ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)
After reading another article about how Neanderthals may have contributed even more to the genetic mix of modern humans outside of Africa than previously assumed, I've been wondering how these groups of humans would have seen each other.

Would they have actually thought the other group to be more different than other groups of their own "species"? (I'm actually not sure you can really call these human subtypes different species when they could and did reproduce with fertile offspring, but from what I gather the species concept overall just breaks down at certain points when you poke at it anyway.)

I mean, sure when you look at Neanderthal reconstructions they look somewhat different from us, but not different like a chimpanzee, and modern humans among ourselves also have quite a lot of variation (though I'm not sure how much of that had developed at what time), not just skin color, hair and eye color but facial features, size etc. leading to the whole "human races" construction, and the difficulty to get to a consensus that we are in fact all fundamentally the same. So if you are an early Homo Sapiens and see a Neanderthal would you think them really "other" or just somewhat "other" (i.e. like some unrelated other clan of Homo Sapiens)? They also had tools, fire and probably art too after all.

Of course we probably won't ever know, and afaik they haven't found sites of mixed groups that might be a sign that the mixing was even somewhat consensual. And there doesn't seem to have been that much mingling considering both kinds shared Europe several thousand years.

So then another interesting question is of course whether the later Neanderthals were aware that they were slowly going extinct. I imagine they must have been on some level, as their groups got rarer and modern humans more numerous, but then each group might think it a local problem?

I feel like there should be more speculative fiction about this. The examples with Neanderthal appearances I've read were either older (like Auel) and/or more like SF with alternate timelines where they didn't die out (like Neanderthal Parallax) and such.


Feb. 11th, 2017 20:19
ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)
Recently I talked with my niece about Harry Potter, Star Wars, the MCU and fiction in general, and apparently she's dissatisfied with the genre convention that in the end the "good guys" always win.

Now I don't get that at all, because for me one of the main draws of fiction, and genre fiction in particular, is that it is escapist and less depressing than reality, so I pretty much only like genres that for the most part abide by the convention to deliver a happy ending, i.e. I like fanfic, romance, YA, mysteries, and the kind of SF&F where heroes win, and am much less into e.g. horror or "literary" fiction or other genres where that isn't the convention. Even when I read stuff like apocafic or such, I ultimately want it to end hopeful for at least the main characters.

So I don't really have any recs for media (books, movies or tv series) that end badly for the heroes overall, because even when I encounter the situation of just some of them not making it (like in HP) I'm on the look out for fix-it fic. But I wondered whether others might have recs that I could pass on to my niece to satisfy her odd (to me) preference for some variety and a more fraught fictional experience.

Though I'm not sure whether she wants depressing stuff or more things along the line of the fanfic type revisionist AUs with perspective shifts, because she mentioned that she was kind of rooting for Loki and Tom Riddle and such, i.e. where the story just takes the bad guys' side and for them it is okay, even though the world is then in the hands of a megalomaniac. I mostly dislike that type of fanfic as well. And I don't look for that kind of "twist" in original fiction either.

It would have to be stuff that is available in German and at least somewhat suitable for an eight year old.


Nov. 2nd, 2016 14:22
ratcreature: RatCreature does the Snoopy Dance. (snoopydance)
I just got a mail that Amazon shipped my copy of The Hanging Tree! It's supposed to arrive on Friday. :D
ratcreature: grumpy (grumpy)
I seem to be unable to actually stick with reading anything right now, whether fanfic or pro. This is really frustrating, for my reading to be so frazzled rather than feeling immersive and relaxing.

I need need to find something that really hooks me. Unfortunately I don't even know what exactly I am looking for. Several of the things I started and then stopped reading were things I usually enjoy. Have you read anything recently that you couldn't put down?
ratcreature: RatCreature as dragon (dragon)
I've been looking at Amazon to pre-order, and it looks for this one there will be a paperback available at around the same time (publishing date June 16) as the expensive hardcover (June 14)? Does anyone know whether this is correct?

