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the sort-of-bookcrossing shelf (it's not part of the actual bookcrossing network) here in the village continues to be exceptional. Someone's got seriously good taste hereabouts... Since I moved here, I've found Charles Stross' The Fuller Memorandum there (in English!!), which introduced me to the Laundry series - a series which pushes *all* the right buttons for me, and which I'd never have discovered without that accidental introduction, because I'm not usually that keen on series; I've found John Crowley's Little, Big (in German; I read it in English, three years ago, but would love to give it so some people who don't read English), and most recently, Haruki Murakami's Hardboiled Wonderland, which was recommended to me by dunkle_feuer, and which does indeed look very interesting. There's also often awesome stuff there which I don't take, because I don't want to be too greedy. And sometimes there are books (even quite unusual ones) that I already own. At least one person here must have a reading taste very similar to mine. Maybe I should leave them a note and ask for a meeting...
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(Give me some idea of what you like, though, so I can decide what to rec!)

Really,

Dec. 1st, 2013 12:19 am
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(print) SF(etc.) is my new (not so new) fandom.

I mean, I've been loving the genre(s) for a while - hesitantly since my childhood, openly since my twenties, but in the last two or three years my love has really gone to another level. It's my #1 geekish obsession now. I have a list of Stuff to Read that is a mile long. I have fucking *cravings*, like you might have for chocolate (or stronger stuff), when I collect new authors and titles to add to it.

Sadly, I also have an annoying Real Life that keeps me too busy to talk here much at all anymore. Or anywhere, really. (Yes - this means I've also had to break the tumblr habit. Stopped cold turkey five weeks ago, due to the sudden arrival of a part-time job; that job - limited, from the beginning, to those five weeks - has now been replaced with renewed and increased job-hunting efforts, as well as renewed and increased goldsmithing efforts, which combined are keeping me super-busy. In fact, I'm so busy I can't even spend a lot of time reading.)

HALP
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will not do for you:

Help you to wake up gently.

What waking up and immediately putting on a DW audio book and going back to bed *will* do for you:

Make you have the most extraordinary Doctor-filled dreams (when you should be up and working). In my case, the scenario was partly lifted from Christopher Priest's Inverted World, which (sort of) is about a world distorted by a gravity anomaly. Mixing that with the Doctor made for a very wild ride...
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is that I always get tempted away from social things by books or comics (mostly books and comics, that is. Occasionally TV or games.)

I really think, sometimes, that I need therapy to learn to cope with *people*. It can't be normal that even *pleasant* social interaction is so draining for me that I shy away from it, can it?

I've been job hunting and doing housework and reading, mostly. Yes, I stopped the LJ catch-up almost immediately after I'd started. There was a rather large number of interesting job ads recently, but that's no excuse, really.

Gah.

Have some recs:

[livejournal.com profile] beccatoria made another awesome Farscape vid! Actually, I'm sure she's made at least a dozen good vids recently, because she went a bit crazy last month and tried (possibly even managed?) to make one vid(let) per day. So head over there and enjoy!

Did you realise you can read shitloads of classics of the fantastic genres for free on gutenberg.org? I've decided it's time to check out some of that old stuff, and have read Peter Pan and am currently reading The Napoleon of Notting Hill (I read The Man Who Was Thursday years ago, though maybe a reread is in order...) Peter Pan was much odder, and darker, than I expected. TNoNH is about as odd as I expected, because after TMWWT I expect major weirdness from Chesterton. Got any recs of other old stuff I should check out? Maybe A Voyage to Arcturus? That's definitely available there. Or I could try to get back into News from Nowhere, I started that two years ago and then was interrupted by uni stuff...

I've also reread two webcomics I'd more or less stopped checking regularly because they were (and still are) in the habit of going on really long hiatuses. They're both really really good, though. Dicebox is social science fiction with beautiful art and very three-dimensional characters and relationships. Hero is fantasy with religous/mythological overtones, possibly set after some apocalyptic(?) conflict between some analogues between the forces of heaven and hell. Or something. Beautiful digital watercolour manga art, and a surprising sense of humour. (For even more webcomics, check out the links in my sidebar here.)

I've spent a bit of time playing flash games, too:

I really enjoyed Little Rocket, despite the fact that it took me ridiculously long to learn how to control the rocket. But when I finally had the hang of it, I played the entire game through twice.

Endeavor is a nice, big-pixeled exploration platformer.

Looming plays like an extremely minimalist, retro version of Myst.

Seasons is another beautiful web toy/experience by the maker of Windosill.

The Dreamerz (don't ask me about the stupid "z"!) is a charming little point-and-click adventure that feels like you're reading a slightly surreal picture book.

And Transform is another example of patented Eyemaze madness. In other words, it's awesome.

****

I just rediscovered a very fitting old tag so I'm using it...
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Still like it.


**

Currently reading:

Neal Stephenson: Anathem (awesome)
Mark Z. Danielewski: House of Leaves (creepy)

Reading them in parallel because a) I want to make Anathem last longer and b) House of Leaves on its own would creep me out too badly.


**

Regarding the flat:

- Washing machine broken again
- Hot water access decidedly spotty
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I've had a somewhat calmer week due to a lack of job offers. Then, a couple days ago, a whole bunch cropped up, all with the same due date, so I'm all busy now again. To prepare for one of the applications, I'm going to travel to the small town where my dad was born, tomorrow, to visit a museum there. This will be the first time I go there on my own since my grandparents died. Maybe I'll find time to visit the cemetery, too. I'm not sure I could find their graves on my own, though.

Thanks to the period of relative calm, I've managed to clear a little bit of space in my mind for fic writing. I've made some - modest - progress on the nuclear fic. Oddly, the latest part of the fic seems to be all about vegetables. I wish I could say I'll keep writing now, but with all the applications I have to send in the next few days, it's looking doubtful.

Which reminds me again of how much it sucks that to get a chance to survive financially, you have to basically stop doing everything you really want to do. Even after all these years of growing up and getting used to "the way things are", that still feels morally wrong to me. Maybe I'm not quite done growing up yet, after all.

And the other thing I still haven't figured out how to integrate into my life properly is, of course, activism. Getting a paying job in this field is as unlikely as ever, so I have to find a way to do it "on the side". And I've recently read a lot and thought a lot and come once more to the conclusion that there is no really effective course of action short of a complete remodelling of my life, and I still don't know how to even begin that.

Currently reading: Octavia Butler: Parable of the Talents. Just started, so I can't say much yet, except that this - along with Parable of the Sower, the first part of the series - really feels like it's the future we're heading towards.
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This, even more than my acute lack of time, explains my near-complete absence hereabouts. To load a single page I have to hit the refresh button dozens of times. Sometimes it doesn't work at all, often for hours at a time. When it does work, it's as slow as if we were back in 1998, on a 56k modem.

I spend what little spare time I have reading, or watching some of the TV I brought (Terminator, mostly - still haven't quite finished that show). I've finished the lovely Litany of the Long Sun omnibus, and sadly couldn't go on immediately to read the next volume, Epiphany of the Long Sun, as I don't own that yet. Will have to wait for Christmas for that one... I'm reading an omnibus volume of the first three Vlad Taltos books by Steven Brust now - have finished the first two and am a couple of chapters into the third. I wasn't overly engaged by the first two, but it's getting more interesting now with the third. Vlad is about to acquire some more awareness, it seems, and Brust is getting around to drawing us deeper into the social politics of his society. If this is indicative of the way the series will be heading, I may stick around for the next volume. If it had continued like the first two books I probably wouldn't. I've realised that I read books either for character, or for atmosphere/worldbuilding. Either of these is enough to hold my interest, though of course a combination of both is best, but I don't really read for plot. Plot-focused readers would probably find a lot to enjoy in the first two Vlad Taltos books. But for me, the worldbuilding was too thin (basically, standard sword and sorcery type fantasy mixed with mafia tropes), and Vlad as a character wasn't sympathetic or interesting enough. But I think he's getting more depth now, and so is his world.

My busted shoulder is still busted. I should probably finally go and see a doctor about that.

On the plus side, our washing machine may be fixed soonish. And the weather has improved. Sadly, with my busted shoulder, taking photos is somewhat painful.

A List

Sep. 18th, 2010 01:26 am
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This - I think - is what is/will soon be on my Favourites Shelf at home. It's really just my Fat Favourites Shelf - as it lacks sides, only fat books can go up there; others would too easily fall over & fall off my bunk bed, which the shelf is really a part of. Though they're not all *that* fat, not all of them. Anyway. I'm sure I've forgotten one or two - this is a reconstruction from memory, after all. I miss them, being 600 km away from them at the moment. Though, since two are recent favourites, these two are here with me now. But I miss the rest; hence, the list. Lists are magical. Listmaking is a ritual I need, occasionally. No time to go into details about any of these books, I'm afraid - and anyway, I find it hard to articulate precisely why I like them the way I do. Well. Feel free to google. Some of the reasons why other people like them probably resemble mine. Though I think some of my reasons really are quite idiosyncratically my own.

