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2017-07-18 11:37 pm

sequels to Hugo nominees

Paper Girls 2, comic. The main new conceit of this volume (as set up at the end of volume 1) is a hugely compelling premise for me. I kind of wish they'd been able to hit it harder/dig in deeper... I mean, the emotional tone was in keeping with the rest of the comic, but. Dude. Way to concretize what happens to be one of my core emotional conflicts. Maybe there'll be fic? Maybe I'll write some?

Raven Stratagem, Yoon Ha Lee. My reaction is under the cut, as is a GIANT MASSIVE PLOT SPOILER. Sufficient warning? MAJOR SPOILERS HERE? Read more... )
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2017-07-02 06:04 pm

my 2017 Hugo ballot

My entire Hugo ballot, behind this cut. Read more... )
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2017-06-24 07:58 pm

Nebula winners

I don't think I ever posted about this - I honestly can't remember now if I heard about the winners when they came out in May or not.

Anyways, Nebula winners!

All the Birds in the Sky beat Obelisk Gate and Ninefox (and other things) for Novel; that was (and remains) my prediction for the Hugo as well.

Every Heart a Doorway beat Dream-Quest, Black Tom, and Taste of Honey for Novella, which is also my prediction for the Hugo. (Also, whoops, never read Runtime, I should do that.)

"The Long Fall Up", which I have not read (was in F&SF), won for Novelette, beating "Jewel&Lapidary" and "Surely Drown Here" (my prediction for the Hugo). Okay.

"Seasons of Glass and Iron" beat "Our Talons" and "Fist of Permutations" for Short Story, making me more optimistic it can beat them on the Hugo ballot too (I had predicted "Our Talons" but without confidence.)

Arrival beat Rogue One for Dramatic but I think Hidden Figures is going to pull more from Arrival than Rogue One on the Hugo ballot.

Arabella of Mars beat Newbery winner Girl Who Drank The Moon for the Norton. (Goal for next year: HAVE READ SOMETHING NOMINATED FOR THE NORTON.)
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2017-06-24 03:49 pm

misc queer youth lit

Not Your Sidekick, C.B. Lee. Charming teen superhero YA science fiction romance. I suppose technically this is authorities-with-secrets but, I don't know, it never made me roll my eyes about it? Like there were reasons that these particular kids ended up in a position to uncover the lies and fight the system other than Their Innate Teen Resistance To Conformity or whatever. Anyways, I thought it was all pretty obvious but fun and nice and had some good character beats and I appreciate recommendable happy queer teen romance. I mean, adult readers might find it too young for them, but I like there being Good Books For Teens out there, if that's not too patronizing. I mean, I can see some young bisexual Asian girl being like "holy shit A Protagonist Like Me, and she gets the girl, eeee", I don't think we're even at the point yet where we have an abundance of those. I certainly remember compulsively rereading every teen romance I could get my hands on where the girl was taller than the boy (the pattern of many of my early crushes), which was, like, one Sweet Valley High novel and a novella in a collection I've never been able to track down again. Anyways, it turns out this is the first of a trilogy and the next one's going to focus on the trans shapeshifter character, yay.

When The Moon Was Ours, Anna-Marie McLemore. I picked this up because it won the 2016 Tiptree, and I admit I found it very slow going for awhile. Super-poetic magical realism family drama angst romance. I did eventually get through it and did enjoy some of the imagery and language, and how it unfolded, but I still kind of think it could have been about half as long for the actual story. But, much like the previous book, that may be because this book was not For Me; I totally think some young trans person is going to read this and it's going to be Their Book, the thing they write quotes from in their journal and get tattoos of when they turn 18, or at least put on their list of their ten books that most explain who they are. Older YA, if only because I'm not sure younger YA readers would have the patience for the style.

