[sticky entry] Sticky: My vids

26 Sep 2012 18:14
frayadjacent: drawing from hyperbole and a half: cartoon girl at laptop at night, text says "vidding" (!vidding)
Welcome! Feel free to poke around and check out my vids and fannish posts. Subscribe and unsubscribe as you like. If you subscribe I'll automatically grant access. Then you'll see my RL posts as well as my fannish posts and vid posts. Feel free to let me know if you want to opt out of RL posts and I'll un-grant you access, no worries.

All my vids: Angel, BtVS, Elementary, Friday Night Lights, Orphan Black, Steven Universe, The Black Stallion, Underground, Whale Rider, and Xena )

Blanket Permission

basically, use with credit )


warnings/content notes and subtitles )

frayadjacent: Connie Maheswaran on a beach reading excitedly (!reading)
I've been travelling a lot, which means plenty of time for reading but not much for DW posting.

What I've finished reading since my last post:

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. What I thought would be a fun, tight-knit murder mystery turned out to be a big story covering hundreds of years, major political upheavals, and some thought-provoking ideas about clones. I enjoyed this a lot.

Redshirts by John Scalzi. It was a fun book and made me laugh, but as my first Scalzi novel, I can't say it made me want to read more.

The Thessaly series by Jo Walton (The Just City, The Philosopher Kings, and Necessity). An interesting series, especially as an exploration of utopia. I never thought I'd read a book that would make me excited about the god Apollo. I found that even though I wasn't enormously taken in by the plots or characters, I couldn't put them down, and I think that's just because the prose is so damn readable. I came to particularly love the character Maia, and was bummed that she wasn't in the last novel.

Lavinia, by Ursula K Le Guin. I've had the e-book for ages, and after I finished The Just City, but before I realised there were two more novels after it, I was in the mood for more Bronze Age fiction. Le Guin's prose is as wonderful as ever, and I loved the use of the device that Lavinia -- and everyone else -- was a character in the Aeneid, not a historical figure. I find Le Guin's tendency toward gender essentialism more annoying than I used to.

The Small Change trilogy by Jo Walton (Farthing, Ha'penny, and Half a Crown). Detective noir/political thriller series set in an AU where the UK made peace with the Nazis and the US never joined WWII. In the first book, one of the POV characters is happily married to a man with the same first and last name as Mr. Adjacent, and it was very strange! At several points I thought I'd have to stop reading it because this character was under serious threat and I thought he might die. The end of the series was narratively satisfying but politically annoying. Between this series and the Thessaly series I have read two instances in Walton where the oppressed and their allies basically convinced those in power (or rather, a sympathetic faction of those in power) to stop oppressing them. I'm with Fredrick Douglass on that one.

What I'm currently reading

My Real Children by Jo Walton. Yes, I'm on a kick. I've just started this, but I'm hoping it will be more the intimate, character-driven story that Among Others was. As much as I've enjoyed Walton's books that I've read since then, none of them can hold a candle to that one.

Also, I'm slowly re-reading Searoad: Chronicles of Klatsand by Ursula K Le Guin. I read it for the first (and only) time more than 15 years ago, so all I really remember is the overall feel of the book.

What I'll read next

I pre-ordered the new Philip Pullman book, La Belle Sauvage, and it will be arriving in less than a month. I told myself I'd re-read His Dark Materials first. Also, last year I purchased N.K. Jemisin's Obelisk Gate but decided to wait until the third book was out before reading the whole trilogy (including re-reading The Fifth Season). Now the third book is out but I haven't bought it yet. And finally, I have four books on hold from the library and I plan to drop anything else to read them once they become available. In other words, I don't know.

Free book-shaped space

I finally got my account set up to get e-books from the library and my book buying is plummeting (excepting the Le Guin haul, described below) while my reading rate soars. I'm so pleased.

I recently learned that Worldcon 77 (in 2019) will be in Dublin! I really really want to go -- Dublin is cheaper to get to than London and almost as easy -- but it's within a week of my 10-year wedding anniversary, when we are also planning a big trip. I know this is nearly two years away, but August always ends up filled with family travel, so I feel like I do have to plan this far in advance in order for it to happen.

I went to Portland, Oregon in August, for the first time since probably 2003. I went to Powell's and re-purchased many of the Le Guin books I'd gotten rid of in a misguided purge a few years ago. All the books I bought were used -- I prefer to buy used books anyway, but these were necessarily so since I bought out of print books. Anyway, my Le Guin library is slowly being restored. Also, I almost bought a few missing Earthsea novels, but then a guy at the checkout counter told me that next year they'll be releasing a new illustrated version of the series, so I decided to hold out for that. Speaking of, the fancy illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is coming out soon. I seem to be collecting them all, but I'm really curious to see how they'll do the later books, as even The Philosopher's Stone is huge and unweildy.

frayadjacent: Xena and Gab walking/riding away together, text says "Journeys" (Xena: Journey)
Three years later I have a third installment in my Xena/Indigo Girls series! Much thanks to Xena Warrior Podcast for re-igniting my enthusiasm. This was a WIP for way too long.

: Airplane
Fandom: Xena Warrior Princess
Song: Airplane (edited for length) by The Indigo Girls
Summary: Travelling with Xena is hard

Content Notes: Comical, show-typical violence. Feel free to ask specific questions about content.

Download (right click on Mac) | AO3 post

I do not have subtitles available yet for this vid. Lyrics for the edited version of the song under the cut below the embedded vid.


