nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
It was in the year 2509 of the Third Age, in the region of ----shire, that the party of Lady Celebrían, making a long overdue visit to her parents, was waylaid by orcs.

It was not fear of such an encounter that was responsible for the delay in paying this most natural duty. Orcs had not been known in the neighbourhood for many years, and had their return to the region been known the party would have elected to travel by the Pass of Rohan, no matter the greater distance. Rather the lady's children had reached the difficult age of the late second millenium when an elf is most in need of guidance from a mother. The presence in Rivendell of their distant cousins the Dunedain had made this guidance particularly essential. None knew more than the daughter of the Lady Galadriel the importance of harmonious relations between kin, and Celebrían had sincerely welcomed the many greats grandchildren of her brother-in-law to her home. But there were limits to how close a connection should be considered, and no count of generations could undo the fact that the children of Elrond and the Line of Elendil were first cousins. It would not do.

(no subject)

Jul. 24th, 2017 04:24 pm
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
[personal profile] tree_and_leaf
It is an understatement to say that I don't like Theresa May in the least, and think she is doing the country a lot of harm - and yet, I still find Tim Lott more annoying.

calls out from the void

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:34 am
rthstewart: (Default)
[personal profile] rthstewart
Hey there!  I know that a lot of folks migrated over from LJ last year and courteously sent me invitations to subscribe to their accounts, which have now long since disappeared.  If you see this and if you'd like to share subscription/access, let me know what your new account name is and we can do that whole clicky thing and maybe I can start getting caught up.  I'm reluctant even to log into LJ which  (I switched my Kaspersky protection two months ago) but I may have to bit the bullet and just DO IT so I can caught up.   
Love you!
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
Europe at Midnight is the second in Dave Hutchinson's Fractured Europe series; although it isn't quite a sequel to Europe in Autumn and could reasonably easily be read as a standalone novel, reading Europe in Autumn first fills in some of the background, and reading Europe at Midnight first would take away the impact of one of the major plot twists in Europe in Autumn.

Like Europe in Autumn, Europe at Midnight is basically a Le Carre-esque spy thriller which replaces the Cold War with the complicated politics of a fragmented near-future Europe. Its events take place on the same timeline as those of Europe in Autumn, with limited points of intersection. It's clever and plotty and interesting and I enjoyed it a great deal. I did, however, have one reservation, which was that I counted no fewer than three separate incidents where female characters who were important to the two male protagonists died violently in order to advance the men's plots (and a fourth where a woman was only seriously injured). It's true that the novel belongs to the gritty spy thriller genre and that comes with a lot of violence, death and general unpleasantness, and it gets points for having a reasonably wide range of female characters who are as likely to be dishing out the violence and general unpleasantness as on the receiving end of it, but by the third death I couldn't help feeling that this was starting to feel a bit like a pattern, especially as none of the deaths of men had the same emotional resonance for the two protagonists.

***

Rivers of London: Black Mould is the third Rivers of London graphic novel. I pre-ordered this in February when the release date was, I think, May; it was eventually released this week. Like the first two, it's a short standalone casefic which doesn't add to the wider arc of the series; fairly slight, but it was nice to see more of DC Guleed in particular, and it was entertaining enough.

Hugo shortlist: Novels

Jul. 23rd, 2017 04:50 pm
emperor: (Default)
[personal profile] emperor
I didn't really have enough time to get through the Hugo reading this year, but I did manage to read enough of the shortlisted novels that I voted for them. I voted thus:

  1. A Closed and Common Orbit; I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet shortly before the shortlist was announced (and really enjoyed it), which perhaps biased me in favour of this one. That did mean that I knew how one of the story arcs was going to finish, but it was still an engaging read, and I thought the way the author approached neurodiversity was gently but well done
  2. Ninefox Gambit; I would not normally go for military SF, and it did take me a while to get into this, but the author has created a fascinating world, and I really want to find out how the series progresses. Despite being the first in a series, this had a decent narrative arc of its own
  3. All the Birds in the Sky; I wanted to like this, but didn't in the end. The chapters were a bit abrupt, it sometimes felt like it was just being clever, and the magic felt a bit deus ex machina in places. I also found the (inevitable?) romance plot pretty weak. Also, the ending was a bit disappointing.
  4. Too Like the Lightning; I didn't like this at all. The narrator was infuriating, the style affected, the continued harping on about gender irksome, and it didn't even try to come to a natural close, it just stopped. I know there's a sequel, but really.


