If you hang around writer-types for any length of time, you will eventually be treated to a rant on the decline of the English language. We rant about everything from poor grammar to worse punctuation to loss and/or cheapening of vocabulary. This is my contribution to the latter category.
Why is everything these days “perfect”? I know what perfect means, and somehow, I don’t think it applies to my order in a restaurant. Why is my order “perfect”? What would make it imperfect? Omitting the fries? Ordering the wrong beverage? And who is the server to tell me if my order is perfect or not? Do they know who I am, or what I want or need? Why are an evening’s plans “perfect”? Could there be no better plans? Does that make every evening that goes according to the plan a perfect evening?
“Perfect” has come to mean something other than “without flaw or defect.” It has come to mean “appropriate” or “I approve” or even “that makes sense to me.” Really? So what do we say when we mean something is without flaw or defect? Flawless? (I swear, if a restaurant server tells me my order is flawless, I’m likely to get up and leave.) What, now, is a perfect copy? One that is an exact copy of the original? Or simply one that’s appropriate to the situation?
We did the same thing to “awesome” back in the…80s? It no longer means something that fills you with awe, it just means something you like. We’ve taken the depth and the richness right out of it. Diminished it. Let’s go back to an adjective that is appropriate to the depth of feeling we have for things like plans to see a movie or an order for a cheeseburger. Those things are not perfect.
Hi, gang! Just heard from editor John Joseph Adams that the anthology “Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse” is now available in several formats here. It includes my short story “Artie’s Angels,” set in a dystopian future with young Arthurian characters on bicycles. (No, no jousting, although I was sorely tempted.) And if audio isn’t your thing, the mass market paperback edition should be available in early 2015.
And speaking of 2015…someone just pointed out to me that” Back to the Future 2″ took place in 2015. Yikes!
I was listening to NPR the other day–I forget which program–and they interviewed a researcher who has successfully taken skin cells, treated them to make them blank like T-cells, then injected them into sperm-bearing places in mice. The result: they became primitive sperm cells. The idea, of course, is to help infertile couples conceive, but the ramifications are…interesting. The article pointed out that some enterprising person might collect skin cells from famous people, or even dead people (provided the cells were still viable), and create offspring for that individual. Even without the individual’s knowledge or consent.
Wow. Now, there’s a–if you’ll pardon the pun–fertile idea for science fiction if I ever heard one. Stories about cloning generally start with an egg and involve the participation of the donor, but this… You could snatch a hair, and if it had a couple of skin cells attached, you’d have your material. The NPR piece talked about possible legislation to forbid making someone a parent without his consent, but that would just force the practice into the black market.
Hm. What kind of a sleazebag would steal skin cells, turn them into sperm, and sell them? And what kind of desperate or obsessive people would buy them? Definitely a story in there somewhere, if I can just find it…
Woo-hoo! Just found out “The Earth Saver,” Book 3 of the Coconino trilolgy, is also available now. Amazon, B&N, iBook Store, SmashWords, and maybe some other places, so check your favorite vendor. Same for “Children of the Earth.”
And a special welcome to all the new fans who’ve signed up in the past week. Glad to have you aboard!
I’m actually working on a short story now that’s a prequel to the trilogy. Just haven’t quite figured out where it’s going yet. But I’ve got some interesting characters I’m playing with, so no doubt something will come of it.
I just checked the Phoenix Pick website, and “Children of the Earth” is now available for purchase as ebook or paperback from amazon. I finished proofing the galleys for that last of the trilogy, “The Earth Saver,” before we went cruising, so I’m hoping it, too, will be on the market by the time TusCon rolls around at the end of October. Hope to see you all there!
Go rent “Odd Thomas” on DVD. Seriously. Whether you’re a Dean Koontz fan or not, this is a really well-done movie with lots of action, excellent special effects, and a storyline that will keep you fully engaged. If you’ve read the book, you will find the movie a faithful adaptation, and if you haven’t read the book, you’ll just enjoy it as a good movie. Not sure what complications kept it from being released in the theaters, but it certainly had nothing to do with the quality of the product.
About a month ago, I promised a few words about our cruise through the Panama Canal. The words that come to mind are fabulous, amazing, incredible, etc., but that’s not very helpful is it?
First, let’s bust a few myth-conceptions about the Canal. From San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale, you’d think we’d be traveling west to east, right? Wrong. Because of the way the isthmus loops back on itself, we actually entered southeast of our exit. There are three locks on the Pacific side (southeast) and three on the Atlantic or Caribbean side (northwest), with a long channel and an artificial lake between. This is because the route crosses the Continental Divide, so ships are raised going in and lowered going out. The current Canal–and yes, it is being enlarged, and yes, there is serious talk of a second canal through Nicaragua–has two lanes of traffic so ships can pass in the night, as it were, although frequently both lanes run the same direction: in at dawn and out at dusk. To traverse the Canal is an 8-hour proposition.
