bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
What I Learned Since The Summer Solstice

  • Kinesthetic Astronomy lessons are great for some people, but they only serve to make me dizzy.

  • Longhair cats do have more chance of having litterbox mishaps.

  • There was a fascinating woman in New Orleans in the early 19th Century named Marie Laveau, who was a spiritual and community leader, and this is the first time I've really been interested in New Orleans history.

  • Managing to find the sun on a helioscope is a surprisingly satisfying experience.

  • Pluto is reddish, and it also has a surface made mostly of nitrogen ice.

  • The dwarf planet Eris was given the informal designation "Xena" before it got its official name. But even when it was renamed, its discoverer, Mike Brown, named its moon "Dysnomia," which is a lesser entity associated with Eris. It also doesn't hurt that "dysnomia" means "lawless," so he still managed to slide a Xena reference in there.

  • Kittens are expensive.

  • Saturn's moon Phoebe is constantly spraying another moon, Iapetus, with particles, accounting for Iapetus's weird coloration.

  • Sourdough bread needs a starter, which you can make with flour, a tiny bit of sugar, water, and either wild or bread yeast.

  • Doing the Super Jump 100 times in a row in Super Mario RPG unlocks a badass bit of armor called the Super Suit. Also, I HAVE A SUPER SUIT NOW.

  • The Martian totally lives up to the hype.

  • When making fireballs for science demos, don't test your spritz bottle on the carpet because you might wind up having to stomp out some green fire.

  • Gnomes have a gestational period of 12 months. For some reason I always thought it was 11.

  • Training a parrot to wear a flight harness is not easy.

  • Navajo really is that difficult a language.

  • There is a theory, put forth by a researcher named Kazunori Asada, that Vincent Van Gogh was color blind, and his unusual pallettes were a result of his inability to distinguish certain colors. Comparing paintings with and without a color blind filter reveals a lot about his work, but I also just like this theory because I kind of love Theories About Artists' Perception.*

  • There is a reason the fabric store I go to always looks a bit run-down.

  • Jupiter's moons of Europa, Io, and Ganymede have a 1:2:4 resonance, so for every one orbit Europa completes around Jupiter, Io goes around twice and Ganymede four times. Neat!

  • Being a grownup is busy.



*Partly this is due to a running gag between me and my siblings about pioneering artists who think they're being realistic. Favorite examples include Claude Monet Was Just Painting What He Saw and Philip K. Dick Was Writing A Memoir.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Death)
The guy who really got me going on Terry Pratchett was my college buddy Josh, who brought all the Discworld books with him to his apartment so he could have them handy whenever he wanted. He was jealous of me since I had so many books yet to read. (I still do. Savoring it and all that.)

I tried to come up with a favorite Pratchett character, then realized there were too damn many of them. He had brilliant characters, smart stories, and great comedy. I am glad he was here on this Earth as long as he was, and I hope whatever Death ushers him to now is peaceful for him.

... I may have to go read Small Gods again now. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Space Madness)
So I finally got to Chanur's Legacy. I never read it before because honestly Hilfy was insufferable. And I stand by that assessment, though she seems to finally be getting the glimmer of a clue through her thick skull. And I do love getting deep into alien minds.

Definitely going to go on to Cherryh's other stuff, too--the Alliance/Union universe to find out Tully's context, and also I've got Foreigner here. (Tried to get into it once and never got very far.) But I'm wanting other sci-fi, too. Definitely on a kick. You nerds got any recommendations?


PS: LOOK AT THIS FUCKING COVER I FOUND. Suddenly I want to learn French just to find out what the everloving hell the translator who described Pyanfar THAT way to the illustrator was on about.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Map of the Shire)
I think the funniest thing about Linkara's The Hobbit reviews (which I am rewatching at the moment) is that I don't disagree with any of the critiques he has to the storyline--it's all spot-on true for how to build a good story. The extra characters, the climax, Bilbo's role in it, the second climax, etc.--none is particularly good novel technique.

--And yet, at the same time, every single thing he critiques is another reason why The Hobbit is my favorite book in the world.

Most of it boils down to one thing--that it really is Bilbo's story. It gives us his point of view, and while he's a hero, he's not a Hero. So I like that the Dwarves are kind of an amorphous mass, with one or two personality traits materializing out of it sometimes, because I have the feeling that's kind of how I'd perceive it if I was sort of accidentally dragged on this adventure. I like how he was accidentally dragged on--for all that it's nice to show him consciously deciding to change his life in the movie, I like how Gandalf actually just flusters him into joining in the book. I really like that he bitches the whole damn way--I hadn't realized how important it was that he piss and moan all the way to the Lonely Mountain until it was taken away in the movies. Yeah, he's rising to the occasion, but by god, he's not happy about it.

But what I especially like is Linkara's big complaint--the double-climax and how Bilbo plays into it.

I like that he doesn't slay the dragon. I like that his contribution was a small one--a critical piece of information that would get around to some other hero to do the job. Here in a world were we can't actually do heroic, world-saving deeds, the idea of doing a small thing that still touches off a great change is a really uplifting one.

I like the Battle of Five Armies. Aftermath is difficult and more complicated than a usual denouement is. And your friends can turn into jerks even then.

And most of all, what I like is how Bilbo tries to handle the standoff leading up to the battle. His true bravery is in his attempt to make an outcome that works out best for everyone--trying to do the right thing despite his own friends' not appreciating that. And that he tries to solve it peacefully. And that he fails--but that everyone realizes what he was trying to do, and winds up respecting the hell out of him for it. He may have changed them a little more for next time--maybe they'll try a little harder to fix things.

So, yes. It doesn't really reflect everything we're used to in a story, but it's something I really love. His story is one of the small people who don't slay dragons or move mountains. He's just the guy who flubs his way through the adventure he's dragged on, trying to do mostly the right thing as he goes. It's not the person we like to imagine ourselves as, but it's rather nice to realize that the person we actually are, for all our flaws, can be respectable, too, in our own small and admirable ways.

And that he snarks the whole time. Really, I can't overstate how important it is that he whines so much.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Bookstore Belle)
Rereading the Chanur Saga. This series is still awesome. And I love rereading because I pick up so many details I didn't notice before.

Book Club

Oct. 29th, 2014 10:09 pm
bloodyrosemccoy: (Map of the Shire)
Back in January, my brother decided to make himself a resolution.

MY BROTHER: I am finally going to read The Lord of the Rings by the end of this year!

So he took a dive into the beloved fantasy series. In February, I asked him how it was going.

MY BROTHER: I have amended it somewhat! I am going to read The Fellowship of the Ring by the end of the year!
ME: That boring, huh?

Okay, yeah, Fellowship starts out pretty slow, what with half a book of dicking around and musical numbers. But even so, my brother's managing to exceed his new goal and called me not too long ago.

MY BROTHER: I finished The Two Towers!
ME: Whadja think?
MY BROTHER: Okay, you were right. Those last chapters in Shelob's lair?
ME: When Sam goes bugfuck?
MY BROTHER: OMG HOW AWESOME WAS THAT
ME: I KNOW RIGHT

Yes. I'm still willing to argue that overall the Peter Jackson movies told a way better story than the books and made the scenes much more interesting and exciting. But the book version of Shelob's Lair--and, god, The Choices of Master Samwise--blows the movie version out of the water. I like the movie's GET AWAY FROM HIM YOU BITCH moment, but it was in the book when I got into the fight and was all "Fuckin GET HER! YEAH!!!" when Sam just launches himself at Shelob.

Also, I'm curious to see what my brother thinks of that cliffhanger at the end of Book 1 of Return of the King. It was not really possible with the movies because the stories were told parallel to each other, but it is pretty effective when the last you hear of Frodo is "Frodo was alive but taken by the Enemy" and then suddenly the Mouth of Sauron shows up with Frodo's stuff to destroy everyone's morale.* That's pretty good.

We'll have to see if my brother makes it through his original goal. Nothing quite tops Shelob, but there's some fun stuff with Return of the King nonetheless. And I want his comparison of Movie vs. Book Denethor & Sons. Those changes could keep me talking all night.


