“I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank one.”
Nora Roberts

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Cover art photo by ME!
oh hey i get it now ha ha ha *sob*
Wed 2017-05-24 00:58:16 (single post)
  • 4,600 wds. long

Or, Why Nicolejleboeuf.com Went Dark Over the Weekend.

Chapter 1: We Are Careful

The domain was paid through March 18. I got multiple reminders of this. And I did not ignore them! But I had faith in the auto-renewal system. Which is to say: Check the "auto-renew" box, ensure that a valid credit card is on file, and voila, the renewal fee would be paid at the time of expiration and my domain would continue active without interruption.

I double-checked these things. The "auto-renew" box was checked. The credit card on file was the household Mastercard, whose expiry date was still more than a year distant.

So far, so good.

Chapter 2: We Register For Worldcon

You remember my unbridled enthusiasm when the Hugo voter packet became available? Of course you do. But to become a Hugo voter I had to first become a World Con Supporting Member.

On the evening of March 17, I set out to do just that.

For reasons unknown to me, my credit card was declined. To make sure I hadn't typo'd my credit card number or anything, I attempted the payment again. A second time my credit card was declined. I tried a third time, just to make sure it wasn't an email address mismatch. Nope, even using the email address associated with that credit card's billing information, it was declined.

It is probably relevant that Worldcon is in Helsinki this year.

So. What happens when your credit card company detects three failed international purchase attempts? Why, your credit card company, who cares very much about you (but possibly cares more about their own liability in the case of identity theft), cries "Possible fraud!" And, quicker than you can say No, no, I meant to do that, your account gets frozen until such time as you can reassure the credit card company that no, no, you meant to do that.

Did I hurry to reassure them so? Of course not. I just tried a different card instead, and when that payment went through on the first go, "All's well that ends well," I said, and ran off to download all those delicious Hugo finalists.

The credit card in question was the household Mastercard. But you probably guessed that by now.

Chapter 3: Time Waits For No One

Thursday the 18th was the last day my domain was paid through.

Friday the 19th, the auto-renew attempt occurred.

Which, thanks to the misadventures detailed in Chapter 2 of this volume, failed.

And that, skaters and gentlefen, is why NicoleJLeBoeuf.com was unavailable Saturday morning.

Chapter 4: IP Help Desks Wait Forever

And it was unavailable until today because apparently reinstating expired but paid-up web domains (I paid the moment I discovered the error, Saturday morning) isn't a priority with my IP's billing department. Also, when they finally got back to me, they called me by someone else's name and referred to someone else's domain, because that is the kind of personalized customer service you can expect with my IP.

Still, the domain is back, as you can see for yourself, what with you reading this blog post housed thereon. So. All's well that ends well.

The moral of the story is...

Don't wait on the auto-renew. When the first "domain expiring soon!" email comes in, just pay the damned thing.

Alternately: Don't wait until the day before your domain's expiration date to buy your Worldcon registration. At least, not if Worldcon is in a different country than the one you reside in.

Or maybe just don't use the same credit card for both purposes, if you can manage it.

In any case... Hey, here's the Friday Fictionette I released Saturday! It's called "This Time We Play for All the Marbles" (full text in ebook, audiobook formats which Patrons may download). Thanks to the previous one being so very late, I had only a couple days to create this one from scratch to final. And even still I might have managed an on-time release if I hadn't realized too late that I'd brought a novel-length idea to a flash-fiction party. So I had to take another night to mull over how much of the huge amounts of backstory I could fit in, and how much I needed to fit in, and how to sneak in the bits I couldn't quite justify leaving out. I think the final release has turned out acceptable and comprehendible, but you'll have to be the judge of that.

This week is going much better. Having released last week's fictionette only one day late rather than five, I have the luxury of a whole work-week to figure out this week's offering. I was also able today to make inroads on the overdue Fictionette Artifacts (halfway done with February!), and had time to revise "Caroline's Wake" and send it out to the next market on its wishlist. Yes! Finally! I'm working on non-fictionette projects again! Bang the drums and sound the horns, chill the champaign and polish the crystal goblets!

