Print Story A heavy bassline is my kind of silence
By TheophileEscargot (Wed Mar 16, 2016 at 01:14:12 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Watching (all tags)
Reading: "This Census-Taker", "Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits". Watching: "Ant Man". Links.

What I'm Reading
This Census-Taker by China Mieville. Very short novel about a child whose parent is accused of violence. I thought it was superb, probably my favourite of his books. It's a disturbing account of a childhood warped by damaged and dysfunctional parents.

The basic story could be set anywhere, but here it's set against the background of society that is also damaged and broken by an unspecified apocalypse. One of the great pleasures of science fiction is a sense of hinterland, that the story you're reading is just a tiny part of a vaster world and history. In this book Mieville offers lots of tiny hints at a wider story: a devastating war, a framing device where the author is writing this account as a prisoner that is never resolved, tropes of the old world ties, interns instead of apprentices given a romantic significance. However the big picture is never explained.

Often when the hinterland is explored, it turns out to be a disappointment: the Butlerian Jihad and the Clone Wars can never be as interesting as the hints about them. So I was glad about the lack of detail, but others might find it frustrating. It also makes a contrast to the elaborate worldbuilding of Mievilles earlier books like Perdido Street Station: it's like a landscape painter taking up miniatures.

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful book, with a dysfunctional relationship echoing a dysfunctional world. But not everyone will like it.

What I'm Reading 2
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong. The author of "John Dies at the End" and "This Book is Full of Spiders, Seriously Dude Don't Touch It" tries his hand at near future science fiction. A barista living in a trailer park finds that her estranged father has left her something in his will, which takes her on a trip to the libertarian desert city of Tabula Ra$a where rival mafias do battle violently in fancy suits.

Pretty good with some poking fun at libertarians, and lots of action-comedy as in his other books. Some of the lurid violence feels a bit much though, especially when directed at women. I enjoyed it but not as much as Spiders. Not suitable for anyone triggerable though.

What I'm Watching
Saw Ant Man on disk. Decent enough Marvel universe movie about a minor hero with the superpowers of shrinking to ant size and controlling ants. Lightweight fun with a few nice action/effects sequences. Very formulaic plot without even much variation on the themes. At least it doesn't suffer from the power mismatch other recent Marvel movies have hadThe final battle has two characters with the same shrinking powers, but one with laser guns and the other an army of ants. Entertaining but not essential viewing.

Socioeconomics. How to write a budget. "There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students".

Articles. Polish milk bars. Marx's Ethnological Notebooks. Effect of creative writing classes. 11 rough sleepers killed after sleeping in bins in last 5 years.

Random. Were mice a problem for Georgian Big Hair?

Politics. ICM/Guardian poll shows Labour level pegging, Guardian doesn't publish it, other papers suddenly discover margins of error. Will polls overestimate Labour? Tories borrow more than Labour over last 70 years, since 1979. Liberal feminism. Dani Rodrik on Democracy and international treaties. "The goal of the neo-liberal consensus is to manage the decline".

Video. History of the Batmobile Parachute Pickup Service Van. Sixfinger.

Sci/Tech. Fukushima five years later. Analysing coder pictures. Febuary breaks temperature records.

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A heavy bassline is my kind of silence | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden)
Fake milk bars by Dr Thrustgood (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Mar 16, 2016 at 02:17:02 AM EST
Hah, I'd never heard them called that before, and it seems like a bit of an unfair term, as they're the bare minimum more expensive and  pleasant than the "real" milk bars, who I'd be kinda tempted to say are the ones really taking advantage. As ever in Polish fiscal politics, the only people who know the real answer are those handing out the manilla envelopes.

E.g. 2 course lunch with fruit drink - kompot -  at a "real" milk bar will be somewhere around 10zl, ~2 quids. Lunch at "fake," maybe 12zl for the same,  ~2.40.

Real or fake, they take the place of other options in a culture that doesn't really do sandwiches, and whose lunchtime takeaway market is still developing.

For a homemade-quality meal at rock-bottom prices (remember I'm quoting London-equivalent prices above), they're hard to beat.

yep by ks1178 (4.00 / 1) #7 Wed Mar 16, 2016 at 09:47:32 AM EST
I don't think I've ever been to a "real" milk bar in Kraków. I was told the real ones shouldn't even have tables, maybe a place along the walls to set something down at most, as they want you to eat and get out.

But yeah, I would say most basic fair places that serve lunch around here are based on that model, where you can get a bowl of soup, a main, and some sort of "salad" side (usually shredded carrots, or some sort of shredded cabbage) and some potatoes, for about 12 zł to 15 zł.

But even when I asked my coworkers they had a hard time being able to say where "real" ones actually are, and what makes the difference between a real one, and all the other places. This is the first I had read about the subsidies, but that makes sense.

Thanks for sharing the link.

[ Parent ]
The Hint of a Hinterland by darkbrown (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Mar 16, 2016 at 04:20:47 AM EST
Disgruntled that they're not from the same root now. Totally agree about the hints though. So often resolving the hints in books is disappointing.

China Mieville by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Mar 16, 2016 at 08:28:51 AM EST
I have read almost all his works. They're great world building books, like you note: you never get anywhere near a full picture. My biggest struggle is that you also never get any resolution. There is no denouement. You read, read, read (and his works don't generally read fast), and get to the end, and are always left with a "that's it ? What about _ or _ or _  or ... ".

(Kraken is probably his only story that really had an ending .. )

(and for the lack of edit) by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #4 Wed Mar 16, 2016 at 08:29:29 AM EST
but, I will keep consuming his books. Even knowing I'll be disappointed in the end, the journey is just so good.

[ Parent ]
What about the City & The City? by darkbrown (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed Mar 16, 2016 at 09:35:58 AM EST
That ends properly doesn't it?

[ Parent ]
gotta get that one next from library by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #8 Wed Mar 16, 2016 at 10:19:41 AM EST
and see... (like I said, glutton for punishment because I love the worlds he creates, even if I'm always left disappointed and wanting.. )

[ Parent ]
Have you read his "Dial H for Hero" from by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Mar 17, 2016 at 12:35:47 AM EST
DC? Pretty good stuff, but ended too soon.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Fukushima +5 years by ana (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Mar 16, 2016 at 09:01:27 AM EST
Thanks for the link.

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

A heavy bassline is my kind of silence | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden)