Tag Archives: #Genetics

dePierres, Marianne: Mirror Space (The Sentients of Orion III) (2009)

mirror space

“Love’s a bitch, ain’t she?”

Not for me, but certainly for Rast Randall and Jo-Jo Rasterovitch who have both fallen for Baronessa Mira Fedor from Araldis. When Mira is captured by the Extropists (nascent humanesques/post-species) Mira shows why Rast and Jo-Jo care so much for her. Resilience is the quality I find most describes the young refugee from Araldis. I’m not certain if resilience is something that most find attractive, but I know that I do. Part of that attraction lies in my own history and perhaps part of it has to do with resilient people radiating some sort of invisible strength. Fighting her fears and going on in spite of the traumas that come her way signifies the kind of courage the young Baronessa has.

Insignia has shown Mira how utterly alien the thought patterns of other creatures can be. Wanton-Poda is about to show her how “evolved” humanesques no longer have much in common with their roots. Indeed, their morals are amoral seen from a Western point of view. Through this, dePierres shows us just how different our own cultures can be in this mix that our global village has become. What one ethnic background considers only proper another might consider sociopathic or paranoid or cruel. Judging others based on our own backgrounds is unwise yet impossible to avoid. Again and again Mira is confronted with the need to reach beyond her own way of thinking. But it ain’t easy!

Tekton is from highly competitive Lostol. Whether the whole population is like him is impossible for me to say, but he and his cousin both seem supremely self-absorbed and willing to do anything to win over the other. Sole (the Entity/God/strange intelligence) knows to use these two qualities against them in its attempt to achieve its own goals. We don’t find out what these goals are until the end of the Sentients of Orion serial (yes, I cheated). As we see in Mirror Space, Tekton learns what being helpless is all about and finds his narcissism challenged. Perhaps there is potential for change in him.

One person who seems to have no hope of changing is Trin Pelligrini. He keeps on insisting that Mira has run off and fights Cass Mulravey for power of the survivors. His ego needs constant stroking, one reason he is so fond of Djeserit. Yet this utter and complete belief in his own superiority might be what the survivors need in order to stay alive.

In fact, characters like Trin Pelligrini, Lancer Farr and Tektor Lostol are fascinating people. I find there is something about deviant fictional characters that makes a story much better. However much I hate it whenever such a person turns up in my own life, they surely make for a deeper understanding of the human psyche. Literature serves this function, along with many others, for me.

One thing that is certain is that Marianne de Pierres has the flow needed to grab hold of me and drag me along in her story. Annoyingly, yet wonderfully, I find myself unable to resist her pull.

Orion star chart
Orion star chart (road map)

Reviews:


Mirror Space on Amazon UK


My review of:

  1. Dark Space
  2. Chaos Space

Summers, Jordan: Red (Dead World I) (2008)

Cover design by Christian McGrath
Cover design by Christian McGrath

I generally do some research before writing about a book. When the blurb began:

“What if Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf turned out to be the same person?”

I went off on one of my curiosity sprees. Roald Dahl has a wonderful version of Little Red Riding Hood (below) that resembles the version of Little Red Riding Hood that Jordan Summers writes about.

Red has three Riding Hoods that are eaten by the big bad wolf while their grandmothers are left alone. Our Were-theme is discovered in the first chapter when the murderer describes being wracked with the pain of being ripped apart and put back together again. Then he mauls and eats his murder victim. Summers’ description of the mauling and eating is just as descriptive as her description later on in the novel of sex and its prelude – pretty explicit.

The mystery part of Red is pretty straight-forward. As a reader I know everything long before Red and Morgan do. When Renee Forrester, Lisa Salomon and Moira Collins turn up dead, I  draw conclusions faster than the couple-to-be. Embroiled as they are in the action and full of fear of being discovered, fear of the other not liking them, fear of the other person liking them, and being horny to the degree that the two of them are probably slows them down.

