bibliofile: Fan & papers in a stack (from my own photo) (Default)
[personal profile] bibliofile
Assorted books that I've collected in the past year. Can deliver by hand at WisCon or post by mail after. Note that I thrifted these, so if you're looking for a shiny copy for your collection, this won't be it.
  • The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, by W.P. Kinsella -- hardcover with dust jacket; excellent story especially if you like baseball or Kinsella.

  • The interrogation of Ashala Wolf, by Ambelin Kwaymullina. ARC (2014) of YA novel by Australian writer. SFF, features chromatic characters.

  • The Wild Hunt by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Francisco Mora. Hardcover, dust jacked, remaindered.

  • River of gods by Ian McDonald. Hardcover w/dust jacket.

  • Phallos, by Samuel R. Delaney. Thin paperback (2004). Fiction.

  • Joy of Cooking by Erma Rombauer (1964 copyright, 1967 printing). Hardcover.

  • Weird noir: gothic and dark lowbrow art, by Matt Dukes Jordan. Largish paperback with lots of glossy paper, so it's heavy.

  • Souvenir book from The House on the Rock (yes, the real place that's also in Neil Gaiman's American Gods). Large but skinny paperback.

  • ETA: The catch trap, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Non-genre novel about circus performers and queer romance. I was going to reread it before giving it to prisoners (MM romance!), but then I didn't. Maybe you will?

Note that I keep a list of books to find for people; you can reply here or drop me an email with the title etc. plus how much you're willing to spend.

Fate vs D&D (well, mostly Elf vs D&D)

May. 21st, 2017 09:23 pm
elf: Life's a die, and then you bitch. (Gamer Geek)
[personal profile] elf
I've been looking a lot at Fate Core rpg system recently. I sponsored the "Wearing the Cape" superhero game on k'start, and I've looked at a few of the other systems.

I have a friend who's putting together a group for a game to be podcast, maybe vidcast; originally, it was going to be Hero, but wow is that troublesome for fantasy gaming (yeah, there's books, and we looked at 'em and even tried to work with them, but he wants some unique magic details, and that means writing the system from scratch, and Hero's got a lot of number-crunching once you go down that path). We looked at GURPS, which I love - he thinks it's okay, but again, would need to rewrite the magic system. Right now, he's looking at 5e, and seems to think that the magic system is easier to twist into what he'd like than those two. I'm trying to pitch Fate, because I think he wants a strongly narrative game more than one where your stats define what you can do.

Key point: If you want a D&D game, play D&D. If you want a D&D-esque setting but do not want classes, levels, initiative rolls, and saving throws - don't play D&D. Find a system that covers the style of play you want, and use that.

This is mostly me grumbling about D&D )

Books and the Talking-About Thereof

May. 19th, 2017 04:32 pm
elf: Quote: She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain (Fond of Books)
[personal profile] elf
I have [community profile] sps, which stands for "Slushpile sleuths," an ebook review forum created a bit before the big ebook craze. It's been sitting dormant for almost 5 years, and I'd like to change that.

Option 2: Make a book-review tumblr. Pros: Better outreach. Cons: You can't archive on tumblr, can't find anything later, and it takes to serious discussion rather like airplanes take to lakes: Sure, it can be done, but even when it works, it's pretty damned obvious to everyone that it's not how things were intended to happen. Other pros: Nobody cares if you post 30 words or 300.

Not sure where to start, and that's what I want to get feedback about. Should I just... post some reviews of books I've read? I think I'm not going to post Amazing Serious Reviews like [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll does. (Srsly. Looking for reviews? Start there.) I can write like that, but it's not fun for me; that's not how I think about books (first). I'd rather do fannish-style squee or rants.

I'd also like other people to be comfortable posting reviews, which is one of the reasons I didn't get in the habit of posting there - I didn't want to have it overwhelmed by my posts alone. But it's gotten pretty obvious that the choice is "fill it up with my posts" or "leave it dead." And looking around, none of the active book-focused comms are specifically for reviews. ([community profile] book_reviews hasn't been dead as long as this one, but the owner has been inactive since 2010.)

Why I'm suddenly noticing a community I started over 5 years ago and have barely touched since )

It'd be nice to revive a book review comm for the New More Active Shiny Dreamwidth. Extra participation would be more than welcome.

Some good news, for once

May. 13th, 2017 12:15 pm
elf: Rainbow fist (Join the Impact)
[personal profile] elf
[personal profile] twistedchick posted a link about a SCOTUS ruling: Same-Sex Adoption Upheld By U.S. Supreme Court (diff link, same story).

Synopsis: Two women were married; had child together - one was birth mother; the other adopted. They divorced. Birth-mom moved to a state that didn't allow same-sex adoption and attempted to cut off visitation. Other mom sued, and it bounced up through the courts to SCOTUS.

