Most Memorable Stories of the Past Decade

Books & Mags, Geek out!

So far this year, I’ve seen a number of posts listing the best books of the past decade. For example, the Boston Public Library has a top ten fantasy novels and a top ten sci-fi novels list, and Adri and Joe list their best books at Nerds of the Feather. And of course, the definition of best varies enormously from site to site and writer to writer. The point, though, is to talk about books. 🙂

Here’s my take on the “best of” list – the most memorable stories of the past ten years. And I’ll tell you upfront that I’m going to cheat: instead of listing a dozen or so monographs, I’m including groups of books when appropriate.

 

Katherine Addison: The Goblin Emperor. The way an abused minor relative dismissed to the edges of the realm claims the throne and becomes an emperor who believes in himself is beautifully described.

Current Reading 2x Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers: ALL of it! The Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet; A Closed and Common Orbit; Record of a Spaceborn Few; To Be Taught, If Fortunate. I just LOVE her humanity-affirming style.

Thoraiya Dyer: Titan’s Forest series (so far I own Crossroads of Canopy and Echoes of Understorey). I don’t really care about the people, but the forest is so astounding it might as well be a major character in the story! (Note to self: Get Tides of the Titans.)

Jim C. Hines: Libriomancer. I wasn’t quite as grabbed by the sequels, but this one contains a scene so out of this world (literally!) that it got me to sit bolt upright in my armchair (when Isaac took the automaton to the moon).

N.K. Jemisin: The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun. I had heard good things about TKM long before picking it up; I kept resisting it because of the title – at the time I was so, so, SO tired of dystopias and violence in my fiction. I wish I could remember why I decided to pick it up, though; whatever it was, I’m thankful, for Jemisin immediately became by favorite living author.

Mary Robinette Kowal: The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky. These surprised me, since I really am not interested in 1950s and 60s. At all!

Yoon Ha Lee‘s Machineries of the Empire series (Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem and Revenant Gun) is so different from anything I’ve read before. I’m lagging behind in my reading, though, and haven’t yet gotten to the third book. Bad me! (Note to self: Check whether I already bought it or not!)

Likitalo Waning Moon Duology

Leena Likitalo‘s historical fantasy duology The Five Daughters of the Moon and The Sisters of the Crescent Empress were loosely inspired by a setting that I find completely uninteresting (end of the Romanov family and revolution in Russia), but the books proved I should keep an open mind.

Karin Lowachee: Warchild. Shifting alliances and survival story extraordinaire. Without gore.

Emma Newman‘s Planetfall series: Planetfall, After Atlas, Before Mars and Atlas Alone. Which author has the gumption to destroy a planet and stay around to see what it does to people?

Nnedi Okorafor: Who Fears Death. It was part of my 21 Authors reading project, and even though I like the Binti trilogy more, there’s no denying that WFD has serious staying power.

Mike Pohjola: Ihmisen poika. Autobiographical fiction that also includes some of the history of introducing larping to Finland. Note: Mike is a friend, and there’s also a reference to me, well-veiled but there. 🙂

Current Reading All Systems Red Artifical Condition

Martha Wells‘s Murderbot diaries (so far published are All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy, with full-length novel Network Effect forthcoming this year). The series is all-round excellent, but Murderbot really is the best grumpy, conscientious, self-preservation-centered protagonist there is. (Note to self: Must. Read. Again. Soon!)

 

Also, I unfortunately had to skip a couple of books like A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz or Kelley Eskridge’s Solitaire, either because they aren’t novels or I came to them too late.

What would you pick and why?

Tardis Dress Is Bigger on the Inside, Too

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers, Geek out!, Stunt Double

Take a look at this absolutely brilliant Tardis dress:

Tumblr May Yet Tardis Dress Collage

May Yet on Tumblr; collage by Eppu Jensen

It was made in 2018 by May Yet for a friend to wear at the Tokyo Comic Con. Sadly, the original post where I found it is now gone, but Yet wrote a new post where they give a bit more info and show new photos.

The dress is so gorgeous you could also wear it for semi-formal, non-geeky events. The absolutely best feature is that IT’S BIGGER ON THE INSIDE! Aaaaah! 😀

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Blast from the Past: MacGyver Is Now on DVD

Geek out!, Movies & TV

Whoa – the 1980s tv series MacGyver is now available on DVD. I had no idea! Husband and I’ve been borrowing it through the local library.

MacGyver Season 2 DVD

Technically we’re both rewatching it, although neither of us remembers much, just details or perhaps a line from time to time. There’s quite a shocking amount of action – shooting, fisticuffs and various vehicle chases – that I apparently completely bypassed as a thing when I was a kid. Fortunately, that’s not the point of the series: MacGyver is all about problem solving and finding inventive uses for everyday items, and Mac himself famously hates guns.

