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Hugos - Best Novelette

1    The Day the World Turned Upside Down - Thomas Olde Heuvelt

This is a story about a guy who seems a bit of a no-hoper and has just broken up with his girlfriend. Then one day while he is still reeling the world literally turns upside down and everyone and everything starts falling into the sky.  Since he is still fixated on his ex, the protag makes his way to her house having weird encounters on his way.

This story was quirky and weird enough that I was still able to enjoy this story of a man so obsessed with his own pain he really doesn't see the world outside except in the ways it meshes with his own needs.

2    No Award

The RestCollapse )

Hugo Best Novella

Hugo Best Novella

1    No Award: Everything else was crap

(And behind the cut)Collapse )

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Hugos - The Novels

Hugo Best Novel nominees

1 Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

I may be showing my sinophilic biases here, but I liked this enough to place it first. I loved the historical elements. The story of living through the Cultural Revolution was fascinating and I really got the motivations of characters who lived though this time. While modern life in China is not as well fleshed out, the modern mystery made up for that.

2 The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison

I got to The Goblin Emporer after reading most of the other works in the Hugo ballot. This book was such a breath of fresh air after that onerous task. I breezed through TGE, with only one minor spot of bad phrasing, taking me out of the experience. A pure joy to read.

3 Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie

This is the second book in Ann Leckie's Ancillary series and while it is a good book, it does suffer from middle book syndrome. One of the things that I liked about the first book was Breq remembering being The Justice of Torren and this harking-back no longer happens in Sword. Breq is instead working from the inside of the system and has been given Flag rank to facillitate mission. She uses her unique perspective from being a ship and the connection with her new ship to good effect, staying on top of things as no one else could.

I would not be surprised if the Puppies don't like this as it deals with issues of slavery and equal rights for minorities, something the Pups(many from the US South) seem to have a problem with.

4 No Award

The Dark Between the Stars - Kevin J. Anderson

Hero sees calamity when no one else does.
A wife doesn't support him and he regrets marrying her against the wishes of his father.
Cretinous boss ignores his warnings even though he was employed to check on the issue he warns about.
Kid is involved, since the hero and the wife are feuding.
Not being listened to, Hero and son go on the run
Intersolar interests are hunting him down
Escape from a doomed planet
Don't care. Bored now.

Skin Game - Jim Butcher

I own all the Harry Dresden books but this one I didn't finish. I got to a point where Butcher was slotting in action for action sake and my brain rebelled. The writing of to where I read was mediocre at best and the scene I stopped at was just plain stupid.

My Hugo Voting

This is a contentious year for the Hugo awards so all sorts of arm-chair statititions are wanting to see the votes for as many people as they can to plug into their Will-The-Puppies-Screw-Up-O-Metres. As of tomorrow I am going to be working 21 of the next 23 days so a in-depth review of the stories may be a while, so behind the cut are the bare numbers for those who want them.

Hugo VotingCollapse )

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Just WOW!

I did my Hugo voting last night and was going to start talking about what I voted for(and perhaps more often didn't vote for) and why but got chatting with a Protective Service Officer stationed at work about policing in Aus as opposed to the way we see it reported in the US.

A couple of weeks ago we had an incident at work where an autistic kid(I estimated 17-18) blew a fuse and the police spent about an hour calming him down and looking after him. They were still doing their best to treat him well when he tried kicking one of my co-workers(who wasn't hurt) and only decided to cuff him when he started tossing his collector cards at his health worker when the man arrived.

I told the PSO how much I appreciated their effort even when it did inconvenience me and my staff since I am used to seeing footage from the US where tasers and guns seem to inevitably come into play. ANd that was when I learned another reason to appreciate the training our police get in de-escalating bad situations.

The kid wasn't 17-18, he was 13.

I was gob-smacked when I found out. I had sat close to the kid up close(within 5 ft) for about 10 minutes, and there was no way I would have guessed he was so young. The childishness he displayed with his cards and super hero toys I chalked up to his disability. When I was told I immediately thought of Tamir Rice, who police claimed looked older than the 12 he was.

Since the boy was white I don't fit the profile the American Phycological Association reported on where White officers in the US see Black kids as being around 4 years older than they are but this is another reason Police, PSOs and security need to be trained in de-escalating a bad situation. Sometimes the 6ft youth you are confronting is a lot younger than you think.
Since talking about the Puppies can get kind of boring, the visitors to File 770 talk about all thier favourite(Mostly SFFinal) reading and viewing. In one particular thread the anime suggestions came thick and fast. Way down at the bottom of this post are the items that came up in the thread, but I thought people might like a bit more details with a recommendation. So less far below is a list what I think are good anime that people may be intrested in.

