reading Greg's memoir while living a two hour walk from his old site was pretty bizarre. Some parts of our services have been almost identical. The arreading Greg's memoir while living a two hour walk from his old site was pretty bizarre. Some parts of our services have been almost identical. The area's beautiful weather and our tin roofing's complete failure to deal with it. That one creepy Chinese shop in Kolo. Students singing Pula Eana beautifully & loudly everywhere at all hours. Visiting Qacha's Nek as midpoint to Durban. Tsoaing river flash-flooding and stopping kids from getting home after school. Having serial arguments and begging rituals with a dozen villagers. Ministry of Education incompetence. Initiation schools on broken, dramatic Mount Kolo. Students wearing the wrong color pants on Tuesday. Feeling ridiculously pampered on vacation in South African hostels and being mischaracterized by shepherds who know John Cena and getting a guilty rush from condemning all Boers. Very many dialogs in this book, word for word for word. These are all things that were, despite kvetching with my contemporaries, more uniquely mine until I read this. Which is sad in some ways but comforting and communal in other.
But it's fascinating how some very small deviations between our services have defined our experiences. It's like a study on identical twins separated at birth. Greg used rock climbing to make daily social rounds so he talked to lots of shepherds, while I get out via my trek to fetch water from the area's only tap so I've talked to bunches of girls and women. His village was nearer to Maseru, which seems like it gave him a strong rural/urban contrast that I haven't really felt, while mine is slightly nearer to Mafeteng, which incurs a slew of provincial 'makaota' music and traditions. And while he had teenaged hostelers around his house constantly, I've had a solid infestation of elementary kids from my host family & neighbors, which has comparatively hobbled my Sesotho but made playing games and general daysitting a bigger deal.
And larger differences give a peek at changes in this seemingly timeless place. I have a little electricity and full internet from towers on Qeme plateau, while Greg had neither. My village shop is also way more expansive and I've never cooked the papa & moroho dish that he mostly subsisted on (though I get it for school lunch a lot). And it seems like Peace Corps Lesotho itself has changed a lot since the 2010 rapes and murder.
Overall, the book was quite helpful and insightful. At first it really screwed with my head- having my distant, strange experiences mirrored in detail in a book written by a guy I've never met. But I wish I'd read it earlier in my service. I would've been that much more prepared. I'll give it to my successor, maybe (s)he'll be wiser. Ultimately, despite our very different immersion levels and conclusive feelings about Basotho culture, Greg and I both feel like we've had a successful service. Compared to a lot of other Lesotho volunteers this makes us very fortunate and is a real credit to the Kolo/Tšoeneng area....more
pretty neat skeptical 70's scifi. Skeptical in the sense that new hyperdrives and worlds and asteroid colonies don't really change anything importantpretty neat skeptical 70's scifi. Skeptical in the sense that new hyperdrives and worlds and asteroid colonies don't really change anything important about human experience- 'what was is and will be' etc. Gateway is about the discovery and (extremely blind and dangerous) exploitation of an abandoned alien interstellar transport network, but there are parallels to industrial-age New World fur and gold rushes all over it. Pohl writes about prospectors who are terrified and desperate, which is such a fascinating and refreshing change from the noble, handsome, confident star captains we usually get in scifi exploration.
I'm giving this book 4 stars but there really isn't anything wrong with it. Pohl's writing is a little sparse for me, like he's always a bit rushed. Recommended for all (not-necessarily-action-)scifi fans....more
A friend gave this to me, presumably for the parities between the plot and my own life, and I'm tempted to say that those are what I've really loved iA friend gave this to me, presumably for the parities between the plot and my own life, and I'm tempted to say that those are what I've really loved in it. But this is also an excellent story about love and fate that has apparently been read by about all of Japan, so maybe I'm not so unusual.
