(no subject)

Sep. 18th, 2014 01:03 pm
[personal profile] jhameia
Yesterday from around 10am to 3pm, I was on a Peer Panel for the orientation for Masters level international students. Practically none of them were in Humanities, which made me wish I went to the PhD one too. It was pretty fun. My co-panelist was an Environmental Toxicology PhD from Zimbabwe and we covered a pretty huge range of topics.

I also tried using my new Asus Transformer in bed last night and it worked out pretty great! But I feel really bad at how many fingerprints I left on the thing at the end of the night.

This morning I went with HH to Best BUy so I could get a new micro-USB adapter for my ASUS, because I am kind of over using plug converters when getting local adapters is so much cheaper than it used to be. I need to clear my table, write a letter, go see the doctor (and the apologize for making an appointment for a Pap and having to tell her that my period JUST started).

I also need to figure out what to do about my garden. It's covered by a lot of leaves right now which are never going to mulch properly in this weather. I found my earthworms, but they're using their humus as bedding right now, so I'll have to fix that tonight. I think I also just need more earthworms, speed up production.

Great British Bakeoff 5x07 (spoilers)

Sep. 18th, 2014 01:29 pm
[personal profile] mme_hardy
spoilers )I much prefer the technical challenges in "The Great British Sewing Bee", where the instructions say "You must topstitch the pocket openings and make a handmade thread loop for the button at the neck".   At that point, you must draw on your previous sewing experience, but at least you know what you're working toward.  I do always scream at the TV, "Use your <s>stitch-in-the-ditch</s> edge-stitch foot!", but apparently that is the foot which in their cases they have not got.

Edit:  Also, per the Guardian comments, this is a real recipe for the technical challenge:  http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/08/long-live-the-k/ .   Note that this chef puts sugar into every single turn.

I AM THWARTED BY HOUSTON WEATHER

Sep. 18th, 2014 02:54 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
Poll #15933 My flight today was canceled and I could only rebook for tomorrow., woe.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 8


To console myself, I should now

View Answers

drink Dr. Pepper
2 (25.0%)

reread Ender's Game
0 (0.0%)

work on a short story that has nothing to do with any of my assignments JUST BECAUSE
5 (62.5%)

play Flight Rising and level exalt fodder
2 (25.0%)

play a gamebook in preparations for a gamebook review site my sister and I will do for the lulz
2 (25.0%)

internet-window-shop for perfumes
2 (25.0%)

practice the piano (keyboard)
4 (50.0%)

eat chocolate
5 (62.5%)

compose random-@$$ piano piece just because
4 (50.0%)

tickybox
4 (50.0%)

[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
This link leads to my review of Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction — Suzanne Church

This is the third review of a work by one of the five authors who will be at Saturday's KW Science Fiction and Fantasy event. I don't expect I will manage reviews of works by either Marcy Italiano or Jane Anne MacLachlan but only because I don't happen to own anything by either that I am aware of. My apologies to them; it is not intended as a snub.

(no subject)

Sep. 18th, 2014 12:21 pm
[personal profile] telophase
I have just told a coworker with a question about a website to click on through and answer "Yes" to everything. You so rarely get to say that when it comes to the intarweebs.


(A university server we use throws the "This connection is untrusted" error because nobody wants to pay for a security certificate for it. So the first time you log in to it, you have to tell it to set an exception.)

Two mysteries: Lanyon, Francis

Sep. 18th, 2014 09:17 am
[personal profile] rachelmanija
A Dangerous Thing, by Josh Lanyon.

Los Angeles mystery writer Adrien English goes to a lonely cabin in the woods to relax and get over his frustrating non-relationship with hot but closeted cop Jake Riordan. (This is the second book in a series, and I didn’t read the first, but presumably that’s the one where they met.) Since this is a mystery, Adrien immediately finds a body, which proceeds to mysteriously vanish. The locals suspect him, so it’s Jake to the rescue! A playful mystery-romance, with lots of banter, sexual tension, and hurt-comfort.

A Dangerous Thing (The Adrien English Mysteries Book 2)

Knockdown, by Dick Francis.

Jonah, a bloodstock agent (horse dealer, basically) discovers unethical practices in the trade; despite increasing levels of menace and violence, he refuses to go along with it, putting himself at higher and higher risk. Meanwhile, his alcoholic brother still refuses to go to AA. But on the bright side, Jonah meets a beautiful air-traffic controller…

This typical Francis set-up goes in some unexpected directions. It’s the darkest of his books that I’ve read. They can deal with some very serious subjects, like grief and depression, but are not grim. The protagonists are put through the wringer, and good people and horses may die. But villains don’t prosper and heroes come through battered but wiser, with a better grip on their own issues and often with a budding romance with some interesting, independent woman.

