April 19th, 2011


...and on into spring

Well, that's that. Finished up tax season yesterday with another 11-hour day, went back today to wrap up some paperwork with my mentor, and talked some about what I need to do in order to make more money next season as a tax preparer. (Short version: take classes, pass promotion exams.) I still need to retrieve my cheese & mayo from the fridge, if they haven't thrown it out already.

I'll be doing an interview with the Tyson's Corner office of Accountemps tomorrow, since the Alexandria office didn't return my call for some reason, and hopefully will be beavering away soon at something resembling a full-time job with decent pay for the next few weeks. Decent being defined as more than $10/hour, since that's not much better than unemployment, although I'll grant you it's better for my head to be out and working in somebody else's office instead of squatting in my apartment sending out applications that never get replies. Most of the jobs Accountemps has listed right now pay more than that, and there's some really nice ones paying around $20 right here in Alexandria; we'll see what happens.

In between work and study and sleep and stuff, I have managed to get some recreational reading done. Among other things, I've been reading the Baen e-book version of Retief!, which is a repackaging of the original Retief anthology Envoy To New Worlds. I have caught one tweak/edit that annoys me - the subplot involving the telepathic abilities of the folks on Jorgenson's World is gone, and "Courier" is somewhat the worse for it - but otherwise, it's a decent collection of the Retief stories, which are what Keith Laumer will be best remembered for along with the Bolo Combat Units.

Also, Solomon Kane, which I gather is being made into a movie at long last. Kane is one of Robert E. Howard's works that for a long time languished in obscurity without the attention devoted to the Conan stories; unlike the iron-thewed barbarian, the deadly Puritan driven to punish the wicked of the world spawned no subgenre of his own. Still, one can find without too much trouble in the tales of Solomon Kane the same power, the same tribute paid to skill and indomitable will as is everywhere in the Conan stories. Nothing too complicated in terms of plot or characterization in these short stories, but they're decent enough brain candy. The copy I have is an old paperback that only has a third of the tales, but Del Rey has published The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, which has them all. In fact, Del Rey seems to have reissued all of Howard's work with new covers and in some cases, the Kindle edition. Good on you, guys.

Also also reread The Barsoom Project and The California Voodoo Game by Steven Barnes and Larry Niven (predictably, in the wrong order); still good brain candy, and so far reality hasn't caught up with Dream Park yet. Soon, perhaps.
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Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids.

Apropos of nothing -well, maybe my brain starting to come out of the fog imposed by too much work, not enough sleep, and a few too many carbohydrates this weekend- it occurred to me that there are only a handful of SF stories that depict the exploration and conquest of Mars as the difficult, dirty and very likely lethal undertaking it'll probably be when we finally get around to it. The three stories that come to mind are all fairly old, too:

  1. "What's It Like Out There?" by Edmond Hamilton

  2. "Crucifixus Etiam" by Walter M. Miller Jr.

  3. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

There are newer stories that show a Mars that's decayed into a galactic-scale slum world (Dan Simmons' Hyperion, for example, and James Daniel Ross' Radiation Angels stories) but none that are quite as bleak as Hamilton and Miller's Mars. Anyone know any others?