Monthly Archives: December 2003

Holiday Makeover

With time off from the day job of nearly two weeks, and various family and holiday events, the days pass at this time of year in an unstructured blur that leaves my usual schedule in tatters. The website is reasonably up to date as of today, but the awards index site still needs tweaking before it can be posted, and I haven’t yet gotten to doing a tally of 2003 books that have appeared on various best-of-year lists, as I did last year.

Despite which, the turning of the calendar invites reconsideration of old patterns and habits. I’m considering revising the Locus Online homepage to be more strictly chronological, pretty much in the manner of Slate, and doing away with the What’s New page, which would then be redundant. I’m continually looking for ways to streamline the production of the website, and this is the next obvious candidate.

As always, comments pro or con are invited, but I so rarely get any kind of feedback to what I do on the website, that I’m not holding my breath for such comments before I make the change. It depends more on when I find time to implement it…

And Razzleberry Dressing

Archive links still do not appear in the right sidebar, though when I republish the entire site, it informs me that such links have been created, thus:


archives/2003_12_01_locusmag_archive.html

archives/2003_11_01_locusmag_archive.html

archives/2003_10_01_locusmag_archive.html

Now let’s publish this post and see if the links work…

They seem to, yes.

Spent a quiet weekend at home working–first updating the reprint books pages on Locus Online (new in paperback, and classic reprints), then compiling data for the update to the Awards Index, all day Sunday–reading, and watching my favorite holiday movie. And shopping. It’s that time of year. Winter is warm.

Cross Link

I discovered today that searches on Amazon (the US site) now turn up UK books. The reverse has been true for some time. Example: searching on “M. John Harrison” leads to a page for the ’02 UK edition of Light.

Consolidation

Spent a couple hours today keying the complete Locus Poll results (from the August issue) into my awards database, to take a big step in updating the Locus Awards Index; most other nominations lists of major awards have already been compiled. You might think it easier to reformat an electronic version of the poll results for import into the awards database, but this isn’t true; it takes longer to reformat and parse fields than it does to simply type everything in fresh. Being a fairly fast accurate typist helps.

Having done the poll, I updated the 2002 Directory to include references to the poll results; see here. There isn’t yet an online listing of the poll itself; that will come with the Awards Index update, in the next week or so.

Eventually I’ll merge the Awards database and my Books database, as I’ve already merged the Locus Reviews database into the Books database. My goal is to never have to type any particular book title more than once, ever. After that, everything is done by tagging existing records and running queries to generate new records, or webpages. It’s fun.

The ships have come to carry you home

I finished compiling the older Locus reviews today, and posted the expanded Index to Reviews in Locus Magazine. Also posted the latest Claude review, and some letters.

Work is mellowing out. My company, as seems to be customary among aerospace firms, closes down entirely between Christmas and New Year’s Day, sometimes with additional days at either end depending on where the holidays fall with respect to weekends. This year we get no extra days; December 24th through January 1st are company-paid holidays, but that leaves 2 days to work next week, and a single day, January 2nd, to report to the work the week after that. With all my vacation days exhausted from the move this past year, and convention trips, I’ll be at work on those days. Still, with so many staff taking those days off, the pace relaxes considerably. Fewer meetings, fewer watchdogs, and thus, how shall I say this, more time to think about other things even while sitting in my Dilbertesque cubicle.

Now I’m worrying about this Blogger-implemented blog, after reading a post on some other site about lost archives. I update this blog, but here at http://locusmag.blogspot.com/ there’s only an archive link for October. Where’s November? What’s going on? Another reason to transition to a more fully-featured blog service. Real soon now.

