Monday, January 15, 2018

Musical Monday - Zombie by the Cranberries


Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I feel like I should have a Musical Monday that reflects that.

Delores O'Riordan died today. I feel like I should have a Musical Monday that reflects that.

Marin Luther King, Jr. was, along with his work as a civil rights and antipoverty activist, an antiwar activist who fought for justice and equality, so here is Delores singing a song that amounts to nothing less than a plea for peace.

Previous Musical Monday: The Lumberjack Song by Monty Python

The Cranberries     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book Blogger Hop January 12th - January 18th: "Room 237" Is a Documentary About the Meanings in Kubrick's Version of "The Shining"


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: What upcoming titles are you looking forward to reading in 2018?

In most years, I look forward to reading a collection of new publications from a variety of science fiction and fantasy authors, hoping to find an array of worthy works that I can nominate for the Hugo Award. I'm not doing that this year. To that end, I usually spend a fair amount of time paying attention to release schedules and publication dates. For a variety of reasons, I am stepping back from participation in the Hugos this year and am instead going to try to cut into the ridiculously large backlog of review copies that I have simply not gotten to yet.

That said, there are a handful of books that are due to be published this year that I am definitely going to try to get to:

Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley: I love Hurley's work - The Stars Are Legion was my favorite book of 2017 - and more about her morally compromised genetically engineered assassin living in a nightmarish post-apocalyptic world is definitely something that should be good to read.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire: Set in the same fictional universe as Every Heart a Doorway, this is more about the children who escape our world through portals into fantastical realms and then return, often to their sorrow. Given McGuire's history, I expect a beautiful story set in a world that is lush and inviting but turns out to be melancholy and haunting.

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander: Bolander has sharpened her craft over the last few years with some brilliant short fiction, but this is her debut novel. I am really looking forward to seeing what she can do in a longer format.

Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel: I am looking forward to this book based solely on the premise - the spinster Mary Bennet meets Victor Frankenstein and her encounter with him doesn't go smoothly. Then she meets up with the Creature and they share stories about how difficult Doctor Frankenstein is to deal with.

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee: The final book in the Machineries of Empire series that started brilliantly with Ninefox Gambit and continued with Raven Stratagem, this book looks to be a brilliant conclusion to a series that revels in the weirdness of its setting.

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente: Take the Eurovision song contest and set it in outer space. That's Space Opera. And it sounds like it will be incredible.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Challenge - Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018


Pretty much every year I try to find a science fiction and fantasy oriented reading challenge, because for the most part, I'm going to read a lot of science fiction and fantasy anyway. One of the challenges I am trying out this year is the Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018, which challenges participants to read science fiction and fantasy stories that fall into a particular set of categories. The list below shows all of the categories and will (eventually) list the books I have read and reviewed in the upcoming year that fall into each of them.

African
TBD

AI
TBD

Alien Invasion
TBD

Alternate Reality
TBD

Asian
TBD

Bite Me
TBD

Cyberpunk
TBD

Demonic
TBD

Dystopia
TBD

Epic
TBD

Fantastic Beasts
TBD

Haunted
TBD

Immortal
TBD

Independent
TBD

It's the End of the World as We Know It
TBD

Kings, Queens, and Long Lost Relatives
TBD

Plague
TBD

Portal
TBD

Rebellion
TBD

Re-Telling
TBD

Space
TBD

South American
TBD

This Is Totally Going to Happen One Day
TBD

Undead
TBD

Wibbly Wobbly Time Travel
TBD

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018
2018 Blogger Shame Challenge
2018 Review Writing Challenge
2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge
Beat the Backlist: A Reading Challenge
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018

2018 Challenges     Home

Friday, January 12, 2018

Challenge - 2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge


Because the bulk of my reading is in the science fiction and fantasy genres, every year I try to find a science fiction and fantasy oriented reading challenge. This year I am participating in the 2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge, a challenge aimed at reading twenty books containing a particular set of science fiction and fantasy themes. The hashtag #SwordsnStars is associated with this challenge. The list below shows all of the themes and will (eventually) list the books I have read and reviewed in the upcoming year that meet each theme.

