copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I still have to review Extra Virginity as well, but I actually liked that one, so it will take longer to compose….

One of the things I did get done yesterday between work, the ball game, and the Epic Sunburn, was finish a slim book of short stories called A City Equal to My Desire by James Sallis. This wasn’t a book that was recommended to me, which means I don’t have to feel bad about truly disliking it. I found it in a keyword search on the library website for books about ukuleles, and it has a short story called Ukulele And The World’s Pain, which admittedly was one of the better stories in the book despite still not being very good.

From what I can tell, he did pick the best story out of the book to develop into a novel, “Drive”, but it is very obviously unfinished in short-story form. Sallis has a couple of ongoing problems in the short story collection, one of which is that he tends to skip the vital information you need in order to know what the fuck is going on. And not in a “the blanks slowly get filled in” way, or in a “your imagination is more terrible” way (though there is a little of that) but just in a way where like…he says something that you understand to be vital to the story but which is missing context, then spends like a page describing the fucking diner someone’s sitting in, and by then any context forthcoming doesn’t get linked back. It’s like being in the middle of a paragraph when you hit the photo plates in an older book – yes the photos are very interesting thank you but I need to finish the thought you were sharing with me before I go back and look at them. I think maybe he thinks this is challenging the reader but it’s not, it’s just annoying and makes what are otherwise interesting premises totally opaque. I shouldn’t need to work this hard for a story about a hit man who decides not to kill a politician. 

If the book had a more cohesive theme in terms of the stories, it might be more readable – he clearly enjoys building worlds and then doesn’t quite know what to do with them once he’s built them, so if this was an entire book of “weird and different worlds” ala Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, I would buy in more fully and I think he would have put a little more elbow in. But it’s not. It’s mostly “here’s a really interesting world and a person living in squalor in it does something while being in it”. Also he appears to be fascinated by describing things that are shaped like pi. And a lot of times it feels like he read a wikipedia article on something and wanted to share some knowledge, so he just kind of built a half-assed story around his wikiwander. 

And all of this I would probably let go if say, it was something I was noticing in a fanfic writer, or someone who was just starting out, or someone I felt was genuinely trying to get a point across. But there’s this inexplicable sense of arrogance to the collection, a sort of smugness to it that in professional writers drives me up the goddamn wall. Stephen King sometimes falls into the same trap, where it feels like the author believes they don’t have to respect their readers because they are The Writer. 

The thing about volumes of short stories is that you keep reading it because sometimes there is a real gem. And there are one or two good stories in the volume, but I don’t know if they’re worth the rest of it. 

So my review I guess is mostly me being annoyed, but it boils down to “If you like short stories in the SFF Noir genre, give it a whirl, but if you’re bored with a story none of them get better, so feel free to skip to the next one.” 

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DE: Getting through the week

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:30 am
inlovewithwords: (collide)
[personal profile] inlovewithwords posting in [community profile] ways_back_room
Well, we made it to another Friday. My week, and the end of the week in general, has me thinking:

Sometimes things get overwhelming. Saving the world is as draining and frustrating as it is uplifting and invigorating; sometimes just plain old work gets utterly bogged down; even the nuts and bolts of being a supervillain can be unwieldy. How does your character maintain their drive and energy to achieve their goals?

Kidlet story

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:23 pm
resonant: Little Red Riding Hood and wolf. Text: "La beta noire." (beta noire)
[personal profile] resonant
New Draco-centric story from the kidlet over at AO3! I betaed. I even offered some comments that were not smiley faces.

I know exactly why I walk and talk like a machine (24327 words) by terminally_underwhelmed
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: Minor or Background Relationship(s), Pre-Harry/Draco - Relationship
Characaters: Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa Black Malfoy, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Blaise Zabini, Luna Lovegood, Arthur Weasley, Astoria Greengrass, more like ace-storia amirite, various OCs, Minor Characters
Additional Tags: Epilogue What Epilogue, War Aftermath, Emotional Growth, Bureaucracy, Pre-Slash, Friendship, headcanon dump
Series: Part 1 of Solitaire/Mercenary
Summary:

They're together when the Dark Lord falls.

