Gratitudes

Jul. 27th, 2017 05:51 pm
kass: glasses of pink wine (rose)
[personal profile] kass
1. Friends who love me even when I'm having a terrible day.

2. The "New Beginnings" playlist that [personal profile] heresluck made for me last year, to which I am listening even now.

3. Setting a pretty Shabbat table for tomorrow night.

4. The many excellent things that have been recommended to me in the last 24 hours! I devoured The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe (a truly lovely novella) last night, and am now beginning to read Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman, which, um, yeah.

5. I'm gonna pour myself a glass of pink wine, because it's wine o'clock, y'all.

Orbit US turns 10

Jul. 27th, 2017 03:56 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll



Over the last decade, Orbit US, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, has quickly established itself as one of the premiere publishers of science fiction and fantasy, and a reliable source for everything from innovative works of science fiction to blockbuster epic fantasies. To celebrate the milestone, a selection of landmark Orbit titles is currently available on Nook for just $2.99 each, but we wanted to do more than point you toward some great titles, so we asked Orbit’s publisher, Tim Holman, to share a bit of history. Below his comments, you’ll find a timeline of key dates in Orbit’s history.

<a href="https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/orbit-books-turns-10-take-look-decade-milestones/>More here</a>

Philip Kerr: Bernie Gunther Series

Jul. 27th, 2017 05:29 pm
selenak: (Watchmen by Groaty)
[personal profile] selenak
Reading the first Bernie Gunther novel has sent me into the rabbit hole, the marathon reading from which I now slowly emerge, having grabbed all the novels my local library had available and then buying the most recent one, Prussian Blue. By which you can conclude that these novels are addictive, despite or maybe because of their very dark setting and the way Kerr handles it. I didn’t always read them in order, but that works out better than usual in a series because Kerr writes them not always in linear order as well, and several take place in different eras simultaneously (one post WWII, one during the Third Reich), each filling out different gaps in his anti hero’s life. In fact, I’m glad I read, not by intention but coincidence of availability, “The Other Side of Silence” (No.11, probably the one most located in the 1950s, with just one flashback to the 1940s) before “The Pale Criminal” (No.2, set in 1938), because while both novels feature male gay characters, the ones in No.11 are fleshed out and for the most part sympathetic, and also not just one or two but four on page and a fifth one intensely talked about, whereas in No.2 they are solely a weak coward and a villain respectively, which for a novel set during a time when gay people ended up in prison and/or camps in Germany is a highly questionable authorial choice.

(Sidenote: not that you don’t have historical basis for writing gay villains in a story set among the Nazis. I mean, Ernst Röhm. But still.)

Reading the first novel had left me wondering how Kerr would justify Bernie Gunther’s continued survival as a (mostly) ethical P.I. in one of the most brutal dictatorships in history. Turns out, he doesn’t; Bernie gets drafted back into police service by Reinhard Heydrich in 1938, which means that when WWII starts, he along with the rest of the police gets absorbed into the SS, and while he manages to get a transfer into another unit, this doesn’t happen before being exposed to and in one case participating in mass shootings. While some of the novels feature flashbacks to the P.I. period, most therefore have Bernie as part of the institutions he abhors, which simultaneously deepens his moral compromise (and self loathing) but heightens the likelihood of his survival (while also providing the novelist with excuses for letting Bernie be present at some key points he couldn’t have been as a civilian, like the discovery of the Katyn massacre, more about that in a moment). I find this a fair authorial choice – if you’re going to produce a series of novels with a German detective set mostly in the Third Reich, keeping him entirely guilt free of the morass the nation was sunk into would have felt like cheating. I also was able to buy into the premise of various upper hierarchy Nazis – Heydrich, Goebbels, Arthur Nebe – finding Bernie so useful they would want to use him because he’s That Good at crime solving and occasionally even in a dictatorship you need to figure out who actually did the deed as opposed to finding the most convenient scapegoat. (The constant in fighting and rivalry between top Nazis also plays a role in Bernie’s survival, since a good detective is also useful for getting dirt on each other.) Another way Kerr plays fair is having Bernie constantly aware of the sheer insanity of it all – trying to track down individual criminals when the entire system around you has become criminal, and murder and thievery actually are the law.

Further ramblings below the cut )

today is a brand new day

Jul. 27th, 2017 10:45 am
musesfool: christina hendricks (they would topple empires)
[personal profile] musesfool
I've been here since 7:45 this morning because of ~reasons I'm too tired to get into in detail but are more of the same annoying song.

