starlady: (bibliophile)
What a year. My 2016 was okay personally, but a disaster for humanity and the planet. I would, for the record, make that trade if I could.

Trying a new format this year! 


2016 reading stats

Books read: 99, of which 12 (12%) rereads
By gender: 13 (13%) by men, the rest by women or other genders
By race: 22 (22%) by poc, the rest by white authors
In translation: 3 (3%), not counting 2 (2%) in Japanese
Old books: 9 (9%), the rest acquired in 2016
New-to-me authors: 37 (37%)
New books: 26 (26%) published in 2016


…versus 2016 resolutions

1. Read 100 books
    Well, I read 99, which I'm proud of. This is the third-most I've read in the seven years I've been tracking, and I was only two books off my second-best count of 101 in 2010.

2. Read 50 physical books owned since 2014 or earlier
    Nine isn't a terrible start. Every little bit helps, right?

3. Read 25 books by authors of color.
    Welp, 22 instead of 25.

4. Read 10 books in translation.
   Three, which is a start.

5. Purchase no more than 52 books.
   I honestly have no idea about this because I didn't track it. I suspect I may be pushing pretty close to this if we count all the manga I bought in Japan last month.


General comments
A full 22% of my reading was consumed by two series in 2016, the Wimsey novels and the Young Wizards books (including the two short stories collected in Uptown Local; I've not yet read Interim Errantry 2.0). These books were great, which is good because I also read a lot of bad books this year: books I expected to love that I didn't (Wicked City by Alaya Dawn Johnson), books that everyone else loved which I came to hate as people continued to praise them (Updraft by Fran Wilde), and a lot of frankly mediocre books that I would have put down if I weren't reading them for the Sirens challenge (Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King), some of which I hated so much I wound up skimming and so I didn't count in the spreadsheet (The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern).

I also haven't decided how/whether to count fanfic; I read several fics over 70K this year, which is a novel by any count. (Hint: these were all [personal profile] bedlamsbard's amazing Star Wars fics.) Counting those, I'd be at 101 for the year.


Best of 2016
A 10% selection rate is 9 books, so without further ado…
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey novels (all, especially Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors, and Gaudy Night) (1922-37)
  • Erin Bow, The Scorpion Rules and The Swan Riders (2015-16)
  • N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (2016)
  • C. S. Pacat, Captive Prince trilogy (2013-16)
  • Yoon Ha Lee, Ninefox Gambit (2016)
  • Sofia Samatar, The Winged Histories (2016)
  • Noelle Stevenson et al, Lumberjanes vols. 1 & 2 (2015- )
  • Diane Duane, The Young Wizards New Millennium Editions (all, especially Deep Wizardry and Wizard's Holiday) (1983- )
Yes, I'm cheating here, and I acknowledge this. But the books that I've listed together are, I think, better taken together than apart. AMA.


2017 Reading Resolutions
  1. Read 105 books ==> a solid second-best ever
  2. Read 25 physical books owned since 2016 or earlier
  3. Read 25 books by authors of color
  4. Read 10 books in translation
  5. Read 15 books in Japanese ==> I have so much unread manga
  6. Purchase no more than 52 books.
  7. Read all the comics I've bought from Comixology and ECCC, the latter before ECCC 2017

starlady: (bibliophile)
I am working on Wimsey posts! I have a boatload of deadlines this week, and they have unfortunately gone on the back burner. Also Murder Must Advertise has a perfect ending, which is somewhat intimidating, ngl.

In the meantime, I have swiped the book meme, with coffeeandink's variations:

What I've read from [personal profile] renay's 60 Essential SFF Reads:

Bold = read, italics = read another book by the same author, strikeout = didn't finish

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Tithe by Holly Black
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Synners by Pat Cadigan
Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Survival by Julie E. Czerneda
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
King's Dragon by Kate Elliott
Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
Slow River by Nicola Griffith
Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
The God Stalker Chronicles by P.C. Hodgell
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff
God's War by Kameron Hurley
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr
The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Ash by Malinda Lo
Warchild by Karin Lowachee
Legend by Marie Lu
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
The Thief's Gamble by Juliet E. McKenna
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
City of Pearl by Karen Traviss
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Farthing by Jo Walton
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

22/60 books, 34/60 authors.
starlady: (bibliophile)
Inspired by [personal profile] coffeeandink's attempt at public accountability, and based on my previous year's reading habits, I've come up with the following list.


2016 Reading Resolutions

1. Read 100 books. 
    Last year I read 84. This is definitely doable.
 
2. Read 50 books owned since 2014 or earlier.
    I have something around 200 physical books sitting around unread. E-books probably adds another hundred or so. This has got to change.
 
3. Read 25 books by writers of color.
    I've varied from 19 to 46 every year I've tracked this, with 24 last year. Totally doable.

4. Read 10 books in translation.
    I'm bad at this partly because I read a lot of Japanese books. But this is totally doable, particularly given that I just bought the VanderMeer Winter Mix Tape book bundle, with the collected Leena Krohn books in it, over Christmas.

5. Purchase no more than 52 books.
    This may be unrealistic, and I'm not sure how to count ebooks versus physical books versus digital comics (which I frequently buy in single issues for sales but count as volumes for the purposes of tracking reading). Whatever; it's a start.
starlady: Kermit the Frog, at Yuletide (yuletide)
2015 was damn hard. I simultaneously had an excellent year and a run of disasters equivalent to, as [personal profile] oliviacirce wisely commented, all of my bad luck for the past six years combined. Many things ended, I learned a lot of things I'm not sure I'd rather not have known, I ate dim sum this morning, and I'm very happy to be able to say at last, good fucking riddance.

In reading, 2015 was a much more straightforwardly positive story. I read 84 books this year, beating my goal of 70 by 14 books, and coming within three books of meeting my 2011 total. 24 of those 84 books were by chromatic authors, a decrease from last year at 29%. A 10% selection rate for the year's best is eight books, so without further ado: 
  • Earth Logic by Laurie J. Marks (2004)
  • Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace (2015)
  • The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy by Martha Wells (2003-05)
  • The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer (2014)
  • River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh (2011)
  • Silver Spoon by Arakawa Hiromu (2011- )
  • Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (2015)
  • Sorceror to the Crown by Zen Cho (2015)
Runners up: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Interim Errantry by Diane Duane, Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix, The Wicked & the Divine, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen, The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine, Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones. Goal for 2016: 100 books.

Happy Gregorian New Year to all, and to all, a good night.
starlady: (bibliophile)
I had a great time at Sirens last month, and I'm really looking forward to going back next year: the guests of honor are Renée Adieh, Laurie J. Marks, and Kiini Ibura Salaam! The conference website is up now, and so is the Reading Challenge, which I've pasted below for my own purposes. I hope to see you there!

Books. Lots of books )
starlady: (through the trapdoor)
Links are sporadic in the below list: I am tired. Ballots are due at 23:59 on 10 March (Pacific time). To vote in the actual awards, join Sasquan as a supporting member (bonus: you can vote for site selection for the 2017 Worldcon, i.e. the one that should be in Helsinki!)

Best Novel
  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
  • Snowpiercer
  • Interstellar
  • Maleficent
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
  • Orphan Black, "By Which Means Have Never Yet Been Tried"
  • Orphan Black, "Governed As It Were By Chance"
  • Welcome to Night Vale, "Old Oak Doors (Parts A and B)"
  • The Legend of Korra, "Day of the Colossus"
  • The Legend of Korra, "The Last Stand"

Graphic Story
  • Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Lieu, The Shadow Hero
  • G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal
  • Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples, Saga Volume Three
  • Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch, Rat Queens, Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick & David Lopez, Captain Marvel: Higher, Faster, Further, More

Best Semiprozine
  • Strange Horizons
  • Giganotosaurus
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Best Fanzine
Best Editor (long form)
  • Sheila Gilbert

