Continuing my fine tradition of two-nights-before-close reviews, derspatchel
and I just got back from Theatre@First's Henry IV
, marking the rare performance of a Shakespearean history play outside the BBC. Cross-casting Falstaff? Works really well. Joan
is historically suitable and less familiar than Jane
; she is a big woman in a green plaid shirt and a perpetual slight hangover frown, her hair streaked with grey and her pockets full of IOUs, and the story's ending has the necessary sting because as much as she blusters and brazens, whatever else she falsifies, her affection for Hal is true. Cross-casting Northumberland would have worked a lot better if the adaptation—condensing both parts into one two-act play—had not cut most of her lines. I missed Glendower's scenes, but they may have been the price of getting out before midnight. Hotspur moves as well as he speaks, restless, roving, tensile as live steel; at the other end of the spectrum, their nearly silent Peto runs an eloquent line in count-me-out understatement—No, no, they were not bound
. He does card tricks for Bardolph as they lean up against the proscenium and probably takes all her money. Something more should have been done with the chemistry between Poins and Hal; their last scene together closes on the unresolved And to thee
. Anyway, two more performances and then it's all Greek tragedy
until Thanksgiving. I really hope they follow it with Henry V
next season. Someone
who isn't the BBC should.
The rest of this post is an assortment of stuff I didn't post earlier in the week.
1. Courtesy of handful_ofdust
: Peter Cushing hand-painting a scarf for Helen
2. In addition to being an extraordinary account of a life and an equally fascinating lens on race in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Tom Reiss' The Black Count
(2012) has marvelous footnotes. Latest in the list of things I have learned from reading it:
's plucky army was famous for its 'rocket brigades,' which fired special long-range rockets out of steel and bamboo tubes. In one battle in April 1799, Tippoo's rocket fire disoriented the normally unflappable Colonel Arthur Wellesley, future Duke of Wellington, and forced a retreat. ('So pestered were we with the rocket boys that there was no moving without danger,' wrote one British officer.) But the British army gained the upper hand when a shot struck a magazine of Tippoo's rockets, causing a massive explosion. The victorious British hauled away hundreds of rocket launchers and fire-ready rockets, and four years later they began their own rocket program at the Royal Woolwich Arsenal in England, under the direction of William Congreve. It was the so-called Congreve rockets, improvements on Citizen Tippoo Sultan's rockets, that provided the 'rockets' red glare' when the British bombarded Washington, D.C. in 1812."
3. Carthaginian glass head pendant
! (Want more
4. Rafael can get that fez off by himself
5. Does anyone have the version of "The Two Magicians" where the last thing he turns into is a coverlet and the last thing she turns into is a clothes moth with an appetite? Apparently I don't.
Tomorrow we recycle a lot of seltzer bottles. It's exciting.
P.S. This vase
is really cool.
You can tell a lot about a person from their music. Hit shuffle on your iPod, MP3 Player, etc. and put the first 10 songs! One rule, no skipping!
(I’m leaving out the part where I’m supposed to tag ten more people to do this.)
I guess I’ll go with the playlist I’ve been slowly assembling for Chains and Memory. This isn’t the soundtrack; it’s just the music I’ll be going through when I pick stuff for the soundtrack. As such, it skews toward techno, rock, and more modern-sounding scores (whereas the playlists for the Memoirs, to choose a contrasting example, avoid those exact things).
1. “The Magic Wedding,” Cirque du Soleil, CRISS ANGEL Believe
2. “The X-Jet,” Michael Kamen, X-Men
3. “Mater Gloria,” Lesiem, Mystic Spirit Voices
4. “. . . He’s been arrested for espionage,” Harry Gregson-Williams, Spy Game
5. “Written in the Stars,” Ramin Djawadi, Clash of the Titans
6. “CWN Annwn,” Glenn Danzig, Black Aria
7. “Amnesia,” Dead Can Dance, Anastasis
8. “No More Sorrow,” Linkin Park, Minutes to Midnight
9. “Creeping Death,” Apocalyptica, Plays Metallica by Four Cellos
10. “There’s Only Me (Instrumental)”, Rob Dougan, Furious Angels
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
This has been a day for not getting anything done but random cartooning so have a meme by way of oracne
You can tell a lot about a person from their music. Hit shuffle on your iPod, MP3 Player, etc. and put the first 10 songs! One rule, no skipping! Tag 10 people and pass it on! (Not tagging - too much pressure!)
1. 3 Hours Down - Away from the Sun - "When I'm Gone"
2. Planescape: Torment soundtrack by Mark Morgan - "Sigil"
3. FTL soundtrack by Ben Prunty - "Space Cruise (Title)"
4. Amethystium - Aphelion - "Elevensong"
5. FTL soundtrrack by Ben Prunty - "MilkyWay (Explore)"
6. FTL soundtrack by Ben Prunty - "Slug (Battle)"
7. "Death by Pixel" (sorry, I put my own music in iTunes so I can be tortured by all the things I would fix now)
8. Céline Dion - D'eux - "Destin"
9. Portal 2: Songs to Test By - Volume 2 - "You Will Be Perfect"
10. Coheed and Cambria - Year of the Black Rainbow - "One"
Yeah, about that fondness for game soundtracks...
Turns out the tablet type of Advil on an empty stomach is (a) effective and (b) a quick way to incapacitate me. This is my note to self to never do that again, damn.
