Ada Palmer, of Ex Urbe, and historian at University of Chicago, has just published her first novel, Too Like the Lightning.

I just finished it (though there was one scene that almost made me stop reading, for real) and would love to talk about it, but I'm not going to spoil you.

Instead, I'm going to give you the jacket blurb, and hope that intersts those of you who haven't picked it up yet:

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer–a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labeling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competition is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…
I went to see Rams at the AFI last night. The description is: 'In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven't spoken in 40 years have to come together in order to save what's dearest to them - their sheep'.

My initial reaction was 'my god, it's Norwegian Bachelor Farmers!', except they're Icelanders. But I was with [personal profile] ellen_fremedon; and the Vegan Knitter, and she agreed it was totally Norwegian Bachelor Farmers. Though when we got to the end, she pointed that once you've run away to the mountains, that's the last step to becoming an outlaw and your story is over; so the ending was perfect, at least in the context of Icelandic sagas.

This afternoon I went to see Chandu the Magician with [personal profile] greenygalas part of the William Cameron Menzies retrospective. It had a good bit of painfully dated orientalism, and a good bit of raygun gothic with a 'death ray' as the central macguffin, but it also had some amazing set design consider it was made in 1932, some nifty special effects (and lots of van de graaf generators and tesla coils) and correct use of 'thou' and 'you' between a master yogi and his student Chandu. You could definitely see the seeds of both the Jedi and Indiana Jones in the movie.

Next up, there's short run of Harryhausen films, including King Kong and Jason and the Argonauts at the AFI that I'm going to go to, and a two-day only run of Project Itoh: Empire of Corpses, which is a steampunk anime alternate history -- 'Ever wonder what the world would be like if the British Empire had been built upon a working class of reanimated corpses?' -- so I will go see it even though it's only showing weekday nights.
neotoma: Roadrunner fetish goes "beep beep!' (roadrunner)
( Dec. 31st, 2015 09:41 am)
Not a complete list by any means, but some delightful stories to read that you might not have seen anyway.

Goblin Emperor

Peace & Purring -- Csethiro and Maia escape the tenth iteration of their wedding rehearsal, and relax a little.

Imperial Radch

Daughter of Fishes -- Translator Zeiat has an ingenious idea that she thinks will make tea even better.

Ray Bradbury

When She Woke at Dawn -- The Martians are returning to Earth. (The Martian Chronicles & There Will Come Soft Rains)

Seseme Street

Felt Lines -- Sesame Street muppets talk about their personal experiences on StoryCorps.

Exclusive Content -- In old days, Cookie think, just having monsters on television was spooky. Monsters doing classy drama was transgressive. Transgressive mean it a thing that people not expect you to do, and they think you strange when you do it. It special kind of surprise.

Location is Everything -- Mr. Hooper has always wanted his own store.

Stargate Universe

Manifest Destiny -- "I think I've worked out the bad news on my own,” Rush says as crisply as he can, like that will keep the tremble out of his voice, and now he's the one who can't quite look at Eli. “What's the good news?”

Australia Is No Better Than Here -- Young and Rush, in the three year stasis. Or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, possibly.


Gift Guides for Grumpy Bastards -- When Casey tries to figure out a present for the birthday Frank doesn't want to celebrate, she finds the one person who knows everything there is to know on Frank Walker.

Vorkosigan Saga

Not Quite Vor -- Deportment isn't the sum of a girl's education when she grows up Koudelka. Few people stop to remember that quieter than Martya or gentler than Delia doesn’t mean particularly gentle or quiet.
neotoma: "Squee!" goes the bunny (SqueeBunny)
( Jun. 21st, 2015 08:36 am)
I went to see Tomorrowland with [ profile] fabrisse yesterday.

Why did noone tell me there is a steampunk rocketship with a Babbage engine controller in this movie? That set-peice alone is worth the price of admission! And when Keegan Michael-Key showed up and announced his name was Hugo Gernsback I almost sporfled. Frank getting rambling off on a tangent about how Tesla and Edison hated each other while our heroes are on the run from killer robots was also a delight.

Also, passes the Bechdel test with flying colors, is about hope and science, and was just fun to watch. And Raffey Cassidy is an actor to watch out for -- I hope she continues to get amazing roles, because her Athena was fantastic.
I've created a page for Jo Walton's The Just City at TV tropes. Anyone who has read the book want to add to it?

If you haven't read The Just City yet, it's a pretty awesome book -- Athena with the help of 300 adults from across human history, tries to create The Just City from Plato's The Republic on Thera, before the explosion. It goes about as well as you might imagine, given 300 idealists from many different eras, whose only commonality is that they've read Plato in the original Greek and prayed to Athena to let them create the Just City.
So I've finally caught both the new tv shows dealing with fairy tales -- which are completely different takes, yay! -- and have some thoughts for those of you who have seen one or the other or both.

