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Posted by Tor.com

Nebula Awards logo

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2018 Nebula Awards, including the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, and for the first time, the Nebula Award for Game Writing.

The winners will be announced at SFWA’s 54th annual Nebula Conference in Los Angeles, CA, which takes place from Thursday, May 16th through Sunday, May 19th at the Marriott Warner Center in Woodland Hills, CA.

The finalists are as follows:


  • The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)
  • Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller (Ecco; Orbit UK)
  • Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)
  • Witchmark, C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)


  • Fire Ant, Jonathan P. Brazee (Semper Fi)
  • The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean)
  • Alice Payne Arrives, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)


  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections, Tina Connolly (Tor.com 7/11/18)
  • “An Agent of Utopia”, Andy Duncan (An Agent of Utopia)
  • “The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births”, José Pablo Iriarte (Lightspeed 1/18)
  • “The Rule of Three”, Lawrence M. Schoen (Future Science Fiction Digest 12/18)
  • “Messenger”, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and R.R. Virdi (Expanding Universe, Volume 4)

Short Story

  • “Interview for the End of the World”, Rhett C. Bruno (Bridge Across the Stars)
  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)
  • “Going Dark”, Richard Fox (Backblast Area Clear)
  • “And Yet”, A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 3-4/18)
  • “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”, Alix E. Harrow (Apex 2/6/18)
  • “The Court Magician”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed 1/18)

Game Writing

  • Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Charlie Brooker (House of Tomorrow & Netflix)
  • The Road to Canterbury, Kate Heartfield (Choice of Games)
  • God of War, Matt Sophos, Richard Zangrande Gaubert, Cory Barlog, Orion Walker, and Adam Dolin (Santa Monica Studio/Sony/Interactive Entertainment)
  • Rent-A-Vice, Natalia Theodoridou (Choice of Games)
  • The Martian Job, M. Darusha Wehm (Choice of Games)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy” (Written by Megan Amram)
  • Black Panther (Written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole)
  • A Quiet Place (Screenplay by John Krasinski, Bryan Woods, and Scott Beck)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman)
  • Dirty Computer (Written by Janelle Monáe and Chuck Lightning)
  • Sorry to Bother You (Written by Boots Riley)

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

  • Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt; Macmillan)
  • Aru Shah and the End of Time, Roshani Chokshi (Rick Riordan Presents)
  • A Light in the Dark, A.K. DuBoff (BDL)
  • Tess of the Road, Rachel Hartman (Random House)
  • Dread Nation, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)
  • Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword, Henry Lien (Henry Holt)

More story help

Feb. 20th, 2019 05:21 pm
notasupervillain: Cat at computer (Default)
[personal profile] notasupervillain
So, a story-writing question.

Let's say you were staffing an Evil Computer Science Department at a University, which secretly supplies products for an Evil Precognition Company that sells insurance they know you don't need at startlingly affordable rates. They claim it's all "AI" and "deep learning" bullshit, but no, it's precognition.

What research areas do you want to fill?

You'll need some modellers, maybe one health and mortality, one climate, one population dynamics. And a real AI person to work on the cover story - maybe a few of those, honestly. Studying memory? Studying AI theory? And you'll want some old fashioned engineering types to turn your models into devices that output predictions, but I haven't got a clue what those people would be called. Hardware something? 

Who am I missing?

I have to also do character creation for all their grad students and technicians and the department's admin staff, so I'd like to keep the academic staff to a minimum. But I need to fill out enough of the department to cover all the Evil that needs to be accomplished.

Bonus points for suggestions of Evil Prof characteristics.

Nebula Award Nominee!!

Feb. 20th, 2019 11:28 am
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
[personal profile] marthawells
The Murderbot Diaries: Artificial Condition is a Nebula Award nominee for Best Novella!! Congrats to all the other nominees!!!



The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)
Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller (Ecco; Orbit UK)
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)
Witchmark by C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing)
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)


Fire Ant by Jonathan P. Brazee (Semper Fi)
The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean)
Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing)
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)


The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections by Tina Connolly (Tor.com 7/11/18)
An Agent of Utopia by Andy Duncan (An Agent of Utopia)
The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births by José Pablo Iriarte (Lightspeed 1/18)
The Rule of Three by Lawrence M. Schoen (Future Science Fiction Digest 12/18)
Messenger by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and R.R. Virdi (Expanding Universe, Volume 4)

Short Story

Interview for the End of the World by Rhett C. Bruno (Bridge Across the Stars)
The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington by Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)
Going Dark by Richard Fox (Backblast Area Clear)
And Yet by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 3-4/18)
A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow (Apex 2/6/18)
The Court Magician by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed 1/18)

Game Writing

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch by Charlie Brooker (House of Tomorrow & Netflix)
The Road to Canterbury by Kate Heartfield (Choice of Games)
God of War by Matt Sophos, Richard Zangrande Gaubert, Cory Barlog, Orion Walker, and Adam Dolin (Santa Monica Studio/Sony/Interactive Entertainment)
Rent-A-Vice by Natalia Theodoridou (Choice of Games)
The Martian Job by M. Darusha Wehm (Choice of Games)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy,” written by Megan Amram
Black Panther, written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole
A Quiet Place, screenplay by John Krasinski, Bryan Woods, and Scott Beck
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
Dirty Computer, written by Janelle Monáe and Chuck Lightning
Sorry to Bother You, written by Boots Riley

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt; Macmillan)
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (Rick Riordan Presents)
A Light in the Dark by A.K. DuBoff (BDL)
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Random House)
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)
Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien (Henry Holt)

[personal profile] brujah surveys the barren wasteland

Feb. 20th, 2019 12:19 pm
slipjig3: (Default)
[personal profile] slipjig3 posting in [community profile] metaquotes
To husband, who's away on a business trip:

We burned our bras today. Not because we needed to, but because they are stabby and we hate them. We've taken up the carpets and made armour out of the lot. Topsy constructed a sword out of your CD collection and had Thuban the Divine bless the blade. Topsy defends us, valiantly, from plunderers seeking to steal our shower turnips. Her warcry is, "FLOWERS ARE STUPID, BUGS SIT UPON THEM AND POO!" She's grown horns.