I didn't read Death's End, because I hated 3-Body Problem; I didn't read The Obelisk Gate because I didn't manage to get hold of a copy (the kindle voter packet only had an excerpt).

Is it law of nature?

Jul. 22nd, 2017 02:48 pm
nineveh_uk: Picture of fabric with a peacock feather print. (peacock)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
That when going into a fabric shop for Thing A, they won't have it, but you will leave with two patterns and some fabric for one of them? In my defence I already have the fabric for the other as well, and hopefully it will be quicker to use a pattern than the one that I had had a go at drafting myself...

ETA: Oops. Skirt pattern turns out to be culottes. Should be convertible into a skirt, but slightly annoying!

NFE Placeholder

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:40 pm
rthstewart: (Default)
[personal profile] rthstewart
A placeholder for the sign up I hope I don't regret given what else must be written in the month of August. (Phew, got a first draft of something due end of August done so on Tuesday I can sit with a committee of 20 and have them shred it to pieces!  GO ME)

So I signed up, there's a link on my NFE entry, and here's a few more things, mostly copy and pasted from previous NFEs.

First, thanks so much!  Despite the character-centric match up, the fact is, I’m pretty agnostic as to characters for the NFE. Whatever we've been matched on, don't worry because I like just about anything and what I don't like has to do with tone and characterization, not particular characters.   I've pretty consistently requested adults but I also like adults in children's bodies -- in other words, they can be  young in appearance but old in terms of years lived, wisdom and experience.  From my previous prompts, you can glean the following, and I'm surprised at how little they've changed

What I love:
  • UST; witty banter and snark; Politics, finance or military strategy; World War 2; Worldbuilding; Gap-filling; Culture clash (within Narnia or Narnia vs. Spare Oom); healthy, normal, romantic relationship between consenting adults (canon pairing or OC); someone being extraordinarily clever and getting out of a jam; any Narnian (Pevensie or otherwise) observed from a third person point of view; anything sly, wry, and silly; rapid fire dialogue; a delightful sense of the absurd
  • A happy ending, delightful characterization, and to laugh at least once
  • Pagan and/or mythological influences;
  • Adults and old souls in young bodies;
  • A Narnia with creaky wheels, the faint smell of manure, grass stains, open windows, and lots of animal hair that everyone is too polite to comment upon
  • I prefer humor over angst and sex over violence.
  • Cross-overs! 
  •  AU and canon divergence is great too.  A Golden Age > 15 years, so, therefore I'd love an AU look with adult Pevensies, OC consorts, and the next gen.  Similarly, I’d love a Spare Oom AU with a happily ever after and no train crash
  • I'm more interested in periods other than the Telmarine era onward and really I'd be very happy if you just ignore TLB completely.

 What I definitely don't want in my fic: it's a short list but pretty strongly held:  explicit m/m (everything else is OK); excessive angst, gore or violence; any dub-con whatsoever (Rilian & Lady of the Green Kirtle (OK); Susan written as "Fallen Away From Narnia because of Lipstick and Nylons"; Lucy sidelined or being protected by her overbearing big brothers and worry-wart sister.  I have a strong preference for humor over angst and romance/sex rather than violence.

I've got a big body of Narnia work and some people like to play in it.  If that's something that you are interested in, you don't need my permission! 

(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 03:19 pm
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
[personal profile] tree_and_leaf
Happy birthday, [personal profile] coughingbear!

