melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-05-23 05:30 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #13: First Book in the Series

Last week's F winner was Juniper Time by Kate Wilhelm! Should be interesting; it's one where I have no idea why I own it or why I kept it. K was Alas, Babylon.

Since I will be away from my book collection for the next two weeks, there will be an FMK break; next poll should go up June 12. I will keep reading and possibly posting reactions, though - the plan is to take the K books that I really wanted to read first with me on the trip, and leave them there.

This week's poll: Books where I own only the first book in the series (and have read none of them.)

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll: Banks, Barnes, Cherryh, Czerneda, Doyle & MacDonald, Eddings, Gardner, Hines, Lynn, McGuire, Niven, Scott & Barnett, Weber )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-05-23 02:57 pm

Knitting project!

I finished knitting my first sweater! It's a lopapeysa (= sweater knitted out of loosely-spun unplied Icelandic wool, usually knitted bottom-up in the round with a circular yoke and patterned stranded colorwork.)

Here are pictures of my beautiful models!

a very grumpy cat wearing a beautiful wool cat sweater

a different cat in the same beautiful cat sweater flopped over with her legs straight out like she is petrified

(Sorry about the photo quality, I promised them they would only ever have to wear it long enough for one good picture each and then my camera's phone app kept freezing and I felt guilty.)
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-05-22 10:56 am

FMK: Castle in the Air & Captain Blood + extra

I keep trying to write up my response to Castle in the Air but basically I really liked it a lot and it was great, also there was a very angry kitten, and the things I want to talk about it end up being complicated structural/worldbuilding questions that go beyond just this book. So I think I will just do a short three things capsule and save the drafts for more pondering:

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones )

Contrast this to the other YA series I finished in the last couple weeks, Laurence Yep's Dragon of the Lost Sea series, which has been my nemesis since I was about nine because the library had ONLY THE THIRD BOOK, which BEGAN AND ENDED AT CLIFFHANGERS, and twenty-five years later I had still only managed to find one of the others, plus Yep kept publishing books with "Dragon" in the title that were super-realistic stories about the Asian-American experience and I am sure they were great and all but they did not have actual DRAGONS in them so that was a terrible bait-and-switch, Mr. Yep. Anyway I finally went wait, I am a grown-up and a librarian now so I can just ILL them if I want.

Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep )

I also read Captain Blood for FMK yesterday! It is another one that I really liked, and tbh I liked it too much to want to think about it in a critical way as opposed to a squee way. So here are three things for it too:

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini )

Also despite 1922 Captain Blood was way better on both race and gender than the community theater production of Peter Pan I went to see a friend in yesterday, so, you know, that was a thing where they had elementary school kids wear feather headbands and say "ugh" lot, it definitely was.

Last weekend I also saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Dr. Strange, because I have the best friends.

Guardians of the Galaxy )

Dr. Strange )

Also I now really really need the story where Thor is fucking his way though all the Infinity Stone bearers. I may possibly even need to write it myself. ;_;


Let's see, what else have I been meaning to post about here? Oh! I did read Makt Myrkranna and Pale Guardian, did I post about them?

Makt Myrkranna, the early Icelandic Dracula translation, managed to be a better Dracula story than Dracula, I think. Vilma was great. Also possibly helped by the fact that Iceland has much more of a living tradition of revenants, maybe, so it felt more like it was part of a vampire tradition? IDK. Also I apparently now know enough Icelandic that I could immediately tell when the translation footnotes were screwed up and referenced to the wrong part of the text.

Pale Guardian was the new Ashers novel. 1) That continues to have the best vampire worldbuilding I have ever encountered, and she always follows it to the logical conclusion and makes it work, and she made it work on the front in WWI too; 2) The way James just accepts the fact that the London vampires basically treat him as one of their own at this point was really good character development? 3) He REALLY needs to catch up with the other two and realize he is in a poly triad not a poly V already.

...and that is probably enough.

Before I leave for Iceland on Sunday I still have both Becky Chambers books and two FMK to read and also to decide whether to actually read that Falco book I checked out right before I read the last one and she made it weird, or return it unread.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-05-16 04:47 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #12: Our Oncoming Apocalypses

Well, happy birthday to me, I guess. I would tell y'all to try to figure out what I'm wishing on my birthday candles but you might and then it won't come true.

