A little more on the Rusalka series

After reading the first few chapters of my old paperback copy of Chernevog (the sequel to Rusalka) yesterday during our power outage and corresponding lack of Internet, I bought the revised/self-published version on Cherryh's website this morning, and wow, it IS different! Nothing major has changed with the plot (although she says the next book does apparently have plot changes) but there is a ton of sentence-level and scene-level reconstruction.

Most particularly, she explains things a lot better. Her books often leave a lot to the imagination, especially a lot of the character motivation and background worldbuilding stuff which is implied rather than stated, but in this edition she's gone back and cleaned up and made clear a lot of things that were subtextual in the original (often subtextual to the point of total incomprehensibility). It's a lot easier to get where she was going with some of the character stuff now. And she (and her editor; she credits Jane Fancher, her wife, with a great deal of the editing) greatly toned down the stream-of-consciousness narration of the original, editing it into something considerably more cohesive and conventional, while still retaining the flavor of the original.

So yeah, between the two, I'm finding the revised version definitely has enough changes to be worth choosing it over the unrevised one. The ebooks ARE expensive -- they're $9.95 each -- but these books are favorites and, to me, well worth buying.

I also bought the revised Rusalka just to compare, because I figure I've had more than $9.95 of enjoyment from it over the years. It's not markedly different -- she notes Rusalka was edited considerably less than the others -- but I was happy to notice that one of my favorite hugging scenes (of course I have favorite hugging scenes, who do you think I am), after spoiler thing happens; not too hugeCollapse ) is expanded in the revised version, with a bit more character-interaction cuteness than the original had.

Oh, and also, I rediscovered snarkydame's lovely tag to book 2 on AO3 yesterday. Sweet OT3 hurt/comforty goodness! Recommended. :) (But generally spoilery for the series up to that point.)

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Winter-snowy trees

(no subject)

We had a roughly 6-hour power outage last night, always slightly nervewracking in below-zero weather. It's fascinating how much more appealing going to bed suddenly becomes when it's pitch dark, there's no Internet, and the only heat is the residual heat remaining in the hot-water radiators. At least it was closer to midnight than to, say, 5 p.m. (It gets dark about 4 in the afternoon, these days.) I tried doing some art by the light of a small LED lantern, but it was too dim to be fun, so I read a little and went to bed. Power came back around 5:30 a.m.

I grew up without electricity -- we didn't get it until I was around 13 or 14 -- so all my winters were like that once upon a time, long and dark and lit only by kerosene lamps and the flickering of the fire. Now? Now I complain if I have to go for half an hour in the darkest heart of winter without my bright overhead fluorescent lights and my Internet.

There was something strikingly peaceful about it, though .... reminiscent of my cabin childhood. The house gets so shockingly quiet without the background hum of electronics and the refrigerator. We're far enough out in the country that there's little traffic, and the handful of neighbor lights normally visible from the windows were out as well. The moon was very bright, the night very clear. No distractions, no Internet, no temptation to turn on some device. Orion went to bed immediately, like a sensible person, so it was just me and the moon (and a rather anxious dog) until I got tired of straining my eyes trying to read, and went to bed myself.

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Christmas cocoa

Rusalka, by CJ Cherryh

This book is wall-to-wall h/c idfic, OMFG.

It was one of my favorite books as a teenager, reread 'til it was falling apart, but I was concerned it wouldn't hold up since I think it's been at least a decade since I last read it. I needn't have worried. DID I MENTION THE WALL TO WALL IDFIC. And it's a pretty solid book otherwise, too.

