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I finished it today. I was drawn to it enough to add it to my Yuletide requests!

I love Baru Cormorant. She is competent and she is ruthless, and she inspires loyalty. She uses assets to the best of her ability. She is driven. I also love her relationships with the dukes – especially Tain Hu. The loyalty kink was very button-press-y. Baru being willing to do anything to succeed at her goals was amazing.

I loved the worldbuilding. Falcrest taking over places with economics! A complex Aurdwynn with its own problems and history! Nebulous powers behind the throne and the promise of cutthroat politics!

ending spoilers )

Now, this is not a thing I'd rec without caveats – there's homophobia, the threat of government-mandated eugenics, some sexism, and the whole imperialism shit – but if one likes competent female characters and economic worldbuilding, it's worth checking out. There'll be a sequel, The Monster Baru Cormorant, that I'll nab when it comes out.
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I, um, did another book-inhale yesterday. Dichronauts, in true Greg Egan fashion, requires some background reading from the author's site to figure out WTF is going on. Mostly because I was a bit confused by the coordinate system. (The Sun rises and sets; the migration happens because the axis of rotation is tilting, not because of the Sun's movement.)

The main characters, Seth and Theo, are in a symbiotic relationship, where Seth (a Walker) sees along the East-West direction and can move, and Theo (a Sidler) echolocates along the North-South direction and subsists off Seth's bloodstream. They share inputs, and have a sort of telepathic communication. Everyone in their society is a symbiont pair. The reason for this arrangement is that instead of three space and one time dimension, there are two space and two time directions. They live on the surface of a hyperbola hourglass thing, and the axial dimension is time-like, so light can't go there – but sound can. The plot is basically an excuse to explore this world and all its weird geometries, but the world is interesting and the exploration well-executed, so I don't mind. Egan also goes into some of the societal tensions of Walker-Sidler relations, and based on the noms spreadsheet, someone seems to want fic of that for Yuletide.
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I have acquired a terrible flu, and am frightfully bored, because I want to go outside and exercise, which is ... not advisable. Instead, I made inroads into more of my to-read pile.

The Stars are Legion
Firstly, it's a standalone, so no nail-biting wait for a squillion sequels.
Secondly, the back cover blurb doesn't quite capture the thing.

Despite the fact that it's first person, I liked it! (Especially the "Lord Mokshi, Annals of the Legion" bits that preface each chapter.) There are two narrators, Zan and Jayn. Most of the narration is from Zan's POV. The premise is that there is a Legion of organic world-ships who are decaying, but cannot leave their position – apart from one empty one, Mokshi, which Zan is sent to get into. By Jayn and her family. Zan has succeeded repeatedly, but each time she comes back without her memory. Now, Jayn's faction isn't the only one, and there's lots of interesting politics going on.
All the inhabitants of the world-ships are women, and the ship somehow makes the women get pregnant and give birth to components – gears, etc. The ships do have metal frames, but they're patterned off humans and have arteries and such. There is some gore and body horror, though I could read it, and I'm not at all a fan of body horror. If pregnancy squicks you, skip this one.

spoilers )

On a related note, I am accepting book recs for science fiction. On a semi-related note, I tried getting into Fran Wilde's Uplift and bounced off the teenage first-person POV protagonist. I'll probably try it again later, but oh well. If that doesn't work, I have a younger sibling who's into fantasy.
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So, after this being a thing recced to me by like 10 squillion people and every Worldcon panel ever, I inhaled it in one sitting. It is now past 21, and I have yet to eat dinner, but: so worth it!

It's military science fiction where the basis of the military tech is interesting, the battle scenes are well-written, there's an intrigue component going on simultaneously, and it's got casual bisexuality! It's pretty much exactly what I wanted from Iain Banks' Use of Weapons, and resembles Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice in some ways. The best way I could describe it is Ancillary Justice meets one of the Vorkosigan saga's Admiral Naismith books. The cultural stuff in Ninefox Gambit feels innovative enough, and it's certainly got a fresh take on things. I'll add the sequel, Raven Stratagem, onto my birthday books wishlist.
extrapenguin: Yoko Tsuno & Khâny (yoko tsuno)

Consider the multiple shippable friendships found in Yoko Tsuno graphic novels!

The protagonist, Yoko Tsuno herself, is a Japanese electrical engineer living in Belgium, who has a knack for getting into adventures and befriending every woman she comes across. She is also extremely competent in a lot of things, and thus well suited for competence porn.

Khâny is a blue-skinned space alien from the Andromeda Galaxy whom Yoko befriends in Issue #1! She is cautious while Yoko is more impulsive, and the fact that she is an alien should allow for many, many intriguing fic opportunities.

Ingrid Hallberg is a German organist whose life Yoko saves in Issue #2. She is a bit reserved and also more cautious than Yoko.

Comtesse Olga is an older (40s-50s?), aristocratic Russian lady. She is cool and aloof, though Yoko’s power of friendship makes her less chilly towards Yoko in the end. Perfect for some age-difference femslash!

