Instead, I'm going to read A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, which is the first in a series of urban fantasy novels set in London. I don't always like urban fantasy, but the back of the book really intrigued me, and the clerk in the bookstore was very positive about it; she was reading the second in the series at the time.
I'm continuing to make my slow way forward in The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukerjee. It's fascinating reading. I'm only reading a bit at a time because my brain can only process a little science in one go, but it is excellent, terribly informative without being incomprehensible. I highly recommend it.
My reading trend is to be reading something fictional, with short bursts of non-fiction a few days a week. I'd like to start reading Les Miserables bit by bit in the same way I do with non-fiction, but it's still sitting there on the coffee table gathering dust. I think I might try The Hunchback of Notre Dame instead; I am determined to read all the big fat classics before my eventual death. Hopefully that's decades away because there is so much left to read!
New game Lanterns is fun. You nominally are competing to create the most beautiful lantern display before the harvest festival, gathering honor points, though mostly it’s a logic game about color / pattern matching. The illustrations are lovely. Age 8+. That’s Kavi doing her wicked smile face on purpose, after spending quite some time waffling over which card she could place to cause mommy the most pain.
Um, you guys. Last night over dinner, my mom told me all about Aparna Sen’s amazing-looking new film Sonata, so yes now I am properly annoyed with the entirety of[...]
The post Aparna Sen’s Golden Girls-meets-Bridesmaids Film Sonata Looks Poised to Hit the Right Notes appeared first on The Aerogram.
This weekend, April 28-30, people coming to Penguicon in Southfield, Michigan can catch a number of sessions of interest to Geek Feminism readers.
Coraline Ada Ehmke is one of the Guests of Honor (her Penguicon schedule). Ehmke “is a speaker, writer, open source advocate and technologist with over 20 years of experience in developing apps for the web. She works diligently to promote diversity and inclusivity in open source and the tech industry.” She and others are participating in a Women in Tech panel and Q&A on Saturday.
Perhaps I’ll see you at the con! Feel free to comment if you’re going to be there and mention any parties or sessions you’re particularly looking forward to.
Today my therapist hugged me at the close of our session, and I realized that it was the first hug I'd had in a couple of weeks. My mother doesn't hug, neither does anyone else I see, and being bereft of physical contact is something I'm finding very challenging. I'm not sure what the solution is. One of the reasons I miss my son as much as I do is that he is a very physical human being, and I got hugs all day long. I took them for granted; one thing this past six months of my life has taught me is that one should never take any aspect of any relationship for granted.
It's a beautiful day today. The weather is hovering around 20 degrees (70 degrees F), the sun is shining, trees are sprouting blossoms and leaves, and gardens are full of daffodils and tulips and other spring flowers. My little plot out front is bright and cheerful. It's lovely to have the windows open; the cats like that as well. I love spring.
Speaking of cats, I had to lock them in the kitchen last night. Both of them decided that my desire to sleep was unacceptable, and they kept sitting on my pillow and meowing me into consciousness. I don't like barring them from my room, but egads, they were annoying.
Tomorrow I have to mow the lawn. My brother has been over to show me how to use the lawnmower and put gas in it. I am nervous, I've never cut grass before!
When you’re watching a nature documentary, you notice it right away: there’s something odd about the sound effects. They seem a little too…Hollywood. When Vox did their series on how the BBC made Planet Earth II, they didn’t mention the sound:
I hope the third program is on sound, which has been bugging me while watching Planet Earth II. I could be wrong, but they seem to be using extensive foley effects for the sounds the animals make — not their cries necessarily, but the sounds they make as they move. Once you notice, it feels deceptive.
