The Summer Without Men, by Siri Hustvedt.
• What did you recently finish reading?
Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars, by Jeff Lemire. A robot who is also an adorable little boy survives terrible and mysterious catastrophes. He may hold the key to understanding and preventing their return. The other characters and the settings are interesting. The art is beautiful. I would have loved this if I had read it when I was young. Now, I have read enough stories to notice when the plot is steered by the Rule of Cool, when the answer to "Why didn't the characters do the smart thing?" is "Because the author wanted a torture scene/a robot gladiator scene/a woman dying, gasping a slogan." Also, I have read enough stories that treat women as people to find the Weasley ratio really annoyingly noticeable. There's one female main character, one female supporting character, a few more who get a line but not a name. And only one of these female characters is human: the robot boy's dead mom.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
I've got suggestions to read or reread for my SF economics panel:
The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson
Walkaway, by Cory Doctorow
The Peripheral, by William Gibson
The Marq'ssan Cycle books by L. Timmel Duchamp
More suggestions still welcome!
We didn't buy the seller's accounts receivable, and radio clients often take 2 - 3 months to pay, so after almost three months of ownership, we're just starting to see money coming in. That means both of us have to hold on to our day jobs for now, making for some pretty long hours. Getting up at 3 AM yesterday to rescue a station 80 miles away didn't help.
There's very little room for anything else in my life right now. That's not good.
Trying isn't the word, really. I'm compelled up and out of the house to wander the earth. Fortunately this bit of the earth is damn pretty right now.
Here, then, are some photos from various park-hunting expeditions of the last few days, organized around the theme of awesome local species rather than chronology, because I'm too tired to explain the chronology.
( Distinctive Regional Species and general springiness )
This weekend, April 28-30, people coming to Penguicon in Southfield, Michigan can catch a number of sessions of interest to Geek Feminism readers.
Coraline Ada Ehmke is one of the Guests of Honor (her Penguicon schedule). Ehmke “is a speaker, writer, open source advocate and technologist with over 20 years of experience in developing apps for the web. She works diligently to promote diversity and inclusivity in open source and the tech industry.” She and others are participating in a Women in Tech panel and Q&A on Saturday.
Perhaps I’ll see you at the con! Feel free to comment if you’re going to be there and mention any parties or sessions you’re particularly looking forward to.
In the past couple years, there've been about three times when I've had occasion to suggest starting points for reading Samuel R. “Chip” Delany's work. So I thought it was time I wrote up my thoughts and posted them.
But my recommendation varies depending on what you like and what you're interested in. So I'll break this up into sections.
But in case you're in a hurry, I'll start by saying that the short version of my recommendation is: Start with the short-story collection Aye, and Gomorrah: And Other Stories, which includes most of my favorites of his stories.
(This entry is sort of a draft; I may update/modify it sometime in the next couple days.)
If you don't like short stories, then you might as well skip down to the next section. But some of Chip's short stories are among my favorite stories, and among my favorite works of his, so this is where I'm focusing.
His most famous stories are probably “Aye, and Gomorrah...” (1967)—a short piece about people who have a fetish for spacers; groundbreaking at the time for its handling of sexuality—and “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” (1968), which on the surface is about a con artist and a street singer and the ways that information passes through a society, among other things, but also I've heard a variety of people cite it as their first introduction to BDSM, in a sort of “Wow, there are people like me!” kind of way. My own tastes run to the vanilla, so that wasn't a factor for me; but even aside from that, it's a good story, and an influential one, and it has one of the great Delany-story titles. (My other favorite of his titles being “We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line,” although that's not among my favorites of his stories.)
(I was going to link to the archive.org copies of a couple of his stories that were published in Sci Fiction, but it turns out those copies are mysteriously missing their dashes and some other characters, which makes them hard to read. So I'm not providing those links after all. But it also turns out that one of them was reprinted in Strange Horizons, so I did link to that one.)
