yati: Matilda sitting on a pile of books, reading. (Quentin Blake illustration.) (reader of books)
[personal profile] yati
Ten Yuletide recs, with tl;dr fangirly useful canon information for each because you need to read these books:


The Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynne Jones


Books set in the fictional world of Dalemark: Cart and Cwidder, Drowned Ammet and The Spellcoats may be read out of order, but The Crown of Dalemark has to be read last, mostly because of its references to characters in the other books.

Out of the four books, I liked The Spellcoats best -- it's set in prehistoric Dalemark, about a journey taken by five siblings when heathens invade their homeland. The other stories are set in pre-industrial times somewhat, though parts of The Crown of Dalemark is set in a time almost contemporary to ours.

I'm sort of itching to link to all of the fics in the fandom (even the non-Yuletide ones), they're all good, but these are my favourites.

Fics:
City of Gold. Ten years after The Spellcoats, Hern builds a city. Wonderful details, a satisfyingly stubborn Hern, Duck being Duck, and appearances by various other siblings.

Threading the Needle; Faith. Post The Crown of Dalemark. I'm partial to Mitt/Maewen, mostly because of that comment from Mitt, telling Maewen to "allow for inflation". I like it when she takes up the offer; living her life in those four years (or more). This is one such fic, where Maewen grows up, makes friends, laughs helplessly at historically inaccurate movies, and maybe, just maybe, gets that perfect ending.

The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch


Specifically the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora. Probably one of the best fantasy novel I've read recently. The story follows a group of con artists in a city reminiscent of Venice, focusing much on the protagonist, Locke Lamora. I loved the world-building and the characters, and the funny bits of the books left me rolling with laughter.

Fics:
a table set for six (and five were there). This is a funny, delightful take of life with the Gentleman Bastards as Bug settles in with the rest of the crew. What a crazy family.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


This book. This novel gave me nightmares. Somewhere in the near future, the US government is toppled, and taking its place is a totalitarian theocracy called the Republic of Gilead. Women are confined to female roles and specific functions, with no property, no education, no future. I can't even say I enjoyed reading the book -- I found it disturbing.

Of course, I had to go read fanfic about the book. >.>

Fics:
Sisters of Bilhah. From its summary: "Sisters of Bilhah is the largest registered charitable organisation in the UK working with asylum seekers and refugees who were citizens of the former United States of America." A look at things from the outside through a social worker's eyes, and while things are better than they are in Gilead, it's not by much. Very well written and detailed, and it complements the novel.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith


I first read the book last year, and was pretty much enchanted by it. The book is the diary of one Cassandra Mortmain, who tries to "capture" in her writings the castle she lives in, her family, and the rich American young men who inherit the nearby lands and end up as their new landlords. She's a really delightful narrator. I read the book and fell in love with her first line.

Fics:
The Account Book. Cassandra keeps an account book during the war, detailing her "debits and credits" (and mixes them up) as well as notes about things happening around her. She's grown up: a bit more thoughtful, perhaps, but still witty and charming. The fic really has the same voice as the book; it's a perfect continuation, even if it is eight years later.

Malay literature


*squints at fandom name* I still wish it were more specific. Oh well. I lack a description of this because, dude. Malay lit. It's too big a category. But it has only one fic in it. I went in to read its single fic due to sheer curiosity.

Fics:
To the Death / The Rambutan Tree. The Hang Tuah story, retold. With minor variations! I think. I've never actually read Hikayat Hang Tuah; classic Malay prose hurts my brain, to be honest. Everyone should just go and read the fic, for a taste of something different, if nothing else. It's well written, and I like how the story is framed, and the characterisation of Hang Li Po made me grin, and tragic love story omg. *cough*

Matilda by Roald Dahl


This is one of my favourite children's book ever. Definitely my favourite Roald Dahl book. Matilda is a precocious little girl and she loves to read, but her parents are too ignorant and self-absorbed to notice her intelligence. She goes to school, has the sweetest teacher ever, and gets even with both her parents and the terrible headmistress.

Fics:
Three Christmases with Miss Honey. What the title says. It's a lovely family story, more than anything. I'll have to remember to look out for the crossover!

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis


The archive has this fandom as the "Oxford Time Travel universe", and I guess that's what we're calling it. I have no better ideas (and I'm the wrangler for this fandom >.>) and I suppose it's a good description as any! This universe has stories that are partially set in a not-so-distant Oxford, where it's possible for historians to travel through time. This includes, at least for now, two novels: To Say Nothing of the Dog (partly set in Victorian England and absolutely hilarious) and Doomsday Book (partly set in 14th century England and absolutely heartbreaking) and the short story Fire Watch (partly set in London during the Blitz, and mostly thought-provoking).

The stories can be read in any order. Basically: historians travel through time and things happen! To the historians. History remains unchanged. Mostly.

Fics:
Mistaken for Strangers. Verity travels back in time because of an old photograph.This fic is hilarious, and very much in vein of the book. I love that it's in Verity's POV, and how she and Ned are comfortable with each other, and I really liked Badri in this one.

Sunshine (2007, directed by Donny Boyle)


The only thing in this rec list that the original media isn't a book, ha. The film, admittedly, is guilty of Questionable Science, but the cinematography and the score is lovely, and the story of human psychology outweighs the whole science fiction thing. The sun is, uh, dying, and a group of scientists are sent to detonate a nuclear bomb in it to reignite it. Yeah.

I still don't like the turn the last quarter of the movie took, but I'll live with it.

(Not really related but this from xkcd still makes me lulz like whoa. That's Sunshine's premise, standard suspension of disbelief included. I don't know whether "assemble our hottest astronauts" or "never fall back" kills me worse.)

Fics:
infinitely. Mostly Capa/Mace, and not even quite a pairing most of the time, and how variations of the future are infinite. I loved the use of repetition and the parenthesis and the impossible ending, all spinning off from that one phrase.

Laws of the Universe. Capa/Mace, a look at things before the start of the film, and even then things are spinning out of control. It has the same moody, somewhat surreal tone of the movie.

Also, you don't send a mission to the sun and name the ship Icarus, geez. Talk about doomed. Though it makes a nice mythology thread for both the fics to expound upon!





I have a few more fics and fandoms, but I'll leave that for some other time. Oh. And AO3's bookmark feature is awesome; bookmark or rec at one go -- you don't even need posts like these, but of course we like long, rambly, off-tangent posts. This has been a "books you should read!" post almost as much as a fic rec post, but hey, sharing things you love is a good thing, right?

Date: 1 January 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
starlady: (abhorsen)
From: [personal profile] starlady
The Spellcoats was my favorite too, and I will definitely check out the fics you recced. I've never quite been able to get into Wynne Jones' prose style, but one thing I really like about The Crown of Dalemark, in retrospect, is its daring to set the last part in the modern present.

Date: 2 January 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
starlady: Hei in the trees + text saying "in the TREES" (this is an in-joke)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Besides Dalemark, the only other one I've read is Howl's Moving Castle. Which, and feel free to excoriate me, having read after seeing the movie I thought was not very good either in comparison or on its own terms.

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