I just need to find a good picture. Suggestions?
People keep making the mistake of thinking that just because I'm nice, I'm a pushover. Or gullible. Or both.
That is...beyond hilarious as a concept.
Fuck everyone today.
(Work issues, though I've run into the same idea outside of work, I suppose. I will elaborate when I'm not vaguebooking on a work computer on a work network.)
Me: Why is your nose bleeding?
Him: I was helping Kid 1 to put cardboard into a dumpster in her apartment. We put too much cardboard in and the lid fell and scraped off a chunk of my skin.
Me: When was this?
Me: You got scraped by the lid of an apartment dumpster with about a trillion of contaminants on it. Did you sterilize the scrape?
Him: ::blank look::
Him: Well, since it’s still bleeding, I suppose we could put some antibiotic gel on it. If we have some.
I can’t even.
And being an “Audible Deal of the Day” means you get to spend very little to get the book — in this case something like $3. The deal as far as I know is limited to the US and maybe Canada, and it’s only for today. So if you want it at this price, you need to jump on it. It’s perfect for the folks who love audiobooks, or for the folks who have never tried audiobooks but would be willing to give them a chance at a low price point, or for the folks who simply want Wil Wheaton to read to them in those dulcet tones of his.
Here’s the link to the audiobook. Enjoy!
Wow, is this show cheesetastic. I can see why my partner gave up after episode 1, when it first aired. But then, I watched Lost Girl, so clearly kickass women, a sense of humor, and sex positivity go pretty far with me, especially if the cheese is that special Canadian brand. I'm definitely caught up in it.
It doesn't hurt that I am going through a Western phase at the moment -- someone watch Strange Empire on Netflix so I have someone to talk about it with, please? Of course I am most fascinated by Doc, since he's actually *from* the Old West and since I'm always fascinated by out-of-time characters. Especially since he has a little bit of a Timothy Olyphant in Deadwood combined with Timothy Olyphant in Justified thing going. (Hell, I watched Santa Clarita Diet for Timothy Olyphant.) I'm sure I can't trust him as far as I can throw him, though, and I mean me, not Wynonna, and I can throw way less far than she can.
Wynnona clearly gets her clothes in the same place that Jessica Jones gets hers. In fact, my first reaction was that this was kinda ilke a Western JJ, if Jessica hung out with Willow Rosenberg instead of Trish Walker. I mean, Wynonna has a different personality, but a lot of traits in common with Jess.
I am spoiled enough to know about later ships. But I would like to know why any character who is a) attractive and b) not directly or ancestrally connected to the OK Corral incident has a ridiculous name like Dolls or Haught-pronounced-Hot? I know this has its origins in a graphic novel (mostly because I read it in the credits), but it's distracting.
Also, Canada should make all the Westerns, modern or past, because Scenery.
Hey everyone, it’s Brandi.
I wanted to respond to a recent question from a fan, one that I’m sure many have been wondering.
Are you guys alright? Fairly quiet around here.
But fear not, Ilona and Gordon are actually still alive and breathing. Just extremely preoccupied with house hunting. Let me give you FEW examples of just how preoccupied with house hunting they are.
Me: Where are you guys???
Ilona: House. House. House, house house.
Me: So you aren’t home…
Ilona: *sends 40 pictures of houses*
Me: What’s for dinner?
Gordon: Hey, come look! House. House!
Me: Cool. What are we eating?
Gordon: You know where we could be eating? This house. In this kitchen.
*S, my boyfriend who loves sports walks in.*
Gordon: S! Look! House. House has basketball court.
Good news is, their offer was accepted on the house. So they will be way more active hopefully.
To keep you entertained, here is a snippet I stole while they were trying to close on the house.
A thud jerked me awake. I was up and moving, my sword in my hand, before my brain processed that I was now standing.
I paused, Sarrat raised.
A thin sliver of watery, predawn light broke through the gap between the curtains. The magic was up. On my left, in the little nursery Curran sectioned off from our bedroom, Conlan stood in his crib, wide-awake.