We woke the morning of our transit to find the ship already passing under the Bridge of the Americas into the harbor. Cruise ships pay an extra fee to make their transit at a set time; others must wait in queue. Our ship, the Celebrity Century, is one of the largest that can traverse the current Canal; when we had eased into the first lock, there was about 12 inches of clearance on each side. To prevent the ship from drifting up against the walls, small locomotives called mules (yeah, yeah, “I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal) fasten cables to the ship from each side and draw them tight. These locomotive don’t pull the ship–the ship’s engine does that–put they keep it in place as it waits for the lock to fill/empty, and then guide it through to the next lock.
The whole process was fascinating to watch. I sat up on Deck 10 in the gym, looking through the bow windows and watching water gush through pipes into the lock to raise us. Not far away, a loud-mouthed individual kept harping on how “inefficient” the process was. “Why isn’t the lock filling?” he asked. “They should be filling it the minute the gates are closed.” His wife tried to tell him that they were, and I could see the water level rising at an astounding rate by the lines on the lock gates. Despite this evidence, the man insisted the locks were not filling. “Inefficient!” he kept saying. “Wasteful!” It took about 15 or 20 minutes to raise a ship with 1800 passengers and 1200 crew, and still he howled, “Inefficient!”
All I could think was, And this is the kind of person who thinks he should run the government…
My dad passed away last week. It was not unexpected; he was 97 and had been in hospice for a couple of months. I was prepared for his passing, and when it finally came, I made reservations to fly back to North Dakota where, not only would the Clan gather, but dozens of neighbors and friends would join us to celebrate a life richly lived by one of the kindest, most humble souls any of us has ever known. On Friday morning my husband and I drove 120 miles to a regional airport to catch a flight on a low-cost carrier, one of the few airlines that serves cities in North Dakota.
Now, I have flown this carrier before and not been pleased. Like most low-cost airlines, they treat you like cattle and tack on extra fees until the cost savings is minimal. But it was a direct flight from Phoenix to Fargo, three hours, no chance of lost luggage. We arrived at the airport an hour and a quarter before the scheduled departure, and my husband went to check our flight on the status board.
It said Canceled.
He checked his email–no message of cancellation. He checked the Allegiant website–it still said On Time. But as we waited in line to check in, the message came back, relayed from passenger to passenger: yes, the flight was canceled. Why? No one knew. The ground crew were contractors, and they had no information except that the flight would go out the following morning at 9:00 am. My dad’s funeral was at 10:30.
We frantically drove to the major airport, Sky Harbor, and found a Frontier flight through Denver to Fargo. As we booked it, an email finally arrived from Allegiant saying their flight was canceled. Then the Frontier flight was delayed and we learned there was no chance of making our connection. If we went to Denver, they couldn’t get us to Fargo until Sunday or Monday. We canceled off that flight (fully refunded), but it was too late to get our bag off.
No bag, no flight, no way to make the funeral. When I recovered from my emotional meltdown, we drove home–120 miles–packed another bag, slept in our own bed, and drove back the following morning to take the rescheduled Allegiant flight. I reached my brother’s house at 3:00 pm, four hours after 150 people, including friends I had not seen in years, gathered to offer their condolences and support. By the time I got there, all but family had gone home.
Later we learned Allegiant had no pilot for the Friday flight. They have trouble keeping pilots; I guess they don’t treat them any better than they do their customers.
So here’s the lesson from my experience: Never trust an airline. Though I hated their poor service and money-gouging practices, I still trusted Allegiant to get me where I needed to be. They failed me. I will never trust an airline again. I most certainly will never fly Allegiant, and I’m not alone. If you own Allegiant stock, you might want to think about that.
Whew! Just got back from a cruise through the Panama Canal–more on that later–and guess what? My short story “Into the Desolation” is out in the January issue of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show! It’s an ezine, so don’t look for it in stores. It’s here: http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/cgi-bin/mag.cgi?do=issue&vol=i37&article=_006
And you can read my comments on its creation on their blog here: http://sideshowfreaks.blogspot.com/2014/02/into-desolation-by-catherine-wells.html
I was a theatre major way back in the day, and my first writing success was as a playwright. I drifted away from it when I found out novels pay better, but now and then I get the urge to go back. It’s usually sparked by attending a live performance. So last week I saw Winding Road Theatre’s dynamic production of “Cabaret.” Forget the film version–the stage show will send chills up your spine when done right, and believe me, this was done right.
No, I don’t have any plans to sit down and write another play. I’ve just started a new novel, and I have two musicals sitting on the shelf because they are so blasted hard to market. The only way to sell a play is to get it produced, and I refuse to produce my own stuff. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m a lousy producer, and my plays deserve someone better. But seeing that kind of energy, that kind of artistry, up on the stage…it did bring back memories. One of these days…