Monthly Archives: November 2015

And Then a Bomb Went Off…

Also a recommendation at the bottom…

I was lamenting the utter lack of anything real happening in the second book of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series yesterday – look below ya, son. Reading this morning of two characters sitting on a bench discussing something (very Star Wars prequel-like) while another person left a steam room a little way away from them. One of the characters that was seated proceeds to approach the steam room (I think it was a steam room) when a bomb goes off…

Now in real life that is never good news. In a novel that has seen almost no action in some 260 pages? Hurray! Science fiction isn’t some boring French lit where people sit at bus stops pondering the meaningless of an existence that they’ve demanded have no meaning. No, this is science fiction, boys and girls. No, it doesn’t have to be pulp with nothing but endless action and damsels being pulled from danger. But it has to have action. You gotta move it along. Unless you are going very deep, philosophically into some dense metaphysics or something, I’d say there better be some action at least every 40 pages.

There are tons of “literature” out there, garbage dump proportions where nothing ever happens and people discuss their feelings or impressions. My wife attempts to read these things every once in a while, usually on the recommendation of a friend, and usually never makes it past the first hundred pages. I would think it is just as much a factor that the sense of life in those works are absolutely abysmal as well as the fact that nothing happens.

A bomb went off. Hopefully that will keep them from standing around in endless discussion for a while.

RECOMMENDATION:

Centipede Press is a small publisher in Colorado that is publishing all of R.A. Lafferty’s short material (sorry, boys, no news on the long works. But, I swear to God I will read the Elliptical Grave before I step into mine!).

They tend mainly to horror, the quirky, and Weird (weird as genre). The link above is to their Authors page. If you are into science fiction, fantasy or horror, you will recognize more than just a few names on their roster. They even have Salvador Dali!

One writer I’ve wanted to check out for a time is Anne Herbert (she also has to be the cutest damned thing to ever pick up a pen…) . Her book, Children of the Black Sabbath, is said to be one of the best horror novels ever written (and not just by Centipede!).

She is said to have a very unique voice. That is a rare treasure in James Patterson’s ALL BOOKS SHOULD BE WRITTEN TO SELL 45 TRILLION COPIES era.

As a lover of horror, she had me at the title. There is William Hope Hodgson, author of the The Night Land which inspired one of my science fiction favs, John C. Wright, to pen Awake in the Night Land.

C.L. Moore, one of the first female writers of science fiction. The list goes on and on.

A lot of these author’s works you can find at the book store cheaper (Lafferty is one of the exceptions, it’s Centipede or rummaging through a slew of old books and magazines). But these are special books. You can go get a copy of Tim Power’s The Anubis Gates anywhere, but you won’t find an super cool copy like Centipede’s. Who wouldn’t want Theodore Sturgeon’s Some of Your Blood?

What about Gene Wolfe’s mega-masterpiece Book of the New Sun series? Don’t try it, they’re sold out – hopefully just for now. Talk about an infinitely re-readable book. Talk about a man that can hide the beams. They’ve got the work Bob Eggleton – great art work.

They have one of my top favorite science fiction writers, Fredric Brown. What they have here is his lesser known (if you’re a science fiction fan, if you’re a mystery fan, his science fiction is probably less know to you) mystery works.

Anyway, if you like your literature a little to the left, and maybe down a ways to that creepy little shop whose only entrance is at the end of a dark alley, Centipede press has got you covered, perhaps in sores, on that note.

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Ancillary Sword

Ag, I can’t seem to get through the second book in Leckie’s Ancillary series! The first one was good, solid. I didn’t even mind the whole gender thing because she had story to back it up.

The second book, however. Oy. I only have 100 pages to go. But the whole thing has been people standing around basically talking etiquette, feelings, and tea. Jesus, what happened? Oh, and then there is this person, who you can’t be sure the sex of, that wants to sleep with this person, who you can’t be sure the sex of, but is treating this other person, who you can’t be sure the sex of, badly.

Suddenly I don’t know if I’m reading a very dull lesbian space fantasy where no one actually sleeps with each other but talks mores and stuff?

