[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Not just a parking lot, a parking structure. An auspicious way to finish up this tour’s series of Views from a Hotel Window.

I’m in Southfield, Michigan, at the Penguicon convention. Tomorrow I sign books, do my final reading of the tour, and participate on panels. If you’re in the area and have a hankering for a nifty science fiction convention, come on down (Bonus: Cory Doctorow, with whom I just did several really excellent tour stops, is the Guest of Honor).

And after Penguicon? Why, I go home! Finally! Yay!


oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

How eBooks lost their shine: 'Kindles now look clunky and unhip'.

Which sounds to me a statement about 'at first it looked cool and cutting edge to have an e-reader, now everybody has one, meh'.

I.e. it's all about the lifestyle statements, which certainly seems to me to emerge like a miasma from all the to-do about books as lovely artefacts and saying something about the person:

#bookstagram, a celebration of the aesthetics of books, where books are the supermodels and where readers and non-readers can see cats and dogs reading books, books photographed in landscapes, books posed with croissants, sprays of flowers, homeware, gravestones and cups of coffee, colour-matched and colour-clashed with outfits, shoes, biscuits and in what can only be described as book fashion shoots. You just can’t do a shelfie with an e-reader.

No, but you can sit down and bloody read the thing, rather than poncing about making design statements.

We are in the same territory, I fear, as those interior designers who consider books as quirky objects and do not see shelves as things which should contain as many books as possible, fie upon your sea-shells and plants and framed photos taking up space.

Why mainstream publishers may be feeling the pinch on ebooks might possibly be because they price them like hardbacks rather than paperbacks. Okay, there are some authors whose latest work I would buy at that price, because I would buy them in hardback when they came out, and I am trying to reduce the number of books that come into the house.

(Stop laughing.)

And somebody please pass a) a sickbag and then b) a large codfish:

Once upon a time, people bought books because they liked reading. Now they buy books because they like books. “All these people are really thinking about how the books are – not just what’s in them, but what they’re like as objects,” says Jennifer Cownie, who runs the beautiful Bookifer website and the Cownifer Instagram, which match books to decorative papers, and who bought a Kindle but hated it. Summerhayes thinks that “people have books in their house as pieces of art”. One of her authors’ forthcoming works features cover art by someone who designs album covers for Elbow.

One is reminded of those arrivistes who bought tastefully bound volumes by the yard to fill up the shelves in the library in the stately mansion they had bought (or had built). NQOSD.

My Unofficial Resolutions for 2017

Apr. 28th, 2017 09:53 am
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 I suspect I had other resolutions earlier this year, but I've forgotten them.  I'm certainly not doing them, unless one of them was to try to do a little bit of gardening every decent-weather day.  Yeah, so that's the thing I'm trying to do this year. I'm really hoping it will stop my gardens from becoming their usual weed-infested, overgrown disaster areas.  It would be one thing if, when I let my gardens grow wild, they would become a haven for woodland creatures.  Somehow that doesn't happen. Somehow I just end up with a mess.

To that end, so far this year, I have spent probably a total of four hours on a couple of problem areas.  One, hardly anyone will see, but we have this pathway that leads from our backyard to the front.  It's usually completely ignored by me and becomes the place the weeds with the sticky burrs live. Then every time I take the garbage out and come back again, I have to pick those little sticky bastards off my sleeves.  WELL. A couple of days ago, I dug that whole area out and transplanted some hostas and day lilies and now my fingers are crossed that the predicted snow does not kill them.   

Today I spent an hour or so on the front hill. The front hill... when we first moved into this house we had lush, green grass growing down the hillside.  It was a really big pain to mow, but it was GRASS (something, it turns out, I have no skill in growing or maintaining.)  Now... now there's a lot of dirt and weeds.  Underneath the weeds are some hosta, so pulled out a lot of the weeds today and uncovered several hosta. A few were big enough to split and a couple were in places where they were going to get smothered out--so I moved some stuff around.  I'm hoping this will help things look intentional.

The second resolution is that I'm going to try to learn more conversational Japanese.  I did NOT start this year out well in that regard as I have had to drop out of my community education class, however, I did find a REALLY GREAT set of language CDs at the library which I'm listening to while I do the dishes/make dinner/other housework.  I love these CDs because they're actually teaching me some useful phrases ("I don't understand Japanese being the FIRST THING THEY TAUGHT ME) and they keep bringing up the things you learned in earlier lessons on heavy repeat.  I actually, for once, feel like I'm retaining some of this information I'm learning.  That's a HUGE step forward in the language department for me. Because I can't otherwise seem to retain information. I told Shawn that I'm going to have to buy this particular brand of language CD.  

I should probably resolve to write fiction, too, but sometimes I feel like I should give up.  :-(
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Indeed 'tis turning out a most enjoyable occasion. Lord A- comes dance with me and tells me how very well they find B- House to answer: 'tis all very well living at one’s club, but cannot compare to domestick life such as he now enjoys.

He looks over to where Lady A- dances with Milord and says, 'twas a lucky day for me when I heard her sing. And what an excellent fellow is her father, has a deal of sound practickal experience of a deal of matters, and comes about to play goff quite remarkable. Cannot touch MacD-, of course, one apprehends that the Scots take to it quite from infancy. Sure I am glad to see him return’d to Town, is giving me the most valuable assistance in finding a secretary.

I am next solicit’d by Danvers D-, that says 'tis somewhat of a bore, had rather be at the theatre or at home, but A- is such an antient friend, shows civil to come.

I ask how matters go with him and he most immediate tells me what a fine precocious infant is Orlando, how very well Miss R- shows in the latest plays, and hears there is a new comedy coming that will be most amuzing. He also minds to tell me that his mother is exceeding well, an entire doating grandmother, and the pugs are in health.

And what an entertaining fellow is her uncle. They will sometimes be in quite an agony of mirth at him. Sure those are lucky fellows at that club of his.

(I daresay Danvers D- has not the least apprehension of the nature of the club.)

After I have resign’d Danvers D- to his next partner, I have the great pleasure of a waltz with Sir H- Z-, that is sure almost as accomplisht in that art as Sir Vernon H- (that is now install’d at St Petersburg about his diplomatick business). I remark that I hear that Mr de C- goes paint a family group, and he says, indeed, he felt 'twas a politick thing.

I smile and say, why, 'tis a very pretty display of conjugal harmony, is’t not?

He smiles down at me and says, indeed 'tis. And lately his boys have been reading a very fine tale concerning wreckers and sure the author must be one that he has acquaintance of, for there are their family tales concerning that dreadfull business.

La, says I smiling, perchance one of your neighbours in Cornwall finds time hang heavy upon their hands and goes essay authorship. And then I turn the subject to tin-mining.

And then Milord comes claim me for the supper-dance, at which I am exceeding glad, for the antient sheep Sir V- P- still wambles somewhat in my direction.

He smiles at me and says sure I am looking exceeding well. And you, says I. We both glance to where Sandy leads out Eliza.

Why, he says, you may imagine the exceeding great relief I feel.

But then we give ourselves entirely to the dance, for we have ever danc’d together exceeding well, and I see heads turn to look upon us, and I daresay there are whispers that sure we remain entire, tho’ very discreet, devot’d to one another.

('Tis entirely to the good, for there are those have observ’d what an exceeding fine woman Mrs F- is, and such an excellent mistress of the household at R- House, and go make vulgar speculations upon the matter.)

And then he takes me into supper, and smiles and says, hopes I will join the party in his box for the opening night of this fine new comedy The Ladies' Rivalry -

Alas, says I, I suppose 'twould look particular was I not there, and 'twould be suppos’d there was something behind tho’ I doubt would come at the truth of the matter.

He squeezes my hand, and changes the subject to how matters go in the anti-slavery set.

After supper comes up to me Biffle desiring a dance, that I grant with great pleasure. He looks a little preoccupy’d, with constant glances to where Viola sits, and I beg him disclose what’s ado.

Why, he says, I confide 'twould be best did Viola go home now, she droops a little tho’ I daresay those that know her not so well as I would not notice, but Sebastian comes stay with us for a few days afore he departs for the Baltic, and she would not oblige him to leave the ball so early, for one must perceive that he greatly enjoys the occasion.

I look over to where Sebastian K- dances with Rebecca G-, and am like to think 'tis entirely so.

One might, goes on Biffle, send the carriage back for him –

O, poo, says I, as I must stay 'til some very late hour to demonstrate how very much Lady B- is in health, can convey him in my carriage. 'Tis no great matter to come by way of M- House or to send Ajax on after he has left me at home.

'Twould be most exceeding kind, says Biffle smiling down at me, and I am in some suspicion that Sebastian would be grateful of an opportunity to hold converse with you concerning his visit to St Petersburg -

(I sigh inwardly, for my tale concerning Miss G-'s fine marriage to a Russian nobleman of exalted rank and liberal opinions that pose exceeding great risque in those parts, has quite took on a life of its own.)

La, says I, I am like to think that Sir Vernon goes undertake any matters I might be concern’d with in those parts very discreet thro’ his diplomatick connexions.

Biffle smiles again and says, tho’ he is entire sure Lady B- would make quite the epitome of a diplomatick wife, her friends must be exceeding glad that she is not gone to those chilly parts.

I say that Sir Vernon is an excellent fellow that I will ever hold friend, but I am entire content’d in my widowhood.

So comes round the hour when all begin summon their carriages, and not only have I not swoon’d, the mirrors inform me I am in quite excellent looks, and indeed, I do not even feel in particular tir’d, that I attribute partly to Docket’s prudent habit of making me go rest beforehand with a cool cloth over my eyes, and partly to the vivifying effects of a fine ball.

I go up to Sebastian K- that lingers about the hall and say, I hope he is ready to depart, for Ajax is just bringing around my carriage, and he says, 'tis most exceeding kind of me, for he did not want to keep Vi up this late in her present condition, tho’ she would not complain.

And when we are ensconc’d in my carriage, he says to me that there are one or two little matters upon which he would greatly desire my sage counsel afore he sails for Bergen, but he confides that I have a deal of matters upon hand at present –

Poo, says I, but 'tis true, there is a deal of business I have to be about at present. Why do you not come take a glass of brandy with me afore you go on to M- House?

Has become a young fellow of considerable address, but stutters a little when conceding to this proposal.

When we arrive at my pretty house, I desire him to go on into the parlour and stir up the fire, for at this time of night is a little chill, whilst I give my instructions to Hector.

Sebastian K- is still standing before the fire when I go in: I wave him into a chair and sit down vis-à-vis.

Sure, says I, 'tis an entire age since I have seen you to say more than hello or goodbye.

He swallows, and says, before he says anything about himself, he would desire to offer to enquire, should I like, about the former Miss G- at St Petersburg.

Hector comes in with brandy and madeira and a plate of little savoury biscuits.

