beccastareyes: (Together Again)
So, this is an entry that's probably a bit late, and spawned by last month's announcement of the nominees of the Hugo Award, a voted award for science fiction and fantasy stories. Basically, an author encouraged his fans to vote for a nomination slate to fight the liberal-feminist-diversity hold on SF fandom. Because most other people don't coordinate their nominations en masse, they got some works on the ballot. And, now, as a Hugo voter, I have to decide if I want to read them. Especially given that at least one of the organizers got booted from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America organization for using SFWA's official twitter to promote his essay insulting a fellow SFWA author in particular and non-white people and women in general.

Now, I know that an author is not the same as his or her works. On the other hand, I think an author's view of the world shapes his or her writing.

For instance, if I am writing a romantic couple that consists of two women, and I want a happy ending, that is shaped by what I find happy. Since I like romance and don't find anything wrong with any sort of sex between consenting adults, I can totally write them riding off into the sunset together as a happy ending. On the other hand, an author who genuinely doesn't believe that a same-sex couple is a good thing probably wouldn't write the couple staying together (or wouldn't write it as a good thing, or is writing erotica and is aiming more for 'hot' than 'emotionally satisfying').

So, if I know someone is racist and sexist (and also a jerk), I know that at best, I get 'good but problematic', but... well, there are too many books out there to read things that the best I can think of is 'good but...'. I'd prefer to take a chance on things that could be good with no qualifier and aren't going to lead me to wonder if the author's worldview is bleeding through.

Also, I don't like the collusion. Thankfully, it's harder to do on the award, since everyone votes on the same five works.
beccastareyes: Image of woman reading.  Text: hopeless bookworm (bookworm)
So, once again I'm voting for the Hugo Awards, Science Fiction and Fantasy's major awards. Sure, it costs money, but I get all kinds of free ebooks and magazines and comic PDFs (sadly not free movies and TV shows).

So I figure I'd blog about what I read. Especially since this year I'd actually read four of five novels up for best novel before they were nominated.

What people liked in 2012, my take )
beccastareyes: (Pancake angst)
I feel like I should say something clever, but I don't got any of that.

My allergies, even with pills, are in the stage where I feel like there is something caught in the back of my throat. I've been reading a lot, so I should do a book review or two, but a lot of the books were re-reading the ones on the Hugo List. I'm done with the novels, and I could probably read the two novellas I own. It's kind of nice to know what I'll be voting for now, though I suspect that my top choice will not win the Hugo.

Writing and drawing is slow right now. I need to kick my muse in the butt. Maybe this weekend.

Also, I need to clear out all the books and clothing I own that I'm not going to use. More and more it sinks in that I expect to move in less than six months, which means clearing out years worth of... well, crap... I've accumulated. (maybe I shouldn't have skipped the clothing swap a couple of weeks ago, even if I mostly gave things rather than picking anything up.)

Also, i really should learn how to drive this summer.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
I find Nnedi Okorafor an interesting author. She writes these amazing, creative children's/YA stories like Zarah the Windseeker and Akata Witch, and also writes amazing adult books that are in no way for children. (Seriously, while I loved Who Fears Death, it got dark enough at times that I doubt I'd be able to reread it.)

Anyway, so I finally got a copy of Akata Witch, which has been described as the Nigerian Harry Potter.  )
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
So, I picked this one up from [personal profile] anke who was getting rid of some books. The Eyre Affair takes place in an alternate late 20th century England where, among other things, people are obsessed with classics of literature and art. Most people have an opinion on things like who authored Shakespeare's plays, and it's enough that people can break into fist fights or political movements. The main character's hometown has a long-running community production of Richard III structured more like the showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show than any play I've seen. It's actually a bit like... well, a lot of Japanese action series where everyone knows a certain card game, or incorporates martial arts into their normal job, or has a job involving cute and trainable pet monsters.

There's also things like low-grade magic )
beccastareyes: Image of woman reading.  Text: hopeless bookworm (bookworm)
An article on polyandry came across my feed today. Basically it mentions a paper that came out re-evaluating how common polyandry (one wife, multiple husbands) was in modern and historical societies: mostly showing that, contrary to 'the common wisdom' it happened in more places than just 'a part of Tibet where land is scarse, so often brothers marry the same woman so the family doesn't have to split the land'. (Also, it looks like one of the co-authors was a University of Nebraska anthropology prof -- go big red!)

