starlady: (bibliophile)
What I'm Reading
Wicked City by Alaya Dawn Johnson - The second Zephyr Hollis book and the last ADJ book I haven't read. She needs to write more! I just started this, so no comments yet other than that I stand by my observation about Zephyr being in denial about who she is.

Shriek by Jeff VanderMeer - I loved the Southern Reach, and this is more obviously weird fantasy than those books, which has its pluses and minuses, but I love it so far, particularly the fact that it focuses on a sibling relationship.

What I've Read
Whoops, I've built up quite a backlog. Here goes!

Charles Soule et al, She-Hulk vol. 2 - Apparently this was always meant to be as short as it was. Siiiiiggh I would read many more volumes of this kind of thing, the "how X thing or Y institution or Z non-superhero person is affected by a world of superheroes" thing is honestly more interesting to me than many superhero stories. A+, will totally seek out more Charles Soule comics in the future. Has anyone read Letter 44?

Michelle Sagara, Cast in Honor - The newest Kaylin book, and with this, I have read all but one of Michelle Sagara West's novels (except the Sundered books, which I honestly found unreadable). I enjoyed it very much, I continue to enjoy Kaylin's growth as a person and the exploits of her motley crew (found family ftw), and I am looking forward to the next book on multiple levels, not the least of which is: Aerians!

Diane Duane, Interim Errantry - This is "the Young Wizards volume 9.5," and since it's been a few years since I read A Wizard of Mars, I'd forgotten a little how much I love Duane's writing and the Young Wizards in general. The bit in the Halloween story where Dairine is a Jedi, for example--perfection. And all the characters I've loved for so long getting to do things that are slightly less "stereotypical plot diagram," particularly in the novella in the collection, Lifeboats, which I adored. (Also, how married are Tom and Carl in Lifeboats? Super married.) In many ways these three stories were like the best kind of fanfic, which expands a slice of the canon beyond what we get to see in the actual published works. I can't wait for Games Wizards Play.

Martha Wells, Razor's Edge - Martha Wells wrote the last novel in the old Star Wars expanded universe, and it's about Princess Leia, set between ANH and ESB. I liked it a lot (particularly semicompetent!Luke, lol), and you know, I love Star Wars. You can put that on my tombstone. I also love Martha Wells' writing, and I'm psyched to read more of her books. (Even her SGA tie-in novels, because in the year of our lord 2K16 I am not going to apologize for enjoying tie-in novels.)

Diana Wynne Jones, Dogsbody - More DWJ! More terrible parents and parental figures! More plucky heroines and brilliant writing! I feel like I understood this book, which is told from the perspective of a star who gets reborn as a dog, which probably means I'm missing things. The ending felt abrupt, but also completely neat and tidy; it was brilliant and painful and great.

Gillen/McKelvie, The Wicked & the Divine vols. 1 & 2 - My dear sibling introduced this to me with "This is what American Gods wanted to be," and I stand by that assessment. The art is beautiful, the story interesting, the concepts compelling, but I have to say the characters mostly left me cold. That said, I'll still keep reading, because I want to find out what happens after the Shocking Twist!™ at the end of the second volume.

Kelly Sue DeConnick et al., Bitch Planet vol. 1 - I feel like most people have probably heard of this comic by now, with its non-compliant women and its smart take on exploitation tropes and intersectionality. I liked it; like The Handmaid's Tale, it seems both a bit too plausible for comfort and also in many ways a story about what's happening now, as well as a near-future fantasy.

Noelle Stevenson et al., Lumberjanes vol. 1 - This was so great! As a Girl Scout, I got an extra kick out of the story of a bunch of young Lumberjanes at summer camp, I loved it, and I need to read more of it. (I also loved the little in-jokes of the palindromes in the cave, ngl, and also the camp chief's name and appearance. AUGH, it's so good!)

