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Jun. 28th, 2017 09:58 pm
selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
[personal profile] selenak
This week, Potterdom had its twentieth anniversary. I always felt somewhat on the periphery of the fandom - I enjoyed the books and read some of the fanfic, I did have some opinions and theories while the books were published, but I never felt compelled to write fanfic myself, I didn't ship anyone with anyone else, and I don't think I had a Harry-Potter-related argument with anyone. Oh, wait, I think I did argue, but only in one post, about how whoever sorted the Beatles into HP houses and put John in Slytherin and Paul in Gryffindor was completely wrong, and then I wrote some silly meta fic to prove it. But other than that.

Anyway: I'm still fond of the books and some of the fanfic, and so I was delighted to see [profile] fernwithy celebrated the anniversary by writing a story about Harry shortly after Voldemort's death, trying to figure out where to go from there, and, not so coincidentally, what to do with Grimmauld Place 12, which as you'll recall Sirius left him, co-starring Kreacher and Andromeda Tonks, with cameos for Dudley and Petunia Dursley,

Broken

It captures grief, survivor's guilt, empathy, hope so very, very well.


Meanwhile, I just found there's this lovely bit from the last convention which both Stephen Furst and Peter Jurasik attended:



Boo on the cheapness of Warner Brothers, but aww on these two.

Wednesday Reading Meme

Jun. 28th, 2017 12:34 pm
sineala: Detail of Harry Wilson Watrous, "Just a Couple of Girls" (reading)
[personal profile] sineala
I got three hours of sleep and I keep coughing myself awake. Ugh. I hate everything.

What I Just Finished Reading

Elizabeth Letts, The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation: The reviews of this are split between "wow, this is poorly-written" and "OMG HORSIE." I have to say it is indeed very poorly written, but the story is compelling -- I mean, horse rescued from the slaughterhouse, turning out to be a champion jumper? It was pretty good. Also I learned that the US Army had horse breeding programs up through WWII even though horses were much less useful than they'd hoped.

What I'm Reading Now

Comics Wednesday!

Black Panther #15, Defenders #2, Infamous Iron Man #9, Mighty Captain Marvel #6, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #20, Secret Empire #5, X-Men Blue #6 )

What I'm Reading Next

I have no idea.
musesfool: boxing!Kara (but you can see the cracks)
[personal profile] musesfool
Wednesday! Books!

What I've just finished
The Five-Minute Marriage by Joan Aiken, which is delightful! If a little short on true romance. But the shenanigans are pretty hilarious and enjoyable, so I didn't mind the lack of feels too much.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, which was very charming. The funny thing is, I never really knew what it was until I read Between Silk and Cyanide (which I highly, highly recommend), because Leo Marks, the author of that, was the son of the owner and he mentions it in his book, and I was like, "wasn't that a movie? or something?" but now I have read it and I feel like a gap in my cultural knowledge has been filled. *g*

What I'm reading now
Speaking of gaps in my cultural knowledge, I never did manage to read The Three Musketeers, though god knows I tried, and I have seen numerous adaptations (I didn't keep up with the most recent BBC one, but gosh, it had a super pretty cast), so I have a sketchy outline of the story in my head, and it seems like Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts is following it pretty well, except D'Artagnan, Aramis and Porthos are LADIES (and numerous other characters have been genderflipped as well) and it all takes place IN SPACE. So I am utterly enchanted with it, though I kind of wish Constance had been left a lady too (I am very fond of Constance and Constance/D'Artagnan). I guess the dude version here is all right. And Athos is somehow more enjoyable here than I usually find him. It seems like it should be ending soon and yet somehow I'm barely halfway through, so maybe there is more stuff I just don't know about coming! I'll report back next week! *g*

What I'm reading next
*hands* I know I mentioned The Lie Tree last week, and there's a ton of other stuff on my iPad, so we'll see. My recent viewing choices may have an influence.

So last night, I finished season 1 of The Expanse. Unfortunately, I can only get the last 5 or 6 episodes of season 2 streaming on Syfy or via on-demand. What even is that model of streaming shows? If I can't watch the beginning of the season of a highly serialized show, why on earth would I watch the ending? Maybe if it didn't cost $30 for 13 episodes I'd spring for the season, but as it is, I'm just annoyed.

