wood cat


incidents and accidents, hints and allegations

in which I write someone else's poetry
ellen_kushner wrote on Facebook: "Don't slow things down with explanations now."
-- line from a sonnet? or just good advice as I draft the opening chapters of my new novel proposal? #amwriting #amsharing #process

I didn’t write a sonnet but I did write a poem.

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Ben Hur Slash Casting
So apparently they're going to remake Ben Hur.  I Looooove Ben Hur and I think a reboot would be fun as long as they keep the Messala is Gay For Ben Hur plot, which is the best thing about the movie.
Who should be cast in this glorious remake?

A Brief Note from the Keeper of the Unified Family Calendar
(That would be me.)

If you make an appointment, or in any way need to save a date, do not simply mention it to me in passing and expect me to remember to add it to the calendar the next time I'm at my computer.

Because maybe I'll remember it, and maybe I won't.

Give it to me in written form. On a piece of paper, if that's what you've got handy. Or in an e-mail, which would be even better. But if it isn't written down somewhere, it isn't real.

Got that?


Half the battle, or Why James Began Hearing Sad Cat Meows
Ibid has worked out how to get up to the top shelf of the book case in my bedroom and from there to the top of the door, just as Fig did months ago.

What he can't do is get back down....

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

someday when my heart exhales
1) Got the second version of the TAF cover done and have submitted it for review. *crosses fingers* If it turns out okay I will be able to tell without a paper proof, so I can go right ahead then with uploading the ebook versions and have it all done by the weekend! *crosses legs, arms, and anything else that can be crossed*

2) The cold made me lethargic and snuffly over the weekend (and too tired to go out to see Captain America 2) but I'm on the mend now. Despite planting seeds in the rain yesterday after four hours of oh god why am I in charge here. It's really nice to be alone in a big garden planting seeds, even if it is raining.

3) I may, however, die at the hands of Person of Interest sometime in the next few weeks. If this three-part finale is good it'll be really good, in the painful way, and if it's not, it'll be painfully disappointing. *goes back to crossing things*

4) Other shows also good (not caught up yet on Elementary, but really enjoying season 2; marveling at how fine a show full of corpses in horses (and Jeremy Davies, yes!) and food-related insinuation can be; laughing at how much fun the 70s episode of Castle must have been to film; haven't seen latest Good Wife yet, but appreciating thoroughly how well they are handling this sequence of episodes after [spoiler]).

5) I am reminded that I have a Trope Bingo card and haven't written any fanfic in ages, and don't really feel like writing any, but maybe after the book is out I'll manage to at least get started on a bingo? Can't really write anything POI until the season is over, unless it's looking back. I have glanced at my Vorkosigan WIPs and nothing is leaping out at me. Perhaps something else will inspire.

6) What I really want to have time for is getting started on Book Five. It's beginning to feel ripe, in the way that pears don't.

7) However. *goes back to powerpointing*

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Sleep fail
I went to bed early last night (10 pm) so I could catch up on sleep.  Then I woke up at 2 am and had monkey-mind until 4 am. I could have just stayed up playing Tomb Raider til midnight, damnit. 

My tweets
  • Tue, 15:01: More Than 40 People Were Shot In Chicago Over Easter Weekend And The Feds Are Stepping In http://t.co/s5vShd0AxO via @HuffPostCrime
  • Wed, 10:56: Re: Jamie/Cersei/GOT, I for one am glad to see sibling incest depicted for once as the screwed-up abusive horror that it is. +
  • Wed, 11:01: + What Jamie and Cersei had before this moment was always totally dysfunctional. Incest is no more romantic than rape or DV, in my opinion.

The context is this is by the organization that currently enjoys a near-monopoly on beer sales

Under Ontario's Liquor Control Act, Brewers Retail is the only retailer permitted to sell beer for off-site consumption, except for stores on the site of a brewery, locations of the provincial government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), and LCBO-authorized agency stores in certain smaller communities.[...] The act and the company's articles of incorporation further stipulate that Brewers Retail cannot sell "hard liquor" (spirits), or consumer goods (like groceries).

Reaction has not been 100% favourable.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

Slow Clap

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A slow loris being brushed

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(no subject)

It was under the golden leaves of MDRF's Revel Grove six months ago that I was gifted the privilege of the love of m'Lady Elspeth of Myrkfaelinn. And the following seasons have been the happiest of a very happy life.

The brutal demands of the 3rd and 4th year of medical school kept me largely absent from my dear friends in Cynnabar, when I went through them myself years ago. Right now, it's Elspeth's turn. We today largely spend our weekends together working and studying.

But someday, the call nights and board exams will begin to lighten. And we'll have more time to share and revel and Dream, with Rennie / SCADian / geek friends all across the Knowne World.

Here's to the that future, my friends. A toast to each and every one of you over the last fifteen years who have shared this marvelous, marvelous geek / SCAdian / Rennie journey with me - with us; and with whom we will share revels to come.

And here's to that future, my dearest Love.

between the cracks and hollows, the earth is good
Busy busy busy busy busy.

redbird's weekend visit was lovely, in a low energy sort of way with much Scrabble and quiet companionship and also wandering around the Botanical Gardens yesterday, despite my back acting up some. This week's plans include the third season of Slings and Arrows and general pausing for breath, as it looks like the kitchen-fixing person will be here the following week. (Starting at 0700 each day. I sigh dramatically.) Train ticket for NY purchased. Planning mail to Uncle J sent. (My brother fomorian was involved in the 1000th anniversary Battle of Clontarf re-enactment/celebration on Friday and it would appear such of my family as were there had a great time.)

