elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
Another fun article, this time featuring a strong contender for best headline ever: Psychic Snail Sex Couldn't Replace the Telegraph But One Frenchman Sure Tried.

The only way I am reading books right now is in small chunks on my phone overnight, to help keep myself awake. Alas, the physical copy of Ancillary Justice that I checked out of the library has been sitting unopened on my desk; but on the other hand I have finally been reading a few of the books that have been collecting in my Kindle library.
(also I have been compulsively reading political blogs, a terrible habit I really should stop.)

The Vanished Child, by Sarah Smith, is the kind of book that could be classed as a mystery, historical fiction, or the genre-that-is-unmarked of just plain "fiction". The plot: an Austrian chemist reluctantly attends exactly the wrong conference; a 17-year-old blind pianist foolishly agrees to get married; and a very Catholic doctor dances a protracted tango with his conscience.

Less flippantly, Richard Knight, eight-year-old heir to an American Gilded Age fortune, vanishes from a New England vacation home in 1887, following the brutal murder of his grandfather. Twenty years later, the Catholic doctor, friend of the Knight family, happens to see Austrian chemist Alexander Reisden on a train platform in Switzerland, and in a dizzying moment thinks he recognizes Richard Knight. The plot turns around the dual mysteries of what happened in 1887 and whether Reisden is indeed the vanished Knight -- with the interesting twist that Reisden is the main POV character.

The realization of turn-of-the-century Boston and Boston society is stellar, the writing is lovely, and the characters are very well drawn. I got a little impatient with the style of the psychological introspection Smith's characters are prone to – due in part to the demands of the mystery plot, I think. I very much liked that two of the protagonists have a strong abstract calling – music and chemistry, variously – that, and the tensions that come up when that calling is balanced against interpersonal relationships, is something I love in fiction, and the depiction here was organic and rang entirely true. I liked this one enough I'm thinking of buying the sequel.
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
Back from insane amounts of travel, and I can't tell if I'm just jet lagged or if I have a cold. Properly, this means I ought to write stupid pun-laden fic, but I am feeling too guilty about my to-do list to do so, so instead I'm making extremely incremental progress and writing this.

Archive of our own has no Goblin Emperor fic, and I have already read the book through three times. (on my phone, on the road. I am forever and always grateful for ebooks.) Therefore you should all read it and discuss it with me so we can roll around in it together.

This is an obnoxious way of saying that this book is wonderful and I enjoyed it very much. The world-building is rich and layered, and the characterization is nuanced and delightful, fully inhabiting the world. The story is also deeply hopeful and compassionate, as it is in the voice of the main character, Maia, the despised and half-goblin son of the Emperor of the Elflands, unexpectedly elevated to the throne by the catastrophic death of his father and his full-elven brothers in an airship explosion. Raised in internal exile first by his mother and, after her death, by an abusive elven relation, Maia is unhappily aware of both the means by which people claim and exert power over others and the great gulf between himself and the court he inherits -- in the goblin culture his mother has taught him, and the social graces his father did not. Watching Maia build relationships, negotiate the court, and struggle not to lose himself in the process, is the story, and it's wonderful. Maia is a deeply good human being person, but always believable as a lonely eighteen year old in over his head.

This is a world that is industrializing, and the story knows about everything that comes with that: the economics, the politics, of this world, the injustices, are all there, and it feels bloodily, breathily, real. The supporting cast of characters is phenomenal, and fully reflective of the complexities of the world they live in. My single biggest complaint about this book is that there is not enough of the secondary characters; they feel so real, I want more about them.

I have been very lucky to find both this book and Martha Wells' Raksura books this year. They're very different, but they have in common beautiful prose, splendidly original world building, and fantastic characterization, and they are both about building, about hard right choices, and trust.


Mar. 31st, 2014 09:41 pm
elsane: mai from avatar, holding up a dagger that sparkles in the sunlight (mai)
I spent spring break gibbering, sleeping in the name of great white blood cell justice, and mainlining Martha Wells' Raksura books.

