YOU GUYS

Jun. 27th, 2017 07:03 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I scored the following used RPGs from Little Wars for a SONG:

- Mutants and Masterminds
- Wraith: The Oblivion
- Aeon limited edition
- Star Wars Core Rulebook ([personal profile] dhampyresa, do you want this? I'm happy to send it to you--it's Wizards of the Coast's d20 system)
- Mage: The Ascension (we may already have this BUT I DON'T CARE)
- Changeling Storyteller's Guide (now I just have to find the core book for Changeling)
- Wraith Player's Guide
- Battlefleet Gothic 2002 Annual (I looooooooove the aesthetic of the Battlefleet Gothic miniatures and am sorry I only own one, which is still unassembled in its blister pack)
- Earthdawn (I used to own this before my stepmother threw it out)
- Ars Magica (ditto)
- and a stray issue of Playboy July 1995 because it was sitting there lonely and I am easily amused

PLEASE, VAN, CONTINUE ACQUIRING AND SELLING USED RPGs. I WILL COME BUY THEM!!!

This is like Christmas.
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I've been interested in game design for some time, but when I started in elementary school, either there were no resources or they were hard to find. It was already hard to find books in English when I lived in South Korea. We did have Base access for a couple years while my dad was still in the Army, and then he left the Army to teach at Yonsei University and we lost Base access and, with it, access to the library. In any case, it would never have occurred to me to look for books on "game design." I don't think I heard of it as an area of study until college or possibly after. I spent a lot of high school trying to design a cockamamie chess variant, and I did read up on real chess variants (Chinese chess, Japanese chess, Burmese chess, etc.). It wasn't *good*, and the one time a couple friendly strangers over the internet volunteered to playtest it, they confirmed the ruleset wasn't any good, no doubt because I had devised the pieces' moves to be ~symbolic~ for storytelling purposes (it was worldbuilding for a fantasy novel) and I didn't know anything about board game design.

Since then I have made a point of reading books on game design when I can find them, and the occasional article on the web. While I have released a couple of small interactive fiction games (IFs) and the narrative game Winterstrike (Failbetter Games), I don't really consider myself a game designer. It's more in the nature of something I do on the side because I find it illuminating to consider alternate ways to approaching narrative; I think primarily as a writer of static fiction. And for the purposes of the hexarchate, it's research because I decided that one of the factions (the Shuos) abuses game design techniques in their pedagogy, and one of the characters (Jedao) is a gamer.

The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design, ed. Mike Selinker, is a collection of essays by various designers. I was originally going to read the book through and do a report on the book overall, but I liked the essays enough to do individual reports on some of them. cut for length )

Thank you to the person who donated this book!

(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2017 10:47 am
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee
An interview [Lightspeed Magazine] by Christian A. Coleman. Note that the interview mainly discusses Raven Stratagem, so there are spoilers for Ninefox Gambit. I also hint at what's coming in the third book, Revenant Gun.

[story] The Ghost and Its House

Jun. 27th, 2017 10:04 am
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)
[personal profile] yhlee
For P.H.
Prompt: "ghost consciousness."

The house had lain ruined for decades upon decades, quiescent at the edge of the town. Once, it was said, a fine family had dwelled there, wealthy at first, much given to parties and entertainments. The oldest people in the town still remembered the parties: the music of string quartets, and cakes decorated with spun-sugar ornaments, and couples dancing gaily through the night. But now none of the windows had glass in them anymore, save for a few sharded teeth, and the wind blew freely through the rooms where people had once gathered to gossip.

Nevertheless, the house was not entirely uninhabited. A ghost remained attached to the house, and it murmured to itself during the long winter nights, singing tuneless ghost-songs of the shapes that shadows make in the dark, and the sounds that mirrors make when no one is around to hear them, and footsteps in the distant wood. The ghost did not remember the name of the person it had been, once upon a time, but neither did this make it unhappy.

In time a pregnant cat moved into the house for the shelter it offered. The ghost did not remember much about cats, except that they liked cream, and it had no such thing to give the cat. But it had other things to offer. It encouraged the old closets to throw their doors open and disgorge their rotted linens so that the cat would have something to nest in, and it offered all house's hiding places, as well as the lullaby of the crooning wind.

