J. Martin

May 22, 2022

Before Concluding, Let Me Briefly

Last week, I got another booster shot, met old friends, and spent most of my time in interminable meetings. They weren’t bad or unproductive or anything—just interminable. Then again, some individual contributions were strongly reminiscent of this classic Calvin & Hobbes cartoon. Sigh. Students, it must be said, are also often carried ...
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May 15, 2022

What Year Is This?

I surfaced last Friday for my first free day since late March, all the weekends included, after brutal lecture blocks at two universities, bachelor exams, and tons of other stuff I wasn’t able to put off. I celebrated the occasion by chasing a substantial burrito with tortilla chips and a bottle of Corona beer—my first alcoholic bevera...
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May 8, 2022

One More Week

Somehow, my larynx survived another week with 20+ hours’ worth of lectures plus oral exams without collapsing, but it was so critical at times that I switched from black coffee to hot lemon, tea, and honey. That drastically lowered my body’s caffeine levels, of course, which in turn exacerbated a migraine attack on Wednesday to levels ...
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May 1, 2022

Hello *taps larynx* Is This On

Oh great. Last Friday, after 24 hours of lectures that week plus one full day of oral exams for bachelor’s degrees, my voice broke away. I felt like being five minutes away from a full-scale laryngitis—with two more weeks to go at lecture speeds of 20 and 18 hrs/week, respectively, plus oral exams. After that, things will finally settl...
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April 24, 2022

A Train on Speed

My days are not just packed. They are coupled together into an infinite string of railroad cars, pulled by a deranged train engine, screaming along without respite from a clouded past into a distant future. Which reminds me that—at an art exhibition in Basel, Switzerland, a long time ago—I saw H. R. Giger’s original train model that wa...
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April 17, 2022

Rant Ahead

Many of those who pursue an academic carrier, me included, become a bit territorial along the way. That can be a bad thing, of course. You can begin to deny that people outside academia have brilliant and innovative ideas too, including in your own field. You can cease to reflect on yourself and your work and fall prey to déformation p...
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April 10, 2022

I Need a Vacation

Weekend before last, pressed for time for a book proposal I’d promised to hand in by Monday, I worked through from Friday night to Monday morning. That had become necessary because the week before, I’d done something really stupid. I’d taken hydrocortisone prescription drugs for three days to reduce possible middle-ear inflammation. Th...
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April 3, 2022

A Belated Anniversary

After sending off my newsletter last week, the question popped up in my head about how long I had been writing them. A few months, at most; or that was what I thought. When I flipped through them to the beginning and counted, it turned out the number was fifty-four, adding up to more than a year. One year! So while I never missed writi...
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March 27, 2022

Parrots and Putins

If some of your most stridently held beliefs were suddenly publicly supported by, say, Stalin or Charlie Manson, one would think it should give you pause. Like it should give pause to that reprehensible billionaire TERF Queen, who just got a publicity boost from Vladimir Putin. Or all those white Christian evangelical Republicans, whos...
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March 20, 2022

The Trick Is to Keep Breathing

Keeping the entire range of relevant emotions alive in the face of outrageous cruelty and suffering on an incomprehensible scale is exhausting. Over time, it wears you down. Internal strategies kick in—cutting yourself off from the news, adapting a false sense of optimism, convincing yourself that all is lost in any case, creating excu...
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March 13, 2022

Alignments of Evil

For several years, I’ve been following the @RealTimeWWII Twitter account. It live-tweets the Second World War each day as it had happened—from Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, September 1939, to today, March 13, 1944, and beyond. All the time, it’s been both eerie and revolting to watch the alignment of bygone Nazi atrocities with th...
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March 6, 2022

Yesterday’s News

During rapidly evolving crises like Putin’s act of terror against the Ukraine, the Russian people, and humanity in general, I habitually read less news instead of more. The reason is that almost every piece of news becomes yesterday’s news right away. To keep up with current events, a few quick checks per day suffice, Twitter included....
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February 27, 2022

This Will Be Brief

On the one hand, I don’t have anything to say beyond what is being said and has been said regarding the full-scale military invasion of a European country and neighbor by a christo-fascist autocrat, tacitly supported by fellow dictators, cheered on by white supremacists, evangelical nationalists, straight-up nazis, and Fox News, and we...
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February 20, 2022

It Was a Dark and Stormy Week

One always needs to be wary of the recency illusion, but I don’t remember so many recurring “get off the street or get mashed to pulp” storms with canceled carnival parades and stuff during the 1990s or early 2000s. I might have forgotten them, though. The worst storms I remember happened in 2014, right around where I live, and in 2007...
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February 13, 2022

Notes From the Software Wastelands

Two years ago, we expected virtual collaboration and teaching tools to bloom. Now it’s 2022. For reasons I can’t fathom, there are people who stick with Adobe “Welcome to the Real Virtual” Connect, where “real virtual” probably means that you no longer have to upload almost everything before you can share it. Then there’s MS Teams, abo...
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February 6, 2022

Sneezing Is so 2019

It wasn’t Covid, but I didn’t feel too well recently—tired, especially. Maybe it was a common cold that didn’t fully develop, or its viral load wasn’t serious enough, who knows. But it’s really weird. We usually catch a common cold between two and four times in any given year, plus more serious stuff on the side. And now it’s been two ...
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January 30, 2022

This Time With More Exoentities!

