What I Just Finished Reading
The Language of Thorns, a short-story collection by Leigh Bardugo. I wasn't really feeling the love for this until I got to the last two stories: a disquieting re-imagining of The Nutcracker (inspired, says the author, by The Velveteen Rabbit!) and a retelling of The Little Mermaid as an unexpected origin story. Those two alone were worth it! Really wondrous illustrations, too.
The Genius Plague, by David Walton, a techno-thriller with an interesting less-techno twist. I pretty much raced through this (and found the resolution a bit of a let-down.) It was an engaging read, but I doubt iif I'll read the inevitable sequels.
What I Am Currently Reading
Still working my way through The Book of Swords, but to be honest, Ellen Kushner and Richard St Vier were the high points of that book for me.
Akata Witch, by
Nnedi Okorafor, whose Binti books I have loved to pieces. (Oh, and are you excited about Black Panther? Here's a great article from the Washington Post about Afrofuturism, to help you get ready!
What I Am Reading Next
Five of my library holds came in on Friday! So sitting in the stack are Territory, by Emma Bull, and Nod, by Adrian Barnes. Today's episode of Tremontaine just showed up on my desktop, and, and, the new Philip Pullman book is coming out tomorrow! I'm doing another Readathon session at Curious Iguana on Saturday, and so will pick it up to read then.
Question of the Day: What books are you looking forward to right now?
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Vol. 2: Don't Stop Me-Ow remains really cute and fun and drawn in manga-esque style. Vampire Jubilee and her adopted son showed up in this one, as did Jessica Jones and Hellcat's two ex-husbands. Also there was karaoke. In contintuity, this fell into the time period when She-Hulk was in a coma, but that plotline managed to feel hopeful even though Patsy/Hellcat was unhappy.
Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison is a mixed bag. There was some insightful commentary on the history of comics from the pov of a major comics writer. There were also some memoir elements and psychological musings that sometimes got a little too convoluted for my taste. I think the book was compiled from various essays and interviews, which would explain why it sometimes looped back on the same ideas after meandering the byways.
Warning for dated but not apparently derogatory use of the word tranny.
But I enjoyed it, overall, for sections like this:
Where Superman strove for modernity in everything from the image of its hero to the kinetic editing of its torn-from-the-headlines narrative, the Batman strip reveled in the trashy aesthetic of the mystery pulps and the penny dreadfuls.
From the very beginning, Batman habitually found himself dealing with crimes involving chemicals and crazy people, and over the years he would take on innumerable villains armed with lethal Laughing Gas, mind-control lipstick, Fear Dust, toxic aerosols, and "artificial phobia" pills. Indeed, his career had barely begun before he was heroically inhaling countless bizarre chemical concoctions cooked up by mad blackmarket alchemists. Superman might have faced a few psychic attacks, but, even if it was against his will every time, Batman was hip to serious mind-bending drugs. Batman knew what it was like to trip balls without seriously losing his shit, and that savoir faire added another layer to his outlaw sexiness and alluring aura of decadence and wealth.
Which made me laugh every time, thinking of friends writing Yuletide.
Anyway, her swaps were a big hit, and if you need a Yuletide beta and you think I might know your fandom, hit me up even if it's not on the spreadsheet. Comments are screened.
[*] Any kind of little craft on a safety pin that you can trade.
So I'm not doing links again until I feel competent. I used all my competence for today in posting my Stage of Fools story.
But I am reading whatever y'all write, and glad of it.
⌈ Secret Post #3940 ⌋
Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.
( More! )
Secrets Left to Post: 01 pages, 25 secrets from Secret Submission Post #564.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.
(Resurrecting a post that’s been sitting in the Drafts folder for almost 2 years now, and testing a new crossposting plugin at the same time.)
We are not social people. Well, okay, we’re selectively social. We have our groups of friends that we see now and then, but we don’t generally seek out new acquaintances. This will become important in a bit.
But we do like to cook. When looking for things to do on this trip, Stephanie found this cooking class that covers several Japanese dishes, and includes a main dish of actual Kobe beef. We figured, “Sounds cool!” and signed up.
( Read more... )
In Crossovering, I want to mention that sovay said that my gift fic Frank & the Phoenix is perfectly readable without knowing David Blaize (it's a crossover with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Frank Maddox/Newt Scamander) and actually, I think that as long as you are familiar with the Harry Potter-verse, it should be fine. Other Crossovering stories I particularly liked:
And Bide the Danger (6764 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling, Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Amelia Bones/Susan Pevensie, Amelia Bones & Edgar Bones, Aslan & Susan Pevensie, Amelia Bones & Alastor Moody, Edgar Bones/Original Female Character(s)
Additional Tags: Crossovers & Fandom Fusions, The Problem of Susan, Temporal Paradox, Department of Mysteries, Dark Character, Deus Ex Machina, Investigations
Summary: Susan Pevensie: former Unspeakable, legendary beauty, possible Dark witch. A young Amelia Bones, eager to make her mark on MLE, has just been assigned to track her down. But the further Amelia proceeds with her investigation, the more questions she uncovers - especially once she meets Susan herself.
The Start of a Long Summer (1676 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Azula (Avatar), Tumnus
Additional Tags: Crossover, Attempted Kidnapping
Summary: Azula steps through a wardrobe to find a kidnapping faun and a wintry kingdom ripe for regime change.
There are also two lovely artworks for due South/Lost, and although I'm not familiar with Lost I certainly can recognize the dS characters in Bob Pays a Visit to the Travelers and Kenzi Meets Diefenbaker.
In the Femslashex collection, I particularly liked these:
The Part of Her Hair (10596 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Mary Bennet/Original Female Character
Characters: Mary Bennet, Original Female Character, Lydia Bennet, Kitty Bennet
Additional Tags: Falling In Love, Family Bonding
Summary: Miss Gibson said, “In the spirit of truthful admission, Miss Bennet, I intend to spend some time devising the right question for you. If I may see you again?”
Why did that sound strange? But she always sounded strange to people herself. And it was a familiar kind of strangeness, as if it were something she had heard before, only not like this.
Mary, constrained by the principles of truth, could only admit that she would enjoy that very much.
A Golden Thread Between Hearts (1633 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Seasons of Glass and Iron - Amal El-Mohtar
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Tabitha (Seasons of Glass and Iron), Amira (Seasons of Glass and Iron)
Additional Tags: Post-Canon, First Kiss
Summary: Tabitha and Amira travel, and grow, and love.
(The canon for the second is a freely-available short story I recced before: Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar, which is f/f fairytale fantasy with an edge of grimdark.)
There are actually many other excellent stories in both collections, and I encourage you to browse!
My fanfic entry is here, and I'm pretty sure you will be able to purchase me for a very low price, with this many amazing people participating.
My vidding entry is here, and while my minimum bid is a little higher at $40 (because vids are a lot more work and involve more equipment), I'm also sure that will not get bid up much, so you can have me for a lot less than the VVC auctions usually go for!
In other news, I just wrote and deleted a writing rant, but suffice it to say, "start as close to the end as possible" remains one of the best and most useful bits of writing advice I ever heard.
Today Tor Books is releasing Old Man’s War in a spiffy new “mini”-format hardcover edition: All the benefits of a hardcover book, miniaturized for your convenience! It’s available at your favorite bookstores in the US and Canada, and it’s no coincidence that it’s being released just prior to the holiday season. Stocking stuffer, my friends, and/or a nice little gift for, like, day four of Hanukkah. But you don’t need to wait for the holidays to get it. You can get it today. For yourself! And pick up several copies for friends! Distribute them like Pez! It’s the Covandu version of OMW, if you will, and if you get that joke, thank you for being a fan.
I’m delighted at this new mini hardcover of OMW because, among other things, the original hardcover run of the book, almost thirteen(!) years ago now, is actually pretty small: about 3,700 for the first printing, and about 7,700 overall. OMW really took off in the trade paperback edition a year after the initial release. As a result, the hardcovers have always been hard to find — great news for collectors, to be sure. Not so great for anyone else.