Why, yes I am unreasonably cheerful about this. Y'all, I got to come home from Sunday's roller derby practice and hurl myself across the bed and allow sweet unconsciousness to claim me for hours, and there were no guilt-voices to nag away at me. (Well, there were, but only as a matter of habit. They were entirely unjustified.) And today I have done all the things I could hope to do with a Tuesday, writing and roller derby and household finances and email correspondence and groceries and a home-cooked meal besides.

And my author's domain is active again. Which means I could submit a short story to a prospective market and know that the submission system's automatic "We have received your submission" missive wouldn't bounce, but would land successfully in my inbox for me to file in the appropriate subfolder in Thunderbird. And I could then log the submission in my personal database, also housed here at NicoleJLeBoeuf.com.

In every way I could hope for, I am back in business.

Of course I'm pleased!

the author reflects on her bedtime reading, and also her morning and lunchtime reading
Fri 2017-05-19 00:56:37 (single post)

OK, so I only spent part of the day in bed reading. There's something about raising the blinds to discover a slushy spring snow falling all over everything that makes it really tempting not to get up. (I promise I did eventually get up and get some solid work done.)

I'd been having a hard time finding Seanan McGuire's third October Daye book in local bookstores and libraries and had not quite yet resigned myself to ordering it online. Then the Hugo voter packet dropped. The packet has all ten of the novels in it, or, rather, it has a link to NetGalley.com where your credentials as a voting World Con member grant you a free download of them as one big omnibus ebook. (It's a temporary loan, not a gift--the omnibus is "archived" on July 16--but it's still pretty dang generous of the publisher.) So I started right in on An Artificial Night last night.

I really, really want to like these books more than I do. They're compelling page-turners. Their protagonist is someone I actually like spending time with. The worldbuilding is cool, despite being a touch problematic. The stories feature plenty of female characters with agency and diverse backgrounds who are all equally significant whether they're a knight, a noble, a homemaker, or a college student, or whatever. Which is to say, this is not one of those urban fantasies with a Kick-Ass Female Protagonist who exists as an exception to the unchallenged assumption that Women Suck.

And I will freely admit to bawling like a baby at the end of the penultimate chapter. McGuire is very good at building characters such that they become intimately familiar, and you feel you can broadly predict the sort of reactions they might have to any given circumstance--and then she breaks your heart by having them do something completely unexpected and vulnerable.

But certain things that happen constantly throughout the books thus far irritate me. Little things about the writing, little things about the characters. Little things. But little things that recur often enough that the irritation builds up.

OK, like, for instance: I have become resigned to McGuire's tendency to never tell you once what she can tell you again and again, often in the same chapter and sometimes on the same page.

Over the course of An Artificial Night, Toby Daye recaps not once but three times the events of the prologue to Rosemary and Rue. That's three times fully, mind you. Additional shorter summaries are given throughout. Like pretty much every time she's given cause to remember it. Like, she's just been dumped in a pond, so the reader must be explained to, again, why she's got a phobia of being immersed.

Or, frequently, a piece of information given in narration will then be repeated in dialogue on the next page or chapter, such that I'm left wondering why the info needs to be dumped twice. Neither instance was clunky--it wasn't truly an infodump in that sense, nor was the dialogue any kind of maid-and-butler, as-you-know-bob routine. But either would have sufficed, on its own. The repetition makes it feel as though the author doesn't trust the reader to get it on the first pass. (This happens in the 2016 novella and likewise Hugo finalist "Every Heart a Doorway," too. Compare the narrative reveal of Eleanor's true age in the first chapter with the conversation some students have, not long after, discussing the very same thing and in almost the same language.)

Or maybe Toby will just repeat some particular insight a lot, often, frequently, as though the reader needed to be constantly reminded--because how could I remember this from page to page, else?--that it would be very, very bad for that candle to go out. (Yes, I understand that the prospect weighed on Toby's mind. There are better ways to demonstrate that.)

And then sometimes you have something like this:

“Why won’t she wake up?”

“Hell if I know.” The Luidaeg sat on the edge of the bed, nudging Karen in the arm. When this failed to get a response, she nudged again, harder. “She’s really out of it.”