My tweets

What are the Hugo rules
regarding new editions of old books?

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The soldier
In the Times there is an article about Emma Edmonds, who fought for two years as a soldier in the Civil War, dressed as a man.

As it happens, today is also the launch of P.G. Nagle's A Call to Arms, a novel based on Emma's experiences. I started reading it, and found myself seriously sucked in. Nagle not only nails the period, she convincingly evokes the sensibility of a woman of that time, but one who has chosen to step outside certain of society's supposedly iron rules while being faithful to others.

"It would not be logical"
Recently I read yet another book where the character I most identify with ended up sad and alone after the death of her beloved partner. Reader, I am fucking done with these books. DONE. Done done done.

If you nodded along to Ferrett's post about how the "logic" underpinning all-white and all-male award nomination lists is suspect, then nod along to this. Every time a lesbian dies, every time a wife is widowed, every time a mother grieves the death of her child, every time rape is used to define a woman's character, it serves the story that the author wanted to tell--the story the author chose to tell. And I am no longer content with "it makes sense in the context of the story" as an explanation or an excuse. That "logic" is just as suspect.


Tell stories where it doesn't make sense for her husband or wife to die. Tell stories where her child dying is unfathomable. Tell stories where women live happy fulfilling lives. Tell stories where women find love and don't lose it again. Tell stories where women and their bodies aren't treated like objects.

Tell stories where women are happy, where a woman's happiness makes sense in the context of the story, where a woman's happiness serves the story, where a woman's happiness is integral to the plot. Tell stories where women's hearts and minds and bodies and families and vocations are healthy, and treated with respect by other people.

Tell stories where women are happy.

This should not be such an outrageous suggestion. But take a look at recent SF/F, at the books that get awards, at the books that get talked about, and it is entirely and utterly radical.

Tell stories where women are happy. I dare you. And I'm begging you, please. I can't handle any more unhappy women. I can't. It's why I read romance more than SF/F these days. I don't identify as a woman anymore, but that doesn't stop me from identifying with women, and they are all so sad and I can't do it. Stop showing me how tough and realistic your grimdark is by making the women as miserable as the men. Stop showing me how exciting and dangerous your space adventure is by putting the women through as many trials as the men. I believe you, okay? It's tough and realistic, it's exciting and dangerous, I believe you, you can stop now.

It will be hard the first few times, because it's so alien, this notion of women's happiness. But you'll get used to it, once you can adjust your ideas of what's "logical".

Tell stories where women are happy. Go on. Give it a try.

You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.

I dropped off again
ILLITERAL is not even in it; but I could still be writing more regularly here if I committed to the discipline I once did---once a day, before noon, something, anything. My daily updates are now in Google+, such as they are (hint: "daily" is a misnomer there too). But I could at least mirror things from there when I occasionally write something worth preserving in longer format, such as commentary about the classes I'm taking, or whatnot.

But I'm reading, in DW and in LJ, even if I'm not always commenting. I should write, too.

Crossposted from silmaril.dreamwidth.org. You can comment here or there.

The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein

(Picture is a link)

In what fellow FASS member Mark Jackson-Brown charmingly refers to as "the Before Times [1]", book distribution in Ontario was pretty patchy and while I remember that word of mouth on rec.arts.sf-lovers was very positive about The Steerswoman, I didn't manage to find a copy of it for my own until 1993, four years after it was published. I can tell this because when I look at the back of my copy it has a sticker from A Second Look Books dated 1993. Which I guess means the author didn't make any money off me so let's move quickly on to the next paragraph.

These books are what SF should aspire to be; it is a shame they are not more widely known.

There will be some spoilers. Read more...Collapse )

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(no subject)
Laura's Wolf is a werewolf romance novel written by a friend, so I am not a hundred percent objective in this review; on the other hand I am generally a super hard sell on werewolf romance tropes (alphas! obligatory pack dominance dynamics! UGH WHY) so perhaps this balances out my partiality?

Anyway: I enjoyed it a lot! Excellent airplane read, except for the part when we hit turbulence and I could not stop myself from thinking, "well, if this plane crashes and I am found with a Kindle frozen to a werewolf sex scene clutched in my cold dead hands, I suppose that will be some kind of karmic justice for my life as I have chosen to lead it."

Laura's Wolf, first in the series WEREWOLF MARINES (does what it says on the tin!) is about a werewolf veteran named Roy with PTSD and an ex-con-artist named Laura with different PTSD. When Laura meets Roy, he is on the run from a shady government agency, has been homeless for a few months, and is living in her dad's garage cabin.

LAURA: So ... you're a werewolf. Any ... irresistible compulsions to bay at the moon or go savage young ladies in the woods at night ....?
ROY: Actually, the biggest problem right now is that I don't seem to be able to tolerate bright lights and loud noises and light-up screens anymore, which makes me SUPER UNEMPLOYABLE. :(

I loved this! I love that the werewolf stuff is as much about disability and access concerns as it is about magic werewolf superpowers, and is really well tied into Roy's PTSD and the fact that reintegrating into civilian life was always going to be hard anyway, werewolf stuff or not. (There are definitely some magic werewolf superpowers involved too, of course.)

