Yes, Roya, by C. Spike Trotman and Emilee Denich. I picked this up after reading the review on Oh Joy Sex Toy (link NSFW, but then, so is the book, heh). And, whoa - it definitely lives up to Moen's praise. Frankly, it's as much romance as it is pornography, effectively engaging the emotions as well as the gonads; you really feel for poor Wylie, in thoroughly over his head and yet determined to prove his worth, professionally and sexually.
So, it works emotionally, it works physically (boy howdy, does it). Me being me, however, I of course have to think through the story and its implications, and that's where Yes, Roya's pornographic sensibilities become a liability. Pornography, to paraphrase Neil Gaiman, is defined in part by its lack of consequences - no STDs, no babies, no traumatic experiences, no social repercussions. What's frustrating is that Yes, Roya is clearly trying to be more than that - there's some very intelligent examination of the social context of the 1960s, the limitations of gender and race in society, the repercussions of living an unconventional lifestyle, and the advantages of keeping one's true feelings and identity hidden while nonetheless subtly coding art to introduce unusual dynamics. But ultimately, I wanted more of that - more context of Wylie's life outside of his work and romantic interests, more about Joe and Roya's social life outside of Wylie (presumably they have likeminded or at least accepting friends?), more indicators of the social rules that our three protagonists are upending, and the consequences they must accept. I think this would have given the ending a little more dramatic punch; certainly it would have felt more honest.
Even with my complaints, however, this is a hell of a read - kinky, erotic, beautifully written and drawn, and crazy hot. Well worth checking out and admiring even if femdom threesomes aren't your thing.
A Wind in the Door, by Madeline L'Engle. I read this once when I was much younger, and didn't like it as much as A Wrinkle in Time; I think I had trouble with the increasing level of abstraction, and Teachers like Blajeny and Louise-the-serpent weren't anywhere near as emotionally engaging as the tripartite-motherly Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs Which. Reading them as an adult, though, I think this is the stronger volume; the themes are better developed and Meg's grown up enough to be not quite so self-absorbed. In retrospect, I could have saved myself quite a bit of life frustration if I'd read more closely the bits about Charles Wallace having to adjust to life with a peer group at a very different level than he was, but I suppose that's never really been me, heh.
What I'm currently reading
Blood of Ambrose, by James Enge. This has won my scant reading time this week due to the sheer convenience of being on my Kindle. So far (all of maybe three chapters in) it's been pretty standard high-fantasy stuff; some palace intrigue, hints of a historical tragedy, a dash of trial-by-combat. I feel like the author read the advice of "start your story with an action piece" but fell into the very common trap of focusing on said action without having spent any effort getting to know the people involved, which makes it feel somewhat distant. Still, now that the setpiece is over and the characters are interacting, things are picking up a bit.
What I plan to read next
I suspect She's Not There will be my airplane reading, although I'd really like to finish Come As You Are first...we'll see how it goes!
Today I found this beauty. The door itself is purple, but the panels have been painted pink and there are little flowers on the panels which have picked out in a deep violet. It's wonderful.
( Pictures )
How can it only be Wednesday? Yesterday felt like it was 8 days long in and of itself. Sigh.
What I've just finished
What I'm reading now
Still on Abaddon's Gate. I like it but not as much as the first two books so it's taking me longer to read (the fact that I haven't been getting a seat on the train hasn't helped). I feel like the new characters are not nearly as interesting as Avasarala and Bobbie, though I like Anna and Bull just fine. Melba, otoh... On the plus side, ( spoilers ) I'm about a hundred pages from the end so I'm guessing there's still some excitement to come.
What I'm reading next
Regardless, I did pick up the next book - Cibola Burn - because I do want to see what happens next. I just also wish we got the POV from the others on the Roci instead of all Holden all the time there.
"Hi! Please sign and return this page as soon as possible!! [happy emoji]"
"Page attached!! [excited emoji]"
"Got it, thank you!!!"
I think we're all a little delirious at this point. We might be down to nothing but emojis and strings of !!!!!!!!! by monday.
Tuesday was supposed to be my rest day, but I spent it biking down to Lincoln Park to see if they could un-boing my computer. They did (yay!) and didn't even charge me (double yay!), so I biked home, used it for a bit without incident, then plugged it in...and shortly thereafter it went boing again. Current theories are either the adapter or the power board are bad; either way, double augh. It's going to have to wait until Brian can take a look at it, because I don't have the time to get back down to Lincoln Park...and he's in Las Vegas at the moment, and then we're both headed to Boston almost directly after that. And of course, Monday was the day I had multiple people messaging me wanting to set up massage appointments, which is a giant pain in the butt to do on my phone. Woo, timing!