“I know that. Can you tell me why?”

“Not yet,” she said....

Is there any justification for Toby asking the question again immediately after it gets answered the first time? I can't see it. Nor can I see why the famously short-tempered Luidaeg doesn't retort, "What did I just say? What part of 'Hell if I know' don't you understand?" Goodness knows that's what I yelled at the page.

Like I said, little things. Nothing huge. Nothing that makes McGuire a bad writer, not by any stretch of the imagination. But that's just it. She's a good enough writer that small instances of clumsy writing (or, OK, what looks to me like clumsy writing) really jar. I'd be inured to them in a lesser writer, but I don't expect them of her.

Character-wise, it's also little things. Toby Daye being a little too slow on the uptake, given that her "day" job is Private Detective to the Fae. Or, on the other hand, secondary characters taking Toby to task for being slow on the uptake about something which, in the very same conversation, they have already acknowledged she couldn't possibly have known. (That sounds convoluted, but the example I'm thinking of is a spoiler. Sorry.) Toby being told "Go, go now, it's urgent, don't argue, just go," followed by two pages of Toby arguing before she finally just goes. (This happens no less than three times over the course of An Artificial Night. Each time, it feels, not like a natural expression of Toby's distrust and reluctance, but like page-padding, because the characters don't so much argue as repeat themselves nearly word for word for two pages. Which people do in real life, yes, but not everything people do in real life makes for good writing.)

And yet, they really are compelling books. I want to know what happens next. I want more beautiful, tear-jerking moments like the one at the end of the penultimate chapter. I want to learn more about the mysteries hanging over all the major players. I want to know if Toby is ever reunited with her human family. I want to see if Toby's vanished mother ever comes back and turns everyone's world and expectations upside down. So I will read the next book, and the next, and enjoy the heck out of them.

But I will also continue to be irritated by them. I am resigned to this. It is the price of admission. With that in mind, I would like a physical copy of the book which I can harmlessly fling across the bed or against the wall when my irritation levels get too high. That's all.

Cover art incorporates photo from Pixabay.com, CC0/Public Domain.
hello Hugo voter packet; goodbye productivity
Wed 2017-05-17 23:31:40 (single post)

All right already. "Later in the weekend" turned into effin' Wednesday, but here it is: "The Parable of the Singer," the Friday Fictionette for May 12 (ebook, audiobook). A little light blasphemy in the key of, oh, I dunno, Milton maybe. I am going to refrain from doing the "I suck" song and dance that usually accompanies a release that's this late; suffice it to be said that the best plans of mice and writers oft gang ugly when insomnia strikes. But I have clawed my way once more into a regular diurnal schedule. We'll see how long I can keep it up.

At least I'll have a strong incentive to turn in early, going forward. I have like a year of bedtime reading to cram into the not-quite-two-months that remain until the Hugo Awards voting deadline of July 17. It is a lovely dilemma to have. Many thanks to the creators and rights-holders of the materials on the ballot for making them available to WorldCon members everywhere! I will be diving into that glorious TBR pile (TBR = "to be read," see also Mt. Tsundoku) pretty much as soon as I'm done posting this.

(I promise not to spend the next two weeks incessantly reading in bed.)

YPP Weekend Blockades, May 13-14: Grudge-matches galore and BKs to beat on
Sat 2017-05-13 12:53:25 (single post)

This weekend's blockade schedule appears to dominated by, on the Meridian Ocean, Barely Dressed's war with Infamous (seven blockades all kicking off right about noon today) and on the Cerulean Ocean, The Coalition versus The Stumbling Solo (three blockades at various times throughout the PM). Cerulean also hosts a handful of Brigand King encounters, so if you like bounty payments and hauling up treasure, don't miss the action at Chaparral, Labby Moors, and Nu.

It's May and there's a new Seal o' Piracy to be won! This month, your task is simple and clearly explicated:

Engag[e] in melees with 3 Brigand Kings. (Cursed Isles and Brigand King Blockades not included; credit is awarded for reaching the melee, whether you win or lose)

I don't think it has to be three different BKs, but rather three different encounters. If so, it's pretty simple if you've got some PoE on you and the standing of Officer in a crew: Go buy yourself three Brigand King Compasses and use them, solo if you must! I've done that before. But it's much more fun, in my opinion, to win a BK expo during pilly with a decent crew.

