Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

A Brief Note For My Patreon Followers

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Hickey on January 26, 2015

Later today, in an hour or two, I’ll be posting the first excerpt of the first draft of my novel to Patreon, for those on the $5-per-month or higher bands to look over. This is mostly because that group includes a few people whose opinions I really value — I’m doing it as much for feedback to improve the novel as anything else.
I will then, immediately, be deleting it. If you’re configured for email notifications, you should receive the full thing as an email, but I’m planning on shopping this round traditional publishers when it’s done, so I’m not going to leave any portions of it online as that may interfere with the contracts.
(If I *don’t* get a traditional publishing deal with this, I’ll eventually self-publish it and serialise it on this blog, but that won’t be for a while yet).

I’ll be doing this as I get each chunk of the first draft in a semi-coherent state. I’ve finally got enough of the research and the background done that these should happen relatively often.

For the rest of you, there’ll be a proper blog post tonight.

Hugo Nomination Suggestions?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Hickey on January 25, 2015

There’s six weeks to go, give or take, til the Hugo nominations have to be in, and so I’m thinking quite hard about who I should nominate.

Here’s what I’m going for so far:

Best Novel:
The Pendragon Protocol, Philip Purser-Hallard
If I can’t find four better novels in the next six weeks — Lock-In by John Scalzi (not a great book, but a good one)

Best Novella:
Don’t think I read one last year.

Best Short Story:
The Adventure of the Professor’s Bequest by Philip Purser-Hallard
The Adventure of the Decadent Headmaster by Nick Campbell
Wandering Stars by Ian Potter
City Of Dust by Aditya Bidakar
Iris, Chess-Mistress of Mars by Simon Bucher-Jones

Best Related Work:
The Annual Years – Paul Magrs
The Viewer’s Complete Tale – Andrew Rilstone
TARDIS Eruditorum Vol 5 – Phil Sandifer

Best Graphic Story
Cindy & Biscuit by Dan White
Loki: Agent of Asgard by Al Ewing/Lee Garbett/Various(
(I was going to nominate Multiversity and Sandman: Overture (the latter purely for the art) but neither finished in 2014, so they’ll have to be held over).

Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Nunkie Theatre – The Time Machine

Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
The Brenda and Effie Mysteries: The Woman in a Black Beehive (Bafflegab)

Best Professional Editor (Short Form)
Philip Purser-Hallard

Best Professional Editor (Long Form)
Don’t think I know who edits most novels. I would nominate Stuart Douglas, who’s editing my own novel at the moment, but I don’t think he meets the criteria.

Best Professional Artist
Frank Quitely
J.H. Williams III

Best Semiprozine
Not read any of these

Best Fanzine
Not read any of these

Best Fancast
SILENCE!

Best Fan Writer:
David Allison
Richard Flowers
Andrew Rilstone
Alex Wilcock
Abigail Nussbaum

Best Fan Artist
Dan White
Lawrence Burton
Blair Bidmead
Fraser Geesin
Calamity Jon Morris

Now, I have three problems with this list so far. The first is that it’s not full yet — there are a lot of empty spaces. The second is that there are almost no women, which *needs* to be rectified. And the third is that with the exception of Scalzi, Quitely, and Williams, these are all people with whom I’m at least friendly on the internet, and several are quite close friends. Now, it does happen that I count among my friends and acquaintances some ridiculously talented people, but it seems vanishingly unlikely that I know everyone who wrote anything decent last year.

So given my tastes, which *strongly* prioritise ideas over everything else (with plot, prose style, and characterisation coming in that order), and prefer humorous, clever, formally-experimental stuff to anything else, what came out last year that I should read before making my nominations, especially if it’s by a woman?

(I know about Ann Leckie. I keep bouncing off Ancillary Justice because it requires more concentration than I’ve been capable of in the last few months. I do intend to finish it at some point, but I can’t even *start* on Ancillary Sword until I’ve finished the first one…)

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California Dreaming: I Think It’s Going To Rain Today

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Hickey on January 22, 2015

After his initial lack of success as a performer, Randy Newman spent several years working as a jobbing songwriter for Metric Music, writing songs that were then recorded by artists as varied as Ella Fitzgerald, Manfred Mann, and the Everly Brothers. While he wrote several moderately successful songs (such as Simon Smith and the Dancing Bear, which the Alan Price Set took to the top five of the UK charts in 1967), nothing was as successful as his obvious talents would suggest.

