Media and pop culture mentioned in The Cipher by Kathe Koja
(In order of appearance, except where references reoccur; including just about all media, but probably not exhaustive.)
From the epigraph: “Mukade”, Shikatsube no Magao (poem); Rick Lieder (author)
Wise Blood, Flannery O'Conner (novel); later, “The Enduring Chill”, Flannery O'Conner (short story)
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (mentioned multiple times, including: the Rabbit Hole, the White Queen)
Artists: Paul Klee, Francis Bacon, Hieronymus Bosch; The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch (mentioned in specific later)
The Twilight Zone (television)
Weekly World News (tabloid)
Tabu (perfume) (some aspects of this list are weirdly exhaustive)
Films: Streetgirls II, Dead Giveaway, Dogs Gone Wild (cursory searching and common sense indicate these are fictional); later, also fictional: Booby Prizes, Mommy’s Little Massacre
Faces of Death, dir. Conan LeCilaire (film)
Wild Kingdom (television)
Art Now (magazine)
Artists: Caldwell (can’t pin down who this is), Richard deVore (Malcom’s mask is compared to these)
“Borscht Belt (Jewish comedy) parody of Hamlet (Shakespeare) doing humble”
The New Testament: Peter on the water; the Old Testament: Shadrach
Romper Room (television)
Author: Ben Hecht; in the final epigraph: “Love is a hole in the heart.”
Vulcan (Roman mythology)
(Obliquely) Inferno, Dante Alighieri
Phantom of the Opera(’s face and mask)
“Saints and idiots, angels and children.” (“It’s a quote, you dipshit.” From where? I don’t know! Enlighten me.)
I started recording media mentioned in books
But, more often, narratives about narratives do one or both of these things:
The references create a palate. I've described The Cipher's atmosphere and aesthetic as "thriftstore decadence" and the characters as "gritty dirty poor horror-kids," but what describes it better is the book's references: Alice's rabbithole as metaphor for the Funhole, the grotesque art prints cut from art magazines, Flannery O'Conner's heartless black humor and the parody-titled sensationalist films; the combination of sleazy and Weird is never meant to be pleasant, but it has as strong an atmosphere as the most stylized, idealized fiction.
The narrative not only extends itself to contain the referenced material, but builds a whole greater than the sum of the references. Reader, I adore this: texts played against each other, narratives that address the reader/writer/character meta-relationship. This was what made Fire and Hemlock, Dianna Wynne Jones, so exceptional. Polly spends most of the novel internalizing, creating herself around Tom Lynn, but he also challenges her when she merely regurgitates the influences he throws her wayTom Lynn's creation of Polly extends so far that he demands that she create herself, a contradiction they must both confront in the denouement. Fire and Hemlock borrows structures and dynamics that Polly is unaware of (Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot; Cupid and Psyche); it's about the dozens of books that she reads and internalizes; it's about the story that she turns around and writes herself, and about the necessity and limitation of the inspiration she's taken from what she's read. And it's so good.
Most examplesoften the best examplesdo all of these things. In Catherynne M. Valente's engaging The Labyrinth, some references are in Latin; the fantastic The Game of Kings, Dorothy Dunnett, made me read it with google in one hand and book in the other. Both are exhausting, both are worthwhile. Caitlín R. Kiernan is (obviously) my favorite, because in this way her brain works like mine: her stories are a web of narrative influence, mentioned by name and date or casually misquoted; the way I process wolves/werewolves/black dogs is how her protagonists process their experiences, from their ancient failed romances to their trespasses into the bizarre: these external narratives have become their internal metaphors, necessary tools for interpreting the world. The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl in particular are stories about telling stories, by necessity, imperfectly.
(And all of that is who I am, and what I do.)
Thursday July 09
8:00 PM CR The Games We Play.
Erik Amundsen, Yoon Ha Lee, Alex Shvartsman, Romie Stott (leader), Gregory Wilson.
