Jan. 22nd, 2010

perlmonger: (books)
I changed the bed today (hey! that sounds like it should be the first line of a song), and used the opportunity to finally measure the tilt on the bedroom floor, chocking up Mac's side until the spirit she say "level". Turns out the floor tilts just a tooth short of 3cm over the width of the bed, so that's two leg extensions I'm going to have to cut.

This of course takes no account of the other strange distortions in the floor geometry that make going to the toilet of a night feel like I dropped a tab a couple of hours earlier. If there's a single level surface or right-angled corner in this house, I've yet to find it, though the only eldritch sounds in the night thus far have been the responsibility of the Tribe. This may change.

2010.4 Superluminal, Vonda N. McIntyreSuperluminal, by Vonda N. McIntyre
Another re-read after years, and I got a lot more out of the book this time round; I noticed flaws in the writing - beautifully written detail and a fine overall structure, but distinct shakiness in chapter-level execution, particularly in the first third - and the distinctly dodgy dimensional detail description (though how abstractions like those could have been described better escapes me), but the shortcomings were more than made up for. It's a good story, damnit, with excellent characterisation, and what I didn't even notice in previous readings was the transparent inclusion of women and PoC throughout. Not something that should be of note of course, but even now, 27 years later, it's depressingly rare. What's also rare, and achieved here, is a story that forms a beautiful whole; that ends well without in any way either feeling abrupt or awkward (Neal Stephenson take note) or tying events up into an artificial conclusion: the story continues on for all the protagonists, but the reader is left happy with the final period, and free to imagine what might happen next.

The book is refreshingly short of villains too; the characters who behave in unsympathetic ways do so for human reasons, and the Administrators merely behaved as they inevitably would in the real world - the one we meet in the narrative is as human and multidimensional (and even sympathetic) as any other well-meaning person constrained by the structures in which they operate. In fact, the only negative (if glancing) portrayal is of the US, and their relationship to and treatment of the Divers; that one rings true too.

So. Not a profound exploration of the human condition, but an enjoyable novel well worth its re-read nonetheless, and recommended.

In other news, we dragged ourselves to the cinema to see Avatar in its full 3D glory, and glorious it indeed was. The visuals truly are extraordinary, and the structure and execution of the film succeed in transcending the thin story, the multiple borrowings, the plot holes and the racefail. I find myself agreeing with pretty much everything I've read about the thing, positive and negative, but overall it's an incredible experience, and I'm glad that I've experienced it. Roz Kaveney's review sums the whole thing up better than I ever could, articulating my own thoughts and feelings in the process; that, along with this splendid metacontextual analysis (ahem), really say all that need be said.


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