A Winter Morning

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Good Story Picks

Julie and I take turns selecting things to discuss on the A Good Story is Hard to Find Podcast. We pick two at a time, a movie and a book. Sometimes I feel as though I’m running out of picks, but they keep coming.

Later this week, we’ll record a discussion of Julie’s latest movie pick, Gone Baby Gone, which is one huge moral dilemma of a film with an impressive example of a person taking a stand. Very good, directed by Ben Affleck. Two weeks after that, we’re going to talk about Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin. I started that earlier tonight, and am enjoying it so far. There’s a quality to 1980’s science fiction that I absolutely love, probably because that was my own personal Golden Age.

As I type the words “Golden Age”, I think of David Hartwell. Let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

After Tuf, the subjects at Good Story will be these two I picked earlier today:

First, Ostrov, which I wrote about on this blog back in 2008.

I’m not much of a film critic, so I can’t really say how this Russian film fits into the history of film or comment on its style, but I can say that I found it remarkable. The title is “Ostrov”, and I found it on Netflix titled “The Island”.

In the little research I did on the internet, I found out that the lead in the film is a Russian rock star named Pyotr Mamonov. He’s a wonderful, effective actor who plays Father Anatoli, a member of an Orthodox monastery in isolated, cold, north of Russia. He’s a deeply scarred man who, during World War II, was forced by Nazi Germans to shoot a fellow countryman in order to stay alive himself.

In the “present day” of the film, he is a troubled holy man who performs miracles through the grace of God, all while feeling inadequate and fake. His methods seem mad, yet the character spoke to me through those actions. Forgiveness, repentance, grace. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Joseph Susanka for reminding me that it exists!

The book I picked is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I thought a bit about how best to talk about Holmes on the podcast, then decided on this first collection of 12 stories. Included here are:
“A Scandal in Bohemia”
“The Adventure of the Red-Headed League”
“A Case of Identity”
“The Boscombe Valley Mystery”
“The Five Orange Pips”
“The Man with the Twisted Lip”
“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band”
“The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb”
“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor”
“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet”
“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”

I guess I’m still in an “old stuff” phase – my last pick was Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and I can’t wait to talk about these.

To place these on the bustling city street that is literature: Frankenstein was published in 1818, and Doyle started writing Sherlock stories in 1887 (“A Study in Scarlet”). Moby Dick 1851, Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1852, Bleak House 1853. The Turn of the Screw and War of the Worlds both 1898.

Will be fun, as always!

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Good Story, Year 6

The event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed, by Dr. Darwin and some of the physiological writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence.
— Mary Shelley, Preface to Frankenstein

It’s time to start prep for the sixth(!) year of the A Good Story is Hard to Find Podcast. The first book we’ll read next year is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, which is an endless source of pleasure for me.

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Shards of Honor and Distraction

Science Fiction novel Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster BujoldI just finished the first book in the Vorkosigan series: Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. I listened to the book a long while ago because my wife and son like the series and talk about it often. I re-read it now because after talking about it, my wife insisted that I missed too much of it to call it “read”. Now I know she was right. I liked it just fine the first time, but this time I got much more out of it. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

I knew that I dipped into the series a couple of times during my audio reviewing days over at SFFaudio. I recall listening to The Vor Game and Falling Free, which I particularly liked.

I don’t remember any others, but there was one. I was surprised to find a review that I wrote on Diplomatic Immunity. I recall that book coming out, recall being interested because it was a sequel of sorts to Falling Free… but I don’t recall reading it AT ALL. How odd that is.

Some people would say “well, maybe it wasn’t very good, didn’t stick in your mind” or “you’re getting older, you forget things”. Even though that last bit is certainly true, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about distraction. I have spent the last several years in a highly frustrated and distracted frame of mind due to situations at work, and there is no question that other parts of my life are affected. That I can’t remember reading Diplomatic Immunity is only one sign of many that I have been living a life of tension between what I want to be doing and what I’ve been doing. It has created a lot of stress that has manifested in a lot of different ways.

I’m happy to say that I took a new job which I think suits me well, and has allowed me all kinds of creative personal space outside of work hours. I’ve been stretching luxuriously inside that space for several weeks now. I’m writing again, a novel in the works. And I’m reading again. Time will tell if this lasts.

I know I have plenty of days of frustration and distraction ahead of me. But as a way of life, it appears to be behind me.

As for Vorkosigan, I think I’ll progress through the whole series over time. I’ll do it in publication order, so on deck is The Warrior’s Apprentice. But I have other things to read, too.

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One Cold Mailbox

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Pic taken by my daughter, last winter.

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Center and Main

Center and Main

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