asakiyume: (Em reading)
Those of you who enjoyed Aster Glenn Gray's Briarley but would have liked to have it in print form... now it's available! Behold its beautiful cover:

And here is a link, for purchasing ease.

And, in more news of the physical rather than the digital, the latest issue of Not One of Us is out. It's a great size for carrying with you and reading, quietly, wherever--no batteries needed. [personal profile] lesser_celery has relevant information here, and if you're not a subscriber and want to purchase an issue, leaving a note there would probably do the trick.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
A Stranger in Olondria
by Sofia Samatar
2013, Small Beer Press

Jervick, from the Tea Islands, is not only a stranger in Olondria, he’s a stranger in his homeland, too: someone educated in and besotted with the culture of a faraway land, schooled in letters in an oral society, able to recognize and make Olondrian allusions and references but bored by and ashamed of the place where he grew up. After his father dies, he travels to Olondria and briefly gets to experience the heady cosmopolitan existence he has dreamed of, in the consequence- and impact-free way strangers are both permitted and limited to. It’s kind of like being a ghost.

Read more... )
Describing someone’s self-exile, Jervick reflects,
I see him with the sweat on his brow which has turned the color of tallow and imagine how he will flee to the ends of the earth, putting the fathomless sea between himself and this sweet, incautious girl, interring himself in a country of alien flowers.
A country of alien flowers. It’s a startling, memorable, beautiful book.
asakiyume: (far horizon)
Hey, it's Wednesday, and I've actually read a thing: A Stranger in Olondria. I'm going to write up a review of it, because I ended up loving it; I think it's an amazing book, beautifully, powerfully told--and that's not what I went in thinking, or even what I was feeling in the first fifth of the book. Early on I had the impression that it was an admirable book that I was going to effortfully work my way through, but my mind completely, totally changed, so much so that by the end, this passage about coming to the end of a book--used as a heartbreaking analogy for final separation--was exactly how I felt:
Earlier, frightened, you began to have some intimation of it: so many pages had been turned, the book was so heavy in one hand, so light in the other, thinning toward the end. Still, you consoled yourself. You were not quite at the end of the story, at that terrible flyleaf, blank like a shuttered window: there were still a few pages under your thumb, still to be sought, treasured. Oh, was it possible to read more slowly?--No. The end approached, inexorable, at the same measured pace. The last page, the last of the shining words! And there--the end of the book.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
Merry December 27! Today I have an interview with Andrea Johnson, who maintains a very fun, thoughtful, wide-ranging fantasy and science fiction book blog at The Little Red Reviewer. She relates to the books she reads in a really personal way and makes interesting connections, like in her review of Martha Wells’s Artificial Condition, which weaves in her reactions to the video game Detroit: Become Human and her own experiences at the day job. (It’s a super post.) In January, after what will be almost nine years of book blogging, she’ll be launching a Kickstarter for a best-of book of her reviews, and this interview is to help spread the news about that--and also because it's fun to talk to interesting people.

Artificial Condition

Detroit: Become Human

You’ve been entertaining and informing readers with your book reviews and related posts on your blog since 2010. How has the book blogging landscape changed over the years?

One of the biggest changes I've seen is that publishers and publicists have realized that book bloggers exist and that we can actually help sell their books. Give a blogger an ARC of a book they are eagerly anticipating, that blogger will do just about anything for you. Back in the day, I don't think publicists and authors knew what to do with us. We weren't magazines, we weren't beholden to anyone, we also weren't required to read the book, give a glowing review, or publicize the review. Were we worth sending ARCs to? No one was really sure. Publicists realizing bloggers were free advertising and Netgalley changed all that. Yes, we are worth sending ARCs to! In fact, these days it's not unusual at all for bloggers to use their blog as a stepping stone to get into the publishing world.

Evolving technology has made blogging much easier. I no longer have to download the book photo from my digital camera to my hard drive and then upload to my blogging platform software. Now I can do all of that in 15 seconds from my phone. It's suddenly much easier to include more photos, short videos, or to shift your entire blog to Youtube and be a Booktuber vlogger. Instagram has a huge bookstagram area, with image-heavy posts. I am very curious to see how book blogging evolves over the next ten years. Will text-heavy sites like mine be considered “old fashioned”? Will Wordpress give me more space to store images and videos so I can imitate Booktubers and Bookstagrammers?

