Apr. 24th, 2014


Aaaaaawwww, yeah!!!!!!!!!

Apr. 22nd, 2014


30 Days of Books - the circus tresaulti

Day 24A book that you wish more people would’ve read

Mechanique. It deserves a much, much larger audience than it has. So far I believe it’s Genevieve Valentine’s only full length novel, but she’s written short stories in anthologies.

It’s a steampunk/clockwork circus tale that fulfills all the promise of the genre and slaps no gears on hats without explanation other than rule of cool. It’s haunting and powerful. The characters are electric, magnetic, terrifying and poignant. The women are allowed to be multi-faceted, sometimes ugly human beings, nuanced and unkind and people unto themselves. The circus is run by a powerful, compelling, unapologetically complex and harsh woman and it’s peopled by survivors sharing a secret and a common dark thread of history and emotion. It’s set post-apocalyptic and it’s just….so beautifully and powerfully written, with both all the style and lush grace of prose you could wish for without sacrificing an ounce of intensity of characterization or tight, dangerous, emotionally unforgiving plot.

the rest of the days )

Originally posted by shiegra @ Dreamwidth with comment count unavailable comments

Apr. 21st, 2014


I've been thinking I might actually watch that From Dusk Till Dawn TV series.

On one hand, I wasn't entirely sure that I liked the movie that much (when I got it off Netflix I signed up for gory Salma Hayek snakevampire fun, not forty minutes of Quentin Tarantino's Issues With Women) and for another, it looked like they were copying a lot of scenes straight from the movie and, well, when you have a so-bad-it's-good movie a lot of film is usually carried by the commitment of the actors and moviemakers to over-the-top. Making a straight copy seems like it might fall flat, and with all respect to the new Seth actor, however I do or do not feel about George Clooney he does have charisma as an actor and he leaves big shoes to fill.

ANYWAY. But someone I know is watching it and it looks kind of asinine and overfiltered and fucked up, just the way I like 'em, and I was considering picking it up as a homework destressor.

(I'm not sure why, but I feel better knowing that Richie's actor found the scenes with the seventeen year old Kate - and I believe her seventeen year old actress - very uncomfortable. Maybe I just like to know that the cast is going into the situation conscious of what the situation is, because that does inform performance and narrative of course.)

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various goings-on

So I was at SakuraCon Friday, Saturday and Sunday - my first convention ever. A friend of a friend had a son who had a hotel room rented and whose friends had backed out. I brought a sleeping bag and went for three days, though the second day I spent half in the manga library and half fleeing to the Pike Place Market (where I hurt my leg) and then napping. A lot. A lot of napping, because at night the two teenage guys also sharing the hotel room got very stoned, watched anime and mournfully shittalked the one guy's girlfriend for no discernible reason.

On the last day I did the exhibition hall rounds, spent way too much money on art, and then bought some manga. :( I wanted to get Samurai Deeper Kyo, but the only volumes they had were like 27 and 32 or something.

In the manga library on Saturday, though, I read 1-11 of Attack on Titan, (also Vagabond) which I liked so much I purchased a handful of volumes from the second day. I want to catch up with the scanlations, if they go significantly farther than the published manga, and then I'll probably sit back and leave it be for a while. That is not the kind of manga I want to keep up with chapter by chapter. I would die of stress.

(I love Mikasa, Eren, Armin, Levi and Sasha. Everyone else I'm emotionally invested in but could take or leave - especially since I agree that the manga so constantly bombards the audience with death and loss and anguish that it begins to have slightly diminishing returns. Or rather, I ate the canon but, as usual, am loosely attached to the necessity of its actual rules.

Also, titan!Eren is super hawt.)

Day 20Favorite romance book

The Gamble by Joan Wolf. Georgiana Newbury needs to provide for herself and her younger sister and, in desperate straits, decides she'll set out to blackmail a gambler and rake into funding a season. The rake is dead but his son is more or less cooperative, and along the way she helps a downtrodden daughter pursue her dream, foils a kidnapping attempt, and strives to approach even her most criminally reckless adventures with staunch practicality.

Guilty of Joan Wolf making you go you're going to let him go??!! towards a secondary male character again, this time far, far more egregiously than the general violent Nice Guy (tm) syndrome.

Day 21Favorite book from your childhood

There was a children's book about two poor families who lived in the desert and a collection of caged and beautiful songbirds that the young son freed instead of buying seeds or a dowry or something...anyway, I loved it as a child. I need to look up the title when I get home. The art was breathtaking.

