Margaret R. Taylor's Blog

June 22, 2016

Thanks to the positive response my last post got, I’ve put the source code for The Layers of English up on GitHub. You can find it here:

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Published on June 22, 2016 18:22

June 20, 2016

The English language is a wonderful mess. After centuries where England got invaded by Romans*, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, and Normans, and then the nineteenth century where the English turned around and colonized one quarter of Earth’s landmass, the language has words from all over the world. English speakers seem to love picking up everybody else’s words whenever we come into contact with them.

English words come from three main sources. The oldest are the Germanic words from the Angles, Saxo...

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Published on June 20, 2016 00:42 • 2 views

June 15, 2016

Leckie_AncillaryJustice_TPThe main character is a spaceship. And she is hell bent on revenge.

It is not the plot that makes Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie shine – the above is all there is to know about it. Nor is it the setting, which is standard space opera fare. It’s the technical mastery it takes to write a first-person novel from the point of view of an AI hive mind. In some of the early chapters Leckie writes from the first person omniscient. I didn’t even know you could do that. Look:

“Is she coming or not? If...

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Published on June 15, 2016 08:19 • 1 view

June 11, 2016

I went to a wedding at the Franconia Sculpture Park last week.












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Published on June 11, 2016 00:00 • 3 views

May 22, 2016

968850They are the only two immortals in the word: Anyanwu, an Ibo woman who can repair her body at will, and Doro, a spirit who possesses bodies and devours souls. They hate each other with a passion; the loneliness of immortality makes them need each other.

I’ve kept hearing Octavia Butler’s stuff is really good. I only waited this long to read something of hers because I didn’t know where to start. Butler broke into print in 1976 with Patternmaster then wrote successive prequels to it. Wild Seed...

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Published on May 22, 2016 23:10 • 6 views

April 13, 2016

A_Fire_Upon_the_Deep.bookcoverA book set in a galaxy with a peculiar quirk of physics: the closer to the galactic core you get, the less intelligence and stock science fiction goodies like faster-than-light travel are possible. A group of explorers punch into the galactic edge, the Transcend, and wake up a five-billion-year-old Blight that likes to eat souls.

A Fire Upon the Deep is two books, really. One book is a space opera in which Ravna Bergensdot and Pham Nuwen race to find a cure for the Blight. The other book is a...

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Published on April 13, 2016 23:39 • 6 views

March 29, 2016

This all started because I saw an ad on the back of a magazine. The ad was for a DNA assembling machine and featured a woman looking at a tiny vial of amber liquid, which seemed oddly specific. Where could a biotech company get such a picture? Vu was there and he said it was probably a stock photo. Pictures of scientists looking at liquid are everywhere.

So I checked.

Pictures of scientists looking at liquid are everywhere. These are some of my favorites from a Google image search for “scient...

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Published on March 29, 2016 23:07 • 6 views

March 11, 2016

This is deliciously retro.

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Published on March 11, 2016 08:33 • 4 views

January 24, 2016

153008Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey isn’t for everyone. Be forewarned that the main character is a prostitute, BDSM is her specialty, and there are lots of explicit sex scenes. That didn’t bother me, but it can be pretty divisive.

In an alternate history Europe, Mary Magdalene and Christ have a child by magic. Their son Elua wanders the earth with some fallen angel disciples, preaching free love, and eventually settles in alternate France. The religions of this Europe are a mishmash of free-lo...

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Published on January 24, 2016 22:50 • 8 views

January 10, 2016

What is a Mary Sue?

Mary Sue is a problem that tends to happen when we writers are just starting to learn the craft. A writer wants to make a character AWESOME, but she doesn’t know how to do it, so she slaps a bunch of AWESOME characteristics onto the character, like an unusual hair color, a dark and troubled past, unbeatable fighting skills. And the AWESOME character starts to look suspiciously like the writer herself…

Kate Feete wrote an insightful quiz to determine whether you are getting...

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Published on January 10, 2016 22:49 • 12 views