No matter how much the technology evolves, blogging will always involve hours and hours of reading the book, thinking about what you read, and typing up a review.

As a follow-up, I’m wondering about ways your approach to book blogging may have changed. Back in your first year, you wrote,
I review about half the books I read. Some books I pick up knowing I’m going to write a review, and other books I just pick up on a lark, and some books that I pick up on a lark I decide halfway through that I should write a review.

How have things changed for you (if at all) since you wrote that?

Only the first sentence has changed! It's still true—some books I pick up knowing that I'm going to review them, others I pick up on a lark and only later decide to review them. These days, I'm reviewing closer to 75–80% of the books I read. When I started my blog, I was working part-time, and many days my job at work was to “be available if people needed me, but other than that, stay out of trouble.” So I sat in the corner and read. What a heavenly job! I was easily reading 3–4 books a week. These days, working full-time, I'm lucky If I finish 3–4 books in a month. Less time to read means I'm more picky about what I pick up, means I'm paying much more attention to if the book is worth my time. If I get 40 pages in and the book just isn't doing it for me, I'll abandon it and pick up something else that looks more promising.

There is a stack of abandoned books next to the bed. These are books that I picked up one evening to read at bedtime, and then abandoned. Maybe I'll finish them one day, maybe not. My husband calls the stack the “book graveyard.”

If I finish the book, there is a good chance I'm going to review it.

more interview questions--and books!--under here )

Thank you so much, Andrea, and good luck!

She’s called the little red reviewer, and she really does have gorgeous red hair
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

I loved this collection. It makes me wish I’d known Gwynne Garfinkle when I was 10–12, because boy could we have played some great imaginary games together.

I’ll start with the stories, because those are what I read first. One I’d read before, “The Hedgehog and the Pine Cone,” a fable about depression, isolation, and friendship, but the rest were completely new to me. The first one I experienced was “Man Size,” which my daughter picked out and read to me when I was cooking one night. It’s a gripping story of a type of vampire unfortunately all too common in real life—one who gains power and vitality by belittling and negating others. Then I read “Don’t Look Back,” a powerful Orpheus-Eurydice story, a turn-back-time story, with the roles changed, interesting thoughts on trade-offs, and tragedy still waiting. I loved these lines:
Orpheus tears himself apart. Try as they might, the Maenads can’t put him back together again. They wail and rend their garments. Then they get very drunk

Where the protagonist of “Don’t Look Back” had the power to rewrite history, the protagonists of “The Paper Doll Golems” and “The Imaginary Friend” have the power of animation. The first is told from the perspective of Ruthie, who animates her paper dolls, while the second is told from the perspective of the titular imaginary friend, a stranded alien based on the hero of a movie beloved of Gigi, the girl who creates him. (Knowing that Gwynne is a film buff, I went searching for this movie, but alas, it seems not to exist, though I suspect The Cat from Outer Space was a partial influence [ETA: I guessed wrong! She says it was inspired by Planet of the Apes.]) Both stories have things to say about power and helplessness. Gwynne is definitely here for women who have been crushed, erased, belittled, co-opted—or murdered or otherwise destroyed. The opening story in the collection, “In Lieu of a Thank You,” sets the tone in that respect, transforming a damsel in distress into something much more powerful.

The poems were equally absorbing—one, in fact, entered my dreams last night: “Levitation Class.” That poem was absolutely perfect for me last night, and in my dreams I rose just as the poem describes. Thanks for that, Gwynne:
when you and your pain reach the ground
try to retain the sensation of flight

On the page facing “Levitation Class” is “Dorothy’s Prayer,” a beautiful poem from the perspective of Dorothy from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz that contains a cyclone in it. Many of the poems are inspired by or in conversation with films: “50 Foot” (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, 1958)—“They wanted you invisible or dead./Daring to take up space makes you monstrous”—and on the facing page, “love song from The Blob to Steve McQueen,” (The Blob, 1958) which contains these excellent lines:
it’s how I roll, it’s how I scroll
I’m my own red carpet
because I’m the star of the show

“Mysogyny” takes on The Stepford Wives (1975), asking us to imagine what Stepford looks like decades later. Maybe fathers initiate their sons into the dark secret, but what, the poem asks, do they tell their daughters? And “Linda Blair Pantoum” (shoutout to pantoums—I love that poetic form) sent me to Wikipedia to find out the significance of the references—and now I want Gwynne to write a poem entirely for Mercedes McCambridge, originally not credited as the voice of the demon in The Exorcist (1973). But I don’t want you to get the impression that you have to be a film fanatic or do tons of research to enjoy these poems: they’ll speak to you even without that knowledge. (They just say even more if you do have it.)

