furyofvissarion: (Default)
[personal profile] furyofvissarion
Most of these have been written up for ages; I just never got around to posting. & yes, these are the only books I've managed to read since August.

Broken Kingdoms - N. K. Jemisin. Sequel to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Oh, I read this months ago & should've written it up then -- suffice to say, I was hesitant to read this because I enjoyed the first book so much & knew this one focused on some other characters, but I shouldn't have worried. I may have even liked this one better than the first one. There's a romance that I've heard some people found dissatisfying, but I found it deliciously bittersweet & difficult & it hit a lot of my buttons. Um okay I fail at having anything substantial to say about this, but so far I do think Jemisin is one of the rare authors that lives up to every bit of hype.

Small Change: About the Art of Practice and the Limits of Planning in Cities - Nabeel Hamdi. I really liked that this book asked planners & architects to take a look at how they engage with communities, particularly ones over which they have a considerable amount of privilege -- particularly as Westerners engaging outside the West. There are lots of examples of fail, & a fair number of examples of improved practice. I still find it hard not to be cynical, though, & chapters titled things like "Playing Games. Serious Games," or whatever kind of make me giggle. Still: food for thought, & stuff that, as basic as I may have found parts of it, lots of planners & architects do need to keep in mind.

The Wiscon Chronicles Volume 6: Futures of Feminism and Fandom - Edited by Alexis Lothian. At the risk of sounding horribly name-drop-y, as these books keep going, I know more & more people who have essays in them. Which is super exciting! It just makes me more & more nervous about blogging about them, somehow. Anyway, this was definitely a solid contribution to the Chronicles, which I feel like keeps getting stronger & stronger. Covering MoonFail was inevitable; rereading some of the blog posts that I read as they went up was painful. Necessary, & I was glad to see the words speaking out eloquently against Elizabeth Moon's hatred, but it was hard to read. I was glad to see some important stuff about class/ism & WisCon (& the difficulties of bringing up the former at the latter). Excitingly, there was also a section on transformative fandom. I think I felt a little left out by some of it, partly because, well, I guess there are still big cultural fannish divides, & I felt on the other side, mostly, of the ones in the book. But that isn't really a fault of the essays in there; I think it's important to have stuff on transformative works at WisCon, & maybe in future there will be other dimensions of this talked about more in the Chronicles.

Post-Suburban Europe: Planning and Politics at the Margins of Europe's Capital Cities - Nicholas A. Phelps, Nick Parsons, Dimitris Ballas & Andrew Dowling. This takes a look at how the concept of edge cities translates -- or doesn't -- from the US context to Europe, prompted by a lack of academic attention to places in Europe that might seem to fall into the category: outside their nation's capitals, possibly having indistinct centers, lacking a coherent sense of place/identity, etc. Five cities involved in a European edge cities network form the focus of the book -- Kifissia (Greece), Getafe (Spain), Noisy-le-Grand (France), Espoo (Finland), & Croydon (England).

A common issue for these cities is struggling against their neighboring large city for resources, for identity, for industry & housing & population. Croydon, in London's shadow, seems especially keen to throw its weight around -- & like other locales in this book (Getafe comes to mind most readily), doing so means stepping on the toes of other nearby communities sometimes. Noisy-le-Grand's difficulties stem in part because it is caught in a tangle of different levels of government, each with different levels of funding & different goals -- it's also administratively stuck in a region that seems most focused on Disneyland Paris as an economic generator, to the detriment of funding for Noisy-le-Grand itself. What I found most striking about Espoo was that, when the garden city development of Tapiola was being planned inside Espoo, the municipal government refused to get involved & refused to invest in infrastructure; this essentially gave developers a free hand & resulted in Espoo growing into a city that basically has five centres & poor connectivity & integration between them.

I was also interested in reading about the travails of the cities trying to work together in the edge city network -- regional stereotypes & working styles rubbing up against each other, etc. Anyway, a bit of a dense read, but a good overview, I thought, of some of the regional & local politics at play in urban & regional planning in the relevant parts of Europe.

Date: 2012-12-20 09:54 pm (UTC)
liseuse: (girl and books)
From: [personal profile] liseuse
Post-Suburban Europe sounds really interesting. And N. K. Jemisin is one of those authors I keep hearing about and failing to read anything by. Going on the list!

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