste of what a scientific investigation might possibly feel like. Needless to say, I didn't learn much.
However, when we were sitting on the grass during recess, L told us she's teaching a sexuality course to 14 year old Scouts. Apparently, the technical details have already been covered by another tutor in a previous course and she only has to focus on making sure these teens understand that sex is a complex phenomenon that requires maturity, common sense, communication, blah, blah, blah. The coolest thing was that all the girls started talking about their first times, which was informative.
Also, L confessed that she felt clumsy around condoms, so we showed her how to unroll one over a cooperative toe someone volunteered.
We didn't keep this quiet, but we didn't turn any heads. Gotta love Spain.
Fun was had by all.

jueves, 10 de mayo de 2007

martes, 8 de mayo de 2007

Daily Cabal

Dear Diary II, Monday's story at www.dailycabal.com, is getting nice comments from readers.

Gnomenapping got a nice comment on Speculations.

It's so nice to hear from readers. Thanks!

domingo, 6 de mayo de 2007

MAM nominations

David de Beer has nomitated "Go Home", which appeared in Mytholog, for his own private prizes. He calls them the MAMs, and the rules are quite peculiar. "Go Home" competes in a cathegory called MAM's BOB of the Flashies.

Thanks to David de Beer. That is certainly an interesting concept he's playing with there.

miércoles, 25 de abril de 2007

Lurkers, or, who's here from...?

Lately I've been baffled by my blog stats. Most of the visitors I get come from places I know people from, US, Spain, France, England, but once in a while, I get someone from China (?), Israel (??) or Brazil (???). Today the last visitor was from Zimbabwe, which totally tops it.
So, I've reached a decision. Out with you, you lurkers! Make yourselves known. I'm dying to meet all these cool people from China, Israel, Brazil and Zimbabwe. Please deign to comment, preferably in English, although I've studied Brazilian Portuguese and can read it just fine.
Thanks!
And yes, I know most of those hits were probably from robots wanting to get info to spam my blog, but if SF has taught me something, it's that even internet spiders have feelings. Go ahead, gather your bites about you and reach for sentiency. Delurk. Nobody will spray you with acid or make binary jokes. Promise.

martes, 24 de abril de 2007

Pixel Stained

Yesterday was Pixel Stained Technopeasant Wench day, and I missed it!
It was all Mamatas fault, he posted a story a while back and threw me off by mention of April 29th. I think it was some Greek thing.

Anyway. In typical Spanish fashion, I'll post my story late. Here ya go. This originally appeared in AlienSkin.





Noble Death

by Sara Genge




Sam didn't know what to make of it, but he knew that this might be the end of the world. It would surely be the end of his world.

What else could an angel mean, here in Chicory Hospital, way too far from New York to be one of those homeless apocalyptic preachers, way too far from Rome to be an advent of the second coming. Hell, way too far from anywhere to mean anything in particular.

The angel looked more or less feminine but Sam wasn't taken in. He might wear his hair in a sort of bun but he was flat chested as they came, and there wasn't a bulge in his tight pants, not a cleft either, just a nothing, an absence of sex, of essence. There was also the mater of wings. The shot out from their firm anchor on the angel's back, bent at the ceiling and came cascading down, littering the bed with feathers. This thing wasn't a human being. What could such a being want from him? Could it be the morphine? He had never hallucinated on morphine before, but it tended to give an absurd tint to his perceptions.

He looked around. Alzheimer Bob in the next bed was looking at the angel with fascination and gripping the small cross on the chain on his neck. Therefore, he wasn't the only one who saw it. Could this be real?

"Hail, Sam, full of grace, the Lord is with you," it said.

"No..." Sam moaned. He couldn't speak clearly with the mask stuck over his mouth.
Why had this being come now, when he was finally dying? After three years of chemo and three surgeries, you'd think he had the right to die in peace, but no, this thing was bent on complicating his last moments. He was spoiling Sam's death, that's what it was doing, and Sam didn't much appreciate it, to tell the truth.

