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Books, and, uh, democracy [Jun. 10th, 2017|06:42 pm]
I had a big, long post about the election planned, except it basically boiled down to: well, that was weird. Good weird, I think. I'm not sure.

I'm glad I got to keep my SNP MP, because she has been A Good Egg. But it turns out that my newfound evangelism for Scottish independence was soft, and based on the presumption of a permanent tory majority in Westminster, because as the night wore on I realised that I honestly wouldn't have cared if the SNP had lost all their seats, so long as they had all broken for labour or the lib dems.

Thirteen tory MPs in Scotland. There goes a perfectly good panda joke. I mean, fuck's sake, hating tories was the one thing we were good at up here. I blame it entirely on Ruth Davidson and her un-tory like ability to act like a real, actual human being. On the other hand the constituencies that went conservative were old school tory seats, so maybe things aren't weird, maybe this is the closest to normal we've been in years?

In conclusion, I have no conclusion... Let's talk about books.

City of Miracles - Robert Jackson Bennet
The Power - Naomi Alderman
Peggy & Me - Miranda Hart
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud - Elizabeth Greenwood

City of Miracles is the final book in the Divine Cities trilogy, which has been brilliant, is about the aftermath of people killing the gods, and which is not shy of killing off characters that you would have thought had plot armour. This is a satisfying conclusion to the series, in which divine offspring make their appearance; it's maybe the weakest of the three, but that's largely because the first two set such a high bar, which it ju-st fails to clear. But if you've been waiting to read them until the series was concluded then don't walk, run. Highly recommended

The Power just won the Bailey's prize, so if you believe the Bailey's panel, maybe read it, if you believe me, probably don't. In it women develop a vestigial organ that allows them to conduct electricity, and suddenly we're the dominant sex. The thing that never worked for me is... like, while I believe that given a sudden biological advantage women might well be shit to men, what I couldn't buy was that they were immediately shit to men in the style of 1970s misogynists. As straight sci-fi I don't buy it and think it lacks imagination, and as metaphor I think it's too on the nose. The one thing I thought it did really well was of all the rotating povs only one was a dude, a Nigerian journalist, and his incremental fear and realisation that his bodily autonomy wasn't necessarily inviolable was extremely well done.

Memoirs about people's lives with their dogs are one of my guilty pleasures, and Peggy & Me has the benefit of being genuinely hilarious.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay has been sitting in a pile of unread books for, oh, years, and I had a hankering for a physical book after a run of ebooks. I assume I'm pretty much the last person in the world to get to this; it's about the golden age of comic books, but it's also about the second world war, and being gay in the 1930s, and families both biological and of choice. I loved it. It's nearly seven hundred pages long, meanders all over the place, and is essentially a boy book about boys, and still I loved it. So there you go.

Playing Dead is about people who've faked their own deaths. Except it's not about that, it's about the author whinging about her boring life, and student loans, and the google 'how do you fake your own death' rabbit hole that she went done. The problems with this book are numerous: 1) the writing is rubbish, 2) it's not a book, it's an eminently skippable internet article, 3) about a fifth of it is about people who believe Michael Jackson is still alive, which appears to have only been included to inflate it to the minimum wordcount for publication, 4) the author's personality really came through in the writing, this was not a good thing.

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Wonder Woman [Jun. 1st, 2017|11:39 pm]
I very rarely go to the cinema; it's so expensive, telly is so good these days, and there's so much of it. I think the last thing I went to was Ghostbusters, and I'll probably go again for Atomic Blonde. I feel like as I spend a not inconsiderable amount of time bitching about the lack of female led properties I should throw some coinage at those which come my way.

Which brings us to, ta da, Wonder Woman.

I was dismayed to look at the rota, and see that I don't have a proper day off until late next week. A week and a bit before I could see Wonder Woman. Anything might happen. All the cinemas in Scotland might lose their copies of the film. The internet might decide that it was shit and preemptively ruin it for me. The fandom might come and go without me.