The room was empty except for me and my son.
Someone pounded on my front door. The clock on the wall told me it was ten till seven. We kept shapeshifters hours, late to bed, late to rise. Everyone I knew was aware of that.
“Uh-oh!” Conlan said.
Uh-oh is right. “Wait for me,” I whispered. “Mommy has to take care of something.”
I ran out of the bedroom, moving fast and quiet, and shut the door behind me.
Hold your horses, I’m coming. And then you’ll have some explaining to do.
It took me two seconds to clear the long staircase leading from the third floor to the reinforced front door. I grabbed the lever, slid it sideways, and lowered the metal flap covering the small window. Teddy Jo’s brown eyes stared back at me.
“What the hell are you doing here? Do you know what time it is?”
“Open the door,” Teddy Jo breathed. “It’s an emergency.”
It was always an emergency. My whole life was one long chain of emergencies. I unbarred the door and pulled it open. He charged in past me. His hair stuck out from his head, windblown. His face was bloodless, and his eyes wild.
A sinking feeling tugged at my stomach. Teddy Jo was Thanatos, the Greek angel of death. Freaking him out took a lot of doing. I thought it had been too quiet lately.
I shut the door and locked it.
“I need help,” he said.
“Is anybody in danger right now?”
“They’re dead. They’re all dead.”
Whatever happened has already happened.
“I need you to come and see this.”
“Can you explain what it is?”
“No.” He grabbed my hand. “I need you to come right now.”
I looked at his hand on mine. He let go.
I walked into the kitchen, took a pitcher of iced tea out of the fridge, and poured him a tall glass. “Drink this and try to calm down. I’m going to get dressed and find a baby sitter for Conlan and then we’ll go.”
He took the glass. The tea trembled.
I ran upstairs, opened the door, and nearly collided with my son. Conlan grinned at me. He had my dark hair and Curran’s grey eyes. He also had Curran’s sense of humor, which was driving me crazy. Conlan started walking early, at ten months, which was typical of shapeshifter children, and now he was running at full speed. His favorite games included running away from me, hiding under various pieces of furniture, and knocking stuff off horizontal surfaces. Bonus points if the object broke.
“Mommy has to go work.” I pulled off the long T-shirt I used as a night gown and grabbed a sports bra.
“Mhm. I’d sure like to know where your Dada is. Off on one of his expeditions.”
“Dada?” Conlan perked up.
“Not yet,” I told him, reaching for my jeans. “He should be coming back tomorrow or the day after.”
Conlan stomped around. Besides early walking and some seriously disturbing climbing ability, he showed no signs of being a shapeshifter. He didn’t change shape at birth, and he hadn’t shifted yet. By thirteen months, he should’ve been turning into a little baby lion on regular basis. Doolittle found Lyc-V in Conlan’s blood, present in large numbers, but the virus lay dormant. We always knew it was a possibility, because my blood ate vampirism and Lyc-V for breakfast and asked for seconds. But I knew Curran hoped our son would be a shapeshifter. So did Doolittle. The Pack’s medmage kept trying different strategies to bring the beast out. Except I’d pulled the plug on that.
About six months ago, Curran and I visited the Keep and left Conlan with Doolittle for about twenty minutes. When we came back, I found Conlan crying on the floor with three shapeshifters in half form growling at him, while Doolittle looked on. I kicked one out of the window and broke the other’s arm before Curran restrained me. Doolittle assured me that our baby wasn’t in any danger, and I informed him that he was done torturing our baby for his amusement. I might have underscored my point by holding Conlan in one hand and Sarrat sheathed in my blood in the other. Apparently, my eyes had glowed and the Pack’s Keep trembled. It was collectively decided that further tests were not necessary.
I still took Conlan to Doolittle for his scheduled appointments and when he fell or sneezed or did any of the other baby things that made me fear for his life. But I watched them like a hawk the whole time.
I buckled my belt on, slid Sarrat into the sheath on my back, and pulled my hair back into a pony tail. “Let’s go see if your aunt will watch you for a few hours.”
