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The trouble with things getting very busy in a tedious work and family medical issues way is that when you return, you have zero interesting things to say to fandom and posting continues to not happen. I was doing sort of well with trying not to forget DW/LJ beforehand! Bah.

I did get my hands on Pratchett's Raising Steam which...it's a Discworld novel. If you like those, you've probably already decided to read this one. If you haven't read any, don't start here, it's basically "I like trains and here are many characters I hope you're already attached to." I am, in fact, attached to many of them, so I won't deny that I enjoyed that bit, but otherwise, it's a little flat, though perhaps less so if you're already as devoted to trains as he clearly is.

However, let us discuss the strange things he's decided to do with gender lately. So Spoilers for both Raising Steam and I Shall Wear Midnight )
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Cautiously pleased with this week's Community!

spoilers )

Definitely feeling better about everything than I was!
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Elementary! I am very bad at watching it on time, but this season has done some lovely things with character beats! Less lovely things with ripped from the headlines plots, but Joan and Sherlock continue to delight.

I read Sarah McCarry's All Our Pretty Songs. It's very well-written, and managed to have a first-person teenage protagonist who did not make me instantly fail out, which is difficult. However, er...the ending (spoilers) )

Someone come argue with me about this because it was weird and made me cranky.

Something that does not make me cranky are Tripp Tracy being awkward about how he has so many feelings about EStaal because he watched him grow up, and he loves Brind'Amour, but it can never match his love for EStaal because he didn't get to watch him develop. Oh, Tripp. Never change.
opusculasedfera: Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in copper and blue Oilers uniforms hug on the ice after a goal. (oilers)
I'm delighted by how many new hockey posts there have been on lj/DW lately! Conversations have been happening! I have multiple lj comments to answer! It's exciting. I've missed this. Hello new people! (Also, if you added me and I've somehow failed to notice, let me know! I'm dreadful at keeping track.)

I appreciate how Jeff Skinner's taste in media is totally 12 year-old me. I wasn't really a Cassie Clare fan, but I ate up equally ridiculous things with a spoon, and also read the Scarlet Pimpernel a bunch of times. I don't really know how to work this into fic, but I feel it should be done.

Dutchy's been kindly updating us that he's off to Vail, and I have high hopes! I mean, I wrote 40k with mistfarer about two pictures from last year (coming soon! editing is the worst!), so clearly it doesn't take much.

Slightly grumpy about the Shaw Festival's Guys and Dolls production, which I saw this week. It wasn't bad, but c'mon, you're the Shaw festival! You've got your pick of Canadian actors! Why on earth was the choreography that awkward? It was amateur theatre choreo, where people are enthusiastic, but also not necessarily all up to the same standard. But these were definitely all trained dancers. The two times they gave them something interesting to do, they were clearly wildly competent. But they didn't get much to do, and clearly hadn't been rehearsed enough because their unison was shitty. It was very odd.

I get making e.g. Nathan Detroit a poor dancer as a characterisation decision. But the whole point of musicals is that you don't need to explain why Unnamed Gamblers 6-14 are doing choreography. They just DO. Also the female lead needed to stop slouching. It wasn't at all a period slouch.

Not a terrible production, but it could have been so much better! I have had all the songs stuck in my head for days though, so clearly it succeeded on some level.
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It took me an age, but I finally caught up on Welcome to Night Vale. Still highly recommending it for fans of humorously creepy things, and also can now speak to how intensely adorable the canon queer relationship is (and it is very adorable.) Now to dive into all the fic! :D

I also watched Broadchurch. In two days, so I can't complain that it wasn't compelling, but the ending rather annoyed me. Olivia Coleman is wonderful, and, spoilers )

Also, there is every chance I'm using this entry as an excuse to not write my big bang, oops.
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I just want to shake virtually all the authors who contributed to Queen Victoria's Book of Spells and point out that people were, occasionally, from time to time, happy in the 19th century, no, really. I'm only halfway through, but so far every single story has essentially been: "HERE IS MY ONE PIECE OF RESEARCH ABOUT THE PERIOD. Now, some sexual assault and/or child abuse, in that setting!"

You can't just start a story with "The governess occupied a liminal space in the household." That's the opening to an undergrad essay. Not that Victorian governesses were unaware that their position was odd and uncomfortable, but they certainly didn't talk about it like 21st century academics. I love research, but it doesn't all need to appear in the story. It's especially disappointing because some of these authors have written quite acceptable historical novels which didn't feel over-researched at all.