For her part, the cat was a pragmatist. She did not share human prejudices against ghosts, and a ruined house was as good as any other place for her to raise kittens. She merely made sure that there were no raccoons or the like already occupying the place, and then she set to building her nest in earnest.

Cats are not the most talkative of folk, but this cat was friendlier than most. She asked the ghost why it lingered in the house, instead of going to its rest the way humans usually did. While she didn't always put credence in human stories, she had heard that ghosts usually stayed in the realm of the living because they had left some task unfinished.

The ghost said to the cat, "The only task is the task of the house itself. It was my home when I lived, and it remains my home in death."

"Then I am sorry I cannot help you," the cat said, dismayed in spite of the very pressing matter of the kittens she expected to arrive in a matter of days. "A human could help you restore the house, but I am a cat. I may have clever paws and whiskers, but they are no good for building."

The ghost's laughter gusted through the house, although it tried to keep the worst of the cold from the cat. "What do I care about restoration?" it said. "Perhaps once, when I had flesh, it would have mattered to me. But now I am a creature of shadows and dust and ash, and this house suits what I am now. I can keep it safe for you and your kittens. They can play in the house's halls and grow to adulthood without fear of being chased out by human owners; is that not enough?"

"If that is the case," the cat replied, "I shall gratefully accept your hospitality, and my kittens and I will keep your house free of mice."

"It is a very old bargain," the ghost said, "and if it suits you, it suits me."

Two days later, the kittens were born without fuss, or more fuss than the usual, anyway, and in the years to come, generations of cats made their home in the house. They probably live there still. As for the ghost, it has been busy adding the songs of cats to its repertoire. The result is noisy, but none of them mind.

Replica

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:40 pm
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)
[personal profile] yhlee
Jenna Black's Replica is a YA sf novel that I picked up from the library one-cent-a-book discard sale along with its sequel Resistance. I have just finished Replica and have not yet read Resistance, although I plan on getting to it soon. My verdict is that this is a good novel, but it could have been so much better.

I was attracted to Replica because clones and faux!amnesia are bulletproof narrative kinks for me. You have to work to foul those up for me. Here's the back cover copy:
Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake's marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in the Corporate States. She lives a life of privilege, even if she has to put up with paparazzi tracking her every move, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image--no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathaniel Hayes is the heir to the company that pioneered human replication: a technology that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Except he's more interested in sneaking around the seedy underbelly of the state formerly known as New York than he is in learning to run his future company or courting his bride-to-be. She's not exactly his type...not that he can tell anyone that.

But then Nate turns up dead, and Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn't know what--or rather, who--killed him.

Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

What's good: there's a lot packed into the premise. Nadia is genteelly raised, but far from spineless, and easy to sympathize with. Nate is a closeted gay man in a social class of a future society that strongly discourages homosexuality, and one of his major motivations is to protect his lower-class lover. And Nadia and Nate's friendship with its ups and downs is believable.

Neutral: the Executive class of elites allows women to inherit, but there's a behavioral double standard as to what men and women can get away with, which is why Nadia has to watch her every move so she doesn't cause scandals while Nate can act out all he wants. The narrative states that this is some kind of throwback to the nineteenth century (Western, presumably?). There isn't much explanation given for how this developed, but I've seen sillier setups in sf so I was willing to go along with it.

What's less good, without going into spoilers: As far as I can tell, the entire named cast minus one character (Chloe, a friend of Nadia's) is white. There is lip-service paid to Chloe feeling like an outcast because she's black, and then Chloe is very rapidly shuffled off-stage and we never hear from her again.

That's not actually my biggest complaint about the novel. My biggest complaint about the novel is that it has a lot of tense action and still never manages to punch hard enough. And I don't mean this in the social justice sense of punching down or sideways or diagonally or whateverthehell. I mean this in terms of narrative impact on the reader.

I can't discuss further without spoiling the whole thing, and I am really frustrated by the fact that this fairly good novel could have taken my favorite tropes and done them even better, so let's have a spoiler cut: Read more... )

*facepalm*

Jun. 26th, 2017 03:00 pm
yhlee: recreational (peaceful) tank (recreational tank)
[personal profile] yhlee
The moment where you see Microsoft Word's wordcount for the current story in progress saying "1701 Words" and think, Why is it 5:01 p.m.? I thought it was only 3 p.m.