QWP from locked post. Context regrettably had to make its own coffee this morning.

Stuff I Love meme - Day 20

Feb. 20th, 2019 05:14 pm
arnie1967: (FlutterbyLove)
[personal profile] arnie1967
Day 20: Butterflies.

It's weird really. Wihout wings, they'd be creepy crawly insects. Put fairy wings on them, and they're graceful, lovely flutterbies who dance in the summer breeze.

The Magicians 4x01 - 4x04

Feb. 20th, 2019 08:28 am
killabeez: (Penny Magicians)
[personal profile] killabeez
I finally caught up last night, and I'm enjoying a lot of it, but is it just me, or... )

365 day meme - month 2, day 20

Feb. 20th, 2019 05:13 pm
arnie1967: (Default)
[personal profile] arnie1967
20 What type of toothpaste do you use?

Kingfisher toothpick in mint. It's cruelty free.
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Posted by Alex Brown

On the eve of one of the country’s most important votes in years, a spirit takes over a tram car. Agent Hamed Nasr has been at the ministry for a long time, too long perhaps. He’s seen just about everything. Joining him is a fresh recruit, Agent Onsi Youssef, an eager, learned young man. What starts off as a standard exorcism explodes into the unimaginable. This is no ordinary haunting, and to solve the case Hamed and Onsi will have to make some unexpected alliances in the city’s underbelly.

For years now, P. Djèlí Clark has quietly been cranking out short fiction that is as fantastical as it is attuned to social justice. Through captivating characters unlike any we’ve ever seen before and sumptuous worldbuilding that twists the familiar into something exciting and new, Clark works his own magic. Back in 2016, Tor.com published his novelette “A Dead Djinn in Cairo,” a supernatural murder mystery set in an alternate Cairo. With The Haunting of Tram Car 015, Clark expands on his “Dead Djinn” world here with masterful effect. Agent Fatma el-Sha’arawi and Siti from “Dead Djinn” both make appearances in here, but the main protagonists here are Hamed and Onsi.

The early twentieth century Cairo of Haunting isn’t the Cairo you’re familiar with. In this alternate steampunk-ish 1912, djinn and angels and necromancers and mystics share the city with opinionated citizens and agents from the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities. With the discovery of magic in the late nineteenth century, Egypt burst on the world stage as a major power player, driving out imperial threats and thriving on fantastical innovations. Airships and trolleys ferry Cairenes to and from neighborhoods of new money, magical beings, and hardworking immigrants. Country bumpkins and those longing for more freedom and educational and employment opportunities flow in from far flung regions as the metropolis expands and evolves.

However, while advancements in technology, aided in large part by the djinn and their supernatural ilk, have made Egypt a place of wonders, society is still catching up. All that’s about to change if women’s suffrage is passed. For years, women activists have been pushing for equal rights. Now with the backing of the queen and a groundswell of support, they have a real chance to win. But victory is not guaranteed. The old ways of restrictions and limitations based on gender are hard to shake and many are unwilling to accept women in pant suits, much less gaining equal rights.

It’s this complicated world that Hamed and Onsi live in. They are modernists who aren’t afraid of the future, but middle-aged Hamed perceives those changes differently than young Onsi. Onsi is young enough to still be unjaded. He’s ambitious and inquisitive enough want to try the unorthodox but remains respectful of the past. Hamed isn’t rigid or conservative, but he’s had years of the old ways and it isn’t always easy to keep an open mind about the wild antics of kids these days.

If Hamed straddles the line between the future and the past, Clark cleverly places the women characters (with one key exception) on the side of the future and the men (other than Hamed an Onsi) on the side of the past. It’s not that men are bad and women are good but more that men in a patriarchal society often feel they have something to lose when women gain rights. They don’t, but in a world built upon a foundation of oppressors and oppressed, those on top typically either dismiss the push for equity as a silly fantasy or try to reframe it in the context of a hierarchy. Through Hamed, Onsi, and Abla, Clark resists not just the notion that equity demands sacrifice and subtraction but that enlightenment requires Westernization.

As much as I love the idea of steampunk, I often have a hard time with the subgenre because it tends to if not outright glorify then simply ignore colonialism and imperialism. Without the Victorian era, you don’t get steampunk, but you also don’t get the Victorian era without the brutality, exploitation, desecration, and destruction of imperialism. It’s easy to set aside what Queen Victoria was doing to her colonies if all you care about are airships and goggles on top hats. Clark uses the British invasion of 1882 as a springboard—the newly arrived djinn helped repel the imperialists—then takes it one step further. Often, in both fiction and non-fiction, a society isn’t deemed “civilized” until they adopt Western rules, including those regulating the subservience of the conquered by the conquerors.

In Haunting, Clark shifts the focus from the British to the Egyptians. Agent el-Sha’arawi wears English menswear because to her the attire is exotic and unusual—she is, in fact, turning the imperialists’ obsession with exoticism against them. Abla explores the themes of immigration and migration by bridging the chasm between ancient beliefs and contemporary traditions. The djinn, angels, and other supernatural entities use their knowledge and gifts to benefit Egypt and prevent further invasion from Westerners. Cairo develops according to its own goals, needs, and socio-cultural interests with no influence from the Western world. In young adult science fiction and fantasy, the trend of POC authors deconstructing colonialism has been gaining traction recently, but it is still fairly uncommon in adult SFF. Here’s hoping Clark is only the tip of the iceberg.

If last year’s stellar novella The Black God’s Drum hadn’t already solidified P. Djèlí Clark as one of the best under-the-radar writers today, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 will. In just over 100 pages filled with monstrous creatures and fanciful magic, Clark critiques the patriarchy, imperialism, and Westernization under the guise of a slight plot about a haunted public transit trolley. This book should be on every recommendation list of the best fantasy fiction for 2019. I can’t wait to see what he writes next.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is available from Tor.com Publishing.
Read an excerpt from the novella here. You can also read “A Dead Djinn in Cairo,” a story set in the same world.