The first season has some inconsistencies, but once they got the character and the rest of the cast figured out, MacGyver settled into a generally considerate and polite, sensitive male action hero model. (There are some glaring deviations which may be due to rotating writers; I don’t know.)

Although the marketing copy on the second season DVD cover really makes me crack up: “His mind is the ultimate weapon.” (Can you imagine a deep, sonorous male voice reading the line!) LOL! 😀

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Celebrating International Women’s Day with a Captain Marvel Viewing

Geek out!, Movies & TV

March 08 is International Women’s Day. Very appropriately, we are celebrating by going to see Captain Marvel!

IMDB Captain Marvel Eyes Horizontal

Marvel Studios via IMDB.

I’m hoping it’ll be as awesome as the trailers look!

To the people complaining that this version of Marvel is too political and therefore massively off-putting, I have only one thing to say.

(Long post warning.)

Congrats: Black Panther Wins Three Oscars!

Geek out!, Movies & TV, Thumbs Up

Black Panther won three Oscars at the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday!

Ruth Carter – so, so deservedly! – won the Achievement in Costume Design, Sweden’s Ludwig Göransson won the Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score), and the Achievement in Production Design went to Hannah Beachler (Production Design) and Jay Hart (Set Decoration).

Instagram The Academy Ruth Carter w Oscar 2019

Ruth Carter with her Oscar. The Academy on Instagram.

My warmest congratulations to all the BP winners! Keep on busting down that glass ceiling!

New to Me: The Tempestry Project Knits Climate Data into Textiles

Arts & Crafts, Colors, Geek out!, Stunt Double, This Is Important

Justin and Marissa Connelly co-founded the Tempestry Project with Emily McNeil to save temperature data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Their twist: depicting the data not numerically but as colorful knits.

Etsy Tempestry Project Yarn Medford MA

Tempestry Project on Etsy.

Emily McNeil describes the project:

“One of the ongoing problems inherent in discussions about climate change is the vast scale of the conversation. The Tempestry Project’s goal is to scale this down into something tangible, relatable, accurate, and beautiful.

“The Tempestry Project blends fiber art with temperature data to create a bridge between global climate and our own personal experiences through knitted or crocheted temperature tapestries, or ‘Tempestries.’ Each Tempestry represents the daily high temperature for a given year and location, all using the same yarn colors and temperature ranges.”

 

Etsy Tempestry Project Deception Pass WA

25 years of daily temperature for Deception Pass, WA, ranging from 1948 (top left) to 2016 (bottom right). Tempestry Project on Etsy.

What a great idea – I love the color ranges as pure visuals for one, but it’s also a fascinating way to turn numbers into a tangible item. Not to mention that I love knits!

Now I’m starting to wonder whether we night have similar data for Finland – I might want to make one for the city of my birth then and now.

Visit the Tempestry Project on their website, on Ravelry and on Etsy.

Found via Mary Anne Mohanraj on Twitter.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

On the Visual Design of Birnin Zana, Wakanda’s Capitol

Design & Designers, Geek out!, Movies & TV

All the “best of 2018” movie lists I’ve seen remind of how much I loved Black Panther. So, I’m stealing an early start to the Martin Luther King Day weekend and reading about the design of Wakanda’s capitol city.

It’s called Birnin Zana and nicknamed the Golden City, although neither name appears in the movie. The Birnin Zana we see on the screen is the creation of the movie’s production designer, Hannah Beachler.

In a CityLab interview with Nicole Flatow, Beachler recounts her starting point:

“You know what’s keeping us together: the connectivity of people, not the connectivity of users. We’re not users; we’re people, but we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re users,” she said. “So I took all of that, and I just chucked it out of Wakanda, because the people were the most important thing about it, and we’re forgetting it. And I think that’s why people responded to Wakanda on this massive level: people.”

CityLab Marvel Studios Wakandan Street View

Marvel Studios; via CityLab.

The first impression of Birnin Zana is of course the skyscrapers, but if you look closely, there is water and ample greenery, too. The skyscrapers don’t seem to block the light too badly either.

Wired Marvel Studios City from Above

Marvel Studios; via Wired.

And if you really look, you can see greenery both in and on the buildings.

fxguide Marvel Studios Royal Landing Pad

Marvel Studios; via fxguide.

Vanity Fair Marvel Studios City Concept

Marvel Studios; via Vanity Fair.

Ahh! Nice.

Many of the building shapes hark back to traditional African aesthetics; also the surface detailing is rich and striking. In an interview with Collider, Beachler talks about the influences for her work:

“I started poking around and looking at really modern architects who have designed in Africa, all over Africa, east and west Africa. And someone who I really fell in love with was Zaha Hadid, who has passed away, but she is one of the foremost architects. So I started looking at her. Her architecture is very voluptuous and very flowing, very organic. So I thought this would be good. And the more I started digging into Senegal and Nigeria and finding things, while not necessarily futuristic-looking, very modern in their sensibilities as far as the way they’re putting together their elements and the colors that they use. I was struck by that. So I took a lot of that in. And a lot of it does come from Nigeria. I think in Kenya, Uganda, Johannesburg was another one, where no matter where you go, you really do see that they’re always keeping in mind the tradition.”

