Florence’s Year of Fun Reads

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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Florence’s Year of Fun Reads

tammikuu 1, 3:41 pm

2022 was not a good year for me, and 2023 won't be much better, so my reading plan for the year is, whatever makes me feel good. And the first book I finished fits the bill nicely. Better Homes And Haunting is a classic romance with a ghost story in it, which is not what I expected. I read it to get a taste of Molly Harper's writing and see if I might want to try her urban fantasy stories. Verdict: I certainly will.

By classic romance, I mean it has all the mandatory elements: unhappy billionaire, hard-working simple girl, sophisticated bitch, it's the standard package, plus a bonus obnoxious ex-partner. And of course ghosts. But the writing is fun, and the characters are nicely drawn. I enjoyed it.

tammikuu 1, 4:00 pm

errrr Happier-than-you-now-expect new year, Florence!

Romance ain't my cup of tea but I like that title, Better Homes and Haunting.

tammikuu 1, 6:18 pm

I hope 2023 is a better year, Florence. As I was reading your post, I was wondering if you have read A Bloodsmoor Romance by Joyce Carol Oates. I read it this month on the recommendation of a friend. It's a parody, and a tribute, to the American gothic romance. There are hopeless love affairs, damsels in distress, ghosts, the paranormal, dastardly villians, etc, but it's Oates, so there is an edge to it: women dressed as men rescuing damsels, kinky sex, and dark humor. Although long, and not my usual fare, I found it an absolute page turner.

tammikuu 2, 4:06 am

>2 LolaWalser: Thanks! Yes, I liked the title too and all her titles are like that. The next one on my wishlist is Where the Wild Things Bite.

>3 labfs39: Thanks. That books sounds interesting, I’ll have a look.

tammikuu 2, 7:08 am

>3 labfs39: Your description of A Bloodsmoor Romance makes me want to read it immediately Lisa. It's been on my shelf for 30 years (or more) and I haven't gotten to it even though Oates is a favorite.

tammikuu 2, 3:33 pm

>5 arubabookwoman: It took Lois/avaland sending me a copy to get me to finally read something by JCO.

tammikuu 3, 6:23 am

Welcome back, Florence! I hope that 2023 turns out to be a better year for you.

tammikuu 3, 6:34 am

I hope your reading does indeed make you feel good this year, Florence. Last year was a difficult one for me too, and reading really helped me.

tammikuu 3, 1:25 pm

I wish you the best possible year, and hope reading provides some rest and recharge. It's nice to see you here again. Cheers Flo.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 8, 3:14 pm

Thanks kidzdoc, rachbx and dchaikin for the welcome!

Damaged Control by Viola Grace
I feel a bit ashamed for continuing to enjoy her books. I don't like how her heroins seem to completely lack agency and accept that placidly. I do like her multi-husband marriages, but this wasn't one of those. Still an enjoyable quick read.

Ocean's Echo by Everina Maxwell
Loved this one. Lots of pathos but I seem to be partial to that, as long as it ends well.

Where The Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper
OK, I think I am now officially a Molly Harper fan. I'll go back to the beginning of the series and start with Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs. Lovable and very believable characters, great humour. The beginning made me laugh out loud several times.

tammikuu 8, 3:01 pm

You've been busy. Seems there is only one copy of damaged control in LT (but a zillion titles by Grace)

tammikuu 8, 3:13 pm

>11 dchaikin: LOL, she writes so many, it’s possible that some of them are only read by one person. Well in that case that would be two at least, including me.

tammikuu 8, 3:20 pm

Hoping you find lots of feel good reads this year.

tammikuu 14, 2:24 pm

Wild Rain by Christine Feehan. Book 1 of the Leopard series, I think.
Feehan's books are a big heap of gender stereotypes. Men are big (yeah, like you think), hard (likewise), possessive, protective, dangerous, always on the verge of extreme violence, and beautiful, but, you know, in a masculine way.
Women are soft, courageous, loving, and beautiful in the eye of their man. Now that I've started to write this, I find that I have a lot less to say about her women, because they are more diverse than the men, there aren't as many characteristics that could apply to all of them.

And then don't get me started on the new age bullshit.

But hey, I enjoy her books anyway. One more on the huge pile of shameful reads.

tammikuu 14, 6:25 pm

tammikuu 16, 4:47 pm

Werewolves Of London by Angie Fox
This is the last book of the Monster MASH trilogy, set in a MASH (Mobil Army Surgical Hospital, I just looked it up) in a war between gods. Lots of fun, werewolves, vampires, sphinxes, gorgons, plenty of gods, and prophecy coverage on PNN (Paranormal News Network). And of course, romance! I will certainly read more by this author.

tammikuu 17, 8:25 am

>16 FlorenceArt: Don't know anything about the book, and even though there is no connection, now I will have Warren Zevon as an earworm all day.

tammikuu 17, 9:57 am

Oops, sorry! Didn’t know about that song :-)

tammikuu 24, 2:34 pm

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs
Molly Harper

As planned, I went back to the beginning of the series. This first episode was maybe a bit weaker than the one I started with, though maybe it was just because I expected it. The romance part didn't feel very convincing, but the rest was fun. I look forward to the rest of the series.

tammikuu 24, 2:44 pm

Magic Tides
Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels Wilmington Years 1

I loved the Kate Daniels series so much I re-read the whole thing, but this sequel isn't as gripping. Or is it because I grew tired of the series's overly dramatic tone? The books I've been reading lately have a lot more humor in them, and I've grown to appreciate that. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed this novella but not as much as I was hoping to.

tammikuu 28, 9:46 am

How To Date Your Dragon
Molly Harper

A bit disappointed. Not as much fun as the Half-Moon Hollow books.

tammikuu 28, 9:58 am

Since last year I have started watching TV series again after a very long interruption. Mostly Star Trek, although I did watch and enjoy The Orville. Lately I'm mostly watching Voyager (first season), as I've had difficulties with Next Generation Season 4 (too much pathos and the dramatic music is annoying) and Deep Space Nine season 3 (I don't know, all the latest episodes just felt boring). Oh, and I finally decided to watch Babylon 5, so I bought the first season on Apple TV.

Last week I visited my mother, and as usual she asked me what I was watching, so I mentioned Star Trek. She expressed curiosity so I showed her the original series. Now she is hooked! In the week I was there, she watched about 20 episodes (some of them twice because there was a mix-up with her Netflix profile, and she didn't remember watching them anyway). If I'd known she would enjoy it so much, I would have introduced her to the series earlier.

tammikuu 28, 1:42 pm

>22 FlorenceArt: Oh, Babylon 5 is so much fun. The last couple seasons are a little off because of the show's production issues, but even there you've got those marvelous characters and actors, more than making up for the occasional story glitches.

tammikuu 28, 2:07 pm

>22 FlorenceArt:

Love the story about your mum! Mine can't abide sf, alas.

I'm too currently (slowly) watching Voyager and Babylon 5, both season 3. I've never seen Deep Space Nine and don't have it as I can't decide what are the chances I'd like it, based on people's reactions. I've seen it lauded for its "spirituality", which makes me shiver. But a few other people say it's the best Star Trek...

And the library is holding Picard season 2 and Discovery season 4 for me--I love the new Treks, especially Discovery.

tammikuu 28, 4:02 pm

>23 KeithChaffee: Thanks, good to know!

>24 LolaWalser: I don't have access to the new treks right now, but DS9 is my favorite from the old three I know best. Still suspending judgment on Voyager as I'm only at the beginning of S1.

For me the main difference between DS9 and the rest (that I have seen) is the political element. And I see religion mostly as a part of the political element. The moral implications of war, occupation and resistance, then reconstruction (and the necessity for some kind of reconciliation) are often explored. Spirituality, yes, there is that, but so far in the episodes I've seen it's only a hint of some distant higher beings, and some prophecies. So not too bothered by it for the moment.

tammikuu 28, 6:39 pm

That's a strong another vote in favour of DS9. Now I'm kicking myself for not getting it in the Xmas sale--but I'm still waiting for the Colin Baker Doctor Who first season to come down (*almost but not quite appalled at what a sad geek she sounds...*)

I've seen Voyager before and I reckon it's my absolute fave Trek. The first couple seasons may take some patience but it only becomes better IMO (unlike, say, New Gen). The holographic doctor has the best arc ever.

tammikuu 29, 12:55 am

Glad to know you loved Voyager. I have to admit that the captain’s hairstyle threw me off the first time, but yes, I love the holographic doctor. I’ll keep watching.

tammikuu 29, 2:27 am

To me a major difference between Babylon 5 and all the Star Treks is that with B5 there is rock and roll in the future. Star trek lacks that. DS9 is my favorite because it’s the grittiest. And Sisko is my favorite captain. Voyager pissed me off from the start because the first time a woman gets the keys to the space ship, she gets lost. And with ds9 - the black guy doesn’t even get a craft - he gets a space station that doesn’t go anywhere.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 3:33 am

Agree on Sisko. And LOL about the woman captain getting lost!

Listening to the original Star Trek dialogues while my mother was watching, I realized how sexist they were.

tammikuu 29, 12:26 pm

I get the joke, but in case newbies are around: Voyager was kidnapped by a mysterious space entity and hurled into the delta quadrant, projecting a 75-year trip back home. They were never lost, just very far away.

how sexist they were

This is why I saw TOS only last year! The one time I tried watching before I just couldn't go through it.

What about Blakes 7 and Space: 1999? I like them both better than Trek and B5, and the latter in particular I'm very sentimental about as I fell in love with it when I was six.

tammikuu 29, 12:47 pm

I don’t know anything about Blake’s 7 although the name rings a bell. I remember catching glimpses of Space 1999 when one of my sisters was watching it, but I never got interested. I thought the costumes and sets looked a bit ridiculous, though no doubt no more so than Trek’s, but I was older when I discovered ST and felt more drawn to kitsch.

tammikuu 29, 1:00 pm

>31 FlorenceArt:

Ha, kitsch abounds in both B7 and the second season of Space: 1999 in particular! If you should get a chance to see B7, do try to remain completely unspoiled because it has an epic ending. I think you'd enjoy B7 immensely, in particular Paul Darrow's character, Avon. :)

Space: 1999 had the misfortune of losing funding and changing producers after the first season. The first season is probably the best, most mature and "realistic" (in parts) visual sf ever. It also has great styling in sets and costumes. The idea of the whole Moon travelling through space probably wasn't the best choice, but it's certainly original.

The second season was a diminishment in every way except for the addition of Catherine Schell as a shape-shifting babe. But it's no worse than TOS for sure.

tammikuu 29, 1:50 pm

More stuff to watch! Thanks, I’ll see if I can give them a try.

tammikuu 29, 1:54 pm

And some stuff to listen to (in French): the latest episode of the Méta de Choc podcast is a conference on the blurry frontier between science and pseudoscience. I've been following her for some time so I know by now what she has to say about this, but it remains interesting.


tammikuu 29, 3:42 pm

Southern Spirits
Angie Fow
Southern Ghost Hunter mysteries 1

OK, but not as good as the MASH series.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 7:27 am

Between fantasy romance books, I've been reading short stories from Some of the Best From tor.com 2021. I took notes on each story but I haven't posted them so far, but since it's taking some time I think I will post on each story as I progress through the book.

The table of content and all the stories are available here for free:

The two stories I read this year are:

#Spring Love, #Pichal Pairi By Ulsan T. Malik
A pichal pairi is a supernatural creature who can be recognized by her backward pointing feet. She tends to waylaid men and eat them. Delicately written, moving story. I liked.

Let All The Children Boogie by Sam J. Miller
Something funny happened while reading this short story. I had to stop at the first paragraph and play the song that was mentioned (The Passenger by Iggy Pop). The story is set in 1991, which was during the period I was actually interested in music, and most of my musical tastes were formed then. I ended up listening to all the songs (5 or 6 of them), and I already knew most of them. I think I will save them in a playlist. The story itself was beautiful.

I've been reading them in order, so I read 10 last year. Of course there's good stuff and bad stuff, as is to be expected in this kind of collection I guess. The one that I loved most was Questions Asked In The Belly of the World by A. T. Greenblatt.

Others that I liked:
The Lay of Lilyfinger by G. V. Anderson
The Red Mother by Elizabeth Bear
Blood in the Thread by Cheri Kamei

tammikuu 30, 11:05 am

>22 FlorenceArt: I love all the SF TV discussion that came from this post!

I have to say, even as a Star Trek fan from way back (which is to say, I grew up with reruns of the original series, back when the original Trek was the only Trek), I soured on Voyager pretty quickly and basically gave up on it after a couple of seasons. I've had people try to convince me that I was too harsh on it back then, which they may well be right about, and that I should give it another try now, with the benefit of an extra couple of decades' worth of perspective. I think I've got too big of a mental block against it, though.

I loved DS9, and as a raging atheist myself, I actually quite liked the way they dealt seriously with religion and its complicated role in societies, overall.

It's always nice to see someone else who's enjoyed The Orville, by the way! I think that's a show that really deserves a much wider audience (although I can totally understand why people might bounce off the earlier episodes). It also deserves a season 4! I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

Also, I second the recommendation for Blake's 7. It's a classic show, one that was ahead of its time in a lot of ways (although less so in others, like, um, the special effects), and one that's been relatively unknown in the US for far too long. It's a really fascinating mix of dark and campy, and the characters are fantastic. Watching it unspoiled is a great idea, but I can testify first hand that even if someone flat-out tells you the ending, it can still manage to come as a shock!

tammikuu 30, 1:16 pm

>37 bragan:

"I loved DS9, and as a raging atheist myself, I actually quite liked the way they dealt seriously with religion and its complicated role in societies, overall."
I absolutely agree with the above statement.

There is a season 3 of The Orville? I only found 2 on Disney + France.

Noting your recommendation on Blake 7. It’s not available on the streaming platforms I subscribe to, but maybe I can buy it on Apple TV.

tammikuu 30, 1:42 pm

Vita Nostra
Marina & Sergueï Diatchenko

I read this because I was intrigued by Betty's review (bragan), if I remember correctly. She concluded the review by saying that she didn't know what to think about it, again if I remember correctly. Well, I can say the same. The end left me rather frustrated and confused. I did enjoy the read, even though it took me ages to finish, just because I kept interrupting it to read other, lighter stuff. Also I read the French translation, which was a nice change from all the English language books I'm reading lately. And the translation was actually pretty decent.

A very strange book, I'm glad I read it and glad it's finally finished.

tammikuu 30, 3:37 pm

>38 FlorenceArt: There is a season 3! I think it should be available on Disney+. I know it is in the US, although I seem to remember hearing that there was a brief period when only the first two seasons where up. Hopefully that's the case there, as well, and you have the chance to watch it, because season 3 is fantastic. Legitimately some of the best science fiction television I've ever seen.

>39 FlorenceArt: I definitely also found Vita Nostra confusing and weird and hard to know what to make of, but I mostly settled into being intrigued and willing to go along for the ride instead of getting too frustrated by it all. I do think if I'd read it in a different mood it might have gone the other way, but either way it's definitely an interesting experience.

tammikuu 30, 3:48 pm

>40 bragan: Yes, definitely! It’s only the ending that got me frustrated, although I don’t know what I was expecting.

tammikuu 30, 8:46 pm

Sheesh, this is a dangerous thread - two ABs (author bullets) in under 20 posts! I've collected some Angie Fox and Molly Harper to try.

If (as it seems) you enjoy paranormal comedy romance, you should check out RJ Blain (who also writes as Susan Copperfield, Bernadette Franklin (lots of comedy romance but no paranormal in these) and Audrey Greene).

I was thoroughly hooked on Star Trek TOS in the 70s, and never quite clicked with the others. I like TNG, but don't love it, and found DS9 and Voyager annoying (the former, possibly, because every time I watched it I got a Quark episode!). I haven't gotten into any of the new ones.

tammikuu 30, 10:21 pm

{noooooooooo don't tell her the ending...}

Florence will rue the day she allowed Star Trek talk in her thread. :)

>39 FlorenceArt:

Intrigued. I think I've liked what contemporary Russian fantasy I've read, but there wasn't much--Viktor Pelevin, that guy of the Nightwatch (one book only), and something I can't begin to recall but was good. Female author, maybe "fantastic" in the title, maybe "Moscow" too...

Oh my I turned into people looking for the blue book.

tammikuu 30, 11:38 pm

>43 LolaWalser: Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale? There's a sequel, too. More Russian fairy tale than Russian fantasy, maybe...but good.

tammikuu 31, 2:48 am

>42 jjmcgaffey: Yeah, Quark is not the most lovable character in DS9. I tend to skip his episodes.

I'm afraid R.J. Blain is not for me. I read the Fox Witch books, and although I loved the story, her writing is so boring that I gave up toward the end of book 2. Which is not as dumb as it sounds since the end of the book was very obviously not the end of the story. I thought book 3 was available but apparently it's still forthcoming. Anyway, not for me unfortunately.

tammikuu 31, 6:14 am

I liked the Fox Witch books...but I love some of her others. You might try Shadowed Flame or a Bernadette Franklin book. But then, there are so many books...no need to keep trying someone that doesn't work for you.

tammikuu 31, 8:13 pm

>44 jjmcgaffey:

No, I didn't, it's actually very rare for me to read fantasy.

