Information about the Forest Fanworks Challenge is here.
I've signed up for Remix Revival, so my Marlows fic is available to be remixed as part of that exchange. If you'd like to participate, there's information here.
I'm also going to nominate some of the rarer characters and relationships in the fandom for Fandom Growth, an exchange for ultra-rare fandoms, characters and relationships. If you're interested, there's more information here.
Mix the juice of three Seville oranges, three eggs well beaten, a pint of cream, a little nutmeg and cinnamon, and sweeten to your taste. Set the whole over a slow fire, and stir it till it becomes as thick as good melted butter, but it must not be boiled: then pour it into a dish for eating cold.
From the 1842 edition of A New System of Domestic Cookery: Formed Upon Principles of Economy; and Adapted to the Use of Private Families. Mrs Rundell (Maria Eliza Rundell, 1745 – 1828).
Please Stop Comparing Cripping Up to Blackface
Analyzing the Gender Representation of 34,476 Comic Book Characters - interesting analysis on a few characteristics.
Spoiler warning for the new Doctor Who actorDoctor Who: We regret to inform you ...
The phrase "hair side, flesh side" refers in the book--in the story "A Texture Like Velvet"--to the feel of old manuscripts written on cured skin, usually vellum, and it makes a good evocation of Marshall's work as a whole because that's the book in a nutshell: an uncanny and very physical approach to scholarship. Hair Side, Flesh Side is full of history, academics, and the ghosts of dead authors. Sometimes this is done with a veneer of wistfulness, as when the protagonist of "Dead White Men" grapples with the knowledge that his lover is just using his body as a vehicle for the spirits of the dead authors she reveres, and sometimes it's done with great thematic weight, as in "The Book of Judgement," where Lucifer tampers with Jane Austen's fate, and sometimes it's just the ghost of Chaucer commiserating with you about what a douche you've gone home with. The tonal and thematic variations there keep the collection interesting even after you've gotten a clear sense of Marshall's favorite devices.
The best stories are the ones that blend ghostliness and art with the body itself. In "Blessed," a young girl receives the body of a saint for her seventh birthday, an extravagance in a world where most children are only lucky enough to get a finger bone or, worse, a forgery. But it's her father and stepmother who give her Saint Lucia and it's to her mother's house, and her mother's furious resentment, that she returns afterwards. Marshall takes the headiness of, say, a ghost of Joan of Arc who spontaneously burns herself when she's angry and combines it with the simmering tension of a bad divorce and the way parents can use their children as battlegrounds. "Sanditon," possibly my favorite here, centers on a down-at-the-heels editor who finds the completed manuscript of Jane Austen's Sanditon growing out of her body:
The outside bits were easy enough, where the skin had peeled back from the fissure, but she didn't want to cause any more damage. She fingered the papery tissue carefully, with her right hand, used her left hand to zoom and snap. The first twenty pictures were awful, but after several hours she found that she was starting to get the hang of it.
That makes me shudder, but the specificity of it is excellent, as is the way the manuscript in Hanna's body draws her into an increasingly close and increasingly more unnerving affair with a married author desperate to use Sanditon to increase his fame.
Marshall is best when she stays closest to the body and uses that to make the intangible tangible. The stories that go into full surrealism, like "This Feeling of Flying," or traditional magical realism, like "In the High Places of the World," are less successful. But no other writer would have written "Sanditon," and I'm not convinced any writer would even have thought of it, and now I'll always remember it.
While there are any number of things I *could* be doing, what I'm choosing to do is work my way through tabs that I have open. So:
Your car has just been crushed by hagfish: Frequently Asked Questions
...and apparently everything else I have open in this window is fic. So, off to read fic for the next half hour instead :}
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a fast-paced, fascinating, but disturbing thriller centered on human trafficking and its fallout. The title character is a survivor turned sex crimes detective -- with a vigilante streak a mile wide. Eisler never lets the reader forget that Livia is both highly competent and seriously damaged, and offers plenty of evidence for both traits.
I found the plot itself a little predictable, though it still kept me reading. And, occasionally, not wanting to. I hadn't expected this one to be an easy or completely pleasant read, and it definitely wasn't. Livia's skills are a wonder (possibly slightly unbelievable, but we are talking thrillers here), and her cause is just, but there are a few scenes I won't be able to un-see for a while.
The Kindle edition includes helpful chapter-by-chapter notes with links to online articles and video. Most of these relate to Livia's martial arts training and weapons, though there are a couple of articles on actual crimes which inspired the fiction. There is also a bibliography (with links) for those wishing to educate themselves further about human trafficking, police investigation techniques, and other topics.
Possibly recommended for thriller fans looking for an informative, intense read.
