arkessian: (headbanging)
A while back I did that James D Nicoll meme about 98 books and stuff... And that got me thinking about the media I respond to and why, Much of the material I hadn't read was image heavy (for example, Anime) -- there might have been a bias towards older stuff, but I checked my recent reading list and that isn't reflected there.  So...

I grew up in a household where words were king.  We were members of 2 libraries (12 books a week as a child, read cover to cover each week before replacing them) but we didn't have a TV and if we had a radio it was never on during the day -- Dad worked nights and Mum knew better than to disturb him when he wanted to sleep (let's not talk yelling and bruises). Dad died when I was 10 and a half, and Mum very quickly got a TV (all hail Patrick Troughton)  -- plus I remember that suddenly we had a Dansette record player (eldest teenage sister in her early twenties) and a radio (at least I remember vividly all of us -- my mother and her five daughters -- dancing with gay abandon to Norman Greenbaum Spirit in the Sky -- so 1969/1970?)

But... I never imprinted on pictures or video.  Apologies to those who went to the pictures with me and wondered why I wasn't blown away but:  Star Trek (Original)? Too long, too repetitive, added nothing to the original. Star Wars? Dear to my heart because I saw it with my favourite niece aged 13 in 1977 but... how long have you got -- avoid the plot holes -- sigh.  I haven't watched a film since circa 1980 and haven't missed it.

I have - occasionally -- enjoyed 'comics' but only when the ratio of words to images is high, or it's possible to extract the meaning without parsing ever little detail of the accompanying images (Digger -- enjoy). I've failed miserably when the image style is pre-pubescent female (pick the anime of your choce), or quasi faux-elf.

I no longer have a TV or go to the cinema (physically impossible); I may occasionally watch a catch-up documentary via my PC  -- if I can get through it without shouting at the screen about historical accuracy.

In short, I don't 'do' images or videos -- unless words dominate.

Which is a worry, when I consider the dominant media these days...

arkessian: (sheep)

 First, I wish to claim my prize for recommending JDN read the Dazzle of the Day by Molly Gloss.

Italic = read it. Underlined = not this, but something by the same author. Strikethrough = did not finish.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (2014)

The Stolen Lake by Joan Aiken (1981)
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa (2001-2010)
Yokohama Kaidashi KikĊ by Hitoshi Ashinano (1994-2006)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
Stinz: Charger: The War Stories by Donna Barr (1987)
The Sword and the Satchel by Elizabeth Boyer (1980)
Galactic Sibyl Sue Blue by Rosel George Brown (1968)
The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold (1989)
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull (1987)
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler (1980)
Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey (2010)
The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter (1996)
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (2015)
Red Moon and Black Mountain by Joy Chant (1970)
The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas (1980)
Gate of Ivrel by C.J. Cherryh (1976)
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (2015)
Diadem from the Stars by Jo Clayton (1977)
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (1973)

Genpei by Kara Dalkey (2000)
Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard (2010)
The Secret Country by Pamela Dean (1985)
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany (1975)
The Door into Fire by Diane Duane (1979)

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis (2016)
Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott (2006)
Enchantress From the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl (1970)
Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle (1983)
The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss (1997)
A Mask for the General by Lisa Goldstein (1987)
Slow River by Nicola Griffith (1995)
Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly (1988)
Winterlong by Elizabeth Hand (1990)
Ingathering by Zenna Henderson (1995) (possibly not under this title)
The Interior Life by Dorothy Heydt (writing as Katherine Blake, 1990)
God Stalk by P. C. Hodgell (1982)

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (1998)
Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang (2014)
Blood Price by Tanya Huff (1991)
The Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes (1980)
God’s War by Kameron Hurley (2011)
Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta (2014)

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin (2015)
Cart and Cwidder by Diane Wynne Jones (1975)
Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (2014)
Hellspark by Janet Kagan (1988)
A Voice Out of Ramah by Lee Killough (1979)

