Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Evolving understandings of racism, preferred terminology and historical fiction

I participated briefly in a very interesting exchange on Twitter on the term "gypsy" a week or so ago, mostly by reading the thread, but I did ask one question, one I'd love to get some more thoughts and answers on.

The question I was trying to ask, though I don't think I worded it very well then was about historical fiction. I'm asking it again here in hopes of getting some more responses and thoughts.

"How do you handle terms and attitudes that are now considered racist/inappropriate when dealing with a story set in a time when those attitudes were considered normal/acceptable?"

Personally, I lean on the side of authenticity - if the terminology or attitude was common in primary sources of the time then I don't see an issue with using it - if appropriate for the characters and storylines. Don't go using it just because you can. A fine line... But one that can be trodden I think. Examples include the Book of Negroes (TV series at least), and Outlander (books and TV series both).

I should note that the responses I got to the question when I asked it on Twitter ranged from "yes, authenticity is good, but add warnings so people can chose if they feel like dealing with the attitudes right now" to what felt like "don't write or read those stories. They're racist", though that was never actually said. A fair enough point, but doesn't that cut out most of the past then as fodder for writing?

At least if you don't want "modern characters in period dress" which is an issue I've felt with quite a lot of popular historical fiction, and those books tend to end up on my DNF pile pretty quickly. Not every character in a time period is going to be "enlightened" and "modern" by our standards. Is it realistic of us to expect that in our reading? and if so, doesn't that then construct false impressions of a particular time period?

I'm forever debating variations of this with people I know - mostly on topics of women's rights and legal standing in ancient Rome or Greece (I come down on the "that's the way it was, now how was it justified/accepted/understood in that time" side of the debate, vs. the "that's wrong, it never should have been that way, they're so backwards, how did we ever accept it" side of the debate, which to me gets in the way of trying to understand the way people thought and acted in the past).

This is a question I'm poking at a bit, trying to find an answer that works - I have dreams of one day writing a novel or two myself, and the ideas I have are mostly historically-oriented, so this is something I'm trying to figure out (around reading books about the times I'm interested in to try and lock down facts and ideas that I could use). Whether it'll actually happen or not, I don't know.

What solutions are there to this question? I'd love to know - and not actually being a writer, I'm sure I'm missing some ideas and options. Thing is, while I know I prefer "realism" in what I'm reading when it comes to historical fiction, I also don't want the books I like to be offensive to people either - thus trying to figure out the balancing act.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Judith Tarr blog post series

There's an ongoing series of blog posts by Judith Tarr, who wrote the e-book on Writing Horses: the Fine Art of Getting It Right, over on the TOR books website. This time the main thrust is what an alien society based on horses might look like. Makes for some fascinating reading, as she's been going on the topic for a few months now. What's more, the comment threads are just as interesting as the originating posts, which makes for a really nice treat in this day and age.

There are also some posts on other horse-related topics more geared towards fantasy writing and movies as well. I highly recommend any of her writings on the subject of horses, as well as her numerous novels.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover

Marion Zimmer Bradley's DarkoverMarion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover
Marion Zimmer Bradley
DAW Books
Copyright: 1993
088675930

The back jacket blurb:
A COLLECTION OF DARKOVER STORIES WRITTEN BY MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY HERSELF!
Return to Darkover, planet of the Bloody Sun, with this collection written solely by the originator of this exotic world, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and including two entirely new stories never before in print. From the Founding to the Ages of Chaos, to the era of the Hundred Kingdoms, to the time of Recontact, travel through the history of Darkover with the writer whose work has inspired so many others to enter her world. Fight alongside the Free Amazons, master the powers of laran with those who work the matrix crystals within their secluded towers, feel the magical pull of the Ghost Wind, explore the mysteries of this long-lost colony with those who come from beyond the stars, and experience all the wonder of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover.
Well, I found myself reading this one a lot sooner than I originally anticipated. As I'd thought, I quite enjoyed it too - though I know I need to re-read some of the full novels set in the world of Darkover now. I'd forgotten just who Dyan Ardais was, and also a lot of the finer points around Camilla, Kyria and the other Renunciates.

Some of the stories I recognized right off - though I couldn't tell you which anthologies they were from originally. Others seemed to be new to me - specifically some of the stories about Hillary. I think a couple of those were published in this volume for the first time.

Believe it or not, one of my favorite things about an anthology like this one are the various notes that begin each section. Especially for a set of short stories set in an already established world, where I can learn a few more tidbits about how that world came to be, and the author's thought processes. Seeing the origins for some of the Free Amazons, for example.

I don't know if this would be a good book for someone who's not already familiar with the world of Darkover. I suspect it, like all the other anthologies of Darkover stories, is really more for the fans who already know the world, have some favorite characters or regions and truly wish to explore more.

For myself, I'm wondering if it's now time to do a Darkover re-read. Anyone interested?