Yes, I could have gone after work, but I've read too many articles about how long it's okay to leave a dog on it's own before you're being unkind. For what it's worth, I don't hold with the view that you shouldn't have a dog unless you're home all day; capitalism is a thing, and I'd guess that there are more dogs needing good homes than there are pensioners, stay at home parents, and people who work from home put together. Still, I think seeing a three hour film after being at work all day anyway is a bit much to ask of the dog. Plus, Freya has some Springer Spaniel in her heritage, and if not sufficiently entertained is wont to, ahem, entertain herself.

Anyway, while sulkily poking at cinema listings I noticed that my local, crappy, suburban cinema was doing midnight screenings last night, and for half the price of waiting and going to the big cinema in town next week. It hasn't cost me a fiver to go to the cinema since I was buying under-12s tickets. And it turned out that the crappy suburban cinema has gone upmarket since I was being taken to see All Dogs Go To Heaven twenty odd years ago - who woulda thunk it? - at least far enough upmarket that they sell wine now. The screens are still pretty basic, but it was actually a relief to just go to a 2D screening without having to scan fruitlessly through 3D listings and ones where, idk, your chair gives you a massage during the film.

I might have slightly scared the boy at the concession stand where I was buying half a bottle of wine and an obscenely large bag of M&M laced popcorn; I'd already come out by myself at midnight on a wednesday, might as well go the whole hog, you know?

"Are you looking forward to Wonder Woman?" he asked.

"ONLY SINCE I WAS THREE," I bellowed, in case the M&Ms, wine, and solitary middle of the night presence weren't clues enough.

Anyway, onto the film:

Wonder WomanCollapse )

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A Girl and Her Dog, Watching TV [May. 30th, 2017|10:56 pm]
In life it is important to always read any and all signs posted. For example, there is a sign in one of the parks that the dog and I occasionally frequent saying that all dogs must be kept on their leads around the pond; this is for the eminently sensible reason of stopping dogs from picking fights they can't possibly win with parentally enraged swans. I did not heed this sign, and guess what the dog did?

Yup. Charged barking at a swan with two cygnets. The worst of all possible swans to antagonise. The swan reared up to what, I swear to god, seemed like twelve feet tall with a wingspan that would have put those eagles in The Lord of the Rings to shame. The dog quickly realised that she'd made a huge mistake and bolted behind my legs, shaking and whining to be protected. The swan charged, and I did what anyone would have done if called upon to defend woman's best friend from a vengeful proto-dinosaur; I abandoned the dog and dived sideways through a hedge.

The dog was located twenty minutes later mooching around the ice cream van, presumably shopping for braver owners. There have been no sightings of the swan.

You know, if it wasn't for Freya I might give this whole 'outdoors' thing up as a bad lot.

The annual telly renewals/cancellations hoopla happened, and I was bummed to see Pitch and Sweet/Vicious go, both because I was really enjoying them, and because it felt like part of some sort of one step forward, two steps back, anti-representation backlash. But maybe I'm just projecting like whoa? Pitch is the one that really irks, because I read an interview with the showrunner where he said that the show only ended on that cliffhanger because they were that sure of their renewal prospects. And I can't help thinking that if they'd ended it with Ginny pitching a perfect game it would have worked perfectly as a self-contained mini-series.

I was super relieved that Brooklyn Nine-Nine got renewed, because, boy, would that have been a sucky note to end on; also, it's awesome. And I saw that Elementary was renewed, but only for a half-season, which I'm guessing means it'll be the show's farewell outing (I watched Person of Interest, I've been here before.) If so, I'm actually less bummed by this than I would have expected. The Shinwell arc never really worked for me, the Kitty reunion fell flat, and the last couple of episodes with Sherlock hallucinating his dead mum seemed symptomatic of a show fatally short of ideas.

The only thing I'm really excited for in the new glut of shows is Star Trek: Discovery. My new litmus test for stuff I really should check out is: are sexist eejits screaming about it on the internet? If so, hard yes.

I stopped watching Supergirl at the S2 hiatus, because my tumblr experience was naught but relentlessly negative on it. But after the finale I caught up with the back half of the season over a couple of days, and, unpopular opinion: I don't see any real difference in quality between seasons one and two.