People Change is number 63 in Aqueduct Press’s Conversation Pieces series.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
It Happened at the Ball is out--an avowedly escapist, feel-good anthology whose stories all center, in one way or another, on a ballroom. [personal profile] sartorias compiled it with the intention of providing a pick-me-up in the face of the relentless grimness of current events. Here's the table of contents:
The Şiret Mask ~ ~ Marie Brennan
Just Another Quiet Evening at Almack’s ~~ Marissa Doyle
Homeworld Stranger ~ ~Sara Stamey
Kerygma in Waltz Time ~ ~Charlotte Gumanaam
Dancing Bangles ~ ~ Irene Radford
A Plague of Dancers ~ ~Gillian Polack
A Borrowed Heart ~ ~ Deborah J. Ross
The Gown of Harmonies ~ ~ Francesca Forrest
The Dress ~ ~ Lynne April Brown
A Waltz for May ~ ~ P.G. Nagle
Sherbet on Silver ~ ~ Brenda W. Clough
Gilt and Glamour ~ ~ Layla Lawlor
Lily and Crown ~ ~Sherwood Smith

"The Gown of Harmonies" is my contribution! It's about a blind seamstress who makes a musical gown. Of the other stories, I've only read "Lily and Crown," but I can tell you: it is **excellent**, [personal profile] sartorias in top form.

I'm really excited to read the others--I will report to you about them as I do. And if you would like to read these goodies, check out [personal profile] sartorias's entry here--it has all the links. (They're for e-books, but a paperback will be available through Book View Café shortly.)

asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
More Timor ca. 1960:
They also chant "songs of instruction" to the trees before they are hewn down, asking that they provide strong supports for the house and allow no harm to come to the family who will ultimately live within; and there are songs to encourage the Nautilus pompilius, to leave their sea bed and decorate the roofs of the most important houses with their shells.

That is a mighty fine tradition, and I wish we had it here. (I wonder if they still have it there.)

Here's a picture taken in 2006 by Flickr user giantpandinha of a house going up in Timor-Leste

On the rooftop

And here's another by her from the same year, looking up at those strong supports:

Solid house

There are different styles of house in different parts of Timor, but the ones King was talking about are the very distinctive house of Lospalos. Here's a photo taken in 1988 by Flickr user

Raca Village, Los Palos - Timor Leste
asakiyume: (Em reading)
I'm reading through Eden to Paradise, by Margaret King. She was an anthropologist, and this book, published in 1963, describes her time in what was then Portuguese Timor. I'm excited to read it because there's not a whole lot that's easily available to me about Timorese lifeways prior to independence. But oh holy wow to the wowth, this woman is self-satisfied, self-congratulatory, and casually racist like you wouldn't believe. (Actually, you would probably believe it.) I kept on mentally thinking I was reading something from the 1930s or something and then having to remind myself that this was the 1960s. Her attitudes seem just so... ugh. It made me curious about the woman herself, and it turns out she was born in 1922, so her notions probably reflect the era in which she was raised.

For all that she condescends massively toward the Timorese (and then is irritated when a Chinese man condescends to her, ah, yes, feels different in that direction, doesn't it), she clearly likes Timorese culture, and when she's talking about fishing practices or dances or things like that, you can brush aside her condescending remarks and just enjoy the thing she's talking about:
The Timorese women work long hours planting out the seedling rice and as each paddy is completed a long banner of bamboo, browned leaves waving in the slightest breeze, is raised as the signal to all who pass by of the successful beginning to another season. The paddies stand ranked in tiers one above the other, protected by their dry stone walls or earthen banks. These signals of bamboo are reminiscent of the scarecrows standing so solemnly in the fields of Europe to guard the newly planted grains, yet they have one enchanting difference, for, while the European scarecrows are either menacing or pathetic in their dilapidation, the bamboo signals wave gaily to everyone.