This is the only Francis book I recall which does not have a happy or at least hopeful ending.

Read more... )

Knockdown

allergens metered

Sep. 18th, 2014 09:22 am
[personal profile] thistleingrey
It turns out that one minimal reaction-set to an allergen is to become drowsy, thirsty, and unable to think straight. No effect upon heart rate, no issues with breathing, no stomachache/nausea.

This account is not mine, but it could be. How common is it? I've no idea, and it seems easy to overlook.

(Though my mind-fog allergy mode from casein, a stretchy protein in cow milk, means an obligatory nap and does come with a swollen throat and thus obstructed breathing, Reason on an almond butter "oral challenge" at the doctor's office acted merely like her former 2.5yo self, i.e. like a tipsy four-year-old. In her case, a stranger---even a medical professional or an experienced childminder---wouldn't be able to tell the difference.)

On a different note:
There are so many anti-me pulli/cardi patterns that I like---on other people. Wetherell, Chamomile, Wakame (okay, that one would be a hard match for many bodies, not only mine), Brookline, Oshima, Meridien, Ink. OTOH, I could rock Minimissimi, but with almost zero desire to make it---

If you think that minor obstacles involving knit patterns stand for larger issues, you are not wrong. Cheap frustration outlet, and less likely to irritate me further than, say, reading fic.
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
As posted here:
I've been going through a stack of Andre Norton novels that weren't Witch World or Time Trades, and thinking about their appeal to me. Read more... )
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
But this caught my eye:

Brightman is slated to become the eighth paying passenger to travel to the station, a $100 billion US research complex that flies about 418 kilometres above Earth.


Surprisingly, the I in ISS isn't for Imperialist but International (although I imagine the US paid the lion's share because the US is rich and it's not like they have to reserve funds for an American NHS). A list of participating nations: Read more... )
[personal profile] oracne
I spent an hour on the elliptical last night, at level one; it's the first time I've done that, ever. Before, my longest time was 45 minutes, but I was reading fanfic and I felt pretty good. Also, it was level one, which was a lovely contrast to level 10 from Monday.

It was weird because I didn't have a good day and I was resistant to going, and I felt generally sore and tired. But the reading was a good distraction, and I went up to the fourth floor where it was a bit less crowded, which also helped my mood.

Then I did 3 sets of 10 bench presses with 20-pound dumbbells and a couple of sets of tricep kickbacks with my right arm, using a 7.5 pound weight. My arm did shake a bit, but I remember when I first started doing those in PT, and 3 pounds was rough. I also tried to do deadlifts with the dumbbells, but I was really tired by then and only did one set.

I was definitely more relaxed after all that, if a little shaky from hunger. My pre-workout Luna Bar had run out, but I had another waiting in my locker. Then I went home and had high-fiber cereal and Greek yogurt.

(no subject)

Sep. 18th, 2014 08:05 am
[personal profile] skygiants
So a couple good things did come out of me reading that boggling book on film noir. The first, obviously, is entertainment factor. The second is that, through a complex chain of Wikipedia-tracing, I discovered hard-boiled writer Elisabeth Sanxay Holding -- the woman that Raymond Chandler considered the top suspense writer of the day, himself included, so of course now she's been almost totally forgotten. Women noir authors what women noir authors?

But her book The Blank Wall has been recently reprinted! It's about a sweet, ineffectual housewife, her husband off fighting in WWII, who discovers that her sweet, elderly father has accidentally murdered her daughter's no-good boyfriend by shoving him off a pier into a sharp stick. The sweet, elderly father has no idea that he's killed the guy, and the daughter has no idea the guy is dead.

"Oh dear," says our heroine, "Father and Bee would be so upset if they ever found out about this, and what would the neighbors say? I suppose I had better take out the motorboat and hide the body on a nearby island! This is really the only practical solution."

(Our heroine's teenaged son: MOOOOOM why are you riding around by yourself in motorboats early in the morning it's SO EMBARRASSING no one ELSE's mom does that!)

Then the no-good boyfriend's accomplices turn up with blackmail material, and the police turn up politely wanting to know why she was out with a motorboat near the island where the body was eventually discovered, and one of the accomplices gets a MAD crush on Our Heroine and keeps trying to bashfully send them black-market goods while she is trying to get him to stop blackmailing them ...

(Our heroine's teenaged daughter: MOOOOM why are you going out for drives with that SHADY CHARACTER he is a NO-GOOD this is SO EMBARRASSING no one ELSE's mom does that!)

And then of course the blackmailer with a crush starts committing crime FOR our heroine, and she's just like "GREAT, NOW I ALSO HAVE TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS BLACKMAILER."

