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[personal profile] justira
All the Birds in the Sky cover

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.

But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

Friends! What do you do when you deeply want to like a book and you just can't? Well, I suppose you take out all your feels in a review. Fair warning, this review discusses abuse, and, after a while and a marked cut, spoilers.

All the Birds in the Sky is a book about tropes, which is not surprising coming from the former editor in chief of io9. As the Tor.com review puts it, "it’s also a book about 'these sorts of stories' and genre fiction, though less directly." It's a blend of sci fi and fantasy tropes, and of tropes about the two coming together. Sci fi + fantasy is my stop — it's what I write myself, and I was very excited to see a mainstream book that mixed the genres. However, I ended up not really liking the execution. Patricia, a cis woman, represents magic/nature and is a witch. Laurence, a cis man, represents technology and science and is an engineering genius. Wired says that Charlie Jane Anders "worried a lot about playing into expectations", and in many ways I feel she was right to worry. The setup is not just classic, it's classical, drawing on the oldest associations of the masculine and the feminine in our culture. But as I said, this is a book about tropes — and about playing with them. The whole thing has a punchline that subverts many of the tropes that had been in play up to that point, but I'll discuss that after the spoiler cut. First, I want to talk about some things about the book that I liked!

Positive stuff! )

With slightly less enthusiasm I can also recommend the writing, which was by and large smooth with a surprisingly effective image or two scattered here and them like gems. I want to pull out a piece that worked for me and shows many of the themes of the book:
But maybe Laurence had been right and these devices were what made us unique, as humans. We made machines, the way spiders made silk. Staring at the red wasp-shaped chassis, she thought of how disgusted she had been with Laurence, not long ago. And maybe she shouldn't judge him — judging was a kind of Aggrandizement — and maybe this device was a culmination of everything she'd always admired about him from the start. And, yes, a sign that they'd both won out, over the Mr. Roses of the world.

"It's beautiful," she said.
p.151-152

In some places, it really works.

It's just that things get a bit tonally weird at various points, and this is where we transition to some talk about abuse and personal reactions.

Abuse and Personal Reactions )

Now, on to the spoilers!

Spoilers below )

Notes

  1. This is not to say I think the book overall reads like YA, because (a) it doesn't and (b) "this should be in the YA section" is often lobbed at women and is a form of gatekeeping, preventing women's stories from joining mainstream SFF adult literature and harking back to how women are seen as more juvenile and called by juvenile names. No thank you. (back to text)

  2. Not that there is anything wrong with heterosexuality and living the stereotype. I had a long talk with [personal profile] renay about this, and it's not that people who live like this have anything wrong with them or that Charlie Jane Anders is obligated to challenged gender norms at every turn on top of all the other risky work she's doing. There is something wrong with heteronormativity and gender norms, but nothing wrong with living agency-filled lives that embody the tropes. This post by bikiniarmorbattledamage outlines the difference between agency and sexism. The thing is, these are all fictional characters created by Charlie Jane Anders, and all the choices they make are ones she wrote for them. (back to text)




Supplementary Material
Renay on All the Birds in the Sky in her Lets Get Literate Column
Renay on All the Birds in the Sky in our Favorite Media of January 2016 roundup


Other Reviews
The Book Smugglers; see especially Ana's discussion of how this book busts down male privilege
Tor.com
SF Reviews
Locus
Journal Sentinel
The Amazon Book Review, with Interview with Charlie Jane Anders
SF Bluestocking
Civilian Reader
Wired
SF Signal
Page to Stage
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Because we haven't quite managed to work out a way for us to consume ALL the entertainment yet: to keep us from emerging haggard and zombie like after regular all night box set marathons, book splurges and music overload we've set up this quarterly space where we can express our pure fannish glee at the fact that so many projects of awesome potential are continually being made. All of our past wants and desires can be found in the We Want It! tag.


Our April iteration of We Want It! is running a little late, but has finally arrived! \o/ Onward to the cool media we're looking forward to. :D

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Adventures Elsewhere collects our reviews, guest posts, articles, and other content we've spread across the Internet (sort of) recently in March! See what we've been up in our other projects. :D


Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Fanwork is awesome and sharing fanwork is even more awesome. Join us as we keymash and squee over our favorite fanwork, from fic (both written and podfic) to art to vids and meta and back again.


