[sci] Q re journal article IP

Jul. 26th, 2017 12:48 am
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
I'm reading this really great journal article in the field of medical anthropology, and it got me thinking, "I wanna quote this whole thing. I bet my readers would really dig this." And then I thought, I wonder if I asked nicely if the author would let me republish it as a guest post in my journal? And then I thought, I wonder if the author even has the authority to do that, once their paper has been published in a journal?

What rights does the author of journal article have in their article once published in a journal? I appreciate this might vary by specific journal (or organization that owns or edits the journal), but are there general trends? Do journals typically require submitting authors forfeit the right to publish the work for free on the internet? Forever? What if an author wants to contribute the paper as a chapter in an anthology (book)? Or write their own book in which the paper is one chapter?
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
So, yes, we got home tonight and saw that John McCain waited to take life-saving advantage of the ACA before he voted, along with fifty other Republican senators whose careers I hope will be even shorter-lived than it seems they want their constituents to be, to proceed with killing it and quite a lot of other people. These are highlights of the day I had before that.

1. [personal profile] spatch met me after my doctor's appointment this afternoon; we walked up the Esplanade to Back Bay (willows, cormorants, a blue reflected hollow in the overcast rippling in the river's wind-waves; I climbed a tree and developed a hole in my sock) and had dinner at the Cornish Pasty Co., where the chicken tikka masala pasty was approximately half the size of a human head and the toffee pudding with crème anglais arrived in a crucible. These are both endorsements. We had not planned on a book-gathering trip, but first there were the book sale carts at the West End Branch of the BPL and then there was Rodney's. I now appear to own Jack Weatherford's The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire (2010), Jean Potts' Home Is the Prisoner (1960), Derek Jarman: A Portrait (1996) edited by Roger Wollen, and Cicely Mary Barker's The Lord of the Rushie River (1938), which I freely admit I bought because "Traveller's Joy" appears in the text as a folk song. The clouds had broken up by the time we were walking back over the Harvard Bridge and the Charles was full of white and pink sails, including a small flotilla circling one another and then crocodiling back to the MIT boathouse. Rob took a couple of pictures of me on the Esplanade. I am not all right with photographs of myself right now, so I am trying to make a point of them.

And the gunner we had was apparently mad. )

2. [personal profile] yhlee and [personal profile] telophase have developed a hexarchate Tarot. Specifically, a jeng-zai deck of the era of Machineries of Empire. You can ask it things. There are no illustrations as yet, but I ran two spreads from different factions and even allowing for the pattern-making capacity of the human brain it gave me scarily decent readings both times. Fair warning: it comes from a dystopia. I'm not sure it knows how to advise on light matters.

3. Courtesy of Michael Matheson: Robot Hugs' Gender Rolls. I'm not sure why we don't seem to own any dice, but fortunately the internet provides. I got non-binary femme-type dandy. I . . . can really live with that, actually.

We bought food for the cats. We bought ice cream for ourselves. I guess tomorrow I make a lot more calls.

(no subject)

Jul. 25th, 2017 09:30 pm
skygiants: Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena holding a red rose (i'm the witch)
[personal profile] skygiants
[personal profile] jothra went to a library sale last week and asked if I had any requests: "Weird 70s Gothics? Trixie, Belden?"

"WEIRD 70S GOTHICS PLEASE," I said, and Jo duly carried out her commission so well that I don't know if anybody's ever going to top it:



Portrait in Jig-Saw is apparently so obscure it doesn't even have a Goodreads page, which, having read it, I can honestly now say is kind of a shame.

Our Heroine's name is Alixander David Somerlaid MacDonald (I KNOW), otherwise known as Alisdair; she is a Strictly Sheltered Heiress who has been raised in a Freezing Castle in Complete Isolation and Solitude with only occasional visits from her father until she comes of age on her 21st birthday.

...for the record, the year is 1973.

My legit favorite part about these spoilers is that the entire plot relies on an alternate universe where the world's most famous postmodern novelist is a Thai princess, I want to live in THAT universe! )

Health Care Is Not a Consumer Good

Jul. 25th, 2017 08:48 pm
lydy: (Default)
[personal profile] lydy
I have a known history of PVCs.  PVCs are "premature ventricular contractions" which basically means that the ventricles of my heart get a little over-excited and jump the gun.  Hence the "premature."  It is usually a benign heart arrhythmia.  They were noted on my sleep study, which was done three to five years ago.  Known history.

