Apr. 11th, 2017 12:00 pm

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  • Mon, 18:00: RT @ananavarro: Landed safely in DC. Grateful to @AmericanAir flight crew for not giving me a bloody lip, knocking me unconscious & draggin…
  • Mon, 18:03: Jeezus. President Littlehands isn't going to attempt to pass policy. He's just going to bomb Middle East countries. Ass. #maddow #uniteblue
  • Mon, 18:40: RT @Karnythia: Surrendering your civil rights starts with logic like this kids. You should not expect to be beaten for refusing to voluntee…
  • Tue, 11:15: 📷 aaknopf: This past fall saw the publication of Marie Ponsot’s wide-ranging and full-hearted Collected... https://t.co/OrCh8pHsDm
  • Tue, 11:19: Today’s poem for National Poetry Month is really nice. I guess I just like the metered poems--sonnets,... https://t.co/mXOlSw4nxK
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Apr. 10th, 2017 12:00 pm

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Apr. 8th, 2017 12:00 pm

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Apr. 7th, 2017 12:00 pm

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Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6 by G. Willow Wilson

4 of 5 stars

This volume of Ms. Marvel is apparently G. Willow Wilson being dragged kicking and screaming into Marvel's misbegotten Civil War II. Everything I've heard about this "event" makes me more disinclined to read it. Having said that, Wilson manages to wrangle the beast into some semblance of coherency, by sticking as much as she could to her own characters and storyline. These include the issues bookending the Civil War sections, with Kamala meeting Spiderman Miles Morales at a Jersey City science fair (complete with kooky Marvel-universe physics) and Kamala returning to Pakistan to visit her family, regroup and figure out what she wants to do with her life. She makes some bad decisions in this volume by (temporarily) siding with Captain Marvel Carol Danvers and her misguided foray into "predictive justice," and the fallout for those decisions will presumably be the series' focus going forward.

This is a bit of a mess, and it's not really Wilson's fault, which is why I have given it four stars. She explores the moral question of Civil War II by bringing down to a very personal level for Kamala, and mostly succeeds. The basic conflict of Kamala's life--her family and personal identity versus her superhero identity--has never been more evident. There are several small, poignant character touches that save the story, and the closing issue in Pakistan is very good. I wish we could see Kamala visit Pakistan more often. (And meet up with the local superhero the Red Dagger, who I'm fairly confident is Kamala's "friend-in-law" Kareem.) The volume ends with Kamala returning to Jersey City with a renewed determination to protect her city and its people, and an acknowledgment of the awesome, crushing responsibility she must shoulder. Hopefully we will leave Civil War II behind in the next volume, and if we do, things have been set up for some impressive storylines in the future.
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Apr. 6th, 2017 12:00 pm

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Apr. 5th, 2017 12:00 pm

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  • Tue, 17:39: RT @JoyAnnReid: If you presume this will always be a free society; that freedom is self-regulating, you cannot possibly be paying attention.
  • Tue, 18:23: "The majority in this chamber has decided to steal a Supreme Court seat." Go, @JeffMerkley. Repeat that again and again. #maddow #uniteblue
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Apr. 3rd, 2017 12:00 pm

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Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks

5 of 5 stars

For me, worldbuilding is the most important part of a good SFF novel, followed closely by characterization. A rip-roaring story is also a good thing, but if the first two elements are done well enough, I can forgive a slower pace or a more deliberate plot. That doesn't happen with this book, happily: Cat Sparks has the first two in spades, and the fact that we also have a rip-roaring story is the cherry on top.

This is a far-future science fiction saga, in a post-apocalyptic, post-climate-change Australia. The seas have risen, massive areas have turned to desert, and the remnants of humanity are subsisting on the "Sand Road," where caravans of scavenged tech travel to shantytowns built on, and with, the ruins of more tech. There were great wars in the past, and armies of genetically-engineered cyborgs and "mechabeasts" (artificially intelligent, half biological and half metal tankers that ride the desert like schools of fish--or maybe killer whales--and play an important role in the story), and all sorts of hidden bunkers and underground factories and cities. There is also a forgotten, uploaded, batshit crazy general called the Lotus Blue, who, after untold centuries, is waking up.

There are a great many viewpoint characters here, which normally tends to put me off. I would rather concentrate on just a few people, or one. However, the author is firmly in control of her story at all times, and as I progressed through the chapters I could see the threads that would eventually braid everything together. Sparks pays attention to the need for development for each of these characters, and the two who eventually emerge as co-protagonists--Star the Sand Road girl who longs for a better life and Tully Grieve the con artist and thief, who gets dragged into a bad situation and finds it within himself to be a better human being--get satisfying arcs. The story for these particular people is more or less wrapped up, but the door is also left open for a sequel.

