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December 04, 2008


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Killjoy's stories are set in the same world she used in her SteamPunk Magazine stories, so readers of the magazine would be familiar enough with the world to fill in the blanks. However, she should have given a little detail for new readers to have some sense of context.

Her stories were not Victorian at all, and the setting felt like a post-apocalyptic California, with steam technology. Reasonably well-written and likable, which apparently cannot also be said for her erotica.

Yeah, I suspected something like that. The pirate one at least probably would have worked better as an erotic interlude in a larger tale rather than a standalone. I'm not sure anything could rescue her first one for me, though. The Emerson & Adalia tales could also be partially rescued by having more story time to fill out the setting, though that wouldn't save the leads from being cardboard characters.

I can deal with badly written erotica; the problem is that the SteamyPunk label makes these promise something more than sex scenes, and then they don't deliver. And the sex scenes aren't exciting enough to carry me past the irritation over the stories as a whole.

"The word you want is 'drawers'."

Reminds me of the time I was watching a naughty movie with a 'historical' theme and I couldn't get past the WHY IS SHE WEARING A BRA UNDER AN 18TH CENTURY BODICE to appreciate the sex.


Aaarggh! Yes, that's the sort of thing that drives me nuts. Especially since, at least pre-surgically, one of the big pluses for me of a corset or boned bodice was not needing to wear a bra!!! Wearing both together -- talk about the worst of both worlds!

The word you want is 'drawers'.

I always liked "unmentionables".

Yeah, but I have to mention them all the time 'cause I make the outfits! I have half a bureau full of fluffy white Victorian underclothing.

(I almost said I have drawers full of it, but then I got a really bad visual in the context of this conversation and had to rephrase.)

one of the big pluses for me of a corset or boned bodice was not needing to wear a bra!!!

Sooo in agreement here. Corset = hold everything down = bra. It's not like shirts, where you can wear two of them for a valid reason, such as warmth --there is no reason to need to hold things down twice!

I almost said I have drawers full of it, but then I got a really bad visual in the context of this conversation and had to rephrase.

Ahahaha! That is a charmingly silly visual. I approve!

And if anyone would like these five 'zines, I'll be happy to send them along.

I'm still new enough to both erotica and steampunk that I probably would not hate them. Bring 'em along to Arisia or something, I'll take them off your hands. (Moreso because it will be really quite entertaining when one of my vanilla, non-fannish roommates inevitably picks one up and goes "um?")

It's been years since I've written erotica, but these stories really trip the I could do better switch.

*does not ask to read the erotica written by friends, does not ask to see the erotica written by friends, does not ask to see the erotica written by friends...*


Remind me again before Arisia and I'll bring them along. Are you under 21?

(Those two statements are related, but not in the obvious way.)

Anyone who can find my early erotica attempts, which in retrospect were mostly dreadful, is welcome to read them. One or two bits were posted on usenet, mildly hidden under an alias but in some cases at least from an account traceable by anyone who knows me well. (And no, I will not give any further clues.) The bits culminated in me writing a very short erotic vignette about committing suicide. It might be slightly less cringeworthy than the first few efforts. I could do better now, and I even have an erotic alternate-Victorian story that is stored in a place in my head next to my fantasy story and remains equally unwritten. I wonder if I could convert it to steampunk.

Because I am laughing at this, and therefore having to read bits allowed my mom says: "Yes, she's under 21, but she's allowed to have the erotica --only if I can see it as well!"

(If the under 21 thing involves the boozahol, I am not at all against it, but do not want to get you in trouble, and, like a clever girl, do not drink to get drunk, which rather limits my consumption. *coff*)

(My mom didn't dictate that above bit. >.>)

I am probably too lazy to go seeking your erotica, but if I remember sometime when I've been reading long enough to have a slightly better idea of who you actually are I'll probably give the stalking a go.

I, of course, think you should get your unwritten stories out on paper, but it's really a bit hypocritical of me to say so, what with the dozens of half finished story bits prancing around in the back of my head.


