For Neil Gaiman fans, the audiobook of Norse Mythology is on sale for 99p today:
There is something wonderful about this.
The full text is here: http://botnik.org/content/harry-potter.html
All passwords should be “BEEF WOMEN”
This is literally the plot of an Isaac Asimov story from the '40s. The computer messed up the text in that, too.
Got sick, took two days to re-read DROWN by Junot Diaz, one of my favorite authors. Still brilliant, but it pales next to his later work. Just as true and complicated and painful and beautiful as his later work, but lacking some of the ambition.
Currently reading Forever War (Halderman) and it’s tremendous, also making my way through H.L. Mencken’s Chrestomathy and am, as always, blown away by his work.
Slowly but surely making my way through HYPEROBJECTS which is dauntingly dense and wide ranging as it adapts philosophical models/concepts (especially those of Heidegger) to our post-modern after-the-end-of-the-world state of being.
Also dipping my toes into some Zelazny short stories, which are a mixed bag, as these things often are.
I started Andy Weir’s new book Artemis, which has been described as a heist set in the first city on the moon. I thought The Martian was a mixed bag that was mainly saved by its humor. This book is getting off to a very rough start. The story seems fine but the writing is very dry and a bit pedestrian. I’m hoping it’ll improve once I’m invested in the main character.
I finished Andy Weir’s Artemis this morning. The odd thing about it is that despite the large amount of research he did for the book, Weir apparently doesn’t know what the word ‘heist’ means. As I said above, the book has been referred to as a heist set in the first city on the moon and several characters refer to committing a heist. Yet, at no point in the book does a heist take place. What does happen I guess could be referred to as caper but certainly not a heist. It’s an extremely weird error, especially since you’d think that somewhere in the process Weir’s editors would have point out that he’s using the word wrong.
Beyond that it’s an okay novel. As I said above, the writing is a bit flat and pedestrian, and he has a tendency to tell the readers ‘remember…,’ but once the story really gets going that’s not a huge concern. The lead character is fun and interesting, if not quite so much as Mark Watney in The Martian. The actually caper, not heist, is decent enough, but because it’s so science heavy it’s a bit dry. It’s a quick easy read, nothing special but entertaining enough that it doesn’t feel like a waste of time. I will add though that Weir’s reported epic level of research feels pretty much wasted. I’m sure the “city” he’s created would be viable and could actually work but it basically just feels like any other sci-fi city. He could have skipped the research and just made something up and it wouldn’t have made much difference to me as a reader.
Touch by Claire North (Audible version)
Like North’s previous novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, the premise of Touch is relatively simple, but explored in an interesting way. In this case, the protagonist is an ephemeral being who can transfer their essence (memory, personality, etc.) from person to person by touch, leaving each host with a blank for the period engaged. Also like TFFLoHA, there is an organisation hunting down people like the protagonist. Unlike TFFLoHA, I felt like there were far fewer opportunities missed. The main thrust of the novel is the hunt for the said organisation through the current host, and a host of flashbacks (yeah, I know). The sometimes head-spinning transfers and past relationships are well done, but the middle gets a little stodgy, and it becomes clear we’re on hold, waiting for the climax (which really wasn’t). Still, it was an enjoyable read. I would imagine Touch would be better to read traditionally rather than through Audible, especially during some of the flashbacks and faster-paced tranfers.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (Audible version)
I have mixed feelings about this popular science book mapping the three major human ‘revolutions’: cognitive, agricultural, and scientific. It’s well-written, yet seems muddled in places. It contains passages of well-researched, informative material, and others of raw opinion. It demonstrates a strong sense of being apolitical in some parts, and shows a clear agenda elsewhere. The latter, in particular, I object to in today’s climate of right wing/fake news ascendency; those of us on the more liberal side need to stick to just the facts. His peculiar railing against ‘humanism’ should not be mistakingly associated with the Humanist organisations. This is an intiguing, if highly-flawed book, and there are subject areas I’d like to explore further. Sapiens certainly puts us in our place.