*First time I read the books I remember really picking apart his dialogue and deciding, "This guy is totally bluffing. 'He was dear to you or maybe his mission was important'? Yeah, he doesn't know shit about what Frodo was up to or he'd taunt them with that failure." I suppose Sauron could have kept it from his loyal servant, but even so you'd think he'd still say something like "Make sure to tell this little ragtag group that nyah nyah, their ploy has failed."
bloodyrosemccoy: (Hobbit Hole)
Like most of my contemporary third-grade literati, I was a big fan of Brian Jacques' Redwall books, epic tales of the high adventures of mousies and their fellow woodland critters. They were an entirely new kind of fantasy for my narrow little brain in that they were almost completely devoid of magic--only a little bit of possibly mystical reincarnation, if that--but by god they were full of humor, swashbuckly swordfighting, heroic stunts, dastardly villains, colorful allies, and vivid settings.

And of course there was the food porn.

Oh, GOD, the food porn. I remember reading that Brian Jacques grew up in England during World War II, and if he wasn't exactly starving, there was never quite enough food, and what there was had an uninspiring quality to it. So he took to reading cookbooks like they were porn, and always lingered on feast scenes in the stories he was reading. And when he wrote his own stories, there was always at least one feast, with loving attention paid to describing every single dish on the menu. Holy shit when Mom read those books aloud to us we would get SO DAMN HUNGRY.

And the centerpiece of the food, for me, was always the moles' signature dish, the Turnip'n'Tater'n'Beetroot Deeper'n'Ever Pie. God DAMN that thing sounded good. In those days there was no Redwall Cookbook, and there MIGHT have been Redwall.net but the internet wasn't A Thing yet, so we just had to make up our own recipe. Mom tried many variations, but it wasn't till I came across a different book, Maggie Black's Medieval Cookbook, that it all came together. I combined her recipe for mushroom pasties with my own Deeper'n'Ever Pie recipe and voila! THE GREATEST FOOD EVER.

And I always celebrate Hobbit Day with one, because I think the hobbits and the moles would probably agree on what makes a damn fine savory pie, especially with the addition of mushrooms. So I'm gonna share my recipe with you, and if you want to celebrate a couple of great books with some great pie, be my guest!

Deeper'N'Ever Pie - Hobbit Variation

What You Need:

2-3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3 beets
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
cheddar cheese, shredded*
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
salt
pepper
2 pie crusts (I use Pillsbury because while I am good at some kitchen things, pie crusts are MYSTERIOUS ALCHEMY)

What You Do:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Parboil the beets whole, until they are soft, in one saucepan. When they are done, peel them (they're easier to peel after they've been boiled) and chop them, then toss them in a big mixing bowl

While that's going on, parboil the chopped carrots and potatoes in another saucepan. Drain them and dump them into that same mixing bowl

Lightly saute the onions and mushrooms in olive oil. Add them to the bowl

Now toss the vegetables till they're good and mixed. Mix in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 tsp. mustard powder, and dashes of salt and pepper.

Mix in the shredded cheese.

Now put one of the pie crusts in your pie pan. Then dump the filling in!

Cover with the other pie crust. Pinch the crusts' edges together. Punch a few holes artistically in the top crust with a fork.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Ta-da! You have an amazing Deeper'n'Ever Pie to share with your friends. Mom likes it with sour cream (Mom likes EVERYTHING with sour cream), but I like it plain. Maybe with an apple beer or some ginger ale, or some mulled ginger apple cider if you have it on hand. But no matter how you serve it, enjoy--and raise a glass of whatever you're drinking with it to Brian Jacques, who wrote some amazing books. Here's to you, Mr. Jacques.


