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herdivineshadow

December 2016

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roadrunnertwice: Scott fends off Matthew Patel's attack. (ScottPilgrim.Scott - Reversal!)
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice

V.E. Schwab — A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, and A Conjuring of Light

March 6, March ??, and July 10

I plan to head directly into the weeds on this review, but I'll make a brief pit-stop at concision before I hit the road: I definitely recommend the first book of this series. It's fast, bold, and slick — just weird enough to grab your attention (a stacked-worlds cosmology where the only constant is London? What??), and more than competent enough to hold on to it. I'm more ambivalent about the other two books, but A Darker Shade of Magic actually stands alone pretty well anyhow.

Speaking of which, HEY, let's talk about trilogies! There are several different ways to put three book-sized objects in a row, and this series uses what I think might be the worst. I don't have a proper name for it (duologies behaving badly? party in the front, sweatshop in the back?), but it's that same thing Garth Nix did with Sabriel and Lirael/Abhorsen:

  • Start with one standalone, book-shaped book, with tight plotting and characterization and some deep-but-restrained worldbuilding.
  • Follow it with a much larger and more sprawling sequel, arbitrarily split into two volumes. (Book 2 usually ends on a cliffhanger of some kind.)

Recognize it? Contrast with the "three book-shaped books" trilogy or the "one continuous scroll" trilogy, both of which work better.

Part of the problem is just setting up an expectation of book-shaped books and then flubbing it. But I'm also starting to think that two books out of a trilogy is a uniquely awkward and unbalanced story unit, and should be avoided categorically. In all the examples I can think of, the sprawly second story has major plot and pacing issues that didn't afflict the first book and could only be addressed with major story surgery.

In this case, most of book 2 is dedicated to a shōnen manga tournament plot. This is a time-tested device that works really well in a long-running combat-focused comic, because it provides a lower-stakes pause in the main action (during which you can cut to machinations in the background as needed), it's guaranteed to take up a good long chunk of serialized time, and it's a good way to demonstrate how various characters have progressed or not progressed, especially because it lets you pit allies against each other without having to completely deform the story.

But tournaments usually work so well because they take up like an eighth or a tenth of a tremendously long comic. This one is like a quarter of the damn trilogy, and while yes, it's cool to see how badass Lila is now, it basically shoots the pacing all to hell.

Also affecting the pacing: The villain of the second story seems to spend an inordinate amount of time just twiddling his thumbs out in the distance. And he's just a lot less interesting than the confluence of villainies in the first book! He kind of sucks, tbh. (Note that I had this same beef with Lirael/Abhorsen. Is this a weird secondary effect of the structure?)

I had some other plot beefs. There's a death in book 3 that just kind of comes from someone acting out of character for no good reason, plus a few other things... not gonna go super deep into this, it just felt like things generally got a little sloppy.

Finally, there's a central character unironically named "Alucard," even though the only proper use of that name is to tell the reader with a big fat wink that this is Dracula's depressed son. (This story has nothing to do with Draculas, and IDEK how Schwab managed to not realize what she was doing there. Are there truly people who Don't Castlevania?? [yes])

IDK. I did enjoy the second book quite a bit, but it's not a complete unit, and I got bored partway through book three and just put it down for several months to read other things. There's a lot of good stuff in there, but it's flawed and uneven compared to book 1's mirror-bright polish.

Martha Wells — The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red

May 7

Yay, new Martha Wells! Spoiler, I liked it.

This had a more-than-passing resemblance to her short-lived Emilie series — it's more stripped-down than a lot of her other books, with more straightforward plotting and a more parsimonious approach to characterization for the supporting cast (not flat, but with most of the depth gestured rather than rendered, if that makes sense). It's an old-fashioned sort of feel, and one that suits both series' niches (Emilie was a deliberately retro pre-"YA" subgenre of youth lit, and Murderbot is a novella, which is sort of a coelacanth format just now coming out of a long hibernation).

