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Here's my top-three:
1.) Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear - Actually, this is the best book I've read in several years. You can read it as just a fun adventure story about a girl and her scooby gang stopping a nefarious plot by a nasty villain, but scratch a bit at the topsoil and there's so much more in there.
2.) Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald - It's the Godfather on the near-future Moon. Except McDonald's prose is much better than Puzo's. And yes, it does have a scene of people jogging. (Every book I've read by the author has had that.)
3.) Ring Roads by Patrick Modiano - Atmospheric, moody, and reads like a good crime novel despite about perfectly everyday things.
So, I've been meaning to do this for a while now, and here we go.
Now, I've never done one of these before, so don't be surprise if the first few posts aren't very good - I'm sure I'll improve as I go along.
My aim is to do three chapters a week, since that seems a short enough length to not interfere with my other writing. And of course, you're all welcome to chime in with your comments - I'm seriously hoping this won't just be me typing into empty cyberspace.
”Lest anyone should suppose I’m a cuckoo’s child, got on the wrong side of the blanket by lusty peasant stock and sold into indenture in a shortfallen season, I may say that I am House-born and reared in the Night Court proper, for all the good it did me.”
This chapter is mostly introducing Phèdre and let us know her very earliest backstory, and to introduce some proper nouns of the world she lives in; the Night Court, Terre d’Ange, Caerdicca Unitas probably being the most important ones.
We do also get some information about the customs of the land and of some of the houses of the Night Court – Cereus House specializing in what I interpret as “the Beauty of Fragility.” This, with a re-readers hindsight, seems to me like a poor fit for the woman Phèdre will become, but since she’s only going to be there until she’s ten, maybe the particulars of each house’s teaching doesn’t start until later in an adept’s training and the early years of childhood are given over to a more general training?
I can also notice that, even on my first read of the book, one of the effects of the first-person past-tense style is that the scene with Phèdre’s mother leaving her didn’t affect me very much. It’s in the first chapter of a very thick book, and there’s clearly going to be more important things going on later in the book. And yet, I would say that being abandoned by her parent is one of the defining moments in how Phèdre later acts throughout the books. Looking at her relationships with other people, she seems more ready to accept friendships with persons old enough to be her parents than with those of her own generation. More on this later, though.
So that’s what I was. ‘A whore’s unwanted get.’
She is taught about the origins of the d’Angelines by a former adept turned mystic, called Brother Louvel, who tells her and the other children about Blessed Elua, his companions and their wanderings. After the last lesson, Brother Louvel gives the children flowers to pin on their clothes. In an unwatched moment, Phèdre stabs herself with the pin, and experiences visible pleasure (and pain). An adept who sees this takes her to the dowayne of Cereus House who, after reflexively planning to send her on to Valerian House, which specializes in providing submissives and masochists to their clients, instead sends word to Anafiel Delaunay.
So, if Chapter One is about establishing Phèdre, this chapter is about giving us the mystical background of the setting, and I love it. As far as alternate Earths go, the world of Terre d’Ange is one of my absolute favourites, in no small part because of how a tiny little change in an already existing mythology brings on huge ramifications. And while I skimmed over the tales told by Brother Louvel, I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing there’d be an actual Eluine cycle out there to read. (Carey has written a short text about it which I think can be found over at Tor.com, but I’m hazy on the details of this.)
In addition, the story as told to Phèdre mostly focuses on Elua and Naamah – it’d be interesting to hear how those in the service of say, Shemhazai tells the story. Anyway, if someone reads this, please comment more on it than I just did.
Then there’s Phèdre’s moment of taking her first step on the path that will lead her into so much (exciting and horrid at turns) trouble and glory throughout the trilogy. I don’t have that much to say about it, except that it’s a good thing someone was there to see it, because I suspect that even as a child raised by adepts among adepts Phèdre probably wouldn’t have had a clue what just happened beyond her feeling a bit funny when she did the owie.
Later, she is cleaned and prettied up and taken to meet with Anafiel Delaunay (Hi Delaunay!). He recognises the mark in her eye for what it is and quotes some arcane lore about it. The Dowayne sets a bond-price for Phèdre, and Delaunay accepts it (to the chagrin of the Dowayne without bargaining). It is decided that Phèdre will remain at Cereus House until she turns ten and receive such training as a future adept of the Night Court would have.
He writes bawdy lyrics? You mean I’m getting dressed out like a Carnival goose to be sold to some seed-stained scribbler with one hand in the inkwell and the other in his breeches?
I’m amused. Both by Phèdre’s ideas of Delaunay before meeting him, and by the thought that perhaps Carey is commenting about what some people might think of her writing-process – the Kushiel-series certainly qualifies as bawdy prose at some points.Furthermore, it’s interesting that Phèdre meets two of the three most important men in her life within days of each other, and in the same chapter. So far we don’t get much information about either one – a bit more about Delaunay, but mostly that he seems to be an important personage, not a courtier, but one with connections at court, and when we see him with Phèdre and the Dowayne he also reveals some learning and a noble’s manner.
