rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2014-04-19 16:09

Every Day, by David Levithan

Every day, A wakes up in the body of a new person. They are always sixteen, and always within a certain geographical range of each other. Everything else varies. It began when A was an infant. Eventually A started counting days, and is now into the 6000s.

A has always lived like this, cultivating philosophical detachment and a non-interference policy. A can access their hosts’ memories, and uses this to go through the paces of their host bodies’ lives, trying to leave everything exactly as they found it. Until A lands in the body of a complete asshole of a teenage boy named Justin, who has a girlfriend named Rhiannon. And A falls in love.

I’ve seen this premise, or something similar to it, a couple times before. The version closest to this one was a short story by Greg Egan called “The Safe-Deposit Box.” But the TV shows Quantum Leap and, to a lesser degree, Touched by an Angel, also played with this concept. It’s a great concept.

Overall, I liked the book. It has fantastic narrative drive and, as I said, a terrific concept. This review will sound more critical than I actually felt reading it; its flaws are interesting and worth discussing, so I’m going to spend more time on them than on what I liked. But seriously, it’s generally very good and if the premise sounds at all interesting, you should read it.

The biggest problem I had with it is that I was interested in the other lives, and in the question of how much a life could change in a single day. I was not very caught up in the love story. And the book is more about the love story. Especially by the halfway mark, A often completely ignores the body they’re inhabiting in favor of obsessing over how they were going to get to see Rhiannon (the logistics of finding transportation to her take up a large percentage of page time), and this was the opposite of what I was interested in.

Rhiannon never came to life as a character, nor did I ever see what she and A saw in each other. She’s a generic quirky girl. I kept thinking there was going to be some reveal about what in her past or current life was keeping her stuck in a borderline emotionally abusive relationship with Justin, when the latter has no apparent redeeming qualities whatsoever. But there isn’t one. She’s the object of desire, and that’s it.

I completely believe that in A’s situation, they would be obsessive and stalkery about a love interest – for one thing, some degree of stalking is required to get to know anyone at all, at least in the beginning. That being said, A was obsessive and stalkery and it didn’t make me root for their relationship.

The non-interference policy was frustrating because A was so inconsistent about it. In one quite vivid scene, A goes through agony in an addict’s body because A refuses to do drugs. (Why won’t A do drugs? I can think of lots of reasons, but A never says why. The conclusion I came to was that Levithan didn’t want to depict drug-taking.) But later, A is extremely reluctant to stop their host from committing suicide. Why is that verboten, but making a host’s body go through painful withdrawal isn’t even considered interference?

What I liked best about the book – the snapshots of all the different lives – also had some holes in it. A only speaks English, and must slowly rifle through a host’s memories to respond even haltingly and in a few words in any other language. If A has been this way since they were a baby, wouldn’t they have absorbed at least a couple other common languages? How could A have possibly cycled into multiple bodies whose language they didn’t know over a period of sixteen years without anyone ever noticing?

Late in the book, A wakes up in an obese body. Alone among all the many incarnations, A is grossed out by the body and gets no sense of the body’s interior life, apparently due to its fatness. Seriously? That’s where A and their infinite experience draws the line? I can see that it was important for A to meet Rhiannon in a body she was turned off by, but there were better ways to do it. (Like a body that bore a very strong resemblance to someone she hated, or to one of her relatives. Squick!)

I also ended up wanting A to experience their lives as more different. Many of them blend together and start seeming very similar. A may have no gender and no race, but people react very differently depending on one’s gender and race, and many other factors besides. I wanted A to notice that more, so they could adjust their behavior accordingly. A poor black boy, a middle-class Asian girl, a white girl in a wheelchair, and a middle-class white boy may have different experiences doing something as everyday as driving a car (a remarkable number of their teenage hosts conveniently had cars) or buying a soda from a convenience store.

And while I’m bitching: there was a subplot that got ought to have been extremely interesting (one of the hosts realized that they were a host and went after A) but was taken over by “evangelicals are idiots.” This was especially frustrating since it led to a fascinating plot revelation that could have taken the book in a whole new direction… about one chapter before the book ended. I wish that had been where that storyline had started.

Oh, and A didn’t sound like a teenager at all. A sounded like Chicken Soup for the Soul. I could buy that due to the circumstances of A’s life, but all the not-terribly-deep life wisdom sometimes got a bit much.

As I said, despite all these qualms, I did enjoy reading the book. It zips along, and I was always excited to get to the next day and the next body. Flawed but definitely worth reading.

Every Day
rachelmanija: (Default)
2014-04-04 09:39

Help a friend! Buy a quilt!

Check out this auction for a gorgeous handmade quilt to benefit an unemployed friend of mine.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2014-03-21 10:52

Pen Pal, by Francesca Forrest

A young girl in a floating community off the Gulf Coast throws a message in a bottle into the ocean, and it makes its way across the world, to a political prisoner in solitary confinement on a platform suspended over a lake of fire.

Letters travel back and forth, through the ocean and the post office and fishing boats, through mass media and tied to the leg of a crow. Em, the girl, confides in Kaya her worries about her older brother, who’s in jail for theft. Kaya, the activist, tries to explain her complex political situation in terms a child can understand. They tell each other about the folklore and culture of their communities, which are both under threat, Kaya’s from the government which has banned her language and religion, Em’s from a hurricane and an uncaring larger community.

Em tries to reach her brother and hold her family together; Kaya comes under increasing pressure to stop— or enable— a revolution. Worlds apart, each of them looks for the power to help the other, even if neither can help themselves.

Water and fire, ocean currents and rivers of lava, the Seafather who watches over those who live on the ocean and the Ruby Lady of the volcano, creatures of air and earth and sea, two communities in danger of losing their culture, all come together in this intricate and compelling story, like a pair of hands reaching out toward each other from ten thousand miles away.

The author is a friend of mine, but this unique, moving, sophisticated novel would be up my alley regardless. It’s not quite sui generis; its setting, magical realism, and one of its two heroines reminded me of the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, and its melding of political themes with an edge-of-fantasy quality reminded me of Sherman Alexie and Banana Yoshimoto and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. But it was sufficiently difficult to classify that it could not find a publisher, and so became one of the increasingly large number of self-published gems.

It’s free on Amazon for the weekend as a special promotion. Check it out.

Pen Pal, by Francesca Forrest
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2014-03-17 11:02

Genre romance recommendations: No assholes or ingenues allowed

Please recommend some M/F genre romance novels which break the conventional wisdom on the rules of the genre. I'm particularly interested in recent books, like published within the last 5-10 years.

(Genre romance = books published as romance novels. Books which contain a love story but were published as something else, such as science fiction, are not what I'm looking for as they have different rules.)

1. Books where the romantic lead is not an asshole. He doesn't domineer over, sneer at, have contempt for, dismiss, try to control, blackmail, kidnap, or try to rape the heroine, EVER. If he starts out doing so and then reforms, he's still an asshole and the book is disqualified.

2. Books where the hero is not an "alpha male." That is, he's not cocky, not wealthy, not domineering or controlling, doesn't have a traditionally manly occupation, isn't aggressive, has some traditionally feminine interests, etc. (For instance, the hero of Cotillion.)

3. Any "bad girl/good boy" romance.

4. Any books where the heroine has traits or an occupation which are traditionally masculine. Lots of contemporary romance novels have heroines who are professionals, businesswomen, etc - I don't mean that. A heroine who is a criminal, a military helicopter pilot (Suzanne Brockmann did that), or has "alpha male" traits herself would be unusual. Or a heroine who's had lots of sex previously, enjoyed it, and doesn't feel guilty about it.

5. Any books where the hero is sexually submissive and/or the heroine is sexually dominant, and that's not the entire point of the book. (ie, not Natural Law, where that's the entire premise. Suzanne Brockmann's Dark of Night would count, since there's lots going on other than Decker getting off on Tracy giving him orders.)

6. Any books which have an unusual level of questioning of gender roles, characters with serious previous relationships that didn't end in death or misery, books where the hero and heroine are completely equal and he never dominates her, books where the hero and heroine have actual cultures and religions (and that's not the entire point of the book), etc.