With shock and great sorrow, ladyjax
reports that deluxvivens
I think she'd be astonished that I wept for her the way I did. We weren't close friends. But I admired her tremendously, and learned a great deal from her, and was always glad when I got the chance to chat with her or read her words. She was the embodiment of defiance, full of warmth for those who earned her friendship, often surprisingly patient with the clumsy but well-intentioned, and unstintingly scornful of fools. She loved Black American culture and history and shared her knowledge widely, along with her extensive collection of photos and videos of sexy men of color--and she may have played up her thirst for manflesh, but she was very serious about celebrating those men as a way of fighting back against stereotypes that demonized them. It was one of the most splendid marriages of the personal and political that I've ever seen. She was a Black NDN, fiercely proud of her Native heritage, and powerfully outspoken in support of indigenous peoples everywhere. She was a Brooklynite with roots all the way down to bedrock.
I always thought we'd find a way to get together someday for a stroll and a drink in Brooklyn, or a movie full of hot shirtless guys. I was looking forward to teasing her about being seen in the company of a white gentrifier and what that would do to her street cred. I'm really sad that that won't ever happen now.
The world is a better place for having had her in it.
Not sure how many people are on here that aren't on Twitter, but for those who don't know, deluxvivens has passed away. I'm grieving a dear dear friend. I know she touched a lot of hearts & I don't want anyone who should hear the news to miss it.
I am currently creating a website for “The Change,” the series of which Stranger
is the first. Food features prominently in the series, and I’d like to have some recipes on the site.
Since I know a number of you cook, I invite you to create a recipe from the book. If you’re interested, pick an item (or as many as you like) from below the cut, create a recipe, ideally photograph the result, and write out the recipe. I will put it on the site and credit you under whatever name you like. I’m fine with multiple recipes for the same dish, so more than one person can pick the same dish. No payment, so only do this if it sounds fun. And please feel free to link if you have friends who might have fun with this.
Depending on how geeky you want to get, this is after the apocalypse in Los Angeles, so in the book, all ingredients are either locally grown or imported from the surrounding area. Rice is a rare delicacy, and tea is not available at all. (Coffee is grown in Santa Barbara, and is moderately expensive but widely drunk.) Local grains are wheat, corn, and barley. You can either ignore this limitation or work with it, up to you.
Note that one of the characters is an experimental chef, hence some of the weirder dishes.
All food mentioned in the book is below the cut-tag; spoilers if you think that’s spoilery. ( Read more... )
Happy birthday, rushthatspeaks
, my best cousin, my love. Rilke wrote this. It always makes me think of you.Mein scheuer Mondschatten spräche gern
mit meinem Sonnenschatten von fern
in der Sprache der Toren:
mitten drin ich, ein beschienener Sphinx,
Stille stiftend, nach rechts und links
hab ich die beiden geboren.
My shy moonshadow would like to speak
with my sunshadow from far away
in the language of fools:
I in between, an illuminated sphinx,
bestowing silence, to the right and left
I have given birth to both.
Many people have asked me who I would cast in a dream movie version of the Struck by Lightning trilogy. When Slow Surrender first came out I had posted the following:
Well, my basis for my male main character is a young David Bowie, but he’s too old to play this role now by far! A contemporary actor who could pull it off… maybe Cilian Murphy if you lightened his hair?
The female main character, Karina, who narrates the story, is a little trickier. I don’t describe her in great detail since the book is from her point of view and I want the reader to be able to see herself in Karina’s shoes. I picture her as a small woman. A good fit would be Nora Zehetner (she played Eden on Heroes and Dr. Reed Adamson on Grey’s Anatomy).
Now that the final book in the trilogy is coming out (Slow Satisfaction) I figured it was time to put my Google-Fu to some use and look for more possible images.
Several readers have told me that in their minds, they’ve already cast Benedict Cumberbatch as James. He’s a versatile actor and I’m 100% sure he would excel in the role! I went hunting for an appropriate image.
The other actor I mentioned above is Cilian Murphy, who I just learned from Wikipedia was in a rock band before he turned to acting!
“Cillian Murphy OIFF2012” by Odessa International Film Festival – http://oiff.com.ua/ru/2012-festival/photovideo/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
You know who I think could pull off Karina’s cheeky personality really well, though? How about the now twenty-something Emma Watson?
Emma Watson: Look at that kinky little key on her necklace. Whose collar (or heart) do you suppose it unlocks?
Hm, especially since Emma is often seen in slightly kinky fashions, like the ankle chain high heels
she was photographed wearing in New York City in 2012, in chain mail for the cover of Vogue
, a barely-there black lace number
, or the heavy chain necklace she wore in Marie Claire
A few readers have told me that in their minds they’ve cast Benedict Cumberbatch as James. Something tells me Mr. Cumberbatch would have a lot of fun with the role. There’s probably no part he can’t play, though! Quite a talented man, Mr. Cumberbatch.
Okay, but what about the supporting characters?
For Becky, Karina’s roommate, I’d cast Constance Wu, an actress i discovered in the web series Eastsiders by Kit Williamson. (It’s a fab gay web series, watch it online here: Episode 1. Kit, the writer and one of the main actors in it is now on Mad Men.) Constance has also been in Torchwood, CSI, and various other shows and movies.
Harder to cast is Ferrara Huntington, the former starlet turned media-mogul’s wife, who is the antagonist in this story. Really, Ferrara is like everyone else in the story: looking for love. But she’s looking in the wrong places. I cast Monica Bellucci here, but I think there are many actresses between age 35 and 40 who could pull off the slightly menacing sensuality that Ferrara exudes.
What about you? Who would you cast if you were directing a movie of the Struck by Lightning books?
Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.
I was feeling sad today. I tried listening to Information Society's Don't Be Afraid
*, which used to be my go-to for "having a bad day and want to wallow", and I realized I am just not depressed enough to ride that ride.* Well, technically it's Kurt Harland's solo album, but he released it under the band name for reasons I will never entirely understand.