Enjoy!

Steins;Gate(Series - 24 Eps)
A self proffessed Mad Scientist accidently creates a time travelling microwave oven.

Baccano(Series - 16 eps)
A mix of weird and intresting characters converge on prohabition Manhatten, many via the transcontinental train - the Flying Pussyfoot.

Spice and Wolf(series x 2 - 13, 12 eps)
A minor merchant picks up a load of wheat that comes with an unusual extra. The wolf harvest deity Holo. A story of medieval merchantilism and apples.

Soul Eater(Series - 51 eps) Death makes a school to train Meisters and Weapons in an ongoing fight agaist witches. A well paced shonen with the just balance of fun, deep, dark, and exciting. Oh... and an ending!

Full Metal Alchemist/Brotherhood(2 seperate series - 51, 64 eps)
A world where achemy is real and works. Two brothers become State Alchemists(a military position in an expansionist nation) hoping to fix a mistake they made. Manga purists like Brotherhood, story purists like FMA. Both are great. Brotherhood as the later iteration has the better visuals

The Melacholy of Haruhi Suzumiya(Series - 28 eps, Movie)
A school slice of life with the pitch: What if people tell you a girl in your class is God and it's important she doesn't get bored? A massively adored but contntious series(especially one storyline that created the flamiest wars ever).

Log Horizon(Series x 2 - Ongoing)
People log into their favourite MMORPG only to find the world has become real. And they are stuck in it. The main protag is Shiroe - the Villain in Glasses, a master strategist. Good so far.

Genshiken(Series x 3, 12, 12, 13 eps)
A slice of life series set in a University club The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture. Packed with varying Okaku types, this is a bit of a love letter to the nerdy.

Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann(Series - 27 eps)
Who can describe the over-the-topness of Gurren Lagann? Imagine one of those endless Shonen series(One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, Dragon Ball), cut out all the boring stuff, smoosh the rest into 27 eps, and make it good. Must see!

Kill la Kill(Series - 24 eps)
By the creaters of TTGL. More of the insanity, more of the action, plus Female Empowerment?

Eden of the East(Series - 11 eps, 2 films)
Saki is being questioned by police in front of the White House when she is helped by a naked young man. After they escape and she is back in japan she asks her friends who run a social networking site to help track him down. Mayhem ensues.

Chobits(Series - 26 eps)
Comedy SF series by Clamp. This one's central premise dates this a bit. Personacoms are android walking talking personal assistants doing basically what our phones do now. The hapless hero finds one in the trash and comedy ensues. With a SFical deepish ending.

Azumanga Daioh(Series - 26 eps)
Comedy School slice of life show that defined the genre. Great easy to watch series.

Princess Jellyfish(Series - 11 eps)
A female otaku living in a hotel/guest house befriends a girl when she tries to save a jellyfish. She takes her back to her women only apartment full of other otaku only to find she is the transvestite nephew of a politician.

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions(Series x 2 - 12, 12, OVA)
Chunibyo is a condition where a teen's imaginary world takes over their life. The protag goes to a different high school than his friends to start fresh but finds himself enmeshed in the fantasy world of a classmate. Watch first season only + season 2 ep 5 anytime before 3rd last episode and then the OVA.

Norigami(Series - 12 eps)
Yato is a poor jobbing God, fixing peoples' problems for 10 yen between killing evil spirits. With a new weapon spirit Yukine he offers to fix a mystical problem a girl Hiyori has so she is pulled into his world.

Bodacious Space Pirates(Series - 26 eps)
A 2nd yr high school girl inherits the licence to a pirate ship and tries to juggle learning to be a pirate and keeping up with her school and friends. This is a great fun series!

Excel Saga(Series - 26 eps)
This series has to be seen to be believed. It takes the piss on various genres of TV, makes no sense and has an episode that was designed to be A: One minute too long air commercially, and B: Rejected by the censors by being too violent and obscene.

The Devil is a Part-Timer(Series - 14 eps)
The devil from an alternate dimension comes to Tokyo and decides to make his way back to the top from the bottom and gets a job at a McDonalds.