Last week's F winner - pulling past Coraline at the last minute - was C. J. Cherryh with Downbelow Station. The K leader was actually Starship Troopers, but for the first time ever, the K leader did not have a plurality of K votes; in fact it in was in the top five for F as well. So I'm invoking the hidden rule that the K winner must have a plurality of K votes and giving it to Hominids instead (I knew that was going to be a hard one for K, you don't get a hugo/nebula win if you're comprehensively terrible.)

I am still skating about a week behind on reading but I did finish Castle in the Air! It was good. Review upcoming. Captain Blood coming soon (hopefully tonight.)

For this week I think it's finally time to pull out Apocalypses and Post-Apocalypses. Whoo.

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Bear, Brackett, Frank, Goulart, Howard, Le Guin, Matheson, Scarborough, Shute, Wilhelm, Wyndham, Zelazny )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-05-11 02:11 pm

NOTE TO SELF

YOU CANNOT ACTUALLY DO ALL THE THINGS

I know you want to, and you are constantly being told that you must, excel at and be committed to, for example:

1. earning a living wage
2. healing from and/or dealing with injury, illness, emotional trauma, disability
3. basic self-care and adulting (laundry, financial management, etc.)
4. family relationships (finding/maintaining romance, caring for kids and/or elders, dealing with family drama)
5. a social life beyond that
6. a fulfilling and fulfilled creative life
7. service to the community
8. social and political activism
9. self-improvement and continuing education
10. physical fitness (maintaining and building)
11. fun hobbies
12. spiritual growth

...plus enough downtime to keep you functional.

But excelling at each of those is equivalent to a full-time job and you cannot physically do them all. In fact, our society considers basic competence at two of them to be a passing grade. ONLY TWO.

Okay, it's only two if you're a straight white dude and you pick your two from [wage-earning, disability/illness, creative life]+[self-care, romantic relationship]. If you're a white lady your minimum to pass is three and your only choices are (wage-earning+family+self-care) or (family+self-care+doing all of partner's adulting), and it scales up from there as your difficulty settings increase. But fuck that, if two is good enough for a straight dude to pass it'd better be good enough for me.

More people than you realize settle for two + downtime. It's just that those two mostly have to be picked from things that aren't in the public sphere, so those people aren't as visible, and we're all conditioned to exaggerate how many of them people who are in the public sphere actually do. But there are a lot of people who stay at two. Two is passing.

Most people can do well at three at a time with no problem. You, personally, can do four on an ongoing basis, as long as none of them are on extra-hard mode. You can do five for awhile, especially if you can sort of combine some or a couple are on easy/part-time settings. At six you start dropping balls and noping away into a corner. Seven is right out.

Yours,
SELF
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-05-09 04:55 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #11: Hugo and Nebula Winners

So it turns out my readership is not super-into random obscure sea stories! But there were enough votes that Captain Blood is the clear winner. Should be fun. There was a tie for K for the first time in awhile; I am picking Jack Absolute to K because apparently Mr. Bowditch is full of math so I shall be keeping that.

I still have not read Castle in the Air because there was a library book emergency where something I had checked out before I started FMK hit its renewal limit finally, so I had to read that instead. Hopefully this week you will get a combined response to both of them.

I figured it was time to do one where most of you probably had at least heard of them, so this week is Hugo and Nebula winners!

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll: Asimov, Brunner, Bujold, Chabon, Cherryh, Farmer, Gaiman, Haldeman, Heinlein, Le Guin, Miller, Pohl, Sawyer, Vinge, Willis )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-05-02 02:33 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #10: Age of Sail

Last week's winner was Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones which I really hope is good. K winner was Tales from Watership Down, which I may actually accidentally have two copies of, so that will help.

This is FMK #10! I kept it up for almost ten weeks! 115 out of 860 unread have already been FMK'd, whoo. In celebration, today we have a non-SF poll theme: Age of Sail.

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll: Brackenridge, Carlisle, Elmms, Forester, Garrett, Hugo, Humphreys, Latham, Marryat, Sabatini, Swan )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-05-01 09:05 am
Entry tags:

FMK: Electric Forest

Huh, today is blog against disablism day. WHAT A COINCIDENCE.

So, only read Electric Forest if you are the sort of person who actively seeks out stories about how people with disabilities are monstrous, hideous, hateful, dangerous, and literally "ab-human".

Also if you are that sort of person, why are you on DW?