Also well-known and lovely: “Corona” (1967), about a spaceport worker and a young genius telepath and the power of music. Lesser-known but also lovely: “Prismatica” (1977), a fairy tale that's explicitly an homage to Thurber, presumably specifically to The Thirteen Clocks.
So where can you find these stories? Well, most of my favorites of his were originally collected in a book called Driftglass, but that's long out of print. Several of the same stories also appeared in a collection called Distant Stars, which also included the compelling short novel “Empire Star” (with fascinating four-segment illustrations) and “Prismatica.” But that too is long out of print. Fortunately, Vintage came out with a collection in 2003 called Aye, and Gomorrah: And Other Stories, which includes everything from Driftglass plus a few other stories, including “Prismatica”; the only thing it's missing from Distant Stars is “Empire Star.”
(...The Vintage book may actually be titled Aye, and Gomorrah: Stories; the cover and the title page disagree.)
So my strong recommendation for an intro to Delany is to buy and read the Vintage collection. Unfortunately, it appears to be available only in print (in trade paperback), not in electronic form. But it's a nicely attractive edition, and goes well with the Vintage editions of some of his other books.
But I know most people prefer novels over short stories. If that's true of you, then possibly none of the above recommendations will be of any use. In which case, read on!
Early science fiction novels and novellas
If you want to start with some of the novels that vaulted Delany to the forefront of the field in the 1960s and 1970s, here are some possible starting points:
- Empire Star (1966)
- As noted above, an intriguing and compelling short novel, about a young man named Comet Jo coming of age in an interstellar culture. As Wikipedia says, “the story has several layered loops of events which run back upon themselves—and the concepts, layering, and ordering of the events are as important as the story itself.”
- Babel-17 (1966)
- I recently heard an sf editor say that this was the only good starting point for reading Delany. I disagree, but I would say it's not a bad starting point, as long as you don't mind it taking the strong Sapir-Whorf Hypotheses for granted. Which is to say, you have to be willing to accept, or at least suspend disbelief about, the idea that language determines thought.
- The Star Pit (1967)
- Here's some of what I wrote in my notes to myself when I read (or maybe re-read) this a year ago: “it's mostly about life, and wanderlust, and feeling trapped, and the ways people can be cruel to each other, and love, and other stuff like that. Pretty good overall. Nowhere near Delany's best, but worth reading.” It also has a minor poly sidelight. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a starting point, but it wouldn't be a terrible one.
- Nova (1968)
- I read this long ago and haven't yet revisited it, so my memories are vague at this point, but I recall thinking of it as a solid and excellent science fiction novel that felt to me less experimental than a lot of Delany's other work. Judith Merrill wrote (according to Wikipedia): “Here are (at least some of) the ways you can read Nova: As fast-action far-flung interstellar adventure; as archetypal mystical/mythical allegory (in which the Tarot and the Grail both figure prominently); as modern myth told in the SF idiom...”
- Trouble on Triton (1976)
- A novel set in a more-or-less-minarchist human society on Neptune's moon Triton. The protagonist, Bron, is not a very sympathetic character, which led me to not especially like the book when I first read it; on the other hand, some parts of the book (such as the street-theatre scenes) stuck with me. And reading Sherryl Vint's 2002 essay “Both/And: Science Fiction and the Question of Changing Gender” (which includes major spoilers for both Trouble on Triton and John Varley's Steel Beach) gave me a lot more sympathy to what Delany is doing in this book. Side note: Wikipedia says that this is set in the same universe as “Time Considered...”
I'm leaving out several other early short novels (The Jewels of Aptor, The Ballad of Beta-2, the Fall of the Towers trilogy, The Einstein Intersection), not because they're not worth reading but because I don't think they'd make good starting points.
A difficult masterpiece
Dhalgren (1975) is an 800-page tour de force of experimental literary speculative fiction. It's definitely worth reading, but I kinda suspect it would not make a good starting point, unless you're coming from a background of loving experimental literary sf and long novels that include a lot of discussion of being a writer.
