Before I go to bed

Aug. 27th, 2014 02:00 am[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I got a request to read something cheerful. What F&SF would people say passes the something cheerful test?
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

It seems obvious that you wouldn't want a supernova exploding near Earth. Yet there is growing evidence that one did—actually, more than one. About 10 million years ago, a nearby cluster of supernovas went off like popcorn. We know because the explosions blew an enormous bubble in the interstellar medium, and we're inside it.

[ SECRET POST #2793 ]

Aug. 26th, 2014 08:35 pm[personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets
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⌈ Secret Post #2793 ⌋

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naraht: Illustration of Tennyson's "Mariana" (art-Mariana)
[personal profile] legionseagle just posted an excellent 22k crossover between Return to Night and Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books. It's the longest fic that's been written in the RtN fandom so far and is an great sequel to the book, written in the style of a Golden Age detective novel.

The announcement of Dr Hilary Mansell’s engagement to Julian Fleming, the much younger owner of Larch Hill, comes as a shock to her nephew Sam, who knew Julian at Oxford. But Julian’s mother Elaine is not merely shocked, but overtly hostile. Given the intense, febrile relationship between mother and son, something has to snap.

[personal profile] legionseagle's work is always well-written, tightly plotted and impeccably well-researched, especially when it comes to the law and crime. This story is no exception and it was a perfect treat to read on the August Bank Holiday.

You can certainly read it without knowing Miss Marple and I expect that you could even read it without knowing Return to Night, but it brings a very welcome wider (and more than a little meta) perspective to what is, after all, a deeply weird canon.

Above all it's a story that's deeply Provocative of Thought if you've read RtN - and if you know me you know that's what I enjoy in fiction. The premise is very, very far away from anything that I would have considered plausible at first glance and yet it's fascinatingly and nigglingly consistent with canon at the same time. I've been musing on the story ever since I first read it and [personal profile] legionseagle has kindly given me permission to write a detailed review, which is below. Be warned that it's deeply spoilery and that these are the sort of spoilers that will affect your enjoyment of the story.

Spoilers, I'm serious, right under here )

(no subject)

Aug. 26th, 2014 03:51 pm[personal profile] kat_nic posting in [community profile] girlgay
kat_nic: "I've got your back" (Madame Vastra And Jenny)
Title: Entropy and Tea | Read on AO3
Author: [personal profile] kat_nic
Fandom: Doctor Who
Summary: Vastra suffers a simple yet catastrophic mechanical malfunction, but fortunately, Jenny is around to save the day.
Pairings: Vastra/Jenny (pre-relationship)
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Not my characters or intellectual property.
Author's Notes: Okay so I wholeheartedly reject Vastra and Jenny's "canon" meeting. In fact, I reject all of Vastra and Jenny's "canon" from The Brilliant Book 2012. Ugh. So no knowledge of their personal canon or Doctor Who in general is necessary, as this is basically headcanon anyway XD

Part One )

Go me!

Aug. 26th, 2014 03:33 pm[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Rating today

Although I worry that it is a bad sign my rating went up after a period where posting frequency went down...
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

His reunion with his family having not gone entirely well, the man using the name Poldarn flees back to the Empire he fled in the first book. People familiar with the series thus far might ask if that is an entirely sensible idea on Poldarn's part; sadly, Poldarn's talents do not lie in the field of ratiocination or even “learning from experience”.

Read more... )

Things I don't get

Aug. 26th, 2014 12:45 pm[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I don't understand the overt hostility to young adult fiction as a category, especially from older people whose formative reading experiences as they themselves relate it include works aimed at younger readers.

Ever ask yourself

Aug. 26th, 2014 12:52 am[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
"Do goats care if the other end of the leafy branch they are hauling off is on fire?"

