chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-06-21 09:33 pm

Reading Wednesday

I finished All the Birds in the Sky. It wasn't bad, but it just sort of ended: too much build up, not enough resolution. And now I'm annoyed by the title, because although it sounds really nifty, it doesn't have all that much to do with the story. This is not going to be my top vote for best novel, I'm afraid.

Also in Hugo reading, I read through Ursula Le Guin's Words Are My Matter, a collection of recent short non-fiction pieces. I love Le Guin as an essayist, and the first part of the book contains some good examples. But the back half-and-a-bit is introductions to books and book reviews, and I found those less interesting. A number of them were for non-genre literary or magical realism works that didn't sound as though they'd appeal to me. She did mention a couple of Western (as in, Western U.S.) novels that I might want to look up, which I will mention here partially for my own reference: Crazy Weather by Charles McNichols and The Jump-Off Creek and The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss. Also, although Perdido Street Station pretty much put me off China Mielville for life, her review of Embassytown is making me reconsider.

Overall, unless the rest of the Related Works are very mediocre, I don't think this will be my top pick in that category.

I have just started Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, which is short-listed for Best Novel. A number of the readers on File 770 had trouble with this book, but I'm not finding it problematic thus far. Possibly the fact that I actually like Anthony Burgess' A Dead Man in Deptford (link goes to Kirkus review), which was also purposefully written in the style of an earlier era, has something to do with this. I'll have to see where the book goes, of course.

Finally, I'll be re-reading some of Fruits Basket, Because Reasons. Does anyone recall the number of the exact volume in which Machi shows up? It's when she wrecks the student council room, if the Wikia is to be believed.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-06-14 09:30 pm

Reading Wednesday

Drive-by post: reading All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I had been arguing with myself back and forth about getting it, but then it became a Hugo finalist, and so I got it in the voting packet.

I'm interested in it, but I feel a little uneasy about where it's going, and also it's somehow not super-enjoyable on the emotional level. I think there are too many misunderstandings and seeming betrayals. On the other hand, the depiction of the slow-motion slide into dystopia, with bits and pieces of technology and societal systems failing and people seeming to just shrug their shoulders and adapt, is kind of interesting.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2017-04-05 08:54 pm

Why Look, It's a Reading Post

So actually I have been doing quite a lot of reading, much of it trying to get caught up to make Hugo nominations (which I did do, yay).

I'm going to be doing really quick write-ups here, because I'm covering several weeks. If anyone wants to discuss any of this in more detail, I'll do my best!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – Enjoyable ensemble cast SF: an accountant/business manager joins the crew of a small, independent working ship and finds a family of sorts. The setting is vaguely reminiscent of David Brin's Uplift series, in that Earth is a backwater planet joining a larger universe of many other sentient beings.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – Nominally, the sequel to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, although it follows only two of the characters from the original book. A ship's AI ends up in a humanoid (robot/android) body and has to learn to live with all that this implies; alternate chapters follow the backstory of the AI's new mentor/engineer as she grows up as a child slave in a robot-run factory. I actually enjoyed this more than the first book, but YMMV.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett – Interesting fantasy of an emerging industrialized world (trains are pretty well established, but rifles are new) that until recently featured living, active gods. The action takes place in the lands that used to be god-protected, now conquered by its former slaves. The equivalent Earth civilizations used for the cultures seem to be Eastern Europe (formerly god-protected) and South Asia (former slaves), which gives a different flavor from the usual Extruded Fantasy Product. Diplomat and operative Shara Thivani, of the now-ascendant culture, investigates the murder of an academic in the central city of the former ruling nation and discovers something very disturbing. Strong female characters, including the lead. Warning: the opening scene is deadly dull … but it's meant to be, I think.

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett – Takes place a few years after the previous novel. Former general Turyin Mulaghesh, an ally of Shara in the first book, is pulled out of her increasingly inebriated retirement to investigate the disappearance of an operative in backwater Voortyashtana, where an important new harbor is being built by the conquerors. Mulaghesh finds that the mysteries of what's happening in Voortyashtana have more significance to her than she could ever have imagined. I like Mulaghesh even better than Shara.

Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 20 by Yuki Midorikawa – This series remains its usual comforting, mildly spooky self, bless it. I do wonder whether the mangaka is ever again going to pick up the threads about the sinister exorcist Matoba, but he doesn't make an appearance in this volume.

Right now, I'm re-reading The Secret Garden as a break. Reading lots of new things tires me, even when I enjoy it. I have Cherryh's latest Foreigner book on my Kindle, and I'm still trying to make myself finish volume 1 of the manga A Case Study of Vanitas by Jun Mochizuki, which looks like something I *should* like (but as you can tell, it hasn't really grabbed me).

chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)
2016-10-15 07:17 pm
Entry tags:

Awesome C.J. Cherryh News for Us Allion-Union Fans

Making progress.

We’re officially ready to start writing the actual Alliance Rising book, and along with it, we’re going to put Finity’s End into Closed-Circle. That’s a hundred or so years on…some of the same bunch.

http://www.cherryh.com/WaveWithoutAShore/?p=6987

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2016-10-06 09:44 pm

Reading [Not Quite] Wednesday - Stand Still Stay Silent

So I have utterly failed at reading anything of substance this week. In fact I was going to post that I had utterly failed at reading anything this week when I was saved by the arrival of the first collected volume of the web comic Stand Still Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg. Because, in fact, I have been reading a lot of bits and pieces of SSSS (why not S4? - that simply isn't how the fandom rolls, I guess) and related stuffs, like fanfiction and TVTropes entries. This is part of Yuletide prep, because I'm going to request SSSS, but I always meant to blog this comic anyway.

Stand Still Stay Silent is a science fantasy series set in Scandinavia. It starts with an extended prologue. In our recent past, a pandemic known as the Rash has spread around the world. The disease seems pretty harmless if somewhat debilitating at first, but after a few weeks, it becomes clear that everyone underestimated the Rash. In the end, as far as the central characters of the main timeline know, only Iceland and a scattering of populations in the continental Nordic countries survive.

The main story starts 90 years later with the survivors having adjusted to the New Normal. Isolated communities and a very few small cities are surrounded by wilderness haunted by weird, horrific warped creatures that used to be human beings and other mammals (they're often referred to as "trolls"). A badly underfunded research expedition is being assembled to go out into the Silent World (the lands that were abandoned by the remnants of the human race) to seek out and bring back technology and medical information. This band of misfits is our main cast.

Humorous or poignant interactions among the expedition crew members alternate with spooky or downright terrifying encounters with the trolls, who are as varied as they are grotesque. The fact that the crew members are all from different countries (except for the Finnish cousins) and mostly speak only their native languages adds another layer of complexity to the situation. And then there's the fact that not everything that happens can be explained by science ... .

Sundberg's artwork is vivid and dynamic. The palettes tend to be limited: monochrome schemes overlaid with washes in one or two colors and small spots of intense hot or cool colors. The details of the larger set pieces are impressive (warning: wide image), especially for a comic that's updated five days a week. The world-building is intriguing. The story is full of the family-of-choice and hurt-comfort tropes that make things work for me. And the storyteller punctuates the action of the series with artful infodumps in the form of in-story posters or pamphlets.

The most common criticism I've seen is that the pace is fairly glacial. Things do pick up considerably once the prologue is complete. The cast is ethnically diverse only within the confines of Scandinavia: everyone is very white. There are a number of female characters in the full cast, including two in the adventuring crew, and they have plenty of agency (one is the commander). No one is explicitly LGBTIQ, but then, romantic/sexual relationships haven't been part of the plot thus far (although a number of straight couples are shown in the prologue). No one seems affected by a disability unless you consider Lalli to be on the autism spectrum (which I do, actually).

Anyway, I'm enjoying the hell out of this one.

chomiji: A bear wearing pajamas, sitting at a desk, writing, with caption Yuletide (Yuletide Bear-Author)
2016-09-30 10:03 pm

Brief Fandom Rant

If a fandom is your very favorite thing, and you have been dying for fanfiction from it, and you have gone through the trouble of nominating it and requesting it for Yuletide, and your canon consists of only two medium-sized paperbacks, is it really that much trouble to figure out that two of the four characters you nominated actually have full names and/or surnames in canon?

Dita is Perdita Verist: "I'm Perdita Verist, the new teacher, remember?"

