Rain Ship

Apr. 9th, 2017 11:13 am
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I recently read and enjoyed Rain Ship by Chi Hui, translated by Andy Dudak. This is part of Clarkeworlds Chinese SF in translation project. I really liked the way the author used a bunch of different worldbuilding techniques all at once. There is incluing, and also footnotes with info dumps. Which sounds like it wouldn't work, but did for me. I have few quibbles about evolutionary biology but the rest of the story drew me in enough that it wasn't a big deal. (Content note: infanticide, harm to older children.)
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For those of you who weren't Hugo nominators last year or where too shy to ask the author for a reading copy you can now buy The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard as stand alone novella. More info at the author's website.

This was one of my favorite Novellas of 2015. I wrote: "Set in De Bodard’s Xuya universe this story features a variety of complex characters trying to understand the disappearance of the Citadel of Weeping Pearls 30 years ago. I love de Bodard’s worldbuilding, especially the food details. I also enjoyed seeing the characters through eachother’s eyes. (This is very loosely a sequel to On a Red Station, Drifting but could be read on its own and doesn’t really spoil anything.)"

Also I recently read "FINITY" by Elaine Atwell and enjoyed it. It's bittersweet story set on colony space ship, and musing on the human condition. (The story is published by Giganotosaurus so pretty long.)
forestofglory: Glasses and books (books)
"Extracurricular Activities" by Yoon Ha Lee A fun twisty story with spies and secret missions. It's set in the same world as Ninefox Gambit, but stands alone. I just love how the author sketches characters and societies with a few key details.

"And In Our Daughters, We Find a Voice" by Cassandra Khaw creepy dark little mermaid re-telling (content note: a human character with ambiguous gender traits is referred to as "it")
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I've decide to modify my non-fiction reading goal for 2017. My original goal was to read 10 academic monographs in 2017. However I was struggling to define academic monograph and also had some books I didn't think counted that I wanted to read on my shelf. So after talking it over with some friends I've decided to change the goal to 12 scholarly books, where scholarly is defined as written by a scholar not a journalist.* I upped the number of books to 12 (or one a month) since I'll be including some less dense books.

Having made this decision I've started reading Mary Beard's SPQR, which has been really interesting so far. The introduction promised some discussion of food and trade which I'm really looking forward to.

*Who is a scholar is not clear cut. For example I have book about planning written by practicing planner is he a scholar? I'm going to say yes for proposes of this book challenge. Because he is an expert in the field and not a journalist. Anyways I think "who is a scholar?" is an easier question to answer than "what is an academic monograph"
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Today I'm over at Earl Grey Editing with an update on YA award process and little bit about my experience with WSFS.
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My post about my favorite shorts of 2016 is up at Lady Business today. Please check it out, especially if you are nominating for awards this year.
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I've finally started reading some 2017 short fiction (it only took an month an a half). I quite enjoyed "Microbiota and the Masses: A Love Story" by S.B. Divya Its a sweet story that features microbiology and ecological remediation. Anyways its nice to feel a bit less rushed about my short fiction reading.
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I'm experimenting with shorter but hopefully more frequent rec posts instead of the monthly round ups. We'll see how it goes.

Anyways I got a copy of The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales ed. Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe out for the library and thought I should mention it here. Now I have been picking a choosing what to read in this, but everything has been really good. I especially liked "seasons of glass and Iron" by Amal El-Mohtar in which princess form two fairy tales rescue each other. But I also like the mix of things familiar fairy tales and unfamiliar, western and non-western, all kind of settings. Plus the stories have pretty capital letters and interesting author notes. Definitely check it out if you like fairy tales at all.
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So Hugo nomination season is open. I've been ordering holds from the library and even bought a couple of books so I can read lots of 2016 work before nominations close in March. Anyways during this process I've also decided to not read a couple of things that are probably really good and well done, but aren't what I want to be reading.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (Novella) This a retelling of a Lovecraft story that a bunch of my friends loved. I'm not reading it because I don't like Lovecraft, and I find retelling generally lose a lot if you are not familiar with the original.

Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw (Novella) I've really enjoyed a bunch of Khaw's short fiction, but this one is described as dark, lovecraftan and noir and none of those things are for me.

The Obelisk Gate by by N.K. Jemisin (Novel) This the second book in Jemisin's new trilogy, and I've had a copy of the 1st book since it came out. However I've been told that there is some really awful child injury in that book, and I can't bring myself to read it, so I won't be reading the second either.

Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction by André M. Carrington (best related work) This sounds awesome! It's academic history/criticism about race and science fiction. But I want to finish watching DS9 before I read this and I've been watching it pretty slowly and doubt I will finish before March.

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (best related work)I really admire Kameron Hurley, but every time I read one of her pep talks I feel bad about myself for not working hard enough. I'm really good at beating myself up without any extra help so I'm going to skip this book, and try to work on self compassion instead.

Anyways if you are not me these might be great books that you will love. Consider checking them out.
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So this morning when I checked my email I found my Hugo login (they aren't using PINs this year). It is exciting! But also there is still a lot I want to read. Who else is nominating this year? If you get a supporting membership to Worldcon 75 in Helsinki by the end of the month you can join the nomination fun too. (Nomination is totally my favorite part of the Hugos.)
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Goodreads tells me I read 105 books in 2016. This imperfect especially as I was a bit inconstant about how I counted manga a graphic novels. I also seem to have counted one book I abandoned in disgust. Anyways this many fewer books than I've read in any other year where I have full goodreads count. I'm going to blame this on baby N as this was my 1st full year being a parent. I also think that as N has gotten older I've been finding more time to read so I expect this number to be higher next year.

Fiction: 85
Non fiction: 18

Of the non-fiction 11 where academic monographs, in keeping with my goal of reading 10 of those (Though one I skimmed.) I feel pretty good about having achieved that goal though I still miss my grad history seminars and having discussions about the history I've been reading.

13 Novellas
22 comics/graphic novels/manga

I still count these even if they are shorter to read then full novels.

I'm not currently keeping track of the gender of authors because I'm happy with the stasis quo here. (Ie I read lots and lots of books by women.) I'm think thinking of keeping track of books by queer/trans authors going forward though. I could use some more data on this to see if it something I should address.

I read 14 books by non-white authors or 16% which is below my goal of 20%

Oldest book: Anne of Green Gables
Youngest book: Hurricane Heels by Isabel Yap

Highlights:
The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by by Marie Brennan
Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century by D. Graham Burnett

Next year I want to read 10 more academic books and also read 24 books by new to me not white authors. These need to be novella or longer, but I'll also count graphic novels and manga. I'm going to count authors I've read one or two short fiction pieces by as new, but not authors where I've read a lot of their short fiction.

I've been saying for few years that I want to read more books by POC but I haven't been doing that. So to push myself I'm going to try reading a bunch of new authors. I went with 24 because that is 2 a month an seemed doable.

On a vaguely related note I'm working on finishing up my 2015 short fiction reading. Is there anything I should be sure not to miss?
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Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah everyone!

I have a big family gathering planned for this evening with with my family and Rs family. We are going to light a menorah, eat latkes, and exchange Christmas presents. It should be nice.

Yesterday I went gorcery shopping to get some things for tonight and it was a zoo. The store was so full of people standing in line that it was hard to shop.

Wendsday night I had a small solistice gathering with my family and got to exchange gifts with my sister and niece.

Hope the holidays are treating all of you well.
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There is quite a bit of talk going around about a potential new federal infrastructure bill. I want to talk about what infrastructure actually is, and how federal infrastructure spending shapes the US landscape. Infrastructure is complex and we need to not to treat it all as one thing and also to understand the secondary effect of building certain types of infrastructure.

Infrastructure includes lots of things some of these are have positive impacts on society and others negative. For example oil pipelines, high speed rail, highways, and solar energy plants are all infrastructure, but investing in each one of these would clearly have different impacts on society and the built environment. Politicians and the media have a tenancy to lump all of these things together and treat them like one thing, but this is really not helpful and can obfuscate the effects of government actions.