They don't have to hit all these points, just some. But if, for instance, the heroine is a thief but the hero is an asshole, or the hero is a sweet computer geek but the heroine is a naive virgin, please say so.
rachelmanija: (Default)
2014-03-05 17:08

Department of Misheard Lyrics

I just now discovered that the lyrics in Sting's Fields of Gold are about fields of barley and not, as I had always thought, fields of parting, like lovers parted by fate. As in,

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley

I can't decide if my misheard lyrics are more poetic or more clunkily on-the-nose.
rachelmanija: (Naruto: Super-energized!)
2014-03-04 10:53

Stranger is up at Amazon

If you were to pre-order the hardcover and then get pregnant, it and the baby would arrive at about the same time. Check out the gorgeous cover, if you haven't already!
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2014-02-24 10:24
Entry tags:

We have a cover!

Pretty, isn't it? Could someone iconize it for me?

stranger-trim3-final
rachelmanija: (Default)
2014-01-09 15:50

Note and movie question

Hi, guys,

Sorry to bail without notice! Things have been unexpectedly busy. (No, that is not code for "paged to mass shooting.") I will probably move most of the meme questions to next month, when hopefully I will actually have time to answer them.

In the meantime, I have a question for you all. I need a MOVIE that fits the following criteria. Please read the criteria carefully.

1. Very well-known in America. Either recent and well-known, or, if older, extremely well-known and, ideally, iconic. The sort of movie where even if you've never seen it, you know roughly what it's about.

2. The protagonist's primary (archetypal) attribute is persuasiveness. Someone who is known for being quick-witted, tricksy, intelligent, fast-talking, etc. I'm NOT looking for one of the many action heroes who also do wisecracks, but someone whose primary weapon or tool is their tongue. Miles Vorkosigan would qualify if he was in a movie; Indiana Jones wouldn't. Criminals and antiheroes are fine if they're the main character rather than a wisecracking antagonist.

3. Ideally this character should be female. If female, however, make sure they're known for persuasiveness rather than sexiness. They should be talking people into other places than bed. No characters who are persuasive but only in the course of seducing someone.

4. To sum up: A) Movie. B) Extremely well-known in America. C) Main character is known for fast talking. D) Ideally, main character is female (but not a seductress.)
rachelmanija: (Default)
2014-01-09 10:39

Donate to my blog! Help put me through college!

I am currently enrolled in an expensive graduate program at Antioch University, to get an MA in clinical psychology with a specialty in Trauma. I intend to become a psychotherapist specializing in survivors of trauma, such as child abuse, domestic violence, war, serious accidents or illness, secondary trauma (such as police, war reporters, even trauma therapists), and so forth.

This degree will enable me to help others, and have a satisfying career for myself. It may enable me to write books on the subject. While I am in school, I have been honing my skills and amusing you by diagnosing fictional characters.

If you would like to help support me in all or any of those endeavors, I have put up this "donate" button.






rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2014-01-07 00:02

YA fantasy and sf novels with major or main LGBTQ Characters

Note: This is a list of all novels which fit the criteria described below. It does not express opinions on the quality, authenticity, or positivity of the portrayals of the characters in the books. Please use your own judgment in deciding which books you wish to read or buy.

I have not read all these books! Commentary on the ones I have read reflects my opinions on the books as literature. Title links go to Amazon, and some descriptions were taken from Amazon.

These were the criteria used to compile the list: 1) The book must be science fiction or fantasy or otherwise not realism, and must have been published, either originally in reprint, as YA (Vanyel was never published as YA), 2) It must contain at least one major LGBTQ character who is clearly identified as such within the book itself. (Dumbledore is not; neither are Tom and Carl), 3) Major is defined as having a POV and/or a storyline of their own and/or lots of page-time. 4) In most cases, it must be published by a mainstream or small-press publisher in the USA.

Books in which the protagonist is LGBTQ are marked with a star.

I made this list because less than one percent of all YA novels published in the USA within the last ten years have any LGBTQ characters at all, even minor supporting ones. Of those few novels, most are mainstream literature, not sf or fantasy.

I have not specified the authors' sexual orientation or gender identity. This list is about characters rather than authors, and I don't know how all the authors identify.

Check out the list! )
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2014-01-06 20:39

YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels with Protagonists who are Non-White/People of Color

Note: This is a list of all novels which fit the criteria listed below. It does not express opinions on the quality, authenticity, or positivity of the portrayals of the characters in the books. Please use your own judgment in deciding which books you wish to read or buy.

I have not read all these books! My commentary on the ones I have read reflects my opinions on the books as literature. Title links go to Amazon, and some descriptions were taken from Amazon.

