yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
My first introduction to Cordwainer Smith was "The Game of Rat and Dragon," which I'm guessing (alongside "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell") is his most anthologized story based on nothing more than guesswork and the fact that, for years after that story, it was the only Smith I could find. (Admittedly, this was not helped by spending high school in South Korea. [1])

"The Game of Rat and Dragon" has stuck better in my memory, but at some point in college I was delighted to discover that there were more Instrumentality stories. The one that I remembered, years later, as being particularly interesting was "The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal." Peculiarly, I remembered that it had an unusual narrative structure/format, but not anything useful about its plot. Cue yesterday when I actually reread it, having checked out the posthumous collection When the People Fell from the library, and being bemused to discover that this story was almost certainly, before I ever heard of fanfic on the internet, my introduction to mpreg.

A spoilery discussion of the story follows beneath the cut.

[1] My high school library's sf/f holdings were very eclectic. They had a couple decades' worth of Analog under Stanley Schmidt. I read every page of every issue available, and remain fond of the zine although I have not read it in over a decade. They also had old classics like John Wyndham's Re-Birth, amusing curiosities like a litcrit book on the best fantasy novels by Michael Moorcock (possibly with a co-author; I no longer remember) in which he immodestly listed his own Stormbringer, a number of old Nebula anthologies, and a copy of Harlan Ellison's (ed.) Dangerous Visions that I read two or three or four times before someone else stole it or, more charitably, checked it out and lost it. (Years later, I still think Philip José Farmer's "Riders of the Purple Wage" was insufferably boring, and Delany's "Aye, and Gomorrah" makes zero sense when you are barely aware of what sex is.) They had Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, which is where I encountered them. On the other hand, the librarians were very friendly, and for a number of years, because my sister and I were the only ones who made use of the request box, we pretty much got them to buy whatever we wanted to read for the year.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:40 am
yhlee: voidmoth with starry wings in a triangle (hxx emblem Nirai)
[personal profile] yhlee
Which faction of the hexarchate are you? [Solaris Books].

A quiz! I get Nirai...?!

Links

Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:10 pm
selenak: (rootbeer)
[personal profile] selenak
Confessions of a Trekker: I really don't like ST VI - The Undiscovered Country. Which is, I've discovered, something of a minority opinion, for at least the vocal part of fandom holds this last cinematic outing of the TOS crew in a fond light. However, now and then the dissent becomes vocal, too, as in this rewatch post about the movie in question .


In more fun Trek news, check out this vid about everyone's favourite Cardassian tailor-plus-spy:

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

(Every now and then I wish the movies instead of going for the nth version of Wrath of Khan (with or without a villain called Khan) would tackle the Cardassians instead. And then I conclude the movies would probably mishandle the Cardassians as badly as they did the Romulans, and am glad the Cardassians so far have been reserved for tv.)

And lastly, a BSG fanfic rec:

Rippling Light: tender and heartbreaking take on the friendship of Felix Gaeta and Anastasia Dualla, two characters for whom the phrase "they deserved better" might have been invented.

[hxx] [story] Squirrel-Fishing

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:29 pm
yhlee: fox with nine tails with eyes (hxx emblem Shuos)
[personal profile] yhlee
For A.B.
Prompt: "Shuos pranks."

with apologies to the black squirrels of Stanford University campus

Jedao and Ruo had set up shop at the edge of one of the campus gardens, the one with the carp pond and the carefully maintained trees. Rumor had it that some of the carp were, in addition to being over a hundred years old, outfitted with surveillance gear. Like most Shuos cadets, Jedao and Ruo would, if questioned, laugh off the rumors while secretly believing in them wholeheartedly--at least the bit about surveillance gear. Jedao had argued that the best place to hide what they were doing was in plain sight. After all, who would be so daft as to run a prank right next to surveillance?

"Lovely day, isn't it?" Ruo said brightly.

Jedao winced. "Not so loud," he said. His head was still pounding after last night's excesses, and the sunlight wasn't helping. Why did he keep letting Ruo talk him into things? It wasn't just that Ruo was really good in bed. He had this way of making incredibly risky things sound fun. Going out drinking? In itself, not that bad. Playing a drinking game with unlabeled bottles of possibly-alcohol-possibly-something-else stolen from Security's hoard of contraband? Risky. Some of those hallucinations had been to die for, though, especially when he started seeing giant robots in the shape of geese.

