Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Pleasing Stroll Through Asia Minor

I'm off to Turkey for three weeks.
I will probably not be posting during that time, but that shouldn't stop any of you from praising me in other online venues.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Banana Republic

The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary.

Today's required reading is "The Quiet Coup" by Samon Johnson, the former chief economist of the IMF. Through long experience in dealing with the financial crises of emerging-economy regimes, he's had a lot of experience in dealing with banana republics.

Which, in his estimation, is what the United States has now become. Our entire political establishment has been captured by Wall Street--- effectively by the worst elements of Wall Street.

Quite frankly, I think that's all pretty well self-evident.

The response so far is perhaps best described as “policy by deal”: when a major financial institution gets into trouble, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve engineer a bailout over the weekend and announce on Monday that everything is fine. In March 2008, Bear Stearns was sold to JP Morgan Chase in what looked to many like a gift to JP Morgan. (Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan’s CEO, sits on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which, along with the Treasury Department, brokered the deal.) In September, we saw the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America, the first bailout of AIG, and the takeover and immediate sale of Washington Mutual to JP Morgan—all of which were brokered by the government. In October, nine large banks were recapitalized on the same day behind closed doors in Washington. This, in turn, was followed by additional bailouts for Citigroup, AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup (again), and AIG (again).
Some of these deals may have been reasonable responses to the immediate situation.

But it was never clear (and still isn’t) what combination of interests was being served, and how. Treasury and the Fed did not act according to any publicly articulated principles, but just worked out a transaction and claimed it was the best that could be done under the circumstances. This was late-night, backroom dealing, pure and simple.

Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions, or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. In September 2008, Henry Paulson asked Congress for $700 billion to buy toxic assets from banks, with no strings attached and no judicial review of his purchase decisions. Many observers suspected that the purpose was to overpay for those assets and thereby take the problem off the banks’ hands—indeed, that is the only way that buying toxic assets would have helped anything. Perhaps because there was no way to make such a blatant subsidy politically acceptable, that plan was shelved.

Instead, the money was used to recapitalize banks, buying shares in them on terms that were grossly favorable to the banks themselves. As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand. The first AIG bailout, which was on relatively good terms for the taxpayer, was supplemented by three further bailouts whose terms were more AIG-friendly. The second Citigroup bailout and the Bank of America bailout included complex asset guarantees that provided the banks with insurance at below-market rates. The third Citigroup bailout, in late February, converted government-owned preferred stock to common stock at a price significantly higher than the market price—a subsidy that probably even most Wall Street Journal readers would miss on first reading. And the convertible preferred shares that the Treasury will buy under the new Financial Stability Plan give the conversion option (and thus the upside) to the banks, not the government.

This latest plan—which is likely to provide cheap loans to hedge funds and others so that they can buy distressed bank assets at relatively high prices—has been heavily influenced by the financial sector, and Treasury has made no secret of that. As Neel Kashkari, a senior Treasury official under both Henry Paulson and Tim Geithner (and a Goldman alum) told Congress in March, “We had received inbound unsolicited proposals from people in the private sector saying, ‘We have capital on the sidelines; we want to go after [distressed bank] assets.’” And the plan lets them do just that: “By marrying government capital—taxpayer capital—with private-sector capital and providing financing, you can enable those investors to then go after those assets at a price that makes sense for the investors and at a price that makes sense for the banks.” Kashkari didn’t mention anything about what makes sense for the third group involved: the taxpayers.

Even leaving aside fairness to taxpayers, the government’s velvet-glove approach with the banks is deeply troubling, for one simple reason: it is inadequate to change the behavior of a financial sector accustomed to doing business on its own terms, at a time when that behavior must change . . .

Depressing but necessary reading.

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No Mimes? Promise?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Public-Spirited Pigs

George Orwell's Animal Farm was rejected by Faber & Faber before being published a years later by another publisher.

The editor who wrote the rejection was TS Eliot.

"Eliot wrote: “After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm – in fact there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.”"

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Amoebas Threaten Texas!

A giant colony of genetically identical amoebas is oozing through Texas!

Scientists say the discovery is much more than a mere curiosity, because the colony consists of what are known as social amoebas. Only an apparent oxymoron, social amoebas are able to gather in organized groups and behave cooperatively, some even committing suicide to help fellow amoebas reproduce. The discovery of such a huge colony of genetically identical amoebas provides insight into how such cooperation and sociality might have evolved and may help to explain why microbes are being found to show social behaviors more often than was expected.

