No man born of woman, eh?

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 02:03 pm
lizcommotion: A hand drawn spinning wheel covered in roses (spinning wheel briar rose)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
"Fear not, Macbeth. No man that’s born of woman
Shall e'er have power upon thee."

One of the things all my teachers and theater buffs and PBS told me about Shakespeare is that he works for any time. Few stage directions! No set costumes! [No copyright restrictions!] You can make all sorts of adaptations!

Read more... )

This is a roundabout way of saying that here are other possibilites (besides MacDuff the C-section baby) for MacBeth's downfall, assuming the prophecy to be correct:
  • one of the clones from Orphan Black (or a less-awesome clone I suppose)
  • a rabid bear
  • any non-human animal, actually
  • lightning, hurricane, tidal wave, or other Act of God
  • alien abduction, followed by Shakespearean Mulder and Scully (and/or Mulder's ancestor)
  • stopped washing hands because of Lady Macbeth's creepy hand-washing, died of germs
  • Lady Macbeth herself
  • some sort of Ophelia crossover
  • Lady Macbeth kills him, creates some sort of regency, takes Ophelia as her lover. Hand-washing was a ploy.
  • someone prayed to the Goddess of Marriage and she fixes everything for Lady Macbeth/Ophelia, including getting rid of Macbeth
  • Daleks
  • The Doctor
  • the US Enterprise fell through a hole in time and it crashed it onto Macbeth while Worf was at the helm
  • he is Immortal and There Can Be Only One. Watcher files sketchy on what happened after his first death. Possibly sighted in modern politics.
  • tripped and hit his head on one of those stone castle walls
  • "tripped" and hit his head on one of those stone castle walls
  • mob of angry peasants and/or guillotine (there's power in groups and groupthink no matter how you're born)
  • realizes error of his ways, becomes a wise, beloved and long-living king
  • does not eat vegetables because he is king and no one can make him so there, dies of scurvy
  • unwisely visited crossroads at dusk, never seen again
  • forgot to pay witches for services, never seen again
  • forgot to pay witches for services, they totally lied about the prophecy, killed by a man who paid them well
Uh fic ideas free to a good home, I guess?

Big news!

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 10:57 am
owlmoose: (lady business - kj)
[personal profile] owlmoose
So now it can be told: after many years of being a semi-regular contributor and helper behind the scenes, I have officially joined the team at [community profile] ladybusiness as a contributing editor!

Here's the official announcement.

I am really excited about this -- as I've mentioned often, I've long wanted to get back into writing more meta and criticism, and [community profile] ladybusiness is the perfect venue for me to do so. It's a commitment and a larger audience, both of which I find inspiring, but not such a huge commitment or audience that I expect it to be daunting.

Of course, I will continue to keep posting here, too -- personal stuff, fanfiction, politics and other non-fandom content, quick thoughts that don't make for a full essay, etc. And I'll link everything I post there, but if you like the posts I write on fandom and feminism, and you don't follow [community profile] ladybusiness already, I definitely recommend you check it out.

Many many thanks to [personal profile] renay and [personal profile] bookgazing, along with the rest of the team, for allowing me to join them! :D I look forward to working with you all.

Just One Thing! (11 February 2016)

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 12:52 pm
kate: a dirt path through a bright green forest (trees: road less traveled)
[personal profile] kate posting in [community profile] awesomeers
It's challenge time!

Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.

Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!

Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!

Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.


(no subject)

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 01:50 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Right now, I’ve got the books that were on the floor in the living room stacked inside a large, cloth mesh laundry basket on the loveseat. I’m going to have to make sure the cleaning lady doesn’t try to move them because I’m quite sure the basket will rip under the weight. I’m using it to keep the books from falling over more than anything else. They’ll have to go back on the floor in piles this evening so that Scott has somewhere to sit.

I’ve got a couple of leads on boxes, but they have to wait until tomorrow at the earliest because of Scott’s after work meeting tonight. One woman has two printer paper boxes at work, but she only works until 5:00. Barring overtime, Scott can get them tomorrow. There’s a woman in Ypsilanti who recently moved who’s willing to give us boxes, and she’d probably be up for a pick up tonight, but I’m not sure if Scott would be (and, unless he calls me, I have no way to check with him). Someone else mentioned that UHaul sells the sort of boxes I want, so that’s the fallback if the less expensive options fail.

My query about furniture repair didn’t get many responses. One person recommended the folks with the terrible website (flashvideo on landing page that can’t be bypassed so that there’s no way to get contact information without watching it). Someone else recommended two folks, but one is an upholsterer who requires all furniture to be brought to her shop, and the other does fine woodwork. It’s possible that one of them might be willing to do the job, but I’m not optimistic. I’ll try the folks with the terrible webpage because I can get their phone number without going to their website. After that, I’ll probably try handymen instead of furniture repair people. I don’t know that this job requires particular expertise with furniture (I’m pretty sure it doesn’t, actually).

My sister called this morning. She’s pretty sure, at this point, that there’s no option but more breast surgery. That will mean paying the cost out of pocket, most likely, because it’s optional from the point of view of the insurance company (also, they have a huge deductible).

I washed Cordelia’s old coat in hope of getting some of the dirt off, and most of it did come off. The bottom edge, however, especially right near the zipper and pockets, is still very, very grungy looking. I guess the dirt is so ground in that there’s no getting it out. I decided to let the coat air dry since there’s no hurry. We aren’t going to donate it in the next twenty four hours. We might donate it this weekend, but even that is fairly unlikely. Moving the coat uncovered Cordelia’s old, black, faux leather jacket. I’m pretty sure that’s for donation, too. Cordelia also brought out a handful of pairs of shorts and pants last night, saying that they no longer fit. I had her put those in a trash bag. I was hopeful that that meant she was working on her dresser and that she’d have more clothes to get rid of soon, but nothing materialized. From what she’s said, I might be safe in assuming that she no longer wants anything in the larger drawers, but I really don’t want to do that and risk getting rid of something she cares about.

I wrote up a few books that need pre-approval before Books By Chance will take them. I’m giving them as much information as I can, but who knows? There are nine of them, and that seems few enough to be reasonable.

Five of them are simply older than their 1970 cut off (anything older requires pre-approval), but two are romances, and two are published by Scholastic. One of the romances is going for, as the lowest price listed under that ISBN, $48 on AbeBooks, so I think it’s worth selling. The other is iffier, but it’s one I never opened and that has no damage at all that I can see, and new copies of that book start at $15 on AbeBooks, so I’m hopeful that 'like new' could be at least $8. I’m pretty sure that the ban on romances is because they’re not generally worth very much for resale and so sorting through a box of them is only likely to yield one or two books actually worth the trouble of listing.

I think that the prohibition on Scholastic books is likely to be flexible because I got the impression they were wanting to avoid the dime a dozen skinny paperbacks. One of these is a hardcover from the early 1990s that’s going for over $10 once one gets past the former library copies and copies without dust jackets on AbeBooks.

Down in the basement, I found a book that I bought entirely for the title— Mastering Mary Sue. It’s porn, and it’s terribly, terribly written (and not even hot), but it was a bag sale, $4 or $5 a bag, and I had space, and the title made me laugh. I mainly wanted to have it in hand so that I could prove that it really exists. Huh, looking at AbeBooks, that particular edition seems to start at $17. I’d never have thought it would. It’s really, really terrible.

Sid sez, B Mi Valentine!*

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 06:29 pm
oursin: Sid the syphilis spirochaete from Giant Microbes (Sid the fluffy pox)
[personal profile] oursin

I wonder if everybody who has this notion thinks it is a groovy new never-before thing, a really fresh idea?

Some years since, I gave a talk on the history of the loathsome diseases caused by IMMORALITEE as part of a series at a certain institution, scheduled round about the V-Day.

The NOTCHES History of Sexuality blog has chosen to inaugurate its new series of STD-themed posts on this week.

I had referred to me an enquiry from a meedja person who was putting together a V-Day piece on the infectious ailments of LUHRV.

