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Posted by Annalee Newitz

On a lazy evening in Regina, Saskatechwan, you can go to a bar called The Fat Badger, grab a beer, and put a little money into the jukebox if you want to hear an old country song about the prairies. Except the jukebox is my cousin, a soft-spoken guy named Marshall Burns, strumming guitar with his band The Alley Dawgs and singing as many classics as they know (and there are a lot). It’s the kind of thing you might have seen here 80 years ago. Or that you might see 180 years from now.

Two summers ago, when I was finishing the first draft of my novel Autonomous, I watched Marshall play and thought about the future. Back then he was at Leopold’s Tavern, and I’d come to the crowded bar with a bunch of family after a long dinner full of conversations about politics and art. This is the sort of thing we might do more often if there were an apocalypse, I mused. We’d gather in some communal shelter, after a day of hunting and gathering in the trashed wastes. Then somebody from our family would start to sing. We’d raise our voices too, to take our minds off the famine and plague and wildfires.

But it’s also the exact kind of thing we’d do in a Utopian future. Imagine us surrounded by carbon-neutral farms whose plants are monitored by sensors and satellites. Our brains would be crackling with ideas, thanks to government-funded science education. After a productive day in the fields and the labs, we’d gather at the co-op watering hole and sing our brains out in agrarian socialist solidarity. We’d all sound great too, because we’d have optimized our vocal chords with open source biotissue mods.

Maybe it sounds a little strange to say that Marshall’s old-fashioned songs gave me these vivid, contradictory images of the future. But I see the future clearly in these anachronistic moments. If we can still hear traditional prairie music in a modern city bar, then it’s a kind of guarantee that people of the future will still be listening to us. As Marshall sang, I could imagine distorted bits of my own culture still alive in a world utterly transformed by time’s passage.

That’s why, about a year later, I asked Marshall if he’d write a country song inspired by my novel for a book trailer. When he’s not being a human jukebox, Marshall is a professional musician and tours with indie rock band Rah Rah, so he took my request pretty seriously (also, he’s just kind of a serious guy). He thought the idea of writing a country song about a robot was pretty weird, which was exactly why I liked it. It represented that blend of past and future I’d seen in the Regina music scene, but also in lots of places on the Canadian prairies.

This is a province that has world-class universities and high-tech farming right alongside small towns with one-room schoolhouses. Go to a bar in Saskatoon, and you’ll find scientists and poets drinking alongside farmers and workers from the oil fields. I’m not saying the blend of tradition and modernity here is perfect—Saskatchewan’s indigenous people still suffer from the historical injustices of colonial conquest. Canada’s past haunts its future, reminding us of ongoing conflicts and unhealed wounds.

I wanted to capture all of that in Autonomous, which is about how the future comes to the prairies, still soaked in the blood of historical crimes. So when I commissioned Marshall to write the Autonomous song, I said something like, “Make it kind of sad.” What he created with this song about the robot Paladin—who is chasing our protagonist Jack Chen across the prairies where she was born—is both funny and sad. In its exaggerated twang you can hear the self-satire of prairie humor, always laced with genuine humbleness. And in its lyrics you can hear a protest against injustice that arcs through time, from the great 19th century Metis rebel leader Louis Riel, to the enslaved robots of Saskatchewan’s future.

Through Marshall, I met Regina filmmaker Sunny Adams, who created the amazing visuals for this video. Sunny animated a kaleidoscopic blend of images from Autonomous: there are scenes from the Saskatchewan prairies and the boreal forest to the north, as well as the science and robotics that are our protagonists’ lifeblood. There are a ton of Easter eggs, too; for people who’ve already read Autonomous, Sunny’s donut machine animation will be shiver-inducing.

What Marshall and Sunny created in this music video can’t rightfully be called a book trailer. Yes, it was inspired by my novel. But it’s also very much the product of their imaginations. It’s an example of what I like to call Canadian prairie futurism. It doesn’t pretend we can have a future without honoring and coming to terms with the past.

Though I have a lot of family whom I love dearly in Saskatchewan, I grew up in California. I’ve spent a lot of time on the prairies, but that’s not the same thing as being from there, living through dozens of those cold, dry winters. I’m very aware that my perspective is colored by my outsider status. Luckily the people of Saskatchewan are usually kind to outsiders. After all, you can’t just leave a person outside to freeze.

Plus, Canadian prairie futurism isn’t just about the prairies—it’s about how the future is taking place everywhere. Tomorrow doesn’t come just to the Tokyos of the world. It happens in Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan. It happens in a suburb outside Vancouver called Richmond. It happens in Tallinn and Samarkand, but it also happens on farms, and in countries that don’t make the G20 cut. Nobody is left behind by the future. But not all futures are exactly the same.

When you watch this video or read Autonomous, I hope it inspires you to think about how the future is a humble place. It’s a patchwork quilt made with what we’ve salvaged from the past. Some swatches are assembled from self-cleaning nanofibers; others will always be stained with the blood of a not-so-distant colonial past.

The pirate Jack and the robot Paladin are living in a future that is full of biotech wonders, but whose people still live in slavery. They don’t dream of spaceships like Luke Skywalker did. They dream of freedom from bondage. It is a humble dream. But maybe it’s the most audacious one.