ANYWAY. That has nothing to do with the show, which I enjoyed, even though I can't say I'm all that invested in most of the characters.

Otoh, I am really digging the whole "Amos is kind of a sociopathic hothead whose first resort is always violence, so he uses Naomi as his moral authority" thing they've got going on. I haven't gone looking for fic because I don't want to be spoiled, but surely someone must be writing stuff where she doms the hell out of him, yeah?

spoiler )

Otoh, I want to know EVERYTHING about Naomi Nagata. And her service sub, Amos, who I like way more than I probably should. I think it's the fact that he looks like the love child of Aaron Douglas and Stephen Amell, and he has such dewy wide eyes. And great biceps. Idek. *facepalm*

On the third hand, the world-building is a lot of fun, Jared Harris is clearly having a ball, I yell CUTTY every time Fred Johnson appears, and Shohreh Aghdashloo is a joy to behold. If you are looking for a show to fill the BSG-shaped hole in your heart, this could do it, though sadly the characters are nowhere near as viscerally endearing as Starbuck, Roslin, and Adama were for me from the start.

Now I have to decide if I want to spring for season 2, or just wait until it shows up on Netflix, though even season 1 isn't on Netflix atm. Sigh. I think I have the first book in the series - is it worth reading?

***

Happy birthday to me.

Jun. 28th, 2017 12:53 am
sineala: Detail of The Unicorn in Captivity, from The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestry (Default)
[personal profile] sineala
It is now my birthday! Go me!
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
[personal profile] sovay
I have had an absolutely rotten day, in which I think I can safely say that the best thing that happened to me was getting rated a "Yiddish flirting expert" by YIVO in an online quiz. (I mean, I don't know about that, but I can certainly read Yiddish well enough to translate those pick-up lines. I'd love to know where they came from.) I am also entertained to learn that the Massachusetts Historical Society has been tracking John Quincy Adams across the sea thanks to his daily habit of recording latitude and longitude on transatlantic voyages. Other than that, I wish it had been logistically possible for me to spend the day in bed.

[edit] After watching Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon (1953), I actually feel better. I love when that works. The "Girl Hunt Ballet" is even funnier if you have spent the last year and change immersed in pulp fiction and still bounced off Mickey Spillane.
yuuago: (DenNor - Be with you)
[personal profile] yuuago
Looks like I need to read the local paper more often: First Fort McMurray pride event to be held in August
(And there's also a more recent article from CBC)

I was going to say "I'm surprised we even have any kind of Pride organization". Had never even heard of it until I saw the municipal twitter refer to it today. But it turns out they're brand new as of this year, so... that would explain things.

Must admit, I did raise an eyebrow a little bit at this:

Rensmaag [A member of the committee], who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, said she is not sure why there have not been more Pride events held in Fort McMurray in the past.

The most recently held event, called "Pride at the Pub," was celebrated in 2013 at Bailey's Pub. The gathering was marred when several individuals stole a Pride flag hung to celebrate the event and burned it in the parking lot.


Ah, yes... I wonder why there have not been more Pride events. Such a mystery. Especially since there were so many people who wondered what all the fuss was about, and talked about that flag-burning as if the people who did it had done nothing wrong. (The stuff I heard at work the day after this happened... Well. You know.)

Anyway. This thing is happening on August 26th. That's a Saturday. That means I can definitely go, as long as it's during the day. So, I will. This isn't a "maybe".

The idea kind of terrifies me, I will admit. My biggest worry is what if somebody from work sees me, because I'm not out at work, and if somebody found out, it could (and likely would) cause problems. But the people I work with are not the sort who would go within a kilometre of this event, so it should be okay. Plus, the square it will be held in is very close to one of my favourite cafes, as well as the main transit terminal, and I know the area very well, so... plenty of escape routes if things get weird, or if I get nervous, and admittedly getting nervous without reason is about 9000% more likely to happen than anything else.