(I mean “masterpiece” in the sense of a work that signals a transition from the journeyman stage of a career into the master stage; I don't mean to suggest that it's his one and only Best Work.)
Sword and sorcery and semiotics
From 1979 through 1987, Chip wrote a series of stories and novels set in a world called Nevèrÿon. In addition to being sword-and-sorcery stories, they're also explicitly about literary-criticism theory, and culture, and race, and real-world history, and the development of science, and gender, and BDSM, and AIDS, and all sorts of other stuff. I'm currently (slowly) reading the Nevèrÿon series, but I kind of feel like it's not the best starting point for reading Delany. But if you like sword-and-sorcery mixed with philosophy, it could be.
Chip has written two book-length autobiographies/memoirs:
- Heavenly Breakfast (1979)
- I read or re-read this recently, and found it not only one of my favorite books of the year in which I read it, but also an excellent example of how to write a memoir, and especially how to explicitly note that there are things you're not saying. Interestingly, it manages to be an entire (short) book about Delany's youth in NYC without ever explicitly mentioning that he's gay.
- Motion of Light in Water (1988)
- A more detailed and later autobiography, but I haven't read it yet, so I can't judge it as a starting point.
Chip has written lots of nonfiction, including a lot of literary-criticism essays. I wouldn't normally suggest nonfiction as a starting point for a writer who I normally think of as primarily a fiction writer, but if you're into nonfiction, either of these two books could be good starting points, in very different ways:
- The Jewel-Hinged Jaw (1977)
- A volume of essays about reading and writing science fiction. Lots of good stuff here; some of these pieces did a lot to shape the way I think about sf. Although I have an unfortunate tendency to misremember and misquote bits of them.
- Times Square Red/Times Square Blue (1999)
- A pair of long essays about Times Square in particular and cities in general. One is about porn theatres and Chip's sexual interactions in them; the other is about the ways in which cities bring people together across class boundaries. Both are excellent and thought-provoking.
In this post, I seem to be shifting back and forth between recommending starting points per se, and mentioning other works. So I feel like I should mention that Chip has written other novels, more recent than most of the abovementioned ones, such as Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984), They Fly at Çiron (1993, though some of it was written a couple decades earlier), and Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (2012). But I'm not recommending these as starting points.
Chip has also written a couple of novels that I would classify as pornography. (No value judgment intended in that term.) One, The Mad Man (1994), is also literary fiction about gay men engaging in sexual activities that might or might not result in HIV infection; I found it worth reading, but here again unless this is a special interest of yours it may not be the best starting point.
And, as promised, a list of SPF values for oils, from 'How to Make Natural Sunscreen Lotions' by Miriam Kinai.
I am assuming the range of numbers for any one oil/substance has to do with differences in processing. ( for length, behind cut )
The urgency of ethnic nationalism.
Fairytale princess by choice: Melania's photography says more about her than she might expect. An analysis of her shared photos in the past few years. Has this woman ever sat under a tree, or taken a photo that wasn't through a window? And what's with the masterpiece professionally built sand castle for Barron -- when he was 6, why didn't anyone let him build his own sand castle?
That shirt's not from Adrienne Vitttadini Studio: it's one of Ivanka's, sold under another name to a larger retail store where a customer spat on one that was in her own name.
The EPA wants to know: what do you think about scrapping air quality and radiation rules? Tell them. There are links.
Trump wants to withhold federal money from sanctuary cities -- judge says no way. Note that there are few to no Democratic judges any more -- these are Republican-appointed Republican judges standing up to him.
Is this the end of foreign aid as we know it? I don't think so. Bear in mind, the Trump budget is a piece of PR, nothing more. It's what he wants. Congress decides what he gets.
The media bubble -- what it is, where it is, why it is, and more.
How do you find a prospective spouse if you're Muslim? Halal dating.
It's not everywhere -- it's not in enough places yet -- but here's a start to changing building codes to suit tiny houses.
The Axis and the Sycamore. I cannot tell you how much I love this article that connects the earth, ecology and the Axial Age when ideas sprang up and spread -- because we are in a second Axial Age now.
