bouteillebleu: (Eye (rainbow))
Read "If On A Winter's Night A Traveller" a few months ago - it started out really interesting and then hit several of my no-stop-wait-goddamn-casual-thoughtless-anti-feminist-bollocks buttons and I ended up swearing at it once I put it down.

(I had a rant about it, I'll put it up at some point, either here or on a newer "here is where I am putting all the feminism stuff" blog.)

Was planning to read it through again to see if I had just imagined the main character being male, or if it would read fine with them being female-and-interested-in-women.

Turns out I didn't imagine it, they're identified as male on page 32. :( Ah well, exercise in creative rereading squished.

(The pages before that were kind of weird when read with that in mind; most of them were fine, and then the gender stereotypes demonstrated in the text but not referring to the main character would collide with things that the main character was suggested as possibly doing, such as the job they worked at.)
bouteillebleu: (Reading)
Note: this is your last chance to claim any of the books in http://bouteillebleu.livejournal.com/187771.html - I am going to take the unclaimed ones to charity shops this weekend.

But I do have some more books. As before, these are yours if you're interested - come June they will be going to charity shops.

Books are £1 each unless there's another price, all paperback unless otherwise mentioned. Can do delivery within Cambridge or to Maelstrom event 4; Odyssey event 3 might be possible via someone else but would have to arrange. Anything else, let me know and I'll see what we can work out.

Read more... )
bouteillebleu: (Reading)
Books I am getting rid of. Yours if you're interested - come May, the ones that are left will be going to local charity shops.

EDIT: Books that were not claimed have now all been donated to Mind on Burleigh Street in Cambridge, in case you were after them and would like to know where to acquire them. Edge magazines are still available, pending me figuring out how best to dispose of them.

Books listed below the cut. )
bouteillebleu: (Eye (rainbow))
So far, Through the Language Glass has been enlightening. (I am on page 126, nearly done with the first part.)

The author's account of studies of how languages deal with colour starts at least a century before Berlin and Kay, and points out that their work wasn't the first to come to its conclusions, just the better known one.

I giggled at the analogy involving the "Munsell Taste Test" - I'm not sure how funny this would be without a background in linguistics of colour.

It's also given me some references for recent (2009) research about language typology and its relation to speaker population size - I'm looking forward to catching up with this.

I'm not so fond of some of his rhetoric, for example on p. 125:

For decades, linguists have elevated the hollow slogan that 'all languages are equally complex' to a fundamental tenet of their discipline, zealously suppressing as heresy any suggestion that the complexity of any areas of grammar could reflect aspects of society. As a consequence, relatively little work has been done on the subject. But a flurry of publications from the last couple of years shows that more linguists are now daring to explore such connections.


but that's just because I assume that the differences in opinions and directions of research are not as emotionally charged as "zealously suppressing" and "heresy" would imply, and I am reading more of an analogy to plucky-hero-versus-monolithic-empire into "daring" than the author probably intended.

As for academic reading, it doesn't have footnotes but it does have a list at the back that follows up references in the text, and a bibliography. Yay. :)
bouteillebleu: (Default)
I've finished "The Difference Engine". At times, it gave me the same feeling I get from other William Gibson novels; that is, I don't quite understand them, and feel that I'm reading at an angle to them rather than reading the book itself. It also seemed to peter out rather than end. I think this is because the main character changed several times near the end, and a character from the start of the book (whose section I had enjoyed) returned briefly and did nothing of note.

Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] octopedingenue's quartennial (is that the right word for "four times a year"?) list of books she's read, I've made a similar list for this month.

February:
Dorothy L. Sayers - The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness, Strong Poison, Five Red Herrings, Have His Carcase, Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors, Gaudy Night, Busman's Honeymoon.
Trudi Canavan - The Magicians' Guild.
William Gibson, Bruce Sterling - The Difference Engine.
John Scalzi - Old Man's War.
Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre.
Brian Cruver - Enron: Anatomy of Greed.
Fruits Basket 12, Ouran High School Host Club 2-4, Mars 8-13.

Not sure what to do in March - I might reread something, since all of this month's books have been ones I've not read before.
bouteillebleu: (Default)
Found my driving license today, hidden away in a drawer, so now I have proper library membership. It's odd, though - after four and a half years spent mostly away from home, I'm not used to (a) getting novels from libraries rather than bookshops, or (b) libraries smaller than the UL. Cambridge has spoiled me, it seems, particularly the two years where I was in walking distance of at least four libraries.

Speaking of books, my second Amazon package arrived today, so I caught up on all the manga I ordered - Ouran High School Host Club 2-4, and Mars 8 and 9. Ouran is silly and light-hearted, with a group of young men hamming it up for the girls of their school, and a girl who's somehow ended up working with them. Mars, on the other hand... I've described it before as "shoujo with bite". It's a love story, yes, but one about two people who've been broken by what's happened to them in life. Secrets come out, hearts break and are repaired, and I hope they'll have a happy ending because by now, both of them deserve it.