Lyrics to the edited song )
frayadjacent: Connie Maheswaran in cosplay with a black cape. Text says, "fangirl". (!fangirl)
Last weekend I got to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

non-spoilery thoughts:

Holy shit, the staging, the effects, the music, the choreography, the whole sound design, were all fantastic.

I am SO GLAD I resisted temptation to read the script. I'd heard that the play was good because of the staging, performances, and effects, not the writing. And it was really obviously true, even not having read the script. (Of course this sucks for the many, many people who will never be able to see the play.)

Witch Please (possibly my favourite podcast of all time?) recently released a fantastic episode about Hannah's experience seeing the play.

Spoilery thoughts. Very spoilery! )

frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (BtVS: Tara and Dawn)
What I've read since I last posted

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor. I liked this even more than Binti, mainly because it dealt with the emotional aftermath of the events in that book, because I found Binti's relationships with her family really complex and interesting, and because it has quests in the wilderness . Both books deal with Binti becoming a different person than who she was raised to be. It dealt with coming home after leaving and all the complex emotions really well. But then, on top of all that, Binti discovers that who she thought she was, what she thought was her heritage, wasn't even true. I like how the stories interrogate the notion of a pure, authentic, true cultural heritage (which exists in opposition to corrupting outside influences). As with Binti, and as with The Book of Phoenix, I really wished this book had been longer, and spent more time with the characters just interacting and with less focus on the plot/action.

The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor. This is an older book that Binti. The story is in principle really interesting, but I actually stopped reading it about 3/4 through because...there was just so much plot, so much action, so much movement from one place to another. I wanted time for the characters. I wanted to spend time with Phoenix before she escaped the tower, so I would understand her motivations more, and how and why her belief about herself and the world changed so much, so fast. I wanted to see her everyday life during that year in Ghana, not just have it described to me by the narrator in retrospect. It really reminded me of Kate Elliott's A Passage of Stars, in which so much happens and the main character just keeps passing through various events and people's lives and...I just want time for the relationships to breathe.

Among Others by Jo Walton. Written as the journal entries of a disabled Welsh teenager at an English boarding school circa 1980. She knows magic, she loves to read, especially SF, and she's fled an abusive mother and a family who she loves but who didn't protect her. One of my favourite books this year. The prose was gorgeous; the main character so deeply felt. (I did have a "goddamn it, I got tricked into reading YA again" moment. It's not that I have any problem with YA, I just wish I could find more stories centred on women over 30.)  An added bonus: the character takes the train from Shrewsbury to Cardiff several times in the book, and I took the same train to/from VidUKon while I was reading it! This was my first book by Walton but I definitely want to read more.

I've come to realise that for a story to really stick for me, I almost always need there to be a slice of life element. I think that's just one of the reasons my three favourite tv shows all have a lot of episodes where the characters are just doing stuff, getting serial character development but no major long-term plot developments, before the Big Plot starts.

What am I reading now

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. A clone murder mystery in space! I was already sold from the moment I heard that description (which is funny, none of those things in isolation is something I'd automatically go for, but  in combination they sounded fantastic). As it happens, it's also a big story with fascinating politics going back hundreds of years before the time the story is set. And presents clones and cloning in a very different way than I expected. The prose is not nearly as lovely as Among Others, which I finished just before, so it took me a while to come around to this. But the unfolding plot has been fun and interesting and now I like it a lot.

What I'll read next

I really want to read The Power by Naomi Alderman, but I'm putting it off till I've read more of the books I already own. Probably Redshirts by John Scalzi (another author I haven't read any of yet). I also now have two volumes of Saga to read, which means I probably need to go back and skim/reread all the rest of them.

frayadjacent: Buffy looking to the side in black and white (BtVS: Buffy B&W)
[personal profile] condnsdmlk and I curated a vidshow about Work at VidUKon this year, and I was really pleased with how it turned out, so I'm posting it here, including the descriptions which we spent a silly amount of time on. Unless otherwise indicated, they're all (sometimes paraphrased) Marx quotes.

Description: An exploration of all work related things -- waged or otherwise. Office work, forced labour, team work, striking, playing hooky...we have it covered.

1. Under Pressure (The Martian) by [personal profile] violace. From each according to ability.

2. Go Places (Parks and Recreation) by [livejournal.com profile] nicole_anell. When sacrifices benefit all, joy is not limited or selfish -- our happiness will belong to millions.

3. Past in Present (Chak De! India) by [livejournal.com profile] sol_se. Society is not made up of individuals. It is the sum of interrelations -- the relations within which individuals stand.

4. Tightrope (Mary Poppins) by [personal profile] chaila. "Capitalist production relies on the creation of a particular type of worker, and therefore a particular type of family." - Sylvia Federici

5. The Fucking Manual (The Thick of It) by Trutgras. The bureaucracy is a circle from which no one can escape.

6. Working for a Living (Hustle, Leverage) by [personal profile] thingswithwings. A greater amount of assets increases the power objects have on man; every new product escalates the potential for mutual swindling and plundering.

7. Hello (Kitchen Confidential) by [personal profile] trelkez. Great world-historic facts and individuals appear twice: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.

8. Piece of Me (Britney Spears RPF) by [livejournal.com profile] obsessive24. At first sight a commodity might appear obvious and trivial, but look closer and you'll see that it is full of subtleties and spiritual niceties.

9. Tired (Firefly) by [archiveofourown.org profile] thedothatgirl. It is only as a worker that she can maintain herself as a physical subject. It is only as a physical subject that she is a worker.

10. Just Dance (Newsies) by [personal profile] ua_the_terrible. The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.

11. Never Go to Work (Stargate Atlantis) by [personal profile] grammarwoman. The worker feels himself at home only during his leisure time.

12. The Organization and the Assets (multi) by [personal profile] echan. Work is an alienation of life.

13. Freedom (Underground)  by [personal profile] frayadjacent. The most momentous thing happening in the world today is the movement among the slaves.

14. Wretches and Kings (Battlestar Galactica) by [personal profile] jarrow. The history of all previous societies is the history of class struggle.

15. Power in Union (Pride) by [personal profile] condnsdmlk. To each according to need.

Many thanks to everyone who recommended vids for this show!

frayadjacent: Aeryn Sun with her tongue out to taste the rain. Text says "let it rain" (Farscape: Aeryn rain)
The wonderful [personal profile] lithiumdoll made me the Farscape Aeryn Sun vid of my heart! I'M SO PLEASED.

It beautifully explores Aeryn's complicated emotional connection to her PK past, and how that affected her relationships with the Moya crew. It shows her unlearning of her authoritarian upbringing and learning to fight the power. It lovingly pays tribute to her relationships with all the other characters. Oh my heart. <3333

frayadjacent: Close up of Pearl looking excited (SU: Pearl excited)
Title: Electric Lady
Fandom: Steven Universe
Song: Electric Lady (edited for length) by Janelle Monáe
Summary: Watch the water turn to wine
Premiered at VidUKon 2017

Content Notes: Occasional fast cuts and flashing lights. Song lyrics use "she/her" in a section about a character who canonically goes by "they". Spoilers through early Season 4. Feel free to ask specific questions about content.

Download | Tumblr | AO3

I do not have subtitles available yet for this vid. Lyrics for the edited version of the song under the cut below the embedded vid.

Lyrics )

frayadjacent: Aeryn Sun with her tongue out to taste the rain. Text says "let it rain" (Farscape: Aeryn rain)
I haven't posted a reading meme in a couple of months, but my reading has slowed down too.

What I've read since my last post (in chronological order)

After Atlas, by Emma Newman. A murder mystery set in the same universe at Planetfall. I loooovvvvved this book, and wrote a very spoilery, book-ruining post about it. The non-spoilery summary is: this book has just as strong point-of-view characterisation as Planetfall and probably has a stronger plot. (I'm personally even more drawn to Ren, the POV character of Planetfall, than to Carlos, the POV character in After Atlas, but he is excellent.) It also, in my opinion, makes the weird, frustrating ending of Planetfall more palatable. Highly recommended, and I can't wait for more in the series. (Content notes: suicide and disordered eating feature heavily in the story (I do not recall any fat-shaming -- the disordered eating is not connected to anything related to the character's physical appearance). There are also mentions of male-on-male sexual abuse. Feel free to ask me for more details on any of these.)

A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers. Oh, you guys. I almost didn't read this book, and I loved it so much. Pepper and Owl's relationship gutted me. Even a passing reference to it at the end of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet brought tears to my eyes. And Sidra's arc was incredible. Such good character interactions, such lovely relationships, such a kind book but with such emotional depth. I nominated this for a Hugo, and am so glad it made the shortlist.

Signal to Noise
, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Magical realism, set in Mexico, with the main character an immigrant who is coming home for the first time in decades after her father's death. There were lots of reasons to love this book, and I did like it, but...the primary POV character is so cruel I found it hard to enjoy. Lots of people enjoy an "unlikeable" main character -- and given that this character is a woman of colour, I am in principle all for it. But, eh, it's just not for me.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers. Such a sweet, wonderful book, with lovely characters I just want to spend more time with. I read this after its (loose) sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit, so I had one major spoiler, but everything else was new. I loved that this book took violence really seriously -- events that would hardly be considered violent in a lot of science fiction were scary, and the trauma the characters endured was treated as real. I loved how thoughtful the story was. My only complaint is that it wasn't longer. The titular long voyage through unfamiliar space ended up occupying very little of the book, and I think it would have been interesting to spend more time on the boredom and cabin fever that ensued. But I'd have only wanted that if it added to the length of the book -- I wouldn't want anything taken away!

What I'm reading now

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor. I'm not too far in, but so far I'm really liking that it's dealing with the emotional aftermath of what goes down in Binti. The horrors at the beginning of Binti sorta got swept aside later in the book, so I'm glad to see it getting the attention it deserves. I wish I had read this immediately after Binti (I bought them both at the same time, so I have no idea why I didn't), because I'm actually struggling to remember why she is friends with Okwu, instead of at least low-key hating it.

What I'll read next

Probably The Book of Phoenix, by Nnedi Okorafor.

Free book-shaped space

I don't think I ever posted about it, but my main reading goal for 2017 was to read 24 books, and I'm well on track to meet it! But I also keep going back and forth between wanting to read whatever sounds interesting, and reading what will be eligible for Hugos next year. I didn't join Worldcon this year, so I can't vote (to my relief!) but I kinda want to join next year. It's a bit silly -- I've just gotten back in the habit of reading fiction consistently, and I'm already getting Hugo FOMO.
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (!ooh shiny)
Comment with one of my fandoms, and I'll tell you:

the character I least understand
interactions I enjoyed the most
the character who scares me the most
the character who is mostly like me
hottest looks character
one thing I dislike about my fave character
one thing I like about my hated character
a quote or scene that haunts me
a death that left me indifferent
a character I wish died but didn’t
my ship that never sailed
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (BtVS: Faith)
I wrote this on an airplane nearly a month ago, then forgot to post it till just now. I loved After Atlas and nominated it for a Hugo, to no avail.