I scooped him up and went downstairs.
Teddy Jo was pacing in our lobby like a caged tiger. I grabbed the keys to our Jeep and went out the door.
“I’ll fly you,” he said.
“No.” I marched across the street to George and Eduardo’s house. I would have to buy George a cake for all the baby sitting she’s been doing lately.
“You said nobody is in immediate danger. If you fly me, I will dangle thousands of feet above the ground in a playground swing and I’m not doing that. You can fly overhead and lead the way.”
“It will be faster.”
I knocked on George’s door. “Do you want my help or not?”
He made a frustrated noise and stalked off.
The door swung open and George appeared, her tight black curls floating around her head like a halo.
“I am so sorry,” I started.
She opened her arms and took Conlan for me. “Who is my favorite nephew?”
“He is your only nephew.”
“Details.” George smooched Conlan on his forehead. He wrinkled his nose and sneezed.
“Again, so sorry. It’s an emergency.”
“She waved. “Go, go…”
I turned right and headed toward Derek’s house.
“Now what?” Teddy Jo growled.
“I’m getting back up.” I had a feeling I would need it.
Because yesterday I got to hang out a bit with Alison Moyet, who if you didn’t know is one of my absolute favorite singers, both in Yaz, and with her solo work. We’d become Twitter buddies in the last couple of years and when I mentioned to her Krissy and I would be at her Chicago show she suggested we have a real-life meet. And we did! And it was lovely! And brief, as she had to prepare to entertain a sold-out show (and she did; the concert was excellent), but long enough to confirm that she’s as fabulous in the flesh as she is in her music. Which was not surprising to me, but nice regardless.
(Alison has also blogged about our meet-up as part of her tour journal, which you can find here. Read the entire tour journal, as she’s funny as hell.)
I noted to some friends that I was likely to meet Alison this week and some of them wondered how it would go, on the principle that meeting one’s idols rarely goes as one expects (more bluntly, the saying is “never meet your idols.”) I certainly understand the concept, but I have to say I’ve had pretty good luck meeting people whom I have admired (or whose work I admired). I chalk a lot of that up to the fact that while I was working as a film critic, I met and interviewed literally hundreds of famous people, some of whose work was very important to me. In the experience I got to have the first-hand realization that famous and/or wonderfully creative people are also just people, and have the same range of personalities and quirks as anyone else.
If you remember that when you meet the people whose work or actions you admire, you give them space just to be themselves. And themselves are often lovely. And when they’re not, well, that’s fine too. Alison Moyet, it turns out, is fabulous, and I’m glad we got to meet.
(Which is not to say I didn’t geek out. Oh, my, I did. But I also kept that mostly inside. Krissy found it all amusing.)
Anyway: Great Tuesday. A+++, would Tuesday again.
Today, award-winning author Fran Wilde has a shocking confession to make! About something she said! Here! And yes, it involves her new novel, Horizon. What will this confession be? Will there be regret involved? Are you prepared for what happens next?!?
Dear readers of John Scalzi’s blog, for the past three years, I’ve been keeping secrets.
I’m not sorry.
Trilogies are a delicate thing. They are a community of books unto themselves. They inform and support one another; their themes and actions ripple and impact one another. They have their own set of rules. Among them: Write down the main character’s eye color or favorite food so you don’t forget it. You’ll regret using that hard-to-spell naming convention by the middle of your second book. Destroy something in book one, you’re not going to magically have it to rely on in book three — at least not without some major effort. Everything gathers — each choice, each voice.
Trilogies are, by intent, more than the sum of their parts.
And, when brought together, a trilogy’s largest ideas sometimes appear in the gathered shadows of what seemed like big ideas at the time.
In Updraft, book one of the Bone Universe trilogy, what began to crumble was the system that upheld the community of the bone towers. It didn’t look like it then. So I didn’t tell you when I wrote my first Big Idea.
Instead, the first time I visited this blog, I wrote: “At its heart, Updraft is about speaking and being heard and — in turn — about hearing others…”
That was true – especially in the ways Updraft explored song as memory and singing and voice. But it was also kind of a fib. I knew where the series was headed, and voice was only the tip of the spear.
