gothwalk: (Default)
( Apr. 7th, 2017 11:31 am)
I am now defaulting to reading here rather than LJ, and have imported all my entries and such.
gothwalk: (annoucnement)
( Jan. 31st, 2017 11:50 am)
I will write a poem, he said
(witness the distancing of the poet)
In which I will threaten and cajole
In such a persuasive manner that all
Who can be threatened or cajoled
Will be on my side.
Everybody who remains on the other side
Can be burnt to the ground in good conscience.
I will write a poem, he said,
And he continued to compose it, in his head.
gothwalk: (work)
( Jan. 1st, 2017 11:00 pm)
I am on Dreamwidth under the same account name. I haven't used it in donkey's years, but may consider adding it to the permanently open tabs if enough people are moving there.
gothwalk: (annoucnement)
( Nov. 10th, 2016 03:42 pm)
Two frosts in the month
An autumn that slides gently
Not getting traction
We were promised cold weather
And fair representation
These are from the three parts of the recent European Tour: Drachenwald's Summer Coronation in Germany, the International Medival Congress in Leeds, UK, and Cudgel War in Finland.

Slow-flowing water
Woodsmoke through descending dark
Fireflies in woodland

Words between scholars
Common ground uncovered
Mind overflowing

Dry heat in darkness
Wood and gravel underfoot
Lake water is cold
gothwalk: (work)
( Jun. 23rd, 2016 03:44 pm)
Lifted from [livejournal.com profile] chelseagirl, and used here to try to cudgel my brain into working, which it's not otherwise doing this afternoon.

1: Currently Reading: Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood. I read it a number of times about 15-20 years ago, and have been intending to re-read it for a while. An Amazon gift voucher from a survey site had me poking around on Amazon, and I bought it and the next two as ebooks.

2: Describe the last scene you read in as few words as possible. No character names or title: Anachronistic flight and pursuit through neolithic river valley.

3: First book that had a major influence on you: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I'm pretty sure.

4: Quick, you're in desperate need of a fake name. What character name do you think of first?: Pentateuch Stoker. No, I have no idea where that came from, I never do. If the intention is a plausible name from an existing character, Antryg Windrose isn't going to work, so Edmund Pevensie. That was clearly seeded by Q3.

5: Favorite series and why: These days, it's probably Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, because they've enough world and interesting enough concepts for me to get my teeth into. I do love Barbara Hambly's Dog Wizard sequence and associated books, though.

6: Public library or personal library?: Personal. Public libraries aren't open during hours that are any way convenient for me, at work or at home, and my non-fiction reading is much too specialised to be supported by a public library, or even, being honest, a university library. I think public libraries are massively important to have, mind, they're just not very useful to me.

7: What is the most important part of a book, in your opinion?: The words? The quality of writing, I think, which will pull me into books I otherwise wouldn't read. After that, depth of setting. Story I'm none too concerned with - give me enough setting, and I'll infer story all on my own.

8: Why are you reading the book you're currently reading?: The concepts of mythic time/space vortices have been important to me since I first read Holdstock, and I want to re-read them now that I've more critical ability and a wider understanding of myth and history.

9: If you were to publish a book what (besides your real name) would you use for your author name?: Robin Edge, which was my mother's name, but would do very nicely for a name of indeterminate gender, which I think is a useful consideration.

10: Do you listen to music when you read?: Sometimes by accident, but rarely intentionally.

11: What book fandom do you affiliate yourself with the most?: Narnia, I think. If Barbara Hambly's books had more fanfic, it'd be those.

12: Tell one book story or memory (what you were wearing when you were reading something, someone saw you cry in public, you threw a book across the room and broke a window, etc.): When I was about 10, I read an anthology of Best Horror Stories, or somesuch. One story, about children who were vampires, had a scene where two juvenile bloodsuckers were standing on a lawn, in moonlight, looking up at the narrator's window. It stuck with me for years, and continues to give me cold shudders.