But I did ferret out the book I read!--it was The secret history of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia. Don't remember the plot at all, but I know I loved the fairy tale beings mixing with humans.

tammikuu 31, 9:26 pm

>47 LolaWalser: I actually have that book, though I haven't read it yet.

tammikuu 31, 10:03 pm

>48 labfs39:

I gave it to a friend after reading (another sign I liked it), so can't consult it at the moment, but if you're a habitual reader of fantasy genre, you may want to hear other opinions--I tend to be easily delighted by stuff new to me.

helmikuu 1, 1:50 am

>47 LolaWalser: Sounds interesting! I looked for a French translation but it’s translated from English. I thought she was Russian but maybe not. In any case, the only book in French I found was L’alchimie de la pierre, which seems to be her most well known work. And both The Alchemy of Stone and The Secret History of Moscow are available on KoboPlus, so I added the latter to have a closer look.

helmikuu 1, 11:23 pm

>50 FlorenceArt:

I think she's an adult immigrant; at least, bilingual for sure. That other title looks good and seems to be liked better. Noting.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 3, 9:09 am

In The Atlantic:
AI Is About to Dump More Work on Everyone

"New technologies meant to free people from the burden of work have added new types of work to do instead."

I've seen this happen throughout my professional life, and I have no doubt whatsoever that this prediction will prove true.

ETA: oops, didn’t realize this is behind a paywall. I access the Atlantic’s article through their RSS feed which, strangely enough, gives access to the full text. But I should probably subscribe. I have found that their articles, when I remember to read them, are usually very thoughtful. Or maybe they just confirm opinions I already hold, in which case maybe they are not so useful for me.

helmikuu 5, 12:57 pm

Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men and Nice Girls Don't Live Forever by Molly Harper.
Continuing the Half Moon Hollow series and still having fun. One thing that sets this series apart is that her vampires basically have the same kind of problems normal people have in their family and work lives. I mean in addition to having to drink blood and living at night. Sometimes it annoys me a little, as after all I am reading this to escape those exact same problems, but then she describes them with so much humor, I guess it's OK.

helmikuu 6, 11:31 am

In the wake of that time when I decided to form an opinion on the purported dangers of trans ideology (and found out there was a LOT more danger in anti-trans ideology), I'm still following a couple of trans people, namely Julia Serano and Jessie Gender. Sometimes it feels a bit repetitive since they are mostly repeating the arguments that won me over in the first place, but it would feel like a bit of a betrayal to stop following, so ;-)

This one has a new, for me, argument that I find very convincing, on the source of two weird and completely unfounded claims of anti-trans activists, and more interesting info: Anti-Trans “Grooming” and “Social Contagion” Claims Explained.

helmikuu 6, 12:42 pm

>54 FlorenceArt: Thanks for sharing that article. Interesting.

helmikuu 6, 12:48 pm

And the above led to this one, which is downright scary.

How the far-right is turning feminists into fascists

helmikuu 6, 2:20 pm

That's such a bad-faith, maliciously click-baity title, I can't even, as the kids say. Any "feminist" that turns fascist can't have been all that feminist to begin with.

And as usual, after insulting a vast movement involving millions of people over several centuries, it turns out they are talking about a tiny minority within a minority.

I won't go here into the undue damage that careless use of terms TERF and "terfism" is doing to the legacy of radical feminism. If interested, I posted recently an article from the New York Review of Books that shows how radical feminism and transgender rights are in fact intertwined, not antagonistic (in historical record, practice, and theory):


helmikuu 6, 2:22 pm

Last one for now on this subject (I think): Judith Butler's excellent take.

Why is the idea of ‘gender’ provoking backlash the world over?

helmikuu 6, 3:31 pm

>57 LolaWalser: I hadn't noticed, you're right about the title. But as you noted, it doesn't really reflect the article. This isn't about giving a bad name to feminism. It's about the rise of fascism, and it's ability to subvert and reuse, among other things, left wing themes, while playing on the fears of frustrations of those who feel they are losing their right place in the world.

helmikuu 9, 2:43 pm

>59 FlorenceArt:

Heh, I fear getting on a hobbyhorse, but there is more to it than that. A simple reality check ought to suffice to tell anyone who is it that runs the greatest danger of extremist radicalisation. It's NOT the feminists, and it's not women generally. Articles like these (I wouldn't forgive that title to any publication) feed into general misogyny. So women become symbols of phenomena in which they certainly take part, but by no means the major or even a significant part. The white racist becomes "Karen", regardless of the fact that white women vote progressive significantly more often than white men (this is true globally, and also regardless of race) and that it's men, not women, who commit worst racist violence. The transphobe is routinely represented by a female figure, a "TERF" or JK Rowling, regardless of the fact that, again, women are statistically more positive toward transgender issue than men are. Has there been a murder of a transgender person committed by a woman? And yet hundreds if not thousands have been murdered by men.

And now, seriously, I'm supposed to worry about "feminists" (again, read "women") turning into fascists, while femicides and all sorts of misogynistic violence are not just happening all over but on the rise? It's beyond ridiculous.

Sorry about the rant! But I live in a city that has registered three major misogynistic massacres in the last six years, that was home not only to the bastard incel-guru making millions off misogyny but to a whole network of womanhating "manosphere" agents, in a country that has suffered one of the worst and earliest officially recognised (almost three decades after it happened) misogynistic massacres in history:


Most to the point, we know the danger of extreme radicalisation into fascism threatens boys and young men directly, with tens of thousands (conservatively) and likely millions being groomed and/or avidly absorbing misogynistic material as we speak.

helmikuu 11, 12:30 pm

The Skeleton In The Closet
Angie Fox
Southern Ghost Hunter 2

Nothing much to say about that one. Like the first, it has its moments but it's not great.

helmikuu 11, 12:35 pm

The Hob And Hound Pub
Seana Kelly
Sam Quinn 4

I was a bit nervous about this one, because Sam and Clive got married in the previous book, so I was wondering how the series would evolve after that. And I was very nervous about the honeymoon in Paris. Turns out that Kelly actually took the time to do some research, so for once Paris doesn't look like a random American city with an Eiffel Tower in it. I am profoundly grateful. Besides, the visit to the Louvre was a hoot. I'm warming up to this series.

helmikuu 12, 6:59 am

One Giant Red Flag, Folded Into A Book

It took me a while to read this long article, in small increments on my phone at breakfast and dinner. I considered abandoning it, but I was too fascinated not to finish it. In fact I stored another article by author William Gillis for further reading.

I don't remember how I stumbled upon this article, but I do remember seeing a mention of the book it's about, Conflict Is Not Abuse, not long before that, so it seemed interesting to read a serious critique. It didn't take long for me to get the gist of what is horribly wrong with that book, but that's not what kept me reading.

I didn't realize at first that the article was hosted on an anarchist website, and this is what I found so fascinating. I believe this is the first time I've ever come in contact with anarchist writing, so of course I can't tell if this author is representative of anarchism in general, but as I've already mentioned at least twice, I found his ideas fascinating. Because they are new to me, and who doesn't want to read about new ideas? Because Gillis seems to reject just as violently the right and left narratives that are dominant in the US today. And also because he sheds light on what abuse is, how it works and how survivors can fight back.

To be honest, the idea of a stateless society rather scares me, but I think I'd like to know more about how anarchists, or at least this author, envision this. I have a lot of objections and I'm sure he has a lot of answers. I don't know if I will agree with any of them, but I'm still interested.

And so I'm going to follow up with this article, from the same author and website:

Antifa Activists As The Truest Defenders Of Free Speech

helmikuu 12, 7:57 am

>63 FlorenceArt: Because they are new to me, and who doesn't want to read about new ideas?

Kudo to you for seeking out and engaging with new ideas on a regular basis. You make me feel like a stick-in-the-mud reader. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on articles like this.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 13, 4:48 pm

Biergarten of the Damned
Seana Kelly
Sam Quinn 5

In which I finally realized that each title of the series is the name of a bar. Still liking the series a lot, but unfortunately that's the last title available.

helmikuu 17, 4:14 pm

Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors
Molly Harper
Half-Moon Hollow 5
Well, that was fun. The wedding is done, and I'm glad that's over with.

helmikuu 18, 1:56 am

This week I saw Sybil at the Théâtre du châtelet. It was my first live show in years. It was worth the discomfort of wearing a mask (my friend and I were probably the only ones in the whole theater) and leaning the whole time to try to see something. This theater is one that was build in the Second Empire, at a time when theaters were made for visitors to be seen rather than the show.

The first part was disappointing, to me at least. My friend liked it. But the main part, the opera Waiting For The Sybil, was great Kentridge. I especially liked the parts where the dancer's shadows were projected on Kentridges's films.


helmikuu 18, 10:26 am

>67 FlorenceArt: I'm going to my first live show in years tomorrow too. The symphony.

helmikuu 18, 10:53 am

>68 labfs39: Good for you! Hope you enjoy.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 19, 2:14 am

I've been working my way through the recommended short stories here. So far I've mostly enjoyed them, but I really loved Evolution of a Breakup, which in fact is only incidentally on the list. It's the second of three shorts on this page, and Alex Brown recommended the third one. All three are good actually, but the second one really stopped me.

On the other hand, I didn't find How to Cook and Eat the Rich funny. I may be a bit sensitive on this subject since someone on Twitter once playfully proposed to come and eat me.

helmikuu 19, 11:14 am

>67 FlorenceArt: That looks like a great production, Florence! I wish that I could have seen it.

helmikuu 19, 11:50 am

>71 kidzdoc: Yes, it was great ! I hope you’ll get a chance to see it, or anything by William Kentridge really, I’ve seen two exhibitions and two shows and they were all great.

helmikuu 21, 2:04 pm

You Slay me
Katie Macalister
Aisling Grey, guardian, 1

I wanted to revisit this book that I read some time ago. It was as much fun as I remembered, including her wonky made-up Paris street names. Her French is hit and miss, and normally that would annoy me, but here it's so obviously made in good fun that I don't mind too much. (Although, for the record I'd like to state that buildings in Paris do not have outside fire escapes.) (And some day, someone will have to enlighten me about that Gallic shrug that apparently is so typical.)

Anyway I enjoyed this, but it turns out that I did remember most of the plot, and funny and lovable as the cast may be, I'm not sure I want to reread the 6 books I read last time in order to continue the series where I left off. We'll see.

helmikuu 22, 4:56 pm

Very late getting over here. Glad you have returned and I will be popping over to peek at your reading from time to time.

Yes, it was I who sent Lisa The Bloodsmoor Romance, my favorite volume of her "Gothic Quintet. The five books are also my favorite Oates novels generally.

helmikuu 22, 5:45 pm

>73 FlorenceArt: Although, for the record I'd like to state that buildings in Paris do not have outside fire escapes.)

Yes big discussion in my french class on this subject - the french do not have a word for them

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 23, 6:50 am

I finished reading the stories (except the two that were unavailable for free) recommended in Must Read Short Speculative Fiction: January 2023. I liked all the stories except Eat the Rich, but most of all I enjoyed the overall experience. I like the idea of reading short stories online from different sources.

I just subscribed to the Tor newsletter so I'll be notified when they have new stories up.

I have a few collections of short stories under way at the moment, not making very fast progress through them.
Some of the Best of Tor.com 2021
The Long List Anthology Volume 6 (from the Hugo Award)
Best Microfiction 2021
The Tentaculum magazine Issue 1

Plus many more that I have bought or downloaded from my Kobo Plus account and haven't started on.

I wonder if it would be worth having a dedicated thread here on Club Read for short stories and microfiction?

helmikuu 23, 7:54 am

>76 FlorenceArt: I wonder if it would be worth having a dedicated thread here on Club Read for short stories and microfiction?

You might try it and see. The Poetry thread is doing great this year. Graphic Novels started strong last year, but is not as active now.

helmikuu 25, 1:50 am

In all my fantasy romance readings, there are a lot of repeating tropes and conventions. I am always amused at the importance, even near-reverence, given to the penis. However I didn't realize that it had truly magical and nefarious abilities.

Penises, Privilege, and Feminist & LGBTQ+ Purity Politics

Another very interesting analysis by Julia Serano. Maybe I should also buy her latest book, Sexed Up.

helmikuu 25, 4:18 pm

>75 baswood: My Canadian French - English / English - Canadian French gives fire escape as l'échelle de sauvetage - no indication of whether it differentiates indoors from outdoors, but I doubt it

helmikuu 26, 2:58 am

>79 SassyLassy: My first thought was escalier de secours which is wrong (we do have fire escape stairs, but they are inside). I think échelle de secours would work in France French.

maaliskuu 4, 1:52 am

Fire Me Up
Light My Fire
Holy Smokes

Well I did finish re-reading the Aisling Grey series, and immediately moved on to the first in the Silver Dragons one, Playing With Fire, so I guess you could say I'm enjoying it.

The next story in Some of the Best of tor.com 2021 was #Selfcare. OK I guess. The idea of introducing fairies in a critique of today's brand of capitalism is interesting, but the writing is not great (not really bad either) and the naively optimistic ending is not very convincing.

maaliskuu 7, 1:07 pm

Short story: Too Many Yesterdays, Not Enough Tomorrows by N.K. Jemisin
This is a story from the collection Mothership: Tales From Afrofuturism And Beyond. I've had this on my Kobo for a few weeks, and decided to take a break from dragon romance to read from it. I didn't start with the first one but skipped to the one by N.K. Jemisin, because it's a name I've seen mentioned several times here and I was curious. I wish I had read it without expectations, because I don't know what I would have thought of it. Probably that it was a nice enough story, based on an image playfully taken from quantum physics. As it is, I can't help feeling a bit disappointed. I think I have more of her stories on other collections I've been gathering on the Kobo, so I'm not finished with her. Also, maybe short stories are not her best medium and I should try one of her novels. Which I'll probably do at some point.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 10, 1:28 am

Today I learned that my city (Montreuil, a Paris suburb) will host a Syrian poet and philosopher in exile. Or rather his statue, as Abū l-'Alā' al-Ma'arrī died in 1057. This statue is meant as a replacement for the one that was beheaded in 2013. It is in exile in Montreuil until it can go home to Syria.

So this made me curious, especially the poem that is quoted in the link above. Unfortunately I get the impression that he is not an easy to read author, both in terms of availability and readability. French translations are not available in ebook format. There are some English translations on Kobo, but the non-abridged text seems to be a bit arid.

Anyway, here's the quote, unfortunately reported without any info on source:

Foi, incroyance, rumeurs colportées,
Coran, Torah, Évangile
Prescrivant leurs lois …
À toute génération ses mensonges
Que l’on s’empresse de croire et consigner.
Une génération se distinguera-t-elle, un jour,
En suivant la vérité ?
Deux sortes de gens sur la terre :
Ceux qui ont la raison sans religion,
Et ceux qui ont la religion et manquent de raison.
Tous les hommes se hâtent vers la décomposition,
Toutes les religions se valent dans l’égarement.
Si on me demande quelle est ma doctrine,
Elle est claire :
Ne suis-je pas, comme les autres,
Un imbécile ?

maaliskuu 9, 3:07 pm

My mailbox today also contained a tor.com newsletter with the Must Read Short Speculative Fiction list for February. I enjoyed reading those stories last month, so I immediately started at the beginning:

The Books Would Like a Word by Cynthia Gómez. I have to confess I tend to mentally roll my eyes when I hear about books (or stories) about books. But this one was pretty cool, and I think I'll even write down some names for further research.

maaliskuu 10, 1:17 am

>83 FlorenceArt: That's great! (Well, it would be better if the original statue hadn't been decapitated, but you know what I mean...)
The link you gave is dead, BTW.
I know exactly what you mean about availability: I've had al-Ma'arri's L'épître du pardon in my wishlist for a while but getting hold of it is tricky, especially if you don't want to pay through the nose for it. My local library has Les poèmes de l'ascèse though, and used to have Rets d'éternité, translated by Adonis, which I enjoyed very much. It seems to be still in print.

maaliskuu 10, 1:40 am

Oops, sorry, link fixed! https://www.montreuil.fr/inauguration-de-la-statue-syrienne-al-maarri-en-exil-a-...

He does seem like a fascinating character. I had never heard of him. I will check with the library but if they have some of his books they will probably be in high demand now.

maaliskuu 10, 1:51 am

>86 FlorenceArt: Thanks! Fingers crossed for the library...

maaliskuu 10, 2:23 am

>87 Dilara86: no luck at the local library sadly, and even the huge Paris city library has only two copies of Epitre du pardon in the whole network. Il probably not motivated enough to go all the way to the 13th arrondissement to get one.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 10, 3:07 am

maaliskuu 10, 3:07 am

>89 Dilara86: Oh yes! I didn’t see that, thank you!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 11, 1:39 pm

Up In Smoke
Katie MacAlister
Silver Dragons 2

Now I remember why I sort of gave up on this series before. This arc is OK but way below the first one. And if I remember correctly, the following one was also not great. There is another book to go in the Silver Dragon series, and I'll probably read that just to finish the story. But first I'll read a few shorts I think.