I planned to return here a year later to write about leadership, and I did — and, I wrote about demagoguery too, and abut having a book come out during a charged political season. That was September 2016, Cloudbound, the second book in the series was just out, and wow, that post seems somewhat innocent and naive now. But not any less important.
Again, saying the big idea in Cloudbound was leadership was true on its face, but it was also a an act of omission. And again, singing came into play — in that songs in Cloudbound were being adjusted and changed, as were messages between leaders.
With Horizon, I’m going to lay it all out there for you. Horizon is about community.
Structurally, Horizon is narrated by several different first person voices — including Kirit, Nat, and Macal, a magister and the brother of a missing Singer. These three voices come from different places in the Bone Universe’s geography, and they weave together to form a greater picture of the world, and its threats. A fourth voice appears only through a song — a new song — that is written during the course of Horizon, primarily by one character but with the help of their community. That song is the thread that ties the voices together, and, one hopes, the new community as well.
And, like Horizon, for me, the big idea for the Bone Universe series is also community. How to defend one, how to lead one, how to salvage as much as you can of one and move forward towards rebuilding it.
In my defense, I did leave some clues along the way. I shifted narrators between Updraft and Cloudbound in order to broaden the point of view and reveal more about the lead characters and the world, both between the books (how Nat and Kirit are seen each by the other vs. how they see themselves), and within them. I shared with readers the history of the bone towers and how that community, and the towers themselves, formed. I showed you the community’s [something] – that their means of keeping records and remembering was based on systems that could be used to both control messages and redefine them. I made the names of older laws and towers much more complicated to pronounce (and, yes, spell SIGH), versus the simpler names for newer things. This community had come together, then grown into something new.
The evolution of singing in the Bone Universe is, much like the idea of community, something that can be seen in pieces, but that resolves more when looked at from the perspective of all three books together.
Remember that solo voice — Kirit’s — singing quite badly that first book? In the second book, Nat’s voice joins Kirit’s — a solo, again, but because we can still hear Kirit, and because we know her, it becomes a kind of duet. In the third book, three voices present separate parts of the story, and when they all come together, that forms a connected whole.
When you listen to a group of people sing, sometimes one voice stands out, then another. Then, when multiple voices join in for the chorus, the sound becomes a different kind of voice. One with additional depth and resonance.
That’s the voice of a community. That drawing together of a group into something that is more than the sum of its parts. It is an opportunity, a way forward, out of a crumbling system and into something new and better.
That’s the big idea.
In her debut novel Autonomous, former i09 editor-in-chief and current science and tech writer and editor Annalee Newitz gets under the skin of the healthcare industry and thinks about all the ways it’s less-than-entirely healthy for us… and what that means for our future, and the future she’s written in her novel.
There’s a scene from the Torchwood series Miracle Day that I will never be able to wash out of my brain. After humans stop being able to die for mysterious reasons, our heroes tour a hospital full of people who are hideously immortal: their bodies pancaked and spindled and melted, they lie around in agony wishing for oblivion. For all its exaggerated body horror, that moment feels creepily realistic in our age of medicine that can keep people alive without giving them anything like quality of life.
Torchwood: Miracle Day wasn’t my first taste of healthcare dystopia, but it made a huge impression because it distilled down one of the fundamental ideas I see this subgenre: some lives are worse than death. This is certainly the message in countless pandemic films, where the infected are ravening, mindless zombies. Killing them is a mercy.
This idea takes a slightly different form in books like Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl. Both narratives toy with what it means when people are turned into medical experiments, like futuristic versions of the Tuskegee Study. We see some ruling class of people deciding that another class should serve as its organ donors or genetic beta testers. What if somebody were treating us like lab rats, as if our lives didn’t matter?
And then there are the false healthcare utopias, which I find the most disturbing because they remind me of listening to U.S. senators trying to sell the idea that they have a “much better plan” than Obamacare—even though I know people who will die under these “better plans.” Politicians have probably been pushing false healthcare utopias since at least the 19th century, but in science fiction its roots can clearly be traced to Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. In that novel, everyone is medicating with Soma just to deal with how regimented and limited their lives are.
