chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Bound in Blood (vol. 5 of the Chronicles of the Kencyrath by P.C. Hodgell), vol. 2 of the manga series 21st Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa, vol. 11 of the manga series Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden by Yuu Watase (and boy, is there a style whiplash between those two series ... ), and Redshirts by John Scalzi. The Hodgell was a re-read of an old favorite (and hmmm, where's my copy of Honor's Paradox, the next volume?); the other three were new. I'll write up the Scalzi at some point: I enjoyed it, but it was fairly slight for the most part.

(Oh, and the mysterious re-read I was doing earlier was The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, by Neal Stephenson.)

What are you currently reading?

I'm mostly reading bits and pieces of C.J. Cherryh's Regenesis (the sequel to Cyteen), for something I'm thinking about writing.

What do you think you'll read next?

Good question! Somewhere around the house is a copy of Among Others by Jo Walton: that's the last of the books I got for the winter holidays that I have not yet read. Or I could re-read N.K. Jemisin's Gujaareh books (The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun) so that I could write them up ... and the same with Jim C. Hines' Libriomancer. But there's an equal chance that I will dig out some old favorite to re-read, because that's my usual response to having finished something new.

 

chomiji: A chibi cartoon of Hotaru from the manga Samurai Deeper Kyo, with a book. Caption: Manga Joy (Manga joy!)

What have you just finished reading?

The cover of vol. 13 of the manga Black Butler, showing Ceil's young fiancee Lizzie in her petticoats, armed with a sword and a scowl

Volume 8 (the latest volume) of the manga series Bunny Drop. This tale of a little girl who is adopted by her adult nephew (yes ... you see, her father was the guy's grandfather) does a time skip after volume 4, and the viewpoint shifts from 30-year-old bachelor Daikichi to now-teenaged Rin. I'm not enjoying the later volumes as much as I did the first four, but it's still a fairly interesting slice of life series.

Also: volume 13 of the manga series Black Butler. The last couple of volumes followed young Ceil and his faithful demonic butler Sebastian as they take an ill-fated voyage on a luxury ocean liner. The cover, presented here, shows all you really need to know, IMO (although it really depicts an event that happened last volume). Yes, that is sweet little Lizzie, Ceil's fiancee, in her petticoats, wielding two cavalry sabers. She's good with them, too. What was she fighting? Zombies, basically. This is Black Butler, after all. This volume opens with a capsule flashback of Lizzie's upbringing. We also find out the Straight Dope about the Undertaker.

What are you currently reading?

The third omnibus volume of the manga Gunslinger Girl

What do you think you'll read next?

Probably John Scalzi's Redshirts. I've been going through tor.com's Star Trek TOS re-watch (this is a couple of years old), which is getting me into the right frame of mind, I think.

chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)

I really enjoyed this writeup of C.J. Cherryh's Regenesis, the sequel to Cyteen.

chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)

C. J. Cherryh has been having troubles with the fish pond in her backyard, but now that things seem to be back to normal, she introduces us to her fish (link to her blog, where there's a photo):

The fishes are: Ari, the big cream-colored one; Maddy, the white one with the fins; Byakuya, the black with gold fins; Renji, the orange/white, and the owner of the black spot against the white is another white fish, Ishida, who has black spots. I’m not sure who is crowding in from the bottom, but it could be Kenpachi or Denys.

(For those who may not be familiar with the fandoms involved, the fish are named after characters from either her own novel Cyteen or the manga/anime series Bleach.)

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Default)

We finally saw this! Helluva movie, innit? I am not going to do much of a plot + critique writeup because it seems that everyone all over the Intarwebs has already done so, week ago.

In a nutshell, Loki (yes, that Loki) steals a strange, powerful McGuffin artifact from a secret lab on Earth and plans to trade it for an invasion force of aggressive aliens. Nick Fury of the spy organization SHIELD assembles a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits response team consisting of the Black Widow, Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye (eventually), and Thor (who is, as you may recall, Loki's brother, or half-brother, or adopted brother). Major mayhem and hundreds of explosions ensue.