For Reasons, I got rather drunk Saturday night at Fourth Street.  While I was trying to fall asleep, I felt just plain weird, and I thought to feel my pulse.  I was missing every eighth beat.  That's...a lot of PVCs.  Since then, I've been noticing occasional tightness in my chest, a very slight something that one might call shortness of breath, and a lot of missed beats.  Now, at least some of the weird feeling in my chest is almost certainly muscular.  I don't wear a bra, I am old, and the muscles attaching to my rib cage are a bit stressed.  And some of the shortness of breath may or may not be related to asthma.

One night at work, with entirely too much time on my hands, as my patient was coming in late, I hooked myself up to the amplifier, just running the EKG.  (This cost my work exactly two disposable snap electrodes, one alcohol wipe, and one sani-wipe.)  Yep, my heart was throwing PVCs.  One morning, I was throwing between six and twelve a minute. 

Possible triggers:  alcohol, caffeine, and Allegra.  So, I've stopped taking Allegra, stopped having a nightcap after work, and reduced the caffeine.  I tried eliminating the caffeine, but that caused me to become depressed, and there's literally no future in that.  I switched to Claritin, which doesn't work as well, but man I need to not claw my eyes out.

I repeat: PVCs are almost always a benign arrhythmia.  There are tests.  I should probably have them done.  Possibly a Holter monitor, probably a (shudder) stress test.  Ick.  Probably expensive.  Sigh.  After a month of monitoring my pulse for missed beats, messing about with my chemical profile, and whinging and moaning about not liking doctors, I sent an email to my doctor through the automated system, describing my symptoms, providing the above information, and asking for an appointment.

And now we get to how health care is really not a consumer good.

I get back an email stating that they cannot schedule me an appointment based on my reported symptoms, and I need to talk to a nurse, first.  I roll my eyes.  I call the clinic's Nurseline, and go through all the above information.  I assume she can also see my email to my doc, but who knows.  She asks me a series of questions, the answer to most of them is "no."  Am I in pain?  Does the pain radiate? Am I dizzy?  Do I feel nauseous?  No, no, no, no.  She then says, "You should go to the Emergency Room."  I explain that I will not do so.  I point out that PVCs are almost always benign.  (When they aren't benign, they still aren't a terminal rhythm.  They're a symptom of cardiomyopathy or some other serious damn thing, but not instantly fatal.)  I am still paying off my last visit to the ER, eight months ago.  The nurse tries to insist.  I tell her that I will, under no circumstances, do any such thing.  We get rather cross with each other.  She states that their guidelines do not permit them to schedule an appointment for these symptoms, the guidelines require that I be seen on an emergent basis.  I point out that this is health care, and I can refuse any damn thing I want. 

Eventually, she says that she will have to talk to my provider, and will call me back.  I point out that I evidently have a condition so dire that I must be seen on an emergent basis, but if I refuse, they will not permit me to see my own damn doctor, and how does that even make sense.  We became even crosser with one another. 

I wake up to a voice mail stating that I can call my clinic and schedule an appointment.  By this time, of course, the clinic is closed, and after hours people cannot schedule. 

So, this morning, I call the clinic.  And am offered an appointment at 9:40 a.m.  I explain that this simply doesn't work, as I have to go to work tonight, which means I need to be in bed by 11:00 a.m.  The nurse asks why that doesn't work.  I point out that even if I get in and out in an hour, I'm still not home before 11:00 a.m., and that means probably not in bed until 11:30 or noon, and that assumes that they don't decide to do a bunch of stuff, and what's the chance of that?   She allows as to the justice of my remarks, and offers me...Urgent Care.  Yeah, no.  While not as expensive as the ER, it a) doesn't solve my problem with needing to be in bed, and b) IT'S NOT AN EMERGENCY, FFS.  She says that the guidelines are that I be seen same day.

