Truisms Over the Years

Posted August 17, 2016 By Jandy

The Bone Is Pointed by Arthur W. UpfieldIn the first half of the twentieth century Arthur W. Upfield wrote an Australian mystery series featuring Detective-Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte. Bony is a half Aborigine with dark skin and bright blue eyes.

I recently started one of the Bony novels that was published in 1947, The Bone Is Pointed. Bony is talking to one of the large ranch owners, a white man in his 70s. The man is startled when he meets Bony and starts interrogating him. Bony’s response:

“My career as a detective, following my graduation from the university at Brisbane, would take a long time to describe in detail. In this country colour is no bar to a keen man’s progress providing that he has twice the abilities of his rivals.

We still hear that saying kicked around today, 70 years later, for most minorities including color and sex. I can only hope someday the statement won’t be true any more.

     

Science Fiction Happening Now

Posted August 3, 2016 By Jandy

Bionic people? Yeah, we’re working on that.

Check out the book I’m reading, We Have the Technology: How Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, and Scientists Are Transforming Human Perception, One Sense at a Time by Kara Platoni.

We Have the Technology by Kara PlatoniI’m on the third chapter, Vision. Platoni starts the chapter with the man who has “the Model T” eye. He’s one of a few people in a medical clinical trial with an electronic eye implant that helps him see. He only sees black, white, gray, and flashes of light, but that’s more than he could see for the prior 17 years.

Since I’m not in the field, I didn’t know a fifth taste had been identified and added to the four I knew. Besides sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, we also have umami or savory. (School kids may know this now, but the newest sense became official long after I got out of school.) That’s in the Taste chapter. Platoni has chapters on the five basic senses, then moves on to what she calls the Metasensoory Perception – time, pain, and emotion.

Her final section, Hacking Perception, moves firmly into the world that once was only in science fiction. She discusses virtual reality, augmented reality, and new senses. People have augmented their senses for centuries with devices – glasses and watches are a good example. Here we will find the people who go further – watch out for those bionic people I mentioned.

I’m only about a quarter of the way through this, but We Have the Technology is fascinating. If you want to see science fiction becoming real science, read Kara Platoni’s book.

(And yes, I do read some nonfiction.)

Link to Amazon.com Books

     

Changelings, werewolves, vampires, fae (not cute fairies, but dangerous fae) and other mythical creatures create nasty, bloody battles. Patricia Briggs revels in them in her Mercy Thompson series. It’s scenes like this, though, that keep the books from getting too dark and make the reader laugh out loud…

“…the house phone rang.

‘I’ve got it,’ called Jesse. I heard her voice as she answered the phone, but didn’t catch what Fire Touched by Patricia Briggsshe said. Then she called brightly, ‘Hey, Dad. Baba Yaga is on the phone for you.’

I followed him into the kitchen, where Jesse stood with the handset. She gave it to him. Then she looked at me and raised her eyebrows in an exaggerated fashion that made her eyes bulge, and mouthed, ‘Baba Yaga. Really?’

I nodded and mouthed, ‘Really.’

She hugged herself and, as she passed by me on her way out of the room, she whispered, ‘Now how many people have gotten to say that? “Hey, Dad. Baba Yaga is on the phone for you”?'”

From Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

     

In Praise of Bound Books

Posted June 12, 2015 By Jandy
 

Book ShelfRight now I’m reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. It is a memoir of his mother’s life after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer that has spread. This is a terminal diagnosis. There are lots of thoughts to ponder in this book. This one tickles me and is a good definition:

“One of the many things I love about bound books is their sheer physicality. Electronic books are out of sight and out of mind. But printed books have body, presence. Sure, sometimes they’ll elude you by hiding in improbably places: in a box full of old picture frames, say, or in the laundry basket, wrapped in a sweatshirt. But at other times they’ll confront you, and you’ll literally stumble over some tomes you hadn’t thought about in weeks or years. I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me. They may make me feel, but I can’t feel them. They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight. They can get in your head but can’t whack you upside it.”

