Teaser: The female man

…I’m currently reading The female man by Joanna Russ, an SF classic for obvious and less obvious reasons, and often considered “outdated” because it has a lot of things to say about men and women,  and feminism is apparently different now than when when this book was published in 1975.   Maybe it is! I haven’t finished it, so I won’t state an opinion yet – but really, bits like this feel quite current in 2014.  Also, it made me giggle-snort.

“The game is a dominance game called I Must Impress This Woman. Failure makes the active player play harder. Wear a hunched back or a withered arm; you will then experience the invisibility of the passive player. I’m never impressed — no woman ever is — it’s just a cue that you like me and I’m supposed to like that. If you really like me, maybe I can get you to stop. Stop; I want to talk to you! Stop; I want to see you! Stop; I’m dying and disappearing!
SHE: Isn’t it just a game?
HE: Yes, of course.
SHE: And if you play the game, it means you like me, doesn’t it?
HE: Of course.
SHE: Then if it’s just a game and you like me, you can stop playing. Please stop.
HE: No.
SHE: Then I won’t play.
HE: Bitch! You want to destroy me. I’ll show you. (He plays harder)
SHE: All right. I’m impressed.
HE: You really are sweet and responsive after all. You’ve kept your femininity. You’re not one of those hysterical feminist bitches who wants to be a man and have a penis. You’re a woman.
SHE: Yes. (She kills herself)”

Teaser: Predictably irrational

I think I mentioned a while ago I was reading Dan Ariely’s Predictably irratonal: The hidden forces that shape our decisions,  but it got pushed down the pile a little bit while I gave time to some library and book club reads.   I love these easily readable themed books on psychology (and, often, economics) – for a lot of the same reasons I love science fiction.  “Real” or “unreal”, a fascinating concept is… well, fascinating, no matter where it’s categorized.  There are interesting insights about the human mind in both camps.   (And the other things I’m currently reading are a Norwegian nonfiction book, not terribly teasable, an anthology of dark fantasy/horror, also not terribly teasable, and just started on the classic Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, but, oh, Ariely is still the most share-able thing…)

(I may also be sacrificing reading time to build houses in the Sims 4. Might. Maybe.)

Predictably irrational:

“Ownership is not limited to material things. It can also apply to points of view. Once we take ownership of an idea — whether it’s about politics or sports — what do we do? We love it perhaps more than we should. We prize it more than it is worth. And most frequently, we have trouble letting go of it because we can’t stand the idea of its loss. What are we left with then? An ideology — rigid and unyielding.”

 

Teaser: Horns

I decided I needed to read Joe Hill’s Horns before the movie is out – so that’s how I’ve started September.  As one might guess by the title, this is supernatural/horror a la Christian mythology.  Some will therefore inevitably find it unpalatable, but I’m all for it. (I also enjoy Supernatural, so there’s that.)   Joe Hill’s storytelling gifts are eerily like those of his dad, sometimes – there is a distinct difference, absolutely, but also a great similarity in how I feel reading the extremely readable prose, speckled with a Morgan Freeman-narrated sort of wisdom. (You know what I mean.)   Anyway,  a sample:

He paused, twisting his goatee, considering the law in Deuteronomy that forbade clothes with mixed fibers. A problematic bit of Scripture. A matter that required thought. “Only the devil wants man to have a wide range of lightweight and comfortable styles to choose from,” he murmured at last, trying out a new proverb. “Although there may be no forgiveness for polyester. On this one matter, Satan and the Lord are in agreement.”

You should watch the movie trailer too, I think it looks great!

Now I need my library to obtain the sixth volume of Lock and Key, and my Joe Hill Appreciation Seance will be more or less complete.  (I’d buy all six volumes if I was richer or hadn’t been robbed by a hairdresser today. I know, hairy robot. Design flaw.)

Teaser: Amulet

When I was less than three years old I more or less taught myself ot read, because my parents didn’t want to read comics out loud to me (for which my current self does not blame them).  To some people, this explains a lot,  as it means my early brain-shaping and language training was aided by Lucky Luke, Asterix and Obelix, Elf Quest, and Donald Duck.   (I must add, all of these were translated into my language in a peculiar oldtimey vocabulary, thus, if I talk to people, I’m often told I “sound like uncle Scrooge”.)

Anyway, comics, graphic novels, I’ve always loved them.  Strange how I don’t read more of them. (I’m looking for recs to get into the Marvel universe, by the way. Iron Man?  Ultimate Avengers?)  One of my absolute favourites, though, is Jeff Smith’s Bone.

I love Bone so much, I’ve had to buy the omnibus edition three times, having strangely lost or moved away from previous copies.   Bone is categorized as “children’s fantasy”,  and that is, without a doubt, my favourite graphic novel genre.

So I was out of my mind with joy when I found Kazu Kabuishi’s Amulet.    My tuesday teaser is a crappy photo from this morning (it’s hard to hold a camera with one hand and try to wiggle shiny pages so they don’t reflect too much lamp light… while refusing to get out of the chair for the sake of a better picture.)

001

Unlike Bone (at the time I first read it, anyway) this has colours.  Beautiful, beautiful colours.   Not only is the artwork spectacular, but it depicts all of my favourite graphic novel things; animal characters, talking trees, a vast array of super cool robots, epic adventure, sinister forces, creepy mean guys, mystery quests, everything.

