Monday, October 30, 2023

Spooky Reads for Spooky Season: Halloween 2023!


Spooky Season has been in full swing for almost two full months here in the US. One of the better things my fellow Americans have done in recent decades: turning Halloween into a full two-month-long festival of ghoulish goodness!

I've been watching a lot of spooky movies, from the old school The Wolf Man to The Descent to the entire Pet Sematary cinematic universe (I re-read the novel, which remains better than any of the films, watched both film versions, even got to Pet Sematary 2, which I don't necessarily recommend, and the brand new, Pet Sematary: Bloodlines, which I do recommend). I've also been trying to branch out more internationally with films like Kandisha from France and Kaali Khuhi from India. 

And there's spooky TV, too, most excellently The Fall of the House of Usher (Mike Flanagan's fantastic take on Edgar Allan Poe) and The Changeling (based on a novel by Victor LaValle starring LaKeith Stanfield). I may write up some thoughts about my spooky cinematic adventures later, maybe sometime before my horror and philosophy students present their films on November 16! (stay tuned for details on that)

But for now, here are a few of my spooky reads for spooky season 2023! Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Holly versus COVID and Professors: Holly by Stephen King


Stephen King never (okay, rarely) disappoints, and this Holly Gibney novel, simply titled Holly, is no exception. 

Since I started reading the Holly Gibney stories in a weird order, starting with If It Bleeds and The Outsider without having read the Bill Hodges trilogy, I figured it was fine to pick up King's latest book in the tradition of having had new Stephen King for the last few autumns. I do plan to read the Bill Hodges trilogy soon, but when they came out I was under the impression (which I now realize is mistaken) that King's "crime fiction" would be less interesting than his traditional horror.

There's a lot one could say about this novel, so let me focus on two of its more controversial aspects: being King's first novel in which the pandemic is part of the plot, and being less of a traditional horror story (while nonetheless being firmly in the horror genre in my opinion).

Monday, October 9, 2023

Random Thoughts, Part 22: Dentists, Strikes, Care, Work-Life Balance, and Semis in the Left Lane


My random thoughts series has all led to this: Part 22! It sounds portentous, but it's actually just trivially true. Your whole life has led to you reading this blog post! See?

My random thoughts keep coming. If anything, my thoughts get more random every year. Or is that actually not random at all? If something becomes incrementally more random, is it thereby not random? Maybe let's set the AIs on that one instead of deciding people's economic fates or giving students new ways to cheat.

Anyway, enjoy this crop of random thoughts as well as another non-random fact: the ever-more ridiculous amount of random memes!

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Hugo Ballot 2023: Novels, Novellas, and More!


I made it! I got my Hugo votes submitted by the Sept. 30 deadline! It felt like a compressed Hugo reading season to me. Maybe it was the delay on the front end from the local Worldcon or the fact that my late summer travels and the beginning of the school year ate into my reading time, but I felt a bit rushed this year compared to previous years. I barely finished the novels and only kinda finished the novellas (you can see how I voted on the novelettes and short stories here). I skimmed the Related Works, glanced at some of the art, and went totally from memory for the Dramatic Presentations. But I did manage to vote in most of the categories. I felt especially invested in the semiprozine category this year for reasons revealed below.

How'd it go? I surprised myself with a few picks this year, especially for Best Novel, but I can say I enjoyed reading all the nominees and would be thrilled to see any of them win. Check it out below! You can see how it all turns out during the ceremony on Oct. 21 at the Chengdu Worldcon! Good luck to all the nominees!