The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

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  1. I’ve asked this question in another forum, but I suppose there might be some interesting responses here:

    If Hillary Clinton were trapped in a fire, and all of her synthetic skin were to burn away, which is most likely to be revealed? A metallic skeleton like the Terminator has, or reptilian scales a la the TV miniseries V?

    I’m guessing scales.

  2. Steve, no.

    Jason, I don’t think you see the metallic skeleton until the scales burn away.

  3. As she burns away, does she say ‘Ah’ll be bahk… in four more years!” ?

  4. Open thread eh? Well I want to know why the Democratic party decided to destroy its chances by running a woman and a black guy. Either alone could have beaten the supline Republican rump but together they have morphed into a loosing suck fest. I really wanted to see the conservative Christian faction kicked in the teeth and at least an illusion of citizen oversight, but no it won’t happen. Now I have to hope Mcain doesn’t die in office leaving the job to whatever nutjob, picked to molify the conservative wing, we end up having for a vice president.

  5. charlie: because the last rich white guy they ran did so well, right?

    Forget this political crap, and look at something pretty instead: sand under magnification

  6. corwin

    Charlie @ 4: I think the best answer to that question I’ve found is here: http://wsws.org/articles/2008/feb2008/prim-f28.shtml

  7. will @ 2:
    That makes perfect sense.

  8. Free-for-all, yeah? Okay.

    I pass a largish cemetery, 3/4 blocks from where I live, twice daily (at least). Last Sunday, while stuck at a traffic light, this came to me. Still working on scansion, and wondering whether there’s more but…

    Don’t wanna be like Lenin,
    Saintly power ain’t mine,
    Don’t wanna get reduced to ash,
    Just rot in a box of pine.

    Thanks for the chance to exorcise that.

  9. I have a handful of questions pointed toward Mr. Brust, stuff he might have stated before, but since I am new, I might have missed.

    1. Do you have any nicknames?

    2.Want one?

    3. How about variations of you first name, such as Steve, Steve-o, Esteban, Stevie-boy, and the like?

    (onto more serious matters)

    4. How do you feel about the cover art your books have been given over the years? I don’t know how it works, but I’ve always got the impression that the company buying your book picks what is going on the cover not the author, so I imagine this would make you feel SOMETHING.

    5. Kit mentions on his site that you are his “punalua”, try as I might I can’t find that in an English dictionary, could you explain please?

    6. Have you ever written a book that you tried to get published to no avail?

  10. Okay, now I’m ranting:

    I teach at a community college in Oklahoma. (Insert your joke here). For the most part, the students are more motivated and more self-actuated than the kids I’ve taught at four-year schools, but there are exceptions. Like yesterday.

    Me: I can’t give you a grade on this because it’s plagiarized.

    Student: No it’s not.

    Me: It’s copied word-for-word from this book.

    Student: That’s true.

    Me: And that means it’s not your work. Just like this other essay you turned in. It’s a blatant cut-and-paste job.

    Student: I didn’t cut-and-paste it. I retyped it out of the book.

    Student’s stream of excuses didn’t surprise me. It was the total disconnect from ethics that made me want to cry. Student isn’t alone. They all want to claim exception from the rules.

    Bleargh!

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  11. corwin

    Goat @ 9: In various Las Vegas poker rooms and at certain home games I’m known as “Pirate.” I can live with that. I love the covers I’ve gotten, with one or two exceptions. I don’t know any writer who has had better cover luck than I have. “Punalua” (literally, “intimate companion, friend”) refers to a man with whom one shares a wife. In this case, the term “wife” is a bit of an exaggeration, but the meaning is pretty close. And for your last question, ask again in a few months. I have a collaborative murder mystery out now, and we’ll see if it gets picked up.

  12. To add, punalua is originally Hawaiian, from the days before the missionaries came and made them conform.

    The Firefly novel is also an example of a book which didn’t get picked up, but of course we’ve published it here.

