Horizon, by Fran Wilde

Sep. 26th, 2017 07:03 am
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa
Review copy provided by Tor Books. Also the author is a personal friend and all-around nifty person.

This is the culmination of the trilogy that started with Updraft. If you're the sort of person who needs to know that something has a definite-and-for-sure ending before you buy that thing: here you are, here is the ending, it is a really-truly ending that ends. (I really want to encourage people not to do that, because it's a good way to make sure people don't get to have their endings published--especially people like Fran who have given you nice volume endings in addition to the larger series ending. But I know that such people exist, so! Here is the information you were looking for: ending!)

I don't recommend starting with Horizon. This is clearly a culmination, and there are only two books before it to give you the plot and character arcs Fran is weaving together here; it's not like you have to read twelve bugcrushers to get to what she's doing here. Kirit and Nat and their friends and relations--and grudging allies, and adversaries--are back and struggling for survival--trying to figure out, from page one, what shape their survival can even take.

For that reason, it's hard to review Horizon in very concrete terms, because there's so much that it's doing that depends on the previous books. It's exciting from the first page, it's all engineering and all social and all heart, all at once. Fran's weaving threads and perspectives together in ways that she didn't in previous books--rather than resting on previous successes, she's doing this book in a new way, and it works. It's the way this book would have to work, but I love to see that in a first series, rather than copying the structure of a first book that's had as much success as Updraft has, I love to see an author following the story and doing what it needs even if the structure isn't the same. The previous volumes didn't pull punches, and neither does Horizon, but it does that in its own way.

The ending is satisfying without being overly tidy, without being one-size-fits-all for characters who have spent this whole trilogy coming in different sizes. And...I really appreciate the way people with common goals don't always trust each other, don't always like each other--and are sometimes very grumpy at the compromises they have to make with each other. The world is like that; the world of fiction too often finds it difficult to be both satisfying and realistic, but I think Horizon manages both. With lots of astonishing creatures and feats of derring-do in between.

Please consider using our link to buy Horizon from Amazon.

this week. month. season.

Sep. 22nd, 2017 04:20 pm
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
[personal profile] jazzfish
The weekend was alright-to-good. I'd moved my dentist appointment to Monday from the middle of next week, and that went fine except for some gumwork that I'll need to have done in a couple of weeks. Then come Tuesday night the stress stacked up again. Emily's successfully located a subleaser, at least for a couple of months: yay! I won't have to pay half the mortgage in addition to Vancouver rent, and I might even not be dipping into savings. At least for that couple of months.

Trouble was, the subleaser wanted in on 1 October, and I was scheduled to leave Thursday evening and not get back 'til next Sunday. The first. Panic ... did not exactly set in, though stress certainly did.

Over the course of Wednesday I:
  • Got a couple of friends to hang out with me Wednesday night and help finish packing, which otherwise would have been a) slow, b) frustrating, and c) generally sad-inducing.
  • Acquired a small storage unit on short notice.
  • Decided to just call in exhausted on Thursday due to not sleeping well (this is not a lie), and just go in for my early-morning meetings.
So that happened and the packing went fine, and the move itself went fine. I left the bookcases and coffee-table there for the subleaser's use; the bookcases might fit into the storage unit if necessary. I'd intended to find myself a new better bed and move the old one to the condo so the subleaser could use it but given my state the last week or so, finding a decent bed was Not Happening. I'll throw money at Emily to find a bed. And then I guess I'll have two low-end beds.



After all that I made it back to my basement apartment about an hour before I'd expected, with plenty of time to pack for ten days up north. Indeed, I managed to leave about an hour early to get to the airport, so I'd have plenty of time to grab a leisurely dinner before my flight.

Except that when I got to the airport I realised I'd forgotten my viola, which would make it difficult to a) practise and b) have a Skype lesson on Tuesday. So, half an hour transit back out to the apartment and half an hour back to the airport, and there went all the extra time I'd built in for dinner. I did manage to grab something to eat anyhow but it was a close thing.