Video games and tabletop games are an influential part of our imaginative lives. Are there times when you're reading a book and feel the game mechanics too clearly beneath the prose? Or do you enjoy imagining what a character's stats might look like? We'll look at tie-in books (like R.A. Salvatore's Chronicles of Drizzt and David Gaider's Dragon Age prequels), book-based games (like The Black Cauldron, Lord of the Rings, and the Mists of Avalon–influenced Conquests of Camelot), and the pleasure of reading gaming sourcebooks.
Friday July 10
11:30 AM ENV Reading: Yoon Ha Lee.
Yoon Ha Lee reads an excerpt from Ninefox Gambit, a forthcoming novel.
7:00 PM CL Kaffeeklatsch. Yoon Ha Lee, Shira Lipkin.
(I'm irritated that they list me as "Yoon Lee" instead of my rightful Korean name, goddammit, so I put the "Ha" back into the copypasta. Because I am ridiculous about petty things.)
So I decided to even things up and do a recs list of ten short stories featuring only two male authors and eight authors of other genders.
This was not hard! There's lots of great short stories written by people who aren't dudes, available to read online for free. The only hard part was narrowing my list down. (Also writing descriptions of each. I'm really bad at pithy enticing nonspoilery descriptions. My apologies for the below. I did my best.)
Here you go:
1. Never the Same, by Polenth Blake
Set on another planet on a colony that isn't thriving, exploring the family stuff of the main character at the same time as exploring the reason for the colony's difficulties. It's complicated and unsettling in the best kind of ways, and has a wonderfully interesting main character.
2. The Perseverance of Angela's Past Life, by Zen Cho
I figure at this point I have recced my favourite Zen Cho story (The House of Aunts!) often enough that it's time to take a break and recommend other Zen Cho stories because she has SO MANY good stories because she's a brilliant writer; her stories are never a disappointment. This one is about dealing with an overly-literal past version of yourself who you thought you'd left behind, and it is lovely.
3. The Cage, by A.M. Dellamonica
Look it's the canadian lesbian activist community werewolf baby story of my heart. IT'S BASICALLY THE BEST.
4. The Tempting: A Love Story, by James Alan Gardner
Definitely one of the weirder stories on this list, and I love it for that. I haven't reread it in a while and I don't actually remember the plot? Haha like I ever read for plot anyways. AT ANY RATE this is a deeply interesting story and I recommend it! or it wouldn't be on this list, obviously.
5. The Bride In Furs, by Layla Lawlor
An excellent fairy-tale-ish story, with a good fairy tale feel, that is all about ladies, aww yeah. INTO IT.
6. The Lady Astronaut of Mars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
It's about an aging famous astronaut who's been wanting another opportunity to venture into space for years. What a good everything. I cried and it was amazing.
7. Burning Girls, by Veronica Schanoes
Let me go with the official description because it's better than what I could come up with: This story "is a fascinating dark fantasy novella about a Jewish girl educated by her grandmother as a healer and witch growing up in an increasingly hostile environment in Poland in the late nineteenth century. In addition to the natural danger of destruction by Cossacks, she must deal with a demon plaguing her family." YEAH. And it's REALLY GOOD.
8. Sauerkraut Station, by Ferrett Steinmetz
Little House on the Prairie in space, is more or less its hook, and it IS that but it is also a million times better than that makes it sound. I had a lot of feelings.
9. Jackalope Wives, by Ursula Vernon
Ursula Vernon won a Nebula for this! And with good reason, holy crap. I mean I love every word Ursula Vernon ever puts down on page or screen but this is definitely a particularly good piece of Ursula Vernon's words. It's... I don't know, it's a fairy-tale-ish story with a strong sense of character and of place, and about identity and about making hard decisions. And stuff. I'm bad at one-sentence plot teasers!
10. Sleeper, by Jo Walton
The official summary: "History is a thing we make—in more senses than one. And from more directions." YEAH. This story starts off slowly but is totally worth the read! It's about a woman in the future writing a biography of a man from the 20th century who had secrets.
