Starting a Private Practice

I’m working on getting my private counseling/coaching practice going. Here is a list of resources I’ve acquired along the way that others may find helpful:

  • Norm Dasenbrook’s “The Complete Guide to Private Practice“. It’s a pretty comprehensive starting point that covers most of the issues you need to consider when starting up and planning your practice.
  • Lynn Grodzki’s “Building Your Ideal Private Practice“. Absolutely essential resource that covers the business side of a practice — and why marketing isn’t a dirty word.
  • James Horan’s “The One Page Business Plan for the Professional Consultant“. Helps you organize the planning part of your business; a lot cheaper than business school.
  • Get Clients Now! A 28 Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches”. A lot of good tips on marketing your practice and a good companion to the Horan book.
  • Tamara Suttle’s blog, “Private Practice from the Inside Out“. Good tips on starting your private practice, including some contrarian notions (she doesn’t believe in getting on insurance boards).
  • Walsh and Dasenbrook article, “Insurance Company Billing“. These guys do believe in getting on insurance boards; this article might help you get started.
  • Credentialing.com. These folks will help you get licensed in another state, or get on insurance boards (both for a fee, of course). So if you’re busy and have the budget for it, this can be a time saver. I’m in process of getting credentialed by three insurance companies.
  • Netsource. They’ll handle the billing part of your practice. They charge a percentage of what you collect. I have a Counsol account and plan to use them for submitting bills to insurance (once I get credentialed).
  • Counsol. For a monthly fee, you can manage your whole practice including billing and client interactions on their site. A reasonable alternative to hiring someone.
  • Psychology Today. For a monthly fee, you can have a listing on their Find A Therapist site. I’ve gotten a couple of calls this way.
  • Hushmail. HIPAA compliant secure email for communicating with your clients.
  • AmeriCenters. Virtual offices in four Midwestern states. I have a monthly account with them because I can schedule time slots after hours (unlike Regus).
  • Regus. Virtual offices in 900 cities worldwide. Unlike AmeriCenters, however, these are daytime offices only.
  • Ofer Zur, “The Complete Fee-for-Service Private Practice Handbook“.  Great resource for those who want to start a practice without dealing with managed care.
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A Few Dystopias

I posted the following Wikipedia link to a list of dystopian fiction in response to a post about dystopian classics by Denise A.  on Facebook, and suggested some additional authors who weren’t covered in the list:

List of dystopian literature

Denise asked me which were my top favorites on my additional list. That’s a hard one, and I’ve had to reflect long and hard on the question to come up with an answer. Here are my additions, with a bit about each. I’d say they’re the most important dystopian works in the science fiction/fantasy genres that aren’t included in the above list. I’ve arranged them from most important/essential/whatever to least. Each title is linked to the Wikipedia article on the work for those who want to investigate further.

The most “traditional” dystopia with a message that can easily be applied to our current situation is Memoirs Found in a Bathtub; Lem was one of the greats of 20th century science fiction.  This is a truly frightening vision of what happens when bureaucracies run amok, and is a cautionary tale that seems especially valuable to us today struggling with issues of privacy and freedom. For that reason, I’m placing it first in the list.

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, Stanislaw Lem (1961):

Polish science fiction author Lem is the author of Solaris, made into a motion picture by Andrei Tarkovsky then later remade by Hollywood, and The Stalker, also made in to a motion picture by Tarkovsky. Many of his novels jab at the Soviet bureaucracy. This is the ultimate bureaucratic nightmare: a bureaucratic agent is trapped in an underground military complex, where he is supposed to follow an unintelligible directive to “Verify. Search. Destroy. Incite. Inform. Over and out.”  Nothing is as it seems, all is ruled by paranoia, and to retain the remaining bits of his sanity the protagonist keeps a journal which is what’s found in the bathtub by a far distant future society. Lem said of his novel that everything we perceive can be interpret as a message, and that this perception may be exploited for political purposes only to run amok far outstripping the original intentions.

