I’m still typing up notes but I thought it was time to look at other people’s reviews and takes on Ada Palmer’s book.
Intellectus Speculativus has strong issues with how gender is portrayed in the book. They make a strong case that it is problematic in a number of ways. Obviously, there is a distinction between the book’s representation versus how Mycroft deals with gender (likewise with religion) but they look at it deeper than that: https://intellectusspeculativus.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/the-problematic-presentation-of-gender-in-ada-palmers-too-like-the-lightning/ I’m back to the dilemma of whether this is a *good* book or a cynical one which partly hinges on whether the society here is intended to be (somewhat) utopian, or a disguised dystopia or a future history in which we are forced to draw our own conclusions (although then why has the author chosen this world to build?).
Meanwhile, Crooked Timber has gone full-in Ada Palmer with multiple articles on the book and some broader ackground by Palmer http://crookedtimber.org/2017/04/20/ada-palmer-seminar-begins/ This article by Lee Konstantinou offers a positive perspective by focusing on the Utopian faction in Palmer’s world http://crookedtimber.org/2017/03/20/ada-palmers-great-conversation/
The Book Smugglers doesn’t have a review but it does have an article by Ada Palmer about why as a historian she writes SF http://thebooksmugglers.com/2016/05/like-lightning-ada-palmer.html
The book has TV Tropes page http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TooLikeTheLightning
Strange Horizons has a review by Paul Kincaid with a strong opening “Had Too Like the Lightning lived up to its aspirations, it would have been one of the most significant works of contemporary science fiction. That, perhaps inevitably, it fails in this ambition leaves a book that is engaging, entertaining, and interesting, but that contains too many confusions and contradictions to be fully satisfying.” http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/reviews/too-like-the-lightning-by-ada-palmer/ I wonder if that captures the mix of feelings here – an ambitious work that for some (many?) doesn’t fulfil its ambitions?
The New York Review of Science Fiction takes a different tack and directly compares Mycroft to Alex from A Clockwork Orange http://www.nyrsf.com/2016/12/two-views-too-like-the-lightningby-ada-palmerreviewed-by-stephen-gerken.html
WIRED asks ‘Should this book have an index?’ https://www.wired.com/2016/08/wired-book-club-too-lightning-2/ well it should have a set of footnotes by the time I’m done 🙂
How much of this doubt about the book a reflection of the doubts we have about Mycroft.
Well, it certainly rates 10/10 for ‘capacity to generate conversations’. I can’t doubt ‘ambitious’ as a description and I think ‘significant’ as well. ‘Good’? Aye, there’s the rub.
A bunch of stuff that has passed my way:
- Cora Buhlert on false memories http://corabuhlert.com/2017/04/17/of-false-memories-and-explosions/ <- links within links here as this article she refers to is well worth a read https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/memory-hacker-implant-false-memories-in-peoples-minds-julia-shaw-memory-illusion
- Cedar Sanderson on using fractal art for book covers at Mad Genius https://madgeniusclub.com/2017/04/15/cover-art-fractals/ (which I linked too already at Baroco Ferison )
- Prompted by a question on Quora, I found this great PDF about Richard Price – a somewhat forgotten 18th-century thinker https://www.york.ac.uk/depts/maths/histstat/price.pdf
- Natalie Luhrs sums up all the appallingness of Odyssey Con http://www.pretty-terrible.com/odyssey-con-fucks-up-but-good/
- While Alexandra Erin talks positively about WisCon http://www.alexandraerin.com/2017/04/so-you-want-to-go-to-wiscon-part-ii-expectations/
- Philip Sandifer is reviewing Doctor Who again http://www.eruditorumpress.com/blog/the-pilot-review/
- Chris Gerrib also has a review of Hunger Makes the Wolf http://chris-gerrib.livejournal.com/672725.html
- A more positive review of Death’s End than mine by Thea James at the Book Smugglers http://thebooksmugglers.com/2017/01/book-review-deaths-end-by-cixin-liu.html
- A wildly speculative but interesting profile of Melania Trump via the photos she has taken https://medium.com/@kate8/fairytale-prisoner-by-choice-the-photographic-eye-of-melania-trump-f1f7b97fff29
- Internet Archive now includes a classic Mac emulator that runs in your browser for old Mac Os (system 6 etc) applications https://archive.org/details/softwarelibrary_mac Sadly not Hypercard as far as I could see.
