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The Three-body Problem, and What America Can Learn from the Cultural Revolution

Science-fiction-inspired political action is my favourite kind.

Christoph Weber

I rarely write book reviews, but after reading The Three-body Problem I must yawp from my rooftop just how extraordinary this novel is, in the hope that others will experience the same mind-bending awe this masterpiece inspired in me.

The Three-body Problem is by no means slow, though it’s not exactly an action-packed, cliffhanger-type novel. I enjoy those as well, and I’ll highly recommend Red Rising if that’s what you’re looking for. But Liu Cixin didn’t need to blow shit up to keep me reading through the night: the sheer scope, originality, and power of his ideas do that job more than adequately.

The novel is set in China, largely in Beijing, a city in which I studied and worked for over a

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Happy Now?

I rarely, if ever, post political or world event thoughts on this blog. This is my place to discuss writing, books, creativity, and general geekiness. But I can’t remember ever having agreed so strongly with a blog post, so today I’m sharing this one.

Katyboo1's Weblog

It is day four in the Big Brexit house.

I had hoped after Friday’s absolute catastrophe of a day that the country might somehow magically rally over the weekend. I mean, when you plunge your country into possible ruin on the promise of a golden future that will allow it to rise like a phoenix from the flames, you have a plan, right?

As it turns out, you don’t. The only person that seems to have any plan at all, and be acting on it rather than just spouting meaningless Churchillian rhetoric is Nicola Sturgeon, and I can’t even vote for her.

I was distraught and angry on Friday. I had hoped to feel better by today. Instead I am running on barely controlled rage and getting more enraged by the moment.

Here are a few things I am furious about:

Firstly, leave voters telling me to calm down. I’m sorry…

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Proofreading for All!

I’m a writer who also happens to be a qualified proofreader and copy editor. Not all writers are grammar nuts or perfect spellers or great at spotting typos in their own work. Even those that are still miss things when they’ve been staring at the same manuscript for weeks/months/years on end. But having a polished manuscript is essential when submitting your work to traditional publishers. And having a perfect manuscript is crucial when self-publishing.

Increasing numbers of authors are opting to self-publish these days. The pros are obvious: your work’s out there, right away, for anyone to purchase, all under your own terms. You retain all rights. You bypass (or give up on) the gauntlet of rejection that comes with the traditional publishing route. You’re in complete control of marketing. You keep 100% of the book’s sale price.

Of course, you also have to pay your own publishing and marketing costs, you don’t have the contacts and confidence of a solid publisher behind you, you have to make significant sales in order to rise above the masses of self-published volumes out there, and you have to prepare the entire manuscript, as well as the cover and blurb, yourself.

There are some great writers choosing this route, and many self-published books deserve to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with traditionally published ones. A well-written, self-published novel should be indistinguishable from a well-written, traditionally published novel, but there’s a trend that makes many self-pubbed novels stand out against their traditional counterparts, for the wrong reasons. A traditionally published book will have been handled by a team of editors, proofreaders, copy editors and typesetters before it’s ever available for purchase. Most self-published books haven’t been given anything like this 5-star treatment, and too often, it shows.

At the very least, both writers and readers want books that are free of typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors. These issues are why proofreaders exist.

And that brings me to my point. I have an eagle eye for typos. Spelling has always come naturally to me, and I have a keen grasp of grammar. I want to help fellow writers produce polished, professional-looking manuscripts for self-publication so that their books stand a greater chance at holding their own alongside the traditionally published ones. I want to help those opting for the traditional route to submit work that is professional-looking from the outset. And I want to provide these services at a discounted, affordable rate.

Writing is hard work. It’s blood, sweat and tears. If you want your hard-earned creations to look as good as they possibly can before you send them out into the big, scary world, get in touch at:

proofyourwork [at] rocketmail [dot] com.

For more info, check out Proofreading & Copy Editing.

Pedantics #8

Wow, it’s dusty in here. Excuse me for a moment while I blow away some cobwebs.

*dusts*

*tidies*

*takes out the recycling*

Right. Now, where was I? Ah, yes… some good old fashioned pedantry for a Tuesday evening.

I don’t know when this particular grammatical misdemeanor started creeping into general use, but it seems to have been slow and insidious. I’m sure people didn’t all talk like this fifteen years ago, or even ten. But nowadays EVERYONE is making this mistake. All the time. It’s not an educational thing – I’ve heard university scholars and construction workers alike using it. It’s in mainstream media, down your local pub, in your own home

And it’s driving me crazy.

When did people stop using present participles properly? When did we start forgetting that verbs like ‘sit’ and ‘stand’ (the two most commonly abused in this way) only become ‘sat’ and ‘stood’ when they’re in the PAST TENSE?

I usually sit in this chair while writing.

Yesterday, I sat in this chair.

Right now, I am sitting in this chair.

Notice that? Am sitting? Notice how the past tense is sat?

Verb forms ending in ‘ing’ are present participles. They’re used in the present tense, with an auxiliary verb like ‘am’, ‘were’, or ‘was’, to show that the activity in question is or was ongoing. The ongoing part is key – that’s why it’s present tense and not past.

Past tense forms cannot be used in place of participles in a compound verb phrase. It is completely incorrect to say ‘I am sat in this chair.’ (Argh – it makes me cringe just writing that.) It is equally incorrect to say ‘I have been sat in this chair’, unless you mean that someone else has physically placed you in the chair.

If it’s ongoing activity, you are sitting. Or standing. You are not sat. Or stood. Present participles are important. They’re incredibly precise ways of communicating exactly when and how something took place.

I have been sitting in this chair for several hours. ‘I have been sat’ would make no sense. ‘Sat’ is past tense. Confusingly, ‘I was sitting’ is not past tense, but past progressive tense, using a present participle. Yeah… I can see your eyes glazing over now, so never mind all the different convolutions. The point is, if it’s happening right now, it’s not past tense. If it was happening yesterday, and you’re describing it in an ongoing way, it’s not past tense. You need an ‘ing’ ending on those verbs.

Most verbs are thankfully never misused this way. If in doubt, substitute ‘sat’ or ‘stood’ with another past tense verb. Try ‘cooked’.

I am sitting cooking. Yes.

I am sat cooked. Well… maybe if someone put you on a barbecue, but I doubt you’d be speaking any form of grammar at that point. So, no.

Please, people. This is a desperate plea.

STOP USING PAST TENSE VERBS FOR ONGOING ACTIVITY!

Thank you. That is all.