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[personal profile] bookgazing
How to tell your fake boyfriend you would like to become a robot:

1. Tell him, "I would like to be a robot." You can also say, "I am really a robot, not a female-bodied biological machine," because that is closer to the truth.

2. Do not tell him anything. If you do, you will also have to admit that you think about ways to hurt yourself so you have an excuse to replace body parts with machine parts.

3. Besides, insurance is unlikely to cover your transition into a robot.


A Merc. Rustard's "How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps" reminded me strongly of last year's Hugo contender "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love". Charming, quirky, artfully secretive, and with a similar melancholic emotional pull to Rachel Swirsky's story, "How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps" is for everyone who enjoys literature, robots, and crying in inappropriate places.

Read more... )

"How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps" is available for free at Sciegentasy magazine.

Other Reviews

Susan Hated Literature
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
I've been driving everyone around me up the wall with my complicated reactions to City of Stairs, a fantasy novel that dropped last September. I'm still a little angry about it, but less so now that I have some distance from my immediate reaction of "NO!!!", followed by ugly crying, followed by fuming for hours. When I meet a story that's so wonderful, and I love all the characters, the adventure is fun, the setting is fascinating, and there's a rich sense of history to the world, I want it to be perfect so I can recommend it without reservation. This is another good example of what happens when a book you love just hauls off and socks you in the jaw. Not maliciously, but as we all know, we don't read stories in a vacuum!

City of Stairs is doing so many things right that I'm crushed over the fact that I came away from the book so conflicted. I went through this with God's War by Kameron Hurley, too, where I had to leave the book alone for awhile because I was just so utterly disappointed that everything I loved also existed with one story element that made me so unhappy. Everything we love is problematic, the saying goes, so what's the right balance? What do we do with otherwise excellent books that repeat troubling patterns? Because obviously burning them in a pile while crying bitterly isn't cost effective or a good way to not smell like dead, burned books. Also, you just burned all those other parts you loved. Crap.

cover and blurb )

Shara Thivani, who comes to Bulikov with her secretary, Sigrud, to investigate the murder of historian Efrem Pangyui, is so wonderful. I loved her immediately after her first scene with her Aunt Vinya, a politician of note in Shara's home country of Saypur. She's intelligent and clever, but a little bit arrogant and condescending, too. In a scene very early on she talks about jingoism and is rather holier-than-thou about it, which is fascinating as the story that follows dismantles her self-satisfaction over being better than the people who engage in the sort of overt patriotism versus her own, more shadowy version. She's compassionate and kind, but she has important things to learn about the policies she's been enforcing, and it's a treat to go along with her as she unravels the mystery of what's happening in Bulikov and on the Continent itself. Her companion, Sigrud, is interesting on an interpersonal level because how are these people, of all the people in the world, partners? But he's also delightful — he got some of the best action sequences. There's multiple professional and personal relationships here between women like Mulaghesh and Vinya, as well, which is so wonderful. The top Saypuri leaders we get to know are all women, which was extremely satisfying. If they cut each other down or challenged each other, it wasn't because they were women, it was because they were politicians.

But to me the heart of the novel is about history — both personal and national — and how history can shape so much of what we do and who we are, and what the consequences are if we learn new things about history and misuse that information. What kind of people do we become when we learn new truths or have what we think we knew challenged? We often have a choice, and that choice has far-reaching consequences much longer and more influential than we can see. What's more important: the truth or our egos? People or power?

City of Stairs is lively in its writing, canny with its revelations, and boasts a crunchy critique about colonialism that unfolds until the very end, all wrapped up in an intriguing spy narrative package. Even in dark moments there is hope, friendship, love, and compassion. I enjoyed it so much. A summary:

PEOPLE IN POWER: Shara, don't do it.
SHARA: I did it.

and

SHARA: Vohannes, no.
VOHANNES: Vohannes YES.

and

BAD GUYS: *terrible actions*
SIGRUD: *silent decision to beat some guys down*
SHARA: Oh, not again...

But I have some caveats. Although, when don't I? 10,000 points to the person who can name the last book I didn't have caveats over. Character spoilers beyond this point. )

Special Thanks!


To Sunil ([twitter.com profile] ghostwritingcow) for assuring me I wasn't a jerk, and providing excellent edits. ♥

Other Reviews )
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[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] bookgazing
Once, upon a lime, there was a frog.

This frog was the most handsome in all the land, the only frog able to balance his thin green body upon the fat round fruits that fell from Salima Sultan Begum's handsome lime trees. He pressed his candy-yellow toes firmly into the green skins and rolled to and fro and fro and to, all the while chirruping, because the empress also loved the sounds of her garden. This he knew as he was a gentleman frog, and it was important to know the likes and dislikes of one's empress. He, being the only frog, put on a certain show.


