Reading Wednesday 16/08

August 16th, 2017 12:28
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read:
  • Dzur by Steven Brust.

    I didn't love this; I'm not sure how much it's a weaker member of the series and how much it's me. It is book 10 in a set of 19, of which the last five are still to be written. I may have left it too long since I read the previous volumes, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it. I decided I couldn't be bothered following all the complex allusions to the meta-structure of the whole series, and as a single novel it's never more than just ok. I didn't find Vlad's voice or Loiosh's asides witty, and the pacing dragged, and I didn't care about the mystery. Because I hadn't been following the chronology properly, the twist at the end wasn't a delightful surprise, it just unsatisfyingly didn't make sense.

    When I was reading 50 books a year, I intended to read the whole series, because both the individual novels and the way they fit together into a complex whole appeal to me. Now that I read more like 15 or 20, I'm thinking I may drop this. Not sure; one weaker book doesn't mean the whole series isn't worth bothering with.

  • A taste of honey by Kai Ashante Wilson. This was a Hugo-nominated novella, which meant that several of my friends read it, and were enthusiastic about it. So I ended up reading the copy from my Hugo packet on the way back from Worldcon, which is not exactly in the spirit of things. And I regret not reading it in time to vote for it, not that it would have made much difference since McGuire's Every heart a doorway (which I wasn't keen on) won by miles.

    Anyway, this is a really amazing fantasy romance story. It's beautifully written, great characters, twisty, thought-provoking plot. The worldbuilding is really deep; looking it up it turns out this is a companion novella in the setting of a novel, which I'm now definitely going to seek out. I had dismissed Wilson's Sorcerer of the Wildeeps mainly because the name is so clunky; I assumed it was parodic or just really generic swords and sorcery.

    It's hard to describe exactly what's so great about AToH without spoilers, but it's a really moving romance, and has a lot to say about choices and sacrifices made for love. [personal profile] jack thought it maybe needed some content warnings; some of the content is about homophobia and abusive parenting. To me it didn't feel like misery porn, it felt as if it centred its variously Queer characters and described some of the bad things in their life as well as the good. But I can imagine some readers finding it hard going.

    Up next: The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin. I'd been meaning to read this, though I'm a little scared of what I've heard about it, and I've now bumped it up my list since the sequel won a second Hugo.
  • (no subject)

    August 15th, 2017 22:46
    melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
    [personal profile] melannen
    No FMK this week, because I am way behind on reading, and also because I am going eclipse-hunting over the weekend! I will be bringing eclipse-related books on that trip. And thinking about this xkcd strip which was the main thing that got me into the new year, anyway.

    Probably it will rain all day, but at least I can say I tried.

    So instead of books, since I will be doing a lot of driving in the middle of nowhere, my question this week is: What songs are on your eclipse playlist? "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "The Sun Is A Miasma of Incandescent Plasma", obviously. But what else?

    I have been working on the book collection, though! I went through and re-did my to-read lists, of which there are three: one on the library website, which has 300 books on it, of books the library has; the Goodreads one, which includes only books my library doesn't have and has about 250; and ~2500 owned-but-unread, so that's totally doable at my current rate as long as I never add any more to any of the three lists.

    (Anybody want to be goodreads friends, by the way? if we aren't already, drop me a line. my gr is connected to my rl so I don't link it here but I will def. add people.)

    Me and Mom also cleaned out the cookbooks over the weekend, which was fun! We both agreed on keeping the ones that had some kind of sentimental value to the family, of course. food, cooking, and diet as expressed in a collection of second-half-of-twentieth-century cookbooks. )

    We got rid of about fifty cookery books. There's only about 200 left. That't TOTALLY reasonable for a family of two that cooks an actual meal at most twice a week, and usually from recipes we know by heart, right?