Red is full of the non-existent, exterminated Others. These people were supposed to have been wiped out. Instead they are turning up all over the place. Some of them do not even know that they are an Other. Discovering what they are might just mean the difference between life and death for themselves and others.

We are all Others of some sort. It isn’t my Asperger side that defines me as an Other but rather the Beast in me that might rear its head at some point in my life. We sure see a lot of the Beast types in the world without needing to genetically tinker one into us.

I liked Red.


Reviews:


Red on Amazon.com


Red Riding Hood, 2014; by LessThanHuman
Red Riding Hood, 2014;
by LessThanHuman

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma’s door.

When Grandma opened it, she saw

The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, “May I come in?”
Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
“He’s going to eat me up!” she cried.

And she was absolutely right.
He ate her up in one big bite.
But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, “That’s not enough!
I haven’t yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!”
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
“I’ve got to have a second helping!”
Then added with a frightful leer,
“I’m therefore going to wait right here
Till Little Miss Red Riding Hood
Comes home from walking in the wood.”
He quickly put on Grandma’s clothes,
(Of course he hadn’t eaten those).
He dressed himself in coat and hat.
He put on shoes, and after that
He even brushed and curled his hair,
Then sat himself in Grandma’s chair.
In came the little girl in red.
She stopped. She stared. And then she said,

“What great big ears you have, Grandma.”
“All the better to hear you with,” the Wolf replied.
“What great big eyes you have, Grandma.”
said Little Red Riding Hood.
“All the better to see you with,” the Wolf replied.

He sat there watching her and smiled.
He thought, I’m going to eat this child.
Compared with her old Grandmamma
She’s going to taste like caviar.

Then Little Red Riding Hood said, “But Grandma,
what a lovely great big furry coat you have on.”

“That’s wrong!” cried Wolf. “Have you forgot
To tell me what BIG TEETH I’ve got?
Ah well, no matter what you say,
I’m going to eat you anyway.”
The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She wimps a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature’s head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.
A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, “Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry wolfskin coat.”

Roald Dahl, Revolting Rhimes (audioversion)


Soucy, Glenn: Blood Tithe I (2010)

Blood tithe

First off, I love this cover.

Blood Tithe is a serial. Too many questions are left unanswered at the end for it to be anything else. Obviously, I recommend that you begin with this novel. I believe Blood Tithe is Soucy’s first novel and it bears signs of just that. But Soucy manages to overcome most of those problems by keeping his characters interesting and active.

“Once someone is altered, they can gather energy from every living thing.  If they take that energy and wrap it around their heart, and then give it to another person, it creates a Blood Tithe. From then on, every time the original person collects more energy, the one he made the Blood Tithe automatically gets their fair share.” Glenn J. Soucy

I have been trying to remember what five-year olds are like while reading Blood Tithe. I can see a person his age falling for the temptation of the forbidden. You do not have to be five to fall for the forbidden. But five is how old Jeremy is when he goes against the commands of his parents and finds his life irrevocably changed. The point in his life when the sins of World War II genetic research comes back to haunt a community. I loved the tension Soucy managed to keep going full pace when Jeremy met Howler and his desperation during their subsequent meetings.

If Jeremy had been my son, would I have become afraid of him? Ideally, my answer should be a resounding no. As most of us end up learning, reality and ideals often do not blend. I really do not know which parent I would have become.

When we meet Jeremy at 13/14 life has become dire. He has done something he feels awful yet justified about in an eye for an eye sort of way.

In choosing to jump from Jeremy as little to Jeremy as teen-ager Glenn Soucy has undertaken a task that many authors shy from for good reason. Blending the two without getting details wrong or messing up on details is where we see that a stricter editor would have made Blood Tithe great.


Reviews:



Halloweenpalooza

Ee, Susan: World After (Penryn And The End of Days II) (2014)

World After
Cover design by Sammy Yuen

Seven years old. That is how old poor Paige is when the angels take her from her mother and sister and do medical experiments on her. Seven years old is how old Paige is when Penryn manages to rescue Paige and seven years old is how old Paige is when she sees the rejection of her new self from her sister and others. The only one who accepts Paige as she is happens to be her schizophrenic mother. Seven years old. Seven years old.