Oh, and that short stories thread I was thinking about is here:
Short Stories And Microfiction: A Thread

maaliskuu 11, 10:31 am

I Left My Heart In Skaftafell, by Victor Lavalle
In Mothership: Tales From Afrofuturism And Beyond
I really liked the beginning, but after a while I noticed that the writing was a bit heavy handed. Then about two thirds in I began to think it was too long. And then it went downhill. The last third was pretty bad. What a shame.

maaliskuu 11, 1:39 pm

The Big Dig, by Elif Batuman

In The Passenger: Turkey, a magazine I downloaded in the early days of my Kobo Plus subscription, when I was exploring the catalogue. I read a couple of essays and then it slipped down the pile and I more or less forgot about it. I found it again while looking for short stories. I had added it to my short stories collection but it seems to be mostly essays actually. Like this one.

"Urban planners in Istanbul have a problem: too much history and too many agendas."

Very interesting exploration of the political role of archeology in Turkey, with at its center the construction of the tunnel under the Bosphorus, which kept being stalled by various discoveries, from sunken Byzantine ships to Neolithic footprints.

maaliskuu 14, 2:41 am

I just rediscovered New American Stories in my LT library. I bought it after being swept off my feet by The Age of Wire and String, looking for other works by Ben Marcus, and this is the only one I found. I guess I thought it could be interesting even though it wasn't was I was looking for. Inevitably perhaps, I was rather disappointed. I never got to finish it because I bought it outside of the Kobo shop, and my Kobo reader tends to not play nice with these books. I had to reset the reader several times, and every time it deletes all the books on it, so for non-Kobo books I need to reinstall them and figure out where I left off since that is lost too. I ended up forgetting about this book.

So anyway. I just reinstalled it but I don't know how much of it I read already. Going by the names I recognize, I'd say somewhere between Deborah Eisenberg, which I'm pretty sure I did read, and George Saunders, which I don't think I did. If that's true I'm less than a third in. I'll have to figure out by trial and error.

maaliskuu 14, 8:18 am

And this morning on the subway I read the story after the Eisenberg:
The Deep by Anthony Doerr

I think I probably read it before, but I didn't remember it above a vague impression. I loved it. Very moving and well written, even if it contains octopi as a plural for octopus ;-)

And now I'm wondering if maybe I did read the whole book. I finally found it in the "archived" part of my Kobo library, but I'm not sure if I moved it there myself, and if so did I finish it before? Or was it archived automatically after I finished it? I'm not sure.

maaliskuu 16, 3:55 pm

I must remember the name P. Djèli Clark with a bold red mental note "Don't Bother". I already failed to finish one of his books, and now I'm giving up on his short story How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub, despite the neat title. It's not that it is exceptionally bad. I'm sure that for some plot-oriented readers he will be a read-worthy author. I'll bet this sounded horribly snobbish but I don't mean it that way. I have absolutely nothing against plot-oriented readers, but I'm not one of them. I have a soft spot for romance so I am able to tolerate mediocre writing in that kind of book, but I don't think Clark falls into that category. To me, he's just a boring writer. I'll move on to the next story in the list.

maaliskuu 19, 2:49 am

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
Molly Harper
Half-Moon Hollow series and I've lost track of the number
Much fun, as always!

A Sinister Revenge
Deanna Raybourn
Veronica Speewell 4
Not sure if this series should go on. Or maybe this is just not quite my kind of comfort reading. The tensions between the two protagonists are starting to feel a bit drawn out, and the detective story part was never what interested me. Nevertheless, an enjoyable read.

maaliskuu 19, 8:25 am

On Friday I visited two exhibitions at Beaubourg. It's been a while, between Covid and my laziness I've been reluctant to go out lately. I wasn't expecting much so I wasn't disappointed. Germaine Richier was a happy surprise. I've seen some of her works before, at Beaubourg and maybe elsewhere, but this exhibition was more varied than I expected, and I had never seen her surprising hybrid creatures.

Sayed Haider Raza I had never heard about. Some of his works felt like run of the mill cubist or impressionist stuff to me, which I'm not particularly fond of. But some of his later works, which incorporated more references to his native culture (he came from India), was more interesting to me.

All in all, a satisfying visit.

maaliskuu 19, 8:26 am

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

maaliskuu 20, 8:45 am

The Perfect Prince
Michelle Pillow
Qurilixen Dragon Lords 2

OK, I'm not gonna lie, this one is pretty bad. The author has a shaky grasp of the English language and the plot is completely unbelievable. But, I enjoyed it. It helps that I'm not paying for this, it comes with the Kobo subscription. Also, some kinds of bad writing I can tolerate better than others, and this seems to be one of them :-)

And this morning on the train I had time for two short stories from Some of the best of Tor.com 2021:

The Far Side of the Universe by noc
Not sure what to make of this one. It made me uncomfortable, which was possibly the point.

A Better Way of Saying by Sarah Pinkster
Intriguing idea, but the execution did not work for me. Much, much too wordy.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 24, 10:39 am

A short story from the February list at tor.com:

The Monologue of a Moon Goddess in the Palace of Pervasive Cold by Anja Hendrikse Liu

I wasn't sure what to make of this at first, probably because I'm not familiar with the tradition it refers to. But it grew on me, and after skimming through it a second time I think I like it.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 24, 10:39 am

Husband Number Five by Emily Adrian in Granta Magazine

I didn't think I would like this one at first, but I was wrong, I ended up loving it. The writing is light and humorous and the lovable characters in this not unhappy slice in the life of a dysfunctional family worked for me.

Also, if I had 1€ for every time I read fight or flight in a book, it would in no way make up for the annoyance, but at least I'd have something to show for it.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 25, 5:16 am

Still "working" on my anarchy "research", I found this article (link to PDF):
An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization by Peter Leeson
Journal of Political Economy

A fascinating look into the world of Caribbean pirates, analyzed from an economic point of view. This is a bit dry, after all it's a paper for a scientific journal, but I found it very interesting. The author also has a book on this subject, The Invisible Hook, which I wishlisted but will probably not buy. I'm guessing it will be an expanded version of this article for the general public, but I haven't looked at it so I may be wrong.

Also, it should be noted that the author has an agenda. Much of his research seems to be geared toward proving that anarchy can work. Which is a fascinating subject in itself.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 25, 5:41 pm

That link to the Peter Leeson article looks interesting. I have never thought of pirates as anarchists, but probably capitalists of the worst kind.

maaliskuu 25, 5:15 am

>105 baswood: Hm, never thought of it like that, but if you think that property is theft, then maybe it follows that theft is property?

maaliskuu 25, 5:58 am

Nimona by ND Stevenson

Picked this up after reading AnnieMod's review. I loved it! First time I'm considering buying an e-book I read through my Kobo subscription. I am easily moved by emotional stories these days, and this one worked for me. I also loved the drawings.

maaliskuu 25, 11:39 am

I needed to go out but didn't want to go far, so I settled for the local contemporary art center. The exhibition was highly forgettable, but the walk did me good I guess, and I got to see some writing on the walls.

"Leurs yachts échoueront sur nos grèves"
"Their yachts will run aground on our beaches/will fail on our strikes"
Grève means both a strike and a beach

"Tu nous 49.3 / On te 1789"
"We'll see your 49.3 and raise you 1789" (very free translation)
49.3 is the infamous article of the constitution that the government used to pass the law on pensions without a vote

maaliskuu 25, 2:46 pm

And where did that expression come from anyway, see the writing on the wall? I automatically assumed it referred to graffiti, but on second thought it doesn't sound likely. From past experience I'd say it's either the King James Bible or Shakespeare.

maaliskuu 25, 2:49 pm

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

maaliskuu 25, 4:05 pm

>109 FlorenceArt: From the story of Belshazzar's Feast (Daniel 5:5-31), in which a disembodied hand appears and writes the words "mene mene tekel upharsin" on the wall. Daniel interprets the words for King Belshazzar; they are a warning that God will destory Belshazzar's kingdom and divide it among his enemies.

maaliskuu 25, 4:18 pm

>111 KeithChaffee: Ah, thank you! I knew it.

maaliskuu 25, 5:45 pm

Interesting to see the slogans on the wall. I don't think I will find any in my local town.

maaliskuu 26, 1:20 pm

The Bruising of Qilwa
A novel by Naseem Jamnia

It looks like I'm getting ready to get out, partially at least, of my frivolous reading binge. Not that I intend to stop, but I'm starting to feel the need to insert some more serious reading here and there.

I read this book after a review from AnnieMod. I began reading bits of it between romance books, so it took me a while to get into it. The historical and political context of the story is complex, and I had difficulties keeping track of the different peoples and cultures. It was not always an easy read as it described difficult situations, but it was also thought provoking. About refugees, empires, the historical roots of enmity between peoples. Doing bad in the name of doing good. Also a queer growing up story. Sounds like heavy stuff but as a whole it worked very well for me, and I was moved by the story. I'm not very good at talking about books, but AnnieMod's review is much more detailed and articulate ;-)

maaliskuu 28, 2:10 am

Me And My Shadow
Katie MacAlister
Silver Dragons 3

Well, that's done, I finished the Silver Dragons. I was planning to stop reading the series here, but of course the last book ended on a surprising revelation leading on to the sequel, Light Dragons. Which I stopped reading at the beginning of the third and last book. As I remember it, the sex part was starting to be a little too BDSM for me, and in any case, the whole series never came to the fun level of the first part. So I should probably stop here, right? I have a huge pile of books waiting to be read on my Kobo anyway.

In other news, I think I'm done with the virtual visit of the Vermeer exhibition. It's still open on my browser though because I haven't quite followed all the links yet, and they are all very interesting. I started by following the guided tour with Stephen Fry, and then I wandered the rooms on LT own. A very satisfying experience.

maaliskuu 30, 7:09 am

Love's Shadow
Novel by Ada Leverson

Another CR recommendation, but I don't remember who mentioned it. A fun read. Satire is not my preferred genre but it did make me laugh.

maaliskuu 30, 2:46 pm

>116 FlorenceArt: Might have been me. I read it earlier this year and found it light and humorous as well.

maaliskuu 30, 3:29 pm

>117 labfs39: Yes, it might.

maaliskuu 31, 6:57 am

An interesting article touching on many subjects. I liked the description of how photography helped to maintain family and community links across the armenian diaspora.

Uncovering the Photographer Behind Arshile Gorky’s Most Famous Painting

huhtikuu 1, 11:37 am

I made it halfway through this article before I realized what day today is:

Met Gala Announces 2023 “Looting and Plunder” Theme

Hyperallergic tends to go crazy on April fool's day. Most of their articles are hilarious. This year I only read the one above and this one:

Florida School Censors Madonna and Child; Calls It “Assault on Family Values”

Well, and also this one, but it was a bit disappointing:

British Museum Offers Greece “Exclusive NFT” of the Parthenon Marbles

I hate April fool's day. Except for Hyperallergic's articles.

huhtikuu 1, 2:56 pm

Oh, and this one! Now that's Hyperallergic at their best.

Mediocre Painting Thought AI-Generated Revealed as Work of Real Artist

huhtikuu 1, 10:25 pm

OMG, I laughed so hard reading these. Thanks for sharing!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 2, 9:28 am

This was my favorite of Hyperallergic's posts yesterday—two of my favorite things, Vermeer and dogs:

"Newly Discovered Trove of Vermeer Works Reveals He Painted Mainly Dogs".

huhtikuu 2, 9:38 am

>123 lisapeet: Love the name of the Vermeer expert interviewed: Aletta van der Poedel.

huhtikuu 2, 9:41 am

>124 FlorenceArt: They do satire so well.

huhtikuu 4, 2:39 pm

Another short story from Granta. A weird one. I liked it.
Acid Permanent

huhtikuu 5, 2:20 am

Baby Teeth by Daniel Polansky
In Some of the Best of Tor.com 2021

Not sure what to think of it. I was predisposed to dislike it when I saw it had chapters. I like short stories to be, well, short. And I'm getting tired of nerdy main characters in high school. But it wasn't all bad after all. I don't know.

huhtikuu 6, 2:08 am

Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith

I stumbled upon this book on the Kobo shop, and was intrigued because the publisher's blurb presented it as a classic, and I had never heard of it. The excerpt looked promising so I bought it.

Wow, what a ride. It started like an old-fashioned sci-fi book from the 70s with unbelievable technology and sarcastic robots, very funny. And then about halfway through it started to turn dark, and closer to fantastic literature of the 90's. I resisted the urge to look up information about the book but I gathered pretty quickly that the author was British (although the liberal sprinkling of fucks in the conversation threw me for a while, I think of this word as mostly American). About the date I hesitated for most of the book, in fact until a date in the 90's appeared toward the end.

But none of that matters very much. This was a very intense and gripping book and I read it all the way through without any interruption for light romance, which is very rare for me these days. The writing feels a bit clumsy but not enough to take away from the experience. This was the author's first novel, so hopefully he got better with time. I certainly will look up more of his books.

huhtikuu 7, 5:28 am

All Systems Red
Martha Wells
The Murderbot Diaries 1

This is at least my second re-read, so I guess you could say I like it. I was in need of some reliable comfort read last night and this fit the bill nicely. Short and sweet. Well, if you like stories about rogue androids I guess. But he's not bad, I swear.

I think I'll keep the next one in the series at hand on my reader for the next emergency.

huhtikuu 9, 2:32 am

Last night I went to la Villette to see a dance show from a Korean company, Ambiguous Dance Company. Thinking back I don't see much ambiguity in it, on the contrary it seemed very straightforward. Lots of energy though, if a bit scattered and, well, it had a slightly amateurish feel, although this is a long established company. Still, I enjoyed the show and the opportunity to meet my friend, and we strolled along the canal and saw a duck family along the way.

huhtikuu 9, 12:04 pm

The Future Library by Peng Shepherd
In Some of the Best of tor.com 2021

That's right, another one about books. And trees. And mother nature and the foolishness of humans. Yawn. Practically everything in this story annoys me, including the fact that the plot was completely unbelievable. So why did I read it to the end? There must be something not utterly bad in it. But I remain annoyed.

huhtikuu 9, 12:41 pm

>130 FlorenceArt: Ah! the pleasures of living in a big city

huhtikuu 9, 12:58 pm

>132 baswood: True. I tend to take them for granted.

huhtikuu 9, 9:32 pm

>131 FlorenceArt: I felt the same way. 2.5 stars from me.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 9:47 am

Atlas historique de l'Afrique

This is the first time in ages that I manage to finish a non-fiction book. It certainly helped that it was short (books in the Autrement imprint are more like thick magazines) and split into very short chapters. Short but packed with information, some of it barely hinted at. And of course maps.

Considering the huge scope (a history of the African continent from prehistoric times to today - the book is obviously pretty recent), of course it's not going to go into much detail. This was probably for the best given my abysmal ignorance on this subject. I think the book did a pretty good job outlining the richness and diversity of Africa, and probably succeeded in making me at least question some of my preconceived notions. As I mentioned, the book is dense and packed with information, and so are the maps. Maybe the alternation between the text and maps helped keep my attention. Anyway, even if I know I have already forgotten most of the information in the book, I think I might manage to get something out of it in the longer run.

I bought this book together with two others on related subjects:
- Désir d'Afrique (recommended by LolaWalser)
- L'invention du colonialisme vert (found through Twitter)

This one sort of jumped into my shopping cart while I was searching for the other two, and I was hoping it would make me better prepared to read Désir d'Afrique. I don't know yet if that worked, but I'm glad I read it at any rate.

(Edited to fix touchstone)

huhtikuu 10, 2:13 am

>131 FlorenceArt: Sometimes I read things all the way through precisely because they annoy me. I want to be aware of all the things in it that irritate me, haha.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 11:32 am

Busy weekend doing nothing. I should probably have gone out yesterday when the weather was fine, but it was fine at home too, and laziness won. I did finish a book as mentioned above, and bought 5 more. Two from the Guardian's article Thorold posted, and three that had been languishing for years in my Kobo wishlist and that I suddenly decided to buy.

- The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde (read the first essay, notes on a trip to the USSR she made in 1976)
- The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard
- The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (read the first two, which I liked)
- Supplément au voyage de Bougainville et autres textes by Denis Diderot

I also watched an episode each of Star Trek Next Generation, Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9, listened to two excellent podcasts (one on witches and the other on propagations) and played a lot on my iPad.

huhtikuu 10, 2:11 pm

>137 FlorenceArt: 2 of those authors have married Paul Auster.

huhtikuu 10, 3:04 pm

>138 dianeham: That’s funny!

huhtikuu 11, 6:14 pm

>107 FlorenceArt: Told you! I am glad to see you liked it.