No, the under 21 thing involves the Arisia. There is a Plot. You will be informed. It is boozahol-free.

Everyone thinks I should get my unwritten stories on paper. See it continue to not happen. :)

I don't. I think you should just tell them out loud and let someone record it (hey, it worked for Fanthorpe. For certain values of "worked", of course).

So not going to try to stalk Susan at work.

AJ... readers of the magazine would be familiar enough with the world to fill in the blanks

Unless one is a famous writer, it's not a good idea to have a tale's success rely on the reader already knowing the background.


Everyone thinks I should get my unwritten stories on paper.

I am not Everyone, but I agree with her.

See it continue to not happen.


I completely agree, Serge. She really shouldn't have assumed that everyone who was reading her erotica would have read her other work and remembered the setting, or that they wouldn't care and just wanted to get right down to the, er, juicy bits.

If she'd skipped any attempt at setting and just gotten down to the juicy bits they would have worked better. Well, the pirate one would have. The first one was just bound to irritate me because it was such utterly emotionless, disconnected sex. The characters seemed almost as bored as I was.

I have acquired the perfect comment for these situations, courtesy of Tom Stoppard's play Rough Crossing, which I saw last night:

She can write a bit. Unfortunately, she writes a lot.

Is that not a lovely piece of snark?

AJ... In my case, I read the erotica stories first because they were shorter than the magazine. My reaction might have been different if I had already been introduced to the setting of the actual steampunk stories. It might, but I doubt it. For one thing, as Susan pointed out, the sex was emotionless and disconnected.

(By the way, if I remember correctly, Killjoy used some words about female naughty bits in her sex scenes that made me wonder if the author really was a woman. Which words? Ian McKellen once was interviewed by James Lipton on "The Actor's Studio" and he was asked if there is one word he really hates. There was. It's the word that rhymes with 'runt'.)

Susan, that's a great piece of snark!

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the high point of the play for me, and it came near the beginning of the first act. Two bits of unexciting theater in two days, arrggh. I had to go see a third this evening just to balance them out. (Much theatrical discussion coming tomorrow morning when I have a fighting chance of concentrating well enough to proofread.)

That word is supposedly considered more offensive than f**k, which only makes it to #3 on the list of vulgarities. (#2 is mother f**ker.) That seems reasonable to me. I'm certainly less likely to use it for anything other than being deliberately offensive.

I'm also not a fan of that particular word. I don't think I've ever said it out loud, and I have a single instance of it in my book. It seems to fit the character and the situation, but I don't really like it, so I'll probably take it out in a future draft.

It does seem like an odd choice for a woman to use in a descriptive sense, as opposed to dialog... but perhaps she was trying to come across as particularly rough and/or edgy?

(I'm trying to recall if the woman in my writing class who made us read a graphic rape scene *twice* used that word in that scene. she used a lot of pretty strong language throughout her writing, and if she was not really a woman, she did a very good job of fooling us all)

Killjoy uses the word descriptively, which is less obnoxious/hostile than using it as a name to call someone (I suspect its confrontational use is why mother f**ker rates so highly.) It doesn't annoy me as much in that context; it's a vulgarity, but it's almost preferable to some of the poetic locutions romance novelists come up with, which just make me roll my eyes in dismay. Medically correct terminology does not really fit the mood in a sex scene.

Thanks, AJ, Susan... That's the problem with sex scenes. The medically correct terms are too clinical, and the poetic expressions sound too silly. I was wondering about 'runt' because I've usually seen it used in a context that's rather demeaning to women, but apparently quite arousing to men. Not to me, mind you.

Having now read A Man of the Waste online can I just say that Margaret Killjoy has an excellent surname for a writer of erotica*?

As for that word, I've found myself discussing it more often than using it; however I did say this in October:

"Bert, you've described a lot of people as [WORD] but most of them are hardly vaginal at all."

Which was funny, true, and stopped him from swearing quite so loudly in the restaurant.

* It's still rude to make fun of her name, but to do so before reading any of her work would be grossly unfair.

