So anyway, then I went to meet Klepto at Starbucks. I wrote about 500 words in an hour and a half, and then decided to come home and take a nap because my brain was not cooperating. I slept for about 2 hours, then woke up and read the internet for a bit.
So, the Megatherium is enjoying 5 mornings of pre-school a week, but wants to go off & play with her friends afterwards, which would be great if she weren't inviting herself places or trying to invite everyone else here (including kids met 2 minutes ago at the library) without any concept of cleaning up first.
Pennsic was nice except for the thing where it rained here the whole time so the house molded & mice got into the silverware drawer & left their little mousy droppings all over everything and I am *still* finding things that are unexpectedly moused or molded, ugh. :( I am terrible about this kind of clean-up, too; it makes my brain hurt.
Grauwulf is less ill than previous (mostly), but came back from vacation to work Drama, part of which involves working from home at the dining room table a bunch, which doesn't help anyone, so ugh, things. He's also currently asleep on the couch next to me because the couch is the eternal sleeping place, I guess.
I started craftster swapping again over the summer to get random care packages in the mail that I didn't have to buy (& it's nice to have deadlines for getting into the craft room) and so far that's been fairly good. We're also working on a craft day in the newly set up "parent lounge" at school for during school time, but my e-mail is being stupid so of course I just ended up sending out the invite 4 times for reasons known only to my computer (& it's not telling.)
Finally bought Tansy Raynor Roberts's Musketeer Space (because bother e-books) & am enjoying her gender-swapped-except-Athos futuristic 3 Musketeers with spaceships. In the class of SF rendition of a classic where the world building makes the story work rather than the story pulling the world building into eye-rolling contortions. (well, some of the planet & station names are a little weird)
I think I want more low-stakes interesting speculative books about grown-ups, tho. Like, older than 20-something at least, if not older than me. Not dystopic, probably not modern world. Major female characters, limited number of POVs. Is this even a thing? Maybe I should just read Middlemarch like everyone else seems to be doing.
Also, did anyone else notice that apparently Rogue Embodied AIs is now a sub-genre? Are there more besides Ann Leckie, Becky Chalmers, & Martha Wells's Murderbot? (I'm not sure rogue is really quite the right word, tho.)
There are lots of good SF stories being written these days, printed in a wide range of places, and the first two editions of this collection have been full of really good ones.
I mention this now because the Kickstarter for the third edition has just opened. You can get e-books of the first two editions there as well as ebook and print copies of the third edition.
Review copy provided by Haikasoru Books.
This is one of the weirdest books I’ve read in a long time. The Bamboo, the creatures in it, are described as vampires, but they’re really more grass monsters who eat human carrion. They’re described as scary, but I’m not particularly scared by them so much as baffled by their strange, secretive, hierarchical laws. (For me, this is a feature, not a bug.) And on basically every other page, I’m left saying, “What? What?” (Again, a feature, not a bug.)
There are three sections varying widely in time, with different protagonists. Even within the sections, the timeline swings wildly, spending pages on a conversation translated lovingly to attempt to show what level of formality the Japanese conversation used (oh, a losing battle) and then going over forty years in a single line. I would say that it’s full of plot twists, but that sounds very linear, very straightforward, as though things are following one upon another with logic–it is full of plot twists the way the dream you are trying to remember from two nights ago is full of plot twists. “And then you what? Why? Okay.”
And then the grass monster reached the end of their life and exploded into flowers. What? Okay. No, different section, they ate someone who they thought was abusing a prostitute. What? Okay. If that’s not okay with you, you should probably move along, because that’s what there is here, a whole lot of angst and monsters and randomness, and some of you are saying, gosh, no thanks, and some of you are saying, sign me on up.
Please consider using our link to buy A Small Charred Face from Amazon.
Chaz Brenchley, Dust-Up at the Crater School Chapter 7. Kindle. Plotty, moving forward, full of dust storms and schoolgirl antics, as one would expect for this project.
