The Internet

On whether loving SF/F makes us childish

If you pay any attention to popular media you may be aware that actor Simon Pegg got a bit of an outcry hurled at him for remarks that gave the impression that he thought love of science fiction is making us childish. Enough of an outcry that Pegg has since clarified his position, and I have to give the man credit for being eloquent about what he actually meant.

I mention this not because I want to argue with (or about) what he has to say necessarily, but rather, because it provides context for what I do want to talk about: i.e., why society at large deems SF/F, comic books, etc., as “childish”.

IO9’s article and Pegg’s post both point out quite correctly that there are innumerable examples of genre work that tackle very weighty themes, thank you very much. Yet this perception of genre as childish still remains. The notion of a lover of SF/F, a nerd, a geek, whatever you want to call him or her, as being a loser still living in the parental basement is still very prevalent. And more than once, I’ve seen ideas and tropes that are common parlance among genre authors get roundly dismissed by the broader public–until a literary author comes along and does something with them, at which point suddenly they’re worth taking seriously. (Justin Cronin’s The Passage and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, I’m looking at YOU.)

Time and time again, geekdom is accused of not being aware of the real world, because we happen to love stories with giant robots in them. Or superheroes. Or fellowships banding together to escort a hobbit to Mordor so he can throw a magic ring into the only volcano that’ll destroy it.

We continue to be stereotyped as socially inept. Find the nerd character in any popular television sitcom and chances are very, very high that that character will be shy and awkward. Ditto for any character who’s a scientist. You never see the beautiful characters lighting up with eagerness at the thought of going to see the next Marvel movie release, or being prepared to debate the merits of Tolkien. You never see a serious scientist character–a character doing actual science on screen, as opposed to a character who’s just wearing glasses as a shorthand for ‘Hi, I’m smart!’–also being perfectly capable of handling herself in a social situation.

We’re dismissed as politically ignorant, too. Which is particularly maddening, given the political divisiveness I’ve seen within geekdom itself over the last several years, a microcosm of the political divisiveness of society at large. (Look no further than the Hugo controversy this year for a very telling example of this.)

Geekdom absolutely is politically aware. Go take a look at how Tumblr, for example, responds to political issues. And yes, Twitter too. If you’re on either of these sites and you’re not seeing geekdom talking about these things, you’re not following the right people or reading the right hashtags. I guarantee you, the conversations are there. But all too often, if we speak up about any given political topic, we’ll either get shouted down as “social justice warriors” who apparently care about the wrong political topic, or that we care about it in the wrong way.

It’s all maddening, and it’s all almost entirely bullshit. I won’t deny geekdom often has its collective head in the clouds, oftentimes because we need to as a coping mechanism; there is, after all, a very well known filksong called “Rich Fantasy Lives” that addresses this very topic.

What I want to know is, this is bad why, exactly?

What, exactly, are grownups supposed to be thinking about? The whole narrative of “spouse, house, car, 2.3 kids and a dog and a cat?”

I look around the geek community, and I see a whole bunch of people who struggle to achieve these very goals–not because they aren’t paying enough attention to them, or because of what they love to read or love to watch, but because these goals are fucking difficult to achieve. Houses are expensive. Cars are expensive. Particularly if you have to juggle acquiring them against the craptastic state of the American healthcare system (because I’m tellin’ ya, when people have to turn to GoFundMe to raise money for their own medical care, something is seriously fucked up), and the craptastic state of the American job market, and the craptastic state of the American political climate. (See previous commentary re: geekdom as a political microcosm.)

And then, when we geeks fail at fulfilling this narrative, we get blown off as “oh, clearly you’re not successful because you read too many fantasy novels.”

Fuck that. In the words of the immortal Adam Savage, “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”

And my reality is, if I want to go watch a movie about giant robots fighting kaiju, then I’m going to damn well go watch that movie. Sometimes it’ll be because I’m tired from a long day of using my brain at work. Sometimes it’ll be because I’m exhausted from all of the aspects of today’s society that I am bloody well paying attention to, thank you, and I need to go do something else or else I’ll give myself high blood pressure from all the things I’m angry about. Sometimes I just want nothing more than to watch robots fighting kaiju.

