Monthly Archives: April 2006

Song Setting: “Gloria Patri”

I continue my quest to memorize Latin prayers by writing catchy little tunes for them. (Well, I think they're catchy. But then, I'm memorizing these suckers, so I'm singing them a lot.)
Today, it's the original Latin version of the "Glory Be", or as all the cool kids call it, the Doxologia Minor.

("The Eentsy-Weentsy Praise Song" is probably not the translation of this that one should choose, but I feel a filk coming on that is to that effect. So you see that these catchy tunes could be a lot catchier if I were evil and stuck to tunes in the public domain.)

Also, I've again broken up the lines to reflect how I've broken them up into lines of the song. This one is probably as melismatic as I will get.

Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat
in principio,
et nunc, et semper, et in
saecula saeculorum.

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Song Setting: “Angele Dei”

My copy of the Compendium hasn't come yet, and Books & Co. still hasn't gotten any in, either. Meanwhile, all the other Catholic bloggers are enjoying it. I just have to offer it up. (You know, I notice God has been giving me lots of opportunity to offer things up lately. Perhaps He's trying to tell me something.) 🙂 

Anyway… one of the features of the Compendium is that it's got a good chunk of "common Catholic prayers" (many not so common these days) in an appendix at the back. And apparently the bishops (or at least the Pope) wish all of us faithful to memorize 'em, like we should have done back in grade school. (I sigh at all the hard work ahead of me, but secretly look forward to a little memorization. 'S fun.)

Inspired by the Cafeteria Is Closed podcast of the Latin prayers in the Compendium, I think I'm going to try setting some of them to music. (Lots easier to memorize, that way.)

Here's a starter for you. It's a setting of the original (c. 11th century) Latin version of the common "Angel of God, my guardian dear" prayer. I really like the original, which I had no idea existed. You can also sing the English version to this setting.

Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum
pietate superna.
Hodie/Hac nocte
custodi, rege,
et guberna.

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Review: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

If I had only known that this book came with discussion questions in the back, I could have saved myself several hours. Only Harlan Ellison’s “The Deathbird” makes good use of this feature, and it’s still twee and pretentious there. When publishers are seriously presenting book clubs with pre-made questions, it’s even worse for being seriously meant.

I bought this book on sale (fortunately) because it was recommended by several authors I respect. I am sad to say they were all on crack. This is a well-written book with a somewhat intricate plotline, but not intricate enough to repay the reader for a lame ending and several unpleasant thematic features.

1. Fear of crucifixes.

I really don’t understand this one, but it keeps showing up in modern novels. Apparently, half the world is made up of vampires now, as they are hopelessly traumatized by every Catholic holy picture they see. Comparisons to S&M and snuff films are de rigueur, which suggests some mighty strange things about what today’s writers find spiritually uplifting.

2. Nobody is ever celibate by choice. Even for five minutes.

If you’re not having sex like bunnies, you obviously were traumatized at some point. If you are unattractive and try to have sex, it will never work out. Unless and until you have sex with someone of the same gender, of course. This is magical, and makes you attractive and able to have sex like bunnies.

3. Religious vocations are a sure sign of unhappiness.

Not that this separates one from being a layperson, actually. But there is no peace to be found in a convent or a seminary. Obviously these people are just suppressing the urge to have sex with someone of the same gender, so they can become attractive providers of sex like bunnies.

4. Marriage never lasts, and neither does any other kind of love.

5. Children are always in danger, and always pawns of adults and their siblings.

6. Women are always in danger, and always pawns — unless they kill people.

7. Women are made weak by pregnancy and child care. No woman ever enjoys the process.

8. Men are made weak by women and children; they can only stay strong and unaffected by being total psychos.

To be fair, there is a certain amount of argument against these views. But the plotlines seem to insist that this is indeed what the author believes. (Nobody ever enjoyed being pregnant or having a baby, even the tiniest bit? Sheesh, don’t these people in England eat well enough, or did all the big strong agricultural women move to America?)

There were a few likable characters in the book, but the author did her best to ruin them before they fled her hands: making them act like idiots, or putting them into situations which in real life would be extremely abusive, for the sake of very implausible forms of happy endings. For their sake, I will pray that there be no sequel.

Jonathan Edwards’ God had nothing on Kate Atkinson. This is fairly typical of today’s authors.

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Afraid of a Little Fight.