But oh man, when she's going on about herself, or when she's trying to wax poetic, she's just awful! Try not to choke on the self-congratulation in this excerpt:
Never having bothered very much about nationalities, preferring always to judge people as individuals,* it was a strange experience to be accepted as a compatriot by four different nationalities in one day. To make matters even more interesting the four races were widely divergent and, after the third encounter, I did begin to wonder whether I possessed the characteristics of a chameleon.

She's mistaken for Portuguese because of her fair skin, for Kashmiri because she knows about Kashmiri music, for Chinese because she quotes the poetry of Po Chü-i and Ou Yang Hsiu, and Timorese because she plays two Timorese tunes from memory on a Timorese flute. See how **special** she is?

The copy I have does have a lovely cover, however. Wakanomori found it in a used bookstore in England and presented it to me without comment--and I could tell by the houses and the woman's face that it was Timor. (Hmm, a little self-congratulation of my own, heh. So easy to criticize others; so hard to acknowledge the same flaws in myself)

*Not true: she remarks on everyone's nationality and talks about whether they adhere to her notion of the national stereotype.
asakiyume: (miroku)
Since finishing Too Like the Lightning, my mind has been burning up thinking about it. There are elements of the story that made me wonder if I wanted to read further in the series, but after a few days, I can say yes, I do, in part because I want to see what the author’s going to do with those elements.

I thought I could talk here about three things the book brought up for me. Maybe parcel them out over a few entries. Those three things are (1) Flavors of Divinity; Or, What Makes a God? (2) Will a Powerful Enough Computer Result in Unerring Predictions? And (3) Asking the Wrong Questions: Yet Another Asakiyume Rant on the Trolley Problem.

So this entry is for (1). In lots of stories, a god is basically a being who’s much more powerful than your ordinary human. Gods often also rule over and/or protect some collection of ordinary humans—and sometimes menace others. They’re like people, only with higher stats. As the witch says in The Silver Chair, “You have seen lamps, and so you imagined a bigger and better lamp and called it the sun. You’ve seen cats, and now you want a bigger and better cat, and it’s to be called a lion.”—same with gods.

Sometimes a deity’s motivations and thought processes are inscrutable, but usually, when we’re talking about these stat-enhanced creatures, they’re very, very easy to scrute.

But in some fiction, the gods are ineffable, mystical. The story may not specify how powerful they are, because that’s not where the interest is; the gods are there for wisdom and communion. This type of god may be intimate with humans or may be remote, but whatever the nature of the relationship, they’re definitely not simply more-better mortals.

I can enjoy stories with either type of god in it but what I don’t think I like very much is mixing the two; I guess I have an instinct I’m not going to like the two flavors together, so to speak? ETA--maybe because it represents two different kinds of worldbuilding? Or two different types of thinking on divinity?

But I’m also thinking maybe I’ve got too restrictive a taxonomy here. Maybe there are other, different ways of depicting gods in stories that are neither of these two and not just a mixing of them, either.

So… that’s one thing I’m curious about, going forward in the Terra Ignota series.
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Regret, sorrow, obsession, and yearning are so present in Forget the Sleepless Shores that it’s almost like they’re main characters. The human (and otherworldly) protagonists caught in their clutches often find words failing them—so light must speak, or clouds, or objects, or landscapes, but most of all, bodies must speak, skin to skin, sweat to sweat, intermingled breath, hands tangling in hair or gripping wrists. It’s sensuousness with an incandescent filament of the erotic threading through it, surrounded by the glowing unknowable.

Read more... )

The collection hits the marketplace tomorrow. That means you can still be ahead of the game and preorder now—here’s an Amazon link. Or, if you prefer, you can check out the book’s page at Lethe Press, the publisher.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
Look at this! I'm doing a Wednesday reading meme!

I'm reading Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning (Amusingly, for the first few days I kept thinking of as Nothing Like the Lightning. My brain was in opposite land, clearly). I started it because of Puddleshark's answer to my question about hopeful futures (and because I'd read interesting reviews of it, and Puddleshark's comment reminded me of that).

What an intriguing, absorbing book. I'm equal parts enjoying it and arguing with it (but I enjoy the arguing). I feel like a cat circling something new in its environment, fascinated, but also hissing.