Los Angeles Times Marvel Studios City Concept Low-Built Area

Film Frame / Marvel Studios; via Los Angeles Times.

Collider Marvel Studios Wakanda City Concept

Marvel Studios; via Collider.

Beachler also created a 500-page “Wakanda Bible” for the actors to study, including the history of Golden City and names for all the buildings. The records hall held special meaning for her:

“Because [Wakanda residents] know everything about their past”—a privilege that real-world African Americans don’t have—“and [that] will never go away again in this city.

“I felt that way because I never knew my history. I didn’t know my ancestry, I didn’t know how far back it went …That was truly the most important thing to me. I don’t have that, but I could give it here in this fantastical world.”

I wish we got to see it, but I don’t think we do. (If you’ve spotted the records hall, let me know!)

Anyway; gorgeous through and through, isn’t it?

Now, I’m a city girl and have been almost my entire life. However, my concept of a city is different: all urban areas back home are typically so roomily built I’ve heard that if we were to follow some particular EU directive the whole country of Finland wouldn’t have a single city. (No idea whether that’s true, though.) Add my introversion to the difference in our respective urban population densities, and I suspect I would need a lot of alonetime were it possible for me to visit the Golden City.

Other than that, I LOVE everything we see: Color! Fantastic public transit (maglev trains, streetcars), but with people and their needs (and not cars) clearly at the focus. Traditional crafts and art that live very comfortably next to high-tech. Street vendors of almost every stripe – especially the food vendors make my mouth water every time I see them.

I do wish we could have a real-world Wakanda, for many reasons, the fabulous design being just one.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

WoW’s Dalaran Cupola Library vs. Real Round Libraries

Games, Geek out!, Stunt Double

I was browsing my WoW screencaps for something entirely different when my eye fell on two shots from the Dalaran inscription trainer’s place. (This is in the Legion version of Dalaran.) Both are actually from inside the book-filled cupola: the first looks up towards the impossibly high ceiling, the second down towards the trainers’ room floor.

WoW Dalaran Inscription Tr Book Dome2 Sm

Screencap from the Dalaran inscription trainer’s place in World of Warcraft.

WoW Dalaran Inscription Tr Book Dome Sm

Screencap from the Dalaran inscription trainer’s place in World of Warcraft.

Neat, right? Well, I wondered whether anyone’s actually done anything similar for real and hit the Internet. And I found some!

 

Stockholm Public Library in Stockholm, Sweden

The functionalist stadsbibliotek was designed by Gunnar Asplund and opened in 1928.

Flickr Marcus Hansson Stockholm Public Library

Marcus Hansson on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

 

Round Reading Room in the Maughan Library, King’s College London in London, UK

The Round Reading Room of Maughan Library, the main university library of King’s College London, can be found on the Strand Campus.

Wikimedia Kings College London Maughan Lib Round Reading Room Sm

Colin via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

 

Picton Reading Room in Liverpool, UK

The Picton Reading Room, completed in 1879, is now part of the Liverpool Central Library.

Flickr Terry Kearney Liverpool Central Library Picton Reading Room

Terry Kearney on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

 

A home in Toronto, Ontario

Designed by Katherine Newman and Peter Cebulak, this two-level library is in a private residence in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Architectural Digest Toronto Ontario Home

Tony Soluri via Architectural Digest.

 

The Octagon Room, Islamic Studies Library at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The library is situated in the neo-Gothic Morrice Hall building that previously housed the Presbyterian College of Montreal from 1871 to 1961.

McGill Islamic Studies Library Klaus Fiedler Sm

Klaus Fiedler, McGill Library.

 

None of them are exactly the same as the game library cupola, of course: apart from the the scale of the rooms, the scale and direction of the bookcases might differ. But apparently it isn’t terribly far-fetched to make a round multi-storey library and pack it chock-full. 😀

Images: Stockholm Public Library by Marcus Hansson on Flickr (CC BY 2.0). Round Reading Room of Maughan Library by Colin via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0). Picton Reading Room by Terry Kearney on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0). Toronto home by Tony Soluri via Architectural Digest. Islamic Studies Library at McGill by Klaus Fiedler, McGill Library.

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

A Pompom Solar System

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Geek out!, Stunt Double

Love this – Lisa Tilse at We Are Scout turned our solar system into a pompom mobile:

We Are Scout Lisa Tilse Pompom Solar System

Lisa Tilse at We Are Scout.

So clever! The blue and green Earth is the best, closely followed by Saturn with its rings and the colorful Jupiter.

Visit her site for the tutorial.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.