Do you speak Spanglish?

Of the close to 60 million Latinos in the U.S, a generous portion speak Spanglish. At, Ilan Stavans offers a new version of English literature’s most famous scene.

Hamlet in Spanglish

Hamlet illustration

Ser, or not to ser: esa es la question.
Whether ’tis nobler sufrir en la mente
The slings y flechas of outrageous fortuna,
O tomar las arms against un mar de troubles,
Y al oponerlos end them? Morir, dormir,
No more, y, by domir to say que terminamos
The heart-ache y los mil natural shoques
Que la carne is heir to—’tis a consumación
Devoutly to be deseada. Morir, dormir;
Dormir, perchance soñar: ay, there’s el obstáculo:
For in that sueño of death what sueños may come



Read the whole scene at HERE


At The Guardian, Alison Flood reports on

Walt Whitman’s eyebrow-raising guide to ‘manly health’

Walt Whitman photoWalt Whitman in photo by George C. Cox, 1887. (Wikipedia Commons)

It’s “an essay on male beauty, a chauvinistic screed, a sports memoir, a eugenics manifesto…an anecdotal history of longevity, says the man who unearthed it, Zachary Turpin.

Whitman’s primary claims tilt from visionary to reactionary, commonsensical to nonsensical, egalitarian to racist, pacific to bloodthirsty – and back again,” Turpin says.

Read more at HERE

At, Mark Oliver tells us about

10 Sci-Fi Dystopias That Are Everyday Realities Today

Ray Bradbury once said, “I wasn’t trying to predict the future. I was trying to prevent it.”

Oliver thinks this is true of most science-fiction. “The genre has never been about predicting new technologies. Instead, its purpose is to warn us about the dark future to come, if we don’t change our path.”

Twilight Zone illustrationOne such warning came from The Twilight Zone episode: ‘Number 12 Looks Just Like You’ in which all young adults have to pick their face and body from a physically attractive design chosen from a small selection of numbered models.

Oliver points out that South Korea’s plastic surgery obsession echoes the point of the story.

You can see all 10 books on his list at HERE

At his blog, Terry Ibele offers us

Six Amazingly Bizarre Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels You’ve Never Heard Of

One example:

Iris book cover


Iris: by William Barton and Michael Capobianco

Iris is about a group of astronauts who are all sexually interested in one another (so many love triangles, it turns into a love hexagon).

Of course the best place to send a sex-crazed orgy is to investigate a distant moon…The crew quickly discover an ancient alien “ark” ship on the moon… Just make sure to wear some gloves when you pick up this read…


See all the bizarre novels at Terry’s blog HERE

Quote of the DayRay Bradbury quote poster

It’s sometimes hard to know  which is which.

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The measure of a town

Bellingham is a bookish town. The plentiful new and used bookstores which we spotted as soon as we arrived on a scouting trip were in no small part the reason we decided to put down roots here.

There are bookstores which were far more seminal to our choice of Bellingham as home, but today I’m talking about one which we didn’t really discover until we had been here some time.Eclipse entrance photo

Eclipse Window Sign photoEclipse, a two-story book cave, is a second-hand bookstore in nearby Fairhaven. There’s something almost organic about the place, with books on all the walls, books stuffed on shelves arranged tightly in the midst of both floors, books rising like stalagmites from the floor in unsteady mounds, or stacked in rich and muddled towers on tables or counters wherever there is a bit of empty horizontal space. Books perch in a precarious pile on a corner of a railing outside the store.

Books. Books. Books. EVERYWHERE.


This isn’t the kind of place that gets steady foot go to the light, interior phototraffic – but there’s always someone here. People know about this store. Its name might mean an occlusion, but behind an eclipse is the light of a star, and these books SHINE. I don’t get there nearly often enough. I should go back far more frequently. It’s just that every time I GO there I end up carting home some more of its treasures, and my own shelves are groaning with words. Still…

Eclipse. Wonderful bookstore. Worth a visit, and getting lost in.


Long long ago in a country far far away I went to school in a castle.