*I have no idea where the moles got cheese. Only bad guys seem to eat meat in the Redwall universe; the good guys WILL eat fish when it's available, but they're mostly vegetarian. They're only vegan because they have to be, though--I think there's a passing mention of cattle in Redwall itself, but that was the first one published and the continuity got retconned so there is no good source of milk. But by god Jacques wants cheese and cream and butter, so he cheats with something called "greensap milk." I'm cheating right back with "actual milk" products.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Boring Stories)
Had a couple of people tag me for that Book Meme that's been going around on Facebook. The idea is to pick 10 books that have stuck with you. Which is RIDICULOUS. Ten? Like all the other book dweebs before me, I have trouble narrowing down my list of a hundred favorite books. But I want to toss out a few. If I stop to analyze it anymore, I'll never actually get it done.

So! A random ten of the Books That Stuck With Me:

1. All I See Is Part Of Me, Chara M. Curtis, ill. Cynthia Alrdich - a picture book told in rhyme about the connection everyone has to Life, the Universe, and Everything. I love the illustrations, and it's a nice sentiment.

2. Matilda, Roald Dahl - yeah, you don't need me to explain more, do you? Book is great.*

3. Letters from the Earth, Mark Twain - an unfinished book, but a useful one for a secular kid who was just discovering that religion was a Thing and wanted to know if she was the only one who had noticed how bizarre it was.

4. The Belgariad/TheMalloreon/Belgarath the Sorcerer/Polgara the Sorceress, David Eddings - Yeah, I am including twelve books in one here, but as always, when you have a saga of books it makes sense to count them as one. God, I read this in junior high and it blew me away. It has its problems, but it also has Polgara, Belgarath, and Silk, who are fascinating characters, and one of my favorite author self-inserts of all time in the form of The Voice Of The Purpose Of The Universe. You know how everyone else seems to consider Middle-earth to be Standard Fantasyland? In my brain it's the world of the Belgariad.

5. Circle of Magic quartet, Tamora Pierce - The first I read of hers. Love the characters, the worldbuilding, and the magic system. I was also kind of a fan of the fact that three of the books' conflicts weren't about villains; they were about other problems, like natural disasters and plagues. That was different. And it was also one of the first Fantasyland stories I read with racially diverse characters, which was a revelation.

6. Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens, various - this was like Baby's First Sci-fi. The first Ray Bradbury story I ever read was in this book,** as was "To Serve Man" (Christ, I'm glad I read the story before seeing the Twilight Zone episode). It opened up vast and wonderful new worlds for me.

7. Our Mutual friend, Charles Dickens - one of the few classic books I really enjoyed from English class. It was funny, dammit!

8. Who Talks Funny? A Book About Languages For Kids, Brenda S. Cox - a nonfiction book taking one on a tour of the weirdnesses of language. One of the books that really got me on my path toward linguistics.

9. Room, Emma Donoghue - One of the few books that actually belongs in present tense. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did, but the darn thing was in the book drop at the library one day and it got stuk to my face. It was just so darn interesting.

10. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien - My all-time favorite book. I could go on forever about it, but suffice to say, the adventure is great, and goddamn I relate to hobbits in general and Bilbo in particular. Making your hero just an average middle-class schmuck without making him annoying is almost impossible. Tolkien pulled it off perfectly.


There you have it! I've been considering doing a weekly retrospective of books that made an impression on me (I HAVE LOTS), but I am incredibly lazy and so it may not get done. Perhaps I will find the follow-through now. But either way, y'all are welcome to do this meme too if you're interested!


*I'm surprised at how many people from my generation fondly remember that godawful MOVIE of Matilda I was infuriated at it. Regardless, Mara Wilson is great and I will hear no ill spoken of her.

**My favorite, "The Veldt," I found in a book from a school program called Junior Great Books like a year later. That story just creeped me right the hell out. And I felt super smart for realizng that the holodeck nursery symbolized television. That one was the beginning of my long love/hate relationship with Bradbury.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Ha)
She wasn't perfect. "Throw the ball," her tough sports coach yelled at her. "Ahh," she said, and she squeezed her eyes closed, and threw. The ball exploded. Then she fell down the stairs. "Oh NO," she moaned. "How am I supposed to do business at the bottom of the stairs?

