effex: Books (Books)
I haven't been reading many book-books lately, mostly endless amounts of fanfiction. And then, two weeks ago, I decided I was going to read all of [personal profile] copperbadge's Stealing Harry (there's an ePub and everything!). It was apparently a run up to something since, in the last 7 days, I've read 6 books. Discworld books! I'm working on the Watch books - currently through to The Fifth Elephant - with a detour into the more general Ankh-Morpork stuff. Moving Pictures (just finished), The Truth (up next), etc.

I flipping love Discworld, you guys. And I never really made it past the late 1990's, chronologically-wise (aside from the YA books + Monstrous Regiment), so there're 8+ books I've never read before. It's like Christmas.
effex: (Have fun storming the castle)
The most that can be said for the dwarves is this: they intended to pay Bilbo really handsomely for his services; they had brought him to do a nasty job for them, and they did not mind the poor little fellow doing it if he would; but they would all have done their best to get him out of trouble, if he got into it...There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much. (The Hobbit, Chapter 12)


Yeah, this is where the dwarves' incompetence stops being funny and starts being full of fail. 

I've been ribbing on the changes PJ made to Tolkien's elves, but the changes he made to the dwarves are just as drastic and for the better (not perfect, but better). They're still a bunch of dudes who have no idea what they're doing and constantly need saving, but 

1) They all pretty much have personalities and distinct characterization - maybe not entirely memorable - but, 13 dwarves. 13.

2) Thorin has gone from pompous and self important to bitter and MAJESTIC, which is brilliant. IDK if his entrance into Lake Town was supposed to be cool or something, but I was cringing in embarrassment.

3) Their motivation has shifted from GOLD and also revenge to ~reclaiming their homeland~ (and also revenge). I wonder how that's going to play out once the movie!dwarves get to the Lonely Mountain? I can't see them making the same choices/being the assholes (or the same kind of assholes, anyway) as the book!dwarves.

Man, these are a lot of thoughts for a movie I was mostly ambivalent about.
effex: How we roll in the shire (How we roll in the shire)
I should note, however, that Peter Jackson is faithful to the source when it comes to Thorin and Company. They have no idea what they're doing and have to be constantly rescued (first by Gandalf, later by Bilbo) in the book and, by god, PJ sticks to that.
effex: Books (Books)
I've been rereading The Hobbit, for reasons, and have just reached the dwarves-in-barrels bit.

It's wondrous. And introduces us to Galion, the drunk, cranky, elf butler. He's one of two elves to get a name in the book (and Elrond is apparently only mostly elf). Not anyone else in Rivendell, not the Elvenking (party-dad Thranduil), not any other wood-elves. Just Galion. The elf butler.

I hope we get to see him in the next film - this reread has demonstrated that elves as they appear in The Hobbit are pretty different from Peter Jackson's elves. Less, heh, majestic. I don't know if Peter could handle an elf who got stinking drunk on his king's wine with his best head-guard bro, fell asleep on the table, then got cranky and defensive when other elves woke him up and made fun of him.

Though these are Legolas' people, and if ever Peter Jackson made an elf lacking majesty, it's Legolas. I say this with love.
effex: ...um (...um)
My current bus!read is Erik Larson's 'The Devil in the White City' (EDIT: I should probably say what the book is *about*), an account of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, the men who built it, and the serial killer who hunted it.

I'm 2/3 of the way through and, while a lot of it is interesting and informative, I'm mostly finding it to be ridiculous. Larson's a big fan of the 'little did they know/but ~tragedy~ was soon to strike' school of foreshadowing, which is especially eye roll worthy in nonfiction. I know you need narrative tension, dude, but cut that shit out.

It's heavy handed with the emontional manipulation - lots of speculation presented as fact, lots of manufactured drama. Also incredibly rich-white-dude centric with regular side trips into straight up racism. Larson's incapable of mentioning the Native Americans working at Wild Bill's, for example, without throwing in the way they totes used to slaughter/scalp white folks.

