Fri 6/5 Netflix Sense8 - Netflix will bring Georgeville Television's Sense8, a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted, exclusively to its members to watch instantly in late 2014. The 10 episode season one of Sense8 marks the first foray into television by the Wachowskis, the creative geniuses behind Bound, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, V for Vendetta, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas, and is the latest project from veteran show runner J. Michael Straczynski , creator of the Hugo Award-winning Babylon 5 TV series and whose film credits include Changeling, Thor and Underworld Awakening.

Fri 6/12 Netflix Orange Is The New Black (okay not scifi but still!) - Piper, Red, Suzanne, Taystee, Poussey, Sophia, Nicky, Daya, Gloria, Big Boo, Pennsatucky and all of Litchfield's ladies are back for more drama and Alex makes her return and a new inmate, Stella (Ruby Rose) joins the gang. And there will be more! Netflix today announced that there will be a season four of the series, coming exclusively to Netflix in 2016. Orange is the New Black has garnered more than 20 awards including three Emmy Awards, two SAG Awards, two AFI honors, three Critic's Choice Television Awards, one NAACP Image Award, one PGA Award, two GLAAD Media Awards, and is a recipient of a Peabody Award and a Television Critics' Association (TCA) Award.

Fri 6/12 SyFy Defiance (i'm going to try it again) - Defiance is the story of a ravaged planet Earth thirty-five years in the future, the lives of its citizens permanently altered following the sudden arrival of seven alien races. In this unknown and unpredictable landscape, the diverse, newly-formed civilization of humans and aliens must learn to co-exist peacefully. Following the events of last season's cliffhanger finale, the series' two-hour Season 3 premiere opens on the eve of an impending military siege - and the surprise arrival of the mysterious and nearly extinct Omec, an alien race of warriors. The new season features cast additions Lee Tergesen (The Americans) as military leader General Rahm Tak, Nichole Galicia (Django Unchained) as Kindzi and Conrad Coates (The Strain) as her father, T'evgin.

Fri 6/12 SyFy Dark Matter (hopefully Mallozzi and Mullie can keep their shit together for this series) - In the new original series Dark Matter, the crew of a derelict spaceship awakens with no memories of who they are or how they got there. Facing threats at every turn, they have to work together to survive a voyage fueled by vengeance, betrayal and hidden secrets. Created by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, executive producers and writers of the Stargate franchise, and developed with Prodigy Pictures (Lost Girl), the series features Melissa O'Neil (Broadway's Les Miserables), Marc Bendavid (Bitten), Anthony Lemke (White House Down), Alex Mallari Jr. (Robocop) and Jodelle Ferland (Twilight), with Roger Cross (The Strain) and Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl). The 13 one-hour episodes are based on the graphic novel Dark Matter, also by Mallozzi and Mullie, published by Dark Horse Comics.

Fri 6/19 SyFy Killjoys (with the Ashmore twin) - Killjoys follows a fun-loving, hard living trio of interplanetary bounty hunters sworn to remain impartial as they chase deadly warrants throughout the Quad, a distant system on the brink of a bloody, multi-planetary class war. From Temple Street Productions, the producers of Orphan Black, and writer and showrunner Michelle Lovretta, creator of Lost Girl, the original, 10-episode Syfy series stars Hannah John-Kamen (Black Mirror), Luke Macfarlane (Brothers & Sisters) and Aaron Ashmore (Warehouse 13).

so...yay June!
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
([personal profile] jazzfish May. 27th, 2015 09:52 pm)
Words: 658
Total words: 658
Neat things: "Fish and fishfolk circled below her." Questionable, unstable, and possibly-explosive technology.

New project, from a scrap of an idea I wrote down years ago (thanks to Vesper for being a note-taking app that's a delight to use, even though I'm only using the barest minimum of its functionality).

I have a setting, a Spunky Young Protagonist, and a general sense of brightly-colored fast-paced action. I know the next couple of scenes, and beyond that I have no idea whatsoever where this thing is going, or even how long it wants to be. To paraphrase Vincent "Apocalpyse World" Baker, Write to find out.

Eventually I'm going to need a title, but that can come with the plot.

