August 2014


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Monday, September 15th, 2014 11:31 am
Slavery shaped Benjamin January’s life; he and his sister Olympe were born slaves, before his mother was purchased as a mistress. It’s been a prominent part of the background of previous books. But it takes center stage here, when the man Ben least wants to meet again— Fourchet, his cruel previous owner— offers to hire him to go undercover as a slave on his plantation, to investigate a murder and possible brewing slave rebellion.

It’s the last thing Ben wants to do. But he needs the money. More importantly, if he doesn’t do it, the slaves may well end up suffering even more. (A major theme of the book is that even people who are living in horrible conditions often still have a lot left to lose, and desperately cling to what little they have.) And so Ben ends up back on the plantation, thirty years after he left. Though his act of (largely) altruism is intended to make sure the status quo doesn’t get even worse rather than to literally rescue anyone, it reminded me of Harriet Tubman returning to the scene of her worst nightmares to take others to freedom.

Hambly doesn’t stint on the physical horror of slavery, but focuses more on the psychological aspects— families ripped apart, human beings treated as non-human, and the pervasive terror coming from the knowledge that one’s master can do absolutely anything to you or your loved ones at any time. It’s also one of the best depictions I’ve come across of how people work to keep their humanity, maintain loving relationships, and find moments of happiness and humor in the absolute worst imaginable circumstances.

While I hesitated to recommend Fever Season, I would definitely recommend this if you can cope with the setting. The overall mood is way less depressing, because the story is more action-based, Ben has more inner strength and hope, and there’s more emphasis on relationships. Not to mention a way more uplifting ending. And a fair amount of secret banter between Ben and Hannibal, who is impersonating his owner. The action climax is a bit incongruous given the relentless realism of the plantation life that makes up most of the book, but as an action climax, it’s spectacular. Abishag Shaw has a smallish but absolutely wonderful part in this; sadly, Rose is barely in it. Hopefully she’ll be more prominent in the next book.

This is a very dark book (due to inherent qualities of the subject matter, not due to cement truck plot twists), but also one where the bright spots shine very brightly by contrast. It has the most moving and happiest ending of any of the books so far. Where many novels are fantasies of empowerment, in some ways this is a fantasy of justice. It’s explicitly stated to be limited to the characters we meet (and not all of them), not to mention being fictional. But it’s satisfying nonetheless. In real life, some slaves did escape, and some masters did meet well-deserved bitter ends. That was the exception rather than the rule, of course. But sometimes it’s nice to read about the exceptions. When you’re dealing with devastating injustice, both now and then, you need hope as well as rage.

Sold Down the River (Benjamin January, Book 4)
Monday, September 15th, 2014 09:06 am
The Poison Makes the Dose (read on AO3)
Sam/Dean, NC-17
Summary: Post-S9, even if Dean wants to be saved, it’s not going to be that easy. Because I am indulging myself, there are alternate endings, choose-your-own-adventure style. Thanks to [personal profile] giandujakiss and [ profile] shoofus  for beta.
References to past non-con.

part 1 )
Monday, September 15th, 2014 08:57 am
Theme week begins now. Please post poems relating to the theme of music this week. Please tag them with the words theme:music.
Monday, September 15th, 2014 12:13 am
This story belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Hairpins," "Blended," "Am I Not," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys,""Saudades," "Querencia," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," "Happy Hour," "Green Eggs and Hulk,""kintsukuroi," and "Little and Broken, but Still Good."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Natasha Romanova, Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Betty Ross, Bucky Barnes.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Mention of human trafficking and nonconsensual drug use. Slightly offstage sexual violence. Dubcon/Noncon.
Summary: Sometimes the Black Widow needs to hunt, and sometimes she needs help settling her personality afterwards. Uncle Phil arranges an extra ageplay session.
Notes: Hurt/comfort. Family. Fluff and angst. BAMF!Black Widow. Black Widow is creepy. Spiders. Coping skills. Asking for help and getting it. Hope. Nonsexual ageplay. Caregiving. Competence. Girl stuff. Toys and games. Gentleness. Trust. #coulsonlives

Begin with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Read more... )
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 06:09 pm
 [personal profile] bookblather has written a poem based on my prompt, about good and evil.
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 09:03 pm
Hello flaneurs! My daughter and I headed down to London this weekend for the last hurrah of the book benches (all will be removed by Monday the 15th). A report on our third expedition to the Bloomsbury trail, guest-starring my nephew, is here.