On the other side - no middle ground apparently allowed - there are people who have learned a single detail like cholera outbreaks being blamed on miasmas, and then written a story about vague impressions of the Victorians (big dresses! mistreating women! the poor had it badly off, but apparently not enough to actually talk about anything from their point of view!) to stick it in.

I'm all for writing steampunk/gaslamp fantasy that acknowledges the ways that the Victorians screwed over a lot of people, and a lot of people living in Britain at the time were not living the sparkly fancy lives of the heroines of society novels, but does it have to be this dismal?

Perhaps the second half of these stories will be better, but I am not hopeful so far.

Equally aggravating was Mike Brown's How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming where the science was so heavily doused in smugness that I felt firmly on the side of the scientists who had attempted to scoop his discovery of Kuiper Belt objects, and was entirely prepared to believe that they had tried to take him down because he was so pompous, rather than, as he put it, perhaps being terribly, terribly mistaken about how science works and what first really means. Just tell me about planets. I don't want to hear about how awesome it was to propose to your wife. That is a story for people who already care about her, which you did not manage to make me do, though I'm sure she's very nice.

I have been enjoying Ursula Vernon's Dragonbreath books, but I would like to find some actual adult reading that didn't make me want to tear my hair out, no matter how charming her tiny reptiles are, and how unreservedly I would recommend them to any small child of your acquaintance.
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Disappointed in Pratchett's Dodger. I feel like non-secondary world stuff is simply not his milieu. He seems to need the secondary world to keep him from going on and on about what research he's done. Leonard of Quirm is funny because he is clearly Leonardo da Vinci, only not. Joseph Bazalgette isn't funny because he's just Bazalgette, possibly with a slightly more humourous nose. There's no surprise of recognition, he's just a guy that existed. Even when it's not quite so on the nose as that, there are still only so many times one character can refer to "Karl, who I met once in Europe and who had such interesting ideas about the working class" before I want to beat everyone involved with the shovel of yes-I-HAVE-heard-of-Marx-thanks.

He appears to have forgotten that everyone finds his footnotes charming because they have jokes, not just because they say "yes, these things really did exist!!!!" We know that London, etc. did exist. We know that people were impoverished and smelly by modern standards. We know that women had a lot of social and legal problems. None of this is news. The book was basically Heyer-level farce plotting pasted over shouting about did you know that ladies and poor people had it difficult in past times and also people didn't bathe as much????? Only Heyer wrote lots of books about women having actual emotions, and this was manpain central.

I might have enjoyed it more if this was actually my first introduction to all of the history, but as it was, it was a disappointment.


In other news, writing my bigbang sort of proceeds. At the moment, it's mostly self-indulgence about people falling over, and making bad jokes while they make out. We'll see if this actually transforms itself into plot/something readable.
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Super disappointed in the Kamikaze Girls manga (which I was only reading because my local library doesn't have the original novel anyway.) It starts really well. The first of four stories is basically the story of the movie, and it's essentially the manga summary of my dreams. It's all gorgeous shoujo drawings that, according to all the shoujo tropes it gleefully uses, cast Ichigo and Momoko as, respectively, the hero and heroine of the story! Moments where Momoko Suddenly! Sees! Ichigo and it's all hearts and sparkles and omg she's so cool! Moments where Ichigo looks at Momoko and thinks she's beautiful! It fucking ends with Momoko whispering "I really, really like you!" as she rides on the back of Ichigo's scooter. It is amazingly gay, in all the best possible ways.

So I was blissfully rolling around in all of the practically canon queer, and then I got to the second story, which is basically "Guess which one of these awesome bi ladies needs a man!" (The bisexuality is non-canonical, but I can't read them as anything else, given their canon attraction to men, and how incredibly gay they are for each other and occasionally other women.) It was such a let down. And then the third and fourth stories were about some totally different people, and were all about pairings with giant age gaps blackmailing each other into relationships, and were very unpleasant for me.

Basically, go watch the movie instead, because it is the BEST. The unlikely friendship of a yanki/biker girl, and an incredibly misanthropic lolita! They stick up for each other, help each other through shit, become competent in their own ways, become best friends and fall in love! But skip the manga.

(If you need more convincing, go watch this vid, which does a great job with the way that the movie is gorgeously stylised, and yet punctures all pretension every possible chance it gets. I can't say enough good things about how this movie is both incredibly cynical about everything, and yet so kind. It mocks the ridiculous aspects of lolita every chance it gets (for example, wearing fancy clothes to walk on a dirt road used by farm animals), but is so completely understanding that people do ridiculous things because they get some genuine satisfaction or meaning out of them, and has such affection for those sincere emotions.)
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Hockey fandom really, really needs to read Ken Campbell and Jim Parcels' Selling the Dream: How Hockey Parents and Their Kids Are Paying the Price for Our National Obsession. It's both a terrifying look at the systems that produce NHL players, and a wonderful source of bizarre facts about current players.