So like in all noirs, one wrong deed sends everything spiraling, and our heroine is running around trying to put out twelve fires while gradually realizing just how constrained her life is -- and while in most noirs it's the police or the bad guys or the insurance agents who are the limiting factors, what's most fascinating about the structure of this particular noir is that the greatest checks on the protagonist's freedom come straight from her family. She has all these things she needs to figure out how to do in secret and she can't do ANY of them without her kids bringing it up and complaining or the neighbors potentially judging her, because she's a Wife and Mother from a Good Family and her life has no capability built into it for privacy, or deviation from the norm, or change. Her daughter complains about how limited her mother's life is, and how she never wants a life like it -- but as soon as her mother's life shows signs of expanding, that's absolutely a thing that can't be tolerated.

The only actual ally she has is her black housekeeper, and that relationship is fascinating too, because, like, while the book is not wildly progressive or anything, it is definitely aware of the unequal power dynamic, and makes consistent, quiet points about it. Sibyl the housekeeper has a life and a backstory too, and our heroine knows nothing about it, although Sibyl is required to know everything about her.

("But women in noir are only boring wives or femmes fatales!" What confuses me is that Foster Hirsch then spends A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TIME DESCRIBING THE PLOT OF THE MOVIE BASED ON THIS BOOK.)

And ... Belated Birthdays

Sep. 18th, 2014 07:47 am
[personal profile] chomiji

*gulp* I missed a bunch of birthdays already this month ... so belated birthday wishes to [personal profile] daegaer, [personal profile] nouvellebrielle, [personal profile] iamshadow, and [personal profile] thinking_lotus.

Happy Birthday isis!

Sep. 18th, 2014 07:44 am
[personal profile] chomiji

I hope you have a wonderful day!

The sea knows where all the rocks are

Sep. 18th, 2014 06:10 am
[personal profile] sovay
I walked something like five miles today and worked until nearly five in the morning and my body does not appear to believe it needs sleep, although I am quite certain it does; I do.

[livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and I visited the MFA briefly tonight. There are three new galleries in the classical wing; I only got as far as the one dedicated to the art of Homeric epic before the museum closed and kicked us out, though Rob reports to my great delight that one of my favorite erotic kylices is back on display. I photographed this marble fragment of a siren through the glass:



(Phone caption as I mailed it to myself: "Mourning Siren, then we got thrown out of gallery.")
[personal profile] yhlee
If I request John Barnes' Kaleidoscope Century for Yuletide [1], is there anyone on the planet likely to write me fic for it?

Or to request it, for that matter?

*sob*

More happily, I am determined to nominate Steve Jackson's Sorcery! quartet, because gamebooks.

[1] I'm only interested in KC and its two principals, although the mods might prefer the trilogy (also including Orbital Resonance and Candle) to be nominated as a single fandom? Despite minor character overlap, however, KC really stands on its own quite well.

Okay.

Two definite noms: The Great Queen Seondeok and Steve Jackson's Sorcery!.

For the third, I have to decide between Enlisted, Kaleidoscope Century, and in case I change my mind entirely, Valvrave the Liberator.

I suspect I am just asking to be pinch hit bait this year, though. :(
[personal profile] starlady
Wednesday is generally when you get the cheapest and emptiest flights (relatively speaking) and it's become my go-to travel day for that reason. But for once I am in California again, so it's time to talk about books.

Books Read
Kate Elliott, Shadow Gate (2008) and Traitor's Gate (2009) - Further comments forthcoming, but suffice it to say, I loved the whole Crossroads trilogy, and I highly recommend them to everyone looking to read more epic fantasy that pays due attention to female characters and to women's experiences. Also: GIANT JUSTICE EAGLES IJS

Helen Oyeyemi, Mr. Fox (2011) - I really enjoyed the other Oyeyemi book I read, White Is for Witching; I liked this one too, though (perhaps unsurprisingly since it's riffing on "Bluebeard") the themes of violence against women, against female characters, etc, felt a bit too close to reality. But in the end I really enjoyed the interplay between Daphne Fox, the titular Mr. Fox's wife, and Mary Foxe, his fourth wall-breaking muse; he doesn't deserve either of them, but that's how it goes. Oyeyemi is a wizard of prose, and I can't recommend her books enough.

Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (2013) - I was talking to a friend of mine who bought and started reading this book the same time I did but stopped a bit of the way in because of vampire fatigue. Well, I finished it on the BART this evening and I am here to tell you, there's no question of vampire fatigue when someone reinvents the form as well as Black does here--I'd forgotten how a well-written feeding scene can be better than any sex scene outside of top-shelf fanfic, and more interesting besides. The main character's tenacity and general clear-headedness are refreshing, and the worldbuilding is very interesting. I really enjoyed it.