***

(In alphabetical order, not in order of preference. There is no order of preference.)

Clive Barker: Imajica
Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
John Crowley: Little, Big
Samuel R. Delany: Dhalgren
Michael de Larrabeiti: The Borrible Trilogy
Frank Herbert: Dune
Ursula K. LeGuin: Always Coming Home
Doris Lessing: Shikasta
Wolf von Niebelschütz: Die Kinder der Finsternis
Orhan Pamuk: Das schwarze Buch
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings
Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun
Gene Wolfe: The Book of the Long Sun
Austin Tappan Wright: Islandia

***

I think I love all of them for their worlds, and most also for some specific psychological undercurrents. Similar ones, in many cases, though not in all.

Needless to say, there's literally dozens of books that only very nearly missed getting onto that shelf - or may yet make it, after a reread. (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; Tigana; Viriconium; Gormenghast...) I don't think a favourites list can ever be definitive.

Gah.

Sep. 8th, 2010 09:55 pm
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So, yesterday night I bought all the ingredients to make an exotic pureed vegetable soup. And, OF COURSE, when I came home I found out that OUR HAND BLENDER HAD JUST BROKEN.

WTF, Life? You wanna frell with me, Life? You really wanna frell with me?

***

I have to write seven job applications in the next fourteen days. Joy. I mean, it's nice that there's actually such a lot of interesting job offers at the moment - that's not always the case. But, could they come at a *slightly* more manageable pace, maybe? Two days (with most of these 'days' being just the hours of the evening after I come home from work, i.e. maybe nine p.m. to one a.m.) per application just isn't enough. I'm not that quick yet.

***

I forgot to mention this in my whining post recently: finished "The Windup Girl"; still not completely thrilled but I did like it for the way it took our actual current situation (Climate Change, genetic manipulation, Peak Oil...) and fashioned a plausible near-future from that.

Now I'm reading "Litany of the Long Sun" by Gene Wolfe, which is an omnibus edition of "Nightside of the Long Sun" and "Lake of the Long Sun". I'm surprised to say it's compulsively readable, so far - and a very easy read. I love Wolfe even when he's difficult - perhaps particularly when he's difficult - but with stress levels in my life being what they are currently, it's nice to find this book so easy and fun.
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Here's the skinny: the past three and a half weeks have been mostly exhausting and somewhat demoralising. This is not really my employer's fault. It's mostly my frelling complexes. Anyway, not terribly much fun has been had by me, so far - and what's a lot worse: I don't think I've made a terribly good impression, so far. I have two months to correct that. Hopefully.

Aside from work (which, in itself, could actually be kind of fun, if it weren't for my constant "OMG I'm so crap!!!11" complexes), I'm finding it difficult to live so far outside the city. I live so far out I actually have to take the bus to do my grocery shopping, and the shops close early, so on most days I have to hurry home after work without any detours for sightseeing in this theoretically exciting big city, to do my daily bit of shopping. (I have to go shopping frequently because I really can't store huge amounts of food here, due to lack of space, and also, fresh fruit and veggies and bread really don't store all that well for more than a couple of days. So I'm constantly running out of things, which means frequent trips to the supermarket.) Enjoying the city is further made difficult by 1.) the fact that we work very long hours, so there isn't many hours of daylight left after work, 2.) the weather has been nearly constantly very crappy since I arrived, and 3.) I really have to pick up my pace on getting out job applications, which means: at least four out of five evenings, I spend at the laptop, working on cover letters and the like. So, essentially, I have very, very little spare time that really deserves the name. Most days it's like today: I finish my work for the day just before midnight (or, often, even later), and after that hardly feel capable of doing anything but go to bed. (Of course, today "work" only means household work and job applications. I don't work weekends. Well, I do work tomorrow, but that's voluntary, and an exception.) - Anyway: the take-home lesson of *this* part of the experience is: I shouldn't ever move to the suburbs. I'm not made for that lifestyle. I kinda knew that before, but now I have confirmation.

