adelynne: (dragon reading)
( Dec. 22nd, 2006 10:11 am)
Apparently all the talk of slash and yaoi annoyed [livejournal.com profile] matociquala away from reading reviews. Which is a shame, I think, because I believe in positive reinforcement. And this might be my favorite of her books to date.

I'll try not to let the OMG!SQUEEEE!!! and drool overrun as I type, but no promises.

I wasn't going to get Carnival until after the New Year. With my habitual lack of faith in the library system (Actually not true, I think libraries are great. I just don't think they work well for me.) I've come to rely heavily on the kindness of strangers and my Discover card to provide me with Borders and B&N gift cards which allow me to buy books without compromising my ability to pay rent. And the holiday season is a time when bookstore gift cards are showered in my general direction because people (my family) understand that one of the greatest gifts they can give me is the license to prance around a bookstore and actually get to pick out things that I can take home with me. And other people may be stumped beyond the knowledge that "She likes books. And biology. But we can't really get her biology. And we're not too sure on what kind of books she likes." [livejournal.com profile] mrsix is an exception, but he rocks like a rocking thing. (Sorry, tangent.)

Anyway, I was going to wait until I had accumulated a nice pile of gift cards before making the book purchases that would hopefully tide me over the next semester. But given the slash debate (on which I am not taking sides), I was intrigued enough to go read Amazon and see if I could find more reviews. And then I stumbled on the Exerpt.

Well, shit. There went that plan. Frantically I search for a bookstore in the general area, only to find they're all way out of my way. Annoying, but then it turns out that Doyle's doing some last-minute holiday shopping in the neighborhood of one store that says it has it. Yay! On the sixth night of Hanukkah my boyfriend gave to me....

It is somewhat amusing to realize just how much Bear's writing style (at least on the sci-fi end) appeals to my brain. Or maybe it's just training. Hammered took me a bit to really get into, it was on my second try that I actually did. Scardown was a race between myself and my dad (the last time I bring something he might want to read as my first book for a family vacation), and by the time I picked up Worldwired it was such a smooth transition I don't think I noticed. Much like Vincent hitting his stride, Carnival and I just clicked the moment I read that exerpt.

That's at least partly due to the fact that Our Heroes were giving off enough sexual and other tension to drive me up a wall. You read "Chapter One" and bang! here comes conflict. I love it.

Have I mentioned just how much I love the fact that Bear's protagonists are, as a rule, over the age of 50? It gives so much more to the plot - in wisdom, in knowledge, in experience and depth. When you say "these people were lovers who were separated" that doesn't mean "they had one or two screws and went their separate ways" but "they maintained a secret relationship for over 20 years before they were forced apart for 17." So much more history, so much more at stake. It explains everything from how well they work together to how much weight on their shoulders they're both carrying.

It is a love story. Without a single "I love you," without weepy dramatic sex, without things that may look fine to a romance writer but generally make me want to spork my eyes out in the cold light of day. (There is sex; it's not weepy.) It's difficult to describe just how the way Vincent and Angelo are presented together appeals to me, except to say that as I've grown, I've encountered the fact that love is like this. That no matter how much you love, there are things you will not sacrifice, or forsake for the fear of no longer being yourself. That the thought of giving something so precious up would terrify and hurt you, but to do the morally wrong thing would simply destroy you. And these two are the best example of it I ever read.

To put simpler, their love is not hearts and flowers. It's pain, and lies, and spoiler )

But the book cannot stand on its own with just the two of them. Ultimately, as much as it is about Vincent and Angelo's relationship, it is also about New Amazonia, about New Earth and Ur, and the OECC (which we never actually see, so that's pretty darn impressive), about Lesa and how far you will go to give your children the best chance you can, about cultures taken to the extreme, and about the lies we tell ourselves to live.

Pretty impressive, no? Throw in all that physics (I'm pretty sure one round of research on superstring theory will keep on giving as far as Bear's writing goes), more spoiler ), espionage and intrigue, a bit of art, and you get an incredible book.

