lydamorehouse: (Default)
 One thing I'm learning about myself is JUST HOW LONG it takes me to read a regular novel.  I'm still in the first half of Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.

I did read a number of graphic novels/manga over the last week, though.  Because I got a new review gig with Twin Cities Geek that gives me access to a ton of different forthcoming titles, I was able to read:

The Circle by Damon Clark / Alyza Zherno. My official review is posted here: Creepy Art Busts Through Horror Clichés. I also read, but haven't yet reviewed Infinite Seven by Dave Dwonch / Arturo Mesa.

I also read Haikyu!! (Volumes 1 and 2) and I'm more than half way through volume 3.  The Saint Paul library has the whole collection of them, so I though I might as well read them all.  I have volumes 4, 5, and 6 all in my TBR pile.  Haikyu! is great fun to read, but the anime might be more compelling to anyone who has never read much manga.  I mean it's a SPORTS manga and super-duper shounen on top of that. But Mason is reading these along with me, so I'm going to get pulling them out of the library until we run out.

Books on my TBR pile:

An Accident of Stars by Fox Meadows
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

And I just got a notice from the library that I have a couple others waiting for me.  But, the good news is that we're about to embark on a road trip across the American West (we're going to Yellowstone) and I'm sure there will be a lot of time for reading at the various hotels we'll be staying at.  Hopefully, I will be able to report in from Wyoming or wherever next week that I got a lot more read!

How about you?  What was your reading week like?

lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Well, this was not a great week for reading for me for some reason.  I have a TON of stuff in my TBR pile, but very little that I can report having finished.  Here's what I did get done, however:

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (Volumes 5-7) by Tsubaki Izumi.

I mean, that's three volumes, but that's all I managed in a week.  I feel kind of dumb about that. But, like I said, I have a bunch of stuff that I'm anxious to start.  Here's what's sitting on my end table next to my chair in the living room waiting for me:

Haikyu!! (Volumes 1 & 2) by Haruichi Furudate.  
Lupin III (Volumes 1-4) by Monkey Punch
Oishinbo: A La Carte, Japanese Cuisine & Oishinbo: A La Carte, Ramen and Gyoza by Tetsu Kariya/Akira Hanasaki
Invisible Boy (Volume 1) by Hotaru Odagiri
Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson
Accident of Stars by Fox Meadows
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

All of these books, outside of the Lupins, are library books, so I'd better get cracking.  

I've started A Closed and Common Orbit, which is a sequel to A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which I loved (with a few caveats. My main caveat being that, if you're the sort who really wants your science fiction to have high-octane plot, A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is not for you.  However, if you read fan fic and don't mind a travelogue with heavy characterization, this is the best book EVER.)  

I suspect I'm going to end up returning Last Year without cracking the cover.  I enjoyed Wilson's Affinities, but I'm just not sure about this one. Given that it's an interlibrary loan (and thus can not be renewed), I probably should have started it, if I wanted to get it back on time.  The yaoi manga Invisible Boy is probably going back, too, unless I decide to power through it in the next couple of days.  I could renew that one, but I've had it sitting here a long time and not been terribly drawn to it (the art style is very "wispy.")

Mason has already helped himself to Haikyu!! and I would like to catch up on these because I watched the first season of this anime and adored it. Who knew I had a space in my heart for SPORTS anime?  And this one is about volleyball of all things. But, it's so, so shounen that it's almost an accidental parody of all things shounen.  Look, the two rivals! They hate each other with a passion of a thousand burning suns, this pushes them to succeed, but WAIT, they must learn to work together on the same team!!  Can they overcome their rivalry to win?  

I picked up Accident of Stars which looks nothing like anything I would ever read because it is a Bisexual Book Award finalist. Speaking of interlibrary loan, I'm trying to get the other nominees through my library, too, because Bisexual Book Award! (I might have to try to pick up their YA books, too, though some of them are self-published....) 

The Japanese foodie books looked weird and interesting when I came across them on the St. Paul Public Library catalogue (which I was looking at while working at the Ramsey County Public Library!)  Lupin I picked up at Uncle Hugo's during their 20% off sale, because one of my favorite early anime movies was "Castle of Cagliostro," which I saw on a big screen at the Uptown Theater at midnight sometime in the 1990s, which features Lupin III.  They're really hard to read, like the art is both rough, and it honestly looks badly reproduced, but what the hey, it was 20% off.

So, that's me. Hopefully, I'll have more to report having READ next week.

How about you? What've you read? What are you looking forward to reading?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
As I mentioned yesterday, I actually got a lot of stuff read over this last week. I started and finished:


WAYPOINT KANGAROO by Curtis C. Chen. The finish was as good as the start, IMHO. Kangaroo is a combination of deep space science fiction and James Bond spy thriller, only if James Bond was a little more like a real person, albeit a real person with a superpower (the ability to open a "storage pocket" into an alternate universe.) Generally, I found WAYPOINT KANGAROO to be a fast and fun read.


Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (Volumes 1-4) by Izumi Tsubaki. As I said before, I loved this anime. (I loved it enough that I actually wrote het fan fic for it as a treat for Yuletide last year.) The story is very cute. Our heroine Chiyo Sakura has harbored a crush on Umetarou Nozaki since middle school. She finally works up the nerve to make her love confession and blurts out, "I'm your number one fan." Nozaki takes this in a weird sort of stride and... gives her his autograph. Sakura later discovers that Nozaki has been writing a very popular girl's romance under a female pseudonym. When I try to explain the humor here to people less familiar with manga, I say, "It's about gender stereotypes. It's like finding out that the captain of the high school football team is secretly writing lurid romance novels for Harlequin. And, even though he acts like a total meathead, he's super good at it, Nora Roberts level!" Part of the charm of Nozaki-kun is that Nozaki is kind of a meatball. He's the Japanese equivalent, anyway. He seems to over-think every romantic situation with the eye of a romance mangaka, but he misses the true point EVERY TIME. I can not recommend this series strong enough, though if you don't read a lot of manga, I would the anime because it's complete at one season.

Then I read the first three volumes of Behind the Scenes!! by Bisco Hatori. Hatori-sensei is most well known for her series Ouran High School Host Club which I attempted to watch, dubbed, several years ago and bounced out of. It's SO FAMOUS, however, that every once and a while I thumb through the tankobon at the library and think, "I should read this." Well, I never did, but now I've read Behind the Scenes!! which has a similar start in that our hero, Ranmaru, really just wants to get through college with the least amount of notice. He's been keeping his head down until he accidentally crashes the science fiction film club's zombie movie set and ruins the scene. Of course they're under tight deadline, so the Art Squad (those responsible for props and make-up and the support for all the film clubs on campus) gang-press him into service as an apology/retribution. Ranmaru, who come from humble fisher folk, discovers a hidden talent to make the most out of limited supplies, a skill that the perpetually broke Art Squad desperately needs. I found the first three volumes passably entertaining. I'm somewhat confused by the "negative personality" trope that Ranmaru fits in--there is a lot of weeping and feeling helpless that I find vaguely off-putting, but like Ouran, there is a large, quirky cast of supporting characters that I like a whole lot better.

Netsuai by Naono Bohra, a single volume yaoi, about two step-brothers who fall in lust/love. The only thing this one has going for it is that it's short and smutty. There's an attempt at a storyline involving a rich, traditional family, but that was mostly an excuse to break the brothers up so that they could run back to each other's arms. I'm not a big fan of these kinds of incest/pseudo-incest storylines, but no kink shaming from me. You do you. And, for my own part, this one squicked me less because even though the younger brother constantly calls his elder step-brother 'nii-san' they aren't related by blood. Their father married the elder's mother, but that's the only connection. We see a scene of the elder brother arriving in-tow.

