Busifer's reading room 2019, part the second
This is a continuation of the topic Busifer's reading room 2019.
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So on to this brand new thread, bravely into the breach!
Still reading Luna: Moon rising but coming up on the conclusion.
Got a package in the mailbox yesterday, nonfiction only: Avenging Angels, a BB from -pilgrim-, as I remembers it, on female Soviet snipers during wwII, The Railways, about the railways in Great Britain, and a work-related one - Lean UX.
I am as yet undecided on what to pick up after Luna, so I've decided to wait and see what mood I'm in at that point.
Not exactly book-related, but Endgame - wow. Of course we all knew that this would be the end of the original MCU Avengers, but what an end!
The film really brought it all together, most of the characters, truly impressive cast list, and some of the acting was awards-worthy. Others we didn't get more than a glance of, which was kind of, well... but the film was 3 hours long as it was, and I can't imagine it was easy to settle down on the final version. But what a version! Epic, in all possible meanings of the word.
The final scenes irked me a bit. While in some ways it was perfectly right, aspects of it was too much of a lead in to one of the MCU limited series that has been announced to sit well with me. I can live with that, though.
>2 Busifer: Well, damn. I suppose I will have to watch it, but I don't like endings. :(
So, finished Luna: Moon Rising, the concluding part of Ian McDonald's Luna trilogy.
While this was the easiest book to read of the three it still took some time, as I could not muster energy for it every day. That said it was rewarding, and I don't regret reading either this or the two previous books, even though I had my misgivings along the way.
The premise is a future were undisclosed powers of the Earth has established a mining colony on the Moon. The trilogy goes on to tell about how things work in this colony, through the tales of a couple of people. The majority of the story is told with the Corta family at the centre, youngest of the Dragon families - the Dragons are essentially industrial tycoons - despised by the older Dragon families, but fiercely cut-throat in a cut-throat society.
I'd say that this is not a series of books that will have anything to give to anyone who want character-driven stories. We get enough character, certainly, most of them highly unlikable, despicable people, really.
But the real centerpiece is - take your pick of either - a discussion of colonialism and what happens to colonies when they have gone on long enough for them to develop a mind and culture of their own, or a look at what a society that operates without a Rechststaat could be like, both for the people who would thrive (and what kind of people who would thrive!) and for the people who just try to survive, with what few means they have.
The end has it's own twist, and I enjoyed it, but this definitely isn't a trilogy for anyone. I'm glad that I read it, though.
It must be said that Moon Rising had the worst proof-reading EVER: virtually non-existent, so both loads of spell-errors and the wrong names used, at times; both places and people. Not the standard that I'm used to. At the very least there's spell-check in Word ;-)
Now I need to do some reading for work, but after that I think I'll pick up The City of Brass.
>6 Busifer: I so much liked McDonald’s River of Gods, The Dervish House and Brasyl, and I really had high hopes for Luna. It just didn’t resonate with me, not that it was bad, it just wasn’t brilliant as those earlier books were, and the first was enough for me. I trust it didn’t radically transform in the last two volumes!
>6 Busifer: Thanks for the review, I'm considering that series now. What is it with the lack of editing? I find way too many spelling, grammar or consistency errors in most books. Have the editors given up on making corrections?
>8 stellarexplorer: No, sadly it didn't, though somewhere along the way I became enough invested in it to continue. Mind, I even finished Seveneves recently, so might not be a good judge ;-)
>9 Karlstar: I don't think there are editors anymore, at many of the publishing houses?
This last Luna book felt like he had proofed it himself and missed some rather glaring errors due creator blindness, ie you're so used to reading the text yourself so that you develop a blindness to it's actual structure and content. This is extra pronounced if you proof on-screen. I'm prone to this myself - I write quite a lot of reports - and try to fix it by printing everything on paper and then slowly and painstakingly proof, pen at the ready. Ideally someone else - an editor! - should read it, too, but for me that's not an option.
That these errors made it to the finished, printed, book is not confidence-inspiring, and I've not seen it happen to this extent before.
I enjoyed the book, though, even if neither it nor the Luna trilogy as a whole is up there with River of Gods or Brasyl.
Edited, because I’m down with something that makes me dizzy, which ironically leads to interesting errors...
>10 Busifer: Like yourself I print off work documents and correct them. In two of my previous employments I earned the nickname, "Red Pen".
I think the focus on cost has reduced the editing performed. This I find most annoying.
I'm not a good speller or grammar girl, but the last two jobs I have had, I've gone through all of the forms used repeatedly and corrected glaring errors in both. I could not believe that forms which multiple people use each day could go for years with so many errors in them. :/
On Friday, I called a municipal facility which had sent our dealership a parking ticket (this sometimes happens when the Dept. of Motor Vehicles hasn't transferred ownership to the new buyer yet) to see if it was a scam operation. I told the young man who spoke with me that alarm bells had gone off in my head because a word was misspelled on the back of the form. I love the little red squiggles Google (?) gives me for typing here, because as I say, I am a dreadful speller, but I can see recognize misspelled words, and Google helps me spell them.
>13 -pilgrim-: It is sure a large part of that, but I also think many publishing houses aren't run by the kind of people who actually care about books or experiences or reading or learning anymore (if ever, in some cases), and so editors and other quality assurance roles got axed in the hunt for revenue.
Mind, I'm not saying publishers should be some kind of free service, I realise everyone has to make money, but there's a difference between making a nice profit on doing something that you care about, and having making a profit as your only objective.
Of course, I only know a bit about publishing nonfiction, in Sweden, because that's was what my dad was in - he worked as an editor, until retirement, at one of the largest publishing houses in Sweden - but from my understanding all kinds of publishing has become (even more) fiercely cutthroat.
>14 MrsLee: I'm one of those people who spot errors like that, too.
I stopped reading emails with weird subject lines a long time ago, which means that I miss rather a few corporate memos ;-)
My employer recently implemented a "report phishing" button in Outlook, and I've probably reported some valid communications as spam. I hope corporate comm's learns something from that.
>16 Busifer: I've done the same! Sometimes suspicious looking emails come from our bosses... I spot quite a few word and spelling errors, I wish someone would pay me to proofread. I'm not going to sign up for grammar checking, my grammar skills are not good enough. I typed variations on those last 7 words 4 times and I'm still not sure that was valid grammar.