Here we are - only the second Short Business post of 2015 - and I've already got to talk about I don't quite get a short story. I've read E. Catherine Tobler's "Once, Upon a Lime" twice now, and I'm still not really clear what it means to give to the reader and what it expects back. Oh well, I suppose there's nothing for it but to forge on and hope someone pops up in the comments with a bit more knowledge than me.

Read more... )

Once, Upon a Lime is available for free at Strange Horizons.

Supplementary Materials
Podcast: "Once, Upon a Lime" read by Anaea Lay

Other Reviews
Tangent Online
Locus
Yours?
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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:


  • Agent Carter — gifset (1)
  • Captain America — art (1), vid (1), meta (1)
  • Hawkeye — cosplay (1)
  • Marvel — art (1)
  • MCU — art (1)
  • Poison Ivy — cosplay (1)
  • Scott & Bailey — fic (1)
  • Taylor Swift — art (1)
  • Teen Wolf — art (2)
  • The 100 — fic (1)
  • The Bletchley Circle — fic (1)


On to the recs! )
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[personal profile] bookgazing
profile of a grey female figure carrying a grey bow, her eyes are covered by a skein of golden threads which trail to the edge of the image's border


A new year and a new crop of SFF short stories are eligible for The Hugo Awards! Three months before nominations close, hundreds of eligible stories… Yep that's definitely excitement you can sense, not panic.

Last year, I started our Short Business feature because I wanted to learn more about short SFF fiction in the run up to the Hugo voting period. I've always wanted to spend more time reading short fiction, but like Renay, I find short fiction difficult to navigate alone. I wanted to see if blogging about short stories could motivate me to push through the confusing parts and help me get a better grasp on the short form. And it started to work - after starting the feature I found I could read a confusing short story without falling into a swirling vortex of personal doubt and I could make some sort of sense of what I was reading.

More and more short fiction is being published online, and I have access to a gigantic amount of stories that tweak my interests. It's a little overwhelming, but I'm going to continue trying to work short fiction out with my words. So, before Hugo nominations close in March, I plan to read some of the stories our friends and readers have added to our Hugo spreadsheet.

I'm starting with Marie Brennan's "Daughter of Necessity" - a retelling of Penelope's quest to vanquish her unwanted suitors. I love retellings of Ancient Greek stories so "Daughter of Necessity" seemed like the perfect way to kick off Short Business in the New Year, especially as Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons is on my (long) list of highly anticipated novels.

By day she crafts; by night she unmakes. Surely somewhere, in all the myriad crossings of the threads, there is a future in which all will be well. Marie Brennan offers an intriguing new spin on a classic tale.


Read more... )

"Daughter of Necessity" is available for free at Tor.com.

Other Reviews

io9
Tangent
Susan Hated Literature
Yours?
helloladies: group shot of three My Little Pony's (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
At Lady Business HQ, we thrive on recommendations from friends and strangers alike. As Hugo award season gears up, it's especially helpful so we can collect recommendations and horde them like media dragons (pony dragons? dragon ponies?). Read more... )
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[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] helloladies
Today we're excited to welcome Ira to Lady Business to talk about Dragon Age: Inquisition! Ira is a kickass illustrator, writer, and web developer who gained their powers by consuming the bones of their enemies. They make art, comics, and writing when they are not distracted by way too many video games. You can find more of Ira's work at their tumblr.





So I suppose it's time to talk about Dragon Age: Inquisition! In the last 2-3 months I bulldozed my way through the entire DA game series, have arrived at the end of DAI, and boy howdy, I have opinions. Let's have a spoiler-free summary up here first, with spoilery details below the cut. Overall I feel like Bioware tried to add a lot of grey, particularly to issues they'd seen people getting pretty black-and-white over, and really overcorrected with the grey.
The Dragon at Emprise Du Lion

Grey for everyone!
(Image credit: Dragon Age Wiki)

Many thanks to [personal profile] owlmoose for helping me figure out some of what was bothering me and playing editor. She may not agree with all I say, but helped shape the saying.

Things I liked!
  • Cassandra Pentaghast. She is nearly perfect as a character, imperfections and all. She's determined, loyal, iron-willed, unwavering, and sees the faults in the systems she's part of. If only my lady Inquisitor could have romanced her! But overall? This is one part of DAI that gets no [disgusted noise] from me.

  • Josephine was a treat, and I appreciate the alternate approach she represents; I often find diplomatic or third-option solutions far more interesting and satisfying. Her romance is adorable, her character is great, and I just wish we weren't such a terribly, terribly underutilized gem.

