November 27th, 2015

blackhat

(no subject)

Two weeks of out of the usual activities! Travel led to much media consumption.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, via Audible. It took me a while to get used to Celeste Ciulla's reading performance. She was careful in her intonations as Breq, the AI, and I first found it off-putting. I slowly realized how valuable it was for me: i would have read Breq's speech rhythms as my own (as best fit the writing) and would have not had the somewhat alien experience. In retrospect, I deeply appreciate hearing the book read to me as enriching my experience. The theme of guilt and setting things right was quite engaging, particularly in a text that is aware of privilege, both of the reader's world and the created world . While the narrative ends with plenty of room to explore more of the universe, i'm not sure how led i am to follow Leckie in her further explorations.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, via Audible. Listening Length: 31 hours and 55 minutes.
I listened cross country, and i'm still in the pre-cataclysm period. I've found the Neil deGrasse Tyson character just a *touch* distracting. I hadn't put a name to the entrepreneur character. Other reviews say Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. Richard Branson came to my mind, although I think he has better people skills than the character in the book admits to having. I think i will listen at higher speed if i ever want to be finished with it.

Portal by Eric Flint & Ryk E Spoor, via Baen. This is the third in a trilogy that i did feel led to complete. (Perhaps because it was clearly a trilogy as opposed to a series.) Both the first book (Boundary) and Seveneves address the NASA vs corporate space flight question in a way that makes me wonder why it didn't seem to come up in The Martian. This third book continues, resolving the international (underhanded) competition narrative, and brings to a closure the arc of discovery. There's certainly MUCH room for the discovery to continue, and it nags at my mind: why would you leave now? But the narrative has a strong reason for the closure it provides. Indeed, i suspect it would take inhuman endurance for the characters to stay focussed on the discovery and not on their own physical needs (such as for some time in gravity!)

Valentine & Hart Books by Missy Meyer, via Kindle. I found her husband's kinda Mary Sue-ish Magic 2.0 series to be peasant geeky diversions, so i thought i would give this series a try. It's a fun conceit, and the "bad misleading government" narrative might give way to something with a bit more grey, but i don't think i will read any more in the series.

Tanyth Fairport Adventures, by Nathan Lowell, via Kindle. Unlike the Valentine & Hart series, i will read more of Nathan Lowell's Tanyth Fairport. Clearly set in a familiar context where women have gendered restrictions, the narrative provides for those women to be recognized by me as having strength, wisdom, and creativity without the addition of the supernatural. The supernatural is introduced, but in a world where the magic is expected to have been in the past. I look forward to the unfolding of how Tanyth comes to understand her experience. I enjoyed Lowell's Solar Clipper Trader Tales a great deal, particularly due to his attention to the practical details. I joked about how many times in the Solar Clipper tales that characters put their coffee cups into the dishwasher. Here, too, characters do dishes and attend to mundane practicalities in a way that seems natural to the narrative and delightful to this reader.

2001: Space Odyssey : It leaked out to Christine i'd never seen this. Thus, last night we watched. There were a multitude of places where visual designs reminded me of other movies (Star Wars), movies made after this one came out. That, and some of the visions of the past-future, were fun to reflect upon. Ma Bell videophone booths were entertaining, after using FaceTime a short time before with my sister's family. Paper instead of tablets, the formal dress of scientists (insert hilarity here). The inside of the earth to space station shuttle plane looked like the insides of current airplanes -- except empty. The lack of crowds and noise and bustle in the concourse and the empty spaceliner seats to the space station seem implausible. (The cost of extras, i wondered?) I often think of movies as being short stories: this seemed more like a poem. The last 25 minutes or so has a great deal of visual special effects. I wish i knew how it felt to see those effects in a world where they were done prior to computer animation. (It's similar to my wish to know what it felt like to experience the opening notes of Led Zeppelin I's Good Times Bad Times) The color palette and different effects are now familiar from Tron , Doctor Who, and countless other movies and shows. What did it feel like to be in a dark movie theatre to see that for the first time?