So, dear everyone else: This edition is for you. Enjoy!
Hey, you know how irritated you get when your internet access goes down? Elizabeth Bonesteel gets you. And so does her latest novel, Breach of Containment. She’s here to explain — provided your connection doesn’t suddenly go out…
We live in the woods, and that means, among other things, we have the crappiest internet service in the state*.
(*This almost certainly isn’t true. I’ve heard rumors there are towns in the western part of the state that still rely on dialup. I keep hoping that’s an ugly rumor spread by Verizon to keep us all compliant and grateful.)
People in town rely on a mish-mash of solutions. Ours is a T1 line. It’s slow (1.5 Mb up/down), and when it drops it drops for days. There’s nothing quite like the sensation of seeing Netflix give up the ghost, and then pulling up your web browser to see that progress bar just…stall.
It amazes me how much I’ve come to depend on the net—not just for news and cat videos, but for a sense of connection to the rest of the world. When the line goes down, it’s so easy to imagine there’s nothing out there at all anymore—that the silence will go on forever, and we’ll sit here alone in the woods, never discovering what’s happened to the rest of the world.
Within my lifetime, society has become dependent on instant communication.
Breach Of Containment is set roughly a thousand years in the future, where we’ve colonized a (still pretty damn small) part of the galaxy. Despite the distances, everything is elaborately connected. In addition to a network of government and military communications channels, all monitored and encrypted, there are entirely unregulated data streams over which both reliable and unreliable information fly unfettered. Most of my characters live aboard Galileo, a military starship, and they’re never disconnected from the officers giving orders. Neither are they ever free of consequences when they get creative about interpreting those orders (which happens far more often than it should).
At one point, as I was assembling this book, I thought: what if all that gets cut off? What if I dump them in the soup, and sever their access to intelligence, orders, even news of their families?
Structurally, that idea both simplified and complicated the plot. Breach Of Containment is, in many ways, your traditional are-we-preventing-or-starting-a-war adventure story. Galileo is working in an atmosphere of uncertainty and deceit at this point: some of their orders are legit, some are distractions designed to keep them out of the way of internal government intrigue, and they don’t always know which are which. When the communication channels back to Earth are lost, it suddenly stops mattering which commanding officer is trustworthy and which is a seditious traitor. Losing communications meant my characters didn’t need to waste time figuring out whether or not a bunch of tangential folks we don’t care about are on the right side or not.
But severing communications also let me play with people’s heads, and it’s no secret I love the messy character stuff. I’ve got three principals at this point, and Breach Of Containment begins with all of them stretched thin. Elena, formerly Galileo’s chief of engineering, has been out of the Corps for a year, and is feeling rootless and without purpose. Greg, Galileo’s captain, has been dutifully following orders, but is feeling less and less like his years of service have resulted in making any substantive difference for real people. Jessica, Greg’s now-seasoned second-in-command, sees most clearly the tightrope they’re walking between following potentially erroneous orders and dealing with a massive conspiracy that is almost certainly beyond their ability to stop.
Basically, I made sure everybody was tense and cranky, and then I cut their T1 line.
On top of that, I put them on a timer. There’s an armada headed toward Earth, and the big question is whether they’re intending to help, or to invade the vulnerable planet while nobody can warn them. And the only sources of information my happy crew has got? A retired Admiral who’s a gray-hat at best, a rival government’s starship and her relentlessly cheerful captain, and a nervous emissary who’s delivered a cryptic message that she seems convinced makes perfect sense. (Oh, and a talking box. I always forget the talking box.)
When you have no news and you can’t Google, how do you make your decisions?
Here in the real world, I didn’t have a smartphone until last December. (I’m not a Luddite. I’m just cheap.) Since then, the T1 outages have been far less unnerving. It’s comforting to be able to check Twitter and verify the outage isn’t part of some apocalyptic event. Sometimes I’ll even waste some data on a cat video. But every time, in that few seconds before my Twitter feed comes up, I feel that disorienting sense of being unmoored from the rest of the world. It’s not a great state of mind in which to make important decisions…but it’s not a bad catalyst for a plot.