I have to say, after listening to the cockpit voice recorder excerpts of Flight 93, I don’t have a great opinion of the terrorists’ willingness to fight. They’re perfectly okay with threatening the weaponless, and they’re up for pushing a woman around. But when a few people starting ramming the door with a beverage cart — a beverage cart! — they don’t wait around even to see if they can make a fight of it. They don’t try to hold out to accomplish their greater objective. No, they’re too afraid for that. Even though a cockpit is a pretty good defensive position — even though one man could hold off an army at a narrow door like that. A fair fight is no part of their plans; they plow into the ground rather than even try.

I will also note that, as I said from the very first day, it wasn’t the passengers who crashed the plane. Generally speaking, Americans don’t crash planes on purpose, because generally speaking, Americans always have hope that they can fight back and win. I’m still disturbed that so many of my compadres in sf fandom didn’t realize this basic fact, and that so many of them thought it would be a good idea to crash the plane rather than keep fighting. Or that crashing the plane would be the primary objective of passenger resistance.

That’s not who we are, folks. We are people who don’t attack planning to die. We may slot that possibility in, mark it down as an acceptable loss, but we don’t plan it that way. The passengers of Flight 93 had every intention of fighting as hard as they had to, with as much loss as might happen; but they also had every intention of landing that plane safely and walking away. Somehow.

And if the terrorists had given them half a chance, I believe they would have managed it.

The terrorists believed it, too.

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I know a good number of people who say they're Christian, but don't believe what the Bible says or what Tradition says. (They believe in reincarnation, for example.)

But the Bible and Tradition are the Word of God, and Jesus Christ is the Word of God. So if you don't believe in the Bible and Tradition, you don't believe in Jesus.

So logically, they can't possibly be Christian in any meaningful way.

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Maybe Jesus _Was_ the Emperor.

After all, he got acclaimed by the legions.

Sorta. Kinda. In an unintentional sort of way.

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Spy Wednesday

Apparently, one of the old names for Holy Wednesday is Spy Wednesday. It wasn’t dedicated to your friendly neighborhood intelligence officer, however, but to Judas’ betrayal of Christ (and becoming an ‘agent’ of the chief priests).

Maronites from Lebanon have a more positive tradition; they call it Job’s Wednesday. It’s counted as the beginning of summer, and women are not to sweep out the house that day, as that would attract ants.

Sadly, we’ve already missed the chance to celebrate Painful Friday (the Friday before Holy Week) and Lazarus Saturday.

A rather nice poem about Spy Wednesday with good illustrations (though the Judas redemption line sounds odd).


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Crucifixion with Back View of the Crowd

“Crucifixion” by Altichiero da Zevio

This is pretty interesting; you get to see the back of the crowd. I know this isn’t that exciting for most people, but back views are great for historians of clothing. And there’s just something very authentic about it, something that feels more real.

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Tolkien Considered as a Meanie

You know, it always amazes me how much Tolkien gets under some people's skin. You don't just get people who shrug and say, "Eh, I'm not into him." You also get your David Brins going on for ages about every way he's bad. And you get your Jacqueline Careys simultaneously leeching off Tolkien and bashing him.

Eh, whatever. Brin, Carey, I'm sad for you.

But the thing that kills me is that Tolkien is also constantly bashed for being part of his own genre, for following the traditions of fantastic literature and folk tales. God forbid that kings should happen to be noble, wizards even semi-wise, or monsters forces of evil and chaos.

Now, is probably not meaning to bash Tolkien. (He apparently does mean to bash Catholicism.) But he's just wrong when he says, "….the Fundamental Attribution Error which crops up in the work of Tolkien and his children, evil is essentialistic in a character, not a function of their circumstance. In some ways Carey’s work has a closer affinity with Greek mythology, with its Prometheus-like Sauron equivalent. In contrast Tolkien might not have been totally delusional when he stated that LotR was “fundamentally a Catholic work” in that his cycle did not explore the messy shades of gray which comprise such a vast arc of human experience."

Ooooohkay. You've never talked to a priest, have you. They only hear confessions of people's deepest darkest secrets, so obviously they know nothing about the complexity of human nature. (I understand that not all people <i>agree</i> with the Church, but calling her ignorant is an awfully ignorant thing to do.)

The Catholic position on shades of gray might best be described as a variant of Joe Bob Briggs' views on movie death: ANYONE can sin at ANY TIME for ANY REASON. But God will also save ANYONE at any time if they repent, ESPECIALLY at the last possible moment. So ANYONE can do amazing and heroic good.

