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Books 2016: 149-155

149. Heather Rose Jones, Mother of Souls. Bella Books, 2016.

Read for column. Good third book in series, solid, moving further away from anything that looks like romance towards more politics and family-saga style of things.

150. Aya de León, Uptown Thief. Dafina, 2016.

Really interesting Leverage-style feminist thriller with a great cast.

151. Gail Carriger, Romancing the Inventor. E-book, 2016.

Steampunk romance novella about two women, set in Carriger's Parasol Protectorate universe. Read for column. Fun and good.

152. Karin Kallmaker, Christabel. Ebook, originally published 1997 I think.

Really terrible fantasy lesbian romance. I mean, terrible. It makes nearly no sense at all.

153. Alexis Hall, Iron & Velvet. Riptide, 2013 (ebook).

Fun romp about a queer female private investigator in a London with werewolves and vampires and all kinds of other magic. Fast, a bit on the shallow side, and a little rough, but a hell of a lot of fun.

154. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Certain Dark Things. Thomas Dunne, 2016.

Read for column. Really excellent vampire novel. Much recommend.

155. Gaie Sebold, Sparrow Falling. Solaris, 2016.

Read for column. Fun, fast, entertaining steampunk.

to-do list

Nov. 28th, 2016 09:35 pm
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Things to do, Mon 28 Nov - Sun 4 Dec:

1. Email CT.
2. Email JB.
3. Email FN and KCS. Also email COH, JC, KK.
4. Contact doctor re: thing (Tuesday).
5. Log books.
6. Update catalogue.
7. Write column.

8. Read late book for review.
10. Review GATHER HER ROUND for Locus.
11. Pitch review of TREMONTAINE to Locus.
12. Go to gym (Wed?).
13. Email CK.
14. Go to Latin (Wednesday).

15. Go to gym again (Fri?).
16. Write abstract for AM conference.
17. Email Locus about hating book for review when it came out in the UK.
18. Have coffee with CK Fri 1500.
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Books 2016: 140-148

140-142. Rose Beecham, Grave Silence, Sleep of Reason, and A Place of Exile. Bold Strokes Books, 2005, 2006, 2007. Ebooks.

I read these on a recommendation from a friend, and now I'm extremely annoyed that Beecham wrote no more books in this series after A Place of Exile. They're damn good, if unconventional, mysteries set in rural Colorado near the state border with Utah, starring Jude Devine, an FBI agent undercover as a Sheriff's Detective to help monitor militia activity in the area. (I don't care if this setup is plausible or not: the stories around it are compelling.) The writing is very solid and the characterisation excellent. I recommend these books wholeheartedly.

143. Courtney Milan, Hold Me. 2016, ebook.

Contemporary romance from the author of Trade Me. Very much a comedy of errors, but a sweet one and one in which several characters are queer. (The main female character is a trans woman; the love interest is a bisexual bloke.) (Neither of them are white.) It's really well put-together, as one expects from Milan, and I enjoyed it a lot.

144. Ashley Bartlett, Cash Braddock. Bold Strokes Books, 2016. Ebook via Netgalley.

Not exactly a romance novel about a drug dealer (prescription pills) who falls in love with a woman who turns out to be something other than what she seems. Amusing and well-written, as queer female romance novels go.

145. Emma Newman, After Atlas. Roc, 2016. Review copy via Tor.com.

Read for review for Tor.com. It is an excellent dystopian murder mystery, and then it jumps genres at the end, and I'm still not sure what to think.

146. Bradley P. Beaulieu and Rob Ziegler, The Burning Light. Tor.com Publishing, 2016. Review copy via Tor.com.

Read for review for Tor.com. I'm not entirely sure what the point of it is? But it is well-written.

147. Rhonda Mason, Cloak of War. Titan Books, 2016. Review copy via Titan Books.

Read for column. Ridiculous but fun, and less uneven overall than The Empress Game, to which it is a sequel.


148. David Potter, Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint. Oxford University Press, 2015.

An excellently readable biography of sixth-century Byzantine empress Theodora, who began her life as the daughter of an actress and the bear-master of one of Byzantium's factions, became an actress herself, bore a daughter out of wedlock to a wealthy man, left (or was abandoned) by him, somehow met Justinian, nephew of the then-emperor Justin, and married him - in order to do this, the law barring actresses from marrying respectable men had to be changed.

She and Justinian had no children, but she was one of the pillars of his reign, though they tended to be on opposite sides of the major theological-political question of their day (regarding the outcome of the council of Chalcedon and whether Jesus Christ had one (divine) nature or two (human and divine)). During the crisis of the Nike riots, she is reported as convincing Justinian to stay and fight rather than fleeing, saying "Power is a splendid shroud."She predeceased him by more than a decade, but he never remarried.

