Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's a particularly French flavor of boredom.

My inspiration has been severely inadequate this past month. I desperately hope this has gone largely unnoticed, but I don't wanna kid myself. I've been trying to make myself keep writing, but everything I write just looks like shit to me.

So: new plan! Since I am by nature a compulsive writer, and typically can't not write, I am going to take my best friend's suggestion and try to recharge my creativity batteries - I shall accomplish this by not writing anything at all for an entire week. I don't know if I can go that long without saying something about something. I mean, I have the internet, and the State of the Union Address is tonight. There will be no shortage of things to write about! But seven days from today, I should be chomping at the bit to just get my opinion out there, rather than getting depressed over my complete inability to articulate an idea in a persuasive or interesting manner.

Wish me luck!


Ebonmuse said...

Good luck!

I tend to find that when I'm worn out from blogging, the best way to recover is to send my mind in a different direction - reading more fiction, for example. It might be worth a try for you.

John Morales said...

I wish you luck.

Steve Bowen said...

Hey! enjoy the break and I hope you emerge refreshed. I've just finished The Quantum Mechanic and loved it, loved it, loved it! Great pace, loaded with irony and should be on the philosophy 101 reading list at every school.'kin genius!

D said...

Thanks for the well-wishing, gentlemen! Ebonmuse, thanks for the suggestion, I think I'll take this opportunity to finish up Accelerando. Steve, thank you for the vote of confidence, I'm glad you liked my story!

Ebonmuse said...

I read Accelerando and didn't really care for it, but you've read my review of TQM, so you know my thoughts on transhumanist fiction. ;)

Have you read A Fire Upon the Deep?

D said...

Zach L got me to read both A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, I thought they were fantastic. I'm having trouble with Accelerando because it seems to be mostly event/plot driven; the characters are pretty solid and flat ("so far," I should say - I'm only 100 pages in, and there's 300 more pages for this to change). But I really like Macx's outlook, so that's why I keep reading it.

Have you read The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect? It's free online, but I stopped liking it about the same time I stopped liking The Matrix, and for pretty much the same reasons. Well, it's more complex than that, but it's a long story. What about Orson Scott Card's Ender quartet?

Ebonmuse said...

Personally, I thought the earlier parts of Accelerando were stronger than the later parts, so take that for what it's worth.

A Fire Upon the Deep was alright - I loved the "galactic Usenet" concept - though it didn't enthrall me sufficiently to motivate me to check out the sequel. I haven't read those other two you mentioned, although I've been trying to fill in the gaps in my canon of classic sci-fi and the Ender books are definitely on my list. (Knowing what I know about Orson Scott Card's bigotry, I'll probably have to hold my nose, but regardless.)

One author I have been reading a lot of lately, and whom I like a lot, is Ursula K. LeGuin. The Lathe of Heaven was very good; The Left Hand of Darkness was outstanding.

D said...

Yeah, I'm really liking the whole "working towards a post-scarcity civilization" thing in Accelerando, and the idea of self-aware lobster-based AI intrigues me, but imagination and idealism can only carry a narrative so far. Hmm.

Speaking of imagination, the interesting parts of Vinge's books (to me, anyway) were the non-hominid intelligences he came up with. The whole "zones of thought" thing struck me as stupid, but I liked the psychology he built for the wolf-like creatures and the idea of god-like AIs being basically giant pranks (and the spiders in the other one). The known net was also cool, considering that it predated the internet.

I was fucking surprised to find out that Card's a Mormon (his bigotry was less surprising in that light). Then again, I guess they're good at compartmentalizing things. But I really like the concept of Humanist priests he lays out in Speaker for the Dead, and I also like the world-building he does in Children of the Mind (by my understanding, the 2nd and 4th books were the ones he really wanted to write, but he ended up writing the 1st and 3rd ones as groundwork for them). It gets a little bit deus ex machina at the end, but at least it makes good logical sense. Also, he does this great bit with culture and insanity, but I don't want to spoil it.

Thanks for the LeGuin suggestion, I'll have to check her out!

Anonymous said...

I dunno if it'll spark your interest, but as long as we're piling on fiction recs, Octavia Butler wrote some pretty interesting (and yeah I think badass) feminist sci-fi. I've read Dawn, the first of the Lilith trilogy, and I've been meaning to read Parable of the Sower. I'll bring over Dawn if you want.

Couldn't get past Ender's Game myself, having read a particularly nasty editorial of Card's shortly after. Reading how thoroughly brainwashed he is sort of dulls the enthusiasm.


Jack Phillips said...

I also heavily endorse Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler (D., I think I've mentioned the latter to you before). Lilith's Brood and Seed to Harvest by Butler are especially good tales of genetics/eugenics, domination, and our dealings with "the other". Both authors deal with gender in deliberate and engaging ways.

On the subject of good sci-fi written by women, I'd also recommend The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It's about Jesuits who make first contact with an alien civilization and how we misinterpret God's will and what he wants might be brutal for us. It's written by a sociologist and former atheist (I think she's Jewish now). Her details of the alien civilization are interesting: instead of the intelligent species on the planet being evolved from omnivores they're evolved from herbivores and the carnivores who eat them. Each have a religion that acknowledges the necessity of their relationship, and hideously tries to explain this as moral and rational choice.

D said...

Yeah, I'd definitely read a book if you put it in my hand, M. I could use something to read on the bus besides the Eldredge tripe that JD gave me.

And thanks for the suggestions, Jack! The Sparrow sounds really interesting, I wanna see where she goes with that.

(Oi, so much to read, so little time! I want to live three thousand years, but then I'm just going to accumulate an even longer reading list!)

Anonymous said...

...aaaany book?
Fine, Story of O it is.

D said...

Huh, interesting. I mean, I knew about the Marquis de Sade and Nabakov's Lolita when I was in grammar school, but I never knew about The Story of O - given my familiarity with, I feel like such an ignorant slut right now.

Anyway, that said, I find straight-up masochism (as well as sadism, for that matter) to be rather uninteresting, being a switch as I am. I mean, both are interesting to me, but someone who is only interested in doing one or the other simply bores the shit outta me.

Anonymous said...

Oh, ditto, D, ditto. It's something I've questioned for a while, because /sometimes/ it takes time to figure that sort of shit out, especially when it becomes something you try not to think about altogether.

I just happen to have Story of O for a Women in Literature class. You know, is it troubling that it was written by a woman, what are the limits if any, normatively, on sexual desire, blah blah blah blah blah. (I actually quite enjoyed the discussion, but I presume it's not so interesting or controversial to some.)

But you're right, as the straight-up continued desire for one side or the other drags on, it becomes less and less palatable.

In any case, I'll try and dig up Dawn for you.