[Daily happiness]

Oct. 21st, 2017 12:20 am
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
[personal profile] oyceter
1. Was in Berkeley for a conference, and it was nice to be around campus again!

2. Had braised meat rice for lunch, then got pastries from the Chinese bakery and pearl milk tea, yum. And the lunch place was playing Cpop and made me slightly homesick for Taiwan.

3. Watched The Snake Prince, a Shaw Brothers movie, with CB and [personal profile] jhameia and it is... quite a thing. Let's just say there was much more disco music and dancing than I had expected.

The Good Place 2.1-2.5

Oct. 20th, 2017 11:49 pm
yhlee: (AtS no angel (credit: <user name="helloi)
[personal profile] yhlee
spoilers )

It's funny--I adore this show but declined to request it for Yuletide. Besides it being a highly jossable canon, what I really want is bona fide philosophy neepery, and I'm pretty sure 99% of the fandom wants to write about relationships. There's plenty of shipfic I would read for this fandom, but I really really want philosophy neepery. And, I mean, 2.5 was basically my Platonic ideal in terms of episode content.

The ravelled sleave of care

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:03 pm
desperance: (Default)
[personal profile] desperance
Day Minus One: and all the worst is behind us, except for the actual feeling rotten. Hopefully.

We lead a temperate life, those of us who go down to Mexico in search of healing. Karen had her last round of chemo today (yay!) and we've just been quietly in the apartment since. She went to bed not long after nine o'clock; now it's barely an hour later and I am prone to follow. Not all the way, for we are obliged to occupy separate beds for the next couple of weeks, until she has at least the semblance of a normal immune system again; even my poor teddy bear has been exiled from her company, despite his sterling work in keeping her safe from demons of the night.

Karen ate most of a bowl of soup for dinner, but I'm not sure how much she's actually kept down. Tomorrow she gets all her billion stem cells back again, which is Day Zero and the start of her whole new life (hereinafter she gets to celebrate two birthdays a year, and who could deny her that?), but mostly she's just going to be feeling dreadful and not at all like partying.

Indeed, there's not going to be any partying for a while. She'll be in neutropenia, where she hasn't enough white blood cells to fight off infection; she stays in the apartment and eats astronaut food, wears a mask, doesn't get to kiss me. People say that Netflix is her friend, but tonight she was too tired to watch TV, and the fatigue is likely to get worse rather than the other thing. I have no idea; we'll find out. And my own prospects likewise: I don't know how I'll get through these next weeks, for it all depends on her. But at least the worst of the treatment days are behind us. I'm seeking comfort in that. And going to bed as soon as I finish this bottle. My doctor was rather shocked to be told that I drank half a bottle of wine a day; let nobody tell her that these days it's a bottle and a half at least. At least. It's easier to be accurate, when Karen's not drinking at all; but it's harder to be abstemious, when there really isn't that much else to do. Wine helps, y'know? Of course you know. Who do I imagine I'm talking to?
[syndicated profile] languagehat_feed

Posted by languagehat

We talked about Sibe (under the alias Xibe) just last year, but this post by Ying Ding and Alan McLean is worth linking to because along with its basic introduction — “The Sibe (锡伯族; Xibozu) are one of China’s officially recognized ethnic minorities, with a populace of nearly 200,000. The Sibe are considered a Tungusic-speaking people, and in essence, the present-day Sibe language is nearly identical to Manchurian, which uses the adapted Mongolian script for writing” — it has samples of the writing, and (what really got me to post) audio samples of the language: four clips, beginning with Geren gucuse, baitakv na? Hosh (i)lahe na? Bi evad gerenofid emudan elhe sian fiansikie [“Hi, everyone, how are you? Greetings from me”]. I love being able to hear snippets of little-known languages. Thanks, Trevor!

(no subject)

Oct. 20th, 2017 04:20 pm
yhlee: a clock face in blue and gold (hxx clock)
[personal profile] yhlee posting in [community profile] hexarchate_rpg
I'm going to be out of town next week for work (yes, again--October has been a Month). I will have internet access unless something goes terribly wrong, but if I'm slow to respond I may be AFK or in transit, so please bear with me. I will do my best to check in daily, though.

