the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘fashion

Of Tobacco Worms

Spending some time at a friends house the other day, she gave me the tour of the landscaping and gardens she and her husband have been working on for the last few years.  the vegetable garden (beautiful!), the hops plants (tall!) and the moonflower plot (infected!).  Apparently, their moonflowers have been infected with tobacco worms. Moonflowers are related to Nicotiana and Tomatoes, all of which are susceptible to Tomato worms and tobacco worms.  I learned more than I ever wanted to about tobacco worms and the beautiful moths they grow up to be.

Moonflowers. greenhouses. worms. giant beautiful moths.

All I could think of was China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station.  I’ll never be able to think of tomato worms the same way again.

damn you New Weird for infecting nearly day of my life!

. . . and  scifi fashion

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We picked up Jeff Vandermeer’s  The Steampunk Bible the other day, and while I haven’t had a ton of time to look through it, I’ve drooled over the photos and read a handful of the guest essays.


as you can see, It’s book pornalicious.



Cat Valente? After reading your essay, I love you even MORE! “parents, talk to your children about steampunk . . “
(more photos after the jump) Read the rest of this entry »

 Yarn, by Jon Armstrong

Published in 2010

Where I got it: borrowed from a friend

why I read it: I loved Armstrong’s Grey.

How to categorize this? scifi?  dystopian? fashionpunk? craftpunk? socio-political satire?  I think I’ll go with mindblowing.   If you are looking for something unique and original and strangely wonderful, I highly recommend Jon Armstrong. His vision of a future America is as frightening as it is exotic.

Not a sequel to Grey, but taking place in the same world, in Yarn  Armstrong brings us back to a futuristic west coast America where cities are vertical, GMO crop corporations are  integrated down to the clothing their workers wear and the food they eat, and in the cities, fashion is life. Information and secrets can be embedded in a single thread, and competing fashion houses are known to bring guns to a knife fight. The city of Seattlehama teems with salesWarriors, tourists, sex workers and fashionistas.

In Yarn, Armstong again takes his knack for taking things to the nth degree to the next nth degree.  Business is war, and fashion is life. For a salesWarrior,  a day without a sale can quite literally mean death, and for the fashionable (and who isn’t?) bad fashion is akin to social suicide.  SalesWarriors swarm through the tourists spewing their dramatic slogan filled warTalk, while violently keeping the competition at bay, and jobbers take whatever contracts they can.  Conspicuous consumption is the name of the game, and if your jacket is a week old it’s already 6 days out of date.   In a world like this, how far will people go to obtain power over business and fashion?

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or as I like to call it “I didn’t finish anything yesterday, so I don’t have a review for today”.

You’re looking at Contra Alliance, by Tom Kolega, which I’m about halfway through, and Yarn, by Jon Armstrong, which I’m about 70 pages into.

I’ve been reading a boatload of Fantasy lately, so it’s nice to have two pure SF books going at once.

Contra Alliance has a fun comic booky cover, and was a good opportunity to try something that’s a little out of my comfort zone – YA military SF.  It’s easy reading, but a little too YA for my tastes, so of course, I had to balance it out with Yarn, which is shockingly NC-17 at times.  perfect balance, if you ask me.

so, what are YOU reading?

Grey, by Jon Armstrong

published in 2007

where I got it:  bought

why I read it:  been hearing good things about it.

Heir to the Rivergroup company, Michael Rivers is in love with the beautiful Nora.  Every date and detail of their romance was organized, choreographed and directed by the PR departments of their companies,  down to Michael’s hairstyle and Nora’s earrings. That they fell in love with each other was never part of the corporate plan.  For the wealthy company families who run the world in this frantic future, everything is PR.   Every moment is planned, directed, blocked and recorded just to be dissected and discussed ad nauseum later. And there is no such thing as bad PR.

This is a future where style is everything.  The wealthy live it up with 24/7 parties, lethally thumping bass,  and cosplay their favorite bands, while bands and hanger-ons  battle for who can be stranger. Success means faster, louder, brighter, more over the top, and more more more of everything than your competition. Privacy is unheard of, and who would want it, when privacy would stop your every move from being broadcast and talked about all over the channels?    

When every moment is garish, loud, brash and bright, the rebels crave quiet and monochromatic. Michael and Nora are two such people.  They dress in muted tones,  and have even gone so far to have the cones in one eye illegally destroyed, making them each color blind in one eye.  Followers of the minimalist fashion and photography magazine Pure H, Michael and Nora send secret messages to each other by quoting partial lines from the magazine.

Grey is frantic, insane, completely over the top, hilarious, refreshing, and at times completely sick.  

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After professing my love for shorter casual reviews, here’s a super long, more formal review. My exuse being I wanted to put in some cultural tidbits. Look for the italics.

Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa is the story of Yukari as she survives her senior year of high school. It’s the perfect length at five volumes: short enough that you can read the whole thing in one day, but long enough that you get a completed storyline that finishes well. Yukari is your typical Japanese high school student – school, cram school, chores, homework, repeat every boring day, spend weekends at the library studying for college entrance exams. She’s been crushing on handsome Hiroyuki for years, and maybe, finally, this year, she might get up the guts to ask him out.

Japanese cultural tidbit: Especially in the larger cities, University entrance exams are a BIG DEAL. Much bigger deal than ACTs or SATs in the United States. Many high school students sign up for cram classes that meet a few days a week including Saturdays.

One afternoon Yukari is approached by some very strange looking students who half demand, and half beg her to help them. Thus we meet Isabella, Miwako and Arashi, who are all seniors at a fashion and textiles specialty high school. Their senior project involves a highly competitive fashion project led by their team leader George, and they need a fashion model for the show. Miwako explains their fahion line is called Paradise Kiss, and they feel Yukari would be a perfect fashion model for their show. Will she help them? Read the rest of this entry »

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.