I would have thrown the book at the wall much earlier except I had hopes it wouldn't be that bad )

In summary, NOPE. I think this is the first one in FMK to get recycle bin, not even donate.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-28 08:28 pm
Entry tags:

FMK: The Snow Queen

So, it turns out The Snow Queen is not high fantasy and is a fairy tale AU. Oops.

About the only other things I knew going in was that I had really liked Vinge's Cat books (not actually books about cats, books about a dude named Cat, sorry), that she had at one point been married to Vernor Vinge, and that I was pretty sure that years ago I had heard a rumor that her husband was a total POS.

...turns out that I was unable to find anyone saying anything bad about Mr. Vinge, but her current husband is Mr. Banned-From-Wiscon himself, so apparently I have been thinking poorly of Mr. Vinge for years for no reason. Sorry, sir! See, this is why this stuff needs to be out in the open, not whispers.


Anyway, as for the book itself: it's well-written, I didn't hate any of the characters, the world-building and plot mostly hang together (at least until the very end, anyway), the concepts are interesting, there is no compelling reason I shouldn't have liked it, and yet I never quite managed to get into it. It isn't even that it's not my thing, because it *should* be my thing, and yet )

Anyway, short version: You could probably do a Snow Queen retelling that used the story in a way that worked for me (I should really get my hands on The Raven and the Reindeer) but this was not it; and I would totally read an entire novel about Ngenet and Jerusha (as long as Jerusha got to finally show a tiny bit of minimal competence which she never actually did in the book - a plot line about how she is unfairly treated as incompetent because she's a woman doesn't work if she never actually is competent); and I should have listened to my instincts and run when the summary on the back ended with "...the one man fated to love them both."

...interestingly I also read Makt Myrkranna today (having never read Dracula all the way through) which is also about a pretty, innocent young man who gets lured into the clutches of an ancient powerful beautiful cold devouring woman and her consort, and how his true love traveled across a continent to rescue him and save the world, but somehow I don't have any of the aforementioned complaints about it. A++ worldbuilding, dude does not let heterosexuality make his choices for him, lady makes reasonable choices based on the knowledge she has at the time and caring about him as a human being she is fond of who is in trouble.

I also read Pale Guardian, but I think that's actually the first Ashers book in which nobody ever has to rescue James, so it doesn't quite fit the set.

(eta: no, wait, Simon rescued him at least once in between Simon and Lydia repeatedly rescuing each other, nvm. On a motorbike.)

(I have been sick lying on the couch all day, which is why all the reading suddenly. Also I still have four more library books and two fmk waiting lalala.)
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-25 07:07 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #9: Second Books

Note to self, things your circle is v. interested in: Library classification. Canadian art.

So, back on the wagon with FMK! I posted about Growing Up Weightless yesterday and I am very nearly done with Snow Queen. After that Electric Forest should be quick and then I will be caught up! Except the six library books! But we aren't talking about those!

Fewer of you than I thought voted that you change your poll answers after reading the comments! I am apparently in the more easily swayed group. :P


This week's theme is I Read the First One And It Was Good But For Years I Could Never Find The Next One But Then I Did So Here It Is Yay

(In a it's the first one I couldn't find instead of the next one, but close enough.)


How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

If you want to be extra-helpful, bear in mind that it may have been two decades since I read the first on, and note whether I need to re-read that one first.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll: Adams, Cherryh, Ellis, Gibson, Handeland, ab Hugh, Jones, Kotzwinkle, Lackey, Monette, Snyder, Watt-Evans, White  )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-24 06:30 pm

FMK: Growing Up Weightless

I went to the March for Science yesterday! It didn't have as many people as the Women's March but then what would? It still took a solid two hours to get everyone funnelled down Constitution Avenue.

Also if you are ever at the Capitol end of Constitution with a few minutes to kill, go look at The Spirit of Haida Gwaii outside the Canadian Embassy; it's in a nice quiet corner and I found more to see in that one sculpture than in the entire National Gallery sculpture garden.


...also if you are ever on the Mall and need wifi, find an idling coach bus to loiter near.

I brought Growing Up Weightless by John M. Ford to read on the metro, and I don't have a huge amount to say because basically it was everything I wanted for a book about coming of age in the Moon colony )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-21 11:30 am

(no subject)

1. Have I mentioned I'm planning to March for Science tomorrow? The weather will be good. Hopefully I will not get trampled or arrested. Yay science!

