[syndicated profile] shadesofa_feed

Posted by Tab

Getting the reds right for the wax takes me a while for these pages- I’m glad I’m using real stuff as it would look a little *too* much like blood otherwise. Today I spent an extra hour making that top right panel look right, hope you enjoy!

(no subject)

Jun. 25th, 2017 02:15 pm
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
[personal profile] skygiants
I have never read Dhalgren or indeed any Samuel R. Delaney. However, as of yesterday I have at least had a Dhalgren Experience, thanks to [personal profile] aamcnamara, who turned up a local theatrical-dance-music-light-'architectural puppetry' performance of something called Dhalgren: Sunrise this weekend.

Dhalgren: Sunrise is comprised of bits of text from what I assume is Dhalgren the book, accompanied by dance, light, and music, almost all of it improvised. Also, some of the music was performed on imaginary instruments. "That must be a theremin!" I thought brightly to myself on seeing one of the instruments, mostly because I don't know what a theremin looks like and therefore I assume that any instrument I don't recognize is a theremin. But it turns out it was not a theremin, because there was a credit in the program for 'invented instruments,' though I don't know whether the one I saw was the Diddly Bow, the Bass Llamelophone, or the Autospring.

Anyway, so my new understanding of Dhalgren is that it is about a city in which Weird, Fraught and Inexplicable Things Are Happening. This is not a very thorough understanding, but it's still more of an understanding than I had before. The show is composed of seven scene-vignettes:

Prelude: A brief reading of [what I assume to be] the book's introduction.

Orchid: Three women dance on a bridge and a man acquires a prosthetic hand-weapon-implement. The director at the end gave special thanks to the dude who made it, understandably so, because it very effectively exuded Aura of Sinister!

Scorpions: Gang members dance and fight in front of a building? Alien gang members? Just aliens? Anyway, some entities wrapped in glowing lights have a dance fight in front of a building; the text is from the point of view of a worried inhabitant of the building who Has Concerns.

Moons: The moon has a new secondary moon friend named George. The dancing in this section was one of my favorite bits -- the Moon did some amazing things with her light-strung hula hoop. [personal profile] aamcnamara pointed out later that the narration in this bit, which featured a wry and dubious radio announcer, seemed like a perhaps-intentional echo of Welcome to Night Vale. I have never actually listened to Welcome to Night Vale, but from my cultural osmosis knowledge this seems about right.

Fire: The light show took front and center in this bit about everything being on fire and also, simultaneously, not on fire. The maintenance man doing the narration is very plaintive about all of this. There may also have been dancing in this bit but I don't remember what anyone was doing.

Sex: The guy with the sinister prosthesis has an intimate encounter with two other people inside a blanket fort. I always like the blanket-fort method of showing sex onstage, it hints appropriately while allowing actors not to have to do anything they're uncomfortable with. At some point in this process the sinister prosthesis is removed for the first time, which I expect symbolizes something about human connection.

Sunrise: The characters who have previously just had sex emerge from the building and now seem to have a difference of opinion about whether the sunrise is just normal, or whether the earth is actually falling into the sun. Eventually all the characters are onstage being distressed, along with the music and the lighting -- again, really cool light effects here, especially the final overwhelming projection of light followed by and darkness.

It's a one-hour show without intermission, which we all agreed afterwards was for the best; the deeply weird mood and atmosphere would have been difficult to slip back into if one could get up in the middle to go to the bathroom. For those of you who have actually read Dhalgren, I will leave you with [personal profile] aamcnamara's sum-up: "It was a strange experience, but honestly could have been stranger."

(no subject)

Jun. 24th, 2017 05:08 pm
skygiants: Jadzia Dax lounging expansively by a big space window (daxanova)
[personal profile] skygiants
Our adventures with Star Wars: The Clone Wars continue! Though, alas, those of many of our clone buddies do not.

Episodes 11-20 of Season 1 under the cut )
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Pursuing political ladies, continued: with shoutout to [profile] gothickess

Another day nose-down in the Wallace papers, surrounded by that typical local record office buzz of family historians, clattering microfilm readers, etc. How very different from the rather sinister solitary sepulchral hush of the Mulcaster Muniments and its soft-footed and decrepit curator, straight out of a gothic novel (I was in constant anxiety that the strain of fetching files would do for him, probably on the wrong side of the door, leaving me locked in: no wifi, no phone signal).

