Sunday, June 7, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: May 31st to June 6th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring these two beloved things together by photographing my dog beside every book I read, barring the digital comics I get through Marvel Unlimited.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday, with additional commentary.

Not pictured: I began the week with WOMEN OF MARVEL, a digital-first series comprised of six short stories about women from the Marvel canon. Some of the stories were really good; others were ultimately unmemorable.

I also finished EARTH X, and wow. So much awesome. I plan to write about it in a little more detail for a post on alternate worlds within and without the Marvel canon.

Finally, I quit dickering and devoured HOUSE OF M yesterday morning. It, too, will have a place in that alternate worlds post, complete with a few angry words on gendered blame and my enduring dislike of Quicksilver.

Moving away from Marvel, I read the first three issues of JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS because they're now up on Scribd (which y'all can try free for two months if you haven't yet done so). They were awesome, so you can bet I'll be following the series. Everyone is so cute! And there are queer ladies! And music! And rivalries! I am a happy, happy reader.

I made some progress through Best Related Work, too, but my Hugo reading slowed down on account of--

A short-haired grey poodle, Murchie, sits in a small dog bed, ears perked. Slightly behind him, propped atop one edge of the bed, is a paperback copy of Knife of Dreams. Its cover depicts a bunch of white people of various genders standing around a table.

Actual progress through the Wheel of Time! How unexpected.

Downright enjoyable progress, at that. I was rather dreading KNIFE OF DREAMS after the slogfest that was CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT, but I'm pleased to report I loved it. I was super-duper into Egwene's storyline, I cared what Rand was up to (pleaseletthislastpleaseletthislast), I remained invested in everything with Mat, and the various other stories proved interesting rather than tedious. I even enjoyed Perrin's segments.

Yes, even. My relationship with Perrin, in a nutshell: Past Me thought he was not as interesting as he could be. One Year Ago Me was like, "Wow; why didn't Past Me appreciate Perrin? He's actually a pretty cool guy! Let's have more Perrin scenes!"

Then Couple of Months Ago Me was like, "Perrin, dude, what happened?" Because all of a sudden, Perrin was back to being less interesting than he might've been. Sigh. Thank goodness he's improved again. Let's hope this keeps up through to the end of the series.

And yes, I know, Perrin is everybody's favourite and I'm a weirdo for not being super-duper into him. Do you have any idea how many blank stares I endured throughout my teenage years whenever I met another fan and they were like, "Who's your favourite? It's Perrin, right? He's my favourite!" and I was like, "...that's very nice for you," because I didn't want to tell 'em Perrin kind of bored me1.

And on top of that, I was always a bit afraid to actually answer the question and tell these Perrin-lovers that Mat was my favourite because Mat is a jackass and I hadn't yet learned to own my love of fictional fuck-ups and jackasses2. Especially not when whoever'd asked me was gushing over Perrin, who's basically the opposite of a jackass. You know?

Anyways: I finally read KNIFE OF DREAMS. It was my first new-to-me Robert Jordan in twelve years. I'm now super pumped to finish the series at long last.

Oh, and it had some queer women in it. Not a lot, but some.

Murchie nestles into his dog bed. Beside him is a white iPod with The Heir's cover on its screen. The cover depicts a pale, dark-haired girl wearing a greyish purple ball gown. She stands with her back to the viewer. Mirrors surround her.

I finished BORDERS OF INFINITY only slightly behind schedule and returned to Kiera Cass's Selection series, as planned. THE HEIR picks up about twenty years after the last book, THE ONE, and takes a same-but-different tack so far as the plot goes. There's a Selection; some political unrest crops up; things are tense. It's the same basic premise, but the story doesn't pan out in the same way.

Much of that is down to the protagonist, who is wildly different. Eadlyn has grown up with a great deal of privilege, and she's quite the spoiled brat on account of it. She's not incapable of change, though, and the narrative gives her plenty of scope to own her strengths and find work-arounds for her shortcomings. She's also in a really interesting position so far as her romantic future goes. A big part of me is rooting for her to be explicitly aromantic, even though convention says she's gonna "overcome" her lack of enthusiasm for marriage and fall in love with either Kyle or Eric.

I loved it and look forward to the next one.

Except, as I was telling Cass the other day, I really thought these books would have at least a couple of lesbians in them, and they don't, and that bums me out. All those girls in the first book, and not one of 'em is a secret teenage lesbian3? Pfft.

I'm also just generally grumpy with SFnal futures in which the United States has swooped in and taken over Canada and Mexico. Hands off Canada, Americans of the dystopic future. I'm sure the Mexicans of today would tell you the same thing.

Murchie lays on a concrete stoop. He wears an orange t-shirt with brown trim. Propped up beside him is a paperback copy of The Gathering Storm. Its cover features a white man in a red coat raising one hand to the sky while a white woman in a blue bodice and brown skirt watches from some distance behind.