When I first met Elizabeth Bear, I told her that I, traditionally, had a hard time reading science fiction. Not entirely true when I think back to my childhood - Verne was on top of the list - but generally true when I open an Asimov novel. I suspect that in this "deficiency" I am far from alone. I told her that what really made me care about the story was character driving plot driving character development. Perhaps that's why this novel works so well for me.

I do have some quibbles, though. I'm not sure if one of them isn't just an error in printing, but one is a small plot point that's never addressed. It doesn't detract from the story, but if I'm giving a full review, it feels right to note that as much as I love it, it's not a perfect book.
I've been feeling slightly sick of late, and thus more than slightly lethargic. So this afternoon I put my new Persuasion DVD in and watched.

I can't really nitpick at all. I loved it, not with the same passion one loves Pride and Prejudice, but with a softness that comes from it being a quieter, more mature love story. I loved the wardrobe decision to put the Musgroves in reds, bright and vibrant, and the subdued contrast of Anne's cloak. I loved the way Anne changes, seems to glow from within as the movie moves along. The music seemed especially appropriate, for reasons I can't exactly articulate.

It's a grand adaptation. And a just portrayal of one of my favorite Austen books.
One of the weird things about this book is how long it's taken me to really figure out what I think of it. In fact, it wasn't until I was sitting at the sushi bar two hours ago that it hit me.

For me, Blood and Iron, is a problem book. [livejournal.com profile] matociquala has previously stated that it's a story told from the point-of-view of a villain, and that might cause people to have issues. That isn't mine. I find villains often much more interesting than the heroes, brave and true. At least in the stories, I look with fondness on my villains.

Stray with me into Stargate: Atlantis for a moment. A lot of fans (at least from what I could see) had serious problems with the moral choices the expedition (otherwise known as Our Heroes) made at the end of last season and the beginning of this one. [livejournal.com profile] thepouncer pointed out, I think correctly, that they were faced with an "Us or Them" choice. And given that one, choose Us every time.

B&I also presents the reader with an "Us or Them." Significantly, it is told from the point-of-view of the Them. Which could be cool, and is at times. But here we have what was the problem for me. I can't bring myself to support the Sidhe. It is not for lack of trying, but for what I see as a lack of vision on their part. In The Three Musketeers, Cardinal Richelieu was undoubtably the villain. But he was a villain with vision. A goal he was working toward. Our Heroes might have opposed him, but at the end of the day they knew he was working to further France as much as they were. And from there we have a connection.

The fae may be dying. Horrible and beautiful and magical as they are they are dying, bound by their own bargain with the Devil Himself on one end and the iron chains of the Prometheans on the other. It is a truly horrible fate. But as much as I seek it and try to see, what is the alternative for the Us? We see the horror and the reason the Prometheans started their war in the first place, but we're never given a good reason to side with the fae. Carel says that the world shouldn't be safe, and to an extent I agree with her. But there must be a give and take, and for the danger they bring they must provide a reason for their existance, or in the "Us or Them" humanity would always choose us.

And as a reader, I'm still human.

Please don't think I didn't like the book. I did. It made me think, and rubbed at me in ways only a good book can. The characters are engaging and though I cannot be convinced to side with Elaine, I can see how she came to her choices. It is a good read, and I would recommend it for what, at least in my experience, is a unique take on the Sidhe, Arthurian legend, and dragons. I'll definitely read the sequel.

But it is a problem book for me.
adelynne: (batman reads (porn?))
( Jun. 29th, 2006 10:26 pm)
My anger with the UPS people has dwindled since I've learned that they've been calling our doorbell - it's just not currently, y'know, ringing. So much for getting my copies of Blood & Iron and The Virtu in a timely fashion. Not to mention finally obtaining the DVD of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.