I'm going to try to get Move 11 out on Sunday evening before leaving town (CDT / Louisiana), so if you have anything you want to wrap up in Move 10, see if you can get it in by the weekend. :)

EDIT: Per this thread, if any of y'all have business that you'd like more time to wrap up/play out, I'm amenable to delaying Move 11 a few more days as needed. Let me know!

Active in Move 10: Sulen, Virmad, Sasha, Iawa, Alaric, Mikodez, Ashari

Inactive: Yehan, Ankat, Kaliyan

In Memoriam: Julian May

Oct. 20th, 2017 05:11 pm
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Posted by Editor

Author Julian May (b.1931) died on October 17. May entered fandom in her late teens and published the fanzine Interim Newsletter. Her first professional sale, “Dune Roller,” appeared in Astounding in 1951, including original illustrations by May. In 1952, she chaired the TASFIC in Chicago, becoming the first woman to chair a Worldcon. She married author Ted Dikty in 1953 and began going by the name Judy Dikty. That same year, she sold the story “Star of Wonder” before dropping out of science fiction and fandom for several years. With the exceptions of two episodes of the “Buck Rogers” comic strip, she focused on writing for encyclopedias and non-fiction books under a variety of pseudonyms. “Dune Roller” was adapted for television in 1952 for Tales of Tomorrow and was filmed as The Cremators in 1972.

She returned to science fiction in 1976 when she attended Westercon 29. The costume she wore at the convention made her start thinking about the character’s background and grew into the six book Galactic Milieu series. Her return to the world of SFF publication took place in 1977 when she published A Gazeteer of the Hyborian World of Conan under the pseudonym Lee N. Falconer. She also wrote the four book Saga of the Pliocene Exile, which began with the Nebula and Hugo Award nominated The Many-Colored Land, and collaborated on the Trillium series with Marion Zimmer Bradley and Andre Norton. Health issues prevented May from participating in a panel with the living chairs of the other Chicago Worldcons in 2012, and in 2015 she was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame.

Cat Rambo, President of SFWA, had this to say, “May’s Pliocene Exile series combined time travel, Neanderthals, and fairies in a world that should not have worked, but did — and beautifully so. She portrayed moments of unison, a coming together of voices, in a way that gripped the heart and that will continue to inspire readers for centuries to come.”

seal script that looks like cat kanji

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:39 am
asakiyume: (miroku)
[personal profile] asakiyume
Wakanomori is providing me with all kinds of interesting items these days. For today, have some cat kanji. It looks made up, doesn't it? But it's a bone fide form of seal script--that is, stylized kanji used for signature seals. The source is 篆楷字典 (Tenkai Jiten), a dictionary of seal script (tensho) and kaisho, a very clear, blocky style used in inscriptions.

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

Oct. 20th, 2017 07:00 am
[syndicated profile] strangehorizons_feed

Posted by K. Kamo

There's a lot to like about Nicky Drayden's first novel, The Prey of Gods, a lively urban fantasy set in a near-future South Africa. It bears some comparison to Lauren Beukes's Zoo City (2010), and, much as that novel won its author the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2011, I wouldn't be surprised to see Drayden on a few “best debut” lists come the end of the year. Here and now, however, she's given us a world in which, instead of Beukes's magical animal familiars externalizing the characters' guilt, everyone has robotic “alphies” as their helpmeets. These robots are just beginning to become self-aware, and many are not so happy with how they've been treated.

The alphies are not the only ones embarking on journeys of individual emergence; there's a revolving cast of POV characters, each of whom, we very quickly learn, is hiding from the people around them a more traditionally internalized guilty secret. There's Muzikayise, star fly-half for his school rugby team, who harbors a crush on one of his teammates; Wallace Stoker, cismale politician by day and transgender cabaret act by night; and Riya, an incandescent pop diva concealing her MS from everyone but her drug dealer. In amongst these more mortal characters mingle Sydney, an ancient demigoddess reduced to slumming it as a nail bar employee, and the newly deified Nomvula, an eight-year-old with all the fresh reserves of power Sydney now lacks.