Somewhat to my own bemusement, I am going to be at San Diego Comic-Con this year. Penguin Random House are giving out free galleys of Sorcerer to the Crown and if you swing by booths #1514-1515 at the following times, you can get them signed by me!
Friday, 10 July, 2.00 – 3.00 pm — Del Rey booth signing with Naomi Novik (Booth #1515)
Naomi will be signing His Majesty’s Dragon and I will be nobly refraining from telling her/everyone all my favourite parts of Uprooted.
Saturday, 11 July, 11.00 am – 12.00 pm — Penguin booth signing (Booth #1514)
I think I’m on my own for this one. ^_^;;
Come say hi if you’ll be there!
Mirrored from Zen Cho.
I’m generally a glass half full kind of person. The year might be half over already, but I find myself looking ahead with excitement. There’s a lot to look forward to. The first anniversary of this blog is coming up in August. I have some exciting guest posts lined up as part of the Brewing Community series (the talented Stephanie Gunn will be joining me on Friday to get that started). Conflux 11 will be happening in October. And my birthday is coming up–which will hopefully mean more books and tea!
However, looking ahead doesn’t preclude also noting where I am and savouring what has been.
At the beginning of the year, I signed up for two year-long reading challenges. The first of these was the ubiquitous Goodreads reading challenge. I committed to reading 52 books–a fairly low bar. Here’s how I’m doing:
So far, so good! I look set to exceed the target, though not by as much as I’d hoped.
The second challenge I signed up for was the 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge. I signed up for the Miles level, which was to read at least six books and review four. I have managed to read and review seven books so far, so I have definitely met this challenge. I’ll be continuing to monitor it so that I can get a feel for what might constitute a more difficult challenge for next year.
Quantity is one thing, but what about quality? My favourite books of the year so far, in no particular order:
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Okay, so this is a graphic novel series rather than a single book, but I’m counting it as one anyway. What’s not to love about science fantasy space opera? I adore the characters and every single volume makes me laugh. The last one wobbled a little for me, but I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.
Kaleidoscope edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios. This anthology of young adult speculative fiction features stories with a diverse array of protagonists. There were a few stories that didn’t appeal to me much, but on the whole I think it has deserved all the awards it has won.
Unbound and Free by Becca Lusher. I might be a little bit biased here, but Becca really does write some amazing stuff. Considered historical fantasy, Unbound and Free leans more towards fantasy than history–which suits me fine. Demero is a sweet boy and I really enjoyed reading about how he came to become one of the immortal Aekhartain. I’m reminded that I’ve left the next book in the series, Dark Rebel, languishing on Mt TBR for entirely too long.
Graced by Amanda Pillar. On the surface, this looked like clear-cut paranormal romance but turned into something entirely unexpected and lovely. There were some nice worldbuilding elements and a diversity of characters that I hope gets built on further in a sequel. It’s not without its problems but I appreciated the way it added some depth to the sub-genre.
The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles. A historical fantasy romance that was just pure fun. Again, it was the characters that drew me in, but the Victorian occult vibe was completely on the mark. I have been very restrained in not immediately devouring the rest of the series.
All in all, it has been a good year so far. How has 2015 been treating you?
Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.
Still getting used to this retirement lark - I think it probably needs rather more time during which I'm not inundated with Stuff and bopping off to conferences etc to get into something that's more of a routine.
I went in to the Former Workplace, Where I Still Have A Place To Hang My Hat (if I wore a hat), picked up a parcel, found that my new business cards (which ideally I would have liked before the trip) had finally turned up, did some (annoying) admin stuff re computer access etc (which I thought had been sorted when I underwent my status change), printed out various things that wanted refereeing, did the reports on 2 articles and read through the research proposal, made some comments on something that actually, feel I would be in my rights to say, no, sorry, retired now, you should have got onto it earlier, scheduled some meetings to catch up with people/talk about their research, ignored a very last minute request to do a radio phone interview, that sort of thing.
Went to gym on way home, because with one thing and another I have not been going regularly for far too long and need to get back on it.
Have also done an update to the academic blog after a hiatus and hope to get a couple more posts out there.
