(no subject)

May. 3rd, 2016 08:35 pm
skygiants: Jupiter from Jupiter Ascending, floating over the crowd in her space prom gown (space princess)
[personal profile] skygiants
OK, I'm just going to quote a whole huge paragraph from the jacket summary for The Scorpion Rules:

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

There are LOTS of keywords in here that line up pretty much exactly with current trends in YA dystopia -- a Special Girl! who meets a Special Boy! who Doesn't Follow The Rules! Sheeple! WAKING UP! probably in first person present tense! AND THEN THEY LEAD A REVOLUTION -- and it is kind of a brilliant example of marketing misdirection because this book is actually very deliberately setting out not to do most of these things?

(It's also not in first person present tense. THANK GOODNESS. I don't know why first person past tense, such a little change, is so much better and more capable of conveying character, AND YET, SOMEHOW.

Also also, there are no sheeple, but there are asshole goats, which is as it should be. All goats are assholes.)

Like, OK, yes, Greta does live in a world controlled by a slightly psychotic AI, and the AI is going to kill her if her country goes to war for something that is out of her control, and that's crappy and pretty horrible for Greta and the other kids in her situation, specifically. But, I mean -- as a war deterrent, as a small sacrifice that makes it significantly less likely that millions of other people will die -- does it work? As a terrible thing, is it better or worse than many of the other fairly terrible things that happen in global geopolitics?

The book doesn't really have answers to these questions, it does not try to tell you where The Line Should Be Drawn, which is a thing I like. I like a great deal about this book. Not everything (gonna take a moment here to side-eye a little Erin Bow's occasionally lazy portrayals of some of international baby royals, especially Thandi, the Xhosa princess whose initial characterization largely consists of 'ALWAYS ANGRY'), but a lot about it, which I am trying to lay out without spoiling, because I think it's worth not spoiling. And worth reading! Come for the earnest and responsible baby royals, and the weird and loving and monstrous AIs, and the affectionate descriptions of farming, and the asshole goats, and the important relationships between women, and the actually really good Obligatory YA Love Triangle, like, you don't believe me now, I know, but I SWEAR TO YOU I DO NOT SAY THIS LIGHTLY, if you trust me you don't need to click this very spoilery spoiler-cut! but I will understand if you don't trust me )

(note: comments also have spoilers)

(no subject)

May. 2nd, 2016 08:01 am
skygiants: Beatrice from Much Ado putting up her hand to stop Benedick talking (no more than reason)
[personal profile] skygiants
My short story "Further Arguments In Support of Yudah Cohen's Proposal to Bluma Zilberman" is up today at Diabolical Plots!

Obviously death of the author and all that but nonetheless here are some word-of-God canonical facts:

1. Yudah's pronouns are he/him/his
2. Yudah is definitely much hotter than poor Hershel Schmulewitz (that blockhead)

(no subject)

Apr. 30th, 2016 03:47 pm
meganbmoore: (Default)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
I've started watching Goodbye Mr. Black, the still-airing kdrama based on an 80s manhwa that is loosely based on The Count of Monte Cristo. This somehow resulted in it being more recognizably Monte Cristo than most direct adaptations. I actually spent about a week trudging through the first episode in 5 and 10 minute increments until I hit about the 3/4 mark last night and I have now finished the 5th episode. I guess I just needed Moon Chae Won to show up.

I'm not overly invested in the revenge aspect yet, largely because I like Ji Won/Black (Dantes) well enough, but am not overly interested in him yet, but I like the characters and have liked a decent number of the actors in other things. More importantly, the male lead's assumed name is Black and the female lead's assumed name is Swan. The subtlety there is downright kethal. So very very subtle. He also gave her the name (her name was Kaya because she was found abandoned in a garbage pile in Thailand as a child and "Kaya" means "garbage" and he decided that wasn't ok) based on his nickname for his sister, " Ugly Duckling."