Bodel Castle Autumn The school was located in Bodelwyddan Castle, in Wales, and I went there for a year back in the last century. While I was there I had thought the only ‘dangerous’ thing in its green fields was sheep poop.

But it seems that there was more – like live bullets…  grenades… Good grief.

The Daily Post has reported that a live bullet and remains of a grenade were found on the grounds during an excavations to create replica World War I style trenches as part of a tourist attraction.

The idea of ‘training trenches’ makes my hackles rise. Oh GOD that war. That stupid, pointless, pitiless war. I mean, yes, all wars are stupid, pointless, pitiless, but WWI was a particularly evil incarnation. If there is anything to the reincarnation theory of existence I may well have been some poor sod who bought it in those trenches. My reaction to WWI is visceral and gut-wrenching.

And the idea that those tranquil Welsh fields where I once went to school were once dug up to train cannon fodder young men how to die in Flanders almost makes me physically ill.

They want this… for a TOURIST ATTRACTION? I’d run a mile in the opposite direction, myself. That, or fall on my knees in those trenches and weep all the tears I ever carried inside me.

Read the whole story by Gareth Hughes at the Daily Post website HERE

NASA’s “Rocket Girls” Are No Longer Forgotten History

When Nathalia Holt stumbled upon the story of one of NASA’s first female employees, she was stunned to realize that there was a trove of women’s stories from the early days of NASA that had been lost to history. Holt was ultimately able to find a group of women whose work in rocket science dates back to before NASA even existed and wrote about them in “Rise of the Rocket Girls“.Computers In 1953 photoThe women “computers” pose for a group photo in 1953. (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Read Naomi Shavin’s whole article at HERE


Quote of the DayIQUOTE A Writer Is... posterAmen. Writing is not a choice.

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Survive the Apocalypse

Floating Ocean Home illustrationYou could head for the hills to wait out the effects of rising seas as the world warms, or you could opt for a floating home from Italian yacht-maker, Jet Capsule, and drift slowly around the globe. It’s just a concept right now, but maybe someday.

I’d probably spend my whole life seasick.

Read the whole story by John Anderson at HERE


At, Sarah Seltzer talks to the founder of ‘Bitch’ about

‘A Battle That Remains Only Half-Won’

Feminists Book Cover photo“So here we are,” writes Andi Zeisler — founder of feminist culture ‘zine Bitch — towards the close of her new book…

“We’ve got feminist underpants and feminist romance novels, feminist gifs and feminist jokes. We’ve got 12 feminist cocktails to make the world a better place, 10 reasons why The Mindy Project is a feminist masterpiece, and nine quotes that explain why Game of Thrones is actually empowering.”

Read the whole fascinating story at HERE

Infographics ‘R’Us

Writing Journey illustrationAt, Maryann Yin, shows us an infographic by Michelle Griep called ‘The Stages of Writing a Book.’

“The piece showcases the emotional journey that a writer undergoes to bring a story into fruition.”


See the whole infographic at HERE

Maryann Yin shows us another infographic

Superwomen illustration
and asks:

Who’s your favorite female character from the DC Comics universe? The team at Bingo Find has created an infographic called Superheroines vs Supervillainesses: The Women of the DC Universe.”



See the whole infographic at HERE

Shakespeare illustrationAnd then we have an infographic posted at by Hayley Igarashi honoring Shakespeare.

“In honor of #ShakespeareWeek, try our helpful infographic to find out what celebrated play you should read next.”

See the whole infographic at HERE


Survive the Apocalypse — or notpoliticians debating global warming statue

A sculpture by street artist Isaac Cordal, which has been dubbed “Politicians Debating Global Warming.”

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What the hell do you call it?

If you are writing a novel about historical events, how do you talk about it? Is it:

Historical Fantasy? Alternative History? Fictionalisation? Reinvention?

When it comes to this particular literary sub-genre, definitions, it would seem, are EVERYTHING. On a panel at a SF/Fantasy convention once, five of us spent fully twenty minutes of our hour just trying to hammer out what we were actually talking about.

