slush as a form of meditation

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 03:31 pm
rushthatspeaks: (sparklepony only wants to read)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
The line I return to over and over about the slush pile is that all of human life is there, and I don't think I'm going to get sick of saying it. If I'm feeling particularly depressed about humanity, all I have to do is read slush for a while, and I will find something to make me feel better. Of course, if I'm feeling particularly good about humanity, all I have to do is read slush for a while, and I will find something that makes me despair for our future and, indeed, past and present as a species.

I feel as though at some point some ancient and secret confraternity of editors has codified the guidelines of slushomancy, and I hope someday they let me in on it: next year will be heavy on space squid, say, with a chance of light pastiche storms. I'm not sure you could use it to predict real events, although it certainly has about as much randomness included as any yarrow stalk or marrow bone.

There are a few trends that have become clear, of course. More fantasy than science fiction, always, always. Sad lesbians, or lesbians in romances that don't work out for one reason or another, are very in. People who write excessively effusive cover letters have frequently never learned how to use spellcheck. Every so often there will be a story I absolutely love which is simply completely wrong for the magazine, and I will have to write a very sad note reading Dear X, this is amazing, there is nothing wrong with it, I love it, have you tried a mainstream lit mag/a horror magazine/an erotica anthology? I always fear they won't believe me, is the problem with that.

Also, every so often we get actual answer stories, stories written in direct response to and in conversation with other works in the field. What fascinates me about these is which works people choose to respond to. I mean, more than fifty years on we are still getting direct replies to 'The Cold Equations'. That's a sub-genre of its own, people who object to something or other about 'The Cold Equations'. Which is fair, except that at this point I suspect it has all been done. There's that, and then responses to Ender's Game are a subgenre (one which has become more impassioned since Card proved to be... the kind of person he is), and then responses to 'The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas'.

We do occasionally get really good response stories. I'm not inherently against the idea of publishing them. But the problem with response stories is that you don't just measure their quality against your own standards, you measure them against the original, and while that isn't a horrific problem with Card or 'The Cold Equations', I feel bad for people who are directly attempting the prose style, let alone the story structuring, of Ursula K. Le Guin. Probably the best way to go prose-wise with an Omelas response would be to be as different as humanly possible, because direct comparisons are going to be odious. Unfortunately, this memo has not reached many of the writers in question.

Ah well. You can't make an Omelas without breaking a few egos.

(no subject)

Sunday, March 26th, 2017 09:44 pm
skygiants: Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle with Calcifer hovering over her hands (a life less ordinary)
[personal profile] skygiants
So I tried an experiment to see if it was possible to make a Howl's Moving Castle book vid using Howl's Moving Castle movie footage. Results: ???

(Results mostly that I need to get better at figuring out how to change targeted colors in Adobe Premiere, let's just pretend it's fine.)

Title: In Which Sophie Expresses Her Feelings In The Absence Of Weedkiller
Music: "You're A Cad," The Bird and the Bee



Download link

and then it was march

Sunday, March 26th, 2017 07:14 pm
silveraspen: blue phlox with poetic quote caption (fragmentary blue)
[personal profile] silveraspen
I'd always heard people say that time seems to move faster as one gets older.  Looks like that's true.  I'm not saying that it's a good or a bad thing - it just is.

Life continues, with all of its manifest miscellany.  This week, that involves being sick (for the second weekend in a month, which doesn't seem fair) and also being flat-out gleeful about the demise of the AHCA on Friday.  We'll see what comes next, but I will take victories wherever I find them right now, and that was a nice one.  No question.

Work also continues, though it feels slightly less frenetic than all of last year and half of the year before.  I'm sure there will be a small avalanche of things to come in the near future, but right now, in this moment, I'm enjoying the few minutes of breathing space.  I'm also actively contemplating a few options for fairly significant change within the next year or so.  It's time.  Probably past time, to be honest, but that's okay.