BUT MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY, as of episode 5, this is the 3rd kdrama I've watched in April in which "inexperienced but determined young reporter takes on impossibly huge and powerful opponent" is a plot point (this is actually pure coincidence aside from the "overlapping people who like them" part), though I doubt it'll be as central here as in Healer or Pinocchio. There was also a scene in episode 5 that was straight out of Healer with a bit of City Hunter thrown in. All that was missing was Park Min Young. The show can feel to have scenes straight out Healer anytime it wants. I suspect I may have been better off waiting until the show is finished to start watching, but South Korea seems to be largely over the "a tragic ending is the best ending 4 out of 5 times" thing.

As of this series, I've watched 4 complete kdramas and started 2 more that I intend to finish in April alone. And The Flower in Prison started today, though English subs arent out yet. I don't think I've ever had such a concentrated period of watching kdramas in the 12 or so years I've been watching them, even adjusting for the superlong sageuks I've watched. That said, given the shenanigans US-and, to a lesser degree, British- TV have been up to the last few months, and the lack of airing anime that I want to watch, it isn't really surprising.

(no subject)

Apr. 30th, 2016 11:25 am
skygiants: Chauvelin from the Scarlet Pimpernel looking enormously cranky (pissyface)
[personal profile] skygiants
I've talked about the brain-candy books I read and loved on my trip, so let's talk about one I didn't like so much: Shannon Hale's Austenland.

To be fair I was unfairly biased against Austenland from the beginning when the close-third narration made an offhand comment about loving all the books except Northanger Abbey which nobody likes like I was expected to agree and identify with it, when: how dare you, Northanger Abbey is a comic masterpiece and beautiful literary treasure.

Anyway, the basic premise of Austenland is: our heroine Jane has been Ruined for Real Love by the fact that no real humans can live up to her fantasies of Mr. Darcy, Ruined! So in her will her great-aunt leaves her an all-expenses-paid trip to a secret luxury Austen LARP where women can go to role-play out an Austen romance with hot paid actors in Regency costume.

Hypothetically, this premise could have been a pretty interesting exploration of the boundaries between fantasy and reality and the inherent weirdness and squickiness of role-playing out a romance with someone who's being paid to feign passionate suppressed Regency attraction, which ... is sort of what we get, except in the end it follows the same pattern of basically all prostitute romance: yes of course it's kind of gross for other people, but our protagonist, who is doing exactly the same thing as all the other women that she has withering contempt for that except we're in her head so we know that she's self-aware and ironical about it on the inside, manages to kindle TRUE LOVE in the heart of the jaded paid romance role-player! for the first time ever!! SHE'S DIFFERENT FROM ALL THE OTHERS, SHE MADE HIM BELIEVE.

OK, well, nice for you, but you definitely did not make me believe.

(Also, I wanted to take a drink every time the heroine is hanging out with the love interest, noticing his broodiness/sarcasm/lack of sociability/tendency to say condescending things, and thinking 'wow, so different from Mr. Darcy!' GIRL.)

The curse continues.

Apr. 29th, 2016 07:58 pm
meganbmoore: (stage door: AGONY!)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
I've been largely enjoying The Catch , the new Shondalandshow about a private investigator who starts hunting down her fiance after he reveals himself to be a conartist and steals her life savings. I had a lot of reservations but it was steadily growing on me. And then this week's episode came along and...

spoilers )

(no subject)

Apr. 26th, 2016 09:03 pm
meganbmoore: (bhool bhulaiyaa: window)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
I have largely enjoyed Indian Summers, the Channel 4 series about the last year's of the British Raj, but with enough reservations* that it isn't something I would widely recommend so much as give my input if someone asked about it. I've had problems with season 2 in general, largely in that there's a marked increase in violence towards women. Nowhere near the levels of certain other shows, but still.

The latest episode found my limit, though, and that limit is one of the main characters guilt trip his wife into letting a sleezeball rape her while pretending he's trying to protect her, all to get a recommendation for a job he only wants because his father said he should.

