All posts by kate

BristolCon Fringe: Monday 19th June

Bristol Con FringeI am doing Social Stuff! And Appearing In Public! And doing a reading. Why did I sign up for this again…?

(It’ll be awesome. Honestly, anxiety brain. Do shut up.)

I’m at The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer (aka. The Volley) in Bristol on the 19th June, supporting…

*tries not to fangirl*

*fails*

Peter Newman.

There may have been swear words when Tom asked if I wanted to be involved with the same event. I mean, I only loved The Vagrant and The Malice and the short stories (one of which, The Hammer & The Goat, he’ll be reading from) and I haven’t yet got my sweaty paws on The Seven but it’s top of my list.

So, yeah.

If you’re in or around Bristol on the 19th June, come along and hear a snippet of the next GreenSky book, Empty Skies & Sunlight, and get a chance to ask me random questions – and hear Peter Newman read, and get to ask him random questions too!

Derpy McDerpFace

I’ve got a friend watching over me at work now…

Derpy toy

I still miss him. I talk to him every day – my commute takes me past the railway bridge, and I always say hello, or call him an idiot, or just smile. I write something I think he’d enjoy, or glance at my phone to see if I’ve got a message, or think of something I want to put in a game.

His favourite was Pinkie Pie, but I never entirely understood that, because he didn’t seem like a Pinkie Pie. He was either Twilight Sparkle, or more frequently – when he’d just drilled through a pipe, or tripped over nothing, or nearly dropped the tea, or done something stupid in-game – Derpy. And so it felt entirely fitting to have a small smiling Derpy sitting on my desk to remind me that my friend will always be around; it’s nice to have the memory just there. It’s also helping me when  I think of him – it means I’m not dwelling on the memories, as I can just attach them to something and then move on. It’s been really hard recently, and I’ve hated having time alone to think (despite time with people being equally hard) so I’m hoping this will help.

I’m learning more about him too, which makes me miss him all the more – I wanted to discover the things with him, and have that beaming smile. He could shoot well, had his own airsoft pistol, and enjoyed doing it – something I wouldn’t have expected from the Ryan I knew. I can see facets of his personality in his interactions with others; his profile picture with his brother always makes me blink, because they’re both pulling faces – that was the Ryan I knew, but it’s just a reminder that I only knew a slice of him, and he relaxed so much with others, too.

bunny toyI do also have another friend at work…he was left behind by one of my colleagues’ daughters, and so he’s been helping me with my anxiety days! He now has a post-it on saying “Free for bunny hugs” as I don’t want anyone to think he’s just mine. Everyone was incredibly chilled at the fact I was hugging a bunny for most of a day last week, which is brilliant. I think one of the major facets of making people in general more aware of mental health is just normalising the coping mechanisms. If I need to go for a walk or hug a bunny, then hey, that’s fine – and I really hope that’ll extend to anyone else in the office who needs the same thing for any reason.

And there’s the puppies, of course, who are always up for hugs – or pulling the head off a stuffed cow, whichever one seems more exciting. Both come with equal amounts of slobber!

The Goblin Emperor

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Goblin emperor cover

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir. 

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment. Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne–or his life.

So, so good. I-nearly-missed-my-stop good. “I know it’s dinnertime but I just want to finish my chapter” good. If you like political intrigue, amazing and detailed worldbuilding, a subtle and deep adventure…the book reminds me of Kushiel’s Dart or Ursula le Guin – I haven’t read anything else with this level of politics in modern fantasy, but I’m sure it exists.

This isn’t adventure, but it’s definitely drama-filled. I was very caught up with Maia all the way through, and I love so much that it’s not all about him; other people make choices that affect him, and there are points where the action could go any way!

I think what really makes this book is the details. The language is rich and complex; it almost felt translated, as I was craving the subtle tu and vous switches of formal to casual rather than the generic “you” of English – but the details are cleverly dropped in to add the atmosphere. The use of etiquette and the level of detail is spectacular, and adds so much to the world without having to info-dump. Maia’s part-knowledge, part-ignorance works really well to slide us in to the Court, and it never feels boring; as Maia learns and grows and muddles on and adapts, following him is a tug and the constant problem of new situations and choices presents ever more interesting difficulties.

My personal view is that this book is done a disservice by the cover – I’d love to see something in the style of The Seven, or a much more dramatic representation of Maia and the Court. The existing one doesn’t convey the politics and the intricacies of the story, and almost gives it a simplistic view. I also wonder if it would have been better without the Goblin/Elves label. Yes, it does convey a lot about the races without needing to explain…but it also introduces a lot of fantasy-cliche background. I could have lived with more explanation of the way characters looked in the descriptions if it meant not having the echoes of existing fantasy races winding through what is, in reality, an entirely new world. But both of those are minor points that only annoy me because they potentially limit the reach of what is an absolutely fantastic book.

It’s a stand-alone so is a nice self-contained read, but the author has written other works under her real name of Sarah Monette – so I’m heading off to check those out!

A visit to Eden

I was lucky enough to get to go to the Eden Project this weekend with two amazing friends (and their cameras). Let’s just say straight off – I spent most of the weekend being a packmule and waiting for them while they took photos of EVERYTHING. This was usually my view…

But then I knew they were going to do that, so I just found a bench and got to appreciate everything 😀 and they did get some amazingly arty shots! (The ones here are all mine – they haven’t sorted through theirs yet).

