Jumpdrives & Cantrips


New year, new reads
January 3, 2009, 1303
Filed under: Misc | Tags: , ,

Book Dragon

Here we are, another calendrical switchover and a new year. This past year was a big year for me, mainly due to personal reasons, but also in my world as a reader.

Believe it or not, I actually cleared out and sorted my library for the first time in years. Perhaps even more than a decade, I would wager. This was necessitated by needing to move the “library” to a new floor, and realising that the library would no longer have its own contained area–not to mention that a substantial portion of the books in it were not books I wanted to read again. Sure, they were books that had neat covers, or books that I might want to cite someday as an example of something–some I had even purchased for that exact purpose. But as the years have gone on, and I hadn’t made much headway in that realm, I figured it was time to move on.

It’s difficult to give up some books, and it’s amazing how emotional ties form to bundles of inked-up paper held together with glue. I had to decide whether I wanted to keep one of the books from my teenage years that helped me get through, by an author that has long since disappeared, even though it was poorly written and unlikely to give anyone else any joy. I still remember the first few “adult” books I read, the science fiction and fantasy novels my dad passed on to me when he realised I was running through children’s books a little too quickly and wanted more–especially more dragons.

The world of speculative fiction is much broader than it was back then, probably about fifteen years ago. I remember walking in to bookstores, being wowed by so many paperback books with amazing covers, and then trying to decide which volume to buy after saving up money for months and months. At that time, libraries only carried popular books in the science fiction and fantasy section, so anything that didn’t sell sell sell (like most mid-list SF books) quickly disappeared. I missed reading some popular authors in my quest to find gems, which I’m happy to say that sometimes I did. In retrospect, the stores were also quite small; what seemed like an overwhelming abundance on 4-6 shelves in one case (two if it was a big store!) now seems like a dearth in comparison to the big box booksellers who have massive shelving units floor to ceiling that would practically outline a large room.

Because of those limitations and the fact that young people don’t really have steady income (I never had an allowance with any regularity), books were like gold to me. Probably even more valuable than gold to be honest. So some of those books that I purchased from way back then, back when paperbacks were less than half the price they are now, while not books I want to reread, they are books that I have trouble parting with. And in fact, most of my books I still treat that way no matter how much I may have disliked them in the past. A book is a book.

Or at least it was. Who knows? Perhaps I can make the switch to e-readers in the next few years. I would miss the rasp of paper, the scent of a new book, and the hefty feeling in my hands of a comforting tome. But I think I would also enjoy not having to lug around boxes upon boxes of books in physical form when it comes down to it. Not yet, but some day. Some day when e-readers are more comfortable to use and to hold, and hopefully, become more affordable.

Now I have the added concern of whether or not my soon-to-be child would want to read any of these books. What if I give away or sell something that he’d love? Of course, this begs the question of whether any child of mine would actually like SF… Though given that my husband already read a full Robert J. Sawyer novel to the baby (Calculating God–review to come soon since I got to listen in), he’s certainly got a decent head start.

In the meantime, I am proud to say that I managed to start severing at least some of those emotional ties so that I have enough room to add some new ones, if I want to. That is, I emptied the library of at least 10 boxes worth of books. And it means I can at least look around for some new books to put in those shelves… for a little while, at least.



New Digs
December 4, 2008, 1426
Filed under: Misc | Tags: , ,
Through time and space...!

Through time and space...!

After much delay, I finally gave in and made the jump to WordPress.com. So far I’m pretty pleased, since it will save me a lot of administrative time in some respects and I can put that energy into more reviews. This pleases me, since I like writing reviews that people like reading, whereas I’m not a fan of sitting and deleting/moderating spam for 3 hours a day (which is relatively thankless).

For those of you wondering, I’m now toddling along fully encasing and nourishing another human life, which is a pretty cool experience to say the least. I expect that sometime in mid-January said human life will emerge and generally ensue in all sorts of new adventures.

I might also start experimenting on here with some shorter summary reviews, since I’ve been able to read more than post… This doesn’t mean my longer-winded reviews won’t happen, eventually they’ll be along. Keep in mind also that things are still going to be shifting around here for the next while, so if the theme suddenly explodes… well, just don’t be too surprised is all!

And please, please, if I am not linking to you at the moment and you think you fit in well with the other link-ups I’ve made, please let me know since I haven’t had as much time to wander the blogosphere as I used to–I always enjoy seeing other people’s opinions even if I don’t agree! Also, if you previously were around and now aren’t, it’s only because I couldn’t import my blogroll. Just give me a nudge and I’ll get on it right away.

Well, here goes nothing…



Delay
October 17, 2008, 2018
Filed under: Misc | Tags: ,

Expect a review of Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch in the next couple of days as a belated part of the “Blogger Book Club”–would be here today if not for a family emergency. Hope everyone out there in the blogosphere is doing well.



