Book Review: A Calculated Life by Ann


This Story is Brilliant!

Reading Charnock’s novel, “A Calculated Life” gives me that quintessential reader – story relationship where I can, from the start, SEE the story in my mind’s eye, as if it were an actual movie. The characters, the action, the dialogue and the setting are all so well written and accessible that the imagery just springs to life throughout the entire novel. In every real sense, you don’t read this book, you dive in and immerse yourself for a while, and then climb back out. All the best books are this way.Even the interplay of the numbers, as statistics play a strategic role in the story, can be viewed as different forces pushing and pulling against each other, whether they are energy statistics, or stickbugs, citrus, olfactory, sexual experience.

This is at once one of the most human stories, and one of the best A.I. stories I have ever read. I won’t go into a full plot summary, because so many others have provided them, but I will say the author does a superb job addressing questions of :
What does it mean to be human?
What incredible benefits do humans take for granted? What do humans do that makes no sense?
How would humans deal with android perfection?
Can humans and androids love each other?
What happens when humans are jealous of androids ?What happens when androids become more human?
What rights, if any, do androids have to continuity of their personality? (Keep their experiences and memories especially if they lead to sentience ).

The term android is used generally here to indicate the use of hardware, software and biology together to form an individual.

Highly Recommended for intelligent readers interested in a sophisticated story with glorious characters, relevant themes, active use of statistical results to drive the story forward, arcane yet fascinating details, interesting backstories and generally a thumping good read!


How I Feel About People Who Discourage Writing

I echo the author when he says “When people tell me I can’t, I say Fuck off, watch me!” I hate defeatism of any type, but when it comes to writing and reading books, it makes me livid. Just because you’ve failed at something doesn’t give you the right to discourage others who may succeed brilliantly. The article below states things with passion and intelligence. What a wonderful piece.


There will be bad language. Emotive subject.

When I’m trying to find interesting pieces to read, I’ll search through WordPress’s categories and tags. Often, I find some very inspiring, well-written and enjoyable posts. But yesterday, I read something that made me want to throw my dog through the computer screen. And I don’t even own a dog.

Writing is a beautiful thing and should be encouraged. You might hate E.L. James, but at least she thought ‘Hang on, I have an urge to write a Twilight-inspired trilogy about bondage and asshole fingering,’ and she did it. So when you see the sunburnt Brits, sitting around a pool at the all-inclusive in Tenerife, thumbing through their dog-eared copies of Fifty Shades, this is a good thing. Why? Because people are reading. And reading is good. Unless it’s the Daily Mail, of course.

It irks me when I stumble across articles discouraging…

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Seeing An Entirely Different Way

ForestDarkWe were walking through our forest one afternoon, and I came across something that looked just like a faerie circle. It was a circle of mushrooms they tell about in storybooks. There are stories of people crossing the circle and entering the world of Faerie itself, never to return. Of course, if the faeries do let you return, it will be decades, later, and you will be the same age as when you left. Back in historical times you would be accused of witchcraft, and burned at the stake. In this day and age, the government will just cart you away to a hidden lab somewhere to do endless tests to determine what makes you stay ageless .  No one would ever see you again. Same difference.

My husband laughed at me when I mentioned it.

He said, “Melinda, put on your glasses,” which is what I did.

It was not a faerie circle, it was simply some tree fungus on some fallen logs that looked like mushrooms. No trip to Faerie. I was saved from being a government lab rat. It is amazing what a little blurry vision will do combined with an active imagination. I still take walks without my glasses to see if I can find something unusual out in the forest. Every once in a while, I still find something.

On Teaching the Graphic Novel

This is the perfect description of both the graphic novel and of comics. For anyone who wants to get involved with this genre, take a peek at the list in this post, and look up some of the graphic novels and comics that he suggests. It is quite a long list.

The one thing that I did not know that I found amazing, is that the drawings are able to provide a visual illusion or pun that prose cannot, and therefore is a medium all unto itself. This is an incredibly valuable piece by a college professor at Amherst who taught Graphic Novels as a class.


About once a month, I get asked by a colleague or friend for the syllabus I used to teach my seminar on the Graphic Novel at Amherst. Included below is a list of the texts that I used to teach students. In that seminar I allowed optional creative exercises and finals, and that led to me teaching tutorials in the making of comics, which led to me advising two graphic novel theses to summa honors. I’m very proud of those students, who were both also awarded the English Department’s prize for best thesis. Amherst’s English department was very generous and supportive in the teaching I did there throughout, and I’m incredibly grateful for the hard work of all of my students.

I taught the class as an experiment, even an expedition of a kind, and so it was never the same every time. I began teaching it because more graphic novels…

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How Many Novels Can There Be?

This post is so very interesting. Don’t get put off by the math. Everyone asks about word count. How many words do you write a day. How long will you novel/novella/short story be? It is all about words. It is thought provoking to see it laid out in black and white the number of novels that could possibly be written – of course, some of those wouldn’t make much sense, but that is taken into account. Don’t worry about the math. You aren’t forced to actually solve those nasty equations. I know it gives people heart palpitations when they see powers, and whatnot.

It was also interesting to know that a prediction was made about computers writing books. Clearly the author has a solid background in technology, because the reasoning was based on solid facts. Next time you see a computer with an imagination, let me know, I will be the first to buy one.

So enjoy the post,

Sublime Curiosity

I like reading. I like writing. When you’ve been writing for a while, you start to get really obsessed with word counts. Anybody you talk to about publishing something you’ve written will want to know your word count. For short fiction, you sometimes get paid by the word. And the number of words in the thing you’ve written determines whether it counts as a short story, a novella, a novel, as War and Peace, or as an encyclopedia.

Every year, I participate in National Novel-Writing Month. Unless, you know, I don’t feel like it. But I’ve participated more years than not, and I’ve produced a surprising number of novels. Every single one of them terrible, but that’s not NaNoWriMo’s fault. The goal in NaNoWriMo is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. And I got to thinking: how many novels that length are

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