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I was going to wait until I had time to go into Seventeen and get the textual backup for everything I'm saying, but I have gradually come to realize that if I wait until then it will never happen until possibly after Yuletide which isn't acceptable. Also I guess it would be even longer than it actually is. So. Here you go.

This is long even without quotations. )
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I am gonna finish this sequence. Someday. I really am. :)

This book, I think, has two different themes. This time I remembered to cut for length. )
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Come a Stranger is the most positive book in the Tillerman Cycle (which, in a series that takes on abandonment, death, failure, racism, and emotional abuse of a couple different kinds, is maybe not saying a whole lot, although the themes of all the books involve growth and compassion and optimism and healing so that I never really noticed until this read-through how relentless they are) — this is the book about a family that works from the very beginning, and with themes that involve an existing strength, and growth mediated by that strength (as opposed to, say, Dicey's Song and Solitary Blue, which are about fractured family that has to figure out how to work, and growth from what started as dysfunctionality).

Cut for length. )
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Oh man, this is a dense book. So many things going on in this one.

One thing I admire so much about all the Tillerman books is the way that the characters are so complex and rfull that they all stand alone. You could read this book without knowing one other bit about the Tillerman family, and it would still be a great book. But it's also in some ways the central book of this series — it shows you where everything else came from.

Theme and motif: several things going on here, at the same time. [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard pointed out the breaking and building motif. Bullet is a breaker; he doesn't build; Patrice also tells him he's not a builder. His brother John is a builder, John says. And Bullet shoots OD, and isn't able to rescue his mother… It's a hard book. But… Bullet, of all three of the Tillerman children of that generation, comes to a point where he accepts his life, which it's not clear the other two have done (they certainly had not come to that point when they left the Tillerman family).

There's also a pronounced racism arc, which interestingly carries over in a big way into Stranger, although it's a completely different thing in Stranger, of course.

There's also a boat again, in a confluence of boat and gift — Patrice makes Bullet a boat, as a gift (Bullet pays him for it, but it really is a gift), and Bullet gives it to Abigail — and that boat gives her a way to separate from her husband (I mean, not literally, more's the pity, but at least to manage that relationship with slightly more grace).

There's no music in this book, except square dancing from the jukebox (which is a very temporary and superficial form of connection, though connection nevertheless), and Bullet's and Abigail's memories of Liza singing, which connect them to her memory and really nothing else (well, maybe Bullet and Abigail to a certain extent). His father has squelched all the music — that which, in this cycle, makes family and found family.

I guess, maybe, the theme is growing up? Identity? This is the only book so far where I feel like it's hard for me to get a handle on it, because it's a book that I think generally sort of defies description. Like Bullet himself. He's described as being alone and separate, a man of bronze, a hero who just happens to be underage at the time. But he's also written as having a really finely-tuned sense of other people in a lot of ways, although completely oblivious and/or flat-out offensive in a lot of other ways. Of course, most people are a combination of those two things (especially in adolescence), but not to the extremes that Bullet's written — quite frankly most of the scenes with Bullet and Abigail in them just completely baffle me, because they understand each other's laconic words and I have no idea what they're talking about. (Please enlighten me! What does Abigail mean when she says Bullet used to have a good sense of humor? What does Bullet mean when Tommy says he thought better of Bullet, and Bullet says, "No, you didn't"? I think the former is just that Bullet hasn't yet had the idea of cooking breakfast for Abigail — and I think the latter is Tommy thinking everyone is just like him, and therefore he didn't think better of Bullet — but I don't know.)

Bullet thinks a lot about boxes, the way we box ourselves in, and his epiphany at the end is that we all are going to have boxes, we just get to choose whether we have boxes that we're comfortable with or not. I think maybe the book really is about the way we choose what limitations we work with, and what we do within those limitations.

But really I don't really know what the book is about. It's about the Vietnam War and the way the fear of the draft permeates everything; it's about race relations (or the lack thereof); it's about running cross-country; it's about how authority perpetuates itself; it's about a kid from an emotionally abusive family who is himself kind of violent; it's about all those things but it's not really about any of them.

Also, wikipedia tells me that in Homecoming James (who Liza was pregnant with, last Frank had heard — about a year ago) is 10 and Maybeth is 9. So you know what happened is that as a result of seeing Bullet in this book ("Frank's mouth drooped down a little at the ends. 'If I had the fare, I'd go up there right now, tonight; I could use a dose of Liza.'" And on the next page: "'I wonder if… do you think Honey'd give me the money to get to Boston?'"), Francis went away and went to visit Liza, who had just had James a couple of months previously, and Maybeth was the result. I… did not realize it was possible to hate him more than I already did, but IN FACT IT IS. Although violence is not my thing I… am kind of cheering Bullet on when he wrecks Honey's car (although to be fair it isn't at all Honey's fault. But still). (ETA 8-12: Um. Yeah. That really sounds like I think violence against innocent people is totally okay... which no. I should have said that I feel a lot of empathy for Bullet, and I do, but "cheering" is a bit much, yeah. Thanks mildred.)
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3+/5. So I read Homecoming! FINALLY. It only took, like, seven tries??