Yr hedjog is inclined to wonder whether they consider that this is quite amazingly original. We also wonder whether it is really entirely appropriate to a day which tends to be to an almost nauseating extent about Ye Monogamy.

*Sid wonders whether pretty spiral spirochaetes are going to replace hearts as the universal motif.

In other, is the really a good Valentine's Day idea, news: the gym I go to is doing a V-Day promotion for people to give their significant other a fortnight's free sampler of the gym. This strikes me as almost as ill-omened as the suggestion that you should give your inamorato/a Hot Sex: How to Do It.

[admin post] Admin Post: ANNOUNCEMENT: Say hello to our newest Lady Business editor!

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 12:34 pm
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
We're happy to announce that we're welcoming a new contributing editor to Lady Business. Please say hello to KJ!

KJ has been a frequent guest at Lady Business, stretching back to the beginning. She's helped behind the scenes with several projects, included Coverage of Women on SFF Blogs and and Gender Discrimination in SFF Awards. She's written several great reviews for and with us, including The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal by Kate Elliott and Julie Dillon and Cold Steel by Kate Elliott. Plus, she's done data analysis and video game commentary, too! We're thrilled that she'll be sharing more insights into pop culture and video games with us. She'll be posting soon — attention MCU fans — so be on the lookout! :D

Onward to learn more! Read more... )

Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 70

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 05:00 pm
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Posted by Alice Arneson

Words of Radiance Reread

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on! Last week, Kaladin and Shallan acrimoniously began their trek through the chasms back to the warcamps.  This week, once Shallan finds a way to distract the chasmfiend from trying to eat them, they plod mistrustfully on together.

This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. The index for this reread can be found here, and more Stormlight Archive goodies are indexed here.

Click on through to join the discussion!


Words of Radiance Reread Chapter 70 The Stormlight Archive

Chapter 70: From a Nightmare

Point of View: Kaladin, Shallan
Setting: the Chasms
Symbology: Spears, Chach, Kalak


IN WHICH Kaladin leads a mad dash through the chasms to escape the beast chasing them; Shallan suddenly goes the other way, forcing Kaladin to follow; she leads them back to where they first fell, distracting the chasmfiend with easy food; Shallan sneaks a peek while it’s feeding; they retreat and walk for hours in the darkness, trying to get as far away as possible; when they finally stop, Shallan draws a map of the chasms and begins the chasmfiend Memory drawing; after a few hours of sleep, they continue on, using her map to correct their direction; they continue the badinage, though with less hostility and more honesty; Shallan solemnly promises Kaladin that she means no harm to Adolin or his family; sunlight reveals that they’re going the wrong way again.


Quote of the Week

“All right,” Kaladin said. “Here it is. I can imagine how the world must appear to someone like you. Growing up pampered, with everything you want. To someone like you, life is wonderful and sunny and worth laughing over. That’s not your fault, and I shouldn’t blame you. You haven’t had to deal with pain or death like I have. Sorrow is not your companion.”

Silence. Shallan didn’t reply. How could she reply to that?

“What?” Kaladin finally asked.

“I’m trying to decide how to react,” Shallan said. “You see, you just said something very, very funny.”

“Then why aren’t you laughing?”

“Well, it isn’t that kind of funny.”

Oh, the irony. No, it isn’t that kind of funny at all. *sigh*

Not to thrash the expired steed, but I can’t wait until next week’s QOTW. Just sayin’. Kaladin’s blind assumptions about other people’s lives don’t stack up well against reality, and it’s about time he learned that.



Before we talk about this chapter, I just remembered something I left out of last week’s discussion, and it’s bugging me. Who were the Parshendi that showed up just as the bridge was dumped? Were they some of Eshonai’s stormforms out for a practice run? Were they Thude’s company of dissenters who refused stormform? Will we ever know? Does it matter?

Okay, now I’ve got that out of my system…

Here we go, running through the chasms, chased by a nightmare beastie that makes a noise like a thousand horns being blown. That would be… unnerving. Shallan has enough presence of mind to recognize when they’re close to the original landing area, and distracts the fiend with fresh corpses while she gets a good look and a Memory. Kaladin, meanwhile, sticks close to her because he refuses to abandon Adolin’s betrothed, and every time he stands still, he thinks about Sylphrena and how he can’t even feel the Stormlight in the spheres he’s holding.

I do feel sorry for him.

That said, as usual lately, I still want to smack him. He can be so infuriatingly ungracious for no reason. On the bright side, it gives Shallan the “bridgeman grunt language” for a running joke, so there’s that.

The shared terror of the chasmfiend chase, and the resulting exhaustion, seems to have a more salutary effect on them than merely sharing impossible survival from a 200-foot drop did. At least, they’ve stopped yelling, and while they’re still sniping at each other, neither of them is going at it wholeheartedly any more.

And really, they do begin to get on better. Their snark gets more… personal? Not sure what the word I’m looking for is, here, but over these few hours, the things they say are both more individualized and less hurtful—the kind of stuff you toss around when you’re just taking the mickey out of someone. It’s very, very like the best of the times she had with her brothers in the flashbacks, really, when a smart remark would pop into her head and they’d insist that she say it. Odd, in a way, that Kaladin should be the first person she can play this game with since she left home. She played it a little, with the sailors on the Wind’s Pleasure, but other than that, she’s really had to watch her tongue most of the time. Now, probably to distract herself, she’s treating Kaladin very much like a brother.

As their morning conversation reveals, Kaladin’s assessment of Shallan has been limited to a) flaky spoiled lighteyed woman or b) clever sneaky impostor threat. (How he reconciles those two is beyond me, though.) Anyway, down here in the chasms, with her hair frazzled, her dress torn and bedraggled, wearing boots because she put sanity before vanity, toughing it out right alongside him… he’s finally seeing her as a human being, not just an object of suspicion or class hatred. I suspect that Shallan’s ability to draw out a perfect map of where they’ve been—and the obvious value of that skill—is also a step in Kaladin seeing her as an actual person.

The reverse is also true: As they talk, she realizes that not only is he taciturn, he’s a contradiction. He’s clearly had a good education, demonstrated by the way he thinks and the way he speaks, and that really doesn’t jibe with the slave marks or the shash brand. Even though she continues to make jokes of everything, she does begin to see him as a person, not just “Adolin’s grumpy guard captain.”

It’s a start.

Before the chapter’s over, they’ll get downright honest with each other. To wit: He finally tells her point-blank that he doesn’t trust her, and she tells him a little of why she’s actually there, at the Shattered Plains—because of Jasnah’s research. Since the guards reported her asking Adolin about getting rid of the parshmen, that comes up too, and further conversation—actual conversation!—ensues on that subject before it fades back to the snarkfest. And then they have the conversation quoted above, in which Kaladin displays a complete (and unjustifiable, IMO) class-based analysis of her character and her past, telling her how wonderful and easy her life has been. The irony…

We could have a big knock-down drag-out fight about whose backstory is the more tragic or traumatic or painful, but that’s not the point. Both of them have horrible things in their past, and both of them have legitimate reasons to feel that life has been less than kind to them. As far as I’m concerned, the more important question is how they deal with the pain of past tragedy, and in this case I find Shallan stronger than Kaladin.

While Shallan has blocked out the first, worst event, she hasn’t blocked out all the years since then—all the years as her father spiraled downward, her brothers went psychotic, her family split, servants were abused, her stepmother was murdered, and she herself killed her father to try to save the rest. Those events are all in her active memory, and she deals with it by maintaining (some would say exaggerating) her sense of humor and by choosing to do what she can to fix things. It’s probable that she subconsciously holds herself responsible for all of it, without knowing quite why.

Kaladin, meanwhile, deals with his past by overtly holding all lighteyes responsible for everything bad that’s ever happened to him. This… bugs me. No end. It’s totally a realistic behavior, of course—it’s just not entirely valid, either for Kaladin or in real life. But… I’ve said all that before. One thing to add, though, which we’ll hit in more detail next week: Under his surface resentment of lighteyes, he half-unconsciously holds himself responsible for all of the bad things, whether they were really his fault or not.

