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[personal profile] commodorified
ObDisclaimer: I was one of the proofreaders of this book. I do not, however, benefit in any way from its sale, except by acquiring more people with whom I can discuss the ideas in it.

This is a compendium of speeches, essays, introductions, afterwords, blog posts, and travelogues, spanning a thirty-year period, covering a wide range of topics, and seriously, I can't remember the last time I had so much sheer fun proofreading anything – probably the last time I proofed a Bujold novel, actually. My query emails back to Lois[1] contained large amounts of unprofessional squee and at least one episode of actual incoherent keyboard mashing.

Because this is one of the smartest books of essays I've read in a very long time. It's funny and thoughtful, it's observant, it's passionate and compassionate ... there's stuff in here I'm going to be going back to and chewing over for a good long time.

Being fairly bad at reviews qua reviews, I will now attempt to sell you a copy of this book by dint of quoting a small cross-section of teasers taken from some of the bits that particularly delighted me, enough so to make me need to stop work and past things to my wife so that we could squee over them together. There were a lot of those: I have restricted myself severely here, to short bits that strike me as being able to stand alone without entirely losing their power.

In Sidelines, Bujold talks about writing, of course, the craft and the business and the travel (I really, really want to go to Croatia now) and the occasional surreality (I can't quote any part of Editorial Dining; it's a piece that has to be read as a whole, but dear God, it is funny) of writing SF and F for a living, but also about reading:

for me, this sheaf of inked paper with the gaudy cover glued to the spine is not the book. The book is not an object on the table; it is an event in the reader’s mind. ...[t]he words on the page are merely the means to that end, a think-by-numbers set, a bottled daydream.

and readers:

Some people have far too much life already, and need to get away from it for a few hours ... I like to think of "Ms. Average Reader" as a children's cancer hospice nurse, home from a particularly bad day at work.

wars in the fictional future:

If geography is the mother of strategy, surely technology is its father


I expected to learn a lot about romance through writing one, and I did. I was more surprised to learn something new to me about fantasy and science fiction—which is how profoundly, intensely, relentlessly political most of the stories in these genres are ... I had not noticed this the way a fish does not notice water.

and gender:

action-adventure, for a woman [character] with children in tow ... is not fun. In fact, it is a fair approximation of hell.

As of now it's available, for the quite reasonable sum of $6.99 USD, on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. It will be available on iTunes shortly.

[1] "Lois" being a person I sometimes write to, whereas "Bujold" is an author I sometimes write about.
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