Deadlock by Aida Saki/Takashina Yuu. I read all the available chapters of this on-going... well, technically it popped up under "yaoi" on Mangago, but there's way more romantic tension than there is actual smut, I'd be tempted to call it a prison-themed boy's love manga. Actually, if you've always wanted to know what yaoi is like but you're super-turned off by all the NSFW sex? You could consider checking out Deadlock, because there isn't even an on-screen kiss in all the eight or so chapters available on-line, yet it's very much set up like one of the more plot-heavy yaoi. The story is of a Japanese-American (I love when Japanese writers try to write Americans, btw... and this whole thing takes place in a California prison) who was a DEA investigator, Yuuto Lenex, who is framed for his partner's murder. The FBI approach him with a deal--they commute part of his sentence if Yuuto can find the mysterious prison boss going by the name 'Corvus.' All Yuuto knows about 'Corvus' is that he's a white guy with a burn scar on his back. Cue entrance of hottie white guy cellmate, Dick. I kind of feel like there should be a joke here, but Deadlock takes Dick very seriously (despite an utter lack of lowercase dick.) I enjoyed it the way you do when you're looking for prison yaoi, but I don't know that i could recommend it to anyone who wasn't at least curious about what yaoi was like....

Last night I read Princess Jellyfish (Volume 4, 2-in-1) by Ahiho Higashimura, which continues the story of the female-only otaku commune and one crossdresser's valiant attempt to save the commune from demolition by developers. You know, the plot did not advance all that much, given how many pages I read (355.) In fact, I would bet that the story has not yet advanced beyond what is shown in the anime (at least from what I can glean from Wikipedia's episode synopses.) Probably the most interesting developments are Read more... )

EDITED TO ADD: I knew I'd read so much that I'd likely forget something!  I also read all of "As the Crow Flies" a webcomic by Melanie Gilliman, which was recommended to me by Naomi and which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to you.  It's actually pretty easy to catch up. I managed it in one day.  The link will take you to the last panel, but you can either go to the archives and start at the beginning or used the big arrow to take you back to the first one.  "As the Crow Flies" is the story of Charlie, a young African-American girl, who has been drawn to attend a women-only Bible retreat. She not your typical Bible thumper, and neither is this retreat, but Charlie deals a lot with the underlying racism in the idea of 'purifying' as 'whitening' and generally wrestling with being a feminist (queer?) and a Christian.  It's a very pretty webcomic, too, with colored pencil art.  Absolutely worth checking out.

Okay, I think that's everything. I suspect next week will be much more sparse. Not only am I working both tonight and tomorrow afternoon, I'm also desperately trying to finish up this proposal package AND our friend John Jackson is coming to stay with us over the weekend. I think I'll be lucky to read a few short one-chapter yaoi!

But the books I have in my I-would-if-I-find-the-time pile:

LAST YEAR by Robert Charles Wilson (novel)
READER: Book One of Sea of Ink and Gold by Traci Chee
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (vols. 6 & 7) --I'm waiting on 5 from St. Paul Library (manga)
Invisible Boy by Hotaru Odagiri (yaoi/manga)

I also put in a request at the St. Paul Library for Haikyuu! because I saw they had them and that's another one where I enjoyed the anime, but have never read the manga.

How about you? Read anything good over the last week?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I managed to finish an actual (non-graphic) book and get halfway through another one! Go me!

I finished COMPANY TOWN by Madeline Ashby, which I liked a lot all the way to the last... oh, I dunno 50 pages or so? The action took a sudden uptick and the narrative got kind of... sketchy? Sloppy? It felt like it was missing critical bits of connective tissue. We'd jump from one scene still reeling from the events there, and be knee deep in another before really having a sense of resolution from the first moment, you know? Then, when it looks like everyone has sacrificed for the greater good, there's a plot twist that hinges on--and I'm not making this up!!--magical sex. (Not literal magic, but, like, 'whoops' we forgot the condoms so now I have your nano-bot superpower, too, just in time to save my life!)

All that being said, I liked the first part of the book a lot. Our main character Hwa, (Go Jung-Hwa) is a bodyguard for the United Sex Workers of Canada on one of the last remaining oil rigs/floating towns. The company town is being bought out by a new owner who is going to shift the industry to nuclear power. Hwa has Sturge-Weber Syndrome and, so, unlike most people, she's completely un-augmented. After a chance encounter, she ends up working for the new owners of the town. I think the thing I found compelling in the first part of the novel was the tension between Hwa and her new world. She's poor; the new owners, her bosses, the Lynch family, are über-rich. They're so augmented they're nearly cyborgs; Hwa is flesh and bone, and flawed, at that. That made for some compelling scenes/tension, IMHO. Plus, Hwa is badass.

I'm half-way through WAYPOINT KANGAROO by Curtis C. Chen, and enjoying it so far. The novel follows Kangaroo, a interstellar spy, who has a secret superpower: the ability to open up his own, private pocket universe. What I'm enjoying about Kangaroo so far is that he's kind of an anti-Bond (he keeps screwing up, is awkward with the ladies), while still having all of the fun parts of a James Bond-type character (speeder chases, Sherlock-level people/observation skills). Plus, what's not to love about James Bond in space? I also love the the pseudo-plot point, which is that Kangaroo has been sent on "vacation" to keep him out of the way while the spy department is audited, and Kangaroo SUCKS at taking it easy. (I say pseudo-plot, because it's clear that Kangaroo has stumbled into a much bigger plot.)

It's not hard to imagine that James Bond would, in fact, be terrible with downtime. And you hardly ever see that sort of thing in movies--high-adrenaline people having to deal with the fact that life is not all car chases and shoot 'em ups, so it's nice to see it explored in a novel. In that way, WAYPOINT KANGAROO almost feels like fan fiction. Fan fiction does this sort of thing a lot, i.e. asks the reader to imagine what happens when super spies have no urgent problem to solve? What happens during the downtime? Can a character like James Bond ever relax? Who is the spy when s/he is not wearing the 'persona,' the 'legend'?

So, I can't vouch for the ending of this one, but half-way through it's still quite engaging. Of course, I would have said that about COMPANY TOWN, too.

Things on my TBR pile still:

The St. Paul Public library finally coughed up volume 1 of Monthly Girl's, Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki. I started reading that, actually, but am finding the format (a series of self-contained, 4-panel shorts/one-shots) a little hard to adjust to, when I'm used to the more traditional storytelling of a manga. Luckily, I'm familiar with the anime, so I suspect when I get into it, I'll be able to rip through it pretty quickly. The art is lovely, actually, so that will help.

The other thing I picked up is the first three volumes of Behind the Scenes!! by Bisco Hatori. The story appears to follow the classic lost soul--Ranmaru Kuriso--who has spent his life apologizing for being in the way. He's drifting through his first semester of college, trying to keep his head down and away from people, when he finds himself in the way again. This time, he almost literally stumbles into the film club's shoot of a zombie horror movie. The loud, brash back stage crew adopt him. Wacky hijinks ensue. I expect that hapless Kuriso will also discover a secret superpower regarding prop construction or otherwise figure out that the back stage crew are "his tribe." Possibly there will be romance, as this manga is published by Shojo Beat.

Dear gods, do I actually have two shojo series right now?  Yes, yes, I believe I do!  How about them apples.

So, what are you reading?

lydamorehouse: (Default)
I kind of feel like an idiot that I only just discovered that on both Dreamwidth and LiveJournal, Wednesday has been a designated "What are you reading?" day for... well, probably since forever, for all I know.

