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Big Google.

Okay, so… on the one hand this is a decent look at the extent of Google’s creepy data profiling business. Which… sweet.

On the other, it starts with this:

When lazy journalists are pessimistic about Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, they say stuff like: “Even Orwell couldn’t have predicted that we’d willingly bring Big Brother into our own homes.”

And I’m not sure exactly how ironic this is supposed to be because, um actually? Orwell did predict that. Like, he literally predicted that; it tends to get missed in most of the pop culture understanding of 1984, but the telescreen is a consumer good. That is, Party members buy them and voluntarily install them in their homes. Remember the antiques store guy whose house Winston camps at has an offhand comment about how he doesn’t own one because he never bought one, and it’s mentioned in the book that most proles (non-Party members) don’t have them at all? Like, it’s not the most obvious detail and people tend to elide it because of the whole “BIG BROTHER = COMMUNISM!!!” angle—which is also a bad take,1 incidentally—but it totally is there.

So… yeah. Orwell: Still Even More Relevant Than You Think (2019 Edition).

  1. Oceania is ostensibly a socialist state and it does treat “the capitalist” as its ultimate class enemy. But Orwell was a disillusioned socialist himself, and he was more writing about how elite class interests subvert the ideology for their own power than making a critique of socialism per se. In other words, Oceania’s economy is supposed to look more like the one of Franco’s Spain or Hitler’s Germany, i.e. fascist, than anything that would make Marx nod in approval. []
2019-06-07T14:36:36+10:007th June, 2019|Tags: books, pop culture, tech|

Hugos Homework: Best Novel.

So, better late than never I guess; the Hugos packets came out a while ago, but neither being the most organized nor the fastest reader, I’m only getting around to going through them now.

So. Starting with the novels. First off, full disclosure: I no-awarded this category under my own personal protest rule of doing so in any category in which all finalists are American. Partly because of this, I didn’t full read each novel, instead gave them a “first fifty pages” check, which is how I decide on all my reading; basically, a book has fifty pages to either grab me or turn me right off. If it does neither, it gets put aside in the “not for me” pile. Actual reactions to each work on the list are below but, spoiler alert: my NFM pile has just gotten much taller…

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2019-06-03T10:20:58+10:003rd June, 2019|Tags: books, books read, fandom, hugo awards, sff|

Two quick updates!

Update Ye Firste: Print books

Because I finally got around to it, print versions of Liesmith and Stormbringer are now available for direct-from-me ordering, for those of who who don’t want to/can’t/whatever buy the Amazon versions.

Update Ye Seconde: Continuum

Apparently Continuum is, like, next week? Yikes.

As per usual, I will, indeed, be there. I’m currently scheduled on between zero and two panels:

  1. Superhero Burnout, Friday 9:30pm.
  2. Post-Capitalist Societies, Sunday1 5pm.

I say “between zero and two” because there’s currently contentious around both of them for various reasons, but failing massive… failing, that’s where I’ll be, if anyone feels like listening to me blather in public.

Update: Okay, not so much with the superheroes. The tl;dr is the panel was split between people who agreed with the premise (i.e. yours truly) and those that didn’t. I was interested in the panel in the context of it being a place to gripe about the genre in general, and the hyper-commodification of it in e.g. the MCU in particular, but in the end that wasn’t where things were going, and it felt like keeping things as they were was just going to get… emotionally fraught for all involved. So that’s a peace out from me on that one.

  1. I know it says Saturday in the program, but it got moved. []
2019-05-31T08:24:02+10:0030th May, 2019|Tags: book news, books, cons, continuum, continuum 15, wyrdverse|

Binders full of women.

How to find women who write horror.

Note that this isn’t a list of “women in horror”; it’s a list of things you, reader, can do to find for yourself more female horror writers, which is an approach I like a lot more, and which is applicable to far more things than just its immediate subject matter.

2019-01-03T09:14:53+11:004th May, 2019|Tags: books, culture|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, finale.

“Everything is different now.”

The Lyddans do show up, Zoe tells him later. With the cops and even an ambulance. The last Zoe saw, they’d been taking Jake away on a stretcher.

From Aunt Addi, Eli learns the sheriff had found Jake’s grandmother. Dead in her trailer, hidden in the bedroom loft. By the timeline, she’d probably been Jake’s first victim. Eli tries not to think of a fading blue eye, watching him from beneath the water as its owner slowly drowned.

No one (else) dies from the incident at the rec centre, although Lance and a few others get treated for burns. They’d tried to subdue Jake after Eli had saved Arthur, and Jake had unleashed balefire on them to escape. The whole thing gets written up as just another attempted mass shooting—just another day in America, nothing to see here—this one averted by the bravery and quick thinking of a room full of teens.

“It was cool, what you did with the lacrosse stick.” Two days later. Eli’s at Zoe’s. They’re both sitting in the big couch-sized swing in her front yard, carefully supervised by Mr. Chung from the bay window in the den. Giving them space, but . . . watching. All the adults are on edge right now. Eli supposes he can’t blame them. He thinks his ribs are still bruised form Aunt Addi’s crushing hugs.

“Was it?” Zoe says. She isn’t in cosplay today, just nebula-patterned leggings and a big chunky black sweater. Eli thinks she looks really nice. Zoe always looks really nice, but today it’s . . . even more. “It felt kinda . . . shitty,” Zoe continues. “Like . . . like, I dunno. Un-feminist? Sending a Man”—she pronounces the capital letter, voice pitching low portentously—“to fight when I should’ve been able to do it myself.”

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2019-04-16T20:15:24+10:0016th April, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 24.

“We’re all having a shitty time, asswipe! This is high school!”

He doesn’t, as it turns out, get far. Instead, he runs straight into Zoe in the hallway. Her eyes are wide and she’s breathing hard, like she’s been running too, which—

“Zee, I have to—” Eli blurts, at the same time as Zoe says: “Eli! Listen, I—”

They both stop, stare at each other for a moment, then blurt:

“No, me first!”

And it would be funny, maybe, if things weren’t so dire and Zoe didn’t look so panicked. Come to think of it, why did Zoe look so—

Eli doesn’t even get to finish the thought. Not when Zoe blurts:

“I saw it, Ee! In the flash. From the lightning. We were just, I dunno. Talking. Then the lightning hit and the lights went out, and everyone screamed. And it was kinda funny, y’know? Except, Ee. Ee, there was another one. More lightning. And in the flash, Ee. I saw it.”

And somehow, Eli just knows what she’s going to say. That little half-forgotten memory, from what seems like another lifetime, rushing to the fore:

“Eli. His shadow. It wasn’t his, it was the peryton’s.”

The peryton’s shadow. Just like the evil sorcerers in Zoe’s parents’ dumb Dungeons & Dragons book.

“Jake,” Eli says, and Zoe’s eye get even wider, whites seeming to almost glow both from the gloom and from the dark eyeshadow framing them.

“How—?”

It’s about that time, however, that the screaming starts. For real this time, not just the half-hearted shock of before. In between the sound, Eli can feel something. A sort of static hum and a thudding bass, like being too close to a live wire and too close to a concert speaker, all at once.

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2019-04-12T17:34:37+10:0012th April, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|