Now that I'm back to looking at places, I've started looking at furniture again, and right now, all the apartments are painted white, so there's no background to match, so I've expanded my color horizons just a little (I was mostly looking at gray or sage green for sofas previously, and gosh are there some lovely gray sofas so I wouldn't count it totally out) and since blue is my favorite color, there are things like this, this, this, and this to admire, not to mention this if I had an unlimited budget (which I sadly do not).

I also have always liked the beach bungalow look, and this sort of stripey thing appeals to that sensibility.

But then I thought, why limit myself? Maybe I want an orange sofa! And I mostly am not into leather furniture, but the lived in look of this sofa is very appealing to me.

Otoh, I can also have walls painted once I've moved into a place, so I could do an accent wall as necessary (both the apartments that were removed from my list yesterday had beautiful blue accent walls in the living room), and have whatever color scheme I choose, so who knows what will happen!

Probably not red though. I've had a red sofa and chair for fifteen years. I'm ready for something new.

***
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
because he didn't understand why there were tears rolling down.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Firstly, it takes very little discussion of regulations for my eyes to glaze over. Secondly, and far less constructively, if someone proposes a system that relies on genres like science fiction and fantasy being distinct rather than overlapping sets, I will start thinking about the worthy works that live in the overlap.

[ SECRET POST #3857 ]

Jul. 26th, 2017 06:20 pm
case: (Default)
[personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets

⌈ Secret Post #3857 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.

01.


More! )


Notes:

Secrets Left to Post: 01 pages, 14 secrets from Secret Submission Post #551.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.

Help me turn away from the awful?

Jul. 26th, 2017 04:58 pm
kass: lilacs, "zen fen" (zen lilac)
[personal profile] kass
Ugh, y'all, I am having one of those days where just keeping my eyes open and witnessing the awfulness of my nation's government is making me feel bleak and wrung-out and helpless. And I keep opening FB and Twitter in adjacent tabs, and then after reading for a while realizing that reading them is not actually helping anyone or anything (me included) and closing them, and then a few minutes later opening them again without even thinking about it, which says something about my social media habits that I do not like. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I miss having a sense of active involvement in fandom. I have a few hours ahead of me with no kid to mind, and I obviously need to stop poking at social media (it's the emotional-intellectual equivalent of just eating endless bags of potato chips -- hours go by and then I feel sick to my stomach), and I know that once upon a time I would have seized on this time as an opportunity to make something for y'all, and I miss that. But I'm not embedded in any particular universes right now, and I feel tapped-out and devoid of ideas.

Read any good books lately, especially fiction or nonfiction that left you feeling lifted-up instead of dragged-down?

For those of you who are actively fannish, what are the things that are bringing you joy?

McCain (warning for spitting)

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:23 am
dichroic: (oar asterisk)
[personal profile] dichroic

One problem with not blogging often enough is that you can get overtaken by events. I’d been meaning to write a post about John McCain. When he was diagnosed with the brain cancer, I saw a lot of posts on social media lauding him for being independent, with a history of putting country over party.

Pfui.

My awareness of McCain goes back well before his Presidential campaign, because I was his constituent during the decade we lived in Arizona (not that long after the Keating 5 scandal, in fact. I have a special feeling for him; I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s strong and it’s negative. It’s not the same feeling of utter disdain I have for someone like Ted Cruz, who has never been anything but vile, or even the feeling I have for Lindsay Graham, a man whose politics I’ve generally disliked but who has been known to surprise me with the occasional principled stand.

My dislike for McCain is based on disappointment; he’s had so many chances to be a hero and he’s failed at all of them. (In his Senate years I mean – did he use up his lifetime supply of cojones in his POW years? That would be understandable and even pardonable – but in that case, don’t run for the Senate!) So many times he’s stood up to his party to defend the country and constituents … and then they turned up the pressure and he crumbled. (Also, there was the Palin thing.)

Well, now everyone knows it. He flew back from cancer treatment for the healthcare vote, made an inspiring speech, voted for open debate (I can even understand that one – I do believe in open debate, even of reprehensible bills, so we can see who is reprehensible enough to stand behind them) and then promptly voted to take away access to healthcare from millions Americans.

Pfui again.

I don’t wish harm on McCain, because I hate cancer even more than I hate politicians who put power and party ahead of compassion or Constitution. I just despise him for not having the decency and fairness to want others to have the same level of care he himself is getting.

ETA: McCain’s people have rebutted the criticism that he gave a fiery speech, then promptly voted to kill the ACA, saying it was just a procedural motion to advance the bill to a vote, and that he would not vote for it in its current form. We’ll see.