I had thought that it set off my abandonment and rejection squicks, and I think it does, some, although the rejection squick is actually pretty mild here, as it's Dicey that rejects Eunice more than the other way around. No, it's something else, as I realized around chapter 2 (this is the first time I've read it carefully paying attention to my own emotional reactions). It's this paralyzing fear I have of not being good enough for my family, the fear of failing them, that through my not being good enough horrible things will happen and it will be all my fault — and — I mean, this is definitely a child fear. I don't feel like that as an adult much — I mean, don't get me wrong, I expect I have my fair share of mommy guilt, but by and large I am really pretty OK with the imperfect balance I'm making of things. (When I am in emotional or physical crisis or panic mode, which thankfully has been a very rare and as-these-things-go-mild occurrence, these issues do come out more.) But man does this book bring everything out. Momma leaves their family, I am convinced, for exactly that reason. Dicey is less prone than just about anyone else in the world to that sort of fear, but it's a natural consequence of the situation she's in. I mean, she's facing these impossible odds and if she does fail, the brunt of the failure comes down on her siblings. AGH. (It was hard for me even to type that.) Interestingly, "disaster" books that are similar in that the protagonist strikes out against terrible odds, but the potential consequences fall on the protagonist alone (I'm looking at you, Hatchet) don't bother me at all, it's specifically the letting down family part that gets to me.

(I had to read the end first, to make sure they made it okay — obviously they did, but I had to remind myself viscerally. After about a chapter, I also then had to read the middle with Eunice, to steel myself for it — and like I said, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought I remembered. Then I was mostly all right — I think also that reading Solitary right before this steeled me a little, because I'm able to maintain some distance from what Melody does, and I was able to kind of carry that over into this book.)

Anyway, so I read it and it was (of course) amazing and there are things that are really cool re-echoed throughout the series. I will say that it does have a bit of first-book-in-a-series feel to me; reading it after all the other books, instead of before, I feel that she had only 80% worked out what was going to be in the other books (occasionally there was something I blinked at, like Millie saying they don't bother Abigail — I suspect Voigt would have written that slightly differently if she'd written it after Dicey's Song) instead of, like, 99%, but even that — well, you see that by working from the other books I'm working from an impossibly high standard.

This one's theme is really easy. Home. It's even in the title. What is it, who is it, how do you get there, how do you find it, how do you make it. Home not only for the Tillerman children, but for Gram. For Gram, there are two different homes, of course: the home she made for herself, all by herself, after her husband died.(*) And there's the home that she didn't want, or at least told herself she didn't want, but got anyway, the home with four children in it, the home that is also (and finally, at long last) a family.

In this book, there's a red sweater, which [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard had previously pointed out to me (in Runner) as Bullet's. (I don't think it's the identical sweater in Runner, since Liza was long gone by that time, but we know Bullet's favorite color is red, and he probably had several red sweaters.) It's a man's sweater with holes in it, it's what Momma was wearing when she left them (as described by Dicey later). I… don't know how it makes me feel if I think that Liza was thinking about Bullet when she left her family.

Mildred also pointed out to me that the second half of the book mirrors the first, and it's the sort of thing I probably wouldn't have noticed if it hadn't been pointed out to me, but it really does. It's interesting to me not only how Eunice and Gram are mirrored, but also how Will and Claire are mirrored by Windy and Stewart; both sets of people rescue them and are helpful in getting them to their destination, but the latter… don't care about them, really, and one might expect that once you helped a set of four kids you might come back later and see if they were actually doing OK. As Will and Claire do.

Okay, I'm sure there's lots of other stuff I was going to talk about, but I can't find my copy right now, so it will have to wait.

(*) also, by the way, the chronology is finally falling into place for me! In Runner, James has probably just been born or is about to be born (Frank says that in the last letter he got, Liza said she thought she was pregnant again, and I totally could see at least half a year going by since then). In Homecoming, he's 10 — so Homecoming takes place ten, at most eleven years after Runner. (Also, I always thought of Gram as being really old — I think because of the name Gram — but she must not be any older than 60 in Dicey's Song, and very likely in her 50's.) Grandfather Tillerman died 4 years before Homecoming, so — oh geez — that means six years, at least, of the two of them alone. Without any children. Without even a phone. And maybe on the whole it's a relief to Abigail, because no children means no hostages, but… still. STILL.

…gosh, can you imagine Homecoming if the grandfather were still alive. Actually, let's not.
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The more [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard and I are diving into these books, the more I am impressed by them. They work on so many levels — the immediate visceral level, the depth of character level, but also the amount of cross-referencing and deep theme repeating and reflecting among the books is frankly scary. Some of it I'd seen before, and some of it I never really registered because they're so good on the other levels. I don't know any other books quite like these (and if you do, I definitely want to know about it).

Cut for length. )
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Nth reread. I have posts on Thick as Thieves, All the Birds in the Sky, and Carry On, Mr. Bowditch in the queue, but then [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard found several interesting cross-references between The Runner and Seventeen Against the Dealer (thank you for telling me about these!) and one thing led to another and now I'm in the throes of a massive Tillerman reread. Maybe I'll even get through Homecoming this time, although so far it's not looking promising… I have a plan, though!

In my reading Dicey's Song this time around, the theme of holding on and letting go is even more explicitly prominent than I remembered — but, you know, now that I think about it, this theme echoes and re-echoes throughout the cycle. In Runner, in Come a Stranger, in Sons from Afar… all of the books, I think, really, are about letting go of the things you have to, and holding on to the things you love, and how those things are tangled up together and sometimes are the same thing.

