Time of Daughters 2

Time of Daughters II
Sherwood Smith

Over my holiday I finished reading Time of Daughters II, the second half of Sherwood Smith’s novel set in the martial land of Marlovan Iasca, about a century after the time of the great hero Inda (a principal character in her teratology of that name).

Structurally, the novel takes you through a series of battles as the kingdom is threatened in different ways and directions: these are all brilliant—and harrowing. People act foolishly or thoughtlessly and have to face the full consequences. Sometimes people pull off amazing feats of survival and heroism—and sometimes these are celebrated, and sometimes they’re belittled or barely acknowledged. I was all in, emotionally. Although you continue to be involved with many characters, the through thread is most definitely Prince Connar. The story’s a battle for his soul, which in other hands might be reduced to a nature/nurture conflict or a good influences/bad influences conflict, but Sherwood’s not doing that: she’s showing **all** the things that go into making a person who they are. There’s your nature, there are the things that influence you, but there’s also when things happen, and the order in which things happen; there’s how other people reflect things back to you; there’s accident.

And other people are growing and changing too, in themselves and in their relationships with others. Nursing grudges or growing out of them is a theme. Two characters whose trajectories were interesting to watch were Fish Perenth, Connar’s personal runner, who started out his time back in Volume I as a sullen and unwilling sneak but grows quite a bit, and another is Cabbage Gannon, who starts out a bully but becomes someone who earns the love of the people he’s responsible for. Lineas remains a reliable delight whose approach to interacting with people I found myself trying to model at times. Her kindness to a deeply damaged (and terrifying) person near the end of the story brought me to tears. There are some very painful character deaths, too, which you feel particularly sharply for the pain their loss causes to others.

One thing that the book gets you thinking about is what makes a good king and how we feel about heroes. Although Connar is awful in many ways, he has the charisma that people love in a leader (he also works very hard at becoming one—he’s not a “natural,” though he has stunning good looks, and that always helps). His brother Noddy, by contrast, isn’t much at all to look at and gives an impression of being slow because he takes his time with stuff, but he’s much more the type of person most civilians would like to live under.

I look forward to my friends who are Sartorias-deles fans reading this so I have people to talk to about it.
Available from Book View Cafe (ebook only) and Amazon (ebook, paperback, or hardback).

PS Reading a story set in another world when you’re in another world is weird, very Inception-esque. You rise out of the story world and look around, and you’re still not in the world you know.

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drive-by short-story recommendation

A short, wonderful tale by Marissa Lingen, "Every Tiny Tooth and Claw," in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. (I read it, but it's also their audio feature.) It's an epistolary story (yay!), a correspondence between two academics in magical fields (yay!) in a time of political upheaval. They have to be careful of what they say, and reading between the lines of their messages is totally my jam. And/but also, all the details are just charming and wonderful:

In any case, Yudit and I got reacquainted with each other quite cordially, and then she had some fascinating news about the thaumistic properties of stockinged clothed mole rats in Singer and Worritch’s latest paper. Well. Fascinating to me—you might not have known that clothed mole rats are the nearest known cousin of my beloved hurtling dormice. Well, they are, and this latest finding may shed some light on the obfuscation abilities of both. I shall write to Singer about it. Worritch has never much liked me.

It's a delight all the way through--you can read it here.

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The Wolf and the Girl

The Wolf and the Girl
Aster Glenn Gray

A wonderful thing that Aster Glen Gray does in The Wolf and the Girl—which she also did in Briarley—is transpose a fairy tale to a very particular time and place and make you really feel that time and place. For Briarley it was World War II England; for The Wolf and the Girl it’s pre-Revolutionary Russia—and then early-twentieth-century France.

The first part is like a Russian lacquer box—dark, jewel-like, beautiful. As a small child, Masha would be with her Babushka when older village girls came to hear Babushka’s stories and fairy tales. The older girls all went on to better things, and none more so than Raisa, who got a scholarship to university in St. Petersburg. But then Raisa fell in with anarchists and was exiled to Siberia, “which gave the good people of Kostin no end of satisfaction.”
“But they were all so proud when she went to study in St. Petersburg,” Masha protested to Babushka. “Why are they happy it ended like this?”
“Pride and jealousy are two sides of the same coin,” Babushka told her. “If you toss it up in the air, you never know which way it will come down.”