These were the criteria used to compile the list: 1) The book must be science fiction or fantasy or otherwise not realism, and must have been published, either originally or in reprint, as YA in the USA, 2) The character of color/non-white character must either be the protagonist, if it’s a book with a solo protagonist, or one of an ensemble, if it’s a book with multiple protagonists.

This is not an exhaustive list! It is still being added to, and will continue to be as new books come out. Please let me know if I missed something. Also see Stacy Whitman's list, which includes more middle-grade books (for younger children) than I did. (I’ve included a few MG books I thought were edging into YA territory – subjective, I know!)

I have not always specified the protagonist's race. In some cases, the book was suggested by someone else and I don't know; in others, the characters are described in ways which would be considered non-white on our world, but come from a world in which our racial categories don't apply. I have generally not specified the race of the authors, because this list focuses on characters. Also, in many cases, I don't know how the authors identify. This list is intended merely as a starting point. If you wish to have more information before reading a book, further research should turn it up.

Click to read the list! )
rachelmanija: (Default)
2014-01-06 08:50

YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels with Protagonists who are Non-White/People of Color, N-Z

Note: This is a list of all novels which fit the criteria listed below. It does not express opinions on the quality, authenticity, or positivity of the portrayals of the characters in the books. Please use your own judgment in deciding which books you wish to read or buy.

I have not read all these books! My commentary on the ones I have read reflects my opinions on the books as literature. Title links go to Amazon, and some descriptions were taken from Amazon.

These were the criteria used to compile the list: 1) The book must be science fiction or fantasy or otherwise not realism, and must have been published, either originally or in reprint, as YA in the USA, 2) The character of color/non-white character must either be the protagonist, if it’s a book with a solo protagonist, or one of an ensemble, if it’s a book with multiple protagonists.

This is not an exhaustive list! It is still being added to, and will continue to be as new books come out. Please let me know if I missed something. Also see Stacy Whitman's list, which includes more middle-grade books (for younger children) than I did. (I’ve included a few MG books I thought were edging into YA territory – subjective, I know!)

I have not always specified the protagonist's race. In some cases, the book was suggested by someone else and I don't know; in others, the characters are described in ways which would be considered non-white on our world, but come from a world in which our racial categories don't apply. I have generally not specified the race of the authors, because this list focuses on characters. Also, in many cases, I don't know how the authors identify. This list is intended merely as a starting point. If you wish to have more information before reading a book, further research should turn it up.

Click to read the list! )
rachelmanija: (Default)
2014-01-05 17:53
Entry tags:

YA SF and Fantasy Novels with Protagonists Who Are Non-White/People of Color, N-Z

Note: This is a list of all novels which fit the criteria listed below. It does not express opinions on the quality, authenticity, or positivity of the portrayals of the characters in the books. Please use your own judgment in deciding which books you wish to read or buy.

I have not read all these books! My commentary on the ones I have read reflects my opinions on the books as literature. Title links go to Amazon, and some descriptions were taken from Amazon.

These were the criteria used to compile the list: 1) The book must be science fiction or fantasy or otherwise not realism, and must have been published, either originally or in reprint, as YA in the USA, 2) The character of color/non-white character must either be the protagonist, if it’s a book with a solo protagonist, or one of an ensemble, if it’s a book with multiple protagonists.

This is not an exhaustive list! It is still being added to, and will continue to be as new books come out. Please let me know if I missed something. Also see Stacy Whitman's list, which includes more middle-grade books (for younger children) than I did. (I’ve included a few MG books I thought were edging into YA territory – subjective, I know!)

I have not always specified the protagonist's race. In some cases, the book was suggested by someone else and I don't know; in others, the characters are described in ways which would be considered non-white on our world, but come from a world in which our racial categories don't apply. I have generally not specified the race of the authors, because this list focuses on characters. Also, in many cases, I don't know how the authors identify. This list is intended merely as a starting point. If you wish to have more information before reading a book, further research should turn it up.

Click to read the list! )
rachelmanija: (Default)
2014-01-05 12:08

Month Meme

So, obviously I'm a little behind. Things got busy. Some questions will be moved into next month, at my discretion.
rachelmanija: (Default)
2014-01-05 12:01
Entry tags:

YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels with Protagonists who are Non-White/People of Color: N-Z

Note: This is a list of all novels which fit the criteria listed below. It does not express opinions on the quality, authenticity, or positivity of the portrayals of the characters in the books. Please use your own judgment in deciding which books you wish to read or buy.