Today’s box turned out to be pure gold: those copies of The Intelligencer in which Susannah Wallace’s political journalism appeared – marked up and annotated in Sir Barton’s hand with comments about his ‘clever wife’: Awwwwww, ded of kewt or what?

Furiously snapped away at these for future perusal in detail, but got distracted by the other contents of the paper: surely there must be historians who would be fascinated by ‘Sheba’s’ fashion tips? And, the fiction!

Particular shout-out here to [profile] gothickess: There is a serial ‘The Silent Simulacrum’ by ‘the author of The Gypsy’s Curse’ that I’m pretty sure you’ll be interested in for your project: intriguing conflation of the gothic, social comedy and feminist critique.

Alas, the final episode must have appeared in an issue to which Susannah did not contribute, so I can’t tell you how it ends, but, the story so far:

Our heroine is a lovely young widow so widely accepted in Society that she finds herself overwhelmed with invitations to the extent that she is in considerable concern that her inability to be in two places at once will give offence to those holding social occasions that she is physically unable to attend.

Enter her brother-in-law, a mad scientist and inventor. She unburdens herself to him, and he proposes to make a simulacrum of her that she can send to those events that she herself cannot attend. But, says he, the problem is that although he confides that he can construct a simulacrum that will move, and even dance, he cannot see any way in which it might be made to speak.

Our heroine responds with a laugh that so long as it can look very intent at any that addresses it, she doubts any will notice.

The simulacrum is constructed, and indeed, no-one notices that it is not very conversational when it goes into society.

Our heroine sends it particularly to those occasions where her very unwanted, most objectionable, suitor will be present –

I suspect that there will be some horrid outcome involving him (castrated perhaps by the inner mechanism of the simulacrum when he endeavours a rape?), but this would need following up – have a nasty feeling that this would involve microfilm, don’t think The Intelligencer is yet available in any online databases. (Which was why I was massively chuffed to find these copies, even if they hadn’t been so usefully marked up.)

But, anyway, back to the correspondence files (Y O Y did they not date letters properly? ‘Tuesday’ is really not very helpful.)

festathons

Jun. 22nd, 2017 02:42 pm
isis: (fangirls)
[personal profile] isis
First off, signups for the 2017 Multifandom Drabble Exchange are closing tomorrow. This is a small low-pressure exchange, and it was a lot of fun last year when it was on Imzy.

Second, Night on Fic Mountain is live! My gift is Witcher fanart, a scene of Ciri getting the better of Geralt in a wrestling bout as Yennefer sips wine and looks on, amused:

Tap Out (0 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Wiedźmin | The Witcher (Video Game)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon & Geralt z Rivii | Geralt of Rivia
Characters: Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, Geralt z Rivii | Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer z Vengerbergu | Yennefer of Vengerberg
Additional Tags: he was definitely asking for it, Fanart, tag yourself i'm the one with the wine
Summary: All educators anticipate that glorious moment when the student surpasses the teacher.

The artist obviously paid attention to my general list of art likes, incorporating interesting perspective and background scenery detail, and it's just a fabulous piece overall, really, just beautiful, and you don't need to know the fandom to appreciate it as art, so go admire it!

Actually, there's a lot of nice art in this collection. I particularly like Clouds and Skie (Dragonlance, which I'm not familar with but there is a DRAGON!) and A Slothful Interlude (Master and Commander, which is a fandom I love, and there is a SLOTH!) but if you sort the collection works page by length and start at the shortest, you'll find all of them.

And there's some great fic, too. Some recs from my reading so far:

The Road To Anywhere But Here (3323 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: The Road to El Dorado (2000)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Chel/Miguel/Tulio
Characters: Chel (Road to El Dorado), Miguel (Road to El Dorado), Tulio (Road to El Dorado), Altivo (Road to El Dorado)
Additional Tags: Post-Canon
Summary: These shoes weren't made for walking.