>17 Karlstar: "skills are" -- that's the way I was taught (at infinite length, or so it seemed) in primary school. "Skill is" would also work, if you regard grammar as a single skill. So on that basis it would seem that the last 3 words should read "pretty good" rather than "not good enough".
>15 Busifer: There are, of course, also the digitised texts scanned in by people who obviously have no comprehension of the texts (which I tend to come across because I like obscure, old books).
And independent authors are a significant section of the market now. Even where they are literate, talented people, the fact that that they are implementing the whole process themselves means that there is no one involved in the publication with sufficient distance from the text (as you described) to catch errors.
...And then, of course, there are the ones that are convinced that their story is so wonderful that presentation "doesn't matter"!
>18 hfglen: However there was also the era in education where English grammar was not taught, nor spelling corrected, in schools, because that "interfered with creative expression". I learnt more formal English grammar from my French teacher than I did in English lessons, and my education was fairly traditional by the standards of the time.
I will not continue on this subject, for fear of infringing pub rules.
The contract I signed when I bought my current cat was full of errors, but my favorite was the one that said he was guaranteed for up to 4 years against “congeniality defects”. Every time he started acting feisty or cranky, I told him I was going to send him back due to his congeniality defects. Alas, the four years are up now, but my threats never worked anyway.
>21 YouKneeK: LOL!
>19 -pilgrim-: Aye, I cut myself short as I started to consider OCR... *shudders*
I have an example from when it actually was the author who scanned her own book and converted it to epub. The quality of the formatting and the image to text conversion was so bad it interfered with reading, so I pulled my print copy out and proofed the whole lot of it. "m" had consistently been converted to "rn", just as an example.
"...And then, of course, there are the ones that are convinced that their story is so wonderful that presentation "doesn't matter"!"
I've been convinced for years that Neal Stephenson is the leader of that lot...
>20 -pilgrim-: - Very little english grammar is taught in schools. The little I know was forced upon me by my german teacher who realised I didn't know enough english rules to understand how they were different in German. (And the english mishmash of exceptions makes it somewhat hard to grasp there are rules lurking in the background).
In Swedish schools you have to master grammar or your grades will plummet: we have special grammar tests, in all languages that we are taught/are taking lessons in. Had when I went to school in the 70's and early 80's, and have now.
The reason I was given was that it would be impossible to learn any foreign language without understanding all about adverbial adjuncts and nominal predicatives. I was lousy at it, and was convinced that I wouldn't ever be able to learn another language than the one I grew up with. This despite the fact that I started reading English language books for adults at age 13.
I have since dabbled in German and Italian of my own free will, and have considered French, and realised that it really isn't that hard.
What a difference from when I was forced by the school system to pick a third language and chose Spanish just because I had to (I flunked).
Since then I have become convinced that one must know the rules that surrounds a language, but to be able to look at a sentence and tell which is the adjectival predicative, if there is any, is just as unimportant as it is to know the exact chemical composition of air: you can breathe anyway (and if the air's bad then you're in trouble regardless) ;-)
In Swedish we have two grammatical genders - reale (common gender) and neuter. No one really perceives them as "genders". What they do is sort nouns words that in their definite form ends with an -n or a -t. Probably very hard if you have to learn them from scratch, but growing up with it that's just something that you know.
Having to go from that to understand why a window (neuter in Swedish, not that we care) is female in French, or why a knife is male in France but neuter in Germany... No grammar in the world could help with sorting out that level of cultural baggage.
>25 Busifer: Language gender really has nothing to do with sex and there are some languages where there are dozens of genders. I think it's just the Indo-European languages where gender and sex became conflated.
>26 jjwilson61: I do know, and our two Swedish grammatical genders are sex-less.
What I described was the feeling of trying to ”get” feminine and masculine nouns when learning foreign languages as a teen, after having been taught everything about grammar _except_ the existence of grammatical gender :-)
So, finished The Templars: The Rise and Fall of God's Holy Warriors by pop historian Dan Jones, read by himself (is he a pop historian? I would argue so, as he's done some TV series' and what not). I got it through a buy 1 get 1 for free campaign on Audible, more on a whim than of pure interest although I'm trying to get to get a wider knowledge on medieval history, and the various religious orders, and the crusades, is something of a blank spot for me.
I knew the generalities, of course, but has firstly been more focused on the philosophical history (history of ideas, as the field is labelled in Swedish academia), and then tried to learn about the parts the standard school curriculum didn't mention (the Moors, East Rome/Bysans), and now I have slowly made my way one step at a time through the various other aspects or histories.
I don't think this was a good choice for an audio book. I had to check up a lot of details on the net, such as political maps showing the region/s and places during the time, and as I listened on my walks to and from work things could be a bit abstract until I could consult a map, or cross-check something or other.
What was most interesting I think was how human the story of how the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon came to power and then fell from it is: a truly Shakespearean tale, with parallels and lessons in our own time. Modern deep fakers has nothing on King Philip IV of France, apparently.
Parts of it reminded me of The Lions of Al-Rassan, for obvious reasons.
I had planned for next listen to be History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts, but I right now I'm leaning more towards The Ottoman Empire (both from Great Courses).
The paper read that I do for work goes so and so. I won't mention it here other than to note that presently it's in the way for more pleasurable reading, like a huge road block.
Ah, the Great Courses from Audible are awesome. (Except every once in a while they reference a chart or diagram which can throw one off a bit!)
I'm 1/3 into The Ottoman Empire and I can't decide on what to think. The lecturer is obviously invested in the topic but maybe a bit too much so: he makes it sound as he would like for the empire to be resurrected, not that he says it but every other sultan is "maybe the greatest sultan ever", and buildings are "the most beautiful/a piece of art/an engineering feat" and so on.
He's also master of the "um". It's a great coupe of seconds if he manages to not insert one or more "um"s into a sentence.
On the other hand he's rather up font and tells the audience that his wife is Turkish, and he has spent a lot of time in the region (as an archaeologist, I think), so it's not like he's hiding anything.
The one observation that I can make after having spent a couple of years on learning about the period between about 800-1700 in the westernmost parts of Europe, from various aspects and with a lot left to dig into, is that scholars tend to specialise heavily and very few spends any energy on the bigger picture. Here's of course were the field of history of ideas come into play.
