Archive for fantasy

a journal of the [tolerated] plague and [mostly] pestilence year

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2022 by xi'an

Read Among Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch, the ninth installment in the Rivers of London urban fantasy series. Which I found superior to the earlier volumes. As the ninth novel in the series, it obviously shows some signs of fatigue in the relatively thin plot that painstakingly connects a series of no-spoilers with the Spanish Inquisition, in the convenient so convenient appearance of a new kind of magical being, and in the convoluted uncovering of this connection in the final pages. However, the witty remarks of Peter Grant still make me smile and his move to becoming a father is rather charming. Recommended for the comforting feeling of being reunited with a familiar.

Over the four week summer period “everyone” was away (on vacations), I managed to deal with long delayed projects, keep my Biometrika slate mostly clean, and work on an incoming grant. Plus, made an uninterrupted series of compotes from my neighbour’s fallen apples and rhubarb sticks from the local market, as I found a much faster way to bake them in the microwave oven, with no danger for kitchen pans! Observing in the process a phase transition phenomenon where the contents very suddenly change structure and the bowl overflows, despite my frequent stirring. And I found time to lazily bike with my wife on weekends to traffic-free Paris, incl. light dinners outside (except during heatwaves), like a nice and perfectly spicy Korean bulgogi near Denfert. Had some DIY experiences as well, incl. changing my 2000 Twingo car battery, which had run flat after at least three months of idleness (now that our children no longer drive it)! Which as usual induced several (dreaded) trips to the DIY store…

Watched Extraordinary Attorney Woo, which is a Korean TV series following an autistic attorney at law, which has some original features but leaves me uneasy about its rather charicaturesque depiction of autism. At least, addressing discrimination and sexism (albeit with mixed results, as in the stereotyped representation of both female heads of the law firms). And The Soul, a Taiwanese horror + sci-fi + noir movie whose foggy atmosphere was rather appealing but alas following a terrible scenario.

a journal of the plaid [shirt] year

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2022 by xi'an

Read The priory of the orange tree, bought in one of the many Montréal bookstores [where I could have purchased many more books!] This fantasy novel was a Goodread fantasy recommended read, plus a NYT best-seller and nominated for some fantasy award, but I am quite surprised by the enthusiastic support. Indeed, I found the book had a very shallow and predictable scenario, with most of the tropes of the genre (e.g., ninja-like fighters, heroes uncovering long-lost magical artefacts, , super-evil entity about to return to life/power, a few predestined characters saving the Universe). Unrealistic events, all-too-convenient coincidences, with little efforts put in the construction of the world, of the magical rules, or of the political structure there. The second half was particularly bad.

Enjoyed very much my week in the Plateau part of Montréal, with the green spots in from of every house, the density of shops (and not only restaurants), and the fantastic network of BiXi stations that made travelling around so easy and essentially free! (Glad I brought my 661 helmet from home, even though it attracted many questions during the conference!). And lived essentially on (Saint-Viateur) bagels and (Kinton) ramens. With a funny linguistic incident when I ordered a bagel [which I pronounced bah-gael in the Parisian way] in a bakery and was offered a baguette!

Watched The Chase, an improbable but funny Korean film about a grumpy old man uncovering a serial killer, helped by a former cop escaped from a psychiatric facility. Given that the heroes were mostly senior citizens, this made for a welcome major change from the series I usually watched. Also came by chance upon the 2003 Japanese anime Tokyo Godfathers, which I found amazing, despite my rare foray into anime! A most unconventional Christmas movie, to watch in July or any other month.

Hugo Awards finalists 2022

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , on May 15, 2022 by xi'an

Here are the finalists of the Hugo Awards for different categories, with some read, somne watched, and some to-read:

Best Novel

  • A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine (Tor)
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager / Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki (Tor / St Martin’s Press)
  • A Master of Djinn, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom / Orbit UK)
  • Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (Ballantine / Del Rey)
  • She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor / Mantle)

Best Novella

  • Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom)
  • Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom)
  • Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom)
  • The Past Is Red, by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom)
  • A Spindle Splintered, by Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Dune, screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth
  • Encanto, screenplay by Charise Castro Smith and Jared Bush
  • The Green Knight, written and directed by David Lowery
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, screenplay by Dave Callaham, et al.
  • Space Sweepers, screenplay by Jo Sung-Hee, Yookang Seo-ae, and Yoon Seung-min
  • WandaVision, screenplay by Peter Cameron et al.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • The Wheel of Time: The Flame of Tar Valon, written by Justine Juel Gillmer, directed by Salli Richardson-Whitfield,
  • For All Mankind: The Grey, written by Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi; directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
  • Arcane: The Monster You Created, written by Christian Linke and Alex Yee; story by Christian Linke, Alex Yee, Conor Sheehy, and Ash Brannon; directed by Pascal Charrue and Arnaud Delord
  • The Expanse: Nemesis Games, written by Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck, and Naren Shankar; directed by Breck Eisner
  • Loki: The Nexus Event, written by Eric Martin, directed by Kate Herron, created for television by Michael Waldron
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: wej Duj, written by Kathryn Lyn, directed by Bob Suarez

2021 Nebula finalists

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2022 by xi'an

Here are the five novels selected for the 2021 Nebula Award

two of which I read and (mostly) appreciated. (An interesting side item is that Volume 6 of the fantastic Murderbot series was nominated for the novella series and that the author withdrew from the list for having already been recognised by the award.)

Sandremonde [book review]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2022 by xi'an

A somewhat original fantasy book (in French), by Jean-Luc Deparis, found by chance on a shelf of La Case à Bulles bookstore in Cayenne, with a nice if traditional cover, a first half I enormously enjoyed and read within a day!. and a second one less appealing to my tastes and which took me longer to complete, despite eventually skipping some passages… Presumably because this second part involved more magic, [dreaded!] endless subterranean domains, and the unsurprising revelation of a predestination for the central heroine, which was till then doing well by herself, thank you very much. Although with early and heavy hints of a unique destiny. The beginning has flavours reminding me of The Lies of Locke LamoraHobbs’ Assassin series, and the more recent Red/Gray/Holy Sister trilogy. Despite its flaws, the non-magical universe of Sandremonde is fascinating, with an overwhelming Church of monk-soldiers that has the monopoly of (magical) protections and as such promotes or demotes local lordlings… The end is both predictable and of little interest. More editing and advice from the publisher would have considerably improved the outcome. May a prospective second novel by the author keep the imagination and avoids the clichés!

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