Reading: Every Heart A Doorway

Jul. 20th, 2017 07:40 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
Seanan McGuire's Hugo-nominated novella Every Heart a Doorway is a school story with a twist: it's set in a boarding school specifically catering to young people who have visited the kind of other worlds familiar to readers of portal fantasy novels and who are struggling to adapt to real life on their return (most of the students at the school in this book long to return to their fantasy worlds, though we are told that there is a sister institution catering for those who need help to forget their more traumatic travels). Disbelieving parents send their children to the school hoping that they will receive therapy and recover from their breakdowns, but instead the school supports its students in understanding and integrating their experiences while still allowing them to hope that they will find their doors again one day.

The story mainly follows Nancy, who has returned from a sojourn in the Halls of the Dead with a preternaturally developed ability to stand still and a penchant for dressing in gauzy black and white clothing, to the distress of her parents who want their old daughter back. Shortly after Nancy's arrival at the school the first in a series of gruesome murders occurs; suspicion falls on Nancy, as a new girl and one whose world was a underworld, and she and a small group of other students have to work together to discover who the real murderer is. The murder mystery plot is really only a Macguffin, though (and I thought it was quite obvious from very early on who the murderer was); the book is really an exploration of identity and belonging, as the students try to deal with having found and lost worlds where they felt that they belonged much more than they ever had at home (each student went to a different world, uniquely suited to that individual). It's easy to see Nancy's parents' rejection of the changes in their daughter as parallelling more conventional rejections by parents' of their children's developing tastes and views. Identity politics writ larger also feature; Nancy explicitly identifies as asexual, while one of the friends she makes is a trans boy who was expelled from the fairyland he travelled to when he was discovered to be a prince and not the princess they thought he was.

Some of the reviews I'd read online had made me worry that this was going to be preachy, or at least a bit cringily identity-politics-by-numbers, but in fact I didn't find it that way at all; it was interesting, sensitive and thoughtful. I wasn't completely convinced by the way the murder plot was resolved, which seemed to owe rather more to the conventions of the students' fantasy worlds than to the real world in which the story takes place, but generally I really enjoyed the book and can absolutely see why it has won and been nominated for so many awards.
emperor: (Default)
[personal profile] emperor
Fans of the coffee stall on the Cambridge market (link to my previous post on opening hours) may be interested to know that he doesn't seem to be open on Thursdays any more - AFAICT he's now Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat.

Not entirely co-incidentally, my coffee supplies are now rather low :(

Reading: The Saltmarsh Murders

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:41 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
I picked up Gladys Mitchell's The Saltmarsh Murders in the Oxfam bookshop, because I'm always interested to try new-to-me 1930s detective stories, and grabbed it off the top of my to-read pile last week when I was looking for an easy read to follow To Lie With Lions.

The Saltmarsh Murders is the fourth of 66 detective novels featuring Mrs Beatrice Lestrange Bradley, psychiatrist and amateur sleuth. In this novel, she turns her attention to the death of a young woman who has recently given birth to an illegitimate baby (and the disappearance of the baby) in the South Coast village of Saltmarsh, where she was paying a visit when the murder was discovered. She is aided in this by Noel Wells, the slightly dim curate of the village. Noel also narrates the novel in a first-person style which clearly owes a lot to Wodehouse, who he mentions being a fan of.

I wasn't sure the Bertie Wooster-esque narrative was a natural choice for a detective novel, and Noel is a very sloppy narrator, with events coming out of sequence in a way that made it quite hard to follow the plot at times. The book also features a black character and contains the kind of period-typical attitudes to and language about race that are pretty hard for a modern reader to stomach, as well as some period-typical attitudes to class and a couple of incidences of painfully rendered yokel accents. Most of the characters felt very two-dimensional, with the only one who really took on any life at all being the village madwoman, Mrs Gatty, and I didn't actually find the mystery plot particularly compelling. I don't think I'll be seeking out any more of Mitchell's books (although I think I might have at least one more that I bought as a Kindle bargain years ago...).