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha/Maoyu - Archenemy & Hero(Series, 12 eps)
The hero of a fantasy world comes to confront the Demon King who turns out to be a pretty young looking woman. She offers to help rebuild the world and make it better for people and demons and so they disappear together and the Crimson Scholar and her protector appear in a backwater region.

Trigun(Series - 26 eps)
A fun action-packed series starring Vash the Stampede who has a bounty on his head so large that others bounty-hunters are always after him. An expert marksman who refuses to kill most of the damage he is credited with is due to others attacking him and mayhem invariably ensues.

Black Lagoon(Series x 2 & OVA - 12, 12, 5)
A dark action packed series about the world of crime as it gathers around the Far East city of Roanapur.

Kino's Journey - The Beautiful World(Series - 13 eps + 2 films)
A slowish paced episodic show where Kino and the talking Motorcycle Hermes visit different countries for a max of 3 days. Every land is different and the series is atmospheric as heck.

From the New World -Shinsekai Yori(Series - 25 eps)
This is set 1000 years after civilisation is destroyed by people who develop psychic powers they can't control. The story follows Saki at different parts of her life as she and her friends learn to cope with their powers and the reality of the world around them.

AnoHana - The Flower We Saw that Day(Series - 11 eps)
Ten years after a friend Menma dies Jinta finds himself haunted by her ghost. He reconnects with their old friends in attempt to help her pass on.

Ame and Yuki - Wolf Children(Film)
By the same director as Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, this is a beautiful film that everyone should watch just so they can appreciate their Mums more.

Habine Renmei(Series - 13 eps)
While passing a vacant room in the building she lives, Reki finds a new egg. Together with her fellow angels(?) she shows the newly hatched Rakka through the town they live in and about the rules that they live under. A beautiful atmospheric piece. A complete 180 on Serial Experiments Lain by the same studio.

Sound of the Sky(Series - 12 eps)
A girl joins the military so she can learn the trumpet. She is stationed at an out of the way posting with 4 other recruits and a broken tank.

Michiko & Hatchin(Series - 22 eps)
Mitchiko escapes from prison and heads off to find her boyfriend. She picks up his daughter who is being fostered and dives into the world of crime that she left bumping against old friends and enemies in the gangs and the police. The anime has an amazing latin feel. Produced by the director of Cowboy Beebop.

A Remider of the Anime Mentioned Previously(Green = Movie, Blue = Series)

Psycho-Pass Gatchaman Crowds Paprika
Summer Wars Serial Experiments Lain Ōoku: The Inner Chambers(Live action)
Mushishi Star Driver 12 Kingdoms
The Wings of Honnêamise The Place Promised in Our Early Days Angel Beats
Princess Tutu Yōsōgiga Otogi Zoshi
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit The Eccentric Family The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Last Exile Summer Wars Patema Inverted
Eureka Seven & E7 AO Noein Assassination Classroom
Read Or Die Ergo Proxy Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade Wolf’s Rain Planetes
Cowboy Bebop FLCL Outlaw Star
Hellsing Ultimate .Hack//Sign Revolutionary Girl Utena
Bubblegum Crisis Martian Successor Nadesico Crest of the Stars
Banner of the Stars Boogiepop Phantom Gantz
Geneshaft

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{as posted to the video's comment section}:

This video ties nicely into what I have been thinking about what I think of as "the clash of feminisms".

I note a few of the commenters have talked about the superficiality of makeup, something that I think a lot of second wave(60s-70s) feminists would agree with. For that generation, the message was about empowerment by breaking away from what was seen as the societal norms for women, of which an extensive beauty regime was a part of. The message was: I shouldn't need all these "aids" and trapping for me to be considered valued and worthwhile. The flip side to this (since most messages seem to come with one of those) was to denigrate the use of said aids as being primarily for the purpose of attention seeking and acceptance from "the patriarchy" thus is not a choice but an imposition upon women.

The modern feminist(fourth wave?) movement as exemplified like events like Slutwalks etc, seems to be saying: However I choose to present myself(even when I buy into the patriarchy), I deserve the same level of respect, regardless of what your personal or society's values/hangups think of me(and that means you 60s hippy-chicks!).

This allows for the makeup wearers, the women in burkas, the pole dancing Harry Potter lovers, and everyone else in the spectrum to own their choices and demand the understanding from others that value judgements are A: most likely wrong, and B: Inconsequential, since ALL people should be treated with equal respect and consideration.{FULL STOP!}

All in all, I believe this is a more basic and important message than that of earlier gens of feminism put forward. While I don't deny the worth of those messages(they were the ones I grew up with), the current feminism is more inclusive and shies away from US against THEM messaging that seemed implicit earlier. And hey, once we have got this super-basic message of equality sorted out perhaps we can go back and revisit earlier ideas(although you have zero chance of ever taking my sister's ruby red heels away from her).