With the last couple of volumes I've ended up getting the hardcover because paperbacks were out much later, but having a hardcover is not worth paying more than twice as much for just two days earlier, especially since I've been not as into the series in the later volumes. And hardcover is harder to carry around.

But I've had Amazon advertising wrong dates before when there were multiple US/UK editions available for pre-order, and ended up pre-ordering an edition (based on picking the cheapest), that then didn't come out at that date after all. (Most recently that happened to me with Foxglove Summer, iirc.)
ratcreature: reading RatCreature (reading)
I currently use Calibre to organize my ebooks, and I wonder if it would work out to use it to backup and keep track of the fanfic I downloaded on my tablet as well.

I do not want both mixed up, because the fanfic would totally drown out the books by an order of magnitude, and also the tags I want to use for both are very different. I've seen an option in Calibre to create virtual "libraries", but I wonder whether that is really good for keeping things separate. Has anyone experience with using Calibre for both? Or a better system?

I'm a bit wary to import hundreds of stories into my Calibre Library only to find out it would be a mess I'd have to clean up manually...


Nov. 15th, 2014 10:59
ratcreature: RatCreature does the Snoopy Dance. (snoopydance)
I just got my copy of Foxglove Summer! It arrived faster than expected, and the delivery guy even rang *and* brought it up five flights of stairs to my door (rather than clandestinely dropping off a notification card, pretending I wasn't home to avoid said stairs).
ratcreature: grumpy (grumpy)
So last week I bit the bullet and preordered the UK hardcover edition of Foxglove Summer, assuming that would be sent to me as soon as it came out (normally Amazon is quite good about that), and then it seemed to be the earliest published (which makes sense if you want to sell the more expensive hardcovers). At that time available for preorder were that UK hardcover, a US paperback due in January and a UK paperback to be published next July.

Only when I checked now, apparently since then another UK paperback edition appeared in the options, that one also with a publishing date today. And the German Amazon is actually shipping that one and says it has in stock, whereas the info for estimated delivery times on the hardcover version now is that they'll deliver in 6-9 weeks, which seemed ominous for the chances of getting mine soon. So I switched my order over to the paperback which is now estimated to arrive on Monday (because I'm too cheap to pay extra for overnight shipping). Unfortunately it is not much cheaper than the hardcover, but the chances of getting it seem better. Somehow I find it quite frustrating that they kind of mislead me with their options last week, and that there is this confusion with the available editions changing like that.

Well, fingers crossed that I'll get the book soon. I was almost tempted to just get the Kindle version, but I don't like paying for DRMed ebooks that they can yank away from me again, so that I rather pay for the physical object that is mine. If there just weren't the stupid logistics of getting it to me.
ratcreature: RatCreature is conflicted, and ponders under the influence of hovering angel- and devil-RatCreatures. (conflicted)
I'm dithering whether I should pre-order the hardcover of Foxglove Summer, the fifth in the Rivers of London series, which comes out on November 13th, or wait for the paperback. It's harder because the paperback doesn't come out that much later, on January 8th, so it's not even a two month wait, not a year or anything, and that would be nine euro cheaper (almost twelve if I got the US paperback).

OTOH, I really like the series, so waiting longer than necessary would suck. Also Amazon seems kind of confused about the publishing date for the paperback, because it lists the UK paperback with both a January and a July date, and the US with a January one. So maybe the paperback would mean a longer wait after all. And it's one of those fandoms that I enjoy checking out in Yuletide, where there might be fanfic posted for it, and I'd have to avoid checking out those as well to avoid spoilers.


Jul. 23rd, 2013 18:03
ratcreature: RatCreature does the Snoopy Dance. (snoopydance)
Broken Homes already arrived today! Of course the delivery person didn't ring, even though I was home, seeing how the notification was already downstairs when I left at noon. Of course the note wasn't addressed to my name either, so I only found out that it was actually my package once the other had checked, found that it wasn't their package and corrected the notification, so I only found out when I came back this evening. Thankfully the store they dumped it at was still open at least. Sometimes I seriously wonder whether/how DHL tests for literacy before employing people.