Potter's biography is lucidly clear and eminently readable. He does great work in tying the (complex) sources together into a plausible narrative of Theodora's life and her personality. But I think more context for her later life (during the rest of Justinian's reign before her death) would have been very useful: as it stands, the biography feels very much weighted towards her rise, rather than her reign.
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Books 2016: 135

135. Greg Rucka, Stumptown Volume Two. Oni Press.

I forgot to include this in my last round-up. Excellent graphic novel about a Portland PI and a missing guitar. I would give at least a finger off my left hand to see Rucka's Stumptown adapted for the small screen, because that would be awesome.
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Books 2016: 136-139

136. Kai Ashante Wilson, A Taste of Honey. Tor.com Publishing, 2016. Copy via Tor.com.

Read for review for Tor.com. Really good.

137. Cassandra Khaw, Hammers on Bone. Tor.com Publishing, 2016. Copy via Tor.com.

Read for column. Surprisingly effective Lovecraftian noir.

138. Laurie Penny, Everything Belongs to the Future. Tor.com, 2016. Copy via Tor.com.

Read for column. Really good.

139. Becky Chambers, A Closed and Common Orbit. Hodder & Stoughton, 2016.

Excellent novel in the same universe as A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, with a similar hopeful and comforting tone - though certain of its incidents are darker. Read for column. REALLY GOOD.
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Books 2016: 133-134


133. S. Frederick Starr, Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press, 2015 (first published 2013).

Lost Enlightenment is an ambitious and very readable intellectual history of Central Asia between the late 600s and the late 1200s CE. The first three chapters of this solid tome (over 500 pages, excluding end matter) set out to provide context: context for Starr's endeavour, and context for Central Asia, which had a long and vibrant history even before the Arab invasions.

Further chapters centre on specific courts or specific figures, with significant space given to al-Khwarazmi, al-Razi, ibn Sina, al-Biruni, al-Farabi, Ferdowsi, and al-Ghazali, all figures who in their own way shaped the intellectual and cultural life not only of Central Asia, but of the entire Arab-speaking world and eventually Western Europe.

Starr accompanies this history of ideas and thinkers with a reasonably comprehensive discussion of political events affecting the region across this timeframe. His narrative occasionally tangles itself in confusion, as it does not always take either a strictly chronological or a strictly thematic approach. Lost Enlightenment's achievements are also lessened by Starr's continually insistence on using comparanda from Western Europe: he assumes the reader is familiar with examples from Western Europe but not from Central Asia or the Arab world, whereas some of us (even Western Europeans!) are much more familiar with, say, Maimonides than John Locke.

For all its faults, however, Lost Enlightenment is a fascinating work and an excellent introduction to a region and a set of thinkers frequently neglected in Anglophone history writing. I don't think there's complete English translations of the works of any of the writers named above, with the exception of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh - and where there are English translations, many of them date from a century or more ago. Perhaps Starr's efforts to bring this intellectual heritage to wider appreciation will spur some press to bring to an Anglophone audience more of the primary sources on which his history depends.

134. Rachel Mairs, The Hellenistic Far East: Archaeology, Language, and Identity in Greek Central Asia. University of California Press, 2016 (first published 2014).

This slender volume is specifically concerned to discuss the Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms in the region that today is eastern Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India. Mairs focuses on the archaeological remains, uncovered by excavation and by survey; the challenges posed by the evidence and the state of publication of the evidence; the difficulties posed by unprovenanced items (as a result of looting) and the interpretative challenges of investigating "ethnicity" and "identity" in a region whose inhabitants are very lightly represented in the surviving literature (Chinese and Greek) and that from the point of view of outsiders; and in a region where very little epigraphic evidence has come to light that may illuminate the self-understandings of the inhabitants of ancient Bactria in the three hundred years after the conquests of Alexander the Great.

Because of its prominence in the evidence, Mairs looks in detail at the city of Ai Khanoum, the Hellenistic urban foundation that has a Greek inscription which claims to be copied from Delphi, and posits a Bactrian architectural koine to explain some of its more unusual (as a Greek city) features. Mairs also looks at the relationship between settled and nomadic people in the region, and examines the explanations given for the fall of the Graeco-Bactrian kingdoms.

While brief, this book is really interesting, particularly from the point of view of identity in the "Hellenistic" world.
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Books 2016: 120-132

120. Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom. Henry Holt, 2016.

Read for review for Tor.com, though actually writing the review is hard as fuck.

121. Sarah Rees Brennan, Tell The Wind and Fire. Clarion Books, 2016.

Read for column. Good book. Recommend.

122. Walter Jon Williams, Impersonations. Tor.com Publishing, 2016.

Read for review for Tor.com. Lovely slim book. Excellent stuff.

123. Garth Nix, Goldenhand. HarperCollins, 2016.

Read for review for Tor.com. Meh.