Also, only a few seems interested in historiography, many seems to take written sources from the times they study as absolute truths when they just as well could have been written to smear or flatter respectively.
It makes it hard to actually make out proper pieces of the puzzle I'm trying to lay: all are distinct colours, no way to know what pieces except the same-colour one's that will go together...
Oh well. I'll see how far I'll get into it until I start to bike to work later this upcoming week as that will mark a break in my walking routine. Maybe a few more lectures in I will change my opinion.
>29 clamairy: I discovered quite late that Audible had them and already had a queue of courses lined up that I had bought directly from them when they had various sales.
In my desperation - my for-work read is utterly boring and so takes forever - I had to pick something fun and easy to read as well. My choice fell on the graphic novel collection Valerian: The complete collection, volume 3.
I love Jean-Claude Mezieres' illustrations.
I own the separate albums as well, but they were pretty cheap prints and the glue has dried.
>31 Busifer: Is the film, "Valerian" based on the collection you are reading? I thought the film was good fun. I would describe it using the term I mentioned before, "entertainment fodder"; Watching it was a good way to pass the time and to relax. Do not press it for any messages or deep meaning, although you could take and anticorruption and pro-environment message from it, if you really tried, but why bother.
It's mainly based the story Ambassador of the Shadows, which indeed is one of the stories in volume 3.
I agree that the film was good fun. The novels tended to have more of a message, though the reader was quite free to not even notice it.
I have a great love for these stories, though they vary a bit in quality. But then I have a soft spot for Moebius as well, including the work that he did as Giraud: Mezieres has said that Moebius was one of his influences. In Heroes of the Equinox he made a friendly dig at Stan Lee, as well.
I officially give up on my notion of racing through the work related book before being allowed to read for pleasure. The work book was just too boring, and I keep evading it.
My choice will be City of Brass, plus I plan to finally getting around to buy Valerian: The complete collection, volume 4. I tried last year, but the sf bookshop didn't have it in stock at that time. While I'm there (tomorrow, I think) I might get some Spider-Man comics for son while I'm at it.
He really likes the the Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen stuff, and I think getting one or two in print, as opposed to the digital volumes he's reading on his phone, should be a nice treat now that he's wrapping up compulsory school (year 9, in Sweden, ie 15/16 yo: Wikipedia tells me it's somewhat parallel with US freshmen/UK year 10). Next up for him is gymnasiet, where you study based on your interests. He's chosen to study political sciences and history, preparatory for university, but we're still waiting to know what school he's got admitted to. In the preliminaries he got admitted to his first choice, but we're waiting for the finals (July 1st).
>34 Busifer: I find it fascinating to hear about different country's educational systems. All the best to your son in his exams.
>35 -pilgrim-: The Swedish system doesn't rely on exams, if by exam you mean a formal end of term examination that you either pass or not.
Throughout your time in compulsory school (year 0-9, starting the year you turn 6) you get graded on your course results. At the end of year 9 you will get your final grades. Some of those may be set in year 8, or mid-term year 9, depending on when the course was taught, but most will be given out at the end of year 9.
In my son's school music is not taught in year 9, so the final grade was set in year 8, but math, natural and political sciences, crafts, two foreign languages (English +1 more) etc are taught throughout and so final grades waits until late in the last semester, ie about now.
You apply to gymnasiet based on your final grades, but the preliminary admission is based on your year 9 mid-term grades. The grades are in letter form, and each letter is given a numerical value. The values are added and the sum is used to determine admittance. The higher the sum, the better the chance to get admitted BUT the way it works is a school has 20 seats in program A. The seats gets filled starting with the applicant with the highest total grades/sum. The cut-off is the grades/sum of the one who got the last seat.
The preliminaries looked real good, he got admitted to his first choice (and all the others as well), but the preliminaries are done for two reasons - a) to see what schools will get enough students and to what programs, so that the schools can plan in advance, and b) to give students a second chance at changing what schools and programs to apply to.
So our fear now is first that people with higher grades than son applied to schools whose cut-off was even higher (there are schools were you'll need practically straight A's to get in) and that those people decided to change their application to the school that he really want to go to. Our second worry is that he'll somehow get a lower final grade than his mid-term sheet. He is an expedient student, but you'll never know. Crafts and music are not his strongest area, so those lowers his over all result.
Oh well, I'm sure everything will work out. It's just the stress of it.
>36 Busifer: Thank you for taking the time to explain that.
Do pupils get any choice of subjects during the years of compulsory schooling?
And ate the years of education post age 16 optional in the sense that you could leave education and start a full-time job, or only the sense that you choose what and how you study?
>36 Busifer: That sounds stressful for everybody concerned. Best of luck for him (and you and Mr Busifer too).
>37 -pilgrim-: No choice of subjects during compulsory school: the curriculum is set and national.
Theoretically one could start work directly after finishing compulsory school, but in reality you need to finish gymnasiet as well, at the very least. There is a wide choice of programs, though: the programs that prep for university on the one hand (political science, history, law, behavioural science, economy, natural sciences...), and then what you'd call vocational education, I guess: furniture maker, hairdresser, auto/boat mechanic, IT technician, sound and film editor, electrician, prep for a career in the security, military or rescue services...
Gymnasiet is 2-3 years, depending on which program you chose.
>38 haydninvienna: Thank you. It is very stressful, not least for the kids.
So, went to the SF bookshop earlier, just as planned, but only came away with Valerian: The complete collection, volume 4, and not any of the other books that I had planned on liberating from their clutches. Son didn't come with me (and with the hailstorm we had I don't blame him) and he needs to be the one to chose, and they didn't have Newton's Wake in stock.
This far I'm very happy with City of Brass, so thank you everyone who made me pick it up. It would not had been an automatic choice for me otherwise, as in my local SF/F bookshop SF is on one floor (together with DVD's and graphic novels) and fantasy a half-floor up (on the way to the board games/manga/merch on the top floor), and I wouldn't just happen to pass it.
It's not going as fast as it should, though, due to various work-related troubles that are quite draining. Corporate mergers on a multi-national scale are not fun experiences, and this is my third. You'd think I'd be jaded, but it's rather the opposite.