Whilst I’m no wildlife expert, it’s fairly straightforward to conclude that such an unpredictable and uncontrollable subject as wildlife would have prompted the need to often shoot on long lenses, thus making it almost physically impossible for a sound recordist to obtain ‘realistic’ recordings that would match the treatment and emotive style of the programme. Combine this with the shooting climate, as well as the need for frequent communication between crew just to capture the necessary shots that will cut well in the edit suite and you have a recipe for failure in regards to obtaining useable sound. Therefore, it’s not only impractical but virtually impossible to capture the ‘real’ sound that some of these disgruntled viewers may be protesting for.
As Simon Cade shows in the video above, sound is only one of the ways in which nature documentaries use editing to “fake” things. Is it manipulation? Or good storytelling? And what’s the difference between the two anyway? A silent security feed of a Walmart parking lot is not a documentary but The Thin Blue Line, with its many dramatizations and Philip Glass score, is a great documentary.Tags: audio Matt North Planet Earth Simon Cade video
The Olight i3E is a tiny flashlight, meant for a keychain. It is similar to the Streamlight Nano (which I have also owned), so I will compare it to that.
– It takes a single AAA battery, which you are likely to have in your closet already. It can also take AAA size rechargeable NiMH batteries, like the storied Panasonic Eneloops. (It will not take lithium batteries.) The Nano takes weird LR-41 button batteries, which you likely have to order.
– Nonetheless, it is tiny, at about 2.3 inches long. (The Nano is about 1.5 inches long. – It produces far more light than the Nano. The regular versions produce 90 lumens, and the Silver and Copper versions produce 120 lumens. The Streamlight Nano produces 10 lumens.
– (Like the Nano,) it has only two settings: On and Off.
– (Like the Nano,) the switch is just a head that you rotate. But unlike the Nano, the i3E shows no tendency to unscrew itself and thereby disassemble itself in your pocket. The Nano is notorious for dropping the head and batteries somewhere without your noticing, leaving only the rear case attached to your keychain. The usual remedy was a few turns of Teflon plumber’s tape.
– It has an actual TIR (Total Internal Reflection) lens, a combination reflector and lens which together provides a nice, narrow beam pattern, with a very bright hot spot and usable light in a cone around it. The lens also protects the LED from dust and wear. The Nano looks like it could have a reflector, but it really has a bare LED with its molded on lens. Accordingly, its throw pattern is less focused, and can throw glare in your eyes.
– It is relatively cheap, at only $13 or so, although the Nano is about $9.
Disadvantages: – It only has one setting, on or off. It doesn’t have a low or high setting. Olight has similar lights with hi/lo/medium settings, but they are bigger and more expensive.
– The twist switch (as such) is a little awkward for signaling SOS or other Morse code messages.
– It is more expensive than the Nano, though it is cheaper than most other LED flashlights.
Purchasing notes: I got the silver version for the slight bump in output (from 90 to 120 lumens.) The finish is silvery PVD, and after a few weeks, it has some scratches, but otherwise seems to be holding up. I expect the functional parts of it, like the LED, the case, etc. to last forever.
So. Not the absolute smallest or cheapest, but surprisingly bright, relatively cheap, with well-designed optics (and it actually has optics.)
-- Karl Chwe
Olight 90 Lumens AAA Flashlight 120 Lumens ($14) / International Amazon link
Available from Amazon
Hello! Jason Kottke here. If you’re a regular reader of this RSS feed, please consider supporting my efforts on kottke.org by becoming a member today. The revenue from memberships is critical to keeping one of the best independent websites running at its full capacity. There are several membership options to choose from; you can check them out here or read about why I’m doing this here.
And if you’re already a member, thank you! You are the best.
( video includes dog illness, but no death )
My decision fell on a Wacom Intuos S, which I wanted to get for drawing the diagrams and stuff for Maths.
I ended up putting it to a different use: I painted something!
Granted, I merely traced the lines and then filled in, but trust me, this is more art than I've done in pretty much ever, so there's that.
( Art art art )
( and also we have a dog. )
So, that's it from me!