Alas, I can't stay serious for long, as it suddenly struck me that if you crossed Ouran and Mars, you'd get Kodocha, another series I like, and have left at home because I can't fit another ten volumes of manga on the shelves, dash it all. Well, you'd probably have to combine Ouran and Mars and then inject liquid sugar into the result, just to get the correct amount of hyperness.

Finally, thinking back to yesterday's post, I forgot to mention the niggling idea for a fanfic that's caught me. After a friend enthused over Melanie Rawn's books, I bought a copy of The Mageborn Traitor from a charity shop, and many months later I finally read it. Two of the characters, Sarra and Collan, have a happy relationship, albeit one with interesting dynamics given the reversal of gender roles. I bought The Ruins of Ambrai, the first in the series of which "Traitor" is the second, and read it afterwards.

...For such a happy marriage, I definitely wasn't expecting them to dislike each other so much. And when it became clear that this would be a stereotypical "I hate you!" "I hate you too!" "You suck!" "So do you!" "...I love you!" "...So do I!" romance, as in the bad romance novels I've read summaries of, it suddenly made me realise why I thought Collan had chemistry with Sarra's younger sister, Cailet. Because there was more genuine affection there. In the second book, Rawn wrote a happy marriage between two strong personalities; but if I'd read the first to start with, I might not have read the second.

The fanfic idea isn't "what happens if he gets together with Cailet?". That wouldn't be simple, especially after the end of the first book and what Glenin did to them both, though working through that would be intriguing. But taking one of Collan's more impulsive actions and seeing what would happen if it went the other way, and what would happen to him, Sarra and Cailet at the end of "Ruins" and the start of "Traitor"... that would be interesting.

'Course, I haven't written fanfic since the Zelda stuff I wrote at school, unless you count a Pokemon fanfic involving two of my PokeMUSH characters. I think I'd fail at the "sound like the author" hurdle; then again, it's a challenge I've not faced yet. Developing my writing style, here I come!
bouteillebleu: (Chocolate)
Somehow I managed to get many things done this weekend, and yet nothing at all.

I finally signed up for the public library, but without my driving license I could only get an introductory membership, which lets me take out 2 books rather than 12. That was good, though; I found a copy of the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications, which I'm going to take to work on Monday and raid for one of my documentation templates.

The rest of the weekend has been laundry, reading Livejournal and watching various housemates play Metal Gear Solid 3. Actually, we've had various flavours of Metal Gear Solid this week, so I've now seen the endings of MGS1 and MGS2 (while not having played past the hangar in MGS1) and somehow started fangirling Revolver Ocelot. That's somewhat worrying. He is utterly ridiculous in MGS3, though his gunslinging is sort of cool. We also discovered that killing him in the first battle gets you a GAME OVER - TIME PARADOX. ^_^

I've been trying to read more of the many novels I have - an entire three-shelf bookcase, mostly unread - during my lunch breaks. It didn't help that I also borrowed some books from my parents, but I've now read through all of them - ten of Dorothy L. Sayer's Peter Wimsey novels. Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] copperbadge and [livejournal.com profile] ajhalluk, whose journals I read occasionally, for having recommended them.

I'm now reading The Difference Engine by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson. I very much like the setting - it's apparently the novel that defined steampunk, and I'm happy that it does alternate history so well - but the novel's moved away from the technology and into politics, which interests me far less. Once I've finished it, I might move onto Old Man's War by John Scalzi - his blog is interesting, and the pages I flipped through look to be good.

I should also donate Heresy by Anselm Audely to a charity shop at some point; on the other hand, I could keep it around as a reminder of how not to write a fantasy novel about religion. The world is made of six elements, and the god of fire is supposed to be the One True God; and yet the hero, who seems to be at least moderately intelligent, hasn't ever thought about whether people worship gods of the other five elements until his mother spells it out for him in words of one syllable.

I could try reading it to the end, of course, since I skipped to the part at the end to find more ridiculousness; however, life's probably too short for me to read bad books written by new writers. Bad books written intentionally badly by experts, however, I love. Atlanta Nights is a classic.

Apart from books, my main achievement for this week will hopefully be pasting three magazine scans together to create one double-page spread, then scanlating it. That is, if I force myself to sit down with Photoshop rather than disappearing to eat cake with my housemates...

...which I think I'll go and do now. ^_^
bouteillebleu: (France France Revolution)
I have come to realise that the Da Vinci Code would have been much better had it been written under the Infernokrusher Manifesto. Demons and Angels at least went some way towards this, when SPOILER ), but DVC doesn't have nearly enough explosions. Or, indeed, any.