Just the beginning of Mallory Ortberg's Flaws Only A Protagonist Could Have. It's hilarious. Go read it.
bloodyrosemccoy: (COMICS)
There is something deeply and gloriously ironic about an insightful and critical discussion of the philosophical themes of Fahrenheit 451 conducted via text message.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Logic Fail)
I have discovered that it's probably a bad idea to start watching the BBC's Sherlock right after rereading the Enola Holmes series.

It's not that Sherlock is bad. I suspect that Holmes himself is going to start getting annoying as I keep watching--as [livejournal.com profile] fadethecat pointed out, the Brilliant Asshole character is getting old. But it's also clear that the writers are huge fans of original flavor Holmes, and a lot of the nods to it are pretty fun.

But in my opinion, Nancy Springer managed to get a lot of the original stuff down--including an alternative view of Victorian London, so that you can see things that a white upper-middle-class Victorian doctor might not have focused on. She keeps pretty close to Holmes's original character--that is, he's friendly enough, but he is eccentric, somewhat arrogant, logical, and with his own blind spots. And she also keeps him in the background, focusing on her fascinating original character. Enola's adventures highlight how clever Victorian ladies were at getting around social restrictions--and Enola herself has social savvy, which is really refreshing. Plus, I love that Sherlock's total dismissal of anything feminine can be used against him. All sorts of clever codes and ciphers pass right by him because, y'know, flowers and fans and elaborate undergarments are ladyface nonsense.

Which kind of highlights something else--that while I like some reinterpretations well enough, it's impossible to really dislodge Sherlock Holmes from his natural habitat of Victorian London. Yes, he's fun to put in modern times, and Sherlock does exceedingly well in incorporating updated things like text messages and internetting and cars and how to tackle three-pipe problems when you can't be seen smoking on TV* and such into his stories, but a lot of my joy with the Holmes stories comes from their setting. It's the same reason I read any other sort of story set in a place other than my own modern one--because the setting is FASCINATING. Original Holmes gives us a glimpse at that setting; my favorite Holmes spinoffs are the ones that do the same.**

So yeah, the BBC's new take is interesting. But I think I'll have to watch it when I'm less steeped in Victorian Holmes.


*Okay, yes, the "three-patch problem" made me snort.

**Actually, though, I am not a huge fan of any of the old Masterpiece Theater ones. Didn't like Jeremy Brett or Basil Rathbone. And while I am perfectly okay with Dawson from The Great Mouse Detective (and am perfectly in love with Professor Ratigan even though I fucking HATE the Moriarty nonsense), do not get me STARTED on Jam Watson.
bloodyrosemccoy: (DEEP HURTING)
I think I have managed to achieve exact calibration on What Kind Of Hollywood Bullshit I Will Put Up With!

Evidently ...

... I will gush for weeks about a movie so loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" that the only things it really has in common with the original story is that it has snow and a queen in it ...

... And I prefer the Disney version of his other story, too, because what the hell was UP with the end of the original Little Mermaid?! ...

... And I can sit back and enjoy all the ridiculous padding Peter Jackson stuffed into a movie trilogy version of The Hobbit while still knowing that the book is INFINITELY more wonderful ...

... And I'll even contend that the LotR movies in a lot of ways are better than the books ...

... but I draw the line at Walter Mitty.

I could go on about all the reasons why, but basically what it comes down to is that making a movie about Walter Mitty is exactly, completely, 100% antithetical to the whole POINT of Walter Mitty.

Things you learn about yourself while groaning at movie trailers. Everything is opportunity for self-discovery! It's fun!
bloodyrosemccoy: (Weirdos)
MOM: What are your plans for tonight?

ME: Try to TAKE OVER THE WORLD Got me a new novel to read!

MOM: What's that?

ME: It's called Parasite, it's a science fiction novel, and I will stop there because I suspect that's all you want to know.

MOM: You totally get me.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Deep Thoughts)
I harbor a lot of resentment for Peter Pan.