And that’s okay. Also: robots fighting kaiju is awesome.

And if that makes me childish, so be it. I submit that more so-called grownups could stand to be reminded of some of the finest things about childhood are: i.e., the sense of wonder, the imagination, the joy.

Our world would be a happier place for it.

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And now, a rebuttal to my own rebuttal

There’s a reason “Go to not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes” is one of my favorite Tolkien quotes. Funny story: somebody once asked my belovedest Dara, re: that quote, “Is that true?” Dara immediately unthinkingly replied, “Well, yes and no–” And then caught herself, facepalmed, and swore, “DAMMIT!”

Case in point, I’m about to give you a rebuttal to my own rebuttal, in which I just talked about why tech companies drop support for older software. That post was with my QA Engineer hat on. Now I’m going to talk about the same question, but this time with my user hat on!

Because yeah, boy howdy, it’s annoying when a tech company decides to stop supporting a thing you’ve been quite happily using for years. Or, when they decide that the way a program works has somehow stopped being okay, and they completely change it up on the next version and expect you to cope.

Example: you’ll notice I mentioned at the end of that last post that they’ll pry Mac Word 2008 out of my cold, dead fingers. Why? Because I loathe the ribbon on the newer versions of Office, and Mac Office 2008 was the last version that didn’t have the ribbon. I hate that thing because it’s visually cluttered. It’s confusing. And Word was already stupidly complicated even after they slapped the ribbon on there, and making everybody have to figure out all the various brand new ways they had to now do the same things.

Example: Google deciding to get rid of Google Reader. Y’all may remember I was QUITE displeased about that. That’s part and parcel of a bigger, broader push by the tech companies away from using RSS in general–I was annoyed, too, when Apple decided to drop RSS support from OS X. That cost me the ability to easily keep up with Livejournal and Dreamwidth, and specifically, friends-locked posts on those sites. But the tech giants at large appear to have decided RSS sucks, whereas down here on the ground where the users are, we’re all still going “BUT BUT BUT we’re USING THAT”.

Example: Every single goddamn time Facebook changes something, for no apparent reason. I find it PARTICULARLY annoying that my News feed on Facebook keeps reverting back to Top Stories, no matter how many times I click on Most Recent. But they’re bound and determined to make people use Top Stories, and I’ve heard rumblings Twitter wants to do something similar, too. No matter how many users go “NO, NO, NO GODDAMMIT, we don’t want that!”

Example: Web browsers deciding you don’t really need a menu. NO. Every single time I do a fresh install of Internet Explorer, y’know the first thing I do? TURN THE MENU BACK ON. Because honestly, I can spare the narrow bar of space at the top of the screen that a menu occupies, I REALLY CAN, honest. Having it there and visible at all times is way less annoying than having to remember to hit the Alt key every time I want to do something.

And don’t think you’re off the hook either, Chrome. I’m not amused with you stuffing all the menu commands over onto that tiny icon over on the right. There’s no web page I visit on a daily basis, either in my day job or in my personal browsing, that has so much vital screen space that I can’t spare any for a menu I can easily find on a regular basis. On a mobile device, sure, it’s justified to hide the menu where the screen real estate actually matters. But on a desktop monitor, really, HONEST, we have enough space.

Example: Windows 8 not being consistent in its treatment of the classical Windows interface versus the new one. There are REASONS Microsoft is moving back towards that classical interface for Windows 10. Reasons involving enough users yelling, “No, dammit, WE WERE USING THAT.”

But when push comes to shove, what can you as a user do about examples like this?

Best thing I can suggest is, tell the companies in question. Send in customer feedback and tell them what things don’t work for you and why–though as I pointed out in the previous post, remember, the people that make these products are just people doing jobs, and they’re not out to make your life deliberately difficult.