124. Alastair Reynolds, Revenger. Gollancz, 2016.

Read for review for Locus. Good book.

125. Wesley Chu, The Rise of Io. Angry Robot Books, 2016.

Read for review for Locus. Fun.

126. Erica Cameron, Assassins: Discord. Triton Books, 2016.

Read for column. Rough in places but fun as hell.

127. M.E. Logan, Tempered Steele: Hard Edges. Bella Books, 2016.

Read for column. Sequel to Tempered Steele. Less problematic in its character dynamics. Set in a community of queer women in post-apocalyptic (or next best thing) USA. Pretty solid read.

128. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Alliance of Equals. Baen, 2016.

Not a lot of there there. Very much a series book. All middle, no beginning and definitely no end.

129. Lise MacTague, Depths of Blue. Bella Books, 2015.

Someday someone will write me queer female science fiction (planetary opera) romance that isn't shit. Today is most emphatically Not That Day. Smuggler looking for a deal, lands on planet where women are property, meets woman who joined the military while passing as a man. Honestly, "planet of the raving misogynists" is a terrible trope to start with and the book did not really go interesting places.

130. S.M. Harding, I Will Meet You There. Bella Books, 2015.

Book feels like a sequel, but I can't find anything that indicates the story started in another novel, novella, or short story. Lady sheriff up for reelection in conservative US county who always thought of herself as straight falls for old school-friend, now former marine intelligence colonel, out lesbian. Also there is US intelligence community shenanigans and a good shrink. Quite fun, if uneven, but I'd really rather have been able to read the start of the story.

131. S.M. Harding, A Woman of Strong Purpose. Bella Books, 2016.

Sequel to I Will Meet You There, now with lesbian jealousy, more US intelligence community hijinks, and a serial killer. Fun, but still uneven.

132. Audrey Coulthurst, Of Fire and Stars. Balzer + Bray, 2016.

Read for review for Tor.com. I really did not want this book to be shit, but it is.
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Books 2016: 119


119. Michael T. Taussig, The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America: Thirtieth Anniversary Edition. University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Originally published in 1980, I first heard of this book as a recommendation from Max Gladstone. It is an anthropological study - one might call it a Marxist anthropological synthesis - of certain cultural and social practices present in some areas of 1960s and 1970s South America. It focuses in particular on a practice of the "devil bargain" among male agricultural workers, and on practices involving a figure known as the "Tio," or "uncle," a devil-like figure, which are carried out by Bolivian tin-miners. Taussig strives to argue from historical cultural context, and makes a strong case for the continuity (and adaptation under new pressures) of historic cultural forms.

This is a complex book, with a strong theoretical focus drawing on Marx, which is not an area in which I'm competent to say much. But it is fascinating read, if at times a difficult one to follow.
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"Shield of Heracles"

And he didn’t stir himself to go unto his war-won slaves and his rustic shepherds
Until after he mounted the bed of his lawful spouse:
For such desire took hold of the heart of the shepherd of the nation.
And like a well-pleased man who escaped by furtive flight the evils
Of sickness and from under troublesome and mighty bonds,
So then Amphitryon, bringing his hard task to an end,
Gladly and welcomely came to his own house.
And all night long he lay together with his spouse – who deserves reverence –
Delighting themselves with the gifts of gold-rich Aphrodite.
And she, since she was overpowered by a god and by a very excellent man
In Thebes of the seven gates she brought forth twin children,
Who weren’t of the same spirit, although they were brothers:
One was a weaker, and one a greatly stronger man,
Powerful and mighty, the strength of Herakles:
One she bore after having been overpowered by the cloud-dark son of Kronos;
The other, Iphikles, [she bore after having been overpowered] by lance-brandishing Amphitryon:
Divided by descent: the one [she bore] after having intercourse with a mortal man,
The other [she bore after having intercourse] with Zeus son of Kronos, commander of all the gods.

And he [Herakles] slew Kyknos, the great-spirited descendent of Ares.
For he [Herakles] found him in the sanctuary of far-shooting Apollo,
Him and his father Ares, whom battle cannot sate,
With tools of war shining like a blazing fire that was kindled,
Standing in their war-chariot: and their fleet horses made the earth resound
As they pierced it with their hooves, and their dust burned,
Hammered in twisted wreaths beneath the chariots and the horses’ feet.
And the well-wrought chariots and chariot-rails rattled when the horses set themselves in motion. Noble Kyknos rejoiced,
For he hoped to cut down the son of Zeus and the Ares-devoted charioteer
With bronze weapons, and to strip off from [them their] famous tools of war.
But Phoibos Apollo did not hear his vows,
For he himself had roused up the strength of Herakles and set it against him.
And all the grove and the altar of Apollos Pagasaios
Rang to the sound of the terrible god [Ares] and his tools of war:
And fire reflected from his eyes. What mortal man
Would dare to put himself in motion against [him],
Except Herakles and glorious Iolaos?
For great strength was theirs, and invincible hands,
And out from their shoulders they put forth shoots in sturdy limbs.
And he [Herakles] addressed his charioteer, mighty Iolaos:
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Benchpress: 4x10 @ 60kg
Squats: 3x10 @ 90kg
Leg raises: 3x8
Incline situps: 1x10
Bicep curl: 3x10 @ 7kg/arm
Lat raises: 3x12 @7kg/arm