I then discovered, once I got here, that I'd left my glasses at home as well. This is deeply frustrating, as it rather limits my late-evening options. It's also gonna make things interesting if my contacts self-destruct again.

(I briefly thought I had lost my Nexus card, but it turned up again. Still not sure what happened there. I'd blame my lack of glasses except that I generally find things by touch and not by sight, so.)



But the weekend was pretty good: reconnected with Erin, went out to a couple of events to start trying to make connections in the local kink community, generally got a little more sociable and a little less stuck in my own head.

And today's the equinox, so maybe the horrificness has just been the fault of summer and it'll start to settle out now. I can hope, anyway.
thanate: (bluehair)
[personal profile] thanate
The world is talking to me about petroglyphs (in that way where things line up a little and then you start noticing more of them.)

There was a glorious tunic dress I got at the thrift store with hand embroidered petroglyph-style fabric, which I passed on to my mother since it fits her without alterations. Pinterest and now the craft stores are full of ideas & paint markers for drawing on rocks. There was the paleoart take on what we can learn about the woolly rhinoceros from looking at art by its contemporaries. And then this glorious article came across twitter the other day: What the Caves are trying to tell us, and I don't remember hearing about the liner scratch marks before either, but they remind me of the reindeer birthing goddesses & the various stone-age petroglyphs that still carry the old gods through into modern central European cross stitch patterns.

Also, I want more fiction weird edge-of-the-imagination speculative stone age cultures and a world where every rock & maybe tree used to be covered with herds of ice age large mammals and the ones in the deep caves are just the only ones we have left.

I am restraining myself from finishing up getting rid of the wallpaper on the stairs (a noble goal, but not today's priority) so I can paint cave art all over those walls. I *might* have to use that as a theme for another pair of painted jeans, tho. Except that then I'd need to make a string skirt to wear with them... (We'll see how long this lasts; so far I'm just at the stage of google image searches & requesting library books.)

Not dead, mostly

Sep. 19th, 2017 08:46 pm
thanate: (Default)
[personal profile] thanate
I keep thinking maybe I'm about up to dealing with the crises & fiascos of the world outside my household & then the back-to-school cold(s) will hit a new worst part and my child paints the cat, who then comes inside & whacks his pink sparkly tail into things (ok, that part was funny, if one of those parenting milestones one would rather skip) and someone leaks scary chemical clouds in south Baltimore and the Megatherium becomes addicted to Thea Stilton books. (They could be worse, but there's only so much schoolfriend detective furries-for-elementary-schoolers I can take at a time. Also, why weren't there books with crazy fonts & colored text insets when I was a kid? I mean, besides the advances in computers & publishing technology...)

So, the Megatherium is enjoying 5 mornings of pre-school a week, but wants to go off & play with her friends afterwards, which would be great if she weren't inviting herself places or trying to invite everyone else here (including kids met 2 minutes ago at the library) without any concept of cleaning up first.

Pennsic was nice except for the thing where it rained here the whole time so the house molded & mice got into the silverware drawer & left their little mousy droppings all over everything and I am *still* finding things that are unexpectedly moused or molded, ugh. :( I am terrible about this kind of clean-up, too; it makes my brain hurt.

Grauwulf is less ill than previous (mostly), but came back from vacation to work Drama, part of which involves working from home at the dining room table a bunch, which doesn't help anyone, so ugh, things. He's also currently asleep on the couch next to me because the couch is the eternal sleeping place, I guess.

I started craftster swapping again over the summer to get random care packages in the mail that I didn't have to buy (& it's nice to have deadlines for getting into the craft room) and so far that's been fairly good. We're also working on a craft day in the newly set up "parent lounge" at school for during school time, but my e-mail is being stupid so of course I just ended up sending out the invite 4 times for reasons known only to my computer (& it's not telling.)