False healthcare utopias can take many forms, and they overlap with more familiar dystopias too. Some deal with surveillance. In the chilling novel Harmony, Project Itoh imagines a future Japan where the government monitors everyone’s microbiomes by tracking everything that goes into and out of their bodies (yep, there’s toilet surveillance).
Sometimes the false healthcare utopia is just a precursor to a more familiar zombie dystopia like 28 Days Later. Consider, for example, our extreme overuse of antibiotics. Though it appears that we can cure pretty much any infection with antibiotics, we’re very close to living in a world where antibiotics no longer work at all. One of the most terrifying books I’ve read this year is science journalist Maryn McKenna’s book Big Chicken, which is about how the agriculture industry depends on antibiotics to keep animals “healthy” in filthy, overcrowded conditions. This is creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are coming for us, pretty much any day now. That’s right–penicillin-doped chickens are the real culprits in I Am Legend.
I’m fascinated by how many false healthcare utopias depend on coercive neuroscience. Often, brain surgery is involved—we see this in John Christopher’s Tripods and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, both about so-called utopian worlds created by neurosurgical interventions that restrict freedom of thought. Maybe these stories focus on brains so much because these are fundamentally stories about lies, and brains are, after all, the organ that we use for lying.
When I started work on my novel Autonomous (out today! yes it is!), I knew I wanted to explore the lies of the pharmaceutical industry and its gleaming ads promising a better life to those who can afford a scrip. One of the protagonists, Jack, has become a pharmaceutical pirate so that she can bring expensive, patented medicine to poor people who need it. But she also sells a few of what she calls “funtime worker drugs” on the side, to fund her Robin Hood activities and keep her submarine in good repair.
Those funtime drugs are why things go sideways for Jack. She sells some pirated Zacuity, a “productivity” drug that I loosely based on Provigil or Adderall. It gets people really enthusiastic about work, but it has some unexpected side-effects that the pharma company Zaxy has suppressed. Now Jack has to stop the drug from killing more people, while also evading two deadly agents sent by Zaxy: a robot named Paladin and a human named Eliasz.
So Autonomous is chase story with some hot robot sex, but it’s also very much a book about how pharma companies sell us an idea of “health” that is actually really unhealthy.
Today pharma companies market drugs the way Disney markets Star Wars movies, and for good reason. Drugs like Adderall and Provigil are supposed to make us feel better and more competent—or at the very least distract us—for a few blissful hours. Just like a movie. I’m not trying to say there’s a problem with taking drugs (or watching movies) to feel good. Nor am I saying that people don’t need anti-depressants and other meds to treat psychological problems. The issue is when these drugs are overprescribed for enhancement, and “feeling really good” becomes a terrible kind of norm. Pharma companies want us to believe that if we aren’t incredibly attentive, productive, and happy every day, there must be something wrong. This paves the way for an ideal of mental health that almost nobody can (or should) live up to.
There’s another, deeper problem that’s caused by selling medicine as if it were a form of entertainment. Nobody would ever argue that going to see the new Star Wars movie is a right. It’s just a luxury for people with disposable income. If we see medicine like that too, it’s easy to fall for the lie that our healthcare system is great even though it only serves the richest people in the U.S.
In the world of Autonomous, the pharma companies are full of guys like Martin Shkreli, jacking up the prices on medicine because they can. They get away with it because so many people in the U.S. believe that anyone can get medicine if they really deserve it. Only a lie of that magnitude could make it seem fair when working class people can’t afford to treat AIDS-related complications. Or cancer. Or a heart infection.
Autonomous is a book about lies. But more importantly, it’s about what happens to the people who see through those lies and try to do something about it. Everyone deserves to have medicine. It is a right, not a privilege. Until we recognize that, I’ll be hanging out with the pirates.