This is a damn good story, and I would love to see more tales in this universe. Recommended.
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Apr. 2nd, 2017 12:00 pm

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Apr. 1st, 2017 12:00 pm

My tweets

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  • Fri, 17:31: RT @ananavarro: When I read Trump declared April, "National Sexual Assault Awareness Month", I thought it was an April Fools joke. https://…
  • Fri, 18:40: "What did Russia find attractive about Donald Trump more than any other candidate?" All snark aside, THAT is a scary question. #maddow
  • Fri, 18:46: "You're clearly not putting America first if you're using Russian propaganda." Damn straight. #maddow #UniteBlue
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Mar. 31st, 2017 12:00 pm

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The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

5 of 5 stars

This is my first really good book of 2017. I pre-ordered it sight unseen, and it's quintessential Kameron Hurley: messy, gory and brutal, full of unlikable characters and hard choices.

The worldbuilding stands out with this one, however. The Legion is a swarm of living biological worldships orbiting an artificial sun, and the "humans" (and I use the term loosely, as they're clearly not Earth humans; furthermore, they've evolved in tandem with the worldships) in this book inhabit these worlds like intestinal bacteria, or maybe parasites. Our two protagonists, Zan and Jayd, are both unreliable narrators. Zan because she has amnesia, a groan-inducing trope that turns out to have very important plot reasons, and Jayd because she holds her cards so close to the vest, and is playing such a deeply layered game, the reader is never sure if Jayd herself knows what she is supposed to be doing. Zan and Jayd are part of an ongoing battle for control of the Legion, a generations-long war that is about to come to an end, one way or another. The worlds of the Legion are dying, and the fabled ship the Mokshi, which Zan has been told she repeatedly tries to board, repeatedly fails, and returns with her memories stripped from her each time, holds the key to the Legion's survival.

The book is divided into three sections. The middle section is the longest, and is the torturous story of Zan's journey through the guts of the worldship Katazyrna. This is where the worldbuilding gets down to the blood and guts and slime; there are some deeply disturbing things to be found here, and this part of the book is not for the fainthearted. Yet all this, no matter how nasty it is, is necessary. The people Zan meets on her journey to the upper levels of Katazyrna, and the choices she makes to get her little band to their destination, change Zan in profound ways. This character arc comes to its fruition in the final section of the book, when the truth of Zan's previous life, and her journey, is revealed. The final choice she makes tears herself free of the endless loop she had been trapped in, and sets her newly rebirthed worldship on the path free of the Legion.

This is supposedly a standalone book, but I hope Hurley writes more stories in this universe. I would love to know, at a minimum, how the Legion was built and who built it. Still, we do have this book, and it is fan-freaking-tastic.
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Mar. 30th, 2017 12:00 pm

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  • Wed, 17:47: RT @TeaPainUSA: GOP: We can't release Trump's tax returns, but here's your neighbor's browser history.
  • Wed, 18:00: I think future history books will cite the day Citizens United was decided as the day America died. #inners #uniteblue
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Mar. 29th, 2017 12:00 pm

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Mar. 28th, 2017 12:00 pm

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The Vision, Volume 1 by Tom   King

5 of 5 stars

This is one of the best graphic novels I have read this year. I'm not going to write a separate review of the second volume, Little Better Than a Beast, as the two tell one complete story and should be taken together. 
 
This is the story of the Vision, the "synthezoid" (Marvel's version of an android) created by the villain Ultron, and his attempts to live a normal human life with a family. Needless to say, this does not work out. I'm tempted to compare his journey to the story of Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but this is a far darker tale, with extensive quotations (and volume titles) from The Merchant of Venice to drive home the point that this is, and will be, a Shakespearean tragedy. I realized this about halfway through Vol. 1, but that didn't stop me from reading. This may be a tragedy, but it is a fantastic one, with explorations of what it means to be human, whether an artificial being can ever reach such heights, and whether, in the end, any of it matters. 
 
The structure is a little different in that there is an omniscient narrator, the identity of which is revealed at the end of the first volume. The Avengers don't come off too well in this story (well, we know Tony Stark is an asshole, but here he's rather more assholish than usual), and were I the Vision, I would tell them to leave me the fuck alone from here on out. Which is the beauty of this story, in Volume 1 and (especially) Volume 2: even though the Vision ends up doing some terrible things, the reader understands perfectly why he does them; and this reader, at least, considered whether or not she might do the exact same thing in the given circumstances. 
 
The art, by Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordan Bellaire, is very good, perfectly complementing the story. On the last page of Volume 2, there is a bit of (gasp) shall we say hope? for the future, a small glow of light in contrast to this story's darkness. This is a thoroughly adult graphic novel, and should not be missed.
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Mar. 27th, 2017 12:00 pm

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Mar. 26th, 2017 12:00 pm

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Mar. 25th, 2017 12:00 pm

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June 2017

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Words To Live By

Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins. ~Neil Gaiman

Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in. ~Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The road to hell is paved with adverbs. ~Stephen King

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read. ~Mark Twain

I feel free and strong. If I were not a reader of books I could not feel this way. ~Walter Tevis

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. ~George R.R. Martin

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