wednesday reads 'n things

Jul. 26th, 2017 04:04 pm
isis: (Default)
[personal profile] isis
What I've recently finished reading:

Text: Empowered: Agent (Empowered, #1) by Dale Ivan Smith, which so far is the best Instafreebie book I've tried (a rather low bar). The world-building is simple but fun; it's not just that Empowered people (that is, people with superhero-type powers) exist, but it's also an alternate history - one in which Richard Nixon prevented a nuclear war from escalating into global destruction "after Washington DC had been destroyed by a Soviet nuke fired from Cuba." (So I guess Kennedy didn't stop the Soviets...) This only shows up incidentally, at least in this book, but I am charmed by Nixon being considered a hero in this universe.

Mat is a good character, an interesting woman with a skill - manipulating growing plants - that is clearly much more useful (and lethal) than anyone gives her credit for. The Hero Council choice of "join us if we can use you, otherwise you must swear to never use your power" seems rather terrible to me, a bit of shoddy world-building but I guess it's needed for the plot. Her choices and actions are reasonable, especially as circumstances paint her into a corner. I like that she has a family she cares about, and I also like the lack of romance (though I suspect one is building).

The writing is okay, not great, though it's mostly free of typos and technically adequate. There are few obvious errors (such as a character being identified by name before Mat would actually know her name) but also few flashes of brilliance. Mostly it's just somewhat flat. I didn't feel particularly pulled along or emotionally invested, and this, plus uneven pacing toward the end, contributed to a general feeling of anticlimax.

Audio: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama, which was a SYNC offering, and surprisingly enjoyable and novel for dystopian YA. This is set in an alternate future in which the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 led to the need for split-shift staffing of hospitals, a day set and a night set of doctors and nurses, which in turn proved so efficient that the division between day workers and night workers was expanded to all parts of life, formalized and codified and enforced by law. But as daylight living is more natural and presumably more enjoyable, gradually the night people ("Smudges") became stereotyped as stupid, undesirable, lesser than the day people ("Rays") - and it took me until about 3/4 through the book to realize this was a civil rights allegory.

Yes, there is some suspension of disbelief required, but no more than, say, teenagers fighting to the death broadcast on television, or a society discarding all but a hundred selected novels, songs, and films. And what makes this an actually good book is that the plot is legitimately interesting and complex, and goes in unexpected (but foreshadowed) ways. There is a romance, which is somewhat cutesy and predictable, but at least it's not a love triangle - and, speaking of YA tropes, though this is in first person it is in PAST TENSE THANK GOD.

I liked the ending, which is not pat or universally happy, and which leaves a lot of things open-ended for a sequel (or for fanfiction). I would like to have seen a more explicitly "fight the system" plot, with Sol and the other characters actively working to bring the system down - maybe this will be in a subsequent book? Finally, I ship Sol/Gigi la la la and will be nominating this for Yuletide.

The audio version also includes "Noma Girl", a prequel short story which is also available free online. It was a nice fleshing-out of incidents only alluded to in the novel, but there's no new worldbuilding or anything unexpected here. I did like the more sympathetic view of Gigi. I don't think it will make sense if you haven't read the novel.

Webcomic: For some reason I followed a link (from Goodreads, maybe?) to The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E. K. Weaver, which I'd vaguely heard of through osmosis but really didn't know anything about (I didn't realize it was a comic, for one; for some reason I thought it had to do with lesbians) and devoured it over the course of four or five days. It's a gay (m/m, and has some nsfw) roadtrip story in which the title characters get to know each other and find themselves (well, sort of). If you haven't read it, I recommend it! There is a tiny fandom, and I believe the comic was originally posted on LJ as a WIP.

What I'm reading now: Cibola Burn, the fourth Expanse book. So far I'm about 25% in and enjoying it more than the previous book, Abaddon's Gate. Also, wow, apparently all minor characters are gay in this universe, or at least every throwaway line about people being married refers to a same-sex relationship.

What I'm reading next: Now that I'm recommitted to this book series, I've got the next two on my phone.

