April 24th, 2011

politics

Delicious LiveJournal Links for 4-24-2011

  • ...those bizarre arguments tend to be made by professional politicians who really don’t like the increased choice that AV gives to voters. Every argument they make against AV seems to have at its heart the point that “You the voter should not be allowed think or do that”. Voters, on the other hand, voting under an AV system, think “I really like her, he’s okay, and I can’t stand that other guy with the beard”.  The professional politicians on the No side just hate that voters should be given permission by AV to even think like that.
    (tags: avreferendum)
earthsea

April Books 26) The Time Dissolver, by Jerry Sohl

I bought this I think on a recommendation from Ken MacLeod, and I am very glad he suggested it to me. It's a low-key, subtle, short novel about a man and woman who wake up in a motel together one day in 1957 with no memory of each other, or of anything that has happened since 1946; and they have to explain 1950s America to themselves, and themselves to each other, before discovering what has actually happened to them. The alert reader will work out what the answer probably is by about halfway through the book, but the atmospherics are fantastic. I see that Sohl was more successful as a TV scriptwriter for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone and even Star Trek, so will look out for his stuff in future.
tardis

April Books 27) The Face Eater, by Simon Messingham

I've consistently enjoyed Simon Messingham's other Doctor Who books, and this one was no exception: essentially a rewriting of Colony in Space to make it much much better, with the Master out of it entirely and a single bloc of colonists and management faced with indigenous aliens who have acquired strange powers. Messingham succeeds in drawing convincing characters inhabiting his newly constructed colonial settlement, with the Doctor and Sam appearing among them just as the situation starts to get bad. Rather a good sf novel on its own merits.
gibbon

Gibbon Chapter L: Mahomet

This is one of the classic chapters of Decline and Fall, and also one of the classic accounts of the life of Mahomet (sic) and the early years of Islam. It is very readable - for once, Gibbon is not assuming much prior knowledge from the reader, and so he shows off his own reading in the best possible way. Although it's obviously a geographical jump away from the main narrative, I think I would heartily recommend it to anyone wondering if Gibbon is for them - as long as they are prepared to go through 81 pages, including 187 footnotes.
earthsea

April Books 28) A Song for Arbonne, by Guy Gavriel Kay

A Song for Arbonne is set in a vaguely parallel world, a story of conflict between the free loving Provençal-ish people of Arbonne and the nassty Norman-type bigots of Gorhaut, with pseudo-Celts, pseudo-Italians, pseudo-Spaniards and pseudo-Germans as well. The exiled northern aristocrat who appreciates southern music is the central character, and you know from quite early on how it's likely to end (and it duly does end that way), yet I found it totally gripping (with only one significant flaw - the central character's father is an eeevil high priest who is really a bit too eeevil). Excellent stuff.

I've been trying to work out why epic fantasy doesn't usually work for me, with the exception of a few writers, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, and Guy Gavriel Kay. (For example, I recently bounced off Wolfe's The Wizard Knight and Steven Brust's Taltos books.) Haven't yet come to any conclusions, though.