Susan’s Salon: 2021 May 16/17

Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday (Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is still Sunday in most other countries). It’s fine to be sad, worried, vaccinated, unvaccinated-yet, 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 😇

May the seventeenth be with you, damn missed the right day again

48 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2021 May 16/17

  1. The most stupid moment of the week. The Ex of my brother reveled that her new boyfriend wanted a special vacine for his covid-shot. He wanted Astra Zeneca, because he is an Opel fan und there was the Opel Astra.

    I leave that without saying more…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s probably the most stupid reason for wanting a specific vaccine I’ve heard yet. Insert joke about Opel drivers here.

      Though at least he picked a vaccine that’s fairly easy to get, even if you’re not priorirty.

      My Mom got her first shot of the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine this Friday (she can’t take AstraZeneca because of a heightened blood clot risk). No side effects, not even a red arm.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is a surprise, since comparatively few people want AstraZenenca and/or cannot take it because of the thrombosis risk. Or is he high risk for thrombosis?

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      2. Sorry, I don’t know. We don’t have enough contact to ask that. The situation is not the best, we try to be nice because of the kid, but it is not that easy.

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  2. Another mostly boring week here, but I did have fun on Monday. I made another short road trip — drove a few towns over (about an hour and a half on the interstate) to pick up a bunch of plants I had ordered from a spring garden sale by one of the branches of UT (that’s Tennessee, not Texas!). On the way back I stopped at a big garden center that somehow I had never been to before, even though I’ve lived in this state for half a century. Bought a lot more plants that I really shouldn’t have. This will not be my last visit to that nursery. 😉 Then I ate a late lunch/early supper At! A! Restaurant! With no masks and no social distancing to speak of! And crowded! They were doing a brisk business, even at an off-ish hour (around 5). Made me very happy.

    In viewing, I binged season 2 of Outlander. I still regret nothing. I also watched Chicken People, a documentary focused on people who participate in poultry shows. It was fun, but also a little sad — the three main interviewees were obvious misfits: one admitted he was too obsessed to have a family or relationships; one was a recovering alcoholic; and the third was a Broadway-type singer doing shows in Branson, MO while his parents took care of his chickens on their farm many miles away.

    In reading:

    First, These Violent Delights, by Chloe Gong. (warning, ranting coming up) I had to take a couple of breaks from this one, because I kept getting irritated. There are some good descriptive phrases, but there’s also a lot of really odd, awkward, and somewhat nonsensical phrasing and grammar throughout.

    For instance:

    “he was perfectly valid to suspect her”
    — how is a person valid or invalid?

    “the sun was glaring brightly behind his head, flaring rays that illuminated him into overt clarity”
    — wtf is “overt clarity”?

    “frigid breeze, a gale that stung her skin with every point of contact”
    — how tf does a gale have a “point of contact”?

    “while he operated in his comfortable claim as heir of the White Flowers, Juliet was fighting to be seen, hanging onto her father’s every word in fear that missing a single instruction would place her into obscurity.”
    — a person isn’t “placed” into obscurity. They may fade, live, etc. in obscurity, but “place” is just weird. And you can feel the general weird awkwardness of the rest of the sentence as well.

    “the most opaque white liquid she’d ever seen”
    — how tf do you get more opaque than a can of white paint, for instance? I mean, you can’t get more opaque than totally opaque, right?

    “her most basic reflexes shaking violently”
    — how tf do reflexes shake?

    “for the sake of something to do if events erred sideways”
    — how tf does an event “err”?

    “a matter of taking the bullets out of her pistol so it fired only with the sound”
    — Ummm. When an unloaded pistol’s trigger is depressed, there is nothing to “fire”. There is essentially no sound (just a click). In this instance there is supposed to be a bang just as loud as a real shot. No, just no, plus a big eye roll for unforgiveable ignorance.

    There are tons more of these throughout the book. It makes me wonder if this is the fault of a translator or an editor, and if the author was just trying too hard to write descriptively or if she was actually writing in Chinese, and whether English is a second language for her, and stuff like that.

    The story itself was intermittently interesting, and certainly not run-of-the-mill — but I’m not sure what the point was, especially since it ended before anything was really resolved.

    I was also not all that thrilled with the narration by Cindy Kay. For one thing, she whispered her male voices even when the dialogue tag explicitly said things like “he bellowed”, which was just comical at times.

    After that I dnfed Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston. It wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t make myself pay attention — it just wasn’t grabbing my fancy.

