Finally February is done. Not only was February 2008 3.6% longer than most February's, it exhausted me and tried my students. Saturday was 1 March 2008, and with the first of the month, that most reliable of magazines arrived in the Saturday post -- the March 2008 issue of Locus magazine. Nice to have a magazine which actually arrives just in time for the month it is dated for. (grin) Check out LocusOnline for more info about Locus.
By the way, the annual Locus Poll & Survey remains open until 15 April 2008. You don't have to be a subscriber to have an opinion on the best of 2007 in SF/F/H, but if you are a subscriber, then your filling out the survey can add an extra issue to your subscription. Bonus.
The Locus Award nominees cover a wide swath of reading material -- it always surprises me how many of the works and magazines mentioned I have either read or know about. Plus you are free to add write-ins. The survey itself is well coded and works fine on both PCs and PDAs -- no problems using my Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition HP iPAQ hx4705 to fill it out from a comfy chair.
Back to the new issue of Locus, one of the few magazines that I actually devour from cover to cover as soon as it comes in the door. Gary K. Wolfe's review of 2004 Clarion instructor and stunning writer Jeff Ford's The Shadow Year on page 17 includes the following on-target comment:
I've been giving some thought to what Ford has in common with other writers such as Kelly Link, M. Rickert, and Elizabeth Hand, and what it comes down to is an idea for what might be a radical new movement, which we will not call New Weird or New Wave or new anything else. What we will call it is Prose, since exquisitely crafted prose is the engine which drives the work of all these writers, just as in an earlier generation it drove the work of writers such as Theodore Sturgeon or Ray Bradbury -- both of whom also veered unpredictably from fantasy to SF to horror to nostaglia.
Hear-hear! While labels such as "New Weird" build and sell anthologies and panels at cons, it's nice to see a reviewer recognize that gorgeous Prose has a flow and enjoyment all of its own. Reading or even listening to Jeff Ford weave a tale is a joy unto itself, and who the hell cares what sort of genre sub-category it needs to fit into or define. (double-edge-grin)
In The Company Of Old Men
Page 11, continuing on page 71, of the new Locus contains the announcement of the 2007 Older Writers Grant from the Speculative Literature Foundation. I didn't know there was an SLF, let alone grants to "assist writers 50 years of age or older who are just beginning to work at a professional level". The Speculative Literature Foundation's mission is:
To promote literary quality in speculative fiction, by encouraging promising new writers, assisting established writers, facilitating the work of quality magazines and small presses in the genre, and developing a greater public appreciation of speculative fiction.
And while the 2007 Older Writers Grant was for $500, the 2008 award will be $750. Huh. Dr. Phil will be hitting the Big Five-Oh during 2008. And while $750 might not mean much to some of you, remember that I am a part-time physics instructor with a very long commute. So I am not paid well AND spend much of what little I make on gasoline. And since "they" are threatening us yet again with the spectre of $4/gallon gasoline, I will note that $750 will essentially cover the differential between outrageous $3/gallon gas and horrendous $4/gallon gas for one full semester -- or conversely cover most of the differential of take-home pay less commuting costs for one full semester, should I end up not getting a contract for a semester. In other words, such a grant would either allow me to continue in my blissful ignorance of driving, teaching and writing, or survive by writing alone. I checked, running an Excel spreadsheet before my afternoon nap yesterday. (triple-word-score-grin)
Alas, the application window for the 2008 grants is a narrow one -- 1 January to 31 March 2008 -- and I shall not yet be beyond the Big Five-Oh barrier, off by some six months. So I shall have to wait until 2009 to apply. I told Mrs. Dr. Phil that I shan't be able by grant to join her on her 2009 sabbatical. (I think it's probably better this way -- grin.)
It's A Beautiful Day
Meanwhile, Saturday was bright and sunshiny. I finally got a chance to run up to Alpine for some errands, including buying a couple of reams of paper for the insatiable LaserJet and TurboTax Deluxe to satisfy the voracious appetite of the IRS. (purple-prose-grin)
These Boots Were Made For Scooping
Mrs. Dr. Phil's prime snow moving boots are a pair of L.L.Bean leather boots bought mail-order while we lived in the U.P. twenty-some years ago. They spent February at the shoe repair shop just off of Alpine Avenue, to have a bit of leather grafted on and then tucked back in to close a gap along the sole. Our theory is that the four weeks of rain-ice-snow-repeat was caused by the boots being in the shop -- now that we have them back, we may not get any more bad weather.
Well, it's a theory.
I was reminded that next Sunday, 9 March 2008, will be DST 2008 Part I, where we too-early shift from Eastern Standard Time to Eastern Daylight Time here in West Michigan. I'm not sure anyone else is talking about this, but as I said last year at this time, there will be many people and devices inconvenienced by the Daylight Savings Time change. Sigh.
Supposedly the DST change in the Energy Bill of the other year had a "sunset" provision, and so far I haven't heard of any clamor to change it one way or the other. Both possibilities will have troubles for everyone. Double-Sigh.