Currently Reading
Brit Mandelo, We Wuz Pushed - This is an Aqueduct Conversations piece about Joanna Russ. I'm quite liking it so far. It was Mandelo's master's thesis and it's really good.

Wendy Walker, Knots (2006) - Another Aqueduct Conversations book. I love Walker's prose. I need to try to get this book for my own; I'm borrowing it from a friend.

The rakugo manga - yes, I know

Book-Shaped Acquisitions Space
Andrea K. Höst's book Stray is free on amazon.com. Höst was recommended to me quite enthusiastically by a fellow Michelle West fan at Worldcon, and I'd been planning to buy some of her books in paper when I go to Australia next month. I expect interesting things!

Reading Next
These things are very difficult to predict. We'll see!

+/-

Sep. 17th, 2014 08:38 pm
[personal profile] kass
- my day took a turn for the frustrating this morning and I was kind of derailed

+ then [personal profile] squirrelhaven called and asked whether I had time to go for a walk

- and I thought: no, no, there's way too much to do, dammit

+ and I said: yes! yes I do! and we went for a walk in the woods and it was glorious

- and this evening I am attending a nonprofit board meeting remotely

- and I am pretty annoyed about that, because usually Weds night is fannish TV night

+ but we couldn't get FaceTime working, so I'm doing it via cellphone, which means no one can see me, and dammit, I am sipping a bourbon, because it's been a Damn Long Day and I deserve it.
[personal profile] yhlee
The Future According to Stanislaw Lem [The Paris Review]. Fascinating overview--I've only read The Futurological Congress and one of the shorts, but I was impressed.

By way of [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll, Dear DC Comics, This Is Why You Shouldn't Leave Creative Little Girls Behind.

- recent reading
Elizabeth Wein's "No Human Hand to Touch" in Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling's Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers, an anthology of (mostly) erotic fantasy. The quality of the stories in the anthology is highly variable; this is one of my two favorites (the other is Doris Egan's "The Sweet of Bitter Bark and Burning Clove"). Wein writes bitter-sharply of the incestuous affair between Morgana and her son Medraut. I believe I read this before I became a hard sell on Arthurians (these days I won't touch Arthurian anything, period), but the mutual passion and destructiveness of the affair is keenly depicted. In my reading this is the single best portrayal of Morgana--from first person, at that--intelligent, poisoned by her own ambitions, lonely; aware of her own monstrousness, but not its degree. It's an incredible feat of writing and I only wish I were capable of something half as good.

- recent viewing
Play It Again, Dick [streaming on CW, USA-only?], a meta-bit of Veronica Mars spin-off spoofiness. It was very silly and very short, but Joe and I were amused.

No. No, they do not

Sep. 17th, 2014 04:06 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

“What girl can I be?” Cassie asked, digging through the game pieces.

“I don’t think there are any girls, sweetie,” I said, anger building in me. Cause really, DC & Wonder Forge? WTF? You know it’s 2014, right?

Cassie put down the game pieces. “I don’t want to play this, then.” She turned and moved to leave the room, and it broke my heart. In part for her, and in part because I love superheroes, and this should be something we can share.

countess experiment

Sep. 17th, 2014 12:58 pm
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Courtney Milan, The Countess Conspiracy (2013): companion to Duchess War and Heiress Effect. It seems to me that one ought to read Duchess before Heiress, but the characters in Countess play smaller parts in those two books; though Countess takes place towards the close of Heiress, having more or less backstory for its main characters doesn't affect the earlier books much. Anyway. Widowed Violet, Countess of Cambury, has been attending the almost recklessly frank scientific talks given by a friend since childhood, the notorious rake Sebastian Malheur. In short order, Sebastian declares that he won't give talks anymore, Violet realizes (with dismay) her fondness for him, and Violet's sister Lily asserts that she'd cut Violet if Violet were attached to Sebastian. There's one more early revelation, which ought to be enjoyed as one reads the story.

Though Countess ought to have hit the idtastic sweet spot more squarely than Heiress, I preferred the latter. Heiress has an over-the-top lead, whereas Countess's plot swings over the top and out to sea; I like its scenario and characters very much but couldn't quite fall in, especially once the narrative began presenting consequences of various decisions. I needed some of them to seem a little real, I guess: although romance novels are about impossiblities coming true, too much impossibility begins to make light of the obstacles, even if unintentionally.

This is nonetheless a more favorable a reaction than I usually have to the randomnesses of romance novels, and Milan's writing and constructing feel more confident here than in the Turner books.

Here's to not only Rosalind Franklin and Anna Clausen---the book's dedicatees, described in this spoilery review---but all of the minimally acknowledged, often unnamed "typists," "transcribers," "assistants," and "helpmeets" that PD and I have been exclaiming over for years. Also, my hat's off to Milan despite my personal reticence concerning the story: when's the last time you met a novel that could reasonably be dedicated to Rosalind Franklin and Anna Clausen?