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Crucible of War 1939-1945: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force Volume III

The Crucible of War 1939-1945: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force Volume IIIThe Crucible of War 1939-1945: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force Volume III
Brereton Greenhous, Stephen J. Harris, William C. Johnston, and William G.P. Rawling
University of Toronto Press
Copyright Date: 1994
978-0802005748

The amazon.com product description:
Some 40 per cent of RCAF aircrew who served overseas during the Second World War did so in RACF squadrons. This is their story. The first RCAF squadron to see action in the Second World War was No. 1 Fighter Squadron, later to be No. 401, which from 18 August 1940 participated in the Battle of Britain. The last, in a still active theatre, were Nos. 435 and 436, delivering supplies in Burma until late August 1945. In between, RCAF squadrons served in all the major commands and in most major theatres of war. They were engaged by day and by night in air-to-air combat, strategic bombing, photo-reconnaissance, anti-shipping strikes and anti-submarine patrols, close air support, interdiction, and tactical airlift supply.
The Crucible of War is divided into five parts: Air Policy, the Fighter War, the Maritime Air War, the Bomber Air War, and the Air Transport War. The authors break new ground by demonstrating the influence of senior RCAF officers in shaping the execution of Canadian air policy, and they show how senior RCAF officer were permitted to determine the pace of Canadianization of the RCAF.
Many operations are described in detail from a wide variety of documentary sources, among them the unsuccessful battle of attrition that resulted from Fighter Command's offensive over France in 1941-42, and the actions of the RCAF's No 83 Group in Second Tactical Air Force, which provided air support for the British Second Army. Overdue notice is accorded the anti-shipping strike squadrons of Coastal Command. No 6 Group's battle with German night-fighters is recounted within the framework of complex electronic measures and counter-measures developed by both sides.
The RCAF, with a total strength of 4061 officers and men on 1 September 1939, grew by the end of the war to a strength of more than 263,000 men and women. This important and well-illustrated new history shows how they contributed to the resolution of the most significant conflict of our time.
The other volumes in the Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force are Canadian Airmen and the First World War by S.F. Wise (available) and The Creation of a National Air Force by W.A.B. Douglas (out of print)
Right off the bat, I have to say I don't think I'm ever going to read this one cover to cover. World War II history isn't my specialty. However, that's not why I bought it. Instead, I wanted to find out more about some family history. And for that, Crucible of War does wonderfully. It's very thoroughly indexed by event, squadron, location, just about every possible way of searching something I can think of. And that's why I'm recommending it. If you want information on a particular squadron or group, this is a great place to start hunting. Of course, I'm also going to recommend throwing those same pieces of information into Google. I did that and that's how I found out about Crucible of War. I also discovered various other bits of records I'd never seen before at the same time!

I've found far more in this book though than I have in many others on the topic of the RCAF - probably because none of the other books I hunted in were quite this specialized. Given that it's not too expensive to buy, especially used, I'm going to strongly recommend it, especially if you have a good idea of the information you're looking for. I wish I'd discovered Crucible of War a couple of decades ago, as this particular project is one I've been working on off and on for at least that long. I'm probably going to continue hunting down information well into the future too.

I can also see this potentially becoming a bit of a reference work for my work as an indexer - I've had a couple of books now on World War II.

Found at the Thrift Store: Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover

Marion Zimmer Bradley's DarkoverMarion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover
Marion Zimmer Bradley
DAW Books
Copyright: 1993
088675930

The back jacket blurb:
A COLLECTION OF DARKOVER STORIES WRITTEN BY MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY HERSELF!
Return to Darkover, planet of the Bloody Sun, with this collection written solely by the originator of this exotic world, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and including two entirely new stories never before in print. From the Founding to the Ages of Chaos, to the era of the Hundred Kingdoms, to the time of Recontact, travel through the history of Darkover with the writer whose work has inspired so many others to enter her world. Fight alongside the Free Amazons, master the powers of laran with those who work the matrix crystals within their secluded towers, feel the magical pull of the Ghost Wind, explore the mysteries of this long-lost colony with those who come from beyond the stars, and experience all the wonder of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover.
I'm pretty sure I've read most of these stories before, as they were published in a number of the Darkover anthologies that have come out over the years. Nonetheless, I don't own most of those books, so it'll be nice to have Marion Zimmer Bradley's stories collected together. I honestly have no idea of when I'm going to get around to reading this one however.

As I noted in my title, I found this one at a local thrift store, on a quick scan through their book section - something that's usually worth doing I find. I can't help but ask what your most recent thrift store/used bookstore find has been.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Arrows Flight - Mercedes Lackey

Arrow's Flight - Mercedes LackeyArrow's Flight
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright: 1987
978-0886773779

The amazon.com product description:
Follows the adventures of Talia as she travels the land as a Herald of Valdemar in the second book in the classic epic fantasy Arrows trilogy

Talia could scarcely believe that she had finally earned the rank of full Herald. Yet though this seemed like the fulfillment of all her dreams, it also meant she would face trials far greater than those she had previously survived. For now Talia must ride forth to patrol the kingdom of Valdemar, dispending Herald's justice throughout the land.