Rusalka is set in a fantasy version of medieval Russia, with deliciously believable magic -- subtle and often deniable (is it the Yard-Thing that drinks the saucers of milk left out for it, or the barnyard cat?), but omnipresent in everyday matters of luck and superstition. Sasha is a young man who has magic powers, or at least he believes so. He can make things happen just by wishing them. Literally anything. When he was a small child, he made the house burn down to stop his father's abuse, killing both his parents -- or so he and everyone else in his hometown believe. Now the whole town thinks he's bad luck, and Sasha has desperately trained himself not to want anything, or think about things, or get angry, for fear of accidentally killing someone, retreating into a life of miserable isolation. (As the other protagonist says to him later: "That's hell you live in, Sasha." And it is.)

Pyetr is the orphaned son of a murdered gambler, cultivating wealthy friends in an attempt to rise above his gutter beginnings. He doesn't believe in magic -- or in nebulous things like friendship and love for that matter. His career of inveterate rakitude comes to a sudden and bloody end when a jealous husband stabs him near-fatally on page three. His wealthy fair-weather friends abandon him and the only person in the whole town who'll help him is fellow outcast Sasha, which leads to the two of them on the run in a winter-dead wilderness full of old, wild magic.

Pyetr soon attracts the attention of a rusalka, i.e. the ghost of a drowned girl, who can only survive by stealing the life energy of the living, although she doesn't want to. This is Eveshka, the third major character. Between this and the sword wound, Pyetr spends the entire book in various states of swooning, feverish collapse, in between getting attacked by monsters and railing against the fact that he DOESN'T BELIEVE IN MAGIC DAMMIT and WHY THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING TO HIM. Meanwhile lonely Sasha attaches to him hard, and Pyetr starts to figure out how to be the hero Sasha and Eveshka think he already is.

The book is currently out of print and can be bought directly from the author as an ebook or as a used book from Amazon. There are two sequels, which I vaguely remember were somewhat disappointing, or at least less massively idficcy, but I'll be reading them next, so I guess we'll see.

ETA: There's an interesting about-the-book page on the author's website in which she talks about how, when she was writing this book in the 1980s, the Cold War was still going on and the reference materials on Russian mythology, plants, etc. that she needed to write the book were next to impossible to find. She ended up swapping sci-fi with Russian fans in return for reference books.

ETA2: Wikipedia article on the books talks more about them, with no major spoilers.

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: ,
Winter-snowy trees

My new favorite inappropriately hilarious Alaskan news story

Nov. 24: art installation consisting of 85 incredibly disturbing and painstakingly constructed human figures is installed on the beach at Cook Inlet, near Anchorage. Official opening is set for Dec. 5. I should note that the Alaskan ocean coast, as you might expect, is known for terrifically destructive winds, tides, etc. This is also just about the creepiest piece of art I've ever seen, omfg.

(Orion and I, watching the video of the installment of the figures, as the tides visibly cause them to wobble and tilt even while they're being put in: "Wow, that's not going to last long.")

Nov. 25, i.e. the very next day: All but 11 of them have been completely demolished.

Even 11 statues erected at the top of the bluff, high above the water, were affected. Of the four closest to the Point Woronzof Park parking lot three had pitched forward, their rebar supports bent at 30 to 40 degree angles. One’s first reaction was that they had been vandalized, but as this reporter and an Alaska Dispatch News photographer watched, the fourth, touched only by wind, slowly leaned over and joined its companions on the ground.

I am laughing so hard right now. I know I shouldn't be dying of laughter at the wreckage of an artist's hopes and dreams, especially a ~serious art project~ about depression and mental illness, but ... THE VERY NEXT DAY. They didn't make it to the exhibit opening. They didn't even make it to the end of the week! Alaskan weather does not mess around. And apparently it's an art critic.

My hopelessly inappropriate laughter is not being helped by the photo they used to illustrate the second article:

oh the humanity

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.