The Intolerable Clock

Jun. 26th, 2017 12:58 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
Because there is not enough roleplaying in my life, and it's been entirely too long since I GM'd (The Black Wall, Shazrad: City of Veils, The Hidden General, etc.), I am opening The Intolerable Clock ([community profile] hexarchate_rpg), a non-canon freeform multiverse hexarchate RPG.

The hexarchate is a star-spanning polity of monstrosities small and great, where consensus reality is enforced not just by a rigid police state but by the ritual torture of "heretics" on state holidays. Lately it is not just wracked by internal dissent but by the discovery of rifts in time and space through which people from other worlds appear.

You are one of a hardy group of people--whether from the hexarchate (or heptarchate) itself, a foreign state, or another world in the multiverse entirely--who have gathered with the explicit goal of destroying the hexarchate by going back in time and preventing its creation, or otherwise seeding its destruction.

The question is, can you succeed before the hexarchate's agents catch on and eliminate you?

Interested? See the write-up for the guidelines and the character application! Hope to see some of y'all.

[hxx] [story] Hunting Trip

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:00 am
yhlee: fox with nine tails with eyes (hxx emblem Shuos)
[personal profile] yhlee
For [personal profile] metaphormorphosis.
Prompt: hexarchate, "red pandas."

(NOTE: I promise this has a happy ending for the red panda.)

"Zoo?" High General Garit said. "Really, Jedao?"

Jedao, who was driving the car, glanced sideways to assess Garit's expression, even though the high general's tone of voice told him everything he needed to know. Garit had invited him along on this damned trip to a hunting preserve because Garit was desperate to bag a gray tiger, and alongside his record with firearms, Jedao had made the mistake of letting drop that he had grown up hunting. Jedao had tried to point out that going after pesky deer and jackalopes was not the same as gray tigers. Garit had merely clapped him on the back and told him not to be so modest. Modesty had nothing to do with it. On top of the stupid expense per round, the recoil on the ammo that Jedao was going to have to use was proportionate to something with its stopping power, and he wasn't looking forward to the ache in his shoulder.

"Just for an hour or two," Jedao said coaxingly. "My mom and my siblings wanted me to send home some vacation photos. And I promised my nieces that I would bring them back some souvenirs, and maybe the zoo's shop will have some mounted skeletons or the like."

"You spoil those kids rotten," Garit said with a snort.

"What are uncles for?" Jedao said. One of the great regrets of his life was that his job kept him away from his family for long periods of time. The girls grew so fast. "Besides, the folks down at the shop might have some tips for hunters."

Garit shook his head, amused. "You're transparent, but all right."

The zoo was not particularly busy. The two of them were off-duty, and the young woman who told them about the zoo regulations either didn't recognize them or didn't care, which Jedao found congenial. Jedao persuaded Garit to come into the zoo proper so Jedao could snap some photos.

Jedao fiddled with the manual exposure, trying to get the black panther to show up in its cave. The camera had been a gift from his brother, and was practically an antique. Jedao was not especially gifted at taking pictures that pleased his family ("These look like reconnaissance photos, who cares about all this kill zone stuff when you're snapping pics of an engagement party?" his sister had once complained) so he had resolved to do better.

"That's the oddest damned fox I've ever seen," Garit said, pointing.

Jedao gave up on the exposure and settled for a muddled silhouette in the shadows. "Beg pardon?" he asked.

They strolled closer to the enclosure Garit had indicated to have a look. A reddish, bushy-tailed creature was taking a nap in the branches of a tree. Bamboo shoots sprouted not far away. Some of them looked like they'd been gnawed on.

"That's not a fox," Jedao said, reading the enclosure's label. "Red panda. Apparently they eat bamboo. And sometimes birds and things."

"It's kind of cute," Garit said grudgingly. "Doesn't look like much of a challenge, though."

Jedao thought that coddled zoo creatures were generally unlikely to be much challenge, but he didn't say anything that would give Garit the idea of adding another kind of animal to his wishlist for this trip. "My nieces will like it," he said, and raised his camera.

"We should catch you one to take home to them," Garit said.

Jedao made a face. "Have you ever looked at the customs forms for importing wildlife? I'm pretty sure these critters don't exist on my homeworld."

"Well, I'll look into expediting it as a favor to you if you can help me with my tiger problem," Garit said.