Campbell Award
  • Alyssa Wong
  • Isabel Yap

Best Related Work
  • Tropes vs Women’s "Women as Background Decoration" by Anita Sarkeesian

Best Fan Writer
  • Liz Bourke
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Foz Meadows
  • Natalie Luhrs

Best Novelette
  • Xia Jia, “Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Sorrow, Love, Joy”
  • Yoon Ha Lee, “The Bonedrake’s Penance”:
  • "I Can See Right Through You" by Kelly Link
  • "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i" by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Best Short Story
  • "The Breath of War" by Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • "Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology" by Theodora Goss (Lightspeed)
  • Alyssa Wong, “Santos de Sampaguita”
  • "Elephants and Omnibuses" by Julia August (Lackington's)
starlady: Peggy in her hat with her back turned under the SSR logo (agent carter)
I feel like longtime readers of this platform will already be aware of my love for the Sirens Conference, which is focused on girls, women, and female-identifying people in fantasy and science fiction--with a particular focus on YA--as readers, writers, and characters. It's in Denver this year, and Yoon Ha Lee, Rae Carson, and Kate Elliott are the guests! You should join us, it's going to be awesome.

This year Sirens has formalized an attendees' version of the staff reading lists as the Sirens Reading Challenge. I am historically very good at winning books and at book-related challenges, and this year's theme--Rebels--is near and dear to my heart, so I am doubly excited for this.

List below the cut; I've copied the links from the Sirens webpage to preserve the partner links to the Tattered Cover, Denver's independent bookstore. Strikethrough = already read.

I am so excited. )
It's going to be great.
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
As of right now I have read 66 books this year, which not only is 11 more than 2013, but is also four more than 2012! It's not entirely impossible that I'll finish another volume of Silver Spoon before midnight, either, in which case I will edit this post. This makes me very happy, as I only read five books from February through May (and none in March), meaning that more than 2/3 of these books were read in the latter seven months of the year. Clearly my goal for 2015 should be to read 70 books.

Moving on to the numbers…25 of 66 books were by chromatic authors, which is slightly less than 38% and decently respectable, as well as an improvement on 2013 and 2012. A 10% selection rate for "best of 2014" means I should be picking six books.
I've read too many excellent books this year, I really have. What should go in that blank? A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge? Moonshine by Alaya Dawn Johnson? The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black? We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler? The Diviners? The Goblin Emperor? Clariel? Stranger? Mary Gentle's Ash: A Secret History, which I finally finished this year? All of these books were great, and I enjoyed them immensely. I can only hope that 2015 provides a similar embarrassment of riches.

What I'm Reading
The Hawkwood War by Ankaret Wells (2010) - Direct sequel to The Maker's Mask, which I thoroughly enjoyed for its breakneck pacing, laugh-out-loud humor, banter, and wit, and throw-in-the-deep-end-and-swim approach to worldbuilding and explaining it. Tzenni is great, Innes is great, and the characters are interesting, varied, and believable. It's a teeny bit like Dune in the various secret orders running around, and I like it thoroughly so far. I'll definitely be picking up Heavy Ice (2013), set in the same world 200 years later, after this. Also, note that everyone in the books is some shade of black or brown as far as I can make out.

Silver Spoon vol. 5 by Arakawa-sensei - Still great. Hopefully I can read the remaining 7 volumes in time to buy vol. 13 when it comes out, which should be June-ish based on previous publication pace.

What I've Just Read
Ashes of Honor (2012), Chimes at Midnight (2013), The Winter Long (2014) by Seanan McGuire - Well, I was planning on trying to pace myself with the latest three volumes of the October Daye books in time for the ninth one in September, but that obviously didn't happen. I finished the sixth and started and finished the last two in the space of 24 hours on Boxing Day, which even for me is pretty remarkably fast. I <3 Toby, and I really like her team--and I like that they explicitly think of themselves as a team, and that [Romantic Interest] fits into the team so well. (Much better than [character] did.) I know everybody said 8 was a huge shocker, and I guess it was, except that I've honestly forgotten the details of so many of the first three books that some of the punch of various revelations was lost on me. Also, there's clearly so much that still hasn't been said, and a lot of that is what I was wondering about. Given McGuire's meticulous dropping of hints and her even-more-impressive-in-retrospect ability to leave threads very precisely untied until they turn into garrotes, I expect quite a lot of interesting things in the second act of the series, and in particular in the next book. Also, reading these books is like taking a trip home to the Bay Area, and that was just what I needed this Christmas.

