keffy: Selfie of Keffy wearing a crocheted frog hat. (Default)
[personal profile] keffy

I’ve been to (and peed at) a large number of science fiction and fantasy conventions in the past ten years (oh god, ten???).

I will say that there are two main reasons for “failures” on the part of conventions in this area. One is that society in general is extremely cis-binary, and thus, most hotels, convention centers, etc, are set up with a strict MALE/FEMALE toilet situation. The second is a combination of ignorance and not having thought about whether or not someone who is neither male nor female is going to need to take a piss at some point over a long weekend.

Besides the situation in which someone is not male or female, and thus neither room “fits,” there are also a lot of binary trans people who either don’t pass, or pass weirdly, or pass sometimes, or aren’t sure if they pass, or etc, who are made nervous by the notion of going into one room or the other.

I’m short, fat, and up until last May, had an extremely large chest that I tried unsuccessfully to flatten with binders — and oh, do I have a binder rant, but I’ll get to that later, and won’t be paid for it.

Anyway, even after three, five, seven… years on testosterone, it was questionable as to whether or not I would be perceived as male or female. I got a random smattering of he or she in public, even from people who had known me for years and should have known better. However, I almost never got a non-binary pronoun, since presumably anyone who knows the option exists to just not gender people if you don’t know, also are aware enough to know my pronouns. So, even when I didn’t bind, my hairline marked me as other, and even if my massive chest was clearly unbound and visible, I would still get Suspicious Eyes in women’s restrooms at times. Typically men’s rooms don’t involve making eye contact (that could make you GAY, I guess), but occasionally some cheerful cis man would explain to me where the women’s room was, since I was quite obviously lost.

Gender neutral restrooms would have been much more comfortable if they were available, but if they weren’t, I would frequently make the journey back to my hotel room to use the toilet, sometimes even if it was in a different hotel, if I didn’t feel like dealing with the potential awkward situation.

In any case, some conventions are coming on board with being more welcoming to non-binary people by making gender-neutral toilets available. Some. More would be nice. Add this to your to-do list, along with making sure that your harassment policy is on board, that you have guests who aren’t all white and male, or all white, or all male, and remembering to ask the hotel for fucking ramps for your motherfucking stages.

(Also, I just want to throw it out there that although I’m non-binary, I still use male pronouns and I am not the appointed leader of the non-binary contingent, so others may and will have their own opinions about this stuff.)

 

The naming of the names.

This is not an exhaustive list of the gender-neutral toilet situation at every science fiction convention. Nor is it exhaustive for the ones I’ve been to. Overwhelmingly, though, most of the conventions are in the first category.

Norwescon/Orycon/Most conventions I’ve attended: No public gender-neutral restrooms at all. If you’re not comfortable in either a MEN’s or WOMEN’s room, you better plan on running to your hotel room every time you have to go… which sucks if you’re cheap like me and stay in a different hotel altogether.

Worldcon 75(Helsinki): I did see a gender-neutral toilet. Unfortunately, the one that I saw also seemed to be an accessible toilet, by which I mean, the only accessible toilet? I think? I spoke to several non-binary people who were a bit uncomfortable taking up an accessible toilet, but I spent so much time not figuring out the layout of Messukeskus that I could be wrong, in which case, I apologize.

Wiscon: There is always a gender-neutral toilet on the second floor of the convention, which is not officially a public restroom, but is in one of the meeting rooms/hotel rooms that is rented by the convention. It’s centrally located… but really insufficient in quantity for the number of non-binary people who attend Wiscon. Good, solid effort, but we need more toilets.

Arisia: I attended Arisia for the first time in… uh…I think 2017? I honestly can’t remember if I went this year or last year, though I’m pretty sure it was this year. That just shows you how busy I’ve been. In any case, they solved the problem in the hotel by just labeling both rooms as gender-neutral. This worked fine. I never knew if I was going to end up walking past people using the urinals, but overall, it worked fine. Nobody spontaneously combusted.

I haven’t attended a convention that did this, but apparently at least one person has seen restrooms labeled “urinals” or “no urinals”, which is mostly a good plan, I guess, although I would prefer an explicit gender-neutral tag on the sign as well, otherwise I, personally, would get caught up in assuming cis biological essentialism and guessing that urinals = men’s room. (TFW you don’t agree with a cis-normative line of thought, but fall back on it frequently in a desperate attempt to guess what others are thinking.)