Weigh-in: 110kg approx
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Shield of Heracles

Or she of such a kind who, forsaking the house and land of her fathers,
Went to Thebes after Ares-devoted Amphitryon:
Alkmene, the daughter of nation-stirring Elektryon.
She who among women surpassed the female tribe
In form and in stature: and no one of those who
Mortals bore, after lying with mortals, matched her in wit.
And from her head and from her blue-black eyes
Such stuff wafted as that which [comes] from gold-rich Aphrodite.
And she also paid honour to her husband according to her own spirit
That no one among mortal women paid yet.
Now he killed her brave father by violence, overpowering [him],
For he was angry on account of the oxen: and leaving the land of his fathers
For Thebes, he approached the shield-bearing Kadmeians as a supplicant.
There he dwelled in a house together with his spouse – who deserves reverence –
Very far apart from delightful love: nor was it [permitted] for him
To mount upon the bed of the beautiful-ankled daughter of Elektryon until
He should revenge the murder of his spouse’s great-spirited siblings,
And [until] he should burn up in raging fire the unwalled villages
Of those hero-men, the Taphians and the Teleboans.
So it was ordered for him, and the gods were witnesses upon it:
And he regarded their wrath with awe and dread, and he was driven on
To swiftly bring to completion the great deed, which was a decree for him from Zeus.
With him, longing for the battle-din of war, followed
Horse-driving Boiotians who draw breath for the sake of [their] shields,
Lokrians who fight closely hand-to-hand, and great-spirited Phokaians:
The noble child of Alkaios went with these,
Bearing himself proudly among the army. But the father of men and gods
Wove between his breasts another plan, to beget for gods
And for labouring men, a defender against ruin.
He arose from Olympos, brooding over cunning in his breasts,
Desiring the love of a well-girdled woman
In the night: And quickly he went to Typhaonion. From there
Counselor Zeus ascended to highest Phikion.
Sitting there, he plotted a god-wrought deed:
That night he would bed the wife of Elektryon – with her tapered ankles –
And join with her in desire, and accomplish his wish.
In that same night, nation-stirring Amphitryon, shining hero,
Having fulfilled his great deed, arrived at his own house.
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Books 2016: 116-118

116. Madeline Ashby, Company Town. Tor, 2016. Copy via Tor Books.

Read, at long last, for Tor.com column. Interesting novel with great characters and great sense of place. But time paradoxes are cheating.

117. Cherie Priest, The Family Plot. Tor, 2016. Copy via Tor Books.

Read for Tor.com column. Modern southern gothic haunted house, which is not usually my genre. Priest is really good at 'em, though. I really liked this - well, right up until the last page, which is an ambiguous dirty trick of an ending. *grumps*


118. Tim Whitmarsh, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World. Faber & Faber, London, 2016.

This is an intellectual history of atheism in Greek and Roman antiquity. It begins with the Archaic period in Greece, where traces of anti-theism (the idea that gods can be fought, or denied) can be seen in the Hesiodic Catologue of Women, among other places. From these mythological beginnings, Whitmarsh constructs a lineage of thinkers who disbelieved in the godly powers of the gods, and who theorised explanations for the workings of the natural world that relied on the principles of cause and effect.

The best parts of this book, by me, are the discussions of early "god-battlers" in the mythology, and the discussion of the various philosophical schools and their adherents. Whitmarsh made me want to read Sextus Empiricus - or at least feel mildly inclined towards doing so - which, since Sextus Empiricus's books rejoice in titles like Against the Mathematicians, is a hell of an achievement. The weakest part is post-Constantine, which is not really treated in any depth: there might not be any space left for public atheism, but the book could have used a chapter on how the texts in which the outlines of classical atheism remain were preserved.