2. I am stuck in the slog of the 300s in my nonfiction reshelving project. I hate the 300s SO MUCH. The 200s are also awful, but in an obvious and easily fixable way. The 300s are just a MESS.

Like, 302.2 "communication" contains a book on noise and a book on the Comics Code. 301.4 "Family structures" contains a book on the history prostitution, a book on social class in 19th century Russia, and an anthology on nomadism. I have many actual books about family structures! But no, Matrilineal Kinship is over in the 390s. Love's Promises is in the 340s. The Bonds of Womanhood is in the 305s somewhere. But we must put the one on the history of prostitution and the one on Russian peasants under "family structures".

The 310s-350s are reasonably straightforward, although why "Statistics" is under social sciences I am not sure, but then we hit 36x "Social Problems, Social Services" and oh god. 362, "Social Work", gives us AIDs and a book on Deaf culture (my other book on Deaf culture is in 305.9 "Groups of People, Miscellaneous". Why the split? No idea except that Dewey doesn't believe Deaf is a culture and bluescreened on books about Deaf culture.) Books about nuclear bombs are all under 363.1 "Health and Safety". A book of stories about psychic detectives are under 363.2 Law Enforcement, not even True Crime. Meanwile under 363.4 Drugs, Abortion, Pornography (??) we have a book about the reactions to political cartoons of the prophet Mohammed (????) 369, "social services - other" contains everything relating to scouting, even though my scouting-related books are all old guidebooks about nature topics that barely mention the scouts.

I'm scared to look too closely at the 390s.

3. I am trying to catch up on the reading! But I just had Makt Myrkanna come in from the library plus the new Ashers and Ysidro book *and* the Becky Chambers books so this is tough.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-18 08:00 pm

FMK: Break

OK, there will not be an FMK poll this week, I way way behind on reading (Still only about halfway through Snow Queen) and need a catch-up week.

I blame a) the weather being nice enough that I'm working outside, b) the two holiday weekends eating up my usual reading time, c) the fact that I did something painful to my shoulder and have been sleeping like crap as a result, and d) the cats, for being both cute and extremely manipulative.

We will be back next week, I promise! And hopefully there will be three response posts this week to catch me up.

Here is a filler poll to fulfill my need to obsessively watch poll responses once a week!

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 56


When I answer a poll, I:

View Answers

Fill out the poll, then check the comments
32 (58.2%)

Check the comments, then fill out the poll
5 (9.1%)

Fill out the poll, then check the comments, then possibly go back and change my poll answers
15 (27.3%)

I never read the comments, don't you know the rules of the internet
1 (1.8%)

I never fill out polls, what is this weird circly thing and why isn't it bringing me cake
2 (3.6%)

Pardon me, I didn't hear that?




In fandom news, I kind of had to drop out of Check Please! really suddenly because I needed something way more escapist than that for awhile, and also the last thing I posted got jossed basically immediately and I remembered why I hate open canons. But I have been starting to catch up lately. Last night I dreamed that Prince Eric the Fair had sworn never to marry anyone except the person who could out-skate him, and somehow nobody on AO3 has yet written that particular AU, so now I've been forced to spend all day daydreaming out it. Also there is a book on the display at our library called "Shifty's War" and my coworker misreads the title every time and then brings it to me and tells me we need a Check Please WWII AU, so somebody get on the Tragic Gay WWII Fighter Pilots AU pls, or at least draw me the art.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-13 10:58 am

housekeeping

1. Does anyone know if ljarchive still works on DW? A lot of people have been asking about backups now that they aren't crossposting anymore, and I thought it still worked, but it's been awhile so I did a test yesterday and it sat downloading "sync index" for 24 hours and then said it couldn't contact the server.

That could be because I have the settings wrong or because the DW servers are still super-busy with imports though maybe?

2. I need/want a new DW style, but I am still using the one I hand-ported over from lj in 2009 and it was obsolete then. And I haven't done anything with styles since. I really like my current one except for me knowing it's not super-accessible and a few things that have slowly broken on it, but a new one doesn't have to be exactly the same as long as it works.

