Susan’s Salon: 2021 February 28/March 1

Huh? How did it get to be March already?

Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday (Sydney time which is still Sunday in most countries) . It’s fine to be sad, worried, very worried, angry or maybe even happy (or all of those things at once).

Please feel free to post what you like (either troubling news or pleasant distractions) in the comments for this open thread. [However, no cranky conflicts between each other in the comments.] Links, videos, cat pictures 🐈 etc are fine! Whatever you like and be nice to one another 😇

71 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2021 February 28/March 1

  1. Finally watched Fast Five. Interesting to see how little conventional street racing plays a role; also that the ending is very much the equivalent of a TV season ender that could double as a series ender if they don’t get renewed.
    And yes, seeing them tug a bank vault through the streets is something.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m reading a fascinating novella titled “And Shall Machines Surrender” by Thai writer Benjanun Sriduangkaew. It’s set on a Dyson sphere though that doesn’t really come across in the telling. And Arkada Martine’s sequel to A Memory called Empire is out soon. Bliss!

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  3. Been a fascinating week of reading for me. If we include last Sunday, I’ve finished four books and an audiobook, two of which have been really really good. First there’s the upcoming novel Folkorn, by Angela Mi Young Hur, a novel of magical realism featuring a Korean American physicist trying to find understanding of her past, of her future, and of her place in a very white world in America, Sweden and even Antarctica, and is really really good. Comes out April 23.

    But also I just finished the audiobook of Lobizona, a YA novel from last year by Romina Garber, which is just really good and fascinating – take Harry Potter (which the book explicitly references so I don’t feel bad making the comparison), except the protagonist is an undocumented immigrant from Argentina in Miami who is on the run from ICE and her father’s family….except her father’s family comes from a magical world of werewolves and brujas. Heavy with both concepts of illegal personhood and of queer allegory (and just well, queer love in general and a fight against a cis-heteronormative system), it doesn’t quite pull everything off in its end, but it managed to surprise me quite a bit in its last act after a predictable beginning. I also have the sequel as a prerelease ARC to I’ll probably continue this story soon and I can’t wait.

    I also read a trio of interesting books besides that – Unity by Elly Bangs, Soulstar by CL Polk (which I wished I liked more) and The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck, so yeah, productive week for me reading wise.

    And now today, the latest in T Kingfisher’s Paladin Romances. Oh yes…..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been mostly reading Spanish books lately, but I took a break to catch up on the latest novels in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Diving Universe” series. Thieves was pretty much what I was expecting, and I was quite pleased with it–and very excited about the teaser for the next novel, Maelstrom (which I just preordered).

    The other novel, though, Squishy’s Teams, was more of a problem. It tells more of the story in the earlier novel, Boneyards, from the perspectives of different people. The problem is, even though I read it within the past four years, I had almost completely forgotten what happened. So I reread Boneyards, and I skimmed a few scenes from the earlier books. (Having the whole series on the Kindle is a great help!)

    I’m a little distressed at how much I had forgotten. Not just “Oh, now I remember!” but “Gosh, I don’t ever remember reading this before at all.” In particular, Boss (the protagonist of most of the stories) really obsesses over the death of her friend Karl, many years ago. So much so that she still carries his knife with her all the time, as a reminder.

    But not only could I not remember Karl at all, when I reread scenes with Karl, I still didn’t remember him. After some rereading, at least now I understand why he haunts her. His obsession with his knife was a regular motif: he was always so careful about things, but the knife was a hazard in space and yet he always had it with him.

    On the bright side, I’m not the only one who’s forgetful:

    After we leave my father and Riya on the outpost, we have a memorial service for Karl. I talk the longest because I knew him the best, and I don’t cry until we send him out into the darkness, still in his suit with his knife and breathers. He would have wanted those. He would have appreciated the caution, even though it was caution—in the end—that got him killed.

    Rusch, Kristine Kathryn. The Diving Series Starter Bundle (The Diving Universe. WMG Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition. Location 2904.

    Apparently the author forgot that she buried Karl with his knife, so there’s no way Boss is still holding onto it!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Very warm and rainy week here in the Southeast. I had the severe weather alert on my phone going off twice yesterday, warning of flash floods. Fortunately I’m not in a high risk area myself, but it will be interesting to see if the old middle of town flooded (it does, occasionally).