But in this realm beset by dangerous unrest, enforcing her rulings would require all the courage and skill Talia could command—for if she misused her own special powers, both she and Valdemar would pay the price!
Arrow's Flight is the sequel to Arrows of the Queen, Mercedes Lackey's introductory book in the world of Valdemar. It's also a book I've read and re-read many times. The most recent re-read can be found here. I should also note that I chose to re-read this one now for the Valdemar Reading Challenge that I run every year.

Either way, the last few times I've picked up Arrow's Flight, I've found more and more that there are parts of the book that irritate me a bit - mostly the fact that much of it seems to be misunderstanding central - and yet, each of those misunderstandings seems to build logically off the of the last. Of course, there are also plenty of amusing moments and we see Heralds on circuit in detail.

There were a few details that had me going "how is this supposed to work?" on this read through, one of which was the "fumigation bombs" that Kris and Talia use in the waystations. I couldn't help but think of the possibility of one setting the place on fire inadvertently if it landed in the wrong place/something had been knocked over and the like. Other than that, as someone else pointed out, much of the book is two people talking about a third person not currently with them - mostly foreshadowing for the third book.

Other than that, it was neat to see the Queen relaxing, and to get a first glimpse of Eldan, who we see primarily in parts of By The Sword, and also IIRC in Owlsight. I have to say, this is also the book that makes me want to hear some of the music described - namely Sun and Shadow. Think I'm going to have to head for YouTube to see if I can find some recordings of this or some of the other music that goes with the world of Valdemar. It's a bit hard to believe, but I've been reading these books for more than twenty years now, known about the music for a while, but never taken the time to go hunting for any of it before.

Arrow's Flight is definitely a "middle book" if you know what I mean, and sets up some of the situations for the third book, Arrow's Fall. Still, it's a read that I enjoyed, and I'm quite disappointed that part of the cover of my copy fell apart on this read. And I've since discovered that part of the cover on my copy of Arrow's Fall is missing too - I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the condition of my books.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes Lackey

Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes LackeyArrows of the Queen
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright Date: 1987
978-0886773786

The amazon.com product description:
Follows the adventures of Talia as she trains to become a Herald of Valdemar in the first book in the classic epic fantasy Arrows trilogy

Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen’s own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense.

But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason that could destroy Queen and kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the Queen’s heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen’s own foes. 
The very first Mercedes Lackey I ever read if my memory's not playing tricks on me (I know the date is more or less correct as I remember the waits for the third of the Gryphon set and also for the later Mage Storms books to be published), back in the mid '90's. I've been hooked ever since! I remember initially borrowing this trilogy (Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight and Arrow's Fall) from my local library and renewing it twice (I wanted to re-read the books right away). At any rate, I chose to re-read this one now for the Valdemar Reading Challenge I've been running again this year.

Arrows of the Queen was the first book Mercedes Lackey wrote in this world and it is still one of the best entry-points I think. We, along with Talia, get introduced to the basic concepts of how this world and the country of Valdemar work, along with a brief history of it. In some ways it's a bit idealistic, but not by too much - I could wish more of the countries in the "Real World" worked as well as Valdemar seems to.

When I was borrowing Arrows of the Queen and the other Valdemar novels from the library, this trilogy was shelved with the YA books. I still think that it's equally as good a read for the teen audience as the adult fantasy readers. For the most part there's nothing too, too graphic in them, and many of the issues that Talia and the other characters face may resonate with younger readers - though I wouldn't suggest much younger than teens.

Like most of the other Valdemar-based novels, this is one that I can nearly always come back to and enjoy no matter how I'm feeling.

All of what I said here has been said previously in my earlier review of this book, found here. Honestly, I expect I'll be saying it again in some future year too. I've lost count of how many times I've re-read this one.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The latest book to join my collection - The Oxford Inklings

The newest book arrival to join my Tolkien collection turned up yesterday.
The Oxford Inklings - Colin Duriez
The Oxford Inklings
Colin Duriez
Lion Hudson
Copyright date: 2015
978-0745956343

The amazon.com product description:
A unique account of one of history's most intriguing literary groups, which will find itself on the reading list of every serious Tolkien, Lewis, or Inkling fan
The Inklings were an influential group, along the lines of the Lake Poets or the Bloomsbury Group. Acclaimed author Colin Duriez explores their lives, their writings, their ideas, and, crucially, the influence they had on each other. Examining the clear purpose behind the group while celebrating its diversity and lack of formality, Duriez explains how this eclectic group of friends, without formal membership, agenda, and minutes, could have a program that shaped the publication and ideas of the leading participants. The Inklings met weekly for many years in Oxford, to discuss and read their writings—conversation was as important to them as writing—and so the city of Oxford, and its pubs where conversations were borne out, feature, as does the Christian faith of the defining members, which influenced them greatly. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were at the group's center, but who else was involved, and why do Owen Barfield and Charles Williams matter so much? The Oxford Inklings explores the complex and fascinating interactions of the group, including the women on the fringes, such as Dorothy L. Sayers and Lewis's wife, Joy Davidman.
I have to admit, I'm curious about this book. Mostly though, I want to see how it compares with Humphrey Carpenter's The Inklings. I've long considered his Tolkien biography to be the gold standard as it were - though I do own other biographies, I just haven't gotten around to reading them yet.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Inherited - Lily Burlington

The Inherited - Lily BurlingtonThe Inherited - Book 1
Lily Burlington
Inkitt
Copyright Date: September 9, 2017
B0753S3X57

The amazon.com product description:
One second Catherine believes that she is a normal girl, the next she finds herself betrothed to a Prince. Together they are thrust into a world of political intrigue, ancient oaths, & deadly mystery.