Grimm -- AKA You got your fairy tale in my cop show! You got your cop show in my fairy tale! )

Onto the other fairy tale show:

Once Upon A Time -- I haven't caught nearly as many episodes (only the latest five or so), but it occurs to me that a lot of this show is about how people both fail and succeed at being parents )I am completely in love with how most of the plots in this show are about the women -- there are male characters, but most of them are important because they are the woman's love interest )
I think I'm going to get myself a copy of Sita Sings the Blues, having seen it through Netflix. It's an amazing story, and the art shifts are not only gorgeous, but well support the interweaving tales of Nina Paley (who made this movie on her computer) and Sita and Rama. The use of Annette Hanshaw's songs from the 1920s makes for a wonderful conceit for the film, which you should all watch.

Fortunately, it's on a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License, so if you want to download it an watch it, you can.

But I think I'll buy a copy when I can afford it -- because art like this needs to be supported. And maybe I need to finally read the Ramayana...
Dylan Meconis came back from hiatus over the summer with a new page of Family Man and a brand new short story.

Go read Outfoxed -- it's a rather delightfully Grimm fairy tale. Then tell her how much you enjoyed it at [ profile] quirkybird where she posts her update notifications.
neotoma: "Squee!" goes the bunny (SqueeBunny)
( Aug. 13th, 2011 02:00 pm)

Family Man

by Dylan Meconis -- What do scholars, gypsies, Jews, and wolves all have in common? In 1768, they could only find safety in numbers. But belonging to a pack doesn't mean your troubles are over... This is gorgeous, well-research story focusing on an disgraced (and possibly atheistic) theologian and an enigmatic spinster librarian, is mostly about 18th century life, university politics, the struggle between reason and faith, and possibly werewolves. Her research notes alone are worth a look. It's been on pause while she researches and writes the script, but it's due back September 21st.

Girl Genius

by Phil and Kaja Foglio -- Mad Scientists rule Europe. Badly. Steampunk alternate Europe, with Mad Science! What's not to love?

Dresden Codak

by Aaron Diaz -- a sometimes Dada comic focusing on physics, philosophy, transhumanism, nerd jokes, and occasional descents to Mesoamerican underworlds. Famous for the Hob storyline and the Dungeons and Discourses.


by Trudy Cooper -- hilarious and NSFW. Extremely NSFW with plenty of mocking of fairy tales and fantasy literature tropes.


written by Rob Balder, illustrated by Jamie Noguchi (first book) and Xin Ye (second book)-- the story of Parson Gotti, obsessive gamer summoned to be a 'Perfect Warlord' to a city losing a war -- in a universe based on turn-based strategy wargames, with extra cutifying factor. It updates about three or four times a month, usually two comics pages to one text page, and it's wonderful to see what happens when a normal human's lateral thinking gets into a turn-based wargame.


by Mark Stanley-- the story of Florence Ambrose, uplifted wolf and starship engineer, Sam Starfall, larcenous business-squid, and Helix, a young cargo-moving robot. Because all three main characters are not humans, they all have unique perspectives of the human society they're living in on the Planet Jean. Lots of hard science in the science fiction, and used to very good effect. The archives are enormous -- the comic has been MWF since 1998 -- so block out a weekend to read it.


Bite Me!

also by Dylan Meconis -- A French Revolutionary Vampire Farce! This one is just fricking hilarious, especially if you check the alt text. Be warned though, the author says it's in "the universe a few doors down" from Family Man, so there may be spoilers for that in this -- or maybe not, who knows?


by Ursula Vernon [ profile] ursulav -- A Wombat. A dead god. A very peculiar epic. Anthropology, art shifts for the purposes of storytelling, religion, geology, the trouble with dwarf mining, a Statue of Ganesh, anthropomorphic hyenas, an incredibly pragmatic wombat engineer, and the shadowchild. squee!

What webcomics do you love?
neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Default)
( Jun. 24th, 2011 08:37 am)
Yesterday, I took the day off and went to two of the Silverdocs showings.

First, I saw Cafeteria Man. The documentary follows Tony Geraci, who was hired to run the Baltimore school system's food program. Over the course of two years, he works with parents, teachers, students, politicians, local farmers, and chefs to eliminate the pre-plated, commodity food that was served in the school system's cafeterias with locally grown produce and introduce a more positive food culture into the entire school system, from pre-K to high school. This includes setting up a teaching farm inside Baltimore, reforming the food procurement system, setting up food service/hospitality programs in the schools, and trying to set up a central kitchen to cook food for the schools, because most schools in Baltimore do not have kitchens in which foods can actually be cooked and retrofitting them individually would be prohibitively expensive compared to a central kitchen with a hub-and-spoke distribution system.

It was a seriously fascinating look at food and bureaucracy in American public schools.

