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Midnight Riot is the first book in Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series. This is urban fantasy, set in London (obviously), and as most of you know, I'm not an avid urban fantasy fan. So take that into account when reading this review.





The premise is that Probationary Constable Peter Grant has "graduated" and is looking forward to being a real detective . . . except it appears he'll be assigned to a desk job. But after a grisly murder, he finds himself talking to an eyewitness ghost. His only hope in avoiding that desk job is to work with Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic. And this murder seems to fit the bill. As the horrific murders continue, Peter finds out there's more to the London streets than meets the eye.

In terms of urban fantasy, this book had a few good hooks going for it, which is why I picked it up in the first place. First, there's no focus on vampires (although their existence is addressed) or werewolves. Instead, the focus seems to be this magical crime and who might be wielding magic to commit the murders. And then there's the slow introduction of the gods and goddesses of the rivers of London. This idea--that each river has a manifestation in human form--was intriguing. I was drawn in by both of those concepts.

I was also drawn into the book by the dry humor of Peter Grant. He's mostly prosaic, but there are sudden punches of humor that bring him suddenly to vivid life. I did wish there were more of these instances in the book, because aside from those, and the scenes where Peter is starting to explore his magical abilities, Peter himself was sort of lifeless. I believe that some of this is to emphasize that he's a cop, and the style of the writing reflects that. But I still (in sections) wanted to see more life from Peter.

In a similar vein, while the manifestations of the rivers was a cool concept . . . I was expecting something more to happen with that in this book. Perhaps it happens in later books, as the series progresses. I was more interested in this plot element than the mystery of the murders, and in the end, this book is focused mostly on that mystery and its resolution. I was hoping for more from the other plotline as well.

So, while I enjoyed the book, in the end I felt as if I wanted more from certain aspects of it. I'll be reading the second, because multiple friends of mine have raved about the series, so I'll see if some of the promise of the rivers of London concept comes to fruition in the later volumes.

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jimhines
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Will Shetterly wrote a blog post asking if I had addressed “RAINN’s refutation of ‘rape culture’” yet. I’m writing this less to respond to Shetterly and more because I think there’s some good conversation to be had around RAINN’s recommendations. But I should warn folks that by invoking his name and linking to his blog post, I’m basically guaranteeing that Mr. Shetterly will show up in the comments. To Will and anyone else, please remember that trolling, refusing to respect boundaries, and general dickishness will get you booted.

The Rape Abuse Incest  National Network (RAINN) released 16 pages of recommendations to the federal government. In his blog post, Will chooses to quote a TIME Magazine article by Caroline Kitchens about “Rape Culture Hysteria” that references a few select paragraphs from RAINN’s recommendations. Kitchens claims that by blaming rape culture, we “implicate all men in a social atrocity, trivialize the experiences of survivors, and deflect blame from the rapists truly responsible for sexual violence.” She talks about the “thought police of the feminist blogosphere,” and how the concept of rape culture poisons the minds of young women and creates a hostile world for young men.

I’m glad to know Mr. Shetterly is looking for good, objective reporting to validate his crusade against those he dubs “social justice warriors.”

Let’s look at the primary source and talk about what RAINN’s recommendations actually said, shall we?

The paper opens with a discussion of how rape is alarmingly underreported on college campuses. Rape culture is mentioned on page two:

“In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming ‘rape culture’ for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.”

I absolutely agree that it’s important to hold rapists accountable for their choice to rape. I’ve been saying and emphasizing and teaching that for decades. I think it’s absurd to claim an individual has no responsibility for their crime … but it’s equally absurd to claim that crime occurs in a cultural vacuum, or that these two ideas are mutually exclusive.

Most of the time, when I see rapists being excused with little more than a wrist-slapping for “cultural” reasons, it’s judges and police blaming victims, or the old “boys will be boys” attitude that minimizes the severity of the crime and the responsibility of the rapist. Which is exactly what so many conversations about rape culture try to point out.

RAINN says it’s important to remember that the rapist is responsible for the choice to commit rape. I agree. They do not say that the concept of rape culture is invalid, only that it shouldn’t overshadow the need to hold individuals responsible for their crimes.

RAINN recommends a three-tiered approach to reducing rape on college campuses:

  1. Bystander intervention education: empowering community members to act in response to acts of sexual violence.
  2. Risk-reduction messaging: empowering members of the community to take steps to increase their personal safety.
  3. General education to promote understanding of the law, particularly as it relates to the ability to consent.

Bystander intervention includes educating people about what rape is, helping them see beyond rape myths and victim-blaming narratives, sharing the research that explains how the majority of rapes are committed not by strangers, but by people the victim knows, and so on. (Strangely enough, a lot of the points I made in a blog post about rape culture a few years back.)

