Your Name

May. 1st, 2017 08:55 pm
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I loved this anime movie - visually gorgeous, compelling premise (bodyswap! I always love the classic tropes), more tightly written than I was expecting. Some of the best handling I've ever seen in fiction of how dreams feel - or at least how my dreams feel, I sometimes have very vivid or complicated dreams that seem more real than real life when I first wake up, and then I can hardly remember not long after. And I also dream more about people from my adolescence much more than people in my current life. (I assume something got hardwired somewhere in my teen brain development...) So teenagers who are having these dreamlike experiences - spot on! I also just love so much the little details of Japanese life and setting - this movie was so *placed*, so locationally grounded, in the same way that, like, My Neighbor Totoro is. Neat to get a little glimpse of a different world. (It was out in 2016 in Japan, 2017 here, I dunno what year would count for Hugo purposes.)
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This is the adult novel that goes with One Half From The East, discussed here. I have to admit, I liked the middlegrade version a lot better, Pearl is pretty relentlessly about people being awful to the protagonists, and felt less clever in the writing, too. I didn't really need to be convinced that patriarchy and authoritarian societies suck. Warnings for child marriage/rape, child abuse, child death.
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Ada Palmer's sequel to Too Like the Lightning (reviewed here), book two of four. Major spoilers under the cut.

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movies

Apr. 20th, 2017 07:48 pm
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Logan was good, although I wonder if they thought while making it that an oppressive, corporate-controlled US that people are trying to escape from over the border to Canada was more like a what-if dystopia than an accurate depiction of the present day.

Moonlight was also good, very good, I don't seem to have ever mentioned that, mostly putting it here so that when I go back looking for what movies I saw it's on the list.

a dream

Apr. 9th, 2017 08:52 am
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A new school year was starting, but I had forgotten to register, although I knew I could still register late. (I was sort of both a kid and my adult self, it happens.) Familiar enough as a dream-theme for me so far. But then it turned out there was this younger kid ("a first grader") also hiding in the library and classrooms instead of going to school, and I was going to see if I could teach her math, so I wanted to start by figuring out what she already knew, and we were going to start with the real basics - I was going to write down the counting numbers 0-10 (okay 0 not a counting number usually but in my dream it was) and see if she knew them. But I couldn't write them down in order, I tried a couple of times and they kept coming out weird and out of order. "Oh," I figured out, "We're in a dream so math doesn't work right here, I'm sorry." She started crying and saying she was so sad to be stuck in my dream where she was never going to get to learn math. I told her that it was okay, out in the real world, her real self had grown up and gotten to learn lots of math. The weird thing is is that I woke up and had no idea who the kid was - in the dream, it had been very clear that this was someone I knew in real life, but I guess my brain didn't actually pick a person. Anyways, friends, I am so glad you all got to grow up in a world where math works and you got to learn it. :)

This post is also a test of cross-posting and of what happens with spoiler cuts in cross-posting; I saw something very convoluted about that in someone else's post and I'm sort of dreading it being that complicated. (But seems like something I'd have to figure out if I wanted to cross-post.)

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You should have stopped reading by now...
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Okay, done for now.

books

Apr. 4th, 2017 02:35 pm
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Like a River Glorious, Rae Carson, second in the trilogy that started with Walk on Earth a Stranger in which a girl who can sense gold dresses as a boy and plays Oregon Trail. I liked this one less well than the first one: [spoiler cut]
Read more... ) Anyways, I'll surely read the third one.

Frogkisser!, Garth Nix. Enjoyable, super-readable middle-grade fantasy, nice twists on fairy-tale tropes. Reminded me a great deal of Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest books which is an excellent thing for there to be more of in the world. I'm hoping I can get Junie to read it although it's got "kisser" in the title so she's reluctant.

Hugos!

