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Yesterday is a blur, a squall of images in my mind. And I have to try to sort it into a coherent entry. No, I do not have to, but I choose to try.

1. The work part of yesterday was spent going over the production notes from Audible.com for The Red Tree. A number of minor edits and rewrites had to be made, things that worked in print but not being read aloud, and there were some corrections. I am told that the target release date for all the Audible.com adaptations of my novels (except Silk, which they won't be doing, at least not for now), is April 27th. After I was finished talking to my contact at Audible, I spoke with my editor at Penguin, to see if the corrections could be incorporated into the mass-market paperback of The Red Tree, due out later this year. She talked with the production manager, who said yes. Also, I was told the corrections would likely be made in a second printing of the trade paperback, if there is a second printing. Just the mention of the possibility made me hopeful, as it means the book must be selling halfway decently, or my editor wouldn't have bothered even to mention a second printing. Anyway, if you want the original text, you'll need to pick up the first printing of the trade, the one on sale now.

2. A goodly portion of yesterday was spent following the news coming out of Haiti, what little news is coming out of Haiti. The scope of the disaster is staggering, and horrific. Officials are now reporting that the death toll in Haiti may be somewhere between 100,000-500,000 lives lost thus far. This in a nation with a population of only about ten million. So, in a single earthquake, between one and five percent of the population may have perished. Let's assume the more conservative number and say 100,000. Even the worst natural disaster in American history doesn't come close. The death toll for the "Great" San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was about 3,000. The Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, only 739. The Tri-State Tornado of 1925, only 925 fatalities. In 1871, the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin (same date as the Chicago fire) killed 1,200 to 1,500 people. The 1900 Galveston hurricane killed about 8,000 people, and Katrina resulted in 1,836 confirmed deaths. The 1811-1812 series of three stupendous earthquakes along the New Madrid Fault (halfway between St. Louis and Memphis, beneath the Mississippi River), which shook the entire United States, killed only a few thousand people (thanks to low population density at the time). In terms of actual deaths directly attributable to any single event, nothing in America even comes close to what is happening in Haiti. Understand, I do not intend to make light of any of these events and their consequences. I'm just trying to put all this in perspective for myself.

3. Yesterday, on the way to the market, we stopped just off Point Street so I could get more photos of the ongoing demolition of the old I-195 overpass. After viewing the devastation in Haiti, it felt very...odd. This time, I photographed the overpass from the western side (my first set of photos were taken from the eastern side). The photos are below, behind the cut. It was bitter cold, and the sky looked like a slab of polished slate (darker than it appears in the photos). As we were pulling into the parking lot, it began to snow very lightly. Spooky made chili for dinner. We watched four more episodes of Fringe, finishing up Season One.

4. There was a little Second Life rp last night. And something has occurred to me, one reason that I dislike the "urban fantasy" sims in SL. In worlds where demons, angels, werewolves, "nekos," vampires, fairies, and pretty much any other mythical being you can think of all walk the street and rub shoulders, the effect is that the marvelous and terrifying quickly becomes mundane. It's possible, in this scenario, that by inversion the ordinary could be elevated to the level of marvelous and terrifying, except that's not what happens. The ordinary becomes extra-mundane. And in a world of monsters, you have hundreds of players who seem not even half aware of the possibility of wonder or awe. It's all cartoon sex, street gangs, and cynical indifference to the Weird. Which is something worse than sad. Fantasy in the wrong hands...

5. Let me remind you that, tomorrow night, I will be reading from "Houses Under the Sea," at the Lovecraft Unbound reading being hosted by the Montauk Club in Brooklyn, NY (in the historic 120 year-old Ballroom at the Montauk Club, 25 Eighth Avenue, Park Slope, adjacent to Grand Army Plaza). Admission is $5 for non-members, and the reading begins at 8 p.m. EST, with a social hour and tour of the building afterwards. Seating is limited. As I have said, this will likely be my last public appearance until Readercon this summer. I will sign any books you feel like bringing along.

And here are the overpass photos:













All photographs Copyright © 2010 by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Comments

( 22 comments — Have your say! )
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jan. 14th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)

An acquaintance of mine built New Toulouse. And it's a beautiful build. But...yeah.
scarletboi
Jan. 14th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
I wish there were a compelling reason for people to play "human" characters in those sims. I wonder though, if it would do anything to break up the overall monotony of the odd, since of course the mortals would all be "special" mortals themselves.

The power of the other is diminished through familiarity. What once was terrifying or alluring is now just the way of the world.

NPC mortals only lessen this to a certain extent when you have a large number of players...
greygirlbeast
Jan. 14th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)

I wish there were a compelling reason for people to play "human" characters in those sims.

I have tried. It's just...worse than pointless.

The power of the other is diminished through familiarity. What once was terrifying or alluring is now just the way of the world.

Well said.

NPC mortals only lessen this to a certain extent when you have a large number of players...

Agreed. And NPCs don't really work in SL.
scarletboi
Jan. 15th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
I have tried. It's just...worse than pointless.