All Cat wants is to make it through her final exams and to get into a good university but that is put on hold when two men show up on her doorstep and tell her she is the last descendant of an ancient and forgotten royal bloodline. Not only that, but they offer her the chance of a lifetime trip to spend the summer living it up in castles and yachts off the coast of France. The only hitch is that she has to be a brooding prince's arm candy.

A summer of parties and beaches changes faster than the tides when old secrets begin to be unearthed and blood binding decrees are called upon.

Can truth and love survive when the path to the throne and crown is riddled with deception and daggers?
First of all, I want to note that I got an ARC for this book through Inkitt in return for a review. That said, on with the review.

The Inherited - book one is definitely a "first book". There are plenty of loose ends left for the rest of the series. Right off the bat, it reminded me of The Selection by Kiera Cass. It's a quick read, but, for the most part, it kept my attention. However, there was one issue that honestly should have been caught before it got to this stage. First of all, while the description above calls the main character Catherine, all through the actual book she's called Winnifred or Fred. Her mother's name also changes through the book. It's a minor thing, but I have to admit that it's definitely a bit jarring.

In spite of that, this was a very readable book, and I wouldn't mind finding out what's going to happen in the next one. It definitely seems as though most of the meatier plots of this book got left to be resolved in future titles. Also, I found that the characters grew on me a bit as the book progressed. I also found it very refreshing to not have a love-triangle set-up for once.

Like The Selection, The Inherited reads to me like a teen/Young Adult book, and I'd recommend it to that age group.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Reading - albeit not reviewing

I know I've been quiet when it comes to reviewing books for the last few months. I've been doing a bit of reading nonetheless. Just not reviewing. In part that's because I've been getting more work of late - and it's hard enough to find time to read, much less put together some thoughts on the books I've been reading. Also, I've been doing a bit of camping and traveling over the summer too.

Anyway, to try and play catch-up with my books, here are some of the books I've been reading over the summer. I will admit to having a bit of a problem with starting books and not finishing them. I can tell you that doesn't help when it comes to reviewing too.

Terry Fox - Leslie ScrivenerTerry Fox: His Story
Leslie Scrivener
McLelland and Stewart
Copyright: 2000
978-0771080197

The Amazon.com product description:
Terry Fox, the one-legged runner from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, made an indelible impression upon people across Canada and around the world. An outstanding athlete with a stubborn and competitive spirit, he lost his leg to cancer at 19, but said “nobody is ever going to call me a quitter.”

On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox set out from St. John’s, Newfoundland to begin the run across Canada that he named the Marathon of Hope. His ambition was to raise a million dollars for cancer research. It wasn’t easy. Initial support from communities varied from terrific to nothing at all. His prosthetic leg was painful to run on, and there were always traffic and extreme weather conditions to deal with. But, by the time he reached Ontario – a journey of more than 3,000 kilometres – word of his achievement had spread, and thousands cheered him and followed his progress. Terry’s spirits soared, and now he hoped to raise $22 million dollars – one dollar for every Canadian. He succeeded in this ambition, but the Marathon of Hope ended near Thunder Bay, Ontario on September 1, 1980. The cancer had spread to his lungs, and, after running 24 miles in one day, on the next he could run no further.

When cancer finally claimed his life in 1981, Canada mourned the loss of a hero, but the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope lives on. The Terry Fox Foundation raised more than $17 million in 1999, and support for the event nationally and around the world is growing.
I read this book after my husband recommended it to me and I really have to pass this recommendation along. It's a very well-written book that captures the attention right off and doesn't let go. It is something of a quick read however. At least I found that to be the case.

The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Ballantine Books
Copyright: 1984
978-0345350497

The amazon.com product description:
In Marion Zimmer Bradley's masterpiece, we see the tumult and adventures of Camelot's court through the eyes of the women who bolstered the king's rise and schemed for his fall. From their childhoods through the ultimate fulfillment of their destinies, we follow these women and the diverse cast of characters that surrounds them as the great Arthurian epic unfolds stunningly before us. As Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar struggle for control over the fate of Arthur's kingdom, as the Knights of the Round Table take on their infamous quest, as Merlin and Viviane wield their magics for the future of Old Britain, the Isle of Avalon slips further into the impenetrable mists of memory, until the fissure between old and new worlds' and old and new religions' claims its most famous victim.
I think this book was my first major exposure to the variations of the Arthurian stories. It's certainly shaped my impressions of how the story should go ever since. All I know at the moment is that it had been at least ten years or so since I'd last read it (or any of the other books in the Avalon saga). High time really. Now I kind of want to re-read Mercedes Lackey's take on the story - also from a woman's point of view.