And I noticed on my last reread that the cycle's overarching theme (or one of them) is family, and this book is about the family that figures itself out, how it figures itself out, and is the one most explicitly about what it means to be a family.

I think this book is in many ways the thesis statement for the entire cycle.

And oh my goodness the resonances… I think Voigt must have had all these characters fully realized in her head from the very beginning. Jeff cites his father quoting Tolstoy about how unhappy families are all unhappy in their own way… setting up that exploration of family. And the Chesapeake Bay, which is its own character who really comes into its own in Solitary Blue. And the farm, which emerges as a character (as [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard noted).

And boats and music, both as motifs and representative of… what is the boat representative of? Freedom? Independence? Connection? I think all those things at one time or another. Boats are… a really big deal in this cycle. I think every book has a boat playing a somewhat central role. Oh no, wait, not Come a Stranger, I think? Which may mean something as well... Anyway. This book begins with Dicey sinking a boat (…Bullet's old boat, right? So it's its own character too?), then the rest of the book involves her working on it, and what it means that she's able to or not able to work on it. Interestingly, where Dicey is concerned it seems to be the process that symbolizes to us what's going on, not the result (as it might be in the hands of another writer). Dicey doesn't finish the boat, and that means something because the reason she doesn't finish it is because she' busy holding on. (HM. Bullet finished his boat. He was letting go, and not holding on to anything. HMM. Runner is probably the key to this whole cycle.) And then there's the failure in Seventeen… I think it will be much more interesting to look at that, this time out.

I don't know what music means exactly in these books, except that it's a way throughout the cycle that people are drawn together, that people in these books strengthen families and create found families. Interestingly… I think (?) the only book devoid of music entirely is The Runner, and even that one has poetry as a way to (sort of) connect.

And other things… Gram gets a phone. The same phone she threw at the phone company in Runner, when she became for all intents and purposes alone, and liked it that way (well, I guess, at least after her husband died; I don't imagine it was very comfortable until then, but from what she says in this book, she might have found her own meaning in that as well). She gets it explicitly because she has children in the house. So the phone, itself a means of communication, becomes representative of Gram's willingness to communicate, her connection, her reaching out.

(Geez, I want more fic about Gram. She learned all these lessons, slowly and painfully, that she's telling to Dicey in this book. What was it like for her?)

And the scene in the wood shop never fails to break me down. I'm just always a crying mess after reading that one.
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3+/5. This book was really painful for me to read, because it was so emotionally accurate. It's about a family with a daughter Tilly on the autism spectrum, variant PDD-NOS, Asperger's-like. Tilly is, I think, in 7th grade? She is exceptionally intelligent and also has an exceptional amount of information about her chosen topics (statues). She also has severe meltdowns, often in public, some for which the cause isn't necessarily known. She appears to have some sensory processing issues. She has a lot of social difficulty, including sexually explicit speech and using extremely derogatory terms (e.g., bitch) to describe everyone around her. She is kicked out of several schools, the last being a special-ed school for children like her. At the time of the book, she is being homeschooled, but even that is fraught. Her parents uproot their family to be part of a camp for special-needs children like Tilly, led by a charismatic child-advice guru who might or might not be the answer to their hopes.

Most of the book is from the perspective of Iris (Tilly's younger neurotypical sister) and Alexandra (the mother). Iris loves her sister, even often likes her; is ashamed of her sometimes, struggles with the sacrifices her family has to make for her sister. Alexandra bears a crushing weight of… everything, of feeling like a failure for Tilly's failures, of anxiety about what her child will become and what her life is going to be like.

And it was like reading about a dark mirror of my own life. Cut. )

Anyway. The only thing about it was that the descriptions were really stunning, the characterization and writing were great, but I felt like the ending was a little… abrupt, and it didn't quite deliver on the answers to all the hard emotional questions it was asking.

(edited 5-21-17 for wrong author, oops)
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I've noticed that I'm spending a lot of time teaching my daughter (7) stuff that I'm simultaneously reading about as Stuff Women Internalize That Can Cause Problems — not making waves, not kicking up a fuss about things, trying to accommodate other people, giving a lot of attention to other people's feelings, being deferential and respectful to people in authority.

On the other hand, with E it's on the level of "not making waves" = "not literally screaming loudly because you bumped your leg mildly in a way that your two-year-old sibling just did and didn't even make any noise," and "being deferential and respectful" at 7-year-old diva stage corresponds to "don't yell 'Don't say that!' to everything Mom says, and in general give Mom the courtesy of not yelling given that Mom doesn't yell at you." So… I think I am okay here. But I find myself talking a lot about how it's totally okay to scream and/or be super non-deferential and impolite if someone is trying to get you to do something that you're uncomfortable with. And I still worry: am I finding the right balance? Am I going too far in one way or another? Where's the line?

(I'm trying to raise the boy and girl more-or-less identically, but this is actually a difference — while I try very hard to make sure that I don't teach E anything about being polite and accommodating that I wouldn't also teach A, I probably will not lean so hard with him on the "but if someone harasses you, you can totally go off on them!" because I expect A to have a lot more in the way of examples for that. I mean, I think it's still important for him to know that as a little kid! But more and more I suspect I will de-stress or even work against that view as he grows up, whereas it will probably get more important to me to stress that for my daughter. I think. Who knows. This parenting thing is hard.)
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4/5. So I listened to clipping's Splendor and Misery experimental-hip-hop-space-opera album, which I had not heard of (because I live under a rock) before it was nominated for the Hugo.