On the whole, it's an extremely readable book, lucidly argued, and occasionally funny. Whitmarsh does sometimes like to pull out unusual words like perdurance, but that only adds to the experience. Battling the Gods is entertaining history. Which is the best kind.
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To Aphrodite

Like a child, Lady Dawn did not think in her heart
To ask for youth to scrape off terrible age
So while he [Tithonos] had for himself much-desired youth,
Enjoying himself with golden-throned Dawn, the early-born,
He dwelt beside the streams of Ocean at the limits of the Earth:
But when the first grey poured itself down in his hair
And out from his fair head and well-born chin,
Lady Dawn kept away from his bed,
Yet still she cherished him, having him in her halls
With grain and ambrosia, and giving him fine garments.
But when wretched age wholly weighed him down,
And he wasn’t able to set any of his limbs in motion or lift them up,
This seemed to her in her spirit the best plan:
She laid him up in an inner chamber, and shut the shining doors.
And his voice flows incessantly, but it has no strength
Of the kind which there was formerly in his supple limbs.
But I would not take you so away among the immortals
To be undying and to live for all days.
But if you were to live like this in form and body
And if you were to be called our spouse,
Then grief would not enfold my close-kept heart.
Now swiftly pitiless age, common to all, will overwhelm you,
Which is set out for mortals,
Accursed, wearisome, which all gods abhor.
But for me there will be great disgrace among the deathless gods
Endlessly forever, on your account.
Before, they [the gods] dreaded my utterances and my crafts,
With which at one time I joined together all the deathless ones with death-doomed women,
For my purpose brought them all low.
Now no longer will my mouth be able to speak of this
By name among the deathless ones, since I have been very much infatuated,
Wretched, not to be most blamed, I was led astray from my mind,
And having lain with a mortal I have planted a child beneath my girdle.
When first he should see the light of the sun
Mountain-bred deep-bosomed Nymphs will rear him,
They who dwell on this mighty and very divine mountain:
They obey neither mortals nor immortals,
Long do they live and eat immortal food,
And rush in a fair dance among the deathless ones.
With them, Seilenos and the keen-sighted Argus-slayer
Joined together in affection in the inmost part of charming caverns.
When they are being born, at the same time high-topped trees and silver firs
Put forth shoots upon the man-feeding fair flourishing earth,
In the lofty hills.
They call the steep places [which are] established sacred precincts
Of the deathless ones: and no mortal ravages them [the trees] with iron:
But when fate of death should draw near,
Fair trees dry up upon the earth,
And tree-bark dies all around, and from [them] branches fall,
And alike their life leaves the light of the sun.
They will rear my son, having him with them.
And when first much-desired youth should seize him,
They will lead him to you here, and they’ll show the child to [your] sight.
But I, in order that I might recount for you all these things in my guts,
I will come back in the fifth year, bringing my son.
And when first you should behold him with your eyes, your scion,
You’ll rejoice, seeing [him]: for he will be very like a god:
And immediately you will bring him to wind-rushing Ilion.
And if anyone among the death-doomed mortals should ask you
What mother laid up your beloved son under her girdle,
To him you, reminding yourself, are to speak as I command:
To declare him to be offspring of a Nymph – her face like a budding flower –
One of the ones who dwell here on the mountain and are clothed in forest-trees.
If you should declare and boast that, in senseless spirit, you
United in affection with well-crowned Kythereia,
Zeus, being angered, will smite you with a smouldering thunderbolt.
All is said for you: and you in your guts understand,
keep quiet and don’t name me, but do reverence for the wrath of the gods.”

And so saying, she darted speedily towards the sky.
Hail, goddess, ruler of well-built Cyprus!
Having started with you, I’ll pass on to another in song.
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Books 2016: 96-115

96. Nisi Shawl, Everfair. Tor, 2016. Copy via Tor.com.

Read for review for Tor.com. Interesting and meaty and fascinating and magnificent.

97. Marie Brennan, Cold-Forged Flame. Tor.com, 2016. Copy via Tor.com

Read for review for Tor.com. Short and sharp and intense and fun.

98. Pol Robinson, Open Water. Bella Books, 2011. Ebook.

Lesbian romance involving the US women's Olympic rowing team and the Beijing Olympics. Sports romance, I guess? Not half-bad.

99. D. Jordan Redhawk, Broken Trails. Bella Books, 2013. Ebook.

Lesbian romance involving endurance sled racing in Alaska. Pretty fun.

100. D. Jordan Redhawk, Darkstone. Bella Books, 2015. Ebook.

Lesbian fantasy romance involving Los Angeles, music, fated chosen ones on opposite sides, and a magical gate to a realm of elves. It's better than that makes it sound, but it's really more than a little cheesy.

101. D. Jordan Redhawk, Freya's Tears. Bella Books, 2014. Ebook.

Lesbian science fiction romance. The setting and the plot reminded me a little of Firefly, only the setting isn't as well developed -- not that Firefly's setting really was -- and the plot is forgettable, because I can barely remember anything about it. (I'm not even sure if it's actually a romance. I'm guessing so, since all the author's other books tend in that direction.)