It probably helps me that I don't miss Cat Grant. What can I say, corporate feminism does nothing for me. But by the same token, I can't get in to Kara/Lena either; I get stuck somewhere between 'what accent is Katie McGrath actually trying to do?' and 'I'm sure there's good fic for this pairing somewhere, but I can't find it for the dreck.'

I don't know, the pacing was borked, with too many competing storylines (Cadmus, Daxam, did we ever do anything with the fact that the president's an alien? or that Jeremiah's still alive?) The Kara/Mon-El romance couldn't have been any more generic without actually being a Nicholas Sparks novel. Actually, I've decided the perfect role for Mon-El in S2 would have been as Winn's love interest; that way Winn could still have been having quite a lot of sex with someone who doesn't understand Earth ways, and Mon-El could have had mentor-student shenanigans with Kara when the plot called for it. The show obviously doesn't have the foggiest what to do with James Olsen now that he's not the designated love interest in a way that's borderline offensive. And while I frickin' adored Alex's coming out and the slow burn of Alex and Maggie getting together, I was less sold on them as a couple; they were by turns too twee (the prom episode) and dysfunctional (Maggie's secrecy and Alex's total lack of boundaries) but I can't tell if the show was doing that on purpose or not. I would actually be open to Alex having a different love interest in S3 having learned that spontaneous proposals of marriage to people you haven't actually been with all that long are not the way to go.

S2 had it's problems, and it was definitely a soft reboot from S1, so that probably sucked for people who loved the first season more than I did. But, surprise surprise, tumblr was being hysterical when people were screaming about it having turned into some sort of misogynistic hellscape.

I liked it; I thought it was, by and large, fun and cute.

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Books [May. 14th, 2017|04:49 pm]

A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers
A View From the Cheap Seats - Neil Gaiman
Of Fire and Stars - Audrey Coulthurst
Within the Sanctuary of Wings - Marie Brennan
Want You Gone - Christopher Brookmyre

A Closed and Common Orbit is the second instalment in Becky Chambers Wayfarers series, and it took me a wee bit longer to get into than the first, only because I was that wistful that we weren't rejoining the crew from that book. Although it picks up with a couple of minor characters from the first book this one could be read as a standalone (although you really ought to read Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, because it's lovely). It's about found families, and sentient AIs, and transcending sucky circumstances. Cosy sci-fi that doesn't skip on the worldbuilding - I have my fingers and toes crossed for more in this world.

It's not a secret that Neil Gaiman's fiction does little for me (it always reads as oddly flat) but I do like his brain; I've loved the things he's written about the importance of libraries, and of creating things. So I picked up A View From the Cheap Seats, a collection of his non-fiction. And, yeah, about 15-20% was that, but the rest of it was reprints of intros he'd written to other people's books, and that can seem kind of circle-jerky at the best of times, but at least when the author is talking about things you've read you can agree or not with them, or where your tastes overlap you might discover new things to check out. But Gaiman's tastes are a bit too... 'boy nerd' to be helpful to me. So this was largely a collection of intros to books and comics I haven't read, and have no desire to read, as such... meh.

Of Fire and Stars is a YA fantasy where a princess travels to a new kingdom to meet the prince she's been betrothed too since infancy, only to find herself falling in love with his sister. And the f/f romance was lovely, it was a slow burn hate-at-first-sight to love that was, alas, trapped inside a painfully generic YA fantasy. If you were to write a YA novel using a write-by-numbers kit this is the book you'd write. The characterisation of the central pairing was thin (one is nice, the other is feisty) while the characterisation of the secondary characters was non-existent. Even the prince, upon discovering his fiancee in bed with his sister, manages to react with a little less feeling than a dead dodo. The worldbuilding lurches between the non-existent and nonsensical, even by the standards of YA fantasies.

My thing with this book was, like, imagine someone had written the book of your dreams, but it was shite.

Within the Sanctuary of Wings is the final instalment of the Memoirs of Lady Trent series, the outrageously delightful adventures of a pseudo-Victorian lady naturalist who specialises in dragons.

(I say final instalment because I read somewhere that Marie Brennan is working on a book set in the same world but a couple of generations down the line, which I am leery of because I am wary of diminishing returns, I mean look what happened when the Parasol Protectorate time skipped like that. But the Lady Trent series is complete, and, as mentioned, de-fucking-lightful.)