Ahahaha this is hilarious. The character voices are perfection and the plot is simultaneously plausible (in-universe) and completely goofy.

War-Chants (1088 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Ancient History RPF
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Hannibal Barca, Scipio Africanus
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Eurovision Song Contest, Crack
Summary: [edited]Two frenemies talk trash over chat about the most important event of the premodern world: EUROVISION!!!

This is crack of the most delicious sort! I giggled mightily throughout, particularly at the historical references twisted into dudebro chat.

Why Darwin Discovered Evolution (1114 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jack Aubrey & Stephen Maturin
Characters: Jack Aubrey, Stephen Maturin
Additional Tags: London, Evolution, Moths, Night On Fic Mountain 2017, Night on Fic Mountain 2017 Treat
Summary: [edited] 1815: Napoleon surrenders, and is exiled to St Helena. The British Navy, after seventeen years of war, retires ships, crews and captains. John Barrow, Second Secretary to the Admiralty, begins a programme of exploration which will last until 1845 and will include, in 1835, Charles Darwin's five year voyage of discovery in the Beagle. // In England, Jack Aubrey languishes on the Captains’ List, and Stephen Maturin chases moths.

This is lovely. The language is so perfectly canonical, as are poor Stephen's warring impulses, between that of his calling as a naturalist and the calling of his truest friend.

City of Futures (4558 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: The Divine Cities Series - Robert Jackson Bennett
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Turyin Mulaghesh, Tatyana Komayd
Additional Tags: Post-City of Miracles, the effect of legacies, poorly-expressed grief, bad life choices
Summary: [edited] The most curious miracle of all was that of briefly-miraculous events centered around Ashara Komayd, former Prime Minister to Saypur. // Though, of course, there was a lot more to it than that.

I beta-read this, so I'm biased, but I love Mulaghesh, and she's at her delightfully cranky, profane, investigative best here.

(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 05:41 pm
marina: (scifi janelle)
[personal profile] marina
Life is good right now, and I want to record that, before I probably lose my apartment in the next few months, as I do every year for the past 5 years. Probably in some spectacular last minute clusterfuck, as has happened in 2 out of those 5 years.

Anyway, I'm still reading Ninefox Gambit and enjoying it a lot. My health is better. Not "healthy person" better, but definitely better than it's been in say, two years. I'm going to London soon, which is so, so exciting.

The thesis has been... awful, but awful in the usual academic-grind sort of way.

This morning my maternal grandmother's youngest sister died. I couldn't make it to the funeral, but weekend plans (mostly thesis plans) will have to be altered to go grieve with family. Her granddaughter just got married a few weeks ago.

I'm sad, even though I didn't spend a lot of time with her in recent years, since my grandparents died and we stopped celebrating their birthdays and anniversaries as big family events.

My grandmother was 12 when she and her sisters and her mom and her grandma and two of her female cousins were all living in a Nazi concentration camp. This sister, the youngest, remembers that time the least, but she was old enough then to help with the missions, where their mom would send them out in pairs to try and escape the camp illegally and get food and supplies in the nearby village.

Every outing meant risk of capture and death, so the girls always went in pairs with a cousin, not a sister. My great-grandmother wanted to ensure that she could never be blamed for putting her own children ahead of her nieces.

Anyway, it's a sad day. My own grandmother in New York just got out of a 3 month stay at the hospital, and I'm grappling with the fact that it's very likely I'll never see her again.

The sun is shining, and there are flowers outside, and I still have a bed and a kitchen and a closet that are entirely my own. I suppose that's something.

(no subject)

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:36 pm
skygiants: Drosselmeyer's old pages from Princess Tutu, with text 'rocks fall, everyone dies, the end' (endings are heartless)
[personal profile] skygiants
I recently reread Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death. It remains an onslaught of a book, although being somewhat braced for the barrage of ANGER INJUSTICE GENOCIDE GONNA DESTROY A WHOLE CITY NOW does allow a little more time to, uh, stop and appreciate the occasional non-fraught thing that happens along the way? Onyesonwu makes friends with a camel at one point! That's nice!