Personalities. Human nature is just weird, you know?



Same night, and into the following day. At the end of this chapter, there are nine days left in the countdown. (We’ll just take several months to cover those nine days…)



“Those spren,” Shallan whispered, so soft he could barely hear. “I’ve seen those…”

They danced around the chasmfiend, and were the source of the light. They looked like small glowing arrows, and they surrounded the beast in schools, though occasionally one would drift away from the others and then vanish like a small plume of smoke rising into the air.

“Skyeels,” Shallan whispered. “They follow skyeels too…”

Referring back to Shallan’s skyeel sketches from The Way of Kings, the sailors call these “luckspren,” though she doubts that is their true name. So… what is their true name? Predatorspren?

Next question: are they the same as the spren that float away from the carcass of a dead chasmfiend? Those are described like wisps of smoke from a snuffed candle; these are like “small glowing arrows”… until they drift too far away. Then they sound like the same thing, vanishing like “a small plume of smoke.” Huh.


All Creatures Shelled and Feathered

The chasmfiend gets the title for this chapter; it looks like something from a nightmare, according to Kaladin:

The beast filled the chasm. Long and narrow, it wasn’t bulbous or bulky, like some small cremlings. It was sinuous, sleek, with that arrowlike face and sharp mandibles.

It was also wrong. Wrong in a way difficult to describe. Big creatures were supposed to be slow and docile, like chulls. Yet this enormous beast moved with ease, its legs up on the sides of the chasm, holding it so that its body barely touched the ground. It ate the corpse of a fallen soldier, grasping the body in smaller claws by its mouth, then ripping it in half with a gruesome bite.

That face was like something from a nightmare. Evil, powerful, almost intelligent.

Seriously. What kind of mind dreams up critters like this?? I think I agree with Kaladin about the nightmare thing.

Shallan, of course, turns on her natural-history-scholar mode, and observes that although it eats carrion, it’s got all the equipment to be a predator. What it doesn’t appear to have is a reason to be hanging around the chasms after pupating. I can’t help wondering if this will prove to be Significant… Or maybe it’s just something that happens near the Weeping for some reason.


Ars Arcanum

While we don’t see any Lightweaving, we certainly see the effects of Shallan’s bond with Pattern. The only way she kept ahead of the chasmfiend was by using Stormlight for agility, speed, and endurance. The only way they’re getting out alive is by using a map created with her bond-enhanced visual memory. So… I guess that qualifies as magic arts, okay?


You Have to Break a Lot of Rockbuds

Heh. No rockbuds were broken in the making of this chapter. It’s a good thing soldiers tend to be careful about carrying rations everywhere they go, even though chull-jerky doesn’t sound all that appetizing. I guess it keeps body and soul together. That’s not nothing.


Heraldic Symbolism

Chach: Brave/Obedient, Guard. Kalak: Resolute/Builder, Maker. What do they have to do with this chapter? These are not Heralds normally associated with either Kaladin or Shallan, really. Chach-the-Guard represents Kaladin-the-bodyguard once in a while, but he’s not on duty here. Except… he repeatedly thinks of Shallan in terms of “Adolin’s betrothed” and, conversely, as a potential threat/spy/infiltrator to the Kholin family. So I guess Guard makes some sense? As for Kalak, “resolute” probably fits their determination to survive. Maybe? That’s all I’ve got for him.


Shipping Wars

Nah, I’m not gonna go there. Y’all know how I feel about it.


Well, that ought to keep us busy until next week, when we’ll dodge back to the warcamp with Teft, Sigzil, and Dalinar for a bit, before we return to the chasms, a few of my favorite moments, and… the chasmfiend. Big, big chapter next week.

Alice Arneson is a long-time commenter and Sanderson beta-reader. She’s both excited and highly amused that yet another Sanderson book is releasing next week, only three weeks after The Bands of Mourning. This time, it’s Calamity, the final book of The Reckoners trilogy, releasing next Tuesday. If you’re going to the Seattle signing at the University Bookstore next Wednesday, please be sure to say hello! She’ll be the tall master-servant accompanied by the somewhat shorter Mistborn.

Midnight in Karachi Episode 43: Sarah Pinborough

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 04:30 pm
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Posted by Mahvesh Murad

Midnight in Karachi Sarah Pinborough 13 Minutes Mahvesh Murad

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

This week British Fantasy Award winner Sarah Pinborough joins the show to talk about YA fiction, whether trigger warnings are needed and her new YA crime thriller 13 Minutes (available February 18 in the UK from Gollancz).



Listen to Midnight in Karachi Episode 43 (33:00):

On a mobile device or want to save the podcast for later?

Midnight in Karachi Episode 43: Sarah Pinborough

Subscribe in iTunes

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If you have a suggestion for Midnight in Karachi—a prospective guest, a book, a subject—please let me know at and we’ll see what we can do for you!

Far-Flung Destinations for the Fantasy Tourist

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 04:00 pm
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Posted by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Labyrinth fantasy tourism far flung destinations

Fantasy fiction is a journey to a place nobody has ever been in waking life, a chance to meet the locals (unfriendly), sample their traditional wares (murder) and take in the picturesque scenery (volcanos and blasted wastelands). The most common destinations of fantasy fiction are rooted in Medieval Europe, a tradition that began with romances like Amadis of Gaul and Orlando Furioso and was revivified (with a sizable dash of Germanic and Celtic folklore) by Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Worlds drawing on Europe remain the most popular ports for the fantasy tourist.

The Tiger and the Wolf, my new novel from Tor UK, draws on other times and places—pre-Colombian America, the early bronze age, even palaeontological deep time. Similarly, although it’s always fun to spend a weekend break watching rival kings brain one another and spoil each other’s weddings, there are plenty of worlds off the beaten track for the intrepid tourist.

Roughing It

Stone Spring Stephen Baxter fantasy tourismIf you’re in the mood for an extreme holiday, why not the Stone Age? The facilities aren’t up to much, accommodations can be rustic, the locals are poor conversationalists, and the choice of souvenirs is limited. Nonetheless, the dawn of humanity can be an exhilarating trip for the hardy traveller. The destination they put on the front of all the brochures is Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear, with its twilight of the Neanderthals and rise of their new neighbours. If you prefer a destination with a little more of the fantastical, try Julian May’s The Many-Colored Land, with its cast of lordly elves and shapechanging monsters. Technically it’s a science fiction setting, but you need to check your mobile phones at the portal. Or, if you prefer really getting some grit under your nails, try the turbulent climate of Stephen Baxter’s Stone Spring. Pack your swimsuit, because if your resort isn’t by the sea today, it will be before the end of your trip…

Going East

Throne of the Crescent Moon Saladin Ahmed fantasy tourismIf Medieval Europe is too short on creature comforts, you can be assured of a genteel welcome in more easterly climes. Perhaps you want somewhere with music and poets, sophisticated architecture, silks, spices, and somewhere to shop. Many fantasy views of the east are through the eyes of European-style visitors, but we’ve all been on holiday with those guys—they won’t eat the food, won’t learn the language, you wonder why they left home in the first place. You never get a proper feel for the place unless you see it through the eyes of the locals. Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon, a rich tapestry of Middle-Eastern-influenced religion, art, love, and life, is an excellent place to start. Or perhaps you prefer to go further afield than that? Barry Hughart’s Master Li Chronicles are a perambulation through an “Ancient China that never was” in the company of your guide, the world’s most irascible sage and private detective. For those who wish to go further from the historical than that, we recommend Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings for a complex and active visit to a world influenced by the Han Dynasty. Plan for a long trip—it takes several decades to see everything.