"Blessed are you among men."

Uh oh, here it comes, thought Sam. I wanted to die lucid and now I'm hallucinating the annunciation.

"And blessed is the fruit of your loins," came the conclusion.

The angel disappeared and Sam was relieved. He concentrated on his breathing, was it getting shallower? He tried to make it shallower. He had been technically dying for the last 6 months and he intended to end it here and now, when he was well anesthetized and high on morphine. This wasn't going to drag out one second longer if he could help it.

"Fear not, for I am with you"

"You again!," Sam said. "Go away".

"The lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want," said the angel.

"Sure, sure."

"Abortion is a sin, Sam," said the angel.

"What the hell are you talking about?," said Sam.

"Didn't you hear me when I said, "blessed is the fruit of your loins"? You are with child. Struggling to kill yourself at this point isn't just useless (who ever heard of someone who successfully tried to stop breathing) but a crime against God." The angel spoke well; he rolled his punctuation with his "r"s.

"Nurse! nurse! I don't want this visitor, nurse. Help! Nurse! Get rid of this man!," shouted Sam.

The nurse didn't come.

Sam felt the tumour that was killing him fighting a winning battle against his respirator. It was lung cancer, small cell carcinoma they called it, one of the worst, and he hadn't gotten it from smoking, he swore... but now he must be rambling.

"Come on, Sam," said the angel with a sweat voice, and then sternly, "React, dammit! If I had my choice I would have chosen a woman but He said we needed a guy this time. Come on! Get a hold of yourself man."

The angel placed his hand on Sam's chest and muttered a prayer. Sam felt the nodule in his chest stir, twist and slither closer towards his skin. It made a gurgling sound as it fought to free itself from pumping arteries and rasping alveoli.

He screamed in pain.

"The lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want," repeated the angel. The tumour seemed to sense the being and crept up, closer, closer to the surface. "He leads me on green pastures..." Sam almost passed out. The tumour erupted from his chest amidst a cascade of lungs and tissue. His blood frothed and coagulated.

The angel cooed at the creature and the tumour gurgled.

Sam died.



End

sábado, 21 de abril de 2007

Drunk Taxi drivers

Driven home by a taxi driver who was drunker than we were. Man, I'm happy to be alive. I didn't notice until we stopped, next time I'll be more careful.
If I'm paying precious euros for a drive, I want guarantees that my taxi driver is doing a better job than I'd do myself after two mojitos. If he drinks a single beer, I want him castrated on a public square. Is that asking for too much? Apparently, in Spain it is.

viernes, 20 de abril de 2007

Hospital Smell-- a bad day

The following entry is unrelated to writing. It deals with the Hospital I study at and is pretty depressing. You might want to stop reading here.





Today was "worst-news" day at the Hospital. By some incredible quirk of statistics, today there were four patients with serious conditions to be explained. I'm a student, so my job is mainly to shut up and listen and never never bother or be underfoot. I'm so glad about that.

I don't know why, but this has hit me particularly hard. I've seen sad things in the four years I've been going to the Hospital. Three out of four of today's sad cases were very old people dying of cancer for whom aggressive treatment wasn't an option. I marvel at the way their relatives took the news. Dignified comes to mind. On films you see grief acted out to the max, milked for every ounce of melodrama it can hold and thrown into the audience face in tears, screams and anger. Real life is a lot more contained. Sober. Real life is real.

I'm trying to figure out why this has hit me so hard. Maybe I'm just starting to realize that this time next year it will be me giving those news, me offering patients and relatives options, me having to tell people when there are no options. This is an aspect of the job that is rarely talked about, even within the medical profession. When it is addressed, it usually is in a conference, classroom... formal settings, places where you can talk about feelings with the strict aseptic terminology of medical psychology. Outside the classroom and in the privacy of their offices, doctors will sometimes mutter "a pity", nod encouragingly at an intern analyzing the way to give bad news, uphold each other with a web of pregnant looks and light conversation.

