So a while back I looked at my short stories and realized, huh — they kind of fall into these nice little groupings. Not enough in any one grouping to fill a whole print collection, but very nicely sized to make a set of tidy little ebooks.

The first of those is now available for pre-order! The title is Maps to Nowhere, in homage to Diana Wynne Jones’ novel Fire and Hemlock and the “NOWHERE” vases that are a recurring motif in it. (The same novel that inspired me to become a writer, and in a roundabout fashion sparked another story of mine.) It contains ten short stories, all set in secondary worlds. To whet your appetite, here’s the table of contents:

Maps to Nowhere


cover art for MAPS TO NOWHERE by Marie Brennan

Maps to Nowhere will be out on September 5th!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
([personal profile] ceciliatan Aug. 17th, 2017 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Okay. About five years ago I told Daron I’d do a Liner Note. Maybe six. Not sure. I promised some day I’d give you guys my list of best bass songs ever or something like that.

What this actually is, is the list of songs that probably influenced by young mind the most and why I play bass the way I do.

We’ll start in what they now call “classic rock” but when I was a kid was just called “rock.”


Pink Floyd’s “Money” was all over the radio when I was growing up. WBCN was the main station I listened to, coming out of Boston, when we were at the Cape during the summers, and WNEW from New York when we lived in Connecticut. That first instrument you hear after the money sound effects is the bass.

Speaking of Boston, a band from there was of course hugely influential, namely Aerosmith. Listen to the bass groove on this:

Maybe a touch repetitive, but a groove is a groove and the one in Sweet Emotion is damn near perfect.

I had to include this one from Queen, too, which was written by their bass player, John Deacon, so it’s no surprise it has a great bass riff. The story I heard was that the other guys in Queen were encouraging Deacie to write a song so he could make more of the publishing and songwriting money that Freddie and Brian were getting the lion’s share of. He was hanging around with the Bernie Edwards from Chic and came up with the riff, but the song didn’t develop until later. They weren’t planning to release it as a single, but Michael Jackson (who was a close friend of Freddie’s and loved their music) told them they should. They did and it went on to be Queen’s biggest hit all over the world topping pop, rock, and disco charts and selling more copies than any other of their songs.

Of course, two of the most influential frontmen of the late 1970s to early ’80s were bass players, Geddy Lee of Rush, and Sting of the Police.


(By the way, Anna Sentina, hottest bass player on YouTube and I don’t mean that because she’s gorgeous to look at either.)

In the above track, “Walking on the Moon,” you can particularly hear the way the bass and the guitar “talk” to each other. In particular it’s always been my theory of rock song composition that the bass asks the question that the guitar answers. It’s the like straight man who sets up the punch line in a comedy duo.

And of course The Police were hugely influential on me and Daron. We don’t sound anything like them really, since what we do isn’t reggae-inflected in the slightest, but as far as musicality and the way we utilize instrumentation, yeah.

So now we come to my top five actual favorite bass songs.

1. Duran Duran “Rio”
The bass is basically the lead instrument while the guitar is the rhythm. John Taylor was self taught. That didn’t stop him from being a genius. I later heard he was trying to play like Bernie Edwards in Chic. I was too much of a white boy to hear Chic while I was growing up, but Bernie Edwards influenced so many of these guys who influenced me.

This version is a dance remix where the bass part is a little louder than on the regular radio version so you can hear it better:

2. The Cure “Killing an Arab”
3. The Cure “The Lovecats”
I couldn’t decide between the two of these so here are both of them in my top five. “The Lovecats” is another one of those ones where I feel like the bass asks the question and the rest of the band tries to answer it.


(The song isn’t an anti-Arab song, by the way. It’s all a reference to a scene in Albert Camus’ book “The Stranger” but people assumed and/or have used it that way. The Cure ended up playing various charity shows for pro-Arab causes trying to balance out the karma.)


This video of “The Lovecats” is an acoustic version. Robert Smith plays slide guitar on it. The bass part is right on.

4. The Pretenders “My City Was Gone”

There are some great live videos of The Pretenders on tour this past April (2017). They’ve still got it.

5. Shriekback “My Spine is the Bassline”

This one might be a bit more obscure, but you can tell by the title it would have interested young, bass-loving me. And it did not disappoint.

There are lots more that I love but this collection pretty much defines what I’m about as a bass player. I grew up thinking that this was what bass players did. It never occurred to me that in huge swaths of pop music the bass is never this active or even audible. I only heard what I wanted to hear, and that worked out well for me.

Okay, your turn. What are your favorite bass songs?

ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
([personal profile] ceciliatan Aug. 15th, 2017 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

We got our twenty minutes. We worked on one song during our soundcheck. We worked on it enough to make me feel like–at least on that one song–we tiptoed back an inch or two from the precipice. The rest of the Star*Gaze set was still going to be like crossing the canyon without a net, though.

Fine. I considered that as a group of professionals we could make the best of it, but I still wasn’t happy about it.

Read the rest of this entry » )
catsittingstill: (Default)
([personal profile] catsittingstill Aug. 11th, 2017 09:54 pm)
So a couple of days ago I was walking around campus catching Pokémon in the dark again. I don't walk around after dark all that much these days (just how my schedule works out; I'm one of the lucky few who has never been afraid of walking around at night) but when I do, Pokémon are usually involved in some way.
And I was down in the cafeteria / student activity center / campus security office corner where there are 4 Pokestops pretty close together when I heard what sounded like a scream. I stopped and looked up from my phone. Nothing. There were several Pokémon handy so I sidled in that direction while catching Pokémon. Presently I heard another shriek and what sounded like a slap.
Now I was concerned. It's hard for me to tell, from any distance, the difference between people shrieking because they are playing around and people who are actually in trouble. But this sounded like it might be trouble. So I walked in that direction.
There's a few small 2 story apartment buildings in the area and a little white house and a few other buildings, and I walked quietly down the cross street, listening. I heard another shriek from the house and saw a silhouette of someone near the blinds, whose shadow moved across the window and away as they moved quickly into the room.
I had time to think a lot of things. It might be a domestic violence incident. It might be students just playing around. Knocking on the door would be embarrassing. But what if someone was being beaten in there and I walked away and left them to it? Maybe I should call the police. But police bring guns, and guns can go wrong very quickly; if they're people of color, or speak a foreign language, that might not be safe for them, and what if I called the police on some kids who were just playing around and they ended up shooting someone?
It takes longer to lay it out here than it did to flip through it mentally, but I decided the only ethical course was to knock on the door myself. As an older white woman I have a bit more social license to be a meddler than I did when I was younger, so I'm unlikely to be physically attacked, and I'm not going to shoot anyone because I have no gun, so that just seemed safest all around. And if it looked like someone in there needed the police I could always call once I knew that.
I walked up to the door nerving myself up. The door had a window in it, also with blinds. I knocked on the door, beside the window.
A half-naked young white man (I could only see his chest; that is all I can speak to) lifted the blinds to see who was knocking, got an instant appalled look, and darted away, leaving the blinds swinging. A young white woman (clothed) seized the swinging blind and lifted it to look. I smiled at her in an embarrassed way and lifted both hands palm up in a "well, what could I do?" shrug, that had a bit of "explain this to me please" in it, I think, because she opened the door just enough to slip out and stand in front of it, screening what sounded like some hasty rummaging inside.
I said "I'm sorry, I thought I heard a scream. Is everyone alright in there?" I could hear voices inside, but couldn't make out the words, though the tone sounded more surprised and embarrassed than anything else.
The young woman said "Oh it's fine; a moth got in and my friend is scared to death of bugs" or something like that. She looked a bit embarrassed, but not frightened or angry. At this point the young man, now in a tee shirt, came back into my line of view, looking embarrassed but not like he was coming down from some angry fit.
I said "Okay, that's fine, as long as nobody is getting hurt." Several assurances everything was fine, and no sound of someone crying or being restrained, no sign of blood or bruises on the visible two so I apologized and walked away.
I guess part of watching is going to be being more of a meddlesome busybody with her nose in everyone's business but I can't think of any other way to help keep people safe in Trumpland. People don't generally die of embarrassment and I suppose I won't either.

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Today’s post will be up tomorrow, Friday, due to massive writer’s block. In the meantime, here’s the song from the Hamilton Mixtape I’ve been obsessed with this month, “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)”:

Read the rest of this entry » )

cover art for Nevertheless, She Persisted; ed. Mindy KlaskyYesterday saw the release of Nevertheless, She Persisted. There are many things with that title these days, but this one is mine — well, mine and that of eighteen other authors from Book View Cafe. It is, as you might expect, a collection themed around female persistence in the face of adversity. If you feel like you need that sort of encouragement right now, or you know someone who might, or you want to support the general idea, or you just think that sounds like something you would like to read, you can get the ebook directly from Book View Cafe, or from Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, or Amazon UK; if you want a print edition, those are available too, from Amazon US or UK.

My contribution to the anthology is “Daughter of Necessity”, which is one of the stories I’m proudest of having written. It was inspired by an essay of Diana Wynne Jones’, and of course she herself is the woman whose work inspired me to become a writer in the first place.