In general I enjoy the majority of the werewolf mythology stuff in the novel, which is clearly chosen to emphasize TEAMS and FRIENDSHIP and AVOID SKETCHY GENDER STUFF LIKE THE PLAGUE. I feel like it's been so long since I've read a werewolf story that didn't instantly put my hackles up! And I like the relationship, which as it builds becomes very much about mutual liking and respect and earned trust.

In fact I only have two real quibbles. The first is just generally a frequent romance novel quibble of mine, which is the thing with INSTANT SUPER MEGA ATTRACTION BETWEEN TWO HOT PEOPLE. (Laura is plus-sized and therefore less conventionally hot to outside eyes perhaps -- which is a fact I appreciate, by the way! -- but the first time Roy sees her he is still like "OH WOW WHAT A HOTTIE I WISH WE COULD MAKE OUT RIGHT AWAY," so the point still stands.) But this is such a requirement of the genre that I can't really complain about it, even though my personal preference is ALWAYS for romance where the participants first look at their Designated Love Interest and are like "...uh, they're OK, I guess?"

The only other thing is that -- with apologies to the author -- I just cannot believe that any human being naturally smells like lemon meringue pie.

This entry is cross-posted at Livejournal from http://skygiants.dreamwidth.org/372369.html. Please feel free to comment here or there! There are currently comment count unavailable comments on Dreamwidth.

"So Eden sank to grief, / So dawn goes down to day. / Nothing gold can stay."
I sometimes think I fail at projecting a sufficiently arty personality, or at least sufficiently artsy.

Some anamorphic art installations. (via)

Smoking genderbent animated-character fanarts -- I think I like Howl & Sophie best, but Ariel also comes off pretty well. Compare also these Disney princesses drawn a la Alphonse Mucha. (via & via)

Drone-shot aerial footage of New York. Not a timelapse but in some ways just as good. (via)

I sometimes also wonder, Sufficient for what?


Subject quote from "Nothing Gold Can Stay," Robert Frost.
Tags: ,

When was the most recent time
Baen Books found a new author on the sales level of a Weber, Bujold or a Moon?

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"Dona nobis pacem"
Today was a lot better than yesterday. X fought off gluten-poisoning to meet me after work and brave the perfumed chaos of BB&B, and we got curtains and curtain rods and various other useful things. We took a cab over to the new apartment and installed curtains and were happy.

I got some hooks that hang off of cabinet doors (super useful!) and while I was figuring out which doors to put them on, I realized that I hadn't yet had a chance to ask X the all-important question of "which drawer do you assume the silverware is in?".

R: Hey, I have a question for you that I asked Josh already.
X: Yes, I will marry you.
R: *stammers and blushes and grins like a fool for several minutes*

We held each other in our new kitchen and it felt like home, our home, our family home.

And then I asked about the silverware drawer and we both felt (as J had) that it should be one of the middle ones because towels go nearest the sink and cooking utensils go nearest the stove. We all tend to be very in tune around things like that. It makes things so lovely and easy.

Later on, as we were walking back to the old place from the subway:

X: Huh, there was something I was going to ask you...
R: Yes, I will marry you.
X: Well, FINALLY. I've been waiting for ages!

And there you have the difference between the two of us. :) But it's just a different kind of in tune, really. Sappiness and silliness, melody and harmony.

Just five more days.

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"Fezzik, you did something right."
Fun things, Apr 17: ...no idea, that was a million years ago
Apr 18: went by the new place after therping and immediately felt less stressed
Apr 19: packing party! and then dinner with J, and another trip to the new place, and watching The Princess Bride with X
Apr 20: another nice dinner out with J, and companionable packing with X
Apr 21: X and I got curtains and other things at BB&B and installed them (except the shower curtain rings, which are too big for the grommets on our shower curtain)

Yes, all the joy in my life right now comes from packing and interior decorating. This will be true for another few weeks at least.

Media log:

33) The Princess Bride. (Movie.) Rewatch, of course. It remains brilliant, but I kept thinking "This scene is better in the book!" and now I want to reread the book. Cary Elwes is so young. I continue to ship Humperdink/Rugen like whoa.

I mean, what is there to say about it, really? We've all seen it a billion times. It's one of the wittiest and most quotable scripts ever written, Wesley castigating Buttercup for marrying someone else after she thought he was dead is kind of tiresome (especially given all his later assertions about true love--if it's Meant to Be and all that, why did he ever doubt her?) but over quickly, the acting is phenomenal even if Mandy Patinkin's broad Spanish accent is cringeworthy these days, and I will always love the fencing scene to tiny little itty bitty pieces. I appreciate Andre the Giant more than ever--his Fezzik is such a wonderful portrayal of a man who's not nearly as short on brains as everyone else thinks he is, and is more bighearted and noble than anyone else imagines, a perfect paladin minus the armor--and Wallace Shawn is incomparable. Carol Kane and Billy Crystal are so splendid that you barely stop to wonder how a couple of Brooklyn Jews ended up working miracles and eating MLTs in Florin. They're all marvelous.

Except, oddly, Robin Wright, who is wooden and one-note throughout. But she's given far less to work with than anyone else in the film; Buttercup really is the dolt that Fezzik is supposed to be, with no redeeming qualities except for her perfect breasts. Note that literally none of the famous quotable lines are hers. She's the straight man for Wesley's wisecracks, and then she sets him up to die away from her because she can't bear him dying in front of her. Inigo immediately knows that the cry of ultimate suffering is Wesley's; Buttercup is baffled by it. Her one shining moment is "You never sent those ships", and that realization is so completely belated that all I could do was roll my eyes. I'm surprised Fezzik remembered to steal a horse for her, given that she's more of a quest object than a person.

