2019 book reading by PGMCC - Volume IV

This is a continuation of the topic 2019 book reading by PGMCC - Volume III.

This topic was continued by 2019 book reading by PGMCC - Volume V.

The Green Dragon

Join LibraryThing to post.

2019 book reading by PGMCC - Volume IV

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

1pgmcc
Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 6:10pm

Read in 2019

Title; Author; Status; Start/end date; Number of pages

The Fox by Frederick Forsyth 01/01/2019 - 05/01/2019 301 pages
Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke 11/12/2018 - 12/01/2019 230 pages
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami 13/01/2019 - 25/01/2019 681 pages
Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen 26/01/2019 - 08/02/2019 389 pages
The Gifts of Reading by Robert MacFarlane 29/01/2019 - 29/01/2019 47 pages
Birthday Girl by Harukim Murakami 30/01/2019 -30/01/2019. 41 pages
The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty 09/02/2019 - 22/02/2019 530 pages
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens 22/02/2019 - 05/04/2019 750 pages
47 Seconds by Jane Ryan 05/04/2019 - 12/04/2019 ? Pages
Party trap. 15/04/2019-17/04/2019 112 pages
Pulp Literature Issue No. 22 17/04/2019-
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers 27/04/2019-
08/05/2019. 291 pages
Black Snow by Paul Lynch 08/05/2019-15/05/2019 272 pages
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty 16/05/2019-29/05/2019 361 pages
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor 29/05/2019 - 04/06/2019 370 pages
The Price You Pay by Aidan Truhen 04/06/2019 - 08/06/2019 240 pages
Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty 08/06/2019 - 24/06/2019 621 pages
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry 25/06/2019 - 27/06/2019 224 pages
The Princess Bride by William Goldman 27/06/2019 - 09/07/2019 399 pages
The Unfortunate Fursey by Melvyn Wall 09/07/2019 - 17/07/2019 241 pages
The Hunting Party. DNF
The Wych Elm Tana French 18/06/2019 - 03/08/2019 513 pages
The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson 04/08/2019 - 07/08/2019 213 pages
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien 07/08/2019 - 27/08/2019 172 pages
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng 27/08/2019 - 11/09/2019 409 pages
Foreshadow: Trapped in Her Own Mind by Leena Althekair 27/08/2019 -
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks 11/09/2019 - 28/09/2019 309 pages
Grace O’Malley by Anne Chambers 29/09/2019 - 03/10/2019 143 pages
The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler 03/10/2019 - 12/10/2019 226 pages
No. 252 Rue M. le Prince by Ralph Adams Cram 05/10/2019 - 5/10/2019 10 pages Short story
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall 12/10/2019 -
Journey Into Fear by Eric Ambler 26/10/2019 -

2pgmcc
Edited: Aug 28, 2019, 10:19am

...

3ScoLgo
Jul 16, 2019, 3:57pm

Pulling up an e-seat - and a couple of e-books to while away the time until this new thread gets going... ;)

Oops... did I say that out loud?

4pgmcc
Jul 16, 2019, 4:09pm

Welcome to Volume IV of my 2019 reading thread which contains much more than reading.

As a little deviation for my new volume I am going to list the 20 books listed in the Sunday Business Post Magazine as perfect reads for relaxing with during long summer days as determined by Nadine O'Regan and Andrew Lynch, two people whom I know nothing about.

The Patient Assassin: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge and the Raj by Anita Anand
Novelisation about a man who was a survivor of a massacre conducted under the Raj and how, 21 years later, he tracked down and assassinated the lieutenant governor of the Punjab who had ordered the slaughter.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
A story about the place of Muslims in a new world of distrust.

The Wych Elm by Tana French *
Suspense.

The Snakes by Sadie Jones
A couple living in London go take a year out to let one of the partners try to find themselves. (You can really tell this is my type of book, can't you?)

Elsewhere: One Woman, One Rucksack, One Lifetime of Travel by Rosita Boland
A travel book that apparently explores profound life questions...and how you should deal with societal expectations. (I am sure it does.)

A Shared Home Place by Seamus Mallon
Memoir of a the former leader of The Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) that is the moderate nationalist political party in Northern Ireland. Seamus Mallon was the deputy leader of the party under John Hume who was the primary mover in bringing the peace process to fruition.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley *
A "whodunit". In the prologue we learn that one of the hunting party members has been found dead. The story jumps back three days and begins.

Siege: Trump Under Fire by Michael Wolff
I probably do not have to add any description.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Young-girl-arrives-in-the-big-city story. That's what the review described it as.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
A book that gives their dignity back to the people so brutally murdered by Jack the Ripper.

Notes to Self by Emilie Pine *
Personal essays about difficult life situations. This book won the An Post Irish Book of the Year Award. It is supposed to be very moving and brave.

White by Bret Easton Ellis
Memoir. The reviewer highlighted many flaws with this book but concluded with, "Read it for the good bits." Having read the rest of the review I get the impression that there are no good bits or if there are they are precious few and difficult to find.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
Winner of the International Dublin Literary Award this year, the richest prize in the world for a work in English. The books for this award are nominated by librarians across the world which is a filter to keep poor books off the list.

Rockonomics by Alan B Krueger
A book about how the economics of the Rock industry works and doesn't work.

Maid: Hard Work, low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
Focuses on the author's time spent cleaning the houses of Washington's upper middle-class for less than $10 an hour.

You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian
Short stories.

The Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal and Redemption by Ben Mezrich
Story about the guys who claimed Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook and who then went on to creat Bitcoin and become multimillionaires.

Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
Biography.

Enda the Road: Nine Days That Toppled A Taoiseach by Gavan Reilly
Internal politics within the Fine Gael party in Ireland and how it brought about the leader's demise.

Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy
A book that purports to explain how cost-cutting was the real cause of the Chernobyl disaster.

*I have in my library.

I am not saying I will read all of these but I shall read some of them to get a feel for what people are telling me I should be reading.

5clamairy
Jul 16, 2019, 4:17pm

>3 ScoLgo: *audible cackling*

>4 pgmcc: I've only read one (the French) but I have heard of several, including an in depth radio interview with the author of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive. I was intrigued, but not enough to pick it up.

6pgmcc
Jul 16, 2019, 4:44pm

BISHOP FLANAGAN! LOOK AT >3 ScoLgo:.

And while you're at it listen to that evil cackling from >5 clamairy:.

7MrsLee
Jul 16, 2019, 5:58pm

>4 pgmcc: Let me just say that some people's definition of a relaxing read is different than mine. Or is it from mine. Than sounds better to my ears.

8haydninvienna
Jul 16, 2019, 10:36pm

>4 pgmcc: >7 MrsLee: some people’s idea of relaxing is very unlike mine, even? Zero BBs from this list for me.

9ScoLgo
Jul 16, 2019, 11:10pm

>4 pgmcc: Peter, I noticed your caveat, "...two people whom I know nothing about."

I have not read any of the listed books but I have read two of the authors before. I intend to read more Tana French. Perhaps even The Wych Elm. I do not intend to read any more Brad Easton Ellis. American Psycho was more than plenty for me.

10pgmcc
Edited: Jul 17, 2019, 6:25pm

I have started The Hunting Party. About five pages in. Nice premise. Terribly written. To find this a relaxing read one would have to not be bothered by grammatical S. H. 1. T.

I will struggle on for a fee pages but I am not thinking this will be the enjoyable whodunnit I thought it might be. I suspect I will be wading through the proverbial.

Now I know something about the reviewers who wrote the article; they have no judgement worth a fig.

11haydninvienna
Jul 17, 2019, 2:43pm

>10 pgmcc: Hey, I like figs! Perhaps “ ... no judgement worth 2 knobs of goat poop”.

12pgmcc
Jul 17, 2019, 3:02pm

>11 haydninvienna: What have you got against goat poop?

13clamairy
Jul 17, 2019, 3:53pm

>10 pgmcc: You might want to check your touchstone. Sorry it's not a decent read.

14pgmcc
Jul 17, 2019, 6:18pm

>13 clamairy:
Thank you! I am working on my phone and it is not always easy to check touchstones. I will correct it later.

15clamairy
Jul 17, 2019, 6:55pm

>14 pgmcc: Touchstones have been very wonky for me on both my phone and my tablet lately.

16hfglen
Jul 18, 2019, 6:34am

>11 haydninvienna: >12 pgmcc: Are you gentlemen by any chance defaming the ancient and honourable South African (boere)sport of bokdrolspoeg (goat-poop-spitting), in which the winner is the one who gets the aforementioned projectile to travel furthest?

17pgmcc
Jul 18, 2019, 8:52am

>16 hfglen: Note, I was the one who defended the reputation of goat poop.

18pgmcc
Edited: Jul 18, 2019, 7:35pm

I cannot bring myself to continue with The Hunting Party. I shall try Tana French's The Wych Elm that has garnered some support in the Green Dragon and that is good enough for me.



In other news:

I have taken a couple of days off to just get a break from work and try to establish some calm. Today my wife and I took a trip to Athlone. Our excuse was threefold.

1. I have an old family bible (dated 1878) handed down from my mother's branch of the family. It is in a pretty bad condition and we have been thinking about getting it restored for some time. There is a "Liturgical Book Restorer" in Athlone. We brought the bible there and the old gentleman was a treat to meet. He will work on the book and it should be ready in three weeks.

2. There is a small bistro a few doors from the Liturgical Book Restorer in which we have had the most beautiful chowder we have ever had. We discovered it several years ago and have gone to Athlone (about a one-and-a-half hour drive) just to have the chowder before. The last time we were there we were a bit disappointed. It was not as creamy as we had expected. Today we gave them another chance. Unfortunately they continued to skimp on the cream. We shall not be going to Athlone again with the sole purpose of having the chowder. :-(

3. There is a secondhand bookshop next door to the bistro. :-) Need I say more.
I always find something of interest when I visit this shop. Today I took three books into my protective custody.
- Selections from the Writings of John Ruskin: 1843 - 1860. Published in 1893.
- The Scorching Wind by Walter Macken
- The Paintings of George Russell (AE)

It was a lovely day.

ETA:
I am happy to report that The Wych Elm is capturing me right from the start.

19clamairy
Jul 18, 2019, 9:24pm

1. Great news on the bible.
2. Too bad about that chowder.
3. Nice mini-haul!

PS Is that the first thing of hers that you'll have read? It was my first.

20haydninvienna
Jul 18, 2019, 11:38pm

>16 hfglen: to each their own on matters of sport, I say. Were I ever to be so bold as to defame an ancient South African sport such as that one, I would do so from further away than I am now. A couple of light years sounds about right.

21haydninvienna
Jul 18, 2019, 11:39pm

>18 pgmcc: And Peter, I would not have picked you as a reader of Ruskin. Nice find though.

22pgmcc
Jul 19, 2019, 4:29am

>19 clamairy:. Yes, Clare. It is my first Tana French.

23pgmcc
Jul 19, 2019, 4:41am

>21 haydninvienna:. I first came across Ruskin in a novel by Nick Harkaway, Angelmaker, and wanted to know more about him and his thinking. When I found a copy of his lecture, Traffic, I snatched it up and was struck by how his views on the paucity of modern architecture in his day match my views on the subject today.

I have been scribbling notes and taking the occasional photograph with a view to jotting down a paper on the anonymisation of cityscapes.

24pgmcc
Jul 20, 2019, 5:09pm

I shall have to stop taking leave for the health and safety of my family and friends. As you know, my brother died when I took leave in June. On Tuesday I booked Thursday and Friday of this week as leave. Early Wednesday morning I got a telephone call from a cousin telling me his mother, my aunt, has died. Her funeral will not be until Friday 26th as her grandchildren have to travel home from various parts of the world.

On Friday morning I got word from my sister that her sister-in-law has died. A sister's sister-in-law may not appear to be very close but I was very chummy with her and her children; so much so that she was nearly my mother-in-law.

Her funeral will be on Monday but I cannot take the day off work so will be visiting the wake house tomorrow. The snag is that the wake house is in Donegal. You may remember the last time I drove there it took me seven hours.

Off to bed early as we will be driving for a long time tomorrow.

25clamairy
Jul 20, 2019, 7:04pm

>24 pgmcc: My double condolences, Peter.
You must be afraid to answer your phone by now.
:o(

26catzteach
Jul 20, 2019, 11:38pm

>24 pgmcc: oh, Peter, I’m sorry.

27haydninvienna
Jul 21, 2019, 1:33am

>24 pgmcc: So sorry, Peter. Also, what Clam said. Blessings to you and your family.

28-pilgrim-
Jul 21, 2019, 2:16am

>24 pgmcc: I am so sorry, Peter. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

29hfglen
Jul 21, 2019, 5:09am

>24 pgmcc: Thirding Clam and Richard. Also strength and condolences to (the survivors of) you and your nearest and dearest.

30pgmcc
Jul 21, 2019, 5:35am

>25 clamairy:; >26 catzteach:; >27 haydninvienna:; >28 -pilgrim-:; >29 hfglen:

Thank all.

Of course, if suitable1 were about he would have picked up on the, ”was nearly my mother-in-law.”. :-)

31clamairy
Jul 21, 2019, 7:04am

>30 pgmcc: I picked up on it, but was too polite (for once) to pry.