It’s not an out-and-out hatred. I mean, I was willing to see the Disney movie, and the movie version of Mary Martin as Mr. B Natural as Peter Pan, and I read the book version that my aunt had around the house, and I wasn't exactly furiously chucking the book across the room or anything. But I did always leave feeling ... rather put off.*

It took me a long time to articulate why. There were a lot of reasons. For one, Neverland seemed to be made up of a bunch of random elements that JM Barrie vaguely remembered finding appealing as a kid--the old-timey equivalent of something that nowadays would cram robots, aliens, superheroes, princesses, ponies, zombies, ninjas, and okay yeah pirates into a world without any logic or reason.** It was clearly a nostalgia’s-eye view of pretend time, and it was grating.

For another, Peter Pan was a schmuck. I could never tell if he was supposed to be endearingly self-centered and egomaniacal--like kids can be--or if it was meant as a slightly darker commentary on those same characteristics.*** No matter what, though, he seemed far too self-centered. Kids aren’t all that one-note shitty.

But mostly, it was the ladies.

I could not stand the female characters in Neverland. They were all written with such malice. Their automatic hostility toward Wendy was inexplicable and pointless--especially if it really was centered around the fact that they all wanted Peter’s attention, because the hell with him. Not a single character was likable, but the females got some extra attention paid to detailing their unlikability. And Wendy herself was an obnoxious load--whiny, helpless, codependent, and prone to forget that, you know, SHE COULD FUCKING FLY.

Which is still true in most adaptations. I stand by the fact that Wendy is a terrible character as originally written. However, I tend to run all the permutations of her together, so I missed something kind of excellent about Disney Wendy until my brother pointed it out: unlike with the other Wendys, Disney Wendy’s main character arc is the dawning realization that Neverland is bullshit.

And my brother is right.

When you watch it with that in mind, it's actually pretty great. In the beginning of the movie Wendy’s all for going to Neverland, and she’s clearly crushing on Peter. And then every single experience she has is a miserable disappointment. Woo, mermaids! Oh, hang on, mermaids are bratty and cliqueish. Woo, fairies! Oh, wait, they’re bratty too. Woo, Lost Boys! Holy shit never mind they just straight up tried to murder me. Woo, Indians! Oh GOD they are racist stereotypes and also they won’t let me join the party but keep making me gather firewood. Woo, pirates! Oh, right, they’re FUCKING PIRATES. Woo, Peter Pan! Oh, wait, this kid is a god damn SOCIOPATH. Everyone else acts stupid and childish, and finally she just can’t TAKE it anymore. So when she goes back to the real world--with, might I add, no implication that she’s gonna be trapped in some stupid one-sided relationship where Peter flies back to collect her for “spring cleaning” each year—she’s pretty much like “GET ME THE HELL OUT OF THIS NURSERY; I AM SO READY TO BE A GROWNUP.”

And suddenly the reason I still had a soft spot for Disney Wendy (well, that and the fact that I’m in love with Kathryn Beaumont’s voice work) was clear to me.

So yes, I still very much dislike Peter Pan. But it’s rather heartening to realize that Disney Wendy feels kind of the same way.


*Especially by the Mr. B Natural one, because I know stage rules are different, but man, they weren’t even TRYING to make the illusion work.

**I’m not saying these things can’t be awesome together, but you’ve got to WORK on it.

***Yes, I know they touched on that in the more recent live action movie, but it still didn’t quite fully grasp it.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Deep Thoughts)
I keep trying to write up a commentary about one of the most interesting fantasy tropes: the Religion Is True trope. Mostly because I've been fleshing out some of the mythological beliefs of OGYAFElanders,* although it's also because I just read Tamora Pierce's Battle Magic and realized that I've been ... slightly disappointed with the direction the Circleverse has been going in for the last couple of books (this one and Melting Stones) on account of this specific trope.

I always liked the Circleverse because the religion, while a central part of the story, was not indisputably, unambiguously true. You had the temple dedicates praying to and swearing by and honoring the gods, but unlike, say, Tortall or Lord of the Rings or David Eddings' books or the Young Wizards or even goddamn Zelda,** in this world they don't do it because the gods regularly drop by the local waffle house for a short stack or leave helpful voicemails for the heroes or bequeath Our Heroes with Mystical Crysticals. Hell, it's entirely possible that the Circle gods don't even exist, and it's just humans ascribing random occurrences to them.