    Then I listened to Wayward Son, second in the Simon Snow UF/PNR series (trilogy — I think book 3 is supposed to be the last) by Rainbow Rowell. These really are pretty excellent, even if they are a bit YA in attitude. You must be able to tolerate some young-adult relationship angsting to appreciate them, but I like the narrative voices and characters, and the plots are entertaining. Most excellent narration by Euan Morton, aside from very small quibbles about his American accent (it’s mostly narrated in various British accents). I will definitely be reading book 3.

    Then I listened to Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine, second in the Great Library series. Another entertaining book, and I’ll definitely read book 3.

    Then Fugitive Telemetry came off hold at the library. Yay, Murderbot! Surprisingly little murdering in this one — especially surprising since it’s a murder mystery! Set between Exit Strategy and Network Effect, after the Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory short. Like all the Murderbots, it made me smile many times.

    Now I’ve just started The Broken Eye, book 3 in the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks. I’ve already dnfed this book once — I was just burned out on the series — but I’m giving it another chance. One of my favorite narrators does this series — Simon Vance — and that’ll help. Long book, though — 29 hours — so We Shall See if I make it through this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fairly certain Chloe Gong is fluent in Engilsh and the novel isn’t translated, so that’s not the problem you’re having with the prose there. (I liked that book a lot, so I didn’t have your issues I guess)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. How far are you all in the Hugoreading? I have only done Short Story and nearly finished She-Ra, so best Presentation Short will be done soon (probably also long), Novelete I have read what was avable only, other catagorys I have done a bit. I think execpt that I have not done anythink for fanartist, I am round about as fair as I was last year before the pacage.

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      1. Feeling bizarrely ahead given how much time there is to the convention. I had read all of the Novella finalists prior to the announcement; I finished the Astounding finalists a couple weeks ago and the Novel / Series finalists simultaneously last weekend. I’ll probably wrap up the short fiction finalists next week — I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently due to too much sitting inside my apartment. I’ve also got the two Related Work finalists that are actual books ready for pickup at the library so that’ll also happen soon-ish.

        Dunno what to do after that. Graphic Story, I guess? See how much of Dramatic Presentation I can get through without subscribing to any streaming services?

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      2. I am still doing last year’s Hugo reading, frankly. Just read “Emergency Skin” yesterday.

        Luckily I’m not voting this year; will have to get on it more for next year.

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    3. GF had a similar reaction to you when we went to a café for lunch last weekend. “We’re eating in a room with other people whom I don’t live with!” (I was more blasé relaxed, I don’t go much to cafes anyway and they’ve been open where I live so I’ve always had the option.)

      I think maybe the gun thing is meant to imply making a blank cartridge by removing the bullet, not removing the cartridge from the pistol? But it’s still clumsily written. (And it requires a vice and pliers, and probably something semi-soft to replace the bullet with to prevent the powder from leaking out. I don’t know how that fits the story.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Johan —

        “I think maybe the gun thing is meant to imply making a blank cartridge by removing the bullet, not removing the cartridge from the pistol?”

        No. There is no advance planning in this scene. She’s in the middle of fraught action, and she surreptitiously empties her gun of its bullets and then fires it all within a few seconds. As I quoted, the empty gun supposedly makes a normal “bang” when she does. It’s a very important part of the plot, because the point is that she’s pretending to kill someone and everybody else believes that she has done so because they see her “fire” the gun (which they don’t know is unloaded) and (supposedly) hear the noise of the shot.

        And it’s idiotic.

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  3. Been a week of shorter fiction for me, with the works I’ve read this week been a collection of “Black Sci-Fi Short Stories” (featuring works from modern black authors alongside some historical pieces), a collection of Marjorie Liu’s short fiction (“The Tangleroot Palace”), as well as Nino Cipri’s novella Defekt (the sequel to “Finna”). Even the novel I read today, Katherine Addison’s upcoming “The Witness for the Dead”, is rather short (it’s listed at 240 pages adn is indeed that short despite its predecessor the Goblin Emperor being double the length). But there’s been a lot of good stuff in these works – some fun, some interesting in themes, so it’s a nice change.

    Question for the crowd here actually raised by trying to review the aforementioned Black Sci-Fi Short Stories collection – how do you judge an anthology where the best material is not the newer stories that are hard (being published in other anthologies or brand new to this collection) or impossible to find elsewhere but rather historical stories that have long passed into the public domain and are available for free online? That was the case here, in which the longer stories that made up the bulk of the collection from the start of the 20th century or earlier was far more interesting to read than the newer stuff….like the collection has value in collecting those stories together, but technically I could just suggest people track down those stories instead? I honestly didn’t know how to review this situation.