In the opening chapter of Pirate Utopia, Lorenzo Secondari goes to the cinema with his pirates. Secondari—an undead übermensch, pirate engineer, and future Minister of Vengeance Weapons for the Regency of Carnaro—is accompanied by the owner of his torpedo factory, the Communist platonic love interest and Fiume native Blanka Piffer. These two are, if the materials at the end of the novella are to be believed (and they seem by all means to be accurate), just about the only two characters in this tale of the proto-fascist/anarchist state of Fiume/Carnaro that are not themselves real people.
Before reading Pirate Utopia, I was completely unfamiliar with the history of the Regency of Carnaro (aka Fiume), and there is something to be said about how that affected my enjoyment of Bruce Sterling's latest Italian adventure. With no knowledge of the historical import, the political pillars of the novella—and I should say clearly that, like most of Sterling's recent fiction, it is the politics that are primarily of interest here—were much more malleable. Rather than seeing this as a treatise or a partisan attack, I was able to see in it something I could work with: if you're looking for a simple positive or negative recommendation (and to avoid spoilers), the only thing you might otherwise need is the knowledge that Pirate Utopia is the best of Bruce Sterling's recent Italian work (including Black Swan and The Parthenopean Scalpel [both 2010]). The short version of the history to which Pirate Utopia offers an alternative, though, is this: in 1919, poet and war hero Gabriele D'Annunzio occupied a small Balkan city called Fiume after the League of Nations gave it to Yugoslavia, intending to annex it for Italy. He instead ended up creating a cobbled-together state that reveled in aesthetic and anarchist practices, as well as becoming a hotbed for fascism—most notably by introducing Mussolini to the Roman Salute with which Adolf Hitler would go on to be associated.
The basic premise of Pirate Utopia is to tell that story with a dieselpunk twist. It begins at the cinema, where Secondari falls briefly in love with the actress of the film and then exits directly into a demonstration of Marxists calling for the heads of his pirates. A fit of lucid rage and a dud grenade lobbed into their tank later, he has run the Marxists off and is driving their tank back to the factory—where he plans on engineering new, Futurist flying torpedoes. In Sterling's timeline, Fiume doesn't crumble in a year but instead flourishes, and the only major difference is a near-deaf and wholly driven engineer dedicated to the aesthetic of Futurism.
The routing of the Marxists at the cinema finds a parallel at the novella's end, after many political twists and turns. At a show by Harry Houdini, magician and Secret Serviceman, at which the Italian King's cousin, the Duke of Aosta, is in attendance, Secondari is addressed by Houdini's assistant, Robert Howard, and his PR representative, H. P. Lovecraft. With Italian royalty lending old-world prestige and the Secret Service lending new, Fiume is being ushered into global geopolitics rather than being a notable outlier. And Secondari gets his reward as well: Lovecraft and Houdini and Howard also extend to him an invitation to work together on a new project in Manhattan. The invitation is proffered partially because, as Howard puts it, they admire Fiume: "'Especially what you did about the Communists,' said Bob Howard. 'We aim to do that ourselves'" (p. 99). Pirate Utopia is, in other words, quite literally a book about the birth of fascism, bookended by anti-Communist sentiments, and differentiated from history only by the successful machinations of a self-proclaimed übermensch.
Pirate Utopia finds publication at a strange moment in history, both politically and aesthetically. The former correlations are perhaps obvious: the global wave of populist revolt that followed the 2008 economic crisis has broken, and once again the jetsam of fascism is more and more rapidly being revealed. Trump and Brexit have become the bellwethers, but they have only taken over for the Golden Dawn and many others. Now is perhaps the worst possible time to release a novella that uncritically replicates the ideology of the Historical Man in a way that could easily be read as an apologia for the historical moment we may well have cycled back into. But simply stating that is meaningless moralizing. It is our concurrent strange aesthetic moment that complicates and crystallizes Pirate Utopia.