And government actions in infrastructure really do matter. Infrastructure funding is a major way the federal government plans the US built environment. The federal government leaves a lot lower levels to government – they don’t tell cities how to zone for example, or make it illegal to build on flood plains. But they do invest in big projects that make things possible. The Central Valley Project brings water from northern California to Southern California and means that more people can live there and there can be more irrigated agriculture in the south. The interstate highway system made it easier for people to drive and contributed to urban sprawl (it didn’t help that they knocked down a bunch of intercity neighborhoods to build freeways). As these examples show the federal government doesn’t have to do central planning to have a huge impact on the landscape.

So if you are thinking about contacting your reps please tell them you want to invest in mass transit and clean energy not new highways and pipelines. Tell them about the already existing infrastructure that you use and could use more money. Ask them not treat infrastructure like it is all one thing that always good, but to think carefully about what the federal government builds and how it will shape our future. Because infrastructure might seem boring but it shapes the world we live in.
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A couple of tie in stories this month but I think they all stand alone quite well.

"Clover" by Charlie Jane Anders This happy queer story featuring cats is set in the same world a All the Birds in the Sky and does contain minor spoilers

"To Rise No More" By Marie Brennan Ada Lovelace story set in her Onyx Court world (the secret history with fae). No spoilers.

"The most important thing" by Marissa Lingen A very short story about how people experience history.

A.C. Wise has posted her annual meta awards eligibility post featuring all the author eligibility post and 2016 short fiction rec's she can find (so the post will keep growing). This great place to look for more awesome short fiction, and check and make sure you haven't missed anything form your favorite authors.

Have you read any good short fiction recently?
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I am distraught over the results of the presidential election. As part of increasing my activism I'm going to be writing a post here once a month about the environment, urban planning and or sustainable agriculture. I want to get more of the knowledge in my head out into the world where I hope it can do some good. So let me know if there are any topics you want covered.

Today we are going to start simple with a list of environmental organizations that I like that you can donate to. Our president elect doesn't believe in anthropocentric climate change. And it is part of the Republican Party platform to sell off our national parks. So these issues are critical right now.

The Nature Conservancy This group works to buy environmentally sensitive lands and preserve them. They also have many programs that work with fishers, farmers and ranchers to make those practices more sustainable.

The Wilderness Society Advocacy group for wild lands.

Land Trust Alliance Use this group to find a land trust near you, or donate to support land trusts in general. Lands are groups that buy lands and to hold in trust for future generations. They help create trails and parks and can work to reduce urban sprawl.

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) I learned about this awesome farmer group while I was living in Iowa for grad school. They are a group of farmers who help teach each other about sustainable practices. They have been force for change by doing peer-to-peer education about farm sustainability.

Califorina League of Conservation Voters Politically advocacy group in California that works to educate voters about environmental issues. Also puts out an environmental score card for California legislators.

Xerces Society Invertebrates aren't cute and fuzzy but they are a vital part of every ecosystem. The Xerces Society works to protect them and their habitats.
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Not doing an October short fiction rec post because I haven't read enough. However I am going to ramble around This month I've haven't been reading that much short fiction online. But I have been reading some short fiction in other ways.

I have an ebook version of People of Colo(u)r Destory Science Fiction and I am mostly done with the original fiction in it i just have a few flash pieces to good. So far I've liked almost everything. "A Good Home" by Karin Lowachee was especially good and is free online. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the issue.

I also finally finished reading An Alphabet of Embers I'm not sure why I put it down for a while but it was definitely worth picking up again.

I also read Comrade Grandmother and Other Stories by Naomi Kritzer, which was good, but not quite as excellent as her more recent work.

I've realized since the Tor.com novellas are produced in hard copy I can get them form the library and have put holds on several of them. I just got and read The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson which was ok but felt aimed at Lovecraft fans. (I'm not sure about all the Lovecraft inspired things I'm seeing lately but I did love "The Litany of Earth" and am looking forward to read a novella about the main character.)
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Today I'm over at Lady Business talking about the worldcon YA award process and our on going servey to help decide the name of the award. Read more here.
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I've been sick and busy with family stuff this month so I haven't read much short fiction. Here are couple of things that I did like though.