  • Cullen grew a lot -- good work, buddy. Shame you're straight too.

  • It was great to see Morrigan again, with how she's matured and changed.

  • The game is beautiful and huge -- overwhelmingly so much of the time, but I think that has more to do with my sensory overload threshold than anything else. Whenever I was up to handling it, the scale and scenery were breathtaking.

  • DAI does... some... amount of work to correct some of the flaws in its inherently misogynistic worldbuilding. There are more and more varied women, gender is made less an issue of, and overall the treatment of women is improving.

  • Krem is fucking great and I will hear no words against him and his awesomeness.

  • Dagna! Scout Harding! Dwarf ladies!

Things that rubbed me a wee bit the wrong way
  • Oppression as a theme is treated with none of the care and gravity it or Bioware's own worldbuilding deserve. The mage-templar conflict is papered over with a bit too much "both sides are just as bad" hand-waving, and the elves, POC-coded as they are, are treated terribly by the narrative, painted as foolish and participants in their own demise and ongoing oppression.

  • There's a lot of tricky-to-icky racial subtext in the game, from Morrigan's blatant elfsplaining to the first Black playable female character being classist and supportive of oppressive regimes to a POC party member being a slavery apologist.

  • GSM people continue to be majority outcast or problematic in some way while straight people continue to be majority upstanding folk. The only to-date canonical gay companion romance is written deliberately as a questionable idea. One of the gay characters gets an arc about how very tragically gay and outcast they are.

  • Most returning or past characters and factions are treated poorly by the narrative. The Grey Wardens got some unbelievably bad writing, right down to a moustache-twirling villain. Characters who would have been thematically appropriate to return, such as Merrill, didn't, while characters who did show up are poorly used and executed, written into corners by worldstates.

  • The large-scale writing is poor. The antagonists were wildly uneven, culminating with Corypheus himself who, drop dead deeply satisfyingly awesome as his voice was, amounted to little more than a by-the-numbers, suitable-for-mass-consumption, uncomplicated Big Bad. The overall plot is thin and poorly tied together.

  • The Inquisitor themselves is handed some dialogue options that are homophobic and transphobic at worst, ignorant and clumsy at best. Why?

Let's just dive right in to the dirty stuff, right? SPOILERS AHOY.

Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
2014 Media in Review


Obligatory statement about how mind-boggling it is that 2014 is over goes here. I know! I blame Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I lost so many (highly enjoyable) months to that fandom. This might suggest I'm done with it, but alas for everyone else who wants me to go back to having things to say besides gross sobbing over Bucky Barnes: I will probably be in this mess….forever...as I have just remembered Marvel released all our future dates as well as announced our wedding for five years down the road. I'm so sorry.

Favorite Films & Television )

Fanfiction )

Fanart )

Fanvids )

Books )

Supplemental Material )
helloladies: group shot of three My Little Pony's (Default)
[personal profile] helloladies
When Lady Business was launched in 2011, one of our goals was to challenge ourselves to read more widely in areas that interested us. Over the years, our interests have shifted and and expanded, but the core of our desire to talk about a diverse range of media has stayed central to our mission, especially in regards to our book coverage. We're determined to ensure that our reading material, and thus, the reviews we produce, are coming from a wide array of people. With that in mind, and because we're interested in looking at data and trends, we examined our book review and author coverage for 2014. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
2014 has made it all too easy for us to get a little down at Lady Business HQ and forget just how much we've accomplished in our own corner of blog space. Today we're going to shake it off, beat the little hater & celebrate all the special events we've been part of and all the projects we've begun, kept going and completed this year. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
As 2015 approaches, we, like many others, are looking ahead with excitement to the amazing stories that will soon be available for us to jam into our brains. As anticipated 2015 book lists begin to debut across the Internet, we wanted to get in on the action, too, and take part in the celebration. But our goals at Lady Business continue to be aimed at creating diverse reading experiences for ourselves, and so for our own anticipated book lists we found 51 titles we're majorly excited about from the widest array of authors possible. Some authors we know, and others we'll just be reading for the first time, but all these books sound amazing, and we can't wait to meet them!

What books are on your 2015 list? We'd love to hear from you about books you're excited to read coming out next year. Feel free to lob literary bombs at our comments since we just ruined any resolution you may have had about not adding any more books to your reading list (sorry we're not sorry) and potentially overloading your computers (this post is stuffed full of awesome).

text: you guys might as well be a pile of leaves because you're about to get blown away
Read more... )

Other Lists of Anticipation )
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[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] helloladies
cover of Rosemary and Rue


October "Toby" Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas...