  13. Jason @10

    Oh, do I know that.

    What do you teach? The best way I know of to avoid getting entirely plagiarized works is just to go with off the wall questions that make me think, but in empirically-driven disciplines that doesn’t work so well.

    With the damn web, it’s gotten worse. Used to be kids plagiarized good stuff, whereas now you’re as likely to see something not only plagiarized but poorly written and demonstrably false.

    Can’t you kick people outta school for that?

  14. corwin

    Will @ 2: Okay, done. It’s all one thing. I mean, it’s all your fault.

  15. Steve

    Since I gafiated about 14 years ago my genre fiction of choice has been mystery/police procedural. I had been hoping you would write a mystery. Emma Bull and Charles DeLint are two others I would like to see write mysteries.

    I currently am a huge fan of Ian Rankin and Micheal Connelly.

    Good luck getting your collaboration picked up.

  16. Kit, did Steve actually try to get the Firefly book published? I assumed he’d just written it for fun.

    I loved that show and Steven has been my favorite author for about 12 years, add to that the fact that I love free stuff and you can imagine my excitement when I found out about that book.

    As to the punalua thing, I’d thought it might be something like that, the one website I found talked about Hawaii and stuff about a line of brothers marrying a line of sisters, it was very confusing. Thanks for clarifying.

  17. JP @13:
    I teach Comp (and Logic and a few other courses), so the plagiarism is drawn from a broad body of words. This kid was cribbing entire chapters from a really strange sect of Christianity. The kind that’s more Buddhist than Christian, but nobody knows it but the charlatan in charge.

    Disclaimer: I’m a Buddhist atheist, so my perception could be skewed.

  18. I almost hate to comment, would be good to leave it at a nice round 17, but….

    Don @ 15, you said you liked police procedurals – is it not fair to say The Gypsy (Steve with Megan Lindholm) is faerie tale and police procedural packed together into a hash pipe and inhaled deeply?

  19. Oh! I have a question, though I dunno if this is the place to ask: What’s the deal with Max Schachtman? I’m beginning to think he single-handedly destroyed socialism in the US. True? (Uh, in the broad strokes.) If yes, was he crazy, a stooge, or both? It’s as if history goes straight from viable US socialism to Max Schachtman to the neocons.

    Okay, maybe Schachtman came up with a very slow way to destroy US capitalism, but I do not like this path.

  20. corwin

    Will @ 19: I don’t think he was a stooge, just a representative of the petty bourgeoisie within the workers movement. And he didn’t destroy it, though he did set it back significantly.

  21. Thanks for putting this up.

    I recently saw that video that they made out of the Obama speech. Which while I may not really be an Obama fan, I found the speech to be incredibly moving.

    More moving than anything I’ve heard in the last say… 20 years in politics.

    Not the song, but the speech itself.

    But I’ve seen the things people said about it, how many consider it trite, fake, wrong to give people hope, etc. And it seems especially rampant on the web.

    My question I guess… is do you think that if say MLK Jr gave his ‘I have a dream’ speech in this day and age, do you think it would be met with the same cynical negativity that the Obama speech was met with? I’m not trying to compare Obama to King in the slightest, so no one go there. But it kinda makes me sad that many people have given up the ability to simply trust and be moved by words.

    It’s not a very well posed question I guess, I’m not really sure how to pose it. But I hope the general jist is there.

  22. Charlie:
    “Open thread eh? Well I want to know why the Democratic party decided to destroy its chances by running a woman and a black guy.”

    Maybe because they thought those were the best candidates?

  23. GWW, MLK walked the walk. And when he talked the talk, his talk was far to the left of Obama’s. I do want Obama, given the choices, but I’m prepared for him to pull an LBJ on us.

  24. Goat@16: Yes. The novel was originally started when Steve heard Joss was accepting proposals for Firefly novels. Rather than write a proposal he just wrote the book, but by the time it was done Joss had changed his mind and said there’d be no novels.