Ruthann Friedman, on the other hand, was very successful. Windy had become only the third US number one record ever to be written by a woman on her own (Sharon Seeley had been the first, writing Poor Little Fool for Ricky Nelson; the second had been the Singing Nun with Dominique), and was well on its way to becoming one of the most successful singles of all time.

On top of this, a single put together under the name of the Garden Club by Tandyn Almer and his occasional collaborator Larry Marks, Little Girl Lost and Found, had featured Friedman on lead vocals, and while the track had not become a hit, it had gained enough airplay, especially in LA, that a live “Garden Club” was put together, featuring Friedman and her boyfriend Peter Kaukonen (brother of Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane).

So given that it had been proven that Friedman could write hits, and that she could sing lead on tracks that got airplay, it was unsurprising when she was signed by A&M records to record her own album. While her demos from the previous year, recorded with Curt Boettcher, had had a psychedelic sound not far from that of Jefferson Airplane or the Doors, by late 1967 she was writing quieter, gentler, songs that fit more with the sound she had established with Windy, and she was paired with members of the Wrecking Crew and producer Tommy LiPuma to put together what would surely be a smash hit album.

These sessions lasted over a year, and produced a handful of gems. Most of these were Friedman’s own compositions, and some were absolutely lovely. Country Song had something of the beauty of Judee Sill about it, while Birdie’s Blues (written for Birdie Guiguere, the wife of Russ Guiguere of the Association) combined Swingle-esque jazz and the psych-rock style Friedman had used earlier, and When You’re Near is a gorgeous Paul Williams-esque soft-pop ballad that could easily have been a massive hit.

But the two best tracks recorded during the sessions were actually cover versions. High Coin, by Van Dyke Parks, featured its composer on piano and as arranger, and was one of the best versions of that often-covered song, and an early indication of the kind of music Parks was to go on to make on his Song Cycle album.

The other cover version also featured its composer on piano. I Think It’s Going To Rain Today was the best song Randy Newman had written up to that point. The song had originally been recorded on a flop single by minor crooner Julius LaRosa, but had been picked up by folk singer Judy Collins, who had included it on her album In My Life, a rather intense collection of densely-orchestrated covers of songs by Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Brecht & Weill, Jacques Brel and others.

Collins’ album had popularised the song, and had led to several further recordings of the song, but her phrasing had rather obscured Newman’s simple melody. Friedman’s version, on the other hand, unlike Collions’ version (or, say, Eric Burdon’s funked-up take from around the same time), takes Newman’s song as it’s written, letting the heartbreaking beauty of the melody carry the track. Starting with just acoustic guitar backing, the track builds to a string arrangement that’s much like the one Newman would use a year later when he recorded the song for his own first solo album, Randy Newman, and a delicate rhythm section backing.

Sadly, Friedman’s album never came out. She became too obsessed with problems in her own personal life (her own assessment now, not me judging her), often phoning Peter Kaukonen during studio time rather than recording, out of a belief he was cheating on her. A&M dropped her, and while she would record an album, Constant Companion, in 1969, her moment had passed, and the fruits of her sessions from 1967 and 68 wouldn’t see the light of day for more than forty years.

I Think It’s Going To Rain Today

Composer: Randy Newman

Line-up: Ruthann Friedman (vocals, guitars), Michael Botts, Jim Gordon, and Hal Blaine (drums, percussion), Lyle Ritz and Joe Osborn (bass), Peter Kaukonen, Ron Elliott, Russ Titelman, and Mike Deary (guitars), Van Dyke Parks and Randy Newman (keyboards) [FOOTNOTE: Not all of these appear on the track; the credit on Windy: A Ruthann Friedman Songbook reads “Musicians on tracks 1-7 & 12-18 include:”, but no better credits are publicly available for the track. In particular, there are no credits for the string players.]

Original release: Windy: A Ruthann Friedman Songbook, Now Sounds CD CRNOW42

Currently available on:
Windy: A Ruthann Friedman Songbook, Now Sounds CD

Linkblogging For 21/1/15

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Hickey on January 21, 2015
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New Batposts up on Patreon and Mindless Ones

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Hickey on January 21, 2015

A few days late, because I took a week off non-work writing to rest my hands after a particularly vicious bout of RSI. Over on Patreon, the most wonderful, delightful, people in the world (those who pay me $1 a month or more) get to read my thoughts on A Riddle A Day Keeps The Riddler Away (not one of the more interesting episodes to talk about…), while on Mindless Ones, the scum who don’t even think I’m worth half the price of a small latte a month can read what I wrote a month ago about the first Joker story

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