If you're not familiar with the album, ( it is a nonstop parade of horrible lunatic depressive misery. Do not click here if you're susceptible to graphic depictions of mental illness. )
It doesn't need a PARENTAL ADVISORY sticker so much as a TRIGGER WARNING sticker, for the album as a whole and for each individual song.
I used to play it on constant repeat. It was the narration of everything in my head. It made perfect sense. It was so comforting to know that someone else felt the way I felt. I wasn't experiencing actual visual hallucinations, but the rest was true
, bone-deep true.
Upon reflection, I suspect I was rather more messed up than I realized at the time--and I knew I was fairly messed up.
Just a little bit, I miss how wonderful it felt to get that soothing reassurance that I wasn't alone, to know that someone really got
it at a time when everyone else just sort of looked confused or worried whenever I tried to explain what was going on in my brain. That was a good feeling, and obviously I really needed some good feelings at the time. But on the whole, I'd rather be too sane to listen to it, and getting my good feelings from actually feeling good rather than from knowing I wasn't alone in feeling indescribably awful.
So yay for not being that messed up anymore, I guess. It's just weird to have healed too much to listen to music that used to speak to me so deeply. I listen to it now and even as I can recite the lyrics from memory, it's like... overhearing two people having a conversation that has nothing to do with me.
I just watched the very last episode of Poirot
, the screen adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel Curtain
, written in the mid-1940's and published in 1975. The screen version is true to the original, as have been all the other screen adaptations starring David Suchet over the years. It ended the same way.
I doubt I'd have ever watched an episode if Paula had not been an avid fan. But as things turned out, I've been watching David Suchet play Hercule Poirot since 1989. For the last 22 months, I've watched the series wend its way to the inevitable end, wishing she were there beside me in her Martha Washington chair.
Tonight, I'm feeling very close to her, and I'm also feeling the distance across the Gulf.
Do folks have recommendations for an RPG for a first-time GM to try running? Traditional fantasy setting preferred (this would probably be 1-3 sessions over Thanksgiving) but other suggestions welcome. Has to be something we can easily obtain in the next few weeks, so something currently in-print/available preferred.
Things I have already suggested:
- AD&D 2nd ed. (already familiar to my friend from computer gaming [Gold Box games], although not what I would call rules-lite)
- Lady Blackbird
- Fiasco (not traditional fantasy, though)
- Over the Edge (if you strip out Al Amarja and just use the mechanics)
- Spirit of the Century (all parties own this, although it's not traditional fantasy)
- Blood and Honor (but samurai tragedy probably isn't my friend's cuppa; I didn't suggest Legend of the Five Rings because I sense it wouldn't appeal and has more complex rules as well)
- 1001 Nights
- Amber Diceless (friend is a Nine Princes in Amber fan and all parties but the lizard have read it, but none of us has played or run this system)
I'd also suggest Advanced Fighting Fantasy except I don't own a copy anymore :( and I don't believe my friend has one either.
Note that of these, I myself have only GM'd in AD&D 2nd ed. and Over the Edge. Joe is usually Rules Guy but tends to gravitate toward very crunchy systems.
- thinking about:
The Steerswoman Quartet Acquired Posted
The Long Run Acquired Posted
Riddlemaster of Hed Acquired Posted
Voyage of the Shadowmoon none Posted
Footfall Acquired Posted
Max Gladstone's Trilogy Acquired Posted
Wheel of the Infinite Acquired Posted
A Desert of Stars Acquired Posted
KJ Parker's Shadow Acquired Posted
Geraldine Harris's Seven Citadels quartet Acquired Posted
Rocket Ship Galileo Acquired Posted
Lucifer's Hammer Acquired Posted
KJ Parker Pattern Acquired Posted
KJ Parker's Memory Acquired Posted
Rocket Ship Galileo Acquired Posted
Space Cadet Acquired Posted
Search for the Star Stones (Norton) Ross Smith Acquired Posted
Red Planet Acquired Posted
Heinlein Juveniles Acquired
Sewer, Gas and Electric Acquired
Ash (Mary Gentle) Foraging
Another Parker Foraging
Golden Witchbreed (Mary Gentle) Acquired
Digital Divide, Acquired
The Russians Came Knocking, Acquired
Maker Space. Acquired
Kathleen O'Neal Gear Powers of Light trilogy
Them Bones Acquired
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Two Serpents Rise: A Novel of the Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone
Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells
Full Fathom Five: A Novel of the Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone
The Desert of Stars - A Human Reach Novel by John J. Lumpkin
Sight of Proteus by Charles Sheffield
Seven Citadels: by Geraldine Harris
Cage on the Sea by Kaoru Ohno
Shadow: Book One of the Scavenger Trilogy by K.J. Parker
Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein
Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard
Pattern: Book Two of the Scavenger Trilogy by K.J. Parker
Hard to Be a God by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky
A Voice Out of Ramah by Lee Killough
Space Cadet by Robert A. Heinlein
Memory: Book Three of the Scavenger Trilogy by K.J. Parker
Sword Art Online: Aincrad by Reki Kawahara
Search for the Star Stones by Andre Norton
I feel vaguely ill at how short that list is. There have been eight days where I posted no reviews. I will do better in September.
Total F M Mu F/T
20 5 12 3 0.25
And that's not making me feel much better.
Search for the Star Stones is an omnibus of two linked Norton novels, 1968's The Zero Stone
and 1969's Uncharted Stars
. Many of Norton's books shared an ancient universe where the history of technological civilizations began long before humans appeared and would presumably long continue once we fell into dust with the rest. While the Zacathans managed to survive through two million years, such longevity is not the usual case and most of the civilizations that rose and fell, lumped together as a misleadingly unitary term “Forerunner”, are known only through enigmatic relics.( Read more... )
Some thoughts on success.