Well, specifically this silly person said I would never earn out [x] amount of money I got as an advance, and also that I would in fact never see [x] amount of money, because of reasons they left unspecified but which I assume were to suggest that my contracts would be cancelled long before I got the payout. As [x] amount of money seems to suggest this silly person is talking about my multi-book multi-year contracts, let me say:
1. lol, no;
2. [x] was not the sum for any of my contracts (either for individual works or in aggregate) so that’s wrong to begin with;
3. It’s pretty clear that this silly person has very little idea how advances work in general, or how they are paid out;
4. It’s also pretty clear this silly person has very little idea how advances work with long-term, multi-project contracts in particular, or how they are paid out;
5. Either this silly person has never signed a book contract, or they appear to have done a very poor job of negotiating their contracts;
6. In any event, it’s very clear this silly person has no idea about the particulars of my business.
Which makes sense as I don’t go into great detail about them in public. But it does mean that people asserting knowledge of my business are likely to be flummoxed by the actual facts. Like, for example, the fact that I’m already earning royalties on work tied into those celebrated-yet-apparently-actually-
How am I getting royalties on a work tied to contracts that this silly person has assured all and sundry I will never earn out? The short answer is because I’ve earned out, obviously. The slightly longer answer is that my business deals are interesting and complex and designed to roll money to me on a steady basis over a long period of time, but when you are a silly person who apparently knows nothing about how book contracts work (either my specific ones, or by all indications book contracts in general) and you have an animus against me because, say, you’re an asshole, or because of group identification politics that require that I must actually be a raging failure, for reasons, you are prone to assert things that are stupid about my business and show your complete ignorance of it. And then I might be inclined to point and laugh about it.
In any event, this is a fine time to remind people of two things. The first thing is that I have detractors, and it’s very very important to them that I’m seen as a failure. There’s nothing I can ever do or say to dissuade them against this idea, so the least I can do is offer them advice, which is to make their assertions of my failure as non-specific as possible, because specificity is not their friend. I would also note to them that regardless, my failures, real or imagined, will not make them any more successful in their own careers. So perhaps they should focus on the things they can materially effect, i.e., their own writing and career, and worry less about what I’m doing.
Second, if someone other than me, my wife, my agent or my business partners (in the context of their own contracts with me) attempts to assert knowledge of my business, you may reliably assume they are talking out of their ass. This particularly goes for my various detractors, most of whom don’t appear to have any useful understanding of how the publishing industry works outside of their (and this is a non-judgmental statement) self-pub and micro-pub worlds, which are different beasts than the part I work in, and also just generally dislike me and want me to be a miserable failure and are annoyed when I persist in not being either. Wishing won’t make it so, guys.
Bear in mind speculating about my business is perfectly fine, and even if it wasn’t I couldn’t stop it anyway. Speculate away! People have done it for years, both positively and negatively, and most of the time it’s fun to watch people guess about it. Even this silly person’s speculation is kind of fun, in the sense it’s interesting to see all the ways it’s wrong. But to the extent that the unwary may believe this silly person (or other such silly people among my detractors, and as a spoiler they are all fairly silly on this topic) knows what they are talking about with regard to my business: Honey, no. They really don’t. They have their heads well up their asses.
Or, as I said on Twitter:
And actually the dog has been in the same room as my contracts, so in fact she might know more. Keep that in mind the next time a detractor opines on my business.
Back when I was studying music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music, I had a mystical epiphany that didn’t even involve recreational chemistry. It came to me in the classroom while looking at a handout the instructor had passed around. She was about to present an overview of AM and FM radio technology and wanted us to take a look at the wave spectrum within which those broadcast frequencies are nested. On the left, the diagram showed the subsonic vibrations elephants transmit through the ground to communicate over long distances. Moving to the right, it worked its way up through the octaves of audible sound waves and then on to ultrasonic, radio, microwave, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays, and gamma rays.