One striking thing that many have noted is the lack of classic intrusive male gaze in the movie. There are a number of fan service-y, shots, but the men get them as often as the women. And among the women, the usual camera target is Fury's deputy, Agent Maria Hill, rather than the Black Widow, who gets to play as one of the team to a degree that made me very happy. No, it's not perfect in that regard (as has been noted, despite several named female characters, the movie does not pass the Bechdel Test), but what is?

Cut for list of thoughts/ideas, with spoilers )
chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)

This session of our pulp SF tabletop RPG campaign actually took place a while ago, before I started taking detailed notes, so it will be a little sketchy.

When we last left Trask Force Alpha, they were finishing up solving the problem of the sabotage at the lunar water-generation stations. Their next assignment was to mingle with and prevent problems among the passengers and crew of the Mars Express, a luxury space liner that happened to be taking a large number of diplomats and corporate representative to a special meeting of the Solar System Congress on Mars. At stake: a "planetary genesis" project that would create self-contained new planetoids capable of sustaining oxy-breathing life ... .

January's exciting episode! )
chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)

We've been playing this scenario for a couple of years, real time. I'm not going to attempt to summarize the whole thing (and I know I've forgotten some details), but here's the cast list and an introduction.

Read more... )
chomiji: Yukimura from Samurai Deeper Kyo, smiling and clapping his hands. Caption: Happiness (Yuki-happy)

lady_ganesh's friend box (who has, hmmm, adopted the same journal style as I have right now ... I was confused there for a minute) has finished her drawing of my current RPG character, and I am very happy with the result. It's just in time for our session this Saturday, too. Say hello to Hoshi Canid Mendel:

Cut for largish image )
chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)

Niall Harrison at Torque Control, the blog of the editorial staff of Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association, wants to hear from you:

I therefore invite you all to email me your top ten sf novels by women from the last ten years (2001–2010). Again, science fiction, although I leave it up to your conscience to decide which, if any, books that excludes. And for this, I think, the books can have been published anywhere ... .

Read the whole column for details (including the e-mail link). Note especially that he wants books from the most recent decade (which leaves out many of my own favorites).

(From James Nicoll)

chomiji: Yukimura from Samurai Deeper Kyo, smiling and clapping his hands. Caption: Happiness (Yuki-happy)

Press release here.

"Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ooku: The Inner Chambers (volumes 1 & 2) explores an alternate version of feudal Japan, in which a plague has killed three out of every four boys. In this world, young men are protected and sheltered; women have secretly taken positions of authority and power. The Japanese ruler or shogun and the feudal lords are women and much of the story takes place among the men in the shogun’s harem. The title of the work refers to the living quarters for the shogun’s harem, contained within Edo Castle.

"The selection of Ooku: The Inner Chambers marks the first time that manga has been chosen for the Tiptree Award. Though no one on the jury is an expert on manga or on Japanese history, the jurors fell in love with the detailed exploration of the world of these books ... ."

Thanks to james_nicoll for pointing this out.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

I am so behind in reviewing things, because November and December were big months for other kinds of writing. I read a number of things though - enough that my INFP brain can't figure out where to start.

[Poll #1507384]
chomiji: An artists' palette with paints of many human skin colors. Caption: Create a world without racism (IBARW - palette)

Hamza Senesert was once a contender, a creative grad student with a talent for writing. Now he washes dishes in a trendy "fun" restaurant. His best friend Yehat Gerbles is in a similar state of career petrification: he works as a clerk in a video store, even though he's a (mostly) self-taught engineering wizard. Together, they share a house in a vibrant multi-ethinic neighborhood of Edmonton (Canada) called Kush, where they are the Coyote Kings, well-liked operators of a camp/afterschool activity center for the neighborhood kids and connoisseurs of science fiction, comics, and role-playing games.

Their weirdly pleasant world (weirdly, considering their job situations and Hamza's writer's block and broken heart) becomes a lot more weird and much, much less pleasant when Hamza meets and falls for a truly impressive woman of mystery named Sherem. All at once, these endearingly geeky lifelong buddies are mixed up with comic book-type villains who are all too real and deadly, strangely seductive drugs, and bizarrely horrific cults.