The Iron Curtain

Wolfhound Century fantasy tourismSince the end of the Cold War, of course, destinations that were formerly out of bounds are now tourist hotspots. Why not brave the hospitality of Eastern Europe, with its rich myths, complex history and confusing traditions? You can travel to Liz Williams’ Nine Layers of Sky without ever quite leaving modern-day Russia (be very careful that any keepsakes you acquire are not in fact portals to another world), or sign up for the Tsarist Oppression Experience of Peter Higgins’ Wolfhound Century. For the more fantastically inclined, Bulikov in Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs has a distinctly Eastern European flavour to it—just don’t get the locals talking about religion. Lastly, for travellers who want a real flavour of rural life straight out of a folk tale, the incomparable Naomi Novik’s Uprooted offers real Slavic peasant hospitality for any visitors who enjoy good food, stories and never, ever going into the woods under any circumstances.

Toga Parties

Romanitas Sophia MacDougall fantasy tourism ancient Greece RomeThe Classical World has been a dream destination since the actual fall of Rome, and one that fantasy visits on many occasions. For the truly immersive Hellenic experience, join Latro in Gene Wolfe’s Soldier of the Mist in a whirlwind tour of the city-states, their personalities, gods, and monsters. Visitors are advised to retain their written itineraries, as the memory of your guide is notoriously fallible. For a more active holiday, David Gemmell’s Lion of Macedon lets you witness the rise of Phillip and Alexander with dark magic hiding around every corner, whilst John James’ Votan takes you on a trip from the heart of the Roman Empire all the way north to the beginnings of Germanic myth. For those who feel that, plumbing and philosophy aside, the ancient world remains somewhat inhospitable for a 21st-century traveller, we recommend Sophia McDougall’s Romanitas, all the social inequality and political skulduggery of the Roman world brought into the modern day.

All Mod Cons

Perdido Street Station fantasy tourism China MievilleSome tourists, after doing the rounds of the castles, city states, towers, and the odd orc-laden spelunking expedition, prefer a destination with running water, working drains, and decent healthcare. As well as the traditional pomp and pageantry of the Middle Ages, fantastic holidays can also take you to somewhere closer to home in terms of facilities and conveniences. Why not try China Miéville’s Bas-Lag, as seen in Perdido Street Station? With a functioning public transport system, a world-class university, and some truly exotic night life, this is one of our most popular destinations. The solicitous government ensures that your first complaint will be your last. Alternatively, a visit to Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings allows you to stretch your money via the advantageous exchange rate that comes from the total magical devastation of Paris and much of the wider world. Sample French and Vietnamese street cuisine, have your picture taken with a fallen angel, and never leave your hotel without House-appointed bodyguards.


And we’ve barely scratched the surface—we haven’t even talked about African-influenced fantasy destinations such as David Anthony Durham’s Acacia series or N.K. Jemisin’s Egypt-inspired Dreamblood duology, or the Aztec feel of de Bodard’s Obsidian and Blood. Or what about a cruise round some islands? Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea is perennially popular, but don’t neglect Frances Hardinge’s Gullstruck Island (The Lost Conspiracy in the US) or Terry Pratchett’s Nation. Or there’s special rates on a really, really gloomy weekend break in gothic Gormenghast… Fantasy fiction is, after all, the gateway to countless destinations, from the near-historical to the surreal and bizarre, with more added to the brochure every day.

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s new novel, The Tiger and the Wolf, is out from Tor UK on February 11th. He is also the author of the Shadows of the Apt series, Guns of the Dawn, and the forthcoming Spiderlight, available August 2nd from Publishing. You can find him on Twitter at @aptshadow.

(no subject)

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 09:57 am
kittydesade: a bright red queen chess piece at the head of a diagonal line of white pawns on a white background (red queen running)
[personal profile] kittydesade
So on the ten-fifteen minute or so drive in to work I got treated to stories from my aunt about how she told the mailman I was biting the heads off of pigeons, how she beat rats off my infant mother with a stick when they lived in a drafty castle in Lisbon with no running water while my grandfather was in Angola, how my grandfather slowly moved away from thesis writing to more practical paying work because he had five kids and his PhD advisor had had a stroke causing him to lose his English and speak only? German, and how sometimes Grandpa and Grandma would go to Vienna to see the opera and leave the kids in care of a family friend with 40-50 pairs of shoes and a handful of ducks that lived in the house with them.

And something about an Ellis Island-looking picture, although it must have been in reverse because they traveled OUT of the country for Grandpa's work, never actually emigrated, and the only immigrants in the family were Grandma's parents at best. If I have the lineages right it was Grandma's father as a child and Grandma's grandparents.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that compared to my parents my childhood was pretty fucking normal.

(We pause this entry for me to go back and look at the old Cassie Cla(i)re debacle and holy shit Cassie Claire and company were basically the GamerGate of fandom. I am so glad I was never involved in anything even remotely peripheral to that. Except for using sometimes.)

Okay, but before I got distracted with my wackyass family, I had good news! Progress towards one of the good but uncertain things continues in the form of an interview! So, yes, the good thing is that the boy is looking to trade up to a better/better paying job and hopefully he will get it. There will be more as that develops, but the interview is tomorrow and we're hoping to hear shortly after that.

Work is giving me a small headache and an urge to strangle people, surprisingly my own aunts and uncles at the moment, and Habitica is trying to swallow its own tail but at least the rest of the day is going smooth-ish and I'm clearing shit off my desk that needed desperately to be cleared. I think I've had to go out into the fucking freezing for an errand while at work at least once a day every goddamn day this week, which does not make me happy, but. Stuff is slowly getting done. So good job for that.


Thursday, February 11th, 2016 05:29 pm
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick

You know, I think that this is much cuter than the tartan one, although that may be partly because it's half-sized.

This evening, we're off to Canterbury for an early Valentine's meal: we've got a half-price voucher for the great-food-dodgy-service restaurant, and it expires today!

Today's question

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 12:07 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Is it still a Traveller campaign if it's set on a specific world, with no interstellar voyaging?

Correction to yesterday’s post

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 08:59 am
dichroic: (oar asterisk)
[personal profile] dichroic

Because apparently I was thinking very fuzzily. Yesterday I wrote, among a list of things that have annoyed me:

The US Electoral College system. Did you know that Clinton won New Hampshire? According to the CNN article I linked there, it’s true – in the only way that really matters. She got more delegates than he did, even though he won about 50% more of the popular vote. But it depends how you count – other articles say he had 13 delegates and she has 9. The discrepancy appears to be because she’s got a bunch of “superdelegates”, who can support whoever they want. (ETA: Here’s a clear explanation.) This is an evil system, for a few reasons. First, if you tell people they have a representative democracy and get their vote counted proportionally when in actuality there are a bunch of unelected party officials (and former officials) steering from the backseat, that is what we technically call a “lie”. Second, I actually kind of understand how those superdelegates hark back to the original intentions of the Founding Fathers, only it doesn’t work. Jefferson wrote about this very clearly. The original point of the Electoral College (in a time without computerized counting of ballots) was that citizens would each elect the wisest local person they knew, and then those wise men in each state (of course they were men) would gather together and choose their candidate for President. He (Jefferson) opined that this two stage system tended to choose better than a direct election would. Maybe he was right, but you can’t tell that from our current ridiculous system of pledged and unpledged candidates. The problem here is, citizens don’t get to choose those unpledged delegates. They are a shadow electorate, forged in the bowels of party machines.

Except the superdelegates aren’t part of the Electoral College, because they’re part of the primary elections, not the general. And the primaries are basically the internal workings of the two major US political parties – how each one chooses the candidate they’ll put forth for the general election. We’ve institutionalized the two parties to where we think of them as official governmental groups, but they are really not – as far as I know, they are still private organizations who can organize themselves as they see fit.

1. I still don’t like the Electoral College, because while I think it was needed logistically once upon a time and had a laudable goal, I do not think either of those things are still true, and it takes us a step away from true representive democracy.

2. I do not like the superdelegate system (though I don’t blame candidates for using it, because they have to work within the system they have) because I think that a system where some people’s votes count more than others is unfair.