32AHS-Wolfy
Jul 21, 2019, 8:50am

>24 pgmcc: Sad to hear of more bad news for you. My condolences to you and the family.

33suitable1
Edited: Jul 21, 2019, 9:18am

>30 pgmcc:
Some things you just need to leave alone

PS: Don't tell anyone when you are about to leave, especially here in the Green Dragon.

34MrsLee
Jul 21, 2019, 11:58am

>24 pgmcc: Oh that is tough. May you have safe travels and find comfort in the memories of your loved ones passed, and the presence of those still with you.

35Busifer
Jul 22, 2019, 12:08pm

Condolences. I hope the drive to Donegal went well.

36pgmcc
Jul 22, 2019, 4:43pm

Thank you everyone for your condolences. It has been a strange month.

I was telling a colleague in work about the three deaths and he said he could take one death, he could take three deaths, but if there were two he would be waiting for the third. He then said I was in the clear for a while. That was when I told him I read a book in May called Six Wakes. :-O

The trip to Donegal went well, thank you for mentioning it, Busifer. We took the road to Belfast and then across to Derry and Donegal. That is mostly motorway and dual-carriageway. The direct route I took the last time has more ordinary roads that are more prone to traffic jams and blockages.

When we got to Belfast we spent an hour with my brother's widow. I made some tea and then started cleaning the dishes. That is when my sister-in-law said, "It's only now I am realising how much Raymond did about the house, like the dishes." We had a bit of a laugh.

When we got over the border we stopped at a little coffee shop/café called The Gap. That is the place I may have mentioned before with the sign on the door to the toilets that states, "This is the door you are looking for". :-)

Wakes in the country are much different from wakes in the city. Donegal keeps very much to the old tradition. As we approached the wake-house there were "Wake" signs at various junctions. Mary's remains were taken to her son's house on Saturday. There was a constant stream of people visiting the house to pay their respects. The coffin was open and people would stay up all night chatting and reminiscing. Everyone was offered tea and sandwiches and friends, neighbours and relatives would be bringing food stuffs and cake to help feed the visitors. The wake would go on from the time the coffin arrives in the house until it is removed for burial. The burial was this morning. Unfortunately I could not stay for the funeral and drove home last night.

On Saturday we went to my aunt's wake. Her remains were in a funeral parlour rather than the house. The family were there for about four hours to receive mourners. We went over and spent about an hour at the funeral parlour. My cousins insisted that we join them for coffee in a nearby pub/restaurant afterwards. The internment will not take place until next Friday as the grandchildren have to come from various parts of the world. One of them is a goddaughter of mine and she, in her thirties, is fighting breast cancer and has her final dose of radiation therapy on Thursday. She only discovered her problem after giving birth to her little girl last year.

Despite the horrible circumstances of our meeting with our friends and relatives at the two wakes it was lovely to see people I have not seen for a long time. Some of the people I met in Donegal were friends I haven't seen for about thirty years. That was great. Yes, suitable1, she was there. :-) We are the best of friends.

37suitable1
Jul 22, 2019, 5:27pm

Don't you just love having old friends that you haven't seen in years but can pick up as if it were yesterday!

38clamairy
Jul 22, 2019, 5:34pm

>36 pgmcc: It sounds as if all went as well as it could, given the circumstances. I wondered about the wake practices, as many of the books I've read and movies I've seen set in Ireland have 'house wakes.' But now that you've mentioned it they have all been set in the country, or in the past. I wonder when the switch happened in this country. No one wakes at home anymore, to my knowledge. And yet in early in my parents' life time the wakes were all at home.

(I'm glad you saw 'her' and that your are on such good terms.)

39pgmcc
Jul 23, 2019, 1:56am

>37 suitable1:. That is just fantastic. I love it.

40pgmcc
Jul 23, 2019, 2:07am

>38 clamairy: They would never think of doing it any other way in Donegal. In the country some people may not have transport to get to a funeral parlour. A big part of the purpose of a wake is to support the family and be there for them.

41haydninvienna
Jul 23, 2019, 2:09am

>36 pgmcc: Good that it all went as it should, even though it must have been a somewhat overwhelming weekend for you. I hope next weekend brings you some cheer and some reading time, although I see that you may have another funeral on Friday. Best wishes to your god-daughter also.

42Busifer
Jul 23, 2019, 6:47am

Good to hear that all went well.

As to the wakes: house wakes were the tradition in Sweden as well, and went just the way you describe it. I'm not sure when it was discontinued, I've heard stories from the early 20th century but none later than the 30's. Maybe it continued out in the country until wwII, but from the 50's and forward there are no wakes at all. Goodbyes are said at the funeral, and friends and relatives catch up at the coffee/light meal traditionally served afterwards.
I guess this is for sanitary reasons. Some of the wake stories that I've heard are rather gruesome...

43pgmcc
Jul 23, 2019, 7:25am

My parent's wakes and my brother's wake were in the house. We would not think of doing it any other way unless there were physical space constraints. There is a sense of wanting the deceased to be home before departing for good. Also the friends and neighbours having the opportunity to come and commiserate and pay their respects is still very important here. It is not something we would want to rush.

People who come to Ireland from England think it strange that so many people go to funerals.

44-pilgrim-
Jul 23, 2019, 9:35am

The tradition in my family seems a mixture on what you describe. I have never seen the deceased at home, rather than at a funeral parlour, but the gathering of the family takes place ay the home of the deceased, and the coffin is brought there before its last journey to the church.
Late night reminiscing among family and friends seems to me an integral part of how to say 'goodbye'.

45pgmcc
Jul 26, 2019, 5:36pm

First World Problem



I am very disappointed in Canon. In 2017 my family bought me a Canon 1300D digital SLR camera for my birthday. The camera, including 18-55mm lens cost about €400. It had a two year warranty.

For the past two and a half years I have been happy snapping away with my new toy. Last month, less than six months out of warranty, my camera stopped recording pictures. It auto focused. It beeped when the appropriate button was depressed It did not show the taken photograph on the display, nor did it record an image on the SD card.

A bit of logical troubleshooting led me to think it was something to do with the sensor; the key element of a DSLR camera; the component everything else is built around.

I was not going to toy with an expensive camera so I decided to take it back to the shop where I bought it. They went through the same logical steps as I had and concluded something was seriously wrong. They gave me a receipt for my camera and sent the camera to Canon for investigation. I had to pay €100 up front against any repair costs.

Today I received a telephone call from the camera shop. Canon had been on to say the problem was the sensor and that a whole new sensor assembly would have to be put into the camera and the repair cost was going to be €430, more than the original camera cost.

I am pissed off that such a vital component can expire so soon after the warranty period. That calls Canon reliability into question.

I am pissed that Canon is prepared to charge more than the camera to repair the camera.

I am pissed that it took Canon three weeks to come back with a diagnosis.

I am pissed that I invested in Canon lenses for my camera and that unless I am going to sell these lenses and buy new ones I am going to have to spend more money to buy another Canon camera.

Canon is one of the biggest names in photography. I am shocked that one of its cameras expires in such a fundamental fashion in less than 30 months. It is enough to put me off photography. It has certainly left me with a very bad taste in my mouth about Canon.

46Jim53
Jul 26, 2019, 10:21pm

>24 pgmcc: >36 pgmcc: Just seeing this as I try to get caught up. Continuing to send warm thoughts to you and your family.

47pgmcc
Jul 27, 2019, 3:01am

>46 Jim53: Thank you, Jim.

48Sakerfalcon
Jul 27, 2019, 6:53am

>45 pgmcc: That is extremely frustrating and I'm not surprised you're pissed. An experience like yours would certainly put me off buying a Canon product again. I hope you won't lose your love of photography though.

49Darth-Heather
Jul 27, 2019, 7:25am

I wasn't as pleased with my Canon as I am with the Nikon I have now. Might be time to switch brands?

50clamairy
Jul 27, 2019, 9:35am

>45 pgmcc: I'm sorry this happened to you. Now I will definitely be rethinking the camera purchase I had planned for this Summer. Either that or I'll be purchasing an extended protection plan if I do buy a Cannon. (Which one would not need to do if one trusted a product line.)

51pgmcc
Jul 27, 2019, 9:58am

>48 Sakerfalcon:; >49 Darth-Heather:; >50 clamairy:
It has certainly shattered my confidence in Canon.

52haydninvienna
Jul 27, 2019, 2:14pm

Just catching up. What an embuggerance! This is not the Canon I used to love. Perhaps fortunately my Sony camera is still doing OK after about 7 years.

53suitable1
Edited: Jul 27, 2019, 3:27pm

Okay, I have to say something as a long-time Canon camera and printer user. I've had over ten Canon devices since 1985 and only one was not working when I stopped using it. I dropped it and cracked the LCD screen.

The real point is that any electronic device can fail at any time, any manufacturer - Canon, Nikon, Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc. Same goes for any kind of device, camera, printer, television, smartphone, automobile, etc, Even though I've never had a DSLR fail, I always take two cameras on a photography trip since I know there's always a chance for a problem.

Very few, if any, electronic devices are made to be repaired. It does seem strange that if the sensor can be replaced, that it costs more that the original camera and lens.

My major grip is with smartphone that have a battery that can't be replaced even though we know they all lose that ability to hold a change.

Oh, and I have an Argus C-3 film camera from the early fifties that still works, but for some reason it doesn't get much use.

54clamairy
Jul 27, 2019, 4:03pm

>53 suitable1: I hear ya. I've had very good experiences with Canon products over the years. Ditto Samsung, though I hear people whining elsewhere.

Which cell phones have batteries you can't change? O.O That seems ridiculous to me. Though I have been told that once a phone reaches a certain age changing the battery does little to prolong the charge. It's got as much if not more to do with all of the apps & their remnants eating up power as it does to do with the battery efficiency itself.

55suitable1
Edited: Jul 27, 2019, 5:29pm

>54 clamairy:

Maybe I'm not looking, but I don't know of any newer phones where the user can change the battery.

56clamairy
Jul 27, 2019, 5:47pm

>55 suitable1: Well, they aren't easily removable, but YouTube abounds with videos claiming to show you how to do it anyway.

57suitable1
Jul 27, 2019, 8:06pm

>56 clamairy:

Okay, let's say that they are not made for end-users to change the battery.

58MrsLee
Jul 27, 2019, 10:50pm

>45 pgmcc: I think you should send that post as is to Canon. Frustrating.

59pgmcc
Jul 28, 2019, 10:56am

>36 pgmcc:
Perhaps I shouldn't have read that book, Six Wakes; I was woken this morning by a phone-call letting me know that a colleague I work very closely with and whom I consider a good friend had a massive heart attack last night and has died.

This is just a bit too much.

60suitable1
Jul 28, 2019, 12:08pm

This is just a bit too much. Agreed!

61clamairy
Jul 28, 2019, 2:11pm

>59 pgmcc: Oh, Peter... :o(

62-pilgrim-
Jul 28, 2019, 5:04pm

>59 pgmcc: I am so sorry.

63haydninvienna
Jul 28, 2019, 8:30pm

>59 pgmcc: Oh, good Lord! What on earth is going on in Ireland? Peter, my sincerest condolences.

64Sakerfalcon
Jul 29, 2019, 5:04am

Oh Peter, I'm so sorry to hear your news. Condolences to you and to your friend's family.

65catzteach
Jul 29, 2019, 10:12pm

>59 pgmcc: oh, man! So sorry about your friend!

66NorthernStar
Jul 30, 2019, 3:19am

>24 pgmcc:, >45 pgmcc:, >59 pgmcc:, I've been out of touch for the last week. Sounds like you have been having a rough time. My sympathies.

67pgmcc
Edited: Jul 30, 2019, 11:56am

>60 suitable1:; >61 clamairy:; >62 -pilgrim-:; >63 haydninvienna:; >64 Sakerfalcon:; >65 catzteach:; >66 NorthernStar:

Thank you all for your sympathy. All my colleagues are in shock. Our friend and colleague was very popular and someone that no one had a bad word to say about. He was very fair, helpful and friendly. He will be missed. Of the four deaths amongst my family and friends in the past seven weeks his was the most shocking as he was only in his mid fifties and most of us who worked with him have had meetings with him last Thursday or Friday. Things are a bit surreal at the moment.

68hfglen
Jul 30, 2019, 5:27am

>59 pgmcc: It sounds like you're going through hell right now. My thoughts are with you.

69AHS-Wolfy
Jul 30, 2019, 6:42am

>59 pgmcc: So sorry to hear of another loss for you to have to bear.

To all Peter's friends and family: Can you please stop expiring at the current rate as it's not fair that those left behind have so much grief all at once.

70-pilgrim-
Jul 30, 2019, 7:13am

>67 pgmcc: I understand what you mean about surreality. I lost 6 members of my family (including both parents) in one year; I started packing a black outfit on all journeys, as every time I did not, there seemed to be more sad news. It takes a while for mundane life to reassert itself.

It sounds like you have lost a really good man. The unexpectedness makes it harder for those left behind, but in that situation, I try to take comfort in how little the person themself suffered.

71MrsLee
Jul 30, 2019, 6:46pm

Peter, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

72pgmcc
Jul 31, 2019, 5:49am

>68 hfglen:; >69 AHS-Wolfy:; >70 -pilgrim-:; >71 MrsLee:

Thank you, all.

