beatrice_otter: All true wealth is biological (Wealth)
Given the very diverse views I've heard on this book (everything from love to hate), I've been quite curious as to what I'd think of the book.  And I can see why some people don't like it; it's very different, in tone and scope and style, from most of the Vorkosigan books.  To top it off, it's part of a genre that there isn't much of, and certainly not within the SF/F field.  Bujold often genre-hops within SF, going from mystery to intrigue to comedy of manners to coming of age space-opera.  All of which are things there are a lot of, both in SF/F and outside of it.  They're things we're used to, things that have defined audiences already.  If you like space opera but not comedy-of-manners, you know to read The Warriors Apprentice and skip or skim A Civil Campaign.  And going into them, you know what to expect.  Within the first couple of chapters there are the cues for what sort of genre it's going to be, and you can calibrate your expectations accordingly.

With Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen ... not so much.  I've tried to think of what genre it is or how to describe it, and I really can't.  There are undoubtedly other works like it out there, but not many, and I can't think of any at all in SF/F.  It's sort of like a middle-aged coming-of-age novel, except that that carries connotations of middle-aged middle-class white guys being douchebags as part of a mid-life crisis, and this is most definitely not that.  It's about two middle-aged people coming to a natural transition point in their lives and figuring out what they want to do with their remaining time.  Sensibly, quietly, maturely, after having had a couple of years to recover from a devastating loss.  There's no huge drama, no great adventure, nothing like that.  It's not domestic enough to be what in fanfic would be called "curtain fic," but it's that sort of thing.  A lot of it is general day-to-day life stuff, albeit with uterine replicators and on an alien planet with really weird biology and foreign diplomats.  A lot of it is about having an interesting internal life when you're of an age that most people younger than you assume you're beyond such things.  A lot of it is about just doing all the mundane ordinary things that any job entails.  Even Miles showing up doesn't result in fireworks, because it's not his story, on a very fundamental level.  There's humor and romance and minor intrigue and minor action, but that's not what it's about.

I really enjoyed it.  I don't know that I would have ten years ago.  And I wonder what I'll think about it when I'm closer to Cordelia and Oliver's age.  It's not even close to my favorite Vorkosigan novel, but I'm glad I read it and I'm glad it exists.

(Note: if you're annoyed by the Vorkosiverse focus on children and parenthood, this is probably not the book for you.)
beatrice_otter: WWII soldier holding a mug with the caption "How about a nice cup of RESEARCH?" (Research)
I am so used to reading fanfic that reading dead-tree books gives me trouble.  I know how long it takes me to read 50,000 words of fiction, but books don't have word counts, they have page counts!  So I don't know how much time to budget per novel!

So I have looked it up.  And here, for your edification, is the result:
A paperback gets about 300-350 words/page
A trade paperback or hardcover gets about 350-400 words/page

Which means that the 291-page trade paperback I'm reading right now is probably between 101,850-116,400  words.
beatrice_otter: A sword in front of a dome (Harrington sword and dome)
Me, whenever I see a character follow their arch-enemy up to a high point (ledge, bridge, catwalk, etc). to continue the fight: "um, okay, that's really stupid, why don't you stay on the ground where it's nice and safe and throw heavy things at them until you knock them off?"
beatrice_otter: WWII soldier holding a mug with the caption "How about a nice cup of RESEARCH?" (Research)
I love Hamilton, but there's one thing that annoyed me: the repeated statement that, after the Reynolds pamphlet, Hamilton was "never goin' be President now."

Because, as Hamilton points out A LOT, Hamilton was an immigrant. And immigrants can't be President! You have to be a natural-born citizen!* It says so right in the constitution!

But then I decided to double-check, and there was a curlicue I didn't know about (because it hasn't applied in 200 years). Clause Five of Article Two reads:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
And there it goes. Hamilton was an immigrant, but he was a citizen of the United States when the Constitution was adopted, so he would indeed have been eligible to be president if he hadn't been such an idiot.

