Proverbial cakes

So here I am, idling, playing a bit of Sims 4 because I wanted to build some houses, and now there’s this thing where sim kids and teens learn an extra set of personality traits aside from the pre-selected ones. They’re traits you have to pick up by doing, concerning levels of empathy, manners, responsibility, conflict resolution, and whatnot. It’s cute, and it actually provides some incentive to play a sim childhood as something other than a pure skill-building exercise for whatever career the grown-up will have.  Currently I have an athletic teenager who can helpfully jog to clear mind, but also wants to play a guitar a lot because it makes her feel better.   Anyway…  aaaanyway.   I was thinking about certain traits I picked up through childhood and how they affect me as an adult.  I didn’t learn a lot of house cleaning, unfortunately, so now I spend a little more time than (I assume) the average, staring at the shop aisles of sponges and soaps.  A pretty minor problem, really.   On the other hand, I absolutely and thorougly learned about delayed gratification, and it, um, it went wrong. 

To clarify – you know how kids have to learn that if they eat the candy immediately, there won’t be any left for later.  If they open all their birthday presents at once, it’ll all be over too fast… et cetera.   Impulse control, or whatever.   It’s a useful thing to master, but here’s what happened to me:

I get hold of something super nice, like a fantastically scented soap, or an expensive box of delicious licorice, or… a book by a favourite author.  I decide to save it for some imagined future moment when I’ll be able to enjoy it the most, as a special treat.   I’m so good at saving these special treats that eventually I forget all about them. 

Hello, expired and dried out fancy licorice in the back of the drawer.

Hello, books I was crazy to get to read, and… didn’t.

This is why I still haven’t read the last book in the Flex trilogy, despite owning it for… at least a year, right?  And Becky Chambers’ A closed and common orbit.  And probably 20 more books I wanted so badly that I pre-ordered them, because it felt so urgent that I get to read them. 

So dumb.  I have to start teaching myself to do a little less having and a lot more eating of the proverbial cake.

Hey-ho

It’s quiet here lately – sort of dusty, even – and I’m late with several review posts. Sorry about that.  I’ve been hibernating. Possibly, I still am.   I just saw the first part of SyFy’s Childhood’s End,  did you? I read the book a few years ago and was mostly just grateful it was less horrendously boring than Rendezvous with Rama.  Anyway.

Childhood’s end is a perfect daydream. It begins with the not-so-optimistic idea that humankind is stupid and aggressive and too entangled in their own history of petulant shit to ever be able to fix itself.  But then somebody else comes along and fixes it for us.

I mean, just taste that idea.  I find it pretty soothing even inbetween all the scenes in which I wonder why they had to cast O’Brien in the thing. (As a character who remarkably resembles, exactly, O’Brien when the ST:TNG/DS9 writers decided continuity did not exist and they needed a dumb guy to be pig-headed about something or other. )

Uh, well.  It’s kinda yuletidey these days? Everything I eat smells like gingerbread.  It’s lovely.

When I know my ratings are skewed

…These past few weeks, I’ve been making some goodreads ratings I don’t feel very confident about. It’s that fan loyalty thing, right? It’s a fact of life, and I don’t really want to overthink it or make it a huge problem or anything, because that’ll just make it too hard to state an opinion on anything. Anything.

But I just read this not very starry-eyed Armada review,  and I found I agreed with… all of it.   I gave it 4 (out of 5) stars on GR.  That seems contrary, doesn’t it?  Kinda?  But Armada had a lot of single elements I loved.  They made almost enough glitter and sparkles to cover up the really very shaky bones of the book.

I said in my short-review that it read like a high school geek’s daydream, which describes both the good and the bad, really.   The good: It IS wish fulfillment, and I’m a match for a lot of it, because I’m a person from the relevant decade who’s loved Ender’s game and watched a lot of Star Trek.  And whatnot.  The bad: It’s… it’s just.  I think “wish fulfillment” is the best summary.

This isn’t meant to be a review of the book at all.  It’s just the clearest example of a case where I rated higher because it was written by an author who previously wrote a book I genuinely adored – and if it had been a different name, something unknown to me or that I was entirely impartial to,  I would almost certainly have rated it two stars lower.

