THE COMPLETE MORGAINE cycle is now available

I normally announce NEW books in the blog part of my web site. The hope is that I can call attention to some work which you might otherwise overlook when you see it or not see at all. Or not see until much later than it becomes available.

That is not the case with this announcement. C. J. Cherryh‘s Morgaine cycle of four books has been around for many years. What is new is a new edition which combines them into one volume. Available from Barnes & Noble and from Amazon.

This omnibus edition is a bit big. You may want to get copies of the individual books. They are available through third-party sellers. Click on the images of the magnificent covers by Michael Whelan to buy them. (About affiliates: Amz apparently is really stringent in who they accept. In over a dozen years of frequent buys, I’ve never been disappointed in their speed and trustworthiness.)

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Some forms of prostitution have always been legal.

What is a trophy wife but a prostitute who is paid millions of dollars? Sometimes directly such as with a bank account into which her millionaire husband pays many thousands of dollars. Sometimes indirectly as with gifts such as houses, automobiles, clothes, jewelry, vacations, and so on.

Often these millionaires regularly divorce their wives for a younger version. Donald Trump is an example. Here are his three wives (Ivana Zelníčková, Marla Maples, Melania Knavs). Click the images for biographical details.


Porn “stars” are another example. Contestants in dating game shows such as The Bachelor are another example. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian may get their start at celeb status with an “accidentally” or “maliciously” leaked sex tape (for which she received $5 million in a legal settlement).

Technology has expanded the reach and variety of prostitution. It has included depictions in photos, movies, videos, and on the internet. One popular form of legal prostitution is webcam pornography. It can be performed in one’s own home, singly or with a partner, without a pimp or brothel. It’s relatively safe, but hardly perfectly safe. Business Insider discusses the industry at length.

On August 11th, 2015, Amnesty International voted to fully decriminalize all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy also calls on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence. An article in Huffington Post explains the meaning of the resolution and its pros and cons.

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BLINDSPOT – stupid premise, fun show

I just saw the pilot for the NBC action-adventure hourly TV show Blindspot. I enjoyed the pilot a lot, despite the really stupid premise of the show.

A young woman is deposited unconscious, naked, and without any memory of her past life in New York’s Times Square. Her body is covered with tattoos, each containing clues to a crime to be solved. “Jane Doe” is played by Jaimie Alexander, known to Marvel comics fans as Lady Sif of Asgard.

The plot makes (limited) sense, the action is good, and the acting feels true. I bought the entire season so I can stream it from Amazon Video.


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EMILY BLUNT – action movie star

Emily Blunt joined the ranks of female action-adventure movie stars last year by co-starring with Tom Cruise in sci-fi war movie Edge of Tomorrow.

This Friday September 18th she joins the short list for such roles. She plays the lead in premiering drug-cartel war movie Sicario. It goes wide on October 2nd.

However, she refuses to be type cast. In her next role she plays an evil queen in dark fantasy The Huntsman. Next she’s a neurotic alcoholic in the thriller The Girl on the Train.


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HUGO AWARDS – previous five years

Hugo voting in 2015 was roiled by a few fans who thought too many awards went to arty or leftist works. Here are the novel winners and runners up for the previous five years. Judge for yourself. (Follow the links to descriptions on Amazon if you’ve not read them.)

The bolded works are the ones I’d have picked if I’d bothered to vote.


Ancillary Justice
Neptune’s Brood
A Memory of Light


Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance
Throne of the Crescent Moon


Among Others
Leviathan Wakes
A Dance With Dragons


The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
The Dervish House


The City & The City (tie)
The Windup Girl (tie)
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America Palimpsest
No Award

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The romantic TANGO VALS

There are three kinds of Argentine tango: tango salon, milonga, and tango vals. They are written in 4/4, 2/4, and 3/4 time, respectively.

Tango valses tend to have a romantic feel and vals tandas (sets of 3-5 related works) often are played toward the later part of the night to encourage newly-met couples to exchange contact info.

Tango valses are fast tempo, so dancers typically only step on one beat of each measure. Usually but not always this is the first of the One-two-three beats. But for variety dancers may throw in double- or triple-step sequences.