(...for the record, my review from 2010 seems to indicate that at the time I understood and appreciated what happened at the end. Well, good job, past self, because my present self has no idea. Spoilers ))

Anyway! Rereading Who Fears Death got me thinking about the kind of books that are constructed around an ancient lore or a knowledge of the world that turns out to be fundamentally wrong, cultures constructed around poisoned lies. The Fifth Season is the other immediate example that springs to mind of a book like this -- not that there aren't other parallels between The Fifth Season and Who Fears Death. It seems to me that I ought to be able to think of more, but since I can't I'm sure you guys can.

When I mentioned this to [personal profile] genarti, she immediately said "YA dystopia! Fallout!" and that's true, a lot of dystopias are built around a Fundamentally Flawed Premise that has been imposed upon the innocent population by a dictatorial government. Those feel a little different to me, though, maybe just because that sort of dystopia very clearly grows out of our own world. We know from the beginning how to judge truth and lies, we're WAY AHEAD of our naive heroine who believes the color blue is evil because the government put an inexplicable ban on it. But Who Fears Death, while it may be set in our future, is in a future so distant from our own that there's no particular tracing back from it, and The Fifth Season is another world altogether, and we don't have any home court advantage over the protagonists as they figure out where the lies are except a belief that something that poisonous has to be wrong; maybe that's the difference.

wednesday reads 'n things

Jun. 21st, 2017 03:25 pm
isis: (head)
[personal profile] isis
What I've recently finished reading:

Text: The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley, which I read in e-ARC from NetGalley. Natasha Pulley's second book has a lot in common with her first, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street: luminous, evocative writing that never obscures the narrative; a slow, gentle unfolding of story; two men with a significant age difference, from different cultures, carefully building a relationship; fantastical elements subtly woven into the fabric of the world. And Keita Mori makes an appearance in this book, which is awesome, though otherwise these books entirely stand alone.Cut for length, no real spoilers. )

Audio: Freakling by Lana Krumwiede, which I got via the Sync summer series of audiobooks for teens. The story of a community of telekinetics whose telekinesis is so entrenched that they literally cannot feed or dress themselves without the use of their "psi" - and to whom people without this power are both figuratively and literally powerless. This is really not YA but middle-grade, and I found myself wishing it had been aimed at a more sophisticated audience if only for the possibility of deeper exploration of its important themes. That said, it's still a solid dystopian novel along the lines of The Giver, in which a character discovers the flawed foundations of his societal structures.Cut for length, no real spoilers. )

What I'm reading now:

Text: Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb, the conclusion of the extremely long Realms of the Elderlings series. So far I'm enjoying it, though I've apparently forgotten a lot of what took place previously, oops. I'm particularly liking how the pronouns Fitz uses in his internal narrative for the Fool (who is currently presenting as female) change even within a paragraph, as he changes his focus from what others are seeing to what he personally feels and knows.

Audio: Beast by Donna Jo Napoli, another Sync audiobook. This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, from the male POV, set in medieval-ish Islamic Persia. (It's not clear exactly when - the blurb says 'ancient times' - but of course Islam didn't exist in what I consider to be ancient times, so I'm calling it medieval.) I'm not very far into it yet; it's okay, but I'm a little nervous about the treatment of women so far.

What I'm reading next:

I am going to have to pick something off my vast ebook collection, because we're going backpacking this weekend, and I'm NOT carrying that huge brick. Also, argh, my hold on Thick as Thieves came up, but I think I'll defer it for a while.

What I've recently finished watching:

Last night we saw the thrilling conclusion of S2 of The Man in the High Castle. Rock solid, I have to say. I'm really pleased that the alternate-worlds aspect is a strong part of the plot, because that's a trope I adore. Apparently there will be an S3, and I'm looking forward to it.

What I'm watching next:

Winter is coming! (Hey, it's the summer solstice, so by definition, it is!) Looking forward to it. I'd also like to watch S2 of The Expanse. And I need to see Wonder Woman before it vanishes!