I'd say "sorry for spoiling any followers who watch," but some spoilers are a public service.

Apparently it was just announced that the series is officially cancelled, which would have left me disappointed a week ago, but not anymore.

*Mostly: it tries, and it seems aware of issues that plague most US and British fiction about the period, but it can't shake off the nostalgia enough, and with the exception of Aafrin and Sooni, it's clearly much much interested in the British characters as a whole than the Indian ones. There's also the huge issue of Aafrin's Indian love interests ultimately being proven treacherous and the very virtuous, blonde and white Alice being held up as the superior romantic option. (Please note that I say that having much fondness for Alice and generally liking Alice/Aafrin, but that doesn't make the treatment of Aafrin's other love interests any less problematic.)

(no subject)

Apr. 26th, 2016 05:54 pm
skygiants: C-ko the shadow girl from Revolutionary Girl Utena in prince drag (someday my prince will come)
[personal profile] skygiants
Apparently Anna Cowan's Untamed was Controversial in the Romance Novel Community, and to be honest the plot was total nonsense but I'm not gonna lie, I enjoyed the hell and a half out of it.

Untamed's hero is the Cold, Emotionally Tortured Bisexual Duke of Darlington, who has a lot of very public affairs, a harem of hot boys living in his house, and a death-wish. The heroine is impoverished, awkward, plain but extremely well-muscled Kit, currently living with her beautiful baby sister Lydia. Lydia has married a wealthy husband who loves Lydia very much but is big and shouty and regrettably triggers Kit and Lydia into remembering their abusive father; therefore, Lydia is avoiding her husband and banging Darlington. Kit has never met Darlington but thinks he is the worst in all ways. They meet, of course, when Darlington is at a party disguised as someone else.

DARLINGTON: So ... I heard Darlington was a MONSTER. Like, pure evil. Pure evil with an 8-pack.
KIT: lol as if. I heard Darlington was the worst in all ways but, like, stupid ways, you know? Very stupid ways.
DARLINGTON: I find you strangely intriguing.
KIT: Anyway, can't wait to meet Darlington and tell him to stop banging my sister or --
DARLINGTON: Or what? I mean, he's a duke and you're an impoverished young woman, so ...
KIT: -- OR ELSE, is what. I have muscles.
DARLINGTON: Hell yeah you do. *__*

But then Kit accidentally wanders in on Darlington seducing the party's hostess while secretly being not into it at all.

KIT: ...wow. WOW. Nobody should be pretending to be really into having sex with someone when they're not into it at all, it is offensive to everyone involved, that's gross and I'm DISGUSTED.
THE NEWSPAPERS: Darlington seduced the lady of the house, news at 11!
KIT: Also, whoa, that cute guy I was flirting with was Darlington? GROSS.

So Kit marches off to find Darlington and make him promise he'll lay off her baby sister!

DARLINGTON: Sure! I will leave town and leave your sister alone! .... if you take me back to the country with you and let me just like follow you around for a few months.
KIT: That seems like a weird, kind of contrived request.
DARLINGTON: Well, I'm a weird, kind of contrived sort of guy, as you may have noticed.
KIT: Uh, how you gonna work that without destroying my reputation? As you may have noticed, we are kind of sort of technically in something that might resemble the Regency era.
DARLINGTON: Because I'm gonna disguise myself as my beautiful cousin LADY ROSE and just spend the next couple months cross-dressed and fluttering around the countryside in beautiful gowns while leaning on your sexy, well-muscled arms!
KIT: ..... ............ ......................
DARLINGTON: Also I'm afraid of the dark so I'm going to have to sleep in your room with you like besties, is that cool?
DARLINGTON: Too late, I already said I wanted to in front of your mom and brother Tom, who think I'm your beautiful BFF, and you can't turn me down without making it weird!
KIT: oh my god, I hate you so much.
DARLINGTON: Is it because I'm so hot and delicate and you're worried about accidentally compelling me into having sex with you when I'm not really into it?