If you want a concrete measure of how different this year was from every other year of my career, here’s one:
This was the first time I went to cons and did not worry about how much a burger cost.
I did a lot of cons this year. I went to romance conventions, science fiction cons, writers conferences, BDSM events, and more. And not once did I balk at ordering that overpriced but oh-so-delicious burger from room service, the one that makes my poor introverted, battered soul feel whole again after a day of being “on.” Sometimes it came with fries. Sometimes with sweet potato tater tots. Sometimes with avocado and bacon. It was always, always satisfying. And in that sense it was worth every penny. Maybe food tastes better when it’s not tinged with worry that I can’t afford it.
Read the rest of this entry »
Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.
All of these have dropped in the last couple of days. The first few might stay free, since they have plenty of IAP available. The last probably won't.
1. Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage. A goofy game using the slice mechanic from Cut the Rope and Cat on a Diet, but with large chunks of ice. Some decent strategy stuff, and definitely worth grabbing for fans of physics-based puzzlers.
2. Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim. Yes, the same game that was on the PC some fifteen years ago. A little too heavy with the IAP at some points, but still a lot of nostalgic fun.
3. Beach Games. I'm a big fan of Donut Games, who do nice simple games that are really easy to get into and have a great aesthetic.. This is exactly what it sounds like, with simple games you'd play at the beach.
4. Krashlander --- I've mentioned this before (the last time it was dropped to free). This is a ridiculously hard, but incredibly well-done game. Basically, you're controlling a skier and trying to knock over robots. It's incredibly difficult, but really meticulously designed (and difficult in a good way, unlike, say, Swing Copters).
So there's a new show called Selfie. And it stars Karen Gillan (of Doctor Who fame), John Cho (of a zillion things, including Star Trek, the much-missed Go On, and some movies about stoners and NPH). And it's created by Emily Kapnek, who gave us Suburgatory (and likes to cast twentysomething redheads as her leads, I guess)!
Sounds great, right?
Jesus fuck, is the pilot a hot mess. It's available early on demand, but really, you'll want that time back. It's some of the worst writing I've ever encountered, and I've read multiple books from DC's New 52 as well as a Piers Anthony novel called The Color of Her Panties.
Look, Kapnek's always written "unrealistic" characters. That's part of Suburgatory's charm. But Gillan's Eliza Dooley (yes, the show's that unsubtle) is so fucking over the top, she's existing in a completely different world from the rest of the cast. She tosses around hashtags and acronyms like she's in a rejected Fallon skit, but associates with no one else speaking her "language," in spite of her success (which, we're told, is owed entirely to her short skirts and sexual availability; this is a classy show, folks). Kapnek seems to understand that social media is a thing that exists, and has clearly read Wikipedia articles about the various big platforms, but doesn't have a clue about how it actually works, or the type of engagement someone would have to commit to actually become Internet Famous. She also seems to completely misgrasp how an embarrassing video would affect someone's life (in this day and age, it abets celebrity, instead of hindering it).
The show is pretty much entirely about shaming people who use social media as narcissists (and specifically women; men in this show don't seem to have any online presence), and is the more ridiculous because it is both literally and creatively impossible for Eliza to have gotten where she is today with the personality or lack of knowledge she has.
There's one good scene -- an over-the-top wedding vow recital that strikes the right balance (so much so that I wouldn't doubt it was cut from a Suburgatory script). There are about three good lines in the rest of the episode, and only one (a dig at Gwyneth Paltrow) goes to either of the leads.
If you want to watch Cho and Gillan, just wait until someone on YouTube mashes up Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy; the result, no matter how amateurish, will be better than this mess.
I’ve got a guest post up at Magical Words talking about the character of Nicola Pallas.
Nicola has her own story in these books. She has to oversee a bunch of stubborn, overly bright magic-users, including my protagonist, librarian Isaac Vainio. She also has to deal with sparkling vampires attacking Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, werewolves in pickup trucks, and her least favorite thing ever: magical politics.
I had absolutely no interest in trying to show how she does all of this “despite” being autistic. Screw that. Autism, like just about anything else, can certainly present challenges, but Nicola is at a point where she understands and is pretty comfortable with how her brain works. That wasn’t something I wanted to focus on.
Click for more…
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
. Prompt: SCIENCE!
Once in a wood by a great city there lived a family of foxes. The head of the family, who wore the guise of lady or gentleman or other as the whim took them, had a splendid collection of jewels given to them by any number of human lovers. The younger foxes of the family studied this art of seduction diligently, not because foxes have any use for human baubles, but because the baubles they received from their lovers were an essential component in the game known as "human-fishing." Any number of humans could be lured into the wood for further pranks by the strategic placement of necklaces, rings, crowns; and from that point on they could be entangled in fox spells and fox riddles for endless hours of entertainment.
The very youngest fox, however, had no interest in any of this, to the despair of her family. Rather, her interest was in science. This in itself wasn't entirely dishonorable (from a fox viewpoint, anyway). After all, her sire said, with a certain determination to make the best of the situation, one of their ancestors had been the lover of a court alchemist, which was almost
like science. And if it made her happy, it made her happy.
The real problem was that her family had no idea how to accommodate the youngest fox's hunger for knowledge. It would have been one thing if she had a foxish interest in ethology or ecology, which could at least be related to the practical business of hunting. Even foxes who spend their spare time discussing trends in hair ornaments and the proper length of hems need to eat. No: the youngest fox showed distressingly little concern for the ways of the woods, and instead spent her time on boulders peering at the sky, or muttering to herself as she sketched diagrams, or keeping notes in a ledger book that her puzzled but kindly oldest sibling had stolen from an accountant lover. "Accountants are the hardest to steal from," they had remarked, hoping to slip in some proper education. "They always keep everything organized." The youngest fox had merely nodded distractedly, but at least she showed up for lessons long enough to practice shapeshifting so that she could use her human form to record her mysterious experiments.