Peter is Peter Merrill: "Peter Merrill! How many times have you been told not to climb things at school?" (The speaker is Peter's first grade teacher.)

I did that from memory (verified via Google courtesy of some sketchy outfit that has the full text of the books online), and it has been at least a couple of years since a re-read any of Zenna Henderson's "People" stories.

(I realize that whoever is keeping up this fandom at AO3 is at least as much to blame as the requestor: the tags give them as just Dita (The People) and Peter (The People).

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2016-03-05 11:23 pm

Hugo Nominations Working List - Second Pass

ETA: Latest additions are highlighted

One of several reasons that no one's hearing much from me is that I really trying really hard to nominate things for every Hugo Award category that I can this year. I have not actually seen any eligible movies this past year, and I never watch TV, so it's unlikely that I'll have anything for the Long and Short Dramatic Presentation categories—although a number of people have linked to short films available online. But mainly, I am reading, reading, reading. And learning a lot about the many ways one can get short fiction these days.

Cut for what I've already selected )

The deadline for nominations is March 31.

I think that when I have added more to this, I will just make a post that refers to this one so that I don't have this huge list posted over and over.

chomiji: Nase Asumi with a wry smile on her face, and the caption Awesomesauce (Asumi - awesomesauce)
2015-09-01 08:39 pm

Drive-By Post: Laura J. Mixon's Hugo Speech Plus

At her blog. Includes link to video (actually, to the video of a whole section of the awards ceremony, but she tells you where her part starts), transcript of the speech, and a lot of additional commentary.

Acceptance Speech Online! And Other Post-Hugo Neepery

chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)
2015-04-24 11:00 pm

I Was Very Pleased to See This

Familiarize yourself with the Hugo mess before voting

"Apparently a concerted effort gamed the Hugos ... ." - C.J. Cherryh

chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)
2014-08-17 09:11 pm

Awesome Hugo News!

Ann Leckie took Best Novel for Ancillary Justice! Go Ann go!

Also, Julie Dillon won for best pro artist, and Kameron Hurley not only for her wonderful essay We Have Always Fought but also as best fan writer.

Complete list available on the official Hugo site.

chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)
2014-07-04 07:49 am

Thus Spake Zoe Saldana

According to Saldana, the science-fiction genre (or, at least, movies set in space) is a place where women can be fuller individuals. “I don’t have to subject myself to just being the love interest or playing a character that doesn’t feel relevant to the story or playing a woman that doesn’t feel like an actual depiction of a real woman,” she explained, adding, “When I read films in space and I’m working with these kinds of filmmakers there’s a neutral sense to the way they develop characters. It makes me feel very significant, very relevant and very excited.” —Salon

We hear you, Zoe!

chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)
2014-02-20 08:58 pm

Awesome Post About Pern

See How Pern Doesn't Work by [personal profile] recessional.

([livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija, I think this might be right up your alley.)

chomiji: The child Gojyo from Saiyuki, with the caption What becomes of the broken hearted? (Gojyo-chan - broken-hearted)
2014-02-11 05:19 pm

There Went a Bit of My Heart

So this happened: Oh Dear: SFWA Bulletin Petition.

It's probably not of interest to anyone but science fiction literature fans. It's a continuation of the shenanigans that started last summer when several foolishly misogynistic things happened, one after the other, in the professional rag of the Science Fiction Writers of America, followed by a stunning piece of racism on the SFWA official Twitter (see timeline/summary here). The result was that most of the SFWA members voted to change the way the content management of the SFWA Bulletin would be handled.

The petition in question objects to the proposed changes, which the writers consider to be overly "PC." There were two versions of this document. The one that was actually submitted is a tough read, full of extracts from correspondence and invocations of Freedom of Speech and concluding with a quotation from Charlton Heston, who is cited as an "early civil rights activist." The earlier version, which is also available online, was positively appalling. At one point, the writer compared the hard-working writers who will be thoughtlessly slapped around by the new rules to slaves picking cotton, at the mercy of the folks in the Big House.

No, I am not kidding.

If you can make yourself do it, follow one of the links to the actual (final) petition, and take a look at the signatories.

Who happen to include someone for whom I've long had all the respect in the world.