This is not just an academic discussion for writers like me, it gets to the heart of how readers can find our books on the shelf in a bookstore or library.

Empress‘, my latest fat *historical fantasy*, was inspired by the story of Justinian and Theodora of Byzantium. They are historical figures, whose complex relationship has been the subject of much analysis and commentary, from the biased and somewhat malicious historian Procopius in their own time, to the present day.

Empress coverWhen I originally began shopping the novel around, I was offered a deal on the condition that I pulled back on the “fantasy” aspect and made this a straight “historical” narrative. The story of ‘Empress’ might have seen publication much earlier had I been willing to do this – but I was not.

The two protagonists of my novel were inspired by people who once lived and loved… but they are not those people. And it is MY characters’ version of this story that I am telling, an emotional truth, rather than a strictly strait-laced historical version of events.

I didn’t want to put dialogue into the mouths of those real people. I transplanted a seed of their spirit into fictional characters who live in a world that is like our own but is not that world. I took pains to underline this.

Some readers and reviewers have problems with this. For example, a Library Thing reviewer of ‘Empress‘ wrote: “This story is so close to historical fiction that a part of me wishes the author had actually not shifted events and names around to make it an alternate history. This is an entirely personal preference, though – I simply like historical fiction with as much accuracy as possible, especially when the author is as skilled at writing powerful prose as this one is.”

The glory of historical fantasy is just this – it is the alchemy inherent in the sub-genre that you can take something from the world the reader has lived in all their lives and change it into something different, something rich and strange, and yet something that is utterly and remarkably and shiveringly familiar if held up to the light in a certain way.

And it is the ability to that which frees my storytelling mind and produces the kind of stories that I write, lush with both the richness and depth of history and the shimmer and shine and power of an imagination unbound.

All of my historical fiction – although individual books may have no actual direct connection with one another – are actually set in the same alternate world. What I am writing is nothing less than a chronicle of a different universe. ‘Secrets of Jin She’” told of a country that I named Syai even though it clearly was inspired by Imperial China; ‘Embers of Heaven‘ is set in that same world, in that same country, some four centuries after the first book.

In ‘Empress’, vigilant readers will catch a reference to a trade expedition which is leaving from my new milieu to “Syai, the place where silk comes from”. These places exist in the same space, much like Imperial China and Byzantium co-existed in our own reality.

This is a complex but fascinating subect. Any reader of my blog who wants more can go to SF Signal and read the whole article HERE


Michigan Couple Faces Jail Time Over Lost Dr. Seuss Library Book


Man returns library book with apology note after 49 years

Teacher seeks to solve mystery of 200-year-old Jane Austen book mailed to high school

Quote of the Day

Aeoma Of Books poster~~~~~
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Women defying history

A series of videos featuring some of the most bad-ass women in history is on the horizon, Lily Myers writes at Bust.
Defying History photoThe episodes will feature a Chinese pirate, Japanese novelist, journalist Ida B. Wells, computer programmer Ada Lovelace, and the radical anarchist Emma Goldman,

The spark plug for the crowd-sourced project is Anita Sarkeesian, whose first web series about the sexist roles given women in video games sparked outrage from many male gamers who responded with death and rape threats

Rather than heroes, leaders and innovators, women are often depicted and treated as secondary characters in history, objects of affections, damsels to be rescued, or merely the wives, mothers and assistants to the men who achieved important things,” Sarkeesian says,

The goal of Ordinary Women is to replace these old ideas about women’s limitations with real stories about amazing things ordinary women have achieved.”

Read the whole story at HERE


A bit of history

For the last few days I have been talking about my first Comic-con in Seattle, but before I look at the germ of this extraordinary idea, how it all came about, I want to share one of my favorite moments at ECCC.
Unicorn playing a fiddle photoA unicorn playing a fiddle, Photo by Alma Alexander

The now iconic Comic-con began in March 1970 in San Diego.

Its earliest incarnation was a single-day “mini-con” which had two special guests and about 100 attendees, an event put together to gauge and generate interest in a larger event and find funds for it. It led directly to the creation of the first three-day event then known as the Sand Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con, held in August of the same year. Its guests were Ray Bradbudy, Jack Kirby and A E van Vogt – can I go drool now…?)