HOLY WOW, Y'ALL

Sep. 17th, 2014 03:59 pm
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
via [personal profile] hederahelix: Alison Bechdel just won a MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

Along with a lot of other awesome people, of course -- including Mary L. Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

But -- ALISON BECHDEL WON A MACARTHUR FOUNDATION GENIUS GRANT.

(I remember being thrilled and also kind of stunned when the INS declared Nicola Griffith an "alien of extraordinary ability," one whom it was in the U.S.'s national interest to allow to immigrate.)

YAY!

PSA

Sep. 17th, 2014 04:00 pm
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
Get a flu shot this year, everybody. I thought it was a tad early, and instead I have the flu. You do not want this flu. I have been out of bed for four hours since Sunday, and three of those were a mistake. It also came on quickly-- I was fine late Saturday night, and then over the span of about five hours, not so much. This is up there with H1N1 as worst flu experiences I've had; I keep thinking I'm well enough to get up and do things, and then being hit over the head with a new and terrible symptom, such as worse body aches, or fever spiking. Get a shot. Get one now. Traditionally flu season starts in October, but that is like, what, two weeks away?

Penguins!

Sep. 17th, 2014 01:44 pm
[personal profile] telophase
Zooniverse debuted another citizen science project, this one marking penguins caught on camera in Antarctica, Penguin Watch. It's even simpler than Snapshot Serengeti: you just click on adults, chicks, and eggs.

Most of the shots I've seen have either nothing in them, or small flocks. But then there's this one...cut for screenshot )

Desires

Sep. 17th, 2014 01:49 pm
[personal profile] kass
I want to take a nap.
I want to lie down in the sunshine.
I want to drive across the state border and go on an adventure.
I want to get a pedicure.
I want to dye my hair.
I want to cut it all off.
I want to get a tattoo.
I don't want to do work today.
I don't want to deal with people who are angry at me.
I don't want to deal with people who make me angry.
I want to be somewhere else.
I want to write back to that person and tell them exactly how I feel about what they said to me.
I don't want to deal with the fallout of having done that.
I want it to be a month from now already.
I don't want it to be a month from now already.
I want to go buy pumpkins and mums for the doorstep.
I don't want to spend tonight attending a meeting via FaceTime.
I want the TARDIS to come and whisk me away.
[personal profile] batwrangler
Because I missed last week where class covered the following:

1.) Shaping a down over a speed bump.
2.) Shaping getting on a bed.
3.) Side paw targeting.
4.) Shaping rolling an object with the nose.

Today, in this week's class we started making use of all the foundation work we've been doing by having the dogs balance on a variety of different things including a wobble board, couple of different balance disks, a FitPaws peanut, and a FitPaws doughnut. We also had the puppies push a large yoga-style ball around with their front feet while they stood on their hind feet.

(Dog school twice in a week is utterly exhausting.)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Let's see if this format works better:
Between our time and that of 17-year-old Noria Kaitio is the Twilight Century, a period of climate-change-driven chaos left the world a much poorer place. Noria lives in the Scandinavian Union, which in turn takes its direction from New Qian. Democracy is a thing of the past, as it generally is in stories like this, and government is very much top down. A sensible person in these circumstances either tries to exploit a dying system for ephemeral personal power or they try to avoid attracting the attention of ambitious people. Noria rejects one and fails at the other.


The rest of the review can be found here.

Need pain holiday!

Sep. 17th, 2014 09:25 am
[personal profile] badgerbag
My injection site/bad leg are truly hideous the last few days. I powered through the weekend on tramadols (about 3 per day plus codeine at night, and i had coffee 3 days in a row on vacation) Now down to only painkiller at night and tylenol in day but today I need to kick that up a few notches. I just want to lie on ice packs/heating pads and writhe around. God.

Lots of meetings today. I would like just a little cup of caffeinated tea....

Wednesday Reading

Sep. 17th, 2014 11:46 am
[personal profile] oracne
I haven't been reading much lately. I'm writing, and choir has started again, and all that. Except for a few things for previews, I'm still working on the same books from my last report.

I did really enjoy this Hawkeye and Bucky and Captain America and Black Widow fanfiction story that uses Hawkeye characterization from the current comic series: The Only Guy Steve Knows Who Lives In Brooklyn by Chex. It's set post-"Winter Soldier."
[personal profile] rachelmanija
1632, by Eric Flint.

A chunk of a modern American town, including the entire local chapter of Mine Workers of America, is mysteriously transported into 1632 Germany. What those people need are red-blooded Americans with lots of guns!