Paige’s story is the one that affects me the most in World After. Paige’s story is the one that causes my mind to ponder the concept of rejection and how rejection creates invisible wounds in an already visibly wounded body. And Paige’s story is the one that brings to mind the many people out there who have been changed visibly and invisibly themselves. How do I meet them? Am I one of them? How many wounds can a person bear before they become lost?

Penryn and Paige’s mother is a paranoid schizophrenic. Except in The End of Days serial many of her paranoias are real. Now the monsters are here and doing their best to off humanity. My grandmother was a paranoid schizophrenic. From what my father has told of his childhood Susan Ee‘s description of how a paranoid schizophrenic can appear to others seems right on the dot. The pain of the fear a person carries in such a condition is incomprehensible.

Penryn feels guilty at not being able to accept Paige as she is. I believe that is probably a common feeling when a person comes back changed from an accident or war or disease. After all, the person we loved seems to have disappeared. Perhaps they have. Perhaps we just need to see past the wounds and scars. Penryn is only 17 and 17 is awfully young to have experienced what she has. So Penryn carries wounds of her own, although hers are invisible. Her childhood and the responsibilities she ended up with, the first days after the world ended and having an angel steal her little sister would threaten to destroy a person. In part it does. But not completely. Penryn finds short-term solutions to deal with her inner wounds and a way to hold on to hope.

Penryn And The End of Days serial is a difficult serial to read for an old woman due to Susan Ee’s amazing writing. This is definitely a serial I recommend, painful as it is.


Reviews:



My review of Angelfall

Farrugia, Nathan: The Chimera Vector (The Fifth Column) (2012)

The Chimera Vector
Cover design by Keerati Sarakun and Patrick Naoum
Cover typography by Andrei Stefan-Cosmin
Edited by Nicola O’Shea

The Chimera Vector portrait

The Chimera Vector set me into research mode. I started looking into “chimera vector” and discovered quite a few articles on the research into this type of transportation on the net. I have included four of them below. Chimera: a DNA molecule with sequences derived from two or more different organisms, formed by laboratory manipulation.

According to Psychology Today a psychopath is a person who exhibits a long list of character traits. One needs to show a lack of empathy (cold-heartedness, an inability to feel deeply); show a lack of shame, guilt, fear or embarrassment at ones actions; a tendency to blame others for their own failures, or no shame if confronted; show a strong ability to remain focused on a task; appear charming yet have a tendency toward pathological lying, and they seem comfortable even when found out; incredibly overconfident, as if they cannot fail; impulsive; incredibly selfish and parasitic; lack realistic long-term goals; and finally be prone to violence.

In The Chimera Vector we get to meet several people who fit the bill of a psychopath. The whole concept of psychopathy or sociopathy is extremely fascinating. It is one of those terms that we bandy about as if being a psychopath was a common thing. Looking at the list above, I see many of them that could fit myself and most other people I know. But when I take a closer look at the people I meet, I think I can say that there is probably only one one person that I could definitely call a psychopath. Long-term planning was no problem for him at all and holding power is something he has definitely been concerned with. Power behind the throne, not the apparent one that is more image than real.

Power is what The Chimera Vector is all about. The lengths people are willing to go in their hunger for power. We see people playing power games every day – within families, at work and at play. But seldom do we see power games taken to the extreme that The Chimera Vector shows. But we wouldn’t, would we. That is the whole point of The Fifth Column. People must not see the games the leaders of The Fifth Column play, for their real power lies in their secrecy. To them all the death and mayhem they deal is part of the games.

Programming soldiers like Sofia, Jay and Damien into becoming unquestioning killer robots is fun. Killing innocent people to keep the world going their way is fun. Watching countries erupt into cauldrons of fire is fun. Power is fun. Fun and addictive.

