([syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed May. 26th, 2017 08:00 am)

Posted by Carrie S


Winter Tide

by Ruthanna Emrys
April 4, 2017 · Tor.com
HorrorScience Fiction/Fantasy

Winter Tide is the first novel in the Innsmouth Legacy series (it was preceded by a novella, The Litany of Earth). It’s one of a wave of recent books that re-imagines the legacy of H.P. Lovecraft in a feminist and otherwise inclusive and progressive light.

It’s probably possible to enjoy this book without knowing anything about its inspiration, but here’s a refresher on the original Innsmouth story. “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” was written by H.P. Lovecraft (1890 – 1937). Lovecraft was a creepy dude who was racist, and when I say, racist, I mean that even his contemporaries were all, “Dude, maybe dial it down.” Here is an incomplete list of people and things that Lovecraft disliked:

  1. Jewish people (except his wife, who had “assimilated” to his satisfaction)
  2. Homosexuality
  3. Anyone who didn’t fit his definition of “white,” which was most people, including the Welsh
  4. Immigrants
  5. The theory of relativity

Lovecraft had a good quality, which was that he could tell stories that were creepy in a way no one had seen before. He’s most famous for his Cthulhu mythos, which consisted of a series of stories about terrifyingly indifferent gods. In one of these stories, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, the human inhabitants of Innsmouth, Massachusetts interbreed with gods of the sea to become “fish-men.” This results in “the Innsmouth look,” which involves bulging eyes, pale skin, and narrow faces. The narrator of the story reports his suspicions of human sacrifice to the authorities. Everyone who lived in Innsmouth disappears and they are rumored to be locked in internment camps. From the point of view of the story, justice is served, although for reasons I refuse to spoil, the ending is either happy or sad depending on what you make of it.

Winter Tide flips the script by making one of the inhabitants of Innsmouth the heroine of the story. In the world of Winter Tide, the Innsmouth population was indeed incarcerated in camps, some time around 1900. They were moved to deserts, where they were forbidden to read and write. Many were subject to medical experimentation and torture. They were denied the salt they loved and needed.

By 1942, almost all of the Innsmouth people have died and the camps are almost empty. Two of the last survivors in the camp are Innsmouth children Caleb and Aphra. Their parents die, along with almost everyone else, in the camp. When the American government decides to incarcerate Japanese-American citizens (an actual historical event that lasted from 1942 – 1946) they move Japanese-Americans into the almost vacant camps. A Japanese-American family takes care of Caleb and Aphra and continues to raise them after the war, along with their own children.

The main part of the story begins in 1949, when Aphra is approached by FBI Agent Ron Spector. He tells Aphra that the FBI suspects the Russians of trying to learn how to take over people’s bodies, and that they are using secrets stolen from Miskatonic University’s collection of arcane lore to do it (Miskatonic, in Lovecraft’s mythology, is a university of all things mysterious and supernatural). Aphra agrees to help Spector stop the Russians from acquiring the secret of body swapping.

That’s the plot – but most of the story involves Aphra building a team that consists almost entirely of H.P. Lovecraft’s worst nightmares. In addition to Caleb and Aphra, the team consists of a gay bookseller and a gay FBI Agent, Aphra’s Japanese-American sister by (informal) adoption, a Yith (ancient being) in the body of an older female math professor, a young woman studying at the university, and a Black woman. I believe one of the characters makes a brief reference to being Jewish. The team progresses from tentative allies to found family (one of my favorite tropes).

The other major element of the book is Aphra and Caleb’s return to the deserted town of Innsmouth. Not all of their family lived on land. Caleb and Aphra are amphibious (“human, just a subspecies”) and will one day mature into a form that lives in the ocean. Their hope is that they may have some family still left in the Atlantic. As they struggle to reclaim their heritage, they both have to figure out how to move forward with their lives.