However, this evening I will spend watching Pacific Rim, rather than start reading.
ratcreature: RatCreature bounces like Tigger. (bounce)
My copy of Broken Homes, the fourth in the Rivers of London series, is in the mail, even though I thought it was only coming out in a few days (also, some of Amazon's distribution warehouses in Germany are striking, so I wasn't sure whether my order would be affected). So I will have it earlier than I thought. Well, if the package is delivered properly.

I used to just have them deliver my packages to one of the automated machines, because the delivery people always hate coming up five flights of stairs and thus pretend I'm not home, even if I am, and my packages end up somewhere misplaced in the wild among half a dozen stores, the post office or neighbors I then can't reach. With the machine I'd have to fetch the package, but at least it was a sure thing. However they "improved" their service in that they made it more secure by demanding that you don't just receive an email and then authenticate yourself for the machine with a delivery card and PIN, but get a unique code on a cell phone via SMS. They won't send those via email, so if you don't own a cell phone you can't use that service anymore. So I'm back at the mercy of delivery people.

But, new Rivers of London!
ratcreature: RatCreature is confused: huh? (huh?)
I'm reading Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, and I know some others in my circle have read it, so maybe you can help with this. I'm not sure whether this is a mistake that wasn't caught in editing, or whether I misunderstand the timeline but in chapter eight Sunny says to Orlu "But you and I have been going to the same school since we were about five." (on page 141 in my edition), but earlier we were told that Sunny only moved to Nigeria from the US when she was nine. I don't get it.
ratcreature: sorry! (sorry!)
Sorry that the costume meme responses haven't yet been forthcoming, but I was so bothered by the Goodreads thing I mentioned in the last entry (where they switched away from Amazon and that messed up some book data they got from there) that I asked for the "librarian" rights to help fix the stuff myself. As a result a massive time suck event happened, as I'm correcting the data for my books and adding covers and so on. (And of course I first had to read the rule manual and learn the idiosyncratic conventions of the site to not mess things up.) But I haven't forgotten about the fashion meme.
ratcreature: reading RatCreature (reading)
Here's a list of books I've read this year. They are more or less arranged in the order I read them, but also grouped by series. You'll notice that the second half is rather dominated by German titles which is mostly because I was too broke to buy books due to all the vet costs I've had, so I was limited to the library selection. Thus I've read a mix of fantasy, historical YA and mysteries.

- Crown of Stars Vol. 6 & 7 (In the Ruins, Crown of Stars), by Kate Elliott
- Evernight series (Evernight, Stargazer, Hourglass, Afterlife), by Claudia Gray
- Mercy Thompson series 2-6 (Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, Silver Borne, River Marked), by Patricia Briggs
- Hendrik Bischop mysteries 1-5 (Der Tote im Fleet, Der eiserne Wal, Die rote Stadt, Der blaue Tod, Die Schattenflotte), by Boris Meyn
- Der Bilderjäger by Boris Meyn
- Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher
- Midnight Riot and Moon Over Soho, by Ben Aaronovitch
- Broken Kingdoms and The Kingdom of Gods, by NK Jemisin
- Julians Bruder, by Klaus Kordon
- Trilogie der Wendepunkte (Die roten Matrosen oder ein vergessener Winter, Mit dem Rücken zur Wand, Der erste Frühling), by Klaus Kordon
- Rosina mysteries 1-4 (Tod am Zollhaus, Der Sommer des Kometen, Lorettas letzter Vorhang, Die zerbrochene Uhr), by Petra Oelker
- Krokodil im Nacken and Auf der Sonnenseite, by Klaus Kordon
- Geschichte eines Deutschen, by Sebastian Haffner
- 1848, by Klaus Kordon

