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May 23rd, 2018

A Reading Wednesday post in which I claim I am reading, despite the desperate state of my phone battery. But when apps crash repeatedly leaving reading time only at bedtime, it's hard to make much progress. But before that kicked in, I finished:

To Be a Virtuous Wife, Yuexia Dieying — Good, but not as good as Eight Treasures Trousseau. For one thing, while the main couple are more humanly believable characters (heck, ETT even has wuxia elements), it is conversely not as clear how good a match for each other they really are. (Author props at least that it's the MC's free behavior that attracts the male lead.) For another, the layers of imperial politicking thins out in the last third, sometimes providing hardly any tension at all. Not regretting reading it, though. (Correction to my previous comment about the historical template: the MC at one point explicitly thinks the setting culture as similar to Tang and Song society, though with government structure a mishmash of several dynasties -- and many times is glad that women are not as restricted as sometimes historically.) Be aware that the translator occasionally typos names, especially of the royal brothers, so you need to keep track of who's actually on stage.

Artificial Condition, The Murderbot Diaries #2, Martha Wells — A solid sequel, focusing more on Murderbot's search for its past and learning a little bit more of how to fit in among humans and AIs than revealing (or reveling in) its interesting personality. If you liked the first, you'll like this. If you like explorations of how stories help us navigate social landscapes, you'll like this. If you like snarky AIs, you'll like this. What's not to like?

The Demoness is Not Evil (妖女不妖), Xi Ming (裘梦) — another short (10-chapter) wuxia romance. In wuxia, a "demoness" is a capable female martial artist, typically one antagonistic to "orthodox" sects. In this case, Qu Qingyin is a bounty hunter who captures, for trial by government authorities, martial artists who've operated too far outside the law; currently she's after a serial rapist targeting female martial artists. I like her refreshingly direct attitude towards speaking plain truth, which makes for much fun banter and socially awkward pauses, and wish the male lead was as interesting as her. I wanted to like this more, but there's argh nonconsensual wooing by the male lead that's not fully called out by the narrative. Other content warnings: onstage rape, abusive parenting.

A Shropshire Lad, A.E. Housman — and a lot more Housman (rereads all), but unlike Last Poems, which is a collection of random verse, and the two volumes published by his brother, which are stuff he’d decided not to publish all heaped together, this first collection is a sustained argument on a few focused themes that echo backward and forward through individual poems. The best analogy I can think of is a concept album (the sort that doesn’t have a plot). My favorite single poem of his is not in Lad, but given what that collection succeeded at doing, it didn’t need it.

Plus parts of other stuff, to be discussed anon.


Subject quote from Œnone, Alfred the Tennyson.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/680455.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.