Day 22Favorite book you own

L.J. Smith's The Forbidden Game. I have this omnibus version of all three books that used to be my sister's. When she lost interest she gave it to me.

Day 23A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

The Abhorsen trilogy. Inkheart. Or a reread of His Dark Materials. Or that Sarah Rees Brennan demon hunting brothers thing. I've been telling myself to read all of these for a bazillion ages.

the rest of the days )

Originally posted by shiegra @ Dreamwidth with comment count unavailable comments

Apr. 17th, 2014


30 Days of Books

Day 18A book that disappointed you

I would say that last Black Jewels book, but I'd been warned ahead of time.

The beginning of L.J. Smith's Vampire Diaries sequels. What a mess.

Day 19Favorite book turned into a movie

Probably Stardust? I liked both the book and the movie, and I thought the changes the movie made were actually made with eye to respecting the earlier story but creating a new product, instead of just repackaging it in service to convenience.

Also Howl's Moving Castle, Miyazaki film and Diana Wynne Jones book.

the rest of the days )

Originally posted by shiegra @ Dreamwidth with comment count unavailable comments


one hundred personal questions

100 questions, snitched from [personal profile] richey.

Read more... )

Originally posted by shiegra @ Dreamwidth with comment count unavailable comments

Apr. 15th, 2014


The First Reviews Are In...

And they are kinder than I could ever have imagined!


I'll quote the sections reviewing my story:

Martha Burns writes:

Popular prejudice is against fan fiction with its slashing and shipping. “The Shadow in the Corner” by Jonathan Andrew Sheen is set in the H. P. Lovecraft universe and it is an homage. A professor’s assistant, Agrawal, meets a grisly fate after an experiment goes awry and he begins to see a shadowy figure out of the corner of his eye. The story is gripping on its own merits and brilliant in the way it incorporates Miskatonic, madness, and Cthulhu.

C. D. Lewis writes:

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will squee! when they learn in the first paragraph of Jonathan Andrew Sheen's “The Shadow in the Corner” that the narrator works at Miskatonic University but has not (yet!) succumbed to the madness that overtakes its faculty. The curious reader is referred to the accounts archived in the Arkham morgue – records go back to the '20s and Sheen assures us it's now all online. (So it must be true, eh?) Mention of the Internet and lasers proves the tale comes from the chilling nearness of our own era rather than the safely distant past.

Early disclosure that the tale ends in disaster serves to build suspense – what kind of disaster? The innovation involves String Theory and quantum entanglement – but for the good of humanity the narrator destroyed his notes and daren't say more. “The Shadow in the Corner” leverages Lovecraft fandom to quickly craft a creepy vibe suited perfectly to works of supernatural horror. And what a horror: modern tools and power sources have only brought within closer reach the Elder Things from worlds that lay parallel to our own; you can mail for the tools yourself, even. Not a comforting thought, is it?

Lovecraft’s own revelations of horror, being set in another century, feel distant from a world that knows about high energy physics; continuing their line in a setting that's aware of modern science and even tropes from horror lit delights precisely because it reinforces that indescribable Elder Things remain indescribable even when summoned in the presence of carefully recorded modern instrumentation. Technology doesn’t defeat horror. Sheen's tale mixes modern vocabulary and informalities with Lovecraft’s narrative style, making a mashup entertaining not only for its Lovecraftian content but for its incongruous juxtapositions. Perhaps the greatest delight is the last pair of sentences, and their surprising power to bring suddenly the horror Lovecraft lovers long to feel. If you love Lovecraft, you can't miss “The Shadow in the Corner."

I could not be more thrilled! What a great set of write-ups!


Black Dagger Brotherhood

For fluff reading and because I found a place to read them online, I've been reading J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. It's...it's weird tough-talking id-fluff, full of violence and high emotional drama and emphatically white guys gratuitously appropriating someone's thrill-seeking idea of 'gangster' culture. (Bizarrely, for all this, it's a series that is one of the least problematic when it comes to patriarchal bullshit, consent issues, and gender role fuckery that I've read of late. Which does not mean it is perfect.) But it is pleasantly sincere about the emotions of the characters, treating sexual abuse of male characters seriously, and creating distinct female characters in each other their starring books that I find engaging and that I believe the author actually likes.

The latest book, Lover Avenged, is being really hard on me now because it's delving into the difficulty of caretaking for an infirm relative via the main female character - a nurse and a vampire, who has been tending to her father for decades - and I still feel emotionally and practically that I so profoundly failed my aunt when I went down to look after her. I was utterly unprepared and we both had complicated and inaccurate expectations of the situation, but by the end we were locked in a horrible situation and I should have stepped out earlier. It's just hard to read because it makes me feel even more acutely that I failed, and reminds me I would do absolutely anything to go back and do it again.