Another thing you can do is to participate in usability testing. This is when companies have open testing sessions for people to come in and play around with new things, and offer feedback on what the experience of using them is like. This is different from my job, which is quality assurance. I come at it from the standpoint of engineering and making sure the thing works. Usability testing comes at it from the standpoint of the end user.

Yesterday, for example, we had a usability testing session here at Big Fish, and one of my teammates went to observe the process. He told me this morning that he found it humbling. An engineering team knows a product backwards and forwards. But when we see people who aren’t engineers having trouble with our babies, it’s a valuable and necessary reality check.

If you’re an author, of course you want people to like your books. You want them to leave you good reviews and come away with a warm and fuzzy feeling of satisfaction and enjoyment. Same deal with software. An engineering team wants the users to have a good experience using the software they create. But that team needs to hear from the users what the actual experience is.

I Fight For the Users

I Fight For the Users

And hey, you can tell the Internet, too. Because yeah, a good rant IS cathartic. For us techies, too!

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On why tech companies drop support for older software

A fellow Carina author has a blog post up today expressing her frustration over technology companies forcing people to upgrade even if they don’t want to–brought on in no small part by Microsoft dropping support for Windows XP. If you’re in tech, it’s worth a read, just as a reminder that a lot of end users of your product are NOT going to approach that product with the same mindset that you will.

But I did want to talk about one thing Janis has to say in that post, which is on the question of why Microsoft dropped support for XP.

Sure, software companies want to make money. They’re companies, after all. And in order to keep making money, they do have to keep developing new things. But any given team at any given software company has only so many people available to do that work. Developers have to write the code that actually creates the thing. The QA team has to test it. And this includes not only getting that thing finished and ready to sell, but also keeping track of any reported bugs, and releasing fixes for those as necessary.

The team I’m on at Big Fish, for example, is in charge of features on our web site. I’m a QA tester. What that means for my job is that if we change any given thing on the web site, I have to load up the appropriate page in web browsers and make sure that that change behaves the way we want it to. But it’s not as easy a question as “I just load it up in a browser and look at it once and say whether or not it works”.

Because there are a LOT of browsers in active use. Internet Explorer–MULTIPLE versions of IE, in fact. Firefox, on both the PC and Mac. Chrome, also both on the PC and Mac. Safari on the Mac. AND Safari on iPhones and iPads, multiple versions thereof (we’ve got iPads in our device locker that run iOS 6, iOS 7, AND iOS 8). Chrome and Firefox on Android devices as well.

I have to look at changes in all of those browsers. And that’s just one change on one web page. My job gets progressively more complicated the more complicated a change I have to look at.

This is called a test matrix.

When I first started working at Big Fish, our test matrix involved IE 6, IE 7, and IE 8. But as I’ve continued my job there, the versions of IE we’ve needed to focus on have changed. IE’s most recent version is IE 11. And if I had to worry about every single version of IE that’s still in use out in the wild, that by itself would mean six different versions of IE I’d have to test on. And I STILL have to also care about Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, on the Mac and all those iDevices and Android devices too.

It’s not possible to test when your test matrix starts getting that big. I do still have to sleep and eat sometimes, you know. Not to mention write.

Now, imagine I have to test an operating system, not just one change on one web page. Then my job gets even MORE complicated–because there are a LOT of things that go into making an operating system. And it takes way, way more staff power to develop and test something that complex.

Nevertheless, the team that makes an operating system still has to also care about its test matrix. Only in their case, they have to think about things like “how many different types of computers do we have to load this operating system on?” That includes both desktop machines and laptops. And in the case of Windows 8, they had to think about making it work on tablets, too.

And if that operating system team is spending most of its time working on making the next version of that operating system, they’re going to have only so much time available to spend on supporting older versions of that operating system. Because again, those people have to also sleep and eat!