(The Friday Fictionette for May 12 will go live later on during this weekend. My apologies. Last weekend being derby-stuffed led to this week being a short one with little margin for error. But I made rocky road brownies last night with my crock pot! That's gotta count for something.)

Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.

Doubloon Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, May 13 ***

12:00 p.m. - Corona Reef, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Kirin Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Barely Dressed
Attacker: Infamous

12:00 p.m. - Fintan Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Cochineal Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Dragon Lords

12:00 p.m. - Dendrite Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Radioactive
Attacker: Black Veil (3)

12:00 p.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Swampfen Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Terra Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Havoc Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Leviathan's Wrath
Attacker: Bullcannon Bonanza

12:00 p.m. - Tigerleaf Mountain, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:01 p.m. - Drogeo Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Barely Dressed

5:37 p.m. - Anegada Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: The Corsairs Alliance
Defender: Per Aspera Ad Sol

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, May 13 ***

12:00 p.m. - Chaparral Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Undertow
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)

2:01 p.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Ice Wyrm's Brood (2)
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

4:00 p.m. - Nu Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Midnight Yacht Club
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)

4:34 p.m. - Dendrite Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

4:52 p.m. - Byrne Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

8:50 p.m. - Jubilee Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

It looks something like this.
whatever gets you out of bed in the morning
Wed 2017-05-10 23:53:17 (single post)

I think I'm finally getting back into the everyday swing of things. Got up on time, did my daily writing deeds, dynamited huge chunks out of Mt. Overdue, uploaded the Wednesday volunteer reading recording on time, and went to an optional derby practice because why not.

Then I came home and ate yummy crock-pot shepherd's pie. Look, it was yummy. I had half the potatoes I was supposed to and no carrots, and I cooked it too long so that it came out looking sort of all-over brown in every part and that includes the peas, but it was yummy. Then again, I'm easy to please. It's full of meat and potatoes and mushrooms and onions and tomato paste and beef broth. I'm not likely going to complain. Besides, it was after derby. After derby, you can put a plate of pretty much anything in front of me and, five minutes later, the plate will be sparkling clean and I will say, "Thank you, that hit the spot. By the way, what was it?" So. Don't take my word for it, is what I'm saying.

So it was good day. Still didn't get everything I wanted done, but getting up on time helped me come mighty close. I would love to say that I leapt out of bed like a young Ray Bradbury who's so overcome with eagerness to write that I just! Can't! Stay in bed any longer!!! That's how he describes himself in Zen in the Art of Writing, anyway. I always envied him that. For years I felt like a fraud because I couldn't describe my mornings that way. What saved my self-esteem was becoming cynical enough in my old age to begin to doubt his self-reportage.

Anyway, no, though the prospect of writing (or, rather, getting all the writing done) was what kept me going all day, it was not what got me out of bed in the first place. No. That honor goes to the frickin' weekly extreme jigsaw sudoku.

Heaven help me, I've fallen off the wagon and landed face-first in my old addiction to that website's sudoku competitions. There's a new batch of puzzles every day and a midnight deadline to submit the solution and that, skaters and gentlefen, is all it takes to turn a casual passtime for me into an obsession. MUST INCREASE MY WINNING STREAK TO 350.

But it doesn't just push my gamer-acquisition-achievement button. It also pushes my mechanical obsession button. See, I made myself this .xcf document (like .psd only for the Gimp rather than Photoshop) with a layer group containing all the different jigsaw shapes, a layer group where I put screenshots of all the puzzles for the coming week, a text layer with the exact leading and kerning needed to put the digits right in the screenshot cells--and because it's a text layer, I can select-all, copy, and paste my solution directly into the website's submission form--and, most importantly, there's a huge library of paths which make selecting all the 2s in Box 3, Row G and Column 8 a matter of five keystrokes and a couple mouse-clicks. It is very, very clever and it is terribly satisfying to use and OK, I need to get out more. Granted. But I'll give you a copy if you want.