I'm learning a lot about Chicago, but I'm pretty close to putting the book down and just wiki-ing the damn fair.
effex: Something doesn't make sense (Something doesn't make sense)
I just sped through the end of Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad and find myself 1) giddy, the wierd giddy that comes at the end of an intense read, and 2) frustrated.

Spoilers under the cut )

Readin'

Jun. 20th, 2012 10:12 pm
effex: Books (Books)
I've been trying to restrict my book buying due to lack of place to keep them, but it turns out they sell books at thrift stores and I am only so strong, you guys. $.89 paperbacks is more than I can resist.

Then Mom finally sent the box of emergency books I packed back in December and lo, my bookless bus-riding existence is over. This week (Wednesday to Wednesday), I have read:

* Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers

* The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

* Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

*The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

* (Currently half of) The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust

I liked Zahrah in particular - loved the world-building, loved how legitimately terrified Zahrah was for most of her journey (due to legitimately terrifying danger), loved Zahrah to pieces. Immediately phoned my fifth-grade teacher of a brother and told him to add it to his library, sold it as 'since you liked Un Lun Dun and Half World...'. It feels like it's set up for a sequel, though - anyone know if one's in the works?

I'm enjoying Coyote Kings a lot, but there's some iffy gender and sexual ID stuff that I'm not sure Minister Faust is doing on purpose. Probably? They're so on top of everything else it's hard to believe they're falling down on this.

After that, either King Maker by Maurice Broaddus or Zoo City (or Moxyland, haven't decided) by Lauren Beukes.

Book recs?

Oct. 12th, 2011 04:13 pm
effex: Books (Books)
Can anyone recommend reading on early human history? 250,000 - 50,000 years ago early, covering the appearance of modern humans and/or early human migration? I'm poking through the relevant articles on Wikipedia and they seem more... disjointed than usual.
effex: Holy keyboard Batman! (Holy keyboard Batman!)
I've skipped a couple weeks and people keep posting things, so this is a long one. Fair warning!

* First out of the bag, #yesGayYA. For those who haven't read it, he original post by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith is here: Authors Say Agents Try to “Straighten” Gay Characters in YA. [personal profile] cleolinda has the best/most exhaustive coverage I've seen and [personal profile] coffeeandink has a good roundup of pertinent links.

* Related posts not mentioned above include [livejournal.com profile] swan_tower's Followup on "Say Yes to Gay YA" and [personal profile] bookshop's YA Publishing & the de-gaying of books.

* Speaking of co-written YA books, while I was typing this up Justine Larbalesteir and Sarah Rees Brennan announced one of their own! It's apparently about girls and female friendship and vampires and it's got a girl of color smack dab in the middle of the cover. I am excite.

Moving on:

Links about food )

Links about US politics )

Links about interesting things )

Pretty pictures )

ETA: For The Next Few Days, Portal Is Free! For the computer, and you have to sign up for Steam to get it, but still. Sweet beans.


effex: Out of ideas (Out of ideas)
* I've finished Quentin Crisp's The Naked Civil Servant, James Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son, and am halfway through Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Reviews of the first two will be along when my brain starts working again (I've been trying to write them since Thursday and have nothing but a blank, mocking GoogleDoc to show for it).

* I've also finished Season 2 of Parks and Recreation, which means I have no more excuses about starting my [community profile] scifi_fest fic (Parks and Rec IN SPAAAACE), and I'm caught up with Sanctuary (I still love this stupid show), Tiger & Bunny, and Blue Exorcist. The last couple episodes of S2 of Fringe and S1 of The Wire are waiting for me on my harddrive, but I've got a weird mental block about finishing both.

* Tiger & Bunny makes me sad - it's not a bad show but it's failed pretty hard in a couple of places and generally isn't living up to its potential. What happened to the show the first few episodes promised me?

* Blue Exorcist, on the other hand, is exactly the ridiculous shonen candy fest it introduced itself as. I adore it (and Rin - I love Rin so much).

