Currently Reading: Classic Opera

The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, An Opera in Three Acts

by Philip Glass and Doris Lessing

Act I, Scene 2

Doeg, you have been with me on other planets.
Life is different on them all.
You know what winter is.
You know how life can freeze.
You know how worlds can turn from green to white.

DSCN0904

Self took this picture while riding Caltrain to San Francisco: 20 February 2017

Her 2019 Reading Year

Top reading year, this is turning out to be.

Her Favorites, by Month:

  • February: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry and November Road by Lou Berney.
  • March: Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few.
  • April: Milkman by Anna Burns; Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday; and Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush.
  • May: Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges by Antony Beevor and Northanger Abbey.
  • June: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Three

Self picking her favorite reads so far, 2019. All three happen to be novels. They’re arranged according to the month she read them.

  • November Road, by Louis Berney – read February

The Setting: America post-John F. Kennedy Assassination

  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers – read March

Science Fiction

The Setting: Earth and Outer Space (The Future, of course)

  • Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday – read April

The Setting: America post 9/11 to the time of the First Gulf War

2019 Hugo Awards Finalists, Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Annihilation, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Black Panther
  • A Quiet Place
  • Sorry To Bother You
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

sorrytobotheryou20180407_BKP503

FOUR

Looking back, self’s February was LIT.

LIT.

She read two of her four Best So Far 2019 in February.

Currently, she’s reading Milkman and she loves it. It is so fraught.

April, BE LIT.

Stay tuned.

Sawyer: Record of a Spaceborn Few, p. 175

Self loves Becky Chambers’ world-building. She first picked up on Chambers’s absolutely on-point world-building skills in the Sawyer sections (This novel uses one of those mutliple point-of-view structures, which normally self finds extremely annoying, but here actually likes). As a result, Sawyer quickly became one of self’s favorite characters.

In a recent chapter, he met the crew of a salvage ship. His observations about the crew, especially one with a “flip-eye”, and the way he’s asked to “break code” is completely beguiling. She almost quoted it in a blog post yesterday, but had to complete her week’s assignment for a memoir class she’s taking from UCLA Extension (a comp; after all these years of teaching, she’s entitled to at least a dozen of these!), so decided to forego the pleasure.

This morning, she happily begins to read a new Sawyer section (p. 175). Once again, the inventiveness of Chambers comes through!

A few pages earlier, Sawyer met Eyas, self’s second-favorite character.

Sent message

Encryption: 0

Translation: 0

From: Sawyer (path: 7466-314-23)

To: Eyas (path: 6635-448-80)

Hi Eyas,

I hope you don’t mind my sending you a note. I found your scrib path in the ship’s directory (you’re the only one with your name!). Anyway, I wanted to thank you again for your advice the other day. I’d just signed up for sanitation work when I met somebody outside the job office looking to hire workers for a salvage project. It’s just a gig right now, but it might be more. Plus, the crew’s been the only group of people other than yourself to offer to show me the ropes. They seem like fun folks. So I’m on board with them now, but don’t worry! My name’s still in the sanitation lottery. I took what you said seriously, and I’ll help out when I’m needed. Thanks for steering me in the right direction.

Sawyer

Oh, Sawyer. He’s good at reading code, but doesn’t bother encrypting his message to Eyas? What a neophyte! The message has self thinking: Danger! Danger! He is entirely too trusting of his new crewmates.

And now that Sawyer’s sent the message, he sits on his bed thinking: I should have bought new clothes.

lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

This Is How An Alien Drinks Hot Liquid: Record of a Spaceborn Few, p. 59

Lacking lips, Ghuh’loloan held the Human-style mug up, flattened her face back into her body so that it lay almost horizontally, and poured a little waterfall into her wide mouth. Her whole body shivered. ‘Ho! Oh ho!’

So, here’s a question: Why do aliens need gender? Is this something essential to reproduction? Self would have thought, being such a superior life force, aliens would have found a more efficient way to reproduce.

She honestly didn’t think about this until she noticed the pronouns in the passage above: Her.

Stay tuned.

Record of a Spaceborn Few, pp. 38 – 40

Self is enjoying this book. She didn’t think she would, because of the alternating viewpoints.  But she already likes one character a lot: Sawyer.

She loves Becky Chambers’s world-building. It is multi-layered and also precise.

For instance, there’s some kind of class system (with Humans somewhat farther down on the scale than they are right now, lol). Self knows this because Sawyer bags a transport to The Fleet. There, he immediately encounters “a branching sign that read Cargo Bays on the right and Central Plaza on the left, all the scales and claws went right.”

Sawyer is “a grounder.” He’s never been to the Fleet before. As a grounder, he’s used to mingling with ‘species.’

But suddenly he’s in a place where there are mostly humans. They speak a language called Ensk. Sawyer isn’t used to speaking Ensk: “His face said Human. His vowels said Harmagian.”

He looks for a place to eat and stops at Jojo’s (What a mundane name for a restaurant of the future!) and asks a woman behind the counter for a menu: “Exoskeletons crunched between her hands.” The woman tells Sawyer, “We’re out of red coaster stew.” So Sawyer says, “I’ll have twice-round pickle.”

Already self’s insides are roiling, imagining what goes into this dish. Sawyer’s insides are roiling as well, since he can’t see what the preparer is doing: “Something was chopped, something was ladled, a few bottles were shaken.”

Too funny.

Self would like to thank The Guardian for recommending Record of a Spaceborn Few. And for recommending The Essex Serpent and November Road.

Stay tuned.

We Meet Aliens: Record of a Spaceborn Few, p. 16

A hatch yawned open. How, Kip couldn’t say, because there weren’t any edges on the outer hull to suggest doors or seams. The crowd broke into a cheer as three Aeluons stepped out. Kip had really wanted to see them up close, but even at a distance, they made his heart race. Bare silver heads he knew were covered in tiny scales. Patches on their cheeks that swirled with color.

abstract architecture background buildings

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Now Reading RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW: Isabel (pp. 8 – 9)

The rest of the Exodus Fleet was out there, thirty homestead ships besides her own, orbiting together in a loose, measured cluster. All was as it should be . . . except one, tangled in a violent shroud of debris. She could see where the pieces belonged — a jagged breach, a hollow where homes and walls had been. She could see sheet metal, crossbeams, odd specks scattered between. She could tell, even from this distance, that many of those specks were not made of metal or plex. They were too curved, too irregular, and they changed shape as they tumbled. They were Human. They were bodies.

photography of stars and galaxy

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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