I also reread the Allison Kaine mysteries by Kate Allen and some by Patricia Cornwell.
ratcreature: reading RatCreature (reading)
Do book recommendation algorithms ever work for anyone? I mean, I've rated almost all the books I bought on Amazon in an attempt to see if this improves things, yet rarely seem the recs tempting or helpful. For one thing it insists on reccing me the n-th parts of series instead of the first, despite me not having bought the earlier ones. I'm not really interested in reading even the first of the The Wheel of Time series, let alone the 13th part, which Amazon apparently recced me due to having bought The Kingdom of Gods. Similarly I've now entered and rated quite a number of books on Goodreads, yet their recs are not all that helpful either. Admittedly sometimes books crop up that look interesting or some that I've read and liked (and just not entered), so they are not always completely wrong, but I have yet to really feel compelled to read a book from their list next. Well, at least Goodreads thinks I would like to read the first part of The Wheel of Time series (because I added LOTR) not the 13th.

Poll #8357 do book rec alghorithms work for you?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 24

Are the automated book rec algorithms on commercial or social book sites helpful for you?

View Answers

Yes, I frequently find new books to read, that I then like, through them.
0 (0.0%)

Yes, I've found good books more than once.
3 (12.5%)

Not really. Sometimes potentially interesting books may crop up, but they get lots in many meh or WTF? suggestions.
12 (50.0%)

Not really. The interesting books that come up are mostly ones I've already read or heard from so there is little added value.
5 (20.8%)

No, the suggestions never really fit.
3 (12.5%)

I don't try to find interesting books this way in the first place.
1 (4.2%)

I don't collaborate in getting data mined like this, and do not feed them my reading choices.
0 (0.0%)

ratcreature: grumpy (grumpy)
I'm reading the fifth volume of Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series, and just on the first couple of pages I've noticed several typos, missing letters and such. I get that one or two per book may slip through, but several in the first ten pages? I also noticed some in the previous volumes, but the frequency in this seems particularly high and even shoddier. I like the series well enough, but this is really annoying.
ratcreature: reading RatCreature (reading)
It's always somewhat embarrassing for me to do the "books I read over the year" memes, because most of my reading is fanfic (as my del.icio.us bookmarks show), so there are never many books to list, and I look illiterate. Anyway, last year I read:

Earth Logic, by Laurie J. Marks
Small Favor, by Jim Butcher
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon
Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer (actually the whole saga, i.e. Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn)
The Final Solution, by Michael Chabon
Victory of Eagles, by Naomi Novik
One Virgin Too Many, by Lindsey Davis
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, by Michael Chabon
A Companion to Wolves, by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews
Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon

Also two SGA tie-in novels:
Casualties of War, by Elizabeth Christensen
Blood Ties, by Sonny Whitelaw and Elizabeth Christensen
ratcreature: RatCreature as dragon (dragon)
My copy of Victory of Eagles arrived today, and I just fetched it from the package storage. Finally, after waiting forever to see the cliffhanger from the last volume resolved!
ratcreature: RatCreature is confused: huh? (huh?)
So, I started reading the second part -- though I'm not that far along yet -- and I really don't get how this vampire reaction to blood is supposed to work. Apparently even a little blood, like from a paper cut, taxes their control, unless they have lots of practice like Carlisle. Okay, whatever.

But how does that work while they are in a school where half the students will bleed three to five days per month?? Granted, it's not a lot of blood, but more than from a paper cut, so they must smell that. And it's not like they growl a lot at random girls from what I gathered. Is this explained somewhere? Did I miss something? Does menstrual bloood smell icky? What? I don't get it.
ratcreature: RatCreature as vampire (vampire)
I've just finished reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I picked it up because I was looking for something to read in the library, and I recognized the title because a couple of people on my f-list had mentioned the series. Also I have a soft spot for emo teenagers (I mean, I liked Roswell, and Everwood for example). Though I think this is the level of OTT teenage angst where even I get annoyed with the protagonists.

I'm actually not decided on what my final verdict on this book is. On the bright side, considering how little actually happens over the 500 pages, it is a fast and pleasant read. Not great with the language or anything, but it kept me reading well enough. Even though, like I said, almost nothing really happens. Granted, the print wasn't small and there was good amount of white space so you could probably have fit it on fewer pages but still. Barely any action and the heroine/POV character Bella tends to faint through it, so we miss it. Instead we get teen angst (more or less variations on "wah, he's so much more beautiful and graceful than ugly, clumsy me! how could he possibly like me? *sob*") and crying.

