Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy holidays Renay!!

This is a gift post for the redoubtable Renay, of and also

Renay is one of my favourite tweeters/bloggers, and always makes me think very thinky thoughts about gender and things.

From me, Renay wanted one of two things:

"secret shame fandoms (the fandoms you read in and love it but don't write in or talk about in public) and why they are secretly great. Alternately, since that's obscure and possibly too shameful, backup request of 10 favorite fanfics of all time and why you love them, because you can't go wrong with recs."

Well, I keep saying that I'm too old for shame, and I don't have any secret shame fandoms, so I'm going to do a list of recs. (I've not only started reading knotting fic, but also 1D fic. I've read 1D knotting fic. I have no room for shame.)

Disclaimer: I've only been in fandom for about three years, so I apologise if  my recs tend towards the more popular end of the spectrum, instead of finding great fic that maybe others don't know all that well. They also don't span all that many fandoms, for the reason that I tend to find a comfort zone and hang around there

BUT I do love all of these recs, I truly do. They are fics that have brought me not only great joy and made me do  FLAPPY HANDS FLAPPY HANDS in real life, they're also fics that I've discussed back and forth and sideways with other fandom friends. Which, for me, is what fandom is all about.

Anyway. Enough with the rambling.

These fics are in order from best to ... well, I love you but not quite as much as I love the fic above you. I'm totally playing favourites.

1): The Five Kingdoms by winterhill:
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Merlin/Gwaine
Summary:  (from AO3): It was meant to be a solo quest — Merlin struggling to find ingredients for a spell to save King Arthur’s life — until Gwaine was sent to check on him and decided to stay. Now he’ll follow Merlin to the four kingdoms of the elements and back to the mortal realm, meet his own destiny at the Green Chapel, and become the willing champion of the most powerful sorcerer to ever live.

Why I love it: Let me count the ways ... The Five Kingdoms is my number one, absolute favourite fic of all time. It reads exactly like a questing fantasy novel, and it has depth and feeling and it's just. It's so close to perfect that   - excuse me I need to flap my hands.

The primary pairing is Merlin/Gwaine, and they're written so beautifully. Just. This is what I always want from a fic relationship - depth and caring and all of the feelings. It shows that even though Merlin is 100 per cent loyal to Arthur as his court sorcerer, he can still have someone who's just for him. And Gwaine is actually, literally Merlin's champion.

It's  a fusion with the Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight legend, and it's so vivid and beautiful, I want everyone ever to read it and love it as much as I do.

2) Play it All Night Long:
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: Dean Winchester/Castiel
Summary (from the LJ): the rom-com-ish one where Dean hosts a late night radio show, Castiel is a regular listener of his who starts calling one day and ends up calling more often than not and Dean finds himself liking it. This, until one day Castiel calls for not exactly petty reasons (just before Dean's brother Sam is visiting with his girlfriend for spring break) and things get very, very crowded at his place. He also doesn't know it's just the beginning of it. Also features Gabriel, Chuck, Andy, the Roadhouse crew and a huge amount of music quoted. Especially Bob Dylan.

Why I love it: Much and all as The Five Kingdoms is the fic of my heart, Play it All Night Long is the standard by which I measure every single other fic I read. I think it's that good.

It's just a lovely read from start to finish, and the characters are so well-drawn, that when I'd finished it, I was disappointed that Dean Winchester wasn't actually the host of a late-night radio show.

Cas is lovely here - very much in character (I'm sorry Renay I don't know whether you watch Supernatural!) and Dean is at first a bit o.O at the chaos that comes into his life, but when he starts to roll with it, is when things really start going right.

I love it, it's everything I want in a fic and an AU, and I love AUs more than I love ... some other things I love.

3) The Road Trip series:
Fandom: Sherlock TV
Pairing: John/Sherlock (sort of)
Summary: (from the AO3): Based off this prompt on the kinkmeme Sherlock, John, and Lestrade on a road trip together, stuck in the same car for hours. The numbers are how long they have been on the road.

Why I love it: "Sherlock sees cows and wants to stop. They do not stop." That one sentence basically sums up the whole fic, and it's hysterical reading. I re-read it just a couple of weeks ago and it's as delightful as I remember.

It takes a slightly more serious turn in the last part, with Sherlock musing on Feelings and Stuff, and a lot of people found the ending heartbreaking. For me, though, it worked. Sherlock has an epiphany about love and friendship that is - yes - a little bit bittersweet, but also quite lovely.

Also there's this: "Sherlock sees goats and bides his time." <3_____ p="p">

4) Touchstone by machshefa:
Fandom: Sherlock TV
Pairing: John/Sherlock
Summary (from the AO3): On John Watson’s sixth birthday, his mum gave him a flat wooden box to hold his wish stones.

Why I love it: Magic realism. Magic realism is like catnip for me and Touchstone has a lovely premise with the wish stones and the yearning and  ... let's just say 'and the everything.' Touchstone has been recommended everywhere and then some, but I don't care, I love it, it's so beautiful.

5) One Species Too Many by wallmakerrelict:
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: Dean Winchester/Castiel
Summary (from the AO3): While Dean is laid up for a month after breaking his leg on a hunt, Cas decides that it's a perfect time to adopt a litter of kittens. But even though he's gotten better since Purgatory, Cas still isn't quite the same as he was before fixing Sam's head, and being trapped in a cabin with him for weeks on end is making that all the more obvious to Dean. When Sam takes off on a hunt, Dean has to figure out on his own how to navigate his new relationship with Cas while also helping to raise a bunch of fuzzballs that aren't even cute. Not even a little bit. (Well, maybe a little bit.)

Why I love it: KITTENS. IT HAS KITTENS. I mean. Um. Kittens aside, it has established!Dean/Cas which I like. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good Boys Figure Stuff Out fic, but there's something lovely and intimate and comforting about a fic with an established relationship. Dean is hilarious, Cas is ALL about the kittens and Sam finds the whole thing hysterically funny. It is a canon-verse fic, but I don't think you need to watch the show to get the hang of it. PLUS. KITTENS.

6) Infected by X:
Fandom: Inception
Pairing: Cobb/Saito
Summary: (no summary)

Why I love it: Cobb/Saito was the Inception pairing of my dreams, but was overshadowed largely by Arthur/Eames. After a while, I stopped looking for fic, but this is lovely. It has a slight dream-like quality to it, and is a lovely character study of Saito.

