I loved "inTerstitial arTs" and the whole teapot subplot. How you managed to combine that character's con job with the diamonds... brilliant. Will there ever be a sequel? I think the teapot with the red stripes should be brought back posthaste.
opening: Everyone is always sure they can spot a con artist, which is why con artists continue to thrive. Most of my profession is what it appears to be: I own a tea shop, gourmet imported teas. We're a thriving concern, for a tea shop, by which I mean we almost made it into the black last year, and we might come close again this year. So the con jobs...well, no. I can't say I fell into the con jobs to support the shop, although I would like to; it certainly sounds better. But the truth is, I like getting people to give me things, particularly shiny things, by lying to them.
closing: There was no way he would ever admit that the nice little grey-haired lady at the tea shop had said any such thing. I'm not even sure he admitted it to himself.
The thing that made me want to write it: the research, of course! An excuse to try tea after tea after tea--who could resist that? And Leverage had a few bits that annoyed me, so I thought I'd show how it's really supposed to be done.
2009-09-16 11:40 pm (UTC)
Re: "The Girl and the Seventh Quark"
First line: The strange quark was not the strangest quark, though many people made that assumption.
Last line: And the strong force held them happily ever after.
Why: because I miss my physics upbringing!
The thing I had to cut: the neutrino scene. It didn't add any momentum.
I was really impressed with "It Takes Gusts." I've heard you talk about your experiences at Gustavus Adolphus in general, and the tornado in particular, but the way you wove the ghost story in with the reality made it feel as though that's the way it really happened.
Or was it?
first line: I was frantic to get back to campus after the tornado, even though the person I worried about the most was not only dead but had been dead for nearly nine decades before the storm.
last line: She had earned her rest. All of us still had to earn ours.
hardest thing: like bleeding on the page, every time I talk about the damned thing; worse yet in fictional form for some reason.
2009-09-15 03:38 am (UTC)
The way you managed to apply Child ballads to 1980s arcade games in "Carter Hall meets the Air Hockey King" was wonderful; I got to reminisce about the quarter-eaters of my high school days, but with a whole new perspective.
Ack! My comment here has completely disappeared, when I only meant to remove the double-post! Do you have it in e-mail for your comment notifications? If so, can you e-mail it to me?
I most appreciated the multiple levels of irony embedded in this story--- not just the protagonists' farcial misreading of Lewis, but also the entirely different spin on the story given how I know you really feel about Charles Williams. The consistently misquoted Tolkien is a brilliant satire.
2009-09-19 03:20 am (UTC)
Re: "The Evil Inkling"
first line: When I was eight years old, I knew with confidence that worlds like Narnia were not real. By the time I was seventeen, I had learned differently.
last line: "Gorblimey if it won't be mutton again two days from now," Tom said, and I punched him.
difficulties: it was really the right thing to do with Charles Williams, but having to read those books gave me hives. I blame you still.
"Philosophical Problems in Classical Science." Best poly romance EVER.
I thought "String Theory." was better.
"Love in the Time of Hallermann's." The scene with Guinan in Ten-Forward's stockroom was totally HOTTTTT. I never expected you to write K/S NC-17 dubcon implied mpreg, but there it was.
I've got a random love for the Fates, so having Atropos be on a road trip through the Midwest in "Fate, Hope, Friendship, Foe" pretty much hooked me from the start.
first: The fields were flooding in the Red River Valley when Atropos got there in her battered grey Buick. "From this valley they say you are going," she hummed, pulling out her scissors.
last: She carefully popped the second cupcake out of the brown plastic container. She always started eating at the end of the white frosting curlicue. There was a proper way to do things.
difficult: Figuring out who her mystery road trip companion should be. I knew about the gas station food, I knew about the sandbags and the rains, but there was a big hole in the story that took forever to figure out: who would go road tripping with her? I knew it wasn't either of the other two, but for awhile I thought it might be Herakles and then had to rewrite the whole opening.
first: They started with Niels Bohr, on the theory that he played well with others, or at least played better with others than the average physicist.
last: They decided not to close the jazz club after all.
The Bose-Einstein Ultimatum was a superb adventure. The hunt for the terrorists who threatened to reduce a major city to an indistinguishable blob of particles was so compelling it forced me to read the entire book in one evening. It is perhaps the best thriller involving Bose-Einstein Condensates ever written.
first: The platoon moved out like a single waveform, each Marine perfectly aligned with respect to the next.
last: Anders looked down at his daughter. "Don't you go all disgruntled on me!" She giggled, and he picked her up to take her home.
difficult: There is a style difference in writing thriller rather than SF, and that was very hard for me. Part of it is punching up the descriptions--thriller readers seem to want much more visual prose. Also I'm used to the science and the scientists being the main thing, not a sideline to the FBI, and for all I watch crime shows, it didn't feel natural, and I'm not sure I could do it again.
"A Weed-Eater™, a Live Chicken, and Some Peach Preserves."
I especially liked the bit where they had to hot-wire the elevator.
first line: We were all still calming down from the squirrel caper, and I wasn't completely sure we had run far enough to get away from the Baptists.
last line: "It's me again, Margaret," said the FBI agent. I gritted my teeth.
hardest: Knowing Grandpa wouldn't ever get to read it, with all those references.
I like Arabian fairytales and science, so I was thrilled to read, "The Klein Djinni." I do wonder how difficult it was to work such disparate things together.
first: When there is no outside and no inside, djinn expect to be free, but mostly what they are is nervous.
difficulties: Actually getting Arabian fairytales and topology/general relativity together was not at all difficult, recalling where we get words like "algebra." What was hard was keeping the ending from giving itself away too thoroughly in the first page.
I thought there was absolutely nothing new or interesting to be said about the Barber paradox, but somehow adding magic and complicated politics in What We Did to Shave the Kingdom made it fresh again. Bravo!
first: The barber had not gotten much work at court until the Cherivan embassy arrived. Everyone knew that the pattern of a man's beard told you far more about his character than the lines on his hand or the moment of his birth, so the barber was only employed to prepare spies for their departure into lands less knowledgeable in the ways of barbometrics.
last: "The wax is almost hot enough," she said. The barber winced.
difficulties: Keeping track of who knew what and who had double-crossed whom was hard.
2009-09-16 02:09 pm (UTC)
The Day My Uncle Bob Wiped out the Etruscans
The best thing about this story, to me, was the humor-- and the second best was the way that it tied in with "The Opposite of Pomegranites", because I do so love that heroine and could read things written in that voice for hours and hours. :)
2009-09-17 02:50 am (UTC)
Re: The Day My Uncle Bob Wiped out the Etruscans
first: Changelings don't think of ourselves as having much family. We get one or two pieces of chosen family from our Underhill upbringing, but mostly we are not big on the family reunion scene.
It was pure chance that allowed me to figure out I even had an Uncle Bob--he was a changeling, too, or I'd never have met him.
last: Most people grossly underestimate the effects of fungus on the fall of civilizations. After Uncle Bob, I never will.
hardest: Trying to keep the voice original and not get too much Delia Sherman in it.
I enjoyed the way you combined particle physics with 17th-Century German politics in "The Electron of Saxony." I was especially impressed with how you managed to address those two subjects without being particularly negative.
first: John George I had not imagined a single other dimension, much less a multiplicity of them. His world was as a world should be, not counting, of course, certain influences on his borders, Catholic and Protestant. But a light cone was what was cast by a lantern, and that was enough for John George I.
Questions were not his forte.
last: "Tell me about Father's geometries," said Sophia Eleanore thoughtfully. "Leave nothing out."