"That's very kind of you," Jedao said, as diplomatically as he could, "but my nieces are notoriously good at killing goldfish. Let's just leave the red pandas alone and go hit up the shop so I can buy bat skeletons or fox-eared hats or something, and we can head to the hunting grounds."
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
My first introduction to Cordwainer Smith was "The Game of Rat and Dragon," which I'm guessing (alongside "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell") is his most anthologized story based on nothing more than guesswork and the fact that, for years after that story, it was the only Smith I could find. (Admittedly, this was not helped by spending high school in South Korea. [1])

"The Game of Rat and Dragon" has stuck better in my memory, but at some point in college I was delighted to discover that there were more Instrumentality stories. The one that I remembered, years later, as being particularly interesting was "The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal." Peculiarly, I remembered that it had an unusual narrative structure/format, but not anything useful about its plot. Cue yesterday when I actually reread it, having checked out the posthumous collection When the People Fell from the library, and being bemused to discover that this story was almost certainly, before I ever heard of fanfic on the internet, my introduction to mpreg.

A spoilery discussion of the story follows beneath the cut.

[1] My high school library's sf/f holdings were very eclectic. They had a couple decades' worth of Analog under Stanley Schmidt. I read every page of every issue available, and remain fond of the zine although I have not read it in over a decade. They also had old classics like John Wyndham's Re-Birth, amusing curiosities like a litcrit book on the best fantasy novels by Michael Moorcock (possibly with a co-author; I no longer remember) in which he immodestly listed his own Stormbringer, a number of old Nebula anthologies, and a copy of Harlan Ellison's (ed.) Dangerous Visions that I read two or three or four times before someone else stole it or, more charitably, checked it out and lost it. (Years later, I still think Philip José Farmer's "Riders of the Purple Wage" was insufferably boring, and Delany's "Aye, and Gomorrah" makes zero sense when you are barely aware of what sex is.) They had Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, which is where I encountered them. On the other hand, the librarians were very friendly, and for a number of years, because my sister and I were the only ones who made use of the request box, we pretty much got them to buy whatever we wanted to read for the year.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:40 am
yhlee: voidmoth with starry wings in a triangle (hxx emblem Nirai)
[personal profile] yhlee
Which faction of the hexarchate are you? [Solaris Books].

A quiz! I get Nirai...?!

[hxx] [story] Squirrel-Fishing

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:29 pm
yhlee: fox with nine tails with eyes (hxx emblem Shuos)
[personal profile] yhlee
For A.B.
Prompt: "Shuos pranks."

with apologies to the black squirrels of Stanford University campus

Jedao and Ruo had set up shop at the edge of one of the campus gardens, the one with the carp pond and the carefully maintained trees. Rumor had it that some of the carp were, in addition to being over a hundred years old, outfitted with surveillance gear. Like most Shuos cadets, Jedao and Ruo would, if questioned, laugh off the rumors while secretly believing in them wholeheartedly--at least the bit about surveillance gear. Jedao had argued that the best place to hide what they were doing was in plain sight. After all, who would be so daft as to run a prank right next to surveillance?

"Lovely day, isn't it?" Ruo said brightly.

Jedao winced. "Not so loud," he said. His head was still pounding after last night's excesses, and the sunlight wasn't helping. Why did he keep letting Ruo talk him into things? It wasn't just that Ruo was really good in bed. He had this way of making incredibly risky things sound fun. Going out drinking? In itself, not that bad. Playing a drinking game with unlabeled bottles of possibly-alcohol-possibly-something-else stolen from Security's hoard of contraband? Risky. Some of those hallucinations had been to die for, though, especially when he started seeing giant robots in the shape of geese.

Fortunately, this latest idea wasn't that risky. Probably. Besides, of the many things that the other cadets had accused Jedao of, low risk tolerance wasn't one of them.

"Not my fault you can't hold your drink," Ruo said, even more brightly.

"I'm going to get you one of these days," Jedao muttered.

Ruo's grin flashed in his dark brown face. "More like you'll lose the latest bet and--" He started describing what he'd do to Jedao in ear-burning detail.

At last one of the other first-years, puzzled by what Jedao and Ruo were doing by the carp pond with a pair of fishing poles, approached. Jedao recognized them: Meurran, who was good at fixing guns despite their terrible aim, and who had a glorious head of wildly curling hair. "Security's not going to approve of you poaching the carp," Meurran said.