The Lotterys Plus One Emma Donoghue. Did I randomly find a book about a poly family on my library's middlegrade new books shelf? I *did*! Well, it turns out the two dads are married and the two moms are married and they're probably not polying much except to live in one giant house and have kids together, but, like, I am not trying to erase the distinctions here between romantic and familial love, but a middlegrade book probably isn't going to get much into that distinction anyways. This book is definitely from the wish-fulfillment-fantasy genre one might call "what kind of life would we make if money was no object" - there is an enormous lottery win in the backstory - and would probably make a fascinating period piece for people outside the contemporary-liberal cultural context, either past or future. The Lottery dream life is joyously racially and ethnically diverse, warmly accepting of disability and difference (we are very overtly taught the word "neurodiversity"), self-consciously Wacky (so many cutesy names and misheard words) and Unstructured (so much homeschooling) and Literate (some of the books that get name-dropped seem more random than others). I was... not entirely convinced on the main theme about adjusting to accepting a grandpa with dementia into their family instead of finding a dedicated care facility for him... his dementia is conveniently at just the right stage to elide some of the more gritty burdens of caregiving, and his racism and homophobia conveniently soften once he gets to know everybody (there is probably a book to be written that seriously grapples with the question of asking minor children to endure microaggressions in their own home in the name of non-institutionalized caregiving/loving generously, but it wasn't quite this book. probably needs to be own-voices.). And there's a few bits of other weirdness (an AFAB kid who says they're not a girl but is still given she/hers pronouns because they also don't claim to be a boy... I swear we have a good third pronoun for this situation...). But overall it was sweet and goofy and I've always had a fondness for the wacky slice-of-life adventures of characters with an abundance of family and money, going back to, like, Eight Cousins and Cheaper By The Dozen (which both have some uncomfortable racist content as I recall so yay for contemporary readevenvaguelyalikes). If you ever thought it would be cool if Dykes To Watch Out For and the Ramona Quimby series had a baby and it was a feelgood middlegrade, here you go!
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2017-06-19 06:01 pm

more things I read for the Hugos

Rivers of London aka Midnight Riot, Ben Aaronovitch. Fun! I like this sort of thing (police procedural + geek discovers magic) and look forward to reading more in the series at some point. I wouldn't call it unmissable or anything but it was a fast read I wanted to keep reading.

Deadpool. I guess technically I watched this rather than read it. Did not enjoy (and am left baffled by how much my mother loved this movie (???)).

Leviathan Wakes, James S.A. Corey. So technically I didn't read this either, in that I started reading the pdf excerpt they gave me in the packet and it seemed to be missing lines at many of the page breaks, to the point where I found it unreadable. Also did the thing of describing what all the women looked like and none of the men and tralala life is too short to read dude authors who piss me off in the first chapter. Feel free to make the case for this book in a comment if you think it's worthy of a second chance; I am queued for it at the library so might get a readable copy one of these days.

Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, Stix Hiscock. This was pleasantly not bad! I mean, I don't think it deserves a Hugo, but it was competently-written porn-comedy. The pole-dancing scene with the nipple lasers was fun. I thought there was a little too much dick (did dinosaurs even have dicks? come on, you're writing xeno, sexualize the cloaca) but it was better than watching Deadpool.

Ms. Marvel Vol 5: Super Famous. A strong installment of a terrific series. Ms. Marvel reminds me of Buffy at its best in how it literalizes issues, except with a much more diverse and interesting cast.

Paper Girls Vol 1. Super-compelling in characters, premise, and pacing; I can't wait to read volume 2.
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2017-05-31 11:44 am

it came from the packet, part 1

Things I have read for Hugo purposes:

The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle. I have to respect "white people are the real horror" as a theme but this didn't grab me as a story. (The POV switch away from the sympathetic first character kind of killed the momentum, alas, although I can see why LaValle didn't think he could do the whole thing from his POV.)

Penric and the Shaman, Lois McMaster Bujold. I didn't feel like this did anything that she hadn't already done better in Hallowed Hunt.

"Your Orisons May Be Recorded", Laurie Penny. Good gimmick but I have no strong reaction here.

"Blue Monday", Laurie Penny. Also enh.

The Jewel and her Lapidary, Fran Wilde. A bunch of authors I respect seem really into Wilde and I just don't get it. Here, she obviously had an ending she wanted to get to but I totally didn't understand the logic that was supposed to make it necessary? And (SPOILER)Read more... )

Infomocracy, Malka Older. A kickass near-future novel with interesting political mechanics, an awesome action scene, appealing characters, the works. On the one hand it is weird to be reading about election shenanigans that don't seem to have a lot of catastrophic real-world consequences, on the other hand it was delightfully escapist. Recommended. Minor spoiler:Read more... )
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2017-05-19 01:04 pm

THICK AS THIEVES!!!!!!!