After Atlas turned out to be a book I could stay up late reading -- something I rarely do. I always get sleepy! But I found the book totally engrossing, because the story was interesting, the world-building engaging, and because Carlos is such a well-written character. Highly recommended, with content notes that the book has references to male-on-male sexual assault and abuse and also deals with suicide a lot. As always, feel free to comment or pm me if you want more details about content notes/warnings.

Major, book-ruining spoilers below the cut )
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (AtS: Lawyer!Gunn)
Hi everyone! [personal profile] condnsdmlk and I are running a vidshow at this year's VidUKon and we are looking for recs. The theme is work.

Any vid about work or workplaces, or about striking and workplace organising/action, would be lovely to hear about.

Vids focusing on work that is unwaged -- for example slavery or housework -- are very much welcome.

Self-recs encouraged!
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (Farscape: Aeryn spacesuit)
What have you recently finished reading?

Ninefox Gambit,
by Yoon Ha Lee. I...don't know what to think about this. I liked it, but a lot less than the hype led me to think I would. The story was interesting -- there was never a point when I had to work up the motivation to read -- but I never got that emotional pull I need to really invest in its characters. OK, maybe not never -- I started to get that pull at the very end, but, in a too little too late sort of way. Partly, I think, the twist that I was waiting for -- I didn't know what it would be, but I knew there had to be one -- came about 85% of the way into the story. I did not need quite as much time on the battle tactics/war is hell stuff as we got for most of the story.

The most interesting aspect of the book for me was the presentation of the Kel, and what loyalty and obedience to authority meant for the various Kel characters. That obedience is achieved through physical changes to the brain that basically force it, but as far as I could tell all service to the Kel was voluntary, so the Kel do have agency (and very distinctive personalities) despite the brainwashing. Cheris, the main character, joined the Kel because she wanted to fit in. This seems to be directly connected to her position as an outsider -- someone whose people were recently colonised, whose native language is not the high language of the empire, etc. The formation instinct comes up in many ways: we see one Kel character resent of the forced obedience, we see a character for whom the process fails, and we see a character whose fear is only barely overcome by the formation instinct. And of course, in the end, it becomes central to the story.

But also the book was gory, with references to violence and torture so extreme it became tiresome. (On the other hand, it wasn't actually any worse than the horrors shown in the original Star Wars trilogy, it was just that there was actual substantial narrative attention to the magnitude of destruction.)  And I was not that into the magic tech -- it was frustrating to have something that fundamentally makes no sense, way beyond the way that FTL or transporters or other standards of SF make no sense, be so central to the mechanics of the plot. I heard one booktuber describe it as a sort of magical realism, but for me magical realism gives a sense of the uncanny, and I just...didn't feel that with Ninefox Gambit.

Given how popular this book has been, I sometimes wonder if I don't actually like scifi as much as I think I do.

What am I reading now?

After Atlas, by Emma Newman, in my quest to have something to nominate for the Hugos. I was a little reluctant to read this because I'm not generally interested in the detective genre, but I (mostly) loved Planetfall so I wanted to give it a shot. What I loved most about Planetfall was the main character Renata, and I knew it was unlikely After Altas would feature a character who I'd identify with that much. That is true, but Carlos, the protagonist of After Atlas, is a fantastic character and I'm really enjoying the book so far. I've concluded that Newman is a master at writing characters whose perspective you can deeply understand and empathise with, while also being able to recognise where their judgment is wrong. That is quite an impressive skill. I also really like the way that the book explores the impact of technological changes on people and society, especially in that technology that is genuinely useful and pleasurable is *also* used for social control.

Also, the book seems to be indirectly exploring the effect of automation in creating a vast surplus population whose labor is no longer needed. This is an interesting contrast to Planetfall, where the small society is basically living with full communism and a high level of automation and sustainable technology -- a high-tech ecotopia. The same tech (except light-speed space travel) exists on Earth in After Atlas, but under capitalism the technology creates misery even as it creates convenience and solves problems like food production.

So maybe I do like scifi, just not space opera? But I have a feeling there is some space opera I would like.

What's up next?

More potential Hugo nominations -- I'm thinking of reading A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers even though I haven't read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. I get the impression the former can stand alone.

I've also downloaded the audiobook version of the Great Courses Plus lecture series about the French Revolution, but I haven't started it yet as I've been listening to podcasts.

frayadjacent: Buffy looking to the side in black and white (BtVS: Buffy B&W)
As you probably know, DW now has selective comment screening -- you can choose to have specific users' comments screened by default rather than having all comments screened on a specific post.

DW mainly pitches this as being for occasionally obnoxious commenters, but it seems to me there could be a different use -- for readers who might, for example, have anxiety about commenting where anyone can read it.

So, if anyone out there would like me to choose them for selective comment screening, so that I will see your comments on my posts but no one else will, feel free to PM me and I will gladly do it.
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (haters gonna make good points)
What did you recently finish reading?