*Which is why the "birther" idiots kept trying to "prove" that Obama's birth certificate was fake, and he was born in Kenya instead of Hawaii, and thus not a US Citizen--which is stupid because even if it were true, Obama would still be a natural-born citizen because his mother was a citizen.

beatrice_otter: Black and white image of Emily Prentiss from Criminal Minds, with bulletproof vest and gun. (Emily Prentiss)
So I have a Criminal Minds/SG-1 fic I'm writing, and there's a case, and I need the Criminal Minds characters read into (at least a tiny bit of) the Stargate Program because Plot.

Why, that is easy! you say.  Have the SGC need the BAU to do a profile!  Except that, in the story as written, all the SGC needs is the case file.  Once they have that, they can look through properties belonging to corporations and people suspected of Trust ties until they find the right one.  And, in canon, they just call up to their friends in the White House and the FBI/Police/ATF/Whoever has to bend and spread 'em.  I need something more involved where, to find the Trust base, they need BAU help.

I would love someone to read what I've got and suggest ideas, or even just bounce ideas here on DW.

The story as written. )

beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
One of the great classic movies that I love is Hobson's Choice, a 1954 film about ... well, IMDB puts it this way: "Henry Hobson is a successful bootmaker and tyrannical widower of three daughters. The girls each want to leave their father by getting married, but Henry refuses as marriage traditions require him to pay out settlements."

a fat man clings to a pole

Most places that give a synopsis of the film say something similar.  Promotional materials for the movie (and the play it's based off of) focus on Henry Hobson.  And they are all WRONG.  The movie isn't about him at all.  It's about his daughter, Maggie.

Maggie is thirty years old, strong-willed, knows what she wants and gets every bit of it.  She wants to run the shoe shop (she's an awesome businesswoman) and she wants to be married to Will Mossop (a timid employee that she can see has a lot of potential) and she wants her father to respect them both and treat them well.  Secondarily, she wants her sisters to be able to marry the men they are in love with (which they can't/won't do, unless their father pays their dowries, which he's too cheap to do).  And she gets everything she wants in the end.  It's her choices that drive the story, not her father's.  Henry Hobson is a blowhard, a verbally abusive alcoholic who spends most of his time at the pub while his daughters and employees do all the work.  He wants to marry his daughters off, then changes his mind when he realizes he'd have to pay "settlements" for them, but that's not what starts the plot going.  I mean, it's what most people thing starts the plot off, but actually it doesn't change anything.  He wasn't letting them court before, and he's still not letting them court, and nothing around the shop changes.  What starts the ball rolling is Maggie deciding she's had enough and she's not going to take it anymore, and she's going to marry Will Mossop and her father's going to treat them right.  When he won't, she takes Will off and they start their own shop, which soon becomes a success, and she manages to manipulate her father into giving her sisters their settlements so they can marry the men they want to.  And then the final denoument is when Henry's alcoholism develops to such a point that he can't take care of himself, and Maggie and Will take over his shop--but on their terms.  Henry gets to keep his name over the door, and that's it, and he has to treat Maggie and Will with respect.

Through it all, Maggie is the one who makes all the decisions and does most of the work.  It's all about her wishes, her skills, her plans.  She's the protagonist of the story.  Sure, there are a lot of scenes with Henry out with his drinking buddies, but they're all largely the same, and none of them really enhance the plot or anything because nothing happens.  Henry doesn't advance the plot.  He's not the protagonist; he's the obstacle the protagonist faces.  Despite the fact that he's played by the star (Charles Laughton) and the movie spends so much time on him, it is, fundamentally, not his story.
beatrice_otter: Jedi fighting against a blue background (blue Jedi)
I AM SO HAPPY.  I got two great fics, one Star Wars fic (with a great Mara Jade), and a Donovan's Reef treat.  I have been nomming and requesting Donovan's Reef for YEARS, and I have FINALLY GOTTEN IT and it is an AWESOME fic!