Autonomous is available September 19th from Tor Books.

Annalee Newitz is an American journalist, editor, and author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship from MIT, and has written for Popular Science, Wired, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. She also founded the science fiction website io9 and served as Editor-in-Chief from 2008–2015, and subsequently edited Gizmodo. As of 2016, she is Tech Culture Editor at the technology site Ars Technica. Autonomous is Annalee’s first novel.

Walkway

Jul. 24th, 2017 03:53 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Walkway_1


Since the drought broke in southern California, they’ve had to add fences to keep the plants from taking over the roadways.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Posted by Theresa DeLucci

So, taking the Iron Throne isn’t going to be as easy as striding into King’s Landing and demanding it, now is it?

This week saw some hard lessons for the ladies of Game of Thrones, just when it seemed they were going to be on top. (Exempt from this turnabout: Missandei.) Littlefinger’s gonna leer, Spider’s gonna keep swimming, and Theon’s gonna… Reek.

Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.

I suppose my brain is still too in the books, because I thought for sure the great “prize” Euron was planning on giving Cersei was a certain dragon-controlling horn. But, it’s probably more immediately pleasing for Euron to give his intended bride the Dornish snake-mom in open rebellion against the crown, who was also responsible for poisoning Cersei’s daughter.

So, even though I knew Euron’s haute couture fleet was out there somewhere, I was not thinking that he’d cross paths with Theon and Yara so soon. Even though parts of this episode felt a million years long. Time passes so strangely in Westeros.

But, while I still think it’s a bit unfair that Euron was able to pull off such a devastating ambush—watching four seasons of Black Sails has made me an armchair pirate—the sneak attack itself was terrifying and tense. Greyjoys gonna reave and rape. That last bit will be particularly concerning to Euron’s new captives, which most definitely include Yara and Ellaria, but also possibly Tyene? Please don’t make us watch.

I’m so conflicted; I hate Euron, but he killed 66% of the Sand Snakes, who I also hated. I used to be so pro-Greyjoy, but I am just not here for this swaggering kraken version of Euron. Euron is no Ramsay, who was no Joffrey. Euron’s not even a Viserys. At least Viserys provided a dramatic foil for Dany, so he served an important character function. It’s clear Euron’s going to be the new Big Bad of the season, fucking everything up for everyone with magical plot devices that I already hate. And the way they telegraph this fact is that Euron easily kills characters who, by rights, should be way more skilled in combat than him. Come on, I loathed the Sand Snakes, but it’s just insulting that they were taken out by such a Greyjoy.

A one-liner spewing Greyjoy, no less.

“Give your uncle a kiss.” I’d say this was the worst line in Game of Thrones history, but it came 10 minutes after Ellaria made a terrible innuendo about “foreign invasions” of Yara. Seven Hells.

Also rubbish? Cersei’s new anti-dragon defence crossbow. Okay, so I guess Dany’s dragons are Smaug now? What are the chances you can get that close to a direct hit on a dragon as it’s breathing fire down your neck? Cersei is so hilariously doomed.

Cersei doesn’t know it, but she can breathe a little easier on her throne for a few more episodes because Arya decided to go North once her bud Hot Pie (!) told her Jon is King of the North. It’s wild how there are people who exist in Thrones who know nothing about Jon Snow! I forget that. Arya’s whole demeanor changed.

Dany really doesn’t know Jon Snow and doesn’t seem open to the idea of a King of the North. But I’m sure after an initial meet-not-so-cute, she’ll fall under the spell of Kit Harrington’s curly hair and insane abs, like so many a woman, and all will be forgiven. I still think Dany is the Prince that Was Promised; Missandei correcting the translation of Melisandre’s prophecy was perfect. Dany may not wield a literal sword of light, but, what if she can control the arm who does? Everything else about Azor Ahai seems to fit the Mother of Dragons.

Meanwhile, Jon is not the best at inspiring confidence, which is why I have a hard time picturing him ultimately taking the Iron Throne at series’ end. King of the North, sure, but it’s clear his expertise is strictly in the North. He’s a war-time King, but not like Robert. While Dany may be naive to think she can so easily bring peace to the Seven Kingdoms, she’s more prepared for it and while I see some of that Targ madness creeping around the edges of her, she’s in battle-mode now herself. She needs to be the Dragon now, not a more nurturing mother. So, I agree with Olenna to an extent, but don’t want Dany to completely disregard clever men like Varys and Tyrion, either. As morally gray as both of these men are, I do believe they care more about the bigger picture of the small folk they want to govern.

