yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
My first introduction to Cordwainer Smith was "The Game of Rat and Dragon," which I'm guessing (alongside "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell") is his most anthologized story based on nothing more than guesswork and the fact that, for years after that story, it was the only Smith I could find. (Admittedly, this was not helped by spending high school in South Korea. [1])

"The Game of Rat and Dragon" has stuck better in my memory, but at some point in college I was delighted to discover that there were more Instrumentality stories. The one that I remembered, years later, as being particularly interesting was "The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal." Peculiarly, I remembered that it had an unusual narrative structure/format, but not anything useful about its plot. Cue yesterday when I actually reread it, having checked out the posthumous collection When the People Fell from the library, and being bemused to discover that this story was almost certainly, before I ever heard of fanfic on the internet, my introduction to mpreg.

A spoilery discussion of the story follows beneath the cut.

[1] My high school library's sf/f holdings were very eclectic. They had a couple decades' worth of Analog under Stanley Schmidt. I read every page of every issue available, and remain fond of the zine although I have not read it in over a decade. They also had old classics like John Wyndham's Re-Birth, amusing curiosities like a litcrit book on the best fantasy novels by Michael Moorcock (possibly with a co-author; I no longer remember) in which he immodestly listed his own Stormbringer, a number of old Nebula anthologies, and a copy of Harlan Ellison's (ed.) Dangerous Visions that I read two or three or four times before someone else stole it or, more charitably, checked it out and lost it. (Years later, I still think Philip José Farmer's "Riders of the Purple Wage" was insufferably boring, and Delany's "Aye, and Gomorrah" makes zero sense when you are barely aware of what sex is.) They had Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, which is where I encountered them. On the other hand, the librarians were very friendly, and for a number of years, because my sister and I were the only ones who made use of the request box, we pretty much got them to buy whatever we wanted to read for the year.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 03:41 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
[personal profile] jesse_the_k tells me all the cool kids are doing this:

what boxofdelights likes to talk about

row 1: my kids; gardening; tutoring; the fanfic community; Octavia Butler;
row 2: stories; books; autonomy; Wiscon; storytelling;
row 3: dogs; Rachel Maddow; math; different points of view; raptors;
row 4: introversion; puzzles; podfic; logic; making people laugh;
row 5: compost; R.A. Lafferty; science fiction; due South; ecology;

I made this at http://myfreebingocards.com
I picked 25 topics that I like, and that I like to talk about.
I let the web page randomize the placement. I was lucky that "my kids" didn't end up in the middle.
I clicked "Play Online Now" to get an image I could snip.

Check off the things that also interest you and see if we have a bingo.

Home again

Jun. 23rd, 2017 12:29 pm
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
Home late last night after a lovely, lovely train journey up the coast to Portland, and then east to Minneapolis. Once I got there, I bumbled my way to the delicious breakfast place my daughter and I found last year (The Buttered Tin) and after that, in perfect weather--low seventies, cloudy, tiny drops of rain--made my way to the hotel for Fourth Street Fantasy.

Other than a somewhat jolting experience at the opening ceremonies, which made it clear yet again that many of those who have always assumed their perfect safety in any circumstance (and who thus find argument entertaining) simply do not comprehend the paradigm for those who have always had to be wary, to at least some degree, while maneuvering in public spaces. I trust that learning happened.

After that, things went so very well. So many great conversations, over delicious food. Interesting panels, lovely weather. Another thing occurred to me: I so seldom get that quick-back-and-forth of conversation, as my social life is about 95% online, that I found myself frequently behind a couple steps. At least, I think it's due to that and not (I hope) to me dulling with age.

The con was splendid right to the last moments: my return train was to leave Mpls. at ten-ten that night, and I did not particularly look forward to sitting at the Amtrak station for six hours, but I didn't have the discretionary cash for adventuring about. However after delicious ice cream sundaes (yum, yum, yum!) [personal profile] carbonel generously offered to take me home, then drop me at the station, though it was not even remotely in her way.

My six hours passed so pleasantly it was emblematic of the entire weekend for me: after the fast pace it was so nice to sit quietly, watch some BBC animal planet documentaries . . . and, to my utter delight, the resident kitting--after doing considerable showing off by leaping to wall and ceiling beams and down again--curled up in my lap to purr. When you realize that I rarely get to see cats except in youtube vids when the news is too fraught, you will understand how that was the perfect close to an excellent weekend.

Thence an equally lovely train trip back, much reading and some writing achieved.