TL;DR: It is awesome and you should listen to it (I listened to it on Spotify, but if you don't have spotify you can listen to it on YouTube, either the full album or tracks — 1-15 are the actual tracks, 16 is the full album, and 17 is a fanvid) and totally vote for it for the Hugo!

IT IS AWESOME. I mean, it's basically a Daveed Diggs tour-de-force showing him off in about twenty different ways (you know how fast he raps in "Guns and Ships" in Hamilton? I think he raps even faster here!), but also it's a space opera! and has all sorts of references to SF! and digs into questions about slavery and freedom and solitude and rhythm… It says something that the first thing I did after listening to it was… go back to the beginning and listen to it again.

From Sub Pop (clipping's label):

Splendor & Misery is an Afrofuturist, dystopian concept album that follows the sole survivor of a slave uprising on an interstellar cargo ship, and the onboard computer that falls in love with him. Thinking he is alone and lost in space, the character discovers music in the ship’s shuddering hull and chirping instrument panels. William and Jonathan’s tracks draw an imaginary sonic map of the ship’s decks, hallways, and quarters, while Daveed’s lyrics ride the rhythms produced by its engines and machinery. In a reversal of H.P. Lovecraft’s concept of cosmic insignificance, the character finds relief in learning that humanity is of no consequence to the vast, uncaring universe. It turns out, pulling the rug out from under anthropocentrism is only horrifying to those who thought they were the center of everything to begin with. Ultimately, the character decides to pilot his ship into the unknown—and possibly into oblivion—instead of continuing on to worlds whose systems of governance and economy have violently oppressed him.

It is elliptic and somewhat abstract and it's hard to piece together exactly what's going on (which may be a turnoff to some people, of course; for me it's kind of a draw). I have a couple of thoughts on this below.

Thoughts on the plot and specific tracks; spoilers, I guess )

I don't love it as much as Hamilton. Some of the reasons are my own proclivities: I really love the Broadway/hip-hop fusion of Hamilton and the way LMM plays with musical convention. The other thing is that there's a certain amount of emotional depth and range to Hamilton that is necessarily not present in S&M, given that there are only two characters, one of which is a computer. Diggs does a great job in infusing the computer with emotion over the course of the album (contrast "Baby Don't Sleep" with "The Breach") but it's still true that the range is basically [no-emotion anger], and that's pretty much it.

But! it is amazing and it totally, totally should get a Hugo.
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Just realized we have only one more day, ugh. Some things that have come up:

-[personal profile] skygiants reminded me (which I had totally forgotten) that she wrote some stories in 2016. I'm going to nominate these:

“Further Arguments in Support of Yudah Cohen’s Proposal to Bluma Zilberman”, Rebecca Fraimow, Diabolical Plots. Short story. This one is my favorite. It may be my favorite short story I read in 2016. I just love Yudah's distinctive, cocky voice, the sense of a very rich world in terms of underpinnings of relationships, the multiple twists that happen in a short letter. Just really, really highly recommended whether or not you are nominating.

Shaina Rubin Keeps Her Head Under Circumstances Nobody Could Have Expected, Rebecca Fraimow, PodCastle. Novelette. Sequel to "Proposal." Okay, I might love this one as much, actually. The greater length makes it less dense than "Proposal" in terms of twists, but it's similar in terms of the sketching in of rich characterization and relationships in relatively few words (plus plot!), and Yudah and Bluma are like old friends when they show up. My favorite part is how Shaina's voice has similar qualities to Yudah's (given that they're both Jewish inhabitants of Vilna) but is also completely different.

It stands alone from "Proposal" but also spoils it, so read "Proposal" first, okay?

-I am nominating Octavia E. Butler (Gerry Canavan, University of Illinois Press) in Best Related Work. I haven't actually gotten very far, and usually I would not nominate something I haven't actually read all the way through, but I like it so far and I really want to encourage people writing works on people like Butler.

-I am nominating Chuck Tingle for Best Fanwriter (with his twitter as the example). I could not see my way to voting for him for Short Story last year, but in my opinion his Hugo-related meta last year totally deserves nomination in some form, and I figured this was better than Related Work (since the form explicitly says "cannot be eligible in other category" -- I was totally planning on nominating "Space Raptor Butt Redemption" as Best Related Work, but it is also eligible in Novelette so I can't.)
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Have some links to short Hugo-eligible fiction!

Nebula nominees available free (hat tip: [personal profile] umadoshi)

Abigail Nussbaum’s nominees - AN’s taste in fiction isn’t congruent to mine (and sometimes we just flat-out disagree), but I do find her words about it to always be thought-provoking. Also plan to nominate her as best fanwriter. (Also plan to nominate [personal profile] skygiants as best fanwriter, if that’s OK.)

Set of nominees from [personal profile] forestofglory.

Another link from ladybusiness, with recs for all categories.

The novelettes on these lists that I liked enough to put them on my ballot: “The Art of Space Travel,” “The Venus Effect” (though I must say I didn't like it nearly as much as Abigail Nussbaum did) and “The Dancer on the Stairs” (probably my favorite).

