A sound of thunder

There is a very large dumpster out in front of our house. It’s a temporary thing, because the neighbourhood is cleaning out the woods. (The woods have been prone to collecting garbage, half-bricks, the occasional piece of broken furniture, at least one defunct barbecue… the kind of thing it’s moderately inconvenient to keep in the house until garbage day.)

Every time a large object is thrown into the dumpster, there is a gigantic rattling clang. It was an unnerving way to wake up, and that’s just for me.

Lucy didn’t come downstairs for breakfast today. After an unnervingly long search, we found her under the bed, and very not interested in coming out. We got her out anyway, because we wanted to make sure she wasn’t hurt, and she’s fine. We put her and her food in a room that’s got no windows to the outside, and she stared at the door for a bit before settling down to eat.

She’s out in the hall now, but she is extremely cautious about the noises. Wherever she is, her ears are pointing towards the dumpster.

Hoping the noise does not go on too long.

The radical notion…

I’ve been thinking a bit about Mad Max lately; specifically the Fury Road movie. I’m fond of the franchise in general, although my interest mostly lies with the post-apocalyptic setting of the second, third, and now fourth movies. And the fourth movie makes me extremely happy.

I am very fond of the post-apocalyptic genre, and I found the character of the protagonist–the fact that she existed, and how the movie handled her–to be deeply affecting in a good if startling way. That said, while I’d heard that the movie was being described as feminist, I don’t think I really thought about it at the time.

(I actually tried pretty hard not to think about it, because I was honestly not expecting it to be really better than most action movies, and I did not want to get my hopes up and have disappointed hopes get in the way of my movie enjoyment. I am not sure if this is selfishness or compartmentalization, and I am okay with that.)

I’ve seen arguments both in favour and against its being called a feminist movie. I’ve thought about it, and because it helps me to write things out when I think about them, I am rambling about it here. I think there are a few ways to parse the definition; looking at the creation of the work, and two ways of looking at the work itself.

Also there might be spoilers, I guess, so time for a break. Continue reading “The radical notion…”

Tiny silver skulls, and old griffins in the cold.

Beasts of TabatBeasts of Tabat by Cat Rambo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Full disclosure: I’ve taken writing classes from Cat. That said, I have liked her work since before I knew to even recognize her name–may I recommend the lovely Events at Fort Plentitude, which I first read in Weird Tales–and I think my review fairly reflects the fact that, dammit, she’s good.)

Short summary: this is a secondary-world fantasy primarily set in the great strange port city of Tabat, which is about to have the Duke step down and hold elections. It revolves around two characters: Teo, a young country boy indentured into servitude at the temple of the Moons, and Bella Kanto, the gladiator whose unbroken string of triumphs in the annual Winter-vs-Spring battle have led to twenty years of long winters and late springs.

(This isn’t a children’s book, by the way. In case anyone was wondering. It’s not gratuitous, but my niephlets aren’t going to be getting this one for a few more years.)

I was expecting a straight-up secondary world fantasy–an adventure, or what you’d traditionally call a romance. There is some of that here; I think you see it most strongly in Teo. But there’s more life than there is just adventure, if that makes sense.

Second, a lot of the fantasy adventures I mentioned are about solving a problem. Beasts of Tabat is so much more than this. There are problems, yes, and some of them get resolved, but this is not a book where the Tour goes around collecting Plot Coupons and applying them to a Clearly Defined Problem. This is coming into a world in flux–on a personal level, a professional level, a social level, a magical level–and watching it turn into something new and wonderful.

(This is perhaps an excellent time to remind people of the origins of words such as “wonderful”, “fantastic”, and “terrific”. Terry Pratchett said it best.)

I think this works because of the attention paid to the characters and the small details. There’s Bella Kanto and Teo, but the characters moving around them and affected by them (I’m particularly engaged by Eloquence Seaborn and Leonoa, but you can take your pick) feel so distinct that those two feel pleasantly more like windows to the world than heroes in it. (I grant Bella Kanto is of heroic stature, but it’s not because of how she’s framed in the text.)

The growing unrest, the prejudice against the Beasts, the changes coming–this is the kind of thing that could get handwaved into a simple didactic dichotomy, and instead the depiction of what living in a world like this is like makes it interesting and involving. I am having opinions about this world, dammit, and I love it.

(There are several other stories set in Tabat, which are listed at the bottom of the page here; I’ve read half a dozen of them, and am going to go read more now that I’ve finished the novel. Just figured I should mention (1) you don’t need to have read them and (2) they’re worth checking out.)

I want to see where this goes. I need to see how it comes out. And it will be wonderful.