In The Last Days of New Paris (2016), China Miéville focuses on Paris only a couple of decades after the events by which Pirate Utopia is inspired. Though released nearly concurrently and by two very different writers, New Paris could be read as a sort of sequel to Pirate Utopia. Where Sterling's characters are obsessed with Futurist aesthetics and their goal of realizing that set of artistic principles in the world, Miéville's characters live in the aftermath of the very literal realization of the Surrealist aesthetic in the occupied French city. Miéville's Parisian landscape is full of the products of the Surrealist technique of exquisite corpse, of art by Breton and Man Ray and Max Ernst, and militant members of the Resistance fighting the Nazi occupation. Since Miéville's moment is concerned with Nazis, Futurism isn't exactly prevalent; instead, his fascists are mostly concerned with the occult and demon-summoning, at least until they reveal their final gambit. Throughout The Last Days of New Paris, there is a mystery regarding the term Fall Rot. When it is finally resolved at the novella's climactic moment, it is a perfect realization of the fascist aesthetic.
In New Paris, this is a literal realization. Fall Rot in Sterling's novella would be the atomic bomb dropped on the city from Lang's Metropolis; in Miéville's, it is a self-portrait of the Führer, featureless and effacing the world with identical pseudo-suburban, lifeless homes. The day is (partially) won only by the aesthetic of the unconscious interpolating itself into that artistic superego, destroying both in the process.
It is notable enough that two major writers of the fantastic turned to alternates of roughly the same period of history at the same time, albeit from very different perspectives and places. Both triangulate the rise of fascism, a primary aesthetic movement, and a lone man moving the needle of history, in one way or another. Another piece of fiction in 2016 also involved a city, a history, and its politics, and might help to cast into relief the differences in the two previous.
Friends at the Table is an Actual Play podcast. What this means is that it is a recording of friends playing a tabletop roleplaying game together; in the season of Friends at the Table we are discussing, the system is Blades in the Dark, but Dungeons & Dragons is the most recognizable name. The season in question, Marielda, is a sort of prequel to the show's first season, a post-post-apocalyptic high fantasy romp; in Marielda, the players build up a city (using a different system called The Quiet Year) and then explore it as a group of underground knowledge merchants.
As a city, Marielda is notable for a thing known in the fiction as Reconfiguration: each night the city changes, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes radically. This isn't (just) Fantastical Divinity; the city contains a Bureau of Reconfiguration, where the decisions of how the city will magically rearrange are presumably decided, or at the very least bureaucratically discussed. In one of the final capers of this interstitial season, the players attempt to rob a university library of a particular text; outside, a protest co-opted by radicalized factory workers (the Black Slacks) rages. Because the season is an interlude, the podcasters don't get into the implications of an ever-changing city on the tactics of protest, but the simple juxtaposition is very much a way of leading the question.
Of these three cities—each defined by war, each fantastical—the only one that doesn't resort in any way to the Historical Man is Marielda. This is a function of the form, to some extent: it is hard to have a single protagonist when five people are collaborating on a story in real time, no matter how hard anyone tries. But even accounting for that, the way that each of these three texts privileges the city makes for its own triangulation: how they engage their politics, how they represent the politics that aren't theirs, and what the place of those politics in this particular moment do, are all the more clear.
Pirate Utopia, in light of The Last Days of New Paris and Friends at the Table's Marielda, can look especially dire. Where Miéville made every formal and aesthetic and political decision to villainize Nazis, Sterling is ambivalent; where Friends at the Table deconstructs the ideologies of fascism in its very form, Sterling clings to them. And the author's history provides no real alibi. From cyberpunk to steampunk to slipstream, from design fiction writer and Wired blogger to wandering futurist, Sterling's Midas touch is to turn all he touches into markets. Sometimes that means erasing the recent history of women's writing, other times advocating for what amounts (in John Clute's words) to "commercial piggybacking." None of this is to say that he hasn't done admirable work as well, especially around taking seriously climate change in fiction. Even as a writer whose material actions against which I often take umbrage, he remains a storyteller who is invested in taking the political elements of his work seriously and crafting them into something both entertaining and thoughtful.