Anyway, this is short and enjoyable and cheap (in its native ebook form, at least; the "tor.com" imprint has been publishing pretty nice tpbs of their novellas, but they're so overpriced that I get the impression we're not actually meant to buy them), and you should check it out.

Re: recent comments about how to structure a series: this is definitely the start of a larger story (note the beautiful last-minute left turn to avoid "happy ending"), but it's nicely contained, setting the stage for a next bit without any cliff-dangling. Which, again, I always greatly appreciate.

Jason Turner — Fir Valley (comics)

July 13

I liked this! It used this really aggressive POV shifting to get kind of a cubist every-angle-at-once view of the town of Fir Valley. And the town felt pretty legit; idk, I was reading this at the same time as Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being, and they both do interesting things with the, like, sensation of being in the Pacific Northwest.

Tonally, this was all over the place in a way I kind of loved. Gruesome murder, young people making music, ghostly conspirators with animal heads, drunken idiocy, all kinds of stuff in here, and all presented with this kind of goofy big-hearted cheer? Turner has cited Twin Peaks as an influence here, and I can definitely see it. He isn't following Lynch's aesthetic, but the method seems familiar.

Anna-Marie McLemore — When the Moon Was Ours

June 11

I liked this, but I don't really feel like talking about it. It was good.

roadrunnertwice: Yoshimori from Kekkaishi, with his beverage of choice. (Kekkaishi.Yoshimori - Coffee milk)
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice

Eleanor Davis — How to be Happy

April 10

This is a collection of Davis' short comics, which are all over the place in style, length, and media. Davis is a really good cartoonist, and her more out-there art styles (the spindle-legged huge-torso look) are legit unique — the sort of thing that shouldn't work nearly as well as it does.

I liked these shorts; they felt like they were holding me at arm's length a lot of the time, but they did unexpected stuff and followed through on their swing. And Davis' cartooning is real engaging even when you're not really feeling a given story.

Books I stopped reading: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter — The Long Earth

April 2X

I stopped reading this about a third of the way through, because it lacked all of the things I'm looking for when I pick up a Terry Pratchett book.

John Darnielle — Universal Harvester

June 24

To be honest, I'm still trying to figure out what I think of this one. I was very much not satisfied at the end, and I'm trying to decide how much of that was the whole point, and how much of it was JD's reach exceeding his grasp this time. I might end up not deciding.

This had certain rewards anyway, despite the way it trailed off in the back third or so. There's this kind of roaring hollowness behind every paragraph that I feel really fuckin' nails why I find rural and small-town America scary, and not jump-scare scary but existential dread scary. JD was onto something here, and it's pretty compelling for a while. But it seems like an unfinished thought, and I put the book down with the sensation that someone had walked out of the room in the middle of a sentence and was not going to come back.

Again, it's possible that was the point.

Italo Calvino — Invisible Cities

May 9

Whoa, this was great! Not quite a novel, not quite short stories, more just an expanding fabric of disorienting oddness. A glitchville sort of vibe that reminded me of the last section of Kalpa Imperial, or maybe (faintly?) of Vellum? I feel like I can't quite dig up the thing it reminds me most of, which is very on-brand for this, now that I think of it.

Lars Brown — North World, vol. 1 (comics)

July 18

This had its charms, but maybe not enough of them. I don't feel the need to read more of it.

It feels like it belongs to a very very particular era — that bit in the late '00s, where mixing elements of classic video game settings with more prosaic character drama was having a moment? Scott Pilgrim kind of kicked it off and did it best, but there were a lot of others; some were blatantly following the trend, but I feel like a whole bunch of them were legit convergent evolution. Stories their authors wanted to do anyway, and which happened to be ready to go when the commercial moment arrived. Like, old games are responsible for a lot of the foundational metaphors by which my generation understands life, and of course we're going to work through that in our art.

