dc: Me, in a pub.  (Default)
The English translation of Stanisław Lem's Solaris that's on sale everywhere is widely known to be not very good. (Lem himself was not happy with it.) Hardly surprising when it's a a translation of a French translation from the Polish that's apparently not brilliant. A guy called Bill Johnston has produced a new translation, more faithful to the original... but the catch is that the rights to the book are not owned by Lem's heirs but by the publisher, so it can't be published as a book. An audio book, though, is a different matter, and it's available.

The really good news is ebooks are also a different matter, so the new translation is available for Kindle and other readers. Nice! I have only had time to glance at it, but it seems fine with one or two small formatting errors (adjacent words run together; it's occasional, not constant from what I've looked at). It is pretty inexpensive, too. Other reader formats can be found via Premier Digital Publishing.

State of Me

Jul. 3rd, 2011 10:39 pm
dc: The Doctor looking out from Laurel & Hardy film (fez)
The past month or so seems to have been a string of hospital appointments, either for me or taking my mother. (She has a respiratory  clinic this week, slightly bad timing but we should at least find out what's happening with the lesion found by chance last year.) It's been quite fatiguing. My payback/recovery period after exertion has definitely deteriorated, This is a pain. I've still been getting out when possible, but it's been harder work.

After Eastercon, I thought I would read some of David Weber's stuff, and I think I am with [livejournal.com profile] pogodragon (I think it was) who said that having met him she wished she liked his books better. But they are unchallenging reads (if you can swallow the chunks of right wing politics) which are good enough for occupying train journeys.

Talking of train journeys, the new route linking the North Clyde Line through to Edinburgh (so you can get on at Partick or Queen St. Low Level and go through to Haymarket or Waverley via Airdrie, Bathgate and Edinburgh Park) is rather useful. It takes longer (from Queen St.) than the direct shuttle service from the main platforms, maybe 15 minutes longer, but at off peak times it is much quieter, so despite it being more basic it's actually more pleasant than the crammed coaches of the main service.

By the way, if you are in Edinburgh and you like chilli, Illegal Jack's is the place to go. Best chilli ever. It's better than mine. It's on Lothian Road, just across from the Odeon.

Oh, and I have discovered a new indicator of extreme fatigue: when you are having difficulty holding a Kindle...

dc: QR Code (QR code)
One of the things which made Eastercon go very smoothly for me was not having to worry too much about what I ate. I did have to be wary of anything with too much fibre, which to be honest isn't that difficult in a hotel like that, but I picked up some lactase pills in Birmingham and made good use of them over the weekend. It made a huge difference to how well I felt over the course of the weekend, since getting completely lactose-free food in a hotel is not usually easy. This is something I shall do again at future cons.

I think I mentioned before that Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London was a good read, urban fantasy with a very well-presented London sense of humour (in particular, he's nailed the way policemen talk, it's beautifully done); the sequel, Moon Over Soho, is just as good. Can't wait for the next book in the series, which I think should be published in November, if I recall correctly.

I am not sure whether I should be excited or nervous about the discovery that a film of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is in the works. On the whole, I think nervous, especially since it's apparently going to star George Clooney (I am assuming as Napoleon Solo, though I don't know for sure; wonder who would be Ilya Kuryakin...).

Back to books, and another rather good read is S.M. Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers. It's 2025, and a dastardly plot is under way to destabilise the British Raj... which is ruled from Delhi. In this world, a cometary impact took out chunks of the northern hemisphere and caused major climatic upsets. The Raj is the major power in the world, its main competitors Greater Nippon and a deeply unpleasant Russian Empire. France outre-mer is a potential ally. There's no real surprises in the way the story is resolved, it is pretty much a straightforward, old-fashioned adventure with no pretensions to being deeply thought provoking, but it is well-told (in particular, the action sequences are well-done). Plus, analytical engines and dirigibles!

There's just been an ad on TV mentioning a luxury weekend break in a converted jail... I don't think I've eaten any strange mushrooms...
dc: (The Doctor)
This week's New Scientist apparently comes with an SF special (well, they call it a Sci-Fi special, but that term always makes me shudder; it's Irene Handl's fault*). Anyway, the special's guest editor is Kim Stanley Robinson, who says that SF tells the stories of now, says very complimentary things about British SF and that, really, SF novels should be winning the Booker. (I have sometimes imagined a future in which spaceships are plying the solar system, space elevators run constantly at the equator, there are permanent colonies on the Moon and Mars.... and the Booker prize is still going to stories of the First World War or the dying days of Empire.) I don't imagine the Booker people will pay the slightest attention to that (they are effectively rewarding authors in a particular genre, but pretending otherwise), but what he has to say about SF, British SF in particular, and its ability to address our lives now is something that's good to see being said outside of the genre's magazines.