Fortunately, this latest idea wasn't that risky. Probably. Besides, of the many things that the other cadets had accused Jedao of, low risk tolerance wasn't one of them.

"Not my fault you can't hold your drink," Ruo said, even more brightly.

"I'm going to get you one of these days," Jedao muttered.

Ruo's grin flashed in his dark brown face. "More like you'll lose the latest bet and--" He started describing what he'd do to Jedao in ear-burning detail.

At last one of the other first-years, puzzled by what Jedao and Ruo were doing by the carp pond with a pair of fishing poles, approached. Jedao recognized them: Meurran, who was good at fixing guns despite their terrible aim, and who had a glorious head of wildly curling hair. "Security's not going to approve of you poaching the carp," Meurran said.

"Oh, this isn't for the carp," Ruo said. He flicked his fishing pole, and the line with its enticing nut snaked out toward one of the trees.

Meurran gave Ruo a funny look. "Ruo," they said, "the fish are in the opposite direction."

"Please," Jedao said, "who cares about the fish? No one has anything to fear from the fish. That's just nonsense."

"All right," Meurran said, sounding distinctly unimpressed, "then what?"

Come on, Jedao thought, the nut is right there...

As if on cue, a black squirrel darted down from the tree, then made for the nut.

Ruo tugged the nut just out of reach.

The black squirrel looked around, then headed for the nut again.

"Oh, isn't that adorable?" Meurran said.

"Don't be fooled!" Ruo said as he guided the squirrel in a figure-eight through the grass. "Why would the commandant be so stupid as to rely on carp, which can't even leave their pond?"

Meurran glanced involuntarily at the pond, where two enormous carp were lazily circling near the surface, as if the carp, in fact, had a habit of oozing out onto the land and spying on lazy cadets. "You're saying the squirrels--?"

Ruo continued to cause the squirrel to chase after the nut. "It makes sense, doesn't it? Everyone thinks the black squirrels are the cutest. They're even featured in the recruitment literature. Damnably clever piece of social engineering if you ask me."

Meurran was starting to look persuaded in spite of themselves.

Meanwhile, as Ruo made his case, Jedao leaned back and studied the squirrel with a frown. The local population of black squirrels was mostly tame to begin with and had proven to be easy to train with the aid of treats. (Ruo had made Jedao do most of this, "because you're the farm boy.") But while Ruo and Meurran argued about squirrel population dynamics, Jedao caught a slight flash from behind the squirrel's eyes--almost like that of a camera?

He opened his mouth to interrupt.

The squirrel made an odd convulsing motion, and the light flashed again, this time directly into Jedao's eyes.

Jedao closed his mouth, and kept his thoughts to himself.

fountain pens!

Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:38 pm
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
I did an essay for Tor.com, The Beauty of Physical Writing, on fountain pens! There's a photo of some of my fountain pens over there.

From left to right, for the curious: Waterman 52V, Webster Four-Star, Scriptorium Pens Master Scrivener in Red Stardust, Conway Stewart Churchill in Red Stardust, Aurora 75th Anniversary, Nakaya Naka-ai in aka-tamenuri, Wahl-Eversharp Doric in Kashmir with #3 adjustable nib, and Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight.

Meanwhile, I swear I am writing flash fic right now. This caffeine is taking an unholy amount of time to kick in...

American Gods 1.08

Jun. 22nd, 2017 01:42 pm
selenak: (Illyria by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
Getting this done before the Munich Film Festival starts tomorrow (guests of honor: Bryan Cranston and Sofia Coppola, who brings her parents along!).

Now that the season is over, I'm still not sure whether Fuller's decision to stretch the main plot out and pace it the way he does is justified. I mean, we STILL haven't reached the House on the Rock yet, and I assumed that would happen in the third episode, as it's this story's Council of Elrond scene, so to speak. Just think of a LotR tv adaption where they've barely made out of the Shire by the time the season finishes. Otoh, all that Fuller & Co. have added does enrich the story and I wouldn't have wanted to miss it, so.

