August 1st, 2008



So, did anyone else see it?

We're on the road today, but the traffic on the motorway was pretty awful, so we pulled off at a village between Ghent and Bruges. I hadn't told F what was happening in the sky, but projected an image of the truncated sun onto the skin of my hand using Anne's binoculars. At first he thought my finger must be blocking part of the solar disc, but then he looked more closely and realised what was going on - and was thrilled.

He came with us to see the total eclipse in August 1999, but since he was less than three weeks old at the time doesn't really remember it!

August Books 1) Teranesia

The first book of the summer holiday, I guess, and a rather good start: this is basically the book I wished that Darwin's Radio, by Egan's near namesake Greg Bear, was going to be. The central idea is the same: peculiar mutations are occurring which will not only upset evolutionary biology but also perhaps imperil the future of humanity. However Egan ties his viewpoint character into a disturbing but believable family background with consequent psychoses, and the politics and biology all seemed considerably more credible. It is set in a part of the world I don't know at all - the South Moluccas, in the near future; with excursions to the gay/academic scene in Toronto - but all very vivid and believable. I'm not surprised that this won prizes, if anything I'm surprised it didn't win more.

August Books 2) The Pilgrim's Regress

2) The Pilgrim's Regress, by C.S. Lewis

This book is overtly attempting to recast its great model in terms suitable for an intellectual Anglican of the 1920s or 1930s. Lewis's metaphors are even less subtle than Bunyan's (at one point he supplies footnotes so that we can be sure which philosophers he is parodying). He has more of a sense of humour than Bunyan, which is something. But I rather felt the whole book was a series of mots d'escalier after losing the argument over dinner at High Table; poor Bunyan was in prison for years, which is a rather different matter. It is fortunate that the first chapter is a rather effective skewering of smug Anglicans, otherwise it would have been difficult to take at all.