My favorite quilt design is called a Double Wedding Ring, which was the design of my great-grandmother's quilt (the one I had in childhood that got me into this whole mess.) Double Wedding Ring Quilts were especially popular from 1890 through 1940, when family members would pool their scraps to make one for a new bride. The "rings" are scrap and usually appliqued against white; my g-grandma's had a rarer colored (blue) background.
My daughter's sewing skills continue to improve, so when I decided to invest in a more serious project for her, I though of g-grandma's quilt and obtained this old, abused beauty:
The quilt is about 50% damaged (a two-foot section of the front is almost completely gone) with tattering on most of the rings and what appears to be oil spots/stains here and there. This usually comes from leaving a quilt wrapped around something (likely metal tools) in a garage for years.
However, the backing fabric was strong, and the maker's stitches (the beauty of which you can see on the back side of the quilt) held the piece together despite the abuse. It also has fine, dense cotton batting which weathered the neglect quite well. Had it not been treated like this, the quilt would be worth around $500 today (same-era quilts with colored backgrounds, like my g-grandma's, go for double that.)
This is my daughter's project; I'm only helping her pin down the repair patchwork. Some quilters don't let children work on full-sized projects, but I think it's silly to make them piece blocks when they can do the real thing. Kathy has a quirky eye for color, so her patchwork repairs don't quit match the rest of the quilt. In this case, it doesn't matter; what is salvageable is too faded for our efforts to lend any value to the piece. Patching what is left of an old beauty is the best way to learn the proper repair techniques and improve stitching, so that when she does work on something of museum quality, she'll have the confidence to do a great job.
The Art of Quilts:
Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a deep-seated aversion to the color yellow; I don't know why I dislike the color so much but I suspect it has something to do with my son Mike having a bout of jaundice the week after he was born. However, when I saw these vintage quilt tops come up for auction, I fell instantly in love with them:
They were sewn back-to-back (I separated them last night) with no batting and an open end, which makes me think the maker intended them as a duvet cover and simply never finished the piece. The yellow squares are a beautiful rich color that quilt collectors refer to as "cheddar." The patchwork is small and all pieced by hand, and the balance of the color composition is gorgeous; the crazy strip backing is so well done it resembles stained glass:
There are only a few popped seams to repair, then I'll quilt them and have a nice duo. I'm going to do these by hand, I think, in tribute to the maker's skill.
What's in Your Prime Minister's Palace?
Edward Nawotka over at NewsDay.com has a telling short article here
on what people choose to read, and how that can say a lot about what's on their minds. Looking at the desk, I see Mark Kurlansky's "Cod" Holly Lisle's "Wreck of Heaven" and a medical journal article on glossectomies, a procedure performed to reduce the size of the tongue in kids with Down's. Yep, pretty typical.
I never knew Saddam Hussein was a novelist, which Nawotka mentions, too. Imagine the kind of Neb votes he'd get if he were over here writing SF. ("You will
vote for me, you ignorant American dog, or you will never see your wife and kids again....") Then again, I don't want to give David Brin any new ideas...
My Fifteen Minutes:
I've agreed to do an interview with Time
magazine, to talk about my last catastrophic computer meltdown and how Drive Savers helped me recover everything. Since I owe DS for saving what I would never have been able to replace -- all together eight years of my work and life -- I was happy to say "Sure" when they asked me. See? Be nice to me and I may give an interview to Time about you someday. :)
(PG-13 for language) I can't read SciFi Weekly
anymore, it seems, without a faint haze of red clouding the monitor. In this issue's Letters to the Editor
a disgruntled reader declares "Science Fiction Has No Future" because no one is daring to write any new stuff, then calls Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein "immortals" (bipolar disorder, anyone?) and then says we readers can't handle any new stuff anyway, because (I assume) we're too stupid to appreciate it. He calls J.K. Rowling, who I believe is the most successful fantasy writer of all time, "a single mum on the dole."
Contempt for a writer who is now richer than the Queen of England. We should be learning from this lady, not knocking her for having once been an unmarried, unemployed mother (which is not an easy position to be in, either, I've been one myself.)
Aside from the spike of temper on the swipe at J.K., I felt alternately sad and frustrated reading this letter -- it's so classic -- but you can't reason with someone who compares himself to Jor-El addressing the Kryptonian Council. Trust me, I've tried, but people like this are usually permanent homesteaders in LaLa land.
Science fiction is a lovely genre to write in. If you block out all the fuss and noise emanating from fandom and fans-turned-writers, you can even have fun with it. That's what I think is missing -- the fun, the adventure, the hope. The things that made Star Trek so cool to watch when I was a kid; the thing that makes teens flock to see X2 and the Matrix Reloaded. The hunger for the future is still out there. Fantasy writers like Terry Pratchet and J.K. Rowling are supplying what their readers want, and they're having fun, and they're rolling in it.