- Barry Deutsch has a cartoon about gender expectations and being a duck https://thenib.com/if-it-looks-like-a-duck
I haven’t done of these for awhile and so some of links have been sitting there for some time and are now a bit old. Sorry.
A review website I haven’t seen before popped up in my like Geekritique https://geekritique.net/about/ and https://geekritique.net/2017/02/25/the-new-star-wars-novel-empires-end-may-have-finally-revealed-snokes-origins/#more-6524
Alex Acks review of Captain America: Civil War is squee-tastic http://katsudon.net/?p=4872
A discussion of Bertrand Russell’s classic essay https://thepoliticsofwriting.com/2016/05/23/on-mysticism-and-logic/
Is the concept art for Wakanda in the new Black Panther movie too close to the international style? Interesting discussion http://stormingtheivorytower.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/starkitecture-should-we-be-worried.html and from the same blog a Rogue One review http://stormingtheivorytower.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/a-galaxy-very-very-near-are-time-and.html
I’ve been reading Brooke Bolander on Twitter but hadn’t visited her blog before. Here’s a review of the The Last Guardian http://brookebolander.com/?p=389
At Eruditorum Press, Josh Marsfelder looks back at the Zelda game ‘The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask’ http://www.eruditorumpress.com/blog/hyrule-haeresis-6/
Alexandra Erin has been writing some extraordinary Tweet storms on Trump. Here is some blog commentary for those who prefer to avoid the sink-hole of Twitter http://www.alexandraerin.com/2017/03/the-story-on-trumps-speech-hes-a-good-liar/
Ann Leckie discusses tea http://www.annleckie.com/2017/02/14/on-tea/
Some other things:
I have been very remiss in doing one of these. A mix of links and places and things I’ve read. Some are old because I forgot to do one of these posts:
Steve J Wright has a review of Ninefox Gambit https://stevejwright.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/novel-ninefox-gambit/
I usually end up linking to Cora Buhlert’s Hugo related posts – which is a disservice in so far as she writes about lots of other things. In this case, an announcement of a new series with some unconventionally star-crossed lovers: http://corabuhlert.com/2016/09/05/a-new-release-and-a-new-series-dreaming-of-the-stars/
Aaron Pound has some coverage of the Retro Hugo’s http://dreamingaboutotherworlds.blogspot.com.au/2016/09/1941-retro-hugo-award-longlist-awarded.html
S.Schwatrz has thoughts on message fiction https://myoutermarat.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/message-fic-and-the-irregular-conjugation-of-the-adjective/ and also some ruminations on poking badgers with spoons https://myoutermarat.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/on-poking-badgers-kratman-wright-et-al
A different perspective on the 2016 Hugos from Sami Sundell http://sundell.me/articles/2016/08/hugo-winners-nominees-and-next-year/
Chris Gerrib has a rumination on rules and when to break them http://chris-gerrib.livejournal.com/637093.html it’s a neat example but it illustrates a deeper point. Most rules, procedures, even guiding principles have some sort of purpose (and Aristotelean final cause if you like). Understanding the ‘why’ of them matters.
I know everybody has read, applauded and linked to Ursula Vernon’s ‘This Vote is Legally Binding’ but here it is again http://ursulav.livejournal.com/1680540.html because it is worth reading again!
