Category Archives: Uncategorised

Suggestion Saturday: August 18, 2018

Here is this week’s list of links from my favourite corners of the web. Last week’s list was a little sparse. I think I more than made up for that this time around.

Don’t Worry About Feeling Sad – on the Benefits of a Blue Period. What do all of you think of this idea? I know I’m intrigued.

How a Disabled Person Feels When Someone Stares at Them via SarahJBpoetry. This is a blog I’m going to be keeping my eye on in the future.

It’s Never too Late to Be a Reader Again. Raise your hand if you’ve ever regretfully stopped reading something. I like the idea of returning to a book later on in life to see if it fits you better then.

Sand Castle Marketing via cynthiaharriso1. If you have a mailing list or are thinking of setting one up, go read this. I love this blogger’s approach to marketing. If only more authors and other creative folks thought this way.

Losing Earth – the Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change. Buckle down for a long read here. I’d be especially curious to hear the thoughts of everyone who clearly remembers 1979-1989. How much do you remember talking about climate change back then? Do you agree that we came close to finding a solution during that decade?

Broken Thoughts – The Story of My Two Broken Legs via sonzyb. Ooh, this made me wince. I also found it interesting because I’ve never broken a single bone and so didn’t know the details of how such an injury is treated. Keep in mind that there is one photo of her injuries and vivid written descriptions of them as well. It didn’t bother me, but I thought you all should know this in advance. If you like this post, be sure to click on part two at the end of it. There were four parts in all, and the author did link to the next one at the end of the first three parts in the series.

Inside the Very Big, Very Controversial Business of Dog Cloning. Seriously, how is this not the stuff of science fiction?

Beyoncé in Her Own Words: Her Life, Her Body, Her Heritage. I don’t normally pay attention to the lives of celebrities, but this article was interesting because of how private Beyoncé generally is. It makes me wonder why she decided to share such personal details about her family all of the sudden.

Posted By:
Tagged:
0

My 4 Favourite Science Fiction Books About Life on Mars

Today’s post was inspired by yesterday’s breaking news about a lake of salty, liquid water being found on Mars. This is exciting news for the scientific community and humanity in general. We may now be a little closer to discovering life on another planet.

As a sci-fi writer, I can only hope this leads to that outcome and paves the way for humans to live there someday. Maybe we’ll even be lucky enough to both find life on another planet and figure out how humans could live there longterm, too.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

The first time I read the premise of this book, I wondered how the main character, Valentine Michael Smith, managed to survive on Mars for his entire childhood when there weren’t any adult humans around to take care of him. Where did he find air? What did he eat and drink? Where did he get his clothing? Who looked after him when he was sick or too little to take care of himself? How did he know how to speak English?

Without giving away spoilers for these questions, I loved slowly figuring out what Valentine’s childhood had been like and why he was bewildered and even horrified by a long list of what I would think of as quite ordinary Earth customs.

While there are topics that Heinlein and I strongly disagree on,* I will always appreciate the way this book explored what it meant to be human and how life on Mars could be radically different from anything people have experienced on Earth.

*See also: the ways he treats and describes many of his female characters.

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but the concept of The War of the Worlds scared me the first time I heard of it. The thought of aliens coming to Earth in order to harm people was something I’d never considered before. Before that point, I’d always assumed that any alien species that found Earth would be friendly with us. (Yes, I was pretty young and naive when I first stumbled across this book!)

I’ve since come to interpret The War of the Worlds as a reflection of humanity’s fears more than anything else. Just because we have a long history of harming those we can’t or won’t understand in no way means that sentient aliens would have the same reaction to us.

Or at least I hope they wouldn’t…..

 

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Let’s assume that there are no forms of life blissfully swimming their microscopic lives away in a salty Martian sea. A “dead” world might be the perfect setting for terraforming a planet to better suite the needs of humanity.

One of the things I loved about this trilogy was how long it followed the same storyline. Generations passed as Mars was slowly transformed into an Earth-like planet. Nobody who was alive in the first scene knew how everything ended by the final scene of Blue Mars. Writing it this way gave the author many opportunities to explore what happens when the original intentions of a scientist or explorer are reinterpreted by new generations as fashions change and people’s ideas of    how best to manage a resource as large as a planet shifted.

I’ve often wished humans could live long enough to see how their ideas still influenced people several generations later. The world might be a better place if everyone took such a longterm approach to the things they advocated for (or against).

The Martian by Andy Weir

Yes, I know I’ve blogged about this tale before. As much as I try to avoid talking about the same science fiction and fantasy books over and over again here, there are times when simply have to circle back and repeat myself.

One of the things I loved the most about The Martian was how hard the author worked to make the events of the plot scientifically plausible. While there were a few discrepancies between it and how such a mission would really play out in real life, much of it was pretty close to what any astronaut would go through if he or she really were to be accidentally abandoned on Mars.

