This is such a fabulous post. Thanks so much for the analysis, Alasdair!
I love your pics but I am mostly here to fist-bump on the unironic love of "Desert Rose." PLEASE MAY I HAVE A BRACELET TOO.
We can totally disagree! I wonder, too, if a root difference between our reading experiences is that I read TFS & TOG back to back, immediately, while you had to *cough* wait for it.
OMG Niall no! I disagree so completely I'm a bit speechless! My own review's going up tomorrow so until it does I'ma let LMM speak for me:
it's not falling behind or running late!
It's not standing still, IT IS LYING IN WAIIIIIIIT
@11 Stefan: oh, I know -- but Touch falls into the "wouldn't want to re-read it" category for me. It was incredible and brilliant but also deeply saddening in ways that SttC wasn't, so I just went with the "I love this more" feel.
SO glad Stefan mentioned Touch by Claire North! It, as well as Updraft, The Traitor Baru Cormorant and The Just City were all jostling for my 3rd spot, but I elected to go with stand-alone novels that I'd want to read more than once, so SttC won out.
A lovely list of excellent books, but Updraft isn't stand-alone, surely? Sequel's coming out next year!
it’s Tricia Sullivan’s first new novel since Lightborn in 2010
Didn't she have a book out just last year?
Your names are deliciously mashable, Seth. METH GLADSTONE. SAX DICKINSON. The fic writes itself.
Also this interview was fantastic.
Taran: OH GODS NO is it pronounced "Kasha"? I hide my face in shame!
but they are written in a style that demands intellectual curiosity as opposed to emotional attachment.
This is such a good point!
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! Wild applause!
Also, I love that photo of Shweta very much. Is that a magnolia behind, I wonder?
the dulled edge of a knife that never cuts the ones who produce it because they're not close enough to bleed
Right in the heart. <3 I loved this.
I'm coming for your brain with a knife & fork, Max.
Ahhhh my heart this is so beautiful!!!
8. Zvi: Thank you! I hope you enjoy the books!
Hmm, jazz-era stories... There was Christopher Barzak's own retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses in Glitter & Mayhem, and I think maybe Rachel Swirsky's postmodern Cinderella story in the same volume had elements of jazz-era? I could be misremembering.
9. David G. Hartwell: Not counting the honourable mentions, at least 12 of the 36 books mentioned are science fiction (I say "at least" because I've only had one cup of tea this morning and because I figure some definitions are fungible, but I'm going by the terminology the reviewers themselves used). I'm not sure how having a full third of the recs is to "mostly leave out" science fiction, or that it's a "distortion of the field" when that field includes fantasy, horror, and everything in between? Surely it's more a happily representative sample? Or perhaps you'd like to add recs of your own that don't appear above, in order to correct the situation?
I'm always leery of "birth of" narratives -- seems there's always a lesser-known antecedent! -- but they do often give us useful points from which to begin a discussion, and this was no exception! I really appreciated the round-up. Thank you!
: I'd argue that there is no female victim. The teacher is never victimized, hence my delight! Something I neglected to say in the review, too: something I loved keenly about the story was how much sympathy and admiration the narrative had for Angela. How early she wakes to do her marking; how exhausting is her commute; little details like that that make her more fully rounded than "pretty victim meant to titillate the reader," you know?
3. Mary Beth: YES to all of this. "Fiercely glad" is about the size of it for me. So looking forward to meeting Kai! I'm parcelling Two Serpents Rise
out for the moment because it's going to be SO LONG until Last First Snow
and I'm sure I'm going to devour Full Fathom Five
Neat list! But what is The Ocean at the End of the Lane doing there? It came out in 2013!
"You guys sing a lot about BUTTS now!" *dies*
Very much my pleasure! It opened up in February of this year and has gone from strength to strength. I especially love the art pairings.
I agree with ALL OF THIS YES FOREVER.
There's SO MUCH to potentially say about the Master's characterization and how traits that are coded as feminine indicate villainy in men, etc, but everything here is absolutely spot-on.
SO MUCH AGREEMENT. Thank you, Emily!
Everything to do with Vastra and Clara's "interview" was SO AWFUL. Also nonsensical: Vastra herself has crushed on the Doctor and not seen anything wrong with it. It was a whole Thing between her and Jenny during Demon's Run. Also I WANTED SO BADLY to love Vastra/Jenny, but their interactions had all the nuance of Moffat mashing two action figures together while shouting FAN SERVICE over and over.
Moffat: wrong on kink, wrong on lesbians.
Completely agreed about Capaldi's magnetism, though. And the Scottish thing. AND THEN GLASGOW! Ahh! That was totally Buchanan street WHERE THERE IS FOR REAL AN ACTUAL POLICE BOX THAT IS BLUE AND TARDIS-Y! I walk past it almost every day! <3 <3 <3
I got to meet Davison and Tennant! And take a photo with the latter! It was wonderful!
