Writing and Art in 2020

As everyone knows, 2020 has been a hell of a year.  I entered the new year planning to attend to a few weeks of attention-intensive work-matters before getting hot on my writing.  Then the novel coronavirus pandemic hit, work remained intensive, and personal tragedy began to strike.  For months, it’s been hard to do much more in free time than delve into books and Netflix.

None of that has really changed, but I’ve been growing increasingly aggravated with not creating anything.  I can’t say at this point that I’m going to suddenly start writing every day again, but I have been increasing my planning in fits and starts to work up to it.  The Asimulant Series is approximately 25% written, and is one of the projects I’ll be tackling first, followed by some other projects I’ve had on the back burners.

One of the things I wanted to do for Asimulant (and other stories) is include one or more illustrations with them.  To that end, I’ve been doing some SF-related sketches from time to time to get in practice—mostly space ships, but also beginning to delve into other kind of scenes.  I can’t lie, I have a love affair with drawing space ships which dates back near thirty-five years.  One of my side projects (fallen somewhat by the wayside, as well) has been teaching myself again how to model and render space scenes, and after working up to it a bit, possibly illustrating SF scenes in watercolor and colored pencil, one of my favorite illustration combinations.  And with the nice new journal I was recently given, I might work on a SF-themed sketchbook as well.

So these are some of the things that will (hopefully!) be forthcoming:  new writing, new sketches, new illustrations for the writing, and maybe some interesting 3D-rendered artwork.

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness has been on my to-be-read list for some time.  I finally picked it up at the library when I stopped by on a whim, and I’m  glad I did.

It’s fantastic. I’ve only read it once (so far) and it’s already on my mainstream favorites list.

It was a bit of a slow starter for me, but that didn’t last long at all. It took me a few pages to really start paying attention as well, but that’s about when it really started to grab my interest. I like stories where the details matter, where you have to watch what’s going on and fit the facts together as the story progresses, and Le Guin certainly delivered.

There were some slower spots–Orgoreyn wasn’t all that exciting a place–but the pieces and parts kept coming together, moving the whole story relentlessly forward, and Orgoreyn was notable in that its were the relationship between Ai and Estraven picked back up and just got more and more interesting.  The dynamic between them (as almost dual protagonists) evolves constantly, and as it does, we learn more and more about each.  Most obviously, Le Guin reveals Estraven’s history and character (and the Gethenians as a whole) in ever-increasing detail even while the character himself develops, revealing deeper layers yet.  I also admired the way that Gethenian groups and nations are portrayed distinctively enough to avoid a monocultural world, yet there is a unifying cultural foundation based on biology, history, and environment–and despite their notable differences from Ai’s culture (and presumably the rest of the Ekumen), they’re still tied together by the threads of common humanity. Moreover, Le Guin handled it smoothly, integrating everything into a tight, consistent whole that lends it solid believability despite the many differences from the familiar and expected.

If I had to give a criticism, I’d say that the side characters frequently seem rather similar to one another in personality, particularly once the story moves out of Karhide, though motivations are distinguished well enough. Some of the events did seem rather abrupt,  in the sense that they left me a little puzzled, rather than surprised, that they happened at the points they do. Even so, they make sense in the context of the characters and settings, and the story being told, and I suspect a lot of that may have simply been that I was missing nuance in the process of absorbing a compact, detailed story while always hurrying to turn the page and find out what happens next.

I’m keen to read this book again now that I’ve taken in the details one time through, to see what I missed and put it all back together, and to really study the finer points of the story and characters and their implications. I’ll definitely be picking up the others in the cycle as well. Needless to say, I recommend it highly.

Upcoming Series: ASIMULANT

A while back I posted on Twitter that I’m intending to post a short story or two a month online. My intention was to start in February, with a story I was currently working on about a technomancer and an artificial person he helps achieve personal freedom.

The story took on a life of its own. Several revisions in, I came to the conclusion that there was considerably more to it, too many questions left unanswered. When I stepped back and looked at the outline, it became pretty clear that this story was needed to be a series.

The first story in the series, Artificial Horizon should be coming by the end of March, posted here and on the usual sites. The second story in the arc, Between Your World And Mine, will come soon after.

How many installments in the series? It’s looking like there’ll be five, coming between now and probably June.

Hello, world, I’m G.M. Rader

Welcome to my shiny new blog.  I’m G.M. Rader, a writer of furry (anthropomorphic) fiction.  Here, I write about writing, about reading, and about coffee. Probably coffee.  We’ll see.

I’m still getting this set up, but I’ll probably post once a week or so once the wheels are rolling.