The Aeronaut's Windlass

I finished reading The Aeronaut's Windlass (the new Jim Butcher) last night. As some of you know, I was having trouble getting into it, but I ended up enjoying it once the plot started to happen. It's a fun, light, escapist read that clears the Bechdel test with flying colors; there are a variety of different characters for every taste, including a female pirate captain who is EXCELLENT (/unbiased), and the antagonists -- aside from the one who is clearly EVIL with a capital "E" -- are mostly sympathetic and likable people. It is very much the first book in a series, setting up a lot of dominos which will clearly be important in future installments; very little is explained, but a lot of intriguing hints are dropped re: the worldbuilding and the characters' respective backstories. My only real problem with the book is that there's a character I found so annoying I had to skim his POV sections, but mileage probably varies on that.

The spoiler part - nothing really specific, but comments on various characters and speculation on the worldbuildingCollapse )

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Shadows of the Apt-Tisamon

Another Shadows of the Apt fic (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Making Friends in Helleron [gen; 5400 wds]
Winning friends and influencing people, Stenwold style. Set before the attack on Myna, so about 20 years before the present day of the books; no spoilers.


So this started out as completely self-indulgent h/c. I had run across this thread on little_details, on people being suspended by their hands/wrists while being tortured and the physical effects of that, and then I caught myself thinking, "You know, I bet Stenwold pissed off a lot of people back in his firebrand agitator days" ... and then a few thousand words later, there was an actual plot.

And also self-indulgent h/c.

This one is set pre-canon and can be read with no knowledge of the books at all, beyond the general premise.

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Avengers-Steve Bucky snow

Fandom problems

oh god, the CA: Civil War trailer is out. I knew this was going to happen and I still don't know what to do about it. The options are, I suppose, watch it and spoil myself (hopefully not too badly), or hide in a cave until May. Although everyone on my flist has been excellent about cutting; it's mostly Tumblr and similar places that I'm worried about.

I have lots of things I should be doing, but all I really want to do is write EVEN MORE ridiculously self-indulgent h/c for a series only a couple of people on my flist have read, none of whom (I suspect) are into precisely the same subset of characters that I am, at least not in quite the same way. (Which, by the way, there is nothing wrong with; I just think it's hilarious that I've taken the world's tiniest fandom and basically managed to make it EVEN TINIER for myself.)

Maybe I'll go make tea and see if it's easier to be useful with caffeine.

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Shadows of the Apt-Tynisa

More Shadows of the Apt fanfic

New fics posted lately:

Regroup and Recover (2000 wds, gen)
An h/c-ish missing scene for book 1. Can probably be read without much knowledge of the books (it spoils one character-related twist in Book 1, which is revealed fairly early, and you find out someone gets hurt at some point, which is not much of a spoiler in this series).

Daughters (3500 wds, gen)
How 8-year-old Cheerwell came to live with her uncle and his ward. Set pre-series; no particular spoilers if you haven't read the books.

War Memorials (2200 wds, het)
Homecomings are never easy. Set somewhere around the final scene in the books; major spoilers.

The last one is quite spoilery, but the first two can probably be read with little knowledge of the books. Y'know, if you want to know what h/c from me looks like for this series. /shameless

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Winter Sunlight

Thoughts on Jessica Jones through episode 8

As nice as it is to be able to marathon Netflix's original series, it also makes it a trifle frustrating to talk about them with people. Or basically go anywhere that spoilers live, such as Tumblr, until finishing the series. (Er, obviously "don't tell me about future events, please!" goes without saying here.) Not that I've actually been spoiled or anything; it's just that for me, there is a better feeling of engagement about being able to discuss a currently-running show with people as it goes along, rather than having to be all spoiler-avoidant till the end and then falling headfirst into a lot of discussion. YMMV. (Even though, yes, I typically wait for DVD and marathon things anyway, so I am being a ridiculous snowflake about it.)

Anyway, spoilers through 1x08Collapse )

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Winter Sunlight

All the TV (non-spoiler, general reaction edition)

Instead of watching TV like normal people, we didn't watch anything for a month and then marathoned a ton of it tonight.

