Monthly Archives: May 2010

Chicago Adventure

The weekend before last my partner and I attended his elder son Jimmy’s graduation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, specifically the Business College there. We flew in to Chicago and spent a night or two there both before and after driving down to Champaign for the graduation, a typically sententious event that included a lengthy reading and presenting of graduates, many of which exhibited Chinese ancestry. After the event we, the extended family, did a walking tour of the campus, which is remarkably spread out. I did keep an eye out for any sort of plaque commemorating HAL, but did not spot anything. Though I didn’t look terribly hard.

Both before and after our jaunt to Champaign, we met up with Gary Wolfe, Locus critic and seasoned Chicago resident, who guided us to worthy eateries (Les Nomades; the original Morton’s) and more importantly provided a contact, via his stepson Rob, for Jimmy’s search for an apartment near Chicago’s downtown Loop, where he’d just the week before gotten a job at the Chicago Exchange. That worked out very well — by the time we’d flown back to LA on Monday, Rob and Jimmy had met and found Jimmy an apartment north of downtown in the Lakeview area. We are now eagerly anticipating the millions he’ll earn as a trader.

This most recent past weekend was another family gathering here in LA, with Jimmy taking a break before starting his job, flying to LA with friends on their way to Las Vegas, and younger son Michael returning for the summer from U of Maryland. We lunched at Paradise Cove in Malibu.

All of which is mentioned in part to explain, if not excuse, the usual backlog on the website — yes, yes, New Books listings are a bit late, Classic Reprints are way way late, sample reviews from the magazine have been neglected for several months, and let’s not mention the awards index and its expansions. I never forget these things, and they will be worked. (In my defense, the rebuilding of Locus Online blogs in WordPress was another big hit to my ideal schedule, but still.)

First Novels Directories

The latest exciting new feature here at Locus Online are directory pages for first novels only — a list of First Novels published in 2010 and also one for 2009. These join the sorted novels directories (by genre and series/standalone status) established a couple months ago, and like them will be updated weekly, or whenever a New Books page is posted. I had a couple user requests for such pages, and they seemed like a good idea to do.

I’ll stipulate at the outset that these are likely no more *comprehensive* than are the other Directory pages — inevitably, they compile only what we’ve seen here at Locus Online, including references to books reviewed or recommended by Locus Magazine, and not including forthcoming titles. As always, suggestions of other titles to include are welcome, especially for the First Novels pages, considering that that category garners special attention from several awards, and the lists will be especially useful the more comprehensive they are.

Cache, and RAM

Quick update — the solution described last time turned out to be only a part, perhaps only a small part, of the solution. After installing the super-cache plug-in on the both the News and Reviews blogs last night, the site was still unresponsive this morning, as prone to 503 errors as before. Liza and the staff at Locus HQ followed up this morning with the hosting service to upgrade our server with more RAM (it had been only 256 Mb), and that made the big difference. It’s understandable — we went from a server that did little more than host static pages, to one that ran PHP programs every time anyone clicked on a News or Reviews or Perspectives post. (Even with the cache plug-ins installed, some PHP is running each time.) I hope, of course, that there will be no more problems, but then I’ve said this before.

I’m off to Chicago area on Thursday for an extended weekend graduation event, but I’ll try to get some substantial posts done by then. A new Lois column just came in…

Growing Pains

A problem that made the site mostly inaccessible for two or three days, and intermittently last weekend, has been solved (I hope). The proximate culprit was Cory Doctorow, whose newly posted column on Wednesday attracted so many viewers that it overwhelmed our server. But the ultimate culprit was our Word Press installation of our various blogs, including the ‘Perspectives’ blog where Cory’s essays are posted, and, to some extent, the limitation of our current server. The difference between Blogger, which served the blogs until a couple weeks ago, and WordPress, which serves them now, is that the former was set up to post static pages via FTP on our server, while WP’s default function is to dynamically serve pages from its database (sitting directly on our server) when a URL request is received. Each request causes WP to launch an instance of its PHP program, and the net effect of many hits to Cory’s link was to overload the server, to the extent that for some periods this past week, no one at Locus could download e-mail for hours at a time…