Better wear your galoshes.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reviews Too Late: the IRS Edition

At long last I have brought my taxes under control, and will deliver them to the accountant tomorrow.

As I've mentioned in the past, I tend to watch action films when I'm absorbed in digging through old envelopes full of receipts. Action films don't require a lot of my attention, except in the parts where things get blowed up, and sometimes not even then.

For some reason I watched things other than action films this time. For the most part, gazing at the screen over illegible scrawls on receipts did not help either the movie, or my mood.

Painkiller Jane. This series was from the SciFi Network, back when it was the SciFi Network and not the hideously pretentious, dumbass thing it is now. Being from SciFi was Strike One, since SciFi has proved over the decades completely resistant to any understanding what science fiction is actually about.

Strike Two was the concept. Strike Three was, or were, the stories.

Kristanna Loken, who was the robot that wasn't Arnold in Termnator III, plays a character who belongs to a grungy squad of secret commandos dedicated to eradicating the menace of "neuros," defined as "people who can do things with their minds." (Doing things with their minds is clearly a concept alien to anyone connected with this series.)

On the plus side the actors were fine, the production values pretty good, and Ms. Loken proved very eyeball-worthy. (She can act, too.)

"I've got to stop watching this crud," I would say to myself, as yet another dreadful episode unrolled.

"But then I couldn't watch Kristanna Loken!" another part of my mind would whine, and I would try to endure yet another hour of hopeless dreck while my lizard brain feasted on Loken's perfect complexion.

Not even Ms. Loken, however, could stop me from abandoning the series halfway through. I'll look forward to eyeballing her in other venues.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno: Since it's from Kevin Smith, it's deeply vulgar, and features language that would get you thrown out of most pool halls. I thought it was funny as hell. Be sure to watch the credits all the way through because There Are Surprises.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: I checked this one out to see the performance that won Penelope Cruz the Oscar, but could only take about twenty minutes before I went to the garage to get a power drill in order to bore out my eyeballs. (And I like Woody Allen movies, usually.) It features a narrator who tells you everything the actors are feeling, which saves the players the trouble of acting.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: I wasn't that wild about even the first Indiana Jones movie, so you can only imagine how I felt about this special-effects-driven retread. If you didn't love the Star Wars prequels, stay away.

The Golden Compass: When this movie was first released I kept hearing how it wasn't very good, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover this an excellent attempt to translate Northern Lights into film. There are some gaps which will obviously be filled in the Director's Edition, and the movie clumsily rearranges some of the final scenes of the novel (including moving the final scene of the book to the next, hypothetical, movie in the series), but the production values are great, the special effects spiffing, and Dakota Blue Richards is absolutely great as Lyra. (It obviously helps child actresses to be named "Dakota.") Plus Nicole Kidman does a great job of turning Mrs. Coulter into a blonde, the Finnish witches are terrific (even if they mispronounce their own names), it's got every great English actor from Christopher Lee on down, and it's even got James Bond. What more do you want?

(As an aside, I was particularly amused that the DVD's copyright warning came not from the FBI, but from the Magisterium.)


The Glory Keeps On Accruin'

I've returned from my trip out of town to discover that even more praise for my book has been distributed throughout the web! (Such good taste you people have!)
Over at BookGeeks, Sam opines: "But this is an important book - perhaps the point at which ARGs become mainstream . . . "
Fantasy Book Critic sez: “This Is Not A Game” is the first Walter Jon Williams novel that I’ve read, and it lives up to all of the hype and praise surrounding the author. Masterfully written and executed, scarily relevant, and massively entertaining, “This Is Not A Game” is a gem of a novel and should be on everyone’s reading list…"
Buy copies for yourselves! And then for all your friends!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

To A Cold Climate

I'm leaving town for a few days--- not, alas, on a signing tour or anything.

I don't know how much I'll be able to check online, so play nice while I'm gone.

Special Cool TINAG Web Page!

Orbit has created a special web page just for This Is Not a Game. There are descriptions of the book, a thrilling excerpt, and a special surprise Not a Game, which I won't spoil by giving away here.

