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

Another drive-by. I worked from home today (snow/sleet closed things), then got into a computer graphics project, made dinner, cleaned up from dinner, and now it's nearly bedtime. (The Mr. cleaned up from breakfast/lunch, served me lunch, and made banana bread.)

I finished Circe: yeah, there was a slight twist to the ending. I saw half of it from about 50 pages out. I'm not 100% sure I believe in the other half. Not likely to be on my Hugo short list.

Then I digressed from my Hugo reading and re-read Andre Norton's Catseye, which I had bought some little while ago as a Kindle deal. I remembered some bits of it from my teen years but not others, and I'm definitely much more aware of her writing flaws now. (Um, you can call him "Troy" more than once, really you can; you don't have to keep alternating it with his surname and various epithets. Also, it's from his POV, so some of the editorializing about him comes off oddly.) But it was fun.

I'm now reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. She has finally written a book that I think I really like, although we'll see how the ending goes. Sadly, I was never better than lukewarm on her Napoleonic dragons series, and Uprooted was somehow not really my thing. I felt like Uprooted was dutiful. somehow? But this one is really drawing me in so that I can immerse myself in the story.

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

Driveby: I'm having a tiring week, and need to go to bed ASAP.

I finished The Calculating Stars, and it ends well enough for me to look forward to reading the sequel, The Fated Sky. It was also pubished in 2018, so I'm not sure what the rules are re Hugo Award.

I'm now reading Circe, by Madeline Miller. People seem to be excited by this book, including recommending it for Hugo nominations. I am about 70% of the way through, and it is grim, sad, grim. Man, the Titans are disgusting, and the gods are nasty. A seemingly "you are there" inside Circe's head re-telling does not help these facts. I'm also not sure I want to call it fantasy. It's well written, though?

Icon Meme

Feb. 12th, 2019 09:02 pm
chomiji: Kitty does not understand!  A kitten snarling, with the word 'wut?' as a caption (kitty - wut)

Almost a month ago, [personal profile] krait was doing the classic icon meme, where you get someone to pick three of your icons and then you make a post in which you explain them. So yeah, guess who forgot all about it? Yeah, Anyway, here we go:

Tenpou from Saiyuki Gaiden with the words, Not Necessarily by the Book

This is Tenpou Gensui ("Field Marshall Tenpou") from Saiyuki Gaiden, the prequel to Kazuya Minekura's cult favorite manga Saiyuki. He is a god in a Heaven that resembles a cross between an ancient Chinese court and a modern governmental bureaucracy. Tenpou is very well educated, obsessed with detail in the things he cares about, super sloppy in everyday life, an expert swordsman, and likely more than a little bit kinky (certainly fandom thinks so). I picked him as my avatar for writing Fandom Grammar columns back when I was doing that, because if anyone understands the difference between following a rule right off a cliff and instead applying it with finesse, it's Tenpou.

Dee and Ryo from the manga FAKE, with the caption A love like this cannot be hidden

Here are Dee (left) and Ryo (right), the leads from the classic shounen ai/yaoi manga series FAKE, which is a Japanese view of an American cop buddy series. The series moves from hints and flirting (on Dee's part; Ryo is more shy/restrained) to out and out yaoi at the very end. It's all good-humored and sweet (despite the violence) as well as slightly weird: mangaka Sanami Matoh doesn't quite get everything about U.S. police detectives. The caption, "Love like this cannot be hidden" is from a Carrie Newcomer song that is very explicitly about same-sex relationships (according to the liner notes): Be True (YouTube).

View of the Danube River in Germany

This one is not nearly as fandom-oriented as the other two. It's a view of the Danube River, and I made it for posts about the European river cruise we took a couple of summers ago, as a belated celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. It was a Viking River Cruise trip from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Bucharest, Romania: up the Rhine, across on the Main-Danube Canal, and then down the Danube: 3 weeks.

Wnt me to pick three of your icons? Ask in the comments!

chomiji: Gojyo and Hakkai from Saiyuki, with the caption We Walk the Same Line (gojyo+hakkai - same line)

Introducing the ULTIMATE FANFIC TROPE SHOWDOWN v3.1!!! (See end for link and advice on using it.)

My top results:

Rank Name (of Trope)
1 Loyalty Kink
2 Found Families
3 Hurt/Comfort
4 Friends to Lovers
5 Enemies to Friends to Lovers
6 Hot Single Parent(s)
7 Fairy Tale/Mythology AU
8 Accidentally Fell In Love With The Mission Target
9 Snowed-In Cabin/Isolated Together For Extended Period of Time
10 And They Were Roommates!
cut for the rest )

Whoa, shocker. I do think that "And they were roommates" is too high and "Supernatural Creature/Human Romance" is too low.