Where is the fun in SF? How can you hope to connect to readers when you're trying to patronize or lecture them, or you're serving them a vision of tomorrow so bleak and nihilistic that it turns their stomachs? And for that matter, why does the future have
to suck? Yeah, okay, it probably will, but isn't it our task as writers* to entertain people and whisk them away from their worries instead of handing them new and more frightening ones?
I've tried to have fun writing science fiction, because there's never been any question in my mind that I would leave even the faintest trace of my professional passage in the SF Sands of Time. I am nowhere near Sacred Cow material -- hell, I still find it hard to believe I'm a published SF author. And while I'm no Pratchet or Rowling, my SF books are hitting the bestseller list and selling better than probably 75% of the novels in the genre. Why? With all these incredibly gifted, talented people out there, writers whom I consider to be the most intelligent of all genre authors, why aren't they writing what people want to read?
I've already been give the answer, and I'll quote: "People should want to read what we write, not the other way around."
That's one reason why there is no future for science fiction. Or perhaps, as Jor-El
suggests, it is because everyone writing in this genre is trying to resurrect the dead Sacred Cows for readers incapable of appreciating it. Contempt hides the fear of flinging away that security blanket woven of decrepit fiction written by all those dead guys.** Having a little fun without worrying so much about the literati thinks? Impossible, unthinkable, actions which merit instant exile. But if someone does get brave and decides to drop the blankie and have some fun, you can always come and stay on my island.
*If you're writing for reasons other than to show your love for your tribe, then this will not be your task.
**Reference colored by the fact that I really don't like reading old science fiction. Your mileage may vary.
Monday Reading & News:
Publishers Weekly had their first annual summit
with publishers and, predictably, tried to tell them how to run their businesses. Wouldn't it be nice to go to a luncheon and just talk about the wife/husband and kids? Semi-interesting article but the rec to create a "hip" book store had me shaking my head. Bookstores are the least hip places on earth (and I should know, I am
the consummate hipster, right?)
hasn't had anything even remotely annoying lately -- Westfahl must be on vacation -- but I felt a little sad when I followed a link and read Joe Gordon's op-ed piece
on separating Fantasy and SF in bookstores. A SF label is considered the kiss of death to a major mass market campaign these days, and yet the purists pushing all this literary SF in their rusty barrows can't figure out why. Hello, denial, it's not just a river in Egypt anymore.
Reviewers are raking Laurell K. Hamilton
over the hot embers for her latest novel, Cerulean Sins, and you can find hatchet jobs on the book just about anywhere on the web (some are way worse than the ones I get, which I found rather novel.) Laurell now joins the ranks of those few authors who have more fans and make more money than critics can stand, I think. Good for you, Laurell, and may you sell a few more million copies this month.
The Matrix Reloaded
and X2 X-Men United
are in theaters this month, but I won't have time to go see them, so it's wait until they come out on video. That kind of bums me out; I still haven't gotten to the movies this year. The coming crop of summer films is so dismal that I'm pretty sure I'll be sticking to Blockbuster until 2004.
Book recommendations: None. No time to read this month although I did buy Mark Kurlansky's "Cod" because "Salt" was so excellent. Anyone read anything interesting lately?
How Hip Are You?
Apparently I'm way up there . . .
You are the Consummate Hipster. Newbies bow to you, everyone else just stares, as you swagger down the street with "Little Green Bag" stuck in your head.
What Kind of Hipster Are You? brought to you by Quizilla
Thanks to Holly
for another evil link.
Last year my mother asked me if I was ever going to dedicate a book to her. I think she was a little miffed that I'd written so many and yet still skipped her every time. I told her that when the right book came along, that would be hers.
What she didn't know was, I had already dedicated a book to her. The book no one wanted to buy, the book people told me I was crazy for trying to write, the book that I spent two years researching and slamming my head against walls and wondering if I was crazy for trying to write. That book was Mom's book, not only because it tells the story of a daughter trying to honor her mother's last request, but because it is about who we become because of (or in spite of, as the case may be) the women who give us life.
Yesterday Mom opened a small package from me. In it was an ARC copy of Blade Dancer, the book that shouldn't have sold, that nearly drove me crazy, that I shouldn't have been able to write. The book that will be my first hardcover because I became the woman my mother taught me to be. The dedication page reads:
For my mother, Joan Jean Sabella,
who taught me what it means to have
strength, stamina, and faith.
Love you, Mom.