by Fran Wilde
While fighting and magic are central to the action in many of Saladin Ahmed’s stories, he never makes the mistake of letting his characters go to battle on empty stomachs. Whether the 2013 Nebula Nominee is describing a tavern’s spiked beer or the mess caused by thousand-layer pastries, food is an important part of Ahmed’s worlds, as seen in the collection Engraved on the Eye and in his first novel Throne of the Crescent Moon.
Fresh from a recent NPR column on worldbuilding and fantasy, and the paperback and UK launches of his first novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon, Ahmed agreed to visit Cooking the Books to discuss his characters’ views on food, how food defines their societies, and six-foot tall warrior rabbit women.
You had two debuts last year, Throne of the Crescent Moon and Engraved on the Eye. Several characters from Throne appear in Engraved on the Eye.
The first time we meet Adoullah in Engraved on the Eye’s first story, “Where Virtue Lives,” he’s eating a thousand-layer pastry. In the process of eating, Adoullah gets the crumbs on his face and beard, but not on his robe. It’s an interesting way to approach a society by talking about the mess that food makes.
Saladin Ahmed: Adoullah holds the office of ghul hunter, which, ages ago, was a vocation regarded as a holy order. Their signature garment is a white caftan that is magically white and can’t be stained.
But Adoullah is one of the last of these guys and is a fallen, real-world version of a ghul hunter. He’s kind of a hero, but he’s modeled on a kinder version of the noir detective. We tend to stereotype those kinds of characters as amoral but it’s not true in many cases, like Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op character. These characters try to do the right thing, even though they’re kind of grizzled, and they drink too much, and they might wake up too late. They might be socially on the margins, but they have a kind of purity to them that’s often in contrast to the world around them.
Adoullah’s very much in that vein. So the thing with the robe and the food and the mess – there are a lot of scenes both in the novel and in the short stories of him eating, and eating very messily and loudly. The idea was to contrast this ideal of purity and what purity or virtue might really look like in the real world. So he’s got this moonlight white caftan that never stains, but he’s also messily wiping his hands on it and dropping crumbs because he knows he won’t get it dirty.
2. Amy Mebberson made a thing and you should all go admire it. I ordered mine so fast when it went up for sale that I actually got #1 of 50. That is love.
3. If you don't have a budget line item for Amy's art (which, let's face it, is a weird line item to have in a budget, and yet), take a look at Renee Nault's incredible watercolor mermaids. She has prints and calendars for sale, and has an incredibly diverse undersea world waiting for you to dive in. So pretty. So cool.
4. Starting Christmas Day, and continuing all the way through my birthday festivities, I will be doing a chain of twelve giveaways, for everything from ARCs and printed books to cover flats, posters, and special surprises. Each giveaway will have its own rules; watch this space for details.
5. Omnivoracious posted a super-fun thing about books at San Diego Comic-Con, including a picture of me in my Umbrella Corporation blue dress, standing in front of the Umbrella Corporation red cover for Parasite. I look very smug. You would, too, if that were your cover.
6. Alice and I did the Macarena this morning. I enjoyed it more than she did.
7. The year is almost over, but there are still some fun surprises to come: watch this space for details, and watch the sky for alien invasions. Darn those alien invasions.
8. Zombies are love.
9. I will be making my last pre-Christmas stop at Borderlands Books this afternoon. At this point, anything ordered won't reach you before the holidays, but you can still get signed and personalized books if you contact them before 2pm PST. After that, I don't guarantee another swing-through until sometime in January.
10. Finally for right now, Jill is still accepting donations to fund her surgery. As I said when she first started this campaign, we could buy her a future for Christmas, and that's amazing. If you've been looking for a tip jar to shove a couple of dollars into as a karmic investment for the year to come, please swing by and take a look at her plea.
I hope that you're all having the merriest holiday possible; I hope you're warm and safe and content, even if you're not in a place where you can be happy; I hope you're taking care of yourselves.