I see all this and I believe it. The Chimera Vector is believable. If some scientist manages to discover how to create weapons like The Fifth Column use, soldiers like this will be developed. Perhaps I have too cynical a view of the world, but this is what I believe. History has shown us time and again that once a power-hungry leader gains control of research and development gruesome consequences evolve. In fact, history has shown us (and shows us) that in their grasp for power the world itself becomes expendable to the power-players.

And yes, I did enjoy The Chimera Factor. A great deal, in fact.

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Reviews:

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I was given this novel by the author. Whether that affected my review is difficult to say. I’ve tried to be as objective as possible.

Nye, Jody Lynn: A Forthcoming Wizard (Tildi Summerbee II) (2009)

A-Forthcoming-Wizard-150841-d4902f8679c2f83a8362

A lot of the books I read remind me of issues that I regularly think about. A Forthcoming Wizard (and An Unexpected Apprentice) reminded me of the many times I have wondered about the concept of racism and the idea of “perfect/ideal”.

Back in the days the Shining Ones took it upon themselves to experiment with the knowledge they had acquired. Like all good scientist they asked themselves the question “I wonder what would happen if …”. Unlike the really good scientists, the Shining Ones forgot to ask themselves the next important question “If I do this, how will it impact …?”. The Shining Ones just went ahead and did what they wanted in the name of furthering their own knowledge often deceiving themselves as to the level of nobility of their choices. Oh, what tangled webs we weave. At one point some of them looked beyond themselves and saw that perhaps they had gone too far in satisfying their curiosity. All of them except Knemet finally came to see that there comes a point in one’s life when one has to acknowledge the consequences of one’s actions.

Is Knemet evil? Maybe amoral would be a better word for it. He doesn’t do things because they are bad. He just does whatever is needed to expedite his wishes. Knemet just wants the Compendium/the Great Book so he can destroy it, thereby ending what he considers his dreary life. But as we already saw in An Unexpected Apprentice, destroying the Compendium will destroy the world. He could care less, and that is why The Great Book must be kept from him.

In my review of An Unexpected Apprentice I posited the hypothesis that the Scholardom could be considered the “bad guy” of the story of Tildi Summerbee. I believe I retract that hypothesis. They base their actions on a certain set of traditions, values, and knowledge. Some of those actions are definitely in the category “bad” in that the actions are incredibly racist. But most of the Scholardom (at least the ones we meet) are teachable. Once they see that their own theories about purity were wrong/misguided, the Knights of Scholardom are willing to try and change.

Tildi continues with her growing pains. Challenging our own traditions and myths hurts. At least I know it did for me. Tildi managed that awful task of asking herself if what she thought was the “right way” might possibly be wrong or just one of many ways. Doing so changes the way she is perceived by others but more importantly how she perceives herself. Her friends both help and hinder her in this process.

The ending of the Tildi Summerbee saga is predictable and almost Disney-like. I think that will be a comfort for the younger audience.


Reviews:



My review of An Unexpected Apprentice

Angell, Lorena (co-authored by Joshua Angell): The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny (The Unaltered IV)

The Diamond Bearer's Destiny

As with the previous covers for The Unaltered serial (need to read them in order) I really like this cover. As the very good thief I am, I stole a compilation of the three others from Angell’s site:

The unaltered series

Once upon a time a human became Crimson. She was the first human with a jewel inserted into her heart. Then came Mathea and later on others. With the abilities brought on by being Diamond Bearers these people were able to help humanity survive and to look for unaltered people. Unaltereds are the only ones who can become a Diamond Bearer and the only way to be an unaltered is to have no special powers at all. In the world of Calli Courtnae, Chris Harding and the rest just about every person has some degree of super-natural ability.

Then along comes Freedom (Henry) and General Harding (Chris’ father). Sometimes the combination of two people can bring about amazing results. In Freedom and General Harding’s case these results were amazingly destructive for people who have more than a smidgen of power. Trouble looms.