Tolkien's work does indeed reflect this view.

Moving on to the main topic, anybody who's read anything written by Tolkien in civilian life, so to speak, would never have said this. Heck, anybody who's read anything about the trenches of WWI would never have presumed to think that Tolkien didn't know about "messy shades of gray".

(This is right up there with complaining to your Depression-era elders that they don't know anything about hardship, bitching to Vietnam vets about Midwestern bugs and humidity, and telling someone stationed in the Gulf about the horrors of getting sand in your shoes on vacation in Florida.)

Now, the question is this: did Tolkien react to "messy shades of gray" in his life by producing art with them, or without them?


Tolkien's art is multi-level. There are angelic gods, and near-angelic Elves, who made their moral decisions long ago. (Galadriel is still paying for hers.) There are demons, who also made their decisions to fall long ago, and demonic minions, who never truly had much free will or gave it up freely for illusions of power. There are noble heroes with powers beyond normal mortals, and mighty wizards, both of which are called to rise higher, or refuse and fall farther. But most of normal life among normal people (Hobbits, Dwarves, and the exotic race called Men) is conducted along normal lines. Since most of the people we meet are ordinary people living ordinary lives, we generally have little opportunity to see their moral mettle. But pressure makes them make various moral choices — generally a mixture of good and bad; also variously cowardly and brave, reckless and sensible.

The Shire and Bree folk contain some very messy shades of gray. Lobelia of the Silverware is a prime example. She was horrible, hateful, annoying, and closely related to both Bilbo and Frodo. In every petty occasion, she was petty. She even raised her son to be a collaborator and a dupe. But then, when all hope was gone from the "good" people of the Shire, she became equally annoyingly persistent to the Shire's invaders. Just a stubborn old lady who didn't know when to quit — a hero of the Resistance. Tolkien made us hate her. Tolkien made us love her. She was thoroughly Lobelia both ways.

Does anyone claim that Faramir didn't fully experience messy shades of gray? Or Eowyn? Or Aragorn? How about our favorite Ent? How about Gollum? And just look at the Hobbits, their bizarre lives and hard choices. So you see that it's a ridiculous charge.

The thing is, Tolkien went to the trouble to characterize even evil creatures and people: orcs (Grishnakh, Shagrat, and Gorbag), dragons (Smaug), Gollum, Saruman, and Sauron himself. He didn't have to do that; very few authors manage such things convincingly for even a line. Tolkien takes the trouble to look through their eyes.

Now, it's true that he doesn't spell certain things out. "Now, children, if you were born from a twisted demonic experiment on captured elves and dimly knew that you should have been near-immortal and beautiful and of genius intelligence, and you were continually kicked around, starved, and abused your whole life, you probably wouldn't be a very good person even if you didn't have a demon doing his best to suppress your free will. And if you were a good person, you'd have been killed by your fellows a long time ago, so you wouldn't be in this story."

I suppose such double standards are a sort of compliment to Tolkien, but as he's not a near-immortal Elf or a Maia running around on Middle-Earth, it's not really fair to expect such supernatural ability to satisfy every reader's bizarre little desires. But at the least, you shouldn't accuse him of faults he doesn't have.

UPDATE: I should add that I really do like's blog, and that it is well worth reading. I just think that on this topic, has made an error.


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Or, "What I Did on Holy Saturday" by J. Christ.

"Descent of Christ to Limbo" by Andrea Bonaiuti da Firenze.

This one's pretty interesting. Christ has apparently kicked in the door of Hell (knocking down a lot of doorjamb bricks on the way), and is now standing on top of door and demonic doorman. Several other devils stand watching from a safe distance. They all look appalled.

Meanwhile, Jesus holds out his hand to an old man — possibly Joseph, possibly Adam or Abraham — to help him out. A whole crowd of Jewish patriarchs (and maybe a few righteous pagans?) stand waiting for their turn. One of them holds a lamb (Isaac? Abel?) and another holds an ark (Noah). David is in back, wearing a crown and holding a psaltery, next to a man carrying some scripture. There are eight women in the crowd, but they don't seem to have much in the way of distinguishing marks. There is, no doubt, some scheme to pick them out.

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“The Deposition” by Gerard David

You know, there’s a lot to be said for high medieval art, especially the Northern European variety.