The Other Wind (and yes it's a stinker)

It was with much trepidation that I finally decided to read The Other Wind, the fifth Earthsea book by Ursula LeGuin. I had really disliked Tehanu(1) and have a pretty low opinion of writers returning to series they haven't written about in years.

Unfortunately it was even worse than I expected.

The Other Wind seems to be an attempt by LeGuin to 'fix' the first three books. The only problem being the things she is fixing either aren't real issues, or her fix is worse than the inciting incident.

The first 'fix' is for a real issue the original books had. Not a major issue(2) but it's there. It's implicit and explicit misogyny of Earthsea's magical hierarchy.

The explicit is a single line. "There is a saying on Gont, Weak as woman's magic, and there is another saying, Wicked as woman's magic." And the implicit is that there are no female students on Roke.

LeGuin creates The Rule of Roke to explain the school being a sausage-fest, and then to explain why mages invoke TRoR explained that they believe that sexy-times with a woman is liable to sap their magical mojo. At this point I face palmed so hard that grey stuff started squirting out my ears.

Let's get real for a moment; the most likely reason that The Wizard of Earthsea has a male only school of wizardry is because SF/F was seen as a predominantly male market at the time and the school is roughly based on medieval monastic schools.

I think the main reason I was so bowled over by the whole misogyny/Girl Cooty thing is because it didn't fit in with the stories as I read them. The picture painted of Ged's time in Low Torning was so idyllic that I felt sure that if it hadn't been for the encroaching Shadow he would never have left. I can easily see him settling down there, casting spells on peoples homes and boats, meeting a girl at a dance and ... well you know the rest. The next homey scene we see is in Iffish where Ged's friend Vetch lived. And I always thought that Vetch was carrying on the family business. He is certainly in the old family home.

The third scene that puts paid to the Girl Cooty business is in The Farthest Shore. When Ged and Arren visit Lorbanery they meet what is left of the family of the Dyers of Lorabanery. See that word I used there - Family? Ged doesn't seem at all surprised by this. He fails to ask Akaren if she got her powers by stealing them from her husband(who it seems was the weather worker in the family). He instead tells her "like knows like." when she seems to recognise him. Later after he has been forced to rename her he tells Arren

    "She was a woman of power. No mere witch or potion-maker, but  a woman of art and skill."

His tone is full of respect and so completely misses his opportunity to wonder how a whole family could all be wizards since it is well known on Roke(so much so that they even made a rule about it!) that celibacy is necessary for real magic to be practiced.

To 'fix' this I am going to suggest something I would normally not suggest in any other circumstance. Alter the original book.(3)

If you felt you had to you could cut the "Woman's magic" line(although it is said that this is a purely Gontish saying) and then change the FOUR whole references to a male student body to something more PC. Hell I would even be okay with making Vetch a female student and perhaps even a couple of the Masters(Chanter and Windkey would be good picks)

I'm not going to go into any depth about the other two things from the original books that needed 'fixing'(I have ranted enough) but the first was the land of the dead(all those empty husks walking around aimlessly were soooo untidy!), and the second was rehabilitating the Earth Spirits(the entities that were worshipped at Atuan and held in the Stone of Terrenon).

Now apart from these not being things that needed fixing, by going ahead and doing it anyway tells the readers of the early books; "You know that Ged guy you followed around and had adventures with, and who was a guide for Tenar and Arren. This man, whose great skill was to discover the True Names of things, which to quote Ogion who said "you may learn its true name, knowing its being; which is much more than its use", Well everything he said is crap and you are a fool  for believing him."

Believe it or not, tearing down the hero of the first three books, making him blind to misogyny, and clueless about some of the other major magic influences in the world of EarthSea doesn't in fact lead to a satisfying end to the series. It is like Ms LeGuin went to see Star Wars I-III and agreed with George Lucas that a million kids fondest memories should cry out in terror and be silenced.

Apart from all the above, the book is narratively unfocused. There is no clear idea of whose story it is. Tehanu is confirmed to be the important Woman of Gont, but the book ends with her having to make a choice at a later date.

Is it Tenar who's role is observer and facilitator but can't make any of the important decisions?