There is twist in this final instalment, that I don't want to give away, but in the hands of a different writer could have come across as straining suspension of disbelief but in Marie Brennan's made me look back on the previous four novels and go ooh, that's clever. I give the entire series a solid A.

While I'm on the topic of series that know, or don't, when to end: Christopher Brookmyre is one of my favourite writers, and Jack Parlabane my favourite of his creations. But this eighth instalment in the Parlabane series is an inadvertent argument that Jack should have been put out to pasture with, probably, Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks. Although, Black Widow was a good take on a reporter of legally dubious methods in a post Leveson world, but showing Jack back on the top of his game in Want You Gone kind of undercuts the value of that outing.

Also, Brookmyre has generally done a good job of moving Parlabane with the times, and as middle aged Scottish blokes go, he's pretty progressive, so the scene where the middle-aged Jack sleeps with twenty-five year old bisexual with an undercut kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.

Basically, authors, know when to let your self-inserts go.

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May the Fourth... [May. 5th, 2017|10:08 pm]
A joke I was told yesterday by a small boy:

Small Boy: I want Avengers potatoes for my lunch.
Me: I'm sorry, honey, there's no such thing.
Small Boy: Yes, there is. There's Hulk's Mash.

He's not quite four, so the set-up was much more drawn out and painful, but still... drumroll, please.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I wasn't entirely sure if I was going to do anything, partly because since last year my two best friends have adopted the aforementioned small boy. But when I mentioned to his mum that I didn't really have any plans she invited me to come round and spend some time with the wee guy until he went to nursery, and then we could have lunch. This invitation was issued was a tinge of desperation, and appeared to be code for: please come round and tag in for a couple of hours, if only to give him someone else to ricochet off, and then you can drink a glass of wine while I stare at you wistfully. A good time was had by all. Especially by me, as I spent much of the morning playing dead having been 'shielded' to death by a tiny child carrying a plastic Captain America shield (you have to lie very still and quiet until he comes back and cuddles you to make you not be dead anymore.)

I meandered back into town to the big bookshop. I was planning to buy myself City of Miracles as I've been looking forward to it all year and it was coming out on my birthday, but it's come out as one of those wonky oversized paperbacks that costs fifteen quid and fucks up whatever shelving system you're trying to work. Instead I got the final Lady Trent book, which I didn't even know was out yet, so that was just as good. Plus, the father of Small Boy, has been the one on the receiving end of most of my rants about Trump and the US election, so he got me Elizabeth Warren's book and wrote 'better luck next time!' inside the cover.

I retired to a pub beer garden for a couple of (3) pints and a little bit of the good Senator. I closed out the day by taking myself off to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I hadn't actually been that fussed about seeing Guardians; the film I really wanted to see was Wonder Woman, but they'd thoughtlessly failed to bring it out in time for my birthday. But ultimately I'm glad it worked out this way; I nearly pissed myself laughing, and I have all these Gamora and Nebula feelings that I know not what to do with.

Then I woke up this morning to discover that the local elections had given me the belated birthday present of a UKIP wipeout (good riddance to bad rubbish) although little else positive can be taken from them. Oh, I am so not looking forward to the general next month.

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Ficcity Fic [May. 3rd, 2017|01:10 am]
I ended up writing three fics for the Fandom Trumps Hate auction. This is the last one, and I'd barred myself for doing any exchanges or taking any prompts until it was done, so I can sign up for stuff again (woot! woot!)

The prompt was for a fic where Lyanna became the heir to Winterfell when one of her brothers ran off with Rhaegar, and I tried and tried (there were drafts where I tried it with each of the three Stark boys; the one with Ned was especially hilarious, but not in a good way) but I couldn't quite make it work. So ultimately I killed all the dudes off ('cept for wee Benjen, who still gets to go to the Wall) and wrote a Lyanna lives AU where she gets to be the Stark in Winterfell; Elia lives too, because Elia should always live.

The person I wrote it for seemed to like it, and it's all for a good cause anyway.