--Just the sort of insight into human nature that I’ve come to expect from this author, and the sort of thing that makes The Wolf and the Girl more than just a fairy tale wearing new clothes.

Not only has Raisa been exiled to Siberia, she’s fallen afoul of an anarchist enchantress. Wounded and bespelled, she finds her way to Masha and Babushka, and the elements of Little Red Riding Hood—transmuted to fit pre-Revolutionary Russian times—play out.

But the story doesn’t end there! There’s a whole next part—for all of us who’ve ever said, “But what comes after the ‘happily ever after’?” (Only in this case, it’s not quite a happily-ever-after—there are situations and exigencies.) And *this* part involves fleeing to France, encountering a friendly theater group, and eventually getting involved in film. There’s still an angry enchantress on the loose, too, so . . . well, it’s an exciting and satisfying ride. I recommend it highly!

It's available both as an ebook and a paperback.

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feathers on the line

This is so sad Alexa play Despacito

Although *my* photos are still trapped in a disposable camera, Waka has kindly let me use his. Here is a shot of an iconic house (painted with the Puerto Rican flag) in La Perla, the neighborhood in San Juan where the video for "Despacito" was shot.

waka's photo

Let's take a brief moment to fully appreciate "Despacito." I chanced across it in May 2017, not knowing anything about it, and fell in love with both the song and video on one view. When it became the most-watched video on YouTube, I cheered. The world population today is approximately 7.5 billion. Views of that video are at 6.59 billion. Granted that there are people like me who've watched it numerous times and people in Tibet or Xinjiang who've never seen it, still: what unites the world today is "Despacito."

Maybe in part it's because La Perla is simultaneously familiar to people worldwide and--in the video--idealized: children and old folks and young sexy folks all hanging out together, all at ease. Unfortunately, that neighborhood, wedged between the seawall and the city walls of Old San Juan, is *very* vulnerable to storms, and the people living in it don't have many financial resources. When Hurricane Maria came through, it was devastated. As we all remember, aside from tossing out rolls of paper towels, the current administration couldn't have cared less about disaster relief to the island as a whole, and what relief there was didn't make it to La Perla--the people there recovered by helping each other out.

(This I heard generally from people I talked to about the hurricane: everyone survived the extended lack of power with help from their neighbors and helping their neighbors.)

It turns out there's been a short film made about the neighborhood's recovery ([personal profile] osprey_archer, the director is a woman). It doesn't seem to be available for viewing online anywhere, but I hope to see it one day. Here's the trailer:

TRAILER La Perla After Maria from Butiq.Media on Vimeo.

Next posts will be book reviews--the very marvelous The Wolf and the Girl and Time of Daughters 2.

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feathers on the line

I was away but now I'm back

Wakanomori and I went on a five-day holiday. We thought our phones would work in our destination--our phone plan said they would ... but they didn't! His at least worked for non-calling/texting purposes (e.g., taking photos, looking at internet) if we were in wifi range, but mine had decided to try to do an update and so it was a brick.

That's all right though, our destination was fascinating and fun anyway. It did, however, suffer bunches of earthquakes while we were there, including one that woke us up and kept our room shaking, although we were some 40 miles away, as the crow flies, from the epicenter. That quake was the worst in a century and cut all power everywhere.**

. . . Can you guess our destination?

**Fortunately for us, many people and establishments, having lived through a very, very extended power outage in the recent past, have generators--including the place we were staying and a number of nearby eateries. Many people don't, though, so there's this, or, for something completely based in the locale, there's this. I was grateful that even before the generator came on, the water was still running--near the epicenter, many people are without water.

Eventually I hope to have photos in some form to share, but in the meantime, here's a sketch of our street. I really stink at drawing cars, clearly (click through to see it bigger):

Avenida Universidad

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further adventures of Decommissioner 37

I'm nearing the climax of my sequel to The Inconvenient God. I'm excited! This story's considerably longer than that one--with more details about the protagonist's past, including her ~ ~ name ~ ~ (Sweeting was what her grandparents called her, but it's not her name.)

I probably won't finish it by the end of the year--too much other stuff going on--but early in the new year.

... okay, going to take my high energy off for a run and to work out more plot details.