>114 FlorenceArt: I am not sure if I should say sorry or you are welcome :)

>128 FlorenceArt: I read that one at the end of last century - they translated it in one of the SF&F series that had started after 1989 and I fell in love with his style. May be overdue for a reread (in English) and catching up with more of his works - they stopped translating him after 4 or 5 books (each from different publisher - I do not think any of the publishers was ready to commit to the author and get the rest in...)

huhtikuu 11, 6:49 pm

>104 FlorenceArt: I know you mentioned on my thread as well that you were looking at pirates so figured I will mention today's episode of Free Thinking: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001kpjh which is all about pirates and anarchy: "From the Pirates of Penzance and Captain Hook, to Ottoman corsairs, Henry Avery, Mary Read and Lady Killigrew" and "...a discussion of David Graeber's ideas on a Free Thinking episode about anarchism.". I had not listened to it yet - I just noticed it shortly after I stopped by your thread earlier.

huhtikuu 12, 1:36 am

>141 AnnieMod: Thanks, will check it out!

huhtikuu 12, 2:02 pm

>142 FlorenceArt: As it turned out, these are two different episodes: one on pirates (the one I linked) and one on the anarchy thing: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001jlxb - just to set the record straight. My brain apparently misread something yesterday. :)

I like the program in general so if you get to listen to any of the two, I will be interested to hear what you think of them.

huhtikuu 12, 3:01 pm

>143 AnnieMod: Thank you! I subscribed to the podcast and downloaded both episodes you linked to, plus one about debt. I am travelling this week-end but unfortunately it will only be a one hour train trip each way, so I’ll have to make a choice. I am not very good at listening to podcasts, but this one sounds really interesting.

huhtikuu 12, 4:37 pm

>143 AnnieMod: My brain apparently misread something yesterday. :)
Easy enough to do as pirates are anarchy. 'Pirates' is one of my tags, so I'll certainly listen to that one.

huhtikuu 12, 5:16 pm

>144 FlorenceArt: They are originally live radio broadcasts so less edited than pure podcasts - which makes them easier to listen for me at least - the conversations fall into natural rhythms - with all the slowness in places and with people messing up and occasionally having a weird moment. Not sure if I am explaining it well enough :) Don't get me wrong - I like polished and edited - but over-editing a conversation makes it a bit monotonous and generally less appealing for me.

>145 SassyLassy: True :) BBC usually adds a link when they talk about a different episode but they missed to do it here so I conflated the two. Apparently anarchy strikes everywhere ;)

huhtikuu 14, 5:10 am

How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf
Molly Harper
Naked Werewolf 1

Had to get back to silly supernatural romance for a while. This was fun.

huhtikuu 14, 5:41 am

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huhtikuu 16, 4:31 pm

Driving Mr. Dead
Molly Harper
Half-Moon Hollow 1.5

Another quick and fun read.

huhtikuu 17, 2:20 pm

The list of Must Read Short Speculative Fiction: February 2023 was a disappointment. Most of the stories were from paid magazines that could not be bought individually in electronic form, so I didn't read them. The rest was mostly disappointing.

The list contained a short story from Hexagon issue 12, which is not only free but available in ePub format, so I downloaded it and I just finished it. It's pretty short with one poem (not my style) and four stories, all with a definitely gloomy outlook on our future. Two of them were worth the effort, They Come To Return Home by Elou Carroll and The Loneliness of Water by Lyndsey Croal. I didn't finish the one recommended in the tor.com list, a not particularly well written rehashing of old clichés. Obviously Alex Brown felt differently though, so your mileage may vary. It's supposed to get "even better" toward the end.

huhtikuu 18, 5:05 pm

Watering Stone (no touchstone!)
Viola Grace

More silliness from Viola Grace. Badly written and slightly confusing as always, and enjoyable as always. Well, if you like that sort of thing.

huhtikuu 21, 7:36 am

Artificial Condition
Martha Wells
The Murderbot Diaries 2

Hard to stop now that I've started rereading the series. Murderbot finds itself involved with pesky humans again, not to mention ART, the asshole research transport. Yum.

huhtikuu 23, 8:14 am

Ludmila Oulitskaïa

I wasn't going to list this, as it is so short it barely counts. But it is linked to an author and book that were discussed here recently, so.

This is a short essay that was published for free in 2020, during lockdown. The author discusses how she used the lockdown to attempt to declutter her shelves, cupboards and so on, and came across the manuscript for Just The Plague (Ce n'était que la peste in French). I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when I read about the manuscript being "found" right in the middle of a pandemic, but I guess it makes sense that way. Otherwise there isn't much to say about this essay.

Here is the link to BLBera's post on Just The Plague:

huhtikuu 23, 12:41 pm

Rogue Protocol
Martha Wells
The Murderbot Diaries 3

Where Murderbot gets to meet another batch of pesky humans, and Miki the pet robot.

huhtikuu 26, 5:53 am

A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses
Molly Harper
I don't think I will finish this one. The reference to witches makes me uneasy. I have no problem with vampires and werewolves (well actually I do, at least with vampires and ghosts and how they tie up with a general refusal of death on our culture, but it doesn't stop me enjoying the stories). But as far as I know, nobody believing in vampires or ghosts or werewolves has ever tried to heal people by manipulating energy or other kinds of unproved and potentially dangerous methods. This kind of belief hurts people in the real world and I'm very uneasy reading about it, even as fiction.

huhtikuu 26, 3:46 pm

I should watch more of ContraPoint's video. This one is less flamboyant than her others I've seen, but her take on cancel culture is spot on.
The Witch Trials of J. K. Rowling

huhtikuu 28, 4:15 pm

Isn't it interesting how so many planets in the universe seem to be hosting humanoid beings, and no matter how technologically advanced they are, they all have a single culture and language, and a planetwide polity. Well, sometimes they have two. Otherwise how would you have war.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 1, 1:03 pm

A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses
Molly Harper
Half-Moon Hollow 2
Well, I did read it after all. I'm weak. It was a lot of fun.

I also finished re-reading Murderbot number 4, Exit Strategy. And two short stories:

More Tomorrow by Michael Marshall Smith
In Darker Terror

Lots of similarities with Only Forward: the narrator is virtually the same dude (and yes, he is very much a dude), and there is the same contrast between the light narrative tone and the increasingly darker story. I probably read this too close to the book, and maybe that’s why I feel the book was more effective than the story. But the ending still had an impact.

The Breath of War by Aliette de Bodard
In The Long List Anthology 1 (stories from the Hugo award)

I didn’t finish the only book by this author that I tried to read, and after that I avoided her, but I might rethink that. This story was very good, even though the very clumsily introduced* starting point is really stretching belief.

* In fact I’m pretty sure that this really clumsy sentence explaining it was added at the last minute on the insistence of an editor. It’s completely at odds with the way the rest of the world building is much more subtly and gradually introduced, and it’s also probably unnecessary, we would have figured it out in good time. Oh well**.

** And now I realize that even though I liked this story very much, I have just spent the main part of my review complaining about a very minor point. Oh well, part 2.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 1, 1:18 pm

And just now, a very short one:
I've Come to Talk With You Again by Karl Edward Wagner
In Darker Terrors

This is the kind of story that reminds me of a colleague, years ago, who told me he read short stories because novels will never have "those three dots at the end". I liked.

toukokuu 1, 10:14 pm

>156 FlorenceArt:

That was long but very worthwhile. Although I am old enough to feel I've been having the same discussions since Noah floated the Ark.

And I really appreciate her pointing out that lesbians are the LEAST transphobic demographic of all; I've seen too many people who ought to know better jumping on the lesbophobic train via supposedly "pro-trans" avenues recently.

>157 FlorenceArt:

In the visual media it's all about the budget but in print, I don't get it. Failure of imagination, I guess.

toukokuu 3, 5:16 am

Message from Mars
By Clifford D. Simak
In Planet Stories Collection 7

Downloaded this collection after reading KeithChaffee's review of Way Station. I guess I had a positive bias, because normally I would scoff at such a wildly unbelievable story, told in what I felt was a slightly clumsy manner. And yet, I did like it, a little. I will try to locate an electronic version of Way Station which sounded interesting.

toukokuu 3, 4:42 pm

>161 FlorenceArt: Early SF can be a challenge, can't it? Probably true of most genres, but I think that the growing pains of modern SF were particularly intense; the genre went through enormous changes in style and maturity in its early years. For the early 40s, "slightly clumsy" probably puts it in the top half of what was available at the time.

And those writers were cranking out stories at a ridiculous rate; the fandom was so eager for new material that pulp editors didn't have to do (and often didn't bother to do) much actual editing. Whatever they published, the fans would eat up with gratitude. When a genuinely good story got published, it was due as much to accident and good luck as authorial or editorial craft, and there are many stories in which you slog through the clomping prose to get at the marvelous idea buried inside it.

It's also true that many of those writers had very long careers. Writers get better with time; the genre got a lot better with time. The work of author X in the 1940s and his work in the 1970s may barely be recognizable as by the same person.

There's a good twenty or thirty years of stuff at the beginning of modern SF, so much of which honestly isn't very good and is now mostly of historical interest -- where did these tropes come from, how did that writer develop, what's the first story about X? And yet, those stories do matter, because they are what influenced and gave rise to the writers we read today. At this point, today's writers are a full generation removed from the genre's forefathers; someone writing space opera today may have never read E. E. Smith or Edmond Hamilton, but the authors who are her direct influences did, so she's still responding to their ideas, even if at a remove.

And even if you (like me) have enough interest in those historical questions is strong enough that you want to read those stories, they demand such generosity of spirit from the modern reader. I'm glad that you were possessed of enough of that generosity to take at least some pleasure from a clunky bit of work.

(Thus endeth the long rambling.)

toukokuu 3, 5:00 pm

>162 KeithChaffee: I enjoyed the rambling! And guess what, Way Station is available after all, I was looking for it as Waystation but now it’s waiting for me on my reader ;-)

toukokuu 8, 10:53 am

Lots of comfort reading this week-end, not much literary quality. And, embarrassingly, a lot of sleazy sex scenes. Too much, actually.

No Reservation: Part One
Viola Grace
Omegas Next Door 1

I like Viola Grace's books despite their flaws, but I always feel a bit lost in her worlds. She is not one to bother with infodump, which is fine by me, but sometimes a few hints for context would help. In any case, I thought going back to the beginning of a series might help, and it did a little. In the other hand, this book is a bit longer than what I'm used to for her, and the difference is filled with... sex. It would be hypocritical of me to pretend I hate it, and I do like her playful and original outlook (multi partner relationships with 2, 3, or here 4, or is it 5, I kinda lost count, males for one female) but there is such a thing as too much of it. That said, I immediately bought part two, so I wasn't too discouraged I guess. She still makes me smile and that's what I need right now.

Burning Wild
Christine Feehan
Leopard novels 3
This one was much darker and not as much fun.

I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas
Molly Harper
Half-Moon Hollow series who know how many
I would have skipped that one as it's only a novella and I'm not crazy about Christmas stories, only Harper has this annoying habit of linking all the stories and characters together. I shouldn't have bothered though, it turns out that still miss one of the series, probably a short story. But that's OK, it wasn't too bad for a Christmas story.

Oh, and at some point last week I read a Twitter thread about Montaigne and decided to read the essay "Des cannibales". I went a bit overboard and bought three different versions of it, none of which was really satisfying. But now I guess I should read more of his essays. The cannibals were actually pretty interesting even if I was too busy comparing versions to read it with the attention it deserved.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 8, 4:02 pm

I just finished watching the first season of Babylon 5. It's strange because I thought I had only seen the first half of the season back in the 90s, but in fact I remember bits and pieces of most of the episodes I've watched this time. I also remember the first episode of the next season, which I think is the last I saw. I look forward to season 2, even without Sinclair.

toukokuu 8, 7:16 pm

>165 FlorenceArt: Oh, that brings back good memories. When I was in grad school, a bunch of us would get together and watch the episodes as they came out (back when you couldn't just stream the whole thing). Music majors, Russian majors, dentists in training—we were an eclectic bunch, but had a lot of fun watching that show.

toukokuu 9, 1:52 pm

Ah yes, the good old days when you had to be in front of your TV set on the day and hour they broadcast, or else miss it. I was never good with the VCR, if I recorded it somehow I never watched it. Streaming is much better, even if sometimes I have trouble finding what I want.

toukokuu 13, 2:06 pm

Not much serious reading going on right now.

No Reservation, part 2
Viola Grace
Omega Next Door 2

Still way too much sex in this one, but I enjoyed the story, and now I more or less understand what are alphas, betas and omegas in her world. I plan on reading the next one soon.

The Dangers Of Dating A Rebound Vampire
Molly Harper
Half-Moon Hollow 3

Another fun vampire romance.

toukokuu 14, 3:58 pm

Finally got around to listening to the BBC podcast recommended by >143 AnnieMod:
Anarchism and David Graeber

I keep oscillating between violent rejection and cautious interest about anarchism. And I definitely think I should read at least one book by David Graeber. Debt: The First 5000 Years sounds good.

toukokuu 14, 4:07 pm

Oh, and I visited the exhibition Basquiat × Warhol at the Fondation Vuitton this week. Wonderful. I love Basquiat, Warhol not so much (overexposure probably plays a role), but these two worked really well together. The exhibition is on until August, and I may visit again later. I bought the excellent catalogue for my mother.

It was weird being reminded about the 80s and realizing how much things have changed. I was in my twenties then, not my favorite period in my life, but at the exhibition I saw that time in a different light.

toukokuu 14, 5:18 pm

Interested to read about the Basquiat Warhol at the Fondation Vuitton. We are in Paris for a few days next week where we will take in as much as possible.

toukokuu 15, 4:12 am

I would highly recommend it Barry, but then it's really about personal taste so I guess you'll know whether you're interested or not. The building itself is also interesting if you haven't visited yet. It's very frustrating because it's designed so that you can't find your way, but it's worth getting a little lost to get to the top terrace. And the water cascade and lower level are nice too.

Any chance we can get together for a drink or dinner, or will you be too busy?

toukokuu 20, 10:14 am

>170 FlorenceArt: I would love to see the Basquiat x Warhol exhibition; hopefully it will come to NYC or Philadelphia, as it will be sometime before I can travel to Europe. I did see the excellent exhibition Basquiat: Boom for Real at the Barbican in London in 2017, which included descriptions and examples of JMB's collaboration with Andy Warhol. BTW, Warhol was born and grew up in Pittsburgh, where I attended medical school for four years, and the Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side is superb.

toukokuu 21, 3:37 am

May is always a good month in France for public holidays, but this year the alignment is super favorable with 1 and 8 May falling on Mondays and two movable feasts in May (Ascension was this Thursday and Whit Monday is at the end of the month). I've been taking advantage of this to read (mostly fluff), watch series and fill tax returns for my mother and myself.

Three Thousand Roses
Dripping Fire
Viola Grace
Omega Next Door 3 and 4
I love Viola Grace's books because the stories are so simple (OK, simplistic maybe) and cheerful. No switching viewpoints (that throws me off every time) and no drama, no anguish. Tensions are always resolved in the next paragraph. Her multiple partner relationships are fun, although there aren't enough women in them, which is one of the few faults she shares with practically every other romance writer I've been reading. It seems that romance and sex are only conceivable with a man or two (or in this case three or four), but never more than one woman. Unfair.

A couple of short stories:

Thralls Of The Endless Night
Leigh Brackett
In Planet Stories collection 7
OK but incredibly naive, and the happy ending was totally unbelievable.

Makeisha In Time
Rachael K. Jones
In The Long List Anthology vol. 1
Loved it. A woman's involuntary travels back in time. And finally something with some literary merit!

I also bought season 2 of Babylon 5 and watched the first two episodes. I missed Sinclair less than I expected. The first episode was really powerful, the second much more conventional. Also watched one episode of Deep Space 9 and noticed again how unbelievable the plots are, even the good ones. That's something that Babylon 5 is not guilty of I think. I mean, once you accept the sci-fi premise of course.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 21, 5:13 am

I've also been listening to podcasts, something I rarely find time to do. They are all in French. I can read almost anything in English, but listening is much more difficult.

La transidentité : au-delà des apparences. The series is still ongoing, the latest episode had some difficult moments, which given the subject was to be expected. Great quality as always with Méta de choc.

L'amour par petites touche introduced me to Maïa Mazaurette, a journalist and authoress who writes about sex and feminism. I was very interested and found another interview in two parts. I listened to the first part only so far:

Sortir la tête du trou. The whole interview is very interesting but one thing resonated with another gripe I have with my romance reads, which is that the sex scenes are often violent, which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing except that most of the time, consent is not asked for or even implicit, and I find this very disturbing. Maïa Mazaurette has some interesting things to say about that, but mainly: no, consensual sex is not boring!