>41 Busifer: Sorry to hear your reading is being hampered by work. Mergers must be quite an anxious event. I have not yet had the misfortune of being in a company that went through one while I was there.
>41 Busifer: I do not miss working in the corporate world. Being a public servant has its perks.
As for City of Brass, it's been on my Kindle for a while but I just keep kicking it down the road until the whole trilogy is out. Does anyone know when the 3rd book is supposed to come out?
>44 pgmcc: Within the foreseeable future, that I didn't know that. Thanks!
>Thanks. I think I'll wait a bit since as I get older I tend to forget details more quickly. It's easier to read trilogies all in a row.
I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying it, too. Several regulars in here recommended it, and I bought it for my kindle when it was on sale and promptly forgot about it.
Have been absent for almost a week, and decided to start with my own thread before tackling the backlog :-)
Work was an energy-drainer last week, to say the least, but I managed to finish City of Brass. I liked it very much but has not spent a lot of time on thinking on specifics. In some respects it is a classic swine-herd tale, but with a female protagonist, and it is not my favourite genre, normally. In this case I liked the Arabian Nights-like setting, together with the author's tone of voice: I find it hard to believe that this is her first published work.
I went on to start Kingdom of Copper, and found it... well, more in line with "mainstream" fantasy, so far, and while I've not given up on it yet I'm not impressed, anymore. I hope that will change as I read on.
Meanwhile I'm just back from an extremely fast and short stay in London. We had such grand plans for our British Castles Tour, but in the end costs and travel time forced us to split it up in many short tours, instead. In this case we had two full days in which we pressed in Tower of London, IWM, and a tour to Dover, to see Dover Castle. We hadn't even time for any exploring or shopping: this was a non-stop museum visit. Apart from looking at various exhibitions, and travelling to and from, we spent 15 minutes in a clothes shop, as husband wanted a special kind of trousers, and 15 minutes at Forbidden Planet, to get some Spidey comics for son. And that was that.
I would had loved to meet a few of you, like sakerfalcon, but I really didn't feel like there would be time for it. And as we almost didn't manage to catch something to eat yesterday, except for a delicious fish'n'chips in Dover, on the go, I feel that I made the right decision. One more day, and it would had worked out. Not now.
Despite the hectic schedule we had a good time. I'll share some pictures later.
I forgot to mention that I bought a book for son at IWM - War Map. It's a coffee table book, but that's expected when maps and posters are involved. Son loves it and has spent a lot of time with the book, though he doesn't 100% agree with the way the authors are telling their story: the Brits "inform" and everyone else "propagandize".
Well spent money, all the same.
Glad you enjoyed your busy trip to the UK. Hopefully you will have time for a slightly less frantic visit in future, and more time to browse at Forbidden Planet. I spend far too much of my paycheque there each month.
>54 Sakerfalcon: That's definitely the plan! This time I just ran by the sf/f a-z shelves trying to find Ken MacLeod's Newton's Wake, because my local sf/f bookshop haven't got it and I hoped Forbidden Planet would.
I'd also like a meetup of some kind, at some point.
>53 clamairy: Thank you. And City of Brass is definitely worth reading. I hope you'll enjoy it when you get there!
>52 haydninvienna: I think your record is safe, but it was a very hectic few days for me. I like to explore and discover, not run between a lot of set points. I think that IWM one day, Tower of London one day, then a day off, then Dover Castle, would had been more like it.
UK rail is hard to navigate, but I came prepared with prior knowledge. The hard thing this time was that I knew I'd go by Southeastern but didn't manage to get my tickets online, as the train I wanted to go with magically disappeared every time I tried to pay. So in the end I had to go to Charing Cross and talk to a human. Turned out there were major outages due to planned engineering works on all lines. Turned out just fine, though, as I got Anytime tickets for less than Advance fare, and on the high speed service - that one apparently runs on Eurostar infrastructure (?) and was exempted from the outage.
Having to know who runs what from where is a pain, though.
>55 Busifer: Sorry if any of this is teaching you to suck eggs, but Having to know who runs what from where is a pain, though: You can book any journey on any rail company's website, not just the one you want to travel on--they all use the National Rail booking engine, which you can also book on directly. I could for example book a ticket between Bicester North and Birmingham Moor Street on the Great Western website, although Great Western doesn't serve either station. National Rail also has details of outages for engineering works and suchlike.
>56 haydninvienna: I have the National rail app on my phone. It's just that my experience is it works just so and so. Awful customer experience, if one is, like me, in the business of making digital services easy to use... And while I found my train at the National Rail service, Southeastern didn't have it. And none of them informed about the engineering works (and definitely hadn't adjusted the timetable to reflect the changes).
Also, the prices announced online was almost 200% higher than what I got over the counter, at a Southeastern-branded ticket office.
So I'm not impressed.
The service as such ran just fine. Which it should, as no real distances were involved :-)
>57 Busifer: I have that app too, but I agree that it doesn't work spectacularly well. Most of my rail travel in the UK is on Chiltern Railways, whose app isn't wonderful either, but booking on line with them works pretty well, and my experience of face to face interaction with them is usually pretty positive. At this point I'm not sure if I should be defending the UK rail system or the opposite.
>58 haydninvienna: :D Face to face interaction was splendid, the service was great, and it should be no surprise that I'm happy for only having to pay £1 total for son's ticket. He's 15, but as as I understand it 50% of full price is standard... and ours was £25 each, which was half the price I got on the (non-existent) trains when trying to book online.
I should not have to talk to a human to get that price, though, or to be shown a schedule that only includes trains that will actually run. On that part I'm not happy.
On the whole it was a good experience, though. I mean - I got our tickets, cheaper than expected, and we got both there and back again on time.
Some pictures from our stay. First some London stuff -
I liked this facade, across the street from our hotel, though I believe it's not actually a library any more.
A favourite spot, behind our hotel. The church was destroyed in the great fire 1666 (after which it got a new Wren-designed spire) and then in WWII. Now it's a park -
Very English, imho: though on a smaller scale Manchester does this as well - the mix of old and new and somewhat bizarre architecture (not a lot of "old" in this one, but the house that someone dropped upside down is... well, weird, even given the Shard, and the Gherkin, and all that) -
Some more, this time Tower of London -
(I want to see the Victorian lifting mechanism for the bridge, but we we didn't manage to fit it in this time.)