The Ship Who Searched - Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes LackeyThe Ship Who Searched
Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey
Baen Books
978-1451638738

The amazon.com product description:
Special 20th Anniversary Edition, with a new introduction by Mercedes Lackey.  A beloved classic of romantic space adventure returns.  A novel of Anne McCaffrey’s Brainship series.  A young woman becomes paralyzed and must become a brainship—and find her Brawn, her human soul mate, so that she can discover a cure for her illness.

Tia Cade is a headstrong, smart, and very normal girl—until she contracts a terrible illness that leaves her with the bare semblance of life. Tia’s only hope: to become the oldest person ever to train to be one of the legendary star travelers, the brainships  But now that Tia is free of her ravaged body, there still remains the task of finding the right partner to be her Brawn, the human element every brainship requires. And when the disease that debilitated Tia threatens thousands more, selecting a Brawn who is her true soul mate may allow Tia to find the origin of the terrible plague—and perhaps even a cure.

20th Anniversary edition featuring a new introduction by Mercedes Lackey. 
The Ship Who Searched is my favorite of the whole Brainship series. Perhaps it's the way archaeology is woven through the story in this one that helps catch my attention. Not to mention the main character herself. Either way, this is the one that I end up re-reading the most often.

1633 - David Weber and Eric Flint1633
Eric Flint and David Weber
Baen Books
Copyright: 2003
978-0743471558

The amazon.com product description:
 AMERICAN FREEDOM AND JUSTICE
VS. THE TYRANNIES OF
THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

The new government in central Europe, called the Confederated Principalities of Europe, was formed by an alliance between Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, and the West Virginians led by Mike Stearns who were transplanted into 17th-century Germany by a mysterious cosmic accident. The new regime is shaky. Outside its borders, the Thirty Years War continues to rage. Within, it is beset by financial crisis as well as the political and social tensions between the democratic ideals of the 20th-century Americans and the aristocracy which continues to rule the roost in the CPE as everywhere in Europe.

Worst of all, the CPE has aroused the implacable hostility of Cardinal Richelieu, the effective ruler of France. Richelieu has created the League of Ostend in order to strike at the weakest link in the CPE's armor—its dependence on the Baltic as the lifeline between Gustav Adolf's Sweden and the rest of his realm.

The greatest naval war in European history is about to erupt. Like it or not, Gustavus Adolphus will have to rely on Mike Stearns and the technical wizardry of his obstreperous Americans to save the King of Sweden from ruin.

Caught in the conflagration are two American diplomatic missions abroad: Rebecca Stearns' mission to France and Holland, and the embassy which Mike Stearns sent to King Charles of England headed by his sister Rita and Melissa Mailey. Rebecca finds herself trapped in war-torn Amsterdam; Rita and Melissa, imprisoned in the Tower of London.

And much as Mike wants to transport 20th-century values into war-torn 17th-century Europe by Sweet Reason, still he finds comfort in the fact that Julie, who once trained to be an Olympic marksman, still has her rifle . . .
One for the alternate history fans out there... This is the second book in the series, following on 1632. Which is followed by many more books in the series as well as anthologies of short stories, all by different authors. The two books I've read feel pretty well researched and thought through. I'm going to suggest giving them a try some time.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

On the Shelf? Or on the Desk? - Reference works for Indexing

I've kept a more or less running list of my indexing-related reference works along with links to reviews for many of them on the Books and Resources for Indexers page here on my blog.

Here, I'm briefly noting the books I've found myself turning to to the most often on the subject, now that I've been indexing for a few years.

Side note as well: When I say "on the desk", for the most part I mean stacked on the floor around my desk-chair where I can reach the book easily. Right now, I've got two such stacks going :)

Indexing Names - Ed. Noeline BridgeI'm going to start with the book Indexing Names  edited by Noeline Bridge. When I'm working, this book spends more time on my desk than on the shelf - to the point where most of the time this book ends up staying on my desk - and I do actually mean "on the desk". I've also ended up buying a second copy in e-book format for times when I'm working away from my desk.

My original review can be found here.

In short, Indexing Names is a compilation of articles from the international journal The Indexer, each of which covers a different aspect of indexing names, be it names from specific cultures, such as Dutch, French, or ancient and medieval names. This is a book I honestly think is one that should be on any indexer's shelf in some form or another.

The Webster's New Biographical Dictionary. Yes, this is an older book and therefore is missing a lot of the newer names - and even quite a few older ones. Still, it's worth having on the shelf. Personally I find it faster to try looking in here first, and only afterwards go online to get answers. Most often I'm using it to find a first name to go with a surname or to find a name to go with a title. Frequently the Webster's New Biographical Dictionary is also useful for sorting out first names from last names so I can then invert for use in the index.

As I noted, this is an older book, and therefore it's pretty inexpensive.

Chicago Manual of Style - 16th EditionThe Chicago Manual of Style. This book covers far more than just how to index, but I must admit that that is the part of the book I use the most often. Right now, I have the 16th edition, but I understand that there is a seventeenth edition coming out in the near future (the beginning of September). Should be interesting to see what kind of changes it suggests for indexing standards.