Blast From the Past: The Eskimo Invasion (1967)
September 19, 2008, 2039
Filed under: Misc | Tags: , , , , ,

The Eskimo Invasion Ah, 1967… the Vietnam War is in progress as hippies gather for the Summer of Love, a certain professor (John Archibald Wheeler) coins the term “black hole” for the first time, the world’s first heart transplant is performed… and the Eskimos invade? Not quite, but it appears as a title by science fiction author Hayden Howard, who wrote The Eskimo Invasion, published in November 1967 by Ballantine Books (New York). The book was nominated for the 1967 Nebula in the best novel category.

I first found The Eskimo Invasion at a book sale and was simultaneously taken aback and amused by the title’s pure inanity. I picked it up with the intention of never reading it–I just can’t manage it–but the intention of using its existence as an exemplar of cultural stereotyping (the book itself may very well break this down, though I don’t feel the need to find out). However, there comes a time when books that won’t be read must move on regardless. I figured I might as well preserve this one partly for posterity’s sake.

Cover blurb:

“Homo sapiens can atomize himself into extinction–but there are other kindly extremes just as deadly…”

From the back of the book:

Dr. West was puzzled, frustrated, and mad.
He knew something was wrong up there in Boothia Sanctuary, but what?
Why, really, did the government want to keep him out? He didn’t for a moment believe the spurious political excuse of preserving a “cultural sanctuary” intact. What were they hiding? What could possibly be wrong with a harmless, lovable group of Eskimos?
Dr. West could never leave a puzzle alone. Besides, if he went up there, maybe he could get proof.
Of something.
Unfortunately, even when he did, no one believed him…

And it only gets more over the top, as you can see from the inner lead-in:

It was a happy scene…
The winter wastes; the igloos; cheerful, laughing, roly-poly faces–his friends, the Eskimos–the gentlest, most warm-hearted people in the world.
And they were cheerful, laughing, gentle, and warm-hearted.
And busy, active, playful.
In fact, when Dr. West tried to take a census, he couldn’t be sure that he hadn’t counted the same ones several times over.
Or had he?
And if not, how could they all be so very young? Where had they all come from?
But it was still a happy scene.
Then

More than forty years later, and even the title is offensive. What a difference time makes, eh?



Reappearances
September 6, 2008, 1707
Filed under: Misc | Tags:

The Invisible ManAfter a full summer’s absence, I am now back.

First off, my apologies for the disappearing act, unintentional though it may have been. However, I’m considering it a personal sacrifice under the circumstances (feel free to consider it an annoyance; I’m ok with that *grin*). This post is going to be more personal than the vast majority of posts on here, since I know if I visited a site regularly I’d want to know why the writer suddenly dropped off the face of the blogosphere.

To be honest, the issues of using a long distance server that I don’t have full access to is a factor, but the largest factor is that I am pregnant. Which is great news for me and my husband, but it hasn’t been all that great for my health. For a little over three months I’ve had to limit my activity due to massive problems with dizziness and palpitations (being a regular gym-goer this drives me nuts). It also hasn’t let me keep up with blogging the way I used to, since my energy is going elsewhere.

So rather than creating reviews and offering up information about various SF & F related things, I settled back, gave in, and decided to let my body create life unimpeded for a while. When there’s not much you can do about things, you might as well roll with them.

And so, after much rolling, I’m back again. I’m difficult to get rid of really, even though I may be inconsistent. So give me a little leeway as I try to find my way back to normalcy again, tie up my loose ends with various promises, and get back on track with reviewing. After all, I figure Mr. Scalzi is probably right, so what the heck.

If there are any requests out there, you might as well let me know so I can add them to the queue…



Odds & Ends

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and take a nice leisurely stroll through the world of blogs. I figured I’d put up some of the highlights of the last little bit. It’s a start anyway, as there’s so much else out there that’s newsworthy, but will have to wait a little longer. In any case, here’s a few odds & ends for your perusal:

I’ve finished reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s third Sharing Knife book and Nalo Hopkinson’s recent-Aurora-winning New Moon’s Arms, and hope to get reviews up shortly. Wish me time more so than luck 😉



Out Flat
May 7, 2008, 0742
Filed under: Misc | Tags: , ,

In the interests of keeping you up to date, lack of recent content is related to a) a week of me being sick and too exhausted to even read for extended periods, b) the family pet dying, and c) a brief rise in hours required at work.

However, I have reviews of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, Witness by Bill Blais, and another book coming up in the near future.  And things should be picking up again in the near future, so hang in there!

Plus, I’ve had a request to review some George R. R. Martin. Any other requests out there?