I am so happy.

I can't write a review, because Megan Whalen Turner book. (The MATCHLESS SATISFACTION omg you guys.)

I did a complete reread of the series before reading it and am glad I did. I imagine some people might read this one and then go back and reread others and enjoy them in that direction too.

!!!!!!
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2017-05-08 10:19 pm

Saga volumes 4-7 but especially 6 I guess?

Volume 6 being the one presently up for a Hugo. I had last read Saga back in 2015 when volume 3 was nominated, so I started with 3 again and caught up. I'm not sure I recommend doing that - on the one hand, it's super page-turny, so not putting it down is a good solution to the problem of not wanting to put it down, on the other hand, it started to feel a little formulaic, in the pacing of the introduction of new characters/character deaths so that the cast size doesn't become completely unmanageable? And reading so much of it at once, it was hard to not start asking questions like "is there really a point to all this soap opera", which I think is an unfair question - is there a "point" to Girl Genius, or Astro City (which I just found out is apparently going again and has been for awhile), or Firefly, or any other serial story? But possibly it would be more fun to be reading Saga issue by issue, caught up in all the immediate dramas, speculating with other fans about what could happen next, etc.

I didn't do that, though, so here I am. I haven't read the rest of the nominees yet, but I strongly suspect it's going to be hard for a middle volume of a serial to compare with the introductory, world-establishing Volume One of something new, and there are four of those on the ballot. Saga vol 6 has some good beats but it's not like the Big New Idea rush of plunging into the story in the first place.
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2017-05-08 09:20 pm

The Girl Who Drank The Moon

The Girl Who Drank The Moon, Kelly Barnhill, 2017 Newbery. A fairy tale type fantasy that's mythic at its best, uncompelling at its worst - "plotless" would be the wrong word, there's a pretty satisfying core story, but there's not a lot of action, and particularly not of the rising action/falling action sort. The story sets itself up, and then about where I started to expect some kind of breakout that would catapult us into a more urgent, immediate storytelling mode, just kept right on unfolding in a sort of methodical, sometimes repetitive way, until eventually all the pieces came together in the sort of "Janet? Brad! Janet? Dr. Scott!" climax that I'm not even considering a spoiler, because, look, this is middle grade, Romeo's not passing the messenger on the road back from Mantua here. There are some good strands of the plot web meanwhile, though; this is probably the best take on the mother-whose-child-is-taken fairy tale trope I've ever seen, with a mother who refuses to vanish quietly out of the story. And I feel like the characters and metaphors in general might have more power for actual older-middle-grade readers, who might also have fewer expectations about pace and tone? Or maybe not. I wonder if it might actually be the right amount of story for a movie - maybe a bit too much backstory, but it would be gorgeous in, like, a Miyazaki adaptation (and already in the right tone, you wouldn't need a dubious tonal shift like the Howl's Moving Castle adaptation, this is right along the emotional lines of Spirited Away. Oh, man, now that this has occurred to me my brain is redrawing my vague mental pictures of all the characters into anime designs and it's *perfect*.)
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2017-05-01 08:55 pm

Your Name

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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2017-04-29 12:28 am

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

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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2017-04-25 01:24 pm

Seven Surrenders

Ada Palmer's sequel to Too Like the Lightning (reviewed here), book two of four. Major spoilers under the cut.

Read more... )
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2017-04-20 07:48 pm

movies

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.
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2017-04-09 08:52 am

a dream

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.)

Read more... )
You should have stopped reading by now...
Read more... )
Okay, done for now.
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2017-04-04 02:35 pm

books

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.
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2017-04-04 11:45 am
Entry tags:

Hugos!

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... )
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2017-03-23 09:09 pm
Entry tags:

Lagoon

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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2017-03-17 04:30 pm

Moonshine + School's First Day

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.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
2017-03-06 09:47 pm

The Starlit Wood, anthology

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.)
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
2017-03-06 06:46 pm
Entry tags:

nominating for 2017 Hugos - Art

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/