ETA: OK, I distorted that last statement a little for the sake of sensationalism. What she really says is that asking for consent does not remove all the fun from sex, on the contrary. We just have to include it in our culture so that it can become part of the fun.

toukokuu 21, 12:49 pm

>174 FlorenceArt:

I'm also watching B5 and, bought recently, DS9. The latter isn't wowing me so far, although I do like the characters. Especially Kira the hothead and Sisko the king of subtle snark. I had to pause after that prophet-heavy two-parter, just too much religious twaddle for my taste. I'm in the second part of the second season.

The idea that people have to be told that consensual sex isn't boring makes my hair stand on end and anyone who thinks that non-consensual violent sex is "fun" has probably not had any ever. Not sure I have the strength for that podcast... :)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 21, 1:37 pm

>176 LolaWalser: Well I really exaggerated and it's more subtle than that. In heterosexual sex, the man is supposed to be the active half, he is supposed to take the initiative and, if he is a bit forceful, it's only natural because, you know, he's a man. At least that's how I read things in my romance books. After posting I read the second part of the interview at Les couilles sur la table (love the name of that podcast - balls on the table) and she elaborates more on that inequality in sex. I really recommend it.

P.S. yeah, I like Kira and Sisko too.

toukokuu 27, 4:07 am

The Single Undead Moms Club
Molly Harper
Half-Moon Hollow 4
Still lots of fun. With every new book she adds a couple to her undead "family", so I'm starting to get a little mixed up as to who's who, but that's OK.

J. R. Ward
Black Dagger Brotherhood 21
Sadly I think I must give up on this author. This has been coming for a few books and I hesitated before picking this one up, and I don't think I will finish it. Just too much pseudo-religious BS and death denial for me. I'm sad because I really love the brothers and all their crazy entourage. But at some point it just becomes too much.

Of course, you might rightly object, what do you expect if you read vampire books? The whole point of vampires is to deny the reality of death, and ALL the urban fantasy romance I've been reading has an element of that, either in the form of longevity or hints of an afterlife, or sometimes reincarnation, often with a side serving of destiny and hints of an interventionist higher power. Ward has all of this but takes it one step further. In each if her books she has to kill off one of the main characters, just so that she can resuscitate her or him (usually it's a her but not always). This time apparently, it's going to be the dog. Enough is enough, I say.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 28, 3:40 am

Dodging The Alpha
Viola Grace
Betas in Waiting series

This one is a little more fleshed out than the others I think, with some background on the social hierarchies between alphas, betas and omegas. Interesting but also emotionally less soothing as there are some ugly tensions. But it was all because of a curse, so at the end everyone is back to cuddling each other.

Fantômette contre Fantômette
Georges Chaulet
Fantômette 6

Raton liseur was discussing children's books in French on her thread, and I was reminded of my childhood hero. I was surprised to see that the books are available in e-form and decided to read one for the fun and nostalgia. Not great literature but it was nice to read about Françoise, Ficelle and Boulotte again.

I had a look at the wikipedia page before and it mentioned something that I never noticed when I was a child, and may not have picked up on even now: the girls and their friends have no parents. They seem to be able to come and go as they please, without any adult supervision whatsoever. Mademoiselle Bigoudi, the teacher, does exercise some control in the classroom but she doesn't count as a parent.

The book was originally published in 1964, and I must have read it about a decade later. In this edition, it has been "modernized" in rather weird ways. I can sort of understand a boy's room being cluttered with CDs instead of vinyl records, but the mention of TGVs was a bit puzzling. And on the other hand, the girls apparently study in a girls-only classroom, which was already outdated when I was reading the books, not that I noticed at the time.

What I liked about the series as a child, I think, was the humor, and especially the irony of Françoise, who is the smartest of the three but not necessarily the leader of the group, being the real hero without anyone knowing.

A fun little bit of time travel, but probably not recommended to anyone who wasn't a fan as a child.

toukokuu 28, 5:25 am

I just read a great short story by Elizabeth Bear:
"Covenant" in The Long List Anthology 1
Originally published in Hieroglyph: Stories And Visions for a Better Future
Powerful, very well written and manages to raise a lot of questions about crime and responsibility and bio-engineering.

Why haven't I read anything by her before? I've seen her name come up numerous times but for some reason didn't think she was for me. In fact, searching on my Kobo I find that I did start a book she wrote with Sarah Monette, A Companion to Wolves. I didn't finish it, not because it's bad but because it's all about politics with a lot of characters, and I have trouble keeping up with this kind of book, and I was utterly confused about who was who.

Oh, and I have read another short story from Some of the Best of tor.com 2021, The Red Mother. I liked it, it started like a very traditional fantasy tale but the ending was unexpected.

Anyway, I should probably look up her novels.

toukokuu 29, 5:17 am

Long Life: Positive HIV Stories

I became aware of this book thanks to an exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo: Exposé.es about AIDS. I found it difficult to concentrate on the exhibition because of the subject, but those colorful life size body maps of South African women caught my eyes, so I started to look for the book, but apparently it's out of print and not available digitally. Well, except at archive.org. Honestly the reading experience on this site sucks, but on the other hand it allowed me to read the book, so I'm grateful for that.

It took me a long time to read it, a few pages at a time, because, well, it's not easy. This book is a collective work by the women of a support group and the members of the MSF (doctors without borders) team who provided them with medical treatment. Those women were the lucky ones, and they wanted to write about their hopes and their fight to get treatment for everyone, against the pharmaceutical industry but also against the government. At the time Thabo Mbeki was president, and he wasn't doing much for them, even denying that HIV was the cause of AIDS. I think things have gotten better since then, but people in Africa are still dying from the disease, even though effective treatment has been available for years.

These women were the lucky ones, and yet reading about their lives is difficult.

kesäkuu 1, 4:52 pm

>180 FlorenceArt: Also check out her Shadow Unit books - not sure they'll be your cup of tea but if you've enjoyed EBear those are very rich. It's a group of writers (including Sarah Monette) writing...they're done like scripts for an SF TV show, an FBI special unit dealing with people who, for unknown reasons, have developed powers of one sort or another. Sort of a cross between X-Files, Wild Cards, and Kay Hooper. Most (all?) of the stories are available on http://shadowunit.org (click Reading Order on the left), as well as as ebooks in libraries and on Amazon.

kesäkuu 2, 12:55 am

>182 jjmcgaffey: Thanks! Shadow Unit is available on Kobo Plus in collections of 4 novellas. I picked up the first one.

kesäkuu 2, 2:00 pm

A short story: Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels
By Lavie Tidhar
In Some of the best of tor.com 2021

No, not that Judge Dee, although this is obviously either an homage or a subtle parody, I'm not sure which. Either way I liked it, it has the right balance of seriousness and humor for me, all subtle and low-key. And apparently it's a sort of series on the tor.com website, there will be more to enjoy later. The "original" Judge Dee (the one by Robert van Gulik is not for me, but I liked this one.

kesäkuu 7, 3:05 pm

Network Effect
Martha Wells
Murderbot 5

I bought Martha Wells's latest book, Witch King, as soon as it was out (actually I pre-bought it) and started to read it soon after. But it's a bit too complex for me right now and made me long for something short and simple, so I went back to the Murderbot series. This book is actually longer than the others and more complex, but the plot is more or less linear with only one character viewpoint (flashbacks and switching viewpoints tend to make me put down a book for a while). It's also one of the best, maybe the best in the series. I love the cast, Murderbot is his own sarcastic self, his humans are less bumbling than usual, and best of all ART is back! I want to pick up the next one but I didn't like it as much as this one I think, plus I want to pace myself since the next one is due toward the end of the year.

kesäkuu 7, 7:34 pm

Ah, you hear Murderbot as a male. To me it sounds very much neutral. I thought Wells managed that brilliantly.

kesäkuu 7, 11:49 pm

Ah yes, I forgot to use the correct pronoun. Yes, I can’t help seeing it as male, because it’s hard to shake the “instinct” that the default state of humans (or any living being I guess) is male. Not very enlightened I guess, but I’m the product of my environment in this aspect. And I have real difficulties in thinking of someone as genderless.

kesäkuu 8, 12:02 pm

>187 FlorenceArt:

I'm not sure there IS a correct pronoun... it's funny, I read them all but I can't remember how it's addressed in the third person... or if that even happens?

kesäkuu 8, 2:50 pm

>188 LolaWalser: It’s definitely an it, and so are ART, Miki and the others. But I can’t help assigning a gender to all of them, usually male, although I’m not sure about Miki.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 11, 9:55 am

Two short stories from Some of the Best of tor.com 2021

L'esprit de l'escalier
By Catherynne M. Valente
Orpheus and Eurydice, 21st century style. Loved it.

An Easy Job
By Carrie Vaughn
I don't much like this writing style and I almost gave up before the story got interesting. I'm glad I held on, it was worth it. But the writing is flat and leaves nothing to the imagination. Except for the narrator's gender. Of course it had to be pretty much the only kind of ambiguity that annoys me, but it's just as well, I guess I need to get used to living in a world where gender is not necessarily binary.
Added: well, the summary on tor.com uses he/him, so I guess that's the end of the suspense. I sort of leant that way too but it didn't feel obvious. This wouldn't be possible in French without some serious contortions. I think a famous French writer did it once.

kesäkuu 11, 9:55 am

Aaand I finally finished Some of the best of tor.com 2021 with Small Monsters by E. Lily Yu. Which was... OK I guess. It' written like a monster fairy tale, one of the original versions with gory bits. I don't know, something was missing for me, but it was an OK read.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 17, 9:38 am

Sortir de l'hétérosexualité
By Juliet Drouar (and not Madame Juliet Drouar, as the version LT proposed to me rather insultingly presents the author, who takes pains to make clear that s/he refuses to be assigned to one gender).

This book was strongly recommended to my mother by my niece (her granddaughter)'s girlfriend, so she bought it. She seemed genuinely interested but I knew she would not read it, because she has trouble reading and concentrating now. This week I am staying with her, so I started reading the book (I was interested too) and then proposed to read it to her. We just finished it last night and it was a very interesting experience reading it together. We often stopped and discussed the content. I had to explain a few words but on the whole she had no trouble understanding it despite my rather stumbling reading.

The book can be summed up by it first sentences:

"Pas d’hommes, pas de femmes : pas d’hétérosexualité. Pas de sexisme.
Et :
Pas d’hétérosexualité : pas d’hommes, pas de femmes. Pas de sexisme."

"No men, no women: no heterosexuality. No sexism.
No heterosexuality: no men, no women. No sexism."

If I were to attempt my own summary, it would be something like this:
The hierarchical organization of humanity into two genders is something that has been imposed by the white patriarchy throughout the world through colonialism. Contrary to what we are led to believe, this organization is neither natural nor universal. And it is the foundation for domination of one gender over the other.

But actually there is a lot more to it than just that.

The book is written in a very clear and combative style. It's a lot of fun to read, and provides much food for thought. I did not agree with everything, but all in all I think the book makes a very good case. And of course I now have a drool-worthy list of reference books that I will probably never read.

- The Invention of Women. Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses
This one sounds so fascinating that I actually ordered a paper copy. I also found an ePub version on archive.org but it's a raw OCR so will be difficult to read.
- La Contrainte à l’hétérosexualité et autres essais by Adrienne Rich
Since this is a French translation, I wishlisted Essential Essays: Culture, Politics, and the Art of Poetry instead for English language originals. Probably not the same selection but I think the one Drouar referenced is in there.
- The Heart of Whiteness. Normal Sexuality and Race in America, 1880-1940 (love that title!).
- L’Invention de la culture hétérosexuelle.
- The History of White People.
- How the Irish Became White.
- Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy (La Culture du pauvre).
- Stuart Hall, Identités et cultures 2 : Politiques des différences, not sure what the English language original is called.

The sentence that made us both laugh most (about books on psychology readily available in French bookstores):
"Ou comment le petit pervers polymorphe se transformera tel un papillon en fort homme-pénis ou en belle femme-vagin réceptacle de sa puissance."
"Or, how the little polymorphous pervert will transform, like a butterfly, into a strong penis-man or a beautiful vagina-woman, receptacle of his strength."
Probably funnier in the context of the book 😉

The book ends with a short fiction describing Drouar's ideal world where sex and procreation are fully decoupled (pun not intended). It’s mostly a very graphic description a a sexual act, so it was fun reading it aloud to my mother. She took it like a soldier but I don't think she liked that part.

kesäkuu 17, 11:40 am

>192 FlorenceArt:

It's so great that you and your mum had a lovely shared experience. I wish I could talk with mine like that, but we're both far too stubborn. The book, or its themes, does sound interesting.

Personally, while I think that heterosexuality-as-we-know-it is something that is constructed and taught, I don't buy into the idea that colonialism invented it (and hence invented "sexism", as she seems to put it). The evidence of gender discrimination against women is both too widespread and ancient to be dismissed, and this IS "sexism", regardless of whether the people perpetuating it are hetero, homo, bi etc.

Drouar's ideal world where sex and procreation are fully decoupled

I don't get it--that is actually the sort of world we've had since civilization: owned women for procreation, prostitutes, boys, goats for "fun".

And why shouldn't procreation ALSO be sexual, as it is in nature, and why shouldn't that sexual act be joyful, as it is for many people?

kesäkuu 17, 1:08 pm

>193 LolaWalser: "Personally, while I think that heterosexuality-as-we-know-it is something that is constructed and taught, I don't buy into the idea that colonialism invented it (and hence invented "sexism", as she seems to put it). The evidence of gender discrimination against women is both too widespread and ancient to be dismissed, and this IS "sexism", regardless of whether the people perpetuating it are hetero, homo, bi etc."

I was reluctant at first, but s/he is pretty convincing. I am reading the introduction to The Invention of Women. Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses and it's even more convincing. Obviously there are other cultures who oppress/ed women. But the fact that pretty much all sociological studies are made by Western people means that the Western framework of analysis, based on European history and ideology, is applied to all cultures, and when it doesn't match we tend to overlook it. Also, African cultures were forcefully remodeled according to European ideology during the colonial period. So the combination of recent cultural changes and the European-centered framework of analysis makes it hard to imagine that things may have been different before.

In Yorubaland, social hierarchies were based on relative age and not gender. Therefore they were relative and changing, and not based on biological characteristics. Also, they were not essentialized since they could change with situation and time. It's hard to imagine but at this point I have no reason to doubt Oyeronke Oyewumi's research.

Personally the discourse I am most skeptical of is the idea that sex is not binary. I get that sex is a very complex set of biological characteristics, and there are people (according to Drouar, the number of intersex people is estimated between 1.7 and 4%) who have characteristics of both sexes. Today these people are mutilated at birth to force them to conform to a gender they did not choose, and this is unacceptable. There are also people whose perception of themselves does not match the gender they were assigned at birth, and these people should be free to explore and choose the gender they present themselves with, and certainly not subjected to violence because of their non-conformity. These two minorities are certainly underestimated in the public perception, because they are forced to remain hidden for the most part, and again this is unacceptable, and we have to learn to integrate them in our societies. But they remain minorities, and for most people gender and sex are binary and mostly aligned (with much interpersonal variation that tends to be suppressed by the gender brainwashing we are subjected to from birth). My reaction to the "sex is not binary" argument is that it takes extreme and rare cases and try to pass them as the norm for the sake of integration. It would be like pretending we are all albinos just so that albinos can feel less isolated and better accepted (though it's probably not a very good simile since I think albinos are much rarer than intersex and transgender people).

I'm also very uneasy about the idea that gender can be non-binary, but I am open to revising that preconception.

"I don't get it--that is actually the sort of world we've had since civilization: owned women for procreation, prostitutes, boys, goats for "fun"."

That’s not wrong, but the free exchange of gametes without actual sex, through medically assisted procreation, has only been available technically for a short time, and is still practically and legally restricted to heterosexual couples, at least in France.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 17, 1:29 pm

Oops, duplicate post.

kesäkuu 17, 1:59 pm

>194 FlorenceArt:

"Sex is not binary" and "gender is non-binary" are statements that reflect a statistical reality and I don't understand what makes you uncomfortable about that. They are not statements about individuals (although some individuals find it suitable to describe their own sex or gender as non-binary).

It would be like pretending we are all albinos just so that albinos can feel less isolated and better accepted (though it's probably not a very good simile since I think albinos are much rarer than intersex and transgender people).

Um, no, again, those statements refer to populations, not individuals. Using your example, it's just saying "and some of the population are albino".

That book on Yorubas sounds fascinating. I have read a little along the same lines, but fwiw, the "egalitarianism" ends up being rather limited, and gender binaries affirmed in other if not the same ways. Typically, gender roles still exist, and women are nowhere as prized as the men (sort of how Elizabeth too can get to be a queen--faute de mieux, or mâle.) Of course, Africa is also large and diverse, and many parts have experienced the influence of Islam before white men showed up.

None of that addresses the misogyny of Judaism or Hinduism or Confucianism etc., all phenomena neither European nor recent.

kesäkuu 17, 2:55 pm

>194 FlorenceArt: "My reaction to the "sex is not binary" argument is that it takes extreme and rare cases and try to pass them as the norm for the sake of integration."