But they are two separate things – and since superdelegates are essentially a private matter within each party, I don’t think electoral reform can clean out those stables.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

fuq u apple

Friday, February 12th, 2016 03:47 am
owlboy: (DW - River grumpy face)
[personal profile] owlboy
Why are all the interesting sound design apps for bloody Mac and iPad???? I can't afford a Mac or an iPad. I'm going to eat everything.

I can talk about this now

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 10:51 am
yhlee: M31 galaxy (M31)
[personal profile] yhlee
Upgraded LIGO detectors spot gravitational waves [Ars Technica].


Now when Joe gives tours and people ask him if they've detected any gravity waves yet, he can say yes instead of "no" (for "I can neither confirm nor deny")!

ETA: Here's someone live-blogging the press conference in D.C. Hi, Rai Weiss! (I doubt he remembers me; I only met him once.)

Joe said that his boss Joe Giaime had no idea how many people would show up at the Livingston site today on account of this. I'll have to ask Joe (my Joe) when he gets home!

ETA #2: For the really morbidly curious, the paper: "Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger" by B. P. Abbott et al. (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration) [that is probably hundred of people--it's a HUGE collaboration] in Physical Review Letters 11 February 2016.

better put your kingdom up for sale

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 11:18 am
musesfool: Oliver, Diggle, & Felicity from Arrow (proved things i never believed)
[personal profile] musesfool
This morning, new boss2 was late because a train was being held at 34th St because of 'unsanitary conditions.'


If they really held up trains for that, THE SUBWAY WOULD NEVER RUN. We can only imagine what horror show was perpetrated on that number 2 train. (...pun not intended? I don't even know.)

In other news, I keep thinking it's Friday and then being disappointed that it's only Thursday. And I worked from home on Monday so it should feel like a short week!

Anyway, teevee:

Arrow: Sins of the Father
spoilers )

Star Wars Rebels
spoilers )

I'm not really sure this actually counts as a spoiler, but fine: spoiler for the season finale? episode title? )

In other tv news, apparently, Jess is going to return on the Gilmore Girls revival, as is -ugh- Logan. I still like Jess best of Rory's terrible boyfriends - he had definitely done a lot of growing up by the time he showed up in s6 - but if they're not going to give me Paris/Rory, can't she have met someone new? Sigh. I'd much rather focus on Emily and Luke/Lorelai than Rory anyway.


Books on a Thursday(?): Inspector O

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 10:30 am
gramarye1971: a sinister shot of Senate House, University of London (Ministry of Truth - Senate House)
[personal profile] gramarye1971
I don't write about books as often as I used to, but I thought I ought to give a quick overview of the current mystery-espionage-noir series that's caught my attention: James Church's Inspector O series.

North Korean noir is about as close as I can get to a general summary of the books, though the plot structures usually run more along the lines of a police procedural. The series protagonist, Inspector O, works for the Ministry of People's Security in Pyongyang, the unloved policing force of the capital. For the most part, he's responsible for looking into cases that fall on the fine line between police work and state security, which in North Korea has a lot of overlap. An unidentified foreigner found dead in the city's elite Koryo Hotel, a daylight bank robbery (quite possibly the first in Pyongyang's history) that looks like it might be an inside job...these are the types of cases that land on O's desk. They are also the types of cases that the higher-ups almost never want to see solved, so O frequently ends up working not only against the criminals but also against the entire bureaucratic machine -- a daunting prospect, in a country like North Korea.

Staple stuff of noir: the immediate crime, the overarching conspiracy or coverup behind it, the cop or detective who fully understands what he's up against but nonetheless tries to get to the bottom of it out of sheer stubbornness or some other internal motivation. But Church has crafted an interesting protagonist who works well within his unusual setting. O is the grandson of a revered anti-Japanese resistance fighter and the son of parents who were killed during the Korean War, a lineage that makes it possible for him to flout certain written and unwritten rules of North Korean society. He almost never wears his badge with Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il on it -- a transgression that would have severe repercussions for an ordinary citizen -- and his grandfather's pragmatism has given him very little interest in ideologies of any kind. At the same time, he's quick to take offense when any foreigner denigrates his country, and more than one foreign intelligence operative finds out that O is not a person to be trifled with. He's able to embody the contradictions of the genre rather well. And the secondary characters (including the women, who aren't just femmes fatale or other noir-ish stereotypes) also are good about driving the plot, whether you're hoping for them to get out alive or eagerly waiting for their comeuppance.

Church occasionally publishes short 'conversations' with Inspector O on the 38 North website. These little snippets were enough to draw me into getting the first two books from the library. Both The Corpse in the Koryo and Hidden Moon can be pretty brutal at times -- the first one ends in a veritable bloodbath, and the second one sees O caught up in an interrogation scene that's rather intense. But if you're interested in a mystery or police procedural series that's a little out of the ordinary, and have more than a passing interest in North Korea, the Inspector O books are worth investigating.

(no subject)

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 03:49 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1484 aged 51 George of Baden (my toy,wikipedia). Grandson of Charles; grandfather of Margaret; wife of Henry VI. Bishop of Metz.

Born on this day in 1466 to King Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York (my toy,wikipedia). Wife of Henry VII.

United States of Japan

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 03:00 pm
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Posted by Peter Tieryas

United States of Japan excerpt Peter Tieryas

We’re proud to present an excerpt from Peter Tieryas’ United States of Japan, a spiritual successor to Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, out March 1 from Angry Robot Books.

Most of United States of Japan takes place in 1989 following Captain Beniko Ishimura in the office of the censor and Agent Akiko Tsukino, member of the Tokko (the Japanese secret police). Los Angeles is a technological mecca, a fusion of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Tokyo. During WWII, one of the biggest weaknesses the Japanese Empire had was its dependency on oil to which it had very little access. After their shared victory with the Germans, they prioritized developing solar energy and electrical batteries for all their vehicles. That sensibility is reflected in the entire aesthetic of this new Los Angeles, clean, pristine, grand, and gleaming in neon. At the same time, I wanted to contrast this by showing the dark origins of the USJ. To do this, I felt it was important to know what happens in the direct aftermath of the Japanese Empire’s victory in WWII. This was in part influenced by a visit I made to the Japanese American Museum in San Jose, learning about (and being horrified by) the history of what happened back then. This opening chapter takes place forty years before the events of USJ and is about Ben’s parents who were locked away in a Japanese-American Internment Camp, waiting to find out their fate. —Peter Tieryas



Chapter 1

War Relocation Authority Center #051
July 1, 1948

The death of the United States of America began with a series of signatures. Twenty year-old Ruth Ishimura had no idea, imprisoned hundreds of mile away in a prison camp for Americans of Japanese descent. The camp was made up of dilapidated barracks, poorly constructed guard posts, and a barbed fence that surrounded the perimeter. Almost everything was covered in coats of dust and Ruth found it hard to breathe. She shared her room with eleven other women and two of them were comforting one of her roommates, Kimiko.

“They always send him back,” her companions told her.

Kimiko was frayed, her eyes swollen from tears, throat congested with phlegm and dirt. “Last time, they beat Bernard so hard, he couldn’t walk for a month.” Bernard’s only sin was that eight years ago his work took him to Japan for a month. Despite being completely loyal to America, he was under suspicion.

Ruth’s cot was a mess, music sheets scattered over the army blankets. Two of the strings on her violin were broken and the third looked brittle enough to snap at any moment. Her instrument was lying next to faded music sheets from Strauss and Vivaldi. The table, the chairs, even the shelves were built from broken boxes, disassembled crates, and any spare parts they could find. The wood floors were dirty, even though they were swept every morning, and there were gaps she had to be careful not to trip on. The oil stove reeked of overuse and she wished they had something warmer for the freezing nights. She glanced over at Kimiko, who was crying even harder. “This is the first time they’ve kept him overnight,” she said. “They always, always send him back.”