And the moral of the story is... )

an IMPORTANT question

Jun. 21st, 2017 04:04 pm
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
Poll #18516 trying to cheer myself up from rain/flood watch/tornado watch/tropical storm
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 34


If I were to attempt CHEESECAKE [0] pinup art of a hexarchate character for lulz, it should be

View Answers

Nirai Kujen
17 (50.0%)

Shuos Jedao
17 (50.0%)

Kel Cheris [1]
6 (17.6%)

Andan Tseya
3 (8.8%)

Shuos Khiaz
1 (2.9%)

someone else I will name in comments
1 (2.9%)

ticky the EXTREMELY DISAPPROVING tocky
2 (5.9%)



[0] May or may not feature CHEESY partial nudity.

[1] The incomparable [personal profile] telophase once did me a sketch of blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret because I kept joking that I would get a cover featuring blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret. (Hexarchate AU...?!)

(In real life, I'm working on an art assignment...ahahahahaha.)

(Dear Louisiana: PLEASE STOP RAINING. At least it isn't downpouring enough that I feel that I have to pack for emergency evacuation, it's just raining drearily, but...)

Orphan Black 5.02.

Jun. 21st, 2017 09:52 am
selenak: (Rachel by Naginis)
[personal profile] selenak
Still feeling listless (me, that is, not the series) and waiting for my enthusiasm for the show to come back.

Spoilery comments ensue. )

Better Call Saul 3.10

Jun. 20th, 2017 04:22 pm
selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
[personal profile] selenak
In which Saul takes a backseat to Jimmy again, and only some of my speculations turn out to be correct.

Read more... )

note to self

Jun. 20th, 2017 01:14 am
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
[personal profile] arduinna
When you keep seeing the "create factory recovery media" messages on your laptop, click okay at some point and create the freaking factory-reset backup.

This lesson brought to you courtesy of my small but intense panic when my laptop shut off and came up with a "boot drive not found" error, and then a "hard drive not installed" error when I found my way into the diagnostics. Gah.

Happily, it looks like it was just overheated/overhumid and a bit unhappy from some jostling, and it let me boot up a while later. At which point I sacrificed my good USB stick to the whole recovery-media thing pretty damn fast, lemme tell you, while crossing my fingers it wouldn't black-screen at me in the middle. (It did not! \o/) And then once that was safe I updated the backup software to the new version, and here I am.

... and yet, when the laptop popped up a chirpy "there's a new version installed, we need to update your backup media", I nearly hit "remind me later" because I was typing this post. *facepalm* *hits 'update now'*

And, uh, hi!

quick rec

Jun. 19th, 2017 06:19 pm
yhlee: (SKU: Anthy/Utena (credit: sher))
[personal profile] yhlee
Kat Howard's "The Key to St. Medusa's" [Lightspeed Magazine] is a gorgeous story about witches, and found family, and the hope at the heart of a fairytale:
My parents knew I was a witch before I was born. The signs were there, they told me. They were unmistakable.

Well. Not all of the signs, or they never would have kept me as long as they did. But enough: My mother’s hair, previously sedate and well-mannered, turned curly and wild during her pregnancy, sometimes even grabbing forks from other people’s hands at meals. Clocks ran backward when she went near them, and thirteen grey cats took up residence in our front yard for the last month before I was born.

Also, I was born on a Tuesday.

I loved this from beginning to end. It's a pretty fast read (under 4,000 words), in lucid candle-language. Give it a try.

[Note to the pedantic: my "books" tag is for stories as well because I am lazy and bad at tagging.]

RAVEN STRATAGEM open thread

Jun. 19th, 2017 05:27 pm
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee
Since it seems that some people have finished the book.

Ask questions! Discuss! Complain!

Expect there to be spoilers in comments.
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
anything so long as I don't have to keep typing "all units banner the Deuce of Gears"

Poll #18510 Hexarchate Stories
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 33


I am most interested in the following possible new stories in a hexarchate short collection

View Answers

Jedao backstory when he was growing up with his family
9 (27.3%)

what happened to Jedao's sister Nidana after Hellspin
20 (60.6%)

Jedao backstory when he was serving with the Kel
15 (45.5%)

what happens to Cheris after everything, with bonus math pedagogy
25 (75.8%)

how Kel Ragath got Up to Things
6 (18.2%)

gay romance on the Citadel of Eyes ([redacted]/Niath) with bonus angst
10 (30.3%)

the misadventures of Andan Zhe Navo during her first military assignment
14 (42.4%)

the founding of the heptarchate feat. Liozh and Kel
8 (24.2%)

mini-gamebook about Jedao and his first anchor (actually, you're getting this regardless)
10 (30.3%)