Book I often talk about the feel of holding a print book. An electronic book just isn’t the same. But that electronic book weighs less in the suitcase than five to ten print books. Plus I can get an electronic book any time I’m ready to start it, even if I purchase it or borrow it from the library at midnight. That print book, though, sits in that pile waiting for me, shows off its cover when I’m reaching for a different one in Mt. Bookpile, or has Nora Roberts’ or Jim Butcher’s or Connie Willis’  signature in it, or sits on the shelf showing off a complete series waiting for me to read it again (Are Amelia Peabody or James Herriot calling my name? When I have time…).

Schwalbe captured the feelings quite well.

     

Book Review: The Paper Magician

Posted June 11, 2015 By Jandy

by Charlie N. Holmberg

When sheThe Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg finishes Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony Twill wants to be a Smelter magician. Although she is at the top of her class, she isn’t allowed to choose. Instead she is assigned to be a Paper magician. Paper! That is such a weak classification, nothing like working with metal. But it’s either accept the Paper bonding or give up magic completely. She doesn’t want to become a household servant so she accepts the position.

Master Magician Emery Thane is one of the few remaining paper magicians in the world. He takes Ceony as his apprentice. He has an animated paper skeleton as his butler and makes a paper dog to keep Ceony company. She quickly learns the art and precision of folding and how to animate her creations. An incorrect fold will ruin the whole design and prevent the magic from working. He teaches her how to bring stories to life while reading a book.

Ceony is on her own for a few days while Mg. Thane takes care of Magician Council business. Shortly after he returns, his arm injured, another magician appears in their home.

Read more…

     

Book Review: One Thousand White Women

Posted June 7, 2015 By Jandy

One Thousand White Women by Jim FergusOne Thousand White Women by Jim Ferguson
5 stars

Chief Little Wolf of the Cheyenne Indian nation met with President Grant with a proposition for future peace in the United States. The Cheyenne believe that all children belong to the  mother’s tribe. He proposes that the President provide 1,000 white wives to the Cheyenne. All babies born to these women would belong to the white race. Thus the two tribes of peoples would merge peacefully.

Although President Grant refuses initially, the program gets surprising support from women across the country. May Dodd, a Chicago socialite whose father had her locked in an insane asylum, is one of the women in the first group of volunteers for the grand social experiment. They are representing their country by joining with the Cheyenne. May keeps a journal of her travels.

Read more…

 

     

Doctor Who and the Importance of Reading

Posted May 28, 2015 By Jandy
 

Every Doctor Who fan knows that the Doctor believes in the power of books and reading. Us readers appreciate the different references. There is the giant library where the Doctor and Donna meet the shadows – and the Doctor meets River Song for his first time (and her last time). Clara gets trapped inside the Tardis when it is taken for salvage. She spends part of her time in the library, learning about the Doctor’s past.

Doctor WhoTonight, though, I’m rewatching “Angels Take Manhattan”. The Doctor is reading Melody Malone’s book to Amy when they realize it was written by River Song. She is trapped in 1930’s New York with Rory. Amy starts reading ahead to try to find Rory. The Doctor grabs the book away from her because it’s dangerous.

Amy: “It could help us find Rory.”

Doctor: “And if you read ahead and find that Rory dies? This isn’t any old future, Amy, it’s ours. Once we know it’s coming it’s fixed. I’m going to break something because you told me that I’m going to do it. No choice now.”

Amy: “Time can be rewritten.”Book Shelf

Doctor: “Not once you’ve read it. Once we know it’s coming it’s written in stone.”

Ah, the power of reading…

     

Book Review: Blue Labyrinth

Posted May 12, 2015 By Jandy

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childby Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is spending a quiet evening at home with his ward, Constance Green, when someone knocks on the door. By the time Constance gets to it, the person who knocked is gone. Instead, a dead body lays on the door sill. Pendergast chases after the car pulling away from the curb but is unable to catch it before it disappears into New York City traffic. This leads him into a hunt that takes him to California, Brazil, and back. The killer leaves specific clues that lead him to dead ends and questions.

