Massive Links for Clicking Pleasure

Petty larceny time! I’m stealing an hour of your life by giving you the heads up about Literature Map. Name an author, see the orbit of other authors similar to that one. Keep clicking. Look up – it’s an hour later.


Book CoverOrbit has a new book available for one crispy American dollar, or one folded up, soft and fuzzy American dollar, which ever you have. This month: Iain M. Banks’ Use of Weapons.

(Is it me or is the use of additional vowels in names like “Iain” and “Niall” somehow intriguing?)

Visit for details. (And coming up in May? Rardin! Rar!)

Flag on the play! Shawn Amos at, for unneccessary roughness and roughing the kicker, 15 yard penalty.

There’s a place for cheesy love songs. It’s right alongside Lifetime movies, high school poetry, and Harlequin novels. All of them take perfectly valid, real emotions and inflate them to such histrionic heights that all the love is replaced with syrupy cliches. And cavities. Subtlety has no place in a cheesy ballad. Every emotion is supersized. Super sincerity, super compassion, super feeling, super togetherness. It’s a super-sensitive nightmare living in that musical purgatory called “adult contemporary” or “soft rock.”

Yes, yes, there are certainly novels out there with histrionic supersized telegraphed emotions in the narrative. These are the novels I’m likely to avoid, or, barring that, shake a finger at for being annoying.

Furthermore, “More than Words” by Extreme may be cheezy, but it’s sneaky-pants subversive as a power ballad, because underneath all the harmony and the acoustic guitar is a straight up plead for some mad, bad fucking. If you listen to the lyrics, the dude is saying, “If you really want me to believe that you love me, fuck me already. Or, a blow job at least. Come on, now. Literally.”

That section alone gives me reassurance that Mr. Amos wouldn’t know subversion if it bit him on the ass while singing some Air Supply.

[Thanks to Aubrey for the link.]

To wash that bad taste out of your mouth, enjoy this interesting link, courtesy of Nana, about a very sexy Martha Washington, First Lady of the first American president, George Washington. Not only was she mighty intelligent and quite a stylish lady, but she was a fan of romance novels.

Contrary to popular opinion, Martha was not fat when she married George, Lengel said, adding that she loved reading Gothic romance novels and was a much sought-after diminutive beauty who handily managed five plantations left to her when her first husband died.

Portraying Martha as dumpy served to foster a sense of legitimacy for the fledgling nation, said Emily Shapiro, a curator at Mount Vernon, the Washington home near Alexandria, Va.

“The country was still so young,” she said. “I think it was reassuring to see its leaders as older, distinguished, stately and gray-haired people.”

I don’t know if grey and stately wins points with me, though I’m am an odd sample. I must say, that portrait of Martha Washington, coupled with her land management acumen and her love of gothic romance,  makes me way, WAY more curious about her. To say nothing of the purple sequin high heels!

[Thanks also to SonomaLass via Scalzi for the link.]



The Link-O-Lator

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  1. 1
    Val says:

    In case anyone is curious about other forms of entertainment, a ven diagram-ish website for music and movies similar to the literature one linked above is called

    Unfortunately, it too has gaping holes in artists, particularly if you like more obscure bands like I do. But both are great resources when looking for gifts for people whose tastes you know.

  2. 2
    Lyra says:

    Ooo, I’ve read Banks’ Player of Games and greatly enjoyed it. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. 3
    Courtney S. says:

    This is so funny, I am currently reading a biography about Martha Washington with the painting from the link on it.
    It is by historian Patricia Brady and tells a very different story of Martha. It is great!

  4. 4
    Ros says:

    Which do you think is the extra vowel in Niall?  I pronounce them both.  The extra l at the end, however, is doing nothing but using up ink.

  5. 5
    Rhian says:

    Use of Weapons is a very good book, just as Banks is a very good writer. I’d buy it like a shot if I didn’t have it already and was in the USA!

  6. 6
    Meggrs says:

    The literature map is fascinating. I typed in Nora Roberts, and not only did JD Robb show up twice, but Laurell K. Hamilton’s name appeared three times!


  7. 7
    SonomaLass says:

    Curse you, SB Sarah!  I will never get back that hour of my life.  Neither will any of the people to whom I plan to forward this link.  The connections are endlessly fascinating.  As Meggrs said, sometimes names appear multiple times in the same map. I think that’s a punctuation issue—I see Laurell K. Hamilton with and without the period after K, and Marion Zimmer Bradley twice, one of which is incorrectly hyphenated.