I wouldn't think less of you if vulgarities turned you on, really. The contents of the bookshelf next to my bed do not leave me any room to criticize other people for having politically incorrect buttons.

I was being so restrained by not pointing out how well her name went with my opinion of her NotVeryErotica. Now you've gone and spoiled it.

Sorry [Hangs head in shame and slinks away leaving only a Major Squick excerpt in apology]

17 J__ 18__

Despite my best efforts, bandits have robbed several parties of travellers while I have found no trace of them. I have come up with a ruse to capture them inspired by an acquaintance "Sweet" George S__. While acting as a Political Officer on the North West Frontier he found himself being hunted by a group of Pathans. The Pathan is a great hunter and tracker, and S__ knew that in order to slip past them he would have to take extraordinary measures, in this case adopting the local dress of a woman. He had several close shaves and a number of adventures both fortunate and unfortunate while travelling. He eventually arrived at Peshawar, where the sentry would not believe his story until he lifted his skirts!

My stratagem has been to ask for volunteers to dress as women and move slowly and loudly through the hills. Meanwhile I will take the rest of the detachment and set up an ambush at the site where they will camp. When the bandits attack the camp, hoping for easy pickings from defenceless women, they will be taken by surprise by the rifles in the baggage and unable to escape as I will surround them with the rest of the troops.

Bob Parkhurst in particular makes a very convincing woman. This wheeze is so cunning, nothing can go wrong.

(Editorial note from Susan: all the currently-known tales of Major Squick may be found here at Neil's blog.)

Susan... The contents of the bookshelf next to my bed

Just one bookshelf. My impression was that your bedroom really was a library with but a bit of space for an actual bed and that, should an earthquake hit New Haven, it'd take hours before a rescue team could dig you out from under all those tomes.


What's that about a rifle and a package?
("Rifles in the luggage, Serge.")

There are five bookshelf units in my bedroom with further crates and piles of book stacked on top of them. In addition, my entire window seat (for a three-window bay) is devoted to my to-read pile. This represents a large part of my fiction collection. Non-fiction, plays, poetry, dance research, and another chunk of fiction are all in other rooms because I needed to put the bed on the remaining wall.

The unit by my bed, which is only four shelves tall, is just the only one devoted to erotica (two shelves) and related topics (queer history & theory, etiquette, etc.)

Of the other four units (five shelves each), two are devoted to F&SF, one is devoted to vampire fiction, and one is a mix of historical fiction, quality romance (Heyer), YA stuff, my old collection of Nancy Drew novels, thrillers, historical mysteries, Modesty Blaise, mainstream fiction, etc. All of these are triple- or quadruple-shelved. My limited collection of comics and graphic novels occupies one of the F&SF shelves.

My under-30 friends are awed by the quantity of books assembled in one room. I tell them they should see Seth Breidbart's collection, which makes mine look puny.

And yes, other than a narrow little nightstand squeezed between bookshelf and be, the only conventional bedroom furniture in the room is the bed. Everything else (like my clothing) is downstairs in the green room, also known as the spare kitchen.

[Scribbles "...rifles in her drawers..." in notebook, under inscription reading "archaic vs modern meaning of 'make love'"]

Susan... downstairs in the green room

...where we find Colonel Mustard doing it with the Wench.

I have room for a secretary and chest of drawers besides the seven bookcases in my bedroom. But 6.5 of mine are SF and the rest just odd things. Oh, and I currently have five books in the bookcase headboard.

But how deep are the books stacked on each shelf? I tend to have two rows of books on each, one in front of the other, then books stacked horizontally on top of each row. I desperately need more bookshelves, or bigger bookshelves, or both. I'd like to get custom built-in ones that do not waste space and go all the way to the ceiling. So far finances have not permitted this indulgence.

Susan... My under-30 friends are awed by the quantity of books assembled in one room

What feels strange to me are the homes of my in-laws. They do read, but don't have any book on any shelf anywhere. (Or close to no books at all and I still wonder why one of them had John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up even after expressing no interest in F/SF.)

