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[personal profile] ashnistrike
Apparently the last time I posted a media consumption review, I got all the way up to July 2012.  It's been a pretty busy few months.  More on that in a later post that will hopefully actually happen.  In the meanwhile, here are the most interesting things that I read in the 2nd half of 2012, made easier by the fact that the Great Big Work Project has eaten enough spoons to send me into rereading mode for much of the winter.

Debt: The First Five Thousand Years by David Graber.  Highly recommended by [ profile] papersky, with a link to this outtake on the origins of money and the myth of barter (also orgies)--if you like that, you'll like the book.  I "read" this in audio format, on a 2.5 day solo road trip, and need to reread it in print so that I can, as I wished, stop every few paragraphs and give Graber's ideas the pondering they deserve.  Graber is unabashedly on the side of Occupy in his considered opinions of money, debt, and the overall stability of the economic system.  Nevertheless, my stream of consciousness for much of the book was "Oh, that's bullshit.  Wait, give me a moment to explain why your conclusions are wr--whoa!  You're kidding.  I never knew that.  Oh, that's bullshit.  But this next bit makes so much sense..."  And I need to go back at my own pace and think more carefully about things like
  • whether capitalism inherently requires exploitation--I don't think so, but have to admit my opinion on the matter is entirely theoretical.  And on the other hand, as opposed to what other system our species has managed to practice without falling into exploitation
  • the practical implications of Graber's "human economies" and their connection to the origins of money and sexism.
  • why we don't have more trade conferences formatted as orgies.
  • the perfectly gorgeous rant on how our culture sees debt as a moral failing, and believes firmly that no one should ever spend money on other than very basic foodstuffs and rent while a giant bank has legal claim on their money, "and yet" (I paraphrase) poor people will continue to insist on getting married, entertaining their friends, and otherwise binding themselves into communities of support even when these things cost money.  How dare they?  (And if that sounds quite a lot like the current arguments about whether the U.S., as a country, ought to fulfill our social obligations to each other even though we have a massive national debt...)
Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson.  As I mentioned in my last book review post, I bounce so hard off of cyberpunk because the cyberpunk internet is boringPattern Recognition is the father of cyberpunk recognizing that, and writing a cyberpunk book that takes place entirely in the real world of discussion boards and obsessive fandoms and the basic faith that beautiful things are waiting out there for those who are really good at using search engines and sharing information.

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold.  The newest book in the Vorkosigan series, except that this one as the title implies is a Vorpatril book instead.  And we get to see the inside of Ivan's head, and outsiders' views of his political connections, and confirm how much of his "idiot" persona is protective camouflage.  This book is, in fact, my favorite since A Civil Campaign:  an exploration of everything that marriage is about other than the first flush of obsessive, heart-pounding emotion and the thrill of will-she-or-won't-she courting.  And a very full exploration, ranging from the comfortable confidence of being with a well-known partner, to the biological imperative for children, to political alliance, to the building of connections between families suddenly bound together.  And beyond that, it's a book about how you don't have to be Miles or Ekaterin, don't have to be a genius or wildly, outlandishly talented, to have and deserve a happy ending.

Permanence, by Karl Schroeder.  Recommended by [ profile] papersky, with the promise that it did right all the things that my last Schroeder did wrong.  And she was correct--this book not only contains women who talk to each other about something other than men, but explores its grand-scale worldbuilding in a way that properly gets into the human implications and the relationships between people as well as worlds.  It manages to do both--it's actually very noticeably in conversation with Vinge's Zones of Thought books.  Like those books (and especially A Deepness in the Sky), it's interested in how you can keep distant worlds connected at sublight speeds, and what, if anything, allows for the long-term preservation of civilization.  Where the Zones books believe that ultimately, faster than light travel is the only thing that will permit such preservation, Permanence takes the opposite tack--that limits on the speed with which a civilization can move are better for it long-term.  My stream of consciousness for this book was not all that far off the one for Debt--an enjoyable book to read, but also an interesting one to argue with.

On-line fiction: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality continues to come out, however slowly, and continues to be a wonderful alternate take on Rowling's world that apparently appeals to scads of people who are not actually cognitive psychologists.  The world needs more cognitive psychology fanfic.  (And yes, I've read Luminosity.  And its sequel.  Several times.)  Shadow Unit continues to be the best tv show that I can't get a box set of, and is starting to get some really interesting places with its premise.  The polar opposite of the X-Files, in that the authors clearly know exactly what's happening and are eventually going to give us answers worth waiting for.

Music:  Talis Kimberley's Queen of Spindles is out, and she has finally found her balance between activism, fantasy ballad, and perfect songs about the joys of homesteading.  Years ago she wrote a song called "Looking for Jack," about a desperate dryad whose tree was isolated on a highway meridian, trying to find Jack-in-the-Green so she could survive.  On the new album, "Green Places" is about gardens and, "If you're looking for Jack then you'll find him in all the green places."  Even the ones that are constrained or created by humans.  Less dramatic desperation, and more quiet work making the world a better place.

New Media Created:  Little bits on both novels: My Obsession With the Field Museum Let Me Show You It and Transhuman Starving Artists Raise a Family (note: not real titles).  Also a short story written in one evening on a prompt from [ profile] aspenwolf.  As of January 1st, I am back on the Novel in 90 discipline and making some serious progress on My Obsession With the Field Museum.

I sold two sestinas in 2012.  "Pantheon" is out in the January issue of Starline.  (And for my few readers who will know what this means, this is officially the first published bit from the Changewinds universe.  Apparently no context is necessary to appreciate it, though.)

Stats for the year:

Books Read: 52--busy year in many other ways.  Nine non-fiction, and three fiction that weren't SF or fantasy (assuming you count the Gibson).  Thirteen rereads.  Nine new-to-me authors, of which Tim Pratt is far and away my favorite discovery.  Three books thrown against the wall.  Only one book marked as failing the Bechdel test all year (the intensely disappointing Wicked Gentlemen).  Either I'm getting better at picking out books with girls in, or skilled authors are more likely these days to avoid that particular failure mode. 

Music: 4 new albums. Genres include modern classical, folk rock, whatever the hell Grey Eye Glances are, and activist filk.

Movies: Apparently... zero.

TV: A little bit of Doctor Who and Criminal Minds.

Other:  A reading party for Love's Labours Lost, and a slightly dubious production of Cymbeline, which is a slightly dubious play to begin with.
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