Final Thoughts:

  • “That’s not you.” Nymeria! I loved that reunion scene. I loved how it echoed Ned Stark’s words to Arya way back when she was given a dancing instructor. You can’t domesticate a direwolf. Will Arya, like the Hound, ever be able to live a simple, domestic life after everything that’s happened to her? Will her encounter with her direwolf make her rethink her decision to go home to Winterfell? I sure hope not.
  • Last week, Game of Thrones ruined lentil soup; this week it’s chowder. Damn, the last two episodes’ editing was brilliant. But also I liked lentil soup and chowder.
  • Maybe there’s hope Jorah will live out his days in Dany’s Friendzone, after all, instead of a Valyrian leper colony!
  • Let’s put Littlefinger in a leper colony. Just, no. I’m glad Jon wasn’t going to take Littlefinger with him to meet Dany, but nothing good will come of him skulking around Winterfell with Sansa.
  • Oh, Theon. I was completely surprised but also not surprised that he chickened out on saving his sister, but it was definitely foreshadowed with Ellaria’s lame joke earlier in the hour. He will never be completely recovered from his trauma and I think that speaks to a certain mature delicacy of handling PTSD.
  • While Theon couldn’t find his courage, two other victims of years of systemic abuse as slaves took a great leap forward to confront their fears. I legit got a lump in my throat when Grey Worm talked about being afraid of Missandei and the vulnerability his love for her gave him, the bravest of the Unsullied. While this was the scene I felt went on a few beats too long—and the mature folks at my viewing party were annoyed that we never got a peek at what exactly was going on with Grey Worm’s worm because apparently it matters to some people—I’m going to give it a pass this time because I’m happy that these two finally got some sexy payoff. Isn’t it funny how Grey Worm did a Tyrion move without even knowing it? Now they really have something in common to discuss for a real conversation.
  • I got two takeaways from the Game of Thrones panel I managed to sneak into at San Diego Comic-Con: fans really love Gwendoline Christie and Varys looks SUPER WEIRD with hair. Watch the new trailer below:

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing, Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast and Den of Geek. Reach her via raven or on Twitter.

I had a weekend!

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:32 am
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[personal profile] oracne
Saturday was very hot and humid. I did laundry, stumbled home, then stumbled out again to run errands. I ran into a friend (Tom Purdom) in front of a coffee shop so we went inside and got iced drinks and talked about Dunkirk as one does, since we were both planning to see the movie.

I got cash and bought subway tokens and sweated a lot.

Then I met up with C. in late afternoon for the movie Dunkirk, which we saw in IMAX, bass and the sounds of explosions booming from under out seats. I ate popcorn for lunch while watching people get blown up and drown and burn but also get rescued. Sometimes all of the above, in different orders.

This movie was what I call a Spectacle. I liked it best when it was all stark visuals and no dialogue (the dialogue was minimal). The splendid British actors did a great deal with their faces and posture; Tom Hardy as a Spitfire pilot acted almost entirely with his eyes, as the rest of his face was covered in helmet. (Jack Lowden, playing another pilot, was out of his cockpit for more screntime.) The movie was documentary-style, where you don't know the characters' backstory or hopes or dreams (with one exception); you're in the moment throughout, and the moment keeps jumping around, and you can't always keep track of the sequence. I feel I had an experience worth having.

After, being much luckier than those poor people trapped at Dunkirk, we had dinner at a great new tapas place in South Philly called Barcelona. Cue Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe!

Trailer!

Jul. 24th, 2017 04:33 pm

quick update

Jul. 24th, 2017 08:29 am
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[personal profile] morgandawn
am working on Vividcon plans. we just spent 4 days trying to trap an injured feral cat on our property (we were successful. or rather all the people who did the work were. I was cheerleading and getting sunburned) so we've fallen waaaaay behind.  and today we are off to see a specialist that we've been trying to see for 10 months (he travels doing medical research). and [personal profile] xlorp is in the midst of emergency coverage for 2 co-workers who are out on family leave/vacation. and....



Torchwood: Fanfic: Glass Hearts

Jul. 24th, 2017 04:19 pm
badly_knitted: (Owen)
[personal profile] badly_knitted posting in [community profile] fan_flashworks




Title: Glass Hearts
Fandom: Torchwood
Author: [personal profile] badly_knitted
Characters: Owen, Katie, Jack.
Rating: PG
Word Count: 707
Spoilers: Fragments
Summary: When he lost Katie, Owen discovered that he wasn’t as tough as he’d always thought.
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge #198: Glass.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.



Glass Hearts... )

Room available in group block

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:01 am
aerye: (Default)
[personal profile] aerye posting in [community profile] vividcon
I am not going to Vividcon this year--but I have a reservation in the group block for Thursday through Saturday (Sunday departure). It's a room with a king bed.

If anyone can make use of it I'm happy to transfer it to you. My only concern is that my credit card not get charged. Feel free to signal boost. If I don't get a nibble by Friday, then I will just cancel the reservation.

Thanks!

Drive-by Vividcon Message

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:56 am
aerye: (Default)
[personal profile] aerye
I am not going to Vividcon this year--but I have a reservation in the group block for Thursday through Saturday (Sunday departure). It's a room with a king bed.

If anyone can make use of it I'm happy to transfer it to you. My only concern is that my credit card not get charged. Feel free to signal boost. If I don't get a nibble by Friday, then I will just cancel the reservation.

DM me if you can make use of it.

Thanks!
jazzfish: "Do you know the women's movement has no sense of humor?" "No, but hum a few bars and I'll fake it!" (the radical notion that women are people)
[personal profile] jazzfish posting in [community profile] poetry
from The Creation of Éa, by Ursula K. Le Guin
(from A Wizard of Earthsea)

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk's flight
on the empty sky.