So Kit and Darlington spend a couple of months as roommies in the country, negotiating their power dynamics and various complex emotional issues resulting from abusive-parent backstories while Kit flexes her protective instincts and Darlington gets weak at the knees about Kit's strength and power and ability to coolly chop wood and butcher a pig, all very much in the constant-emotional-shattered-glass-mixed-with-points-of-high-hilarity vein of Authors Formatively Inspired By Dorothy Dunnett. However, this summary gets spoilery here )
meganbmoore: (hwang jin yi)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
Yesterday I watched the first episode of the 2008 series Iljimae and noticed that the child versions of the leads were played by Yeo Jin Goo and Kim Yoo Jung, who reunited 4 years later to play the child versions of the leads in The Moon Embracing the Sun. They were 10 and 8, I think, when making Iljimae and are so tiny and earnest and in danger of being devoured alive by their costumes that you could actually expire from the cuteness. I knew YJG was in The Royal Gambler since I watched some of it, but was curious about what KYJ was up to. And found out that KYH, who is currently 16, has an upcoming sageuk, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, in which she's apparently being romantically paired with 22 year old Park Bo Gum.Who is playing a historical figure who actually died at 20.) Much worse is Mirror of the Witch, in which 15 year old Kim Sae Ron is paired with 29 year old Yoon Shi Yoon.

In The Royal Gambler, I was doing a lot of sideeyeing over that fact that I was expected to believe that YJG's character is only a year younger than the character played by 28 year old Jang Geun Suk, and was involved in a love triangle with 25 year old Lim Ji Yeon (who, like YJG, plays a character pretty close to her actual age), though I wasn't overly worried as JGS/LJY was clearly the Official Pairing. What's going on in MDBC and MotW is a whole other matter.

KYJ is a very talented actress and I'm told KSR is too, though I haven't seen her in anything, and while I fully support giving young actresses good roles, I know for a fact that there are plenty of good actresses who know their ways around a sageuk who are in the early to mid-20s range. If they had their hearts set on these particular actresses, then there are also perfectly decent actors in the 16-20 range. Granted, the legal age of consent in South Korea is 13, and large age differences in actors isn't too unusual in sageuks, but it's usually a case of an actress in her early or mid-20s being paired with an actor in his 30s (there seems to be less of this in recent years, though, with the Flower Boy craze hitting sageuks), not someone who's too young to legally drive almost anywhere outside of North America being paired with someone much older than her.

(As far as the dramas themselves go...I lost interest in TRG, and MDBC was like Hwarang, where my watching would largely depend on my schedule once it starts, and if there are more women than it currently looks like. MotW is one I REALLY look forward too, plotwise, but I was always leery of the casting, though I didn't realize how big the age difference was until after the first trailer came out, so it will depend on what wins out once it starts.)

(no subject)

Apr. 25th, 2016 06:00 pm
skygiants: Nellie Bly walking a tightrope among the stars (bravely trotted)
[personal profile] skygiants
This weekend I was trying to explain Brat Farrar to [personal profile] genarti thusly: "It's sort of like what I imagine a Dick Francis novel is like? IT HAS LOTS OF HORSES IN IT."

[personal profile] genarti looked skeptical of the validity of this comparison, as indeed she might well, because, as you guys know, I have never in fact read a Dick Francis novel. But I liked Brat Farrar a lot so now my subconscious is probably going to be more warmly inclined towards Dick Francis in future.

Brat Farrar is one of those books where a conveniently missing-presumed-dead heir coincides with a convenient lookalike -- the titular Brat Farrar, a twenty-something horse-obsessed drifter who's been having a hard time finding work after an accident that gave him a permanent limp. Brat is discovered by an unscrupulous individual right as Simon Ashby, whose older twin Patrick fell off a cliff at the age of 13, is about to come of age and into Patrick's inheritance.

UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUAL: All you have to do is sashay in and say that you're Patrick and you ran away instead of throwing yourself off a cliff and it was all a misunderstanding! NOBODY WILL KNOW.
BRAT FARRAR: This sounds very unethical and I am very uninterested.
UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUAL: And then you would be come into all this money and be heir to the family's very lovely stables and --
BRAT FARRAR: ... wait hold the phone, did you say horses? Like, I could work in the stables?
UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUAL: Um, I mean, yes, you would own the stable, and also have giant pots of money, so ...
BRAT FARRAR: You have stumbled on the one temptation I cannot resist, LEAD ME TO THE HORSES IMMEDIATELY.

So Brat, with a few mild twinges of conscience, sails into the impersonation game and meets the rest of the family, including Original Patrick's aunt and three younger sisters, and discovers .... awkwardly .... that, with the exception of Charming But Resentful Fake Twin Simon, he actually really, really likes all of them ...... and they all really like him ...........

(In some cases, of course, a little too much:

BRAT: Hmmm, I wonder why it bugs me so much when my littlest fake sisters tell me that cool, pretty, clever, possibly even more horse-obsessed than me Fake Sister Eleanor might have a boyfriend ...?

And, you know, there is a mystery about what really happened to Original Patrick, and some suspense and maybe some attempted murder and so on, and all this is fun but really the stuff that's interesting about the book is this family, the conflict between Brat's increasing feelings like he does belong with this family (......except for the parts that are weird, DON'T MAKE IT WEIRD BRAT) and his underlying knowledge that his whole presence there is based on a lie. It's on both sides, too -- the other POV character besides Brat is Fake Patrick's Aunt Bee, who's been raising the kids for the past ten years, so you get to see the family's growing attachment to Fake Patrick through her, and what his return means to them; everyone is very sympathetic and it's super emotionally compelling.

Also there is a really fantastic horse that murders people for fun, I'm so fond of the murder horse.

(Things I'm less fond of: Josephine Tey's classism and the fact that, despite her many interesting female characters, she clearly considers girls who do not like horses to be a bit less sympathetic than girls who do, BUT YOU KNOW.)

icons: Devious Maids

Apr. 22nd, 2016 09:14 pm
meganbmoore: (dm: ot4 at pool)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
116 x Devious Maids

here )

(no subject)

Apr. 22nd, 2016 09:29 pm
skygiants: Audrey Hepburn peering around a corner disguised in giant sunglasses, from Charade (sneaky like hepburnninja)
[personal profile] skygiants
I think it was [personal profile] saramily who recommended the Heist Society books to me -- Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, and Perfect Scoundrels -- as fluffy caper vacation reads, and she was 100% correct, these are exactly the kinds of books I want to read on long plane rides when I haven't slept in twenty hours.

Kat, Our Heroine, is a weary, jaded former criminal who is tired of the life and is trying to go straight! But her past just won't let her go!

...because Kat is sixteen, 'trying to go straight' means 'enrolling in fancy boarding school.' Don't worry, it doesn't last. JUST WHEN SHE THINKS SHE'S OUT, THEY PULL HER BACK IN.

The series overall is basically like Ocean's Eleven starring a cast of criminal sixteen-year-olds. All the criminal sixteen-year-olds are independent jet-setting master thieves who hop cities on a moment's notice and have each pulled off approximately two dozen astoundingly successful crime jobs on their own. ALL OF THEM. 'But if they're only sixteen, when have they had time to learn how to --' Shhh, friends. SHHHH. These are not questions that need asking.

Every so often an adult appears briefly, to sternly tells the sixteen-year-olds that the criminal job is too big for them! their criminal parents/grandparents couldn't pull it off and NEITHER CAN THEY! time to try something low-key like conning the KGB!!! and then takes off again to allow the criminal sixteen-year-olds to return to their glamorous criminal lifestyle. Consistent adult supervision is for losers!