In all honesty I didn't find the exhibits to be of any great interest. Too much standard museum, too little recreation of the various spots of interests, like the Mint, or the reception hall in the medieval castle, and so on. Shiny armour and various variations on previous crown jewels and regalia is all well and good, but a bit too much kindergarten level history for me.
I regret that I didn't photo the plaque by the cannon. If I remember correctly it was originally cast during the reign of Suleiman the Great (intricate and beautiful Arabic embossed inscription on the tube) and captured by the British sometime in the 19th century. Sorry, I overloaded on facts this weekend and has managed to forgot a lot of the finer details.
Dover Castle was a lot more interesting, and I think it's not possible to actually manage to see all of it during one stay.
The climb uphill on foot was not as bad as it could had been, though the rest of my family obviously lack in stamina ;-)
This is kind of half way up, but inside the perimeter- a view down towards the harbour. Down at the bend in the road is the entrance to the WWII hospital, in the tunnel system.
We prioritised chronology and started with the Roman remains, ie the tower to the right -
And then Henry II's tower. Lot of flint stones embedded in all structures.
Some pictures from the interior of the tower.
I loved the map. Europe is in the lower left quarter.
And a picture from the roof, looking down and south -
And at last, some pictures from a walk on the battlements -
South and east. The outer wall had a lot of anti aircraft and anti naval gun placements, during the wars. They even chopped some of the original towers down a bit, to better fit the needs of "modern" warfare and armaments. The houses visible in the top picture is part of the "new" officers' barracks.
This part of the wall - the northern - has a few gunpowder houses, for easy access to it when you needed to fire your old school cannon at some revolutionary (late 18th century, according to the plaques).
And at last, one of the parts that I'd had loved to visit: one of the masts visible here was part of the 1936 original radar array!
Very cool pictures! I’m glad you had a good time even though it was hectic.
I visited the UK on vacation about 10 years ago and was actually very impressed with the public transportation. No doubt that was largely just because I’m from the U.S. where public transportation isn’t good; it may not take much to impress me. At various times I used the tube, the rail, and bus services to get where I wanted to go, but I had my rail and bus routes planned out and tickets bought months in advance and didn't pay as much attention as I might have to whether I was getting the best price.
Mostly I was just in awe of being able to easily go anywhere I wanted without having to rent a car. Putting me in the driver’s seat of a car with the steering wheel on the right-hand side and expecting me to drive on the left-hand side of the road would not have been good for anybody. Since then I've been to Europe a few more times on business and found public transportation pretty easy to navigate everywhere I went. I do remember getting slightly confused in Hamburg, but I figured it out eventually. I have no sense of direction so I did frequently get lost whenever I walked anywhere, but I'm used to that. If you ever encounter a blonde in your city who's spinning around in circles while holding one or more maps, there's a good chance it's me.
Compared to the US public transport is everywhere, and for everyone, in most of Europe. And like you most of us don't feel up to driving on the wrong side of the street, from the wrong side of the car, so public transport is greatly appreciated by all non-UK tourists to the UK. I mean, it takes a couple of days just to remember to look the right way when crossing a street ;-)
(And some places can confuse anyone, regardless of one's directional acuity. Especially if the cityplan was laid (or evolved) before the 19th century, when most corners in Europe got straightened out.)
>65 YouKneeK: >66 Busifer: There's a theory that the best way to get to know a city is to get lost in it. I've even read a travel blogger (I think it was) who asserted that when visiting a new city the first thing he/she would do is go out and deliberately get lost. Getting lost in London is easy enough but I had a magic answer--just look for the nearest Tube station. In the inner city they are seldom far away and can be seen quite a way off.
>67 haydninvienna: Just be sure not to get lost at the wrong time, and in the wrong neighbourhood ;-)
Prepare to get lost in daylight!
I'm a big fan of leisurely wandering around, though. But. I memorize the general map as well as I can before going out, because risk increases with map-waving. Or phone-waving, as it might be, nowadays.
Sadly I had no time for that this time around.
>68 Busifer: I don't do it myself, not intentionally anyway. It is definitely a rather high-risk strategy.
>66 Busifer: Haha, yes, crossing the street in the UK felt a little strange at first. I started off in London, so the signs they have (or at least had at the time) painted on the curbs at most major crossings reminding people to look right were very helpful in getting me trained.
>67 haydninvienna: The problem with that theory is that it assumes the person will learn their way around as a result of going to places they didn’t mean to go. I, on the other hand, can easily get lost again in places I’ve been to before. :)
In general I found London to be the easier city to navigate in. I did occasionally get lost, but never for long. There were usually recognizable landmarks within sight and, like you said, the tube was everywhere. Not even I could manage to get lost on the tube, and knowing which tube station I was near also made it easy to figure out where I was. On the other hand, I spent part of my trip in Bath and I was constantly lost there. Well, that’s not exactly true. Every direction I walked in seemed to eventually lead me back to the Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths museum. I knew where I was, I just had trouble getting anywhere else. :)
I imagine it would be much easier today with smartphones -- a discreet Bluetooth headphone in one ear with a GPS app programmed to the desired destination.
>71 Sakerfalcon: I think it was a great experience, I recommend it. The walk from Dover Priory station is not too far, but the last part is steep.
>70 YouKneeK: My top place for getting lost in was the village of Oia, on Santorini. The map apps were not useful and it all looks the saaame!
In 12 years of living in or regularly visiting England, I have never been to either the Tower of London or Dover Castle.
what a marvelous trip! I'm glad you had the opportunity to visit these impressive places.
>73 haydninvienna: I've been to London numerous times but never once managed to visit the Tower of London. In general sightseeing is not on top of any list of mine. But Dover Castle was definitely worth a visit.
Other castles on our list are Arundel and Sterling, and son want to see Warwick and Windsor as well. Also Alnwick, because I want to visit the Poison Garden ;-)
We got inspired by the Dan Jones' narrated TV series Secrets of Great British Castles.
One of the best and worst places to get lost was Cuba. No signs. Because everyone lives there, and knows which way to go. Right? Arriving at huge multilevel intersection, without any idea of which off or on ramp took you in what direction. Maps were mud tracks and highways were marked in the same way. Et cetera.
Best way to get were you wanted to be was picking up a hitchhiker who was going in the same direction.
