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Getting back in the reading groove a little --
Finishing up Underground Airlines by Ben Winters on audiobook. It's sort of a noir/mystery set in an alternate history where the US Civil War never happened and slavery continues to exist in a few Southern states. The world-building is interesting, and the author seems to have a strong understanding of politics and history that makes me think, "OK, sure, that could have happened." It's tightly plotted with lots of twists, and while I wish the character work were a little stronger, the narrative voice is very good. Also, if anybody's read this, ( spoilery question )
I've read a little bit of Version Control by Dexter Palmer, a near future novel which I understand has an interesting sci fi premise but that I won't figure out what it is until later in the book. I like it so far, lots of possibilities.
And I was attempting to do a 'quick' re-read/re-skim of Sister Citizen, by Melissa V. Harris-Perry, which I recommended for my social justice book club based on having read it a couple years ago. But it's both so absorbing and so well-argued that it's not especially skimmable; hopefully I'll get through most of it before Saturday.
What did you recently finish reading?
I somehow missed Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game when I was a kid, noticed my library had it on audiobook. I enjoyed this. . .it's fun and a bit silly, with a large and potentially cartoonish cast of characters, but there turns out to be a lot more subtlety to the character portraits and relationships than it seems at first. Turtle Wexler for president.
What do you think you’ll read next?
If I ever finish what I'm working on, I need to get back to All the Birds in the Sky. From there I guess I'll see.
Check it out if interested. :)
Title: The Gift of Luck
Prompt:S-3: Someone "cursed" Draco to get lucky. Of course that 'get lucky' involved being around Potter 24/7 so for now Draco's seeing it as a curse, but he eventually knows better.
Pairing(s)/Characters(s): Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Word Count/Art Medium: ~2700
Warning(s) (Highlight to view): *Mild angst*
Disclaimer:Harry Potter characters are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: Thanks to my beta readers, sevfan and emynn. Alas, prompter, you mentioned bonding, which I couldn’t manage, but hopefully this suits. :)
Summary: Just when Draco thinks his day can’t be any more unlucky, Potter shows up.
The Gift of Luck
The Secrets of Jin-shei by Alma Alexander
- Historical fantasy about a bond of sisterhood in ancient china, which eventually involves political intrigue and an evil sorcerer. I enjoyed it for what it was, a true women's story. (The only male characters are a handful of villains and two devoted husbands.) However, the book is far too short to fully explore the ten jin-shei characters and the ending left me rather dissatisfied. I liked it, but it's far from a masterpiece.
Sunglasses After Dark by Nancy A. Collins
- In which it never hurts to do a little research before reading a book. Sonja Blue is a vampire who hates and kills other vampires. Unlike the angsty (human-like) vampires popular today, these vampires, (and all other supernatural creatures), are true monsters. Sonja's different because she somehow managed to keep her human essence and memories after being turned. I liked the heroine, but the book contains just about every trigger known to man and gave me nightmares.
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Esbaum
- Another nightmare-inducing book. This is supposedly an modern take on Madame Bovary, (which doesn't really make sense as the themes of Madame Bovary don't work well with the modern western world), and it ends as you would expect. Well-written, but utterly depressing.
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
- Altogether a mixed bag. I prefer short story collections to focus around a particular theme. This is a hodgepodge of pieces Gaiman wrote during a certain period. Some are better than others. Not bad, but definitely my least favorite Gaiman work to date.
What I'm reading now
I'm supposedly reading Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe. In reality, I'm still making my way through the chocolatebox fics over a month after the collection opened. I'll put together a rec post when I'm done.
What I'm reading next
There's a worldbuilding exchange that should have fics revealed in early April. I didn't sign up, but I want to read all the fic for it.
On the TV front I'm watching Orphan Black S4, (which Amazon finally put up), and Bates Motel. I'm sort of watching, (but episodes behind on), Agents of Shield, How To Get Away with Murder, Arrow, Reign, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, The Flash, Jane the Virgin, and Izombie. I'm also planning a rewatch of I, Claudius in memory of John Hurt.
New American Gods trailer! I can't wait.
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Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Notes: I guess I did okay with this chapter. Writing the dialogue was pretty hard, though. (Oh, dialogue -- sometimes you come so easily, sometimes it's like the dialogue gods have abandoned me)
( You missed the open skies, didn't you? )
I'll start by piling up a huge supply of couch cushions in stacks to make the soft but firm walls of our fort, and draping rainbow fabric from high up so that people can enter the soft space at any height.
Here's the synopsis:
Long ago, the Old Ones were bad. They drank all the water, ate all the pine nuts, and left nothing for the other creatures. Sinawav the coyote punished them by turning them into rocky hoodoos. Now when children misbehave, their Paiute elders remind them that they too could be turned into stone columns! Vivian has heard the stories, but this year as she and her grandmother climb the mesa to pick pine nuts, Vivian has something more important on her mind: basketball tryouts. When Vivian is disrespectful to the trees and the land, her grandmother must remind Vivian of the legend of the hoodoos and how nature has made it possible for her people to live.My thoughts:
I specifically look for books set in the present day, in which a Native child and his parents or grandparents are doing something together, whether it is specific to their nation or not. I like to see traditional story brought into that story, in a natural way, with the characters speaking, in a natural way.
And so, I like that Vivian and the Legend of the Hoodoos is set in the present day. If it was well done, it could have been a mirror for Paiute children who pick pine nuts with their families. If it was well done, it could have been a window for non-Paiute children to learn a little about Paiute people.
But, I don't think it is well done, for several reasons.
As the synopsis says, Vivian is out with her grandmother. They're going to pick pine nuts. As they set out, her grandmother reminds her that they should leave some for others. Vivian remembers a legend her grandma had told her, about "the Old Ones" who took everything. Others asked "the god" named Sinawav, or coyote, for help.
Using "the god" to describe coyote bothers me. Do the Paiute's think of coyote as a god?
In the story, Sinawav invites the old ones to a banquet, and then punished them by turning them into "rocky hoodoos." When Vivian was a little girl and out with her grandma, that story of misbehaving always made Vivian obey. But now that she's older, she knows it is erosion that formed the rocks that way, and not Sinawav. Here's that part of the story:
That bothers me, too. If the hoodoos are, in fact, amongst the stories the Paiute people tell about how their land came to be the way it is, would that story be spoken of that way? It is possible, of course, but I wonder. Would we see something similar in a story with a Christian grandmother and her grandchild about something important to how the Christian world came to be?
Vivian is impatient. Her grandmother reminds her to ask the trees' permission to pick their fruits, but she replies that she'd done that last year. Her grandmother harrumphed, and asked the trees' permission herself, and they got started picking the nuts.
At one point she starts treating the pine cones like basketballs, shooting them into her bucket. That makes her grandmother angry. She grabs Vivian's hand and takes her to a place where "the Old Ones had lived." This place, however, is different from others she's been to. At this one, Vivian nearly steps on a pottery shard. She picks it up and admires it. Her grandmother took it from her and put it back on the ground, saying
"Things from long ago are sacred. You shouldn't remove them."Some things from long ago are sacred. Some pots from long ago might be sacred. Sacred or not doesn't matter. When you're on a reservation or at a national park or lands held by the US government, it is against the law to remove such things. For centuries, people have taken things like that. Some ended up in museums. Today, there is a federal law by which such things are returned to the tribal nations they were taken from. And, people who take them, today, are arrested and prosecuted for doing it.
Next, Vivian's grandmother tells her:
"Our legends say we have always been here."That doesn't sound the way a grandma would speak to her grandchild in a natural, one-on-one conversation, and it doesn't fit with what Vivian already knows (the story about the hoodoos). I also don't think a grandma would use the word "legends" either, to refer to their stories. I can imagine a grandmother speaking that way to an audience of non-Native people in a storytelling format, but again, I don't think she'd say "legends." It is possible, of course, but it feels very much an outsider trying to speak as an insider, but not getting a strong sense of how we talk to each other.
Vivian's grandmother goes on to tell her a story about "those who had lived on that mesa." Again--this doesn't feel right. Vivian knows that hoodoo story but not any of this cultural information about pine nuts, songs, drying meat, sewing skins, and making bows and arrows? As the two walk in the runs they find many of the things from the story Vivian's grandmother has just told her about (like an awl made of bone and a metate).
They return to picking nuts, but before she does, Vivian asks the trees' permission, and when she leaves, she thanks them for their fruit.
That's the end of the story but not the end of the book. One of its selling points is the four pages of information about Paiute culture and history, how water shapes rocks, and one about hoodoos. That last one is also a puzzle. If kids put a set of four paragraphs in proper order, they will learn "the name of the modern Paiute tribe." That is an oh-oh right away, because there's more than one Paiute tribal nation today. Do a search using "Paiute" at the list of federally recognized nations and you'll see what I mean. You'll get 37 hits, but about 20 (if I counted right) distinct tribal nations with Paiute in their name. Nonetheless (before doing that search), I tried to figure it out, and failed. So... I cheated. I looked at the answer, and thought, "that's not right! No wonder I couldn't do it." Take a look:
Did you figure it out? The answer is Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. See why "the name" isn't quite right? The puzzle ought to be something like "an acronym for the Paiute bands in Utah."
In the book, Glenn Rogers and Clarence John, of the Shivwits Band of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, are thanked for verifying the accuracy of the information about Paiute culture and history. The problems in Vivian and the Legend of the Hoodoos are not about accuracy. They're about bias and voice. As such, I do not recommend it.
ETA: Also, if whichever anon promoted it at ffa is reading this, thank you! <3
FK_ficfest (Forever Knight fic exchange) is currently taking signups as well. This is a really pleasant, small-fandom fic exchange with a great mod.
Another thing currently going on is Muse Fusion at Torn World, a shared-world SFF project. Participants in Muse Fusion leave prompts for writers/artists to make a creative work in the shared world setting.
It isn’t nice to taunt . . . and you still have nearly five weeks to wait before the novel itself can be in your hands. But if you need your appetite whetted just that little bit more, Tor has posted the first chapter of Within the Sanctuary of Wings.
April 25th. If you think you’re chewing your fingernails off, know that mine went away months ago!
(to the tune of Turkey In The Straw or perhaps Battle Hymn of the Republic; and in response to the Serious Question posed in the first line)
Do you ever trap your nipple in the fold-out bit?
Do you play in nippy weather and then agonize your tit?
Do you briskly pump your bellows in the midst of all your fellows
Just to find you've trapped your nipple in the fold-out bit?
I think it's the "briskly" that does me in every time. 😂
(I also later realized that properly "salty" would be saline-Canadian; on the other hand the definition of "saltine" is "a thin salted cracker" and that is... not wholly inaccurate)
Permanent Residents, refugees, expatriates, and long-term residents also welcome to apply.
I am proud of myself for not panicking; I'm pretty sure that at most other moments in my life this would have caused me to lose my cool.
I have, however, poured myself a glass of white wine. Because it is wine o'clock now.
In other household news, I did order myself a chest freezer, which should arrive by Friday. It is tiny (3.5 cubic feet, probably less than half the size of the one we used to have at the old place) but it will be useful, and I'm glad I ordered it before I found out about the possible tax bill.
And today I managed to remove the ugly wooden shutters from my kitchenette! I am already happier having them gone. (I am hoping that a friend with a power drill will help me hang a curtain rod there soon, whereupon I will have curtains, which will be both less ugly and less dusty than what was there before.)
I wanted to draw your attention to a lovely, new feature in BMO which went out with this week's push: auto-linking to GitHub issues.
Now, in a Bugzilla bug's comments, if you reference a GitHub issue, such as
mozilla-bteam/bmo#26, Bugzilla converts that to a link to the issue on GitHub.
This will save you some typing in the future, and if you used this format in earlier comments, they'll be linkified as well.
If you come across a false positive, please file a bug against bugzilla.mozilla.org::General.
The original bug: 1309112 - Detect and linkify GitHub issue in comment
Feel free to talk about success, frustration, current projects, nagging projects, exciting projects, and everything else going on.
If you have a deadline, you can do it! If you need a deadline, they're available.
So it would of course be awesome if we had some recs. There is still plenty of opportunity for you to jump in and volunteer to rec next month (or to convince your friends to do some reccing). And many cheers for all of our members who volunteer to rec, especially if you rec regularly. Your valiant repeat efforts keep the comm alive.
Looking even further ahead so far NO reccers have volunteered for May either, so that month definitely still needs some love (and recs! *g*) too. So please consider reccing in a fandom of your choice, whether small or huge, and comment on the sign-up post and volunteer for April, May or even further ahead if you are so well organized, that you know your fannish interests and time commitments in advance. It's only four recs as a minimum, and you can rec any genre or rating. Or promote us to your friends or in your favorite communities so others do the work.
Open Rec Posting
The monthly open reccing period for all members starts now and lasts until the end of March. Since the general prompts don't seem to work as inspiration, I've decided to stop adding them, but to keep the open reccing period in case anyone wants to slip a rec in, without having to come up with three others for a fandom. However the recs do still have to conform to the usual rec format and follow the rules for what is allowed to be recced here.
(Comments here are disabled, because I want to bundle volunteering in the sign-up post so that nothing gets lost, and you can see the list of claimed slots there too.)
Or maybe it was for the prophet Elijah, who knows.