Nicholas Whyte on Watership Down http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2721814.html
Natalie Luhrs has a long piece on the issues with the World Fantasy Convention https://thebias.com/2016/09/06/three-easy-steps-to-fix-the-world-fantasy-convention/
Abby Howards JSPH is back in action after a hiatus https://www.jspowerhour.com/comics/210
Plus lots of things I read but can’t find a link too – you know that thing, it was great, you should read it…
Alexandra Erin has returned to the fray with a new Puppies review children’s books parody http://www.alexandraerin.com/2016/05/sprb-mike-mulligan-and-his-steam-shovel/ and there is also a blog post on writing it http://www.alexandraerin.com/2016/05/digging-deep-with-mike-mulligan/
Ursula Red Wombat Vernon has playing with book covers at her LiveJournal http://ursulav.livejournal.com/1665676.html (no Walruses sadly)
‘Ugh’ at Obsidian Wings explains how the US Federal Government ends up regulating school bathrooms against bigotry http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2016/05/from-the-constitution-to-ccks-in-the-ladies-room.html
Abby Howard’s gloriously oddly spooky The Last Halloween has reached the end of Book 1 and also has kickstarter for physical version https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1203079854/the-last-halloween-book-1/
A late Easter cartoon http://problemswithinfinity.com/2016/04/02/an-easter-vendetta/
James Nicoll Reviews…Blake’s 7 Sarcophagus by Tanith Lee, a 1980 3rd Season episode of the infamously clunky-but-interesting BBC show http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/blakes-7-without-blake
Hemant Mehta talks to atheists who plan to vote Republican in the US presidential election. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/03/04/a-bunch-of-atheists-told-me-why-they-plan-to-vote-republican/
Speaking of which Skepchick, Alex Rudewell looks into whether notable skeptic, Michale Shermer is supporting Donald Trump http://skepchick.org/2016/03/michael-shermer-supports-trump-because-skepticism-is-a-joke/
And while we are in that general space of religion and atheism, Mano Singham has piece about a kind of modern day temple-prostitution. http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2016/03/03/should-freedom-of-religion-protect-offers-of-sex-acts/
Moving onto to more SFnal things, Cora Buhlert has her regular Indie Speculative Fiction of the month post http://corabuhlert.com/2016/02/29/indie-speculative-fiction-of-the-month-for-february-2016/
And still at Cora’s a further round up of Nebula Award reactions: http://corabuhlert.com/2016/02/28/yet-more-reactions-to-the-2015-nebula-awards-nominees/
Rachael Acks watched the movie ‘Gods of Egypt’ while drunk and blogged about it for charity. http://katsudon.net/?p=4694 Her write up has a Venn diagram in it which is great but the movie has ‘no wangs’ (as she puts it) which considering this is supposed to be a retelling of the Osiris, Isis, Horus, Set story is a glaring omission. Rather like having a movie of the New Testament and leaving out crosses. Anway, a laugh-out-loud funny review.
Kate Paulk at Mad Genius describes the next steps in Sad Puppy 4 http://madgeniusclub.com/2016/03/03/the-deep-breath-before-the-dive/ The comments go off on a hilarious tangent about how Mad Genius is so much better because they don’t moderate people much unlike File 770 which does because everybody knows that John Scalzi moderates his comments. I simply said ‘Hmmmmmmm’ because raising one’s eyebrows in a way to suggest ‘have you actually thought about what you are saying?’ doesn’t work over the internet.
Best Movie Space Battles at File770 http://file770.com/?p=27831
Thoreau muses on US civil traditions in an essay entitled You can learn a lot from people who sleep with snakes http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2016/03/02/19135
Joanna Cabot at TeleRead discusses the Kylie versus Kylie intellectual property argument http://www.teleread.com/trademark-crazy-who-owns-a-name/
What is going on around the web –
Natalie Luhrs has been making pivot tables! An analysis of the Locus Reading List by various categories (e.g. gender) http://www.pretty-terrible.com/2016/02/05/a-brief-analysis-of-the-locus-recommended-reading-list-2011-2015/ Also she has made the whole data set she collated downloadable. Impressive stuff.
Scenes from a Multiverse discusses SJWs http://amultiverse.com/comic/2016/02/05/brostitutional-rights/
J Carlton at The Arts Mechanical re-posted the Larry Pic and the a link to a different post of mine here https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/ongoing-sad-puppies-stuff/ He also complains about ‘puppy kickers’ linking Sad-Puppies to Vox Day. Gosh 🙂
Nicholas Whyte continues to provide insights into the gloriously 1970s UK kids show The Double Deckers http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2599835.html
Rachel Acks’s ‘No Shit’ anthology is at the rejecting things stage http://katsudon.net/?p=4613
Lis Carey has a review of Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, by Diana Pavlac Glyer http://www.liscareyslibrary.com/2016/02/bandersnatch-cs-lewis-jrr-tolkien-and.html
Rocket Stack Rank has useful resources for those looking for stuff to nominate or reminders of what they are considering http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2016/01/2015-pro-artists.html The pro artist category is neatly done.
Karl-Johan has an ABBA themed Cthulu filk using Chiquita http://kjn.livejournal.com/60858.html I suspect he may receive a visit from Laundry agents for adding dark-powers to ear worms.