With that in mind, the pleasure of Pirate Utopia is in discovering the story of a formative, fucked-up political moment, no matter where the author might find himself in it. Sterling does also put a bullet in Hitler's chest, and a couple in Mussolini's junk, and he does create Frau Piffer and her incredible, utopian factory full of liberated women with Anarcho-Syndicalist ideals. The uncharitable reading, however, is that this is all just a disquisition on horseshoe theory; it is the kind of book that has the protagonist discourse on an engineering solution to the material destruction of the native capitalists only to have him refer to it as his having "offered you a final solution!" (p. 48)
There is, though, a charitable reading: Pirate Utopia develops a proto-fascist moment that isn't Nazi Germany at a time when fascism needs more honest appraisals that cover fascism in its totality rather than simply repeat what is known, and which manages to make the anarchist and Communist aspects of that revolution as appealing as the fascist ones.
For every moment where Secondari is praised for chasing off Marxists, Pirate Utopia reveals the magnetic appeal of struggling against the ruling class. Secondari's self-description as an übermensch is never in service of his disidentification with his working-class identity, and neither is it an attempt at cathexis. He simply works toward a world in which the bourgeoisie is usurped as a class, whether through his “engineering solutions” or simply by doing the work that creates a world where they become obsolete.
In the beginning this work takes the shape of resurrecting a torpedo factory that has been turned into a soup kitchen, as well as personally leading pirate raids for money and materials. By the end of the novel, Secondari is seeing the new state devolve: the once-inspirational D'Annunzio is reduced to the pawn of an Italian noble, his own love for his platonic mistress's daughter causing him to feel for things other than the (Futurist) future. Even in an alternate history structured according to the principles of the übermensch, the ultimate fate of Fiume (like and unlike Nazi Germany, and twentieth-century fascism in general) is its absorption back into the capitalist mode of production.
Indeed, and just like the real-world antecedent, what inspires about Pirate Utopia is the moments of collective work, of the life of the city, and of the failures of the fantasy of the Historic Man. Like the dogs lost in the reconfiguration of Marielda or the small solidarities among the living surrealism of Miéville's New Paris, everything about the living Futurism of Fiume must ultimately melt away, revealing that the only real way forward—into the future—is to build one that capitalism cannot absorb.
Studio Ghibli has been making incredible animated movies since 1985. This video traces the history and the work of the studio and its principal director Hayao Miyazaki from his pre-Ghibli work (including Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind) all the way up to Miyazaki’s recent unretirement & involvement in Boro the Caterpillar.
The name Ghibli was given by Hayao Miyazaki from the Italian noun “ghibli”, based on the Libyan-Arabic name for the hot desert wind of that country, the idea being the studio would “blow a new wind through the anime industry”. It also refers to an Italian aircraft, the Caproni Ca.309 Ghibli.
I still remember seeing Princess Mononoke in the theater in 1999 (having no previous knowledge of Ghibli or Miyazaki) and being completely blown away by it. Made me a fan for life. (via film school rejects)Tags: animation Hayao Miyazaki movies Princess Mononoke Studio Ghibli video
In the past couple years, there've been about three times when I've had occasion to suggest starting points for reading Samuel R. “Chip” Delany's work. So I thought it was time I wrote up my thoughts and posted them.
But my recommendation varies depending on what you like and what you're interested in. So I'll break this up into sections.
But in case you're in a hurry, I'll start by saying that the short version of my recommendation is: Start with the short-story collection Aye, and Gomorrah: And Other Stories, which includes most of my favorites of his stories.
(This entry is sort of a draft; I may update/modify it sometime in the next couple days.)
If you don't like short stories, then you might as well skip down to the next section. But some of Chip's short stories are among my favorite stories, and among my favorite works of his, so this is where I'm focusing.