Given that he has nothing to lose now, and unlike, say, Ryan or McConnell seems to have some idea of ethics even if he doesn’t always act according to it, this really would be the time to step up!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

musesfool: Reboot Uhura (never tell me the odds)
[personal profile] musesfool
So on Monday the realtor I've been working with sent me 10 listings to choose from and I said I liked five, and so I'm seeing 2 out of those five tomorrow evening (the two most expensive and also the two I was least interested in. funny how that works out. the one that was my fave accepted an offer yesterday and is thus off the market now. Sigh. eta: and there goes my second fave, with an accepted offer. but I'm seeing the last one on Saturday, so there's hope! I like each of these three, just not as much as I liked the other two and also they each have one drawback or another, I guess./eta). I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I'd really like to see the two I like more before I have to make any decisions.

How can it only be Wednesday? Yesterday felt like it was 8 days long in and of itself. Sigh.

What I've just finished
Nothing.

What I'm reading now
Still on Abaddon's Gate. I like it but not as much as the first two books so it's taking me longer to read (the fact that I haven't been getting a seat on the train hasn't helped). I feel like the new characters are not nearly as interesting as Avasarala and Bobbie, though I like Anna and Bull just fine. Melba, otoh... On the plus side, spoilers ) I'm about a hundred pages from the end so I'm guessing there's still some excitement to come.

What I'm reading next
Regardless, I did pick up the next book - Cibola Burn - because I do want to see what happens next. I just also wish we got the POV from the others on the Roci instead of all Holden all the time there.

***

Passing the hat

Jul. 26th, 2017 02:01 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
My vet has an interesting receptionist and so what I was told would be a sixty dollar trip for their shots is in fact a two hundred dollar trip. This is all part of the seemingly futile effort to find them new homes. If people could donate towards the trip, that would be great.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
How to Make a Clichéd High Fantasy Cover

I am reminded of the cover of a Joe Abercrombie novel where every time I took another look, I noticed yet another sword the character on the cover was carrying.
sholio: Text: "Age shall not weary her, nor custom stale her infinite squee" (Infinite Squee)
[personal profile] sholio
I was inviting people to ask me questions on Tumblr last night, and one of the things I ended up talking about is what makes me fall for things (books, movies, TV shows) in a fandom kind of way. I decided to post that here as well, because it took me a long time to figure it out but I did eventually figure it out, and I thought it was interesting. There are always a few outliers that don't quite fit this, or fit it in unusual ways, but for the most part, this is what makes the difference for me between something I merely like, and something I write fanfic for and can't stop talking about to anyone who'll hold still long enough.

Cut to keep from clogging your reading page )
selenak: (BambergerReiter by Ningloreth)
[personal profile] selenak
Having now read three of the four books the first two seasons of The Last Kingdom are based on, I find my original suspicion that Bernard Cornwell novels benefit from adaptions into other media because these take you out of the main character's head justified, though not always quite in the way I assumed. Because the novels are narrated by an older Uthred looking back, his narrating self can sometimes point out things his younger self did not yet see or realise, for example, that he wronged his first wife Mildrith, or that he underestimated Alfred early on because a chronically sick non-warrior valueing learning and feeling guilty about sex could not possibly be a strong leader in his young eyes. Otoh, older, wiser Uthred narrating still doesn't change the fact most female characters come across as more dimensional and fleshed out in the tv adaption than they do in the novels (Brida and Mildrith in the first, Hild and Aelswith in the second season - Iseult, alas, is a cliché in both versions).

The tv show cut or compressed various characters and slimmed down events, and given that they do two books per season so far, that's not surprising. But even if they took a longer time, I think some of the changes and cuts were to the narrative's benefit. For example: Cornwell has to come up with some pretty convoluted circumstances and far-stretched plots to have a teenage Uthred who is still with the Danes secretly present when Prince (not yet King) Alfred confesses about his carnal lapses to Beocca. In the book, he needs to be because he's the narrator and neither Alfred nor Beocca would have told him about this. The tv show dispenses with said circumstances and just has the scene between Alfred and Beocca, without Uthred secretly listening in, because he doesn't need to be in order for the audience to get this information about the young Alfred.

Mind you, dispensing with the first two times Uthred meets Alfred and letting their first encounter not happen until after Ragnar the Elder's death creates one important difference between book and show relationship that's worth mentioning. Book Uthred lies to Alfred (and Beocca) these first two times and point blank spies on them for the Danes, so the later "why do you keep distrusting me?" indignation rings a little hollow in this regard. Show Uthred does no such thing, so Alfred is accordingly less justified in his lingering ambiguity.

