(no subject)

Oct. 21st, 2017 08:55 am
skygiants: Jadzia Dax lounging expansively by a big space window (daxanova)
[personal profile] skygiants
After reading Ann Leckie's new book Provenance I went on Twitter and asked what you call a screwball plot if it isn't necessarily a comedy.

Like, Provenance, while frequently funny, is not a non-serious book -- it concerns itself with classism, wildly unhealthy family relationships, interstellar warmongering, fetishization of cultural artifacts, and inhumane conditions of incarceration, not to mention murder -- but the structure of the plot is very classic screwball. Misunderstandings! Mistaken identities! Brilliant[ly ill-advised] schemes colliding with each other and blowing up in everybody's face! The faint air of Yakety Sax playing frequently in the background!

Honestly it feels a lot like Ann Leckie channeling Lois McMaster Bujold, with less intense character dynamics but also fewer moments of side-eye.

Our Heroine Ingray Aughskold is the foster daughter of an elected official who has been locked in competition with her foster-brother since they were both small for the eventual goal of inheriting their mother's position. Ingray comes from a public orphanage, while her asshole abrother is the son of a wealthy family, which gives him an edge that Ingray has never quite been able to best.

CUE: Brilliant[ly ill-advised] scheme! Ingray decides to attempt to break a fellow political foster-kid, Pahlad Budrakim, out of Compassionate Removal (i.e. terrible jail) in order to learn the location of the highly important cultural artifacts which Pahlad has hypothetically stolen.

Complication: Pahlad is possibly not Pahlad, and is certainly not inclined to be cooperative.
Complication 2: The space captain who Ingray hired to get them back home is wanted for theft by an alien ambassador, who Does Not Understand Humans, and whom everyone is panicked about offending due to some Very Important Alien Treaties.
Complication 3: Meanwhile, what Ingray's mother would actually like her to be doing with her time is shepherding around some other ambassadors, human ones from a different planet, who want to do politically-motivated excavations in a local nature preserve
Complication 4: Also, someone is about to get murdered!
Complication 5: And the cop in the case has a crush on Ingray!
Complication 6: And MANY OF THE HIGHLY IMPORTANT CULTURAL ARTIFACTS HAVE DISPUTED PROVENANCE AND IT'S VERY DISTRESSING (for everyone but me, because the minute I heard that title I was like 'this had better be about cultural heritage' and LO AND BEHOLD)

((...though I did want to see a little more documented archival paperwork and process surrounding the question of the authenticity of the artifacts, but I mean, ignore me, it's good, it's fine.))

My favorite character was definitely possibly-Pahlad, with their bitter cynicism and constant challenges to everyone else to do better; wanting More Pahlad all the time was probably my biggest complaint about the book.

My other favorite character was the almost entirely useless Radch ambassador, who just did not want to be there that day. Everything about the treatment of the Radch in this book delights me. "So weird to hear this totally clueless woman speaking with the accent we're used to hearing from villains on the TV!" You definitely don't need to have read the Imperial Radch books to enjoy Provenance, but I suspect it does probably make the few Radch cameos five times funnier.

The Good Place 2.1-2.5

Oct. 20th, 2017 11:49 pm
yhlee: (AtS no angel (credit: <user name="helloi)
[personal profile] yhlee
spoilers )

It's funny--I adore this show but declined to request it for Yuletide. Besides it being a highly jossable canon, what I really want is bona fide philosophy neepery, and I'm pretty sure 99% of the fandom wants to write about relationships. There's plenty of shipfic I would read for this fandom, but I really really want philosophy neepery. And, I mean, 2.5 was basically my Platonic ideal in terms of episode content.
starlady: Peggy in her hat with her back turned under the SSR logo (agent carter)
[personal profile] starlady
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017), dir. Angela Robinson
I loved this film so much and I'd bet that almost everyone reading this will love it too. Based on the real-life story of the creator of Wonder Woman and his wife and their partner, the movie has been winning deserved praise for its respectful portrayal of a poly love story, as well as its exploration of exploring kink and BDSM in a relationship. The story of Bill Marston, Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne is fascinating, and Robinson leaps off the agreed-upon documentary record to make it a full-on romantic trio, with Elizabeth and Olive's sexual relationship being just as important and real as either woman's relationship with Marston. Despite all that, however, the film is mostly inexplicit; Robinson is far more focused on the depiction of relationships through the way people look at each other than through body parts. It is, in other words, extremely female gaze, and very sexy. I would happily have watched another hour of the movie, particularly as the latter half gets into the challenges of queer parenting in a homophobic society in a way I wasn't expecting, but the movie's conventional structure means that there's only so much time. Still, it was wonderful, and all the actors were great. Go see it.

