by ken

Yuletide Greetings, Christmas Cards from the Multiverse

There’s a festive air in Bag End. Bilbo has broken out a couple bottles of the Old Winyard and is mulling them in a pot hung over the fire. Gandalf is carefully igniting tiny candles placed on branches of the tiny fir tree in the parlor, applying the tip of his staff and muttering a spell to spark each one. Sam is wiring together a wreath, while Frodo attempts to keep Merry and Pippin from opening all the presents.

In a harborside tavern, Conan, with great mirth, employs the heavy bone of a joint of beef to club an insolent potboy who is imposing bawdy lyrics on the tunes of old Cimmerian carols. This he does without spilling a drop from his tankard or the saucy tavern wench from his knee.

The Sleepless Writer

This may not come as a shock to anyone, but the care and feeding of a newborn tends to cut into one’s free time, the time one might normally spend – say – writing. That’s not a complaint mind you. The frequent rising in the middle of the night to feed or comfort, dealing with the maddening refusal to just go back to sleep already, do you have any idea what time it is is all worthwhile. In the light of day, jaw cracking with yawns, dragging myself to the gym and to work, the previous nights frustrations fade.

So, yeah.

But I’m still finding time to write. A matter of desire, I suppose. If you want to do something, you’ll make the time.

Alastair Reynolds

This web log is not meant as a forum for me to vent. I’ll whisper my complaints into a mug of beer in a dark, quiet corner. Don’t worry, I’ve no intention of whining. A squalling infant in the wee hours, inutile family drama threatening to start a suppurating ulcer need not concern you.

So let’s talk about science fiction.

The Show Must Go On

13 - 1 (1)Twice daily visits to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to visit my newborn daughter eat up a lot of the day. It is terrific to observe her progress. She’s getting bigger every day and should be coming home in, perhaps, a week.

Fantastic. But I still need to keep writing.

Introducing to the World, Victoria Valentina Lizzi

Saturday took a more eventful turn than anticipated. After celebrating my wife Isa’s birthday on Friday I assumed I’d disposed of family birthdays for awhile. But the little one who’d been gestating in Isa for over thirty-seven weeks had other ideas.

Not that we’d been bereft of portents. The signs of impending arrival were there, but the contractions were nowhere near the frequency we’d been told indicated labor. Some disconcerting physical manifestations convinced Isa to call the doctor. The doctor suggested she come in for a precautionary exam. Everything was routine, precautionary, just-in-case. We figured we be home by the afternoon.

Nope.

Your standard labor is filled with sufficient drama as is. We weren’t asking for any theatrical upgrades. Got ‘em anyways, gratis. High blood pressure, magnesium sulphate drips, dislodged placenta. Then, many hours later…

A large room crammed with doctors and nurses. Your humble web logger as supernumary, dressed for a NASA clean room. Beeping equipment (though sadly absent the machine that goes “bing”), muttered medical jargon, flashes and glimpses of viscera – things externalized that should best remain internalized. Then…

Victoria Valentina Lizzi. A miniature human being. Quite miniature: about a jigger short of four pounds. Tiny but perfect.

The doctors scooped the innards back into Isa – all the pieces in order, one hopes – and stapled her shut. She’s had a chance to hold little V.V., but given our daughter’s current minuscule proportions the two currently occupy separate rooms. I’m sharing a post-partum room with Isa while V.V. enjoys the company of her peers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

So, yeah, interesting Saturday. I’m a father. Wrap your head around that one.

Book Backlog

I’m hip-deep in unread and partially read books. Normally I wallow happily in such a morass. Today instead  I’m feeling more inundated and borderline panicked.

The release date for event books, books I’ve waited months or years for often clump. At least it seems so. When I reserve them at the library they always seem to come in the same day. Or a long-expected book and a book that caught my eye in a reference in some article or other. I can reserve them months apart. They still await me at the library on the same damn day.

OryCon 35

I attended my first science fiction convention as a guest this weekend. Not my first con, but my first on the other side of the panel table. OryCon is the annual Portland convention, now in its 35th year. It brings together fans of the myriad interests lumped under ‘science fiction.’ So, you’ve got your klingons, your gamers, your costume makers, anime buffs, etc. I’ve attended about a dozen of these over the years, not with any particular focus, but simply as a reader of speculative fiction in general. It allowed me a chance to meet some of the authors of books I’ve enjoyed and to hear the authors discuss various topics at panels.

Getting Real

Step by step it grows increasingly real.

My beautiful wife attended her baby shower last night and returned laden with ridiculously tiny outfits and boxes containing gadgets of arcane purpose. The boys bought me beer at my nearby watering hole and reminisced. Today I assembled a three-wheeled stroller and puzzled out the method of locking a baby seat into the stroller’s frame.

Something is changing.

There is a certain tradition in Mexico – or so MBW tells me – that the husband purchases his wife another ring to commemorate a new child. Today I picked up a piece of jewelry, sterling silver and blue and white topaz. MBW will need to resize it once the swelling in her fingers recedes.

Step by step.

I have new furnishings that I can make no use of. I have plastic contraptions that rattle and beep. This place once felt pretty roomy. Each new preparatory accretion renders the condo more and more – let’s say cozy.

MBW is laundering a pile of towels sufficient to dry off an army. Well, an army of very small soldiers. And we’ve got blankets enough to keep each miniature myrmidon warm.

I attended a class on infant CPR the other day. I filled those plastic lungs with my own breath and compressed that little chest.

So, yeah. Getting real.

The Face in the Frost

The_Face_in_the_Frost_-_John_Bellairs

This another of my erratically spaced web log posts concerning the books of Appendix N. Today I consider “The Face in the Frost” by John Bellairs, a delightfully charming short novel.

Bellairs is known for children’s books and at first glance “The Face in the Frost” seems to fit that categorization. It begins whimsically. And a certain sense of whimsy suffuses the entire narrative. But the story soon turns onto increasingly dark pathways. This is not a children’s book.  Real dread prevents the comical adventures of Prospero (“not the one you are thinking of”) and Roger Bacon from becoming too light to take seriously.

Discipline

The simple fact is I don’t wish to write today. I am tired. I woke early to pick up my wife at the airport. She is understandably tired: travel in addition to pregnancy. So I handled the shopping and the preparation of the coming week’s lunches. Now my feet ache – my dogs are not exactly barking, its more of a whine. Along the lines of what I’m doing here.