We saw birds, and a lizard (who was SUCH a poser) and lots of trees, and plants, and rocks, and sculpture…we did all spend quite a bit of time going “what’s that? It looks like an X but not. Hmmm.” And then the photographers would take a picture of it with artistic raindrops and I’d just wander along with my rucksack, appreciating the sculpture and plants and landscaping and thinking how bloody weird it was to be in the middle of the Mediterranean while someplace in a quarry in Cornwall.

I didn’t get many pictures – weirdly, I didn’t really think of it – but my favourite thing was the Rainforest Biome, because they have a rope bridge! I loved it. And I liked the secret garden too, because it had a willow arch. We got to feed a robin, and eat ice cream, and sing in an echo chamber, and see a lot of aloe plants, and just wander. I went on the zipwire (“Hell NO I am NOT going on that thing! Feet firmly on the ground, thank you!” from the photographers) so that was cool, and the food was really good too. We stayed in the YHA which has shipping containers for bedrooms – apparently people make entire houses in them? I could actually cope with that, I think. It was a lot more spacious than I’d expected, and the bed was really comfy. We were intending to do the Lost Gardens of Heligan on the Sunday, but ended up stopping early on the Saturday and having an early night with Chinese takeaway, and then going back to Eden on Sunday. I’m really glad we did, as it made everything a lot more relaxed, and we got to visit favourite spots again. It was awesome, and really quiet – and we got a nice mix of weather, so it felt nice being outside in the sun and breeze and then retreating to the rainforest when we got the proper English summertime back again! (aka. it tipped it down).

I had Monday off (hence no post – I did intend to write this one and then fell asleep) and then went to see Emma Newman at the Bristol Fringe, which was fab. I haven’t yet read Planetfall and After Atlas, but having heard an extract from After Atlas, they’re both on the top of my list!

So that was my weekend. Back to normal life now…

Old writing: Moon Story

My first attempt at sci-fi from about 2006! I might go back to this someday, or see how it goes into something else…I did like the story, but it never got fully fleshed out. I’d be interested to see how it does morph if I pick it up again.

As soon as she entered her small, neat room, Tanine knew that there was someone else there. Was it just her thoughts? Was she being silly, just because she had just been…no! But the presence was there, she knew – it was almost tangible to the senses. She shut the door firmly and looked around, but there was no one to be seen. It was her imagination! But no, it wasn’t…the slender girl licked her lips nervously and spoke, feeling a little silly at speaking to empty air.

“Who…who are you?”

Butterfly.

They had answered? As the shock faded, the girl quickly assessed the voice. It seemed to be in her head, not heard, but still there. It was a light tone, neither masculine nor feminine, but with the slight stilted accent that spoke of computers. But the accent could be stimulated. What did they want with her?

“What are you?”

I am a computer programme, similar to the IHEG system. My access code is Butterfly.

A computer. Tanine sat down on the bed and activated the screen to her personal monitor. She shook her head slightly, dismissing the jumble of thoughts and emotions and concentrating on the task at hand.

“What do you want with me?” she asked softly as she ran a search on the name. Oddly, she was not afraid of the silent presence – she knew that it would not stop her; that it was strangely friendly towards her. How did she know that? she wondered.

It is more what do you want with me. You found me.

That brought reality crashing back down to the girl as the computer brought up no results for the search. Several days earlier, she had found a locked system while searching for something for school on the network. It had been pure accident that she had happened across the gateway, and she was fairly certain that no one had come across it before. But she had no password for it and hurriedly retreated before security was triggered. So was the thing now talking to her whatever was behind that locked gate?

Yes. I am Butterfly, created by Aleut Hume. I am a purely personal system, but I have access to most of the network. More than your systems have, at any rate.

The voice seemed to be laughing. Had this system been given more human characteristics than the normal ones? How…what was it? Questions revolved round Tanine’s head. And…it had answered her thoughts. The thought sent an icy shiver down her back. It could hear her thoughts?

Maybe I had better explain. Aleut created me as a companion, but also as a protector. Butterfly said. I know everything that goes on in this base, and a lot of what goes on in the others. I was given an almost human character. Go back to the gateway you found three days ago.

The girl did as she was told, remembering the pathways with ease. Her memory tricks were one of the few things she was proud of at school, but she chose not to let on about it – it would attract too much attention. She went quickly through the network, accompanied by silence from the computer-person. And then there was the gateway, a blank screen with the simple word across it:

PASSWORD

I told you what it was. Butterfly reminded her softly.

Password…access code. Butterfly.

Tanine typed it in. Nothing happened.

You have to speak it as well as type. Put your hands on the access plates so I can get your prints as well, and your datachip. the mental voice instructed.

The girl spoke the password softly, and touched the screen. She suddenly felt a deep wave of fear sweep over her, but if faded as fast as it had come, leaving her nervous and puzzled.

ACCESS GIVEN

As soon as the words on the screen came up, the blackness dissolved into a whirl of colour. Then, on the screen, came the hazy figure of a person. It resolved into a human, a slender woman wearing a subtly coloured cape of all colours, an old-fashioned style from another century, times ago. The hood covered her face, leaving darkness beneath it, hiding the features. She seemed to be looking directly at Tanine. She seemed almost…real.