Let's get through these holidays together.
- Current Mood: happy
- Current Music:Counting Crows, "Accidentally in Love."
Cute cubs, and I like getting the public involved in naming them... but really, are those the best choices they could come up with? Bart and Maggie? Luke and Leia? Not the least bit lion-ish, I says.
Let's start a write-in campaign for "Jaime and Cersei."
- Current Location:Santa Fe
- Current Mood: amused
A while back, I discussed how Twitter twisted world views of Trayvon Martin, presenting customized versions of the world depending on what your friends were like. My Twitter-feed, f’rinstance, consisted of tales of how badly the defense was doing and how clear it was that George Zimmerman would be convicted.
And after I said, “I hope George Zimmerman is convicted,” an LJ-friend replied:
So you admit your information comes from The Daily Show and an overtly biased Twitter feed, yet you have presupposed the ‘correct’ outcome.
You, sir, are part of the problem.
Which I thought about for a good long time. For I could be a part of the problem.
Except that my biased Twitter feed linked directly to the coroner’s report, which I read in full, and several transcripts of various testimonies. Now, admittedly, I did not watch the case with the full attention of, say, a juror, and it’s possible some damning evidence in Zimmerman’s favor slipped through the loop.
But my very point in that essay was that when you have a biased Twitter-feed, you need to compensate. Which I tried to do so, by skimming the more morally-superior essays and drilling down to what facts were presented. In short: I compensated.
And what I saw from that evidence was a man who was not irredeemable – he was trying to accomplish good – but someone who, as I once described a friend, “Would break a little old lady’s hip in his eagerness to escort her off the street.” Zimmerman seemed to be acting from fear, not quiet justice, and I do believe from the evidence I saw that he placed himself into a position where he shot Trayvon Martin in, if not cold blood, extremely reptilian-temperatured blood.
Was Zimmerman an active racist? Hard to say. But was he the sort of guy who’d automatically jump to “kid in a hoodie in strange neighborhood who refuses to answer questions from a terrified stranger” == “mortal threat”?
I think so. He was certainly driving around seeking danger. Maybe he did it because his neighborhood had gone to shit and crime was on the rise, but you know who’s the last guy I want running around my block with a gun? The guy who’s treating his turf like it’s territory to be defended in a videogame.
So I said that I hope he was convicted. The man shot a teenager who literally no one has seriously argued was doing anything illegal at the time of the shooting. That fact left conservatives twisting in the wind, because there were all sorts of arguments of who should be threatened by what, and whether a hoodie should equal suspicion, and brought up all sorts of facts about what Trayvon had done in the past.
But based on what Zimmerman knew as he stepped out of that car, I think he was a danger to innocents, and is a danger. The only reason he’s not in jail is because the “Stand Your Ground” laws vindicated him – but vindicated in the eyes of the law does mean that someone is safe, unless you’d care to invite OJ Simpson to date your daughter.
And frankly, Zimmerman’s actions since then have done not one iota to contradict the impression I built up from reading those biased articles.
Which is not to say that I couldn’t be wrong. The accusation leveled against me is serious, and I take it seriously. It’s too easy to drink the Kool-Aid of whatever social stream you swim in, picking up outrage and narrowing to a sclerotic world view. Which is why you have to compensate, working hard to see past the obvious to what’s there. And if you don’t, yes, you become the danger. You become George Zimmerman, convinced so utterly of his righteousness that he steps out of a car against police advice to start handling problems his own bad self. And, armed with twisted information, you leave truth dead on the sidewalk.
The distinction my friend failed to make is that yes, I’ve convicted him in my heart. But I did it based on a fair amount of evidence, and I am not a jury. The jury acquitted him, and they did so rightfully – based on the box they got shoved into, they had to.
That does not make the laws right, it does not make George Zimmerman a stable man, and it doesn’t make the shooting a good thing.
It does not also make me right.
