sdelmonte: (2014)
([personal profile] sdelmonte 16 August 2017 20:06)
Hear ye, hear ye!
 
There will be a housefilk on Sunday, September 3 (the Sunday of Labor Day weekend) in Kew Gardens Hills in Queens, New York, at the home of [personal profile] sdelmonte and [personal profile] batyatoon. The festivities will run from 1 pm to approximately 5 pm. The address is 144-32 71st Road, accessible from the LIE and GCP, and by subway and bus.
 
Interested? Reply to this post and let us know. And spread the word!
 
Need directions? E-mail me at simondelmonte @ gmail.com.
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skygiants: the princes from Into the Woods, singing (agony)
([personal profile] skygiants 16 August 2017 17:42)
It's hard for me not to unfavorably compare every Isabelle Hollington Gothic to Trelawny, the one with the identical non-identical constantly-swapping twins, but The Marchington Inheritance runs a reasonable second for batshit plot resolutions.

Our Heroine is a children's book illustrator named Avril, which would be fine if she were not ALSO notable for her family reputation as a Strung-Out Sulky Counter-Culture Fight-The-Power Teen Rebel with constant Rage Against the Preppy machine, which meant that I had "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi" stuck on rotate in my head for the entire duration of this novel. THANKS, ISABELLE HOLLAND.

spoilers are full of hilariously plausibly annoying children )
gramarye1971: Jim Hacker about to receive some illegal alcohol in "The Moral Dimension" (YM: Diplomacy)
([personal profile] gramarye1971 14 August 2017 19:39)
As a small bright spot in an otherwise dismal weekend, I received a AO3 message requesting permission to translate Resource Allocation, the extremely silly Harry Potter/Yes, Minister crossover drabble I wrote ages ago, into Chinese. So with thanks to [archiveofourown.org profile] liangdeyu, 【翻译】Resource Allocation资源分配, is now available. I'm very pleased to see it.

(This does remind me that at some point I need to pick up a copy of Yes, Prime Manipulator, a book about the Chinese translation of YPM -- Hǎo de, shǒuxiàng -- written by the translator.)
skygiants: Clopin from Notre-Dame de Paris; text 'sans misere, sans frontiere' (comment faire un monde)
([personal profile] skygiants 12 August 2017 17:51)
I just finished Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, which is definite proof that a book-length allegory CAN ALSO be a coherent and compelling novel. (Is this a Kazuo Ishiguro callout post? MAYBE.)

The easiest and most facile way to describe The Underground Railroad is basically like Underground the TV show meets Snowpiercer. I mean, significantly less silly than Snowpiercer, which is a deeply silly movie -- but insofar as it's a train-based road trip for your life in which every stop is an Allegory On the Evils of Class and Capitalism, like that, except in this case it's an allegory on America's original sins.

The book's heroine is Cora, a woman who escapes from a deep-South plantation on an enormous hidden network of rails and tunnels, gaining and losing allies along the way. Each time she gets off she thinks that maybe she's found a place where she can stop and live a human life, and each place she visits reflects a different knife-angle of the generally horrific history of race in America -- alternate histories, but real ones.

Allegory aside, Cora is very much a real and complex and compelling character, and the places she visits have heft to them. Cora's identity is bound up in the legend and mystery of her mother Mabel, the one slave in the plantation's history (before Cora) who was able to escape and vanish completely; she's a real person, too, and so are all the other perspectives that we glimpse briefly in interstitial interludes along Cora's journey. It's a really good book. It's a very page-turning book, and although it's (obviously) extremely grim at times, it's not actually a hopeless book.
skygiants: Yong Ha from Sungkyunkwan Scandal (trollface)
([personal profile] skygiants 10 August 2017 20:49)
To be honest, I didn't really expect to love the kdrama Descendants of the Sun, a romantic melodrama about a special forces soldier and an ER surgeon. I'm skeptical about romanticizing the military! Contemporary melodrama is not my thing! Probably there were going to be too many dudes all over the place everywhere anyway!

OH, HOW WRONG I WAS. Descendants of the Sun is a GEM.

Screencaps cannot capture the majesty )
skygiants: Kyoko from Skip Beat! making a mad flaily dive (oh flaily flaily)
([personal profile] skygiants 9 August 2017 21:57)
I enjoyed Martha Wells' Wheel of the Infinite but I am also pretty sure that my reading experience was devised in exactly the wrong way to allow me to appreciate the plot as a coherent narrative.

I read the first half of the book on the plane between San Francisco and Chicago, which meant I got all the fantastic initial setup: a long-suffering middle-aged heroine, exiled from her home city for accidentally getting three husbands killed while following the wrong prophetic vision, accidentally rescues a cute swordsman in a brief break from protecting a plucky theater troupe from a cursed stage puppet!