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening's killer. (source)


Spoilers.

Jodie: Can I just say I think we are pretty much geniuses for having read the first October Daye book in October. *fistbump* Acing this review already.

Renay: We're awesome. Does this also mean we need to read and review one of these a month until we catch up? We could do it, because the series is seriously that long. We'd be good until the ninth book, which comes out in 2015. I don't know how I keep letting myself get yanked into super long series. I can definitely pin this one on you, though! Cue the piling on of literary guilt. ;) Read more... )
helloladies: group shot of three My Little Pony's (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. In our final 2014 installment of Fanwork Recs, Jodie looks back at her favorite vids produced this year and Renay attempts to clear her to-rec file to prepare for incoming holiday exchanges while she desperately tries to figure out what she loved most.


Recommendations included:
  • Alien — art (1)
  • Borgen — vid (1)
  • Call the Midwife — vid (1)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier — art (2), vid (1)
  • Final Fantasy VIII — art (1)
  • Final Fantasy X — art (1)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy — fic (1)
  • The Hunger Games — vid (1)
  • MCU — fic (3), art (6), vid (1)
  • The Musketeers — vid (1)
  • The 100 — vid (1)
  • Pacific Rim — vid (1)
  • Peaky Blinders — vids (2)
  • Person of Interest — vid (1)
  • The Raven Cycle — vid (1)


On to the recs! )
helloladies: group shot of three My Little Pony's (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] helloladies
Illustration by Wesley Allsbrook showing Essie with her purple braid wearing a suit and carrying a gun

It is probably best to for us to embrace subjectivity, to withhold judgement. Let us say that the entity believing himself to be Matthew Corley feels that he regained consciousness while reading an article in the newspaper about the computer replication of personalities of the dead. He believes that it is 1994, the year of his death, that he regained consciousness after a brief nap, and that the article he was reading is nonsense. All of these beliefs are wrong.
(...)
“It’s 2064,” Essie says. “You’re a simulation of yourself. I am your biographer.”

Ana: "Sleeper" by Jo Walton is a story that presents us not only with a technologicaly advanced world where it's possible to create a AI consciousness based on your understanding of a historical figure, but also a world where the stark economic inequalities we're familiar with today have been greatly magnified. The dystopian nature of this world becomes increasingly obvious as the story progresses, thanks to passages such as this:
She finds it hard to imagine the space Matthew had, the luxury. Only the rich live like that now. Essie is thirty-five, and has student debt that she may never pay off. She cannot imagine being able to buy a house, marry, have a child. She knows Matthew wasn’t considered rich, but it was a different world.

Later on, Essie tells the simulation of Matthew that,
“The class system needs to come down again. You didn’t bring it down far enough, and it went back up. The corporations and the rich own everything. We need all the things you had—unions, and free education, and paid holidays, and a health service. And very few people know about them and fewer care.”

This is not new territory for Jo Walton. Although at first glance this story is very different from the Small Change trilogy, they also have quite a few things in common. One looks towards the future and another towards an alternate past; one is science fiction and the other alternative history interlaced with crime — but all the same, the themes and political concerns at the heart of the two works are closely linked. I wanted to start by asking you what you thought of the world depicted in "Sleeper". Do you think that despite its brevity the story manages to set up a vivid picture of the threats of uncontrolled capitalism?
Read more... )

You can read "Sleeper" for free at Tor.com.
helloladies: group shot of three My Little Pony's (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:
  • Final Fantasy X — art (1)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy — cosplay (1), art (1)
  • Harry Potter — fancast (1), art (2)
  • I Ship It — art (1)
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe — vid (1)
  • The Mindy Project — art (1)
  • Pacific Rim — cosplay (1)
  • The Raven Cycle — art (1)
  • Sailor Moon — art (1)


On to the recs! )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
cover of Stranger


Many generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, "the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. "Las Anclas" now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble. (source)


Friends, I am conflicted about this book.

(Now I'm wondering how many of my book posts start like that. Probably a ton.) Read more... )

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Renay is a long time member of slash fandom and nerdfighteria who stumbled into book blogging by accident and decided she liked arguing with herself at length and in capslock — it was all downhill from there. more? » about.me icon twitter icon pinboard icon tumblr icon

Ana is a reader who’s been blogging about books since early 2007. After several abandoned career paths, she decided to become a librarian and currently works for a large public library system. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon last.fm icon

By day Jodie is one of those evil marketers you're always hearing about. In fact she’s an evil British marketer and probably the inspiration for the next Bond villain. more? » tumblr icon last.fm icon

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