Print Story Sharq attack
Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 09:11:02 AM EST) Reading, Watching, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Incandescence". Watching: "Hancock". MLP.


What I'm Reading
Finished Incandescence by Greg Egan. Greg Egan is amongst the hardcore of hard SF writers, even famously contributing to a paper on quantum cosmology.

Incandescence is a novel with a thoroughly worked-out high concept. An genetically-engineered alien civilization lives in an artificial asteroid in an accretion disk, their environment dominated by tidal forces within it. Egan's homepage has a helpful article and Java simulation of the physics involved (warning: SPOILs the surprise of the gimmick).

However, I think Egan might have got a bit too close to his research to see things from the readers' point of view. I found it very difficult to visualize what was going on from verbal descriptions of things that should be diagrams. He also uses neologisms that make it even tougher to read. He uses the direction words rarb, sharq, shomal, junub, garm and sard when north, south, east, west, up and down would have made it much easier for puny humans to work out at least what's opposite to what. (I assumed it was some kind of 5-dimensional universe at first).

The plotting and character are pretty perfunctory. Usually Egan does a better job than this., but none of the characters are strictly human, so maybe he felt it was unnecessary.

On the plus side, there is quite a lot of nerd interest in seeing the gimmicks unfold and watching the aliens rapidly repeat the history of science and mathematics, developing algebra, calculus, discrete simulation, astronomy and semaphore from scratch.

Overall: flawed, but if you want the geek equivalent of a test-your-strength machine, this makes a good challenge.

Egan page, patronizing Adam Roberts review. My old K5 article.

What I'm Watching
Saw Hancock at the cinema. (The superhero movie, not the legendary comic actor.)

Also had mixed feelings about this one. I always like it when they try to do something a bit unexpected in an action movie: gets a bit dull with things like Iron Man where practically count down to every plot development. Whereas with Hancock, I definitely had a "whoah, didn't see that coming" moment.

Even so, the movie suffers from a odd mixture of tones, with slapstick humour followed by attempts at deep sentiment. Also the CGI's nothing special (though the crunching landings are nice), and the action a little weakened by mismatching and lack of clarity over what his powers are at any given moment.

Overall, well worth watching if you're pretty able to suspend disbelief. Otherwise will cause much sneering from the sneer-inclined.

MLP
Via MeFi: SFW porn Warning: NSFW, despite the name.

News of the Obvious: children don't make you happy.

Top tip: I'd never found the Daily Mash that funny, but it works a lot better as an RSS feed, since the spoof stories tend to follow the real ones quite quickly.

Random
I think the Brown era is working out a lot better for satire than the Blair era, partly because Brown seems so utterly humourless. (Remember Blair's finest hour.)

Of course, economic woes and media hatred help too.

< THusiStock: Day 1 | Lots of change >
Sharq attack | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Cant recall if it was diaspora or terranesia by cam (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 11:58:33 AM EST
but I found one of those difficult to read for the same reasons.

cam
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

(Comment Deleted) by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 02:51:52 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by ObviousTroll



Hancock (second try) by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 02:52:38 PM EST
I agree - Hancock fell a little short because it couldn't decide if it was a farce, a black comedy or a drama. The villains were laughable until, suddenly, they weren't, and the power level thing was inexplicable. My son drew an interesting connection with Hancock's obsession with eagles, though, he thinks Hancock was Jupiter.

--
Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had it when I came in here.
Okay, I surrender. by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 02:53:15 PM EST
Obviously spoiler tags are too complicated for me to master.

--
Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had it when I came in here.
[ Parent ]
((spoiler what you want to hide)) by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #9 Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 02:01:49 AM EST
like this

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
((yup)) by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 03:17:22 AM EST
But not ((spoiler: xxx)) and, when copying and pasting from one version of a post to another, the spoiled text gets un-spoiled.

--
Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had it when I came in here.
[ Parent ]
Aha by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 10:39:46 PM EST
That eagle idea is interesting.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Reading by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 05:19:01 AM EST
Reading your husiary points out to me that since 1/1/08 I have read zero books and only bought two.  I blame my job which takes up too much time and doesn't offer a good work-to-life balance.




---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
Suggestion by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 03:21:26 PM EST
Public transit + reading on public transit.

Or if you are forced to commute in a car: audible.com.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
I'm in the US not in a major city <n/t> by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 12:41:42 PM EST





---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Films by Herring (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 09:57:48 AM EST
I think Hollywood has got a Surrey thing going at the moment. First of all, I see posters for a film about Leatherhead then on the side of a bus "Will Smith - Hancock" - with the Cheam thing. I was also thinking "Hey man, what you doin? That's nearly a motherfucking armful." I don't doubt that someone else has got there before me.

That was a bit random.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

Have you read by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 02:06:38 AM EST
Dragon's Egg and The Integral Trees?

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

I loved the Integral Trees by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:54:11 AM EST
Or big chunks of it.

I read it when I was about 14 though, like most Niven I'm afraid to revisit it now.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
His short stories hold up well by wiredog (4.00 / 2) #13 Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 06:02:37 AM EST


Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
I just reread Ringworld by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #16 Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:45:46 AM EST
It held up better than I expected.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I liked the Integral Trees a lot by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 09:00:39 AM EST
Though I haven't read it in a long time... like Scrymarch, I'd be a bit wary of going back to it.

I've heard of Dragons' Egg, but I've not read it yet.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Sharq attack | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback