yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I've been interested in game design for some time, but when I started in elementary school, either there were no resources or they were hard to find. It was already hard to find books in English when I lived in South Korea. We did have Base access for a couple years while my dad was still in the Army, and then he left the Army to teach at Yonsei University and we lost Base access and, with it, access to the library. In any case, it would never have occurred to me to look for books on "game design." I don't think I heard of it as an area of study until college or possibly after. I spent a lot of high school trying to design a cockamamie chess variant, and I did read up on real chess variants (Chinese chess, Japanese chess, Burmese chess, etc.). It wasn't *good*, and the one time a couple friendly strangers over the internet volunteered to playtest it, they confirmed the ruleset wasn't any good, no doubt because I had devised the pieces' moves to be ~symbolic~ for storytelling purposes (it was worldbuilding for a fantasy novel) and I didn't know anything about board game design.

Since then I have made a point of reading books on game design when I can find them, and the occasional article on the web. While I have released a couple of small interactive fiction games (IFs) and the narrative game Winterstrike (Failbetter Games), I don't really consider myself a game designer. It's more in the nature of something I do on the side because I find it illuminating to consider alternate ways to approaching narrative; I think primarily as a writer of static fiction. And for the purposes of the hexarchate, it's research because I decided that one of the factions (the Shuos) abuses game design techniques in their pedagogy, and one of the characters (Jedao) is a gamer.

The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design, ed. Mike Selinker, is a collection of essays by various designers. I was originally going to read the book through and do a report on the book overall, but I liked the essays enough to do individual reports on some of them. cut for length )

Thank you to the person who donated this book!
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll



Freelancer! From the distant future the Factions bring you our Mutant Chronicles Bundle featuring the 2015 Third Edition of Mutant Chronicles, the dieselpunk techno-fantasy RPG of future darkness from Modiphius Entertainment. With its fast-playing, cinematic "2d20" system designed by Jay Little (Star Wars: Edge of the Empire), Mutant Chronicles 3E is a thrill ride across a Solar System beset by megacorporate intrigue and the invasion of a terrible alien force.
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Posted by Fred Clark

Kelly J. Baker studied one of the darker corners of American history, writing Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930. Baker wishes this was simply the esoteric specialty of a historian, but her topic of study remains disturbingly relevant today. She’s written about that continuing relevance in a Religion & Culture [Read More...]

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

27 June 2017 12:04 pm
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait notes that the Curiosity rover is detectable from Mars orbit.
  • blogTO shares some of the vintage 1980s photos of gritty Toronto in a new book by Avard Woolaver.

  • The Big Picture shares photos of tea from its homeland in China.

  • Imageo shares stunning photos of Jupiter originally taken by the Juno probe.
  • Language Hat links to the new online version of the Australian National Dictionary.

  • The LRB Blog shares an appalling story of a British university that wants to hire an academic to develop a course for 10 pounds an hour.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the films of Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel examines the Pillars of Creation of the Eagle Nebula. How long will they last?
  • Torontoist shares photos from the Toronto Pride parade.

  • John Scalzi at Whatever talks about being a late convert to the joys of Harry Potter.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on Stalin's desire to drain the Caspian Sea, the better to exploit offshore oil and irrigate Kazakhstan.

capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
[personal profile] capriuni
The Monsters' Rhapsody: Disability, Culture, & Identity entered the world as an ink-and-paper bundle of joy on August 4, 2016.

In that time, 17 copies have sold: 3 to me (for technical reasons) and 14 to other people.

Somewhere on YouTube, I watched a vid of a panel of authors talking about self publishing, and one of them said that even when you get published via the traditional route (unless you're a Big Name Author that the publishing house is actively promoting), selling 200 copies a year is par for the course.

Considering that she was talking about prose books, and (if I recall correctly) her own work was of a traditional fiction sub-genre, and my book is poetry and it has an esoteric focus (unlike, say love poetry, or straight-up autobiography/confessional/abuse survival), I'm rather pleased to be within sight of 10% of that.*

Anyway, yesterday, I got it into head to try and convert my book from ink-and-paper to pixel-and-silicon by August 4, this year. ...

