Links Lundi

Spring weather approaches (at least in this part of the country), and with it, the first stirrings of clothing-related modesty lectures aimed at women. As usual, I have strong opinions about this issue, but I really like what this article had to say about it: “You might see some cleavage and have a sexual thought. You might also see a woman tying her shoe and have a sexual thought…That battle happens within your mind and it is your responsibility.”

A new mom’s anxiety over baby clothes teaches larger lessons: “Femininity is not less than masculinity. It is a different kind of strength, but it is powerful and wonderful and deserves our respect.

How often does modern Doctor Who pass the Bechdel Test? (A note on the Bechdel Test. Passing doesn’t necessarily mean a movie is a good representation of women – it only means the creators took the time to come up with more than one female character and put them in a conversation together. Which shouldn’t be difficult, and yet alarmingly few movies pass. Conversely, a movie can have multiple well-written female characters, but if they never talk to each other, that movie will fail the test – like Avengers, or How To Train Your Dragon 2 [see my thoughts below].)

A new anthology uses science fiction to reimagine justice. It never even occurred to me to wonder what we could do besides prisons, so I’m looking forward to reading this.

We finally saw “How To Train Your Dragon 2” and since I’d already read this article, I was prepared to be disappointed by the character of Hiccup’s mother. I do believe Valka was grossly neglected for the movie’s final act, but I agree more with this article in that overall, HTTYD2 does an awesome job challenging gender-based tropes. What do you think?

Links Lundi

This is a couple years old, but sadly could have happened yesterday: “Straight Male Gamer” complained that Dragon Age 2 “should have [had] much more focus in on making sure us male gamers happy” (yes really); BioWare shuts him down.  Thank you, BioWare.

Via Yes & Yes: where roads end.

I think it would feel weird to live in a converted church, but these condos in Boston sure look cool.

Blossoming Badass writes about how wearing glasses influenced her perception of herself.

“Call of Duty: Ghosts” finally adds playable female characters.  On the one hand, awesome! On the other hand…yeah, that’ll go well.

Pre-Space Age spaceship designs are both endearing and kind of awesome.

Ballet dancers risk their lives (or at least the ankles) to awesomely photobomb the real world:

Top Ten Tuesday: 39 Months of Favorites

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s TTT is your favorite books read during the lifespan of your blog, which is almost too easy – ten favorite books that I’ve read in the last three-ish years?  Let’s make this a little more challenging and go by year:

Ruby Bastille started in March of 2009:

1) “The Castle of Crossed Destinies” by Italo Calvino was loaned to me by an erudite Irishwoman while I was an intern there.  It is the second-weirdest book I’ve ever read (after “Perdido Street Station” – no wait, third-weirdest, after that and the awful hallucinogenic mess that is “Mumbo Jumbo”) but it was also really really good.

2) “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri.  This anthology only has a couple stories and a novella, but they’re almost all heartbreaking and lovely.

2010 was the year I forgot I had Goodreads to track my reading, but these stand out in my memory:

3) “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Steig Larsson is hard to forget, and fun to read in the parts that don’t make you want to curl up in a corner with a teddy bear.

4) “My Name Is Mary Sutter” by Robin Oliveira had a strong, talented heroine and a thoroughly-researched Civil War setting.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Vivid Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week I’m listing my top ten place books – books that had such a realistic setting that I felt like I was there, no matter when or where that setting was.  Whether or not I’d actually want to be there is a whole ‘nother issue.

1) The Arena, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.  Even more so than “The Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire” made me feel like I was struggling through the arena with Katniss.  The arena designed for the Quarter Quell is unique, terrifying, and scarily easy to visualize.

2) Paris, The World at Night and The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst. Atmospheric settings are Furst’s specialty, but he writes about Paris with a dark and aching nostalgia that stays with you.