A most memorable experience.
>75 Busifer: I’ve been to the Poison Garden. Not very big but fascinating. The bigger garden of which it forms part (that of Alnwick Castle) is pretty spectacular.
And don’t forget Barters Books, which is just down the road.
It's 3 years since I've been to the UK, but I loved it. And I have to say, getting around any European city is WAY easier than any city in California (unless you have a car). My car is in the shop and it took me an hour by bus to get to work today, it normally takes me 10 minutes by car. *sigh*
Then again, we drove around the countryside in the UK and found it very taxing. Not only the driving on the other side of the road, but it's nothing but traffic circles. And the signage is close to non-existant. Talk about easy to get lost! And there's no rest, you just keep driving in circles until suddenly, around a corner, there's Stonehenge! I still have nightmares.
>77 littlegeek: LOL! You mean roundabouts, right? They are the pan-European answer to get traffic flowing ;-)
You can't get your drivers' license if you can't handle them (and more). Driving them the wrong way around has to be maddening, though.
I've not driven in the UK but riding I'd say there aren't less signage than anywhere else in Europe. The tempo can be pretty fierce, though, and as I understand it the traffic rules are very different at crossroads and traffic lights, compared to the US.
>76 haydninvienna: Size doesn't matter :-)
I'll remember the bookshop, though I guess I have no idea when I'll finally get to Alnwick. Stirling, and Scotland, is higher up on the list, as is a visit to Manchester.
And that's just the UK. There are so many places to go!
Yay for Manchester! Though if I didn't actually live here it probably wouldn't make it close to the top of my places to visit in the UK list.
>73 haydninvienna:, >75 Busifer: I never made it to Dover Castle, but I did make it to the Tower of London. I did Warwick Castle also.
I enjoyed both places very much, but we’ve probably already established that I’m ridiculously easy to please. This had been my first overseas trip since I was 2 years old, and I was just happy to see anything that I couldn't see in the US. I mean, there was even excitement over the “mind the gap” signs; I'd been watching for them after reading Neverwhere. I did a silly little trip story with pictures for friends and family and for my own memories when I got back. The last time I read it, it was a bit embarrassing!
>78 Busifer: Yes, I guess over there they are called roundabouts. In any case, we have few of them here in California (although I got used to them when I lived in New York). I can't tell you how many times we went round a few times until we figured out where to exit.
>79 Busifer: so many places to go: Absolutely. With my British passport I'm on a personal quest to visit all the EU member states before a certain act of stupidity happens--"visiting" being defined as "at least 1 overnight stay". I have 11 to go, so probably won't make it.
>82 littlegeek: Yes, roundabouts. Here in Doha there's a main road called Al Corniche along the harbourfront--quite an attractive area with parks and even exercise facilities. It used to have roundabouts on it where the cross-streets entered, but within the last 3 years all the roundabouts have been removed and replaced with ordinary traffic lights. I was told that Doha drivers (who, to be fair, come from all over south Asia, Africa and Europe) never got the hang of roundabouts. Going round a few times while you work out which exit isn't unknown elsewhere.
And not long after I arrived here, an American expat asked me what was the idea of putting traffic lights on a roundabout--he had never encountered this before. I had to tell him that roundabouts with traffic lights were not uncommon in the UK.
>83 haydninvienna: I believe that going all the way round a roundabout is actually illegal in the UK?
Your goal of visiting all remaining EU countries is admirable. I am strongly tempted to attempt the same, but I suspect the medical situation will preclude it.
>75 Busifer:, >79 Busifer: Let me know when you are planning your castle trips. I would love to try to.meet up.
>80 AHS-Wolfy: Manchester, because I both like the city, what little I have seen - more my size town than London - and because I have planned to go back and actually have the time to sit down and talk with reading_fox, and not only say a hurried hi, like last time. Plus, lots of industrial heritage sites in the general area, and that interests me.
>83 haydninvienna: Very little time left, then. That said I don't think it will suddenly get very hard to get into any other European country, as long as you have a British passport.
>82 littlegeek: Yes. Happen to everyone, now and then. We have some that are signposted extremely late, or with the sign half hidden behind vegetation... >83 haydninvienna: But traffic lights in roundabouts?! Unheard of in Sweden!
>84 -pilgrim-: It would be fun to arrange a UK meetup? We had one in London 10 years ago, it's where I first met reading_fox in person. I'm open to not having it happen in London.
I'm talking too much (as usual) but I just can't let >84 -pilgrim-: go by (and of course -pilgrim- wouldn't be attempting to wind me up).
No, it's not illegal. See the Highway Code, rules 186 and 187. There are quite a few references on the net to an urban myth about "no more than 3 times" but an equal number of assertions that it's false, and I found a reddit thread on r/police.uk which specifically denies any offence of going around too often (all other things being equal, of course).
>85 Busifer: I don't either, but I'm enjoying being a European Union citizen while I can. Junctions between a motorway and an A-road in the UK often involve a big roundabout with traffic lights.
And dates permitting, I would definitely be up for a meetup in the south-east of England. Should try to get Peter over from Dublin as well.
>82 littlegeek: we recently started seeing 'roundabouts' here in NH, although we call them rotaries. I understand the principle, but in practice we have some way to go before it's really efficient. People seem to have trouble figuring out when to move to the inner lane to allow others to exit, and I see a LOT of last-minute decisions that don't seem any safer than the intersections they replaced.
I've seen several that were installed on roads where speeding is a problem, and there are tire tracks right across the middle.
>87 Darth-Heather: Some years ago Durban developed a rash of little mounds of cement in main-road intersections. The council called them "mini-roundabouts"; at least some users refer to them as "road-zits", but most simply ignore them.
>89 hfglen: "road zits" engenders an odd mental image :) are you meant to go around them and slow down?
>89 hfglen: Hah! Road-zits! I think most here think roundabouts are a good thing, in moderation.
Roundabouts/ traffic circles seem to be making a comeback in these parts, for reasons that are not obvious to me.
I probably live in one of the only states with decent mass transit. Or maybe I should clarify and say that the Southern part of New York state has decent mass transit. I can take a train or a bus* into NYC. They take about the same amount of time (two - three hours to go about 90 miles) but the bus is a straight shot in and for most of the trains you have to switch lines. I don't know anyone who lives where I am year round who works in NYC, but there are a ton of people who commute by car to go close (but not quite) into Manhattan.
