Sally is something of an odd duck; off the top of my head, I can't quite think of another book I would compare it to within the Wodehouse canon. Oddly...moreSally is something of an odd duck; off the top of my head, I can't quite think of another book I would compare it to within the Wodehouse canon. Oddly enough, with only the most minor of edits I can easily see it as a piece of chick lit.(less)
Revisited this book for the first time in a while, this time in audiobook format. It still makes me hungry for foods I have never eaten and/or would n...moreRevisited this book for the first time in a while, this time in audiobook format. It still makes me hungry for foods I have never eaten and/or would never eat (apples 'n' onions, ugh!), and I am still disturbed that there were apparently no legal consequences for beating your teacher to death in New York State in the 1860s.
Upon reread, Rose Wilder's interpolations based on her strong libertarian viewpoints stand out to me, particularly in the chapters Independence Day and Farmer Boy, although nothing remotely so baroque as the narrative contortions required in The Long Winter to make sure that bringing food to starving people isn't an act of charity, because that would be a bad thing. Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane: Authorship, Place, Time, and Culture is a good source for the collaborative process that produced these finished texts.
Cherry Jones's narration is adequate, although the train of thought that led HarperChildrensAudio to choose a woman with a Tennessee accent to voice a group of New Yorkers is opaque to me.(less)
I liked it. I always find it odd to go back and pick up a book that I know is Important in the History of the Development of SF; it's never quite clear beforehand on what levels I'm going to enjoy it. My favorite parts were the chapters of infodump, backfilling a whole history of Solaristics–the study of the distant planet and its enigmatic quasi-lifeform, what it does, what it means. There is more summarized and suggested theorizing than there is data, nothing ultimately conclusive, which is what makes it feel like a real, alien field of study.
In the present story, there are a handful of people in an enclosed, claustrophobic space who can't trust each other and and it's not unlike a very cerebral version of a horror flick. The only female character (view spoiler)[isn't real, literally: she is a projection of the male character's desires and guilt, and she is erased, completely, by some kind of techy disintigrating ray so that he can move on from her. (hide spoiler)] I find this hardly unproblematic and also, frankly, the weakest part of the book, just because it's kind of boring to read, but it makes emotional sense and holds together. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Judging by the fact that it took me at least three years (if I recall correctly) to make it through this book, I don't know that I would recommend it...moreJudging by the fact that it took me at least three years (if I recall correctly) to make it through this book, I don't know that I would recommend it as a good place to start with the Newford books. Every story quickly becomes very samey and less satisfying, like eating mouthful after mouthful of cotton candy until you have sticky hands, an empty bag and a stomachache.
I have enjoyed several of de Lint's other books and will probably return to another Newford book at some point, but it probably won't be terribly soon. And in the future I won't try to read them in order!(less)
There are two primary schools of practice regarding the passage of time in juvenile serial literature. One is to embrace the passage of fictional time...moreThere are two primary schools of practice regarding the passage of time in juvenile serial literature. One is to embrace the passage of fictional time, trace one's juvenile protagonists on the rest of the bildungsroman trajectory, and introduce a fresh generation of juvenile characters to retain appeal to one's younger set of readers: this approach is exemplified by L. M. Montgomery's Anne books, with their succession of adoptees, pupils, children and neighbors' children. Conversely, one may choose to defy fictional time and keep one's protagonists eternally frozen in a single year of their lives, which is the safer and more commercial approach, although it does tend to strain credulity at some point; witness the Baby-sitter's Club, or, even more hilariously, the California Diaries spin-off, which attempts to have it both ways in a supremely implausible manner.
Helen Cresswell, with a mad genius worthy of a Bagthrope at their best, has invented a third and entirely different way. Beginning with Bagthorpes Abroad, each successive Bagthorpe book picks up immidately where the previous one left off, not allowing any precious fictional time to escape. Furthermore, each book in this sequence appears to cover ever briefer periods of said fictional time, in what might be termed Zero's Paradox, only reaching something that might be considered an ending in a scarcely-printed tenth book, which after Cresswell's death must be considered final. (I haven't been able to justify paying between $50 and $250 for a copy of this book and no institution is willing to lend it to mine, but I heard that it is inconclusive and unsatisfying.) These later books are linked by an unbroken chain of causality, which is no doubt why when Oxford University Press brought the Bagthorpes back into print, they stuck to the undeniably excellent first quartet.
This time dilation is perhaps at its most pronounced in The Bagthorpe Triangle, where it becomes a positive leitmotif, most fully expressed in this concluding epitome:
What was truly remarkable was that the Bagthorpes had achieved all this in a single day -- less than a day. From that fatal sucked-up sock to the welter of incident described (in part) on the six o'clock news, the fingers of the clock had circled perhaps ten hours. [...] Let us recapitulate:
1. Mrs Bagthorpe utters a Primal Scream and disappears into the Bagthorpe Triangle. 2. Mr O'Tool disappears into the Bagthorpe Triangle. 3. Mr Bagthorpe loses his car and is arrested on suspicion of his wife's murder, and on a charge of assaulting a police officer. 4. The Knaresborough Knifer is sighted in Mrs Fosdyke's living room. 5. A suspect device is sighted in Mrs Fosdyke's living room. 6. An entire county's emergency services is put on alert, and several teams are deployed in Coldharbor Road. 7. The Bomb Squad is called in. 8. Mrs Bagthorpe (still believed to be in the Bagthorpe Triangle, but actually in Coldharbor Road) develops full-blown amnesia. 9. Mr O'Toole, in his alter ego as eccentric millionaire, is reported missing to the police, and described as wearing an orange and purple frock. 10. Mr O'Toole (still believed by the Bagthorpes to be in the Bagthorpe Triangle) is arrested wearing stolen clothes, and on suspicion of being the Knaresborough Knifer. 11. Aunt Celia, already having a Phantom Pregnancy, is now expecting Phantom Twins (who themselves could be loosely described as being in some kind of Triangle). 12. Max Fosdyke, on the run from the police (and long consigned by his mother to a more or less permanent Triangle) fetches up at his mother's house. His sudden reappearance nearly finishes her off.
The book concludes, portentously, "The Bagthorpe Saga will continue ...", and it did, a bit. Would that it had continued further.(less)
This is, realistically, how a Prime Directive might play out if it were seriously adhered to, over centuries and not 42 minute stretches. It was publi...moreThis is, realistically, how a Prime Directive might play out if it were seriously adhered to, over centuries and not 42 minute stretches. It was published the same year that TOS premiered and presumably partakes of a similar zeitgeist.
It's interesting as a period piece and as very early Le Guin. Her introduction teases out the kind of sexism that happens when you say you don't care if your characters are male or female and you just happen to reinforce a pile of sexual stereotypes, but I was surprised by just how much casual sexism pervades throughout -- when Jakob in his POV makes a disgusted reference to "male hysteria", for instance. Sharp contrast to the last book I read that was published in 1966 (Babel-17/Empire Star).(less)