I dated someone like that once. I think the relationship was doomed the first time I went to his place and found not a single written word in any form other than the ingredient lists on the sides of food packaging. No books. No magazines. No newspaper. Nothing. I was horrified.

My mother reads quite a bit, but doesn't collect books the way I do. She subscribes to a bunch of magazines and gets the newspaper, but prefers to use the public library for books. But there's always something lying around to read at her place.

Susan... Lack of space can be a valid reason not to keep books. Me, I need to have books around, no matter what, even if I'm never going to re-read one - after ll, it gave me pleasure, and I get pleasure from having it around because of the experience of reading it. That's why my home office looks like this, and those are just the books on my to-read list, which hasn't gotten any less crowded since that photo was taken. Here is the way to it. Everything on the right of that last picture is mine, two books deep on each shelf. Everything on the left is a mere fraction of my wife's research books that can be seen. From those musty crowded shelves I extracted a book I'm reading right now, Herbert Asbury's 1947 The Barbary Coast, which is about San Francisco from 1848 to 1906. I recently started the section about the city's Sydney-Town, thus called because of the predominance of citizens from Down Under.

Perhaps the lowest of all the Sydney-Town dives were the Boar's Head, where the principal attraction was a sexual exhibition in which a woman and a boar participated...

The book doesn't see fit to elaborate.

Lack of space can be a valid reason not to keep books.

You can make space for books! In our old apartment, my husband and I had our novels stacked 2-3 stacks deep (depending on whether they were hardback or paperback) as high as my arms could reach. This did occasionally result in me getting bonked on the head while trying to find a book for a friend, but it was worth it to be able to keep all of our books.

Most of our books are still in boxes from our move over the summer (except for three small bookcases throughout the house and a few volumes on each of our desks), but once we finish the renovations on our game room, we're going to put up book cases out there, so it can double as a library. I have a feeling we won't have quite as many bookcases as any of the rest of you, but we'll do our best to catch up ;)

While I'm here, the next Major Squick exerpt publishes at midnight tonight*. I've been scattering them all over these comment threads and I'm not sure how to organise them sensibly now, so I'll just stick the exclusive preview here.

19 J__ 18__

My plan has gone terribly wrong! The bandits have abducted the men disguised as local women before they reached our ambush site. We waited until well after sunset, thinking that they were delayed, being unable to march at their usual rate due to their feminine attire. Eventually we backtracked and discovered that the cunning bandits also engaged in daylight robbery. My tracker suggests that the bandits cannot know the error they have made; the attack was over so quickly my men were unable to get their rifles out of the baggage, and, unlikely as it seems, the disguises continue to fool them. One of them seems to have kept his wits about him, and has been leaving clues to their travel. At first light we will follow them and hopefully find the bandits in their camp.

* That's midnight GMT rather than whatever strange timezones you have abroad.

(Editorial note from Susan: all the currently-known tales of Major Squick may be found here at Neil's blog.)

Arrgh! A Major Squick serial! I want to know how it ends! Not fair!

I've considered several options for displaying my fondness for Major Squick, including pulling all of the comments out into a separate post. At a minimum, I think it would be good to have a link directly to the Major Squick page on your blog from each comment so people could read the whole sequence. Do you have any objection to me going in and editing your MS comments to include links?

I bought a house to surround my books and other stuff. Just saying.

I want to know how it ends!

[Peeks ahead to 0000 GMT 26 December] Groan. That's terrible!

A link would be very sensible. Feel free to do so.


Susan, I have the Ikea Billy bookcases and there's no room for books either two deep or two tall. I do have about 30 books piled on top of each bookcase, though.

Serge, I see you have a book on Star Trek up there! That's quite a tiny nook for an office! I also see you've got your laptop up on some kind of device so the display is at the right height. I'm still thinking about where I'm going to put the new baby computer when I get it set up over here. I'm going to use all the current peripherals, which means there's not as much room for even a tiny computer. The most practical place would be under the monitor, but I don't really want to put it under anything. I have been thinking of buying a table to put to my left (over the big computer, the subwoofer, and the cables) because the cats would clearly like to sit close enough that I can pet them while they relax. I could put the printer on the end of that, and the Asus on the actual desktop. I should start looking for a table of the right size.