I have not read all these books! My commentary on the ones I have read reflects my opinions on the books as literature. Title links go to Amazon, and some descriptions were taken from Amazon.

These were the criteria used to compile the list: 1) The book must be science fiction or fantasy or otherwise not realism, and must have been published, either originally or in reprint, as YA in the USA, 2) The character of color/non-white character must either be the protagonist, if it’s a book with a solo protagonist, or one of an ensemble, if it’s a book with multiple protagonists.

This is not an exhaustive list! It is still being added to, and will continue to be as new books come out. Please let me know if I missed something. Also see Stacy Whitman's list, which includes more middle-grade books (for younger children) than I did. (I’ve included a few MG books I thought were edging into YA territory – subjective, I know!)

I have not always specified the protagonist's race. In some cases, the book was suggested by someone else and I don't know; in others, the characters are described in ways which would be considered non-white on our world, but come from a world in which our racial categories don't apply. I have generally not specified the race of the authors, because this list focuses on characters. Also, in many cases, I don't know how the authors identify. This list is intended merely as a starting point. If you wish to have more information before reading a book, further research should turn it up.

Click to read the list! )
rachelmanija: (Default)
2014-01-02 15:04

A month of questions: Best Recent Food Discovery

I am writing to order for the monthly question meme. There are a few slots left, if anyone has anything else they'd like to know or think would be amusing to see me write about.

[personal profile] oyceter, unsurprisingly, asked about my best recent food discovery. That would be New Orleans cuisine! My parents and I visited New Orleans last month, and stayed in an apartment in the Marigny (rhymes with "marry me," more or less) where we could stroll and admire the cool little houses with lace-like trim, painted in bright colors.

But mostly, we ate. The food completely lived up to expectations. Everything we ate was good, even completely random little neighborhood restaurants. We were sadly unable to make reservations at Cochon, but it did become a running joke that were eating like cochons.

As everyone suggested, we had beignets at Cafe du Monde, with chicory coffee. I'm not sure I really tasted the chicory; it mostly tasted like strong, somewhat bitter coffee. Maybe the bitterness was the chicory? The beignets, little fried dough pillows, were nicely doughy on the inside, covered in an avalanche of powdered sugar. We also had beignets elsewhere, but I liked the Cafe du Monde ones the best.

I had several po boys, of which my favorite was the crawfish at, IIRC, Acme Oyster House. I was very impressed with the bread in general, which is a sort of French loaf, but very light and fluffy, with a crust almost the texture of a creme brulee top; it shatters when you bite into it. The crawfish were very lightly breaded and fried, not at all heavy or greasy, with some lettuce and exactly enough dressing (a spicy mayo) for flavor and moisture, without anything getting soggy.

Another great meal, though not specific to New Orleans - lots of restaurants in LA serve this type of Asian fusion food - was at the Three Muses, with live music and an amazingly good appetizer of pork belly on a scallion pancake.

However, my single favorite thing was the shrimp and tasso Henican appetizer at Commander's Palace.

Commander's Palace in general also lived up to my rather high expectations. It was in a gorgeous converted house dating back to the 1800s, which reminded me of an old riverboat. The service there was the best I have ever experienced in my life - one of the few times when I've ever enjoyed the service for its own sake. Let me put it this way: I was offered a black napkin because I was wearing a black dress. It was very old-school, but fun rather than stuffy. Our waitress was introduced as "Miss Margaret," which made me expect an old lady in lace. She was actually a young, enthusiastic foodie with opinions on the entire menu.

I had been vaguely expecting the food to be rich but more delicately flavored, I think because I associate restraint with formality. The flavors were actually very bold, which I prefer. The shrimp and tasso Henican consisted of perfectly cooked shrimp skewered on crispy ham, in a sweet-spicy-tangy-hot sauce that made me want to lick the plate. (The wine waiter helpfully produced a basket of bread for sopping purposes.) If I'd been in New Orleans by myself, I would have gone back the next day and just had the shrimp for lunch.

We also had a mini-serving of three soups, gumbo, turtle, and apple-squash. All were good, but the turtle was fantastic, served with a splash of sherry poured on tableside. It was thick and murky, distinctly reminiscent of the river from whence the turtle probably came, with strands of mysterious greens and shreds of meat, rich and complex and tangy. The famous bread pudding was also good, more of a souffle, very light, not overly sweet.