 

Thoughts and suggestions and whatever.

1.) Single-use rooms should always be non-gendered. Gendering these rooms is fucking stupid anyway, because what happens when there’s a line for the arbitrarily-marked women’s room? Cis women will just piss in the other room, anyway, in an attempt to shorten the line, which is only logical. Just. Come on.

2.) Single-use accessible restrooms should be non-gendered, because, hey! People who use wheelchairs come in all the genders of people who don’t. But, the single-use accessible restrooms should not be the only non-gendered restrooms.

3.) Assume that non-gendered restrooms will be used by more than one person. It’s really not just a theoretical exercise. Non-binary (or binary people who don’t “pass” and feel more comfortable not worrying about it) people do come to conventions.

4.) If at all possible, just make all the toilets non-gendered.

5.) Regardless of gender, I want everyone to just stop pissing on the floor, for fuck’s sake.

 

Pee.S.

Finally, if you must gender your fucking restrooms, (which is stupid), can everyone stop using cutesy-ass weird words to denote male and female? I DON’T KNOW, WHICH ROOM IS PRESUMABLY FOR MEN IF I HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A MOOSE AND AN ELK? IS THIS SOMETHING I WOULD KNOW IF I WAS CIS??? WHY DO YOU FUCKERS HAVE TO MAKE IT SO HARD.

Pee.Pee.S

People in Switzerland Want to Know Who Is Clogging Their Toilets With Wads of Cash

Originally published at Keffy. You can comment here or there.

Bees

Sep. 18th, 2017 06:54 pm
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
I was working away when the next door neighbor called, and said there were a zillion bees swarming around my pine tree on the patio. By the time I finished what I was typing, and went down to look out the kitchen window, I only saw four or five bees, and thought nothing of it.

Then, a few minutes ago, I took the dog out for a walk, and the neighbor came out, and said, look at the trunk of your pine. Whoa!

Here's from the side. click and embiggen, to see how far around the trunk they go.


Bees

And this below is from the sidewalk. Look in the upper portion of the trunk--that is a zillion bees tightly packed together.

Bees 2

That looks so . . . weird.

If they're still there in a couple of days, I'll have to find beekeepers to move them. My son's biological family on the female side has a deadly bee allergy running through them--his bio uncle has to carry an epipen everywhere, and my patio is about the size of two bedsheets put together. In fact, when I dry my laundry outside, I can only get one set of bedding out there at a time.

Meeting an actual hero and statesman

Sep. 18th, 2017 04:43 pm
asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
[personal profile] asakiyume
If you're going to meet an actual hero, a freedom fighter and former political prisoner who helped birth a new nation--that's YOU, Mr. Xanana Gusmão--you would do well not to be 45 minutes late. Alas, Google maps misled me about how long it would take me to drive from my house to the Pell Center, in Newport, Rhode Island, where Mr. Gusmão and a panel of distinguished experts were going to be talking about the future of Timor-Leste. And then I made a wrong turn at the very end and got lost. By the time I was driving down Bellevue Avenue, past RIDONCULOUS mansions, I was more than a half-hour late. But damn it! I did not drive all that way just to ... go home again.

Finally I found the place. A guy waiting in a bus kitted out like a trolley told me yes, this was it.

The talk was happening in a room with gilded Baroque-style accents.


Source

between entering and **the kiss** )

I hung back in the hallway, hoping to somehow say something, anything, to Xanana. I knew I wouldn't really ask him if he could shapeshift, or if he'd like to collaborate with me in writing a story based on this experience, and I didn't want to just gush that I was a fan, but I wanted to say **something**.

And I got my chance. He walked by and saw my expectant face and stopped and smiled at me. And I started blurting out that one small thing he'd done that made me admire him was get out and direct traffic one day in Dili, when there was a traffic jam. I think I said more presidents should do things like that. But before I got two words out, he had lifted my hand to his lips and kissed it, all the while looking at me with an expression of friendly affection.

I can see why people would die for him--or better yet, live and struggle for him. He was EVERY BIT as charismatic as I thought he would be, and then some.


source
keffy: Selfie of Keffy wearing a crocheted frog hat. (Default)
[personal profile] keffy

After several years of listening to self-professed science fiction fans and experts talk about what is and isn’t a part of the genre, I have come to an important conclusion. It turns out that even though I have read and written science fiction my entire life, none of what I have consumed is actually science fiction. Here are many of the reasons why:

 

It’s just a story about science/doing science

That science is impossible, therefore it’s fantasy.