I did, however, obtain many other books. Like the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix, and the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (or, [livejournal.com profile] naominovik). Also Elaine Isaak's The Singer's Crown and Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora. Plus more McKinley, The Neverending Story, McKillip, and de Lint. I really ought to stop buying books for a while. But these were free.

[livejournal.com profile] truepenny has an excellent discussion of what rigor means for storytelling going on here.

Tomorrow's my last day of work until I start grad school. I shall savor this month and a half, and maybe actually get some work done on revising Glamour and writing Honour. Eh, one can dream.
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Ursula Le Guin has an odd effect on me. I begin reading expecting to have difficulty with the story - it'll be too "hard sf" (more on what constitutes that in another entry, perhaps), or too dated, or I don't know what. It probably stems from my inability to truly get into reading A Wizard of Earthsea - on the surface it reads as perhaps a bit cliché though I know it is the novel that spawned the imitators. It may be that her protagonists start out detached, not unlike the jellyfish that begins The Lathe of Heaven. But whatever the reason, it takes me longer than I would generally like to get into her work. Nonetheless, when I do read for more than thirty minutes at a time, say, I find myself irreversibly enmeshed in her narrative.

Her use of language is exquisite. It pours over my senses like warm honey, and I wonder if it's possible to develop synaesthesia in response to such vivid work. It's absorbing, enchanting, bringing you that much closer to her character in both empathy and understanding.

In The Left Hand of Darkness Estraven's plight was sometimes eclipsed by Ai's search for understanding, but both were communicated to the reader, and in the end they were so entangled one could hardly separate them. Likewise, in The Lathe of Heaven I find myself agreeing with, and empathizing with, both Orr and Haber. As a scientist, Haber's desire to make the world a better place is more than understandable to me - it is my life's purpose. His reasoning is mostly sound, though a bit soulless, and I can see where critique of the character arises - hell, I have more than a few issues with him, given the moral and ethical training I received before I was allowed near other human beings in order to ask them simple survey questions! But Le Guin is writing in an era that's much closer to Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo, who put their subjects through severe emotional and mental trauma (albeit without meaning to), much like Haber.

Thus our sympathies naturally turn to Orr and his philosophies. I must admit that it is difficult for me to attain empathy with such a passive personality. Orr is strong, as Le Guin remarks, but he is very passive, content to flow along in life, no matter how horrible, until there is no life left. He is afraid of change, one thing that frustrates me above all else in people I am closest too. I much prefer "to seek, to strive, to find, and not to yield" as Lord Tennyson says. I am a very pro-active personality, much more Heather, I like to think, who serves as the healthy balance of action and thought, straddling the divide created by Orr and Haber. In fact, the climax of the book rests not only on Orr's shoulders, but Heather's aid in his endeavor.

So overall, I liked it. Not as much as The Left Hand of Darkness, but there can only be one Estraven. And if the hard truths Le Guin wrestles with in this novel are difficult for me to swallow, then perhaps swallowing them is even more worthwhile.

As an added bonus, I found the most perfect line regarding love, ever: Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new. What could be more true?
I actually finished Mélusine Wednesday night, but work-related travel led me to a two-day disconnect from the internet. I did not suffer all that much - got a lot done, some of it writing some of it bio, and the break allowed me to distill why I love this novel so much. Of course, then I remembered that [livejournal.com profile] truepenny rocks like a goddess and ran off to her website to read the first three chapters of the forthcoming The Virtu.

Is it June 27th yet? In other news, I so know what I'm getting for my sister's birthday (which is the 28th, and despite my own being five days later, I absolutely cannot wait!).

Review, of the non-spoilery variety. )
I'm sure you're all excited. ;-)

I'm not sure what to say about this one in general that doesn't come across as a total "duh!" I mean, it's a Datlow & Windling anthology - it is nothing short of wonderful. Plus, right on the cover it says "A World Fantasy Award Finalist." Not like they're being subtle about how much it rocks. So you know, onto the individual stories:

Cut for length and the typical squee )
But it's raining. Which makes me very sad.