I’m not going to go back and change it, though.  (I might, later on. But I have to stop actively thinking about it before I can know exactly how much I liked it – if that makes sense…)

There’s been other examples of this recently,  but I don’t need to discuss every one of them.  One of the mis-ratings I have in mind is a case where I rated too low instead of too high,  but usually, yes, I’m the kind of reader who’ll be charitable in the immediate post-read,  and then sometimes be haunted by the book’s problems afterwards.

I don’t have the energy to make it a problem I have to fix; I just wanted to identify it and state that yes, I know, I do that thing.

Also, the I, fat robot blog has had its one-year anniversary and I didn’t even remember it. Belated cheers!

Cringe-reading

Ugh.  I’m currently reading a book – a sequel to one I loved – in which a main character is, to be blunt, a bit of a naive bumpkin who is arriving in a larger, much more populated and sophisticated place, and, of course, everyone can spot her lack of streetsmarts from a mile off.

It’s awful. Not just for her – she doesn’t understand yet what’s going on or what’s being done to her –  but for me, too.  This is probably my biggest non-genre-specific reading turn-off;  I hate having to follow a character through lengthy, painful descriptions of events in which I know exactly what’s going to happen, even if the character doesn’t.  I know, it doesn’t mean the writing is bad, but I just can’t tolerate it.   My cringe-reflexes are too strong!

Sooo that’s problematic.   I have to suffer through this, which already feels like it’s been going on for hours (I’m doing the audio copy of this book),  before the plot can move on, and presumably grow into the greatness of the previous book in the series.

But, oh my gosh.  This is just 100% unpleasant.

(I’m like this with all kinds of storytelling, though, TV/film included. I cannot watch those “comedies” where the comedy is based on just… prolonged, painful awkwardness or stupidity. Shudder…!)

Yay the Nebulas! And things

The Nebula awards 2014 have been announced, I’m happy to see Annihilation getting the limelight (and remind myself to read the other two Area X novels). The rest of the novels/novellas list is mostly familiar to me, but I hadn’t come across the Andre Norton award winner before – Love is the drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson – and I think I have to add it to my to-reads, because it looks like a combination of two of my favourite things in the world, which are terrible epidemics and the horror film The Faculty.  (Not because I’m convinced this book has bodysnatching going on in it, but, well, your friendly drug dealing genius? I think I just identified a favourite trope. I’ll call it the Zeke.)    This is the amazon blurb:

From the author of THE SUMMER PRINCE, a novel that’s John Grisham’s THE PELICAN BRIEF meets Michael Crichton’s THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN set at an elite Washington D.C. prep school.

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

Unfortunately, it isn’t available to me as a kindle book, but I found it on audible, so I’ll throw a credit at it this month.

In other news?

I read, finally, The goblin emperor by Katherine Addison, and I loved it. It was pretty much one continuous sitting of a read, only reluctantly interrupted by undergoing minor surgery. (It was just a diagnostic peek inside, and I now have it on paper that most of my insides are, quote, unremarkable.  Isn’t that something!)   Having said that, I also read and loved the bazooey out of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted,  and both of these novels come together in my mind as representatives of, well,  pleasant fantasy. Uprooted is forest-dark, and The goblin emperor is steeped in thorny politics, but both of them left me feeling, well,  good.  This has caused me to move Novik’s Temeraire series way up in the TBR-pile,  and I’ve added a bunch of Sarah Monette titles to my radar, aswell. (Sarah Monette is, of course, Katherine Addison.)

And now, in my post-op happy drug&bandage-rashes party, I’m finally well immersed in long awaited Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.  I love this too. Awesome things are awesome.

Readathon ending and birthday binging

Ha. As is the case with every single readathon I join, I feel like it hit a week in which I was completely out of the reading loop.  But I’ve read about a thousand pages, which is really not a poor score, if I were keeping score, which I’m obviously not, because… no one’s handing out points or punishments anyway? Silly thinkflaws.

One of the things I’ve read was the 50 page preview of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted that was posted on Scribd.  I loved it, and I’d say almost for certain I’d continue it immediately upon release in two days, but it shares release date with Stephenson’s Seveneves! I don’t know how I’m supposed to choose.  And I still have a few scheduled reads to get through this month.  Anyway, Uprooted was easily added to the pile of kindle birthday presents I’ve been getting for myself today. Because I’m old and stuff.    Here’s the full list of the books I deserve for the grand achievement of continuous existence for three decades:

  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • Memory of water by Emmi Itäranta
  • Vermilion by Molly Tanzer

Those are it, so far. Clearly insufficient. I must add to it. Just having a weird moment of “No rush, I guess?”.   I have a Norwegian e-library book to read and I’m a few hundred pages into Naam’s Apex, which is great.  I would have liked to choose to spend my birthday going to the cinema for Mad Max, but this day happens to also be an inconvenient constitution kind of day, which means other entertainment venues are closed, and people like me stay at home and order Domino’s and watch netflix.  Or play animal crossing. Whatever.