And this was after the computer I composed the book on died, so I had to re-download the PDF Lulu.com has on file, and go through the whole thing and rework the format to make it ebook compatible. ... My Inner Critic is fretting and chewing her fingernails, 'cause whoever first composed ebook algorithms didn't take the requirements of poetry into account at all (like allowing extra lines between stanzas).

So wish me luck.



*(shameless plug) If you'd like to help me get to a full 10% of Par For the Course, you can buy the book either at Lulu.com (where there's a 20% discount, and I earn $1.69):

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.


or on Amazon (where there is no discount, and I earn $0.03 from the U.S., and $0.33 from the UK [no, I have no idea why I get more money from a foreign-to-me seller])
(/shameless plug)

27 June 2017 10:47 am
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee
An interview [Lightspeed Magazine] by Christian A. Coleman. Note that the interview mainly discusses Raven Stratagem, so there are spoilers for Ninefox Gambit. I also hint at what's coming in the third book, Revenant Gun.

[story] The Ghost and Its House

27 June 2017 10:04 am
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)
[personal profile] yhlee
For P.H.
Prompt: "ghost consciousness."

The house had lain ruined for decades upon decades, quiescent at the edge of the town. Once, it was said, a fine family had dwelled there, wealthy at first, much given to parties and entertainments. The oldest people in the town still remembered the parties: the music of string quartets, and cakes decorated with spun-sugar ornaments, and couples dancing gaily through the night. But now none of the windows had glass in them anymore, save for a few sharded teeth, and the wind blew freely through the rooms where people had once gathered to gossip.

Nevertheless, the house was not entirely uninhabited. A ghost remained attached to the house, and it murmured to itself during the long winter nights, singing tuneless ghost-songs of the shapes that shadows make in the dark, and the sounds that mirrors make when no one is around to hear them, and footsteps in the distant wood. The ghost did not remember the name of the person it had been, once upon a time, but neither did this make it unhappy.

In time a pregnant cat moved into the house for the shelter it offered. The ghost did not remember much about cats, except that they liked cream, and it had no such thing to give the cat. But it had other things to offer. It encouraged the old closets to throw their doors open and disgorge their rotted linens so that the cat would have something to nest in, and it offered all house's hiding places, as well as the lullaby of the crooning wind.

For her part, the cat was a pragmatist. She did not share human prejudices against ghosts, and a ruined house was as good as any other place for her to raise kittens. She merely made sure that there were no raccoons or the like already occupying the place, and then she set to building her nest in earnest.

Cats are not the most talkative of folk, but this cat was friendlier than most. She asked the ghost why it lingered in the house, instead of going to its rest the way humans usually did. While she didn't always put credence in human stories, she had heard that ghosts usually stayed in the realm of the living because they had left some task unfinished.

The ghost said to the cat, "The only task is the task of the house itself. It was my home when I lived, and it remains my home in death."

"Then I am sorry I cannot help you," the cat said, dismayed in spite of the very pressing matter of the kittens she expected to arrive in a matter of days. "A human could help you restore the house, but I am a cat. I may have clever paws and whiskers, but they are no good for building."

The ghost's laughter gusted through the house, although it tried to keep the worst of the cold from the cat. "What do I care about restoration?" it said. "Perhaps once, when I had flesh, it would have mattered to me. But now I am a creature of shadows and dust and ash, and this house suits what I am now. I can keep it safe for you and your kittens. They can play in the house's halls and grow to adulthood without fear of being chased out by human owners; is that not enough?"

"If that is the case," the cat replied, "I shall gratefully accept your hospitality, and my kittens and I will keep your house free of mice."

"It is a very old bargain," the ghost said, "and if it suits you, it suits me."

Two days later, the kittens were born without fuss, or more fuss than the usual, anyway, and in the years to come, generations of cats made their home in the house. They probably live there still. As for the ghost, it has been busy adding the songs of cats to its repertoire. The result is noisy, but none of them mind.
spiralsheep: Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society (Sewing Circle Terrorist Society)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
- Remember: they can't ban abortion, they can only ban safe abortion. This shouldn't be news in 2017 but the BMA, which is the trade union for doctors in the UK, has voted to lobby for the decriminalisation of abortion in the UK, in addition to restating their support for the general 24 week limit under current regulation with exceptions for later abortions (usually when the woman's "health" is at risk but this is interpreted widely to include mental health, and the consequences of rape and/or domestic abuse), because we can have regulation without criminalisation. I note that no common men's healthcare procedure is criminalised in law.