So. What else is there to write about? John Crowley's novel "Little, Big" really is as good as they say. Got it for my birthday and read it over the last three weeks on the train to work and before going to sleep at night, and enjoyed it immensely. Now, I'm reading Paul Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl", which is also good but so far hasn't captured me as much as "Little, Big" did. I think "Little, Big" may be a book I'll put on my favourites shelf, next to my bed (well, technically, the shelf is part of my bed. And I've been meaning to post about it here, and about what's on it. Maybe when I'm back home.)

Oh, and to get to where I'll work tomorrow, I'll have to walk through this: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Alter_Elbtunnel?uselang=de. Kinda excited about that!
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I think I've mentioned before that I love books that do really good world-building - this is one reason why I love Finder, for example. I'm currently reading two wonderful examples of the genre, and reading them very slowly, because I want to savour them.

One I have mentioned before: Austin Tappan Wright's Islandia. The landscapes in that are as vivid as those in The Lord of the Rings, and just as beautiful.

The other I received last week: Ursula Le Guin's Always Coming Home. I'm not as far into that yet as I am into Islandia, which I started reading a few months ago, but I already love it so much that I can't read it fast. I want to make it last.

Both books are like doors to Other Places, just waiting for me to enter them every night. They remind me how much I love the world. (This may seem paradoxical, as they seem to offer escape from the world. But they're reflections of the world, of course. And also, travelling into the inner worlds of Wright or Le Guin is part of living in this world - my idea of 'the world' includes the personal, inner worlds of everyone, and it's one of the greatest marvels of being alive that we can open these inner worlds for other people to visit them.)
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Go here to marvel, and boggle, at the psychology of denial:

And then get angry.

And, no, I still can't tell you where to take that anger so as to use it productively, but I nevertheless think that having that anger is a Good Thing - a first step to something else.

***

Other News:

I'm making some progress on the M.A. front, though I still haven't formulated a precise topic. I'm currently reading or rereading all the comics of my 'core group' (Finder, the works of Donna Barr, Amy Unbounded, Castle Waiting, A Distant Soil, Winging It, Raven's Children), taking detailed notes about the way they treat a number of issues (gender, culture/ethnicity, class, to name just a few). Whatever exact topic I will end up with, this kind of data collection will be necessary, so doing it now will buy me time later - and maybe the close rereading, and the collection of data on certain aspects, will help me to recognise my topic.

***

To Whom It Concerns:

Minor progress on the writing front. That dialogue is a bitch.

***

What I'm Doing When I'm Not Reading Comics or Worrying About the Apocalypse:

Through my research on world building (the main result of which, so far, is that world building is woefully underexplored) I discovered this, and immediately bought it. It's not, so far, all that interesting as a utopia, and it's vaguely racist, I think (though the racism doesn't intrude much on the actual 'plot'; it's just sort of there in the basic setup.) However, it's a nearly perfect example of a book whose main purpose is making a place come alive - a type of book that I'm particularly fond of. I'm reading it very slowly, just to savour the beauty of the countryside. It's like a little bit of a holiday every night before I go to sleep.
hmpf: (angsty)
(Sorry. I don't even watch Torchwood. But I sort of liked that ep title.)

But. Seriously. WTF is it with fic writers and killing Sam recently? Seems like it's the new big fad. Which is kind of odd - as well as kind of fitting - seeing as how the lad's *already* dead! I mean, is it even still possible for him to die in 1973? *g*

Bit of meta about deathfic, angst, h/c etc. )

*

Speaking of dead protagonists. To complement my writing that frelling useless essay/paper/thing about An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge recently (not really - it's just a coincidence, really) I just bought Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman.

Any other texts with dead protagonists I should know? *g* (I know there are a few movies - Jacob's Ladder, Abre Los Ojos... anything else?)
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is that, after losing my great job with the German National Library this February, which ironically prevented me from reading much (well, from reading novels, anyway - it did* allow me to read more than 300 comics in the two years that I worked there. *g*), I have started to read prodigiously again. Well, relatively prodigiously, anway - interrupted by the near-nervous-breakdown a while ago, of course. So, just because for some unfathomable reason I never seem to write about reading here, here's what I've read in the last two or so months:

Karel Capek: Der Krieg mit den Molchen
Walter Moers: Ensel und Krete
Paul Auster: Ghosts
Paul Auster: The Locked Room
Gene Wolfe: Castle of Days
Iain Sinclair: London Orbital
Gert Loschütz: Dunkle Gesellschaft
Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair
Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward
Rosemary Sutcliff: The Silver Branch

Most of these were interesting/pleasant experiences. The Loschütz didn't quite work for me, though (which is okay, as I found this book in the street *g*). I particularly recommend the Eyre Affair and Only Forward; those were two of the more insane, mind-boggling reads I've had in recent years. *g* London Orbital is brilliant, too - not an easy read, but fascinating if, like me, you're interested in the strange, neither city nor countryside places on the margins of big cities. And the Sutcliff I actually read years ago in German, and have been meaning to buy in English for years, which I finally did, recently, to reward myself for finishing my papers. I also bought the next in the series, The Lantern Bearers. (I already had The Eagle of the Ninth.)