Besides Kat, characters include:

Hale, The Love Interest, a poor little rich boy who stumbled on Kat robbing his house once and then ran away from his unloving family to become a jet-setting international criminal
Simon, The Smart One, whose criminal skill is hacking things
Angus and Hamish, The Scottish Twins, whose criminal skill is blowing things up
Gabrielle, The Cool Cousin, whose criminal skill is being extremely hot

...I mean, Leverage it's not. (Not even when Kat decides to become an Ethical Criminal and, like, return art to Holocaust victims etc. who mostly never actually appear onscreen. I actually can't remember if anybody non-white appears onscreen either .... at all, ever. But I could be wrong on this, I'm not even sure if anybody's ethnicity is described at all except for Angus and Hamish, who are Definitely Very Scottish.) Anyway, all that said, it is fantastic beach reading.

(no subject)

Apr. 21st, 2016 08:49 pm
skygiants: Moril from the Dalemark Quartet playing the cwidder (composing hallelujah)
[personal profile] skygiants
Before starting in on the backlog of books I read while traveling and ... from before then (SO MANY), I probably should take the opportunity to mention This Is Jerusalem Calling: State Radio in Mandate Palestine, which I read towards the end of last year.

This is one of those nonfiction books for which the title is a lot more lyrical and evocative than most of the actual text -- the book is a history of the Palestine Broadcasting Service, which the BBC ran from 1936 up to the 1948 war, but unfortunately there does ... not appear to be a ton of information available to build a really compelling history of the other PBS. So the book is quite dry, and spends a great deal of time doing deep textual analysis on, for example, ads for radios in Arabic-language newspapers. Not that this isn't interesting in and of itself! Especially if you happen to be interested in/invested in the history of public broadcasting and telecommunications, which I do in fact happen to be, professionally. But grippingly readable it is not exactly.

The book is significantly more interested in the Arabic-language broadcasts than the Hebrew- and English-language broadcasts, which is a little too bad, because I'm quite curious about all three. It's arguing that the decisions that the BBC made to split off and separate out departments focused on Arabic-language programming and Hebrew-language programming contributed in part to the increasingly sharpening divides between those communities, which ... is probably not entirely untrue, although, I mean, if I were designing a radio station for three different linguistic communities I would probably be tempted to make a significant number of my programming decisions around language as well. Anyway I wouldn't say it was my most compelling nonfiction read of 2015 but I learned some things, though there is still much more that I would be happy to know about the Palestine Broadcasting Service.

(Also, as always, history like this makes me want more spec-fic and historical fiction and adventure stories about broadcasting and radio and pirate radio. Such a rich vein, so little mined! Voices in the dark!)

(no subject)

Apr. 20th, 2016 08:47 pm
meganbmoore: (city hunter: but it's only ep 2!!)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 As part of my mostly-unintentional non-sageuk kdrama binge (I've watched the entirety of Liar Game, Healer, and Descendants of the Sun this month, and will hopefully write substantially about them soon. Especially Healer and mental disabilities) I've started watching Pinocchio (the title comes from a fictional condition in the show where there are people who can't even tell little white lies or exagerate without hiccupping) and it certainly has the most CREATIVE take on kdramaland's fondness for fakecest that I've seen.

The male lead, Dal Po is adopted by an old man with dementia who mistakes him for his dead first son, and records him in the family register as his son. The female lead, In Ha, is the old man's granddaughter, making her future boyfriend be her legal uncle. Awkward.

As a sidenote, I am deeply confused as to why Dal Po has a hideous shaggy wig when they're teenagers (where I am now) but gets a haircut as an adult, whereas, based on images I've seen, In Ha has the same hairstyle at 25 as she had at 15. Why must one lead require a hideous wig so that he'll look different as an adult when the other doesn't? (I'm ok with being very shallow here.)


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