A Book with Dragons in It
TBD

A Book Over 500 Pages
TBD

A Science Fiction or Fantasy Novella
TBD

A First Book in a Series
TBD

A Science Fiction Classic
TBD

A Fantasy Classic
TBD

A Book Whose Title Matches the First Letter of your Last Name
TBD

A Book That Has a Weapon on the Cover
TBD

A Book That Has a Spaceship on the Cover
TBD

A Book That Has Been Adapted
TBD

A Book with Time Travel in It
TBD

A Book That Has Been On Your To-Be-Read Shelf for Over 2 Years
TBD


A Book Whose Cover Has Stars in It or Whose Title Has Any Variation of the Word Star in It
TBD

A Book with Magical Realism in It
TBD

A Science Fiction or Fantasy Graphic Novel
TBD

A Sequel
TBD

A Diverse Science Fiction or Fantasy Book
TBD

A Random Science Fiction or Fantasy Book
TBD

A Fantasy Book Inspired by Another Story, Fairytale, Myth, or Something Similar
TBD

A Book with a Map
TBD

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018
2018 Blogger Shame Challenge
2018 Review Writing Challenge
Beat the Backlist: A Reading Challenge
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge
Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018

2018 Challenges     Home

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Challenge - New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge


In part because I am planning on making a concerted effort to read through the backlog of review copies that I have this year, I am also participating in New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge, a challenge aimed at reading new authors. A lot of my review copies are books written by authors that I have not read before, so this is a natural dovetail with this challenge.

New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge:
None Yet

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018
2018 Blogger Shame Challenge
2018 Review Writing Challenge
2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge
Beat the Backlist: A Reading Challenge
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018

2018 Challenges     Home

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Challenge - 2018 Blogger Shame Challenge


Another challenge I am participating this year is the 2018 Blogger Shame Challenge, a challenge aimed at getting people to clear out their backlog of review copies of books. I have far too many review copies of books that I simply have not yet gotten to reading and reviewing. I have let this slip for much longer than I should have, so I am going to make 2018 the year that I make a concerted effort to clear out this backlog and get caught up.

2018 Blogger Shame Challenge:
None Yet

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018
2018 Review Writing Challenge
2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge
Beat the Backlist: A Reading Challenge
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge
Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018

2018 Challenges     Home

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Challenge - Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018


This year I am participating in the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018, another challenge aimed at making inroads at the pile of unread books in the collections of the participants. I have a mountainous to-be-read pile, many of which have been in my collection for too many years without having been read. I hope to be able to make some progress in reducing the size of that mountain this year.

Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018:
None Yet

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018
2018 Blogger Shame Challenge
2018 Review Writing Challenge
2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge
Beat the Backlist: A Reading Challenge
New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge
Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018

2018 Challenges     Home

Monday, January 8, 2018

Musical Monday - The Lumberjack Song by Monty Python


This is a story about assumptions.

In the social circles I have been involved with for most of my life, Monty Python has been one of those baseline pieces of culture that everyone simply knows. Among role-playing gamers, Monty Python references are so ubiquitous that many groups have established a house rule to ban them lest gaming sessions get completely derailed. One only had to make the briefest reference to a Monty Python skit or song and everyone around would know exactly what you were talking about. It felt like familiarity with Monty Python was essentially ubiquitous.

So the other day when I was riffing on the Lumberjack Song while playing a game (it made sense in context, but it would take too long to explain how), I discovered that the Redhead had no idea what it was. She thought I was just making something goofy up on the fly. The realization that she was completely unfamiliar with something I just took for granted was somewhat disconcerting.

The salient point here is that even those things that you think are universally known probably are not. I recall seeing Robert Sawyer speak when the new Battlestar Galactica was on the air. He pointed out that even though everyone in the room had probably seen the show, based on its ratings, if you went out on the street and asked passers-by about it, only one out of every couple hundred people or so would have seen it. Or I think about the time I made a reference to Jim Henson and one of my younger coworkers had no idea who he was. The things you know are not the things everyone knows, even the things you think are so commonly known that everyone knows them.