Anyway, what I really liked about this comic were the settings — the city streets and markets and shops and houses and apartments. Brown's approach went something like: assume this big dumbass JRPG world, then focus on what people actually do from hour to hour and try to make everything feel really lived-in. It was great, a cool mix of... how to describe this. How about "conflicting familiarities." Which is kind of the whole raison d'être of this subgenre, right? The dissonance between our too-many methods of making sense of the world, which went from an idle preoccupation to an emergency when we realized the social and economic structures we were supposed to be "growing up" into had been devastated pretty much beyond repair well before we arrived? Yeah.

Oh right, back to the comic. Setting good, plot totally forgettable. Character writing ok, but nothing I was really connecting with. I kind of need at least two out of three to keep investing in something, so I'm out.

Inaugural Garden In The New House

Jul. 20th, 2017 07:52 pm
cocoajava: Skeptical (pic#128378)
[personal profile] cocoajava
 BEANS! First picking. That colander is a foot and a half wide, so that's some beans. I'll have a snap-party in a minute, watch something on the iPad and snapsnapsnap.

It's 4000% humidity outside but I managed to pull two large buckets of weeds, picked raspberries (not many today but I have a lot accumulating in the freezer), pulled up some viney stuff, checked the grapevine and counted over a dozen halfway grown grape clusters, the grapes are about 1/2" big and green and beautiful. Then trimmed five tomato plants, and picked all those beans.

Sure glad we decided on a 'small temporary garden' this year. *eyeroll*
 

fic (time lords not having sex)

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:09 am
nostalgia: (twissy touchy)
[personal profile] nostalgia
Twelve/Missy fic in which they try not to get jiggy with it.

It's almost entirely about sex. Twelve is frustrated, Bill is clever, Missy is an appalling person who keeps getting cockblocked.

(no subject)

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:04 am
nostalgia: (13 DOCTOR WHO IS A WOMAN)
[personal profile] nostalgia
its been a few days now and afaik dr who is still a woman

13's important thoughts

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:15 am
nostalgia: (13 - eye)
[personal profile] nostalgia
"shit i used to stick my dick in the tardis to make it go what will i do now?"

"my wife is bisexual i'm so glad i planned ahead on that one"

"captain jack is bisexual shit i'm still not free from his flirting"

"clara was bisexual but i can't remember what she looked like so never mind"

"why the fuck do none of these trousers have pockets in them?"

"dicks are literally magic how will i defeat aliens now?"

"missy will be so proud of me"

"maybe i can finally join the sisterhood of karn"

fic (shut your mouth)

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:13 pm
nostalgia: (bill takes a selfie)
[personal profile] nostalgia
MOAR FIC. It is about Twelve and Bill and Thirteen even though she is not actually in it, and it goes a bit serious in the middle but don't worry that doesn't last.

pls reassure me that i'm not wrong for writing this shit, thnx.
nostalgia: (doctor/river tardis)
[personal profile] nostalgia
I accidentally fic.

Eleven and Thirteen and River. Rated "Teen" for idk suggestiveness and dick jokes probabably?

fic BABY'S FIRST 13 FIC

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:29 am
nostalgia: (13 - eye)
[personal profile] nostalgia
GUYS GUYS GUYS I WROTE THIS it is Bill & Thirteen buying stuff in Superdrug. It's a bit pointless but obviously you have to read it anyway.

A TARDIS Full of Bras

this icon has never been more apt

Jul. 16th, 2017 06:54 pm
nostalgia: (yay tits!)
[personal profile] nostalgia
just to check, im not dreaming am i?

(no subject)

Jul. 16th, 2017 05:50 pm
nostalgia: (bill takes a selfie)
[personal profile] nostalgia
i dont think i've ever seen my flist and my tumblr dash so happy

(no subject)

Jul. 16th, 2017 05:21 pm
nostalgia: (Default)
[personal profile] nostalgia
okay how can i learn to write femslash well in time for thirteen happening on telly?

(no subject)

Jul. 16th, 2017 04:58 pm
nostalgia: (missy!)
[personal profile] nostalgia
YES THIS IS GOOD YES

AUex letter

Jul. 15th, 2017 09:47 pm
benedict: (owl wink)
[personal profile] benedict
Hi! I'm Rosencrantz on AO3 and I'm pleased that you're going to be writing for me! Thank you! Pleasure to meet you!