"Forestspirit, Forestspirit" by Bogi Takács Lovely descriptions of forest, cool agender post-human protagonist.
"Let's have a talk" by Xia Jia Xia Jia's first story written in English it is of course about linguists. Also very cute.
Also I've been reading the Queers Destroy Science Fiction special issue of Lightspeed Magazine (June 2015). I don't like it quite as much as last years' Women Destroy Science Fiction, but it is pretty great with lots of short fiction and interesting essays. Of the the work that is available online I'd like to recommend two shorts:
"勢孤取和 (Influence Isolated, Make Peace") by John Chu
"Madeleine" by Amal El-Mohtar
TUMBLR WHY ARE YOU EVEN A THING.
(In heavily related news, Kismet's Tumblr site is live and updating now!)
ETA: Orrrrr ... it could be that I hadn't set the time zone on that blog yet. >_> (But I did have the timezone-glitch thing happen several times with scheduled posts on the kismetcity blog, and I DID check the timezone settings there! Fingers crossed that it's just some weirdness in that one blog, and everything works correctly now ...)
The other thing that's interesting as I go back through old journal entries, excavate old vids, etc, is to see how things were back then. SGA went off the air six and a half years ago. Six and a half years ago I had never been to WisCon, I didn't have a Dreamwidth yet, and I had never even met some of the people I now count among my closest friends. It's kind of amazing, how much things can change. But it's also kind of encouraging.
And then we spent the afternoon in the Greyhound pub, a proper trad drinking hole sort of pub, not ye olde, not hipster, just a place where you can sit and talk and drink lager. It was basically too hot to move, though a few people did manage some walks and visits to the local artillery museum. Me, I just had fun talking to nou's excellent crowd of friends. Walking people, geeks, local history people, and a bunch of people from Oxford who all have second-degree connections to me. I was in extrovert heaven, in spite of the heat.
We moved on to a Chinese restaurant in Surrey Quays, Noodle Family. It wasn't in fact the restaurant that nou was expecting in that location, though they confirmed it was the same place when she made the booking. But it served very very tasty food, including things like thousand year eggs and sea-spiced aubergines and Chinese style potato salad made out of
I headed to nanaya and alextiefling's after the meal. And in that part of south London it's often easier to get around by bus rather than train or Tube, so I ended up with a change that involved walking past the restored Cutty Sark at sunset. So I got an evening and morning of chatting and catching up with good friends I don't see often enough, as well as being enchanted by their two young kids, the older of whom is just about learning to talk.
...And to adam_in_rabbinical_school whose username is no longer accurate, as he is now Rabbi Adam. The ordination service at Southgate Progressive was amazingly moving; the focus was on the wonderful friendship between our two newest rabbis. And R' Mark Solomon was leading the singing, which is always a treat.
I met up with jack before the service for lunch at a very good Lebanese place, Warda, and for a chance to chat as we haven't seen eachother in three weeks, for various reasons. And the service was, as these things are, full of old friends, including pseudomonas's parents. We stayed on for a reception and dinner, and by about 7 pm I'd just got to the point where I couldn't deal with being out and about for one moment longer. So jack drove us home, and being in my husband's car on the way home is enough like being in my own space that I started to unwind. And we had a couple of hours before bedtime to sit on our new sofa and drink tea and chat (mostly ranting about Princess Celestia and about Git). It is so, so good to be home.
JAKE: Maybe the troll lingo has the answers. Or maybe im pioneering some sort of... shadow quadrant system?? Ooh lordy wouldnt that be a swift kick in the netherdumplings.
JAKE: What do you think tavvyboy should i take my idea to the troll patent office and make a mint?