Elsewhere in cyberspace, Sci Fi Wire has reviewed TINAG:

"Dagmar Shaw is our main protagonist in this novel, which combines droll satire, cyber-fu knowingness, ingenious extrapolation, social commentary and techno-thriller suspense. A washed-up fantasy writer, Dagmar designs ARGs--Alternate Reality Games--at the behest of her billionaire boss, Charlie Ruff. But the latest ARG, The Long Night of Brianna Hall, is manifesting some strange real-world repercussions. When people around Dagmar start dying, she realizes that more is at stake than just a paycheck derived through fantasy role-playing.

"Williams' dialogue is razor-sharp, his plotting breakneck, his eye for trends keen and his empathy with his characters deep. He allots equal time to the emotional development of Dagmar and the book's conceptual brain candy. She emerges from this tale changed, but with her core values reinforced. A reluctant hero for our era, she proves that wit and geekdom trump brute force and greed . . . "

There you have it! Geekdom triumphs! Let the celebrations begin!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's Here!

In the immortal words of William Mulholland: "There it is. Take it."
(Thanks to Ralf for pointing this out.)


Monday, March 16, 2009

Start the Drinking Early

Happy St. Urho's Day, everybody!
I hope you're all wearing the Green and Purple.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Financial News

For those who still have questions about the Madoff scandal, enlightenment may be found courtesy of those lovable characters on Sesame Street.

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Lex Luthor asks the government for a bailout.

And, as a followup to the classic Jon Stewart evisceration of Rick Santelli and CNBC, we have the utter cornholing of Jim Cramer Part I, Part II, and Part III. (Cramer, to his credit, was the only CNBC reporter who dared to show up.)

Still, like every undergraduate fan of the Daily Show, I keep having to ask why it has to be Jon Stewart (along with muppets) who manage the best reporting?

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Toy Time

I have replaced the sad, smashed Altima with a new toy, a brand-new Eclipse GS.
(I just keep buying silver sporty cars. Can't help myself.)
The 2.4 liter engine will keep this little honey zipping along the roads in style. It's a lot less expensive than the Altima, will get better mileage, and will probably be more fun to drive.

Not that this makes up for being in a wreck or having been bounced around inside my own vehicle, but it does give that highly satisfying growl as I shift up through the gears, and that is a pleasing thing.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Playing With the Prius

While I've been sorting out my car situation, I've been renting a Prius. I didn't ask for one, but Hertz was short on cars that day and gave it to me anyway.

I considered a hybrid when I was looking for a car last year, but I decided against it. I live far out in the country, and almost all my driving is on the highway. Most of the gas-saving benefits of the hybrid occur during stop-and-go city driving, and I don't do so much of that. Though if we move back to the city, we'll definitely get a hybrid or electric.

For an mostly well-designed car, the Prius has a very clunky interface. It took me the longest time, cursing and sweating in the Hertz parking lot, to figure out just how to get it into gear--- and it only has two gears, forward and reverse. (Turns out you have to have your foot on the brake whenever you shift. This is not an intuitive thing with me--- I'm used to pressing a clutch instead, and with the other foot.)

A few of my other expectations required adjustment. As I accelerated, I kept expecting it to shift, and of course it doesn't do that. You can keep accelerating forever without pause, so far as the Prius is concerned, right up to the limits of the machinery. (I don't find this a bad thing.)

Certain of the parts seemed cheaply made. The CD player didn't work. The arrangement of the trunk area didn't seem well thought out, and the parts seemed cheap to me.

It didn't seem possible to get the fan to blow outside air without actually turning on the AC. Eventually I just opened a window. Why this silly design feature?

But the actual driving was a lot more fun than I anticipated. The Prius is quicker off the mark than I would have expected, quite decent acceleration really. It zipped up to 80mph without a hesitation or a murmur of complaint. The ride was pleasing, and the driver sits up high to get a good view.

And the real fun was the TV display that gives you a constant readout of your mileage. Even on the highway, where the car is less efficient, I was doing over 40mpg. In town was better.

And when you're going downhill, or braking, you can watch your fuel efficiency hit the 100mpg mark, which is as high as the display goes.

I was liking this car, and I didn't really expect to.

Though I'm not actually going to buy one. Yet.


Dear Mr. Obama . . .

Nationalize the freakin' bad banks already!

You can always sell them later.

It's the uncertainty that's killing the markets.

What's the problem--- afraid the Republicans will call you a socialist, or something?


Re-Reading Hardwired

I'm quoting here from an email I sent to highly intelligent reader Jason Thomas, about re-reading my own book for the first time in twenty-odd years, this when I had to correct the Night Shade edition.

