The Adjacent by Christopher Priest, science fiction writer on the literary end of the spectrum.
Starts out well with an interesting concept. A mysterious weapon is annihilating areas of space. The narrative jumps between different times, notably the second world war and the near future, where the Islamic Republic of Great Britain is struggling with climate change and an unspecified insurgency.
The IRGB isn't quite as Ukippy as it sounds: rather than a horrific dictatorship it's mostly a rather bumbling bureaucracy. There are some nice details: "Temperate Storms" since you can't call them hurricanes outside the tropics, the Mebsher armoured vehicles used for transport. There are some haunting details to the WW2 stuff too. I loved the image of the heartbroken female Polish transport pilot, who dreams of the day she's asked to fly the ultimate plane, a lightweight unarmed reconnaisance Spitfire, and when she finally gets the chance just flies it out to see.
However, the plot doesn't actually come together in any satisfyingly coherent way. It also gets a bit self-referential in a kind of late Heinlein way. Because the weapon is vaguely-understood-quantum it turns out the same events can be different depending on point of view. Different characters turn out to be the same character only quantum different. And the weapon turns out to beam people into the world of Priest's Dream Archipelago series only wiping their memory somehow. Overall, if you like Christopher Priest; or have a high tolerance for plot incoherence and doomed romance, it's worth a read. Otherwise not really recommended.
What I'm Reading
The Hard Way by Lee Child is a rather lacklustre entry in the Jack Reacher series. The mystery is very obvious. The antagonists are set up as formidable, but prove to be remarkably easy to get rid of. Best parts are Lee Child's descriptions of Britain and Britions. (Child is a British writer writing about American characters, and to me at least he seems to mimic an American writer uncannily well.)) Overall, for completists only.
Socioeconomics. The abolishment of serfdom was followed by a sharp increase in agricultural productivity, the living standards of peasants, and industrial development. Why are the older generations richer? Robots and skills? The fall of the skilled worker. The decline in on-the-job training.
The supporters of affirmative action, in other words, want the oligarchy that runs and owns the U.S. to be a rainbow oligarchy. The opponents don’t mind (might even prefer) something a little more vanilla...Frankie Boyle on offence and free speech.
The economic function elite colleges perform is to separate the few winners from the great mass of losers in American life and the function of both racial and economic affirmative action is just to make sure that everyone believes those winners are chosen fairly. What the dispute’s about, in other words, is what color the elite will be and whether or not a few more of them will come from working class families, not about how to diminish the gap between them and everybody else. So whoever wins, the vast majority loses. And this is true not only of affirmative action but of all the commitments to anti-discrimination that have come to occupy the center of American social justice.
There was a piece in the New Statesman recently about Tim Minchin, breathlessly titled "The Satirist Who Ran Out of Upwards To Punch". Now I love Tim's shows, but he'll probably have been surprised to find that he's the apotheosis of political comedy because he... delivers "a nine-minute beat poem called “Storm”, featuring a narrator at a north London dinner party getting increasingly angry with a tattooed hippie ... he berates her for her credulousness. The rant takes in psychics, homoeopathy, auras, star signs, spiritual healers and religious prophets."Germany's new far right.
You might have imagined that routines "punching up" against the big targets of the day would have to involve the international banking system; the arms industry; or even just the fact that the entire world is about to disappear screaming under boiling waves. To the well trained ear of the English middle classes, an authentic target is more likely to be something like "star signs".
Articles. Witch-Hunt Against "Fake" Female Hearthstone Player Discredited. Understanding Kim Jong Un (economic reformer?) Category structure and oppression:
The "bird" category has (somewhat culture specific) internal structure. For example, most Americans will agree that a robin is a better example of a bird than an albatross, and an albatross is a better bird than an ostrich. (And while bats are not birds, they are better birds than horses are, and horses are better birds than refrigerators are; so the gradations continue to some extent outside the category boundary).
Pics. Fight or Starve: 1925.
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