If Microsoft was to continue supporting XP, they would need to keep enough people around whose job it would be to focus on that. They’d also need to keep machines around that’d be old enough to run XP. Microsoft hires a LOT of people, and they occupy a whole heckuva lot of space in Redmond. But even their resources are finite, at the end of the day. It’s easy to dismiss their decision to drop XP support as a question of simple greed–and again, see previous commentary; yes, Microsoft wants to make money, just like any other company on the planet. Eventually, though, they’re going to have to decide that it’s just not worth it to keep that support active, when their available people and resources can be more effectively spent on something else.

But next time you want to rant about why any given software company is making you upgrade a thing you’re used to using a certain way, I ask that you also take a moment to remember that the team that actually made that thing aren’t out to personally make your life difficult. Promise! We just want to do our job just like anybody else, and have time at the end of the day to come home and have lives.

In closing, two final notes:

One, Bill Gates hasn’t worked for Microsoft for years. So if you want to rant about any current activities of theirs, they’re not Gates’ fault anymore.

And two, I AM a raving technophile and love me some shiny upgrades. But they’re going to pry Mac Word 2008 out of my cold dead fingers. 😉

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Voices from the Rainbow, by Traci Leigh Taylor

Traci Leigh Taylor is another member of NIWA, and my final Boosting the Signal feature today is her non-fiction work Voices from the Rainbow: a collection of letters and interviews from over fifty LGBTQ individuals who have spoken with Traci about their life experiences. I don’t normally feature non-fiction on Boosting the Signal, but obviously, this is a topic near and dear to my own heart. And I daresay any of my regular readers will realize that the struggle to gain acceptance in their lives is a goal pretty much all LGBTQ persons fight for. Traci has sent me a couple of letters from her work, under the title “So Many Lost Years”.

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Voices from the Rainbow

Voices from the Rainbow

Dear Momma Traci,

I just came out last January. So at 58, I’m starting my life again. I wish that I could say I was one of those people who had family support while coming out, but I wasn’t. I knew I was gay in high school, but my best friend—who I was in love with—didn’t really accept gays and never knew how I felt. He kept pushing me to be straight.

Mom and Dad silently knew about me but we didn’t speak of such things out loud. Later, when I lived with my brother for a year, I knew they knew because they went through all my stuff including gay magazines I had. They still didn’t want to talk about it, but at least the jokes and comments about gays stopped. I was always taught that family came first, never say I don’t like it until I’ve tried it, always be a gentleman, and no matter what happens, never quit or give up. Dad and particularly Mom taught me to be very strong. With the family problems we have had, being strong has been very useful.

My mom and I grew very close when Dad died in 2005. She started opening up to me about some of the hell she had gone through with Dad and his family. I put my life on hold until July 2009, when I lost Mom. My mom was always my best friend, and there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t miss her. In fact, I think I miss her more everyday than I did before.

I came out this January to my family and friends. My friends were great but my sister told me it was okay as long as I didn’t talk about it or do anything about it. I’ve stopped going to dinner at my sister’s for things like Thanksgiving and Christmas because I might say something in front of her friends that she would not approve of. I am being told that I’m not worth it by my family, that I’m not to look for love let alone sex or companionship. I wish my sister could be a quarter of whom and what you are. Then maybe my life wouldn’t have crumbled in some of the places it did.

So here I am 58 and alone. I wish I could have come out when I was young, and I could have been loved and accepted for who I am. Perhaps my life could have been different. I have never had a relationship. It is getting harder all the time physically and emotionally, and I am running out of strength.

I am working hard to make myself a better person, emotionally and physically. I joined a gym club and I’m currently working with a trainer three times a week as well as going there on days in between my booked sessions. Hopefully it will make me better, so that somebody will take notice of me. I would like to meet a good person to share my life with.

Respectfully,
Keith

Dear Mom and Dad:

Well, another year has just about passed, and once again I sit alone in the dark trying to make sense of my life, or lack thereof. I wonder if this hole in my heart and darkness in my soul will ever be cured.