Hey, look! Further progress through the Wheel of Time! (And a seriously cute picture of Murchie, who loves to sleep on the back step when it's warm out. Little dude is a sun worshiper, even though he's gotta wear a shirt to avoid sunburn on his mostly-bald back.)

I'd planned to pause and read a review copy in between each of the last four books, but I'm feeling pretty chipper about the series right now and I want to ride that wave to the end. So I started THE GATHERING STORM the day after I finished KNIFE OF DREAMS.

It was a rather bittersweet beginning. All these months, I've been focusing on how this was something I loved dearly when I was a young person, and how I'm finally gonna see how it ends, so I'd managed to push Robert Jordan's death to the back of my mind. I was always aware of it, especially whenever I reached the end of another volume and saw the line in his bio about how he intended to keep writing until they nailed shut his coffin, but soon as I read Brandon Sanderon's introduction to THE GATHERING STORM it was like I was back in 2007, just learning of it. All of a sudden, I asked myself if I even wanted to finish out the series without Robert Jordan at the helm.

Uh, yeah, of course I do. I mean, I love Brandon Sanderon's solo work, and he's been open about how he kept everything Jordan wrote before he died, and I've been waiting for this for twenty frickin' years. I swallowed that naggly voice and began.

I'm about 300 pages in as I write this, and it feels different from the earlier books but it's still giving me what I want. (Well, most of what I want. We haven't seen Mat yet, and I'm pretty sure Elayne has also been living her life off-page, though I can't swear to that because the books have started to blend together a bit.) I don't doubt I read a bunch more after I scheduled this post.

Murchie lays partly atop a fuzzy red and white blanket. Beside him is a white iPod with The Winner's Curse's cover on its screen. It features a white girl surrounded by a sea of pink.

I had plenty of listening time last week, so I polished THE HEIR off and started THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski. I'm about a third of the way into it and haven't yet decided how I feel about it all.

Oh, hey! This is another book where I really hoped there'd be lesbians since the love interest is named Arin and that's a fairly gender-neutral name, but it turns out Arin's a dude. Sigh.

Dear editors: please buy more books with queer women in them. Queer protagonists would be best, but I'll also accept important secondary queer characters. Sincerely, Memory.

Next week: probably TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT. Certainly another audiobook; a long-ass one, this time. I'd love to read some more comics, too. I've got a four Western comics in my queue and a rather ginormous pile of manga I borrowed to fill the SKIP BEAT-shaped hole in my heart.

  1. Seriously, y'all, I cannot stand it when one person is all, "I love this thing! It's my favourite!" and someone else comes into their space just to talk about why they hate the thing. It's fine to say, "I'm not really into this thing you love" if the person has engaged you in conversation or something (a strategy Teenage Me could've benefited from, had Teenage Me been better at life), but don't go out of your way to start slamming the thing they love. You aren't going to make them hate it. All you're going to do is piss them off and/or make them feel terrible.

    I grew up with a friend who made a real point of sharing her hatred for the stuff I loved. It felt consistently petty and demoralizing, and it was difficult not to view it as a deliberate attack on who I was as a person. I eventually disengaged from her.

    Sidebar: this friend also used to get upset when I swore, not because she had a true objection to strong language but because that "wasn't who [I] really was." Oh, darlin'. I don't think you ever really knew me.

  2. Mat was my first jackass, so he's special. He was also the first character I initially loathed but later came to love, and my first slither-outer.
  3. Secret teenage lesbians are one of my big hooks. My father convinced me to watch CORONATION STREET by promising me secret teenage lesbians. Don't worry; the young people in question quickly became widely-known teenage lesbians whose families love and accept them.


  1. Jam and the Holograms sounds perfect. I'm still mostly a trade reader, so I'll be all over it as soon as the first volume is out. (Or as soon as I find out it's out. I might miss the news. PLEASE TELL ME.)

    Footnote 1: I hear you. One thing is to engage in debate when people signal they're up for it, but don't go out of your way to ruin their joy.

    1. I'd planned to wait for the Jem collection, but then IDW posted the issues on Scribd and I couldn't resist. I think you're going to love it! The art is painfully cute, and there's lots of FRIENDSHIP, and MUSIC, and HOLOGRAMS and GENERAL AWESOMENESS.

  2. Oh! I hate that thing too! When people do that! It's so not nice! I know that I sometimes say "here is the problem I had with the thing," and what I often mean is, "do you think this valid and/or surmountable?" I should make that more explicit, though.

    Very often, when I say that, the people who love the thing will still say "yep, that problem is valid, but I got past it" -- and then you know it's just a question of varying mileage. But I'm nearly always willing to try a thing a second time if people whose taste I trust urge me to. (Neeearly.)

    1. For the record, whenever you've been like, "here is the problem I had with that thing" to me, I've always understood you meant, "do you think this is valid and/or surmountable." It's all conversational, not slam-slam-slammy-slam.

      I usually try things again if people urge me to, but I like to leave a buffer of at least a year or two between Experience #1 and Experience #2.