Y'know, like this world.

And don't get me wrong. I fuckin' like all the Religion Is True examples I listed up there. You can tell some great stories with a premise like that. Hell, I'm even working on a Scatterstone installment featuring some True Animism. But even then, making folklore True actually removes an important aspect from the people in your story: their unbridled creativity.

Now, y'all may know I'm an atheist. I grew up an atheist. My big adolescent revelation wasn't so much that I was an atheist as it was the realization that other people weren't. And while that did lead to a good bit of WTFing on my part--wait, you all BELIEVE this?!--and I do think there is a lot of harm to be gotten out of religion, I also think that religious mythology is fascinating. You can learn a lot about people by the myths they come up with. The stories teach important ideals. You can see the way the mind works in magical thinking, anthropomorphism, spiritism, and just-so explanations. And of course, they're really damn inventive. It takes a lot more cognition to make up a story than to report it.***

I don't think I'm the only one who finds this a bit of a gap. Terry Pratchett (of course) explores it a lot. Discworld's got a sort of symbiotic nature of folklore and humanity--like in Hogfather or Small Gods, where the fairies and gods and Anthropomorphic Personifications are real and concrete, but were born of and fueled by collective human imagination. And even Tortall suggests that the Immortals have a similar backstory, though it seems once they're dreamed up they become independent of humans. But those all still have concrete representations of those concepts. The Circle books were the first time it felt like it really was like our world, where it really was all abstract.

And that was the model I used for OGYAFEland, where there are a bunch of different religions/folklores/mythos ... es ... that are not objectively True, but that influence the thoughts and actions of the humans. It looks like how I see the world. And while it's cool for Pierce to change that around, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was a little disappointed when the Circle Religions started to leak into reality.


*And I just recently had a FABULOUS idea for a short story set in OGYAFEland, god DAMMIT who turned on the Inspiration Fire Hose?

**Or even His Dark Materials--weird, if you've read the book, but while the point is that religion is a construction, it's still not a human construction: angels are a Thing, and they are Messing With Us.

***When I was a kid, it frustrated the hell out of me that everyone was trying to figure out what might have inspired fantastical artworks. "Where could the idea of mermaids come from? Could it have been sailors seeing manatees?" I couldn't figure out why it never crossed their minds that maybe somebody just thought it'd be cool to give a human woman a fish tail. Yes, I know people had frames of reference to work with, but hell, they had fish and women. All it takes is one weirdo with a bit of abstract thinking.
bloodyrosemccoy: (COMICS)
Got hold of Tamora Pierce's Battle Magic. I'm kind of afraid to read it, mostly because everyone was acting so darn traumatized in the books set later in the series.

Not that it's stopping me from reading it. But I've got a bad feeling about Evvy's cats.

Still Here

Sep. 2nd, 2013 12:51 pm
bloodyrosemccoy: (Wharrgarbl)
Still here. I haven't the energy for much, though. Even when I'm awake, all I can do is watch movies or listen to audio books.

Thank goodness I've got Bruce Coville and Tamora Pierce around to read me to sleep this time. And thank even MORE goodness that I bought that sand thing in the Tetons. If you want to give someone something that'll help them heal, consider a sand frame. I think I'll go watch mine now.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Hey!  Listen!)
Hey, dudes!

My friend the English teacher is trying to figure out what kind of science fiction books to teach to her 9th graders. She is not well-versed in science fiction herself, so she was wondering about my ideas. I came up with the list below. However, as you can probably guess from the list, I'm not really good at gauging age-appropriateness (or, equally important around here, Mormon-appropriateness, which explains a lot of my "dude, there's swear words here" warnings)--I figured I'd give her some broad outlines and she could take it from there. I also am not sure how Classic or Literary she wants them to be, so I included a few just plain fun pieces. I also tried to steer clear of the somewhat more obscure like CJ Cherryh's Chanur Saga or Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books or Poul Anderson's anything--I'd have read them in 9th grade, but probably they wouldn't work for a class. And I know there have got to be more. So! Care to help?