Alex Brown is a high school librarian by day, local historian by night, author and writer by passion, and an ace/aro Black woman all the time. Keep up with her on Twitter and Insta, or follow along with her reading adventures on her blog.

larryhammer: a wisp of colored smoke, label: "softly and suddenly vanished away" (vanished)
[personal profile] larryhammer
A history here, a history there -- pretty soon it adds up to real people:

Thanks to a dialogue for training cuneiform scribes c.1600 BCE, we know how to get your laundry done in ancient Mesopotamia. Also, pain-in-the-ass customers have been a Thing for a v-e-r-y long time. (via)

Wall chart of the evolution of the latin aphabet from Proto-sinaitic roots. (via)

Map of medieval afro-eurasian trade routes c. 11-12 centuries version 4. Zoomable version. (via)


Subject quote from Tony, Patty Griffin.

Song of the day: April, "Oh-E-Oh"

Feb. 20th, 2019 10:32 am
brithistorian: (Default)
[personal profile] brithistorian
First a quick note:  The song's title is pronounced "Oh-AY-Oh," no "Oh-EE-Oh" (as in The Wizard of Oz).

This is one where you definitely want to watch the video and not just listen to the song - the antics as the girls try to fix up one of their number with her crush are amusing.

If you like this and want to hear more of April, you should check out their earlier songs "April Story" and "Oh! My Mistake."

Interestingly, there is a Korean version of "Oh-E-Oh," but it was only included as a bonus with the Japanese version, never released as a single in its own right.

The Magicians: Fanfic: Mountain Fold

Feb. 20th, 2019 08:15 am
greywash: Penny is deeeeeeeeply unimpressed. (penny adiyodi)
[personal profile] greywash posting in [community profile] fan_flashworks
Title: "Mountain Fold"
Fandom: The Magicians (TV)
Relationships: Penny Adiyodi and everyone, Penny Adiyodi/everyone (no, really, I do mean everyone)
Rating: Mature
Length: ~2,800 words

Content notes: Warnings for disturbing content. I keep my warning policy in my AO3 profile and am always willing to answer private DW messages or emails asking for elaboration or clarification on my warnings for a particular story.

Author notes: For both the "Note" challenge and the "Suitcase" square on my bingo card. This was written with a nonzero amount of help from a sort of statistically elaborate though not particularly sophisticated Python script, the details of which don't need exploring at this juncture. Basically I just feel I should disclose that it's partly fanfic and partly, like......... code-based performance art, I guess? Fanfic built on an underlying skeleton of code-based performance art? Something like that, at any rate. I also should mention that while I am doing 39 Graves, this is its own thing and bears no relationship to either my timeline or anyone else's.


Leaving, thirty-nine times.

'Mountain Fold', The Magicians, Penny &|/ everyone, ~2.8k )

instagram crosspost

Feb. 20th, 2019 04:32 pm
serenity_ribbon: An image of the 13th Doctor, on a pink background with heart doodles (Default)
[personal profile] serenity_ribbon
absolutely the nerdiest thing i've ever done #space #spaaaaaaaaace #nasa #voyager #voyager1 #voyager2 #art #traditionalart #queerswhomake #watercolour #cotmanwatercolours #draw #artistsoninstagram
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Posted by Neal Goldfarb

An introduction and guide to my series of posts "Corpora and the Second Amendment" is available here. The corpus data that is discussed can be downloaded here. That link will take you to a shared folder in Dropbox. Important: Use the "Download" button at the top right of the screen.

This post on what arms means will follow the pattern of my post on bear. I’ll start by reviewing what the Supreme Court said about the topic in District of Columbia v. Heller. I’ll then turn to the Oxford English Dictionary for a look at how arms was used over the history of English up through the end of the 18th century, when the Second Amendment was proposed and ratified.. And finally, I’ll discuss the corpus data.

Justice Scalia’s majority opinion had this to say about what arms meant:

The 18th-century meaning [of arms] is no different from the meaning today. The 1773 edition of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary defined ‘‘arms’’ as ‘‘[w]eapons of offence, or armour of defence.’’ Timothy Cunningham’s important 1771 legal dictionary defined ‘‘arms’’ as ‘‘any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another.’’ [citations omitted]

As was true of what Scalia said about the meaning of bear, this summary was basically correct as far as it went, but was also a major oversimplification.

To see that the statement was an oversimplification, we need only look at the definition by Samuel Johnson that Scalia relied on. What Scalia quoted (“Weapons of offence, or armour of defence”) was only one of five numbered senses Johnson gave; the others are as follows (with example sentences omitted):

2. A state of hostility.

3.War in general.

4. Action; the act of taking arms.

5. The ensigns armorial of a family.

Scalia’s omission of these other senses is understandable: he quoted the sense that he thought was relevant and left out those he regarded as irrelevant. But whether intentionally or not, the omission of senses 2–4 loaded the rhetorical dice. (I’ll give him a pass on leaving out number 5.)

You’ll recall that the whole dispute over the meaning of keep and bear arms was about whether it meant merely ‘carry weapons’ (or more specifically, ‘carry weapons for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person,’ as Scalia contended) or was instead understood as having what Scalia described as “an idiomatic meaning that was significantly different from its natural meaning”, namely, ‘‘to serve as a soldier, do military service, fight’’ or ‘‘to wage war.’’ If you’re going to rely on Johnson’s dictionary as your authority, as Scalia did, then Johnson’s senses 2–4 strike me as being relevant. Senses 2–4 resemble the idiomatic sense of bear arms that Scalia referred to, in that they were figurative rather than literal. And there was obviously a close semantic relationship between senses 2–4 on the one hand and the idiomatic sense of bear arms on the other.

So Johnson’s dictionary by itself supports my statement that Heller’s short discussion of arms was an oversimplification. But Johnson’s entry is a only vague sketch, compared to the entry for arms in the OED.

By a stroke of luck, the entry for arms was fully updated in 2016, and is now part of the OED’s Third Edition. That’s significant because although the Second Edition was published in 1989, it consisted mainly of the contents of the First Edition, into which were merged the five volumes of supplements that been published in the interim. So the 2016 revision was the first thorough updating of the entry since it had first been published in 1885. Its advantages over the original include not only that it provides more information (especially etymological informations) but also that the information that is carried over from the prior edition is better organized and easier to assimilate.