If so, the answer is "no."
galacticjourney: (Default)

Some movies are made with a huge budget and are expected to be big blockbusters. Others are made on a shoestring and have much more variable luck. I've taken a chance on a lot of "B-Movies" simply because their subject matter included science fiction and or fantasy topics. I'm happy to announce that the lastest such experience, watching The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, was a completely satisfactory experience.

Sinbad has been in the theaters since last Thanksgiving. Thankfully, movies have reasonably long runs, and Sinbad was such a success that it's no wonder it is still playing. My daughter and I saw it in a real cinema, rather than a drive-in, to get the full experience.

For those who don't know, Sinbad the Sailor is the protagonist of seven tales in 1001 Arabian Nights. He's a bit of an Arab Ulysses, discovering wondrous things on his sea trips. What I first noticed about Sinbad is how pretty it is, with glorious color, and costumes, sets, and monsters designed to take full advantage of it.

Sinbad and Perissa, the heroes of the movie

Sinbad starts right in the action with Sinbad's crew stopping at the island of Colossa to reprovision, only to be assaulted by a one-eyed half-satyr giant referred to as a "Cyclops." It's truly a special effects triumph, thanks to the stop-motion expertise of one Ray Harryhausen. I understand he spent 11 months on the optics in Sinbad, and they are excellent.

The Cyclops

Sinbad rescues the wizard Socura, who loses his magic lamp (complete with genie) in the escape. Socura insists that Sinbad return to Colossa for it, but Sinbad has a more pressing errand to run--to transport his lovely fiancee, Perissa, to Baghdad. Their marriage will preserve peace between the Caliphate and the belligerent realm of Chandra, Perissa's father being the king of the latter, and Sinbad being a prince of the former.

The wicked Socura

Once in Baghdad, Socura makes increasingly insistent demands to be transported back to Colossa, ultimately shrinking Perissa to a few inches in height (though he makes sure to have an alibi so he is not implicated). Socura promises to restore Perissa if he is returned to Colossa, where he has the components to make a restorative potion. Sinbad reluctantly agrees.

Itty Bitty Perissa

I shan't spoil the rest, but suffice it to say that Harryhausen's effects remain the star attraction. He convincingly animates a genie, a two-headed roc, a dragon, more cyclopses, and even a fighting skeleton. The plot is rather childish, as befits a fairy tale, and the dialogue and acting are no great shakes. On the other hand, I greatly appreciated Perissa, who is daring and fun and saves the day several times. She is as much the hero as Sinbad.

The skeleton fight

So head out to the movies and enjoy this film. It has its problems, but there's no arguing that it is a delightful romp and a spectacle second to none.

Next time, I promise, the rest of Astounding, which isn't quite as bad as the first half, despite containing more Randy Garrett.

(Confused? Click here for an explanation as to what's really going on)

[ SECRET POST #2792 ]

Aug. 25th, 2014 06:36 pm[personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets
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⌈ Secret Post #2792 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.


More! )


Secrets Left to Post: 02 pages, 047 secrets from Secret Submission Post #399.
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Posted by Ken White

Part One: The federal government funds a study to monitor bad political speech on Twitter:

The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.

The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.”

Part Two: The federal government ignores, for a generation, its statutory obligation to gather and report on data about excessive force used by law enforcement:

But in the 20 years since the law went on the books, very little has happened and no one's holding the AG or any of the law enforcement agencies below him accountable for the lack of input.

Government Priorities: Compare And Contrast © 2007-2014 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

andrewducker: (obey the penguin)

In related news, I was watching the UI reel for Guardians of The Galaxy* and suddenly realised that at no point had I wondered "How did they make a talking raccoon that looks just like, well, a talking raccoon. I don't think there's anything that you could do with CGI nowadays that would surprise me.

Which, in some ways, spoils the experience. I remember when you could amaze the audience with a few dinosaurs.

*and agreeing with [ profile] lproven that someone should provide UI skins that looks that awesome (and, sadly, unusable).
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Which generally means Ibid is trying to get her to play with him and she can't get by. When I went up, she came bounding around the corner happily, saw it was me, reversed and lept over Ibid to her closet.