Oh well. All the men and Carol Kane are great, anyway.

One intriguing side effect of spending so much time doing literary criticism is that I was totally fascinated by the grandson arguing with the book whenever it diverged from his culturally mediated expectations of a fairy tale. "You got that wrong, grandpa!" He hates "kissing books" but he knows enough about romance conventions to know that Wesley has to get the girl and Humperdink has to die (and he's so mad when his grandfather tells him that Humperdink lives--that's not how it's done!). It's a fascinating little study on how quickly and thoroughly children absorb the tropes we feed them, and it helps to make up for the movie being more of a fawning homage to cliché than a sneaky send-up.

Verdict: The book is better. (Not least because it is much more of a sneaky send-up, including the greatly superior ending.) But the movie is still great.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? I expect we'll wear out the DVD. I plan to read them the book, too. Including the descriptions of the boring parts.

34) My Real Children by Jo Walton. (Book.) NOTE: The following contains spoilers, and also a major spoiler for the Small Change books (Farthing/Ha'Penny/Half a Crown). If you don't want those, stop reading now.

Spoilers ahoyCollapse )

Verdict: Annoying verging on upsetting.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Tolerate. It's not inherently offensive or objectionable. It's just not in any way my thing.

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Hugo Awards follow up, also, Windows 8.1 sucks hugely
Brandon Sanderson has a post up about the Hugo Awards as a whole and the Wheel of Time nomination in particular.

In the spirit of his final paragraph, allow me to say that right now, the major reason I am unable to read all the works in the novelette and novella category has nothing to do with the nominated authors, their politics, their ability to write Latin, or the stories themselves, and EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT WINDOWS 8.1 SUCKS. MIGHTILY SUCKS.

Specifically, it does not like Adobe Digital Editions, a program I have used for YEARS to organize, open and read epubs and pdfs. Windows 8.1 allows the program to open, kinda, but then has FEELINGS about whether or not you can actually read the file. Microsoft will helpfully point out the other reading apps available, but a: most of my ebooks are NOT from Amazon/Kindle, Barnes and Noble/Nook, or Kobo Books, so shut up Microsoft; b: the Kindle app on Windows 8.1 didn't open up the epub file either (however otherwise it is a very nice app and does not crash my system, so kudos Amazon); and c: I don't want to have to jump through a lot of different and competing reader apps just to open up a 36 page book.

As it turns out, if you restart the computer several times Windows 8.1 will grudgingly admit that just maybe Adobe Digital Editions has a right to exist and be used, and hopefully - hopefully - I will manage to get the rest of my books to open up in it. (That particular epub was DRM free.) HOWEVER.

This is only the start of many issues that I have with Windows 8.1. Auugh. I will adjust, I know, and at least this time Windows hasn't added that terrifying paperclip thing, but seriously, Microsoft, can you try checking with users to find out what they actually want and need before launching Windows 9.0? Thanks muchly.

Inaugural Tolkien Society Award Winners
The winners were as follows:

Best Article: John Garth, “Tolkien and the boy who didn’t believe in fairies“

Best Artwork: Jenny Dolfen, “Eärendil the Mariner“

Best Book: Paul Simpson and Brian Robb, Middle-Earth Envisioned

Best Novel: J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Fall of Arthur

Best Website: Emil Johansson, LOTR Project

Outstanding Contribution Award: Christopher Tolkien

Total F   M   mu   F/T
 6    1   5        17%

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Today's factoid
Not terribly surprising: The ratios of box office outside the US to box office sales inside the US for three movies:

Pacific Rim: 3
Iron Man 3: 2
Ender's Game: 1

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In open office
How do you turn spell check back on? I seem to have inadvertently turned it off.

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more CA:TWS fic recs

I'm home with the Pip this afternoon because daycare is closed, and I can't take a nap because I had to do things and now it's too close to the time he'll wake up, so to keep myself awake, some more fic recs post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Spoilers below; organized chronologically except the one that I had to yell about.

SPOILERSCollapse ) comment count unavailable comment(s) | add comment (how-to) | link

Dragon Ride progress, April 20
xinef wrote in cross_stitch
Nearly 4 months worth of progress. Finished 2nd stage of border, still have the back-stitched knotwork to do. Then on to the back stitching on the dragon and rider. Beading in the border will be done last.

photo behind the cutCollapse )

(no subject)
meganbmoore wrote in wiscon
I have roommates for the convention itself (Thurs-Sun night) but I'll be flying in on Wednesday and not leaving until Tuesday morning.  Does anyone have space/need a roommate for either Wednesday or Monday night?  I'm fine with the floor or a cot.

Hugo Awards
So if you missed it, the Hugo Award nominations were announced over the weekend. You can find the list here:


Cut for those of you that don't care about the Hugo awards.Collapse )

My tweets

Not the result he was hoping for
The older he gets, the easier it is to provoke a tantrum from Groucho [1]. He objects in particular to me getting out of bed in the morning because it means he has to move. Sometimes this involved biting me to try to get me to stop moving. Today it involved growling and hissing.

As soon as he growled at me, Ophelia came over to groom him and as soon as they saw what she was doing, Ibid and Fig came to help. "Not wanting to move" won out over "this is an affront to my dignity" but only just.

1: He has always has a very short fuse. He goes from angry to happy just as fast, which would be weird if he had not been like this the whole time I have owned him.