There is supposed to be a galactic war on, sinister alien sabotage or conspiracy, etc, etc. All this super-cool stuff that was built-up in the first book – and right now I witness to some subordinate to the fleet-captain talk to a horticulturist about her feelings.

Has anyone read this series to the end? Does it ever get out of Jane Austin goes to Space and Bores Me?


The Value of Hume

I was, during a break, thinking a bit of C.S. Lewis’ On Miracles, when I had a sudden bit of potential integration that I can do nothing with at the moment. In one of the early chapters he is talking about the limits of experience. This was in relation to a naturalist approach to universal explanation. Basically how wide the naturalist abstraction is compared to the personal evidence that can conceivably support it.

As a philosophy with any positive value, Hume’s seems out the gate to be a piece of mud. However, mud has its uses. His shattered, fractured universe is quite useful when we think about the edifices that people stand on unknowingly. How much is assumed, unexamined, unexplained, even unrecognized, from one instance to the next instance.

Immanuel Kant was, historically, the man who attempted to put Humpty Dumpty back together after Hume busted him up…

Few people go through life terrified that the car they are traveling in will suddenly cease to exist right out from under them, or that the ball they are throwing will turn into a dragon and burn them where they stand. But why shouldn’t these things happen? If these things do not happen, surely, some lesser things of the same nature happen all the time? Should we fear that they could happen but just haven’t, at least not in our personal experience?

Why not? These are pretty easy questions in philosophy. Or, rather, such questions have been part of philosophy for millennia. But what about whole world-views? What part of it is blind faith on the part of the holder? And how much is derived from things they can actively demonstrate?

What can one stand on? How much of your views of the world, of the nature of things, of people, politics, right and wrong can you account for? And how much of it is words put together without referent, without ground?

I think most people would be astounded to find there is very little they can account for. And little of that they can piece together. What is your experience of a house but the Continue reading


The Strangely Evolving Library

home-library-shelves-11

The above is not a picture of my library. Mine is spread out to every corner of my house, with the main concentration in the office/jam room (and even that is spread out) and includes an equally extensive digital library. I’ve been trying to split the difference between hardcopy and digital because when all you do is read, moving becomes a real bitch.

My library looks nothing like it did 5 years ago. Gone are all the Ayn Rand books. And most of the books on economics and government. I don’t pursue arguing those subjects any longer. And the two subjects are like geometry, once you know them, you know them and they ain’t going to change.

And in came C.S. Lewis and my quite extensive Catholic collection. Have I ever bragged how big that collection is? It is over three hundred volumes at least. It might be over four hundred. Not to forget my growing Bible collection. I like me some good Bibles. However my collection of that will be very little Catholic in the end. The poor souls don’t have a good rendering. They have translated it into the flatness of modernity.

I’m looking for a good leather copy of the King James version with apocrypha. I think I might get the 1611 edition – go real old school.

And of course during the last five years I started another collection as I discovered my favorite author R.A. Lafferty. I never really had a favorite author before that (maybe Stephen King as a kid). Rand never really counted as she was dead and her fiction output was quite small. And she had that mid-20th century lack of color and word play that you find in such authors as Steinbeck or Hemingway or Sinclair. That bare-bones matter of fact Americana.

Lafferty didn’t push anyone out, but he certainly added color to that shelf!

And now I’m noticing, because I’m in school that the shelves are evolving again. Anytime I’ve been in school (and I have been in one form or another off and on forever) I have never stuck with only the material provided in the class. It is like only getting your news from FOX if you’re conservative or MSNBC if you’re liberal although much more innocent.

My course only consists of two medical books for: Medical Terminology, Pathophysiology, Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology. The books they sent although I’m sure are good enough to cut the mustard, just leave more questions than they do answers. So, from those two books I’ve added Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, McGraw Human Anatomy 3rd edition, and Human Anatomy and Physiology. That’s an additional four thousand pages, mate! I think I’ll have to update my DSM as it is the 4th edition and they are up to 5.

The two Anatomy books may sound like a redundancy, but remember what I told about news sources. The principle works just as well with cut and dry presentation of facts.

I just wish I found medical stuff more interesting. It is not a subject that gets me excited. It is interesting as most things that are not sports are, but it is not philosophy nor theology, son.