I have so very much work to do it is not even funny, my friends, but that is situation normal for me so let's go on and talk about the Raksura, who are delightful, them and Our Hero Moon and the sheer unfolding inventiveness of the world they inhabit. I find myself in the awkward spot of wanting to roll around in all the meta but where I have nothing much concrete to contribute myself, necessarily. So I will say: Read more... )
elsane: Yeo Kyeung and Wan from Capital Scandal in full revolutionary garb (revolution!!)
The lyrics and translation to "Amour Sacré de la Patrie" for reference, because it's a little hard to track down on the internet. (How rapidly the famous becomes the obscure!) For those wondering what on earth this is doing here, it's a fiery seditious pledge the tenor and the baritone sing to each other in La Muette de Portici, a 19th century opera based, with huge artistic liberties, on a short-lived peasants' revolt of Naples against Spain, and why yes, this reflects on the revolutionary politics of 1830s France.

under the cut )
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
The thing about Wagner's Ring is that it is horrifically addictive. Listen to one of the operas once, and you'll have trouble getting your head out of all of them for the next week, or at least, I do. I started writing this after I watched the HD broadcast of the Met's Ring operas a couple of years ago, and (true to form) it stalled at 85% done. Recently I was rashly listening to the audio of that performance, and instead of following that up by playing every creditable performance of every opera in the cycle over and over and over again, I decided to shove this off my hard drive and out of my brain so I could get back to work. (Rose, if you're reading, I know it could have benefited from a beta! But I wanted to get it off my plate so I could be undistracted by it!)

So, fic! It is awfully febrile but it is Ring fic, so. Also, it is inevitably Sieglinde/Siegmund, so uh fair warning.

Title: Fimbulwinter
Characters: Sieglinde, mostly, with Freyja, Hel, and Siegmund
Summary: Things to do on Yggdrasil when you're dead; or, Sieglinde, too, has a chance to choose her afterlife.
Word Count: 3875

Bonus supporting material (also known as: canon): Some of the most well-sung Walsungs I have ever heard (oh right and some gods too).
elsane: (waterloo)
Because the Korean AU wasn't obscure enough the first time around, have some more.

Title: The veins of a leaf (1651 words)
Summary: Grantaire, having made a choice, has to keep making it. Set in Gwangju, South Korea, in 1978.

under the cut )
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
Title: Not a tree, and not grass either

Summary: Variation on a theme by Hugo: Enjolras and Grantaire have a contentious conversation about the legwork that goes into a revolution. Set in the run up to the April Revolution (Seoul, 1960), and genderbent, because. 1725 words. Thanks to [personal profile] skygiants for the beta!

under the cut )

I feel like it's especially important to say for this one: any and all comments, corrections, and criticism are welcomed.
elsane: (waterloo)
Fun facts: (1) "Combeferre" apparently gets transliterated into Japanese as "konbu ferre", which in turn Google translates to English as "kelp fail" (h/t sclez) and (2) kelp was an important historical source of sodium carbonate. This explains everything, except why I somehow took this as a fic promt, for which you probably have to blame my extreme sleep deprivation at the time.

kelp fail )

Also here on AO3. Sorry for the Les Mis spam, everyone.
elsane: (waterloo)
—and all this so that a peasant can say to-day to the traveller: Monsieur, give me three francs, and if you like, I will explain to you the affair of Waterloo!

mad walls of text )

(I am tempted to post this one on AO3, actually, now that meta is apparently ok there, but I'm torn -- I'm not sure whether people actually want AO3 to be a meta archive.)
elsane: (waterloo)
Ugh, I have fallen down on crossposting. (I suspect I really only have time to manage presence on one platform. This is...not optimal.)

