October 16th, 2017
miss_s_b: (Pratchett: Nanny Ogg)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 09:32pm on 16/10/2017 under ,
Obviously for data protection reasons I can't go into much detail about the responses FCC got to the end of conference survey, but I do want to highlight one small area:

The impressive number of you who said Glee was the best fringe event, and the smaller but still impressive number who said we were the best thing about conference full stop, and the hardy few who said the best way to improve conference would be to have more Glee, and the one dear sweet soul who said Glee was their main reason for coming to conference?

I am genuinely touched and I love you all. Thank you. It makes it absolutely worth trying to chair a debate with a hangover and a sore throat first thing in the morning after. You guys rule.

Music:: Star Trek on the telly
location: Sofa
Mood:: 'Touched' Touched
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 08:16pm on 16/10/2017 under ,
Sexual violence against women and girls is endemic. There's an absolute mountain of evidence that this is the case, from the experiences of my friends to any number of posts on social media to rigorous studies. A big part of the reason I decided to identify as a feminist is because women are routinely denied bodily autonomy and feminism seems to be the only political movement that cares about this.

links and personal observations about sexual violence against women )

I absolutely believe everybody else's experiences, people I know and strangers writing brave, brave columns and blog posts. I am just a total outlier, and I really shouldn't be. So I'm signal boosting others' accounts, because I know that I needed to be made aware of the scale of the problem, and perhaps some other people reading this could also use the information.
Mood:: 'weird' weird
location: Pumbedita House, Cambridge, UK
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
We took the children to their first ever live rugby match on Saturday after attending Rugby Tots. Keiki is still enamoured of it after six weeks. Humuhumu has realised that she would quite like to do rugby as well and so she is now signed up for the class immediately after his. This brings her class total to three: swimming (Fridays), rugby (Saturday) and gymnastics (Sunday), thus cementing our status as Parental Taxi Service for the next thirteen years or so.

Anyway, the weather was unseasonably mild and sunny and we were sat in the stands next to a lovely group of Brive fans. They tempted the children to cheer for their side with flags. We accepted gracefully and offered them Haribo, which they took, so I'm counting that a win for Anglo-French relationships. Especially since Worcester won, which was definitely not a given considering (a) their early performance, including some dire kicking and (b) the fact that they're pretty much always near the bottom of the Premier league table.

The children loved it, although keeping them engaged did involve bribery with Lego and chips (not at the same time). Afterward they opened the pitch to the children to run around, and then the players came out. We got the Worcester players to sign one of the Brive flags which they did without rancour. It was a superb day out and we were all pleasantly worn out at the end of it.

[L to R: G. Milasinovich (prop), me, Humuhumu, Keiki, P. Humphreys (wing)]

+3 )
Music:: skinny puppy - worlock
coth: (Default)
Reading books I skimmed to write an essay. I would alter a sentence or two, having read these two.

These follow on directly from the previous books in chronological order, with the usual cast of recurring characters - O'Mara, Prilicla, Murchison, along with a large cast of aliens, who may be minor characters but do get proper introductions and speaking parts. Conway interestingly, is frequently mentioned, but almost never actually there, and even when he is there he doesn't get to speak.

The Galactic Gourmet 
The Galaxy-famous chef, Gurronsevas - "a massive six-legged alien of considerable dignity", driven by ego and overwhelming pride, arrives at Sector General to improve the hospital food. After creating certain entertaining kinds of chaos, and making himself largely unwelcome on the Station, he is seconded to the ambulance ship Rhabwar: it is not clear whether he is supposed to be useful or is just being quietly removed from the Station while things settle down. In the event he finds that, like his medical colleagues, chefs can employ professional concerns to bond with individuals of other species, and help to improve first contact situations gone somewhat awry.

This was entertaining, in a slightly repetitive fashion: Guerronsevas is a large, ponderous and rather rigid alien learning better, the third in a row, after Cha Thrat and Lioren. Overall there's a good idea here, and White has fun with the standard tropes of Sector General, but it doesn't feel like essential reading.

Final Diagnosis
A change of tack with this one, with protagonist Hewlitt, an Earth Human male, arriving on Sector General as a patient to puzzle the hell out of everybody: the Diagnosticians - including Conway and Thornnastor - can find no physical cause for his enigmatic symptoms; but Lioren, now Padre, and Lieutenant Braithwaite of O'Mara's office can't find anything psychogically wrong either. Hewlitt slowly wends his way through his own and Sector General's pasts, visiting with Hudlars, Kelgians, Chalders and Telfi on his way to a really, really neat ending that pleases me enormously as an idea.