The article notes that polyandry in societies are one alternative when for some reason the sex ratio becomes skewed towards more adult men, and in societies with little class structure (because I gather patrilineal inheritance matters less). And it made me nostalgic.

When I was in high school, I read a lot of 'classic SF' and that included Robert Heinlein. )
beccastareyes: (have a nice sol!)
The nice thing about Christmas is new books and time to read them. The Fall of Kings is a book set in Ellen Kishner's Riverside series. Thankfully it was set decades after Swordspoint, the first book, because I only vaguely remembered the events of that one. (I remembered I liked it, and I found out that my used copy doesn't have the short stories that the reprint has... perhaps I should fix this.)

I remember hearing about <em>Swordspoint</em> on a podcast (the SF Squeecast, I think), that noted that for a book published in 1987, it did two interesting things. )
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
So, a week(ish?) ago, I happened to get into a fan discussion about Reborn!/KHR on Plurk. Now, all I know about the series is from friends, but it's about Tsuna, an unlikely Japanese schoolboy discovering he was the heir to a Mafia family and that it started as a gag comedy manga but the author eventually decided to try to plot something. One of the points of Tsuna's characterization was that he was a good kid who was determined to not compromise that even if he was the head of a Mafia family.

So my Plurk friend was ranting about how fans of the series were all 'Mafia = serious business' and therefore that the logical thing would be for the series to crush Tsuna's innocence until he had to act all ruthless and how a Mafia boss should act, rather than have the plot be about Tsuna's conflict between duty and idealism* and let that take it where it may.

I commented this is a lot like how some Avatar fans reacted to the end of Season 3 of Avatar: the Last Airbender.

Spoilers here! )

And I'm still going! )

* I mean, this isn't an uncommon theme, especially in shounen anime/manga. The protagonist is an idealist. Usually he has an ally or rival that is a pragmatist. When he confronts the antagonists, he has to choose if he wants to compromise his ideals for a better shot at winning, or try to stick to his guns and win.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
So, Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht was a difficult novel for me for about the same reason Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okaofor was; I don't mind reading things that are set in a darker era (real or fictitious), but afterward, I want the literary equivalent of something sweet and fluffy. A bit like drinking black tea with pastries.

Anyway, Of Blood and Honey is set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.  )
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
I actually finished all the novelettes for the Hugos last night, meaning I've read for four awards. I might do the novelettes and short stories in one post, rather than do these.

Hey, it's a story involving time travel (sort of) and WWII and not Nazis!

'The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary' is told as if we're watching a documentary from the near future, the ever classic 20XX. )
beccastareyes: (discourage dreams)
First off, Cat Valente has incredibly rich prose, full of imagery. Silently and Very Fast is basically a story told in stories to describe the relationship between machine intelligences and human intelligences.

(The first part is here)

Elefsis is a machine intelligence that used to be a house, modeled by his creator as a lares familiar, a 'god of the household' like the Romans worshiped.  )
beccastareyes: Image of man (Kain Furey) doing something electronic.  Text: geek at work (geek at work)
I'm into the Hugo novellas! Hooray! Yes, I'm cheating and skipping A Dance with Dragons. If I finish everything else in two months, maybe I'll go back and read it.

Anyway, Countdown is a prequel to Mira Grant's (aka Seanan McGuire's) Newsflesh trilogy telling the story of how we accidentally made the dead rise. It was originally published as a series of short pieces on her LJ running up to Deadline's release in May 2011, and you can still read it like that. Orbit did release an ebook version of it, and a paper copy is coming out from Subterranean Press (as When Will You Rise).

One of the things I appreciate about Grant's zombie books is that while scientists can be the bad guys, science isn't. )
beccastareyes: Image of spacecraft from PlanetES.  Text: One more word and I WILL turn this spaceship around and damn the delta-v (turn the ship around)
So, I mentioned this previously, but I was able to enjoy Leviathan Wakes, despite me critiquing the orbital mechanics and realizing that recent science* would throw a monkey wrench into the plot. But I'm used to that; sometimes things shape out that way.

So, Leviathan Wakes hits a sweet spot in SF for me by being about the time when humankind has the Solar System as its playground but hasn't moved to the stars.  )

* Recent science that a member of my research group is doing!
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
I took a break from Hugo Reading 2012 to read the final book in the Newsflesh trilogy, Blackout by Mira Grant. There are spoilers in this post for the previous two books; so caveat lector.