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: the Untold Story of English audiobook, written and read by John McWhorter. This was mostly an interesting and engaging book. He focuses on changes in English's grammar, which he argues (and I agree) is a lot more interesting than just word etymologies, and specifically looks at how encounters with other languages changed English. First when the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes came to Britain and had their language changed by the Celts. Then the Vikings came and brought a language that was similar to proto-English, but not the same, and what emerged was simpler than either, in a least-common-denominator sort of way. He argues that the Normans had little influence on English grammar because French was the language of the ruling class and only spoken by a tiny minority (and not for very long). In the last chapter, he speculates on the possible influence of Semitic languages on proto-Germanic to account for the differences between Germanic languages and other Indo-European ones. That hypothesis really is just a hypothesis, without enough evidence to support it fully, but it's interesting nonetheless.

As interesting as the story of English itself was the insight I got into the methods that linguists use to trace how languages have changed. McWhorter also discussed how those methods can lead linguists astray -- for example, by assuming that changes in spoken language are mirrored by changes in written language, which isn't even true for all languages now, much less at a time and place where most people were illiterate.

He also had a chapter debunking the Sapir-Worf hypotesis (of Arrival fame), but I'd already heard and been convinced by that argument in his podcast, so it was the least interesting chapter to me. I get the impression that the Sapir-Worf hypothesis is to linguistics as the Gulf Stream* is to climate science -- its importance is vastly overstated in popular literature, media, and even some introductory textbooks, much to the chagrin of experts.

I like McWhorter's writing and narrating style, and he has a very pleasant voice to boot. The book gets a bit dry at times when he is describing conjugations etc, but those times are brief.

What are you reading now?

Ninefox Gambt, by Yoon Ha Lee. This is working much better for me now than last week. First, I followed [personal profile] isis's suggestion and stopped to read this short story prequel first, which helped me make sense of the world a bit. Second, I realised that the word "calendar" is actually used in more or less the usual sense, to mean tracking time and noting dates -- at first I was convinced it had to mean something totally different and unfamiliar, because it was being used *so weirdly*. Third, I realised that I needed to stop approaching this story like hard sci-fi and start approaching it like fantasy -- I needed to just accept the magical tech rather than hurt my head trying to make some sense it. In a way, it's almost the inverse of the Steerswoman books.

What will you read next?

I'm gonna catch up on some podcasts and then choose my next audiobook. I'm thinking one of the Great Courses history series, but I'm choosing from a few.

* 1) the Gulf Stream is not the main reason why Northern Europe is warm -- the Atlantic Ocean generally is the first reason, and, interestingly, the Rocky Mountains are the second. 2) even if the thermohaline circulation were shut down a la The Day After Tomorrow, the Gulf Stream would still be there, because it's driven by winds which exist because the Earth rotates and the sun shines more on the tropics than the poles -- global warming isn't going to change that fact.

frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (!Adorkable)
What have you finished reading recently?

Ms Marvel, Vols 1 & 2: I thought I'd read these previously, but I think it was actually only Vol 1. I enjoyed them, but I liked them most when Kamala was interacting with her friends and family, and tended to get a little bored (and also confused) during the action scenes. This has been the case in most of my other (very, very limited) experiences reading superhero comics. But I own Vols 3 and 4, and I've heard Vol 5 is excellent, so I'll keep on at least through that.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho: a romance novella (novelette? I'm not sure how long it was) set in 1920's London. Everything Zen Cho writes pulls me in immediately, and I become invested in her characters within a few pages. I loved this just as I loved The Terracotta Bride and Sorcerer to the Crown -- my only complaint being that I wanted more time, especially more time with Jade and Ravi.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor: Many probably know this book since it won a Hugo last year, but briefly: it's a novella about a young Himba woman who is the first of her people to attend an elite university on another planet (where only 5% of the students/faculty etc are human). Things go horribly wrong on the voyage to the university. Binti, the main character, provided a strong and compelling narrative voice, and I really liked that mathematics and technology was deeply rooted in her people's knowledge and traditions. The resolution was interesting in how it handled negotiations between peoples with different power and ideologies. I do wish it had been longer, that there had been more time to spend with the characters and to let relationships develop. And I was very distracted by all the description of ideas and technologies with no real explanation of them, but that is more of a personal quirk. (See also below, but x10.)

What are you currently reading?

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee: I'm only in the second chapter. The first chapter was horribly violent and contained A LOT of references to concepts, technologies, and institutions that were not explained. It was an extended battle scene, and wanting to see how things turned out kept my interest, even though the lack of explanation meant I couldn't actually imagine the scene. If this book hadn't been praised all over Booktube and on Fangirl Happy Hour I might not keep going with it. But it has been praised all over, so I'll keep reading.

I'm still listening to Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English by John McWhorter. Illness and other things have kept me from walking to work, so I'm going slower now than I was.

frayadjacent: Buffy with a goofy look on her face, text says "dork" (BtVS: Buffy dork)
What did you just finish reading?

The Golem and the Djinni, by Helene Wecker. I loved it. The ending was fantastic. And there will be a sequel! Coming out in 2018! Set during WWI! I'M SO PLEASED.

I want to say more about this book but I'm having trouble coming up with the words. Why is it so much harder to say why I liked something than why I disliked it? OK: all of the characters were really compelling, the story was interesting, the pacing was excellent, and the prose had this warmth and authenticity that I enjoyed. I'm so glad I get to spend more time with these characters. Next year.

Paper Girls, Vol 1 by Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson. Mr. Adjacent has been telling me to read this for about six months, and I finally did as a palette cleanser after finishing The Golem and the Djinni, before starting my next novel. I liked it! Once I read the rest of my TBR comics I'll buy the next volume.