Nirai Mahar's backstory
3 (9.1%)

follow-up on Tseya vs. Mikodez
6 (18.2%)

Moroish Nija's training
3 (9.1%)

Mikodez's rise to power, feat. Zehun
15 (45.5%)

ticky the talky tocky
7 (21.2%)

something else I will suggest in comments
0 (0.0%)



ETA: If it helps, the mini-gamebook will also feature snarky commentary from Mikodez and Zehun.

[hxx] [story] Birthdays

Jun. 19th, 2017 04:10 pm
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
[personal profile] yhlee
For JT.
Prompt: hexarchate, "birth dates."

When she was six, Cheris stopped receiving Mwennin birthday pastries.

For reasons that wouldn't become clear to her until much later, her parents had just moved out of the Mwennin ghetto in the City of Ravens Feasting and to a small house nearer the sea. Cheris missed their old home, even though it had been smaller, and she also missed the other Mwennin children who gathered in the streets to skip rope, or play tag, or chant the counting games that were so risky in the hexarchate. But the new house wasn't all bad. It had a garden, and Cheris liked to chase the dragonflies or pick flowers for her mother and father.

Her mother had impressed upon her that she had two birthdays. One of them was the ordinary birthday that all hexarchate citizens shared. Everyone (so her mother said) was a year old when they were born, for the time spent either in womb or crèche, and then they added another year each New Year. This way no one's birthday was singled out.

But the Mwennin did it differently. They had their own calendar, which Cheris had memorized. Most nights her mother made her go to bed early so that she wouldn't be too tired in the morning when she had school. But sometimes her mother let her stay up, not to play make-believe with her collection of plush dragon toys or read a book, but to study the Mwennin calendar and its feast-days.

Cheris was very good at numbers, and very good at both the high calendar and the Mwennin calendar. Even after she'd gone to bed, she'd lay awake in the darkness, staring at the comforting candlevines that glowed faintly from the walls. Her mother and father always made sure to turn them down low, but not too low, so she wouldn't have to be afraid of the shadow-monsters that lived in the closet. Her teacher at school had assured her that, yes, meditation, especially during remembrances, would keep away the shadow-monsters, but when she repeated this to her parents, their faces turned sad, so she didn't talk about that anymore.

Because she was very good at calendars, she had a hard time falling asleep the night before her Mwennin birthday. Back in the old neighborhood, on your birthday, people would bring you pastries of fine flaky dough with sweet almond paste and rosewater syrup, or little kumquat candies, goat's milk caramels with little crunchy flecks of pistachios. And after dark, in the safety of your home, people would gather and sing songs in archaic Mwen-dal. Cheris liked the songs best of all, even if she stumbled over some of the words, because she had a clear, sweet voice and the adults always complimented her on how well she stayed in tune.

Her parents woke her early the next morning. She blinked up blearily at the pale morning light filtering through the curtains, then sat up in glee, thinking of the gifts that were to come. Then she noticed the looks on her parents' faces. They'd had the same ones when she said the teacher had encouraged her to meditate.

Cheris's father took her hands between his, then looked at Cheris's mother.

"Cheris," her mother said, "we can't celebrate your Mwennin birthday anymore. Do you understand? It's too risky."

Cheris didn't understand.

"You can have an extra dessert tonight," her mother went on. "But there will be no more Mwennin birthdays. Not for any of us."

Cheris snuffled.

Cheris's mother circled her with her arms. "We'll go for a walk by the shore when I get out of work," she said. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Cheris sensed that her mother was even more upset than she was, and her mother didn't even like sweets. At least, she always gave her sweets to Cheris. "I'm all right," she said, because she wanted to be brave for her mother. "Can we have extra pastries on New Year's instead?"

There was a catch in her mother's voice. "Of course, my dear."

Cheris still wasn't sure why her mother was upset. True, she had hoped for something nice to eat today, but if she had the same number of pastries in total over the course of the year, it was basically the same. It wasn't so important what day she got to eat them.