Here are a collection of live!brick reaction posts, mostly for archival purposes, because (1) oh Tumblr, and (2) I suspect anyone reading me on Les Misérables over here has already read this on Tumblr anyway. (But if anyone is interested enough to want to respond, please do!)

accumulated aggravation with Marius rises to a simmer )

facepalm.gif )

A Selected List of Topics Upon Which Hugo and I Have Decided Differences of Opinion )

Live!bricking WITH A VENGEANCE, or, thoughts on Argot )

link to more discussion.
elsane: an evil plot bunny. (literally.)
So! I have discovered what that meme is good for.

Who wants to write me the utterly fantastic AU where Les Amis are azi and plot to overthrow the oligarchic Union government? Just imagine: armies of cloned Enjolrai rediscovering revolutionary imperatives in logical and utterly ruthless azi style. And the dry faux-lab notes about how the AEX type typically does better when paired with a ACBFX type, and the sudden belated discovery of danger when they are placed on work detail with a BCFR...

If that doesn't float your boat, how about Azula palling around with Sachiko (and with her ulterior motives), manipulating circles around her, and convincing Sachiko that Sachiko can set things on fire by snapping her fingers? Or Cho Seon trying to throw Azula out of Morangak and not get fried, or turned in to the King, in the process?

Or Tenpou talking philosophy and cheap opera with Combeferre and getting him accidentally stoned into the bargain?

Or Yong Ha and Simon Illyan trying to out-twisty each other on a poorly lit street in the back alleys of Joseon?


(What do you mean you have your own writing commitments? What do you mean I should write them myself? Nuts.)
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
OMG MINEKURA holy shipbait.

(You had better be making these two explicit in the end game because if you go this far, HOLY SDKFJ.)

Also, it's wonderful to see Kougaiji again, and he's still being an absolute noble idiot, no surprise there. I'm very curious to see how this will develop.

About meme: I am frazzled enough to play, and the results have so far been deeply amusing, so:

via [personal profile] shati: I've got a list of characters from various fandoms numbered 1-15, give me scenarios/questions with combinations of characters (e.g. 1 and 5 walk into a bar, and get into a fight with 7. who wins?), hilarity ensues.
elsane: Yeo Kyeung and Wan from Capital Scandal in full revolutionary garb (revolution!!)
Archival footage of the April revolution, excerpted from a documentary.

Oh hell, I wish I understood Korean. I have a feeling this is going to be a theme; it's very hard to find primary sources that have been translated to English.

(LOOK THERE IS MY ENJOLRAS. I was watching carefully to see if there was any female participation, at all, and I just about fell out of my chair when I saw her, watch and you'll see why! Now, of course, I want to know all about that amazing person in real life :( You can see later, too, a woman in Yeo Kyeong-esque hanbok marching in a line of besuited students. Further on, there's a whole group of women marching, but without understanding the commentary I don't know who they are - students or workers or otherwise.

And Rhee goes to visit the wounded protestors in the hospital -- hahaha wow that would have been a tense scene.)

An article focused on Shin Kyong-Nim, about dissident poets and the impact of politics following the April revolution, including several politically-themed poems.
elsane: (waterloo)
Attention conservation notice: this showed up on Tumblr already. Absolute and utter crack, also Hugo pastiche flash-fic. My apologies to the Quartier de Picpus, though as one folk etymology of the name is pique-puce (flea-bite) I feel octopi are an improvement.

A snippet that Hugo’s editor didn’t make him cut from the convent chapters

Concerning the origin of the name «the Petit Picpus» )
elsane: (waterloo)
Alternate post title: well, that made for an argumentative plane ride.

I have actually been hugely enjoying the infamous digressions, after setting aside a certain allowance for the rolling of eyes. One of the side benefits of reading La Brique electronically is that I feel blissfully at liberty to scribble mad quantities of notes and arguments in the margins. Well, the last couple of chapters I have stopped to comment on every paragraph, because these are the chapters where Hugo decides to go into great detail about how atheism destroys society.