I'm going to try to remember to participate, because I love reading other people's posts about their reading lists, even though lately I have been having a hell of a time consuming entire novels. I don't know if this problem has to do with mood, my dyslexia, the political situation in America, or my attention span. But, whatever causes it, I tend to ride it out by reading a LOT of graphic novels. So, since last Wednesday, I have read:

Princess Jellyfish (Volumes 2 & 3) by Akiko Higashimura: It should probably be noted that I read the two-in-one volumes of both 2 & 3, which actually brings me up to volume 6 of the traditionally packaged tankōbon. Princess Jellyfish is the story of Tsukimi, a nerd obsessed with jellyfish, who lives in a female-only commune. Her life becomes topsy-turvy when she mets Kuranosuki, the son of a high-powered politician, who likes to cross dress. The plot basically revolves around three basic questions: will the commune get sold out from under the otaku women in order to make way for a high-rise development? Will the others in the commune figure out that Kuranosuki is actually a man? And will Tsukimi fall in love with either Kuranosuki or his dorky elder brother? Princess Jellyfish is josei (basically: written for an older female audience), so, despite these romantic elements, I'm not automatically expecting a HEA. I have some caveats/reservations before I would recommend Princess Jellyfish, in particular around how 'performing femininity' seems to net the nerd girls more positive results than when they're being their authentic selves...(and I HATE that message and that trope). BUT, so far, there's enough progress in the 'hey, nerd girls have useful skills/inner beauty too!' counterpoint that I'm willing to roll with this and enjoy its whacky ensemble cast. A lot of people chimed in when I posted about this on MangaKast, because the anime is apparently VERY popular, despite there being only one season and it having been produced some time ago.

I read a number of one-shot and single volume yaoi on Sunday while I was waiting for the dozens of small batches of flieschkueckle to fry. I read Ace no Kyuujitsu by Nishida Hagishi (about a baseball star that hooks up with a cruise ship captain) and Host is Down by Nishin Matsumi (a one-shot/single chapter story of an android seemingly alone on a derelict ship).

The things I have in my queue/TBR pile right now include:


Nozaki-kun Monthly Girls
' by Izumi Tsubaki. I loved this anime and, when I saw that the Saint Paul library had copies of the manga, I decided to try reading it as well. The title character Nozaki is a high schooler who also has a "secret" life as a shojo (girls' romantic) mangaka. I have volumes 2-4, because... libraries. But, I'm not sure that's going to stop me from reading these, since I know how the story starts thanks to the anime.


Waiting for me on the hold shelf of Ramsey County's Roseville branch are:

Company Town by Madeline Ashby
The Reader by Traci Chee
Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen

So, that's what I'm reading and hoping to read... How about you?

lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Like you do.

But apparently, something didn't happen that should have when we donated our last car because we got a tabs renewal notice from the DMV for the old Taurus.  I called the Make-a-Wish people and the woman I talked to was very... helpful/not helpful.  Possibly she could have been MORE helpful if I wasn't half-asleep and had known which questions to ask while talking to her, but all I ended up getting out of our conversation was that maybe there was some part of the sale process that I didn't do.  LUCKILY, Shawn photocopied our original title, so I can bring that and the acknowledgment of sale to the DMV in Roseville (I go there because it tends to be less... soul-dead).  Hopefully, someone there will hand me the right form or be more clear about where I need to go to get the proper form (and/or tell me for sure if anything really needs to be done, because what's especially confusing is that Make-a-Wish has already SOLD my car to someone else. You'd think if I didn't do some part of the transfer of sale, that couldn't happen. But who knows? Hopefully the DMV knows.)

So, yeah, I'm avoiding going there at the moment.

I'm avoiding heading out because it's hard and I don't want to do it, but also I'm  hoping to combine this trip to Roseville with a stop in at the Roseville Library.  A manga volume that I requested has come in and I have a bunch of books that need to go back.  

I'm giving up on ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY.  I feel... badly about this.  I know and like the author, Charlie Jane Anders, and worse, there was nothing inherently wrong with this book.  In fact, I really feel like the old "It's not you, it's me" is applicable here, because what would happen is that I would start reading, enjoy myself for however long, put the book down and then forget about it completely for days at a time.  I've renewed the book once already. I could do it again, but I'm going to take this as a sign that I'm just not in the right mood for it. (Or possibly book reading, in general. As I said in my previous post, sometimes my brain only wants to consume graphic novels/manga.) So, it's not like I'm QUITTING the book. More that I'm setting it aside, for now.

You can see how guilty I feel, right?

I have a bunch of other books that I've been moving around the house rather than reading, too.  I'm hoping one of them will finally hit me at the right time/in the right headspace and I'll jump into it with both feet. I kind of hate these periods when they hit me.  I mean, it's not like I'm not reading at ALL, but some part of me still thinks of all the comic books/graphic novels/manga I read as "not proper books." Which is silly because I'm usually the first to jump up and defend graphic novels as REAL LITERATURE, because they are.  And I KNOW this.

Whelp, first day of glorious sunshine and I'm going to go spend it at the DMV. Wish me luck!

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
It's kind of grim and rainy out again this morning.  I spent almost two hours at Hy-Vee this morning.  That's the last time I go THIS LONG without doing my basic staples shopping. On the other hand, our pantry is now stocked with All The Things.  Ah, tomato soup again!

Mason is supposed to have a baseball game tonight, but I wonder if it will be cancelled due to weather.  As the person who will have to sit on the cold bleachers, I really, really hope it is.  If not, I'm bringing not only a PARKA, but also a thermos of hot chocolate.  Maybe some blankets, too.

This weekend is the March for Science.  I'm looking forward to it, because I have not been very good in the last few weeks about keeping on top of my congress-critters and local legislators. I think the last thing I did was the town hall, and there's still SO MUCH stuff to fight.  Still, I try to remind myself that this is neither a sprint NOR a marathon; it's a relay race. It's okay to hand the baton to someone else and let them run with it for a while. 

I depressed myself listening to the results from the Ossoff race in Georgia, especially the news of the midnight hour (almost literally) voting machine "glitch."  I can't help but feel that we were robbed of a straight-up win. The truth is, we'll never know, but the doubts will ALWAYS linger, especially since he had a clear lead before for the "corrupted" memory card was found. Shit like that makes me lose faith.  

I mean, yes, there was a groundswell movement. Yes, he nearly did it... but, what's that going to matter, if people start to worry that their votes aren't being legitimately counted? And, Georgia isn't the only place. We never even got a decent recount of Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania, despite best efforts.


So.... I've been reading a lot of comic books.  I've been working my way through the Hugo nominated graphic novels. So far, I read Ms. Marvel: Super Famous (Vol. 3), Black Panther: Nation Under Our Feet (vol. 1), Vision: A Little Worse Than a Man (vol. 1) and  Vision: Little Better Than a Beast (Vol.2), and Paper Girls (Vol 1.).  I started Montress: Awakening (Vol. 1), which has been interesting so far. The only one I haven't tried to get is Saga (Vol. 6) because I suspect I'd need to read the other 5 volumes to know what's going on. Pretty much everyone says I should be reading Saga, anyway, but I'm not and I'm being obstinate about starting it for some reason, probably the whole "eh, but all the cool kids are doing it, so it can't be that great." After all, I finally got around to trying Bitch Planet, and I could have done without.  Not at ALL what I was hoping for there and absolutely NOT worth the hype.

I have all the Hugo nominee novels at home, but I have not been able to really get into any of them.  As I was telling a friend of mine the other day, I go through these periods where I read a LOT of novels and other times when my brain can only handle shorter, graphic stuff.  I've been in that second phase lately.  Like, I'll sit down with a book in my lap and two seconds later I've set it down and wandered off.  The thing about graphic novels is that in two seconds, I've read half of it, so it's no as much a strain to continue on for however many more seconds it takes to finish the thing.

I also haven't been able to write much.  I'm THIS close to finishing the latest installment in my long-running Byakuya/Renji fan fic, but I just haven't been motivated to keep on with it.

I blame Trump.
lydamorehouse: (ticked off Ichigo)
I guess  I taunted the weather goddesses a little too much in my blog yesterday, because I came out of Magers & Quinn last night and snapped this picture:

snow falling outside Magers & Quinn Bookstore, Minneapolis, MN April 10, 2017

Again, if you can't see it, is shows a bookstore storefront. The awnings below a lit-up "Magers & Quinn Booksellers" sign are snow-covered. You can see grainy streaks of heavy snowfall overlaying the whole shot. The cars parked in front of the bookstore are likewise covered in snow.


