August 20th, 2010


Delicious LiveJournal Links for 8-20-2010

family, child

August Books 17) With the Light... / 光とともに..., vol 2, by Keiko Tobe

I read and much enjoyed the first volume of this manga series last year. It concerns the education of Hikaru Azuma, a young Japanese autistic boy, as told largely from the viewpoint of his mother Sachiko. At this stage the series is settling down into being a regular feature in the Japanese magazine For Mrs, targeted at young mothers, so we get a certain amount of recapitulation and also re-education of the reader through new characters - first the parent of a new child in Hikaru's class, who has had a much more difficult time of it and is much more traumatised by her dealings with authority, and then a difficult transition at school with a new special education teacher who isn't really up to it and a new headmaster who doesn't really care. Tobe's art as ever captures the expressions of autistic children brilliantly, and is pretty good on other points too; and I was also fascinated by the various insights into Japanese elementary school culture which were included as local context but were often more educational for me than the main thrust of the story.

Keiko Tobe died earlier this year without finishing the series, but I will certainly get through the remaining four volumes.

August Books 18) Legacy of the Daleks, by John Peel

Susan's departure from the Tardis at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth was the first departure of a comopanion, and in some ways the least satisfactorily resolved of all; what sort of life does she face, presumably one of the Doctor's own race, but living with humans for the rest of her life? (When she pops up again in The Five Doctors we are told nothing of what she has been up to in the meantime.) The 1994 radio play Whatever Happened to Susan Foreman? had her wandering back to the twentieth century and becoming European Commissioner for Education, but it is not a serious attempt to contribute to canon. Big Finish tried a bit harder with Marc Platt's An Earthly Child at the end of last year, which brought Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor back to Earth decades after Susan's departure, and guest-starred McGann's son Jake playing Susan's son Alex, but I wasn't completely convinced.

By contrast, I loved John Peel's Legacy of the Daleks. Peel is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me - I rate his novelisations of the black and white era Dalek stories very highly, and appreciate his attempts to wrest continuity and character from material which is not always promising. Here, he has Susan trying to manage her relationship with the aging David, putting on make-up to appear nearer his age when they are together in public, in a post-Dalek England which has become a patchwork of feudal fiefdoms. Throw into the mix not only the visiting Eighth Doctor, but also the Delgado!Master attempting to Take Over The Universe by reviving the Daleks and stealing their tech, and the book ends up pushing many of my fanboy buttons, ending with hope for Susan and a prologue to one of my favourite TV stories. Best Eighth Doctor Adventure I've read for a while.

August Books 19) Diaspora, by Greg Egan

A book about a posthuman society - most people exist as virtual entities in the datanet of vast supercomputers - dealing with astrophysical disaster striking the earth and then trying to explore parallel universes. Lots of mathematical theory, but rather short on interesting characters or plot resolution; perhaps a bit like Stapledon without his trademark breathlessness. Glad to have finally ticked this off my list.

August Books 20) Dubliners, by James Joyce

Q: What is the difference between a joist and a girder?

A: Joyce wrote Ulysses and Goethe wrote Faust.

Joyce would probably have appreciated this apocryphal exchange between an Irish arts student and the manager of the building site where he was applying for a job. Not that there's a lot of laughs in Dubliners; it's an unsentimental, realistic, very recognisable set of sketches of life a hundred years ago in the capital city, which itself is a character lurking in the backgroound of the stories. It's noticeable how many of the characters are mildly dissolute young men, though Joyce does his best with others as well, and although, for instance, "The Dead" is told largely from Gabriel's point of view, the story is about the women - his aunts, the radical Miss Ivors, and his own wife Gretta who he knows less well than he thought. They are all pretty vivid sketches; "Ivy Day in the Committee Room" particularly caught my eye because of my own past activities, though in fact it's much more about the social relationships of the committee room team than about electoral politics as such. I read both Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses many years ago, and am rather ashamed that it took me until now to consume the 161 pages of measured prose in this collection; at least I have finally done so.