The Maker's Mask (2010) by Ankaret Wells - See comments on The Hawkwood War. Highly recommended. Wells came out of fanfic, and it shows in the best ways.

Silver Spoon vol. 4 by Arakawa-sensei - I had a bit of a tough time with Hachiken's would-be white knighting in the second half of this volume, but as I've said before, it's still great.

What I'll Read Next
More Silver Spoon. Razorhurst. Not sure what else. It's a new year.

Favorite books for [personal profile] aria 

Goodness, this is a tough question. I think "favorite books" tends to be difficult to answer, because so many of one's favorites tend to be the books one read when one is very young and everything is still new and capable of making a ridiculously strong impression. Conversely, I've read many great books since my return to SFF in 2009, but which of them will stand the test of time? That said, I'll try to come up with a list of some favorites that mixes old and new.
  • The Young Wizards books by Diane Duane - Some are stronger than others, but all of them are well-considered, fiercely ethical, and beautiful, heartbreaking, and wonderful by turns.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - I talked a lot about Narnia several years ago and I'm still basically obsessed. They're complicated texts, and imperfect, and I appreciate that about them as an adult even as I also remember my childhood reactions.
  • The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper - Well, obviously, warty gender issues and all. The Dark Is Rising is a perfect book.
  • Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge - I stumbled on this in a bookshop in Derry in Northern Ireland and loved it from the very first word. I love Mosca even more now than I did then.
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix - I haunted the books section of Zany Brainy (oh, the 90s) until this came out in paperback, and it was worth the wait.
  • The Alanna books by Tamora Pierce - I think Pierce's later books are objectively better, but I read these when I was nine, and they made a huge and much-needed impression.
  • The Honor Harrington books by David Weber - I've basically broken up with this series, but the first eight are great, and Honor was a great character for me to read about when I was 13. I have huge issues with much of Weber's worldbuilding now, but I still recommend the first eight, since they form a pretty self-contained arc.
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke - Huge, sprawling, wondrously detailed, the perfect winter novel. I have the red Christmas cover that they sold at Borders and I love it to death.
  • The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson - No one should be surprised to see this on this list at this point. :P To my mind, this is how you write historical fiction.
  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman - These books were a huge influence on me, and though I have some problems with Pullman now, they are still wondrous.
  • The Spiritwalker Chronicles by Kate Elliott - A latebreaking addition to this list, but the first one in particular felt like it was written for me, and I love all of them to death.
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - Another perfect book.
  • The Michelle West novels - I find it difficult to pick a single book out of any of these, not least because the single story they are all telling has long since overwhelmed any individual volume in my mind. I discovered The Broken Crown when I was 12 and have loved them all ever since.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist by Arakawa Hiromu - My favorite manga, still, both for its action and its humor but also for its characters and its willingness to ask tough questions and to make hard choices.
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - I never think of this one at first blush, but the story (albeit mostly through The Muppet Christmas Carol) absolutely has had a huge effect on me, especially in the decade or so since high school when I was first faced with the question of how to be an ethical being in society. I worry about my own tendencies towards misanthropy, cynicism, and despair for humanity, as well as about being a good person--all things that Scrooge has to learn about! But the book also offers the most important lesson of all: that it's never too late to change, and to change one's life. May that truly be said of us, and all of us.
It's funny; I spent a lot of time in high school and college reading "the classics," and though there are a lot of writers on those lists whose works I love (Austen, the Brontës, Woolf, Dumas, Faulkner, Vanity Fair, Middlemarch, Tristram Shandy), none of them stuck in quite the same way, I suspect partly because they aren't asking quite the same kinds of questions as many of the books above, and also partly because none of them have magic. Well, we all have our faults.
starlady: (moon dream)
[personal profile] coffeeandink has a For Your Consideration post with many good suggestions, some of which appear below.