Music meme: day 15 of 30

Jul. 24th, 2017 03:31 pm
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[personal profile] liv
A song that is a cover by another artist. I think this has to be Tori Amos' cover of I don't like Mondays, originally by the Boomtown Rats.

Tori Amos was I think the first musician I really got intensely into, beyond just enjoying the sound of somebody's music. The single Cornflake girl was on the radio a lot in the mid 90s, and I quite liked it but didn't have any context. Then I met MK when we were both up for Oxford interview, and became instant friends. He put a lot of effort into supporting me through a somewhat bumpy transition from sheltered child to independent person, including dealing with a bereavement that hit me really hard when I was 19. He's also responsible for introducing me to digital socializing (email, instant messenger, Usenet to an extent, and the wonderful world of peer-to-peer file sharing). And he played lots of Tori songs for me when I was sitting in the dark crying about letting go of childhood naive optimism. I bought Little earthquakes on CD, and had access to a lot of Tori's oeuvre for all of the 90s via not entirely licit digital copies. Not only Tori Amos, there was a lot of alt stuff especially goth that I picked up from [personal profile] doseybat, but Tori Amos was pretty much the soundtrack of inventing myself as an adult.

I don't like Mondays was almost a novelty thing in a way, recorded with a bunch of much less successful covers, of things like Smells like teen spirit which really doesn't work for Amos' musical style, most of which were never commercially released. This one did make it to Strange little girls, the concept album of gender-bent cover songs, which I was never fully convinced by. I haven't been strongly into Tori Amos' music since 2000, not that I think it's bad but it isn't part of my psyche in the way that the 90s material is. But anyway, it's a remix of a song written in response to a school shooting in the late 70s. The original is meant to be ironic, but it comes across as so inappropriately jolly that it often gets played on the radio as a joke song, here's one to cheer you up from your Monday commuting blues... Tori Amos' cover is a total reworking, without any irony at all, just sadness about a teenaged girl turning a gun on her schoolmates.

So it kind of epitomizes why Tori Amos meant a lot to me at that time in my life; she wrote and performed beautiful songs (she's a classically trained musician) about serious subjects which she took seriously. But that seriousness isn't about glorying in the violence and ugliness, it's about challenging it. video embed, audio only )

As a bonus, have kd lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. It's a song that gets covered way too often, nearly always as a kind of soppy lovesong that really fails to do justice to the extremely powerful original. So basically I hate Hallelujah covers, except this one. Again, it's very different from Cohen's original, but it's an emotionally serious interpretation in its own right which doesn't cheapen its source material.
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Posted by Judith Tarr

This part of the thought experiment is going to be tough, because if it was hard to set aside human assumptions about sex and violence, the ones about religion can be downright intractable. Just as it’s a given that sex must be an obsession and mass violence must be inevitable in a sentient species, it may be argued from the (Western, patriarchal) human model that every sentient species must worship some sort of god.

But is it a given?

When it comes to sex and war, we can observe equine behavior and extrapolate from it, but there’s no such evidence for belief in divine power. There’s no way to ask, and it’s not something we can deduce from behavior. Unlike dogs, who seem (to human eyes) to tend toward adoration of their human companions, horses maintain a certain distance. They may bond with a human, sometimes deeply, but it’s a partnership, a sense that each side meets the other halfway. Horses tolerate human behavior rather than try to emulate it; the human may join the herd, but the horse isn’t making an effort to join the human pack.

Herd order is a hierarchy, that much we do know, but it’s fluid and no one individual remains supreme. Age, illness, accident or predation will bring down the lead mare, and the lead stallion will eventually lose a battle and therefore his herd. He may die, or he may withdraw to a solitary existence, possibly with one or two mares who follow him when he goes. Or not.

(In one of those bits of synchronicity that often happens when a writer is at work, I just this moment received an alert about a study that concludes that there is in fact no totally dominant mare, and the stallion does not lead, rather he follows and guards the herd, rounds up stragglers, and generally acts to keep the group together. The overall order is remarkably egalitarian, and herd ranking is even more fluid than science had been led to believe. My own observation is that there are individuals with more confidence, who take the lead more often, and others who are more likely to give way, but again—it’s flexible. So: interesting, and hey, science!)

Would sentience bring with it the need to invent a god? There’s no way to answer that, but from what I know of horse behavior, I think probably not. But there might be other reasons for a religion-like structure to develop.

The purpose of religion in the cultures I’m aware of seems primarily to be behavioral control. Mandating some behaviors, forbidding others. Backing up the secular authority with the authority of a superior being or beings. Humans keep gravitating toward this, for reasons no one truly understands. Maybe it’s genetic, as that TIME magazine article supposes.

Belief in a god or gods might not happen in an equinoid society, but what we can postulate from terrestrial equine behavior is that ritual could definitely be a thing. Ritual might mark important events: raising and deposing stallions, embarking on or returning from enterprises, celebrating the birth of a foal, mourning the death of a herd member. It might also serve a more practical purpose.

Horses are creatures of habit. It’s a common saying among horsepeople, “If he does it twice, he’s always done it.” They like their routine and can become seriously disconcerted if it’s broken: a different route for the day’s ride, a pile of dirt that wasn’t in that corner before, a change in the feeding schedule, even something as seemingly minor as a different brush or a new halter. Change, a horse will tell you, is dangerous, and can be death.