The science is too realistic, therefore it’s not science fiction.

Any fantasy elements whatsoever exist in the story, therefore it is 100% fantasy, regardless of any SFnal elements.

If you removed the science fiction elements, it would be the same story!

It reifies the status quo!

It’s not progressive!

It’s too progressive!

I DISAGREE WITH THE POLITICS.

Someone put a different marketing category on it.

The author is well known in a different genre.

The author outsells my friends.

The story has elements of another genre, therefore it’s just a ____ story in space/after the apocalypse / in the future / with aliens.

The author is a woman and therefore it’s just a ____ story in space.

The author is a person of color, and therefore it’s just a ____ story in space.

The author is non-binary, but I don’t understand what that even means, and have considered them to be a woman, and therefore the story must be a romance or something set in space.

I think there were metaphors in it, so it was probably not science fiction.

The author works at a university and has an MFA, so it’s literary fiction.

It provides commentary on the present, rather than pretending to predict the future.

It’s not set in the future.

It’s not set far enough in the future.

It’s set too far into the future.

I don’t like the subgenre, so it’s not really science fiction.

 

With a little bit of thought, and a minimal amount of effort, I’m sure that you will realize that all your favorite, cherished science fiction novels are actually fantasy… or something else entirely. In any case, we should clearly realize that science fiction is, in itself, a myth. There is nothing contained within the genre. The set of Definitely Science Fiction Works is an empty set, and we can all go home now.

Originally published at Keffy. You can comment here or there.

Tea and Talk

Sep. 16th, 2017 07:26 pm
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
Though I deeply appreciate net connections (which constitute the majority of my social life, such as it is) it is good to have actual conversations with human beings in the same space time continuum.

Today, [personal profile] calimac is in Southern California, and so had a chance to come by for tea and scones. (Well, I had tea, and [personal profile] calimac had water.) We blabbed non-stop about reading, Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, classical music, the evolution of TV, the differences in short story and novel writing, and how to conduct an interview/ run a panel ([personal profile] calimac suggested this interview with Robin Williams and Stephen Fry), and the Mythopoeic Society, and then reminisced about stuff the younger generation has no concept of, except in movies: things you never think of, such as leaded gas, and the total lack of recycling of the sixties, party lines, how horribly expensive it was to make long-distance calls (especially in the days when families had a single phone), etc.

We didn't just blab about old people stuff. We also talked about how awesome YouTube is, especially for musical discoveries. I have so many saved links, tabs, and tags that I can't find what i'm looking for half the time, but I did manage to find this one, and am always looking for more, of course.

Ah, that was fun--then, of course, back to work.

(no subject)

Sep. 16th, 2017 09:08 pm
skygiants: Beatrice from Much Ado putting up her hand to stop Benedick talking (no more than reason)
[personal profile] skygiants
If you are currently in Boston, you have one week left to go see Or at the Chelsea Theater! As [personal profile] aamcnamara put it on Twitter, "it is the Restoration queer bedroom farce spy writing-themed play of your dreams."

Or features three cast members, playing, respectively:
- former spy and ambitious playwright Aphra Behn
- Charles II of England and also Aphra Behn's ex-lover double agent William Scot
- Nell Gwyn, and also Aphra Behn's elderly and extremely cranky maid, and also in one memorably stamina-requiring and scene-stealing monologue Lady Mary Davenant, manager of the Duke's Company of theatrical players

Most of the play takes place in Aphra Behn's apartment, with cast members popping in and out of side rooms as Aphra Behn vainly attempts to keep all her love interests separate AND ALSO thwart a hypothetical plot on the king's life AND ALSO and most importantly finish writing the final act of her career-launching play by a deadline of 9 AM the next morning! Which nobody will let her do! Because they keep wanting to make out with her and/or tell her about plots on the king's life! It's all very frustrating!

The dialogue is delightful, the actors do a fantastic job rattling out natural-sounding rapid-fire iambic pentameter, I laughed aloud at the final plot twist, and the ending contains a solid dose of much-appreciated optimism; it's an extremely enjoyable experience and one I would strongly recommend.
sartorias: Lady Pirate (Lady Pirate)
[personal profile] sartorias
Fans of Swordspoint--or anyone who loves LGBTQ-friendly swashbuckling action and romance--the terrific first season of Tremontaine is available for $2.99

Season three will go live October 11.