Quick note:  You know how I know that this isn't an emergency?  Because every time the nurse attempts to make me go to the emergency room, they say, "guidelines."  If it really were an emergency, they'd be talking about, you know, death.  (I did have a nurse say that to me once, in reference to a possible case of tetanus.)  The fact that the nurses sound vaguely unhappy about the guidelines is also a tell.

We go a couple more rounds.  My normal provider doesn't work on Thursdays, is full on Wednesday, and is also completely booked on Friday.  It is suggested that perhaps I call back on Wednesday morning and see if anything has opened up.  I point out that the system is completely broken.  The nurse agrees.  Eventually, she asks, "Do you have to see your usual provider?"  No, I don't.  I mean, I like my doctor, but I'm willing to go to someone else.  So she schedules me for 7:40 (oh god) a.m. on Thursday with some guy I've never seen.

I am a price sensitive and informed consumer of health care.  And at every turn, the system is trying, desperately, to shunt me into a high cost alternative, for no good reason.  Additionally, I already know that there is no point in asking what any of this will cost.  The provider has no idea what my insurance will cover.  The insurance company typically will not answer these questions.  Moreover, once I surrender myself to the professionals, they will run whatever tests they think wise, and I will have almost no say over them.  I will certainly not be given enough information about the test, the cost, the possible results, and the potential treatment to make an informed decision about whether or not the test is a cost-effective choice.  I have less control over my own health care, and less information, than I have about my cat's health, where they will cheerfully lay out exactly what the tests cost, what they might reveal, what the treatment path would be based on various scenarios, etc.  The other thing I have very little control over is my insurance.  I get insurance through work, and it is both expensive and not very good.  I have a $3500 deductible, and the things it covers at only 80% (after deductible) is long and irritating.  Nor can I, as an individual, shop around for a better deal. 

Health Care is not a consumer good.  A consumer good responds to market forces if the consumer is informed, if there is information available, if there are alternatives, and if the primary driving force behind the consumption is rational rather than emotional.  Most importantly, the consumer needs to have some control.  None of this is true about health care. 


 


james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll



The Order of Truth's Aeon Priests have resurrected our May 2014 Numenera Bundle, featuring the tabletop science-fantasy roleplaying game Numenera from Monte Cook Games. A billion years in the future, explore the Ninth World to find leftover artifacts of nanotechnology, the datasphere, bio-engineered creatures, and myriad strange devices that defy understanding. The inspiration for the recent Torment: Tides of Numenera computer game from inXile Entertainment, Numenera is about discovering the wonders of eight previous worlds to improve the present and build a future.



Bundle the first and bundle the second
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

By now, I imagine most of my fellow geeks are aware that when Peter Capaldi leaves Doctor Who in the coming Christmas special, he’ll be replaced by Jodie Whittaker. Naturally, not everyone was happy about the next Doctor being…gasp…a woman.

As the conversation progressed, I started to see more people suggesting the backlash wasn’t a thing. All they were seeing was people complaining about the backlash, as opposed to anyone actually being unhappy about a woman playing the Doctor. The whole thing was people getting angry over nothing, and feeding on each other’s anger.

Now Steven Moffat himself has joined in to proclaim, “There has been so many press articles about a backlash among the Doctor Who fandom about casting a female Doctor. There has been no backlash at all. The story of the moment is that the notionally conservative Doctor Who fandom has utterly embraced that change completely.”

Oddly, most of the people I’ve seen saying the backlash is imaginary, made-up, and/or blown completely out of proportion, have been men. Perhaps — and I’m just guessing here — because it’s easier for men to overlook sexism? Misogyny doesn’t directly affect us, so we’re less likely to notice it?

It’s like white people denying racism, straight people denying the hatred and intolerance of homosexuality, and so on. Just because we don’t see it — perhaps because we choose not to look, or perhaps because we’ve never learned to look — doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

For all those who share Moffat’s confusion, here are just a few examples of the ignorant, sexist, hateful, and sometimes flat-out batshit responses to Whittaker taking over as the Doctor.

#

“The replacement of male with female is meant to erase femininity. In point of fact, and no matter what anyone thinks or wishes, readers and viewers have a different emotional relationship to female characters as male. This does not mean, obviously, that females cannot be protagonists or cannot be leaders. It means mothers cannot be fathers and queens cannot be kings.