One evening, while the youngest fox was investigating an ornamented spyglass that she had cajoled the head of the family to giving to her, the rest of the family met to discuss her future. "We can't send her to the city to make her fortune," said the head of the family, and there was general agreement. "She's a disaster at seduction and she'll undoubtedly use her teeth to get herself out of any trouble. But it's clear that the woods are not the right place for her either." Indeed, they had often caught the youngest fox pining over mysterious human implements like calipers, pendulums, and prisms.
"Well," said one of the siblings, "even if we can't teach her what she wants to learn, surely we can find her someone who can."
The youngest fox was bemused, then outraged, when over the course of the next month she found any number of measuring instruments and lenses scattered in the woods, instead of the more usual baubles. She spent her time gathering up the instruments and hoarding them, then, without telling anyone, slipped into the city in search of the objects' owner. (Another disadvantage, to her family's additional despair: she was that rarity, an honest fox.)
The youngest fox had not been neglecting her lessons quite so much as her family supposed, even if she rarely made use of the skills that they strove to impart to her. In this case, she tracked the instruments' owner, following their scent in the city's dreams. This person thought in great wheeling orbits and precessions and cycles, in measurements and the limitations of precision, and the youngest fox trembled with excitement at the wisdom in their mind.
So it was that a very surprised scholar, who had without success hired investigators to locate her stolen instruments, opened the door that night and saw a modestly beautiful youth with a bundle wrapped up in silk. "I must apologize for my relatives," the youth said, "but I believe these belong to you?" And, as the scholar unwrapped the bundle, the youth said, rather breathlessly, "You may have them back, but perhaps you have need of someone who can protect your belongings from importunate foxes?"
The scholar, who was not only wise in the ways of astronomy and geometry but had also noted the youth's amber eyes and the telltale russet sheen of their hair, only smiled. "Come in," she said, "and I will teach you what I know."
Naturally, the youngest fox's family had been watching. "That was the fastest seduction I ever saw," the oldest of the siblings said, "and it didn't even involve taking off her clothes. I would never have thought it of her."
"Maybe science is good for something after all?" said the second-oldest.
The head of the family merely licked a paw in satisfaction. Perhaps it wasn't how they had intended things to go, but a happy ending was as happy ending.
- thinking about:
I'm quickly discovering the pointlessness of reading boring books. It's one thing if I'm planning to engage with a bad book re: gender for Tor.com, but not if I'm just reading for fun. I lost interest in Alison Morton's Inceptio
a bit over halfway through (interesting premise -- a Roman nation surviving to the modern day led by women -- let down by flat writing, with barely any time spent talking about that nation and its gender politics because the main character is too interested in her boring by-the-numbers heterosexual romance), while I read the opening story of Peter F. Hamilton's Manhattan in Reverse
(free at WFC 2013), went "Mehh" and decided I had many better books to read instead.
On to the better books!Jonathan Strahan, ed. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 8 (Solaris Books: 2014)
Like any Year's Best, this is a mixed bag. I particularly liked Yoon Ha Lee's "Effigy Nights", M. John Harrison's "Cave and Julia" (I hadn't read any M. John Harrison in a few years and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the way he writes the subtly, devastatingly weird in the real world), Lavie Tidhar's "The Book Seller", Benjanun Sriduangkaew's "Fade to Gold" and Karin Tidbeck's "Sing". Others were enjoyable, if less memorable. Others were not. There's a definite presence of non-conservative stories here, a variety of voices, but not enough, and then the second-to-last story -- Ian McDonald's "The Queen of Night's Aria" -- is a retro-style adventure on Mars where women are retro-style sidelined, and it's so irredeemably backwards-looking that I don't see the point
, what is this for
? It speaks to a conservative thread that runs through this anthology alongside the forwards-looking thread. It's apt: the tension between conservative and forwards-looking in SFF was a significant feature of 2013 -- and 2014, too, and 2015, I don't doubt -- but I really just look forward to leaving this tension behind. Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad (Fixi Novo: 2014)
I love Zen Cho's writing! It's funny, comforting and clever. Spirits Abroad
collects some of Zen's short stories, which are often about families or friends -- not always living, not always human, not always on Earth -- but always important, if often difficult. The characters are so down-to-earth (that's... a bad pun for the earth spirit and Liyana, sigh), no matter who they are and whatever they're dealing with, whether an unexpected forum attendee or a difficult grandmother or moving to the Moon. I had a really great time reading Spirits Abroad
and I hope other people will too! Zen has helpfully listed where you can buy the book
. (I also like that the publisher's manifesto at the front of the book says "italics are a form of apology" re: italicising non-English words.)Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem, translated by Ken Liu (Tor: 2014)
I got an ARC. I'm glad: it's an interesting science fiction novel. It has several narrative threads. Young scientist Ye Wenjie falls afoul of political upheaval in the 1960s and is assigned to a mysterious base where she works for the following decades. In roughly the present day, scientist Wang Miao receives mysterious, scientifically impossible threats if he continues his nanomaterials research. In the game of Three Body
, Wang observes -- and contributes to solving -- the problem of sustaining life on a strange planet with three suns and periods of atmospheric chaos and stability.