Sitting in a hotel in Westport having some tea and toast before the funeral. Westport is the place we spent a weekend on the trail of George A. Birmingham, a favourite author of my wife. The deceased friend is from near here and he was very interested in our visit and even gave me recommendations on places to eat.

I expect the funeral to be very big. I know many of my colleagues have travelled from Dublin for the funeral. An Irish country funeral will be big normally.

73pgmcc
Aug 1, 2019, 11:27am

The Wych Elm by Tana French is proving a good read. It is well written and the author has realistically represented the millennial characters and their parents' generation. The representation of modern Dublin and the privileged people who still live in the big old houses is very realistic. I am a bit annoyed at the publisher because the front cover contains a comment that could be a bit of a spoiler. I have not finished the book yet but I found having read that comment I lost some of the surprise factor in the plot. I could, however, be proven wrong when I get to the end. For those who cannot contain their curiosity the comment is "What do we hide inside ourselves?". So, if you are going to read this book be careful to read only the title of the book and the name of the author. Read nothing else until you have read the book.

Having read 47 Seconds and started The Hunting Party I can say Tana French's writing is far superior to that of the other authors. By the way, I dislike most of the characters in The Wych Elm but French's writing and story is keeping me engaged.

Thank you to those of you who pushed me towards reading Tana French.

74pgmcc
Aug 1, 2019, 3:59pm

By the way, I suspect that the murderer is Susanna. I have suspected this for quite some time.

75Jim53
Aug 1, 2019, 6:39pm

>73 pgmcc: I'll have to try The Witch Elm again. I started it earlier this year and couldn't get into it. I enjoyed her DMS series so maybe my expectations were too high.

76pgmcc
Aug 2, 2019, 4:38am

>75 Jim53: I can see how that would happen. It took a long time to get started. The setting up of the plot took a long time and, to be honest, the characters are not the nicest people to be spending time with.

This is the first Tana French book I have read so I had not expectations.

77pgmcc
Aug 4, 2019, 3:58pm


The Wych Elm by Tana French 513 pages



I found this a well written murder mystery with realistic characters and an almost Gothic-in-a-modern-setting feel to it. There was an old family house; a family secret; an evil villain; a murder; and the threat of dungeons, well, prison cells.

The characters include professional, Dublin millennials, totally focused on their career having fun; their parents, who are well-to-do meaning the millennials are of the more privileged members of society; members (both uniformed and detectives) of An Garda Síochána (the Irish police force); a handful of less privileged members of society who would be, and are, looked down upon by the main characters; the Ivy House. The Ivy House is the family home that has been in the family for four generations. It has to be considered as a character in this tale as it is the hub of the story and is instrumental in defining the socio-economic status of the characters and their position in the privileged class.

Tana French does an excellent job of portraying the lives and attitudes of the families who have lived in the big old houses in the rich leafy suburbs that are now some of the most expensive real-estate in the country, and whose children are the fodder of the modern Millenial business world, people who believe they are indestructible and that rules and laws are for others.

I came to this book having just read two other murder mysteries, 47 Seconds and The Hunting Party. As soon as I started reading The Wych Elm I knew I was dealing with an author whose writing skill was infinitely better than that of the authors of my earlier two reads.

I am giving this book 3.5 stars out of 5. For me a 3 represents a good book. 3.5 is praise indeed. I reserve 4 and above for books that teach me something and that I find to have interesting wordplay, or novel ideas and insights. The Wych Elm is a good read; it is an interesting murder mystery. I will read more books by Tana French, but I did not find myself making notes in the margin, putting comments in the back cover to remind me to go back to certain pages and reread wonderful ideas and phrases. This is the type of book I would read for a relaxing read. It is well written and entertaining and I will approach further Tana French books with that in mind. I would recommend it as a summer read.



78pgmcc
Aug 4, 2019, 4:20pm

The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson.



This is my current read. It is one I have been planning to read for a long time. It is one of those books I should have read a long time ago as it is supposed to be a masterpiece of the WEIRD. It is the favourite book of my friend who runs The Swan River Press and I am reading a beautiful edition (Pictures to follow at a later date.) that he produced as a labour of love.

79clamairy
Aug 4, 2019, 6:09pm

>77 pgmcc: That's the same rating I gave it! It was okay, but probably my least favorite thing of hers of the four that I've read. Her first two Dublin Murder Squad books are far superior IMHO. ) This was the first thing of hers that I had read and several people in here (reading_fox for one, and possibly jim53) encouraged me to try the others. I did because I really liked her writing style.

80pgmcc
Aug 4, 2019, 6:15pm

>79 clamairy: As I said in my comments, when I started reading her book the style was so much better than I had found in the other two books. The Wych Elm had very few characters you could like but French's writing kept me reading. I read this book primarily on the basis of your comments about it. Thank you!

81haydninvienna
Aug 4, 2019, 6:18pm

>78 pgmcc: I’ve read The House on the Borderland a couple of times, once recently in a newish edition with an introduction by China Miéville. That’s a nice cover, but I don’t see how a cover could capture the peculiar oppressive dread that suffuses the book.

82pgmcc
Aug 5, 2019, 3:03pm

I promised more photographs of The House on the Borderland. Here is one of the book with the dust-cover removed.



I am about half way through the book. It is certainly a spooky read. Earlier today I was reading the book in the garden. It was a beautiful sunny day at the time. Our cat, George, was sitting on a chair beside me. George went tense and started to stare into the corner of the garden through some bushes. I could not see what he was staring at but the stare was so intense I knew something was there. I found myself walking to the bushes trying to see what had his attention but I could not see it. I thought it might be another cat, or a bird, or small mammal. Possibly even a butterfly or other insect. I could see nothing.

While I was doing that investigation I was reminded of how the main character in the book explores his garden for the evil creatures with his dog and how the dog is telling him where they are hiding. I was conscious that my behaviour reflected the character's actions which I thought were stupid, i.e. going towards the bushes where he knew something was lurking. I assumed it was not something supernatural in my garden; I was more expecting a cat to leap out or a bird to make a sudden dash for freedom.

As it happened I caught a few glimpses of a cat sauntering away along the neighbour's wall. George relaxed and started to get interested in other things. I am going with the cat theory. What else could it be? (Please do not answer the question.)

83suitable1
Aug 5, 2019, 4:48pm

"I see dead people"

84hfglen
Aug 6, 2019, 3:53am

You don't get snakes in Ireland, do you? And lizards?

85pgmcc
Aug 6, 2019, 4:01am

>84 hfglen: We have no naturally resident snakes. There are some small lizards but I have not seen any in built-up areas. I am keeping to the cat explanation and ignoring >83 suitable1: totally. He can keep his Sixth Sense to himself.

86hfglen
Aug 6, 2019, 5:08am

>85 pgmcc: When our lot behave like yours it usually means they're hunting. The prey is generally either a bush snake (small, harmless), a gecko (invasive, expendable) or a skink (reason to throw the cat off). >83 suitable1:'s explanation is quite superfluous.

87pgmcc
Aug 6, 2019, 11:10am

>86 hfglen: I shared a hotel room with a gecko in Accra in 1988. He looked after the mosquitoes; I looked after the sleeping.

Lovely little critters.

88pgmcc
Aug 6, 2019, 11:20am

I have about 80 pages of The House on the Borderland left to read. It is an interesting read written with the intention of giving you a scare if you are alone, or alone with a pet, or...are you alone at all. Bwahahahahahaha...!

I find I cannot read this book without great imagery forming in my mind. The descriptions flow easily into images in my mind and I feel the urge to draw what I see. The edition I have contains illustrations created for this edition. They help build the eerie atmosphere the author intended to develop.

The book was first published in 1904 and is of the style of spooky stories of the time: the discovery of a manuscript under rubble in a ruin located in a remote wilderness. The bulk of the text is that of the discovered manuscript. The reader cannot but relate to the narrator who is at the heart of all the mysterious happenings. To say more would ruin the book for you.

BOOO!

89MrsLee
Aug 7, 2019, 9:32am

>88 pgmcc: Sounds like a good one. Remember that Siamese cats were trained to guard the entrances to temples from robbers and evil spirits alike. They sat on pillars inside the doors. Cats can definitely see beyond the human scope and sphere, and I think that spirits like to hang out in the corners of ceilings, if my cat's spooky stares are anything to go by.

90Busifer
Aug 13, 2019, 2:23pm

>59 pgmcc: Oh no!
I'm so sorry, you and your family has had such a rough time. You have my sympathies.

91Karlstar
Aug 13, 2019, 3:13pm

I am just catching up, very sorry for all of your losses recently. I can only hope that it was a virtual group of 3 and you are spared more for a long time.

92pgmcc
Aug 13, 2019, 4:55pm

>90 Busifer: Thank you!

>91 Karlstar: Thank you! I would like to think that is an end to it. Four family/friends in six weeks was a bit much.

93catzteach
Aug 13, 2019, 11:19pm

>88 pgmcc: Sounds like a good one to read in October!

94pgmcc
Aug 14, 2019, 3:06am

>93 catzteach: That would definitely be the case.

95pgmcc
Aug 20, 2019, 9:05am

Sharing this post here for those we are not following the Dublin2019 Worldcon thread.

I had a great time at Worldcon in Dublin. See my haul of books.



I met a lot of friends I only see at such events and made new friends. My inner fanboy was happy once I got to meet S.A. Chakraborty, the author of The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper. These are books that you will be aware I was well impressed by.

In terms of meeting with LT people I managed to meet up with:

RobertDay
Maddz
anglemark (both parts)
imyril, and
a real life friend of jillmwo. The story behind this will have to wait. All I will say now is that T.J. gave me all the gossip.

I will provide other bits of convention updates in the coming days, including some of the gossip about jillmwo. Talk about good value. :-)

96clamairy
Aug 20, 2019, 9:13am

>95 pgmcc: Sounds wonderful!
And we are all waiting for the dirt... ;o)

97pgmcc
Aug 20, 2019, 9:36am

>96 clamairy: I will need a shovel to shift all of it.

98Busifer
Aug 20, 2019, 2:45pm

>95 pgmcc: I don't personally know J Anglemark, but we share a couple of real life friends. He once managed to pick up a board game at a charity shop that I had dropped at the same charity but in another town... ;-) (He knew, because he found my name on a card in it, and told me.) It's a small world!

Too late I realised that an online friend from the Cherryh fan community worked at the info booth. She flew in from the US. I've had a lot on my plate and has not managed to keep up to date with much of anything since way back before I went on summer vacation. I just now saw her pictures from Dublin.

I need another vacation... ;-)

99pgmcc
Aug 20, 2019, 4:23pm

>98 Busifer: We always need another vacation. It is the true circle of life: work - get tired - take vacation - get even more tired - back to work - take vacation - get even more-er tired - back to work...

100Busifer
Aug 20, 2019, 4:26pm

101pgmcc
Aug 26, 2019, 6:55am

I have been making slow progress through The Third Policeman but that is more to do with real life than with the book. The book does, however, require a high degree of attention and is not just a whizz through read. Being quite surreal and weird it warrants taking slowly to get the humour and to detect the things Flann O'Brien was ridiculing. A major back-character, i.e. someone the main character refers to a lot, is De Selby. De Selby has produced writings on his many hypotheses and theories and whose works have been the subject of many works by commentators on scientific and philosophical matters. De Selby's hypotheses and theories would startle many a person and challenge the intellect with their intricacies. One of his hypotheses is that darkness is due to "an accumulation of dark air". If De Selby were in existence today, in fact, if he had ever been in existence, I would not be surprised if he adopted a position strongly supporting the idea of a flat Earth.

I would strongly recommend The Third Policeman to people who like convolute humour with an element of intricate pseudo-science taken to the point of absurdity.

I still have about 30 pages to go.

102pgmcc
Aug 26, 2019, 7:09am

When I have finished The Third Policeman I intend reading Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. It won "The Best New Writer" Hugo Award at Worldcon and I want to see how good it is.

103haydninvienna
Aug 26, 2019, 7:33am

>101 pgmcc: You missed with the BB, Peter! I already have The Third Policeman (bought in Dublin even!) and have actually read it. And the follow-up, The Dalkey Archive, in which De Selby turns up again. The reviews of The Dalkey Archive describe the plot as "close to indecipherable" and "Robert-Rankinesque". People get very serious about Flann O'Brien and his post-modernism, but you can probably hear as much post-modernism in the talk in any pub in Ireland towards closing time.

I loved The Third Policeman.

104pgmcc
Aug 28, 2019, 10:18am



I have started reading Under The Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. It won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author at the 2019 WorldCon. Her acceptance speech was emotional and she made a statement that John W. Campbell's name should be removed from the award as he had a history of mysogyny and fascism. She has caused a stir.

I am only about thirty pages into the book and will hold judgement until the end as to whether I think it is a worthy winner of a "Best New Author" award. At this point I do not think it is as good as The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty who had my vote for the award. I am finding the prose to be more labourious than Chakraborty's and am trying to be as objective as possible. Chakraborty came third after the voting so I will have to revisit the second place novel as well. To be better books that The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper they would need to be "BIG WOW!" books. I am not seeing that so far in Under the Pendulum Sun.

I have also started reading Foreshadow: Trapped in Her Own Mind by Leena Althekair. This is on the Kindle app on my phone and I am using it for those moments when I do not have my physical books with me. So far it is about a 16/17 yearold girl starting High School. Apparently her brother has been dabbling with time travel.

