( Imperial Radch, Sunshine (McKinley), Sunless Sea, Cthulu mythos, Discworld, Twin Peaks, Gladiator (music video), Fucked My Way Up to the Top (song), Guys and Dolls )
( Imperial Radch, Sunshine (McKinley), Sunless Sea, Cthulu mythos, Discworld, Twin Peaks, Gladiator (music video), Fucked My Way Up to the Top (song), Guys and Dolls )
The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells. In a land of many and varied humanoid species, a winged loner stumbles across the first one of his kind that he's met since he was a child and gets embroiled in winged politics. Someone told me this author wrote fic before she went pro and I was like "YUP, MAKES SENSE," because she knows to punch the id buttons like a fic writer. But also politics! Fighting! Romance (that made me cry on an airplane)! This is the first of a series, and I look forward to reading more.
The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon. A story about several women a century apart and their experiences in a possibly-haunted old farmhouse in Vermont. I loved so much about this - the varied female cast, the setting, the careful peeling back of layers as we discover what happened. I wanted something spooky with a legit supernatural element, and this totally delivers.
HOWEVER. ( spoilers )
Dreamships, by Melissa Scott. 90s SF about AI and spaceships and stuff. I got recced this one for canon gay, but honestly I got 50 pages in and gave up because I found it such a slog. Too much tell instead of show in the narrative, and so much very dull worldbuilding exposition. It was like it was trying to be cyberpunk but didn't have the chops.
I have read 20 of the authors represented and 17 of the specific books suggested, which mostly tells me the people who wrote the list did a decent job of choosing which of an author's books people were most likely to have read, as opposed to all those lists that have something other than Pern as McCaffrey's representative book.
( the list )
A few of those people/books are on my immediate to read list - I have The Cloud Roads on hold at the library as we speak - and some I've never heard of. A few authors I didn't bold because I'd only read short stories, not novels.
Overall, this list MUCH better represents my reading interests than your average "X Import Books" list, as I usually never get as high as 30% on them. Of those I've read, Tam Lin and Sunshine are all-time favorites, and The Raven Boys, The Dispossessed, and A Wrinkle in Time are all very good. (I think. I actually don't know if A Wrinkle in Time is good. L'Engle is so unique that I have trouble comparing her in any useful fashion with anyone else.)
I would really like to find at least one or two things to nominate for the novelette and novella categories. I welcome suggestions. I know there are two novellas on Tor.com that I need to check out, and I would also be willing to spend small amounts of $ to read stuff for that category.
Pocosin by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine)
Beautifully told, Pratchett-esque witches. I cried.
Cloth Mother by Sarah Pauling (Strange Horizons)
Parental AIs, pet holograms. Bit sentimental? Yet I loved it. [The longer I think about this one, the smarter it gets.]
Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld)
Funny, deft, pokes at AI tropes. [One of those that will probably age quickly. Whatever, it was fun.]
Three Cups of Grief by Aliette de Bodard
People birthing ships. Neat worldbuilding.
Cuckoo Song, by Frances Hardinge. MY FAVORITE PRO THING I HAVE READ FOR 2015. Gaiman-esque dark-ish YA fantasy with rich female characters and emotional complicatedness. If you read only one thing in this post, read this.
Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear. Steampunk lesbians in kind-of Seattle.
The Just City, by Jo Walton. Athena and friends attempt to make Plato's Republic thought experiment a reality, which works about as well as you would expect. A book full of very cerebral characters.
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie. Space opera about identity and embodiment and personhood and fish sauce.
Bitch Planet: Vol. I, by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine de Landro, others. Sharp and rich and vicious in its criticism of patriarchy, in the best ways. I feel like Deconnick's voice and approach doesn't always suit the stories she writes, but this book is a pitch-perfect fit for her.