How to Ruin Your Life and Disappoint Your Loved Ones (ASOIAF, Lyanna Stark, 5k)

Domeric had once told her that men called her the young wolf. Lyanna had heard herself called the soiled wolf, and other less kind things besides


Lyanna's Rebellion.

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I feel like I'm living in some sort of perpetual electoral purgatory [Apr. 18th, 2017|10:34 pm]
I am someone who's a total politics junkie. I watch BBC Parliament, and not just when I'm too delusional with fever to remember how to change the channel; I follow the elections of countries I don't live in; I vote in every election in which I am eligible with a song in my heart, because isn't democracy great!

And even I greeted the announcement that there's to be a snap general election with an "...oh, for fucks's sake", shortly followed by a grumpy, Scottish "so it's not the time for indyref2, is it? I see what you did there, May."

I think the reason I was okay, although not thrilled, about the prospect of a second independence referendum was that at least there I could see the possibility of an outcome I wanted: Sottish independence. What's the best possible outcome of this new election? A slightly smaller than expected Tory landslide?

I was pleased to see people calling bullshit on May's stated reason for calling the election. The opposition are threatening to derail the brexit process? Except Labour last opposed anything about eighteen months ago, and have voted through all of your brexit legislation with nary a whimper. The Lib Dems are threatening "to grind the government to a halt". Really, are they? All eight of them? Gosh, that's impressive. And I see we're back to the tactic of using Nicola Sturgeon as some sort of tartan menace with which to frighten English voters. De-fucking-lightful.

And who to vote for? On the one hand, I couldn't agree more that Labour is fucked until they figure out how to win seats in Scotland again, on the other hand I don't want to do anything that makes them think I endorse Corbyn's continued leadership. You know, I was fucking delighted when Corbyn won the party leadership the first time, but it hasn't worked; the horse is dead, stop whipping it. I wasn't wild about Owen Smith either (oh, Angela Eagle, we hardly knew ye) but at least he wasn't Corbyn.

I kind of understand the thinking of the Corbyn wing of the party, that the message is more important than the messanger. But not when the messenger is Jeremy Corbyn. He's one of those politicians where I agree with absolutely everything he says, right up until he says it. Look at that thing where he sat on the floor of that train; even if you're not in favour of renationalising the railways, the people receptive to the argument that the trains are overcrowded, overpriced, and badly run should be you, me, and everyone who's been on a peak time train since 1994. But his stunt was so poorly stage managed that it almost made you want to side with Virgin Trains.

Maybe a sufficiently bad drubbing will finally convince Corbyn to give up the ghost, but the questions then become, 1) will there be any public services left to defend come 2022, and 2) who would replace him? Especially now that we seem to have decided that anyone who voted for the Iraq War (who are 95% of those qualified), regardless of their current position on it, is a non-starter. But if we've taken nothing else from the US elections, surely we should take the lesson that there's little point being progressive if you can't get elected and actually make progress; your moral purity might keep you warm at night, but it does fuck all for anyone else.

I used to like the Lib-Dems. And, honestly, I thought they got unfairly pilloried for the coalition with Tories. A wee bit of pillorying was certainly called for, but wiping them out and returning the Tories with a majority seemed like cutting off your nose to spite your face; and everything the Tories have done in that last two years kind of lends credence to the Lib Dem story that they were hanging on to the good side of history with their fingertips. I do like that they are an unapologetically pro EU party, but I am iffy on Farron and his prevaricating on issues like abortion and gay rights. I think to vote for them I'd have to be willing to put brexit above all else, and I'm not there.

There's also the fact that I'm apparently a Scottish Nationalist now. I wasn't always. Even during the last referendum my attitude was one of, eh, I'll be fine if it happens, but either way is cool. It wasn't even brexit that made me a full on convert to the cause of independence, although that was the start of it. It was a few weeks ago during all that posturing in the direction of Spain over Gibraltar, when I finally went: I can't take any more of this government by Daily Mail, it's embarrassing, I just want to go.

The SNP have kind of a tough hand to play because they did so well in 2015 that they could win, and handily, but if they fall short of running the table it'll be seen as a loss and a reason that Scotland should just put up and shut up. So, toddle off and vote I shall.