We finished watching Dark Matter, and I was really happy with it. Non-spoilerishly, I will say that I felt the resolution to the season's main mystery was handled much better than I was expecting; it was a plausible solution to the clues we were given, without being terribly obvious. (I did actually figure it out before the reveal, but less than half the final episode beforehand.) There were definitely a few WTF things this season, but overall I thought that it was a nice solid debut season and I'm really delighted there's going to be another one.

Somewhat more spoilerishly, but only very vague spoilersCollapse )

And we watched the first few episodes of Jessica Jones, which I completely love. It is very dark (SO DARK), but in a hopeful, rising-above-the-pain kind of way, more than a grimdark kind of way. I'm really happy with the characters' transitions to the screen, and pleasantly surprised that Luke is a major character. I was expecting occasional appearances, more like Claire in Daredevil, rather than having him as one of the main set of characters from the beginning. Not that I am complaining! Also, aside from Luke, nearly the entire cast is female, including what I'm pretty sure is the first canonically queer couple in the MCU. There is very little crossover with the other Marvel shows/movies, even with Daredevil, so if you aren't familiar with the universe and want to watch this on its own, it stands alone just fine. (So far, anyway.)

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Shadows of the Apt-Tisamon

Closing tabs

Shadows of the Apt: I ran across this discussion of how Mantis-kinden gauntlet blades might be constructed in comments on the author's blog. That was something I found horribly confusing in the books, and now I think I have a better idea of what they're supposed to look like. (My favorite bit from the comments, from a guy trying to build one for LARPing: i can assure you i only used inapt means to make it (for authenticity). That just made me grin.) I don't think there are any particular spoilers; at least I didn't notice any.

... you know, I haven't done tabletop gaming in almost 20 years, and I still want a resource book for this world. I want it bad.

I am also sad that the artist who makes these amazing steampunk insects is not making them anymore. I would buy one of the mantises in a heartbeat. Actually I would take almost any of them, really, but the mantises are my favorites. (Totally coincidental. For sure.)

In non-bug-related items, here's something interesting and weird that I stumbled across via a Twitter ad: The Mysterious Package Company. I don't think I've ever clicked on a Twitter ad before, but there was weird old-timey steampunk stuff in the ad, and ... I am weak.

My first thought was, some kind of weird scam??? You have to sign up just to look around the site. So I googled a bit, and no, it's much more intriguing than that. Here is a description of how it works. You sign up, and pay for it, and they send you weird cool packages that you interact with (decoding things, looking up references) to reveal pieces of a story. Here's the Boing Boing entry for it.

And finally, I am just going to link to this Chuck Tingle title generator and then run away. (If you don't know who/what Chuck Tingle is, I ... can't figure out how to explain it, actually. Although the site makes an attempt.)

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Avengers-Peggy smile

Happy fan things

There is a promo out for the new season of Agent Carter! SO EXCITE! It's not too spoilery (though you do see a new character and the context in which they will appear). Everyone looks adorable! I can't wait!

Meanwhile [personal profile] frith_in_thorns and I are doing our best to create a fandom from scratch for Shadows of the Apt. We have each written a fic, the ONLY two fics in that category on all of AO3. These fics are both highly spoilery for the ending of the series (for basically the same aspect of the ending, as it happens).

Rules for Other Places (gen, 1500 wds)
He names the ship Antikythera, and together they sail the dawn.

Another Way Home (gen, 800 wds)
Sometimes children come back.

And Frith has adorable fanart (somewhat spoilery for one thing, but it makes little sense out of context). Also, Frith has generously provided my new Tumblr icon, since I was complaining about how I didn't like my old one (which can be seen at my tumblr, and makes me grin every time I see it, even if it's a joke that only two people on the PLANET are going to understand).

And my paperback copy of Empire in Black and Gold came in the mail today, so I can't help rereading favorite bits and feeling tragic over how young and innocent they all are. BABIES!