The pace of this book is very slow, but I loved the characters and atmosphere so much that I didn’t care. The fogs of San Francisco and the mists of the Atlantic frame the story in a beautiful Lovecraftian symmetry. There are spells and tentacles, intrigue, and a suitably creepy library at Miskatonic University. Basically, the Lovecraftian tone, the feel of the thing, is dead on, no pun intended.

This book takes the great parts of Lovecraft’s world building (general weirdness, a sense of our insignificance in the scale of the universe, tentacles, fogs, creeping horror, references to many Lovecraft stories) and uses it to work towards social justice. All of the main characters that are human have dealt directly with racism, mass incarceration, genocide, homophobia, cultural appropriation, sexism, or a combination. This makes it heavy read but also an exciting one, not because of the plot itself, although it has many exciting moments, but because there is a sense that people who have been downtrodden will rise again. Plus, at intervals there’s food and companionship and jokes and flirtations.

I am very much looking forward to further books, but I’m honestly not that wrapped up in what actually happens. I just want to hang out more with Aphra and her found family, not to mention her family under the sea. It’s a great story and a seamless subversion of Lovecraft’s most repellent views while simultaneously being a tribute to his greatest accomplishments.

([personal profile] nny May. 26th, 2017 09:11 am)

I am still teaching, although that may soon change. It is a job that takes every single part of my life and offers very little that is positive in return. That may be my particular school, but I've been there for nearly three years now and I don't honestly have much left to give. The stress and sleeplessness is making me sick, and I'm very tired of having mandatory attendance meetings with a man who earns twice my wage and works 10-15 fewer hours a week. I also disagree with the whole new exam spec.

I am still in my little Nottingham flat, and I love how long it's been since I've moved. I'd like a garden at some point, but considering how very scraping by I have been, that's not likely any time soon. My living situation, however, is mostly good.

I've been writing practically daily for a few months now, and it's of varying quality but it feels kinda good. Niche pairings reduce the pressure. XD

I've been reading mostly K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk, because it turns out that I have a favourite niche genre and it's historical gay supernatural romance. I have however just bought Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, both of which I intend to read over half term. I do really need to make a mandatory tally though, in which I am not allowed to buy a new book until I've read the ridiculous number in my flat that I haven't read yet...

In terms of watching... I have this anxiety thing where watching new things is hard. I look at Netflix, at all the beautiful things that I have no doubts whatsoever that I will love, and instead I go back to the familiar and safe. I did watch Shadowhunters, influenced by the endless Alec/Magnus gifs on Tumblr, but I promise I'll never buy the books. It was ridiculous prettiness, which was both what I expected and needed, and in the shape of the romance greatly resembles ridiculous Regency romances, so very much my cup of tea. I'd most like to watch Black Sails and American Gods next, but am unsure how to go about doing so.

I want very much to form a platonic sort of marriage with someone so that I don't have to pay bills alone.

What have you been up to?

Posted by SB Sarah

It’s our live show, recorded Friday, May 5, 2017, at the Romantic Times BookLovers Convention in Atlanta! We had wine, snacks, and a room full of somewhat tired and entirely awesome podcast fans, and I’m so excited to share the audio with you! We start with a conversation with Robin Bradford, known on Twitter as @Tuphlos, and we talk about trends we hear about and trends she witnesses as a librarian. We also discuss types of swag, compose our perfect catnip book, and take recommendation requests. Then I introduce a friend of mine, Janna McGregor, the debut author of The Bad Luck Bride, which came out the Tuesday of RT, May 2. Funny enough, when she came up for a quick Q&A, one of the readers in the audience had already read her book and recommended it to everyone.

Massive, bountiful thanks to our Patreon supporters, without whom this would not have been possible.

Thanks to Beth, who brought an entire bottle of wine because she is noble and makes wonderful choices.

Thanks to Mel, Erin, Elizabeth, and everyone else who helped me with the technical setup.

Thanks to Robin Bradford, Janna MacGregor, Amanda, Carrie, Elyse and RedHeadedGirl.