Most but not all publishers use one of the recent editions of this book to set out their requirements for index formatting, so it's a good idea to have a copy (or more than one for the different versions) on the shelf. Like Indexing Names, which I've mentioned above, the Chicago Manual of Style has sections covering the indexing of names from different languages, titles and all sorts of little details that come up now and again in the process. Different methods of alphabetizing too, to name another example.

Indexing Books - Second Edition - Nancy MulvaneyHowever, my first "go-to" for any indexing-related question is still Nancy Mulvaney's Indexing Books Second Edition. I've reviewed it previously on my blog. From reminders of how to determine index lengths (also known as interpreting the publisher's instructions) to formatting the locators for footnotes and endnotes, she covers most topics related to book indexing thoroughly. There are some areas where updates could be made, however, for the most part, this is still the most thorough and readable book on indexing I've seen to date. This book in conjunction with the Chicago Manual of Style answers about 80-90 percent of my questions (most of the rest are generally software-specific or name-related).

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Signs of Obliviousness

Despite the amusing title, I'm absolutely serious about this one - and furious too!

Really it's two issues, though the second one grows out of the first.

Every time. Every time I am in a park - regional, provincial or national - I see people ignoring the posted signs.

"PLEASE KEEP OFF THE RE-VEGETATED AREA"
The signs are posted, the area is clearly fenced off - at least from the path side - I'm slightly willing to cut some slack when it comes to people crossing from the other side. The beach continues along past the re-vegetated area with no access paths - but it's not clearly marked from that side. I've managed to do it once without realizing right away. In my defense, I think the tide was coming in pretty quickly too. However, I've also seen people just hop over the fence to go wander in that area - kids chasing the rabbits, or people not wanting to walk all the way back to the proper beach access path from the washrooms. The other day I even saw some people with bicycles on the wrong side of that fence! And if someone confronts a person doing that, they're likely to get told to F*** *** and mind their own business. I've seen that very response - and it makes me feel very uncomfortable about speaking up when I see this kind of behavior.

"NO DOGS ALLOWED ON THE BEACH BETWEEN THESE DATES"
Inevitably I'll see dogs running freely on the beach, off leash with their owners throwing balls or sticks. Ask them about it and the response is usually "I didn't see the signs". Said signs are placed at every access path. How could you not see them? Perhaps you just didn't want to see them?

Same thing is true for the signs that say "ALL DOGS MUST BE LEASHED".
Or, you'll hear "My dog is well behaved and doesn't need to be on a leash". Which suggests that the owner doesn't think that the rules need to apply to them.

The other one - one I haven't seen in person yet, but have definitely seen evidence for is people ignoring the "NO BICYCLES" signs along the trails. It's kind of hard to disguise the tire-tracks left behind in the mud, so I know this sign is another frequently ignored one.

Those are all bad enough. Here is the one that has me finally going ahead with this rant.

I live in British Columbia. This year we're having a real problem with forest fires all across the province. There's a fire ban in place for nearly all of the province. All the parks have clearly posted signs to say "NO FIRES" and also "NO SMOKING"  at the entries to each trail and also posted along the trails. I was out two days ago enjoying a wonderful hike up in the mountains two days ago - except that as I came along the route back, I was stuck behind a group who insisted on smoking - despite the signs. There were four of them, and only two of us, so I didn't feel comfortable about speaking up. Perhaps I should have anyway. I could see the cigarettes in their hands, and most definitely smell the smoke!

They're not the only ones though. Despite clear announcements of the fire ban, people are still lighting campfires! I just can't fathom the attitude.

Fire Restrictions Ignored By Campers
Ignored Fire Ban and Evac
Some Campers On The B.C. Coast Ignoring Open Fire Ban Despite Interior Wildfires
Campfire Ban Ignored
B.C. officials to investigate after firefighters reportedly breach campfire ban

And those are just a selection of articles on the topic. I just can't understand people sometimes. We're seeing the devastation caused by fires all around the province - not to mention more of them in the USA. It's bad enough when those fires are caused by lightning. There's not a lot we can do about that. But to risk causing more fires through human stupidity?

I sincerely hope that nobody reading this blog condones behavior like this, but I won't apologize for my attitude towards it all.

I am so sick and tired of the obliviousness to clearly posted signs and rules, either because people don't think they should apply to them, or they think they can get away with breaking the rules - sadly this is probably true all too often. I'm tired of it. Tired of going to the beach and seeing the remains of fires. Tired of hearing people in campgrounds stamping around in the brush to find wood to burn - when the rules clearly say it's not allowed. Tired of seeing dogs chasing birds in areas where dogs aren't allowed off leash. Tired of seeing unauthorized trails ground into the parks by people who figure they can just go anywhere they please. I'm tired of it all! And I don't know what can be done about it. 