- For want of a comma the husband was lost: "The novel features the author's minor series character the ex-Empress Irene, who has by this time abdicated her throne and Benjamin Trafford." /lol, wikipedia

- Reading, books 2017: 51. Having moaned about my inability to read, due to both disability (seasonal and relapsing) and my inability to pick reading material that suited my mood (which was as irritable as my eyes, lol), I then had enforced extra indoor time because I was under the weather, LITERALLY, and am now on course for my goal of 104 books in 2017. ::wryface::

40. Assassination Classroom 5, by Yusei Matsui, 2015, comic. Good, boysy, not hooking enough for me to spend £100+ on the whole story though. :-) (4/5)

42. Hellcat!, vol.2, Don't Stop Me-ow, by Kate Leth and Brittney L. Williams, 2017, comic. Good scripting from Kate Leth and perfect art from Brittney Williams but this volume didn't do much for me as it consists of what seemed a rushed conclusion to the Hedy frenemy storyline (although I presume she'll recur), an interruption for the tedious Civil War event (although Leth does her best and delivers an episode centring on female friendship), the obligatory supervillain ex-boyfriends plot (trying to mock the tropes, I suspect, but without enough depth to pull it off imo), then part of a Black Cat girl gang story that didn't grab me enough to care about the ending. There were two small continuity fails, one in which Hellcat forgets she applied to be Jessica Jones' babysitter (a job that eventually went to Squirrel Girl, lol), and one in which Bailey (and the writer) seems to have forgotten she can use her magic bag to escape by teleporting as she does in the first volume to escape Hellcat and mall security. Although I did like the deliberate ret-con explaining Patsy's mom trying to sell her soul. I've bought Ms Leth's Spell on Wheels trade too [ ↓ see below]. (4/5)

43. Reread
44. Reread

46. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, vol. 2, Cosmic Cooties, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, and Marco Failla, 2017, comic. ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5)

• Now a mealtime catchphrase :-D : "Enough! We will not discuss this at the feasting vestibule."

50. Spell on Wheels, by Kate Leth, Megan Levans, and Marissa Louise, 2017, comic, is basically a road trip version of Practical Magic but with a more diverse cast. As ever Kate Leth excels at writing comedy and light adventure, and Megan Levens' art is perfect for the story. The subplot about drugs and alcohol at a party being used against a woman was well done and solidly blamed the perpetrator (not the victim). I did have two small quibbles but only one worth mentioning: this is at least the fourth ex-boyfriend revenge plot I've read in only three trades by Ms Leth and although she does them well, with nuances, and I recognise this is an aspect of women's lives that's been underrepresented in most mediums and genres of fiction (with the honourable exception being chicklit, obv), I hope she'll expand her storytelling repertoire before it becomes too repetitive. I did like the implication that our heroines' team raison d'etre is finding new magic users, which is necessary because power isn't (and shouldn't be) hereditary. (4/5)

Entitlement Boy, the (not at all super) villain of Spell on Wheels, by Kate Leth and Megan Levens, 2017

My ancient scanner and the flickr resizing don't do the art any favours so my apologies to Ms Levens but that panel was too funny not to post! Good lettering too, lol. :-D
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Control room window gone transparent


I was quickly walking through Bloor-Yonge station Sunday evening, heading towards the southbound platform, when I looked over and saw that the control room's window, normally set to an opaque mirror, was transparent. Why would I not pause to take a quick shot of the revealed interior?
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Posted by Deborah J. Ross

Seichi at the dog park

Sometimes we embark upon a new adventure with all the good will and skill in the world, and it just doesn’t work out. The time may be wrong, or the clash of personalities may be overwhelming, or unforeseen, insurmountable problems may arise. This is as true for adopting a pet as for marriage, employment, or any of a host of other life changes.

When last I wrote, we had adopted Seichi, a 4 year old German Shepherd Dog, likely purebred, from a local shelter. She was young and bouncy, but intelligent and eager to please. She’d just been spayed, too. For the first few days, Seichi was subdued. Then both the delightful and exasperating aspects of her personality began to emerge. Playfulness, yes. Smarts by the bushel. House manners… not so much.

