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Diary
By aphrael (Thu May 05, 2011 at 03:13:04 AM EST) (all tags)
It's been a good day, mostly - work was a bit rough, because I'm dealing with a new product on new hardware and my primary contact hordes information and is not helpful (and not interested, it seems, in camaraderie with his coworkers), leaving me feeling clueless and like an idiot. But this will pass ... and since i'm currently a hired gun brought in to help some other team, I can put on my mercenary hat and, beyond not liking feeling like an idiot, not care.

Inside: finals, not caring about politics, spring books.



My first final was tonight - election law. Functionally five questions - one dealing with preclearance under VRA section 5, one dealing with a challenge to at-large districts under VRA section 2, one dealing with the constitutionality of a measure to ban (local) campaign contributions by foreign corporations, one dealing with the single-subject rule for initiatives, and one dealing with the substantial compliance rule for minor technical errors in initiatives. Just over 5k words written in two hours (I finished early. so did half the class.)

I got the "polished draft" on my paper (finished in the immediate post-coachella no-sleep zombie mood; I think the last 5 pages of the 32 are crap, and I ran out of time for an entire section about how the ninth circuit handles the issue under discussion). The prof's comments boiled down to: this was really well written, you could probably just paginate it and turn it back in as the final. (Thanks, I think. I hate it when I'm harsher than the reviewer is, because it makes me think the reviewer isn't doing their job or being honest. Still, nice to get that kind of feedback from an authority figure, it will reduce my nervousness as I finalize it in a week).

I'm finding it unusually hard to care about politics and the news. (FFS. the news is still going on about OBL.) I had a moment of obsessing over election results Monday night, because obsessing over election results is an independently fun thing to do, and because I care about Canada more than I care about any country other than my own. But otherwise ... I can make it through the newspaper, maybe. But I have no desire to listen to NPR (and am listening to the local corporate modern rock station instead, when not to headphones), and my reading has shifted almost entirely to fiction and not history.

It's even so bad that I didn't vote in an election this week. It was a minor election - a local, mail-ballot only election, to elect a new county supervisor; the old one had resigned to become the county clerk. The issue with this is that because the county is sandwiched between two large cities, the county really doesn't have its own media market - no tv, radio, or newspapers really local to the county, so there's very little coverage of local issues. To really understand county supervisor stuff, I need to do a lot of research on the net, and go to candidate debates, etc ... which is hard to factor in while working and going to school, particularly hard in a month where i'm away for a week at a music festival, and somewhat pointless when i'm moving out of the county in four months and so really just don't give a shit. So ... I didn't vote. I didn't even bother to send in the unvoted ballot as an undervote (which would cause my voter record to show me as having voted). I just ... couldn't be bothered to care.

Which ... is the first time in my adult life that's been true. It feels wierd. It feels wrong, as if I've somehow betrayed myself. And yet. I really don't give a shit who the new county supervisor is. It's been more than 24 hours since the election, and I haven't even checked the results.

----Feb/Mar/Apr books

I haven't been reading much new. I've been rereading a lot of stuff I've read before - the robots & empire series, some of the stephen king stuff i liked, the four lords of the diamond series (nowhere near as good as i remember), the first dozen anita blake novels (trash, but fun), the Foundation novels, Battle Circle ...

But I've read some:

The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss

I loved the Name of the Wind, so it was only  natural that as soon as I knew about the Wise Man's Fear, I ordered it, and it arrived, a giant hardback, the day it was published. (I'd ordered it before I bought my kindle).

It was good. Perhaps not as good as the Name of the Wind, but it held up well, far better than many second books I could name. IT was entertaining, and kept my attention throughout.

And yet.

The underlying presumption of the story is that something big must have happened to Kvothe, to drive him into hiding and to set the great sense of despair which looms over him. And yet, at the end of book two, there is nothing that looks like it might be setting the stage for that. It's not clear that there is room in book three to set that up ... and worse yet, the structure of the series suggests that book three has to end with something which resolves the problem, which causes Kvothe to snap back into the world. Some realization which cures the despair. It's even harder to see how there's room for that.

All of which is to say: book 2 was good, but I'm really, really worried that book 3 won't be able to pull off the conclusion in a way that makes the entire trilogy satisfying as a whole.