Adventures Elsewhere — May 2017

Jun. 21st, 2017 06:21 pm
helloladies: Gray icon with a horseshoe open side facing down with pink text underneath that says Adventures Elsewhere (adventures elsewhere)
[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Adventures Elsewhere collects our reviews, guest posts, articles, and other content we've spread across the Internet recently! See what we've been up in our other projects. :D


Read more... )

The Steerswoman, by Rosemary Kirstein

Jun. 20th, 2017 09:08 pm
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
[personal profile] sophia_sol
I first heard a recommendation for this book a LONG time ago, so when I finally got my hands on a copy and started reading it, I had totally forgotten everything I'd been told of what to expect from this book.

So I found that what the book was actually about was rather unexpected for me. But in a good way!

Read more... )

And the final volume

Jun. 20th, 2017 06:54 pm
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

The collated version of Volume the Twelfth is now available to those who care to download it, thanks as ever to the good offices of [personal profile] clanwilliam.

Any expression of appreciation may be made here: PayPal, tho' 'tis ever possible that you may wish to save your pennies against the appearance of the edited and revised version.

aww

Jun. 20th, 2017 01:50 pm
glass_icarus: (hp: sbp squishy)
[personal profile] glass_icarus
Last night in my browsing for Poirot videos, I ended up finding and watching David Suchet's documentary on Being Poirot instead. :D It's actually quite warm-and-fuzzies inducing, if a bit spoilery on various plot points for various stories. David Suchet talks about figuring out Poirot's character, method acting, sets, his other film references, Agatha Christie herself, international audiences, etc. If you're an Agatha Christie fan and haven't already seen it, I think it's quite worth it!

So, about Jingrui

Jun. 20th, 2017 05:44 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
And here’s where I run into problems with anything that moves Jingrui’s relationships to somewhere they are not currently: Jingrui takes things at face value. He’s not dumb or unsophisticated; on the contrary, he observes quite accurately that, for example, Su Zhe does not particularly like (or suit) working for Prince Yu. But it’s Yujin, not Jingrui, who spots that maybe Su /isn’t/. Jingrui is trusting to an alarming extent, considering his family.

This suggests to me that both sides of his family, and in fact everyone else of his acquaintance, have deliberately kept him out of Serious Business concerns, and have probably done so from day one. It further suggests that, despite that, he’s gotten regular confirmation that he’s valued and loved. Watching the way he interacts with everyone except the Marquis, even while things are falling apart and blowing up, I think we can bet on this–there’s been a feedback loop there, his whole life, in which Jingrui is open hearted and is therefore cherished by his family, and therefore keeps being open hearted and trusting, and is therefore sheltered, and so on.

Which means that Jingrui probably also has a tendency to go with the flow and trust that everything will turn out, until or unless he’s whacked over the head with something that is clearly Wrong in some way. (Jingrui inspires me to use capitals, too.) So shifting his relationship with Yujin, especially if we assume Yujin has been taking some trouble to be a bit misdirecting thanks to his fear to screwing things up, is… going to take some work, let’s put it that way.

I do find it interesting that Jingrui apparently idolized Lin Shu (at least, Yujin says he was the one always running after Lin Shu, and dragging Yujin along), and keeps idolizing him, even in disguise. Jingrui might not /do/ the incisive insight thing, but he does seem to /respect/ it, very highly. (One possibility here: that he notices this characteristic as it comes out more strongly in Yujin.) I suspect part of Jingrui’s youthful cousin-crush was also that Lin Shu was already in the military. Jingrui gets the warrior thing from both sides of his family, both the in-system and out-system versions. I suspect the military is genuinely Jingrui’s career goal, insofar as he has one; the camaraderie of soldiers, as presented in the story, seems very like what Jingrui values in his relationships, and it’s what he’s been raised to. (Alternate possibility: Jingrui and Yujin’s squads can’t take the pining any longer and set them up.)

So, if Yujin is currently Prince Ji’s understudy, I kind of think Jingrui is Meng’s. The trick will be moving them both toward a little conjoint personal development when both characters have so much inertia built up in their current positions.

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Outsourcing

Jun. 20th, 2017 10:24 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Returning to the business of self-publishing these memoirs both in pretty bound volumes and as ebooks -

- yr amanuensis was looking over the Smashwords and Lulu sites yestere'en.