I really enjoyed this book, which plays right into my love of buddy stories and generalized geekdom. I will note that Faust is in love with language, and writes like it: this is in no way a straightforward narrative (indeed, it begins with an epilogue). It also includes several very gruesome, violent scenes, and Sherem is the only female character with more than a walk-on part.

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Yuuko - parlor)

This is why Science Fiction can’t have nice things

(A post on Alas! Blog on Amptoons, by The Angry Black Woman (also cross-posted on her own blog))

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (shigure-book)

I should go to bed. We spent hours at the Maryland Renaissance Faire, and hours playing D&D, and my shoulders and neck hurt for some reason.

But right now I'm going to do this meme, which I ganked from meganbmoore:

* Grab the nearest book.
* Open the book to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.



Ben said, to someone at the door, "He had a dream, that's all."

From Hellburner, by C.J. Cherryh, which was lying on my desk about 4 inches from my left hand because I've been writing a huge, rambling LJ entry about it, in bits and pieces, for more than a month.

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (shigure-book)

I recently talked smillaraaq into reading this old favorite of mine, so it seemed like a good time to re-read it myself. This cheerful, comic space opera from the 1960s has no ax to grind and no pretenses of presenting anything but a cracking good time. However, it's strangely modern in its near-disregard of the sex-role stereotyping of its era. Most notably, our square-chinned young male protagonist spends most of the story depending on the skills, common sense, and knowledge of an 11-year-old girl - whose mother is also presented as a force to be respected.

Gallant but impecunious young Captain Pausert of the planetary Republic of Nikkeldepain (a place that sounds as though it's run by the descendants of Michael Bloomberg's arm of the GOP) has been given one last chance to redeem himself financially in the eyes of both his government and his secret fiancee's father. He's been given an aged starship and a cargo of leftover bits and pieces to sell, and turned loose on a trading mission. Things are going splendidly when he hits the planet of Porlumma, part of a classic space opera Empire where slavery is is legal, and encounters three enslaved young sisters - Maleen, Goth, and the Leewit (yes, the Leewit), ages 14, 11, and 6 - in need of rescuing. Good-hearted Pausert does so, at considerable cost and personal risk (slavery is illegal on Nikkeldepain), and even volunteers to take the girls back to their mysterious home planet, Karres.

He probably should have thought harder about the fact that the owners of the girls are only too happy to sell them off.

Soon Pausert is on the lam, wanted on his home planet and in the Empire, traveling to the far side of the galaxy with Goth as his advisor and becoming involved in interstellar politics on a grand scale. He learns (and we do too) about the ill-omened Chaladoor, a huge, forbidding section of space traversed only by the bold and the foolhardy; Uldune, an entire planet of successful interstellar crooks; Worm World, a noxious place inhabited by the Nuri Worms, whose activities turn the skies of planets yellow and cause their inhabitants to run screaming mad; the dread Agandar, a pirate lord of all-too-serious competence; psychic entities called vatches, which think that they are dreaming the lives of more corporeal beings; Sheem robots; Moander who Speaks with a Thousand Voices; the Megair Cannibals; grik-dogs; and much much more. It's a heady, frothy concoction that still manages to build to a genuinely scary climax that leaves the reader glad for the eventual happy ending.

It's the perfect companion to a cup of hot chocolate and a plate of cookies on a cold winter day. Read it. It will make you smile, as it has for me on every re-read since I was Goth's age.

Read on - spoilers! )
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (shigure-book)

These are mostly for smillaraaq. Somewhere deep in the guts of the Meta Thread from Heck (f-locked, I am afraid), which started out innocently as a notice of a fic posting on my other account and now exceeds 300 posts, she mentioned that she had not read much (or did not recall much) Cherryh, and as CJC is about my favorite SF writer, I felt this needed to be remedied. And when I said so, she said she'd also appreciate recs for DWJ - who is one of my favorite fantasy authors. So, without further ado ... .