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  4. With immunity as of Tuesday I spent much of the week catching up on stuff: Car inspection, haircut, plumbers in, housekeepers in. The plumbing firm was inept: We booked a week earlier, checked on the day but he never showed and had apparently never been told we had an appointment. Fortunately we found a substitute.
    Then we had a friend of my wife staying the weekend, which made things even more hectic. Which is why I’m working a lot of the weekend, something I much prefer not to do.
    Read Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks. Didn’t quite stick the landing, but a good riff on stories about the genius kid who just doesn’t fit in.

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  5. The semester has ended at last. I have no classes this summer, which on the one hand I can use the rest and on the other hand, ugh, poverty.

    I’m reading KJ Parker at the moment. I never much like his endings, but the rest is always great.

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    1. I’m doing a massive read of all of the Parker short fiction right now. I’ve gotten from the library Academic Exercises and The Father of Lies – each of which is a doorstopper short fiction collection that contains several novellas (some of which I’ve already read) in addition to the novelettes and short stories. They’re faux history fantasies set in a world which resembles Earth in the Age of Antiquity; most of them are set in a loosely-defined universe of “The Empire” and often reference people from the other stories, but few of them are actually connected to each other. The plots typically involve wars, sieges, commerce, politics, academic shenanigans, con artists, and/or magic practitioners.

      I like the endings to his stories, but I don’t love them, likely for the same reason you don’t care for them: almost all of them are Kobayashi Maru scenarios. So one can admire the cleverness of the protagonists’ solutions while finding the outcomes a bit sad or depressing.

      The novels Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City and How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It are two such; the latter is a direct sequel, but they feature different main protagonists, each dealing with their own Kobayashi Maru. They’re very clever and very good, but not really what you could consider to be happy endings.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I didn’t like How to Rule an Empire as much as Sixteen Ways, but I thought they were both very good. I’m looking forward to more Parker in the nearish future.

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  6. Mostly through Hugo best novella finalist Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi. Not sure how much is suppose to be really happening in the story and what maybe the characters only think is happening. Haven’t really gotten too much into Hugo reading/viewing/listening yet. Still going through things and finding out what I can get ahold of myself through the library and whatnot. It is finally starting to feel like spring here — able to ditch the jacket and wear more summery clothing — yay!

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  7. Since I’m still largely apartment bound by edict of the neurological consultants until I get my in-hospital EEG in October as a fall while by myself out walking is a Very Bad Idea, I got my haircut here by one of care assistants. I must say she did a job better than any local barber.

    I’m currently listening to P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn which is the first of a series and quite excellent. After that I’ll move unto Seanan McGuire’s new Ghost Roads novel, Angel of The Overpass.

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  8. It has come to my attention that there is now a Cthulu/R’yleh tartan. (Also two Scrooge McDuck tartans, a Shrek tartan and a Brave tartan; and tartans for Superman, Wolverine, and Spiderman.)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Read “The Book of Koli” and its two sequels. A fun, post-apocalyptic adventure in what used to be England. In many ways, it’s a hopeful story, inasmuch as things seem to be getting better.

    Steadily working my way through “Nueva historia general de México,” which is a history of Mexico written by well-regarded writers. What’s interesting is the very different way the authors look at issues like race and colonization. I’m 30% of the way through it, and I’m just up to the period when Mexico was a part of Spain and adopted rules giving equal rights to people regardless of race (a topic that merits no more than a single paragraph).

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  10. I’ve been reading a lot of Heyer lately which has led to me wondering about her social views.

    She has a lot of girls who run away from home without meeting with disaster, and those people who think only of propriety aren’t shown favorably. But her characters don’t discard social conventions totally, they push at the boundaries without going outside them. I suppose she liked the idea of slow social change?

    When considering class, some of her upper class characters are nice, some not. They all seem to be shallow, they are more interested in discussing the latest horse race than the war in America or the new steam engine. I don’t know if that is supposed to be a criticism or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Anybody here read Master of the Revels: A Return to Neal Stephenson’s D.O.D.O. which Nicole Galland penned? I really enjoyed that Stephenson novel and would love to return to that universe.

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  12. 40% of the way through The Dragon Republic – I remain glad that the series got some renewed buzz or I might never have pushed myself to get through that first chapter of The Poppy War.

    Turns out not one but *two* Jeff Noon novels have been published this year, so I’ll be reading the latest Nyquist novel between Dragon Republic and Burning God, and his straight-up crime fiction after Burning God.