Or, am I just an old-fashioned kill-joy of a stick in the mud who wants to take away peoples fun when I believe that these rules should be followed? Do we live in a society where rules don't mean anything anymore? Should I simply get used to seeing this kind of behavior and start closing my eyes towards it?  Sometimes I wonder.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Return...To Canada With Love (CD) - Liona Boyd

The Return...To Canada With Love - Liona BoydI don't usually comment much on music here, but I've recently been introduced to the music of Liona Boyd. Clearly I'm a late-comer to her albums, but all I can say is WOW!

Her classical guitar range is just beautiful and inspiring to listen to, but Liona Boyd has done far more than just that. She's got Christmas albums, and in more recent years has begun writing her own songs and composing her own music as well.

I'm particularly fond of this album - Return...To Canada With Love. I have to think it's somehow appropriate that I discovered it this year - Canada's 150th. This one apparently came out in 2013, however, I know that she is still going strong. It's not listed on Amazon as of yet, but I have seen on her website that there is supposed to be a new album coming out some time this year, apparently titled No Remedy For Love, which is also the title of her most recent autobiography.

Coming back to Return...To Canada With Love, quite a few of the songs seem to be autobiographical in nature, referencing events in her life. Others are very environmental in nature - not to mention the indigenous connection in at least one or two songs as well. One of the most amazing songs though is Canada My Canada. The list of singers she has included in that song is amazing.

I've seen reviews of her recent albums comparing her music to that of Enya's, and I have to agree - at least for some of the songs.

Perhaps I'm overstating things a bit, but I have to highly, highly recommend this cd and any of her earlier classical cds. As someone who likes to listen to music while working, I find them absolutely perfect for that, but they are also just wonderful to listen to.

Monday, May 29, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - May 29, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

After a couple of dead weeks for reading - which explains the overly quiet blog, I've finally gotten back in the swing of things for reading - how long I'll be able to keep it up is another question.

Anyway, I've finished a couple of books in the past week:

Circus of the Damned - Laurell K. HamiltonThe first was Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton.

The amazon.com product description:
First time in trade paperback: the third novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series. In Circus of the Damned-now in trade paperback for the first time-a rogue master vampire hits town, and Anita gets caught in the middle of an undead turf war. Jean-Claude, the Master Vamp of the city, wants her for his own-but his enemies have other plans. And to make matters worse, Anita takes a hit to the heart when she meets a stunningly handsome junior high science teacher named Richard Zeeman. They're two humans caught in the crossfire-or so Anita thinks.
I'm not going to write up a separate review for this one - I stopped reading in the middle for long enough that I can't really remember what happened for the earlier parts of the book. The main thing that stuck with me is Anita's sheer stubborn nature. Of course, that's something laid out through the whole series, so it's not all that surprising.

1632 - Eric Flint
The second book I finished in the last week was 1632 by Eric Flint, which I posted about yesterday.

The amazon.com product description:
FREEDOM AND JUSTICE -- AMERICAN STYLE

1632 And in northern Germany things couldn't get much worse. Famine. Disease. Religous war laying waste the cities. Only the aristocrats remained relatively unscathed; for the peasants, death was a mercy.
2000 Things are going OK in Grantville, West Virginia, and everybody attending the wedding of Mike Stearn's sister (including the entire local chapter of the United Mine Workers of America, which Mike leads) is having a good time.
THEN, EVERYTHING CHANGED....
When the dust settles, Mike leads a group of armed miners to find out what happened and finds the road into town is cut, as with a sword. On the other side, a scene out of Hell: a man nailed to a farmhouse door, his wife and daughter attacked by men in steel vests. Faced with this, Mike and his friends don't have to ask who to shoot. At that moment Freedom and Justice, American style, are introduced to the middle of the Thirty Years' War.
This one I quite enjoyed, though I'm a bit hesitant about the rest of the series - based on the sheer quantity of books set in the world of the Ring of Fire.

My currently reading pile is pretty big:

The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer BradleyThere's The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Amazon.com product description:
In Marion Zimmer Bradley's masterpiece, we see the tumult and adventures of Camelot's court through the eyes of the women who bolstered the king's rise and schemed for his fall. From their childhoods through the ultimate fulfillment of their destinies, we follow these women and the diverse cast of characters that surrounds them as the great Arthurian epic unfolds stunningly before us. As Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar struggle for control over the fate of Arthur's kingdom, as the Knights of the Round Table take on their infamous quest, as Merlin and Viviane wield their magics for the future of Old Britain, the Isle of Avalon slips further into the impenetrable mists of memory, until the fissure between old and new worlds' and old and new religions' claims its most famous victim.
It's been quite a few years since I read this book, but I'm enjoying as much now as I did the last time. If my memory serves as well, the Mists of Avalon may well have been my first real introduction to the various Arthurian stories.

The Lunatic Cafe - Laurell K. HamiltonSecond on the list is The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton

The amazon.com product description:
Vampire hunter and zombie animator Anita Blake is an expert at sniffing out the bad from the good. But in The Lunatic Cafe-now in trade paperback for the first time-she's about to learn that nothing is ever as it seems, especially in matters of the not-so-human heart.