Finally bought Tansy Raynor Roberts's Musketeer Space (because bother e-books) & am enjoying her gender-swapped-except-Athos futuristic 3 Musketeers with spaceships. In the class of SF rendition of a classic where the world building makes the story work rather than the story pulling the world building into eye-rolling contortions. (well, some of the planet & station names are a little weird)

I think I want more low-stakes interesting speculative books about grown-ups, tho. Like, older than 20-something at least, if not older than me. Not dystopic, probably not modern world. Major female characters, limited number of POVs. Is this even a thing? Maybe I should just read Middlemarch like everyone else seems to be doing.

Also, did anyone else notice that apparently Rogue Unauthorized Embodied AIs is now a sub-genre? Are there more besides Ann Leckie, Becky Chalmers, & Martha Wells's Murderbot? (I'm not sure rogue is really quite the right word, tho.)
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

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

Review copy provided by Haikasoru Books.

This is one of the weirdest books I’ve read in a long time. The Bamboo, the creatures in it, are described as vampires, but they’re really more grass monsters who eat human carrion. They’re described as scary, but I’m not particularly scared by them so much as baffled by their strange, secretive, hierarchical laws. (For me, this is a feature, not a bug.) And on basically every other page, I’m left saying, “What? What?” (Again, a feature, not a bug.)

There are three sections varying widely in time, with different protagonists. Even within the sections, the timeline swings wildly, spending pages on a conversation translated lovingly to attempt to show what level of formality the Japanese conversation used (oh, a losing battle) and then going over forty years in a single line. I would say that it’s full of plot twists, but that sounds very linear, very straightforward, as though things are following one upon another with logic–it is full of plot twists the way the dream you are trying to remember from two nights ago is full of plot twists. “And then you what? Why? Okay.”

And then the grass monster reached the end of their life and exploded into flowers. What? Okay. No, different section, they ate someone who they thought was abusing a prostitute. What? Okay. If that’s not okay with you, you should probably move along, because that’s what there is here, a whole lot of angst and monsters and randomness, and some of you are saying, gosh, no thanks, and some of you are saying, sign me on up.

Please consider using our link to buy A Small Charred Face from Amazon.

Books read, early September

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:45 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

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

Alex Alice, Castle in the Stars Book One: The Space Race of 1869. Discussed elsewhere.

Hassan Blasim, ed., Iraq+100 Discussed elsewhere.

Chaz Brenchley, Dust-Up at the Crater School Chapter 7. Kindle. Plotty, moving forward, full of dust storms and schoolgirl antics, as one would expect for this project.

Marie Brennan, Maps to Nowhere. Discussed elsewhere.

George Eliot, Middlemarch. Kindle. And this is what happened to my early September. Middlemarch is surprising; it is delightful. It is one of the longest classics of English literature, and it is a joy to read. I kept thinking that I would want to leaven it with bits of something else, go off and take a break and read something in the middle of it. I didn’t. (I mean, I always have a book of short pieces going. But other than that.) While I was reading Middlemarch, I kept wanting to read Middlemarch, and when I was done reading it I wanted more of it. The only thing of its size that’s at all comparable in my attachment to it is John Sayles’s A Moment in the Sun, and that does not have the passionate following Middlemarch has–wherever I mentioned it I found that friends and strangers were ready to share my delight in this wandering intense chatty behemoth of a book. I’m discussing it with a friend who’s reading it with me. I’m not sure I have a lot to add for the general audience except to say, it’s funny, it’s intense, it’s gigantic emotionally as well as literally, it makes me want to read more George Eliot, it makes me want to read its giant self all over again. It is in some ways exactly what you would expect and in other ways nothing like what you’d expect. It is thoroughly itself. And oh, I love her, I love George Eliot so very much. I’m glad I read such a quotable thing when I was past the age of needing to strip-mine books for epigraphs. I can do that later. I’m glad I could just relax in and read this first time.

