remains of the week

…or, five things make a post.

This week for me was very full of very little of import to the wider world, so here's bits and pieces of stuff:

  1. I'm playing around with ikiwiki as the potential new backend for my blog and liking it a fair bit. (I know co-Iron Blogger spang uses it for her site.) It bills itself as a "wiki compiler", which seems not quite right — or at least I'm using it as a more general web site compiler — but it's impressively effective for something which generates static pages and uses only a cookie and a CGI script to do all its interaction with the user. It's backed by pretty much whatever version control system you want, which plays exactly to my kinks in software design — I chose Git. I may at some point roll my own database-backed comment module, because the current file-backed one feels a little clunky, but for the moment I'm still working on more basic things. Web design is hard; good web design seems fscking impossible. Also, like, free time. I'm going to get the site looking halfways decent and then figure out how to move all my data (and URLs, and and and) over from Blogger. But I have a site that's stored in a Git repository and updates when I 'git push' to it, and that makes me really happy.
  2. I finished the latest Asimov's on the T some time this week. I gave it to an acquaintance who was looking for reading material, so I'm just doing this from memory and the preview of the issue posted on Asimov's web site, but here's what I thought of the stories in it. (Since I'm trying to put my thoughts together for Hugo nominations this year and finding it frustrating to remember everything I read, I figure if I do it here I'll have something to consult come next year. I'll try to go back and do the first couple issues of the year in a bit. It's mostly for my own use, but I figure other people may be interested too — if you have thoughts on the stories, feel free to chime in. 🙂
    • "Helping Them Take the Old Man Down", by William Preston (novelette) — a really wonderful deconstruction of pulp/superhero/superspy stories, well-written and thoughtful; definitely potential Hugo material.
    • "The Tower", by Kristine Katheryn Rusch — the novella (novelette); it didn't grab me, so I didn't read it.
    • "Blind Cat Dance", by Alexander Jablokov (novelette) — gene-modded animals and the people who manage them, and manage each other; interesting ideas, an arrestingly wrong protagonist and other interesting and well-developed characters. Hugo potential.
    • "Centaurs", by Benjamin Crowell (short story) — Bleh. Hormones IN SPAAAAAACE. One-dimensional teenage protagonists, including a not-very-convincingly-rendered damsel in distressteenage girl. Its only saving grace is that it didn't have the expected ending, but that wasn't nearly enough to redeem it for me.
    • "Ticket Inspector Gliden Becomes the First Martyr of the Glorious Human Uprising", by Derek Zumsteg (short story) — this one was amusing and included some trenchant observations on public transit. It mostly casts tensions of our own time into SFnal terms, but it does so without heavy-handedness. I'm not sure it's Hugo-worthy, but it made me smile.
    • "The Speed of Dreams", by Will Ludwigsen (short story) — a cute and amusing story told by a well-realized 8th grader as her science report, with an icepick of an ending. I still can't figure out what I think of it.
  3. Now I need something new to read on the T. The April/May Asimov's should be up soon — I need to check Pandemonium for it — but in the meantime I'm reading Valentine, written by Alex de Campi and drawn by Christine Larsen, a comic about two soldiers in Napolean's army in its harrowing retreat from Moscow who are entrusted with the future of magic on Earth. It was featured in a Big Idea piece on John Scalzi's web site and caught my eye. It's primarily being distributed for mobile devices, which is actually a pretty pleasant way to read comics, so I'm reading it on my G1 (though it's also available for iPhone and a bunch of other formats). You can download the first issue for free on the Android Marketplace and buy the next three for a buck apiece. Each one is about a T ride for me, and I'm enjoying it so far. Suggestions for other things to read on the T — which is to say short things, especially fiction — would be welcomed. 🙂
  4. MITSFS got the microfilm scans back — thanks to NESFA for funding the project! They look good — obviously the covers don't come out, but they didn't in the microfilm either, so that's not a loss, and the text is crisp and eminently readable. Now to figure out what to do with them… (My next MITSFS project is probably to find the legal people to make the Google Books thing happen? Gah.)
  5. I just spent 45 minutes being interviewed by my housemate on my IM habits for his UI design class. It was amusing. Also apparently I have a lot of things I pay attention to. 🙂

Edit 2010-Apr-08: Added story lengths, tagged as asimovs.