Whereas Samuel Johnson listed three senses of arms that had something to do with war or the military—“a state of hostility”, “war in general”, and “the act of taking arms”, the OED lists many more, once the many phrasal uses of arms are added in. In fact, it lists such uses going back to Anglo-Norman, the version of Old French that was used in England after the Norman Conquest, from which arms was “borrowed” by Middle English. Among the Anglo-Norman senses that the OED gives for arms (and its variants armys and harmes) are ‘fighting, war’ (dating back to 1155), ‘the military profession’ (second half of the 12th century), and ‘intances of military prowess’ (around 1170 or earlier). And before that, in classical Latin (!), the senses of arma included ‘military service,’ ‘military action,’ ‘fighting,’ ‘armed strength,’ and ‘troops.’

This etymological prehistory is significant (as is and the subsequent history of arms in English),  because it may help us overcome the fact that the English we know is not the English that was spoken in the 1790s. When the Second Amendment was proposed (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights), Americans’ understanding of it was a product of the linguistic environment in which they lived. The more we know about that environment, the better the chances that we’ll be able to accurately reconstruct how those Americans would have understood the text. While we obviously have no direct access to that environment, being aware of the linguistic history I’m discussing here will hopefully help us to at least partly make up for that inability.

For example, it’s easy for us to think that use of arms to mean ‘weapons’ was the word’s “literal,” “basic,”  or “core” meaning, and the senses of the word having to do with war and the military were extensions of that sense. But the fact that the “extended” senses existed in Anglo-Norman suggests that when arms became part of English proper, all of these senses came along with it. If that’s the case, what basis is there to assume that the ‘weapons’ sense is any more basic or central than any of the other senses?

And the OED provides reason to believe that this suggestion is well-founded. The earliest attested use in English of arms (around 1250) is a figurative use, which the OED  gives as “[a]bstract or immaterial things used in a manner comparable to physical weapons.” The earliest known instance of the corresponding “literal” use was from a little bit later, in 1275:

Weapons of war or combat; (items of) military equipment, both offensive and defensive, munitions. In later use esp.: military equipment or weaponry owned, used, or traded by a nation, regime, etc. Cf. arms race n. 1.

Then in the 1300s we see arms being used in additional military-related senses:

Armed combat as a professional activity; the military profession; service as a soldier. [Earliest known use circa 1300.]

Fighting; war; active hostilities. [Circa 1325.]

Brave, skilled, or renowned acts of armed combat; instances of military prowess. [Around 1393.]

(Note, by the way, that all the senses I’ve  mentioned so far, as well as those that I’ve yet to get o, are reported by the OED as having been in use at least through the end of the 18th century.)

I’m going to move on now to military-related phrasal uses of arms. The earliest of these that is listed is bear arms, with the first attested use being around 1325. I’ll discuss these in the post dealing specifically with that phrase. Moving chronologically, based on the date of first attested use, we next see the following relevant uses:

to arms!: “collect your weapons; prepare to fight” [circa 1330.]

to take (up) arms: to arm oneself; to assume a hostile attitude either defensive or offensive; to prepare to fight. [around 1420.]

force of arms: “the use of weapons or arms; military or violent means”. “Usually in by (also with) force of arms. [1529 (and possibly as early as 1430).]

man-in-arms: “a soldier, a warrior; a (heavily) armed man.” [circa 1540.]

to rise in arms: “to prepare to fight for one’s country, a cause, etc.; to join or form an armed force.” [1563.]

to lay down (one’s) arms (and variants): “to put down or stop using one’s weapons; to surrender; to stop fighting.” [1568.]

to turn one's arms against (also occasionally towards, and variants): “to wage war on; to attack.” [1569]

up in arms: “Willing or ready to fight; actively engaged in an armed struggle, protest, or rebellion.” [1576.]

to carry arms (against): “to wage war (against)’” [1580.]

to call (also summon) to arms (and variants): “to summon to prepare for battle or armed conflict”. [1592.]

under arms (and variants): “ (of an army, nation, etc.) equipped with weapons or arms; in battle array; ready to fight”. [1637.]

to lie upon one's arms: “to rest while still equipped with weapons or arms; to remain alert or ready to fight, esp. after a battle.” [1690.]

call to arms: “a summons to prepare for battle or armed conflict.” [1702.]

I’ve omitted the example sentences that accompany each of these entries, but a copy of the entries with the examples here (I may not get to it right away, so if it’s not there when you try to download it, check back in a few days.)

AS WE’VE SEEN, Johnson’s dictionary provided reason to believe that when Justice Scalia said  that in the 18th century, arms meant weapons, he was oversimplifying things. And the the OED showed that the picture painted by Johnson was itself an oversimplification. In addition to giving a more detailed account of the different ways that arms by itself could be used in referring to various aspects of war and the military, it listed more than a dozen idiomatic phrases enabling the expression of an even wider variety of meanings. And when we look at the corpus data, we see even more variety; there is a profusion of phrasal uses that the OED doesn’t list. More importantly, we can get an idea of the relative frequencies of the different uses, something that dictionaries can’t tell you.

The pattern seen in the data is one in which, outside the unusual context of fighting the Revolutionary War, the “nonliteral” military-related uses greatly outnumbered the uses in which arms simply meant ‘weapons.’ And even in the context of fighting the war, roughly a third of the uses conveyed nonliteral military-related meanings.

I’ll talk about the results in more detail, but first I need to take a detour through some methodological weeds.

The data I reviewed came from two corpora: COFEA (the Corpus of Founding Era American English) and COEME (the Corpus of Early Modern English), both of which are part of the BYU Law Corpora.