    His agent tried for about a year to get it in front of Joss without success, so we decided to put it up for free.

    Punalua was actually Steve’s discovery during some anthropology research he was doing. It was a neat solution for the ‘what do we call each other?’ question.

  25. corwin

    GWW @ 21: People keep quoting “I have a dream.” But there was more to the speech than that. There was actual substance. He was saying things that many, at that time, disagreed with. In particular, he was saying things that were outrageous to those in power. What, exactly, did Obama say that challenged the power in terms as specific as “We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: ‘For Whites Only.’ Or, “I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of ‘interposition’ and ‘nullification’ — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” In those days, those were not platitudes, they were fighting words, in every sense of the term. Then King, for all his reformist illusions, took a principled stance against the war in Vietnam, saying it should end, not be transformed to a different war because the interests of the oil companies will be better served by an attack 800 miles east instead.

    Just what, specifically, did Obama promise to fight for, other than moving troops from Iraq to Iran?

  26. Mark@18

    It has been a very long time since I read Gypsy. I had to find a review to remember what little I do, which is to say I know I read it but I have now have almost no idea what it is like. We are talking about 15 years ago near the end of my sf&f reading. That having been said, perhaps the residual memory of that book is why I am thinking of Steve as a mystery writer.

    I do like stories with a gritty protaganist, the tarnished/flawed knight errant, when they are well written. I find this character in most series that draw me back. Characters like Rebus (Rankin), Bosch(Connelly) and to a certain extent Dalziel (Reginal Hill). Straying outside of the mystery genre I find myself rereading the Aubrey/Maturin books of Patrick O’Brien about once every two years (the entire series).

    From what I have read of Steve’s writing (not much recently I admit), I think he has the ability to produce mysteries at this level.

  27. corwin

    Don @ 26: Sounds like you probably like Travis McGee as much as I do.

    Oh, and thanks.

  28. It’s not the speeches I’m comparing, like I said. It’s the reactions. And I’m not comparing politics between the two.

    I guess my question really is, which I failed at trying to get across… in the time in which we live with the internet allowing nearly unlimited ability to make opinions heard, mass media nitpicking every detail, and semi-widespread ignorance… will we ever again live in a world where people either can be or let themselves be moved by a speech? Or have we moved beyond that.

    For the record the King speech worked as well as it did in my opinion because he was dealing in specifics. Obama didn’t really have a specific he was targeting in the speech, it was a general outcry for change. Was that good or bad, I’m not sure. Somewhere in the middle perhaps.

    And here’s a bit of levity for us. Because I can.

  29. Pingback: “Yes, We Shall” Music Video - Vote Cobra ‘08 « it’s all one thing

  30. corwin

    Gww @ 29: Yes, I think we’ll again see people moved by a speech. Some by demagogues, some by people with actual solutions. None of the solutions will come out of either of the two parties, however.

    And my point about Obama is that he was trying to sound like he was crying out for change, without actually proposing any changes.

  31. Would you say that a Lyorn’s battle skirt is pleated like a kilt or that it wraps around flat like an monk’s robe?

  32. corwin

    Ojiikun @ 31: Think of the traditional Samurai skirt. Or the contemporary Kendo or Aikido outfit.

  33. skzb@32: Ah-ha, 袴 (はかま(hakama))! I was direly curious how one rides a horse in a ankle-length skirt.

    Now to procure a very, very short sword, and give up all forms of loquacity.

    [disclaimer about 2am posts and rum, &c, &c]

  34. I still read sf & f. Mysteries are ok, but not as interesting to me.

    So like my impulse is to tell Don to hush up.

    Thankfully, I’m fairly certain that neither his post nor mine will influence what Mr. Brust chooses to write.

    Much that is.

    p.s. dear don 😛

  35. DFG @ 34

    Many writers are capable of producing more books than the market (or at least their editors) will accept. By branching into a second genre Steve could, perhaps, provide sufficient writing for two markets and fulfill both our wishes. As you have noted, it will be as Mr. Brust desires.

