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Posts Tagged ‘voyage of the basilisk’

Things I did not know (before tonight)

You know how I said that A Natural History of Dragons was in the semifinal round for the Goodreads Choice Awards?

Apparently it wasn’t in the first round. It was, instead, one of the top five write-in candidates during the first round, and thus got added for the semifinal.

That? Is really cool. I don’t know how the write-in votes stacked up against the ones cast for first-round nominees, but the fact that people remembered it well enough to vote for it off their own bat is very flattering.

I think voting ends tomorrow, so if you want to cast your vote, you still can.

In other news, I was trying to make a paper shell for my inflatable globe so that I could finally work out where all the continents are in Isabella’s world, when it occurred to me that what I really needed was a spherical whiteboard. So there’s a white beachball that should be arriving here in the next few days, and I’ll be putting the water-soluble markers we bought for drawing on the D&D battle map to an exciting new use. πŸ™‚

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things I have been enjoying since I got back

1) Not wearing the jacket I’ve been wearing every day for nearly a month.

2) Not wearing the shoes I’ve been wearing every day for nearly a month.

3) Not wearing shoes at all for much of the day, if I do not choose to.

4) Sleeping in my own bed.

5) Sleeeeeeeeeeeeping.

6) Going to the dojo and the gym. (There’s some discomfort associated with this one, because I basically didn’t stretch for a month and also walking = full exercise, but it’s still good.)

7) Seeing Thor: The Dark World, to which I said “Needz moar Loki.” My husband claims they actually filmed extra Loki scenes after the fact.

8) Seeing how my pictures from the trip turned out. (There are still too many of them.)

9) Working on the third Memoir. I sorted out some fun plot points on the trip, so now I get to make them happen.

10) Seriously, though. NO. SHOES.

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Books read, August 2013

Lost quite a bit of this month to travel and being ill. Feh to the latter. (I did, however, get massive amounts of photo-editing done. This is not reading, but it is satisfying.)

Sorcery and Cecelia, Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. Re-read, because I felt like it. Still an enjoyable little romantic alt-Regency fantasy romp.

Child of a Hidden Sea, Alyx Dellamonica. Not yet published; read for blurbing purposes. I’m still trying to put my thoughts into words, but it’s a nifty adult portal fantasy about Stormwrack, a world made up of hundreds of islands, with dozens of different cultures among them. The ways in which the Fleet maintains peace in Stormwrack are interesting.

Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton. Had started this ages ago, then got interrupted. This is about as different of a book as one can get from A Natural History of Dragons while still having both books be describable with the words “Victorian” and “dragons.” If you’re the sort of person who would be entertained by seeing nineteenth-century literary tropes recast with a lot more teeth and claws and fire-breathing, this book is for you. I was entertained.

The Stories: Five Years of Original Fiction on Tor.com. Didn’t actually read all of this, but given its RIDICULOUS SIZE, I feel quite comfortable with deeming it an entire book’s worth of reading regardless. Tor.com released a free ebook containing the first five years of fiction published on their site. As you might expect from anything that large (with that many editors choosing what to buy), the quality is highly variable — hence me skipping stories. Some just weren’t my cup of tea, but some were actively bad, and not every author has a good handle on how to write a tie-in story to promote their novel. (Some of them, however, have a very good handle on it. So it isn’t like you should just skip all the tie-ins.)

Brief aside for a rant: my GOD is this ebook badly formatted. The text itself is generally fine, but the table of contents?

  • 4. The Department of Alterations, by Gennifer Albin
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Notice
  • Contents
  • Begin Reading
  • mac29_ep04
  • mac30_ep05
  • mac31_ep06
  • mac32_ep07
  • mac33_bm01
  • 5. The Fermi Paradox is Our Business Model, by Charlie Jane Anders

It’s all like that. Separate ToC entries for every element in the book, many of them with useless names, like those five lines of gibberish. And for at least three-quarters of the story, the ToC entry for the actual text is “Begin Reading,” which means that the running footer doesn’t actually tell you which story you’re reading. I hope that if Tor.com does this again, they take a moment to clean up the text, because the formatting here looks really unprofessional.

