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mrissa July 10 2014, 22:22

The Causal Angel, by Hannu Rajaniemi

Review copy provided by Tor.

This is the sequel to The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince, and I recommend that you start with them. You might be able to pick up what qupting is and what the gogols are and all the other elements of Rajaniemi’s world from context, but I think it would be pretty rough going, honestly; these are pretty idea-dense books to begin with, and it’s probably better to start with Jean le Flambeur at his own beginning.

I do find that sometimes I pick up a book and am reminded immediately of what was initially charming in the series, and this was one of those. Jean’s early interactions, trying to keep juggling a great many flaming torches to find Mieli and fix everything and keep a young Matjek happy, made me smile, went very quickly, made me want very much to keep reading. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the ending, and there was a Moomin along the way. (I can be bribed with Moomins. I can even be coaxed past a very brief and virtual zombie appearance with Moomins. Especially NOT SIMULTANEOUSLY.) But it was the beginning of the book that made me say: ah, yes. This is why I was happy to pick this series up and dive into it.

So: there is zooming around the solar system, there is forming and reforming oneself and one’s environment, there is working around what one thought one knew. There are reversals and betrayals and coming back for people and lots and lots of zoku jewels. There are iterations and considerations of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. It has, in short, the things that one has been looking for in one of these books. And if you haven’t been looking for one of these books, go back and start. They’re nerdy good fun, and they’re not very long. And now there are three of them.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

gwyneira July 10 2014, 21:32

commonplace book

In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness; we are each the uncompanioned hermit and recluse of an hour or a day; we understand our fellows of the cell to whatever age of history they may belong.

-- Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of Pointed Firs

This entry was originally posted at http://gwyneira.dreamwidth.org/227384.html. There are comment count unavailable comments on that post. Please comment here or there, your choice.
asakiyume July 10 2014, 19:21

Very reduced connectivity for the next few days

In a couple of hours I'm heading to my dad's house, and then on Friday I'm driving with him to Readercon (though, we will not arrive until quite late--in time for his panel, though). Since I have no laptop, I will likely not be posting or responding to comments until sometime on Monday.

I hope your next few days are bright and beautiful--or shady and cool, or thunderous and dramatic, depending on your own preference--and I'll catch up with everyone next week.

telophase July 10 2014, 18:29

Wordpress guys?

I'm using the Magazine Basic theme for this year's iteration of the ConDFW website, and there's one thing I'd like to do: have the sticky post and the first post beneath that on the home page supply the full content of that post, and the rest of them supply just excerpts. I figure I ought to be able to do this with an if...then statement, but (a) I don't know what I'm counting and (b) I don't know which file to put it in. (I think the answer to the latter is content.php, but given that you can change all the posts to excerpts or full-content from the admin area, I don't see where that plugs into content.php...)

Any ideas?

edit: I've answered (a), I think, by putting my own counter right before The Loop, and incrementing it right before The Loop loops, but (b) still eludes me, as editing content.php did absolutely nothing. Bah.

You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.
rachelmanija July 10 2014, 18:16

I declare Hurt-Comfort Day!

This is brought to you by yesterday's diagnosis of acute bronchitis. In retrospect, I probably should not have waited one month to go to the doctor. I kept thinking, "It is just lingering irritation from the flu! It will go away any day now!"

Yesterday my boss listened to me tragically cough my way through our weekly meeting for the fourth week in a row, and said, "GO TO A DOCTOR."

I now have two prescriptions, an inhaler, six canceled clients, one blessed co-worker taking over the meeting I was supposed to run today, and a week off work. The inhaler, which I had never used before, is great. I hadn't realized just how much trouble I was having breathing until suddenly I wasn't. (Don't worry. Apparently my oxygen saturation is fine. Also, I don't have pneumonia.) Anyway, I am staying home and resting as much as possible for the next week.

Please recommend or send to me anything in the following line:

1. Things which are comforting. If you're not actually going to send or link them, they should be things I won't need to go out in person and buy. (On the advice of LJ, I already have a humidifier.)