“…I have been a fan of Dr Who since age seven, when Tom Baker was the Doctor. I have tolerated years of public service announcements in favor of sexual deviance that pepper the show. But this is too much to tolerate.

“The BBC has finally done what The Master, the Daleks and the Cybermen have failed to do. They killed off the Doctor.”

John C. Wright (you may remember him from his freak-out over Korra and Asami.)

#

Over on Twitter, @TechnicallyRon took comments from angry Doctor Who “fans” and turned them into title cards.

Lisa Crowther also screenshotted some comments from angry Daily Mail readers.

#

Twitter also has plenty of comments like this fellow’s woeful lament, “And again the PC brigade get their way. R.I.P Doctor Who” (Source)

#

Joe Scaramanga’s response to this sexist twit was a thing of beauty.

#

British tabloid and shit-filled dumpster fire The Sun responded to the announcement by publishing nude photos of Judie Whittaker.

#

Caitlynn Fairbarns has rounded up a ton of the negative comments and reactions.

#

But remember everyone, it’s not about sexism!

“It’s a woman. That’s it, Doctor Who is ruined. Like I said, I’m not sexist, I just don’t think it’s a good idea.” –Mark S.W.

#

Now, folks might argue that the majority of Doctor Who fans are excited about the Doctor being a woman. (Though there’s a very real and valid frustration that we’re on our fourteenth doctor and the character has still been exclusively white.) Others will say some of the negative comments are coming from trolls just looking to get a reaction, or that of course Daily Mail readers are being horrid about Whittaker’s casting.

You might be right. That doesn’t change the fact that the negativity exists. It’s not one or two isolated assholes. It’s a real and significant thing, and it’s closely tied to the kind of harassment and disdain and hatred and other forms of sexism women deal with every day. Sexism that men so often don’t see. Sexism we respond to by telling women they’re overreacting, or they’re just imagining things, or that if they’d just stop talking about it the problem would somehow magically go away.

I get it. You’re tired of hearing people complain about sexism. Gosh, can you imagine how tiring it must be when you’re constantly on the receiving end of that sexism. Constantly being told you shouldn’t be allowed to play the same kinds of roles. Constantly being told your only worth comes from your body. Constantly being told your inclusion is some kind of public service announcement. Constantly having your accomplishments belittled as “PC pandering.”

Look, I wish we didn’t have folks like Wright rolling around with his head up his ass every time his Straight White Manliness feels threatened by a cartoon or a TV show or whatever else he’s scared of this week, but we do. Pretending otherwise not only turns a blind eye to the pervasiveness of sexism and other forms of bigotry, it also means turning your back on those who are directly targeted by that intolerance every day.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

NIF: eps 15-16 Lanterns and Swords

Jul. 25th, 2017 08:57 am
sartorias: Mei Changs (MC)
[personal profile] sartorias
These are transitional scenes in that they flash to the past but are building toward a coming confrontation. But on repeated viewings, we can see deep groundwork being laid for even bigger stakes.

And oh, the emotional moments are riveting.
Read more... )

Music I Dislike

Jul. 25th, 2017 08:59 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I was thinking this morning about the very few music groups I don't like, and why I don't like them. This was prompted by a song coming on the radio and me turning it off.

1. Steely Dan. I know, I know, Bard College. But the main singer's voice irritates the crap out of me. It's so...whiny. It feels like it is scraping every nerve. The twangy stuff in the background exacerbates the effect.

2. Elvis Costello. His voice is so-so to me, but also, an ex-boyfriend loved his stuff.

3. Florence and the Machine. I should like this band, but all their songs sound too similar to me, and there's not enough change within the songs, either with the style or within the singer's voice. Maybe if it was more Metal? Because I am okay with the repetitive nature of a lot of Metal, and Industrial. Regardless, the singer's voice always sounds a bit strained to me as well, so I guess there's subconscious discomfort with that.

4. Frank Sinatra. I have never liked his voice. I have no idea why. He gives me the creeps like knowing some man is following you down a dark street.

5. Kenny G. No, no, no. *cries*

What about ya'll?
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
[personal profile] sovay
There is now a Blu-Ray of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953). And it's region-free.