Planet of the Spiders revisited

Jul. 17th, 2017 01:12 am
sir_guinglain: (Pertwee_TVAction)
[personal profile] sir_guinglain
Dialogue for the old and new fans...

From Planet of the Spiders part one, as it might be re-edited:

LUPTON: Not only a Doctor, but a woman Doctor. We do not want her here.
CHO-JE: We cannot shut out the world entirely, my brother.
LUPTON: Why not? You used to, in Tibet.
CHO-JE: All things pass away, as you will learn in your meditation. This world of samsara, the world of appearance, is the world of change.
LUPTON: Yes, but I came here to get away from the world. So did the others. We came here to find solitude.
CHO-JE: One day you will learn to walk in solitude amidst the traffic of the world.
LUPTON: It's still not too late to stop her coming.
CHO-JE: But it is. Mister Chibnall has already gone to the station to fetch her.

**

CHO-JE: We can but point a finger along the way. A man must go inside and face his fears and hopes, his hates and his loves, and watch them wither away. Then he will find his true self, which is no self. He will see his true mind, which is no mind.
SARAH: And that's what meditation's all about?
CHO-JE: Yes! The old man must die and the new woman will discover to her inexpressible joy that he has never existed.
SARAH: Well, good luck, mate.

From Chrissie's Transcripts Site, with alterations.

(no subject)

Jul. 16th, 2017 11:41 am
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
I am assuming, from the amount of anxiety I'm currently feeling about who the new Doctor will be, that I am generally not as OK as I would like to think I am.

Wibbleage )

Reading: To Lie With Lions

Jul. 15th, 2017 11:09 am
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[personal profile] white_hart
The sixth of Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolò books brings to a conclusion the phase of Nicholas's life sparked by the devastating events of the ending of Scales of Gold. In many ways it felt as though this and The Unicorn Hunt were two halves of one very long book rather than two separate instalments of the series, which I think probably partly explains why I felt that The Unicorn Hunt's plot seemed to meander rather if it was mainly setup for the next book. I feel similarly about The Disorderly Knights and Pawn in Frankincense in the Lymond series, and although the ending of To Lie With Lions isn't quite as cataclysmic as the end of Pawn in Frankincense, or indeed Scales of Gold, it leaves Nicholas in a similar place to Lymond at the end of that book; isolated, friendless and being taken to an unknown destination.

The centrepiece of this book is Nicholas's voyage to Iceland, culminating in a haunting, nightmarish winter journey across country in the face of an imminent volcanic eruption, and a subsequent description of the eruption itself, which are definitely up with the Sahara journey in Scales of Gold and the winter journey in Russia in The Ringed Castle among the most amazing of Dunnett's descriptive passages. The novel then gathers pace and ramps up the tension towards the dénouement, which does the typical Dunnett thing of shining a new light on so many things and radically changing the reader's understanding of both Nicholas's and other characters' natures and motivations, and even if I had guessed the identity of "Egidius", the third Vatachino partner (mostly because Pat McIntosh's Gilbert Cunningham mysteries include a character with the same first name and nickname as the "Egidius" in Dunnett's books, almost certainly as a tribute to Dunnett) there were still plenty of surprises among the revelations.

Only two more to go, although then I'm sure that both the Lymond and Niccolò books would benefit from a re-read; there's so much in them that only makes sense once you have got to the end. Also, I have just bought a secondhand copy of King Hereafter, as it isn't available for Kindle. Though right now I think I need to read something a lot less emotionally demanding for a while.

Random original vampire drabble

Jul. 13th, 2017 07:54 am
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
The kid looked at me with big eyes, the way kids do.

'I don't think Mummy's very well.'

Smart kid, that. I've seen healthier people than Mummy laid out on a slab, often because of Mummy. I picked her up. She was light as a feather, all skin and bone, too young to have done anything yet. Maybe with re-education she never would.

She turned her face into my shoulder like any other kid and I thanked the department for my regulation leather coat with its high collar. Maybe I could find her teddy bear before we torched the place.
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