Hewlitt is a rather stuffy and tedious character whose pale, stale, maleness was trying at times, so this was a book that dragged somewhat in the reading; and White still has to explain ideas rather than showing them. I enjoyed meeting the many aliens, and the cat, and I'm glad I read it.

miss_s_b: (Mood: Brain Hurts)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:46am on 16/10/2017 under
I just got around to filing all my paperwork from Bournemouth conference, and I realised that I'm not going to be able to fit any more into that lever arch file:

This means that paperwork from the three meetings I have remaining to attend this year will need to go in a new file. This displeases me; I wanted to be all neat and do a file per year.

* grumpy face *
miss_s_b: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 16/10/2017
October 15th, 2017
mountainkiss: (preston)
posted by [personal profile] mountainkiss at 08:40pm on 15/10/2017 under

I think I've given access to everyone so if you can't see my locked post then please comment here and I'll add you.


Music:: Schubert, Symphony no. 5 in B flat
white_hart: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] white_hart at 05:31pm on 15/10/2017 under , , ,
I find it impossible to pick a favourite Discworld novel, but Small Gods is definitely in my top five*. It's primarily a wonderfully sharp critique of organised religion, and the way that belief in the structures of a religion can take over from belief in the gods, until the church just becomes another way for unscrupulous people to gain power over others; along the way it also has time to parody Ancient Greece and the Greek philosophers and nail why arms races don't ensure peace. It's also genuinely very moving in places, and I love the way that both Brutha and his god grow and develop as a result of knowing each other; religion, to Pratchett, definitely isn't a one-way exchange.

* Despite the fact that I skipped it when I read the series through for the first time, because I thought it sounded rather like Pyramids, which I hadn't much enjoyed, and the next one was another book about the Witches (to be fair, that was Lords and Ladies which is probably also in my top five), and didn't come back to it until ten years later.
flick: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] flick at 06:43pm on 15/10/2017
Is it just me that's feeling faintly worried about the whole Harvey Weinstein thing?

It does, very much, sound as though the man is thoroughly unpleasant, and will in the fullness of time be prosecuted and convicted for the things that he's being accused of.

But he's been thrown out of BAFTA and the Academy Whose Full Name I Forget, and they're talking about stripping him of his honours, when that hasn't yet happened.

What about that innocent until proven guilty thing? Look at the whole Bramall / Brittan thing: it seems unlikely, but what if the outcome of this is the same?
flick: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] flick at 05:57pm on 15/10/2017 under
We took Jo to the vet this afternoon, for a check up and to get the lab results.

The nipple is healing beautifully, but she has managed to get a bit of an infection in the wound on her side, so now she has antibiotics. We're carrying on with Pooch Corset for another day, after which it will hopefully have dried up and we can switch to a t-shirt instead to let it get more air while still being a bit protected. She's going back on Friday to have the stitches out, unless something else happens before then. Although it's not healing quite as well as the vet would like, it is knitting together ok, so it shouldn't be a problem as long as we can stop her from getting at it.

The lab results were about the best we were hoping for: the lumps did have (cancerous) mast cells, but the one on the nipple is definitely low-grade and the one on her side probably is as well (based on the type of lump it was, as it wasn't possible to test it properly. There is a test that will give more definitive results, but it's £200: we're thinking about it). On the down side, best practice is to remove 10mm of skin all around a mast cell tumour, and they didn't do that much at the time; opening her back up is an option but I don't think we're going to do it.

The vet did suggest an option of doing an ultrasound scan all over her abdomen, to look for signs that it's spread internally, but she wasn't really pushing us to do it given that the chest x-rays were clear. T'internet also tells me that lymph node biopsies are also an option, which I might mention when we're there next week.

So, she's doing ok from this time around, and we're probably just going to carry on as usual, running to the vet whenever we find any kind of lump on her.
miss_s_b: Christopher Lee's Dracula hovers over Joanna Lumley (Fangirling: Sir Lee Dracula)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 02:57pm on 15/10/2017 under
Just flagging up that I have signed up. I am miss_s_b@mastodon.social if you are on there; there are some interesting differences with twitter, but also some depressing similarities (mansplaining strangers; prominent TERFs, despite TERFery being explicitly outlawed in the TOS) so we'll see how it goes.

