Jan. 24th, 2010

starlady: Holmes, from the back, is inked out (holmes in the mist)
I meant for this post to include more than this. But, after more than an hour wrestling with Yahoo IDs, I have finally gotten with the Naughts and created a del.icio.us account! I have added the info to my profile under 'external services' and it makes me happy, in an extremely low-threshold sort of way. Sidenote: Yahoo is the most awful 90s holdover semi-sketchy piece of crap that needs to go out of business yesterday, Y/Y?

I went with [livejournal.com profile] sparowhawk to see Sherlock Holmes again Friday night and I still love that movie so much. When I got home I took many characterization notes in my notebook. I think I'm going to sign up for [livejournal.com profile] holmes_big_bang because a) I work well with deadlines and b) writers get paired with a beta reader and an artist. \0/ Art for my writing! How cool would that be? Pretty damn cool.

I also, uncharacteristically, made plans and carried through on them to sit in front of the TV and watch TV this week. Normally I only do this for the new episodes of NCIS, but I also watched the season premieres of Burn Notice and of White Collar. I can see why so many people like White Collar. The OT3 is so obvious and so respectful of all 3 of them! Burn Notice is still high-octane, mindless mostly fun, though every time Michael Weston says that it's his job to help people I say LOLWHAT? Give me a break! Clearly the show resides in a fantasy world, and I'm not talking about Miami. Also, everyone has read this post by Center of Gravitas on how, in Burn Notice, everyone (including Fi! *gnashes teeth*) needs a straight white man to save them, right? So this is enough for me to file it in the "guilty pleasure" column, though I do think the tradecraft is plausible enough to keep in mind for future writing purposes.

I should go run before it starts raining.
starlady: Kazuhiko & Suu landing (fly)
Okorafor, Nnedi. The Shadow Speaker. New York: Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2007.

Nnedi Okorafor is one of the Guests of Honor at this year's WisCon, which I am planning to attend, so I thought I should probably read her books. This one is set in what we'd call Niger and Nigeria, in 2070, forty years after the Great Change in which nuclear weapons combined with "peace bombs" to produce a world in which there is no longer any division between science and magic, and in which the barriers between Earth and four other worlds--particularly Ginen, which lies particularly "close" to the Sahara desert, which is no longer a desert--have vanished completely. Camels talk, owls hunt by day, and metahumans like fourteen-year-old Ejii are born with cat's eyes and abilities ranging from flight to telepathy to rainmaking and everything in between.

I really, really liked this book. Ejii is an appealing, complex protagonist--a believer in peace who allies with the warrior woman who killed her father to stop a war, a Muslim who wrestles with when and whether to wear a burka or a veil but whose faith never wavers, a reluctant shadow speaker who undertakes a journey that may get her killed, or bring her abilities to fruition, despite the risk. Moreover, her relationships with her mother and her dead father are complex, and the boy Dikéogu, whom she meets along the way, is realistically but sympathetically characterized--a family friend sold him into slavery on a chocolate plantation after his parents cast him out. Given that child trafficking in Nigeria is a contemporary and not just a future problem, to say nothing of the book's larger philosophical and social concerns, particularly the role of women in society, and non-violence, the book strikes very close to home, I think. I also really like Jaa, the Red Queen, who seems to slide between roles as easily as she does between worlds, but remains herself. She's a fascinating adult woman character who isn't characterized according to stereotypes. I should note, though, that at the end the book does avail itself of the fat = evil cliché.

Perhaps inevitably, I was reminded a little bit of Nancy Farmer's The Eye, the Ear and the Arm while reading this book, because they remain the only two YA fantasies set in Africa that I've read. Clearly, though, there should be a lot more. Luckily, Okorafor has more books available.

P.S. Dear Jump at the Sun: Get a copyeditor who knows when to use a comma versus a semicolon versus a dash. Seriously.

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