Monday Rec: What If

The best thing that the Harry Potter series gave the world, or at least my little internet corner of it, is its fandom, which is an endless font of creativity and love and magic.

I don’t have much new stuff from the past week to recommend, but this alternate universe Harry Potter story (found via Seanan McGuire’s tumblr) lays down groundworks for a world without both Harry and Neville and basically reduced me to a sobbing wreck. Excerpt:

Professor Flitwick had vanished when Dumbledore had. He spent more than a decade snatching up children like he was a Pied Piper, taking whole families to safe spaces, new lives.

Some of the Muggleborn families took their magical children and ran, to Australia and New York and Amsterdam. Flitwick gave them cards for private, honorable tutors in every place they fled to and books on magic for self-study. But others stayed.

Their school was held in the basements of sweet shops and the attics of old Hufflepuff families and bespelled rooms in the backs of public libraries. Flitwick taught Charms; Molly taught Potions, Remus taught Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Sirius taught Transfiguration. Members of the Order cycled in as visiting lecturers. They all taught Silencing Spells and how to make Polyjuice Potion, how to lie, hide, run, and how to pretend to be wizardborn.

When Mr. Goldstein found out that wizarding curriculum did not include an education in mathematics, he was horrified; he had been an accountant with his own firm, before Death Eaters had come for his youngest son, Anthony.

“They never learn how to balance checkbooks?” Mrs. Creevey asked, shocked.

“I’m not sure they learn to add,” said Mr. Goldstein, concerned.

“We learn how to add,” said Mrs. Cohen-Goldstein, who had graduated Gryffindor before marrying Muggle. Her husband looked relieved, but he insisted on joining the teaching staff anyway and introducing the kids to fractions.

The wizarding staff taught the parents and the siblings how to slink through Magical Britain, how to navigate Knockturn and avoid Muggle turns of phrase. The Muggle parents taught the wizards how to drive a car, dress Muggle, how to slip out between the worlds and lose Death Eaters in the bright lights of a supermarket.

The children levitated tea cups, played Exploding Snap and gin rummy, read Diana Wynne Jones and Roald Dahl alongside Beedle the Bard. Watching Muggle children run and whisper with Muggleborn wizards, at-risk halfbloods, and blood traitors, you couldn’t tell them apart.

Monday Recs

  • My priestess gave me a baggie of lavender for my birthday to help me sleep, and I stuck it next to my CPAP’s intake filter. I highly recommend the “put something that smells good and calming next to your intake” method of making sleep better with a CPAP. I’m guessing the thing I did where I tape it on there might be a bad idea if you’re at one of the higher pressures, since it might make it unable to get enough air, but since I’m only at a 7, it works well for me.
  • Kiva Bay draws pictures of feminists and they are wonderful. She’s working on a feminist magic deck. Her work is really sweet and fun and it’s really nice to see someone making something lovely and encouraging and energizing while all the #GamerGate shit seems to show little sign of ever stopping. I follow her on Twitter and she brings me joy.
  • Spellcaster by Claudia Gray is a really fun little YA Urban Fantasy series. It focuses really heavily on friendship and family and one of the protagonists has two dads, which is a nice alternative to the standard Gay-Best-Friend-Who-Angsts trope that so many novels seem to have picked up recently. It’s got a nice small town feel, sort of Sunnydale meets Star’s Hollow. It’s not something I’d recommend to people who don’t devour lots of YA Urban Fantasy stuff anyway, but if that genre’s your cup of tea, it’s fun. Kristine Hvam, narrator of one of my all-time favorites (Daughter of Smoke and Bone), does this trilogy and her voice is beautiful, soothing, and engaging; she really pulls you into the world.
  • Claudia Gray’s dimension-hopping A Thousand Pieces Of You is also a fun read with some really rich and beautiful worldbuilding.
  • I’ve been using Scribd to listen to audiobooks and it’s pretty good. The app doesn’t always work well– it’s not nearly as good as Audible’s– but the selection for both audiobooks and book-books is pretty good; it’s far superior to Amazon Unlimited, where I went through pretty much everything I was interested in listening to in the free trial month. (I get free membership if you sign up using my link, but so do you, and it helps get me access to the giant pile of books I talk about here, so it’s a good deal on all sides.)

In my own news, I made a single-serve website to show what #GamerGate is ruining at any given moment. (If they’re ruining something new and I haven’t noticed, message me on Twitter so I can update it.) I also set up a Patreon in case any of you want to help me figure out how to get paid for this kind of writing, which would be aces; I also have a tip jar.

Monday Recs

I have decided to try to do a thing where every Monday I recommend a handful of things to you, my readers. What kinds of things? WHO KNOWS! Maybe it’ll be STUFF! Maybe BOOKS! Maybe LINKS!

  1. This Logitech Trackball Mouse: You button with your fingers and scroll with your thumb and I am so spoiled because I have used this for a few years and it’s really nice. I like it a lot for gaming in particular, but I find it a lot more pleasant and less painful on my hands, especially since I can just put it up and use it anywhere without worrying about it being a good surface for mousing on. It goes through batteries really slow, too, which I am amazed by.
  2. Cheat Engine for Dragon Age: Inquisition: If you’re playing DA:I, this gives you a button that triggers banter and a button that lets you wear your armor in Skyhold so you aren’t wearing those hideous beige pajamas in half the game’s dramatic cutscenes. Thank Andraste.
  3. Seraphina and Shadow Scale: I’ve talked a bit about these here before, but I really, really love these books. They’re really well-written, funny, and sweet, with great characters, good social justice themes, some major gay characters and one minor trans character, and incredibly rich worldbuilding. I really like the non-action-hero protagonist and general lack of violence as a default-problem-solving-mechanic, because I’m pretty bored with that in SFF, so it’s a nice change.
  4. poop.bike: it’s a website called poop.bike, what can I say about that really

I loved this bit of linguistic worldbuilding on pronouns from Rachel Hartman’s Shadow Scale:

Abdo gave me the expected fish-eye, but for an unexpected reason: Wrong gender. You use cosmic neuter for a stranger.

I glanced at Rodya; he leaned to one side and spat on the ground. He’s not a stranger anymore. If ever anyone embodied naive masculine, surely Rodya—

You use cosmic neuter for a stranger, Abdo insisted. And he’s a stranger until you’ve asked “How may I pronoun you?”

But you told me cosmic neuter was the gender of gods and eggplant, I protested, unsure why I was arguing with a native speaker about his own language.

People may choose it, said Abdo. But it’s polite for strangers. You may be almost sure he’s not an eggplant, but he might still be some agent of the gods.

Shadow Scale is the sequel to the wonderful Seraphina.