I returned to A Clutch of Constables, which has a lot of the usual Marsh irksome things - racism is only expressed by the low and the vulgar (in fact is one marker of this) but the only person of colour we see is a dignified middle-class professional, something we have seen before in Dame N's work.
The usual class/gender/sexuality/prejudice against various groups issues - dodgy Aussie and dodgy Yanks, as well as the maddening spinster lady with her 'special friend' offstage.
But really: there are a couple of young people who keep showing up in a dodgy sort of fashion on a motorbike, described as 'mods'. Okay, maybe some mods did zip around on motorbikes rather than the usual Vespa motor-scooter.
But when someone actually describes them, what are described are quite clearly rockers (long greasy hair, leathers, etc), not mods (also, given the importance of soul music within mod culture, would mods have been quite that overtly racist? - not that it necessarily follows, I suppose).
I cannot believe that the distinction between the subgroups of 60s youth culture was not all over the media at the time she was writing. Mods were about style and dandyism.
After I leave a place, most people return to their lives and never again question their circumstances. Others make changes, set down rules and clear space for themselves. A few are radically changed and never look back, never regret and die old, craggy, joyful. But when I depart, all of them have genuinely chosen, sometimes for the first and last time ever.
I’m afraid this isn’t going to be a very sensible installment of Short Business because I’m a little in awe of C.S. MacCath’s "The Daemons of Tairdean Town", so I may babble.
( Read more... )
C.S. MacCath’s The Daemons of Tairdean Town was published as part of the Kickstarter anthology "Scherezade’s Facade: Fantastical Tales of Gender Bending, Cross Dressing and Transformation".
When I realized, a few hours before I was supposed to meet my friend to see this movie in Shibuya, that the newest Ghibli movie was directed by the same guy who directed Arrietty, which I thought was basically a flaming pile of poo, I was very worried. But I actually enjoyed the movie quite a lot! It's not a major work, but I liked it a lot, and in a lot of ways it actually reminded me of Maleficent in that the most important relationship is between two female characters, and that it is chock-a-block with lesbian overtones.
The movie shares Arrietty's general concept of "Western children's literature transposed to Japan" (it's adapted from a British novel by Joan G. Robinson) and follows friendless adoptee Anna, who is put on a train to Hokkaidou to spend the summer vacation with her adopted mother's family. She's a loner whose only real pleasure is in her sketchbook, and so it's not surprising that she becomes obsessed with an abandoned Western-style mansion on the far shore of the tidal bay. Despite being told that it's uninhabited, one night she meets a girl named Marni there, and they soon become fast friends. Of course, that's when things get interesting, and to say more would be spoilery (although to be fair, the audience never entirely shares Anna's obsessive disregard for facts, so we're always waiting for the other shoe to drop for some reason).
The movie is fairly direct about Anna's loneliness and the joy she finds in her friendship with Marni; partly because Anna is a little older than most Ghibli heroine, her emotions are often quite affecting, and the supporting characters, particularly Sayaka and Hisako, are well-drawn. Quite a few people teared up at the end, which although somewhat melancholy was also very satisfying. I definitely recommend seeing it if you can, although of course I can't vouch for what horrors may or may not be inflicted on the movie in the dubbing process.
PLOS ONE: Earliest Cranio-Encephalic Trauma from the Levantine Middle Palaeolithic: 3D Reappraisal of the Qafzeh 11 Skull, Consequences of Pediatric Brain Damage on Individual Life Condition and Social Care
Licescience: 100,000-Year-Old Case of Brain Damage Discovered
So: around 100,000 years ago, a child survived a head injury which would have caused moderate or severe traumatic brain injury. This was "most probably followed by significant neurological and psychological disorders, including troubles in social communication". But they lived a significant number of years after the injury, and were buried in a way that suggest unusual, deliberate ceremony.
(Which could, of course, mean "these deer antlers ward off the evil from this unholy changeling child we finally executed." Many stories are possible.)
Hello, Qafzeh 11. Hello across the millennia.
(Also, hello little Sima de los Huesos Cranium 14, 500,000 years ago, who was not even a modern human but a Middle Pleistocene hominin, possibly a proto-Neanderthal. Hello.)
recessional: Decant imps: the rest of the Only Lovers Left Alive ones
niqaeli: perfume, bpal, reaction
niqaeli: [bpal] Little Sister Is Watching You
druidspell: Perfume Review
druidspell: More perfume reviews!
(As always: if anyone else is writing up stuff and would like it linked, leave a comment to let me know.)
2. We had some new bento items today from Yamadaya, and I got their ramen salad for lunch, which was very tasty.
3. It was really hot today, but the high was actually 5 degrees lower than what weather.com had predicted when I looked at it yesterday, so that's good.
4. We got Subway again for dinner because it was too hot for cooking, and now I have half a sub to take for lunch tomorrow. Yay for delicious lunch and also for not having to make a lunch in the morning.
Have been thinking, for various reasons, about these. Both about giving things time, and also that things don't necessarily need to go on for ever, or even a particularly long time.
The value of a thing is not necessarily proportionate to its longevity.
Just because something doesn't last doesn't mean it has failed. It may actually mean that it's succeeded and is no longer necessary.
Or that it has, as it were, blossomed and sent its seeds drifting upon the wind.
This is something I try to bear in mind when things to which I am attached appear to be about to join the choir invisible, or change in significant ways, but I must say I cannot always bring a philosophical equanimity to the process.