I almost wish I hadn't read this review, because it's everything I want to say about this book (which I also have to review) but less angry. On the other hand I deeply appreciated seeing you eloquently articulate so much of what bothered me about it. Thank you.
Seconding what Brit said about the fact that Hild is prepubescent for half of the book.
I'm a queer woman used to subsisting on scraps and crumbs of representation. To me, HILD is a feast. It's not just because of her sexual relationships with women and the normalisation of same-sex desire; it's the exploration of gender constraint, the valuing of female friendship, the primacy of women's relationships with each other, and the tense, crucial representation of power dynamics and the limits of consent. These are all enormously important things to consider from queer perspectives.
This is a fantastic review of an incredible book. Thank you so much for it.
I also hugely, enormously disagree with @auspex
. Hild is attracted to women. She is attracted to and has sex with a woman. To call this "experimenting" because she later marries a man is a baffling failure of logic.
Co-sign everything you said, Chris! But also: FITZ. FITZ' TEARS. Oh man. The way he just stood there, tears running down his face as he tried to be brave. FITZ!
If this isn't untoward, just want to say to the people who don't win a copy -- it's only $2.99 at Weightless Books right now! http://t.co/2Fd7OFFI1y
: HA! Obviously we took great care to plan it this way. Though Amy should totally get a gingery drink -- so many fantastic things can be done with ginger beer and ginger wine...
: Imagining an Adventure Time-
style fistbump right there. "What TIME is it?" "DOCTOR CRAWL TIME!"
Braid_Tug: Haha, you'll see in Part Two just how partial I am to the creamy drinks, and how much of an exception I am to the rest of the party's rule!
Sovay: Aha! We very deliberately left that out -- given the episode-centred theme, we are naturally going to wait until "Day of the Doctor" airs before giving him his drink! (And soliciting people's recommendations!)
I'm reminded of George F. Walker's remark that "Romances are only Histories which we do not believe to be true, and Histories are Romances we do believe to be true," where "Romance" would be our "Fantasy."
Also I loved this book more than I can effectively communicate in a single comment. Thank you very much for it.
I saw their Waiting for Godot in Bath a few years ago, and it was magnificent.
BwanaJim: Ah, I figured that the aether couldn't be used to destroy the universe until the worlds aligned, but figured Malekith could have allowed it to inhabit his body earlier than that moment, as it inhabited Jane -- considering how powerful it made her (and later him), it just seemed like a sensible thing to do. Or, y'know, to not have engaged Asgard on a battlefield at all, and just used the aether in a surprising sort of way? BOOM, there goes the universe, sorry you didn't know we wanted to destroy it, kind of thing? That was all a bit murky to me.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED WHY AM I SO HAPPY
LisaVPadol: It makes so much sense that Loki would learn from Frigga. It strikes me that she'd be far more likely to fight smart (witness the tricking of Malekith in that scene with the hologram) than just hit things with a hammer until they explode into rock!
I've been wanting to read those books for YEARS. Thank you for reminding me of them!
Snowcrash: I hear you. To me the nuances of the scene -- a woman defending another woman, being clever and badass while doing so, successfully besting Malekith when NO ONE ELSE COULD -- kept it from being a fridging per se, though I totally acknowledge it was about fuelling (some very specific) manpain. But a) it was a worthy Asgardian end, and b) I'm not convinced she's really dead. Also ... The thing that happens at the end that sets up Thor 3? Would've been TOTALLY AWKWARD if she were still around...
Tumas: Totally agreed about wanting to see more of Malekith's motivation! Throughout most of the film I was reading it as habitat loss and wanting to remake an environment in which they could live (a la Zod, except a lot more ... Comprehensive, given that it's MATTER to which they object, which, er, doesn't make sense, but whatevs!), and I think there's room to make a REALLY interesting ethics problem out of that -- when both sides are fighting for their survival in so stark, fundamental, and irreconcilable a way, it sort of makes sense for one to see the other as evil. But it would've been a LOT cooler to me if we'd seen the Dark Elves also talking about the Aesir as evil. I think there may have been a mention of them as "poison" at some point, but ... Yeah, anyway. More nuance and sophistication than I'd expect from any genre film with an antagonist in it, really.
Vincent Archer: OMFG I HADN'T EVEN THOUGHT OF THAT! AHHHHHHHHH! IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!
CE Murphy: I was gutted by her death! I was immediately like BUT WAIT NO THIS IS ASGARD AND THERE'S MAGIC SCIENCE AND SCIENCE MAGIC NOOO WHAT! But yeah, the redux thing is what it is AND (as Liz Bourke just pointed out to me) Thor 3 could not have the antagonist doing quite what the antagonist is doing if that character death had not occurred.