And as you might have gathered from my previous paragraph I wasn't that thrilled with the narrator Bella, and Edward -- the gorgeous vampire who likes Bella because she smells tasty, and more or less seems to angst over not eating her, while she angst over him being out of her league -- frequently annoyed me as well.

And yet I'm considering whether to read the sequel, so I can't honestly say that I disliked it. >.<

It's baffling.
ratcreature: reading RatCreature (reading)
My to-read pile of actual books is getting rather smallish. I mean, I still haven't read Water Logic by Laurie Marks, and Amazon assures me that my copy of the newest Dresden Files will get to me in the near(ish) future, but I'm looking for recommendations what to read after that. And since my f-list is much more widely read than me, I thought it can't hurt to ask.

As for what I'm looking for, the most important thing for me to enjoy a book is that there is at least one likable main POV character to identify with. Generally I can't stand books where the hero is a jerk, or you end up hating everybody. I also dislike ambiguous endings. There are exceptions to that, but in general I prefer plots to be resolved when the book ends, unless it's setup for the sequel. Also, I prefer there to actually be a plot with stuff happening rather than all internal and relationship conflicts. And for the plot to make sense and have not too many holes. OTOH I can overlook slightly clunky language (see the above example of the Dresden Files, though the later novels aren't quite as bad as the earlier ones). I guess I'm rather lacking in avantgarde sensibilities...

As for genres, I like sf and fantasy, unless the worldbuilding sucks, but I also like mysteries, though not so much the serial killer genre. Thrillers rarely do anything for me, nor does romance as the main plot. Another of my quirks is that I don't cope well if a ton of characters are introduced in quick succession. I have nothing against an epic scale in principle, if characters are added slowly, but I don't remember names easily, something which results in me being confused a lot with a certain kind of mystery for example, where you'd be introduced to a dozen people over a few pages.

So do you have any suggestions for me?
ratcreature: Who needs talent? Enthusiasm is fun!  (talent/enthusiasm)
A couple of weeks ago I borrowed Drawing and Painting Fantasy Beasts by Kevin Walker from my library (or rather the German edition of this), and I found it quite useful and interesting overall. Basically it's just a bunch fantasy creatures drawn as examples, but each creature comes with about four pages of step by step process description of the techniques used, and the different sketches and stages that went into the final work.

Initially I got it because I had never painted with acrylics, but generally found hobby painting books about acrylics my library had rather useless and boring. I mean, it's not that painting with some new medium was like repairing a motorcycle or any of the other things for which you really need either direct instruction or a book rather than just muddling along, and there's only so much variation to the theme of "you put color pigment on a surface" anyway, but this book has a neat introduction section that just lists different techniques with a little picture of how it looks, which makes it easier to try things than unguided trial and error and I'm lazy like that. Also I wanted to do dragons anyway, and this has examples of fantasy art done with acrylic paint (other techniques too) with step-by-step pictures, so that seemed like a good match.

The first part of the introduction is just the usual list of drawing and painting materials, and rather pointless. Frankly I wonder why nearly every such book feels the need to recap materials in a generic manner at the start. I mean, if you pick up a specialized drawing book you are most likely aware that there's a difference between watercolors, gouache, acrylics and oil paint, and that pastel chalk is different from oil pastels and so on. It's not that I haven't picked up some useful general info from skimming these chapters, because every now and then one will mention something I hadn't know of before, but overall I find them superfluous. Still, the list introducing the materials used is only four pages in this book, so it doesn't dwell, and then the introduction gets more specific with the neatly ordered examples of actually using the materials.

The main part is sections with fantasy beasts sorted by regions in which they supposedly live, and realized in a variety of techniques, both traditional and digital, though most involve acrylics or acrylics mixed with other media. I suspect that if you are already really experienced this book won't tell you much new, but since I've only started using acrylic paint it was useful to have illustrated examples like this for achieving different effects and textures, and getting ideas on what to do, though I have only tried a couple so far.