( comments and further questions )
Catherynne Valente, Six-Gun Snow White (2013) - I really like Valente's work, and I liked this a lot; it's a feminist retelling of Snow White with a half-Crow protagonist, rather like Maleficent in that the central relationship is between the protagonist and her evil stepmother. It was too thin at some points, but quite a good read.
CLAMP, Drug & Drop vol 2 - I'm liking this restart of Legal Drug much more than that of xxxHoLiC so far, although it turns out it's a massive crossover with an older CLAMP series, leading to the immortal question, "If angels don't have gender, is this series still BL?" It totally is BL; I am very much down for Kazahaya and Rikuou clutching each other while in the grip of strong emotions. Yes, please, I'd like some more.
Kumota Haruko, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu vol. 1 (2011) - The author is an up and coming BL writer, though I've just started this manga about an ex-con who wants to do Rakugo and I'm not sure whether it's BL yet. If not, there's always doujinshi.
Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria (2012) - Yes, still, I'm busy and exhausted, as good as it is. I was saying to jhameia it reminds me of The Secret Service, which I need to think more about why.
Book-Shaped Space for Acquisitions
Arakawa Hiromu, Silver Spoon vols. 4 & 5 (I got the special edition of 4 with the spoons!)
Suetsugu Yuki, Chihayafuru vol. 1
Vonda McIntyre, The Moon and the Sun
Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..
I felt a little let down by the novella and novelette categories, that the offerings were a mixed bag– something that other people I know have agreed with and said is how the Hugos often are. Which shouldn’t be surprising, really, as there’s a wide variety of tastes and preferences and they’re called “The Hugo Awards” and not “The Brigid Awards,” so I shouldn’t expect to love everything on offer.
And then I hit the short story category and three of the four stories deeply affected me and made me cry and the fourth was just eh. Not for me. If I could nominate three of those short stories for first place then I would. It’s a painful decision, and that’s super great.
Before I talk about the stories, I’m going to tell you something ridiculous.
I read two of the stories, couldn’t find the third I wanted to read, and then started reading “A Stranger In Olondria.” “Wow,” I thought to myself, “this is a really long short story. Huh. This sure is slow to start. My goodness, this is pretty long for a short story.” Then, uh, I realized I’d started reading A NOVEL and not A SHORT STORY. So I stopped (which was hard, actually, looking forward to picking it up again) to read the very excellent short story by the same author.
The Ink Readers of Doi Saket, by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, is a story set in Thailand about Thai people and culture and Buddhism, written by a white man from the Netherlands. It reminded me very much of “The Milagro Beanfield War”: both works are very earnest, but also condescending and exotifying toward the people/cultures they are about.
Selkie Stories Are For Losers, by Sofia Samatar, is a fantastic story about loss and love. It’s a coming of age story, and it’s a story about stories. The protagonist is still reeling from the sudden loss of her mother (who may or may not be a Selkie; she may or may not have accidentally returned her mother’s skin while looking for something else) when she meets, befriends, (and falls in love with) a young woman whose mother has tried to kill herself several times and who has basically checked out of life. They are both motherless, in their own way. They are both creating their own homes, their own families, or trying to, in their own way. It’s a beautiful and deftly written book, full of longing and bitterness and sorrow and hope and fear and love, so much love. And I really love Selkies and Selkie stories. And the fact I didn’t rate this story higher speaks volumes about the quality of the short stories on this ballot.
If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love, by Rachel Swirsky, is an incredibly powerful short story about love and hate and destruction and hope and which lives are considered important. I think a lot of people are put off by the opening cadence of the story, which is a bit like a children’s story (notably, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie,” but it reminded me of some other kid stuff I’ve read to my own kid) but that stylistic choice is very important one that gives the story a lot of its power. This is very much a social justice/social commentary piece (as, in my opinion, the BEST Science Fiction is), and it is utterly devastating. I highly recommend it, but have some tissues or a sleeve or something handy. (For some reason, this wasn’t included in the voter packet I downloaded. I’m very glad I sought it out and was able to find it online.)
The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere, by John Chu, is a stunning bit of character-driven fiction that revolves around personal relationships that are hampered by the odd fact that, suddenly and for no reason, cold water started falling out of nowhere on people when they lie. It ranges from a clammy mist, to a drizzle, to a torrential downpour depending on the severity of the lie. It’s greatly impacted the very private and closed off Matt, who loves his boyfriend and loves his traditional Chinese parents and sister, and is terrified of letting any of them down. Matt has to come to terms with what he wants, and what he needs… and he has to learn how to open himself up to his boyfriend and to his parents and let them in. The cold water falling down is a fantastic narrative device, something that has utterly fundamentally changed the world without changing human nature, something that reveals Matt’s lies to himself… as well as his truths.
It was SO HARD deciding how to rank these stories, and I’m SO HAPPY that’s the case. I utterly adored Samatar’s short (and have really been enjoying her longer work). She manages to capture characters and their world so very well. I’d like to read more about those girls. Swirsky’s short is absolutely heart breaking, wrenching, so sad and so beautiful, and so wonderfully written. But Chu’s piece? It’s so very human, and so hopeful in the end.
I want to say a special thank you to Chu for managing to break the streak of male mediocrity in this year’s ballot. What a powerhouse of a story.
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