I could see something close to these events happening if humans decided to try to live on Mars only to suffer massive setbacks early on. Hopefully, any future residents of the Red Planet would be just as resourceful as Mark was in this adventure.

What are your favourite sci-fi stories about what it would be like to either live on Mars or discover that another species already lives there?

What Should I Write About Next?

Every once in a while, I like to ask my readers for feedback.

What topics related to fitness, writing, mindfulness, and/or the science fiction and fantasy genres would you like to see me blog about?

What posts here have you enjoyed the most so far?

Which ones would you like to see a follow-up to?

If you have an idea that’s tangentially related to one of these areas, I’d still like to hear. I do occasionally write essays outside of these interests.

Talk to me in the comment section here or on Twitter if you have any ideas.

Nothing Appeals to Everyone

As I mentioned last week, there are certain authors and genres I’ve never been able to become a fan of no matter how many times I try to like them.

It simply isn’t possible to write, draw, film, or sing something that’s going to appeal to every single person who stumbles across it. My thoughts on this topic were too complicated to condense for last week’s post, so I’m going to discuss them with you this week instead.

Some themes, plot twists, or tropes will appeal to one reader but will repel the next person who attempts to read them. This is completely normal, and it says nothing about the quality of the writing itself. It all boils down to the subjective nature of art and storytelling.

Subjectivity and Literature

To give you a concrete example of what I’m talking about, let’s go back to when I was in high school. My eleventh grade English teacher was a kind, generous woman who regularly allowed her students borrow books from her if we wanted something to read for the sheer joy of it.

When she noticed me reading a scary Stephen King story one week and a collection of Langston Hughes poems the next, she smiled and say she was glad to see a student of hers readings such a wide variety of stuff.

She taught her students a lot about literature in general. The authors she assigned us to study were from a wide range of eras and movements. I enjoyed all of them at least a little bit with one glaring exception: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

By the time I finished the first scene of it, I began counting down the days until we finished the last chapter and moved onto literally anything else in the entire world. I honestly would have preferred to read the phone book by the time we were halfway through that story because there was nothing about it that I found at all enjoyable. The characters were vain, selfish, and materialistic from what I observed. If anything interesting ever happened to them, the horrendously slow pacing made it hard for me to tell when those scenes were occurring.

I’ve never been able to get into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s catalogue even as an adult reader who no longer has to remember anything about what I’ve read for a future pop quiz. Obviously, there are plenty of people who disagree with me here, and I’m glad that they’re able to get something out of his writing. The fact that it doesn’t speak to me in no way means that it isn’t worth reading.

He simply isn’t the kind of storyteller that I’m drawn to. Something tells me that my teacher would have understood this if it had been socially acceptable for me to tell her how much I disliked that unit. As it was, I stayed perfectly polite and never brought up the subject. She might have privately had a list of authors she wasn’t a fan of as well!

Subjectivity and Art

The subjective nature of these things isn’t limited to literature, either.

One of the biggest reasons why I love going to art museums, shows, galleries, and other creative spaces with a small group of like-minded people has to do with how interesting it is to see how different folks respond to the same painting, sculpture, or other creative work.

When it comes to photography, I like whimsical, thought-provoking pieces like the shot of two toy robots on the right side of this post. Their glowing eyes make it easy to imagine that they’re somehow at least slightly aware of their surroundings.

There are so many different ways to interpret a photo like this one. Sometimes when I’m sitting quietly somewhere this is exactly the sort of thing I think about.

My taste in paintings is nothing like my preferences for photography. Hyperrealism fascinated me long before I had any idea that there was a name for this movement or that multiple painters have figured out how to paint scenes so realistic that I genuinely feel like I could walk into them and never notice I was in a painting at all. It was a style of painting I was pleasantly surprised to see on occasion, and I only grew to love it more once I figured out what it was called and that many different artists have explored it over the years.

Of course, not everyone is going to agree with me on either of these points. There are people out there who don’t connect with the pieces that speak to me at all just like I have been known to have trouble understanding other, most abstract types of art.

Subjectivity and Music

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get a group of people to agree on what a good song should sound like even after you’ve sorted out objective criteria like the quality of the singer’s voice or whether or not they’re singing on key?

I know plenty of folks who have incredibly strong opinions on this topic. Some of them even refuse to listen to certain artists or entire genres of music altogether because of how firmly they’ve made up their minds about what they do and don’t enjoy.

Yes, I’ve done this, too. There was a long period of time when I didn’t think I liked any form of country music at all. It was only after being exposed to many different types of it that I realized there were a small number of country artists that I actually did enjoy quite a bit.

There’s Something for Everyone

While nothing is going to appeal to everyone, there is something out there for everyone.

I don’t know about you, but I find that freeing.

It’s okay not to like something. Someone else out there loves it.

On the flip side, you’ll find plenty of books and other creative works that you do love if you keep searching for the things that speak to you.

What have you read, watched, or listened to that you’ve never been able to enjoy? What creative works have you tried and been surprised by how much you loved them?