My dad's 80th birthday is coming up next month.  My sister came up with the idea of doing a big get-together for him; I'm helping, but I'm not going to be traveling there for it.  I'm okay with that, I think. Frankly, until I got her on the phone to talk about it, I was certain that he was going to hate the very idea of such a celebration - he usually does, or at least he has for about the last four decades.  She convinced me that it was different this time, and the ideas she has are sound ones, and she's taking on the majority of the planning, so -- fine.  I hope it goes well, and I'll help as I can.  If circumstances were different, I might try to move heaven and earth to be there. Maybe.  But as it turns out, I have several sets of plans of my own for that week and weekend, involving multiple people and multiple events, and I ... don't want to.  I feel a little weird about saying that, but -- it's true. And so, I'm going to make a quiet stand of my own against long-established social obligation, as it were.  Not that anyone will notice but me, but right now, that's what matters.

I don't think I'll regret it.  I don't.  And I'm going to Skype in, so there's that.  Three cheers for technology.

Anyway.  I took a break from doing stuff to do this, and I should probably get back to the other for the moment.  It's all part of changing old habits and developing new ones.
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
[personal profile] happydork
I have been daydreaming about f/f regency romances.

I may plausibly one day write one of these, but then again I may not. And either way, please do borrow/steal/adopt if you are so inspired — the world needs all the f/f regency fluff it can get.

The one that is really just Pride & Prejudice fanfic

Edit: FRIENDS!!! THIS ACTUALLY EXISTS!!! ~60K OF MARY/ANNE FANFIC!! I haven't read it yet, but eeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Edit 2: I HAVE READ IT NOW IT'S AMAZING GO READ IT YAY!


Mary, the priggish, unlovely and unloved middle daughter of five, is packed off to be the next in a long line of particular companions to her cousin-by-marriage Anne. She hopes that by her strong moral example and deep interest in scripture, she can become an inspiration and a comfort to poor sickly, ill-tempered Anne.

Chronically ill and utterly fed up Anne just wants everyone to stop fussing about her, but at least this latest nuisance is amusing — not least because of how much she annoys Anne’s mother.

Out from the hustle and bustle of her busy family, Mary finds a place to grow into herself, and learns that humility and humour are not always at odds. To her great surprise, Anne finds someone who actually listens when she talks, and may even have something worth saying in return.


The one that’s a bit my favourite Georgette Heyer set up, but also very clearly not

Stately, proper Mrs Sophia Banks, recently widowed after a not too unhappy marriage to the well-respected Reverend Banks, has always been conscious that while Caesar’s wife must be above reproach, that is far too low a standard for the daughter of an English missionary and his Yoruba wife. Her own youngest daughter is about to make an advantageous match, but a visit from a distant cousin on Sophia’s mother’s side may throw everything out of order.

Iron-willed Dowager Lady Margaret is charmed and delighted by her only son’s fiancee, Charity, the beautiful and modest youngest daughter of the Reverend and Mrs Banks, but privately worries that she is perhaps too good a match for her much indulged son, who does, after all, resemble his late father a little more than one might like. When Charity’s distant cousin, a bright young girl not at all impressed by this cold and stupid country and its cold and stupid people, comes on the scene, Lady Margaret wonders if perhaps the mistakes of one generation will not be repeated on the next.

Sophia’s hopes for Charity seem to be in direct opposition to Lady Margaret’s privileged idealism, but could their wishes for a better future and shared amusement at the vagaries of youth help them find common ground?


The one that’s In Orbit but longer, set slightly earlier, and with a bit more plot. (If you haven’t already read In Orbit, my one bijou published bit of original fic, this kind of spoils for it. Go read In Orbit first. It’s very short, and I’m still very proud of it.)

Sarah, raised by her grandfather the golem-maker, has only ever wanted to take apart the sky to see how it works. When the time comes for her to marry and continue the line, she dutifully goes to meet her grandfather’s friend’s three sons — and his one daughter, Naomi. Unbeknownst to the oldest son, she begins a correspondence with one of his tutors under his name, positing ideas about the inner workings of golems that raise questions about the nature of the universe and the structure of stars.