105pgmcc
Aug 29, 2019, 11:32am



I have just booked three tickets to a showing of the 70mm format version of Dune in the Irish Film Institute. It is a one-night-only showing and will be packed with Dune enthusiasts. I went to their one-night-only showing of Bladerunner about two years ago and it was a great crowd to be with watching a film we all loved.

106Sakerfalcon
Aug 30, 2019, 4:40am

>105 pgmcc: Oooh! I am very envious! Have a wonderful time.

107pgmcc
Aug 30, 2019, 7:09am

>106 Sakerfalcon: It should be a great atmosphere. I am looking forward to it.

108Karlstar
Sep 1, 2019, 4:52pm

>104 pgmcc: Are her accusations against John W. Campbell a real thing or a lot to do about nothing?

109haydninvienna
Sep 2, 2019, 2:07am

>104 pgmcc: >108 Karlstar: I used to be a subscriber to Analog while JWC was still editor. He certainly had more than a tendency towards the right--I remember an editorial stating that he intended to vote for George Wallace in the 1968 presidential election because the other two candidates were interchangeable. Given that the other two were Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, this is, shall we say in retrospect, not an obvious position. The Wikipedia article on this election makes interesting reading in this context—Wallace was an overt segregationist who had resisted the de-segregation of schools in Alabama. If JWC was prepared to express support for a high-profile racist such as Wallace, it's hard to doubt that he had racist sympathies.

110pgmcc
Sep 2, 2019, 3:47am

>108 Karlstar: I was not aware of who J. W. Campbell was until Jeanette Ng's speech. I knew of the award since I first became aware of WorldCons over twenty years ago but was not interested enough to look up who JWC was. Since Jeanette's speech I have done a little research and, like Richard in #109, have found that the accusations are supported by evidence.

Another indication of the validity of the accusations comes in the form of the reactions to the speech on social media, that much distorted representation of humanity and magnifier of our worst characteristics. The reactions I have seen have fallen into two groups; one, a complaint (or more accurately "an attack") that Jeanette Ng should use the platform of her winning in a political fashion, and two, praise for Jeanette Ng in making this statement. I am grateful to her for bringing this to my attention. I have not seen any denials of the accusations.

The fact that the title of the award has been instantaniously changed to "The Astounding Award for Best New Wrtier" would indicate that the powers-that-be believe there is sufficient evidence supporting the accusations to warrant swift action and the removal of Campbell's name from the award.

111pgmcc
Sep 2, 2019, 4:02am

Last Wednesday night, 28th August, we attended a performance of A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie. It was an enjoyable evening which started with dinner at 5:30pm in Chez Max, a wonderful bit of France in the middle of Dublin.

112haydninvienna
Sep 2, 2019, 6:05am

>110 pgmcc: Didn't know who John W Campbell was? Egad. The Wikipedia article on him makes interesting reading 50 or so years after I stopped reading Analog.

It remains true that Campbell was enormously influential, and that at least at first his influence worked for the better. The number of established writers who left the Astounding/Analog stable indicates that fairly soon his influence ceased to be entirely a good thing.

113pgmcc
Sep 2, 2019, 4:59pm

I am finally getting a few minutes to report on some of the WorldCon experience. Between World Science Fiction Conventions, Family Reunions, Work and Minding Grandchildren, I have not had much time to brief the world on the great time I had at WorldCon.

The first event I attended was at 7pm on Wednesday, 14th August at the Science Gallery in Trinity College. This was a panel discussion entitled "Oppy or Armstrong? Autonomous vs human space exploration" It would have been difficult to assemble a more appropriate panel for this discussion.


From left to right:
Dr. Noelle Ameijenda; Panel moderator - qualifications in Astrophysics
Aliette de Bodard; AI designer and safety manager
Geoffrey A. Landis; Space exploration robot engineer. Has worked on the Opportunity & Curiosity Mars rovers
Dr Inge Heyer (Loyola University Maryland); Professor of Astronomy
Jeanette Epps (NASA); Astronaut Corps

The discussion was interesting, entertaining and fun. The panel members gelled really well and the audience loved the session. It was a great start to the convention.



On the following day I managed to grab a picture with Jeanette Epps just to make my son-in-law mad. He has been trying to get on the NASA astronaut programme and to think his old father-in-law got to meet someone on the programme would really irk him. :-)

114pgmcc
Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 9:27am

The convention took place over three main venues: The Convention Centre, Dublin (CCD); Savoy Cinema at the Point Depot; Spencer Hotel. I only went to the Convention Centre but had enough to do there.

The CCD is the building on the right in the picture below with the glass drink can tilted into it.



There are four upper floors in the CCD. To avoid transatlantic confusion, there is a ground floor and four floors above that. Access to the upper floors was by elevator, escalator or stairs. The picture below shows the escalators zig zagging up the front of the building to bring delegates to the various floors. Did I mention that over 5,500 people attended the convention?



This image was made by feeding a video into MS ICE, a freely available piece of software that creates composite pictures from still photographs or videos. At the top of the picture one is looking straight up.

If one goes to the fourth floor (fifth floor by US counting) and looks down, then one will see this:


The single CCD mat on the balcony over the entrance is roughly where I was standing to make the video used to produce the previous picture.

115pgmcc
Edited: Sep 2, 2019, 5:26pm

The Dublin2019 access team was ready for all comers.



As you might have guessed, the first place I visited in the CCD was the Dealers' Room.



People not in the know ask me, What is a "Dealers' Room"?

I reply, A warehouse where people sell things, mainly books. :-)

As you can see the Dealers' Room was pretty vast. I refer you to post >95 pgmcc: for the damage this establishment did to my wallet.

Yes, that is a DeLorean from Back to the Future sitting out front.

116MrsLee
Sep 2, 2019, 7:53pm

>114 pgmcc: That building is amazing! What a perfect setting for the convention.

117haydninvienna
Sep 3, 2019, 12:26am

>114 pgmcc: obvious maybe: was the DeLorean for sale?

118Busifer
Sep 3, 2019, 2:23am

Just a though from the side-lines: Showing off that DeLorean might have earned more money touring conventions than the original film brought in? I think I have seen it twice in Stockholm alone, and not at huge events, either.

And floors can be so confusing.
Cultural differences are made up from the small things that muddles up understanding when we think everything is perfectly clear. How could a floor not be a floor?! ;-)

119pgmcc
Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 3:59am

I am about half way through Under The Pendulum Sun. I am still not feeling the love. It is a good book but I do not like any of the characters, do not feel the urge to pick it up at every opportunity, am not finding little gems to underline and note on the inside back-cover, care what happens to any of the characters,... I also find that the prose can be a little convolute or awkward at times. The author starts each chapter with an extract from some scripture like or pseudo-historical document and the language in these can be a bit off putting and turgid.

Without giving anything away the story is about a lady whose brother is a Christian missionary. His mission is in the land of the fae. Having not heard from him for a long time she seeks and obtains the permission of the missionary movement he works for to follow him. The story is told from her point of view.

It is obvious at this stage that the brother has incestuous feelings towards his sister and I can only see the plot moving in that direction.

I am only reading this book because it won the Astounding New Writer Award at Worldcon. So far I have not found anything that would have me wanting to read any more from this author.

120-pilgrim-
Sep 3, 2019, 7:53am

>113 pgmcc: - >115 pgmcc: I was already regretting being unable to attend ("So bear, and yet so far" etc.) Now my jealousy is being magnified exponentially...

121pgmcc
Sep 3, 2019, 7:55am

>120 -pilgrim-: Apologies for growing your jealousy; I am merely trying to share the joy. :-)

122-pilgrim-
Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 8:01am

>121 pgmcc: Eh, at least I still have my NASA astronaut teddy bear - a present from someone who worked on the program.

And, seriously, I am glad it all lived up to your expectations so well.

123pgmcc
Sep 3, 2019, 8:29am

>122 -pilgrim-: my NASA astronaut teddy bear - a present from someone who worked on the program.

Now you are making me jealous.

The convention did live up to my expectations, all credit to the team that worked to bring it to Dublin and make it such a success.

Funny story from Alistair Reynolds, the author of hard science fiction novels. He told this story at a convention in Belfast about twelve years ago.

He was contacted by someone claiming to work in administration in NASA. This person was going to be in England in a few months time, was a great fan of Alistair's books, and would love to meet for a coffee if possible.

Alistair was delighted with the idea of someone from NASA reading his books and agreed straight away. (He is a lovely guy and would have agreed to meet anybody who asked.)

Arrangements were made and mobile numbers exchanged and text messages crossed from one to the other. As the fateful hour approached Alistair received a text message from the person. He was apprehensive that the NASA person might be cancelling the meeting.

The text message was an apology and a request as to whether the NASA person could bring someone else along to the coffee. He was most upset at asking this and imposing on Alistair's goodwill.

Alistair asked who the other person was and was told, "It is one of the astronauts. He is over too and is a big fan and would love to meet you."

Needless to say Alistair was gobsmacked and agreed wholeheartedly to the astronaut coming along too.

I cannot remember the astronaut's name but he told Alistair that his books were very popular with all his colleagues. You can imagine how pleased Alistair Reynolds was when he heard that news.

124-pilgrim-
Sep 3, 2019, 9:41am

>123 pgmcc:

Now you are making me jealous
Glad to be of service. ;-)

That is a lovely story. And also a stonkingly good recommendation for Alastair Reynolds' books.

125pgmcc
Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 10:00am

>125 pgmcc: a stonkingly good recommendation for Alastair Reynolds' books.

I have only read one of his books, Century Rain. It is a detective noir story on another planet and I enjoyed it very much. I understand it is quite different from his other books.

The fact I have only read one of his books so far is not a reflection of my impression of his writing. He is an author I just have not gotten round to in a big way but hope to.

I would restate that he is a lovely person. Very self-depricating in conversation and has a good sense of humour.

126Sakerfalcon
Sep 3, 2019, 10:22am

That is a good story. I really enjoyed the Revelation space series by Reynolds.

127ScoLgo
Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 12:14pm

>114 pgmcc: Thank you for sharing your experience, Peter. I am envious to not have been in a position to be there in person but happy to vicariously visit through your posts.

>123 pgmcc: Excellent story!

>125 pgmcc: I too have only read one of his books - and it happens to be Century Rain. I enjoyed it greatly. I have 4 other titles of his on the shelf for which I need to make time. Revelation Space is among them but, being a bit of a completist, I will need to acquire the rest of the RS Universe books before diving in. The only other one I have so far is The Prefect. I also have House of Suns, and the Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days duology. Hmmm... the latter appears to be part of the RS Universe. I am finding that I don't know enough about his books to understand what I should read next. Careful research, to avoid spoilers, is apparently needed...

128haydninvienna
Sep 3, 2019, 12:17pm

Marvellous pictures, Peter, and I’m as envious as I could possibly be. Thanks for sharing.

129Busifer
Sep 3, 2019, 12:27pm

>123 pgmcc: Great story!

>125 pgmcc:, >127 ScoLgo: I too have only read Century Rain, but while I enjoyed it I wasn't overjoyed and put him to the side. I can't remember who, but probably reading_fox (?), urged me to give him another try at some point, and I have Blue Remembered Earth on a shelf somewhere.
I remember thinking that he had a great imagination but that the prose was a bit on the dry side, even for a hard sf author. Or maybe I was just in the wrong mood. I expect to get around to him again, eventually.

130ScoLgo
Sep 3, 2019, 12:34pm

>129 Busifer: I can see that. The story took a while to get going and it especially took him a while to tie the disparate narrative threads together. Once that happened and the overall scope came into view, I was a bit staggered by the level of imagination on display. There were things that bothered me about the writing and plotting too but the world-building more than made up for it - at least for me. I'm looking forward to reading more Reynolds but... so many books, so little time, eh? ;)

131Busifer
Sep 3, 2019, 12:42pm

>130 ScoLgo: Yeah, that sums it up pretty well for me. And as I'm quite the slow reader, or, rather: have a lot of things to do that precludes reading, I'm a bit discriminatory.

132pgmcc
Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 4:52pm



I see Amazon.co.uk has the Kindle version of The City of Brass on sale for a limited time at 99 pence. A bargain at ten times the price.

133pgmcc
Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 5:30pm

Further adventures from Dublin2019, An Irish Worldcon.
The programme of events for WorldCon was 155 pages long. Thankfully it was available as a pdf.

For any given time slot there were up to fifteen events going on. As you would expect many of the events I wanted to go to were on at the same time. At 11am on Thursday, 15th August, the first full day of the convention, there were four panel discussions I would have liked to attend. There were:

Invasion and the Irish imagination
Ruins, curses, and family secrets: the Gothic Panel
Writing from non-western cultures
Is it about a bicycle? The influences of a comedic genius

I would have loved to attend any of these. On the day I went to “Is it about a bicycle?” This is a reference to The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, an Irish civil servant and writer of witty satire. The panel discussion was brilliant, humorous, informative and great value.

The participants were an academic, a journalist, a Flann O’Brien aficionado, and a savant who works as a lobbyist, independent diplomat, and professional election analyst. The discussion covered not only The Third Policeman but O’Brien’s other works (The Poor Mouth, The Dalkey Archives, etc…) and his unfortunate life that meant his masterpiece, At Swim Two Birds, was published posthumously. The panel was the subject of an article in The Irish Times, the Irish paper of record.