I needed for you guys to know who I was, but I was afraid to tell you. I gave you ample opportunity to learn about me by telling you that you could ask me anything about my life and that I would give you an honest answer. There was a most pressing question which you should have asked me but you didn’t. Since you didn’t ask when you could have heard the answer, I will tell you now: Mom and Dad, I am gay.

Yes, you heard right—your youngest son is gay. I know you must have known. When I came home from Calgary you had been through my room, straightened it up, and put all of my gay magazines in a box in my nightstand. Why couldn’t you have asked me instead of leaving me to live in a quiet torture of not knowing what was going to happen if it just happened to stumble out and had not really been addressed? If you were afraid that, like my older brother and sister, I wouldn’t stay and love you and take care of you two when you were old and sick, then you never really knew me. I was there because I loved both of you more than my own life.

It would have been wonderful if I could have found someone to love me. If they ever turned their back on you two then I wouldn’t have wanted them in my life. Now it’s too late for me. I’m 58, and nobody out there wants me and my dog. You don’t know how many times I wanted to be hugged and kissed and made to feel that I’m not just taking up space and air.

Being gay isn’t just about sex—it’s about someone to share your world with. So here we go towards another new year, and I’m still waiting for my life to start which it should have done forty years ago. I am now so old that no one wants me. I have to sit and watch the world pass me by and wonder what it might have been like.

Your gay son still loves you with all of his heart.

I love you and miss you,

Keith

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Foul is Fair, by Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins

Today’s second Boosting the Signal feature is ALSO YA, this time an urban fantasy by the team of Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins. Jeffrey’s a fellow member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association, with whom I’ll be working at Worldcon this year and cons to come on the effort to sell NIWA books! Jeffrey and Katherine have a bit of a glimpse into the head of Lani, one of their characters who has the pressing problem before her of how to get her friend Megan acclimated–as fast as possible–to the fey world around her. And you gotta bet, urban fantasy involving the fey, set in Seattle, is HIGHLY RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS. The authors have kindly provided me a copy of this book. I will be reviewing it.

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Foul is Fair

Foul is Fair

Lani was curled up on a satyress’s loveseat in a trendy Fremont apartment. She knew it was important to get to sleep, and she soon would, but she had to give her mind at least a few minutes to race around the matters at hand.

The day’s objective was complete, at least. Lani had gotten Megan clear-headed enough and told her everything she could. She’d never thought that she’d be able to, back when she thought Megan was all human. There were Restrictions (that was the best way to explain it to non-Hawaiians), after all. You can’t just out yourself as menehune (or, in Lani’s case, half-menehune) to a civilian. But that was before Lani had discovered her ‘human’ BFF’s estranged father was the Unseelie King.

“So…” Megan had said. “My dad is what, ’80s David Bowie? Glammed up, stealing babies, turning into owls?”

Lani had let the focus go to her people’s perfectly rational objection to owls for a moment before moving on to business, because being teased was better than explaining why she wasn’t laughing at the ‘stealing babies’ line. Megan didn’t have a little brother to think of, and she didn’t know what the Unseelie sidhe were like. There was a reason the menehune had allied centuries ago with the brownies: both were hardworking, orderly folk dealing with a lot of things that weren’t. They made good partners.

Megan didn’t know what anything was like, in Faerie terms, so Lani was grateful this was going as well as it did. Here they were, after all, on a satyress’s couch after being chased by a redcap, and yet no one had been eaten or sexually harassed. Lani could finally introduce Megan to her non-human friends. Kerr was already working Kerr’s brownie magic to keep Megan’s mom from worrying, and while Lani could tell Megan had been confused by Kerr, there’d been no gender-essentialist nonsense said that could embarrass anyone. Megan was really handling it all well for someone who’d claimed pixies didn’t exist this morning.

The question was whether she could handle the task at hand. Much to every engineer’s regret, people indeed did not come with breaking-strain calculations. And they were facing a huge problem.