It occurred to me that the things the reader was supposed to find shocking, back when I wrote the book in 1983/84, are now so commonplace as to be part of the background hum. Unending multiplatform assaults encouraging people to heedless consumerism? Check. Drugs widely advertised, including TV? Check. Governments in thrall to multinational corporations? Check. Balkanization of the former Soviet bloc? Check. Worldwide climate change? Check. Rising ocean levels? Check. Widening gap between rich and poor? Check. Entire populations slavishly devoted to celebrity and fashion? Check. Vast unregulated manipulation of securities market by unscrupulous insiders? Check. State-controlled military being replaced by mercenary forces? Check. Pharmaceutical companies making vast fortunes off human misery? Check.

I'm sure folks here will note others.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a good prophet.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Happy Internets Praises!

entertheoctopus has reviewed This Is Not a Game.

. . . This is a novel that’s truly of the internet age; most of the behind-the-scenes action happening in the pages would have been inconceivable only a decade ago. However, that doesn’t mean that readers have to be familiar with the tech to appreciate the story. This is Not a Game is at its heart a good suspense novel, a technothriller for the Facebook generation that will keep readers engaged until its final pages. Highly recommended.

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Requiescat in Pace

The insurance company has written off my car. Alas.
I was really getting quite fond of it.
Now I have to go out and find a new one. And me still creaking when I walk.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Giveaway! Free Me!

Fantasy Book Critic is giving away free copies of This Is Not a Game!
Three copies of the British edition, and three copies of the US, will be given to readers on their respective continents.
You are required to do nothing more than submit your name and address.

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Unseen Zelazny

NESFA Press has very kindly sent along the Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Vols. I and II (of a projected six).

There are many stories in here that have never been collected before. And an introduction by me, but never mind.

I anticipate nothing but glorious reading pleasure for many days to come.

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Atlas Shrugged, Part Deux

Non-Imaginary Conversation

So here's the conversation I had earlier today:

The scene: a wrecking yard. Damaged vehicles lined up in rows. A mobile home for an office. A long line of Hispanic youth waiting to get their cars, along with patient, pain-wracked me. (I had forgotten to take my ibuprofen before running to Albuquerque for errands.)

"My wrecked car was brought in here on Saturday. The insurance guy is supposed to see it today to decide where it's going next, but I just want to get in and take my personal stuff from the car."

"Do you have your license and registration?"

"I have my license. But when I called you just now, you didn't tell me I needed registration."

"We can't let you see your car without proof of ownership."

[looks through wallet]

"Will proof in insurance do?"

"No, I need the registration."

"Why didn't you tell me I needed the registration when I called and asked for directions?"

"You didn't say why you were coming."

"I told you I had a car in your lot and asked for directions. Why did you think I was coming?"

"I need to see your registration."

I got so angry on the way home that I pulled a muscle in my back. I didn't even have to move. It was just from the freaking anger.

I got home and took some oxycodone I'd been prescribed for my operation back in January, and which I didn't need then. Guess I need it now.

I am quite mellow now. I float on waves of joy. Anger is in some whole other existence.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Black Belt of the Year!

Sometimes it pays just to show up.


Facing Out of the Wind

My Saturday was memorable in any number of ways.

There was a signing in Albuquerque with half the writers in New Mexico (and one from Colorado), so I thought I'd drop by and say hi. After which I was scheduled to spend the evening at the American Kenpo Karate Academy award banquet.

I never did make it to the signing. I was tooling north up I-25, just driving the speed limit, when I noticed some debris ahead of me on the highway. I managed to avoid the debris, and then promptly ran into someone else's car. Which had already run into a third person's car.

Much wreckage ensued.

The incident began when someone--- a really stupid, careless someone--- dropped a whole barbecue grill onto the Interstate, presumably from the back of their truck. A lady in a white Toyota hit the barbecue grill, which eventually stopped her dead. She was then hit from behind by a man in a gold 1970s Lincoln.

I was coming up behind and saw the debris from the accident scattered over the road. I couldn't change lanes because there were other vehicles to my left and right, so I had to drive delicately around the debris, which I did.

At this point I looked up to see the rear deck of a gold Lincoln racing toward me. The two cars ahead of me had stopped dead right in the middle of the road.

You know how they say that, in moments of crisis, time slows down to a crawl? They lie. What happened next happened with astounding speed.