we floated there along with the clouds.  The trip to the canyons of Hakeakaloha for a Christmas tree had made for easily the strangest day Amelia had spent on the island. (Or: between the Christmas tree scene and Miss Lafleur's performance, Amelia invites Lelani to go swimming.)  The author REALLY gets both characters, it's awesome.  (You do need to know something of the movie to understand the fic.  Basically: Amelia is a Boston shipping firm CEO whose Dad has been off in the South Pacific for her entire life and who just inherited enough stock to give him control of the family business.  She goes to dig up dirt and cheat him out of his stock, he's off traveling, and so his friends pretend that his half-Polynesian children belong to John Wayne until the real Dad gets back and can explain things.  So here, Lelani knows that Amelia's her older half-sister and that she and her siblings are being kept out of the way because they're not white, but Amelia only sees a cute and mysterious island girl.)

Massassai Dreams.  During the events of "I, Jedi" (11ABY) after Mara's first departure from the Jedi Praxeum on Yavin IV - Mara Jade reflects on her training at the Jedi Academy and overcoming her history as an Agent of the Darkside.  The author really understands Mara, and I liked the way she was written here.  And the glimpses we got of Mara's past were also interesting.

I feel sorry for the author who was assigned to me, because they wrote a wonderful fic about one of my favorite characters in any media--I deeply love Mara Jade when she is written well (as she is here), and in any other year that fic would be the highlight.  But I've been waiting for Donovan's Reef for YEARS.

Also, I wrote FOUR Yuletide fics this year.  Can anyone guess what they are?
beatrice_otter: Aim high--you may still miss the target, but at least you won't shoot your foot off. (Aim High)
Further news about the Organization for Transformative Works Board.  (The OTW is, among other things, the parent organization for AO3.)  You may recall that the two new Board members we just elected were taking office December 1, and the rest of the Board was resigning December 15?  Today is December 19!  And we have had an announcement of what they are going to do to fill the empty slots.

They're going to appoint the three candidates from the last election with the most votes to fill all the slots but one, and then fill three slots instead of two in next year's election.  This is about what I predicted they'd do--we just had an election, it wasn't like they were going to get a whole new crop of people volunteering to run who hadn't run in the last election, and anyway, most of the candidates had pretty good resumes and experience.

So for those of you who might have been tempted to run around thinking the sky was falling, the board is continuing to chug along and is actually in a pretty good spot right now to clean up the messes left by the previous board and all their predecessors.  Nothing has changed for the archive, except it now has a good chance of getting a board that's actually helpful.
beatrice_otter: Les Mis stage show singing "One Day More" (One Day More)
So a couple of weeks ago I posted my thoughts on Hamilton the musical from a historical POV (no, Hamilton was NOT a great progressive role model any more than Jefferson was), but as usual, [personal profile] melannen has a much better and more in-depth post on it now! So go read it, it's really good.

Like. The arguments in the Cabinet Battles basically come down to TJ saying "Hey, Hamilton, your 'political policy' is based on making you and your friends rich and consolidating power at everyone else's expense" and A. Ham going "Yeah? Well you're a fucking slaveowner."

Which ADMITTEDLY is a valid burn but doesn't actually do anything to convince me that A. Ham's political policies are any good. Specially since (at least in the soundtrack) we don't see him trying to actually do anything about slavery except burn TJ with it.

Email Woes

Dec. 14th, 2015 09:21 am
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
My email hasn't been working for a couple of days.  If you sent me anything, please re-send!
beatrice_otter: Mystique in X-Men gear from First Class (Mystique)
Not to Touch the Earth (4019 words) by lilacsigil
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Armando Muñoz & Angel Salvadore
Characters: Angel Salvadore, Armando Muñoz, Irene Adler (X-Men), Sarah Gail Bradley, Kraven the Hunter
Additional Tags: Fugitive, 1960s

Angel is on the run as the Brotherhood breaks down after Erik's capture. She goes to Darwin for safety, but the cops and a bounty hunter are closing in. Despite her separatist stance, a few good people are willing to help her.