Databasing

I spent several hours today consolidating databases–matching records of authors/books in my own Books database, to records of reviews in Locus Magazine compiled by Locus Index ubermensch Bill Contento (which he sent me way back in April or May). The idea is to expand the existing index of book reviews in Locus Mag that I’ve compiled since 1997, with all those reviews Bill has compiled back to 1984. Sounds simple enough, but in execution the details create much friction. Many records match; many don’t; many should but don’t, requiring investigation into the precise bylines and the precise titles and subtitles. I’m only able to track down such discrepancies now that all my books are unpacked so that I can verify these essentials! Not quite done, but an updated Book Reviews index, going all the back to 1984, should be posted in the next few days.

Meanwhile, haven’t seen The Return of the King yet, but have been listening to the soundtrack by Howard Shore. There’s a lovely Annie Lennox song at the end (played over the end credits?), which reminds me of another lovely Annie Lennox soundtrack song, the one on the soundtrack album of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, an otherwise not particularly memorable film. But the song has always been one of my favorites, and I pull out the soundtrack album occasionally just to listen to that song.

Open House

This past week I was busy cleaning and organizing the house, which included unpacking the last few boxes of books (that remained since our move 4 months ago), straightening the library annex/magazine room, putting up a Christmas Tree, etc., in preparation for an informal friends-and-family Open House party last weekend, on Saturday evening.

With such schedule pressure, I managed to finish unpacking the last few boxes of books! It’s been years since I’ve had virtually all my books unpacked and shelved for easy accessibility.

Now that that is over, my attention turns to the holiday season in progress, which involves the distractions of shopping and additional social events. Despite which, the website is relatively up to date. Upcoming in the next week should be a Claude L review; listings of new-in-paperback and classics-in-print books; and a compilation of best-of-2003 books. (Jonathan Strahan has kicked off this process in his blog.)

Jennifer Hall drove down here from Oakland to attend the open house (and visit other friends in the LA area), which I mention because she took some photos, one of which might actually turn up in Locus Magazine in the next month or two. And as always, I plan to return to regular updates of his blog in the very near future.

Bananas

OK, so I’m not keeping up.

Here’s one of my favorite Far Side cartoons. Two gorillas are sitting beneath a tree in the jungle. One of them says:


You know, Sid, I really like bananas. … I mean, I know that’s not profound or nothing’. …Heck! We all do. …But for me, I think it goes much more beyond that.

Speaks volumes.

By the Light of the Fireflies

Lots of reports from subscribers that the December issue is late. I’m 400 miles from Locus HQ in Oakland, but I see some of the email. And I haven’t gotten *my* copy yet. Holiday mail delays, apparently.

Google News is cool. I posted the brief obit of Stefan Wul on the website yesterday morning (in this case, an abbreviated form of a piece submitted by a correspondent; the full obit will be in the magazine), and within the hour, a search of Google News for ‘Stefan Wul’ turned up the Locus Online link. Still the only result this morning.

The David Herter opera essay just posted is one of a couple articles that have taken more than the usual time to edit and finalize. Aside from those (one still in work), I already have John Shirley’s review of LOTR: The Return of the King, and am debating when to post it. Not *too* early, but at least a few days in advance of the opening, perhaps.

Posting such material has a noticeable effect on traffic to the site. With the new books listings posted last weekend, and then the Herter article, there’ve been over 8000 unique visitors to the site each day this week so far. But success has a price: I’m getting surcharged by the website hosting service for exceeding the standard allowable monthly bandwidth.

Busy Busy

Interesting Stephen King essay in last week’s Entertainment Weekly about the ‘laziness of baby boomers’ as an explanation for why King’s books don’t sell in the numbers they used to. I checked the ET website over the weekend and couldn’t find a link; checking again just now, searching the site a different way, I did find a link, and added it to the Blinks column on the Locus Online homepage.

He makes interesting points, though as a rule I’m suspicious of ‘it was so much better in the old days’ arguments. There are usually other explanations…

Between the holidays, family visits, planning parties, and a week-long formal assessment of our process maturity at my day-job, it’s been busy lately, but I’ll try to resume daily posts here presently. How did I ever get everything done in the old days when I wrote a Locus review column– and in December had a best-of-year list and essay to compose as well??