Thanks to everyone who came to the show and made it so much fun.

And most of all, thank you for listening, for subscribing, leaving a review, telling a friend, or checking out our Patreon page. You’re the reason I’m still doing this. So thank you.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

You can find Robin Bradford on Twitter, and you should because she’s hilarious.

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us at PodcastPickle and on Stitcher, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

Thanks to our sponsors:

More ways to sponsor:

Sponsor us through Patreon! (What is Patreon?)

What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

Our music is provided each week by Sassy Outwater, whom you can find on Twitter @SassyOutwater.

This is from Caravan Palace, and the track is called “Lazy Place.”

You can find their two album set with Caravan Palace and Panic on Amazon and iTunes. And you can learn more about Caravan Palace on Facebook, and on their website.

Podcast Sponsor

Audible LogoThis podcast is brought to you by Audible!

There are two features of Audible I want to mention.

First: Audible Matchmaker! If you’ve purchased a lot of ebooks (and I know that you have) this tip may rock your world a little.

You may be able to buy Audible titles at a discount because you own the ebook – and if you go to the  Audible Matchmaker page, you’ll see which titles are available to you.

Listening to a book you’ve already read can be a wonderful experience. For me, sometimes the story sounds different, and I notice elements I may not have paid much attention to. This happened to me with the Call of Crows series by Shelly Laurenston.

Plus, listening to someone telling you a story while you cook or stitch or knit or even sit still is terrifically relaxing. I listened to a new nonfiction title, Radical Candor by Kim Scott, while waiting for my sons at their music lesson. Half an hour later I felt like I’d had a nap, when really I’d just listened to an audiobook.

Second feature? Whispersync for Voice. You can switch back and forth between reading and listening to the audiobook across many devices, including Amazon’s Kindle and Echo, without ever losing your place or missing a word.  You can read, then switch to the audio, then switch back to the Kindle version, and you won’t lose your place. Seriously. It’s kinda magical.

You can get a free audiobook if you sign up for a 30 day trial at our special URL: Audible.com/smartpodcast! If you use that there URL, thank you thank you!

Thanks, Audible!

Remember to subscribe to our podcast feed, find us on iTunes, via PodcastPickle, or on Stitcher.
cofax7: Aeryn: Completely off the rails (FS - Aeryn off the Rails -- Saava)
([personal profile] cofax7 May. 25th, 2017 10:33 pm)
So I saw Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 tonight, and spoilers still use a Walkman )


In other news, I would really like to go a year or two without a family medical emergency, y'all. But with luck I'll be able to make Lance Armstrong jokes with P. for the rest of our lives...
Charlie Chaplin's Love Yourself Manifesto (which he may or may not have written; there is some confusion about this, but I am keeping the name on it as that is how I have heard of it...) behind cut for length )
elayna: (McShep So Close)
([personal profile] elayna May. 25th, 2017 08:51 pm)
I stopped by Starbucks today for a mocha. I try to keep it a weekly treat. I ended up in line behind a woman who could have used some caffeine before she tried to order. "Um...oh...I want a grande. Latte. With... um two shots..." etc. I was very concise, tall, mocha, hot.

Hers got made in a cup, I didn't even know they had cups that small. Maybe it was the kid's hot chocolate size. So it had to be remade, and then mine came out, extra hot. I did not say extra hot, and I did not want extra hot, because I wanted to drink it on the way to work, but I didn't want to deal with getting an ice cube added, so moseyed on.

And I thought... I can't start my day grumpy because my overpriced coffee drink order is messed up. That's ridiculous. So what can I do with this? Clearly, it's not just that the barista needs hearing aids. No, it's something else. It's ... a barista AU! Because Rodney McKay is actually an excellent barista. He's on a full scholarship, earning his Ph.d., but even full scholarships don't cover all the incidentals. He loves coffee, so it's the perfect job for him. He is detail-oriented and customers love the artistic flourishes he makes in the foam.