So that’s the first three chapters, I hope to do about that every week, but with more commentary (I’ve been having some sleeping issues this past week that’s eaten up a lot of time). A few passing tit-bits before I finish:Dowayne is the same word as the modern French “Doyenne” – which basically means Mother Superior. So the houses of the night court are the d’Angeline version of monasteries, and their adepts this culture’s monks and nuns.
And for those who don’t speak French, “Terre d’Ange” literally means “Land of Angels.”
So, did I miss something important ? Please comment, as long as people are polite and remember to stick to the forum rules, I’m sure this could be a long-running and fun thread.
So I deleted a post over in the Gaming stereotypes thread because in the time it took me to write it, Sara-Marie had popped in to (correctly) point out that the thread was beginning to veer off topic, and when I pressed delete, the post vanished.
But... as I asked in the thread-title, don't we get a "are you sure you want to delete this post?" message when we do that, or is the dementia beginning to set in and I'm completely mis-remembering things?
This, sadly unfinished, comic originally ran in the Scandinavian comic-magazine The Phantom, and is an homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs's planetary romances from veteran Finnish comic-artist Kari Leppänen. In it, we get to primarily follow the adventures of one of two survivors on an interplanetary expedition, who have been awakened from cryo-sleep to find the rest of the members in their team deceased, as he finds himself stranded on the planet Xellana - where he is quickly captured by some brutish natives, and his fellow crewmember seems to have ambitions of the evil overlord type...
In case anyone's interested, Pathfinder Comics artist Andrew Huerta is selling some of his original art.
(And if you don't like the art of the comics, this is not the thread to point it out in, please.)
One of the Missing
Could we get recently added downloads (say, purchased in the last month or so) highlighted in some way (different colour would seem to be the easiest to my web-design-ignorant mind)?
I'm looking at the My Downloads page, and some areas could really do with something like that to save me some precious time (okay, so it's only about half a second, my point is that, much like this sentence, it's getting a bit cluttered and hard to read, and while I'm sure that, for instance the Pathfinder Campaign Setting part could be split up in different sections, the Open Design section could be divided by magazines and Midgard products and so on, a simple highlight seems like an easy fix).
Hope that made sense.
Because some people asked if they could have a copy of the ones I mentioned having made in the Bestiary 3 thread. Apart from monsters from Adventure Path volumes 25 forward, it also includes a few from earlier APs that have been updated in some other Paizo-source, as well as stuff from the Player Companions, Campaign Setting products, and one or two from Wayfinder.
Monsters by type*:
Aberration: Akata, Blightspawn of Ghlaunder, Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, Elder Thing, Faceless stalker, Ghorazagh, Irlgaunt, Moit of Shub-Niggurath, Rorkoun, Royal naga, Shadowgarm, Shriezyx, Spawn of Yog-Sothoth, Star-Spawn of Cthulhu, Weaverworm
Animal: Elk, Mokele-Mbembe, Nandi bear, Megapiranha swarm, Piranha swarm, Pterosaurs, Snake swarm, Thylacine, Venomous snake swarm
(Aquatic): Adaro, Ahuizotl, Aspidochelone, Ceratioidi, Elder Thing, Eurypterid, Gare linnorm, Giant sea urchins, Gillman, Grodair, Haniver, Lukwata, Megapiranha swarm, Ningyo, Nuckelavee, Piranha swarm, Rorkoun, Selkie, Tikoloshe, Vouivre, Weaverworm
Construct: Aluum, Animated object, Ebon acolytus, Gargoyle Guardian, Golden Guardian, Idols, Mask golem, Tribal Totem, Wax Golem
(Earth): Spine dragon
(Evil): Hell gigas, Spring-Heeled Jack,
Fey: Ankou, Biloko, Blodeuwedd, Fey Animals, Gremlins, Huldra, Lurker in Light, Nuckelavee, Skin stealer,
(Fire): Brimorak demon,
(Giant): Atamahuta oni, Great Cyclops, Hell gigas, Mountain troll, Thawn
(Goblinoid): Ja Noi,
(Incorporeal): Allip, Arcanotheign, Banshee, Obambo, Vilkacis