Yes Please, audiobook, written and read by Amy Poehler. Meh, it was OK. It made me laugh sometimes, but didn't inspire me or motivate me or make me think very much. I was almost finished with this when I posted about it last week, so I won't add much. I listened to the last chapter walking home from work while Trump was inaugurated. She was complaining about the internet and smartphones.

What are you reading now?

An Accident of Stars, by Foz Meadows. This is my introduction to Meadows. I've still only read a little bit, but so far I am liking it well enough to keep on but not loving it. The story is holding my attention, but I haven't been really grabbed by it or the characters. And I find the prose a bit wordy.

I'm also having a reaction that I think is unfair and I'm trying to unpack: the two (thus far) POV characters have a much stronger sense of social justice than I'm used to in a character. In some ways they have worldviews a lot more like my own than what I typically read. And when a character says or thinks something social justicey, my brain immediately goes, "stilted language! Nobody talks like that!". Except, um, I talk like that. Sort of anyway. So, I haven't quite parsed what of it is that I find the prose awkward overall, and what of it is some unpacked baggage I didn't even know I had. I'll keep reading and see how I go. I thought about giving up once already, then remembered Kate Elliott's praise on the back cover, and kept reading.

Also, I am pleased that the author and one of the main characters are Australian and that there have been specific references to Australian flora. I miss me some gum trees.

Ms Marvel, Vol 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. I purchased the first four volumes a year ago, read the first two, and then got distracted. So now I'm starting over! Still like it.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: the Untold Story of English audiobook, written and read by John McWhorter. I'm liking this as much as his podcast, Lexicon Valley, which inspired me to buy this. I'm about midway through chapter 1, where he presents evidence for the considerable influence of Celtic languages on English grammar. This influence at least partly explains why English grammar is so different from that of other Germanic languages. And apparently the magnitude of this Celtic influence is dismissed by many linguistic historians of English, who say things like, "oh the Angles etc just killed them all and it's totally a coincidence that English, Welsh and Cornish share traits that are unheard of in most other languages". o_O (To be fair, McWhorter acknowledges that historians of English who said that didn't realise how rare those shared traits are. But that's because they didn't bother looking.)

What will you read next?

I'm not sure. I haven't decided how much I want to devote to reading Hugo-eligible books for this year, so I can nominate, or just focus on books I currently want to read + Hugo-eligible books for next year. I'm a slow reader so a head start doesn't hurt. For my walking-to-work audiobook, I'll probably get one of the Great Courses books -- either the one on culinary history or the ordinary people's history of the ancient world one (that one seems to use the same definition of "ancient world" as my 10th grade history class did, mostly focusing on Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, etc). The books are expensive but you can get them on audible for a regular monthly credit. Or I'll just keep listening to back episodes of "Stuff You Missed in History Class", which I'm enjoying tremendously.

One of my goals is to read all my currently-owned comics, which includes Saga Vol 6. Like with Ms Marvel, it's been so long I feel like I have to start from the beginning, or at least one or two TPB's back. The way I'm going I can probably wait till Vol 7 is out in late March. /o\

Free book-shaped space

I'm so bummed I can't go to Worldcon in this year. I was hoping it would be my first Worldcon, but alas. Fuckin August.

frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (BtVS: Anya dancing)
It's still Wednesday in the Central Pacific!

What did you finish reading?

Nothing, since my last post! Apart from a terrible interview with Trump's biographers about how the worst things we think about him as a person area all actually true, and what that implies for his presidency, but no need to link to that here. Unless someone wants it.

What are you currently reading?

Print: The Golem and the Djinni, by Helene Wecker. I still love it! Wecker has woven so many characters' stories together, and given them real lives and histories and motivations. She uses seamless transitions in POV to make everyone feel important -- nobody is just there to move the plot.

Audiobook: I'm almost finished with Amy Poehler's Yes Please, which I have been a bit meh about. Then yesterday I got to the "treat your career like a bad boyfriend" section. Which is packaged in a way that I don't love (there's a low-level heterosexism in most of the advice-giving parts of the book, and also I just find the gender roles invoked in this stereotype a bit tiresome, while also recognising that it rings true to many people's experiences), the actual career advice is pretty much just what I wanted, in that it spells out what I've been vaguely thinking into a more concrete mental framework for approaching work:
Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. It’s never going to leave its wife. Your career is fucking other people and everyone knows it but you…Career is the stringing together of opportunities and jobs. Mix in public opinion and past regrets. Add a dash of future panic and a whole lot of financial uncertainty. Career is something that fools you into thinking you are in control and then takes pleasure in reminding you that you aren’t. Career is the thing that will not fill you up and never make you truly whole...

I will say it again, ambivalence is key. You have to care about your work but not the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look…You will never climb Career Mountain and get to the top and shout, “I made it!” You will rarely feel done or complete or even successful. Most people I know struggle with that complicated soup of feeling slighted on one hand and a total fraud on the other.

Ambivalence can help tame the beast. Remember, your career is a bad boyfriend. It likes it when you don’t depend on it. It will reward you every time you don’t act needy. It will chase you if you act like other things (passion, friendship, family, longevity) are more important to you. If your career is a bad boyfriend, it is healthy to remember you can always leave and go sleep with somebody else.
Then in the next chapter Poehler brought Michael Shur on and they talked about Parks and Recreation, and it was mostly great.