Draco is barely aware of his own senses, half-blind and exhausted from months upon months of corrosive fear, and whatever shred of reality is still allotted to him is in his father’s urgent grip on his shoulder and his mother’s hands around his and the way he leans on both of them.

vacaaaaaaation

Jul. 20th, 2017 08:51 pm
watersword: Fall foliage on the edge of a lake (Stock: autumn)
[personal profile] watersword
I have done everything that needs to be done outside my apartment building except get food for the plane. Now it is merely domestic things (laundry, cleaning, packing) and time which stands between me and blissful freedom. I await a delivery burrito (not for the plane).

I still feel like I don't have enough ebooks.

(no subject)

Jul. 20th, 2017 05:36 pm
skygiants: Fakir from Princess Tutu leaping through a window; text 'doors are for the weak' (drama!!!)
[personal profile] skygiants
Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age is a fairly fascinating book that's trying to do a lot of things at once: the book starts out with the dramatic recounting of MURDER!!! and then immediately takes, if not a deep dive, at least a vigorous swim through such varied topics as the history of British radio and the BBC, Keynesian economic philosophy, copyright limitations, and the founding of Sealand in order to contextualize it.

Once we get back to the story of the murder itself, however, it turns out: IT'S BONKERS. The principals in the case are two pirate radio impresarios in 1966. Oliver Smedley, An Ardent Free-Trade Capitalist, was running a station called Radio Atlanta on a boat off the coast; Reggie Calvert, A Dance Hall Impresario, had taken over an entire abandoned British navy fort called Shivering Sands in the Thames Estuary and staffed it with a rotating encampment of youths running a station called Radio City. At one point Smedley and Calvert were going to have a merger, but then they had an ACRIMONIOUS BREAKUP spurred on in part by:

- the fact that Smedley was supposed to give Calvert a shiny new transmitter and instead provided an old one that never worked
- the fact that Smedley never paid all the bills he had promised Calvert that Radio Atlanta would pay
- the fact that Calvert got sick of all this and decided to merge with another station instead

The reason for all these pirate radio stations on boats and naval forts, by the way, is because in 1966 there was no legal pop radio in the UK (as explained, extensively, via the history of radio and Keynesian economic theory etc. that makes up the first half of the book). Because the pirates were technically outside of UK territory, on the other hand, they could technically get away with doing whatever they wanted, or at least the government like "it will be way too embarrassing to launch a huge naval raid against a bunch of youths on was a fort with a radio transmitter, so let's not."

HOWEVER, the fact that everything was happening outside of territorial waters where British laws and police had no jurisdiction BACKFIRED when:

- Ardent Free-Trade Capitalist Smedley decided he was so mad that Calvert had made a deal without him that he was going to MAKE SURE that the deal could never go through
- he was going to GET BACK HIS PROPERTY [the transmitter that had never worked]
- so he sent an ACTUAL OCCUPYING FORCE composed of out-of-work dockworkers to Shivering Sands, stole a bunch of key broadcasting equipment, took a bunch of it back to the mainland, and left a bunch of toughs to hold everybody who was on the station at that time hostage!!!
- (when they met the invading force, the hostage broadcasters were like 'welp' and made everybody tea)
- ("the vessel had to return briefly to pick up [the contractor who recruited the gang], who had been left behind drinking his tea")
- and then Smedley went to Calvert and his partner, an actual professional broadcaster, and was like 'I will not let you broadcast from there again or finish making your deal unless you pay me FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS'

Naturally, everyone involved was like 'wtf????' and refused to pay Smedley a dime; Calvert threatened to involve the police but the police were like 'ummmmmm technically we can't do anything for the same reasons we haven't been able to stop you from broadcasting;' Calvert then made a whole bunch of other even wilder threats; and all the hired dockworkers sat around cheerfully charging Smedley for hostaging operations which he was rapidly running out of money for.

Anyway, in the middle of all this, Calvert drove out to Smedley's house in the middle of the night and started screaming at him, and Smedley shot him and then claimed self-defense and that his HOSTILE OCCUPATION OF A POP RADIO STATION was just a little joke gone wrong! No harm no foul if only Calvert hadn't been so UPSET about it! It did help Smedley's self-defense case that Calvert happened to be carrying A FAKE PEN FULL OF NERVE GAS at the time, which apparently, according to his family, he always carried around just for safekeeping.

...so the author's point in writing about all this seems to be that a.) this incident was crucial in getting the pirate radio boats shut down and the formation of the current BBC radio system that includes actual pop radio, b.) that this is all a forerunner of later copyright battles and offshore data centers and so on, c.) pirate-radio-on-boats in the 1960s was a WILD TIME. About the latter, at least, he is most surely not mistaken.