Another cut that somewhat shifts perception: the first novel has Uthred participating in a few Danish raids led by Ragnar, including one on Aelswith's hometown (though she doesn't know he took part). Now, in the show we go from Uthred the child to adult Uthred directly and adult Uthred is solely seen at Ragnar's home, with the deaths of Ragnar & Co. impending, but given adult Uthred later is shown to be already a skilled fighter, it stands to reason he practiced these skills. But I suspect the show avoided showing Uthred fighting against Saxon civilians this early on deliberately. Both show and books have Uthred loving the Danes but staying with the Saxons post Ragnar's death because various circumstances (and then Alfred's machinations) make it impossible for him to do otherwise. Only the book, though, spells out that Uthred doesn't start to feel any kind of identification/emotional connection to the Saxons until he sees them winning a battle (until then, narrator Uthred says, he hadn't thought Danes could lose, which makes sense given that throughout Uthred's childhood and adolescence, they were winning), when before he regarded them as weak and didn't want to think of himself as belonging to them. Which makes sense given Uthred is raised in a warrior culture and is a young, arrogant adolescent at the time, but again, I suspect the tv version avoids spelling this out in order not to make him off putting early on when establishing the character.

Otoh, the scenes the tv show adds in the two seasons where Uthred isn't present all serve to flesh out the characters in question more and work to their benefit, whether it's Alfred, Hild, Aelswith or Beocca. The notable exception is Guthred in s2, whose additional scenes make him look worse, not better than the novel does. Possibly, too, because in the novel Guthred is described having an easy charm that makes Book!Uthred forgive him even the truly terrible thing Guthred does to Uthred, and the actor playing Guthred on the show doesn't have that at all, and instead comes across as nothing but fearful, easily influenced and weak. (And show!Uthred while coming to terms with him doesn't forgive him.) I have to say, lack of actorly charm aside, given that Guthred does something spoilery to Uthred ), I find the tv version more realistic.

The push-pull relationship between Uthred and Alfred is there in both versions, but in the tv show, it comes across as more central. As my local library has it, I also read "Death of Kings", the novel in which, Alfred dies, not without manipulating Uthred one last time into doing what he wants him to do, and Uthred's thoughts on the man later, summing him up, are Cornwell's prose at its best:

I stood beside Alfred's coffin and thought how life slipped by, and how, for nearly all my life, Alfred had been there like a great landmark. I had not liked him. I had struggled against him, despised him and admired him. I hated his religion and its cold disapproving gaze, its malevolence that cloaked itself in pretended kindness, and its allegiance to a god who would drain the joy from the world by naming it sin, but Alfred's religion had made him a good man and a good king.
And Alfred's joyless soul had proved a rock against which the Danes had broken themselves. Time and again they had attacked, and time and again Alfred had out-thought them, and Wessex grew ever stronger and richer and all that was because of Alfred. We think of kings as privileged men who rule over us and have the freedom to make, break and flaunt the law, but Alfred was never above the law he loved to make. He saw his life as a duty to his god and to the people of Wessex and I have never seen a better king, and I doubt my sons, grandson and their children's children will ever see a better one. I never liked him, but I have never stopped admiring him. He was my king and all that I now have I owe to him. The food that I eat, the hall where I live and the swords of my men, all started with Alfred, who hated me at times, loved me at times, and was generous with me. He was a gold-giver.


Last Yuletide I added a Last Kingdom request at the last minute because I'd seen it had been nominated, and accordingly it was short, but this Yuletide I think I'll also offer, and will request in more detail and more characters. While the other historical tv shows I consumed during the last year were entertaining in various degrees, this was the only one which was also good.

(no subject)

Jul. 25th, 2017 09:30 pm
skygiants: Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena holding a red rose (i'm the witch)
[personal profile] skygiants
[personal profile] jothra went to a library sale last week and asked if I had any requests: "Weird 70s Gothics? Trixie, Belden?"

"WEIRD 70S GOTHICS PLEASE," I said, and Jo duly carried out her commission so well that I don't know if anybody's ever going to top it:



Portrait in Jig-Saw is apparently so obscure it doesn't even have a Goodreads page, which, having read it, I can honestly now say is kind of a shame.

Our Heroine's name is Alixander David Somerlaid MacDonald (I KNOW), otherwise known as Alisdair; she is a Strictly Sheltered Heiress who has been raised in a Freezing Castle in Complete Isolation and Solitude with only occasional visits from her father until she comes of age on her 21st birthday.

...for the record, the year is 1973.

My legit favorite part about these spoilers is that the entire plot relies on an alternate universe where the world's most famous postmodern novelist is a Thai princess, I want to live in THAT universe! )

[ SECRET POST #3856 ]

Jul. 25th, 2017 07:06 pm
case: (Default)
[personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets

⌈ Secret Post #3856 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.

01.


More! )


Notes:

Secrets Left to Post: 01 pages, 21 secrets from Secret Submission Post #551.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.

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