Apparently, when I complained about the lack of moisture falling from the skies for the past few days, the weather Powers That Be heard my taunt to 'put up or shut up' and thought, "HA. We'll show HER. How about a half inch of SNOW, huh? YOU LIKE THAT, PUNK???!!"

I did not.  

It was fairly horrific to drive home in--there were points on the highway where I was fairly certain I was making up my own lane lines, since I really couldn't see where they were supposed to be...and that's never a safe feeling.  But I made it home fine, andI am happy to report,that  the new car handles like a dream in slippery weather.  I mean, the new car is funny.  Patrick, that is.  He's like a stately, yet somewhat cranky old man. He just doesn't do fast, even when you'd really like him to have a bit more pick-up and go.  So, to say he 'handled well,' really means that he was just not fussed to go any faster than all that and so took the turns and such in his own damn good time.  That's Patrick for you. He's kind of stubborn like that.  A good car, though. I'm still very happy with it. Especially pleased to have heated seats last night. (And a heater that works!)

The reading itself could not have gone better. Remember how cranky *I* was about Magers & Quinn not being able to get any copies of Precinct 13? Well, they managed it in the end. There were several copies available for sale when I came in. I was so pleased that I decided that whatever didn't sell, I'd just buy myself, because I always need giveaway copies around. I think I ended up taking home three of them (which was about half what they ordered, I'd guess. So a good night for them, too, I'd think).

The readers were all lovely. We were gender balanced (almost exactly), though all of us were white (as far as I could tell). There was a band that played songs as intermissions, which was... fancy?  There was wine and cheap snacks on a little table. We read at a podium with a microphone. I felt like I did pretty well. The story excerpt I read was from "Everything in Its Place" a story that I significantly revamped for this anthology, but which I originally sold to Tales of the UnAnticipated back in the day. (TOTU gets first publishing credit.)  When Eric first published "Everything..." he told me he didn't like the ending, which was bleak.  I'd conceived it as a horror story, really.  But, he asked me to rework it, and so I did.  It ended up still dark, but the ending has the heroine making peace with 'the thing' that lives with her.  A good, possibly better ending, but not my original intent. For the anthology I revised it back to its original, more horrific ending

One of the many nice things about having an archivist for a wife, is that I still HAD a readable electronic copy of my original. I'd saved it as Thing One (the version I sent to Eric which eventually sold to him was labeled, naturally, Thing Two.) But, it was.. clunky. So I had to do some significant revision.  I guess now I have a Thing Three, which completely ruins the Seuss reference.

Tonight, I teach!  

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
I finally got around to reading Lumberjanes written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis / art by Brooke Allen


Here is a picture of the cover of volume one which you might not be able to see. It features the five main characters: Ripley, April, Jo, Molly, and Mal (in Stevenson style, which is hard to explain so go look at the cover of Nimona). Lumberjanes are a kind of Girl Scouts on steroids estrogen, plus these five particular girls keep running into monsters that are far from the average. Each issue collected starts with a little excerpt from the the Lumberjanes handbook, done in a tongue-in-cheek "Miss Manners" style, about how proper young ladies should behave when confronted with the Wilderness. Each one starts out sounding like something horrible from the 1950s, but ends with implications of bad-assery, ala, "A young lady should be well versed in how to cook. After all, her knife skills may come in handy when confronting a mutated grizzly." (That's my example. Stevenson and Ellis are cleverer than I. Unfortunately, I already returned the volumes or I'd give you something actually from the text. But they're very much in that vein.)

At times, for me, the characters were trying a bit too hard to be... hip? I dunno, I guess I mean whatever you kids are calling 'cool' these days... or clever. Mostly, however, I liked them. Jo was, of course, my favorite even before Read more... ) Likewise, Mal and Molly, the lesbian (or at least in love with each other) couple were runners-up.  Of them, though I liked Molly a little better, if only because she seemed nerdy in a way I could relate.  Mal, though, at least, physically looked like me--in college--but, in college, I used to complain that the butchest lesbian we ever saw on TV was Willow from "Buffy," and that wasn't saying much. So, it's really nice to see the butch, punk girls not only being represented but also allowed to secretly/not-so secretly be very NOT butch when it comes to being brave, etc.

The stories themselves impressed me less than the characters.  If you're really hoping for something whiz-bang in terms of storytelling, I'd say go read (or re-read) Nimona. But, if, instead, as one of the Lumberjanes slogans goes "Friendship to the Max" is more your thing, then you will enjoy the heck out of Lumberjanes.

I will say that, in this current political climate, Lumberjanes was exactly what I needed. I got through many nights by pouring myself a hot bath and settling into soak for a good long time while reading Lumberjanes. I used Lumberjanes the way I used "Free! Iwatobi Swim Club" and "Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories" ... which is to say, I turned to them when my brain needed something vaguely mindless, but ultimately happy/satisfying.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 It's been a long time since I reviewed a comic book here.  But, when I was working at Shoreview today, I saw that they had the first collected volume of FAITH.

Don't know if the picture thing is going to work, so I will describe the cover: Faith is a plus-sized white woman with blond hair. She's featured on the cover sitting on a telephone wire surrounded by confused-looking pigeons while she types something on her thinly-disguised Mac Book (the actual Apple logo is not there, but there's a perfectly round bit of light where it should be). She is dressed in a white outfit with a flowing train. Her cheerful face is illuminated by the blue computer light in the twilight. Her name, Faith, is in bright yellow almost comic sans font.  The comic is produced by the independent publisher, Valiant.

faith comic book cover

What I like about Faith is not her size.  It is refreshing to see a woman of substance doing the superhero-ing for once. It's even more refreshing that there's not a single lick of fat-shaming to be found in the title.  The worst that happens in that vein is that Faith's ex's new girlfriend mutters, "You sure traded up." 

What I ended up liking about FAITH, though, is that it starts to struggle with real-world issues of being a hero.  As any of you who have read this blog for any amount of time (or who have heard me speak on comic book/graphic novel-related comic books) knows, I'm a big fan of this kind of thing.

I really like it when the concept of hero-ing is taken seriously.  

In the second issue of FAITH, we see this dealt with in terms of collateral damage.  Faith has gone to investigate a missing person report and the bad guy minion she encounters in the abandoned house has rigged the place to explode. Faith is protected because she has a kind of telekinetic shield, but the houses on either side of the abandoned house ALSO CATCH FIRE.  I can't say you never see this sort of thing in comics because the Marvel Universe (both in the comic books and the MCU) have been very cognizant of the idea that superheroes are actually fairly hazardous to civilians, but I never get tired of seeing writers taking on this particular issue. Francis Portela does a great job showing the pain on Faith's faith in the aftermath.  Generally, I should say that as much as I like Jody Houser's writing, it is very much highlighted by Portela's art style.  (There also also funny imagined/day-dreamed asides/omake drawn by Marguerite Sauvage that were in a very distinct style that I also liked a lot.) 

Also, FAITH fits a new trend in female comic lead characters. Like Kamala Khan, Faith is a fangirl.  The dialogue is chock full of geek insider references. Faith even swears in "Firefly" Chinese, at one point. As a day job, Faith works for some kind of web content place, like io9 or Mental Floss (though with a more celebrity gossip bent, since this takes place in LA). Her colleagues are all pop culture nerds, and they have no idea she's a superhero in disguise.  Did I like this or did it feel like it was trying too hard to appeal to the base?  I'm not sure.  Goodness knows, I appreciate any fan fic references.

The other issue FAITH addresses is the extent to which having a secret identity is socially isolating.  I'm not sure how often that idea has been touched on before, but I found it very compelling here.  

