How’s everyone doing? I slept with the emergency go-bag and a flashlight next to the bed last night, but so far <knocks wood> no more earthquakes. Back to worrying about plague instead of natural disasters!

I’m assuming that, like me, everyone needs distractions and reassurance. Something that distracted and reassured me on Monday was Robin Sloan’s March newsletter. It’s rambling, it’s full of links, it has C.S. Lewis quotes about hard times, and tells us how to keep going when nothing seems to matter:


We’re entering a stretch during which no subject, no task, other than this pandemic and its prevention will seem to “matter,” and I am here to insist, as you contemplate the next level of the video game you were building, the next stitch in the fanny pack you were designing, the next edition of the newsletter you just started:

It matters.


Every calamity fractures the world, opens new seams: many economic, some political, still others aesthetic.

In 1816, the gloomy “Year Without a Summer,” Mary Shelley stayed indoors at a lakeside hotel; not quarantine, but maybe quarantine-adjacent. There, bored and haunted, she conceived the story that would grow into her novel Frankenstein, the foundation stone of the genre we now call science fiction.

It’s moderately annoying when people invoke work like that, because it feels like the implication is, if you’re not writing Frankenstein what are you even DOING? That’s not what I mean. It’s just that the big, bright examples help us see it clearly: toil in the shadow of calamity will have its day.

Toil in the shadow of calamity WILL have its day.

A crack in everything; that’s how the art gets in.