Essentially, the system, as it currently stands, is kind of fucked )

Campbell and Parcels do spend what seems like an excessive amount of time arguing with Malcolm Gladwell )

On a less depressing note, this book is also a delightful source of peculiar hockey-player facts. Some of it is evidence that particular guys' parents were kind of obsessive (though for me, no one beats the couple who lived in a boat in the Toronto Harbour for a couple of years so their son could play in the GTHL.)

Among others: Matt Duchene, Carey Price, Stamkos, the Staals, Giroux, and Ryan O'Reilly )

1They also keep criticising his statistic that nearly the entire roster of the Medicine Hat Tigers - as a random example - was born before August, by pointing out that Tyler Ennis (Oct 6) was actually one of the few guys off that team to make the NHL, which is a terrible fucking point to make off a dude who has publically complained that he spent his childhood getting cut from teams before he ever got a chance to try out entirely because he was "too short" (he is now 5'9"). He's not exactly your poster-boy for the idea that parents don't need to get involved.
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I'm enjoying the new season of Community! Spoilers )


I finally finished reading Ankaret Wells' The Maker's Mask. I have no idea why it took me so long to read because every time I picked it up it was fabulous. Strongly reminded me of Kirstein's Steerswoman books, in the best possible way. Spoilers for both follow )

Something more closely resembling a review, though decidedly scattered: Spoilers for the Maker's Mask only ) Highly recommended, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.


I have no words for that Avs-Oilers game last night. It was ridiculous in all the best ways, though I am divided between delight over the Oilers' comeback and how well (nearly) everyone was doing (Nuge scoring! Maggie having a second big goal! Hemmer and Ebs with two each!), and the strong feeling that Dutchy is going to stab someone if the Avs don't start improving soon (and I really don't know if they can, after their completely unbelievable slew of injuries).
opusculasedfera: Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in copper and blue Oilers uniforms hug on the ice after a goal. (oilers)
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It's certainly different from other Pratchett: a lot less meta, a lot more SF. It's not bad at all...

The essential premise is that humanity finds itself able to 'step' sideways onto alternate Earths and voila, enormous, unimaginable social change. Which is all very well and good. The problem is that, in order to demonstrate the scope of the social change, the first bit of the book spends a LONG time introducing more and more characters. Which is generally Pratchett's strong suit, but perhaps he was restraining himself from wackiness because this is a book ostensibly set in the near-future of our Earth, only it meant that his protagonists seemed quite a lot duller than his minor characters who actually seemed to have strong opinions and interests.

Once the plot properly picked up, the book improved dramatically. spoilers )

When the sequels come out, I'll probably get around to reading them, it wasn't a bad book. But it was the sort of SF that is very much about thinking through a set of ideas rather than characters, or even plot, and I found that the angle at which Pratchett and Baxter came at those ideas seemed quite off to me.


The Canes won last night, which was delightful, and also the Canes' announcers (who are a joy in general) seem really, really determined to make me ship EStaal/Sasha. Seriously, they will not stop talking about how well they play together and how good their communication and chemistry is. There's also so much gushing over how EStaal apparently praises Sasha to them, and now I really want the fic where EStaal has too many feelings about how great having Sasha on his line is and this somehow ends in makeouts?

The Oilers are much more tragic because holy shit, boys, what the fuck is D, do you even know? But Dubi has been seriously excellent and made them way less tragic than they could have been, and Gags has a nine game point streak which is not bad at all and makes me ludicrously happy for him. Also I have a lot of feelings about Nail being an candidly Muslim player and what that means in Canada (Nail retweeted this, which he does for a lot of fans, but it's still delighting me.)
opusculasedfera: Avatar Korra throws her head back and laughs (delighted)
I saw the Hobbit movie! )

