Tag Archives: links

Andy Weir on writing The Martian, sex lives of slugs, agency and female characters and more {From My Haphazard Twitter Files, No. 9}


It’s about time for another edition of From My Haphazard Twitter Files. Here are some links I’ve shared on Twitter since the last edition. This week there’s Andy Weir, the sex lives of slugs, agency and female characters and more!

How Science Made Me a Writer.  In this engaging piece, Andy Weir talks about how he came to write The Martian (which he initially serialized it on his website and then self-published it on Amazon).

… as I wrote, I bungled my way into a revelation: Science creates plot! As I worked out the intricacies of each problem and solution, little details I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed became critical problems Mark had to solve. No need for meteor strikes — the surprises, catastrophes and narrow escapes were coming fast and furious on their own.

The Sex Lives of Slugs—and Other Mysteries of the Animal Kingdom. Seriously, how does one resist a title like this? In this interview posted at National Geographic, Simon Worrall interviews author Simon Barnes about his new book, Ten Million Aliens: A Journey Through the Entire Animal Kingdom, a book I added immediately to my to-read list. Oh, and those slugs?

Slugs start as hermaphrodites, so they’ll be both male and female. One courting ritual will often involve two slugs circling around each other, each waving its penis. The penis, relative to body size, is quite massive, about half the size of the body. So they circle around, waving a giant penis overhead, then mutually enter each other and fertilize each other in a process that will go on for hours and hours.

When it’s all done, they then have to break it off, and this, alas, is not always a mere metaphor. Sometimes the penis, which is corkscrew shaped, will be reluctant to come out, whereupon one of the slugs will kindly perform the favor-you may cross your legs at this point—of nibbling it up. It’s called apophallation.

The Road to Little Dribbling: Bill Bryson is releasing a new book and I can’t wait.  I can’t wait, either – a new Bill Bryson travel book is coming later this year!

This Twitter Rant Might Change How You Think About Female Characters. On agency and female characters. A few highlights, from writer Ada Hoffman’s Twitter feed:

… agency is a component of plot. Who is and isn’t able to make choices that have an effect on events is a component OF PLOT.

So what often happens is that a female character seems very cool, and then THE PLOT IS CONSTRUCTED so she can’t do anything.

Down and dirty fairy tales: How this rediscovered stash of darker-than-Grimm stories destroys our Prince Charming myths

Schönwerth just refuses to homogenize the stories, and so you find that there’s a lot more gender bending in Schönwerth. There isn’t that strict division of gendered labor that you find in the Grimms. The Grimms don’t have a male Snow White, for example, whereas Schönwerth does. Schönwerth has a male Cinderella. He has a boy who wears out iron shoes while searching for the woman he loves, a figure who is a girl in “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” He has a prince who gets under the bedcovers with a frog so she can be turned into a beautiful princess. You just don’t find that in the Grimms at all.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy. A fusion foodie celebration I’d never heard of before. It doesn’t quite tickle my taste buds, but I’ve never been too fond of haggis.

At Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a holiday that melds Chinese New Year with Robbie Burns Day, we eat gung haggis dumplings: Chinese dumplings filled with haggis—the savory pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs; minced with oatmeal, suet, and spices; stuffed into the stomach lining of the sheep; and usually plated as a football-sized lump. They’re a fitting tribute to the undeniable cultural amalgamation of Vancouver, where the celebration was founded.

I confess, I’m always surprised when I go back over the links I’ve tweeted on Twitter. Each time, I’m reminded of why each link caught my eye in the first place!

From My Haphazard Twitter Files (No. 7): dim sum, diversity perceptions in book reviews, the Princess Bride and more


It’s time for another peek at my haphazard Twitter files! This week I’ve chosen eight links out of all the ones I tweeted since the last Haphazard Twitter Files post. Not all bookish, since I like to tweet whatever catches my eye and I have to tell you, SO many things catch my eye!

1. I’ve never been great with languages, but I’ve been thinking about learning another one lately. These top 10 podcasts to help you learn a language might come in handy!

2. Old books reborn as art.  Such an incredible video, from TedTalks.

3.  If you’ve been wanting to try dim sum but the idea of all those choices scares you a little, check out this beginner’s field guide to dim sum at Lucky Peach (which, by the way, is a wonderful foodie magazine). It’s quite a comprehensive list, and there were selections on there I’ve never tried myself.

My own personal dim sum favourites? The rice noodle rolls with shrimp, har gow (shrimp dumplings) and steamed spareribs with fermented black beans. Mmmm.

4. Author Malinda Lo has written a great post about perceptions of diversity in book reviews. This is part one, where she goes over a number of professional book reviews from places like Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and shows us one perception that crops up in these reviews: the idea that a diverse cast of characters is “scarcely plausible”. You can catch up with the rest of the posts she’ll write in this series here (there’s a second post up now on “so many (too many?) issues”.

5. February is graphic novel month, right? Memory has written a post over at Lady Business where she writes about the Hugo’s Best Graphic Story category and recommends a number of 2014 new releases. Go read and be prepared to expand your TBR list!

6. Want to know how to slow down time? Check out the life-changing trick author Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker, Moneyball) wrote on a Chipotle cup.

7. Some of the items in 16 skills that make your reading more productive can apply to reading fiction as well as non-fiction. I find these kinds of lists normally work best with reading nonfiction, so that was a pleasant surprise. I love the idea of a commonplace book, and I really want to start giving myself permission to make notes directly in some of the books I read.

8. The Guardian has a great interview with Cary Elwes on The Princess Bride: “I know what my epitaph will be”.  I haven’t read As You Wish yet, but it’s in my TBR stacks and I know right after I read it, I’m going to want to watch “The Princess Bride” again!

There was, unfortunately, one dud among the links I tweeted this week. I was super excited about this hack that promises you can quickly peel a hard-boiled egg by shaking it in a glass of water. I tried it twice and sadly I ended up with a half-peeled egg that broke in half each time. Maybe I shook it for too long both times …

What interesting links did you tweet or come across on Twitter this week?