George Eliot, Middlemarch. Kindle. And this is what happened to my early September. Middlemarch is surprising; it is delightful. It is one of the longest classics of English literature, and it is a joy to read. I kept thinking that I would want to leaven it with bits of something else, go off and take a break and read something in the middle of it. I didn’t. (I mean, I always have a book of short pieces going. But other than that.) While I was reading Middlemarch, I kept wanting to read Middlemarch, and when I was done reading it I wanted more of it. The only thing of its size that’s at all comparable in my attachment to it is John Sayles’s A Moment in the Sun, and that does not have the passionate following Middlemarch has–wherever I mentioned it I found that friends and strangers were ready to share my delight in this wandering intense chatty behemoth of a book. I’m discussing it with a friend who’s reading it with me. I’m not sure I have a lot to add for the general audience except to say, it’s funny, it’s intense, it’s gigantic emotionally as well as literally, it makes me want to read more George Eliot, it makes me want to read its giant self all over again. It is in some ways exactly what you would expect and in other ways nothing like what you’d expect. It is thoroughly itself. And oh, I love her, I love George Eliot so very much. I’m glad I read such a quotable thing when I was past the age of needing to strip-mine books for epigraphs. I can do that later. I’m glad I could just relax in and read this first time.
Masha Gessen, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. I enjoyed another of Gessen’s books and picked this up because the library had it, more or less on a whim. And it gave me a perspective on modern Russia that nothing else has, particularly on its criminal justice system. What the prison system is doing there, what trials are like, what sorts of things are prioritized, what and who counts, what and who does not. Enraging, illuminating. There are some things Gessen just takes for granted you will know about feminist art theory and punk, but I think it may still be interesting if you don’t? but even better if you do. Also, if you have a very strong high culture/low culture divide, read this book and have that nonsense knocked out of you. Not that I have an opinion about that.
Steve Inskeep, Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab. This is very much in the popular history category: short chapters, many things explained on a fairly straightforward level. Not a lot of delving deep into the obscure corners. However, Inskeep does a fairly good job of switching back and forth between the lens of the European settlers turned recent Americans and the lens of the cultures of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, and especially Cherokee people in the region he was discussing. One of the things that this particularly underscored for me is how quickly the European/American settlers viewed the land as traditionally theirs in that part of the south: the beginning of the Cherokee Trail of Tears was twenty-three years before the US Civil War. Even the earliest of the resettlements was only thirty years before. So in some parts of the Deep South, there were indeed plantations that had been going for generations–but in large, large swaths of it, the land they were fighting so hard for was land they had just taken from its previous owners basically five minutes ago. References to traditional way of life in that context are basically like talking about GameBoys and other hand-held gaming devices as our traditional way of life: they are bullshit. I think the way we are taught this period of history in American schooling encourages us not to think of that. I will want to read much deeper works on Andrew Jackson’s presidency. In this case I will say: Inskeep is not trying to paint him as a great guy or not a racist…and I still think he ends up going too easy on him. But it’s a good starter work for this period, I think.
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Language of the Night. Reread. The last time I read this was before I was keeping a book log, which means also before I was selling short stories regularly. I was a lot less prone to argue with assertions about fantasy not needing to compromise then. (Oh nonsense, of course it does.) But one of the things that makes Ursula LeGuin a great writer is that she argues with her past self, too. She evolves. She evolves in the course of this collection. And I think she’d be far happier with people thinking and arguing than uncritically absorbing anyway.
Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch. So…I didn’t mean to go straight from Middlemarch to a book about it, but the other thing I had from the library, I bounced off, and…I wasn’t ready to be done. This is Mead’s memoir entangled with a bit of biography of Eliot. There are places where Mead is bafflingly obtuse (some areas of gender politics and the writing of sexuality, notably, but also the difference between a character who is fully human and a character who is generally sympathetic), but in general it is short and rattles along satisfyingly and tells me things I want to know about George Eliot without telling me too many things I actively didn’t want to know about Rebecca Mead.
A. Merc Rustad, So You Want to Be a Robot. This is a solid and heart-wrenching collection. It’s impossible to pick one true favorite because there are so many good choices. Definitely highly recommended, Merc hits it out of the park here. And they’re just getting started.