The Unseelie King had gone missing, probably been imprisoned. This was bad. The Seelie were her people’s allies, but the Unseelie were just as necessary. They just didn’t fulfill needs that were easy to understand or that Lani necessarily wanted to think about much. Of these necessities, the Unseelie King was the most obvious. Without his presence in the right place at the right time, the seasons couldn’t change on the Faerie level. There would be no Autumn, not really. And if Lani had learned anything from Neil deGrasse Tyson, it was that without the balance that the breakdowns of Autumn restored to the atmosphere, the world would eventually freeze.

Most in the Faerie court (Seelie and Unseelie) and its allies didn’t know what was going on. All sides were keeping it quiet. Of those who knew about the problem, most were either reacting emotionally, trying to twist it to their advantages, or citing the need for the involvement of human blood. Well, Lani and Megan brought a human’s worth of blood to the table. Lani was more of an aspiring engineer than an adventurer, and Megan was still adjusting to everything. Additionally, of course, people were already trying to kill them. Lani just had to keep it together. She would help Megan navigate the fields of inhuman social landmines and less figurative dangers. She would help Megan find her father. She would help bring him back. And through it all, Lani would have to be the one to remember that just because someone is important—and just because what’s currently being done to them is wrong and dangerous—does not mean that person is safe. Lani had a little brother to think of, after all.

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Through Fire and Sea, by Nicole Luiken

Nicole Luiken is one of my fellow Carina authors who actually writes fantasy, and so I’m quite happy to feature her on Boosting the Signal today for her latest YA release. Nicole’s here to tell you about the difficulties her characters face surviving in a volcanic landscape.

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Through Fire and Sea

Through Fire and Sea

For my fantasy series, Otherselves, I created the True World and four Mirror Worlds. Each Mirror World is named after an element: Water, Fire, Air and Stone. (BTW, the True World isn’t our world (Earth). Our world is Water because we have so much ocean.) I had a lot of fun designing the four worlds and their magic.

Book one, Through Fire & Sea, features two worlds in detail: Water and Fire. It also features two girls. Holly is from our world, Leah is from Fire World. Although the girls are otherselves (mirror twins) of each other, they’ve each been shaped by the world they grew up in.

Imagine a landscape with a blood-red sky, dominated by volcanoes. That’s Fire World. Leah grew up in a castle in the shadow of a volcano named Grumbling Man. The Volcano Lords are quarrelsome Fire elementals and have ominous names like Grumbling Man, Thunderhead, Poison Cloud and Cinders. People scratch out a precarious existence in the valleys between the volcanoes because there is no other habitable land. How do they survive? The hot-blooded nobility have a magical talent that allows them to speak to the Volcano Lords. The Volcano Lords become quite attached to their dukes and the dukes are the only ones who can soothe them when they grow angry and tremble on the edge of eruption.

Early in the novel, Leah is forced to leave the castle and travel to the home of the sorceress Qeturah. I based Qeturah’s Tower on the weird volcanic rock formations found in Cappadocia, Turkey. Hundreds of years ago these were hollowed out and inhabited.

At a later point in the story, Leah has to pick her way across a cooling lava field, using her hot-blooded senses to tell her where it’s safe to step and where molten lava flows beneath a seemingly solid thin black crust.

When researching, I discovered that other signs of volcanic activity include hot springs, geysers and mudpots—areas of boiling mud, such as can be seen in places like Yellowstone Park or Iceland. I found the mudpots so cool, I had to use them in the story. Two characters have a dangerous duel on the narrow path between two mudpots, where any misstep will mean an ugly death.

I also populated Fire World with some exotic critters. I invented some nasty insects called fire wasps which spawn in mudpots and can set things on fire, and oh, yes, dragons. You knew there had to be dragons, right? Dragons are the off-spring of Volcano Lords and humans and are very rare. When a black dragon appears, it upsets the precarious balance of Fire World and sets the whole story into motion.