I don't think we're being asked to take "extreme and rare cases" as the norm; we're simply being asked to take them as part of a wider understanding of what is normal, and to get over the idea that only "the norm" can be normal.

kesäkuu 17, 3:07 pm

>196 LolaWalser: "Sex is not binary" and "gender is non-binary" are statements that reflect a statistical reality and I don't understand what makes you uncomfortable about that. They are not statements about individuals (although some individuals find it suitable to describe their own sex or gender as non-binary).

>197 KeithChaffee:

Yes, I guess you're both right. The problem is me I suppose, I am so used to thinking of people as men or women that it's uncomfortable to be faced with other options.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 17, 7:55 pm

>198 FlorenceArt:

Keith put it with succinct elegance:

to get over the idea that only "the norm" can be normal

Think of it like we think of eye colour--globally, dark-coloured irises may predominate (be "the norm"), but other colours, although relatively more rare, are just as normal (in the sense of "natural"). This point is commonly made in science but not addressed enough in the public at large.

Mental habits may be tough, but they can change. The main thing is a welcoming disposition! :)

kesäkuu 17, 7:55 pm

Enjoying your conversation. Cheers all.

kesäkuu 18, 10:51 am

Speaking of which:
The Güevedoces of the Dominican Republic (this is a Facebook post by SciBabe)
Güevedoce on Wikipedia

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 18, 12:24 pm

>201 FlorenceArt:

The main message in the Facebook entry is that intersex babies should be left alone until they are old enough to decide for themselves which gender, if any, they experience a belonging to--something that as far as I can tell, seems reasonable and more humane than the alternative. But I have some other issues with that post.

SciBabe means well but confuses somewhat gender and sex. By now most people should be aware that gender is a social construct (so, unsurprising that it would have more than two categories when people are free to declare their real experience of it), whereas sex, its biological basis, is the more contested ground (as--supposedly--more available to "scientific" assessment.

I also don't think the picture she paints of the attitudes in the DR is as rosy as all that. First, it's not true that "At least in the Dominican Republic, güevedoces are socialized not like boys or girls but like… güevedoces, a third gender."
Since the condition doesn't become apparent until puberty, those babies are treated in whatever fashion female babies get treated in the DR, for a good while too. Second, what follows on puberty (presumably in the majority of cases), according to SciBabe's description, assumes that a boy reacting hatefully to every trace of femininity is what "normal" boyhood looks like. Well that may be so, but that's true of any misogynistic culture that socializes boys into traditional, toxic masculinity (a "boy" is something that is 100% NOT a "girl"). That's hardly reflective of an advanced view of gender.

What I'm getting from this is that Dominicans may be accepting of these children's choices on puberty, which is great, but nowhere does it follow from this that they don't enforce gender roles of the traditional kind, with the usual hierarchy of man on top, woman on the bottom. (Btw, a popular if somewhat disgraced Dominican author, Junot Díaz, has showcased a rather ugly Dominican sexual reality in his books.)

kesäkuu 18, 12:55 pm

Yes, I agree with your analysis.

kesäkuu 20, 4:11 pm

L'invention du colonialisme vert
Guillaume Blanc

I was vaguely aware of some of the problems with conservationism in Africa and other ex-colonies, but this book was a horrific eye-opener. Those problems are not unfortunate accidents, they are systemic, although Blanc never uses that word.

This short book tells the history of the myth of the African Eden, how it was born at the beginning of the colonial era and is upheld still today, and how it affects the life of Africans. Because to our occidental eyes, the true Africa is one without its people, where the nature that we have destroyed at home can be kept pristine, and free of Africans.

The reality is that in Africa as in Europe, people have been living with nature for millennia, adapting to it and shaping it in the process. But where Europe sees this synergy as a way to protect nature (e.g. in France's parcs naturels where agro-pastoralism is carefully preserved), in Africa we see it as people destroying nature, as a nature that must be protected from its people (as is Ethiopia, the country on which the book centers, where agro-pastors are being forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods to leave room for nature... and tourism). The power of this myth is such that experts keep issuing the same dire warnings about nature disappearing, without really bothering to check this is really what's happening, and why.

I have highlighted many passages, but two examples felt particularly striking.

As I have already alluded to, in the parc national des Cévennes you can see panels explaining how agro-pastoralism is necessary to nurture the local ecosystems and keep the landscape frozen in a largely idealized past. In the Simien Mountains National Park in Ethiopia, Unesco, WWF and dozens of other international organizations keep insisting that agro-pastors are a danger to the local ecosystems, and they are being forced to move out. It's chilling to read that UNESCO reports actually stated that in order to preserve the local environment, human rights had to be waived in the area. Which the Ethiopian government was more than happy to do. Today the language has evolved, trendy words like sustainable development and partnership are bandied about, but the reality is the same even when the inhabitants move out "voluntarily".

The second example would be funny if it wasn't so sad and infuriating. The most emblematic animal of the Simien Mountains is the Walia Ibex, a vulnerable species endemic to the area. The ibex are difficult to hunt and their meat is not particularly palatable, so the locals mostly leave them alone (they live up in the cliffs), except in times of dire famine (although there have been sporadic and failed attempts to exterminate them, in the hope that if the walia were gone, the government would leave people alone). Blanc cites a series of reports by experts mentioning a small but increasing population (from 150 in 1963 to 625 in 2006) and lamenting the imminent extinction of the species. During the same time frame (1963-2016), the human population in the park increased from 1500 to 5000, so slightly less than the Walia population. Conclusion: the humans are a danger to the ibex, get rid of them. Well, of course.

kesäkuu 20, 5:01 pm

>204 FlorenceArt: Green Colonialism - one always suspects that this might be going on - interesting book

kesäkuu 20, 5:10 pm

Yeah, I guess it’s not a big surprise, but I didn’t expect it to be so systematically organized. Not, I guess, with a conscious colonialist goal, but the underlying ideology and willful ignorance are the same.

Of course the book might exaggerate the systemic aspects, but so many things that I have read here and there take a much more ominous meaning after this.

kesäkuu 20, 6:35 pm

There's been a lot of criticism along these lines but what would happen if nobody tried to fight for preservation? Not being rhetorical, I wonder what does Blanc propose as a solution? It's not like we don't have historical and current cases to contemplate: poaching to extinction, desertification (Madagascar), those examples of long-term devastation (including human settlements, in consequence) Jared Diamond discusses (Greenland, Easter Island).

I appreciate that Africa is a particularly sensitive topic to address and that any issue gets entangled in racism, but generally this type of clash is happening everywhere. In Canada just now:


Because the loggers are mostly white and Canadians relatively far richer than the average African, I feel free to say "fuck them loggers, save the owl". Bloody loggers can get another job. The planet will never have the spotted owl again. Or any of the thousands species we're currently losing daily.

I'm also suspicious of the idyllic renderings of the past. Yes, no doubt pre-technological nations depended far more on nature and had a special relationship to it. But they also existed predominantly in small, mobile units, even where they developed agriculture, that shifted and alternated between regions as necessary. Their footprint of use was far smaller than that of even the earliest urban civilizations in the Middle East. But once introduced to technology, even their type of lifestyle proved unsustainable. Witness the controversy over hunting whales with spears vs. automatic rifles. Respecting onerous and dangerous "tradition" goes out of the window when a deadlier weapon is accessible. It's logical, it's inevitable.

kesäkuu 20, 8:34 pm

Certainly there will be cases where traditional activity hurts the environment and must be curbed. But it would be nice to make sure, before going to the violent extremity of uprooting people and condemning them to a downward spiral of impoverishment, to make sure (1) that there is a problem and (2) what causes it. What is the science behind the idea that agro-pastoralism is good for the French countryside but bad for the Simien mountains, and tourism is good for both? Honestly, what can ever be good about tourism?

Unfortunately much of our conservation efforts are based on idealized and simplified ideas of nature. On misguided attempts to freeze time, or go back to a mostly mythical ideal past state. But why does this idealized past include humans in Europe but not in Africa? If the Cévennes eco-system is the result of millennia of agro-pastoralism, so are the Simien mountains.

There are no pristine, virgin eco-systems that have never been shaped by men. Not in Europe and not in Africa or elsewhere. And condemning a few thousand Ethiopian peasants to poverty is not going to save the planet. If we must intervene in their lives, how about first figuring out how they are helping the environment and how they are hurting it, how about helping them reducing harmful practices and doing things differently?

But before we start doing that, how about we do the same thing for ourselves? How about we question our own impact on the environment and how we can reduce it? How is it that American or European tourists, arriving in the Simien after a plane trip with their high-tech tents, backpacks, hiking boots, clothes, can take the moral high ground when they see apparently abandoned plastic bottles in the camp? (In fact the bottles will be reused,and they were brought here for the tourists in the first place because there is no potable water in the Simien.)

I don't believe we should all go back to being agro-pastors. This would result in wholesale destruction of nature. But if we really want to save the environment, we have to start thinking very hard about the impact of our lifestyle and the capitalist system. There isn't much time left to do that.

kesäkuu 20, 10:13 pm

>208 FlorenceArt:

I agree with you on practically everything, but, again, this is a stumbling block and still a question:

Certainly there will be cases where traditional activity hurts the environment and must be curbed.

How does one "curb" what the indigenous (especially when indigent!) want to do without being a colonialist heavy? Also, my point about tradition was double: 1) that "tradition" needn't be all that great if the humans applying it eventually end up eating/ruining the environment so much they have to move or go extinct and 2) that there is no feasible "return to tradition"--not only has human population everywhere exploded compared to what it was even at the beginning of the 20th century; there is no efficient (nor fair way) to block other people from access to tech. I mean, while I think firing at whales with submachine guns is horrendous, I don't see that I have any sort of ground from which to tell a First Nation that they ought to be using harpoons, at best.

However, I suppose the main point is that conservation of nature and concomitant development of tourism was imagined as a rewarding and therefore sustainable industry, that the locals would profit from that more than if they killed off all the fauna. Obviously if this is not the case, there's a problem. But I still fail to see how would they be better off in the long term if they kill off (as we're actually on the path to do) every last lion and rhino.

Then what? As far as I can tell, those 5000 people in your Ethiopian example face the same dilemma. Sure, to hell with conservation and those ibexes. But--then what?

I would suggest moving, and I would suggest elsewhere that those Ethiopians need to be welcomed with open arms. That's after all what people have done since they existed--left for (hopefully) better pastures. An Ethiopian can live anywhere people live; lions and rhinos cannot.

kesäkuu 21, 6:56 am

I'm not saying to hell with conservation or the ibex. I'm saying we need to look at the facts, make sure what the problem is, and consider other alternatives. Maybe if the ibex and human populations are growing at roughly the same rate, the problem is not the inhabitants? And what is the problem anyway if the ibex population is growing?

I agree with you that there is no going back to tradition, though I don't see where this has been suggested. Sure, if traditional practices are destructive, we need to act on that. Though I don't think it's tradition that is killing off rhinos, it's a market and a very organized international network of poaching and trading. Obviously some local people are going to be in on that. It's not tradition, it's a living. Not to suggest that tradition has more intrinsic value though. If people can make a living and interact with their environment in a non-destructive way, as by all appearances the people of the Simien mountains were doing, I'm all for it, tradition or not. Obviously people who make a living killing rhinos or whales and trading their remains should find another job, tradition or not.

The point is, every case must be considered separately. In the case of the Simien, based on the information I have, it seems to me that uprooting people is unnecessary. I can't speak to other situations, and I don't deny that it may be necessary in some cases. Just as long as we make sure of the facts. And stop comparing real local situations with an imagined edenic past.

kesäkuu 24, 3:22 pm

The Other Alpha's Baby
Viola Grace
Betas in Waiting series, not sure of the number

I have to stop reading those back to back, I'm starting to enjoy them less. Probably reading this one after Sortir de l'hétérosexualité played a role. It still made me smile though!

Also, I just watched two episodes of Babylon 5, and wow, this is good. Really good. Still hate the new opening credits sequence though. Michael O'Hare had a great voice, and Bruce Boxleitner... well, I'm getting used to him as the new station commander, but he doesn't have the same voice.

kesäkuu 28, 11:27 am

Every Heart A Doorway
Seanan McGuire
Wayward Children 1

Not sure what I think about this one. I was enjoying it, and then it was cut short. The ending baffled and frustrated me, but now that I'm over it, I think I want to read the next book.

heinäkuu 1, 8:56 am

>212 FlorenceArt: I really liked the second one, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, with its backstory of Jack and Jill. I didn't care for the third one, but am enjoying the fourth. Kevin/stretch says he found the first one the least compelling of the whole series.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 2, 11:37 am

Got some catching up to do!
Fugitive Telemetry
Martha Wells
Murderbot Diaries 6

The nice thing about forgetting books as soon as I finish them is that I can reread almost indefinitely. I enjoyed this one very much, again.

Short story: The Truth About Owls by Amal El-Mohtar
In The Long List Anthology 1
I liked it very much, it's a moving and delicately told story about a teenager living in difficult times. I'm saying this very badly, just go and read it 😊

On Thursday I visited the Anna-Eva Bergman exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris. This museum is a 5 minute walk from where I work, so of course I almost missed it. It would have been a shame. And how come I never heard of this painter? Any connection with the fact that she was a woman? Anyway I loved it.

heinäkuu 3, 1:32 pm

Les miracles du bazar Namiya

I bought this after reading RidgewayGirl's review of A Death in Tokyo. I am not a great reader of crime novels, and when I read one it's usually for another reason. In this case, the mention of a "fascinating look at life in Japan" appealed to me. But when I found it on the Kobo bookstore, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store appealed much more, so I bought it instead.

I enjoyed it a lot, after some initial disappointment when the excellent fist story was followed by another one that I liked less. The structure of the book revealed itself slowly and showed that the stories are linked by more than just the Namiya mailbox. I was also surprised at how Japanese it feels, and it occurred to me that this is probably the first ever contemporary Japanese book I've read. I should try others. The stories and lives in the book go back and forth in time, and it's funny so see the author take pains to explain the 70's to today's reader. Wait, they had no internet?

I really liked the premise (the unexpected effects of asking for and giving advice) and how it was treated. And I am deeply grateful to the translator, Sophie Refle, who doubtless braved the scorn of her whole profession by having people in the book talk like real people.

heinäkuu 4, 4:45 pm

Love and Other Wild Things
Molly Harper
Mystic Bayou 2
Definitely not as good as the Half-Moon Hollow stuff, but fun.

heinäkuu 5, 6:04 am

>215 FlorenceArt: No internet and no mobile phones, how did people manage back in the 1970's. It would be like explaining to people in the 1970's that there was no television in the 1940's.

heinäkuu 6, 1:52 pm

Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory
Murderbot Diaries 7

Last one of the Murderbot series for now. The next one is announced for November. I need to find something else to read that is simple to follow and with a guaranteed happy ending. I'm getting bogged down in books that have a gazillion characters with multiple storylines and flashbacks, and politics everywhere. They are all good but I need something simpler. I can have one underway that I pick up when I feel up to it, but I started too many. In French we would say "J'ai eu les yeux plus gros que le ventre", meaning I took up more than I can handle. And I keep buying more!

heinäkuu 8, 10:42 am

Yesterday I went to le Louvre to see Naples à Paris. Usually I plan this sort of expedition carefully in order to visit at a time when attendance is not too high, though I guess in the Italian galleries it's always high. This time though, I decided at the last minute and the only time slot I could find for a reservation was 17:30. Tourist attendance was in full swing. The grande galerie is wide enough that you could still circulate freely, but it was very loud and I was very tired at the end. But it was worth it.

The exhibition itself was very interesting. It's not a traditional setup where you have rooms set aside for the exhibition. Here, the paintings on loan from Capodimonte are scattered among the paintings from the permanent collection. So even though the number of paintings loaned is relatively low, there was a lot to see. And the quality of the pieces on loan is astounding. I think they were selected because they complement the permanent collections, which can be lacking for some painters. So the Louvre paintings sometimes paled in comparison, especially for Caravaggio. And I don't think I had ever spent any time in this part of the Italian collections. I got to see a lot of great paintings and some weird ones, like the very mysterious lady on the exhibition poster. And I caught a glimpse of the Victoire de Samothrace, very impressive at the top of a monumental staircase.

I only managed to see the first part of the exhibition, the biggest one with the large paintings. There are two other parts, one on the history of the Capodimonte collection, and the other on drawings. I think I should go back to see that last part.

heinäkuu 8, 11:00 am

Also yesterday, I saw an ad for Paramount+ where I recognized the face of Pike from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I've been wanting to see that for a while but did not actively search as I already have my hands full with TNG, DS9, Voyager and even the original series on Netflix. But I couldn't resist and took a subscription. And then I found out that Strange New World is a spin-off from Discovery, so I guess I should watch that first? It's on Paramount too. They don't have Lower Decks or any of the animated series though, which is just as well I guess.