After he departs I shake my head and say, pray, Mr K-, do not do any such thing. I fear 'twould be entire prejudicial to your own enterprizes. Sir Vernon goes about most exceeding discreet to discover have she and her husband been exil’d to Siberia, and if so, how one might communicate and perchance send somewhat to ease their condition.

He gives a little laugh and says, sure, he should have known Lady B- had that matter entirely under hand. But the other matter is – he clears his throat – Herr P- shows a considerable disposition towards business, that one had not anticipat’d from hearing about his design to go live like a wild Indian in the American forests.

Why, says I, I do not doubt that he is a fellow of considerable intelligence wheresoever he goes apply it (save, thinks I, to certain matters of proper social conduct).

'Tis so, says Sebastian K-. But – he frowns – shows some inclination to be rather too sharp in the recommendations he puts forward. I am not sure one would care to give him too much influence –

I confide, says I, that you are right. Was I you, I should go about to ensure that your father does not come to lean upon him while you are away.

He nods his head and says, he will go warn certain of the senior clerks – for he is like to think that does he express his concern directly to his father he will pooh-pooh it – and mention the matter to Jacob S-.

'Tis well, says I, you come to be a prudent man of business.

He blushes.

I pour him some more brandy, and ask how their business does. He tells me most particular about how well Phoebe’s polishes do, and Seraphine and Euphemia’s pickles and preserves.

Sure can I not tell that a young fellow has a considerable admiration for me, I shall have lost all my wont’d skills.

And in due course I come about to saying how very prepossesst I am with the way he has took up their interest, and he begins stammer again, and I stand and go over to him and take his hands and draw him to his feet and kiss him and say, would wish to show gratitude.

Am like to apprehend that he has acquir’d some experience with women upon his travels, but he shows most extreme gratify’d, adding that sure he would never presume upon this mark of favour.

I wish him well upon his travels.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
TFW you calculate that the Venus Equilateral Relay Station probably had decades if not more than a century's worth of breathable air for the 3000 people on board.
[syndicated profile] charlie_stross_diary_feed

^^^ Me again. M Harold Page. The writer with the swords and some books in print, rather than the one with the cats and a metric tonne of books in print (plus enough rockets that we really should get him that Tracy Island in which to keep them).

Did I say "swords"? 

Right now it's actually blasters because I'm wearing my Space Opera hat. 

Yes, despite all my books to date featuring many, many swordfights, I wrote a Space Opera. It's called "The Wreck of the Marissa (The Eternal Dome of the Unknowable #1)".

And yes, as you might guess from its title, it's at the other end of the spectrum from the transhuman wibbletech extrapolative futures that Charlie likes to explore. It's also not Military SF. Though there's fighting - the protagonist is a retired mercenary turned archaeologist - it's small scale stuff and the focus isn't on the regular army.

But what subgenre is it?

The same subgenre as EC Tubb's Dumarest books - hero wanders the galaxy in search of Earth - or Moon's Vatta's War - hero trades across the galaxy while coming to her family's rescue - or Firefly - oddball crew trade between worlds - or, of course, the venerable Traveller Roleplaying Game - I've been reviewing the new Mongoose Traveller over on Black Gate (*).

It's partly defined by vibe; hardboiled adventure in an imperfectly distributed future where there are more planets like Tatooine than Coruscant. However, it's also defined by protagonist(s) and scope; independent operators struggling to make a go of it in a hostile human universe with the antagonists capped at corporation or "house" level, with no Dark Lord, and no saving the galaxy.

You know exactly what I mean. It's the subgenre that that bears the same relation to Space Opera that Sword & Sorcery bears to Heroic Fantasy.

But it doesn't have a name! And though I'm half a century late to the game, I think we should call it "Star Punk".

Here's why.

The range of $CONCEPTpunk genres, namely Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Valvepunk, Elfpunk... (Wikipedia has  a handly list) all share one or both of the following:

First, the $CONCEPT really works by authorial fiat. It's what some writers call a "gimme".

Any deep worldbuilding is mostly just handwaving to support the technology that produces the desired literary effect. Taking Steampunk as a representative example: Philip Reeve's Predator Cities (*) trundle around the dried up ocean beds eating each other with backstory, but no plausible technical explanation; and Oppel's more lyrical Airborn (*) gives us an airship based future with some technical explanation, but not much backstory.

And we don't care.

We want the story world with the Zeppelins and steam-powered tanks, partly because they're cool, but also because they enable stories that explore certain themes and human experiences. In this, the $CONCEPTpunk genres have a lot in common with Magical Realism. (Perhaps we punks are really just magical realists who know how to plot?) 

Second, there's a focus on the personal experience of individuals with personal agency - "punks"? - navigating the technology of the storyworld .

The parent genres often use the same tropes and technologies, but it's the punk sub genres that engage with them. Thus, for example, characters in Simon R. Green's scenery chewing Deathstalker (*) series boast various Cyberpunk augmentations, but the series is squarely Space Opera. Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie gives us orcs using Steampunk technology at Isengard, and Tolkien himself turns the Shire into a Steampunk dystopia, but neither are by any stretch of the imagination actual Steampunk. 

I think the reason we recognise a kinship between, say, Dumarest  (space drifter) on the one hand and Firefly (space trader) on the other is because they share a similar science fictional universe in which the what matters more than the why. The same goes for Vatta's War, and most of Flinx, and actually Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict stories (*).

They are all set in spacefaring civilisations where technology has somehow - with an authorial handwave - and my handwave is particularly cunning and internally consistent - failed to eliminate the human element, where you still need a human to pull the trigger or pilot the scout ship, and where nanotechnology, 3D-printing and vertical farms have neither eliminated trade, nor ushered in a crime-free post scarcity society. They all involve individuals or companions - adventurers, traders, investigators, contractors - pursuing goals of only local significance.

In other words, they could all be transcripts of particularly good Traveller campaigns.

As I said, this genre is like the Space Opera version of Sword & Sorcery. However, I'm damned if I can coin a _____ & _____ term along the lines of Sword & Planet that covers all aspects without making any mandatory. (Have a go in the comments if you like...)

So let's call the whole lot "Star Punk" and be done with it...unless you have a better idea?


M Harold Page isthe Scottish author of  The Wreck of the Marissa (Book 1 of the Eternal Dome of the Unknowable Series), (epub here) an old-school space adventure yarn about a retired mercenary-turned-archaeologist dealing with "local difficulties" as he pursues his quest across the galaxy. His other titles include Swords vs Tanks (Charles Stross: "Holy ****!") and  Storyteller Tools: Outline from vision to finished novel without losing the magic(Ken MacLeod: "...very useful in getting from ideas etc to plot and story." Hannu Rajaniemi: "...find myself to coming back to [this] book in the early stages.") You can find his most recent Black Gate Traveller article here

(no subject)

Apr. 27th, 2017 08:49 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] gumbie_cat!
oursin: Cartoon hedgehog going aaargh (Hedgehog goes aaargh)
[personal profile] oursin

Yesterday, bound for a conference. Got the train okay.

About a third of the way into the journey, train stops.

Someone had collided with a train further up the line.

In due course we are informed that train will be terminating at a station not previously on the schedule, where we can change to a train going, presumably by some more circuitous route, to the next scheduled stop, but not, however, onwards to my destination.

When we arrive at designated point, it is chucking down rain. Fortunately the next train is in and we only need to cross the platform. It is, however, rather full, though I did manage to get a seat.

Another, local, and very crowded train at the next change.

My dearios may imagine that all this was by no means conducive to reading a serious academic study for review purposes.

Once at my destination, some 2 hours later than anticipated, there was supposed to be a taxi booked for me - I had been in touch with the conference admin person anent delays - what I had not been told was that it would be round the back rather than the main exit.

Not that it was there when I found the spot, and cameth not as I waited in an increasing state of fume - it would always have been tiresome but after the preceding misadventures this was particularly infuriating - and a chilly wind. Fortunately, what did turn up was the taxi for one of the other participants, so I went with her.

I do not mention the faff over my ticket - got details and booking ref latish previous afternoon.

Inadequate curtainage in hotel room meant undesirably early waking....

And now I have to present a paper, sigh.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

'Tis with some chagrin that I open a letter from dearest Belinda, that writes that she hears that I am return'd to Town, and I mind that I have not writ to her this age. I hope she does not take offense in the matter or suppose I go scorn her.

But she writes in all good humour to mention that they have had dealings with Captain C-, and that she is in correspondence with Chancery over the matter of T-, but she doubts that there will be any immediate action; and she hopes that I may join 'em for the Derby again this year. She also wonders a little whether my jaunt abroad had somewhat to do with that matter I open'd to 'em last summer. But as I am happyly return'd she confides that all's well.

So I address myself at once to inditing a letter to her with as much of my news as 'tis prudent to convey, and declaring that 'twould be an entire pleasure to join their party for the Derby.

'Tis most particular shocking to me to have neglect'd to write to her, when I contemplate that this very e'en I am bound to Lord A-'s ball at B- House, that will sure be a matter of interest to her.

But indeed, I have been entire besieg'd with invitations and callers and the wranglings among the philanthropick set, and trying put my writings in fit condition to be publisht or stag'd, and going furbish up my wardrobe so that Docket will not scold me. Yet 'tis most thoughtless in me.

But I cannot regret the hours spent about my wardrobe when I go have Docket and Sophy array me for the B- House ball: sure I am a vain creature, but it pleases me to look so exceeding well in a fine new satin gown of Maurice's devizing, with my fine Hindoo rubies blazing about my neck and my pearls gleaming in my hair. They stand back and look very approving.

Docket nods and says sure Maurice does excellent fine work.

I arrive at B- House late enough not to be unfashionable early, but not so late as to look haughty. I greet Lord and Lady A- very warm: I confide that she is at that stage of increase where she begins show a little but is like to feel exceeding well. Certainly she looks so, and I remark upon how very much she is in looks. Lord A- looks at her very proud and says, but she should not overdo: I daresay Mrs O- B- has been dispensing cautions.

I say that I hope we may have the pleasure of hearing her sing, if only a little, before I proceed up the stair to see the rest of the company.

Sure one would not know B- House for that desolate wreck that us'd to be, 'tis now a fine fashionable residence entire throng'd with quite the best society, and I can hardly even believe it that same place where I was menac'd by that creeping madman. The chamber in which I was so terroriz'd by that horrid apparition is now a fine musick room in which Mrs O- B- goes delight an audience with her song.

I go in very quiet and sit down to listen for a little while, and find myself next to Sebastian K-. We nod very civil to one another in silence so as not to distract the other listeners.

After Mrs O- B- goes sit down to considerable applause, I stand and leave the room, for tho' tis most agreeable to listen to good singing, I must go improve the shining hour, whilst I also demonstrate that I may still dance a very great deal without I go swoon.

I should perchance have preferr'd not to dance with Mr O- B- so early in the proceedings, for tho' a most amiable fellow is a quite wretch'd dancer that treads upon my feet, but I must show civil. Is most effusive as to what a fine residence this is, how very pleasant Lord A- shows - has took him a time or two to play goff at Blackheath ('tis indeed a great mark of favour); entirely doats upon Charley, and comes about to an apprehension of the duties of his rank.