*~*

In Other News: Richard Dawkins is a privileged ass. I mean, he's been a privileged ass for a long time, but the skeptic community has finally noticed. Sort of. No one seems to be pointing out his rampant Islamophobia ('a man known for defending women against religious oppression' my ass, holy shit) and the general tone is apologetic (not just on Bad Astronomy, either).

In related Other News: I've cut PZ Myers' Pharyngula from my blogroll in response to, yes, rampant Islamophobia. This brings the number of atheist/skeptic blogs I read down to zero - good job, western atheist blogosphere.

(I keep asking this, but) Anyone know if a half-way decent atheist/skeptic blog has popped up in the last couple of months? There's a major void here.
effex: Love of SCIENCE (Love of SCIENCE)
The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
Brian Greene
2005, 592 pages

Brian Greene has a knack for making physics theory accessible. He doesn't over-simplify or cut any corners (as far as I can tell, anyway) - instead, he goes over each topic thoroughly before moving on, refers to early chapters when they apply to something new, and uses plenty of pop culture references (the chapter on quantum entanglement is essentially an extremely geeky X-Files fic). I've now read both this and his earlier book, The Elegant Universe, and have been very happy with both. If anything, this was an easier read than The Elegant Universe. Possibly because I was constantly applying it to Fringe, Doctor Who, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Fandom: The Ultimate Retention Aid.

Before reading, my knowledge of everything past basic quantum mechanics was pretty patchy - I didn't know anything about the Higgs mechanism, the details of M-Theory, or Brane Cosmology, and now I do! Greene's a big proponent of string theory so I still don't know much about loop quantum gravity (an alternate contender for the Theory Of Everything), but I suppose that's what the Internet's for.

The only downside is that the book was published in 2005 and, while there haven't been any major breakthroughs since, the information's still six years out of date (I didn't notice until Greene started talking about the construction of the Large Hadron Collider as a future event). Again, Internet, it's for porn research. Already it's told me Greene put a new book out earlier this year, which I'll have to pick up once it drops in price a little.

There wasn't as much discussion of time travel/extra-dimensional travel/etc as I was hoping (for [community profile] scifi_fest purposes), but it gave me a good place to start from.

effex: Books (Books)
Library: An Unquiet History
Matthew Battles
2004, 256 pages

I picked this up, appropriately enough, at the Library of Congress bookstore. I mean, a book about libraries! At the Library of Congress! Clearly we were meant to be.

The book doesn't really have a cohesive narrative/driving point other than 'libraries, they're awesome!' - Battles covers the great libraries of antiquity (Alexandria, the Qin imperial archives, collections of Aztec codices) and the burnings thereof, then winds his way through ancient Rome, medieval Europe, the Islamic golden age, the Renaissance, the colonial US, the US during Jim Crow, Nazi Germany and the Jewish ghettos, and eventually into the modern era, covering the emergence of the book, the emergence of the library, the librarian, the public library, the library catalog, and some awesome librarian feuds. It's a lot like listening to someone knowledgeable ramble on their favorite thing.

There's a lot of casual referencing and asides that only make sense if you know who the Medicis are, what the Crusades were, where Bosnia and Herzegovina are, etc, but it's otherwise easy to follow and an entertaining read.

My two main complaints are 1) the Western-centrism (libraries only exist outside Europe/US if they burned, books apparently never made it south of Egypt or Mexico, etc) and 2) the book design. Seriously, the kerning in the middle chapters was terrible and what's up with the typeface used for the title? It's bad.


Next up: The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene, selected because I'm writing Puella Magi Madoka Magica fic for [community profile] scifi_fest and need to brush up on my space/time.

effex: Books (Books)
I've given myself permission to quit reading A Princess of Roumania (Paul Park) because it is boring and I've been halfway done with it for two weeks (because it is boring). The writing is too dry for my tastes and the characters almost inaccessible. Mmm, or shallow. Insubstantial? Yeah, we'll go with that. Also, I dislike the way the Baroness Nicola Ceausescu was written (it's hard to dislike a villain when she doesn't understand her own thought processes or motives. Or root for an anti-hero, same problem).