Also, honorable mention to "The Tomato Thief," which I am not sure is going to be on my ballot, but it made me go back and reread the extremely good Jackalope Wives (to which it is a sequel), which deserved its Nebula and deserved the Hugo too, ugh.

The short stories on these lists that I liked enough to put on my ballot: “The Destroyer” (probably my favorite), “Sabbath Wine” (would be interested to know what the Jews on my f-list think about this one - ETA, probably going to take off my nom list), “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers," and "The Most Important Thing."

I haven’t read the vast majority of novellas on these lists. I’ll try to get around to Penric and Taste of Honey in the next week, I think. And yes, probably also The Jewel And Her Lapidary because of the title.
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Okay, I should maybe say something about the Hugos. In the book category, I plan to read Necessity and All the Birds in the Sky before the nomination deadline, but haven’t gotten to either yet. Some I did at least start reading:

Company Town (Madeline Ashby) - 3+. This one started really strongly, with great writing, a great POV character, some really interesting things going on with the worldbuilding. If it had ended as strongly I would have given it a 4; sadly, I felt like the ending was rushed and uneven (and didn’t address a couple of pretty major plot threads) to the point where at one point I was like, “What’s going on?” And the love interest had pretty much zero character. But worth reading nevertheless.

The Obelisk Gate (N.K. Jemisin) - 3+. I liked it. It is a second book of a trilogy, so, you know. But... so, in the first book I was able to put aside Jemisin's somewhat stark viewpoints because the writing was so strong, and here it starts to poke at me. So: one of the major questions of this book is, “When are negative actions toward a child necessary in pursuit of a greater good?” The book seems to come down on “Never!” by using a lot of straw men like breaking a child’s hand. Which, okay, yeah, I agree is probably never necessary.

But if you’re ever in my house around toothbrushing time, the toddler feels that toothbrushing is a Very Negative Action, thank you very much, and is not afraid of disseminating this opinion at Great Volume. I mean, you guys! I feel really awful brushing his teeth! I feel like I’m torturing him! I constantly have to tell myself that it’s for the greater good of him not getting cavities, which would definitely be worse. I think I'm right, darn it.

And then there’s E’s music practice, which is complicated by my never knowing whether it’s going to end in total disaster or a happy sunny child. We’ve definitely had practices where both of us are in total despair afterwards — because kiddo Hates Mistakes and they are liable to send her into a spiral of meltdown — but, I mean, she’s got to learn how to make them! (And we are talking a LOT about how it's okay to make mistakes, that I would rather her deal well with mistakes than play it perfectly, that the Right Answer isn't as important as trying, etc. ad infinitum.) So I do have meta-reasons for doing this. And sometimes she really likes it! And she likes performing! So I don’t even know.

Anyway, that is all to say that I felt some sympathy for Essun teaching her daughter in maybe not the most considerate and sweet way because it was the way she thought would save the kid’s life? And, I mean, she might even have been right considering what happened to her other children? I don't think I was supposed to feel sympathy for Essun; the book pretty clearly comes down on the side of the daughter, here. And I think the question is more nuanced and interesting than Jemisin is willing to admit, and the book suffers for it.

Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire, I think this is actually a novella) - 3. I actually love McGuire’s style here — it’s sort of this half-fairy-tale-ish-but-still-in-this-world quality, with some nice set pieces. And I admit I came in with low expectations which the book exceeded. All the negative things people have said about it are true (see e.g. [personal profile] rachelmanija’s review (no explicit spoilers) and [personal profile] ase’s spoilery review) but I didn’t really think about them too hard while I was reading. The funny thing is, the part that threw me out of the book was the part where people talk about the “directions” of fairy lands being, instead of north/south and east/west, wicked/virtue and logic/nonsense, with some “minor directions” in there. Those are not directions! You are not navigating by them! Those are descriptive/categorization axes.

There were two big issues I had, which are somewhat related to each other.First, most of the worlds where the girls went (and specifically Nancy’s) set off all my power-dynamic relationship squicks — I mean, older powerful dude going after young naive teenage girl who feels like she doesn’t belong, telling her that she’s wonderful and fits in and things are different with him and oh by the way he controls literally everything, and hey wouldn’t you like to leave your family and friends forever and be with me? Yeah. Do Not Like. Partially because of this, I disliked the ending intensely. Slightly spoilery. )

Too Like the Lightning (Ada Palmer) - DNF. On paper this book looks like it should be everything that delights me (rich complex future history, world-breaking sorts of events, lots of allusion, lots of historical resonance, lots of implicit statements) - I feel like… I was expecting Hild or John M. Ford and got something sort of weirdly not either? Also I suspect if I knew way more about the French Enlightenment I would appreciate this more. Also I felt decidedly as if she was trying too hard with the gender stuff, like, Mycroft keeps saying how they live in a gender-neutral society and then he is constantly bringing up gender, gender roles, gender stereotypes... Which I guess is kind of the point, but I felt like Palmer was telling me rather than showing (compare for instance Leckie’s Ancillary books, which make a much stronger point to me by being very quiet and matter-of-fact about its pronouns and describing how other people react to it).