I did buy Mélusine and am into Chapter 2. Exposition, who needs this exposition, I ask you? Just about everything that I'm spoiled for due to Amazon recommending The Virtu to me has already happened. Well, aside from the fact that the protagonists have yet to actually, you know, meet.

Still, as I read I continue to be startled by just how much one can pack into a chapter. It's also an excellent read as I continue to ponder [livejournal.com profile] lareinenoire's rewrite, and how to better structure that behemoth.

Glamour I'm trying to avoid looking at while I ponder what's bothering me. I think it comes down to the fact that once I'm in an action scene, I do fine, but actually leading up to the action is like pulling teeth. It's like I'm driving past the car crash and screaming "no, don't make me look, I don't want to look.... Oooooh." Plus that opening thing? Remembering I'm not writing 23 short stories would be helpful in the way I structure chapters.

In other news,The Green Man anthology is holding its own against the full-length novel, which is impressive in an of itself. I read the McKillip story today - lovely as per usual. Looking forward to the rest.

Why is it that my reading list keeps growing the more I read? Shouldn't it work the other way around?
First, I must highly recommend this thread over at [livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid's LJ for those of you who do not mind getting your eyeballs burned and some very... *ahem* effulgent laughs.

In other news, I think [livejournal.com profile] truepenny has managed to snare me in the gorgeous web that is Mélusine in four pages. Her ability to create atmosphere, set up character, and do away with a great deal of the setup that would normally take people several chapters is amazing. I must acquire the book as soon as possible (I picked it up during my lunch break, and couldn't go back before th Coop closed), possibly tomorrow.

Finished The Faery Reel, review pending until I have more time. Now I'm reading The Green Man, and though it occurs to me that I probably did this one backward, I continue to be astounded by Delia Sherman's ability to start off every anthology I've picked up this month.

I go drink tea and try and deal with the headache that Boston weather is prompting now. And watch Babylon 5 with the uninitiated.
I have to admit - I wasn't a big short story fan. You couldn't (I thought) lose yourself in a short story the way you can in a long novel. Nothing is as well-rounded, there just isn't enough space. A short story captures a brief moment in time - not nearly as interesting.

Boy was I wrong.

On a whim, as I'd been collecting the Datlow & Windling anthologies for my favorite authors, I picked up Firebirds - the 2003 anthology edited by Sharyn November (that's [livejournal.com profile] sdn) which celebrates, in its own words "original fantasy and science fiction."

I picked it up because it had names I recognized in it - Delia Sherman, Patricia McKillip, Charles Vess, and Nancy Farmer (who, along with Patricia and Sharyn, was a guest at The Witching Hour last fall) - but it was just so incredibly good that I read all the way through, most of it in two days. I discovered Megan Whelan Turner and Diana Wynne Jones. I finally got to read some Garth Nix without tackling one of those intimidating-sized volumes in the Coop.

First of all, hats of to Sharyn November, who put together a great anthology that focused on the amazing stories these authors had to tell where the only theme was excellence. I'm seriously impressed, and will obtain Firebirds Rising and first opportunity. And speaking of the stories, let me rave about a few selections:

Delia Sherman's Cotillion )

Megan Whalen Turner's The Baby in the Night Deposit Box )

A few comments about some others. )

Patricia McKillip's Byndley )

Charles Vess & Emma Bull's The Black Fox )

There are a few others, but really people should go an explore this for themselves. It is sheer beauty in 421 pages. I can't say that everything hit me the right way, but I can say that it all left a mark, and I'm now obsessively devouring more short stories - currently up, The Faery Reel.
adelynne: (Default)
( Sep. 16th, 2005 08:01 pm)
I've been sick for the past two days badly enough to stay home from work. It's like a minivacation with a swollen throat and some sinus problems, and I feel like I'm playing hooky because I was always one of those stupidly overachieving kids who couldn't for the life of her not feel bad when she had to stay home from school and do nothing but get better. Probably because I got sick so often as a kid.