The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny starts off with an information dump that lets Calli know why Chris acted as he did in The Diamond of Freedom. For the length of the novel the info-dump is too long. I like the manner in which it was done – by having Calli read Chris’ memories.

Calli meets Crimson for the first time when she meets up with Chris and ends up reading his memories. Crimson tries to make Calli understand just how important she views the freedom to choose. Crimson’s explanation of her world-view is not too long in and of itself. On top of the information dump it is. Once Angell spread the philosophical moments with action we once again started moving into the action/thrillerish nature of the other three Unaltered novels.

The Unaltered serial is definitely for young adults. Both violence and romance is kept extremely innocent. I think even the strictest parents would allow their children to read this kind of content.

Although Brand doesn’t get to be as fun this time around, he does get to show off a bit. For those who are interested in romance, there is even some of that. Chris and Calli are a bit mushy for me, but then they have been all along. Very few romantic descriptions avoid my mushy label.

I found the consequence for Diamond Bearers who tried to go against nature interesting. Whether Calli stuffing the diamond into Jonas’ chest qualifies as one such action is a worry for Crimson (and Calli once she gets to know how serious something like that is).

In The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny Deus Ex and General Harding’s are both obsessed with having their own diamonds. Both are driven by fear of some other person being more powerful than themselves. Aahhh, the ever-present lure of power.

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My review of:

  1. Diamond in My Pocket
  2. Diamond in My Heart
  3. The Diamond of Freedom

McMillin, Dean C.: Shadowslave (The Shadewright Cycle II) (2012)

Image

Dean C. McMillin has written the sequel to Shadewright: Shadowslave. At the beginning of Shadowslave we get a synopsis of the storyline in Shadewright.

Huge brag before we get down to business. It has been a while since I read Shadowslave and I needed to take a quick look before getting back the feeling I had with this world. Don’t you know, I had to sit down and read the whole thing over again. A wild guess might tell you that I really enjoyed McMillin’s writing.

The Shadewright Cycle (at least the first two installments) has some interesting characters and important themes along with tons and tons of action, humour and romance (yeah, I guess I could call it that). I think Shadowslave is fairly dark, but not too dark for young adults. Nor is there very explicit violence or explicit sex in it. There is some gore though in connection with homununculi and a strange baby.

Back to my favorite part – the characters. Arick the Arcwright, Lord of Lightning T’Gantas is my favorite character. He seems kind of “simple” to the people around him. Shadowslave shows us that Arick definitely is not. He does, however, lean toward the clumsy and spectacular and explosive. That man is a wandering accident waiting to happen. Arick has to be the luckiest unlucky guy I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. McMillin made me fall in love. Praise, praise, praise for Arick’s character.

Racism. Hmmm. Plenty of racism in Shadowslave (and Shadewright). The Phantist, Serjeant Despanya Euran and Duskron are all three greyskins. That means that they have grey skin and are somehow tied to the Shadows, with the potential of being shadewrights. The degree of talent varies and Despanya has chosen to deny that side of her completely. Like our own world skin colour matters a great deal in the Shadowworld. Despanya has double-trouble in that she is a woman as well. Because gender does matter in Arlandia and Rall.

Arlandia and Rall

The Phantist is our main character. He worked hard in Shadewright to develop his abilities as a shadewright and became quite proficient and popular because of it. He also got into trouble with a voice he hears emanating from the earth. That threat in his life follows him into Shadowslave along with his meeting another dangerous entity in Shadows. I kind of think of the Phantist as the awkward hero. Maybe it is his character more than any of the others that leads me to think of the Shadewright Cycle as young adult. His tale is a coming of age story in the fantasy way.

Emm-Ma, the Quicklime Girl, is a very strange babysitter with an even stranger child to take care of. The two of them are fascinating characters. I can’t say more. I want to, but I can’t. I liked her though and strangely enough I liked the baby.