I left a little bummed at LA's lack of turtles, crawfish, po boys, and this style of cooking in general.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2014-01-01 14:57

Yuletide Reveal!

I wrote three stories this year, in Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards” series, C. L. Moore’s Northwest Smith, and Stephen King’s The Stand.

My assignment was in the fandom I had most hoped to be matched on, Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards,” which I’d recently re-read. It’s about con men in fantasyland, full of lovely worldbuilding details and dialogue straight out of The Sopranos. The gang consists of Locke Lamora, the brains of the outfit with a penchant for over-complicated melodrama; Jean Tannen, previously a soft merchant’s son, who discovers a gift for fighting; and Calo and Galdo Sanza, sidekick twins.

My recipient, Labellementeuse, requested the time period where they’re all teenagers under the mostly-benevolent mentorship of Father Chains, a real priest masquerading as a fake one. She also requested Jean’s POV, a focus on the Locke-Jean relationship, and to see what Jean sees in Locke. I thought that was a great prompt: not too detailed, not too vague.

I wrote The Goddess of Suffering Scam. No canon knowledge needed beyond what I just told you, and it’s not spoilery for the books. The self-flagellating apparatus was Sherwood Smith’s suggestion, and in my opinion it completely makes the story.

Northwest Smith is lush, vivid space opera from the 1930s, featuring Northwest Smith, a tall Earthman with colorless eyes whose stoic exterior conceals some interesting psychological vulnerabilities, and his partner, Yarol the Venusian, a cheerfully amoral young man who looks like an angel and is constantly rescuing Smith from soul-sucking space vampires.

Last year I requested it, and got an amazing story, Ithaka, or, the Moons of Jupiter from Quillori. This year she requested it herself. Her letter was so charming that it ought to be read in full. (One note here about slash - I know Smith/Yarol is a popular reading, if anything can be said to be popular in such a tiny, almost non-existent fandom. And it's not as though I have any objection in theory - Smith does spend an awful lot of time noticing how gorgeous Venusians are in general and Yarol in particular - but I have a hard time reading Smith as anything other than straight, or perhaps not straight exactly - I can imagine him having friendly, casual sex with Yarol on a regular basis - but we spend enough time in his viewpoint that it really does seem to me his type, or what he genuinely believes is his type, is women (women, or possibly eldritch abominations and dark gods - with whom, frankly, he appears to have more success). )

Quillori wanted a story starring Yarol and focusing on worldbuilding, saying that often her favorite part of the story was when they were wandering around alien worlds and the plot hadn’t actually started yet. I thought that was a wonderful prompt, and wrote Strangler’s Veil. No canon knowledge needed beyond what I just told you.

Finally, [personal profile] kore and I co-wrote West, for Stephen King’s The Stand.

The novel is post-apocalyptic, a huge, sprawling, vivid narrative with a memorable ensemble cast. Toward the end, four of the characters— all men— go on a quest to save the world. Maidenjedi’s prompt was, “What if the women went instead?”

Cut for length and spoilers for both our story and The Stand. If you’re thinking of reading our story, please do so before reading the author notes. If you haven’t read The Stand, I don’t think our story will be comprehensible.

Read more... )
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
2013-12-28 12:07

Yuletide Recs, Part II

If you enjoy these stories or others, please do comment if you have anything to say. Perhaps because of reading on smartphones, commenting on stories is way, way down this year.

Reccing also seems way down, not to mention hard to find since it was taken off the yuletide com and moved to yuletide-recs. I am still seeing way, way more rec lists on individual LJs that are not crossposted anywhere, which is frustrating because the only way I can then find rec lists is by endlessly trawling through the friends list of the yuletide com. If you feel so moved, rec lists are nice and cross-posting them to yuletide-recs would make me happy.

Here's some more stories I liked a lot:

No Unworthy Aim. J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Hook should, perhaps, have died in England and awoken in Hell. Instead, he died in Neverland and awoke in the trenches of 1916 France.

A grown-up Wendy turns her maternal instincts to nursing, and meets Hook in Craiglockhart. Not actually grimdark, despite the premise. Unlike a lot of revisionist stories, it doesn't trash or eliminate the sweet (or, in this case, twee) elements of the original, but fuses them to the darker aspects imported from reality. It's a great concept, beautifully executed. I was wondering for a while if Peter Pan would make an appearance, but then I realized that he was there already: an entire generation of boys who will never grow up.