    Nothing much else interesting going on here. I finally watched episodes 7 and 8 of Wandavision, drove to Nashville to help SIL get her most recent steroid injections in her spectacularly screwed up back, scurried over to the Thai/Viet/Laotian grocery and cafe while I was there, did some reading (listening) — oh, and spent bazillions of dollars on ordering new garden plants for spring, yay! That’s always fun.

    Oh, and two other signs of spring: First, the sandhill cranes went over my house again — they migrate directly over my house every fall and spring because my road hugs the base of a low ridge that they follow, and I love it every time I hear them; and Second, yesterday I heard the first froggies of spring on my property. I have recordings of them as early as January 30 some years, depending on when we get warm spells, but this is the first for this year. Spring is definitely springing!

    Books since last week:

    Ten Things I Hate About the Duke. I mentioned this one in my last Sunday post. I liked it a lot — Loretta Chase is a smart writer, and she does good banter and wit as well as emotion. Pretty much exactly what I’m looking for in a Regency/historical romance, restful and reassuring. And I always enjoy listening to Kate Reading narrate.

    Lord of Scoundrels — reread of another Chase book. This one is a fairly famous romance from back in the 90s, which is on a lot of best-of lists and has won a whole bunch of awards. And yes, it’s pretty darn good, with Chase’s intelligent writing and wit showing well. Thematically it’s kind of horrifying at times — with a bunch of stuff about the love of a good woman saving a seemingly irredeemable reprobate, along with a bunch of the reprobate being awful to the woman — but Chase makes it work. And Reading once again brings it to life.

    I also listened to Driftwood by Marie Brennan. This one is sort of in the China Mieville vein, in that the setup is surreal — Driftwood itself is a place where dying worlds inexplicably manifest cheek by jowl with each other so that you can literally step from one to another, and they all get progressively more and more squashed together until they are finally compressed out of existence in The Crush. The “story”, as such, is a series of vignettes about one character’s experiences in Driftwood. I thought it was interesting enough, but not gripping. Capably narrated by Christina Delaine.

    I also listened to The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. If you’re not familiar with it, this one is about a suicidal woman who, upon trying to kill herself, finds herself in a “library” whose books represent all the lives she could have led if she had made other choices — and she can visit any of those lives to find the “perfect” life for her. I know a bunch of folks love this, but I did not. It was sweet, but to me it was too much of a self-help message book — readers are beaten over the head with the message way too hard and too often. Not bad, just too obvious. Well narrated by Carey Mulligan.

    I also tried Agency by William Gibson, but I gave up quickly. It didn’t catch my interest at all, and trying to combine AI themes with time travel themes just made me roll my eyes. Narrated by Lorelei King.

    And now I’m listening to When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo. This is a sequel to The Empress of Salt and Fortune, and tells a new tale of the same cleric in an Asian-inspired land whose job is to travel the country recording the lives of its inhabitants for posterity — a sort of folklorist, but recording their present lives as well as their histories. Good stories, narrated by Cindy Kay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear that your garden frogs are back.

      I almost stumbled over a toad two days ago, while taking out the trash. This toad or its family have been living in our garden for years now, so I was happy to see him (or her), once I got over my shock of what looked like a stone suddenly moving and hopping off.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do a lot of water gardening, so I always have many tubs full of water around the property — which means I have a large and happy population of frogs of several species every year (not to mention dragonflies!). But these spring chorus frogs are entirely or at least mostly on their own out in the ditches that run wet this time of year, so it’s especially encouraging to hear them telling me that the land is coming alive with or without my intervention. 😉

        And for some reason I don’t often see toads, though I’ve found a couple here over the years. I may just not be looking close enough!

        btw, this is them — not mine, but their brethren in Nashville:

        Liked by 2 people

      2. One of our dogs is obsessed with toads. If she finds one on evening walk, she’ll spend the next week checking every shape in the dark that might be one.

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      3. One of the dobes I used to have here on this property was terribly predatory. He loved to kill any snake, frog, chicken, rodent, or even turtle that he came across. He had the determination and perseverence to break into box turtle shells, which really exasperated me. Fortunately, he was at least safe with cats!

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  6. Currently alternating between dozing and feeling sorry for myself, as my first Covid vaccine shot has hit me fairly hard – I gather from Twitter that I’m in good company, as N.K. Jemisin has been suffering as well. I’m sure I will be back to normal soon, though.

