One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes
Just finished John Barnes’s 1996 fantasy novel, One for the Morning Glory — about which I’d heard good things, so when I saw it at the library I picked it up. Most of the reviews I’ve seen compare it with The Princess Bride, but I think that’s superficial: it’s because both are playful and light in tone, rather than the heavy high-vatic drudgery one expects from epic fantasy. True, this is a fairy tale that does not take itself completely seriously; but, while the tone is light, breezy and immediately engaging, the story itself is not frivolous, and is at times quite dark. It is, as some have commented, the Brothers Grimm at novel length, with the wonderfully subversive proviso that the characters themselves are fully aware that they themselves are in the middle of a Tale, and conduct themselves accordingly. It’s tremendous fun, and worth a read if you can find a copy; unfortunately it appears to be out of print at the moment.
January 23, 2005
Making Book by Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Late last week, a copy of Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s Making Book finally arrived from Amazon; I’d ordered it in late December (that’s “special order” for you). It’s an interesting collection of short pieces on diverse topics — often autobiographical, such as getting excommunicated by the Mormons or dealing with narcolepsy, and often whimsical. It reads, in other words, like a blog before the fact: proof positive that such writings did exist before them thar Internets; they were just in zines and such, and as such harder to find. More to the point, it reads like Teresa’s excellent blog.
The meat of the book, in substance if not in length, is the essay “On Copyediting,” derived from an internal document at Tor Books for their copyeditors. Since my work has, from time to time, included such diverse elements as may be considered copyediting, this was compelling stuff. But, probably because my own copyediting was highly specific and technical, viz., federal statutes and regulations, I wasn’t aware of some of the more general idiosyncracies of the field. Notably, style sheets — I’d never heard of them before in a copyediting context (an article reprinted in a 1994 book is probably not referring to CSS). So much for doing any freelance copyediting. But, Google is my friend: here’s a sample style sheet and, from the SFWA, “A Writer’s Guide to Understanding the Copyeditor.” Aha. Now, we had those at Justice; they just weren’t individualized, naturally.
April 6, 2005