102. D. Jordan Redhawk, Lichii Ba'Cho. Bella Books, 2014. Ebook.

If this didn't start life as a Xena fanfic, I will eat my hat. (And I do not own a hat.) Post-apocalyptic biker gangs, really bad cyberpunk. Poorly developed, but the characterisation shows promise.

103. D. Jordan Redhawk, Orphan Maker. Bella Books, 2013. Ebook.

Lesbian romance. Post-disease-apocalypse where everyone post-puberty died. YA feel, somewhat underdeveloped in parts. Strong characterisation.

104. D. Jordan Redhawk, Tiopa Ki Lakota. Bella Books, 2013, originally published 2000. Ebook.

Historical "lesbian" (it may make more sense to read one of the characters as a trans man?) romance set mostly among the Lakota and partly among the white settlers of the American frontier. Pacing is an occasional issue, but the characterisation is great, and so is the cultural stuff.

105. D. Jordan Redhawk, Alaskan Bride. Bella Books, 2016. Ebook.

Lesbian romance set in the 19th century Alaskan frontier. Entertaining, solid characterisation, but there's not really enough there there to make it really work.

106-109. D. Jordan Redhawk, The Strange Path, Beloved Lady Mistress, Inner Sanctuary and Lady Dragon. Bella Books, 2012-2015. Ebook.

It's a YA lesbian not-a-vampire version of The Princess Diaries? I think? With more coming-of-age, murder, reincarnation, and magic. It's far more entertaining that it has any right to be.

110. Sheryl Wright, Don't Let Go. Bella Books, 2016. Ebook.

Lesbian romance involving a family-owned company, secrets, lies, and disability-acquired-through injury. Not half-bad.

111. M. E. Logan, Tempered Steele. Bella Books, 2015. Ebook.

Here's a peculiar beast. It's a collapse-of-society-as-we-know-it economics-of-scarcity novel, with indentured labour and anti-indentured-labour campaigners. (And lesbian relationships.) It's got an odd abuse-recovery and power-imbalance argument going on, and I'm not entirely sure what its emotional and thematic centre is... but it's an entertaining read.

112. Emily Skrutskie, The Abyss Surrounds Us. Flux, 2016.

Do you know how much I wanted to like this novel? I had it described to me as "pirates and seamonsters and lesbians" and I was SOLD. And it's a fun read, but the logic of its worldbuilding -- people train seamonsters to protect industrial shipping from pirates, but the potential for seamonsters as weapons of war is not hardly acknowledged -- is a little off. Plus, our main character trains seamonsters and gets kidnapped by pirates who want her to train one for them -- and she ends up killing joblots of people because she is in love with a teenage pirate whose life is being threatened to make the main character DO THE MURDER.

(Also the main character is more emotionally invested in seamonsters than people.)

So its moral centre is a wee bit off. I don't find killing many to save one all that justifiable.

On the other hand, seamonsters. The seamonsters are pretty great. So is the burgeoning friendship/relationship between Cas, the main character, and Swift, the pirate girl who is basically her permanent guard. The problems of the power imbalance between them are directly addressed and not glossed over, so that's good.

It's only at the novel's climax that it pisses away a really good thing with unexpected a) illogic and b) antiheroics.

113. Mary Robinette Kowal, Ghost Talkers. Tor, 2016. Copy via Tor.com.

WWI. Mediums. Spies. Murder. Death. Spirits of the dead. Ghosts. Hauntings. Explosions.

This is a fun book. The characterisation is a little bland, and the conclusion is a little rushed -- and the dénouement is a little too pat -- but it's fun. (There might be some leaps of logic.)

114-115. Jack Campbell, The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Steadfast and The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan. Titan Books, 2014-2015.

Space opera. Just like the other books in Campbell's series. Pretty terrible space opera, but sometimes one wants a honking great space battle and no mistake.

Gym log

Sep. 6th, 2016 08:47 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Weigh-in: 110kg approx

Benchpress: 1x5 @65kg, 4x5 @70kg, 1x5 @60kg.
Squats: 5x5 @100kg.
Lat raise: 3x10 @8kg/arm.
Military press: 3x10 @5kg/arm.
Incline situps: 2x10.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
To Aphrodite

Then she answered him, Aphrodite daughter of Zeus:

