April 7th, 2015

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Dysprosium!

I’m home from Dysprosium, which was a very pleasant weekend away. All my panels and things went well–the kaffesklatch was full!–and I spent most of the rest of the weekend at BarCon, without going to many panels, although I went to a few and had fun at them.

It was *great* to see Jim Butcher again, as it’d been since, like, 2008 or 2009 since we’d met up. It was also pretty funny to hear him telling stories about things I’d been there for, especially the origin of the Codex Alera, which I’d read the original proposal for, and about MUSHing, which…god, we were all nuts. :) Jim was describing it–text-based roleplaying in sometimes (usually) *many* different (effectively) chat rooms at once–and you could sort of hear this wave of incredulity roll through the audience. I was sitting with a friend, and he glanced at me as if to say “really?” and I was like “yeah, that’s actually exactly what we did. we all typed REALLY. REALLY. FAST.”

Anyway, so that was great fun, and we were on a panel together (me, Jim, Charlie Stross and Mike Carey. One of these things is not like the others. :}), which I don’t think we’d ever been before, and that was very enjoyable too. Also *laughs*

I had been debating bringing fudge to the con, but had said it was unlikely and then said it wasn’t going to happen, so the Dysprosium twitter feed posted this picture:

fudgeless

& said “the currently fudge-less CE Murphy talks urban fantasy vs paranormal romance,” and the whole thing got very silly, what with Jim’s grim expression clearly being from the lack of fudge and all. (“The face of a man who was told there would be fudge,” a mutual friend of ours said, and I was all like LIES I SAID THERE WOULD NOT BE FUDGE! :)) It was fun. :)

I got to really sit down and talk with a very nice woman whom I’d met at a couple of earlier British conventions, which was really lovely. I had dinner on Saturday with a bunch of Americans (and one Bulgarian) whom I’d met that day. Sadly, I had to leave them earlier than I might have otherwise because I have had the most ridiculously snotty cold in the history of ever, and early Saturday evening apparently it decided it wasn’t extruding from enough orifices and my eyes started gooping up in a truly remarkable manner. So I felt kind of badly about that, since we’d been having a good time, but man. (I’m pretty sure I was over the contagious stage by the time I got to the con. I hope so, because I would hate to have a thousand people with this much snot because of me…)

At some point during the weekend I was talking about something frustrating and that I had to let it go, and the guy walking past burst into song. I felt like Spike: “That phrase is ruined for all time.” Although actually I kind of love it when people burst into song, so it was all good. :)

(In fact, there may have been a brief but stirring rendition of “This Jesus Must Die” in the bar on Saturday evening, because I do tend to burst into song at the drop of a hat…)

I got to see a lot of friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and I inevitably didn’t get to spend enough time with all of them, but overall it was a really nice weekend, and I’m really glad I got to go.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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Recent Reads: A Little Princess

I’m pretty certain that if I’d been introduced to the idea of “desert island books” as a child, A LITTLE PRINCESS would have been on the short list. I can’t possibly count how many times I read it, although I either didn’t own it or had a hardback edition, because I did not, as I did with my paperback THE SECRET GARDEN, read it to literal pieces.

I re-read THE SECRET GARDEN last year and found it, if possible, even better than I had remembered it; A LITTLE PRINCESS is every bit as good as I remembered it. The tale of Sara Crewe’s reversals of fortune–from virtual princess to pauper to ‘rescued’–that was nearly all I could remember of it, going in–is as sweet and compelling as it ever was.

I honestly couldn’t remember how Sara was rescued until all the necessary players had been introduced, and my memory of her exile in poverty–or more particularly, the Magic that makes it bearable–made up a much greater portion of the book than it actually is. I’d also entirely forgotten how comparatively early the story is tipped to the reader: the reader knows what’s going on long before the characters do. These are not things that I recalled at all, and it’s funny to re-discover them.

I also hadn’t had any real memory of the similarities between Sara Crewe and Mary Lennox, except perhaps a vague recollection that India had featured in both their histories. But they’re described similarly, and both have the touch of Magic that, in Sara’s case, makes her exile bearable, and in Mary’s, helps return Colin to health. I suppose as a child I knew they had those things in common, but I’d long since forgotten, and their personalities are much more *unalike* than alike, so Burnett can’t be accused of recycling the character for ease of writing.

There are a couple of twitch-inducing moments, where an Indian man is described as being as light and deft as “only an Oriental could be,” but aside from that it actually ages extremely well.

I did not know until this very day that Burnett was a wildly successful novelist and playwright in her own lifetime, nor that she wrote many, many books for adults as well as the children’s books that have been her lasting legacy. I’m going to have to search out a couple of her adult books, just to have a go at them!

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)