Magical Beast: Ahuizotl, Aspidochelone, Camulatz, Carbuncle, Chemosit, Chupacabra, Clawbat, Dweomercat, Funtum-Dekyem, Gnoph-Keh, Grodair, Grootslang, Hodag, Inkanyamba, Leucrotta, Lukwata, Peryton, Ratling, Ravener behemoth, Rompo, , Siren, Skrik Nettle, Stymphalides, Trollhound
Monstrous Humanoid: Adaro, Agogwe, Bog strider, Calikang, Ceratioidi, Derhii, Gargoyle, Lamia matriarch, Ningyo, Popobala, Qallupilluk, Sabosan, Saumen kar, Selkie, Stygira, Umasi, Vouivre, Witchwyrd
Ooze: Alchemical ooze swarm, Colour out of space, Verdurous ooze
Outsider: Arcanotheign, Caulborn, Nihiloi, Psychopomps, Steward of the Skein,
Outsider (air): Kaminari, Personification of Fury, Zhyen
Outsider (chaotic): Avatar of Ydersius, Azatas, Demons, Dimensional shambler, Emperor of Scales, First Blade, Guribast, Proteans
Outsider (evil): Asuras, Avatar of Ydersius, Baregara, Basileus, Daemons, Demons, Devils, Dimensional shambler, Div, Emperor of Scales, Impundulu, Kytons,
Outsider (earth): Shaitan, Zhyen
Outsider (fire): Zhyen
Outsider (good): Agathions, Angels, Azatas, The Grim White Stag, Guribast, Hand of the Inheritor, Lar, Spirit of Adoration
Outsider (lawful): Asuras, Axiomite, Baregara, Basileus, Devils, The Grim White Stag, Hand of the Inheritor, Kytons, Lar,
Outsider (native): Emperor of Scales, Garuda, Half-janni, Kami, Lar, Onis, The Sandpoint Devil, Suli, Treerazer,
Outsider (water): Personification of Fury, Zhyen
Plant: Boruta, Calathgar, Fungus leshy, Living Topiary, Mandragora, Mi-go, Mindslayer mould, Moonflower, Umdhlebi, Vireseed swarm, Zomok
(Reptilian): Hollow serpent,
(Shapechanger): Faceless stalker, Ghul, Imentesh protean, Impundulu, Lamia matriarch, Naunet protean, Oni, Selkie, Steward of the Skein, Werebat
(Swarm): Alchemical ooze swarm, Bloodhaze mosquito swarm, Piranha swarm, Rot grub swarm, Snake swarm, Stymphalides swarm, Torble swarm, Venomous snake swarm, Virespeed swarm, Water strider swarm,
Template: Banshee, Dream Eater, Ectoplasmic creature, Fey animals, Frostfallen creatures, Graveknight, Haunted One, Half-janni, Taotaomona, Vilkacis, Zombie lord,
Undead: Allip, Banshee, Beheaded, Daughter of Urgathoa, Drekevac, Ectoplasmic creature, Forsaken Lich, Frostfallen creatures, Gallowdead, Ghul, Graveknight, Grim Reaper, Hollow serpent, Mother’s Maw, Ningyo, Obambo, Phantom Armour, Revenant, Skeleton, Spartolos, Taotaomona, Tikoloshe, Tuyewera, Vilkacis, Vrykolakas, Warsworn, Zombie, Zombie lord,
Vermin: Ant lion, Belostomatid, Bloodhaze mosquito swarm, Eurypterid, Giant Fly, Giant Hellgramite, Giant sea urchins, Rot grub, Torble, Water strider swarm,
Akata, Allip, Aluum, Animated object, Ankou, Banshee, Beheaded, Boruta, Changeling, Colour Out of Space, Daughter of Urgathoa, Dimensional Shambler, Drekevac, Ebon acolytus, Ectoplasmic creature, Elder Thing, Emperor of Scales, Fukujin, Gargoyle, Gargoyle Guardian, Golden Guardian, Graveknight, Grim Reaper, Half-Janni, Haunted One, Idols, Lar, Mask Golem, Mi-Go, Mindslayer mould, Moit of Shub-Niggurath, Peryton, Rot grub, Royal naga, Skin stealer, Snake swarm, Spartolos, Spring-heeled Jack, Star-spawn of Cthulhu, Suli, Taotaomana, Torble, Tribal Totem, Tuyewera, Undead Ningyo, Venomous snake swarm, Vilkacis, Vireseed swarm, Vrykolakas, Warsworn, Wax Golem, Zombie lord
ANY TERRAIN (COLD)
ANY TERRAIN (LAND)
ANY TERRAIN (TEMPERATE)
ANY TERRAIN (WARM)
PLANAR (ABADDON – NEUTRAL EVIL)
PLANAR (ABYSS – CHAOTIC EVIL)
PLANAR (AXIS – LAWFUL NEUTRAL)
PLANAR (ELYSIUM – CHAOTIC GOOD)
PLANAR (HEAVEN – LAWFUL GOOD)
PLANAR (HELL – LAWFUL EVIL)
PLANAR (MAELSTROM – CHAOTIC NEUTRAL)
PLANAR (NIRVANA – NEUTRAL)
PLANAR (PLANE OF AIR)
PLANAR (PLANE OF EARTH)
PLANAR (PLANE OF FIRE)
PLANAR (PLANE OF SHADOW)
PLANAR (PLANE OF WATER)
PLANAR (NEUTRAL GOOD)
From my inbox:
What nice people. Just giving away all that cash.
Stretched between the lamplight and the cigarette ash
We can take a bit of red a but of white and blue
This thing can cross oceans in its seven league boots
It ain't come from the hungry it ain't come from the bored
(from Thea Gilmore's song We Built a Monster
Hari Kunzru was introduced to science fiction aged 10 – and was hooked. After years of fandom, he went to meet master of the genre Michael Moorcock at home in Texas, where they discussed his 15,000 word a day habit, taking acid with his friend JG Ballard and writing a Doctor Who novel