2. Media in which someone is comforted. If you have heard of hurt-comfort, that is what I mean. If not, media which prominently features stuff like someone with pneumonia, a gunshot wound, hypothermia, etc, being cuddled, fed soup, or the equivalent. Any genre! Fiction, fanfic, movies, etc.

3. Media in which someone feels worse than I do. Any recs for good survival stories, with people stumbling around Mt. Everest, Death Valley, adrift on a raft, etc? Fiction or nonfiction.

Crossposted to http://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/1151964.html. Comment here or there.
greygirlbeast July 10 2014, 16:22

"I twisted you over and under to take you. The coals went so wild as they swallowed the rest."

And, suddenly, it's not hot anymore. Today's high might reach 85˚F. The air through my office window is cool, and it's currently only 79˚F in Providence.

Late last night I learned that I've received three nominations for the 2014 World Fantasy Awards: Best Novella (Black Helicopters); Best Short Story ("The Prayer of Ninety Cats"); and Best Collection (The Ape's Wife and Other Stories). News like that makes going down to meet the dream monster a little bit easier.

Though it hadn't been the plan, yesterday's proofreading of "Far From Any Shore" led to some revision and expansion of a couple of scenes, so another entire work day was spent on the piece. So, today I'll do my best to get Sirenia Digest 101 out to subscribers.

Our "Pay For Hubero's Face" auctions continue, Round 2. Please have a look, and please bid if you see something you like. Thank you.

You know, that AM/FM transistor radio that my mother bought in 1973 with S&H Green Stamps never needed a single goddamn update, and it never needed a new operating system, and it lasted for over a decade. The television I bought in 1996 with one of my first good writing paychecks and which we only stopped using about three months ago, never needed an update, no OS swap, and it worked like a dream for eighteen years. Eighteen years! Never mind I've never once needed to update the copy of Watership Down I got when I was in eighth grade, in 1977. My copy of Savage Pellucidar, ca. 1974, I don't need a fancy, schmancy next-gen Schnook or Swindle to read it. Hell, my first computer, my beloved Pandora, a Mac Color Classic, worked just fine from 1993 to 2004 – when a mover bumped the box it was in and damaged it. That's eleven years without an update or a swap in the OS, and it only went in for repairs once, because the on/off switch broke. I'm using stereo speakers I bought in 1986, and then there's my completely functional 1941 Quiet Deluxe Royal typewriter – in tip-top shape.

But now, with the iPod, the iPad, my iMac, the Asus I game on, the PlayStation, all those streaming services we use through the new television, we have to face a constant, baffling barrage of updates and patches and glitches and bugs and the like. And if a computers that gets heavy use, as mine always do, lasts for four of five years, I'm lucky. We're on our fourth digital camera since 2004, because the things just wear the fuck out. Electronics are being built to need constant revision, and they're cheap junk built overseas to a) wear out quickly and b) be replaced by "better" models ASAP. Planned obsolescence has never been a third so pervasive and so profitable. Thank fuck we don't really do much with phones. My cell phone is years old, and it isn't the least bit smart, thank goodness. One of our two phones, we got it in 2006.

Sometimes, things truly were better before.

Fuck the updates.

Now, work.

Is It Live Or Is It
Aunt Beast (?)
asakiyume July 10 2014, 14:20

Today in Pen Pal, Em receives her first letter from Kaya

In her diary, Em writes

I got a letter! I got a letter today—it was in with a doctor bill and ads, a letter for me! And it came from a different country. The stamp has a picture of flowers and mountains.

Let's take a moment to appreciate airmail envelopes and lovely stamps:

airmail envelope

Source: here

datura on a stamp from Laos

Source: here

Indonesian stamp showing Tengger, site of four volcanoes

Source: here

And thinking of small post offices, and PO boxes . . .

postboxes in Maryland
postboxes in MD
Source: Going Postal blog

. . . took me to the Going Postal blog, described as "A photo journal of post offices and places." The blogger travels across America, documenting post offices large and small. Post offices are a little like libraries--special, wonderful places, so important for communities.

telophase July 10 2014, 14:14

No subject

I'm still watching the Brooks Falls Brown Bear & Salmon Cam and this morning I have seen two salmon leaping up the falls that the bear in the center of the pic has completely missed. :)

Ah-ha! As I was typing this, the bear caught one! And ate it in a few gulps, so I guess it was reasonably small. A gull noticed also, flew in, and landed in the water a little behind the bear, which looked like it was in the path of any bits that got away. Economical, I suppose. :)

You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.
rosefox July 10 2014, 06:36


Dear Boston friends: I'm sorry, but I won't be seeing you at those big annual parties anymore.