And thinking that there would be a fair amount of faff involved, and then noticing that Lulu (I may not have got that far with Smashwords) offers a package deal for doing the formatting &C, and that I am coming into a little legacy shortly -

But then thought, surely there are talented and competent people among my readers or their associates who would be prepared to undertake this for a fair price?

(It is the business of the wealthy man/To give employment to the artisan.)

I still have some final editorial touches to make to the Word documents, but if anyone is interested in this, or can recommend someone, please speak comment or DM me now.

I also revisit the matter of covers and whether there are any among the readership of artistick ability, or knows of any such, who would be interested in undertaking cover design for appropriate remuneration?

My latest thoughts on titles and covers )

About Yujin

Jun. 19th, 2017 05:44 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
The latest story is stalled in the way that usually means there’s something about these characters that I don’t know yet, so let’s think out loud for a bit about Yujin. (It may be Jingrui, but we’ll start with Yujin.)

The first thing that comes to mind is that Yujin is seriously Prince Ji’s understudy, which in turn suggests immediately that Yujin’s sunny smile is a bit of a front. This is not actually surprising, given that Yujin’s family life kind of shafted him. He’s the son of a woman his father didn’t love, and has been pretty roundly ignored by his father all his life. No matter how well-adjusted a kid is, that leaves a mark. I also note that Yujin is the one who says Lin Shu was impatient with the younger kids and not fun to be around, and that Jingrui was the one who dragged them both after Lin Shu all the time. Yujin preferred Prince Qi.

Now that’s interesting. Because Yujin is clearly reasonably smart, and very observant; he follows along with all the complicated plans easily. But he preferred the significantly older Prince Qi to the brilliant and older but still part of his own generation Lin Shu. So, yeah, I’m checking the box for “dad issues” here, and running on the supposition that Yujin has basically been hungry for any kind of father figure (which probably also ties into his friendship with Prince Ji).

And I have to wonder whether Yujin’s social-butterfly mode isn’t a way of reassuring himself that, whatever’s wrong with him (because of course he thinks there’s something wrong with him) it can’t be /too/ bad, right? You can see hints of this anxiety in what he says when he comes to thank MCS for fixing his family–thanking him for /allowing Yujin to be properly filial, which he’s been failing to do/. Of course Yujin frames this as all his fault, and I don’t think that’s purely down to cultural convention.

Yujin is a very accomplished fighter (in the top ten of the tournament, survives the attack on the spring hunt) and quite willing to follow Jingrui around the pugilist world, but he has no contacts of his own there. He also isn’t the understudy of any of the military types, so I’m guessing that the military was never an ambition of his. Instead, he’s following as closely as possible in his family’s diplomatic footsteps (put another check in “dad issues” I’m thinking) which may, therefore, be both his hope and his interest. He’s definitely the one who reads people best, identifying right away when someone is having a one on one and dragging Jingrui away, setting up Prince Ji to witness Wei’s escape, etc.

Interpersonally… well, here’s where he gets slippery. Because Yujin seems to have no personal friends or connections besides Jingrui. He’s cut off from his family, for most of the series, and his social activities center, not to put too fine a point on it, among paid companions. He’s socially adept, but I’m guessing that he’s going to have some problems with any kind of mid-range relationships (not father or Jingrui but not courtesans either). And if there’s the slightest hint that something he does might injure his relationship with his father or Jingrui, he’s almost certainly going to strike that off the menu of options rather than risk it.

…which suggests that it’s /Jingrui/ who’s going to have to make the first move, oh god. Because Yujin will /never risk it/. That’s it, right there. *headdesk* Oh, this’ll be such a pain. Okay, need to think about Jingrui next.

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(no subject)

Jun. 19th, 2017 09:12 am
skygiants: Jadzia Dax lounging expansively by a big space window (daxanova)
[personal profile] skygiants
I knew I probably should have written up A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet before I read the sequel, because I loved A Closed and Common Orbit SO MUCH that now there is no way I can do justice to the first book.