I'm also giving myself a pass on Tongues of Serpents (Naomi Novik) and Changes (Jim Butcher) - I've lost interest in both series.

Instead, I've cracked open Library: An Unquiet History (Matthew Battles) and it's an excellent read thus far.
effex: I'm the Doctor (I'm the Doctor)
Things I'm reading:

I'm still working on my To-Read pile - I finished Charitable Getting, but the review wants to be either one sentence ('I love this book but it's really, really white') or a multi-page academic analysis, so I'm sitting on it until it settles. I'm currently on A Princess of Roumania.

I've also recently finished the first volumes of Chew, The Invisibles, iZombie, and Persepolis, along with American Born Chinese, Skim, and The Vesuvius Club. Yay, comics!

I may or may not have bought another three books at Half Price over the weekend.


Things I'm Watching:

Fringe! Roommate D is a big fan and watching season 3 with her has finally convinced me to go back and watch season 1 (Abrams has burned me before). I'm on episode 14 and it's fantastic. All of the love for this bizarre little gem of a show <3.

Doctor Who, obviously. The new season has been awesome and creepy and awesome and creepy so far, I'm so glad my show is back on my TV.

Tiger & Bunny, which is an anime about a reality TV show about superheroes. It's like someone made a list of my favorite things and checked them off one by one - reluctant partners with homoerotic subtext, a diverse cast, explicitly queer characters, well rounded women, wacky hijinks, commentary on the media, celebrity, and the shaping of identity, and general ridiculousness.

It's not perfect - it's barely passed the bechdel test, dispute having four women in the main cast, and I'm still waiting to see if Fire Emblem (a queer black man) will allowed to be more than 'the flamboyant gay one'. There's hints that he's 'the one who owns his own company and sponsors himself and can do whatever the fuck he wants, including being flamboyantly gay and a respected superhero' and I hope they continue in that direction.

Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi - there's a fun story here, buried under the stupid tropes and sexual assault, and I enjoy the look inside the manga industry. Unfortunately it's... buried under stupid tropes and sexual assault. I'm kind of rewriting it in my head while I watch, we'll see how long I can keep it up.

I'm way behind on Community, Wandering Son and Sanctuary, woe.


Three Weeks for Dreamwidth:

I want to do something but I don't have any ideas. If there's anything you've ever wanted me to talk about - food, books, movies, Dallas, college, miniature horses, art, religion, whales, doujinshi, music, queerness, whatever - let me know!


SciFi Fest

The resource post for [community profile] scifi_fest went up yesterday, chock full of science blogs, articles about space battles and examples of science fiction in fanfic. Only 10 days until prompting starts, I am excite.
effex: Books (Books)
Magic or Madness
Justine Larbalestier
2006, 271 pages

Note: I read this in three hours while high on NyQuil (I still am, if we're honest), forgive me if the review's a little choppy.

I liked this a lot better than some of the other YA Urban Fantasy I've read - there's no info dump, information about the world is given organically throughout the story. Two of the three PoV characters are girls and PoC (and it passes the Bechdel test, hurray!). The magic has very real consequences. There isn't a vampire/werewolf/fairy in sight (not that I dislike those things, but it's refreshing).

I love that the main character, Reason, loves maths and food. I love that she's...mmm, uninformed? about a lot of stuff but not naive or stupid. I love that Tom, our boy character, loves fashion and making clothes and is straight (or interested in girls, at least). I've never seen a modern, straight-identifying boy character allowed that before. I love Jay-Tee and how kind she is, despite everything, but I wish we knew more about her. I love boiling hot Sydney and frozen New York.

I do not love the book's depiction of mental illness. Slight spoilers. )

I'm not fond of the 'adults can't be trusted' trope either, being mostly one myself these days. It's YA, though, so pretty par for the course.

