Archive for May, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

First, this isn’t a “Writer Reviews” feature because my goal here isn’t to dredge out writing lessons. It’s to rant. Second, this rant is going to have LOTS OF SPOILERS. As in if you still care at all about not knowing any plot elements of the film, not just who Cumberbatch is playing, then this is the place for you to get off. Everyone else, meet me after the break.

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Throne of the Crescent Moon

I’ve been putting this review off. But now we’re at the end of the month, we’re about to roll over to the next books in the Great Hugo Read, so my putting off time has run out. Which I find off-putting. See, I’m still delaying by adding little puns to this introduction.

Let’s start by saying I liked Throne of the Crescent Moon. I can fully understand it’s popularity, I can even understand why it’s up for the Hugo. However, I had two obstacles when reading the book, one which had to do with the book and one which had to do with me.

First, the book. In many ways this felt like the first part of a planned series. Books one of planned series always leave me a little cold at the end, because even as the story is self-contained, there’s a certain unsatisfying lack of actual conclusion, threads are left hanging. The main villain of the work is defeated, but much like Darth Maul, it’s clear he’s not actually the villain of the story. He’s just the villain of the first third, meant to bring all the characters together, give them someone or something to fight, and help introduce the actual drama that will cover the rest of the series. Crescent Moon is a complete story. It has a beginning, it has a middle, and it has an end. But that ending serves as only the first act break of the longer story.

I suppose it’s a compliment to the book that I got to the end and wondered what comes next. I do want to come back to the series. From that angle the book is a success. From that angle the bit of cliffhanger at the end is a success. This is probably just me being petulant, but that’s my prerogative as a reader.

The second problem…this I know is entirely me. I don’t read epic, second world fantasy. Oh sure, I read some. Most notably the Discworld series. But when the books aren’t set on the backs of four elephants riding a giant turtle through space, I tend not to pick them up. So I was left with a clear lack of direction to approach this book. Which is a shame, as many of the reviews I’ve read of Crescent Moon talk about how it rejects many of the tropes of the genre. It may. It may not. I don’t know the tropes well enough to say.

I do recognize that the world is unusual. The bits and pieces of fantasy I have read tend to tie back to British and Norse mythology. Largely because they’re riding firmly on the back of Lord of the Rings. Entering a world of jinn and ghuls was a fun change. Entering a world where they’re spelled “jinn” and “ghul” builds the world almost as quickly as just including the elements. What little I know of Islamic and Arabian storytelling comes from Nicholas Clapp’s book Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen, the first place that I learned that the fantastic creatures of the Arabian Nights flow into more of Arabian culture than just the stories of Scheherazade, and even sneak into the Koran.

The other major step away from trope, however, went clear over my head. Many other reviews have praised Ahmed’s use of working class heroes in Crescent Moon. Unfortunately I went through the book unaware of that trope, so unable to appreciate what Ahmed did in that regard. Discworld is full of working class characters, though many of them achieve greater heights. You can’t get further from nobility than J.R.R. Tolkein’s hobbit protagonists. And…that’s where my epic fantasy knowledge ends. That fantasy is populated with nobles, princes, and lords isn’t in my reading vocabulary.

So at the end of the day I enjoyed the book. It was a chance to read outside of my comfort zone, an opportunity I should take more often. Hell, it’s part of why I started the Hugo Read, it meant lining up books in my to-read pile that I might not touch otherwise. I’m excited enough about the series continuing that Ahemd’s occasional tweets about delays in book two frustrate me. That alone should indicate this first book’s quality. It took this non-fantasy reader on a fun ride, and left him wanting more. Even a little frustrated about not having more. For that, I commend it.


Up next in the Great Hugo Read?

Oh man, if I felt out of place stepping into epic fantasy, how out of place am I going to feel stepping into what’s either book 14 or 15 of a massive space epic that’s been going on since the 1980s and I’ve read exactly none of? We’re going to find out with Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, the 15th published book of the Vorkosigan Saga, and currently 14th book of the internal chronology of the series. These are books that I’ll be getting to know a lot better, as four have already won the Hugo, and they’re playing some havoc with ordering the Read. Eventually the Read will cover enough of these books that I no longer have to look up how to spell “Vorkosigan” every damn time.