My education up to that point was far more focused on playing guitar than on physics, but I had read about how even matter is essentially composed of waves—or particles, depending on the method of measurement—vibrating at high enough rates to create the illusion of solidity. Still, seeing it all laid out like that, bottom to top, made a profound impression on me. It reminded me that all human perception is just a glimpse through the slats of a fence, a fragmentary picture of a reality we can only experience with a biological bias and a crude, albeit ever expanding, set of tools to fill in the blanks.
It’s a humbling idea. One that I later remembered I’d first encountered in the horror story “From Beyond” by H.P. Lovecraft. In that tale, a scientist discovers alien life forms writhing in the air all around him by tuning his perception with a resonator device he calls “The Ultraviolet.”
When I set out to reimagine the Cthulhu Mythos for the SPECTRA Files trilogy, this idea of exposure to special frequencies opening up human perception to other dimensions and entities was a major element I wanted to explore. After all, the closest thing to real magic I’ve experienced in my own life is the way that music—invisible wave patterns in the air—has the power to open the human heart to unexpected dimensions of feeling.
Music plays a major role in the SPECTRA books. There’s a cosmic boom box that houses a lab-grown larynx, a grand piano that acts as a portal to infernal realms, and a sea organ borrowed from a real architectural instrument in Zadar, Croatia, that plays haunting chords when the waves roll into its chambers. But the main character, Becca Philips, does her work higher up in the wave spectrum. She’s an urban explorer and photographer who shoots infrared photos of abandoned buildings in flood-ravaged Boston. Becca finds an eerie spirituality in the ghostly light emitted by weeds and vines in that range. But when her photos pick up fractal tentacles seeping into our world from an adjacent dimension, she is caught between cultists employing weird tech to evoke monstrous gods and a covert agency that suspects she might be one of them.
From water to sound to light, there are waves rolling through the entire trilogy. But the wave spectrum isn’t the big idea, perception is: how we see the world and our place in it.
Becca Philips is a character defined by her sensitivity. She experienced loss at an early age and continues to suffer from recurrent depression compounded by Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s her sensitivity to light and shadow, her unique way of looking at the world, that makes her a great photographer. And it’s her unique perception that entangles her in the unfolding apocalypse and puts her in a position to do something about it. In book one (Red Equinox), she willingly exposes herself to the harmonics that align the human plane with that of the monsters, an act which makes her more vulnerable even as it dispenses with the illusion of a benign reality so she might be empowered to save others from what lurks just beyond that thin veneer. Becca chose this vision as an act of heroism and chose to keep it when offered a drug that would make it go away. But sometimes the cost of courage is that your contact with dark things changes you and makes you one of them.
I knew from the start that as a sensitive, Becca would also be susceptible to the telepathic dreams of Cthulhu slumbering on the ocean floor sooner or later. I knew she would struggle with her sanity and ultimately have to make a judgment about the sanity of mankind at large and whether our supremacy on the planet is ultimately for the best. As a vegetarian and animal rescuer, Becca sees the value of all life. But when you look long enough into the abyss, the abyss looks into you, and in Cthulhu Blues Becca finally has to grapple with the question of whether or not the Great Old Ones might be better for life on Earth than mankind in the long run. The crux of her crisis is that the same empathetic eye that drives her to save animals, children, and civilization, also opens her to the possibility that the cultists might be right to topple the human race from its throne. She has to ask herself what it is in the spectrum of consciousness that sets humanity apart. If we’re not at the top of the food chain anymore, what makes us unique and worth saving?
I’ve always thought it’s our capacity for compassion. Our ability to see others, even the wretched and subhuman, the animal and the alien, with a kind eye. But if we retreat into the tunnel vision of fear at the first scent of crisis, then what do we have left that makes us the good guys? When you’re caught between a militant covert agency and a radical religious cult, are dark gods really worse than white devils?
You have no idea how much my dad told me about John Smith and Jamestown when I was a kid. You really have no idea.
So I also learned that the kidlet didn't know why the Church of England formed, and this all culminated in my explaining to him that Henry VIII wanted to get remarried, the Pope told him no, and the Henry said, essentially, "Screw you, I'm the King of England! I'll start my own church!"
It was a glorious moment. I love being a parent.