I've also authorised Mastodon Bridge on both Mastodon and twitter, and would encourage others to do the same, to help us all find each other. It's important to get the syntax of your mastodon name right, but don't worry if you cock it up (like I did) you can just hit back and try again ;)

ETA: having looked at this "which instance should you join?" Mastodon quiz I'm thinking I should maybe have plumped for this one instead... so if you're considering it, it might be worth doing the quiz. We'll see. If I get into it, and if enough other people turn up on there, I may move to a different instance.
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Books)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 02:26pm on 15/10/2017
Thanks to everyone who answered my poll as to which Kindle I should get. Today I have ordered a paperwhite, and the poll is therefore now closed.
miss_s_b: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 15/10/2017
October 14th, 2017
jacey: (Default)

Nimbus, the third and final book in my Psi-Tech trilogy is out now from DAW. I can't believe I waited ten whole days to post it here. I've been busy doing the kind of things that you do when a new book comes out - writing guest blog posts, doing interviews for web sites and generally trying to publicise it without being obnoxious and yelling BUY MY BOOK! (Even though that's what I mean.)

In actual fact what I should be doing is yelling BUY MY TRILOGY! because Empire of Dust, Crossways and Nimbus, are three sections of a continuous story.

But, hey, this isn't a hard sell. Buy it and read it if you like space opera, psionics, little guys fighting big corporations, space battles, personal conflicts, mysterious aliens and a touch or romance. If that's not your thing, then steer clear.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who read either Crossways or Nimbus as a first introduction to the Psi-Tech universe. I'm too close to it all to judge whether they can be read as standalones. I hope they can. I think any reader would quickly pick up what was going on.

Not read any of them yet?


In a galaxy where the megacorporations are more powerful that any individual government, and ambitious executives play fast and loose with ethics in order to secure resources from the colonies, where can good people turn for help? The megacorps control the jump-gates, using implant-enhanced telepaths, psi-techs. They have these psi-techs trapped with unbreakable contracts, lacking for nothing—except freedom.

But there are some free psi-techs who have escaped the megacorps. Reska (Ben) Benjamin and Cara Carlinni lead the Free Company, based on the rogue space-station, Crossways; and there are rumours of Sanctuary, a place that takes in runaway psi-techs and allows them to disappear quietly.

The megacorps have struck at Crossways once—and failed—so what are they planning now? Crossways can't stand alone, and neither can the independent colonies, though maybe together they have a chance.

But something alien and very, very dangerous is stirring in the depths of foldspace. Something bigger than the petty squabbles between megacorps and independents. Until now, humans have had a free hand in the Galaxy, settling colony after colony, but that might have to change now that the Nimbus is coming.

So there you have it. If you do read it, then I always appreciate honest reviews on Goodreads or your own blogs or websites, facebook or twitter. If anyone out there would like to host a blog post or an interview for me, you can contact me via my writing website.

Here's what I wrote over on my other blog at https://jaceybedford.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/happy-book-day-to-me-2/

jacey: (Default)
The original Blade Runner is so iconic that Blade Runner 2049 was marked on my calendar months ago, not least because Harrison Ford was reprising his role as Deckard. Ryan Gosling, plays Officer K, working for LAPD as a blade runner, and this time obviously a replicant himself. Replicants now are new models, designed to have no desire for independence and no tendency to rebellion.

Yeah, right! Slaves never want their freedom, do they?

The film's pacing is measured. There's a long build up and K lives a solitary lifestyle, accompanied only by Joi (Ana de Armas) a holographic AI with an independent personality.

When K 'retires' an old style replicant way outside of the dismal city, he discovers a long buried secret that eventually leads him to the maker of his implanted memories, and to an aged Rick Deckard, missing for thirty years.

Yes, Ford only appears in the latter section of the film, and to be fair, that's where all the interest lies. That's not to say Gosling isn't perfectly good as K. but Ford is a genuine scene stealer, a camera magnet, and finding him is all we've been waiting for. All I can say is, it was worth the wait.