  • COFEA (the Corpus of Founding Era American English), which includes texts from several sources, dating from the period 1760–1799. Thof which three are significant here: (1) the Evans Early American Imprint Series, which contains books, pamphlets, sermons, and so on, (2) the National Archives Founders Papers Online project, which contains correspondence and other materials from the papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, and (3) Hein, which contains legal materials such as statutes, cases, legal papers, and legislative debates.
  • COEME (the Corpus of Early Modern English), which consists of materials that I think are generally similar to the kinds of materials in COFEA from the Evans collection; in fact, some of the texts appear in both corpora. However, COEME differs from COFEA in that, if I’m not mistaken, COEME includes texts that were published in England as well as the United States, while COFEA is limited to American publication. COEME also includes texts going back to 1475, but I limited my searches to the same 40-year period as is covered by COFEA.

In COFEA there were roughly 24,600 hits for instances of arms that had been tagged as nouns, and in COEME there were roughly 51,500 hits from the period I focused on. (From what I saw the accuracy of the tagging was in the range of 99%.) I originally downloaded 1,000 concordance lines from each corpus—a concordance line consisting of a use of arms with a small chunk of the text that immediately preceded and followed it. After eliminating duplicates within each data set and somehow losing 19 lines to gremlins, I was left with 982 lines from COFEA and 875 from COEME. In reviewing the COFEA data it quickly became apparent that it was dominated by results from the Founders and Hein collections (707 compared to 275 from the Evans results), I therefore downloaded additional data, with the source restricted to Evans, so that I had the virtually same amount of data from Evans (706 lines) as I had from Founders and Hein.

In addition to eliminating duplicate concordance lines within each set of downloaded data, I deduplicated the lines that appeared in both COFEA and COEME by removing each overlapping line from one of the corpora. Most of those deletions were made in the COFEA data and are accounted for in the final figures for the COFEA data in the previous paragraph. In the last round of deduping, the duplicate lines were removed from COEME rather than COFEA, resulting in the number of concordance lines from COEME being reduced to 685.

In all cases, the deduped data had confidence intervals below 5.0 at a 99% confidence level and below 4.0 at a 95% confdidence level..

OUT OF THE WEEDS, onward into the results.

In the COFEA documents that did not come from the Evans collection, there were twice as many uses of arms to mean ‘weapons’ (413 concordance lines, plus 13 that I wasn’t sure about) as there were uses that conveyed the broader ‘military/war” sense (213). In contrast, the pattern of relative frequencies in the other documents was reversed, with there being more than twice as  ‘military’ uses than ‘weapons’ uses. In the COFEA Evans documents, the ratio of ‘weapons’ to ‘military’ was 75 to 290, making ‘military’ uses 3.8 times as frequent as ‘weapons’ uses. In COEME, the ratio was 112 to 262, so ‘military’ uses were 2.3 times as frequent as ‘weapons'  uses.

I think that this striking difference is attributable to the fact that of the COFEA results that excluded the Evans documents, more than 90% of the concordance lines came from the Founders collection.  As you’ll recall, that collection consists of correspondence and other materials from the papers of the top six Founding Fathers: Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison. Among those documents was extensive correspondence about the progress of the Revolutionary War—thus my reference above to “the unusual context of fighting the Revolutionary War.” A recurring topic in these documents is (not surprisingly) the procurement,  management, and use of weapons. And the word that was used for ‘weapons’ in these documents was arms. (The likeliest alternative, weapons, is much less frequent than arms in the Founders documents, and my impression is that the when weapons does appear, it occur in the same kinds of documents as arms does.)

Here are some examples of the uses of arms that I’m talking about (all of which are from the Founders collection):

About 4000 besides those in the Field will probably be the Number provided they can get Arms Accoutrements & Tents: but there is at present so lamentable a Deficiency in those Articles that I very much fear Difficulties

he found two men recently killed by the appearance of their blood being fresh with their packs and  arms lying by them, that he proceeded to Gage ’s Hill, from whence he had a good view of the Lake

of those who may be Collected, there will not be more than one fourth of them that will have their Arms, many of them you [ may ] depend have thrown away their Arms with an expectation of getting Home by it

Your application to Commodore Tilly for arms meets our approbation.

18th 1777Sir I have the Honour to enclose all the Accounts we have in the Office of the State of Arms & military Stores.

Notwithstanding the strict and repeated Orders , that have been given against firing small arms, it is hourly practised, All Officers commanding Guards, posts and detachments, to be alert in apprehending all future Trangressors.

And here are examples of uses from the COFEA Evans documents and from COEME in which arms means ‘weapons’:

This man had, in defiance of the king's proclamation, made a practice of selling arms and ammunition to the Indians, whom he employed in hunting and fowling for him [COFEA Evans]

The indictment also charges him with having assisted in procuring arms, which no doubt were to be employed against the government of the country [COFEA Evans]

Suppose a body of Frenchmen to arrive at Boston, with arms and ammunition, which men may carry for their own defence [COFEA Evans]

THE zeal of the tribe of Zebulun was conspicuous on the occasion. Fifty thousand of its citizens, with arms in their hands, marched to the capital [COFEA Evans]

On a day appointed, the inhabitants, by general consent took their arms, and surrounded a large swamp which they penetrated in every direction, as far as it was practicable; [COEME]

they may, by the same rule, oblige them to furnish cloaths, arms, and every other necessary [COEME]

In contrast to concordance lines I’ve just quoted from, here is a sample of those in which arms is used to in one of its senses related to the military and war-fighting:

I will impose upon myself the drugery of saying something about the transactions of the 28th, in which the American arms gained very signal advantages; and might have gained much more signal ones. [Founders]

I have the pleasure to congratulate your Excellency on the success of the American arms in this quarter, in the reduction of fort Slongo on Long Island on the morning of the 3d instant . The [Founders]

enemy are undoubtedly concentering their force, upon a presumption, that there is imminent danger of an attack by the united Arms of France and America. [Founders]

How far there is a moral Certainty of Extending the American Arms Into Canada In the Course of next Campaign [Founders]

How far there is a moral Certainty of Extending the American Arms Into Canada In the Course of next Campaign [Founders]

to Sir Henry Clinton, on the 12th of May. A series of ill success followed this unfortunate event. The American arms in South Carolina were in general unsuccesful, and the inhabitants were obliged to submit to the invaders [COFEA Evans]