That con wasn’t much bigger than the mini-me that started the whole thing, with some 300 attendees as warm bodies on site, but that was… the beginning. That con had all the basics. The dealer’s room. The programming and the panels. Film screenings. It was the bedrock on which every subsequent con was built.

They dropped the “Golden State” and became simply the San Diego Comic-Con (or SDCC) in 1973, and by 1995 it had morphed into Comic-Con International: San Diego (CCI). Today, attendance tops 130,000, and the event isn’t – can no longer be – held in a single location but rather an entire campus of satellite venues necessary to house its vast programming requirements and the public intent on enjoying them.

The interests of this behemoth have expanded from the world of the comic book in all its incarnations into giant media cons complete with serried ranks of glittering stars from the spheres of publishing, books, TV, movies, and everything to do with all of those things.

These days, you can trek from packed panels revealing the next development in a popular TV franchise to a loving retrospective of a yesteryear series, from brand new trailers to movies yet unseen to showings of vintage films to which the fans know the entire script by heart, hopping skipping and jumping from books to movies to TV to Internet and social media and blogs and podcasts and anything and EVERYTHING in between. And while you’re doing all THAT, there’s a “show floor” which is like every dealer’s room from every convention you’ve ever been to in your entire life put together, and then multiplied by ten.

And holding all of this together is the glue of the eager fans, with very high quality cosplay now an accepted part of the experience, where you walk the corridors rubbing shoulders with various incarnations of every popular character of page and screen and people vying to outdo one another in how magnificently these characters could be depicted.

From SDCC, the Comic-Con beast has spawned many descendants, across the world. There are Comic-Cons in Australia (since 2012), Russia, (since 2014), various locations in Europe (Romania, at least five locations in the UK), across the Middle East and Asia (Dubai, India), and the Americas, both South (Brazil, since 2014) and North – several separate ones in Canada… and, by now, dozens in the USA, the length and breadth of the country of greater or lesser longevity and provenance.

Emerald City Comicon, in Seattle, has been an annual fixture since 2003. Originally housed at the Century Link (QWEST) Field (first the West Field Plaza and the Event Center), it moved to its current home at the massive Washington State Convention and Trade Center in 2008 – and in 2013 it grew big enough to swallow the entire center for three days. It overflowed into the adjacent Sheraton Hotel in 2014.

The original ECCC boasted some 2,500 attendees. That grew at a dizzying rate. By 2007, the number stood at 7,000 (that was the first year they featured “media” guest celebrities) Two years later the number of attendees had almost doubled to 13,000 people and included media guests like Jewel Staite and Wil Wheaton.

In 2010 they had Leonard Nimoy and Stan Lee, and 20,000 eager fans. 2011 brought in even more stars (William Shatner, Bruce Boxleitner, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes) and 12,000 more con-goers. 2013 brought in the likes of Patrick Stewart and Billy Dee Williams, and a horde of 64,000+ attendees. A stellar 2014 featured John DeLancie, Michael Dorn, Nichelle Nicholls, Ron Perlman and Dwight Shultz (among others) and an attendance number of 70,000+. They spoke of 80,000 people in 2015, and more stars of stage and screen.

They also mentioned a magic number of 80,000+ this year, in 2016, the year I first walked those streets full of people dressed as Spiderman and Rey from the new Star Wars and Alice in Wonderland and Thor of the Hammer and Doctor Horrible and every possible incarnation of Doctor Who.

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People people EVERYWHERE

The last days of a Comic-con

I had been hearing distinctive Artoo Detoo chirps and raspberries for a while but I couldn’t quite nail down where they came from – until the next morning, when I noticed a bevy of life-sized R2 units in the concourse.

I raced down to play with them of course.

There’s a picture. I’m leaning over one in a full Leia pose, one hand on its noggin.

Alma and R2-D2 photoDid you say ‘Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope?” someone asked on Facebook, later, upon seeing the photo.