"Weren't you writing something else?" Yep. New project is a result of stalling out on "Blood On Her Hands And A Stone At Her Throat," partly because I am unsure of the proper capitalisation for the honking long title but mostly because I can't come up with a plot climax to fit the emotional climax I want. This may be a case of being kneedeep in a story and thinking it's terrible (step 3, or possibly 4, of Marcus Romer's six steps of the creative process) but I'm pretty sure it's more than just that. It Does Not Work on a fundamental level and I just can't get it to work.

My options include "write it anyway," which I am not thrilled by, "rip the middle of the story apart again and rewrite it," which I am not thrilled by, and "set it aside for awhile and come back to it later," which I am not thrilled by but which at least doesn't make me want to tear my hair out. Hence, new project.
sineala: Detail of Harry Wilson Watrous, "Just a Couple of Girls" (reading)
([personal profile] sineala May. 27th, 2015 08:58 pm)
What I Just Finished Reading

Andrew MacKenzie, Archaeology in Romania: The History of the Roman Occupation: Last minute Dacia research for the RBB! There was actually some interesting stuff about the standing stones at Sarmizegethusa here, but mostly the book was more political than I was expecting for an archaeology survey, being as it mostly wanted to make the point that Transylvania had been inhabited for a really, really long time and was therefore not empty, and not rightfully the territory of the invading Hungarians.

What I'm Reading Now

Comics Wednesday!

I thought that the A-Babies and X-Babies thing was supposed to be this week, but it is apparently next week. Aww. My picks for the Secret Wars weirdness this week:

MODOK Assassin #1: I... what. What.

Secret Wars 2099 #1: I have no way to describe this except "deeply weird corporate future dystopia."

Secret Wars Journal #1: The "Young Avengers do a medieval heist" story was cool.

X-Men '92 #1: This is a Battleworld realm set in the canon of the 1992 X-Men animated cartoon series. YES YES YES. ALL THE NOSTALGIA. IT IS AWESOME. AWESOME.

Anyway, uh... definitely read the X-Men one, if you were ever into that. It starts with them playing laser tag at the mall, okay? It is THE BEST.

What I'm Reading Next

I guess Naomi Novik's novel? I also really want to get started on the giant swath of Marvel canon I need to read to write the BB. Because, yes, now it's time to start thinking about the Big Bang fic.
batwrangler: Just for me. (Default)
([personal profile] batwrangler May. 27th, 2015 08:41 pm)
Including my kitchen sink this morning.

More accurately: the drain pipe magically unscrewed itself from the sink's outlet so that the water I was using to wash dishes ended up on the floor. I noticed this fairly quickly, came to the conclusion that it wasn't fixable before I had to leave for work, and called N to let him know. He finished disassembling the relevant bits, took them up to the hardware store for replacement bits, also ran out of pre-work time, and handed the project back to me.

After poking things a bit, I have come to the tentative conclusion that the threads on the original metal bits may be gunked up rather than corroded and have decided to see if I can clean them with a soak in Draino rather than swapping them out for thinner, plastic bits that will have to be cut down with a hack saw. We shall see.

ETA: The metal nut was actually cracked and couldn't be reused. The metal connecting pipe was salvageable. The drain portion of my sink is back together and appears watertight. The sprayer faucet seems to have some sort of leak, though.
Written and read by Helen Macdonald.

Helen has lovely voice and reads beautifully, but I think this would have been better titled "G is for Grief" as it seems to be mostly about Helen training a goshawk because she can't deal with her father's death, and also largely a sort of biography of T.H. White's unhappy life and how that sabotaged his goshawk training (as outlined in his book The Goshawk, which apparently had a great influence on Helen Macdonald as a youngster).

I think this is because it turns out that a modern falconer training a goshawk with humane, positive-reinforcement-based methods results in a pretty good relationship between hawk and austringer and not the sort of drama that would fill up a book on its own? Which is a shame, because I really liked the bits about that part. (There's also a lesson in there about observational bias and getting what you expect out of the animal with which you are working, which is maybe a bit self-evident and maybe not so much.)

This was a library book, and I had something of a slog to get through it before it expired (and I'd have had to wait weeks and weeks for it to be available again if I wanted to finish) because I wasn't sure I was interested enough in T.H. White to get to the end, but the final third of the book talks more about Helen's own experiences with her goshawk Mabel and there is some lovely nature writing shot throughout.