St Ailbe’s Hall by Naomi Kritzer (2004)
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz (1970)
Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (1987)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier (2005)
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1974)
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (2013)
Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee (Also titled Drinking Sapphire Wine, 1979)

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (2016)
Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm (1986)
Adaptation by Malinda Lo (2012)
Watchtower by Elizabeth A. Lynn (1979)
Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy (1983)

The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald (2007)
China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh (1992)
Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre (1978)
The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip (1976)
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees (1926)
Pennterra by Judith Moffett (1987)
The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monáe (2010) [I don't listen to much modern music]
Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore (1969)
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2016)
The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy (1989)
Vast by Linda Nagata (1998)
Galactic Derelict by Andre Norton (1959)
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik (2006)

Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara (1993)
Outlaw School by Rebecca Ore (2000)
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (2014)
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (1983)
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (1976)

Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack (1996)
Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti (1859) (Pedants amongst us will note this is a poem)
My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland (2011)
The Female Man by Joanna Russ (1975)
Stay Crazy by Erika L. Satifka (2016)
The Healer’s War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (1988)
Five-Twelfths of Heaven by Melissa Scott (1985)
Everfair by Nisi Shawl (2016)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski (1986)
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (1970)
Up the Walls of the World by James Tiptree, Jr. (1978)
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (1996)
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge (1980)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (2017)
The Well-Favored Man by Elizabeth Willey (1993)
Banner of Souls by Liz Williams (2004)
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (2012)
Ariosto by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1980)
Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga (2005-present)

So, 68 read, 12 authors at least of some familiarity, and my hadn't read/come across does skew recent but is impacted by the fact that I can't get on with visual stories.


arkessian: (headbanging)
So, I decided to let Waitrose do the heavy lifting this year, on the grounds that (a) I needed a bunch of heavy household staples and (b) I refuse to set foot into any shop other than a supermarket in December (aargh! the parking! aargh! the crowds! aargh! the rubbish passing for seasonal merchandise! aargh! the incessant Christmas muzaak!), and won't go to a supermarket in the 4 or 5 days before Christmas (waily waily! the shops are going to shut for 2 whole days. We will starve -- let us pretend to be locusts and strip the shelves of everything ! Or perhaps, let us practice for Brexit...)

I digress. I don't celebrate Christmas but at this time of year it is possible to buy foods that are not so easily available elsetimes -- like a small pheasant boneless breast roast that needs no faff and feeds two without any waste. We can (and have) eaten it very happily while watching Phred foraging for the seeds that have fallen out of the bird feeder. Red cabbage prepared in advance a la Saint Delia, some roasted sprouts, onions, parsnips and carrots, and some redcurrant jelly -- very nice and no trouble at all to prepare.

Another digression: Every year Phred the pheasant turns up in the autumn -- maybe even sometimes a repeat visitor -- they can live up to three years in the wild.  And some years we get not only Phred but a cavalcade of much more sensible Phredas --- when your survival depends on not being spotted by 'the guns' wouldn't you want to be drab?  The Phreds and Phredas that populate the village gardens are obviously the intelligent ones released for the shoot -- they've found a haven where they get fed and can't get shot.  The slightly-less intelligent ones sit in the middle of the road -- they can't get shot there either, but...

Which reminds me of a story that a good friend of mine once told: her parents (in Norfolk) pulled up at a petrol station and were alerted to an unfortunate pheasant adorning their front grille by another customer. "There's a dead pheasant on the front of your car. Do you want it?" "Uhh, no." "I'll just take it -- thanks then" and he walked away with (I presume) a meal.  I'm glad to say, all I've ever found in my car grille is a little brown job that wasn't able to fly fast enough to escape. (I do my best to avoid anything and everything living on the road -- deer and horses for obvious reasons, but everything else on principle).