Arren has to either fight or negotiate with the Dragons who have suddenly decided to lay to waste everything people have built in Earthsea but really is more worried about a prospective arranged marriage with Seserakh the Kargish princess.

Then there is the second dragon girl(similar to Tehanu), Orm Irian who we are only introduced to in the last third of the book.

It should be the story of Alder the mage-mender who precipitates events when his magic using wife dies(4). He is so distraught that his soul travels to the wall of death when he sleeps so he can still see her. But his problems get shunted to one side for much of the book and then solved in a disconcertingly easy manner with far too few repercussions for his story to be satisfying.

But at least the shippers will be happy since now Ged is not a mage anymore he has finally married Tenar(Fuck! More grey stuff just spurted out my ears).

If you read this far down will you answer a question for me? Assuming you have read A Wizard of Earthsea, were you concerned or feel unwanted when you read about Roke? As a boy it was my societal privilege not to notice or be concerned about another boys club, but did you find it jarring or wrong?

(1)Aside from having a different narrative structure and giving Sparrowhawk PTSD, introducing rape, prostitution and abuse followed by the attempted murder of a child into what had been child friendly reads was a mistake to say the least.

(2)Well not a problem for me, anyway.

(3)If the new edition is fixing typos that's fine. If it is adding 2-300 pages because you don't feel you fulfilled your vision or some other garbage, cry me a fucking river and leave the damn thing alone!

(4)Hey! Another wizard who didn't lose his abilities along with his virginity.

"Name Ten Books that influenced You" dare

dweomeroflight sent me a "Name Ten Books that influenced You" dare. In theory I should name ten people too but I'm not. If you want to play though...

The books:
Madeline(Ludwig Bemelmans) - I don't really remember this book being significant really, but Mum's stories about how I wanted to get all the books from the library and never return them shows early onset Setitis. So far an incurable condition.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen(Alan Garner) - I read this in grade three. It started my interest in reading. Alan later gave me my first WTF! ending with The Owl Service.

The Dark is Rising(Susan Cooper) - The first book I remember being so hooked on I had to finish it in one sitting (under the covers with purloined salada biscuits from the kitchen to fortify me until 4am).

Plague Ship(Andre Norton) - A great SF yarn I got through Ashton Scholastic. AS had a bad habit of buying only one book of a series meaning I had to go out and find the other books as best I could. It took me decades to find the other Solar Queen novels.

Knight's Fee(Rosemary Sutcliff) - This medieval tale not only led me to read Rosemary's other books which in turn fired my interest in ancient cultures and folklore, it was the first story with a bitter-sweet ending. Gone was my expectation of happily-ever-after!

Lord of the Rings(JRR Tolkien) - My fist BIG book. The school library had the omnibus edition with FotR, TT, and RotK in one(but no appendices!) That was quite a read and utterly enthralling(but not recommended since it means the story ends with Sam being left behind :-(( ).

The Song of Mavin Manyshaped(Serri S Tepper) - Sherri S Tepper stands alone in the way she presents her version of morality and feminism. Only in a fantasy setting could the brutality of what characters do to each other here still be shown in what is marketed as a YA/Juvenile story.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy(Douglas Adams) - Science Fiction has never been this clever and funny. Over all Terry Pratchett(who did this for fantasy) might be better, but he wasn't first.

Lord Foul's Bane(Stephen Donaldson) - Welcome to the world of Adult Fantasy.

The Mysterious Mr Quin(Agatha Christie) - Not a conventional Christie book, but one of my favs. While the mysteries still are based in a hard and fast, well thouhght out reality, the romance and fantasy element lend these stories that little bit extra.

A Message from the Australian Chief of Army

I'm sorry if you have seen this everywhere else I have posted it but I am spamming this all over it is so good. One of the reasons I am posting this everywhere is because in the last fortnight or so has been a tough one when it comes to racism and sexism, what with the whole SFWA Bulletin fiasco and now the vile criticism of NK Jemisin after her fantastic GoH speech at Continuum last weekend.

While Lieutenant General David Morrison is talking directly about sexism, as you can see from the parts I quoted below, it talks equally about any form of denigration and injustice meted out on members of a group.



Some key quotes edited slightly to make them universal (in italics):

"Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place here"

"If that does not suit you then get out! You may find another employer where your attitude and behaviour is acceptable, but I doubt it. The same goes for those that think that toughness is built on humiliating others."

"No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances our community's viability."

"The Standard you walk past is the Standard you accept"

"If you aren't up to it, find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters."

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