13: What character would be your best friend in real life?: I think I'd get on famously with the aforementioned Antryg Windrose. Alternately, Billy the Werewolf.

14: Favorite item of book merch: I... don't know. I'm not sure I own any.

15: Post a shelfie: Away from bookshelves. Might fill in later.

16: Rant about anything book related: Originality. I get a lot of alerts from Amazon and Bookbub about bargain books. These fall into two categories: books I already wanted, which are now on sale, and books that are third-generation photocopies of books that sold very well. There are far more of the latter, and the unoriginality can be stunning. The number of time-travel romances that followed Outlander being on TV, for instance, was terrifying. And not the clever non-linearity of The Time Traveller's Wife, just the linear story of a woman with a man in each of two eras.

17: What do you think about movie/tv adaptations?: In many cases, I like them, but I like them to diverge a bit. Some of the Narnia films don't stick in my mind at all because they were too faithful to the books, and didn't add anything to the movies that exists in my head.

18: Favorite booktuber(s): I have no idea what that is, to be honest.

19: Book that you call your child: What?

20: A character you like but you really, really shouldn't: Er. I don't know. Most anti-heroes are just unpleasant, and most other characters have enough redeeming features. I can't think of any situation where I'd apply two 'really's to not liking a character anyway.

21: Do you loan your books?: Sure, but I don't really expect them to come back. Anything I want to keep, I don't loan. But ebooks, which are 90% of my reading now, are hard to loan.

22: A movie or tv show you wish would have been a book: I've never watched a lot of TV, and most of what I've seen has gone from book or comic to television or film, not the other way around. Some of Tim Powers' books, maybe? No, television to book. Er. The X-Files? I mean, there were and are X-Files books...

23: Did your family or friends influence you to read when you were younger?: Family, yes. Friends weren't great at it. I got bored at a friend's house once, at the age of about 8, and asked where they kept the books. They didn't have any. I was horrified.

24: First book(s) you remember being obsessed with: Lord of the Rings, at 9, just going on 10.

25: A book that you think about and you cringe because of how terrible it was: I don't tend to keep books like that in memory. I do remember a guy I knew in Irish College (three weeks of Irish Language summer school) saying he was writing a novel, and getting him to send me the first few pages. They were hand-written (I had assumed he had a typewriter, and would photocopy a few pages because gawd, who hand-writes a novel?), and they were so dire that I remember a cold/hot feeling of creeping awfulness. He couldn't punctuate, and the 'story' was clearly ripped off from The Hobbit with bits changed. We were about 15, and it was 7-year-old standard.

26: Do you read from recommendations or whatever book catches your eye?: Both. All.

27: How/where do you purchase your books?: Ebooks from Amazon, or any Amazon-compatible vendors, or DriveThruRPG, or Humble Bundle. Physical books are usually non-fiction; some come from Amazon as well, but most from academic bookshops, second-hand bookshops, or... I don't know where the damn things come from, actually, they just turn up.

28: An ending you wish you could change: The Last Battle. Not the ending of the book, mind, but the book itself, the ending of the series. The Christian allegory went overboard, and it just wasn't in any way satisfying, let alone Susan's situation. The whole book is just not in my headcanon for Narnia.

29: Favorite female protagonist: Oh, that's tough. Verity Price? Joanna Sheraton? Honor Harrington?

30: One book everyone should read: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

31: Do you day dream about your favorite books? If so, share one fantasy you have about them: No, I have tabletop RPGs for that.

32: OTP or NoTP?: NoTP. IDIC.

33: Cute and fluffy or dramatic and deadly?: Cute and deadly, please.

34: Scariest book you ever read: I don't remember the title, but it was about the American Right. Something like Why America is Right. Completely terrifying, and repulsive.

35: What do you think of Ebooks: See above. 90% of my reading, allows me carry 500-odd books around all the time.

