Galactic North by Alastair Reynolds is a collection of short stories set in the Revelation Space universe. I haven't been able to get in to short stories much lately: I think I've got too reliant on plots to keep me reading, but managed to get through this one pretty quickly. May have to start on the stack of fiction-unread Interzones.
Liked this collection a lot. A lot of them are fairly dark and gothic, with nifty set-ups and gimmicks. If you're used to the series it's also nice to seem glimpses of things only alluded too: the inside of a Conjoiner drive, the aftermath of the war on Mars.
Definitely worth reading if you like the series. Not sure how intelligible it would be if you haven't.
What I'm Reading 2
How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard. Irony-drenched book by a French literature professor.
Not much actually helpful advice on the subject, as you'd find in a Bluffer's Guide or Molesworth. Instead he wants the reader to consider books as social objects, existing in a web of associations in people's minds. Seems like a limited version of Baudrillard: even if you can't accept that reality isn't real, you might accept that books are just mental constructs.
Hard to know how serious he is about there being a cultural pressure to appear to have read Important Works of Literature. Presumably it exists amongst literature professors; not sure if he seriously thinks it exists in the rest of the world.
If only it were true that people respected reading, rather than thought of it as unbearably pretentious, effete and boring. For one thing I could give up this blog and just talk to people in real life about it, instead of huddling on the Internet with the other perverts who share the vice.
Does have some interesting metafictional anecdotes, where he describes various satirical setups relating to unread books.
Overall, seems a bit pointless. Doesn't seem to consider that anyone could have an individual response to a book, appreciating a point, event, character or theme that hasn't made it into the collective consciousness.
Having that wisdom tooth out tomorrow. I fear. I had a couple of teeth out under general anaesthetic when I was a kid, but I've never had any work done, even a filling or anything, since then. And all I knew then was that I was awake and my teeth had gone.
Update [2008-9-18 13:48:46 by TheophileEscargot]:
Why haven't I seen anyone calling for the return of old-fashioned building societies?
The whole point of them was that they would allow ordinary folk a source of credit at a time when banks wouldn't lend it. Surely a credit crunch should make them more viable?
In retrospect, it may not have been that great a move for them all to turn into banks to take advantage of complicated new financial instruments.
And they're a good old bottom-up, trad socialist self-help kind of thing.
Light bot programming game.
Heartwarming? Fat doctor: Do the right thing.
North Sea Oil has not funded the Scottish spending gap, despite Scottish Nationalist claims to the contrary. In only five of the last 23 years have North Sea Oil receipts exceeded the cost of higher funding paid to Scotland.The Politics of Schadenfreude:
Frustrated by the campus climate and skeptical of anti-Bush claims that struck me as outlandish, I did a foolish thing: I let my preference for who would win the presidency be influenced--though not wholly determined--by the emotional satisfaction I’d get from seeing people who annoyed me lose the election. Of course, the candidate I preferred on the issues did win. But my behavior as a voter sent the message that an unimpressive man, drafted by the party apparatus, could help his chances at being elected by provoking hyperbolic criticism and cannily taking umbrage. The Bush Administration exploited that tactic to such spectacular, damaging effect later on that I am loath to admit my complicity in the schadenfreude, even all these years later.
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