Only there's a guy with a gun in the back room, holding one of Rodney's co-workers hostage, and Rodney doesn't know what to do. Only he does know that the cop in his shiny blue uniform will be coming in soon for his morning venti bold coffee. Rodney figures that if he's making mistakes, the cop will realize something is off. There does seem to be a brain under that spiky nonsense that masquerades as hair. Will the guy pay enough attention? Or will he give him a quizzical look with an arched eyebrow and mosey off?
Does Rodney dare writing an SOS on the cup? Is there a cultural reference about kidnapping that he can make, maybe something geek-oriented that the hostage taker wouldn't overhear and understand?

Think, Rodney, think! You're a genius!


I've never actually thought about a barista AU before, but that kept me amused on the drive.
elanya: Pensive pony (Default)
([personal profile] elanya May. 25th, 2017 10:39 pm)
I mean technically I did already update today, but that was supposed to be for yesterday!

I got a lot of actual work done today? Which was good! Yay! I'm excited! I have a meeting tomorrow which will probably be less exciting, but enh, whatever. the weekend is coming! yay!

And the Jukebox deadline! Ahh! I know I have the story under control at this point, but I still might need to ask for an extension /o\ But my beta'cheerreading folks think it's good so that's also encouraging!

The knitting project I started as a quick portable project for knit night and bus knitting is really not good or that purpose @_@ For one thins, it is cabled lace. For another, the directions are really kind of badly written in some ways. Ahh well. I am enjoying it but it requires more focus than I had anticipated! The yarn is really pretty :3
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
([personal profile] oursin May. 25th, 2017 09:20 pm)

And this year I did manage to get a massage from the amazing massage therapist at the place on the square, it was quite entirely wonderful.

Yesterday and earlier today it was still quite cool and cloudy, but seems to have warmed up by late afternoon.

Spent a mostly quiet and lazy day before going to the A Room of One's Own Reading.

Have managed to see and have some degree of conversation with the old familiar faces.

Have registered and must now look through the schedule to see what (apart from panels I am actually on) I want to go to.

Really, no news here, pass along.

echan: Kaworu Nagisa from Evangelion (Default)
([personal profile] echan May. 25th, 2017 07:21 pm)
[personal profile] jmtorres and I are moving to a penthouse apartment in our current building, which was not at all the plan, but it was the winner in terms of low rent reasonable floorplan and non-insane building management.

But still: penthouse. Comes with the benefit of appeasing my very childish impulse that getting off the elevator on a higher floor than other people makes you more important.

The sign for the apartment says "Penthouse 1308". Mail is routinely delivered using "1308" or, more pretentiously, "PH08". Amazon 'corrected' the unit number to "Ph 1308". The power company, and only the power company, insists on using "PH8" which we only figured out after much back and forth.

The mailbox was overflowing when I checked it, and judging by all the election fliers it hadn't been emptied in at least two months. There was a small shipping envelope that was actually addressed to another unit, had been delivered wrong. I was uncertain, at 6am when I checked the mail and found this, how to deliver it to the other unit without making it appear that I had kept it from them for however many weeks it had sat in that mailbox. I went to bed to figure it out later and when I woke up [personal profile] jmtorres had already taken it to building management to handle, because she is wiser than me.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
([personal profile] kindkit May. 25th, 2017 08:00 pm)
It's a little embarrassing when you hear a great song on the radio, and you google the lyrics as soon as you get home so you can find out what it was, and it turns out to have been released thirty years ago. And apparently was a big hit at the time.

Ah, well, it's new to me?

dira: Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Default)
([personal profile] dira May. 26th, 2017 01:38 am)
So there’s a new Twin Peaks… thing…? out? I guess? And I have never seen Twin Peaks (but am fairly well spoiled for whodunnit and so on) and have pretty firmly decided that, NOPE, NOT FOR ME, TOO CREEPY AND AWFUL.

