Monthly Archives: December 2022

16 / 16 / 16 / 71: A room-sized pile of feelings about asexuality, and a few other things

Two ramblings about media today, since I’m still on holiday staycation. No unmarked spoilers.

First: Finished the main quest of No Man’s Sky, at about 90 hours. I did make it to the center of the galaxy the slow way. I’m moderately salty about how I played out the rest of the quest — I had accidentally spoiled myself to be ready for A Thing, got through that, and then A Thing happened again and I wasn’t ready for it the second time. But meh, I got through it again and regrouped and embarked on the Full Freeform Messing Around / Time to Make My Own Fun Until I Get Bored and Wander Off phase of the open-world game.

Second: Finished reading the 71st and final book of the year, At the Feet of the Sun by Victoria Goddard, the sequel to The Hands of the Emperor. And before I launch into my enormous pile of Thoughts and Feelings about that book, I also wanted to remind myself that I read a 72nd that hasn’t been logged yet — I had the honor of beta-reading a book that is as yet untitled. When it is published, I’ll reread the final version and log it then, so it will show up in that year’s count. But still, I don’t want to overlook it in the year-end review.

So: At the Feet of the Sun. I’m going to keep this as spoiler-light as I possibly can while diving into The Pile of Thoughts and Feelings. Remember how I went into the first book knowing only that it was about bureaucracy, and was delighted to find that it was also about character and culture? The second book is pretty much all character and culture.

And IMO, it’s a romance. — Hold on. This requires some elaboration.

As few spoilers as I can, mind you: Representation meets Craft

One more for good measure

Unexpectedly, I finished one more book before the new year: The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard. I didn’t think I’d finish this one so soon, but a few things lined up:

  1. Time off for the holidays
  2. I got sucked into the story far more than I expected
  3. I hit a point in No Man’s Sky that’s 90% loading screens and maps, so I fell into a pattern of reading while the loading screens loaded*

I had no idea what to expect, going into this one. It’s one of r/cozyfantasy’s regular recommendations — probably on the top ten — and all I knew was “story about a bureaucrat who wants to make the world a better place.”

Yep. It’s that. It’s also about colonialism/imperialism, cultural assimilation, and good governance, has excellent characterization, and worldbuilds without tiresomely explaining Magic Systems(tm) at the audience.

It’s also not cozy, in my opinion. I admit, I have developed a fairly restrictive impression of “cozy” from the community: “takes place in a cottage in the forest, there’s a lot of tea, there are no world-destroying stakes, and NO BAD OR CHALLENGING EMOTIONS EVER, OR HEADS WILL ROLL.” I don’t mean this to be denigrating. Cozy mystery has a long and successful history. It’s just that, but with magic. Magic, She Wrote.

There are a lot of emotions in this story, despite/because of the fact that it’s about an outwardly starchy bureaucrat. Few of the emotions are fluffy or easy. And though the day-to-day focus of the story is on one character and most of the story takes place in two general locations, it very much has ramifications about the larger story-world. That’s… a big part of the point. Making the world a better place.

So I’m kind of surprised that this community latched onto this book, but I am very glad they did, because I rabidly enjoyed it. I finished the first book on Christmas Day and started the second shortly after. (I did not figure out the twist at the beginning of the second book until… maybe 75% of the way through the first? This is why I don’t read mysteries)

There is a long stretch that basically boils down to Kip Tells Off Some Naysayer, Everybody Clapped, which…. eh, but it’s capped off with a set piece that I absolutely loved at the end, so it didn’t break the book for me.

Anyway, consider this a recommendation.

NMS elaboration (Spoilers)

“I’m gonna make it through this year if it kills me”

One week till a medical appointment that will take me out of this health-related limbo; two weeks till the end of the year. Oh yeah, and a holiday in there, which I keep trying to care about as much as other people do. I feel bad about that, I really do. Theoretically, I like a winter celebration. I love fireplaces/bonfires, baking, coziness, etc.; I think I just hate the stress related to gift-giving and gift-getting. Oh well. I do my best to keep my incorrect feelings to myself.

Anyway, the trend towards infographic-ing everything you do throughout the year is… sure something. It makes sense, in that apps want people to post about them on our increasingly bizarre social media landscape.

It’s been a weird one.