    I also just picked up a couple of interesting-sounding Korean SFF novels:
    To the Warm Horizon by Choi Jin-young (tr. Soje) – a queer love story set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia
    Tower by Bae Myung-hoon (tr. Sung Ryu) – a collection of interconnected stories set in a 674-story skyscraper called the Beanstalk.

    So I’ll need to fit those into my reading somewhere too.

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    1. KasaObake: Turns out not one but *two* Jeff Noon novels have been published this year, so I’ll be reading the latest Nyquist novel

      If you mean Creeping Jenny, it was published in 2020.

      I tried to read A Man of Shadows, and I just couldn’t get past the absolute irrationality of why people would decide/agree to all run their own time zones, making life for everyone so much harder than it needed to be (like The City and The City, only on steroids), and the character component wasn’t strong enough to overcome the worldbuilding problem. It struck me as being more of a thought experiment than an actual story. So I’ve never tried any of the sequels. I’d be interested in hearing your perspective on the Nyquist Mysteries.

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      1. Within Without (the latest Nyquist) came out about 4-5 days ago and all the way back in January(!) House With No Doors was published as well, which is a sequel to Slow Motion Ghosts and is more of a straight-up crime novel with no speculative elements.

        “It struck me as being more of a thought experiment than an actual story.”

        I think that’s pretty much true of all of his Nyquist books. They take a conceit (personalised timezones, stories coming to life and infecting people, a village controlled by superstitious belief in saints that dictate how they can behave on any given day) and stretch it to breaking point. I get the feeling that with Nyquist especially, Noon is trying to dissect the idea of story and narrative and see how far he can push concepts until they start to lose all sense of normality.

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  13. So today we went out without masks and got chiropracted!

    That was nice.

    Not nice is that our plumbing sprung a leak and so we have no hot water. The plumber was scheduled to come after we got back, so of course he showed up while we were still gone, buggered off, and never came back, meaning another day sans hot. Luckily the dishes got done and the showers taken before. Grrrr.

    EGG gave us quite the lecture about both of us being GONE for TWO WHOLE HOURS, and someone rang the doorbell!!! He leads a hard life.

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  14. I keep going down weird reading rabbit holes and not getting to the Hugo stories I hadn’t already read before the ballot came out.

    I would up re-listening to several T. Knigfisher audio books, and then found myself (after a conversation where I was trying to explain to someone why some 19th Century books are worth reading) leaping into the Hugh Dickson narrated Bleak House.

    Counting down the days until I get my second shot (and four days later my husband gets his). I’ve had a number of conversations explaining why I intend to keep masking up in public for a long time after I reach full vaccination.

    Completely unrelated, I was doing the weekly sweep up of the deck, and planting some new flowers in spots in the planters where others have died, and realized I’ve been neglected to move certain things and sweep around them. Discovered that the reason all my irises have been losing leaves is NOT because they are being eaten. Something, probably a rat, had chewed two holes in one of the storage bins — specifically the one where my husband had been keeping his SCA armor, and decided the armor was the perfect place to build a nest. Mostly built from iris leaves and a lot of moss.

    This led to going through the rest of the storage bins, throwing a bunch of things out, and trying to figure out if there is a way to discourage the presumed-rat without killing other wildlife. Such as the squirrel I have nicknamed Junior who is currently pregnant and taken up a habit of sleeping on the railing right outside my office window in the middle of the afternoon.

    I got a whopping 3800 words written this week (not couting work writing, which has been decidedly more). And I’ve been trying to convicne myself that just because 3800 words sould more like a day’s output that I should not beat myself up over it, if for no other reason that work has really been draining my brain…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Simple but expensive non-lethal rat discouragement — metal storage bins.

      My cats occasionally bring in a native rat. I’m almost sorry to see them dead — they are much more appealing than the “typical” Norway rats.

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      1. Reminds me on the epic fight, between a squirrel and a pheasant, that I have seen pictures of today.
        Re Cats, from a newspaperarticle today I found out, that certain food and games for cat reduce the numbers of small animals that cats kill.
        Unfortunatly there is no option for us to get the neighbourscat to not leave her dead mice in my mothers garden. Last time my nice found one.

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  15. The shelf-building project that will not end seems to actually be nearing its end. After that, I just have to wait for the paint to cure sufficiently that I can put books on the shelves without running the risk they will stick to them.

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  16. We celebrated May 17, the Norwegian national day, on the ice planet Hoth. That is, on Finse where the Hoth scenes where filmed back in 1979. We didn’t see any tauntauns – I think the only animals we saw was a ptarmigan and some dogs – and while there’s still plenty of snow it wasn’t exactly icy, but it was a fine day nonetheless.

    Liked by 3 people

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