RAINN acknowledges the difficulty in separating risk-reduction from victim-blaming. Personally, I have very little problem with a risk-reduction approach. I do have a problem when that’s the only approach, which seems to happen all too often. When people focus solely on what women/victims can and must do to reduce rape, then we put the responsibility on them. If your only idea about reducing rape is to tell women what to do differently, you’re the one who doesn’t understand that rapists are responsible for their decision to rape.

I’ve been pushing for education for ages, including education about the laws. And for improvement in those laws, based in part on a better understanding and definition of consent. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a very poor understanding of consent. We encourage things like getting prospective sexual partners drunk, pursuing reluctant or uninterested partners, and the myth that you should just magically know what your partner wants. (It’s almost like we have an entire culture that doesn’t really get how consent works.)

On the legal side of things, RAINN stresses that college advisory boards aren’t in a position to be deciding rape cases. I agree. I worked as part of a student justice program at Michigan State University. Rape cases went to the police. We tended to work with things more on the level of catcalling from the street, trying to intervene with behaviors and attitudes before they escalated to more serious crimes. The goal was early intervention and prevention.

But there’s also a culture (oh look, there’s that word again) of secrecy around sexual assault and abuse, and I certainly understand that many institutions do try to bury rape reports and pretend it’s not a problem for them. Steubenville is a good, well-known example.

The report then goes on to talk about:

  • The need for more education for everyone about rape
  • The need for the legal system to respond more seriously to rape cases
  • The need to provide support services to victims
  • The need for more research

In RAINN’s 16-page report, we find a single mention of “rape culture,” which is part of a paragraph stating that rape culture shouldn’t be used as a way to remove responsibility from the rapist. Sorry, Will. I see no “refutation of rape culture” here, just a call for a balanced approach, one which I generally support and agree with.

I get that Mr. Shetterly is mostly just interested in scoring points against those he deems “social justice warriors.” My advice to him would be that if your knowledge and understanding of rape is such that you believe “saying no usually works” to prevent it, maybe you should try talking listening to rape survivors and learning more about the topic before you try to have this kind of conversation.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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scottedelman
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Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Last Sunday, ukulele master Stuart Fuchs—aka “Stukulele”—taught the second part of a uke-a-billy workshop at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Gaitherburg. I’d missed part one the month before thanks to sleet and freezing rain, which would have prevented me from returning home had I ventured out, but I’d glad to say that due to Stu’s ability to convey information, I quickly caught up.

StuTeaching

It was very important to me that I do so, because Stu followed up his workshop with an amazing concert, during which the entire class was called on stage to back him up for “Rock Around the Clock” and “Twenty Flight Rock.” And I didn’t want to let him down!Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

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klingonguy
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Originally published at Lawrence M. Schoen. You can comment here or there.

One week from today, look for at Ravencon.

There’s been some ups and downs with regard to my programming, but here’s where I think we’ve landed:

Friday, April 25th

5:00 p.m. | York You’re Getting Sleepy: Lies and Truths about Hypnosis
A short lecture about common misperceptions of hypnosis (as maintained by media and popular culture), what doesn’t work, and what does, and maybe even a brief demonstration.
Just me and a room full of victims interested participants.

Saturday, April 26th

5:00 p.m. | Bon Air Secrets of Small Press Publishing
Nearly every SF/fantasy author has been published by smaller press some point in their careers. It is also known for publishing new authors, midlist authors, short story collections, and other “odd” books typically rejected by the big New York publishers. Our panelists represent a spectrum of publications, and can “tell all”
Philippa Ballantine, Rich Groller, Dan Hoyt, Edmund R. Schubert, and me.

6:00 p.m. | Board Room Reading
I’ll read a story from Buffalito Buffet, tell you a bit about my novel coming out next year from Tor, and maybe talk a little about the new book I’m working on.
Just me (and Barry).

Sunday, April 27th

12:00 p.m. | Room E Comfort Reading
Panelists discuss their favorite stories and novels for reading (and reading again) when you’re feeling under the weather.
T. Eric Bakutis, Elizabeth Bear, Parick Vanner, Rachael Hixon, and me.

1:00 p.m. | Room E Xeno-Linguistics
a discussion of how alien languages are used in SF, some simple tips for would-be writers to make their aliens sound… alien, general complaints about the use of “universal translators,” and more
Sarah A. Hoyt, Stephen H. King, Monica Marier, and me.

As you can tell from the list above, Programming did not give me a Signing slot. It’s apparently policy not to double-up authors (which seems sad and lonely to me) and the times they offered me didn’t fit my schedule. But, if you have something that cries out for my autograph, I’ll be happy to scribble in it in between panels.

Not only will this be my third con of the year, but also my third “southern” convention. Am I detecting a trend?

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klingonguy
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Originally published at Lawrence M. Schoen. You can comment here or there.

One week from today, look for at Ravencon.

