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I started An Evil Guest, Gene Wolfe’s latest, on the way to Games Club yesterday. (Oh, lost a lot of games of Race for the Galaxy and Dominion.) Here are things I’m noticing as I go; page references are from the first Tor hardcover:

Here's your spoiler-cover )
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A chiropractor who claims he can treat anyone by reaching back in time to when an injury occurred has attracted the attention of state regulators.

Reaching through time to cure injuries? Could he be — the Conciliator?!

Burda calls his treatment “Bahlaqeem.”

“It is a made-up word and, to my knowledge, has no known meaning except for this intended purpose. It does, however, have a soothing vibrational influence and contains the very special number of nine letters,” Burda’s Web site says.

Made-up word? I guess not, then.

(link via [livejournal.com profile] supergee)

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I finished up Return to the Whorl on Thursday, completing the last of Gene Wolfe’s Sun books.

Final opinions and specualtions; spoilers, of course )

I was considering starting up Wolfe’s latest book, The Knight, but [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen starting talking about staging an intervention. I started Eleanor Arnason’s Ring of Swords on the way to work Friday morning. This is a copy borrowed from [livejournal.com profile] drcpunk; we both copy-edited a really great review of it that should be running in The New York Review of Science Fiction soon. It was one of those great reviews that really sells the book. The author considered the book from three angles: as an SF Jane Austin book, as a parallel to Macbeth, and as Heinlein slash fiction. How could I pass that up?

But I’ll be holding that for commutes. Now I’m catching up on my comics reading. I picked up a pair of Paul Grist collections that came out on Wednesday: Kane: Greetings from New Eden (a contemporary cop story) and Jack Staff: Everything Used to be Black and White (a British superhero comic). These are great. Grist is one of those comics artist who approaches things from a graphic-design perspective, with lots of blocks of solid black or white, and lots of attention to panel and page composition. (Though see page 19 of the Kane book for examples of a nose-shading technique that keeps not working even though he keeps trying it.) His stories tend to bounce around a bit with lots of flashbacks; I was a bit confused by some of the transitions early in Kane, but the ironic juxtapositions of comments and events made it worth my while. I’m only a third of the way through the Jack Staff book, but I’m enjoying it even more. Grist manages to combine bouncy superhero fun with X-Files mystery and an old noirish plot twist and make it all work in true postmodern genre-sampling style.

I really need to start catching up on some of the comics collections I’ve had sitting around. There’s volume 2 of FLCL which I picked up last week, and Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde which I got when it first came out in paperback and still haven’t gotten around to reading. I think I’m still a few volumes behind in Ranma 1/2 too.
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I am an idiot. Three times now I’ve read the Book of the New Sun, and it’s not till just tonight, on page 331 of the second Short Sun book, that I realize that Spoilers for all three Sun series! )
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More spoilers for Short Sun )
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Just finished On Blue’s Waters, the first book of the Book of the Short Sun.

Spoilers for all of the Sun books )
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Oh, now that’s interesting! I was browsing through the archives of the Whorl mailing list, and I found a message listing the meanings of the names of the various Fliers from Long Sun.

Spoiler for Long Sun )
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I realized the other day: Patera Silk is a Mary Sue!

SPOILERS for The Book of the LONG Sun )
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Finished The Book of the Long Sun last night, started On Blue’s Waters (first part of The Book of the Short Sun) today.

Wondering about technology in Long Sun )

Update: The word “azoth” )
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I think I’ve been reading Exodus from the Long Sun for about a week now, and I’m only halfway through it. I’m not enjoying it as much as the rest of the series. It seems like Wolfe is taking every opportunity to slow the action down by having the characters talk about how they know this, or how they’ve figured out that, material that I’d have happily elided over.

And at some point I started hearing Patera Incus’s dialog in Emo Phillips’s voice.


Jan. 19th, 2004 08:59 pm
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Six pages into the new sketchbook and I’ve done nothing I feel like scanning and posting. Not the sketchbook’s fault; the Strathmore paper is giving me the excellent performance I expect from Strathmore. (Consider this a recommendation.)

I spent the day at Ground, mostly reading Exodus from the Long Sun, occasionally sketching, but not really getting into the groove. I need a cheap source of Art Nouveau inspirational reference material; Google image search isn’t quite doing it for me. (Hm, this page of doors would be pretty good if the images were larger.)

It’s odd; I came back from Arisia all revved for doing some art, and now I just can’t seem to get into that head-space.