It further transpires that while Sydney and Nomvula are connecting with their inner goddesses, all of humanity is in fact descended from Earth's original deities. When a new designer drug called godsend appears on the scene it activates long-dormant aspects of its users' divinities, allowing individuals to manifest to other users as crabs and dolphins (this will make more sense later), while also giving them access to abilities such as telepathy and memory erasure. Sydney is the main antagonist, and she concocts a plan to spread a virus to make people even more susceptible to the drug. Nomvula is quickly swept into her thrall, and the other characters find themselves more or less unwittingly ranged against her. Throw in some mecha fights and genetic engineering gone wrong and it's fair to say there's a lot going on.

“Oh, man,” says Muzi. “This is bladdy sick.”

“Hey, Piece of Shit,” Elkin calls to his alphie. “Play artist Riya.”

The alphie obliges. Ambient music from one of the tracks from Riya Natrajan's latest album, Midnight Seersucker, fills the room. The discordant beats cut right to the soul, and her shrill voice sounds like a couple of tomcats in a blender, but oh man does it hit the spot. Muzi claps his claws to the rhythm of the snare drum, and just when he gets it down pat, his arms and hands become his own. (p. 8)

The prose is that most surprisingly controversial of things: “readable.” It trips along in a breezy manner which doesn't demand too much of the reader but which I really enjoyed—enough, even, to allow for sentences like, “Riya Natrajan goes to putty in his arms, damn him and his rugged masculinity” (p.170). While this is an absolute stinker of a line, and the writing not infrequently flirts with cliché, for the most part Drayden manages to avoid inadvertent eye rolls from the reader. Much of this is down to the obvious sincerity of the narration; it's not interested in playing wider games with irony or metatextual commentary, simply in being an exciting story well told. Simple, of course, is not the same as easy.

Much of the most convincing narration comes as Drayden (re)tells her world's creation myth. As far as I can make out, she's built this from scratch, and it certainly ticks all the necessary boxes: epic imagery; elision of the superlative and mundane; supernatural folly, hope, and redemption:

Each time I nearly died but was saved in the nick of time by a dolphin, then a rat, then a serpent, then an eagle. After six thousand years, I had six thousand children, each and every one with the power of gods. Those descended from the eagle could fly, and those from the peacock had beauty that made the others weep … I took pity on my crab children. They became my favorites, and I granted them each the power to bend others to their will. (pp. 93-4)

The language for these sections is more suitably portentous, but the generally chatty tone still creeps through (“in the nick of time” ) and is one of a number of things which in sum mean that The Prey of Gods feels a lot like YA. It's written in the present tense (though I recognize that thinking of this as “stereotypically YA” might be a personal foible), while the two characters with whom we spend the most time (Muzi and Nomvula) are respectively a teenager and a child forced to accept responsibilities beyond their years. All of the main characters have one (and only one) Big Secret which they hide before obtaining a more mature perspective and learning to accept who they really are, and thus every character arc is effectively a coming of age story—even that of the fully-grown politician with aspirations for the premiership, who must throw off the yoke of their controlling mother's expectations and be proud of their true self.

Feeling like YA is neither a positive nor a negative for any book, necessarily, but the deployment of some of its core tropes here is often quite unsubtle. Of course all stories, and genre stories especially, utilize tropes to some degree, but The Prey of Gods relies on them to do a noticeable amount of heavy lifting. It's perhaps no coincidence that I found the creation myth sections among the more successful, in that stories of this type are our oldest, tropiest of all. Creating one “from scratch” is in truth nigh on impossible, but their universality gives the writer license to openly rework clichés and well-worn patterns—license that doesn't extend so clearly to the rest of the book, where the borrowings are less narratively justified.