Ninefox Gambit (Yoon Ha Lee) - DNF. Again I feel like maybe I’m not the right audience for this book, because I know a bunch of people really liked it, and on paper it seems really great (militaristic science fantasy with math words being used instead of “magic” words, with honor and belonging/place being a huge part of the culture) but 20% in I didn’t care about any of the characters at all or understand why they cared about their really pretty awful society, so I bailed.

Iron Cast (Destiny Soria) - DNF. Again on paper this seems great - Prohibition era AU with blood magic, manifested through music — this sounds awesome! I got bored and bailed after about three chapters. I dunno, maybe it was me.

Other stuff: I have to get some Related Work stuff in. Planning to look at Geek Feminist Revolution and there might be an Octavia Butler bio out there? Anything else I should be looking at?

Short fic post sometime this weekend, I hope.
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I’m still alive! Things that have taken up my time lately:

-Kiddos. For some reason two kids is much more mentally tiring than one. A. started daycare in January so we’ve all been adjusting to that. E. is probably doing Too Much Stuff, oh well, and I feel like logistics for her takes up a lot of my mental and spare time space. I can’t wait until I have to do logistics for both of them.

-After winter break which was great because we didn’t see many people (we saw D’s sister’s family and parents, which was really fun) and therefore were actually healthy for the ENTIRE WEEK following the break, we are continuing our side hobby of getting sick on a regular basis. I shouldn’t complain, because by this time we all have really great immune systems and so it’s actually not very bad much of the time (kids get cranky, I feel mildly crappy, D ranges from feeling mildly to fairly crappy, but it’s a far cry from when E started daycare and we all felt horrible with horrible cold symptoms for weeks at a stretch), but it is still annoying and takes up more time in reduced efficiency and dragging around than any actual enjoyable hobby we have.

-I have been called to be Gospel Doctrine teacher in my ward. It’s a lot more work than my previous calling (teaching in Relief Society, the women’s class) — I’ve been sinking kind of a lot of my free time into it -- and some weeks have gone much better than others, and I just really love it and feel like I’m meant to be doing this, like I can really add something to people's lives. Relatedly, I’ve also been spending a lot of time in the last week or so writing a lot of email to G., a woman in my ward who is having a lot of the issues with belief that I had about 10-15 years ago. I might post some of the stuff about faith and belief (and the rather quirky LDS theology thereof) and how I deal with flat-out contradictions.

So… one thing I haven’t been doing is reading SF published in 2016. I have So Like the Lightning, The Obelisk Gate, and Necessity on my list to read. Anything else?


Jan. 2nd, 2017 02:55 pm
cahn: (Default)
Now that Yuletide reveals are over (I have a more conventional reveal post here) I can finally inflict on you guys all the feelings I have about Earthsea, which I read again for the first time in many years (at least ten, maybe fifteen) this fall.

...I have a lot of feelings.

The second trilogy, which I reread first. )

The first trilogy, which I read second. )

Le Guin and style. )
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Merry Christmas and Happy Yuletide! I am still alive! Okay, so, I realize I am waaaay behind on well, life in general, and the documentation thereof, but I had to say something about my (four!! You crazy awesome people, you!) Yuletide fics because they are marvelous and also because I am worried no one will see them, partially because they're all in small fandoms to begin with and partially because of a sequence of events that wasn't really anyone's fault but which meant the ones in Tiptree fandom didn't get wrangled (*) :(((((((( So please go read and shower love on these, pleeeease!

My gift:
Firebound (2345 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Der Ring des Nibelungen | The Ring of the Nibelung - Wagner
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Ambiguous or Implied Relationship(s), Brynhildr/Sieglinde
Characters: Brynhildr | Brunnhilde, Loge (Ring des Nibelungen)
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Fate & Destiny, References antisemitic stereotypes

There isn't much to do at the top of a desolate mountain, bound by inviolate will, except to chat.

I asked for Brunnhilde and Loge, talking, because the way Ring is set up they have a lot of the same concerns, and would that not be awesome? Answer: yes! Yes, it is awesome! It is especially awesome when Norse myth and gnomic wisdom is interspersed throughout, when Sieglinde plays a prominent role even though she's not actually in the fic except very briefly, and when it is AU that is fix-it, which is totally what I want from Ringfic. I was really pleased by this and you should definitely read it if you have any interest in the Ring Cycle or Norse myth at all!

My treats were all in my requested fandom Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (anthology) - James Tiptree, Jr.. The link should get you to where you can see all the fics, as well as a tiny ficlet that some anonymous person wrote to get the fandom wrangled only that didn't happen, but anyway.

The Greek Origins of Certain Words (2788 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (anthology) - James Tiptree Jr.
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Original Female Character/Original Male Character
Characters: Original Characters
Additional Tags: Science Fiction, Post-Canon, Body Modification, Dysfunctional Relationships, Yuletide Treat

“It’s a dying field,” Elsie said, “pornography.” She and Desmond were in bed together and she had taken to idly fidgeting with his body, as though he were terrain she was mapping: that was the term her industry used for relatively unmarked flesh. The terrain.