Ruth could see the grim expression on both the women next to Kimiko. An overnight stay usually meant the worst. Ruth sneezed, feeling something stuck in her throat. She pounded her rib cages with the flat end of her fist, hoping her breath would clear. It was early in the morning and already getting hot—weather extremes were normal in this part of the desert. Her neck was covered in sweat and she looked over at the picture of a younger Kimiko, a comely lady who had grown up as heiress to what had once been a fortune.

“Ruth! Ruth!” Outside the barracks, her fiancé, Ezekiel Song, rushed towards the room. “All the guards are gone!” he exclaimed, as he entered.

Ruth rubbed the dust off Ezekiel’s hair and asked, “What are you talking about?”

“The Americans are gone. No one’s seen them all morning. Some of the elders are saying they saw them driving away.”

Kimiko looked up. “The Americans are gone?”

Ezekiel gleamed. “Looks like it.”


“I think they were scared away.”

“Then it’s really happening?” Kimiko asked, hope surging in her voice.

Ezekiel shrugged. “I don’t know for sure. But I heard the Emperor demanded we all be freed.”

“Why would he care about us?”

“Because we’re all Japanese,” Ruth suggested.

“I’m only half Japanese,” Ezekiel replied. His other half was Chinese and he had a scrawny frame and bent shoulders that made him look shorter than he was. Ezekiel had a tanned complexion from his days working in the fields, his skin dried like a prune in sunlight. He was stout, a boyish charm hidden behind his curly black hair that formed a cowlick. “All the elders said we’re American.”

“Not anymore,” Ruth said, aware even those with a sixteenth of Japanese blood in them had been sent to the Japanese-American prison camps independent of actual citizenship. She was thin like most of the other children, with noodly limbs and chapped lips. She had fair skin, although her hair was a disheveled mess that tangled into twisted knots. In contrast to Ezekiel, Ruth stood with poise and determination, refusing to let the dust unnerve her.

“What’s wrong?” Ezekiel asked Kimiko.

“Bernard’s been gone all night,” Kimiko replied.

“Have you checked Wrath Rock?”

“We’re not allowed.”

“Guards aren’t there anymore. We can go check now.”

The five of them made their way out of the small room onto the prison grounds. There were hundreds of barracks equidistant to one another, arranged into dreary, desolate blocks. A sign read War Relocation Authority Center 51, which someone had crossed out and marked in substitution, Wrath 51. Most of the barrack walls were covered with tarred paper that was peeling away, brittle strips that had worn down from the fickle climate. They’d been layered over multiple times to buttress and strengthen the exterior, but their attempts at thickening the skin had only weakened the overall facade. There was the remains of a school, a baseball diamond, what might have passed as a shop, and the semblance of a community, though most of those were either abandoned or in ruins. It was a prison city with a veil of endless dirt and a scorching sun that imposed its will through an exhaustive haze of suppression.

As the group made their way to Wrath Rock, a crowd gathered around the guard tower in the north-west corner. “Go see what’s happening,” one of Kimiko’s companions said.

Ezekiel and Ruth looked to Kimiko, who ignored the crowd and sprinted towards Wrath Rock without them.

The two approached the guard tower that several of the men had begun to investigate. Both the Issei and Nissei watched raptly, shouting instructions, asking questions every step of the way. Ruth did not recognize most of them; there were the elderly Issei who had been the first to immigrate to America, then the younger Nissei who were born in the States. Everyone was there, from the man with three moles on his pig nose to a lady who was wearing broken glasses, and the twins whose faces had diverged in the wrinkles formed from the way they reacted to the bitterness of their experiences. Suffering was an unbiased craftsman, molding flesh on bone, dark recesses dipping into pores of unmitigated tribulation. Most of the prisoners had only a few changes of clothing, keeping what they were wearing as clean as they could manage. Knit bindings prevented them from falling apart, subtly woven in to minimize inconsistencies in the fabric. The shoes were harder to mask as they were worn down, unable to be replaced, sandals and callused feet being common. There were many teens gathered, curious as to what all the noise was about.

“Make sure the Americans aren’t hiding in a compartment.”

“They could just be on break.”

“Did they take their rations?”

“What about their weapons?”

The ones who searched came back after a few minutes and confirmed that the American soldiers had evacuated their posts, taking their weapons with them.

The commotion that followed mainly revolved around the question of what to do next.

“Go back home! What else should we do?” one of the younger men posed.

But the older ones were reluctant. “Go back to what? We don’t even know what’s going on or where we are.”

“What if there’s still fighting out there?”

“We’ll be shot before we get anywhere.”

“What if the Americans are just testing us?”

“Testing us for what? They’re gone.”

Ezekiel looked at Ruth and asked, “What do you want to do?”

“If this is true and they are letting us go… My parents never would have believed it.”

It’d been several years since the soldiers came to her school class and ordered them to go outside and stand in line. She had thought it was for a field trip or something short because they only let her take one suitcase of her belongings. She cried so much when she discovered it was going to be their final day in San Jose and she hadn’t brought any of her favorite books.

There were gasps and urgent exclamations as people pointed south. Ruth looked where the fingers were aiming. A small column of dust presaged a tiny jeep driving their way.

“Which flag is it?” one of the younger men asked.

Eyes went sharply to the side of the jeep, the dust cloud covering the markings.

“It’s American.”

“No, you baka. It’s a big red circle.”

“Are you blind? That’s definitely American.”

With the jeep getting closer, time seemed to stretch. What was only a few meters seemed like kilometers, and some even thought it might be a mirage, taunting them with the illusion of succor. The sun pounded them with its heat and their clothes were getting drenched from sweat and expectation. Every breeze meant Ruth’s lungs became a miasma of breathlessness, but she refused to leave.

“Do you see the flag yet?” someone asked.

“Not yet,” another replied.

“What’s wrong with your eyes?”

“What’s wrong with yours?”

A minute later, it was close enough to espy the markings.

“It’s someone from the Imperial Japanese Army.”

The jeep came to a stop and a staunch young man stepped out. He was almost six feet tall and wore the brown uniform of a Japanese imperial soldier along with a sennibari, a red sash with a thousand stitches to bring good luck. The prisoners surrounded him and asked, “What’s going on out there?”

Before answering them, he bowed to them. With tears bracing against his brows, he said, “You probably don’t recognize me. My name is Sato Fukasaku and I’m a corporal in the IJA. You knew me as Steven when I escaped the camp four years ago and joined the Japanese army. I bring good news.”

Ruth, like most of the others in the group, was incredulous. The Fukasaku boy was an emaciated fourteen year-old boy who was barely five feet tall when he disappeared. Other boys refused to let him play baseball because he was so small and struck out every time he was at bat.

“What’s happened out there?” one of the women asked.

He looked at them with a giddy grin that belied his soldierly presence and stated, “We’ve won.”

“Won what?”

“The American government surrendered this morning,” he said. “This is no longer the United States of America, but the United States of Japan. Some rebels are on the run and they’re trying to make a stand in Los Angeles, but it won’t last long. Not after yesterday.”

“What happened yesterday?”

“The Emperor unleashed a secret weapon to make the Americans realize they have no chance. Buses are on the way and they should be here soon to take you to safety. You’re all to be freed and provided new homes. The Emperor personally asked that you be taken care of. There are over two hundred thousand of us imprisoned throughout the camps who will now be given new opportunities in the USJ. Long live the Emperor!” he yelled.

The Issei instinctively yelled back, “Long live the Emperor,” while the Nissei, having been born in the States, didn’t know they were expected to yell correspondingly.

Fukasaku shouted again, “Tenno Heika Banzai!” which was Japanese for “long live the Emperor.”

This time, everyone followed in unison: “Banzai!

Ruth yelled too, surprised that, for the first time in her life, she felt something like awe swell up in her.

A military truck pulled in behind them.

“To celebrate the good news, we’ve brought food and sake,” Fukasaku stated.

Then Ruth saw something she’d never seen before. Coming out of the driver’s side was a woman in full Imperial uniform. She was ethnically mixed as she had blue eyes with her choppy black hair. Fukasaku saluted her and said, “Welcome, lieutenant.”

