December 5th, 2004


More on election observers

Note from A Fistful of Euros that the rerun Ukrainian presidential election will be on the same day as the parliamentary election in Uzbekistan, and worries that there will therefore be a shortage of observers. There will only be 20 obervers in Uzbekistan, but I suppose that is twenty fewer people available in the pool of potential election observers at a difficult time of year. You know what I think.

December Books 1) Cyteen

1) Cyteen by CJ Cherryh

Jeepers, it's incredible that this won the Hugo award in 1989. The competition was not so impressive, of course: Red Prophet, by Orson Scott Card, has its merits but isn't science fiction; Falling Free is not Lois McMaster Bujold's best (though oddly enough it did win the Nebula that year; I haven't read Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling, and while I have read the other nominee, Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson, I can't remember a single thing about the plot, which indeed is my complaint about most William Gibson novels starting with Neuromancer (I've read that book at least five times and still have no idea what happens).

Anyway, after cudgelling myself through the first 250 pages, it actually started to pick up, taken as a Bildungsroman of young Ari Emory, clone and heir of a fiendish political manipulator. This carried my interest quite well for another 400 pages and then at the end it all fell apart again; I have no idea what happened at the climax. Cherryh's style is very dense; she doesn't believe in telling you much about the background or setting. I have one more book of hers on the "to read" shelf but I think it may linger there for a while.

The one interesting thing I picked up is that Lois McMaster Bujold's take on the social norms regarding clones and genetically engineered people seems to be at least in part a reaction to Cherryh's much more brutal (and I think unrealistic) take on this issue. Some of Bujold's best stuff is written directly around the question - think Mirror Dance and Brothers in Arms, obviously, but also the Taura stories, Falling Free and Ethan of Athos - and much of the rest of her work has it in the background. I find myself much more satisfied with Bujold's treatment of it than Cherryh's.

December Books 2) A Contract With God

2) A Contract With God, And Other Tenement Stories, by Will Eisner.

More comics education. This is very good. The title story in particular (I have actually been to the synagogue in Tbilisi/Tiflis, where the main character starts his life), and the last story, "Cookalein" which juggles about a dozen characters and storylines and stays on top of them all in only 50-odd pages are very memorable; I was a bit less satisfied with the middle two, which both feature nasty male characters who exploit those around them and then get their come-uppance. Will copntinue working my way through that list, it's got me two good reads out of two so far.

Tomorrow's Presidential inauguration story:

After a disputed election result, it can be difficult to get the formalities right:
According to [new president's campaign organiser], "in accordance with the law, the inauguration ceremony will be attended by parliamentarians, officials of the Supreme Court, CEC and the government."

He said that no official invitations to participate in the ceremony had been sent. [!!!]

"We did not invite anybody. Everyone knows about it and if they decide to come, they will come," [new president] said.

The security during the ceremony will be ensured by the units of the [local] Interior Ministry. Operatives have already received the plan of events, [campaign organiser] announced.

Right after the ceremony, the new president will immediately assume his responsibilities. According to [campaign organiser], it is possible that the presidential office will be occupied.

"If representatives of the incumbent president refuse to vacate the office, we will not storm it. There are plenty of offices around," the [campaign organiser] emphasized.
Full details here.

Monday morning update: Let's call the whole thing off.