Blog

A friendly face

At the cof­fee shop this grey Mon­day morn­ing, the young woman behind me asked if I used to work at the research sta­tion. I said no, I’ve worked at the uni­ver­si­ty for 25 years¹.

You look famil­iar, though,” she said. “Maybe it’s just that you’ve got a friend­ly face.”

It’s good to know that my Mon­day face was­n’t a scowl.


¹ !

Subvert all the expectations

Maman, the spider, with Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica behind

I came across this well-worn but still valid piece of writ­ing advice on Twit­ter yes­ter­day:

If you plan on sub­vert­ing [expec­ta­tions], you need to sub­vert with the goal of some­thing BETTER.

And now today, on CBC’s Sun­day Edi­tion, they’re talk­ing about Robert Mun­sch’s game-chang­ing book The Paper Bag Princess, which came out in that long-ago era of 1980 and sub­vert­ed all the expec­ta­tions about what a fairy tale should be.

I remem­ber dis­cov­er­ing (or per­haps re-dis­cov­er­ing) The Paper Bag Princess in my twen­ties. As a young man who had heard a mil­lion fairy tales with the “and then they got mar­ried” hap­pi­ly-ever-after end­ing, it was a very dif­fer­ent end­ing than I was expect­ing: the princess does­n’t mar­ry the prince, not even after res­cu­ing him from the drag­on.

It was a dif­fer­ent kind of end­ing, but still a hap­py end­ing. Maybe not so hap­py for the prince, but then he did noth­ing to earn a hap­py end­ing. It sub­vert­ed the trope and made a new, bet­ter thing from it.

So go: sub­vert the expec­ta­tions. Sub­vert all the expec­ta­tions. Make it bet­ter.

Head­er image: Maman, across the street from Notre-Dame Cathe­dral Basil­i­ca, in Ottawa.

Books I enjoyed in 2019

A bookmark painted by Hallie Bateman

Over on Twit­ter, Rose­mary Mosco asked about books read and loved in the past year. I took a look at my list, and here are some of the high­lights of the year so far, in no dis­cernible order:

  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amar el-Mohtar and Max Glad­stone (reviewed here)
  • Peace by Gene Wolfe (Quite a nov­el, and slat­ed for a re-read some­time in the next few years)
  • The City in the Mid­dle of the Night by Char­lie Jane Anders (a first-con­tact nov­el unlike any­thing I’ve read before)
  • The Iron Drag­on’s Moth­er by Michael Swan­wick (a fit­ting cap­stone to a fre­quent­ly aston­ish­ing fan­ta­sy tril­o­gy)
  • Son of a Trick­ster and Trick­ster Drift by Eden Robin­son (reviewed here; I can­not wait for vol­ume 3 or the CBC series)
  • The Infi­nite Black­top by Sara Gran (the 3rd book in the Claire Dewitt series; absolute­ly worth it)
  • Get in Trou­ble, by Kel­ly Link (re-read; reviewed here)

How was your year in read­ing?

Pylons down

Hydro pylons lie on the ground near Winnipeg

I took this pho­to just out­side Head­in­g­ley on my way home from Win­nipeg. I’m not sure if the ones lying down were felled in the Thanks­giv­ing storm, or if they’re meant to replace weak­ened pylons (though I lean toward the for­mer).

[Update, 8 Jan. 2020] They’re replac­ing the pylons, or sup­ple­ment­ing them. The last time we went into Win­nipeg, on Box­ing Day, the pylons were now stand­ing, though not yet strung with wires.