That’s the prey animal in action. If something is different about the environment, there may be a predator involved. Since the horse’s best defense is flight, her first impulse will be to get the hell out of there. If it turns out not to be a Horseasaurus Maximus on the prowl for lunch, she can always circle back to what she was doing before.

Now, add to this that in confinement or under other forms of stress, horses can develop chronic behavioral problems such as pawing, weaving, pacing, or wind-sucking. Horses can manifest OCD, in short. They can get very, very focused and very, very ritualistic in their actions.

I could see ritual as a way of dealing constructively with these aspects of equine psychology. A “Fear is the Mind-Killer” ritual for panic attacks in new situations or when there are big changes in the environment. Desensitization rituals to prepare individuals or groups for travel or exploration. Even “de-rituals” for horses with OCD, to break them out of repetitive patterns and get them thinking in useful directions.

I think a lot of these rituals would be based on movement. Dance, if you will. Marches and quadrilles, whole herds moving in synchrony. Greeting and farewell dances. Mating rituals: stallions courting, mares accepting or rejecting.

Marriage, no, not in a polygamous species. But when a stallion wins a herd through ritual combat, he receives a formal welcome from the mares.

Do they invoke the Great Herd Goddess? Maybe not. But there is a clear connection among members of a herd. Horses are extremely sensitive to small shifts in movement, to changes in the air, to smell and sound but also to each other’s proximity. They’re energy beings to a high degree.

Acupuncture works on them, beautifully. So does Reiki, which a serious test of one’s modern Western skepticism. To watch a horse’s face just about slide off while a Reiki practitioner stands there with a hand half an inch from his neck is a very interesting experience. You can’t placebo a horse. Something is happening, and he’s showing it in clear and unambiguous ways.

So maybe, in a spacefaring equinoid, there’s a sense of the Great Overmind, the herd-connection that holds all the species together. Every individual is connected with every other. They’re singular selves, but also collective beings. The individual who separates permanently from the herd is regarded as a terrible deviant, and true solitude, the life of the hermit, is just about unthinkable.

Western-style religion in the sense of a moral framework might be comprehensible to an equinoid (though not the god part or the dogma part), but there are other practices that would make more sense. Consider that a horse only sleeps for about three hours a day. Her knees lock; she can sleep on her feet. She will lie down for short periods, up to forty-five minutes on the average, and she will go flat and even seem to be dead. She will dream.

The rest of the time she’s grazing, socializing, or dozing—or meditating. Meditation is a very horse-like thing to do. Being still or moving slowly, in rhythmic motions; existing in the moment, going deep inside or extending awareness all around one’s stillness. These are things horses do every day.

They make a meditation of dance, too. Air for them is like the ocean for a dolphin; their spatial awareness is acute, as it needs to be for an animal designed to function in a herd. A horse in motion for the sake of motion has an almost dreamlike expression, a deep focus on what his body is doing. Those big bodies are tremendously strong and balanced and athletic, and the minds inside them are very well aware of this. They take joy in it.

A human analogue would be yoga and similar practices. They’re not about gods or dogma, but about mind and body and their connection to the universe. A horse would get that. In fact I’m only half ironically convinced that my horses, especially the eldest one (she is very wise), are Bodhisattvas. They have that deep calm and that air of being at one with the world.

Imagine that in space. Would they proselytize? I doubt it. Horses tend to be self-contained; they don’t try to be anything but what they are, and I don’t see them trying to convince anyone else to be like them. But they would teach by example. Other species would want to join them, the way humans have managed to partner with horses through the millennia. (Sure, they’ve been indispensable as transport and as war machines, but the myth of the Centaur tells us a great deal about the subtext: that horse and human are one being.)

It’s an article of faith within the herd, that individuals have to get along. The group suffers otherwise, and loses its ability to fend off predators. I could see this extending to planet-wide herd relations, and proving useful in space. In a meeting of spacefaring cultures, the equinoids well might be the diplomats, the ones who make the connections, who smooth the way and resolve conflicts. And the dance performances would be amazing.

Judith Tarr is a lifelong horse person. She supports her habit by writing works of fantasy and science fiction as well as historical novels, many of which have been published as ebooks by Book View Cafe. Her most recent short novel, Dragons in the Earth, features a herd of magical horses, and her space opera, Forgotten Suns, features both terrestrial horses and an alien horselike species (and space whales!). She lives near Tucson, Arizona with a herd of Lipizzans, a clowder of cats, and a blue-eyed spirit dog.

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July 24th, 2017next

July 24th, 2017: NON-CANON

San Diego Comic Con was AMAZING: I met so many great and interesting readers, got to meet some people that I really admire, and won two (TWO!) Eisner Awards, for my work on Squirrel Girl and Jughead! IT WAS PRETTY AMAZING!!

– Ryan

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Posted by Stubby the Rocket

Children of Time Adrian Tchaikovsky Arthur C. Clarke Award

Summit Entertaiment and Lionsgate Pictures will bring Adrian Tchaikovsky’s science fiction novel Children of Time, with its Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning imagination and its shudder-inducing sentient-spiders premise, to the big screen. A recent press release from Pan Macmillan announces that the film rights have been optioned.

