like the moron that i am, as soon as i saw ellen gail's review of this pop up on my feed, i roared WHAT IS THIS??, immediately clicked the link and relike the moron that i am, as soon as i saw ellen gail's review of this pop up on my feed, i roared WHAT IS THIS??, immediately clicked the link and reflexively scrolled down to see if i had time to read it before i was needed elsewhere, and these damnable fast-reading eyes zoomed right to the last line of the story, ruining the surprise for me.
so i probably would have found this creepier if i hadn't been such a moron.
don't be a moron.
don't scroll down.
it's wicked short, you have time to read it, that's all you need to know.
having been gleefully freeloading off the free tor shorts for years now, i absolutely want to support tor in their "buy some novellas, cheapskate"* enhaving been gleefully freeloading off the free tor shorts for years now, i absolutely want to support tor in their "buy some novellas, cheapskate"* endeavor, especially since the first one i read - Every Heart a Doorway - was one of the best things i have ever read ever. but even though Binti won/was nominated for a billion awards, it was only medium-enjoyable for me.
i'd read Lagoon by this author, with the same general reaction (even though I KNOW everyone tells me Who Fears Death is incredible, and i believe them and i will read that one, because every author gets three chances with me)
this is the first book in what i expect will be a trilogy, and it's only 90 pages, so it's hard to be hypercritical of it, although just now reading the synopsis for part 2, it takes place a year later, so i guess this part of it is over and i can be as critical as with any other book.
so - first, the good things: i really like the character. 16-year-old binti comes from the isolated himba region whose desert community holds fast to its customs and where the emphasis is on family, science, and a connection to the land so deep that no one ever leaves their homeland. however, binti, despite the privileges of her family, cannot refuse the unprecedented opportunity to study at the oozma university, which offer has never before been granted to a himba.
I was sixteen years old and had never been beyond my city, let alone near a launch station. I was by myself and I had just left my family. My prospects of marriage had been 100 percent and now they would be zero. No man wanted a woman who'd run away. However, beyond my prospects of a normal life being ruined, I had scored so high on the planetary exams in mathematics that the Oozma University had not only admitted me, but promised to pay for whatever I needed in order to attend. No matter what choice I made, I was never going to have a normal life, really.
on her journey towards the terminal, bindi feels her outsider status acutely. because her people never leave their land; because they are so insular, other people assign characteristics to them through lack of contact/experience: they are assumed to be backwards, primitive, and filthy, in part because of the himba custom of smearing their bodies and hair with a fragrant paste made from the clay of their land, as well as their darker skin and fuzzy hair.
once binti makes it to the ship (which is actually a living creature "closely related to a shrimp"), surrounded by other prospective students, she has an easier time acclimating, and even makes friends and develops a crush on a boy.
and then the meduse arrive, and everything goes sideways. for the characters and this reader both.
again, binti is a remarkable character - she's plucky, brave, resourceful, and supersmart but she's not unrealistically heroic and capable - she's never experienced life beyond her home and family, and her discomfort and awkwardness are appropriate for someone with her background.
i also appreciated the attention to detail given to the customs of her people, and her memories of her life among them.
but from the meduse part on, there seemed to be a motivation to reach a desired ending without respecting the consequences of certain actions, which brad addresses admirably in his review, to which i can add nothing more because it speaks to every single "but wait" objection i had while reading this and i don't wanna be a plagiarist.
like him, i appreciate the message, but the delivery of the message was a bit trite and slapdash.
however, i like the character enough (and i owe tor enough), that i will likely read the second part of this. this novella is completely appropriate for a YA audience, and i think it would be better received by younger readers, who tend to read more for plot and enjoyment than old folks like me who suck all the joy out of books with too-nitpicky dissections resulting from too much academic training in joy-sucking.
i still love you, tor, and i will continue to love you both for free and for ca$h.
The bald man stopped laughing, kept smiling. But this was a smile Thomas recognized. Every Russian he’d ever met had a version of it. “New Russia. Old
The bald man stopped laughing, kept smiling. But this was a smile Thomas recognized. Every Russian he’d ever met had a version of it. “New Russia. Old Russia. The price is the same for both. I’m sorry. I hope you find your friends.”
if there's one truism in this world, it's that not all uniporn is created equal, and frankly - this one is unambitious and disappointing, especially c
if there's one truism in this world, it's that not all uniporn is created equal, and frankly - this one is unambitious and disappointing, especially cumming as it does from the fertile brain of chuck tingle, king of all monsterporn.
this is one of his earliest stories, so i can write it off as a necessary learning curve, before he really let loose with the weirdness and let his freak flag fly, but man, is it ever boring.
there are a million typos, and not the fun kind, and there's this belabored attempt at coherent storytelling that i find a turnoff in my tingles.
it's not without its charms - the unicorn biker is named kirk, for instance, which is pretty adorable, and there's some reasonably cute banter:
“You’re pretty cool, you know that?” I say to the unicorn.
