Yesterday I was down in Tucson for an RWA meeting. It was a great meeting: after the report on National, we had a panel of men in dangerous jobs--a pilot, a border patrolman, and a motorcycle cop. It was all very fascinating. They spoke candidly about their job and the risks, and the members had great questions to ask. I knew very little about the Border Patrol despite seeing their SUVs all over the place, so it was a real education hearing about what they do and how. It actually gave me an interesting idea for a story that I don't have the time to write.
But the craziest part of yesterday's trip was trying to get back home. We're in the middle of monsoon season here in the desert. In Casa Grande, that doesn't mean too much beyond lots of wind and dust and late night storms. But in Tucson, that means streets become rivers. I had forgotten. Nothing like taking a right and discovering that a paddle would be more beneficial than an engine. I spent a good hour weaving my way through Tucson, trying to find the driest route to the interstate (and given that ten of the on-ramps nearest where I was are closed due to construction, this was a very tricky proposition). Luckily, my familiarity with the town hasn't gone away, so I was never lost. But every Tusconan knows which streets to avoid during a monsoon, and I had clearly lost that knowledge in the past seven years.
Also this week I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was a satisfying conclusion. Except for the epilogue. For the best explanation as to why I didn't like the epilogue, I'll refer you to Abigail Nussbaum because I couldn't put my finger on it until I read this from her:
The impression conveyed by the epilogue, however, is of the kind of quaint conservatism that the novels had previously militated against--family and tradition and community triumphant, with nothing ugly beneath the surface. What Harry, Ron and Hermione have accomplished, in other words, is to bring modern notions of equality and justice to the wizarding world without subjecting it to any of the social effects of modernism, chiefly the collapse of traditional institutions and worldviews. That's not just neat. It's dishonest, and disappointing given that the series had seemed to recognize how problematic those institutions were even as it glorified them.
My only other gripe with the story was the manufactured sense of urgency that so many quest stories suffer. It wasn't the worst offender I've seen, but it had its moments. Chief among them was when Harry was deciding on a course of action and his choice depending on which of two people he was going to talk to first. Time seemed to be of the essence as he made his choice and talked to one person instead of the other, but really the only urgent matter was for the reader to learn certain pieces of information before learning what Voldemort was up to at that particular moment. I know this is the case because, having made the choice before talking to either of them, he no longer had to worry about time and proved that by taking a month to plan his next move after speaking with both people and confirming what Voldemort was up to. Really, there was no reason that the book should've spanned a year's worth of time other than that this setup was ingrained from the rest of the series.
As for other goings on, I did unsnarl the plot issue I mentioned above. I need to do a bit more research before I can finish the backstory, but I've got enough to write at least the frist two chapters, so I'm pressing on with draft. I expect I'll have another process examination post on Tuesday.
Have you had your inner conspiracy theorist shut down yet today? If not, read this by John Scalzi. While I was at first surprised that there are actually sane, intelligent folk chatting up the possibility of a Bush-led coup to make him Emperor of the United States, I found myself falling in love with the idea from a writer's perspective. How would something like that go over in a first world country with computers and TVs in every home and guns in nearly as many? Would any governtment that has just wrestled the constitution to the ground have enough resources to stop every Jane Doe with a blog? Could they monitor all IMs and cell phone conversations? Revolution would not only be easy to foment in that fictional set of circumstances, but it'd likely be comical because there would be so many revolutions all around the country--many of them with diametrically opposed goals. Talk about anarchy. Excuse me while I jot some notes for yet another dystopic novel.