22 October 2007

[liff] The People You Meet In Coffee Houses

1036. Some time ago I mentioned how I was looking forward to the release of the first volume of S.M. Stirling's second Emberverse trilogy, a book entitled The Sunrise Lands. Latterly, income being what it is, there was no chance of buying a copy, we were waiting for it to come out in paperback (we like collecting paperbacks) and while I'd gotten myself on the hold list at MultCoLib, I've not moved very far up in the listings.

So it was that The Wife™ and myself were going to a place called Coffee Romance on SE Powell Blvd at 82nd Avenue–in the shopping center that contains the local Food4Less store–and found the place fairly packed.

Coffee Romance is a cool place. It's run by this Asian fellow whose name I keep forgetting and they have delicious coffee and snacks and stuff like that. They use Buckmaster Coffee (at least I think that's their brand) and have just about every flavor of syrup that exists.

Anyway, we notice that there are very few places left to sit, and somewhat suddenly this rather large, hirsute fellow with hair marginally longer than mine (and more bangs–for which I'm envious) invites us over, saying that there are two seats open across the table from him, which there are.

He's a welcoming presence. We found that we eventually started filtering into each others spaces, he and us, and he (predictably–in retrospect–named "Tiny" (seriously, if you'd seen him and we told you he called himself Tiny you'd say "well, of course he does")) happened to be reading S.M.S.'s Island In The Sea Of Time. Now, if one doesn't know, the premise begun in the novels that depend from this one is that an unexplained and inexplicable event causes the island of Nantucket, off Massachusetts, to be transported back to the year 1250BC, and how the inhabitants of Nantucket deal with having modern tools and attitudes in that year (they evolve into the center of a hegemon in the British Imperial style).

Talk eventually drifted into the Emberverse, and what it was: the flip side of the Nantucket story cycle coin–the Emberverse is the world that Nantucket left behind, one devoid of 250 years of technological advance because electricity no longer flows, internal combustion engines no longer work, anything "high-energy"–more powerful than, say, the electrical impulses that power your neurons–has been rendered suddenly inoperative.

I'm a fan of it because it takes place here–the main setting of the story (so far) has been the northern Willamette Valley. Portland becomes the center of a neofeudal tyranny, Corvallis becomes a ruthlessly-mercantile democracy, a warrior-king republic is established centered on the Eola Hills west of Salem, and greater Linn and eastern Marion Counties become the domain of a neo-Celtic "clan-ocracy" in an idealized medieval Irish style. This newest novel, The Sunrise Lands, begins as the generation who was being born or who were young children at the time of "The Change" is coming of age–most of them think of our technological times as something of legend.

I digress wildly. There will be time to write of this later. The point was, after chatting about Nantucket and the Emberverse and after I had mentioned that I was looking foward to reading TSL, Tiny mentioned that he had the book in his truck, and would I like to borrow it?

Mind you, I'd never seen this guy–interesting and affable as he was–in my life. But he's a regular at Coffee Romance, and he said that after I'd finished the book, I could leave it there and it would get back to him.

There must be something basic about our shared natures that appealed to each other on a subliminal level. It's interesting that sometimes you just know that a fellow you've never met will be a convivial sort (and, of course, that sense has its own error rate), and when that sense hits the mark, it hits it hard.

So now, thanks to Tiny, I'm reading TSL, and enjoying it muchly. If you like S.M. Stirling, and you like the Emberverse, you'll like this book, and it hints at some possible promising resolutions to the reality of the Emberverse.

And the fellow's never saw me before...and he trusts me with his book.

We love Coffee Romance, of course.

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6 comments:

S.M. Stirling said...

Glad you're enjoying them! Writing them is even more fun, I think, but necessarily slower.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

And thank you for stopping by! One of the things I love about the intermets is that if I say that I like someone's work they may well hear that I said it. Getting a "Hallo" from that artist is just a bonus.

As to the speed of production, necessary or not, I can only opine with the words Isaac Asimov is said to have uttered as to what he'd do if he were told by doctors that he had 6 months to live: "Type faster!"

Seriously, though, your Emberverse stories have several touchpoints: one, you've obviously done a lot of homework on Oregon and the Willamette Valley, and the feelings I get when I read your descriptions of the territory ring true, brought on by a lifetime's experience being born and growing up in these parts–I read a certain fondness for this area, and as a local, I appreciate that; two, it's been said the characters in the story are compelling, and it's true; me and mine have had the pleasure of seeing Juniper...er, 'scuse me...Heather Alexander in live performance and your riff on her as the Mackenzie character is inspired; three, of course, the whole concept of the story is intensely interesting.

The point at which the series really moved in to my head to live permanently was, sometime in TPW, I think, when Juniper and her entourage are making their way across ruined Salem on their way from Larsdalen to Dun Juniper and pause on (what I assume was) the Center Street Bridge to view the log jam that had collected there, thence to come up against Baron Liu's Protectorate party out near where I pictured was Salem's airport. Even though you hadn't mentioned the route, I pictured one near enough (Center Street, 24th Street NE, State Street, Airport Rd SE, and Turner Rd, with the meeting near a place called Cascades Gateway Park). Envisioning a deserted and ruined Salem, where I grew up, really put emotional punch to it. it was good up til then. It was great afterwards.

I see I've gone on quite a bit. To summarize: great story, fellow, and type faster, man, type faster! B-)

S.M. Stirling said...

Well, I always check a scene with a native when I can -- I've got several Oregonians as first readers.

And Google Earth helps a lot... 8-).

More are on the way.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Looking forward to whatever you have coming up there, sir. I am hooked.

Anonymous said...

would you kindly tell your cat fan #1 lying bullshitter strayer cat eyes to quit going online and lying about not having a doctor??? the rest of us seem to have no problem calling the physician referral service for a doctor if in need. miss i go online and bitch and whine and moan and groan for attention and sympathy does not understand or care about the basics;....but instinctively i know that you will waste no time to you know..delete my truthful post here at you know whose instruction...have fun

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Well, I don't know, "Anonymous".

I suppose I'd be offended if only I knew what the hell it was you were whining about.

So you have a problem with something Strayer said? Why should I give a damn?

I don't know Strayer, but I do know she, like the rest of us, have our own problems, and deal with them our own ways. Some of us cry about it on line. If you don't like it, don't read her blog. If you insist on reading her blog and don't like what she says, then suck it.

For all her faults, she does a hell of lot of good, probably more than you (whoever you are) have ever done for anyone save yourself. If I had money left after getting bled dry over bills, I'd donate.

"delete my truthful post"? Truth about what? The only truth I see here is that maybe someone missed their medication–either that, or here's just another bully talking trash about someone you, for some reason, don't like.

I'm not deleting you're post–I've been pushed around and I know what its like. Your words deserve to stay up here, to show the rest of the world what an anonymous, cowardly bully acts like.

If I used too many long words for you to understand, here's the gist of this response:

Screw off.