The closest things I can think of in cinema are Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film “Brazil”, or Kubrick’s “Doctor Strangelove”.  Or in fiction, Heller’s “Catch-22”. People who can make their way through it may find it brilliant, those who don’t may absolutely hate it. It’s boring … but that’s part of the point.

Quote:

“I’ll tell you. You’re young, but you’re one of us, and I’m one of us, so I’ll tell you. Everything. Now, say someone’s one of us. . . but he’s also—you know—you can tell, right?”

“He’s not—one of us,” I said.

“Right! You can tell! But sometimes—you can’t tell. You think someone’s one of us, but they got to him and then he wasn’t any more—and then we got to him, and he was—but he still has to look like he isn’t, that is, like he only looks like he is! But they get wise to him and—now he isn’t again, but he has to look like he isn’t—or we’ll get wise—and that’s a triple!”

The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe (1980-1983):

A tetralogy that is actually part of a longer series of 11 novels called the Solar Cycle. Set in a far distant future when the sun is dying, it’s the story of the journeyman torturer Severian’s journey toward his messianic destiny, which involves revitalizing the sun and saving the earth.  He is exiled from his guild for showing compassion to one of his “clients”. It’s a dense and challenging read full of allegory, and one of the literary masterpieces of 20th century science fiction.

Gene Wolfe is a Roman Catholic, and his Christianity informs his writing without being explicitly present — more of a Tolkien than a Lewis in that regard. Severian is a flawed “type” of Christ to use a Roman Catholic term.  Here is a good albeit flawed article on the Christian dimensions of The Book of the New Sun:

The Religious Implications of Gene Wolfe’s The Book Of The New Sun

Fans of Tolkien may enjoy reading Wolfe’s essay on The Lord of the Rings:

Gene Wolfe on JRR Tolkien: The Best Introduction to the Mountains

I’ve read all 11 novels in the Solar Cycle – most of them more than once. One scene in particular sticks out for me in one of the later novels in the Cycle, I think it is “In Green’s Jungles”.  In this unimaginably distant future, the descendants of a generational starship settle a watery planet called Blue; one character ends up on the twin planet Green, which is a jungle world. He finds a table built by the indigenous extinct species and is moved for some reason he can’t fathom to place his meal on it as a kind of offering — an inspired Eucharistic offering in a culture that has forgotten Christianity or how to pray.

A quote:

We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard defining edges.

Viriconium, M John Harrison (1971 – 1985):

A set of stories in the manner of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth (who started the whole dying earth meme in science fiction/fantasy), or Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, or Michael Moorcock’s or Cordwainer Smith’s stories. The nature (and even the name) of the city Viriconium changes and mutates from story to story (it’s a kind of subversion of the detailed and consistent worlds of other fantasy authors like Tolkien). It’s set on an earth far distant in the future, when many civilizations have risen and fallen so that there are deserts of the rusted remains of older civilizations where people find things like airships and energy weapons left by those long dead. It is a decaying future society living off the past, but a place where much beauty can still be found.  A poetic and sometimes disturbing portrait of a far distant future (or an extended dream of it). Here is a good review:

A Little Cryptic, A Little Proud, A Little Mad

A quote that gives a good feeling for Harrison’s style:

Rue Sepile; the Avenue of Children; Margery Fry Court: all melted down! All the shabby dependencies of the Plaza of Unrealized Time! All slumped, sank into themselves, eroded away until nothing was left in his field of vision but an unbearable white sky above and the bright clustered points of the chestnut leaves below – and then only a depthless opacity, behind which he could detect the beat of his own blood, the vitreous humour of the eye. He imagined the old encrusted brick flowing, the glass cracking and melting from its frames even as they shrivelled awake, the sheds of paints flaring green and gold, the geraniums toppling in flames to nothing, not even white ash, under this weight of light! All had winked away like reflections in a jar of water glass, and only the medium remained, bright, viscid, vacant. He had a sense of the intolerable briefness of matter, its desperate signalling and touching, its fall; and simultaneously one of its unendurable durability

He thought, Something lies behind all the realities of the universe and is replacing them here, something less solid and more permanent. Then the world stopped haunting him forever.