She waved off his gesture, looked to the crowd with empathetic eyes, and said, “On behalf of the Empire, I honor all of you for your sacrifice and suffering.” She bowed low and kept the stance, signifying her deep feeling. She spoke with a perfect English accent so she must have been Nissei. Ruth realized she wasn’t the only one surprised by the female officer. The prisoners were staring at her, never having seen a male soldier salute a female superior. Ruth’s eyes went to the shin gunto, the army sword that was a form of badge for any officer. “My name is Masuyo Yoshida. I grew up in San Francisco, like many of you, where I had a western identity as Erica Blake. My mother was a brave Japanese woman who taught me the importance of our culture. Like you, I was imprisoned, falsely accused of espionage, and separated from my family. The IJA rescued me and gave me a new Japanese name and identity to cast off my false Western one. We were never accepted as Americans, and it was our folly to seek it. I am now a lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army and you are all citizens of the Empire. All of you will be given new identities as well. We should celebrate!”

From the back of the truck, four soldiers carted out barrels of alcohol.

“Someone go get the cups.”

It wasn’t long before everyone was cheering the Emperor and asking Steven/Sato details about the war. Some of the elders took Lieutenant Yoshida on a tour of the prison grounds. Ezekiel’s face was flushed red from the alcohol and he said to Ruth, “We both should join the army.”

“What will you do? I can do more pushups than you can,” she teased him.

“I’ll get into shape.” He flexed his muscles.

“It looks like a little mouse,” she said, feeling the small bump on his arm. “Did you notice they both have the new Nambu Type 18 semi-automatic pistols?”

“I didn’t even see their guns.”

“The Type 18 is supposed to fix the weaker striker recoil springs and make them much stronger. The older model had 8mm cartridges and—”

Suddenly, there was screaming. Everyone turned around. There were multiple voices wailing from the direction of Wrath Rock. In the shock of all that had transpired, Ruth realized she had forgotten about Kimiko.

Wrath Rock was the only building with three floors in the complex, housing the soldiers as well as a special interrogation center. It was made of red bricks, a big rectangular building with two wings jutting from its sides. Disturbing howls often emanated from the building in the middle of the night, and depending on the angle and strength of the moonlight, it glowed like a crimson stone oozing blood rays. Everyone approaching the building did their best to suppress shudders. The American flag was still waving high above the Rock.

A dozen prisoners had been carried out, emaciated, bloodied, and bruised.

“What happened here?” Corporal Fukasaku asked.

A man wearing only a loincloth with half his hair ripped out shouted, “They killed my brothers and accused me of collaborating with the Empire. I wish I had!” He tried to spit on the ground, but his mouth was too dry to form anything. His scalp was covered with gashes, and his wide nostrils and bulging eyes made him resemble a chimpanzee. He was pulsing with anger and he yelled, “I’m an American and they treated me worse than their dogs.”

The corporal replied, “The Emperor has come to save all of you. He has taken revenge on the Americans for all of us.”

From the front door, Kimiko emerged, holding a body in her arms.

Ruth gasped. It was Bernard, but his legs were missing, only bandaged stumps in their place. Kimiko’s face was wan and there was a shocked stillness in her eyes as though they’d been frozen. Ruth looked at Bernard to see if he was breathing, but she couldn’t tell.

“Poor Kimiko,” Ruth heard someone say. “Their family was so wealthy and now they’ve taken everything from her.”

“The rich had it the hardest.”

Many agreed with deploring nods.

“Sister…” Corporal Fukasaku began.

But, before he could continue, Kimiko demanded in rage, “Why didn’t the Emperor save him? Why couldn’t he have rescued us just a day earlier?”

“I am very sorry for your loss. Please keep in mind that it wasn’t the Emperor who killed your friend, but the Americans. I assure you, the Emperor has taken revenge a hundredfold for what has happened to all of you here.”

“I don’t care about revenge. He’s dead. HE’S DEAD!” she yelled. “If the Emperor was so almighty, why couldn’t he have sent you a day earlier?”

“Calm yourself. I know you’re upset, but speaking against the Emperor is forbidden.”

“Fuck the Emperor. Fuck you. Fuck all Americans.”

“I will only ask you once, and that’s because I know you’re not in a proper mental state. Do not speak against the Emperor or—”

“Or what? He’ll take his revenge? I shit on him and the whol—”

Corporal Fukasaku raised his Nambu Type 18 semi-automatic pistol, pointed at her head, and fired. Her head exploded, brain and blood spraying the ground. She fell over, arms interlaced with her dead boyfriend.

“No one is allowed to speak against the Emperor,” the corporal stated. He holstered his pistol, stepped around Kimiko’s dead body, and went to reassure the other survivors that everything was going to be OK.

Everyone was too stunned to speak. Ezekiel was shaking. Ruth put her arm around him and asked, “Do you still want to be a soldier?” It was as much for herself as it was for him.

She looked back at Kimiko’s body and did her best to hold back tears.

“You have to be strong,” she said to Ezekiel, as she placed his hands on her belly. “For little Beniko, be strong.”

Excerpted from United States of Japan © Peter Tieryas 2016

Read another excerpt at Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi!

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Posted by Stubby the Rocket


One of the best things about working at is that we get to spend so much time immersed in the science fictional and fantasy worlds that we love—from the books, comics, and movies that we grew up on through the newest releases of the year, we tend to eat, sleep, and breathe SFF both in and out of the office. As voracious readers, though, we also like to stretch our wings and venture into other literary genres, and so we thought we’d share some recommendations from our recent forays into history and historical fiction, biography, anthropology, criticism, and more. We hope that you’ll share some of your own suggestions in the comments, and let us know what other genres help to round out your TBR pile!

Bridget McGovern:

SeaOfPoppiesI tend to read a lot of history, historical fiction, biography, and works that occasionally blur the line between those genres. I’m a big fan of Hilary Mantel (particularly her Cromwell trilogy-in-progress) and Kate Summerscale (The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher and The Queen of Whale Cay). I recently devoured my way through The Ibis trilogy by Amitav Ghosh, set mainly in India and China in the years leading up to the First Opium War; in many ways, it’s a gorgeous exercise in worldbuilding that any fan of fantasy will appreciate. And the role that language plays in these books is fascinating, as the large cast of characters endeavor to communicate across a web of different languages, dialects, and slang, leading to a lot of slippery business with puns and idiomatic misunderstandings; the results are sometimes hilarious (especially early on), but can also be tragic on both an individual level and a larger cultural/historical scale—all told, it’s just a brilliant, masterful work of storytelling.

I also have to recommend Alan Sepinwall’s The Revolution Was Televised to anyone who enjoys truly smart, entertaining pop cultural criticism. It covers twelve of the most influential TV dramas of the last couple of decades (including Buffy, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica), with plenty of behind-the-scenes input from the writers, showrunners, and producers responsible for creating—and occasionally blamed for destroying—some of the best storytelling in any medium in recent memory.


Chris Lough:

The End of Men by Hanna Rosin

The End of Men and the Rise of Women Hanna RosinSorry/not sorry, guys. Although, it should be noted that the title of Rosin’s non-fiction book is extremely hyperbolic, meant to stop you in your tracks, and the cover synopsis is so overblown that this sentence is the only one that actually describes the content of the book:

With wide-ranging curiosity and insight unhampered by assumptions or ideology, Rosin shows how the radically different ways men and women today earn, learn, spend, couple up—even kill—has turned the big picture upside down.

The End of Men is essentially a large collection of data that studies social systems by looking at results for males and females separately. Some of the conclusions are what you’d expect–women are still offered less money than men–but some of the conclusions are startling. The End of Men doesn’t offer a road map to, you know, ending men. It doesn’t rejoice in the victory of one gender or another, it simply points out that dynamics in education, the work force, and economics are changing, and that men are not keeping up.

By grouping all of this data together, you start to understand the terror propelling people who call themselves “Men’s Right Activists.”