Christ taken down from the cross by John and the women

Normally, when you see an old woman in a painting of the Crucifixion or Deposition, she’s the Virgin Mary. In this case, however, we see that Mary is the middle-aged woman embracing Jesus. (She has the brightest halo.)

That means that the old woman is Elizabeth, embracing Mary to comfort her — and reflecting back on the hug they shared when they met back at the Visitation.

The woman with the ointment pot anointing Jesus’ feet is halo’d also, so she’s supposed to be St. Mary Magdalene. (Is it shallow to say I really like her hair? And her outfit?) Btw, I think her nearly uncovered hair is supposed to show her immodest past or extreme Southern European fashion-forwardness, but it’s probably also a bit of foreshadowing over the whole “walking around covered entirely by her extremely long hair” hermit thing. (I think I’ll stay focused on “nice headband, nice braids”.)

But I’m at a loss as to whom the lady in blue with the halo is who’s washing Jesus’ hand, and who the unhalo’d woman in red watching (and possibly cracking her knuckles) is supposed to be. (And don’t say she’s from CSI….)
Guess #1: Martha of Bethany is doing the work, and Mary of Bethany is contemplating, thus continuing to represent the active and comtemplative lives.

Guess #2: Some sort of Church and Synagogue dichotomy.

Guess #3: J. Random Local Saint and the patron who commissioned the painting. (Which would also explain why she’s wearing red and sitting apart from the rest.)
Btw, St. John is close to the Virgin Mary, showing that they’re family now. Also, you can just see Nicodemus coming through the gate that leads to the “tomb hewed out of the rock”.

I’m favorably impressed by David. He did a lot of other stuff that’s survived, including this cute picture of Mary feeding Jesus some kind of milk soup. (Looks like Cream o’ Wheat to me….) Spooooon!

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Church Review: St. Charles Borromeo, Kettering, OH

St. Charles is just up the road from me, but I've never been there before. (I've been in their parking lot to practice driving, though.) It's a big parish, and Alter High School (named after Archbishop Alter) is right next door. So you can see where they'd need a big honkin' church to go with it.

First off, it's not ugly. There are some very nice things about it. The glass in the vestibule is kinda nice, and so are the big windows. The organ is off to the side instead of playing "I am the modern replacement for the tabernacle", and there are some nice statues in niche semi-chapels off to the side. Also, you could easily put a choir in the back row and be heard all across the building, I think. However, since the piano was down front and to the side, I bet that's where the music folks are. However, it's in a sort of pit to the side of the tall altar dais, so at least the musicians aren't on display in full view of the congregation.

But it's not really pretty, either.

What happened, apparently, is that they hired one of those late eighties, early nineties mall facade-type architects — you know, the ones with all kinds of interesting architectural details that don't make sense, and build on a scale that's subtly too distorted to feel comfortable? That's what this church is like. It looks nice on the outside, but as soon as you get inside, you start to feel out of place. Not small before God, not comfortable in the House of your Father. Just out of place.

The altar had apparently been stripped for Passiontide already. It was pretty small — a wooden table that you could easily carry off with one other person's help. I don't know where they manage the saint relics in that thing — must be under the tabletop somewhere, but there's not much room. The lectern was a matching table. (Matching didn't look stupid, but the table thing did. And it must be a pain if you have additional papers.) There was nothing behind the altar dais but space for two trees which were set up against the back wall, and the non-representational window high above the altar. (Maybe that's the tabernacle? Or maybe it's a non-representational Last Judgement?)

If there was a crucifix, I didn't see it. I did later see the Easter candle out in the lobby… er, vestibule… though. So I guess they must carry in the crucifix at Mass time. Presumably nobody needs to remember Christ's suffering the rest of the time. (Or they only open up the chapels when it's not Mass. Which makes sense, 'cause I sure wouldn't want to go pray in a cavernous mall amphitheater or a holy Holidome.

I don't have anything against trees, you understand; but they were exactly the kind they use in malls. Really made the place look like a Holidome. Also, I would have thought three trees at least, for the Trinity. Ah, well. Clearly the trees are meant to represent Christ as both human and divine. Or the Marian and Petrine sides of the Church.

The floor was flat but sloping. And I mean sloping to the point you'd slide down to the altar dais if you missed your footing halfway up. Wheelchair and dropped toy nightmare, I'd bet, especially since the floor is tiled. The tiles were gray and green teal, btw. (Why doesn't anyone believe in polychrome anymore?)