The first time through, the results were No Good. As suggested, avoid picking "I like both" or "No opinion."

Try it here~!

Hat tip: [personal profile] sholio

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

Yesterday I had to finish some other things. So here's books on Thursday instead.

I finished Exit Strategy: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, and it was pretty good: a worthy finish to this series of novellas. Murderbot has to extract a hostage: always the best type of action scenario, as I learned long ago when I used to run RPG tournaments. (Grabbing treasure and running is pretty trivial by comparison.) There's also the question of whether its allies are more trouble than they're worth. The story rolls along fast and ends bittersweetly.

Then, down with a cold, I powered through Lies Sleeping, the latest Rivers of London installment by Ben Aaronovitch. Wow, that was good! I had the feeling Aaronovitch had been basically stringing out events for the last couple of books until he could arrive at this place in the story, because this was much, much meatier and more interesting than this series has been for a while, As I noted on Book of Faces, there was one place near the end where I dropped my Kindle into my lap and applauded. This would make a reasonable stopping place for the series, but Wikipedia says there will be more.

Now I'm about halfway through The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. I picked this up as Hugo reading. I'd been going back and forth on whether to read it until I saw it mentioned in the Hugo context. I'm a little ambivalent about it. It's a compelling story and I like the viewpoint character, but every time I put it down, I find myself thinking it's not my thing. I think it may be Kowal's writing style, and it may even be deliberate. It feels very much like a mainstream novel, and that may be the effect she wants.

The next several new reads will probably all be Hugo stuff: nominations close March 16. If you have any suggestions for SF&F novels or graphic novels published in 2018 that you think I would like, please mention them. Other Hugo-eligible things I've already read are:

  • Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

I have volume 3 of Monstress (graphic novel) Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda in hand but I have not read it yet.

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)

30: A song that reminds you of yourself

Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel

I was haunted by this song from when I first heard it. It came out the year I turned 19, not long after I had my first major depressive episode on my own as an adult. The weird mysticism, the percussion beat to the odd 7/4 time signature, the theme of alienation from those who think they know you ("To keep in silence I resigned / My friends would think I was a nut"), and the yearning to go home (and at this point, my real home was pretty broken) hit me hard.

And then at the end, the singer realizes he doesn't need his things, all he needs is his actual home, where he can be himself. My spirit still rises in anticipation every time I hear the opening bars, and my heart is full in sympathy every time he sings "My heart going 'boom boom boom.""

Cut for complete lyrics )

The video is weird as all get out: I'm not sure what the cabbage theme at the fade-out has to do with anything.

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

*tap tap tap* Is this thing on?

So yeah, now that I'm back at work (finally!), I'm going to try to get this rolling again.

I got around to reading Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which I'd had on my To Read list for ages. And ... meh? It wasn't for me. Sometimes I like Jane Austen-ish pastiche, but I was not so thrilled with this one. I could appreciate Zacharias' position (believe me, I could: that "stick with the job because you were entrusted with it, even while it kills you" is all too familiar), but at the same time, it made for a somewhat claustrophobic reading experience.

On the other hand, Prunella soon made me a little crazy. I'm not quite sure I believe her extremely sudden transformation from the dutiful behind-the-scenes manager to out-of-control sorcery prodigy. And frankly, I just didn't like her that much. I think I'm just the wrong audience for it. And I spotted the romance plot about a third of the way in, too.

My other big read was a bit of a disappointment as well. You all know I'm a super fan of C.J. Cherryh, and her Alliance-Union setting is one of my favorites (Chanur is the other). So I was anticipating Alliance Rising like crazycakes. But it's a really, really slow start. The info-dumping is on par with the opening of Downbelow Station, even though it's framed as the thoughts of the POV characters instead of third-person authorial narration. In fact, in terms of pacing and approach, this reads more like the start of a new "Foreigner" installment, with Bren reviewing all the events of the last three books.

About a third of the way in I nearly burst into tears: we were still on essentially the first real piece of action, the approach of one of the new jumpships to the creaky old Alpha space station at frightening speed. We read it from the viewpoint of a young local merchanter crewman, Ross, and then from the viewpoint of the sad, over-stressed station manager, and then from the viewpoint of a fairly high-up officer on the incoming starship, Finity's End. And OK, we learn something from each view, but hell! We're a third of the way into the book! Shouldn't we be seeing something else by now?

Perhaps as a result of the amount of time spent on this slow opening, I didn't feel as much engagement with the characters, and the station didn't feel as real to me, either, as most Cherryh settings do.