I've scanned a couple of pages to give you an idea of the way the process descriptions and illustrations look like, though obviously if you don't speak German the text of these scans that explain what was done in each step won't do much for you.
a few example pages behind the cut )
ratcreature: Like a spork between the eyes. (spork)
So I got The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards out of the library, because of my vague intention to draw more this year, and look for exercise ideas. Well, actually I got the German translation which doesn't have anything about brain sides in the title (and I wouldn't have borrowed it if it had, frankly).

Anyway, my overall impression can be summed up as: "Wow, that's a lot of pseudo-scientific 'wawawa wawa' (you know, like the adults go in the Peanuts?) for a couple of simple drawing exercises." Seriously, I skipped most of the endless and idiotic "brain modes" talk (or whatever it's called in the original) about supposedly "tricking" your brain into something to browse for the actual drawing stuff, and it still grated on me.

Some of the exercises sounded okay for drawing practice, but you could have probably cut about 200 pages of mumbo-jumbo from the total 300 pages without loosing any significant drawing content.
ratcreature: reading RatCreature (reading)
The memes where people list what books they've read the past year always end up really pathetic looking for me, because the bulk of my reading is fanfic, not actual books. So there's never much to show off. This year the handful of dead-tree fiction I've read was:

All nine volumes of the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher, i.e. Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, and White Night

Empire of Ivory, by Naomi Novik (and I've reread the previous parts, i.e. His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, and Black Powder War)

Tintenherz, by Cornelia Funke

Camouflage, by Joe Haldeman

The Dispossessed, by Ursula LeGuin

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell

I've also reread Dune again.

I started reading The Years of Salt and Rice, by Kim Stanley Robinson, but for some reason I put it aside (iirc it started slow? I don't really remember), and then I couldn't extend the time I loaned it from the library because someone else had reserved the book, and so I never finished it.

And I read three SGA tie-in novels, though I'm not sure whether those don't count more as fanfic:
The Chosen, by Sonny Whitelaw and Elizabeth Christensen
Entanglement, by Martha Wells
Exogenesis by Sonny Whitelaw and Elizabeth Christensen

Right now I'm in the middle of Fire Logic, by Laurie J. Marks, so I expect I'll finish that this year as well.

OTOH using my del.icio.us bookmarks, which overwhelmingly are just a log of my fanfic reading (though some are tagged as "to read"), to estimate the number of fanfics I read this year, that comes up to well over a thousand. Okay, so most of those are short stories, but some were awesome novels and novellas. Most recently Judas Doesn't Answer by Auburn (ca. 75,700 words), which is a gripping SGA/SG-1 mystery/suspense story I can definitely rec.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Rodney recoiling from a Lemon: Gaah! (rodney)
I've finished reading the SGA tie-in novel Exogenesis by Sonny Whitelaw and Elizabeth Christensen, and I mostly liked the action-adventure part, though I keep getting surprised by just how more creepy and morally corrupt the Ancients are in the tie-in novels even compared to the series where they are of somewhat dubious character to begin with. However the strong presence of emotionally damaged woobie!Rodney really wasn't my thing. Also, I continue to find the way the expedition treats the Athosians when the former once again triggered a disaster that affects everybody disturbing.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Harry Potter in a Quidditch uniform. (hp)
So, like many other people I spent much of today (well technically yesterday) reading the new Harry Potter book.

spoilers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Wraith. (wraith)
After seeing a rec by [livejournal.com profile] iamza I've now read Entanglement by [livejournal.com profile] marthawells. It's a fast-paced action-adventure set in the second season shortly after Ronon joined the team, with an interesting plot involving Wraith, Ancient tech, and some history of the Ancients leaving Pegasus, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I think I would have like it even better if Teyla had had more to do (but then I think that of the show a lot as well), but plenty of Sheppard kind of made up for that to me. Anyway, it was fun to read.
ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)
I've been reading the series, but I think I missed something in Dead Beat... spoilery question )

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