The walls were either bare beigeish brick or bare white plaster. The plaster bits screamed, cried, and pleaded for frescos, but nobody is paying attention to them.

The pews were padded and placed to create nice wide space for movement — but there were no kneelers!!! The back rows used those annoying chairs with book holes to the side. They were fairly wide chairs, but still, there's an obvious lack of love for big and tall people. No kneelers back there, either. (My non-Catholic friend Joy is very indignant about how cruel all this standing is for the old folks, btw. And there were tons of old folks in this parish, from what I saw.)

I don't know where the tabernacle was. Maybe it was that thing off the lobby/vestibule.

I don't know where the holy water fonts were. I think they maybe only have the one in the lobby. I'm not sure that bowl was a holy water font, either, as it was attached to some kind of non-operational mall fountain, which might have been the baptismal font. Honestly, the place needed signs to tell you what things were. (Another reason for representational art on the walls and sides of things — to tell you what you're looking at.)
There were Stations of the Cross along one back wall, apparently made out of ceramic tiles during the seventies. I didn't care much for how they looked, though it was convenient that they were so close together. Convenient for walking the stations on your knees, that is, which is usually a bit too strenuous for us wimpy Americans.

All in all, the church gave the impression of being very expensive, but too cheap to spend money on a lot of the important bits of a church. (Like, say, kneelers. Or pictures on the walls for the kids to look at.) I would have been hard-pressed to tell you it was Catholic if I hadn't seen the Stations.

But once the next generation puts in the frescos and the altar canopy and the permanent tabernacle with the huge mural against the back wall, that will no longer be a problem.

UPDATE: I actually underestimated this church. It was built by the ecclesioclastic Fr. Vosko, so it's unusually beautiful and full of images and color for one of his. (Unlike poor Corpus Christi at my old university. You don't design a church based on light in a town where it's dark and rainy or gray and rainy more than half the year, which he should know since he's from Rochester of the lake effect.) Beautiful for Vosko is not saying much, but let's think positive. At least when he's building new, he's not tearing anything down or ripping anything out.

(Btw, did you notice the labyrinth under Corpus Christi's altar? Uh huh. Well, all I can say is that if you crawl around the labyrinth on your knees while saying the Rosary or singing the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I bet you can reclaim it for traditionalism right quick. I'm not sure what you can do about having non-saints and non-Catholics pictured in a church. (And who the heck puts up an icon of Karl Rahner? I always knew Father Bacik was a theology fanboy, but that's just silly! And that's SAINT Mother Teresa to you….). Maybe start inquiring about how much money you have to give to also get your own portrait put up so close to the baptismal font.)

It really is a shame Vosko didn't go into designing malls and gyms and community centers, though, because that's clearly where his true talents lie. And people would like him so much better.


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More Re-inventing the Catholic Wheel

Those crazy Holy Whappers were discussing this just the other day (scroll down to the March 30th "Life Coaches" post), but here's another example from Sharon Shinn:

Truth-Tellers are incapable of telling lies and recognize when others are lying, so society relies on their unwavering trustworthiness. Safe-Keepers cannot reveal what is told to them in confidence, and they bear the burden of people's confessions.

Other than the actual inability to lie, what you've got is almost a magical version of a priest. Which, if you go down the street to most parishes, you can find waiting for you. No magic required, just shrewdness and the grace of God.

(And yes, I think the "incapable of telling lies" thing is a horrible violation of free will. But most teen fantasies have no respect for free will, so that's par for the course.)

What's really funny here is that something which is supposed to be a horrible burden for an adult man (prophetically telling people the truth about themselves and keeping the seal of Confession) is here visited upon two young girls and supposed to be all neat-o. Obviously, Sharon Shinn is advocating the return of junior high and high school seminaries…. 🙂

This is not as funny, of course, as the current trend of thinking that an anam chara (Irish for 'soul friend') is some sort of soulmate or superduper best friend, and pagan to boot. An anam chara was someone participating in the mutual spiritual advisor relationship between monks (especially those who were priests and/or hermits), or monks and nuns (especially the hermit ones) — back in the early Church in Ireland. You confessed your sins to your anam chara, and vice versa. (Well, except nuns didn't hear Confessions. The monk would have another monk somewhere else to hear his Confession. But the monk and nun could discuss his sins in a non-Confession way, and the spiritual adviser thing still worked mutually.) Very Desert Fathers, really.
'Anam chara' is an eminently Christian concept, and anyone who doesn't know or won't acknowledge that can't play. 'Anam' itself is obviously related to the Latin 'anima' (soul) so it's not like it's hard to figure this out.