    😀

  36. Jason @ 17,

    Thanks. I can see how people would be tempted to pull from anywhere for a comp. course. Hard to catch, sometimes, when it’s just ideas and not word-for-word.

    I don’t really get why people who do that are going to college anyway, though. There are easier ways to climb the income ladder than going to college for two or four years (or the coursework equivalent) — many of them quite legal.

  37. JP@36: At least for certain classes and social groups, going to college is what they’re told they are “supposed” to do — by parents, teachers, or society in general.

    Or perhaps its that “I can party while I’m in college, once I’m out I have to be a responsible adult…” thing and they aren’t there to learn at all.

  38. Kit @ 24: That’s interesting, I’d have introduced him as my girlfriend’s man-stress, but I suppose Punalua is classier. Although, with Punalua you probably have to explain the meaning constantly, with Man-stress it’s self-explanatory.

    skzb @ 11: “Pirate” eh? Perhaps I should work you into the book I am attempting, not just a spin off of Sticks.

    skzb @ 30: I think if a speech moves people again, its unlikely to be made by a politician. MLK for instance, was not running for president, so saying unfavorable things and taking a real stand would have no effect on his nonexistent polls. Politicians are more likely to play it safe, play it down the middle, do whatever they can to avoid alienating as many voters as possible.

    Anyone in general @ No specific number: I have no issue with a woman or a black man in presidency, but someone posed an idea to me that has me convinced I don’t want Obama to become president. Does anyone here really believe that the hate mongers in our country would let a black man be president? I’m convinced he’d be assassinated, which in turn would lead to riots and perhaps worse. The guy I talked to was convinced that the riots would lead to military suppression, leading to martial law, leading to WW3, leading to the apocalypse. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I could see things going sour fast. So unless Obama takes a page from the pope and gets himself a bulletproof glass domed Obama-mobile, I’m afraid I can’t support him.

  39. Goat@38: I dunno… manstress doesn’t really roll off the tongue and is the sort of backformed neologism that makes me queasy.

    Really though, doesn’t the whole ‘mistress/paramour’ type title imply a lesserness? One’s mistress is ones lover on the side. We all live together and are equal in importance in Reesa’s life, so neither of us would be the paramour to the other’s amour.

    No offense, but imagining introducing Steve as my manstress seems crude, and I’ll take answering questions in return for a little smoothness in my vocabulary any day. Besides, I’d love it if others picked up the term and someday we didn’t have to explain, though that’s probably a pipe dream.

  40. Kit @36,

    I hear you, coming from that social class myself. But after a bit of time, if you’re just throwing away the money (usually parental in part) and the time (all yours)….. I still don’t get it.

    Or maybe I do, but I’ll not become reconciled to the notion that the inertial currents can just sweep so many people along all unwilling. In that case, the problem’s mind, I suppose.

  41. Kit @ 39: I was joking Kit, manstress just sounds funny to me, I’m sorry if you took it to heart. Actually, if ever you read something I’ve typed that seems off color to you, reread it with a more humorous tone to it. Again I am sorry if I demeaned the relationship you three share. LOL, offending the Punalua of one of my heroes? Yeah, that’s something I wanted to do.

  42. No offense taken, though I suppose I did take it more seriously than you intended it. I’m very hard to offend though, so no worries.

  43. More power to you. I have enough problems getting along with one other adult human person. It would be nice to have other adults to rely on, but finding another person to both not sweat the small stuff and to tell me what their boundaries are when that is needed???

    And for my part and to those who might ask the sadly unavoidable ‘who does what to whom?’ let me say, I don’t want to know. It’s only my business if someone is getting hurt or isn’t consenting or is unable to consent.

  44. still cracking up about Dennis Miller’s guest that dropped the word “Obamanation”. Good word and he beat Dennis at his own game. Priceless!

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