The game segments most interested me, as well as Ye Wenjie's career: she's a compelling character, even if I strongly dislike the conclusion that humans will never redeem themselves and require outside intervention. It shifts responsibility away from us. It denies the possibility of hard work and change. Ye's experiences are pretty awful, so her conclusion is not that surprising, and fortunately the book points out the biggest problem with the idea of benevolent intervention. Back to the game segments. They, like the rest of the book, involve a lot of science! It's no surprise that they involve the titular three-body problem, which is especially fun when there's a planet added to the system and life has to evolve on the planet. I liked this aspect the best. It's incredible to imagine life surviving in such harsh conditions -- the sort of what-if I want in science fiction about space. (De-hy-drate...) It's a bit sly in places (the in-game personae of at least two prominent Western scientists are played by Chinese gamers -- one of them Wang), and fun to follow to its conclusion(s), which helps to compensate for Wang's lack of personality.
The prose is nothing to remark on and while there are varied female characters, there are also unnecessary moments such as a young woman being described as "so soft that the bullet hardly slowed down as it passed through [her body]". Right then. It's very het and binary-gendered. Some of the footnotes explaining cultural references are cringingly obvious, but I'm sure this is an impossible balance to strike. Fortunately the unnecessary moments are only moments, not the tone of the book: it's scientific/hard science fiction that doesn't think science/the future is 100% white men! More than just that, it's fun science and I liked a lot of the story. I look forward to the second and third books in the trilogy.Kaaron Warren, Walking the Tree (Angry Robot: 2010)
Free at WFC 2013. A secondary world fantasy novel I enjoyed sinking into: lots of worldbuilding (bones! ghosts! creepy tree!), a good story and a gender set-up that's not out of a privileged man's erroneous wet dream about the past.
Communities called Orders live around the Tree that takes up almost an entire island. Almost all children go on Schools: walking around the Tree, learning as they go, for the five years it takes for a full circumnavigation. Their teachers are young women, who each typically stay in one of the Orders along the way, ensuring genetic diversity. Men rarely move between Orders after school-age, instead enjoying power within their Orders, such as choosing the young women to be teachers. Women move between Orders as teachers, enjoying a privileged welcome into each Order and the freedom to choose where they stay (for the most part). Often, older women walk too. In all but the worst Order, women have access to contraception, their consent is respected and they are free to stay or move on as they choose.
This set-up does a decent job at disrupting the gendered assumptions of most secondary world fantasy, although it doesn't quite dismantle and rebuild. The (most) women = mothers thread was strong, although a mother can walk away around the Tree without her children. Men hold what I'd generally call 'political power'. There's an echo of our gender imbalances. The echo isn't strong enough to put me off. There are gay/lesbian characters (though the main character is relentlessly heterosexual), but I wish the book had reached the Order where many of the gay and lesbian people of the island live (or, say, normalised non-heterosexuality more so they don't have to go to that one Order). It's thoroughly binary-gendered. Walking the Tree
isn't everything I'd like to see in secondary world fantasy, but it's a decent read and I'm glad I got it.
- thinking about:
australia, book reviews, cyberpunk, fantasy, game theory, japanese literature, nature, privacy, sci-fi, science, social networking, technology, weather
No, I don’t mean suspension hooks, I mean delicious snippets from the book SLOW SATISFACTION! My latest BDSM romance, the final installment in the Struck by Lightning Trilogy, came out yesterday! Every week a group of romance writers all post a bunch of “book hooks” so check out links to all of them at the bottom of the post.
Spankings and bondage don’t make a person fall in love any more than candlelight and roses do.
1. “Negotiation is fun. Contracts are dull.” (Said James while running a cane over Karina’s buttocks)
2. “Spanking is only for those I love, not those I loathe.” -James
3. “Spankings and bondage don’t make a person fall in love any more than candlelight and roses do.”
4. “Any penalty he exacted if I failed would be as much fun as any reward for success. BDSM was win-win that way.”
5. Karina: “So our safeword is ‘no?’” </ br>James: “It’s a perfectly good word, isn’t it?”
6. “Oh fuck,” I said, and I meant it.
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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.
Here goes again! I am trying to earn money for art software (PaintTool SAI
, for the curious).
Ten slots for flash fiction at 200+ fiction (likely longer but no guarantee; on the other hand, you don't get charged for extra words!).
NOTE: This time around it is USD$6.49 per (because that leaves me $6.00 after Paypal takes its cut). Payment in advance, fic written to a one-to-two word prompt of your choosing, e.g. "dragons; milk" or "marmalade" or "feathers." I reserve the right to ask for an alternate prompt in case of Yoonfailure. Let me know if you want the story by a particular date so long as I have at least a week to write; otherwise, I will endeavor to have them done by the last day of September 2014. (Probably earlier.)ETA
: You'll want to send Paypal for "Goods and Services," so Paypal gets its cut; if you do "Family and Friends/Personal" or whatever it calls it, those forty-nine cents go to me. I owe at least one of you a refund, which I will do later in the day when I am actually awake.
Stories will be posted both to DW and the flashfic archive on my website
for other people to enjoy. Original fiction only unless you want something based on one of my own works (so, for instance, the world of Iria from Winterstrike is fair game).
For sample fics, check here
or the "stories" tag on DW
. That should give you an idea of my strengths.
Payment to email@example.com (Paypal). If you don't have Paypal, email me and we can work something out.
I don't allow anon commenting, so if you want a slot and don't have a DW account, you can contact me directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
: prompt: ?
prompt: SCIENCE! (paid) The Youngest Fox
: prompt: recursive pepper (paid)
: prompt: witches (alternate: dragons and marmalade) (paid)
: prompt: tricksters, loyalty (paid)
6. Christopher O.: prompt: ?
: prompt: egg (paid)
8. Andrew S.: prompt: [cotillion, Banach–Tarski paradox] OR [cotillion, stars] (paid)
: prompt: breakfast (paid)
- thinking about:
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gone rather viral. You’ve probably seen the videos on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or the online social media site of your preference. I’ve also seen some people pointing out problems with the challenge, as well as people who are just flat-out sick of seeing everyone dumping icewater on their heads. (Though how anyone could get tired of that…?)