The Dying Earth, Jack Vance (1950):

The ancestor of all the other dying earth stories over the past 65 years.   The sun has ballooned into a red giant that is burning out, and societies have fallen into apathy and decadence, as they wait for a flickering sun to finally burn out. Magic has reappeared as a dominant force in these societies. One of his influences was James Branch Cabell. The stories have been described by some as picaresque.

A quote:

“What are your fees?” inquired Guyal cautiously.
“I respond to three questions,” stated the augur. “For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue.”

And another quote:

“What great minds lie in the dust,” said Guyal in a low voice. “What gorgeous souls have vanished into the buried ages; what marvellous creatures are lost past the remotest memory … Nevermore will there be the like; now in the last fleeting moments, humanity festers rich as rotten fruit. Rather than master and overpower our world, our highest aim is to cheat it through sorcery.”

Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith (1950s – 1960s):

Humans in a far distant future live an allocated 400 years of luxury while genetically engineered animals called underpeople do all the work and are treated as possessions. It is a morally sterile society ruled by the  all powerful and cruel Instrumentality, and the underpeople serve as the moral guides to their human masters.

Cordwainer Smith was Episcopalian and his faith informs his fiction in a subtle way. Here’s a good essay that touches on the theme of the Old Strong Religion in Smith’s fiction:

Cats, cruelty and children

When a Lord of the Instrumentality orders the dog-girl D’Joan to be burned at the stake for leading an uprising of the underpeople, he says,

“I am not a bad man, little dog-girl, but you are a bad animal and we must make an example of you. Do you understand that?” 

Her reply:

Joan commented, upon sentence, “My body is your property, but my love is not. My love is my own, and I shall love you fiercely while you kill me.”

Beasts, John Crowley (1976): 

Roving bands of genetically engineered human/lion hybrids are hunted down and eliminated by the humans who created them.  Some similarity here to the story behind Blade Runner (Philip Dick, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”). The least of Crowley’s stories, but still a good read. I wouldn’t call this an essential dystopian novel.

Two reviews:

Book Review: Beasts, John Crowley (1976)

InfinityPlus – Review, Beasts

A quote:

He (Painter)… asked Meric to overthrow the king within himself, the old Adam whom Jehovah said was to rule over all creation. For even in the Mountain, King Adam was not overthrown, only in exile; still proud, still anxious, still throned in lonely superiority, because there was no new king to take up his abandoned crown. That king had come.

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Incense Sources

A simple list of incense site links from my collection with short comments on each:

ShoyeidoJapanese incense and incense holders; mid to high price range
Nippon KodoJapanese incense, with an emphasis on the culture of incense burning
Silver SkyTibetan incense, nice collection of singing bowls
Incense WarehouseWide collection of incense, burners, other products (thanks to Alice for this one)
Fred SollResin on a stick; heavy-burning incense, I found it too heavy for my taste
Juniper RidgeIncense and other products based on ingredients from the west & southwest
Essence of the AgesVariety of incense from various locations, nice source of incense-related materials
Scents of EarthChunk incense, attars, essential oils, nice assortment
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Unfinished Business

At a certain age, you start recognizing the unfinished business in your life, and either resign yourself to it never being done, or frantically try to play catch-up. A few are obvious, and come to you in your twenties: you’ll never be president, you’ll never travel to Mars. Others come to you as the decades go back: the realization that you’re unlikely to ever have children,  you’ll probably never write that great book you thought you had in you when you were twenty.
You realize there’s more life behind you than there is in front of you, and that if there were a way for you to live to a thousand, or even two hundred, while keeping a reasonable amount of your health and dignity, you’d jump at the chance (that after all is the main appeal of the vampire myth: you buy immortality with a kiss, but at a terrible price.
Now, I’m 68 years old. At this age, death ceases to be an abstraction; it’s walking up the drive to your house and you don’t know when the knock will come. You’ve gone from going to friends’ weddings and graduations to hearing regular news of family and friends who have passed on, and begin to understand why old people like to read the obituaries. Having put off many things over the course of a life, you’ve run out of time to put off anything else. You know you might not ever make that move back to the South that you’ve desired for nearly three decades.
If I could do it over again, what would I do differently? I’d write that novel, or many of them; I’d take better care of my health; I’d focus less on what I should be and more on what I am; I’d do a better job of preparing for the end years of my career as well as the end years of my life. I’d laugh more and complain less.
[serialposts]
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My List of Essential Fantasy and Science Fiction Films