    Since I am posting on Twitter and comment threads, and nobody can see the shambling red-eyed reject that I am at present, it would be perfectly possible for me to say things like “I had the Covid shot and it was fine! I am skipping and gambolling like a spring lamb, and the injection hurt no worse than a kiss from a fairy unicorn!” But I am an old-fashioned sort of bloke, and I consider it important to tell the truth (there’s no place for the likes of me in Boris Johnson’s Tory party) Taking the vaccine may make you feel like crap for a couple of days, which is not too high a price to pay for 1) personal protection from the virus, and 2) boosting the rates of immunity all around, which will help everyone get back to something approaching normality.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with it. I had my first injection a week ago and had nothing worse than a little injection site pain — no worse than I regularly get from my flu shot. I expect to suffer a bit more with the second.

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    2. Get better soon.

      Still no news on the vaccine front here. My Dad is on the waiting list and my Mom, though more at risk than he is, is still a year to young to qualify.

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      1. I’m busy being annoyed at my county’s health department right now. Their webpage is a month out of date, their links don’t work, blah blah and yadda yadda, and when I finally got ahold of someone this week it turns out they’re ignoring the health classifications and scheduling people by age alone. So even though I should probably qualify for vaccination now by health, I have to wait several more weeks because they’re still vaccinating the age bracket above me. Very irritating!

        Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m glad to hear you’re doing better, Steve.

        My cousin just got their second shot, and they’ve had a miserable couple of days — fever, arm really swollen and sore, said it hurt just to move — but after a couple of days in bed, they’re doing better. Their spouse, on the other hand, just had a bit of a sore arm.

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      2. @Contrarius: That’s a great question and I wonder that too. No way of testing it, though.

        It’d be nice for people like Steve to know that the misery now saved their greater misery if they hadn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. In other Covid news, the Tennessean (Nashville’s local paper) has announced that TN will start vaccinating category 1c next Monday. Hurrah! We’ve had lots of contradictory info, so I’m not holding my breath, but I’ll start trying to get an appt tomorrow.

        In other other news, I’ve come down with cellulitis/erysipelas again — bleh. I hate getting fevers! Unfortunately, if you get it once, you tend to get it again. Et voila. On the good side, I have a stash of antibios so I’ve already started treatment and will be feeling much better tomorrow!

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  7. This week in Hugo reading…

    Novella
    Read The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo and Finna by Nino Cipri. Really enjoyed the first and added it to my nominations. Thought the second was okay. (Understand what JJ was saying about the bickering!) I’m currently in the middle of Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey — so far so good, so we shall see!

    Related Work
    Read The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger and put it on my ballot. By a writer mainly for writer’s, but still really fascinating and engaging for this reader. Currently reading Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration edited by Jesse Kowalski. This was an art book on the Locus List that I was able to get from the library. It was put together in conjunction with an exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Lots of wonderful art and some interesting commentary.

    Lodestar
    Finished Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger and nominated it. Also read How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black. I loved it, but I know that’s largely because I loved the trilogy. I have other YA books I plan to read (and more I want to but probably won’t get to) so I don’t know if this will make the cut.

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  8. Sad news here: we had to have the elderly credential put down.

    She had been declining slowly for years, but in the last week took a dramatic turn for the worse to where she wasn’t really functional any more.

    Remaining credential (He Who Was Be-Coned on F770) never got on with her, so he’s perfectly fine being the only cat. Yay?

    The one good thing about the current plague is that I spent most of her last year on the couch, providing a lap, and all day and night in the house, providing whatever else she ordered.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your credential, Lurkertype, but so glad that she spent the last year of her life getting so much love and attention. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was revisiting Tove Jansson’s Moomin books, which I read one of out loud to my friends, and I remembered for the millionth time that I still hadn’t read any of Jansson’s non-children’s fiction. So I’ve just started on the short story collection The Woman Who Borrowed Memories (a best-of anthology that New York Review put out recently, drawn from other collections) and I’m liking it very much. It’s just about the only non-genre fiction I’ve read for the first time in more than a year. Two of the stories so far have been dark psychological pieces about a cartoonist or illustrator having issues, which is a little close to home.

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  10. My latest sword and sorcery story has now firmly crossed over into novella territory and now sits at 18000 words. I did finish the sex scene (I always find those difficult to write), but now I have another emotionally difficult scene to write. These characters and their world are screwed up.

    I need to write an article for Galactic Journey this week and I started crocheting an armadillo for a project launched by the Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I own a cute plush armadillo* from Texas which is wearing a small basic red Western bandanna as a headscarf-cum-cape.

      I’ve always thought Glasgow bids should buy a bunch of those and replace the cowboy scarf with a tartan one. Quick and easy.

