alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Long list of stuff I have read and played etc!

Note that almost all the tv and movies are on Australian Netflix.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: exploding train (train)
SO MANY SPOILERS OMG.

So, first, off, the triggering content warning!
Spoiler: Just a line describing the trigger )

Ok and now some more detailed spoilery discussion, read at your own risk etc.

MORE SPOILERS )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
A fluffier, less morally ambiguous Farscape/Firefly-ish "found family of misfits have adventures in space" story where everyone is nice and there's a very obvious attempt at inclusiveness and diversity, including POC, queer, and disabled characters in significant roles getting to be fully rounded and happy. It's very comforting and light but still has enough narrative tension and plot to be engaging. Also, there's AIs. Overall I quite enjoyed it!

EDIT: After ranting to a friend my issues boil down to (a) It feeling pointedly Progressive while actually having a bunch of unfortunate implications (b) the author wanting the heroes to be Good People Who Do The Right Thing to an extent that felt morally and intellectually lazy especially given the author's narrow vision of what "good people" can look like.

But it rubbed me the wrong way 'progressive' speculative fiction often does )

Arrival

Nov. 12th, 2016 05:58 pm
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (I like pi!)
This is a really good, thoughtful, humanist science fiction movie. It doesn't turn into horror or action halfway through, it's just about ideas and emotional truth. The heroine isn't badass in any traditional sense, but is still great, and gets treated like a real person instead of a Girl (eg she wears sensible clothes with her hair in a ponytail in situations where that's what any real person would do)

At times it crossed my personal line from "meditative and beautiful" into "ponderously slow" for a minute or two, and I imagine that if "linguist solves alien language problem by thinking about it very seriously" isn't your idea of a good time you'd it boring. But I loved it!

I read the original short story years ago and feel like the movie captures the stuff I loved about it (and I loved it a lot), some aspects didn't translate well to film (eg they do cut out the more technical linguistics) but other parts worked amazingly well. Knowing the plot didn't ruin my enjoyment but Cam LOVED the experience of going in unspoiled and I'm a little sad not to have experienced that.

There's very little "hard science" as in physics etc, Jeremy Renner's physicist character mainly serves as a sidekick. (I think the most sciencey thing he does to progress the plot is solve a fraction) But it's hard scifi in the sense of being about ideas. But also feelings! And a compassion for all people which is something I needed right now. It's also really visually effective, I'm glad we saw it at the cinema.

While ultimately uplifting in a bittersweet sort of way there's some very sad moments and it made me cry.

Content warning about one specific kind of sadness below. This stuff comes up in the first few scenes and I don't spoil anything past that point.
****Content warning, some spoilers**** )
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (I like pi!)
A space opera novel I wanted to like more than I did. In terms of basics it was good, I breezed through it quickly and was engaged the whole way through. But I am left feeling a bit meh now I'm done.

The things people recommended it to me for: diversity, space opera, robots, and maths.
My tl;dr thoughts on which are, respectively: good, ok, ok, and meh )

Star Wars!

Dec. 17th, 2015 10:39 pm
alias_sqbr: A stack of turtles against stars (turtles all the way down)
So: I quite liked it! Not the best movie ever, but about as good as a Star Wars movie by J J Abrams was ever likely to be.

Spoiler free reactions! Has some very broad information, if you want to go in totally unspoiled then... well, I wish you luck, but you should avoid this post as well as most of the rest of the internet :)
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Just finished this and it was a great end to the series. Same flaws as the others, especially the tendency to heavy handed anvils about Privilege, but still overall really great, thoughtful, thrilling space opera with lots of delicious non human intelligences and questions about ethics and The Nature Of The Self.

Pretty much everything I have to say is covered by this spoilery post and the comments to it, I had even been thinking of how to best capslock summarise the exact section she capslock summarises, teehee.

Two extra, VERY SPOILERY thoughts:
spoilers )
alias_sqbr: exploding train (train)
I overall quite enjoyed this film but there were definitely things I didn't like. My feelings are a series of ambivalences which average out positive.
Spoilers for the premise )
alias_sqbr: Alien city skyline (atlantis)
So I just read Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie and they were great, and aimed right at my id: intelligent space opera about a space ship AI stuck in the body of a human :D :D No time travel, alas, but she's thousands of years old and there's flashbacks to earlier times.

The plot is involving and the prose easy to read, I blew through both books in a day each. There's supposed to be a third book in the trilogy but both end on pretty satisfying notes. But I do hope the third comes out soon :)

They're not totally fluffy, there's serious themes like colonisation, rape, and grief and a fair number of unpleasant things happen, but the characters are likeable and develop satisfying relationships, by the end of each book I felt reasonably happy. I was reminded of the Culture novels, Vorkosigan novels, and *cough* the better written Homestuck fanfic about the Alternian empire. But with less makeouts and visceral violence, and not quite as satisfying as those at their best.