…So tonight I was like “hey, I want to watch some TV and obviously Twin Peaks is not even in the running, but what should I watch? Leverage? Sense8?”

And then Netflix recommended me The Keepers. About the unsolved murder of a nun, and how her murder connected to the horrific sexual abuse of teen girls in the school where she taught because THAT IS MUCH LESS CREEPY AND AWFUL AND HORRIFYING THAN TWIN PEAKS? OR. THE OPPOSITE OF THAT. SO OBVIOUSLY I WATCHED THAT.

(I mean, the series seems amazingly well done and I’m sure I’m going to watch the rest of it, just, you know, this is EXACTLY LIKE that time I decided not to read the second and third books of the Hunger Games trilogy because they were too grim and depressing and instead I went and read a book about the Donner party. GUESS WHAT, GRIM AND DEPRESSING AND THE ADDED HORROR OF ACTUALLY BEING TRUE.)

from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2rEW9hz
riverlight: A rainbow and birds. (Default)
([personal profile] riverlight May. 25th, 2017 09:02 pm)
So I've been on vacation for the last few days, and it's been heavenly: three lovely, slowly-unspooling, sunshine-mellow days where I've slept late and wandered around outside and pet my Wicked Stepmother™'s cats and basically done nothing I didn't want to do. I've drunk wine and gone on a field trip to Trinity West Cornwall to meet Colleague Bob and the burros, and answered my email backlog from December (!) and read a bunch of Interesting Things on the Internet, and oh yeah read a lot of fanfic too. It's been lovely, is what I'm saying; and everything from the soft ancient percale sheets on my bed to the lilies-of-the-valley by my bedside has been worth bowing down to in gratitude, up to and including my lovely father, who has cooked me good food and laughed at my jokes and made me coffee in the mornings and discussed government ethics over lunch (which, despite my moaning on twitter, was actually exactly the kind of thing I love) and generally been his best and most expansive generous self. 
So it's been lovely, is what I'm saying, and today was nothing different; except that just now, over dinner, dad and I got involved in a discussion of politics. And dad and I—as you guys may or may not know—are kindred spirits in many ways, in our radical progressive values, and our commitment to anti-capitalist practice, and our belief in racial equality, and our sincere desire for every being to be happy and thrive. Dad is difficult and argumentative and often selfish and has made me cry more than any other person on the planet, but—and I say this knowing that this is what people always say about the people that hurt them—he's also, truly, one of the loveliest people I know. He has the ability to make everyone feel welcome, and loves people in that way that's full of curiosity and means he can get into conversations with everyone from the Guyanian woman on the subway to the security guard at the airport, and he'll find common ground with each of them. He's the one who taught me to march for anti-war causes and for gay marriage, and he's the one who supported me in coming out even though he didn't understand the least bit about what it meant to be queer. 

He's lovely, too, is what I'm saying. He's far from perfect, and part of me knows that if I described his behaviour to someone without context they'd possibly think he's abusive. (And, yes: I'm aware enough to recognize what that means, that I say this!) But he's also the kind of person who that descriptor won't cover; if I could embody his best values I'd be happy, and I am who I am because of my dad, and I love him and honor him and respect him even when I have a difficult time with him.

And all that being said: I don't know what to do with this. Take all that as context.

Over dinner, we got into a political discussion, and it got heated, and sharp, and we disagreed. He was all "Hillary Clinton is evil" and "Wall Street has taken over the world and there's no such thing as democracy", and I was countering him with "Well, yes, but I suspect we're all shaped by the institutions we're part of, HRC included, so perhaps evaluate her through that lens," and "Yes, well, if you look at things from a purely fiscal policy point of view of course things are terrible, but there are other points of view through which you can analyze and evaluate our political system, and that being the case I think you shouldn't conflate the Republicans and the Democrats—"

