- Joe. My. God. has reposted a famous, fantastic contemporary New York Daily News article about the Stonewall Riots.
- James Leahy's clips of Toronto Pride parades from 1988 through 1995 are great. h/t to Leahy and to Shawn Micallef of Spacing for sharing them.
- Arnold Zwicky has collated some photos of Pride rainbows on Chicago and Dublin transit buses and on some boots.
I'm going to try to post Flashback stories more often than once a week for a little while, to get caught up to my original schedule.
So here's the next Flashback story:
- “Textual Variants,” by Rosamund Hodge
- Adventurers seeking across worlds, in abbreviated form. (Published in 2006.) (2,700 words.)
She couldn't even tell him the truth about why she felt weak. Because then she would have to tell him who the Warders really were, and who she was, and why she had spent the last three years fleeing across worlds and hunting for shards of the Crystal.
(See also the full list of Flashback stories.)
In 2006, Susan Groppi and David Moles edited an anthology called Twenty Epics, featuring epic-style stories condensed down into a small space. This story wasn't in that anthology, but I feel like it's in the same spirit; sort of the Good Parts Version of a hypothetical much longer work. It manages to do in a couple paragraphs what some stories or novels would take whole chapters to do.
And I love that each scene is vivid and detailed; this isn't a summary of a story, it's more like brief dazzling snapshots. Like the view in a strobe light.
And I like the variants of the gods' story that start each section, too.
And I love part 7. Especially this:
And a stupid little girl wanted to save
And that ending; sweet and lovely and satisfying.
Conversation between me and Krissy yesterday:
Me: With all this bullshit around health care, and the possibility of pre-existing conditions and insurance caps coming back, we should probably look into supplemental insurance.
Krissy: I got us supplemental insurance years ago.
Me: You did?
Krissy: Yes. I even have policies for very specific things.
Me: Like what?
Krissy: I have an insurance policy on your hands.
Me: My hands?
Krissy: You’re a writer. You use your hands. If something happens to your hands, it’s a problem. We’ll need to pay for someone for you to dictate to.
Me: You’ve insured my hands.
Me: I’m not going to lie. That’s literally the sexiest thing you’ve said to me this whole damn month.
Shaped and themed cakes are awesome, of course, but I still drool and dream over more traditional wedding cakes, too. After all, they've come a long way from just simple tiers with flowers - even the simple tiers with flowers!
Love this SO MUCH.
And take a look at this amazing "fabric" pleating:
(By Delectable by Su)
Hard to believe those tufted pinwheels and embroidered borders are all sugar. It's so perfect!
And check out the string work on this engagement beauty:
(By Hana of A Piece of Cake)
I love the curls on the top tier, and the piping on the bottom lace collar and upper level strings is simply awe-inspiring. Skill like this always renews my faith in cake artistry. :)
Here's a sweet dress-inspired design:
Look at the design at the bottom of the skirt ruffles!
And how's this for a modern twist on a classic?
(By Elizabeth's Cakes)
If you've never stacked or tried to support cakes in the shape of a ball before, let me assure you: it's hard. And all that detail! Totally swoon-worthy.
Another rounded design:
See that lace border on top? Someone piped that. Yeah. Respect!
And speaking of mad piping skills:
(By The Cake Gallery)
Whoah. This reminds me of the Victorian-themed Grand Floridian resort here in Orlando. Frills and bows and hand-piped lace, oh my!
Or, for a more modern touch:
This has been one of my favorite designs since before I even started CW. I love the swirls and the bold flowers.
Or, how about John's favorite?
(By Sugarbelle Cakes)
And finally, the cake that had me scooping my jaw off the desk:
(By Susan Trianos aka Peecheekeeno)
That's all *cake*, guys. Look at that tufted tier in the middle. LOOK AT IT. Now, tell me: how the heck do they DO that? Not to mention the perfect corset lacing, the bows, the ruffles, the porcelain-perfect gumpaste roses...seriously, I think I could stare at this all day. Just. Gorgeous.