Healer Malleck and Colonel Brendan are into genetic tampering. Healer Malleck more than the Colonel. Both are willing to employ pretty bizarre and dangerous tools to get ahead of “the other side”. Sound familiar to any government at all? Is there any government that does not do this??? Two men who are extremely dedicated to their beliefs.

Finally we have Lesander. Or maybe Lesander’s property would be more correct. Something really strange is going on on Arliss Island. The Phantast is essential in figuring out the mystery and Duskron desperately wishes it was not so.


Review: Brian P. McKinley


Beck, Ian: Pastworld (2009)

7156_TB_Pastworld.indd
Cover image by David Calub

Pastworld is a Young Adult dystopian, steam-punkish and semi-violent look at what could happen when the future is so bored with itself it seeks relief in pretending to travel to the past. Pastworld is the creation of such a future.

Not all participants know that it is all pretense. Eve is one such character. One of our main mysteries in Pastworld is the reason for Eve’s short memory. Why does she only remember events from the past two years? Why is she being kept hidden in Pastworld? Why does her protector/jailer/friend Jack get killed while keeping her from public attention? These are all questions that are answered.

Eve is 17 years old. I’m trying to remember what it was like to be 17 and decide if Eve is a proper representative of a Victorian 17-year-old young woman with an apparent memory loss. I have a couple of biographies to lean on (not the memory loss part). Girls of a certain class were pretty sheltered back in the day. They were not allowed to go anywhere without a chaperone. Accepted interests beyond home and family were nature. Education was so, so. They were taught how to read, some maths, etiquette, embroidery, housekeeping and painting. I guess with that as a guide, Eve was kind of representative for that group.

When Jack gets more and more eccentric after a mysterious person comes sniffing after Eve, Eve runs for her life. Quite stereotypically she decides that the circus must be the place to go. And she does – Jago’s Acclaimed Pandemonium Show.

In Buckland Corp. Comm. Center Sgt Charles Catchpole becomes aware that something is afoot in Pastworld. A murderer has returned (the Phantom), one who leaves his victims dismembered and sometimes headless. One can certainly see how this would keep his minions in line and whet the appetite of the Scotland Yard.

Much of what we see in Ian Beck’s novel seems probable. 2048 is in 35 years and quite a bit could happen in that time. We already have plenty of theme parks around the world. Making a city into one might not be the stretch I would like to think it is.


Reviews:



Maxey, James: Bitterwood (2007)

Bitterwood
Cover art by James Maxey

Originally Bitterwood was meant to be a stand-alone novel. I guess sales must have been better than expected and therefore an invitation was extended to James Maxey to expand the tale with Dragonforge and Dragonseed. Due this expansion Maxey now has an edition of Bitterwood that brings the original story more in line with the two other novels. My review is based on the revised edition.

Bant Bitterwood’s mission in life is hunting dragons. Sent by the prophet Hezekiah he believes this is God’s will. Leaving the love of his life behind he sets out and 20 years pass in the turning of a page. While adored by many humans Bitterwood is despised and feared by the dragons who see him as the bad guy. Each story has two sides and we get to have a look at both of them in Maxey’s Bitterwood.

In this tale of action and fantasy set far into the future we see humans made into slaves and dragons more like ourselves than we might like to admit. Karma has bitten humans in their rear ends and shown them (if they only knew) that their meddling with genetics has consequences.

Early on we get to see remnants of previous technology on something that the dragons call the ghost lines. Here dragons fear for their lives for there is a very real danger of them being killed by what is within. Later on in Bitterwood we also come accross surprising pieces of technology. I think one of the reviews below reveals what that is but I shan’t.

Vendevorex (wizard dragon) is the most interesting character of the novel. Perhaps that is because his views correspond with my own in some respects. He is of the faction of dragons that believes that humans should be treated with some decency unlike his extremely feudal king Albekizan. Our own history of slavery and feudalism is reflected in this tale of dragon lords and human slaves. As our own stories tell us, rebellion is part of our past. But as with our history, the consequences of fighting the system can be devastating not only for the rebels.