Becky Cloonan et all, Gotham Academy vol. 1 - I've liked Becky Cloonan's work for a while, and this was exactly the kind of story I like, as I said above, following as it does a group of misfit students at Gotham City's most prestigious private school and inventing some old history for the city, as well as featuring an independent take on its present. Also, important to note, the Batman in here isn't the full-on manpain Batman, which makes the whole thing more palatable--there's darkness, but there's also light, and most important of all, I love Olive and Maps and would read many more volumes about them.

Gillen/McKelvie, Phonogram vol. 1 - This feels like a dry run for The Wicked & the Divine, and given that it was about an obnoxious dude, I was mostly into it for the liner notes. Who knew so many people had so many feelings about Britpop.

Octavia Butler, Bloodchild (2nd ed.) - This is the late Octavia Butler's only (and entire) short fiction collection. Xenogenesis, fraught parent/child relationships, taboo subjects--Butler was great, and reading the back of the book talk about her in the present tense is still a wrench.

Gail Simone et al., Wonder Woman: The Circle - This volume collects Simone's first issues on Wonder Woman, telling the story of Diana's attempt to save her mother from the DC-equivalent of HYDRA Nazis invading Themiscyra, mostly. It was good! I like Diana and her friends and her sense of honor! I am still going to drink in the Batman vs Superman movie!

What I'll Read Next
Who knows. Hopefully a lot of it.
starlady: (the wizard's oath)
Two of my favorite authors today posted tributes to Steve Jobs that, I think, get to the heart of what made Apple products in general and Steve Jobs' visionary insight into the actual nature of personal technology so singular. Along the way, both Duane and West articulate again, almost in passing, what makes me love their work so fiercely.

Diane Duane, A farewell: Steve Jobs

Michelle West, Steve Jobs

I won't pretend that I don't feel an additional layer of sadness over Jobs' death in light of the fact that he died of cancer, a year younger even than my mother was. Jobs was a visionary, but that's not why he deserved more time here; everyone does. But it's also undeniable that the outpouring of emotion at his death--which I don't discount or find mawkish or put-on--is the perfect testament to the personal connection with technology that Jobs envisioned and then created. And that is, unquestionably, the most fitting tribute possible. 
starlady: (moon dream)
I meant to link to this earlier, but luckily there's still time to make your opinion known.

Those who've read Diane Duane's The Tale of the Five books are probably aware that the final book of the series, The Door into Starlight, has been in progress for about twenty years or so. In a recent blog post, Diane Duane explains a little about why that is, and asks that those who would unreservedly buy the book--which will in all likelihood be self-pub, since The Tale of the Five has never sold well enough for an editor to offer to buy Starlight--when she finished it to let her know by liking or sharing the post on Facebook, sharing it on Google+, or retweeting it on Twitter, or commenting on the original post. If enough people do so, she'll move Starlight into her 2012 writing schedule.
starlady: "Where's your sister?" "She's on Jupiter, Mom." (sister's on jupiter)
Duane, Diane. A Wizard of Mars. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2010.

There aren't really enough words for how much I love Diane Duane's Young Wizards books, and this ninth entry in the series is pretty great. It is probably not a great place to start the series, if only because so many of the supporting characters get expanded roles (yay!), but it definitely marks a transition in the series. And it's awesome.

I have so little unspoilery to say about the plot, I'll just say this: There is/was/might have been (English's tenses are so imprecise compared to the Speech) life on Mars, and wizards Kit and Nita, and a lot of their friends both wizardly and not, get caught up in the effort to understand what happened on the Red Planet, and what didn't. Um, yes. Also, Carmela is seriously my new favorite character, she is unbelievably awesome.

Is there life on Mars? )
  • Darryl: "You sure physics lets you do that?" Kit: "The manual says so, and I think so does Stephen Hawking. That's good enough for me--"
  • Nita: "Bobo, I hate this." Bobo: That closely reflects the sounds of all wizards everywhere when making difficult but closely considered ethical choices.
  • Ronon: "Seriously, we are not worthy to hang out with you! You are the wizard's wizard, man! You have turned Mars into New Jersey!"
starlady: (the wizard's oath)
Some awesome
[community profile] three_weeks_for_dw posts:

[personal profile] copperbadge posts a really eloquent argument for DreamWidth and a summation of LJ's latest awfulness--he is moving [ profile] sam_storyteller to DW!

[personal profile] mumblemutter is hosting Video Killed the Radio Star, a multifandom music video challenge! Why is there not Lady Gaga fic on there yet.

[personal profile] synecdochic on modesty and what's wrong with it.

I wrote the following in December 2005. It's by no means a perfect or even a great paper, but I still like it for the fact that I basically wrote an exploration of the Lone Power in Diane Duane's Young Wizards books (who as a character and as a concept absolutely fascinates me) and turned it in for a grade in a college class. I would do a lot of things differently were I to write this paper now--invert the structure, most notably, and less with the generalizations (but I am by no means a philosopher)--and I've put it under two cuts to facilitate people who just want the Young Wizards discussion getting where they want to go.

Evil, beauty, and Tiantai )The Lone Power )
starlady: "Where's your sister?" "She's on Jupiter, Mom." (sister's on jupiter)
My fan essays on Young Wizards wonthe poll handily; this post, while brief, is a necessary prelude to the more extended effort (for which I will have to learn the html for footnotes, woe is me). I wrote the following for a course in philosophical theology in 2005; it's an extract from a response paper to assigned readings that rapidly devolved into talking about the Lone Power, by way of Dante.

Also, check out these Young Wizards icons by [personal profile] stripped, for [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw!

Moving on to the far more interesting topic of beauty, all I could think about in the beginning of the piece was the ending of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose: stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus ("The rose stands pristine in name; we hold the names alone.") This led me to thinking of the celestial rose at the end of Dante’s Paradiso (trans. Mark Musa): Up the snakes & down the ladders )
starlady: A typewriter.  (tool of the trade)
To take the last item first, I've more or less reconciled myself to the fact that this is the year I read just about every Diane Duane novel I care to, which is why I got the second book in the Feline Wizardry sequence, To Visit the Queen, from ILL and finished reading it today.

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been? )

Yeah. I wish I'd read this book before I'd written all those papers on Duane in college: this is the essence of what I love about her writing.

The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt is in all respects a far shallower but far more superficially thrilling book than To Visit the Queen; what connects them for the purposes of this post is that both traffic in steampunk, Hunt far more deeply and sustained than Duane. Essentially, in a very, very alternate sort of England (in which a very, very alternate Aztec Empire once ruled the subterrannean depths of the Continent and terrorized those realms on the surface in the last ice age), two orphans, Molly Templar and Oliver Brooks, are each pursued by people out to murder them and must go on the run from the law far beyond their kens of the capital Middlesteel and the Birmingham-analogue Hundred Locks.

I enjoyed this book, though Hunt generally sacrifices characterization to pacing and development to wit. There are enough ideas in here for two or three novels, and in some ways I was disappointed by the rather slapdash adaptation of historical phenomena such as communism and the French Revolution into Hunt's world, but it's all immensely entertaining, and for sheer cheerful mayhem, and his willingness to bring about apocalpyse now in his book, Hunt need bow to no one. The Court of the Air is sadly perhaps the worst copy-edited book I've read in years, which set up another barrier to unalloyed enjoyment, but there's enough redeeming features in here--particularly the mechanical lifeforms called steammen, and their Steamman Free State, and their King Steam, who is something like a Tibetan Lama (indeed, it doesn't seem an accident that the steammen dwell high in a mountain kingdom)--that I will be seeking out the next book set in this world, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, which debuts today and follows Amelia Harsh, a female Indiana Jones, who for all her brilliance and daring just can't seem to get tenure. One sympathizes.
starlady: (the wizard's oath)
Today is my mother's birthday: she would have been 58 years old. I reread her obituary before I left the house this morning, and while I was driving to the post office I found myself thinking about the impermanence of perfect things in our imperfect universe. I was actually thinking about this in the context of Star Trek, because I am nothing if not capable of displacing consideration of my own circumstances into fictional universes. But where it really merits discussion is in relation to Diane Duane's Young Wizards books, specifically the seventh, Wizard's Holiday. I was inspired to think through some of these things thanks to [ profile] rachelmanija's review of this book on her journal. It's an old review, but the great thing about Rachel M is that just about every entry in her journal is awesome in a fashion that does not admit to the passage of time. I highly recommend clicking on any of the cracktastic-sounding tags on her reviews and reading a few entries; I cracked up repeatedly, anyway.

Spoilers for The Wounded Sky, all the Young Wizards books, and The Book of Night with Moon. )

Right, back to reading about transvestism.
starlady: Kirk surrounded by tribbles: "What the crap is going on here?"  (kirk)
I've read a bunch of Star Trek books lately (and judging by how many of the books I checked out from my library came up "reserved" when I checked them in, I'm not the only one), mostly books I've never read before by authors I've previously enjoyed. This probably isn't coincidental.

The Wounded Sky )

My Enemy, My Ally )

Spock's World )

Strangers from the Sky )

Enterprise: The First Adventure )

I currently own The Romulan Way, Duane's next Rihannsu book, but I think I'm just going to spring for The Bloodwing Voyages, which collects the first four of the five in one volume--if I'd realized what was what, I'd have bought it initially (though these old Pocket Books covers and blurbs are priceless). Apparently the last Rihannsu book, The Empty Chair, will have to come to me through ILL, since it's currently going for not less than $55 used on the internet. Supply and demand can be a bitch sometimes--I'm really hoping for Pocket Books to do a reprint. I'm also hoping to track down Sand and Stars, a compendium volume that includes Spock's World as well as A.C. Crispin's Sarek, about which I have heard very good things. Tune in next time...
starlady: (the wizard's oath)
Yup, another reread, this time of the much-maligned fourth volume in Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, partially in honor of the fact that the ninth, A Wizard of Mars, is due out some time this year.

Well, I say much-maligned because I think there is a general consensus that AWA is the slightest of the eight books in the series, but I have to say that even Duane's slighter books, such as this one, still manage to pack a decent amount of thinky thoughts in. On rereading, I can see that this book is Duane processing her having relocated from New York to Ireland after her marriage, and having been to Ireland, I think she gets a lot of the country right. Compared with the other books in the series, though, the narrative simply lacks punch; it's no where near as evocative or as urgent as any of the others before or since, and I'm not sure I could say why, unless it's the insistence that what's threatening Ireland is the past coming alive again (not that this might not be an issue in Ireland in reality, har har). Replaying old roles just inherently lacks pizazz, for all that Duane gives Irish legends her own spin with customary flair, and the ending is positively anti-climactic. There's interesting hints, though, of what is becoming more of an issue in the later books--Nita's fraught relationship with the Lone Power. Since in this book the Lone One is a hill with a malevolent eyeball that has perhaps one line of dialogue, as opposed to Its other sexy and/or wittier incarnations in the other books, that's a drag too. Worth a read as part of the series, and I'm glad I finally have my matched copy, but no great shakes. Though I will say, I do like how Duane has managed to write a nine-volume series that has stretched from 1983 to 2009 in which only about two years has gone by internally, while having each book be both of its time and yet perennial.
starlady: (adventure)
Well, I am going to post this now instead of later. Tomorrow I am flying to Asia and I won't be back for at least a year. Wish me luck, everyone! You can find me on Skype by searching my AOL email, I will post to LJ and send email as often as I can, and if you tell me your snail mail address, you're pretty much guaranteed a postcard or a Christmas greeting. I will be back in a year or so, so take care until we meet again. I don't know. At this point in my life a year doesn't seem too long. Just long enough, really.

P.S. I've been rereading Diane Duane's Wizards at War (yup, still excellent), and I was proud of myself that on my third time through I actually caught the Star Trek joke. High five, me! And as DD says, "To be the miracle, get out of its way."


starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)

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