Today I feel like shit, but in a few hours my mood will lift. Unlike the patients I saw this morning, I can go home and forget.

Sorry about the rant and I hope I haven't disturbed you.

jueves, 19 de abril de 2007

Apex Digest #9

As you all know (or should know), Apex Digest is the next big thing in Horror-SF. After much pleading and cajoling, I finally got the editor to set up an online issue at Fictionwise, making it possible for everyone who lives in the Wrong Continent or Other Axis to access the magazine. (There's a moderate amount of tongue-in-cheek here. I know you, Human, can tell, but there are a lot of confused Reptilian Humanoids and literal-meaning Nazis out there who don't always get it)

What follows is a review of what I've read so far of issue #9. I'm pacing myself to make it last. I'm not a reviewer and I'm not objective if I can help it, but I've read a bit and I know what I like.

The issue opens with The Sum Of His Parts, by Kevin J. Anderson no less. Playing off the Frankenstein monster theme, Anderson explores the origin of the monster's organs and their respective owners Although the ending is predictable, each character sketch is fascinating enough to make the story interesting.

In The End Of Crazy Katherine Sparrow shows us what happens when people don't study their pharmacology. Just kidding. This is a classic medical dystopia "meds gone wrong" story about a cured schizophrenic who has to stop taking the miracle drug when she gets pregnant. Horror readers will love the insanity theme, but what scared me was the subtext, dealing with loss of freedom and medical ethics.

Lavie Tidhar is everywhere these days, including Apex and his story Gunslinger of Chelem has that unmistakable Tidhar feel. A detective who polices people's dreams, a gunslinger gone amok who kills his victims in a dream only he controls... Perfect ingredients for a different kind of western. A great story full of that Tidhar whimsical groove that makes him editor's pet in so many mags.

Mary Robinette Kowal has a sick mind and Locked In, one of the shortest stories of this issue, is also the one I've found most terrifying so far. It's another medical dystopia about a paralyzed man who cannot communicate with the outside world. When his family finds a way to get through to him, the result isn't what he imagined.

Projector is a well written story by Daniel LeMoal. It's written in 1st person, which is clearly one of the main strengths of the story, since the protagonist is a sassy junky that readers will love, no matter what he does. The plot about drug addicts forced into a hit job is spiced up by the supernatural powers of the intended victim. Disaster is imminent, but when you're touching bottom, there's not much further that you can sink.

Today's last story is At the 24-Hour, by William F. Nolan. I have a strong feeling that it was written tongue-in-cheek, using traditional horror tropes to get a good smirk out of the reader. This subtext keeps the story moving despite the predictable ending.

That's it for today. Overall, this was my favorite issue of Apex (I haven't read all of them, so you're allowed to contradict me). Normally in a magazine you find three or four stories you love and one or two that don't do much for you. Not here. All of the above are strong stories, and if I were forced to pick one, I'd have a hard time. My personal favorites are Locked In, Projector and Gunslinger of Chelem, but I can't honestly say that the other ones are less good. This is personal taste, not reviewer objectivity. If you thought you were going to find objectivity in this blog, someone probably sent you here for it on April 1st.

miércoles, 18 de abril de 2007

Name-dropping

David Kopaska-Merkel, fellow founder and writer of www.dailycabal.com, has been nominated for the Rhysling.
David also writes wonderful prose. Check out his cool microfiction at Daily Cabal My favorite is "Three Wishes".
David already won second place for short poem and first place with Kendall Evans for long poemin 2006, and I wish him as much luck this time round.