Last night, just before going to sleep, I was reading solving strategy articles, trying yet again to understand the point of X-Wings. I never quite understood before. I mean, what could they do that double box/line reduction and double pointing pairs couldn't? But this time around it finally clicked (Oh! It has nothing to do with boxes! It's purely about the columns and rows! I get it now) so I Alt-Tabbed over to the puzzle I was working on to test my comprehension. And, wouldn't you know, I spotted one. For the first time ever, I spotted a goddamned X-Wing in the wild while there were still candidates for it to clear.

It was very late at night. I was pleasantly drowsy and tightly swaddled in the blankets. I decided that, having spotted my X-Wing (on the 6s in rows G and H and columns 3 and 8), I'd process its candidate removal in the morning.

So although I'm vaguely embarrassed to admit it, it's dog's honest truth: It was the thought of finally getting to remove sudoku candidates by the X-Wing strategy for the first time that got me bounding out of bed on time.

Ray Bradbury would be ashamed of me. But I don't have to care.

Cover art attributions: School bus photo by Die4kids (Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons; wine glasses photo by Agnali (CC0/Public Domain) via Pixabay.com
this fictionette is out of breath and freshly full of bruises
Wed 2017-05-10 01:30:09 (single post)
  • 1,078 wds. long

I had hoped to have last week's Friday Fictionette done early, gloriously finished and filed under "Scheduled Release" by the time I boarded my plane out of Denver. When this did not happen, I thought I might be able to finish it piecemeal over Thursday and Friday, despite all the activity and exhaustion inherent in attending a roller derby tournament. This also did not happen.

Thus, I present to you, four days late and entirely out of breath, "Preventable Dudes" (ebook, audiobook) the Friday Fictionette for May 5, 2017. (I think the ebooks all say May 4. I will fix it tomorrow.)

Sunday was another two-days-in-one day. We got up, checked out of the hotel, caught a taxi to the events venue, and played our final game at 12:30 p.m. PDT. That was Sunday Mark 1. Sunday Mark 2 began immediately after our game, when we rushed over to the airport and proceeded to exist in transit until about 1:30 a.m. MDT. Whee?

Monday did not exist. Sshh. I'm not listening.

So. About that tournament! We did not, in fact, win any of our games. But if the win-or-lose aspect of the game is all a body cares about, that body ain't nobody who knows derby. There was a lot going on, a lot to learn from, and a lot to be proud of in how we played. Those were tough teams we were up against, and we got our full allotment of derby out of every jam.

If you missed the livestream, or even if you didn't, you can watch the archived footage here. (Links go to YouTube. Note that the audio doesn't start up for a few seconds. Be patient.)

I am putting those links there as much for my own convenience as for anything--if I am very diligent, I'll find time to review the footage myself between now and our next team practice.

The full archives, covering the entire tournament with its multiple sets of tournament brackets (women's A teams and B teams, men's league, and junior derby) as well as the expo and MVP bouts (congratulations to our own CatastroPhoebe for being awarded the MVP spot for our team, and for delivering her signature big hits in the Women's MVP bout versus Team USA!), are housed here; click on the playlist icon in the upper left of the 2017 video frame in order to pick out the game you're interested in viewing.

We'll be doing it all over again, only more locally, in less than a month, when Besterns 2017 gets underway. We've got a lot of work to do. Our first game will be a rematch against Jet City, who were the #1 seed in our D2 playoffs bracket last year and the only team we lost to during that weekend. So it's kind of a big deal.

greetings from the wrong side of I-5
Thu 2017-05-04 23:50:52 (single post)

Somehow we fit two whole days into today. There was the first day, the one spent almost entirely on airplanes and in airports. Then there was the second day, the one spent A. in a hotel in Eugene on the unfashionable side of I-5, and B. in the Lane Events Center watching one of our future opponents play the tournament host league in a private, non-tournament, sanctioned bout, and C. in taxi cabs on our way to A. or B.