Humanity is relegated to the role of snack in those sims. Most of the players are on a power trip, and they do horrible, awful things to mortals (and any other creature they can dominate) just to prove they can, which is rather like the twelfth infantry taking a three-hour detour to blow up a convenience store because it'd be "funny."

Vampires in particular, at least the ones rendered in the "traditional" mode of the last hundred years, wouldn't do half the things they do in SL (including their crazy dress, but I guess we have to suspend some disbelief based on the medium) just because it would call attention to them... And like Agent K said: "a person is smart. People are dumb, panicky animals."
thimbleofrain
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC)
“With every choice you make, you will alienate some people.”

Which pretty much sums up the act of writing a novel.

Only if people will read it.

“Have someone else do it. They might even do a better job with it because they wouldn’t feel so invested in the character as she was on the page, in your imagination. Unless you simply couldn’t stand seeing her turned into a property like that.”

That would depend on the financial arrangement.

It’s easier to sell a screenplay for something if you first write a book about it and get it published. So you’ve already done the hardest part, seems to me.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)

Okay...took me a moment to realize these are responses to yesterday's entry.

Only if people will read it.

No...not really. I view a novel much the way I view any time- or worldline. An infinitude of possibilities lies ahead of me. As the writer, every word I lay down, reduces an infinitude to a mere multitude. I may not have made myself clear, as there's not a one-to-one correspondence between what you were saying and what I was saying. I just saw a certain similarity. But yes, of course the issue of alienation only arises if we assume readers are permitted the opportunity to enter the equation.

It’s easier to sell a screenplay for something if you first write a book about it and get it published. So you’ve already done the hardest part, seems to me.

That's not necessarily true. Most screenplays are not adaptations from print. In fact, unless a book did very, very well, it has little (not zero, but little) chance of being adapted these days.

thimbleofrain
Jan. 14th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
No...not really. I view a novel much the way I view any time- or worldline. An infinitude of possibilities lies ahead of me. As the writer, every word I lay down, reduces an infinitude to a mere multitude. I may not have made myself clear, as there's not a one-to-one correspondence between what you were saying and what I was saying. I just saw a certain similarity. But yes, of course the issue of alienation only arises if we assume readers are permitted the opportunity to enter the equation.

Sorry. I was trying to be funny at my own expense. Sometimes I feel like I’m writing a novel no one will ever read.

I agree with what you are saying, about how the act of completion is also the elimination of possibility and, by extension, hope. I hadn’t really thought about it that way before. Maybe that’s why seeing your book in print can be such an emotionally neutral thing. (I’ve experienced this as well.) Even if a killing needed to be done, and there was joy in the struggle, should there be joy in the outcome?

That's not necessarily true. Most screenplays are not adaptations from print. In fact, unless a book did very, very well, it has little (not zero, but little) chance of being adapted these days.

Easier,
not necessarily easy. And it certainly doesn’t hurt, particularly with this type of story. Look at all of the small comics that have been made into movies, sometimes even pretty big ones (Men in Black, for example). The prototype that I have in mind for Alabaster is The Crow. I think it could have a similar appeal.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 15th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)

Sometimes I feel like I’m writing a novel no one will ever read.

I always feel that way.

Even if a killing needed to be done, and there was joy in the struggle, should there be joy in the outcome?

Depends...

Easier, not necessarily easy. And it certainly doesn’t hurt, particularly with this type of story. Look at all of the small comics that have been made into movies, sometimes even pretty big ones (Men in Black, for example). The prototype that I have in mind for Alabaster is The Crow. I think it could have a similar appeal.

Well, I think the fact that most produced screenplays are not based on books or short stories (or graphic novels), demonstrates that no, that's not the case. That it makes it easier, I mean. If someone wants to sell a screenplay, they have a better chance writing screenplays. But, yes, I can see how a Dancy graphic novel might have a certain. Mostly, I just try not the think about my books in relation to Hollywood these days. My experiences in that area have not been good ones.
thimbleofrain
Jan. 15th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
I always feel that way.

I find this both comforting and depressing.

If someone wants to sell a screenplay, they have a better chance writing screenplays. But, yes, I can see how a Dancy graphic novel might have a certain {appeal}. Mostly, I just try not the think about my books in relation to Hollywood these days. My experiences in that area have not been good ones.

If you only look at stories about supercharged badasses and you expand the term “based on” to “loosely based on,” the percentages go up quite a bit, I think. And this story is already written. But if the idea doesn’t intrigue you...

After reading the first of the Dancy stories, I thought, “I’d like to see a serialized comics series based on this.” But comics don’t really sell anymore either.
txtriffidranch
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
I didn't think that you were making light of the Haiti earthquake: if anything, it gave a very good perspective in measurements that most Americans can grasp. Back in the Nineties, I was working for the Bureau of Land Management, and I had a very interesting conversation with one of the senior geologists at the BLM about earthquake and volcano eruption preparedness in the Pacific Northwest. Even though we've had one big Mount St. Helens eruption in our lifetimes (and I could see another if I live to be 100), and Mounts Hood and Rainier could go off at any time, she explained that everyone was in denial about the situation. Even then, the casualties, if Portland was hit with a bad earthquake (and the Tualatin Mountains on the west side of the city confirm that it could have a bad one) would still only probably lead to about 10,000 to 20,000 deaths, and maybe 40,000 if Seattle were hit during rush hour.