“I couldn’t be happier about this,” said Bella Pagan, Editorial Director at Pan Macmillan. “Adrian’s fabulous book has been optioned by a fabulous production company with an incredible reputation.”

The official synopsis for Children of Time, which took home the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2016:

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age—a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

Adrian’s more recent works include the fantasy trilogy Echoes of the Fall: The Tiger and the WolfThe Bear and the Serpent, and the forthcoming trilogy finale The Hyena and the Hawk, publishing in spring 2018.

calls out from the void

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:34 am
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Hey there!  I know that a lot of folks migrated over from LJ last year and courteously sent me invitations to subscribe to their accounts, which have now long since disappeared.  If you see this and if you'd like to share subscription/access, let me know what your new account name is and we can do that whole clicky thing and maybe I can start getting caught up.  I'm reluctant even to log into LJ which  (I switched my Kaspersky protection two months ago) but I may have to bit the bullet and just DO IT so I can caught up.   
Love you!
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Posted by Kelly Quinn

Something is happening in the anime fandom, and anime fans aren’t pleased.

If you’re someone who likes to watch anime, you may have been hearing the backlash against Amazon’s new channel, Anime Strike. The service has angered fans by snapping up exclusive licenses to many of the most anticipated shows and putting them behind a steep paywall. Meanwhile, this season sees Netflix continue its practice of exclusively licensing shows, then locking them away until they can release a season at time—long after the show has already finished airing in Japan.

Why does this matter? Both strategies effectively remove a show from popular conversation, and thus from the notice of a large portion of viewers. It’s a frustrating reversal of the increasing accessibility and reach that anime has enjoyed in the last few years under services like Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Daisuki. Rather than opening up the market, Amazon and Netflix appear to be shutting the door on old fans and new viewers alike. This is a trend I very much don’t love, especially since my most anticipated show of the season—Welcome to the Ballroom—is a victim of this new distribution regime.

With my Anime Strike tirade out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. As always, I have watched as many of the summer season’s new offerings as I can stand, and picked just five of the best new shows worth your time. Yes, unfortunately many of them are on Anime Strike. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying what this season has to offer—a big helping of of fantasy adventure, a sweet romance, and, of course, ballroom dancing.

 

Welcome to the Ballroom

Tatara Fujita’s plan to get through school consists of keeping his head down and not giving bullies any reason to hit him. When he’s saved from a back-alley beating by a motorcycle-riding ballroom dance champion, Tatara is reluctantly roped into a trial class at the nearby studio. What starts as polite interest becomes a fascination—for the first time, Tatara finds something he wants to be good at, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get to the top.

Continuing the trend of anime about unusual sports (ice skating, anyone?), this sports show—yes, ballroom is a sport in this context—is this season’s must-watch title. Adapting a popular manga by Tomo Takeuchi, Ballroom has everything one might want in a sports show: a plucky underdog, an aloof rival, grueling training, and an incredibly infectious enthusiasm for its subject. The greatest challenge with this adaptation was always going to be the dancing, and so far the animation team at Production I.G. has done a stellar job with it. I really, really love this manga, and I encourage anyone who can stomach giving money to Amazon to check it out.

For fans of: Yuri!!! On Ice, Haikyuu!!, Yowamushi Pedal

Watch it now on Anime Strike

 

Tsuredure Children

Love is hard, especially when you’re a teenager. Tsuredure Children tells the loosely intertwined stories of young love, from the unrequited crush of a girl on her upperclassman to an unlikely connection between a school delinquent and the straight-laced student council president.

This warm, funny little romance show has been easily the most pleasant surprise of the season for me. An adaptation of Toshiya Wakabayashi’s 4-koma manga (that’s a four-panel comic, sort of like the manga version of a comic strip), Tsuredure Children is a half-length show, but twelve minutes is kind of the perfect dose of these quirky interactions. Not much more needs to be said here—the charms of the show speak for itself. Check it out when you want to feel warm and fuzzy.

For fans of: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, Horimiya, Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless, Daily Lives of High School Boys

Watch it now on Crunchyroll (thank goodness)

 

Made in Abyss

Riko is training to be a Cave Raider, a group of elite explorers that probe the depths of the mysterious and dangerous Abyss. No one knows how the Abyss came to be, but expeditions have revealed rare magical artifacts and creatures unlike anything on the surface. After Riko’s life is saved by a strange mechanical boy in the upper levels of the Abyss, she is more determined than ever to descend deeper into the chasm. There, she hopes to find not just treasure, but also clues about her mother, a legendary explorer who went missing over a decade ago.

This fantasy adventure (based on a web manga by Akihito Tsukushi) has an old-school quality about it, feeling more akin to Nausicaa, Dennou Coil, or Hunter x Hunter than recent isekai offerings that ape JRPG-style fantasy worlds. It is already obvious that the strength of Made in Abyss lies in its worldbuilding—right off the bat, we are offered a magical, immersive, and lethal world begging to be explored. The first two episodes also reveal this to be a polished production, with an almost cinematic atmosphere and great attention put into small details and large, scary monsters alike. Abyss has definitely caught my interest, but proceed with caution—manga readers warn that the childlike character designs belie much darker content later in the series.