Dating a werewolf with self-esteem issues is stressing Anita out. Especially when something-or someone-starts taking out the city's shapeshifters.
Here's where we start seeing more of the characters who are going to shape the next several books: Raina, Gabriel, Marcus... We've already been introduced to Richard and Larry in the previous book, so the stage is being set for future plotlines.

I'm only a couple of chapters in, so I can't say much more than that yet.

1633 - David Weber and Eric FlintAnd finally, 1633 by David Weber and Eric Flint

The amazon.com product description:
AMERICAN FREEDOM AND JUSTICE
VS. THE TYRANNIES OF
THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

The new government in central Europe, called the Confederated Principalities of Europe, was formed by an alliance between Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, and the West Virginians led by Mike Stearns who were transplanted into 17th-century Germany by a mysterious cosmic accident. The new regime is shaky. Outside its borders, the Thirty Years War continues to rage. Within, it is beset by financial crisis as well as the political and social tensions between the democratic ideals of the 20th-century Americans and the aristocracy which continues to rule the roost in the CPE as everywhere in Europe.

Worst of all, the CPE has aroused the implacable hostility of Cardinal Richelieu, the effective ruler of France. Richelieu has created the League of Ostend in order to strike at the weakest link in the CPE's armor—its dependence on the Baltic as the lifeline between Gustav Adolf's Sweden and the rest of his realm.

The greatest naval war in European history is about to erupt. Like it or not, Gustavus Adolphus will have to rely on Mike Stearns and the technical wizardry of his obstreperous Americans to save the King of Sweden from ruin.

Caught in the conflagration are two American diplomatic missions abroad: Rebecca Stearns' mission to France and Holland, and the embassy which Mike Stearns sent to King Charles of England headed by his sister Rita and Melissa Mailey. Rebecca finds herself trapped in war-torn Amsterdam; Rita and Melissa, imprisoned in the Tower of London.

And much as Mike wants to transport 20th-century values into war-torn 17th-century Europe by Sweet Reason, still he finds comfort in the fact that Julie, who once trained to be an Olympic marksman, still has her rifle . . .

At the publisher's request, this title is sold without DRM (DRM Rights Management).
It's the second book in the Ring of Fire series, I believe. However, I'm only a chapter or two in.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

1632 - Eric Flint

1632 - Eric Flint1632 (Ring of Fire)
Eric Flint
Baen Books
Copyright: 2001
978-0671319724

The amazon.com product description:
FREEDOM AND JUSTICE -- AMERICAN STYLE

1632 And in northern Germany things couldn't get much worse. Famine. Disease. Religous war laying waste the cities. Only the aristocrats remained relatively unscathed; for the peasants, death was a mercy.
2000 Things are going OK in Grantville, West Virginia, and everybody attending the wedding of Mike Stearn's sister (including the entire local chapter of the United Mine Workers of America, which Mike leads) is having a good time.
THEN, EVERYTHING CHANGED....
When the dust settles, Mike leads a group of armed miners to find out what happened and finds the road into town is cut, as with a sword. On the other side, a scene out of Hell: a man nailed to a farmhouse door, his wife and daughter attacked by men in steel vests. Faced with this, Mike and his friends don't have to ask who to shoot. At that moment Freedom and Justice, American style, are introduced to the middle of the Thirty Years' War.
It's been a while since I read any of the Ring of Fire series, but I was loading my Kobo a couple of weeks ago and discovered that I had the first two books of the series hiding away on my computer (thanks to the CD-Roms that Baen included with their books for a while (also the source for the first thirteen of the Honor Harrington series - note to self: load the first book in this series to the kobo to join the rest soon).

Anyway, I'd been hunting something to give me a bit of a break from The Mists of Avalon and Circus of the Damned/The Lunatic Cafe (Marion Zimmer Bradley and Laurell K. Hamilton respectively) and 1632 seemed to fit the bill. Suffice it to say, it did! - I went racing through it over the last four days, while continuing to read the other books (the biggest advantage of the Kobo is being able to switch from book to book at will).

I'm not a hundred percent certain on the way history is used in this series, however I'll admit that a lot of that is due to the fact that the sixteen-hundreds are not exactly my area of expertise - nor are the military tactics used. However, my memory of what I've read in By Sword and Fire some years ago says that yes, what is suggested in this book and the rest of the series is quite reasonable.

Either way, I found myself captured by the story and the characters.

One thing I hadn't realized on starting 1632 is just how large this series has gotten - three or four screens of titles on Amazon.com and several authors contributing too - both short stories in the many anthologies, and full novels set in this world too. There are a number of authors I recognize from other books too, including David Weber, but also quite a few authors whose names I don't recognize.

Honestly, at this point I'm not sure whether to hope I really get into this series or not. There's certainly plenty of reading here - but that's also the downside, trying to find about 17 years worth of books in one series and by different authors when the library might not have all of them.

For sure though, I'm looking forward to reading 1633 at the least - and any other of the earlier books in the series that I can find. I'm also finding myself inspired to try and hunt down the time-travel novels by S.M. Stirling again too.

One final note: At least at the time I'm writing this review, 1632 is free as a Kindle e-book. That means that there is absolutely no excuse to not give it a try.

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