The dream engine holds a procession


I was working in the town I live in now but in a place with a wider view than our house — it was possible to see much of a large square and, by looking to the right from the window, the intersection with a shopping street. I’d already been in the square (market?) and seen a largish crowd of people watching a procession of druids: a tiny high priestess in layers of flowing white robes, two burly guards preceding her, two white-robed priests flanking her, and various people (dressed in white or not) following. They sang something I couldn’t understand completely but the refrain was:

Goddelijke macht, goddelijke macht.

“Divine power, divine power.” Wrote this out because I woke up with it as earworm.

Later, when at a desk in the front room — I think I was doing some news-related work, with an old friend from Usenet who I sometimes still interact with online — we heard the song again, and my friend understood it as “glanzende macht” (“shining power”) (note: the friend’s native language isn’t Dutch, but that seemed to be the language of the dream, rather than Generic Dream Language) until she saw a white van standing in front of the building with “Goddelijke macht” as a slogan on the side. Apparently the priestess and her attendants had travelled and/or transported their things (guards’ armor and weapons, priests’ decorated staves) in the van. We could see the procession crossing the square, going behind buildings, then again at the intersection disappearing into the shopping street.

Then we got a telegram (a TELEGRAM!) from a reporter who’d gone to the next town to cover an event (possibly an open-air concert) to tell us that it had been cancelled because of sudden heavy rain, and I sort of suspected the druids of causing that with their procession.

Reading notes, week 40


October 3: Neither Have I Wings by Alice Degan. Sequel to From All False Doctrine. So far it tries to be Lewis (That Hideous Strength) rather than Williams but I’m interested and I want to read on. And someone is reading Strong Poison so it’s very apt for me to read that next. — Eeek! Lots of things happen that I wasn’t expecting, turning the book into something entirely different. Like the other one, but with some reservations on my part.

For reference: Charlie and Evvie. I peeked because I couldn’t stand it. It doesn’t. *whew* Lots of other romances, though, all the people who aren’t either married already or sworn to celibacy seem to get their HEA.

September 27 – October 1: All of the Mangoverse by Shira Glassman. It’s so wholesome.

September 27: From All False Doctrine by Alice Degan. “A metaphysical mystery wrapped in a 1920s comedy of manners”, set in Canada. I think it was a recommendation in the Christian fans meetup at Worldcon. It’s a very strange book — I keep expecting it to be Gaudy Night but clearly the writer didn’t live in the 1920s, and (as Spouse said, reasonably) hasn’t read enough by people who did. Some of the language and imagery is so modern that I keep thinking it’s set somewhere around the 1980s. And then there’s the occasional real gem that keeps me reading: “I’m an Anglican clergyman– I can’t accept that anyone doesn’t need tea.” Also I like Elsa and Kit, even though they suffer from the romance affliction of Failure To Communicate. When they talk, which isn’t often enough by far, they’re saying sensible things, but not the things they should be saying.  — Update: now it tries to be Charles Williams. There’s also a scene that could be in a modern-day roleplaying adventure, people fighting in the stacks of a university library. And then, after everybody has done their best to debunk everything supernatural, something really supernatural shows up! (That is to say, it hasn’t become less strange, but it’s just become a whole lot more exciting and I WANT TO FINISH IT AND LOVE THIS BOOK FOREVER). (Leaving all my ramblings here for posterity, too. I may steal the ramblings for an actual blog post.) — Final notes: (a) wow. (b) I was right about the thing I thought at 50% (about the professor and Mrs Graves) but it ended a bit differently than I expected. Better, in fact.

Index of reading notes is here.


Reading notes, week 39


Put on hold because I’m really not in the mood for either and I don’t want them to stare me in the face all the time until I either finish them or decide to abandon them. They’re so alike that I’ll wait until I want both so I can do a proper paired reading:

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. It’s too intricate to be light reading, and a spoiler review says there’s a twist of a kind I generally don’t like (but can bear if done well enough, and I’m glad of the warning) (which is now about to happen, at least there’s been enough foreshadowing). Grimdark Magazine says it’s grimdark but I haven’t seen the distinguishing features yet that make it so (yes, it’s bleakish. If it becomes real grimdark I might yet give up.)

Sofia and the Utopia Machine by Judith Huang. Near-future sort-of-dystopian (current social inequalities in Singapore much magnified) fantasy with very believable characters. I like it and want to finish it but I find it difficult and I keep wanting to read other things in between. Under the Pendulum Sun pushes many of the same buttons but in a setting I’m much more comfortable with.

Next up: Might reread Earthsea if the paperbacks aren’t too yellowed/too small type for my eyes now. (And we don’t seem to have Tehanu at all; got that from the library when it was newish, remember I found it too preachy.) Also, I think I’m craving Mangoverse. (And putting books on Spouse’s new ereader from my calibre library made me notice a lot of books for my virtual to-read pile.)

September 26: Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane. On previous readings the resolution seemed tacked on, but this time I saw early signs of it. Several people got happy endings, but I still hope this isn’t the last in the series (though the author seems to be doing other things now).