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It’s Complicated.
[Trigger warning: discussion of rape scenes. Spoiler warning: discussion of last night's Game of Thrones.]

Last night, absolutely nobody was watching Turn at 9pm, because everyone was watching Game of Thrones. As Turn isn't very good (yet), that's not surprising. I was watching, though, as I'm recapping it at AV Club; I was excited because the episode was markedly better than the ones before it, and especially excited to get a relatively meaty scene between protagonist Abraham Woodhull's wife Mary, and Anna Strong, his old flame and current co-conspirator in spying.

As it turns out, Mary was intended for Abraham's brother Thomas, but after Thomas's death, Abraham got called on for the sake of the families, and he broke his engagement with Anna to marry Mary. And Mary's come not to condemn what she thinks is an affair, but instead merely to ask for discretion. What she feels for Abraham is unclear; it pains her to think he's been unfaithful, but whether it's family pride or the specific pain of rebuffed love is harder to say.

I thought about what the show has suggested about their marital intimacy under these newly-revealed conditions. Mary's insistence that a marriage hinges on children—and the baby tromping across the cabbage farm—suggests sex at least enough to try for a kid. But the idea that Abraham's a respectful and kind husband was the first thing the show ever established, in the series' first scene (deliberately edited in ahead of the opening scene that appears in the shooting script), so some of the potential dread of their bedroom becomes polite awkwardness. Maybe fondness has crept in around the edges—sometimes they seem fond, and not just cohabiting—but maybe this is just second-generation family duty. Complicated, these intimate politics.


I thought about this scene again as reactions on Twitter began to suggest that we'd reached a scene of Game of Thrones that I'd viewed weeks ago, had been embargoed from discussing, and had somehow vaguely hoped would be different when it aired than it was when I saw it. (Shows do reshoots at the last minute, sometimes, when something's too horrible; they edit it to go first when it's an impression they want you to carry with you; they edit it out when it's past the point of being salvaged.)

Director Alex Graves doesn't think it's horrible. "That's one of my favorite scenes I've ever done," he says.

You’ve probably heard what happened on Game of Thrones last night. Even if you don’t watch the show, you’ve probably heard; it was a pretty big deal to a lot of the viewers. Not as big a deal as a man getting killed at a wedding, to the people in charge, but it was to people who know what's happening when someone (a woman, last night) says No, over and over, and someone (a man, last night) doesn't stop. When he forces her backwards, when he holds her down.

"Well, it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle," says Alex Graves.

Cersei's holding her son's hand the whole time, like the dead will wake up and save her.

Read more...Collapse )

Speaking of awards
The 2014 Prometheus Best Novel Award Finalists were announced and either I missed it or I forgot noticing it.

Best Novel finalists:

Homeland, by Cory Doctorow (TOR Books)
A Few Good Men, by Sarah Hoyt (Baen Books)
Crux, by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot Books)
Nexus, by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot Books)
Brilliance, by Marcus Sakey (Thomas & Mercer)

Here are the 2014 finalists (in chronological order) for the Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction:

"As Easy as A.B.C.," a short story (1912) by Rudyard Kipling
"Sam Hall," a short story (1953) by Poul Anderson
"'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," a short story (1965) by Harlan Ellison
Falling Free, a novel (1988) by Lois McMaster Bujold
Courtship Rite, a novel (1982) by Donald M. Kingsbury

It's kind of sad I've read all the ones in the Hall of Fame list and none of the contemporary ones. I will say this isn't the first time I've run across Naam's name in the last month or so.

Award             T    F   M   Mu  F/T
Best Novel        5    1   4        .2
Hall of Fame      5    1   4        .2

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Which F&SF awards
*do* people care about the results of?

Feel free to link to their sites.

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Because nothing fixes all the problems better than a total universal reboot.
Another total universal reboot, I mean.

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I'm an aunt!
I'd post pics, but my sister and brother-in-law haven't posted any publicly yet. But.

I am finally an aunt!

My sister and brother-in-law had been trying to adopt for some time. They came close in late January/early February... close enough to fly out to Wisconsin and spend weeks getting jerked around by the birthmother, who had been scamming them the entire time (they'd been paying a lot of expenses for her for five months). (I wrote a very angry post about this at the time, but took it down because it was still so painful for the entire family. Yeah, we were going through a lot behind the scenes then.)

So this time, when they got the call on Friday that a birthmother was interested in their profile... I was really holding my breath. And making certain demands of the universe. Because once was cruel enough, don't do this to them twice...

The birthmom signed the papers last night. *sigh of relief*

So! I have a niece! This is who I was speed-knitting the layette for earlier this year. :)

Her name is Brielle and she is adorable.

In related news, hey, I'll be in Florida next month, so Florida friends, let's hang out. :)

All-Hotel eCube #6
mystickeeper wrote in wiscon
The Concourse Hotel is undergoing some renovations. We've created an all-hotel edition of eCube to let you know what's changing.

"I don't even give a care"

Tea and Daniel and Stacy C. came over and packed a ton of book boxes, because they are marvelous people, and now the "how will we pack everything?!" stress is gone because we can clearly pack everything that's left with minimal trouble, but instead there's all the stress of being surrounded by boxes and chaos and tiny ants (we have a bonus! infestation thanks to a hole in the baseboard that we don't have time to patch). I hate it all so much.