For now I have to go be productive and stuff, so I leave you with two thoughts.

  • Dear Hugo,

    Your "proof" of the existence of a divine essence is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the mathematical concept of infinity.

    Very nettled love,

  • "To place the infinity here below in contact, by the medium of thought, with the infinity on high, is called praying." (Vol II, Bk 7, Ch V.)

    Not so, sir! It’s called science.

(General book logging as well as a post on Waterloo: coming when things calm down a bit I swear no really)
elsane: Cha Song Joo from Capital Scandal as blindfolded justice (justice)
So anyone who was interested in Korean genderbent Enjolrai can stop waiting on my dubious writing process because Yu Kwan-soon is ten times more amazing than any character I could invent.

Yu Kwan-soon 유관순 )
elsane: Yeo Kyeung and Wan from Capital Scandal in full revolutionary garb (revolution!!)
I need a Les Miserables icon. Sadly none of the famous 1860s art features Combeferre.

(I have, however, found this screamer, courtesy Pont Au Change, which is apparently supposed to be Enjolras:
it must be seen to be believed. ))

You guys, I have just spent 113 pages hanging out with an elderly bishop and his household, an ex-convict, and a very opinionated author, and I am having the time of my life. I love this book.

The Bishop of Digne, it turns out, is based on a real person )

The moment when I knew I would love this book, as opposed to simply finding it highly entertaining, came when our friend the Bishop goes to visit the dying conventionary, and his priestly hackles rise like those of a much pettier man, and the tension comes to a head when the Bishop drops to a seat and demands an accounting.

there's a bit of stuff about atheism here, but not very much, because I need to go to bed )
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)

  • I'm reading Les Miserables (very slowly). I've read excerpts from it before, usually in watered-down French -- my high school French teacher was notable for migraines, scattershot lesson planning, and deep, disorganized passions for Hugo and Impressionists -- but I've never tackled the whole thing. It's great fun though I haven't hit the parts with Marius yet. I have the itch to live-blog every other page and argue back at Hugo, which I have been heroically repressing.

  • Here, have a fic rec: Dolce et decorum est, featuring Les Amis in Temeraire!verse. Enjolras is captain to the dragon Patria, deadly earnest human and draconine republicanism abounds, and so does gleeful gender confusion. Clever, cracky, and fun.

  • And another one: With Faith Unfearful, by [personal profile] carmarthen. It's not very easy to write believable ship fic for Enjolras and Grantaire and stay true to their canon dynamic, but this works beautifully well, partly by not being the sort of thing one would ordinarily call ship fic.

  • Something about Enjolras lends itself to genderfuck remarkably easily, and I think I know why. Enjolras is one of the Les Mis characters who's halfway to being a symbol, and symbolic embodiments of abstract virtues are female in Western thought. Think of Liberty, leading the people, and Marianne; the Virtues, the Graces. Enjolras is written to be the embodiment of the revolutionary spirit, and his appearance, his demeanor, all hark back to those feminine abstract archetypes. He was gender-bent from the beginning; no wonder he bends back so easily.

  • More links: today I was amused to note that as part of the New York Times' ongoing "Disunion" Civil War history project, posted today was an article about how Les Miserables, hot off the presses, was received in the US. Not much has changed: "The New York Times called the novel 'remarkable' and 'brilliant, but in the same notice labeled Hugo 'a prosy madman.'" It's fascinating to read reviews from the Southern side and see the doublethink involved, as Hugo and his messages were fairly obviously abolitionist; this is only briefly touched on in the article, and it would be interesting to read more.

  • So the thing about writing people who started out as Enjolras snip for those who aren't interested in writing blather )

    ...in other news. Uh. So, does anyone want to watch Sandglass with me?
  • elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
    This may be of interest:

    Warning for annoying gender roles and the brain bending conflation of Valjean and Marius.


    elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)

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