Okay.

Glancing at my amazon wish list…

Oh, dear. Nemesis games is out in just a couple of weeks? To the pre-order-mobile, then! I love the Expanse universe so much – I raved about it until my boyfriend got into it too, and now we’re both very anxiously anticipating the TV series.  It has a lot to live up to, I guess, because I compared the first book to, like, third season Babylon 5. Just awesome space opera pathos with clear characters and strong character interactions – I know a lot of people might think Firefly a better comparison.  Amos is one of my favourite characters ever. I’ve been a bit ARC-fatigued lately and I really can’t think of anything more refreshing right now than another installment of this series.  So there.  Ordered!

It’s past midnight, too! Happy not-birthday, me!

Bookstagram?

I post booksy stuff on instagram, sometimes.  But as it’s a personal account, I also post food and basically anything I want to, so I’m not going to invite you to follow me for any special bookish reason.  Thought I’d try to share some of the relevant things in a post, though!

A photo posted by Rin (@rintergalactic) on

A photo posted by Rin (@rintergalactic) on

A photo posted by Rin (@rintergalactic) on

A photo posted by Rin (@rintergalactic) on

Ha. The grimy fingernails there, it’s dried watercolour paint.  I’m a mess.   Do you put what you’re reading on instagram?

Bookish alphabet meme

I spotted this as one of those “put a letter in my inbox and I will answer the associated question”-thingies on tumblr – I never do those because why – but hey, let’s fill it out in its entirety.  It’s relevant!  (And I think it originally comes from Perpetual Pageturner.)

A TO Z BOOKISH SURVEY

A. Author You’ve Read The Most Books From

That’s a tough one, actually. I first thought of Ann M. Martin or those other authors of endless series I read when I was tinier, but, actually, obviously: Terry Pratchett! I’ve read nearly all his books, which is like… 50? Somehting like that. (I haven’t read some of the early ones like Strata and Dark side of the sun or whatever, but, um, from what I’ve heard, there’s no real need to.)

B. Best Sequel Ever

Huh.  Um.  There are many very good candidates, and I have now wasted a lot of brainpower trying to answer what I realise is an entirely different question, because this isn’t about sequels being BETTER than their predecessors, after all.  Just a really good sequel.  I’ll name two:  Orson Scott Card’s Speaker of the dead, which – to me – certainly shines as bright as Ender’s game.    And then Peter Watts’ Echopraxia, which did not disappoint me after Blindsight, which was crazy, because I thought nothing would ever be as great as Blindsight.

C. Currently Reading

I’m in a brainfog currently – it’s an autoimmune illness kind of condition, blah blah – and… I will insist on reading things, but my brain can’t focus for long on the same thing, which causes a monstrous currently-reading pile.  On my audible player, I have David Duchovny’s Holy cow and Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon.  (I like them both, but they both suffer from narrators that grate a bit on my overly sensitive ears.)   On Scribd, I’m reading John Crowley’s Little, Big (about which I will have a lot to say, later) and Lou W. Stanek’s Story starters (I read these writing instructionables/guides/non-fic as a kind of guilty pleasure – hoping it’ll make me actually write things).   Aand on my kindle I’m reading Reif Larsen’s I am Radar, which has taken me far too much time, and Ramez Naam’s Crux,  AND Frances Hardinge’s A face like glass.

And when I’m in my right mind, I keep my currently-reading down to 3 or less.  Sigh.

D. Drink of Choice While Reading

I like tea and coffee both.  Well, not mixed.  A good black coffee or creamy cappuccino in the morning,  strong lapsang souchong or minty greens or other strange caffeinated things through the day,  sweet rooibos in the evening.

E. E-Reader or Physical Books

Well, both, but I’m definitely happier when I get a digital copy of a book, because physical books are unwieldy, often heavy, and rarely self-lit.  Sure, they can be beautiful, or carry nostalgic value, but they’re not what I actually prefer to read.   And a digital book can be acquired instantly by the power of one-click purchasing, to my joy and horror.