Aaaand Season 3 of The Orville is now available on Disney+. Oh my, so many things to see!

Oh, and while researching I discovered that Pike is... Captain Christopher Pike from the original Star Trek pilot and The Menagerie? How intriguing.

heinäkuu 8, 11:56 am

>220 FlorenceArt:

I didn't get on with ST Strange New Worlds, it bored me silly. Yes, the Pike character is taken from TOS pilot--this is supposed to precede TOS (just like Discovery). And just like Discovery it of course runs against TOS in looks and philosophy but guess what--the same people who hate Discovery generally like Strange New Worlds. Stick a square-jawed white man in the place "usurped" by a black woman and the anoraks fall silent.

I'm not interested in The Orville for the same reason, just another whiteboy nostalgia trip.

heinäkuu 8, 2:47 pm

I just watched the first episode of Discovery. It was a bit of a shock, I hadn't realized how deeply entrenched in the 90s I was with TNG, DS9 and Voyager. The visual language has completely changed, and everything is faster. Even the Klingons look and sound different(*). It will take some getting used to. But I think I might like it.

(*) They are still black though, something that has always nagged at me. It looks almost like a perfect solution to hide black actors in plain sight.

heinäkuu 8, 6:08 pm

>219 FlorenceArt: That sounds exciting and a strange way of displaying paintings on loan. Tourists at the Louvre do make a lot of noise!

In 2001 at the RCA in London I saw a wonderful exhibition of Italian paintings from the late Renaissance entitled 'The Genius of Rome 1592 - 1623 which contained some Caravaggio's. Some of those paintings you see only once in a lifetime https://www.amazon.com/Genius-1592-1623-Beverly-Louise-Brown/dp/0810966379

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 10, 3:02 pm

As a fan of both shows, the main difference between ST: Discovery and ST: Brave New Worlds has nothing to do with the gender or race of its protagonist; it's that Brave New Worlds is the first of the new generation of Trek shows to return to the optimistic tone of the original. It's also the most episodic of the new shows; Discovery and Picard both got bogged down in season-long story arcs that might have 2-3 episodes of story and were drawn out to 8-10 episodes. Brave New Worlds remembers that Star Trek is supposed to be fun.

heinäkuu 8, 11:00 pm

>222 FlorenceArt:

I'm not expert on this but as far as I recall, the first Klingons (in TOS) were played by actors in brownface, and I'm not at all sure they were Black. I'm also not sure that all the Klingons in ST: TNG were played by Black actors? Worf's girlfriend or wife, for example? Anyway, in Discovery the actors playing Klingons are from various backgrounds--white, Black, Middle-Eastern...-, while the Klingons themselves are showing more variation in skin colour and morphology than ever.

I think you'll find Discovery rewarding if you stick with the first two seasons in particular.

And "Lower Decks" is still fab! Hopefully you'll run into it eventually.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 9, 7:37 am

The subject of men has turned up a few times on my various watchlists recently, and I watched a couple of very interesting videos and read one article.

The shortest (and most recently read) is this article, which raises a lot of good points:
Caitlin Moran: what’s gone wrong for men – and the thing that can fix them

Also short but in French, a very interesting video looking at men from a sociological point of view:
Quel genre de mec est Ben Nevert?
(Apparently Ben Nevert is a well-known YouTuber who gets men to talk about their problems.)
This one is a really good complement to the article above I think.

And from the queen of interminable videos (where nonetheless not a second is too much!), Jesse gender: this one is so long she had to split it in two, and I must watch the second part soon. I will, I swear!
The Myth of "Male Socialization"

heinäkuu 10, 1:29 pm

Having watched the second episode of Discovery, I would tentatively agree with >224 KeithChaffee:. It looks very good so war, but it’s just not Star Trek.

Also, what I said about the era (early 21st century against late 20th aesthetics) is just not true. There were already shows that looked like this (very fast, clipped rhythm) in the 90s I think, and I already had problems watching them. Too fast for me. And on the other hand, The Orville is contemporary and much more Star Trek-like than Discovery.

Anyway, I will keep watching until Pike shows up (unless I tire of it first?) and then I’ll see.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 23, 4:41 pm

Again, I have too many books under way at the same time and I end up finishing the easy ones while the more serious stuff drags on and on. I read two of Viola Grace's Betas in Waiting in a row and out of order: Choosing The Beta (5) and Blood On The Snow (4). I'm happy to report that her more and more numerous sexual partnerships now involve lesbian sex too, which is pretty rare in the books I read, and I feel annoyed that apparently for all those writers, sex is inconceivable without at least one penis in the mix. As always, Viola Grace's stuff is fun, unassuming, full of gender stereotypes, and, well, fun.

Also following way too many SF series at the same time. I just watched episode 3 of Discovery and I think I'm starting to bite the hook. It's not really Star Trek but it's good, and I'm curious to see how it will unfold.

I started collecting the stories recommended by Alex Brown in Must Read Short Speculative Fiction: June 2023. I read the shortest one first and enjoyed it: An Obituary to Birdsong by Tehnuka.

heinäkuu 24, 4:45 pm

Another short story from the June recommendation list: Why You Should Consider Me for Your Master of Dark Arts Program.
It was off to a great start but it didn't manage to keep the dark humor working, and the ending feels flat. A bit of a disappointment.

heinäkuu 28, 1:50 am

The Mimicking of Known Successes
Malka Older

On a strange planet named Giant, a man disappears on an isolated platform. A sort of female Holmes-Watson duo investigates. The story was OK (not extremely convincing I thought, but then I'm not that interested in this kind of plot) but I loved the way the story of the planet, and the personal story of the two protagonists, slowly unfolded. Not unforgettable but enjoyable. Also, as much as I loved the title (probably the main reason I bought the book), I don't see any connection whatsoever with the story.

And I can't resist even though this has nothing to do with the book, but every time I hear/read/talk about a man on a lonely platform, I can't help being transported back to that summer in the 1980s when the radio was playing this constantly.
Fade To Grey.

heinäkuu 28, 4:29 pm

Short story: Four Steps To Hunt A God

This one made me so uneasy that I had to read it twice, because I couldn't really process it the first time. Also because the ending is so unexpected I thought I had missed something. I don't regret reading it twice, it's very short anyway. But the premise (that every world needs a god) still makes me uneasy. But the story is very intriguing. Ok, I'll even admit it's good, despite the distasteful subject matter.

heinäkuu 30, 9:05 am

The Dog of the North
Elizabeth McKenzie

Not the kind of book I usually read, so I'm grateful to RidgewayGirl who called my attention to it. It's a quick and enjoyable read though I'm not sure what to say about it. It seems to manage making an ordinary life look extraordinary, or is it the opposite? My take is that it's about how hard ordinary life can sometimes be, but it's not a dark book, far from it. Penny does her best to manage her oddball family and random acquaintances who seem to pile responsibilities on her, and even though she is often in danger of being pulled under, she manages to remain afloat somehow, and possibly even swim back to shore. In any case, I enjoyed spending some time with her.

elokuu 3, 1:38 am

Martha Wells
Murderbot Diaries

This short story came as a surprise as I wasn't expecting the next Murderbot until November. It was also a big disappointment. It's VERY short, but I knew that when I bought it. But it's also not very well written and a lot of the short length is taken up with info on Murderbot that I already know. I suspect this is very old, maybe the original story from which the series stemmed? Anyway I'll do my best to forget about it.

elokuu 3, 11:52 am

The University of Chicago Press are having a sale on e-books and they keep tempting me. I'm trying to resist buying books I will probably never read, but it's hard!

For what it's worth, here are the ones I have my eyes on:

- The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt, even though I still haven't read The Origins of Totalitarianism, which I own both in paper and electronic versions.
- The Pirates’ Code - Laws and Life Aboard Ship - Rebecca Simon
- The Portraitist - Frans Hals and His World - Steven Nadler
- The Capital Order - How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism - Clara E. Mattei
- A Fistful of Shells - West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution - Toby Green

elokuu 5, 3:54 pm

The Invention of Women
Oyeronke Oyewumi

Although the author did not convince me of her thesis, which is that Yoruba society was genderless before gender was imposed by Western colonizers, I think she makes valid points on the problems of African studies being based on Western (Euro-American) categories and assumptions. Also, I learned a lot about the Yoruba, which is cool because I did not know a thing about them.

I had started to write down why I thought Oyewumi's demonstration was unconvincing and her arguments weak, and then I read this article, which says it much better than I could, and in fact showed me that her reasoning is even weaker than I thought (link is to a pdf file).

She starts by using language as a "proof" that Yoruba culture was genderless. I was a bit doubtful about that, but ok, if backed with other proof it can be acceptable as a starting point. Of course, a genderless language can go perfectly well with a highly gendered (and sexist) culture, see for example Japan. But see the link above for a philosophical rebuttal of the assumptions behind her argument.

I'll forgive her for enrolling the Yoruba pantheon into the discussion, but come on! I'm pretty sure all polytheistic religions have goddesses. And I don't think anyone would characterize the Romans or Greeks as gender egalitarian societies, not to mention genderless. This is about as ridiculous as claiming that fertility goddess statuettes are a proof that society was once matriarcal.

But to be honest, all her arguments are pretty much on the same level of naivety. She even goes as far as claiming statistics are meaningless when they show that women are not equally represented in all trades, because gender is meaningless anyway when it comes to the Yorubas. So there.

I'm writing this as I just finished chapter 3 out of 5. I'd like to finish the book as I do think there is good information there, especially for someone as ignorant as I am on this subject. But I have to admit it's getting a bit difficult to keep reading. The next chapter is about how colonizers imposed gender on the genderless Yoruba. Even though I don't believe the Yoruba were genderless, I'm more than willing to believe that the actions of 19th Century missionaries and colonial administrators had a negative impact on the status of African women.

In addition to the very interesting article linked above, I have gathered some other articles on the subject that I should be reading. And as I follow this trail, I'm adding more books to my ever-expanding wishlist. Such as:

Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in an African Society
Sur la philosophie africaine - Critique de l’ethnophilosophie by Paulin J. Hountondji
Petite histoire de l’Afrique - L’Afrique au sud du Sahara, de la préhistoire à nos jours and also Les africaines by Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch

And I went to the library today but there wasn't much on Africa. I did pick up Afrique subsaharienne, un continent d’histoires, and will buy it if it looks interesting.

Oh, and I already bought Histoire de l’Afrique noire by Joseph Ki-zerbo and should start reading it soon. It's a bit old (1970 something) but apparently it's a classic.

elokuu 6, 12:43 am

"For Wittgenstein, words could be better understood on the model of a rope that consists of a multiplicity of individual fibres: thus, the meanings of words can be better understood in terms of a multiplicity of interrelated usages. Once this model of language is combined with an historical model, it becomes possible to understand meanings as mediated through complex interrelations of different social practices in different contexts, through different discourse and institutions, which invest these concepts with multiple layers of meanings. Thus, the concept of “women” already includes multiple and often contradictory meanings, and is already open to shifts and changes in meaning."

Allison Weir, Sacrificial Logic: Feminist Theory and the Critique of Identity, p.121

Cited by Bibi Bakare-Yusuf in the article linked above

elokuu 6, 10:13 am

Back to Oyewumi and comparing her views to that of other scholars. This is interesting because it shows how the same basic facts can be viewed in a different light depending on what your preconceptions are.

I am reading an article by Yetunde A. Aluko: Patriarchy and Property Rights among Yoruba Women in Nigeria. She presents a much more nuanced and complex situation than Oyewumi's idyllic picture. And her description corroborates some of Bakare-Yusuf's critical comments (see link above).

For Oyewumi, the couple in Traditional Yoruba Society was not an economic unit. Husband and wife shared a responsibility toward raising children and accumulating wealth for them, but their revenues and properties were separate, and they did not inherit from each other. « The inheritance system was predicated on the idea that only consanguinal relations could inherit from one another. Siblings and children of the deceased were the primary beneficiaries. » (p. 56)

This means women had to seek gainful employment, often in trade. (Although Oyewumi vigorously denies that trade is a female activity and agriculture a male one, she implicitly admits that this is predominantly so. But of course that's because of the patriarchy instituted by colonizers.)

Because the Yoruba were an urban society from early on, food did not necessarily have to be prepared at home, and « the practice of cooking food for sale in the streets has a long history in the area » (p. 56). This both provided some women with an opportunity to earn money, and freed others to work, again for money. So to get back to the question at hand, this separation of revenue and property both entailed constraints for women but also gave them some autonomy.

Aluko agrees with this, but views it in a very different way:
« there is no concept of co-ownership of property by couples in traditional Nigerian culture. The presumption being that all substantial property, including the land, belongs to the husband; and the woman herself is virtually considered a form of property – thus, widows have no inheritance rights under these traditional norms. » (p. 2)

« Women in Yoruba culture occupy various positions: mother, wife, daughter, priestess, and even witch (Yetunde A. Aluko, Oluwasegun David Onabanjo, and Nurudeen Alliyu 2011). The way they are perceived depends on the position they occupy. The highest value is given to women as mothers. The Yoruba revere motherhood because they believe the preservation of humanity depends on the role of mothers in society (Babatunde Lawal 1996). However, as wives (Aya), women are still under traditional obligations to be submissive to husbands (Oko). This norm is well captured in the Yoruba popular expression, Oko lolori Aya, which means the husband is the master or crown of the wife and implies the wife’s subservience to the husband in all matters (Odebode 2004).
Nevertheless, even though Yoruba society is patriarchal, the general assumption about women staying at home to do housework and care for the children does not hold for Yoruba women. This is because Yoruba women are customarily expected to earn an income of their own from which a substantial proportion of household expenses may be met. They achieve this by engaging in productive and income-generating activities like teaching and trading, in either the formal (as waged labor) or informal sectors (Carolyne Dennis 1995). Yoruba women are particularly noted for their entrepreneurial activities, which have placed them in an economically advantageous position when compared with women in other parts of the country and in other cultural settings who may not be expected or encouraged to engage in paid activities (Odebode 2004; Akinpelu Olanrewaju Olutayo 2005; McIntosh 2009). In an insightful study on women’s contributions to household expenditures in Nigeria, Sarah Gammage (1997) shows that Yoruba women have a much higher share of contribution compared to other ethnic groups. Despite this, van Staveren and Odebode 2007 have argued that having property rights and economic power among Yoruba women is not sufficient for them to exercise bargaining power when laws/rules/institutions favor men, for example, in the case of child custody after a divorce or separation. » (p. 5-6)

I have to note that Oyewumi gives a different meaning to the words aya (here translated as wife) and oko (husband). According to her, aya meant someone who had moved into the family compound, and oko were the ones who were born in it. And according to the seniority-based hierarchy, an aya was inferior to anyone already residing in the compound before her arrival. And guess who usually moved into her husband’s compound? The wife, of course. Which is a great example of a tradition that is not nominally gender-based, but in practice ends up being gender-asymmetric. And one of the big problems with Oyewumi's theory is that she ignores completely this kind of implicit sexism hiding under another kind of hierarchy.

So, of course you could argue, and Oyewumi does, that the sexist part of "tradition" was in fact introduced by missionaries and colonial administrators who projected their notions onto Yoruba society. But I find it very hard to believe that said Yoruba society was entirely free of gender prejudices. And Oyewumi does not offer any proof of this.

elokuu 6, 12:59 pm

Caught By The Hunter
Viola Grace
Distant Fairy Tales 2

Every time I finish a book by Viola Grace, I swear I'm off them. They are a bit repetitive after a while. But I will probably pick up another one in a few days.

elokuu 7, 10:52 am

Am enjoying very much your discussion of The Invention of Women and related issues. Thanks for taking the time to summarize and comment.

elokuu 7, 11:52 am

>239 labfs39: Thanks! I am enjoying this too 😁

Muokkaaja: elokuu 12, 3:27 am

A Little Too Familiar
Lish McBride

Wow, this book is a huge bundle of cute woke feelgood. Not that I'm complaining, I loved it! For once I got my romance fix with no sexist stereotype attached. Of course I guess it's still full of stereotypes, but I like these better. Plus it has a bunch of lovable characters, including a baby phenix, two ferrets and a flock of pigeons. And it's funny too. The ending leaves open the possibility of a sequel, I hope there will be one. Oh wait, Rough Around the Hedges will be out tomorrow, I just pre-ordered it.

elokuu 12, 2:30 am

BB for A Little Too Familiar - sounds perfect.

elokuu 12, 3:28 am

>242 jjmcgaffey: I enjoyed it a lot, I hope you do too.

elokuu 13, 8:56 am

Big Vamp on Campus
Molly Harper
Half-Moon Hollow 5.5 (and the numbering on this series is so bewildering I have to check the Fantastic Fiction website each time)

Was reluctant to pick this one up as Ophelia is a very unlikable character, but it was fun, like always, and I ended up not unliking her so much.

elokuu 13, 11:45 pm

Tea and Sympathetic Magic
Tansy Rayner Roberts
Teacup Magic 1

A fun little book. Magical victorian romance is not really my cup of tea (ha ha), but this is good for an hour of light fun.

elokuu 14, 6:28 am

elokuu 14, 8:42 am

>246 Dilara86: Thanks! It’s a collection of articles from the magazine L’Histoire I think, organized in a roughly chronological way. Each one is short so that’s a good choice to read in the metro. I think I will finish it before I tackle Petite histoire de l’Afrique, which presumably gives a more high-level view.

elokuu 15, 12:47 pm

Chapter 3 of The Invention of Women is not what I expected. Should have paid more attention to the overview in the intro. It is however very interesting, and more convincing than the previous ones, though I feel there may be some cherry-picking.