Susan, a need to store "stuff" was one of our main reasons for buying a house as well (that and being tired of sharing walls with crazy neighbors). I can't wait to have our books out and available, instead of stacked in closets.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was squinting really hard at the titles in Serge's office to try to make them out! And yes, I love the laptop-stand. I still have a rather large desktop (one of Noreascon's discards that I bought cheap post-con) with a CRT monitor, but I'm thinking of buying a flat-screen monitor in the post-holiday sales to free up some desk space. My desk is 1970s and was not designed for a computer, so my keyboard is being forced off the edge by the size of the monitor.

I am tempted to ask everyone to send in a picture of the home bookshelves, or maybe a selected bookshelf, and make a post of it.

I see a Modesty Blaise book on the desk and the distinctive spine of Shadows Over Baker Street.

In another universe that diverged about 6 years ago I got tired of piling books in boxes and hiding them in my parent's loft 3 or 4 times a year and bought a house*. As we don't live in that universe I have an enormous pile at the bottom of my bed, lots of boxes in my parent's loft and lots of my books my Mum and Dad like or read or think they might read scattered through their shelves. If I can get hold of a working camera I'll happily take photos of some of them.

A few years ago my Dad got tired of making bookcases** and had a carpenter build a floor to ceiling bookcase. After it was finished I turned up with about a hundred more books. Still at least our bibliophiia is keeping local craftsmen employed.

* I didn't because I thought house prices would come down soon. I was right - they have come down - but it took longer than I thought, and as it turns out, longer than I had patience in that job.
** The advantage was he could make them to fit the space available; mostly the space between other bookcases as it turned out.

I want to get a carpenter to build bookcases that fit every available inch of wall, go all the way to the ceiling, are only one book deep, and are of varying heights so that either paperbacks or hardcovers fit exactly into them with only an inch or so of clearance.

Unfortunately, there are home improvements (repairs) which are much, much higher on the list.

I'd be happy to provide a photo of one of my currently very-eclectic "I grabbed the nearest box of books and unpacked it" bookcases.

AJ... You can make space for books!

Up to a point. I've been quite good at making good use of available space, but my wife's many reference books are becoming a problem. Oh well.

As for a photo of a bereft box of books... Do show it to us.

Neil.... Yes, that was indeed Modesty's first novel, next to my computer. I was wondering if someone would recognize it. Now, mind you, it has long since joined my stack of read books, unlike Shadow over baker Street. I also have the stories of the Diogenes Club up there. And Michael Burstein's story collection. And... And... And... Lotsabooks.

Okay - if all you regular Rixo people will send me a photo of the bookshelf (or box of books, or pile of books - whatever you think we'd be entertained by) of your choice, I'll make a front page post of them and we can all admire each other's libraries.

I've found the Diogenes club anthologies only so-so. Not as good as I'd expected given my passionate fondness for Anno Dracula.

Oh, I'm not sure where the bereft boxes are. The books are all on actual bookcases. It's just a very crazy selection of books, in no particular order, based on what boxes were within easy reach.

Shadows Over Baker Street is a decent collection, I'd say it has a better-than-average ratio of good stories than most modern Lovecraft-inspired anthologies. I actually just recently got my copy back from a friend I loaned it to. He also enjoyed it, although we strongly disagree on one story, which he thought was great and I thought was stupid.

I'm planning to get someone to take pictures of my Yule log tomorrow as it looks pretty good if I say so myself; I'll see if I can get some bookcase pics at the same time. otherwise I'll have to use the reserve camera (which uses actual film - it's like living in the 20th century!)

Also, before I head off for the evening:

20 J__ 18__

Success! It seems that the bandits had only just returned to their camp, and in their haste had neglected to search the baggage before beginning to make unwelcome advances to the "local women" they had captured. Just at the moment when they penetrated the disguises, I and my detachment arrived and took the bandits from the rear. We captured them all without a fight.