Who was she expecting?

Honestly torn

Aug. 25th, 2014 12:21 pm[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
What's more core to horror, racism or misogyny?

pleasantville 3

Aug. 25th, 2014 04:08 pm[personal profile] novembermond
novembermond: (black widow)
it's still the first night at Casa Caliente.

uh oh
Read more... )
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

I brought up the topic (or race in Lovecraft's fiction) early and affably in the panel, and just a little later but also affably, Mr. Joshi shut it down with a familiar canard: Lovecraft's racism and xenophobia must be viewed in the context of Lovecraft's considerably less-enlightened time.

"If Dundee cake...": the podfic

Aug. 25th, 2014 10:32 am[personal profile] naraht
naraht: (Default)
I've been podficced! And what a pleasure, like being featured on Radio 4's Book at Bedtime.

[podfic] If Dundee cake be the food of love by Lilliburlero
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Return to Night - Mary Renault
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Julian Fleming/Hilary Mansell
Characters: Julian Fleming, Hilary Mansell
Additional Tags: Post-Canon, Aging, Weight Issues, Podfic, Podfic Length: 0-10 Minutes

A podfic of 'If Dundee cake be the food of love' by Naraht.


Aug. 25th, 2014 09:11 am[personal profile] telophase
telophase: (Default)
So you know that thing that cats do? The one where you're sitting on a couch or something and they come sit on the cushion behind you, and then they flop their tail and their tail hits you in the head, and they don't like it so they start flopping their tail even harder so they end up thrashing you in the head and you're all WTF CAT I WAS HERE FIRST and HEY DON'T BLAME ME FOR MY HEAD BEING IN THE WAY and YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELF and the only response they have is to thrash their tail even harder?

Well, cats do it to each other, too. )

RenaultX: an announcement

Aug. 25th, 2014 08:16 am[personal profile] naraht
naraht: (other-Deborah)
You may well have heard about this via other channels by now: [personal profile] makioka and I have decided to turn [community profile] renaultx into a full-time, all-purpose Mary Renault fan community for both ancient and contemporary novels. There is a very brief official announcement. To be even briefer, we hope you'll feel free to post your fics and other fanworks, make recs, link to interesting Renault stuff you found online, start discussions, share resources and whatever else comes to mind.

In retrospect it might have made sense to do this sooner after That Discussion in January, but better late than never. We may host a book discussion (book to be determined by comm members) in the nearish future but we don't have any grand plans for the community (apart from running the exchange again next year, obvs). It's mostly a matter of providing an unlocked, open-membership, open-posting comm on Dreamwidth and seeing what happens. There are all sorts of interesting things going on in the fandom at the moment so it'll be fun to watch.

If you have questions, suggestions, &c, obviously do let me know!
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I totally should have seen how the cast and crew of FASS do at head shaving during a drunken revel. Oh, well. Next time.
soc_puppet: Dreamsheep with a ball of white yarn for a body (Yarnsheep)
After many delays and much swearing over internet outages, I finally have my report completely posted. You can find my account of AnimeIowa as the head and lone staffer of the Accessibility Department here: Part 1 and Part 2

Now, an importnat question: Would anyone be interested in regular reports/updates on the running of AI's accessibility department? I feel like it could be a useful resource to anyone attempting to start their own such departments, or who want to help others do so/generate interest in getting one started. I also think it might help me run the department better, if I need to keep outlining my actions, and especially if I can get feedback on them. Any thoughts?
andrewducker: (Big Grin)
I took Thursday and Friday off this week so that I could have a 4-day birthday weekend, enjoy some fringe shows, and generally relax a lot with Julie. My co-worker graciously allowed me to do so, despite Thursday also being _his_ birthday, and I was resolved to make the best of it.

The first sign that things might not go according to plan was on Wednesday, when I woke up with a mouth that tasted like a camel died in it, and a sore throat. This from a night where I slept less than optimally, after Julie had woken me three times to tell me to roll over and stop snoring.