Anyway, I will certainly be following it up: lackluster CJC is still better than 90% of what comes out.

For where I'm going: I've just started Exit Strategy, the most recent Murderbot installment by Martha Wells. This is the finale of the series of "Murderbot Diaries," and I expect to like it, as I did the others. I was pleased to hear that she's sold a full-length Murderbot novel as well.

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)

29. A song that you remember from your childhood

A Bushel and a Peck, sung by Vivian Blaine in the original Broadway cast recording of "Guys and Dolls"

Broadway was big in our house, My mother, who had a pretty decent soprano, used to sing this to me and my sister.

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)

I loved Sara Bareilles' fist album, Little Voice, so much. The follow up was more sticky and gooey, less passion and tartness. When she gives the title callout in this, it hits me right in the feels.

I'm ready and waiting
For a heart worth the breaking
But I'd settle for an honest mistake in
The name of one sweet love.

chomiji: A woman sits on a crescent moon, spilling snowflakes & fairy dust from a bag (Yuletide dream)

I have not been reading as much Yuletide as I should, but I have found some great stories amidst what I did read:

The Voices of Small Bears (1050 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: October Daye Series - Seanan McGuire
Rating: General Audiences
Summary: Make no mistake, a family was here.
My take: . A lovely series of vignettes that adds up to a portrait of Toby and her family of choice.

five to one against (5209 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Summary: How Molly and Nightingale discovered haemomancy.
My take: A very strong Molly POV fills out her role in the series.

Cemetery Polka (2073 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: The Sandman (Comics)
Rating: Mature
Summary: They regard each other, for a long moment. Behind her large glasses, Larissa’s eyes are unblinking, but her clasped hands betray her, the fiddling of her thumbs against each other. She wets her lips, pursed and full and pink.
Death is mortal, tonight.
My take: That last line sums it up. Gorgeous bittersweet f/f.

the rain falling on the sunshine (2029 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
Rating: General Audiences
Summary: In the garden; after the war.
My take: The Secret Garden is a Yuletide perennial (hah!) if there ever was one, and this topic has been done many times before, but this is a nice take on it, with little bathos and a lot of genuine feeling.

The Rock and The River (17442 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi | Spirited Away
Summary: Chihiro takes magic and bends it around herself to make a place in the world.
My take: Spirited Away can generate overly cute fic as well as pieces with genuine mythical power. This is one of the latter. There's genuine human sadness and pathos amidst the many quiet wonders.

Intermission (24398 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Stand Still Stay Silent
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Summary: Emil tries to rebuild his life and help Lalli adjust to their new home in Sweden after their return from the Silent World. Slight canon divergence from the end of the First Adventure.
My take: This is a lesson in how to write romantic fanfiction: the myriad bits of everyday (and not so everyday) life, the tight third-person POV, and the genuine human reactions give the eventual breaking of the tension real power, leavened in the last bits with in-character humor.

chomiji: A silhouette of a couple watching a famous kiss in a movie, with the caption I've Seen that Movie Too (film - I've seen that movie too)

I have not been to the movies for ages. Nothing recently has been impressing me enough to persuade my husband to go. But our grad student daughter is home for winter break, and my sister-in-law and our college student nephew were in town this weekend, and they wanted to go, so we all packed up and went together.

I enjoyed the hell out of this, It was funny and intellectually engaging in a lightweight way, with a rhythmic and humorous use of classic tropes to introduce each Spider-being avatar as they showed up. It was also touching and emotionally honest and made me cry, both at happy parts (which is typical for me) but also at sad parts (which I usually weather dry-eyed). I think I needed the catharsis.

It's visually busy but rather enthralling in that way as well. Because the show was close to sold out, we were sitting closer to the screen than I prefer (assigned seating: unusual!), but the Regal Majestic Silver Spring has put in the new reclining seats, so this wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as it might have been.

And the Stan Lee cameo was cute and touching.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes comics at all.

chomiji: Goku from Saiyuki, looking confused. Caption: Huh? (Goku - huh?)

Do any of you all think it has promise?

I mean, I'm right there when it comes to supporting fannish stuff: that's why I do Kickstarter and Patreon. But a social media site needs to have some stuff going on, and I'm not feeling super creative right now.

ETA: Tumblr's Displaced Porn Bloggers Test Their New Platforms — covers both DW and Pillowfort (on Wired; h/t [personal profile] umadoshi)

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

I'll try not to repeat too much from my profile page.