"Oh, this isn't for the carp," Ruo said. He flicked his fishing pole, and the line with its enticing nut snaked out toward one of the trees.

Meurran gave Ruo a funny look. "Ruo," they said, "the fish are in the opposite direction."

"Please," Jedao said, "who cares about the fish? No one has anything to fear from the fish. That's just nonsense."

"All right," Meurran said, sounding distinctly unimpressed, "then what?"

Come on, Jedao thought, the nut is right there...

As if on cue, a black squirrel darted down from the tree, then made for the nut.

Ruo tugged the nut just out of reach.

The black squirrel looked around, then headed for the nut again.

"Oh, isn't that adorable?" Meurran said.

"Don't be fooled!" Ruo said as he guided the squirrel in a figure-eight through the grass. "Why would the commandant be so stupid as to rely on carp, which can't even leave their pond?"

Meurran glanced involuntarily at the pond, where two enormous carp were lazily circling near the surface, as if the carp, in fact, had a habit of oozing out onto the land and spying on lazy cadets. "You're saying the squirrels--?"

Ruo continued to cause the squirrel to chase after the nut. "It makes sense, doesn't it? Everyone thinks the black squirrels are the cutest. They're even featured in the recruitment literature. Damnably clever piece of social engineering if you ask me."

Meurran was starting to look persuaded in spite of themselves.

Meanwhile, as Ruo made his case, Jedao leaned back and studied the squirrel with a frown. The local population of black squirrels was mostly tame to begin with and had proven to be easy to train with the aid of treats. (Ruo had made Jedao do most of this, "because you're the farm boy.") But while Ruo and Meurran argued about squirrel population dynamics, Jedao caught a slight flash from behind the squirrel's eyes--almost like that of a camera?

He opened his mouth to interrupt.

The squirrel made an odd convulsing motion, and the light flashed again, this time directly into Jedao's eyes.

Jedao closed his mouth, and kept his thoughts to himself.

fountain pens!

Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:38 pm
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
I did an essay for Tor.com, The Beauty of Physical Writing, on fountain pens! There's a photo of some of my fountain pens over there.

From left to right, for the curious: Waterman 52V, Webster Four-Star, Scriptorium Pens Master Scrivener in Red Stardust, Conway Stewart Churchill in Red Stardust, Aurora 75th Anniversary, Nakaya Naka-ai in aka-tamenuri, Wahl-Eversharp Doric in Kashmir with #3 adjustable nib, and Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight.

Meanwhile, I swear I am writing flash fic right now. This caffeine is taking an unholy amount of time to kick in...

an IMPORTANT question

Jun. 21st, 2017 04:04 pm
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
Poll #18516 trying to cheer myself up from rain/flood watch/tornado watch/tropical storm
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 34


If I were to attempt CHEESECAKE [0] pinup art of a hexarchate character for lulz, it should be

View Answers

Nirai Kujen
17 (50.0%)

Shuos Jedao
17 (50.0%)

Kel Cheris [1]
6 (17.6%)

Andan Tseya
3 (8.8%)

Shuos Khiaz
1 (2.9%)

someone else I will name in comments
1 (2.9%)

ticky the EXTREMELY DISAPPROVING tocky
2 (5.9%)



[0] May or may not feature CHEESY partial nudity.

[1] The incomparable [personal profile] telophase once did me a sketch of blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret because I kept joking that I would get a cover featuring blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret. (Hexarchate AU...?!)

(In real life, I'm working on an art assignment...ahahahahaha.)

(Dear Louisiana: PLEASE STOP RAINING. At least it isn't downpouring enough that I feel that I have to pack for emergency evacuation, it's just raining drearily, but...)

quick rec

Jun. 19th, 2017 06:19 pm
yhlee: (SKU: Anthy/Utena (credit: sher))
[personal profile] yhlee
Kat Howard's "The Key to St. Medusa's" [Lightspeed Magazine] is a gorgeous story about witches, and found family, and the hope at the heart of a fairytale:
My parents knew I was a witch before I was born. The signs were there, they told me. They were unmistakable.