Then the cute young swordsman immediately decides to be her joint boyfriend and bodyguard because he has nothing else to do with his life, and she's like "he followed me home, can I keep him? ...wait I'm an exiled superpowered divine avatar, I literally don't have to ask anyone else, I CAN JUST KEEP HIM :D" and then he and she and the theater troupe all go back to her home city to sort out a potentially apocalyptic problem in the annual setting-the-world-in-order religious ritual and also, very importantly, get the theater puppet un-cursed, and at about this point I got to Chicago and although I was enjoying myself immensely I didn't really have time to read another word until I was on a flight back to Boston.

So at this point I opened my Kobo again and spoilers! )
I'm feeling a bit too disorganised to post much at the moment, but one fun thing I've been doing lately has been testing out an online Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop game through roll20.net, a site that lets you use webcams and chatrooms to run tabletop campaigns in real time. The GM's a friend who's run a number of our campaigns before, but we're playing with several other different people in different time zones, so there's a new element to it as well.

Our game is set in a cyberpunk retrofuture 2020 Baltimore, with the following premises:
- Basically, there are cell phones but no real Internet, Taylor Swift is the current U.S. president, the Cold War turned hot in space about two decades ago, and the Inner Harbor and Johns Hopkins University are two of a handful of arcologies in a sea of shantytowns and otherwise crumbling infrastructure.
- Our characters are an A-Team-like group of hired guns and techies who operate out of a food truck that sells kimchi tacos.
- I'm essentially playing a character from the Gunslinger Girl anime: a cybernetically modified Ukrainian sniper/former child soldier who looks about 14 or 15 but is actually in her early 20s. She was "rescued" (more like kidnapped) by a U.S. charity that's involved in money laundering under the guise of helping war orphans, and she's young and blonde enough to be a public face for their child solider rehabilitation program. Unfortunately, she actually rather enjoyed wetwork operations, so she's working with the kimchi taco folks to save up money to go back to her home country and jump right back into the action.

Apart from some technical glitches, we managed our first mission well enough -- no one in our party died or caught on fire, and we got a busted-out sedan as a secondary vehicle to supplement the food truck. It's been a while since I've played such a morally bankrupt character type, but dumping all of my good stats into the weapons skills means that I don't feel too bad about treating her like a point-and-shoot glass cannon. Will see if the mechanics continue to work out.
skygiants: Nellie Bly walking a tightrope among the stars (bravely trotted)
([personal profile] skygiants 7 August 2017 22:55)
Despite its incredibly bland title, Into the Darkness turned out to be one of the most interesting Barbara Michaels gothics I've yet read.

This is one of the ones where Barbara Michaels decides to break the "girl meets house" mold and go instead with "girl meets career." Our Heroine Meg Venturi, called back to her hometown for her grandfather's funeral, finds that he's left her half of the family jewelry business; the other half has (of course) been left to his dark and brooding protege, whom half the town is convinced murdered Meg's grandfather and the other half the town thinks was probably just blackmailing him.

Obviously, this is Bachelor A. Bachelor B is Meg's annoying fake cousin (there's always a cousin in there somewhere), Bachelor C is the boring lawyer who keeps trying to mansplain Meg's inheritance to her, and Bachelor D is the married businessman that Meg has been having an affair with but who rapidly becomes irrelevant to the plot.

Meanwhile, Meg's grandmother keeps cheerfully sharing conversations that she had overnight with the ghost of Meg's dead grandfather, the housekeeper will not stop pretending to be Mrs. Danvers, someone keeps mailing threatening antique jewelry to the house, there's another pile of probably-stolen and certainly-priceless antique jewelry hidden in the back of Meg's closet, and every so often there will be a murder attempt. Throughout it all, Meg comes to two realizations: a.) she really, genuinely loves the jewelry business and b.) she is really, genuinely sick of Various Bachelors treating her like a Gothic ingenue.

Spoilers under the cut )
skygiants: pearl from SU, looking suspiciously down the length of a sword (terrifying renegade pearl)
([personal profile] skygiants 6 August 2017 23:40)
Over the past two weeks I have gone straight from a professional conference to a wedding to VividCon, lugged my roommate's oversized suitcase across four cities, hung out with innumerable incredibly delightful people, seen an equally large number of really stellar vids, visited at least six used bookstores and bought at least ten Gothic novels.

Now I am home and exhausted, so I'm just going to leave my rushed but heartfelt VividCon premiere here and go to bed:

Title: Clean Light (music by The Mowgli's)



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(with thanks to [personal profile] aquamirage for valuable early feedback!)
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