“Anchises, noblest of death-doomed mortals,
Be of good courage and fear nothing much in your guts,
For you have no reason to fear to suffer anything evil from me,
Nor from the other blessed ones: since you’re loved by the gods.
You will have a beloved son, who will be lord among the Trojans,
And children with be born to his children forever:
And his name will be Aineias, on account of the dread anguish I bore myself,
Because I fell down upon the bed of a mortal man.
Those from your stock/kindred/race [will be/were] always
Among death-doomed mortals, most like the gods in form and stature.
Indeed, all-wise Zeus carried off fair-haired Ganymede,
For the sake of his beauty, so that he might be among the deathless ones
And so that he might pour out wine for the gods all through the house of Zeus,
Wondrous to see, honoured by all the deathless ones
As he draws red nectar from out of the golden mixing-bowl.
But unceasing grief possessed Tros in his guts, for he did not know
To where the god-inspired whirlwind had carried off his beloved son:
And afterwards [after Ganymede was carried off] he lamented him unceasingly every day,
And Zeus pitied him, and give him compensation for his son –
High-stepping horses, [the ones that] bear the deathless ones,
He gave these, a gift, to him: and the Argus-slayer, guide [Hermes],
Told him everything in exact detail, by Zeus’s command,
How he [Ganymede] would be immortal and undecaying, equal to the gods.
And so when he heard all the tidings from Zeus,
Then he [Tros] no longer wept, but he rejoiced in his spirits within,
And joyfully he mounted the storm-footed horses.
And in this way again golden-throned Dawn carried off Tithonos,
Of your lineage, similar to the undying ones.
She went down, begging the cloud-dark son of Kronos
[That he might] be undying and [that he might] live forever.
For her, Zeus nodded assent, and ordained her desire.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
To Aphrodite

And so then they mounted on the well-wrought couches,
And first he tore away the brilliant ornaments from her skin,
Curved brooches and arm-rings and flower-cup earrings and chains,
And he unfastened her girdle and stripped off her splendid garment
And Anchises lay down upon the silver-ornamented bench:
And he, though a mortal, by the will of the gods and
By immortal decree, lay with a goddess all unknowing.

And in the hour when herdsmen drive their cattle
Back to the place of rest, and fat sheep from pasturages adorned with flowers:
[Aphrodite] let sweet-tasting balmy sleep fall on Anchises,
And she clothed her skin in fine garments,
And when she’d clothed herself all well close about her skin in a state suited to goddesses,
She stood beside the bed, and her head reached to the
well-wrought roof: and divine beauty shone from her cheeks,
of the kind that is [the beauty] of well-crowned Kythereia,
and forth from sleep she roused him, and she spoke speech and from it she named him:

“Arise, descendent of Dardanos! Why now do you pass the night in sleep without waking?
Consider if I seem to be of the same station as that person
which you first saw with your eyes?”

So she spoke: and he from sleep heard instantly.
And so he beheld the neck and the fair eyes of Aphrodite,
And he dreaded her warning and turning aside he looked in another place.
And he covered his fair face again with his cloak,
And entreating her he spoke winged words:

“As soon as I first saw you, goddess, with my eyes,
I understood you were like a god: though you did not speak real truths.
But I beg you by aegis-bearing Zeus,
Don’t let me abide among men who live fleeting [lives]
But pity me: he’s not a strong man afterwards,
The man who lies with deathless goddesses.”
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
To Aphrodite

And he cast desire – sweet to the taste – for Anchises into her heart,
Anchises who then in the high hills of many-fountained Ida
Was grazing his cattle, his living body like the immortals.
When she saw him, laughter-loving Aphrodite
Passionately desired him, and terrible yearning seized her in her guts.
And thereupon she went to Kypros, to Paphos, she plunged into her incense-fragrant temple:
There where her sacred precinct and her incense-fragrant altar are.
And going in there, she shut the shining doors,
And there the Graces bathed her and anointed her with ambrosial oil,
Such [oil] as dews the gods, who exist eternally, sweet immortal [oil],
Filled with sweet smells, it belonged to her.
And when she had clothed her skin well with all her fine garments,
And adorned herself with gold, laughter-loving Aphrodite
Forsook fragrant Kypros and made haste to Troy,
Swiftly passing along a road aloft among the clouds.
She came to many-fountained Ida, mother of wild beasts,
And she went straight to the farmstead across the hill. And after her, paying court,
Went grizzled wolves and fierce lions,
Nimble bears and leopards that deer cannot sate.
When she saw them her spirit delighted within her,
And she put desire into their breasts, and at once
They all lay down in pairs upon shady dens.
And she arrived at the well-wrought dwellings,
And she found him, after he’d remained behind alone at farmsteads far from other [people],
The hero Anchises, who had beauty from the gods.
The [others] were all following cattle across the grassy pastures,
And since he was left alone in the lodgings far from others,
He rambled here and there, playing loudly on the kithara.
She stood before him, Aphrodite daughter of Zeus,
With her shape and form like an unmarried [mortal] girl,
Lest he, when he beheld her with his eyes, be afraid.
And Anchises when he saw her, observed and admired
Her form and shape and her glittering garments,
For she wore a most radiant robe like fiery sunlight,
Fine and golden and embroidered all over: and as the moon
Shone on her breasts – soft to the touch – [she was] a wonder to behold.
And she had winding twisted ornaments, shining ones,
And very fine chains wound around her tender throat.
Eros seized Anchises, and facing her he gave voice to speech:

