Ash by Malinda Lo

2011-04-26 00:00:00 -0700
Filed under Reviews
Malinda Lo was born in China and grew up in Colorado. Ash is her first novel, but her second, Huntress, came out earlier this month. I am pretty excited to have more great young adult fantasy to read. Ash is, in the author's own words, "a lesbian retelling of Cinderella." Now, if you're me, that plus a quick peek at the star rating on Amazon (average is 4) is enough to send you straight to the library to place a hold, but maybe you are not me, and are not so inherently excited about fairy tale retellings, or ladies falling in love with each other. Maybe you need some convincing! Allow me to convince you...

The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson

2011-04-18 00:00:00 -0700
Filed under Reviews
I keep reading books by this lady, and I just keep wanting to read more! I even bought The Salt Roads this weekend from the Friends of the Library book sale. I guess I like her writing. This latest, The New Moon's Arms I actually listened to as an audiobook, so I'm going to include a little section at the end reviewing specifically the audiobook listening experience, not just the story itself. Which is rather different from the previous two Hopkinson novels I read. Instead of being an action-filled plot set sometime in the future, The New Moon's Arms is a character novel set in the present day, on a group of fictional Caribbean islands...

How to Draw a World, for the visualization-impaired

2011-04-11 00:00:00 -0700
Filed under DesignMusings
I think I've mentioned before that I believe I have a non-verbal learning disability. Self-diagnosed, but I don't need to be a trained child psychologist to know that I'm unusually clumsy, get easily disoriented and confused in unfamiliar surroundings (I have some great stories about getting lost! and by great I mean they range from kind of terrifying to super-embarrassing-but-we-laugh-about-it-now), have a very poor visual memory but a great auditory memory, and trouble with non-verbal social cues. I can't tell you about what my motor skills development was like when I was young, but I was definitely verbally precocious, and my social skills used to be lot worse than they are now. I also can remember having a lot of trouble understanding what the point of some stories were, even when I could easily read all the words...

The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor

2011-03-31 00:00:00 -0700
Filed under Reviews
When I began concentrating on seeking out new SF authors of color, I saw Nnedi Okorafor's name come up repeatedly - though sometimes it was Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, the name she used when a few of her early novels were published. Until recently, the Seattle Public Library's online catalog search was quite terrible, and not knowing the exact author name to search for was but one of many obstacles to finding the right book. But I got my hands on one eventually...

Video games and art

2011-03-27 00:00:00 -0700
Filed under DesignMusings
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine shared a link to this article about video games and art. It's long, but worth a read, if it's something you care about. Or even if it's not; I'm more comfortable talking about art from a sociological than a philosophical perspective, and I'm not much invested in the question of whether or not video games qualify. But I am interested in media theory and the aforementioned sociological implications of things like art and video games - and this is one of the most thought-provoking pieces I've read in some time...

Experiences cannot be designed

2011-03-17 00:00:00 -0700
Filed under Design
Ever since Interactions 11 happened and I followed the hashtag religiously on twitter, I've been kicking around a post in the back of my head about how experiences belong to people, and people vary, and designers can't actually control end users, and so whenever I have a choice, I'd rather call what I do interaction design than "experience design."...

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

2011-02-28 00:00:00 -0800
Filed under Reviews
Justine Larbalestier is an Australian young adult and fantasy author. I'd previously read her Magic or Madness trilogy, which I found to be entertaining but not especially impressive. But Liar is a very different sort of book. When I'd first started it, I thought it was, in terms of genre, a typical "realistic" fiction thriller, and was surprised to see it show up on The Carl Brandon Society's site. I'd originally been listening to the audiobook, and got most of the way through the first section before the suspicious ipod disappearance, and while I'd more or less enjoyed it, it was sort of losing my attention, part of why I never did try to listen to it again. I've read some more reviews now that I've finished, and I'm not the only one who thought the end of Part 1 dragged a bit. But oh, it was so, so worth it to finish...

Spirit Binders series by Alaya Dawn Johnson

2011-02-21 00:00:00 -0800
Filed under Reviews
My introduction to Alaya Dawn Johnson was in the anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns. I know I just said I don't like short stories, but, I mean, Zombies vs. Unicorns. That is a battle for the ages. Plus a bunch of the contributers were young adult authors I already liked, so I had high hopes for its entertainment value, and was not disappointed. Alaya Dawn Johnson's story of gay zombie teen romance was one of my favorites, so I looked up her other work, and the (2/3rds completed) Spirit Binders trilogy looked right up my alley...

The Year's Best SF 14

2011-02-15 00:00:00 -0800
Filed under Reviews
Confession: short stories are not really my thing. What I love best in my stories are complex world-building and character development, which are really the realm of long-form fiction like novels and TV shows. And the length itself is part of what I like - a great short story can be quite arresting, but I prefer the opportunity to really settle into a fictional world and learn to feel at home. I'm a long-term sort of lady that way...

Half World by Hiromi Goto

2011-02-09 00:00:00 -0800
Filed under Reviews
Hiromi Goto is a Japanese-Canadian writer who's been publishing since 1994, and she just keeps winning awards. Her work ranges from realistic to fantastical in varying degrees, and she's written for adults, children and now young adult. Most of her books have focused on Japanese immigrant experiences in Canada. But while the protagonist of her latest, Half World (winner of the 2009 Carl Brandon Parallax award), is clearly of Japanese descent, it's more or less incidental to the story.