Well, not out LOUD,” I responded primly.

My signing at the University Books booth was at 2 PM and so I presented myself there at that time, together with John Pitts and Robin Hobb, who of course immediately drew a line of people who were telling her how much they loved her books.

A young lady came up to the table where I was sitting, without a book in hand, but with a very earnest expression.

I just wanted to tell you, I love your books, and I think they’re wonderful,” she said, and I got this lovely warm feeling all over. “I think I have them all…

“There’s a brand new one,” I said, lifting ‘Empress’.

I tend to read on Kindle,” she said.

It’s on Kindle,” I assured her.

She lit up. “Thanks!” she said. “Ill look for it!

Other people wandered up with copies of ‘AbductiCon’ or The Were Chronicles books. It wasn’t Nathan Fillion, it wasn’t Robin Hobb, but it was a pleasure.

Cosplay Superpeople photoI made my way through the fairies and the warriors and the hobbits and the wizards and the princesses and the monsters and the superheroes and the gods (and one Sheldon Cooper) and walked those long five blocks back to the hotel where I keeled over. With another book. Which, yes, I finished before bedtime…

The crowds had worn me down and there was no “have-to-see” panel or event on Sunday. It was time to go home.

On the way out, a family of four – Mom, Dad, and two kids, one teenage, one slightly younger – all smiled at me as I stepped into the elevator. They were all wearing lanyards with Comic-Con badges on them. I wasn’t wearing my own badge any more but my T-shirt had a Tribblecentric version of the “Soft Kitty” song that Sheldon Cooper so loves on Big Bang Theory, a crossover of two fandoms, and the Mom of this little family nodded at it.

I’m guessing you’re in sympathy with all this, going by the shirt,” she said, clearly meaning the Comic-Con gestalt we all shared.

I caught the eye of the teenager, and she grinned broadly. I smiled back. The Next Generation.

Ever After

I’m a convention veteran with two World Fantasy Cons under my belt, six Worldcons, and countless other smaller cons across the breadth of the continent. I have badges stuck on a cork board from cons in New York, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Canada, from Vancouver to Toronto and Montreal.

But they’re all tiddlywinks compared to something like this. It was literally the first time I had gone conventioneering with the population of a small TOWN. It was… an interesting experience.

Cosplay Wizards photoThere’s a buzz, something in the air. There’s a knowledge that you can say something weird and crazy and utterly esoteric and be certain that someone will *get it*. It’s a feeling of belonging. It’s a sense of being able to smile at a complete stranger wearing wings or horns or a cut-out shell of BB8 covering her large pregnancy bump or the robes of a Middle Earth Wizard or the uniform of a Star Trek officer or a Spiderman mask, and know that even if you’re wearing none of those things they’ll grin back and know that you’re “in sympathy with all this”. There’s an immensity of inclusion.

But for a cast-iron introvert like me there’s also a weight to it which can become crushing – there is a reason I tend to avoid large crowds. I can spend a limited time in them, amongst them, and then I get the urge to find a quiet corner somewhere to catch my breath and re-collect my scattered energies. I NEEDED to leave that space when I left it because there were PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. The constant stream of people up and down the packed escalators looked like a gush of water from a busted hydrant, unstoppable, powerful, sweeping all away before it. There were moments I was part of it. There were moments that it was imperative that I *get out of its way*. It was an exhilarating but also very draining three days.

Am I glad I did it? Oh yeah. I asked Maleficent to excuse me when I stepped on the trailing edge of her cloak on an escalator. I hugged an Artoo unit. I watched a Unicorn playing a fiddle out in the sunshine of a convention center courtyard. I caught a glimpse of a Captain Mal smile. I met some of my own fans at the book signing.

I’m glad I did this.

Tomorrow: How Comic-con came to be. A history


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Surrealism in Seattle

My first Comic-con: Friday, Day 2

The closer I got to the Convention Center the more surreal the streets became. Pirates. Boba Fetts. Lots of Reys, of different ages and sizes, the youngest maybe not yet seven, the oldest possibly older than ME. SCADS of Spidermen (that was the thing for some reason. Lots and lots of those.) Fairy princesses. People painted green. Star Trek crews from different eras. A dog made up to look like an Ewok.

