Thursday, September 30, 2010

At the New Library

At the big library, people often have to wait -- fairly politely and patiently, I will say -- for a public computer to be free. Many like to sit at one work table in particular, sometimes grabbing a book or magazine to look at while they wait. Folks seldom return these items, so I have made wandering over there an excuse to get up, and clean up.

Today's find on that table: Name that Cat: Over 1000 Inventive and Colorful Names. It seems tongue-in-cheek serious, with entries like

"Grapes. M/F. This kitten's dispositions is on the sour side, and he's the first to complain."


"Scraps. M/F/ Scraps likes to mix it up with the poodle next door."

and even "Mister Softee. M. For the cat who's a real pushover."

The section on entertainers (and fictional characters) is useful, if dated. May I interest you in Clark Kent, Elvis, Figaro, Fonzi or Ellwood (from the Jimmy Stewart movie Harvey, not from The Blues Brothers)?

Literary: Blanche, Dinah, Fagin, Poirot, Walden. (Not Mink [Snopes], though.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Picking Sides

Perhaps the best way to see if I am Team Zombie or Team Unicorn is to assess each story. (Note to anyone wanting to rush out and get the book for a young person: there's a good bit of swearing and some mature themes: it's not the next thing to get your fan of Goosebumps books.) (Note to self: can I stack up colons like that?)

Zombies vs. Unicorns, Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black, editors (2010)

"Highest Justice," Garth Nix - middle-weight fairy tale (unicorns: +2)

"Love Will Tear Us Apart," Alaya Dawn Jackson - pretty good love story; why do I feel like I don't get the ending? (zombies: +2)

"Purity Test," Naomi Novik - after various bit of suspense and bloodshed, ends with the line "okay - you know what, just shut up and give me some more chocolate milk." (unicorns: +4)

"Bougainvillea," by Carrie Ryan - elaborate, sad, bloody (zombies: +1)

"A Thousand Flowers," Margo Lanagan - medieval, sad, upper-tier fairy tale (unicorns: +3)

"Children of the Revolution," by Maureen Johnson - hauntingly awesome; captures the college-aged woman's voice perfectly (zombies: +5)

"The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn," Diana Peterfreund - freakin' awesome killer unicorn story, layered in with the a teen's struggle to know what her faith calls upon her to do (unicorns: +5)

"Inoculata," Scott Westerfeld - he's such a masterful describer of post-apocalyptic worlds and he captures/creates the language of young people so nicely that I'll give this one high marks even though bits are a lot like Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth (zombies: +4)

"Princess Prettypants," Meg Cabot - this hysterical story is the only thing by Cabot I have really liked! I may have to give her books another chance. (unicorns: +5)

"Cold Hands," Cassandra Clare - heavy-duty fairy tale-with-implied-lesson. Damn. (zombies: +4)

"The Third Virgin," Kathleen Duey - poignant; wished it had more depth (unicorns: +3)

"Prom Night," Libba Bray - while I love her off-the-wall humor: an ugly prom dress is an "unholy union of Hot Topic and mother-of-the-bride," another bleak zombie story is another bleak zombie story. Or were those fireworks a symbol of hope? (zombies: +3)

Looks like Team Unicorn for me! It strikes me that there's more room for variation in world-building for unicorns than for zombies, but great writing can take the day.

See also: Tor's interview with the cover artist, Josh Cochran.