Their feeling remonstrance was answered by contempt, while the cords of oppression were drawn still harder; till the arms of Britain appeared on our shore. Their feeling remonstrance was answered by contempt Their feeling remonstrance was answered by contempt [COFEA Evans]

From this period, the affairs of America assumed a promising aspect, aided by the victorious arms of France, and guided by the unerring councils of that accomplished general, consummate statesman, and most virtuous citizen [COFEA Evans]

an opportunity of asserting their natural right as an independent nation, and who were even compelled by the arms of their enemies to take sanctuary in the temple of Liberty [COFEA Evans]

Finally, I want to point out a finding from the data that was I hadn’t anticipated. The majority of the uses that I categorized as expressing the ‘military’ sense were phrasal uses. And the variety of those uses is truly impressive—I previously described those uses as a “profusion”—and most of them aren’t listed in the OED:

able to bear arms, appeal to arms, appear in arms, arise in arms, arms and  arts, bear arms [military sense], bear arms against, bear arms in defense of, call to arms (against), carry arms against, clangor of arms, clash of arms, companions in arms, din of arms, enter into arms, exercise of arms, feats of arms, flee to arms, following arms, force of arms, glory of arms, in arms (against), inequality of arms, into arms, issue of arms, lay down arms, lay/lie on arms, men at arms, profession of arms, recourse to arms, recur to arms, resort to arms, rise (up) in arms, rouse [somebody] to arms, roused to arms, run to arms, rush to arms, science of arms, slew to arms [should probably be "flew to arms,"], sound of arms, stand (forth) in arms, stand to (their) arms, stimulate [some person or entity] to arms, take arms (against), take to their arms, take up arms (against), taken in arms, terror of arms, throw down (their) arms, thunder of arms, to arms, took up arms, train[ed] to arms, try my right by arms, tumult of arms, turn arms against, under arms, up in arms (against), urge [somebody] to arms, victorious arms

Here are examples of some of these uses:

The astonishing Success of the French in overturning every Country into which they have carried their Arms, has not satisfied them, but only proved a new Stimulous to their Greedy ambition of becomeing masters of the World

the British nation , which threatened the destruction of our commerce. The American policy was to negotiate before an appeal to arms was made. An envoy extraordinary to Great Britain was appointed.

therefore the consequence of their attempt to enforce their arbitrary exactions, and Americans indignant fly to arms.

These conquests they have gained incomparably more by intrigue and duplicity than by force of arms. Solemn professions of friendship, and a desire of peace, have been made a shield to cover the dark

the affectionate fears of our friends , to have conducted it prosperously amidst the conflict of a world in arms; is a task , which only the ignorant and thoughtless will deem light . And to have executed this task , without many

How fortunate and happy was it for America that, when she was driven to the dire necessity of recurring to arms in self dcfence, her eyes were directed to this accomplished CAPTAIN, to command her armies and direct the

made toward the bank , the whole party tumultuously crying to order, and, with the directors at their head, rose in arms to defend it

to the dreadful alternative of submitting to arbitrary laws and despotic government; or of taking up arms in defence of those rights and privileges, which thou , in thy goodness , hast conferred upon them as men

are to be carried, and can be carried, only by force of the soldiery, and the terror of arms, it is proof abundant that they are unlawful and unconstitutional.

to cloak his design under the cover of Parliamentary sanction. It may be, he desired to urge America to arms; that being vanquished (which seems to have been taken as a granted point)

COMING NEXT: I previously said that wasn’t going to do a post about keep arms, because I didn’t think I had anything interesting to say about it. After further thought, I no longer think that. So the next post will be a short one about keep arms. That will be followed by a substantially longer post about bear arms and then a post about keep and bear arms. Those two posts will be the most important posts in this whole series, for obvious reasons. And finally I’ll wrap everything up with some general observations.

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Posted by Natalie Zutter

There is no single archetype of the female time traveler. She may be a young newlywed on her honeymoon, or a septuagenarian acting as a secret government weapon. She is black, or white, or from a future less concerned with skin color (but concerned with plenty otherwise). She is a writer, a river rehabilitator, a veteran of a World War. And no two travelers make the same passage through time and space: each of these intricate tales are brought about by everything from futuristic machinery to nanotechnology to magical stones.

Join us under the cut to meet six timestream-hopping women who have left their mark on history!

Note: We’re limiting this list to lady time travelers found in the pages of books—between the Doctor, River Song, Missy, and a delightfully long role-call of companions, we wouldn’t have the time or space for anyone else!


Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon)

While on her second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands, British Army nurse Claire hears a strange buzzing at the standing stones at Craigh na Dun. When she touches one of the stones, it sends her back in time 200-odd years, from 1946 to 1743. As a woman traveling through an unfamiliar time and land alone, Claire has it pretty good as a nurse (and later doctor)—her hard-won skills on the front translate well to saving Jamie Fraser and other Highlanders from what could be fatal injuries, and earn her some measure of respect and worth within her new family. However, standing out like that also gets her branded a witch, kidnapped more times than we can count, and in constant danger of being sexually assaulted. And yet, she lives to save another life.


Alice Payne and Prudence Zuniga (Alice Payne Rides by Kate Heartfield)

Alice Payne Arrives introduced readers to two very different time travelers, separated by a century. In 1889, Major Prudence Zuniga has spent ten years attempting to change the murder-suicide of Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf and his lover—71 attempts at one small triumph in the time war between the “Farmers” and “Guides” in 2020. But she will need to stop obsessing over single points in history and instead consider a strategy that will eliminate the tug-of-war altogether… and that strategy means a new player, in the form of 1788 highway thief Alice Payne, a.k.a. The Holy Ghost.