“Hail, Queen, whichever you may be of the blessed ones who’s come to these houses,
Artemis or Leto or golden Aphrodite,
Or noble-minded Themis, or gleaming-eyed Athena,
Or maybe you come here as one of the Graces, those who
Are companions to all the gods, and who are called deathless,
Or one of the Nymphs who dwell in fair groves,
Or one of the Nymphs who dwell about this fine hill
And its river-streams and grassy meadows.
I’ll make you an altar on the highest place,
Visible in the country for miles around,
And I’ll perform fine sacrifices in every season.
Since you have a gracious spirit,
Grant [that I may] be a very distinguished man among the Trojans,
And grant [that I may] make hereafter strong seed,
And that [I may] myself live long and well to see the light of the sun,
And [to be] blessed with riches among people, and [that I may] come to the threshold of old age.”

Then Aphrodite daughter of Zeus answered him:

“Anchises, noblest of earth-born mortals,
Mark you I’m no god: why do you compare me to the deathless ones?
I’m mortal, and a mortal woman mother bore me.
Otreus of famous name is my father – perhaps you know him by repute –
Who’s lord over all well-walled Phrygia,
And I know well your tongue and ours,
For a nurse from Troy’s halls reared me:
She tended me right from when I was a small child,
Taking me by the hand with a mother’s love.
So indeed I know your tongue well.
But now the Argus-slayer, golden-wanded, carried me off
From the dance of golden-distaffed loud-sounding Artemis,
And the many maidens and girls – whose parents are courted with oxen –
I danced with, and the boundless crowd [that was] all around:
From there the gold-wanded slayer of Argus carried me off:
And he carried me over many fields of death-doomed mortals,
And much [that was] ownerless and untilled, where creatures
That eat raw flesh roam about down shaded streambeds,
And I did not expect to touch the life-giving earth with my feet [again].
He promised that I would be called a lawful spouse
In Anchises’ marriage-bed, and that I would bear you splendid children,
And when he told [me this] and pointed [you] out, the mighty Argus-slayer
Went away again in search of the tribe of the undying ones,
But I came to you as a suppliant, for it is a strong compulsion for me.
I implore you, by Zeus and by [your] noble ancestors –
For no ignoble ones would bring forth any one like you –
When you take me, an unwedded girl with no experience of [the act of love],
Show me to your mother who has known [you] well,
And to your kindred brothers, full-brothers of the same parents.
I won’t be a shameful marriage-relative to them, but a befitting one.
Send a messenger quickly into Phrygia of swift steeds,
To tell my father and my grieving mother:
They’ll send [back] an abundance of gold and woven cloth,
And you’ll receive many and splendid ransoms.
And after you do these things, give a feast for a passionate wedding,
Paying honour to mortals and to the deathless gods.”

And so saying, the goddess cast sweet yearning into his spirit,
And Eros seized Anchises, and he spoke speech and uttered words:

“If you are a mortal, and a mortal woman mother bore you,
And Otreus is your father – of famous name – as you proclaim,
And you have come to this place here by the aid of Hermes, undying minister,
You will be called my bedfellow for all days:
And in that case no god nor any death-doomed mortal
Will hold me back in this place until I’m united with you in desire
Right away now: not if the far-darter Apollo himself
Were to let loose a dreadful arrow from his silver bow.
I would wish then, woman befitting a goddess,
After I mounted your marriage bed, that I’d sink into Hades’ house.”

And so saying, he took her hand: and laughter-loving Aphrodite
Stirred, and turning around under [his] fair eyes,
Cast [herself] on the bed well-spread with cloths,
Where she was helpless for the lord in soft mantles, being spread out.
There in the upper parts the skins of bears and loud-roaring lions were laid,
The ones he’d slain in the lofty hills.

Gym log

Aug. 24th, 2016 08:35 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Weigh-in: roughly 111kg

Benchpress: 2x10 @65kg, 1x6 @65kg, 2x4 @60kg
Squats: 3x10 @90kg
Bicep curl: 3x10 @8kg/arm
Lat raise: 3x10 @8kg/arm
Cycling: 3x 00:30 intervals, 1.7km in 05:00
Rowing: 3x 01:00 intervals

Gym log

Aug. 22nd, 2016 07:22 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
I forgot to log my Friday gym, and it is sufficiently far in the past that I cannot remember my sets exactly.

But today's is still relatively fresh.

Weigh-in: 111kg approx (gym is now using an analogue scale with small numbers)

Benchpress: 1x5 @65kg, 4x5 @70kg, 1x5 @60kg
Squats: 5x5 @110kg
Lat raise: 3x10 @8kg/arm
Bicep curl: 3x10 @8kg/arm
Incline situps: 1x10, 1x10, 2x5


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