This is kind of hilariously what it is. Apart from Flint being pro-union, it is exactly like every sweaty right-wing fantasy ever, complete with the lovingly described slaughter with lovingly described guns of nameless evil people whom we know are evil because we see them randomly torturing and raping the hapless, helpless villagers. The rape and torture is lovingly described, too. There are also loving descriptions of various engineering projects.

Typical excerpt:

Mike spoke through tight jaws. "I'm not actually a cop, when you get right down to it. And we haven't got time anyway to rummage around in Dan's Cherokee looking for handcuffs." He glared at the scene of rape and torture. "So to hell with reading these guys their rights. We're just going to kill them."

"Sounds good to me," snarled Darryl. "I got no problem with capital punishment. Never did."

"Me neither," growled one of the other miners. Tony Adducci, that was, a beefy man in his early forties. Like many of the miners in the area, Tony was of Italian ancestry, as his complexion and features indicated. "None whatsoever."

Gave up on this. It’s not that I never enjoy this sort of thing. But I have to really be in the mood for it. (Appropriate mood: Snark locked and loaded.)

Free on Baen. Yes. Of course this is a Baen book. There are the obvious exceptions, like Bujold, but Baen has more of a house style than Harlequin.

Stray, by Andrea Host.

An Australian teenager steps through a portal to a strange world, where she survives on her own for a while before being rescued by and taken to another world, where she becomes a lab rat for a bunch of psychic ninjas who fight alien monsters!

This sounds completely up my alley. However, this is my third try at reading it, and I have never gotten farther than 30% in, and I had to force myself to get even that far. It’s written in the form of a diary, which means there’s no dialogue and it’s entirely tell-not-show. I’ve read books like that which I’ve really enjoyed (Jo Walton is extremely good at that type of narrative), but this one never caught my interest. It’s certainly very ambitious— for instance, Cassandra does not speak the alien language, nor does she instantly learn it— but I found it dry and uninvolving.

Sorry to all who recced it so enthusiastically! I will try something else by Host, but I’m giving up on this one. That being said, everyone but me seems to love it, and it’s free on Amazon, so give it a shot.

Stray (Touchstone Book 1)

3 Positives

Sep. 17th, 2014 08:49 am
[personal profile] oracne
Grimly, I post three positive things. With many capitalized words.

1. I am writing a New Thing, and it's flowing, so even though it's (on purpose) not at all my usual thing, that is Progress. It means I am not lazy and that I can write things, I really can. And trying Something New is good. Stretching is good.

2. I am going to cons in October and November, and I will see friends, and I will have fun. I will. And I will Not Compare my writing career to that of other people. Right?

3. We started BWV 21 last night, one of the Bach cantatas I have never sung before (there are lots of those!). It's one of his earlier ones so it has lots of intriguingly tricky bits. And it ends with a lot of "Alleluias," which is one of my favorite words to sing.

(no subject)

Sep. 16th, 2014 11:35 pm
[personal profile] jhameia
My OKCupid Adventures Tumblr tag is updated with the latest and greatest from my month in Malaysia!

Also, a prospective name for a hypothetical SEAsian SFF regional con.

Also I feel the need to let people know that the Octavia Butler Legacy Network is looking to hold a conference commemorating ten years of her passing in February 2016.

I woke up at a decent hour but only got out of the house around 10am. Bad idea. Anyway, I got a check for my Mothership reprint and went to deposit it, then went to get more eyedrops. I stopped in AT&T for a new phone and the guy was so intent on selling me a new plan he spent around forty minutes trying to get me a thing with data even though I don't use data that much. I'm looking at this phone, the LG Xpression 2, mostly because it has a QWERTY keyboard and who can get enough of things to write with. The thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't have an FM radio in it. (I don't really care for loading a phone with my own music and prefer to listen to the radio.)

Then I walked to campus to get my office key, check my mailbox (I have a box of books, yay!), check out my office. I'm back in 2414, which is smaller than the last one I was in. My officemate has been using it over the summer and practically colonized the whole place, so I told her to move her crap off the table I'm using and clear half the shelves. She's got the bigger table so I'm moving mine closer to the computer table so I can move between my workstation and the computer station more easily.

I then wandered over to the Health Center to make my appointment for my follow-up pap smear (among my many letters was a printed letter from my doctor stating very firmly I needed to come in for my pap) and then because it was too hot to be real, I went to the sub place nearby for a sandwich. Then I skedaddled home and haven't been back out since. It is aggressively hot out.