Masha Gessen, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. I enjoyed another of Gessen’s books and picked this up because the library had it, more or less on a whim. And it gave me a perspective on modern Russia that nothing else has, particularly on its criminal justice system. What the prison system is doing there, what trials are like, what sorts of things are prioritized, what and who counts, what and who does not. Enraging, illuminating. There are some things Gessen just takes for granted you will know about feminist art theory and punk, but I think it may still be interesting if you don’t? but even better if you do. Also, if you have a very strong high culture/low culture divide, read this book and have that nonsense knocked out of you. Not that I have an opinion about that.

Ben Hatke, Mighty Jack and the Goblin King. Discussed elsewhere.

Steve Inskeep, Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab. This is very much in the popular history category: short chapters, many things explained on a fairly straightforward level. Not a lot of delving deep into the obscure corners. However, Inskeep does a fairly good job of switching back and forth between the lens of the European settlers turned recent Americans and the lens of the cultures of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, and especially Cherokee people in the region he was discussing. One of the things that this particularly underscored for me is how quickly the European/American settlers viewed the land as traditionally theirs in that part of the south: the beginning of the Cherokee Trail of Tears was twenty-three years before the US Civil War. Even the earliest of the resettlements was only thirty years before. So in some parts of the Deep South, there were indeed plantations that had been going for generations–but in large, large swaths of it, the land they were fighting so hard for was land they had just taken from its previous owners basically five minutes ago. References to traditional way of life in that context are basically like talking about GameBoys and other hand-held gaming devices as our traditional way of life: they are bullshit. I think the way we are taught this period of history in American schooling encourages us not to think of that. I will want to read much deeper works on Andrew Jackson’s presidency. In this case I will say: Inskeep is not trying to paint him as a great guy or not a racist…and I still think he ends up going too easy on him. But it’s a good starter work for this period, I think.

Ursula K. LeGuin, The Language of the Night. Reread. The last time I read this was before I was keeping a book log, which means also before I was selling short stories regularly. I was a lot less prone to argue with assertions about fantasy not needing to compromise then. (Oh nonsense, of course it does.) But one of the things that makes Ursula LeGuin a great writer is that she argues with her past self, too. She evolves. She evolves in the course of this collection. And I think she’d be far happier with people thinking and arguing than uncritically absorbing anyway.

Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch. So…I didn’t mean to go straight from Middlemarch to a book about it, but the other thing I had from the library, I bounced off, and…I wasn’t ready to be done. This is Mead’s memoir entangled with a bit of biography of Eliot. There are places where Mead is bafflingly obtuse (some areas of gender politics and the writing of sexuality, notably, but also the difference between a character who is fully human and a character who is generally sympathetic), but in general it is short and rattles along satisfyingly and tells me things I want to know about George Eliot without telling me too many things I actively didn’t want to know about Rebecca Mead.

A. Merc Rustad, So You Want to Be a Robot. This is a solid and heart-wrenching collection. It’s impossible to pick one true favorite because there are so many good choices. Definitely highly recommended, Merc hits it out of the park here. And they’re just getting started.

Gerald Vizenor, Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles. This is when Vizenor was just getting started, and gosh I’m glad I didn’t get started with his early work, because…why, oh why, did so many men of the seventies–particularly men who wanted to claim they were ecologically minded without doing much about it–pick the same direction for their demonstrations of their own sexual daring? Well, Vizenor grew out of it. But it’s a one of those. The person who wrote the afterword was sure that objections to it would be because people thought Indians couldn’t be like that! and no, it’s that it’s trite, it’s exactly the kind of trite sexual objectification of women–especially Indian women–that you’d expect from “seventies dude trying to be sexually shocking.” He got better. I’m glad.

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 )

Profile

blairmacg: (Default)
blairmacg

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28 293031   

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 26th, 2017 09:49 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios