Tag Archives: Daneekas Ghost

FMBD: Firsts

It's the end of the semester, so now I have some free time and I can really get after it and read some books.

I recently tried to quantify all the translated books I've read, and they pretty much fell into three categories: European, Latin American, and Murakami.* But there were no African writers and very few Asian writers (not even African writers writing in European languages).

This past month I listened to Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag - translated from Kannada (spoken in India) - it was a very short, but very well constructed family drama, with an undercurrent of violence.

And this month I'm picking up Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo. This is the first Malagasy novel that has ever been translated into English. Madagascar is already so strange and interesting, so I'm excited to see what the book is like.

So I've been expanding my reading in that direction, what have you all been reading?

* one notable exception was Han Kang's The Vegetarian (from S. Korea)- which is hallucinogenically great.

First Monday Book Day – Awards Season

The World Science Fiction Convention has come and gone in the past month which means one big thing to me. Hugo Awards. I like the Hugos because they are far enough into the year that most everything they recognize is widely available. Lots of people have lots of very valid criticism about the nominating and voting process for these awards (both are done by fans and convention-goers only), so “Hugo Award Winner” doesn’t necessarily correlate to “Absolute Best Stuff Out There”, but it’s a nice place to start for those who haven’t read every bit of sci-fi published in the last year.

Other big awards that have lead me to really good stories in the past are:

Nebula Awards

Locus Awards

World Fantasy Awards

That’s a lot of reading, and I won’t pretend that I got through everything on all those lists. Instead we’ll start with the Hugos and maybe fill in some editorializing about things I enjoyed that missed out.   As always, where I can find material freely available online, I've provided a link.

BEST SHORT STORY

The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere (John Chu) – Hugo Winner. A love story in a world where every time someone lies, they are immediately drenched with water.

If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love (Rachel Swirsky) –Nebula Winner. I really liked this story, the gimmick of the story almost wears thin, but it fits the events that put the whole thing in motion. Nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and WFA.

Selkie Stories Are for Losers (Sofia Samatar) – My favorite of the four. The narrator’s mother was a selkie, a seal who was trapped in human form when the narrator’s father stole her coat. Nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and WFA.

The Ink Readers of Doi Saket(Thomas Olde Heuvelt) – Nominated for Hugo and WFA. Set in a village in Thailand where all the wishes that are set in the river during a festival are collected. A good enough story.

THINGS HUGO MISSED?

Effigy Nights (Yoon Ha Lee) – Her collection Conservation of Shadows was incredibly good. If you like this story, get the book, because every single story in there I liked.  WFA nominee.

 

BEST NOVELLETE

The Lady Astronaut of Mars (Mary Robinette Kowal) -  Hugo Winner. You should read anything by Robinette Kowal, this is a good story about an aging astronaut having to revisit old disasters.

The Waiting Stars (Ailette deBodard) - Nebula Winner. From the same universe as “Immersion” (my favorite story from last year’s awards), deBodard is amassing a bunch of these really powerful pieces about alienation and culture. Another really good story.

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling (Ted Chiang) - I love Ted Chiang’s stories. He always does an amazing job of weaving technology and memory together. This story is very good, but I can see why it didn’t win.

The Exchange Officers (Brad Torgersen) (link goes to a .pdf) – I struggled to finish this one. Especially as it was in a category with three writers that I knew and had enjoyed in the past, this one felt as though it didn’t belong.

THINGS HUGO MISSED?

The Prayer of Ninety Cats (Caitlin Kiernan) - Nominated for Locus and WFA.  A story of fear and illusion framed by a movie that tells the (fairly graphic) story of Elizabeth Bathory.

BEST NOVELLA:

Equoid by Charles Stross - Hugo Winner.  This is pretty good horror. It uses Lovecraft as a jumping off point, but it will turn your stomach and sets up a pretty good monster. My only quibble is that it’s clearly a part of an existing universe (Stross’ Laundry series) and so it’s not self-contained like some others on the list.

Wakulla Springs (Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages) - Set in a Florida swamp over several generations. Nominated for nearly everything (Hugo, Nebula, WFA, Locus).

Six-Gun Snow White (Catherynne Valente). I have loved Valente’s work before this (“Silently and Very Fast” was one of my Hugo favorites a couple years ago) and this transposition of Snow White’s story to the American West is a pretty good story. Nominated for Hugo, Nebula, WFA, Locus - Winner of Locus Award.
(Not freely available that I know of)

The Butcher of Khardov (Dan Wells). A character study of a monster. The butcher’s motivations won’t really surprise you too much, but Wells does a pretty good job of telling the tale in an entertaining fashion.
(Not freely available)

The Chaplain’s Legacy (Brad Torgersen) (link goes to a .pdf) - Liked it fine. Didn’t surprise me much, though there were some scenes that were nicely executed. A chaplain who averted the destruction of the human race is called back into negotiations with an alien race.

THINGS HUGO MISSED?

The Weight of the Sunrise (Vylar Kaftan) - Nebula Winner.  Didn't get to read this, but I will sometime soon.

BEST NOVEL:

Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie) -

This won everything it was nominated for (Hugo, Nebula, Locus). I finally got a copy that I hope to get to this month. Everything I’ve heard has said this is very very good, so I’d recommend it based on that alone. If you read it in September, then we’ll have something for sure to talk about in the next Book Day post!

The Wheel of Time series (Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson) -

Enough has probably been said about this. If you feel like 10,000 pages of fantasy might be up your alley, this will scratch that itch.

Neptune’s Brood (Charles Stross) -

I don’t know Charles Stross’ work at all (save for his story in the novella category), but this was nominated for a Locus and a Hugo, so I’ve been tempted to check it out.

THINGS HUGO MISSED?

The Golem and the Jinni (Helene Wecker). I'm two-thirds of the way through this book right now, it seems as though it's a bit longer than it needs to be, but the title characters are interesting. Nominated for Locus, WFA, Nebula.

Stranger in Olondria (Sofia Samatar). Sounds interesting, and I really liked her short story, so I might get around to this one.  Nominated for Locus, WFA, Nebula

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman). I wasn’t impressed. But then I haven’t connected with Gaiman in the couple of chances I’ve afforded him. Nominated for Locus, WFA, Nebula. Winner of Locus award.

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That might get us started for some discussion.  What have you been reading?

Game 57 Recap: Twins 8 Cubs 7 (10 innings)

Denard Span could feel his brain swimming laps between his ears.

This whole game has been one big blur, people rising up out of the dizzying maelstrom of colors and sounds shouting that we were "coming back!". How many times do we have to come back in this one? It seemed like they had come back 3 or 4 times already, let's see there was the Doumit homer (ed. note - to give the Twins a 6-5 lead), the Plouffe homer (ed. note - to tie the game at 2), the time Babe the Blue Ox ran over the Cubs catcher while Jim Thome dressed as Paul Bunyan applauded from the third base coaches box (ed. note - ????), the time Mastrioanni hit a triple - wait, Mastrioanni hit a triple? this flu is seriously messing with my head (ed. note - Mastrioanni did indeed hit a triple, it scored Dozier and tied the game at 5), and now Morneau had tripled to score Willingham and Gardy is shouting something at me.

Liddle is next to me now. Suddenly I'm on the field. Third base, I think. Yes. I focus all my energy on the bright yellow dragon standing in the batters box (ed. note - Casilla, probably). I hear the crack of the bat and I just start running. It's only after I get back to the dugout that Joe explains to me that I was out by about 20 feet and looked kind of like a fool. Honestly, at this point I'm more focused on not passing out than whether the game is over or not.

Because of that focus it took me a while to realize that I might have to bat. I'm conscious enough to realize this is probably a bad idea as the pitcher's mound currently appears to be occupied by a particularly malevolent shade of purple to my eyes. Josh Willingham looks at me in the on-deck circle and asks if I'm feeling OK. I try to reassure him, but given his look of concern, I'm guessing I ended up speaking in tongues again. I hear him mutter "I had better just take care of this myself." As he walks up to the plate.

Game 39 Recap: Twins 11 – Brewers 3

MINNESOTA 11 -- MILWAUKEE 3
Twins Record: 13 - 26 (5th in the Central, 30th in MLB)
Highest WPA - Mauer (3 for 5, 2 2B, 3 RBI), Span (4 for 5, 3 R, 3 RBI), Bullpen (3.2 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 SO)
Fangraphs - MLB Recap

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The only thing more surprising than my little brother giving a speech at his high school graduation last night was seeing that the Twins won their third in a row while we celebrated his being named valedictorian.

Game 32 Recap: Twins 7 – Blue Jays 6

MINNESOTA 7 -- TORONTO 6
Twins Record: 9 - 23 (5th in the Central, 30th in MLB)
Highest WPA - Doumit (1 for 2, 2 BB, 2 RBI), Mastroianni (2 for 4, 3 RBI), Bullpen (4 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 0 BB, 2 SO)
NOTES - Twins hitters drew 9 walks, 5 of those runners scored.
Fangraphs - MLB Recap
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Rain delay pushed this one into a West-Coast game time-slot, and with Blackburn going against the homer-happy Jays lineup, you could be forgiven for turning in early. If you did, you will not be surprised to learn that the Jays hit 4 home-runs (Bautista with 2) that accounted for 5 of their 6 runs. But the Twins, armed with the ability to watch Kyle Drabek and Carlos Villanueva throw lots and lots of pitches (not many for strikes), would put across a bunch of runs without hitting any balls over the fence.