Ultimately, though, Helen's father's death was not very much like my father's death, and her grief was not very much like my grief, nor did it seem to offer me any insight into grief in general. It just made me unhappy for her in her loss and self-isolation and unhappy about T.H. White's horrible parents, miserable childhood, and lonely life.

For what it's worth, practically the whole world knew this was a memoir about grief going into it and even gave it awards as such, so I really don't have much of an excuse for expecting a book primarily about goshawk training. In short, this was not the book I was looking for, I was not the target audience for it, and we failed to connect.
Just finished

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi. Magical realism still isn't my cup of tea but somehow this story grabbed me. Stories who have identity as the main theme usually do. I am still very impressed OYeyemi apparently wrote this when she was still studying for her A levels. You can tell this was a debut novel (the ending felt particularly rushed) but I'm looking forward to reading her more recent work.

The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlesssness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron. [ profile] silviarambles recommended this to me. If it hadn't been for her I would never dreamt of picking up such a book. Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun, this book is very spiritual and yet still approachable for non-Buddisht, non-meditation-practicing people like me. It was still very much out of my comfort zone and I can't say I liked it, but it gave me lots of food for thoght. I thought Chodron's analysis of the causes of pain and suffering in this day and age was particularly spot on, and her observations on the misguided ways we try to cope with this pain very sharp. This is not a book that gives you any clear answers or prescriptions and 'how-to's and perhaps that's why it left me with a powerful 'Now what?' feeling. But I'll be sure to re-read it (in small chunks) at some point in the future.

The Stars' Tennis Ball by Stephen Fry. This is apparently inspired by The Count Of Monte Cristo. Having never read the original, I wouldn't know how it compares. I adore Stephen Fry as a writer, his love for words and his humour shine through whatever he writes but I think The Stars' Tennis Ball is one of his weaker offerings. The plot is a bit improbable, but I was more than willing to overlook the plot holes and general WTFery for good story-telling, and I did just that in the first 2/3s of the book..but when it came to the last third, everything felt too rushed and the characters became cardboard cut-out versions of themselves.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. A really enjoyable high fantasy tale, with a sympathetic hero, an amazingly detailed world-building (complete with its own language, structured enough to deserve an appendix at the end of the book, à la Tolkien) and lots of political intrigue and even a touch of a mystery. It surprisingly featured little violence and darkness, as it was at its heart the story of a decent bloke thrown in at the deep end and learning to make the most of his new lot. Perhaps I'm selling the book short, though, as it also handles sexuality, class, race, social change and not least abuse rather well, IMO.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I think I am one of the few people who was not wowed by the >Temeraire books (indeed I never got the urge to read past the first instalment in the series), so I was not scrambling to read Novik's new standalone book. Someone on DW (I think [personal profile] cofax7?) wrote a really positive review that piqued my interest, though, and I decided to give it a go. Blimey, I'm glad I did! This is the retelling of a traditional Polish fairytale (possibly more than one fairytales mashed-up together? It's got quite a bit of Polish folklore, I think - btw [ profile] tediousandbrief, I think you might like this because of the Polish connection?) and it seems deceptively simple, at the start, what with its stereotypical fairytale setting and incipit. However, things get a distinctive twist rather quickly (and soon get quite dark as well, there's a lot of violence and fighting sequence that are awesome, especially if you're into that sort of thing). I got sucked right in and devoured the book during a single weekend.

Currently reading

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. My first Miéville fantasy/sci-fi novel for grown-ups. The world-building and the language are even more masterful than in Unlondon, but the narrative pace is a bit slow-going and I'm having a bit of a hard time getting into the story. I'm only just 12% in the book, though, so I'm confident it will get better. It is a rather long book, after all. And the two characters I've been introduced to so far (a scientist and an artist, who are in an interracial - or actually interspecies - secret relationship) are very interesting. Plus, the city of New Crobuzon and the whole world are very much a character on their own and I'm just a sucker for stories with a strong sense of place.