On the upside, I've got my old computer with an external keyboard, so at least I'm not completely dependent on my phone. Also, I'm kind of proud of myself - usually when Brian's out of town I live on packaged food and take-out, but instead I hunted down ingredients at the Asian store and tried out a recipe for a cold noodle dish with pork and vegetables that I could separate into single-serving containers and stick in the fridge. (The recipe itself is maybe a 3.5 out of five - like most NYTimes recipes, it needs more spices. But it's edible and halfway healthy...although I was entertained to realize halfway through that I was basically making a more-white-person version of a dish the Vietnamese restaurant next door sells. They do it better.) And this morning I went to Sculpt despite being much more tired than originally planned. I'm glad I did, despite my arms being tired; Rob-of-the-5:30-AM-sunrise-pictures-#
So, yeah. I think the theme for my classes today and tomorrow will be something related to perseverance, heh. We'll see if it pays off...
( Cut to keep from clogging your reading page )
The Disabled People Destroy SF Kickstarter*, to produce a disability themed special issue of Uncanny magazine, is up and running here and well on its way to meeting the initial funding goal (about 80% funded with 29 days to go).
And the first of their personal essays on disability and SF is up here, a good piece on Mental Health/neurodiversity** getting in the way of growing up to be the SF protagonist you dreamed of, that the genre allows you to be, so sitting down and setting to work to change the genre to allow for protagonists with MH/neurodiversity. I'm so glad the first piece talks about MH/neurodiversity and invisible disability, as they're the most invisible/most often cured of SFnal disabilities.
* If you aren't familiar with the 'x' People Destroy series, it has already done POC Destroy SF and Queers Destroy SF to significant success. I was initially a little disconcerted it's swapped magazines for the disability issue, from Lightspeed to Uncanny, but the editors of Uncanny have a disabled child and they've assembled a solid team of disabled editors for the special issue, so my worries seem unfounded.
** The author talks about a bipolar diagnosis, but then settles on neurodiversity as their preferred community label. It's a view I have some sympathy with, though it can confuse people about non-MH related neurodiversity.
(I guess it really always does come back to fandom to keep me more-or-less sane. No surprise there.)
Okay, I swore (to myself, at least) that I'd keep up with the Wednesday book meme, so let's do that, too.
Hunted, Megan Spooner -- YA retelling of Beauty and the Beast, where Beauty is a hunter and spends a fair amount of her time with the Beast working out how she's going to kill him. Beauty as an archer? I was all over it, and I feel like there are a fair number of ppl reading this who would also take to the concept. And I am happy to say it pretty much fulfilled its promise, so feel free to go for it.
The Darwath Trilogy, Barbara Hambly -- I always forget how much I like her writing until I stumble over another of her books and get sucked in to a world that's different from all the others.
The Dark Days Club, Alison Goodman -- what Pride and Prejudice and Zombies could have been if the author had actually liked the conventions of the Regency romance he was building on. And knew how to create a supernatural world that overlays the normal one.
Midnight Riot, Ben Aaronovitch, narrated by Kobda Holdbrook-Smith -- I feel like I'd really like the book anyway, but the narration is ten shades of awesome.
When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon -- New Adult romance that I think I'm about ready to bail on. It's not them, it's me, etc, etc, etc… I think I'm officially Too Old For This.
I think that Currently Reading list is more than enough to deal with for now!
I see I have become a legend, my life, my love,
And her life and death, a legend.
In time it will all be remembered
In time it will all be forgotten
And remembered again, the wrack and refuse
Of all I did and meant and cared for
From fragments painfully regained
That is the nature of legends
And time and life and love.
So imagine my embarrassment
That what is known of me, that all I am remembered for
Out of everything I was and did,
Is my worldly love for an earthly girl
Not the symbol of Heaven’s love,
Nor the breeze dancing over the battlemenrs
To shake the laurel leaves,
The golden hills rolling away
From the waters of Bablyon where I sat down,
But the breath that moved in her real breast
And her small, individual, irreproducible smile.
Cardiff, 25th July 2017
Yesterday bluemeridian posted a batch of MCU and Wonder Woman recs.
"‘Wrath of Khan’ Returning to Theaters for 35th Anniversary".
"Orbit Turns 10: Take a Look at a Decade of Milestones". [The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog]
Via misbegotten, the Cincinnati Zoo has successfully reunited Fiona-the-hop with both of her parents. Adorable hippo pictures ahoy!
From 2014, but via Twitter today: "BitchTapes: American Protest Music". [Bitch Media]
"The Fourth Messenger at the 2017 New York Musical Festival". [ViennaTeng.com] (Includes purchase links for the soundtrack and script.)
On Atlas Obscura:
--"NASA Just Released Hundreds of Historic Space and Aviation Videos".
--"These Endangered Pygmy Rabbits Survived a Wildfire by Heading Underground".
--"Why It Took Scientists So Long to Figure Out Where Babies Come From: Human conception was still basically a total mystery until as recently as 1875".
--"The Odor ‘Wheel’ Decoding the Smell of Old Books".
--"The Dormouse-Fattening Jars of Ancient Rome".
--"People in 1920s Berlin Nightclubs Flirted via Pneumatic Tubes".
--"Found: Never-Developed Photos of Mount St. Helens Erupting".
