Orbit US turns 10

Jul. 27th, 2017 03:56 pm
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Over the last decade, Orbit US, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, has quickly established itself as one of the premiere publishers of science fiction and fantasy, and a reliable source for everything from innovative works of science fiction to blockbuster epic fantasies. To celebrate the milestone, a selection of landmark Orbit titles is currently available on Nook for just $2.99 each, but we wanted to do more than point you toward some great titles, so we asked Orbit’s publisher, Tim Holman, to share a bit of history. Below his comments, you’ll find a timeline of key dates in Orbit’s history.

More here

Music meme: day 17 of 30

Jul. 27th, 2017 03:46 pm
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[personal profile] liv
A song that you would sing as a duet on karaoke. I don't do karaoke, and I don't do duets, so this is a bit of a non-starter for me.

No, let me explain, because I'm having fun answering this meme in way too much detail. I think karaoke is an absolutely excellent idea in theory. It's really great to encourage people to sing just for fun and not worry about skill level. And it's really great to use technology to play the backing music and display the lyrics so that someone can just get up and sing the melody with little preparation.

The problem is that for me personally, karaoke means packaging up 30 plus years of abject humiliation over not being able to sing in tune, and asking me to enjoy that in public. I find it hard anyway to make myself sing in front of other people; I do it, because I absolutely do believe that music belongs to everybody (not just people who are "musical"), and shared music is a great way for people to connect. Singing in front of an audience who are paying attention to me, or even worse, in a competition, however light-hearted, is too terrifying.

Duets are possibly extra impossible, because singing in unison with someone else is already hard for me. Especially if they have a lower range; I can't really hear octaves, so I find it very difficult to join in with someone singing in the bass clef range. Singing in harmony is really really hard, because not only do I have to sing the correct notes which I always find difficult to remember, I also have to match the note which is very imperfectly in my head while being distracted by my partner singing a different note that my actual ears can hear. I can sometimes do multi-part harmony if there are several people singing each section, so I can listen to someone else who is singing the same line as me. And I'm fine with parts in music in general when I don't have to worry about pitch. But a sung duet is really tricky.

And really, I can think of very few duets that I know at all, for whatever reason, even to listen to. Let's call the whole thing off might work, because (at least in this superlatively great version with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong) it's mostly alternating verses or lines between the two singers rather than harmony. But hypothetically, if I were to find the courage to sing karaoke, I probably wouldn't start with something really amazingly great; somehow I'd feel less bad about murdering some ephemeral extruded pop product than attempting an actually good song.

I will admit, though, that my brother and I have been known to sing Always by Bon Jovi, as a sort of duet, sometimes in public and definitely not caring that neither of us can really sing. Partly because we always liked the dubious rhyme of:
I'll be there til the stars don't shine
Til the heavens burst, and the words don't rhyme
And partly because Bon Jovi can't really sing either, he just projected a persona calculated to appeal to teenaged girls in the 90s. So I probably wouldn't sing it actually in karaoke, and I probably wouldn't sing it with anyone other than my brother, but it seems slightly less impossible than any other options, so I think it seems in the spirit of the meme.

video embed )
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Firstly, it takes very little discussion of regulations for my eyes to glaze over. Secondly, and far less constructively, if someone proposes a system that relies on genres like science fiction and fantasy being distinct rather than overlapping sets, I will start thinking about the worthy works that live in the overlap.

Passing the hat

Jul. 26th, 2017 02:01 pm
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My vet has an interesting receptionist and so what I was told would be a sixty dollar trip for their shots is in fact a two hundred dollar trip. This is all part of the seemingly futile effort to find them new homes. If people could donate towards the trip, that would be great.
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How to Make a Clichéd High Fantasy Cover

I am reminded of the cover of a Joe Abercrombie novel where every time I took another look, I noticed yet another sword the character on the cover was carrying.

Music meme: day 16 of 30

Jul. 26th, 2017 10:39 am
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Let's get the political complaining off the top of my journal, and talk about One of your favourite classical songs.

Because I always end up picking Fauré's Requiem every time I answer a meme about music, I'll stick to a strict definition of 'song' and go with Les roses d'Ispahan instead:

video (singing over animation of the score) )

The story behind this is that I fell in love with Fauré when I heard the school choir singing the Requiem when I was 12, and the singing teacher saw me falling in love and decided to try to teach me to sing, even though I notoriously couldn't hold a tune. And we talked a lot about singing Christian sacred music, but she also pointed out that Fauré wrote plenty of secular stuff, so I could learn that. Alongside lots of simpler things more appropriate for a beginning singer. And I loved all the repertoire I learned, but Les roses d'Ispahan best. Spending absolutely months trying to learn songs that were too hard for me gave me an appreciation that just listening to them never would.