These represent the films I would most recommend to someone who wants to watch the best in the genre, and may not include some of your favorites because, well, it represents my tastes. At some point, I will add descriptions of each but for now they’re just alphabetized lists. The lists will most likely be revised from time to time.

Fantasy

  • Adventures of Baron Munchausen
  • Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau)
  • Black Orpheus
  • Brazil
  • Bridge to Terebithia
  • City of Lost Children
  • Coraline
  • Dark City
  • Darkman
  • Delicatessen
  • Demon Pond
  • Fantasia
  • Fisher King
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Hellboy and Hellboy 2
  • Hour of the Wolf
  • Iron Giant
  • Lord of the Rings (all three)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Neverending Story
  • Orpheus (Cocteau)
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Pinocchio
  • Princess Bride
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Return to Oz
  • Spirited Away
  • Stardust
  • Time Bandits
  • Wings of Desire (Wenders)
  • Wizard of Oz

Horror and Supernatural

  • Blair Witch Project
  • Devil’s Backbone
  • Donny Darko
  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • The Haunting (original)
  • In the Mouth of Madness
  • Insidious (the first one)
  • Interview with the Vampire
  • Ju-On
  • Lady in White
  • Mama
  • Nosferatu (both versions)
  • The Orphanage
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock
  • Ringu
  • Sixth Sense
  • The Others
  • Rosemary’s Baby
  • The Shining
  • Shutter Island
  • Stir of Echoes
  • The Last Wave
  • Uzumaki
  • What Lies Beneath
  • Wicker Man (the original)
  • Woman in Black

Science Fiction

  • 12 Monkeys
  • 1984
  • 2001
  • Alien
  • Aliens
  • Avatar
  • Blade Runner
  • Children of Men
  • Clockwork Orange
  • Contact
  • Dark Star
  • Day the Earth Stood Still (original)
  • District 9
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Ex Machina
  • eXistenZ
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • The Fly (remake)
  • Forbidden Planet
  • Fountain
  • Galaxy Quest
  • Gattaca
  • Gravity
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Host
  • Idiocracy
  • Inception
  • Interstellar
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original)
  • Jurassic Park
  • Minority Report
  • The Matrix (but not the sequels)
  • Monsters
  • Moon
  • Predator
  • Prometheus
  • Repo Man (with Harry Dean Stanton)
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes (new)
  • Serenity
  • Solaris (original)
  • Sunshine
  • The Thing (remake)
  • Time Machine
  • Unbreakable
  • War of the Worlds (original)
  • Watchmen
  • The World’s End

Movies In My Queue

  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Metropolis
  • Source Code
  • Troll Hunter
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HDTV Antenna Reception

For those who are cutting the cable, here is the reception I’m getting for the HDTV channels that are available in the area, using a Mohu Curve 50 Designer HDTV antenna purchased from Amazon ($74). The antenna is approximately the size and shape of a sheet of printer paper. Note that reception all depends on where you’re located; for some, it may be a total waste of money.