For fans of: Hunter x Hunter, From the New World/Shin Sekai Yori, Suisei no Gargantia, Patema Inverted

Watch it now on Anime Strike

 

Altair: A Record of Battles

Mahmut is a military and political prodigy, one of the youngest pasha in Turkiye’s storied history. When the powerful Balt-Rhein Empire accuses Turkiye of assassinating one of their foreign ministers, war between the two powerful nations seems inevitable. Mahmut is willing to do anything to prevent the conflict. But even if he can discover the truth behind the assassination, can he get the council of generals to believe him?

This historical fantasy, based on a gorgeous manga by Kotono Kato, mushes up 16th century Mediterranean history to create a rich world predicated on savvy political maneuvering and the constant threat of multinational war. As a fan of the manga, I am hopeful but not entirely sold on this adaptation so far. The first episode gets bogged down in flashbacks and passes over opportunities to streamline initial story arcs. The second episode, however, is much stronger, and I’m hoping that the show will hit its stride as the plot picks up. I am keeping an eye on Altair, and you should too—it’s not often that we get such an intricate fantasy set in this region of the world.

For fans of: The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Yona of the Dawn, Kingdom, Magi

Watch it now on (you guessed it) Anime Strike

 

Little Witch Academia

Ever since Akko saw a magical performance from celebrity witch Shiny Chariot as a child, she has dreamed of doing magic. When she’s admitted into Luna Nova Magical Academy, an all-girls school for young witches, Akko thinks she’s one step closer to her idol. But magic school isn’t as easy as it looks. Besides being the only student from a non-magical family, which makes her stick out like a sore thumb, Akko just can’t quite seem to get any of her spells right—or manage to stay out of trouble—no matter how hard she tries.

FINALLY, right? Netflix has at last released Little Witch Academia (well, at least the first half) from its holding pen and made it bingeable to the wider world. I’ve described this show previously as Harry Potter meets Saturday morning cartoons, and I still think that’s a pretty apt description. The colorful, witchy cast plus Studio Trigger’s madcap visual humor and taste for splashy action makes this a fun watch for all ages. This TV version gives us more plot and characters than did either of two shorts (Little Witch Academia and Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade), so buckle up for a bit more substance and lot more goofy magical adventures.

For fans of: The other two Little Witch Academia anime, I guess.

Watch it now on Netflix

 

Watch are you watching this season? Tell us in the comments!

Kelly Quinn is a children’s librarian and professional anime watcher. You can find her talking about excellent fiction and manga on Twitter.

new Penric impending

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:56 am
filkferengi: filk fandom--all our life's a circle (Default)
[personal profile] filkferengi posting in [community profile] vorkosigan
Lois McMaster Bujold says, here:

https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/15463253-new-penric-impending

I am pleased to report that I have finished the first draft of a new Penric & Desdemona novella. (For that peculiar value of "finished" that means, "still dinking till it's pulled from the writer's twitchy hands.")

Title will be "Penric's Fox"

Length, at this moment, is around 37,400 words. It is more-or-less a sequel to "Penric and the Shaman", taking place about eight or nine months after that story.

Final editing and formatting, arranging for cover art to send it out into the world nicely dressed, etc., will take some unknown amount of time and eyeball-endurance, but e-pub will likely happen in August.

My computer file tells me I started typing the opening on March 3rd, but of course there was lead-up to that. It is, in general, hard to tell or remember when a project segues over from "notion" to "planning", although the notion had been with me for some time. Story notions are like a collection of vaguely related objects rattling around in a box; planning starts when some key object that connects them all drops in, and things suddenly get interesting.

Ta, L.

Time wasting

Jul. 24th, 2017 03:22 am
aris_tgd: Whitestar crashing, "And when you fall as Lucifer fell, you fall in flame" (Whitestar Lucifer Fall)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
I got an invite to the closed alpha of Sunless Skies, so when it wouldn't load I decided to take Sunless Sea for a turn and make sure that it wasn't on my end. Turned out there were a few things I could fiddle with to get both of them working properly (Sunless Sea originally wouldn't load, then I looked in its settings and found out that it had been set to a window size of 1280x3. Not 300, 3.)

So... Sunless Sea, man, that's rather addictive.

I now have like five dead zee-captains. Alas, poor... whoever.

My favorite death actually was when I was out of fuel and prayed to one of the gods of the underzee, who decided to drop me in port at Kingeater's Castle, the farthest point on the map. It was obviously somewhere my tiny little steamer Should Not Have Been. And then I got blown to smithereens, which is how most of my adventures have ended.

Still haven't managed to get back to port with those smuggled souls for the Cheery Man, blast it! I managed to pick them up successfully once, but nothing else.

Oh, Sunless Skies? Looks pretty! It hasn't really crashed since I got it to actually run, but there's not much to actually do in it yet. They're still building systems.
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[personal profile] sovay
I do not think after all that I have read Nicholas Stuart Gray's The Apple-Stone (1965); I think I have just read a lot of E. Nesbit, Mary Norton, and Edward Eager, all of whom are obviously in the DNA of a novel about five children—the English narrator and his two sisters plus their Scottish cousins who are known collectively as "the Clans"—who find a strange, ancient, sentient power that brings magic into their lives for about a week and then moves on, leaving mostly memories and just a few things changed for good.