    Eric Ibraheim Mozarabe

    August 15th, 2017 08:26
    steorra: Illumination of the Latin words In Principio erat verbum (echternach)
    [personal profile] steorra
    I was just poking at the internet about Asian personas in the SCA. And I came across some discussion of race in the SCA in a book on Google Books. And this anecdote caught my attention:
    ---
    Eric Gardner is a black man in the SCA who formerly went by the name Eric of Huntington. As a squire to Steve Beck/Duke Stephen of Beckenham, Gardner portrayed a European squire of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries at all times until he was knighted. In the West Kingdom knighting ceremony there is a place immediately before the dubbing, appropriate for a rite of passage, where the candidate is asked, "By what name do you wish to be knighted?" Nearly everyone uses the name he or she has always used. However, some people surprise the heralds by announcing a new name (which then needs to be researched and registered before it can appear on the writ that accompanies their knighting). When asked this question Gardner replied, "Eric Ibraheim Mozarabe." The king was Chris Ayers/Duke Christian du Glaive, whose persona is a Norman crusader. A strong proponent of acting "in persona" and maintaining a medieval attitude at all times, he was clearly bothered by Gardner's declaration. He has no problem knighting a black man, but for this crusader knighting a Muslim created an issue. As a compromise he continued the ceremony using both names, saying, "Eric Ibraheim Mozarabe, also known as Eric of Huntington, I dub thee. . . ." What Ayers did not know is that Ibraheim Mozarabe is a Christian name. Ayers had assumed that because it was Arabic that the name must have been Muslim, indicating that Gardner had a Muslim persona. According to Gardner, Ibraheim means "child of God,"[1] and "Mozarabe" refers to a population of Christians living under Moorish rule in Spain after the eighth century."
    (Medieval Fantasy as Performance: The Society for Creative Anachronism and the Current Middle Ages, by Michael A. Cramer, p. 40)
    ---

    [1] I think this is incorrect. I think it's an Arabic form of "Abraham", which does not mean "child of God".

    Music meme: day 20 of 30

    August 11th, 2017 11:48
    liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
    [personal profile] liv
    A song that has many meanings for you. I think this has to be Some kind of stranger by Sisters of Mercy. Partly because it's lyrically complex; I have never been sure if it's about a positive relationship or a breakup, a long-term connection or a casual affair, and it may well not be about romantic love at all.

    This is another song that [personal profile] doseybat introduced me to when we were teenagers. So it's tied up with discovering alternative music and the goth scene, and forming my own tastes in music as well as more broadly. A period of my life when I think I did the most growing up.

    In some ways it's a song about keeping faith in spite of everything that might push you towards despair. And that's why I keep coming back to it, whether it's faith in a person or just more broadly:
    And I know the world is cold
    But if we hold on tight to what we find
    We might not mind so much
    That even this must pass away

    Then it's the soundtrack of my PhD. The bit where my brother had a bad accident and I was in an emotional mess, but the science was still inspiring and still needed doing. The bit where it wasn't inspiring any more, it was a slog, and I had to keep going. One more step, one more flask of cells, one more measurement. The long repetitive bit at the end Come here I think you're beautiful over and over again, when I was sitting in the cell culture room with my headphones a portable tape player, and just keeping my cells alive and nourished before I could actually do any experiments took about three hours three times a week. You can't miss a sesssion or the cells die or mutate and you lose months of work. You have to concentrate enough not to get anything contaminated, but it's not exactly intellectually stimulating. In fact, a lot of the point of my PhD was providing justification for replacing me with a robot, but grad students are cheaper than robots, and I was just sitting there screening through hundreds of potential new drugs.

    It's also a song about making friends with [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel, towards the end of that PhD and the years just afterwards. [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel is also a Sisters fan and gave me a recording of one of their concerts, since it's nearly impossible to buy studio versions of most of their music since the 80s. The ambiguous words might be about a sudden, intense yet enduring friendship, maybe. Some kind of stranger / some kind of angel.

