Thanks for the therms!

On behalf of all the Frozen North, I would like to thank my 3.6 Loyal Readers most humbly for their generous outpouring of heat. Degrees have been arriving from as far away as Australia.

[Read more…]

Demon weather

I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all makes everything in New England but the weather. I don’t know who makes that, but I think it must be raw apprentices in the weather-clerk’s factory who experiment and learn how, in New England, for board and clothes, and then are promoted to make weather for countries that require a good article, and will take their custom elsewhere if they don’t get it.

—Mark Twain, ‘Speech on the Weather’

And what happens to the apprentices who flunk out of the New England weather factory? They get sent to Alberta, that’s what.

Where Angels Die is fiction, mostly, and rather fantastical fiction at that, but there are one or two points on which it draws from life with stark and unvarnished realism. One of these is what I have called the ‘demon weather’. When the demons attack a warm, temperate or subtropical country like Anai, the first sign of their appearance is that the weather goes sour. Winter lasts for eight or nine months of the year, the sun is blotted out by a perpetual overcast, and when it should by nature be spring or autumn, it stays just cold enough to snow, and just warm enough to let some of the snow thaw now and then so it can refreeze as iron-hard ice, just to keep the locals busy and entertained. Much like this:

Beautiful spring in sunny Alberta

This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the kind of weather we have been having here in the Frozen North through the whole of April so far. Once or twice I have seen the sun, but the clouds moved in quickly to censor it again. At the moment we are having one of our miniature thaws. I call it a thaw, because some of the snow on the ground melts, but not any of the ice. Meanwhile it keeps right on snowing, in a lazy and desultory way. At night the temperature dips solidly below freezing (it touched zero degrees Fahrenheit a day or two ago), and the snow-melt turns to slick black ice. When morning comes, the ice is cleverly concealed beneath a fresh dusting of snow, and the cycle repeats.

I have been gobbling Vitamin D supplements, but even so, this weather – and this much of it – is, I frankly admit, wearing me down. It is hard to get up the gumption to write, or to do anything else but the bare minimum of daily chores.

I therefore call upon you, my 3.6 Loyal Readers, for help. If any of you are living in warm and sunny climes, where the demons never reach and the weather-factory turns out a decent article suitable for export, see if you can find it in your hearts to send us a degree. Fahrenheit or Celsius makes no difference; send whatever you can spare. Five extra degrees will make each day’s snowfall run off before nightfall, putting a stop to the glaciation underneath. Ten degrees will stop the nightly freeze-out. Fifteen degrees (if so many generous souls respond to this impassioned plea) will banish the demons and apprentice weather-clerks back where they came from, to Hades or Hartford or wherever they rightly belong, and bring thousands of suffering Canadian children their first true experience of spring. Flowers will bloom, grass will grow, and the Earth itself will turn more happily on its axis. Do it for the Children, for the Planet, or for the rich and noble tax deduction.

Please give generously; or else keep your distance until June.

A joyous Easter to all

I have never been in the habit of playing practical jokes, not even on the first of April, since that was my late father’s birthday and his sense of humour did not extend to such things. (He would have been 91 today, and I still miss him sorely.) This year, April 1 is a doubly solemn day. So I offer my good wishes to all for a happy and joyous Easter; even to those who do not celebrate the day (and I hope they will pardon me for it).

Christ is risen, and it’s not a joke.

14 minutes of fame

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.

—Andy Warhol

It seems the renowned Mr. Warhol was off by one minute. At least in the case of Scott Foster, a Chicago-area accountant who plays goal in a men’s recreational hockey league.

At every game in the National Hockey League, the home team is required to supply an emergency goaltender. Since every team has two goalies to begin with, a starter and a backup, the emergency goalie’s job normally consists of sitting in the press box and munching on free food supplied by the catering staff.