7) Wizards Not Included by phaballa:
Fandom: American Idol RPF
Pairing: Adam/Kris (sort of, friendship mostly); past Adam/Brad
Summary: (from the LJ) Adam felt so weird and crazy that it couldn't be anything but full-on, true and for serious love. He was done. He was a Boyz II Men song. He was a Julia Roberts movie.

Why I love it: Wizards was one of the first-ever fics I read, and it hit me a bit like a punch to the solar plexus with a kick to the heart as a follow-up.  It's a Figuring Stuff Out fic, and that seriously is one of my favourite things. It's very introspective and thinky, and just a little bit ... oooh, ouch, that hurt a little bit.

8) In Your Name by bohemia:
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Summary:  (from the AO3): For someone with so many secrets, Merlin doesn't think he's very good at lying. So agreeing to discuss his friendship with the Prince of Wales at University as part of a televised documentary is probably not a good idea. Juggling magic, Royal protocol, suave (and persistent) Dukes, a Princess with attitude, and a serious amount of coursework was only the start. Oh and then there was Arthur himself. Yeah, probably shouldn't mention much about that...ModernAU

Why I love it: I loved loved loved The Student Prince and Drastically Redefining Protocols, and In Your Name is a little bit in that tradition - a modern royal AU wherein Arthur is the Prince of Wales, but still essentially ... Arthur. Merlin has magic in this one, though it's a super-duper big secret. And. I cannot describe how much I enjoyed reading this. It's tense and angsty and lovely at the same time and Merlin is just so ... Merlin.

9) Gods and Supervillains by 8611:
Fandom: James Bond - Skyfall 2012
Summary: (from the AO3): Dear SIS personnel,
Why I love it: Because it's fun, and there's a CAT! For which I have a terrible weakness in fic - lol. Skyfall fic is like Avengers fic for me a little bit - I keep hoping I'm going to come across the Fic of My Dreams and not quite getting there, although this one is lovely, Miss Moneypenny is a complete badass and there's a cat. Yes. That's my whole argument.

10)  Hanging Like Bricks Don't by minglingcrab:
Fandom: American Idol RPF, Season 8
Pairing: Adam/Kris
Summary: Aliens make them do it.

Why I love it: Bricks first appeared on the old _ai kink meme, and it was a delight right from the start.

Yes, I know aliens-make-them-do-it is the tropiest trope, but it's a trope that's in good hands here. :-) The characterisations are very good and the writing is engaging and fun. :-)

Happy holidays, Renay. I hope you like my list. :-)

Saturday, December 15, 2012 by Robert Sawyer by Robert Sawyer is book two in the 'WWW' series. Book one, www.wake is fantastic; I read it ... earlier this year? Loved it, but I was going through a phase of not reviewing anything so that's why it's not on here.

Anyway. In wake, 15-year-old Caitlin Morgan, who has been blind since birth, is given the chance of sight in one eye, through some pretty cutting-edge technology. She agrees to the procedure, but discovers that something else has woken up along the way.

That something else is Webmind, as Caitlin calls him. It's like a consciousness of the world wide web, seeing the world through Caitlin's eyes.

In, the US Government has become aware of Webmind's existence, and begins working to try and shut it down.

Caitlin and her parents, however, have very different ideas.

One of the things I really love about this series is Caitlin herself. She's sixteen in book two, and in a  lot of ways she's a fairly typical teenager. She worries about boys, and her friends, and school ... but Caitlin is also ridiculously smart, and like her father, a maths genius. She is both no ordinary teenager, and at the same time the most ordinary teenager.

I also like the fact that she knows when she's in over her head with Webmind and when it's time to call in the heavy artillery - in this case, mum and dad.

As the government struggles with Webmind, and as Webmind himself is subjected to identity crises, Caitlin and her parents try to come to terms with this brave, scary new world.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Hobbit and Pinterest

I just finished re-reading The Hobbit for the ... let's say 100th time because I don't really know. I'm not going to review it but you all need to know that it's one of my favourite books, like, ever.

I read it first when I was about 12 and from then, it became my go-to book whenever I was home sick. I borrowed my brother's old copy which had a page missing but I didn't care.

I've gone through a couple more copies since then and my latest is the one on the left, with illustrations by Alan Lee. I have the Lord of the Rings of this set, too.

The movie opens next week and as much as I love the book, I'm ambiguous about the movie. I was super-excited when the Lord of the Rings were being made, I tracked all the news, bought the extended DVDs ... I love it all is what I'm trying to say.

And, don't get me wrong, I think Martin Freeman is perfect to play Bilbo, I just ... *sigh*. I wish it wasn't three movies. One movie would have me dancing in the aisles. I was even excited about two movies. But. Three movies. Plus I can't watch 3D because it makes me vertigo-y ... lol look at my first world problems ...


Anyway .... I have pinterest and embarrassingly, I've JUST worked out how it works and decided that it's awesome so follow me there:


Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I haven't visited the It's Monday ... meme for a while.

This week I'm re-reading The Hobbit (and loving it like I always do) and I'm reading The Peculiar by Stefan Bachman which is a steampunk fairytale and highly entertaining.

What are you reading this Monday?

Friday, November 30, 2012

On not buying books

I've made one of those impulsive decisions that seems  like a good idea.

I have decided - from now and for the whole of next year - to not buy any books.

Any books at all.

Not a one. Not from bookstores, or book depository, or amazon, or charity book sales, or the library sales ... well, you get the idea.

We're saving for a big move, probably at the start of 2014, from where  we are now to near where Jeremy's parents live. I'm simply transferring offices rather than jobs, so it's going to be costly, which means that sacrifices have to be made.

The good thing is that we have an excellent library here, and I have more than enough books on my own shelves to keep me occupied for the next year.

For MORE than the next year, let's be honest.

So. No new shiny books for me for a year or so.

That'll be challenging. :-)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Boy Meets Boy short review

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Paul is a pretty average teenager. He goes out with his friends, he goes to school, he takes part in extracurricular activities.

He has problems of course, like any teenager. His – closeted - friend Tony can only go out if his extremely religious parents think he’s going out with a girl. Paul’s best friend Joni keeps going out with the wrong guys and his ex-boyfriend Kyle has issues.

Then, of course, there’s Infinite Darlene, homecoming queen and star quarterback.

And then, Paul meets Noah. The Boy. And everything changes.

I sped through Boy Meets Boy yesterday. At 185 pages it’s a quick read, and Levithan has a nice writing style.