What I've just finished watching:

Movie: I finally watched Hidden Figures, and it was every bit as awesome as I'd hoped. ♥ My mother was a chemist for the FDA before and during this era, and I realized that at least she had the advantage of being white (though she had the disadvantage of being Jewish). I can't imagine what it must have been like to have both racism and sexism barriers looming so hugely in one's life.

TV: We have finished S2 of The Expanse! I am still a little weirded out by the timelines of book series and show being off from each other. I also thought the Ganymede plot was done better by the show, but the Avasarala and Bobbie plot was done better in the books.

What I'm watching next: Nothing for a while, because on Saturday we are headed out for a week of backpacking in the wilderness and so we might as well hold off on starting anything new. I'm trying to talk B into getting a short-term subscription to HBO Now via Amazon Prime so we can watch Game of Thrones. (His objections are that a, he hates WIPs even more than I do and wants to be able to watch every day or every other day rather than waiting a week between episodes, and b, he is sure they will make it hard for us to cancel after a month or two.)

In the meantime, [community profile] remixrevival has signups through Sunday, and [community profile] crossovering has extended signups through Sunday, so if either of these interest you, you have a few more days to join up!

World Fantasy Award Nominees

Jul. 26th, 2017 03:11 pm
marthawells: (Miko)
[personal profile] marthawells
http://www.tor.com/2017/07/26/the-2017-world-fantasy-award-nominees-have-been-announced/

Congrats to all the nominees!

Novel

Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
Roadsouls, Betsy James (Aqueduct)
The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Claire North (Redhook; Orbit UK)
Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff (Harper)

Long Fiction

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
“Bloodybones,” Paul F. Olson (Whispered Echoes)
A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)

Short Fiction

“Das Steingeschöpf,” G.V. Anderson (Strange Horizons 12/12/16)
“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” Brooke Bolander (Uncanny 11-12/16)
“Seasons of Glass and Iron,” Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
“Little Widow,” Maria Dahvana Headley (Nightmare 9/16)
“The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me,” Rachael K. Jones (Clockwork Phoenix 5)

Anthology

Clockwork Phoenix 5, Mike Allen, ed. (Mythic Delirium)
Dreaming in the Dark, Jack Dann, ed. (PS Australia)
Children of Lovecraft, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Dark Horse)
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, Karen Joy Fowler & John Joseph Adams, eds. (Mariner)
The Starlit Wood, Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe, eds. (Saga)

Collection

Sharp Ends, Joe Abercrombie (Orbit US; Gollancz)
On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories, Tina Connolly (Fairwood)
A Natural History of Hell, Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer)
Vacui Magia, L.S. Johnson (Traversing Z Press)
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu (Saga; Head of Zeus)

Artist

Greg Bridges
Julie Dillon
Paul Lewin
Jeffrey Alan Love
Victo Ngai

Special Award, Professional

L. Timmel Duchamp, for Aqueduct Press
C.C. Finlay, for editing F&SF
Michael Levy & Farah Mendelsohn, for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press)
Kelly Link, for contributions to the genre
Joe Monti, for contributions to the genre

Special Award, Non-Professional

Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Neile Graham, for fostering excellence in the genre through her role as Workshop Director, Clarion West
Malcom R. Phifer & Michael C. Phifer, for their publication The Fantasy Illustration Library, Volume Two: Gods and Goddesses (Michael Publishing)
Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, for Uncanny
Brian White, for Fireside Fiction Company


The awards will be announced at the World Fantasy Convention, which this year is November 2-5 in San Antonio, TX. http://wfc2017.org/wfc2017/

Headliner guests are Tananarive Due, Karen Joy Fowler, Gregory Manchess, David Mitchell, Gordon Van Gelder TOASTMASTER: Martha Wells

in which I am the most grumpy

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:11 pm
lamentables: (Default)
[personal profile] lamentables
1. abrinsky went to Liverpool this morning and won't be back until tomorrow night

2. I went for another walk at a normal pace this afternoon, and halfway round my circuit the OTHER leg started to hurt and now I'm limping again, but on the wrong leg.