There was a big reveal regarding awful crimes in the middle of the book, and it genuinely shocked and unnerved me. Maybe it was because I read it at night, but even as part of my brain was laughing nervously (because the awfulness was larded on so thick) another part of me was gasping like a fish.

And then it sort of became a problem for me, not because of delicate sensibilities but because--how can I put it without spoilers--the crimes (and other things hinted at) seem to indicate an upcoming focus that not only isn't to my tastes but that I think is a real will-o'-the-wisp that writers should avoid chasing. Except that (a) I think I'm manifestly wrong: many people are equally fascinated by this will-o'-the-wisp; in fact, I'm the odd person out for thinking of it as a phantasm, and (b), maybe possibly the plot will escape that black-hole pull. But I doubt it. Although I hadn't been spoiled for the big reveal, I do know about some upcoming plot elements that lead me to believe that I shouldn't hold out hope for (b).

All the same. Quite fascinating, with lots of memorable lines. Today's:

It was the kind of anger we create to mask our guilt.

I'm also reading an ARC of [personal profile] sovay's short-story collection. Wow. I'm two-thirds through it, and it is breathtaking. I suspect everyone who reads me also reads [personal profile] sovay and knows Sovay is a person of penetrating insights and breathtaking turns of phrase. The stories are intense and mesmerizing.

These two quotes, from a story that will be new to the world with this anthology:

Her long arms were tangled with tattoos

And this:

Perhaps he could ... leave, finally, the city that had always felt like home in the same way that his parents had felt like family, demanding, endurable, unchosen.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
The fourth and last of Jennifer Montgomery's wonderful coffee shop romances is out, Iced Coffee Dreams, starring Wynne (short for Eowyn--her parents are die-hard Tolkien fans), who's working part-time at Campus Coffee over the summer. She has dreams of opening her own cafe one day, but she's prone to anxiety ... and she finds it impossible to say no to problem-customer Shannon, who comes in all too often with a "Hey girl, hey," and a request for extra caramel, milk on the side, an extra punch to her loyalty card--you get the picture. If she can't handle Shannon, will she ever be able to manage a cafe on her own?

Enter coworker Parker, who's reserved, but friendly. In fact, he seems to want to spend time with Wynne. He's interested in her dreams and has ideas for how to build her confidence.

All the details in this story are just perfect. Every time Wynne imagines a different type of cafe, I was thinking, "Yes, I want to go there." (Traveling pop-up cafe? Check. Garden cafe in an actual garden? Check! hot-air-balloon cafe? Ooh, Check! Tree house cafe? Check check check! I definitely want to go to that one.)

And then there was the moment when Wynne's friend Kayleen describes what she expected Indiana to be like:
“Infinite corn, bonfire parties, two boys in a mud-spattered truck give us a lift to the ol’ swimming hole where we all drink beer out of red Solo cups while dancing in the headlights of a circle of pick-ups,” Kayleen said.

“Gosh,” Wynne said, all false innocence, “You must have listened to a lot of country music to come up with a list like that.”

“It’s not my fault,” Kayleen said. “My mom played it all the time.”

This is a sweet romance, where the pleasure is in watching the characters get to know each other and watching Wynne learn to face tricky situations successfully. The characters are all **very** likable and relatable--it's very fun to spend some time in summer with them, and RIGHT NOW in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway is precisely the story's setting--long, hot summer.

Highly recommended!
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Today is two weeks since I posted my giveaway for Unlocked, so I put all interested parties' names in a hat....

... and have three winners:

That's [personal profile] sonia, [personal profile] nemophilist, and [personal profile] petrichor_pirate!

Please message me via DW/LJ messages with mailing addresses for the physical books and email addresses for the kindle version (mobi format). Unfortunately I don't have an epub format, but I do have a PDF if the mobi format won't work for you.
ETA: Thanks to [personal profile] sonia, I now have an epub version to offer, so [personal profile] nemophilist and [personal profile] petrichor_pirate, if that electronic format is better for you, let me know! (And thanks again, [personal profile] sonia!