F. Fictional Character You Would Have Dated In High School

Ha! Ahah.  When I was… 12 I started writing fanfiction without knowing what fanfiction even was.  It was just that I couldn’t let go of Susan E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, and especially Dallas Winston.  It was all terribly awkward, but actually kinda nice to think back on those long nights with keyboard-tapping and 90s rock ballads on insufficient speakers.

I’m sure I’ve come across better date candidates in things I’ve read since then, but Dally is just burnt into my brain.  (And it would have been a ridiculously awful match, too. Blame hormones and the 90s.)

G. Glad You Gave This Book A Chance

I don’t think I would have discovered Mira Grant / Seanan McGuire if Feed didn’t get nominated for award things in a year I had decided to read all the nominated novels.  I had dismissed it by looking at the cover, because I didn’t feel like I needed more zombies in my life.  BOY, was I wrong. I always need Mira Grant zombies, or parasites, or mermaids, or anything else she wants to write.   The Newsflesh books are spectacular, and there’s a new book set in the same universe coming out later this year!   (Also,  this probably made me realise I love zombie stories, as long as they do it right and are about people more than they’re about pure gore.)

H. Hidden Gem Book

Also kind of difficult to answer off the top of my head.  A lot of people have thanked me for telling them about Alden Bell’s The reapers are the angels, which always surprises me, because I thought it had quite a lot of buzz when it first showed up.  (It’s another zombie book! But with a very quiet, kinda poignant spin on things. I’ve heard there’s a sequel out there that does not quite compare.)

I. Important Moments of Your Reading Life

I learned to read early, like, very early.  When I had to commit a small school-crime to get The neverending story out of the library, that was a pretty overwhelming experience. I was a chubby booksy kid reading about Bastian Balthazar Bux and we went to Fantasia and…. you understand.

When I moved out and into an incredibly tiny rental room in, uh, the city, at age 16,  the first things I read in there were Tolstoy’s War and peace  and… and…. Harry Potter books.  Both of those are pretty intense memories.   When spring came around, I went into parks to look at blossoming cherry trees and read a whole bunch of Milan Kundera.

J. Just Finished

Harrison squared by Daryl Gregory,  it was fantastic.   Jason Segel’s Nightmares! was exactly as sweet as I had imagined it would be.

K. Kinds of Books You Won’t Read

I’ve really had enough of “man has problematic thoughts and there is no plot”. I feel like that description applies to… a lot of what is considered worthwhile “respectable” fiction.   I’m also terribly bored by crime/thriller-stuff.  Then the enormous world of romance and erotica. It’s… not my thing.  I enjoy crime and romance as mix-ins with fantasy and science fiction and so on, but it just… it can’t be the only thing going on,  that will bore me.   And sex scenes make me embarrassed for both myself and the characters involved.  (Sounds prudeish? Maybe? I’d just rather know about the space ship or whatever!)

L. Longest Book You’ve Read

Proooobably something Neal Stephenson, right?  Or, well, as I said, I read a lot of old Russian things before.  I have no idea which one is technically the longest.

M. Major Book Hangover Because Of

Each of the Malazan books I’ve read, which is also why I haven’t gotten further than 3 books in the series. I love them and would like to just eat them all up, but I… my brain!

N. Number of Bookcases You Own

Uh, there’s 5 full BILLY-cases behind my back,  with books piled up in double and triple depths and it’s all a terrible mess.  And most of my books are left in my old room in my parents’ house. Physical books, I mean.

 

O. One Book That You Have Read Multiple Times

I like to go back to my first loves, so the most repeated re-reads are very probably Roald Dahl’s Matilda and The witches, and Astrid Lindgren stuff.  They make me aware of how I shaped my brain and thought patterns from them (and the other books I loved in my puttybrain-years).

P. Preferred Place to Read

I read in bed,  on various public transports (not buses),  by café tables.  In a somewhat inadequate lounge chair, in which I usually sit sideways with my legs over an armrest, because my spine doesn’t approve of normal “comfort” positions.

Q. Quote From A Book That Inspires You/Gives You Feels

I’m going to pick a tidbit from Kahneman’s Thinking, fast and slow, which is non-fiction, but gives me a LOT of feels.  This might seem snobby or morose or both, but nothing makes me more terrified or thrilled than thinking about all the crazy stuff our brains do to make sense of everything, and we don’t even get to approve or edit the process.

Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: Our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.

 

R. Reading Regret

Ha.  I was a genre-hater for years!  My timeline is like…  age 2-12: Weird fantasy stories are the AWESOMEST!   Age 12: Ah, what’s this. It’s a (translated copy of the first part of) “fantasy” book, it says so on the cover. Written by Robert Jordan. Looks like all the things I love, gosh.  —  You may argue that 12 is simply too young for Wheel of time,  but that’s not the point. The point was… unhelpful translation, and a failure to realise it was not fantasy I found awful, just the…  the WoT-flavour of it.  (Sorry, WoT-fans, I might have felt different in a different time and place.)   After this, I just… boycotted everything “silly” and concentrated on classics. I’m sure it was educational or whatever. I did find my way into magical realism as represented by Marquez and Saramago and so on, which I loved.  Finally people started giving me books like His dark materials   and Ender’s game and I understood how utterly wrong I had been about icky genre.  (I was a terrible huffy lit-snob! I was also a teenager with bad make-up.)

S. Series You Started and Need to Finish

Malazan, Malazan, Malazan, Malazan…!

T. Three Of Your All-Time Favorite Books

Neal Stephenson’s Anathem,  Peter Watts’ Blindsight,  uh… Stevenson’s Treasure island! 

U. Unapologetic Fangirl For

Is this supposed to be something one might expect me to be apologetic for?  I have no idea how to answer this.  I love Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, which a lot of people seem to assume is kinda trash because they think Baen only does that, but, ho, no.

W. Worst Bookish Habit

One of the reasons I love e-books is that, with paper books, I’m a terror.  I break spines and put them face-down to hold pages and carry them loosely in my bag and let the pages get ragged edges.  I don’t really care, but it means I neeever borrow books, and am pretty sick of having people comment on the “dreadful” cracked spines if/when they come into my home.

V. Very Excited For This Release More Than Any Other

SEVENEVES!

(and a bunch of others, but SEVENEVES!)

X. Marks The Spot (Start On Your Bookshelf And Count to the 27th Book)

This is a near impossible task. Let’s look at the 27th book on my Goodreads ‘all’ list instead, counting from the earliest ‘date added’.   It’s William Goldman’s The princess bride.   I read this as an adult who had never seen the movie, then I saw the movie, and both experiences left me unimpressed.  Add it to the reading regrets: I regret that the Princess Bride was not a part of my growing up.

Y. Your Latest Book Purchase

I bought Ishiguro’s The buried giant last night.

Z. ZZZ-Snatcher (last book that kept you up WAY late)

Ramez Naam’s Nexus, probably!

Bout of books 13 Read-a-thon

It’s another read-a-thon, and this one runs from the 11th to the 17th of May – that ending day also happens to be my birthday, for which I’m planning a bit of a book splurge, um, in addition to the cheesecake.  Peanut buttery gooey cheesecake. You hear me? Yes. Okay. I could talk about Bout of Booksbooks and peanut butter and cheese and cake all day.
This post is a declaration of intent, more than anything.  I have quite a lot of scheduled reads in May, even before Seveneves is released.  In my May TBR are, among other things,  To kill a mockingbird (re-read, indeed),  Ishiguro’s The buried giant, Ramez Naam’s Apex, a big chunky book about the black death, some Frances Hardinge, and good grief I have to find the time for The goblin emperor very, very soon.

Ugh, there’s construction work happening directly below my floor. It’s been going on for weeks already and it does not stop.  Right now they’re doing this fa-a-antastic on-off drilling into hard walls, like, HURRRRRRR. BURRR.  — URRRRRRR. HRRRRRRK. …
It’s hard  to read anything in these conditions, so I’ll just… return to building sim houses. For a bit. By which I mean until sundown and then some.

Squealing helplessly

…at Dysprosium or Eastercon or whatever people actually call this pile of books and people. Ooh and aah.

image

I’ve had InCryptid books signed by Seanan McGuire, giggled a lot at Charles Stross, been intrigued by Jim Butcher’s promises of talking cats, um, bought too many books. Got exhausted. Discovered the Britkandic miracle that is cherry pepsi max. The hotel has lovely cappuccinos. Caffeine is beautiful.

Gonna try to get to an Ian McDonald reading before I pass out tonight. And then there’s tomorrow too oh my god I’m going to acquire MORE books…?!