marina_bonomi: (argh)
That throw one straight out of a book with no chance of recovery...

Yesterday I downloaded a sample of a book set in a science fiction world I like and dove in. 
I was liking it, there was this android policeman waking up in an hotel (much to his dismay, since he never sleeps), suddenly realizing he was sharing the bed with a female in state of undress, then she wakes up, asks a question, and the whole mood falls apart  since the author writes:

[i]Her tone was a pleasant baritone, made slightly deeper because she had just awoken[/i]

Well, given that baritone is a [i]male [/i]timbre, and the one deeper than that is bass, I can't help but see this 1.70 m., 57 kilos lady in the leading role in [i]Boris Godunov[/i], and the picture I get of the scene makes me burst out laughing every time.

Since there is no hint watsoever that this character is anything else than a biological female, my guess is that the author meant to write 'alto' and 'baritone' slipped in instead. As incidents go I think this qualifies as epic.
marina_bonomi: (argh)
...But definitely it wasn't The Hobbit.

I think T. nailed the feeling we were left with: 'It feels like a feature in a theme park'.
Part of it might have been the dubbing (foreign films are dubbed by default over here), for instance Saruman sounded like he had a somewhat loose denture, but most of the people in Rivendell felt contrived, I didn't see Elrond this time, I saw Hugo Weaving with pointed ears.

Also, the reason of my dislike aren't the details they got wrong (like Mirkwood getting the name just about then), those are minor details that would have done for a few hours of book browsing at home and 'Ah, but it wasn't like that', no it goes both deeper and about way simpler things, here are a few.
Comment with spoilers ahead )
  

 

Read Today

Oct. 1st, 2012 09:13 pm
marina_bonomi: (facepalm)
Because of sexual discrimination, women in ancient China seldom received education. Women were not expected to write so their work were usually lost to the time.

Really? Everywhere in China? Always in ancient China, never mind that (restricting it to imperial history) 'ancient' (or 'traditional') China goes from 221 BCE to 1644 CE (if you don't count the Manchus, 1911 CE if you do)?

And how come, then, that one of the most famous ancient Chinese historians is a woman, one who was  also a poet and  court librarian, taught the Empress and the ladies of the court and whose daughter-in-law was  a writer too?

How come that Stanford University Press has published Women Writers of Traditional China a 928-page anthology including works by about 130 female poets (and poets only) from the Han dinasty  to the end of the empire?

This kinds of extreme generalizations drive me crazy, they tend to pass from a divulgative book (or article) to the next without anyone bothering to check, much like the 'dirty and brutish' view of the European Middle Ages or the fable of the widespread hate of cats in said Middle Ages for being witches' familiars  (never mind that the animals most often quoted as diabolical were black dogs and that the height of the witch hunts was in early modern times).

It isn't the case of the OP, but often, when I see this kind of statement about women being oppressed in ancient China I can almost hear a congratulatory self-pat on the back, an unspoken 'here it was different'. Pray, tell: how many women writers can you mention for the Roman Empire? How many Greek female poets but for Sappho?
marina_bonomi: (facepalm)
Before leaving I loaded my kindle with books, not a few Roman-themed, among these was The Forgotten Legion, set in  late Republican Rome. Characters end up fighting the Parthians with Crassus and being marooned in Central Asia after his defeat, very likely ending up in Liqian, China according to the author's note. I was very curious to see how someone else had treated the subject.

I didn't make it halfway through the book.

I could more or less tolerate two Gauls discussing a wolf-hunt and speaking of the 'alpha male' (time-travelling ethologists, maybe?), I could stomach late-empire typologies of gladiators thrown in to 'enliven' the arena scenes (it won't be either the first or the last time), the description of life in slavery felt more like Roots that the first century BC, but that is nothing new either (although, come on, slaves rarely allowed out of the house on their own for fear they'll escape? People kept in shackles all the time in a city house? ), one of the main characters being referred to as a 'rookie' in the gladiator school, though, was almost too much, and when I reached the scene where street urchins pelt Crassus' bodyguards with overripe tomatoes of all things, I couldn't take it anymore.

This is one of those times I miss reading paper books, throwing The Forgotten Legion against a wall and, this winter, using it as kindling would have been really satisfactory.

I need to cleanse my brain, De Bello Gallico sounds just about right. 
marina_bonomi: (facepalm)
I'll never understand why some US publishing houses feel the need to 'translate' British books into American English: just yesterday I bought Whispers Under Ground, the third book in Ben Aaronovitch 'Peter Grant' series, I found that 2 different editions were available in my country, the British one and thre American one, I sampled both to try to understand the differences in page lenght and other parameters, and found out that the US edition not only uses the US spelling, but also has gotten rid of all the Britishisms, so that, for instance, a donkey jacket has become a workman jacket.

Now, one of the things I love about English is its extreme versatility and the variety of its national and regional incarnations, British English isn't US English, isn't Canadian English, Indian or Ghanaian English, but each variation is understandable to speakers of the others (more or less easily, that's true).Chosing among the possibilities a good writer can individualize or regionalize his/her characters' speech (think of Tolkien, how English stands in for the common tongue in Lord of the Rings but how we don't need to be told if the speaker is an Hobbit, a Gondorian, a Rohir, an Elf or a Dwarf, their word choices, speech rythm and sentence patterns tell us).

Now, I wonder why a publishing house would think it is a good idea to make a PoC London Constable speak like an American, it may be a bit challenging to get the references, but, good grief, this was even the Kindle version, and Kindle has pre-loaded dictionaries and the ability to recognize the language one is reading in without having to preset the dictionary. How lazy do they think readers are? Or is it that they (or the readers) want to deal only with the familiar, with no element reminding them that this place is the real London, that we are in a different country and the setting isn't just a coat of varnish on some 'generic' US big city?

I don't get it.
marina_bonomi: (argh)
Hubby's contact in Fantasy Flight Games asked their legal department about Zazzle's 'infringment of copyright' claims, the results are in:

It appears that HBO owns ALL rights to 'A Game of Ice and Fire' merchandising, no matter what. Fantasy Flight's products are protected but, even though they have a pre-existing license, own the art and granted artists the right to sell prints of the commissioned art in their contracts...

...if the artists actually do so they are in breach of HBO rights.

Unless they remove any reference to the IP in the titles and blurbs, for instance turning 'so and so' named character into 'knight'. 


Honestly for a split second I thought it was a joke, it feels like we have landed in Kafka-land

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