I was thinking about terms for the undead, and considering the D&D monster, the wight. It hadn’t occurred to me before, but whoever named this creature (probably Gygax, his linguistic reach has always exceeded his grasp) should have done a little research. Wight is a Middle English word meaning person, or possibly creature. The undead creature that Tom Bombadil saves the hobbits from he calls “barrow wights”, which simply means grave men. Gygax (or whoever) clearly seized upon the unfamiliar word wight as a term for an undead creature, and assumed that barrow was just a way of saying what kind of wight it was, like there are hill giants and storm giants. It’s as if you wrote a story about some zombies haunting a tomb, and called them “tomb folk”, and someone unfamiliar with the word folk decided it meant zombie.
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Neil Gaiman interviews Gene Wolfe:

Gene Wolfe: I'm anxious to get our interview under way, so I've decided to answer your first three questions before you ask them—You can work out the questions at leisure....

(Via Electrolite)
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More spoily New Sun, Long Sun stuff )
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[livejournal.com profile] bigscary has had me meaning to go back and reread all of Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos books. Last time I read the early ones was when I did a full reread as preparation for Phoenix, which was published in 1990. But reading A Case of Conscience (which struck me as annoyingly arbitrary) has me wanting to reread the Long Sun books. Here we go again:

Observations on the first few pages of The Book of the Long Sun (with spoilers for that series and New Sun) )


Dec. 25th, 2003 12:27 am
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I finished Urth of the New Sun this evening; a bit of a slog. The first four books remain brilliant even on the third reading, but the fifth just isn’t as good.

Now I’m reading a galley of Cory Doctorow’s upcoming novel, Eastern Standard Tribe. It’s fun so far, but one thing has me puzzled. Cory’s invented coffium, coffee made with heavy water that doesn’t cool off. Assuming that’s an exaggeration (even stars cool down eventually), does this idea work scientifically? Does heated heavy water take a dramatically longer time to cool than light water does?

I’ve tried using Google to find out what the specific heat of heavy water (D2O) is, without luck. This suggests to me that it’s the same as the specific heat of H2O (1.00 cal/g °C). Anyone out there know any different?

Heavy water is about 10% denser than regular water, which would slow its cooling a bit since you’ve got more mass trying to shed heat through the same surface area; I assume you’d get a 10% increase in cooling time, but I haven’t bothered to look up the actual formula and run the numbers. That’s not enough of a change to justify the claim Cory’s narrator is making.

It also has slightly higher boiling (101.42° C) and freezing (3.81° C) points than regular water does, and it’s about 10% denser; I don’t know what that would do for cooling, if anything.
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The Book of the New Sun is the classic Gene Wolfe book. It was originally a four book series (well, originally three, but the last one got too big). But, well, wait, let me tell you another story so I can tell you this one:

Within the story of the Book of the New Sun, our viewpoint protagonist, Severian, carries around a book called Wonders of Urth and Sky, a collection of old stories. (Very old stories — New Sun takes place some large but unspecified number of millennia in our future.) Every so often he’ll sit down and read a story. One such is “The Story of the Student and His Son”. The names of the hero and monster in this story are both puns, but the names are not given in the story. There’s enough information for you to figure out who they are, and to figure out what the puns are, and that’s good enough for Wolfe.

For those who haven’t figured it out... )

New Sun is built around a climax, but the climax never appears in the four-book series. Instead, there’s enough information for you to figure out most of what happens, and that’s good enough for Wolfe. Not good enough for his editor, who made him write a fifth book, Urth of the New Sun, which I’m halfway through, and I’ve finally come to agree with the folks who say it’s not as good as the other four. I think now that the best way to read the series is to read all five, and then go back and reread the first four.

SPOILERish speculation, that didn’t pan out, about Urth and the Long and Short Sun books )
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Gene Wolfe’s The Sword of the Lictor (Volume 3 of the Book of the New Sun), Chapter XXV:

“It was a period of great confusion as well. My astronomers had told me that this sun’s activity would decay slowly. Far too slowly, in fact, for the change to be noticeable in a human lifetime. They were wrong. The heat of the world declined by nearly two parts in a thousand over a few years, then stabilized. Crops failed, and there were famines and riots. I should have left then.”

David Adam, writing for The Guardian:

It turns out that Ohmura was the first to document a dramatic effect that scientists are now calling "global dimming". Records show that over the past 50 years the average amount of sunlight reaching the ground has gone down by almost 3% a decade. It's too small an effect to see with the naked eye, but it has implications for everything from climate change to solar power and even the future sustainability of plant photosynthesis.

It’s a very odd article. I scrolled back up to the top of the page to make sure it hadn’t been published on April 1st.

April 2017



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