      *Armadillos aren’t plush IRL — it’s in the name — but when you’re selling souvenirs to tourists, plush is a better bet.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Weird thing we learned this week: when we call into conference calls with the company-provided phone (even though we are muted) if there is an amber alert, it blasts the whole conference call. Only three out of the 14 people on the meeting were in the Seattle area and got the alert, but…

    I’m currently reading (listening to) The Eleventh Gate by Nancy Kress. Still working of my Hugo ballot.

    I got my WandaVision review up less than 30 hours after watching the episode, so that was good.

    My husband decided to do a thorough cleaning of our veranda/deck, in the process re-arranging some things and he left the snow shuffle in a weird location, which a squirrel knocked it off of, making a really loud noise that I think scared both me and the squirrel out of a year of our lives…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, push notifications to everyone’s phone in the area. “Missing child, last seen in a silver Toyota (or whatever)” and a few other details. In this case, a five year old was in the back seat of a car and Mom was a DoorDash driver and she was picking up a delivery when someone stole the car. They didn’t drive far before realizing they were facing more than grand theft auto charges, because they pulled into a parking lot not far away and were seen fleeing on foot… the kid was unharmed.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. I guess the Amber Alerts are set to override everything on everyone’s phone in the area. They are LOUD. I always have the sound very low on my phone, but BEEEEEP! in stereo, because Mr. LT’s phone is also nearby.

      Snow shovels are big — squirrel must really have been surprised that it moved.

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  12. Are you sure it’s March already?

    Since 1900 there has been a 97% correlation between Olympic years and leap years and a 87% correlation between leap years and Olympic years.

    As this is now officially an Olympic year, there’s a good chance it’s actually the 29th of February.

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    1. My phone is saying it’s March 1st, but there may not have been enough time since the Olympic committee said they were determined to hold the Olympics this year to get an update tested and sent out.

      If you are a leap year baby, I think it’s safe to claim another birthday this year.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Also, east of Japan – so if the Olympic date correction propagates westward from Tokyo on feb 29, it has to all around the world before reaching Australia some time today

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  13. I’m halfway through the 2020 entry in the Rivers of London series, and there’s a quote I think you will absolutely love, Cam:

    “Everyone assumes causation when they should be thinking coincidence, and correlation when they should be asking whether Twitter is really a reliable source of information.”
    — Ben Aaronovitch, False Value

    😀

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Work has been sucking up most of my energy and attention lately, as I find myself in the delightful position of doing two different jobs in two different areas at the same time (in theory part time in each, but haha!). Then I was sick over the weekend, and couldn’t go to a Fringe show I had tickets for (although the very fact that the Fringe is on at all seems somewhat surreal at the moment).
    On the book front, I have been reading “See What You Made Me Do” by Jess Hill, which recently won the Stella prize here in Australia. It is rather grim reading, but meticulously researched and feels very on point for certain current events in this country.

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  15. Watched Jojo Rabbit last week, a strange tale about a boy and his imaginary friend Hitler, during the 1940:s in Germany. It felt like it could have been really good, but it dragged on and showed a very weird version of Germany, including all stereotypes ever imagined. While the beginning was hilarious, I found myself more and more watching my mobile towards the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing that makes me happy about JoJo Rabbit is how very furious Hitler would be to be played by a Jewish Maori actor in a movie.

      Though Bruno Ganz’ is still the best of all Hitler portrayals.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We recorded it but haven’t watched it — I think I’ll have to be in the right mood, with it being so Marmite/Vegemite.

        But Waititi’s being Hitler is *chef kiss*

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  16. I actually have to venture out of the house tomorrow, because I have a court interpreter gig. These are fairly rare, but usually pay well.

    I’ve also noticed that the Castalia House website is offline and has apparently been for a few days.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Well. I haven’t really read much more of Semiosis and I think I’m just going to DNF it. I can’t find a reason to give a crap about a cast of characters that aren’t sticking around. Anyway Klara & the Sun apparently just came out – Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel. Guess I’ll be reading that this week.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s very much a saga-of-generations, so if a changin cast of characters is not your thing, I can understand not wanting to finish it. But like Lorien, I thought it got much stronger as it went along, and I ended up being pretty impressed with it. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. The worldbuilding is very much the strongest part of it.

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      1. I’m more than 30% into it and it’s just not clicking for me. I also found the plant-scenes so far quite boring and repetitive. I think this is not a book for me.

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  18. I found I enjoyed the later parts of the book so much more than the beginning. And I did end up loving it. But that may not be true for everyone.

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