This apartment was never really home, not like our place in Inwood was. We always knew it would be temporary, so we overlooked or put up with a lot of things, and now all the cumulative impatience and dissatisfaction is crushing. The physical disarray of moving is crushing. The anxiety--what's going to break? what will we lose? how far will we fall behind our schedule? how much is this all costing us?--is crushing. We're all struggling a lot. I suppose later on I'll be able to look back with intellectual curiosity at the different ways our various neuroses manifest under this sort of pressure, but right now we're all at the emotional level of your average underslept five-year-old and it's kind of awful.

I'm just so glad that no matter how defensive or agitated or scared or sullen or cranky we get, we don't get mean. We're never cruel. We gripe but don't snipe. Some days that's all that saves us.

Today X and I got into a stupid verbal spiral and couldn't pull ourselves out of it, and then J knocked to ask about dinner plans, and we were so happy to be interrupted! We were utterly hating the conversation we were having and didn't want to be having it and couldn't figure out how to stop, and being jarred out of it was a huge relief. It was actually very heartening how glad we were to pull him into the room and talk about dinner and hug one another and let all the rest of it go. We were so eager to stop making one another unhappy. Everything was better after that. Not 100% better, but better.

The stress is making me slightly dizzy all the time. It's not vertigo. I know it's not because whenever I go over to the new place I magically feel better. I'm just lightheaded. But of course I keep checking to see whether it's vertigo.

Tonight I burst into tears and sobbed on X's shoulder, wailing, "I'm homesick! I want to go home!" But by this time next week I will be home, or at least in a place that we can make into a home instead of a place that we're dismantling. And then I hope we will stay there for many many many MANY years. Ideally without any ants.

You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.

Hugo nominations: disagreement, pleasure, agnosticism

So the nominations for the Hugo Awards (and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, which is, we must ritually say, Not A Hugo) were announced this weekend, and have already occasioned a fair bit of comment while I was spending quality time with my family. (Here, have some cute kid pics.)

Here are some reactions, and reactions to reactions:

the slate of works pushed by Vox Day, cut for lengthCollapse )


The Wheel of Time, the fourteen-book epic fantasy series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, is nominated for Best Novel in its entirety. Here is where I disagree with some quite good friends, and say that even if this makes sense (and I am not convinced that a fourteen-book series really belongs on a Best Novel category, whether or not that is technically permissible), I didn't nominate it and I'm not voting for it, because frankly I don't think it deserves it. Yes, it more-or-less stuck the landing (ugh, I've still never written up the last volume), but the multiple books of wheel-spinning in the late-middle (I've still never read one of them all the way through; err, also, pun not intended) and the incredibly poor way it handles its gender politics mean that as far as I'm concerned, it would be a nostalgia/tribute vote and not one on its merits.


There are some really exciting things on the ballot, too. Ancillary Justice is one of the most talked-about novels in my circles this past year, and I look forward to reading it. A blog post about erasure of women from history is nominated for Best Related Work (next year, I nominate medievalpoc for something—Fanzine? Fan Writer?). Sites I read regularly are nominated in Semiprozine and Fanzine (Strange Horizons and The Book Smugglers, respectively). I've been nominating Abigail Nussbaum for Fan Writer for years, and I'm thrilled to see her on the ballot; Liz Bourke and Mark Oshiro also do great work. [*] And the Campbell Award nominees are, as best I can tell, at least 80% non-white-males (and the cover of Max Gladstone's first book, the 20%, looks like this). So that's pretty great.

[*] Though eligibility for Fan Writer, when it comes to paid-for work out on the web for free, is really messed up under the WSFS Constitution (PDF), and badly needs revision. When it's not 11:30 at night I can elaborate, if anyone cares, but really, I'm mostly convinced that it should be changed to "nonfiction writer" instead, as someone-or-other suggested.


All that said, I promised agnosticism, which is this: I genuinely cannot find it in me to care whether the Hugos devolve into, as James Nicoll points out with characteristic brevity and asperity, political parties, or whether prior community norms about politicking prevail, or Vox Day et al. get bored, or whatever. Worst comes to worst, a few years of concerted effort results in actual winners instead of mere nominations for hateful trolls, and a few year after that, booksellers and the like catch up and realize that the Hugo is no longer prestigious, and, well, SFF fandom is big, even the bits of it that self-identify as fandom, and WorldCon and the Hugos are only a small part of that. Maybe Locus stops overweighting subscriber votes and becomes the popular award of record. Maybe the Nebulas experience a surge in prestige. Maybe I hit the lottery and endow a juried award in my honor. Who knows? But the Hugos aren't that big a teapot, at the end of the day, and if people want to self-identify with them and participate in the community that votes on them, great, they should do that, and if people don't, great, they should do that too.

(Note: my availability may be erratic over the next couple of days, so I am screening anon comments in an excess of caution. If you're new here, please review the policy statements in my profile before commenting. Thank you.)

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While granting up front such things are likely to end tears
What would a modern attempt to emulate the Lensman series, this time with better prose, look like? Assume "it would have better prose" is covered.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

BSFA Award Winners
They are reported to be:

Gareth L. Powell’s ACK-ACK MACAQUE

Short Story:
Nina Allen, “Spin.”

Joey HiFi, with the art for DREAM LONDON.

Jeff Vandermeer, WONDERBOOK

I will tidy this up I get home.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

The logical next step
Scalzi tries to put as nice a face on the current situation, which I guess he has to because it was the normalization of blatant self-promotion that got us here and he played a significant role in making it acceptable.