Well. Not all of the signs, or they never would have kept me as long as they did. But enough: My mother’s hair, previously sedate and well-mannered, turned curly and wild during her pregnancy, sometimes even grabbing forks from other people’s hands at meals. Clocks ran backward when she went near them, and thirteen grey cats took up residence in our front yard for the last month before I was born.

Also, I was born on a Tuesday.

I loved this from beginning to end. It's a pretty fast read (under 4,000 words), in lucid candle-language. Give it a try.

[Note to the pedantic: my "books" tag is for stories as well because I am lazy and bad at tagging.]

RAVEN STRATAGEM open thread

Jun. 19th, 2017 05:27 pm
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee
Since it seems that some people have finished the book.

Ask questions! Discuss! Complain!

Expect there to be spoilers in comments.
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
anything so long as I don't have to keep typing "all units banner the Deuce of Gears"

Poll #18510 Hexarchate Stories
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 34


I am most interested in the following possible new stories in a hexarchate short collection

View Answers

Jedao backstory when he was growing up with his family
10 (29.4%)

what happened to Jedao's sister Nidana after Hellspin
21 (61.8%)

Jedao backstory when he was serving with the Kel
16 (47.1%)

what happens to Cheris after everything, with bonus math pedagogy
26 (76.5%)

how Kel Ragath got Up to Things
6 (17.6%)

gay romance on the Citadel of Eyes ([redacted]/Niath) with bonus angst
10 (29.4%)

the misadventures of Andan Zhe Navo during her first military assignment
14 (41.2%)

the founding of the heptarchate feat. Liozh and Kel
8 (23.5%)

mini-gamebook about Jedao and his first anchor (actually, you're getting this regardless)
11 (32.4%)

Nirai Mahar's backstory
3 (8.8%)

follow-up on Tseya vs. Mikodez
6 (17.6%)

Moroish Nija's training
3 (8.8%)

Mikodez's rise to power, feat. Zehun
16 (47.1%)

ticky the talky tocky
7 (20.6%)

something else I will suggest in comments
0 (0.0%)



ETA: If it helps, the mini-gamebook will also feature snarky commentary from Mikodez and Zehun.

[hxx] [story] Birthdays

Jun. 19th, 2017 04:10 pm
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
[personal profile] yhlee
For JT.
Prompt: hexarchate, "birth dates."

When she was six, Cheris stopped receiving Mwennin birthday pastries.

For reasons that wouldn't become clear to her until much later, her parents had just moved out of the Mwennin ghetto in the City of Ravens Feasting and to a small house nearer the sea. Cheris missed their old home, even though it had been smaller, and she also missed the other Mwennin children who gathered in the streets to skip rope, or play tag, or chant the counting games that were so risky in the hexarchate. But the new house wasn't all bad. It had a garden, and Cheris liked to chase the dragonflies or pick flowers for her mother and father.

Her mother had impressed upon her that she had two birthdays. One of them was the ordinary birthday that all hexarchate citizens shared. Everyone (so her mother said) was a year old when they were born, for the time spent either in womb or crèche, and then they added another year each New Year. This way no one's birthday was singled out.

But the Mwennin did it differently. They had their own calendar, which Cheris had memorized. Most nights her mother made her go to bed early so that she wouldn't be too tired in the morning when she had school. But sometimes her mother let her stay up, not to play make-believe with her collection of plush dragon toys or read a book, but to study the Mwennin calendar and its feast-days.

Cheris was very good at numbers, and very good at both the high calendar and the Mwennin calendar. Even after she'd gone to bed, she'd lay awake in the darkness, staring at the comforting candlevines that glowed faintly from the walls. Her mother and father always made sure to turn them down low, but not too low, so she wouldn't have to be afraid of the shadow-monsters that lived in the closet. Her teacher at school had assured her that, yes, meditation, especially during remembrances, would keep away the shadow-monsters, but when she repeated this to her parents, their faces turned sad, so she didn't talk about that anymore.

Because she was very good at calendars, she had a hard time falling asleep the night before her Mwennin birthday. Back in the old neighborhood, on your birthday, people would bring you pastries of fine flaky dough with sweet almond paste and rosewater syrup, or little kumquat candies, goat's milk caramels with little crunchy flecks of pistachios. And after dark, in the safety of your home, people would gather and sing songs in archaic Mwen-dal. Cheris liked the songs best of all, even if she stumbled over some of the words, because she had a clear, sweet voice and the adults always complimented her on how well she stayed in tune.