This is the first book in a trilogy and I'm more than interested enough to track down the next one. After I work through my pile.
effex: Books (Books)
I haven't been reading many books lately - fanfic, yes, comics, yes, news articles/essays/blog posts, yes, but the only books I've gotten through this year are Hiromi Goto's Half World and a couple about art.

I'm still buying books, though, and the 'To Read' pile next to my bed has become unwieldy. This is tragic on a number of levels, so I've made a plan. 1) I cannot buy a new book until I've read three unread ones and 2) I will post reviews of the books I read here, to keep track. My plans are prone to failure, but I like reading and I like talking about books, so.

The list:

Changes by Jim Butcher
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier *
Charitable Getting by Sam Starbuck
Boneshaker by Charlie Priest
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
Rocket Girls by Hosuke Nojiri
Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles
Titan by John Varley
Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
The Court of Air by Stephen Hunt
A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park *
Prince of Fire and Ashes by Katya Reimann *
100 Selected Poems by ee cummings
China Mountain Zhang by Maureen E McHugh
Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock
The Annotated Persuasion by Jane Austin

...yikes. And that's after setting aside the books I was going to reread.

I'm starting with Magic or Madness, since it's short and on loan from [personal profile] sitara (that's what the * mean). Larbalestier's been hit or miss for me - I liked Liar and was 'eh' about How to Ditch Your Fairy - so we'll see how this goes.
effex: Holy keyboard Batman! (Holy keyboard Batman!)
A quick one today, for I am ill and also swamped at work (hurray).

* There are major protests going on in Egypt and Yemen and smaller ones going on in Libya, Jordan, Algeria, and other North African and Middle Eastern countries. There have been several protester deaths in Egypt and the Egyption government is attempting to shut down internet access and restrict information...and the twitter feed I'm following (@SultanAlQassemi, an Op Ed writer for The National) says army vehicles are moving into Cairo. This is a big deal, folks. Al Jazeera has a spotlight on Egypt, BBC News - Middle East has general coverage. Mother Jones has 'What's going on in Egypt, explained.'

* [personal profile] colorblue has a followup/link roundup to the last round of Book!Pirates: piracy & literary festivals

* Speaking of book pirating, History is a weapon has the entirety of Howard Zinn's 'A People's History of the United States' online. Fellow USians (and anyone else who's interested), if you haven't read this yet you need to. Know your history.

* The first Potluck food carnival, as hosted by [personal profile] glass_icarus, is live! YUM.

* [community profile] notgreenorblue, a characters of color in comics fest, is open for prompt claiming! I snagged 'Jaime Reyes, an a/u in which Jaime Reyes is part of the Young Avengers' because I am incredibly predictable.

* Porn Battle XI is up and running until Feb. 3rd!

* [livejournal.com profile] bb_shousetsu is still taking signups for their all-women Bang*Bang Special #1.

* [community profile] purimgifts is open for signups

* [community profile] festivids has gone live! Sweet, sweet vidding goodness. I'm especially fond of Space Oddity (Community).

* [personal profile] talitha78 has a roundup of three incredible non-festivids vids.

* [personal profile] the_future_modernes has a post up about pretty, pretty dreadlocked dolls.
effex: default (Pretty darn gay)
Projects done, projects shipped, everyone's at the tradeshow, they've fixed the heat... feels like things are finally settling down. HURRAY. Got a bunch of links for the readalong (it's been a busy week, wow), that'll go up tomorrow. In the meantime, a ~personal~ update:

Current fannish activities: I made a Sulu/Chekov fan-mix for [personal profile] bossymarmalade's fandom stocking! And... that's about it, though I'm in the planning stages for four different projects. Wooo, projects.

Currently watching: 'The Game', 'Parks and Recreation', and 'Coffee Prince'. Waiting for 'Sanctuary' and 'Community' to come back (next week for community, fricken April for Sanctuary) and 'Doctor Who' to start, very exciting.

My roommates got me into watching 'The Game', which I hadn't heard of before - it's smart, funny, thinky, has all sorts of relationships and dynamics and is generally SO MUCH BETTER than I was expecting a CW show about football to be. I hope the new season on BET is just as good.