I was about half way through The Third Policeman when I went to the panel.

Apparently this book was the inspiration for the TV series LOST!



134-pilgrim-
Edited: Sep 10, 2019, 1:24pm

>132 pgmcc: Thank you for the 'heads up', Peter. I have bitten.

I have been quietly kicking myself for a while now, after reading so many enthusiastic reviews here on HD, because I was offered a copy of this free, when it first came out,c as part of the Amazon Vine programme. But I had read so many bad first fantasy novels as a result of that scheme at that time, and thus looked long, so I seem to have passed on it.

It is some recompense for Amazon's reduced price Tolkien offer (mentioned earlier in this pub) never making it to the author's native land!

135pgmcc
Sep 4, 2019, 4:54pm

A further post on WorldCon.

I managed to make contact with five LibraryThing members. The evidence is here:

RobertDay joined me in the Ferryman pub on the Friday. The Ferryman is just across the river from the CCD where WorldCon was based.


At 6pm on the Friday I met Robert again and we were joined by Maddz and the Johan side of anglemark.




I caught up with the Néa side of anglemark at the Swan River Press stand on the Monday.


I also managed to meet up with Imryl and had a great chat with her.


The convention was great fun and what I enjoyed most of all was linking up with people I seldom have a chance to meet. Meeting these five LTers certainly added to the enjoyment of the convention for me. The convention was so big with so much going on it would have been impossible to get everyone together at the same time in the same place. I was delighted to get to meet these people who I have interacted with on-line and whom I would not bump into as part of the normal run of things.

A bonus meeting was meeting T. J. T. J. is not on LT as far as I know, but she is a close friend of jillmwo and is in fact the contact who gave me all the gossip about jillmwo which I am keeping to myself until all the bids are in and I get a chance to see what the highest bid is.

136Karlstar
Sep 5, 2019, 8:09am

>114 pgmcc: What a great venue and a great con experience, thanks for sharing!

137MrsLee
Sep 5, 2019, 9:33am

Good job on the meet-ups as well! LT members can be an elusive prey. :)

138pgmcc
Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 9:43am

>137 MrsLee: You are reminding me of the 2016 meet-up in The Shire Book Shop in Franklin. The group photograph is below:



That is interesting; I am wearing the same shirt. I guarantee I washed it at least once since 2016.

139Busifer
Sep 6, 2019, 12:27pm

LOL on the shirt! As evidenced by your other photos you seems to own other shirts as well, so I'll take your word on the washing part.

Looks like you had a great time, thanks for sharing!

140pgmcc
Edited: Sep 11, 2019, 4:24pm




I have finished Under the Pendulum Sun. I found it much ado about almost nothing. It is an attempt at a Gothic novel with the main characters being a Christian missionary in the land of the fairies and his sister who follows him to the land of the fae. The whole book is about the guilt these characters feel for their incestuous relationship and how this guilt affects their missionary work.

The writing was occasionally turgid and the the practice of starting every chapter with some real, some psuedo-, and some made up theological texts was not conducive to an easy flow of reading.

The author put a lot of work and effort into producing this book but it did not overawe me. I will not be reading any more books by Jeannette Ng.

141Busifer
Sep 11, 2019, 4:46pm

Thanks for taking one for the team.
I will definitely stay away from this one. Whatever the quality of the writing the theme itself is not something that I want to spend time on.

142pgmcc
Sep 12, 2019, 4:55am



I have started a re-read of The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks as a palete cleanser. I found reading Under the Pendulum Sun a chore but felt I had to read it as it was the book that won "The Best New Writer" award for the author at WorldCon. There was only an extract available in the voter pack.

Since Iain died I have intended to re-read all his SF books. I have only managed a few so far but I always find my re-reads of his novels very rewarding. In my youthful innocence of past years I have been oblivious to layers of meaning in his books and my re-reads have always given me more insights into the worlds he created and the messages he was promoting. The Player of Games is one of my favourite Banks books (it was my favourite until The Algebraist and Look to Windward came along; now the three share pole position.) and I am looking forward to the joy of relaxing in the world of The Culture.

143-pilgrim-
Edited: Sep 12, 2019, 6:18am

>142 pgmcc: I have never read anything by Iain M. Banks (in any of his personae). I was interested in the premise of The Player of Games, but was warned off by friends, due to Banks' preoccupation with detailed torture (their description).

On that basis, would you recommend? (I know that Consider Phlebas is the first in the series - but also more torture-heavy?)

144ScoLgo
Sep 12, 2019, 12:12pm

>142 pgmcc: I wish you enjoyment of your re-read, Peter. I have read 4 Banks novels to date. The Wasp Factory, (non-Culture), and The Player of Games are my two favorites so far. The other two, Consider Phlebas and Use of Weapons were also quite good but didn't appeal to me as much. I actually picked up Complicity a week or so ago and read the prologue - but had to force myself to set it back down because I had too many other books already started at the time. I bought Complicity on your recommendation and, if the prologue is any indicator, I am going to like that book too. Banks was an excellent writer that is gone too soon.

>143 -pilgrim-: Others are more well read in the Banksverse than I but, in my experience there is definitely a dark edge to his writing. More so in the non-Culture books, (if The Wasp Factory and prologue to Complicity are any indication). Consider Phlebas starts off with one of the more startlingly original 'torture/execution' concepts I have seen in SF. I found it more humorous than shocking - but that reaction can likely be attributed to my twisted sense of humour than to anything else. IOW... YMMV...

145haydninvienna
Edited: Sep 12, 2019, 1:09pm

I've been banging on about my dislike for violence (and torture) but Ive been wondering for years if I should have a go at Banks--the Culture stories anyway. Probably not The Wasp Factory.

146pgmcc
Sep 12, 2019, 1:07pm

>143 -pilgrim-:

As >144 ScoLgo: mentioned, Consider Phlebas starts with a novel and humorous "torture" situation. I do recall, however, there is at least one "shock" incident that I would think you might want to avoid. When I first met Iain he was with his first wife and she had typed Consider Phlebas for him. She described typing this section and trying to simply type without taking in the meaning of the words.

If Banks described cruelty it was to make a point about the cruelty in the real world. His books often involved allegory to the current day. He would have held with the saying (which I have still not found an original source for) "If you want to tell the truth, write Fiction. If you want to tell the truth about today, write Science Fiction." When his books were published it was often to the background of something like
one of The Gulf Wars and it was not hard to spot parallels with what was happening in the real world.

His non-SF books often contain "shock" elements, in particular, The Wasp Factory (which is very much black-humour) and Complicity. I would not recommend these to you if you are in any way squimish.

I do not remember any torture in The Player of Games but I do recall a description of extreme poverty in juxtaposition with extreme wealth.

In nearly all his non-SF books he included a sex scene. I found many of these irrelevant to the rest of the story. It appeared he felt there was an expectation that he would include such scenes.

I think I am saying, proceed with caution.

147-pilgrim-
Edited: Sep 12, 2019, 3:11pm

>144 ScoLgo:, >146 pgmcc: Thank you both. I had heard that Banks writes intelligent SF - by which I mean that there is a point behind his ideas, some ideas that he wants to explore, rather than simply telling a good story.

I find that I have less tolerance for obviously invented brutality than for accounts that are representing something that actually happened. So, for example, I have read Isaac Babel on pogroms, or Shalamov's Kolyma Tales and highly recommend both. There is shock value there, but no loving lingering on the detail.

Stephen Donaldson's Mordant's Need sequence would be an example of something that I found obsessed with unpleasant detail to an extent that I found distasteful.

As to the gratuitous sex scenes - I usually just skim them, until we get back to the plot.

But are you both suggesting that it might be better to skip Consider Phlebas and start with The Player of Games?

148Busifer
Sep 12, 2019, 3:52pm

>147 -pilgrim-: If I'm to join the discussion I'd say start with The Player of Games. It is by far the best of the two. Consider Phlebas is good, too, but ends in a quite dark place, and as the Culture is more of an universe than a series there is no need to read in publishing order.

I still mourn his passing, the world lost so many unwritten stories...

149Sakerfalcon
Sep 13, 2019, 5:22am

>140 pgmcc: I agree with you about Under the pendulum sun. I wanted to love the book but the characters and their guilt didn't appeal at all, the potential worldbuilding was never realised because most of the time everyone was stuck in one place, and the incest was just ugh. I think Ng is technically a good writer and I'd be willing to try her again but I would proceed with caution.

>147 -pilgrim-:, >148 Busifer: I agree that The player of games would be a good Culture novel to begin with. I enjoy Consider Phlebas but would definitely recommend avoiding it because it does get very dark and there is some extreme gore which I have to skim over. I'd also steer clear of Use of weapons.

150pgmcc
Sep 13, 2019, 9:20am

OK! OK! OK! I know I shouldn't...but I did.

Munich by Robert Harris


The Second Sleep by Robert Harris


The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa


...so there.

151Sakerfalcon
Sep 13, 2019, 10:54am

I disagree. It was your duty to buy The memory police, and now you have to read it and let us know what you think of it before I decide whether to buy a copy! You will be providing a great service that will be much appreciated.

152pgmcc
Sep 13, 2019, 11:10am

>151 Sakerfalcon: Your wish is my command!

How can I not obey?

153pgmcc
Sep 13, 2019, 11:18am

>149 Sakerfalcon: I am glad I am not alone in my view of Under the Pendulum Sun.

154ScoLgo
Sep 13, 2019, 3:12pm

>150 pgmcc: That cover of The Memory Police is startling. It is the kind of cover that would make me pick up a book to see what it's all about.

155pgmcc
Sep 13, 2019, 4:56pm

>154 ScoLgo: It is very striking and it is even more so "in the flesh" so to speak.

156pgmcc
Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 5:51am

For those of you not following the Science Fiction Group thread on the recent WorldCon in Dublin, but how have an at least passing interest, there is a great report by RobertDay in his post on that thread. You can find it HERE!

157pgmcc
Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 7:15am

I received an e-mail from Amazon yesterday. I have pre-ordered Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty. The email informed me the release date has been put back to June 2020 from February. :-(

I know she is still working on edits but was hoping it would still be our by February.



This moves it post the current target date for Brexit so I may not be able to get if from Amazon(dot)co(dot)uk so may have to buy it from France of Germany.

158-pilgrim-
Sep 14, 2019, 7:19am

>157 pgmcc: Would using Amazon's "order now, price guaranteed not to rise on publication" option help you here?

159pgmcc
Sep 14, 2019, 9:14am

>158 -pilgrim-: Amazon's pre-order process guarantees me the lowest price the book is at between the time I order and its release. This has been honoured in all cases in my experience. My concern is two-fold; one, I am disappointed that book will be delayed; two, if there is a no-deal Brexit then the trading from the UK, which will be a non-EU country in those circumstances, may not have settled down to whatever arrangements will ultimately be made. Given that I work in the postal sector I am aware that the Irish customs will be increasing their checks on goods coming from the UK and this will at the very least cause delay.

Everything is simpler ordering from within the EU as there is totally free trading across the EU countries. Once one is buying from a non-EU country, which the UK will be after Brexit, there are several levels of administration to be navigated by someone or other. The shipper has to prepare a customs declaration and have this on the package; the trucking company has to have clearance to enter the EU; etc...

Whatever way it goes there will be a period of disruption before things settle down.

160-pilgrim-
Sep 14, 2019, 1:20pm

>159 pgmcc: I am fully of the opinion that this is going to be a nightmare.

I was hoping that the "no increases" clause would preclude Amazon passing in the, as yet unknown, administrative costs to you. But you are right, customs duties would still be liable at your end, I fear.

161pgmcc
Sep 17, 2019, 9:11am

>160 -pilgrim-: Luckily books are VAT exempt here. I do not know if the excise duty charge is zero of if there is money to be paid on books on importation from a third country. I have bought books from the USA previously and there were no extra charges so it may not be a financial burden to buy books from post-Brexit Britain. I do know, because it has been broadcast to the general public, that the Customs and Excise personnel will be paying attention to any incoming packages or parcels in the post valued over €20 or €22. Customs agents are based in the mail centres monitoring the mail and intercepting parcels and packets that may require duties to be paid.

162Busifer
Sep 17, 2019, 10:01am

>157 pgmcc: Noooo!!!
And that is despite not having to deal with Brexit to get it: I have fully functional bricks'n'mortar SF/F bookshop not far from where I live. I go there and buy stuff, to keep them in business, rather than buy online.
But to have to wait another 6 months is painful in itself.

163pgmcc
Sep 17, 2019, 10:56am

>162 Busifer: I know. It was a shock to the system. I Tweeted to the author expressing my dismay but she has not responded. :-)

164ScoLgo
Sep 17, 2019, 11:30am

>163 pgmcc: Probably (hopefully) busy editing the book.

165pgmcc
Edited: Sep 17, 2019, 11:46am

>164 ScoLgo: She is. She is also busy tweeting some of the sentences from the book to anyone who gives her a page number.

Obviously she has a low boredom threshold.

166pgmcc
Edited: Sep 19, 2019, 7:15am



I am enjoying my re-read of The Player of Games. It is getting into the main story now and I am having the same experience I have had re-reading other Iain Banks novels; I am seeing so much more in the story than when I first read it. To say too much would be a spoiler. Let me just say that Banks had a great understanding of the world and how it works and how the scenario described in this book, published in 1988, is prophetic. If it were published today people would think it was about current affairs on both sides of the Atlantic. Ecology even gets a mention.