Her parents woke her early the next morning. She blinked up blearily at the pale morning light filtering through the curtains, then sat up in glee, thinking of the gifts that were to come. Then she noticed the looks on her parents' faces. They'd had the same ones when she said the teacher had encouraged her to meditate.

Cheris's father took her hands between his, then looked at Cheris's mother.

"Cheris," her mother said, "we can't celebrate your Mwennin birthday anymore. Do you understand? It's too risky."

Cheris didn't understand.

"You can have an extra dessert tonight," her mother went on. "But there will be no more Mwennin birthdays. Not for any of us."

Cheris snuffled.

Cheris's mother circled her with her arms. "We'll go for a walk by the shore when I get out of work," she said. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Cheris sensed that her mother was even more upset than she was, and her mother didn't even like sweets. At least, she always gave her sweets to Cheris. "I'm all right," she said, because she wanted to be brave for her mother. "Can we have extra pastries on New Year's instead?"

There was a catch in her mother's voice. "Of course, my dear."

Cheris still wasn't sure why her mother was upset. True, she had hoped for something nice to eat today, but if she had the same number of pastries in total over the course of the year, it was basically the same. It wasn't so important what day she got to eat them.

And her mother was as good as her promise. Every New Year after that, up until Cheris left for Kel Academy, there were extra pastries.
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
[personal profile] yhlee
I just typed, instead of "fine flaky dough," "fine flaky doe."

I never used to make stupid errors like this, but I am informed that the meds I'm on can screw with cognition and memory. :/
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
(I normally react violently negatively to people telling me what to read, haha, but here I cannot decide!)

What I went to the library to check out: Batman and Psychology. It was missing from the shelves of the main branch but the nice librarian put a copy on hold for me from one of the other branches, so I'll get to pick it up in a few days.

What I came away with from the one-cent-per-book discard sale:

- Replica and Resistance by Jenna Black. Casual perusal of the back cover suggests there is a replica with missing memories from his original who has been murdered PLEASE DON'T SUCK I eat this particular trope up with SPOONS.

- Gail Carriger's Curtsies and Conspiracies, Waistcoats and Weaponry, and Manners and Mutiny, books 2-4 of Finishing School; I will have to obtain book 1 somehow (I think someone else beat me to it at the discard sale). I don't even CARE if they're any good, those are fab titles, and at one cent per book it's hard to argue.--It turns out the library has book 1, Etiquette and Espionage, on Overdrive, so I could theoretically start it whenever I wanted to.

- David Marusek's Getting to Know You, a short story collection--the name sounds familiar but I can't place it. Anyway, I'll try the short stories and who knows? Maybe I'll enjoy them. Again, at one cent, not a huge loss if it's not for me after all.

- And finally, THE BEST FIND (well, other than CLONE AMNESIA, which is always Relevant To My Interests): America's Maritime Heritage by Eloise Engle & Arnold S. Lott, ©1975 by the United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland. I am dying of curiosity and also, I suck at all naval history that is not the Imjin War, so even a flawed--even a jingoistic--textbook will be interesting.

Poll #18507 What should I read first?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 35


Which book(s) from my library haul should I read first?

View Answers

David Marusek's GETTING TO KNOW YOU
0 (0.0%)

Engle & Lott's AMERICA'S MARITIME HERITAGE
11 (31.4%)

Gail Carriger's ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE
16 (45.7%)

Jenna Black's REPLICA
11 (31.4%)

ticky the tacky tocky!
6 (17.1%)



ETA: Feel free to elaborate on your votes in comments! =)

meep

Jun. 18th, 2017 08:21 pm
vampwillow: a barcode (barcode)
[personal profile] vampwillow
It's too easy for me to get upset with myself. Take today - there were two things happening that I'd have liked to go along to, one a few roads away, the other immediately outside my window, yet instead I've stayed in my room trying to hold it together.

Somehow I find self-confidence easy to come by when I'm in a 'work' situation - whether actual employment or voluntary and committee stuff - but put me into a social event where I don't know everyone and I go to pieces, just scared of saying or doing the wrong thing, being the target of "fun", finding myself hurting when I can't run away. So I don't go there in the first place, instead (like this afternoon) looking out the window at everyone else enjoying themselves in the sun.

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