  8. 8
    Sandy Beck says:

    I typed in Jo Beverley, and almost all of my favorite authors turned up. Glad I’m consistent in my tastes!

  9. 9

    I love the name Iain…I believe it’s the Scottish spelling for Ian.  I just know my clan’s laird is named Iain and I always thought “I need to one day write a hero with that name.

  10. 10
    Melinda says:

    OK This is weird about the literature map, I typed in author Sandra Hill since I’m reading one of her books, and amongst the other romance authors, and very close to the center, was Isaac Asimov. How in the world is Sandra Hill’s writing anything like Isaac Asimov’s writing? The web page says

    The closer two writers are, the more likely someone will like both of them.

    So people who like Sandra Hill will like Isaac Asimov?

  11. 11
    mirain says:

    Does the map have some sort of live feed? It seems to be constantly in flux. And I’m with Melinda on finding some of the mapping not so convincing… People who like Robin McKinley wouldn’t like Susan Cooper, Emma Bull, or Diana Wynne Jones? I like them all and I think the people I know who read any of them generally like the others.

  12. 12
    Liz says:

    I’m so glad someone else realizes what Extreme’s “More Than Words” is about!  All my girlfriends swooned over it when it came out and I tried to tell them what he was really saying, but they ignored me.  Didn’t our mothers warn us not to fall for the guy who tried to tell us “If you really loved me, you’d do me”?  But put it in a power ballad and suddenly it’s the height of romantic.

  13. 13

    I put my name in there

    because I’m laaaaaame

    and some weird results came up.

  14. 14
    sadieloree says:

    SB Sarah… funny you mention extra vowels. My son’s middle name is Eoin (pronounced Owen), which my hubs would not let me use as a first name for fear of future persecution and phoenic nightmares.  So he got stuck with Wyatt…

    Liz—If they couldn’t figure out what the song meant on an album titled “Pornograffitti”, then it was their own fault. lol

  15. 15
    ev says:

    When they put that literature map on the computers at Border’s we lost lots of time playing with it. Some of the results would have us in hysterics.

  16. 16
    Cat Marsters says:

    I was fairly amused to see Jennifer Crusie and Jenny Crusie come up on opposite sides of the map.  Such different authors, you know.  And I was just baffled why Jane Austen appeared on Terry Pratchett’s map.

  17. 17

    she was a fan of romance novels

    The blurb I want on my next book would be from John Adams. Yes, that John Adams. I’m reading Cokie Roberts’ Ladies of Liberty (highly recommended) and ran across a line that made me grin real hard:

    “But they didn’t lead a retired life…John Adams, so accustomed to having Abigail run everything, took to reading romance novels, much to his wife’s amazement, and continued to rely on her to manage their finances.”

    I’d love to know what he was reading!

  18. 18
    SonomaLass says:

    The Literature Map is a relational database program.  It is based on data that has been put in—you tell the AI three authors that you like, and then it suggests a series of other authors, to which you can respond “like” “don’t like” or “don’t know.” That information goes into the database and affects the map.  So Jane Austen appears on Terry Pratchett’s map (which surprised me not at all—I read and like them both, don’t you?) because some people said they liked both.

    If two names show up on the same map, that means some readers liked both.  If a name isn’t on the map at all, it means that not enough people said they liked both (either answered “don’t like” or “don’t know”).

    As for the different names, that’s from people putting in different spellings of the same author.  I think there’s a project underway to identify and consolidate those, but I’m not sure of the details.

    If you want to be “interviewed” for your preferences, you can go here and click the “let’s go” link in the box headed Gnod’s Suggestions.  Takes very little time, and you can contribute more than once.  You can put in authors you like from the same genre, or (if you are like me) you can put in three that you like from very different genres to create more surreal maps.

  19. 19
    Ms Manna says:

    If you listen to the lyrics, the dude is saying, “If you really want me to believe that you love me, fuck me already. Or, a blow job at least. Come on, now. Literally.”

    Ooh, cool.  I’d never looked at it like that.  I always saw it as ‘don’t think you can make up for hurting my feelings by saying you love me—it only counts if you act like you do, too’.  Just goes to show how differently you can interpret lyrics.  (Mind you, I don’t know why I didn’t see it the other way, too, given how many other songs there are themed around ‘if you reeeeeeeeally loved me, you’d put out’.)

  20. 20
    Shreela says:

    Is it me or is the use of additional vowels in names like “Iain” and “Niall” somehow intriguing?

    Not really. But the title of this post was.
    (even if it does come after three different blog titles)

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