It's embarrassing to admit that I am afraid; it's embarrassing to be afraid. When I was in university, I was never afraid. I was in my school's pride organization; it was the first club I joined, and I went to every meeting. When my SO visited from Halifax, or when I went there, we held hands whenever we were out, and didn't give a damn who saw us. Whenever people asked about my engagement ring, I gave the plain facts about it. I don't remember ever feeling like I had to hide.

But Wolfville and Halifax are not Fort McMurray, and Nova Scotia is not Alberta. And I'm at a very different life stage now than I was at that time. So... I guess it's not entirely unreasonable to feel this way, but I'm still going to be disgruntled that I do feel it.

Oh, well.

I wonder if Pride YMM will get permission to have the crosswalks painted like rainbows. That would be cute.

and hyssop so blue

Jun. 27th, 2017 05:10 pm
kore: (Default)
[personal profile] kore
Listening to this about six times in a row seems to have raised my serotonin levels. I always forget how well musical therapy really works until I truly need it.

YOU GUYS

Jun. 27th, 2017 07:03 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I scored the following used RPGs from Little Wars for a SONG:

- Mutants and Masterminds
- Wraith: The Oblivion
- Aeon limited edition
- Star Wars Core Rulebook ([personal profile] dhampyresa, do you want this? I'm happy to send it to you--it's Wizards of the Coast's d20 system)
- Mage: The Ascension (we may already have this BUT I DON'T CARE)
- Changeling Storyteller's Guide (now I just have to find the core book for Changeling)
- Wraith Player's Guide
- Battlefleet Gothic 2002 Annual (I looooooooove the aesthetic of the Battlefleet Gothic miniatures and am sorry I only own one, which is still unassembled in its blister pack)
- Earthdawn (I used to own this before my stepmother threw it out)
- Ars Magica (ditto)
- and a stray issue of Playboy July 1995 because it was sitting there lonely and I am easily amused

PLEASE, VAN, CONTINUE ACQUIRING AND SELLING USED RPGs. I WILL COME BUY THEM!!!

This is like Christmas.
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I've been interested in game design for some time, but when I started in elementary school, either there were no resources or they were hard to find. It was already hard to find books in English when I lived in South Korea. We did have Base access for a couple years while my dad was still in the Army, and then he left the Army to teach at Yonsei University and we lost Base access and, with it, access to the library. In any case, it would never have occurred to me to look for books on "game design." I don't think I heard of it as an area of study until college or possibly after. I spent a lot of high school trying to design a cockamamie chess variant, and I did read up on real chess variants (Chinese chess, Japanese chess, Burmese chess, etc.). It wasn't *good*, and the one time a couple friendly strangers over the internet volunteered to playtest it, they confirmed the ruleset wasn't any good, no doubt because I had devised the pieces' moves to be ~symbolic~ for storytelling purposes (it was worldbuilding for a fantasy novel) and I didn't know anything about board game design.

Since then I have made a point of reading books on game design when I can find them, and the occasional article on the web. While I have released a couple of small interactive fiction games (IFs) and the narrative game Winterstrike (Failbetter Games), I don't really consider myself a game designer. It's more in the nature of something I do on the side because I find it illuminating to consider alternate ways to approaching narrative; I think primarily as a writer of static fiction. And for the purposes of the hexarchate, it's research because I decided that one of the factions (the Shuos) abuses game design techniques in their pedagogy, and one of the characters (Jedao) is a gamer.

The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design, ed. Mike Selinker, is a collection of essays by various designers. I was originally going to read the book through and do a report on the book overall, but I liked the essays enough to do individual reports on some of them. cut for length )

Thank you to the person who donated this book!
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

How often is the thing that brings a story to life a question of grammar? And yet, I know exactly what Linda Nagata means. Here she is, explaining how verb tenses turned out to be the key:

***

cover for THE LAST GOOD MAN by Linda NagataIf there ever was one bright spark, one bit of insight, one unexpected plot twist that brought The Last Good Man to life, I don’t remember it. What I do remember was how flat and uninteresting the manuscript felt to me in the earliest days.

This wasn’t an unusual situation for me. Beginnings are hard and it can take time to work out a tone and style that feels right. So I kept pushing forward, telling myself that if I kept going, the essential spark that every novel needs would eventually ignite.