Fragile. Onmyouji (the movie.) I think all you need to know about the canon is that it's a fantasy Heian Japan, Abe no Seimei is a magician and the son of a kitsune, and Hiromasa is his perpetually befuddled sidekick with whom he has an extremely slashy relationship. Using a highly appropriate seasonal structure, this story runs them through an entire sequence of hurt-comfort tropes. It's id-tastic, sweet, funny, and generally delicious.

Folly to be Wise. Ben Aaronovitch's "Rivers of London" series. You probably need to know the books to appreciate this story, but it's a perfect little casefic of Peter, Lesley, and Nightingale investigating a haunting.

Carrefour. A novellette-length sequel to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, featuring the return of Anaesthesia, the rat-speaker girl. It's very funny, in the style of the book, and has great pace, lots of good character moments, and some cool worldbuilding.

Their Tragedy. Revolutionary Girl Utena. A strange, funny yet dark, metafictional story for a strange, funny yet dark, metafictional anime. It's the story of the shadow girls who function as the chorus. Requires canon knowledge.

Carry Your Men, and Their Dead Too. Justified. Three cops, one of them wounded, have been kidnapped and locked up with nearly nothing but a deck of cards; they start playing poker for very unusual stakes. I feel a little strange reccing this, since I'm not familiar with the canon and I'm sure half of it went over my head, but I started reading this and loved it despite being only vaguely familiar with the TV show via osmosis. If the show is anything like the story, it just jumped to the top of my to-watch list.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
2013-12-26 06:44

Yuletide Recs, Part I

This Yuletide there was some debate over whether rec lists should be linked at the [community profile] yuletide com, or at a new com called [profile] yuletide_recs; perhaps due to the confusion, most people seem to be posting recs on their own LJs/DWs and not linking anywhere. You can post links at either com! Please post links! I enjoy reading rec lists (and then reading stories), and this year the only way I've found most rec lists is by laboriously trawling through the "friends of" [community profile] yuletide com.

My gift story was Vocation, from Vonda McIntyre's novel Dreamsnake, about a post-apocalyptic doctor who uses genetically engineered snakes to heal people. Not only was the story moving and filled with intriguing worldbuilding, but it was about the costs and rewards of being a healer. It was amazingly apropos to get right after I began as a trainee trauma therapist, and doubly so because I am pretty sure my writer doesn't know me personally. Note: contains detailed descriptions of dissecting a human cadaver - the heroine is in post-apocalyptic medical school.

Steal My Breath. Like clockwork, every year Yuletide produces at least one excellent story based on that most unlikely of canons, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. This short story (under 1K words, in Madness) has all the wordplay and references and recursiveness and sorrow of the original

The Red-Hot Brawling Sun. Gorgeous, clever, poetic fantasy based on the legend of Stagger Lee.

Zack Don't Surf. From Max Brooks' novel World War Z, an oral history of the zombie apocalypse. The story doesn't require canon knowledge; absolutely in the style of the book, it's an interview with a woman who works a surf patrol hunting zombies. The author's note mentions that it's based on their own home town, and you can tell: the details and setting feel absolutely real, lending the more poignant zombie apocalypse tropes a certain gravitas which goes surprisingly well with a story about surfer zombie slayers.

Damask Roses. Code Name Verity, Julie/Maddie, post-novel and hugely spoilery for the novel. Love and compromises and friendship, things that are ambiguous and things that are not. Sensual and touching. It made me cry.

Khamsin. Ursula Le Guin's The Tombs of Atuan The teenage priestess Arha seeks solace with young fellow priestess Penthe. (I always did ship them.) Sensual and beautifully written.

To end on a subtle, elegant, classy note, The Not Entirely Accurate Chronicle of John Polidori, Genius Physician and Brilliant Writer, and His Rather Less Distinguished Companions. That infamous Geneva trip, retold a la "Secret Diaries," with extremely accurate character tags including "Lord Byron's Dog" and "Lord Byron's Penis." I laughed. A lot.

I wrote three stories this Yuletide, which under the circumstances was some sort of Yuletide miracle. Feel free to guess in comments if you think you spotted one.