well.

11 Aug 2014 04:36 pm
kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (Default)
You know it's been awhile since you've posted, when you totally forget to do a cut on a really long post.

Yep, definitely out of the habit.
kaigou: Roy Mustang, pondering mid-read. (1 pondering)
Was thinking I'd go with titles based on constellations*, which in turn have legends (in the story's world) that relate to a story's themes. So far I've got the following + the constellation's basic theme. Some of these have also already been referenced in drafts, though I was still solidifying what was where and the references/uses.

Short pondering behind the cut. )

I used to come up with names so much easier than I do now. I have no idea why it's gotten so hard.
kaigou: (1 yuon)
Back from the writing retreat, and did get a bunch written (but did a lot more talking than writing, which was fine and very informative and whatnot). Here's one snippet written as 'homework', because our crit-leader was mean teacherly like that.

Khuojeung eased himself into the cushioned seat while Yuon's guard tested the tea. With a slight bow, the man backed away: not poisoned.

"Khuo, you've no decent reason to haul your ass out of that sick bed." Yuon poured tea for both of them and set the pot aside. "I could order you back to bed, you know."

"And I would have to go, of course, but then you'd miss the pleasure of my company."

"I'd also miss the guilt of knowing you weren't resting."

Khuojeung smiled and tried the tea. Dark, with hints of nutmeg and cardamon, the latest fashion in Huulqulku spiced tea. "I'm here for a reason."

"I didn't think you were here to discuss the tides." Yuon picked up her own cup and sat back, pushing her thick braid over her shoulder. Her hair held a few more strands of silver than she'd had the last time the cousins had seen each other, almost a year before. "You'd better not be here to discuss my littlest--" She halted at Khuojeung's smile, and set her cup down on the table hard enough to splash tea. "Oh, don't even. I've wasted enough time on him already."

Really? From what I've seen, you've done your best to forget he exists. )
kaigou: I knew it! not in the sense of knowing it, but I knew there was something I didn't know. (3 knew it but didn't know it)
I thought I'd bookmarked the review, to buy the book later, but apparently not. I've been through my browsing history for the past two months and ugh, maybe I'm looking right past it. I am left with no choice but to throw myself on the intarweebs and hope one of you might recognize this.

I think either historical fiction, or historical fantasy -- at the very least, alt-history. For some reason, I'm thinking renaissance era, like Venice or Milan (because apparently Italy was the entirety of the renaissance, but whatevs). The only plot-point I remember was that in this alt-history (or maybe secondary world altogether?) families could promise their daughters to a higher-born daughter, in a kind of promise/wedding. Sort of like being given as a companion.

And I remember thinking, that's a pretty cool change on things, I want to read that. Except now I can't for the life of me remember the title, or anything else pertinent, to google for it. Does this ring a bell for anyone else?
kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (Default)
From PsGels' summer preview post:

OH GOD NO! The new season of Kuroshitsuji has a completely new staff behind it. Noriyuki Abe is actually a very skilled director: before directing Bleach he gave us Great Teacher Onizuka, and that was no fluke even with a very strong source material. Kuroshitsuji is exactly the kind of series that can get something great out of him again. The first two seasons were adapted by Mari Okada, and this actually fitted her very well as a series with the craziness that went on. For season three though… we have to deal with Uber-troll Hiroyuki Yoshino. If you don’t know him, be glad. This is the guy who wrote the original story for Seikon no Qwaser, Guilty Crown, Code Geass, Mai Otome. This guy writes grandiose stories which are often so grandiose and convoluted that they collapse in on themselves. His stories are hardly ever complete, even when well written. You’re almost guaranteed to get a completely botched up ending here, even though the endings are what I loved about the first two seasons of Kuroshitsuji. And to make things even worse, Ichiro Okouchi, the original creator of Code Geass and the writer of Valvrave is joining in for the scripts!


I'll probably watch it anyway, even if I spend 90% of that time cringing, because holy crap, who let the Guilty Crown guy in here? ...and I thought the second season was trollish.
kaigou: Skeptical Mike is skeptical. (1 skeptical mike)
omg, wtf is up with all the hoods on fantasy covers? I'd seen reviewers complaining but I figured, oh, it can't be that bad. omfg, it's worse. who started this trend? someone find that person and punch them. please.