What this chapter is about is, I guess you could call it "the Western gaze". That is, how Euro-American scholarship is regarding the Yoruba through western lenses. As for example in the case of Yoruba "kings".

Considering that most words in the Yoruba language, including those describing social/political roles, and proper names, are gender neutral, and that there is no explicit assignment of certain roles or occupations to a certain gender, it does seem a bit suspicious that there are so few women in the lists of Yoruba rulers compiled by historians. And there are clues and sometimes hard proof that some were in fact misgendered. And even the few aknowledged women are described as regents, or treated as exceptions.

In fact, given the context described above, it is impossible to know for sure how many of these kings were actually queens. (Which in itself is a western biased statement, since the Yoruba terms are gender-neutral and would better be translated as rulers.) But it's a safe bet that the number is certainly higher than what historians usually recognize.

I am less convinced by the part about art, this is where I feel that there is some cherry-picking. However this was an opportunity to learn about the mysterious stone figures of Esiẹ, about which there is remarkably little information to be found on the net. She cites a book called Yoruba : nine centuries of African art and thought and picks the most gendered descriptions she could find of the statuettes. I checked the book on archive.org and feel that she is exaggerating this, although there may be a gender bias in the descriptions, in fact it's practically certain there is one given who wrote it and when. And by the way, the book looks very interesting and has some great photos of the statuettes. I added it to my favorites on archive.org and will probably get back to it, if only to look at the pictures.

What annoys me though, is the simplistic way in which Oyěwùmí seems to view power structures. She often talks as if there could only be one kind of social hierarchy. Yes, gender is a powerful ideology structuring western society, but it’s not the only way we classify human beings. And I get her argument that the structure of pre-colonial Yoruba society was primarily based on lineage and relative age, but that doesn’t mean that gender did not exist. I see no reason why gender lines could not cross and interact with other social structures, just as they do here at home.

I do admit though that gender in old Yoruba societies looks to be very different from what we are used to, and what is theorized by western feminism. Also, I think the fact that Africa was mostly colonized in the 19th century has imposed on African societies what may be the worst kind of sexism Europe has ever known.

elokuu 16, 4:53 pm

Dropped by another library after work today, and came away with an Atlas historique de l'Afrique that looks very, very interesting. And it has maps! Lots of maps! Which should be useful to help me understand better the other books I'm reading. I am spatially challenged and it's hard for me to understand some of the descriptions, especially when ancient kingdoms, empires or general areas are situated differently from today's states bearing the same name. I'm about halfway through Un continent d'histoires and there are very few maps, but it's an easy and very interesting read.

elokuu 17, 2:49 am

Unfortunately that last one is not as great a catch as I thought. The author seems to be an extremely unpleasant character, full of himself and of pro-colonial and racial prejudice. That's a shame because I really like his maps. But I had a look at a couple of Amazon reviews, and it seems he is not above distorting the facts even. I feel cheated and a little humiliated. Oh well.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 18, 12:56 pm

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Sangu Mandanna

Another bundle of woke feelgoodness. Aren't I lucky? Well, if you can call it luck when I put down a couple of books before I stumbled on this one. Apparently it's the only kind of fiction I can tolerate right now. It's not as fun as the previous one (>241 FlorenceArt:, no connection but similar wokeness) and the plot has some holes in it, but it was nice.

elokuu 18, 10:35 pm

I loved the Very Secret Society, so I'm now looking forward even more to A Little Too Familiar. I've got it, just have to get around to it (a bunch of new releases by favorite authors in the last couple weeks are delaying it).

elokuu 19, 5:00 pm

2023-08-19 Livre
The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf
Molly Harper
Naked Werewolf 2

This is one of the books I put down in favor of The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, but I picked it up again. Definitely not as good as the Half-Moon Hollow series. And now that I know that it’s possible to read fantasy romance without all the stupid stereotypes, I feel less forgiving. It seems that werewolves are more stereotypy than vampires. I suppose because they are supposed to be in touch with their animal side, and everyone knows that animals are all sex-obsessed male chauvinists. Oh, and of course they have an irresistible urge to "protect" their daughters and sisters. That is, they think they are entitled to a veto right on whom said sister or daughter chooses to have sex with. I can't even.

And the wedding obsession, urgh.

elokuu 19, 5:51 pm

"Naked werewolf" only makes me think of nude mice and similar hairless critters.

elokuu 20, 12:59 am

>254 LolaWalser: Aw, poor little hairless critters! No, it’s not like that. Werewolves are naked because when they “phase” (the word they use in this book), they leave their clothes behind.

elokuu 20, 1:29 am

>255 FlorenceArt:

But, but, but a werewolf is an animal and animals aren't naked without clothes.

Except, I heard, for monkeys. Monkeys wear trousers. (This post brought to you by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my source for all things supernatural and monkey.)

Muokkaaja: elokuu 20, 4:01 am

Well of course monkeys wear trousers. And they play the drums too, right?

And werewolves become naked when they phase back to human, which seems an endless source of embarrassment, because _gasp_ penis.

elokuu 20, 4:01 am

I discovered the podcast Les Couilles sur la table (Balls on the Table) recently, and since Méta de choc is on hiatus for the summer and I need something to listen to while I cook or do my physio exercises, I've been rummaging through past episodes and found this series: Nous faire justice, about sexual and sexist violence and the implications of the #MeToo movement. The first episode, Comprendre, gave me a lot to think about, especially the last part about opening a dialog with authors of violence. I feel uneasy about the fact that they praise Sarah Schulman's Conflict is not abuse, and well, see >63 FlorenceArt: above and also One Giant Red Flag, Folded Into A Book. But I can't dispute the fact that prison does not solve anything. Can dialog do better? I'm a bit skeptical and also frustrated that Lauren Bastide did not cite any source for her assertion that yes, it can. But as she says, given the environment we live in and the "rape culture", we all have at least one friend who committed sexual or sexist violence, and this may be an ordinarily perfectly likable person. That's a really disturbing thought.

elokuu 20, 4:49 am

Another excellent short story from tor.com, found in The Long List Anthology:

A Kiss with Teeth by Max Gladstone

elokuu 21, 8:36 am

>257 FlorenceArt: "And werewolves become naked when they phase back to human . . . "

This issue is handled really interestingly by Stephen Graham Jones in his excellent novel, Mongrels.

elokuu 21, 9:33 am

>260 rocketjk: I think I remember reading your review of it. It did sound like an interesting take on this old trope.

elokuu 21, 10:10 am

>261 FlorenceArt: Yes, interesting, indeed, and, I think, in some ways an allegory for Native American life in contemporary America.

elokuu 27, 12:44 pm

Rough Around the Hedges
Lish McBride
Uncanny Romance 2
Unsurprisingly it wasn't as good as the first one, less funny I think. But still, it was cute and cuddly and oh so woke, and I enjoyed it very much. There will be a third book apparently, but not right away I suppose, since this one just got out.

elokuu 28, 7:29 am

The Ex Hex
Erin Sterling

Bought because of the title, of course! Nice little romance.

syyskuu 2, 11:02 am

Two new books from authors I love, neither of them disappointed.

Resonance Surge by Nalini Singh - Psy-Changeling Trinity 7, or is it 8?
Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

syyskuu 3, 3:26 am

This morning I happened on a Twitter/X thread about Martin Luther King (thread is in French but the MLK quotes are in English).

I have to confess that if I ever thought about Martin Luther King, it was as a historical figure that was important in the civil rights movement, but never as a theoretician whose thought still had any relevance today.

Obviously I was very, very wrong about that.

Now thinking maybe I should read something about or from him.

syyskuu 6, 4:22 pm

Accidental Sire
Molly Harper
Half-Moon Hollow 6

I might be getting a bit tired of this series. Still fun, but not as funny as when I started reading it.

syyskuu 6, 4:53 pm

>266 FlorenceArt:

If I may suggest... Democracy Now has a number of excellent reports that do MLK's radicalism justice, contrary to the liberal distortions his legacy had had to contend with. I recommend (in no particular order and of course if you search you'll find more):

"King: A Life": New Bio Details FBI Spying & How MLK's Criticism of Malcom X Was Fabricated (28 min)

In his own words:

MLK Opposed “Poverty, Racism & Militarism” in Speech One Year Before His Assassination 53 Years Ago

syyskuu 7, 7:13 am

>268 LolaWalser: Thanks, I’ll have a look. I have wishlisted Where Do We Go From Here, though honestly I’m not sure I will ever get to it.

I also wishlisted Les Damnés de la terre by Franz Fanon, and I might pick up Cahier d’un retour au pays natal when I visit the library tomorrow. It’s strange because Aimé Césaire seems to be more available in translation than in French. Even the copy at the library is a bilingual edition, French and English. I couldn’t find a digital edition of Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, but again there is a bilingual edition of The Complete Poetry of Aimé Césaire.

syyskuu 7, 7:26 am

In a weird turn of event, I decided to take a break from short and easy comfort reading to start on Ovid's Metamophoses. After some internet research, I opted for the most recent (I think) French translation by Marie Cosnay. I read the preface and started on the poem itself this morning on the train. I like it so far, but it does require attention and concentration I am sorely lacking in these days. So we'll see.

syyskuu 7, 7:27 am

>270 FlorenceArt: Wow, that's a big jump, Florence. I hope Ovid treats you kindly. Good luck!

syyskuu 7, 1:08 pm

>271 labfs39: Thank you! It will probably take me ages to finish it, but I am enjoying it very much so far. I just finished the vivid description of the Flood. I was a bit worried about the translation, from the review I read, but it works beautifully for me. Though it's probably not suited to the metro/commuter train. But I will be on holiday next week so...

syyskuu 8, 7:44 am

>270 FlorenceArt: Good luck with Metamophoses. I am going to start L'Heptaméron by Marguerite de Nevarre soon (modern french translation) which will probably take me as long to read as your Metamophoses. My reading has been inspired by a recent trip to Nerac (where we stayed to sample the delights of a new restaurant called Mr Guss). We visited the Chateau; now called Chateau de Henri IV (grandson of Margurite) which had a copy of the Heptaméron in the gift shop.

syyskuu 8, 8:07 am

>273 baswood: Correction: it is not a modern translation it is in vieux française and so it will take even longer.

syyskuu 8, 10:16 am

>274 baswood: Good luck with the Heptameron. Old French is too difficult for me. It always feels easy when I begin reading, and then I get confused really quick.

syyskuu 9, 3:22 pm

While reading Ovid, I think that I will frequently need to check the background stories that he didn't need to describe in detail. Sometimes he just drops a name, like Python, and I have to look it up. Of course Wikipedia is probably the easiest way to do this, but still I went in search of books on Greek and Latin mythology. I found a couple, both dated from the 19th century and therefore available for free or next to nothing.

Mythologie grecque et romaine by Pierre Commelin seems pretty good, clearly written and detailed. I found a few words on Python in the chapter on Apollo.

But then of course I had to go and download another. Petit cours de mythologie by Eugène Geruzez. And... I... words fail me. But of course I will try.

The introduction is dedicated to "explaining" mythology, which is idolatry because there is only one true God, but it's also worth studying because.. well, because after God created the world, He made Himself known to men, but after a while they forgot and started to sin, so there was the Flood, and then after that they forgot again, and this leads us to those poor Greeks. They had forgotten about the true God, so in their fumbling way they made up stories to explain the world, and these stories somehow contain some vague echo of the truth.

At this point, although I was deeply impressed by the amount of wilful blindness it takes to hold such beliefs, I thought that maybe once we got that out of the way, the book might contain some useful information.

So I continued on to Chaos, and... oh my.

After a summary of the beginnings of the world as described by Hesiod, we get to the successive Ages (Gold, Silver, Bronze, Iron). So far so good. And then we have to stop and ponder the meaning of all this. Which, strangely enough, totally validates 19th century Christian morals. Told you there was some hint of truth down deep below all those heathen myths.

Well, that was fun, in a very bewildering way, but I think I've had quite enough of that. I'll stick to Commelin from now on, thank you very much.

syyskuu 9, 3:43 pm

>276 FlorenceArt:

The problem with older references on mythology (or even many newer ones) is that they frequently or habitually have a strong misogynist bias. Of course, Ovid himself is one of the major sources of misogynistic interpretations, but that makes it all the more imperative, imo, to look for different and complementary perspectives. Robert Graves, for example, lists exhaustively variants on myths, to the point that it's often impossible to construct a single story. Perhaps the easiest thing would be to consult a feminist source but I don't know of a handy singular reference or what might be available to you. They ought to be available piecemeal online (or, if memory serves, even on Wikipedia, for some characters at least, like Medusa or Ariadne or Philomela or Myrrha etc.)

However, to begin with if you are really starting from scratch and need even to situate the characters first, Pierre Grimal's Dictionnaire de la mythologie grecque et romaine is exhaustive, more so than the ubiquitous Larousse. Just the caveat, again, that this is more valuable as a basic who-is-who and genealogy, than interpretatively.

syyskuu 9, 4:02 pm

Btw, just the other day I came across this intriguing piece (with annoyingly clickbaity title) about reconsiderations of gender in interpretations of myths, maybe it'll interest you--my bolding:

Pourquoi prétendre que les déesses grecques n'étaient pas des femmes ?


Dans l'une de ses nombreuses études sur la Grèce antique, l'historienne Nicole Loraux a répondu à la question en affirmant qu'il fallait partir de l'idée qu'une déesse n’était pas une femme. C'était une façon de se démarquer des analyses simplistes de ses collègues qui voyaient dans chaque déesse l’incarnation d’un aspect ou d’un type féminin : Déméter étant la mère, Héra étant l’épouse, Aphrodite étant la prostituée, etc. ...

syyskuu 9, 4:44 pm

>277 LolaWalser: Thanks for the recommendation. Unfortunately Grimal’s dictionary doesn’t seem to be available in digital format. I’m just looking for the stories, not for an interpretation, christian or not. I have a dictionary by Annie Collognat. I didn’t find Python at first, but now I see he does get a mention in it.

syyskuu 9, 4:48 pm

>278 LolaWalser: That makes sense, I think.

syyskuu 9, 7:09 pm

>279 FlorenceArt:

Well that's the thing--the "stories" that everyone knows, the most popular retellings, from Ovid's to our times, are typically one-sided misogynistic tales. Misogynists perpetuate misogyny by choosing misogynistic interpretations, whereas in reality the myths varied from place to place (sometimes wildly and often in complete conflict), and were presumably understood differently depending on specific elements and use. In any case, the variety demands multiple interpretations, or at least awareness that "what everyone knows" is biased or at best incomplete.

For a relatively simple example of what I'm talking about:

The Timeless Myth of Medusa, a Rape Victim Turned Into a Monster

Btw, not sure what you mean by Christianity in regard to this, that wasn't on my mind at all. Christianity generally pretended nothing pagan deserved to exist (I'm actually not aware of any formal Christian interpretations of ancient myths...)

syyskuu 9, 9:20 pm

>281 LolaWalser: I was referring to my post that you replied to. Yes, I know that Greek mythology is misogynistic because it comes from a misogynistic society. Rape is a frequent pattern, and so is rape victims being punished, and no I don’t think it’s OK but I don’t need anybody to explain it to me, just as I don’t need the “morals” of it explained to me by Géruzez. I’m just looking for the stories.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 10, 2:24 pm

>282 FlorenceArt:

I'm sorry I didn't express it well, my intention wasn't to explain the myths to you but to draw attention to something that was new to me until fairly recently--that every Greek myth we've inherited, in ancient times had multiple and conflicting versions. Maybe I should have just noted Graves and left it at that.

syyskuu 10, 2:54 pm

>283 LolaWalser: Ah, now I see. I’ve been aware of that, but now that you mention it, I guess that those 19th century (male) scholars like Commelin or Géruzez got to act as gatekeepers and select which version came to be known as "the" story in the West. I will look up Graves.

syyskuu 25, 6:43 am

Finished two not so great romances :

The Beautiful Ashes
Jeaniene Frost
Broken Destiny 1

I'd forgotten that her writing was not great. I did finish this book and started on the next one, but it turned out to be much too religious for me, so DNF.

Dark Prince
Michelle Pillow
Qurilixen Dragon Lords 3

At least no religion in this one. No subtlety either and the writing is mediocre, but, well, I was out of well written comfort reading, so.