Why, says I, that is entire pleasing. Was ever an agreeable young fellow but somewhat of a careless fribble.

Goes very meritorious to take up the business of his estates, goes on Mr B-. And is a fellow will listen to advice.

The dance ends and I endeavour not to hobble as I quit the floor. I stand wriggling my toes to ascertain they are not broken.

Comes over Lord O-, that has been dancing with Cousin Lalage – 'tis in exceeding good ton of him – and asks me to dance. I concede with pleasure.

He says, he is entire glad that Lady B- is return’d to Town, along with Mr MacD- - he gives a certain smile by which I confide he supposes that we have been about matters for The Cause; 'tis indeed not entirely mistook – for he comes about to have the manuscript for the book of his travels complet’d, and would scarce dare venture it upon the world without he took it before our judgements.

O, poo, says I, I am like to suppose 'tis quite entire its own recommendation: Mr L- was most entire prepossesst by the preliminary essays he publisht – declar’d they had a fine virile style -

The Marquess’s lips twitch and he says, sure he cannot have suppos’d how much assistance I had from a certain lady of the pen -

Tush, says I, 'tis entire like unto advizing concerning furbishing up a residence: a gentleman’s study and a lady’s boudoir will require a different approach. But, I go on, I see that you have quite another kind of production in progress –

He looks somewhat more sober and says, sure the prospect is exceeding delightfull, but one cannot entire be unfearfull, 'tis a perilous matter for women.

'Tis indeed so, says I, I hope you have her in good hands?

He says that he understands Mr H- to be very well-thought-of in the man-midwife line.

Entirely, says I, tho’ did you prefer a midwife of the more usual sex there is one whose interest I might advance to you.

He looks thoughtfull and says, he will ask his dear Hippolyta what she might prefer.

At the end of the measure I observe Lieutenant H- approaching. He makes me a leg and offers that I might care to dance? As he leads me onto the floor I remark that I had not expect’d to see him still in Town rather than return’d to his ship. He sighs somewhat and says, is at present second’d to duty at the Admiralty, sure had rather be at sea, hears I was lately at Naples, was the fleet there?

O, says I, arriv’d just about as I was about returning to Town, heard the Admiral’s excellent news.

He says somewhat of what a fine fellow is the Admiral, what a privilege 'tis to serve with him, and then his gaze strays to where Em is dancing with some fellow that I do not immediate recognize, and I confide that there are certain attractions ashore, even does he yearn for salt water.

At the end of the dance he goes with great expedition solicit Em, and I look about me and see where Viola is sitting. I go greet her and she says, she confides I have not yet been introduc’d to Rebecca G-, that is dear Jacob’s niece, and Julia P-, from Bombay.

They are indeed very fine-looking young women, of a most out of the common exotick style of beauty, that make exceeding civil. Miss P- in particular has a fine ivory-tint’d complexion and smooth raven hair and finely-cut features; perchance there is a little look of the Orient, that may be attribut’d to her upbringing in Bombay. I am like to think that Sir Z- R- would be quite wild to paint her, and remark on this.

Why, says Viola, perchance we might go to his studio one day, there can be entirely no objection to the matter.

Then come up the gentlemen to whom the young ladies have promis’d the next dance. I sit down beside Viola, ignoring that Sir V- P- endeavours catch my eye to come solicit me.

I mind, says I, that Martha found the scent of paints &C somewhat unsettling when she first went increase with Deborah.

Viola sighs and says, indeed she at present finds there are certain scents do cause a certain qualmishness, 'tis somewhat tiresome. Might you, dear C-, be kind enough to take 'em there? Are they not quite among the belles of the Season?

Entirely, says I, do they yet have any eligible offers?

O, there are several go pay 'em most particular attention, but do not yet come to that point. But 'twixt their looks, their portions, and their very excellent address, I cannot think they will linger upon hand very long. And, she goes on, Miss C- I think has already took, Lord V- shows exceeding smitten.

So 'tis give out, says I. What about Lady Rosamund?

Viola sighs and says, she was anticipating a young woman that would display theologickal objections like unto her brother; and sure she is mind’d to suppose that that would be a deal less exasperating than the ways she shows. But, she goes on, you should not be sitting out with me, dearest C-, I am sure that there are a deal of fellows quite panting to dance with the exquisite Lady B-.

'Tis possible, I concede, so be I may evade the antient ram. Aha, I continue, I observe Mr Geoffrey M- -

Viola laughs somewhat immoderate and says, do you go have a youthfull cicisbeo like unto Lady Z-? 'Twill be said that you have got quite into Italian habits.

O, poo, says I, he is an agreeable and respectfull young fellow.

Indeed, he comes over and makes an elegant leg – one may most certain see the effect of his association with Milord – and offers that I may care to dance?

I rise and curtesy and we go tread a measure, during which he conveys to me some very shocking matters he has lately discover’d in his studies concerning the laws of the nation.

A miraculous restoration

Apr. 26th, 2017 08:50 pm
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[personal profile] morgan_dhu

So, last time I posted, I was lamenting that I just couldn't seem to read any more. Well, as suddenly as if someone flipped a switch in my brain, it's come back. I'm almost afraid to talk about it, in case it runs away again.

But, it's Wednesday, and for the first Wednesday in some time, I have books to talk about.

Read in the past week:
Seanan McGuire, Rosemary and Rue
Seanan McGuire, A Local Habitation
China Mièvile, This Census-Taker
Kij Johnson, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
Aliya Whiteley, Brushwork
Lois McMaster Bujold, Penric and the Shaman
Kai Ashante Wilson, A Taste of Honey
Seanan McGuire, Every Heart a Doorway
Becky Chambers, A Closed and Common Orbit
Liu Cixin, Death's End
Jean Roberta and Steve Berman (eds.), Heiresses of Russ 2015

Also, some assorted short fiction (stories and novelettes), including Ursula Vernon's The Tomato Thief and Nina Allen's The Art of Space Travel.

Most of this reading has been for the Hugos. I am feeling much better about actually being able to do the reading necessary to make informed voting decisions.

Currently reading:

I'm slowly making my way through The Merril Theory of Lit'ry Criticism, a collection of essays, articles and anthology introductions by Judith Merril, published by the most wonderful Aqueduct Press.


Up next:

More Hugo reading. I still have the graphic novels to read, and a few of the novelettes. Plus, at least one or two books from the remaining Best Series nominees - James S. A. Corey's The Expanse series, Max Gladstone's The Craft Sequence, and Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series. Also, in the Related Works category, the Silverberg book.

Once @i finish all of that, some friends made me promise to give something by Brandon Sanderson a try, and there's at least a dozen novels from last year, plus some novellas and shorter fiction. Then, try to catch up on the new and interesting stuff from this year....

But at least there is reading again.

Seanan McGuire: A Local Habitation

Apr. 26th, 2017 08:45 pm
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[personal profile] bibliogramma

A Local Habitation is the second of Seanan McGuire's novels featuring October Daye - Toby to those who know her well - changeling, private investigator, and knight of Faerie.

In this installment, she is called upon by her liege lord Count Sylvester to investigate a potential problem in the small faerie realm of Tamed Lightning, a buffer state between her lord's domain and that of a rival, the Countess Riordan. The
Countess of Tamed Lightning is Sylvester's niece, January O'Leary, with whom he is normally in close contact, but he hasn't heard from her in weeks, his messages have gone unanswered, and he's worried.

What Toby finds is a terrible mystery almost beyond her abilities to solve. Something has been disrupting communications between Tamed Lightning and Sylvester's lands - January has heard nothing from him, received no messages, and suspects treachery. Worse, death is stalking Tamed Lightning's grounds. The County is anchored on January's computer programming company, and employees - all either pureblood fae or changelings - are being murdered. Worse, they have been killed in such a way that the night-haunts, fae responsible for removing the bodies of dead fae and replacing them with undetectable imitations that will pass as human to police, medical examiners and other humans who deal with the dead, refuse to take their bodies. And Toby, whose gifts involve the ability to read memories from blood, even the blood of the dead, can see nothing in the blood of these victims.

I'm coming to enjoy these urban fantasies. The complexity of mythologies, the intricacies of fae traditions and politics, and the dogged perseverance of Toby herself, who fights on against all odds, in a world where her changeling nature limits what she can do in either world, human or faerie, but manages, just barely, to do what has to be done.

Her victories often cone too hard, at too great a cost, and too late to be truly called successes, and that's a big part of what I like. She's a flawed hero who tries but fails as much as she succeeds - but still keeps trying.

[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Behold, the penultimate hotel window view for this tour! It’s also the view from the highest floor (I think). Hello, San Francisco.

Tonight! If you’re in Santa Cruz, come see Cory and me at the Santa Cruz High Theater at 7, sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz. It’ll be my first time in Santa Cruz ever. I’m very excited.

Tomorrow! Borderlands Books here in San Francisco! That’ll be at 6. Come see us there if you’re in the Bay Area.

It’s coming to a close, this tour. It’s been great so far, but I’ll be happy to be home soon.


Perseids Watch 2017

Apr. 26th, 2017 03:51 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


Come watch the Perseid Meteor shower in rural darkness near New Dundee. This year, the often spectacular Perseids peak from late Saturday, August 12 to early Sunday, August 13, which is to say “conveniently on the weekend instead of the middle of a work-week.”
Read more... )

Short Fiction: April 26 2017

Apr. 26th, 2017 12:10 pm
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[personal profile] bibliogramma


"After We Walked Away," Erica L. Satifka; Apex Magazine, November 21, 2016
http://www.apex-magazine.com/after-we-walked-away/

A literalised response to Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," this story follows two young people, man and woman, who left "The Solved City" - clearly based on Omelas - because they could not accept the violent magic on which the city is founded, that the deliberately caused unending suffering of just one child could produce a utopia for everyone else. They find our society, where almost everyone suffers, from systematic oppression and cruelty, and in different ways regret their decision. It's a strongly written and emotionally disturbing story, but it misses one very important thing. Le Guin's story is not about rejecting a utopia based on horror for some other existing world; Omelas is our society, or at least an an allegorical reference to it. Those who walk away are the rebels who reject our acquiescence in the very real cruelty and oppression in our world, the comforting lie that the poor will always be with us, with its corollary that therefore we need do nothing for them. They are the ones who would change the paradigm, who would give up their privilege to end the horror others experience.

It's a well-crafted and moving story, but at its heart it is dishonest in setting up a straw man to refute, and disingenuous in using that straw man to argue that the suffering of one is easier to accept than the suffering of many. I would rather remain with the vision given form by Le Guin, that there are those among us who realise that as long as one of us is chained, none of us is free.