I do plan to make occasional trips to the Boston area, alone or with J and/or X, so if you'd like to get together one of those times (or suggest a particular weekend that would work well for you), let me know. I'll also see you at Readercon, and maybe one of these days I'll make it back to Arisia. And of course I'd love to hang out with you anytime you're in NYC.

This post is not a space for discussing recent events or the people involved with them. I'm leaving comments open solely for use in planning future travel.

You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.
jinian July 10 2014, 01:20

quick update

I am alive, just withdrawn! Feeling crummy much of the time due to digestive badness and icky soupy weather. However, recent highlights include:

- Weekend in Manhattan (racing friend, giant rocks in Central Park, HTTYD2 3D, "Seattle-style" teriyaki, the Jane Hotel, the High Line, boat tour: all A+ would trip again; bus AC going out for part of the ride: D-)

- Trip to UConn greenhouse to collect plant material for research (for which I awesomely sourced liquid nitrogen from a welding supply place when my university hookup was somehow completely out, and from which I brought home a new living plant friend as well as all the tissue samples I needed)

- Fine fireworks show and stunning lightning-and-rain storm as ably described by [personal profile] sovay

- Finished a quilt top, found and assembled a suitably interesting backing

- Reading All The Georgette Heyer with occasional dashes of Tamora Pierce

This entry was originally posted at http://jinian.dreamwidth.org/630413.html. Respond wherever you like.
boxofdelights July 9 2014, 22:54

pricking out

I had some space, and some leftover seed, so I seeded a fall crop of basil and two kinds of kale. The seed were two or more years old, so I seeded thickly. Now I have many kale seedlings and many many basil seedlings, waytooclosetogether. I should just thin them, but-- Think of what I could do with all that basil!

I could try to separate them and grow them all on. I could find more space. Pricking out seedlings is going to be a lot harder stooping over a bed than standing at a counter, and a lot lot harder when you're pulling the seedlings out of clayey soil instead of lovely loose seed starter, but-- I could at least try.

This is going to hurt.

This entry was originally posted at http://boxofdelights.dreamwidth.org/251499.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
shewhomust July 9 2014, 21:42

Drinking Phaedra

Time was, the two of us would see off a bottle of wine over dinner - not every night, but on those occasions when we opened a bottle, we would finish it. Now quite often we don't. It's not a problem, and drinking the same wine with different meals can be quite revealing. There are people who try to combat wine snobbery by telling you that it doesn't matter what wine you drink with which food, drink what you like. I'm not one of them: I enjoy the game of working out what will go with what, and while there are no absolute rules, some pairings work much better for me than others.

This particular sequence probably starts on Friday evening: anyway, it starts with a stew of lamb and courgettes and chick peas, and a bottle of red wine - and since it was the end of the week, and I felt like it, it was quite a big red (a Costiès de Nîmes, I think). Both were good, though there wasn't any particular synergy between them.

This left me with a glass or so in the bottom of the bottle - hard to tell, since it was old enough that there was likely to be quite a deposit. Most of it went into a risotto the next day, with radiccio and dried porcini mushrooms. It was a hot day, and I wasn't in the mood to drink a heavy red (though my default would probably be to drink more of what I've cooked with) - in fact, I was half minded not to serve wine at all, and just drink water (yes, we do this too): then I spotted a bottle of French rosé... Which was fine, not remarkable in itself, and went surprisingly well with the risotto. And equally, though less surprisingly, well with spicy chicken kebabs the next night. Except that there wasn't enough of it left, so we moved on to a different rosé.