I'm not putting this on Favorites because the protagonist, Toru, never really screws up. He's constantly getting kicked around by things outside his control (which is a very cool idea to explore notwithstanding), but in three years of chaotic awful late-adolescence, he never loses control and does something truly nasty of which consequences come back with a vengeance. As the book went on, I began to see Toru less as a person living their life than as a story that Toru is telling us about how he remembers his life. And which is just death to this type of intimate autobiography because two or three times I called him a liar and had to stop....more
I have such disparate thoughts about the parts of this collection that I'm refusing to rate it. Like California, there's a lot of audience freedom. DiI have such disparate thoughts about the parts of this collection that I'm refusing to rate it. Like California, there's a lot of audience freedom. Didion prefaces, "writers are always selling someone out", but I can't even tell if this is sincere. Most of her essays blink characters past in such extremely reductive flashes that either she is indeed selling people out the same way we sell politicians as soundbites and smiles, OR she is in fact refusing to give us any meaningful access to them and thereby refusing to sell anyone out. One of infinite paradoxes in this.
Also maybe I just loved and hated the different essays. I don't care about John Wayne (A Love Song) and am grossed out by ethical relativism (On Morality) and most of the California stuff is specifically about SoCal (7000 Romaine, LA Notebook, Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream), but some of the others touched me very deeply (Going Home, Keeping a Notebook, Self-Respect).
esp recommended for LA/Sacramento natives!!...more
one of the cleverest and most original books I've ever read. For fans of macrocosmic farce, Victorianism, British live theatre, fin de siècle, Biblicaone of the cleverest and most original books I've ever read. For fans of macrocosmic farce, Victorianism, British live theatre, fin de siècle, Biblical scifi, etc etc. The first book (An Alien Heat) is short and the best; read it!...more
Drags out in a few places, but sticks to some very insightful ideas throughout. Brilliantly brings together psychedelia (subjective, deconstructive peDrags out in a few places, but sticks to some very insightful ideas throughout. Brilliantly brings together psychedelia (subjective, deconstructive perception) with cybernetics (powerful, pragmatic ambition). Neat ending....more
Warhammer fluff at its worst. The writing is so sloppy and half of it doesn't even make sense. Malekith climbs on top of a shaggoth and hacks its headWarhammer fluff at its worst. The writing is so sloppy and half of it doesn't even make sense. Malekith climbs on top of a shaggoth and hacks its head off while one of his arms is broken. Morathi gives her son Indraugnir v.2 and betrays him in the next chapter. Eataine is portrayed as more susceptible to pleasure cults because it's rich and idle, but the cults are rooted in Nagarythe, which is portrayed as super-martial-disciplined. On page 384, Malekith manages to both "pause to consider" and "speak without hesitation".
Forget the tragic, scarred, terrifying villain who barely gets driven off Finuval Plain- this book's Malekith has the temperament of a pissed off nine year old and spends the vast majority of the book dicking around with numbingly stupid politics, fighting token enemies, and backstabbing other characters with minimal backstory or meaning.
Don't read this book if you like Asur. Don't read it if you like Druchii. Don't read it if you like Gav Thorpe. Don't read it....more
This is probably the best that a 40k book can be. Dembski-Bowden's action is expertly planned, his squadmates are well characterized, and he slips inThis is probably the best that a 40k book can be. Dembski-Bowden's action is expertly planned, his squadmates are well characterized, and he slips in some really fun splatstick whenever he can. For more serious fans, there's also a lot of talk about how the Traitor Marines are ironically more steadfast than the Loyalists and a whole mess of background about the VIII Legion.
I have very mixed feelings about this anthology. There are a few superb camping stories in here that are a real joy to read, but they're mixed in withI have very mixed feelings about this anthology. There are a few superb camping stories in here that are a real joy to read, but they're mixed in with a whole lot of big game hunts and bullfights. Sometimes the latter seem almost psychopathic- Hemingway goes on about how a man is still a boy until he kills a 10,000 lb animal and leaves it to rot. I know it's a deep, rich theme for Hemingway, but it still seems to me that a sinful, wasteful, stupid test of manly confidence could be declined by a man with sufficient confidence. The war stories are a little more interesting. Duty to others gets substituted for pleasure/fulfillment and his imagery is pretty hellish. And yeah that camping stories are just fantastic. If you're skimming through, check out Big Two-Hearted River on p 163....more