Also, Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde improves on the first of his Thursday Next books, and has made me buy the third and fourth books, because it ends on something of a cliffhanger. I also have whole shelves of impulse buys from Oxfam and G&P that I ought to have a look at - who knows, some of them might be good, and the ones that aren't I can donate back once more.

As for real life matters - well, I've got a three-day trial in July, and after that I shall hopefully be working at a computer game company. (Online games, rather than for consoles.) Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] thistle_chaser, for letting me include those MUSH samples - they were impressed that I'd done something like this before.
bouteillebleu: (Demand has a bad day // Black Lady)
One of the things that puts me off in fiction is when the writer drops everything to describe what their main character looks like. Now, I understand that it's difficult to make it through an entire novel without giving any hint of what the character looks like, so I can understand mentioning what they're wearing (because they might be dressed inappropriately for their station or the place where we first see them), or even their facial features (as they could identify siblings). But this is just stupid. Granted, it's not quite "main character looks in a mirror as if she'd never seen herself before", but it's almost as ridiculous.

The guard admired Susan as she began her walk down the cement causeway. He noticed that her strong hazel eyes seemed distant today, but her cheeks had a flushed freshness, and her shoulder-length, auburn hair looked newly blown dry. Trailing her was the faint scent of Johnson's Baby Powder. His eyes fell the length of her slender torso - to her white blouse with the bra barely visible beneath, to her knee-length khaki skirt, and finally to her legs... Susan Fletcher's legs.

Hard to imagine they support a 170 IQ, he mused to himself.


At least mirrors don't do convenient intelligence tests.
bouteillebleu: (Reading)
Finished reading Sabriel yesterday, and I'm now trying to figure out how to combine it with the last children's/young adult book I read, Mortal Engines. Something involving the Charter Magic and the forehead marks from Sabriel, combined with the forehead marks of various job types from Mortal Engines; and the Charter Stones powering mobile cities, either by being mined from a dangerous place or by the cities having to visit them to recharge. The Charter Magic system in Sabriel also fascinates me on its own, so I'm going to play around to see if I can come up with something vaguely similar.

I didn't enjoy the books quite as much as the people giving them rave reviews, but I'd probably give them both four out of five for interesting setting and reasonable character motivation, so I can see why someone who's less fussy about their fantasy fiction would give them a full five out of five. And I am fussy, believe me, so it's not that they're bad books. It's just that several months of exposure to [livejournal.com profile] limyaael's rants on fantasy fiction have led to me noticing the flaws in everything I read. :)

Still, Sabriel seemed to be reasonably good, and did have some very interesting ideas, particularly in the magic system (the way necromancy was done was awesome). So I'll be getting the sequel(s) from Amazon at some point.

And finally, here is honestly the last rant you will hear from me on Mythago Wood: because I wish it had been more interesting. )

Other than those books, I've recently acquired the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, and I've got Tigana and the Fianovar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay to have a look at. I seem to be pretty much sorted for fantasy fiction at the moment, but if anyone has a suggestion for something else I should read, do comment to give me a recommendation.
bouteillebleu: (Reading)
Have read The Eyre Affair (rather than do any work on essays). Cut for mentions of a few plot details. )

I may consider looking for the next book at one of my local libraries, but I don't think I'll be buying it. Even if it does feature a library with all the books ever written (and the unfinished first drafts of them, and the previous versions). Heck, if I want to read that, I have a third novel idea in the works...

Reading another one of those rants on writing fantasy has also reminded me of my idea of a novel set in Heian-era Japan. Not entirely sure what I'd do with the setting, though, so it'll remain just an idea for now. (And I still haven't finished reading Genji. In fact, I've barely started because it takes so long and I get bored after about a chapter. Does he have nothing better to do than visit various places, romance new girls and find new ways to discard them?)

Finally, some wise words from #cucas:

<Kyo> I should plan my stories before writing them
<Kyo> 200 words in, and I can't remember what's supposed to happen
<TB|UFOwooooooooo> Two doors walk through the main character carrying a gun?
bouteillebleu: (Default)
I finished reading Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them last night. It's far more terrifying than, say, Intellectual Impostures was, because the latter isn't quite as dangerous. Academic dishonesty is to be condemned, yes, and it's certainly true that there are people (some of them quite well known and respected in their fields, such as (the late) Jacques Derrida and Jean Baudrillard) who have written books with passages that make almost no sense whatsoever.

But they're not running one of the most powerful countries in the world.

On a much lighter note, this animation is highly amusing. :)
bouteillebleu: (Default)
I bought a few books in Oxfam today. I'd gone back to look at the classics shelf one last time, and there was a young man sitting on the stool next to it looking at the books. He turned his head, smiled, and whispered, "I love old books."