Second, I saw The Loving Story, about Loving vs Virginia. Told mostly through archival footage -- a news cinematographer/filmmaker had documented the case at the time, but had never been able to get funds to make a documentary of her own -- it was amazingly powerful, since Mildred and Richard Loving spoke for themselves, instead of having a talking head or 'voice of God' narrator explain things. There were several interviews from the time of the case that were cringe-worthy, mostly because America as a society has moved on, but it was really interesting to see how incredibly important breaking the miscegnation laws were -- for inheritance rights for the children, for survivor rights in the case of death of a spouse, for the right not to be arrested because of who you were married to -- and how we take many of these things for granted today.
neotoma: Supernatual, Team Free Will (Team Free Will)
( Mar. 14th, 2010 04:35 pm)
There seems to be a fan-challenge on YouTube to create the best AU vid for Supernatural. Some of the entries are flawed but neat, and some are downright awesome. Here are a few that I think are worth watching -- if anyone knows of the journals of the makers, let me know and I'll update the links:

A False Heaven -- Dean kills Sam to prevent Lucifer from getting him -- but for Sam, Heaven isn't Heaven with Dean. Lyrical and sad

Apocalypse -- What if Dean and Sam will play their roles? What if they would say "yes"? Beautiful and bleak.

Zombie King -- Sam is the 'first' zombie, the original host and Dean gets killed by him, but instead of being turned an angel intervenes and brings Dean back to life. He must stop Sam of course, before the whole world gets infected. This is seriously well constructed, creepy, and tragic.

Murdering the Angels -- Dean came back from Hell a new man.

Yes -- Completely distraught by the destruction Lucifer has brought to the world, Dean is confronted once more by Zachariah, who shows him that saying yes to Michael could be the only thing to end this destruction and protect Sam from Lucifer. Emotionally shattered, Dean finally says yes. The world changes. Not actually part of the challenge, but the constructed reality is amazing, and OMG, if God shows up like this in the show, the fandom will have a collective fit. :D
[ profile] modnaf posted the first six pages of Once a Rogue -- an in-progress fan comic about Pied Piper set after Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge. It is *gorgeous*, and I recommend everyone take a look, even if you only have the vaguest idea of who the Rogues are.
Gen )
Het )
Slash )
Oddball Thingies )

I'm still looking for good Mutant-X fics, good Dark Beast fics (he's scary, but he's most disturbing when he's acting like Hank), and I'd really *really* like to see Hank gender-swapped in a fic and see how he'd be different if he'd been born 'Hannah' (probably would have married Bobby, if Bobby grew up enough to notice smart girls are hot...)

Also, Hank is a Hufflepuff at heart. Discuss.
Xmen movie overview -- the movies [XMM] are popular, but people jump their fics off in different places, hence different ages for characters from the second and third movies.
Xmen comics overview -- the comics come in two flavors [comics] and [Ult-X]; that's the mainstream comics, with over 40 years of canon, and the Ultimate line, which has under 10 years. I couldn't find any good Mutant-X fics, which was a short-lived series in which Alex/Havoc found himself in a freaky universe where he'd basically lived Scott's life, being on the original team, marrying the hot redhead, and all; Scott got to live Corsair's life as a space pirate, and was one of the few times where he's wild and implusive -- good crack, in other words.

1602 )

Rest on next post...
Since I recently lost my mind to my comics collection, it was inevitable that something was going to crawl out of it...

Weird present-tense XMen fic; Bobby, Hank; current Astonishing continuity sorta... )This is mostly the fault of [ profile] gblvr and [ profile] sanj, because I've actually been able to hand them X-men First Class to read, and then discuss later. I am heavily pimping the awesome of Hank&Bobby (or Hank/Bobby) at them.
Last week, I wound up talking with [ profile] tricksterquinn about Star Wars, and I decided I needed to collect my favorite fics in one place, just for easy reference and recommendation -- you'll notice that I return to some authors multiple times, because they are just that good.

I used the summary given by the author, when possible. All of these are gen and complete. All of the authors have other works that are equally worth reading.

And, yes, it's a bit heavy on Qui-Gon -- I love the grumpy, manipulative bastard much more than is reasonable.

Original Trilogy )

Alternate Universe -- someone dies, someone doesn't die, a different future, a different past... )

Prequel Trilogy )

Got any recommendations based on this list? Better archives than TheForceNet or to link to?

I'll try to come up with a slash & het fic list in the next week, but no promises.
neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Qui-Gon-Puff)
( Oct. 16th, 2006 06:50 pm)

Firecracker's Re-Entry:Diverging Paths has been finished and posted to Master-Apprentice! Weee! It is a story in a long, plotty AU series that I'm really glad is still being worked on. The next installment, Re-entry: Attainment, is two parts of a WIP, but the author seems to be back in fandom again and determined to finish the series.

This is all [ profile] sanj's fault. She got me into watching vids.

And now I've found a DOGMA vid.

A good one.

[ profile] just_eunice is amazing, and set her vid to Swing Down Chariot. I think my brain has just exploded.


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