Ugh. I've been in one of the worst depressive slumps of the past couple of months in the last few days, and I've been responding with profoundly unhealthy behaviour and cravings I'm not up to talking about on a journal right now, and I was getting panic attacks over my memories of Ruth and taking care of her just a few days before I started reading the book, so...

I do like the main female protagonist - and I like that the wear and emotional unhealthiness of that kind of unrelenting commitment is being treated so seriously and thoughtfully - but this is, completely unfairly, making me respond badly to her too. Resentment is the least of it. I'd drop the book but I've been reading it in off moments in an effort to unwind a bit, and I'm totally invested in Beth figuratively peeling strips of Wrath's skin off in a very sad, mature relationship.

(That's another thing. Okay, naming the main character Ehlena is one thing, but did sehclusion really need that extra 'h'? I know 'ahvenge' didn't. But the overall effect of the series is such that I only find it kind of funny instead of being irritated.)

Originally posted by shiegra @ Dreamwidth with comment count unavailable comments


30 Days of Books

I slacked off for four days. I AM AWFUL.

Day 14Favorite book of your favorite writer

The Fellowship of the Ring.

Day 15Favorite male character

I don't know if I should put Peter Pan here, because he's such a dreadful little shit and I don't generally fuss with him without Wendy (hence how I might not have bothered with the new Pan movie even before they cast Rooney Mara for Tiger Lily no, that's not true, I totally would have seen that movie, Peter Pan is my fave) but he's a delightful dreadful little shit and I think he was a hugely formative trickster and remains an example of the archetype that is my favourite of all character tropes still.

Day 16Favorite female character

Alice of Alice in Wonderland fame, thus introducing my tied-for-favourites character trope: the sensible, self-centred and adaptable little girl full of fantasy but firmly in the cranky category of Not Having With This Shit.

Day 17Favorite quote from your favorite book

A quote that stuck hard with me, from a book that I read when young and got buried in. (Ask me for quotes that resonate with me after years and I'll generally work back to this book.)

“Always learn poems by heart. They have to become the marrow in your bones. Like fluoride in the water, they'll make your soul impervious to the world's soft decay.”
― Janet Fitch, White Oleander

the rest of the days )

Originally posted by shiegra @ Dreamwidth with comment count unavailable comments

Apr. 13th, 2014


In an effort to keep my self-promotion as obnoxious as possible...

As I feel I've missed out on being truly obnoxious, I felt that, while reminding you all that it's a mere twenty-three days before the May/June issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction hits the stands, containing my short horror story "The Shadow in the Corner," I should also reassure you that the task of writing the story took ABSOLUTELY NOTHING out of me, as can be seen in this "Before & After" picture:

Me, before and after writing "The Shadow in the Corner"

Just so you know.

Apr. 11th, 2014


30 days of book meme

You know the way stories occasionally hire people to stand outside on the sidewalk waving signs? Well, one of the stories on the main drag towards home has gotten the bright idea to purchase a mechanized doll and lean it against a tree to move the sign in circles. It's this weird department-store type dummy, and every time I go past it I see the motion, initially think it's a human being, and then catch sight of the bland, featureless oatmeal-gray face under the blonde wig and the thin stiff limbs under a half-assed attempt at clothing the dummy.

It's a little unsettling. Every dang time.

Day 12A book you used to love but don’t anymore

I'm going to have to say Blood and Chocolate. I can't read it anymore for all the gaslighting, rape culture and explicit sexual threat being dressed up as 'empowerment' and 'freedom.' I loved it to pieces when I was younger, and I still love Vivian glorying in her power and wolfiness, but the flavour of the misogyny is just too tough for me at this point.

Day 13Your favorite writer

I guess I'm just gonna say J.R.R. Tolkien. I took refuge in his books when I was little, and they still give me something no other book does. My dad read The Hobbit to us on a plane trip when I was seven and it made an irrevocable impression.

the rest of the days )

Originally posted by shiegra @ Dreamwidth with comment count unavailable comments


Vampire Hunter D

Seriously, one of these days I've got to embark on a reread and make an index of all the monsters and Frontier phenomenon that are namedropped/briefly described, (not to mention materials, supplies and mundane detritus) because most of them sound so interesting I immediately want a whole book about them.

Originally posted by shiegra @ Dreamwidth with comment count unavailable comments