  • Best Novel (40,000 words or more) - Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice
  • Best Novelette - Kate Elliott, "Leaf and Branch and Grass and Vine"
  • Best Related Work - Janelle Monáe, the Cindi Mayweather cycle (The Metropolis Suite, The Archandroid, The Electric Lady, and associated videos)
  • Best Graphic Story - Kelly Sue DeConnick et al., Captain Marvel
  • Best Dramatic Presentation “Long Form” (more than 90 minutes) - Europa Report
  • Best Editor Long Form - Sheila Gilbert
  • Best Semiprozine - Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Best Fanzine - The Book Smugglers
  • Campbell Award - Sofia Samatar
It's been a while since I've had time to read short stories regularly, which is why I appreciated this Draft Hugo Ballot post from Nerds of a Feather with some good short story recommendations. I've heard amazing things about Benjanun Sriduangkaew's work, and I suspect I will wind up nominating one of her stories.

starlady: (moon dream)

  • Best Novel (40,000 words or more) - Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice
  • Best Novella (17,500 to 40,000 words)
  • Best Novelette (7,500 to 17,500 words)
  • Best Short Story (up to 7,500 words)
  • Best Related Work
  • Best Graphic Story
  • Best Dramatic Presentation “Long Form” (more than 90 minutes) - Europa Report
  • Best Dramatic Presentation “Short Form” (less than 90 minutes)
  • Best Editor Short Form
  • Best Editor Long Form - Sheila Gilbert
  • Best Professional Artist
  • Best Semiprozine
  • Best Fanzine
  • Best Fancast
  • Best Fan Writer
  • Best Fan Artist
  • Campbell Award - Sofia Samatar
I'm leaning toward Captain Marvel for Best Graphic Story, and I welcome recommendations for other categories. (Also, I'm pretty sure that my definition of "fan" and the Hugos' is very different, given how often those awards go to professional writers. I'd be tempted to nominate [archiveofourown.org profile] lettered for the "Best Fan Writer" category for Midnight Judges, in an alternate world in which "fan" meant what it actually means.)

I'm also happy to take recommendations for nominations for works by women and/or POC for the 1939 Retro-Hugos, which will cover works published in 1938. (Let's consider a discussion of the point of these awards, or lack thereof, to be tabled in perpetuity.)
starlady: ((say it isn't so))
Well, as of today I have read 55 books in 2013. That number is the lowest since I started counting five years ago, and represents less than half of my 2010 total of 101 (my highest thus far is still 2009, with 139). I even went the whole month of October without reading anything, which sounds about right, if depressing.

Nineteen of those books were by chromatic authors, which represents slightly less than 35% of the total; that is a slight improvement on last year, when the numbers were 19/62 or a little less than 31% of the total. With these numbers and a 10% selection rate, I should be picking five or six books as the year's best.
So, 2013!

Places traveled:
- Toronto in April, for a conference! I'd never been to Canada before, and it was lovely, and I got to meet/hang out with some cool people, and it was a good conference.
- Wiscon, Sirens, Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits. ♥

Shows seen: 
- Janelle Monáe
- FUN.
- Fall Out Boy
- Vienna Teng
- CHVRCHES
- Dessa
- Night Vale Live

I think the best decision I made all year was to get my wisdom teeth out in June. It cost me nearly $1000 out of pocket, but not having wisdom teeth has really made me much happier on a day to day basis, so it was totally worth it. I was also able to restart wearing my top retainer, so I have now mostly saved my parents' investment in my braces, which is a definite bonus.

I'm still in grad school. I did a lot of work this year (see above re: not reading any books in October) and I expect that I will be working very hard through at least next June. Although I'm much more disillusioned with my department than I was this time last year, for the time being at least I'm still committed to staying the course. California continues to be a weird combination of the awesome and the annoying, but the many awesome friends I have there, and Berkeley Bowl, make it all worth it. ♥

I anticipate a lot of changes in 2014. My father is talking about trying to sell the house, my sister is spending the year abroad in Austria, and I will be moving my California possessions into a storage unit over the summer in preparation for six weeks in Europe and then a year to fifteen months in Asia, specifically Japan and then hopefully Taiwan. I may not be back until 2016. Everything is very up in the air, but I'm looking forward to it, for the most part.
starlady: (a sad tale's best)
[personal profile] wintercreek asked about "Four books that everyone should read early in life/formative books."

I don't know about books that everyone should read early in life. There are some books that I think that everyone should read, one of which is M.T. Anderson's The Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation. I also expend more than my usual effort on getting non-genre readers to read Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness for all the reasons we all know, and I really recommend Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies to everyone for multiple reasons. I also wish I could get all academics to read Neal Stephenson's Anathem.

Four books that were formative for me is easier. I'll go in reverse-ish order.

When I was seventeen I read Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass. A lot of that book sort of comes out of left field--there are hints that Lord Asriel is going to make war on the Authority beforehand, of course, but nothing that prepared me for the amazing climax of the story, or for Lyra's speech at the end about the Republic of Heaven, which always makes me weep and which I quoted in its entirety on my senior yearbook page. (Yes, I know. We were all pretentious and arty at my high school, if that makes it any better.) I still remember reading those parts of the book and feeling like Pullman was saying everything I'd felt but hadn't been able to articulate as well as he did. Eleven years later I don't think quite the same about what I thought then or about Pullman, but there is no question in my mind that TAS changed how I thought about some significant things in my life.

When I was nine I read Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. It was everything I'd ever wanted in books but had never known could exist within them--a girl with a sword, and magic! She even had purple eyes, and purple was my favorite color, and still is. I devoured Alanna's adventures and in many ways I'm still reading in the shadow of her influence on my life, which I think is almost entirely a good thing. Alanna and her anger taught me a lot about growing up and being your own self, and it was great.

It was probably less than a year later that I finished The Lord of the Rings and tore into The Silmarillion. In the next few years I read the first five volumes of the unpublished papers (it took me until high school to read Unfinished Tales, bizarrely) and most of the rest of what Tolkien ever wrote. (Protip: his translation of Gawain is crap. Don't bother.) I read and reread The Silmarillion in particular over and over. The epic sense of history, of loss--I'm not even sure how to describe it. There are many, many parts of the story that make me cry, and as much as I liked the actual story of the downfall of the Eldar, the worldbuilding of the first epic within the book also always got me. I spent a long time memorizing all the songs--A Elbereth! Gilthoniel!--and they're still there when I think about them. I once read an article by Adam Gopnik talking about the worldbuilding in LOTR, and worldbuilding in general and its connection to history, and in retrospect it's not surprising that I grew up to study history.

I'm not sure how old I was when I read Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence and C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. This was all in the same time frame; when I was ten my sister and I started going to a different school with a twenty-five minute commute each way, and we (me, my sister, and my mom) hit on the idea of my reading books aloud. We read all the good Redwall books, the first two Harry Potters, and many other classics of fantasy including The Dark Is Rising and some of Narnia, I think. I was trying to think of how to answer this question, and I thought of all the books that I had the poetry memorized from, and The Dark Is Rising fits that bill. Narnia goes that deep, too.
starlady: (through the trapdoor)
The awesome [personal profile] rachelmanija is back with her partner in crime Sherwood Smith, this time with an excellent essay, Who Gets to Escape? on fantasy and figures of fantasy in fiction, and how only certain groups of people get to indulge in escapist narratives.

The essay is a wonderful read, and they wrote it as part of a kickstarter campaign for the anthology Kaleidoscope, "an anthology of diverse contemporary YA fantasy stories, which will be edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein, and published by Twelfth Planet Press." You can support the campaign for a variety of wonderful rewards. Having just come from Sirens, what caught my eye was the $250 AUS reward, which includes an editorial critique by World Fantasy Award-winning editor Alisa Krasnostein, up to 10,000 words. But you can chip in and support the campaign for as little as $5 AUS. If you can, this is an excellent opportunity to support the cause of diverse YA fantasy!
starlady: Mary, Holmes and Watson at home in Baker Street (not impressed OT3)
Partly for my sister, partly for my own interest, I was trying to brainstorm SFF books with bisexual protagonists who

a) exist
b) don't die
c) aren't Evil Bisexuals.

Off the top of my head, I thought of
  • Malinda Lo, Adaptation
  • Sherwood Smith, the Inda books
  • Ellen Kushner, Swordspoint
I'm pretty sure that I don't carry the entirety of SFF (YA or "adult") around in my head, so I would love to know what other books you, dear readers, can think of that meet the above criteria. Please feel free to signal-boost!
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
I tried to watch Forbidden Planet last night, gave up and switched to Children of Dune after half an hour. I was morbidly curious what happens to Leto post-Children of Dune, and so I spent some time reading the plot outlines for the rest of the Dune saga on Wikipedia, and in particular the summaries for the two books that Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson wrote out of Frank Herbert's outline for Dune 7, Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune. (You know who else besides Leto Atreides II has a shitty life? Duncan Idaho, that's who.)

And, particularly when I was plowing through the Sandworms article, I got to thinking that all of this sounded really damn familiar. In fact, I really do feel like I've read these books before, particularly in the Endymion half of Dan Simmons' Hyperion saga. (There's more than a passing similarity with Simon R. Green's Deathstalker books too, which are probably the ones I liked best.) Weird things with space Jews! Weird things with gender! Humanity warring against evil machines! Weird things with characters who are present over thousands of years, either through cloning (Dune) or through fucking with time travel (Simmons)! I don't know how much of the elements in the Dune books were present in Herbert's original outline, but it is a really striking set of parallels. And, quite frankly, as much as I enjoyed the Simmons books when I was in high school and didn't know any better (I got rid of all my Simmons books years ago and it felt so good), and ditto the three Dune books I managed to read before the weirdness got to be too much, I have no desire to see anyone do any of this sort of thing again. This may well be what a certain echelon of SF fans mean when they say the genre's fallen into a rut and people don't write books like they used to, but I'm okay with that.
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
As of two minutes ago I have read 62 books in 2012. The number is depressingly low, not least because I only count books if I read all of them, which trims a lot of the academic books, but what can you do. Some day grad school will be over and I will have my time to read back. *laughs bitterly at self*

So, 62 books. Nineteen of these (slightly less than 1/3) were by chromatic authors, which I am glad about; only 22 (slightly more than 1/3) were by men, which I am also glad about. At a roughly 10 percent selection rate for the year's best, I should be picking five or six books.

So, five best from 2012:
2012 was a mixed bag, I think. Some really good things happened! I went to Argentina to visit [personal profile] via_ostiense in June, and got to meet some OTW friends; I went to Korea for a conference in November and had a really good and productive time; I did several things over the summer that were lucrative financially and good for my future career; I got my M.A. But I also spent a good chunk of the year being super freaked about money, and I also just worked a lot, for the entire year, without any breaks longer than a week or so. I didn't do anywhere near as much reading or writing or vidding or viewing as I wanted to do.

I only have two resolutions for 2013: see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live, and work through my backlog of book notes for my academic blog. Well, and the perpetual resolution of reading/writing/vidding/viewing more. And go to more classical concerts on campus.

As always, I am profoundly grateful to have my friends from the internet in my life, and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2013. ♥
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
It's international book week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you, turn to page 52, post the 5th sentence. Don't mention the title. Copy the rules as part of your post.

However, the imperial government's decision to leave only the question of women's franchise to be decided by Indian legislators in India did not go unnoticed by the female subjects of the British Empire. 
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
I have added a "books: chromatic protagonist(s)" tag, since the clear response on the poll I posted was that people would find it useful. I am slowly retagging all the appropriate posts with this tag, but that process is not complete yet.

There are a few things I want to note. One of them is that I am defining "protagonist" as a POV character, and another is that I am attempting to take a catholic definition of "chromatic." Whether or not the characters would consider their status as non-white relevant, we do as readers, and I am attempting to use the tag in that mindset.

One problem with this is epic fantasy. I don't plan, at this point, to use the tag on the Inda books, for example, because although there are occasional chapters narrated by chromatic characters, the culture of the main protagonist, Inda, and his friend, is not marked as chromatic. I'm also not planning to use the tag for Michelle West's House War books, for example, although if future books return to emphatically chromatically marked cultures such as Annagar, I probably will.

Another problem is that the tag puts me in the place of judging who counts as chromatic. There's no way around that, and although I'm fairly confident that 85% of these decisions will be fairly obvious, there will be that other 15% that are ambiguous and that I may well get wrong. So, if you have questions or concerns about my decision to use the tag or not, please do let me know, and I will certainly listen.
starlady: Anna Maria from PoTC at the helm: "bring me that horizon" (bring me that horizon)
Via Aliette de Bodard:

If you think colonialism is dead… think again. Globalisation has indeed made the world smaller–furthering the dominance of the West over the developing world, shrinking and devaluing local cultures, and uniformising everything to Western values and Western ways of life. This is a pernicious, omnipresent state of things that leads to the same unfounded things being said, over and over, to people from developing countries and/or on developing countries.

It’s time for this to stop. Time for the hoary, horrid misrepresentation clichés to be pointed out and examined; and for genuine, non-dismissive conversations to start.

Accordingly, here’s a handy bingo card for Western Cultural Imperialism–and we wish we could say we’ve made it all up, but unfortunately every single comment on this card was seen on the Internet.

Card designed by Aliette de Bodard, Joyce Chng, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, @requireshate, Charles Tan, @automathic and @mizHalle. Launch orchestrated with the help of Zen Cho and Ekaterina Sedia in addition to above authors (and an army of willing signal boosters whom we wish to thank very much!)

Cultural imperialism bingo card
[personal profile] emceeaich has done a text version of the card.

And on a related note, via [personal profile] qian:

I was pleased to see that [personal profile] ardhra's brilliant essay What is cultural appropriation is now public.

Cultural appropriation isn’t simply the "taking or borrowing of some aspects of another culture from someone outside that culture". Cultures throughout time have traded, adapted, and borrowed artefacts, symbols, technologies and narratives from one another. The issue isn’t the aesthetic and material mingling of cultures, hybridity, or that human creativity crosses cultural boundaries. Those are aesthetic and perhaps moral issues, separate from the real political issue of cultural appropriation.

...

The problem isn’t that cultures intermingle, it’s the terms on which they do so and the part that plays in the power relations between cultures. The problem isn’t "taking" or "borrowing", the problem is racism, imperialism, white supremacy, and colonialism. The problem is how elements of culture get taken up in disempowering, unequal ways that deny oppressed people autonomy and dignity. Cultural appropriation only occurs in the context of the domination of one society over another, otherwise known as imperialism. Cultural appropriation is an act of domination, which is distinct from 'borrowing', syncretism, hybrid cultures, the cultures of assimilated/integrated populations, and the reappropriation of dominant cultures by oppressed peoples.


Read it all -- it's the best explanation of cultural appropriation I've seen. I read an earlier version of the essay and it was one of those moments where it's like something goes click in your brain and suddenly the world makes more sense.
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
So, as of right now I've read 87 books this year; I'm hoping to finish Harbinger of the Storm this evening, which will make it 88. Quite a step down from last year, by the numbers, though I'm pleased to note that 46 of these books (slightly more than 50%) were by chromatic authors. NB: I count manga as individual books, because I almost always read manga in Japanese, which is where most of this total comes from.

So, here's a few books I think everyone should read, in no particular order:

All of these books are excellent, and well worth the time. Happy reading in 2012! As always, my resolution is to read more in the new year. 

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