Another character that I enjoyed a lot was Zanzeroth (tracker dragon). He is ambivalent when it comes to humans and their value. Age is catching up with him and he does not like it. Vanity is not only a human thing in this tale of dragons and humans.

Bitterwood is a good novel. It raises questions that ought to be raised and does so in a highly entertaining manner. Because of some of the reviews on the net I get the feeling my revised edition is quite different to the original. My recommendation is to get the revised edition of the novel.


Reviews:


  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Solaris; 1 edition (2 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184416487X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844164875
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.6 x 4 cm

Doyle, Kevin: Mourning’s Song (2010)

I have not been able to find any information on Kevin Doyle (except the email address he shares at the beginning of the novel). Too bad, really. The best I can do is link you to Amazon.

Super-heroes. Their aliases are Poison, Winterkill, Eagledawn, Heart, Kalide, Squire, Plaza, Kriegen and Liegelord. These are the ones we are introduced to in Mourning’s Song. These super-heroes are born or created genetically.

While hiking in the mountains two young guys discover an oddity. When they go to find out what it is they get attacked and disappear. This is our first meeting with the Liegelord. Lord of the mountain, insanity and world leaders. We then jump to the city and get to meet two run-aways and five superheroes who try to make the world a better place.

If you are looking for a happy story with a happy ending, you need to go elsewhere. Mourning’s Song is filled with tension, action and death.

So, is it any good? Holy, freaking cow – YES. Mr. Doyle certainly knows how to hold my attention. I recommend Mourning’s Song to any and all interested in mutants, superheroes and fighting/action-scenes. There are no rose-colored glasses to make life beautiful. But in all its harshness Mourning’s Song manages to leave the reader with a tiny ray of hope.

Heinrich, Joe/Heine, Steven/Norenzayan, Ari: The weirdest people in the world (2010)

Reading as much as I do, creates a problem of abundance when it comes to writing a book-blog. Which book am I going to choose to write about. There are sooooo many that I have loved, that I love and that I will probably come to love. Authors and books are my favorite thing on this earth – next to my family and dog (OK and maybe friends). I’ll admit there are quite a few sucky authors, but there is an abundance of fun, excitement and learning out there.

Because I am such an addict I read quite a variety of literature. Scientific articles, jokes, curio and scholarly works. But my favorite is fantasy and science fiction. I have to admit that I consider most of the fiction out there as some kind of science fiction or fantasy as well.

Recently a friend of mine posted a link to an article called We Aren’t the World by Ethan Watters who writes for Pacific Standard. The article We Aren’t the World is about the research performed by the researchers Joe Heinrich, Steven Heine and Ara Norenzayan. They look at some of the assumptions anthropological researchers have made based on research on a selection that might just be a bit biased. I remember asking some of the same questions (to myself) at the time of my own psych classes.

Once I read through the article I thought “Yup, sounds about right” and that was that – until it settled in. Then I got really exited about what this could mean to the world of research and just had to write about the article and the three brilliant researchers on my blog.

Prisoner’s dilemma as presented in various psych texts

Heinrich, Heine And Norenzayan ended up publishing an article called The weirdest people in the world in The Cambridge Journals in 2010. What they claim is that behavior depends on your background. In their case they used a version of the prisoner’s dilemma to see if the West had the answers to how to predict behavior. What they found was that there were grounds to question a theory of genetics determining this type of behavior. It turned out that how people ended up dividing the offered money (which was what was used in the experiment) depended on background (in form of society, religion and class). Sooooooo, in order to predict something about human behavior one would need a wider selection – representation had been too poor thus far.

Science being what it is, theories have to be tested and tested and tested before a degree of certainty can be reached. But, thankfully, the wonderful thing about science is that once some person questions a theory and goes out and finds a different answer, and others find the same different answers scientific knowledge grows and more questions get to be asked. I LOVE science.