Recommendations included:
  • Ace Attorney — fic (1)
  • Avengers Academy — art (1)
  • Captain America — art (1)
  • Captain Marvel — art (1)
  • Crossover: Carmen Sandiego/Where's Waldo — comic (1)
  • DC Comics — art (1)
  • Final Fantasy VII — art (1)
  • Hamilton — art (1)
  • Hawkeye — art (1)
  • Mass Effect — cosplay (1)
  • Saga — vid (1)
  • Sailor Moon — art (1)
  • Star Trek — cosplay (1)
  • Star Wars — art (2), fic (1), vids (2)
  • Xena: Warrior Princess — art (1)


On to the recs! )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena


In a time without a Black Widow movie on the horizon, two fans in turmoil cried out for a heroine. She was Xena, a mighty female protagonist forged in the fires of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The action, the camp, the queer subtext. Her adventures will rock their worlds.


Renay: Continuing its tenuous relationship with history and mythology, Xena: The Warrior Princess reaches into the Christianity grab bag again and pulls out the story of David and Goliath. Oh, writers, never stop telling your wild Bible fanfic! I am vaguely familiar with this story from my aborted adventures into Sunday School, but I have more of a secular background with David as the teeny underdog and Goliath as a tough adversary David has to defeat to show the even the little guy can triumph! So it was neat to see the show embrace the part of the story that I came to later, that the fight between David and Goliath was more about David's divine right to become King. Predictably, a lot of the religion stuff went over my head! Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
Hello, friends! April was super busy: my partner and I took a trip to Portland, Oregon, to scope it out as a possible option for moving to so he can make more money as a programmer. Or, in other words, how scary would I find the city? How scary is driving there? How terrifying is it to ride trains and be around a lot of strangers? He'll survive just fine, but will my anxiety be cranked into overdrive? Turns out these are all not a problem. In fact, driving on highways there is like the traffic control people went, "How can we help people with driving anxiety? HOW ABOUT TRAFFIC LIGHTS FOR ON RAMPS?" It was magical. I'm still in awe. Plus, the trains are cool! Everything is labeled! There are helpful announcements! You can buy tickets without interacting with anyone!

Plus, there are bookstores and comic shops and I can get to them WITHOUT A CAR.

I'M SOLD.Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.


Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Fanwork is awesome and sharing fanwork is even more awesome. Join us as we keymash and squee over our favorite fanwork, from fic (both written and podfic) to art to vids and meta and back again.


Recommendations included:
  • Crossover: Star Wars/Metroid — comic (1)
  • Dragon Age — art (2)
  • Mass Effect — art (1), cosplay
  • Miscellaneous — photography (1)
  • Star Wars — art (5)
  • Superman — fic (1)


On to the recs! )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena


In a time without a Black Widow movie on the horizon, two fans in turmoil cried out for a heroine. She was Xena, a mighty female protagonist forged in the fires of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The action, the camp, the queer subtext. Her adventures will rock their worlds.


Clare: You know, I never thought we’d get the equivalent of those episodes on Friends and Will & Grace when they flash back to the eighties, and yet, here we are. Not that Xena necessarily goes back in time, but rather sideways, into a timeline where she and her family never stood up to Cortese and started her down the path towards becoming a vicious warlord, thanks to a wish granted by the Fates. Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.


Read more... )
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[personal profile] spindizzy
Q: Susan, where have you and your book column been?!
A: ... Y'know what, I don't even KNOW. I may have fallen into a black hole made of the same like, three fic for the entirety of March, because that's about all I remember?

... Seriously, I would like to discuss the awesome media I've been consuming but I don't think I've read anything for like a month. So... This is me trying to get back into the swing of things?

Books, graphic novels and manga read:
  1. Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

  2. Immortal in Death by J. D. Robb

  3. First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

  4. Alabaster: Wolves by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Steve Leiber, and Rachelle Rosenberg

  5. Rachel Aaron's 2,000 to 10,000 by Rachel Aaron

  6. Take Off Your Pants! by Libbie Hawke

  7. Grave Sight Part 2 by Charlaine Harris, Denis Medri, William Harms

  8. Revival Deluxe Volume 1 by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton

  9. The Chase by Jesse J. Thoma


Books behind the cut! )

So, how's everyone else doing? I'm assuming not everyone checked out during March, so how have your reading projects been going?
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[personal profile] litomnivore
The arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens made the Star Wars fandom explode earlier this year. The modern Star Wars fan is catered to not only by seemingly every kind of product with enough surface area to slap Kylo Ren on (laugh all you want, this cereal is wicked delicious), but also by the width and breadth of the fanworks available to her. With decades of fanworks to sift through, the possibilities can seem infinite. But once she’s read her eyes out on all the Poe/Finn fic she can find and indulged in prequel fanvids set to Evanescence songs (kids, ask your parents), she might have a question.

Where, a new Star Wars fan might well ask, is all the Han/Luke fic?