What I do want:

a) something very clean in appearance, I don't need a lot of extra boxes and widgets and things, just the ability to read entries and easily navigate the site.
b) easy to customize stuff like which links appear and what the graphics are with a minimum of CSS/styles knowledge.
c) good on mobile screens, since I apparently surf DW on mostly on mobile now, who knew. Also good on Vivaldi and really old slightly broken versions of IE, since those are the non-mobile browsers I use most now apparently. Mostly what this means is that most of the screen space is actually used for content, there's not a lot of whitespace or big graphics, a web bs score below .2, the content starts within a couple hundred pixels of the top, it scales easily. Also, obvs, reasonably good on accessibility overall.

d) and most importantly (and the reason I still stick with this one after all this time!) it uses custom friends colors and lets me have the custom colors be the vertical height of the entry. Having the custom friends color as a vertical cue when scrolling is really important to me reading my reading list, especially on small screens, but apparently that vertical color stripe is super-hard to do in accessible CSS despite being really easy with tables? It doesn't have to be positioned just like the current one but it needs to go the length of the entry somehow. Anyone know of a current style that does that or is willing to write me the css for it in an existing style? I'll pay in DW points.

3. Once I have my nonfiction books organized I'm totally doing a photo of a shelf of mad science books and using that as my header image it'll be great and make this journal way more likely to pass as work-related. I'm finally up to the 290s! Man the 200s are a slog, even if most of my early 200s are on like the Shroud of Turin and people looking for Noah's Ark and weird apocrypha and stuff.

4. PS: Welcome to everybody coming in from LJ! It's good to see you all back around.

5. The cat is learning about walkies, this may have been a bad idea
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-11 07:03 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #8: Short Books

Last week's winner was Growing Up Weightless by John M. Ford. I had mixed opinions of his Star Trek novels that everyone loves, so we'll see how this one goes!

Loser was Rocket Ship Galileo which I kind of really want to read after the discussion in comments ;_; I seem to have accidentally planned an overseas hiking holiday in a couple months, so maybe I will save up the K books that I really want to at least read first to take there and leave behind.

You people voted in another MASSIVE TOME with The Snow Queen so it may be a bit of a delay. It's interesting so far!

In revenge (and to give me a bit of a chance to catch up and do my taxes and stuff) this week's theme is "Books under 200 pages", so there.


How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll: Anderson, Binder, Brunner, Clarke, del Rey, Key, Lee, Lindgren, Norton, Sleator, Turnbull, Van Vogt, Zelazny )


p.s. I am enjoying observing the latest 'harassers at SF cons' redux, but why has nobody filked "Banned from Wiscon" yet? It scans. You could be really scathing. And "Banned from Wiscon" seems to be that dude's official epithet at this point.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-06 04:24 pm

(no subject)

I have been watching the Hugo and Nebula noms come out and be raected to with glee. Finally a set of Hugo noms where I actually legit want to read nearly all the nominations! I was almost tempted to buy a vote again and then I remembered that the reason I only did it in the Puppy years is that there was no way I could read everything in a year with a proper nominations list, and I came to my senses. (I haven't even managed to pull The Snow Queen out from under my bed yet.)

But yay for the series category! That was long overdue, and they all look like series that deserve being the first series winner, even the three and a half of them that I have not read. (OMG a category where I had already read almost half of the nominees!) For those of you voting, I suggest picking one that doesn't already have ALL THE HUGOs.

(True story: I once met Lois Bujold, back when I had just started reading her stuff and didn't understand, and complimented her on her chunky author necklace with the interesting sfnal beads all along it, and she was like, "oh, right, those are all my Hugo awards". And that was several Hugos ago, iirc.)

Anyway, since this has once again become an all sff-fandom all the time blog, can we talk about Nebula award nominee Every Heart A Doorway? Because I read that one, and I liked it! Okay it was very clearly a book about the characters and worldbuilding with a mystery plot tacked on as an excuse, but I support that choice. And there are lots of things about the characterization and the way it lined up with the worldbuilding that's really interesting. Or how it just wasn't vicious enough to say the things *I* needed someone to say about kids' portal fantasy (I think I might have needed one set at the school for kids who *don't* want to go back.) or how I kind of think that one yuletide fic did a lot of it better than the original.

But on the whole, I liked it, it was fun and diverse and had things to say, would recommend,

EXCEPT

I can't get over the fact that she made "Logic" and "Nonsense" as two opposite divisions of portal worlds.

Someone who thinks "Logic" and "Nonsense" are opposites isn't qualified to write about logic, definitely isn't qualified to write about nonsense, and absolutely isn't qualified to write about portal fantasy as a genre, because if you haven't read The Annotated Alice you don't have your foundation, and if you have read The Annotated Alice I don't understand how you could think they are opposites. The main theme of the books that basically founded the genre is how nonsense and logic are indistinguishable much of the time.