My problem now is – I got volumes 1 and 2 from the library, but volume 3 is mysteriously absent from the catalogue.  They have the rest of the books, but not the third one.  This is TERRIBLE.  I can’t just buy a third in a series without buying the whole thing.  Which I’d like to do, obviously, but I’m trying to show, uh, what’s it called, restraint? Responsible economical decision making?  Oh, screw that.

Teaser: Apocalypse cow

I think the title alone is a good enough reason to be reading this – but I probably bought it because of Terry Pratchett’s recommendation on the cover.

 

The man in the suit rearranged his features – he was probably aiming for sympathy but achieved constipation – before saying, ‘I’m afraid all of your colleagues passed away in the stampede.’

He patted Terry’s shoulder, bare above the robe, and drew his fingertips lightly across the skin, exhaling softly as he did so. Another wave of nausea gripped Terry and he leaned over the bed to retch dryly.  When his stomach had once again realized it was empty, Terry flopped back onto the pillow.

‘There wasn’t a stampede’, he said, hoarsely.  ‘Those cows just went for us. Biting, stamping, ripping. They meant to kill us.’

Tell me this wasn’t more or less the first thing you envisioned the first time you heard the words “Mad cow disease”. I know I’ve been dreaming of apocalyptic cows since the nineties, anyway. (And tried to scratch that itch with the movie Black sheep, but that didn’t turn out all that well.)   Michael Logan’s Apocalypse cow won the Terry Pratchett prize, which is a prize too few people talk about, and I have to look up a complete list of nominees and winners, because it sounds so great.

 

Teaser: Echopraxia

Inbetween the bicameralist monks, the micro-managed tornadoes and zombie snakes – there’s room for some classic topics of science fiction, too.  Watts delivers buckets of lovely transhuman juju.

“Then transcendence is out of reach. For our brains, anyway.”

Lianna shrugged. “Change your brain.”

“Then it’s not your brain anymore. It’s something else. You’re something else.”

“That’s kinda the point. Transcendence is transformation.”

He shook his head, unconvinced. “Sounds more like suicide to me.”

Teaser: Parable of the sower

The Hands on the Keyboard are attached to a spine and some other gross stuff, and a few years ago they had a spinal tap. That thing where you get a huge needle in your back to draw out some spinal fluid so it can be checked for strange things.  Yeah, the thing about that procedure is, you should keep very still and flat for a good while after, possibly without even a pillow under your head, to make sure you don’t, like, spring a leak or something.  Else you get to go to hell. I mean, you get the spinal headache.  Basically, if this happens, you cannot lift your head because of a pretty excruciating pressure headache because something is wrong with your spinal fluid and your brain is like shiiiit.    At least that’s what it feels like.  It requires a procedure to fix it, but of course, in order to be sure you really have The Headache, you have to suffer politely for a few days first, before you get to wail at the hospital about it.  At least that’s what, uh, some people do.

Some people at least have the good sense to have painstakingly ordered a pile of Octavia Butler before going in for a week of delightful bed-bound dehydration.  Reading the Xenogenesis trilogy is the only palatable memory of the time that passed between being forced to walk through several hospital buildings immediately after the spinal tap,   and,  six days later, sitting up and being offered a tooth brush by a truly angelic nurse.  Yes, anyway.  I loved Xenogenesis, or Lilith’s Brood, or whatever you’re supposed to call those books.  (My paperback had the “Lilith’s Brood” title on a cover that really looked more like erotica than anything else.) I squealed so excitedly when finally her books showed up in kindle format, I immediately bought some of them, and…

Um.  And then they stayed put, waiting, while I read other things.    I am finally reading Parable of the sower, and here’s the teaser this post is supposed to contain (although this is a near un-teasable novel, it’s hard to find a good set of sentences that don’t give away too much) :

 

“Create no images of God. Accept the images that God has provided. They are everywhere, in everything. God is Change. Seed to tree, tree to forest. Rain to river, river to sea. Grubs to bees, bees to swarms. From one, many; from many, one. Forever uniting, growing, dissolving – forever changing. The universe is God’s self-portrait.”

Yes, this is definitely a theology-laden dystopia, but keep in mind, while Butler isn’t afraid of bible quotes, and her protagonist is a preacher’s daughter,  she isn’t describing any traditional/conservative set of beliefs, or, you know,  proselytizing. (To which I am sensitive, and would be annoyed at.)

Teaser: Annihilation

Another classic bookblogsy thing: Teaser tuesday. In which I share a glimpse of a thing I’ve been reading.

Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation:

If you looked out through these areas, toward the ocean, all you saw was the black water, the gray of the cypress trunks, and the constant, motionless rain of moss flowing down.  All you heard was the low moaning.  The effect of this cannot be understood without being there. The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you.  Desolation tries to colonize you.

This is from the first few pages, and for me, it’s the first tickle of “Hot diggity, I LIKE it!”

Flowery, “poetic” prose often annoys me, perhaps mostly when it doesn’t quite match the tale it is telling.  This, however, is appealing to me – maybe appealing to the me who used to be sixteen and lug around a copy of Pessoa’s The book of disquiet everywhere,  but, less embarrassingly, appealing to the me who loved Miéville’s The city and the city a lot, a lot, a lot.

This is almost my first VanderMeer, by the way. The first was the non-fiction Wonderbook, which is a treasure, and deserves several swooning paragraphs of its very own.