Quick reviews for: The Thousand Names, The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, The Siren Depths, The Tainted City, The Wall of Night, The Briar King, The Magpie Lord, A Case of Possession, Too Many Fairy Princes, Traitor's Blade, The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension )

Now reading:
The Red Wolf Conspiracy - Robert Redick
The Innocent Mage - Karen Miller
Throne of the Crescent Moon - Saladin Ahmed

Up next:
The Killing Moon - NK Jemisin
Sword of Fire and Sea - Erin Hoffman
The War with the Mein - David Anthony Durham
kaigou: so when do we destroy the world already? (3 destroy the world)
Two stories now that I really would've liked to like, but the more I read of each, the harder a time I had with them. Here's the relevant parts from each teaser. From The Lascar's Dagger:
Saker appears to be a simple priest, but in truth he's a spy for the head of his faith. Wounded in the line of duty by a Lascar sailor's blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility it brings, Saker can only follow its lead.

And from The Alchemist of Souls:
When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

The problem is that in both cases, these seemingly magical beings are real people.

I've run across lascars a few times in my own research, but they're not a well-known culture in the west. Wikipedia has a halfway decent entry on them, which summarizes things well enough:
A lascar (Lashkar, Laskar) ... was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian Subcontinent or other countries east of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century. The word comes from the Persian Lashkar, meaning military camp or army, and al-askar, the Arabic word for a guard or soldier. The Portuguese adapted this term to lascarim, meaning an Asian militiaman or seaman, especially those from the Indian Subcontinent. Lascars served on British ships under 'lascar' agreements. ... The name lascar was also used to refer to Indian servants, typically engaged by British military officers.

Despite much digging on my part, there isn't a lot of Western/English study on the lascars. )
kaigou: Kido being goofy. (2 candy mountain)
The Coffee Trader, Whitefire Crossing, Arcanum. I really think the The Lascar's Dagger deserves its own post, for reasons that will become clear.

First: I really, really want to like David Liss' work. It's historical fiction, covering a place and time and culture that really doesn't get enough press: the Jewish finance community in Amsterdam, in the late sixteen-hundreds or thereabouts. This one in particular is about a Portuguese-Jew who moved to Amsterdam with the exodus, and was doing alright until a few bad decisions have landed him in hard times and hot water with just about everyone. A non-Jewish widow of his acquaintance has an idea to corner the market on this new commodity called coffee, but wrapped up in that is the character's sister-in-law, a meddling and somewhat abusive maid, another Jewish trader of major social standing who has it in for the protagonist, the aforementioned widow, a guy ruined by his investments in the protagonist's financial disaster, and a whole bunch more, all of whom have their own agendas and methods and motivations.

It's just... they're all such jerks, even our hero, who seems to want to put himself forward as a helpless ninny who's been cast about by fortune's disfavor, but sheesh. If I wanted suffocating world-building, the tiny and (apparently) leaning-towards-orthodox, highly regimented and self-supervised community of Jews in Amsterdam are clearly it. Given the narrative makes clear the Dutch are pretty live-and-let-live, it's almost insane that the Jews create a community for themselves that's almost as repressive as any Soviet regime. I mean, it's crazy-making. I fail to see how any of the characters haven't just broken and run mad down the street.

Various comments and complaints and whatnot behind the cut. )

Alright, onto the one that I really, really did want to like, as much as I want to like The Coffee Trader -- similar time-period to Liss' work, alt-history, taking the bones of the original and grinding a lot of it up with a heaping of original ideas, much like The Thief series. Except some important stuff got left out while something bordering on appropriation got left in, among other things.
kaigou: (2 using mainly spoons)
Went through a storm of book-reading: The Goblin Emporer, The Coffee Trader, The Thief/The Queen of Attolia/The King of Attolia/A Conspiracy of Kings, Whitefire Crossing, The Spirit Thief, Arcanum, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Lascar's Dagger.

To get a few out of the way: yes, I adored The Goblin Emperor. Maia is non-angsty (but damaged all the same), lonely, compassionate, and above all else, genuinely good. There were more than a few scenes that in a quiet, understated way, simply broke my heart. It's not a YA-style everything-amped-to-eleven. It's a quiet story; when complete, you realize there wasn't truly a bad guy in the classic fantasy sense, and the one main conflict hinged on building a bridge over a river, but somehow it all works despite that, or maybe because of that.

The one major complaint? I would've much preferred if the naming scheme had been introduced before the story, rather than after it; it was damn hard to keep track of who-was-who, and I say that as someone pretty well-versed in reading extensive historical treatises where names change and/or are fluid and most definitely are not in English. I just couldn't parse the pattern from the text, and a short intro note would've been helpful.