View all my reviews
The story is self reflection by sinspiration, and it is currently at 12 chapters/25K words.
slightly spoilery description
This is an AU where Bitty isn't on the hockey team, because he hadn't had to give up figure skating. At least, not until he started transitioning -- he's a women's champion at the point the story starts (although the details about the figure skating takes a little while to show up, details that indicate his transition turn up in the first scene, almost the first paragraph). He's already friends with most of the hockey team at the point the story opens, but not with Jack. This is the meet-cute of the story, one seat left in the coffee shop, Bitty practicing for his French class, Jack horrified at his pronunciation and offering to help. Eventually they work out who their friends in common are, and the story mooches on from there.
Story says 'no archive warnings apply', but there are canon-compliant references to past abuse, and either past or current transphobia. Bitty's parents aren't great, but his figure skating coach is a delight (and absolutely the kind of old bat that one finds in well established coaches in many many places/sports).
- Penric and the Shaman (Lois McMaster Bujold) -- it probably helps that I already know the world in which this is set, and I loved it both in the previous stories, and this one. The complexity of the plot, the development of the story, the world building, the solution to the issue -- I loved everything about it. And I love the way that 'author's requirements for coincidence' is hand-waved as 'interference by the gods'.
- The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe (Kij Johnson) -- I went in to this one unsure. The title felt off (although it was obvious later where it had come from) and the early sections felt like the aspects of Dorothy Sayers 'Gaudy Night' that I had disliked. The idea of reading a story about how hard women have to fight not to end up further behind felt like more than I had the energy for. And then I realised where it was going. This is a transformative work, and is a fabulous reimaging of the source work (very spoilery). The understated horrors slowly collect together to be quite the horror story, without ever being gruesome.
- Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire) -- Beautiful creepy mix of horror and fantasy. I loved the way that the idea of going through a door into a different world was codified, that those doors lead different places. The story itself was an interesting exploration of the way that people cope with coming back from those worlds where they fit, and how it can go so wrong. There are aspects of the plot that I was spoiled for, and I'm not sure whether I think that made it easier to deal with -- had I not gone in expecting it to be horror, I might have struggled more.
- A Taste of Homey (Kai Ashante Wilson) -- I read this one a while ago, and failed to make notes on it that I can find. Enjoyable, but not particularly memorable, what I liked most was the male/male romance plot line, and the interesting playing with time that was done.
- The Ballad of Black Tom (Victor LaVelle) -- I wanted to like this one more than I did. Gritty and gruesome and gory. And plain nasty, in the way that so much Cthulu mythos is. I get that the racism was so necessary to the story, and that it was probably understated in many ways, but it was heart breaking to read. Towards the middle, I struggled a bit to keep going — I was a bit on the bored side, but in the end it was worth it.
- The census taker (China Mievelle) -- As a general rule, I don't like Mievelle's work, so it was no real surprise that I didn't like this one either. I had no idea what is going on here and in the end, I don’t really care. There is too much elided by literary wankery, and not real story or idea of what is going on. I’m not interesting in deducing whether the unnamed woman was murdered or ran away.
Trying to work out what I've done in the meantime. I did some sewing on the 365 day quilt project (I'm now up to sewing the block for the 9th of February, and I have that through to the 13th cut out already). I'm not counting that in this, because it is a whole day project, not something I've picked up with the belief that I'll finish it in a day. However, I've been working on reconciling the team accounts for June, and it isn't going well (every time I find something I've missed, I make things worse. And I found something that may or may not mess up for June, but I *think* it is just how much someone owes, so that is okay). So that has been added to the list. And I've started cataloguing some of the set of books that have arrived, so that is another thing on the list. I'm feeling reasonably pleased that said list is still at six active items though, so I'm at least making progress on the things that I've started. At the point, I have two craft, two reading, and two paper work tasks.
Oh, and tables. Grouchiegrrl and family have moved house, and their new place doesn't have enough space for their lovely table. This is a much nicer table than the one that we have had for a while (also inherited from someone moving house). So, our table has gone with chaosmanor, to replace a rickety table that they have (along with one of the three tablecloths that were made specially to go with that table - one is in the wash, and the other is missing), grouchiegrrl's table has come to live with us (in theory long term loan, but we'll see how that pans out), and I'm pretty happy all up. The new one shrinks down to about the space that the old one did with the extra leaf in, so it isn't taking any extra space, but it also expands to a 1300mm square, allowing for three people on a side, when there are people visiting.
...ariaflame, their friend M, youngest, middlest, and their friend T are watching 'Mystery Men'. I lasted about 20 minutes before the sitting still and focusing was too much, but I'm at least listening to it (it is reminding me of things that I didn't enjoy - Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog, for one). Friend S was using the new table as a sewing cutting table, but has wandered off to do something else. And I'm about to