There's a pleasant surprise you get when someone mentions approvingly something you yourself have enjoyed; lately I have been telling people about Adam Roberts' Yellow Blue Tibia, which is a story about SF writers, alien invasion (or possibly not), conspiracies, and an amusing comedy of life in the USSR. This is the book Robinson suggests should really get the Booker this year.

Oh, NS have come up with the novel idea of having a pub meet with Robinson on Friday, for anyone in London who is interested: you need to book (free) and take a copy with you.

[*I can't see it without hearing her talk dismissively of Sky-Fi on a BBC 2 programme a long time ago; it scarred me, I tell you.]

dc: (The Doctor)
A little while ago I asked if anyone recognised a book, with desertification, WWIII and aliens. Success! [profile] dan_golem correctly identified it as Cold Allies by Patricia Anthony. :)
dc: (The Doctor)
An acquaintance is trying to find a book he read some time ago. He thinks it was published in the early 90s and that it was the author's first published novel. It features:

  • widespread desertification as a result of climate change
  • World War III results from that, as Africa & the Middle East invade Europe
  • aliens appear and do inexplicable things (they are seen as lights on the battlefield)
  • the story is told from multiple viewpoints.
Does anyone have any idea what novel this might be?


Jan. 26th, 2009 05:59 pm
dc: (The Doctor)
From [livejournal.com profile] elance. The Big Read thinks the average adult has only read six of the top 100 books they've printed below.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them.

And I'm adding:

5) Score through ones you did not like/could not finish

Note: I'm only counting as read the ones I can distinctly remember reading. I'm sure I've read some of the ones I haven't marked, but no clear memories of it.

I've read six of the first TEN. )
dc: (Doctor)
25th May: time to wear the lilac and remember the Glorious People’s Republic of Treacle Mine Road!

If, by chance, you have not read it and have no idea what I am talking about, allow me to recommend my favourite Pratchett book: Night Watch. This is the perfect day to read it. In fact, where is my copy...?

Night Watch
dc: (Doctor)
It has taken me so long to get around to doing this meme that I have forgotten where I got it. Should have done what [livejournal.com profile] banhe did and tackled it straight away. My problem is there are one or two books I can't remember whether or not I have read them. I shall assume I have not. Interesting that of those I have read, and those I have liked, there are only four I would class as books I loved, and one of those with some reservations now.

Anyway. This is the (US) Science Fiction Book Club's list of the fifty most significant science fiction/fantasy novels published between 1953 and 2002. I am not at all sure that I would agree with this selection, and I shall quietly skip over the fact that they are not all novels and that there are more than fifty books here (the first two are both trilogies!). If I were going to pick, say, an Asimov or two for a list like this, one of them would have to be I, Robot (I know it is a short story collection, not a novel; so is Deathbird Stories). I wouldn't pick Rendezvous With Rama as the most significant of Clarke's novels, let alone of SF in general.

Enough of that. Here is the list. What you do is bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished, and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved. It is safe to assume that several of the ones I have not read are on my to-read list. Incidentally, although most of the ones I started but did not finish I put down because I did not like them, that is not always the case. Sometimes pressure of work kept me away from a book so long I simply could not got back to it, so it effectively rejoined the to-read pile. The ones here that I think really fit in that category are The Left Hand of Darkness and The Book of the New Sun.

The list: )

dc: (Doctor)
Given the general nature of the questions, I was surprised the result was largely spot-on (the bit about “always living in the past” is not quite right), and also that it came up with a book that I have recently sought out and plan to read soon. Interesting that it claims I am far more focussed on Europe than anywhere; that’s not unreasonable, as I live here, but that must derive from the question where a said I may focus was more on “the world” than on the USA. Is “the world” a synonym for “Europe” in the USA, then?

You’re The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you’re interested in war, what you really want to know is what causes war. You’re out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they really are. Nevertheless, you’re always living in the past and have a hard time dealing with what’s going on today. You’re also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in the world. A fitting motto for you might be “Guns do kill, but so can diplomats.”

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

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