Gerald Vizenor, Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles. This is when Vizenor was just getting started, and gosh I’m glad I didn’t get started with his early work, because…why, oh why, did so many men of the seventies–particularly men who wanted to claim they were ecologically minded without doing much about it–pick the same direction for their demonstrations of their own sexual daring? Well, Vizenor grew out of it. But it’s a one of those. The person who wrote the afterword was sure that objections to it would be because people thought Indians couldn’t be like that! and no, it’s that it’s trite, it’s exactly the kind of trite sexual objectification of women–especially Indian women–that you’d expect from “seventies dude trying to be sexually shocking.” He got better. I’m glad.
My Patreon is trucking along, but I haven’t been good about linking to it here. So have a list of recent posts!
This week’s post (sneak preview!) will be on rites of passage, followed by a bonus post on the theory of worldbuilding, since that’s one of the funding goals we’ve reached. Remember, this is all funded by my lovely, lovely patrons — and if you join their ranks, you get weekly photos, plus (at higher levels) opportunities to request post topics or get feedback on your own worldbuilding!
Judith has chicken, carrot sticks, dried mango, rice cakes, crisps, mini cinnamon rolls and jelly. Andreas has eggs, carrot sticks, dried mango, bread (plain), fruit winder, crisps and jelly. It'll do. (I've got sushi rice, eggs, chicken, mixed chopped veg and hummous, some mixed dried fruit and jelly.) We'll all drink water.
In other news we watched Toast, the autobiography of Nigel Slater, yesterday. It actually just covers the first half of the book, his childhood, and I was touched by how sympathetically it portrayed even the people he didn't really like, I'd recommend it whether or not you read the book.
 I had this great idea about the heptarchate's founding but.
NOTE: I make no guarantees.
What *existing* characters would you like to see more stories about?
mystery POV #1 from Revenant Gun that Yoon evilly refuses to divulge
servitor POV #2 from Revenant Gun
someone else that I will mention in comments
ticky the tookie tocky
This morning it was overcast and a bit cool, by this evening via mildly drizzly has become colder and wetter.
Nontheless, we have managed some flaneurserie around the Old Town, a visit to St Mary's Cathedral with its massive gothic altar, and several museums:
The temporary exhibition of 350 items from the The Princes Czartoryski Museum
All of which leaves me rather too overwhelmed to say much beyond: that's a hell of a lot of old scientific instruments/apothecary paraphernalia, and dealers across Europe must has seen the Czartoryskis coming, with their interest in associational historical items (I would guess scamsters moved into this after the decline in fake relics?).
There was also (v expensive) coffee taken in a very plush place with numerous historical associations.
Place is generally heaving with tourists and tour groups.
Here's more about the program. Women's Health Clinic Provides Free Abortion Care to Texas-based Hurricane Survivors
I've been continuing to pull back from engaging with daily news. I read whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com, as well as skimming the Shakesville news summaries, but don't delve into a lot of articles.
A friend's grandparents were bystanders to the Holocaust in Austria. Her parents taught her a strong anti-bystander ethic. My grandparents fled the Holocaust in Germany, and my parents taught me to stay alert to similar patterns. I don't want to be a bystander as others are harmed either.
I'm sitting with my limitations and privileges, my fragilities and strengths. I feel like my awareness, my donations, my support to others are not nearly enough. And, they are what I can do, what I am doing right now. As I reassure others, doing our own healing work reduces the harm in the world. Keeping our eyes open to the truth, and speaking it with others, reduces the effect of gaslighting in the world. It's going to have to be enough.
The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
It's available for free online here. A really affecting story. What made it for me where the small details, like the water buffalo wanting to wallow and jumping into the soy sauce.
What I’m Reading Now
The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
I really like Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, so I picked this up at a book flea market. I'm not very far in yet. I'm currently at the point where professor Challenger invites the protagonist back into his house after having bodily thrown him out a moment before. He's certainly a memorable character. I loved the interaction with his wife.
What I Plan to Read Next
Probably This Census-Taker by China Mieville since it needs to go back to the library soon.