Now. Go read the best article you’re going to read on the Trayvon Martin case, a wonderfully balanced take not just about the case but how people reacted, and draw your own conclusions.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/361832.h
I debated just posting this as a joke, but figured that might be a little cruel:
I will be continuing the Frosty fanfic story, but last night I got home, made dinner, took my daughter to a doctor appointment, and then decided I was going to try to spend a few minutes with my family. So there was no Frosty update today, sorry.
However, I do have two things to share.
1. I was a guest on the Hide and Create Podcast, talking about writers and blogging. This is part one of the podcast. I had a lot of fun, and we ended up chatting so much it spilled into a two-parter. But don’t worry, we didn’t end on a cliffhanger.
2. A while back, Pat Rothfuss asked me if I’d contribute a silly or interesting reward as a stretch goal for his Worldbuilders fundraiser. This is how, once they raised a total of $75,000, I ended up attempting to duplicate both characters on the cover of The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs. (Fun factoid: the pose on the right is officially the most skin I’ve ever shown in a cover pose.)
Have a great weekend, all!
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
The fourth season of GAME OF THRONES is only a few months away. Tyrion, Jon, Arya, Sansa, the Hound, Joffrey, Cersei, Jaime, Brienne, Bronn, Sam, Daenerys, and all the rest of the characters you love or hate will be returning to your TV screens... oh, along about late March or early April, I'd say. So what time could be better to refresh yourselves on the first three seasons of the show?
So, by special arrangement with HBO, the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe will be presenting a GAME OF THRONES retrospective. New Mexicans -- and lucky tourists passing through at the right time -- will have a chance to see the show the way only VIPs and cast members and critics have ever seen it before, at private screenings and premieres -- on the big screen at a movie theatre.
Starting on Monday, January 6, and continuing through late March, the Cocteau will be presenting weekly screenings of GAME OF THRONES, in order. Some weeks we'll show two episodes, some weeks three. I expect to be on hand personally for many of the screenings (though, PLEASE NOTE, probably not all), to introduce the episodes beforehand, answer questions afterward, and sign a few books as well. And it may be we will have some other special guests as well, either in person or via Skype. Can't promise anything as of yet, but we're working on it.
Our official screening schedule looks like this:
Monday, January 6 season one, episodes 1-3,
Monday, January 13 season one, episodes 4-5,
Monday, January 20 season one, episodes 6-8,
Monday, January 27 season one, episodes 9-10,
Monday, February 3 season two, episodes 1-3,
Wednesday, February 12 season two, episodes 4-5,
Wednesday, February 19 season two, episodes 6-8,
Friday, February 28 season two, episodes 9-10,
Monday, March 3 season three, episodes 1-3,
Monday, March 10 season three, episodes 4-5,
Monday, March 17 season three, episodes 6-8,
Monday, March 24 season three, episodes 9-10
And I have saved the best part for last.
Admission to all GAME OF THRONES screenings will be ABSOLUTELY FREE.
No tickets, no passes, no payment required. First come, first served. Come to the Cocteau and come on in... so long as we have seats. But we only have 125 of those, so best come early if you want to be sure of a place.
We'll have door prizes as well. Not to mention the best popcorn in town.
See you at the cinema, for GAME OF THRONES as you've never seen it before.
- Current Location:Santa Fe
- Current Mood: excited
as adapted from an Alton Brown recipe.
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup milk
A handful dried currants and candied lemon (Whatever you add-in, make sure it's chopped small, and not wet)
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix well. Cut in butter and shortening with your fingers. In a separate bowl, combine milk with beaten egg then make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients gently until mixed. Stir in fruit.
At this point you will have a wet, sticky dough. You can either add more flour to shape rounds, or tip the dough into a scone pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until brown.
What you'll get is a slightly dry, light, not-at-all-sweet scone that will work with everything from cheddar to honey, or brilliantly on its own, and is actually better the next day. :-)
On the plus side, I now have a cremation contract.