All flowing towards the center of gravity. ECCC in full bloom.

I had asked someone the previous day how many people they thought were there.

About 50,000,” I was told. “And you wait. This is just the first day.”

On Friday I heard revised estimates. 80,000, maybe 85,000. I was an ant in an anthill. Some of the ants were mousy, like me, but some were truly spectacular. I started taking pictures.
Eccc Hall Crowds photoThe signing queue in front of the booth where the star attraction, Nathan Fillion, was signing autographs was a heaving mass of hundreds of souls. I contemplated joining them but the price of admission was a little too rich. I don’t think I’m ever going to be convinced that $80 for the price of a signature was a prerequisite for getting within eyeball distance of anyone.

I remember the Worldcon in Japan where they had George Takei doing much the same thing – but there I simply joined a queue and when I got to the front I spoke a few words to him and shook his hand and that was enough – there wasn’t a requirement for money to change hands.

I just drifted on the edges a bit, saw Captain Mal flash that brilliant grin at someone else at the front of the line, and went on my way.

I did go to another signing. I had bought a copy of Matt Ruff’s latest book, “Lovecraft Country”, the previous day, and finished reading it that night. (and LOVED it.) After getting my copy autographed and chatting with him until the next fan stepped forward, I pressed on.

There was a 3-D scanner for people. You could climb in and be full-body-scanned, and then they could print a figurine of you from that. The scan was free, you could decide later if you wanted to buy the action figure, so I had myself 3-D scanned. How very futuristic.

And then there was the artist R.K. Milholland sitting at his booth chatting to a friend until I smiled at a sign that he had there in front of him: ‘I DO FREE SKETCHES FOR NICE PEOPLE.’

You want one?” he asked.

I don’t know, am I nice enough?”

He grinned. “Well, you haven’t pissed me off yet.

He hauled out a piece of white card. Wolf boy cartoon

So what do you want me to draw?”

In honor of The Were Chronicles, I requested a Were creature, half boy, half wolf. He quickly drew this hilarious caricature, and then broke me up completely by putting in a speech bubble above the creature he drew, who had an expression of pure comical consternation, which bore the single word,


I took more pictures.

I bought a T-shirt with the picture of a cat drawn WITH NUMBERS. Which portrayed the maths of the Uncertainty Principle. The cat, of course, was Schrodinger’s.

I saw a panel that looked interesting but by the time I decided I wanted in, the panel had been declared full and I was turned away. .

My usual affliction was starting to present itself. Namely, I have wretched feet. No matter what shoe I put on, I will end up with a blister SOMEWHERE. The one I was beginning to cultivate this time was getting painful. I found a first aid station and, like my wolf-boy, I said “…Help.”

No problem,” said the first-aid person. He applied a thin gel-like thing over the enormous blister that had developed on the side of my foot and then put a massive oversize bandage to go over that. “You are definitely not the first person to present yourself here with that problem!” he added cheerfully.

I had a standing dinner engagement back at the hotel with friends, so I retreated from the Center in good time to limp back to the hotel slowly and carefully. After they left, I went back up to my room and finished another book. Yeah I know. I read at the speed of summer lightning…

Day 1 can be found HERE

Tomorrow: Day 3

Batman and the Redshirt photoI didn’t see this guy at the ECCC.but  I’m sorry I missed him.

Redshirt killed by every character in history

“Go to any big sci-fi convention,” Gavia Baker-Whitelaw writes at, “and you’re guaranteed to see a few people dressed as the red-shirted security officers from Star Trek’s original series. It’s a simple costume that provides a built-in theme for cosplay photos: getting horribly killed, which was the primary role of Star Trek’s redshirts.

“Cosplayer Tim Adam has perfected the art and has built up a massive gallery of imaginative redshirt death crossovers with other cosplayers from Marvel to Star Wars to Mad Max: Fury Road.

Go to to read more HERE

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