The last thing to know is that Zephyr/Faith has a history as a Valiant superhero.  I'm not a big Valiant reader so I have to trust Wikipedia on this one, but apparently she was part of a superhero group (referenced in this reboot).  Apparently, she was a walking fat joke (she was known as Zeppelin--she's dressed all in white and can fly) in a group called Harbingers (or maybe that was the title and her team was the Renegades?) At any rate, some of that bleeds through into this issue, but I can attest from experience (or perhaps LACK of experience) that it's not necessary to have read any of her previous appearances to appreciate this reboot.   

I give is 3.5 out of 5 stars.  My hesitations mostly hinge on the fact that I'm not sure I really needed all the nerd-sassy references, and that some of the issues touched on could have gone deeper, IMHO.
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile) that you walk away with ART.

I ended up buying $40 worth of blank cards before last night's panel discussion/reading even started at the AZ Gallery. I couldn't help it. For one the cards all featured Saint Paul landmarks, and secondly, they were f*cking gorgeous! My pen pals NEED these, you understand. NEED.

Besides, I figure that supporting my hosting venue is never a bad idea.

The panel itself went well, for the most part. Ironically, we were somewhat hijacked by a guy in the audience ("that guy") who wanted all HIS questions answered. So, I guess we were basically a living example of the whole 'things that happen when you bring up feminism on the internet.' Except not QUITE that egregious.

I always feel a little... awkward on these panels because I read a LOT of women who are publishing currently, and so I tend to baulk when people suggest that there's a huge dearth of female voices or that we somehow didn't 'break in' to SF/F until yesterday.  I tried temper my comment by pointing out that it seems pretty clear to me that the issue has to do with how are voices are perceived--the whole idea that if women make up 30% of the discussion, they're perceived as dominating.  The percentage of women writing SF/F in the past has always stayed under the radar of that threshold.  Now that we're reaching PERCEIVED parity, people are squawking that we're taking over.  

Which I hope made my, "Yes, but there *is* a published author who wrote about X" a little less annoying. (If you're curious about the context, it was suggested that in science fiction women rarely worry about menstruation, I pointed out that, ACTUALLY, Monica Byrne wrote about it in GIRL IN THE ROAD, and I could also have brought up that you could have called the main theme of BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE by Meg Elison 'what the f*ck are we going to about our periods in the apocalypse?' TBF, the point of % representation still stands, that's two books I could think of out of how many?) 

So, it was a good panel, I'd say.  Anything that makes *me* think about how I talk about women writers is well worth it, you know?  

The reading went well, too. With luck, I drew a few more people into my work.  

lydamorehouse: (shield)
 Last night I had a reading at Magers & Quinn in Uptown.  I kind of wanted to bail on the whole thing, of course.  Like a lot of people I know, I spent much of yesterday breaking out into uncontrolled sobbing.  But, we were talking about Women in Science Fiction and I'd made a promise.  Moreover, the bookstore had made a concerted effort to have my books available and so I didn't want to let anyone down.

I didn't think anyone would come. Most of us are so shattered and the topic seemed so... I mean, as I was telling friends of mine earlier, I was feeling so beaten down that I was afraid that all I would manage was to burst into tears an say, "Why bother!? Misogyny won!"  But, again, I thought, no, this is important.  I need to do this.  Besides, it's just a reading.  If no one comes we can go to the bar and cry.

But people came.

I was supposed to meet my fellow panelists early at a nearby restaurant, but with traffic, my mood, and everything else, I didn't manage it.  So I ended up at Magers & Quinn early and watched people come in.  One of the first was a friend of mine from fandom, Sybil, who was still leaking tears as she talked about friends of hers who were seriously considering suicide.  I had no words.  We all feel so hopeless.  But, I offered a hug and my sympathy.

By the time we started, the house was actually packed.  It was standing room only as we started to tentatively talk about what it's like being a woman writing in a predominantly male dominated field.  I talked about my added issues as a queer writer.  We were sharing "war stories."

Out of the blue, in the back of the audience sharp words were exchanged. A chair went sliding.  Someone got shoved into the stacks. I heard a sickening, wet-crunch of a punch being thrown.  Everyone was so shocked it took a minute to even understand what was happening, but then people dialed 9-1-1, some guys rushed back to break up the violence. The aggressors stalked out with threats of "we'll see you outside." To which we responded, with, "No, we're calling the cops." No one knows what started it.  Maybe a fight over a chair offered?  Maybe thugs looking for PoC to beat up on?  But the aggressors didn't seem particularly white (I would have said they were Hispanic, but they did not read as white, regardless), and they punched a white guy....? Were they looking for a white guy to hit (weird place given that everyone there were allies and the room was very much dominated by women and several other PoCs, including the victim's wife and children)? What hell happened?  It was crazy.  Beyond crazy to surreal.

I have never attended a reading/panel discussion that broke out into violence before in my life. I can only assume that this random violence was the angry version of my random tears.  Something uncontrollable, volatile, hopeless.  It might have been an attack on PoCs/queers/women, but what weird place to go looking for us!  Why chose a bookstore when Uptown is full of taverns and clubs?

But what is even more astounding to me is that the reading went on.

After the aggressors stalked out, the cops called, the victim tended to... we went on.  People stayed. No only did they stay, but we managed to talk about why what we're doing is important. People listened, people spoke, people asked questions... I cried randomly once, but we also managed--AFTER ALL THAT--to laugh, all of us, together.  

I can't even begin to really process or understand what happened, but, despite how awful it was, we went on, you know?  One step at time.  One moment at a time.  And we found a way to survive.  More than that, we survived and thrived, together.
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 On Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis at 7:00 PM I'll be doing a "Writers in Conversation" with a number of other Twin Cities authors !  

It'll be the day after the election and I'm sure you need an excuse to dig yourself up out of your blanket fort and be social with some really cool people!

From their events page:

Wednesday, November 9, 7:00pm - Magers And Quinn Booksellers (map)


Writers in Conversation: Local authors Victorya Chase, Kelly Barnhill, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, and Lyda Morehouse discuss women in science fiction and writing female protagonists, along with a brief reading

Victorya Chase is a writer and educator living in the the Midwest where she works in medical education teaching the importance of narrative competency and understanding the various cultural and personal stories at play in the exam room. Her writing has appeared in Cemetery Dance, Lamplight, and The Unlikely Journal of Entomology. She is the author of Marta Martinez Saves the World.

Kelly Barnhill writes novels for children and short stories for adults and poetry that she whispers in the dark when no one is listening. Her first novel, The Mostly True Story of Jack, received four-starred reviews, and her second, Iron Hearted Violet, received a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Her most recent novel is The Witch’s Boy. Kelly lives on a city street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a field and a creek behind her house. A coyote runs by every morning at six a.m. and a heron flies over her yard just before the sun sets on slow summer evenings. Kelly is a fast runner and a steady hiker and a good camper. She also makes delicious pie. She has received grants and awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, Intermedia Arts, and the Loft. She has three very smart kids and one very smart husband and a dog who she believes might be one thousand years old. No one can say for sure. (The dog, incidentally, is very smart too.)

Abra Staffin-Wiebe has sold stories to publications including Jim Baen's Universe and She specializes in optimistic dystopian SF, modern fairy tales, cheerful horror, liquid state steampunk, dark humor, and heartwarming grotesqueries. She spent several years living abroad in India and Africa before marrying a mad scientist and settling down to live and write in Minneapolis. Discover more of her fiction at her website,, or find her on the social media site of your choice.

Lyda Morehouse writes about what gets most people in trouble: religion and politics. Her first novel Archangel Protocol, a cyberpunk hard-boiled detective novel with a romantic twist, won the 2001 Shamus for best paperback original (a mystery award given by the Private Eye Writers of America), the Barnes & Noble Maiden Voyage Award for best debut science fiction, and was nominated for the Romantic Times Critic's Choice Award. She followed up Archangel Protocol with three more books in the AngeLINK universe: Fallen Host (Roc, 2002), Messiah Node (Roc, 2003), and Apocalypse Array(Roc, 2004). Apocalypse Array made the short list for the Philip K. Dick award. She lives in Saint Paul with her partner of twenty years and their amazingly adorable son, Mason.

