Tuesday Links (05/28/13)

Dinosaur Comics: “We enter a world where the Internet never got invented. Broadcast media, like fries, rules supreme.” Fast food references and alternate history go together like two beef patties and special sauce.

Space is the New Canada:“In Canada, the wild is slow, certain death. Nature is an unstoppable destructive force and there is no overcoming it. Canada has not been conquered by man, we have simply built fragile fortresses in which we huddle, praying against the day the dark and the cold erode them and take us.”

Canada’s Boreal Forest is the Amazon of the North: And I daresay it’s as much in danger.

A post-console world: “Has the concept of a dedicated gaming machine become outdated?”

Book Review: The Golem and the Jinni

These are the opening chapters of Helene Wecker’s literary debut, and they’re doozies. Perhaps the most famous beast of Jewish folklore is paired with a creature right out of the Arabian Nights. And they’re re-imagined as developed, human-like characters. It’s an unusual combination, to say the least.

Read my review at the Free Press.

Book Review: The Human Division

The Human Division isn’t a spoof or a straight-up comedy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be funny. It is set in a future wherein hundreds of technologically similar alien races are fighting each other. Humanity is, in this universe, forever on the brink of extinction.

Read the full review in the Free Press.

Tuesday Links (05/21/13)

Real Monopoly: “. . .[N]o one ever actually reads the rules of Monopoly. Monopoly is something you learn through word-of-mouth in childhood, like riding a bike or tying your shoelaces. . . . So the set of rules we play by is the shared cultural set of rules passed down through the generations, and not the ones written on the booklet inside the box.”

How to design a small rental apartment: Zen and the art of tiny apartment living. Both form and function are critical.

On To-Do Lists

Lately I’ve been all about lists. My day job, the still new experience of “owning” a home (the quotes are a nod to the mortgage which owns me), my decision to take on a second job, and of course, the writing, which I’ve been pretty good about not getting complacent about — all of these make for some time management challenges.

In the last month or two, it’s gotten to be just a bit much to the point where I simply ran out of time to do all the things I planned on doing, and had to start triaging. That meant one or two committed writing assignments made the cut along with all the urgent life stuff and ongoing (but piling up) requirements of my day job. So I’ve had very little output since March.

But for even longer than that, I’ve realized I’m turning into a list person. I’ve never been the dayplanner type, before. I just remember my appointments, my plans for the day, et cetera. But lately it’s been more of a challenge, and sitting down and writing down my tasks for the day, week, or month on a Post-It note has become more of a necessity.

This isn’t a bad thing, in my view. There’s a certain satisfaction in crossing items off that list. It’s helped me manage a busy schedule while ensuring that nothing gets put off indefinitely. It’s great for the day-to-day realities of work and life.

But I also have a particular long-term list of writing tasks, goals for the year, really, which is a little more aspirational and a little less straightforward to work through. It’s not on a Post-It but it’s short enough that I can keep it in the back of my mind. Sell a piece to such-and-such. Break into market X. This is important, too, and I don’t want to get too focused on the day-to-day that I ever stop moving forward with an aspect of my life.

So it’s important, I think, to have that big yearly goals list, that bullet-pointed five-year plan, even the bucket list. I want to be crossing items off all of those, as well.

Tuesday Links (05/14/13)

Haruki Murakami and the Art of Japanese Translations: “The Japanese language acquires much of its beauty and strength from indirectness—or what English-speakers call vagueness, obscurity, or implied meaning. . . . Alternatively, English is often lauded for its specificity. Henry James advised novelists to find the figure in the carpet, implying that details and accuracy were tantamount to literary expression. Is it possible that Japanese and English are two languages so far apart that translators can only reinvent their voices by creating entirely new works?”

15 Ways to Improve Winnipeg: From my first newspaper, U of W’s Uniter, a very well-done and thought-provoking special issue.

Book Review: Sun of Suns

The working out of the physics is one of the great joys of this novel. The combination of a microgravity environment that nevertheless contains a breathable atmosphere makes for some fascinating possibilities, and Schroeder takes us through them one by one. But it’s also a rip-roaring story.

I’ll be covering Karl Schroeder’s complete Virga series at AE over the next several months. Read along with me, starting with this one.