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 02:25 pm
LJ user Lb_lee has written the story "Return to Sender; Addressee Deceased" for my prompt about nightmares within a multiple system.  They're superheroes, and sometimes that can be nerve-wracking.  It's creepy and sweet at the same time.  Special thanks to AnonSwede for sponsoring this!
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 10:42 am
Welp, I took a break and read/listened to some really good advice about structuring and pacing things, and realized that tackling the first story changed things so much that the impact would filter down. So, rather than continue on with the 3rd story, I'm going back to the beginning and doing a major revision on the 1st story.

First chapter, y'all, hot off the keyboard.

The lion-dogs were playing in the clearing when Kini arrived at the shrine. The two rock-gray puppies tumbled through the drifts of early autumn leaves, more intent on chasing a red-winged flit than paying Kini any mind. Their thick curly manes were tangled with sticks and bits of leaves, and their pink tongues lolled. They weren’t much higher than her knees, about the size of small stone guardians.

That seemed fitting. It was a rather small shrine, after all.

Well, then. Her sister had said if the dogs were around, then the huokei would be, too. Kini shuffled through the rain-damp leaves, kicking them aside to find the stepping stones that marked the proper path. The shrine itself wasn't much bigger than the moss-eaten idol it housed, and it listed precariously to one side. Its roof-shingles were green from weeds taken root, and the carved doors hung askew on their rotting wooden hinges.

Behind and to one side lay the monk-house, now a jumble of rotting wood and broken roof-tiles. In the clearing's other corner stood the mountain-god’s home, a fancy term for little more than a hut on stilts. In Sizija, it was a mansion in its own right, three rooms only ever seen by the mountain-god and its attendants. Here, it was one room, maybe not even big enough for one person to sleep. No wonder the mountain-god had been so happy to move to the big shrine.

Huokei were shy, preferred solitude, and would play nasty tricks if they felt disrespected, but this huokei had been injured. The big shrine at Sizija would've given it proper hospitality, but that was two miles away. The two rooms in their house were already crammed with five children and three adults, so that wasn't an option, either. The only choice left was this forgotten shrine-yard, with the benefit that it was closer to where Sozu found the huokei. To Kini's mind, though, the shrine's solitude lay solely in being abandoned. She wasn't sure it qualified as being respectful to offer what no one else wanted.

Kini sighed. Now she was stuck delivering the offerings. )

Saturday, September 13th, 2014 01:37 am
Here's a cool article about the Amish adoption of technology. They all follow one basic rule: if a new thing is more trouble than it's worth, they won't use it.  Different Amish communities draw that line in different places.  

I actually use that rule myself, again with a different threshold.  I've had people call me Amish, meaning it as an insult, for not using things they think I should be using that I don't use because they're worthless or troublesome for me.  I say, "No, but that is where I got the idea."  It's a great rule.  It saves so many headaches.  I'm neophilic in many ways.  But I've seen society make a lot of stupid mistakes, and its safety precautions are abysmal.  This contributes to my caution about adopting new things myself.  I look for the drawbacks.

Most people don't.  Their default is to accept new technology.  They often don't consider the costs.
Friday, September 12th, 2014 06:38 pm
So I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy in a Friday afternoon matinee. It was a very fun and very very pretty movie and the plot even mostly made sense, which is a sadly high standard to hold action movies to these days, but sadly I can no longer watch a movie without noticing all the times it takes the lazy way out and could have done better. (Note : never read "Save The Cat" if you want to be able to enjoy an action movie ever again.) Anybody still interested in talking about that movie? v. minor spoilers )
Friday, September 12th, 2014 03:02 pm
 [personal profile] clare_dragonfly has posted the story "Fealty" in the Ursulan Cycle, introducing Morgan Tud to the court of Queen Ursula.  It's beautifully told in four perspectives.
Friday, September 12th, 2014 01:50 pm
 [personal profile] haikujaguar has a new coloring book featuring men of fantasy who aren't in warrior poses.  Fathers, pet owners, scholars, and more!
Friday, September 12th, 2014 01:29 pm
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband for a year. We dated for four years before the wedding, and we have a son together. The child and I have never met any of my husband's immediate family. I have never spoken to any of them over the phone, either.

He has met all of my family members. I have asked repeatedly to meet his, and he tells me he's planning a family trip to visit. He seemed annoyed when I brought it up. What should I do? -- LEFT OUT IN FLORIDA

DEAR LEFT OUT: That you have had no contact with these people in the five years you've been in the picture is, frankly, beyond strange. It appears there may be some things your husband hasn't told you. He may be ashamed of his family, on the outs with them, or they were never told about his involvement with you and/or the existence of their grandchild.

Because you have now been a member of their family for a year, pick up the phone, call your in-laws and introduce yourself.