It didn’t happen. Not for over 30,000 hard-fought words. Sure, the story was advancing but I wasn’t happy with the tone or with the way it was being told—and I didn’t know why.

I’d done my preliminary work—a lot of preliminary work. I’d been tossing ideas into the literary stew pot for months, revising my synopsis again and again. This was a very near-future story centered on a small private military company—contract soldiers of the sort hired by corporations, NGOs, and the US government. These were “white hat” mercenaries, choosy about their clients, working only for the good guys, and though they were a small force, that force was amplified by the autonomous robotic weaponry they could deploy. And I had an unusual protagonist in True Brighton.

Middle-aged women are not generally considered cool enough to serve as the lead in a techno-thriller, but I wanted to give it a shot—I wanted the challenge—so I made True forty-nine years old, a retired US Army veteran and mother of three who is still fit, strong, and agile enough to qualify for field missions.

All the pieces seemed right. For months I’d sensed the potential in this story, but still somehow the spark was missing.

Up to this point I’d been writing in third person, past tense. Then—30,000 words in and on the verge of despair—I chanced to read a novel written in third person, present tense and I was intrigued. Could I write The Last Good Man in third person present?

Present tense is commonly used with first person, where the narrator relates the story using “I” or “we.” I’d done a whole trilogy in first-person present. But I’d never written in third-person present. Inspired by the novel I was reading, I decided to try it.

And I liked the energy of it! It was just a technical change, but at last the tone of the story felt right. I continued to move ahead, writing additional pages every day in present tense, and at the end of the day I would revise my past work, gradually shifting it from past tense to present, adding detail as I did.

I was far, far happier with the feel of the story. The change in tense had given it the spark it needed—or maybe it had given me the spark I needed. Whichever it was, I never considered shifting back.

***

From the cover copy:

Scarred by war. In pursuit of truth.

Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.

“…a thrilling novel that lays bare the imminent future of warfare.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

Linda is a Nebula and Locus-award-winning writer, best known for her high-tech science fiction, including the Red trilogy, a series of near-future military thrillers. The first book in the trilogy, The Red: First Light, was a Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial-award finalist, and named as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015. Her short fiction has appeared in Analog, Asimov’s, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Nightmare, and several anthologies.

Linda has lived most of her life in Hawaii, where she’s been a writer, a mom, a programmer of database-driven websites, and an independent publisher. She lives with her husband in their long-time home on the island of Maui.

Website | Twitter

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

The Handmaid's Tale

Jun. 27th, 2017 06:41 pm
netgirl_y2k: (annie strong)
[personal profile] netgirl_y2k
One of my shameful nerd/feminist secrets is that I bounced pretty hard off Margaret Atwood's writing. Like, I love Margaret Atwood as an idea, and I'm delighted that she exists out there in the world, but I've never especially enjoyed any of her books. In fact the only one that's ever really done anything for me is The Handmaid's Tale, and most of what it did was scare the bejesus out of me.

The other thing is that I have a new rule for watching telly, where if a season is, like, ten-ish episodes I'll wait till it's finished its run then I can consume it all over a week or so. This works well for shows like Orphan Black which work better for me when binged, but not at all when it came to The Handmaid's Tale, a show that needed some built in recovery time, and to be watched from behind your fingers with a strong drink to hand.

nolite te bastardes carborundorum )

(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2017 10:47 am
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee
An interview [Lightspeed Magazine] by Christian A. Coleman. Note that the interview mainly discusses Raven Stratagem, so there are spoilers for Ninefox Gambit. I also hint at what's coming in the third book, Revenant Gun.

[story] The Ghost and Its House

Jun. 27th, 2017 10:04 am
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)
[personal profile] yhlee
For P.H.
Prompt: "ghost consciousness."

The house had lain ruined for decades upon decades, quiescent at the edge of the town. Once, it was said, a fine family had dwelled there, wealthy at first, much given to parties and entertainments. The oldest people in the town still remembered the parties: the music of string quartets, and cakes decorated with spun-sugar ornaments, and couples dancing gaily through the night. But now none of the windows had glass in them anymore, save for a few sharded teeth, and the wind blew freely through the rooms where people had once gathered to gossip.