Oh, well, I'll take cold comfort from the hope that the bottom has fallen out of the UKIP vote; most of its base having returned to their natural home in the cold, unfeeling arms of Theresa May's Tories.

Also, um, I have some new people here (also, old people from LJ!) Hi, hello! Here is more about my political leanings than you probably ever wanted to know.

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Books, etc. [Apr. 16th, 2017|11:12 pm]

The Wolf Road - Beth Lewis
Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill
His Bloody Project - Graeme Macrae Burnet
A House Without Windows - Nadia Hashimi
The Mandibles - Lionel Shriver

You know that bit when you were reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road and you thought, you know, I would be enjoying this book a lot more if it featured women and apostrophes?

Um, that may just have been me...

Anyway, The Wolf Road is really good. It's set post-apocalypse (the cold war turned hot) in which a young woman discovers the mysterious man who raised her is a serial killer, and goes on the run pursued by her past, a frontier lawman (law-woman?), and a semi-tame wolf. Along the way she rescues another young woman from dystopian sex-traffickers and discovers the meaning of friendship. So, yeah, this book is pretty much catered exactly for my id, and I really loved it a lot. Also, it's properly punctuated, so that's good too.

I got only Ever Yours as a job lot with Asking For It, like, a year ago, and then didn't read it because Asking For It fucked me up so much. While that one was a contemporary YA about the aftermath of a gang rape, this one was a dystopia where women (called Eves) are designed from scratch and raised to be either wives or concubines. It's like the world's most horrifying boarding school story. And as a straight dystopia it doesn't quite work, there are too many holes in it; the idea that female infanticide would reach such levels that women would simply stop conceiving female children is not how biology works, especially not over the course of a generation or three. But as a parable about how society treats teenage girls, and encourages them to treat themselves, it really does work.

So, yeah, whatever it loses for ill-thought out worldbuilding, it more than makes up in will-fuck-you-up-ness.

His Bloody Project is about a murder in a 19th century Highland crofting community, and if you like faux discovered historical documents and unreliable narrators this might just be for you.

A House Without Windows is set in Afghanistan, about a woman accused of the murder of her husband and the Afghan-American lawyer fighting to free her. And that plot was fine, but much more compelling to me were the scenes set inside the women's prison, where more than half the women were locked up for 'morality' crimes, and some of them had been turned in by their own families to keep them safe from so called honour killings. I really must find a book about that to read.

I read The Mandibles and holy mixed feelings, Batman! The first three quarters of it I really liked; it was set in 2029 and all about the catastrophic implosion of the US economy. Economic dystopias are fast becoming my favourites; I think because the best ones speak to what we're afraid of, and while I'm not afraid of nuclear winter, I am afraid of having to work till I'm almost ninety caring for people only a little older than myself.

But then the last hundred pages skipped another ten years into the future after there had been a partial recovery, and holy mackerel, did I change my tune. The problems I had with it were threefold:

-Firstly, I think it's safe to say that Lionel Shriver disagree on basically everything to do with taxation and redistribution of wealth. The part I found most objectionable was the idea that caring for the elderly and vulnerable is only worthwhile if it's on an individual charitable basis, and society wide safety nets are what's going to doom us all. Oh, fuck off.

-Secondly, Shriver's obvious self-insert character, who had been fun up to that point, saved the day and lived to one hundred and three. Ugh.

-And thirdly, in the flash forward people have to have a chip implanted under their skin to use like a credit card; and there's a really gross and overwrought comparison between that procedure and sexual assault. And, like, that's one of my hard no's in fiction. You know what's like being raped? Being raped, and literally nothing else. I'm not saying that other experiences can't be as bad or even worse, I'm just saying that those experiences should find their own word.

So, yeah, Lionel Shriver? Start and stop at We Need to Talk About Kevin.

As for what I'm going to read next... my TBR is looking a little listless. Anyone read any good books lately?

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telly [Apr. 8th, 2017|10:31 pm]
It was the first really lovely day of the year where I've been off, so I decided to take the dog and go properly hiking for the first time since last autumn. And, eesh, I'm wrecked. That diet of sad cakes and scotch I've been on since early November (...for some reason) has not been good for me. At least I'm not alone; the dog is pooped too, and probably one opposable thumb away from calling the RSPCA to report me for cruelty to excessively lazy dogs.