I mean really. Think about that for two seconds. AUGH.
So perhaps a wider systemic problem, but one I was OK with in the grand scheme of things, and maybe Thor 3 will have her back with Magic Science shenanigans, I d'know.
Maaaan I can't wait until this film is more widely released so I can really get into the nitty-gritty of spoilers. I mean I'm still being coy here.
Kate: one woman dies, but she gets a really cool battle scene first, and she dies defending another woman. Admittedly her death then motivates a lot of manpain, but since the woman in question was also a bad-ass warrior, I was OK with it personally and didn't think of it as a fridging.
Yes, to all of this, a hundred thousand times.
This is just to say that I had super thorough responses to the first 4 comments all written up in this tiny box and then my laptop FROZE AND ATE THEM ALL. While I mourn my lost eloquence please know that I'm reading and appreciating your comments very much.
: I also thought of Lina Lamont after we first heard Ginger speak, though I didn't think of that specific relationship reversal.
Thank you so much for this review, Emily!
Thank you for the kind words, everyone! I'm so happy you're going to read it.
Given his death and mysterious resurrection -- "Seriously Just Kidding"?
YES THIS THIS THIS YES.
That is all.
Totally agreed about the episode being a mess with a lot of potential. I think the thing that annoyed me most was how the Doctor just ... Sonic'd himself into being not red? What? The sonic screwdriver doesn't work on wood but it works on toxins? Bwuh?
Also -- I may have missed it, but what was the red venom actually supposed to do? Yes people were being dipped into it and it was scary when it went awry, but what was its non-destructive purpose? Was it mind control? Was it just a preservation of the body? If it's not mind control, why are all those people just blithely doing Gillyflower's bidding? If it is... HOW? And how did the reporter dude burst in on the Doctor through his barred door? And ... Bah. It was fun to see Madame Vastra and Jenny again (although I questioned Jenny still calling her "Madame" when they're MARRIED NOW and I HATED the Doctor kissing her when he KNOWS that and blech, what!) but it felt like, as you say, it just needed some more editing / resequencing and it would've been properly good.
I really loved it, though the problematic things you point to had my teeth on edge for much of the film, and ultimately I'm ambivalent about how much the spoilers subvert those problems. But I loved how very Kiss Kiss Bang Bang this film was, overall.
katenepveu: I love the thought processes in your first comment, especially the "look for that" aspect. You've identified the fact that the poem's leading you somewhere and won't yet tell you where, but allowing you to gauge its direction. I see by your second comment that having "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" as a context really illuminated your readingbut how did that change your enjoyment of it? Was it an "aha!" that now allows you to enjoy other things about it, or do you feel that too much was withheld?
N. Mamatas: I d'know, I think it's working pretty well so far. Also I'm not sure I understand your comment: you're saying this exercise doesn't work with a narrative poem because people make a story out of a poem -- that has a story in it? Could you possibly elaborate? And if you have any suggestions I'm open to them. Either way I'm glad of the feedback, and thanks for reading.
bunnycatch3r: I have no way of knowing.
Katharine Mills: Oh, I love your observation about the sheep potentially being the greater loss, and how that affects the reading of the whole. How do you feel about the implication, at the end -- "a howl dashed against the rocks was winter's meat" -- that the wolf was eaten?
arianrose: I'm grateful that you're not nodding and staying silent! Thank you so much for being honest about your experience. This is exactly the kind of thing I'd like to engage with.
You're right that you can't skim poetry. (As an aside, I was skimming these comments the first time through, and I read yours as "I'm a terrible swimmer," and now I have all these metaphors in my head about poetry as an immersive experience, and how in order to swim you have to learn how to manage sinking and floating in the water before you can move forward, get anywhere but also how sometimes the point is just to be immersed, as in a bath, and that's fine too!)
All the wondering that you did, the wrapped-up-edness that you're pointing out? That's FANTASTIC. That's really, really great. To touch on my water metaphor again, it's like you've immersed yourself and are keeping your eyes open under water, taking note of what you seebut then remember you're meant to be swimming. But it's totally okay to be immersed and look around! The poem is still giving you something. You're still interacting with the poem. When you stop reading it, something will linger with you. That story that doesn't exist is something you've found your way to through a door the poem opened.
About reading it aloud: I'm going to talk more about this next week, but for now, if you just go to the poem page again, you'll see that there's an audio player just beneath the title, and you can hear the author reading the poem herself. Which is not necessarily the one true way of reading it! I myself would read it much differently than she does. But it might give you ideas.