We’re also going back into Mira Grant’s zombie apocalypse with Deadline, the second book in the Newsflesh trilogy. Here’s your standard where to find ’em information:

Primary: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold

  • Print: Available new in hardback, paperback releasing in September.
  • Electronic: Available from Kindle only.
  • Audio: Narrated by Grover Gardner, available from Audible and iTunes.

Secondary: Deadline by Mira Grant (Blackout pre-read)

  • Print: Available new in paperback, and as a trilogy box set.
  • Electronic: Available from Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Sony Reader.
  • Audio: Narrated By Chris Patton and Nell Geisslinger, available from Audible and iTunes.

And as always, feel free to join in the Goodreads Group. It’s being just barely active enough that I’m bothering to keep it going, I’d love to see more people in there if you’re reading along, or if you just have thoughts about the books that are part of the Read.

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Baby Toys: The Flowchart

baby toy flow chart

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Constant Tech: Mobile Factories

I had an old feature on this blog called Capsule Tech, back when I was writing a novel called Capsule, that was meant to show my work in a way. It brought together real life tech that I was using as springboards for the circa 2070s tech I was using in that novel. Well, now that Capsule is on the back burner until I manager to rip it apart into two novels, the feature is now Constant Tech, little bits and pieces of tech that fit with the Sarah Constant series. I’m going to retcon this post about people signing up for a one-way space trip as the first bit of Constant Tech.

There’s a problem with going out into space on a one-way mission: you’ve got no choice but to bring everything you need with you. That includes the things that you know you’ll need and the things you don’t know you’ll need. The first is easy, the second…causes problems. Mars One could be resupplied from earth, but what about a generation ship barreling out of the solar system? What do they do when they discover an unaddressed need fifty years down the road when you’re 2.5 light years from earth?

The military, specifically the Navy, is looking at this question. Not from a perspective of a one-way trip, more from a perspective of readiness. According to the Armed Forced Journal (ht: Gizmodo), the Navy is considering whether three-dimensional printing is the future of readiness.

As Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Neil Gershenfeld puts it, the revolutionary aspect of 3-D printing is that it allows us to make things into data and data back into things. For the Navy, the technology promises to shift inventory from the physical world to the digital one. Instead of actual parts, a ship might carry 3-D printers and bags of various powdered ingredients, and simply download the design files needed to print items as necessary.

But is this really a new idea when applied to space travel? Captain Picard walks up to a hole in the wall, says “tea, Earl Gray, hot,” and enjoys a tasty beverage. It’s assembled molecule-by-molecule in a process similar to matter transportation, but that assembles spare matter into a desired form rather than moving the bits of a human being from one place to another. Perhaps it could be seen as an abstraction of 3-D printing, but that’s not how it’s portrayed. Instead, whenever it’s technobabbled, the replicators are an abstraction of transporter technology, which itself is likely to remain illusive.

Three dimensional printing, however, is already a reality. It’s expensive, but it’s available today. Abstracting that into the future of not matter replication, but object assembly, feels more comfortable. Going forward, it’s likely to be essential tech for space exploration. Especially long-term exploration. The only problem becomes the raw resources fed into the printer to become the necessary items. What can we mine from the places we land? What raw resources to we need to take with us on our ships? How much of each kind? There’s still the potential problem of what you don’t know you’ll need in terms of printables, but it’s a little easier to work out.

These are fun questions, but questions that we’ll need to answer one day.

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What a Twist!

[Note: A version of this article originally appeared on Unleaded: Fuel for Writers, but was victim to a data loss, so I’m recreating here.]

Before we start, I want to be clear. I’m about to talk about twist endings. And to that end, I’m going to specifically talk about the twist endings of two movies. The first is The Sixth Sense the second is Safe Haven. If you don’t want either movie spoiled, this is your time to walk away. Also, in my own little twist, I’ve not actually seen Safe Haven, which is why I’m not considering this post a review. Rather, I’m working off the movie’s reputation as outlined in several other reviews and articles.

That out of the way, let’s begin.

The Sixth Sense. This is a movie about a child psychologist trying to connect with a troubled young boy who can see ghosts. The big twist ending is that the psychologist himself is dead and has been since about ten minutes into the movie when he was shot by a deranged former member of New Kids On The Block. It’s one of the classic twists of the the last 20 years, and was pulled off so perfectly and shrewdly that the movie forces a second watching to see just where and how the filmmakers tricked the audience. From a financial point of view, it’s brilliant. Who doesn’t want to make a movie where people are almost forced to watch it twice?