36: Unpopular opinions: All my opinions are popular with the audience that matters. That is, me. I am, for the most part, deeply unconcerned as to whether they're popular with other people.

37: A book you are scared is not going to be all you hoped it would be: The Nightmare Stacks. I love the rest of Charlie's writing, but the last book in the series left me uninterested. Scared would be an exaggeration, though.

38: What qualities do you find annoying in a character?: Tough exterior, soft interior. The hard-boiled detective type. Harry Dresden skates right along the edge of this, and continues to get away with it.

39: Favorite villain: Anne Reynolt, in A Deepness In The Sky.

40: Has there ever been a book you wish you could un-read?: As in, have it erased from memory so I never remember it again, or so I can re-read it as though for the first time? I would like to re-read Barbara Hambly's Stranger At The Wedding for the first time.
Where did humans get the idea of
Thresholds, anyway? The savannah has
No such borders. You cannot really shove
Someone out of the shade, as much as
You can through a door. Sociology
(Which is the science of crowds) says nothing
About thresholds. Also, the knowledge he
(it's always he), Freud, or Jung, or Tulving,
Provides says so much about the effect
But nothing about the cause. You forget
What you were doing, stand in still neglect,
An action interrupted. And as yet
There's nothing there at all. One's mind goes blank.
It's somewhat liberating, to be frank.
gothwalk: (memory)
( Feb. 5th, 2016 01:03 pm)
This is an entry for the Failbetter Games Zee Shanty competition. Sadly, it's limited to 100 words, so you only get two verses of it.

Oh, a bottle of the Willow wouldn't do us any harm,
An' a dark and dewy cherry wouldn't send us to the farm,
An' a rubbery lump or two wouldn't raise any alarm,
An’ you’ll all hang on behind!

[Chorus]
Send me down to Wolfstack and then pressgang me to sea,[x3]
An' you'll all hang on behind!

And the scatter of the bats there is a grand old sight to see,
Them bats are damnéd lucky when you're putting out to zee,
An' I'll meet the Likely Lass there if she's only meeting me,
An’ you’ll all hang on behind!
Birds

Say, under the full green moon,
What lies in your breast, or caps the horn of the goat, or both.
The greased feather, that spreads the blood
Dies before the head from which it is plucked.
But the bird's claw still points
From a smoked round foot.
This is Item 3 in the December Review of Books What Drew Read In 2015, which is proceeding slowly, but proceeding all the same. Dave Hutchinson appears not to be able to decide whether he's a David or a Dave, or more likely his publishers can't decide - I've seen both on different covers.

Europe in Autumn is, I think, the most notable book I've read this year. I don't know that it's the best, because that's a difficult judgement at the best of times, but it's the one about which I have thought the most while not reading it, and I read it three times. Spoilers, as ever, follow.

Spoilers Ahoy )
gothwalk: (memory)
( Dec. 15th, 2015 10:48 am)
More books soon. In the meantime, though, Nina and I are starting a newsletter. Well, a letter, because it'll be more stuff we've been thinking about than news. It'll be about fortnightly, and contain... stuff. We're not all that certain yet what stuff.

You can subscribe, should you be inclined, at: http://tinyletter.com/ebbandflow
This is Item 2 in the December Review of Books What Drew Read In 2015. Jo Walton is one of my very favourite authors, and I will pretty much automatically buy anything she publishes.

This is commentary, not a review, and probably contains spoilers.

Contains spoilers )
This is Item 1 in the December Review of Books What Drew Read In 2015. It will be in no way a complete listing, because even leaving out the piles of stuff I read for college, and the YA stuff I get from Kindle Unlimited and which therefore vanishes again, the list came to 54 books.

This is commentary rather than review, rambles madly, and probably contains spoilers.