As I understand it, the original challenge was that if you were called out, you were supposed to either donate to the ALS Association, or else you could dump a bucket of icewater on your head. Alternate rules are that you either donate $100, or do the ice bucket and donate $10.
I want to address some of the points I’ve seen raised.
1. A bunch of people messing around and dumping icewater on themselves doesn’t do anything to raise money or awareness, or to help people with ALS.
It’s certainly true that some of the videos and postings don’t specifically talk about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. I’m sure there are a lot of people who have watched the video or joined in the icewater-dumping without ever having a clue why this all started.
On the other hand, the ALS Association has received $88.5 million in donations as of today, August 26. During the same period last year? They received $2.6 million.
In other words, the ice bucket challenge has raised more than $80 million in funding to for research and assistance to people with ALS. My understanding is that a great many people dumping icewater on their heads are also donating to the ALS Association.
I do wish more videos and posts would focus on the goal of raising money and awareness for ALS. And yes, maybe not everyone is donating, and maybe some people aren’t getting the point … but a lot of people are. I’ve seen a lot of people posting and talking about their own experiences with the disease as a direct result of the ice bucket challenge, and the financial results are about as indisputable as you can get.
Yeah, it’s a goofy fundraiser. (Says the guy who fundraised in 2012 by doing goofy cover poses.) But it’s also damned effective.
2. The peer pressure and shaming element is uncool.
I admit, I have an instinctive response to people tagging and challenging me online, whether it’s the ice bucket or blogging about a particular thing or whatever the fad of the week might be.
I got tagged for this one a while back, saw the icewater-dumping thing with no additional information or context, and said nope. Delete and move on.
I see this as a case-by-case thing. Some people have been very cool about “inviting” instead of “challenging” others — a small difference, but an important one, I think. Others have refused to tag anyone at all, and instead suggest that anyone who’s interested should jump in. And I’ve seen people emailing or checking in behind-the-scenes to ask before challenging someone, which is cool.
Short version on this? Don’t shame people for saying no, or for not answering at all. Some people don’t have a dollar to spare. Others choose to support different causes. Don’t be an asshole about it.
If you’re one of the people bullying and shaming others as a part of the challenge? You’re actually discouraging people from participating. Knock it off.
3. It’s physically dangerous.
I’ve seen several references to an article titled “Ice Bucket Challenge Sees First Fatality?”
18-year-old Cameron Lancaster was found dead at Prestonhill Quarry and had allegedly taken part in the challenge just beforehand … According to reports, the quarry is often used for swimming and plenty of teenagers have jumped in the past. However, they have not completed the challenge beforehand. It took four hours to find the teenager’s body, and it is believed that the shock of the ice water and then jumping into the quarry stopped his body from working properly.
Forbes has a follow-up with more information and discussion. There’s also a false report of a girl who broke her neck doing the challenge.
Is it dangerous? It’s hard to say whether or not Lancaster’s death was caused by the challenge, but it’s possible. The ALS Association notes, “The Ice Bucket Challenge may not be suitable for small children, the elderly, anyone in poor health, or animals of any kind, so please use good judgment.” The trouble is, we human beings aren’t always known for our good judgment. There’s also the temptation to crank it up a notch to make a more dramatic video. Author Patrick Rothfuss went with a tub full of dry ice.
I don’t have an answer on this one. It seems to me that the risk is minimal … but that yes, there may be a potential risk here. My daughter was tagged by her cousin, and if she chooses to do the challenge, I’d let her — but I’d also make sure it was supervised, and that she’s only using H20 ice.
4. It’s clogging up my newsfeed!
Welcome to the internet. Use your Mute and Block buttons. Or go look at some cats instead.
While not perfect, I see this as a surprisingly effective fundraiser for a good cause, one that’s raised an impressive amount of money as well as some awareness, and also produced some fun, entertaining videos. I’m also reconsidering participating… But if I do, there will be no dry ice! I like my parts without iceburn, thanks.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Good: I felt recovered enough today from post-Gencon sick to write 500 words on FG (I am not sure that melding a quasi-Lovecraftian  mythos with a quasi-post-Korean War setting is precisely a good idea, but I will never know if I don't try).
Also good: I noodled a lot at Ratios.
Bad: I still need to do more basic worldbuilding before the end of the synopsis will fall into place. Ratios is interesting in that I have a basic concept of the beginning up to the midpoint. Then it falls to pieces because I haven't nailed down enough stuff to get a sense of the external conflict. (It's a space opera, so a certain amount of blowing things up will be required. I presume. Not like I'm an expert.) And the external conflict has to logistically line up with the other conflict and...aaaaagh.
(You can totally tell me I am stupid at this. Trust me, I am looking at my notes for today and I know I am stupid at this. It is very tempting to spill water on the lot, since I did not use water-resistant ink. I'm at the point where Rorschach blots would not only be more inspiring but make more sense.)
9FG was much easier on a macro scale because I knew the ending right from the beginning, and the conflict was baked into the protagonist/antagonist pair. The tactics of the middle were a complete pain in the ass and I ended up writing in too much only to have to simplify them on the grounds that most readers weren't going to be following the details, but at least I had a sense of the big picture.
Mainly, I hate worldbuilding, but not as much as I hate coming up with characters. It's also aggravating that at short story length the specifics I settle on for a given character don't matter as much in that I don't personally have to connect to or feel much for the character. They're just a puppet constructed to do the job. But at novel length, I can't sustain that. I have to have some connection to the protagonist or at least one of the major POVs or I completely lose interest. And I don't care how interesting that other person over there finds character concept X, it has to be a character concept X that interests me or I'm gone.