There was however one casualty, myself. In the excitement of the skirmish, I was knocked from my feet and landed on an asp, which bit me in the behind. The surgeon, seeing this occur, swiftly pulled down my breeches and sucked the poison from the wound. Other than a slight fever, and my current inability to sit or lie on my back, I have suffered no ill effects.

Somehow in the chaos, the uniforms of the disguised men have gone missing. They will have to march back in their current clothes. I hope the Colonel will forgive this breach of discipline in the light of my successes; I am sure the Sergeant-Major will not.

(Editorial note from Susan: all the currently-known tales of Major Squick may be found here at Neil's blog.)

Susan... if all you regular Rixo people will send me a photo of the bookshelf (or box of books, or pile of books

Feel free to use the two photos I've already linked Rixo to.

Susan... I've found the Diogenes club anthologies only so-so.

Both the Victorian one and the 1970s one? Maybe I'll have a different reaction as I'm familiar with the shows of the pre-disco years that the anthology was spoofing.

AJ... we strongly disagree on one story, which he thought was great and I thought was stupid.

Details. We want details.

Neil... at the moment when they penetrated the disguises


Serge, the story in question is called The Case of the Wavy Black Dagger by Steve Perry, and oddly enough, my book opened right to it. I (and my husband) felt that the story was rather pointless, and like the author is just saying "OHHH! Look how COOL this character I came up with is!" like some sort of fan-fic Mary Sue.

Our friend, on the other hand, thought that the character WAS cool and liked the story.

But we all agree that Neil Gaiman's A Study in Emerald is the best in the bunch.

AJ... If I remember correctly, Gaiman's story won a Hugo. I've heard nothing but good things about it.

Ooops, I misspoke. I only have one anthology: Secret Files of the Diogenes Club. I was unimpressed with the stories in it.


But how could they take the bandits from the rear if they were only half...oh, never mind.

(Serge, you are officially a bad influence. I'm sure that was perfectly innocent phrasing on Neil's part!)

I've gone through and found all the Squick bits and added a standard tag to each comment with a link to your blog (look upthread and you can see it; if you don't like the phrasing let me know and I'll re-edit to suit).

Serge, it's definitely worth a read when you have the time. Off the top of my head, I can't remember which other stories I liked in the anthology, I read it much earlier this year.

I'll take a bookcase pic on Friday or Saturday. I'll be away from the computer for the next two days, dog sitting for a friend and reading what looks to be a cheezy paranormal romance. Details when I return...


I'm sure that was perfectly innocent phrasing on Neil's part!

It's not the most subtle piece of writing. I am happy with your editorial note, although one Major Squick Story can be found here, but maybe that's a bit recursive.

I endorse A Study in Emerald by noting that the story has a twist, but works even when you know what it is. It's a different story on re-read than the one you read the first time without knowing the twist. That is subtle writing.

As I'm likely to be away from the computer delivering cards and presents and eating and drinking and mulling cider and making bad Christmas jokes and so on for the rest of the day here's a Merry Christmas from Major Squick:

22 J__ 18__

It seems the luck that has supported my military career has finally run out. I had hoped to make a discreet entrance to the compound with my irregularly uniformed troops. However the Governor of M__ and the Rajah of K__ were inspecting the regiment as we arrived and we had no choice but to march past them. The Sergeant-Major turned so red I thought he might expire of apoplexy.

Someone has left a loaded pistol on my desk. I must have a word with the adjutant to encourage the officers to be more careful with their personal arms.

I see the Colonel first thing tomorrow morning.

Major Squick does seem perfectly innocent or possibly oblivious, and not just to his own phrasing. If I fail to get to the computer tomorrow, the final part will appear in the usual place at 0000 GMT 26 December.

(Editorial note from Susan: all the currently-known tales of Major Squick may be found here at Neil's blog.)