One of the most popular is “Desde el Alma” (dez-del-ol-ma, “Out of the soul” or “From the soul”). It was composed by 14-year-old FEMALE musical prodigy Rosita Melo in 1911. The words were much later written by her husband, then the more famous version by Homero Manzi.

The Rose Pavilion was a large two-story chalet style cabaret and ballroom surrounded by a garden. Tango greats played their music and danced there during its lifetime from the late 1800s to 1929. (Other non-tango events were also held there.)

“Heart of gold” was written by composer, orchestra leader, and impresario Francisco Canaro.

“Tears and Smiles” was composed by Pascual de Gullo & N. Casuscelli.

“Blue Illusion” was composed by Alfredo De Angelis.

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Tempest in a teaspoon – the HUGO AWARDS 2015

The Hugo Awards are given out each year by the World Science Fiction Society at the World SF Convention. They have never meant anything to me. I only read novels, and few of the winners have ever attracted me. Often I have never even heard of them.

The several times I went to the WorldCon, the yearly convention, I ignored the Hugo activities and focused most on the panels, dealer’s room, exhibits especially of art, and the costume competition. And most of all a chance to meet writers whose works I loved.

This year I became mildly interested in a bit of political wrangling started by two small group of writers and fans who felt the Hugo Awards weren’t being given to the kinds of sci-fi and fantasy which truly deserved it. Wired Magazine gave what seems to me to be the most objective account of this drama – or melodrama.

Design: Matthew Dockrey, Photo: David Bliss. Click photo for more works by David Bliss Photography

The vote-counting process is called Instant Runoff Voting and is the same one used by the Oscars. Some governments are also decided this way. Here are the numbers of votes for the 2015 Hugos.

Below are the 2015 winners in order of their wins, linked to Amazon so you can get some idea of what the books are like and can read samples of them and maybe buy them. Respectively they are alien invasion, high fantasy, space opera, urban fantasy, and epic space war.

The only vaguely odd book is the winner, written by a Chinese and first published in China. It is set in China during the Cultural Revolution, but does not glorify or vilify communism. The time and place is only the backdrop.

The Three-Body Problem
Goblin Emperor
Ancillary Sword
Skin Game
Dark Between the Stars

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BIG BANG THEORY WRITERS Comic-Con 2015 joint interview

I usually only post short videos. This one is nearly an hour long.

But my lady friend and I are huge Big Bang Theory fans, and we’ve always wondered what its writers were like.  We watched the whole video & were not bored. Especially we enjoyed the hilarious “GuthrapAmy” fan fiction which Miriam Bialik and Kunal Nayar read toward the end!

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Tango MILONGA: Sebastian Arce & Mariana Montes

The Argentine tango (contrary to myth) did not start in brothels. It began as a folk dance called the milonga in Uruguay and Argentina well before 1900. The music was in 2/4 time and the dance was bouncy and happy.

As often as not it was danced on dirt or grass in the beginning, at a picnic site, in a backyard, or in the patio of a tenement. Later it moved to bars where the floor might be uneven concrete or tile as often as wood. Because of these rough surfaces, each individual step was lifted and placed, not gliding close to a surface as in many ballroom dances.

The “steps” or patterns were very simple and the “hold” was close, perhaps little more than suggestive bumping and grinding. Later as the dance became more family oriented and done in polite society the hold became looser and the steps trickier.

Here are three videos of milongas done as show dancing, elaborate and at least partly choreographed. The first two couples are Sebastian Arce & his partner Mariana Montes, dancers from the age of eight. He lives in Russia, she in Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia where she teaches at the Tangomeet tango school. From those bases they travel all over Europe to perform and teach.

Sebastian Achaval & Roxana Suarez are friends who’ll soon be at the tango school.

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S. K. DUNSTALL, sci-fi discovery

I just discovered a new author whom I like very much: S. K. Dunstall – who is actually Sherylyn and Karen Dunstall. I highly recommend their first book: Linesman. It’s available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sources.

The story is space opera with many of the usual elements of the subgenre. However, the characters are believable, the writing spry but not hurried, and the story compelling. I read it straight through with few breaks for food or relieving hydraulic pressure. And I begrudged those breaks!

I eagerly await their sequel: Alliance, out February 23rd, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve pre-ordered it.

Click the cover images for more info.

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