Naomi, fascinated by the witty, driven woman one of her brothers is to marry, begins her own preparations for adulthood. She dreams of a loud family, of love and laughter and her own secret life away from them. She can never settle on anything — not an ambition, not a husband, not a direction for her life — until somehow, without her noticing or consenting, love finds her.

Will Sarah’s academic dreams be crushed when her identity is revealed? Will Naomi pick a path and follow it the whole way? And what do the golems think of all this, if they think at all?


The one that’s a country house mystery

Sweet, good-natured Modesty is quite sure she doesn’t have an enemy in the world. Her only flaw, if indeed she has one, is that she is perhaps a little too much of a credit to her name — despite a very proper settlement from her loving uncle and not unappealing features, she has been out for three years and failed to make a match. She prides herself on seeing the best in everyone, and finding fault in no one. But during a fortnight in her uncle’s country estate she may finally meet her match in the cruel and quick-tongued wife of the internationally famed detective Mr Ghatge. Surely this wicked, heathen woman would try the patience of a saint?

Baiza and Daulat are the perfect double act. She plays the self-important fool, he the quiet genius, and together they solve crime and seduce men and women across three continents. But when they are hired to protect the naive Modesty from an unknown threat, Baiza finds herself a little more invested and a little less objective than she might wish to be. What does Modesty know that she’s not telling them? Why is her uncle so insistent that she shouldn’t find out about the Ghatges’ investigation? And would it really be so wrong to mix a little business with pleasure?

(no subject)

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 09:21 pm
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
[personal profile] skygiants
After reading Peter Beagle's Summerlong and being Tragically Unimpressed, I made my book club read Tamsin just so I could remember the Beagles I have loved before.

Tamsin is very much a Beagle I have loved before. As a teenager it was probably my favorite Beagle, even moreso than The Last Unicorn, just because I identified so hard with sulky, obstreperous Jenny Gluckstein, a Jewish New York teenager who moves to Dorset and promptly falls head-over-heels for a beautiful eighteenth-century ghost named Tamsin Willoughby.

I described the book this way in book club. "But I don't want to oversell you on how gay it is," I added, worriedly. "I mean I haven't reread it since I was a teenager. It definitely might not be as gay as I remember. Maybe it isn't gay at all, and I was just projecting!"

...rest assured, this book is very gay. We're not entirely sure if Beagle knows just how gay it is? There are numerous moments where Jenny describes in great detail the tingly feelings that Tamsin's quirky smile and vanilla smell and tiny ghost freckles make her feel, and then adds something like "I guess I'll probably feel that way about a boy someday!" Will you, Jenny? WILL YOU?

(I mean, maybe she will, bisexuality definitely an option, I'm just saying. The book is first-person, with the device of being an explanation of Everything That Went Down from the perspective of several years later for Jenny's friend Meena to read; the structure makes a whole lot more sense if one just assumes Jenny and Menna are by this point dating. Meena is in the book plenty! Thematically paralleled with Tamsin, even! Meena's jealousy of the time Jenny spends mysteriously disappearing to hang out with a ghost and Jenny's jealousy of Meena's tragic crush on The Boy She Pines For Across The Choir Benches is a whole thing!)

So yes, in retrospect, it turns out I still love Tamsin - even though, in retrospect, reading it now, it's a super weirdly-structured book. The first solid third of the book is all Jenny's SULKY OBSTREPEROUS AGONIZING TEENAGE FEELINGS about leaving New York, which is fine, I guess, except it introduces half a dozen characters that are super important to Jenny in New York and will never be important again. Then another character who's incredibly important to the finale of the book shows up maybe three chapters before the end, and Jenny's like "oh yeah, I forgot to mention her? But she's been here the whole time, having weird interactions with me the whole time, let's just pretend I've been talking about it, OK? OK."

