Science Fiction Fangirls

When I first began reading science fiction I had no idea I was in the minority–a female fan. Next to classical literature, science fiction is my favorite genre. Perhaps growing up in the west it was a natural extension of my love of pioneer and explorer stories or the fact that my religious upbringing forbid reading fiction let alone science fiction. Whatever the reason I became a life long fan.

So science fiction fangirls what are the books that hooked you and turned you into a lifelong fan of this very special genre?

Here’s my list:

  • Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

These were the first science fiction books I read, and I was instantly enchanted.

  • Cyteen, Hellburner and Heavy Time by C.J. Cherryh

I had never read anything like it and still haven’t. Cherryh has a unique voice and plus, she lives in my hometown.

  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov

A classic especially for a history buff like me.

  • Enders’ Game by Orson Scott Card

When I discovered that Card had a conservative religious background similar to mine it inspired me to pursue a creative life.

  • Dune by Frank Herbert

I could write a whole blog on my fascination with Dune and maybe someday I will.

 

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Declutter Your Prose: Three More Phrases to Avoid

The Daily Post

In the spring, we noted some examples of phrases that might be distracting or unnecessary in your prose. Since many of you found these suggestions helpful, here’s another round of phrases to avoid:

1. In today’s blog…

Interested in more blog vs. post discussions? Read Slate’s take, Meg Pickard’s note on terminology, and Kristen Havens’ semantics lesson.

blog is your site, posts and pages and all. What you probably meant to write is: “In today’s post…” Or: “In today’s blog post…” Posts make up the content you create on a regular basis, while your blog is your complete online home, your site, on which you publish your posts.

That said, think back to other introductory phrases we’ve talked about: “In this post, I will explain…” or “Today, I will write about…”

This phrase, too, is unnecessary:

In today’s blog, I’d like to share some of the best…

View original post 447 more words

“Wolf” by Jim Ringel

WolfA boy and his dog becomes a man that carries the remains of his dog in a vial. That is just the beginning of the bizarre world, but too close to ours to be comfortable, Jim Ringel has created in “Wolf”. A world without dogs or is it?
Johnny Wolfe tries to answer this question, and recapture the innocence lost when the dogs were killed, many by the ex-wife he still loves. If only he can make a sale he will win her back. When a colleague dies, Johnny discovers a large sales order in the dead man’s pocket, and Johnny believes his problems are solved. But what is the product? The order number doesn’t match anything in his company’s catalog. As Johnny works to unravel the mystery he finds himself in the middle of a nefarious plot to create the perfect customer.

At times the plot is opaque and maze like with lots of dead ends. All the characters constantly contradict themselves, and neither Johnny nor the reader can believe a thing they say.

I also felt there was no real grieving over the loss of dogs, and the story never explains how Johnny could still be in love with his ex-wife, the dog murderer.

However, the true brilliance in “Wolf” isn’t the eerie mystery or a world without dogs, but the portrait of the modern salesperson. As Johnny explains, “It’s a job for loners and losers, a pasted smile, a knack for being disconnected and loud, slapping backs, all covering how much you’ve slipped away from yourself. The strength to not see yourself as you really are.”

And later on the antagonist notes, “sales is a scary profession. No certainty. Clients wear you down. They argue about price, they argue about delivery. Still, we’re professionals. We bow to them, buy into their fragile egos. The customer’s always right, whoever started that ridiculous little adage should be shot. That’s why we need guns. To shoot the ridiculous adage makers.”

“Wolf” is an intriguing novel that will have you clinging to your dog while desperately hoping it is describing a future that will never come true.

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

The Mark of the Dragonfly

 

In a land where strange things fall from the sky during meteor showers Piper find the strangest thing of all: a girl. However, Anna isn’t just any girl she’s something more, and she bears the mark of the dragonfly, an elaborate tattoo that marks her as one of the king’s own. Hoping to return Anna home Piper boards the 401 train guarded by Gee, who has a secret of his own.

I loved this book. Its part science fiction, part fantasy with a little steampunk thrown in. The characters are great, although, I thought Piper seemed older than thirteen and some situations made me uncomfortable because of her age.

I can’t wait to read the sequel,and explore more of the fascinating world of Solace.

7 Days in San Francisco

 

 While New York might be “the city that never sleeps” San Francisco still has more than enough to keep you busy for a week. In fact, you will soon realize that 7 days is not enough to explore this fascinating city.