Very shortly, we realized she wasn’t potty trained. Three accidents (all on carpets that now must be professionally cleaned) later, we embarked upon a puppy protocol. Seichi, to her credit, got with the program very fast and had no more accidents. Meanwhile, it was bare floors and gates all around.

The real deal-breaker came when we had to admit she was not only not cat-safe, she wasn’t cat-workable (the difference is whether the dog can learn to leave indoor cats alone). We set up our usual procedures for introducing her to the house and the cats (initially behind closed doors, then her in crate/cats loose, then baby gate barricades so they could gradually smell and see one another, then supervised cat-on-tree approaches. At first, all seemed to be going well. The various species sniffed where the other had been and regarded each other curiously from a distance. We put Shakir up on the cat tree, out of reach, and let Seichi approach. A little hissing ensued. Seichi’s response — to continue to stare, which is threatening in both cat-speak and dog-speak — clued us that she had not had previous experience living with cats. We kept an eye on them to see if they’d work it out. Several things emerged: one was that Seichi continued predatory behavior even when Shakir was giving very clear “back-off” signals (growling, yowling, hissing, pupils dilated, ears flattened). If he swiped at her with claws extended, she’d jump away, but then come right back. Worse yet was that any movement on his part would engage her prey drive. 

Most German Shepherd dogs have high prey drive. It’s been bred into them. Something moves, especially something small and fast, and the need to chase it hijacks their brains. It’s also one of the things that makes throwing a ball for them or many dog sports so much fun. But it also makes living with cats problematic. We’d been lucky in having a series of cat-workable GSDs. Okay had high prey drive but he’d grown up with cats. Strange cats encountered outdoors were at risk, as were squirrels and the like. (He once caught a skunk, but that’s another story.) Tajji, on the other hand, had been bred to have a low prey drive; you don’t want a seeing eye dog taking off after a squirrel. She had also likely been exposed to cats as part of her puppy fosterage, and she sailed through our cat introduction so successfully it wasn’t long before she and Shakir were cuddling.

In the case of Seichi, however, it soon became clear that unless we wanted to keep the cats behind closed doors all the time, we were risking a mauled or dead cat. Deal-breaker.

Seichi also had worrisome attention-seeking behaviors. We noticed her tendency to nip at clothing. This escalated into mouthing hands, arms, even attempting to chew on a thigh. When given gentle correction or being pushed gently away, she’d become frantic and escalate the behavior alarmingly. Sometimes simply turning our back on her would be enough, but not always. She also needed to be watched every minute or she’d engage in destructive behavior (like pulling the meditation cushions off the sofa and trying to remove their stuffing — this only took a couple of minutes’ inattention).

Our experience with her was a parade of might-have-beens. If we had been younger and had more time to devote to socializing her (she was really a puppy in a 4 year old’s body). It there had not been the serious risk to the cats, we might have been more willing to work on the other issues. And a big one for me was realizing that I have recovered from my PTSD as well as I have by structuring my daily schedule and environment to support my stability. For example, it’s important that I exercise every morning and meditate every night, both of which were interrupted by the need to supervise Seichi (or crate her multiple times a day plus all night).

So, as lovely and loving as she was, we came to the conclusion she wasn’t the right dog for us. Or we, as older adults, weren’t the right people for her. The local GSD rescue organization couldn’t take her due to overload, but we talked to the folks at the (no-kill) shelter and decided it was best to return her there with a report on her personality and our observations of her problems and wonderful aspects.

Our cats are slowly coming back into their own after being shut away (or terrorized on the cat tree), remarkably affectionate. I’m letting myself settle and really take the time before contemplating whether I can handle another dog. I hope so, but I’m wary of pressuring myself to agree to something without being sure it is the right thing for me. This was the second dog that disrupted my self-care to the point I felt destabilized and concerned about my mental health, so I need to pay attention to how I got there. And that will take time.

Life is full of experiments, some of which work out beyond our wildest hopes. And others don’t.

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Munich Film Festival II

27 June 2017 11:28 am
selenak: (Orson Welles by Moonxpoints5)
[personal profile] selenak
The Infiltrator was part of the Bryan Cranston retrospective and basically came across as a well-made routine thriller without anything being either bad or having anything innovative going for it. I.e. if you've watched thrillers about undercover cops working to bring a drug cartel down, you can predict all of the story beats. (Other than one spoilerly bit ).) It's entertaining and does what it sets out to do, and needless to say Cranston is reliably good in the part, but I wouldn't say it's a must.

