Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Analog - October 2012 - Vol. CXXXII No. 10

After such beautiful issue as September's I eagerly expected another great issue. Unfortunately my expectations were broken very soon as I found October's issue pretty dull and not worth the cover price.
Analog this month gives us three novelettes and five short stories of which the best one is "The Journeyman: on the short-grass prairie" by Micheal F. Flynn which is a good story about a knight and a battle between the stars.
I found the cover story, "The liars" by Juliette Wade, was pretty much awful. I honestly had difficulty reading it through as the story didn't make much sense to me. The editors found it worthy, I did not so I guess it's just a matter of tastes.
"Ambidextrose" by Jay Werkheiser and "The end in Eden" by Stven Utley are pretty ingenious and enjoyable to read, but they are also poorly developed.
"Deer in the garden" by Michael Alexander is a nice dystopian story, but again it is another missed hit as the story has a "someone-already-did-this" feeling. I find that dystopian stories are important, and I love them, so I enjoyed reading it but someone else may find it too simplistic.
"Nothing but vacuum" by Edward McDermott is classical sci-fi with a pinch of sadness added to it. I think the formula works and I would like to see a longer story with the same concepts.
"Nahiku West" by Linda Nagata is an interesting story among the stars, but once again it doesn't deliver as it wanders around in its plot.
"Reboot and saddles" by Carl Frederick was funny to read. I have to admit that coming out with the idea of electronic - hackable -horse saddles is pretty interesting.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: "Analog" - September 2012 - Vol. CXXII, no. 9

The last issue of "Analog - Science Fiction and Fact" is better than what I expected. Usually I like one story or, at most, two. This time, I liked them all but only one by Brad Aiken is truly outstanding.

"Done that, never been there" by Brad Aiken is what science fiction is all about, especially for short stories. It is a murder mystery with strong technological implications and believable characters. It is a futuristic Sherlock Holmes in which deduction is the pillar over which the story is built. In addition, it provides a decent dose of adventure which is uncommon for 'brainy' stories. Good job Mr. Aiken.
I completely disagree with Locus's review, I found the story between Roger Bennett and Doris a good subplot - but it should have been developed a little bit more - which gave more depth to the main character.

"Elmira, 1895" by Michael F. Flynn... what if Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling not only discussed alien forms and spaceships but also dealt with them? This is a nice story featuring two great artists, definitely worth reading.

"The voices" by Alec Nevala-Lee is my least favorite in this issue. January, the main character, hears voices and is under therapy. She interacts with the voices and issues come along...

"Rent in space" by Susan Forest is about black holes in your own backyard. Well, they are not really black holes and they are in an office and in an apartment, however they can... be used as nuclear waste disposals. Is it a good idea or not?

"The long view" by Jerry Oltion narrates a moon landing in which the astronauts find an alien time capsule. The idea is pretty good but the story unfolds boringly and at times it seems as if the author is trying to pontificate "peace and love", which isn't a bad thing per se if done well.

"Mythunderstanding" by Carl Frederick is a ridiculous story on a church trying to evangelize/conquer alien planets and forms of life. It is enjoyable and funny enough to be read, but I would not consider it a masterpiece.
Analog Website: http://www.analogsf.com

Done That, Never Been There by Brad Aiken
Elmira, 1895 by Michael F. Flynn
The Voices by Alec Nevala-Lee
Rent in Space by Susan Forest
Mythunderstanding by Carl Frederick
The Long View by Jerry Oltion
Sigma: Summing Up Speculation by Arlan Andrews, Sr.
The Editor's Page
In Times to Come
The Alternate View
by Jeffery D. Kooistra
The Reference Library by Don Sakers
Brass Tacks
Upcoming Events by Anthony Lewis

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tang Soo Do: The injury and the poem.

A while ago I read a poem.
“I fight.Not simply with my opponent. I fight  With the demons of doubt, With my exhaustion, With my past failures, With my injuries, With my anonymity, With the unrelenting voice that tells me to stop. But I am a fighter.And one thing is sure: I will be victorious.”

I simply love this poem because it encompasses all the problems that a martial artist - from the Bruce Lee-Chuck Norris-Van Damme-cool-and-strong-guy type to the most out of shape-sucky-guy  type like me - will face.
When I joined my Tang Soo Do dojan, as with many other activities, I did not realize how difficult it would be. The most important thing I failed to understand is that the difficulty is not only physical, but mental too.
It is incredibly hard to go and practice after a tiring or boring day at work. It is hard to kick and punch without a decent physical flexibility. Much of it is often discouraging; I find myself asking “what am I doing in this dojan? I am overweight, I am not flexible and my core strength would be considered a joke by most human beings, let alone martial artists!”. I feel mental and physical pain many times, but luckily my family and most of my fellow practitioners are supportive and amazing.
Right now, I am injured. The doc told me I have plantar fasciitis and, as he described, some “internal bruises” in my foot. A google search would confirm how common it is and how painful it could be (get informed and find what to do to prevent it, such as good shoes and stretching). It is not a tragedy, but still something that gets in the way of life. When I asked the doc about martial arts he told me that I will have to avoid any martial arts training for at least a month, then if pain is gone I might try to practice using shoes with arch support. Otherwise I will have to wait at least three months before I can come back. He was happy that I went to see him as soon as the problem started showing, but he was very afraid that it could get out of control. Apparently plantar fasciitis is very unpredictable and subjective; many people were left out of their favorite training even for several years.

Here’s the thing. How will I react? I have never been consistent; sometimes I would miss two weeks of training in a row, sometimes I would go there every day. Life and spur of the moment get in the middle sometimes.
But today, I want to react. This small, stupid, common, injury made me think about the need for a change. Radical changes will be needed in diet, training, and especially, mentality. I weight about between 180 and 185lbs. I have to reach 160-165lbs. And most of the fat I don’t lose will need to become some sort of muscular tissue.
So here, I have two choices:
1)      Wait three months, don’t practice, stay in front of the TV and just wait while I slowly turn into a potato.
2)      Exploit and insult this injury, by training, losing weight, gaining some muscles and flexibility.
I hereby declare that I will take the second option. I know that my family and tang soo do friends will support me even on this journey.
Basically, I will use this time off… to get better! No distractions, no complications. There is only one goal: to get better.
This is how I have to see myself:


I will have to not worry even if I will probably look like this:

So, here’s what I am planning (my other plan, the writing routine plan, is perfectly working. I am at almost 5000 words and I am probably 10/15 days ahead than planned). I will go to the gym every week day - It doesn’t matter if it is for 15 minutes or 2 hours because what I need the most right now is a routine - and I will do one or more of the following:
a.       Cycling (doesn’t affect plantar fasciitis)
b.      Elliptical
c.       Swimming
d.      Stretching
e.      Lift weights (upper body only at first and very light weight training for legs if I don’t feel any pain)

In addition I will change my diet but without being paranoid. A good steak or a good barbecue might not be the best and leanest choices but they might bring some happiness, which is a necessary element in any effort, even if it requires more gym work. Breakfasts will have to be more nutritious and a more positive attitude.
If I don’t have any problem after two weeks I will start throwing punches at the punching bag at the dojan, pivoting my feet and snapping the waist as I should but without any jump.
This is what fighting with my past failures and with my injuries means; I will make the unrelenting voice stop telling me to stop. And when I go back to train, I will be better than when I left. This is what a martial artist does and this is the most important teaching I learn from the higher belts in my dojan;  I just hope to be able to do it. Wish me luck.