I'm right there with you regarding The House in the Cerulean Sea. I'm glad so many people enjoyed it but the worldbuilding and the psychological realism fell flat for me.
Thanks for the free samples! Looking forward to reading more!
Ben: I just got the "Shirksy" and "Ullman" name references. Nice.
“I’ve always wanted to try sleeping."
What a fun reveal!
I've read Autonomous and so I get something special out of this -- so glad to see these characters happier and growing.
Fun and rejuvenating -- thank you. I found this via a link from Julia Rios, who said, "This story (with art by John Picacio!) was perfect to read while I was exhausted and needed a little hope." The ending made me so happy.
I've now read the entire work and I loved it. I hope people who enjoyed the Imperial Radch series or who have ever felt alienated from their jobs or coworkers pick this up and take a look!
It's just such a good comic. And the letters section is so joyous.
There's a bit from the intro to Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness I really love:
Yes, indeed the people in it are androgynous, but that doesn’t mean that I’m predicting that in a millennium or so we will all be androgynous, or announcing that I think we damned well ought to be androgynous. I’m merely observing, in the peculiar, devious, and thought-experimental manner proper to science fiction, that if you look at us at certain odd times of day in certain weathers, we already are. I am not predicting, or prescribing. I am describing. I am describing certain aspects of psychological reality in the novelist’s way, which is by inventing elaborately circumstantial lies.
Carework is something we piece together, in the US, from our kin networks (and the burden disproportionately falls on women), from friends and communities (including neighbors and religious communities), from bits of safety-net government programs.... I appreciate how Walton demonstrates that in "A Burden Shared" and sketches how it would look if we added an app but didn't change any of those other underlying problems.
Big congrats to all the nominees. Thank you to everyone who nominated, and to the people who volunteer to administer this award and keep it going!
I am so excited about this.
Coloring in the Lions, a coloring book featuring vintage art from the NYPL archive; a yet-to-be-titled picture book starring the stoic lions who stand in front of the Library’s main building, Patience and Fortitude
This is so exciting! So cool! Glad to hear of this initiative.
What a captivating story. The narrator's voice feels super real -- traumatized and strong and alienated and loyal. I liked the moments where the narrator got surprised -- oh crap he did have a radio, or the General seemingly going off-script -- as a balance to the supercompetence displayed elsewhere. And it's refreshing to see the competence demonstrations, loyalty, sacrifice, tradecraft, and suspense I'd usually see milsf deployed in a story about the defense of an egalitarian commune in the woods.
I believe I noticed that the reader never gets told the narrator's gender -- I appreciated that.
I love the point of view and the voice in this story. And I'm a New Yorker, and the truth in this story about living in cities and becoming part of them rings so so true.
Some of my favorite bits:
my ancestors’ bones under Wall Street, my predecessors’ blood ground into the benches of Christopher Park
There’s no gap between me and the city anymore.
We got this. Don’t sleep on the city that never sleeps, son, and don’t fucking bring your squamous eldritch bullshit here.
filthy and fierce
Thank you, N.K. Jemisin!
Oh I wish I could see this right now!
I loved this story when it first came out and I love it perhaps even more now. I love that it's about two people working together to make stuff, that Marisol and Richard become friends, that his crankiness is the crankiness of someone who loves excellence and despises lazy writing and thoughtlessness. I love the comparison of cliches to plaque, and "Anything is better than unearned ambivalence." I love that there is no villain in this story. And I love that it's hopeful, that with creativity and love and working together and systematic thought, we can turn things around.
I liked the psychological realism and the local politics flavor of this story -- as though Maureen McHugh visited Night Vale. :) And the premise, the epic background story, is thought-provoking.
I'm reminded of Ann Leckie's non-face-punching restaurant analogy.
Updated U of Texas Press link. Currently $13.37 (a discount off the usual $19.95).
The cakes-and-counters demonstration is thorough, isn’t it?
I sometimes sum up the lesson of a liberal arts education as: socially constructed things are real, too. (And, by the way, you are not immune, no matter how smart you are, and it’s not like Rumpelstiltskin, where once you’ve named the thing it has no power over you. And consequently, socially constructed things are worth studying and working on and fixing and spending energy on.)