Too recursive! (And I wasn't sure if this was shared-universe or whether I was writing fanfic.) If you want it included more prominently with the others for completeness' sake (there's already a mention of it with a live link in one of your posts) you could make a blog post with a link to it and backdate your post so it appears in sequence on the filtered-for-Major Squick page. Or even excerpt just that bit from my post, if you prefer, with a link back to Rixo. Or not; any which way is fine with me.

I haven't read the Gaiman story, but clearly I should. This is in Shadows Over Baker Street? Is it included in any of Gaiman's own collections?


"A Study in Emerald" is in "Fragile Things"
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 2, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0061252026
ISBN-13: 978-0061252020

Neil... encourage the officers to be more careful with their personal arms

I can think of two ways to interpret this, but I dare not utter them for they might further corrupt the mind of innocent mademoiselle de Guardiola.

(puts Fragile Things in the suitcase I'm packing for my trip to mom's)

I hope you have a good time, Susan. It looks like Rixosous will be quiet, what with you being away, and AJ dog-sitting, and Neil delivering bad Xmas jokes. I myself am leaving the Bay Area on Saturday morning and will be back in Albuquerque the next day by supper time. This time I'll have had more than 3 hours of sleep.

I won't be totally offline; my mother is civilized enough to have broadband, though not yet wifi. I'm hoping to have a post or two this evening on the holiday theme. And I'm only at mom's for two days, so Friday night I'll be home and able to enjoy the rest of winter recess (no day job until 1/2). I have sewing to do!

Drive safely, Serge!

Glad to hear you'll still be around, Susan, otherwise you'd have had to worry about your remaining habitué(e)s trashing Rixo while you'd have been away. (Yes, I mean you, Marilee and Paul.)

I have broadband back home, but not WiFi, for various reasons. I've come to the conclusion that it might be a good thing to have after all, if only because we can't get a good signal from the local classical radio station, due to our being in the shadow of a mountain. WiFi would allow us to keep a laptop in the living-room and listen to internet-based classical stations without having a 60-foot cable running from one end of the house to the next.

I promise to drive safely.

I'll be here, but I've had a weird night and day and just as I was going to type, I got a phone call from someone I volunteered with 12 years ago. She calls me every few years and we just talked about an hour.

I hope you all have good times!

I am here! It turns out mom now has wifi. Or, more accurately, my stepfather has wifi. So I am not even slightly offline. I'm using Google as a conversational adjunct.

Glad that you had a safe trip, Susan. Merry Christmas!

We have clear blue sky here and the temps in the 50s. Not so bad for me, but I'm sure there are people who think Christmas requires snow!

We have the blue skies and temps in the 40's. There's about five inches of snow on the ground already, melting fast, here in NJ. Back home, we had more like a foot and everything was still covered with slush.

Overcast and reached 53F (12C) here. No snow. Surprisingly warm, even at night (which is good as it's 16 hours long at the moment). May have eaten and drunk too much. Saw Beowulf which had a dragon AND used the word "swiving". Here's the last bit of this Major Squick serial.

23 J__ 18__

My luck has not run out! The Governor and the Rajah are both of the Modern Persuasion and thought that an irregular female militia would be just the thing to discourage banditry. After all the men are scattered about the fields and forests all day, while the women are concentrated in the villages, and able to form a reaction force.

The Rajah has requested that I be sent on secondment to take advantage of my hands-on experience with female militia to raise a battalion in his own state. For the 12 months I am there, I will be given the local rank of Major-General. The Colonel and I have agreed that it is best for all concerned if I keep a discreet distance from the regiment for a while. I will even wear local uniform which tends to the gaudy side.

I am sure the remaining members of my family that accept correspondence from me will be pleased to learn that I have achieved general-rank, even if it is only in the forces of a native state. For myself I can hardly believe it. Only when I am immersed in my new role, and in my outlandish costume, will I feel General Squick.

I was vaguely inspired for the story by Lakshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi, who had a bodyguard of women and may have been dressed as a man when she died during the Great Rebellion (better known to Major Squick and those of us who read British accounts dating from beforeindependence as the Indian Mutiny). Obviously, where I went with it from there was my own fault.

See? Swiving is a very necessary word. Can't do without it.