The Spice Islands Voyage, Tim Severin. I’ve been reading this in bits and pieces for, ye gods, I don’t know how long. It’s written by a guy who sailed around Indonesia in a locally-built prahu to recreate the voyage Alfred Wallace was on when he figured out evolution. (There’s an aside about how we don’t know, but have reason to strongly suspect, that Wallace’s letter to Darwin did not in fact arrive right after the latter figured out evolution for himself, but right before, and played a large role in Darwin’s work.) The text goes back and forth between telling the story of Wallace’s voyage, and recounting how the modern crew are checking up on the state of the environment and wildlife in the places he went. In many cases, the latter is kind of depressing — but not always. I sort of wish the book had been more firmly one of those things, rather than being both, but it was still a useful read.

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research question and icon contest followup

Icons first, because that’s the shorter bit: I had someone ask how large the icon should be for The Tropic of Serpents. Answer is, 100×100 pixels; that’s LJ’s size limit. And the door is still open for people to submit their efforts — not because the ones I’ve received are in any way unsatisfactory, but because I didn’t answer this question sooner, and I want to give everybody who’s interested a chance to try! Remember, winner gets either a hardcover of A Natural History of Dragons or an ARC of Tropic when those become available.

Now, the research question. First of all, my deep gratitude to everybody who has responded; keep ’em coming. Secondly, some clarification.

I almost feel like I shouldn’t have mentioned Hawai’i, because so many people have fixated on that. It doesn’t have to be Hawai’i specifically, so if you have recommendations for sources on other Polynesian societies, please share them — New Zealand, Samoa, wherever. Reason being, what I’m after right now is stuff that will give me a broad sense of what traits are shared across the Polynesian cultural sphere, such that we’re able to talk about there being such a sphere. I won’t attempt to drill down more specifically until I have that broad sense, because without it, I don’t really know where I want to drill.

This means that if, say, there are better writings about New Zealand than there are about Hawai’i, then I’ll happily go read about New Zealand instead. I don’t need the specific history of any one place, because I’m not writing about that place; I’m trying to invent a society with broadly similar social/political/religious/economic structures. Mind you, I know enough about the history of anthropological writing to know I’m going to be dodging bullets wherever I go (hi, Margaret Mead; how are you?) — but if there’s an area with fewer bullets flying, please do point me at it. πŸ™‚ As long as it’s part of the Polynesian sphere, it’s good for my purposes at this stage.

As for history in my own setting, I need to invent the nearest continent before I’ll know what I’m doing with that. πŸ˜›

(Speaking of which, I should inflate my globe-beachball again and start doing some more worldbuilding.)

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Help me, o Internets; I don’t know where to start.

So I know you all are still waiting for The Tropic of Serpents to come out, but backstage, we’re already ramping up for the third book of the series. And you know what that means: research!

. . . on a topic I don’t know at all. A large portion of the third book, you see, will take place in an area based on the Polynesian Islands. My knowledge of Polynesian culture pretty much consists of “tourism in Hawai’i,” which, y’know. Not so much. The sole book in my library on the topic is Pacific Mythology, which is an encyclopedia-style overview of the entire Pacific, Polynesian and otherwise.

So where do I start? Does anybody out there have recommendations for good early histories (pre-European contact, though not necessarily pre-other-people contact), “daily life in ancient Hawai’i” type books, local mythology 101, etc?

I also could use recommendations of appropriate music. I make heavy use of playlists to set my brain in the right gear, but I have zilch in the way of stuff from that particular milieu. I don’t even know what it sounds like, beyond “stereotypical hula tunes.” Traditional folk music, movie scores that draw on that kind of sound, all of those things are good.

Help me, o Internets. I’m dead in the water here.

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