TAVROSPRITE: i DON'T THINK WE HAVE A THING LIKE THAT,
TAVROSPRITE: aLL OF MY PEOPLE ARE EXTINCT, aND MY PLANET IS BADLY EXPLODED,
TAVROSPRITE: aND EVEN THOUGH i DON'T HAVE MANY TALENTS OR BATTLE SKILLS, oR INTELLIGENCE, oR DISCERNIBLE POSITIVE QUALITIES,
TAVROSPRITE: oNE THING i THINK i'M GOOD AT THAT PEOPLE UNDERESTIMATE,
TAVROSPRITE: iS MAKING NEW FRIENDS, wHO DON'T KNOW MY FLAWS YET, }:)
JAKE: Cheese and crackers tavvers what an inspirational little spiel that just was.
Yeah, this is the worst conversation in Homestuck. We've found it. It's this one here.
JASPROSESPRITE^2: I detect that you may have been toyed with and disrespected by none other than the supreme puppeteer of unrepentant horseshit himself.
Calm down, Hussie. Swallow this button. It's a cure for bad self-esteems and toxic ironiesnity.
The article has a quote from the Director of the Institute of Directors - Wales, saying that it would be a mistake to enforce disability rights legislation, immediately followed by me noting that industry has had 60 years to comply with disability employment law and clearly isn't about to do it voluntarily. Point to me I think! (I should actually have said 70 years as I'm counting from 1944). It also linked to my new blog on all the "inspiring" quotes coming out of attendees, which made his insistence they were impressed by their stories look ever so slightly at variance with the recorded facts.
It then goes on to let me comprehensively shred the entire initiative for refusing to even acknowledge that disability discrimination exists. I don't think Disability Confident are going to be very happy with me when they see it on Monday.
TITLE: Celestial Navigation (The Wishful Thinking Remix)
SUMMARY: Zoe stays to light the way.
NOTES: A West Wing title, to sync it up with the original (He Shall From Time to Time).
This brings us to the end of part 1. If you haven't already seen them, there are some really in depth posts by siderea on what she gets out of reading Watership Down, which I found hugely interesting and very thought provoking. When LJ is behaving again, you will find them here:
Siderea Reads Watership Down: Introduction (Part 0)
Siderea Reads Watership Down: El-ahrairah to His Warren (Part 1)
Siderea Reads Watership Down: The First Sixty-Five Pages (Part 2)
[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]
Summer's finally hit Glasgow, insomuch as it ever really does by my standards; as always there has been #tapsaff and lots of folk complaining about how hot it is every time it hits 20 degrees Celsius (68 F). It is, I will concede, humid as fuck, but as depicted on Instagram, I tend to be jetting around in a jacket when everyone else has wee camisoles on. MKE will be a delight, even if it rains, because warm.
Fleetwood Mac were a delight, though while I was there I felt a tad underwhelmed, then realised I was feeling underwhelmed because it was like The Dance but right there in front of me in real life and then I got wicked excited again. In fact, every time I realise I have seen them all together and they don't hate each other and are having fun, I have a moment.
Project Paige and Matt Watch DS9 is continuing on into S2. In a way, I'm glad I'm watching it first now, because I feel like there's a lot of stuff I'd have missed when I was younger, and a lot of stuff still seems so damn relevant. It is, not gonna lie, better television than TNG in general, but I still love my TNG crew. I just wish there was more TNG that was like DS9.
To sum up: FEELS.
On my return I made a loaf of the 3 Malts and Sunflower Seed flour, v. nice.
Friday supper: Gujerati khicchari.
Saturday breakfast rolls: Tassajarra cinnamon raisin.
Neither of us felt much like going out on Saturday evening, so I cooked us a meal in: a whole John Dory simmered in soy sauce and ginger (a recipe from Colin Spencer's Fish Cookbook, which was a bit unhelpful about the timing for a whole fish rather than fillets, but turned out nicely in the end), served with couscous, asparagus healthy-grilled in pumpkin seed oil and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and padron peppers.
Today's lunch: pheasant potroasted with bacon in brandy and madeira, served with Greek spinach rice, chicory halved, healthy-grilled in pumpkin seed oil and splashed with wild pomegranate vinegar, and broccoli steamed with garlic and red chilli (the chopped garlic and chilli sauted in oil then the broccoli florets added and tossed in the oil, and then a little water added).