*There are two bus lines. One is municipal and the other is a private company, and that one is much nicer and still cheaper than the train.
The first time I encountered a roundabout was back when I was living in Ohio. It was a large one with 8 exits, and I had never even heard about such a thing existing until I found myself on it. The first time I went around was in confusion. The second time I went around was in amusement. I think I finally exited the third time around. :) There are a few in my general area in the Atlanta suburbs. People tend to treat the one closest to my home like a four-way stop instead of a circle which drives me nuts.
Atlanta does have a public transport system, with both trains and buses, but it's pretty limited in the suburbs. I’m not sure how well it covers the downtown area from the perspective of people who live there. Where I live now, all the bus stops and train stations are just far enough away from me to be impractical versus driving myself. When I first moved to the area, I rented a place that was really in a great location. I could walk to work, to the mall, and several other places in under 2 miles. Best of all, it was about a 5 minute walk to one of the MARTA train stations. I was taking constant business trips that year and the train went straight into the Atlanta airport. It made things so easy, and only cost something like $1.50 each way at the time. I like my current home itself a lot better than the first place, but I still miss that location very much.
Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/4 left of Kingdom of Copper, which has been very well described by pgmcc in his thread.
I find that I'm swamped with work, while also trying to follow Women's world cup football on TV, plus trying to make preparations for a 4 week stay up in the cabin, and generally living life, as well. I try to squeeze reading into the gaps, but this is a book that doesn't benefit from a paragraph being read here and there - it needs focus to be fully appreciated. So, I expect this to take some time.
I really wish it was otherwise.
I finally finished The Kingdom of Copper, and enjoyed it immensely. Now for the wait for the concluding part, due in February, if I'm not misinformed.
The story is, just as so many other have already said, equal parts action-packed ride through a magical universe (and could well be read as that alone) and underlying themes of power, power games, revenge, and belonging, in tune with current world politics in a way that I might expect from science fiction, but not so much from fantasy. But I think I will have to revise my preconceptions on that.
I did think that the love story was a bit too cringey for my taste, but it does move the story forward so it's more about the execution and, well, predictability, of it that I object to than it being there at all.
And I can't wait to read the rest!
I'll only give it a 4 of 5 stars, though, and that is because even as I do want to know what will happen next I'm not too sure about reading more from the same universe: that would entirely depend on the quality of the storytelling and the characters involved.
Soon I'll be tuning in to the TV, to watch England vs US in the FIFA Women WC semifinals. With all respect to my US friends I'm rooting for the England team. They are playing a strong game, and Phil Neville is fun to watch on the bench. Or, rather, jumping up and down and enthusiastically wave this way and that. He clearly has is hart into the game.
After, I think I'll pick Yoon Ha Lee's Hexarchate Stories, which I expect to finish before we move to our cabin, for vacation.
There's an universe I'm keen on returning to!
>98 pgmcc: I'd love to, too. Maybe we could arrange something here in the pub?
>99 Busifer: Tonight I will set up a "SPOILER RICH" discussion thread for the trilogy and everyone can join in. We can all sit at home with a beverage of our choice and spill our thoughts into the thread.
I see The City of Brass is on the shortlist for the "The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer" at WorldCon this year. It deserves to win that award and, in my opinion, should be on the shortlist for the Hugo Best Novel Award.
I'm in the middle of Hexarchate Stories, which is good enough, so far but a bit conventional when compared with the other books of his that I've read. And I don't think the addition of an Author's note after each piece is doing anything good for either flow or overall experience: they're rather self-indulgent and adds absolutely nothing.
I don't know what I expected, maybe various stories set in the Hexarchate universe, but instead it's kind of a series of snippets from the life of one of the protagonists (Shuos Jedao) of his Machineries of Empire trilogy. This far it feels very prequel-y, in the Star Wars way. But I've yet some way to go and I'm still hoping for it to shape up.
I'm woefully behind on just about everything, vacation ended up being anything but leisure. Or so it feels like.
Usually a four-week stay at the cabin includes digging it out (weeding, cleaning, that sort of thing) for a week, and then some work on the general upkeep up the house and garden. This time we were suddenly overcome by a massive heatwave (mentioned in other places in the pub), which meant very little actual digging out OR upkeep was managed for quite some time, and nothing else either, except for being outdoors under a parasol. That was when I got some reading done. Then the cold weather hit, and then when we started to poke the house a lot of things ended up in need to be fixed.
In the end it was non-stop work on a lot of small things, from morning until night. Forgot about an estate auction we had planned to go to (managed another one, though - came home with a nice wall clock), didn't manage to visit the railway museum in Luleå but unexpectedly found a nice old cast iron stove that we bought. Son got his first drivers' license.
What we managed, except work and duties/chores, was to get a guided tour of the vintage tanks, armoured trucks, etc, that are kept by the friends of the former armoured regiment society (Föreningen P5; there's a Swedish language Wikipedia entry (and a web page with a vehicle list). The regiment is now a battalion). It was excellent fun! No pictures, the garages were they are kept are too cramped. But the guide, who is an acquaintance of ours, was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
(Boden was a major garrison town during the cold war, and there's still a considerable military presence. Check the Wikipedia entry for some brief notes if you're interested.)
I'll get back with a few words on Hexarchate Stories later. I brought a stack of books but hadn't the time to open even one of them.
Now I'm off to attack the backlog of conversations here in the pub, one at a time, and then on to the stack of unread books :-)
So, some words on Yoon Ha Lee's Hexarchate Stories -
The books is announced as "short stories", and that they are. The main bulk of the stories are set in the time running up to the happenings in Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem, and Revenant Gun, and tells part of Shous Jedao's, and Kel Cheris', back stories. All of these stories are short, or shorter: more like snippets or anecdotes than anything else. Then there's the last story, which is more of a novelette that could just as well had been the epilogue to the original trilogy.
(See how easily "original trilogy" slips out of my mouth! I blame George Lucas for that...)
All of these stories were written at different times, some of them before the trilogy was accepted for publishing. Despite that, or perhaps thanks to later editing on the part of the author - who knows? - they feel consistent. They are arranged chronologically, not in order of original publishing but in order of the internal story timeline.