Damn.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2013-11-01 05:42 pm

Weekly Wednesday-ish Reading Meme - November 1, 2013

Yeah, it's late: it's been a complicated week. But I didn't want to wait all the way until next week.

What have you just finished reading?

Just finished Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, which was excellent. No less than three significant female characters, none of whom is just anyone's love interest, one of them a person of color (who is an awesome supernatural investigator and magician); magical courtroom drama; high-speed chases through a steampunkish city at night; a vampire ship's captain; gods dying and resurrected; an evil adversary who is a loathesome, charismatic, and brilliant slimeball; a nerdy chain-smoking young priest whose alter-ego is a club-hopping city boy; and much more. I'm looking forward to the next volume, which is actually to some degree a prequel.

What are you currently reading?

[personal profile] ann_leckie's Ancillary Justice, which is awesome. At the moment (about 25% of the way into it), it's equal parts mystery and anthropological SF. Leckie's style is very smooth and assured.

Also still making my way through Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm on my phone.

Finally, I'm also doing a re-read of canon so that I can beta a couple of stories.

What do you think you'll read next?

Beats me! It occurs to me that I have some volumes of Doctorow and Marie Brennan about, which I bought some time ago for a charity auction. I should probably check them out, especially the Brennan (the Doctorow was bought more with my husband in mind).

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2013-10-16 09:57 pm

Weekly Wednesday-ish Reading Meme - October 16, 2013

What have you just finished reading?

Not nearly such a busy reading week as last week!

I think the only things I actually finished reading were the latest volume of Blade of the Immortal (vol. 27), and the first couple of volumes of an indie comic, Tales of the Night Watchman, that the Mr. picked up at Small Press Expo. I was rather underwhelmed by it: just not my thing.

Volume 27: Mist on the Spider's Web was awesome. I should do an entire post on these most recent volumes of Blade of the Immortal sometime. Some people have noted that Rin is not much of a fighter and that Hyakurin and Makie are much more typical female characters, with Hyakurin as the femme fatale spy-type and Makie as the amazingly skilled woman with Major Issues. But then we had Ainu swordswoman Doa, and shinobi Meguro and Tampopo (I thought they were just comic relief at first — Samura's version of C3PO and R2D2 — boy, was I wrong!), and then this current volume had a marvelous arc for Ryo, the kenshi who's the illegitimate daughter of an important man. Even though it turned out badly in the end, she was fantastic.

What are you currently reading?

I have started Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, and I am enjoying it, but it's not grabbing me hard the way that the Dirk & Steele books were. I'm also trying to catch up to the current storyline on the webcomic Yellow Peril. With the Mini, I can read webcomics in bed! (Yes, cho, welcome to the 21st century.)

What do you think you'll read next?

I have volume 4 of the manga House of Five Leaves. I should probably blog the series properly after I finish that, since I can usually tell whether I'll continue with a series somewhere around vol. 3 to 5. Also, I bought [personal profile] ann_leckie's Ancillary Justice, which has been getting great reviews.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2013-10-03 07:56 am

Weekly Wednesday-ish Reading Meme - October 3, 2013

What have you just finished reading?

Tiger Eye by Marjorie Liu (the first of her Dirk & Steele series), which I enjoyed fairly well. The protagonist is more than a little Mary Sue-ish, the male-female interactions a little more breathless and self-conscious than I would like, and stupid things happen for Deep Plot Reasons (the traitor, for example, was set up by Liu in a way I particularly dislike). On the plus side, the heroine is moderately tough, and we get family-of-choice where the family members are all basically Adventurers. I didn't like that this was in many ways set up as a Reverse Harem (I could have used a tough Mama Wolf character in the group as well, for example), but Our Girl Dela does have a couple of female friends, and I think they actually do talk about Dela's artwork and the friend's concert gigs. The plot twists that have to do with the gorgeous, enslaved male lead actually twisted in ways I did not expect.

Magazines. We got the latest Washingtonian, which is their every-few-years "Top Hospitals" issue, with lots of health-related articles. We also got the new Smithsonian and the National Geographic, which was a photography retrospective. That's less interesting to me than the usual range of science/culture articles The photos are gorgeous, but I can't immerse myself in them as I can with the prose. Finally, there was a new Consumer Reports, but that's not exactly an immersive reading experience.

