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

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)

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)

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, [ 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)

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)

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.


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'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.

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