Paul is engaging as a character, moving through his somewhat charmed life pretty easily, and his somewhat rocky relationship with Noah is sweet.

I did have a couple of issues with it – Jodi’s boyfriend Chuck through most of the book is basically a caveman, and she does a terrible thing to Paul that I don’t think was properly dealt with, but perhaps I should be philosophical and say something like, well, not all loose ends get tied up.


A few weeks ago, I read Every Day by Levithan, which I recommend to everybody – it’s original and heartbreaking and all of the best things.

Boy Meets Boy – as far as it goes – is a sweet, somewhat tender coming of age love story, if a little problematic in some of the finer details.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On cats

It's been nearly two months since I blogged anything. Well. How about that.

There's been no real reason for it, that I can pinpoint.

I just ... haven't. However, I've found myself missing it lately, so here I am, back yet again, with a post about cats.

Well, sort of. Some cats. Some of my cats.

We lost one of our cats  a few weeks ago. Scout - in the picture to your left - had been losing weight at a rapid and alarming rate. She'd always been a big-boned girl - at least dating from the time she spent about a year living in my bedroom because of anxiety (that's another story) - so the extreme weight loss was concerning.

So I booked a vet appointment and Jeremy duly took her out to be checked under the hood.

The most likely cause of such extreme weight loss, the vet said, was lymphoma. They would open her up for exploratory surgery and if indeed it was that, they would simply not bring her out of the anasthetic.

And ... so it proved. My poor Scout had been basically starving to death because the tumour pinched off her gut. Her end was - at least - pain-free but by gosh I miss her.

It's the first time we've ever had to make the decision to have a pet euthanised, and although there was no other decision to be made, and it was on poor Jeremy's shoulders to make it, it's still a very, very hard way to lose a beloved pet.

Scout was eight years old. We got her from a pet store that has since closed down, when she was about 7-8 weeks old. She was a loving, if shy, cat, who's biggest joy was pinning a human down and 'munching'/'making biscuits'/'kneading' (whatever your preferred definition) until she looked slightly glazed. She would then settle down and fall asleep.

RIP Scouty. You were secretly my favourite. (Don't tell the other cats.)

Bracketing this small tragedy we had two cats - Casper and Misty (both elder statescats of the household) in at the vets for teeth removal/cleaning, and Misty somehow managed to get a laceration on her tongue. We still don't know what happened, and she's still a bit unhappy with us (she had the surgery on Tuesday.)

So it's been a pricey and sad month in our household cat-wise, this month.

"Cats are kindly masters, just so long as you remember your place."- Paul Gray

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Plagues and things

You know how you get absolutely hooked on things? And you love them so much that you want everyone you’ve ever met to get hooked on them too? But when you try and explain your deep and abiding love, they look at you and you can see the ellipses?

I’m having a moment like that with a game I downloaded called Plague, Inc. Here is the trailer. I’ll wait over there for the ellipses.

Look, it’s awesome okay? You develop your disease and you have to try and spread it against the cure. The cure is working against you the whole time, and you use DNA points to try and slow it down. And you know … uhm. Destroy humanity.

Which I guess is where the ellipses come in.

But. It’s awesome because it’s strategy. I’ve hooked one friend on it, who hates me on principal but everyone else gives me the …  …

I’m … not sure what my point was there. It got away on me just a little bit. Hrm.


Anyway. I’m off work this week. Which will be nice. It’s the school holidays so I’m going to hang out with Patrick and try and destroy the world er, play some games. It’ll be fun.

Er, I’m hoping to get some reading done as well. Maybe catch up on some IT, since I’ll be home during the day.

Possibly I’ll even go to a movie or something. I went to Looper last Thursday and it was awesome. Before that, the last movie I saw that I truly loved, was The Dark Knight Rises. Since then, it’s been a bit hit-and-miss, but Looper is fantastic. Seriously, so very, very good.

This week, if they start here on Thursday, I’m eying either Dredd or Pitch Perfect. I can’t go to both, so I’m going to have to toss a coin or something.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

What I'm Working On

So I was trying to think of something to blog about because it’s been a while and you know, I want to try and do this on a semi-regular basis.

So here’s a (mostly) non-book related post in which I’m going to ramble on a bit about one of my other hobbies that I’ve  mentioned here before – cross stitching.

I’m no kind of artist at all and I can’t do any kind of fancypants embroidery. I can, however, make little x’s with different-coloured threads and make them into a picture.

What can I tell you, I find it soothing – lol.

At the moment I’m working on the one pictured – Circe, which is designed by Jill Oxton after a painting by pre-Raphaelite John Waterhouse.

I’ve been working on it since … 2006 – lol. I’m easily distracted and my house is littered with the ghosts of WIPs past. Last year I decided to try and be a bit organised or somesuch, instead of pretending that all of these half-started projects are magically going to finish themselves.

I’m probably never going to finish them all, I have to be realistic, but I do need to give the ones I have half a shot of finishing a fair go.

H’anyways, the upshot of that ramble is that I instituted a kind of rotation, which is basically choosing a few projects, setting a time limit for working on each, and then moving on to the next … here’s a handy definition guide I found on the interwebz:

I’ve met myself, so my best bet is to keep it simple. I have three projects in my rotation, including one focus piece. I work on each piece for about 10 hours before switching out, working on the focus piece every second go-round. I hope that makes sense – lol.

So Circe is my focus piece at the moment, and my other two projects are an Impressionist-inspired London at sunset scene, and this really awesome kitchen alphabet. I’ve had them all languishing for years – lol.

I don’t stitch every night – some nights I’m too tired after work/wrangling kid/cooking dinner, etc and some nights I’m far too busy playing bejewelled and plague inc to haul it all out. But I’m trying to make an effort at least a few nights a week because even half an hour can make a difference.

There you have it. Maree’s non-reading hobby #1 J

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Italong check-in post

So this has been happening: and I decided to jump in because IT is one of the few Stephen King novels I haven't read.

I do love a good Stephen King. :-)

Of course, now, I'm scared of clowns.

Stupid Stephen King.

Anyway, the upshot of it (heh) is that I'm only reading IT at the weekends because that's the only time I can read during the day. During the week my reading time is after dark and that's really just a no-go.


So I'm probably a bit behind everyone else but I'm still picking away at it and scaring myself silly. You know, as you do. I love a good scare.