September 21: Wizard on Call by kerithwyn. Rather good Young Wizards fanfic. Makes me want to reread Games Wizards Play (because the story is set during the book).

The Assassin’s Eye by Morgan Díaz, which I probably got in a giveaway because it’s not something I’m likely to have bought or even looked for deliberately. Starts interestingly enough. It’s too new to have amassed reviews so I can’t see if other people have hung out red flags. (ETA: interesting, yes. Could have done with a good copy editor.) The premise is interesting too: guy gets to be an NPC in a MMORPG for rehabilitation after a stint of house arrest. He’s not a gamer, so he’s reluctant and baffled, but gets the hang of it after a while. — It’s really a teaser, and perhaps I’ll even want to buy the real thing.

September 20: Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones. An old favourite but SO much fat shaming.

Index of reading notes is here.

That music meme from all over


Got it from oursin. Mine are all folk or folk-adjacent. I recommend every one of these (and I’ve linked to my favourite versions if I could find them).

A Place: Sandy Denny – Lowlands of Holland. Anything Sandy Denny sings gets coated in squee.
A Food: Kirsty McColl – Chip Shop
A Drink: The Dubliners – Whiskey in the Jar
An Animal: Young Tradition – Daddy Fox. You can so sing Tolkien’s Troll Sat Alone to it (I did this, at a virtual-Worldcon filk circle; here’s sheet music of my version)
A Number: Linda McRae – Four and Twenty Blackbirds (I’ve cut the full minute of banter the video starts with)
A Colour:  Fairport Convention – Bonny Black Hare
A Boy’s Name: Steeleye Span – My Johnny Was A Shoemaker
A Girl’s Name: Shira Kammen – Faithless Nancy Dawson (Er, a “maid”.) Longest version I’ve ever heard with Lots of Extra Verses. And only in the last verse does she turn out faithless.
A Profession: Planxty – The Blacksmith. Actually imprinted on the Steeleye Span version but I didn’t want to have the same artist in the list twice.
A Vehicle: Y Mellt – Siarabang. It’s the thing in the picture.

I don’t tag people but if you do it please tell me because I want to see yours!


Reading notes, week 38


September 19: The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie. I remembered it rather well but it was nice to read anyway, one of the better ones.

September 18: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie. A rara avis: a Poirot I’d never read before. Intriguing; I thought I knew the twist, but it was more intricate than that.

September 17: Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie. Read it a loooooong time ago, and honestly didn’t remember whodunnit. (Fortunately it wasn’t one of the nice people, or the helpless and/or clueless people.)

September 16: Demonology and the Tri-Phasic Model of Trauma: An Integrative Approach by Nnm. Novel-length Good Omens fanfic, very repetitive (which I think would work much better for a shorter story). It made me go for Good Omens itself before finishing it. I did finish it eventually, though I skimmed bits of the later chapters. I’m glad I did (finish, not skim) because the ending is perfect. Judging by the author’s end-of-work comments I’m probably not the target audience for it.

September 15: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It was about time for a reread: I’d forgotten exactly enough. It’s SO GOOD.

September 13: Monsieur Pamplemousse Investigates. #6, in which Monsieur Pamplemousse wrangles the company computer. — Like worrying at a broken tooth, I can’t stop reading these. Parts are really funny, parts are very cringeworthy.

Next up: 

Index of reading notes is here.

Reading notes, week 37


September 12: The Suck Fairy’s Greatest Hits: The Dragonriders of Pern. Extensive deconstruction of the Pern books. Goodness, that was a long haul. I read all the deconstructions of books I’ve read, one of a book I haven’t read but I needed it for the continuity, one of a book I DNF’ed to see if it was really that bad (verdict: yes, it was). I’m not sure I agree with all silveradept’s criticism (for instance, “bloody” and “volcano” are just part of the English language and don’t specifically refer to religion or mythology any more) but it does touch a lot of the reasons that I prefer to read fanfic when I want Pern. The last two (the continuity and the DNF) had more reference to current US politics than I liked, but then I’m not in the US and the writer is.

September 7: Monsieur Pamplemousse Aloft (#5, I don’t seem to have #4). Not as much awkward innuendo as the other ones, and not quite as much strangeness, but still a hefty dose of oh la la. If I was Madame Pamplemousse I’d probably have divorced him years ago.

Index of reading notes is here.

Reading notes, week 36


September 5: Monsieur Pamplemousse on the Spot. Not quite fed up with it yet; I want to read at least one more to see if they all have something sexually risqué at some point, and tiny (but stinging) sexist and racist bits.

remember me by dirgewithout music: Narnia fanfic. Lucy Pevensie. Oh my.

A Witch on Errantry by aroso_dolente. Harry Potter/Young Wizards crossover. Hermione and Luna are wizards; some other people surprisingly are and aren’t.

September 3: Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Secret Mission. Has strangeness like the first one (not as much as the first one, though, at least not until now). I must have read it decades ago but I remember only snatches. Nice non-demanding stuff.