3. Board meeting this evening, when I really wanted to retire to bed with book/video and alcohol.

4. Board meeting did not go well. Person who has previously exhibited bigotry was doing it again as I arrived. I disagree with the majority of the board about our approach and strategy. I am right, obvs. Someone is being poisonous and judgemental. Someone else doesn't trust anyone. I've come home feeling like I HATE EVERYBODY. Trying not to send my resignation email until I've slept on it. Restraint needed.

5. Brother is ill and cannot attend the storytelling festival at the weekend. I was SO looking forward to hanging out with him and his kids and now it's all roooooooned.

6. I want to offer to take his kids to the festival without him, but we feel (all of us, including my bro) that this would be too risky. For reasons.

7. I hate even numbers. I don't trust them, all round and smooth and secretly evil. (Have I mentioned I divide most things into odd/even? Flavours, days of the week, colours, shapes. I like odd, spiky, sour, left-handed, green and yellow things best of all. Especially on Wednesdays.)

What I'm Doing Wednesday

Jul. 26th, 2017 02:43 pm
sage: image of the word "create" in orange on a white background. (create)
[personal profile] sage
books Christie, Arendt )

grandma extreme old age is hard )

yarning
roses in progressstatue of liberty amigurumiThe garland is about 40 inches (1m) long, with 5 segments. I'm putting 4 roses on each segment, so that's 20 flowers. I've got ten made and ten to go, though I don't think I have enough of the variegated lavender yarn for the last one. Will have to improvise something. Then I can get it in the mail to Grandma.

Then today's newscycle pissed me off enough that I posted a WIP shot of my epic project, my 15" Statue of Liberty. I'm still awaiting lightweight yarn so I can make her robes that actually drape. Also a superhero cape.

In sum, yarning is coping.

Francesca, by Ezra Pound

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:36 am
runpunkrun: tree on a grassy hill against a blue sky (et in arcadia ego)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Francesca

You came in out of the night
And there were flowers in your hand,
Now you will come out of a confusion of people,
Out of a turmoil of speech about you.

I who have seen you amid the primal things
Was angry when they spoke your name
In ordinary places.
I would that the cool waves might flow over my mind,
And that the world should dry as a dead leaf,
Or as a dandelion seed-pod and be swept away,
So that I might find you again,
Alone.



angry when they spoke your name )
sholio: Text: "Age shall not weary her, nor custom stale her infinite squee" (Infinite Squee)
[personal profile] sholio
I was inviting people to ask me questions on Tumblr last night, and one of the things I ended up talking about is what makes me fall for things (books, movies, TV shows) in a fandom kind of way. I decided to post that here as well, because it took me a long time to figure it out but I did eventually figure it out, and I thought it was interesting. There are always a few outliers that don't quite fit this, or fit it in unusual ways, but for the most part, this is what makes the difference for me between something I merely like, and something I write fanfic for and can't stop talking about to anyone who'll hold still long enough.

Cut to keep from clogging your reading page )
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[personal profile] otw_staff posting in [community profile] otw_news
OTW contested election banner

OTW Elections voting instructions have been e-mailed to all members. Find out what to do if you didn't get yours: https://goo.gl/QFV8iv

Catching Up

Jul. 26th, 2017 08:06 am
marthawells: (Default)
[personal profile] marthawells
I went on vacation last week, first actual vacation in a long time. Me, my husband, and two friends went to Galveston Island, which is about a three hour drive away and stayed on the east beach: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/163287314212/yesterday-we-got-back-from-three-days-in

We swam everyday, and stood on a sandbar over a hundred yards out in the water and looked at rainstorms out in the gulf. The water was warm in the afternoon, like a giant saltwater spa. We ate a lot of seafood and had margaritas and went out in the harbor in a little boat. It was awesome.