And howevermuch I might complain about rain, the desert is blooming.
'By LIAM STACK
Unilever Buys Sir Kensington’s, Maker of Fancy Ketchup
By STEPHANIE STROM
Baking Is All in the Hands
By DORIE GREENSPAN
Recipe: Buttermilk-Biscuit Shortcakes
The Single Most Important Ingredient
By SAMIN NOSRAT
Recipes: Buttermilk-Marinated Roast Chicken | Caesar Salad
Fish That’s Fast, Easy and Sometimes Even Fancy
A Good Appetite
By MELISSA CLARK
Recipe: Trout With Chive Butter
Three Ways to Let Fresh Asparagus Shine
By DAVID TANIS
Recipes: Charred Asparagus With Green Garlic Chimichurri | Steamed Asparagus With Pistachios and Brown Butter | Shaved Asparagus Salad With Ginger and Sesame
A Reusable Pouch for Wine on the Go
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Economical Aluminum Skillets With Heft
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Cookbook Offers a Taste of London’s Famed Firehouse
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Cooking Got Barbara Lynch Out of South Boston, and Brought Her Back
By JULIA MOSKIN
Recipe: Roast Chicken in a Butter Crust
The Secrets of Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk
By SAM SIFTON
Recipe: Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk
American Brandy Is Surging, Even in Whiskey Country
By CLAY RISEN
A Few American Standouts
( Read more... )
From the Sonoma Coast, Chardonnays of Energy and Memories
Wines of The Times
By ERIC ASIMOV
Recipe Pairing: Risotto With Peas and Sausage
Tasting Notes: Sonoma Coast Chardonnays
( Read more... )
A Journey Through Baja California’s Wine Country
Vineyards and culinary marvels beckon in the austere backcountry of the Valle de Guadalupe in Mexico.
By ROBERT DRAPER
You can check them out in the "Spring Equinox 2017: Vids in Space!" collection on AO3.
I managed to download all the vids fairly easily and am working my way through them; with the two Twins games this weekend and my crippling depression of early this week I didn't get to them as quickly as I'd've liked.
[Downloading them all was pretty easy; blessed are those vidders who put their vids on Vimeo with a "Download" option or on YouTube or with some other dead easy way to download them.]
Guys. There's a BB-8 vid! And a vid about cats . . . in . . . space! There's a Vorkosigan vid (I'm always amazed and appreciative when someone tries to vid something for which there's no actual video source, regardless of how well it works). And a bunch of cool Star Wars and Star Trek vids. And a nifty Fifth Element vid. And, well, lots of cool vids! Yay!
Vidders are anonymous for now.
I think my favorite vid so far (I've not yet watched them all) is the "Running for Cover" Star Wars vid which gives me all the feelings. Seriously. It's an original trilogy and The Force Awakens vid that focuses a lot on the echoes between the two and many have vidded this sort of thing, but this may be my new favorite.
All of the Star Wars vids seem particularly fine. I didn't know I needed a Rebel Alliance/Resistance vid to an ABBA song. Nor did I know I needed a vid about Padme and Leia (dammit, Padme was pretty cool save for her atrocious taste in men). Or a Luke vid to "This Year" by The Mountain Goats. And then there are the OT3 (or some combination(s) thereof) Luke and Han and Leia vids! The funny "Science Fiction Double Feature" vid! The Rey and Luke vid (speaking of echoes and repetition in Star Wars). Seriously, I want to squee about all of them (that's not even all of them).
There's a Jaylah Star Trek: Beyond vid which makes me want to rush out and buy comic books because there apparently are comic books about Jaylah and I need those now (the vid starts with comic book source then switches to live action Star Trek: Beyond stuff in a marvelous way). There are a couple other nifty Star Trek: Beyond vids and an alternate movie series vid that's cool and then there are all the Deep Space Nine vids and other Trek vids and . . . OMG. /runs off to watch more vids (and re-watch some too).
(Well done, vidders! You rock!)