167pgmcc
Edited: Sep 19, 2019, 10:33am

>147 -pilgrim-:

I am 94 pages into my re-read of The Player of Games and would second Busifer's recommendation in post >148 Busifer: and Sakerfalcon's recommentation in post >149 Sakerfalcon: that you start with this book. I am now into the doing things stage of the story having passed through the setting the scene and character introductions. The Player of Games was for a long time my favourite Banks SF novel.

As I have mentioned elsewhere I am getting a lot more from Banks's books on my re-reads; this is only to be expected as I have grown older and more experienced in life. (Note I did not say I have grown wiser, nor did I say I am more mature.)

168-pilgrim-
Sep 20, 2019, 7:00am

>147 -pilgrim-:, >148 Busifer:, >167 pgmcc: Duly noted - and added to my Wishlist. Thank you all.

>167 pgmcc: I am sure that you are maturing like a fine cheese.

169MrsLee
Sep 20, 2019, 9:47am

>168 -pilgrim-: "I am sure that you are maturing like a fine cheese."

Which we all know is full of cultural revolutions and wild activities.

170pgmcc
Sep 20, 2019, 10:26am

>168 -pilgrim-: >169 MrsLee:

“...maturing like a fine cheese.”

Yes. Getting smellier every day.

171haydninvienna
Sep 20, 2019, 12:40pm

But not, we hope, turning green.

172pgmcc
Sep 20, 2019, 2:38pm

>171 haydninvienna: I was born green, so no turning required. :-)

173Karlstar
Sep 23, 2019, 8:19pm

>167 pgmcc: I was going to throw in a vote for Look to Windward, but I'll bow to your more recent experience, Player of Games is a close second for me. I don't actually recall much torture in these books, I must have mentally blanked that part out.

174suitable1
Sep 23, 2019, 11:56pm

>172 pgmcc:
It's not easy being green

175pgmcc
Edited: Sep 24, 2019, 3:05am

>173 Karlstar:
Look to Windward vies with The Player of Games for the position of my favourite Culture novel. The only reason I would not recommend it as a first Culture read is that I believe I got a lot more out of it by knowing something about the Culture before I read it. In my opinion The Player of Games is a better introduction to the Culture universe.

The only other Culture novels that I believe benefit from prior Culture knowledge are Surface Detail and Inversions.

My favourite non-Culture IMB novel is The Algebraist.

176pgmcc
Sep 24, 2019, 3:07am

>174 suitable1:

Riley, there are not many people who appreciate this fact. Thank you for your understanding and support.

177pgmcc
Edited: Sep 24, 2019, 4:27pm

The Player of Games was published in 1988. That is when I would have first read it. At the time I enjoyed the book as a good story and as a story that gave me the feeling of actually being at the games as they were being played. Without the author giving full detail of the game involved I had the feeling of being there and cheering for the protagonist. It was like being fully involved as a fan at a sporting event but never quite knowing the game. This was the attribute of the book that most impressed me at the time; Iain's ability to leave me exhausted from standing watching a game that I did not know anything about.

As I have been progressing through the book I have pictured the description of the "Azad Empire" and its working as a description, as observed from the viewpoint of a totally objective alien civilisation (The Culture), of the monoculture that the modern world on Earth has become. It is not giving any spoliers away by stating that there is a series of games involved in the book (There's a clue in the title.), and now that I am re-reading the book I see strong parallels between these games and The United States of America's presidential election process. In the Azad Empire there are games held every six years and the winner of the games becomes Emperor and all the administrative positions are filled by his/her nominees. The games and people's progress in life, promotions etc..., all depend on one's performance in the game. This is where I see more general parallels to mondern-day life; if one plays the game expected in the social order to which one belongs then one expects to progress or advance in their work and social spheres. It is all about playing the game.

178pgmcc
Sep 25, 2019, 3:21am

I have just read a chapter that describes the actions of secret police and explains why people drink too much. The Player of Games is quite the eclectic mix and contains plenty of food for thought.

179-pilgrim-
Edited: Sep 25, 2019, 5:48am

Just a thought - have you read Vladimir Sorokin's Day of the Oprichnik?

180pgmcc
Sep 25, 2019, 7:15am

>179 -pilgrim-: I have not. You are good with these book bullets. That is, I beleive, the second time in as many weeks that you have hit me. 9 is due for delivery on Friday.

I have read Living Souls by Dmitry Bykov which, from reading the Amazon summary of Day of the Oprichnik, deals with some similar issues. I think Living Souls was an attempt at a contemporary version of Dead Souls by Gogol. Bykov describes how people in the post-Glasnost era are coping with the world. I have an e-text version of Dead Souls which I hope to read soon. Some descriptions of the book I have read appear to support my hypothesis about Bykov's intent.

181Karlstar
Sep 25, 2019, 8:57am

>175 pgmcc: I think I see what I'm missing. I didn't even know Surface Detail existed! Just reading the blurb brings up everything you've said, I probably won't read it. I thought I had a full Banks collection, I see I have work to do.

While I really, really like Player of Games, Look to Windward and Consider Phelbas, I'm not a big fan of the Algebraist. It seemed boring for way too much of it.

182pgmcc
Sep 25, 2019, 9:52am

>181 Karlstar: You are not alone in not likeing The Algebraist. I loved it and was amazed when I saw reviews that regarded it as not up to scratch. I read it as soon as it came out and enjoyed it the whole way through. My favourite element of the book was the floating aliens who lived in the gas giant and who hunted their offspring. I am well accustomed to hating books that many people praise as wonderful and I put this down to everyone being different, liking different things, and getting entertainment from a variety of sources. It is all part of the tapestry of life.

The Hydrogen Sonata was not up to much. I think Iain thought that himself and was a bit saddened that it was his last Culture novel. In his last interview he said he was disappointed not to be leaving with his last book being a great romping Culture novel. My own opinion is that his last book, The Quarry, was an excellent final novel for him; it was like a manifesto of his personal beliefs. He claimed not to know he had his illness until he was withing 10,000 words of the books ending but it was hard not to think he had designed this book as his lasting message to the world.

183-pilgrim-
Edited: Sep 25, 2019, 2:14pm

>180 pgmcc: Hey, just returning fire.... ;-)

Living Souls has been sitting on my TBR pile for a while (unfortunately in a location where I am currently not).

I have not read Dead Souls since a "schools" version in my teens. If the translation that you have is any good, please let me know.

A warning may be in order about Day of the Oprichnik; it is very witty, biting satire, but there are times when it definitely ventures where another writer would not go. My personal view is that those episodes are justified, but it can get rather eye-watering. Given my paean to understatement with reference to 9, I thought this caveat should be added.

184pgmcc
Sep 30, 2019, 10:42am



I started reading Grace O'Malley: The Biography of Ireland's Pirate Queen 1530-1603 yesterday. It is very informative and gives a good feel for life in the West of Ireland in the Sixteenth Century for the Gaelic chieftians, their families, and their followers.

This is non-fiction and is a 40th anniversary of publication edition. As a semi-accademic book it does have some narrative flaws, such as repeating itself in different sections, switching back and forward between incidents. The chapters are basically essays on various aspects of Grace O'Malley's life and are roughly in chronological sequence.

As a person who controlled a fleet of ships and an army that had considerable sway over trade around the Irish coast, and traded between Scotland and Spain, she was very impressive. She even sailed up the Thames to Greenwich to meet Queen Elizabeth I of England to get a few things straight, and came away with what she wanted. The English military leaders charged with suppressing Ireland had been sending back reports about Grace O'Malley the portrayed her as a ruthless outlaw who commanded hundreds of soldiers, had a fleet of pirate ships, and who plundered the west coast of Ireland and beyond. Grace O'Malley wanted to by-pass the military men and deal directly with Queen Elizabeth, something she did with great success.

185pgmcc
Sep 30, 2019, 3:58pm

Friday saw the arrival of 9, a book bullet from -pilgrim-.



On my way home from Birmingham last evening I had a few hours to kill in the airport. W. H. Smith's "Buy 1 get 1 HALF PRICE" offer caught my eye. One book stood out for me, Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. This intrigued me and I had to have it.



Having picked my "1" I had to find the "get 1 HALF PRICE". (Yes, I am a sucker for these offers.) That took some searching but then I noticed The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler. I have not read any Ambler before but I recalled someone here saying good things about his work.



186-pilgrim-
Edited: Oct 1, 2019, 9:17am

>184 pgmcc: Ouch, this is getting painful!

I am well aware of English misrepresentations of Scottish clan structures and society, so would be interested in something that similarly clarified Irish society for me.

>185 pgmcc: I remember The Mask of Dimitrios as the film with Peter Lorre, but have no idea how closely that related to the book.

187Jim53
Sep 30, 2019, 7:15pm

>184 pgmcc: I think you winged me with this one.

188pgmcc
Oct 1, 2019, 4:57am

>186 -pilgrim-: I think Grace O'Malley will meet your requirements in relation to clarifying Irish society of the time.

I do not know if I have seen the Peter Lorre film. I love the characters he plays and must hunt down The Mask of Dimitri film.

Just as a by-the-by I am off to see The Third Man in the Irish Film Institute this evening. It is a 70th Anniversary showing.

>187 Jim53: I hope the wound is not too bad. I am well into the book and am enjoying the content. I think it could have been better structured but one can forgive a forty year old accademic book if it does not flow like a novel.

There is an Introduction to this edition that was written by Mary McAleese, the former Irish President. I am looking forward to reading that. I seldom read introductions before I read the contents of a book.

189-pilgrim-
Edited: Oct 1, 2019, 9:19am

>188 pgmcc: Now I have zither music in my head.

(The film is also called The Mask of Dimitrios - I didn't catch the damage my phone's auto-correct did to what I typed in >186 -pilgrim-:)

190pgmcc
Oct 1, 2019, 9:20am

>189 -pilgrim-: I believe The Third Man theme is the most infectious ear-worm music in the world. I have had it in my head since I bought my ticket on Sept. 21st. I am also humming it to other people.

The Lighthouse Cinema showed the film on Sunday. A colleague attended and was telling me they had someone playing the zither before the film.

You are not alone in having zither music in your head.

191pgmcc
Oct 2, 2019, 5:08pm

Today I received a delivery. Yes, of course it was books. Three books to be precise; two book bullets from here and a work related book.

The first book bullet was from -pilgrim-. -pilgrim- has been very accurate recently where I am concerned.

The book is Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin.



I cannot recall who fired the other book bullet.

It is The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow Apart from anything else the dust-cover is very pretty.



The work related book is The Choice by Eli Goldratt.



192pgmcc
Edited: Oct 3, 2019, 9:14am



Grace O'Malley, or Granuaile (pronounciation guide) as she is better known in Ireland, was a formidable leader who was active over forty years leading her followers in person on excursions for their "maintenance on land and at sea". "Maintenance on land and at sea" was the term used to describe her pirate activities and her raids on the territory of other clans.

This is not just a biography of Granuaile but also an overview of the Celtic way of life that prevailed in Ireland before it was replaced by English rule of law. It is a fitting record of the end of one way of life and the encrouchment of its replacement.

I have finished this book and would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about life in the days of the Chieftains and clans in Ireland. It is written as a biography of a major figure in Irish history at a critical time when the old ways were facing disruption from an aggressive and powerful neighbour. Granuaile was a powerful leader and even took her own ship to London to engage with Queen Elizabeth I in an attempt to circumvent the English military men Elizabeth has sent to Ireland; an aim she managed to pull off.

At the time of her coming to power women were not "supposed" to be in positions of power in the Celtic world. She ignored the standard role women were supposed to play and made her own destiny, taking what she wanted, doing what she wanted, and protecting the interests of her family and her people. She led her pirate bands with sword in hand, and took part in the raiding parties on land. To lead in her environment one had to be strong and to be willing to fight off competitors. Her forty years of active life demonstrates how formidable a lady she was.

193MrsLee
Oct 3, 2019, 9:51am

>192 pgmcc: Bang! Dead to center with that bullet, purchased on Amazon for my Kindle.

194pgmcc
Oct 3, 2019, 9:58am

>193 MrsLee: I do not think you will regret it.

195pgmcc
Oct 3, 2019, 10:09am



In the Introduction, of which I have only read a couple of sentences, this book is described as, "...a bomb intended to blow up the vicarage whodunnit as decisively as the fifty tons of TNT that the eight-year-old Eric Ambler had watched devastate the Silvertown storage depot in 1917*..."

If this book matches this description even in a small way, well then, I am going to enjoy it.

Now, I shall light the blue touch-paper and stand well back.

*This means Eric Ambler was one year younger than my father. It is funny to think of an author in terms of being of my father's age. I suppose I had always thought of authors just as people, but this has caused me to pause and think.

196suitable1
Oct 3, 2019, 10:19am

What is this "work" thing of which you speak?

197pgmcc
Oct 3, 2019, 10:59am

>196 suitable1: Oh dear, did I use a four-letter word ending in K?

"Work", the scourage of the drinking classes.

Yes, some of us still have to endure it. Others make fun of us from the sidelines.

198pgmcc
Oct 3, 2019, 11:01am

>189 -pilgrim-:

I believe I have found the full version of "The Mask of Dimitrios" film on Youtube. I am starting to read the book today and will watch the film when I am finished. I love films of that era and I really love Peter Lorré in films.