I thought about this on the way back home. I like books, but I wouldn't say I love them. And as for old books - they have a certain frailty about them, an aura of "don't touch me" that I don't get from new paperbacks. (Old paperbacks don't really count as "old books" - it's a surprise if they last longer than 50 years.)

Books are, to me, more important for what they contain than what they look like. I've almost filled my shelves here in college with books of all shapes and sizes - some of them brightly coloured paperbacks, others thick textbooks, and still others small, curious-looking hardbacks. Together, they don't look particular pretty or impressive. In fact, the whole effect looks somewhat messy. And, to be honest, I haven't read nearly as many of them as I'd like. I mean to read them, which is why I buy them, but I often forget. What they give is possibility - every new book has the promise of of new knowledge, new ideas, new possibilities to open my mind to.

Last year's NaNoWriMo entry had a theme of books and libraries as part of Daniel and Livia's story (particularly Livia's). This year, one of the underlying themes is that of possibility and probability.

Or it might be, possibly. It all depends on where the story goes...
bouteillebleu: (Kirika and tea // Noir)
Another order from Amazon arrived today, and I got through a new Tamora Pierce book this evening - Trickster's Choice, only with the rather odd cover that Scholastic UK seem to be inflicting on their new editions of her books. For anyone who's read anything by Pierce before, it's quite similar to the other stories she's told - a girl, chosen by the gods, does her best to find her place in life and deal with events that will affect the course of her country's history.

Thoughts on Trickster's Choice - contains spoilers for characters, though not for the end of the book. )

The book ends on a suitably interesting note - some stuff has been resolved, but not all, and not nearly enough to keep you from wanting to read the second book. Which I got in the same Amazon order, so tomorrow I'll be reading Trickster's Queen to finish off the story (the cover for my copy is the same as the US... which makes sense, because it apparently is a US copy).

(Amazon UK has been having problems finding another book I'm looking for, Le Ton Beau de Marot, and so it'll be back to looking in Cambridge bookshops for me. Not the second-hand ones, though. I have almost sold my soul to the Oxfam bookshop with the amount I've bought in there, and must stay away from temptation.)

Anyway, tomorrow is Freshers' Fair here in Cambridge, so I'll be sitting at a society stall for four hours or so, exhorting innocent young freshers to come along to our meetings and watch anime, and trying to make sure they don't spill anything on my laptop as we show off random cool-looking clips. (Currently Hellsing, Last Exile and the Read Or Die OVA.) At least if we get some free moments I can get a little writing done. :)
bouteillebleu: (Default)
As I read and watch certain books and TV series, sometimes there are things that are part of the story but don't get included in the book or TV show, that I think it would be fun to read fanfiction about.

That does sound like a rather long and convoluted way of saying "Here are some ideas for fanfics I'd like to read", doesn't it? In that case, to avoid further delays, here's the list.

List here. )

It's true that the list's quite short, with only three series and one fic idea for each. I would include Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time prequels and bits set during the seven-year gap in the game, but I started writing things for both of those - so even though I haven't worked on them for ages, there's not much point in looking for stuff other people have written if I want to write it myself. And I'm sure there are other fanfics I'd like to read, but these are the ideas that stand out - the ones I'd like to see because it would fill in what I see as a gap in the series or book.

In summary, the ideas are: a decent ending for ReBoot; a reason why Neo Queen Serenity is calm, mature and nothing like she was as a teenager; and the conversation that ended up with Raoul and Buri in bed together. If anyone knows of good fanfics written around these premises, please let me know.
bouteillebleu: (Default)
This would be a short post urging people to go and read a webcomic called Strange Daze, but although I've been reading through the old strips I downloaded they're almost a year out of date by now. I believe I stopped reading when one of the main characters got into such a long soliloquy about her past that the three-times-a-week comic strips had to be supplemented by thousand-word-or-so screeds of text on the days when comic strips weren't posted. Impressive detail, perhaps, but rather boring to read when there was no action going on. Still, as I said, that's almost a year ago now, and thus there should be lots of stuff to read. If, of course, the webcomic's survived for that long.

The comic itself is a fairly interesting fantasy one - well, it's mostly an amalgamation of pretty much all the conspiracy theories that have been around for a while, a whole load of supernatural stuff which seems to be organised similarly to the World of Darkness, and lots of funky messing with reality. Some of the longer plot arcs mean that sometimes strips end without a punchline (which is fair, as I understand it's hard to write something with both an overarching plot and amusing lines to end each strip on), but that's more than made up for by some of the stand-alone strips. Particularly this one.

Hmm. So it did turn out to be an advertisment for Strange Daze after all. And thankfully, it turns out that it has survived.

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