I just started Part 3: Grownups, where the gang (except Stan) reunites in Derry.

And that is where I will stay until next Saturday and I can read in daylight.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Italong-ing and RIP VII

... oh my? I stumbled across the Italong on twitter and immediately poked my nose in because IT is one of the few Stephen King books I haven't read. I'm enjoying it but at the tender age of 41 I'm afraid of clowns.

Thanks for that Stephen King. No, really, thanks. It's very much old-school King, which is the best kind of King. The man knows how to tell a story. And to scare the white blood vessels out of you.

Anyway on to the next, yet equally awesome thing: Carl's annual R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge: which always takes me by surprise - lol.

I always, inevitably, fail out of RIP, but as Carl says, it's all about having fun. So I've decided to go with Peril the Second, which is to read two books that fall into the categories. So I'm reading Dracula - for the first time - and sort of re-reading The Woman in White. I buzzed through the latter extremely quickly a few years ago for a Classic Circuit post but never really took the time to read it properly. I've been meaning to give it another go because I remember really enjoying what I did take in, and what better time than RIP?

Exactly. :D

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

There's a storm coming ...

Don’t mind me, I’m just excited. BECAUSE IT’S TIME FOR BATMAN.

Er, nearly. I got my ticket today, and I’m going tomorrow after work. It’s on at the completely pants time of 7.15pm which is hugely inconvenient for me, but I AM GOING ANYWAY BECAUSE BATMAN.

Ah …. this is my brain …. THIS IS MY BRAIN ON FANGIRL. Lots of caps and things and stuff.

Anyway. Non-Batman things.

I had to go back to the nurse at my doctor’s surgery today and yay, no more pressure bandage! I don’t have to go back, and I just have a couple of patches of magic netting thingy covering the remaining  ‘worst’ spots, which aren’t that bad. But the BEST part is I don’t have to go back to the doctors any more and I can take the magical netty stuff off myself in about 10 days if it hasn’t come off on its own by then.

The nurse said something like, “I’d say we won’t be seeing you back for a while, but you seem to be having a run of things lately.”

You drop ONE CLOTHESLINE on your head … anyway. All is well now and I can go back to bumbling through my days like always.

I haven’t been stitching much this week, apart from Sunday night when I watched Worried About the Boy, a biopic of Boy George, which was good but a bit heavy on the shagging.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely down with the shagging. Absolutely. But the film was kind of out of balance, if that makes sense. I wanted more backstory of Boy George and Culture Club. Keep the shagging, obviously (plus, bonus, one of the guys the very cute boy playhing Boy George was making out with? RICHARD MADDEN. Robb Stark, to the rest of you) but like … punch it out with a bit more story.

I’m about 100 pages from finishing The Night Circus and oh my GOD this BOOK. I got to a part near-ish the end that’s basically ripped my heart out and I’m super-wary now about how it’s going to end. But the CIRCUS. I’ve never wanted to go to  a circus half as badly as I want to go to the Night Circus and have it be a real thing.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hobbit readalong



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Disco inferno?

Well not quite an inferno, but quite enough to be going on with, thank you very much.

If you follow my twitter/have seen my tumblr, you’ll know I had a bit of a cooking mishap on Monday night. I was careless putting mince into a frying pan with hot oil, and the oil splashed back and burned my arm.

Off to A&E, where I was duly bandaged and sent home with instructions to go to my doctor the next day to get it re-dressed. Luckily, after Monday it had stopped hurting and “only” one blister formed. So I went to the Dr yesterday and the nurse rebandaged it, and back again today for more of the same.

The nurse today (different to yesterday’s) re-dressed it with some kind of magic liquid, magic netty stuff and a pressure bandage, which is MUCH easier to deal with than a normal bandage. The frustrating part is that I have to keep the bandage on for another week.

So, I did what any sane and sensible person would do. I went to the Warehouse and bought books and coffee mugs.

I bought a pretty-sounding French cookbook, even though I don’t cook much, The Fault in Our Stars, Never Let Me Go and The Snow Child. The coffee mugs are for work. I have this weird quirk where I don’t like to use the mugs that are available in the cafeteria to anyone – I prefer my own. They’re just $2 mugs from the Warehouse, but I like them :D

I finished Railsea at the weekend, and now begins the back-and-forth between myself and Jodie at while we fangirl/discuss the novel. :D

In my cross stitch rotation at the moment, I’m working on Circe by Jill Oxton, but haven’t got much done lately – see: burned arm *sigh* and I’m reading The Night Circus, which I’m not very far into but is very promising so far.

In between books I’m reading a little P G Wodehouse – his Jeeves and Wooster short stories, mostly.

That’s … as interesting as it gets today.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Things ...

You know those weeks? Those weeks where all you feel capable of doing is watching season four of Supernatural and playing angry birds?

Yeah. This has been my week.

Some of you may or may not know that Patrick has been sick the past couple of weeks with what I thought was a cold but turned out to be strep throat and scarlet fever. He’s feeling much better now but for a few days there it was pretty tiring. So I’ve basically been a potato this week.

I haven’t picked up my book (Railsea by China Mieville) since … Sunday? Something like that anyway. Same with my cross stitching. It’s funny that when things like this happen, I don’t turn to the things that make me feel better, and more myself, but to things like TV and iPhone games. Hmmmm.

Although I have to say I did enjoy S4 of Supernatural. Especially the epic and no doubt doomed love story between Dean and Castiel. I enjoyed that very much.

I also hadn’t gone to the movies for a couple of weeks, which – for me – is unsettling because normally I go every Thursday after work. I broke that streak this week with The Amazing Spider-man which was pretty good, even though it’s awfully soon for a Spider-man reboot.

Today we’re doing lots of nothing and I’m revelling in it. I’m even hoping to open my book!

Oh! And follow my tumblr:  :D :D

Saturday, June 30, 2012

So I've been thinking ...

… about this whole blogging thing. I decided to take  a break from it for the month of June, think about what I wanted to do, and I seem to have reached a decision.

Er, of sorts.

Mostly what I’ve decided is to stop doing reviews on here. It’s a time-consuming thing that I wasn’t enjoying, and I have so many other calls on my time that it really wasn’t a hard decision to make.

However, that led me to wonder whether I should give the blog away completely, given that I started it to be a books blog, of sorts. But the thing is, I like blogging. I like the people I’ve met through it, I like talking about books, and things on it … so in the end I decided to keep it, and just sort of … change direction a  little bit.