(This has nothing to do with the main brunt of the book but I have to spare a mention for Radio City's chief engineer, who later was hired by the mob! to perform an assassination attempt!! using a spring-loaded hypodermic needle full of cyanide!!! in what it turns out was ACTUALLY a sting operation by the U.S. Treasury department who picked the hapless Radio City engineer to act as the assassin because "he needed the fee while being clearly incapable of killing anybody"!!!! This whole incident gets two pages in the book because it's somewhat irrelevant to the author's argument but seriously, where is this guy's movie?

For the record, the same mobsters then tried to intimidate Reggie Calvert's widow into selling them the remnants of the station and she was like 'lol no' and they were like '....well, when a lady knows her own mind, she knows her own mind! No hard feelings.')
needsmoreresearch: (Default)
[personal profile] needsmoreresearch posting in [community profile] ways_back_room
The third play in the set that my guy William comes from is pretty much James III saying "Everyone in Europe is having a Renaissance and I want one too," and his wife saying "That's lovely dear but we can't afford a Renaissance."

So today's DE is: What would your characters splash out a fortune on, if only they had a fortune to splash around? For the fabulously wealthy characters, what's a big expenditure that they feel genuinely satisfied with?

Shout outs

Jul. 19th, 2017 11:23 pm
ceitfianna: (paper butterfly)
[personal profile] ceitfianna posting in [community profile] ways_back_room
I hope everyone's week is going well and not too horribly hot.

Eric and Pam have some very bad days.

The crew of the Ghost causes trouble and has serious discussions about what they're doing.

A creature is loose in Milliways.

This ended up a OOM heavy post so share what EPs and threads you've finished and are following.
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I am like….90% sure I’m going camping this Friday. 

It depends a bit on the weather, but I’m mostly packed, I’ve cooked food that’s currently waiting in the freezer, and I have acquired the third Diane Mott Davidson book to read. 

The plan is to leave work early, catch the train to the campground, camp overnight, and in the morning hike out to a different train station further down the line, about a seven-mile trek, to do a longer endurance test than last weekend’s. Then I’ll catch the train home around noon on Saturday.

If something goes wrong, I can catch an evening train home on Friday until eight o’clock, or starting in the morning at 5:30, with little to no exertion. It’s pretty low-risk and I’m well stocked. I don’t have a sleeping pad, but my backpack has a partial one built-in, and I have one arriving tomorrow (though it might be too bulky, we’ll see). And honestly in this heat, I might just sleep on top of my sleeping bag in any case. 

Worst case scenario, the campground has heated, lockable shower cubicles with nice big floors. I’ve slept on worse. 

Caaaaaaamping! *jazz hands*

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Wednesday DE: Memento

Jul. 19th, 2017 12:47 pm
yakalskovich: (Nebra Sk Disc)
[personal profile] yakalskovich posting in [community profile] ways_back_room
Does your character keep some special object that their faith, destiny or goal can be focused on? It doesn't have to be religious, it could be deeply personal (in our pre-Millicanon, Galen keeping Jyn's toy stormtrooper) or a reminder of revenge (in the movie of LotR, Aragorn taking and wearing Boromir's glove). Keepsakes from lovers and statues of gods are of course a possibility, as well.


This daily entertainment post was inspired by the cuddly toy Bastet from the British Musuem which my actual living cats are now revering.

The episodes that never were

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:12 pm
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] resonant
[personal profile] lunabee34 says: "Tell me about the episode (or book chapter) that never appeared in one of your fandoms but should have."

Star Trek TNG: "The Price" is such a god-awful episode that when it leaves those two Ferengi in their shuttlecraft stranded in the Delta Quadrant and doesn't bother to tell us what became of them, that's not even the worst of its crimes. (The worst of its crimes is probably what Crusher and Troi wear to do aerobics.) Anyhow, yes, the Ferengi were acting like jerks, but they didn't deserve to die the kind of death that you'd die stranded in a shuttlecraft 30,000 light-years from home. I think either they should reappear as part of the Borg collective, or the Voyager crew should find them.

Due South: More Ray&Ray. Doesn't everyone want more Ray&Ray? Make RayK go to meet a new informant and discover that it's the Bookman.