"Crocodile Tears," Jaymee Goh; Lightspeed Magazine, September 2016
http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/crocodile-tears/

Goh here reworks a traditional folk tale of revenge. In Goh's version, a crocodile brings brings news to a successful man who has abandoned his family, telling him of the fates of his mother, his lover and the unborn child he left behind.


"That Game We Played During the War," Carrie Vaughn; tor.com, March 16, 2016
http://www.tor.com/2016/03/16/that-game-we-played-during-the-war/

A sparsely written but deeply moving story about war and what happens when war is over and two sides try to make a peace, summed up in the interactions between two veterans, one from each side. Calla is a military nurse; during the was it was her duty to keep Valk - a member of a telepathic race - and other prisoners of war under sedation to dull their abilities. Later in the war, fortunes have shifted and Calla is the prisoner, Valk her keeper. Remembering the games of chess he watched her play with he other staff, he asks her to teach him, and together they find a way to enjoy playing a game of strategy between one who reads minds and one who does not. When a peace finally comes, Valk, recovering from wounds in hospital, asks Cala to visit him and bring 'the game they played during the war.'

Working together on the game creates a bond that can become a bridge, a way of understanding and building a trust that may support the fragile peace. A story of hope, a microcosm of good will between people tired of war.


"Bargain," Sarah Gailey; Mothership Zeta, December 27, 2015
http://mothershipzeta.org/2015/12/27/bargain-by-sarah-gailey/#more-289

"Bargain" is 2017 Campbell Award finalist Sarah Gailey's first professional sale, and it is a fine story indeed, in which old woman offers her soul and her life to a demon in return for health and youth for her dying wife - with such will and love that even the demon looks for a way to subvert the nature of the deal. Told with a surprisingly appropriate light, even humorous touch, it left me with tears brimming in my eyes, and a goofy smile on my face.


"Of Blood and Bronze," Sarah Gailey; Devilfish Review, Issue 17
https://devilfishreview.com/issues/issue-seventeen/of-blood-and-bronze-by-sarah-gailey/

Framed as a steampunk fairy tale, this is haunting and horrifying story of the mechanisms of corruption, and the truth that the ends cannot justify the means because they are changed and tainted by them. An alchemist works a terrible magic to save the life of the innocent and good young bride of a mad old king, so that she may rule the kingdom until the heir comes of age, with the best of intentions, and the unhappiest of consequences.


"The Art of Space Travel," Nina Allen; Tor.com, July 27, 2016
http://www.tor.com/2016/07/27/the-art-of-space-travel/

Thirty years ago, the first mission to Mars ended in tragedy. The second mission is about to be launched, and two of the astronauts are scheduled to spend a night at the Edison Star hotel, where Emily Starr is head of housekeeping. Emily's mother Moolie, formerly a physicist, is mentally impaired and slowly dying as the result of forensic work she did on a plane downed by a dirty bomb. Sometimes she hints that Emily's father had some connection with space, perhaps even with the doomed Mars mission. The only physical link Emily has to her unknown father is a book, The Art of Space Travel, that Moolie says once belonged to him.

While this novelette has a sciencefictional setting, the real story is about daughters watching mothers age and become infirm, about children seeking, finding, and losing parents, about family and secrets and love, and about aspirations followed and aspirations left fallow. The Mars mission stands as a symbol of hope and persistence, but truly there are a hundred things that could have taken its place. Still, the implications of venturing into the unknown add to the poignancy of Moolie's terminal condition. A strong story about families and finding one's place and purpose, well written, but somewhat lacking in the 'what if' one looks for in science fiction.


"Jackalope Wives," Ursula Vernon; Apex Magazine, January 7, 2014
http://www.apex-magazine.com/jackalope-wives/

I read this because I knew I was going to read Vernon's "The Tomato Thief," which takes place in the same setting and shares a key character, and I wanted to know the backstory for that character.

Vernon's writing in this story is poetic and realistic by turns, which is appropriate considering it is a story about those who cross the boundaries of the magical and the mundane. There's wonderful sense of place - the southwestern American desert becomes a fairytale landscape where all sorts of magic are possible, and creatures out of myth are as real as the sun and the dry earth and the animals and plants that make a home there.

One one level, this is a story about making choices, and accepting consequences and shouldering responsibilities, and setting things right. But it's also a commentary on the way that men see women and assume that what they want, they can take - and how the consequences of that fall only on the women.

The key character, Grandma Harken, is a woman who has suffered a great loss at the hands and through the choices of a man, but has learned to accept what came from it, and make the best of her circumstances, and to come to terms with a changed life, making it her own. When given the choice between regaining what was lost, or saving another from the fate she accepted - a loss caused by another man, one she is kin to - she takes on the responsibility for setting right her grandson's wrongs. She is willing to make whatever sacrifice must be made - but though this is presented as a kind of pragmatic heroism, at the root of it, what she is doing is choosing once more to accept the consequences of a man and his unchecked desires.

The story bothers me. Its beautifully crafted, and the characters live and breathe just as the desert cones alive in the mind. It's a really good story. But It leaves me wondering how to respond to what it's saying. In a sense, it's about women who choose to live with the things men do, to clean up their messes and live with the consequences of them, because someone has to do the right thing, and the men in their lives certainly aren't going to do it. Are we to admire Grandma Harken, or pity her, or just to hope that someday men will stop taking from women - and the world around them - without thought for the consequences?


"The Tomato Thief," Ursula Vernon; Apex Magazine, January 5, 2016
http://www.apex-magazine.com/the-tomato-thief/

This novelette is a return to the magical fairytale desert Vernon created in "Jackalope Wives" and to its central character, the shapeshifter-become-human Grandma Harken, with her sense of responsibility and duty. There's a certain similarity of theme here as well, in that Grandma Harken finds herself - grumbling about her age and mortality but still shouldering responsibility for making things right - setting out to save a woman caught in a powerful spell by a man of power.

There are some marvelous touches to the story that show the desert magic as a growing, evolving thing, adapting to the changes forced on it by the encroachment of man. The building of trains to cross and divide the desert has brought about the existence of the train-gods, and fittingly, their priests are found among the descendants of those forced to work on the railroads for the benefit of men of power living in the industrial east, the children of Asian labourers and indentured European workers.

Grandma Harken needs the intervention of the train-gods to find the hiding place of the sorcerer, who has folded the land around himself - and when she enters his domain, she will need all her wisdom and cunning, and the allies she makes along the way, to set things right again, defeat the sorcerer, and undo the damage done to people, animals and land.

Again, I find myself loving the story, the words, the imagery, the worldbuilding, the characters, the skill that went into its creation, while being unsettled by the story's implications. The underlying politics - in the sense of power relations - are clear, as they were in Vernon's earlier story. It's a reflection of the politics of our own world. Men of power, rich men, white men, men who think they can take and use and make everything they want their own, do as they will, which mostly causes distortion and harm to the land, to the creatures of nature and to the people without power. And because someone has to do it, it's the ones who have suffered who do what they can to ameliorate the damage. It's accurate, but I think what bothers me is that as Vernon writes these tales, it's just the way it is. There's no sense that it's not just the actions of the powerful, but the basic underlying dynamic that makes the powerless responsible for the work of mitigating the wrongs of other, is in itself wrong. There's just Grandma Harken, and the train-god priests, and the little girl who will be Grandma Harken's apprentice, who heroically shoulder the burdens that belong to others.

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[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 I think I blasted this out on all my social media, but I failed to mention it here.... Mason's "Wind Energy Team" participated in the Minnesota Renewable Energy Challenge a few weeks ago, and their team qualified to go to the NATIONAL competition in Anaheim, California. This is a pretty cool deal.  Not only did these kids have to design and build a working windmill, but they also had to do an on-the-fly design and build challenge at the competition.  Mason reported to me that their on-the-fly windmill actually successfully picked up ALL the washers.

Go, SCIENCE!

These are our future engineers, my friends!

The only problem is that Washington Tech is not a rich school.  The kids are required to fundraise 100% of the travel expenses.  Added pressure is that the principal won't start the paperwork (which has a deadline of May 1) until they've raised a "significant" amount.  Thanks to a lot of big donations (that biggest one is from us, because Shawn and I decided that we would have otherwise funded Mason's travel, so we should just go ahead an donate what we would have paid), they're getting REAAAAAAALLLLLY close to halfway. I'm fairly certain that the principal would accept half as "significant," but we don't know.

Thing is, there's no need to break the bank.  Every little bit helps.  So, if you've got a spare dollar or five dollars for science these kids would really, really appreciate it.  

Even if you DON'T have a spare buck, you should check out their GoFundMe page, anyway, and watch the video to check out the cool stuff they're up to.  The narrator is Mason's friend Rosemary, and you can see Mason in several of the shots (hint: the white dude.)

https://www.gofundme.com/help-send-us-to-kidwind-nationals
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[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Down the JA Jance Ali Reynolds rabbit hole: Fatal Error (2011), Left for Dead (2012), Deadly Stakes (2013). I did start the novella A Last Goodbye, but am now holding off until I get to the right place in series internal chronology.

Alexis Hall, How to Bang a Billionaire (2017). This is a book that one would think had a lot of my NQOSD things all over it - at first glance it was the m/m version of 50 Shades, but I looked at the preview just to see, and okay, it still has a lot of things that are not my usual things, like it is All About The Relationship, at least so far there are no other stakes in place (but there is a sequel forthcoming), and the billionaire thing means a lot of plain practical difficulties do not operate. The title is a bit misleading, on account of the billionaire character is what in a woman would be considered pretty much stone butch - does but will not be touched or done to - it's more 'banged by the billionaire'. The narrator is a somewhat hapless and gauche, though at least not completely naive, gay guy just on the cusp of graduating from Oxford. The billionaire is pretty much on the Violet Winspear romantic hero template:

I get my heroes so that they're lean and hard muscled and mocking and sardonic and tough and tigerish and single, of course. Oh and they've got to be rich and then I make it that they're only cynical and smooth on the surface. But underneath they're well, you know, sort of lost and lonely. In need of love but, when roused, capable of breathtaking passion and potency. Most of my heroes, well all of them really, are like that. They frighten but fascinate.
But, dr rdrz, I could hardly put it down.

On the go

The end is almost in view with the Inchbald biography!

I am on the edge of my seat in re The Course of Honour

Up next

Well, the thing for review I intend to read on the train.

And new Sara Paretsky VI Warshawski!!!

(no subject)

Apr. 26th, 2017 09:12 am
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[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] ookpik!
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[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Comes Sandy one morn to say that The Fearsome Strand, that is my novel of wreckers and sea-monsters, does extreme well, and the publishers are exceeding anxious for anything else I might give 'em.

I sigh and say, 'tis gratifying, but has he had a chance to look over the plays I gave him?

Indeed, says he, as Celeste comes with coffee and shortbreads, and has already been see Mr J- with 'em. Likes 'em exceedingly – in particular the comedy, for hints most alluring at certain late scandals, without it could be suppos’d to refer to specifick persons. Also, there is Miss T-, that undertook Miss R-'s parts while she was unable to be about the business, comes on very promising, and with three fine parts for actresses, there will be no brangling amongst 'em.