Or, if I'm going with a strict definition of Classical, to get even further away from always going on about Fauré... most of the music I like is either Baroque or Romantic really, but I'm not against the entire Classical period. So let's go with Schubert, whom I always reliably like. I'm choosing the song Heidenröslein for the tune, even though I'm not wholly enamoured of the lyrics. I mean, it's Goethe, but it's also about the poet destroying his lover to punish her for rejecting him. Also because I discovered recently that there's a Rammstein song alluding to it, so I'm using the meme as an excuse to tell you about that.

video embed, containing religious violence )
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The Order of Truth's Aeon Priests have resurrected our May 2014 Numenera Bundle, featuring the tabletop science-fantasy roleplaying game Numenera from Monte Cook Games. A billion years in the future, explore the Ninth World to find leftover artifacts of nanotechnology, the datasphere, bio-engineered creatures, and myriad strange devices that defy understanding. The inspiration for the recent Torment: Tides of Numenera computer game from inXile Entertainment, Numenera is about discovering the wonders of eight previous worlds to improve the present and build a future.



Bundle the first and bundle the second

Politically isolated

Jul. 25th, 2017 05:25 pm
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[personal profile] liv
I feel completely out of step with most of my friends politically. UK politics, very gloomy )

Walked to the library

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:15 pm
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Saw a squirrel hop into the back of a pickup truck and wait, giving every impression it was waiting impatiently for something. Does it know trucks move? Is that how it got to the library?

Two questions

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:55 pm
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I wonder how long it will take the shadowy figures behind the Dragon Awards to count the votes?

I wonder to what degree the award has been gamed by the puppies?

Please explain

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:39 pm
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The logic of requiring pedestrians to press a button for the pedestrian crosswalk sign to change, rather than just linking it to the traffic lights.

Music meme: day 15 of 30

Jul. 24th, 2017 03:31 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
A song that is a cover by another artist. I think this has to be Tori Amos' cover of I don't like Mondays, originally by the Boomtown Rats.

Tori Amos was I think the first musician I really got intensely into, beyond just enjoying the sound of somebody's music. The single Cornflake girl was on the radio a lot in the mid 90s, and I quite liked it but didn't have any context. Then I met MK when we were both up for Oxford interview, and became instant friends. He put a lot of effort into supporting me through a somewhat bumpy transition from sheltered child to independent person, including dealing with a bereavement that hit me really hard when I was 19. He's also responsible for introducing me to digital socializing (email, instant messenger, Usenet to an extent, and the wonderful world of peer-to-peer file sharing). And he played lots of Tori songs for me when I was sitting in the dark crying about letting go of childhood naive optimism. I bought Little earthquakes on CD, and had access to a lot of Tori's oeuvre for all of the 90s via not entirely licit digital copies. Not only Tori Amos, there was a lot of alt stuff especially goth that I picked up from [personal profile] doseybat, but Tori Amos was pretty much the soundtrack of inventing myself as an adult.

I don't like Mondays was almost a novelty thing in a way, recorded with a bunch of much less successful covers, of things like Smells like teen spirit which really doesn't work for Amos' musical style, most of which were never commercially released. This one did make it to Strange little girls, the concept album of gender-bent cover songs, which I was never fully convinced by. I haven't been strongly into Tori Amos' music since 2000, not that I think it's bad but it isn't part of my psyche in the way that the 90s material is. But anyway, it's a remix of a song written in response to a school shooting in the late 70s. The original is meant to be ironic, but it comes across as so inappropriately jolly that it often gets played on the radio as a joke song, here's one to cheer you up from your Monday commuting blues... Tori Amos' cover is a total reworking, without any irony at all, just sadness about a teenaged girl turning a gun on her schoolmates.

So it kind of epitomizes why Tori Amos meant a lot to me at that time in my life; she wrote and performed beautiful songs (she's a classically trained musician) about serious subjects which she took seriously. But that seriousness isn't about glorying in the violence and ugliness, it's about challenging it. video embed, audio only )

As a bonus, have kd lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. It's a song that gets covered way too often, nearly always as a kind of soppy lovesong that really fails to do justice to the extremely powerful original. So basically I hate Hallelujah covers, except this one. Again, it's very different from Cohen's original, but it's an emotionally serious interpretation in its own right which doesn't cheapen its source material.

Fig and Ibid still need rehoming

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:40 pm
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Jasmine provided me with a very apt description for Ibid and Fig: the feline answer to Pinky and the Brain.... So if any Waterloo Region and adjacent people would like a cat who spends a lot of time thinking and one who spends a lot of time ... not thinking, let me know...

(also open to suggestions for rehoming them, because what I am doing isn't working)

Dur

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:03 pm
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Of course I can review the Kobo Aura. It just never occurred to me I could until someone suggested it.

What if for 2018

Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:53 pm
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My Friday reviews rotated between four long running series? Say, Vorkosigan, Kitty and two others?
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