This season, Foster was one of the emergency goalies on the list of the Chicago Blackhawks, sitting in at about a dozen of their home games. Last night, in a game against the Winnipeg Jets, lightning struck. [Read more…]

A little bit wrong

Quia parvus error in principio magnus est in fine.
(For a little error in the beginning is a great error in the end.)

—St. Thomas Aquinas, opening line of De ente et essentia

Most modern people have a dangerous and deplorable habit of jumping into arguments in medias res, not bothering to inquire into the basic assumptions made by either side. Their most fiercely held opinions are apt to be based on someone else’s errors, and they don’t even know it. The people who made those mistakes were a little bit wrong; the people who take their conclusions on trust go wrong on the titanic scale.


Today I am setting out to continue work on ‘The Little Charter’. I hope I have not made a ‘little error’ in the first chapter this time. Things go pear-shaped so fast when I do.

Back in the saddle

The Beloved Other is getting past the crisis at Wreck Tech: one of her courses finished today, and she’s pretty sure she passed the final exam. That makes easier going for the rest of the term, with no more classes on Wednesdays. Easter is on its way, the sky is getting lighter, and I have been taking stiff doses of vitamin D to rev my sluggish metabolism. And I have, thanks partly to the encouragement of my 3.6 Loyal Readers, begun slowly working again.

Where Angels Die has lain fallow so long (and against my original intentions) that I could not look at it without a pang of guilt. Part of the trouble was that I published the first episode without having done enough of the necessary background work. And then the second episode proved stubborn, and I made four or five false starts over the course of many months. But I think (and my Editorial Consultant, the fine and capable Wendy S. Delmater, agrees) that I have nailed it this time round.

So here, after long delay, is the opening chapter of Episode 2, ‘The Little Charter’.


 

Chapter 1
MOSQUITO AT THE GATE

 

There was a commotion at the gate of Angel Keep, and Ham Yushon, known to all and sundry as Greyhand, was the first man out to see to it. It was his business to be first, as Baron Vail’s unofficial steward: first to arrive whenever there was news, first to bear the word back to his master. Things were so much harder to manage if the Baron heard six conflicting stories first and Greyhand had to set him straight. He was not a man who took confusion in his stride. [Read more…]

Happy St. Ersatz Day!

Begob and begorrah, ’tis St. Paddy’s Day, that special time o’ the year when authentic Irish bars are filled with authentic Irishmen drinking authentic Irish green beer… men with authentic Irish names like O’Schmidt, O’Mukherjee, and O’Chang.

In the spirit of which, we bring you this fine performance of ‘Danny Boy’, by three of the finest authentic Irish singers of our time.

Sláinte mhuppet!

Wodehouse submits to an Editor

In my recent illness, I have been reading large quantities or gobs of the early P. G. Wodehouse. A few years ago, Golgotha Press, a firm of whose existence I until recently remained culpably unaware, released a vast compendium of thirty-odd Wodehouse books which had fallen into the public domain, for the derisory price of a dollar. (You can find them on iTunes if you search for Wodehouse, but the collection does not appear to be available on Amazon.) Under U.S. copyright law, I am told, anything published before 1923 is fair game, and I have been dining these many days on aged roast Wodehouse.

If anybody wants to know what it was like for Wodehouse, as a short-story writer in the early years of the twentieth century, to submit his work to a magazine, the process was essentially the same as it is today. Observe the following account: [Read more…]

Catching up

I should perhaps let you know, my 3.6 Loyal Readers, that I have been bogged down in a new set of troubles, now that the old ones have partly lifted. Fortunately, the new ones do not bid to be as durable. They don’t make ’em like they used to – thank God. [Read more…]

C.S.L. on dialogue

In correcting dialogue it is useful to imagine it being acted on the stage or at least read aloud. Is there anything which, before a large audience, you wd. feel embarrassed at – anything which an actor wd. find it difficult to say? It must always sound like real conversation but must be in reality clearer and more economical than that. Literature is an art of illusion.

—C. S. Lewis

(From a letter to Sister Penelope CSMV, 31 August 1948. Printed in The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, vol. 2.)