Verity! Episode 139 – Exploring the Pyramid at the End of the World

New Verity!

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It’s another Verity! three-hander, but we soldier on to dig into this “meaty” episode. Join Deb, Erika, and Tansy as we talk about consent–as it relates to our feelings about the word as well as world politics. We speculate about a possible impending reset button (or not?). And there’s an awful lot of squee. Not all of it is related to the episode itself. Spreadsheets, man. Spreadsheets.

Did you enjoy this episode? Did you also feel our discomfort at the use of “consent”? Do you think there’s a reset in our future? Let us know in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

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Episode 138 – Verities’ Veritas on Extremis

New Verity! EXTREMIS

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After a mind-bendy episode of Doctor Who, we need to talk it through to really come to terms with us. Join Deb, Erika, and Tansy as we do just that. What was real? What did it mean? What did it portend for the future? What’s the deal with Nardole? And who’s really in the vault? We answer…maybe one of these questions. Maybe.

What did you think of “Extremis”? And all those other things? Let us know in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

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Book review: A Civil Campaign, by Lois McMaster Bujold

A Civil Campaign (Vorkosigan Saga, #12)A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t read the entire Vorkosigan Saga–I read an omnibus of the first 4 novels about a decade ago, and picked this one up because dozens of friends who read both SF/F and romance love this to bits.

I can see why. I gleefully devoured this “Watch Miles Squirm and get EVERYTHING wrong when he falls in love” book. Structured like a romance, set in the Vorkosigan universe, with all of the protocols, politics, and shenanigans involved. Cordelia and Ivan are both here, being their excellent selves, and the whole thing is delightful in a general sense. Excellent banter, and Ekaterin, who ends up as Miles’s wife (That’s not a spoiler, this is a ROMANCE) is a delight to get to know (I had not read the previous novel). I’m a sucker for romances where both members of the couple are adults, and they are trying to see if their baggage coordinates, because they both have pasts, and damage, and are nervous about trying to make new relationships work. This is one of those.

It’s absolutely clear why Miles is in love with her, and vice versa. They are well-matched. There’s an imperial wedding to make things more challenging, and another couple for contrast: Miles’s brother Mark and Kareen Koudelka, who are struggling with being in love with each other while still figuring out who they are.

There is, as in so many Bujold novels, a depiction of a Typically Taboo Thing in SF/F. (Every time I go to a panel where someone says “x just isn’t really done in SF/F,” someone pipes in “Bujold did it already.” And they’re usually right.)

In this case, it is a gender change for one of the side characters. It is, especially given that this was published in 1999, pretty well handled, but I’m not an expert by any means. The gender change is for political/social/economic reasons, and it is that character’s choice–they take agency to initiate the change. Characters reacting to the gender change have a variety of reactions, and the characters that you want to handle it well mostly do. However, folks who live with gender dysphoria or identify as transgender or genderqueer may have a different experience of this than I do.

That said, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read for me.

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Verity Episode 137 – Team of Oxygen

New Verity!

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A proper space episode! Join Erika, Liz, and Lynne as we discuss non-zombies, evil capitalism, disability, and racism. Doctor Who was pulling no punches this week! What did you think of this ep? Let us know in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

Bonus link:
The Incomparable covers Luna: New Moon

Download or listen now (runtime 1:05:50) 

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Episode 136 – Knock Knock, Who’s Here.

NEW VERITY! NEW EPISODE!

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A spooky house, an unreachable tower, a creepy landlord, and a bunch of young folks moving in together. Join Deb, Erika, and Liz as we discuss what these ingredients add up to. Was it a delightfully scary tale or something less than that? Let us know what you think in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

Bonus links:
P-Cap at the Science March
Reality Bomb live from New York
Foolproof
Agatha Christie’s Poirot
Liz “reviews” series 10 eps
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
The “Knock Knock” house on Airbnb

Download or listen…

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Book review: A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson

A Taste of Honey (The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, #2)A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent novella. Stands alone quite well–I had not read the first one yet, but this story was totally understandable as it is. A kind of sweet, thoughtful, meditation on paths-not-taken, particularly in relation to the choices that will make us happy vs. the choices we feel we must make based on socialization.

This is an unabashedly queer story, in the best possible way. Beautifully written, strong characterization, and really interesting worldbuilding. Recommended.