Copperhead: Vol. I, by Jay Faerber, Scott Godlewski. Space western with single mom sheriff, colonization/racial tensions. Still haven't decided if these creators are just very lucky at not putting their foot it in yet or if they know exactly what they're doing. Either way, first volume was A+.
Dramatic Presentation: Long
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. I'd nominate this in all five slots if they let me.
Agent Carter: Season One.
Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men.
( Beauty and the Beast, The Dispossessed, Sunless Sea/Fallen London, Strange Empire, Sunshine (McKinley), Imperial Radch )
( Dune, Jane the Virgin, Saga (Comics), Vorkosigan Saga )
I've heard rumblings of people not liking the sequels as much as the first, and I will say Sword so far has 100% less trekking through the snow, which is one of my weak spots. However, so far if anything I'm enjoying it even more than the first one, because Leckie just keeps digging deeper into the ramifications of her worldbuilding.
( spoilers through beginning of Ancillary Sword )
Just a note, please no spoilers for either Sword or Mercy, even "you'll see more of that." I want to be surprised. :)
* I enjoyed the first two thirds for the human drama aspect.
* The last third was not worth reading - if you want to know how it goes, get someone to spoil it for you.
* Neal Stephenson would stop mid-coitus to tell you how condoms work. At length. At least three times.
( spoilery thoughts )
Carrefour by Merlin Missy - Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Anaesthesia + Ingress gen, 10k. Possibly my favorite fic I have ever read for this book. Because all of us needed the fic where Anaesthesia survives, rescues/is rescued by Door's missing sister, and saves the day, did we not?
Of Five Adventures That Occurred During The Reign Of The Raven Barista. by Lanna Michaels - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Gen. 1.2k. Because we all needed a JS&MN magical coffee shop AU, too.
Shalbatana by ellen_fremedon - The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
Nadia, Hiroko, Ann. 8k. With Ann's guidance, Nadia and Hiroko set off across Mars to find the Sojourner rover, still wandering. I love this integration of the canon with RL Mars events that have happened since it was written, and I love seeing fic of this particular cast of characters, who never interacted much in canon. ellen_fremedon also does a great job of capturing the majesty and isolation of Mars, the way Robinson did.
The Spanish Castle by LookingForOctober - The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Valancy gen, 3.4k. Valancy visits a real life castle and finds a kindred spirit there. Just a sweet and lovely post-book moment.
The Witch [ART] by sassynails - The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein
I'm not familiar with this character, but it doesn't matter, because this multimedia piece is just stunning.
All conversations worth having about space voyages were couched in terms of "delta vee," meaning the increase or decrease in velocity that had to be imparted to a vehicle en route. For, in a common bit of mathematical shorthand, the Greek letter delta (Δ) was used to mean "the amount of change in..." and V was the obvious abbreviation for velocity. The words "delta vee," then, were what you heard when engineers read those symbols aloud.
Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying this book. The Big Thing happened thirty or forty pages ago, and I got a little teary for a moment. But SERIOUSLY, GET AN EDITOR.
I figured out why Stephenson's books are so long. It's because they feature sentences like this:
And also so they could give the peoples of the world some agency. ... "Agency," in the lingo of the sorts of people who had set up this announcement, meant giving people options, giving them some things that they could do to have an effect - imaginary or not.
I've read similarly 3rd-grade-level explanations of, for example, Soyuz spacecraft. At the time I assumed he just wanted to be clear for any non-scientific audience, but now I don't know what audience he's going for. And even supposing your audience is familiar with neither agency nor the Soyuz spacecraft, there are more elegant and less patronizing ways to convey that information. Was he this bad back in the day, like in Cryptonomicon? Maybe he was and I just didn't notice.
In any case, I'm maybe ~60 pages into a 860-page book. This'll be a while.
Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho.
I found this pleasant but not entirely satisfactory. The jacket cover suggests comparisons to Heyer and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, but it has too much serious subject matter for the former and none of the ambitiousness of backstory, worldbuilding, and footnotes of the latter. Someone suggested that perhaps I'd like it better on a second read, now that I know what to expect, and I think that might be true. Even then, the ending seemed weak, and I suspect I will still want more worldbuilding.