Anyway, now that I've proved my point that I do sometimes go outside and get some fresh air, honest, lets talk about telly.

Doctor Who starts next Saturday and, eh. I've mostly enjoyed Capaldi's run, and I really liked Twelve and Clara together, but I kind of wish I'd properly bowed out when Clara got to run off in a TARDIS of her own. I was unimpressed with the last couple of specials, even by the standards of Christmas specials. Also those seasons where the current Doctor has a run of episodes with his successor's companion, so that we're not replacing two beloved characters at once, are rarely among the show's best work. Exhibit A: Eleven and Clara, which accomplished little more than making me hate Eleven, and giving Clara a lot of work to do to redeem herself as a character. But I do wish, for when they start talking about the show's ratings, because they always do, that there was a wee form letter that you could send to the BBC:

Dear BBC, I have stopped watching your Saturday evening show, Doctor Who, this is not because you have included a lesbian companion, which I think is awesome, but almost entirely because you have included Matt Lucas as a backdoor companion, which I think is cheating and shite.

Oh, well. Speaking of time travel shows: Legends of Tomorrow finished its second season this week, and I am genuinely shocked by how delightful I've been finding it. It's my favourite show of 2017, easy. If you're like me and you noped out of the pilot because of how silly it was and how seriously it seemed to take itself, I recommend checking back in with season two; it's gotten sillier, and better yet, it knows it. I recommend the episode with the confederate zombies, or the one where the team travels back to an anachronistic Camelot seemingly solely so that the show can make a Lancelot pun out of the fact that their bisexual female protagonist's name is Sara Lance.

I am such a hypocrite about Sara, because I like that she's bisexual, and I love that the show calls her bisexual. But, really, all I want from her is her fuckboy adventures through time kissing historical ladies and single-handedly causing the witch trials by fucking all the girls in Salem. It's part of the reason I'm glad that Captain Cold's not on the team any more, because I thought maybe they were going to do that thing with bi female characters where she can kiss ladies, sure, but only ever have meaningful relationships with dudes; the other reason is that something about Wentworth Miller's delivery as Leonard Snart grated on me for some reason, and it's not that he was chewing the scenery; everyone is, and it's brilliant.

I actually really liked the cast shakeup in S2, and that Rip wasn't in a lot of it; there was something about the casting of Arthur Darvill and the costuming with the long brown coat that was a bit how close to Doctor Who can we go before we're edging onto copyright infringement? Plus, Captain Hunter's enforcement of minimum standards of competency was kind of ruining all the fun. The Legends are at their best when they're both the cause of and the solution to all of time's fuck ups.

I have lots of oh captain, my captain feelings about Sara, and lots of feelings in general about Mick; but mostly I just love everyone in this bar.

I am quite a few episodes behind with Supergirl, and will probably wait till the end of the season to catch up, if I do. Part of the reason I'm thinking of noping out of the show is that I read that they want to make season three even more easily crossed over with the rest of the Arrowverse, and I don't watch Arrow or the The Flash, I don't want to watch them, and I kind of resent the feeling that she showrunners are trying to foist all of them onto me as a job lot. The other reason is, yes, there have been things I've liked about season two...

Alex's coming out story, and everything about her relationship with Maggie, has been perfect; I really appreciated that they did a coming out story with a (relatively, I suppose) older character, when they could quite easily have said that Alex was always gay and it just wasn't mentioned n S1. Winn, also, is delightful.

But the pacing has been iffy to say the least; and I'm, er, not sold on the Kara/Mon-El romance. It's irksome because Mon-El is a perfectly charming tertiary character, and whenever he's not being written as a love interest he's funny and lovely, and if their relationship had been written with that humour and lightness of touch I would have been fine with it. But their romance is stilted and awkward and written with a weirdly heavy hand. I don't know if they're going for some sort of star crossed Romeo and Juliet thing, but what's coming across is the network is making us do this; it doesn't help that Chris Wood is one of the most CW looking actors I have ever seen; it's the jaw line.

