Latest Vorkosiverse story from LOIS MCMASTER BUJOLD

Anything new from grand master Lois McMaster Bujold is a cause for celebration. I hastened to download her latest story in her Vorkosigan Universe series. THEN I celebrated.

Click the image to read an excerpt and to buy the story.

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Eric Flint’s RING OF FIRE press

I’m a big fan of the 1632 Universe created by Eric Flint. I’ve read all the novels in the series, and they inspired me to write my own alternate-history series: The Shapechanger Tales.

Recently I discovered that Flint created the Ring of Fire press, an organization which publishes short novels published originally in the online subscription service The Grantville Gazette. This service is a place for shorter fiction taking place in the 1632 universe. Each issue also includes one or two short articles exploring some part of the universe. For $4.20 a month the Gazette is a real bargain.

So far I’ve read and recommend the following. My favorite perhaps is the first. Click on the images to read the first few chapters.

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LAER’S POLITICS – complex, not red or blue

In these highly political times I’ve decided to openly declare my politics. They are complex, because the universe is complex. They are NOT binary: black or white (or red or blue). Or liberal or conservative.

I am liberal AND conservative. AND moderate, a rare bird in these divisive times, where you must be one or the other.

On most SOCIAL issues I’m liberal. On ECONOMIC issues I’m moderate. And on most DEFENSE issues (personal and national) I’m conservative. My personal flag is red AND white AND blue.

At the base is defense. At the personal level, I interpret the 2nd amendment right to bear arms as applying to personal defense, not as applying to militias as the founders viewed it. I also believe that for every right come responsibilities, the chief among them to act wisely. (To see more click PERSONAL defense.)

At the national level, I support a leaner and more effective defense. I believe we need to focus less on hugely expensive weapons, and more on ground troops and cyberwar. (To see more click NATIONAL defense.)

After our physical survival is assured we must consider our fiscal survival. Economies are cybernetic systems. History has shown that massive top-down control of economies (socialism) is largely a failure. Bottom-up controls (capitalism) is much more effective. But only if some top-down controls ensure certain endemic ills of capitalism are prevented. Small businesses, for instance, like all infants, must be protected from big-business predators. (To see more click ECONOMICAL issues.)

Physical and fiscal survival supports our spiritual and social health. Racism is an evil we must aggressively fight – BUT with firmness not fanaticism. The same goes for religious intolerance and sexism. I am a feminist, because feminism is at its base about fairness. Not just to the women in our lives, but also to men. We have also been victimized by paternalism though obviously less so than women. (To see more click SOCIAL issues.)

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PROOF – marvelous movie about a female math genius

It’s rare that I highlight an old movie on this site. I usually focus on what’s soon to come out, or did so recently, and which you might not have discovered. But I recently rediscovered a fabulous older movie: Proof, a movie based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning play of the same name.

We SF/Fantasy fans like to read and write books about superheroes and geniuses, like the recent terrific Gifted and like Good Will Hunting. Proof is about a mathematical genius, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, the daughter of another genius. In it we discover that she has done original ground-breaking research of her own, and must fight to convince others that it is her work rather than the unpublished work of her recently passed-away father.

Besides a drama of a high order, I especially liked that it realistically shows what it’s like to be a genius, heir to all the weaknesses as well as the strengths that all of us share.

Proof is available streamed or on DVD from Amazon.

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A DAY IN THE OUTBACK – Elfhome short story

The terrific Elfhome series by Wen Spencer is one of my favorites. Each book actually improves on re-reading. Click on a book cover to read its first few chapters & to buy the book. Below is a short story I wrote in the same multiverse.

A Day in the Outback

by

Laer Carroll

Character: elf security guard named Freezing Winter Night on Stone

(click image to see larger view)

Heather Weatherly awoke surprised that she’d been able to fall asleep at all last night. Events today might make or break her dreams of a secure income, something in short supply in Pittsburgh since it had been transported to the planet of the elves almost 30 years ago.

She might also die today.

She raised her voice enough to trigger her house AI. “Hey, Mama Bear, report.”

“Two friendlies waiting outside. Day expected to be bright but cold. Eight mid-level important messages waiting. Shall I start breakfast?”

“Yes. Keva Mocha and toasted bagels.”

“Got it, Boss.”

That fucking cheerful morning voice. For the thousandth time Heather swore she was going to reprogram it.

She made her usual toilette, faster than usual but more careful for all that. It included very subdued but attractive makeup. Her Mama always told her to put on good warpaint before every important endeavor.