Many things I liked (Maia chiefly, of course), but especially how his world -- no matter how suffocating, as it consists entirely of the court -- is still immensely populated. The author is really skillful at giving you enough people in a scene to make it feel crowded, without the sense that you'll be quizzed later on these teeny details; what's important to remember gets emphasized in just enough way that it stands out even more. In terms of craft, that's a rare and valuable skill.

Behind the cut: Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Spirit Thief, The Thief/Queen of Attolia/King of Attolia/Conspiracy of Kings. )

Any way you look at it, minor quibbles are minor. I'd still recommend The Goblin Emperor and the four Thief books, unequivocally. The others, YMMV, and who knows, I may change my take if the stories pick up.

More in next part.
kaigou: so when do we destroy the world already? (3 destroy the world)
Reading several of the books I got in Philly (among them, currently, Berry's Hideyoshi and Borschberg/Roy's The Memoirs and Memorials of Jacques de Coutre), but also just yesterday got a hankering for fiction and picked up three more, although The Goblin Emporer has been set aside as an award for later.

Short comments about 'The Coffee Trader' and 'The Boy with the Porcelain Blade'. )

Eh, well. I'll keep slogging.
kaigou: this is the captain. we may experience turbulence and then explode. (3 experience turbulence)
Okay, this is for [personal profile] brainwane. The idea is to take some facets of the AAS conference and apply them to tech, as a way to incorporate people who might not normally present on their own.

The first thing to note is that each panel is run by a moderator, and other notes about how the panels were set up at AAS. )

If I think of anything else, I'll add it. Let me know where/when/how to send you the full post, B, although I reserve the right to cut a lot of this wordiness the hell out! I also expect [personal profile] starlady and [personal profile] branchandroot will probably be able to weigh in, too, being academics.
kaigou: have some tea with your round cake (3 tea and cake)
Over on Dribble of Ink, there's an essay that had me pondering the way we write fantasy, in the modern world. “Broader Fantasy Foundations Pt IV: The Tale of Genji, and Building the World of the Shining Prince”, in which Gladstone comments:
[Demonic possession and ghosts in Tale of Genji] are unexplained, but they’re not treated as explicitly supernatural within the narrative, since we’re talking about a time before Enlightenment nature-supernature distinctions arose. Ghosts and demons and gods are edge cases of Genji’s reality, but they’re not any less real than the people he encounters on a day to day basis.

[The] fantastical does not seem fantastical to locals. Genji’s reaction to a ghost, or to a demonic possession, is not the Lovecraftian narrator’s “THAT IS UNPOSSIBLE” followed by a prolonged paragraph on circles of firelight, mad dancing beyond the edges of reality, etc., so much as “HOLY SHIT, GHOST!” He—and the other people in his world—are afraid of ghosts because they are dangerous and terrifying, not because they represent a hole in a world system that does not incorporate them.
I didn't even need to add that emphasis; Gladstone did it already for me.

In a sidebar, Gladstone also notes:
Notably, the reaction to a hole in one’s world system varies widely even within the modern age. Folks who just live in the modern world system tend to have the Lovecraft reaction to the holes they discover; scientists, though—and philosophers—respond, or should respond, by examining the edges of the hole and trying to peer through. I can think of two great examples of this in modern fantasy: in Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky novels, the wizards of Tsarepeth are presented as scientists and scholars with a near-modern understanding of the spread of disease. When they discover a demon plague that spreads through miasma, they’re initially flummoxed—since they’ve long known miasma theory to be false. Facts force them to revise their theory, in proper fashion. The Myth of the Man-Mother in Pat Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear is another example, played for humor—hyper-rational Kvothe fails to convince a friend of his that men have any role in the conception of children, since his arguments all devolve to an appeal to authority. The best part about this: it’s entirely possible that pregnancy just works differently in the Four Corners universe—or works differently among different peoples there.
A day or so later, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) wrote The Emperor and the Scullery Boy: Quests and Coming-of-Age Stories, in which she remarked that
...there are female protagonists in fantasy who quest. Mary Brown’s The Unlikely Ones, to pick a random example, is as straightforward a plot coupon fantasy quest as you can ask for (and it still ends in marriage). But they’re swimming valiantly against an undertow, which is the great preponderance of young men who come of age in fantasy by questing. I’m thinking particularly of the trope of the Scullery Boy Who Would Be King, and I can reel off examples by the cartload, from Lloyd Alexander’s Taran to Robert Jordan’s Rand Al’Thor. (Scullery Girls Who Would Be Queen are so rare as to be nearly nonexistent.) Fairy tales, too, are full of these young men, scullery boys or woodcutters’ youngest sons or vagrants, and there’s even a version of the motif in The Lord of the Rings: although Aragorn is not a child, his path through the trilogy is very distinctly from undervalued outsider to King of Gondor. All of them are the protagonists of bildungsromans, of quests, and the pattern they trace inexorably has shaped and continues to shape the way we think about fantasy as a genre and what we think it can do.

