SD Alternative

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” - Dr. Seuss

assorted topics, but this time no lists

On second thought I can sum up everything I really want to say about A Suitable Boy in one paragraph:

A Suitable Boy is full of memorable characters (I even remember all of their names, and that never happens.) But if I were Lata, I would not have chosen the husband she chose. The entire book is about why rational love is a better basis for marriage than romantic love, and even though I AGREE that it is I thought Lata was too extremely practical. Besides Lata and her family and her suitors and her families-in-law and the friends of all of the above, the book is about Hindu/Muslim tensions in post-colonial India. Overall it’s excellent, but some parts are better than others.

For a change of pace, I re-read Of Swords and Spells for what is probably the fifth time last night. It took three hours. A couple more re-reads and I might be able to do it in two and a half! This is the cutest, quirkiest, pinkest book I own after Nameless Magery, to which it is a sequel.

In Nameless Magery, a young woman with enormous power and an interesting education has just run away from the Enforcers — the galactic police/military force whose machines eat magic. Lisane, which means “Nameless”, is living like a wild animal in the woods a planet even more backwater than hers when she is picked up by a dispossessed prince and taken to the local mage school — sort of like a prison, insane asylum, boarding school, and Japanese high school all rolled into one. Her culture worships magic and only uses it in religious ceremonies, so the Enforcers horrify her and the local mages amuse and disgust her.

The overall sense is of a vast science fiction universe that we aren’t seeing, because Lisane’s perspective narrows the focus to herself, her old world, and everything about her new world that is stupid and backwards. Which is a lot. By her own admission she is stubborn, arbitrary, high-handed and powerful — and she’s still more sensible than the mages running her new world.

Of Swords and Spells takes place at around the same time, and is like Nameless Magery only more so. The main character is more mysterious and violent and ridiculously overpowered, there’s more tension between science and magic, more quirky writing, and more memorably twisted characters. I enjoy both books equally, but I think the first has a better structure and the second has a better romantic interest.

Story: Malka, who used to be small and furry and is now girl-shaped and violent, is running away from the Enforcers and her master when she stumbles into a ship shaped like a house. It’s crewed by oddball witches who are all in love with the android who runs it, not surprising as Roder is a Massim model, designed as charming with a dash of cult-leader (“certainty, calm, attention, physical presense, and sex”) thrown in for good measure. The book’s short and we don’t get much sense of the crew members’ histories or personalities, which is a shame.

In conclusion, these books would make great shoujo manga. Speaking of, I second [info]octopedingenue‘s review of Koukou Debut. It’s adorable. I don’t think the leads have any real chemistry. What they do have, is Romantic Lead Anti-Chemistry. He’s trendy and popular, she’s an excitable former softball player with no fashion sense! He’s perceptive, laconic and slightly callous, she’s a dense, cheerful and energetic! They make a terrible couple, which is why it’s so fascinating to watch them. Because Haruna is an athelete and physically stronger, there are also some really cute gender inversions, like the scene where she promises to protect him!!!! and Yoh looks at her like: o_O;;.

I’m caught up on all of Firefly & Serenity, Veronica Mars through the end of the first season, and Legend of the Galactic Heroes up to episode 62. The cliffhanger at the end of the first season of Veronica Mars is a killer. My sympathies to everyone who watched this show as it was coming out, I don’t know how you stood it. (Logan! I missed the early episodes where you are popular and cruelly sarcastic, and only saw the later ones where you are needy and defensively sarcastic! Please be alright!!)

Legend of the Galactic Heroes episodes 50-62: it’s one thing when everyone is obsessed with the opinions of future historians, but when everyone and Schomkempf is more worried about future historians than present-day enemies… XD;; I wonder if there’s something in the water. These are the episodes where Dusty and Schonkempf decide to become outlaws For Yang and the Greater Good (But Mostly Yang). I’d have been more torn over the rightness of this if there hadn’t been so many Yang’s happy domestic retirement bliss episodes just before. TIE ME UP AND GAG ME. (I wish Frederica had a better haircut, it would make it so much easier to sympathize with her.)

It’s sort of strange that after bombing all the old nations out of existence, the first thing the people on earth did when they got technology back was to form a giant super-state. (Instead of fragmenting even further, I mean.) But eliminating conflict through consolidation is the rational sci fi thing to do, so I’ll go with it. I really love the history-lesson episodes, because there’s so much information in them. I’m not so keen on them when they are about the sordid history of the Imperial Dynasty, though, so it’s a good thing there’s only one of those. The Goldenbaum Emperers are very Chinese Dynastic Dispute, aren’t they? I mean, there was even one who ignored affairs of state to frolic with his 60 concubines.

On the shallow side: Yang’s surrogate son is being set up with Schomkepf’s estranged daughter? Dude, there is something WRONG about that.