The Princess & the Frog (2009)
Disney's last traditionally animated feature film, its first featuring a black princess, and probably the only Disney princess movie I hadn't seen. I liked the story of Tiana and her feckless prince, and from my admittedly inexpert position it seemed like the non-white characters were largely depicted in a positive manner. The story is sweet, but it owes so much to Shrek, it's kind of painful, and the thing that really struck me is that even as Disney put a lot of effort into moving beyond racist stereotypes in its depiction of the non-white characters, they were unwilling or incapable of to get beyond lazy stereotypes and fatphobic tropes in their depictions of villains and fat people. (I was also interested to see that the dupe villain gets a British accent, since the movie being set in New Orleans means that Disney was unable to rely on its main vocal stereotyping strategy of having the villains speak in Southern accents.) All of which is to say, there's ultimately no comparison between this movie and some of Disney's more recent successes.

World Fantasy 2017

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:00 am
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
[personal profile] marthawells


Registration for World Fantasy 2017 in San Antonio ends Oct 21, banquet seats still available until Oct 27, and the final program schedule is now online:

http://wfc2017.org/wfc2017/programming/program-schedule/


Panels include:

Paging Doctor Tavener and Carnaki: Occult Detectives Old and Newly Reinvented

Beards and Intrigue: Queering the Historical Fantastic

Exceptional Characters in Horrible Times

Metaphors & Metadata: Libraries in Fantasy Literature

Molly Weasley Was a Bad Ass: Aged Protagonists in Fantasy

From Angry Fairy Queens to Flying Lizard People: An Interview with Toastmaster Martha Wells [Spotlight]

Exploration of Gender in Fantasy

Calamity Jane Defeats Conan—the Persistence of American Folklore in Fantasy Literature

Kitsune & Dragon: Thoughtful Approaches to Alternate Eastern Asias

Greg Manchess: Short Take on a Long Career in Illustration [GoH Spotlight]

Hild and Hilt: the Female Monk, the Lone Woman Protagonist

Hidden Secrets [GoH Spotlight] ( Tananarive Due will discuss the role of history, especially hidden history, in her work and in black horror in general, which is emerging as a sub-genre in the wake of Jordan Peele's Get Out. How horror serves as trauma narratives, or even healing narratives, to help artists and readers come to grips with the past.)

Borrowing from History: Intention and Appropriation

The Role of the City in Fantasy Settings

Religions of the African Diaspora: Beyond Zombies, Ancestors, and Giant Apes.

Urban Legends in the Age of Fake News (Engaging Our Theme IV)

Everybody Was There: Diversity in Fantasy Then and Now

Remembering Zenna Henderson: A Centennial Discussion and Appreciation

Women Authors That Men Don't Read --- Or Do They?

Reinventing the Fantastic Other

Pulp Era Influences: the Expiration Date

New Graphic Novels You Should be Reading
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
So, it used to be that we hadn’t upgraded to Windows 10 because our IT department hadn’t cleared it as “secure” enough (it’s not that it wasn’t secure, it just hadn’t gone through the security affirmation process). Now apparently it is, since they upgraded me to 10. I’ve never really had 10; I decided not to upgrade my personal laptop, though for a while the laptop I used for travel had it. 

I know this is just me getting older, but I am weirdly suspicious not of Windows 10 as a system but of the Windows 10 aesthetic. Everything is too smooth and square. Things that should be rounded are pointy and things that should be pointy are rounded. Everything is well-animated and in soothing pastel greys. 

I come from an era where computers weren’t even MEANT to be soothing, where it was just accepted that they would challenge you visually as well as implicitly. And I’m not saying we should go back to a Windows 3.0 aesthetic or anything, I don’t want computers to be difficult, I’m just saying. It’s…

It’s quiet. Too quiet. 