But he either can't or won't understand my arguments, (and, honestly, I think it's 'can't'). He's a believer in the Deep State, and in some grand Wall Street conspiracy, and he honestly (apparently) doesn't think that Trump is "really" connected to Russia, and—

Well. I don't know, in any way I can prove, that these are alt-right dog-whistle arguments, but they certainly feel that way. And so there's nothing I can say that will convince him. But all I know is that when my stepmother A. started talking about institutional racism and how it's possible to adhere to the white supremacist belief system even without knowingly being an Avowed White Supremacist, dad exploded. He winged his water glass against the wall, and leapt to his feet, and yelled in anger—as angry as I've ever in my life seen him—that "he is NOT a white supremacist, he's NOT." 

And he's not, of course, not if you count behavior, but— I didn't, I couldn't stick around for A. to argue that she was talking about unconscious, inherited belief systems that we all—all white people, her and me included—share. I couldn't do it. In the middle of his diatribe I left the kitchen, and walked to the other end of the house, and—even though I had no shoes on and didn't have my cell phone—I unlocked the historical "front" door that we never use (not in the 30 years I've lived in this house) and stripped off my socks, and left them on the stoop, and walked barefoot out of my house in order to escape. I sat under a tree on the town green for 45 minutes, hiding from cars as they came by in case they were dad or A., and then finally walked up the hill to my aunt and uncle's place, thinking I'd tell them that dad and I had had a fight and could I sit on their couch for a while while I let him cool down. 

Only my aunt and uncle weren't home. So instead I used their spare key to break into their house (!), and then I called Colleague M (to take shameless advantage of the fact that he loves me enough to pick up the phone and deal with feelings even if he doesn't like feelings in any capacity). And then I made myself three screwdrivers and cuddled my aunt's dog and typed up this entry, and since Aunt & Uncle still aren't home, I guess I had better sign off. 

I feel deeply teenager-ish in writing this: this kind of tell-all isn't quite de rigeur for someone in her 30s, is it, even if I am the type to say 'fuck it' to societal expectations of what's allowed? But I guess my conclusion is: you guys, I would love to hear your opinion on this. What would you have done? My heart and my gut told me to run away, to leave the house, and then they told me not to go back home, but also not to call my mom and go to her place. So I listened to those instincts and split the difference and went to Aunt & Uncle's instead of going back to the house of misery (aka dad's place) or the house of Your Father Is Bad and Should Feel Guilty (aka my mom's). I think this was right. It felt right. But. 

But. What do you think?
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([personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets May. 25th, 2017 08:44 pm)

⌈ Secret Post #3795 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.


More! )


Secrets Left to Post: 01 pages, 10 secrets from Secret Submission Post #543.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.
tielan: (Default)
([personal profile] tielan May. 26th, 2017 08:52 am)
At this point, I don't even know what Friday should feel like.

My week has been crazy busy - or feels that way. And then a group of women from church are apparently doing something tonight and I've been invited.

Tomorrow night, I am ABSOLUTELY STAYING HOME. There will be no stirring. Not the slightest step off the property once I get home from the osteo.

aldersprig: an egyptian sandcat looking out of a terra-cotta pipe (Default)
([personal profile] aldersprig May. 25th, 2017 11:49 pm)
MARKED - 8.6

“Hey! I’m nice” The voice came from behind Lorque and Nilien and, as one, they tensed and turned around. Not Istore, not Istore… Chason was looking indignantly at them.


“We were saying Istore wasn’t - coming up right behind you,” Lorque ended unhappily. “Hi, Istore, did you get that math problem figured out?”

“I did. What’s wrong with you? You look like you just ate a lemon.”

read on...
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([personal profile] ladysugarquill posting in [site community profile] dw_community_promo May. 25th, 2017 08:44 pm)
Harry/Ginny Daily has moved to dreamwidth! Join us @ [community profile] hgdaily  for your weekly (mostly) dose of Harry/Ginny fics, art, recs  & news :)

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