Safe Haven. This is a romantic drama about two people being dramatically romantic at each other. Alright, that’s not fair. Here I am already being dismissive of the movie I haven’t seen just because it’s a Nicholas Sparks film. A woman with a past makes a new friend in a small North Carolina town and falls in love with a widower. The twist: she doesn’t realize that the friend is why her new lover is a widower, being the ghost of his dead wife and all.

So two movies that have, at the highest level, the same twist. One character is, in fact, dead and a ghost. So why is it that The Sixth Sense is one of IMDb’s Top 250 movies (#142 at the time of writing this), and one of the text book examples of a twist ending, while Safe Haven appears at the top of at least one online rundown of the worst twist endings, and was torn apart in review after review after review by the critics?

Rules. The answer is rules.

Within The Sixth Sense, ghosts are one of the rules of that world. And it’s a very carefully constructed rule. We see them very clearly, and frequently, from Haley Joel Osment’s point of view. They’re established as the literal dead rather than just being a child with an active imagination. That’s what the birthday party scene is all about, why Osment needs to show everyone the video of the mother slowly poisoning her child. It’s a horrific moment, but it cements the last bit of the rule. These are ghosts, no ifs, ands, or buts. So when Bruce Willis turns out to be a ghost, it’s consistent within the world.

In Safe Haven? No review that I’ve read, no plot breakdown, nothing anywhere says that ghosts are an established rule of that universe. Instead the end of the movie just hits the viewer with “Gotcha! It was ghosts all along!”

Why is this less satisfying? Because humans love magic tricks. We like being tricked, but we want to know that there was a trick behind it. After a certain age we no longer believe someone has actually be sawed in half before our very eyes, but we still enjoy suspending our disbelief and getting lost in the showmanship of it. That’s what The Sixth Sense manages. Through careful misdirection the audience misses all the tells the first time through, then on going back can see all the invisible wires and sleight of hand. The audience wants to feel that they could have seen it, could have gotten it all, if they had just paid a little more attention to the magician’s right hand while the left was waving a silk around. Per every review, this is what Safe Haven lacks.

A twist ending as a magic trick isn’t my own metaphor. It’s no coincidence that one of the better twists of the last decade came from a movie about magicians, The Prestige. A movie that, from the outset, all but tells the audience “this whole film is a magic trick, and will engage in a lot of misdirection.” Then the final hammer comes down, and as viewers we forget what we were told, and realize the movie got us.

This is the power of a perfectly crafted twist. It’s almost literally magic. This is also the challenge of perfectly crafting it. M. Night Shyamalan himself has gone on to show it’s not as easy as it looks, especially when people start looking for the strings. How do you do it? I can’t tell you. If I knew how, I’d already have done it. But, as with a lot of writing, looking at examples is one of the best ways forward. Movies are a great source, it’s why I started “A Writer Reviews” as a sub-feature. Looking at films that do things well, looking at films that do things poorly, and recognizing what the difference is between them. That’s your path forward.

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Amazon Presents: Fan Fiction

In the ever-growing push to monetize more and more of the written word, today Amazon announced a new arrow in their quiver: Amazon Worlds. The shortest explanation, the one getting the most play around the internet, is that Amazon is now getting into fan fiction. Which is close enough to correct that anything closer is splitting hairs. Perhaps one might look at these more as tie-in works, but what are tie-in works other than licensed and approved fan fiction and I’m getting ahead of myself.

Deep breath, try again.

It sounds like Amazon Worlds isn’t what most people think of when they think of fan fiction. For one, their first content guideline is “We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.” Their last, “No crossovers from other Worlds are permitted.” So good-bye slash fiction, random sexual romps, and crossovers, some of the pillars of fan fiction. It’s also not what most people think of as fan fiction, because it’s going to be officially licensed. Amazon has lined up the rights to three “Worlds,” those of Gossip Girls, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries. Right now, that’s it, though they’re hinting more in the future. So for now, that Heathcliff fan fiction where he saves the world from an asteroid won’t be paying your mortgage.

Through the licensing of these worlds, it also means that the original content creators will get a piece of the action. How big of a piece, Amazon isn’t saying, which means it might be on a case-by-case basis, or they might just not feel that it matters to enough people. This is good. People getting paid for their creations is the basis of the creative industry. Always has been, always should be.

