Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.
I only ever read the first book, and that one only once, and I wasn't paying super close attention. I remember Rien saying something about a parental figure telling her "how do you know for sure you don't like it if you haven't tried it?" and the way Rien talked about it and reacted to the idea of sex with cismen in other parts of the story made me think she tried it, and got confirmation she didn't like it. I was a bit surprised about her receptivity to Mallory's male sexual parts for that very reason, but I just chalked it up to one of the things I, as a straight male raised in a heterosexist culture, don't understand about other people's sexual orientations. Again, though, I wasn't paying incredibly close attention the one time I read the book, so I can believe I misunderstood somewhere.
Yeah, I've heard about Aliette de Bodard's Aztec-based fantasy, and I like the idea precisely because it's not "yet another Medieval Europe-based setting." I've even read one of her short stories, and I didn't find it great, but it was quite good. (I also think she's written sci-fi where the two dominant powers are Amerindian and I want to say Chinese? That sounds cool, too.)
I've been meaning to get around to her books at some point - I have a long reading list though, and I'm a slow reader. It's really too bad her books don't appear to be available on audio.
(The author is French, and doesn't appear to have South American ancestry.)
Yeah, I believe her ancestry is Vietnamese. I remember she was interviewed on a podcast, talking about the dangers of writing another culture and having to be very careful not to do something offensive - I can believe she doesn't %100 succeed.
That does sound interesting - thanks for the recommendation, Cheriola.
@Adrienne: So sorry to hear about your crappy year+. I'm glad if I was able to cheer you up some, and I hope things continue to improve for you.
But what I find most remarkable is that, aside maybe from the protagonist's family and roommate, I really like every recurring character so far. I don't think I've ever seen a show where that was the case before. Even the villain is entertaining and even charming sometimes, for all he is a sociopathic, manipulative user.
Note, though, that I don't generally watch zombie movies or shows (I think zombies as villains are very boring), so if you're a fan of those, this might feel somewhat sacrilegious to you.
Yes, Rien said that she was definetly more into cis women, but she also said that she has had sex with cis boys "to be sure" (which I don't really think a 16-year-old lesbian would do, at least not in a society that really doesn't judge about these things), and her reaction to intersex Mallory offering to adjust his genitals for her convenience is basically "don't be silly". Besides, while someone in the third book judges Mallory to be transgender and somewhat feminine (which may be a change from the first book, since he's now together with Tristan who previously had a wife), everyone uses male pronouns for Mallory (there is a minor character for whom alternative agender pronouns are used, so it's not like the author just didn't want to deal with the writing inconvenience), and well... people can get rather upset if you judge their sexual orientation from their genderqueer partner's body instead of their gender identity. (Example: http://comics.billroundy.com/?p=1116 ) So I'm wary of calling Rien as purely lesbian. She is homoromantic for sure, though. Or well, as far as you can tell with a teenager who never got beyond her first love.
By the way, I seem to remember someone on this site reviewing a truly offensive / atrocious fantasy novel set in pre-columbian South America? I recently read "Servant of the Underworld" by Aliette De Bodard. (Because the TV Tropes site listed the protagonist as asexual - this turned out to be a misinterpretation by someone who can't distinguish between celibacy / low libido and lack of sexual attraction, or by someone who straight up remembered things wrong. Still, there's very little sexual content in the book for something featuring a sex goddess banished to Earth and a plot that hinges a lot on adultery. The protagonist is a Holmes expy in some ways, though not really in terms of personality. ) Despite this disappointment, the book turned out quite interesting for its setting of non-European-middle-ages-based fantasy. It's basically "what if the Aztec religious beliefs and magic were actually true", with a lot of work put into the details of Aztek life and worldview, and the plot is a murder mystery that eventually involves the gods and the end of the world. There were some issues with repetitive phrasing and hard-to-remember names, the author is a little overly fond of describing the details of people's clothing and interior decoration, and it is a rather sexist and gender-segregated society so major female characters somewhat scarce (the author actually invented an non-historical priesthood just to have a female character powerful enough to have political influence). I was also raising my eyebrows at various characters being described as "pale as chalk" or similarly when scared/sick/drowned/etc., since I don't think that's how it works for people who are normally quite brown. (The author is French, and doesn't appear to have South American ancestry.)
But overall, I found it quite enjoyable and overall inoffensive. There is a lot of blood sacrifice going on, but it's mostly just animals or small amounts of the priests' own blood. (All the characters are completely okay with human sacrifices in general, but the author shied away from making her "good guys" actually take part in them, by falsely claiming that their particular gods don't want any, as she admits in the "How accurate is all this?" essay at the end.)
The plot really isn't anything special, and the character development drags rather too long, but if you want the whole "the past is a different country" experience, this is probably as alien to the modern, Western enculturation as it gets while still being based on the experience, needs and wants of humans.
And yet, here we are.
... So yeah, all-in-all, great movie.
My rule of thumb in such situations is to tell people that picking a costume they like and are enthusiastic about is more important than strict adherence to theme anyway. :D
Jules V.O.: This is the one that got me.
Yeah, that's good, too.
There's also this tribute from the other day: How to Tell You're in a Terry Pratchett novel. I particularly appreciate the Hogfather reference at the end - it's from the same snippet of the book that I used on my livejournal for my own tribute post.
In more Pratchett memorial news, my sister Noria shared this picture with me recently, which she described as "the saddest adorable thing ever." I think it's an accurate description.
This is the one that got me.
@Arthur: That's a beautiful sentiment, I hope you're right.
@Cheriola: That's sweet, thanks for sharing. And this part:
he must have been the most effective teacher of secular humanist ethics of our age
Totally agree. When I first went to undergrad and started studying philosophy (about seven years ago, now) my dad asked me at one point who my favorite philosopher was, and I can't remember which one of us said it anymore, but one put forward Terry Pratchett. I really do think he was a philosophical writer par excellence, even if I did find myself disagreeing with him on more and more points as time progressed. A couple years after that conversation with my dad, I was at a con panel on "The Philosophy of Discworld," where you had this guy talking about all this interesting philosophical ideas he found in the Discworld series, and I mostly remembering thinking just 'Yeah, that's about right.'
... And I also found his books immensely fun, which is hardly ever the case for me when it comes to Great Works of Literature.
Also interesting reading of "Bonnie & Clyde." I may have to check it out, for research on asexual characters if nothing else.
Interesting: I agree that Perceval is definitely asexual, but I read Rein as emphatically not interested in male-bodied people at all, to the point where she only had sex with the intersex character in spite of their male-bodied characteristics. It has been a couple of years since I read the book, though.
I don’t know if I should be glad that he passed peacefully and apparently before his condition got unbearable mentally, or be sad that he didn’t get to make his stand on the issue of assisted suicide as he had planned.
Unless we hear anything to the contrary I'm choosing to take that as a sign that, despite the struggles of his condition, it never quite hit the point where the "dignified exit" route outweighed what joys he still had in life.
Explanation, for the sake of not cluttering up the playpen even more, to be found here: http://notes.io/DHT
Though it wasn’t just the ethical education, or even the fact that listening to the audiobooks for the 5th time reliably helps me distract myself during phases of bad depression and anxiety, but also that he was so refreshingly uninterested in romance subplots. He may never have identified any of his characters as asexual / aromantic (or have any other non-hetero characters until rather recently), but there were quite a few major characters and protagonists who simply showed no interest, or were completely oblivious, or were just plain too busy for any kind of romance. And even the books with romance subplots kept that part to a minimum or snarked about it. In a world where all other authors apparently have to establish their male protagonists as NOT A VIRGIN and always ready to judge the attractiveness of any woman they meet, and books with female protagonists apparently can’t do without one or more love interests to swoon over, and where all the spares have to be paired up in the end, just breaking that mold on a regular basis is already worth a lot. I’m grateful that I had some 30-odd Discworld and other novels to go through as a teenager, long before I knew asexuality was a thing and that I wasn’t alone. His sheer productivity as an author managed to balance out everything else I read, and helped me feel… normal. (It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good romance subplot. I do. The problem of erasure comes in if there are never any teenage or adult characters who don’t fall in love or have a string of affairs.)
I don’t know if I should be glad that he passed peacefully and apparently before his condition got unbearable mentally, or be sad that he didn’t get to make his stand on the issue of assisted suicide as he had planned. (One of my grandmothers had Alzheimer’s – I don’t have any memories of her as anything but in a basically vegetative state. My mother has told me years ago that she’s planning on committing suicide if she ever gets diagnosed. That’s not legal in my country either, though.)
I’m mostly just sad that the world (and his family) was robbed of this brilliant human far too early.
“So much universe, and so little time,” indeed.
I haven't read any Pratchett for years, but what I realised this week was that I've still read more books by him than any other author,
This is true for me as well, although I admit I haven't read nearly as many of his books as Andy.
Truthfully, I think the only other author whose works affected me as deeply as Pratchett's was Gore Vidal. Despite not having kept up with the Discworld of late, I'm very, very sad to see him go.