Having now read "A Study in Emerald": wow! Bravo! Great ending, and I did not see it coming, though I should have, as V gubhtug gur pbafhygvat qrgrpgvir punenpgre jnf abg pyrire be fhogyr rabhtu gb or Ubyzrf.

One expects this sort of quality from Gaiman, of course.

Marilee... I'm sure there are people who think Christmas requires snow!

It rained all morning here in the Bay Area. When the sun finally came out around lunch time, my wife and her sisters complained about it because they said it's supposed to rain on Christmas Day.

Susan... Swiving is a very necessary word

I still don't think I should use it in the course of our team's next weekly meeting. For one thing, most of them wouldn't know what it means, and explaining it might get me in trouble. (I still remember the time one of my co-workers who is from China announced, out of the blue, that she had just become engaged and I asked her if it was going to be a shotgun wedding. The gasps from the others were priceless.)

Neil... take advantage of my hands-on experience with female militia to raise a battalion

I'm so glad I do not have a gutter mind.

Susan... After a few days of reading about the Barbary Coast's sordidity (is that a word?), I thought I needed something different, so I've started Sandra McDonald's novel "The Outback Stars". It sounds like, when I'm done with it, I should try "Shadow over Baker Street", or at lest Gaiman's contribution to t.

I asked her if it was going to be a shotgun wedding. The gasps from the others were priceless.

Um, yeah, I bet they were. That's quite the insult!

Yeah, we're all quite high-minded around here. Any double entendres are sheer coincidence. Of course.

Susan... That's quite the insult!

I was teasing her of course, and that's how she took it when I explained it to her. She did say that it caused her to have nightmares of becoming pregnant - and quite noticeably so - by the time the wedding would happen.

Susan... we're all quite high-minded around here

We are?

I'd say sordidness, and my dictionary doesn't have sordidity. Google however suggests sordidity was used by Virginia Woolf in an essy, which is probably good enough.

(And I wasn't sure if this was shared-universe or whether I was writing fanfic.)

Even I'm not sure. Hopefully it won't become an international franchise worth millions of Euros none of which I ever see or something, although expect I'd be more amused than annoyed if that happened. Just as long as no one sues me for saying it's not as good as when I did it.

I'm quite high-minded. At least when I'm standing up.

Sordidness it is. (I wonder if Benny Hill's "Hotel Sordide" skit is on YouTube.)

(Hello, I am back from dog-sitting. Christmas was overcast and slightly rainy here. It was cold, wet, and muddy today, which bothered the dogs much less than it bothered me)

Susan, I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed A Study in Emerald. Your holiday reading choice was much better than mine... There will probably be some book-related ranting over on my writing blog today or tomorrow. After writing a three-page review of the book, I realized that I had missed a few of my complaints, so they'll end up on the blog.

Welcome back, AJ. I'm home too, ahead of what looks like some incoming precipitation. I look forward to reading your rants! Where's the review?

Serge, or you could read McDonald's sequel.

Marilee... Right. I like the book, and will probably go for the sequel, but, as I oft stated, I don't like hardcovers and will thus have to wait for the paperback. That probably means waiting for the 2nd sequel to be released in hardcover.

AJ... Like Susan said, where is your rant?

Susan and Serge, the actual review will be published in an e-zine on the 1st, I'll post a link on my blog and try to remember to mention it here, too, when it's up.

Haven't blogged my rant yet, though, as since I was gone for *two whole days* my husband and my puppies wanted to cuddle with me on the couch and watch a movie. They were all traumatized by my absence.

AJ... Of course you can't have traumatized puppies or hubbies remain in such a state. Have a good evening.

Ok, the puppies are sleeping and the husband is playing Fallout 3, so I ranted away. Click on my name to go to the blog to see the rant.

AJ... Done.

Serge, I've had the SFBC version of the sequel for a while, let me see if there's an mmpb yet... no, the hc has been out since March, so maybe March for the mmpb. Heh. I checked the publisher's site in case they listed the mmpb release and they don't, but she used to be a Navy officer.

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