The Princess Bride 2: the story of how Buttercup wound up being the Dread Pirate Roberts.
inlovewithwords: (bound to write)
[personal profile] inlovewithwords posting in [community profile] ways_back_room
Hello, Tuesday in Milliways! Guess this is a new normal now. So, speaking of things becoming normal:

What traumatic experience has become normalized to your character?

Not that DEs are traumatic.

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 11:54 pm
mnt_mike: (Default)
[personal profile] mnt_mike posting in [community profile] ways_back_room
Welcome back from the weekend, folks!
Apps will be processed soon. Thanks you so much for your patience.

In the meantime...

HAPPY HOUR SHIFTS for this week include:

Today! or what's left of it.
Tomorrow (which would be Tuesday)
Wednesday!
Thursday!
Friday!
Saturday!
Sunday!

First to claim, gets first pick to serve!
Have at!

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:54 pm
skygiants: C-ko the shadow girl from Revolutionary Girl Utena in prince drag (someday my prince will come)
[personal profile] skygiants
[personal profile] genarti read The Privilege of the Sword for the first time recently, because I had been telling her to since 2008, and then kept trying to talk to me about it. Unfortunately at this point I did not remember most of the things she was trying to talk to me about because I hadn't read it since 2007, so eventually I also had to reread it in self-defense.

It turns out this is still and probably will always be my favorite Ellen Kushner book. The central plotline follows Katherine, a cheerful young lady who gets invited to restore the family fortunes by going to live with her incredibly weird uncle in the big city and becoming a swordsman!

Unlike many plucky heroines, Katherine does not initially have really any interest at all in cross-dresing or becoming a swordsman. However, eventually she comes to enjoy swordfighting for its own sake, helped along by the mentorship of her incredibly weird uncle's nice ex-boyfriend, the necessity of dueling for a friend's honor, and the discovery that bisexuality and gender fluidity are potentially relevant concepts to her teen coming-of-age story.

...that's the A-plot! B, C, D, E, and F plots include:

- Katherine's mom's reparation of her relationship with Katherine's weird uncle
- Katherine's weird uncle's actress girlfriend's dreamy new cross-dressing fantasy Broadway show
- Katherine's weird uncle's unfortunate friendship breakup with his mathematician bestie
- Katherine's bff's attempts to overcome trauma from rape-by-fiance by engaging in romantic gay roleplay via letter-writing
- Katherine's other bff's attempts to overcome trauma from an abusive childhood by engaging in competitive voyeurism
- Katherine's bff's gigolo cousin's star-crossed romance with a scriptwriter/potter who is on the run from her abusive in-laws who do not appear in this book
- trade routes?? politics?????

I'm pretty sure that's not all the plots. There are so many plots in this book. It's fine because the plots are barely the point at best, the point is coming-of-age and life after trauma and thumbing your nose at Societal Conventions while getting to know and like yourself! I especially enjoy how in the end, spoilers )

(Note: emo murderous Alec from Swordspoint drives me up a wall in his own book, but is significantly more tolerable to me when he's just Katherine's incredibly weird uncle. I mean he still drives me up a wall here but it's much funnier when he's driving everyone else up a wall too.)
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] resonant
- There's a group of people who detest it on principle. Asked to define it, they create a definition that basically sorts everything into two categories: Things I Hate, Which Therefore Belong To the Genre I Hate, and Things I Like, Which Obviously Do Not Belong To the Genre I Hate. (Ask a classic rock fan who hates country about Crosby, Stills, & Nash. Or a classic sci-fi fan who hates fantasy about Pern.)

- Traditionally, about a third of it was worthless due to sentimentality.

- More recently, another third of it is worthless because capitalism endlessly churns it out in identical shiny plastic pieces.

- When it's bad, there's nothing worse.

- When it's good, it captures the human spirit so well that it brings tears to your eyes.
[personal profile] alexbayleaf

Originally published at Spinster's Bayley. You can comment here or there.