Still, Jenny's amused-embarrassed voice looking back at all the time she spent as a hideously embarrassing teenager continues to ring about as true for me as it did when I myself was a hideously embarrassing teenager. I think I'm always going to love Tamsin for that.

(Also the tragic feline love story of between Jenny's actual factual cat and Tamsin's imperturbable ghost cat continues to delight.)

(no subject)

Monday, March 20th, 2017 09:45 pm
skygiants: Cha Song Joo and Lee Su Hyun from Capital Scandal in a swing pose (got that swing)
[personal profile] skygiants
So [personal profile] tenillypo and I have just finished watching a drama which is called I Hear Your Voice but which I have been calling, from the beginning, ACE ATTORNEY: KOREAN ROMCOM.

Our Heroine is a jaded public defender named Jang Hye Sung who needs to learn to believe in her clients! and the law!! assisted by a telepathic teenager who can read her clients' minds and tell her if they're innocent or not!!! Because that's definitely what you need to know, to do your job as a defense attorney!!!!

The storyline literally follows all the beats of an Ace Attorney game:

FIRST CASE - Easy Starter Case! A Failboat Friend Has Been Falsely Accused!
SECOND CASE - Bizarre Strangers Are Involved In An Inordinately Complicated Murder!
THIRD CASE - Someone We Care About Got Murdered!
FOURTH CASE - Someone We Care About Got Framed For Murder!
FIFTH CASE - Someone Is On Trial For Murder But It's All Tied To A Previous Murder Trial That Went Wrong Twenty Years Ago And Also The Principals In The Case Might Be Somebody's Long-Lost Parents Presumed Dead!

On the one hand, TRAGICALLY, nobody interrogates a parrot. OR a whale. On the other hand, dramatic amnesia, accidental stabbing, identical twin murder suspects, and MORE THAN ONE INCIDENT of a person cutting off a body part to fake their own death. Also, not even while playing an Ace Attorney game have I screamed "CONFLICT OF INTEREST! RECUSE YOURSELF!!!!" so much at a screen in my life, ever.

Now, OK, I've played lots of Ace Attorney games. I know how this goes and I can provide documentary screencap evidence )

(no subject)

Sunday, March 19th, 2017 06:41 pm
skygiants: Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender peers through an eyeglass (*peers*)
[personal profile] skygiants
As a comfort read project, I've been rereading the Lord Peter Wimsey books for the first time since I was in high school - with the exception of Murder Must Advertise, which I wrote a paper on in college, and The Nine Tailors, which I realized I'd never read after writing my paper on Murder Must Advertise and therefore read shortly afterwards. But I haven't hit either of those yet on my reread; I've currently gotten through Whose Body, Clouds of Witness, Unnatural Death, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, and Strong Poison, and I just hauled myself over the finish line of Five Red Herrings today.

It's been an interesting and occasionally unexpected experience. Here are some general impressions )

Five left, but of those five, three of them -- Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night, and Busman's Honeymoon -- are the ones that I remember best, so it'll be interesting to see if the reread continues to be as much of a voyage of discovery as the early ones have been or if the later books generally match up with the impressions they've already left in my brain.

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Friday, March 17th, 2017 02:41 pm
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Thanks to everyone who let us know that Photobucket images were not loading properly on some pages. The problem seemed to be mostly limited to HTTPS requests; Dreamwidth maintains a list of known high-traffic image sites that support HTTPS, so that our secure content proxy service doesn't cache them unnecessarily. Unfortunately Photobucket seems to have recently changed their site configuration such that HTTPS requests aren't being served as expected, and we've now taken it out of our list of "proxy-exempt" sites.

If you continue to have issues, make sure you're not using HTTPS Photobucket links. It's a bit counterintuitive, but if you use HTTP instead, it will be automatically transformed on our end to an HTTPS link that uses p.dreamwidth.org.

Hope that clears everything up for now! Let us know if it doesn't...

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