It’s been a month since I queried my literary agent of choice, and so far I haven’t heard back. Impossible to tell what that means—and writing a follow-up email isn’t usually considered to be good manners in this context. There’s an acronym, CNR, for “Closed No Response,” and it’s up to you to figure out when that might be the case! Th...
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January 23, 2022

Just Cruisin’ (At My Desk)

All the stuff I bought for Sunday night & Monday last week, along that grocery shopping adventure I wrote about—it turned out I’d bought so much stuff that it almost lasted the entire week. 'Twas all healthy stuff tho! :-) Otherwise, not a lot has happened. I’ve been cruising along sketching scenes for my follow-up novel, answering que...
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January 16, 2022

The Lost Art of Grocery Shopping

Another busy week with writing, sketching, and mentoring—everything online, of course, as Covid-19 incidence rates around here are approaching the four-digit range. Still, yesterday I went grocery shopping to buy nuts, fruits, dried fruits, bread, cheese, wine, and so on for a special dinner tonight, plus ingredients for tomorrow’s vea...
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January 9, 2022

A Busy Week

While I’m waiting to hear back from the literary agent, I’m not twiddling my thumbs. I began to sketch the dramatic structure of my follow-up Voidpunk novel, its chapter layout, locations, characters, and theme. And before I start to write, hopefully in March, I want to do the same thing for a second follow-up novel, so I can try and w...
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January 2, 2022

More Lazy Days

Lots of things happened here throughout last week—particularly in the departments of eating, drinking, rotating in and out of our friends’ Finnish sauna, more drinking and eating, and having fun all day round. All of us were fully vaccinated and boosted, of course, and we regularly took rapid tests on top of it. And, after four long ye...
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December 26, 2021

Lazy Days

While I don’t celebrate Christmas (duh!), I often visit friends who do, but it’s usually a very secular affair. Same this year, with American and German friends, close to Stuttgart. Thus, I’m too relaxed and too well-fed to write a lot. Even so, I check and recheck the query letter every day that I’m going to send out to a literary age...
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December 19, 2021

Look at These Beautiful Mountains!

If it weren’t for the surging pandemic on the horizon and the raging eso-fash brigade on the ground, whose parties have historically a lot more in common with each other than merely their affection for fatal quackery (source), life would almost feel normal again. To start with, I’ve discharged almost all of my lecture duties for this t...
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December 12, 2021

Just One More Week

As I mentioned a while ago, my workload for the winter term is so lopsided that ninety percent of my lectures fall into the first half of the term. Now, there’s one week left! This time next week, I’ll have a life again! Miraculously, though, I managed to send out the advance reading copies of the horror sf novel I finished editing las...
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December 5, 2021

That Time of the Year

To start with, those who expressed their interest in an advance reading copy of my upcoming (episodic) sf-horror novel, don’t despair! I had literally no free minute left last week to get everything lined up. But I’m trying! Usually, my half-time position leaves me a lot of room to work on my own projects, freelance and personal. But m...
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November 28, 2021

Bang! There Goes Hanukkah

This week will be brutal. Lectures every day, two of which are fresh courses; several meetings; lots of other stuff I didn’t get around to finishing last week; and, of course, Hanukkah. But again, as in 2020, no dining out with friends this year! With incidence rates in Germany of up to & over 2000 (yes, you heard that right); national...
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November 21, 2021

Coming Up for Some Air

Finally, I wrapped up editing! This week, I will send out advance reading copies in epub or mobi format to some trusted friends as test readers who signaled their interest; set up my synopsis and cover letter and stuff; and pitch the manuscript to my agent(s) of choice. Also, I will put the finishing touches on the associated website a...
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November 14, 2021

Rat Race, Continued

Last week was so busy, from tons of lectures to meetings to carrying a washing machine downstairs, that I was already exhausted by Wednesday. This week, luckily, there’ll be more breathing space. Time to pick up my book manuscript again! I completed the final line-by-line read-through two weeks ago, right on the day I went to Stuttgart...
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November 7, 2021

Groundhog Day, Covid Edition

Germany, I have to tell you, is caught in a time loop. Time and again, everybody is shocked, shocked, that there’s an ongoing pandemic. Time and again, the schools aren’t prepared for shit. Time and again, policies are designed to appease the anti-vaxxer crowd. Time and again, at least one insane political decision is made, which in th...
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November 1, 2021

Pastimes

One day late, but today’s a holiday around where I live. So in a way the new week hasn’t yet begun, right? Also, I’m on my way back to Düsseldorf after a trip to Stuttgart—visiting friends, drinking beer, playing games, and eating a lot. That should suffice for an excuse. So, what happened to my plan to buy a vintage camera and return ...
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