Kirk cracks a smile and nods to himself. “I suppose I’m alright."
and then they cut to the chase:
“You ever fucked a unicorn?” Kirk asks me suddenly.
I can immediately sense a change in his tone, a new direction in his unicorn mannerisms all the way down to the way the he turns his large beastly head to speak to me.
“No, I can’t say that I have.” I explain. “You’re the first one I’ve met.”
Kirk nods. “Yep, there’s not a lot of us out there, not a lot of gay one’s either.”
“I didn’t even realize you existed.” I confess.
Kirk scoffs. “Come on now, that’s just rude."
but the sexual acts themselves are pretty vanilla, considering that it is taking place between a man and a majestic unicorn, whose horn does not come into play even once. i mean, why bother writing uniporn if you're not gonna utilize the thing that makes it special and magical? just write horseporn and call it a day.
the only other charming thing in this story is this scene that occurs when mario takes kirk to his brother's wedding in vegas:
I watch from afar as my father hoots and hollers, riding my new boyfriend around the banquet hall as the rest of the wedding party looks on in amazement.
other than that, this story is kind of a bust, and does not even come close to the genius of tingle's later achievements in smut. if you're looking for uniporn, try this one instead.
“Miss?” one of them asks. She swings around, thinking they want more coffee. One refill only is the rule. “Can you settle a question?” he asks. “Did R“Miss?” one of them asks. She swings around, thinking they want more coffee. One refill only is the rule. “Can you settle a question?” he asks. “Did Roosevelt want to get us to join in the European War in 1940?”
“How should I know? It has nothing to do with me. I was five years old in 1940.” They should get over it and leave history to bury its own dead, she thinks, and goes back to wiping the tables.
sometimes i have to restrain myself from just greedily pouncing on the brand-new tor shorts and remind myself of all the olde ones that are out there just waiting to be rediscovered. this one is from 2009 and shows that even back then, tor knew what they were doing in their acquisition process.
i've never read jo walton, but i know she's beloved by many, and this story renews my vow to read the books of hers i already have here at the home. you know, someday…
it's pretty short, since a lot of the backdrop to the action is provided by truncated newspaper headlines that give a sense of what's going on in the larger world without having to actually commit to spelling everything out:
NATIONAL GUARD MOVES AGAINST STRIKERS In the seventh week of the mining strike in West Virginia, armed skirmishes and running “guerrilla battles” in the hills have led to the Governor calling in
GET AN ADVANCED DEGREE BY CORRESPONDENCE You can reap the benefits with no need to leave the safety of your house or go among unruly college students! Only from
EX-PRESIDENT LINDBERGH REPROACHES MINERS
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION April issue on newsstands now! All new stories by Poul Anderson, Anson MacDonald and H. Beam Piper! Only 35 cents.
SPRING FASHIONS 1960 Skirts are being worn long in London and Paris this season, but here in New York the working girls are still hitching them up. It’s stylish to wear a little
HOW FAR FROM MIAMI CAN THE “FALLOUT” REACH? Scientists say it could be a problem for years, but so much depends on the weather that
You hope to work You hope to eat The work goes to The man that’s neat! BurmaShave
it's an alt-history story apparently tied to some of her earlier work:
Her Small Change trilogy, comprising Farthing, Ha'penny, and Half a Crown, is set in a world in which Britain struck an early truce with Hitler in 1941; "Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction" is set in the America of that world.
but i am living proof that you don't need to have read those books to get enjoyment out of this story. i'm sure it's more powerful to people who have read the other books, but for me it was a strong tone piece that was less of an actual story than an atmosphere suggesting a story, where a chorus of voices fleshes out l'esprit de l'époque, and where l'époque is a terribly bleak poverty-riddled postwar world full of desperate and unhappy people. even though it's alt-history, there are intimations that there's no escaping the inevitability of the darker events of history, no matter how you tweak its details.
this is an amazing cookbook comprised of many recipe-portmanteaux, where two excellent things are made even more excellent by smooshing them togetherthis is an amazing cookbook comprised of many recipe-portmanteaux, where two excellent things are made even more excellent by smooshing them together like edible wuzzles.
also, and v. importantly - this book provides a photo of every single recipe, which is a big deal for people like me, who eat with their eyes, and sometimes have difficulty visualizing the end results of recipes from the ingredients and directions. for example - sugar cookie dough cups. glancing at the recipe, i'm thinking "meh" until i see the visual
and then i'm like OH YEAH I WILL MAKE YOU FOR TUMMY!!
so far, i have only used this book to make greg's birthday "cake," lemon bar cheesecake:
and i am living proof that you don't actually NEED a springform pan to make this.
later, i will post some of the other things i really want to make from this book, but i wanted to say happy birthday to greg again, so there. HBG!
as promised! here is the complete recipe list, with photos of the ones i plan to make in the future.