Thank you, everyone, for your interest in this book! It was a lot of fun to edit, and I hope the general public enjoys it as much as I did.
asakiyume: (miroku)
I don't usually edit whole books, but every now and then it happens, and this was one such case: Unlocked: Keys to Improve Your Thinking. I really enjoyed working on this book and have used some of the exercises in it with students I volunteer with, always with wonderful, thought-provoking results.

The intention of the book is to get people thinking about how they think, to understand how things like priming and cues work, to learn about the faultiness of memory and the selectivity of attention and so on, in the hopes that understanding how we think can help us think better. In the preface the author says,
People can react negatively to complexity and to rapid social and scientific change—for example, by retreating into rigid, deeply entrenched thinking, which leads to diminished curiosity and intolerance of those who think and act differently. Still more worrisome is an unconscious, invisible reluctance to challenge our own thoughts and feelings. Thinking, it seems, is far too often employed to justify an existing position rather than to explore, improve, and perhaps change it.

This book wants to change that.

I'm imagining that people reading here probably will, like me, be familiar with some of the thought experiments and information about thinking that the author presents, but probably/maybe (like me) not all of them. And they're entertainingly presented (though my nemesis, the trolley problem, makes an obligatory appearance).

One perk of doing the editing is that I have some books to give away! Both actual, physical books, which are better for some things (like writing down stuff when you're asked to write down stuff), and ebooks, which are better for other things (like hyperlinks and seeing stuff in color--the physical book is in black and white, but the ebook is in color).

Below the cut is an excerpt from the first "Think Key," which features an ethical dilemma that's a little less high-stakes than the one in the trolley problem. It'll give you a sense for what the book is like. To enter the giveaway, just express interest in a comment. In two weeks' time, I'll put names in a hat and pull three and post the results in a new entry. I'll also try to contact winners privately. You'll get both the physical book and the ebook.

Think Key 1: To Disclose or Not )

If you want to take a further look at the book, you can visit Amazon or the author's website.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
I'm going to be on just one panel at Readercon, but it's a fun one:

Our panelists will discuss the fictional futures they find most appealing and would be happy to live in (maybe with some caveats). Does the work that depicts these futures provide a path or hints as to how humans might get there? What makes these futures worth rooting for and aspiring to?

I have some thoughts on the topic, but what I also have is a question:

What books have you read that are set in appealing futures? What books have you read that are set in unappealing futures? That's the main question: even though I have have thoughts, I want to try to read a few more books so I have more to draw on than my limited stock. Send me titles!

I also have a follow-up question: Are there cases where you'd like to live/wouldn't mind living in an unappealing future? Why? And are there any cases where you wouldn't care to live in an appealing fictional future? Again, why?
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
We interrupt posts about Bogotá for a post courtesy of a second year of defoliatory levels of gypsy moth caterpillars.

You can hear them eating and pooping in the trees overhead. The ground is covered in caterpillar poops and fragments of leaves. Munch munch munch. I found myself thinking of Gurgi in the Prydain chronicles, who is always eager for food--crunchings and munchings as he calls them. Or maybe he says munchings first. Munchings and crunchings.

This is how I imagined Gurgi when I was a kid.

Yes. I imagined Gurgi as Grover, from Sesame Street, complete with Frank Oz voice.

Those of you who read the Prydain Chronicles--how did you imagine Gurgi?

asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
Briarley retells the story of Beauty and the Beast, imagining what might happen if Beauty’s father was man enough not to let his daughter sacrifice herself for him. Instead, he stays in her place.

In this retelling, it’s World War II, and the father is a parson who’s also a veteran of the Great War, and the beast takes the form of a dragon.

You know this is going to be a different type of retelling by the parson’s initial reaction to the dragon’s dilemma:
“The curse says you must learn to love and be loved, does it not? Those are the only conditions?” The dragon nodded, his head still buried in his hands. The parson broke a piece off a roll and buttered it. “Then I suggest you get a puppy,” he said.

Nor is this mere flippancy: “I have seen shell-shocked soldiers make great, great strides when they are given charge of a dog,” he says, and adds,
“A dog is a more loving creature than man. All the things that we wish we were, dogs are: loyal, faithful, loving, and cheerful in the face of adversity.