"C'mon, Kid."
"C'mon, kid…"


Han Solo and Luke Skywalker have all the hallmarks of a successful slash ship: namely, they are two white dudes who stand next to each other in a mainstream media property. Pointed, bitter joking aside, they’re initially thrown together by happenstance and grow to become friends after a rocky start over the course of A New Hope. They then embark on, with Leia, one of the greatest love triangles of the twentieth century. (It must be deeply stressed that nobody knew that Luke and Leia were siblings for six years. Including George Lucas.) Han and Luke clearly enjoy each other’s company and value each other greatly. On top of all that, Ford and Hamill have good chemistry and banter well together, the hallmark of any true Star Wars romance (prequels? What prequels?).

And yet, other and newer Star Wars ships seem to take precedence. Like Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi or Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the latter a pairing whose canon interaction is now limited to a single film. (Whose living canon interaction is now limited to a single film. I am perfectly aware that Qui-Gon sometimes appears as a Force ghost to Obi-Wan, presumably to continue the endless torment of having such a terrible Jedi as your master. Qui-Gon Jinn: the original Bad Idea Jedi.) It seems impossible that Star Wars fandom somehow just politely ignored the slash potential of Han and Luke from 1977 (when Star Wars debuted) to 1996 (when the first Han/Luke fanzine, Elusive Lover, was published), and yet that’s what the fossil record seems to indicate. And why didn’t it have more of a presence in the last two decades?

Well, friends and fen, to answer that question, we have to go back to the late seventies.

Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Fanwork is awesome and sharing fanwork is even more awesome. Join us as we keymash and squee over our favorite fanwork, from fic (both written and podfic) to art to vids and meta and back again.


Recommendations included:
  • Avengers — art (1)
  • Crossover: Jupiter Ascending/Leverage — fic (1)
  • Dragon Age 2 — art (1)
  • Final Fantasy VIII — art (1)
  • Final Fantasy XII — art (1)
  • The Graceling Realms — art (1)
  • Mass Effect — vid (1)
  • Sailor Moon — art (2)
  • Star Wars — art (2), fic (1), meta (1)
  • Supernatural — vid (1)


On to the recs! )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena


In a time without a Black Widow movie on the horizon, two fans in turmoil cried out for a heroine. She was Xena, a mighty female protagonist forged in the fires of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The action, the camp, the queer subtext. Her adventures will rock their worlds.


Clare: Did everybody have a good summer of 1996? I hope you did, because the second season of Xena goes from zero to sixty in no time. Back in ye olden days, before Netflix and chill (ask your parents), season premieres had to be able to appeal to both regular viewers and reel in new viewers. (I mean, they still have to, but it was imperative back then.)

What makes Xena a compelling television show? Well, there’s Xena’s ongoing quest to to atone for her sins during her past as a ruthless, near-genocidal warlord. There’s snarky but kind Gabrielle, now with added bo staff action. There’s their beautiful love affair friendship. And then there’s the bizarro kind of Greek myth world they inhabit and its hysterically bad special effects. Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Hello, friends! I took last week off to catch up with paid work and to recover from getting socked in the sinuses by allergies. But I've been making excellent headway on reading and getting awesome books in the mail. >D

cover for Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott


CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

You know that feeling when you realize you've undertaken a massive reading project and were over-confident, but are now too stubborn to give up? I am that feeling, made sentient, with no one around me strong enough to take me aside and say, "Renay, NO." :D

Books for Week 12 and 13: Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and Act of God by Jill Ciment.

Doreen is back! )

I've never read Anne McCaffrey, in yet another stunning display of Established Canon Failure due to lack of robust a library system. I have Act of God out from the library already so yay! Meanwhile, I finished some books!

Reading Adventures! )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Because we haven't quite managed to work out a way for us to consume ALL the entertainment yet: to keep us from emerging haggard and zombie like after regular all night box set marathons, book splurges and music overload we've set up this quarterly space where we can express our pure fannish glee at the fact that so many projects of awesome potential are continually being made. All of our past wants and desires can be found in the We Want It! tag.


Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.


Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
We're super excited that friends of the blog, Book Smugglers Publishing, is diving into a brand new publishing venture and bringing us novels! Their first acquisition is the Extrahuman Union series. Today we're pleased to share a guest post from the author, Susan Jane Bigelow, about characters from the first book, Broken.


cover of Broken by Susan Jane Bigelow


Broken/Silverwyng: An Introduction


Broken opens with a scene of a homeless woman in an alleyway, staring hopelessly up at the sky, dreaming of a time when she could fly.

She is our hero for this book, and it’s her story that drives the rest of the Extrahuman Union series. There are a lot of secrets about her that I definitely don’t want to give away, but I’d love to give you a quick introduction to who she is and why she does what she does. Read more... )

Giveaway! )

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