I like talking. Which will come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever met me – lol. So that’s what this blog will be. Me, talking. About – hopefully – lots of different things.

Books, of course. Cats, yes. Patrick sometimes. Work occasionally, maybe, though I’m not big on talking about work online. Movies, TV … things that I love and get excited about.

Also, while I’m making changes, I’ve set up another tumblr (because I forgot the name of the old one – lol) – it’s here: it’s mostly for photos – it’s replacing my days mean more blog which I am quietly retiring.

I’m starting with Photo a Day for July,  that I ganked from Chris at and here’s July’s list at the source: and I’m still half-assing with the whole Project 365 thing, which is why I started Days Mean More (the blog) in the first place. It’ll just be on tumblr now.

So. Yeah. I’m letting the reviewing go (I was only ever a half-assed reviewer any way) but holding on to the blog, and to the things that I truly love – Patrick, cats, movies, TV, books – and all of you all. :D

Friday, May 25, 2012

Doc review

You may have noticed a slight dearth of reviews around here lately, if you pay attention to that kind of thing.

I er … streamlined. Yeah. Let’s call it that because it sounds way better than “I am extremely lazy and completely distracted by games on my new iPhone and things like Avengers legos”.


Anyway. Doc.

Doc, by Mary Doria  Russell is a historical novel. It’s sort of about the famous shoot-out at OK Corrall but mostly, actually …not.

It’s really more of a character study of Doc Holliday and of Wyatt Earp and it’s fascinating.

I was predisposed towards Doc anyway because I absolutely loved The Sparrow and Children of God, which are incredibly beautiful, sad and haunting sci-fi novels by Doria Russell.

And while Doc is a completely different genre, it still has the same haunting touch that I remember from The Sparrow.

It’s largely a meditation on character, and on fate, and how it really is the little things that change the course of our lives, while the really big stuff goes on around us, almost without us noticing.

Not exactly a Western, but not exactly NOT a Western, either, Doc is a lovely, lovely narrative that you can’t help but be drawn into. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Iron Council co-review

Maree (that's me) and I continue our mission to fangirl about all the words from China Mieville. Today we’re talking about”> ‘Iron Council’, the final book in Mieville’s loosely connected Bas-Lag series. Ready? Here we go - spoilers all the way!

M: Iron Council feels like a genre-fuck novel - not as much as The City & The City but it's certainly far from conventional.

J: In
the interview Mieville did with Charles Burns at ‘The Believer’ (the one I sent you originally, capslocking ‘There’s a China Mieville novel that features a GAY PROTAGONIST!’, which is the reason we ended up reading ‘Iron Council before all the other Bas-Lag books) it's mentioned that ‘Iron Council’ is sort of a western, so I guess it's an SF mash-up of that genre. That western SF mash-up is then mashed up again with a whole heap of Russian socialist imagery. I guess most people are kind of familiar with the western SF from programs like ‘Firefly’, films like ‘Star Wars’ and most recently ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ (need to see, DON'T CARE IF IT SUCKS, SF AND WESTERNS WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER), so we could say it's building on a foundation rather than creating a new genre crossover.

As I read more of Mieville’s books and I find it interesting to reflect on some of the reactions I’ve seen to the novels he wrote both before and after ‘The City & The City’. Like I said when we were reading”> ‘Kraken’ together, I kept seeing reviews which were all over how original ‘TC&TC’'s genre fucking was and... I mean, I loved that book for so many other reasons (I think we both did, although we were pretty shell shocked by the time we finished”> ‘TC&TC’, but it seems pretty weird to suggest that the genre crossover part is the site of all its originality. It's building on a respected, much more classical tradition of mixing hard-boiled detective elements with SF (come on, if Philip K Dick has done it, it’s a classic approach). It's a great genre-fuck (loving this term, will now over use it) and a great book, but I get kind of itchy when people praise ‘TC&TC’ for the originality of its genre fucking, alongside a critique of the unoriginality/lack of genre redefinition of Mieville's other books. Like, ‘Iron Council’ may be building on an established genre mashup tradition, but I get edgy when I see its sense of originality unfavourably compared to ‘TC&TC’. ‘TC&TC’ is great, but it’s not the second coming - you know?

M: Sci fi and Westerns are like an arranged marriage that actually turns out to be a happy one because come on Star Wars is just a WESTERN IN SPACE. TC&TC is a great book and he's blended two previously disparate genres. It's a genre-fuck but I think originality is overused. Pfffft ... those are the people who don't like Kraken I bet, or call it "conventional." Uh, no. Plus I like the fact he blends genres/fucks with them - like he just expects them to bend to his will  and do whatever he wants with them.

J: This. Hello, westerns and SF just fit. I would love more projects where these genres are actively combined and then messed about with/fannishly critiqued by their own narratives. How did you feel about the combination of Western and Russian in particular?

M: I think that's a great fusion actually. Westerns are - at their simplest level - about good v evil and there's that striving in socialist Russia as well (about which I know next to nothing.) Whatever genre you're writing - or whatever genres you're fusing, good v evil and The Man v the revolutionaries is always familiar. And I don't mean that in a bad way - I think it's a good thing we can recognise those things in Iron Council.

I like how it started out with a quest of sorts like your average fantasy novel, and then Mieville immediately subverts it into something else. To start with, I had no real idea what Cutter was doing or where he was going, but I was fully on board from the start because I LOVE Cutter.

J: How does anyone not love Cutter? He's the emotional heart of this novel (along with Ori, when he appears later on). It’s kind of refreshing to see a novel of Mieville's where there is an honest to god, out in the open, emotional aspect. ‘Kraken’'s emotions are kind of sublimated, at least I thought so. It's all very 'we have feelings, but we don't talk about them until everyone is DEAD'. You feel all that repression, which is what makes the emotional connection with the reader and stops that book from being dead inside, but no one is going to hand you emotional access on a plate (at least that's how it feels to me). ‘Iron Council’ puts at least some of its feelings on the table. Cutter loves Judah. Ori is angry and frustrated. We can get that about them, we can connect in an almost traditional way with them and this is different from the two other novels of Mieville's we’ve read together, where I feel the reader is mostly forced to be disconnected from the character’s inner emotional states.

M: I like sublimated for Kraken because the whole book does feel kind of submerged almost - like you're reading it through distorted glass, so it's distancing.