For the prompt: Angel Salvadore: Hugs. Gen or any relationship is fine. I want to see Angel survive Days of Future Past, and maybe, I don't know, get some hugs from Raven.

Great fic, capturing the characters and their world very well.

beatrice_otter: Les Mis stage show singing "One Day More" (One Day More)
I love Hamilton the musical, yo.  It's great.  The music is good, the words are incredible, I absolutely adore it.

But the thing is, I know enough about history to be able to see what they're doing.  And the way they tell the story, Hamilton absolutely comes off like he is what we would today call a progressive or a liberal.  They don't actually say that, but with the multiracial cast and an emphasis on him coming up from the bottom of the heap (except not quite the bottom, because he was still an educated able-bodied white guy, you know) it's implied.  And they make a big deal about Hamilton being opposed to slavery and Jefferson the slaveowner and all of that.

It's a very pretty story.  But the thing is, none of the founding fathers were anything close to what we today would consider a liberal or a progressive.  They weren't much like today's conservatives, either.  Things were very different.  But even outright abolitionists weren't out to free slaves because they believed in racial equality; nobody was advocating for anything like gender or sexual equality; and very few were arguing for economic equality.

Vox explains Cabinet Battle #1 and gives all the background to show you just how misleading the show is.  Because if nobody was arguing about racial, gender, disability, or sexual equality, there were a few people trying to make things at least a little more equal for poor white men.  Trying to reign in the power of speculators, bankers, and other rich people from profiting on the backs of the working class.  And in the debate that Cabinet Battle #1 depicts, the guy trying to protect poor whites from rapacious rich guys?  That was Jefferson.  Hamilton's plan got American business off to a good start and set the stage for the economic expansion of the 19th Century.  It also royally screwed a lot of poor people.

Hamilton was not the community activist working for his peeps and keeping it real.  He was the brilliant guy from the wrong side of the tracks who got a scholarship, got out, never looked back, and was happy to join the system with no qualms about enforcing and strengthening it. Because anybody who was smart like him could make it out the way he did, and if you weren't smart and dedicated enough, you deserved your lot in life.

I love the musical.  But it's a perfect example of how the way you tell the story--even if technically all the major details are accurate--can drastically change the meaning.

beatrice_otter: Garak--Rarely pure and never simple (Garak)
I got myself a tablet, finally, that I am mostly using for personal stuff but also for a little bit of stuff at work.  And for the work stuff, it needs to have an attractive, professional-looking cover--dark colored leather folder, or something, so that it doesn't look like a tablet.  But I, personally, want it to be cool, as well, something that I find attractive.

I also prefer to avoid big-box retail stores if possible.

Do you guys have recs for where to shop for such a thing?

beatrice_otter: What are we Protesting against? (Protest)
As I was surfing through all the discussion around the OTW board issues, I stumbled upon someone analyzing Naomi Novik (BNF-turned-pro-author, founder of both Yuletide and AO3, incredibly divisive person in fandom because some idolize her and some demonize her).

It was really interesting and good! You should go read it. It's insightful, and a reminder that different people have different strengths and just because someone is good in one area doesn't mean they're good at others ... and that just because you like someone on a personal level doesn't mean they're right for a particular job. (Context: somebody on FFA started saying we should bring Naomi Novik back to get things going right like they did back in the Good Old Days.)
What Naomi seems to be good at is creating and initially running smaller projects that can effectively serve a larger audience with just one or two people making all the decisions/creating all the necessary structure. Whenever things grow beyond that we see her flaws as a leader emerge

She gets stuff done, yes. Because she is always the one getting stuff done, and if the situation actively calls for delegation beyond her circle, stuff goes haywire. That sort of tight control doesn't work here and yet the org has persisted in having the Board try to employ it since its founding days.
All right, my current thoughts re: Naomi Novik as someone who runs/ran the OTW

Other interesting stuff: a former board member who was on the Finance committee gives a bit of historical background and perspective on recent events that I thought was very helpful.

