Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Quote: Rachel Naomi Remen

"In turmoil, I walked wearily along the water's edge, comparing myself to others my own age, people of seemingly boundless vitality. I came up wanting. I remember thinking that this disease had robbed me of my youth. I did not yet know what it had given me in exchange.

"In response to these painful thoughts, a wave of intense rage flooded me, the sort of feeling I had experienced many times before. But for some reason, this time I did not drown in it. Instead, I sort of noticed it go by and something inside me said, 'You have no vitality? Here's your vitality.'

"Shocked, I recognized the connection between my anger and my will to live. My anger was my will to live turned inside out. My life force was just as intense, just as powerful as my anger, but for the first time I could experience it as different and feel it directly. In that first moment of surprise, I had a glimpse of something fundamental about who I am; that at the core of things I have an intense love of life, a wish to participate fully in life and to help others to do the same. Somehow this had grown large in me as a result of the very limitations that I had thought were thwarting it. Like the power of a dammed river. I had not known this before. I also knew that in its present form, as rage, this power was trapped. My anger had helped me to survive, to resist my disease, even to fight on, but in the form of anger I could not use my strength to build the kind of life I longed to live. And then I knew that I no longer needed to do it this way. I knew with absolute certainty that my pain was nobody's fault; that the world was not to blame for it. It was a moment of real freedom."

- Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal

Kitchen Table Wisom is a book of very very short essays drawn from Dr. Remen's clinical and personal experiences with chronic and terminal illness. It's the book I lend to friends going through hard times, because over and over it offers hopeful messages and new ways to look at the world.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Quote: Rick Riordan

    I didn't want to admit that I'd seen what the Sirens had promised her. I felt like a trespasser. But I figured I owed it to Annabeth.
    "I saw the way you rebuilt Manhattan," I told her. "And Luke and your parents."
    She blushed. "You saw that?"
    "What Luke told you back on the Princess Andromeda, about starting from scratch ... that really got to you, huh?"
    She pulled her blanket around her. "My fatal flaw. That's what the Sirens showed me. My fatal flaw is hubris."
    I blinked. "That brown stuff they spread on veggie sandwiches?"
    She rolled her eyes. "No, Seaweed Brain. That's hummus. Hubris is worse."
    "What could be worse than hummus?"

- Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Quote: Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde has just released a new Thursday Next book! Only in stores a week, and it's already on the Book Sense Bestseller list! I'm very much looking forward to reading it, since it is, after all, First Among Sequels. (Actually, it's fourth.)

Here, meanwhile, is a slice of a Jurisfiction meeting, from The Well of Lost Plots:

    "Good. Item seven. The had had and that that problem. Lady Cavendish, weren't you working on this?"
    Lady Cavendish stood up and gathered her thoughts.
    "Indeed. The use of had had and that that has to be strictly controlled; they can interrupt the ImaginoTransference quite dramatically, causing readers to go back over the sentence in confusion, something we try to avoid."
    "Go on."
    "It's mostly an unlicensed usage problem. At the last count David Copperfield alone had had had had sixty-three times, all but ten unapproved. Pilgrim's Progress may also be a problem owing to its had had / that that ratio."
    "So what's the problem in Progress?"
    "That that had that that ten times but had had had had only thrice. Increased had had usage had had to be overlooked but not if the number exceeds that that that usage."
    "Hmm," said the Bellman. "I thought had had had had TGC's approval for use in Dickens? What's the problem?"
    "Take the first had had and that that in the book by way of example," explained Lady Cavendish. "You would have thought that that first had had had had good occasion to be seen as had, had you not? Had had had approval but had had had not; equally it is true to say that that that that had had approval but that that other that that had not."
    "So the problem with that other that that was that--?"
    "That that other-other that that had had approval."
    "Okay," said the Bellman, whose head was in danger of falling apart like a chocolate orange, "let me get this straight: David Copperfield, unlike Pilgrim's Progress, which had had had, had had had had. Had had had had TGC's approval?"
    There was a very long pause.

--Jasper Fforde, The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next book 3)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quote: J.K. Rowling (book 1)

    "A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven o'clock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it. He had done it.
    "Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats of every color wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one another in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping of the heavy trunks."

