With nearly a year gone by since my last Bookmark Monday post (way to stick new habits, self), I thought I would share the freebies I brought back from DragonCon. Bookmarks are a great way to spread the word about yourself at a con, especially one for sci-fi & fantasy readers!
Over the past two months, an sneaky anonymous artist has been leaving small takeaways in the library where I work. Typically, we’ll find a small plastic bag on the shelves filled with small magnets made from dichroic glass & a printed message inviting whoever finds them to take them & enjoy. Patrons have found them too & in general, coming across the packets are a nice little unexpected surprise. A disruption of craft & charitable feeling into a regular routine.
The whole experience has gotten me thinking about some of the more experimental writing prompts we undertook in my last year of Creative Writing at Mary Wash. We students were encouraged to think of ways to get our stories in front of people: whether it was fliers we posted in the department hall, mini-books with flash fictions, postcards, or blogs. The anonymous artists has inspired me to spread some found stories around my little town. There’s even a sort of romantic element to the fact that we have a working rail station running through town & that anyone could come across my words.
But here’s where I trip myself up: thinking about what to write & to send out into the world. I ask myself what I would want people to come across & the immediate response is, well, not my own words, maybe a bit of poetry or a collection of famous sayings. Pardon me, self, but that is not the point of the exercise. Then I think, oh well, I could root through something I’ve already polished, maybe pull out a snippet or two? Again, self, this is about spontaneity, not a practiced recitation. I mean, c’mon, you write a blog with entries you give not much though to. You can’t think of anything?
The truth is, I can, but I’m nervous. I work in a library in a small town. I keep envisioning how one of the Libertarian regulars would react to finding my little anonymous work. Or one of the homeschool moms. Or what if one of my illiterate patrons came across it, realized there was nothing they understood, & threw it away. Or or or or. . .
As you can see, dear Reader, this post is really just a way for me to talk myself into both the act of creating & the act of letting go control. Because really, that’s the crux of any creative act & it is one I struggle with still. But when the tension is resolved &, as a result, a stranger sees the world anew, something magical has truly happened.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Lee Garner takes drastic steps to convince the coder he’s imprisoned with to give up information that the Arcadian government wants in exchange for his & his wife’s freedom. Coral helps lead a rescue mission to save her parents & gets everyone back to the hacker camp. But, the damage is done–the Arcadian powers have root access to the simulation & Lee Pepper finds himself struggling in the analog world to navigate new tides of authority.
There’s something disheartening in being able to measure just how & when your interest in something drops off. For example, the use of current slang in a five-seconds-into-the-future sci-fi story is a personal pet peeve & each time it cropped up in the past 4 issues, I cared a little less about what happened next. But I was willing to let it go because I was still curious about the world. Then, this issue used both “mansplaining” & “Gamergate” within the space of a few pages & any interest I had dropped perilously close to zero. Yeah, millions upon millions of people died hideously & are only being kept “alive” by a perilously thin digital network, but we still care enough about culture-war-speak to use it in everyday conversation. I think there are other things to worry about.
Also, the reveal at the end of Arcadia’s foundational secret was also a non-starter. (Hint: The heart of the digital world is made up of one semi-delusion personality–just like Otherland. Seriously, just go read Otherland.) So, unfortunately, this will be the last issue I read, even though I’ll buy the 5th issue because the collected covers complete a mural & I do love the art. Too bad too, I really did take a shine to Lee Pepper & his scrappy band of survivors.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
3.5 instead of 4. Jaime, the hack wizard, rescues Giacomo from the Arcadian enforcers & together they go looking for Coral. Digital Lee learns about analog Lee & is used as an experiment by the Arcadians to make contact with him in order to spy on the Meat. Analog Lee becomes the new leader of the server farm & suspects those in charge of Arcadia are up to something. Sam & digital Lee make separate deals with the people in power in order to preserve their family.
The plot thickens & gives us some tasty new details to savor–Paknadel reveals more of his main conflict through a philosophy lesson in Coral’s class. Analog Lee is starting to seem like the more interesting of the two Lees. He broods, argues with himself & racks his brain trying to figure out how he survived the last plague & his family didn’t. (Also, the guy is ready to throw down with wolves in a blizzard. How can you not resist him?) Digital Lee just seems bland beside him even as he gives his handlers in this issue plenty of attitude. Hopefully that will change as our story continues.
I’m sort of torn over how the anomalies in the Arcadian code work. On one hand, we have rogue code that permanently destroys things, but on the other hand, we have Giacomo who has “innate root access” but doesn’t have the same amount of destructive power from what readers can see. How far does this rabbit hole mystery go? Guess there’s really only one way to find out. . .
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Our story picks up with digital Lee & his family getting into all kinds of trouble. His daughter Coral meets Jaime, a young man able to hack & manipulate Arcadia’s code. Lee’s wife Sam finds out that their son Giacomo might be an illegal creation & digital Lee discovers the truth about his analog counterpart. In the meantime, analog Lee has to contend with the politics of being heir apparent to lead operations at the Alaskan server farm & being blackmailed for his illegal communications with his digital daughter.
This issue reveals a little more about the series’ environment, leading me to think that its plot will be a slow burn. I definitely curious about everything that’s happened in the intervening years & how the various factions arose. (But some of the basics still trip me up. Why is there a fish filter? Is this like how fish will seek out warm waters surrounding submerged radioactive machinery?) Sam’s denials about his tampering with her memories are fascinating in a soap opera-y way. His job is to make people forget & how can she say for sure what he may or may not have done to her. Also, how can you be held accountable for something when you are at risk to forget everything? And if Sam is a lawyer, how can the law even apply to things that have been edited out of the code? Some classic sci-fi questions here–nice. I’m eager for some answers. Hopefully this series will keep being interesting.