She dressed in a long-sleeved flannel shirt soft as a baby’s butt, sturdy jeans with sewn-in light composite leg armor, torso armor, groin protector, all-weather combat boots, and her gunbelt. She double checked the four magazine pockets on the belt, made sure their magazines were fully loaded with armor-piercing bullets, adjusted the angle of her combat and utility knife, and jacked the slide of her Armstrong Special semiauto to ensure it was fully loaded and ready for action. Over it all she slung a composite-armored leather jacket with lots of pockets.

By this time the smell of coffee permeated her house. She double-checked the identity of the “friendlies” waiting outside. As expected, it was the two near-sekasha of the Stone Clan she’d hired from Steelcity Security for a week with an option to extend it to a month. They were Freezing Winter Night on Stone and Baking Summer Day on Stone, a female and a male.

Continue HERE

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The fabulous TANGO VALS

The third of the three types of Argentine tango is in 3/4 time: the tango vals. It has a fast tempo, so tango dancers typically only step on the first of the ONE-two-three beats. They may add a step on the two or three beats or both to add rhythmic variety.

The feeling is romantic and happy. It’s often used as a wedding dance, especially the first example: Desde el Alma (From the Soul) written by pianist, composer, and poet Rosita Melo at the age of 14.

The next couple are two of the leading traveling tango teachers and performers: “Chicho” Frumboli and Juana Sepulveda.


As a bonus here’s a brilliant milonga by them.

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Two fun TANGO MILONGAS

The Argentine tango comes in three varieties, each using most of the same musical instruments and dance steps. Scores for the music typically have four, three, or two beats per measure, written with 4/4, 3/4, or 2/4 time signatures.

The 4/4 version of the music and dance are what most people think of when someone says Argentine tango. You’ll see it on the show Dancing with the Stars and similar programs.

The 2/4 version is bouncy and a bit fast. It’s called the milonga. Some people believe the tango evolved from the milonga, smoothing the steps and slowing their rhythm. Supporting this view, tango dance parties are also called milongas (confusing newcomers to the tango until they get used to the convention).

Here are two examples, a slow then a faster version of the milonga. The performers are two of the foremost teachers and performers: Sebastián Arce and Mariana Montes. Click this YouTube query for more milonga dance performances.

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GIFTED – wonderful movie about a seven-year old genius

Stories about super-smart kids (or adults) all-too-often portray them unrealistically. As eccentric in some way: socially inept, physically awkward, or downright ugly. The truth is that they are typically pretty much like everyone else. And like most of us have both ordinary and extraordinary needs and problems.

(For more about what very-smart people are really like see my post: REAL GENIUSES: What are they Like.)

The preview below lays out the basic problem the two main characters are faced with: how to bring up a genius.

Frank (played very convincingly by Chris Evans) fears a repeat of what happened to his sister, who killed herself shortly after giving birth to Mary (very believably acted by Mckenna Grace). Grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan in a nuanced performance) fears Mary will be denied her potential by Frank’s insistence that his niece have a normal childhood instead of the intensely intellectual one his sister had.

How the two good people battle to a solution is a compelling story. I was impressed at the many subtle reveals and grace notes of the script by Tom Flynn and the realization by director Marc Webb. Grace also makes an adorable child, good hearted but in some ways too smart and strong-willed for her own good.

Gifted is available as a Blu-ray and DVD discs and streamed.

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BARE-SKINNED SUPERHEROINE which is not silly

Here’s the first draft of an interior illustration for my Shapechanger book, The Super Olympian: Mystic Warrior. In it my heroine is asked to help an old friend who’s been captured by terrorists. The baddies are hiding in a jungle, so she changes her skin to blend in with the greenery and dons green clothing and selects a rifle with a camouflage stock.

Why is she showing so much skin? Isn’t that something I’ve knocked comics about? Because I came up a good reason for when bare skin is not silly after all. She has skin which is as hard as rubber when struck by a knife or pistol bullet. Still has to avoid rifle and machine-gun bullets, partly by stealth and partly by having supersenses and super-accurate return fire.

Click the image for an expanded view, and more of my superheroine images, including Katy Perry as superheroine Snow White.

 

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PERILOUS WAIF – great military SF

In a far future Alice Long is a 14-year-old orphan on jungle planet Gaia. Her nun-like Matrons would disapprove of the body-mods she has if they knew about them. An accident reveals some, plus the fact that the brain-washing they gave her didn’t make her a docile naturist.

Escaping a heavier brain washing, she travels 2000 miles through dangerous jungle to the planet’s spaceport and manages to get off planet by rescuing the pilot of a space shuttle from would-be kidnappers.

So begins adventures among the stars in Perilous Waif, in a Star-Wars-like future. Almost all humans are modified, and they share ships and worlds with AIs with human and humanoid bodies. Alice makes friends and discovers more about herself and the mystery of where she came from. There’s plenty of action, including a few space battles, but the people are what makes this story special. And me want to recommend to you.

Preview ebook paperback

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