Finished Kameron Hurley's The Stars Are Legion
. I liked it.
Initially I thought the ending was kind of a let-down and came out of nowhere, but then I dove into the tag on Tumblr and found a post that succeeded in convincing me I'd misunderstood that part of the plot. (Here's that post. Spoilers, of course.
) Having changed my mind on that, I'm much more satisfied with the book Kameron Hurley actually wrote, but still a smidge wistful for the book I thought I was reading. Which isn't her fault, of course.
My second reservation was about how gender was handled. Which... hmm. If I don't bring up Ancillary Justice
here it's going to be an elephant in the living room, isn't it? This is NOT a post about how "Leckie did it better." Leckie and Hurley are doing two different things, and (if I remember the interview I read correctly) Ancillary Justice
hadn't been published yet when Hurley started planning TSAL.
Leckie wrote a trilogy about a society which doesn't divide itself along gender lines or see gender as a binary, and then translated that culture's third person singular pronoun set for humans into English as "she/her". Hurley wrote a novel about a ship whose human crew is made up only of people who menstruate and become pregnant and give birth, all of whom identify as female and use the "she" pronoun set, and who have a concept of "woman" but no concept of "man" or of any other gender other than female/woman/girl.
Those are totally different goals, and they only overlap in that they use "she/her", do not
centre male-identified characters, and make misogynists angry. One of them decentres gender while calling attention to how strongly English-speaking societies mark gender; the other one centres (a very specific definition of) women.
I would recommend it if
you can bear with the gender essentialism and won't be bothered by a lot
of (most but not all menstruation/pregnancy/birth-related) biological squick. (Also, if pregnancy loss is a sore topic for you, you might have a bad time reading this.)
Reading Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider
. I don't have anything useful to say about this book, so I'm gonna shut up and listen and type up quotations in my commonplace file.
Reading Aliette de Bodard's The House of Binding Thorns
. I'm about a hundred pages in. So far so good. It's weird: in the first book I cared a lot more about Philippe than any of the others, but so far in this book I am enjoying Madeleine's parts a lot and am waiting impatiently to see Selene and Emmanuelle again, and don't care as much about Philippe.
Read Heather Rose Jones' Daughter of Mystery
, an f/f Ruritanian romance about an heiress and her swordswoman bodyguard. brownbetty
described it as "Swordspoint
but with lesbians," which is fair but I like Margerit and Barbara a lot better than Alec and Richard. Interestingly, I liked them a lot more through each other's eyes than from their own POV, if that makes sense. Barbara's combination of rage and tight control was particularly appealing from Margerit's POV. I enjoyed the setting too, the miracle-based magic stuff that's faintly reminiscent of Bujold's Chalion (a lot more Catholic, though.) And the cultural/psychological worldbuilding. The characters never felt too modern, which I appreciated.
Note that that's Ruritanian romance with the emphasis on Ruritanian, i.e. not "romance" in the "romance genre" sense. Not that isn't a romance arc, just that the beats and conventions are very different, and a lot more development of the parts of the plot which are not about their relationship. Also it's extremely decorous with the sexual content -- there are "caresses" but it's never specified who's caressing what. There's a lot more explicit detail of the legal inheritance drama and the theological problem, in fact. Personally I really liked the legal and theological details. I also liked the focus toward the end on the practical details of their relationship -- there was more troubleshooting of the "how are we going to live together and not fuck this up by stepping right on each other's issues" kind after they got together than in your standard romance (adventure story or
Yoon Ha Lee's Raven Stratagem
arrived in the mail today and I'm trying to decide if I want to reread Ninefox first or dive right in this minute.Fandom
's World Ain't Ready
from start to finish over the past three days. Which maybe wasn't the use of my reading time I'd planned, but I can't regret it.Music
Listened to the Mountain Goats' Goths
, and Sifu Hotman's Embrace the Sun
, both highly recommended.Goths
musically has a lot in common with Beat the Champ
, lots of similar instrumental flourishes and harmonic progressions, except that Darnielle does things with his vocals he hasn't done since Life of the World to Come
, up there in the higher and louder parts of his range. Lyrically, he's still walking this balance between mature reflection and wholehearted identification with the angry, traumatised kid he was, and I really love that territory. He doesn't break faith with who he used to be, even while acknowledging that he's not that person any more, and that continued connection gives him the ability to sing songs like 'The Grey King and the Silver Flame Attunement' with real respect, honesty, and empathy in addition to his perspective as a grown-up looking back. It's the difference between growing up and renouncing who you once were. He did the first but not the second, and I really admire that. ("That's who I was. This is who I am.")
Also, even though in my teens I was an opera/computers/SF nerd, not a goth nerd, 'We Do It Different On The West Coast' totally captured my experience of being a fan from afar because of geography and lack of opportunity, and having all these passionate opinions about things I'd never yet gotten to experience firsthand -- feeling really invested in, already a part of, these people and communities I'd never actually met face to face. Identifying as part of a "we" who "do" things I'd never done with people who'd never met me. And again: he's not making fun of that excited kid, or disputing their membership in their chosen scene. He has perspective that kid lacks, but he's empathising, not mocking. He's been there too.
I saw a song from Embrace the Sun
on my Tumblr dash, 'Matches', and liked it enough that I bought the album on Bandcamp. And it was really really good
, you guys. Smart and angry and hopeful. If you like Doomtree you might like this too.
Also listened to two playlists by fairestcat
, 'I'm Gonna Spend The Next Four Years On The Barricades' and 'Capitalism Will Eat Your Children'. Both were good, but the second one was particularly good and more suited to my mood at the moment. ('Matches' from Embrace the Sun
fits in very well with the mood in 'Next Four Years', Cat: "No friction, no flame / No struggle, no progress / No sweat / How many times do we have to win / 'Til you realize that we have not lost yet?")Cats
(written a few days ago) My next attempt at kitty feeding enrichment: a large Pringles tube with a hole cut in the side, large enough for a cat's paw but not their face. So they can stick a paw in and bat the noms out, or roll the tube around the floor until the noms fall out. Neither cat is impressed with this. Dorian is willing to engage with it a little. Beatrice isn't, at all.
After I typed that, while I went back to write about the books I'm reading, she started giving it a try and has gotten the hang of it. Go Beatrice!
Now she's back to power-grooming Dorian. She does this thing where she puts her mouth over one of his eyes and sort of nibbles. He tilts his head up and sits still, but eventually gets fed up and tries to put her in a headlock.