And this morning, I hauled my aged bod to yoga, for a much-needed session. This last couple weeks has been all about the head. Exhilarating, but not good for the bod. I used to be so active, until the arthritis turned all my joints into a constant ache; now exercise is something I have to do, so I've some tricks to keep my lazy ass in gear.

Anyway, it occurred to me as I sweated and stretched that the fundamental good of yoga is to strengthen all those muscles we otherwise do not notice that hold the body upright. Especially someone like me with rotten posture (I've had the child-abuse shoulder hunch all my life, and when young fought against it in dance, constantly hearing, "Shoulders down, Smith!" The only time I didn't have it was in fencing, oddly enough) it's easy to turtle. But I feel much better and stronger overall when I keep up with the yoga.

So--that, and to my desk to catch up!

A bit of writerly stuff to pass on: an indie writer I met through a fantasy bundle project last summer, C.J. Brightley, has put out a call for fantasy stories of the uplifting sort, and asked me to pass it on. Submission data here.
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
Bad news: I just woke up now. Good news: I slept six hours. Frankly, after this week, I'll take it. A few things off the internet before I head out to meet [personal profile] rushthatspeaks and Fox and later [personal profile] phi

1. Solaris has put up a hexarchate faction quiz for Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire! I got Shuos, which is not what I was expecting. Maybe I flunked the trolley question.

2. Girl of the Port (1930) had almost no internet footprint when I watched it—I could find links to contemporary reviews on Wikipedia, but almost nothing by anyone closer to me in time. By now it's been reviewed by both Mondo 70 and Pre-Code.com, clearly from the same TCM showing. Honestly, this is pretty cool, even if I wish it were more like discovering and promoting a cult treasure than a thought-provoking trash fire.

3. I have been meaning to link this poem since Juneteenth: David Miller's "Hang Float Bury Burn." I wish I knew where to nominate non-speculative poems for awards.

Dear suspiciously rotund cat

Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:56 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Not my cat, not my house. Please don't be pregnant.

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:40 am
yhlee: voidmoth with starry wings in a triangle (hxx emblem Nirai)
[personal profile] yhlee
Which faction of the hexarchate are you? [Solaris Books].

A quiz! I get Nirai...?!

What other Nicolls are up to

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:15 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
My niece Ilia and nephew Jake are appearing here:

Read more... )

Religion and sexuality

Jun. 23rd, 2017 03:12 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
Recently two special interest groups I'm second degree connected to have been involved in scandals around religious attitudes to homosexuality.

The leader of a tiny UK political party, the Liberal Democrats, resigned because
To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.
And a tiny UK Jewish denomination, Orthodox-aligned Sephardim, are up in arms because R' Joseph Dweck taught something about homosexuality in Rabbinic sources and commented
I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I don’t think it is stable and well…but I think the revolution is a fantastic development for humanity.


This stuff is minor on the scale of things, but the media love the narrative of gay rights versus religious traditionalism. Anyway lots of my friends are religious Jews or Christians who are also gay or supportive of gay people and other gender and sexual minorities. So lots of my circle are exercised about one or both of the incidents.

opinions )

Weekend To Do

Jun. 23rd, 2017 08:34 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
1. Write and submit PW review. Probably Sunday, so I can work in the library near where I'm attending a concert that night.

2. Rest strained/pulled muscle (possibly hip abductor) whatever it is so it gets better.

3. Venture out for concerts Saturday and Sunday nights.

4. Laundry? If my muscle is better. It is raining a lot this weekend, so I might not want to trek to the laundromat for that.

5. Try not to be too frustrated with my injury.

the gift of fear

Jun. 23rd, 2017 02:40 am
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
I do think that there is value in Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear, even though it doesn't work for me. It doesn't work for me on either end: I'm not much good at understanding strangers' intentions, and don't want to spend enough time and attention on strangers to get somewhat better. And I am good at attracting extra attention from security people, even though I don't intend to steal, smuggle, or damage anything. I don't know how much of that is racism, how much is missing communications cues because I'm partly deaf and have not much peripheral vision, especially on the same side as my deaf ear, and how much is behaving oddly because when I am in a crowd of strangers I am spending a lot of energy wishing that I were elsewhere, and hoping to escape with the least possible eye contact, talking, and being touched by strangers. But just by being myself I soak up enough security personnel attention that anyone who does want to steal, smuggle, or damage things should use me as a stalking horse.


Friday evening I was walking to the library with Aiko. I was on the north side of the street, heading east. I saw a couple walking toward me, but there was a break in traffic and I crossed the street before we met. On the south side of the street, Aiko was uneasy. He kept stopping and looking back. I looked back too, and saw the couple that had been on the north side of the street, going west, were now about half a block behind me, on the south side of the street, going east.

Well, people do change their minds and turn around. But Aiko would not settle down, so at the next street I turned south. The couple behind us also turned south, but I was on the east side of the street and they were on the west. I stopped and let Aiko sniff for a while, so I got to the next intersection after them. They crossed to the south side of that street. I did not. I turned east. They also turned east, and continued to walk about half a block behind me, on the other side of the street, for about seven blocks. Then we were in a well-populated area, and I didn't see them again.

I am a short fat old woman, and my hands were encumbered. I had library books in one hand, and a leash and a bag of dog poop in the other. But I was walking a German Shepherd! How did they plan to assault me without getting bit? Also without getting a bag of dog poop in the face? Though it was one of the good bags, and probably wouldn't have burst even if it had hit. Also, I didn't have any money on me, though they didn't know that. I was wearing a fanny pack, which is where my wallet would have been if I was wearing my wallet. I thought about taking my phone out and taking their picture, but they had dropped back far enough by the time I thought of it that it wouldn't have been much of a picture. The fanny pack has the kind of buckle that you squeeze to open. Probably they planned to run up beside me, grab the buckle, and run off with the fanny pack before Aiko could react. They would have got my phone and my housekeys, and could probably figure out where I live from the phone.

Anyway, I do think that there is observable, identifiable behavior that signals that one human being is looking at another human being as prey, and I think Aiko observed and correctly identified it.
erinptah: (daily show)
[personal profile] erinptah

The latest season is on Netflix now, so it's time for me to work through more of this incredibly watchable show about terrible people.

For those who need a brief refresher:

Do you like The West Wing? Do you like Leverage? Would you like a series that's cross between those two shows? How about a series that thinks it's a cross between those two shows, but missed the memo that a big part of the appeal was the main characters being likeable, competent, and out to do good things? Well, Scandal is that last one.

Our heroine is Olivia Pope, a freelance fixer of political problems with a reputation for being supercompetent, brilliant, and heroic. Before canon started, she had already helped rig the US Presidential election to put her (Republican) (also married) boyfriend into office. The first few episodes follow a mini-arc where she is asked to defend the reputation of a woman who also had an affair with said President. Olivia yells at this woman for being a lying liar. Olivia is proved wrong.

This sets the stage for a pattern where, halfway through any given case-of-the-week, whoever Olivia is defending will turn out to be evil, and whoever she just shot down will be revealed as the true victim. She is aided by a motley crew of employees and allies, some of whom are already terrible people when the show starts, others of whom compromise their morals over the course of the series. They've covered everything from war crimes to murder to perjury to torture.

An illuminating example: One of the employees (Abby) idolizes Olivia for rescuing her from an abusive husband -- now if only it stopped there. Later, Abby and a much-nicer love interest (David, also a legal ally of Olivia's) come perilously close to uncovering Olivia's Presidential-election-rigging. To get them off the trail...Olivia plants information that triggers Abby's abuse-trauma, manipulating her into a panicky and tearful breakup. Neither Abby nor David finds out Olivia orchestrated this! Both of them continue to idolize and adore her! The writers still seem to think we should too!

At the end of season 5, there were maybe 2 characters that were likeable human beings. Senator-turned-VP Susan Ross, who pleasantly surprised me by flat-out quitting her job rather than sell her soul, and governor-turned-Dem-candidate Francisco Vargas, whose soul is still up for grabs.

Liveblogged the first episode. Might end up doing the same for the whole season, depending on how commentable it is.

Onward!

 


 

Season 6 opens on the night of a presidential election, and it all comes down to...California. That's right, folks, in the Scandal universe, California is a swing state.

Also, Olivia is chastising her staff to vote if they haven't already. I mean, hey, just because they're reporting totals on the west coast, that doesn't mean the polls can't still be open! Our competent political-genius heroine in action, folks.

Frankie won. So now Olivia is berating her candidate (Mellie, also her boyfriend's ex) to call and concede, which seems like the smart and reasonable move. Knowing this show, that means we will eventually learn it totally the wrong move.

(I like Mellie and Olivia being friends. For all that they're awful, their fighting with each other was pretty evenly matched -- not one abusing the other, they both gave as good as they got. And it all stemmed from their rivalry over Fitz, who is painfully not worth it.)

Dammit, they shot Frankie. He might escape becoming awful by dying.

Obnoxious agent: "Ma'am, I'm sure you have some security clearance..." Abby: "No. I don't have some security clearance. I have all of it."

Hits all the beats and all the right emotions of a badass smackdown scene. Logically, undercut by the fact that Abby didn't show any security clearance. If you're going to waltz into a hyper-secure operation (the hospital) and start barking orders, have your badge in hand! (Also, her entire order was literally "don't let anyone in here," which I'm pretty sure they were already doing.)

...yep, they killed Frankie.

Olivia yells at her father (ex-leader of the government's Evil Secret Black Ops Division): was he behind the killing? Well, we're 22 minutes in and she's yelling at him, so I bet not.

Mellie just wants to go on vacation and leave this all behind. Now that would be the smart and reasonable move. (She never really wanted the job in the first place. She wants power in the abstract, but has no interest in doing anything in particular with it. Five minutes later she'll forget all her reasonable plans and decide she wants it again.)

Now Olivia's convinced it was Cyrus (part of the Fitz conspiracy, now VP candidate for Vargas) who had the candidate murdered so he'd be promoted to the top of the winning ticket. But we're only 27 minutes in, so she's probably wrong. After all, the Electoral College hasn't voted yet, so Cyrus would be taking a pretty steep gamble on them not abandoning the Vargas-Cyrus ticket even with half of it gone.

Olivia storms into the hospital. The same hyper-secure hospital that nobody was supposed to be let in. And finds Cyrus in mute, trembling shock. Who could've seen that coming?

Fitz: "I wanted you to be right. You're always right." Dude...have you never seen this show?

He ultimately supports the EC supporting Cyrus, which is the right choice as far as the will of the people is concerned, although both he and Mellie are impressively awful choices who should not be trusted with this country.

Vargas' widow is still in the hospital after a sleepless night, still covered in blood from standing next to the shooting, but for some reason her hair and makeup is still flawless. D- for realism, makeup department.

...So the last five minutes unveil a tip from a mystery person that it was Cyrus (no details on how the tipper came to this conclusion). Well, now that this twist has been un-twisted and re-twisted again, I'm sure the issue is settled, and will be quite shocked if the rest of the season isn't completely straightforward.

Lovely Ashley Reservoir

Jun. 22nd, 2017 11:14 pm
asakiyume: (far horizon)
[personal profile] asakiyume
What I love about the Ashley Reservoir in Holyoke is that it has paths that run slender and reedlike right across the water--you can run or walk or bike along them and have water on both sides of you and the sky above you, and you will feel indescribable. Under the water are columns and drifts of water plants that the fish swim around and past, not even bothered (apparently) by how mazelike the plant-columns are, and on the water's surface are lily pads and often geese or ducks, and beside or sometimes in the water are turtles, and rising out of the water are reeds, and in the air are swallows and red-winged blackbirds

I wish I could have taken pictures earlier, when the geese had goslings and the irises were blooming. But it's very beautiful now, too.

paths through the water

DSCN6221

on a path

Ashley Reservoir

Ashley Reservoir


more photos from the reservoir )

[hxx] [story] Squirrel-Fishing

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:29 pm
yhlee: fox with nine tails with eyes (hxx emblem Shuos)
[personal profile] yhlee
For A.B.
Prompt: "Shuos pranks."

with apologies to the black squirrels of Stanford University campus

Jedao and Ruo had set up shop at the edge of one of the campus gardens, the one with the carp pond and the carefully maintained trees. Rumor had it that some of the carp were, in addition to being over a hundred years old, outfitted with surveillance gear. Like most Shuos cadets, Jedao and Ruo would, if questioned, laugh off the rumors while secretly believing in them wholeheartedly--at least the bit about surveillance gear. Jedao had argued that the best place to hide what they were doing was in plain sight. After all, who would be so daft as to run a prank right next to surveillance?

"Lovely day, isn't it?" Ruo said brightly.

Jedao winced. "Not so loud," he said. His head was still pounding after last night's excesses, and the sunlight wasn't helping. Why did he keep letting Ruo talk him into things? It wasn't just that Ruo was really good in bed. He had this way of making incredibly risky things sound fun. Going out drinking? In itself, not that bad. Playing a drinking game with unlabeled bottles of possibly-alcohol-possibly-something-else stolen from Security's hoard of contraband? Risky. Some of those hallucinations had been to die for, though, especially when he started seeing giant robots in the shape of geese.

Fortunately, this latest idea wasn't that risky. Probably. Besides, of the many things that the other cadets had accused Jedao of, low risk tolerance wasn't one of them.

"Not my fault you can't hold your drink," Ruo said, even more brightly.

"I'm going to get you one of these days," Jedao muttered.

Ruo's grin flashed in his dark brown face. "More like you'll lose the latest bet and--" He started describing what he'd do to Jedao in ear-burning detail.

At last one of the other first-years, puzzled by what Jedao and Ruo were doing by the carp pond with a pair of fishing poles, approached. Jedao recognized them: Meurran, who was good at fixing guns despite their terrible aim, and who had a glorious head of wildly curling hair. "Security's not going to approve of you poaching the carp," Meurran said.

"Oh, this isn't for the carp," Ruo said. He flicked his fishing pole, and the line with its enticing nut snaked out toward one of the trees.

Meurran gave Ruo a funny look. "Ruo," they said, "the fish are in the opposite direction."

"Please," Jedao said, "who cares about the fish? No one has anything to fear from the fish. That's just nonsense."

"All right," Meurran said, sounding distinctly unimpressed, "then what?"

Come on, Jedao thought, the nut is right there...

As if on cue, a black squirrel darted down from the tree, then made for the nut.

Ruo tugged the nut just out of reach.

The black squirrel looked around, then headed for the nut again.

"Oh, isn't that adorable?" Meurran said.

"Don't be fooled!" Ruo said as he guided the squirrel in a figure-eight through the grass. "Why would the commandant be so stupid as to rely on carp, which can't even leave their pond?"

Meurran glanced involuntarily at the pond, where two enormous carp were lazily circling near the surface, as if the carp, in fact, had a habit of oozing out onto the land and spying on lazy cadets. "You're saying the squirrels--?"

Ruo continued to cause the squirrel to chase after the nut. "It makes sense, doesn't it? Everyone thinks the black squirrels are the cutest. They're even featured in the recruitment literature. Damnably clever piece of social engineering if you ask me."

Meurran was starting to look persuaded in spite of themselves.

Meanwhile, as Ruo made his case, Jedao leaned back and studied the squirrel with a frown. The local population of black squirrels was mostly tame to begin with and had proven to be easy to train with the aid of treats. (Ruo had made Jedao do most of this, "because you're the farm boy.") But while Ruo and Meurran argued about squirrel population dynamics, Jedao caught a slight flash from behind the squirrel's eyes--almost like that of a camera?

He opened his mouth to interrupt.

The squirrel made an odd convulsing motion, and the light flashed again, this time directly into Jedao's eyes.

Jedao closed his mouth, and kept his thoughts to himself.

Solved

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:25 pm
flemmings: (Default)
[personal profile] flemmings
Just as LJ occasionally logs one out for no reason, so it arbitrarily ticks the "View all journals and communities in my own style" box under Display. Have unticked. Shall see what difference this makes on my phone; must say that my own style loads a lot faster than the RSS feeds that FB- arbitrarily again- converts selected LJs to. For no reason: they aren't feeds at all.

fountain pens!

Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:38 pm
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
I did an essay for Tor.com, The Beauty of Physical Writing, on fountain pens! There's a photo of some of my fountain pens over there.

From left to right, for the curious: Waterman 52V, Webster Four-Star, Scriptorium Pens Master Scrivener in Red Stardust, Conway Stewart Churchill in Red Stardust, Aurora 75th Anniversary, Nakaya Naka-ai in aka-tamenuri, Wahl-Eversharp Doric in Kashmir with #3 adjustable nib, and Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight.

Meanwhile, I swear I am writing flash fic right now. This caffeine is taking an unholy amount of time to kick in...

On American History, Such as it Is

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:50 pm
gaudior: (Default)
[personal profile] gaudior
So I have been... not exactly enjoying Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, but getting a lot out of it.

One thing that has become clear is that a big chunk of American history looks like this:

White People: *do appalling things to Black people*

Philosophical-Type White People: Oh God, this thing we've done is unforgivable.

Less Philosophical-Type White People: Oh, come on. How can something this profitable be wrong?

Black People: Hey, cut that out.

Philosophical-Type White People: OH NO SEE THEY'RE ANGRY I SAID THEY'D BE ANGRY OH NOES!

Less Philosophical-Type White People: Shit.

White People: *do MORE appalling things to Black people to try to reduce their power and ability to take revenge*

Philosophical-Type White People: Oh God...

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It's not funny, but it is kind of amazing how early this showed up-- both the stereotype of the Angry Black Person and the alternate stereotype of the Supernaturally Loving and Forgiving Black Person-- the White people's fear and hope in the face of White guilt. None of which considers the possibility that Black people might possibly have some priority other than White people, that Black people might be more interested in living their lives, recovering from trauma, and, I don't know, writing books and petting dogs and taking long thoughtful walks on a cloudy day.

White Americans have never been good at not centering ourselves in the narrative. But this particular manifestation is particularly ugly, because real people get hurt for the sake of protection from figments of projected guilt. And... gods damn it.

--R

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rushthatspeaks

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