(no subject)

Sep. 14th, 2017 06:16 pm
skygiants: Hikaru from Ouran walking straight into Tamaki's hand (talk to the hand)
[personal profile] skygiants
At first I expected to write a rather scathing post about Rachel Kadish's The Weight of Ink, and then I got like 2/3 of the way through and realized that there were in fact some things I really liked about the book to counteract the things that made me stare into the camera like I was on the office, and THEN I got to the end and -

-- ok let me backtrack. The Weight of Ink is a serious literary novel about a pair of academics (the favorite protagonists of serious literary novels) who have discovered a treasure trove of 17th-century documents in a staircase written by Ester Velasquez, a Portuguese Jewish woman who Confounded All Tradition by acting as scribe for a London rabbi. The book proceeds to interweave Ester's story and POV with that of the academics as they discover various bits of evidence pointing to the things that Rachel Kadish will then later explain to us in Ester's narrative sections.

Ester's story is .... it's mostly good? I think I have come around to largely thinking it's good. It starts to pick up around the middle of the book, when Ester starts writing letters to various famous philosophers under fake male names so that she can Engage in the Discourse.

[ACADEMIC A: [Ester's fake name] did not get much attention during his career or make any important allies -
ACADEMIC B: Oh, why is that?
ACADEMIC A: Well, basically, he was very rude to everyone he wrote to.

I will admit I was charmed.]

Ester's most important relationships are with the rabbi -- a good and wise man who respects her intellect and cannot support the ways in which she chooses to use it -- and with Rivka, the rabbi's housekeeper, a Polish Jew who acts as Ester's foil in a number of significant ways, not all of them obvious or expected. Both of these dynamics have an interesting and complicated tension to them that goes well beyond the standard 'I, A Misunderstood Woman Ahead Of My Time.'

Also there is another young upper-class Jewish woman who is rebellious in wildly different ways than Ester is; a pair of brothers who are both interested in marrying Ester for profoundly different reasons, neither of which is true love; and, for a brief period of time, a love interest. The love interest is hilariously lacking in personality and equally hilariously irrelevant to Ester's life on the whole, and mostly exists to trigger a series of philosophical musings related to desire about which Ester can fight with Spinoza. I guess The Distant Shadow Of Spinoza is also one of Ester's most significant relationships.

Anyway, I appreciate the weighting of these relationships, and the way in which the narrative emphasis shifted from what I expected, and especially all the relationships that were not grounded in romance, but in other forms of love and duty and resentment and complicated emotional bonds.

And ... then there's our modern academics.

Helen Watt is a stiff-necked elderly British specialist in Jewish history, who is on the verge of retirement due to Parkinson's disease. Helen has a Tragic Backstory: in her youth, she spent a month as a volunteer in Israel in the 1950s and had a summer fling. Sorry, let me rephrase: she met an Israeli soldier who was the love! of her life!! (For a month.)

The pivotal scene in their romance occurs when Helen shows up for one of their few actual shared off days to have a date, and he hands her a copy of The History of the Jewish People and then LEAVES and REFUSES TO COME BACK until she's READ IT COVER TO COVER. This is the only way she can understand our endless, endless oppression!

(Meanwhile, he lurks outside, and periodically brings her snacks. THIS SCENE IS SOMEHOW NOT MEANT TO BE COMIC.)

Alas, Young Helen in her frailty decides it's all a LITTLE too much for her, and subsequently regrets her lost love until the end of her days. But, inspired by the world's weirdest date, she decides to dedicate her life to the study of Jewish history, so I guess ... that's all right .....?

She is assisted in her endeavors by Aaron, the third POV character. Aaron is an insufferable American Jewish Ph.D. student. He is working on a dissertation about Shakespeare and the Jews, for which he has no evidence, so instead he spends the entire book obsessing over an unattainable Cool Girl. (And she is so textbook Cool Girl! The coolest girl of all! A girl who poses nude for artists who capture a certain something about her, a girl who's just realer than other girls, THE MAGICAL IDEAL.) He sends her incredibly long, pompous emails after a one-night stand which took place on an evening in which "he waited until Marisa was on her second beer -- he kept track from a distance, biding his time. When he approached at last, his own untouched beer dangling casually in his hand --" OKAY AARON, THANKS AND GOODBYE, YOU AND I ARE DONE.