This one was different all right. Scroll down to the rosés and it's the one on the left: Phaedra Xinomavro from Waitrose (this is the URL on the label, but I can't find Phaedra there: the label also explains that 'Phaedra' means 'bright', so put other associations out of your mind). It's a darker rosé than I would usually buy, as my Platonic ideal of a rosé is the classic Provence style, pale and dry and perfumed, rather than the modern version, dark and fruity (and probably too sweet). Phaedra, it turned out, was not over sweet, and it had a curious edge - in retrospect I compared it to retsina (it didn't taste resinated, but it gave the same clean finish to the wine). I'd probably have marked it down as an interesting experiment. But we were out on Monday, and I put together a quick dinner of tagliatelli (spelt tagliatelli!) and what's-in-the-fridge? sauce - onion, the other half of the radiccio, cream and gorgonzola, plus some walnuts - and it was wonderful with the other half of the bottle. That edge cut through the richness of the sauce, and the fruit had enough character to balance it. That Observer review says it has "the crunch and tang of cranberries" and I see what they mean.

Which goes to show...
asakiyume July 9 2014, 20:53

milkweed fibers

I keep trying to extract the fibers from milkweed. They can apparently be spun, much like flax, and are very strong and beautiful. I've seen some videos on how to process flax, and I'm trying to do similar with milkweed, but there are so many variables, and I have very crude, and somewhat inappropriate tools, so.

Here are last year's milkweed stalks, which I left outside all winter so they'd rot somewhat. This seemed easier (and less smelly) than retting (where you soak the stalks intensively in water to help separate the fibers), but I'm not sure they decayed quite enough.

last year's milkweed stalks

(Here are all the milkweed-pod coracles, which I am going to paint and launch as a grand flotilla. Maybe.)

milkweed pod boats

And here are the stalks after just a little pounding. You can see some silvery white fibers in the lower right corner, just beginning to show.

milkweed stalks

And here's the whole pile of milkweed stalks, after a great deal of pounding, but still not pounded enough for the next stage, probably. You can see more of the silvery fibers here and there, but still a heck of a lot of woody stalky stuff. I probably need to keep on pounding for a while more. After Readercon!

milkweed stalks, semi-bashed

sovay July 9 2014, 20:02

All my life might have been

1. After at least eight years of procrastinating, I finally made an icon of Ronald Colman as Sydney Carton in Jack Conway's A Tale of Two Cities (1935). I thought I would use this portrait, in which he is rather romantically shot despite being canonically disreputable for at least eighty-five percent of the story. I don't mean that I don't like it. I am fairly certain Colman is one of the few actors I like who was classically handsome, even if seeing him first as clean-shaven Carton confused me about his mustache for the rest of my life. He has nice lines and excellent eyebrows. But last night I found this one, which I had not seen before—nineweaving wondered if it was a makeup test—and it is at least eighty-five percent disreputable and I like it. I needed to talk about Dickens online. Also, it feels correct now that I've stopped being able to get to sleep any time before five in the morning and stay asleep for any perceptible length of time.

(At this juncture my husband interrupted to ask if my having a Ronald Colman icon meant he had to make one of Benita Hume. This is one of the reasons we're married.)

Among many things I have wondered about the 1935 Tale of Two Cities (my favorite version despite some striking infidelities to the text, one of which I'm about to describe), I never had any idea why it included an invented scene in which Lucie runs into Carton on her way to Christmas Eve services and invites him to church in the middle of his pub crawl. It's not as though the source material is low on Christianity, with the whole Resurrection and the Life business. Plus it got "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" stuck in my head for the next eighteen years.