His most famous stories are probably “Aye, and Gomorrah...” (1967)—a short piece about people who have a fetish for spacers; groundbreaking at the time for its handling of sexuality—and “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” (1968), which on the surface is about a con artist and a street singer and the ways that information passes through a society, among other things, but also I've heard a variety of people cite it as their first introduction to BDSM, in a sort of “Wow, there are people like me!” kind of way. My own tastes run to the vanilla, so that wasn't a factor for me; but even aside from that, it's a good story, and an influential one, and it has one of the great Delany-story titles. (My other favorite of his titles being “We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line,” although that's not among my favorites of his stories.)
(I was going to link to the archive.org copies of a couple of his stories that were published in Sci Fiction, but it turns out those copies are mysteriously missing their dashes and some other characters, which makes them hard to read. So I'm not providing those links after all. But it also turns out that one of them was reprinted in Strange Horizons, so I did link to that one.)
Also well-known and lovely: “Corona” (1967), about a spaceport worker and a young genius telepath and the power of music. Lesser-known but also lovely: “Prismatica” (1977), a fairy tale that's explicitly an homage to Thurber, presumably specifically to The Thirteen Clocks.
So where can you find these stories? Well, most of my favorites of his were originally collected in a book called Driftglass, but that's long out of print. Several of the same stories also appeared in a collection called Distant Stars, which also included the compelling short novel “Empire Star” (with fascinating four-segment illustrations) and “Prismatica.” But that too is long out of print. Fortunately, Vintage came out with a collection in 2003 called Aye, and Gomorrah: And Other Stories, which includes everything from Driftglass plus a few other stories, including “Prismatica”; the only thing it's missing from Distant Stars is “Empire Star.”
(...The Vintage book may actually be titled Aye, and Gomorrah: Stories; the cover and the title page disagree.)
So my strong recommendation for an intro to Delany is to buy and read the Vintage collection. Unfortunately, it appears to be available only in print (in trade paperback), not in electronic form. But it's a nicely attractive edition, and goes well with the Vintage editions of some of his other books.
But I know most people prefer novels over short stories. If that's true of you, then possibly none of the above recommendations will be of any use. In which case, read on!
Early science fiction novels and novellas
If you want to start with some of the novels that vaulted Delany to the forefront of the field in the 1960s and 1970s, here are some possible starting points:
- Empire Star (1966)
- As noted above, an intriguing and compelling short novel, about a young man named Comet Jo coming of age in an interstellar culture. As Wikipedia says, “the story has several layered loops of events which run back upon themselves—and the concepts, layering, and ordering of the events are as important as the story itself.”
- Babel-17 (1966)
- I recently heard an sf editor say that this was the only good starting point for reading Delany. I disagree, but I would say it's not a bad starting point, as long as you don't mind it taking the strong Sapir-Whorf Hypotheses for granted. Which is to say, you have to be willing to accept, or at least suspend disbelief about, the idea that language determines thought.
- The Star Pit (1967)
- Here's some of what I wrote in my notes to myself when I read (or maybe re-read) this a year ago: “it's mostly about life, and wanderlust, and feeling trapped, and the ways people can be cruel to each other, and love, and other stuff like that. Pretty good overall. Nowhere near Delany's best, but worth reading.” It also has a minor poly sidelight. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a starting point, but it wouldn't be a terrible one.
- Nova (1968)
- I read this long ago and haven't yet revisited it, so my memories are vague at this point, but I recall thinking of it as a solid and excellent science fiction novel that felt to me less experimental than a lot of Delany's other work. Judith Merrill wrote (according to Wikipedia): “Here are (at least some of) the ways you can read Nova: As fast-action far-flung interstellar adventure; as archetypal mystical/mythical allegory (in which the Tarot and the Grail both figure prominently); as modern myth told in the SF idiom...”
