Monday, February 18, 2013


As you know if you're following my Twitter feed @JoshuaDBellin (and if you're not, why the heck aren't you?), I was in DC yesterday for's ClimateForward Rally.  The stated purpose of the rally was to convince President Obama to put the kibosh on the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline, or at least the part of it that's planned to pass through U.S. territory (which, as I understand it, would put the kibosh on the whole deal).  The broader purpose of the rally was to draw together the disparate elements of the climate change movement--people fighting fracking, mountaintop coal removal, the petroleum lobby, and a host of other issues--and thus to forge a single, coherent force capable of halting the juggernaut that is our nation's and our world's fossil-fuel addiction.

Whether the rally achieved either purpose is anyone's guess.  President Obama didn't make an appearance (he was reportedly golfing with Tiger Woods), and whether he'll show the political strength and foresightedness to live up to his recent rhetoric on climate change remains to be seen.  (The fact that he held that rhetoric in abeyance during the election season, bringing it out only when victory was assured, suggests that he knows how unpopular it remains among a sizable portion of his constituents.)  Van Jones, one of the day's speakers, opined that no matter what else the president does during the next four years, all his achievements will come to naught if he fails to act decisively on the world's climate.  I'm inclined to agree, but I'm not sure the president will.

Regarding the climate movement writ large, creator Bill McKibben announced at the rally that February 17, 2013 was the day the movement finally came together and found its voice.  That may be.  By some estimates, there were as many as 50,000 people marching, chanting, dancing in the streets, and sign-holding (my favorite banner read "We Must Rise Faster Than the Seas"), though 35,000 is probably closer to the actual mark.  That's a lot of people, and we sure did look united.  On the bus ride home, though, I eavesdropped on a rather contentious debate about the merits of solar versus nuclear--a very old debate, and one that's likely to get us nowhere.  I've been in this fight for over a decade now, and every time there's a big rally, someone says our time has finally come--yet obviously, measured in terms of tangible changes in policy or popular conviction, it hasn't.  To expect 35,000 people--or 35 million, which is what the movement will need if it really wants to attract attention--to stand united on any issue seems like a lot to ask.

Still, for the moment, the day belongs to us.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tweeting the Night Away

I've officially joined Twitter!  (And I've also officially added myself--in my non-pseudonymous incarnation of Joshua David Bellin--as a co-author of my own blog.  I could have just created a new blog, I guess, but it's more fun this way!)  My Twitter handle is: @JoshuaDBellin

Tweet on!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February Fiction

I've got some new fiction (and nonfiction) out, so I thought I'd link to it here.  First, the fiction: a short story titled "The Fundamentally True History of Mary Shelley, aka 'The Creature,'" which appears in the online journal The Abstract Quill:

Now, the nonfiction.  There are two pieces, one titled "Watershed," available online (or in print form for a trifle) at Kudzu Review:

The other, titled "Body Parts," appears in Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, and is, alas, available only in print form.  But again, it's priced so as not to break the bank:

Check 'em out, and let me know what you think!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February Fantasy

I've been reading a lot of Young Adult fantasy literature lately--partly because I'm writing in the genre, partly because I just plain like it--and I thought I'd take the time to jot down some of my favorite titles. In no particular order, here's an unofficial top 10:

1. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games.  If you haven't read it, trust me: it's as good as they say.  Expert pacing, fully rounded characters, and incisive (but never heavy-handed) social commentary.

2. James Dashner, The Maze Runner.  The world-building is really cool, the plot moves along at breakneck speed, and the Maze itself is utterly brilliant.  I'm eager to see how it looks on the big screen when it comes out next year.

3. Gennifer Albin, Crewel.  Very high-concept, about a world in which women called Spinsters literally weave the stuff of reality.  The writing is as gorgeous as the weaving.

4. Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  I'm not normally a big fan of paranormal romance, but this book, in which an angel and a devil (more or less) fall in love, is distinguished by great writing, a globe-trotting setting, and a backdrop of inter-species warfare that makes the love story particularly poignant.

5. Ann Halam, Snakehead.  A retelling of the Perseus and Andromeda myth that eschews action in favor of mood, setting, and character development.  Kind of the antithesis of the Percy Jackson books (which I like too, by the way).

6. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Tombs of Atuan.  I read this years ago, when I was a kid, and don't remember liking it.  When I re-read it, I was amazed: the sheer craft is breathtaking.  Nothing like being in the hands of an old pro like Le Guin.

7. Leah Bobet, Above.  Another paranormal romance, I guess--though what's brilliant about this book (aside from its one-of-a-kind style) is the fact that everything "paranormal" about it might easily be explained in terms of mental illness.  A really unusual, powerful reading experience.

8. Ruth Long, The Treachery of Beautiful Things.  Here's one where I didn't really care for the romance, but the setting--the fairy-land of traditional England--was richly and creepily imagined.

9. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.  If you've been reading this blog, you know I didn't like the film.  But I re-read the book beforehand, and I was struck again by how fresh, graceful, and beautiful Tolkien's tale is, even after all that's come after it.

10. Janet McNaughton, The Secret Under My Skin.  A post-apocalyptic tale that's stylish, thought-provoking, and moving.

So there you have it.  Here's hoping that around this time next year, I can add a book of my own to the list!