Then yesterday I had jury duty for traffic court, got picked, and everyone there got to tell a mean, angry, scary old white guy clearly used to controlling everything around him that yes, he did have to pay his fine just like everyone else. I don't even know how someone could be this confident in his belief that he can get away with anything, but watching him change his story and lie, and have the woman DA point out the body cam and dash cam video showing he was lying, and Judge Navarro being completely fair yet also bored and unimpressed, and effortlessly cutting off the guy's attempt to rant and swear on the stand. The Judge also made the DA skip over what was probably 20 minutes of video that didn't show anything except that the guy was a terrible person, but believe me, the jury already knew that.

I'm going to try to catch up on book rec posts, and I need to do another Raksura story for my Patreon this month. (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2458567)
monanotlisa: Dutch pulls Johnny's ear to check for a tech implant (dutch & johnny - killjoys)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
[personal profile] mirabile, I received your Get Well Soon flowers -- thank you so much! They cheered me up a lot today on my last day of recuperating at home, and will continue to do so at night.



(Feel free to click the thumbnail.)

Also, y'all, I love this show, especially this season: Killjoys up to & including 3x04 ''The Lion, The Witch, and the Warlords'' )
monanotlisa: AtS's Fred, reading a book, in olive-green soft coloring (fred - ats)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
Because my wife purchased it after watching the movie trailer, I too read the book, mostly in waiting rooms: A Wrinkle In Time )

I may pass on the follow-up books of the quartet (the ones I haven't read already), but I'm definitely looking forward to the movie, which looks visually stunning and well-cast.

triffid of the day

Jul. 25th, 2017 06:45 pm
lamentables: (Default)
[personal profile] lamentables
Triffid #oftheday

Walking is almost back to a normal pace now - so much so that the f*tb*t recognises it as exercise - but I'm still not walking more than 2km at a time. I've now spent too much time not-walking or hobbling, so that walking feels like hard work and not fun. This makes me grumpy, but I am trying to focus on the longer term instead of on immediate gratification. Not-walking has also had a impact on my mental health: I'm twitchy and prey to small-hour brain weasels at the moment. *resolve face*

abrinsky had his stitches removed today and his face is looking much more the way it should do. Without the stitches there, he braved a wet shave (though not of the wound itself) and this also makes him look more himself. The nurse confirmed he's healing well, which is good to hear.
giandujakiss: (Default)
[personal profile] giandujakiss
Now is the time to call your Senators. Yes, certain GOP senators are particularly critical, but honestly, call yours no matter who you are or where you live. This is about protecting Medicaid, the general healthcare infrastructure in this country, and also denying Trump a win so that GOP feels more compelled to boot him out. On every level, GOP attempts to repeal ACA must be fought.

And yes, even if you called before - call again.

Comic Con

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:05 pm
syble4: (Default)
[personal profile] syble4
 I did go to  San Diego Comic Con this year.  I had a ticket for the whole 5 days, but I could only go to one day.  After some dilly dally and back and forth, I settled on Saturday.  I had this thought, that I could wait in line and possible get into the back row of Hall H (the hall where all the DC/Marvel stuff would be).  Well, I may have underestimated how big that line would be.  There was no way in heck anyone who hadn't lined up a few days earlier, was getting into that room.  Those were some intense, and insane, fans.  LOL 

So, instead I wander around, attended a digital art class, and took photos.  It was just as crazy as I remembered - no, scratch that, it was way more crazy than I remembered.  

If you are interested in the photo's I took, you can find them on my facebook account.  Here's a link.: 

ComicCon 2017

Dear Crossovering writer or artist

Jul. 24th, 2017 04:09 pm
isis: (gryffindor sheppard)
[personal profile] isis
Dear writer or artist! Thank you for offering to create a fanwork crossing over two of these sources. As long as you generally stick with things I like and avoid things I dislike, I will love your story or artwork even if it doesn't take on any of my prompts, which are only suggestions. I am [archiveofourown.org profile] Isis on AO3.

