Monday, October 23, 2006

Ladylike earrings

Ok, they're more little girl earrings, but I wear them. On days when I look at my outfit and realize that I'm overdoing the "prim academic librarian" thing, they provide a sort of comfort - make me feel that I haven't completely given in.

I'm also working on a pair in blue - my cousin's 10 year old daughter requested a pair. Cobalt blue, to be specific, and brown hair. I need to find a better shade to use for the face and hands - the ivory I've used in these is too pallid and the pink I tried just looks odd.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Wandering Unicorn by Manuel Mujica Láinez

Not about a unicorn - it's historical fantasy set during the crusades, narrated by the fairy Melusine. The unicorn of the title is Aiol, Melusine's descendant, who carries a unicorn lance. The fantasy elements seem almost beside the point, though I enjoyed Melusine's reminiscences on her life as an enchantress and patroness of architects, and her comments on esoteric subjects such as the relationship between fairies and angels.

But really it's a novel of medieval life, of Aoil (who Melusine falls hopelessly in love with), his father and sister, and the fall of Christian Jerusalem. The characters feel medieval - as they rarely do in fantasy - and the language, in my translation at least, has an archaic feel. All of which made it a slow, not easily digestible read.

Rose amulet

And finally, I've made an amulet just to please myself. The ones I've created before were for friends, which I've enjoyed. But it's fun to just sit down and make something pretty out of your favourite beads and colours:

Tubular peyote in seed beads. The lighter pink is a metallic called Platinum Rose and the green is a dark metallic matte olive, both from Mill Hill; the darker pink is a gold lustered raspberry shade, but I can't remember where I got it. I think the bronze beads may be czech.

This is another pattern I designed myself. If I made it again I think I'd add another column of bronze beads to each side to make it a little wider. I was a bit disappointed when I discovered that it was a couple of milimetres too narrow to fit a toonie in.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Garden of Iden by Kage Baker

Gripping SF.

It's set in a world where a company called Dr. Zeus has mastered time travel (backwards only, but you can return to your own time) and immortality (but only if you start with young children and replace most of their parts with machinery). They rescue from imminent death, recruit, immortalize and train young children from various eras to work as agents, rescuing lucrative bits of the past and storing them safely for the company to recover far in the future. Mendoza's one of the agents, a spanish child rescued from the Inquisition to become a botanist. Not surprisingly given the situation she was rescued from, she dislikes and fears mortals.

Her first assignment is to collect specimens from Walter Iden's garden of exotic plants. She travels there with Joseph, the agent who rescued her and is now posing as her father, and another agent. And falls in love, unfortunatley for both her and the object of her affections, a mortal Englishman with heretical but devout religious beliefs.

There's a whole series set in this world. I'd like to read more about the company - who runs it? How do they control their immortal, highly enhanced agents?

The scene at the end with monkeys throwing fruit at each other, was unneccessary - the point (people keep having the same pointless conflicts) was clear. Bludgeoning it in with rotton fruit was excessive.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Walking the Labyrinth by Lisa Goldstein

Eh. I was lukewarm on this one. Which is a pity, because Lisa Goldstein at her best is outstanding - Tourists is my favourite of hers, but I also enjoyed The Red Magician, The Dream Years, and many of her short stories. Her fantasy is often tinged with surrealism and is quite unlike most of the other material in the genre. But Dark Cities Underground was a letdown - I never managed to care much about the main characters, and the title left me hoping for dark city scenery that never materialised.

Molly Travers was raised by her great aunt, and believes she has no other family. Which is a pity, because she's actually related to a troupe of performing magicians. After a private investigator contacts her, she starts researching her peculiar family history. A few evil murdering types with connections to some of her ancestors try to interfere, but oddly don't manage to provide much suspense.

I liked Molly, and her private investigator sidekick John Stow. ("Liked" may be overstating how I felt about John, but he was interesting to read about.) But I'd have prefered to spend a little more time getting to know them - large parts of the book were told through old diaries and letters. Emily's story could have made a book of its own, I think, but instead was just long enough to distract me from the main plot. It all might have worked better if the plot hadn't been so busy; too much happening in not enough space.