In any case, it is a Regency fantasy romp with familiars and magicians and also lots of women, people of color, and examination of various forms of oppression. If that is your sort of thing, then I suspect you would enjoy it.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
I finished this a bit ago. It was suitably psychologically twisted, as I'd hoped, although it lacked the building menace of Haunting of Hill House. I couldn't decide if the reveal towards the end of the book was actually intended to be a reveal, since I'd assumed it to be true since about page two. Anyway, a very Jackson book. I want to read more of her novels.
If you like Gaiman but also female characters and emotional complicatedness, GET THEE TO THIS BOOK.
I have fewer horror prompts than sexy/fluffy prompts, but that's just because I had a harder time thinking of prompts. Please be assured I would be delighted by horror fic or art! Below I’ve included some general types of horror I like, though, so maybe that will help inspire you.
( general likes/dislikes )
( Fandoms: Hockey RPF, Supernatural, Karen Memory )
( books! )
With that in mind, I've been actively reading pro literary SFF for the first time in probably at least five years (other than, like, Mieville). So far, the novels I've been reading are old, but within the next week or so I should be picking up Jo Walton's The Just City and Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory at the library, which I am looking forward to.
However, I've been reading a lot of 2015 short fiction! You guys, there is SO MUCH short SFF being published these days. Tons of it's free online - Clarkesworld, Abyss & Apex, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Tor.com - and there's more that costs, like the big three and Lightspeed.
There've been some threads on ffa for this purpose, which has been keeping me motivated. I've tried a bunch of stuff, but so far Clarkesworld is ahead by a mile in terms of producing stuff I like. What I've read there has been at least moderately successful at least 85% of the time, which is already a better rate than I have previously experienced at any short fiction venue ever. In case you're looking for recs for nominating/general reading purposes, here are a bunch that I enjoyed or found interesting, though sometimes with caveats:
* Cat Pictures Please, by Naomi Kritzer - a would-be benevolent AI who likes cats
* A Universal Elegy, by Tang Fei - unreliable, unstable narrator, creeping alien horror
* Three Cups of Grief, with Starlight, by Aliette de Bodard - mind ships! complicated sibling dynamics
* The 3 Resurrections of Jessica Churchill, by Kelly Robson - compelling, creepy aliens, teen Native girl protagonist, am not sure how I feel about inclusion of 9/11 element, beware graphic rape scene
Anyway, this is a post for talking about 2015 stuff you've read, whether or not you have any intention of nominating things for Hugos. Novels you've read or are looking forward to? Short fiction that you enjoyed?
(FYI if you're looking for things to read, mrissa posts occasional roundup of short fiction she's enjoyed, and someone's keeping a spreadsheet of recced Hugo-eligible works here.)
And since there's no anon period, I can tell you about my fic as well, which is written for China Mieville's The Scar. I've always wanted to write fic for this book, although Tanner/Shekel was not what I ever expected to write. I got to write canon tentacles, though! In fact I amused my Twitter timeline quite a bit a couple of weeks ago, angsting over the porn parts. I'd exhausted all creativity by the time I got to the title, though, as you see.
It turns out this is in fact the first m/m I've ever written for a fictional canon. I'm not sure quite how that happened, but there you are.
kraken bits (3283 words) by Snickfic
Fandom: Bas Lag - China Miéville
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Tanner Sack/Shekel
Characters: Tanner Sack, Shekel
Additional Tags: Tentacles, First Time, Age Difference, Body Image, body shame
Imprisoned, Remade, free now and alone but for his work mates and for Shekel, who liked him – simply and easily, Tanner had thought, though the view was cloudier now. Who’d be surprised at an old invert wanting something like desire turned his way again, after all that?
* Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis books
* Kameron Hurley's SF series that starts with God's War
* Cyteen by CJ Cherryh, because verity says so
* The Instrumentality of Mankind, the complete short stories by Cordwainer Smith
* Gullstruck Island / The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge (Why is the US title always so much worse than the UK one??)
* Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
* The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
* Uprooted by Naomi Novik
* Beasts of Tabat by Cat Rambo
* The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
* The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
* Updraft by Fran Wilde
* Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
* The Language of the Night by Ursula Le Guin, because it's sitting on my shelf
* The Birthday of the World, collection by Ursula Le Guin
* Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
* Sunshine by Robin McKinley, because it's time
I've been picking away at due South. It's just so cute and fuzzy, you guys!
In reading I'm on a Patricia McKillip kick while also working my way through the Hugo-nominated novels. The Three-Body Problem had a lot of interesting ideas, and I love the creepiness as the mystery unfolds over the first 2/3. It's been many moons since I read a book that cared this much about pure science, rather than applied. All that talk about the three-body problem was almost as good as math. :D The backstory dumps that come after the reveal just kill the momentum, though. And now I'm a little way into The Goblin Emperor, which so far is a fine and pleasant read but has not distinguished itself to me at all. I'm also hoping some more women show up soon. (NO SPOILERS. Remember I am a delicate flower about spoilers!)
I've actually read more in the past month than I feel like I have in a really long time. This makes me very happy.
That said, I'm so behind on comics. I have a whole pile I need to get to. In a few weeks, maybe. And I see there are new issues of Copperhead out! \o/
( Marvel comics, Saga, Jurassic Park, Nevewhere, Hanna, Himalayan Mountain Climber RPF )
What I have just finished reading:
The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater. In which a daughter of psychics is drawn into the quest of four private school boys for a sleeping Welsh king. This was superb. Stiefvater has a precision with language that takes my breath away. Her five main characters are all so distinct in their strengths and private conflicts, and she sold me on her plot despite my total disinterest in tarot cards, ley lines, and imported Welsh monarchs.
( spoilers )
I said on Tumblr that the proof would be if I liked the book well enough to put a library hold on the next book, and I just today picked it up from the library, so.
The Story of Christianity, Vol I, by Justo L. Gonzalez. The first volume of two, this is a nice very basic survey if you have an extremely weak grasp of European history, which I do. Gonzalez is a historian, and I thought he did a good job of balancing page constraints with specific detail. I found it very readable. This first volume was from the time of Christ to right before the Reformation, which I shall now being reading about in volume II.
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula Le Guin. I'd read all her major novels except this one; not sure why it took me so long. I'd been spoiled for the basic premise by her much later short story, "Coming of Age in Karhide," which is all about someone experiencing kemmer, sexual characters, and sex for the first time, and was therefore altogether much more interested in the juicy details of those topics than the original novel was. I was thus somewhat taken aback by how much politics there was in it, especially in the first half or so.
In fact, since the first-person POV character through most of it, Genly Ai, is a first-time visitor and envoy to the planet, the book maintains a pretense of objectivity for quite a while, mixed in Genly's rather pettily expressed personal concerns, which makes for a somewhat dryer book than I was expecting. Also, Genly's kind of insufferable for quite a while - small-minded, self-centered, and sexist, although IMO he gets better on all those counts eventually, which I think was a major point of the book. In that way this book reminds me some of A Wizard of Earthsea, except that Genly is never as overtly obnoxious as Ged and also doesn't get hit over the head with a moral lesson the way Ged does. It does make for rough going in the first half, though.
The sexism might have been what grated the most, though, and what I think dates this book. The fact that Genly isn't sure how to deal with an agender population isn't notable, so much as the lens through which he does try to deal with them. Gender essentialism is rampant in his thinking in ways that I would hope an interstellar diplomatic organization would train its ambassadors out of - he talks about one citizen as having womanly hips, another having masculine energy. Like, dude. Have you never met a genderqueer person in your life?