I am pleas’d to hear it, says I, but I doubt not that Mr J- has suggestions for telling business that might be includ’d.

Why, says Sandy, taking a shortbread, I have a few notes to the purpose. But I think he may be dissuad’d from including a volcanick eruption in The Antiquarian’s Daughter.

La, says I, I may suppose he has late took on some fellow that manufactures spectacles -

Sandy remarks that he fears 'tis so, for Mr J- put out some feelers as to whether the esteem’d dramatist thought of turning The Fearsome Strand into a play?

I shudder and say, why, had consider’d upon it, but should shrink from matters of vulgar spectacle.

Sandy laughs and says, sure you are in accord with Mr P- for once, for he deplores that practice, as too oft employ’d to distract from the poorness of the play itself. And I myself am in some doubts as to whether brings about anything of enduring value to the drama.

We look at one another very amicable.

But, says Sandy, dear sibyl, you look a little troubl’d.

O, says I, 'tis entire foolish qualmishness about this dinner-party I go give, Lord and Lady T- and their gloomy son, and Sir B- and Susannah, with their house-guests.

Sandy winces and says, including Mrs D- K-, I apprehend. Sure will not be the jollyest of gatherings, but I daresay you have some strategy upon hand?

Why, says I, I am not sure I entirely have a strategy upon hand, but there are matters I hope observe; and sigh. Sure, says I, I can think of more congenial gatherings.

Come, dear C-, consider your soirées, that have brought together in harmony a deal of assort’d society.

La, says I, I would not answer for what might happen did Mr P- ever discover that Deacon Brodie was of the company.

Sandy laughs quite immoderate and says, naming of seconds, for a dawn meeting for the exchange of critickal opinions, at ten paces.

I am brought to laughter myself. My dear, says I, I am delight’d to see you in such restor’d spirits.

Why should not my spirits be lighten’d at receiving such kindness as I do not deserve? Has he not quite the noblest of hearts?

I look at him very fondly and say, harmony entire restor’d, then?

Sandy looks thoughtfull and says, somehow seems that the painfull breach has come to bring about a better understanding.

Long may it endure, says I.

But, dearest C-, I must be about my business: you may laugh when I tell you, Lord A- is mind’d to employ a secretary that may advize him upon such politickal matters as he is call’d upon to deal with in the Lords –

What? I cry.

- 'tis the influence of Mr O- B-, that he finds himself on excellent terms with, has contriv’d to bring him about to think upon his responsibilities and the condition of the nation &C.

I laugh a little, 'tis such a very unexpect’d conjunction of the fribble and the cotton manufacturer: but indeed I am pleas’d to hear it.

- so I go about certain of my acquaintance that might suit.

Why, I would not hinder you in such a task. Kindly leave Mr J-'s notes with me and I will address myself to the matter, ‘twill distract my mind from fretting.

But, alas, when I have done that, and set certain suggestions aside so I may think 'em over further, I am return’d to the frets, so I determine go take a little ride on Jezebel.

When I come to the stableyard I find Nick, Nell, and Sal, that is her sister that tends the mews cottage, that huddle together and I daresay are in concern over the matter of the sale of the livery-stable. They jump apart and Nell and Sal scurry off about their proper business. Nick goes fetch out Jezebel, that Ajax has been saddling &C.

'Tis another matter for me to go fret over as I ride.

But comes at last the time when my guests arrive, and sure 'tis ever pleasing to see Sir B- W- and dear Susannah, and Captain C- looks as tho’ having made his decision to sell out takes a deal of weight from his mind, and Mrs D- K- is looking in good taste. And Lord T- is ever amiable, and Lady T- makes exceeding civil to me, even if Lord K- is the same sad dull fellow, his eyes ever straying towards Mrs D- K-.

Timothy comes with some excellent fine wine - has acquir’d a deal of polish in the matter, I confide he took some lessoning at R- House in such duties – that most fortunate I had already in my cellar, for have been so busy since my return have had no opportunity to convoke with Mr H- concerning his friends of the Trade.

We exchange a little civil conversation – Lady T- wishes to know is there any lace made about Naples, for 'twas once most exceeding not’d for that art. Alas, says I, has declin’d from those days, there is indeed lace hawkt about but 'tis somewhat coarse. However, I go on, the Contessa di S- has some very fine antique lace that has been in her family this long while.

Susannah says, she is ever in the greatest admiration for Lady T-'s skill with the bobbins and the fine lace she makes. Alas, she goes on with a flourish of her lorgnette, I fancy I am too near-sight’d to be able to undertake anything of the like, even did my fingers have the skill.

Lady T- smiles a little and I see this prepossesses her with dear Susannah, that she has been like to suppose a sad bluestocking that rules her husband.

In due course comes Hector to inform us that dinner is serv’d, and we go into the new part of my house and my fine dining-room, and I look about it very pleas’d, for the furniture is all well-polisht and the table laid with my good china and my very fine wine-glasses, and there are candelabra with fine candles burning, and two epergnes that hold pickles and relishes and are deckt with flowers that were especial sent over from R- House.

'Twas no difficult matter to think who should take who in to dinner: Sir B- W- takes Lady T-, Lord K- takes Susannah, Captain C- arms in Mrs D- K-, and I, of course, am took in by Lord T-.

And Hector and Timothy come around laying the dishes that have come fresh and hot by means of that very excellent device from the kitchen beneath, and go round with wine, and I observe Lady T- look most approving at my dinner service. Euphemia has done most exceeding well and all except Lord K-, that looks sorrowfull at Mrs D- K-, look upon the first course with great pleasure.

I hear Sir B- W- offer to carve Lady T- some of this excellent beef, or perchance she would prefer duck, and here are some little new peas, and I see that she becomes amiable towards him. Susannah goes endeavour make conversation with Lord K-, that picks at his food as if fears might be poison’d.

Lord T- says 'tis pleasing to see me return’d to Town in such health, and hopes that the matters of my property at Naples are entire settl’d? – indeed, says I – and hopes they may see me at C- Castle this summer. We discourse a little of mutual acquaintance, and he remarks that Mr C- answers most excellent as secretary.

There is a pleasing little buzz of conversation tho’ one must observe that Lord K- does not say much.

At the remove and the bringing of the second course – Euphemia has contriv’d to obtain a very fine fresh salmon upon which all exclaim, and there is also the excellent early sparrowgrass – Lord K- is at last at liberty to speak to Mrs D- K-, that he does in somewhat of an undertone, waving away the while the offer of the very fine rice pillow with almonds and raisins. (Sir B- W- looks at me, and says, all the more for the rest of us.)

Lady T- goes converse with Captain C-, and very soon they determine upon some family connexion by way of Mrs Robert G-, and she displays a markt increase in civility towards him, and shortly he is telling her about his adventures at the Cape with his regiment, and later in Nova Scotia, and I see her eyes go to Lord K-, that leads such a dull life going about quacking himself for imaginary ailments, and I daresay she makes odorous caparisons.

The ice-pudding is most well-receiv’d, except by Lord K-, that says somewhat about the unwholesomeness of such things. He also eschews the very good cheese, that has been sent by Martha from the dairy on the Admiral’s estate.

At the proper moment I rise to withdraw the ladies to my parlour, so that Hector may bring out the port and brandy and cigars for the gentlemen.

There is tea and ratafia ready for us, along with some little macaroons, and we talk of various matters – what a shame 'twas I misst the M- House ball, 'twas an excellent occasion, but doubtless I saw a deal of society at Naples – until the gentlemen come in, that is not a long while at all.

Lord T-, Sir B- W- and Captain C- are conversing very amiable about Nova Scotia, but Lord K- has somewhat of a sulky look and goes with somewhat uncivil expedition to Mrs D- K-'s side.

I do not think he would drag her from her bed to kick her, but sure I am in some concern about how he would show as a husband.

China Mièville: This Census-Taker

Apr. 25th, 2017 08:32 pm
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[personal profile] bibliogramma

China Mièville's novella This Census-Taker is a collection of mysteries, memories half-remembered, truths half-told, stories layered one on the other that may or may not be about the same thing, by the same person.

There was a boy, who lived with his mother and father on the side of a mountain, just above the main part of a town that spread across two hills. The boy learned to read from his mother, and learned to fear his father. A boy who saw something so terrible his mind could not encompass it, his tongue could not communicate it, his fellow townspeople could not believe him when he tried to explain it.

Later there was a man who was either a prisoner or a guest, who had three books to write, one in figures, one in words, one in secret.

There was a census taker, who came to the boy's house, and spoke to his father, and then took the boy away to become a trainee. And before him, there was another trainee, who disappeared leaving only a warning for the boy who came after her, who became the man writing the books.

There are no answers to any if the questions, the mysteries, the disappearances. There is only memory of what was seen and heard, but never known and understood.

It is an unsettling story, full of implied violence and without anything that feels like an end. But it stays with you.

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[personal profile] bibliogramma

Kij Johnson's novella, "The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe" is in many ways a response to H. P. Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," in which the protagonist, a man named Raymond Carter, first sees a mysterious city in his dreams and then finds a way to transport himself to this dreamworld full of magical places and terrifying creatures, where he undertakes a journey to find the city of his visions.

Johnson has set her story in that dreamworld. Vellitt Boe, a professor at Ulthar Women's College, is awakened one night to learn that one of her finest students, Clarie Jurat, has eloped with a man from 'the waking world,' as the inhabitants of the Six Kingdoms of the dreamworld call our reality. Because she travelled extensively in her youth, and because she knew a man from the waking world once - a man who, it turns out, was Raymond Carter himself - and knows the location of one of the gates that allows people to travel physically between the worlds, Boe undertakes to follow Clarie and bring her back. The stakes are high - Clarie is the daughter of a high official of the College and a socially prominent society; the College, and higher education for women, is not universally supported, and if Clarie is not recovered, there is a good chance that the College will be closed because of its inability to protect its students from scandal and impropriety. But there is more. Boe discovers that Clarie is the granddaughter of a god, and that the petty politics of the gods of the dreamworld may result in the destruction of Ulthar itself, and perhaps other lands of the dreamworlds as well.

This story is both labour of love, and critique, of Lovecraft's novella. As Johnson notes in her brief acknowledgements, "I first read it at ten, thrilled and terrified, and uncomfortable with the racism but not yet aware that the total absence of women was also problematic. This story is my adult self returning to a thing I loved as a child and seeing whether I could make adult sense of it."

Where Lovecraft has a young male protagonist searching for a vision out of his dreams, Johnson gives us a middle-aged woman fulfilling her responsibilities to an institution that gave her position, place and standing in a world - as created by Lovecraft - without much room for women, and to her student.

In the end, both Boe and the dreamworlds are changed by her dream-quest and its resolution, in ways that subvert Lovecraft's sexist and elitist imaginings but hold onto the wonder.

So, farewell then...