And her mother was as good as her promise. Every New Year after that, up until Cheris left for Kel Academy, there were extra pastries.
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
[personal profile] yhlee
I just typed, instead of "fine flaky dough," "fine flaky doe."

I never used to make stupid errors like this, but I am informed that the meds I'm on can screw with cognition and memory. :/

Doctor Who 10.10

Jun. 19th, 2017 03:14 pm
selenak: (Tourists by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
In which who penned the very last Classic Who adventure broadcast on tv in the 80s makes a comeback, lets Bill geek out over Rosemary Sutcliffe, and quotes Tacitus on us.

Read more... )
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
(I normally react violently negatively to people telling me what to read, haha, but here I cannot decide!)

What I went to the library to check out: Batman and Psychology. It was missing from the shelves of the main branch but the nice librarian put a copy on hold for me from one of the other branches, so I'll get to pick it up in a few days.

What I came away with from the one-cent-per-book discard sale:

- Replica and Resistance by Jenna Black. Casual perusal of the back cover suggests there is a replica with missing memories from his original who has been murdered PLEASE DON'T SUCK I eat this particular trope up with SPOONS.

- Gail Carriger's Curtsies and Conspiracies, Waistcoats and Weaponry, and Manners and Mutiny, books 2-4 of Finishing School; I will have to obtain book 1 somehow (I think someone else beat me to it at the discard sale). I don't even CARE if they're any good, those are fab titles, and at one cent per book it's hard to argue.--It turns out the library has book 1, Etiquette and Espionage, on Overdrive, so I could theoretically start it whenever I wanted to.

- David Marusek's Getting to Know You, a short story collection--the name sounds familiar but I can't place it. Anyway, I'll try the short stories and who knows? Maybe I'll enjoy them. Again, at one cent, not a huge loss if it's not for me after all.

- And finally, THE BEST FIND (well, other than CLONE AMNESIA, which is always Relevant To My Interests): America's Maritime Heritage by Eloise Engle & Arnold S. Lott, ©1975 by the United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland. I am dying of curiosity and also, I suck at all naval history that is not the Imjin War, so even a flawed--even a jingoistic--textbook will be interesting.

Poll #18507 What should I read first?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 35


Which book(s) from my library haul should I read first?

View Answers

David Marusek's GETTING TO KNOW YOU
0 (0.0%)

Engle & Lott's AMERICA'S MARITIME HERITAGE
11 (31.4%)

Gail Carriger's ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE
16 (45.7%)

Jenna Black's REPLICA
11 (31.4%)

ticky the tacky tocky!
6 (17.1%)



ETA: Feel free to elaborate on your votes in comments! =)

No, no, no!

Jun. 18th, 2017 03:22 pm
selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
[personal profile] selenak
Now, universe, this is just not fair. Stephen Furst has died, whoh played the wonderful Vir Cotto in my beloved Babylon 5.

If Londo's and G'Kars intertwining stories were for me the core of Babylon 5, Vir was its heart. He defied the cliché that a character who is good, sweet-natured and kind is per definition less interesting than the darker characters around him. Vir going from seeming comic relief to Londo's protesting conscience to the Centauri's best hope for a better future was moving, funny, dramatic - all of it. And Stephen Furst was up to whatever JMS wrote for him, with fantastic comic timing (the waving at Mr. Morden, for example) and heartrendering expressions (for example, the scene where he tries to apologize to G'Kar and G'Kar replies, well, here's the scene itself:



If you're in a scene with Andreas Katsulas and still hold your own, in a situation where you're a part of the people who occupied the other man's home planet (again) and you still make the audience feel for you as well as G'Kar, then you're an artist. Stephen Furst was.

I would have loved to include the scene between Vir and Londo after Cartagia's death as well, because for me that's not just one of Vir's best scenes but one of the show's most memorable, but alas, it doesn't seem to be on YouTube. Suffice to say: that scene says so much about who Vir is, about the Londo and Vir relationship, and also about B5 as a show, because most other shows would not have bothered with the aftermath of killing a villain so completely evil as Cartagia was.

Babylon 5 would not have been as good a show without Vir Cotto, and Vir Cotto might have been a very different character if he'd been played by anyone but Stephen Furst. I'm so grateful the two, Vir and Stephen Furst, found each other.

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