There are, however, bonuses to this condition. First, I get to drink massive quantities of tea, and second, I've written more novel. It occurs to me that I've added people to my friendslist (and people have added me), and some might not know that to sign up for novel blathering, one should leave a comment on this entry, and you'll be added to the filter.

This evening has provided endless amounts of amusement with the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] nuhiep's discussion of biology-abuse on SG:A, and [livejournal.com profile] amberlynne's wonderful fic recs.

..Maybe now I'll be inspired to write more. Or something.
adelynne: (Default)
( Aug. 23rd, 2005 10:29 pm)
I went on a total Guy Gavriel Kay binge, though I think I'm recovering now. After Tigana I bought The Lions of Al-Rassan which broke my heart in beautiful and horrible ways and made me yearn for more all at the same time. Apparently, it's due to be made into a movie in 2007.

After that, read Sailing to Sarantium and just finished Lord of Emperors now. I must admit I wasn't as captivated by the latter two, but I think that's because he spent a great deal of the books leading up to the climax. Once we got to the second set of chariot races, it went at an excellent pace.

The upshot of all that is that I think I'm over the latest book binge. At least, there's a chance I won't be devouring them at the exclusion of all else. Which leads me to wonder how I'll spend my vacation time next week, but that can be decided later.
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I'm recovering from an enforced internet hiatus. It's odd, but after an involuntary hiatus, I'm usually loathe to return to this computer thingie. It feels like I've got better things to do than obsessively read LJ or something.... Beats me what that is.

The one good thing about said hiatus is the sheer amount of reading that I've done in the past week. I've finally finished (and started, for that matter) Tigana, The Sparrow, and Children of God. I've started into Ringworld, though after Tigana it feels a bit odd, and I may put it off until I've taken a stroll through The Gilded Chamber.

My thoughts on TV have been, in contrast, pared down to the barest human consciousness. "Glactica good. Atlantis pretty." It's a sad state of affairs, as I do want to write, but it seems my poetic soul *coughhack* has been consumed by proteins and synthetic hormones. And this journal is supposed to be my creative outlet.

At least I can still edit. It's odd, but whenever I get into a creative rut, editing other people will get me out of it. (If one doesn't count the Rut of Evil when only [livejournal.com profile] blackholly's wonderful Tithe was the only thing to do the trick.)

Or, you never know, I could start drawing again...

...I have the attention span of a three-year-old.
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adelynne: (Default)
( Jun. 3rd, 2005 11:47 am)
Now that RL has settled back into a livable routine, and I'm actually making progress on the novel (slow progress, but progress nonetheless), it seems as good a time as any to start musing about other things.

I think that I had a nice TV binge this season, and have taken a bit of a breather to remember why I enjoy blathering on about SG:A or VM for hours on end. The result being that I've started rewatching Atlantis and taking notes for my Weir essay. It's amazing the things you miss the first, second, or third time around.

Cut for some Atlantis blather, nothing beyond Rising. )

Of course, there's still a good month before the next season of shows that I watch starts (I'll need to figure out access to my sister's TiVo as I don't get HBO, and thus might miss the Six Feet Under season otherwise), and it seems like the best time to catch up on some reading. What reading... well, here's where I ask you. :)

Given my absolute adoration of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and such "genre" writing, recommend five novels for me to read this summer. As previously mentioned, "classics" of the genres are preferred, but not required.

As far as fantasy goes, I've read Tolkien and C.S.Lewis, but not Ursula Le Guin or others. As far as Sci-Fi, I've read Adams, Card, and Bradbury, but nothing like Asimov or Heinlein (I know, I know, what was I thinking?)

Anyone who helps expand my horizons gets a cookie of yet-undetermined form.
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adelynne: (Default)
( Apr. 27th, 2005 12:40 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] cadhla wrote a chained sonnet redouble on the murder of Lilly Kane. It's gorgeous and all should love her for it.

...And, you know, read, obviously. ;P
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