The narrator's culture is basically gender blind, so she calls everyone "she" and and every time she's expected to correctly guess people's gendered pronouns like it's obvious she gets gumpy. Most of the characters' genders are left ambiguous, which made for very interesting reading as I considered them as various combinations of male, female, or other.
Some thoughts about the world building, nothing too spoilery )
alias_sqbr: "Creative genius" with an arrow pointing to a sketch of me (genius!)
Fanart Remix Exchange is open for signups! COME JOIN

Penny Stirling has a story published in Heiresses of Russ 2014: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction. Have bought my copy but haven't read it yet, I like lesbians and stuff by friends but don't tend to like short stories.

Book One of Horizon is finished! Horizon is a really interesting alternate history scifi fantasy story [personal profile] whatistigerbalm is writing about historians piecing together history after the world sort of ended (...I think) and trying not to get into trouble for heresy.

I got quoted in a Buzzfeed article about Chris Lilley's brownface. I don't recall being asked for permission, but I would have said yes so eh. At least people are talking about it now.
alias_sqbr: Torchwood spoilers for various episode numbers: Jack dies (torchwood spoilers)
It is 5am and I haven't slept yet due to a cold, so to fill in the time I finally caught up on Person of Interest (currently at the end of season 3).

I stopped watching months ago because of a Certain Event mid season 3 which both upset and annoyed me. I was lured back with the promises of the AI science fiction ramping up and lots of delicious femslashiness between hot badass morally ambiguous dark eyed brunette 30 somethings and that is exactly what I got. Still annoyed and upset but glad I watched.

Spoilers! )
alias_sqbr: (bookdragon)
This is a 90s cyberpunk novel about a lesbian water engineer, it's well written if a bit dry and I enjoyed it, but there is a lot of rape-y stuff that happens on and off screen and some related unfortunate implications (see below)

It is definitely the best example I can think of of a genre novel with a protagonist who is believably mogai/lgbt but whose story has nothing to do with their sexuality. It has some nice, not too heavy handed commentary on corporations and copyright, too, and the non linear structure gives us layered picture of life at the top, bottom, and near bottom of society. I have no idea if the water treatment science is right but it felt realistic. It's a bit grungy but has a basic compassion and optimism at it's core.

My main problems were (a)all the really squicky sex (b)I could see some of the cracks in the plotting (c) I guessed some twists so early I didn't realise they were twists, and so felt a bit deflated when I realised THAT was what we'd been building towards all book.

Finally, there was a subtext I hate in fiction which will probably hit some people with rape triggers super hard. Under a cut for spoilers.
Triggers and spoilers! )
alias_sqbr: A stack of turtles against stars (turtles all the way down)
Once I got over the "people getting dissolved" aspect I really enjoyed this series! And I think that if I hadn't been (a)particularly squicked by that kind of biological scariness and (b)softened by not having read anything remotely horror-y for ages it would have been fine, certainly I felt much better at the end of books 2 and 3 than I did at the end of book 1.

Anyway! If you can deal with a bit of scariness this is quite an enjoyable scifi trilogy, with an interesting female protagonist, moderately inventive worldbuilding, thrills, romance, humour, and likeable (if not super deep) characters (many of whom were female scientists! Having complicated and important friendships!!). It's not the best thing I've ever read, I could see the scaffolding behind the writing more than I would like, especially when it came to the romance (though the love interest himself was nice enough) and spreading out exposition. Avoiding too many info dumps in a row is good, but you have to be a bit more creative than just having three chapters worth of your main character being constantly interrupted every time she tries to read a letter.

I love some clever alien reproductive biology, and this book had lots, as well as some very varied gender roles, but the author fell into some of the typical traps, like making everyone straight (or equivalent) and generally interested in having kids at least in an abstract sense. If you can't even capture the diversity of human reproductive drives/gender etc...

It's definitely a trilogy telling one story, but each book has a moderately neat ending, they don't just stop or end on a cliffhanger or anything. I'll definitely be checking out some of her other books, though I may avoid the ones that look like they focus more on romance since that was the weakest part to me.
alias_sqbr: Hannelore: Worry hat! Bravery plus 10, charisma plus 5 (worry hat)
Yes, you are bored of physics and maths based scifi because you're familiar with all the tropes and know more maths and physics than most scifi authors.

Yes, biological science based scifi can be more engaging, since biology is a science you find interesting but know very little about.