Here--enjoy Sofi Tukker singing "Matadora"

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turnip lantern

notes from a bathroom stall

I mean to answer posts--and letters/cards (thinking of you, [personal profile] osprey_archer)--but I've got my head down with a long job that I have to finish by tomorrow. I'm taking a break to share with you the wisdom and art of a bathroom stall.

First the art--it's Pikachu! Who doesn't want to see Pikachu's cheerful face at such moments?

Now a blessing--located, aptly, over the toilet paper:

And lastly, some relationship advice. There were other, similarly themed nuggets that expressed themselves more caustically, but:

Please continue with your day blessed, advised, and fortified!

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feathers on the line

tres poemas

My former tutor, current pen pal, said it was okay to link to his poems!

So here they are: "Medusas," "Sirenas," and "La Mentira," by Geovanni Trujillo/Mictlán.

I really like them--there are great lines and images in all of them--I really like in "Sirenas," for instance, the very first line: "A veces le cuento al viento sobre ti"---sometimes I tell the wind about you.

I like the idea of the wind as a confidant.

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patron saint of ...

In her latest Patreon post, [personal profile] sovay talks about two frustrating films and one id-tastic one. The first of the frustrating ones, which, she reports, in large part "feels like someone drew a line through the set labeled "GOOD TASTE" and everyone kept getting CAD injuries trying not to cross it," reminded me of something hilarious and awful that happened at my church's All Saints Day mass.

For All Saint's Day, the religious ed program always has a few teens pick a saint, dress up as them, and then tell the congregation about them in the first person: "Hi, I'm Saint Peter, and Jesus and I go way back." There are actually interesting female saints out there, but aside from the frequent Mother Teresa (now officially St. Teresa of Calcutta), the girls mainly pick the most revolting examples of simpering victimhood, and this time that meant St. Maria Goretti, who was canonized for fighting off a rapist, getting stabbed, forgiving her attacker, and dying. At age eleven. She's now the patron saint of rape victims, which ... let's not even talk about how emotionally unhealthy that is.

But what made this teen's portrayal of this saint extra ludicrous and sad was that someone--her family? The religious ed instructor? She herself?--had decided that rather than ever say "rape," she'd refer to that act as "taking my virtue." Just so you know, even Catholic websites use the word "rape." Nihil obstat! But instead we got this:

"I was a poor girl growing up in near Rome in the 1890s, and when I was only eleven, the neighbor's son wanted to take my virtue, but I didn't want to let him take my virtue, so he stabbed me. But on my deathbed I forgave him. Now I'm the patron saint of people who've had their virtue taken."

It was that final passive construction that really took the cake. The whole thing made me wonder what year I was in. And it made me want to prescribe a feminist reading course. I know, I know.

Anyway! Go clear your palate by reading Sovay's reviews. They'll cheer you up.

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Hot Chocolate Run--thank you!

Wow, the running conditions couldn't have been more different this year from last year--last year's post-run entry reveals that it was 37 degrees F, and rainy. This morning we awoke to a world glittering with hoarfrost-the side of the house was decorated with sparkles--and temperatures below 0 F. By the time I reached the race start point, it had warmed up to a balmy 16 F.

Here's a shot of everyone waiting to get started:

I knew I'd run much more slowly this year than last year. I've done way less running this year, first because of the jail job and then, IDK, dispiritedness maybe. And 2018 was slower than 2017, which was the year I trained for a 10 k. But you know, 2015 was only a few seconds slower than 2017, and 2015 I didn't train for a 10 k. I felt **comfortable** running this year--in spite of the cold (I was well bundled), and that's worth something.

Much more importantly, thanks to you all, I was able to raise $665.00, and the event overall raised $632,729, which will keep Safe Passage of Northampton running for another year. Thank you!

(Also thanks to you, I got a really race number--56. I like this number very much--and it's the age I turned late this year [ETA: in October, to clarify], so it meant I was running with my age on my chest.)

Later in the day I went for a walk with a friend who lives in Northampton. There was still some hoarfrost clinging to branches of trees by the river:

For my own record, some specific times--DON'T LAUGH

2019: 35:05
2018: 32:27
2017: 31:23
2016: (didn't run)
2015: 31:49

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