Anyway, since we're stuck in a situation where organized slates enjoy an advantage (at least as far as nominations go), the next step would seem to be formal parties, each offering a different slate of candidates. How many of those do you think are viable in a system like the Hugos?

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

Two questions

What none of that clade has ever answered is the question of why nearly all separatist utopian fantasies — e.g. those of Charnas, Tepper, LeGuin etc — begin built upon mountains of corpses. Nearly all of the systems that they have extolled (many of them vastly harsher to males than anything in Glory Season) seem to have derived from apocalyptic downfalls of a previous (presumably unjust and oppressive) civilization.

A: Which LeGuin is Brin referring to here?

B: Aren't piles of polished skulls somewhere in the background a common feature in utopias of all kinds? I can think of examples where utopianification was a gradual process - I believe that's how it worked in Looking Backward: 2000 - 1887 by Edward Bellamy - but clearing off the Old Order with some kind of grand calamity is a great time saver.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

"This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."
"Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral."

"Grub first, then ethics," as it's commonly translated when not aiming for a singable score. It's a descriptive statement, but every once in a while, I imagine Herr Brecht saying* it prescriptively: "No, no -- you're doing it wrong. Grub first, then the ethics." Which inevitably leads to the obvious Pink Floyd parody: "If you don't eat yer grub, you can't have any ethics! How can you have any ethics if you don't eat yer grub?"

At which point I highjack my brain and forceably think about something else, such as tenser tensors or division by rabbits, as the crossover that is The Threepenny Wall does not bear thinking about. At least, not without a lot more alcohol and Marxist in-jokes than I can stomach.

* Yes, I know, in the original it's spoken, or rather sung, by two characters. Death of the author be damned, when it makes a good joke.


David Gemmel Legend Award Nominees
Legend Award
(Best novel)

The Daylight War by Peter V Brett (Harper Collins UK)
Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Harper Collins UK)
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (Gollancz)
A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan (Tor/Forge)
War Master's Gate by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor UK)

Morningstar Award
(Best debut novel)

The Garden of Stones by Mark T Barnes (47 North)
Headtaker by David Guymer (Black Library)
Promise of Blood by Brian McLellan (Orbit)
The Path of Anger by Antoine Rouaud (Gollancz)
The Grim Company by Luke Scull (Head of Zeus)

Ravenheart Award
(Best cover art)

Benjamin Carre for the cover of The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch(Gollancz)
Jason Chan for the cover of Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Harper Collins UK)
Cheol Joo Lee for the cover of Skarsnik by Guy Haley (Black Library)
Gene Mollica and Michael Frost for the cover of Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan (Orbit)
Rhett Podersoo for the cover of She Who Waits by Daniel
Polansky (Hodder)

Award                 T    F    M    F/T
Legend Award          5         5     0
Morningstar Award     5         5     0
Ravenheart Award      5         5     0
Total                15        15     0

Which by British standards is very inclusive.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

2014 Hugo Nominees F/M
Boy, do I regret the fractional credit approach.

Read more...Collapse )

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

Every Day, by David Levithan
Every day, A wakes up in the body of a new person. They are always sixteen, and always within a certain geographical range of each other. Everything else varies. It began when A was an infant. Eventually A started counting days, and is now into the 6000s.

A has always lived like this, cultivating philosophical detachment and a non-interference policy. A can access their hosts’ memories, and uses this to go through the paces of their host bodies’ lives, trying to leave everything exactly as they found it. Until A lands in the body of a complete asshole of a teenage boy named Justin, who has a girlfriend named Rhiannon. And A falls in love.

I’ve seen this premise, or something similar to it, a couple times before. The version closest to this one was a short story by Greg Egan called “The Safe-Deposit Box.” But the TV shows Quantum Leap and, to a lesser degree, Touched by an Angel, also played with this concept. It’s a great concept.

Overall, I liked the book. It has fantastic narrative drive and, as I said, a terrific concept. This review will sound more critical than I actually felt reading it; its flaws are interesting and worth discussing, so I’m going to spend more time on them than on what I liked. But seriously, it’s generally very good and if the premise sounds at all interesting, you should read it.

The biggest problem I had with it is that I was interested in the other lives, and in the question of how much a life could change in a single day. I was not very caught up in the love story. And the book is more about the love story. Especially by the halfway mark, A often completely ignores the body they’re inhabiting in favor of obsessing over how they were going to get to see Rhiannon (the logistics of finding transportation to her take up a large percentage of page time), and this was the opposite of what I was interested in.

Rhiannon never came to life as a character, nor did I ever see what she and A saw in each other. She’s a generic quirky girl. I kept thinking there was going to be some reveal about what in her past or current life was keeping her stuck in a borderline emotionally abusive relationship with Justin, when the latter has no apparent redeeming qualities whatsoever. But there isn’t one. She’s the object of desire, and that’s it.

I completely believe that in A’s situation, they would be obsessive and stalkery about a love interest – for one thing, some degree of stalking is required to get to know anyone at all, at least in the beginning. That being said, A was obsessive and stalkery and it didn’t make me root for their relationship.

The non-interference policy was frustrating because A was so inconsistent about it. In one quite vivid scene, A goes through agony in an addict’s body because A refuses to do drugs. (Why won’t A do drugs? I can think of lots of reasons, but A never says why. The conclusion I came to was that Levithan didn’t want to depict drug-taking.) But later, A is extremely reluctant to stop their host from committing suicide. Why is that verboten, but making a host’s body go through painful withdrawal isn’t even considered interference?

