The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die. Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David." The Museum and the Music Box March 18, 2015 The Museum and the Music Box Noah Keller History is rotting away, just like the museum.
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April 17, 2015
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Showing posts tagged: slavery click to see more stuff tagged with slavery
Mar 11 2015 11:00am

The Perfect Victim: Kushiel’s Avatar, Part 1

Kushiel's Reread Kushiel's Avatar new book cover Jacqueline Carey

“Serve true, and remember what others have named you; ten years’ respite shall be yours if you do.”

Kushiel’s Chosen closed with this warning, and Kushiel’s Avatar opens on the other side of ten years, with a prophetic dream calling anguissette/lypiphera Phèdre nó Delaunay to serve the gods of Terre d’Ange once more. Only this time, they’re turning her into a veritable Job, with their overlapping demands.

You thought that the island prison of La Dolorosa was bleak? Get ready to willingly lead yourselves into the kingdom that died and lives. Kushiel’s Reread is getting dark. We’re also going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments. As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[Read more]

Feb 15 2013 6:00pm

Slow-Burn Insurgency: Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri

Slow-Burn Insurgency: Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri

Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri starts stronger than any first fantasy in recent memory, with the devastation of an entire civilisation, richly rendered from the perspective of an ill-fated fisherman who lingers too long on the shores of Shadar.

As the fisherman looked at the magenta sky, he saw a black splotch like a stain on the horizon, a shadow forming over the sea which spread and grew larger and until he saw not shadows but black shapes: great flying creatures. The fisherman recognised them at once as dereshadi, the beasts that carry the souls of evildoers down into the depths of the earth after death. Phantoms swarmed from the bowels of the ships, crawling across the decks and into the landing boats and mounting their flying beasts.

The phantoms were giants to the Shadari. Their pale skin was the colour of death, marred by oozing purple sores; grim matted their seafoam-white hair. They had the hollowed cheeks and gangly limbs of the starving, but they held aloft great, gleaming swords.

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Apr 12 2011 5:38pm

Fantasy Dystopia With a Texan Accent

SeanchanIf it is one thing I have always found odd, it is that societies in fantasies don’t typically get the “dystopian” label, despite how close they may shear to the concept. After all, all medieval-styled societies were more or less dystopian already, right? Oppressed peasants complaining about the violence inherent in the system and all that? But there is an example of a fantasy society in particular that I think exemplifies the dystopia sub-genre while kind of hiding it, and that is the Seanchan Empire from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.

So, what is it that makes Seanchan dystopian? Well, it’s complex. It is, without a doubt, a horrible society from the first time we are introduced to it as a rampaging, mysterious army that has come out of nowhere, using strange monsters for war, and enslaving any woman who can use the One Power. That they do this in very short order to one of the female leads of the story makes them all the more purely evil, right? Yeah, about that.

[Read on]

Aug 16 2010 6:36pm

Tom Sawyer and the Undead and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I vividly remember trying to teach Pride and Prejudice to a class of high school juniors. Alas! These were not my best days as an educator. Most of my students found the novel boring. And that was just the girls. The boys on the football team didn’t like the book much either. Indeed, in this survey of American Literature, I was eager to get back to Edgar Allan Poe and then quickly work my way up to Twain, Hemingway and Steinbeck (even the offensive linemen loved Cannery Row).

Where was Seth Grahame-Smith when I needed him? I am pretty sure I could have drummed up a little more interest in Jane Austen’s classic if zombies had been involved.

All of this leads up to a short discussion of two of the latest entries into the fairly recent sub-sub-genre of horror that adapts classic works of literature and famous historical biographies to tell the stories as they “really” were, replete with zombies, vampires, werewolves, mummies and magic.

[Read more about Tom Sawyer and the Undead and Abraham Lincoln’s secret career as a vampire hunter...]

Jun 3 2010 2:05pm

Racism in Fairyland: The Silver Princess in Oz

The Silver Princess in Oz cover imageI wanted to fall in love with this book.  Halfway through, I almost did fall in love with this book.

And then I read the rest of it.

The Silver Princess in Oz brings back some familiar characters—Randy, now king of Regalia, and Kabumpo, the Elegant Elephant.  Both are experiencing just a mild touch of cabin fever.  Okay, perhaps more than a mild touch—Randy is about to go berserk from various court rituals and duties.  The two decide to sneak out of the country to do a bit of traveling, forgetting just how uncomfortable this can be in Oz.  Indeed, one of their first encounters, with people that really know how to take sleep and food seriously, almost buries them alive, although they are almost polite about it. Almost:

“No, no, certainly not. I don’t know when I’ve spent a more delightful evening,” Kabumpo said. “Being stuck full of arrows and then buried alive is such splendid entertainment.”

A convenient, if painful, storm takes them out of Oz and into the countries of Ix and Ev, where they meet up with Planetty and her silent, smoky, horse. Both of them, as they explain, are from Anuther Planet. (You may all take a moment to groan at the pun.)

[Warning: description and discussion of racist acts below.]

Apr 22 2010 2:38pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Gamesters of Triskelion”

“The Gamesters of Triskelion”
Written by Margaret Armen
Directed by Gene Nelson

Season 2, Episode 16
Production episode: 2x17
Original air date: January 5, 1968
Star date: 3211.7

Mission summary

Enterprise is assigned to check on the automatic communications and astrogation stations on an uninhabited planet, Gamma II. Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov are all set to beam down when they abruptly disappear from the transporter pad without the usual shining and whining beam effect. Scotty’s a miracle worker, but even he isn’t good enough to work the transporter without touching the controls—he has no idea what happened, or where they are. Spock is dubious.