The board members-elect wrote an official post on what their priorities are going forward, and what they're going to try to do to get things on a better footing.

Failfandomanonwiki has an excellent post on the whole election-and-finances issue, as does Fanlore.  Both had points and events that I had missed.  And here's another good summary from plaidadder.

beatrice_otter: Supergirl Victory (Supergirl Victory)
All in all, a very satisfying episode.  Things I liked:

It was ALL ABOUT women's relationships.  Like, ALL about them.  Even the monster in the fight at the beginning who was just there for Kara to pound for 30 seconds was female.  There were probably 5 minutes, total, of men talking in the whole episode ... and none of them were plot-critical.

Doctor Danvers: shown to have been a less-than-perfect mother whose decisions left some emotional wounds in her daughter Alex, but not demonized for it, and at the same time not blaming Alex for feeling the way she does.

Cat was humanized; we saw a bit behind the mask.  But at the same time, she wasn't softened or "feminized," there was no great sobbing heart-to-heart, she remained truly herself without being demonized.

It was the dad who was fringed, whose death gives his daughters a reason to fight and investigate.  Male pain for female character and plot development!

beatrice_otter: A sword in front of a dome (Harrington sword and dome)
Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft is an anthology of new short work from some of the greatest science fiction writers in the field. These visionary stories explore prediction science, quantum computing, real-time translation, machine learning, and much more. The authors used inside access to leading-edge work from Microsoft Research as inspiration, crafting pieces that predict the near-future of technology%mdash;and examine its complex relationship to our core humanity.

Future Visions features contributions from: Elizabeth Bear, Greg Bear, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire, Robert J. Sawyer …along with a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, plus original illustrations by Joey Camacho.

These are some of today’s most visionary creators—and they’ve joined together to give us a preview of tomorrow.

It's free on Kindle.

beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
So, you will all remember that OTW, the parent organization for AO3, has had numerous organizational problems both in the past and continuing today (rampant cronyism, sockpuppetry, and trolling, plus fiscal irresponsibility of trying to run a 6-figure-a-year organization without a budget, lots of other things) that resulted in heatedly contested elections in 2011 and again this year.

And, yay, the two spots that were up for election this year, we got two very great candidates (new blood not swept up in the disfunctionality! with experience in nonprofits!).

What we were not told was that there were more than two slots open on the board. And so you know what the board did? Before the new members took office? They filled one of the other open spots by appointing one of their dear friends, Andrea H., whose time on the board was just up, who was up for reelection, and came in last place out of six. It was unanimous (including Andrea's own vote)--there was one abstention (but zie wasn't against, zie said with a smiley face!).

This all took place in an open board meeting, an online chat with non-board-members watching. When several of them vocally protested this move, for numerous reasons including the obvious conflict of interest of Andrea voting for zirself, and also asking why zie was appointed instead of the people who came in third and fourth on the vote, they were shut down.

Now, they board certainly had the right to appoint someone to fill a vacancy in their midst. However, for various reasons, it was a very shitty thing to do--it was such obvious cronyism that it boggles the mind. The Board's powers to appoint replacement board members is in place so that if someone resigns halfway through their term you don't have to hold a special election just to fill that seat. But holding an election to fill open slots, not filling all of them on purpose, and then appointing your friend who stood for election and lost to one of the slots you purposefully did not fill ... wow. It's such a breathtaking abuse of the bylaws that I can't remember having seen it's like.

Quoth M. J. MacRae (who is, by the way, the one who trolled the chats): "We appreciate that you have questions, however, if we can't deal with our business in open because of people speaking out of turn then we will have to move to closed. As we said, please hold questions to the end... I will start a queue [for questions] if we have time." (Translation: We're fine doing our business in the open as long as nobody speaks up, but if you don't like anything we do that gives us an excuse to shut everyone out and go behind closed doors so nobody will see our shenanigans.)