- J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Okay, so what I want to know is, where are all the cats? Toads are out of fashion, owls live in the owlery, but the only cats we ever see, besides here, are Crookshanks and Mrs. Norris. (Well, and Professor McGonagall.) Where are these students keeping their cats of every color? Did they all belong to 7th-years? Did Hagrid make a decree? Alas, I am betting that these burning questions will not be among those finally answered in book 7.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Quote: Ann Rinaldi

    "There are, as far as I can see, two kinds of lies in this world. There's the kind I tell Mama when she asks if I've been to see the hoodoo woman who lives on our plantation. And I say no. Though I have been. And now, like Sis Goose, I have a red flannel bag of my own that holds small animal bones, powdered snakeskin, horsehair, ashes, dried blood, and dirt from the graveyard. All to protect me from any evil I can imagine. And some that I can't.
    "Then there's the kind of lie you live with when you enter into a devil's agreement with yourself never to disclose a certain fact for fear of the results if you do.
    "There are planters in our neck of the woods who believe so much in the lie that the slaves are not free that they will shoot or hang anybody who says otherwise."

- Ann Rinaldi, Come Juneteenth

Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, and marks the day -- two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect -- that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and officially announced that the slaves in Texas were free. Come Juneteenth is the story of a girl in Texas who has to live with the lie she has told her best friend -- legally a slave but raised as her sister -- that the rumors of freedom creeping across the land are not true.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Quote: William Butler Yeats

The following is from The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" is in the section entitled The Rose, 1893. I actually know a beautiful musical setting to this poem, composed by a group known as Kiltartan Road.

"I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows shall I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Teahouse Fire wins Lambda Literary Award!

Ellis Avery's new novel, The Teahouse Fire, won a Lambda Literary Award in the lesbian debut fiction category. Ellis was here earlier this year to do a Japanese tea ceremony and reading from her book. It was a lovely evening in honor of a lovely new book. Congratulations, Ellis!

You can see all of the Lambda Literary Award Winners at

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Quotes: Kelly Link and Laurie J. Marks

Nif and I are back from Madison! The following quotations are from the writings of the Guests of Honor at this year's WisCon.

From the story "The Hortlak" in Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners (Harcourt, 2005)...

"Batu had spent a lot of time reorganizing the candy aisle according to chewiness and meltiness. The week before, he had arranged it so that if you took the first letter of every candy, reading across from left to right, and then down, it had spelled out the first sentence of To Kill a Mockingbird, and then also a line of Turkish poetry. Something about the moon."

And from Laurie J. Marks' Fire Logic (Tor, 2002)...

"Part 2: Fire Night

Without courage, there would be no will to know.
Without the will to know, there would be no knowledge.
Without knowledge, there would be no language.
Without language, there would be no community.
--MACKAPEE'S Principles of Community

Who is seen to speak to the enemy must be silenced. Who sympathizes with the enemy must lose their heart. Who dreams of peace must dream no more. Those who ravaged the land will be eliminated: without compromise, without mercy.
--MABIN'S Warfare

When I first met my enemy, she was a glyph, and it was I who chose to read her as my friend. When my enemy first met me, I was a glyph, and it was she who chose to read me as her friend. So all people are glyphs, and every understanding comes from choice.
--MEDRIC'S History of My Father's People"

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Quote: Susan Palwick

This quote, another paean to spring growth, is from Susan Palwick's The Necessary Beggar, in which an entire family are exiled from their planet and arrive, with no preparation and no papers, in an immigrant refugee camp in Nevada in 2011. This is from one of the epic poems of their homeland.

"And when the shoots came up
She greeted each one by name
For she knew them all already as old friends:
Hello, sweet peas, hello carrots, hello parsnips!
Greetings my wonderful melons! Hail rutabaga!
Welcome if you are the spirits of my ancestors,
Welcome if you are the spirits of strangers,
Welcome if you contain no human spirit at all,
But only the souls of green growing things.
You shall feed my family, you shall feed the world,
Every year you shall die and come to life again
And you will give us life, and we will revere you.
-- from the Epic of Emeliafa"

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What if the good guys won?

Grist has a review of Kim Stanley Robinson's Capitol Code trilogy: Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, and Sixty Days and Counting. Dealing with a near-future earth that is fighting global warming, these books present some compelling possibilities. (I was reading the first one just as hurricane Katrina hit!)
Check out the review at

Monday, May 07, 2007

2006 Tiptree Award Winners are here!

Here at Big Blue Marble we like feminist science fiction, so we're very excited that the 2006 Tiptree Award Winners are here: Half Life by Shelley Jackson, and The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. This year's jury also gave special recognition to Julie Philips' biography James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon.