"Magnifica Angelica Superable" by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz A very short story about change and freedom.

"Taste the Singularity at the Food Truck Circus" by Jeremiah Tolbert I like stories about food and eating, and this story has tons of strange science fictional food, and also a cute friendship.

Rosh Hashana starts tonight so, L'shana tovah everyone. May your new year be sweet and contain some good short fiction.
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I have few stories to share this month. It’s been a pretty good short fiction reading month. While I haven’t been reading quite a much as I’d like to I have read quite a bit quite a lot of which I enjoyed.

“How To Piss Off A Failed Super-Soldier” by John Chu I had not been paying attention to Booksmugglers’ publishing because the theme for this season is superheroes and I generally don’t like superheroes. (Too much solving systematic problems by punching people.) But apparently they are publishing a lot of the sweet family and romance focused stories I’m looking for. This is one of them.

Superior by Jessica Lack This is another really cute Booksmugglers’ Publishing story. It is an m/m romance between a superhero’s intern and a supervillain’s apprentice.

”The Art of Space Travel” by Nina Allan It’s 2047 and Emily works at hotel near Heathrow were two astronauts will soon be staying before they launch for Mars. I just adored this story about family and memory. I read it and thought “well that is going on my Hugo ballot for sure.” One of the best things I’ve read this year.

What short fiction have you enjoyed this month?
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So the World Science Fiction Society is the governing body of WorldCons and thus also the Hugo Awards. They have one town hall style legislative session every year, known as the Business Meeting which takes place at worldcon every year. The agenda for this years meeting can be found here (warning long pdf). I'm not going to worldcon this year so I can't attend the business meeting and vote on any changes, but I have lot of thoughts and feelings so you'll have to bare with me.

YA award: Yay! I served on the YA committee this last year and I'm happy to say that we were able to get a proposal for an award together. It is for a Campbell-like "not a Hugo" award. I don't think this solution is prefect but I think it has good chance of being a comprise that everyone can accept. I'd really like to see WSFS honor more YA so I hope that this passes. If you have questions or feedback about this proposal please let me know.

Nomination Rights Grab The motions "B.2.2 Short Title: December is Good Enough" and "B.2.3 Short Title: Two Years are Good Enough" would reduced the number of people who are eligible to nominate work for the Hugo awards. Currently all members of this year's, last year's, and next year's worldcon before Jan 31 can be Hugo nominators. One of these measures would put the deadline to register back to December 31, and the other measure would restrict nomination to members of last year's and this years (or if amended just this year's) con. The reasons stated for this are the administrative burden of dealing with large numbers of nominators and coordinating between cons. I have some sympathy for the administrators here, but really feel that this an unwelcoming move. For years Hugo admins have been trying to get more people to nominate, and WSFS has been making it so more people could, and now that more people have, some admins seem to be saying that having lots nominators is just too much trouble. It feels like going backwards to me.

Best Series Hugo I don't really care whether or not this award passes but I'm very amused by the committee report which features, not one, not two but three minority reports.

Nominating Systems So there are a lot of potential changes to how the finalist are selected which are supposed to reduced the impact of slate voting. I'm kind of skeptical of all them. I fell down the rabbit hole and read a lot about EPH and EPH+ including skimming the academic paper about it, and still don't understand the difference between the two. Three stage voting which allows people to vote yes or no on the long list seems kind of mean spirited, plus it seems like people might reject less traditional work, or works but marginalized authors. Additional Finalist, which would let admins add works to the ballot seems very heavy handed. So I want the slate voters to stop winning but I'm not very convinced that any of the solutions proposed are good ideas. Basically democracy is very hard to protect from trolls.

Non-transferability of Voting Rights I don't understand the point of this one either. It is the only proposal without any commentary, and I think it could really use some. Anyone understand this?

That's all for now. If you are going to WorldCon consider going to the business meeting and having your vote count in these issues.

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