Tuesday, March 27, 2012

monkey's fist

I just finished the The Monkey's Fist by William Pease. I haven't read Pease before, so it was refreshingly different. Think: gumshoe detective novel meets spy novel.

I won't say that this story was clear of the detective novel and spy novel genre-liciousia that you typically find in these stories; in fact, it was lousy with them. But they were combined in new and interesting ways in this story. The plotting is pretty bullet-proof, and it has some interesting twists that kept me reading, so I'd be interested to see if some of his other stories are more original, or if he writes his other stories in a similar story arc.*

Mystery, international intrigue, cloak and dagger, good-ol'-fashioned-police-work, back stabbing, money laundering, sex, family trouble, secreter than secret organizations, and a little love interest. So yes, you've read all this before, but... maybe not in the same book.

This is kind of an oldie. I found this at the book sale at my library. The copyright date is 1996, and I think it was originally published in England.

* According to Tangled Web UK, Pease has a few other stories that also include the gumshoe, Eddie Nickles.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

hunger games

Here's a slice. I'm in the library a week or so ago, checking out a DVD and paying for few books from the book sale. On the circulation desk on a little wire stand is a copy of The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

"Oh," I say, "is this a reading club book or something?"
"No," the librarian tells me, "there's a waiting list for it, but this copy is one of our first-come-first-served copies. Its good; a quick red. I think you should take it home with you."
"I feel bad about the folks that are waiting for it," says I, picking it up to see the back cover.
"Nah, they wouldn't get this copy unless they came in--Once you read it you'll want to read the others."
"There're more?"
"Two more."
"Are they all published? I don't want to wait for a year for the last one."
"Yes they're all published."
I smile and put it on the stack.

I didn't learn until later that there is a movie in the works, and this is obviously the reason there is a wait for this book.

The librarian was right; this was a fast read. I think it took 2 or 3 days, tops. Interestingly, this story is also post-apocalyptic, like the last book.

The Hunger Games are a blood sport; the story focuses on a young woman and her view of the games. Collins has written a exciting, very fast moving, well researched and well thought out novel that is designed for the young adult market but has a broader appeal for readers like me who enjoy this type of story. Collins has added richness to the story by addressing issues such as class distinction, even class warfare, oppression, and the powers of government.

The genre is hard to categorize. Its part historical novel (sort of), part sci fi, YA adventure. That pin it down for you? Maybe SF is the best way to put it.

I thought it was good, and I'm planning on picking up the next installment when I go back to the library (if they have it.)

Get it!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

wraeththu iii

Alright, alright... it was pretty good. The last book of the Wraeththu Trilogy, The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire, was again narrated, first person, by one of the main characters and follows him--for lack of a better term from the author--on a journey of discovery about himself, Wraeththu, and his feelings.

Thanks again to Aimee Fleck for allowing me to use the artwork. The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire, at left, is the third in her series.

Once I stopped trying to understand Wraeththu in my own terms and began to understand them as a newly hermaphroditic race, struggling to understand themselves, it became easier to empathize with them.

In the end, I think I figured out what Constantine was trying to say, she just took a lot of prose to say it. The last book seemed pretty well written, as was the second. I didn't find any groaners or typos like I did in the first book, so it seems fixable. (I guess I'm talking to you Storm.) Although, the appendixes were full of stuff what needed fixin' right quick. Per esempio: small spoilers ahead

From Appendix II, page 792, comes this:

"It has been rumored that the Uigenna tribe of North Megalithica are fluent with the use of poisons effective against their own kind, but this is yet to be proved."

Then, from The History of the Twelve Tribes of Jaddayoth, page 779, we find this:

"The Uigenna... were famous for their ability to devise poisons fatal or painful to harishkind..."

Doesn't add up, right? After all, I just read in the body of the third book, The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire, this:

"... [A] wanted to shake that packet of crystals into the poor fool's mouth... Few poisons can effect a harish frame. We left [D] gasping and writhing at the edge of the water."

That's right... an' he's dead! "Yet to been proved?" Seems proved to me, like, 200 pages previous. This is the kind of crap that drives me crazy. Someone spent a whole lot of time putting this 800 page epic together, one more proof read wasn't going to kill anyone.

Immanion Press, Storm Constantine's publishing company, lists a copy of this third book for sale "
expanded and updated" with a publish date of 2007, versus the copyright date of 1988 in my copy, so maybe she's fixed it all up.

I didn't hate it...

in like a lion ii

Its that time of year again! Ahh..March.

It was so much fun last year that I've decided to re-post this one about the days of March, and what better day than the Ides? okay, well maybe the first may have made this little diddy more useful, but who's counting So without further ado, here it is (with some minor modifications and updates):

We've all heard it a thousand times: March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. So you're asking yourself: if the first day is a lion, and the last day is a lamb, what are all the other days? My thoughts exactly.

Say you poke your head out on a blustery March day, and you think: well its not as bad as a lion I guess, but that freezing mist bouncing off my eyeballs isn't exactly lamb-like, I wonder just how bad it is today? Couldn't be simpler, just check the handy chart below to find your answer.

Here's an example: Today is the Ides, the 15th, so its a snake. Could be good, might be bad, depends on how you feel and how hungry (or mean) the snake is. Not very fast though. My advice, keep a dead rat with you and if you see a snake, drop it and run!

So here it is. I put at least 20 minutes of hard work into this, so its bound to be adopted worldwide in a flash. this is the second year running. its already got some serious traction If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave me a comment, though I can't imagine how this could be improved.