Apr. 25th, 2017 07:05 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

#mylivejournal #lj18 #happybirthday

Haven't yet actually deleted my lj - there are still - probably less than a handful? - people posting there whom I read who haven't made the switch to DW - though I rescinded auto-payments back when the server move happened.

What cheered me about this was when I tried whether it would work in DW and previewed the post the misspelling of 'received' that showed up at the LJ is 18 page had been corrected. I was going to say something about it, I R pedant, but it seems I don't need to.

It's been a long time and I've made many friends, I've done things I wouldn't have done if I hadn't been on LJ and made those friends, it's a pity it had to end like this, even if my life has been predominantly at Dreamwidth since 2009, which is, in fact, for somewhat longer.

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[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 Under normal circumstances, in America, FB would be Facebook for a lot of people, right?  WELL... if you're a German pen pal (and trust me, if you are a German woman of a certain age, I think it's a fair guess to say that you either are, or have experimented with pen friending at some point in your life,) FB stands for Friendship Book.  

What is a friendship book?  It's... okay, it's usually handmade, here's a picture of one sent to me:


german friendship book

Inside the booklet are people's names and addresses. Some people handwrite their addresses, but others have address labels specially printed for FBs, which include a whole lot of mysterious acronyms.  "NPW" = New Pen Pal Wanted.  SNNP = "Sorry! No New Pen Pals!" (I'm considering keeping a list handy, because some of them are counterintuitive.)

Often people will include the various languages they could potentially correspond in, you might see "NPW in English, François,.." etc.

How you use this is kind of like a chain letter, only much less malevolent.  One person starts it (in the case of my example above someone has started it for someone else), and they send it on to one of their pen friends. That pen friend adds their name (and whatever notation they might like), and then they pass it on to one of their friends.  When the booklet is filled, it's returned to the original, initial address.  Sometimes these are used to actually gain new pen pals, but sometimes they're just sent off into the world to see how far they go before they come back.  There's apparently a whole subculture of FBs, which... weirdly, I am now part of, that include things called "decos" and "crams." In addition to the several books that have now been passed to me from German pen pals (this is REALLY a German thing,) I also received a Friendship Sheet

Here's another couple examples of what they can look like (sorry this is a little blurry.)

more FBs

If anyone out there wants to be part of this German pen palling thing, let me know. I should note that it's not unusual for people from other countries to have gotten roped into this.  The only thing they need to have had is a German pen pal.  I've seen names from Russia, Japan, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Austria, and I'm not the only US pen pal to have been part of one of these.  

It's a weird/cool thing. Feels very retro, very 1980s.  It's kind fun.

The Big Idea: Maurice Broaddus

Apr. 25th, 2017 02:45 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

April has been light on Big Idea posts because I’m on tour (don’t worry, May’s gonna be packed), but let’s make sure we don’t get through this last week of the month without a fine piece of work for you to consider. Today: Maurice Broaddus brings you all the details on his new novella Buffal0 Soldier, including who the work is a love letter for.

MAURICE BROADDUS:

My novella, Buffalo Soldier–in fact the entire saga of its hero, Desmond Coke–is essentially one long love letter to my mother.

Growing up, my mother would take any opportunity to regale us with stories from her homeland of Jamaica. ANY opportunity: during family meals, before bedtime, Saturday mornings, during our favorite television shows (not hers though: she had what could only be described as an unhealthy fascination with the show, Hee Haw). She spun all manner of duppy (ghost) stories, even a long running tale of the duppy that haunted our family (which, as it turned out, was the spirit of her grandmother looking out for us).

For some reason she still found it surprising that I grew up to be a writer.

One of the genres I fell in love with was steampunk. Yet many times whenever I read steampunk stories, with their Victorian ethos and imperialist bent, I usually ended up wondering where the black folks were. All of my steamfunk stories (a term for steampunk stories seen through an Afrocentric lens), beginning with “Pimp My Airship,” all take place in the same universe, one where America lost the Revolutionary War and remained a colony of Albion. And my stories follow what some of the black folks might be up to.

My mother has since retired to Jamaica. During one of her visits here, she began telling me about her trip to a part of the island, governed by the Maroon people, only open once a year to outsiders. The British weren’t able to conquer them, so they had agreed allow the Maroon to have a separate government, and the British would colonize the rest of the island. I grew fascinated with the idea of a Maroon-run Jamaica and started playing with the alt-history repercussions of them totally keeping the British out of Jamaica. Leaving the island in control of its resources, its culture, its wealth, and its technology.

Of course Jamaica would become a superpower. Because, well, that’s what my mom would want.

In this Jamaica, undercover agent, Desmond Coke, gets drawn into a web of political intrigue when he stumbles across a young boy, Lij Tafari. As it turns out, Lij is a clone of Haile Selassie, a messiah figure to the Rastafarians, who the government plans to raise as their puppet to control the people. Desmond frees the boy and goes on the run. This is where the story of Buffalo Soldier begins.

In Buffalo Soldier, Desmond Coke and Lij are chased through the nation state of Tejas and into the First Nations territory. As they hide from Jamaican intelligence, they are pursued by business and political interests. As they search for a place to call home, Desmond tells Lij stories. The heart of the novella is about the power of story and how it helps us create a sense of home wherever we go.

Plus shoot outs, giant robots, assassins, and sword fights because that’s what else my mom would want.

Well … probably.

—-

Buffalo Soldier: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.


Typo Hunt: Empire Games

Apr. 25th, 2017 11:12 am
[syndicated profile] charlie_stross_diary_feed

So it's that time in the book production cycle again, and in the next couple of weeks "Empire Games" is going to be finalized for paperback release this autumn. Which means it's my last chance to hunt down and fix any typos/errata in the hardback/initial ebook release.

Got any typos in "Empire Games" (not any other books, thanks!) that you've been saving up? If so, please tell me what it is in a comment below. If it's a hardback, please identify the page and line number it occurs on. If you're using an ebook, cut-and-paste about a line of text that includes the error (so I can search for it). Thanks!

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Sure there are a deal of matters I feel I must be about, having neglect’d 'em for so long. 'Tis a puzzle which of 'em I should be about first, yet there are some things may not be contriv’d entire immediate.

Altho’ Dorcas reports that matters go on well with Dolly Mutton’s establishment, and my darlings have ensur’d that there is no worry about funds I greatly desire go see Dolly and find out how she does and that all is well.

So I desire Docket to array me in such fashion as I may be taken for an Evangelickal lady that goes about Covent Garden in hope of saving souls, and have Ajax drop me from the carriage several streets distant, and walk to Dolly Mutton’s.

The coffee-house is doing fine business, with some several women about the place taking coffee and in some cases breakfast, and all look down at their plates or into their cups in order not to meet my eye for fear I will go about to start saving 'em. But Pussy comes out from behind the counter and comes make exceeding civil to be pickt up and made much of, and I observe they all relax a little at this sign of favour, for Pussy is a cat of very great discrimination that will not make pleasant to just any that comes into the place. So I stroke her in the fashion she likes and she purrs, and I ask has she been a naughty wanton puss lately, and tell her how her offspring do (sure Dandy and Pounce have only just ceas’d to give me the cut for abandoning 'em to the cruelty of the household for so long; 'tis a slander entire bely’d by how plump and sleek they are).

And as I go make amiable to Pussy, comes out Dolly Mutton with plates of ham and eggs for her customers. She gives me a broad smile and says that she is entire glad to see I am return’d from foreign parts - I daresay the patrons of the coffee-house take this as an allusion to missionary endeavours amongst the heathen - and I am welcome to go step into her parlour.

So I do so and a few moments late she comes in and says 'tis exceeding pleasant to see me in such fine health, for there was a deal of gossip and rumours that I had gone to Naples to dye. La, says I, I suppose I might have done had Vesuvius took a notion to erupt, but indeed 'twas entire sanitive.

She pours me out some coffee and says, she was like to think from what Matt told her that I was not in ill-health, but somewhat shaken in the spirits by some coarse fellow that try’d dig up scandal.

Indeed, says I, 'twas a very nasty business, but I am recover’d now and am able to bring you some funds and am in hopes of more, and I hope all goes well here?

Excellent fine, she says, they are quite full up except for the two little chambers she keeps for emergencies. And tho’ 'tis early yet, she goes consider over taking 'em to some seaside place in the summer, for they are a sufficient number that one would need be beforehand over reserving lodgings, even do they not go to any fashionable resort. And she hopes persuade Molly Binns to come with 'em, for 'tis not as tho’ there will be a great deal of business in hats at that time o’year.

She does well in the matter of hats, then?

Very well indeed, and there was one provid’d her with the means to rent a little shop, answers exceedingly – sure 'twas a good day for her when that dreadfull fellow Perkins gave her the go-by, even did she not think so when he did. And comes join Mrs Dorcas’s congregation and will sing hymns very lustyly.

Why, says I, I am very glad to hear it. And you are well?

She declares that praise God, she still has her health, and then asks how Josh does.

We part in excellent good feeling and satisfaction at the way the endeavour goes.

'Tis perchance a little less agreeable to go hold a drawing-room meeting for the fine work Abby and her husband and Ellie N- are about among the unfortunate convicts in New South Wales, for I daresay that a deal of ladies will come in order to scrutinize Lady B- very close to see whether rumour tells true. But does this work to the benefit of the undertaking, I will concede to be scrutiniz’d.

A deal of good things have been sent to be raffl’d, and I myself have give some pretty lava trinkets from Naples. Meg will play upon the piano, Mrs O- B- with Cissie and Dodo will sing - Charley, that is now Lady A-, I hear already goes about to provide the O- B-s with a grandchild so at present only performs a little at home at B- House. I shall read some suitable extracts from Abby’s latest letters, and Mrs Atkins at O- House has sent me copies of some very telling matter writ from her husband by Ellie N-'s hand, and I am in anticipation that I shall make a tidy sum for the convicts.

There is also an excellent fine spread of sandwiches, savoury patties, cakes and tarts prepar’d by Euphemia, or more like by Celeste under Euphemia’s orders.

I go fidget about the reception room, rearranging the articles for raffle, &C, until Hector shows in my dearest wild girl Eliza with Bess and Meg, follow’d by Mrs O- B- with Cissie and Dodo. She looks at me and says, she hears 'twas in fact some little matter of business to do with my properties at Naples?

La, says I, sometimes naught will avail but to go out there and see what’s ado and deal with it in person: sure I was a little troubl’d at the matter, for 'tis a terrible place for bribery and corruption, but there is a very good notaio - that is, a man of law – understands the intricacies of the legalities of the business, that serv’d the late Marquess.

Cissie says, are there not banditti? they lately read a most thrilling novel –

I laugh gently and say, sure I think some of the lawyers in the place are worse than banditti, but we rout’d 'em. I add that 'twas a great advantage to have the counsel of the Contessa, and of course she is of great renown in those parts, weigh’d the scales in our favour.