"One touch from me animates the inanimate," boasts the Apple-Stone, the "small, bright, golden ball, about the size of a marble" that assisted in the birth of the universe and gave rise to the myth of the Golden Apples of the Sun; the children find it on the highest bough in the orchard, like a Sappho fragment come to life, and they make enlightening, foolish, dangerous, and kind use of it over the next twelve chapters until it returns to the earth to sleep and restore its power and find another apple tree to bloom from, decades or centuries hence. Most of their adventures have a comic slant, as when they animate the decrepit hearthrug to settle a bet over what kind of animal it came from and never find out because they spend the day having confused their "Lambie" with an actual escaped leopard prowling the moors, or have to play detectives for a lost glove weeping bitterly over being separated from its beloved right hand ("I'm deeply attached to it. I love it"), or create an intelligent, talkative, opera-loving sheep about twice the size of a Great Dane for reasons that make sense at the time. Sometimes the comedy turns spooky, as when they accidentally animate a feather boa and get Quetzalcoatl, who not unreasonably expects a sacrifice for incarnating when called, or an episode with a formerly model rocket triggers an international incident and science fiction, or the narrator discovers an unexpected and unwanted affinity for night flight on a witch's broom. An interlude with an effigy of a Crusader constitutes the kind of history lesson that would fit right into Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill (1906), as some of the children have their romantic illusions punctured and some come away with an interest in astrology and medicinal plants. And the two weirdest, most numinous chapters are the reason I can't be one hundred percent sure that I didn't read this book a long, long time ago: the life and death of the Bonfire Night guy that is partly the sad, passionate ghost of Guy Fawkes and partly a pyromaniac patchwork of the five children whose castoffs and imagination gave it form (as it explains in one of its more lucid moments, "Everyone is a mixture, you know, and I'm more so than most") and the introduction of new magic when the weeping gargoyle off a nearby church turns out to be the stone-trapped form of a medieval demon named "Little Tom," a wild, ragged, not quite human child in tricksterish and forlorn search of a witch to be familiar to. Both of them gave me the same half-echo as Eleanor Farjeon's The Silver Curlew (1953), again without any of the language coming back to me. I might run it by my mother to see if she remembers bringing it home when I was small. On the other hand, it might just be that I know [personal profile] ashlyme and [personal profile] nineweaving.

The Apple-Stone is the second book I've read by Gray and The Seventh Swan (1962) almost doesn't count, since I know I read it in elementary school and all I can remember is that it upset me more than the original fairy tale, which I suspect means I should re-read it. I like this one a lot, non-magical parts included. We learn early on that the parents of the English family are the puppeteers behind the popular TV show Ben and Bet Bun and absolutely none of their children think once of bringing the Buns or the Foxies to life because they find the whole thing desperately embarrassing. (The Clans' parents are rocket scientists and the narrator envies them deeply. "We're fond of our Mum and Dad, and hope they may grow out of it in time.") The children as a group are a believable, likeable mix of traits and alliances, differentiated well beyond obvious tags like Jo's academic crazes or Nigel's artistic talent or Douglas' belligerence or Jemima's imperiousness or Jeremy's daydreaming. They fight almost constantly with one another—the Clans especially, being composed of one Campbell and one Macdonald, are engaged in the kind of dramatic ongoing feud that is half performance art and half really blowing off steam—but close ranks immediately against outsiders, even supernatural ones:

"But I must tell you straight, gentles, that I can't do much of the true Black Art," said the gargoyle. "I'm not one of the great ones. I was never aught but a very little 'un. Horrid tricks I can manage," it added, boastfully, "like makin' folks squint, or muddling their minds, or twisting their tongues so that they stammers and stutters—"

"I c-can do that without your help!" snapped Nigel, going red.

"And I'm muddleheaded enough for everyone," I said, quickly.

"No, you're not!" said Jo, fiercely. "And Nigel only stutters when he's away from his home." Then she turned on the gargoyle. "You'll do no horrid tricks, do you hear? We're not sorcerers. We brought you here to help you."

The creature was still changing during all of this . . . Its hair was long and black, and tangled. Its ears were still pointed, though not as huge and batlike as before. It gave us a scornful grin, and said, "Many sorcerers don't care to admit to it."


If you have not read this novel, you can probably tell by now if you're going to like it. The Nesbit it reminds me of most is The Enchanted Castle (1907), but it feels like itself and it feels like its own time, which is equally important. I am actively sad that the near-fine UK first edition I saw at Readercon cost sticker shock—the library copy I just finished reading is the American first edition and the illustrations really didn't work for me. (I'm sorry, Charles Keeping! Your work for Alan Garner, Mollie Hunter, and Rosemary Sutcliff was great!) Maybe sometime I'll get lucky at the Strand. In any case, the text is what matters most and that I recommend. It is good at the strangeness of things that are not human and it never risks making even the cute ones twee. It's good at children's priorities and the ways that not being an adult doesn't mean not seeing the world. I didn't quote much of a descriptive passage, but I like its language. Anyone with other favorite novels by Nicholas Stuart Gray, please let me know.

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