I survived Wednesday ok though, and felt ok when I left work. A little wobbly, but generally alright. I dashed across town to meet Julie at the Pleasance, and we thoroughly enjoyed watching The Pin, who had a fun take on the comedy sketch show - they were both on stage when we arrived, with one of them behind the keyboard of his laptop, typing away, and the screen projected up behind him, showing him putting the final touches to a couple of sketches. This set the scene nicely, as he proceeded to narrate the opening of the show through the keyboard, typing out the actions of the other member of the team as if they were being scripted live - and then continuing to use this to get members of the audience to join in, do impersonations, etc. And then they continued in a fun way, doing a sketch about Ant and Dec, and then announcing that they thought it worked better in French, and so doing it over, in French, with Nicolas Sarkozy and Gerard Depardieu taking their place. The whole mixture of sketches, commentary, and meta-narrative worked rather well to bring the audience in, and many things worked even when they shouldn't have.

Thursday was less successful - we both woke up feeling a bit rubbish. Not _awful_, but out of sorts and generally not capable of much. So we spent the day playing computer games* and slouching around, before going to see "Who Shot Hitler". Which was _terrible_. I hate to say this, as it was recommended by a friend, but I would have left after ten minutes if Julie hadn't wanted to stay and see if it stopped being a terrible collection of unfunny sketches that would have amused me, maybe, when I was 14, and actually pulled it together into something coherent. It had several good ideas, but the execution was so appallingly bad that I actually suspected at the start that it was deliberately so. Sadly, if it was, the joke stayed firmly on the audience.

Friday was amazing. Not the day, which was spent feeling worse than Thursday. But we were going to a show at 9pm, so with Julie's fasting schedule we decided to have a late lunch and then eat afterwards at 10pm at our favourite Indian restaurant, Kismot. And then I discovered that the evening's show was going to be The Axis of Awesome. Of whom you have you almost certainly heard The Four Chord Song. This was fantastic enough as it was, as they played a variety of funny songs, insulted each other, and were generally amusing. What topped it off was when they played a song that needed something onstage. And they pointed at me. And so I got to go on-stage and dance like a mad idiot in front of 400 people. And get high-fives from all of the band afterwards. I was feeling pretty shaky from the cold when I went on-stage, by the time I came off the adrenaline high was enough that I was about fall over. I sat there with a big grin for the rest of the show (finishing off with the awesome Rage Of Thrones), and then calmed down by the time we were halfway through the meal. Which was delicious, as usual.

Saturday was then a day off. Which was good, because we were in no shape to go anywhere. The cold had knocked us both completely over, but I was able to make it over to my brother Hugh's to help him with a secret project to surprise his wife for an hour, and to get Flash Duel, a fun little board/card game to simulate a sword duel before collapsing back at home.

And then today, as you'll have seen from the post earlier, we didn't feel up to going to our last show. So I posted on LJ, the link was retweeted by someone _in_ the show, and then ended up going to the daughter of one of the cast members, who dropped round, took it gingerly from my leprotic fingers, said thankyou, and then scampered off before the plague could take her.**

I think it's the combination of going to see things which surprise you positively and negatively which really makes The Fringe for me. And so I'm actually glad that even though we only made it to three shows we still managed to see one was that awesome and one that was execrable - it wouldn't be The Edinburgh Fringe without it.

And now my wife is complaining that I'm taking as long as [ profile] grrm does to write this. So I think it's time to collapse into bed. I'm feeling much better than I did this morning, and hopefully tomorrow I'll be alive enough to make it into work. I've got far too much to do to not go in and infect a few people...

