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I ran across this book during my “book release re-boot” promoting titles released in November 2016 and was rather startled to realize I hadn’t taken note of it when it originally came out. But that was what the re-boot was about, after all. A Certain Persuasion (very clever title, by the way) is an anthology of queer stories inspired in some way by the fiction of Jane Austen. It includes new looks at Austen’s protagonists, imagined back-stories for minor characters, and stories about modern characters that interact with the Austen canon in some way.

Every once in a while, I see a movie because I don't feel like sitting in traffic. I was feeling rather dragged out yesterday after work, and even after my gym workout the traffic app showed red most of the way home, so I pulled up a movie app to see what was showing in the Berkeley/Emeryville area. Not feeling the love for the latest SFF releases, but one of the local art-house type theaters had an intriguing listing for A Quiet Passion, about 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson and starring Cynthia Nixon (as Emily) and Jennifer Ehle (as her sister Lavinia).

This is it, the inventory of the book haul! The final count is either 20 or 22. (I also bought two of Candace Robb's backlist as e-books while chatting with her, but I'm not sure if that counts.) As usual, the books fall in certain themes, based not only on longstanding interests, but on current research topics.

For the Lesbian Historic Motif Project

“Passing Strange” by Ellen Klages is a lightly fantastic tale of life in San Francisco’s lesbian culture in the 1940s. A wistful romance, in part. A mystery as well. Framed by modern bookends steeped in the culture of geeky collectables. It’s a quick and engrossing read and is an excellent example of how the same world-building techniques essential to SFF are put to good use in period settings.

I actually meant to get this review up a week ago, and then a project at work fell on me like a ton of bricks. And then I figured I'd have all week to write it up to make this week's customary Friday review slot, and then...well, let's just say that I could have gone yet another seven years without a burglary and not missed the lack. But here it is, still Friday, and I'll get the review in. I have a mental block against starting a new book until the last one is reviewed.

Someone (and apologies for not having taken note of who) about a year ago posted a list of early utopian fiction by female authors and I went of and hunted down several of the titles listed. one of those was Mizora: A Mss. Found Among the Private Papers of the Princess Vera Zarovitch (1890), which purports itself to be a memoir "written by herself" but is copyrighted by Mary E. Bradley. (And despite the fiction that it was written by a Russian, the social and political concerns and assumptions are unmistakably American.)

Serpentine is a young adult fantasy novel with a historically-inspired Chinese setting that revolves around two major themes. The first is the domestic story of the protagonist Skybright, a foundling who is handmaiden and companion to the well-born Zhen Ni, as both of them stand at the edge of womanhood. The external peril is an invasion of supernatural creatures who have found an opening into the mortal world and are being fought off by a martial order of monks.

This is a hard movie to review without diving much too deeply into social and political issues that for the most part aren't mine to comment on. Even in the barest summary, alarm bells start ringing: medieval European travelers to China arrive at a critical point in a cyclic invasion of ravening monster hordes to help win a decisive victory.

There have been several times in conversations on facebook groups where people threw out the question "what do you look for in a LesFic book?" My answer has often been "beautiful writing," but it can be hard to explain what I mean by that. So now I have something I can point to and say, "That's what I mean by beautiful writing in LesFic."

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