Spoilers within )
gothwalk: (annoucnement)
( Nov. 30th, 2015 04:59 pm)
I'll be posting some book reviews (or at least commentaries) during December. To tide you over in the meantime, though, here's a piece I wrote on changes I'm expecting in the next 50 years.
gothwalk: (work)
( Jun. 19th, 2015 02:44 pm)
Yoinked from [livejournal.com profile] chelseagirl

A SF/F/H author whose books I will buy sight unseen is: There are more than a few. Jim Butcher, Jo Walton, China Mieville, Neal Stephenson, Barbara Hambly, Ann Leckie, Diane Duane, Max Gladstone... but for purposes of this discussion, let's say Barbara Hambly.

My favorite book by that author is: Sorcerer's Ward (published in the US as Stranger at the Wedding). It's in the same setting as some of her previous books, and features a minor character from them. The world-building, the characters, and the development of magic in the setting are absolutely brilliant.

The most recent new-to-me SF/F/H author I discovered was: Max Gladstone

The book that helped me discover that author is: Three Parts Dead. Gladstone's world is a departure from Tolkienesque fantasy, developing what's essentially a modern society where magic and gods are an integral part of day to day life. There are lawyers and financiers, and magic and magical contracts are worked all through it. And then he sets characters into motion who are genuinely human, appealing people. Brilliant stuff.

One of my favourite SF/F/H authors is: Diane Duane

They are one of my favourites because: She's developed a coherent setting which runs alongside our reality, with some of my favourite characters as well. She's had books set in Ireland which actually feel like Ireland, and Irish characters who aren't caricatures. And she has feline wizards. Also, the decision to update some of her earlier books to make them work in a world where mobile phones and internet access happen was something I'd like to see more authors do.

The most coveted SF/F/H book I own is: I don't know that I have any. I mean, I've a few signed odds and ends, from having been to conventions, but they're mostly meaningful to me, rather than being things anyone else would covet. I have a few first editions, but again, they're mostly 80s and 90s paperbacks, not hardcovers, and I don't reckon anyone would want them. By and large, I value my books for the text, not the physical object.
I know that I am finished with all the writing, studying, etc. I am not yet in the state of mind where I can think of other things to do as things I can do now, as opposed to their still being things I can do at some later point. The actual results will be out later in the summer, and I am intensely relaxed with regard to them. The overall result will be a good 2.1, or if one of the dissertations got very good marks, maybe a first. Either is good. Either will get me into the MA in Local History in Maynooth, which is my current vague intention - but I will not be entering that until Autumn 2016 at the very earliest, and possibly not for another year after that.

I am developing a mental list of projects, which will become a physical or least electronic list of projects in the reasonably near future. It will include things like getting back to various RPGs, writing a paper for a conference in the summer, getting myself to inbox zero, various DIY things, a number of SCA craft projects, getting considerably fitter and losing some of the belly, getting armour together, getting into it and re-authorising as a heavy fighter, finding a place for archery practice in Dublin, and stepping up as Kingdom Social Media Officer for Drachenwald in June.

I also plan to have more of a presence on various blogs and so forth, although that's a plan I've had before.

What's notably absent from the list of projects is an MMO. I thought long and hard about getting back into Wurm Online, which I love, or EVE, likewise, or even some other MMO that people I know are playing. But they are such incredible timesinks that I don't think I can justify it; it would be one, or two, or three evenings a week going into something that has no output, and probably has an overall negative impact on my health. I may well continue to dip into Neverwinter once in a while, because it's free and takes no ongoing commitment, but other than that, computer games will be the offline sort with a distinct end point.
Clearest moments occur not so often
That they should be ignored. The lightning flash,
The concept, obtuse, starting to soften.
The glow of embers deep among the ash.
It is this that each critic must pursue:
Not quibbling detail, nor yet wider range,
But to illuminate dark words anew.
And then from the forge of the mind, so strange
In the instant of bright understanding
To draw out the steel, and to sharpen it,
To then flay from the flesh, so demanding
The bone-marrow, the essence, the rennet.
The smith and the butcher both work the blade;
the blood-brightest words realised, not made.
We're currently on holiday in the Cotswolds. It's a grey, damp day out there, and both of us had SCA paperwork to complete, so we're making use of the wifi connection in the cottage. It's not as good as the connection at home, but it's still perfectly usable.