This is an amazing piece of work, possibly written by undead Tiptree (heh, wouldn't that be a story) -- it is so point on and spectacularly Tiptree in both voice and theme. It's sort-of-kind-of a sequel to, or at least takes place in the same universe as, "And I Awoke And Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side" -- but you don't need to have read the story to read this. Not only does this story replicate the breathless cadences and seventeen-new-worldbuilding-ideas-a-minute SF that characterize Tiptree's best work, but it's brilliantly about Tiptree's major themes: sex, love, biology, and what it means to be human. Especially the sex part -- from one point of view this fic is one extended (philosophical!) sex scene with kink, but the sex is crucial: it's part and parcel of examining the philosophical and SF-ian underpinnings of the universe, story, and humanity. This is just amazing. If you like Tiptree, this is basically required reading! But in general, if you are interested in stories about sex, love, biology, philosophy, what it means to be human, and/or in darn good SF, read it!

As Though to Breathe Were Life (2922 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (anthology) - James Tiptree Jr.
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Original Male Character(s)
Additional Tags: Original Character-centric, Alien Cultural Differences, Not Entirely Hopeless

“It’s a human thing,” I say. “The struggle, you don’t get how much we need it. Really trying, setting your heart on something grand and impossible, win or die.”

This is the one I feel extremely protective towards, because not only is it in a super-small unwrangled fandom but it's also in Madness! So I worry a lot about it not getting anything like its fair share of love. Anyway, this one is also super worth reading and you should all read it. It isn't Tiptree pastiche and actually reads much more like original SF, and therefore I think you don't need to have read any canon, and it's enjoyable even if you hate Tiptree -- but yet has all those Tiptreeian themes -- what does it mean to have free will, or not; what does it mean to be human, in all its pain and glory and terribleness. It is heartbreaking and wonderful.

(Also, I am totally guessing that morbane wrote this for me. If so, thank you!! If not, well, take this as a compliment :) )

The Dead Authors Podcast Chapter 60: James Tiptree Jr. (1299 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (anthology) - James Tiptree Jr., The Dead Authors (Podcast), 20th Century CE RPF
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: James Tiptree Jr., Alice Sheldon, H.G. Wells (The Dead Authors Podcast)
Additional Tags: Yuletide Treat, Yuletide, Time Travel, Gender Issues, Feminist Themes, Trans Character, Politics, RPF, Star Trek References

"I must ask, should I be addressing you as James, Tip, Alice, or Raccoona?"

Man, I wish I'd had the idea to cross over James Tiptree Jr. as a guest on the Dead Authors Podcast! (If you haven't listened to this podcast, you should at least listen to the Ayn Rand one, which is completely hilarious.) I've only listened to a couple of them, but I get the impression that generally in the podcast the "dead authors" tend to stay in their previous-life personas; here we get Alice Sheldon changed by her journey to the future into someone who can articulate things about feminism and trans-issues that she was not able to do in her own life.

(*)Cut for discussion of how no one did anything wrong but we all lost: fandom names and tag wrangling. )

cahn: (Default)
All right, I don't really want to talk about politics here and I hope not to make any more posts about politics (and I'll probably f-lock this one eventually), but I'll just make this post because I thought a couple of you might find it interesting.

K/B asked me two weeks ago about the LDS Church and whether it would ever come out against Trump. I said (and still say) no. The Church did not even endorse Mitt Romney in 2012, who was one of our own.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that the LDS religion believes very, very strongly in freedom of religion and the related freedom to vote our own consciences. Our theology in fact explicitly postulates that the founders of this country were motivated by the Spirit of the Lord to develop a country in which these freedoms are possible. The second, more cynical reason, is that the LDS Church will never, ever do anything to call into question its nonprofit tax-exempt status as a religion, and making statements about any political candidate or party would put itself squarely in that bullseye.

(I believe both. If it weren't for the second reason, I absolutely believe that the Church would be tempted to speak out more. I could also imagine that if it weren't for the first reason, the Church might be tempted to do at least wink-wink-nudge-nudge kinds of statements, which I've heard from the pulpit in my sister-in-law's evangelical church and which I found horrifying.)

The Church has put out a single official statement on, not Trump, but in response to Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States. It did not name Trump. It basically went, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns. However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom," and a couple of relevant quotes from Joseph Smith. The Deseret News (of which more later) was happy to unpack what they actually meant, though.

Utah is still red, I told K/B, but usually the LDS church votes Republican as an extremely reliable bloc [not wholly, especially those in California and Massachusetts, haha, but… pretty strongly so], and in this election that bloc no longer holds.

Then that tape came out.

The Church has not said anything officially about it, I think rightly so (see above).

Last Saturday, the Deseret News wrote a very strongly-worded editorial against Trump. (It declined to go so far as to endorse Clinton.)

And now Mormons have pretty much broken against Trump.

I've seen a couple of articles about the Mormon revolt against Trump in the last several days, but I don't think I've seen anywhere talk about exactly how important the Deseret News editorial was in the confluence of the LDS Church and politics. The Deseret News is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is not an official Church publication. It says it is not a mouthpiece for the Church. However, in the past it used to be exactly that. It still has a great deal of power and does in fact in the minds of many Mormons speak for the Church. Last week when I was at church, in fact, people (including me) were confused as to whether the Deseret News was an official Church publication or not. (This was in a completely unrelated, religion-based context, and I had not yet seen the Trump editorial because I am not the sort of LDS person who reads the Deseret News. But there are people in my ward (in California) who read it every day.)