Well, I'm delighted.

(I have to thank Cine Outsider for the tip-off; I had no idea until I was scrolling down as I do about every month or so and then what? I still have dreams of seeing an actual print someday. The film was shot in Technicolor. It may have been chopped to pieces by Columbia, but what's left should still look good. Besides, I have always had the sneaking suspicion that even the most faithful digital transfer cannot properly reproduce the full effect of Dr. Terwilliker's hat.)

"You get nothing!"

Jul. 25th, 2017 02:26 am
rosefox: A cartoon figure slipping toward a gaping hole in the paper. (slipping)
[personal profile] rosefox
I'm having one of those "parenting is so hard, when does it stop being hard, oh right, never" days.

I was watching Kit play on their own and glumly thinking that happy Kit is independent and only wants parents when they're sad. Then they toddled over and handed me a stuffed fox, just because. So I know that what I'm feeling is just a feeling and has very little to do with reality. But it's still a big feeling.

Relatedly, having a tantruming toddler scream directly into your ear for several minutes is really quite challenging.

"Kit is so chill," I thought, once upon a time. "Maybe they won't really get toddler tantrums." I was so wrong. Soooo wrong. Tantrums aren't about personality. They're about cognitive and emotional overload. A scream into the void.

(My right ear is the void, apparently.)

(But was I going to stop cuddling my screaming child? Of course not. My ear can cope.)

And now I feel like the worst parent in the world because I couldn't really help my kid, even when they were bottomlessly miserable. There is no cure for the tantrum because it's an existential crisis. You just hold on and say "I'm here" like it means anything. And eventually they stop crying long enough for you to get some calories into them, which almost always helps. It turns out that kids are always basically one minute away from a massive hunger crash, and that rather exacerbates the existential angst.

You could not pay me enough to be a child again. No way. It's genuinely a wonder that kids are ever happy at all. Their bodies do weird things, the world is baffling, everything is too big, they have no control, safety is elusive and fleeting. It's like a fucking horror movie, 24/7. And yet my child comes over and smiles at me and puts their head on my knee for sheer love.

I guess maybe they wanted to say "I'm here" like it means anything.

I guess maybe it does.

Walked to the library

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:15 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Saw a squirrel hop into the back of a pickup truck and wait, giving every impression it was waiting impatiently for something. Does it know trucks move? Is that how it got to the library?

Two questions

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:55 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I wonder how long it will take the shadowy figures behind the Dragon Awards to count the votes?

I wonder to what degree the award has been gamed by the puppies?
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
[personal profile] sovay
So I had a completely miserable night with a lot of pain and zero sleep and only managed to nap for a couple of hours in the afternoon and woke up to grey rain and some potential medical news I'm going to want a serious double-check on, but as I made my intermittent rounds of other people's Tumblrs I saw that [personal profile] selkie had just tagged me for a gifset of twenty-year-old Jeremy Brett as some kind of uncredited beautiful student in Noel Langley's Svengali (1954) and that does help, thank you.

a little red flag

Jul. 24th, 2017 02:08 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

I know a lot of writers. Really a lot. Really really. And we all have different process, and that’s great, that’s wonderful. In person I have been known to chirp “we are all a beautiful rainbow,” but it’s really hard to get my total lack of sarcasm on that point through on the internet. (We are, though! We are all a beautiful rainbow! Yay!) In this case, I have spotted what looks like a consistent red flag for burnout, and I’m having a hard time phrasing it so that it’s clear that I don’t mean to exclude some kinds of inspiration.

Here’s the red flag. Writers with a few novels or a ton of short stories under their belt who get into a place where they only want to talk about being sick of tropes and wanting to deconstruct them. I know that deconstruction is a major creative inspiration in some writers’ processes (all a beautiful rainbow!). But the larger percentage of conversation about other people’s work gets to be about deconstruction and frustration, the more I watch for other signs of burnout.

Because–squee is not just good publicity. Squee is important for your own work. If you’re not honestly feeling like squeeing about other work you’re encountering, that’s a bad sign. And it’s probably not a bad sign about what’s out there in the world, because there is a lot of stuff out there in the world. If none of it is pressing your buttons, really none? that’s a bad sign about your buttons and where you are in terms of energy levels, taking criticism, getting enough recharge, all those things.