He also refers to all the citizens of Gethen with male pronouns, with the reasoning that those are more universal and less gendered than female pronouns, which is I think clearly meant to point up his gender assumptions, but at the same time gives the reader the impression that this is a planet made up wholly of men. It has a weird flattening effect on the worldbuilding around gender that I think Le Guin was trying to get across.
And yet despite all these caveats, I ended up really liking it, largely because the last seventy-five pages or so feature a get-there-or-bust, two-month mad dash across a glacier with his Gethenian ally, and that hits like half a dozen of my iddy spots. It's there that we realize that this novel has a much more intimate story at its core than I thought it did, about two people from different planets coming to understand each other after a lot of cultural misunderstanding and a lot of mistakes and hiccups as a consequence. I really liked the way that snuck up on both me as a reader and on the characters.
So the gender stuff did not do precisely what I wanted it to, but it gave me plenty to think about, as you can see, and the interpersonal stuff more than made up for it, IMO. I like this one more the longer out I get from it, and the more I chew on it.
What I'm reading now
I'm working very slowly on a reread of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, but I keep being distracted by other things. Likewise I still want to finish Peter Enns' Inspiration and Incarnation.
What I'll read next
As I said, I just picked up the next Raven Cycle book at the library, and I'd like to get started on the second volume of the Christian history book. It's also time to start my annual Hogfather reread! Yet another thing I've suddenly realized I have a looming Christmas deadline for.
* Today’s Featured Recipe: A Quick and Easy Stanley Cup Championship. The "comments section" on this is AMAZING. Oh, Montreal. Oh, Edmonton. OH, EVERYONE.
Possibly the very best part of this plan is that I can have female hockey players on my team, and it won't even be notable. None of the players will have an sexual characteristics 80% of the time anyway, so it will be completely unremarkable if some of their names are Julie and Hilary instead of James and Thomas.
Obviously that other 20% will also feature in the story. Obviously a kemmer house must be visited at least once (and bless Ursula Le Guin for coming back twenty years later to write the salacious expose fic to her work of Serious SF Literature). Probably a pair will vow kemmer to each other at some point.
I wonder if there's a "Alternate Universe - Left Hand of Darkness" tag on AO3...
I say that Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, but in fact he's really only written two books I care about, American Gods and Neverwhere. It's just that I care about them a LOT (albeit for different reasons). I also enjoyed Anansi Boys quite a bit, and I've liked some of his short stories. I found Stardust pleasant but forgettable; I actually liked the movie better.
So, I think we may have fewer hits than misses at this point.
(Has anyone read those YA novels he's writing with Michael Reaves? The Interworld series? Are they worth a try?)
I hope that you, dear author, are feeling similarly excited. I'm thrilled to have you writing something for me, and the fact that you offered one of these fandoms at all tells me that you have excellent taste. I'm so excited to read whatever it is you choose to write!
Also: personally, when I write for really small fandoms I end up putting all this pressure on myself to write The Definitive Fic in the fandom, but that's silly. If you feel the same, please be assured that I'm not hoping for the fic, just a fic. :)
So, on with the requests.
( General likes / dislikes )
( Uncanny X-Force )
( FF )
( Saga )
( RPF – Pittsburgh Penguins )
( Kraken – China Mieville )
( IT Crowd )
What did you finish reading?
I just reread the first volume of East of West. A non-spoilery summary: In a wildly divergent near-future, three horseman of the apocalypse want to start the apocalypse; the fourth horseman, Death, has abandoned ship for reasons of his own, and they can't start without him; their allies are seven rulers of various parts of the Americas, including one Xiaolian, once the warlord daughter of the house of Mao. It's a large cast that takes some time to get to know, but there are a lot of colorful characters in it. Meanwhile the art is gorgeous; limited, dramatic palettes, and Dragotta can draw both faces and startling architecture with ease.