Antenna ChannelDescriptionXfinity ChannelQuality
2.1WBBM-DT02 WBBM
5.1NBC 505 WMAQ★★★★★
5.2COZI - Classic TVNoneVery good
7.1WLS-HD07 WLSVery good
7.2LiveWell - Home, health, lifestyleNoneVery good
7.3LiveWell - Home, health, lifestyleNoneVery good
9.1WGN CW09 WGN
9.2Antenna TV - Classic TVNone
9.3ThisTV - Movies, classic TVNone
11.1WTTW-HD - PBS11 WTTW
11.2WTTW-PR - Prime
11.3WTTW-CR - Create
11.4WTTW-VMSpanish
20.1WYCC-HD20 WYCC
20.2FNX - Native American programming
20.3MHZ - International ProgrammingForeign language, various
24.1Tuff TV - Programming for men
24.3Peace TV - Dubai/Islamic
24.4POLVISNPolish
24.5WinTVKorean?
24.6MC-TVChinese?
24.7KBSKorean
25.1HSN14 HSN
25.2TVC+Spanish
25.3SBN - Religious, Protestant
25.4ShopNow - Local shopping
25.5LATVSpanish
25.6ALMAVISSpanish
25.7PeaceTV - Dubai/Islamic
26.1WCIU-HD - The U06 The U
26.2UToo - WCIU classic TV
26.3MeTV - WCIU classic TV
26.4MeToo - WCIU affiliated
26.5Bounce - African American programming
32.1WFLD03 WFLD
38.1ION12 ION
38.2qubo - Kids programming
38.3IONLife - Lifestyle, family friendly programs
38.4Shop
38.5QVC28 QVC
38.6HSN14 HSN
44.1WSNS-HDSpanish
44.2ExitosSpanish
50.1WPWR-TV
50.2Movies!
50.3Mundo FXSpanish
62.1WJVS13 Paid Programming
62.2MCTVSpanish
62.3PRISMSpanish (same as 62.2)
62.4PRISM 2Spanish
66.1WGBODTDanish?
66.2Get TV
66.3GRIT TV
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Vegan Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde A classic Portuguese soup or stew recipe of my design, adapted so it’s lenten. This one isn’t easily adapted for a low carb diet, but you might try using cauliflower instead of the potatoes (but you’ll need to adjust the cauliflower cooking time so it doesn’t turn to mush).

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg frozen or 1 1/2 lbs fresh kale or collards
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 medium to large potatoes, peeled
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 oz dried mushrooms
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 can canneloni or northern white beans
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp mixed herbs, Italian or other mix (Penzey’s in Naperville has a nice assortment)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot pepper powder or flakes
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp hungarian paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh or dried parsley
  • Pam vegetable spray

Reconstitute dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes; chop. Prepare kale by rinsing thoroughly and slicing leafy portions into fine shreds so they will cook well. Discard stems. Spray bottom of soup pot with Pam and saute mushrooms with onion. Add garlic last, and do not allow to brown. Add broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add potatoes, kale, bay leaf, herbs, hot pepper, and paprika, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 30 more minutes. Add beans and parsley and warm through. Mash some of the potato against side of pot or run through food processor to thicken soup. Adjust seasoning as desired.

Serves 8 to 12.

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Vegan Red Beans and Rice

Note that the ground chilis referenced are not the chili powder mix used to make Texas chili, but are pure powdered or ground chili peppers. The chipotle chilis can’t be substituted since they give the dish its smokey flavor (they stand in for the hamhocks usually included in this recipe). I use ground Turkish Aleppo chilis for the medium hot peppers, but you can substitute generic ground red pepper. Penzey’s Spices in downtown Naperville has a good selection of ground peppers. You could use the smaller amount of hot pepper flakes, if you prefer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4 – 6 minced or pressed garlic cloves
  • 14 1/2 oz. can diced or whole tomatoes (pref. salt free)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon medium hot ground chili peppers or flakes (depending on heat)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili peppers (ground or powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms
  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms (portobellos or shiitakes work well)
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper, preferably fresh ground
  • Tabasco or Texas Pete hot sauce to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or heaping tablespoon dried parsley flakes

 

Pick through dried beans, removing any rocks, twigs, and “mutant” beans. Some soak overnight, but I have good success with this approach: put in a pot, add cold water to at least twice the depth of beans. Bring to a full boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let stand in hot water for a couple of hours. The beans should be mostly cooked. If not, bring to boil again and repeat. Drain beans, and rinse well under cold water.