I slammed on the brakes. Nissan's antilock brakes worked perfectly--- there was no screeching, no smoking tires, and the Altima swerved neither left nor right. I had enough time to hope that the car ahead of me was going to speed up, and to brace my arms on the steering wheel.

The crash was freaking enormous. I rocketed into the Lincoln with a preposterous amount of force, the Lincoln plowed ahead into the Toyota, and everything in my car flew forward at maybe fifty miles per hour till it hit something and bounced. Then we all sailed along for a while before slowing down.

That barbecue grille was toast.

When the car stopped I was certain someone was going to hit me from behind and start the whole chain reaction all over again, but no one did. I adjusted the rear-view mirror to give me warning if anyone was bearing down on me, but no one was.

I was in a fair amount of pain, having been punched in the chest by the air bag. The first thing I knew that the air bag had deployed was when I saw the cloud of talc (or whatever) that had been packed with the air bag floating in the air in front of me.

I tried to open the door to see if the guy in the Lincoln was okay, but the door wouldn't open. I tried the passenger-side door, and that was jammed, too.

I was trapped in my car. Through the shattered windscreen I could see the Altima's hood bent in half in front of me.

I did the sensible thing and called 911 to report the crash. It was the first they'd heard of it. I then called Kathy, but Kathy was at a symphony concert and had turned off her phone. I then called Mr. Davis at the karate school to say that I was probably going to miss the banquet. Then I called my insurance company and filed my claim.

By and by the police turned up, and parked behind me with flashers on. I told the cop I was okay and he should check the driver ahead of me. (The driver ahead of me was lying down in his car, which I didn't think was a good sign.) I couldn't see the driver of the Toyota behind her crumpled-up trunk lid.

When the cop stopped by again, I asked if he could get my door open, which he did with a certain amount of effort. I didn't particularly want to walk around at this point, but I did want the option of abandoning my car in case it decided to, I dunno, explode or something.

I kept trying to call Kathy. Kathy's phone remained turned off. I remembered that a lot of my friends were at the signing, so I started calling them. I got ahold of Daniel Abraham, who told Pat Rogers, who called me and offered me a ride home. I told her to hang on until I was told to leave.

Eventually more police and ambulances turned up. I gave my ID and a statement, and declined a ride to the hospital. (I really didn't want to stay in the emergency room for hours and hours on a Saturday night, waiting for a chest x-ray, when I knew perfectly well that nothing was broken.)

My injuries, by the by, consist of the sore sternum, a bruise on the right knee, a odd little bruise on my left lower abdomen (presumably from the seat belt), and two weird little cuts on my forehead, I imagine from flying debris.

The guy in the Lincoln was carried away on a board.

When I got restless and got out of the car, I found out that it was really cold and windy out. I saw that the front of my car was completely wrecked, with the radiator shoved back against the motor. I don't know what shape the motor was in, it was completely covered with debris. The engine compartment had been designed as a crumple zone, and it had crumpled like it was spoze to.

Compare the Lincoln, a huge steel monstrosity from the glory days of Detroit. It lost a chrome strip, and seemed otherwise unharmed, and a cop was able to drive it away from the scene.

By this time it had been maybe 90 minutes since the accident, and I was in dire need of a pee. I went to one of the parameds and asked him if there was a proper procedure for urinating in the middle of an accident zone.

"Face out of the wind," he told me.

They eventually got a hospital-type urinal, and I retired to my car to make use of it. My bladder was so full that I was afraid of causing it to overflow, but the quantity fell a little short of the rim.

For some reason the parameds didn't want my urine sample, so I quietly emptied the device onto the pavement under my car. I stayed upwind.

Eventually a tow truck arrived, and the Toyota and my car were both carried away.

I suspect the insurance company will total my car, but that will wait till the inspection on Monday.

A cop drove me to the parking lot of a nearby bakery, where Pat was able to pick me up. It turned out she had nothing to do that evening, so I offered her a seat at the karate school banquet. Later Kathy got in touch and joined us.

And there my luck turned, and good things began to happen.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Crazed Victorian Explorer Finds Lost Civilization in Amazon

In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett ventured into the Amazon, vowing to make one of the most important archeological discoveries in history. He was searching for an ancient civilization, which he had named, simply, the City of Z . . .