3) New Crobuzon, “Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville.  This grimy mashup of Cairo and Industrial Age-London is built beneath the towering ribs of a giant dead creature.  It’s inhabited by eagle-people, bug-people, cactus-people, people-people, genetically modified people, crime lords, artists, prostitutes, totalitarian soldiers, and scientists.  It’s hot and smelly and sprawling.  How all of this came out of one dude’s head is beyond me.

4) Battle school, “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card.  Assuming you weren’t Ender, and you weren’t responsible for defending Earth from alien invaders, and no one was out to cause you terrible injuries, having organized battles in zero gravity would probably be pretty awesome.

5) Salinas Valley, “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck.  The valley’s varied colors, unpredictable weather, and precarious relationship with water make it a beautiful, timeless, and ever-so-slightly ominous setting.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

Back in March, we were given the option to pick our ten favorites from any genre.  I came up with two lists, but strong female characters in historical fiction won out.  This week, we’re running the once-lost top ten soft science fiction books!

The way I would define the difference between “soft” and “hard” SF is the role of outer space.  I consider hard SF to be stuff like Asimov, “Star Wars,” and most Bradbury, which feature spaceships, interstellar travel, robots, etc.  Soft SF tends to rely on social issues inherent in science and politics, and I would say it overlaps dystopian, steampunk, and alternate-history.

This means my list is pretty loosey-goosey, and some of you more dedicated fans will probably raise hackles at my inclusion of whatever, but let’s all just keep in mind that this is about books and reading and how awesome that is.  Alright?

1. “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi.  Genetic engineers race to stay ahead of plague-devouring crops, global warming has flooded just about everything, oil is pretty much gone, and genetically-altered people work as soldiers and prostitutes.

2. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is a really beautiful look at the human cost of advanced science and what it really means to be human.

3. “Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville.  Officially stated by Mark Oshiro to be the weirdest thing he’s ever read, which is really truly saying something.  Genetic manipulation is used as a punishment, a scientist studies flying creatures in order to reattach a bird-man’s wings, and art critics fight a corrupt regime.

4. “Archangel” by Sharon Shinn.  The story is set on a far-off planet which practices a Christian-esque religion, only angels are physical beings which interact, and intermarry, with humans.  Then you find out that their god is actually a spaceship that delivered them to a new world when theirs was destroyed, and the prayers of angels are actually programmed to release medicine or seeds from the god-spaceship.  Whaaaat.

5. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury.  Firemen don’t save books anymore – they burn them, per government instructions, and when Montag realizes books are actually pretty neat, he’s chased down by a giant flame-throwing tranquilizer-firing mechanical hound.

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Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I’d Save

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about this.  At one point I had a full escape plan mapped out which somehow involved rescuing the cat, my laptop, some photos, and a few books.  It’s more likely that I’ll just run screaming from the premises (although I will grab the cat), but if I have more time to pack – say, if I have to flee the zombie apocalypse – these will be my picks:

1. “The Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkien.  This is kinda cheating since I am talking about all three books, but you can hardly save one without the others.  I was given/borrowed/took my parents’ 1965 paperbacks, which have been well-loved by all of us.  They’re some of the oldest and most treasured books I have.

2. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by JK Rowling (British Edition).  When I went to England, I made sure to get the British version of my favorite Potter book.  My American hardcover has broken from being read so much (several chapters are falling out of the middle), so the British paperback would be the one to come with me.

3. “The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury.  It’s the standard tiny Bantam paperback edition, nothing fancy, but it’s one of my all-time favorites.

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I Can Read!

Reading in Skirts is single-handedly providing me with enough meme-ness to sustain my blog for weeks.  Is it enough to satiate my cravings for oversharing and answering questions?  No, but it’s sure fun.

  • Favorite poet(s)?

I don’t actively read much poetry, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read by Czeslaw Milosz.

  • Least favorite/hated poet(s)?

I never liked (or should I say, appreciated) TS Eliot because I had “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” shoved down my throat at least once a year in high school.  Like many required-reading writers, though, he probably deserves a second chance. Continue reading