To read next

I haven't decided yet. As usual, if you have any recommendations, please share.
liseuse: (lord cobham)
([personal profile] liseuse May. 27th, 2015 09:20 pm)
What Are You Reading (Actually On A!) Wednesday:

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson.
So, I bought this aaaaaages ago and then my aging computer and ereader stopped playing nicely together, so I had it sitting on my computer and was unable to actually read it. Which was immensely frustrating. New shiny tablet, however, let me download it and I am now reading it and I am loving it. There is assumed bisexuality and polyamory and it is about the power and role of art and how technology and life interact.

What did you recently finish reading?

Nineteen Seventy Four (Red Riding Quartet, #1), by David Pearce.
I was enjoying this when I wrote my last Reading Wednesday post and then I carried on reading it and got sort of progressively less thrilled. The problem is that it was very true to its particular setting and time, and that is just miserable. So so so much sexual violence - which, I know, hasn't gone away, but written perfectly for the 70s in the North and it was just grim. Maybe not the sort of book to finish reading when your mother has just died and your emotions are raw? I might read the others in the quartet at some point in the future but right now I'm not actively seeking them out.

Funeral Games, by Mary Renault.
I did enjoy this, even though it broke my heart a few times. What was fascinating was seeing how fractured the book was, and its characters were once the centralising, organising, charismatic force of Alexander was gone. The memory of him and his style of leadership only carries people so far and then it all disintegrates.

Merivel: A Man of His Time by Rose Tremain.
I can't make up my mind about this. There were parts of it that I felt did work and worked very well, and then parts that seemed incredibly indulgent and a bit ploddy or just unnecessary - there's a strange sexual encounter in a cart that served very little purpose. But, for fluffy historical fiction it was fine.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I was hoping that the answer to this would be Kate Atkinson's latest, A God in Ruins which is a semi-sequel to Life After Life, which I loved. But! I just checked the library reserve list and I am number 21. Which might be a good thing, because I suspect I need to re-read Life After Life before A God in Ruins or I'm going to be really confused.
Previously unread.

This is the second of N Twenty Palaces books. Like the first one, it's a fast-paced read, wit hhorrible things, happening to horrible and less horrible people. Nonetheless, there's good reading to be had and there's some more insight into Ray's personality and psyche.
mrs_sweetpeach: (Default)
([personal profile] mrs_sweetpeach May. 27th, 2015 08:57 am)
Click here for Week 21 )
andrewducker: (Default)
([personal profile] andrewducker May. 27th, 2015 12:00 pm)
sraun: birthday cake (cake birthday)
([personal profile] sraun May. 27th, 2015 05:44 am)
Happy Birthday [ profile] grayricci, [ profile] mplsfish & [ profile] samwinolj
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
([personal profile] dglenn May. 27th, 2015 04:42 am)

"Danger and anger are everywhere. Love is the rarity, the gem buried in the core of the mine, the outpost of God." -- Loren, narrator of Metallic Love (2005, Bantam Books) by Tanith Lee (b. 1947-09-19, d. 2015-05-24)

echan: Kaworu Nagisa from Evangelion (Default)
([personal profile] echan May. 27th, 2015 01:09 am)
I've been going to the gym lately. I've had a membership to a YMCA nearby but have had poor luck going consistently in the past. At least the Y is charity-like, so all those months I paid for nothing I can tell myself it was a donation.

I try to go every day -- wake up, roll out of bed and into clothes and off to the gym before everything but xanax. It was much harder trying to go on a schedule; it made every day require too much thought, decisions, anxiety. Now, I don't make it every day, but I try to.

I have no gym goals. I tend to see far off into the future, goal-wise. Occasionally that long view is motivating. The rest of the time the distance feels impossible, the small actions today an insignificant amount of progress, and the whole thing becomes a depressing failure.