I don’t want to argue against bildungsromans in fantasy—far from it. I don’t want to argue against quests, or even against scullery boys. But I want to argue for awareness of the patterns that we have inherited—the grooves in the record of the genre, if you don’t mind a pun—and for awareness that patterns are all that they are. There’s no reason that scullery boys have to turn out to be kings. There’s no reason that women’s bildungsromans have to end in marriage. There’s no reason that fantasy novels have to be quests. It’s just the pattern, and it’s always easier to follow the pattern than to disrupt it.
Both essays are (obviously) worth reading, but that single line -- "Scullery Girls Who Would Be Queen are so rare as to be nearly nonexistent" -- started me thinking. There must be at least one out there, somewhere. Isn't there?

Hello? Hello? Don't tell me those are crickets I'm hearing.
kaigou: Kido being goofy. (2 candy mountain)
Sidenote: I think I got a stress fracture in my foot last monday. Foot's definitely reacting like it. I've been getting these off/on (in either foot) since 4th grade, so I'm pretty blase about it. It was a little more complicated by the fact that on Tues/Wed, my team at work had a major offsite team-building/innovation thing that I absolutely could not miss -- followed by four days in Philly for the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) conference that I absolutely refused to miss. I tried to minimize the walking on Tues/Wed, with minimal success, but there was no minimizing any walking between airports, hotel, going from panel to panel, and then going out to find things to eat. Only got to go to Chinatown once. If I hadn't been limping so much by that point, probably would've spent a lot more time in Philly's more-than-a-block Chinatown.

On the plus side, coming back, I somehow lucked out and got on TSA's pre-boarding. No more shoe removal! Which was both good and bad. Bad, because I really really wanted to take the boots off (I wore hiking boots in the possibly-false hope that some compression would help) and good -- because if I had taken the boots off, there was a good chance I'd simply not put them back on. My hiking boots have the least flex in the sole, which in this case is a good thing.

But enough about me. Some random observations about AAS. )

aaaaaugh

29 Mar 2014 08:26 am
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
Isn't there a responsive layout on dw? This non-responsive crap is almost impossible to read on my phone.
kaigou: please hold. all muses are busy, but your inspiration is important to us. (3 all muses are busy)
"No one else came to serve us, and I didn't even see any sign of someone listening from the corridor," Nakayari said. "Why did you test the staff, then?"

"Oh, the staff certainly understood enough," Tsiu said. "Little grandmother taught me that people will always find something to talk about. Since I didn't want people talking about who we'd met for tea, or wondering why, then I needed to give them something of greater interest."

"That you might buy a tea house?"

"That'd I'd buy it for you," Tsiu corrected. "It's the kind of thing my mother would've done." And did, a few times, which was why Tsiu hadn't led Nakayari -- and the trailing Ozolekh and his wife -- to the more popular tea hall at the other end of the financial street. "Also, that you were less than enthused about the idea."

"I'd hardly know what to do with such a place," Nakayari muttered. "I don't even know how to make the tea you have here. It comes in little bricks. What do I do with that?"

"Steep it." Tsiu considered several other things to say, and settled for honesty. "You're from Nasoyunukona. You may be more subtle than most, with your short-sword under your robe instead of over it, but the reputation of your fellow countrymen precedes you. The last thing anyone would expect you to want, or care about, would be some tea hall. It's not a Nasoyunukona kind of business."

Nakayari looked mystified. "Then what is?"

"War." Tsiu looked down the street to the financial hall, where Sozu and Sindhu waited, trailed by Kini and the under-consorts. "Business is complete, I see. Let's see if anyone wants to eat now, before we head back to the palace."
kaigou: Skeptical Mike is skeptical. (1 skeptical mike)
Followup post for [personal profile] whatistigerbalm, but anyone else interested, here's the entire sad list. Maybe a quarter of these are available on the web; the rest are from Jstor. Check your local city library. You might have a free Jstor account. If not, and you're as whacked as I am about research, I have the pdfs. I can email zipped version. Just don't ask for all of them because that's just lazy, and besides, there's 895 of them. (and these don't include images and other non-pdf formats).