March 1 - Lion: This one's a given. Look at those TEETH!
March 2 - Tiger: One could argue that this one should really be first... too bad.
March 3 - Bear: Oh my! Black, Brown, Polar, you never know.
March 4 - Shark: If it rains hard enough, they'll be in the streets.
March 5 - Wolf: Bad enough alone, if days like this run in packs, you're done for.
March 6 - Bull: One word: Pamplona.
March 7 - Moose: Brake for moose, it could save your life.
March 8 - Eagle: Beautiful and majestic from a distance, not as nice when its on you.
March 9 - Scorpion: What harm could a day like this do?
March 10 - Dingo: No, its not a stray dog.
March 11 - Hawk: See eagle, only slightly less bad.
March 12 - Lynx: The good news: its not a lion. The bad news: everything else.
March 13 - Bat: They're kind of cute... until they bite you.
March 14 - Monkey: It might wear a fez... or throw poo. HBD Coleen!
March 15 - Snake: The Ides of March. Snakes are known for wisdom, and treachery.
March 16 - Ox: Its like a bull, only slow and kind of stupid.
March 17 - Elephant: Wise, big, powerful and gray.
March 18 - Raven: Dark and brooding today.
March 19 - Stag: Power and compassion. You might see the sun!
March 20 - Crab: This one can sneak up on you. First day of spring!
March 21 - Goat: Stubborn and tough going.
March 22 - Horse: Strong and reliable.
March 23 - Pig: Smart but messy; wear your boots today.
March 24 - Dog: Friendly and good-natured; take a walk.
March 25 - Dolphin: Fun and wet; bring an umbrella.
March 26 - Rooster: Proud strutter. Crow at the sun!
March 27 - Turtle: Muddy, but adorable; boots again.
March 28 - Toad: Are they greenish-brown, or brownish-green?
March 29 - Robin: These guys are out when the worms show.
March 30 - Rabbit: How can you be scared of rabbits? HBD Kelton!
March 31 - Lamb: Mmm... arrosticini. Smells like spring!

According to one source I read "This phrase has its origins with the constellations Leo, the Lion, and Aries, the ram or lamb. It has to do with the relative positions of these constellations in the sky at the beginning and end of the month." Yeah, rams and lambs... Sounds good to me!

Its a little overcast and raw today, but come on, earlier this week on Hawk, Lynx, and Bat, it was beautiful here in New England! Tomorrow is Ox: Easy... just watch the horns!

Monday, March 5, 2012

nerax date and location change

Headed to NERAX 2012?

Well, the original dates have changed, and so has the location.


April 11 - 14, 2012

Post 388
163 Glen Street
Somerville, MA 02145

Go to the NERAX site here, to see more of the details.

I got a message from Pam Phillips who said she was doing a search for folks who had postings abut NERAX and she came across ii. Pam helps out at NERAX; so thanks to Pam for keeping us in the loop!

From the NERAX site: "Post 388 has plenty of room for the festival. As it is a short walk from Sullivan Station on the Orange Line, there are several buses that stop nearby. There is also parking." Here's a map. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

wraeththu ii

So this is the second book in the Wraeththu trilogy, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate; I have to admit, that even though its seems way too long, it does seem to be better written than the first installment.

Illustration by Aimee Fleck, "The Bewitchments of Love and Hate". Fleck's stuff is great. Thanks for sharing Aimee!

Wraeththu, part the second, is narrated in the first person like the first part, but from the POV of a different har (that's a Wraeththu guy for you nubes.) Our new har is just a young'n--or harling-- and he pretty much picks up the story where the first narrator left off. We're pretty deep into the apocalypse at this point, and there aren't many men left around, so the Wraeththu are trying to put things back together so to speak. Only problem is, they don't really have the tools to do it much more than men did, and as much as they would like to think so, they aren't much different and end up with many of the same problems we have now: war, strife, in-fighting, love, you know, all the crap that makes the world a terrible place.

Love seem the odd man out there? Well I guess its supposed to. This seems to be one of points Storm Constantine is trying to drive home: you can't just reinvent that world by trying to remove all of the things that you think may be at the root of all evil. Love as the root of all evil? That's what she says, or that's what the Wraeththu say anyway. See its love of others that causes jealousy and resentment, love of things that causes envy, and love of things sacred that makes folks into religious fanatics. So get rid of all that, and base your civilization on... like!

And then, you know, just have sex with everyone. All the time.

You know I don't like spoilers, and I'm not sure this really is one, as it shows up in the first few pages of book one. Skip to the next paragraph if you're concerned, but I think it needs to be said. What makes the Wraeththu different is that they've evolved into hermaphrodites. That's not all that makes them different, but they are a combination of both sexes, both physically and mentally. And either sex can be expressed as dominate, or as a melded sexuality in day-to-day life. They do call each other 'he' and 'him' for lack (I assume) of an asexual pronoun. The funny thing is, they've made up their own language for everything else; there's even a glossary of terms in the back. Why the har or Storm Constantine haven't come up with 'sche', 'shim', and 'sher' or whatever, seems a little shortsighted to me. Besides, saying he and him all the time, with all those sex scenes, make this one read like a counter-culture sex book. Think: Pride and Prejudice and Brokeback Mountain. you know, a mash-up, like the zombie thing

Oh... and Constantine asked a friend to help with short poems that she begins each chapter with. My response: why? Sooo... I'll keep reading, but I won't tell you what happens. If you're curious enough, you can read it yourself.