199haydninvienna
Oct 3, 2019, 11:45am

>197 pgmcc: To quote Philip Larkin:
“Why do I let the toad Work
Squat on my life?”

200-pilgrim-
Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 9:49am

>198 pgmcc: And, for once, he is not being relegated to the role of generic East European scum. He was a brilliant actor, capable of conveying so much with a single look, and wasted in many of the roles that he was given. (Yes, I am a fan of his too.)

201clamairy
Oct 3, 2019, 7:57pm

Jeez, I missed out on a lot. So envious of your space related conference and the lovely member of the NASA team you got to hang out with. And I love that you met so many fellow members of the GD at WorldCon! Looks like you've been reading quite a bit, as well. Something else for me to be envious of.

>157 pgmcc: I guess I'd better get cracking on The Kingdom of Copper...

202pgmcc
Oct 4, 2019, 3:53am

I am enjoying The Mask of Dimitrios. I find the story to be similar to a Graham Greene novel in tone.

203pgmcc
Edited: Oct 5, 2019, 7:00pm

I have read the short story, No. 252 Rue M. le Prince, by Ralph Cram.

This is a fairly standard tale of the supernatural involving a house inherited from an aunt who practiced black magic, four companions, one of whom owns the house, decided to stay in the house for a night.

204pgmcc
Oct 8, 2019, 2:59am

I am really enjoying Eric Ambler’s The Mask of Dimitrios. The atmosphere is great and the main character being an author gives rise to some internal dialogue as he tried to use his writing experience to work out how to handle a given situation. I was laughing aloud at the sentence,

”Now, at last, he felt very frightened indeed, much more frightened than the character in the book he felt.”

205pgmcc
Oct 8, 2019, 7:28am

I have watched part of the trailer for the 1944 film adaptation of The Mask of Dimitrios on youtube. I am not sure if I have seen it before, but it has Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorré in it, which makes it worth watching for me. I will finish reading the book first and then watch the film.

206Busifer
Oct 8, 2019, 12:14pm

>185 pgmcc: I have been looking at Prisoners of geography but his books has a reputation for shallowness and cliches. Have you had time to more than look at it? I'd be interested in what you think of it!

207pgmcc
Oct 11, 2019, 6:15am

>206 Busifer:
I am sorry I only say your post now. I hope to finish my current read today. I was considering what to read next and it was a choice between Prisoners of Geography and Weapons of Math Destruction. I brought the latter with me, but I will start the Prisoners of Geography first so that I can give you an opinion. The concept of the book intrested me while I was browsing in the airport bookshop. I did not have time to delve too deeply and had not hear anything about it before. I can see how it could fall into the failings you mentioned. I will give you my initial impressions in the coming days.

208pgmcc
Oct 11, 2019, 8:45am

I think I shall have to read more Eric Ambler work. His is not just telling a detective/murder mystery story, but also challenging the readers moral standing, giving them something to think about, questioning what is right and what is wrong, or whether or not these concepts exist in reality.

209Busifer
Oct 11, 2019, 10:22am

>207 pgmcc: Thank you. On the other book you're mentioning I'm really enjoying Weapons of Math Destruction, but I find it a bit painful. It should be a fast read, but I have to just put it down between chapters or the misanthrope hiding deep inside me would force itself to the surface.
A very good read nonetheless.

210pgmcc
Oct 11, 2019, 11:08am

>209 Busifer: That is encouraging.

Forty years ago I was pretty niffty with numbers. I loved statistics and mathmatical models. I could look at a plot of data and have a good idea of what type of mathematical function would be appropriate, make a stab at the formula, and use statistical tools to test the goodness of fit. Chi-Squared was my only love.

Now-a-days I have to take my time calculating my change in a shop and am a bit worried that Weapons of Math Destruction might expose further decay in my ability to do mental arithmetic. The work that I have done in the intervening decades has required little or no mathematical skill or knowledge. I remember being disgusted in my first job as a computer programmer when I was told that the wonderful subroutine I had developed in DIBOL (Digital's version of COBOL) for calculating a square-root would never be needed and was not therefore to be added to the company's library of useful subroutines. Having come from a scientific background and used FORTAN on a daily basis I was shocked and had to sit down. Talk about being disillusioned.

211Busifer
Oct 11, 2019, 11:34am

>210 pgmcc: Do not fear. No knowledge of actual math is needed to understand the book: she describes principles but then focuses on the effects and the ethics of how the math is used. So, I’d sort it under Current affairs, Politics, or maybe even Philosophy rather than under Mathematics.

212pgmcc
Oct 12, 2019, 5:33pm

>206 Busifer:
I started Prisoners of Geography today. I read the Foreword written by the head of MI6. (Talk about ttying to impress.) it was nothing more than an endorsement.

Now I am reading the 31 page introduction. If the introduction is anything to judge by this book might live up to the description you quoted for his other books. I will carry on into the body of the work to give him a fair trial. Then I will execute him.

213pgmcc
Oct 13, 2019, 6:34am



I was browsing Hodges Figgis bookshop yesterday. There was a table on which were displayed several books on literary criticism, writing, and grammar. One of the books, "Into the Woods: How stories work and why do we tell them" (Subtitle in the U.S. is "A Five-Act Journey Into Story". I do not know which subtitle is used in Canada.), is one I enjoyed immensely and have discussed it here several times.

As I shifted my attention to books on another part of the table someone picked up the top copy of Into the Woods. I thought to myself, "I hope she buys that. She will be in for a treat."

She put it back on the pile.

My heart sank. She was depriving herself of a great book by someone who is very knowledgeable in the field and who has a no bullshit approach to his topic.

"That is an excellent book," I told her.

"Is it?" she asked in an Eastern European accent.

I went on to describe the content and how it covered stories of all sorts and the telling of them in all forms of media; novels, fairy-tales, films, etc...

She said that it was something she would be very interested in and said she would buy it.

Then she said, "You have given me a recommendation; now I will give you one."

She brought me to the fiction shelving (which covers three walls of quite a large room. @Haydeninvienna knows the place. It is where we met up on his visit to Dublin.) and plucked Flights by Olga Tokarczuk from its shelf and put it into my hand.

"This is a wonderful book. It won the Man Booker Prize."

She was so full of enthusiasm I took the book and am looking forward to reading it.

I am only sorry we did not exchange some form of contact details so we could let one another know how we got on with each other's respective recommendations.



Melmoth by Sarah Perry slipped into my hand as I was heading to the till. There are a couple of reasons I picked it up. Firstly, and this is my self justification element as opposed to the non-rational purchase impulse aspect of the transaction, Perry claims to have been inspired to write this story by reading Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin, a book I read and loved and have been threatening to write an essay (I would say "review" but I have so much to say about it I have to admit it would be an essay) on since I finished it, and I have been curious about how good or bad a job she did of the task. When the book came out I noticed that a new edition of Melmoth the Wanderer came out at the same time with and introduction by Sarah Perry. This put me off as I thought the new edition of MoW was simply a tactic to associate her new, shiny, much shorter book, with MoW and Charles Maturin. For that reason I did not by Perry's Melmoth at that time.

Secondly, the copy of Perry's book I picked up yesterday is smaller and handier than the original format and it jumped up and shouted, "Hey, Peter! You were going to buy this at some stage. Now would be a good time. You are heading to the till and you are only carrying one book. Wouldn't it look better if you had a second book. The other book is a recommendation from a stranger you just met and if she sees you buying only one book and it is the book she recommended she might feel she has forced you into spending money just to be polite."

With such persuasive arguments how could I possibly resist?

214haydninvienna
Oct 13, 2019, 8:39am

>213 pgmcc: I do indeed know that place. It's expensive but fun.

What you should have given your recommendatory lady was a brief but forceful description of LT.

215pgmcc
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 3:35am

I just deleted a post here about the book Prisoners of Geography. The post contained my comments on the book, which were positive, but as I had only reached half way through the section on Russia I was mistaken in some of my comments regarding how up to date the content is. The edition I am reading was revised in 2019 and it would appear additional material was worked into the end of the section.

216pgmcc
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 3:35am



My review:
An intelligent murder mystery entangled with espionage and presented in a beautiful noir atmosphere. Written shortly before the outbreak of WWII this book includes all the confusion of a Europe still recovering from turmoil of WWI and of displaced people trying to build life for themselves amid the tenseness of national governments uncertain of what the future holds. This is the first Eric Ambler story I have read but it will not be the last.

That review was something I threw together to get a positive message out about this story. I loved this novel. Eric Ambler was obviously extremely intelligent and he understood not just the motivation of individuals but the working of governments, corporate entities, and criminals. This book is full of philosophy and it challenges the reader to question what is right and what is wrong, or whether these words have any meaning at all. It reminded me of the cartoon in which a young boy tells his father that he is going to go into a life in organised crime for a career. His father's response is to ask, "Public or Private sector?"

I am certain someone in the Green Dragon mentioned Ambler before. I cannot remember who it was but I support anything they say about his writing being good and well worth investing time in.

217Busifer
Oct 14, 2019, 4:30am

>213 pgmcc: ...and then of course she has been awarded the Literature Nobel Prize, just last week. I'll look forward to your review, her books sounds more promising than such books usually are (to me, at least).

Also, encouraged by >215 pgmcc:. I hope it holds!

218pgmcc
Oct 16, 2019, 4:43pm

>217 Busifer:



I have read the sections on Russia and China. Currently reading the section on the USA.

I am finding it interesting and informative. The content falls into the category of "common sense" but if you haven't thought about the topic will be new to you.

I find it is dealt with at what I would call a documentary level. It is not an academic book but it is interesting. While the premise is that geography dictates the actions of nations the content shows that it strongly influences a nation's actions, but that other factors will influence the nation's actions or success its success with those actions.

219Busifer
Oct 17, 2019, 5:04am

>218 pgmcc: Not as shallow as I feared, then. That is good. There's a map and travel bookshop not far from me, they have had it displayed in their window for some time. Now I might actually go buy it :-)

220pgmcc
Edited: Oct 21, 2019, 10:10am

>218 pgmcc: I am finding Tim Marshall's section on Europe a little off. He appears to be taking quite a superficial view of the reasons behind the Brexit vote. He is attributing things to EU laws that are the result of local UK law.

Obviously pinches of salt must be taken with each bite sized piece.

221-pilgrim-
Oct 21, 2019, 10:36am

>220 pgmcc: I felt the same way about his section on Russia.

222pgmcc
Oct 21, 2019, 12:06pm

>221 -pilgrim-: I think it is not totally unbiased, but then again, what is.

As with everything one reads this book requires a sceptical mind to challenge points and establish the truth. I am still enjoying the book. It is filling some gaps in my knowledge, but where it presents opinion I am looking on it as a viewpoint rather than definite fact.

I am reading the section on Africa at the moment.

As I said earlier, it is a documentary level book and should be considered as such. The documentary presenter obviously has views on the world so his inferences, often stated as facts, need to be complemented with some consideration and questioning.

223-pilgrim-
Oct 21, 2019, 12:45pm

>222 pgmcc: I felt that it was written by someone who had a very superficial knowledge of a wide range of topics.

That, of course, is better than ignorance (such is true of myself for a number of them), but he seemed to mistake his superficial overview for genuine understanding - which made me wary as to how misleading the sections were on fields about which I know little or nothing.

I took it as a valuable reminder of the fallibility of our news reporting. It is not necessary to postulate any deliberate attempt to deceive: skimming this made me aware of how wide a poor reporter's area of "expertise" is expected to be - and hence the likely limits to the actual insight possessed.

As you say, bias is everywhere and unavoidable; it it best acknowledged and openly expressed. I am less tolerant of opinion when conflated with, and stated as fact.

224pgmcc
Oct 21, 2019, 4:45pm

>223 -pilgrim-: Hear! Hear!

225pgmcc
Oct 21, 2019, 6:23pm

I attended a lecture about recent discoveries about Bram Stoker and his research for both Dracula and other works. The lecture was given by Dacre Stoker, the great grandnephew of the famous author of the most popular horror book ever written.

It was very interesting and I will tell more at a later date.

226Busifer
Oct 22, 2019, 10:27am

>223 -pilgrim-: Hear, Hear! There is no such thing as an "objective" and "unbiased" viewpoint. EVERYTHING is subjective. What I can't stand is when opinion, or "insights" based on limited or faulty (or outdated) knowledge is presented as facts. This happens all too often. What I want to know is: how aware of this is Tim Marshall?
I'm not sure that I have time to spare for someone whose oversight or lack of knowledge will drive me up the wall...

227Busifer
Oct 22, 2019, 10:28am

>225 pgmcc: Oh, definitely interested to hear more on that!

228pgmcc
Oct 22, 2019, 11:20am

>226 Busifer:
Some of his sections are being overtaken by events as I read them. This edition was published in 2019. His comments on the Kurds is fairly up-to-date as he says they are in the process of being abandoned. The past month has done a lot to date his comments on the Middle East and the UK. His comments on the Kurds and Syria are however proving quite prophetic. He has certainly predicted the Turkish involvement, which some say would not be very difficult to predict.