What's maddening is that I have a perfectly good metaphor for big space battles and a perfectly good narrative framework shtick  but I need people to make the space battles happen. :(
 I'm so good at literary terminology, I know.
I'm going to go do laundry because the usefulness of my brain for the rest of today is done. Maybe tomorrow some of this will look less hopeless.
Just out of curiosity, would there be any interest if I ran another flashfic round? I'd be charging $6.49 per (after the fee gets taken by Paypal, that would get me $6 per) and I am specifically trying to raise money for a piece of art software (Paint Tool Sai), not for anything actually important. :]
Joe says working at Starbucks would drive me crazy, which is probably true, but in all honesty working at Starbucks or fast food sounds like a good deal right now.
For a sample of what I mean by flashfic, here are a bunch
(clicking on the "stories" tag will also take you to the DW posts).
 I want to make things
. Unfortunately, making things
frequently requires getting set up with tools.
- thinking about:
Last night's dreams, including but not limited to: something about the ruins of high bridges and making love with the male-bodied version of someone I know as biologically female. Also they had small fanlike fins in the hollows of their hips, but that sort of thing is not uncommon in my dreams. I hope they don't mind.
I passed out before making any notes to myself on "Deep Breath," which derspatchel
and I finally got the chance to watch last night, long after my friendlist had exploded about it. Short course: I expected to like Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor and I did. His erratic scenes post-regeneration worked much better for me than Eleven's manic madcap antics and his later shyness felt genuine rather than sympathy-rigged, especially now that he has some sense of himself and his recent actions rather than hands he doesn't recognize and difficulty not flirting with tyrannosaurs. I'm not sure I'm a hugging person now . . .
He's the first Doctor in a very long time who looks as though human is not his default setting; he has some birdlike movements, a springy, wary fierceness which every now and then becomes something as bizarrely normal and diffident as an offer of coffee and chips. I find myself thinking tiercel
when I look at him. (Of course he's dangerous; when was the Doctor ever not?) I am just hoping that the question of why this
face is not really being set up as a series mystery; it answers itself pretty quickly. Capaldi ranting about his eyebrows is delightful. They probably want to secede from my face and set up their own independent state of eyebrows!
I was less endeared by the meta-plot of the episode, which seemed to feel the audience needed to be talked into accepting Capaldi's Doctor as strongly as Clara with her imprinting on youthful Eleven, stressing continuity with his predecessor rather than offering the latest iteration on his own terms. I believe it's a valid issue for Clara, but personally I was looking forward to Twelve; I don't need to be argued out of my bias against wiry grey hair and cantankerous brows. (I did like the Doctor being puzzled by his own reflection, lined with experiences he didn't live through; hearing the words out of his own mouth a beat too late to look away. You probably can't even remember where you got that face from.
) The phone call was really pushing it. I am also decidedly unsure about the random jags of slapstick and not just one, but three characters casually condemning Clara's personality flaws. I don't like her much as a character, but that has to do with how thinly she's written, not because I think she's an emotionally needy passive-aggressive egomaniac or any of the other labels the script suddenly felt the need to hang on her. It was like reverse fan service. "Nothing is more important than my egomania!" is a great line, but a cheap shot. If it was meant to build up to her moment of bravery among the clockworks—which was
well done—I think it backfired.
All through the episode I thought the clockwork leader looked familiar; I should have recognized him as the deserter Jacob
from A Field in England
(2013). To be fair, he had a beard there. And part of his face wasn't a naked metal frame.
I am all for seeing more of Jenny and Vastra as a marriage. It feels a little like cheating that their first kiss onscreen (that I've seen, anyway) is a life-saving sharing of breath rather than a moment of passion or everyday affection, but maybe people don't ever just kiss on Doctor Who
. Anyway, lesbian ninja lizard-human couples: rock on.
I'm not sure what it is with Moffat and theatrically flirtatious female antagonists. I hope Rob is right that she's the Rani, who has not yet appeared in New Who. Maybe the umbrella's because she watched a lot of The Prisoner
the last time she was on Earth.
I was really sad about the dinosaur.
Whew! It’s Day One of the Slow Satisfaction Blog Tour and there are a LOT of places you can read about the book, me, and enter to win copies:
Two hot excerpts (warning: spoilers) along with giveaways for 10 sets of autographed books (all three in the series!) are at Katiebab’s Babbling About Books and at Smut and Bon Bons.
And then a third excerpt (warning: spoilers) is up on a plethora of blogs. Thanks to the Mixed Emotions Book Blog, My Book Filled Life, Deal Sharing Aunt, Sapphyria’s Steamy Reviews, Confessions of a Librarian in Training, Buttontapper Press, and Jersey Girl Sizzling Reviews for blitzing the excerpt on launch day!
Eager Reader posted the first review!
“Soooo thankful that I got my hands on this book a little bit early since this has become one of my favorite series to date. We have been taken on such a roller coaster and the games that they play are so intricate that I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been really excited to see where it goes… while i’m sad that the trilogy is over, I’m really happy with how it went!”
Read the full review here: Eager Reader.
And I wrote a guest blog for Rainy Day Reviews:
“I wanted to write a story about a kinky billionaire because I feel some of the books out there are, well, giving kinky billionaires a bad name.”
Read my guest blog on why I wrote Slow Satisfaction: BookjunkieMom’s Rainy Day Reviews.
Many more blogs, contests, and interviews are coming in the next 14 days!
Oh, also, did you see that the UK/Australia/NZ ebook editions of all three Struck by Lightning books launched today, too? From Piatkus Entice, an imprint of Little, Brown UK! Check it out: http://www.piatkusentice.co.uk/ebooks/slow-surrender/
Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.