[Reset the workplace safety sign—“Days Since Last Transporter Accident: 0”]

Apr 22 2009 5:08pm

America the Beautiful: Terry Bisson’s Fire on the Mountain

After reading Kindred, I wanted to read something where the slaves were freed, and not just freed a bit, but freed a lot. So that would be Terry Bisson’s Fire on the Mountain (1988). It’s an alternate history, and an alternate US Civil War where John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry is successful. The book is set a hundred years later in 1959 on the eve of the first manned Mars landing, but it also contains letters and a diary from 1859.

Terry Bisson is one of those brilliant writers who is inexplicably uncommercial. He has the gift of writing things that make me miss my stop on the metro because I’m so absorbed, but I almost never meet anyone who reads him. My very favourite book of his is Talking Man, an American fantasy, which I will no doubt talk about here in due course. A Fire on the Mountain runs it a close second. It got wonderful reviews—they’re all over this Ace paperback I bought new in 1990. His short work wins awards, and I’ll buy SF magazines if he has a story in them. I think he’s one of the best living stylists. But all he has in print are a three admittedly excellent collections.

[Read more...]

Apr 21 2009 2:22pm

Time travel and slavery: Octavia Butler’s Kindred

The immediate effect of reading Octavia Butler’s Kindred is to make every other time travel book in the world look as if it’s wimping out. The Black Death in Doomsday Book? Wandering about your own life naked in Time Traveller’s Wife? Pikers. Only Days of Cain and The Devil’s Arithmetic can possibly compete. In Kindred, Dana finds herself repeatedly going back from her own happy life in Los Angeles in 1976 to a plantation in Maryland in 1815. And she’s black, a fact given away by every cover and blurb I’ve ever seen about the book but actually cleverly concealed by the text for quite a time, so that if you’d managed to read it with nothing between you and the words it would be something you’d be worried about until it is confirmed.

In 1815, without papers, a black woman is automatically assumed to be a slave, and treated as a slave.

This is a brilliant book, utterly absorbing, very well written, and deeply distressing. It’s very hard to read, not because it’s not good but because it’s so good. By wrenching a sheltered modern character like Dana back to the time of slavery you get to see it all fresh, as if it’s happening to you. You don’t get the acceptance of characters who are used to it, though we see plenty of them and their ways of coping, through Dana’s eyes. There’s no getting away from the vivid reality of the patrollers, the whip, the woman whose children are sold away. Horrible things happen to Dana, and yet she is the lucky one, she has 1976 to go back to, everyone else has to just keep on living there going forward one day at a time.

[Read more...]

Mar 19 2009 3:54pm

Someone has come to free the LLL: Samuel Delany’s Empire Star

Empire Star (1966) was one of my very favourite books when I was fourteen. It’s a short novel. I read it in a very ugly Ace double and then bought it in an only slightly less ugly Sphere double with The Ballad of Beta Two. I read it over and over. What I loved about it was the planets and aliens (I’ve always been a sucker for planets and aliens) and the poetic language and the way the whole story wraps around several times helically. It was the first thing I ever read that did that. It made me happy to work out the structure and put the events in order and daydream about all the places on all the planets called Brooklyn Bridge. It’s got a fast-moving story and lots of lovely scenery and fascinating philosophical depth. I didn’t just like the book a lot, the way a sane grown-up might like a book, I fell head over heels obsessively in love with it. I made myself a t-shirt of it. I read it several hundred times. I was a one-Jo Empire Star fangirl. I had a sign on my bedroom door saying “Entry for J-O Type Persons Only” which is a quote from it.

And yet despite all that, there was a huge thing about it that I missed.

[Read more...]

Feb 2 2009 6:36pm

Who’s human anyway? Who’s free? Octavia Butler’s Pattern series

Octavia Butler’s Pattern series consists of Wild Seed (1980), Mind of My Mind (1977), Clay’s Ark (1985) and Patternmaster (1976). I’m delighted to see they’re in print in one volume as Seed to Harvest, not only because my copy of Mind of My Mind fell apart yesterday but because they’re a series that I always re-read together, so having them all in one book makes total sense.

Of course, you don’t have to read them all together. The series wasn’t written in internal chronological order, which means that the quality varies—like most writers, Butler’s writing got better over time, and these are her early books. Each of them technically stands alone, in that they are each one complete story. And every time I re-read them, I remind myself and rediscover that Patternmaster isn’t actually very good. But I keep re-reading it anyway, because they are the kind of reading that when you’ve started you don’t want to stop while there’s the possibility of any more. They are compulsive pageturners.

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Jul 27 2008 4:25pm

Total Immersion: Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy

Somebody has borrowed my copy of Citizen of the Galaxy. (If you give it back safely, no questions will be asked. You'll know if it's mine, it's an old battered Puffin edition with a boy on the cover holding a begging bowl full of stars.) In the meantime, because sometimes when I need to read something nothing else will do, I re-read it out of the library a couple of weeks ago.

What Heinlein was unbeatable at was writing total immersion. His universes hold together perfectly, even though he describes them with very few strokes. From the first words of Citizen you're caught, you're there beside the slave block that stands by the spaceport in Jubbalpore as a beggar buys a slave. There's something so compelling about the prose, about the story, that I find myself totally sucked in every time. There are books I can re-read in a fairly detached way -- I do know what's going to happen, after all -- but this isn't one of them. I'd love to analyse how Heinlein does it -- I'd love to be able to copy how Heinlein does it, and so would a lot of people -- but no, the sheer force of storytelling drags me through at one sitting without pause every single time.

[More below the fold...]