People who appreciated the critique of class and empire in the Ancillary trilogy might also be interested in the fourth and fifth books in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist series, Valour and Vanity & Of Noble Family, though to get the whole effect I’d recommend reading the whole series in order. Our characters start off, in book one, experiencing artistic aristocratic lives in the quiet heart of the British Empire. And then in books 4 and 5 we get some incisive thoughts about the labour that the empire is based on.
I wish that before I'd written this I'd seen Abigail Nussbaum's post on this topic.
I'm so excited and looking forward to this! PROPERTY RIGHTS SCIFI YESSSS
Another sweet Ruthanna Emrys story, yay! I particularly liked the growth of honest collegiality between the narrator and the proctor AI. Ohhhh how frustrating and hope-inducing it can be to deeply want to see sentience in The Other. And the research question made me want to reread "Omnilingual", which Tor.com alerted me to years ago.
I was an inattentive reader and missed, on my first reading, that the narrator was deaf. I noticed the signing, but I assumed that the team members signed to each other because some of them were not native speakers of English or a similar spoken language (because they were from various countries or various planets, and perhaps some of them were aliens) and so a sign language was their best common language. Only when I got to the comments did I notice what other people had noticed, and go back, and see what I'd missed. I am chagrined for missing it and I will have to ensure that I make less ableist assumptions in the future!
Looking back, I see that I had skimmed paragraphs that included pretty clear "the narrator is deaf" cues (e.g., the cochlear implant) because they were in the midst of other description, and I have some kind of mental block that makes it really hard to parse and pay attention to visual descriptions (e.g., "Meanwhile the sky darkens"). My fault! I appreciate reading a story with a deaf protagonist. And I appreciate other commenters, e.g., MadGastronomer, for their commentary that helps me think about this depiction and the context of the rest of the story.
The research is the context of the relationship in the same way that the specific location of a sculpture is the context for that sculpture
the desire to make art marries with the desire to give pleasure to an audience you know really intimately and of which you are a part
I have not yet read or seen Othello and this essay makes me want to, and gives me some language for considering things I love in literature and friends. Thanks.
I appreciated getting to see this perspective, as a new-ish MCU fan deciding whether to start watching "Agents of SHIELD" -- thanks!
Be careful of only investing excitement and significance in what I'll call the public theater of (often male-identified) public action.People interested in reflecting more specifically on the women of Pratchett's Discworld may like to read Tansy Rayner Roberts's series of essays on that topic. One insight that I also think follows from Ms. Elliott's piece is the point that, since doing evil things is part of the human condition, some women characters will do evil things. We gotta make room for unlikeable women protagonists, and for women who do evil things as they climb political ladders, like Claire Underwood and Kai Winn. I'm also curious whether anyone in this discussion has done the Writing The Other workshop, and whether they found it also helped them write characters of genders that they're not.
Brigid was old enough to understand that her house was full of "nice" things, though "nice" to her meant "alienating and not to be touched."
I read Midnight's Children. I read Cryptonomicon. And now I've read Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White. And now I say to you that a modern author who dazzles you with his witty, ultra-literate prose in a novel of over 500 pages will, without fail, cop out with a wholly inadequate ending. Argh! Such promising introductions and such jaw-droppingly disappointing conclusions, or absences thereof. It's like they're all Kevin Smith.
For a television show about humanity finding a better future in the stars, TOS is pretty paranoid and mistrustful of the machines people build to take them there. It's always the insane supercomputer or the malfunctioning space probe or, in this case, the computer whose records have been tampered with and can't be trusted. The centerpiece of "Court Martial" is Kirk's defense attorney, a card-carrying technophobe, giving a speech about how humanity (of whatever species) must always be the master of cold machinery lest we lose our own humanity (of whatever variety). This argument is the direct ancestor of the argument used against Data in "Measure of a Man": that because he's a piece of technology, he does not partake of humanity and must be owned and administered by it. "Measure of a Man" puts one of the underlying themes of TOS on trial and shows that it hasn't held up well.
Evie stared in horror at the pregnancy test. I wish I could go back in time, not just freeze it, she desperately prayed. "Did I do that?" Urkel squeaked.