Then in the next chapter she waxed on about Hollywood and how hard/awesome it is to be an actor/writer/director/producer and I was back to meh. I love when film/tv writers, directors, actors, set designers, etc talk about their craft: how they make certain choices to get a specific effect, what works for telling a good story, bringing out a certain feeling, or deepening the ideas and emotions through symbolism and metaphor. When they talk about what it feels like for them to do their work, I just don't fucking care. It might have been interesting at one point, but I have heard enough navel-gazing from Hollywood people for my lifetime.

What I'll read next

I haven't decided what print/ebook I'll read next, but the next up audiobook is still John McWhorter's Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English.

frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (!Adorkable)
I forgot to include audiobooks in my Wednesday reading meme, so I'm posting about them now, and for good measure throwing in what I've been watching and listening to.

The last audiobook I finished was Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes. I finished it a couple months ago so my memory is a little vague. When I started it I was in the midst a roughly two month spike in anxiety, which made it a struggle to leave the house every day, and I was often late for work. (There are generally no short-term consequences for me for that -- I have Stuff I Must Do and where/when I do them doesn't matter much. But coming in at 11 when I'm not willing or able to stay correspondingly late isn't good for my career.) Year of Yes helped with that both by making my walk to work more enjoyable and by giving me motivation to leave the house, because I wouldn't let myself listen to it otherwise. Rhimes is a funny and engaging writer and speaker. I felt inspired as I listened to it to say yes to more things, but of course it didn't magically change my patterns of behaviour. I'm working on it though.

Now I'm listening to Amy Poehler's Yes Please -- I somehow missed the amusing similarity of titles till just now. Because I enjoyed Year of Yes I thought I'd like to listen to another fun/easy audiobook by a famous lady. I was trying to decide between Poehler's book and one of Mindy Kaling's, and I chose Poehler's because it has a bunch of cool sounding guest appearances. So far, though, most of the guest appearances have been very, very brief. It's an entertaining book, it occupies my mind on my long walk to/from work, but it's not doing anything more than that for me. TBH I kinda wish I'd gotten one of Kaling's books instead -- I listened to an interview with her recently and really enjoyed hearing her talk about early experiences with comedy.

I'm also very, very slowly and intermittently listening to Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. Her central thesis is that the changes required to (hopefully) prevent catastrophic global warming are fundamental (i.e., socialist) changes that can make life better in many ways, and that fighting global warming is a unique opportunity for building a powerful movement. I want to like it, I want to embrace the hope that it offers, but frankly right now I don't. It feels very 2014.

My next audiobook will be Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English by John McWhorter. Which takes me to my next topic: podcasts I've been listening to! Because sometime around October I finally caught up with everyone else and started doing that. I started with Lexicon Valley, a linguistics podcast for a lay audience hosted by McWhorter. Obviously I like it a lot since I decided to buy his book.

The other one was, of course, Buffering the Vampire Slayer. It's squeeful and queer and the two women who run it are my age which I think substantially adds to my enjoyment. For example, one of my pet peeves with people talking about Buffy is when they mock the outfits. I mean yes, there are some examples of appalling taste, but mostly it's just a fancier, leatheryer version of how people dressed then, and I find the joking tiresome. On Buffering the Vampire Slayer, they note the costumes with nostalgic glee, and even genuine appreciation during their Buffy Fashion Watch segment, which I love. Also they love Cordelia and made her a song, and they love Buffy too. It warms my heart.

Now I've started also listening to Fangirl Happy Hour, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, and am in the process of sorting through some leftist stuff to see which ones I like. Oh, and Stuff You Missed in History Class, which is a lot of fun and has two women hosts.

Now, for what I've been watching. I started a Gilmore Girls rewatch and got to the point in Season 1 where Christopher returns. I was enjoying it but I haven't picked it back up again and probably won't. Getting sucked into a multi-season rewatch is not in the cards right now. I've watched the first two episodes of The Get Down, a Netflix show about hip hop and disco in the Bronx in the late '70's. I liked it but didn't get sucked in, so I'm taking my time. There are only two episodes and I love the music, so I'll likely finish it. Finally, Mr. Adjacent and I have been watching Parks and Recreation for the last month or so. I can't believe how much I've forgotten from the first three seasons! It's been very fun to rewatch. As for my current shows, Steven Universe and The Mindy Project are coming back next month.

Also, I'm watching Booktubers, especially Claire Rousseau and Elizabeth at Books and Pieces.
frayadjacent: Buffy looking to the side in black and white (BtVS: Buffy B&W)
Print/ebooks I read in 2016, in chronological order. I usually have one print/ebook and one audiobook going at a time, so I've separated the two categories. Since I stopped posting Wednesday reading updates sometime in February, I'm including some non-spoilery thoughts on each book.