Currently reading: 'One Piece' (over at [community profile] readathon!), 'Borderlands/La Frontera' (been working through this forever, just have some of the poetry to finish), 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism', 'So You Want To Be A Wizard', and 'Rocket Girls'.

ETA: ALSO! I've got 6 Crunchy Roll all-access guest passes, one of which expires tomorrow. I think you have to sign up to use them but don't need payment information. Let me know if you want one!
effex: Gratuitous Abed icon (Gratuitous Abed icon)
Current fannish projects: Finished my [community profile] intoabar story, waiting on the amnesty round (whenever that is) so I can post it. Got my Yuletide assignment (which is *not* for a fandom I added at the last minute and a pairing I've never thought about), hurray! Still poking at the Inception/Hikaru no Go crossover and a Yusuf/Saito drabble.


TV I'm watching: Community (current season), Sanctuary (current season), Lost Girl (current season), and Monk (season one).

Sanctuary got good, you guys. Even though they've toned the Henry/Bigfoot vibe way down (woe!). And how cool is that city hologram puzzle thing Helen and Tesla are working on? And they're actually dealing with Will's PTSD! And referencing Ashley and the Cabal! And writing plots that make sense! And have emotional impact! And Kate is awesome and has a character arc! And there are lots of women and PoC (and woman PoC) who aren't defined by being woman and PoC. Show, you have grown so much.

Kenzie and Trick are my favorite Lost Girl characters; my roommates want to put a giant picture of Dyson on our living room wall.

Community continues to be the best.


Books I've read: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire, Summon the Keeper, The Second Summoning, and Long Hot Summoning by Tanya Huff.

Wasn't particularly impressed by Rosemary and Rue, though I might pick the next book up at the library. Wish I had reread the Keeper books in time to nominate them for Yuletide, I'd love some Diana/Kris or Lance/Dr. Dammit, what was his name.


Books + comics I've bought*: Titan, Wizard, and Demon by John Varley, Neveryóna by Samuel R. Delany, China Mountain Zhang and Mission Child by Maureen F. McHugh, Bambi and Her Pink Gun, v2 by Atsushi Kaneko, Dogs: Prelude, Vol. 0 by Shirow Miwa, Baker Street: Honour Among Punks and Baker Street: Children of the Night by Guy Davis and Gary Reed, Mondo Urbano, v1 by Eduardo Medeiros, Mateus Santolouco, and Rafael Albuquerque, and Queen & Country, Operation: Broken Ground by Greg Rucka and Steve Rolston.

BOOKS. I'm excited about Mondo Urbano, Rafael Albuquerque was my favorite artist on Blue Beetle. The Baker Street books are about a queer, female, punk re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes (set in the 1980's) and are fabulous thus far.

* Over the last five days, mostly in Berkeley, how did I even get them home.
effex: :D :D (:D :D)
This weekend, I:

Bought and watched 'The Losers' (vague spoilers) )

Saw 'Inception' (vague spoilers) )

Fic recs for 'The Losers' and 'Inception' )

* Read 'Soulless' by Gail Carriger, which I disliked intensely. I had planned a rant for this space but, honestly, it's not worth the effort. Suffice to say I found it clunky, cliched and stereotyped past offensiveness (Lord Akeldama and his prancing droney-poos, oh my god). Also, the steampunk was pasted on.

* Started setting up my workspace! We were using my personal/freelance PC to run the TV, but I've borrowed my sister's old tower off from parents to use instead and moved mine over to the desk (also borrowed). Tonight I'll unpack my many, many art supplies onto the nearby shelves and set up the peripherals (printer, scanner, data storage). Hurray for having a creative space again!

* Played Dragon Age: Origins. I'm only just past Lothering (heading into the Circle Tower) and holy cow, I love this game. Not gonna lie, I started playing to see the hot elf-on-man action, but then it turned out to be good. And full of Alistair, whom I adore (why can't my dude bag him instead? Do want!).

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