User Profile

el dang

eldang@bookwyrm.social

Joined 2 years ago

Also @eldang@weirder.earth

I'm currently the coordinator of the #SFFBookClub so a lot of what I'm reading is suggestions from there.

Profile pic by @anthracite@dragon.style

This link opens in a pop-up window

User Activity

avatar for eldang el dang boosted
Invisible Cities (Paperback, 1997, Vintage Classics) 4 stars

Invisible Cities (Italian: Le città invisibili) is a novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino. It …

You walk for days among trees and among stones. Rarely does the eye light on a thing, and only when it has recognized that thing as the sign of another thing. A print in the sand indicates the tiger’s passage; a marsh announces a vein of water; the hibiscus flower, the end of winter. All the rest is silent and interchangeable; trees and stones are only what they are.

Finally the journey leads to the city of Tamara. You penetrate it along streets thick with signboards jutting from the walls. The eye does not see things but images of things that mean other things: pincers point out the tooth-drawer’s house; a tankard, the tavern; halberds, the barracks; scales, the grocer’s. Statues and shields depict lions, dolphins, towers, stars: a sign that something—who knows what?—has as its sign a lion or a dolphin or a tower or a star. Other signals warn of what is forbidden in a given place (to enter the alley with wagons, to urinate behind the kiosk, to fish with your pole from the bridge) and what is allowed (watering zebras, playing bowls, burning relatives’ corpses). From the doors of the temples the gods’ statues are seen, each portrayed with his attributes—the cornucopia, the hourglass, the medusa—so that the worshiper can recognize them and address his prayers correctly. If a building has no signboard or figure, its very form and the position it occupies in the city’s order suffice to indicate its function: the palace, the prison, the mint, the Pythagorean school, the brothel. The wares, too, which the vendors display on their stalls are valuable not in themselves but as signs of other things: the embroidered headband stands for elegance; the gilded palanquin, power; the volumes of Averroes, learning; the ankle bracelet, voluptuousness. Your gaze scans the streets as if they were written pages: the city says everything you must think, makes you repeat her discourse, and while you believe you are visiting Tamara you are only recording the names with which she defines herself and all her parts.

However the city may really be, beneath this thick coating of signs, whatever it may contain or conceal, you leave Tamara without having discovered it. Outside, the land stretches, empty, to the horizon; the sky opens, with speeding clouds. In the shape that chance and wind give the clouds, you are already intent on recognizing figures: a sailing ship, a hand, an elephant...

Invisible Cities by 

Ducks (2022, Drawn & Quarterly) 5 stars

Before there was Kate Beaton, New York Times bestselling cartoonist of Hark! A Vagrant, there …

A deeply human look at a thoroughly dehumanising place

5 stars

This is a powerful memoir which has a lot to say about how we (particularly Canada as a resource extraction colony, but also a broader "we") treat the people whose physical labour runs parts of the economy we'd rather not think about. The experience turned out predictably badly for Beaton, but in looking back she maintained empathy for the people involved, keeping a clear on focus on what the context of oil sands work camps does to people.

replied to Tak!'s status

Content warning spoiler request

This Is How You Lose the Time War (2020) 4 stars

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a 2019 science fiction epistolary novel …

Weird and beautiful but not always up to its own ambition

4 stars

The letters that make up about half of this book are gorgeously written, and I love the story they tell. The basic idea of the time war is clever, and the descriptions of placetimes the characters find themselves in evocative, sometimes reminiscent of Calvino's Invisible Cities. I devoured this book in a few days.

And yet... something about it felt a little thin or hollow behind its fireworks. I think it was a good artistic choice to leave all technical details out, but I couldn't help but get hung up on the time paradoxes. Not that it's the authors' responsibility to necessarily avoid or solve them, but for me personally they intruded on the suspension of disbelief.

avatar for eldang el dang boosted
Four Hundred Souls (2021, One World) 5 stars

A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the …

Powerful collection that complicates the arc of history

5 stars

This is a collection of 80 short essays each by a different writer, each anchored to a consecutive 5-year span, starting with the first documented landing of enslaved Africans in the North American colonies.

The range of voices is a huge strength, with each writer not only having a different style but getting to make dramatically different choices in where to focus attention. Individually, many of the essays filled in gaps in my knowledge, but the whole is much more than the sum of those parts. It helps the book really live up to its "community history" billing - while of course even 80 authors can't speak for a whole community of millions, they can get a lot closer to that than any one alone could.

As should be expected given the subject matter, many of the pieces are very heavy and grim. Certainly some of the things I learned …

avatar for eldang el dang boosted
She Who Became the Sun (2021, Tor Books) 4 stars

To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything

Mulan meets …

Epic in every sense

5 stars

I love this book for being an alternate history that's not fixated on Hitler. I love it for how carefully it weaves its fantasy into the real history it's anchored in - enough so that as soon as I finished reading it I had to read up on the actual Red Turban rebellion and see how many of the characters were close adaptations. I love it for how much desperate, furious, and yes sometimes joyous life its main characters have. I love it for how viscerally it evokes some incredibly hard times (though be warned, it's a heavy read because of that). I love it for how utterly unsympathetic all the "big people" are.

Around the middle of the book the weight of Fate on both the plot and multiple characters' obsessions started to feel stifling, but the more the narrator complicated that idea the more this stopped being a …

@compostablespork No worries! I have been finding that threading here takes a bit of time to get used to, because it's in that territory of being similar to but not quite like mastodon's, so sometimes I make wrong assumptions. But anyway, yes I did mean Origin. That first section sounds like rehashing arguments that I'm reasonably familiar with (and you clearly already were too), but it's the added detail I'm interested in because I haven't read anything book length on the subject.