There’s been some ups and downs with regard to my programming, but here’s where I think we’ve landed:

Friday, April 25th

5:00 p.m. | York You’re Getting Sleepy: Lies and Truths about Hypnosis
A short lecture about common misperceptions of hypnosis (as maintained by media and popular culture), what doesn’t work, and what does, and maybe even a brief demonstration.
Just me and a room full of victims interested participants.

Saturday, April 26th

5:00 p.m. | Bon Air Secrets of Small Press Publishing
Nearly every SF/fantasy author has been published by smaller press some point in their careers. It is also known for publishing new authors, midlist authors, short story collections, and other “odd” books typically rejected by the big New York publishers. Our panelists represent a spectrum of publications, and can “tell all”
Philippa Ballantine, Rich Groller, Dan Hoyt, Edmund R. Schubert, and me.

6:00 p.m. | Board Room Reading
I’ll read a story from Buffalito Buffet, tell you a bit about my novel coming out next year from Tor, and maybe talk a little about the new book I’m working on.
Just me (and Barry).

Sunday, April 27th

12:00 p.m. | Room E Comfort Reading
Panelists discuss their favorite stories and novels for reading (and reading again) when you’re feeling under the weather.
T. Eric Bakutis, Elizabeth Bear, Parick Vanner, Rachael Hixon, and me.

1:00 p.m. | Room EXeno-Linguistics
a discussion of how alien languages are used in SF, some simple tips for would-be writers to make their aliens sound… alien, general complaints about the use of “universal translators,” and more
Sarah A. Hoyt, Stephen H. King, Monica Marier, and me.

As you can tell from the list above, Programming did not give me a Signing slot. It’s apparently policy not to double-up authors (which seems sad and lonely to me) and the times they offered me didn’t fit my schedule. But, if you have something that cries out for my autograph, I’ll be happy to scribble in it in between panels.

Not only will this be my third con of the year, but also my third “southern” convention. Am I detecting a trend?

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controuble
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suricattus
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Poll #1965029 solve my stress!
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 34

Should I plan the logistics of this research trip to a fare-thee-well, or just book the plane tickets, rent a car, and see what happens between Point A and Point B?

View Answers
Plan it!
11 (31.4%)
Wing It!
19 (54.3%)
I'll tell you in the comments.
5 (14.3%)



EtA: why do I have the feeling that y'all are voting "wing it" just for the eventual on-the-road tweetathon amusement?

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klingonguy
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Originally published at Lawrence M. Schoen. You can comment here or there.

One week from today, look for at Ravencon.

There’s been some ups and downs with regard to my programming, but here’s where I think we’ve landed:

Friday, April 25th

5:00 p.m. | York You’re Getting Sleepy: Lies and Truths about Hypnosis
A short lecture about common misperceptions of hypnosis (as maintained by media and popular culture), what doesn’t work, and what does, and maybe even a brief demonstration.
Just me and a room full of victims interested participants.

Saturday, April 26th

5:00 p.m. | Bon Air Secrets of Small Press Publishing
Nearly every SF/fantasy author has been published by smaller press some point in their careers. It is also known for publishing new authors, midlist authors, short story collections, and other “odd” books typically rejected by the big New York publishers. Our panelists represent a spectrum of publications, and can “tell all”
Philippa Ballantine, Rich Groller, Dan Hoyt, Edmund R. Schubert, and me.

6:00 p.m. | Board Room Reading
I’ll read a story from Buffalito Buffet, tell you a bit about my novel coming out next year from Tor, and maybe talk a little about the new book I’m working on.
Just me (and Barry).

Sunday, April 27th

12:00 p.m. | Room E Comfort Reading
Panelists discuss their favorite stories and novels for reading (and reading again) when you’re feeling under the weather.
T. Eric Bakutis, Elizabeth Bear, Parick Vanner, Rachael Hixon, and me.

1:00 p.m. | Room EXeno-Linguistics
a discussion of how alien languages are used in SF, some simple tips for would-be writers to make their aliens sound… alien, general complaints about the use of “universal translators,” and more
Sarah A. Hoyt, Stephen H. King, Monica Marier, and me.

As you can tell from the list above, Programming did not give me a Signing slot. It’s apparently policy not to double-up authors (which seems sad and lonely to me) and the times they offered me didn’t fit my schedule. But, if you have something that cries out for my autograph, I’ll be happy to scribble in it in between panels.

Not only will this be my third con of the year, but also my third “southern” convention. Am I detecting a trend?

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splinister
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Yesterday I was being all enthusiastic for Julian Totino Tedesco’s cover artwork for Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland issue 1 on my blog, and late that evening Comic Book Resources announced the July solicit information and covers for Dark Horse Comics.

Including Julian’s cover for issue two of Witchfinder. It’s one of my favourites!

Oh yes, dark, gruesome events loom for issue 2…

~ Originally published at Splinister. You can comment here or there. ~

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jhetley
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Five deer in yards and street down the road.  No wabbits.  Fox squirrels look as big as woodchucks..
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