Anyway, probably partially because of this background and the possibility of confusion, The Deseret News has not taken a stand for/against a political candidate in 80 years. But they have done so now. And it is a huge deal in LDS circles. It doesn't carry the weight of an official pronouncement, and certainly should not; but there are a lot of people in the LDS Church who will give it a lot of weight. There were already a lot of LDS who disliked Trump (that's a whole other story; Trump's brand of demagoguery is basically antithetical to Mormons -- ETA 10-14: for example see this Buzzfeed article written by a Mormon reporter) but might have pushed the lever for him out of not knowing that much about him combined with conservative solidarity; but this, I think, will have given them another path, and what's more, a path that at least appears to come with tacit approval of the leaders of the Church. (The editor of the Deseret News claims he did not run the editorial by any Church leaders, and I have no reason not to believe him. But people will assume that he did anyway, or at the very least — and I also believe this — that his beliefs are shared by church leadership.) I've already seen the editorial be passed around and convince a couple of previous Trump supporters on an LDS message board I occasionally look at.

(There's also a whole other post I could make about LDS theology and women and how Trump hit that in a way that was pretty much guaranteed backlash, but this is already enough, so never mind.)

(And I should also add that I don't think the Deseret Times affected the Mormon politician exodus from Trump which has also been happening; that seems to have happened independently (though for the same reasons that the editorial came out, see also LDS theology and women), and of course Mitt Romney has been the lone voice crying in the wilderness that is Republican politics for some time. What I'm talking about here has been more important for those people who haven't been following the political scene super closely.)

And today (er, yesterday now) a poll came out showing Trump and Clinton tied (with Evan McMullins' numbers shooting up stratospherically — he's an independent LDS candidate) in Utah. Utah. Maybe the poll is skewed, maybe it isn't quite right, maybe it's biased. But… I don't think it's that far wrong. I think, I really think, we're going to see Utah in play. It might not go for Clinton (I will laugh if McMullins wins Utah; I think he actually has a decent shot), but I think it is going to be close. This is something I never thought we'd see in my lifetime. And of course Mormons make up a small but decisive couple of percent in Arizona, which was balanced on the razor-edge before last weekend but now is turning…

ETA 10-14: Yesterday another, better poll came out which still shows Trump ahead in the state, but only by +6, which is still catastrophic for him compared to last week.
cahn: (Default)
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married… And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them… behold, Miriam became leprous… And the Lord said… let [Miriam] be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.

Numbers 12:1-14 (excerpts)

Scriptural exegesis and doctrinal discussion. Er, through fic. )
cahn: (Default)
My mom and dad recently moved, and they just brought me a bunch of my junk from their house. In the bottom of one of the boxes they brought I found… yes, indeed… the MacGyver fanfic I wrote as a young teenager (I must have been in ninth grade or so). It is… I'll just say, wow. It's a look into my teenage psyche that is a little horrifying, as these things are, and is also hilariously a record of what I was reading around that time.

It's a series: two ~40-page works, and a short story (10 pages).

The first fic contains the following things:

-a Mary Sue who is the smartest and bestest at everything and everyone is half in love with her
-on the other hand, she does not get the guy
-on the third hand, her sister does (in a not-even-slightly-disguised May-December relationship! What were you thinking, teen!me? Actually, I think I had just read Damia, is what happened)
-then the Mary Sue dies tragically but also super heroically

The sequel fic I barely remembered at all, so it was… umm… very interesting to read. In this fic and the short story is a time-traveling gigantic worldwide shadow plot/conspiracy, because those are the best conspiracies (I am rather pleased to find that this love, at least, has remained constant). …teen!me actually had a good point that Murdoc makes more sense as a time-traveling conspirator than as an assassin.

Other things I did not remember about this sequel fic:

-a multigenerational and also crossover MacGyver family tree (in pencil) that manages to work in Sherlock Holmes as an ancestor of MacGyver and Spock as a descendant

-an explanation to how MacGyver (and other characters like Spock) manage never to get shot, etc.: they have genetically-transmitted luck

-a whole lot of vaguely unhappy marriages due to the genetically-transmitted luck trying to propagate itself (yes, I'd also read Dune around this time)

-characters who are named after all my favorite names in Patricia Kennealy's hilariously OTT crackfic "Keltic" books, which I was reaaally into at the time (I love them! But they are Arthurian crackfic!)

-MacGyver dies tragically (teen!me was really into angst)

-MacGyver's daughter, Aeron, is the heroine; she is named after and is very much like one of the heroines in the Kennealy books, down to having an angsty revenge plot after MacGyver's death

-Aeron and her friends have psychic powers, because of course they do (I had clearly also just read the Anne McCaffrey Pegasus books, and also the Judith Tarr historical fantasies)

-Aeron INVENTS STARFLIGHT, because she is that sort of character (Zefram Cochrane is her pseudonym) (this was of course before First Contact)

-Then Aeron might have turned into a dolphin?? (it was, of course, one of those ~edgy ambiguous~ endings where her body's never found but there's this seemingly sentient dolphin that hangs out with her family etc etc.)

-a lot of quotations/dialogue/scenes lifted wholesale from whatever I was reading at the time, in best Cassandra Claire style; in addition to the previous works, I spotted Ender's Game and various John M. Ford works, as well as a couple which I couldn't place but know came from somewhere else...

In conclusion, I really want to pat teen!me on the head.
cahn: (Default)
btw, over at [community profile] vorkosigan they're doing a Bujold reread. This week is Mountains of Mourning.


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