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Shadows of the Apt-Che

.... GAH

Okay, anyone reading Shadows of the Apt at my recommendation needs to know, now that I've finished it, that this series is a hardcore punch in the emotions. I don't think I've cried as much over a book in forever as I did at the final book in the series (I am, seriously, not a person who cries at books and movies, and I was sobbing), and even in the previous couple of books I had to keep taking breaks because OW, MY HEART. It is an excellent series, it is very hopeful and most certainly not grimdark, and it's going to be one of those series that sticks with me forever, but I still keep thinking about certain things and dissolving into a puddle of tears.

... I'm currently having a glass of wine, because after that book I NEED ONE.

So, final verdict: amazing series, one of the best fantasy series I've ever read, well worth reading, and very Tolkienesque in the best possible ways -- but also devastating (in, again, rather Tolkienlike ways). Batten down your emotional hatches before going in, is what I'm saying here.

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Christmas cocoa

All the misc

1. I really like Tumblr's new chat feature! I think the way they're implementing it is completely asinine -- in order to have it activated on your account, someone has to send you a message, and it does not appear that it's possible to turn it off, to save chats, or to see/retrieve your chat history in anything other than a drop-down menu which looks like it would get really cluttered really quick if you were chatting to more than two or three people.

... okay, so perhaps it's not accurate to say I like Tumblr's chat feature, so much as I like the fact that there is now a way to actually TALK to the handful of people I am now mainly using Tumblr to stay in touch with.

2. I am taking a brief break from Shadows of the Apt because, holy moly, this series can be a real sucker-punch in the emotions sometimes. I will certainly be returning to it in the next few days because I'm dying to know what happens next, but I need to BREATHE. Mild/general spoilers for Book 8 - no specifics, worth avoiding only if you want to keep the future direction of the plot mysteriousCollapse )

3. I posted some photos of our recent snowfall on Facebook. (Not friendlocked; anyone can view.)

4. For any White Collar people still hanging around, there are currently two prompt posts open on collarcorner: winter and holiday prompts and general/unthemed prompts. The posts have been pretty active lately, which is great!

And now I need to go write for awhile.

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.


Just a run-by post before heading out the door -- I am doing two back-to-back craft/pop culture shows with ellenmillion today through Sunday (SO MUCH ORNAMENT PAINTING) -- but I realized that today is my 10-year Livejournal anniversary!

I got this journal on Nov. 6, 2005. When I first noticed last summer that this was going to be the 10th year, I meant to do something special for it. Then I got busy, and busier, and spent most of October being ill, and all of a sudden it's the 6th and ... I have to be staffing a table in a couple of hours. >_>

But still, I figured I needed to pop in and say a little something about it. This wasn't the first Livejournal I got; the other, my real-name journal, was the one I considered my main one for a long time. This one was just for posting fanfic. But over the years I realized that nearly everyone I actually wanted to talk to was here -- all I did with the other one anyway was post Alaska photos and project updates, which I am now doing here -- and the handful of people from the other journal that I wanted to stay in touch with (and didn't think would look down on me for my fan activities) I told about this one, so I really only update the other a couple times a year, and there's nothing I post there that I don't post here.

The reason why I got this journal in 2005 was because I was starting to do fandom stuff again, after a dry spell. I wrote a TON of anime fanfic in the early 2000s, then got out of it in the 2003/2004 time frame. I moved to a new city, I was starting a new job and buying a house, I was super busy ALL the time, and I'd also managed to convince myself that in order to be a ~serious writer~, I needed to knock off this fanfic crap. (Pretty much ALL the pro writers I knew at the time believed that; I didn't know anybody who openly did both.) Then, with the original-writing thing going nowhere, I started falling back into it, a little bit at a time, and I got this journal just to have a place to put that kind of thing if there turned out to be anything to post. This journal was called "friendshipper" then, and my very first post here was basically "I have no idea what I'm going to do with this journal". (And sounds so ridiculously young to me now; omg, self.) I think the only fandom person I knew who was on LJ then was xparrot, having met her via