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
I feel somewhat responsible for the snow that fell this morning.  I was out of coffee in the house and decided to 'turn that frown upside down!' by using that as an excuse to fetch a fancy latte for me and muffins for my family.  At the coffee shop, I was talking to the barista about the weather (like you do in Minnesota) and I said, "It's raining, but I wish it would snow, instead."  Everyone in the coffee shop looked at me like I'd sprouted a second head.  Thing is, it's only February.  The warm is nice, but it's not natural.  More than that, it's going to break our hearts when it does start snowing again, because March hasn't even started yet!

Here on Sunday evening, I can say I've had a pretty good weekend.  

Mason had the day off on Friday, and so we ended up taking a friend of his Christy out to lunch and Japanese candy shopping at United Noodle.  Then, she came over to ours for a little otaku bonding, aka watching anime on our TV in the basement.  The funniest interaction I overheard was this:

C: Um, so... would you be willing to watch dubbed?
M: Oh. In English. Um, yeah, sure, I guess.
C: A true otaku friend! Someone who prefers sub, who will watch dub with you!

Meanwhile, upstairs, I was thinking: Man, I don't know if I like anyone THAT much.

That same night, I had an invitation to a board gaming night at a friend's house. Shawn and Mason were also invited, but they are true introverts and had filled up on their people quotients.  Mason was pooped from having entertained Christy, and Shawn has been having to deal with Swedes all week (guests to the Minnesota Historical Society, naturally, but Shawn has been required to do those dinner out with work colleagues things that tire her out).  So, I went to the party on my own, which was still a great deal of fun. I played <a href="">Cash 'n Guns</a>, which was a tremendous amount of fun, and had also brought along a card game called <a href="">Sushi-Go</a>, which Shawn had bought the family for Solstice, but none of us had figured out the rules.  The nice thing about bringing along a game you haven't played before to a party like that was that someone usually has played it and/or is willing to read through the rules and figure it out with/for you. It was a fairly fun game.  Low-key, I'd say.  Not like getting to point a foam gun at your former martial arts head instructor.  

Saturday was the insanely beautiful day here, and, so of course, I had to work.  It was one of my tiny 3 hour shifts, however, at North Saint Paul.  I really enjoy working there because not only is my shift super-short (3 hours, from noon to three,) but also so is the library.  It's so small that usually by the time someone turns in a book, we can have it back on the shelves within the hour.  There just aren't that many books (or patrons.) Plus, I've done so many shifts for them there that the regular patrons sort of know me and the staff trusts me enough to set me up on the desk or wherever and get their other, backlogged work done.  Which makes me feel useful.  

Today, I just didn't feel like doing much, and I absolutely managed it.  I mean, I did some basic maintenance things like taking out the garbage and doing the dishes, but a lot of they day was spent like a Sunday should be, IMHO: relaxing. I finished a book that is up for the PKD award, (R)evolution by PJ Manney, which I'll have plenty to say about on Tuesday, when my review goes up on BitterEmpire.  (Not a good book, IMHO. Actually, I'm kind of surprised there hasn't been a fail, because there is much fail in this book.)  Last night, I started Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong.  I can no longer remember which award that one was up for, but I had to read it because of the title.  I should probably be reading either of the last two PKD nominees: Brenda Cooper's Edge of Dark or Windswept by Adam Rakunas.  I will say I've hesitated to rush out to get Cooper's book.  I was not overly fond of Creative Fire, the first book in the series that this new one continues.  I just bought Windswept for my Kindle, so we'll see if that one is any good.

I have to say the PKD has been a mixed bag this year.  I liked both Archangel and After the Saucers Landed quite a bit, but the rest have been a really mixed bag (including one serious stinker.)  I feel like last year the quality was consistently much higher.  Out of the 5 books I read (I skipped the short story collection), all of them were at LEAST more than passably entertaining and well written, if not knock-your-socks-off amazing like Memory of Water, Elysium and Book of the Unnamed Midwife.

There are new judges every year, and I did a little research into the two groups (not hard, as their names are published on the PKD awards page.)  Out of the five judges, one was a woman... The previous year, the year with all the books I found fantastic?  THREE out of the five were women (and women I know and respect like Ellen Klages and Laura J. Mixon.)  

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
I decided to do one more year reviewing award-nominees.

I will admit that part of the reason that I agreed to do the same challenge again (particularly in my role as SF/F book reviewer for Bitter Empire) is that I'm going to be attending WorldCON this year--and this is going to be another Year of the Puppy and I might like to be able to do some live-tweeting of the award ceremony for BE.

I have a couple of books that I'm reading to finish out last years' awards, but the Philip K. Dick Award nominees are out:

Edge of Dark, Brenda Cooper (Pyr)
After the Saucers Landed, Douglas Lain (Night Shade)
(R)evolution, PJ Manney (47North)
Apex, Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)
Windswept, Adam Rakunas (Angry Robot)
Archangel, Marguerite Reed (Arche)

I just bought Archangel for my Kindle, partly out of favoritism and curiosity.  A number of my Facebook friends are friends with Marguerite Reed and so I'm deeply curious what her book is going to be like.

I'm looking forward to doing this again, if only because I have to say this last year exposed me to a lot of books that I otherwise normally would never have sought out. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith?  Yeah, I probably would have looked at that description and thought, "NOPE." (But I ended up really loving it.)  And there have been a lot of UK and British awards that exposed me to people I just wasn't terribly familiar with, but, at least in one case, now adore.  Frances Hardinge, for instance.  She's the author of Cuckoo's Song, which I adored, and The Lie Tree, which I just finished because that one was up for an end-of-the-year award.

Also, it's really good for me to have a structure to have to try to follow.  I tend to flounder around when I'm just randomly trying to pick book for myself.  

Anyway, I don't have a lot of other news.  I'm mostly just surviving the continued threat of Mercury Retrograde.  Yesterday, the planet's malevolent influence was mostly felt through some minor-to-midland bickering about school work with Mason.  It worked out in the end, but it made the start to the morning more difficult.  Today was forgotten gym clothes--which we remembered in time to turn around a fetch, but caused a slight kerfluffle.  Shawn's back has also gone out, so that's less that optimal, as they say.  So we continue to limp along... stumbling at every turn.  

lydamorehouse: (Default)
I have so many books out from the library for my award-nominee challenge right now, that I stopped to take inventory and found one I could NOT find on my lists.

OTHERBOUND by Corrine Duyvis

So I tried Googling the title and "award" and got a bunch of hits, but nothing I was expecting. Then I see that there's a Bi Writer's Association that gives out a spec fic category award and this book (along with others are up for it.)

Bisexual Speculative Fiction [Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror]

Capricious: A Texan Tale of Love and Magic by Julie Cox, Circlet Press
Climbing the Date Palm by Shira Glassman, Prizm Books/Torquere Press
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis, Amulet/Abrams
The Pendragon Legacy [Book 1-Sons of Camelot series] by Sarah Luddington, Mirador Publishing
That Door is a Mischief by Alex Jeffers, Lethe Press

So... now I have these to add, if I want to. But, I finally figured out where the title came from. Otherbound had been on the Locus recommended reading list for debut authors and I'd jotted it down back WHEN I DIDN'T HAVE A THOUSAND OTHER TITLES TO READ. So, I guess I could still read it since I found an award for it....


(I may have a book hoarding problem.)
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
Eric Flint wrote very eloquently about one of the real issues with the Hugo on his blog. The whole thing is interesting, but I think he has a very valid point about how science fiction/fantasy gets consumed. Casual-to-moderately-serious fans don't read nearly as much short fiction as we did, say, back when the Hugos were first developed/conceived. (Hence, those awards get voted on and decided by a fairly small number of fans... and why they were 'easy pickings' for a block vote.)

He suggests some solutions (some of which I agree with, others I'm not as sure about), but, either way, the Hugos by-laws aren't going to get changed overnight.