Day 1

Since I was attending Cisco Live at the Moscone Center I chose the nearby Hotel Zetta. The hotel is located in the area South of Market known as SoMa.

If you arrive before check in leave your luggage with the friendly staff and head to the Yerba Buena Gardens. The gardens are oasis in the midst of busy SoMa. Grab some food from one of the many restaurants that surround the gardens and have a picnic underneath one of the shady trees.

Hotel Zetta is a fun, urban hotel with cool décor. Checkout the chandelier made from eye glass frames by the elevators. Rooms are clean and come with Jawbone Bluetooth devices. Link up your iPad and fill your room with tunes.

There is always a full pitcher of lemon water, and the room service men, although limited, is tasty and innovative.

Unfortunately, the beds are very uncomfortable. Multiple guests complained about them. You can have all the amenities and charm, but if you can’t get a decent nights rest the rest is for naught.

For a low key hangout nearby “The Chieftain” is the place. A cozy Irish pub with tasty food and Guinness and other Irish beers on draft. Want something stronger? The pub has a good collection of Scotch and Whiskeys. For something light try their salad with seared Ahi tuna on top.

Day 2

The MOMA is closed for renovations until 2016. In the meantime check out the Cartoon Art Museum. Explore the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Retrospective or Pretty in Ink an exhibit about women cartoonists.

For coffee enthusiasts Blue Bottle Coffee in Mint PlazaIMG_0547 is a must. Haven’t had Siphon brewed coffee? Try it here. Siphon

brewed coffee uses a complex process that produces a tea-like cup of coffee. Don’t bother bringing your laptop as there is usually a line out the door. You will want to roll your eyes and laugh when the barista takes ten minutes to explain how your $10 cup of coffee was brewed using a method called Nel and a flannel sock. He encourages you to sip it like wine and you do because it’s a small cup and you paid $10 for it. The thing is Blue Bottle Coffee lives up to the hype. The coffee is amazing and the food delicious Just the sourdough toast and jam will make you swoon. Blue Bottle truly is where pretentiousness meets perfection.

Day 3

Of course you can’t come to San Francisco and not take the trolley. Be prepared to stand in line, but the views are worth it. As you clang up the hill, the bay plays peek a boo with the skyscraperphotos in the Financial District.

For a twist on one of Francisco’s famous landmarks run up Lombard Street. Afterwards walk down the hill through North Beach admiring the views—on clear days you can see the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Day 4

Explore the Mission District.

If it’s a sunny day do what San Franciscans do have a picnic in Dolores Park. Pick up lunch and a freshly baIMG_0551ked pastry at Tartine Bakery and Cafe. For someone that is not a fan of banana anything their Banana Cream tarts blew me away. So fresh and light, cuddled in flaky pastry.

Or get an afternoon snack and a beer at Cervecería de MateVeza Brewery on the corner of the park. Relax in a window seat, and recharge with a caffeinated Mate Yerba Mate IPA. The artisanal beers pair wonderfully with the piping hot empanadas made by El Porteño.

Day 5

Head to iconic Fisherman’s Wharf.

If Alcatraz is booked, tour the restored Liberty ship the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. The SS Jeremiah O’Brien is one of only two remaining fully functional Liberty ships of the 2,710 built and launched during World War II. The O’Brien has the distinction of being the last unaltered Liberty ship and remains historically accuratIMG_0558e. Climb the ladders down into the heart of ship and watch the volunteer engineers get the ship ready for a weekend cruise. Afterwards refresh with a 60oz margarita and some Dungeness Crab. Then head over to Pier 39 to watch the Sea Lions play.

 

 

Day 6

Stroll through Chinatown. When your senses have been satiated turn right before you reach Broadway into Jack Kerouac alley and follow it to City Lights Books. After you’ve  found that hard to find gem or out of print book, renergize with coffee and a cookie at Café Trieste.

Day 7

Visit the Academy of Sciences—a San Francisco institution devoted to research and educational outreach. Explore exhibits such as the planetarium, tropical rainforest or the aquarium where you can meet Claude, the albino alligator.