Some general stuff about my tastes: For written works, explicit sex (slash, het, or femslash) is okay, non-explicit sex is okay, no sex is okay, but any sex should be in believable language for the source, and there should be more to the story than just PWP. If you choose to write a sex scene, I prefer those that focus on emotions and perceptions rather than on the mechanics of what goes where, and I am rather vanilla in my preferences where kink is concerned: mouths, hands, genitals, toys, all are fine, but I'm not into BSDM or bloodplay or watersports or anything that might get a special tag. Gen is a-okay with me too. For art, I prefer R-rated art to NC17-rated art, and I'm totally happy with lower-rated art.

I have made some prompts and suggestions, but feel free to take things in whatever direction you like and/or include characters I haven't mentioned. I like: historical/worldbuildy detail, scenery porn, non-explicitly-detailed sex, ghost stories, supernatural elements, what-if AUs, original characters. My favorite tropes are time travel, bodyswap, and afterlife stories, though I'm perfectly happy with an entirely canonical scenario. In general I'm not a fan of AU that completely changes the setting, but if you have a brilliant idea, go for it; I would prefer "interesting" to "mundane" AUs, e.g., in SPAAAACE yes, coffeeshop no. (Coffeeshop in SPAAAACE, okay!). Except as noted, I would like happy endings and no major character death (unless it's canonical and results in ghost-fic).

For fic, I generally prefer plot (as in, things happening; doesn't have to be elaborate or long – as contrasted with character studies), past tense (either first person or third person – I don't like second person), and lots of dialogue. But these are preferences, not hard DNWs, and if you have a brilliant idea that requires second person or present tense, go ahead. My only hard preferences are for conventional pronouns, capitalization, and punctuation.

For art, I am happier with AU than in fic. I am totally fine with simple portraits, though if you want to show characters interacting, I have a soft spot for art in which one character is doing something typical-but-alarming, and the other is rolling his or her eyes, or reacting with horror, or getting ready to douse them with a bucket of water, or whatever. I like line drawings as well as full color. Stylistically, I love interesting and experimental compositions, unusual perspectives, emphasis on textures such as hair and clothing, and scenery porn (Mountains! Trees! Cliffs with water crashing on them! Brooding ruins of an ancient castle!)

This is a placeholder and will be edited to add specific fandom likes and prompts. )

potluck yoga

Jul. 24th, 2017 08:35 pm
lamentables: (Default)
[personal profile] lamentables
It was the last yoga session of the term today, which necessitated some cooking over the weekend, ready for our traditional potluck lunch.

I think I've previously mentioned the occasional benefit of being the last drop for the vegbox man - the week of 18 avocados? (Some weeks there are items missing from my box, so it's not all good news.) This week there was a bonus net of lemons in my box, so I was inspired to make lemon polenta cake. But to make life easier I made small individual cakes in bun cases.

Lemon polenta cakes #oftheday #whenlifegivesyou🍋🍋

They are delicious and, I reckon, better than a single large cake. I had to grind my own almond flour (also contains hazelnuts, because not quite enough almonds) and I think that really enhanced the cakes, making the texture more uneven and interesting.

the recipe )

And as a savoury, I baked some individual 'frittatas'. Or maybe they were pastry-less quiches. It all depends on how you look at things. Either way, they were very tasty and I shall be making them again for my lunches.

Mini frittata #oftheday #omnomnom

They contain roast veg, feta, finely sliced onions, and egg whisked with a little milk. I seasoned only with salt and pepper, but the roast veg has such an intense flavour that this was the right choice. The bonus is that the veg was a bit tired and limp, so I was using it up before it had to be thrown away. And there's a bit more roast veg in a box in the fridge as a handy ingredient for I don't yet know what.

monday list

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:28 am
runpunkrun: combat boot, pizza, camo pants = punk  (punk rock girl)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Things to do today:
  • make granola
  • take a shower
  • read Star Trek fic
Things I already did:
  • made appointment for eyeballs!
  • ate breakfast!
Things I probably won't do:
  • figure out how to finish this fic
  • work with me here Rodney
  • you've had three years
  • stop mooning around on the sidewalk
  • and end this
  • or I swear to god I'll set fire to everything you love
  • I'll do it
  • fire is much easier to write than a happy ending
  • ask anyone
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