Then, on top of all that, we managed to stuff an evening's date in, like a scrumptious dessert after a fantastic but carbs-heavy dinner that honestly didn't leave us any room for dessert, so we knew we were going to be painfully overfull afterward, but that dessert looked so good and you gotta live a little, right? Which is to say, after the ECRG v. Pirate City bout, we walked about a mile downtown to have pizza at Sizzle Pie and ice cream at Red Wagon Creamery. After that, one more taxi ride got us back to the hotel in time to say goodnight to that handful of teammates who will be staying down the hall from us.

Anyway, I'm a little tired.

See you tomorrow when this stream goes live!

the intertubes are for watching roller derby
Thu 2017-05-04 00:24:03 (single post)

I am in the throes of last-minute travel preparation, but I'm pausing all that RIGHT NOW to inform y'all of how you can watch the Boulder County Bombers "All Stars" skate at The Big O this weekend without leaving the comfort of your home nor yet, depending on how you do livestreaming, your bed:

That URL is http://ecrg.com/bigo/live/, which is basically a frame for https://wftda.tv/big-o/.

Notice that there will be three livestreams, each corresponding to one of the three tracks upon which derby will be happening. Our games will be as follows:

  • Fri. May 5 @ 12:30 pm PST, Track 2, vs. 2x4 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Sat. May 6 @ 4:00 pm PST, Track 3, vs. Pirate City (Auckland, New Zealand)
  • Sun. May 7 @ 12:30 pm PST, Track 2, vs. Sydney (Sydney, Australia)

The full schedule for all three days is here.

Which isn't to say we wouldn't totally appreciate y'all coming to event in person! Big hugs for YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE

OK, I gotta get back to it. Will probably find time to blog from Eugene tomorrow, so, we'll chat then.

we pause now for a rave audiobook review
Tue 2017-05-02 00:47:19 (single post)

It's Hugo season, and the list of finalists in just about every award category this year is so very promising that I've been using it as a reading assignment in earnest. For reasons that don't need to be listed here (not least because millions of pixels have already been spilled on the subject all over the internet), it's been a few years since I could do that. But there is so very much to read! I'm not sure I'll get through it all.

However, as part of making my best attempt, I've been availing myself liberally of the local bookstores and the library. I had forgotten that you can check out electronic media from the library, not just hard-copy books! Which rediscovery leads to this discovery: Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series is very, very good--and the audiobooks, narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, are even better.

I've been shotgunning these books, just listening to them at every opportunity. It is taking real discipline to stop the playback long enough to get any writing done (but I have been strong!). I'm not sure they're going to take my personal top vote for the Hugo Award for Best Series (a new category in its pilot phase this year), but if there was an award specifically for series in the urban fantasy genre, it wouldn't be a hard decision. They do so much right. The plots don't necessarily go anywhere unexpected for being more or less police procedurals--but the way they get there is a delight. The dry humor of the main character's observations grabbed me from the beginning.The audiobook narrator delivers his lines in ways that make me guffaw and snicker uncontrollably. He also renders each character unique and recognizable and with believable accents from West Africa to midwestern U.S., all the gradations of the British Isles, and in such precise combinations as "Indian by way of Scotland." (Which also gives you an idea of how multicultural and multihued Aaronovitch's London is. The main character has some wry observations along those lines, too, being himself a man who "range[s] from IC3 to IC6 depending on how much sun [he's] been getting.") And that's before we get into the heartbreakingly realistic voicing of a particular secondary character before, after, and through the progress of recovering from a relevant injury.

Speaking of which--the book that follows the one in which said injury occurs, it wrecked me, just punched me in the heart, just by making the aftermath of that trauma an important part of character and relationship development. I guess I'm used to sequels that sort of reset everyone to zero? Like, "Last book found the hero half-dead after the climactic battle, but he's all better now and ready for his next adventure!" And I was unconsciously expecting these books to follow suit? Maybe?