When I first bought and read it a year ago, I didn't care for it much, but as I did buy it and therefore had it sitting around, I thought I'd try it again, and I like it much better now. I think this is partly due to having read a lot of bad comics since then and therefore refining my sensibilities about what good ones look like, and also because I have plenty of comics now featuring people I like and am sympathetic to, and so I'm a little more open to books with less sympathetic characters.
I have now ordered the second volume from the library.
What are you reading now?
A bunch of things, including stuff previously mentioned, but I also just started Kristin Lavransdatter, a trilogy which promises to be "a great story of a woman's passion, sin, and nobility - set against the color, the earthiness, and the violence of Medieval Norway." Yes. As written by a Norwegian in the 1920s. I really have no idea what to expect here, but the books were $.69 a piece at the thrift store, and hey, I like Norway and female characters and sagas. Although, the back cover says the trilogy won a Nobel prize, so perhaps I should have heard of it before.
Nothing to say about it yet; I'm only 11 pages in.
Hexed, by Randominity - Harry Potter, Harry/Draco
In which Harry flubs a spell and accidentally knocks up Draco, and there are all sorts of unexpected consequences.
You have to understand, back when I was a wide-eyed new fan (ie, six years ago), there was not nearly as much mpreg as there is now. Since then there's been some kind of fannish revolution re: certain tropes, which I find fascinating, although that's neither here nor there. So when I figured out mpreg was a thing that existed in fandom and I went hunting for it, Harry Potter fandom was a treasure trove - it was a big enough fandom that even back then there was tons of mpreg for a variety of ships, and on top of that there was painless-j and her epic HP mpreg recs list. As a result, I read a ton of HP fic back then, despite having only read one of the books and part of another one.
Out of them all, this was and remains one of my favorites. It's got the mpreg-is-weird angle and also the unlikely-friendship thing that I adore, as well as a lot of the kinds of moments that I read mpreg for, like when Draco awkwardly explains to Harry why he's decided to keep the baby, despite finally being given an out. It has some awkward first-time (and second-time) sex, too, which I also appreciate.
It does have some weirdness, such as the fact that Harry's spell has taken away Draco's boy bits and given him girl bits, which a) is implied rather than ever outright stated, so that I didn't even pick up on it in my first couple of reads, and b) leads to this awkward post-partum conversation where Draco inquires whether Harry will even be sexually interested in him anymore, now that he has his dick back. (Spoiler: Harry is.)
Still, I have a lot of nostalgic fondness for this fic, which is what the "something old" category is all about. So. :)
( the entire meme )
Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you.
This list is going to largely consist of "Books I read at an impressionable age that have had lasting effects on my mental landscape." All aboard the nostalgia train!
- The Little White Horse - Elizabeth Gouge (because hares are more noble than rabbits)
- The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm - Nancy Farmer (between this and House of the Scorpion, Farmer is one of the weirdest and most underappreciated YA authors of the 90s)
- The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (one of my single most favorite books ever ever ever)
- Anne of the Island - L.M. Montgomery (or really everything by Montgomery, but Anne's games of imagination with Davy particularly resonated)
- The Wind in the Door - Madeleine L'Engle (I was so disappointed to find out what mitochondria were actually like. So disappointed)
- The Harper Hall Trilogy - Anne McCaffrey (FORMATIVE. INFLUENCE.)
- My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George (wilderness survival narratives - never over them)
- The Goats - Brock Cole (such an odd man out on this list - boy and girl on the cusp of puberty get bullied at summer camp and run away together for several days, stealing food and hiding out and bedsharing - but it's stuck with me all this time after only that one read)
- The Alfred Hitchcock series of children's horror anthologies (so much weird there for a young mind just starving for weird)
- Weirdos of the Universe Unite - Pamela Sargent (where I was introduced to several mythological / folklore figures, for one thing, like Baba Yaga and the Horned King. A profoundly weird and silly book.)
