A collection of links for your entertainment

The making of Pacific Rim – 30 minute documentary.

Re-making the Real Middle Ages.

“Fists in the Mouth of the Beast”: On Irish Folklore. I don’t agree with the author completely, but on the folklore and the Other Ireland? Oh, yeah. That thing right there.

xkcd: Future Self. Oh, I love this one. (Dear past self: why did you leave so many square brackets? Why?)

Roman fort uncovered at Gernsheim. Via Bread and Circuses.

“We need citizens, not just taxpayers and bookkeepers.” Canadian, but widely applicable.

Reviews department reorganisation at Strange Horizons.

“What We’re Afraid To Say About Ebola.” Sobering editorial.

The One-Sex Body On Trial reviewed at the BMCR.

Elizabeth Bear on her Least Favorite Trope. Yeah, that’s one of mine, too.

And here’s a random kitten picture, via @fadeaccompli:

Books arrived!

The world is full of books.

The world is full of books.

That’s Tina Connolly’s COPPERHEAD (Tor), Tanya Huff’s THE FUTURE FALLS (DAW), Jacqueline Carey’s POISON FRUIT (Ace), Steven Erikson’s FORGE OF DARKNESS (Tor), Jack Campbell’s THE LOST STARS: IMPERFECT SWORD (Ace), Jacey Bedford’s EMPIRE OF DUST (DAW) and Julie E. Czerneda’s A PLAY OF SHADOWS (Daw).

Sometimes the height of Mt. TBR gets a little daunting.

Review copies in the last while: Bennett, Brennan, and Leckie

I am a bit slow about doing stuff lately.

No, very slow.

Slower than that.

But at least there are pictures.

Books by Robert Jackson Bennett, Ann Leckie, and Sarah Rees Brennan.

Books by Robert Jackson Bennett, Ann Leckie, and Sarah Rees Brennan.

That’s Robert Jackson Bennett’s CITY OF STAIRS, Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY SWORD (EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE) and Sarah Rees Brennan’s UNMADE.

That’s how the light gets in

So yesterday evening I was invited to a book launch for this book:

Ruth Frances Long's A CRACK IN EVERYTHING.

Ruth Frances Long’s A CRACK IN EVERYTHING.

A CRACK IN EVERYTHING, by Ruth Frances Long, at The Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar. I went, because I’d met Ruth at LonCon and she seemed like good people. And I was curious: the only book launch I’d ever been to before was for an academic book, at which there was much tedious speechifying and no copies of the book for interested parties to acquire. (I think they rather missed the point of a launch, there.)

I came home with the book, because there were cupcakes. (Delicious cupcakes.) And an interesting first chapter. Although it is entirely possible that I was primarily seduced by the cupcakes. Make of this what you will!

Books in brief: Bear, King, Galenorn, Redwine

Yasmine Galenorn, Bone Magic and Harvest Hunting. Berkley, 2010.

Oh, the terribleness of these books. Such terribleness. Such angst. Such faerie/werewolf/magic/vampire/poly/queer sex. It’s kind of glorious, in an utterly terrible all-the-urban-fantasy-clichés way.

C.J. Redwine, Defiance. Atom, 2012.

Can’t remember who told me I should read this. They weren’t exactly right. Bog-standard YA dystopia narrative, clearly drawing on John’s Apocalypse/millenarian reified symbols for its setting (not as imaginatively as Faith Hunter’s debut trilogy, alas), with a little too much illogical specialness thrown in. Not my sort of book, but probably appeals to the Divergent readership.

Elizabeth Bear, One-Eyed Jack. Prime, 2014.

An excellent urban fantasy set in 2002 Las Vegas, that plays with metafictionality while never breaking the fourth wall. Well recommended.

Laurie R. King, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, or, On the Segregation of the Queen. St. Martin’s Press, 1994. This edition Picador 2014.

Why did no one ever hit me over the head with the amazingness that is this book before? IT IS BRILLIANT GIVE ME ALL THE SEQUELS NOW.


In conclusion, Elizabeth Bear and Laurie R. King write damn good books.

Some final thoughts on LonCon3

It is still very weird to me, that I have finally met so many people in person whom I have known or encountered on the internet… and having the conversations in person feel like a completely natural extension of our previous conversations. A mental/intellectual/emotional comfort level translated really smoothly into a physical comfort level: I was hugging people left, right, and centre, because it felt perfectly appropriate. (If it wasn’t, I apologise.)

To be fair, by Sunday my general level of excitement/apprehension/overstimulation/lack-of-sleep turned into a sort of semi-drunken giddiness, without need for any alcohol. So my grasp of the appropriate may have suffered accordingly.

I should mention that I was able to attend the convention because of the generous support of the Dublin 2019 Worldcon bid towards my flights, as an Irish person up for a science fiction award and thus Promoting Science Fiction And Ireland. Think kindly of them: they did me a damned decent favour.

There have been a couple of posts floating around about the “generation gap” between LonCon3 and Nine Worlds, and drawing various different conclusions over which was “better.” For me, I was only at Nine Worlds for one day, and for that day very sleep-deprived, but my observations suggest that there were just more people at LonCon3 overall. I mean, sure, a majority were probably in the 40-60 age bracket, because that’s a demographic group with high odds of disposable income, independent mobility, and spare time, with a long tail off to the octogenarians and a more scattered spread of people from 0 years to 40 years – but that’s pretty much par for the course when you’re talking about doing anything. I saw an awful lot of family groups and quite a few college-aged people, and it was far more diverse than I’d been expecting – my previous experience being with attending a couple of Irish conventions, at which I mostly had far less fun that I have had at academic conferences, Worldcon in Glasgow 2005 (which I almost abandoned in tears because of existential alienation) and World Fantasy in Calgary in 2008 (which I attended as an experiment in trying to figure out how the professional writing/editing world worked when it was talking to itself, and which did drive me to tears of alienated loneliness).