There is a thing that is puzzling me as I look around here, and as we travelled across from Ufton Nervet to Burford and Burford to here (here being the charmingly named Upper Slaughter). Namely, everything is very neat. I don't just mean that things are well-kept, although that's true (except for the roads, which occasionally achieve 'decent', but don't always make it). I mean more that there is overall care taken for the look of the landscape.

In Ireland, we have (some) scenic villages with old stonework and thatched cottages. And less than 200m from the scenic zone, as it were, you'll have an estate of modern 2- and 3-bed semi-detached houses, and a crop of white bungalows extending to the next village. These houses are nothing bad in and of themselves, but they don't match the landscape the way the older buildings do, and they're right there on top of them.

In comparison, Upper Slaughter seems to have only a very few 20th century buildings. They're built from the same sandstone, have the same slate roofs, and if it weren't for their more modern window shapes, I don't know that I could tell the difference. In another few decades of weathering, they'll have blended pretty completely with the 16th and 17th century neighbours. The same is true in Lower Slaughter, and in the countryside all the way up to Stow on the Wold, which has a few modern buildings tucked into places they can't be much seen. Burford has a good kilometre of village street, all of which dates to before 1900. This includes two or three banks and a Co-op supermarket.

Further, the hedges are neatly trimmed, there are areas of woodland (named on the map as Something Copse or Someone's Wood), there are sizable trees in the hedgerows, there are public footpaths everywhere, including through fields, and there are footbridges, styles, kissing gates, two-in-one gates and so forth all over the place. Any area which is too damp to be a real field (and there are plenty) is given over to be woodland or wetland, not left as a soggy, useless field.

I'm sure this is the result of being some sort of special conservation area. But the point is that we don't seem to be able to do that at all in Ireland. We can manage the "no new houses" thing in parts of Wicklow and Kerry. But that doesn't seem to get rid of the horrors constructed in the 60s and 70s, and it doesn't stop the construction of new bungalows as far into the scenic areas as permission can be persuaded. Where it occurs, it's a plain ban on new houses; those that are constructed in traditional forms as well as monstrosities. We just plain can't do hedgerows, as far as I can see.

I have been trying to think why this is, rather than merely decrying it, but I can't see any good reason. Unless it's "the British made us have orderly landscapes and now we don't have to no more, so there", which is a rather poor reason.
It has been twenty-six years and only
Now does my own mind begin to chide me
For the forgetfulness. It's not lonely -
It never has been. In books I bide me
As you showed me, and in new family
Chosen with care. I think you'd like them all.
I used to dream about you, absently
Comforted at your return, your morning call
Yet not so lost when waking, you still gone,
For it seemed as though I'd met you, some way
While I slept. Now another death holds on
To dreams, to waking hours, and treats you ill.
The season's the same, and the turning year
Brings back reminders I had long left still.
Though we forget, the memories stay near.
gothwalk: (memory)
( Sep. 16th, 2014 06:44 pm)
Those are the Sunchase Brothers.
The woman behind them is Wild Marge.
She's eighty-two, and looks it, but she claims
That she danced in temples when she was younger.
The elder brother is called Stone,
The younger Junior. They're twins, they say,
But Stone aged himself twenty years by accident.
Junior's forty, if he's a day.
Once, Wild Marge was hungover - she employs them
To taste the vodka she distils,
But that night she drank it herself -
And the brothers went into battle by themselves.
They were having fun at first,
But Stone got bored.
He leaped up on his brother's shoulders, and shouted,
"Run away! Or I shall take off my eye-patch!"
And he began to lift it with his thumb.
The enemy ran away. Stone chortled,
And went to find something to drink.
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