Then again, considering that Alice’s adventures open the second installment with a kidnapped Arthur of Brittany and smallpox in 1780, and Prudence scrambling to keep these weapons out of “Misguided” hands in 2145, guns-blazing Alice may wind up changing the course of history more than Prudence ever suspected. Then again, while their approaches to time travel vary drastically, Alice and Prudence are surprised to find enough in common with one another that one has to wonder just how tangled up their timelines are…


Dana Franklin (Kindred by Octavia E. Butler)

It’s not a machine that transports young writer Edana from 1976 Los Angeles to an 1815 Baltimore slave plantation—nor secret technology, nor the magic of standing stones. It is simply the pull of the past, in the form of dizzy spells that transport her, again and again, into key points in the life of a boy (and later man) named Rufus; and which also serve as her way back, as each encounter turns increasingly dire. Each jump into the past is an opportunity for Dana to save Rufus’ life—from drowning, from a fire, from malaria—in order to ensure her own existence in the present. But the price for each act of mercy grows increasingly steep, as Dana herself becomes enslaved and must weigh how much to meddle in the life of Alice Greenwood, a free black woman and her ancestor, as Rufus morphs from innocent child to sadistic master. While Dana has little control over what keeps sending her back, she takes control of her past, changing it from something that happens to her and her ancestors, to something on which she exerts influence instead.


Valentina Lidova (Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds)

Don’t let anyone tell you that time travel is a young woman’s pastime; Valentina, a seventy-something schoolteacher futilely teaching Earth’s final generation of children, joins project Permafrost, a group gathered to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. As the daughter of famed (and then infamous) mathematician Luba Lidova, Valentina had a front-row seat to her mother’s audacious discoveries about what would come to be known as Luba Pairs, twinned electrons able to connect over time and space. As it turns out, her mother was on the money: in 2080, Valentina and the other Permafrost “pilots” willingly allow neural nanotechnology into their brains and send time-probes into unwilling hosts in the past—hoping to take over host bodies in 2028 in order to make one small change that will save their bleak future. Becoming time-embedded is not for the feeble-minded.


Minh (Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson)

For Minh, a “plague baby” who repairs rivers for a living in 2267, time travel is a whole bunch of tourism nonsense that stole all of the funding for her projects meant to save the world—the planet that she and her generation left their underground bunkers to try and return to its former condition. But once the Temporal Economic Research Node (TERN) was established, people in Minh’s time stopped caring about reversing their present ecological collapse, when instead they could distract themselves with trips to the glory days of the past. Minh sneers at time travel… until TERN becomes her source of funding, offering up the opportunity to survey the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers themselves… back in 2000 B.C.

Minh and her team’s exhaustive drafting of proposals, slashing through bureaucratic red tape, and dismantling of intimidating NDAs finally pays off with the kind of research project that she could never have dreamed of, but she’s too busy thinking about the rivers to consider what impact their job has on the people of Mesopotamia. That definitely wasn’t covered in the proposal, but this scientist is nothing if not adaptable. Oh, and did we mention that Minh is 80 and has prosthetic legs—six tentacle-like ones, to boot? That’s one badass time traveler who won’t be forgotten soon.


Who are your favorite female time travelers?

Reading Wednesday

Feb. 20th, 2019 08:17 am
muccamukk: Gregory Peck looks up from the book he's reading. (Books: Hello Reading)
[personal profile] muccamukk
What I Just Finished Reading
The Great Cowboy Strike by Mark A. Lause
Unreadably bad, DNF at about sixty pages. I've trudged through a lot of poorly-written non-fiction, but this was something else. Topics jumped wildly between paragraphs, there was no filtering between what details someone needed to know (how the fucking cattle industry worked) and what they didn't (what day a minor character was baptised). I think I got it for free, anyway.

Ike’s Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler by Peter Shinkle, narrated by Grover Gardner.
Robert Cutler was a Republican from a wealthy Boston family who served in WWII as a logistics type (organised soldier voting, mostly, also holy shit, most southern states didn't let soldiers vote at all! In WWII!), on Ike's election campaign, and then invented and occupied the post of National Security Advisor for most of the Eisenhower years. He was also queer as a three dollar bill, very much in the Wildian grand romantic feelings school, only he doesn't actually seem to have been getting laid that much/at all.

The first main thread of the book is Cutler's homosexuality, which largely took the form of what socially acceptable crossdressing he could pull off, pining in an epic way after a variety of (much) younger men, and various manoeuvrers to keep his job with McCarthy and Hoover sniffing at the door. The book laid out a lot of the social mores of post-War mainstream society, as well as gay male culture's methods of surviving them (moving to Paris was popular). Probably more interesting than Cutler was his primary object of affection, who was (unfortunately for Cutler) of the butch screw lots of guys and have as few feelings as possible school. The love interest also wrote a surprising number of sexually frank letters, considering it was 1948 and he was in intelligence work! The endless unrequited love and angst about unrequited love got somewhat tiresome in the last third.

The second main thread was how the White House intelligence apparatus worked in the '50s. The author is arguing that the system that Cutler developed--wherein the role of the security advisor is to gather people and information and present all sides impartially to the president, usually in form of the president sitting in on debates and reading a lot of papers--is better than the later school where the advisor offers advise, having crunched all that info beforehand. This seems pretty sensible to me, but meanwhile on this system everyone thought listening to the Dullas brothers, starting coups in like five different countries, getting involved in Vietnam, and doubling down on the nuclear arms race were totally the best ideas ever. I mean, I guess it's hard to argue a counterfactual, maybe without that kind of council post-War imperialism would have been worse? Or everyone would have just nuked each other?

The author had a pretty good hand at not trying to excuse Cutler when he was, say, advocating for the overthrow of Guatemalan democracy on behalf of United Fruit (who had him in their pocket). He's probably a little defensive of his subject in some other areas, but overall it felt balanced. Could have used about a third fewer diary entries.

What I'm Reading Now
Audio: The Tango War: The Struggle for the Hearts, Minds and Riches of Latin America During World War II by Mary Jo McConahay, narrated by Elizabeth Wiley. Very much by an American, not by someone from any of the Latin American countries, though at least McConahay worked in Brazil for ten years. She references a fair number of memoirs and histories written by Latin American authors, which I should track down. I'm a little over half way through and it's pretty interesting. Fun fact: the US government kidnapped Japanese families from Peru and put them in interment camps in the US in order to trade them to Japan for US civilians.