The main themes here seem to be: female authors, SFF in some way. Shocking, I know. From when I could read, the weird was always what I wanted.
Other key influences that didn't make this list: Dr. Seuss (again, as weird as possible: On Beyond Z, Oh the Places You'll Go...), Chris Van Allsburg, Bruce Coville because I couldn't choose just one, Alexander Key with some inescapably 60s-flavored children's fantasy alongside his relatively respectable Escape to Witch Mountain, The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts, and on and on.
The avanc was a rare visitor to the seas of Bas-Lag. The intricacies of transplanar life were abstruse and uncertain. Neither Tanner Sack nor any of his colleagues knew whether the creature that breached in Bas-Lag was a partial or a total manifestation, a confusion of scale (some protozoon, some plankton from a huge brine dimension), a pseudoorganism spontaneously generated in the vents between worlds. No one knew.
Bellis felt a flicker of slight surprise at his sadness. She felt nothing. She was not even disappointed. They had sought and found something in each other, and they had business together (an absurdly understated formulation for their project), but that was all. She bore him no ill feelings. She even felt a residue of affection and gratitude to him, like a film of grease. But no more than that. She was surprised by his faltering tone, his regret and apologies and hint of deeper feelings.
Bellis discovered, with unfolding interest, that she was not quite convinced by him. She did not believe his insinuations. She could not tell whether he believed them himself, but she knew, suddenly, that she did not.
She found that calming. She sat still, after he was gone, with her hands folded, her pale face immobile and lapped by the wind.
Like a film of grease.
This was a Yuletide treat a couple of years ago. I had always wanted to write fic for a Mieville novel, and I had just read Railsea, and in their Yuletide letter this person requested fic about the mysterious and fearsome female moletrain captain, Captain Naphi. After a year or so writing the more stripped-down style prose I usually end up with for SPN, it was awfully fun to attempt Mieville's much more rambunctious and stylized prose. It's distant backstory, so it might be worth trying even if you haven't read the novel.
This was also, incidentally, the fic that officially got me writing f/f, a trend which is still going strong.
(By the way, if you've had a hankering to try Mieville, you could do a lot worse than Railsea. It's got that same gonzo worldbuilding that the Bas-Lag novels are so full of, but with much much less ickiness. It's basically coming-of-age novel mixed up with nods to Moby Dick - Naphi is the Captain Ahab figure - It's story of exploration and wonder as our protagonist finds himself going farther and farther off the map, but you don't read it for him; you read it for the side characters and, most of all, for the world and prose. At least, that's what I really enjoyed about it.)
( the whole meme )
EDIT: I'm adding one more super big wish right here at the top, and that's if you become or are already familiar with any of the TV/books/comics I mention below, that you post about them on your journal. I have several friends who've already read Seraphina, for example, and I would LOVE to have them write rambly squee or meta or whatever about it, so I can jump in and squee, too. So even if you've already watched/read the thing I'm requesting, you can still totally fulfill one of my wishes!!
( Twin Peaks )
( Remender's Uncanny X-Force )
( Saga )
( FF )
( Nimona )
( China Mieville )
( Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman )
( The Birthday of the World collection by Le Guin )
As far as I'm concerned, comfort books are the ones you reread over and over again, the kind where every year or so you say, "Hey, it's about time to read X again." It doesn't count as a comfort read until the newness has already worn off, until the grooves of the story are comfortably worn in my memory and I have half an idea where on the page individual sentences ought to appear. They're books I can pick up at any moment and fall into.
So here's a list of books that serve that purpose for me. It turned into a recs list more than anything. Harrigan, if there's something particular you wanted to hear about why I picked these, just ask. :)
( titles! )
( a numbered list, with commentary )
( recs for Orphan Black, Asimov's Robot Series, and Heyer's Cotillion )
There may be a matching fiction post to follow later.
( six books I enjoyed a lot )