That's where human recognition of these sorts of casualties runs short. Most of us have never been in any situation where you've seen more than maybe 1000 people at a time, where you can actually view them. With big protests and musical events, maybe up to 100,000. Picturing five times that many dead, with so many more that could die in the next few weeks or months from injuries, trauma, or secondary causes (silicosis, among other things), is something we're just not wired to grasp. And I fervently hope that we never get to the point, as a species, where we could grasp it.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)

I didn't think that you were making light of the Haiti earthquake: if anything, it gave a very good perspective in measurements that most Americans can grasp.

That was part of my hope and intent.

That's where human recognition of these sorts of casualties runs short. Most of us have never been in any situation where you've seen more than maybe 1000 people at a time, where you can actually view them. With big protests and musical events, maybe up to 100,000. Picturing five times that many dead, with so many more that could die in the next few weeks or months from injuries, trauma, or secondary causes (silicosis, among other things), is something we're just not wired to grasp.

Precisely. And you have a very good point about the threat of silicosis. I have seen reports that a "mushroom cloud," composed primarily of pulverized concrete and plaster, was visible about Port-au-Prince immediately after the quake.
stephenhsegal
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
the marvelous and terrifying quickly becomes mundane

I'll never forget the moment the sadness of this phenomenon hit me. I was in the gem & mineral hall at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, one of my favorite and most magical spaces anywhere. All these incredible, beautiful, ancient growths of the earth displayed in all their glory. I was looking at a display case that held a big, heart-sized rock that was like a geode's more amazing cousin: the bottom half was an organic, bubbled cluster of opaque near-spheres, and the top was a crown-like formation of angular crystal spikes sparkling fiercely in the light. As I'm gawking over how fantastic it is, a ten-year old boy runs up, presses his face agaist the glass, looks at it for two seconds, then sneers, "That's not real," and dashes off.

It would be one thing if the kid just wasn't impressed. But no -- the thing was just so incredibly awesome that he immediately concluded it was just special effects, and therefore not worth considering.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)


It would be one thing if the kid just wasn't impressed. But no -- the thing was just so incredibly awesome that he immediately concluded it was just special effects, and therefore not worth considering.


Yeah, I've seen a lot of that sort of thing in natural history museums, both in the US and the UK. It leaves me speechless, and feeling like I ought to have words to mend other peoples' malfunctioning awe. Isn't that my job?
martianmooncrab
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
news coming out of Haiti,

what I find interesting is that there is no news coming out of the Dominican Republic which shares the same island, as if they werent even near it.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)

what I find interesting is that there is no news coming out of the Dominican Republic which shares the same island, as if they weren't even near it.

Good point.
robmacanthony
Jan. 14th, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC)
The government of the Dominican Republic has said there is no damage from the earthquake in that country. If that's true, it just goes to show what a dramatic difference poverty makes in terms of how natural disasters like this affect a people.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 14th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)

If that's true, it just goes to show what a dramatic difference poverty makes in terms of how natural disasters like this affect a people.

True. Also, though, there could also possibly be geological factors at work.
cucumberseed
Jan. 14th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
Which is something worse than sad. Fantasy in the wrong hands...

Is a terrifying thing.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 14th, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)

Is a terrifying thing.

Indeed. Just like plutonium. And mayonnaise.
geekers
Jan. 14th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure if I missed something as I am reading an commenting on my handheld, but...

Officials are now reporting that the death toll in Haiti may be somewhere between 100,000-500,000 lives lost thus far. This in a nation with a population of only three million. So, in a single earthquake, between 1/30th and 1/6th of the population may have perished

The CIA Factbook claims the country has a population of 9,035,535. Wikipedia has a 2009 estimate listed as 10,033,000. Perhaps you were referring to the metro area of Port-au-Prince specifically, which Wikipedia lists as 1,728,100 people?

And the estimates I've seen today were 45,000-50,000, expected to climb to 100,000+.

Regardless, a terrible tragedy/situation. :(
greygirlbeast
Jan. 14th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)


The CIA Factbook claims the country has a population of 9,035,535. Wikipedia has a 2009 estimate listed as 10,033,000. Perhaps you were referring to the metro area of Port-au-Prince specifically, which Wikipedia lists as 1,728,100 people?


Clearly, I screwed up something.

And the estimates I've seen today were 45,000-50,000, expected to climb to 100,000+.

Haitian officials were quoted at 100k, and the 500k figure came from the APA.
geekers
Jan. 14th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
The 45k-50k estimate I saw was early this morning and had the Red Cross' name attached. It sounded like they were certainly leaving the estimate open, sadly, to grow to a larger number. I have forced myself to stop refreshing Google news and the like, and attempted to focus on work the rest of the day, so I wouldn't be surprised that the estimate is as high as 100k-500k by now.
( 22 comments — Have your say! )