But biological science based scifi also FREAKS YOU THE HELL OUT. Especially when the book turns out to be the first in a trilogy so there's no resolution at the end, and the Big Bad is an inexorably expanding mindless biological threat, eg ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST SQUICKS (zombies are an especially common subsquick)

Ahhhhhhhh. This is why I read romance novels /o\ /o\

The book in question is "Survival" by Julie E Czerneda. And it was mostly a fun, thrilling story about a female scientist who just wants to get back to studying salmon before the season ends but gets caught up in intergalactic affairs despite herself, I especially liked the relationship with her female best friend. A bit like a cross between Larry Niven and Connie Willis, if not quite as good as either.

But....the goo D: D: THE MOUTHS D: D:

(This isn't a spoiler, the first chapter is all about the goo and the mouths. As are every fourth or fith chapter after that. Nnnnnnnng)

I double checked on goodreads to make sure that the third book really is a conclusion to the series, and it is. So I guess I'll read the rest of the trilogy. But I may distract myself between times with regency romances where NOONE GETS DISSOLVED AND EATEN.
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Books:

Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey: I quite liked this, a believable slow burn dystopia set in a Texas town that's become a military border zone. It's a pretty realistic take on what it would be like to be born with mild super powers (super strength) as a disprivilged person in a police state, ie not actually that helpful. It's overall quite compassionate, and optimistic enough that I didn't get depressed despite the dark subject matter (which includes rape and child abuse), though without giving any spoilers the ending while not entirely unsatisfying was the sort of thing that puts me off a lot of YA. Still, the main character is mixed race, poor, and queer, and it's an entertaining and easy read. There was a lot of stuff to do with class and race which seemed mostly ok to me but I'm hardly an expert. I remember seeing someone complain that while the main character's LI is a girl every other important person in her life sems to be a man, and that's definitely true. The female characters aren't bad they're just backgrounded.

I read some ACTUAL POETRY for this “Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative” course that's starting up soon: Ithaca by C.P Cavafy, which gains an extra layer of meaning when you know the author was a Greek immigrant, and Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came which is basically this guy going for a walk and FREAKING OUT about everything, I'm not sure if we're supposed to like him but I wanted to punch him. "He must be wicked to deserve such pain", huh.

Currently reading "The Magic in the Weaving"/"Sandry's Book" by Tamora Pierce. It's...ok, very kids-fantasy, and she mentions the black character's blackness every two paragraphs. Still, it fills in the time waiting for busses pleasantly enough.

TV:

I keep forgetting to say, we've been watching Cowboy Bebop at the fortnightly Wednesday video nights. And now we're finished! It really is a great scifi show, despite the random points where it makes NO SENSE and the way it veers from being quite diverse and humanising everyone to falling into sexist/racist etc cliches. Next up: the movie. Let's see if I enjoy it more now I'm not expecting it to tie up any loose ends from the show.

After that it's either Sailor Moon or Princess Jellyfish, or I try connecting up my laptop and we choose something from Crunchy Roll.

Speaking of Shinichirō Watanabe, I tried Kids on the Slope, his latest story of a reckless fighter, uptight dark haired guy and seemingly-flighty-but-actually-clever girl, this time set in a highschool in 1960s Japan. Being reminded of the end of Cowboy Bebop made me look up the end which made me decide to put off watching more until I'm in the right headspace. Still, it's quite good.

Still watching and enjoying Natsume's Book of Friends and Free.

Games:

Flight Rising was down for a few days and I missed it more than I expected. Since it came back I bought a breeding pair of shiny shiny dragons (..and an extra male by mistake, oops) I find playing puzzle games to earn extra treasure quite relaxing, it's partially filled the hole in my life left by Glitch.

Still playing my douchebag Aeducan through Dragon Age Origins, just murdered Wynne. The only thing that's given me pause so far was letting that demon inhabit the little girl, but it's not like I had the persuade points to save her anyway. (I deliberately haven't given him any persuade points, that way I have to murder and/or intimidate my way out of everything) Morrigan, naturally, finds him quite charming :)
alias_sqbr: exploding train (train)
It was exactly what I was told it would be: a blockbuster about people in giant mechs bashing the crap out of giant aliens trying to destroy the world. There wasn't a whole heap to it beyond that. What there was was relatively progressive/interesting for a robots vs aliens movie but it was still basically the story of a thinly sketched white American guy saving the world.

I've seen a bunch of people compare it to Neon Genesis Evangelion, but as expected it had a lot of similarities to the start of Evangelion (a battered world has had decades to get used to the possible extermination of the human race, giant mecha in bloody battles with massive creepy alien things etc) and very little to the end of Evangelion ("robots" turn out to be shells containing massive humanoids budded from the million year old body of the Angel Lillith and controlled by the souls of the dead pilots' mothers, everyone turns into orange goop as they become one with the universal consciousness etc) I AM DISAPPOINT.
No spoilers just rambles )

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