We also have these books from the Tiptree Honor List:
The Privilege of the Sword, by Ellen Kushner (2006)
St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, by Karen Russell (2006)
A Brother's Price, by Wen Spencer (2005)

Check out for more Tiptree Winners and more information about the Tiptree Award. You can also find more information about this year's winners at

The Tiptree Awards will be presented on May 27, 2007 at WisCon; Jen and I will be there!


Friday, May 04, 2007

Quote: Barbara Kingsolver

My second quotation is from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the brand-new book from Barbara Kingsolver and her family. It's an extraordinary book, and I haven't read very far into it yet. My original quote idea was three paragraphs from chapter 1 that begin, "We'd surely do better, if only we knew any better." (Go read them; they're quite thought-provoking!) There's a question in there about what asparagus plants look like in August. I have my neighbor Rhoda to thank for the fact that I actually know the answer to this question!

Anyway, someone convinced me that the three paragraphs would be too long, so I went searching for another quote. This was not hard: practically any paragraph in the four chapters I've read would be an effective pull-quote. I've settled on the following, which takes asparagus (and its unusual growing cycle) and goes deeper:

"From the outlaw harvests of my childhood, I've measured my years by asparagus. I sweated to dig it into countless yards I was destined to leave behind, for no better reason than that I believe in vegetables in general, and this one in particular. Gardeners are widely known and mocked for this sort of fanaticism. But other people fast or walk long pilgrimages to honor the spirit of what they believe makes our world whole and lovely. If we gardeners can, in the same spirit, put our heels to the shovel, kneel before a trench holding tender roots, and then wait three years for an edible incarnation of the spring equinox, who's to make the call between ridiculous and reverent?"

Friday, April 27, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Fan Website!

Check out the new and improved Scholastic Harry Potter fan website:

It's got magnified cover art (look for clues!), printable posters, and a special challenge: review each Harry Potter book in exactly seven words!


The Big Blue Marble is now taking preorders for the seventh and final book in the series, due out July 21. The book will be sold at a 25% discount. Reserve yours today!

Release day events!

Thursday and Friday, July 19 and 20:
Ongoing reading of Book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Want to take a turn? Just stop in and offer!

Friday, July 20, 7:07pm:
Starting at 7 minutes after 7, anyone in costume will be eligible for our homemade costume contest!

Midnight, July 21, 12:00am:
The Midnight Release Party! Books will be released from their cages, and we will have games, prizes, and refreshments. Starting at 12:01, there will be a reading of Chapter 1 (and Chapter 1 only) of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Saturday, July 21, 10:00am:
Readings of The Deathly Hallows will continue during our regular store hours.

Quote: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Hi! Greetings from your new(ish) friendly neighborhood webmaven.

As I've been getting more familiar with the website, I have noted that our blog has been sadly neglected for some time. I'd like to rejuvenate the blog by posting quotations from books that we have in the store. I'll aim for weekly posts; we'll see how that goes.

For my first offering, a quote from a surprising source: It turns out that Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who died this month at the age of 84, wrote the Afterword for the book Free to Be...You and Me (Running Press, 1974). I was surprised, at least, and I grew up with the record album!

"I've often thought there ought to be a manual to hand to little kids, telling them what kind of planet they're on, why they don't fall off it, how much time they've probably got here, how to avoid poison ivy, and so on. I tried to write one once. It was called Welcome to Earth. But I got stuck on explaining why we don't fall off the planet. Gravity is just a word. It doesn't explain anything. If I could get past gravity, I'd tell them how we reproduce, how long we've been here, apparently, and a little bit about evolution. And one thing I would really like to tell them about is cultural relativity. I didn't learn until I was in college about all the other cultures, and I should have learned that in the first grade. A first grader should understand that his or her culture isn't a rational invention; that there are thousands of other cultures and they all work pretty well; that all cultures function on faith rather than truth; that there are lots of alternatives to our own society. Cultural relativity is defensible and attractive. It's also a source of hope. It means we don't have to continue this way if we don't like it."

- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007)