*Divinity: Original Sin. Probably the best RPG I've played since Neverwinter Nights, if not ever. The combat system is certainly the most fun I've had in any CRPG - every battle feels like a puzzle that can be solved in a variety of different ways, the world is large, detailed, and full of side-quests, and there's huge amounts of background detail that keeps pulling us both in. And nowadays, a Co-Op RPG is a rarity in itself, so having one as good as this makes us very happy indeed.
**This is one of the things I love about the internet. It's so damn easy to connect with people in ways you never expected.
azurelunatic: <lj user="azurelunatic"> age 9 in white dress with red sash, holding hen Aurora Fayoumis, circa 1989 (Aurora)
This most recently observed when I was thinking that a lot of people know cat body language for expressing general affection, but not many people know chicken body language.

and *gently pecks a random speck of something off your face* is therefore something which needs serious explaining.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
So if it happened here or on LJ/DW or twitter, I did not see it.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
But I was bleeding before 8 PM on the Friday.

It turns out my cat hate, hate, hate fresh picked catnip....

Comment policy: Spoilers

Aug. 24th, 2014 08:46 pm[personal profile] andrewducker
andrewducker: (Batman goes back to the closet)
Because it's come up several times in the past, and I want people to be able to feel they can read the comments without bumping into things that they don't want to, I figured that an actual policy would be useful. Particularly with Dr Who being back.

First, a note on this spoiler policy: I do not care about your general opinion on whether spoilers exist, research done on the matter, spoiler expiry policies from elsewhere, etc. Or rather, I do, but none of that applies here. _Your_ common sense approach does not take priority over these rules. Feel free to discuss what you think of the whole philosophy of spoilers here, but that doesn't mean you can ignore the following*.

1) If the post is about a particular episode then you can post whatever you like about that episode and previous episodes in the comments. Same with movies, books, etc. If I post about the exciting thing on page 617 of Lord of the Rings then talk about you like about any content on pages 1 to 616.

2) If the post is not actually about that. Or is about _more_ than that. Then you must disguise what you are talking about. By "more than that" I include link posts that link to something about the latest episode of a TV show _and_ also link to other things. People may wish to talk about said other things, and I want them to be able to do so, safe in the knowledge that nobody will tell them that the entire cast of Archer are replaced by alien doubles of themselves halfway through season three**.

3) Valid methods of obfuscation include vagueness "I had no idea that that exciting thing was going to happen! I was blown away!" and encryption.

4) In order to encrypt your comment go here, enter your comment and hit the "Cypher" button. This will use the Awesome Powah of ROT13*** to transfer your text into something that looks like this: "Una Fbyb vf Yrvn'f Sngure". You can use exactly the same internet magic to convert it back again. Go on, give it a go. You can also do this using a plugin for Chrome and an addon for Firefox.

That's it. Dead simple. If the post is about X, talk about X all you like. If it's not then be vague. If you can't get your point across vaguely then ROT13 it.

And lo, people never had to have arguments about spoilers ever again****

*God, I wish I didn't have to write sentences like the above. But previous history on this topic (amongst others) has shown that the second you bring this up you have people replying with things like "Well, I don't see how people can possibly not know that in book four of the Zarquon Trilogy Eric gets turned into a goldfish - I got spoiled when I went to Tumblr, so clearly everyone who'se ever heard of it will know that.", apparently not realising that not everyone uses the internet the same way that they do, and that someone announced on my FB today that they were finally going to get into Dr Who and where was a good place to being, as they didn't know much about it. Yes, really.
**I've not seen more than one episode of Archer so far. I really hope that doesn't happen. But if it does, I didn't know about it. So there.
***It converts each letter into a number from 1-26, adds 13 to it, and then converts it back (where Z+1 = A).
****I wish. This used to be standard fucking practice on Usenet, back in ye olden days of the internet, when I were a lad and this were all text as far as the eye could see. I have no idea why I didn't do this years ago.

[ SECRET POST #2791 ]

Aug. 24th, 2014 03:10 pm[personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets
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⌈ Secret Post #2791 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.


More! )


Secrets Left to Post: 03 pages, 058 secrets from Secret Submission Post #399.
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Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
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