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Showing posts from August, 2006

Valentine, George Sand

In light of all the fantastic fiction I'd been reading I decided to read something guaranteed to have nothing supernatural about it. I picked Sand because I've never read her, only seen Impromptu. I'd heard both that she was the French Austen, and that she wrote bodice rippers for her time. Well, both are true. Underneath the flighty romance is a keen observation of French social structure post Napoleon. What I loved was that the observations could be identical to observations today--the young hero is described as having a particularly new ennui of over intelligence. She despairs of it--as we do today. The love story is interesting in contrast to English novels in that it is in fact consummated (discretely), lips meet, passions so long denied could no longer be ignored, yada, yada, next sentence is the next day, while Dickens had real trouble with actual sex. If two people were known to have had sex it would always be revealed that they had been secretly married. However o…

Three Days to Never--Tim Powers

Speaking of writers who write best in certain landscapes. Tim Powers writes most strongly about LA and the outlying towns, which is not to say that he can't write about other locations, my favorite book by him, Declare, is set in Europe before the second world war, but LA is where his strongest stories are set. This however is not one of them. It's not a bad book, it's just a little simple for him. Tim is another writer who writes about a world alongside this one. His world is inhabited by ghosts and the people who manipulate them and those who would live forever whatever the cost. Famous people routinely wander in and out of his novels--Shelley (The Stress of Her Regard), Guy Burgess (Declare), Edison, Einstein, Bugsy Siegel. Unlike your Dan Brown he actually does a lot of research and makes his explanations fit the facts, not the other way around. In the afterward to Declare he states that the times and incidents he mentions all happened to Burgess--he just puts a supern…

Perdido Street Station

A month ago, when I read this series of interesting "Fantastic" books I was all set to write long and lovingly about each of them and Fantastic Fiction in general, but now time has passed and the need is no longer there. Just in passing this is a very good book. He creates a completely new world where science and thaumaturgy run side by side, where our rules of evolution do not apply and chaos apparently runs through uninhabitable regions, possibly because of the actions of the inhabitants. Yet, like all good fiction, it is in some ways our world. The rich and powerful get richer and more powerful. The slums exist to catch the dregs. Good works give way to squalor because the inhabitants are too tired to care and the higher ups use that as an excuse not to bother. Central to the story is the partnership between big crime and politics and how a quest for power and money leads to a very dangerous creature being set free. The ideas are soaring--great bat like beings that mesmer…

What's in a blog

Several people in my life seem to be examining things--what blogging is, why we do things (like go to college), what is meaning in life, what is purpose--in interconnected ways. Which has led me back again to what am I doing here? What do I want from the blogosphere? A few good correspondents. I'm not really looking to get thousands of hits, because I can't discuss with a thousand posts. Also you run into the bitter who are out to argue. I'm not out to argue. I'm not out to be pedantic--you get a few facts wrong about things I'll let it slide, because I get sloppy and make mistakes too. I sometimes correct people, but only if I think it's relevant to the discussion at hand. One of the posters on the Vietnamese adoptee network wrote a post that seemed to indicate that she thought that Tarzan, The Rescuers and others were Disney stories instead of stories that Disney appropriated. My gut instinct was to write and say, "Excuse me, Tarzan is by Edgar Rice Burr…

The end of Cloud Atlas

Feel I must write this--promised it to myself, can I finish before midnight (when I said I would go to bed at 11)?

Where was I?

Oh, yes, section 5, where it gets interesting--because it's the future, at least 25 years, hopefully more. I say hopefully, because I don't want to be living in this future. The section is called "An Orison of Sonmi-451." An Orison (I had to look it up, proving I don't remember my Shakespeare) is a prayer, but in this future world where language has taken as many turns as in Orwell's 1984, it is more a confession or final statement. Sonmi-451 is a clone (as the name might suggest). The section is not entirely original. It owes much to Brave New World and Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (made into the film Bladerunner). I find it interesting that 40 or so years ago--when Dick wrote his book he believed that future slaves would be Androids, replicants. Now we are much more likely to presume they will be clones,…

What's in a date indeed...

Haven't blogged anywhere in over a week and one friend called to ask if I was Ok. Fear you may be my only reader, Red Queen. So why do I blog? Back to that question again. Is it just to get me writing? As a more positive alternative to game playing in the hopes it will lead to real work? I do feel more verbally grounded (as opposed to visual where I start to be aphasic) when I'm trying to write more--and I think of things to write 2 or 3 times a day and write most in my head, even if I don't get the down, a good, I think. And yet, I would like readers who question and discuss--not sure what to do about that. Fear I have too little time to see the few close friends I have let alone write long conversations with people I will never see who could just be yanking me along for their own enjoyment. Hmmm...

What's in a date?

Worked late last night, and now things are too slow.

A friend wrote in July about the Tanabata Festival in Japan. One celebrates by tying wishes to Bamboo and then burning them or floating them on the water (the Japanese are all about burning and floating on the water--preferably together) after the festival or the next day. Now the difficulty lies in the fact that this is supposed to be celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month or July 7th, right? But, NO! The Japanese Lunar calendar is closer to the Gregorian calendar and therefore a month off, so August 7th, but if fact, being Lunar is slightly different each year, so this year is closer to July 31st. So different towns in Japan celebrate it on different days. I found out about this last week and meant to remember not to forget to do it on the 7th, but instead remembered yesterday. So the question is, can I still celebrate this holiday since I would only be celebrating it with my husband and the day is clearly not the issue?
What is…

As Advertised--David Mitchell

Finally, time to write about some amazing books that everyone should read who enjoys good fantastic fiction or even good fiction.


David Mitchell, author, two time Booker Prize nominee. British.

I can't remember how I first picked up his first book, Ghostwritten. I really thought it was an advanced reader's copy but I have it in front of me and it clearly isn't, so either I got it from the library and then picked up a copy, or I bought it in one of my rare random buys from a bookstore. I read so much and in so many varied genres that I become overwhelmed in bookstores. So much sounds good; I can't afford much so I buy nothing rather than choosing and then run to the library with a list so long I can't carry it. What I do remember is that about half way through I looked at my husband and said, "This belongs on the shelf," and "You MUST read this."

He did and was as blown away as I. It's a first novel which is so confident and sure of itself it…

Three Chinatowns

Above--Chinatown, San Francisco
I've been in three Chinatowns in a month. Pretty cool. Went down to NYC yesterday to see a show that I designed in the spring be part of a Play Festival. So I've had costume design in NYC--Woohoo! It's my set too, but they really couldn't take many pieces so it wasn't really much of a set by the time it got there. One of the actresses had strep this week and I wondered if they might ask me to step in (I did once before for a read thu, and I know they respect me as an actress), but she took antibiotics and recovered and I'm glad. It's her role and she's fantastic in it, plus I'd have to still be there and not getting back until midnight tonight and I have a mammogram in the morning--blech. TMI, TMI! But still, I'd have been acting in NYC. Once upon a time (at about 18 or so) I thought that would be my life, but in college I realized I couldn't live with that poverty and constant uncertainty so instead I've v…