Mrs O- B- nods and says, must make a difference, and goes on to tell me about some matter of business Mr O- B- was oblig’d to undertake abroad.

I am quite astonisht to see that Lady J- has come with Viola, attend’d by Lady D-, that indeed merits the description of pretty little dumpling, and I most immediate go desire her to be seat’d. She smiles and says, she hears I left her dear spouse entirely in health?

Quite entirely, says I.

She smiles and looks down at her belly, that shows the results of their conjugal endeavours.

And I daresay, says I to Viola, that you too should sit down? She smiles and says, apart from a little queasyness of the morn, is as well as ever was at present.

I then turn to Lady D-, and say I am delight’d to see her in such good health, and how is little Arthur? – o, she says, a bouncing fellow that can almost stand now – and Lord D-? - Excellent well, she says – and Lady Rosamund? – very well, she says, but I think she does not find her sister-in-law congenial. I also ask have they lately heard from her sister, and am oblig’d to listen to a deal about their travels.

A little flurry of company arrives, including Mrs D- that is the mother of Danvers D-, Lady G- with her goddaughter the Honble Frances C-, Mrs L- J-, Mrs P- and Miss W-, Mrs V-, Lady Z-, Susannah, and a deal of other ladies. All are making their greetings to one another and finding seats as comes in the party from O- House, Nan, Em and little Lou, along with a lady I do not know.

I go over and desire Nan to be seat’d at once – she smiles and says, sure she finds she needs a deal of rest - and Em goes introduce me to Hester’s Cousin Lalage, that is not the drab spinster I had anticipat’d. I doubt that she can yet have quite attain’d the age of thirty, altho’ dresses like one that has put on her cap and retir’d from thoughts of courtship. But I am prepossesst by her dress, that is by no means so provincial as I would have suppos’d, tho’ 'tis in subdu’d colours and might be took for half-mourning. Also has very fine eyes. She declares that this is an entire treat, what a fine house, and she hears we are to hear some excellent musick.

Lou has rusht over to go sit with Bess and Dodo, but I go settle the other ladies of the party, ask Nan should she desire a footstool, &C.

I am just looking about the room and determining that all must be arriv’d by now and 'tis nigh upon time to commence the proceedings, when the door opens and Lady I- is shown in.

Sure, I sent her a card in order to show civil, as I heard that they were in Town, but did not at all expect that she would come. I go over to greet her, and she says, has brought a bundle of baby-clothes for the raffle, 'tis shamefull little but ‘twas all she had at hand.

I go show her to a chair, and hand the bundle to Bess, desiring her to make out a ticket for it, and go stand at the front of the room to say why we are here and what an excellent good cause we provide for. I say somewhat of the entertainment, and the fine things that have been give for the raffle, and then look over to Meg, that goes seat herself at the pianoforte, with Dodo to turn her musick for her.

And sure, I think it goes.

Checking In on Monday

Apr. 25th, 2017 12:26 am
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

O hai, Whatever readers! Here’s me and Cory Doctorow just hanging out, as we do.

For those of you in the LA area, remember that he and I are going to be a Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena tomorrow at 7pm, talking about our new books and life, the universe, and everything. And then on Wednesday, we’ll do it again at Bookshop Santa Cruz! And then on Thursday, we’ll do it YET AGAIN at Borderlands books in San Francisco! We got a thing going, is what I’m saying, and you can be part of it, if you want.

Otherwise: Hey, how’s it going?


Aliya Whiteley: Brushwork

Apr. 24th, 2017 08:45 pm
bibliogramma: (Default)
[personal profile] bibliogramma


Brushwork, by Aliya Whiteley, is a novella set in a dystopic, climate-changed future where real food, grown in biodomes and greenhouses, is a luxury for the rich and a target for agro-terrorism.

Mel - so called because her production area is the melon section - is one of the workers at a BlossomFarms facility. Like many of the workers, she has lived in the domes for years, sleeping in dormitories, eating synthetic food, never tasting the fruits she grows for the conglomerate's wealthy customers. When agro-terrorists break into the biodome, taking the facilities hostage in the name of the people who have never tasted fruit, everything changes - except the fact that workers remain workers, and no matter who is in charge, the hierarchy never changes until the workers themselves decide what is important to them.

One thing in particular that I enjoyed about this was the age of the protagonist and her co-workers, and the acknowledgement of generational issues we see around us in the world today - older people who did everything they were supposed to do, and feel betrayed without knowing who to blame. And the youth, knowing they will not have what they think was the birthright of their parents and grandparents. Both betrayed by the wealthy and powerful, but somehow blaming each other instead.


Note: Brushwork can be found online at Giganotosaurus:
http://giganotosaurus.org/2016/05/01/brushwork/

Anthology: Heiresses of Russ 2015

Apr. 24th, 2017 06:45 pm
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[personal profile] bibliogramma


Heiresses of Russ 2015, edited by Jean Roberta and Steve Berman, collects some of the best "lesbian-flavoured" speculative short fiction from 2014. I've been reading these anthologies for several years now, and enjoying them for their woman-centred stories and queer imaginings.

While it's often true that there is some unevenness in a collection of short fiction, I found the stories in this year's anthology to be pretty much all of notable quality. But even in such a collection, there were some truly stand-out pieces for me, among them Ruthanna Emrys' "Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land," Ken Liu's "Knotting Grass, Holding Ring," and Susan Jane Bigelow's "Sarah's Child."



*This anthology contains 14 short stories, 10 written by women, 3 written by men and one written by a genderqueer person.

The agreeable and the weird

Apr. 24th, 2017 06:50 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Dept of Serendipity: discovered that I had already ironed in my last massive ironing session the two tops one or other of which I intend wearing for giving a paper later this week.

Also, in Dept of Things I Should Have Remembered: the existence of an article I did c. 20 years ago bits of which I can reasonably recycle for A Thing I have been asked to do in a couple of weeks. However, the other paper of a similar era that I am similarly cannibalising had, once upon a time, a very fine set of slides to go with it. Not all of those images are now readily available for insertion into my Powerpoint, maybe I should have done the 'convert my slides' thing when I had the relevant hard- and software.

Dept of, Still Got It: 'We have the reader’s reports back... and your essay was summed up as ‘an excellent contribution’'. Though it then occurs to me that the essay in question is but the latest iteration of a paper that goes back a fairly long way.

Dept of, Oddness of People: The former inhabitants of the lower flat moved quite some months ago (didn't leave us a forwarding address). We are still getting post addressed to them, though I think it must be just about within the period for which the Post Office would be undertaking routine redirection, if such had been requested. While a lot of it is junk mail and catalogues that people might not bother updating on new address, I have become a bit perturbed by, firstly, notifications from dentists and opticians concerning coming up of next appointment due dates, and secondly, even more so by a package that I took to be the next X months' supply of disposable contact lenses. WTF?

bibliogramma: (Default)
[personal profile] bibliogramma


Penric and the Shaman is the second novella in Lois McMaster Bujold's world of Five Gods subseries about the young demon-ridden divine. Several years have passed since Penric acquired the demon he calls Desdemona, and he has learned to work with both the altered perceptions and powers she gives him, and the personalities and memories of her ten previous hosts. He has come into his own as a sorcerer and a scholar, and has learned much about the nature of being a priest - and a priest of the trickster Bastard god at that.

All three aspects of his vocation are tested in this adventure. He is called on to assist Oswylt, a Locator of the Order of the Father, in his pursuit of a suspected murderer. The complication in this pursuit, which makes the presence of a demon-possessed sorcerer necessary, is that the suspect is a shaman, a practitioner of wild earth magic, who is himself possessed by the spirit of a Great Beast, and this possession gives him powers that can only be countered by a sorcerer's demon.

The pursuit of and eventual confrontation with the shaman Inglis is a test of Penric's abilities as sorcerer, scholar and priest - and it is also a fascinating exploration of the nature of the wild magic first seen in the novel The Hallowed Hunt, and how it relates to the religion of the Five Gods that has been so much a part of the other works set in this world.

The novella offers much - fine storytelling, growth and development of a character with great promise for many more stories, and a large amount of worldbuilding seamlessly integrated onto the story.

I've become quite fond of Penric and Desdemona, and am looking forward to reading about their further adventures.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

'Twas somewhat of a vain hope to suppose that a little more calm would reign in the household after the theatre excursion had took place. For Polly and Nell have fallen quite in love with Mr J- and will ever be chattering about him, plotting upon further excursions to the theatre &C. But aside from that, no sooner is this much anticipat’d treat over, than the nuptials of Tibby and Titus are upon us. Sure indeed I am not mistress in my own household, for 'twill be entire impossible to undertake anything in the way of a drawing-room meeting until the matter is over.

Dear Viola comes call one morn, and I go show off my fine library to her, at which she declares herself exceeding impresst. Why, she cries, do I not observe the plays of Wycherley, that I had some desire to look into a while ago? and goes take the volume from the shelf.

O, she says, 'tis from the M- library –

I say, very demure, that she will mind that the Old Duke waxt exceeding generous over my not making a fuss when he dispatcht his heir to serve his country in the Diplomatick at Constantinople, and was kind enough to present me with that volume. (I do not go recount how I would read certain scenes to him in bed.)

But, she says, putting the volume by with a longing glance, I did not come here to discourse of the drama of earlyer times – perchance upon some other occasion – 'tis this matter of Tibby’s marriage. Should wish to demonstrate the great esteem in which we hold her, but should not like to cause awkwardness among the gather’d company that come celebrate the couple, and create a constraint.

I go think upon this and say, 'twould look exceeding well did you attend the ceremony, and might hinder the officiating parson from rattling off the service entire by rote as they are wont to do. And then, did you come to the breakfast just long enough to drink a health to the couple, 'twould be a mark of civility.

She smiles and says, she confid’d that dear C- would know what would be in good ton. And perchance send some wine from the M- House cellars?

Entire well, says I. And you find Jennie answers?

O, excellent well! Of course, I shall always be quite especial fond of Tibby and is there any service we may do her or Titus will be extreme happy to do it.

I say 'tis entire understandable, and ask how the rest of her family do.

Why, she says, Biffle is exceeding well, and goes about very busy at this time of year. Essie is learning his letters and numbers alongside Julius at R- House, what an excellent thing it is, what a fine governess is Mrs L-. Cathy is a fine bouncing girl, has made her curtesy in the R- House nursery set. Lady J- minds that she should rest and the auguries are promising, and – she casts down her eyes with a little smile – I am myself in some hopes that –

My dear Viola, says I, that is delightfull to hear. And how does Martha?

Why, a deal better than we fear’d, keeps in good health and of course Jacob is very carefull to ensure she does not overdo. And Sebastian will shortly be going to the Baltic.

Why, says I, I am pleas’d to hear that you all thrive. I saw a little of the Admiral in Naples, and he was in fine spirits.

The dear good fellow, says Viola. O, and while we are in convockation, what is this new freak of Lady Emily’s to go keep house for her brothers? Sure shows a pretty familial spirit, but 'tis somewhat of a new departure.