Cut to lists of recs for both )
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (shigure-book)

This story takes place in the sprawling, dirty, steam-powered city of New Corbuzon, only some of whose inhabitants are human. Isaac Den der Grimnebulin is one, a freelance scholar and scientist. His lover, Lin. is a talented sculptor and a kephri, a beetle-headed alien humanoid. One fateful day, they both undertake new commissions. During the course of his, Isaac will inadvertently release a terrible, inconceivable danger into the city, putting potentially all of its population at risk, and directly threatening Lin, whose ruthless employer misinterprets Isaac's actions as a direct threat to his own empire. Isaac assembles a ragtag band who engage in a number of remarkable escapades to stop the growing catastrophe that he started.

Mieville can definitely write. Not all of the society that he has invented makes sense, however, and the whole thing hangs together mainly because of the dramatic momentum of the story. He tosses elements together the way that I have done myself when creating roleplaying scenarios, evidently thinking "Wow, what a cool idea!" and chucking it into the mix. When things were clicking, I found myself thinking of Cordwainer Smith's "Instrumentality of Mankind" stories - "The Ballad of Lost C'mell," "A Planet called Shayol," the novel Norstrilia, and others. But Smith had a deep love of both animal and humankind, and a basically optimistic outlook. Mieville seems to me to be much more negative, and pretty disgusted with much of humanity.

Finally, Mieville's basically a horror writer. He dwells lovingly on every scene of pain, terror, and torment that occurs during the course of this story - and there are plenty of them. I don't read horror fiction. Real life is bad enough. I don't know that I will ever re-read this book, and I don't know that I will ever read any more of Mieville's adult fiction. His children's book Un-Lun-Dun has received some stellar reviews, and I may give it a shot, simply because I seriously doubt he'd subject younger readers to the kind of thing that upset me about this book.

Read on for a bit more, including some spoilers )
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Default)

First, let me state without a blush that I am of the opinion that as an author, Cherryh on her worst day is better than the vast majority of science fiction authors at their best. I will also say, however, that I wish the Foreigner series was not so insanely popular. I like it, but I don't love it. I'd really rather see CJC Herself spend her time and energy on other projects, like the sequel to Cyteen that she has in the works, or perhaps seeing whether Compact Space (i.e., the Chanur books) is ready to offer up any more tales.

Still, I didn't expect to be so disappointed with Pretender. In Destroyer, the previous book, human translator/ambassador Bren Cameron had arrived back on the Atevi homeworld after a long, eventful space voyage to find that Tabini, his staunch ally (and also the grandson and father of his travelling companions, Ilisidi and Cajeiri), had been overthrown as leader of the powerful Western Association. Amid many adventures, Bren and his allies gained refuge in the ancient home of peppery, elderly Lord Tatiseigi. The current volume covers a very short span of time thereafter, as Bren and his allies suffer fallout from an internal battle for control of the powerful Assassin's Guild, gather themselves additional supporters (including Tabini, who reappears ... this is not a spoiler, it's in the cover blurb), and make a wild cross-country dash to Shejidan, the capital, where Tabini is to re-convene the governing body of the Alliance and Bren will give his report on what he found Out There.

That's not a lot of action. It's certainly not enough for a book of this length (404 pp. of moderately large type). And so we get page after page of Bren worrying. And rehashing. And speculating. And going through things in his mind in extreme detail, to make sure that we understand what's going on, I guess. I found myself skimming huge chunks of book, desperately searching for dialog or action - both of which, I must say, are wonderful when they finally show up. But there isn't enough of either to sustain the whole. This reads all too much like the second half of Destroyer - and indeed, the back cover blurb really covers both books!

Read on - includes a few minor spoilers )

On an equally crabby note, I have decided to hate Visio. It keeps connecting org chart boxes where I don't want it to connect org chart boxes. I have never used such an out-of-control product, and I am perfectly comfy with things like Corel Draw, Photoshop, and PowerPoint, among other things, thank you. This program is possessed!!

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