I'm gonna be at the International Student Orientation all day tomorrow. It's for the Masters students and apparently they didn't have enough Masters students to be on the peer panel so I volunteered. Good thing, I think, because the PhD orientation was today and I kind of was not in any shape to do it.

you've got to wear a smiling face

Sep. 16th, 2014 10:32 pm
[personal profile] metaphortunate
I had some kind of minor nervous breakdown this weekend, I guess? I just kind of lost my ability to, like…make plans.

Or eye contact.

The particularly good/bad timing is that my sister-in-law and her husband are visiting, which is bad because I like them and yet I spent all of Saturday blatantly, horribly ignoring them and staring at my phone, and good because they spent most of Saturday entertaining my children and so I was able to do that. I really did spend all day reading. I haven't done that since the Junebug was born. *sigh* It was wonderful.

I didn't read all of Tana French's books that one day, but that's what I read that day, and over this past while I have been mainlining them all. I resisted reading them despite [personal profile] jae's glowing recommendation because I checked out the summaries and decided I just wasn't into that much child harm these days - well, they are murder mysteries, you have to expect a certain amount of murder. But then every time I turned around someone was drooling over the latest one, so finally I decided to start with The Likeness, on account of how no kids are the victims in that one. And then of course I read all the rest of them in a row. She really is excellent. Her books are a perfect illustration of what China Mieville says about detective fiction:
that unreality function is one of my favorite things in crime fiction: I've said this before in various other venues, but I think the logic of crime novels is not really "realistic," but is a kind of dream-logic. I don't mean that as a criticism but praise—I love the oneiric feeling of logic that is logical but that is punctuated by certain elisions.

On a much more cheerful note, and another story to scarf down in great chunks, Sarah Rees Brennan has finished The Turn of the Story! God, she's going to hate me for describing it this way, but: imagine that someone took the three main characters from Harry Potter and stuck them in a blender. Hit "Frappe" a few times. All right, pour them out, and now the redheaded born sidekick is also the smartest witch in his year and also the neglected child in a cupboard under the stairs. Except that there's no witches, but you know what I mean. The born hero is now the one with a huge and lovely family, and Hermione is a stone killer and the most delightfully misandrist elf you'd ever care to see (think Legolas, not Dobby.) It's not fanfic but it is a riff on genre tropes. In a sense it's the opposite of Lev Grossman's Magician novels. If Grossman had felt like writing about a guy who was fun to read about instead of The Douchebag Who Walked The Earth Like A Man, Quentin Coldwater might be a little bit like Elliot Schafer. Also, I might be interested in reading more than ten pages of the Magician novels. Yeah, I know all the problems with demanding ~likeability~ in characters, whatever. I'm a grown person, there are plenty of reasons to read books with unlikeable characters. If you as an author GIVE me those reasons. If you don't, then reading an otherwise dreary, forgettable book entirely about assholes is just me choosing to spend a few hours of my really truly irreplaceably precious free time with assholes, and I just…I don't want to do that. I don't believe in Elliot Schafer. No teenage boy has ever been that consistently kind and smart and brave and funny. But I don't really give a shit, because sometimes, for fun, I like to spend time with people who are kind, and smart, and brave, and funny. Even if they're fictional. I find it enjoyable! Go figure. Also go read the story, it is a prequel but it is complete in itself, and the ending is not what I thought it was going to be, which is always nice. It does suffer a bit from Rees Brennan's strength-that-she-leans-on-until-it-turns-into-a-weakness, which is that she is a very funny writer, so she writes very funny characters, to the point where sometimes their voices are not as distinct from one another as they could be. But, as weaknesses in free, fun stories go, "characters are too witty" is one that I will take. If this month has you needing a unicorn chaser, this story has got that covered for you. Heh. On a number of levels.

Music: I am still working through [personal profile] norah's Femcees mix, so no comment on that yet, but other than that I keep going back to Angel Haze. Oh, also, if you ever wanted to hear what has got to be Strexcorp's theme song, it's fabulous.

Going back to the small nervous breakdown: I think I need to make fewer plans. There are a million things I want to do, and I love my friends, I want to see you all! This….may be something I need to try to slow down on. I think the overhead is starting to get to me. I really gotta work on getting some more alone time.

I watched a squirrel

Sep. 16th, 2014 10:24 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Dodge and weave 2/3rds of the way across Charles St, lose confidence and race back through traffic. There may be some sort of lesson there.

(It's a fairly major road, this bit is near the bus station and there was a lot of traffic)

I also got to watch a squirrel follow someone onto a bus, stand on hind legs looking at the passengers and then leave. My guess is it did not have exact change for the fare. The driver did not seem fazed, which makes me wonder if this has happened before.

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Sep. 16th, 2014 10:19 pm
[personal profile] lightreads
The Duchess War (Brothers Sinister, #1)The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


He's a duke with a rather obnoxious case of the privilege guilts. She's an apparently timid young lady whose tragic past, for once, has nothing to do with illegitimate children. They do exactly what you think they are going to do.

