Wonder Woman: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

My son and I agree that the super hero movie is now become formulaic. You need your origin narrative. Your superhero debut. Your major conflict, ideally involving saving the world. It’s as rigid a formula as the Western.

It’s about due for a shakeup IMO. We don’t get it with Wonder Woman, because DC is not where you go to for innovation, But as any romance writer will tell you, there’s a reason why formulas exist. And this movie does show why, by demonstrating the excellence of the old tropes. Her Amazon heritage and upbringing on Themiscyra, the arrival of Steve Trevor and the move to Man’s World, all there. The battle with Ares is very nice, tying together her innocence (a new and welcome addition to the mythos) and the Amazon mission which dates back to William Moulton Marston’s original conception of the character. Continue reading

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No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin


No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le GuinBVC mirrors founding member Ursula K. Le Guin’s blog. We are happy to report that selected blog posts will appear in No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters.


Barbara’s Picks, Nov./Dec. 2017, by Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal. “Le Guin here collects the best essays from her blog, a new medium for her that fits her pointedly glistening writing.”


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Blending People

(Picture from here.)

Human beings are biased towards themselves.

We then to think of the world as reflections of ourselves. We project our nature on our pets, our automobiles, our weapons, the landscape and fictional entities. Sometimes I think we are incapable of separating ourselves from the world.

But we force three qualities together that are completely separable because they are bound together in us. These qualities are sentienceconsciousness and intelligence. Continue reading

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The Reluctant Traveler is Still Home

(Warning! Scary pictures not appropriate for entomophobics)

My husband and I think of ourselves as fairly knowledgeable organic gardeners. When considering a topic for this blog, I thought I would write about bugs. However when I browsed through our small library of gardening books, I found a gap. We don’t have even one good book about bugs.

Any recommendations?

I suspect everyone knows about ladybugs, praying mantis, lacewings and nematodes. And adorable little pollinators.

Mason Bee

Yellow Bumble Bee

But I want to write about another group, maybe not so popular with people in general.

Wasps. Spiders. Dragonflies.

Let’s talk about wasps. This is a huge family of insects, my Field Guide to Insects and Spiders in North America tells me. (At least we have this one book). I mean there’s a lot. They belong to the order Hymenoptera (nice name for a character in a fantasy novel, I think—the Wasp Queen). Their relations are ants and bees. The book describes hymentopteran anatomy in great detail, and I won’t do that here, but at one point the book says that, outside of termites who are not in the family, hymenopterans are the “only truly social insects”. Continue reading

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New Worlds: Status Without Wealth

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

We all know that status has its benefits. Rather a lot of them, in fact, and the lack of it is rarely a good thing.

But it also brings burdens. And when the benefits and the burdens get out of balance, being a person with status can suck in some creative new ways.

Last week I talked about the dynamics that arise when wealth is not (supposed to be) the metric of your rank. But I spoke of it mainly from the direction of people without status having lots of money, rather than from the other side — when rank is accompanied by insufficient cash.

Continue reading

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BVC member Marie Brennan joins LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS!

Book View Cafe is delighted to announce that Marie Brennan has joined the fiction-writing team for the relaunch of the game Legend of the Five Rings!

Set in the fictional, Japanese-inspired land of Rokugan, L5R has been a fixture of the card game and roleplaying game scene since 1995. Its most noteworthy feature has always been its interactive story: an ongoing narrative about the Great Clans of the Emerald Empire and the deeds of their heroes and villains. Player input via tournaments and other contests shapes the tale, deciding who will live and who will die, who will be allies and who will be foes. Marie’s first contribution to the new story is “The Rising Wave,” which introduces readers to the reclusive Dragon Clan and the challenges they face. Other fictions published so far are “Her Father’s Daughter” (introducing the elegant Crane Clan) and its sequel “The Price of War” (introducing the militaristic Lion Clan).

And that’s just the beginning! Keep an eye on Fantasy Flight Games’ website or forums to catch all the new developments as they come out.

the logo for the game LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS

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The Language Attic

by Brenda W. Clough

Our language is a treasure house. Some of its glories are well-used and well-polished, taken out and set on the table every day. But up in the attic we’ve got some thrilling long-lost terms. This is a series devoted to dragging some of the quainter antiquities out, and dusting them off for you to see.

And today’s fun word is fistiana. Oh, you have a dirty mind. I can see what you’re thinking. No, no — it had nothing whatever to do with X-rated matters. We have pure minds around here, at least at this moment. Maybe later in this series we’ll get some really colorful words. This word’s close relative is boxiana, and both words refer to boxing — pummeling people with your fists. Continue reading

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A Tricoastal Woman: Changing Bathrooms

I went to a college graduation in a sun-drenched football stadium on a recent hot Saturday afternoon. Having spent a lot of my life in hot climes, I was drinking lots of water as well as wearing light clothes, a hat, and sunscreen.

Graduation ceremonies are lengthy events, so I slipped out before things got underway to find a bathroom. Just under the stadium I spotted a tell-tall line of women and joined it. It turned out that we were the line for two gender neutral, accessible individual bathrooms. I’m sure there were other, larger facilities around, but the line wasn’t that long and, given the size of the crowd, there was no guarantee that the other places would be line-free.

While we were standing there, a man walked up, looked at the line, and started to walk in, saying, “Is the boy’s room open?” He obviously assumed that it was.

We all took great pleasure in informing him that there was no separate boy’s room and that he was obligated to join the line if he needed to pee.

I cannot tell you how satisfying that experience was. Continue reading

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BVC Members in the Clarion West Write-a-Thon

Clarion WestFour members of Book View Cafe — Kristine Smith, Nancy Jane Moore, Vonda N. McIntyre, and David Levine — are participating in the Clarion West Write-a-Thon for 2017.

The Write-a-Thon is a fundraiser for Clarion West, the six-week “boot camp” for writers held every summer in Seattle. It runs at the same time as the workshop, so the writers participating in the Write-a-Thon are writing at the same time as the students attending Clarion West. Both the workshop and the Write-a-Thon began June 18.

Writers who are participating promise to produce work. They seek sponsors to contribute to Clarion West in support of their participation. It’s a win-win for everyone involved: Clarion West gets the money it needs to operate (it’s a non-profit and gives scholarships where it can). Outside writers know someone is counting on them to produce work, so they sit down and write — always a useful thing. And the students know there are lots of other people out there who care about writing and Clarion West.

To support Kristine, go here.

To support Nancy, go here.

To support Vonda, go here. Note that Vonda will give one of her beaded sea creatures to the first 20 people who sponsor her at the $100 level.

To support David, go here.

Any writers who want to participate can sign up until June 25. Supporters can sponsor a writer at any time until the end of the workshop (and the Write-a-Thon) on July 28.

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