    And even though it's a pretty downbeat song, it's a very happy song for me now. It promised me that I could endure, and I have. My brother is fine now. I still love most of the people who sustained me in my late teens and early 20s. I've succeeded at some things that were hard and failed at others, but I have people who love me for myself, not my achievements. And nothing is permanent, but as long as I'm here and get to experience things and love people, I can cope with that.

    video embed, audio only )

    FMK #20: Holmesiana

    August 8th, 2017 18:31
    melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
    [personal profile] melannen
    Last week's K winner was Hounded. I guess I do not get to read it and find out if the second-most-popular male UF lead gets sexually assaulted as often as Harry Dresden does. ;_;

    The F winner was Truckers, which is good, since I went from thinking about urban fantasy tropes to reading old Marcone/Dresden fic to reading all the Vimes/Vetinari(/Sybil) fic to reading all the Watch books to working on that prompt about the First Sedoretu of Ankh-Morpork.

    (Finally reading Snuff was what convinced that that okay, Vimes could manage to be married to Margolotta, they have many things in common and also he can see in the dark now and she and Sybil as pen pals is canon, so.)

    ...which also explains why I still don't have any more reviews for you, oops.

    But! We have made it to FMK #20! Which means another non-SF option! This week: Holmesiania.

    How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

    I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

    Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

    Poll: Chabon, Douglas, Estleman, Gardner, Gilbert, Hall, King, Kurland, LeBlanc, Meyer, Peacock, Smith, Springer, Stout, Thomas, anthologies )

    Group work

    August 8th, 2017 15:18
    liv: Cartoon of a smiling woman with a long plait, teaching about p53 (teacher)
    [personal profile] liv
    I'm on a mission to redeem group work in education. I expect this to be controversial among many of my friends. So if I'm right and lots of you have terrible memories / experiences of being made to do bad group work, I invite you to comment here and tell me what was bad about it. Do you think it's just awful, or are there problems that might be fixed? I believe strongly that while it can be dire, it can also be great, or perhaps I might phrase it as, there are things that look like group work superficially but are actually great.

    Because I'm on a mission this may turn into a more formal research survey at some point, but in that case I'll pose the question in a formal context with ethics and everything. Right now I'm just trying to gather some opinions and not just rely on my own ideas. Plus I am eye-deep in paperwork and I could do with some distraction, so do rant away.

    New Arrival

    August 6th, 2017 13:17
    aggienaut: (Default)
    [personal profile] aggienaut posting in [community profile] lj_refugees

       ::steps off the rusty grey refugee ship СС Ливейоурнал, with bag over shoulder::

       Hello all. I have just arrived here, still figuring things out. Thought I'd say hi though. I am known as Emo-Snal back in the old country. I'm a professional beekeeper from California now living in an adorable little village on the southern edge of Australia on the verge of a temporate rainforest. I live alone with a pet basil plant named Theodora and there's an awesome cat that people misconstrue as my pet but really he isn't and I'm not just saying that. He just loves to hang out with me. We're BFFs.

    Music meme: day 19 of 30

    August 4th, 2017 16:57
    liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
    [personal profile] liv
    I'm up to the thinky items in the list: a song that makes you think about life. I'm not quite sure what to do with this because in general I don't listen to music to inspire deep thoughts.

    digression on what music is for )

    One song that often makes me stop and think is Song of choice. I heard it interpreted by Solas, a group with a Celtic-ish style that I find hard to classify, it doesn't seem to fit well into either trad or neo. I think this song isn't original to them; I know there's a Peggy Seeger version, but again, she often doesn't perform her own material. But anyway, I really like Karan Casey's voice, and the lyrics are all about taking decisive action before it's too late, a message that seems important to me:
    In January you've still got the choice
    You can cut the weeds before they start to bud
    If you leave them to grow higher, they'll silence your voice
    And in December you may pay with your blood
    But I think my pick for this meme is going to be Farthest star by VNV Nation. I need to have some VNV in this meme, and they tend to have very thinky lyrics. So some of what I think about life is contained in:
    We possess the power
    If this should start to fall apart
    to mend divides, to change the world
    to reach the farthest star
    If we should stay silent
    if fear should win our hearts,
    our light will have long diminished
    before it reaches the farthest star
    It's a call to action, but a more optimistic one than the Solas. video embed, audio only )

    I know this

    if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.

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