La, says I, do they not all go become a deal steadyer lately? She sees her elder sister take up her duties as Lady O-, and Lady Louisa attending to her lessons –

Hmm, says Viola, I fear she goes seek distraction from having her feelings wound’d by that minx Lady Rosamund. I daresay, she goes on, there are those consider that an Earl’s daughter must be in exceeding good ton by nature, but I confide that in any of lesser rank her conduct would be deem’d vulgarity. When I think that I was bother’d as to whether Rebecca G- or Julia P- would be up to the mark! – excellent well-conduct’d creatures.

Tho’, she goes on, perchance with Lady Emily 'tis a stratagem so that she may defer the prospect of marriage under guise of family duty. For indeed I do not see her incline to any suitor at present and sure, a young lady should not be oblig’d to marry just so that she may say she was askt and so that people will not go about saying she hangs upon the family’s hands.

For, she goes on, I have been most exceeding fortunate in my matrimonial venture, and when I think what a very foolish young creature I was when first introduc’d into Society, and what irreparable errours I might have made – is’t not quite widely deplor’d that the present Marquess of B-'s wife may not obtain release from a lunatick that endeavour’d commit bigamy and try’d murder her? – sure I thank heaven fasting.

I smile at her. Why, says I, I think the good fortune goes both ways.

She blushes. But, she says, dear C-, I am sure you have a deal of matters upon hand – and have you had opportunity to write any tales? Martha was asking only lately whether there was anything new from your pen.

Indeed, says I, have been about fair-copying for the printer, and meditate upon a new novel. Perchance I may beg opportunity to come look in the M- House Library, for was not one of the former Dukes very not’d for his studies in history?

She declares that I should be entire welcome, and we part with great affection and good feeling.

But indeed, I cannot go about this matter until the wedding be done, for I am not in that calm that favours study tho’ I find myself able to go about fair-copying.

But comes around the day, when Sophy brings my chocolate along with exhortations not to rise just yet, for Celeste will bring me a nice little breakfast upon a tray so I may take it peacefull in bed. I confide that this is entirely to keep me from underfoot, and so that Docket and Sophy may go array Tibby along with Prue and Celeste, that will attend her to the altar, afore they come dress me.

And when I come to be dresst, that is in a fashion that will display my consequence and be a compliment to the couple, without I distract attention from the bride, Docket says, she confides that I should wear my fine cashmere shawl, for strikes cold in churches when 'tis not a full congregation.

'Tis so, says I, as I rub my face against it and think of dear General Y- that gave it me.

But in due course I set off for the church, and smile a little as I wonder has any gone convey advice upon the wedding night to Tibby or Titus, that I confide are no novices in the business of conjugal embraces. Euphemia I daresay is well-appriz’d of how matters stand but I am not so certain about Hector.

Come we to the church, and outside is one of the M- House carriages, that Viola has plac’d at Tibby’s disposal for the occasion.

And I go into the church, and go sit beside Viola, and look about me. Jennie sits with Docket and Sophy and Euphemia has conced’d leave the kitchen under Seraphine’s hand so she may come see Tibby wed, and there are some of Tibby’s family, tho’ will be more at the breakfast. Titus stands flankt by Hector, that is his best man, looking far more nervous than I have ever observ’d him about performing.

There is a little pause, and then comes Tibby, that might be the Queen of Sheba in her progress.

And observing that there are persons of quality in the assembl’d congregation, the parson goes perform the service in a fine reverent fashion, 'tis very pleasing.

Tho’ I am brought to muse upon the fine mutual aid and comfort that may be found between those that have not been to church and had the words said over 'em, and, indeed, may not go to church and take those vows however much they might desire to. And that there are those that have made those vows for better or for worse &C and do not adhere to 'em, or only very grudging (I consider upon poor Hester’s fate marry’d to Lord N-). And that altho’ the husband declares with all my worldly goods I thee endow, unless a lady has very prudent advizers and lawyers, he may go make free with her worldly goods and leave her entire destitute (like that scoundrel Mr O’C-).

But sure I have no doubts about the sincerity with which Titus and Tibby take the vows: and, I think no harm and a deal of benefit that they have already try’d their affection and do not rush into marriage pell-mell in order to gratify passing lust. Indeed, was I to celebrate marriages in the name of Aphrodite, I would make this a condition.

I smile a little to myself at what a foolish C- am I. For 'twould preclude such a marriage as I had with the late dear Marquess: tho’, thinks I, under the rites of Aphrodite there would be no need for such prudential unions, for all might wed where they lov’d.

I may put a deal of horrid matter in my tales but I confide did I indite any concerning such a happy state 'twould be deem’d entire shocking and immoral and very like burnt by the common hangman. I sigh.

Viola takes and squeezes my hand: I daresay she supposes that I fall into melancholy thoughts of my late husband.

After the ceremony is conclud’d and Titus and Tibby are now one flesh, we proceed back to my house where a merry crowd has already assembl’d to greet the couple.

Viola makes a very pretty speech and drinks to the happy couple, and then departs, not, I am like to think, without a little regret.

There is great conviviality, some fine singing from Mr G- D- and Miss McK-, excellent fine food and wine, and at length Tibby and Titus leave for a brief wedding jaunt to Brighton.

Seanan McGuire: Rosemary and Rue

Apr. 24th, 2017 12:20 am
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Rosemary and Rue, the first of Seanan McGuire's October Daye urban fantasy novels, starts off in a manner most uncharacteristic of the genre. Toby Daye, private investigator and half-fae changling, is tailing a fae lord suspected of kidnapping his brother's wife and daughter when she is caught and transformed into a koi. She spends the next 14 years swimming in a pond, her selfhood submerged in the limited mind of a fish.

Unlike many urban fantasy protagonists, Toby Daye doesn't always get away safely. That was the first thing that caught my attention and made me think this might be a cut above the masses of urban fantasy series on the market these days. Then there was the fact that rather than bouncing back ready to avenge her losses - years of her life, a relationship with a lover and a child who believe she abandoned them and want nothing to do with her, a sidhe mother who was slowly losing her mind when the transformation took place and is beyond reach by the time Toby breaks free of enchantment - she withdraws, repudiates everything of her former life, shows all the signs of PTSD you would expect from such an assault, such losses.

And then one of the Sidhe nobility, Evelyn Winters, also known as Evening Winterrose, Countess of Goldengreen someone Toby has known all her life, is murdered by cold iron, and her last act is to bind Toby with an ancient curse to stop at nothing to find her murderer.

The complexity of October Daye's world, encompassing faerie beings from multiple cultures, changelings, kingdoms anchored to the world but not wholly in it, and the politics of all these levels is fascinating, and watching Toby navigate all these realms - while still living in the world and dealing with jobs and rent and the human relationships severed when she was imprisoned in the body of a fish - is enough to engage the reader's interest. Add in the mystery of Evening's murder and the twists and turns of Toby's investigation, and you have a roaring good read.

Kai Ashante Wilson: A Taste of Honey

Apr. 23rd, 2017 06:39 pm
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[personal profile] bibliogramma

Kai Ashante Wilson's novella A Taste of Honey is a bittersweet story of love and loss, of sacrifices made for love, and the eternal question of what might have been.

Aqib bmg Sidiqi is a member of the minor royalty of
Great Olorum, is in training to follow his father as the Keeper of the Royal Menagerie. His family has great hopes for him, that he will marry well and raise their status, thus improving his warrior brother's chances of promotion and his scholarly sister's chances of making a good marriage herself.

But Aqib places all this at risk when he becomes the lover of Lucrio, a soldier with the diplomatic delegation from Daluça. In Olorum, sexual relationships between men are taboo and the penalty is death. Lucrio and Aqib fall passionately in love, just ten days before the delegation is due to leave.

The story unfolds in two times, the events of each night of their relationship interwoven with scenes from Aqib's future after Lucrio is gone, his marriage with a highborn royal woman, the childhood of their daughter Lucretia, his career with the Menagerie, all the things that he would have lost had he left Olorum to be with Lucrio.

But Wilson is not content with giving us just such a straightforward story, and nothing more, and in the end takes us much deeper into the realm of duty, sacrifice and love to an unexpected but satisfying conclusion. Beautifully and evocatively written.

Culinary

Apr. 23rd, 2017 08:20 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

During the week, a loaf of Khorasan (kamut) flour.

Got in too late on Friday evening to make rolls for Saturday breakfast, so we had toast instead.

Today's lunch: fillets of lemon sole clear-simmered and served with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and ginger paste (these were a little bland and mushy. which may be because previously frozen, rather than fresh?); served with sticky rice with lime leaves, samphire steamed and tossed in butter, sugar snap peas roasted in pumpkin seed oil and splashed with bramble vinegar, and padron peppers (which Waitrose now stock, apparently).

Probably bread-baking during the week.

Seanan McGuire: Every Heart a Doorway

Apr. 23rd, 2017 11:56 am
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Seanan McGuire's novella Every Heart a Doorway is a portal fantasy with a difference - it's about what life is like for those who cross into another world after the portal travelling is done, after the strange world beyond the magic door has changed their hearts and souls and then sent them back.

Eleanor West knows what it feels like to find your true home on the other side of the magic mirror, or at the bottom of the rabbit-hole. As a child, she wandered into another world not once but several times. Now a middle-aged woman, she runs a 'home for wayward children' - mostly girls - who have gone through a portal and returned, but can not move on. Most have been sent to Eleanor by their parents, who don't understand what their children have experienced, or why and how they have been changed. They want their children back as they were, and Eleanor tells them she can help them. But her real intention is to help the travellers accept that their portals are closed, that there is little chance of their ever opening again, and how to live in the mundane world with the knowledge of where they have been.

Nancy is one of these wayward girls. She has spent years of subjective time in a world she calls the Halls of the Dead, learning to be silent, motionless, a statue in black and white, until the Lord of the Dead sent her back. Her parents believe her to be the victim of a kidnapping, and send her to Eleanor West, to be healed. At first she is confused by the others she meets, all changed in different ways by the different worlds they have been to. She learns how the portal worlds are classified, of the axes of Logic and Nonsense, Virtue and Wickedness. And she begins to form wary relationships with some of the others. Kade, a trans boy cast out of the world he loved because it, like the mundane world, could not accept his gender. Her roommate Sumi, a noisy, colourful girl who is never still. Jack and Jill (identical twins Jacqueline and Jillian) who have been to a world of mad scientists and vampires.

When murder strikes, Nancy, and some of the other children whose portal worlds dealt with death, attempt to unravel the mystery before the authorities have cause to shut down the school.

Every Heart a Doorway is a strange and compelling tale, balanced between fantasy and horror, about difference and what people will do to find a place they can call home.

Four years ago today

Apr. 23rd, 2017 10:35 am
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A very thin, very dirty stray cat turned up at Jasmine's condo complex, asking for food and shelter.

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