And from my other blog, Epbot:
- The Globe and Mail's Joanna Slater talks about how the subway system of New York City is staggering from catastrophe to catastrophe.
- The Globe and Mail's Stephen Quinn argues it is much too late to save Vancouver's Chinatown from radical redevelopment.
- The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski writes about how young buyers are driving a push for laneway housing in Toronto.
- Bryan Tucker, also in the Toronto Star, also makes the case for laneway housing.
- The National Post shares a story about an affordable 18th century house on the Québec-Vermont border.
Peggy McInerny writes about a Nahuatl program for the Latin American Institute:
The language of the Aztecs, Nahuatl [pronounced na’ wat], is alive and well today in Los Angeles. Beginning and intermediate classes in modern Nahuatl are offered at UCLA, with an advanced class slated to launch next year.
A few miles due north at the Getty Museum, historians and art experts are collaborating with Italy’s Laurentian Library on a long-term project to create an online, annotated version of one of the greatest works ever written in Nahuatl: the Florentine Codex. A virtual encyclopedia of Nahua culture compiled by a dedicated Franciscan friar in the mid-16th century, the work has never been accessible to the general public — much less to descendants of the Aztecs living in Mexico.
Last fall, an entire scene of a U.S. television show was shot in Spanish and modern Nahuatl, marking the first time that the Aztec language had ever been heard on an American broadcast. This coming September, a charter school in Lynwood will offer Nahuatl classes to its middle school students, courtesy of a UCLA graduate student. And that’s not to mention a dedicated native speaker who has been teaching Nahuatl classes for 26 years in a local church in Santa Ana (see KPCC story).
Standing at the confluence of most of these linguistic streams is UCLA historian Kevin Terraciano, director of the Latin American Institute. A genial professor with a dry sense of humor, Terraciano was instrumental in making Nahuatl available at UCLA, beginning in fall 2015. It was Terraciano who translated English dialogue into Nahuatl for an American Crime episode during the show’s current season. (He later coached the actors, who had to learn their parts phonetically, at the actual shoot.)
There’s some interesting stuff there about the history of the language (“Nahuatl was still the majority-spoken language in the Valley of Mexico at the end of the colonial period […] Despite the fact that 90 percent of the population died over a 100-year period as a result of one epidemic after another, indigenous peoples were still the majority of the population of Mexico by the end of that period”). Thanks, Trevor!
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly photoblogs about her trip to Berlin.
- Dead Things reports on a recent study that unraveled the evolutionary history of the domestic cat.
- James Nicoll notes that his niece and nephew will each be performing theatre in Toronto.
- Language Hat has an interesting link to interviews of coders as if they were translators.
- Marginal Revolution looks at Chinese video game competitions and Chinese tours to Soviet revolutionary sites.
- Steve Munro shares photos of the old Kitchener trolleybus.
- Roads and Kingdoms shares the story of the Ramadan drummer of Coney Island.
- Savage Minds shares an essay arguing that photographers should get their subjects' consent and receive renumeration.
- Torontoist shares photos of the Trans March.
For the first five months of 2016, I posted an almost-weekly Strange Horizons retrospective, showcasing stories from my time as an editor there, a set of stories I called “flashbacks.” But then in late May of 2016, for no good reason, I ran out of steam. At first I meant to come back and post the rest of the ones I had planned, and then I decided maybe I was done; but a couple of friends expressed interest in seeing me continue, so I decided to pick it up again a year after I had stopped. Only then I missed that deadline too, and here it is a month after I had intended to start posting again. But I'm gonna give it another try.
So here's this week's flashback story. Mostly I'm trying to avoid providing any commentary about the stories until after the link and the spoiler warning, but for this one I feel like I should provide a bit of a content warning: this story unfortunately does some erasure of trans and nonbinary people. That was unintentional; but I regret not recognizing and addressing the issue at the time, and I suspect David does as well.
- “Planet of the Amazon Women,” by David Moles
- A man goes to a planet of women, to examine a causality anomaly. (Published in 2005.) (10,600 words.)