Likes: Adventure, mystery, family, humour.
Dislikes: Rape, incest, gore, underage, Sue Dibny being dead.

Let's get this party rolling.

FANDOM: X-Men: The Animated Series.
AUs:

  • AU: Nightcrawler Joins The X-Men In His Intro Episode (X-Men: TAS)

  • AU: Mystique Raises Nightcrawler (X-Men: TAS)

  • AU: Wolverine Joins Starfleet (X-Men: TAS)

  • AU: Genderswap (X-Men: TAS)


Characters/Relationships:

  • Relationship: Wolverine/Nightcrawler (X-Men: TAS)

  • Nightcrawler (X-Men: TAS)

  • Wolverine (X-Men: TAS)



X-Men: TAS Prompts )


Fandom: DC Comics
AUs:

  • AU: Sue and Ralph Dibny Run A Detective Agency Instead Of Being Heroes (DC Comics)

  • AU: Identity Crisis never happens (DC Comics)

  • AU: Soulmate AU (DC Comics)

  • AU: Wonder Woman Protects Gotham Before Batman Becomes Batman (DC Comics)



Characters:

  • Sue Dibny (DC Comics)

  • Relationship: Batman/Wonder Woman (DC Comics)



DC Comics Prompts )


Fandom: MCU and TV
AUs:

  • AU: Tony Was Kidnapped By Ultron At The Start Of The Movie (MCU and TV)

  • AU: Tony Stark Talks Ultron Out Of Going Nuts (MCU and TV)

  • AU: Sam and Steve With Eachother's Abilities (MCU and TV)

  • AU: Sam and Steve Are Retired (MCU and TV)

  • AU: Steve and Natasha Are Private Detectives (MCU and TV)

  • AU: Steve Is Put In Charge Of Recruiting Natasha To The Avengers (MCU and TV)



Characters:

  • Relationship: Tony Stark & Ultron

  • Relationship: Steve Rogers & Natasha Romanov (MCU and TV)

  • Relationship: Sam Wilson/Steve Rogers (MCU and TV)



MCU and TV Prompts )


Fandom: Marvel Comics
AUs:

  • AU: The Gambit Is Cyclops and Sinister's Clone From The End Miniseries In Main Canon (Marvel Comics)

  • AU: Mr. Sinister Goes Good And Becomes An X-Man (Marvel Comics)

  • AU: Matt and Jennifer Are Normal Lawyers Who Suddenly Get Superpowers (Marvel Comics)

  • AU: Patsy Walker Does Not Get Fired By She-Hulk (Marvel Comics)




Characters:

  • Nathaniel Essex | Mr. Sinister (Marvel Comics)

  • Remy LeBeau | Gambit (Marvel Comics)

  • Scott Summers | Cyclops (Marvel Comics)

  • Matt Murdock | Daredevil (Marvel Comics)

  • Jennifer Walters | She-Hulk (Marvel Comics)

  • Patsy Walker | Hellcat (Marvel Comics)




Marvel Comics Prompts )

Fandom: Beauty and the Beast (1991)
AUs:

  • AU: Shrek It Beauty Becomes A Beast (Beauty and the Beast)

  • AU: Girl Beast Girl Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

  • AU: Belle Is The Beast (Beauty and the Beast)

  • AU: Beast Never Changes Back (Beauty and the Beast)




Characters:

  • Beast (Disney)

  • Belle (Disney)




Beauty and the Beast 1991 Prompts )

fic -- twissy dubcon overload

Jul. 15th, 2017 10:06 am
nostalgia: (twissy touchy)
[personal profile] nostalgia
Okay so I wrote more Twissy dubcon porn, but this one has different words in it as well as more characters.

fic

Jul. 15th, 2017 04:38 am
nostalgia: (Default)
[personal profile] nostalgia
I wrote a thing. It is Twissy dub-con porn. Sorry.
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