But alas, we are not done with Aaron, we are not done with Aaron at all. Eventually Aaron does come to realize that he's insufferable! A significant part of this realization comes when he visits an archive and meets a shy, demure archivist who's bad at flirting, and is suddenly struck by how desperately sad it is that people like her may never find love because they're all overlooked by assholes like him. If only people like him paid attention to people like her, their lives might be fulfilling and the world would be better! ALAS.

(There are two other archivists in the book, The Interchangeable Patricias. They have a few moments of heroically rising to Helen's aid but mostly their role is to stand as icily competent, largely humorless glowering gate-guards over the sacred text, because of course.)

So basically everything about the modern sections was nonsense to me. (Also, I got mad every time they found a document that explained to them a Piece of the Mystery in a way that was way too narratively convenient. 'Oh, look, Ester doodled out her real name and her fake name next to each other and added a note that said 'HEY IT'S ALL MY NAMES!' Isn't that handy!')

Still, Ester's story in and of itself was good and compelling and interesting, and grudgingly I became invested in it despite myself...

And then spoilers! )

(no subject)

Sep. 13th, 2017 10:38 pm
skygiants: Sheska from Fullmetal Alchemist with her head on a pile of books (ded from book)
[personal profile] skygiants
Juliet Takes a Breath was our book club book for the month of August. I am glad for the existence of this book in the world and I am glad I read it, and with that said my experience of reading it was largely one of OVERWHELMING CONTACT EMBARRASSMENT.

Juliet Takes a Breath is the coming-of-age story of Juliet Milagros Palante, a young Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx who's spending the summer of 2002 interning in Portland, Oregon! with international feminist sensation Harlowe Brisbane! author of "Raging Flower," a book about VAGINA POWER!

Unsurprisingly, pretty much every time Harlowe Brisbane spoke a sentence I wanted to retract my head all the way back inside my nonexistent turtle shell until a million years had passed and womyn power white lady feminism was a thing that could be discussed with distant scholarly complacency, like galvanism or the Cathar heresy. This is completely expected and indeed clearly intended by the book, but nonetheless, OH LORD.

Anyway, not everything is Harlowe Brisbane being exactly the way you'd expect; a great deal of the book is Juliet dealing with a wide range of family reactions to her coming-out (the width of the range in particular is really good!), and Learning New Vocabularies, and finding comfortable queer POC spaces, and attending lectures about intersectional solidarity in the wake of 9/11, and making romantic gay teen mixtapes full of Ani DiFranco songs! But oh, lord. At least one book club member said it rang extremely true to their experience and memories of Portland in 2002. Myself, in 2002 I was nowhere near Portland nor any of the Cool Yet Problematique gay spaces that Rivera is writing about here and it's PROBABLY just as well, but it does seem quite likely to me that walking around Portland in 2002 was a lot like walking around a physical manifestation of certain bits of tumblr, and that is indeed the sense I got of it from this book.

[a sidenote: the acknowledgments in the back include pointed thanks and reference to the time that the author spent with Inga Muscio, author of 'Cunt: A Declaration of Independence.' I'm not necessarily saying this book was a callout post, but .... anyway Inga Muscio also cheerfully blurbed the book on the front so it seems there were no hard feelings on her part and all is well.]

Planet of the Five Rings

Sep. 13th, 2017 02:20 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

New story out today! Nature Futures is giving you Planet of the Five Rings. This was a Christmas present to my father, who is a deeply serious person, so you know that it will be a grim and somber read. If that’s not enough, there’s a story behind the story blog post where you can read more about it. Hope you enjoy!

Book of Athyra / 500 Years / Dragon

Sep. 13th, 2017 11:38 am
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
[personal profile] jazzfish
The Great Big Dragaera Reread, part 3

The Ace books have decidedly Aged Well, which is always a pleasant surprise. The treatement of Easterners feels remarkably relevant and contemporary (at least, so saith this white dude), and the sense of having wandered into someone's high-powered D&D game doesn't persist past Jhereg, or maybe Yendi. I'd definitely recommend them.