THE LIST, OMFG, IT'S A LIST. )
kaigou: Happy typing on mac. (1 Hyperbole and a half)
Times like this, I'm reminded of one of the earliest non-fiction books my parents gave me. The Weaker Vessel was authored by Antonia Fraser, better known (at the time, at least, from what I gathered) as a romance writer. One with intense research skills, though, who in the course of doing some historical digging on a new novel, ended up with enough data to write a serious doorstop tome about women's roles before, during, and after the English Civil War.

Sometimes I feel like I'm on a similar track, myself. Except my instinct is: I should take all this info and put it into a searchable database.

Saving notes here, collected from various academic articles/essays. This will probably interest exactly zero people, other than me. )
kaigou: (1 olivia is not impressed)
For those unfamiliar, the culture I've been writing about is one with five genders. The first four are male or female gender-types; the fifth gender is neither all-male nor all-female. The neutral pronoun is used for agender, all-gender, and children until puberty. The awkwardness rests in the fact that I'm contrasting one language -- that lacks a neutral -- with another language that has a neutral... and all of it's written in English, which (duh) lacks an official/widespread neutral. Ugh. Not sure how it reads.



"Afakh wants to end the consort-alliance," Tsiu said, in quiet Nasoyunukona-yen, layered with a Ujira accent. "Afakh's talked this over plenty with Afakh's Second Brother. That's Ozolekh," Tsiu added. Nakayari wondered if Tsiu intended to make it harder for Ozolekh to understand; the man's head was up, eyes sharp, the look of a man who understood at least some of what was being said. "Afakh is third-soul, and wants to enter the temple." Before Nakayari or Kini could reply, Tsiu straightened up and switched to Heichunha. "Thoughts?"

Sindhu brought her hands to her waist, then dropped them to her lap again. "We can't, Tsiu-jhayu," she murmured. "The consort agreement has been sealed---" The rest of what she said got lost, too many unfamiliar words. Tsiu flicked the end of his fan, glancing Nakayari's way. Sindhu nodded, turned to Nakayari, and held out her hand. With a too-ticklish fingertip, she sketched the words she'd just spoken on Nakayari's palm.

"It's a breach of contract," Nakayari told Kini.

"You'll need to translate better than that," Kini retorted, under her breath.

Read more... )
kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (3 patience is not my virture)
Hello, fandom, my old friend. Been so long I've almost forgotten how crazy you are. Almost. It's okay, don't call me, I won't call you.

ANYWAY. So. Noragami. One of the first anime in like forever to really capture me, which tl;dr means: why the hell have I not seen in-depth, sparkling, thought-provoking commentary from either of the Emilys? -- [personal profile] branchandroot and [personal profile] annotated_em, that is. Or even [personal profile] starlady who is not an Emily, but does begin with a vowel, so that's close enough. ONE OF YOU. Satisfy my need for analysis! Or I shall be pushed to poke [personal profile] ivoryandhorn or [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist to carry the weight. Which I might do anyway, because analysis.

SOMEONE. AVAIL ME. My former fandom status as a near-BNF compels you!

Also, I just got home after enjoying two glasses of some really nice reisling, the name of which I totally meant to get and did not. In case you couldn't tell from the random name-dropping. Where is my next episode of Noragami? Or my next scanlated chapter? I'm retired from scanlating, so I'm able to say again that scanlators are toooooo slow. Damn it.

Should reisling be capitalized? Inquiring minds want to know. Leik yesterday.

I actually had to explain tl;dr to my sister this evening (while texting). Either I'm hipper than I realize, or my sister is seriously out of touch. I'm guessing the latter. Very eye-rolling, so sigh.

Also also, I realized while talking to my other sister that I AM the disruption at work. Go me! Doing prototypes and shit that will cause nothing but trouble for other departments, and this is WHY I was hired. This is awesome. I'm causing trouble and I'm getting PRAISE for it.

I'm considering changing my tag from "analysis is my chocolate cake" to "analysis is my greek beignet" because holy fuck you people, this shit is awesome. I am addicted to greek beignets. I shouldn't be, but I am.

I just realized that 'reisling' is another exception to the i-before-e rule. Which reminds me of the time I got sent to the principal's office because I demanded to know why 'science' broke the rule of 'i before e except after e'. Yes, newsflash, I have always been a troublemaker.

There was some other also to add, but I forget now. Where's my extensive analysis on Noragami already?

whois

kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

August 2014

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