Which is not to say it was a magnificent triumph of social justice and diversity. Just that clearly a lot of people did a shitload of work to reach out, and failed while trying to do better, rather than failing by not trying. This is my impression, anyway.

(And mad props to Programming, for the sheer amount of work that went into having a programme with so many different things going on. The Programme Guide terrified me with All The Things it contained, but also was pretty exciting.)

There’s one difference between the two London conventions that stands out to me, though. What startled me about Nine Worlds was the impression of affluence I got from the majority of people I saw, panellists aside – rightly or wrongly: maybe people were just wearing their Sunday best, I don’t know. But at LonCon3, I felt more comfortable because a lot of the people I encountered were either there to work or because it was their One Big Chance to meet everyone they knew and/or admired from their work.

(And a few Rich Old Entitled White Americans, but shit, you get those playing tourist all over Dublin all the time anyway.)

I’m a working-class sod with middle-class pretensions. The smell of Money makes me uneasy. And LonCon3 had less ritzy surroundings (seriously, the Radisson is always going to stink of the rentier classes, leaching the lifeblood of the working people) and it seemed more people who were there to Do A Thing, rather than Be Entertained.

(This distinction probably explains why I’ve always been more comfortable at academic conferences, where everyone is usually there to Do A Thing.)

Anyway. I don’t have an argument. I had fun. Have a cat picture.

Vladimir says hello.

Vladimir says hello.

Books in brief: Stross, Leckie, Kaveney, Lackey/Mallory, Hambly, Lackey/Edghill, Godfrey, Baldwin, Maddox

I have read over 150 books so far this year. Maybe I should slow down…?


Charles Stross, The Rhesus Chart. Orbit, 2014.

The fifth installment in Stross’s “Laundry Files” series. Rather more episodic than its predecessors, with an approach to pacing that staggers rather a bit in the middle, it never quite transcends the sum of its parts. But it’s a fun story with an interesting twist in the climax that clearly sets up some New Changes in the life of its protagonist, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword. Orbit, 2014. Review copy (electronic) courtesy of Orbit.

It is space opera, and could have been written JUST FOR ME. I love it as much as I loved its predecessor. Read this one for review for Tor.com: expect to hear more about it from me soon.

Roz Kaveney, Resurrections. Plus One Press, 2014. Review copy courtesy of the author.

Third in series, and what a fantastic bloody series it is. Kaveney isn’t afraid to make ambitious messes with mythology, genre furniture, and your own expectations. Structurally it’s not an entirely successful offering, but I love it incredibly much, and hopefully I’ll get to talk about it at length in a review somewhere else.

Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, The House of the Four Winds. Tor, 2014. Copy courtesy of the publisher.

A competent if not particularly exciting fantasy novel set in a version of our world sometime in the 1700s – with all the names of the countries changed, but still with things called “French doors.” It has pirates and the high seas, and doesn’t fuck up shipboard life entirely, but you can call the plotpoints in advance pretty easily.

Barbara Hambly, Crimson Angel. Severn House, 2014. eARC courtesy of the publisher.

The latest Benjamin January novel, and in my opinion one of the best. (Mind you, my two favourites are Graveyard Dust and Sold Down The River.) Here, death and threats and an old family secret lead Ben and Rose – accompanied by Hannibal Sefton – to Cuba, and thence to Haiti. A fantastic, powerful, atmospheric novel.

Sharon Kay Penman, The Queen’s Man and Cruel As The Grave. Ebooks.

Two mysteries set in 12th-century England from an acclaimed historical novelist. Fun mysteries, diverting but not particularly stunning.

Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill, Legacies, Conspiracies, Sacrifices, and Victories. Ebooks.

Four novels in a Young Adult series called “The Shadow Grail.” Which was fun, until it became reincarnated Arthurian mythos nonsense.

Shea Godfrey, Blackstone. Bold Strokes Books, 2014. Review copy (electronic) courtesy of the publisher.

Lesbian fantasy romance. The prose is competent enough, but there’s not a lot of plot to hold the attention in between fairly unimaginative sex scenes. It is probably fairer to describe this as “romance, subtype erotic” than anything else, and that’s not exactly my style.

Kim Baldwin, Taken By Storm. Bold Strokes Books, 2014. Review copy (electronic) courtesy of the publisher.

Lesbian romance. Bunch of Americans and a handful of other nationalities (who don’t have characterisation) get trapped in a train carriage during serious avalanches in the Swiss Alps. There is some interesting ice climbing stuff. Mostly it is more competent than not, although the lack of attention paid to non-USian characters is deeply annoying. Not particularly special, but good enough if you’re looking for more women having relationships with women while adventures happen.

Jaime Maddox, The Common Thread. Bold Strokes Books, 2014. Review copy (electronic) courtesy of the publisher.

Novel in which the lives of twins separated at birth come to intersect after a murder. The idea for the narrative is ambitious, but the execution is lacking. For all that, it is a perfectly readable book, if ultimately a little too… well, trite.