Two neopagan teenage girls in post-disaster Oregon pretending to be elves are in no way anyone's anam chara. I realize S.M. Stirling was going off research into contemporary neopagan thought here, rather than making it up for himself, but… so darned funny!

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April Fool’s Day on RASFW

This year, the grand old Usenet group rec.arts.sf.written featured a couple of noteworthy April Fools' posts. (There was another which was just foolish.)

From James Nicoll:

Recently seen: new Turtledove

Volume six of his American Titans series, which began with
an obvious but subtle alteration to American history: What If the
raid on Harper's Ferry had been commanded not by John Brown but
instead by Godzilla. This small change is enough to allow the
raid to succeed and this has had a tremendous effect on American history.

In this volume, the long awaited show-down between the US
(led by Thomas Alva Edison) and Greater Canada (ruled over by self-
proclaimed Philosopher-King Alexander Graham Bell) finally happens,
or rather the opening shots are fired. Both men realize that controlling
the media will be the key to winning the war and so both men race to
use their primitive (to our eyes) telecommuncations* technology to win
hearts and minds across North America. Whose telemarketers will win?!

AMERICAN TITANS V/PHONING IT IN can be found in better SF

* Indeed, the conflict between the two men is over whose company
owns the basic patents on the phone.

See previous post.

Ryk Spoor (Sea Wasp) actually felt inspired by this to write the Godzilla plot (being a fan of He Who Breathes Radioactive Flame), and someone else suggested an Alternate Turtledoves anthology. Which actually isn't the worst idea for a festschrift.

Then, from Peter Wezeman:

Dorsai Update

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced that it will be
funding the completion of the late Gordon Dickson's epic Dorsai series
of novels. A panel of SFWA members will choose writers for the
individual books based on a blind reading of sample chapters submitted
by applicants. This will not be limited to established science fiction
writers, as the series will include historical and contemporary novels.
This has been authorized under the administration's No Childe Left
Behind program.

Hee! More puns ensued.

On a March 30th thread about Tor finally updating its website, Nicoll then opined on April 1st:

And of course the question always was "how could a large
and successful organization let their website fall into such dis-

The answer seems to be that for some reason, Tor didn't
want people finding out about the acquisition of Tor SF by LUNA
Books too early, which meant no schedule past April. It's an
obvious move: SF's market share has been declining for years,
while the demographic Luna serves is both large and stable*.

A number of LUNA's authors are old SF hands: Mercedes Lackey,
whose ONE GOOD KNIGHT has sold out its print run, Laura Anne
Gilman and Sarah Zettel would all serve as examples. Other
LUNA authors may also be SF authors in a more line-appropriate
garb: Charlotte Stross and Harriet Turtletaub look suspiciously

* Do people look down here? Consider the date I posted this.
On a totally different thread, Nicoll had a classic comment about a novel he'd just read:

Comic fantasy. Seems to be an American trying to emulate Pratchett. Reach,
grasp, purpose of non-infernal afterlife.

The same thread even offers a discussion of the myriad fine sf authors named Smith, and a magnificent Nicoll summary of a notional Thorne Smith space opera:

"Jasper Larkins was a hen-pecked agent for the Trans-Sirian Insurance Company until the day a mysterious red haired woman known only as Kit hands him a wristband on which is afixed "a lenticular structure of hundreds of thousands of tiny crystalloids, built and tuned to match the individual life force-the ego, the personality of one individual entity." A lesser man might have turned to a life of crime fighting but Jasper and his madcap young companion use theirs to flout the rules of a stuffy and over-ordered galactic society (represented by wife and her family), all while consuming heroic amounts of alcohol."

Books to look forward to this summer: the first book of Bujold's new fantasy duology, The Sharing Knife: Beguilement, and the latest installment of Steven Brust's Vlad series, Dzur.

There are also unabridged Lensmen audiobooks out, which makes me smile, even if they're coming out from "those people who sell truckstop audiobooks". (I didn't realize they called themselves "Books in Motion", which is cleverly descriptive. Also, they have a rental program at many truckstops, including all Pilot stations. Good marketing.) Clearly, I have misjudged "those people", and I repent me.

In other news, I seem to have missed entirely a whole passel of Doyle and Macdonald books, which saddens me.

I love RASFW, and I'm glad to see it's alive and well.

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