It’s been six months since Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the floor of the Senate. Keep on speaking out. Persist. We will stand strong.

    Table of Contents
  • “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan
  • “Sisters” by Leah Cutter
  • “Unmasking the Ancient Light” by Deborah J. Ross
  • “Alea Iacta Est” by Marissa Doyle
  • “How Best to Serve” from A Call to Arms by P.G. Nagle
  • “After Eden” by Gillian Polack
  • “Reset” by Sara Stamey
  • “A Very, Wary Christmas” by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
  • “Making Love” by Brenda Clough
  • “Den of Iniquity” by Irene Radford
  • “Digger Lady” by Amy Sterling Casil
  • “Tumbling Blocks” by Mindy Klasky
  • “The Purge” by Jennifer Stevenson
  • “If It Ain’t Broke” by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
  • “Chatauqua” by Nancy Jane Moore
  • “Bearing Shadows” by Dave Smeds
  • “In Search of Laria” by Doranna Durgin
  • “Tax Season” by Judith Tarr
  • “Little Faces” by Vonda N. McIntyre

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
([personal profile] yhlee posting in [community profile] ebooks Aug. 8th, 2017 09:30 pm)
I was wondering what folks would recommend as a solution for reading tabletop RPG and other PDFs? I used to do this on a Kindle DX, but sometimes the graphics-heavy ones would cause it go slow, and then my DX broke, and I don't think they make new ones anymore so I don't trust them? I have a Kindle Paperwhite, but the screen size is a no-go because they typically make some full-sized (8.5"x11" or thereabouts). And ideally I'd like to be able to just load them from my desktop using a USB cable. I have an older iPad, but it doesn't have the USB thing and it's no good to me because my husband and daughter steal it to play games. XD Help?
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
([personal profile] ceciliatan Aug. 8th, 2017 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The stadium we were playing in Bogota was immense. It took my breath away it was so immense. And that was when it was empty. What was it going to be like full?

Well, okay, three-quarters full, since they didn’t sell tickets for the area behind the stage or alongside. But the general admission to the main field alone was probably still more people than we had typically played to in most shows in our lives.

That shouldn’t have intimidated me.

Read the rest of this entry » )
jducoeur: (Default)
([personal profile] jducoeur Aug. 7th, 2017 01:15 pm)

Just finished this interesting article from Yonaton Zunger, which tries to break down the major groupings in American politics, in the context of the rifts we see in the Democratic Party. It's not a bad analysis, and much of it is correct, but I'm particularly struck by the way he lumps most people who don't belong to one of his six major activist groupings into the "Comfortable Middle".

I'm honestly unsure whether he intends that term to be pejorative or not, but he is explicit that:

Unlike the other groups, this group’s most salient feature is that politics is not at the center of their lives.

I see this a lot, and I confess, it gets under my skin, because of the implication that being moderate means being politically passive. And that is bullshit.

I've always had some difficulty summing up my political leanings, but I've gradually come to some variation of "Classical Liberal" (by the European definition of that word, not the American). Or simply "Economist reader".

The term often used in political writing is "Technocrat", although I dislike the connotations there: the word has a flavor of being cold and unempathetic, which misses the point almost completely. My viewpoint is passionate about both social and economic justice -- but on the large scale, recognizing the massive inequities around the world, not just the ones at home.

The "technocrat" term is correct in that it's a viewpoint that is focused on what works, empirically, without the BS economic religions that both the left and right are prone to. It is a passionately globalist viewpoint -- again, because the world works better all around when countries are working together and trading together, not retreating into little nationalist fortresses. But that doesn't imply the sort of ruthlessly (and short-sightedly) Darwinian approach of the Corporatists, mind -- open trading must be paired with deep investment in trade adjustment, education and retraining, something the right wing tries desperately to ignore.

Most importantly, there is nothing passive about it: it's a viewpoint that demands active thought and engagement, understanding that reality is complicated and that overly simplistic solutions will usually backfire, often tragically.

Really, I'm increasingly fond of the term "Radical Moderate". For all that it sounds like a contradiction in terms, it's exactly right, recognizing that the middle ground isn't just a default stance, it's a position to be argued for with every bit of fire and passion one has. And it doesn't mean fuzzy-headed muddle: it just recognizes that the extremes are usually wrong, and that the best position is weighing and balancing the concerns.

Not that either American political party has any damned interest in advocating that viewpoint nowadays. I'm genuinely tempted to see whether the American wing of En Marche! has been created yet...

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