A lot of my friends rave about Courtney Milan. I thought this book was okay, if not spectacular (the duke's aforesaid angst about the terribleness of being so wealthy and powerful grated on my nerves, but ymmv). And I really think a book with a reference to war in the title and a setup promising a competition should have . . . you know . . . more competition. But that's just me being disgruntled because I love romances where the leads spend the whole time attempting to best each other, and this said it was that but really was not.

But what I meant to say is, the entire book was saved by the wedding night sex. Which, first time through, was terrible. Ahahaha, I love it. And our heroine is flat out like, "no, you totally did that wrong, that can't be it." The whole book was worth that.

Not sure where to jump to next in her catalog – thoughts?




View all my reviews

John Scalzi's book tour

Sep. 16th, 2014 09:50 pm
[personal profile] batwrangler
I was pleasantly surprised to recognize John Scalzi's hotel-room view today was of beautiful Concord, NH, and pleased to have done so in time to go to his author event at Gibson's tonight. As promised, it was totally worth my time.

Expendable by James Alan Gardner

Sep. 16th, 2014 09:27 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
51SpZ3NemXL


The first science fiction author connected with the University of Waterloo I know for a fact I met is James Alan Gardner, whose work I heard first on radio in the 1970s, who I met in person thanks to FASS, the University of Waterloo’s longest-operating amateur theatre group, and who gives me a ride to gaming every week.

Festina Ramos is a member of the glorious Explorer Corps, that chosen elite who get to go down to the surface of unexplored worlds once the probes have hit their limit of usefulness to see what exciting new ways each new world has of killing people like Festina. That process of discovery is often called going Oh Shit because those are usually the last words heard over the explorers’ radios.
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Do all of the reviews I do for James Davis Nicoll count as paid or just the sponsored ones?

Maniacal laughter

Sep. 16th, 2014 07:36 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Decided to search the local used bookstores in person, rather than calling them to ask about a particular book.

Ash

VICTORY!
[personal profile] musesfool
Ugh, today was just busy from start to finish at work. It is definitely an ice cream for dinner kind of night.

*
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
I have a meeting at the church tonight, and also I had one this afternoon, so I stuck around her after the first one, ran some errands, and then went to pick up some dinner.

Within a few blocks I have the option of burgers'n'chicken'n'such, Indian food, Korean food, Japanese food, sushi as distinct from other Japanese or Korean food, Iranian food, pizza and pseudo-Italian food, and a supermarket filled with produce from around the world. That's amazing.

(A little further away, iirc, there's a shop that sells nothing but grilled cheese, and another that sells nothing but cupcakes.)

Mmmmm, bibimbap tonight.

they shake your hand and they smile

Sep. 16th, 2014 11:50 am
[personal profile] thistleingrey
I had the wit to turn on music while patching the shower tile grout. (Shouldn't one of those nouns get a genitive marker? Looks weird in any permutation.) It's the second patching---I did it a year ago, and this time I expect it to go at most six months despite use of stronger stuff. One can see little black mold stains below where the house's prior resident had ADA-compliant support bars screwed into the tile. My desire to fix this problem ranges from (i) ditching the porcelain tub and converting the space to shower-only to (ii) redoing half the tile minus the three bars, and who cares that we can't match tile style/color (Reason and other small visitors have long since smashed the pile of leftovers) to (iii) redoing the whole shower/bath. Option (ii) is most likely. darkforge wants to keep the bars. I have talked him into keeping one, whenever the work is done. Reason, who uses one bar to jump with although we ask her not to, doesn't have a vote, especially now that I find that two of three screws on one end of that bar are loose/stripped.

1. System of a Down, "Stealing Society"
2. PJ Harvey, "Plants and Rags"
3. Eom Jeong Hwa, "Baeban-eui Jangmi," positively sedate compared to today's kpop: everyone's wearing enough clothing (on this Top of the Pops-like show) to ring the doorbell at my dayjob
4. Duran Duran, "Wild Boys"
5. Chup Chup Ke soundtrack, "Dil Vich Lagya Ve"
6. Girls Aloud, "Call the Shots," which is sort of gloriously ridiculous---hadn't seen the video ere now
7. They Might Be Giants, "We're the Replacements"
8. Pink, "Long Way to Happy"
9. Magnetic Fields, "Absolutely Cuckoo"
10. Information Society, "Peace and Love, Inc." (album track doesn't have the irritating little intro)

That's VLC's randomization from the "most" subdirectory and not terribly representative. "most" collects most (you see) of the pop/rock/contemporary stuff; parallel subdirs are "tradish," "sndtrks," and "classical."

sources, for my entertainment )

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