(Oh, content warning. The Newsflesh trilogy features a relationship between an adopted brother and sister. Nothing more intimate than kissing is ever shown on the page; but it's all but directly stated that it is a sexual relationship.)

So, <em>Blackout</em> picks up from the bombshells that <em>Deadline</em> dropped. )
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
I'm discovering that hard SF where you're bouncing around the solar system means my Inner Skeptic actually pays attention to people other than me and my writing.

Probably because I've spent most of my adult life following NASA missions. Maybe because I read Heinlein in high school, and Heinlein learned orbital mechanics for his solar-system SF. There might be Martians and Venusians and a spin-locked Mercury*, but by golly, things moved like they should.

But when you're gallivanting around the Solar System you have to remember that things are all moving at different rates.

Nerdity Ahoy! I'll be good and not do the math here, though. )

I feel really weird that things like this bug me enough to make petty ranty journal posts about it. Also, yes, I have calculated things like 'what's a good timescale for going from X to Y assuming no magic physics that let me ignore that if we accelerate too hard, we kill the passengers'.

* This is a SFnal dating technique: look at what things we thought we knew at the time but turned out wrong. So Mercury's rotation makes me go 'wait, what', but a quick check to the publication date makes me go with it.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
So, I've reviewed Fuzzy Nation before, but I just reread it. Or thought I reviewed it before, but heck if I can actually find that entry, despite looking for two hours. (Whoops.)

Fuzzy Nation is what John Scalzi calls a 'reboot' of H Beam Piper's book, Little Fuzzy. Basically Scalzi took the initial premise of Piper's book and told it his way, and figured it would be more intellectually honest to ask Piper's estate if he could publish this rather than scrubbing the serial numbers off. I haven't read Little Fuzzy, so I'm working from what I think of Scalzi's writing.

So, Our Hero Jack Holloway, is a disbarred lawyer turned prospector and a Grade A Asshole. )
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
So, I decided to do the [livejournal.com profile] 100things_index, a challenge to write 100 blog posts on a topic or topics. Mine is going to be 'stuff I've read'. There may be some repeats from my book reviews, since I'm on the 'reread until I get the Hugo voter package'.

001: Deadline by Mira Grant )
beccastareyes: (writing)
There be spoilers here. I'll keep anything that's not spoiler-rific outside the cuts if you want to read it anyway.

I read the sample chapters to Mira Grant's (aka [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire) upcoming book, Blackout. And something caught me...

Spoilers for Feed and the sample material from Blackout )

There's another one in when Seanan McGuire asked who would win in a fight, Georgia, or the heroine of her other series, October Daye. Seanan noted that, while George was a better shot, Toby had one advantage.

Toby is known as working blood magic: she can use blood to see through another's eyes, even if they died. Moreover, she grew up in mid-century America. Georgia grew up in post-Rising America where any sign of blood was a risk of someone becoming a zombie, and any fluids from a zombie could spread the disease if they got into your body. So, Georgia has a reflexive avoidance of blood because of this, something a character from a setting that doesn't involve zombies just wouldn't have. Especially not a changeling that needs blood to work some magic.

Another worldbuilding detail that I didn't think about until the author pointed it out.

Spoilers for Feed (the same ones) and also old Heinlein juvenile SF )
beccastareyes: Image of woman reading.  Text: hopeless bookworm (bookworm)
I'm reading Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, specifically the final book. And I got to thinking about the structure of trilogies. It seems like, even if each book in the trilogy has a plot, the trilogy itself has a pattern of the first book ending on an up beat, and the second on a down beat.

Some examples to explain what I mean )

So, I wonder if this is inherent to the construction of a trilogy. I can think of counter-examples: N. K. Jemisen's Inheritance trilogy doesn't quite have a downbeat second book, but I might have to reread it as a trilogy, rather than as a series of stand-alone novels. The Lord of the Rings... well, I have to go back and see where Tolkein cut the story, since the films changed things up. And discussing the differences there might be a post into itself. I can think of plenty of trilogies that do do this -- even darker stories, like [personal profile] seanan_mcguire's Newsflesh trilogy have a more upbeat first book end than second book end.

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