And while I'm not enjoying the relationship, I'm also not enjoying the fandom hate of it. There's been a lot of trying to match their scenes up against those 'how to know if you're in an abusive relationship' checklists thing that people do. And sometimes those people are making valid points, and a lot of the time it's like they're trying to score points in some never ending fandom slugfest that no one's ever going to win.

It's my least favourite part of tumblr fandom; you can't just not like a show, ship, or character; you have to armchair psychiatrist why no one else should like it either.

On a happier note, I am watching Grace & Frankie, and wish to know why no one told me how delightful it is? I am going to ration the third season because I'm hoping it will see me through until Brooklyn Nine-Nine comes back from the war. Does anyone know when that's going to be?

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Books [Mar. 29th, 2017|12:53 pm]

I know it's been yonks since my last reading post, but in my defence The Wall of Storms is, like, nine hundred pages long.

The Rogue Not Taken - Sarah MacLean
The Wall of Storms - Ken Liu
We Go Around in the Night and Are Consumed by Fire - Jules Grant
The Secret History of the Mongol Queens - Jack Weatherford
Certain Dark Things - Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Sarah MacLean's historical romances are hit and miss for me, and The Rogue Not Taken was definitely a miss. The first time I read that her new series was going to be a sort of Kardashians Regency AU (the heroines are all scandalous sisters whose first initial is S) I went '...eh, I'm not sure that's going to work', and at least in this one, it didn't. It features one of those irksome couples who insist on not communicating for two hundred pages, because if they actually talked to each other the book would only be twelve pages long. The heroine is upset about being rich and titled, and just wants to run a small bookshop in the Cumbrian countryside, which I think is meant to be relatable but was just insufferable. The Hero is named King (King, for God's sake) you have to have a certain sort of charm and gravitas to pull off a name like King, and this dude did not have it in spades. Give it a pass, I'd say.

The Wall of Storms is the follow up to The Way of Kings which I'd read when it first came out and had only been 'eh' on. I'd really loved the prose and silkpunk worldbuilding, but I'd had pretty big issues with its handling of female characters, which had been, um, tokenistic. I feel like whatever criticism of The Way of Kings' female characters there was, Liu really took it to heart, because The Wall of Stoms is orders of magnitude better on that front. There is a running subplot about the emperor trying to arrange the pieces on the board to enable him to name his daughter his heir; one of the pov characters is a young female scholar and it shows the institutional hurdles she faces even though the emperor has said, 'sure, women can sit the palace examinations.' Plus, a little more than half the way through vikings attack on vegetarian dragons, so that's cool. I mean, it's long and pretty dense, but I'd rate it as one of the better epic fantasies on the go at the moment.

We Go Around in the Night and Are Consumed by Fire is about lesbian gangsters in Manchester, and is a hell of a fun read, about friendship and revenge and being irresistible to most of the women in the north of England. Okay, there are some stylistic choices that I didn't necessarily grok; it's a very tight first person, and why do you hate speech marks so much, Jules Grant? But it's about lesbian gangsters, so I'm willing to overlook that stuff.

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens is my favourite sort of history; the secret history of women. It's about the female descendants of Genghis Kahn, at least the ones who survived being excised from the historical record. I particularly enjoyed reading about Queen Manduhai, who took her boy husband to war in a box, and despite this ignominious beginning they seemed to have a long and happy marriage. More broadly, it was another illustration of the journey of women through history being one of one step forward, half a dozen steps back.

I finished Certain Dark Things last night after staying up past my bedtime because I was enjoying it that much. It's the first vampire book I've read in forever where my reaction wasn't 'ugh, bored.' I think maybe the only genre harder to make feel fresh is zombies? It's set in an AU version of Mexico City in a world where various species of vampires were discovered by humanity in the late sixties. A seventeen year old trash picker falls in with an Aztec vampire on the run (the native species of Mexican vampires trace their lineage back to the Aztecs, but they're being pushed out by an invasive species of European vampires.) The friendship, turned romance is actually very sweet. It helps that the boy is the human and the girl the vampire rather than the usual other way round, and that the age difference is seventeen to twenty-three, which, yeah, is significant, but it's not seventeen to three hundred. Also, there's a genetically engineered doberman, and it's just really good. Highly recommended.

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