It would be nicer if the magazines didn't all tend to cluster together with regard to delivery dates!

What are you currently reading?

Old Man's War by John Scalzi. I'm enjoying it so far: it's been lots of character interaction, some technology porn, and some People Bonding in Tough Situations. But I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. The characters are being prepped for a bad military situation ("75% of you will be dead in 10 years"), and I'm pretty sure that something appalling is going to happen. I'm also morosely expecting that the lead's gay male sidekick is going to be one of the casualties, but maybe Scalzi will surprise me.

Also, a blog series on Deconstructing Narnia. This is still ongoing (she's gotten about halfway through The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), and I'm reading it rather chaotically: all the existing Dawn Treader posts first, and now I'm most of the way through the posts about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit. *sigh*

What do you think you'll read next?

I've downloaded another Liu "Dirk and Steele" novel: Shadow Touch (one of [personal profile] oyceter's recs). Also, [livejournal.com profile] ann_leckie's SF novel Ancillary Justice is out, and I should get hold of it. The question is, dead tree or epub? I may get the actual book: it's her first, and maybe I will want to get it autographed sometime.

Anyone care to recommend classics that might be available free or cheap? My background in reading these things is surprisingly spotty. (I didn't read the Jane Austen classics until just a few years ago, for example, and ditto the Peter Whimsey/Harriet Vane mysteries.) I am kind of impatient with a lot of literary stuff, though. Misunderstandings that drag on and on and on because everyone is too polite to address the issues, for example, drive me batty.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2013-07-17 09:31 pm

Weekly Wednesday Reading Meme - July 17, 2013

What have you just finished reading?

Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper. I enjoyed it, although it had the trappings of its time: for example, one female human character who wasn't someone's secretary or mom. I was surprised by the ecology theme, which I don't remember becoming much of A Thing until the the end of the 1960s (book was published in 1962). It even had a big evil nature-exploiting company. The Fuzzies are pretty clearly the ancestors of Cherryh's Hisa (in Downbelow Station) and, as some others have pointed out, probably also of the Ewoks. The set-up also made me think of LeGuin's The Word for World Is Forest, although this is a much lighter take. I was feeling fairly offended at the notion of humans "adopting" Fuzzies ... until Piper hit me with the wham line at the end. OK, then! :-)

I also finished my research reading. Some of it was pretty cool. I'll have to remember to bring up the details later.

What are you currently reading?

I'm re-reading Noel Streatfeild's Dancing Shoes (a/k/a Wintle's Wonders), which is a straight-up comfort read. I'm also making my way through a couple of tour books for our trip.

What do you think you'll read next?

I really don't know! Anyone have any suggestions for anything that I could download to the phone for free? Feedbooks has a lot of stuff, but I'm not sure about most of it. It's not that I don't have any money to spend on reading material: I'm leary of using my phone for a financial transaction, frankly. Has anyone used Paypal for this purpose?

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
2013-05-15 09:55 pm

Weekly Wednesday Reading Meme

What have you just finished reading?

Regenesis by C.J. Cherryh, but maybe I shouldn't count it because I didn't start at the beginning? This time I actually enjoyed the part where Yanni is stuck in Novgorod; it read a little more like a political thriller than I remember. I do find it strange to contemplate people still wearing tweed jackets 300 years from now. Things get a little weird for me every time CJC goes into details of their clothing, although I do like the description of the black-and-gunmetal-and-bronze outfit that Ari II gets at one point in Cyteen. Also, the second stringers among Ari II's coterie, like Tommy Carnath, are all too plainly there just to have someone else to voice an opinion when they're discussing things. I can't even remember who Tommy is except that he's clearly a member of Amy Carnath's extended family.

I keep thinking I must have read something else, but it was probably magazines and the D&D 3.5 Players Manual. (Our gaming group is getting ready to start up a new campaign.)

What are you currently reading?

Nothing. I finished Regenesis last night and haven't started anything else yet. Decisions, decisions. Maybe I'll rip through Redshirts again so I can write it up: it's a fast read.

What do you think you'll read next?

My mind is blank on the subject. Sad. I never located Among Others, which I proposed reading last week.