Athyra, Orca, FHYA, Dragon )
rosefox: A man's head with a panel open to show gears, and another man looking inside. (examined head)
[personal profile] rosefox
I don't want to write another huge long entry tonight, because last night's took 90 minutes and then I went to bed super late, but I do want to leave myself some quick notes on a thing. When Kit was off from daycare for a week, I was up and dressed by 11 every morning so I could do childcare. I put on real clothes and left the house every day. I did social things and I did actively fun things (not what I'm coming to think of as enjoyable sloth things, like playing video games or hanging out on Slack). My body and brain were engaged. I felt GREAT. I enjoyed every day and ended the week feeling like I'd been on vacation—like I'd gone on a holiday to New York and done all those things I'm always too busy or tired or whatever to do. And I did it while working (at night) and staying totally on top of my deadlines, even the ones accelerated by the holiday.

So I need to figure out how to do that more. I hoped a week of early rising would reset my body clock but of course I'm right back to going to bed at 5 a.m. (or later—Monday morning I went to bed at half past nine, which is not okay and has set me up for feeling like crap all week) so I will have to work on that part because I think it's pretty essential. Having something fun to get up for really helped, a thing that has been true going back to my childhood; I would be late to school every weekday morning for months but happily get up at dawn on a weekend to go to the Stormville flea market with my mother. Even more crucially, I would care enough to go to bed early—a thing I did during Kit's week off too—so that getting up early didn't wreck me and wreck the event I was looking forward to.

I don't think I can get up before 10 on a regular basis, but if I got up at 10 or 10:30 to be out the door by 11 for a ~12:00 thing someplace, that sounds doable. It just has to be a fun thing. I have an OT appointment at 13:00 and I genuinely enjoy OT in addition to it being kind of vital for my health and well-being, but it's not the exhilarating kind of fun, so going to bed early and getting up early and getting there on time are all challenging.

What are exuberant fun things that could happen around noon? I think I need something where I'm making a commitment to someone else, at least at first; I've tried setting schedules through sheer willpower before and it's never worked out. Lunches with friends? Classes of some kind? (Ideally free or cheap ones.) Swapping language lessons with someone who wants to improve their spoken or written English and help me learn to read kanji or sign ASL? A teaching or tutoring gig? (Maybe the local library needs volunteers in their adult learning center. I've sent them a note.) A crafting meetup? A chorus or other singing group? A walking club? Doing storytime or otherwise helping out at Kit's daycare? It doesn't need to be a big thing or a long thing or a very structured thing. It just has to start at around the right time of day and get me out of the house and engage my body and mind and bring me real joy. Nothing will do that as well as time with Kit, but some approximation should be possible. Suggestions are very welcome, keeping in mind that I used to write the learning section of the nonsense nyc weekly events newsletter and already know about basically every source of free and cheap educational experiences in the city. :)

a Garnet fan

Sep. 12th, 2017 11:32 pm
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
[personal profile] asakiyume
I was driving to the post office, and I noticed that the car in front of me had a sticker of Garnet, from Steven Universe, on the back of the car. Also, the car was from out of state.

Garnet



I haven't watched much Steven Universe, but I've really enjoyed the few episodes I've seen. I felt warmly toward that car. Then, coincidence of coincidences, it turned into the post office parking lot too. "Wow, someone from New York is going to the post office here in B'town," I thought, and also, "I can tell them how much I like their Garnet sticker." I followed the driver into the post office. They got in line; I had to fill out a customs form, so I was standing nearby.

"Excuse me," I said.

"Oh!" they said, startled, and made to get out of my way.

"No, no--you're fine! I just wanted to say, I really like your Garnet sticker, on your car."

"Oh!" they said again, but a pleased and happy one this time. "Thanks!"

Then it was their turn at the counter. On their way out they smiled at me and said goodbye.

I had no clue what gender, if any, they were, but they inhabited their skin and their space with a pleasant, easy charm. They looked more or less like this:

Iraq+100, edited by Hassan Blasim

Sep. 12th, 2017 07:16 am
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

Review copy provided by Tor Books.

The cover describes this as, “The first anthology of science fiction to have emerged from Iraq,” but “emerged” seems insufficient to describe the work the editors did to make this project happen. Without an established science fiction community, editors definitely can’t just call for submissions and put their feet up. From what’s in the introduction, Hassan Blasim, with the help of Ra Page, approached writers from many regions of Iraq, generations, and writing styles, coaxing and cajoling them to approach the idea of Iraq a hundred years after invasion, doing with it whatever they saw fit. That’s not just emergence. That’s beyond even encouragement.