Apr. 4th, 2017 11:45 am
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I think this is a great ballot, by which I mean there are lots of things on it that I nominated, and not so much dog crap that it won't be easy to just step around it. See them here. Further thoughts: Read more... )

Lagoon

Mar. 23rd, 2017 09:09 pm
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When I finally sorted/spreadsheetized my to-read list, Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon was on it multiple times, suggesting that it kept coming up on contexts where I was picking up recs. Finally read it! Like Binti, I liked that it didn't feel quite like anything else I'd ever read - reading things that are actually different turns out to be a great way to avoid that feeling of reading the same plots over and over, who knew. I felt less spoonfed, not being quite sure what to make of parts of the story... like I didn't feel like I had the cultural context to be able to tell when Okorafor was being satirical about Lagos vs just straight-up storytelling? And she did something that I had also found striking in Shawl's Everfair where fantastical elements outside of the main sfnal premise are introduced relatively late in the story and taken at face value like of course there could be animal possession or demonic roads in this universe why would you be surprised. Anyways, I didn't love it, but I found it very interesting, and I still hope to read some of Okorafor's fantasy novels to compare if/when I ever get to that part of my reading list.
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Moonshine, Alaya Dawn Johnson. So I expected to really like this - Summer Prince is one of the best YA SF books I've ever read, and Love Is The Drug, which I wasn't thrilled with at the time, is looking more prescient by the day (when LITD made the case that the best hope for America was just to escape from it, I was pretty shocked... now, well...). And Moonshine is full of appealing elements - vampires in the roaring 20s, speakeasies and jazz singers, social justice, attractive djinn, etc. Unfortunately it just didn't quite take off for me, the plot strands felt like more of a jumble than a satisfying puzzle, and the emotional throughline seemed kind of all over the place too. It would make a *really* excellent movie or miniseries though - the costumes, the song numbers, the fight scenes, plus I think the sometimes jarring episodic-ness would work better in a dramatic medium? Man, I wish the world gave me the movies I want.

School's First Day of School, story by Adam Rex/pictures by Christian Robinson, is an adorable picture book about a new school finding out what happens at school. At the end of the day, the parents come to pick up their children, and then the janitor comes to pick up the school. :) I really liked that the janitor got to be an important character (the school at first thinks it might be the janitor's house, and then finds out that the janitor has a house of his own that he goes home to), and the whole thing was very sweet, a fine entry in the first-day-of-school genre.
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The Starlit Wood is an anthology edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe of fairy tale retellings. Star-studded TOC including Sofia Samatar, Naomi Novik, Aliette de Bodard, Max Gladstone, Garth Nix, and Charlie Jane Anders - this was where Amal El-Mohtar's excellent lesbian iron shoes/glass mountain remix "Seasons of Glass and Iron" was published, before it was reprinted in Uncanny where I read it. I very much enjoy a good fairytale remix and pretty much everything here was worth reading - standouts for me were Marjorie Liu's "The Briar and the Rose", a lesbian Sleeping Beauty/Rumpelstiltskin sort of deal (theory: pretty much all fairy tales are improved by de-heteronormicizing them) and Novik's story, "Spinning Silver", a very Novik Rumpelstiltskin retell with Jews and fairies and moneylending. (Almost tempted to swap in "Spinning Silver" in my novelette nominations... for "The Tomato Thief", I guess? I don't know, I'll have to think about that.)
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I should do a better job with this category, because a) art is fun to look at and b) I suspect getting an art Hugo actually helps artists land future illustration/cover jobs, but in fact I did not fall in love with many illustrations or covers in my Hugo reading this year and came up with some nominees via some half-assed browsing at the hugonoms2017 wikia, hugoeligibleart.tumblr, looking at people on last year's long list who didn't make the cut, etc. As always, I find these categories challenging to figure out who's a fan and who's a pro, what's 2016 work, etc, but hey, anyone is better than Brad Foster and Steve Stiles for the umpteenth time. (I was tempted to nominated Julie Dillon again because who is better than Julie Dillon but I'm trying to promote variety.)

Pro Artists:
Reiko Murakami - an illustration here
Victo Ngai - been doing awesome covers for awhile, including the Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe cover
Stephanie Law - was the artist GOH at Arisia
Galen Dara - http://www.galendara.com/
Niroot Puttapipat - https://himmapaan.wordpress.com/