Our friendly hosting service suggested installing a plug-in option to Word Press called Super-cache, which in effect makes WP work like we had Blogger work — it generates static pages that sit on our server and are served to most viewers, rather than launching instances of its PHP engine. Between their rebooting our server this morning, and my installing the plug-in, the overload situation seems to be solved. At least, the site is coming up, and email is downloading. We will still likely pursue an upgrade to our server as well.

Hope this explanation has been helpful for the six of you who read this blog…

New Perspectives, Roundtable

Said blogs are now re-hosted in WordPress, with two issue interviews excerpted into posts on the former. The Roundtable will get going again once we contact the various contributors and get them new login settings…

The May issue of the magazine wasn’t mailed until Friday, April 30th — a tad late. I’ll start compiling the book reviews this evening (the reviews index is always updated/posted simultaneously with — or earlier than — the issue Table of Contents), but the cover image and ToC probably won’t be posted until tomorrow.

Update 8:30 pm: The reviews index, beginning with http://www.locusmag.com/Magazine/Reviews0.html, is now updated with May issue reviews.

And as a preview, the May issue reviews are… (reviewer in paren’s):

Abraham, Daniel • Leviathan Wept and Other Stories (Gary K. Wolfe)
Bacigalupi, Paolo • Ship Breaker (Gary K. Wolfe)
Bear, Elizabeth • Bone and Jewel Creatures (Paul Witcover)
Brown, Charles N., & Jonathan Strahan, eds. • Fritz Leiber: Selected Stories (Gardner Dozois)
Carriger, Gail • Changeless (Carolyn Cushman)
Carriger, Gail • Changeless (Faren Miller)
Fforde, Jasper • Shades of Grey (Faren Miller)
Francis, Consuela, ed. • Conversations with Octavia Butler (Gary K. Wolfe)
Gevers, Nick, & Marty Halpern, eds. • Is Anybody Out There? (Gardner Dozois)
Harris, Charlaine • Dead in the Family (Carolyn Cushman)
Hawkins, Rachel • Hex Hall (Carolyn Cushman)
Hobb, Robin • Dragon Haven (Faren Miller)
Hughes, Matthew • Hespira (Paul Witcover)
Huston, Charlie • Sleepless (Paul Witcover)
Johnson, Alaya • Moonshine (Faren Miller)
Kane, Stacia • Unholy Ghosts (Carolyn Cushman)
Kay, Guy Gavriel • Under Heaven (Gary K. Wolfe)
Kay, Guy Gavriel • Under Heaven (Gary K. Wolfe)
King, Stephen • Blockade Billy (Stefan Dziemianowicz)
Martin, George R. R., & Gardner Dozois, eds. • Warriors (Rich Horton)
McGuire, Seanan • A Local Habitation (Carolyn Cushman)
Nix, Garth • The Keys to the Kingdom, Book 7: Lord Sunday (Carolyn Cushman)
Parker, K. J. • The Folding Knife (Faren Miller)
Pinborough, Sarah • A Matter of Blood (Tim Pratt)
Quick, Amanda • Burning Lamp (Carolyn Cushman)
Scalzi, John • The God Engines (Rich Horton)
Schoen, Lawrence M., & Arthur Dorrance, eds. • Alembical 2 (Rich Horton)
Shepard, Lucius • The Taborin Scale (Paul Witcover)
Stanton, Mary • Avenging Angels (Carolyn Cushman)
Strahan, Jonathan, & Lou Anders, eds. • Swords and Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery (Gardner Dozois)
Wilks, Eileen • Blood Magic (Carolyn Cushman)
Yolen, Jane, & Mike Cavallaro • Foiled (Carolyn Cushman)