The thing is, the scene works. It bridges the book-scenes between Carton's sardonic, drunken dinner with Darnay after the acquittal and his occasional entry to the Manettes' house in months thereafter while lending a little extratextual characterization to Elizabeth Allan's Lucie, who badly needs it. Her impulsive kindness and the grace with which she reads his slightly listing state and does not rebuke him for it (unlike Edna May Oliver's Miss Pross, who sums him up with the splendidly tart "I'd say merry Christmas to you, Mr. Carton, but it's plain to see that you've already had it") are as much incentive for him to accompany her out of his usual sphere as the "golden-haired doll"-looks he noted in the courtroom or the affection for Darnay he envied from the start. She is teasing him a little when she promises to light a candle for him, but she means it, too, and he's not entirely sure what to do with the gesture. When she invites him to the house afterward, it's not out of pity. There is real warmth in her voice when she tells him, touching his arm, "I'd love to have you as a friend—" and then hastily covers, "So would Father!" It's a bonding moment between them and an actual reason for Carton to fall in love with Lucie beyond her beauty and her cardboard catalogue of virtues and whatever it is she represents about a normal life that he preemptively rejects with the novel's anti-proposal (which does not appear, interestingly, in the film). I just wasn't sure why Christmas; if it was foreshadowing the themes of Easter redemption that accompany Carton's self-sacrifice or if it was just reassuring audiences of 1935 that there were good Christian values in the picture as well as the Reign of Terror and Carton drinking everything that wasn't nailed down.

Lo and behold, derspatchel 's theory about holiday timing turned out to be correct: it was a Christmas release. December 27, 1935. Marketing is interesting stuff.

2. Courtesy of handful_ofdust : have a lovely surrealist double portrait of Conrad Veidt and Lupe Vélez, as if he's dreaming her, or she's hiding in him. I love the way his right eye makes a coronet for her brow and she almost seems to be holding his right sleeve, but not quite. Their hands cross; they do not touch. 1928 was Veidt's first interlude in Hollywood; he returned to Germany by 1930, emigrating permanently to the UK (I don't believe he ever took American citizenship, though he died in Hollywood in 1943) only after 1933. Vélez is a rising star, racy, outspoken, exotic—the "Mexican Spitfire," later. She's one of the actresses I know by name and reputation only; I've never seen any of her films. She only outlived Veidt—who never acted with her, so far as I know; they meet only in Steichen's camera—by a year.

3. Funding for An Alphabet of Embers is nearly 50% on its second day. rose_lemberg has added a new reward level: personally written poetry. The really awesome news: someone claimed Atlakviða in grœnlenzca! Next year at Readercon, blood, revenge, and fire!

4. While I am encouraging people to donate money, I'll remind you that Stone Telling still has a Patreon and still needs about forty dollars per issue in order to be able to raise pay rates from $5 to $10. As one of the people who hopes to be paid further by Stone Telling, I support this charitable cause. Plus you get drawings and gluten-free cookies.

5. Right, and work of mine also features as a reward in the Interfictions Online Indiegogo. $50 gets you one of the last remaining copies of Chanteys for the Fisherangels a handbound chapbook collecting poems by me, seajules , asakiyume , and cucumberseed . All were inspired by Lal Waterson's "Midnight Feast," which some of you heard me sing at last Readercon's Miscellany. The accompanying photographs are by me, the binding and unique shell-and-feather decoration by Erzebet YellowBoy of Papaveria Press. Introduction by nineweaving , who heard Waterson in the wild. Somebody go for that! Art always needs more money than it's getting.

Readercon starts tomorrow. My schedule is here. This year should be interesting.
steepholm July 9 2014, 18:53

Anne in Japan

In more anime news, I've picked up R.O.D. - the TV again, being more in the mood for it now and for its rather expansive way of alternating "sentimental" episodes with action-packed ones. Mostly I'm impatient to get to the scenes set in England - these are imminent, I think - but there's plenty to enjoy along the way.

This is the second anime I've seen in which two girls bond over Anne of Green Gables (the first was Dance in the Vampire Bund). Does that book have a very high profile in Japan? Or is it a case of one series alluding to (or borrowing from) another? Being a little further along with my kanji now, I noticed from its cover that in Japanese the book was entitled not "Anne of Green Gables" but "赤毛 の アン" - which translates as "Red-Haired Anne". I can see why a reference to a fairly obscure architectural term might have been discarded, but it's an interesting alteration, I think, and one that brings to mind the student who lamented to me in Taiwan last December that although she had been to Hong Kong and South Korea, she longed to go further afield, to a country where not everyone's hair was black. "We all look alike!" she cried.

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