City of Ghosts, otoh, was a fantastic documentary, directed by Matthew Heineman, about the citizen journalist group Raqqa is being slaughtered silently (RBBS). Before I watched it, I was unfamiliar with the phrase "citizen journalist" , but it's really a perfect description, because before the IS came to Raqqa, only one of them was a journalist, the rest had professions like high school math teacher or engineer. Nonetheless, they took incredible risks getting out photos and film evidence of the atrocities the so called Islamic State visited - and still visits upon their city. The surviving founders of the group had to flee but they still have some members in Raqqa, trying their best to continue getting material out. I'm always hesitant to use the phrase "real life heroes", but these people are truly heroic, and one thing that galls me especially is that when they've made it alive to Germany and safety, they promptly run into one anti-refugees march by the godawful AFD in Berlin.

The documentary starts during the "Arab Spring" in 2012, for which the Assad Regime going after Raqqa school children was one of the local triggers, and ends last year. We follow the core group of RBBS; Heineman is an invisible presence, he lets them narrate their stories, and when there's background information/exposition, such the way the IS uses the media for recruitment changed radically from the very early static speech videos to the Hollywood style big production videos that came into use after the fall of Raqqa, the activists are doing the explaining (subtitled, for the most part, everyone talks in Arabic) while the audience sees excerpts of the videos in question. BTW, I'd never seen an IS recruitment video before, and I have to say, the exact copying of action movie gimmicks and aesthetics (complete with following-the-bullet shots, soundtrack, etc.) is nearly as unsettling as the content. It's not much of a comfort that RBBS was able to puncture the IS self image enough by getting videos and photos showing the true state of Raqqa out to counteract the IS claims about it that the IS forbade any satelites in Raqqa and ordered the inhabitants to publically destroy theirs, so they regain control of the imagery. But it's something.

If the excerpts from the IS videos go for action movie gloss on violence, the mobile phone camera made videos of the RBBS are shaky, abruptly cut off, full of (inevitably) strange angles - and shocking in quite a different way. For example, the first time we see executions, the abrupt deaths and the already dead bodies lying around are bad enough, but without either the camera or any narrator pointing this out, what is as gruesome is what you see in the background. Yes, these are heads on pikes on what used to be the town square, not cheap movie props in the latest zombie splatter, but real human heads.

There's a lot of survivors guilt among the activists; one of them had to watch his father being executed in punishment, all of them are directly threatened by the IS who calls for their deaths, one lost his brother who was among the refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean, and when he talks about his dead brother, he says he still sends him messages per Facebook (as the account hasn't been taken down). "I am broken, my brother. Broken." And yet, and yet, they still continue to risk their lives. There's also a lot of comraderie we see, being physically comfortable with each other, and the rare moment of pure joy, such as everyone having a snowball fight in Berlin. You feel for them, and admire them - and hope the movie will be seen by as many people as possible. Maybe it will remind them that 95% of the victims of IS terrorism are Muslims - and said victims won't, shan't be silenced, are doing their best to fight back.

L'Intrusa, directed by Leonardo di Costanzo, is, like The Infiltrator, "based on a true story", with organized crime in the background, but the contrast couldn't be greater. While delivering a tight narration, there's nothing routine or slick about this movie, which is set in Naples and manages to avoid every single cliché. The fact you don't see the Vesuvio or the bay anywhere is just one of them; L'Intrusa is set in one of the poor quarters. The central characteris Giovanna, who has organized a miixture of daycare centre and social centre for kids and teenagers to offer them a life off the streets. When the film starts, the centre is well established and has been running for years, has been embraced by the neighborhood - but then something happens that puts Giovanna in an unsolvable dilemma. One of the small to mid level gangster's wives - Maria - and her two children have come to the centre, claiming refuge. Giovanna, Maria's daughter Rita and Maria are the three main characters; the supporting cast is also individualized, from Giovanna's right hand woman Sabina to the widow of a man Maria's husband has shot to the little daughter whose father was beaten to a pulp by Maria's husband right in front of her.

L'Intrusa never shows on screen violence. It doesn't show the Camorra doing what the Camorra does, but the after effects are present everywhere. This was a deliberate choice by the director, who in the Q & A said that if you depict Mafiosi "from the front", i.e. put them in the centre of the narration, even if you position them as villains, you end up making them in some ways sympathetic or even glorify them. "So, in my films, I only come at them sideways" - i.e. they're not there on screen, but there's no mistaking the terribile effect they have. Now, the centre is a film full of life and joy, with a community acting together, and it's rare and very attractive to see that. But it's not utopia, and in fact the need for it directly grows out of the unseen horrors around it. Not surprisingly, more and more parents object to Maria's presence. Giovanna gets accused of prioritizing the perpretators over their victims. The aunt of the little girl who has seen her father beaten into a pulp demands to know how she should justify to her sister letting her niece interact, let alone play with Rita, what that would do to her niece. Things come to a head when Rita and some of the kids argue, a normal kids' argument, with the parents drawn into, but Maria isn't just any parent, and so when she says "if you touch my daughter again etc.", the awareness that this is the wife of someone who casually kills people, even if he's currently arrested and hopefully won't get out of prison any time soon, makes this a direct threat to the other kids.

Otoh, Giovanna's argument is: if you ever want to break the cycle of violence, you need to make sure that the Marias of the world don't raise their children to follow their fathers' footsteps. That these children learn other values, learn something different. If she turns these children away from the centre, this will not happen.

As I said: it's an unsolvable dilemma, and the movie doesn't simplify it. It even adds to the stakes because Maria at first comes across as arrogant and rude (it's not until well into the film when you see her alone that you realise she's shattered and scared as well). Not to mention that she starts out by deceiving Giovanna, and there's early on not much to justify Giovanna's hope that Maria actually wants a change for herself and her children - nothing but the fact Maria is here instead of being with her rich sister-in-law, who in the movie shows up twice in a big car to retrieve Maria, in vain, and evidently lives the well funded Mafia spouse life. Basically: you understand where everyone is coming from.

Something else I learned in the Q & A was that most of the actors were lay actors, actual Neapolitans whose main job is in social service (though no one played themselves), with Giovanna being played by a woman who is a dancer and dance choreographer. "Because Giovanna doesn't say much, she's so stoic, she expresses herself through her body language," said the director, "I wanted someone who could do that, that's why I picked Raffaela Giordano." Who indeed is able to express much by the way she looks at people, by her movements, and who looks like she's closer to 50 than to 40. Everyone looks "normal", i.e. like people you could meet on the streets, not like well styled actors with a daily workout. But none act amateurishly in the sense that you're taken outside the story or feel they're talking stiltedly; given Rita and the other children are a big part of the story, that's especially amazing.

Favourite detail: one of the projects the kids in the centre work on, and the one Rita falls in love with and participates with, is building a robot they name "Mr. Jones" out of old bicycle parts. You can bet that in most other movies, Rita and her baby brother would have changed placed in age and it would have been a little boy fascinated with the robot.

In conclusion: probably my favourite movie so far, and highly reccomended
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Posted by News Editor

No Perfect Magic by Patricia RiceNo Perfect Magic
Unexpected Magic Book 6
by Patricia Rice

Will Ives, the bastard son of the late marquess, is as strong, handsome, and smart as his brothers, but he has no interest in society or book learning. His unique gift for training highly-prized rescue dogs is all he needs. His peace is shattered the day the beautiful but eccentric Lady Aurelia demands his help in finding a child no one knows is missing.

The daughter of a duke, Lady Aurelia has everything: wealth, beauty, and a family known for their good works. Unfortunately, afflicted with hyper-acute hearing, she spends most of her time cringing in her room. She wants nothing more than to please her father and make a good match, but how can she when every dinner, tea, and ball is pure torture?

When a child only she can hear cries for help, Aurelia must find a way to turn her affliction into the gift it is, before it’s too late. Will, in turn, must overcome his reluctance to work with a lady who makes him feel inadequate in all ways but one.

With the reluctant aid of Will and his dogs, the pair sets out on an unusual journey that will surely lead to heartbreak–or a love against all reason.

The Unexpected Magic series:

Magic in the Stars
Whisper of Magic
Theory of Magic
Aura of Magic
Chemistry of Magic
No Perfect Magic

Download an Ebook Sample:

EPUB MOBI

 

Buy No Perfect Magic at BVC Ebookstore

 

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Replica

26 June 2017 08:40 pm
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)
[personal profile] yhlee
Jenna Black's Replica is a YA sf novel that I picked up from the library one-cent-a-book discard sale along with its sequel Resistance. I have just finished Replica and have not yet read Resistance, although I plan on getting to it soon. My verdict is that this is a good novel, but it could have been so much better.

I was attracted to Replica because clones and faux!amnesia are bulletproof narrative kinks for me. You have to work to foul those up for me. Here's the back cover copy:
Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake's marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in the Corporate States. She lives a life of privilege, even if she has to put up with paparazzi tracking her every move, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image--no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathaniel Hayes is the heir to the company that pioneered human replication: a technology that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Except he's more interested in sneaking around the seedy underbelly of the state formerly known as New York than he is in learning to run his future company or courting his bride-to-be. She's not exactly his type...not that he can tell anyone that.

But then Nate turns up dead, and Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn't know what--or rather, who--killed him.

Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

What's good: there's a lot packed into the premise. Nadia is genteelly raised, but far from spineless, and easy to sympathize with. Nate is a closeted gay man in a social class of a future society that strongly discourages homosexuality, and one of his major motivations is to protect his lower-class lover. And Nadia and Nate's friendship with its ups and downs is believable.

Neutral: the Executive class of elites allows women to inherit, but there's a behavioral double standard as to what men and women can get away with, which is why Nadia has to watch her every move so she doesn't cause scandals while Nate can act out all he wants. The narrative states that this is some kind of throwback to the nineteenth century (Western, presumably?). There isn't much explanation given for how this developed, but I've seen sillier setups in sf so I was willing to go along with it.

What's less good, without going into spoilers: As far as I can tell, the entire named cast minus one character (Chloe, a friend of Nadia's) is white. There is lip-service paid to Chloe feeling like an outcast because she's black, and then Chloe is very rapidly shuffled off-stage and we never hear from her again.

That's not actually my biggest complaint about the novel. My biggest complaint about the novel is that it has a lot of tense action and still never manages to punch hard enough. And I don't mean this in the social justice sense of punching down or sideways or diagonally or whateverthehell. I mean this in terms of narrative impact on the reader.

I can't discuss further without spoiling the whole thing, and I am really frustrated by the fact that this fairly good novel could have taken my favorite tropes and done them even better, so let's have a spoiler cut: Read more... )

Local news

26 June 2017 10:34 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


Mosque approved despite pleas to think of the little turtles and an odd assertion that the mosque would produce more sewage than "normal " spiritual use.

The exgf's cats meet Fig

26 June 2017 09:42 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Ibid has a ... troubled history with Nigel so we're holding off on that.

No histrionics but somehow Rufus established himself as a cat Fig needs not to annoy, whereas Nigel is someone Fig will happily follow around.

Also, Fig made himself sick eating daisies, then tried to eat one again.

*facepalm*

26 June 2017 03:00 pm
yhlee: recreational (peaceful) tank (recreational tank)
[personal profile] yhlee
The moment where you see Microsoft Word's wordcount for the current story in progress saying "1701 Words" and think, Why is it 5:01 p.m.? I thought it was only 3 p.m.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I finally found out where I misshelved this.

(no idea what review series I can fit it into)


[BLOG] Some Monday links

26 June 2017 01:46 pm
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Language Hat blogs about appearances of Nahuatl in Los Angeles, in television and in education.
  • Language Log talks about "Zhonghua minzu", meaning "Chinese nation" or "Chinese race" depending on the translation.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Canada, with inelastic production, might have a marijuana shortage come legalization/
  • In the NYR Daily, Christopher de Bellaigue wonders if Britain--the West, even--might be on the verge of a descent into communal violence.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the accessibility of VIA Rail's data on trade arrivals and departures.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel notes that, in the far distant starless future, the decay of binary brown dwarf orbits can still start stars.

  • Torontoist shares photos of the Dyke March.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Tatarstan's tradition of bourgeois and intellectually critical nationalism could have wider consequences, in Russia and beyond.

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