My favorite part of the stories themselves is the focus on Iraq as a future setting: this square or that city taking pride of place, this saying or that legend being the focus. I love fiction in translation for that reason: for the shift in perspective. I want more of it. And in order to get more of it, I’m willing to deal with stories that are not what I would ordinarily like best: stories with more sexual threat, stories that retread similar ground to previous work in other languages/cultures, stories that don’t seem to be able to find any thread of hope in the entire world. Which is not this entire volume, but it is some of this volume. If what I really want is works in translation from all over the world–and it is–I need to let the people actually from those places tell me what stories they want to tell, not tell them that their stories don’t fit my preconceptions of what they should want to tell. So while in some ways this was a bumpy reading experience for me, with some delights and some difficulties, I’m very glad to have the opportunity for the bumps.

Please consider using our link to buy Iraq+100 from Amazon.

mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

Review copy provided by First Second Books.

When a person who mainly reads prose expands into reviewing graphic novels meant for children, suddenly the form factor of the book starts mattering a great deal more than it ever did before. This book is a large, slender hardbound, the sort of book I don’t see regularly outside picture books. Its production values are glossy and very high–but it’s not a picture book, it’s a watercolor graphic novel translated from the French.

The paintings are lovely. The layout is sometimes quite busy for my eye, having extra rows and columns of illustration compared to a “standard” size of graphic novel.

Seraphin’s mother is an explorer of the aether, a scientist in her hot air balloon. When she disappears on a dangerous flight, Seraphin and his father try to balance their own explorations with a desire to keep each other safe–and to find out what happened to her. They wind up in Bavaria, at the court of King Ludwig, whose swan-shaped aether-ship is promisingly bizarre.

The “book one” in the title is not merely an indication that this is a series: the story is not complete in this volume. What adventures will our young etc. and his daring friends etc. etc. I think comics readers are pretty used to that sort of thing, and there is plenty of adventure, excitement, swashing, and buckling. It’s a fairly old-fashioned sort of adventure–maximum of one girl character at a time, apparently, and the gratuitous startled-in-the-bath scene–but airships and 19th century science jokes do have their charm; I would definitely read further to see how this comes out.

Please consider using our link to buy Castle in the Stars Book One: The Space Race of 1869 from Amazon.

back again

Sep. 11th, 2017 02:37 pm
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
[personal profile] jazzfish
I've fallen out of practice at journaling, which is never a good sign. Time to pull myself back into it. Part of the problem's that I've been running around mentally in crisis-management mode for about a month, for reasons that I am actively choosing to not get into instead of just sort of ignoring.

Today feels kind of bleh... but I did sleep pretty well last night, well enough for the light-alarm to wake me instead of waking up at random at four-thirty and not getting back to sleep. Though I did want to sleep longer. Which is unusual for me, I'm generally pretty good about getting up and moving after about five or ten minutes. More sleep tonight, I think.

Feeling a strong urge to hole up in my room or the bathtub and (re)read and do other distractionary things. July was lost to a haze of emotional overwhelm and also packing/moving, and August has been rough for mostly unrelated reasons. The Great Big Dragaera Reread has been a balm.

I went camping about a month ago for the first time since we moved, and I miss it. Thinking tentatively about going out backpacking over Canucksgiving. No idea where, or who with, though the answer to that one is likely "nobody, because I hate coordinating with people."

Still doing yoga though more erratically, still biking pretty consistently. The lovely bike basket I bought online doesn't fit over the handlebars of this bike, so I'm still looking for a better solution there. At least I've finally got a couple of bungee cords so I can pack things on the rear rack. I also need a better pannier: this one sticks up over the top of the rack, making it difficult to bungee things on properly.

Things like an Instant Pot, which I've purchased on the grounds that a) I wanted a rice cooker anyway, b) everyone I know who has one has sung its praises to the heavens, and c) being able to make more food and easier is almost certainly a Good Thing for me. I haven't yet figured out what I'm going to do with it other than "cook more meat faster," or even what sorts of meat-type things. Need to spend some time poking at crockpot-type recipes, perhaps.

August 2015

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
232425 26272829
3031     

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 19th, 2017 08:42 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios