Head Down

Jul. 27th, 2017 03:45 am
viridian5: (Schu (bow))
[personal profile] viridian5
I've been getting a lot more headaches in the last few weeks, but I'm putting in a little work on "Glass Houses" and the newest fic in the And Yet, Hayama Hayato Can Still Surprise series when I can.
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Sandy wakes up to the aroma of coffee and the sounds of someone moving about the dressing-room. Hector comes out and says, they sent to Jerome at Raxdell House to send over some fresh clothes, and he confides that he himself is still quite able to shave and dress a gentleman. Sandy would protest that he is quite able to shave himself and then looks at the trembling of the coffee in the cup from the tremors in his hand. He asks Hector what time it is.

Nigh on ten of the morning, says Hector, consulting the watch that Clorinda gave him those many years ago in Surrey.

What! He has slept the clock round and more.

When he descends to the parlour, and finds Clorinda at her desk, he asks what was in that posset?

My dear, do you accuse me of drugging you? There was a little brandy, but 'twas mostly milk and spices, quite entirely sanitive. You were quite entire exhausted, my dear.

Euphemia comes to set a substantial breakfast before him: he does not think he can possibly eat, until he starts, and discovers himself quite ravenous.

When he has finished, he says, well, he has slept, he has eaten, now he should return to Raxdell House.

Indeed not, says Clorinda, I am in the very act of writing to the new Lord Raxdell to say that, after you had convey’d me home, 'twas quite apparent that you were in a state of extreme exhaustion and I am like to fear a brain-fever do you not rest. I am in considerable concern that I should send for a physician.

He snorts and says, 'tis very kind of you, dear sibyl, but you do not need to lie for me.

Alexander MacDonald! snaps Clorinda, sure there has been a certain amount of equivocation and masquerade over the years, but this is quite the entirest truth. Sure if you endeavour leave, I shall have Hector lock you up. I will not have you work yourself into illness, sure, how can you suppose that Milord would have wanted any such thing? He left you that fine independence entirely so you should not need to. I confide that 'twould be carrying out his wishes to prevent you.

My dear, she says in gentler tones, you appear incapable of manifesting your dour Calvinistickal glare, 'tis the surest of signs that you are not your wont’d self.

His chest starts heaving and he finds himself entirely overtaken by the physical manifestations of grief. And finds himself being held by Clorinda, and when thought begins to return, has fleeting considerations about the very comforting nature of female softness, and then comes to realise that Clorinda is weeping herself.

O, he cries, I am the most selfish of fellows! As if you too do not mourn a dear friend of many years.

Why, 'tis something that we may grieve together, for who else besides ourselves would know the inwardness of the matter? She hands him a large handkerchief, while dabbing at her own cheeks with a delicate lacy affair.

And after your other losses, he goes on, conscience-stricken, remembering walking across the lawns at Raxdell House with Josiah Ferraby, smoking cigars and talking of some matter going forth in Parliament, and the other man suddenly putting a hand to his chest with an expression of startlement and crumpling to the ground. And the agonizing long illness of Eliza Ferraby, Clorinda’s pretty house become a house of sickness for those many painful months, the finest physicians and surgeons in London called upon, crack nurses in attendance, nothing to be done but to try and keep her as comfortable as possible.

O my dear, says Clorinda with a tearful laugh, sure 'tis no matter upon which one may make mathematical calculations of degrees of infelicity. But sure I hope you will remain here at least for a little while.

He looks down at his hands. It would be quite infinitely more agreeable, or at least less painful, to be here rather than at Raxdell House.

But – he begins –

O, fie upon your buts!

It is entirely too kind –

Fiddlesticks! Have we not been the dearest of friends this long while? Unless there was some other course of action you preferred – travel, or return to your native soil, or to go stay with one of your philosopher friends – sure I am a thoughtless Clorinda –

No, no, indeed no, silly creature. He sees that Clorinda is trying, with less success than usually attends, to conceal tearfulness.

Sure I should ask before going contrive, she says, blowing her nose. But I saw that fellow, quite desiring bind you to his interests, the wretch, as if you were some automaton, and – but I daresay you had your own plans already, o, I confide that behind my back I am known as that Meddlesome Marchioness –

No, dearest Clorinda, had he had time I am sure Gervase would have instructed you to kidnap me before I was beguiled by some false sense of duty into remaining. 'Twould be exceeding agreeable to me to find refuge here, but will there not be gossip?

She laughs somewhat immoderate, nigh unto hysterics, and says, my dear, we have been gossiped upon these many years, 'twill entirely be a matter of knowing tapping of noses. Sure scandalmonging tongues have had us abed together this long while.

Well, he says, was that tedious journey across France with the masquerade of marriage, and that time in Scarborough -

- The one room left in any hostelry that we would have cared to sleep in, sure I had not consider’d how popular a watering-place 'twas -

- awake half the night arguing about a device for some Gothick tale of yours!

They look at one another with affection.

I confide, says Clorinda, that Jerome would be the one to apply to about your trunks –

There are, he says, some matters of papers in the office that are to do with my own business –

Sure, says Clorinda, 'twould be a shocking thing was it discovered upon you that you were that savage critic, Deacon Brodie; and I daresay there is a philosophical treatise or so that you have never had the leisure to prepare for publication, that you might wish take in hand now –

Dearest Clorinda, you have ever read me like a book; so I will go to Raxdell House and pack them up myself, and make various commendations of the clerks to the new Viscount, and advance the interest of those that might suit as secretary –

Quite excellent ton!

So the next day he goes to Raxdell House, and the new Viscount displays excellent ton himself in saying that now he considers upon the matter and sees Mr MacDonald’s condition, indeed he realises that 'twould be an entire imposition to ask him to take on this task, but would be exceeding grateful of his advice. He also remarks upon the sanitive benefits of sea-voyages.

So Sandy says that Mr Cartwright has a very fine understanding of the general business of the Raxdell interests – His Lordship will surely know that for many years he himself acted very much in the capacity of a political advisor to the late Viscount, rather than having the day to day administration of affairs in his hands. Cartwright he confides would give entire satisfaction was he promoted to the entire oversight of the estates, the management of Raxdell House &C.

Why, says His Lordship, does not suppose he will follow in the late Viscount’s political footsteps – Sandy confides not, for just the mention of these makes the fellow look uneasy – although of course will take his seat in the Lords.

He then opens a drawer in his desk and says, sure these legal fellows take a deal of a time about settling all the matters of the will, but he and his dear lady have been looking into some of the personal matters themselves, and they confide that these are the items that the late Viscount wished Lady Bexbury to have.

There is the snuffbox – he knows that there was some private joke 'twixt Gervase and Clorinda about the snuffbox – and the various pieces of jewellery, including the famed pink diamond parure and several fine rings.

The Viscount clears his throat, and says that the Viscountess finds herself quite translated into this new and unanticipated sphere, has no connections in Town Society, is at somewhat of a loss as to how she should proceed. Has heard that there are certain ladies of fine breeding and understanding of ton that alas find themselves financially embarrassed and may be hired as advisors, but –

Sandy has not spent these many years as confidante to the exquisite Dowager Marchioness of Bexbury to misunderstand what the Viscount reaches at. He indicates that, does Lady Bexbury suppose she will be welcome, she will certainly call and her understanding of the usages of Society is everywhere most highly esteemed. (He cannot imagine that Clorinda will not relish the task.)

The Viscount looks exceeding relieved.

After they have taken civil leave of one another, he goes to the office to be about packing up his things. Cartwright comes in and says, there are a deal of letters marked for his personal attention have lately come. He frowns, spreads them out upon the desk, observes the franks and the seals and realizes that these are from members of their coterie and wider circles, and that though he is sure they have writ condolences in entire formal fashion to the new Viscount, they convey the messages of sympathy from long friendship to himself. Treacherous tears come to his eyes, even as he thinks that Clorinda would laugh and point out that he is not an antient mariner alone upon the waves with a dead seagull about his neck but has a deal of social connections.

He pushes the letters into a tidy pile, blinking as he does so, and manages to compose himself sufficiently to say, he will take them with him to Lady Bexbury’s where he may peruse them at leisure, and do any more come, should be sent there. But he dares say it gets about that he may be found at that direction.

Cartwright asks, with a trace of anxiety in his tone, whether Mr MacDonald does not intend remain in the service of the Viscount?

Sandy can tell from the change of Cartwright’s expression that his own has become dour and Calvinistickal. He blinks again and says, hoping that his features show more amiable, that he confides that the present Viscount does not have the same political interests, and in respect of all the quotidian matters of administration, Mr Cartwright is eminently fitted to carry them out; he has spoke to the Viscount already to that effect. Is there any matter of advice on particular questions required, he is quite entirely at their service.

But, he says, did His late Lordship trouble to leave me an independence, I think it shows respectful of his wishes to go enjoy it.

(Though the notion of enjoyment seems some wild fantastical opium dream, a phantasm.)

Hector’s fine strapping son Ben comes to say, the boxes are all stowed in the carriage, was there anything more needed put in?

Sandy says that he confides that Jerome has the matter of clothes well under hand and he has enough at present to serve, 'tis not as though he intends going about in Society. He picks up the letters, shakes Cartwright firmly by the hand saying he will do most excellently, and follows Ben out to the carriage. Ben goes sit beside Nick on the box after closing the door upon him, and they drive off.

Fernando the Fearless

Jul. 27th, 2017 08:38 am
green_knight: Baby Tapir in the Denver Zoo, sticking out his tongue (Sticky Tongue)
[personal profile] green_knight


This was linked on a forum I read. I've occasionally heard the title 'I love Lucy', but this was the first time I've watched any of it. My mental image will forever be.... somewhat skewed.

Olé!

Daily Happiness

Jul. 27th, 2017 12:10 am
torachan: (Default)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Today was one of those days where I was constantly running around the store doing one thing or another. It felt so hectic and I even had to be on the register for a while because someone went home sick, so I thought for sure I'd have to be there until after seven at the least, but I ended up getting everything done by six-thirty.

2. I stayed up way too late last night reading, and then Chloe was being a pest and making noise and keeping me up, so I didn't end up getting much sleep last night, but now I'm super tired and it's only midnight, so I'm going to go to bed in a few minutes and am hopeful that I'll be able to get a good night's sleep tonight. (And I can sleep in tomorrow, too.)

3. Looooooook at this sweet Molly on my desk!

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
because he didn't understand why there were tears rolling down.

The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells

Jul. 26th, 2017 03:06 pm
rushthatspeaks: (vriska: consider your question)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
I haven't reviewed anything here in far, far too long, and I certainly didn't think this book would be the thing to push me into wanting to write something. However. At Readercon, I picked up the new collection of Ursula K. Le Guin essays, Words Are My Matter, of which this is not a review because I am nowhere near finishing it, and I noticed that there are three separate essays on H. G. Wells. Three! This is not unique, in the structure of the book-- there are also three separate essays on José Saramago-- but that makes more sense to me, because Saramago, you know, Nobel laureate, relatively recent death, work in an interesting position vis-à-vis speculative fiction as a genre, there are some conversations to be had there that seem very much in Le Guin's chosen critical milieu. But H. G. Wells! Hasn't everything been said already?

Then it occurred to me that I, personally, had not read any Wells since the age of eight or nine, when I'd read The Time Machine and found it pretty and confusing, and then hit The War of the Worlds and found it extremely upsetting and went away again. So I went back. The Time Machine is indeed very pretty, though far less confusing to an older person. The Island of Dr. Moreau turned out to be the most vicious piece of theological criticism I have encountered in years, and an actual novel with things like character dimensionality to boot, as well as such an obvious influence on Lovecraft that I was shocked I hadn't heard that mentioned before. And then I got to The War of the Worlds.

It turns out the reason I found it very upsetting at eight or nine was because it is very upsetting, and at that age I had no context for or capacity to handle the ways in which it is upsetting.

We all know the basic plot: Martians invade, humans are technologically overpowered and defeated, Martians eventually drop dead because of Earth's microbiota. The novel came out in 1898, after having been serialized the year before, and has been dramatized and redramatized and ripped off and remade so often and so thoroughly that it has entered the collective unconscious.

The original novel, however, is notable in intellectual history not just for the archetype of the merciless and advanced alien invaders, but because it is an ice-cold prevision of the nightmares of the twentieth century. The phrase 'concentration camp' had already been coined, c. late 1860s by the Spanish in Cuba, though it would not become widely known by the English-speaking public until the Boer War, which Wells' novel just predates; that phrase is the only part of the vocabulary of future war to which Wells could have had access, and the phrase does not appear in the novel. Here are some of the concepts that do, without, as yet, any names: Genocide. Total war. Gas attack. Blitzkrieg. Extermination camp. Shellshock/PTSD. (Also, on a slightly different note, airplane.)

Wells' vision of war was ruthless, efficiently technological, distanced from the reader of the time only by the fact that the perpetrators were incomprehensible aliens. But he does not let you rely on the comforting myth that it would take an alien to perpetrate these atrocities, as perhaps the book's worst scene, in terms of sheer grueling terror and pain, is the sequence in which six million people attempt to evacuate London on no notice, with no overall organization, no plans, and the train as the most modern form of transportation. The Martians are miles away from that, literally. The only thing Wells spares you is the actual numbers of the death toll... but you can get an informed idea.

And, just in case you happen to believe that people (as opposed to aliens) are too good at heart for this sort of warfare, this novel is also a savage theological takedown*, in which the idea of humanity as the center of a cosmos created by a benevolent God is repeatedly stomped on by the sheer plausibility of the nightmare, the cold hard logistics of enemy approach + insanely destructive new bombing technology = frantic evacuation and a military rout. The priests and churchmen in War of the Worlds generally go insane**; their philosophical framework has left them ill-equipped to handle the new reality. Wells is displaying humanity as a species of animal, no more nor less privileged existentially than other sorts of animal, who may be treated by a sufficiently technological other animal in the way that humans often treat ants. He explicitly uses ants as the comparison.

This is where I noticed something fascinating. War of the Worlds has the most peculiar version of protagonist-centered morality that I have ever encountered: only the protagonist and his nearest and dearest are allowed to perform moral actions that are not shown in aggregate.

Everyone else either does good as a faceless mass, or neutral-to-evil at close proximity. The military, as a force, is allowed to act against the Martians, which is seen by definition as moral, but they are at a distance from the novel's viewpoint such that they don't emerge as people while they are fighting-- we meet an occasional refugee from a destroyed division, but we don't see people giving orders, taking orders, firing weapons. When the ramship Thunder Child attacks two Martians at close range in order to save shipping in the Channel evacuation-- a sequence distressingly like Dunkirk, only in the opposite direction and sixty years early-- it's one of the few acts of heroism and selflessness in the novel that actually works, and it's the ship personified who takes the action. Here's the middle of the fight:

"She was alive still; the steering gear, it seems, was intact and her engines working. She headed straight for a second Martian, and was within a hundred yards of him when the Heat-Ray came to bear. Then with a violent thud, a blinding flash, her decks, her funnels, leaped upward. The Martian staggered with the violence of her explosion, and in another moment the flaming wreckage, still driving forward with the impetus of its pace, had struck him and crumpled him up like a thing of cardboard."***

Notice how there are no humans, individual or otherwise, even mentioned here. And this is the high point of the book as far as moral action taken, a direct self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. Individual people range from the curate who hears the narrator calling for water "for hours" and doesn't bring him any to the men whom the narrator's brother finds in the process of robbing two ladies and has to fight off at gunpoint. Even most mob action is inimical, including things like the looting of shops and the literal trampling underfoot of the weak.

The narrator and his brother, however, mostly behave as one would hope to behave in a catastrophe. They are constantly picking up strays, helping total strangers pack to evacuate, fighting off muggers, attempting to assist the trampled, sharing their provisions with others, etc.. They are the only people in the book who do this sort of thing-- every other individual (except a couple of the strays, who are there to be rescued and get in the way) is out for themselves and can, at very best, be bought with cash on the barrel at a high price.

Now, it's not that the narrator and his brother are saints. They're fully developed, three-dimensional, relatively decent people. The brother participates in the looting of a bike shop, refuses water to a dying man for fear of putting his own people in danger, and fails to rescue anyone from the relentless trample. The narrator may well kill a man to save his own life, and certainly aids and abets the murder if he does not strike the final blow (it's impossible to find out exactly when the man dies or what specifically killed him).

The odd thing is that nobody else has any of their virtues. No one else is picking up strays; no one who isn't under military orders to do it is knocking on doors to begin the evacuation; no one is giving away food and water; no one except the military is attempting to place themselves between those they love and danger. In short, there is none of the kind of everyday, tiny, sometimes futile heroism that the twentieth century has shown us is almost impossible to beat out of humans entirely.

Now, I think this is intentional, as part of Wells's argument: the Martians have broken the human social order as if it were an anthill, and none of the ants has any idea what to do anymore. It's part of the demystification of humanity's place in the cosmos and the insistence on our nature as intelligent animals.

However, I think it skews the thought experiment in two ways: firstly, the narrator (and the only other POV character, the brother) have to be decent enough that we as readers are willing to read a book from their perspectives, and in 1898 that was harder than it is now. "Probably murdered somebody who wasn't a villain or an enemy combatant, and is never punished for it in any way except by vague remorse" is a pretty radical stance for a first-person narrator in an English novel of that period, and Wells has to talk us round into considering this a sympathetic or at least justifiable stance by having the narrator be in most other ways a flat-out hero. I don't think this does too much damage to his argument, as the resemblance of the narrator to other hero-types of the period makes Wells's more radical premises easier to communicate than they would otherwise be. It's not the presence of altruism in the narrator that is the major way the experiment is skewed.

It's the absence of altruism in others, as shown by the work of Rebecca Solnit, the memoirs of Primo Levi, the oral histories of the camp survivors of several cultures: one reason The War of the Worlds is so very upsetting is that its events are more unmitigatedly depressing than the same circumstances would be in real life. One of the wisest men of the twentieth century, Fred Rogers, said that in tough situations you should look for the helpers (and somewhere elsenet I saw the corollary, which I think Mr. Rogers considered implicit but which could use unpacking anyway, that if you cannot find them, the helpers had better be you). In The War of the Worlds there are no helpers at all, except what little the narrator and his brother can manage. We have actual science now about the way people form communities in catastrophe; we have innumerable anecdotes from the worst places and times in the world about those who in small ways, quietly, do what they can for others with what they have. It's not that Wells was wrong about us being animals, about trying to knock us off the pedestal that insists that everything was made for humanity and we are the only important beings. It's that while we are a social animal, we are a social animal on the micro-level as well as on the macro, and we have now seen that the micro-level does not have to be limited to immediate biological family, because the bonds of catastrophe can cause, and in fact seem to produce, some amount, tiny though it may be, of genuinely altruistic behavior.

When I happened to say to [personal profile] nineweaving that I was in the middle of a Wells re/read, she promptly replied with a couplet from a comic verse she had memorized as a child: "H. G. Wells / Creates new hells."

Which is true. His Martian invasion, the twentieth century through a glass darkly, is right up there on the list of the most nihilistic things I've ever read, not because of the Martians, but because none of the humans are outright villains. Some of them are insane, and some are annoying, and many are behaving in ways unconducive to long-term survival, and all of them are terrified; but you believe in them not only as individuals but as a plausible set of people for the narrator to run into in the middle of a war. It's only after thinking about it for quite a while afterwards that I noticed how neatly Wells had removed the capacity for altruism from his secondary characters. The Martians are frightening and cool and interesting (and clearly described as being drawn by H. R. Giger, which has not made it into any of the adaptations I've seen), but I think one reason this particular nightmare has lasted so long and clung so thoroughly in the back of our heads is that it would take recreating these terrible catastrophes in almost every particular to prove him wrong about the essentials of human nature and the ways people would behave in these circumstances. That's part of the book's appalling genius.

The thing is, though-- we did.

And he is.



* albeit not as much of one as Moreau, which is saying something

** that classical nineteenth-century insanity in which they rant and rave and chew the furniture, i.e. nothing you can find in the DSM, and therefore I just use 'insane' as I am not sure there is a less aggravating descriptor for this particular literary trope

*** Via Project Gutenberg's HTML copy
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

Fuck me. What was I thinking? Venom thought, throwing up the throttle on her aircraft. How'd I ever think this could work? Why can't that bastard just stay dead?

A couple of years of therapy and liberal use of the web spread across and through her brain had helped. She didn't wake up screaming any more, at least, not often. But the rage - the rage that still laced through her being like the chronal accelerator which kept her in place in time - hadn't gone anywhere.

I should've known. I shoulda known, she thought, as her craft jumped high towards suborbital space. The old guard had to start showing up. Just bloody had to. And ruin everything.

She'd thought she was okay with Reyes's return. She liked the Angelino, and they needed a strategy expert. Amélie was not exactly thrilled, but then, she wasn't the liaison, and she wasn't going to break the project over it. But this, she thought, this... no. No more. We find him, we kill him, we fix it.

Her thoughts had mostly turned to a stream of comfortingly creative swear words by the time her ship's comms board lit up, with Amélie and Winston both, trying to make contact. She took Amélie's signal at once.

"Cherie, are you..."

"Jack Morrison is alive."

"I've been talking with Winston. I know."

"He doesn't get to stay that way."

The spider hummed a little; Lena could see in her mind the little smile that went with it, and it calmed her just a bit. "I think I agree," the spider said. "Winston does not, yet, but that is not important. Regardless, there are times and places and ways to consider. Please return to base. We should plan."

"Don't worry, sweetie - I'm not flyin' off to Mexico half-cocked. I'm already a third of the way home."

"Good." A moment passed. "I have missed you these last few days."

"I've missed you too, love. How was Calgary?" Calgary, and a minor target. Normally, beneath Talon's radar, but something twigged in the spider's web, and so, off she'd gone.

"Magnificent," replied the spider, warmly. "Not the town, of course, it is provincial in all of the worst ways. But the shot," she continued, voice liquid, "ahh, that was exquisite. I missed you all the more for it."

Venom smiled and relaxed a little more at the tone of her lover's voice. Reunion sex was always good sex, but reunion sex after a kill that made her spider's voice do that? Magnifique, as she would say. "J'ai hâte de t'embrasser encore."

"Très bien, mon bien-aimé," the blue woman replied. "Ton accent s'améliore."

"J'ai étudié beaucoup."

"Ça se voit. C'est merveilleux et je t'aime."

Lena flipped briefly to autopilot, closed her eyes, and breathed. "You're calming me down on purpose, aren't you?"

"Of course. But nothing you've said was wrong. Not even in French."

The younger assassin laughed a little, nodded, then laughed a little more at herself - nods don't make sounds. "Merci." She opened her eyes again, and took the little ship back off automatic. "Love you. Be home soon."

"I'll be waiting. Widowmaker out."

"Venom out."

Winston's hail still blinked on the comms pad. Hoo, do I wanna take this? she asked herself. It took a moment. ...yeh, I need to. She punched the acknowledge signal. "Tracer here. Sorry 'bout that, big guy. Got myself into a bit of a race."

On the other side of the signal, Winston slumped in his chair, relieved. He looked over at Angela and Gabriel though the office window, and motioned for them to come in. "It's okay, Lena."

"Nah, it's really not," replied the pilot. "I should've reined myself in, and I didn't. No excuses here, I've got the tools, I didn't use them, it's my fault. I'll do better next time, promise." Gabriel nodded a small silent approval, hearing that.

"Where are you?" asked the Lunar Ambassador.

"Sorry, luv. But nowhere you'd mind."

Heading home, then, he thought. Good. "Our new friend has some more information for you. I'll put it in the expected place."

"Righto, thanks."

"Talk to me later?"

"Will do. Tracer out."

"Winston out."

"Well," Gabriel said, "at least she owned up to it. That's something."

Winston and Angela both glared at the former Blackwatch lead, but it was Angela who spoke first. "Do. Not. Dare."

Gabriel raised his arms in a shrug. "Hey, I'm not the one who charged out of a staff meeting just because..."

"No," said the doctor. "Do not. This isn't your Overwatch either."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, doc, this isn't a power play..."

"I know you, Gabriel. Yes, it is."

"No, it's... really not," he insisted. "I'm not a senior officer anymore. I'm done with that."

"Then don't act like one," replied Dr. Ziegler. "You are not her CO, and you are not her father."

"She was already on edge about letting the old guard in at all, other than Angela," Winston said, quietly. "She bought in with you, because she likes you, and she respects you - but I'm the one who really wanted you onboard."

"But Winston, she can't do things like that, not in her position. I'm not a senior officer here, but she is."

"Then tell her that, to her face," said Angela. "Not to us, behind hers. You may say she's a senior officer, but you are not acting like you believe it..." She frowned. "This is not the old Overwatch. Do not bring in its baggage."

Gabriel slowly nodded, and his eyes narrowed. "...damn, doc, you're good. This'll take some serious getting used to, won't it?"

Mercy smiled and let herself look a little smug. "At least you owned up to it."

Gabriel laughed, something he rarely let himself do in the old days, and said, "I deserved that," and the tension drained from the room. "My CO is half my age," he said, rubbing his eyes. "I must be getting old."

Angela chuckled. "She's not really your CO."

"No, but you can't take the Army out of a man. Let me think of her like that for a little while, it'll help."

"As long as it's old Army, and not old Overwatch," insisted Ziegler.

"It is," answered Gabriel, chuckling, and shaking out his arms. "I feel like a First Lieutenant again, showing up, screwing up, getting my ass in trouble... Ana would have a field day if she ever heard me say that."

"Let's not bring up any more unpleasant stories right now," said the doctor.

"Agreed," said Winston, bringing the Morrison dossier up on his displays. "We have enough old soldiers to deal with already."

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Firstly, it takes very little discussion of regulations for my eyes to glaze over. Secondly, and far less constructively, if someone proposes a system that relies on genres like science fiction and fantasy being distinct rather than overlapping sets, I will start thinking about the worthy works that live in the overlap.

Wednesday Reading

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:58 pm
chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
[personal profile] chomiji

After I finished re-reading The Story of the Stone by Hughart, I continued on with Eight Skilled Gentlemen (also a re-read). Both books are considerably weaker than Bridge of Birds, but they're both still amusing and full of interesting little details.

Most of the other things I've read this week have been online articles that are research for the same project that got me re-reading Master Li and Number Ten Ox.

After several days of that (and writing, and work being chaotic and stressful), I wanted something pleasant and easy. So I spent some time on Big South American River, looking up favorite children's authors. I discovered that not only has someone put a number of my favorite Sally Watson historicals into e-books, they also included Poor Felicity (although the author herself seems to have re-named it The Delicate Pioneer, which strikes me as a really "dead" title). I first read this at a Girl Scout summer camp, where I was a pudgy bespectacled weirdo bookworm who hated sports but was totally unafraid of snakes and bugs, and I haven't seen it since.

Felicity Dare is a sickly, rather spoiled 19th-century Southern (U.S.) girl whose parents lose all their money in bad investments and decide to go out west to settle in Oregon/Washington territory. Both parents die along the way, leaving orphaned Felicity to her good-natured but hapless uncle. They end up in what eventually becomes Seattle, where Felicity gradually becomes healthier because of being out in nature (shades of The Secret Garden!), makes friends with kids who would definitely have been considered below her social class back East (include some Native Americans), and learns to forage, cook, and shoot a rifle. There's also an ongoing feud with a rough-hewn boy who despises her for most of the book. In the end, when her snooty cousins show up at last (they went by ship instead of overland), she has to confront their faulty assumptions and her own grudges.

It's fun, slight but with lots of interesting details, and an easy, fast read (aimed at about 10-13 year-old readers).

reading wednesday

Jul. 26th, 2017 07:59 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
• What are you reading?

Chimera, by John Barth. Last read in college, when I was studying computer science, and everything Barth said about alphabets and stories seemed to be a direct reflection of something Turing discovered about numbers and computing machines. "The key to the treasure is the treasure."

• What did you recently finish reading?

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. I had been putting this off, because my non-SF-reading friends were saying it was really good but my SF-reading friends were finding it disappointing, which usually means I'll find it disappointing. Turns out it's really good!

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson, for Tawanda book group.

Front door appreciation

Jul. 26th, 2017 07:16 pm
hunningham: (Default)
[personal profile] hunningham
I have been delivering leaflets (for greens, since you asked). This has given me a new appreciation of letter boxes, which I can now rank for post usability. But also, I am really noticing front doors.

Today I found this beauty. The door itself is purple, but the panels have been painted pink and there are little flowers on the panels which have picked out in a deep violet. It's wonderful.

Pictures )

Passing the hat

Jul. 26th, 2017 02:01 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
My vet has an interesting receptionist and so what I was told would be a sixty dollar trip for their shots is in fact a two hundred dollar trip. This is all part of the seemingly futile effort to find them new homes. If people could donate towards the trip, that would be great.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
How to Make a Clichéd High Fantasy Cover

I am reminded of the cover of a Joe Abercrombie novel where every time I took another look, I noticed yet another sword the character on the cover was carrying.
davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)
[personal profile] davidgillon posting in [community profile] access_fandom


The Disabled People Destroy SF Kickstarter*, to produce a disability themed special issue of Uncanny magazine, is up and running here and well on its way to meeting the initial funding goal (about 80% funded with 29 days to go).

And the first of their personal essays on disability and SF is up here, a good piece on Mental Health/neurodiversity** getting in the way of growing up to be the SF protagonist you dreamed of, that the genre allows you to be, so sitting down and setting to work to change the genre to allow for protagonists with MH/neurodiversity. I'm so glad the first piece talks about MH/neurodiversity and invisible disability, as they're the most invisible/most often cured of SFnal disabilities.
 

* If you aren't familiar with the 'x' People Destroy series, it has already done POC Destroy SF and Queers Destroy SF to significant success. I was initially a little disconcerted it's swapped magazines for the disability issue, from Lightspeed to Uncanny, but the editors of Uncanny have a disabled child and they've assembled a solid team of disabled editors for the special issue, so my worries seem unfounded.

** The author talks about a bipolar diagnosis, but then settles on neurodiversity as their preferred community label. It's a view I have some sympathy with, though it can confuse people about non-MH related neurodiversity.

larryhammer: animation of the kanji for four seasonal birds fading into each other in endless cycle (seasons)
[personal profile] larryhammer
Reading Wednesday is nigh. In fact, it's here. And I done been readin'!

Finished:

I Shall Seal the Heavens. Finally. I have to say, this is epic: The author knows how to plot on an enormous scale, and how to build up the stakes in order to tear down everything you think you know is safe, before pulling back more of the curtain to show a wider stage. (The first timeskip is startling enough, and successive ones have stronger impacts until the climactic one that's as baffling as it is shocking.) There's a couple narrative patterns that get a little tiresome and in the final arc, the author resorts to using an unreliable POV, apparently to up the tension but the effect is to make some reveals feel like ass-pulls, but those are quibbles. I won't say that the treatment of women is unproblematic, but it's better than typical for Chinese popular lit and some female characters are given complete respect by the narration. I do recommend this to anyone in search of a timesink* and interested in current trends in Chinese fantasy.

An Interpretation of Friends Worship by N. Jean Toomer, a Friends General Conference chapbook found randomly on Project Gutenberg. I've no idea how much sense it make to anyone unfamiliar with Quaker practice, but I found it spoke to my condition, to use the Friendly phrase.

The complete flower fairies of Cicely Mary Barker. I've one book of hers and read at least one or two more over the years, but having them all together as on that official website is nice. Archive binge! This is a good example of a mixed-medium art form: each {poem + picture} is a unit -- they require each other, and are significantly weaker when separated. (The sentiments are not very Chinese, but the genre certainly is.)

In progress:

The Four Seasons ed. by J.D. McClatchy, another Everyman's Library pocket hardcover poetry anthology. Needless to say, I'm All Over this one. Lots of good stuff, too. Am halfway through Summer (following Western tradition, it starts with Spring).

In Good King Charles's Golden Days by Bernard Shaw, which is a quite Shavian if somewhat rambly imagining of a 1680 meeting between Isaac Newton, George Fox, and Charles Stuart, with interruptions by three royal mistresses. And others.


* At 1600+ chapters, it's freakin' HUGE. The translation is somewhat over 3 million words long, or roughly the size as all the Jordan-only volumes of The Wheel of Time.


---L.

Subject quote from a recent episode of Saga Thing.
umadoshi: (W13 - Claudia open mic (vampire_sessah))
[personal profile] umadoshi
The Toast makes a one-day-only return appearance today! "Link Roundup!"

Yesterday [dreamwidth.org profile] bluemeridian posted a batch of MCU and Wonder Woman recs.

"‘Wrath of Khan’ Returning to Theaters for 35th Anniversary".

"Orbit Turns 10: Take a Look at a Decade of Milestones". [The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog]

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] misbegotten, the Cincinnati Zoo has successfully reunited Fiona-the-hop with both of her parents. Adorable hippo pictures ahoy!

From 2014, but via Twitter today: "BitchTapes: American Protest Music". [Bitch Media]

"The Fourth Messenger at the 2017 New York Musical Festival". [ViennaTeng.com] (Includes purchase links for the soundtrack and script.) [ETA: Refers to a concluded run, not an upcoming one.]

On Atlas Obscura:

--"NASA Just Released Hundreds of Historic Space and Aviation Videos".

--"These Endangered Pygmy Rabbits Survived a Wildfire by Heading Underground".

--"Why It Took Scientists So Long to Figure Out Where Babies Come From: Human conception was still basically a total mystery until as recently as 1875".

--"The Odor ‘Wheel’ Decoding the Smell of Old Books".

--"The Dormouse-Fattening Jars of Ancient Rome".

--"People in 1920s Berlin Nightclubs Flirted via Pneumatic Tubes".

--"Found: Never-Developed Photos of Mount St. Helens Erupting".

--"These Maps Reveal the Hidden Structures of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books".



On Mental Floss:

--"The Golden Girls Are Starring in Their Own Version of Clue".

--"This Illustrated Periodic Table Shows How We Regularly Interact With Each Element".

Wednesday Reading

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:27 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I did a fair amount of reading over the weekend, and early this week.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott was too nerve-wracking and painful for me to read right now; I finished it, but the sequels will definitely have to wait. The race and class issues were very well-depicted, I thought, and the suspense was excellent. I am just too stressed about the world to handle this sort of thing in fiction right now.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch was, alas, much shorter than I had hoped. Abigail was so great! I want all the Abigail stories!!!

I was happily surprised that Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb, 43rd in the series, was much better than several of the previous volumes. There were a lot of twists and barriers to solving the mystery, capturing the perpetrators, and bringing them to justice, and remarkably little checking in with the huge recurring cast, which can become tedious. I read this partly because mysteries are comforting (justice wins!) and partly for purposes of analysis. I need to write down notes on its structure and character types and things like that.

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