September 1: A handful more fanfic. Especially this one (Stealing the Elf-King’s Roses) is exquisite.

Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer. Alternate Renaissance Italy with magic. I love the worldbuilding, especially the religion and the music, but I do wish she hadn’t used the “person comes home from X years of study and finds their home village recently devastated and everybody dead” trope. I trust Naomi Kritzer, dammit. (Which is why book didn’t meet wall at that point.) It’s her first novel, though, and she doesn’t seem to have made a habit of it. If the teaser at the end of this book is representative I may not like the sequel as much as this one because it’s all in the refugee camps with a lot of fighting (and a largish death count), the part of #1 that I liked least. Goodreads reviewers, too, agree that it’s got more action and whine that it hasn’t got enough romance. I can do without the romance, but I’m not yearning for action either!

August 30: Some Dalemark fanfic (put a bunch on my ereader). There’s more where that came from. I hope it’s not so much that I can’t nominate it for Yuletide.

Gifts of Spring by Shira Glassman. Reread, better than the first time. Calibre converts pdf to epub unasked! (Or perhaps I put that in the settings once and it’s remembered ever since.) It does need some tweaking but not as much as I’d feared.

Index of reading notes is here.

Reading notes, week 35


August 29: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. After seeing the (excellent!) miniseries we discussed how it’s different from the book so I wanted to read the book again. It’s even better than the film. Perhaps I’ll read Making Money next.

August 25: More fanfic. Young Wizards crossover, mostly. I so want there to be Young Wizards/Lord Peter Wimsey crossover but I’m afraid I’ll have to write it myself (or request it for Yuletide and perhaps someone else will write it). Here’s a really good Young Wizards/Calvin and Hobbes crossover, though.

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. We do in fact have the paper copy (the one that went AWOL is Monstrous Regiment) so I’ll get it out of the bookcase to read the footnotes. I think this is hands down the best Discworld novel (and so does Spouse).

Index of reading notes is here.

Reading notes, week 34


August 22: Oodles of Young Wizards fanfic. Some of it reads almost like canon, like Reading Redhead’sAlso Pern fanfic, by following links to kudos-leavers whose names I recognised.

Uptown Local and Other Interventions by Diane Duane. Because it was hard to stop. I don’t like most of the stories in this one as much as I like the Midnight Snack stories but there are a few really good ones.

August 21: Midnight Snack and Other Fairy Tales by Diane Duane. One of those “long enough ago” cases.

August 20: Lots and lots of Dalemark fanfic. (Note: this search finds things that are definitely not Dalemark fanfic at the end.) Some highlights: All The Time Between Us (unexpected but not implausible fact about Maewen), roads through time (good women characters linked by friendship and fate), I was and I endure (AU in which Maewen stays in King Amil’s time).

August 19: Meetings on the Stair by Diane Duane. A reflection on the ethics and uses of imagination. (Really good; not even dated much though it’s from the 1980s.)

August 18: Monsieur Pamplemousse by Michael Bond. I think I remember getting it from the library some 30 years ago. Nice undemanding mystery (though it gets really weird in the middle). Spouse acquired a whole stack of them but, as with Paddington, the newer ones aren’t as good.

The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones. Like the other Dalemark books I find lots of new things in the after-some-years reread. Now I need to find lots of Dalemark fanfic.

August 17: Paddington Helps Out by Michael Bond. I suspect it’s an updated version because Paddington gets a pound a week pocket money. (Also it’s got “50 years” on the cover.) Lots of tiny irritations (mostly small acts of sexism appropriate for the time it was written but that doesn’t make it right) that I didn’t notice when I first read it, well, decades ago. Also Paddington: Here and Now and Paddington Races Ahead, the two newest in the series, which suffer a bit from neverending series syndrome (for one thing they’re completely unmemorable).

August 16: The Case of the Cockeyed Cat and Christopher Crissom’s Cravat by David Wright O’Brien. Magazine stories from the 1940s, one sort of detective, the other sort of psychological creepy (it’s not dark enough to count as horror). He’s written a lot of science fiction and fantasy stories too, and I might try to find some of those.

Index of reading notes is here.


Reading notes, week 33


August 11: Freedom’s Gate by Naomi Kritzer. Set in fantasy ancient Greece (with a side of Ruritania). It’s the first in a trilogy and the other two aren’t as easy to get (the webshop where I bought #1 has #3 but not #2, just like a public library) but I’ll definitely try to acquire them because I’m hooked. (Especially as there’s no Inevitable Romantic Subplot; Goodreads reviewers mention that mostly in terms of “for a fantasy book without romance, this is really good”. And thank you, Goodreads reviewers, for warning me of the rape scene.)

August 9: A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland. Someone invited me to come to Alexandra Rowland’s kaffeeklatsch; I read a preview of the book beforehand, and I was so impressed by both that and Alexandra themself that I ordered the book immediately after. Heady, slow, dense, and I want to read the sequel as well but I don’t think it’s wise to do that right away.

Index of reading notes is here.