Unanimous decision, no oral arguments: NO, states cannot dissolve families that were recognized in another state. Georgia's "cannot adopt" rules do not mean that Georgia has the right not to recognize Alabama's legal adoptions.


Some nice ponderings from this: Read more... )
elf: Subvert (Subvert)
[personal profile] elf
The Libertarian Futurist Society posted a 15-year-old essay about how all true/hard SF is properly libertarian. (I was alerted to this by this post; I don't go looking for libertarian screeds.) It's... fascinating. I was especially caught by this part:
SF is a radial category in which the prototypes are certain classics of hard SF. This is true whether you are mapping individual works by affinity or subgenres like space opera, technology-of-magic story, utopian/dystopian extrapolation, etc. So in discussing the traits of SF as a whole, the relevant question is not “which traits are universal” but “which traits are strongly bound” — or, almost equivalently, “what are the shared traits of most of the core (hard-SF) prototypes”.
That makes sense - it ties strongly into [profile] shweta_narayan's post, Let's talk about category structure and oppression! which mentions that we group things according to similarity with the core category traits:
The "bird" category has (somewhat culture specific) internal structure. For example, most Americans will agree that a robin is a better example of a bird than an albatross, and an albatross is a better bird than an ostrich. (And while bats are not birds, they are better birds than horses are, and horses are better birds than refrigerators are; so the gradations continue to some extent outside the category boundary).
Her post continues to point out that an ostrich is every bit as much bird as a robin, scientifically. That it is our cultural biases that treat some birds as "real" and others as "funny weird maybe-fake" birds. Albatross, kiwi, penguin, emu, and peacocks are all just as much "bird" as robin, sparrow, and crow. Science and hard analysis of traits gives us one answer ("these are all birds, because of genetics") and culture teaches us something else ("some of these are real birds; others are only 'technically' birds").

Back to the "about SciFi" essay. It starts with the statement that some traits are central to SF, not because they're universal but because they're the most meaningful (a reasonable enough claim) and then goes to claim that libertarian politics are "strongly bound" to hard SF, and that only SF that supports libertarian ideals is true SF, because only it gives the proper framework because
"hard SF has a bias towards valuing the human traits and social conditions that best support scientific inquiry and permit it to result in transformative changes to both individuals and societies. Also, of social equilibria which allow individuals the greatest scope for choice, for satisfying that lust for possibilities."
I can posit that hard SF is about "heroic people solving problems with science." I'm actually rather fascinated by the idea that the Justice League is a proper SF saga. Where I disagree is the notion that libertarian politics bring about "social equilibria." Author has apparently misunderstood "equality" to mean "white dudes get to do anything they want."

I'm not up to sorting out historical errors, and definitely not interested in wasting time making a list of them to argue with old white dudes who want to insist that "their" literary genre needs to inspire everyone else for the same reasons it inspired them.
"SF’s libertarian tradition: ornery and insistent individualism, veneration of the competent man, instinctive distrust of coercive social engineering and a rock-ribbed objectivism that values knowing how things work and treats all political ideologizing with suspicion...."
Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing has all of these traits, and I suspect that it'd be immediately rejected as a work of science fiction at all, much less hard sf, because its foundation isn't "US-flavored men-first society is best." Sense8 has these traits; I doubt they'll be lauding it as a new hard-SF series.

The "libertarian" definition of hard SF isn't about "objectivity;" it's about "making sure SF supports my existing biases about how the world works." The author/site owners (and more importantly, the crowd that supports this essay and others like it) seem to think that 50's America had no coercive social engineering - that the concept of "nuclear families" and "men as outside-job-havers and women as stay-at-home child raisers" is an innate part of the human condition rather than a system created to force half of society to provide unpaid labor.

It seems to think that an objective approach to how-things-work will reject all spirituality. In an interesting twist, it will accept the possibility of ghosts, aliens, psychic powers, FTL travel, teleportation, mysterious disembodied entities with tremendous power, and memory transfer - as long as these things are claimed to have some aspect that a human dude in a lab can put on a chart. (Human woman in a lab putting things on charts only counts if dudes can replicate her results.) If they are perceived and practiced without that, the "libertarian hard-sf" fans claim they belong to some other genre, even if the characters practicing them claim, "This is science; it's just science you don't understand yet, that you don't have tools to measure."

Arrow 5:21 partial reactions

May. 11th, 2017 03:45 pm
elf: Dust sprite being squished by rock (Keep Trying)
[personal profile] elf
I haven't finished watching the newest episode of Arrow. This is partially because someone finally tripped me into Sense8 and I've been binge-watching that (up to season 2 ep 3; no spoilers please I'm watching as fast as I can), and partially because


Which I pretty much knew, but I don't like being reminded of it 7 minutes into the episode so strongly that it blocks out my ability to pay attention to the actual, y'know, plot going on.

spoilers and ranting inside the cut )


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