And that’s the type of story this is: the parson musing on the nature of love, different types of love, in the company of the dragon, who’s at first haughty, vain, capricious, and entitled, but gradually becomes… well, somewhat less so. Gray resists the easy out of a dramatic personality transformation—the emotional equivalent of taking off the glasses and having a character become suddenly gorgeous. Real people are beloved despite being prickly and short tempered. In this story, the parson has reasons for feeling both deep pity for and a deep attachment to the young man that the dragon once was.

The two talk not only about love, but also morality, vindictiveness, compassion—so much. And lest I’ve made it sound like some kind of milk-soaked graham cracker of a story, let me quickly also add that it’s **funny** too, as when the dragon and the parson have this exchange:
“That’s not how you learn to love, not at all. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it does not kidnap – ”

“You’re misquoting,” the dragon interrupted. “Paul doesn’t say anything about kidnapping.”
The parson replies, “I believe the injunction against kidnapping is implied by all the rest of it.”

It’s an original, moving, surprising story—I highly recommend it. It's available on Amazon here.
asakiyume: (glowing grass)
I read Semiosis because, like Children of Time, it promised to deal with alien intelligences—and it did: several, in fact. But where it really spoke to the other book, where I sense a zeitgeist thing maybe going on, was in how it raised and dealt with the questions of violence and free will. Lest that makes it sound too much like a philosophy or ethics treatise, let me quickly add that it’s also absorbing, imaginative, occasionally horrific, and occasionally hilarious. It kept me hooked even through moments where I had grave doubts, and I felt the end was well worth it.

Read more... )


Apr. 26th, 2018 08:58 am
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
Deer have been wandering through the woods/swamp behind my house in the mornings, it's on their route from one place to another. I love how they're both present and invisible. You have to wait for them to move to see them, just ripples in the air, they blend in so well, but with watching eyes and their white-flag tails if they're startled.

I think with their camouflage they could wander across worlds and dimensions and centuries. It makes me understand why the shishigami, the forest spirit, in Princess Mononoke, is a deerlike creature.

He grants both life and death; maybe he moves between those worlds or states.

And it gives me new insights into the end of Chekhov's short story "Ward No. Six," where the main character, just before dying, has a vision of deer:

There was a greenness before his eyes. Andrey Yefimitch understood that his end had come, and remembered that Ivan Dmitritch, Mihail Averyanitch, and millions of people believed in immortality. And what if it really existed? But he did not want immortality—and he thought of it only for one instant. A herd of deer, extraordinarily beautiful and graceful, of which he had been reading the day before, ran by him; then a peasant woman stretched out her hand to him with a registered letter . . . . Mihail Averyanitch said something, then it all vanished, and Andrey Yefimitch sank into oblivion for ever.

(The collection of Chekhov short stories from which this is taken is available to read for free on Project Gutenberg).

I remember almost nothing about that story, except that image. ... I might reread the story. I took three books with me to England when we lived there as a family; a collection of Chekhov short stories was one, and I read and loved most of them. My memory isn't what it might be, but I know what roads to walk down to recover things.

And deer know all the roads, and how to be a part of the landscape and yet not of it. That's their magic.
asakiyume: (the source)
Before we went to the Everglades in 2016, I started reading Marjory Stoneman Douglas's seminal work on it, River of Grass. It was not only hugely informative but beautifully written. At that time, I discovered that she'd written novel for young people (I think we'd call it middle grade, these days) called Freedom River (originally published 1953). It takes place just before Florida becomes a state and features three boys: a White boy, a Black escaped slave boy, and a Miccosukee boy. I was curious to read it for all sorts of reasons, including an idiosyncratic one: a 1994 reissue has illustrations by a cousin of mine (first cousin once removed; he's my dad's age).

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was born in 1890 and lived to be 108; in addition to being a tenacious environmentalist, she was also an advocate for women's rights and a charter member of the ACLU in the South. In 1948, appalled to learn there was no running water in the Black sections of racially segregated Coconut Grove, she helped set up a loan program so that the community could be connected to the sewer system and helped pass a law that no houses in Miami could be built without toilets. (Thanks go to Wikipedia for all this information.)

So--she was a social activist. But she was already in her sixties in the 1950s. So it's been very interesting, so far, to see how she handles this story of these three boys.

man, this got long )

So... that's a lot of thoughts for a children's novel that I'm only halfway through. Oh! And yes, I picked it up again because Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School being in the news reminded me that I owned it and hadn't yet read it.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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