Fawcett had warned that no one should follow in his wake due to the danger, but scores of scientists, explorers, and adventurers plunged into the wilderness, determined to recover the Fawcett party, alive or dead, and to return with proof of Z. In February 1955, the New York Times claimed that Fawcett's disappearance had set off more searches "than those launched through the centuries to find the fabulous El Dorado." Some were wiped out by starvation and disease, or retreated in despair; others were murdered by tribesmen firing arrows dipped in poison. Then there were those adventurers who had gone to find Fawcett and, like him, simply disappeared in the forests that travelers had long ago christened the "green hell."

. . . Yet in recent years archeologists have begun to find evidence of what Fawcett had always claimed: ancient ruins buried deep in the Amazon, in places ranging from the Bolivian flood plains to the Brazilian forests. These ruins include enormous man-made earth mounds, plazas, geometrically aligned causeways, bridges, elaborately engineered canal systems, and even an apparent astronomical observatory tower made of huge granite rocks that has been dubbed "the Stonehenge of the Amazon."

Much more here.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

I Am Reviewed

This Is Not a Game has scored a couple good reviews!
Gary Wolfe at Locus sez that "This Is Not a Game begins at a full run, with superstar ARG developer Dagmar Shaw trapped in a hotel in Jakarta while the city is under a violent seige due to the collapsing economy . . .
" . . . the plot involves murder, corporate espionage, revenge, and [spoiler deleted] . . . Williams, from his own experience, knows how these games work and how the participants react, and the result is that This Is Not a Game succeeds only as a suspense novel, but as an incisive portrait of a subculture for whom reality is increasingly contingent, and increasingly mediated."
And meanwhile, Rob over at Bookspotcentral sez, "I guess you could say this novel is well timed. It depicts a number of financial disasters taking place in various places in the world. One of its messages I suppose, is that money is an idea. Or to put in in Magritte’s terms, look at a dollar and you see a symbol of wealth, not wealth itself. Somehow I doubt this will cheer up the bankers who managed to help their business to the brink of ruin . . .
"Throughout the novel Williams makes the reader very aware that what is happening on the surface may not be what is going on at all . . . Especially later in the book this creates slightly paranoid atmosphere that reflects the state of mind of the main character. As Dagmar discovers layer upon layer of seemingly unrelated events that are somehow related the game and reality become increasingly hard to separate . . .
"If you enjoy a good (techno) thriller this book is as good as it gets. Events frequently outpace the main character keep her, and to an extend the reader, off balance. Williams captures the paranoia, desperations and frustration of the main character very well, without making her helpless. Dagmar is used to being in control of the game, when she eventually cuts the strings that move her the result in interesting, unexpected even . . . "

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What? What Day is it Already?

Wow. It's been almost a week since I posted anything here.

A decent regard for the opinions of mankind requires me to make an explanation of why I've been silent for so long.

Partly, I was having fun. I got invited to no less than three meals/parties/whatever over the weekend. It ate up my blogging time, and I'm not sorry.

I'm especially not sorry because the rest of my life is beset by an endless, complex set of distractions--- each of them, in essence, unique, and thus requiring a disproportionate amount of my time. I've had to correct erroneous biographical information in Contemporary Authors, which required a lot of time spent online looking up fiddly little details, like exactly what year "Lethe" was nominated for a Nebula Award. (I've already forgotten the answer.) I've had to make a whole series of trips to Albuquerque in order to deal with one thing or another. I'm having a new fence installed on our property.

And I'm doing our taxes. Actually I'm not "doing" them, I'm just getting all the relevant documents ready for the accountant. Which is a bigger order than usual, because I was so busy and harassed last year that I didn't keep my records organized. If I was feeling efficient on that day, I'd put the receipts in the appropriate envelope and label it. If I wasn't, I chucked the receipts in the wire basket marked "taxes," perhaps with a cryptic note.

This isn't an insoluble problem, it's just a time-consuming one. I generate a lot of receipts in a given year, and now I'm going through them one by one.

And so my time is being consumed, largely by stuff that isn't any fun. Which is why I needed those get-togethers over the weekend.

What I really need is to hit the "reset" button. Which I am doing next month, because I'm going back to Turkey! For three weeks!

And it's even tax-deductible (gotta keep those receipts), because the new book is set in Turkey, and I'll be doing mega-research the whole time I'm there.

I won't be having fun at all on this trip. Not in Istanbul, not in Ankara, not on the shores of the Aegean.

Work, work, work. That's my motto.