As a whole the book is diverting, entertaining, and somewhat rough around the edges. This roughness manifests in a few ways beyond the reliance on tropes, most obviously the short chapter length (there are fifty-nine spread across the book's 380 pages). This trick is often used with the aim of keeping the pace high and the pages turning, but its effect here was the opposite, chopping up the overarching plotline and slowing its development. As the close third-person narration is constantly rotating perspectives, we're with each character so briefly before jumping to another that it takes most of the book for any of them to establish themselves as individuals, and thus people with journeys worth caring about. This in turn is exacerbated by the authorial voice, whose easy charm beguiles but also undercuts the severity of what should be some devastating early plot points, and, more pertinently, doesn't vary much according to which of the characters' heads we're in. Sydney as an antagonist also doesn't really convince until the final act (and even then …), which likewise means the story takes a long time to gain momentum. A jump cut every six pages means there's a lot of hanging off not so much cliff—it's more of a staircase, and when the climb is so incremental the fall is much less perilous.

I've fretted more than usual about the balance of this review, because my overall memory of reading The Prey of Gods is that it was enjoyable if familiar fun, yet, as I revisit my notes one by one, I find that most of them are fairly critical. There's a lot to like about the book not least because there's a lot in general; one of its defining features is its eagerness to DO ALL THE THINGS and this cuts both ways. On the one hand, with so much happening there's almost bound to be something for almost every reader to latch on to. A slightly unexpected example was the way rugby cropped up in Muzi's storyline. I played a lot of this at school as well, and while I did wince at a couple of misfires (I can't imagine even the most empathetic of players having a five-minute conversation in the middle of a match to apologise for accidentally hitting a spectator with a ball), the intense camaraderie you feel as a member of a sports team at that age is very convincingly captured. Likewise, despite Riya's unpromising early characterization as Difficult Pop Princess With Sympathetically Tragic Backstory, she eventually emerges as an interesting and engaging character in her own right.

On the other hand, the scattergun approach means you're going to have to accept a number of misses to go with the hits. Rugby etiquette is a comparatively trivial example, and I'm unfortunately unable to speak with similar personal authority to the book's success with the far more consequential issues of LGBT representation. The alphies, however, fulfil the traditional role of robots in SF as a servile underclass on the verge of rebellion. To say that this has added resonance in a near-future South Africa would be an understatement, and yet the implications of this aren't addressed in any meaningful way beyond a general sense that oppression is bad and freedom is good. While the sheer vim of the book's overall execution is an inarguable positive, it would have been no bad thing to sacrifice some of its breadth for greater depth, regarding both theme and character. I've read entire novels successfully built around less than is suggested here of each of the main POV characters, but as Drayden presents them they struggle to rise above their single notes—and there isn't quite enough control to consistently maintain the harmony.

It's not quite tomcats in a blender, but I think ultimately this book, more than most, will stand or fall on whether the reader gets on with its voice, whether they find the overall tone sufficiently melodic to carry the ragged polyphony of characters and plot. For my own part, if not everything about The Prey of Gods worked, then the balance was clearly in the positive. Given the explosion of ideas in her debut novel, Nicky Drayden seems unlikely to run out of things to write about any time soon, which I can only regard as a good thing.


To Be Read By Rod Serling

Oct. 20th, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Deedeedeedeeedeedeedeedee

You unlock this bakery with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension.

A dimension of icing.

A dimension of piping bags.

A dimension of wreckitude.

You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of bad taste and even worse skill. You just crossed over into...

The Twilight Zone.


BUM BUM BAAAAAHHHH...

 Picture, if you will... a monkey. This monkey:

I know, creepy right? [shivering] Brrrrrr. Totally.

 

[resuming serious announcer voice] Ahem. Now picture, if you will, five ravenous-yet-dim-witted Shih Tzu dogs:

[sternly] Let's call them Muffy, Boopsie, Precious, Buttercup and Mr. Snuggles.

 

Now picture, if you will, a face of terror that watches in malignant silence far beyond your present capacity to understand. A face enigmatically bizarre in terms of time and space. A face...

...of a tweety bird.

 

 Now picture, if you will, Meerkat Zombies...raising the roof.


"What up, playah?"

 

This is the stuff of fantasy, the thread of imagination, the ingredients... of the Twilight Zone.