However…well, we’re creating now a situation where the canon lives side-by-side with the non-canon. Right there in the Kindle store, right there on your reader. Chuck Wendig, in commenting on this, says it perfectly:

Someone might read Book 3 of the Miriam Black series, The Cormorant, and say, “But this doesn’t refer to that time when she time-traveled back to the Old West in that novella, Booby Nuthatch.” And you’re like, “That wasn’t real, though, someone else wrote that.” But then they say: “I PAID FOR IT SO IT FELT REAL TO ME” and then they sob into your shoulder and you wonder suddenly how they got that close and should you call the police? Probably.

Now, there are theoretically going to be “content guidelines” offered by the original creators of these Worlds, “and your work must follow these Content Guidelines.” But these guidelines aren’t up yet. In theory they’ll create a sort of show bible under which the tie-in media is produced, but ultimately this is the creation of non-canon within an author’s world which is given a stamp of authenticity and sold to the consumer. At a reduced rate.

As this is opt-in, there’s no worry about this sneaking up and reducing someone’s brand. Anyone who wants their creation to be thrown open to the Kindle Worlds writers can freely do so, anyone who doesn’t…won’t. It’s potentially great for franchises that the author has reached the end of, as it wouldn’t create the canonical confusion that Chuck Wendig is worried about, allowing for a continued monetization of the world. I like the idea of authors getting paid.

It does create an interesting new twist to rights management. Over on Twitter agent Evan Gregory was kind enough to respond when I asked if this created a new right. He explained these agreements would fall under the derivative rights that are often reserved by the writer and bundled together as part of TV/film rights. “Though I suppose now, for a popular book series, those rights could be licensed separately.”

Welcome to the new frontier in control over rights: the fan fiction rights. Though I didn’t press further, I do wonder what implications there will be if this takes off. When digital published emerged there were a lot of questions about who controlled digital rights on contracts that were negotiated before that was a thing. This will be different. This will be a case of derivative rights being negotiated before a new market for them opened up. If the platform is successful, I suspect we’ll see at least one fight over this.

So…yeah, it’s an interesting platform. It’s opt-in, there’s no immediate sign that any rights holders will be begrudgingly opted-in, the original creator gets a part of the take. It’s an interesting experiment, just not one I see myself taking part in on either end. The only conclusion I think anyone can have right now is a resounding “we’ll see.”

Oh, and…

  • Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.

But that’s a matter for another day.

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World Building Question: Do You Need Change With That?

While I’m working on something rather larger related to maps and the like, I wanted to switch things up and look at the coins you might have in your pocket. Specifically, looking at the etymology of the names of the four most common US coins. But first, let’s start with the general concept of what to call subdivisions of the dollar.

Cent. This comes from the Latin word “centum.” This is an oddly important word when looking at the history of language, as the Indo-European languages are broadly divided into two groups based on their word for “hundred.” Centum languages are those in western Europe, including English, and satem languages spread through Iran and India. This is a whole discussion that I barely understand enough to expound on, but trust me, that’s how linguists divide the Indo-European languages. As for the word “centum,” Latin pronounced it with a hard k. The French, as they did with much Latin, softened the k to an s. They also dropped a syllable. The word then came to the British Isles with the Norman invasion as Old English became Middle English. If anything the use of the word “cent” is a shortening of “percent,” which fits more closely with the original Latin. When we talk about ten percent of the population, we’re talking ten out of every one hundred people. It does make it a linguistic oddity, as the meaning of the word has shifted from hundred to hundredth, which is a demotion of four orders of magnitude.

Penny. Penny is one of those funny words, in that linguists don’t have a solid origin for it. It may come from a word that meant “token.” The bit of the word’s history linguists can track ties it to the German word Pfennig, the pre-Euro division of the German Mark. It’s a word that has meant a small-value coin for centuries, but no one knows quite where it came from. It passed into English, and is currently used as the name of the smallest denomination coin in several English-speaking nations.

Nickel. The nickel was named after the metal which currently makes up 25% of the coin. Have one in your pocket? Pull it out. Look for the word “nickel” anywhere on there. You’re not going to find it. Instead it’s a five cent piece. Through all its incarnations, the coin has never borne the word “nickel” only “five cents” or “5 cents” or “V cents”. In common parlance it’s also been called the “half dime,” as the dime preceded the nickel by 70 years. Being the only coin minted in nickel, it was a natural nickname, and this was in common use by no later than 1919.