When a man is found dead in the New York Museum of Natural History, Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta is assigned the case. The man, an assistant in the Osteology Department, was killed and hidden to a side area. He wasn’t important in the ranks of the museum, nor did he appear to have any obvious enemies. The last encounter he had had was with a visiting professor studying a skeleton of a Hottentot male from the mid 1800s. D’Agosta presents the case to Pendergast, knowing the agent’s interest in odd cases.

Read more…

     

Book Review: Bride of the Rat God

Posted May 3, 2015 By Jandy

Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly

LBride of the Rat God by Barbara Hamblyos Angeles in the 1920’s is a combination of artificial Hollywood glamor, open spaces, rich and poor, Prohibition and speakeasies, parties, and small town Los Angeles. Norah Blackstone’s sister-in-law Christine (stage name Chrysanda Flamande) brings her from a low paid lady companion’s position in England to be her assistant.

Norah’s life has completely changed. After the death of her husband in the war and her family to the flu a few years later, Norah was left bereft. The only position she could get was with an older, stingy woman with a lecherous son. Now she lives with Christine, a Hollywood star at Colossus Studios. Norah takes care of Christine’s Pekingese dogs, stays with her on the sets, accompanies her to parties and lives with her.

Christine kept a fabulous necklace she was given from her last movie. Norah catches notice of an elderly Chinaman trying to talk to Christine. He claims the necklace is haunted by the Chinese Rat God who will try to kill the actress.

Read more…

Thanks for the recommendation, Karmen.

     

Book Review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Posted April 30, 2015 By Jandy

Golden Son by Pierce BrownBrutal. Compelling. Violent. Intriguing. Golden Son shakes up beliefs and emotions.

Born a Red, Darrow had worked in the mines of Mars. The human classes were distinct and divided by color. When his wife was arrested and hung by the order of the Golds, he almost gave up. Then he was able to join a revolution to help bring down the caste system. He went through painful surgery and training and has become a Gold himself. In Red Rising he proved himself as a strong, fierce Gold.

Three years later, Darrow is a disgraced lancer for the House Augustus, ruled by the man who ordered his wife’s death, Nero au Augustus. He is still strong and crafty but is considered a nonentity…

Read more

     

Allowing Character Growth

Posted March 27, 2015 By Jandy
 

image descriptionOver the years J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) has allowed her In Death characters to change and grow. Even so, some things are expected. Eve Dallas, the main character, is the one who catches details. Delia Peabody, promoted to detective now herself, is the foil for Dallas. That’s what is expected and what works in these novels. Now I’m reading Obsession In Death. I was delighted when I read this as the two are checking security video from the first crime scene in the novel.

“It’s like you saw it before you saw it,” Peabody said.

“Yeah, that doesn’t help her much.” Eve shook it off, zipped through until she saw the door open again. “In and out in what, twenty-seven minutes. Control, that’s control, and that’s purpose. Still carrying the box, still blocking the face.”

“But…Do you see it?”

“I don’t know. What should I see?”

“A jaunty spring to the step. Somebody’s happy, somebody’s feeling really, really good, good enough to strut it out. But still careful, careful enough to block the camera, and all the way out and gone…”

Peabody caught the body language change, not Dallas. The Watson of the two was the more observant at the moment. Peabody may be the sidekick, but Robb doesn’t let her stay there. It’s passages like this that make the reader feel these characters are real. We first met Peabody in a small role as a beat cop in Glory In Death, the second book in the series. Look at her now!

     

Terry Pratchett, Discworld’s Creator

Posted March 13, 2015 By Jandy

We will miss Rincewind, Granny Ogg, the Wee Folks, Death and his granddaughter Susan, and all the other wonderful creations Terry Pratchett brought to the world.

Rest in peace and sympathy to his family and friends.

terry pratchett photo: Terry Pratchett terry.jpg

Terry Pratchett 1948 – 2015