Anyway... did I mention the year that a Phreda appeared in the garden at Christmas visibly lame and unable to take off from the snowy ground? So I constructed at zero notice a pheasant shelter that was snow free (off the ground) and supplied with potable water and sunflower hearts (high calorific value).  Phreda was observed to take advantage and was gone the following morning with no fox tracks in the snow...

Back to Waitrose and my Christmas delivery.  According to their substitution policy 'small pheasant boneless breast roast for 2' == 'Smoked Ham & Pheasant Terrine'.  Which the drivers took back with them. I do have stuff in the freezer to fall back on, so we will not be sitting on Christmas Day looking out on Phred with a plate of vegetables in front of us (with which I'd be happy but the lodger, less so).

arkessian: Bloomsbury cover for A Matter of Oaths (Bloomsbury)
 I make Cauliflower Cheese quite a lot.
Well, not every day but at least once a month. I serve it with warm crusty bread and a dressed green salad.
There are, of course, traditional ways to make cauliflower cheese.  Par-boiled cauliflower, a white sauce to which you’ve added grated cheddar cheese, a cheese topping, all baked in the oven. That was how my mother did it, and it’s the way many people like it.  I’ll eat it that way but it’s a little… bland, and makes a better side dish than it does a main course.
For a time I followed Saint Delia : make the sauce from Parmesan and Gruyere and creme fraiche (much easier than making a white sauce); plus some herbs and spices: nutmeg, bay leaf and cayenne pepper; and some chopped spring onions in the Parmesan topping; grilled (broiled) rather than baked… Less bland, especially if you add roast tomatoes in with the cauliflower, but still… doesn’t hit all my buttons.
And then I discovered the ultimate cauliflower cheese (so far, anyway) aka Cheesy Cauliflower and Bacon . I leave the bacon out if cooking for vegetarians.
Par-boiled cauliflower (and potatoes if you want to bulk it out), onion fried until it’s soft and caramelised plus lardons fried until they’re crisp (I cut any big chunks of fat off — can’t abide chunks of uncooked bacon fat) layered with cheese (I use a strong grated cheddar and a very little blue cheese) and cream (I use creme fraiche rather than double cream — less risk of it splitting). All baked.  Lovely. (and very rich — you might want to use half-fat creme fraiche if fat levels matter to you).
What, I hear the Internet asking, has this got to do with reviews.
Well, some people will never try cauliflower cheese, perhaps due to an unfortunate encounter with over-cooked cauliflower in their youth.  
Some people prefer the traditional version — because that’s how it’s meant to be.
Some people will venture a little further afield (Delia can’t be wrong, surely) but decide it isn’t for them — they don’t like the spices or spring onion or whole dish. Taste is a very personal thing.
Some people will enthusiastically embrace onions and/or bacon and/or blue cheese. They’ll identify the elements they do like and don’t like; and decide whether, overall, the recipe is good or bad. Perhaps they’ll tell their friends to try it.  Perhaps they’ll tell their friends to avoid it.  But at least they’ve tried and considered it.
And so, to reviews of “A Matter of Oaths”.
I read all the reviews of my book that I find (or are signposted to me). I’m old (and ornery) enough not to fret about reviews -- different people like different things and not everybody is wrong.. Every sale is a bonus (my cats thank you) and every review is the honest opinion of the person who read the book. (I don’t respond — that way lies madness).
There will be many people who never find their way to it (which is sad, but inevitable — watch this space if I do achieve world domination…)
There will be people who balk at the first hurdles (POC, gay, women, old) Some is predictable (alas, s*d p*pp*s). They will find books more to their liking elsewhere (not where I look for books, perhaps) and the reviews they write will help others of their mind steer clear. I haven’t yet encountered s*d *pp*s for whom the skies are falling in, but perhaps HennyPenny and I are not frequenting the same corner of the Internet. Or I’m insignificantly important and fly under the radar.
There will be people who find the writing style off-putting (most common complaint to date: everything in the world building isn’t spelled out). Yes — that was deliberate, and the kind of book I like to read. Again, they will find stuff to their liking elsewhere, and others who read them won’t waste their money on my book if they don’t like that approach.  
There will be people who prefer more hard science in their stories. No, this is not their book.
And there will be people who ‘get’ the book — enjoy it, understand what it was about. There might be things they would like to have been done differently, but they explain what and why. Those are the reviews I treasure — whatever rating they assign.
arkessian: Bloomsbury cover for A Matter of Oaths (Bloomsbury)
You can't move on the Internet without finding me these days... Not.