- Trouble on Triton (1976)
- A novel set in a more-or-less-minarchist human society on Neptune's moon Triton. The protagonist, Bron, is not a very sympathetic character, which led me to not especially like the book when I first read it; on the other hand, some parts of the book (such as the street-theatre scenes) stuck with me. And reading Sherryl Vint's 2002 essay “Both/And: Science Fiction and the Question of Changing Gender” (which includes major spoilers for both Trouble on Triton and John Varley's Steel Beach) gave me a lot more sympathy to what Delany is doing in this book. Side note: Wikipedia says that this is set in the same universe as “Time Considered...”
I'm leaving out several other early short novels (The Jewels of Aptor, The Ballad of Beta-2, the Fall of the Towers trilogy, The Einstein Intersection), not because they're not worth reading but because I don't think they'd make good starting points.
A difficult masterpiece
Dhalgren (1975) is an 800-page tour de force of experimental literary speculative fiction. It's definitely worth reading, but I kinda suspect it would not make a good starting point, unless you're coming from a background of loving experimental literary sf and long novels that include a lot of discussion of being a writer.
(I mean “masterpiece” in the sense of a work that signals a transition from the journeyman stage of a career into the master stage; I don't mean to suggest that it's his one and only Best Work.)
Sword and sorcery and semiotics
From 1979 through 1987, Chip wrote a series of stories and novels set in a world called Nevèrÿon. In addition to being sword-and-sorcery stories, they're also explicitly about literary-criticism theory, and culture, and race, and real-world history, and the development of science, and gender, and BDSM, and AIDS, and all sorts of other stuff. I'm currently (slowly) reading the Nevèrÿon series, but I kind of feel like it's not the best starting point for reading Delany. But if you like sword-and-sorcery mixed with philosophy, it could be.
Chip has written two book-length autobiographies/memoirs:
- Heavenly Breakfast (1979)
- I read or re-read this recently, and found it not only one of my favorite books of the year in which I read it, but also an excellent example of how to write a memoir, and especially how to explicitly note that there are things you're not saying. Interestingly, it manages to be an entire (short) book about Delany's youth in NYC without ever explicitly mentioning that he's gay.
- Motion of Light in Water (1988)
- A more detailed and later autobiography, but I haven't read it yet, so I can't judge it as a starting point.
Chip has written lots of nonfiction, including a lot of literary-criticism essays. I wouldn't normally suggest nonfiction as a starting point for a writer who I normally think of as primarily a fiction writer, but if you're into nonfiction, either of these two books could be good starting points, in very different ways:
- The Jewel-Hinged Jaw (1977)
- A volume of essays about reading and writing science fiction. Lots of good stuff here; some of these pieces did a lot to shape the way I think about sf. Although I have an unfortunate tendency to misremember and misquote bits of them.
- Times Square Red/Times Square Blue (1999)
- A pair of long essays about Times Square in particular and cities in general. One is about porn theatres and Chip's sexual interactions in them; the other is about the ways in which cities bring people together across class boundaries. Both are excellent and thought-provoking.
In this post, I seem to be shifting back and forth between recommending starting points per se, and mentioning other works. So I feel like I should mention that Chip has written other novels, more recent than most of the abovementioned ones, such as Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984), They Fly at Çiron (1993, though some of it was written a couple decades earlier), and Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (2012). But I'm not recommending these as starting points.
Chip has also written a couple of novels that I would classify as pornography. (No value judgment intended in that term.) One, The Mad Man (1994), is also literary fiction about gay men engaging in sexual activities that might or might not result in HIV infection; I found it worth reading, but here again unless this is a special interest of yours it may not be the best starting point.
( I have a lot to say )
Well this is the time to tackle it, you know why? We're here with you cheering you on, because we know you're awesome. So tell us about it and let us know how things are going (and whether you can hear our cheers or see our flying pompoms!).
Good luck team and go go go!