First, I’d like to slow clap the cover designer for this book, for taking the extremely hyperbolic title and coating it in pastel colors. It is a taunt to anyone outraged by the title but too dumb to flip through the actual book. Here come them wimmins to take your rights, the cover design says, and if you believe this then you are literally judging this book, and probably everything, by its cover. It’s brilliant in its simplicity. (It’s also possible that I’m giving the cover too much credit, and that it’s pastel because the author is female.)


Stefan Raets:

NickDrakecoverIn the last few years, most of my genre reading has been for review. Whenever I read something just for fun, it tends to be either a reread of an old favorite, or something completely outside of the genre. Lately, I’ve been going for nonfiction about my two other nerd obsessions: music and history. Here are two recent favorites:

Darker Than the Deepest Sea by Trevor Dann, being a biography of the musician Nick Drake. There’s some wonderful detail about Drake’s early life, and the book really puts his shocking decline at the end of his life in perspective, but if I’m to be honest, my favorite bit is the final section, where Dann analyzes all of Drake’s songs and includes the unusual guitar tunings Drake was so fond of.

The Forsaken by Tim Tzouliadis, which is an account of the lives of the many Americans who emigrated to Russia in the first half of the 20th century. During the Great Depression, the U.S. economy was in ruins, while Russia was stabilizing and prospering after the upheaval of the October Revolution. A thriving American immigrant community in Russia, complete with baseball leagues and English language newspapers, was later decimated by the Stalinist regime and more or less forgotten by the home country.


Leah Schnelbach:

OreoI’ve made it a bit of a tradition since coming to that I spend the time between Christmas and New Year’s reading something that is resolutely non-SFF. I also try to read (on paper) and ignore TV, internet, and movies for at least a few days. Last year the book was the giant Jim Henson biography, which was fantastic but… well, we all know how that story ends. This time I started my year in a perfect way by reading Fran Ross’ Oreo, a criminally overlooked novel from 1974.

Here is what Oreo is: a quest story; a re-telling of the Theseus myth; a tour through mid-70’s Black culture; a reckoning with both Black and Jewish heritage; feminist; queer-friendly; a love letter to the power of Yiddish; the funniest book you will ever read.

Here is what Oreo is not: sad; depressing; traumatic; reeling; hand-wringing; overwrought; boring.

If you’d like a plot description, biracial Christine Clark (accidentally nicknamed ‘Oreo’ by her grandmother – it’s a long story) decides to leave the safety of Philadelphia and journey into the labyrinth of New York in search of her Jewish father, and a picaresque adventure ensures. The book fell through the cracks when it was published. The book was rediscovered by the scholar and poet Haryette Mullen, and finally reissued by New Directions last summer. Author Danzy Senna sums up the wonderfulness of the book in her introduction to that edition, saying:

As in the best satire, nobody in “Oreo” is safe; nobody is spared. The humor is low at times, scatological and plain silly, and the humor is high, sophisticated wordplay and clichés flipped on their heads. Ross is a hard sell for February, Black History Month, and a hard sell for March, Women’s History Month. Hers is a postmodern text; it is a queer text; it is a work of black satire; it is a work of high feminist comedy; it is a post-soul text. Her novel is multifaceted and multilingual, making it an awkward presence on the landscape of American fiction, where “ethnic” literature can be put in kiosks like dishes at a food fair, and consumed just as easily.

Personally, I think the book would have been just as tough to publish now. It’s too inventive and messy and weird, which is what makes it a brilliant novel.


Mordicai Knode:

NevadaI’m an armchair anthropologist, and I like to keep my skills sharp by reading scientific non-fiction. Neanderthals and other non-human members of the genus Homo are my particular poison, and the last book I read on the subject was The Invaders by Pat Shipman. It looks at early human migration out of Africa through the lens of an “invasive species,” quite convincingly, and speculates on the role that the domestication of the dog by humans might have had in Neanderthal extinction.

My wife and I host a book club with a fairly diverse selection of books: everyone tries to represent their interests or favorite genre. I’d already read the last selection, but was happy to re-read it: Nevada by Imogen Binnie. I’ve known Imogen for a while, as have a few other people in the club, which the person who picked it didn’t know, so Imogen called in after our discussion to chat with us about the novel as a nice treat.  It’s a story about New York, small-town America, and being trans, and the voice of the protagonist of the first half, Maria, is clear and affecting.


Natalie Zutter:

ITakeYouNeck-and-neck with my love of great speculative and SFF stories is fiction and nonfiction that examine the modern state of love. I will defend romance and chick lit to the end, but they have to have something unique to earn that support. One of my favorite books of 2015 was Eliza Kennedy’s I Take You, a Bridget Jones-esque romp that completely subverts readers’ expectations: To wit, it opens with a woman staring down the barrel at her wedding day and sleeping with everyone she can before she has to walk down the aisle. It’s a dark, sexy, unapologetic look at how commitment phobia grips today’s lovebirds, how with the option of so much choice it’s scary to tie yourself to one partner forever.

Someone else who knows plenty about the crisis of choice in contemporary dating is comic Aziz Ansari. For Modern Romance, he teamed up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg and polled real people at his shows, who willingly handed over their smartphones so Aziz could study unbiased evidence of the awkwardness of OkCupid messages, miscommunications over text, and the awfulness of ghosting. As someone who had more than my share of cringeworthy OkCupid dates before finding my guy through the site, I appreciate novels and irreverent yet in-depth studies that map out the shifting landscape of finding love in the age of technology.


Molly Templeton:

Do What You Love: And Other Lies About Success and Happiness by Miya Tokumitsu

DWYLWhen you recommend a book with a title like this, people can hardly help but wonder about you and your job; for the record, I am very fond of mine. But I also love this book, which explores the way the “do what you love” mythology plays out in our culture. What used to be a corny mantra about finding happiness has transformed into a way for capitalism to ask—or require—more from workers, whether more time, more investment, more smiles, or more gratitude. Tokumitsu looks at idealized workaholics; emotional labor; the “hope economy” (internships and the idea that you have to pay your dues with little or no income, in hopes of eventual gainful, happiness-making employment); and the myth that if you just love your work enough, you’ll succeed at it. She writes, “As long as our well-being depends on income, and income, for most, depends on work, love will always be secondary as a motivation for doing it. Encouraging workers to pretend otherwise is disingenuous and exploitative.” Sharp, succinct, and ultimately hopeful, it’s the kind of book that has the potential to rewire your brain. In a good way.

All the Rage Courtney Summers

I read a ton of great YA in the last year, some of it (like the overlooked The Unquiet; please go find this book if you like creepy stories about assassin teens, clones, and alternate earths) too SFF-y to fit here. But, if forced to pick one shining star among a shining stack of books, I’d hand you All the Rage, a story so full of hope and anger that it gives me goosebumps to think about it. (Also, I really wanted to punch someone in the face when I finished it.) It’s about closed-mindedness and privilege, victim-shaming and poisonous gossip, love and fighting your way through. Summers captures the incredible loneliness of being shunned in a small town, and the many ways adults can fail the kids they’re supposed to help and protect, and she does it through Romy, as flawed, angry, hurting, and wonderful a main character as I could ever hope to meet. It’s not an easy read, but that’s part of what makes it so stunning.

New Tooth!

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 10:25 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I got my cyborg molar yesterday, and also a filling for the molar in my upper jaw, which had cracked a bit around an old filling. As you can imagine, this involved many hands in my mouth for quite a while, and occasional discomfort, and a really sore jaw afterwards (it was a two-Motrin pain).

So I was pretty proud of myself for getting to the gym afterwards and putting in a half-hour on the elliptical. Go me.


Thursday, February 11th, 2016 03:20 pm
kaberett: A series of phrases commonly used in academic papers, accompanied by humourous "translations". (science!)
[personal profile] kaberett
The Graun is running a livestream of the LIGO press conference due to start in ten minutes, expected to make some exciting announcements about gravitational waves...

eta and the livestream on youtube

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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