I recently took part in a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) – 15 days of classes and hands-on activities covering everything from ecology to passata-making, spread over the first half of this year. I’d been told that doing a PDC makes you see the world differently. I must admit that I didn’t find this to be […]

Doctor Who series 10

Jul. 17th, 2017 02:54 pm
watersword: Karen Gillan as Amelia Pond in season 5 of Doctor Who (Doctor Who: Amelia Pond)
[personal profile] watersword
Having gotten excited about the Thirteenth Doctor and having finished watching the almost-last of the Twelfth — I am dubious about the Christmas special, given Moffat's Moffatness, but apparently this show is doing its usual thing:
part of the charm of Doctor Who is that it jumps the shark every couple of weeks, swims back under it in the other direction, puts a fricking laser beam on its fricking head, makes it meet its doppelgänger, beams it off to a vaudeville stage to perform a surrealist version of Mack the Knife, reveals that it’s actually the mastermind of a cunning plot to rig an underwater mining dispute, implicates it in a grandfather paradox, kills it off, brings it back with no explanation, angsts about killing it off, jumps it one more time, and then suddenly blindsides you with an episode that reminds you of all the feelings you ever had about that fucking shark in the first place. — tenlittlebullets

and we're in the "reminds you of all the feelings you ever had about that fucking shark in the first place" period of the cycle — I would like to be linked to reactions to the series 10 finale! What did you think?

Let's assume spoilers in the comments.

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:48 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[tumblr.com profile] readera's partner, J, has been in the ER multiple times in the past three months, and their finances are very strained because of it. They're raising $300-$500 for transportation costs and medicine; you can read more and reblog here or give directly here.

[tumblr.com profile] sleepyheathen needs to make next month's rent and is selling items, offering commissions, accepting donations, and has an Amazon wishlist up. You can read more, purchase, or reblog here, or donate via paypal here.

[tumblr.com profile] tony-in-distress is trying to escape an abusive situation and hoping to take her siblings with her. She needs to raise enough money for a deposit on a safe house for her and her siblings to live in. You can read more and help out here.

Anon is raising funds to help a friend cover debt and pay for legal bills after her abusive husband took custody of their youngest son. You can read more and give here; unfortunately due to Australian law apparently they can't provide much information.

Sarah Sadat had to leave her job recently due to stress and is facing mounting medical bills for a failing kidney and previous hospitalization; she has surgery scheduled for next month, and is fundraising to help cover medical and other bills. You can read more and give to the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] ohstephyy was let go from a job three months ago and hasn't been able to get another one; there are also other costs coming up to cover. You can read more and reblog here; a paypal address is available at the post.

[personal profile] laurashapiro linked to a fundraiser for [personal profile] kuwdora, a talented vidder who is trying to become a professional editor. She has an opportunity for professional coaching from the editor of Burn Notice and Empire, but can't afford the expenses on her own. You can read more and help out here.

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] tiarasnteakettles who is looking for work as a harpist, including attempting to purchase a harp that would be a massive upgrade from her current instrument and allow her more freedom in performance. You can read more about her situation and reblog here, including links to her Patreon and online store and Paypal donation address.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

News To Know:

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] wanderlust-anthology, an upcoming anthology of reimagined myths, legends, and folklore based on the theme Quests and Journeys. They are looking for creators for this anthology, which will be a full-color printed book with stories, comics, and artwork. You can read more at their tumblr or at the FAQ here; sign-ups close July 30th.

Housing:

Riel is looking for a roommate in Austin, TX to share a townhouse; she and the other roommate (male) are both grad students, and they do have a cat. Riel is very fandom-friendly. Lease starts in August. You can check out the townhouse here and get in touch at ariellayendler at gmail.com.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

Monday DE

Jul. 17th, 2017 06:53 am
needsmoreresearch: (Default)
[personal profile] needsmoreresearch posting in [community profile] ways_back_room
Subbing in again!

Has your character ever been stuck with a job or a task that they were really, really not suited for? How did it go? Was it a long-term thing, the whole premise of the character, or just a one-off WHY DID YOU ASK ME TO BABYSIT?!?! situation? .....Did they survive?

Remix...and looking ahead?

Jul. 17th, 2017 12:47 am
gramarye1971: Old Ways (TDIR: Old Ways)
[personal profile] gramarye1971
Signed up for [community profile] remixrevival, because Parallels doesn't seem to be running this year and I'm in need of a midsummer fic exchange to boost creativity levels. More people should sign up (especially if you're nominating anime/manga, because I am happy to adjust my own offerings if people do)!

Writing that first sentence, though, made me stop and ponder: it's a bit past the time for it this year, but would people participate in an AO3-coordinated Dark Is Rising fic exchange next May/June? Perhaps with reveals timed for Midsummer's Day? I may post about it on [community profile] thedarkisrising, but since a significant body of that community overlaps with my flist, it's worth doing a straw poll for it here.