This is not a red flag of you being (or a friend being!) a bad person, or a worthless artist, or someone who will never recover, or anything like that. I’ve seen many people come out of this kind of burnout. But just as it’s easier to talk about how to begin a story than how to deal with the middle and ending that grow out of it, it’s a lot easier to talk about early-career things than all the paths that can grow out of them. And yet it feels to me like there are a lot of mid-career/developing writer paths and pitfalls that it would be really useful to talk about more, so…I’m going to try to do some of that, and I appreciate the other people who are doing that too.

(One of my favorite roads out of this is to cast my net very, very wide and look at things that are way outside my usual so that badly handled tropes and obvious choices are less grating. But other solutions for jolting out of this kind of deconstruction/negativity trap welcome.)

Three Hines Books On Sale!

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:56 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

I checked Amazon today and was surprised to see that three of my books are on sale in electronic format. Barnes and Noble doesn’t appear to have price-matched the sale yet (they have now!), and I don’t know if this is limited to North America, but here’s what I do know:

Libriomancer is on sale for $1.99.

Goblin Quest is on sale for $2.99.

The Stepsister Scheme is on sale for $2.99.

That’s book one of all three of my fantasy series. If you’ve been waiting to check out my stuff, this is the perfect time.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Please explain

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:39 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The logic of requiring pedestrians to press a button for the pedestrian crosswalk sign to change, rather than just linking it to the traffic lights.

I had a weekend!

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:32 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
Saturday was very hot and humid. I did laundry, stumbled home, then stumbled out again to run errands. I ran into a friend (Tom Purdom) in front of a coffee shop so we went inside and got iced drinks and talked about Dunkirk as one does, since we were both planning to see the movie.

I got cash and bought subway tokens and sweated a lot.

Then I met up with C. in late afternoon for the movie Dunkirk, which we saw in IMAX, bass and the sounds of explosions booming from under out seats. I ate popcorn for lunch while watching people get blown up and drown and burn but also get rescued. Sometimes all of the above, in different orders.

This movie was what I call a Spectacle. I liked it best when it was all stark visuals and no dialogue (the dialogue was minimal). The splendid British actors did a great deal with their faces and posture; Tom Hardy as a Spitfire pilot acted almost entirely with his eyes, as the rest of his face was covered in helmet. (Jack Lowden, playing another pilot, was out of his cockpit for more screntime.) The movie was documentary-style, where you don't know the characters' backstory or hopes or dreams (with one exception); you're in the moment throughout, and the moment keeps jumping around, and you can't always keep track of the sequence. I feel I had an experience worth having.

After, being much luckier than those poor people trapped at Dunkirk, we had dinner at a great new tapas place in South Philly called Barcelona. Cue Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe!

sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
[personal profile] sovay
I do not think after all that I have read Nicholas Stuart Gray's The Apple-Stone (1965); I think I have just read a lot of E. Nesbit, Mary Norton, and Edward Eager, all of whom are obviously in the DNA of a novel about five children—the English narrator and his two sisters plus their Scottish cousins who are known collectively as "the Clans"—who find a strange, ancient, sentient power that brings magic into their lives for about a week and then moves on, leaving mostly memories and just a few things changed for good.