We got a bittersweet ending. Is there enough of a loose end for a third movie? Maybe.

jacey: (Default)
I've been looking forward to the second Kingsman outing, not least because Harry Hart/Galahad (Colin Firth) is back despite having 'died' in the first movie. Well, you can't keep a good Kingsman down. (That's not a spoiler, he's on the poster.) This time Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (the ultra-reliable Mark Strong, not playing a villain) end up in the USA with an organisation called Statesman when the Kingman organisation in the UK is effectively destroyed. The two organisations go after drug queen, Poppy, in the depth of the jungle, while she holds the world to ransome.

Harry's return to duty is well played.

There's plenty of action and violence, though much of the action is OTT and hardly credible, which makes it more comic-book and less credible, but still fun to watch (if you can call putting a man through a mincing machine fun).

I guess we'll have to wait until Kingsman 3 to find out whether a favourite character is really gone, this time.

jacey: (Default)
Judi Dench is always worth watching and she's obviously the go-to actor when there's a Queen Victoria role on offer. In this case it's the story of Victoria's later years, after the death of Albert, and after the death of John Brown (also filmed with Judi Dench as 'Mrs Brown'). Abdul became Victoria's friend an teacher - her munchi - much to the horror of the rest of the Queen's household, her advisors, politicians and - especially, Bertie, her son and heir. Based on a true story, the munchi was with the queen for the last 17 or 18 years of her life. Abdul Karim came from India as a servant and became her friend, opening her eyes to India. Abdul, played by Ali Fazal, winningly handsome, is a much more engaging proposition than images of the real Abdul. Eddie Izard does a good turn as the blustering Bertie. Judi Dench, is, of course, outstanding. I swear I could watch that woman read the telephone directory!
jacey: (Default)

I read this immediately I’d finished Going Grey. It continues the story of private military contractors, Rob Rennie and Mike Brayne, and Mike’s adopted son, Ian Dunlap, a genetically engineered teen sought by the biotech company that thinks they own his genes. Though the Braynes won the first round, they’re waiting for the company to make another move against Ian.

When Rob’s son and ex, back in England, are threatened by an unseen stalker, Rob goes into overdrive. Both Rob and Mike have families to protect and Ian’s unique chameleon skills could prove useful, but neither man wants to put him at the sharp end if things get dangerous. Ian proves difficult to keep down, however. He’s learned a lot from his two mentors, the main thing being that if you have friends, you make sure you have their back.

 You can class this as a near-future thriller, or military SF, but the characters are the heart of the story. Another hugely enjoyable book from Karen Traviss. I was disappointed to note that the third book, Sacrificial Red, won’t be out until 2018.

jacey: (Default)

This is a near future techno-thriller featuring illegal science, military contractors, family values and ethics.

When Ian Dunlop’s gran dies, suddenly and unexpectedly, the teen is faced with a problem. Ian is either going nuts or he has a talent that will make him the target of huge corporations, and he doesn’t know enough about the world or himself to make a plan. Luckily the first people to find him are a pair of private military contractors, Mike Brayne and Rob Rennie, with resources, connections in high places, and a conscience.

Mike and Rob, though coming from opposite sides of the Atlantic, and opposite branches of the magic money tree, are buddies in the way that has been forged by military comradeship. Ms Traviss has always been able to get under the skin of the common (and uncommon) soldier. Though the pacing of Going Grey is measured, it never loses interest, and I leaped straight from this to the sequel, Black Run.
jacey: (Default)

My second steampunky airship novel in under a month and my brain is still comparing the two. Set in postapocalyptic (snowy) Southern California, after a repulsed alien invasion, Buckell and his ragtag crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must rescue their kidnapped leader/clan chief, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the City of the Founders. Beset by human enemies, alien beasties and geography itself, Buckell and his crew must brave poisoned wastelands, forgewalkers and steampipers. 

The Pneumatic Zeppelin is a complex machine, fourteen stories high, yet Robyn Bennis’ The Guns Above had more technical detail. (I’m not saying that’s necessarily an advantage.) There’s still a lot (and I mean a LOT) of lush description in here, which makes it a great intro to the series, but the plot is a single strand rescue mission, albeit with twists and turns. There’s a lot of potential in this world, though the description of the ship’s bells and whistles slows the pace a bit, especially in the beginning. It’s setting-driven, so the characters didn’t grab me as much as I hoped they might. (Romulus Buckle, Balthazar Crankshaft, Katzenjammer Smelt are a bitt OTT as far as names go, aren’t they? Very Cartoony) However I think this is a series that will grow if the author can invest as much in his characters as he can in his tech.


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