Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If It Catches on Fire, Step Away

Weird stuff has been happening lately, since I lost my job.

I was told that someone, an employee I had trained near the beginning of the year, had attempted to forge my signature and use my name in an attempt to avoid violating his/her parole.  It seems that community service was a condition of the parole, and had not been done.  So the individual mocked up (poorly) a letter "from" me stating that he/she had done the required service.  The letter was a mess--the detective showed it to me so I could make a statement about the person in question.  It was the most entertaining thing that had happened since the commencement of my unemployment.  I was reminded how much I enjoy "stupid criminal" stories.

And I was busing up to my fiancee's house when a man ran in front of the bus to make it stop, thinking the driver would let him on.  He started screaming at the driver and banging on the bus' windshield, apparently complaining that the bus was early and should have waited at the stop it was trying to depart.  The lady driver, apparently not understanding the art of de-escalating a confrontation, proceeded to scream and curse back at him, inflaming the man's anger even more.  He refused to move, showing his back to the driver and leaning on the front of the bus.  He finally gave up, and probably wisely, before the driver though to call the police.

What a week!

An addendum to the first story above: the office manager at my old employer called me to let me know that the parolee in question actually called to speak to me, and wanted to advise me that he/she had used me "as a reference".  This makes the individual's judgement even poorer...because had someone called me the lie would have been found out for sure.  Wow!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Review: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

I somehow forgot to post this review when I wrote it, so here it is:

A much easier read than I expected, Scalzi's Old Man's War is also an entertaining one. The author states in the acknowledgements that the book owes a lot to Heinlein (Starship Troopers) and I think you could probably add Haldeman's The Forever War to the list of inspirations and influences. As such, I didn't find the ideas to be particularly original but Scalzi's main character pulls the premise up and gets it off the ground in a way that makes the journey a fun and emotional ride. The story is focused on the main character, John Perry, a 75 year old who leaves Earth for the promise of rejuvenation at the cost of a soldier's life, and never strays. So we only hear about things that are important to the plot, or to Perry's development. The result is never really getting a very clear picture of what the universe away from Earth is like, which works within the framework of the storyline, but always leaves the reader wanting a little more information.

One concept I quite liked was the idea behind the Ghost Brigades, and I wish there had been more focus on the dichotomy of the CDF military: the titular “old man” infantry in contrast with the Special Forces “child soldiers.” Scalzi's next book is called The Ghost Brigades, so maybe I'll get what I was looking for in that volume.

The thing that frustrated me the most was the author's use of dialogue. It reminded me so much of Orson Scott Card's use of back-and-forth too-clever banter that quickly becomes nauseating. Now, it's not nearly on the stomach-upsetting level that Card has achieved, but I could envision a time when Scalzi gets there unless he reigns it in. I really hope it doesn't continue on this path, because his writing is otherwise very pleasant.

I'm looking forward to checking out the other books set in this universe, and maybe getting a better sense of the structure of the colonies.

Too Eventful

Well, it's been another long gap between posts, and even then the last few have been book reviews and not so much actual blog content.  Even the book reviews slowed down because I had not been reading nearly as much.

I have also put writing into a slow-burn, occasionally producing just a little bit here and there.  Wedding planning, overwork from the "real" job, and just plain exhaustion keep me from the keyboard.  Of course, those other things are important, especially the wedding planning, so I don't regret the time spent on them, and some of my creative juices have been squeezed into some special things for the wedding that I am really excited about.

I tried to join a writers group, something that I had wanted to do for a long time and never seemed to actually do.  A tendency to be shy among new people didn't help.  So I went to a meeting in January, and found it pretty useful, but then being too busy got in the way and I haven't been back since.  I hope to go again, maybe after the wedding, and stay a regular attendee.

I have 2 nearly complete short stories on the go right now, and my never-ending revisions of A Separate Breed.  The one short was started with the intention of submitting it to an anthology, but I missed the deadline.  So I'll finish it and keep it on hold until a good opportunity comes up for it.  Same with the other, a zombie story with a cool twist that I don't think has been done before.

I figure I may have some time to write for a bit, because I fell victim to my employer's need to cut their payroll. So while I look for a new job, I'll have the time to devote to the wedding, and even shoehorn in some word processing time.  The impact on my bank account means I need to be working as soon as possible, but in the interim maybe this is golden chance to focus.

My fiancee knows me well, and that had this not happened with my job I may not have looked too hard for a better opportunity.  I'm going to go with that tried old saying that was texted to me by a friend after hearing of my situation: Everything happens for a reason.

And in this case I'm looking forward to seeing exactly what the reason is.