And, should one desire some teenage shipping, good news: we have Monya, a 14-year-old (most likely desi) time traveler from the future – who owns her own time machine! – and Emilia, a 14-year-old Scottish-Russian girl who is very temperamental and has a natural aptitude towards piloting!
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Sharing Knife quartet, Lois McMaster Bujold
meh )

Long Earth series, Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
nice except ISSUES )
(discussion with [tumblr.com profile] sixth-light )

Nexus, Ramez Naam
enjoyable )

The Goblin Emperor
, Katherine Addison
okay )

Confederation/Valor series, Tanya Huff
nice aliens and nice BOOMs )

Heris Serrano
, Elizabeth Moon

lacking in exposition and/or BOOM )

Spin State, Chris Moriarty
gripping )

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I went with a Paragon Adept FemShep. I really like that FemShep looks like a viable human being in this one; ME2 and ME3 really pushed her into Barbie territory. I disliked the fact that the armor was cut in a “look at my boobs” way.

The game was rather buggier re: shooting from cover than I remembered, and it definitely didn’t have too many save points. (My favorite key was F5.) The textures weren’t blessed with high resolution, either. I very much liked the fact that there was a plethora of keys, all mapped to different functions (*cough* ME3 space does everything *cough*). I found this a more difficult game than ME2 or ME3 (haven’t replayed them yet thought) mostly due to rockets (Geth Rocket Turret, Geth Armature etc) oneshotting you always and the hacking bits being much harder than the ones in ME2. I liked the MIRA core and the Presidium Rogue Computer puzzles, though.

Plotwise, this is my favorite game, since the plot makes sense (ME3 was ridiculous, and then there was the ending) and had something to do with the trilogy’s plot (ME2 was pretty useless in that regard). I very much liked the fact that it wasn’t just an on-rails shooter and I had to actually figure out where I should run to. The fact that I got Paragon/Renegade points from my actions as opposed to saying appropriate things was nice. I don’t believe they did anything similar to the getting the Noverian garage pass thing in ME2 or ME3. The voice acting was okay, though all the characters had stiff faces. (Comparing to DAI, we’ve come a long way.)

Of the characters, Kaidan was still annoying, Ashely was still kinda ehh (but useful as the group’s tank) and Garrus was kinda naïve (he gets a lot of character development after ME1). Wrex and Tali were their adorable selves. I didn’t like Liara, since so much time was spent on the whole ~*~barely legal~*~ aspect of her and she crushed a bit too hard on Shep. (I did end up romancing her though.) I ran around with Ash and Tali almost exclusively. (My entire ME career has been me desperately wishing I could play FemShep and romance Tali, since no way am I playing BroShep.)

Anything I left out?
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I have just discovered Adventures in Effulgence (index). It's a roleplay-type fork-in-the-road-AU story. The Vorkosigan part is 65 (starts with funerary proceedings) and it starts as a re-telling of Cetaganda.
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Simon, Aral, Cordelia etc
Warrant for a Day's Leave by [archiveofourown.org profile] jetta_e_rus – "After 'The Warrior's Apprentice', Aral and Simon need to reconnect. A translation by Philomytha of a Russian fic that was written for the Winterfair Open Exchange."
The Earring by [archiveofourown.org profile] Philomytha – "Aral and Cordelia on a state visit to Beta Colony."
the winter here is cold, and bitter by [archiveofourown.org profile] Raven – "Simon Illyan is loyal, loved and a perfect spy. One of these things is a lie."

Kareen, Serg, Ezar, Piotr etc
Second Son by [archiveofourown.org profile] jmtorres – "The birth of Kareen Vorbarra's second child was was well-attended, as befit that of an Imperial Heir."
In This Stranger World by [archiveofourown.org profile] lannamichaels –"Take this oath and press it between your palms." Piotr Vorkosigan -centric

Miles' generation
The Pivot by [archiveofourown.org profile] salable_mystic – "Gregor Vorbarra is 26 when he decides that jumping off a balcony is how he will best serve Barrayar."
We're All Mad Here by [archiveofourown.org profile] a_t_rain – "In which Dono Vorrutyer flirts very briefly with convention, and breaks up with convention to flirt with Olivia."
From the Old to the New by [archiveofourown.org profile] avanti_90 – "One man can alter the course of history. A random encounter leads Duv Galeni to change his mind and return to Komarr."
The Nature of Kings by [archiveofourown.org profile] Philomytha – "The Prime Minister makes a visit to Komarr while Galeni is posted there, and the political becomes personal for them both."

Finding Absolution by [archiveofourown.org profile] Lia – "Dag Benin, the day before his graduation into the ranks of the Cetagandan Imperial Service, reflects upon the events that led him on this path for the retrieval of the honor of his line."
Kama Sutra for Kamikaze by [archiveofourown.org profile] jetta_e_rus,[archiveofourown.org profile] Tel  – "A Cetagandan ghem-officer is captured by one of the dreadful barbarians of the Dendarii hills... and turns the tables on him."
Public Enemy Number One by [archiveofourown.org profile] jetta_e_rus – "Captain Duv Galeni issues visa to some aged Cetagandan tourist. A translation by belana of a Russian fic that was written for ilanal for the Winterfair Open Exchange." Sequel to Kama Sutra for Kamikaze
Notes from the Desk of a Barrayaran Cultural Liaison Officer by [archiveofourown.org profile] Ankaret – "The job of Barrayaran Cultural Liaison Officer is one that often makes its holder wish for a transfer, perhaps even to a weather station."

Texts Presented To The Emperor The Haut Fletchir Giaja, May He Reign Forever, On The Occasion Of His Visit To Sergyar by [archiveofourown.org profile] Ankaret – "A Cetagandan haut-poet writes RPF about Cordelia and Aral's relationship."

My bookmarks, for those interested. Any comments on the format? Any recs you'd like to share? (I concentrated on what I'd not found already recced elsewhere, and those which I didn't have to hunt down.)


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