J: I actually worry about”> ‘Railsea’ a lot because of that disconnected emotional side of Mieville’s is that going to work in a YA book?

M: You should read his other YA novel, Un Lun Dun - it's really cleverly done and the main character is a kick-ass girl who refuses to give up. I didn't realise that Railsea was YA and based on how much I loved Un Lun Dun I'm even more excited for it - lol.

Anyway, Cutter is definitely the emotional heart that drives the novel, even though I don't think he really has any clue what he's doing or why. He's driven primarily by his feelings for Judah who doesn't even - can we talk for a moment about how irritating Judah is? I get that he was a founding member of the Iron Council and everything but he's a martyr looking for a cause and as for what he DOES to the Iron Council ... I still can't get my head around that.

J: Judah :P I found him mildly irritating during the whole biography section, but the things that irritated me were also things that made me feel sympathetic towards him, if that makes sense. In the sections set in Judah’s past, he is well intentioned (eventually) but he makes mistakes – d’aww. But present Judah is so...present Judah what is your deal? I want to like him, because he’s so on it when  it comes to political activity, but I don’t and I think the book wants to make us distanced from him (Cutter is the reader’s access character right?). He’s just...he acts so saintly. And he’s just helping a friend out when he sleeps with Cutter. Like, how awful is that?! He’s a person so devoid of the capability to give anything of himself to personal romantic relationships, because he’s been swallowed by a cause and it makes him behave like a total marty bastard towards Cutter. But he still seems to love, like really love Ann Hari. Do you think he loves her because she’s so connected to the cause, or because of their shared history, or is Judah really showing a spark of romantic emotion for a person when he’s with her?

M: I do go back and forth on Judah and Ann Hari. They had shared cause when the Iron Council was being formed and he genuinely does seem to have some kind of deep feelings for her, but I - and I'm aware I'm being a bit childish with this - can't like him because of how he treats Cutter, who's so vulnerable to Judah.

J: No, no, I totally get that reaction. His characterisation makes him a very interesting character, even sympathetic, but still not a guy we’re going to crawl all over with love. I’m not sure I’d have the book without Judah, just because he makes everything else so complicated, but from a pure fannish love perspective I for sure wish Cutter wasn’t quite so tied to him.

M: I agree. Judah's kind of a necessary evil. And I don't mean that he's evil but Cutter needs something or someone to drive him to what he does, and that's been Judah for so long, I don't think he even hesitates before following him into god-knows-where.

Cutter is a roil of feelings the whole time and I think he's lonely. He goes out looking for connection after connection, and as much as he loves Judah, he's still looking for someone to reciprocate and that's what he deserves.For me, all through the novel, I feel like Cutter is looking for something. He's so very .... yearning?


J: Maree, I can't even explain how I feel about Cutter and his place in this book articulately. I agree though, he needs...something, but I’m not sure whether it’s love from one person, acceptance from the whole world, a purpose/cause, the ability to believe, or just not be isolated by his spiky nature. Maybe it's all of those things. Maybe Cutter is an everyman character, just trying to work out where he fits into life, like all human beings do. What do you think?

M: He's very much an everyman character. He believes he's fuelled by his love for Judah but is he really or has that consistent rejection just become something of a habit?  I think he's kind of an emotional masochist but I love him for the fact that he never gives up. He loves Judah and that's all there is to it.

J: Ooooooooooooooooo. Good point. This is probably part of why I like him so much. I am awfully into characters who want to make other people feel things they aren't interested in feeling at all. I’m sure that indicates some delightful things about my own psychology.

M: And he just keeps doing it. I could see him - at the end of the book - hooking up with someone else who's just as bad for him as Judah was, because I don't think Cutter knows how to look for someone who's going to make him happy.

What I love is that.... Cutter's gay but it's not ... ugh. Central? I'm having trouble articulating what I mean but it's just there, like the fact of being tall, or having brown hair. He's the central character of the novel and he's gay and it's so RARE but I love the fact that Mieville doesn't make a big thing out of it - like he's just a character and an everyman and it just so happens the person he's in love with has the same anatomy.

J: YES! I don’t think he was ever going to find that person to make him happy in a Mieville world and definitely not in the specific world of ‘Iron Council’, because of this book’s western influences. There’s a particular kind of repressed emotional vibe to westerns and although I don’t know enough to talk about how that translates into westerns which feature gay relationships, I suspect that literature is probably full of ‘You’re not gay, unless you feel something’ narratives. Like I said above, I think Mieville often writes books which put the characters inner emotions beyond the reach of the reader, so factoring that in and recognising the western SF connections, I was pretty sure Cutter would never find a man who wants to be his emotional partner in this book.

I’m finding it hard to parse what feels like the sad narrative inevitability of Cutter’s romantic disappointment in relation to ideas Mieville’s comment in ‘The Believer’ interview, that Cutter and Judah’s relationship is a romance. Like their relationship is tragic; a seriously tragic example of unrequited love and the patronising allowance of attachment. The bitterness created by Judah’s inadequate reaction to Cutter’s feelings is always present. I’m not saying it isn’t a romance, but it’s one of the saddest damn romances in the world.

M: Agreed. Cutter and Judah's relationship is fairly doomed from the start and while I don't necessarily like that for Cutter's sake, I get that it was inevitable. And while it works here, it doesn't mean that I have to like it. I almost wish there was a fix-it story for Cutter's next phase of his life, but does that undermine his character in some way?

J: And I’m struggling to work out how Cutter/Judah’s relationship functions as a depiction of gay characters in literature, when there are still so few books published that include a gay hero. The tragic romance works for Mieville's chosen style and genre. At the same time, Cutter is placed in a position where he’s incapable of finding happiness, which is an uncomfortable place for us to see any gay character right now. I mean the weight of literature is just now in the process of switching from a position where every story with a gay character had to end tragically, to a more hopeful place. Like, is now the right time in history for a tragic story where a gay character’s romantic hopes are crushed and a bisexual character dies? If the tragedy of the book isn’t centred around the characters being gay or bisexual (for example, if the tragedy isn’t something like them being beaten up because of their sexuality, but is a political tragedy they just happen to be involved in) do these concerns need to come into how we evaluate the book?

M: I think that's the central, possibly unanswerable question. Is now the time? But if not now, then when, really? Maybe this is crucial, but maybe it's just another story with a sad ending.