Interview at Pornokitsch

arkessian: Bloomsbury cover for A Matter of Oaths (Bloomsbury)
An essay by me on The Portalist about what happens when an old woman steals your story...

And there's this on .

arkessian: Bloomsbury cover for A Matter of Oaths (Bloomsbury)
A Matter of Oaths will be republished by Bloomsbury Caravel on 23 November 2017, with an introduction by Becky Chambers and cover art by Phil Beresford. You can pre-order the ebook now at Amazon or Bloomsbury; there's also a print edition available at Bloomsbury.

I now leave you to your regular programming while I frighten the cats by running round in circles going whee!

Cover by Phil Beresford )
arkessian: (Spirit and Dance)
 As I seem to be posting here again at least occasionally, there ought to be a cat update.....

RIP Chino 10 June 1996 to 15 January 2016

He decided in January that he'd had enough after nearly 4 years of kidney disease and pancreatitis, and 8 years of arthritis... So he went on hunger strike just after the New Year, and I decided that the options to force him to eat were unacceptable to him and to me and let him go while he was still able to purr when he was stroked.

The new monsters 29 January 2016 to ????

A boy -- affectionately known as Rupert the Bear, or the Tank, but officially Spirit because he's an ethereal little thing (not) -- as big at 6 months as many full-grown cats --   and a girl -- Eartha Kitt for her sensuous habits, but officially Dance. Dance has custody of the patented death-stare and rules her brother with a rod of iron even though she's just over half his size.

arkessian: (sheep)

It's the list of books from here: 60 Essential Science Fiction & Fantasy Reads

Bolded for read, italicized for read something by the same author but not listed book, strike-out for Did Not Finish.

Cut for length... )
arkessian: (headbanging)
I am, above many things, a political animal.  

I knocked doors canvassing for the Labour Party in April/May 1979 -- probably not that useful in Kensington/Chelsea where I lived as a student (although a different sort of education in the run-up to my finals) but I had principles which I supported by joining the party as soon as I was 18 and so had money to spare (and could vote (1976).

The Thatcher victory was a blow -- I remember drowning our sorrows in a pub with the other activists and hoping for a relatively-rapid reversal. Although it was positive for my career as she wasted money privatising the industry I joined and it was bonanza-happy-holidays-payola for anyone working there (as long as they were white-collar/one of 'us' -- not so much for the blue collar workers who were tossed onto the dole).

I stayed a member though Callaghan (well, somebody had to do it until a useful person turned up) and Foot (see my icon). Kinnock and then Smith rekindled my hope.  And if Smith had not died, I have every expectation that the world would be different and better today.  

Blair made me cancel my membership -- electable but...  I believe that being elected is the prerequisite to implement change.  However, some things should never happen.. like the Irag War.

I voted to remain in 2016 (in the avoidance of doubt).

So we are where we are.  Corbyn (repeat my icon) -- steeped in principle as he is -- will never win an election.  I've not a lot of confidence in the alternatives but they can't be worse than Jeremy.

So, I just returned to my roots (although my father was a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party, he was also a Trade Union Steward at his works; and Mum was raised in an ardently Trade Unionist family although she was a Liberal voter (as she didn't want to upset Dad - a whole story in a nutshell).

I've re-joined the Labour Party.

arkessian: (sheep)

[personal profile] oursin gave me 35. Comment if you would like an age (the convention is, leave your current age, but if you want to risk futurology, feel free).


