Never Let Me Go – Book & Movie

I read the book first, then saw the movie a couple weeks later. Both were great but left entirely different and somewhat conflicting impressions. The author of the book, a Nobel prize winner, Kazuo Ishiguro, also had a hand in the making of the movie, which makes the unusual disparity even stranger.

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A New Mass Effect Fic: The Precedent

Two years before Eden Prime, Saren enlists Nihlus’s help to get an old friend out of some serious trouble. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg. How far will he go to ensure the success and secrecy of his misguided quest?

This is the story I timidly announced some time ago. I’ve been brewing the concept for it since 2013, but only dared try my hand with it now. Writing it was surprisingly smooth and easy (though it did take three months of daily work). It seems I’ve forgotten, again, what a joy it is to write new stories, compared to the struggle of continuing and/or salvaging the old. Despite the dark themes, The Precedent was a breath of fresh air.

Read it here, or on AO3.

Image: I was wrong by PaleCaesar

Semiosis

I read the Semiosis duology by S. Burke and I loved it. It’s about a small colony of humans on another planet, Pax, their adventures with indigenous and visiting life-forms and in some ways even more alien fellow humans from distant Earth, which had been ravaged by the failing ecology and wars. The books comprising the series, Semiosis and Interference, are thoroughly engrossing, often unpredictable, subtly satirical, and gently suspenseful.

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Sentence Length Colorizer for Microsoft Word

In the image above is a famous quote from Gary Provost’s “100 Ways to Improve Your Writing”. One of them is to avoid stacking sentences of the same length one after another, since that makes for boring reading. Coloring the text based on sentence length is a useful visual tool to help an author or an editor identify such potentially boring passages and revise them. I found several web-based tools that do this (here’s an example) but I don’t much like the mechanics of pasting my text into a browser, possibly many times, as I revise. There might also be some commercial products that offer this service, but I didn’t research that.

Instead, I made my own sentence length colorizer for Microsoft Word, and if you’d like, you can use it too!

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Stim — An Autistic Anthology

I have read Stim — An Autistic Anthology edited by L. Huxley-Jones and it was a breath of fresh air after suffering through the boredom of Le Carrre’s The Honorable Schoolboy, the relentless misery of R. F. Kuang’s The Poppy War series and the cringe-inducing annoyance with A. Romig’s The Light series, which were seriously threatening my recently reacquired reading enthusiasm.

Stim is a loose collection of stories and essays written by autistic authors. Most are about autism, in one way or another; some are biographical, others pure fiction, and I have seen some reviews that took issue with this diversity. It didn’t bother me even a little. They’re all excellently written and with a few exceptions, they all held my interest and felt fairly relatable. None stood out as extraordinary, something to remember for a long time or in any detail, but the anthology as a whole made for consistently enjoyable reading.

The one thing I will remember for a long time I actually stumbled upon in the epilogue, where the editor gives an overview, in broad strokes, of what autism is all about. To my delight, while explaining the elusive concept of “a special interest”, they use Mass Effect as an example, and I assume it’s one of their own. The mention of my own long-time obsession in this context still makes me smile.

Another thing that sets this book apart for me, is that I helped crowdfund it through Unbound and seeing my name among the contributors at the end made me very proud. I’m glad Stim could raise the funds necessary to get published and I hope many readers will find it as uplifting as I did.

Image: Celestial by PlanetaryStudios