Yeah, there is some talk in Every Heart a Doorway about restructuring the classification system, which is good, but the nonsense/logic problem never comes up and *that* is their basic problem and how can none of the characters have ever properly read Carroll?

I know I'm coming on strong here about a book I basically liked but dammit Gardner's Annotated Alice is one of my foundational texts and where I learned at least 75% of what I know about formal logic and everything I know about formal nonsense. (Hell, you don't even have to have read Gardner, you just have to have made any attempt at all to understand Alice!) (Or, for that matter, to have spent much time in a traditional Fairyland.)

I spent a lot of time after reading that book grumbling to myself reclassifying worlds on a nonsenselogic - sense axis instead. It works a lot better. Narnia is basically 100% sensible. Alice is of course all the way on the nonsenselogic end. Orcus balances pretty well in the middle. (Most of the worlds in McGuire's book that we see anything of to speak of are classed under "logic" but leaning hard toward Sensible But Not Particularly Logical, much like her protagonist. Which is probably good because I suspect anyone who thinks nonsense and logic are opposites would fail utterly at writing real nonsense.)
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-04 05:44 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #7: The Moon and Mars

So, the clear K winner last week was Harry Harrison with Captive Universe and no discussion in comments. What do you people have against Harry Harrison other than him being a boring libertarian-ish white dude? It sounds cool! Generation ships in asteroids! Possibly a hispanic MC! (Possibly he totally fucks up the Mexica culture stuff?)

The F winner was The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge, also with no discussion. All I know going in is that I really like her Psion books, and I think The Snow Queen is probably fantasy but probably not a fairy tale AU? So that should be fun!


This week's theme is The Moon And Mars.

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll: Bova, Bradbury, Carter, Danziger, Del Rey, Ford, Heinlein, Lem, Temple, Verne, Wells )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-04-01 08:46 pm

(no subject)

Okay, let's see, what have I been doing lately other than reading and posting hate about beloved feminist classics.

1. I watched the Never Gonna Give You Up video for the first time in awhile due to that April's Fools Day post that's going around. I had correctly remembered that he is an Immortal, but I had forgotten that he is totally singing to the bartender. (It's not just me, right? He's singing to the bartender, that's the only way that video makes sense.)

2. I did [personal profile] darthneko's sketch-a-day calendar for March after I saw [personal profile] sholio post about it! I haven't mentioned it before now because I had no idea whether I would actually finish or not, but it was super-fun.

scan under cut )

I did it in ballpoint with no undersketching and minimal pre-planning and deliberately picked a kind of thing I am not practiced at drawing. It definitely deserves Ursula Vernon's "you are allowed to make bad art" stamp but it was really fun and I am fond of the result. It was supposed to be a giant massive spectacular spaceship but I got the scale really wrong on the first couple days so it ended up being the spaceship equivalent of a Winnebago that was parked in somebody's back pasture for twenty years. I am pretty okay with this. Boy did I not manage consistent lighting or perspective, though! (but the wavy bit in the rings is not me misjudging my curves, it's a shepherd moon. definitely.)


3. I also made a very hungry caterpillar! For a baby shower that was two weeks ago. Ooop.



I used a different texture for every section because when I was little I really loved cloth toys with different textures, but maybe most babies aren't into that? idk. It was a fun way to use stash, anyway.

4. I have started re-shelving my nonfiction by dewey decimal number! I HATE THE RULE OF APPLICATION SO MUCH

(I'm using dd because it's what we use at work, I don't need to be convinced there are better systems. I am actually making up my own system for my books, mostly because the ptb suddenly and without input banned us from doing anything "non-work-related" on the work computers regardless of how bored we are when it's slow, so I am pretending inventing my own private classification system is work-related. It does not have any rules - I made the major divisions and most of the second-level ones and am now classifying my nf using the "random book" option on LT, putting things wherever they feel right, and I will later go back and try to figure out what rules I was using. Should be fun!)