Ryan Doumit, who has been hitting well (last 3 weeks - .275/.350/.549), started things off with a 2-run single in the first to erase the 1-0 deficit resulting from Bautista's first homer. Then a nice mix of walks (Mauer, Doumit, Parmelee) and doubles (Span, Willingham) in the 5th broke the game open for the Twins as Darin Mastrioanni's first big-league hit came with the bases loaded to drive in two and cap the 4-run inning.

Blackburn did everything he could to give all those runs right back, giving up 3 runs without recording an out in the 6th, but got pulled with the score 6-5. Both teams would add a run in the end to get us to the final score, with Capps pitching a scoreless ninth to earn a save.

The HR that Perkins allowed to Encarnacion was only the second time all season that a Twins reliever has allowed a run in a Friday game (3 runs allowed in 16 innings on Friday this season - 1.69 bullpen ERA). If one were only paying close attention to the games that one had to recap on Friday nights, one might conclude the bullpen has been pretty good.

Game 25 Recap: Twins 3 – Mariners 2

MINNESOTA 3 -- SEATTLE 2
Twins Record: 7 - 18 (2-9 since my last recap, oh boy)
Highest WPA - Mauer (1 for 3, 2 BB, RBI), Bullpen (3 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 5 SO)
Fangraphs - MLB Recap

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Twins win!

Mariners bullpen revealed to be vastly inferior to Minnesota equivalent!

Recap posted much later than expected!

Joe Mauer drove in a key run!

We face King Felix tonight! (focus on the positive)

Game 14 Recap: Twins 5 — Rays 4

MINNESOTA 5 -- TAMPA BAY 4
Twins Record: 5- 9
Lowest WPA - Hendriks (5.2 IP, 4 R, 5 H, 2 BB, SO)
Highest WPA - Willingham (1 for 4, 2B, BB, 3 RBI), Carroll (2 for 3, 2 R, 2 BB, 2B), Bullpen (3.1 IP, O H, 1 BB, 2 SO)
Fangraphs - MLB Recap

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Denard Span and Jamey Carroll were on base 6 times in this one (1 double, 3 singles, 2 walks in 10 PA) and scored 4 runs. Joe Mauer could have driven in all 5 runs, but left the bases loaded for Willingham in the 7th because Josh is new to the team and wants to feel like he's contributing. AmenableBacon extended his hitting streak to 14 games, and continues to lead the team in quite a few offensive categories (BA/OBP/SLG/HR/RBI/2B/R/TB/HBP).

The bullpen was stellar getting 13 outs in 14 batters, including Matt Capps retiring Longoria, Scott, and Joyce in order in the ninth. Fun fact: Coming into the 9th, those three hitters hit a homerun every 15.9 PA against the Twins, compared to every 22.7 PA against all other teams. That includes the homeruns by Joyce and Longoria earlier in this game.

The Twins April schedule has been pretty tough, but since being steamrolled by the Orioles, the Twins are 5-6 against LA, Tex, NY, and TB.

Game 7 Recap: Rangers 4 — Twins 1

MINNESOTA 1 -- TEXAS 4
Twins Record: 2-5
Lowest WPA - Swarzak (7 IP, 4 R, 0 BB, 3 SO), Mauer (1 for 4, SO, GIDP)
Highest WPA - Willingham (1 for 2, R, BB, HBP)
Fangraphs - MLB Recap

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The Twins made some solid contact in the first few innings, but Texas made some sparkling defensive plays to keep the damage to a Danny Valencia sac fly in the second. 1-0 Twins for the first time all season. But would it be enough?

It would not. Swarzak put up another perfectly reasonable start, the big Texas inning was one where the Twins needed a sparkling defensive play or two. Instead the first 5 Rangers reached (4 singles and an error) resulting in 3 runs. Minnesota would get a few guys on base over the course of the game but never get the big hit to bring the game back within reach.

There are plenty of people who will say Texas is better than the Twins. Tonight the Rangers got a little bit more pitching, a little bit more hitting, and a little bit more defense. That was enough to make this a not terribly exciting end to the Twins longest winning streak of the year.