About the title: I really liked tnv's musings on "Moral," and recommend reading them above, but mainly I think it's a cue to read the context of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" into the poem, since it's a fable with such a well-known moral.
stevenhalter: I'm very glad you liked it, and especially glad reading the comments gave you additional perspective! May I ask what you mean by the tone, and what makes it interesting to you? Also kudos on seeing a continuity of wool/thread in it that's really important.
Skavoovee: May I ask what you liked about it? You are totally correct on the town/wild beast front; as others have noted further down, the missing context is the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." Also totally correct on the poem leaving information out. It's a fine line to walk, leaving out enough information to allow for the experience of mystery, but also leaving IN enough information to allow for the pleasure of solving that mystery. Reading it again knowing that the poem begins after "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" comes to an end (er, literally), how does that change your experience of reading it?
Wow, I go to the Hebrides for a couple of days and return to AWESOMENESS! Thank you so much, every one of you, for your contributions here. I'm going to respond to everyone in sequence, but first I want to offer the following confirmation: having "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" as a context for the poem will definitely kick its intelligibility up several notches.
Great post, Brit -- and I'd have missed "Lifeline" if not for this. Thank you so much.
I feel your pain. It is the special pain unique to loving the two-hearted.
RIGHT? Al's fantastic, and so's his podcast.
Oh gosh, you've given me reason to bust this out from an ancient TWoP forum:
OH NO PLEASE NO WHY NO!
Augh. This feels completely gratuitous. It's unnecessary! I'd much, much prefer a Big Bad Wolf character as created by Carey within the context of The Unwritten's world. I'm only just at the beginning of that series, but I have long, long ago been soured on the interminable Fables, the way all the characters sound exactly the same, the way the women are eye candy to be condescended to by the men who know better, the way any treatment of race makes me want to fling it against the wall, and that Willingham's grasp of Middle-Eastern politics has all the subtlety of a brick made of bricks with which he insists on beating the hapless reader senseless.
Gosh, I guess I feel a bit strongly about this. Blargh.
Taking hawkwing-lb's points (especially about wanting more recent examples), but nevertheless responding to this part of the original post:
I mean women whose concerns are those of motherhood, middle age, old age: women who believe in their own mortality, who wear the weight of their pasts as well as their responsibilities to the future, who have a place in the world: a place that may or may not be comfortable, or suitable, but worn in around the edges and theirs.
I can't believe 60+ comments have passed and no one's mentioned Terri Windling's The Wood Wife
! Jo Walton reviewed it for Tor.com here
. The main character is 40, has already been married, divorced, built a successful career from the book's beginning. She is a creative person in her own right who fosters the creativity of younger women in the novel. It's just fantastic.
Midori Snyder's The Innamorati
also features multiple female protagonists, at least one of whom is a middle-aged mother. It plays with a lot of Commedia tropes, and is very aware of working in a tradition that favours the ingenue above all others.
I also vaguely remember there being a middle-aged woman in Peter S. Beagle's The Innkeeper's Song
qbe_64: So, given that your problem is, by your own assertion, based on no evidence whatsoever, it should follow that there is, in fact, no problem. The only problem I see is that you yourself have no interest in reading about women, and feel justified in generalizing your own unique perspective on to all men, and drawing erroneous conclusions from those false premises.
I love this collection, and besides everything you've noted, Brit, loved the Afterword especially for its beautiful meditation on what writing in different languages does to one's prose. Her talk of how she can take liberties with Swedish that she can't take with English, and how that shapes her prose style, was completely fascinating and wonderful to me.
I've had Aaronovitch recommended to me very strongly, and look forward to reading his stuff.
I'd recommend Greg Rucka's work (in graphic novel form) in general -- Queen & Country and the first 4 issues of Whiteout in particular.
Lovely post -- and I HAVE BEEN EATING SUSHI IMPOLITELY ALL THIS TIME. I totally went in search of a resource to prevent my getting my head lopped off by an irate master. I blush to think of the wonderful folks at Tokyo Sushi in Ottawa who put up with my fumbling Western ways! I MUST GO BACK AND MAKE GOOD. And eat more sushi.
What a beautifully articulated review. Thank you!
"where the old world looked at a woman alone and immortal and said: she must long to die, I have tried to say: look at her live!"
One thing I find myself wondering is if Energy Bending can remove latent bending. So, for instance, I wonder if it's a potential plot development that Korra will have her Earth, Fire, and Water Bending abilities removed towards the end of the Air Book, and find the means to developing them THROUGH developing Air Bending and the spiritual approach it requires -- leading her to then need to rebuild her other bending skills from scratch in subsequent books.
Thank you so much for this, Brit. It completely made my evening.
Don't you ever feel
like you're just
a story someone is telling
about someone like you?
GAH. This is gorgeous.
LesleyA: My pleasure! Best of luck with the story! (It was a very beautiful house.)