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Blurb

Mirror mirror, hear my call…

In the Fire world, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm’s most powerful lords, able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods that either bless a civilization or destroy it. But then Leah discovers she’s a Caller, gifted with the unique—and dangerous—ability to “call” her Otherselves in mirror worlds. And her father will do anything to use her powers for his own purposes.

In the Water world, Holly nearly drowns when she sees Leah, a mirror image of herself. She’s rescued by a boy from school with a secret he’d die to protect. Little do they know, his Otherself is the son of a powerful volcano god at war in the Fire world…and he’s about to fall.

As Leah and Holly’s lives intersect, the Fire and Water worlds descend into darkness. The only way to protect the mirror worlds is to break every rule they’ve ever known. If they don’t, the evil seeping through the mirrors will destroy everything—and everyone—they love…

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Comics

Thor #8: And our new Goddess of Thunder is…

Thor #8

Thor #8

… someone I was pretty much suspecting anyway, given her earlier interactions with original!Thor/Odinson in a previous issue.

I got inadvertently spoiled on this after looking at Dear Author this morning, so just in case you’re interested and you don’t already know and want to keep it that way until you read the new issue, let’s just put this behind a fold, shall we?

(ETA: Whoops, the Dear Author link was wrong. Fixed.)

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Movies

More on Black Widow in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

Black Widow

Black Widow

I posted my review of the new Avengers movie yesterday, now that I’ve finally seen it–including some commentary on the Black Widow backstory reveal. However, I wanted to go into that on more detail in its own post. Because I have a lot of thoughts on it, in no small part prompted by this article on Salon that I spotted this morning.

This is going to be one of those “go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes” kinds of posts, mind you. Because the thoughts I have are not necessarily in agreement with one another.

Also, obviously, there will be spoilers for the movie. So I’ll be putting the majority of this behind the fold. Do not clickie if you haven’t seen the movie yet, and are trying to avoid commentary about it!

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Books

Clearing out the Inbox again book roundup

Picked up from Kobo:

Long Black Curl

Long Black Curl

  • Long Black Curl, by Alex Bledsoe. Urban fantasy, book 3 of his Tufa series. Y’all may remember that I adored The Hum and the Shiver, and so when I found out book 3 of this series is coming out, I had to leap on the pre-order-y goodness.
  • “The Two Weddings of Bronwyn Hyatt”, also by Alex Bledsoe. Short story set in the Tufa universe, followup to books 1 and 2 of the series. This was posted to tor.com but I went ahead and paid 99 cents for it to get it as a download on general principles.
  • Of Noble Family, by Mary Robinette Kowal. Book 5 of her Glamourist series, which I have quite admired. I’ll be sorry to see this one winding up!
  • Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie. SF, book 2 of her Ancillary series, which I immediately snapped up after finally reading Ancillary Justice.

And, picked up in print as a reward for supporting her latest Kickstarter:

  • Citadel of the Sky, by Chrysoula Tsavelas. On general principles of Soula being awesome.

Which puts me at 20 for the year. Running pretty thin for my usual book-buying habits, if I’m only up to 20 titles purchased, and here it is mid-May already. But that’s okay. I’ve been working on actually, y’know, reading stuff in my backlog. Which I feel I need to do more of!

Movies

Movie review: Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

My household finally saw Age of Ultron last night, along with our pal Jenny. Which means I can finally start paying attention to my various feeds again, since several of the sites I follow have been all AGE OF ULTRON AGE OF ULTRON AGE OF ULTRON. Several of the other people I follow, too.

Picoreview: I enjoyed it, although it didn’t hit me with quite the same hammerstrike of Awesome that was the first Avengers movie, or the sleekly plotted tightness of Winter Soldier. There were bits of it I have issues with, and in places it felt rushed and crowded. Overall, I’m thinking B+ territory.

The spoilers cannot lift the hammer and are therefore clearly not Worthy!

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