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott: discussed here

Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott: discussed here and here

Shadow Gate by Kate Elliott: discussed here and here

Traitors Gate by Kate Elliott: discussed here

I won't say much about Black Wolves/Crossroads trilogy since I've posted on them previously, but I do want to note that I realised two things from these books: I really like stories from the POV of a deeply religious character (if it's well-written of course), because it is fascinating to get into a worldview that is so different from my own. I probably wouldn't enjoy it if it was a deeply religious man whose religion justified being a patriarch, and while those character types definitely exist in these books, they aren't POV characters. Also, the world-building in these books is incredible, and I've since read/listened to Elliott talk about world-building and think she is so thoughtful and a master of the craft. I loved a lot of the characters and quite a few storylines in these books, but my very favourite thing was the world of The Hundred itself.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin: I liked this book but not as much as everyone else seems to, which has me thinking I was reading it wrong. My head was still very much in the world of Black Wolves/Crossroads trilogy. I purchased Oblisk Gate when it came out but decided to wait until the third book was out and read the whole trilogy.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik: I was utterly charmed from the start, and really enjoyed Agnieszka as a protagonist and POV character. The plot was interesting and engaging, and I looooovvvved The Wood as a villain. It was also pretty funny at times! I was unpleasantly surprised by how violent and gruesome the story became. (I was also super stressed with work and utterly devastated by Brexit -- I became unhappy that Uprooted wasn't providing me the comforting escapism I wanted at the moment, but that's not a criticism of the book, just a note on my reaction.) I was ambivalent about the ending. On one hand, it was really lovely. On the other hand, it played into a woman-nature connection that I pretty much never enjoy in fiction. Except occasionally when Ursula K Le Guin does it. Though even then I often don't.

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho: This was the book I most enjoyed reading in 2016. In part because it did provide the comforting escapism I wanted. It was funny -- so funny! -- and I loved being in both Zacharias and Prunella's POV. They were delightful characters. It also had some deeply moving moments, e.g., when Zacharias recalls the circumstances of his adoption and reflects on his complicated feelings toward Sir Stephen. Also did I mention this was funny? And such a good romance -- I struggle a lot with romance in fiction, but I loved this one and it even made me want to seek out romance novels for the first time. I hope there will be sequels -- this book provided me with the thing I want most from fiction: characters I want to spend time with again and again.

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry: I picked this up a few years ago because 1) [personal profile] coffeeandink recommended it, 2) It's set in Seattle, and 3) I knew McCarry in college. Every time I considered reading it, I knew I couldn't handle reading a book about Seattle. It would make me too homesick. But the last time I visited Seattle, about a year ago, I realised the homesickness had faded. So I put this back on the to-read list.

I had mixed feelings about it. It took a while to get used to the writing style, or rather the POV character's voice, which I found overwrought at first. The setting is deeply familiar, not just the Seattle-ness but also the vaguely turn-of-the-21st century Pacific Northwest punk rock scene, complete with shitty meals that always taste the same made from dumpstered vegetables. I kind of liked that, but it was also distracting. I kept getting put off by the book and setting it down, only to pick it back up again 30 minutes later (I read a lot of it on a long-haul flight).

In the end I got used to the POV character's voice, and the plot got interesting, and there were some really lovely and true moments. And I LOVED the ending. It felt absolutely perfect, and unsettled in a way that I often don't like but that worked so well for this story and character. Then I learned it was the first of a trilogy. But I loved the ending so much, and had such ambivalent feelings about the rest of the book, that I didn't consider reading the subsequent books.

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. My first ever romance! I enjoyed this book and the romance was fun -- I especially liked Minerva as a POV character and would like more books with characters like her. I thought the characterisation of the friends was really thin in a way that put me off at first, but eventually I could roll with it.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I picked this up after listening to a Fangirl Happy Hour episode on literary fiction. I switched between reading the ebook and listening to the audiobook on this one. It was so good -- my other favourite of 2016. Ifemelu and Obinze (especially Ifemelu) were wonderful characters. I felt Ifemelu's struggles so deeply: her fear that something was wrong with her to make her sabotage her relationships, her struggle with depression, and her experiences with immigration (even though my difficulties have been so, so minor compared to most people's, I still love and feel immigration stories even more profoundly than I used to). Also, I liked that Ifemelu was a pretty judgmental person -- it was an interesting POV to be inside and also made for good exposition. I really enjoyed that this book dealt with not just immigration but also returning. And there was a lot of great humor in this book as well. Oh, and the narrator, Adjoa Andoh, was so good. I kind of want to listen to Alexander McCall-Smiths "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" books just because she reads them.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamana Ngozi Adichie. It took me a while to get into this book; I don't know if it was the book itself or my life circumstances, but it was a slow read at first. It's about the civil war in Nigeria in the late 1960's when (mainly) the Igbo people attempted to secede and form the Republic of Biafra. There are lots of heavy themes that come with that, especially the mass starvation that occurred when Nigeria completely blocked the Biafran borders. This book tells those stories through the compelling personal narratives of three characters, who were mainly non-combatants. One of the non-POV characters, Kainene, was one of my favourite characters in any novel I read this year.

I want to note that in the Fangirl Happy Hour episode mentioned above, it's implied that there is no rape in this book. That is not true -- feel free to message me if you want more information.

Planetfall by Emma Newman. Holy shit, I loooovvvvved most of this book. The POV character suffers from anxiety in a way that is, well, not that similar to mine in terms of specific behaviours, but still I identified with her and her anxiety deeply. I have never read a genre novel (or maybe any novel?) centred around a character who just wants to go home and be left alone because everything is too much. I don't just mean she gets overwhelmed sometimes, like many characters would. She always feels this way. It was incredible, a revelation, even, to encounter a character like that who still gets to be embroiled in space shenanigans.

But the ending of this book was really strange. I finished it and was very confused and went looking for reviews, sure I'd missed something. It seems like everyone agreed it was just kind of a bad ending. It's too bad, this book was so strong otherwise. I'd still highly recommend it, just be prepared to scratch your head a little when you put it down at the end.


frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (Default)

September 2017

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