Machineries of Empire, and Yoon Ha Lee, has been one of my favourite new finds in recent years, and I looked forward to reading this collection. But while I enjoyed the book well enough some things retracted from the enjoyment. The biggest issue for me was that the stories didn't add any depth to either character; each story expanded on things mentioned in passing in the main trilogy, like how Cheris learned to talk to servitors, or what was it really with Jedao and geese, but in neither case did I feel like I through this was allowed a stronger connection with each character, or like it explained why they behaved they way they did.
Another thing working against the book is the the author notes. Each story or drabble is followed by a note from the author, saying something about the story you just read. This broke the rhythm between the stories, made the tale smaller than it could had been. I have no interest in anecdotes from the author's own life and how he has used this or that in his writing. He could had placed a more extensive note at the end of the book, or an introduction at the start, or both even. Just not a new note every second or tenth page.
And lastly I think the novelette set some years after the happenings in Revenant Gun should had been an epilogue to that book, while the other, pre-Ninefox Gambit stories could had been published as a "prequel", sans author notes, and perhaps with some more work put into the story collection.
And even then the book would only be worth it for fans of the Hexarchate universe. But as I'm one such fan I had a fun time revisiting the universe, despite the draw-backs.
I had way to much to do during most of my vacation to take any pictures, but here are some that I managed -
Trains and locomotives, Luleå (I have rather a lot of photos featuring railways and trains, I'm afraid.)
The road some 6 km south of us, but looking north.
I like trains, so am always happy to see photos with them in! And the landscape from the road is very evocative. The picture really draws me in.
The landscape is... well, this is just below the arctic circle, lots of trees, small mountains, rivers, lakes, and not much people. I love it, I think it is beautiful.
I just placed an order for Weapons of Math Destruction. I had not heard of this book before, for some reason, but it seemed interesting.
I also like the pictures and am always interesting in pictures of trains.
A link to a train & railway album I have on Flickr, should anyone be interested - Trains, railways & stations
Varying quality, some of them were never intended to look nice. You are warned.
>104 Busifer: I like the pictures. I notice that your Flickr album isn't limited to Swedish trains. Good job.
>110 haydninvienna: Well, not too many of the non-Swedish variant, but I've not travelled that extensively abroad for a while. Having a vacation home to care for kind of limits the time we have to spend travelling.
And thanks. I had thought that I had more train and railway-related pictures, but I hadn't uploaded a lot of them to Flickr.
>102 Busifer: Not to make you back track, but I am glad you survived both the heat and the chill. You didn't get any photos of the antique clock and cast iron stove by any chance, did you? I am always intrigued by stuff like that.
I did. The clock is not too antique - more like 1920's.
We're now on the hunt for some missing parts: there should be a "crown" covering the stove top and a locking mechanism for ash hatch. It works as it is, but it would be fun to have a more complete stove.
Yeah, that was part of the reason that we got it. I also like the jugend style, even though this is a simple country rendition of it.
The clock chimes every quarter of an hour, quite high, so we use it as decoration rather than a working timepiece...
We have been searching for one for some time and had the luck to stumble on this one on Blocket, which is kind of a Swedish version of Craigslist.
The original house is very well insulated, but there’s a later addition that gets very cold in winter... and all heating is electrical, ie very expensive. A wood stove felt like a good solution, and we wanted something old.
I’m sure it will get too hot when we fire it up, the room is very small ;-)
I decided to give Forty Signs of Rain a try.
Going back to work was even more of a struggle that it usually is, maybe because I in retrospect didn't relax a much during my vacation. I had some days of staying low during the heatwave, but all other time was filled with work and duties. And now I feel like I could use an extended stay at some retreat or other.
Either way I picked up Velocity Weapon at the bookshop yesterday, as I took a massive hit from sakerfalcon on that one. Tempted to ditch the KSR in favour of this new book...
Yesterday I exchanged some reading time for watching a recent documentary on UKL. It wasn't bad, and I was reasonably impressed at the authors that they had managed to enlist to talk about her: Gaiman, Mieville, Chabon, and Atwood and Delaney. Which I'm not amazed at: it's rather that they agreed to talk on film, and that I got to watch it on public service TV.
But I did think it was a bit on the thin side. A lot of talk about Earthsea, and UKL reflecting on how the critique of it made her rethink her writing, and some on The Dispossessed, and some on Always Coming Home, and some on Left Hand of Darkness, but nothing more, and all in only 50 minutes, which was rather short. I had wished for it to be longer, and less "American".
(There's a certain style to American documentaries, at least the ones that makes their way across the pond. They are built on anecdotal reminiscences - narrated to sound like a hero tale - over head-shots of the speaker/s, some archive footage, and re-enactment. Lots of re-enactment. In this case animated excerpts from the books. The style is light, puts no demand on the audience, and is at best forgettable entertainment and at its worst so summarily told as to verge on falsification of history.)
"Worlds of Ursula K LeGuin"". When I checked the IMDB for it just now it says the original length is 1 hour 8 minutes. But the version I watched was 51 minutes. I wonder about the 17 minutes that Swedish television (it was aired on public service TV) decided to cut... I'm tempted to ask them. Given how I felt about it maybe those 17 minutes would had added some of the depth that I felt was missing.
>118 Busifer: I think I know the style of documentary that you mean. They seem designed on the premise that "fact and ideas and analysis are intrinsically boring", and so biography can only be told as if it was a fictional story. If there is no overlying narrative arc to a person's life (there certainly isn't to mine!), they do their best to force the facts to fit one, regardless.
>121 -pilgrim-: Exactly. The style is used for historical events as well (the battle of Verdun or such), and then the re-enactment/"people interest" takes the form of actors of acting a scene. Because who would be interested in facts, or discourse on different theories... (that would be me, by the way).
Got Weapons of math destruction, sub-titled How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, in the mail today. Sorely tempted to put all other reading materials on hold until I've read that. But. I'm going to stay with Forty Signs of Rain, so I better hurry up with that one, so I can get to the others that waits to be read...
I forgot, I read Martha Wells' Murderbot short story/prequel The Future of Work: Compulsory. It was good, but more of a snippet than a story. Set during the time just after it hacked it's governor system.
The story was published in Wired magazine, in December 2018.
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