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happy music

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:32 pm
yhlee: Texas bluebonnet (text: same). (TX bluebonnet (photo: snc2006 on sxc.hu))
[personal profile] yhlee
Because today has been a Day for uninteresting reasons, I present to you a song that makes me happy: Anne Murray's "I Just Fall in Love Again" [Youtube].

(I'm Texan. I grew up on country, okay? ^_^)

Feel free to link to Youtube versions of songs that make you happy! I expect yours are less mushy than mine. ^_^

Dreadnought by April Daniels

Oct. 19th, 2017 09:29 pm
lightreads: a partial image of a etymology tree for the Indo-European word 'leuk done in white neon on black'; in the lower left is (Default)
[personal profile] lightreads
Dreadnought

4/5. Danny is fifteen and trans and very, very closeted. She happens to be present for the death of a superhero, and when his mantle passes to her, it transitions her.

A lot of this is great. Though in the case of Danny’s deteriorating relationship with her parents, “great” also means scary and infuriating. See also: the greatest transphobic threat to Danny’s safety and happiness in this book is arguably from someone who is supposed to be on her side and who claims the banner of feminism, which is painfully spot on.

I kind of wish this wasn’t a superhero book though? Which is not relevant, I realize, since this book is really just what you’d get if you reimagined a Marvel superhero’s origin story to include transness and queerness then wrote it in prose. That’s not a bad thing! But I am 0% interested in the extended – seriously, lengthy – descriptions of all the punching and kicking nonsense. And only minimally interested in superhero tech. And only a touch more interested in the ethics of superpowers conversation. Been there, done that.

So I guess what I’m saying is that this is a great book from a purely representational perspective – yay straight-faced superhero origin story about a transgirl – but I am not interested in straight-faced superhero origin stories these days.

fantasy casting

Oct. 19th, 2017 09:28 pm
philomytha: girl in woods with a shaft of sunlight falling on her (Default)
[personal profile] philomytha
I've only watched two episodes of the show so far, but the guy playing Richard Garland in The Halcyon is very close to my mental model of Illyan. He's got the self-effacing slightly puppyish face, he's got the whole spymaster cunning and fighting dirty thing going too, he's a loyal but independent-minded subordinate and generally he's not far off my mental image of him, both in the actor and the character. Tempting to reshape Lady Hamilton as Alys now and see if I can ship them, but Alys even right after Padma died wasn't quite as crazy as Lady Hamilton, though Lady Hamilton does have good reason.

Anyway, it's a good show so far. It's about the fortunes of a grand hotel in London just before the Blitz begins, a bit Upstairs Downstairs/Downton Abbey kind of vibe, but in the 40s. And googling it now to find out the name of the actor (Steven Mackintosh) I discover that it's been cancelled after one season, because this always happens with new series I like the look of. Oh well.

Stupid exorcist fic: it lives!

Oct. 19th, 2017 09:00 pm
rainjoyswriting: (kurt!)
[personal profile] rainjoyswriting
The Day Shift, a men in hats short set in the stupid exorcist AU. I felt the need to write this despite being exactly one (1) (I) (only one more than zero) fic away from finishing the affinityverse, and now you know everything you need to know about how my brain works.

Rating: NC-17 for violence. That shit needs to be rated way higher than porn does.

Disclaimer: I don't even own enough willpower to finish one damn fic at a time.

Warnings/spoilers: Always refer to part one, but this part has some really nasty gore in it (Hallowe'en month anyone?) so if you are not good with blood, really, it's not for you. I can write a summary of what you need to know in the next part promise <3

Read more... )
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
So, I think someone high up in management at my institution got hacked last year or something, since in the past year we have developed some serious paranoia regarding data security. Not to say that data security isn’t important or that I dislike the changes, I think they are for the most part sensible, but we went from like, zero to Steranko-System-in-Leverage in the course of a month or two. 

The latest development is a mysterious edict that we all have to leave our computers at work but logged out tonight so that they can “encrypt” our computers somehow – I assume it’s some kind of software they’re going to install, but there’s been a dearth of information over what exactly this Encryption Of Computers entails. Furthermore, I was told that my computer is incompatible with encryption (loose lips sink ships, laptop!) so it will have to be wiped completely and upgraded. Which I’m fine with, all my work is on a network drive anyway and I just had to remember to move a few files. 