The Land of Painted Caves, by Jean M Auel

This book is, I think, the paradigm example of why I'm worried about Rothfuss. The Clan of the Cave Bear was awesome, the immediate two sequels were pretty good, and the last three books have all sucked. Painted Caves sucks for two completely unrelated reasons. For one thing, the writing quality has deteriorated, and it almost feels as though Auel is going through the motions rather than writing stories she finds compelling about characters she loves. For another ... there's an overpowering sense of ennui and disappointment; the earlier books suggested that Ayla has a grand destiny, which just doesn't pan out in a way which justifies the fanfare. :{

Immortality, by Kevin Bohacz

I'm embarassed to admit that I remember virtually nothing about this book. I read it in a blaze (a day or two, if I recall correct - it was back in February). I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it, but it left no lasting impression, which can't possibly be a good recommendation.

The Enterprise of Death, by Jesse Bullington

This was a highly entertaining light fantasy involving a lesbian necromancer placed under a horrible curse, and the friends she met along the way of trying to free herself from it. A deep, compelling, moving novel it wasn't; it was, instead, a fantastic, amusing romp. :)

Hounded, by Kevin Hearne

Technically a May book - I just read it yesterday, based on a recommendation from Scalzi's site. It was another fun romp; a fun romp involving an ancient druid living in Arizona. It was everything I wanted Norse Code to be and more. :) (Plus, the picture on the front is cute.)

The Half-Made World, by Felix Gilman

The best novel I've read so far this year. It's a travesty that it wasn't nominated for a Hugo. (Particularly since Blackout/All Clear was). It's a fascinating, fantastic mystery set in a peculiar world with well-drafted magical elements. Somewhat bizarrely given the title and the fact that the world in question is, well, half-made, it's the worldbuilding which truly made the novel. (I'd tried Gilman before and disliked him - Thunderer seemed like a failed attempt to imitate China Mieville - but in this book, Gilman has really hit his stride, and the novel was simply awesome).

The Native Star, by MK Hobson

Steampunk is in this season. Steampunk zombies are particularly in this season. Dreadnought was the epitomy of this a year or two ago, although the sequel failed to hold my attention. The Native Star is a fine implementation of that this year - better than Dreadnought in my mind, because the world is more interesting and complex, the view of America more detailed, and the story more deeply layered. I loved this book enough that I ordered the sequel on spec, as soon as I knew it existed.

The Hidden Goddess, by MK Hobson

This wasn't as good as The Native Star, but that's not unusual. It took a bit to get into, to fall back into the rhythm of the story, and the complexity of the story seemed periodically overwhelming. And yet, by mid book, the story was engaging, and the ending was well thought-out and well executed. :)

The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and The Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan

These were entertaining light (juvenile) fantasy. The first book was particularly good, and as normal the second and fifth were less compelling (books 3 and 4 were unreadable due to formatting issues).

Breakthrough! How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions, by Jon Queijo

Meh. The stories were interesting pop history-of-science. But the book was .. how shall I say it? A combination of too light, with some nasty internal contradictions, and it left me with a general sense of wondering how well sourced it was. Not a good trait in a history book. But what can I expect, really, for free kindle books?

I haven't finished a single history book in this time (other than Breakthrough); I haven't even really gotten more than a fifth of the way through one. History requires too much concentration for what I have to spare right now.

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Blathering and books | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Hounded by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:25:45 AM EST
I added that to my Amazon wish list yesterday so I wouldn't forget about it. I'm kind of bummed that there isn't a Nook version (yet), but with your recommendation (and the Big Idea bit on it), I'll likely get it in paper version if it's not available for the Nook by the time I'm ready for another book.

I'm part-way through the audiobook version of Wise Man's Fear. I'm already -- not all that far into it -- having the worries that you have. I felt like Name of the Wind, no matter how entertaining, didn't really go anywhere. There were hints, but mostly, it was just an enjoyable, if somewhat rambling, campfire tale (and I liked it enough that I got the sequel as my audible book last month). After your comments, I'm even more worried that the series isn't going to be particularly satisfying as a whole, but the journey is probably going to be fun nonetheless.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin

Canadian election by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu May 05, 2011 at 01:31:09 PM EST
If you like I can give an executive summary.

I feel like I already know by riceowlguy (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu May 05, 2011 at 04:18:48 PM EST
all I need to know about The Wise Man's Fear: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/4/11/

grand destiny by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri May 06, 2011 at 10:32:28 AM EST
I always figured the Grand Destiny was fulfilled in a very Mills 'n Boon kind of way. She got the blonde, blue eyed hunk and that was it.

I am remembering now how much those books irritated me. Especially one particular scene where she falls into a glacier and instead of a proper reaction (panic or action would have done) she's obsessing that the colour of the eyes is the colour of blonde dude's eyes. Gah.

damn typo by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri May 06, 2011 at 10:32:59 AM EST
Colour of ice -> colour of eyes.

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