He also presented the USA as losing interest in the Middle East due to having discovered and started to exploit the oil-shale reserves back home. His argument is that the USA has its own home-grown energy reserves and as such is happy to leave Syria and other Middle Eastern countries to Russian influence. This concept also indicates that there is not going to be any great motivation for the US government to hold back on fracking and to protect the environment. If anything, his argument is supporting the old isolationist strategy of the US and reliance on its own resources. This would explain several actions of the current US government.

Above comments are description of book content and inferences drawn from such. They are not promoting or denigrating any particular political viewpoint or actions.

229pgmcc
Oct 22, 2019, 11:39am

>227 Busifer:

Marsh's Library is the second oldest working library in Europe. It is an amazing place and, of course, has its own ghosts.

Several famous people worked in this library including Bram Stoker, author of Dracula and other Gothic works, and Charles Maturin, author of Melmoth the Wanderer.

At one stage in its history the library keeper realised some books were missing. As a library that did not lend books to the public, but rather facilitated people's reading of the books on the premises and only people who have been vouched for as good and proper people to use the library, it was quite a shock that some books were missing. From that time on the library recorded the visitors to the library and the books they read. As a result, the current keeper of the library was able to identify seven dates on which Bram Stoker visited the library and what he read on those occasions.

Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, has been doing a lot of research into Bram's work and his research. By looking at Bram's notes and the books he read in Marsh's Library, he was able to identify a second source for the name "Dracula". To date one source in Whitby library has been identified as containing the name, but now we have a second.

There were many such gems in the talk and Dacre related the finds to other finds in the London library.

All-in-all it was a pleasant evening with an audience of about thrity people who were all interested in Dracula and Bram Stoker.

Having had the talk it was fascinating to make our way back through the old library and browse the exhibition that is currently on display. The exhibition consists of a number to display cabinets showing the books Bram Stoker referenced during his visits to the library. Each one is open for inspection and a card beside it states the date on which Bram accessed the volume and gives information about the type of thing it contains that has found its way into Dracula or one of his other stories.

On a general point, Marsh's Library is a must visit site for any bilbiophile visiting Dublin. You can access the library's website by clicking here.

Looking at you, Haydninvienna, if you haven't already been there.

230haydninvienna
Oct 22, 2019, 12:03pm

>229 pgmcc: (hiding face in shame) ....

231pgmcc
Edited: Oct 22, 2019, 12:13pm

>230 haydninvienna: Is it in the Atlas Obscura? If not, it should be.

ETA: I see now that yes it is.

232-pilgrim-
Oct 22, 2019, 12:21pm

>229 pgmcc: Duly noted.

233pgmcc
Oct 22, 2019, 5:32pm

For those of you interested in what Bram Stoker read in Marsh's Library when he was doing research for Dracula I present the link to the on-line exhibition of the books concerned.

https://www.marshlibrary.ie/digi/exhibits/show/haunting

234MrsLee
Oct 22, 2019, 5:40pm

>223 -pilgrim-: Thanks for the link!

235-pilgrim-
Oct 22, 2019, 5:48pm

>233 pgmcc:, >234 MrsLee:

Yes, fascinating indeed. That is another trip that I envy you, Peter.

236pgmcc
Oct 23, 2019, 9:55am

>235 -pilgrim-:
The library forbids the taking of photographs but its website provides plenty of images of the inside of the building and the books therein.

In addition, if you are a fan of "Foyle's War" you might be interested to know that the Marsh's Library was used as the location for filming meetings with a German spy in the season in which Foyle is recruited by MI5. That episode also has a scene in which a car explodes that was filmed opposite my wife's family home.

237pgmcc
Oct 23, 2019, 10:10am



I received my pre-ordered copy of John Le Carré's latest novel, Agent Running in the Field and was disappointed to see the dustcover so badly damaged. The book is winging its way back to Amazon and a replacement copy is due to be shipped.

Disappointing.

238Karlstar
Oct 23, 2019, 10:18pm

I'm glad you sent it back. They can be very careless with packaging sometimes.

239pgmcc
Oct 24, 2019, 5:10am

>238 Karlstar: I was looking forward to reading this book but I was so disgusted by the damage I decided to act immediately.

The worst thing about returning an item is the fact that some overworked underpaid warehouse operative is probably going to suffer for this damage, rather than the Amazon executives who are driving costs to the bottom without consideration for staff or quality.

I have noticed Amazon reducing packing costs by moving from bubble-wrap to paper, and now no paper, only tightly fitting packaging.

Rant over for this morning.

240Busifer
Oct 24, 2019, 10:24am

>228 pgmcc: Thanks. Sounds like I might enjoy the book, after all!

>229 pgmcc: Oh, sounds like a must-visit!

>237 pgmcc: Wow, that's just terrible! But as you say in >239 pgmcc:, some poor soul will probably have to suffer for a decision that probably was devised by someone who knows nothing about logistics but everything about financial KPI's...
(I realise that this last part is on the verge of being too political for the pub, but really, Amazon...)

241pgmcc
Oct 24, 2019, 10:28am

>240 Busifer: I think that everyone who uses Amazon suffers in the same way so your comments are apolitical. By the way, I do not think that discussing cost accountants constitutes "politics" under the terms of the Green Dragon Agreement.

242-pilgrim-
Edited: Oct 24, 2019, 10:37am

>239 pgmcc: I have usually received books from Amazon simply I folded cardboard shells. I have never had any bubble-wrapped. Occasionally, more recently, they come in padded envelopes.

That said, I have never received a book as badly damaged as yours.
Adding rant:
My pet peeve with Amazon is that they never pack their Pantry orders well. So it is quite common for a bleach bottle to become loose and leak its contents. Amazon then replaces the defective bottle, but often insists that the food and skincare items, whose packaging is now soused in bleach, are safe to use, and refuses to replace.

243pgmcc
Oct 24, 2019, 10:52am

I seldom buy much else from Amazon other than books.

They had an interim solution between bubble-wrap and crushed up brown paper. I suppose you could call it buble-wrap but bubles were about the same size as most books.

244-pilgrim-
Oct 24, 2019, 11:34am

>243 pgmcc: I think I know the stuff you mean: it is what they pack the Pantry orders with.

245Busifer
Oct 24, 2019, 3:04pm

>243 pgmcc: I remember that one.
I deliberately try to avoid Amazon. In the mid-90's they were great, I found so many books that were unavailable to me from Swedish retailers. It was even worth every 3rd order getting stuck in customs with 25% tax getting added (this was when Amazon was an US-based operation). Now I want to support local businesses as far as I can.

>241 pgmcc: Well, some people think that is how the world ought to be run, so... but I do agree with you.

246suitable1
Oct 24, 2019, 5:34pm

>241 pgmcc:

So, I wonder if cost accounts have a "base"?

247YouKneeK
Oct 24, 2019, 5:36pm

Whenever I buy a book from Amazon, it comes to me in bits. :(

I am of course referring to digital bits. More seriously, I haven’t really had any packaging problems with Amazon, but I can’t think of too many easily-damaged things I’ve ordered. I don’t really order many liquids or pantry items because in my area most things I’ve compared have been more cheaply available at my local grocery store. I’ve ordered a fair number of electronic things over the years, but they’re always well packed by the manufacturer already so that it doesn’t really matter too much how Amazon dumps it in the shipper carton.

I would just like auto-dissolving boxes. I want the boxes to vanish after I unpack the product. I hope somebody is working on that.

248-pilgrim-
Oct 24, 2019, 5:49pm

>247 YouKneeK: Yes, Pantry is not cheap when compared to local shops. However they do deliver what you have ordered, whereas ordering from local grocer's risks them deciding to omit essential items, which you only find out are not coming after the fact.

Using double crutches makes carrying groceries back myself not a viable alternative - at least until I have mastered growing some extra limbs!

I am not fond of Amazon:s business model. But they do provide a service that other suppliers have withdrawn.

But overpacking is a separate issue. It is wasteful, as well as making breakages more likely.

249YouKneeK
Oct 25, 2019, 7:03am

>248 -pilgrim-: And many places don’t even have local options for grocery deliveries. I certainly didn’t mean to imply the service couldn’t be useful, I was only explaining why I personally don’t use it and therefore haven’t encountered those types of packing issues.

I personally use the pickup option at my local grocery store (Kroger), which works well for me. For an extra $5 I can order all my groceries online, which takes mere seconds for items that I purchase regularly and allows me to browse options for other things from the comfort of my home when I want to try something new. Then they collect the groceries, bag them all up, and dump them in my trunk for me when I show up at the scheduled time. I know a lot of people would rather pick out their own produce, but I don't consider myself a very good produce-picker-outer, so I think they do a better job than I would. They allow you to specify whether substitutions are allowed for each item, which I usually allow and have had the chance to try some new things that way. In theory they will text you ahead of time with proposed substitutions so you can accept/reject them, but they haven’t gotten that process fully hammered out yet. Otherwise, you can accept/reject when they bring the groceries to your car and let you know if they had to substitute anything. They have a delivery option also, but it’s a bit pricier ($15 I think, plus tip) and not something I personally need so I’ve stuck with the pickup option.

250-pilgrim-
Oct 25, 2019, 9:37am

/>249 YouKneeK: I think the option to be consulted about cancellations/substitutions would make a big difference. Delivery costs are significant, as are the minimum order requirements, so putting in a second order to get the missing items is not an option.

And I have mostly given up on ordering fresh produce to be delivered by my local store. They routinely send me the stuff which is in 1 day if it's "use by" date. Home deliveries are a convenient way for them to make use of the produce that customers actually in the shop are unlikely to select.

I regret the passing of the genuine local corner shop, where they knew you personally, and so knew which items in your weekly shop were essential, and so ordered them in for you.

I suppose the other point is that, however annoying Amazon may be, they do provide a niche service that their competitors don't.

251pgmcc
Oct 25, 2019, 10:13am

>249 YouKneeK: & >250 -pilgrim-:

I do not use home delivery for groceries often, but when my wife is away on holiday with the car I do not have much option. I use Tesco. I generally ask for no substitutions but forgot to tick that box last night. Yes, I ordered last night for delivery tonight. Yes, this does mean my wife is away on holiday with the car. At this very moment she is somewhere between Cherbourg and Caen with my youngest acting as navigator.

I have to say that the service is convenient. The delivery people are always pleasant and very willing to bring the boxes to wherever I want them put.

252-pilgrim-
Oct 25, 2019, 11:30am

>251 pgmcc: I have had delivery people range from the extremely charming and helpful, to the guy who arrived late because his dispatcher had given him the wrong address (and he only discovered this after) unloading, who took out his frustration by taking every single item out of my crate, and hurling them individually, with some force, onto the floor beside my front door, before cursing at me and storming off! (Luckily, in his temper he had forgotten that he needed my signature on acceptance of the order, which I refused to give until he had taken back all the damaged items. It still meant that I had to go without, until I could place a new order, though.)

As my grandma used to say; it takes all sorts to make a world.

253pgmcc
Oct 25, 2019, 1:29pm

>252 -pilgrim-:

You have had some dreadful experiences with people.

>251 pgmcc:
I meant to say that when I order perishable goods on-line from Tesco they have a minimum days remaining for the items they deliver.

254-pilgrim-
Oct 25, 2019, 3:13pm

>253 pgmcc: I used to think that I was unlucky, but then I realised that it is quite logical. Why does someone behave badly like that? Probably because they are fed up with being ordered around in a poorly paid job, and feel powerless.

They will not risk behaving that way with a customer who is likely to respond by lodging a complaint and cancelling their dealings with the company. Or even with someone who might respond by getting in their face and retaliating with equally aggressive behaviour.

So, that small minority who need to bully someone else in order to feel less powerless themselves, will choose the disabled woman to vent their temper on, because they can see clearly that I am reliant on their services.

in this example, they know that I will still have to place another order next month, regardless - and as long as I don't actually stop ordering, their bosses will not care how many complaints they receive. Aggression towards me is therefore a low risk substitute behaviour, whereas yelling at their boss (or even an average q customer) could be expected to have consequences.

I don't think that they hate me more than the rest of their customers. I am just the one towards whom they can express their temper with impunity.

255-pilgrim-
Oct 26, 2019, 7:13am

My apologies for philosophising your thread. (You are welcome to take your revenge by doing the same on mine.)

256pgmcc
Oct 26, 2019, 7:44am

>255 -pilgrim-: I see nothing to apologise for but I might take that revenge, just because. :-)

257-pilgrim-
Oct 26, 2019, 7:50am

*,rubs hands together in gleeful anticipation*

258pgmcc
Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 6:25pm



This is my second Eric Ambler, Journey Into Fear. It is living up to the flavour and atmosphere of the first, which was, The Mask of Dimitrious.

The image of the cover is nice but I have a difficulty with it. I am reading this on the Kindle app and the cover is no more than an electronic image. I still long for a physical book with this cover on it. I am such a traditionalist.

259MrsLee
Oct 27, 2019, 12:23pm

>258 pgmcc: Because when you read on the Kindle, you hardly ever see the cover, whereas a physical book gives you the pleasure of the cover every time you open and close it, not to mention when you pass by on your way to other tasks you have to do besides reading. Then, when you finish the book and put it on your shelf, you still get enjoyment of the cover and it brings back the memories of the story when you see it. I am a traditionalist as well, and proud of it.

260pgmcc
Oct 27, 2019, 1:04pm

>259 MrsLee: I am happy to say we are at one on this matter. :-)

This topic was continued by 2019 book reading by PGMCC - Volume V.