Previous Musical Monday: Talking with My Father by Dougie MacLean
Subsequent Musical Monday: Zombie by the Cranberries

Monty Python     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Challenge - Beat the Backlist: A Reading Challenge


As I did last year, I am participating in Beat the Backlist: A Reading Challenge, a challenge aimed at making inroads at the pile of unread books in the collections of the participants. I still have a mountainous to-be-read pile, many of which have been in my collection for too many years without having been read. I hope to be able to make some progress in reducing the size of that mountain some more this year.

Beat the Backlist Challenge:
None Yet

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018
2018 Blogger Shame Challenge
2018 Review Writing Challenge
2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge
Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018

2018 Challenges     Home

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Book Blogger Hop January 5th - January 11th: Scipio Africanus Is Believed to Have Been Born in 236 B.C.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: What are your five most favorite books in 2017?


I didn't read very many books that were actually published in 2017, so I am going to interpret this question to be asking what my favorites were from the books I that I read in 2017. This means that most of these choices were actually published before 2017 - I just didn't get to read them until then. In alphabetical order, the books I liked the most that I read last year were:

The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde
Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios
The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley
The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories by Tom Doyle

I read a lot of other good books - in fact, most of the books I read last year were at least good, but those were my five favorites from the year.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, January 5, 2018

Challenge - 2018 Review Writing Challenge


Although it is not technically a reading challenge, I am treating the 2018 Review Writing Challenge as if it were one. As I have in previous years, I am aiming to try to read and review 100 books this year. I haven't hit that mark for the past couple of years, but I am hoping to turn that around this year and reach that goal.

2018 Review Writing Challenge:
None Yet

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018
2018 Blogger Shame Challenge
2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge
Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge
Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018

2018 Challenges     Home

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Challenge - 11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018


In 2018 I am going to once again take on the graphic novels challenge hosted by the 11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018 Facebook group. I don't have a firm plan, although I will definitely be following up on all of the graphic novels I read in 2017 and trying to read more Bitch Planet, Captain Marvel, Lumberjanes, Monstress, Ms. Marvel, Saga, and Sex Criminals. I still have several volumes of Girl Genius, and the entire run of Order of the Stick to get to as well. If I get ambitious, I'll get a start on reviewing my Asterix collection and some of the Batman compilations I have. This may be the year that I finally get to reviewing my collection of For Better or for Worse.

The 11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018:
None Yet

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
2018 Blogger Shame Challenge
2018 Review Writing Challenge
2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge
Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge
Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018

2018 Challenges     Home

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Challenge - The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018


Once again, I am participating in multiple reading challenges this year. They all appear to be good challenges, but while I can use them to provide an annual catalog of the books I read and reviewed in the year, they are not quite comprehensive enough for my needs. In addition to reviewing books I also review magazine issues, movies, television episodes, and albums, and in order to capture all of these reviews as well as my book reviews I've created this tracking page, which I will use to provide links to my reviews as I post them. This isn't really a "challenge", but I'm listing it with my challenge pages anyway, just because I did this way in each of the last two years, and it is now a hoary old established tradition.

The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2018:
None Yet

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
11th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018
2018 Blogger Shame Challenge
2018 Review Writing Challenge
2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge
Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
New Authors: A 2018 Reading Challenge
Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo 2018

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

2018 Challenges     Home

Monday, January 1, 2018

Musical Monday - Talking with My Father by Dougie MacLean


It is a New Year. These sorts of markers serve to remind us that time is passing, and that our time is finite. When people make New Year's resolutions, they are really saying how they would like to spend their time, or how they want other people to think they would like to spend their time.

I think I'd like to spend more time in this next year talking to my son. And, to the extent possible, talking to my father, although he lives a lot farther away. Also the Redhead and the Littlest Starship Captain. Ideally, I'd like to spend more time with the Czarina, but that's dependent upon her behaving a little less like a Czarina before she heads off to college in the autumn.

Previous Musical Monday: Christmas Eve/Sarajevo by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Lumberjack Song by Monty Python

Dougie MacLean     Musical Monday     Home