A scorecard for my gym excursions would look something like this:
  • wake up at reasonable / earlyish hour
  • leave apartment w/ gym bag
  • arrive at gym
  • change into gym clothes in locker room
    • increased difficulty rating for someone else in same isle, or group of people talking nearby
  • rowing machine
    • increased difficulty for someone using the other machine (there's only two in the whole gym)
    • double increased difficulty if both machines are being used, because wtf am I supposed to do with myself while basically loitering
  • free weights (in the less intimidating of the two weight rooms; eventually I'll probably need to 'upgrade' to the other one)
    • increased difficulty if there's anyone else in that part of the room
    • increased difficulty for trying anything new
    • super increased difficulty if anyone is doing things close to what I'm planning on doing (currently this has always resulted in me NOPE'ing right out of there)
  • shower & change into street clothes in locker room
  • leave gym (basically a freebie for getting this far)
Breaker of Horses (47943 words) by Sineala
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Marvel (Comics), Marvel 616, Avengers (Comics)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark
Characters: Steve Rogers, Tony Stark
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Historical, Alternate Universe - Ancient Rome, Alternate Universe - Gladiators, Centaurs, Romance, Interspecies Romance, Drama, Action/Adventure, Angst, War, Slavery, Happy Ending, Additional Warnings In Author's Note, Community: cap_ironman, Cap_Ironman Reverse Bang Challenge 2015
Series: Part 1 of Breaker of Horses
Summary: What do you do when the Roman Empire you were raised to love consigns you to the sands of the arena? Antonius is a prince of the Dacians, captured in war and sold as a gladiator. He yearns for his freedom. Stephanos -- the last living centaur -- is his fellow slave and trainer. Centuries old, disillusioned by a Rome that has become a shadow of itself, Stephanos has all but given up on life... until he meets Antonius, and both of their lives are forever changed.

It's my Reverse Big Bang fic! It's my millionth word of fanfiction! Hooray!

There, have some centaur fic! And then have Bareback, the centaur/human porn sequel. Look what you made me do, fandom.

I hope people like it. I have been kind of a nervous wreck about it this evening. I'm just going to post this and then probably not think about writing anything for at least a week.
ase: Book icon (Books 2)
([personal profile] ase May. 26th, 2015 09:13 pm)
The Cyberiad (Stanislaw Lem) (1965 / English tans. 1974): A collection of short stories about two Constructors, Trurl and Klapaucius, in a parable or fairy tale mode.

Trurl and Klapaucius are robots, by the way. It took me a few stories to figure that out.

(It took me about a story and a half to mentally model Trurl off Rodney McKay and Klapaucius from Radek Zelenka, but that is neither here nor there.)

Works in translation are a tough read for me, as I am generally keeping in my mind two layers of interpretation: what the author is trying to say and what the translator thought the author was trying to say. Add in the complications of '60s writing translated into '70s vernacular read in the 2010's, on a smartphone, and see where that gets you. I found the prose tough going, having been spoiled by recent reading. But what I liked, I really liked. Mad scientist robots! The lurking humor nearly destroyed in translation! Every now and then it would break though. I particularly loved the hypothetical dragons, the treatment which starts "dragons are impossible, of course" and then uses the language of abstract mathematics to bring the hypothetical dragons into the world. I really want to reread this on paper, preferably in a better translation.

Being Mortal (Atul Gawande) (2014): Nonfiction. Dying in America and the first world. The thesis seems to be: the current system for caring for the aged grew out of mid-20th-century hospitalization, and as such answers to the metrics of hospitals. Safety is valued over autonomy. However, studies are showing that self-determination is correlated to better quality of life, and sometimes even longer quality of life, so rearranging The System to allow people to be the "authors of their own stories" as long as possible might correlate with reduced end-of-life costs, better quality of life, and even a bit of an edge on length of life. Some of this is very good, and rings very true to my experiences. Gawande echoes a thirdhand quote that "we want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love," (p106 HC) which seems like a trenchant observation. But sometimes the arguments get a little too tidy, a little too slick, as when Gawande talks about the Ars Moriendi, a guide to an "ideal" death. I detect the whiff of English classism in adherence to this standard, which made me a little more dubious of Gawande's arguments, no matter how compelling.

The Price of the Stars (Debra Doyle, James D. MacDonald) (1992): Being, as the cover so flamboyantly proclaims, Book One of the Mageworlds. It's absolutely classic romantic space opera, Star Wars with the serial numbers filed off. There's an assassinated Domina, her grieving smuggler-turned-war-leader husband's charge to their free-trader daughter to find the identity of her mother's killer, which eventually draws in psychic Adepts, the Domina's other two children, some dramatic faked deaths, a mysterious and slightly sinister man incongruously known as "the Professor", and, of course, dramatic space-chases.

Stuff blows up really well. I append the stamp of beach reading approval, and look forward to tearing through the rest of the series (long out of print) when I can scrape it up from used book stores.