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(P)Review: Space Unicorn Tea Blends by Adagio

[note: I was compensated for this review with an Adagio teas gift certificate]

I’m a happy Adagio Teas customer–my taste trends towards “nice versions of loose black teas” for me (I particularly love their Assam Harmony) and “fruit flavored black teas” (Blackberry and Pumpkin Spice) for Michael.

Over a month ago, Ashley from Adagio Teas contacted me with the offer of a gift certificate code in exchange for a review on my blog. She pointed out their fandom collections (of which I was actually aware, having been gifted a set or two).

So, first and foremost, I refilled a couple of our staple teas we had run out of: Pumpkin Spice and English Breakfast. They included a sample of Rooibos Vanilla Chai, which I’m looking forward to trying.

I don’t think Ashley was aware that one of my tasks this month was to develop tea blends for our Uncanny Magazine Year Three Kickstarter Backers… but her timing was great.

So, I polled the Uncanny staff, and we came up with some possibilities, and I’m here to reveal and preview our Space Unicorn blends, and tell you what they taste like. For our “Space Unicorn Sips” backers, we will have two choices.

Space Unicorn “Light”: Tart and light, as a space unicorn should be. White snowbud, lemon soleil, summer rose, and a hint of rosehips. This is a bit more on the floral side, which is not usually my initial tea-based impulse, but I still really liked it. On opening, it smelled kind of like potpourri, to be honest. However, BREWED, it is a lovely, more muted floral tea that screams “garden party.” Less caffeine than in a hard-core black tea, lighter red color. This is a relaxing tea. Goes well with leftover baklava.

Space Unicorn “Dark”: Assam harmony, chocolate chai, and a hint of vanilla for a Space Unicorn Pick Me Up. This is a little sweet and spicy, highly caffeinated, to get you ready for Space Unicorn Adventures. ALSO good with leftover baklava.

(Yes, I know that the tins don’t quite match the teas. I might re-do the covers to reverse them before we order them for backers.)

These blends are just the beginning–we also have an Uncanny author fan pack in the works that will have 6 different teas blended by authors to go with their stories! (Again, exclusive for a time to the folks that backed that Kickstarter level). Unless, of course, we get to 150 backers with our Weightless Books subscription drive, and one lucky winner gets some tea as part of a swag pack…

So, there you go! Custom tea blends from Adagio. Definitely one of our better ideas.

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Book review: Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer

BorneBorne by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A scavenger, a squidlike biotech lifeform, and a flying bear walk into a bar…

Borne is exceptionally subtle on a prose level. I kept having to catch myself and re-read sentences because there was SO MUCH going on in deceptively simply constructed descriptions and dialogue.

The novel is from the POV of Rachel, a scavenger in a post-disaster/apocalypse/biotech Major Problem world caused at some point by The Company, and Borne, her name for an innocuous looking sentient cross between a squid and an eggplant with a penchant for wordplay that she originally scavenged off of a flying bear named Mord, who is fighting a turf war with The Magician for dominion over the destroyed city where Rachel scavenges.

Rachel initially sees Borne as a project, or a childlike creature to raise. This is a problematic assessment.
Borne examines what makes us human, and what does not. Who draws the line? Who makes the choices, the most important of which is: Nice, or Not Nice.

I won’t say whether I think Borne himself as a character is Nice, or Not Nice. I will say, though, that this is definitely a Nice novel.

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Episode 135 – Thin Ice, Ice, Baby

NEW VERITY! THE REGENCY ONE! AAAAAHHHH!

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Lynne’s dream has finally come true! But was it as good as she imagined? Join Deb, Lynne, and Tansy as they discuss their expectations, racism, classism, frocks, and poop.

Did you enjoy this dip into the past? Let us know in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

Download or listen now (runtime 1:03:49) 

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Episode 134 – We’re (Not) All Smiles

NEW DOCTOR WHO AAAAAHHHH

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Two weeks in a row with new Doctor Who to watch! We’re practically beside ourselves. Join Deb, Erika, Top Kat, and Lynne as we chew on “Smile”. Feelings are mixed about this one, and as always, that leads to a great discussion. Also as always, there’s aheaping helping of silliness–this time, in the form of mashed potatoes. (Just listen. It’ll make sense. Probably.)

What did you think of “Smile”? And how do you feel about mashed potatoes? Let us know in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

Bonus–here’s the emoji Kat was talking…

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