- Ebooks! October 22, 2014My backlist becomes available as ebooks today. Here are the covers -- I like the way they have them as a sort of matching set, and the way they manage to evoke magic and strangeness in real places.Also, today is the third anniversary of the day we met Bonnie and took her home. In celebration, she gets a liverwurst dinner tonight.
- Costa Rica 2 October 21, 2014Some things I liked about Costa Rica (in no particular order):Staying at Selva Verde Lodge near the Sarapiqui River. This is a place with cabins inside the forest, so that when you walk on the paths you see frogs and toucans, geckos and iguanas, and when you wake up you can hear everything peep and cheep and croak and buzz and ring all around you. The best was a coatimundi, which wandered up near us as boldly as you like. (The picture isn't very good because I was so startled it took me a while to get to my camera.) We also saw monkeys and caimans on a trip down the river itself.Raised walkway, so we don't disturb the jungle. Though there were paths through the jungle as well.A visit to a chocolate factory, where the guide made chocolate the way the Aztecs did (though with sugar, which the Aztecs didn’t have). We got to drink a cup after it was made, and it was some of the best chocolate I ever had. (The guide was named Willy, like Willy Wonka. Really. People in Costa Rica have names like William and Frank and Justin, though of course there are Spanish names too.)Zip-lining. For some reason I wasn't afraid doing this, possibly because I trusted the lines and the guides. It's a fantastic way to see the jungle.This guy is actually holding me up with his feet. (You can see his untied shoelaces, which I was terrified he'd trip over while walking on the platforms.) Before we'd gone out on a single line I asked, "Can we scream?" and one of the guides said, "You can do anything you like as long as you don't pee in your pants." This was the trip where I screamed, startling him, I think, because I'd been so quiet on the other ones.
- New Review at LOCUS ONLINE October 20, 2014A horror novel of a different sort from Fowler:http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2014/10/paul-di-filippo-reviews-christopher-fowler/
- Pura Vida! October 19, 2014Just got back from Costa Rica, where I spent ten days studying Spanish. Some thoughts:Costa Rica hasn't had a military since 1949. Twenty-eight percent of the country is protected and kept in its natural state by the government, and about 10 percent more is protected privately. They don't mine their mountains. They get 90 percent of their energy from renewable sources, water and wind and volcanoes, and they're on track toward 100 percent. If you're poor and you qualify, you can go to the university for free, and maybe even get some extra money for books and transportation. The rest of the students are charged on a sliding scale -- my Spanish teacher got a 30 percent scholarship, which means that she only had to pay 30 percent of her costs. They have universal health care.It isn't a utopia, of course. San José, the capital, is crowded and undistinguished. Very few poor people make it to the university. You can wait for months to be seen by a doctor; you can even wait for an appointment to get an appointment. There's a ring road in San José that's been under construction for forty years.Still, there's something about the spirit of the place. When they pass a law saying you can't cut down palm trees in the jungle no one complains about the government trying to take away their freedoms; they just get on with planting trees on farms. When Nicaraguans come into the country to take advantage of the health care, no one is there standing at the border telling them to go back where they came from -- they know this is what happens when you have the best care in Central America. I met a fairly poor man, a security guard at night and a car mechanic by day, whose son wants to study eco-tourism. They understand that we're all in this together, that if we don't stop destroying our environment we're going to end up destroying everything.All of this seems to be what they mean by "Pura vida." It means "pure life" -- but you can also use it to answer "How are you?" or "How was dinner?" or just to say "Everything's cool." It all made me obscurely hopeful.More personal stuff later...Arenal volcano seen through clouds
- New Review at LOCUS ONLINE October 18, 2014What's the new Peter Hamilton like?http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2014/10/paul-di-filippo-reviews-peter-f-hamilton/
- 1953 Ad for Mystery Book Club October 15, 2014