But my laptop apparently heard them and knows it’s being wiped. Yesterday the flash stopped working and today my Outlook has decided to neither send nor receive any email. Additionally, a retail clothing website just broke Firefox so hard it no longer allows me to log into anything. 

What I’m saying is that this laptop is going down swinging, and I kind of admire its fighting spirit, but goddamn, could it not have waited until the end of the workday so I wouldn’t have to use Microsoft Webmail to do the last two hours of business today. 

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Me and Star Wars

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:38 am
marthawells: (Stargate)
[personal profile] marthawells
Forgot to post this here yesterday:

Star Wars and me, when I was a lonely 13 year old: http://www.unboundworlds.com/2017/10/a-long-time-ago-martha-wells-how-star-wars-inspired-writing/

I was an isolated kid in a lot of ways, and didn’t know anybody else who really liked SF as much as I did. And I’d been told over and over again that liking SF/F, or liking anything involving books and media so intensely, was weird and strange and probably bad, or if not bad, something that made me a figure of ridicule. It was especially bad for a girl to like those things, but I was sure to get over it when I grew up and stopping being silly. I knew I wasn’t the only one, I knew there were other people like me out there; all these books and comics had been written by people, for people. But before Star Wars, it was hard to believe those people really existed.

Then I read this movie novelization, and read it again, and made the two whole friends I had read it, and we read it aloud to each other, and acted it out. And finally, a month or so after the movie came out, I got to see it. It was a shock at first, so different from how I’d imagined it from the book. But it wrote itself into my DNA and it’s still there, so many years later.

(no subject)

Oct. 18th, 2017 07:40 pm
skygiants: (wife of bath)
[personal profile] skygiants
I didn't deliberately read up on seventeenth-century English history history in preparation for A Skinful of Shadows; it was just a fortunate coincidence that I'd just finished Aphra Behn: A Secret Life right beforehand (thanks to [personal profile] saramily, who came into possession of the book and shoved it into my hands.)

The thing about the English Civil War and everything that surrounds it is that it's remarkably difficult to pick a team, from the modern perspective. On the one side, you've got Puritans and repressive morality and NO PLAYS OR GOOD TIMES FOR ANYONE, but also democracy and egalitarianism and a rejection of the divine right of kings and the aristocracy! On the other side, you've got GLORY IN THE DIVINELY ORDAINED KING AND THE PERFECTION OF THE ESTABLISHED SOCIAL ORDER, but also people can have a good time every once in a while and make sex jokes if they feel like it.

Anyway, one fact that seems pretty certain about Aphra Behn is that she grew up during the Interregnum and wrote during the Restoration, and was very much on Team Divine Kings Are Great. Would Puritans let a woman write saucy plays for the stage? NO SIRREE, NOT AT ALL, three cheers for the monarchy and the dissolute aristocracy!

There aren't all that many facts that are certain about Aphra Behn, especially her early years -- the first several chapters of this book involve a lot of posed hypotheticals about who she might have been, how she might have got her start, and who might have recruited her into the spying business. It does seem fairly certain she was a spy: code name Astrea, Agent 160. (Me, to [personal profile] aamcnamara, after seeing Or last month: "I don't know that I buy all that Agent 160 business, there's no way that was something they did in the 1660s!" I apologize for doubting you, Liz Duffy Adams.)

Admittedly she was the kind of spy who spent most of her spy mission stuck in a hotel in Antwerp writing irritated letters back to King Charles' intelligence bureaucracy, explaining that she would happily continue with her spying mission and do all the things they wished her to do if only they would send her enough money to PAY HER DANG HOTEL BILL. (They did not.)

Besides her unpaid expense reports, most of what is known about Aphra Behn comes from her context and her publications, and the things she wrote in them -- only some of which can absolutely definitively be traced to her at all; several of her short stories and novellas are disputed, including one of the ones I found most interesting, "Love-Letters Between A Nobleman And His Sister." This early three-volume novel is extremely thinly-veiled RPF about a wildly trashy historical trial involving King Charles' illegitimate son, his best friend, the best friend's wife, and the best friend's sister-in-law. All of these people then went on to be involved in a major rebellion, which the second and third volume of "Love-Letters" cheerfully fictionalizes basically as it was happening, in the real world.

