Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Few Things

I'm currently reading Doubt by Jennifer Michael Hecht, and I've noticed again that my reading pace drops off when I'm reading fairly dense non-fiction. I'm enjoying the book, but I compare its 812 (epub edition) pages which I've been reading for what seems like forever to the three or so days it takes me to read a roughly 350 page fiction book. Anyway, I am enjoying the book, it's an interesting look at skeptics and doubters throughout history, but it's not necessarily about atheism, though that is a focus. There is also discussion of how doubt led to changes within religion. It's an interesting position to discuss how doubt defined early Christianity. The connection is overt in the mythology concerning Jesus's walking on water and Peter failing to follow him because of his doubt. But later the book discusses St. Augustine struggling with his own doubt, finding it to be hindering his faith and allowing him to remain fixated on sex rather than his god.
There is discussion of Eastern doubt from India to Japan with China between, but little else for the rest of Asia and nothing from Africa nor the pre-Columbian Americas. While I'm sure that there was something going on in those regions, I wonder if this absence is due to the usual Western-centric view or because of a lack of accessible and extant historical documentation as everything discussed in this book is backed up with extensive source footnotes.
The book follows along chronologically and I'm currently in the second half of the Nineteenth Century, and currently in the United States leaving me around one-hundred fifty-ish pages of content before the footnotes begin. In other words, it'll still be a few days before I finish and can move on to the next book.
In other worlds within my life I've long enjoyed crappy sci-fi and fantasy B-movies from the 80s and 90s, so I think I'm going to start posting up my thoughts here as I watch them. Before that I'm going to work my way through Starhunter. I caught a glimpse and watched an episode a while ago on Amazon before they lost the broadcast rights and no one else had them. Anyway, I got the first season collection through and I'll be watching and posting thoughts on the series one episode at a time. The first few episodes are out of order so I'll be making sure that I watch in the proper broadcast order. My Internet searches regarding the show came up with very little so I'm watching it with new eyes, which in this day and age is a weird feeling.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Illogicon IV

The fourth annual Illogicon was this weekend, which brings my attendance to three and a half. Last year my car was making some horrible noises on the way there and I couldn't focus enough to enjoy it until I took the vehicle to a shop. Unfortunately I found the failure to be both a bad oil pan gasket and a crapped out AC compressor. Anyway, there's no need to dwell on the past in this case, but I did regret having to miss Mary Robinette Kowal's panel on the intersection of sci-fi and puppetry.
Okay, Illogicon IV, 2015 was great as it is every year. I didn't run (as I did last year) nor play a tabletop RPG this year but I did attend some really great panels. I'm not the most extroverted person so I can't say that I interacted directly a whole lot but I did have a few small conversations with the guys looking to get Worldcon in Washington DC and one of my friends, Jenny Moore, who is one of the partners of Yarn Twisters, an outfit you should solicit if you ever have the chance.
Most of the panels I attended dealt with writing, which has been a staple of the con from its beginning.  Christopher J. Garcia, who edits the Drink Tank fanzine, was the fan guest of honor and totally fun, I'll be sure to be reading his work. Gail Z. Martin and Misty Massey were two very cool ladies who are also involved in a Kickstarter for a story anthology called Tales of the Weird Wild West, which I'm backing. I'm going to go ahead and admit to having a bit of a crush on Natania Barron and her book, Pilgrim of the Sky, has jumped to the next spot in my reading queue, as well as Kaiju Rising, which includes a story by James Maxey, and Larry Correia (whose Grimnoir Chronicles I love). Baen (they also have a good free ebook library) was in attendance again and put on the usual good showing of books recently released or soon-to-be released books, and I definitely took notes. Saturday night offered a great panel regarding independent publishing put on by Chris Kennedy, Ian J. Malone, and Thomas A. Mays (also adding them to the to-read list).
It's partly because of them and all the other writing-related panels that has led me to beginning this blog and returning to posting on my others as well as my intent to focus on writing again. Last year was the year I began reading more than watching TV, movies, or playing video games, 2015 will be the year I refocus on writing, which is something I haven't done in earnest since high school. So, we'll see what happens there as I practice writing short stories (not my strongest), essays (which I've always enjoyed) and complete the first draft and begin revising the novel I began with NaNoWriMo 2013 (I accomplished around 53,000 words by month's end). So those are my plans for this year. And if anyone winds up reading this, you should check out all of the links I've put up in this blog as all of these people are really cool.