Also I was totally sad that the fake trailer beforehand for a movie in which Megan Fox does science with dolphins, and doesn't have to take off her shirt ONCE turned out to be a computer ad. I don't think she's a great actress, and I don't actually want to see that movie, but I think it should exist because her current typecasting has all been really shitty for her, and also women doing science!
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Have now read Code Name Verity after approx. a million recommendations. Everything they said about it being brilliant is quite true. If you want to read about women pilots and spies in WWII, this is absolutely what you should read because it's fantastic. I was seriously impressed by Wein's historical research; she says in her afterword that she focused on plausible rather than exact and it worked very well. I never had a "what? NO" moment reading this, which is pretty rare for historical fiction, and her fictional place names plus accurate attitudes worked a million times better than exact place names, but the addition of women who are far too modern. As she says, there were loads of women working in these fields, and they did tons of things during the way, but they didn't get to be equals with the male pilots, and their working conditions were very, very different, which doesn't mean you can't tell stories about the incredibly important and interesting things they did! Just make them realistic.

however, spoilers )
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I have mixed feelings about the last episode. spoilers )

On a more cheerful note, I accidentally caught the end of the 1940 Laurence Olivier Pride and Prejudice movie which is amazingly tone-deaf. The actors were trying very hard, but they had to contend with a script that had cut huge swaths of the book in favour of adding extra scenes that made Darcy into way more of a dick, for no apparent reason. Spoilers, I suppose, though I think those who care have probably read it already and it's not like I'm recommending this movie... ) Overall, not a good movie, but it was pretty funny if you were willing to sit there and baffle at the choices the director made and try to place the variety of mismatched period costumes the costume department had found.
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I watched Goon this weekend, which I have been meaning to see since someone recced me this fic which is adorable and perfectly IC.

Goon was charming. I was kind of iffy about it because it's all about a guy becoming an enforcer, and I'm not really into hockey fights between guys who are actually able to hit each other because that shit's dangerous (I will admit to being amused by hockey fights between guys who are super terrible at it). But the movie was also kind of sketched out by it! It understands the appeal to the spectators and why the players like it, but is also pretty aware that people get fucked up out there and that it's not really the noblest thing ever. I was also super impressed by the movie's politics: the lead, Doug, is Jewish, his brother is gay, and the female lead is so, so great. cut for spoilers )

In actual hockey news, I am excited for game 6 tomorrow! I was surprised the Devils managed to pull off 4 and 5, but I don't think they'll be able to win four in a row. Go Kings! \o/
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Read Rumer Godden's Greengage Summer today because I'd loved her books as a kid and it invariably takes me an embarassingly long time to realise that authors I read as a child might have written anything else. Realised about half-way through that it was probably good I never found it as a child because it belongs to a genre I found intensely frustrating as a kid.

Cut for plot spoilers )
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Just finished reading Frances Hardinge's The Lost Conspiracy/Gullstruck Island and it was delightful! (An aside: why do US publishers insist on changing the names of UK books and why do Canadian library systems deal with this by acquiring both editions and cataloguing them completely separately so you can only tell they are the same book when both holds arrive? Cross-referencing is your friend.)

Set on a not!Pacific island colonised by not!Europeans, this is the story of Hathin, a Lace girl (the Lace are a particularly oppressed indigenous minority on this island) brought up to take care of her sister, who everyone hopes will turn out to have magical powers that will increase the social standing of her family and village, but may in fact merely be developmentally disabled in some way, a fact which Hathin is required to conceal from everyone around her. And then everything goes straight to hell and it all gets deliciously complicated.

Spoilers for plot and ending )
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Reading Patricia McKillip's Solstice Wood and realising that her narrative voices are all rather similar, aren't they? I do like her work a great deal and I am enjoying this one, but she generally doesn't write in first-person and when she does, as she does in SW, the voices are so similar that every time she switches POVs it takes me a couple of pages to notice, which really shouldn't be happening. It's still a beautiful narrative voice and I do love her prose, but this really made her particular quirks so terribly obvious. OTOH, she has thereby managed to write a first-person novel that doesn't bother me, even though it's really not my favourite authorial choice, so how much can I really complain?
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So I have seen Bunny Drop recced around as an adorable manga that's like Yotsuba& (which everyone should read instead of this because it's fabulous forever) but more realistic, and the beginning lives up to this, but I have...reservations...about the ending.

It begins the way everyone says it does: Daikichi adopts his grandfather's illegitimate daughter (he's 30, she's 5 or 6) when she shows up at the grandfather's funeral and no one seems to know what to do with her. He discovers that raising a kid is actually quite difficult. But then...

Spoilers that could also be warnings, plus going on at length. )I can't really recommend it, although I would like some people to read it to see if my reactions are uncommon. I know a lot of the recs I saw earlier were at least a year or so ago when the last volume hadn't come out and presumably people didn't know this was what was going to happen, so I'd like to see if this changes things for people.


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September 2016



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