No, You Don’t Have to Finish That Book

I spend a lot of my time online talking to other people who love to read. Over and over again, I keep running into conversations about stories that someone doesn’t like for any number of reasons but forces themselves to keep reading anyway.

It’s one thing to continue reading something that’s been assigned for a class or book club, but making yourself to read something you don’t like for no reason at all doesn’t make any sense.

No, you don’t have to finish that book. It truly is okay to stop reading one sentence, paragraph, chapter, or act into the plot.

If you need more convincing, keep reading.

There Are Hundreds of Millions of Other Book in the World

As of 2010, there were 129,864,880 books in the world. (I tried to find a more up-to-date statistic than that, but I didn’t have any luck. If any of my readers know what the current number is, I’d love to hear it).

No matter what genre you’re into or how particular you are your reading material, there are far more stories floating around out there than you will ever have the time to check out before you die even if you spent every single waking moment doing nothing but reading for the next 50 years.

Why waste your time on something that doesn’t appeal to you when you could be back at the bookstore or library finding a different title that is right up your alley?

There is nothing like the feeling you get when you find a story that’s perfect for your tastes. This should happen as much as possible for everyone who loves to read. The less time you spend on “meh” book, the more time you’ll have for the ones that you really love.

Pleasure Reading Is Supposed to be Pleasurable

Yes, I know this is an obvious statement, but sometimes I think people forget that you’re supposed to enjoy the tales you pick out when you’re looking for something to fill your spare time.

It’s one thing to slog through the fine details of a contract, user manual, textbook*, user agreement, or some other form of reading that is meant to give the reader important knowledge instead of entertaining them. These reasons for reading are an unavoidable part of life, and they do serve incredibly important purposes for anyone who needs more information about when their phone contract runs out or what to do when their fridge makes that really bizarre sound.

Reading for the sheer pleasure of it is different. The only purpose of this type of reading is to give you joy. If you’re not enjoying it, you might as well go find something else that does make you happy.

*Although I will admit to reading textbooks for fun in the past, too!

You Might Like It More Later

Just because a book doesn’t appeal to you right now doesn’t mean you won’t have a different opinion of it in the future.

Not liking a specific story the first time you tried it could happen for any number of reasons. For example, you could have picked it up before you were ready for that particular tale or at a time in your life when other types of writing were more appealing to you.

The first time I read C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, I honestly didn’t know what to think of it. The scene where Orual, the main character, sees Pearl, her sister, again after assuming that Pearl had died was beautiful and poignant, but the plot flew over my head because I wasn’t familiar with the myth of Cupid and Psyche and I was a little too young for the subject matter in general.

It was only when I reread it a few years later that I started understanding the themes Mr. Lewis was exploring in it about love, selfishness, doubt, suffering, and gods whose actions don’t make any sense at all to us humans.

With that being said….

Nothing Appeals to Everyone

I may have to write a follow-up post to this post sometime, but not every author or story is going to appeal to every single reader no matter how many times you try to change your opinion of it.

It simply isn’t impossible to write something that appeals to everyone in the entire world.

I know several people who only read nonfiction. Some readers love mysteries but wouldn’t touch a horror novel with a ten foot pole. Others wants  cutting-edge science in their fiction but will run screaming from the slightest hint of romance in the plot.

This only scratches the surface of all of the different types of writing and storytelling that are out there.

There are certain authors and fictional universes that I’ve never been able to get into no matter how many times I give them another shot or how hard I try to enjoy them. This doesn’t mean that those books are bad or not worth checking out in any way. They’re simply not my cup of tea for all sorts of different reasons.

There are many other people out there who deeply love them. Some of them are wildly popular, and I’m glad that they’ve found their audience even though I’m not part of that audience.

If you struggle with putting books away without finishing them, I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. It truly isn’t necessary to keep reading something that you can’t bring yourself to like.

Do any of my readers have this problem? How often do you give up on reading a book before you finish it?

Saturday Seven: Cold and Flu Season Reads

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. We’re well into the depths of winter now here in Ontario. Cold and flu season is in full swing. I spent the last several weeks fighting and just recently finally getting over a stubborn cold myself, so communicable winter illnesses like these have been on my… Read More

Maintaining a Low-Sugar Diet Through the Holidays

Last August, I began seriously cutting back on how much added sugar I ate after a friend mentioned all of the positive changes she’d seen from doing that. Not only did I lose a few pounds unexpectedly, my skin became clearer and I have more energy now than I did last summer. My early afternoon energy… Read More

Posted By:
Tagged:
0

Who to Follow on Twitter If You’re Into Health and Fitness

Earlier this year I started a new series of posts on this blog about Twitter accounts that share the same theme. This week I’m going to be recommending accounts that tweet about health, nutrition, and fitness. To be honest with you, I’m quite picky about which Twitter accounts I follow when it comes to these… Read More

Posted By:
Tagged:
0