The Contest is still running, but I thought it time for another post. I probably won’t post a lot this coming week since we have more job candidates in and I have tests. I really enjoyed most of my week off, although I was pretty sick from last Sunday through Tuesday. I got a lot of reading done and plenty of sleep, though, and a fair amount of writing. I managed to visit blogs every day. Here’s what I read:
The Narrows by Michael Connelly. This is the first book I’ve read by him. It featured a recurring character named Harry Bosch, who is a private detective in this story and who stumbles upon the key to a serial killer case. The book is a sequel to a book called The Poet, the “Poet” being the serial killer. I liked the book and will read others of his. However, he did one thing that bothered me, although I got used to it over time. Part of the book is told in first person by Bosch, but parts are told in third person and feature the character Rachel Walling, an FBI agent who has dealt with the Poet before. Although the book was enjoyable, I was disconcerted by the switching from first to third person.
Then I got on a western kick and read He Rode Alone by Steve Frazee and Gunsmoke by Wade Hamilton. Both were enjoyable. I also started Three Rode South by Jake Foster, but only made it 8 pages before abandoning it. The lesson, don’t make your first 8 pages consist primarily of an info dump of background information. There was even the dreaded “as you know” type dump. That happened on page 2.
Continuing with the western theme, I’ve started All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Beautifully written, but it took me 25 pages to figure out what the hell was happening. McCarthy doesn’t make it easy on you. I’m around 100 pages now and it’s going pretty well, although I wish he’d stop being a "literary writer" long eough to use quotation marks around his dialogue. There’s no sense in it. Still, the prose itself makes the read worth some effort.
In other news, I’ll be a guest at this year’s Babel Con, in Baton Rouge. They’ve talked me into doing three presentations, which I’ve listed below. Join us if you can.
Alien Evolution II
Most of the Aliens that stalk popular science fiction films and TV are based on earth-like forms, especially reptiles and mammals. True aliens would be quite different, although there are some earth forms that might make good models for filmmakers and writers to follow. Come join a presentation and discussion about what is wrong, and right, about the way creative artists currently feature aliens, and about how an understanding of actual evolution could help us develop better extraterrestrials.
Blessed With Nightmares - Using Dreams to Enhance Creativity
Besides being fun for us all, dreams and nightmares contain both imagery and meaning that can help creative artists and writers ignite their imaginations. But first you have to remember them. This presentation will talk about the biological and psychological basis of dreams and dream disorders, suggest some ways for people to improve their recall of dreams, and also discuss where the meaning comes from in dreams.
Beyond Fear - The Psychology of Terror
Some people like scary stories while others hate them. Why the differences? And for those who like scary stuff, what is the attraction? This presentation will discuss a trilogy of dark emotions: Fear, Horror, and Terror. How are they similar, and different? And what are the biological and psychological forces that underlie them? Finally, how can these emotions be used to help writers and other creative artists strengthen their work?