Library: Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation by John Boyko. About half way through this. It is indeed just not going to mention first nations after Tecumseh. However, there's a lot of US/Canada interaction in that period that I hadn't learned about before, as well as retreading the Trent crisis and hitting up Emma Edwards again. Seward: "I definitely think Invading Canada and starting a war with Great Britain would help us defeat the rebels!" Lincoln: "...would it tho?"

What I'm Reading Next
Got a bunch of short canlit things on my e-reader, may try those.

vivid but not visual

Feb. 20th, 2019 10:58 am
julian: Picture of the sign for Julian Street. (Default)
[personal profile] julian
That was great!

I haven't had a hypnopompic hallucination that intense since the snakes when I was a kid. That time, I woke up convinced there was a snake in my bed -- that was more visual, just a smallish snake wiggling down at the end of the bed. I forget how it ended/disappeared, but I suspect it was me whapping at it; this time, I woke up, convinced there was something moving down by my legs. (There wasn't.) As with the snake, I woke up, heart pounding, and it was *really hard* to convince myself it hadn't happened, even though I knew it didn't. (At least I don't fall out of bed? That's apparently common.)

This was at around 5 am, so I think it was that the guy upstairs was rattling around, prepping for work, and I incorporated it into the waking up.

(Hypnopompic: Post-sleep. Hypnagogic: Pre-sleep.)

With the snake, I piled stuffed animals around the bed as guardians. (And since I was about 7, I had no idea what had actually happened. I suspect I told my mom about it in the morning, which would be hilarious since I'm *not* ophidiophobic, and she is.) This time, I just went to the bathroom, did some deep breathing, and then, once I got back to my room, thumped the end of my bed a little as an aid to convincing.

I don't get things like sleep paralysis or exploding head syndrome (and isn't that a term for something one would like not to have), but I do sometimes also have some minor hypnagogic hallucinations, mostly of the "I suddenly feel like I'm falling in a weird direction" variety. Though come to think, I haven't in awhile. I mostly associate them with my parents' house. (Also, they're not autonomously scary. No heart racing.)

Anyone else have stuff like this?

Friendly Reminder

Feb. 20th, 2019 11:03 am
electric_heart: Fluff Bingo Community Round 1 2/6-2/28/19 (Fluff Bingo Mod Icon 1)
[personal profile] electric_heart posting in [community profile] fluffbingo

Hello! This is just a friendly reminder that the deadline to win Fluff Bingo is just one week a way! To win bingo you must have your entry in by 2/28 midnight eastern standard time. So far we've had three participants win bingo!

All winners will receive their banners at the end of this round. Be sure to tell your mod you've won HERE

If you think you might miss the last day for bingo, remember your amnesty days are from 3/1-3/8!

Also, where it lists card # in the posting template, please use the card number you were assigned.

Thank you everyone for signing up and making this a great first round of Fluff Bingo!

All-New Ghost Rider: Vocation

Feb. 20th, 2019 08:02 am
rokhal: Close up view of a python's eye (Default)
[personal profile] rokhal posting in [community profile] fan_flashworks
Title: Vocation
Fandom: All-New Ghost Rider (Marvel Comics)
Challenge: Note 
Rating: PG-13
Length: 5k
Content notes: Cursing.
Summary: Newly-disabled young gangster Guero Valdez tracks down Ramon "El Perro Rabioso" Cordova for an interview for the school paper.

Read more... )
lebateleur: Sweet Woodruff (Default)
[personal profile] lebateleur
What I Just Finished Reading

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel
Omnipotent, cordially threatening unnamed antagonist with enough influence to cow world leaders into doing his bidding? Check.

Melodramatic love triangle? Check.

Substitution of informed attributes with personal names assigned to them for actual characters? Check.

Shameless author self-insert? More physically badass than a Navy Seal and the most genius-y genius? Check.

Cliffhanger ending visible from two-thirds of the way through the narrative? Check.

This half-assed novel about humanity discovering pieces of a giant, disassembled alien mecha buried across the planet is written as a series of interviews, journal entries, and reports, which at least justifies the constant exposition dumps. It reads like the first draft of a Netflix original series, and—whaddaya know—“I wouldn’t be writing any of this without my movie agent,” says Neuvel in the Acknowledgments. Ugh.

The Hidden Life of Trees – Peter Wohlebellen
This book touches on several fascinating aspects of the interrelation between various species of trees, fungi, insects, animals, and other natural phenomena in forest ecosystems, and I wish Wohlebellen had gone into them in more depth. But if you approach this book as a 101-level introduction to topics you might like to examine more deeply in other resources, it doesn’t disappoint.

What I Am Currently Reading

The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill
This books is an extended fairytale about what happens when we try to shield the people we love from sadness by lying to them. The setting is atmospheric, the descriptions magical, and the characters endearing. It’s “for” younger readers but transcends its intended audience.

Intermediate Korean – Andrew Sangpil Byon
Still working on the causal conjunctives.

Japanese Grammar – Keiko Uesawa Chevray & Tomiko Kuwahira
I've made it to the chapter on verbs, which so far has done a good job of laying out the grammar of direct and indirect objects, and verbs of giving and receiving.

Kabbalah – Tim Dedopulos
I’m halfway through the chapter on the 22 paths. “We do not have the room to go into extended information on the Nativoth in this work,” Dedopulos says, openly admitting to phoning this six-page chapter in. On the other hand, as with other similar systems, once you’ve grasped the important concepts, the rest is just noise.

Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot – Lon Milo DuQuette
Crowley’s framework of the Three Aeons is stupid, and as a result, so is his interpretation of The Hanged Man.

Fire Logic – Laurie J. Marks
First, the bad: no matter their age, culture, language, gender, or class, every character Marks writes speaks and thinks in the exact same voice. It’s a shame because Marks does the rest of it so well. She’s created a beautifully diverse world populated with multiple cultures, social milieus, and family configurations.

The Beast’s Heart – Liefe Shallcross
The story opens with the Beast stumbling back into his ruined castle and discovering signs of magic afoot. Other than that, not much has happened yet.

What I'm Reading Next
I’ll probably try to wrap up Saeki’s 神隠し.



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