Man, do I hang out with cool people or what?

viernes, 13 de abril de 2007

miércoles, 4 de abril de 2007

Sara in Wonderland

I pulled a Hemingway last night, and after the writer's group, I went with Lance to a bar he knew in X (exact name with-held to protect our state of privilege)
The bar-owner is one of those guys who loves his job. When he saw Lance walking in, he immediately started singing the song "New York, New York" which was playing. A couple minutes after we sat down, the lights went out, thunder roared through the loudspeakers and a flash of (artificial) lightning shone through a fake window. "I'm singing in the rain" started playing and the owner walked around spraying customers with a pulverized water. Kevin joined us and the owner kept coming back to joke and talk.
Everything went uphill from there. I'm afraid I talked too much. I discovered that Lance and Kevin are wonderful people (I already suspected this about Lance, but I'd never met Kevin before). They talked about the graphic novels they're working on, and I asked Lance to draw me a storkiphant. He also drew a very fast portrait of me talking. As I said, I talked too much.
When it was time to close the bar, I expected to be kicked out, but my friends told me not to worry. We helped the owner close and then he turned and said: "Friends only" and invited us to drinks. He also produced a plate of decent cured Spanish ham with superb olive oil "that is not sold in stores".
"I'm gonna blog this," I told him, but he shook his head, aghast. "No, this is for friends only. If more people come, we can't have such a good time."
I talked a lot, I'm afraid, and all that white wine went to my head. The owner kept trying to hook me up with Lance and Kevin counting on the fact that they don't speak much Spanish and couldn't catch him "pitching" them to me.
I felt like Alice in Wonderland.
We left after 5 am, and the guys accompanied me to find a taxi.
The taxi driver was Colombian and thought I was too. He drove me home under 21e, teasing the speed limit and apologizing when he had to stop at a red light.
Wonderful evening. I'll be sure to go back to that bar, and I'd love to have drinks with these guys again.
Welcome to Spain, welcome to Wonderland.

martes, 3 de abril de 2007

Critical Ink

Marshall Payne from Tangent has reviewed "Pretty Little Thing"


Sara Genge uses multi-viewpoint first person in "Pretty Little Thing." While Claude is a charming narrator at first, it quickly becomes clear that he is a psychopath stalking Annita, a young black woman who’s been rejuvenated to look like a teenager. The speculative element is provided with a future replete with nanos and thought diaries, the latter figuring into the structure of the narrative. Genge is a new writer and I remember her vivid story, "Godtouched," in Strange Horizons. "Pretty Little Thing" isn’t as strong, but still interesting enough. Genge is definitely a talent to watch.

Nice!

While we're at it, here's what has been said about "Godtouched"
From Tangent, but this time from Ellisabeth A. Allen:

Moving on to "Godtouched" by Sara Genge, we find a vividly depicted postapocalyptic setting and the disturbed (or "godtouched") country girl, Denise. Mostly a sketch of Denise's raw and virulent world, the story boasts a small plot in the form of Denise's choice—city sophistication or rural poverty?—but the atmospheric tale, promising enough for a novel's lead, doesn't need high-octane events to draw you in.

IROSF is harder on "Godtouched". This is Lois Tilton's opinion:

As an ecocatastrophic Cautionary Tale, the vision of the Waste intrigues, but Denise's story is too slight, not sufficiently original to be of as much interest as its setting.

Thanks for the reviews, both good and bad.

lunes, 2 de abril de 2007

I Loved Ophelia-- The Lorelei Signal

I Love Ophelia is a poem I wrote a few years ago, long before I took up prose. I didn't plan to submit it anywhere but last year in Paris I showed it to Richard and he loved it, so... here's the result.
Please do vote for the reader's poll. Think of it as a way to tell me that my writing sucks without being threatened by a blunt katana.

domingo, 1 de abril de 2007

"Pretty Little Thing" up at Helix SF

My story "Pretty Little Thing" is up at Helix-SF.