I lived in: my own house in a small North Wiltshire town.

I drove: A new white Astra, a company car.  I learned to drive in London, but it never made sense to own a car there; when I moved out to the sticks it was (and is) a different matter, especially as the company expected me to travel to far-flung parts of England and Wales regularly.

I was in a relationship with: a cat (of course). Plus I assume the lodger counts? He started staying with me during the week when I bought the house, and is still around on and off 22 years later...

I feared: I can't remember. Not much, I suspect...

I worked at: the IT department of a large recently privatised electricity generator. Lots of money being thrown at making (one of ) Maggie Thatcher's spectacularly bad ideas seem like a success. Lots of technical innovation. Melting pot of employees and consultants and contractors, all having the time of their life. It was great fun, even if we were working 7 days a week and 12 hours a day...

I wanted to be: What I was. Except there wasn't any time to write as well...


I live in: my own house in a small village on the Gloucestershire/Wiltshire border.

I drive: A 10 year old Audi.

I'm in a relationship: A cat. Plus the aforementioned lodger.

I fear: the consequences of the bad decisions being made by Thatcher's successors.

I work at: being retired, writing software, getting back to writing books.

I want to be: Right where I am, except with a cat who doesn't need daily medical attention, so I can get about a bit more.

arkessian: (sheep)
Not dead yet, and trying to get back into the habit of posting semi-irregularly...

Seen all over the place;
Tell me about a story I haven’t written, and I’ll give you one sentence from that story.
arkessian: (oaths)
I've given my website at a minor makeover (and a behind-the-scenes technology update). I'd be grateful if people could go visit and confirm that it's working for them...
arkessian: (eschers cat)
Imagine my amusement when a genealogy blog that I follow pointed me to a post on another blog by a dear friend (in her professional capacity) who also regularly blogs here at dreamwidth. I do hope she's ready for the hordes of family historians who will be beating a path to her institution's door!
arkessian: (cotinus)
The garden has been disastrous this summer: very poor tomato, pepper, aubergine and even courgette crops. I shan't bother with aubergines and peppers next year -- I think the micro-climate is too marginal here for them to be reliable -- and I'll pick my tomato varieties more carefully. The courgettes clearly need to be grown on the more sheltered side of the patio, so I'll try something else on the windy side... I don't know what, yet.

In compensation, a neighbour has had a bumper crop of cooking apples, so I've spent the last few weeks making: apple pies, apple cakes and apple chutney. I just cored, peeled and sliced 3 lbs (6 kilos) to put in the freezer for future use and there's another 2lbs still to deal with. Luckily, I like apples.
arkessian: (Busy bee)
... it doesn't mean that I want to take over the world.

But lately, people (plural and in two different contexts) have assumed that -- because I'm willing to help with a particular task or organisation -- I'll be willing to take over carrying out or running the whole thing.


I already have more than enough on my plate, and am not doing things I would really like to do. Why would I want to increase my workload of things I don't enjoy, or don't care for as much as other things? I'm willing (in both cases) to take on a little more, but not the whole thing.
arkessian: (Oaths)
Have I really not done one of these this year?

Ratio of female to male authors: 15 to 6 (by author) or 29 to 6 (by book, counting a female joint author as wholly female) )

The astute among you will recognise that I had fun reading/re-reading some generation starship books. Also, owning an ereader has increased the rate at which I'm reading.
arkessian: (Bright lights big city)
FarthingParty was great fun, and Montreal is a comfortable city -- sensible public transport and a plenitude of restaurants, and my aged O-level French allowed me to at least show willing...
arkessian: (Default)
Bolded if I read it, underlined if I read part of it: )

By which I conclude that (a) I'm reasonably widely read in the field (68 out of 100) but not exhaustively so; and (b) my tastes differ widely from the other people who voted. No LeGuin? No Cherryh? to mention two glaring names missing off this list...

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