Dime. This again represents the move of a word from Latin to French to English. The original Latin is decima pars, which meant a tenth part. Again, this was a Latin hard k. Again, French softened the sound to an s and simplified the syllables, turning the word into disme in Old French, which referred to a tenth part or a tithe. When a ten cent coin was authorized by the United States government in the 1790s, the legislation still spelled the word as “disme”. The s disappeared no later than 1837 when the first ten cent coin with the word “dime” was minted.

Quarter. This one’s easy. As minted, the coin says “quarter dollar” and gets almost universally shortened to just the word “quarter.” It’s the only of the four major coins that is named after the modern English word for the portion of a dollar it represents. We don’t have tenths in our pockets, or twentieths, or hundredths, but we do have quarters. Of course, we also don’t call the 25 cent coin the “fourth.” English has a colloquial term for one fourth that it doesn’t have for any of the other fractions represented by modern coins. Unless you want to count half, as in the half dollar, but that’s mostly minted for collectible purposes. The word itself does made the same Latin to French to English transition (quartus to quartier to quarter), but unlike “cent” or “dime” the meaning of the word survives outside of coinage.

Four coins. One that comes from a word that’s always just meant “coin,” one named after a prominent metal in its minting, one after another language’s version of its value, and only one based on the modern English version of its value.

So what? Why am I talking about etymology of coinage?

Language is a funny thing. I’m sure I’ve said this before in the WBQ series. The point here is similar to the point that I made when looking at the names of the months, or names of days of the week, things that feel like they should have a uniform naming convention often don’t. It’s just one of those things to keep in mind when creating a world. In human languages, uniform naming conventions usually denote recently created words. But disjointed naming conventions speak of a broader and richer history of the language and of the world.

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So here’s the thing…

…I’m working on topics for my next few World Building Question installments. I’m to a subject I’ve wanted to tackle for a while: maps. I can’t be the only speculative fiction writer who has a giddy obsession with maps, largely out of the dream of one day seeing a map in a book I wrote. I’ve even made a few maps for the novel I’m writing with my wife, just to get a sense of the world we’re creating. I open up novels, see the maps at the beginning, and I’m immediately both jealous of the author and oddly proud.

I think this obsession goes back to the grandfather of all novel maps, the famous and still under copyright so I don’t have a picture of it on this post map of Middle Earth drawn for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I don’t need a picture, you know the one I’m talking about. I don’t know my history of fictional cartography well enough to say that’s the first map that appeared in a speculative fiction novel. In fact, I’d be rather shocked if it was. But I think it’s the map we all think of when it comes to maps in books, and it’s the one we all want to have in ours one day.

Not that there aren’t problems with novel maps. As CVS leader Jen Brinn has said in the past, too many books have maps that feel like an itinerary list. If a feature appears on the map, it’s going to come up in the book. Like anything involving art for books, some maps are better than others. Oddly, unlike covers, it’s the maps that hew too closely to the book that are less fantastic. That map in the front of the book that lets the reader track the characters, but then shows some feature off in the corner that’s a mystery? Those are the real works of fantasy, as they inspire the mind.

Also…I just like maps. Old maps, especially, as they can say as much about the person who drew them and the society they were drawn for as they can anything about geography.

Of course, the problem with maps is they’re an inherently visual subject and this blog…well, look, I can embed pictures, I even do some times, but too many of them and posts start to get cluttered. And a few things I think work best animated. So while I’m working on my research, I’m also working on the best way to present the end products. Which might mean videos. Which might mean they take a damn long time, because I’d be teaching myself how to put videos online from scratch. So be patient. Something is on its way. At the very least I’m looking at the questions “Which Way Is Up?” and “What’s At The Center Of The World?” If they work, I might even go back and make video versions of some of the time series. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I’m thinking about keeping it simple, creating PowerPoint presentations of my information, recording my narration, and exporting to video. I’ve found all these features in the program, so I know they exist. I’m also, secretly, looking to get some experience in simple video production as it’ll be a nice boost to the ole resume. So if anyone has any experience or advice they’d like to give, I’m all ears. Let me know in the comments…

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Cat Junk and Wildfires

Little Bird

Don’t trust this face.