Thus, in the meantime, to fairly nominate in the short fiction categories, I'm going to have to read more short fiction!

I've been thinking about how to do this. I thought that maybe, in addition to my nominee book challenge, I'd challenge myself to try to read two or three short pieces of fiction a week. Thing is, there are several magazines that now offer podcasts, so I can listen to the stories as I do other things (like boring housework.) Normally, this is where I watch my anime, but I can set aside one or two episodes a week for this project, I figure.

On the weekends, I'm going to have to track down stories to read. Because otherwise, I would be only nominating from magazines that have podcast versions of their stories.

Then, I thought, I'd make a list of what I'm reading here for you to check out, if you're so inclined. If you're doing something similar this year, drop me a link, and I'll follow your recommendations/reviews/lists, too.

I'll be honest (or, if you prefer, 'transparent'): I totally plan to keep a running list of the short stories my friends write and publish. I think it's pretty clear people have always done this and that there's nothing wrong with it, so long as I don't compel several dozens of cohorts armed with the exact same list to vote as I do.

Instead, I intend to post them here for your consideration along with everything else I read. I will clearly indicate who is my friend and who isn't. (I can tell you right now, it'll probably be Eleanor Arnason and Naomi Kritzer and any other Wyrdsmith who sells a story this year.)


So, this week, I listened to/read:

“We’ll Be Together Forever” by Joseph Allen Hill (Lightspeed, April 2015, #59).

“Let Baser Things Divide,” by Berrien C. Henderson (Clarkesworld, April 2015, #103)

The first one is a story of a love potion gone wrong and is kind of a foodie horror story. The second is about an "elevated" chimpanzee and a revived space program. It's also very sad, but it has some interesting things to say about humanity and primates and the echoes of each in the other.

This year, so far, Naomi Kritzer has had a number of short stories published. If you’re so inclined check them out:

“Wind” in Apex Magazine (April 2015)
“Cat Pictures” in Clarkesworld Magazine (January 2015)
“Jubilee” in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Jan/Feb 2015)--which, sadly, has no online version.

Of these, my personal favorite is "Cat Pictures," because it's one of those ideas that just feels like it would be True, i.e. that if the internet became sentient it would totally want more cat pictures. :-)

"Jubilee" is another Seastead story, if you've been following Beck's adventures in the previous F&SF issues. If not, it can totally be read independently. Beck lives on a Libertarian seastead in the future and her world is fascinating, and each story she ends up having to use her resources to solve some major problem/mystery. They're almost like amateur detective stories in a Libertarian future world, and I enjoy them very much any time they come through critique.

"Wind" is a fascinating story about magical promises going wrong.

in the same issue of F&SF, Eleanor Arnason had a great story:

“Telling Stories to the Sky,” Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Jan/Feb 2015)--also without link, alas, but well worth tracking down if you can. This is one of Eleanor's many stories that deal with an aspect of writing in one way or another.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
This weekend, the only thing I had 'on' was a Loft "First Pages" at Maplewood Library at 2:00 pm on Saturday. I was meant to be facilitating "Novel Writing for Teens." At last count, they had seven students signed up.

And... it was so gorgeous outside that not a SINGLE SOUL showed up.

I would feel bad about it, but this is fairly typical for these Loft First Pages, in my experience. I don't know if other instructors have an easier time getting warm bodies to fill chairs, but I have had zero luck. I think the MOST successful one had, maybe, three students? Talking a little to the teen librarian at Maplewood, we decided that a big part of it is that it's generally hard to get teenagers to make a concerted effort to come to an event like this (which is to say, free and of unknown value,) especially given all the other choices available (or required, ala soccer or what-have-you.) Add on top of that one of the first truly spectacular days of spring?

Yeah, I'm not surprised no one came.

I get paid regardless. The whole idea of "First Pages," actually, is that they're meant to be drop-in and casual. I'm supposed to be ready to facilitate (notice my careful avoidance of the words teach or instruct) anywhere from ten to one participants. They specifically chose facilitators who are flexible and ready to offer any kind of help/lecture/prompts, etc. So, if I sit there for 90 minutes and chat with the librarian, so be it. The whole idea is that if someone wanders in with 3 minutes to spare, I give them whatever they might need in that time. The Loft only asks that I'm there and that I'm ready for whoever shows and whatever they want to talk about.

Plus, the librarian I chatted with on Saturday is THE person who is responsible for Maplewood's extraordinary graphic novel, comic book, and manga collection. So, we had things to natter on at each other about, no problem!

Then Sunday was gray and rainy and a perfect day to cuddle up and read. I finished a book I really enjoyed called A DARKLING SEA by James L. Cambias. I found this book on the Locus Award's long list in the debut author section. The story takes place on an alien planet where the life there is a lot like the things they've found here at the deep ocean depths--volcanic vents that support huge colonies of life. Human are there doing research and things go off the tracks pretty early and soon enough there's first contact with the natives *and* then the arrival of a third alien race that we'd previously made contact with who are unhappy with our "meddling."

It's a quick read, too.

Now I'm about a hundred pages into PEOPLE IN THE TREES by Hanya Yanagihara, which I'm also finding really gripping. This one is a written as though it's a biography of a famous scientist, complete with a forward and footnotes. I chose to read this one first because it's the one due back at the library soonest, plus it's also one of the ones that was up for a Kitschie and I seem to be going through those for Bitter Empire.

I also bounced out of LAGOON by Nnedi Okorafor after about 30 pages. In this book, Okorafor does a lot of what I'd call "head-hopping" (where the narrative switches p.o.v. without any obvious transition or other signaling, like a space break, etc.) and I got lost really quickly. Plus, I felt a little robbed when one of the major events (alien contact??) was glossed over and told in disjointed flashbacks (little one-liners from various p.o.v. characters). So I felt really unanchored, like I was just floating through the story without any sense of who I should care about or why. So, I set it aside. I might or might not give it another try later. It's probably just a style issue, but I've given up on other books in this challenge, some of them much further in, like Ann Leckie's ANCILLARY SWORD. (Interestingly, I bounced out of MOST of the books up for the Nebula this year.)

I'm not sure what to do about the books that I bounce out of, but since I'm doing this mostly for myself, I've been trying to give the books I read a "fair" chance to grip me. I arbitrarily decided to give most books 50 pages. I didn't quite make that with LAGOON, but I also gave up on GOBLIN EMPEROR after only about 20 or 25 pages (that one was just too high fantasy for me.)

Honestly? I feel a little guilty admitting to giving up on books, especially books I've challenged myself to try to read. But, the truth is, I'm actually a slow reader due to my dyslexia. Because it's hard for me to read, if I'm not INTO a book, I slow down exponentially. I COULD push my way through some of these books, but I think it would be at the detriment to how many books I'll be able to read and finish this year (and possibly massive library overdue fines!) I don't know that the number of books I get read is really all that important, but I also don't really intend to review anything I didn't finish.... so... I dunno.

Some of these books, I could return to. And maybe I will. But I might as well read the ones that grip me first. I feel like, at least, I'm getting a good sampling of what's out there and up for awards, and some books I gave a hundred or more pages--I gave up on both ANCILLARY SWORD and THREE-BODY PROBLEM well after 100 pages. I kept going with both of those because, particularly Leckie, is up for SO MANY awards and THREE-BODY PROBLEM is that book that everyone is talking about. (I dropped out of both those books, interestingly, because I just didn't care that much. The authors failed to give me a human/heart to hang on to, and I'm just not an idea-driven reader. I need to have some reason to care beyond 'whiz-bang.' And, I'm very fond of whiz-bang, as I read a lot of graphic novels/comic books/manga. But trust me, all the ones of those I love also have a human core--I don't need much, just something or someone whose story affects me.)

At any rate, I thought I'd confess all that here. Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned...
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
Today is the first day of MarsCON.