--"These Maps Reveal the Hidden Structures of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books".
On Mental Floss:
--"The Golden Girls Are Starring in Their Own Version of Clue".
--"This Illustrated Periodic Table Shows How We Regularly Interact With Each Element".
The tv show cut or compressed various characters and slimmed down events, and given that they do two books per season so far, that's not surprising. But even if they took a longer time, I think some of the changes and cuts were to the narrative's benefit. For example: Cornwell has to come up with some pretty convoluted circumstances and far-stretched plots to have a teenage Uthred who is still with the Danes secretly present when Prince (not yet King) Alfred confesses about his carnal lapses to Beocca. In the book, he needs to be because he's the narrator and neither Alfred nor Beocca would have told him about this. The tv show dispenses with said circumstances and just has the scene between Alfred and Beocca, without Uthred secretly listening in, because he doesn't need to be in order for the audience to get this information about the young Alfred.
Mind you, dispensing with the first two times Uthred meets Alfred and letting their first encounter not happen until after Ragnar the Elder's death creates one important difference between book and show relationship that's worth mentioning. Book Uthred lies to Alfred (and Beocca) these first two times and point blank spies on them for the Danes, so the later "why do you keep distrusting me?" indignation rings a little hollow in this regard. Show Uthred does no such thing, so Alfred is accordingly less justified in his lingering ambiguity.
Another cut that somewhat shifts perception: the first novel has Uthred participating in a few Danish raids led by Ragnar, including one on Aelswith's hometown (though she doesn't know he took part). Now, in the show we go from Uthred the child to adult Uthred directly and adult Uthred is solely seen at Ragnar's home, with the deaths of Ragnar & Co. impending, but given adult Uthred later is shown to be already a skilled fighter, it stands to reason he practiced these skills. But I suspect the show avoided showing Uthred fighting against Saxon civilians this early on deliberately. Both show and books have Uthred loving the Danes but staying with the Saxons post Ragnar's death because various circumstances (and then Alfred's machinations) make it impossible for him to do otherwise. Only the book, though, spells out that Uthred doesn't start to feel any kind of identification/emotional connection to the Saxons until he sees them winning a battle (until then, narrator Uthred says, he hadn't thought Danes could lose, which makes sense given that throughout Uthred's childhood and adolescence, they were winning), when before he regarded them as weak and didn't want to think of himself as belonging to them. Which makes sense given Uthred is raised in a warrior culture and is a young, arrogant adolescent at the time, but again, I suspect the tv version avoids spelling this out in order not to make him off putting early on when establishing the character.
Otoh, the scenes the tv show adds in the two seasons where Uthred isn't present all serve to flesh out the characters in question more and work to their benefit, whether it's Alfred, Hild, Aelswith or Beocca. The notable exception is Guthred in s2, whose additional scenes make him look worse, not better than the novel does. Possibly, too, because in the novel Guthred is described having an easy charm that makes Book!Uthred forgive him even the truly terrible thing Guthred does to Uthred, and the actor playing Guthred on the show doesn't have that at all, and instead comes across as nothing but fearful, easily influenced and weak. (And show!Uthred while coming to terms with him doesn't forgive him.) I have to say, lack of actorly charm aside, given that Guthred ( does something spoilery to Uthred ), I find the tv version more realistic.
The push-pull relationship between Uthred and Alfred is there in both versions, but in the tv show, it comes across as more central. As my local library has it, I also read "Death of Kings", the novel in which, Alfred dies, not without manipulating Uthred one last time into doing what he wants him to do, and Uthred's thoughts on the man later, summing him up, are Cornwell's prose at its best:
I stood beside Alfred's coffin and thought how life slipped by, and how, for nearly all my life, Alfred had been there like a great landmark. I had not liked him. I had struggled against him, despised him and admired him. I hated his religion and its cold disapproving gaze, its malevolence that cloaked itself in pretended kindness, and its allegiance to a god who would drain the joy from the world by naming it sin, but Alfred's religion had made him a good man and a good king.
And Alfred's joyless soul had proved a rock against which the Danes had broken themselves. Time and again they had attacked, and time and again Alfred had out-thought them, and Wessex grew ever stronger and richer and all that was because of Alfred. We think of kings as privileged men who rule over us and have the freedom to make, break and flaunt the law, but Alfred was never above the law he loved to make. He saw his life as a duty to his god and to the people of Wessex and I have never seen a better king, and I doubt my sons, grandson and their children's children will ever see a better one. I never liked him, but I have never stopped admiring him. He was my king and all that I now have I owe to him. The food that I eat, the hall where I live and the swords of my men, all started with Alfred, who hated me at times, loved me at times, and was generous with me. He was a gold-giver.
Last Yuletide I added a Last Kingdom request at the last minute because I'd seen it had been nominated, and accordingly it was short, but this Yuletide I think I'll also offer, and will request in more detail and more characters. While the other historical tv shows I consumed during the last year were entertaining in various degrees, this was the only one which was also good.