I mean, A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is certainly a lot of fun! It feels a bit more like a season of television than a novel -- very much out of that genre of beloved, relatively lighthearted crew-is-family space TV, full of aliens and semi-incidental interstellar politics, with approximately one episode dedicated to each crew member's interesting alien culture or surprise dramatic backstory as well as episodes where Everyone Just Goes On A Shopping Trip. There is a Noble Captain, a Friendly Polyamorous Lizard Alien Second-in-Command, an Earnest Financial Assistant, a Manic Mechanic, a Caring Chef Who Feeds Other Species To Compensate For The Embarrassing Genocidal Tendencies Of His Own -- ok, some of the archetypes are more archetypal than others. In the dramatic season finale, our plucky band of space truckers reaches their long-haul destination at last and becomes involved in a major diplomatic incident, the outcome of which is the one thing in the book that rubbed me slightly the wrong way ) Anyway, if you like this sort of thing, you will almost certainly like this particular thing.

I like this sort of thing all right but the things A Closed and Common Orbit is doing appeal to my id MUCH more. A Closed and Common Orbit focuses on two characters who appear relatively briefly in A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet: Sidra, an AI who, due to compelling personal circumstances but counter to interstellar law, has been installed in a designed-to-be-instinguishable-from-human artificial body; and Pepper, the mechanic who has volunteered to take on responsibility for her.

The main present-day thread of the story involves Sidra's attempts to figure out whether she can comfortably inhabit a body that she was never designed to inhabit - not just whether she can live permanently as something like an independent intelligent biological life-form without giving herself away, but whether she wants to do so. The plot is mostly comprised of small slice-of-life events like Sidra Makes A New Friend or Sidra Considers Getting A Tattoo, all interwoven into a really compelling and thoughtful examination of artificial intelligence, self-determination, and free will.

The other half the book delves into Pepper's backstory as an artificially created human being, designed to be cheap disposable labor. As a child, "Jane 23" mostly-accidentally escapes the factory where she labors, and is subsequently raised by an abandoned ship's AI in a junkyard. The backstory plot does a couple of things: a.) serves as an excellent example of the always-compellingly-readable 'half-feral child must make home in dangerous environment, survives with ingenuity and a box of scraps' genre; b.) works in dialogue with Sidra's main plotline to complicate ideas of 'human' and 'artificial' and 'purpose' and 'free will'; c.) gives me FIVE MILLION FEELINGS ABOUT AI MOMS WHO LOVE YOU. Sometimes a family is an AI mom, her genetically engineered daughter, the daughter's boyfriend, their AI roommate, and the roommate's alien friend who honestly didn't even particularly want to be there that day! AND THAT'S BEAUTIFUL.
[syndicated profile] shadesofa_feed

Posted by Tab

Just DO IT

I like how this entire scene is being led by James. Some people scoff at people topping from the bottom but when it comes to things like this I think it’s extremely important that it’s the once receiving pain who gets to decide where it is and what level they’re going to. Safewords are great for stopping a scene and all but if you use your Realwords ™ during you can often stop things from getting to that point.

Fox update

Jun. 18th, 2017 04:33 pm
rushthatspeaks: (parenting)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
Fox has just turned eight months old.

They are mobile. Oh, so, so mobile. They move very, very fast. Also, they went straight from crawling to working extremely hard at being vertical. Behaviors we have observed include standing on their own for a couple of seconds without holding onto anything, standing indefinitely while holding on with one hand, cruising (holding onto a crib or other edge and walking along it), and-- and this shocked me-- holding onto the crib edge and jumping up and down. They can also move from seated to squatting to standing or vice versa, easily, usually while holding on with one hand. They are clearly going to be walking pretty soon. Apparently the youngest baby documented walking was six months old, so this is early but not ludicrous. It seems that usually babies take some time to settle into crawling and make sure they've gotten good at it before focusing effort on walking this way? Not Fox. Fox wants to be UP.