J: Does setting Judah up as a distant saint, who won’t connect with Cutter because of that aspect of his character, rather than a guy who won’t connect with Cutter because he’s ashamed/believes in the ‘fuck don’t feel’ model for men, subvert stuff (oh I’m so specific, sigh this is hard to work through)? Well, yes. And Cutter is alive at the end of the novel so this book avoids defaulting into the ‘dead gay character’ trope (although there’s a dead bi-sexual main character, so...and that death places a lot of tragedy in Cutter’s life that’s relate to his relationship with Judah...). It’s really difficult to judge, so I guess I’ll just offer open ended exploration and wait to hear your thoughts.

M: I was relieved to be honest that Cutter was alive at the end. Broken-hearted, sure, but alive. As for Judah ... he was always setting himself up to be the martyr to the cause. His ending was inevitable in a way, I think.  He wanted to be that for the Iron Council, and that rendered his other relationships - Cutter, and even Ann Hari - moot. I'm possibly projecting because as necessary a character as Judah is, I will never not be angry with him. Ori breaks my heart a little bit - he's so very much the quintessential angry young man looking for something to fight for. I get his frustration with the Double R and why he was so perfect to fall into Spiral Jacob's hands.

J: I need to think about what Judah does to the Iron Council at the end some more. See, I didn’t agree with Ann Hari’s direction for the revolution, but then when Judah preserved them I agreed with all her horror and rage. It’s difficult because Judah is a preservationist, but also a historian and I’m pretty tied to history (ex-history student). I understand his impulses to hold onto the council (so much slips away so easily as history progresses and the people who shape historical education/the historical knowledge of regular people, often ‘ensure’ that very particular things slip away - when people say history is written by the winners they aren’t wrong and often the winners are jerks about it). At the same time I have problems with what he does in this particular situation. Does pickling a movement that is still active take away its power/ the potential power of its doomed status, or does it save it from inevitable destruction? Hard.

Like Ann Hari says, we’ll never quite know how the trajectory of history would have turned out if the council had been publicly destroyed. At the same time history is made up of moments that have been averted, or missed, so to say that this intervention is definitely, especially troubling is difficult. Maybe it feels so wrong to me because it’s such an active intervention, whereas we’re used to interventions of circumstances, chance etc?

How are you doing getting your head around that aspect of the novel now?

M: Mmmm ... I can see your point of view. I'm not a historian but I get it, sort of. Also this: "pickling a moment that's still active, does it take away its power ..." that makes me wonder. Because the people of New Crobuzon will be able to see that train every day. At least some of them will know what it was - what it represented. And the Council still has Ann Hari as a living, breathing representation of that history, so maybe it's not as hopeless as it first seems - the ending of the rebellion, I mean. Judah renders the Council inert. But does he do the same for the revolution? Is there still a spark? Is he truly a martyr now?

J: It’s super hard to decide isn’t it? Oh, brain hurts, so let’s move on shall we?;P

The subversion of the quest narrative in this book is gorgeous. There are a couple of quests I think; there’s the quest to find Judah, the quest to find the Council, Ori's quest to find Toro, then his later attempt to stop Spiral Jacobs, the eventual desperate journey to stop the Council. None of these quests ever actually brings the story to though, do they? I feel like traditional quest narratives are usually brought to a head by a dramatic conclusion, which removes the need for further questing. In ‘Iron Council’ each quest ends, but then there's more to be done, more quests to go on. For example, ‘Kraken’ contains a more of a traditional quest narrative (Quest: save the world, Ending: accomplished, or failed). Here there's no ending, even though things end, right?

M: The ending definitely isn't resolved. It's a bit "the more things change the more they stay the same." There's rebellion and revolution no matter what, and a corrupt government running the militia. I did have a "what was the point of that then?" moment but it's so well written I can forgive that. Plus I do like a good subversion.

J: See this is where I think Renay would say stuff that would help us understand the ending, but I’m 90% sure that she will not be reading ‘Iron Council’. I remember things she said after reading ‘Kraken’, like:

‘I can't understand what changed for Dane to make this no-way-back, can't-be-undone decision make sense. You can't keep fighting if you're dead, which means it feels like at this point, the Krakenists simply gave up and decided to go down in a blaze of glory pumped full of delicious, form-altering ink.’

and this comment specifically:

‘I don't want to argue that Leon's death which sets so much in motion, plus the other deaths inflicted by Goss and Subby were less worthy, but they were consequences of getting involved in the Tattoo's business and not avoidable after the fact. Wati's death he made avoidable himself (ugh, I loved Wati, after the ladies he was my favorite). Dane's second (or third? I wasn't sure on the count there) death = totally avoidable! He choose it, so who am I to say, no, don't do it? But Billy was his friend, and did say, please don't do it, and he ignored him. Unfortunately for personal reasons, the book loses me at that point, because there's having a faith that's important to you and then tossing the care and concern of a friend back in their face, right? The book even makes the point that the kraken god doesn't ask them for anything, so what gives?’

and I think, isn’t that exactly what Ann Hari tries to do? She doesn’t think the council can win, but she tries to sacrifice herself anyway.

M: That's an excellent point, yes. In a way, Ann Hari is the true revolutionary - she's stayed with the Council, she rallied the women, she's the one who was going to crash the train into the city.

J: I wonder how Renay would react to Judah keeping the Iron Council from that kind of blaze of glory martyrdom, that ultimately might not achieve anything. The book points at Judah’s actions with horror, but I can totally see why the way he keeps the council from a pointless death could be viewed more sympathetically, even if I still have kind of squicky feelings about Judah’s intervention.

M: I wonder that, too to be honest. I keep cycling back to what he did and going but WHY did you do that? Was it to preserve the Council? Was it because it would mean he wouldn't be the martyr? Was it to save Ann Hari and the others? I can't help thinking his reasons were selfish, but once again, I might be projecting. Or was what he did in some way necessary? I don't know in what way, because I keep going but what was the POINT, Judah? If I ever meet Mr Mieville I'm going to have a list of questions a mile long. Once I can stop staring.

J: OMG, Maree, Ann Hari! ! - that is essentially my reaction to her. She’s amazing/destructive/angry, which I am all over, yet also so determined to martyr herself and her revolution, which is less amazing, more wtf.

M: Oh my god Ann Hari. I have mixed feelings about her but I love how she rallied all the women when they were still building the railroad. I'm running out of time now so I'll send this in a minute and we can get into our feelings properly.