Currently I'm reading mostly non-fiction:

Brian Aldiss: Trillion Year Spree
Andre Leroi-Gourhan: Hand und Wort
Herbert Marcuse: One-dimensional Man (rereading)
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Today I had a doctor's appointment which ended up a bit more painful than I had expected. So, on the way back home, I felt I'd earned the right to drop in at the art book bargain shop - where I found this... for 12 euros.

Yes, I bought it. As I said: I'd earned it! ;-) Plus, I hadn't used up my monthly books budget yet. (Now I have.)
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well, I'm pretty certain I want to give Dostoievsky a chance, sometime soon, now that I've determined that Tolstoy is not quite my cup of tea.

There are other authors and books, too, but somehow, I never find it as easy to recite my non-geeky 'to read' list off the top of my head as my geeky list. I guess the geeky stuff is somewhat closer to my heart. ;-)
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Thank you, thank you, thank you, my Sisters, for giving me The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. It's *exactly* the kind of book I like - it has flaws, but it's *interesting*, original (surprisingly so, since many elements would appear to be lifted from Tolkien, at first sight), slightly monstrous. . . It contains a whole world.

This, it seems, is a good year for reading. In the last few years, I only discovered one book of that kind a year. This year, I've already discovered two. (The first was Michael de Larrabeiti's 'Borrible' trilogy whose praise I have already sung here repeatedly.) I've also read some less impressive but nevertheless very satisfying stuff, such as the Miles Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold, and the Harry Potter series.

I'd almost forgotten how much I love reading, immersing myself in a book. I was too busy, the last two or three years. I'm still busy, but it's a different kind of busy - until recently, there always was some nagging awareness of neglected duties at the back of my mind that made it impossible for me to relax. Now I'm between universities, between countries, between responsibilities. I'm free, kind of. And I can read.

I have quite a few books still on my 'to read' stack - among them some very welcome recent additions, mostly birthday presents - but I love making lists of books I want to read, so here are a few things I want to read when I'm done with the books on my 'to read' stack:

- Jonathan Carroll: The Land of Laughs
- Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun
- Dan Simmons: Hyperion
- Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett: Good Omens
- Iain Banks: Feersum Endjinn (or maybe some other book by Banks, haven't quite decided yet)
- Robert Zelazny: The Chronicles of Amber
- Ursula LeGuin: The Earthsea Triloy/Quartet(?)
- Connie Willis: To Say Nothing of the Dog (See, [livejournal.com profile] veritykindle, I rememeber recommendations!)
- Steven Brust: The Book of Jhereg
- Samuel Delany: Babel-17
- Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination
- Cordwainer Smith: Norstrilia

Yes, it's all geeky stuff. So what? I'm embracing my geekiness, nowadays. ;-)

Anything you think I should definitely read? Recommend it to me, here and now! I always remember recommendations, even if I only come around to reading them a few years from now.
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(Well okay, not right now, 'cause right now I'm updating my LJ, but, you know what I mean.)

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson. A present from my (((Scape Sisters))), and one of the very few fantasy books that have been on my To Read list for a while. I'm somewhat leery of most fantasy as it tends to be so derivative, but this is one interesting book. Trilogy. Series. Whatever.

I don't want to write more here now, as it's late and I want to get to bed, but for your delectation here's a discussion I found today on a Chronicles of Thomas Covenant board, and which illustrates nicely the main *flaw* of the series:

http://kevinswatch.ihugny.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=857

I highly recommend reading the thread, or at least the first few posts, as it's highly amusing (at least to me).

Oh, and despite this point of criticism, I also recommend reading the series. ;-)
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every website should have one. Here's mine:

http://www.allabouthmpf.com/books.htm

Here's [livejournal.com profile] ankae's:

http://www.ankae.de/buecherregal/

Here's my roommate's husband's:

http://marple.rs.e-technik.tu-darmstadt.de/~hinni/buch.html

Now show me yours. ;-)

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