Fan Artists:
Iguanamouth - http://hugoeligibleart.tumblr.com/post/155288778097/iguanamouth-kept-getting-requests-for-gryphons-so
Euclase - photorealistic portraits of fannish subjects, euclase.tumblr.com
Sara Kipin - http://sarakipin.tumblr.com/
Marissa Garner - cool stained-glass-style fanart http://nenuiel.deviantart.com/
Alexandra Kern - http://www.zandraart.com/
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Powerful shorter-than-novel fiction piece about a human colony living in an uneasy incorporation into an alien society, and the relationships of two collaborators and two separatists. Some stuff here about slow change vs burning things to the ground that really packs a punch here in the age of the destruction of the American government. I am mildly unsure of the length of this story - Asimov's called it a novelette in their table of contents, but Locus listed it with the novellas - but I'm inclined to assume Locus can count, and nominate it as a novella. Not sure though whether I'm replacing Every Heart a Doorway, which I wasn't that enthusiastic about, or Last Days of New Paris, which I'm pretty sure is too long to qualify (Locus called it a novel, so if we're going by Locus...).
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One Half from the East is a middle-grade novel by Nadia Hashimi, an American child of parents from Afghanistan, set in contemporary Afghanistan, about a ten-year-old girl whose family decides to make her a bacha posh, a girl who is temporarily dressed as a boy so that the family will have a son. I've been obsessed with gender-disguise narratives my whole life (well, gender narratives more generally, gender-choice and transition and so forth, but as a kid in the 80s and 90s, what you got was mostly girls who wanted to wear pants so they could do stuff), so obviously I was going to read this. And it was very interesting! It wasn't clear from the book whether Hashimi had, like, interviewed people, or was working from secondhand sources, or just using her imagination - it turns out there's a companion novel for adults, following one of the other characters, which I'm hoping might have more extensive author's notes or a bibliography - anyways, it's hard to say how much of the story is an American sensibility of what this kind of gender situation would feel like, or how much is authentically Afghan, but it felt plausible and nuanced to me as an American reader. I actually thought the strongest part emotionally were the parallels between the protagonist and her father, who recently lost a leg in a terrorist attack, who are both struggling to accept the changes in their lives. Anyways, I thought it was very well-written, and interesting both for telling me about a real-world practice I didn't know about, and as a realistic-fiction contrast to the gender-adventure genre.
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So rap group Clipping. offered free downloads of their album Splendor & Misery for Hugo nominators, suggesting it was eligible for Best Dramatic Short. I know very little about rap, but not having much to nominate there, I figured there was no downside to listening, and OH MY GOD. I have this vague memory of the first time I was working my way through the early Rush discography, 2112 and the Cygnus X-1 songs, laying there completely caught up in it, and, like, narrative audio IS NOT MY THING 90% of the time, but, man, the other 10%. SPACE SCIENCE FICTION IN MY EARS, I don't know, this has gotten very capslocky, but the whole idea that you can couple pushing the boundaries of music with telling a spec-fic story, it's such a powerful synergy. There's pretty obviously a lot going on in Splendor & Misery that I don't understand - it's extremely reference-dense, the kind of literary poem puzzle someone who knows what the fuck they're talking about can dissect for pages - but even the bits I can get, slavery narratives/songs plus hip-hop as a specifically Black genre plus a delightful blender of science fiction references, it's clever and fascinating and *different* and, yes, absolutely nominating it.

ETA: let me know if you want the download link, I'll share it with anyone else who's nominating this year.
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See them here!

Novel:
All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
Borderline, Mishell Baker
The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin
Ninefox Gambit,Yoon Ha Lee
Everfair, Nisi Shawl
I've read four of these and haven't even heard of Borderline. Birds and Ninefox are on my Hugo list, Obelisk and Everfair certainly seem like plausible choices, if not in my personal sweet spot of entertainingness.

Novella
Runtime, S.B. Divya (Tor.com Publishing)
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
“The Liar”, John P. Murphy (F&SF)
A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)
So, Tor's novella line is doing pretty well, eh? I liked "Dream-Quest" and "Taste of Honey" a lot and am not at all surprised to see "Every Heart" here too. I might put "Runtime" on my to-read list.

Novelette
“The Long Fall Up”, William Ledbetter (F&SF)
“Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
“Red in Tooth and Cog”, Cat Rambo (F&SF)
“Blood Grains Speak Through Memories”, Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
The Jewel and Her Lapidary, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing)
“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)
"Sooner or Later" is the only one of these in my Hugo noms - I thought "You'll Surely Drown Here" had its moments but didn't quite pull it off for me, and I haven't read the rest. (I feel like I like Cat Rambo in general, maybe?)

Short Story
“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
“Sabbath Wine”, Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
“Things With Beards”, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
“This Is Not a Wardrobe Door”, A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine)
“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, Alyssa Wong (Tor.com)
“Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)
"Things With Beards" prediction fulfilled! I liked "Seasons" too. I must have read "Talons" but I can't remember it, do remember "Welcome" but thought it was more gimmick than story. I'm disappointed to not see "Between Dragons and Their Wrath" on this ballot, it was the other standout story of the year for me (with "Things").