Looks like registration opens at noon, but I haven't had enough coffee yet to figure out when Opening Ceremonies is... I do have a panel at 4 PM, which I planned to arrive in time for. Hopefully, they won't need me too much before that since I have to pick Mason up after school, and he's not usually out until after 3 PM.

It's going to be a bit of a mad dash.

I've got a reading tonight and, of course, it finally hit me that what I should read from is the book that will be available there: SONG OF SECRETS, which I co-wrote with Rachel Calish. Depending on how much of that I want to read, I could also read part of my short story "God Box" which appeared in KING DAVID AND THE SPIDERS OF MARS as I'm thinking about bringing copies of that book along as well.

My schedule tonight is:

How Come Nobody’s Heard Of Me, Dammit!!
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) -- Friday 04:00 pm
Let’s figure out all the things we did wrong!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam

Fiction Reading: Lyda Morehouse
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) —Friday 08:00 pm
Come hear our Author Guest of Honor read her work.
With: Lyda Morehouse

FanFiction - Who, What, and Huh?
IV Hawk’s Ridge (Anime/YA) — Friday 09:00 pm
From the basics for the beginners to your favorite websites to share your own stories.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rakhi Rajpal mod, Bailey Humphries-Graff, Susan Woehrle

In other news, Shawn is doing a lot better. She's still sleeping a lot, but I suspect that's what comes from removing an organ. But, she's otherwise back to doing most of the things she does. She's still restricted on lifting and OMG I can't wait until that's over, because I HATE DOING LAUNDRY SO MUCH.

I do a lot of other things around the house, including nearly all of the cooking and dish washing, but laundry has always been Shawn's thing and I can't wait for her to take it back. Also, I'm ready for her to go back to work, if only because the longer she stays home the more likely she is to notice how little ELSE I do around the house.


I just got the notice that THREE-BODY PROBLEM is ready for me to pick up at the Roseville library. I'm headed there in about a half hour to also return ANCILLARY SWORD, which *cough*I didn't finish.*cough* This will now be two out of the six books up for the Nebula that I just couldn't finish for one reason or another. As I was saying to Shawn last night, there's nothing _wrong_ with ANCILLARY SWORD, per se. I gave it a fair chance: nearly 200 pages. I just never got really engaged in the story. I found the world.. too stiff and formal and unemotional (which is weird because I think it's loosely based on Japan or China--there is a lot of bowing and tea and begging of pardons), and so I never connected. For me, it suffered from a whole lot of 'so what?' I finally found a character I sort of enjoyed, the alien translator, and, well, not to spoil anything, but let's just say my attachment to that person was short-lived.

I feel very strange about my inability to connect to either this or ANCILLARY JUSTICE, since so many people recommended the first book to me and it was up for nearly all the awards last year. I feel like I failed this book. Like there's something wrong with me that I didn't 'get' it.

Certainly, there are nifty things going on in Leckie's universe. I love the idea of the ancillary's themselves, even with their gruesome past. I love (though found it somewhat off-putting and jarring at first) the whole use of the feminine pronoun for all the things. Leckie's writing is strong--for the most part.

Leckie is hobbled by the constraints of her main character, Berq, though. Because Berq used to be a ship (for real, she was a space ship), she's not exactly *in* her body. She's not sensual in any way. There's no physical description of other characters beyond basics like skin color and a bit about hair. Gender, of course, is never attached. Which is so much the opposite of the other books I've read by women this year--so much body: so much sex with the body, so much awareness of the body's gender, so much indulging of the body with food (glorious food!) and pissing and shitting and bleeding and f*cking.

And I miss it.

I feel "floaty" and unanchored without it.

Add to that the emotionlessness of Berq and her culture, and I'm lost. Berq often has to *tell* me what she's feeling, rather than showing it physically (also something to do with this emotionless culture Berq is from). "I'm angry all the time" I read, and I thought, "You are? Since when? and Why?" (which seems like a major misstep, if I'm supposed to have known, much less felt it, too.)

Because of all this, I end up just not feeling it. Any of it.

I really wanted to like this book too. And I just didn't.

At any rate, I intend to bring my laptop with me to MarsCON over this weekend, so hopefully, I can regale you all with daily con reports.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
Well, I certainly won't get all the award nominees read BEFORE the awards are announced, but I guess I never said that was my goal, per se. And, the year is long... which is good, because yet another award was announced yesterday. The Lambda Literary Award, which is for GLBT fiction in general, but which I include because it has a speculative fiction category. This year's finalists for the SF/F/Horror Lambda are:

Afterparty, Daryl Gregory, Tor Books
Bitter Waters, Chaz Brenchley, Lethe Press
Butcher’s Road, Lee Thomas, Lethe Press
Child of a Hidden Sea, A. M. Dellamonica, Tor Books
Full Fathom Five, Max Gladstone, Tor Books
FutureDyke, Lea Daley, Bella Books
Skin Deep Magic, Craig Laurance Gidney, Rebel Satori Press

Tor Books (a major, traditional NY publisher) is well represented. More men* on this list, but I'm very excited that I have an excuse to hunt down my friend Alyx Dellamonica's book, Child of a Hidden Sea. Out of 7, only 2 are easily identified as women. But, of course, for Tempest's challenge they would have all qualified because they are (presumed) part of the queer community in one way or another.

Also, how could anybody not want to read a book called FutureDyke??

Last night, I got about 50 pages into Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. Leckie is a writer that we argued about a little on my FB feed because, at one point, we were trying to list women who wrote "hard" science fiction. I suppose you could split a hair with a molecule slicer, and say, no, this is technically space opera, but there are AI/cyborgs and space ships. I don't know how much more skiffy you need your SF.

The book I'm reading is actually the sequel to Ancillary Justice, which I started last year and ... well, while I didn't exactly bounce out of it, I didn't precisely stick to it, either. I bet I read a little under a hundred pages before it was due back at the library and I returned it, mostly unread. Leckie's first book, for me, was a little too... "unanchored"? I'm not sure what word I want here, but the first fifty/eighty pages felt unfocused and not connected to the physical in a way in which I find I really need when being introduced to a completely strange and new world. Part of the strangeness of Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword is that the AI/cyborg POV character (as well of all of society), use one pronoun to describe every gender and that pronoun is "she."

As I said in an earlier post about this, dealing with the labeling of all as "she" really underscores the point that using the generalized 'he' as we do in our modern society doesn't work the way we think it does. It's not as universal as we've been led to believe.

I am a she, and yet I find myself wondering who REALLY is, and who isn't. (Sometimes there are clues, "her beard was long and thick," but then, particularly in the first book where the ancillary was traveling from world to world--I think, or, this is an alien and their female aliens can grow beards... beards might be ceremonial or....?)

Then I usually stop to wonder, why does it even matter? Why does it throw me so much to not KNOW?

I think I'm fairing better in this book, because I've accepted she as the norm. Until a penis actually makes an appearance, I've decided that everyone in the book is a woman... or a man. It really has stopped mattering to me to some extent, though I still find myself looking for clues. Luckily, Leckie knows I am and has been sure to make it impossible. Okay, so the Fifth Seat is really concerned about the dishes and the appropriateness of protocol, but that's "her" job as aide/adjutant. That certainly doesn't make her default female any more than anyone else, does it?

It's fascinating.

Ancillary Sword, too, in my opinion, seems to be written with the confidence of a second novel, and so I feel more anchored for whatever reason (or, maybe, it's only in comparison to the very, VERY trippy books I read previous to this one.)

The other book I have but haven't started yet (I'm a monogamous reader: my mildly dyslexic brain can only deal with one book/story at a time) is This Shattered World which is the only book I've found so far that's up for an Aurealis (the Australian SF award) AND I found it in Roseville Library's YA section... the book jacket makes the plot sound eerily like one I proposed to my former editor when she asked me for some military SF. (Honestly? I will admit I checked the publisher, but, of course it's not the same. There's just nothing new under the sun.)

And.. now I have another whole list to start hunting for!!

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