We have had our first major trip with the baby, which involved driving from Boston to the D.C. area, spending a week with B., and driving back. Fox was pretty much fine with all the driving and a little weirded out by the new place-- it took a couple of days for them to be able to nap there, for instance. At B.'s, they developed a very specific 'chasing-the-cat' noise, as B.'s place has many long straightaways and lines-of-sight where they could just take off after the kitty. (Our place does not.) They had no hope of catching her, and the kitty is already putting up with a Pomeranian and an elderly Border Collie, so she seemed thoroughly resigned. We appreciated her patience a great deal.

New behaviors: within the past week Fox has started getting upset when someone they know leaves the room. Leaving the room is Just Not Allowed. We try to explain to them where we are going, what we are doing, and when we expect to be back, but it is too early for this to help much.

Fox has started sitting for stretches of up to twenty minutes at a time with a single board book, turning the pages, looking at and poking the illustrations, and chewing on the corners. It is adorable. They also crawl under their bouncy seat with a pile of books every so often.

We have only just started solid food, because they got a nasty cold at the wrong time and we didn't want to try introducing solids while they were on an intrusive and aggravating nebulized-medicine-through-a-mask treatment. Rice cereal gave them significant stomach upset, which is peculiar; oat cereal and unsweetened applesauce seem to go down better, although Fox's reaction to solid food is shock, betrayal, and confusion no matter what the food is. They're at the stage where they'll eagerly watch us eating and put small pieces of food in their mouth, but once it's there the switch flips to NO NO NO NO NO. Hopefully this will change soon, as the doctor says that at this height and weight (two feet four inches, eighteen pounds) they simply cannot get all their necessary nutrition from formula.

I've seen evidence of the babble syllabary broadening, and about two days ago they learned how to flap their lips with a finger and say 'Phhhhpppth'. If they do this in your direction, you are supposed to do it back, and one can have very long conversations this way. We are also getting more communication along the lines of holding arms up to be picked up (or not; if we ask 'do you want to be picked up?' and don't get arms up we don't pick them up, since gesturing for yes is now consistent enough that that works), and we're getting things like pats on the face that are clearly affectionate. B.'s new partner T. taught Fox how to kiss people on the cheek and it seems to have actually stuck.

They are learning how to use their voice generally, and I have asked [personal profile] gaudior on several occasions if they are aware that they gave birth to a pterodactyl. The pterodactyl screech is loud and unmistakable.

They are still focused on people more than on anything else, and need to at least say hello to everyone in the room before even considering the presence of objects. Pets get about the same amount of interest as humans, and about the same degree of gentleness, which is usually gentle enough that they can pet pets without them fleeing for the hills-- at least for a while.

Overall, an exceptionally happy, outgoing, cheerful sort of baby, who is obviously working very hard at understanding and interacting with the world. I think things are going pretty well.

[Fic] Red Heart and White Sword

Jun. 18th, 2017 04:22 pm
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)
[personal profile] branchandroot

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, In Every Time and Season
Characters/Pairings: Cai Quan, Eunuch Gao, Gong Yu, Jingyan/Shu, Li Len, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Liu An, Mu Nihuang, Nihuang/Shu, Shen Zhui, Xia Dong, Xiao Jingyan, Xiao Xuan, Zhao Wei
Summary: Lin Shu and Nihuang settle into life at court, in the field, and in Jingyan's home while Lin Manor is repaired. The rest of the court may need a few stiff drinks to recover from the process, especially once a complex political scandal breaks in the middle of it.
Meta: Drama with Politics and Porn, I-4
Wordcount: 22852

Now Jingyan returned his gaze, steady and serious. "Even though you hoped to be done with being the strategist, after Prince Qi, my brother's, and Lin's and Chiyan's names were restored?"

For a long moment, he was silent, because that had been true. "I did finish with it, though," he said at last, slowly. "And I returned to my old self, my own world, long enough to die there. I thought that would be the end of it, and I still believe I was right about that. This," he swept a hand around, at the palace, at the ministers and officials and ladies moving through the halls and gardens, each intent on their own ends and ambitions, and the three of them in the middle of it all, "this is what comes after that end, another new life." He gave Jingyan a tiny smile. "Now, what I can do, all that I can do, is for you and with you, nothing held back. That's as it should be, and I have no wish to be done with it."

Red Heart and White Sword )

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