5. There has been a sudden surge of OMGCHECKPLEASE love on my reading list the last couple days! which seems to always include a rec of my fic augh every time i look at it i see so many problems It's kind of making me want to go back to the half-finished stuff in that 'verse, which is half pre-4th of July stuff about Kent trying to deal with it and eating a lot of baked goods, and half post-4th of July stuff in which Kent proposes that he and Jack come out together as a couple and that way nobody will think Jack and Bitty are dating so Bitty will be safe, and everybody somehow thinks this is a good idea, and there are SHENANIGANS and FEELS. (I don't think I actually have the capacity to write that one, so somebody else should.) Also EVENTS have MOVED ON since then and idk if I can even still write it.

6. Cat pic?
cat pic )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-03-31 02:24 pm
Entry tags:

FMK: The Female Man

The nearest pokestop I can access is approximately 1 hour's walk from my house. Fun facts! (But I did get my third 7-day streak in a row, yay me walking four miles in the rain.)

So, The Female Man by Joanna Russ. This is a book that has A Lot Of Things To Say so I am absolutely not going to even attempt to do that justice in this post, okay. tl,dr: I am going to keep it on the shelf, but I am going to keep it resentfully.

It is very much:
a) second-wave feminist, and
b) literary fiction, not genre fiction.

Read it if you want to read a frequently didactic and/or polemical text that exemplifies second-wave feminism but is relatively readable despite that. Or if you like the sort of literary fiction that is obsessed with its own genius and hits all the cliches from over-elaborate structure to self-insert MC who is a frustrated writer in NYC to the affair with a much younger woman who you are in a position of authority over but you couldn't help it, she came on to you and you were really sex-deprived, what were you supposed to do! Only with white feminists instead of boring white dudes. At least the sex scenes are reasonably well-done.

If you are interested in really cool post-capitalist post-industrialist utopian worldbuilding, read it but skip everything but the sections in Whileaway (and maybe the chapters at the end with Jael, but only if you are willing to wade through the neck-deep transphobia in those). It's pretty easy to tell which chapters are Whileaway and you won't be missing any important "plot" if you skip the rest, I promise; it barely exists and doesn't make a lot of sfnal sense when it does. (Or just read some Monique Wittig instead, 'Lesbian Peoples' is nothing but the second-wave feminist lesbian utopian worldbuilding.)

It's honestly really hard for me to separate my problems with it between the second-wave feminist part and the literary fiction part, because they basically both reduce down to the MC is a self-absorbed asshole with no real empathy in her POV.
spoilers below, as usual. also this book gets warnings for sexual assault, statutory rape, extreme violence, and virulent transphobia. most of which the author pov is okay with. )

The above makes it sound like I hated the book, and okay, I did hate the book a little. But for all of second-wave feminism's issues, it wasn't wrong about the things it did deign to pay attention to, and on the whole, neither is this book. And if there's anything last year in America taught us, it's that the job they were trying to do in the 60s and 70s and 80s still isn't nearly done. And for what it is - for a literary novel published in 1975 but tLHoD was published in 1969 that is too into its own cleverness to get out of its own way and frequently interrupts itself for long tirades of textbook second-wave feminism, it's pretty readable and makes important points, and Whileaway makes up for a lot.

But if an SF writer randomly put in a chapter in the middle of a book that was literally nothing but ranting about how mainstream critics failed to recognize the author's genius, they would be laughed out of fandom regardless of how justified they were.

I mean, even Ann Rice hasn't tried that yet.

There's a self-congratulatory bit at the end about how if a time ever comes where women read the book and don't resonate with it, that means its work is done. a) its work is not done, b) resonating with Joanna is not the way to finish it.

Also why the hell did she feel the need to keep translating the matronyms as ---son even after she learned they were matronyms not surnames, it's not like Evasdottir is an incomprehensible name to modern Earth people.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-03-28 03:15 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #6: Beloved Authors

So last week's FMK loser was Ben Bova's The Multiple Man, and tbh my only qualm with dumping that one is that I will no longer have a nice big pile of books with MEN in their title. Well, and also feeling a little bit bad for Jamie Madrox.

The winner was The Female Man by Joanna Russ! (The Bester was surprisingly close for awhile, probably because the Russ was getting a lot of M votes. Predictably.) I will be putting up a response for that one when I have finished reading it.

This week's theme is "Authors who have at least one series on my 'definitely keep' shelf but I am kind of afraid to branch out to their other stuff in case I don't like it". This should be a fun one!

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)
Poll: Alexander, Anderson, Bujold, Hambly, Harrison, Leiber, McKillip, Piper, Pratchett, Rosenberg, Smith, Vinge, Wrightson, Yolen )