J: I love that aspect of the novel. The prostitute’s revolution is just stunning and there are classical allusions to the Greek play”> Lysistrata, where the women refuse to have sex with their husbands (wouldn’t you know it is one of the few Greek plays we didn’t cover during my two years taking Classical Civillisations – must read). I just have all the feelings about it and the way Ann Hari becomes the leader of the revolution. Her comment that it was never Judah’s revolution to begin with just spoke so hard to me – it was always the women’s cause that came first.

M: Exactly. The women took action and when the men said this isn't your cause, she fought against that with - what was it? Then who's cause is it? We open our legs for you and bear your children, it's our cause moreso than it is yours - and then that's the catalyst for the real strike.

J: Got to say I think there’s a lot of Judah and Ann Hari combined into Dane from ‘Kraken’; her desire to embrace what looks like pointless martyrdom, her warrior nature is in Dane, but there’s also a lot of Judah’s saintliness and his disconnection from the world in that character. Of course Dane is less horrendously patronising that Judah and y’know, hot.

M: Oooo yes. I can see that now. Dane might well be the child Judah and Ann Hari never had, their own worse traits tempered by his own relatively easy-going nature.

J: what else? So much to talk about!

M: I love the different creatures like the Voyaoni (sp?) but oh my god the Remade .. .DDDD:

J: The Remade are the first thing that started me thinking about the ‘Kraken’/ ‘Iron Council’ connection. Don't they remind you of a much more random version of The Tattoo's machine people? I almost feel like ‘Kraken’ is taking place in a world where the Iron Council existed back in history, in another country and parts of it bled into the worldwide culture, but I feel like I'm going to get a lot of flack for that view, because ‘Kraken’'s similarities to ‘Iron Council’ could also indicate that Mieville is just writing the same book again/exploring similar themes again, or that he's run out of ideas. Maybe I'm just being too much like a rabid fan when I think about what those similarities indicate and am excusing writerly failings...

M: Oh my god yes, Tattoo's machine people. I hadn't made that connection but you're right. I don't know. There are similarities but I think we'd need to read the other Bas-Lag novels before we could extrapolate that theory. Maybe he is in a comfort zone now, but it's hard to say without having read his earlier works. It's making me wonder about Embassytown and Railsea, though.

But I agree with you - Kraken and Iron Council could easily be part of the same world.

J: Were the remade becoming almost normal to you by the end? Like Rahul, the lizard man and Ulmek, the man who has to eat coal because his insides are made of pipes. At first I was horrified by what they'd been made into, but through the course of the book I kind of stopped seeing them as twisted people, who were hurt and deformed, because...they'd become more about the person for me, than the SF punishment. Does that make sense? Then again, at the end when Curdin dies and he talks about how the man inside him might have still been alive, going mad, how he might have been a prison, it brings back the terror of what the government has done to these people. I feel like I got both the humanisation of the people and the awful nature of what the system had done to them, so that by the end my horror at the Remade was all pointed at the institutions that made them, not at them if that makes sense.

M: Curdin is a tragic, horrific figure. As is Toro, once she takes off the helmet. Toro breaks my heart for what happened to her. You're right though - you get used to the Remade and stop being shocked and then Wham! you get a character like Curdin or Toro and you realise that there's this unspeakable horror going on all the time in the background of the novel.

J: Toro and the Mayor are one of my favourite points of Mieville’s subversive behaviour in this novel. We’re all used to genderswap narratives, where a character who has been signposted as male in some way turns out to be female, right, to say this... Even though I often like that technique the genderswap is usually SO heavily signalled and that, plus the cultural build up of these narratives has made the gender switch and bait a big literary cliche. At least, I feel it’s gone from being an entertaining trope to an over-used trope; it’s rare that I see a writer pull off the switch in a way that really makes me go ‘woah, look at you and your assumptions about gender Jodie’.
M: I honestly had no idea Toro was a woman until she took off her helmet, and I wonder if that's a generational thing. I mean, my first exposure really, to a kick-ass woman on television was Xena. In the 90s. I have a lot of, let's call it gender-bias even though that's not quite the right phrase - left over from the 70s and 80s.
J: I know, I was so surprised too. I mean, this could just be a consequence of me being really aware of the trope and the spotting the clues but, personally I feel like the genderswap type of narrative should be absent of clues (even clever, subversive nods). I mean a crucial part of the purpose of disguised gender narratives is the reveal at the end and how it makes you feel, right? Genderswap endings are supposed to make you realise your unconscious ability to tumble into traps about gender. When that element is missing, the conceit becomes close to pointless. When it comes to other kinds of twisty mysteries it’s nice if the reader is given the chance to follow along and guess things if they’re paying attention, but with this particular kind of surprise I think being able to follow planted clues takes a lot of the purpose of setting up the gender switch away.

But for me, Mieville totally pulled off that surprise element. I had no idea Toro would be a woman under that helmet, no idea that the Mayor could be a woman and the fact that I had so easily gone on to assume that these characters must be male, partly because their femaleness hadn’t been commented on and ‘HEY! Male is the default Riiiiight?’ really made me sit bang up straight and assess my biases. Even though I consider myself feminist, it’s great to get that hard slap kind of a reminder, because it’s so easy to slip into unconscious biases, given the world we live in. Reminders to be politically active for the win.

M: Exactly. And for me, part of it is the generational thing but also on Mieville's part that was very, very well-played.

J: Final crammed in thoughts: I’m glad Cutter is a gay character and exists in ‘Iron Council’ because erasure is never the way forward. And I like that while there’s a little bit of uncomfortable feeling from those around him about his sexuality (which upsets him) he is very accepting of his own sexuality. And everyone around him doesn’t treat him as if he’s a leper or anything.

And I love that even though Mieville starts off with Cutter being against more feminine seeming gay men (the dollboys) which again seems pretty traditional for the whole western gay character sensibility, towards the end of the book the doll boys come back as revolutionary fighters who gain respect and affection from people. Of course, it be nice if they didn’t have to prove themselves in this way, but since they do, it’s great how everyone then takes to them and celebrates their bravery rather than falsely deriding them as cowards, just because they exhibit non-traditional gender performance.

M: Oh the dollboys' last stand. That was so amazing and heart breaking. Like it was as much their revolution as anyone's and like ... here. Let us SHOW YOU what we're capable of.

J: Anything else, or shall we let the nice blog readers go home now?:P

M: Heh. I think they can go home now. Snacks to the left, exit to the left ;)