What I liked best about the book – the snapshots of all the different lives – also had some holes in it. A only speaks English, and must slowly rifle through a host’s memories to respond even haltingly and in a few words in any other language. If A has been this way since they were a baby, wouldn’t they have absorbed at least a couple other common languages? How could A have possibly cycled into multiple bodies whose language they didn’t know over a period of sixteen years without anyone ever noticing?

Late in the book, A wakes up in an obese body. Alone among all the many incarnations, A is grossed out by the body and gets no sense of the body’s interior life, apparently due to its fatness. Seriously? That’s where A and their infinite experience draws the line? I can see that it was important for A to meet Rhiannon in a body she was turned off by, but there were better ways to do it. (Like a body that bore a very strong resemblance to someone she hated, or to one of her relatives. Squick!)

I also ended up wanting A to experience their lives as more different. Many of them blend together and start seeming very similar. A may have no gender and no race, but people react very differently depending on one’s gender and race, and many other factors besides. I wanted A to notice that more, so they could adjust their behavior accordingly. A poor black boy, a middle-class Asian girl, a white girl in a wheelchair, and a middle-class white boy may have different experiences doing something as everyday as driving a car (a remarkable number of their teenage hosts conveniently had cars) or buying a soda from a convenience store.

And while I’m bitching: there was a subplot that got ought to have been extremely interesting (one of the hosts realized that they were a host and went after A) but was taken over by “evangelicals are idiots.” This was especially frustrating since it led to a fascinating plot revelation that could have taken the book in a whole new direction… about one chapter before the book ended. I wish that had been where that storyline had started.

Oh, and A didn’t sound like a teenager at all. A sounded like Chicken Soup for the Soul. I could buy that due to the circumstances of A’s life, but all the not-terribly-deep life wisdom sometimes got a bit much.

As I said, despite all these qualms, I did enjoy reading the book. It zips along, and I was always excited to get to the next day and the next body. Flawed but definitely worth reading.

Every Day

Crossposted to http://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/1141518.html. Comment here or there.

DNA matching my genealogy

In my last post, I wrote about the estimates that Ancestry.com made regarding my ethnicity based on my DNA results. That wasn’t why I took the test though. I wanted to see which family lines I matched. By that, I mean I wanted to find other people who have enough matching genetic markers to indicate that we are related.

Ancestry classified the matches into three categories for me.

  • 3rd cousins, with 98% confidence
    While there may be some statistical variation in our prediction, it’s likely to be a third cousin type of relationship—which are separated by seven degrees or seven people. However, the relationship could range from six to ten degrees of separation.
  • 4th cousins, with 95% confidence
    For relationships this distant from you, there is greater statistical variation in our prediction. It’s most likely to be a fourth cousin type of relationship (which are separated by ten degrees or ten people), but the relationship could range from six to twelve degrees of separation.
  • distant cousins, with 50% confidence
    As far as DNA goes, you do have a fair amount of shared DNA with this match, however the relationship is distant if it exists at all.

Ancestry found one third cousin match, eight fourth cousin matches, and 101 pages of distant cousin matches. I’ve looked through the online family trees for many of them to see if matching ancestors can be found.

The family tree for the predicted third cousin only goes back to their great grand-parents. To match at 3rd cousins, they’d need to go back to their 2nd great grandparents. However, I’ve done descendancy research on all my 2nd great grandparents, and none of the people in that research match people in her tree. There’s enough holes in my descendancy research from 3rd great grandparents that it’s possible she could fit in there, particularly in the Solle/Hein line, where I haven’t found my 3rd great grandparents yet. I think it’s also important to note that Ancestry gives the confidence at 98%, which means there’s a 2% chance their prediction is wrong.

Of the fourth cousin category, I was able to find common ancestors for four of the eight predicted matches. Three are third cousins, once removed. One is a sixth cousin, once removed.

Of the distant cousin matches, I was able to find three other people with common ancestors. One is a fourth cousin, once removed. One is a 5th cousin. And one is a third cousin, once removed. Third cousins, once removed, are popular in my results.

The Big Tree fan chart with DNA matches marked
The Big Tree fan chart with DNA matches marked

The chart above (click to make large) shows the family lines where matching people were found. Three of the third cousins once removed matched Parker/Murphy, Ryan/Sheedy, and Voigt/Thuernich, which are all lines from my paternal grandfather and where I’ve focused a lot of my research energy. One third cousin once removed matched Samms/Cornell, and the remainder matched either at James Washington Annis or his grandfather Ezra Annis. All of these are my maternal grandfather’s family and I’ve barely scratched the research surface in that branch.

The short conclusion I take from that is my research on my paternal grandfather’s family has some genetic support for being correct. There’s still some room for error, but it’s pretty good evidence.

I should also mention there’s one predicted match where I don’t have a common ancestor at this point, but that person’s family tree comes heavily from the area of Piteå, Sweden. That’s where my maternal grandmother’s family is from, so I suspect a match will be found there as well.

And for the benefit of people searching for names on Google, here are the ancestors with matches.

  • Patrick Parker and Mary Murphy
  • John Ryan and Deborah Sheedy
  • Johann Voigt and Mary Agnes Thuernich
  • Edgar Marion Samms and Ella Orinda Cornell
  • James Washington Annis and Elizabeth Davis (2 matches)
  • Ezra Annis

Originally published at King Rat. You can comment here or there.


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