 BUM BUM BAAAAAHHHHH... SQUEEDLEDEEEE!!!


Jennifer P., Matt N., Christine S., and Melanie L., picture, if you will... a dolphin eating a Snickers bar in flip-flops and a cardigan. Then tell me what that looks like. I've always wondered.

 

Note: A couple of people suggested the pictures should be in black and white which was an awesome idea. So we changed them. I think it adds to the ambiance, don't you? For those who really want to see the full color versions, click here.

UPDATE! LeAnna and Woobie took up the dolphin challenge and sent in their ideas.

 

First LeAnna's:
AWESOME! Check out the flip flop thongs on his flippers.

 

And next we have Woobie's
See, the snickers bar is wearing the cardigan and flip flops because I apparently have no grasp of sentence structure. ?thought Who would have

Touché!

 

One more!
This one's from Vanilla Smoke. Awesome!

 

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

the Last Good Idea

Oct. 20th, 2017 12:00 am
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October 20th, 2017next

October 20th, 2017: TODAY'S MY BIRTHDAY! Looks like *I* completed an orbit around the sun and now deserve a moderate slice of cake!!

– Ryan

happy music

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:32 pm
yhlee: Texas bluebonnet (text: same). (TX bluebonnet (photo: snc2006 on sxc.hu))
[personal profile] yhlee
Because today has been a Day for uninteresting reasons, I present to you a song that makes me happy: Anne Murray's "I Just Fall in Love Again" [Youtube].

(I'm Texan. I grew up on country, okay? ^_^)

Feel free to link to Youtube versions of songs that make you happy! I expect yours are less mushy than mine. ^_^

Today's ambiguity

Oct. 19th, 2017 10:47 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
"Resent" is both how one might feel about being told an email never arrived and also what one might do in response.

Wait

Oct. 19th, 2017 10:47 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The month was only half over last weekend. How can it be almost three quarters over only a week later?

The Primordial Gound.

Oct. 20th, 2017 12:34 am
[syndicated profile] languagehat_feed

Posted by languagehat

Yes, you read it right, that’s “gound.” Justin E. H. Smith’s unsettling… essay? … for The Public Domain Review will explain it. Eventually. It begins (after a brief bit of throat-clearing):

Benno Guerrier von Klopp (1816–1903) was a Baltic German philologist, of French Huguenot origin, who studied at the University of Saint Petersburg and made most of his career as an academician ordinarius, while also spending a good portion of his later career at Jena. Klopp is remembered principally for his contributions to the study of Baltic and Slavic linguistics, not least his 1836 dissertation on the disappearance of the neuter gender in Middle Latvian, and his groundbreaking 1868 study of the morphosyntax of the Old Church Slavonic verbal prefix, vz-.

Significantly less well known is Klopp’s work on the development of the mature philosophical system of Immanuel Kant, a fellow Baltic German who may have been more familiar with the languages and customs of that region than other scholars have detected. In fact, if Klopp is correct, Kant’s first-hand ethnolinguistic researches extend well beyond the Baltic. While Klopp’s 1873 book, Die geheime Sumatrareise Immanuel Kants, is not found in the Library of Congress, or even in the supposedly comprehensive online WorldCat, I have been able to locate a copy of it in at least one place: the library of the faculty of Baltistik at the University of Greifswald in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Don’t miss the footnotes, which include tidbits like “Yakov Brius (also known as Jacob Bruce, 1669-1735), was a Russian statesman and scientist. Like Kant, he was of Scottish ancestry. He conducted astronomical observations from the Sukharev Tower in Moscow. It was rumoured among Muscovites that Brius practiced black magic in the tower.” And hang on to your hat!

Plugin Problems

Oct. 19th, 2017 07:06 pm
jimhines: (Shego - Facepalm)
[personal profile] jimhines
My Journalpress plugin is no longer posting things to Dreamwidth. I've seen reports that this is due to a change Dreamwidth made in their site security or configuration, but I'm not sure.

I'll be looking for solutions, but in the meantime, you can always find everything on the website at http://www.jimchines.com/blog/

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