.... aaaaand then I got back into Stargate (an old love, that I fell away from for several years), and got bit by the fanfic bug again in 2006. In retrospect I'm glad I fell into a big fandom right away, because it meant my journal started getting active pretty quickly -- people friended me, and I friended them, and I started learning proper LJ social etiquette and talking to people a lot. And over the next few years this journal became my main online hangout and social hub. Many, if not most, of my closest friends now are friends I made through LJ -- and DW, which I'm really not considering a separate thing here, since it was a social offshoot of LJ in the first place, and my flist/circle were almost 100% the same people in the beginning. (It's since differentiated quite a bit.) It hasn't all been roses, and there have been ups and downs, but I have had SO MUCH FUN here, and I know I wouldn't be the same person today without it. I wouldn't have met most of the people I cherish now, or have had a lot of the opportunities I've had.

So thank you for being here, and most especially for STILL being here, even as the fandom/blogging/social media world is shuffling off to Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook and even weirder places. I am in all of those places too, but LJ/DW is still where my hat is hung. I'm very glad you're all still here to talk to. ♥

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: , ,
WhiteCollar-Hard Sell Peter Neal

White Collar fanfic: Out of the Wastes

If any fanfic-inclined people want to get a taste of the worldbuilding for the "Shadows of the Apt" series I keep going on about, I've written a fusion with White Collar and posted it over on AO3:

Out of the Wastes [Peter, Neal, a little Diana; gen. A soldier and an enslaved enemy combatant are the sole survivors of an attack, stranded in the wilderness and forced to cooperate or die.]

There are no spoilers for the books, and everything you need to know to understand the story is in the beginning notes (no canon knowledge required). Very little knowledge of White Collar is necessary either, come to think of it, since the story takes place entirely with alternate versions of the characters in another world.

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Winter Sunlight

"But that all changed when the [Fire] Wasp Nation attacked."

[personal profile] frith_in_thorns, who for the record I would like to say is a PUSHER, recently turned me onto an obscure epic fantasy series called Shadows of the Apt, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. The first book is Empire in Black and Gold. At this point I'm only 1/10 of the way into a 10-book series (I just started Book 2) but I am already at a level of emotional investment that I usually don't achieve with a long series 'til book 3 or 4 at least.

So what is it?

It reminds me a little of Fullmetal Alchemist, and a little of a more adult-level Avatar: The Last Airbender. (Not that A:TLA doesn't tackle grown-up themes, and handle them well, but this one has a lot more of the violence/brutality/etc of war ... without actually being grimdark in the slightest, IMHO.) It's secondary-world epic fantasy, set on a semi-magical, vaguely steampunkish world entering its Industrial Revolution, among a number of different, warring ethnic/racial groups. Who are all bugs.


Instead of elves, dwarves, etc, this fantasy world has Wasp people, Mantis people, Moth people, etc. Each group has its own unique physical and magical traits. The worldbuilding is a delight, creative and wonderful and unique. If you're not into D&D-esque/Tolkien-derivative fantasy, this may run too close to that vein for you to enjoy it, but that's my one tiny caveat next to a MOUNTAIN of love for the series thus far, which largely runs on sense-of-wonder, swashbuckling, and Rule of Cool anyway. I cannot believe how much Tchaikovsky has made me love these stupid bug people and get thoroughly invested in their struggles, rivalries, loves, and triumphs/failures.

Basically, if you enjoy fantasy and you are looking for a new series to read, try this one! Admittedly this rec is only based on the first book and I still have nine books to go, but this series has grabbed me HARD.

Further enticements which are mildly spoilery: a list of Stuff You May Like that is in this seriesCollapse )

The usual spoiler notice: On the incredibly obscure off chance that you've read this series, or if you read it on my recommendation, please don't drop me any spoilers, including mention of future events/deaths/etc! It's a long series and it's going to take me awhile to get to the end, and I am hugely enjoying reading it unspoiled.

This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.