I kind of hate that I have to appreciate this, but--this is an urban fantasy series with a male protagonist who doesn't describe each and every woman he meets by referring to her score on his personal hotness index. It's like women actually matter beyond whether or not he'd like to have sex with them! (Look, I read the first book in the Iron Druid series. THERE IS NO COMPARISON.) It's not like he never refers to women's sex appeal--there's a long-time friend he's had a long-time crush on, and there are river goddesses who exude sexuality as part of their glamour, sure. But there's also a woman who comes to the police to report her son missing, compassionately described in terms of her fear and her stoicism and her humanity. There's a woman who's in a position of authority over the main character whom the main character doesn't resent for it. (She's also lesbian. He doesn't resent her for that, either. And he has absolutely no sympathy for anyone who does; in fact, there's a little triumphal glee over the presumed fate of the last person who made disparaging remarks about her sexual orientation.) The female characters who exist for reasons other than the main character's boner greatly outnumber the ones who... are at one time or another described as affecting said boner but nevertheless are also described in many other terms and play a much fuller role.

It seems like it should be a low bar: UF series with male protagonist and which unambiguously portrays women as people with full interior lives and agency. It's amazing how few such series I have encountered. So I really do appreciate this series for that.

I will also forever adore these books for taking some of the tired, grim tropes of detective stories, and infusing them with humanity and hope. Like, the main character's parents, and all their dysfunction, aren't just a voiceless part of his backstory. They turn into actual characters with surprising roles to play. Their status isn't fixed. His father isn't just a cautionary tale about how a drug addiction can tank a promising musical career. Dad shows up in the novels, talking about jazz and making new friends and--well, I don't want to spoil anything, but THERE IS HOPE FOR HIM, OK? This warms my heart. And the main character's mom is simultaneously THE BEST and also deeply frightening. I mean, I would read a whole series about her but I'm glad she's not my mom, you know?

Speaking of jazz: The musical interlude that begins each chapter is perfect. Makes me want to revisit my original ambition to write a few bars of my own to bookend the Friday Fictionette audio releases with.

I guess what I'm saying is you should totally get your hands, or your listening device of choice, on these audiobooks. I've been checking them out from the Boulder Public Library via either Overdrive or Hoopla as available. I will probably wind up buying my own copies to keep. Also the hard copy. And I will reread them to bits.

But I won't get to reread them even once until I've finished the rest of my Hugo Award reading.

YPP Weekend Blockades, April 29-30: Getcher doubloons now while supplies are still affordable
Sat 2017-04-29 12:10:42 (single post)

Rubber Duckies of Doom are at it again, continuing their efforts to single-flaggedly resurrect the blockade scene on the Emerald Ocean. That's a fine ocean for those purposes. Doubloon prices are still under 4K per on Emerald, unlike on Meridian where (no doubt thanks to some shenanigans) the price got walked up to 8.5K and climbing. Billions of blistering blue barnacles, people, whose interest does that serve? Some of us gotta "coinscribe" to keep our Cerulean subscriptions up to date! Gaaaahhhhhh - go sit in the corner and think about what you've done!

*ahem*

In any case, it looks to be a fun-filled, cannon-packed Saturday starting at a quarter to two, and you are encouraged to Get In On It. I hope to join you--I've got an unscheduled Saturday ahead, marred only by a night of insomnia which may cause me to keel over for a mid-afternoon nap unless I am very strong.

Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.

Doubloon Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, April 29 ***

12:10 p.m. - Acanthaster Spits, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (3)
Attacker: Barely Dressed
Attacker: Trap House
Attacker: Antheas

12:29 p.m. - Doyle-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Das alles verzehrende Feuer (1)
Attacker: Schmutzige Hände

1:44 p.m. - Ix Chel, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Caught In Crossfire
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:00 p.m. - Doyle Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Keep the Peace
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:00 p.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:00 p.m. - Bowditch Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:00 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:02 p.m. - Kasidim Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:41 p.m. - Pukru Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Invicta

2:42 p.m. - Cryo Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Unwanted

3:00 p.m. - Ventress Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Crayon Box
Attacker: Quid Pro Quo

*** Sunday, April 30 ***

12:00 p.m. - Viridis Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Dragon Lords
Attacker: Black Veil (2)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, April 29 ***

12:00 p.m. - Beta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Falling Stars
Attacker: The Enlightened (2)

12:00 p.m. - Chaparral Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Undertow
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)

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