Tomorrow the little bird turns eight months old. She’s not that little of a bird anymore. There’s another baby at her daycare that is only four days younger, but my daughter absolutely dwarfs him. Of course, he can crawl, and she has a hard time holding up her giant noggin long enough to get any forward momentum going.

Two days ago I brought her home from daycare and popped her onto the ground to roll around and do some crawling practice. As he sometimes does, our younger, derfier cat decided to come over and roll around, just in case the baby had spontaneously learned how to pet him. His reward wasn’t belly rubs, it was a baby hand slapped on his nether regions, followed by her grabbing a tuft of fur. He’s a good cat, didn’t swipe at her, but certainly yelled and scampered off. I can’t blame him.

I also never thought I’d need to use the phrase “Don’t grab the cat’s junk.” English is funny that way. Words that have no right being in a sentence together can form these novel and horrible thoughts.

This morning I was watching the news while she played in her saucer. It’s the time of year for California wildfires, and she was watching the reporting intently. Probably because they were actually showing someone talking on-screen. While we won’t ever let the television babysit her, combining faces and words is helpful, so much so that some studies have suggested that American Idol is actually better baby television than Baby Einstein, as the latter has a disembodied voice, but the former almost always shows the person currently talking/singing. Blew my mind to learn that. Anyway, baby has the posture of someone on the edge of her seat, but as soon as the anchor saying “10,000 acres have burned,” she leans back with a smile crossing her face. It’s the moment in the movie when the evil mastermind sees that his plan is working, that moment of self-satisfaction.

Sure, it’s easy to read into randomly timed movements. It’s fun, too.

That’s it. Just two little vignettes from the life of an almost-but-not-quite eight month old.

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State of the Writer: May 2013

Focusing on the positive: This month I got some good world building done on the Sarah Constant series. The very last bit of writing related anything I did this month was come up with a major plot character for book two (probably won’t be a POV character, but is important to the story). Which…on one hand that’s dangerous, gotta get book one written first, but on the other hand it’s exciting to know that I’ve got a place to take this series beyond the first novel. I’ve also started some high level outlining, trying to break down the major plotlines into the seven beat structure I borrowed from Dan Wells a way back long time ago. At least knowing where each plot line starts gives me a structure for the first few chapters of the outline, which should help me see where all these plots are going and where I still have questions about the ship.

Still hoping to get a big chunk of the rough draft done in November.

State of the writer’s bees: I didn’t really put up a post about this, but we’ve got two hives once again in the back yard. This year we went with package bees, which is what most people think of when they think of bee deliveries. We paid our money, we were told when and where to show up, and when we did so we got two boxes full of bees. Nothing else, just 9000-10000 bees in a box with four wooden sides and two mesh ones, plus a can of sugar water to keep them fed during transport. It’s a little more complicated to put package bees into a hive, though we also didn’t do any of the methods we saw on Youtube.

Here’s how hard core beekeepers install packages. They open the box up, pull out the can and the queen cage, then just shake all the bees out into the hive. That just makes me think about the bee scene from The Wicker Man. We were a little more careful, opened up the packages, put them in the bottom of the hive, and just let the bees come out on their own. So much less stress on the bees, and more importantly, the beekeepers. Now we’ve got happy bees again, flying around like they’re supposed to, and this weekend we’re going to make sure our two new queens (Peachtree and Umbriel) are laying eggs and haven’t been horribly murdered by their loyal subjects.

State of the writer’s beer: The boysenberry stout recipe has some room for improvement, though I’m still a neophyte on how to make beer, much less improve a recipe. I still have hopes for this being my signature beer. What we have isn’t going to win any contests, but is certainly a pleasurable drinking experience.

May should be an interesting month. Saturday the baby turns eight months, and will probably get her first trip downtown on the Metro as there’s an exhibit my wife and I want to get to before it closes, and it closes on Sunday. She’s been an absolute delight lately, and really deserves her own post in the near future.

We’re into month five of the Great Hugo Read, which is the second month of 2013 nominees. That means Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, which is available in hardback or paperback at your favorite local independent or chain bookstore, in all your favorite electronic formats, and from Audible. I’m still slogging through a book on the archaeological proof of the people who spoke Proto-Indo-European, I’ll be picking up Moon in a few days.

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