Bradbury
Arrival
Doctor Strange
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’’
Zootopia
I read this list and immediately went and replaced Star Trek on my Hugo noms with Kubo.

Norton
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill
The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi
The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge
Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine
Railhead, Philip Reeve
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar
The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman
How am I always so clueless about the Norton nominees? Whatever happened to my being in the YA sff loop? Well, "Girl" was already on my to-reads from the Newberys, I guess I can add a few more.
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Everfair has a dynamite elevator pitch: British Fabians team up with black American missionaries to purchase a big chunk of the Belgian Congo from Leopold and make it a safe haven for Africans being enslaved for the rubber trade, steampunk alternate history ensues! Lesbian motorcycle guerrillas! Dirigibles running on the power of one tribe's "sacred earths", that is, nuclear power! Nifty mechanical prosthetic hands for everyone whose hands the Belgians chopped off! But it is kind of weird in the whole aspect of a book where there is tension and resolution, or expectation and satisfaction of it. It feels a little uncomfortable to criticize the writing of someone who's best known for teaching writing ("Writing the Other"), but the best way I can explain it is that reading this book was sort of like walking past a series of dioramas, and sometimes what was in them was really cool, but you never really had any idea what might be in the next one. Not unenjoyable - I read it to the end - but not my personal taste in stories, either. (I like a more immersive reading experience where I know more about the characters' hopes/goals/intentions and can feel their story along with them.) The book is sharpest and clearest about how race and nationality shape everyone's interactions - I foresee its future on various syllabuses. (You could teach it with Years of Rice and Salt, you could teach it with Westerfeld's Leviathan, you could teach it with Jo Walton's Just City and with Butler's Earthseed books maybe, I hardly remember those but I think so.)
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Novella by Kij Johnson. This was so good, I picked it up from the library today and pretty much couldn't put it down. I have not read the Lovecraft novella it's based on (Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath) but have read enough Lovecraft to feel like I had the general literary context if not specifics? I've been a Johnson fan for awhile ("Man Who Bridged The Mist", "Ponies"), this novella combines great writing (if you like the descriptive fantasy sort of thing) with a killer denouement. Immediate addition to my Hugo nominations.
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Probably at least one more followup after this with more artists and possibly more novellas, I have a couple of candidates on request with the library.

Behind the cut if you would rather not be influenced or whatever. Read more... )
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Last ones! Post to follow w/my nominees and some runners up.

A Wrinkle Ironed Out, Alison Wilgus, DailySF. A trolley problem and a pointed character study in a small space.

That Game We Played During the War, Carrie Vaughn, Tor.com. Telepaths vs non-telepaths. I need a novel about these people immediately, I ship them like whoa.

The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Knight, E. Lily Yu, Uncanny. A fairytale.

Foxfire, Foxfire, Yoon Ha Lee, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Shapeshifters and steampunk, excellent. *NOVELETTE

Standing on the Floodbanks, Bogi Takács, GigaNotoSaurus. Apprentice magician. *NOVELETTE
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Between Dragons and Their Wrath, An Owomoyela and Rachel Swirsky. Wow, amazing, hard-hitting story about the aftermath of war and life as a refugee child. That's a major team-up of authors there and it delivers, dang.

VARIOUS

Razorback, Ursula Vernon, Apex. A folktale oddly sweet for its tragedy level.

Kid Dark Against The Machine, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Book Smugglers. What if there was a machine that made superheroes.

A Deeper Green, Samantha Murray, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Mind control, justice, and healing.

A Salvaging of Ghosts, Aliette de Bodard, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. More diving!

Seasons of Glass and Iron, Amal El-Mohtar, Uncanny. Powerful fairytale remix.

Little Widow, Maria Dahvana Headley, Nightmare. This might have one too many ideas in it but they're pretty badass ideas.

The Tomato Thief, Ursula Vernon, Apex. A sequel to "Jackalope Wives". *NOVELETTE

Successor, Usurper, Replacement, Alice Sola Kim, Buzzfeed. On the literary edge of sff; the punch of this one hardly depends on the speculative element? But dang does it punch.

Shadow's Weave, Yoon Ha Lee, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Magic knitting and an igloo.

Webs, Mary Anne Mohanraj, was in Asimov's. In the same universe as Plea.

u wont remember dying, Russell Nichols, Motherboard. Uses textspeak vernacular to good effect.
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