A century ago on Hippolyta, something called Amazon Fever killed thirteen hundred million men and boys. Hundreds of millions of women and girls died as well, slain indirectly, by the chaos that came in the Fever's wake.
No one knows now who started the Fever, or what they were trying to do: whether it was intentional—an attempt at an attack, or a revolution—or accidental—an industrial mishap, or a probability experiment gone awry, or even an archaeological discovery. But when it came it came suddenly, sweeping across Hippolyta in less than a year, in its progress less like a disease than like a curse. It defied drugs and vaccines and quarantines, brushing past exploration-grade immune enhancements as if they were so many scented medieval nosegays.
(See also the full list of Flashback stories.)
If I were editing this story today, after having read Ammonite and seen critiques of Wonder Woman, and with a dozen years more experience of knowing trans people and thinking about gender politics and religious politics, I would suggest some changes; and I suspect if David were writing this story today, he would write it somewhat differently. But I think it's still worth reading.
Among other things, I like the metafictional aspects of this story, the way that it takes apart and examines sf's handling of certain tropes, the way that it contrasts traditional-sf ideas of Manly Men In Space with more-recent-sf ideas about characters and gender and religion. For example, this bit:
They take their job very seriously, too, with a certain pride that they are the only ones in this part of the Polychronicon interested in the problem: the universe may be dangerous and chaotic and very poorly organized, but the Republic, and the Navy, are up to the task.
They're not, of course. The universe is so much more disorganized than these comic-opera astronauts could even imagine.
Which reads to me as commentary about science fiction as well as about the crew of this particular military starship.
I also like the kind of tech terminology and phrasing that David tosses off with such casual confidence:
simultaneity channels don't operate across the probability boundary
The inference engines, more delicate and abstract, I carry with me. They were made in Damascus, and their existence is largely mathematical.
Traditional technobabble about reversing the polarity of the neutron flow doesn't do much for me, but I love phrases like “simultaneity channels” and “inference engines.”
And I love the additional worldbuilding work that some other kinds of throwaway phrases do, especially this one:
I'm sponsored by the London Caliphate's Irrationality Office.
And a bunch of the implicit worldbuilding of the societies on Hippolyta.
In addition to the language and the metacommentary and the worldbuilding, I particularly like the ending of this story. The moment of wonder and revelation when Sasha/Yazmina sees the space elevator; the recognition that Hippolyta's history is also real; the final scene. Good stuff.
Another lesson for me on the difficulty of seeing outside your own cultural context:
In Delany's City of a Thousand Suns (1966), a historian (Rolth Catham) is talking about various people writing for their ideal audiences. During that discussion, he refers repeatedly to “man” (meaning humankind), and consistently uses “he” to refer to various ideal readers. I was noticing the genderedness of all that, so I was ruefully amused when he adds (p. 158):
“… I check and recheck my historical theory for cultural, sexual, emotional bias, for that ideal man, who is ideally unbiased.”
So despite checking his own work repeatedly for cultural and sexual bias, the character is oblivious to his belief that the ideal unbiased reader is a man.
I don't, of course, bring this up in order to criticize Chip for something he wrote fifty years ago. I bring it up because I think it's another nice illustration of how hard it is to recognize our own cultural frameworks even when we're explicitly trying to avoid bias.
- Missing persons blog Charley Ross shares the strange story of five people who went missing in a winter wilderness in 1978.
- Roads and Kingdom shares an anecdote by Alessio Perrone about a chat over a drink with a Cornishman, in a Cornwall ever more dependent on tourism.
- Strange Company shares the story of Kiltie, a Scottish cat who immigrated to the United States in the First World War.
- Starts With a Bang, a science blog by Ethan Siegel, argues that there is in fact no evidence for periodic mass extinctions caused by bodies external to the Earth.
- Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, a group blog by Canadian economists, considers the value placed on Aboriginal language television programming.
Barbara Hall Park and the AIDS Memorial. It was a lovely evening, made all the more so by a late evening sky coloured in rainbow pastels.