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Wherever I lay my cat, that's my home. Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "fjm" journal:

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July 4th, 2014
09:22 am
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Karen Traviss, Going Grey.
For her return to creator copyright fiction Karen Traviss has decided to self publish. As she has lots of fans, and is a big name in areas of the field I suspect this will work very well for her. At the moment the book is available as a Kindle but I gather Audible has picked it up as well.

Going Grey, if I were to go all academic on you, is a futuristic crime/thriller rather than an sf novel, in that it starts in the wrong part of the story for sf, which is why I’ll look particularly forward to Book 2. In this one we discover that someone has created genes for morphing: some of the protagonists know that the genes are expressed in the body of an actual live young man, while the investigators think it’s a cluster of DNA which might be extractable. The race is on as to who can get to the young Ian Dunlop first, and once he is extracted, how well his new protectors can protect him.

The thing is, none of that is really what the book is about, and once I realised that I enjoyed it a great deal: all the reveals are early on, and the outcome is never in doubt because Ian falls in with super rich Mike and super tough Rob (of whom more in a minute) and no one is taking them down, so there is no point at all in reading the book for some kind of great twist.

What the book is really about, is mateship: from the very beginning, when Rob (a marine) saves the life of Mike (a security contractor) on the battlefield the emphasis is on the cultivation and growth of friendships and within that twin tracks of patronage—how it works and why it should be accepted—and honour or, as it is often expressed, how to be a real man.

I’m not going to disguise that Karen’s politics are not mine, but then the world she describes is not mine either. When Rob saves Mike’s life he is plucked from his hard, working class existence in which he struggles to save enough to put his kid through college in the UK and whisked off to the unimagined luxury of the life of a son of a senator. But Traviss is not telling a rags to riches story and she doesn’t gloss over the strain it puts on a relationship to be Buttons to Prince Charming: she explores the situation and allows for the tensions. Similarly when she introduces us to Mike’s wife Liv, we learn just how frustrating it can be to be the stay at home wife when one is an educated woman with ideas of her own and how difficult it can be to break free when the world around you has nailed you down. Then there is Ian. Ian Dunlop has been brought up off the grid by a woman he thinks of as his grandmother and told constantly to emulate his great grandfather who was a “real man”, a soldier, and a man of honour. Isolated from everyone, Ian is as impressionable as a day old chick and he impresses firmly on Rob and Mike, so the book too is about his growing up, how he thinks about the people around him and his own desires—which mainly boil down to controlling his morphing to the point that he can get Birds, Beer and a BMW, or to translate, can stay looking the same for long enough for a girl to go out with him, to get an ID card and a driving liscense. It’s all pretty realistic for a decently smart but rather average teen boy. The book is surprisingly internal, there is a lot of self analysis on the part of many of the characters. This, combined with the emphasis on friendship as the real story, means that the book feels about as unlike science fiction—which, I am sorry my friends, but is mostly rubbish at dealing with the every day of friendship structures—as it’s possible to get, even while it has an sf premise. That Ian comes to control his morphing so that there are none of the consequential ripples that you get from new inventions in sf, confirms my feeling of “not sf”. But there are more books to come and I suspect Karen has some tricks up her sleeve.

Recommended but don't go into it with preconceptions that you know what a Traviss book looks like.

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June 15th, 2014
08:34 am
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A job that might interest some of my friends,
Senior Disability Advisor, Deputy Head of Student Wellbeing
Student Wellbeing Service, Teaching and Learning Centre
London School of Economics and Political Science
http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AIZ196/

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May 10th, 2014
09:53 am
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Made a Difference Awards
The students at my university run a Made a Difference Award. Any student can nominate any member of staff (academic or support). Anyone nominated is invited to a dinner. At the dinner there is a short list, and then final awards.

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May 9th, 2014
09:26 am
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Prop needed
Does anyone have a baby doll they no longer want? Something like a tiny tears?

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May 2nd, 2014
08:35 am
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When will someone invent a proper fuse that doesn't?
We got home last night to find the house fused. I went to bed, E and my Dad looked at it and decided to sort it in the morning. At 5:30am I got up to finish my talk and realised: aargh! No internet, no way to charge my phone to use it to look up things, low power on computer..... whimper.
Have I mentioned I married someone awesome who didn't moan when I demanded he fix it *now* while I tried to get on with my paper in a pre-internet world.
Eventually we got all of the above plus hot bathwater, but it's not been the ideal preparation morning.
Hope to see some familiar faces at the Royal Society at 1pm. I need morale support. (Topic: Science Fiction and the Royal Society).

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April 30th, 2014
01:14 pm
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Mary Stewart's Arthurian Romance: guest lecturer by Dr. Andrey Anisimov, University of Yakutzk
Anglia Ruskin University
Helmore 222
East Road
Cambridge CB1 5PT

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April 28th, 2014
09:59 am
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The inevitable....
So i have today to pull together a conference paper, and since yesterday I have been feeling distinctly "off colour".

The inevitability of this is so boring.

ps. Last year I said I would give no papers this year. Then an offer I couldn't refuse came up see here, but as the reasons I said I would give no papers have not actually changed, this is promising to be a bit fraught.

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April 27th, 2014
05:56 pm
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17:54
And I told myself I could consider stopping at 6.

I have cleared my email.
Made more lists.
Sold more tables (11 to go)
Hunted out and bought everything from crayons through fake ivy, to a cheap wig.
Sent a letter re sponsorship.
Arranged for someone to do lettering for me.
Written a lot of emails that will probably generate responses tomorrow.


Tomorrow I will write a paper for Friday, but for now, I am done.

If anyone fancies a role as a credit controller drop me a note. I have about 50 people to chase for money.


ps.and those of you who sent me a word to an earlier post--you are all so sweet and I love you. Nothing like a little reassurance.

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04:58 pm
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Needed asap
Three black shirts with collars and cuffs (men's preferred).
Two pairs of black jeans (men's preferred).

These are for cutting up.

If you have things you can donate, the address is 13 Linden Road, London N15 3QB and I'll pay postage in drinks at our next meeting.

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07:49 am
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Today
Today is a Worldcon day. There are 100 emails to answer, and files to check. It's the end of April so in particular today is the day I audit the table sales file and send out final notices.

Wish me luck.

Dinner happens when I am finished.


For those outside conrunning, this is what *I* think of when I think of SMOFs. Not all those silly conversations on the SMOFcon list,* but the day to day admin that so many of us do so that on a particular day in a particular month in a particular year, there will be an event for many people to enjoy.



*Which is an open list that anyone can join, and anyone does.

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