I've got to say, giving brief outlines of books is surprisingly difficult. I wonder how those back-of-the-book writers do it.

Also, I totally forgot to steer her toward Edgar Rice Burroughs and Douglas Adams. God DAMMIT.

Amelia's Sci-Fi For 9th Graders, As Emailed To Her Buddy )

So! That's my list! Anyone want to add any?

ETA: Dammit, also forgot Ringworld! I have no idea how 9th graders would react to that one.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Crivens!)
Hey, congratulations, [livejournal.com profile] ursulav! That's pretty awesome.

Also, she has a few interesting words about Narnia, and one that made me laugh:

If I didn’t still care so much about Talking Beasts, I wouldn’t want to scream “Why do you need a Son of Adam to rule you? One Beast, one vote! Trumpkin for President!”

Mostly because I just reread the Lord of the Rings, and earlier this year I plowed through the Belgariad, and I have to say I am getting a little annoyed with the King Hath Returned trope.

I suppose if your king disappears or something, you might start out with some hope, appoint a steward, and sit around waiting for the king. But I am not going to buy that it would last for one hundred years, much less a thousand--later generations wouldn't have an emotional attachment to some long-ago king, and they'd probably find some OTHER form of government, because dammit they have things to do NOW, and after a thousand years just waiting for The King to get back, you're going to get bored.

Which means that, decades or centuries later, if some clown came in proclaiming--and PROVING!--he was the Heir to the Ancient Throne, I would not expect the citizenry to really give a shit. "An unbroken line of firstborn males back to King Fabulous IV? Good for you! Anyway, it was nice to meet you, but I'm off to vote for our senators/watch the gladiatorial melee where the last man standing becomes Supreme Ruler/see who the astrologers picked to be in Parliament/pay homage to the third royal dynasty we've had since your ancestor fucked off to wherever. No, your kingly services are not needed. Thanks anyway!" Patrilineal divine right is not the only way to run a government.

Once again, Pratchett gets it more right than the ones he's parodying. Just goes to show.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Bat Signal)
Today's Discussion Question:

Show of hands, people. Did anyone else here besides me just not like Ender's Game? I'm not talking about the prevalent opinion of "Love the book. Shame about the author's raging douchenozzlery," which is a totally fair opinion to have. I'm talking about just being ragingly, compulsively unimpressed by the book itself.

I read it back in junior high, see. I think it was before I knew that Orson Scott Motherfucking Card was an unmitigated jackass, but I can't be entirely sure, since he's also a big source of pride for Utah and for a while he wrote a column for the Deseret News, the conservative Mormon paper around here.* I do recall getting a sense that he was a jerk from the book, but a poll of my classmates (we read it for class--Utah pride, remember) told me that nobody else got that sense,** and I've met a lot of cool folks since then who also didn't get that vibe.

But anyway, the upshot is that Ender's Game has always left me cold. I did not like or care about the characters. I did not really care about their fear of aliens, or their Battle Room strategies, or the kids' petty squabbles, or Val and Peter's Blogging For Change campaign. I spotted the twists before they happened and just thought the fact that Ender didn't made him seem kind of dim. The only thing I really liked was the revelation of the buggers' Oh Shit Moment when they realized they'd made a grievous assumption--and that was mostly an aside.

I know a lot of folks love it--pretty much everyone I talk to. So I'm just wondering--did anybody else have this response? Or was it just me?


*I'm not sure if he still does; frankly, I don't feel like looking it up.

**This doesn't prove anything, though, since some years later in high school only a select few of my classmates picked up on the fact that the chapter in Dickens' Our Mutual Friend in which the terrifyingly intense creepy stalker dude confesses to the hapless object of his desires that he is pretty literally crazy for her and he wants--and DESERVES!--to live inside her skin and breathe her breaths or somesuch was not supposed to be SWOONINGLY ROMANTIC. In retrospect, that discussion was a pretty good predictor of the success of Twilight.

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