One of the first English novels ever written by a woman [if it was indeed written by Aphra Behn], and arguably the first novel written EVER, and it's basically one of Chuck Tingle's political satires. This is kind of amazing to me.

OK, but back to things we think we're fairly sure we do know about Aphra Behn! She wrote a lot about herself talking, and about men judging her for how much she talked; she wrote a lot of things that were extremely homoerotic; she also wrote a lot about impotence; she was often short on money; she cheerfully stole other people's plots, then got mad when people accused her of stealing other people's plots; she rarely wrote anything that was traditionally romantic, and most of her work seems to have an extremely wicked bite to it. She did not read Latin, which did not stop her from contributing to volumes of translations of things from Latin. She was almost certainly not a member of the nobility, but she believed in divine right, and divine order, and divine King Charles, even though it seems likely from her writing that she did not believe personally in religion, or God, and the King probably never did pay her bills. An extremely interesting and contradictory person, living in an interesting and contradictory time.

And now I think I need to go find a good biography of Nell Gwyn - she's barely relevant to this biography (Aphra Behn dedicated a play to her, but there's no other information available about their relationship) and yet Janet Todd cannot resist throwing in a couple of her favorite historical Nell Gwyn one-liners and they're all SO GOOD.

a day of less argh :)

Oct. 18th, 2017 07:47 pm
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
[personal profile] edenfalling
I triumphed over the never-ending stack of leases, after which it was a slow-ish day. I showed two apartments and I think some of the people who went on the tour will come in tomorrow to rent an apartment, so that's nice.

I also got a raise! Only a small one, but even so. And what's nicer is that it's retroactive to June 1 (because our owner is an organized human being, really, I swear...) so I have a paper check I get to cash tomorrow. Yay unexpected extra money!

In news from my other job, today I finished one of my two tax update courses, and have registered for three live in-person continuing education classes, one of which is tomorrow night. The other two are next week, and I need to ask Miss Cactus whether she's willing to swap my Tuesday shift for her shift on either Monday or Friday, since the courses all start at 6pm and I work until 7pm on Tuesdays. (Failing that, I will ask Mom Boss if I can leave early that day.)

Continuing education requirements for tax preparers are 18 credit hours per year, allocated as follows: 13 federal tax law, 2 ethics, and 3 tax updates. You can, of course, take more than the minimum. I have currently finished 2 credits of tax law and 2 credits of tax updates. The three live courses will knock off another 9 credits of tax law, I have the second 2 credit tax update course ready to do whenever (probably Friday or Saturday), and the ethics and another 2 credits of tax law won't be too hard to knock off.

Then, of course, there are the New York state requirements, but I will deal with those in November. :)

A couple of tumblr posts

Oct. 18th, 2017 09:29 am
marthawells: (Default)
[personal profile] marthawells
* My publisher made Murderbot tattoos and sent them to me: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/166534388472/i-have-murderbot-tattoos-and-arcs-of-the


* Another quote from The Murderbot Diaries: Artifcial Condition for Book Quote Wednesday on Twitter: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/166536276597/for-book-quote-wednesday-on-twitter-the-murderbot

wherein Liz has a day of argh

Oct. 17th, 2017 10:43 pm
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
[personal profile] edenfalling
So my work day started with two tenants coming in to say they'd locked themselves out of their bathroom, continued through twenty million leases to process, and ended with another tenant coming in literally one minute before closing to say they thought they had to fill out a form, maybe...? which was actually three forms, one of which I had to generate specially and then highlight the relevant sections because nobody ever fills it out correctly otherwise. *headdesk*

I mean, at least I will get paid for the extra twenty minutes I stayed? But holy gods, argh argh and above all, argh.

(The bathroom, incidentally, was an easy fix. All it takes is a judiciously applied paperclip! But I had to go apply the fix in person because apparently tenants are bad at comprehending verbal explanations at 9am when they really need to pee. (To be fair, I probably would be as well.))

...

On the bright side, I got a two-hour tax continuing education course finished before Mom Boss dumped the never-ending leases on me, so that's something.