www.helixsf.com


This story was easy to start but hell to finish. I wrote it last year in Paris. I got the idea returning home late-ish at night by Metro and then joined a party in my Residence where I talked to interesting people who helped me flesh it out. I had fun "researching" this one. Then I was stuck and it took me several months of tinkering to finish the story.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and tell me what you think.

viernes, 30 de marzo de 2007

The Daily Cabal

The Daily Cabal has now been running smoothly for five days. We've got good feedback and quite a few subscribers.
Today's story is mine :) Check out "Fairy Western". I can guarantee that at least the premise is original.
www.dailycabal.com

jueves, 29 de marzo de 2007

300

I went to see the 300 on Friday and the reason I haven't posted about it until now is that I couldn't quite find the adequate quirky tone to describe the film.
First, serious stuff. The art is wonderful. It redefines "poster films" the kind of film that looks even better on poster or pic by pic than it is played out in the cinema. Some of the actors did a very good job and the King and the Queen were my favorites. She looks great in those flimsy dress-togas (although I wouldn't be Spanish if I didn't note that the only reason she can wear dresses like that is because she doesn't have bigger breasts). Ok, you can see that I'm slipping into silliness right away... (clears throat) Let's get back on track.
The computer graphics were pretty cool and the whole movie had the same moody, dark feel of the comic. That said, this film can't hold a candle to Sin City, and this is why:

1. Xerxes sucks. Come on, the guy is about two and a half metres tall but doesn't have the body of a tall man. You can tell they "grew" him artificially with a computer. You've seen basketball players, they're not built like ordinary mortals, so why should I believe that Xerxes is not only taller than any human being in History, but defies physiology as well? Not to speak of his voice, which, at least in the dubbed version, belonged to someone with the thoracic capacity of Hulk, being way to low for such a gangly kid.

2. Xerxes' dialogue sucks. When the King tells him that his soldiers only fight because they fear his whip, Xerxes places a tender hand on his shoulder and says: It's not my whip which they fear but my... which was followed by a roar of laughter from the audience so I couldn't hear how the phrase ended. I feel sorry for the actor. I can just imagine his face when he was told he'd have to say that line. Lame doesn't begin to describe it.
3. SPOILER ALLERT....







Xerxes bleeds... they make a big fuss about his unmaking as a "god", but heck, he's wearing a trillion piercings, are you telling me he hadn't noticed that he could bleed before? How on Earth did he stick fifty needles into his face without bleeding?

The list goes on and on. These are just examples that throw an Ok movie into the dark-side.

However, there are a few reasons why it's not such a bad idea to go see the film. The aesthetics are good and the imagery is interesting enough to carry the movie on its own. The Spartans, with their computer-sculpted abs are a sight to behold. And the Oracle's hair-color matches her nipples. Some crazy geek took the time to fix that with the computer. Go see the movie, if nothing else to make the crazy geeks happy.

lunes, 26 de marzo de 2007

The Daily Cabal

My plan to World Domination is progressing nicely. The Daily Cabal is live. It's nice to see my story up there on the kick-ass website.

Wohooo!

Pass the link around and tell me what you think of our stories.

The Daily Cabal posts new, free, very short stories by up-and-coming science fiction and fantasy authors, one every weekday morning, at www.dailycabal.com . The site launches Monday, March 26th, with one story from each of the eight Cabal members: toasters will die, gnomes will be kidnapped, suspicious neighbors will concoct diabolical schemes, men will fly like ducks, air conditioners will make contact with humankind, ancient women will speak, and a commuter will be trapped forever ... and that's just the first day.



Cabal members' short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, Writers of the Future Anthologies, Interzone, Polyphony 4, Asimov's Science Fiction, Jim Baen's Universe, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and many other fine venues. A Cabal member runs the Codex writing group; other members are editors at such well-reputed publications as Dreams and Nightmares and Abyss & Apex.



You're invited to stop by the Cabal, see what strange things are happening today, and weigh in with your own comments. We hope to see you there, and then we hope to completely mess with your mind.