Yeah, that bathroom scene may be the most fucked up thing I have ever read. I mean, besides some of the other stuff in that novel
I did like the narrative voice a lot, once I got used to it.
That is almost too perfect. There are some bits that are just brilliant. My favourites are:
“To Harry, Ron was a loud, slow and soft bird. Harry did not like to think about birds.”
This is fantastic. I mean, why doesn’t Harry like to think about birds? Is this a new trauma we hadn’t heard about? And how deep must his true resentment of Ron go if he is, to Harry, a “loud, slow and soft” bird? Also, it’s kind of true. About Ron, I mean.
"The Death Eater was wearing a shirt that said ‘Hermione Has Forgotten How to Dance’, so Hermione dipped his face in mud.
I don’t know, I just think it’s the perfect insult, in all of its absurdity. It’s important that the shirt doesn’t just say “Hermione can’t dance”, but that she’s forgotten how to. Also, how cool is it that this Death Eater is wearing a shirt insulting Hermione just in case he runs into her? Good on her for just mudding him, though.
“We’re the only people who matter. He’s never going to get rid of us”, Harry, Hermione and Ron said in chorus.
This just captures something deeply disturbing about these three. If you think about it long enough, they’re kind of creepy and scary anyway.
Now, Christian, Harry had a trauma with a very beloved bird, Hedwig, who came to quite the abrupt end. Not to mention the hippogriff, at least part avian; and his frequent encounters with owls. The owls serve as a sort of postal service, but recently Mr. Potter was introduced to the concept of using ravens for similar activity, as they apparently travel at hyperspeed. He heard this from a nearby magical realm that has had much success! But his own traumas weigh on him, and he becomes so very, very sad when he sees his Christmas goose is cooked.
“Not so handsome now,” thought Harry as he dipped Hermione in hot sauce.
Oh, right? Once you get used to it, the voice is kind of awesome ha. But yeah…holy hell…I’m about halfway through it.
Arrival by Ted Chiang - I picked this up a while ago on the strength of the film and finally got around to finishing it. It’s an interesting collection of science fiction short stories that read more like episodes of The Twilight Zone. There are some truly odd tales here mostly based on outdated scientific ideas and understanding. The obvious stand out is The Story of Your Life though a bit of its punch was stolen since I had already seen the film and I thought the film captured it better. Division By Zero hit home to me with its discussion about depression and scientific wrapper. I also enjoyed Hell Is the Absence of God with its almost Evangalion-like cosmology. I enjoyed Chiang’s notes on each story at the end of the book. Some of his views expressed there and the kernels that spawned his stories are very close to my own mind space. It was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it.
"The pig of Hufflepuff pulsed like a large bullfrog.Dumbledore smiled at it , and placed his hand on its head: ‘You are Hagrid now’"
Since when did Hufflepuff have a pig? Their symbol is a badger, not a pig. And Dumbledore would not insult Hagrid in anyway, much less by comparing him to a pig. Yeah, Hagrid’s huge, but that’s not because he’s fat, it’s because he’s half-Giant. And Dumbledore is the last wizard to mock what some racist wizards call “Half-Breeds”, besides, he was the only one of the good guys except Hagrid and Madame Maxime (and both of them are half-Giant) to think that the Giants could be persuaded to not join Voldemort. My only conclusion is that this takes place during the sixth book, and Prof. Slughorn went nuts and spiked the entire castle’s food with the Magical version of LSD.
He’s an incredible writer, with some really unique concepts. I wish he wrote more, though. I looked for other works, and it appears that this collection has almost everything he’s ever had published.
Did you miss the bit that explained how this was written?
Same here. It appears there may be one or two things not in the collection but 90%+ is there. Some of his stuff was a bit odd for my taste but there was also a whole lot to like. It appears that he has a day job as a technical writer in the software industry.
All the best people do
I was impressed when I discovered that. His ideas are so far removed from the typical SF written by hard scientists and engineers, I wondered if his discipline was philosophy or linguistics or something. But no, he comes from a computer science backgound.
I was joking, and acting as if it was something to take seriously.