Nevertheless, the house was not entirely uninhabited. A ghost remained attached to the house, and it murmured to itself during the long winter nights, singing tuneless ghost-songs of the shapes that shadows make in the dark, and the sounds that mirrors make when no one is around to hear them, and footsteps in the distant wood. The ghost did not remember the name of the person it had been, once upon a time, but neither did this make it unhappy.

In time a pregnant cat moved into the house for the shelter it offered. The ghost did not remember much about cats, except that they liked cream, and it had no such thing to give the cat. But it had other things to offer. It encouraged the old closets to throw their doors open and disgorge their rotted linens so that the cat would have something to nest in, and it offered all house's hiding places, as well as the lullaby of the crooning wind.

For her part, the cat was a pragmatist. She did not share human prejudices against ghosts, and a ruined house was as good as any other place for her to raise kittens. She merely made sure that there were no raccoons or the like already occupying the place, and then she set to building her nest in earnest.

Cats are not the most talkative of folk, but this cat was friendlier than most. She asked the ghost why it lingered in the house, instead of going to its rest the way humans usually did. While she didn't always put credence in human stories, she had heard that ghosts usually stayed in the realm of the living because they had left some task unfinished.

The ghost said to the cat, "The only task is the task of the house itself. It was my home when I lived, and it remains my home in death."

"Then I am sorry I cannot help you," the cat said, dismayed in spite of the very pressing matter of the kittens she expected to arrive in a matter of days. "A human could help you restore the house, but I am a cat. I may have clever paws and whiskers, but they are no good for building."

The ghost's laughter gusted through the house, although it tried to keep the worst of the cold from the cat. "What do I care about restoration?" it said. "Perhaps once, when I had flesh, it would have mattered to me. But now I am a creature of shadows and dust and ash, and this house suits what I am now. I can keep it safe for you and your kittens. They can play in the house's halls and grow to adulthood without fear of being chased out by human owners; is that not enough?"

"If that is the case," the cat replied, "I shall gratefully accept your hospitality, and my kittens and I will keep your house free of mice."

"It is a very old bargain," the ghost said, "and if it suits you, it suits me."

Two days later, the kittens were born without fuss, or more fuss than the usual, anyway, and in the years to come, generations of cats made their home in the house. They probably live there still. As for the ghost, it has been busy adding the songs of cats to its repertoire. The result is noisy, but none of them mind.

Some things

Jun. 27th, 2017 10:23 pm
alasse_irena: Photo of the back of my head, hair elaborately braided (Default)
[personal profile] alasse_irena
I posted in a friending meme, so I thought I'd better post something. I've been in study land and let the blog go into hibernation.

1. A friending meme! Go make friends with people.


2. I have a lot of Doctor Who thoughts that I'm going to write up after the final episode next week. Basically I've enjoyed this season more than expected, with the exception of that monks/pyramid section, which was pretty rubbish.

3. I am flying to warmer places next week to see the Royal Ballet. The tickets were expensive but we're staying with family, so that makes up for it, and also it is not so fucking cold as here. (I say this as an Australian. The Bureau of Meteorology says it's 9.7C right now; all of you from colder climes, I am glad not to be you.)

4. I am thinking about taking up aerial hoop, and also my favourite ballet teacher is running a class I can finally make it too!

5. What is which that thing where you decide to go and have a shower or whatever, and then somehow an hour later you are halfway between the couch and the batthroom reading some shit on your phone and you are stuck?? Why is that a thing? Humans are badly designed.

6. My friend's parents somehow...impulse-bought an old Church three hours drive from the city? Anyway, I went with a group of friends to stay there over the weekend, got super drunk on fortified wine, got to know a lovely and interesting person who had previously only been an acquaintance, and saw an old volcano crater!

7. I handed in a draft of my thesis, and while it's only half the work of a whole thesis, I feel happy to have got through it. I'm giving myself a week's break before I get back to work. (Except reading. My primary sources are memoirs and super easy to read, so they can double as recreational reading, as long as I remember to take occasional notes.)

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dhampyresa

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