Friday, September 11, 2015

What makes a book unreadable?

Polaris book cover.jpg 

This is a hard sci fi book about a lost space yacht. Stephen King calls the author "The logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke" and the book was nominated for a Nebula award. For a sci fi lover like me what's not to like?

And indeed this book did transport me back to the old days of sci fi that I grew up with. Unfortunately, as well as being full of excitement, adventure, and hard science, those were the days when sexism was the norm and women were mostly for decoration or a prize.

Here are a couple of excerpts so you can judge for yourself.
Ten minutes later, the Sentinel's captain appeared, Eddie Korby, young, quiet, studious. Look at him and you thought he was timid. The last person in the world you'd think would be piloting a starship. But he always had an attractive woman on his arm. Sometimes two or three.
And a bit later on, of a character working in ground control:
He'd been trying to coax Talia into his bed for the better part of a year. That night he broke through. Afterward, he concluded that the business with the Polaris [the missing space craft] had, in some way, been responsible. It's an ill wind ... he thought.
I imagine there are other examples because I've only reached page 16. I will never know, because I really can't bring myself to read any further. It was the "he broke through" comment that finished it for me.

I'm so glad there are plenty of other books  around now where sexism just isn't an issue. It reminds me how far most of us have come.

I wonder what makes a book unreadable for you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rafting for beginners

We signed up for white water rafting because of a persuasive young lady at the campsite welcoming drink. I was a bit nervous despite her frequent assurances that "c'est pas difficile" then I googled a bit and felt even more nervous when I read "it's a good workout for the upper body". Eek! What had we got ourselves into? My upper body probably needs a workout but I don't think I'm up for it! I was ready to call it off but we decided as we'd paid we'd at least go along and see.

When we got there it wasn't exactly reassuring. The facilities were basic with nowhere to buy food just a picnic area and a place to get soft drinks and ices. Other people seemed to know what to do and when but we never did get the briefing promised by the woman at reception so we had to keep asking for directions and help.

The wet suit was wet. The life jacket was too big and so was the helmet. At least the wetboots fit OK, although they were wet and clammy too.

Then there was the bus to take us the 5km up the river. It was old and tatty with stuffing coming out of the seat backs, it had no seat belts, and it went too fast. I just went into child mode: someone else is in charge and I hope to god they know what they're doing.

When we got to the start point and got told who our guide was, I explained to him that Neil doesn't speak much French and I'm mostly deaf without my hearing aids which I'd removed because I daren't get them wet. "Ca commence bien (that's a good start)" he said but at least he was smiling.

It all changed once we got into the raft. The guide laid out the rules about hanging onto your paddle for dear life, and trying not to fall in. One of the rules is that if the guide yells "Pizza!" you all have to fling yourselves into the middle of the raft with your paddle straight up in the air! It's a good position for when you bump into a rock, and guaranteed to break the ice at parties. 
Paddling was much easier than I'd expected, except for trying not to hit the paddle of the person in front. The river carries you down whether you paddle or not and the small rapids are exciting but not terrifying. No one in our group fell in, although we got splashed by another group which I admit I hated. Given that we were already wet and going to get wetter I'm not sure what my problem was.
We saw insects and birds and stopped to pick wildflowers. There were two places where the river opened out and the guide invited us to get in and swim if we wanted to. I chickened out the first time and no one from our boat got in but by the time we got to the second place I was so full of adrenaline that I was the first one into the water. Oh my word it was cold! So very cold! But it was the most fun I've had in ages.

I'd come a long way since my initial fears and it felt really good. We're going again next week.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Gratuitious Cat Photos

Rufus was a happy cat, kneading away at the double, triple, quadruple thickness blanket that stops his sharp edges from making his cat-slave shriek.

Then his cat-slave said "Bedtime" and had the cheek to push him off her! This was a shame and a disgrace.

Luckily he has a short memory and by the next day all was forgiven. Or was that dead bird he brought in a subtle way of getting his revenge?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Schrödinger's Dishwasher

I am a sad wraith of my former self. My shoulders droop, my legs tremble, and my hands are red and raw.

For the last three weeks I have had to wash up.

I know, first world problems and all that. Thank the gods it's not the washing machine.

Well actually the washing machine did break down and it wasn't covered by guarantee, so we had to buy a new one. Ordered on Saturday, delivered on Monday. By Monday evening I had racks of clean clothes drying. But I digress.

The dishwasher was covered by warranty. Domestic & General, I am not happy with you. It's now three weeks since you wrote off our dishwasher and promised us a new one. It's on its way! Look out world, we'll soon be piling up cups and plates again with sheer abandon knowing we can just shove them in the dishwasher and they'll come out sparkling clean!

That was the theory. In practice, there are two groups of people involved: the suppliers and fitters who work for D&G. The suppliers tell us that the new machine is with the fitters. The fitters tell us it hasn't arrived yet from the suppliers. It's in limbo. Does it even exist? Perhaps we shouldn't collapse the waveform and find out in case we get the wrong answer.

Meanwhile I stand forlornly at the kitchen sink, scrubbing away at piles of plates. A Cinderella in my own home. Don't you feel sorry for me?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Exciting Eclipse

There was a partial eclipse here today and I was all ready to look at it with my pinhole camera, aka two pieces of paper one of them with a hole in it. I didn't get the chance to use it because of the cloud cover but there was other excitement instead!

It was just getting really dark outside when there was a terrible loud noise like a hundred rain sticks all being used at once. I rushed to investigate what it was and in the kitchen I found heaps of rice all over the draining board and the side, with a few grains still trickling down.

Rufus had tried to climb up to his high place on top of one of the cupboards but someone had stored a large bag of rice there. (This was a deliberate ploy to stop him from hiding on top of a cupboard that is far too near the kettle for our liking.) Efficient use of his claws led to a rain of rice, or more like a monsoon of rice, all over the kitchen side and draining board and floor. Thank you, Rufus.

With a cat in the house, life is never boring.

Friday, March 13, 2015

We shall not see his like again...

Sir Terry Pratchett 1948 - 2015

I've read all his books, many of them several times. I was at a local library where he spoke about his life and work, maybe twenty years ago now. He signed a book for me. He was very engaging.

When my father died at age 62, Pratchett's books were one of the things that helped me to get through. I knew his take on Death was pure wish fulfilment but I needed some of that at the time, together with his willingness to even talk about death when too many people found the subject uncomfortable and shied away from it. You can't avoid thinking about it when someone you love dies.

It seems strange that he didn't even know I existed and yet I have a real sense of personal loss at his death. The world is a poorer place for his passing.


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Crochet Party

March is International Crochet Month and Ravelry is celebrating with a party. There's a Scavenger Hunt and a Mystery Crochet A Long and lots of other fun and games. Maybe I'll see you over there.

One challenge is to "write your name in crochet" and I got as far as "fairy" and gave up. In my defence, I'm still getting over the flu. It's the first year I've had flu in a long time and after nearly three weeks of being ill in bed I can't say I recommend it.

I feel like I want to wish you all "Live long and prosper!" but that seems almost too poignant right now.

Monday, February 09, 2015

I'm Not A Robot

Sometimes Blogger gets the message. Sometimes it doesn't recognise me and I have to type in words to prove my humanity. Who knew that one day we'd all be proving we're not AIs by copy typing nonsense letters that appear on a screen? I always thought a Turing test would be more interesting than that.

Every time it happens on this blog I want to scream.
  1. Blogger is supposed to recognise me so as to not count my page hits, and
  2. It shouldn't be asking anyone to verify they're not a robot, because I've turned word verification off.
Has anyone got any ideas as to how to get rid of it?

Friday, February 06, 2015

Could you read this book?

It's not as easy as it seems. The book will only open if you approach it with a neutral face. It won't open if you're looking sceptical - or even if you're excited! That's me done for then.

I'm not entirely sure that I can see a use for it except as an idea for a science fiction story. Now that would be something I'd really like to read!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

You can't say that!

I've joined a book club. It's only small at the moment: three or four of us meeting in a pub. It's local though and it's nice to meet other people to talk about books.

This month we read How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran and it was a challenging read. Not that the book is hard or literary, or even very long. The trouble is, it's all about sex and as I read I kept thinking "We can't talk about this at book club!"

If you go to amazon, you can read the beginning for free. It starts like this:
I am lying in bed next to my brother Lupin.
He is six years old. He is asleep.
I am fourteen. I am not asleep. I am masturbating.
The whole time I was reading I kept thinking, "how can we talk about this?" And yet it was actually quite easy in the end.

I started by saying how I'd felt about reading it and we all had a good laugh. And then we talked about how honest Caitlin is in her depiction of what it's like to be a young girl, and how refreshing to read about a young girl who is so keen on sex, and about how she invents and reinvents herself, and what we liked and what we didn't. 

It brought back lots of memories of my own childhood as I found myself looking for similarities and differences. One thing it brought home to me is that I wouldn't want to write a book like that. Not because of what other people might think but because I don't want to look back on my growing years with that crystal clarity and tell it as it really was, even if I was the only person in the world to ever read it.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...