I'm a slightly genderqueer married woman Of a Certain Age. I have a husband of more than 30 years, a grown daughter in a PhD program on the Left Coast (definitely a nerd like her folks), and various family members in my nearby area, which is Washington DC and environs (specifically, Takoma Park, MD, a/k/a The People's Republic of Takoma Park).

I have been a member of various fandoms since I was an 8-yr-old following the space program with my dad and reading the "Spacecat" books. In middle school and high school, I was a huge Tolkien and Star Trek:TOS nerd, and things went on from there. In college, I discovered D&D, and I still play tabletop RPG (Numenera, most recently) about once a month in a group that includes The Mr., his brother, and friends we have known for years.

I work as a web content manager (and to some degree, a systems analyst) on the intranet portal of a medium-sized organization. We're in the middle of porting a 4500-item site from Rhythmyx to Drupal.

I'm Jewish, liberal, and have fought depression for years (mostly with meds and meditation). I'm also a two-time cancer survivor.

I lock various posts. If you are interested in my health issues (including depression), my fic writing projects, the manga Saiyuki, or the remodeling job we're starting on our 1920s house, let me know, and I will add you to the applicable filter.

chomiji: The Hebrew word 'Hineni,'  meaning 'here I am' (Hineni - Hebrew for "Here I am")

Whether you celebrate or not, be happy!

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)

28: A song by an artist with a voice that you love

The Water Lily by Priscilla Herdman

I have a thing for alto voices. I've already showcased Mary Fahl (October Project), Annie Lennox (Eurythmics), and Tracey Thorne (Everything but the Girl) in this space.

Here's a fairly obscure folksinger whose voice has comforted me a number of times, including during the scary hospital stay in my early 30s when I first became a heart patient. The words to this were written by Henry Lawson ( 1867–1922), Australian writer and "bush poet." Herdman's album of the same title includes a number of songs by Lawson. I think this one is the most beautiful and by far the most haunting.

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

Well, it's been a while. I have been reading like crazy, but I doubt I can remember all I've been reading off the top of my head. Here's what I can recall at the moment:

For whatever reason, I have never previously read anything by Tamora Pierce. Recently, Big South American River had all three volumes of the Beka Cooper series on sale as ebooks for a pittance, so I bought them. And after a re-read for a writing project, I read them. And read them. Until I finished the whole thing.

Rebakah (Beka) Cooper is a child of the slums, but she, her siblings, and her mother come under the protection of a powerful nobleman and are taken into his household. The mother dies, and the children are trained in jobs that befit their station: the boys as couriers, the girls as maids ... except that Beka wants to be a Dog, one of the constables that their patron commands. She has a natural aptitude for it, as well as some supernatural powers that come in handy on the job (mages of various kinds are not uncommon in this world). The series opens as Beka as become a Puppy: a Dog trainee. It follows her as she becomes a full Dog and then one of the most skilled in her city's company.

It's very absorbing reading, vivid and enjoyable. I had a very strange feeling about the first two books versus the third, though. It was as though Pierce had conceived of and possibly even written the third book first, and then went back and wrote the first two. The first two are written as though they are the diary of teenaged Beka, and they work pretty well in that way. The third, where the stakes are much higher and where Beka and her team are crossing miles and miles of countryside, gets less plausible as a diary and also somewhat less engaging for me. There's also a plot twist that I'm not sure I buy as in-character for the person involved.

Is anyone here a Pierce fan? Which of her other books would you recommend?

I've also picked up the most recent volumes of the manga Black Butler (vol. 26) and The Ancient Magus Bride (vol. 9). When they arrived, I discovered that I had completely lost the plot of both series, and the previous volumes were lost somewhere in the house. The Mr. finally tracked them down for me.

Black Butler takes a serious turn after the arc about the mysterious doings in the popular music hall, in which we saw Victorian "boy bands" captivating the crowds (anachronisms mean nothing to mangaka Yana Toboso) as a front for far more sinister activities. Ceil discovers something momentous about his past... although this being Black Butler, I'm not sure of the truth of what he has discovered.

The Ancient Magus Bride covers the final part of the arc in which Chise has suffered grave effects after preventing a frightened young dragon from laying waste to London. She, Elias, and some fairy allies also put their main adversary to rest, at least for the time being. This is apparently not the end of the series, but a new major story arc seems to be next.

chomiji: Sai, the courtly, go-playing Heian ghost, playing a flute - from Hikaru no Go (Sai - music)

27: A song that breaks your heart

I Can't Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt

Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I'll feel the power
But you won't, no you won't…

chomiji: The Hebrew word 'Hineni,'  meaning 'here I am' (Hineni - Hebrew for "Here I am")

To all my friends who are celebrating, may you have a good and a sweet new year.

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