"One touch from me animates the inanimate," boasts the Apple-Stone, the "small, bright, golden ball, about the size of a marble" that assisted in the birth of the universe and gave rise to the myth of the Golden Apples of the Sun; the children find it on the highest bough in the orchard, like a Sappho fragment come to life, and they make enlightening, foolish, dangerous, and kind use of it over the next twelve chapters until it returns to the earth to sleep and restore its power and find another apple tree to bloom from, decades or centuries hence. Most of their adventures have a comic slant, as when they animate the decrepit hearthrug to settle a bet over what kind of animal it came from and never find out because they spend the day having confused their "Lambie" with an actual escaped leopard prowling the moors, or have to play detectives for a lost glove weeping bitterly over being separated from its beloved right hand ("I'm deeply attached to it. I love it"), or create an intelligent, talkative, opera-loving sheep about twice the size of a Great Dane for reasons that make sense at the time. Sometimes the comedy turns spooky, as when they accidentally animate a feather boa and get Quetzalcoatl, who not unreasonably expects a sacrifice for incarnating when called, or an episode with a formerly model rocket triggers an international incident and science fiction, or the narrator discovers an unexpected and unwanted affinity for night flight on a witch's broom. An interlude with an effigy of a Crusader constitutes the kind of history lesson that would fit right into Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill (1906), as some of the children have their romantic illusions punctured and some come away with an interest in astrology and medicinal plants. And the two weirdest, most numinous chapters are the reason I can't be one hundred percent sure that I didn't read this book a long, long time ago: the life and death of the Bonfire Night guy that is partly the sad, passionate ghost of Guy Fawkes and partly a pyromaniac patchwork of the five children whose castoffs and imagination gave it form (as it explains in one of its more lucid moments, "Everyone is a mixture, you know, and I'm more so than most") and the introduction of new magic when the weeping gargoyle off a nearby church turns out to be the stone-trapped form of a medieval demon named "Little Tom," a wild, ragged, not quite human child in tricksterish and forlorn search of a witch to be familiar to. Both of them gave me the same half-echo as Eleanor Farjeon's The Silver Curlew (1953), again without any of the language coming back to me. I might run it by my mother to see if she remembers bringing it home when I was small. On the other hand, it might just be that I know [personal profile] ashlyme and [personal profile] nineweaving.

The Apple-Stone is the second book I've read by Gray and The Seventh Swan (1962) almost doesn't count, since I know I read it in elementary school and all I can remember is that it upset me more than the original fairy tale, which I suspect means I should re-read it. I like this one a lot, non-magical parts included. We learn early on that the parents of the English family are the puppeteers behind the popular TV show Ben and Bet Bun and absolutely none of their children think once of bringing the Buns or the Foxies to life because they find the whole thing desperately embarrassing. (The Clans' parents are rocket scientists and the narrator envies them deeply. "We're fond of our Mum and Dad, and hope they may grow out of it in time.") The children as a group are a believable, likeable mix of traits and alliances, differentiated well beyond obvious tags like Jo's academic crazes or Nigel's artistic talent or Douglas' belligerence or Jemima's imperiousness or Jeremy's daydreaming. They fight almost constantly with one another—the Clans especially, being composed of one Campbell and one Macdonald, are engaged in the kind of dramatic ongoing feud that is half performance art and half really blowing off steam—but close ranks immediately against outsiders, even supernatural ones:

"But I must tell you straight, gentles, that I can't do much of the true Black Art," said the gargoyle. "I'm not one of the great ones. I was never aught but a very little 'un. Horrid tricks I can manage," it added, boastfully, "like makin' folks squint, or muddling their minds, or twisting their tongues so that they stammers and stutters—"

"I c-can do that without your help!" snapped Nigel, going red.

"And I'm muddleheaded enough for everyone," I said, quickly.

"No, you're not!" said Jo, fiercely. "And Nigel only stutters when he's away from his home." Then she turned on the gargoyle. "You'll do no horrid tricks, do you hear? We're not sorcerers. We brought you here to help you."

The creature was still changing during all of this . . . Its hair was long and black, and tangled. Its ears were still pointed, though not as huge and batlike as before. It gave us a scornful grin, and said, "Many sorcerers don't care to admit to it."


If you have not read this novel, you can probably tell by now if you're going to like it. The Nesbit it reminds me of most is The Enchanted Castle (1907), but it feels like itself and it feels like its own time, which is equally important. I am actively sad that the near-fine UK first edition I saw at Readercon cost sticker shock—the library copy I just finished reading is the American first edition and the illustrations really didn't work for me. (I'm sorry, Charles Keeping! Your work for Alan Garner, Mollie Hunter, and Rosemary Sutcliff was great!) Maybe sometime I'll get lucky at the Strand. In any case, the text is what matters most and that I recommend. It is good at the strangeness of things that are not human and it never risks making even the cute ones twee. It's good at children's priorities and the ways that not being an adult doesn't mean not seeing the world. I didn't quote much of a descriptive passage, but I like its language. Anyone with other favorite novels by Nicholas Stuart Gray, please let me know.

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