 

While the beans are cooking, spray an 8 quart pot with Pam or other nonstick spray, and saute onion, green pepper, celery and garlic over medium high heat until veggies are obviously feeling the heat and smell wonderful.

 

Soak the dried mushrooms for 20 minutes in 1/2 cup hot water, drain, and chop. Slice the fresh mushrooms and saute them in a no-stick pan.

 

Also while the beans cook, if you use whole tomatoes, drain them, saving the liquid, and chop them up (draining makes them easier to chop). Add the tomatoes and juice to the cooked veggies in the pot, along with the 4 cups vegetable stock and 1 cup water.

 

Add the cooked beans to the pot containing the tomatoes and veggies, along with the mushrooms, chili pepper powders, thyme, and bay leaves. Don’t overdo the chili peppers; you can always make it hotter later with hot sauce.

 

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours. Be sure to stir once in a while so the beans don’t burn at the bottom of the pot! Add water only if necessary, because you don’t want it to be overly soupy. Some like to cover it while it cooks, but I leave it uncovered to cook down.

 

The beans should be nicely tender without being mushy. Taste, and add black ground pepper and Tabasco sauce to your liking. Put salt in now if you need to.

 

This makes about 12 one-cup servings. I like to make up a pot and keep it in the ‘fridge (it keeps well). Cook as much rice as you need for as many servings as you’re going to use for the meal. Put the rice with 4 cups water in a saucepan, and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.

 

Before serving, stir in the chopped parsley gently if you’re using it (it adds a little nice color and flavor). You can the beans and rice separately, so folks can dish up as much as they want of each. A typical serving is 1 cup beans plus 1/2 cup rice.

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Literary SF Novel Recommendations

Based loosely on the sub genres in the Wikipedia entry for SF, here are good starting points for those who want an introduction to the field. Not intended to be a comprehensive list of recommendations. Some are contemporary, some older novels:

Hard SF: Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space series

Soft & Social: Ursula K LeGuin, the Left Hand of Darkness; Gene Wolfe, the Fifth Head of Cerberus

Cyberpunk: William Gibson, Neuromancer; Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Time Travel: Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

Alternate History: Philip K Dick, The Man in the High Castle

Military SF: Joe Haldeman, The Forever War

Superhuman: Theodore Sturgeon, More than Human; Olaf Stapledon, Odd John

Apocalyptic: Walter Miller, A Canticle for Liebowitz; Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Space Opera: Iain Banks, The Algebraist; Alistair Reynolds, Revelation Space Series

Steampunk: William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, The Difference Engine

New Weird: China Mieville, Perdido Street Station

Science Fantasy: Iain McLeod, The Light Ages

End of Time & Far Future: Gene Wolfe, Book of the New Sun, Book of the Long Sun, Book of the Short Sun; Jack Vance, The Dying Earth; Cordwainer Smith, Collected Stories

A Few Notes:

Gene Wolfe and Cordwainer Smith are both Roman Catholic authors, and though their faith informs their work, they don’t clobber you over the head with it (as is the case with C S Lewis’ space fiction).

Science Fantasy works out what life would be like if a fantasy element were real. In The Light Ages, for example, aether is a magical substance that is a source of power and can be mined, though with negative health results for the miners, turning them into changelings.

Jack Vance’s Dying Earth informed or inspired Gene Wolfe’s epic set of nine or so novels set in the far distant future.

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On The Road

I’m heading to South Carolina on vacation. First night … I have a room just south of the beltway south of Indianapolis tonight. As I drove from Naperville, I was struck by the amount of traffic I encountered and realized: it’s been 25 years since I headed this way on the road to the Carolinas, and 25 years since I moved back to Illinois from the South.

Do I miss it? Yes … but there’s a degree of fear mixed in with the anticipation: will it be anything like the South I remembered, do I still belong there? Part of the reason for my trip is simply a vacation; it’s been years since I went on a real vacation, and visited an area I am not familiar with.

I’m spending four days in Greenville, SC (where I’ve never visited) and four days in the Charleston, SC area (where I spent a decent amount of time when I lived in NC).

Tomorrow I hit the road again, driving to Greenville.

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