When people refused to be shut up, MacRae then declared that they were moving to a closed session because people were being inappropriate (hah!) and got up on zir high horse about how the observers in chat didn't understand the ethics of the situation. (Excuse me while I fall over laughing about MacRae, who sockpuppeted and trolled the elections process, lecturing anyone about ethics. For any reason.)

All in all, they took my (already low) expectations and went way under them. Like, this is lower than I thought they could go! Wow!

Screencaps of the travesty are available here.

Reactions: Someone started putting together a google group to keep an eye on the board and discuss what could be done about them. Someone else formally requested the board hold a vote of no confidence (i.e. a vote of all members to ask if they wanted to remove anyone from the board). Various other people got mad on tumblr about it.

But, there was a good result in the end!

Andrea Horbinski, Soledad Griffin, Jessica Steiner, Eylul Dogruel, Cat Meier, and M.J. MacRae tendered their resignations from the Board effective 15 December 2015. This is the ENTIRE board besides the two newly-elected people, Atiya Hakeem and Matty Bowers, whose terms begin December 1.

Guys, this is a really good thing. Because the committees and the rest of the organization--i.e. the functional, sane part of it--is still there. The archive and all its volunteers? Still there. The people doing legal advocacy? Still there. Fanlore and all its volunteers? Still there. The only thing that's gone are the people up top who were so incompetent at running a non-profit that they couldn't even come up with a budget, and so defensive and cronyist about it that they trolled their own elections process. Atiya and Matty both have actual experience at running non-profits, they're both committed to changing the responsiveness of the board and getting things done according to best-practices, and now they have a clean slate to work with instead of being two people out of eight, with the other six committed more to covering their own asses than doing what's best for the organization. They can actually focus on getting stuff done, instead of having to battle the existing board.

Were it me, I would see what the procedure is for getting the rest of the people who were running (except Andrea, obvs.) to fill some of the remaining slots. They were all good, enthusiastic, experienced people.

I'll be watching, closely, but I've got more hope now than I think I've ever had that things will be done right.

beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
Had a long chat with Mom this afternoon.  Apparently Dad's having problems with moodiness that he's never had before, and she's worried about him.

And all this time, he's apparently been handling the revelation that he's on the autism spectrum a lot worse than I knew.  My baby brother was diagnosed when I was in college, and I figured out right away from the list of symptoms that I was, too, and I struggled with it for a long time.  I figured out that Dad was autistic then, but he didn't until a couple of years later when baby brother was in school and he asked the teacher if he thought Dad might possibly be autistic, and the teacher kind of boggled that he was only just then figuring it out.  Anyway, when I've talked with him about it in the decade since, it's been mostly focusing on the "it's nice to know why I am the way I am."  So I thought he was handling it okay.  But apparently, he wants to be positive for his daughter; Mom gets to see more, and apparently there's a lot of "autism is horrible, I'll never be able to have friends or do anything."  (And, yeah, in his life he has only had ONE close male friend, who committed suicide like a year before baby brother was diagnosed.  But they have a decent social circle; he may have only had one "best friend," but he's got friends who genuinely like him and care for him.)  And I don't doubt there's a lot of midlife crisis in there, too.

I feel guilty, because Mom asked me for advice on therapy and stuff a year or two ago, and I didn't really brush her off but I didn't pay much attention because from what I could see, he was doing okay.  But, like, they didn't even know that ASAN exists, and there are two ASAN chapters within two hours of their home.  If nothing else, they'll know if there are any good therapists who aren't a dick about autism in the area, and if we're really lucky there will be a middle-aged man or two that Dad could maybe strike up a friendship with.  And I've known about ASAN myself for a while now, I could have hooked them up.


beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)

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