 

 

Hotel Zetta

www.viceroyhotelgroup.com/en/zetta

Restaurants

The Chieftain

www.thechieftain.com

Blue Bottle Coffee

www.bluebottlecoffee.com

Tartine Bakery & Cafe

www.tartinebakery.com

Cervecería de MateVeza

http://cerveceriasf.com

Café Trieste

www.caffetrieste.com

Attractions

Cartoon Art Museum

www.cartoonart.org

City Light Books

www.citylights.com

SS Jeremiah O’Brien

www.ssjeremiahobrien.org

The Academy of Sciences

www.calacademy.org

 

Atlanta: Short and Sweet

In Atlanta for a couple of days? Head over to Flip Burger Boutique in Midtown. Flip Burger Boutique does not look like the typical burger joint, it’s sleek and sexy with chrome chairs and white leather booths. TV screens are framed with baroque frames painted white.

The restaurant is owned by Richard Blais. The chef known for his ingenious and innovative style of cooking, and winner of Top Chef Season 8, All Stars.

What really surprised me was the restraint the food showed. The onion rings dipped in tempura batter are impossibly light although they do have a strange shortening like aftertaste. The pickles are to die for, savory with just a hint of sweetness. They come in a cute little jar, and I wanted to buy an entire case.

Order the Butcher’s Cut burger: caramelized onion, Bleu cheese, red wine jam, frisee, pickled shallots and truffle vinaigrette. It was perfection. The red wine jam was delicious and the frisee added a spark of freshness.

Or try The Burger of the day : country fried beef with pimento cheese, green tomato chow-chow and bread and butter pickles. It was good, but could have used a splash of spiciness.

The next day I headed to the World of Coca-Cola for a behind the scenes look at my favorite soda.The mini factory tour with the temperamental Fizzy bot, a production robot was fun. They start with an empty bottle and it goes through the process and is sent upstairs where you get to take it home. And it says made in Atlanta.

Of course the best part of the tour is trying the various Coke products produced around the world. Out of 64 I managed to try about 30. My favorite was the Frosty Melon from Thailand.

The World of Coca-Cola is located at Pemberton Place; the Georgia Aquarium, Olympic Centennial Park and CNN are also within walking distance.

Buzzing on my sugar high,  I headed to the quaint neighborhood of Virginia-Highlands. I found myself in Atkins Park Tavern, “Atlanta’s oldest continuously licensed tavern”. My comfy booth and the gloomy interior were a panacea to my over caffeinated nerves.

The tavern has free Wi-Fi so I was able to catch up on a few emails while I snacked on boiled peanuts, southern bar food and fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese risotto and quenched my thirst with a couple pints of Abita Restoration Pale Ale.

I ended the day in true southern fashion by picking up some barbecue at the Barbecue Kitchen; a popular local place–especially on Sunday. The pork and beef brisket is good, but the true star is the Brunswick stew. The tomato-based stew was thick with barbecued pork, charred corn and beans.

 

 

Travel Info

FLIP Burger

www.flipburgerboutique.com

 

World of Coca-Cola

Cost is $16 for an adult ticket

www.worldofcoca-cola.com

 

Atkins Park Tavern

atkinspark.com

 

Barbecue Kitchen

1437 Virginia Ave

College Park, GA30337

(404) 766-9906

Review of “Where Things Come Back”

  Where Things Come Back  

Book Review

 

Seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter is serving his last year in the dullest town in America when his cousin dies, his brother disappears and everyone becomes obsessed with finding a supposedly extinct woodpecker.

I wanted to love this book, I really, really did. It has all the ingredients of a beautiful coming-of-age story: a relatable and complex teenage protagonist, a mystery, friendship, awkward dating situations, and a small town with its priorities so skewed the possible return of a vanished bird is more important than finding a missing boy.

That would seem to be more than enough themes for any book, especially a Young Adult book that’s only 228 pages, but no it also includes religion, second chances, resurrection, suicide, dealing with grief, psychological issues, and first loves. It’s as if the author crammed every idea he had into one book. There are also the beginnings of several great characters such as Benton who becomes a missionary and travels to the other side of the world in attempt to obtain his father’s approval, but the author picks them up, plays with them for a while and then drops them like a distracted child.

However, every once in a while a writer creates a character so real, so powerful it transcends a story’s imperfections. Cullen Witter is that character. You will relate to him, you will laugh with him, you will grieve with him and you will hope with him. He’s the reason to read “Where Things Come Back”.