Herbert, Frank: Hellstrom’s Hive (1973)

Hellstromshive
Cover by David K. Stone

Isn’t this cover cool. It pretty much says it all. Frank Herbert had the ability to write scary future scenarios while making them seem completely believable. Maybe someone is actually out there doing something like this at the moment. I wouldn’t put it past someone with a Mengele mindset.

DNA and selective breeding is an interesting topic. How far can you go, and still be human? Is being human as we know them actually desirable?

Hellstrom’s Hive takes us to a US that has become a police state. There really isn’t room for diversity and the government is rather paranoid. Of course, there is an ultra-secretive agency that looks for threats. They intercept schematics for something that looks like a dangerous weapon system. When they begin to suspect insect specialist and film-maker Nils Hellstrom, agents are sent to his remote and secluded farm compound where most of his insect films are being produced.

I’d never thought of selective breeding being used this way. In one sense it makes sense – just look at all of the weird breeds of dog that we have. In another sense, the thought is rather frightening. Frank Herbert has the ability to make me believe the scenarios he presents. What a gift.

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Review: Swords & Stitchery

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Winner of the 1978 Prix Tour-Apollo

Dick, Philip K.: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965)

Palmer Eldritch

Weird. Strange. These are the words that describe this book to me most. So, I had to go on the net to figure out if Philip had written about a LSD trip he’d had or whether the novel was just part of an avant-garde milieu. I can’t really say that I found a satisfactory answer, so this is what it is. While the technology in this books was dated, the book itself could have been written today by someone with the right mind-set (not mine obviously).

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was first published in 1965. In it he explores a possible future where humanity has the same questions to deal with today: what is good and what is evil, are drugs bad, how to deal with global warming, how far do we take genetic research.

Palmer Eldritch is a business man who went for a space trip ten years ago. He has now returned and is offering the world Chew-Z (a hallucinogenic). His three stigmata are: his artificial eyes, his artificial teeth and his artificial arm.

His competitor, Leo Bulero, produces the drug Can-D which enables the users to inhabit a shared illusory world.

Barney Meyerson works for Leo as a precog and ends getting involved in competition between Palmer and Leo.

Pratchett, Terry: Rincewind

Rincewind is one of the funnest and funniest characters of the Discworld. In spite of the

  • Rincewind is a self-acknowledged coward whose running abilities fit with his cowardice.
  • He was not the brightest student at the Unseen University. In fact the other wizards claimed that Rincewind is “the magical equivalent to the number zero”. He does have one magical formula in his head – one of the Eight Great Spells. Unfortunately, the formula  must never be used.
  • Rincewind is both the luckiest and unluckiest of characters. Lady Luck is kind of on his side, and Rincewind’s ability to frustrate all of Death’s plans are next to none. In fact, Rincewind’s hourglass of life is the only one that is not hourglass shaped.
  • Rincewind’s constant companion is the Luggage, a pearwood chest that walks and acts as Rincewind’s bodyguard. During his many unexpected trips to fairly unusual places, Rincewind has great need of this protection.

THE COLOUR OF MAGIC (1983)

French cover by Marc Simonetti Kemar

The first of the Discworld books is The Colour of Magic. In it Terry Pratchett set out to make fun of the many cliches in fantasy and science fiction. When I first started reading The Colour of Magic, I hadn’t gotten that part of it. But when I went back to it with this necessary knowledge, I laughed (well, giggled)  a whole lot.

“In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part …”

Right off the tone is set. I must have been terribly dense not to have seen the humour my first time through, but there you are – once an airhead always an airhead.

And so we get our first look at A’Tuin, upon whom the Discworld rests. Now that Pratchett has shown us the glory of his world, it is time for him to give us the story of Rincewind – one of many.

Rincewind meets Twoflower in the Broken Drum. Twoflower is a tourist from the Counterweight Continent. Noticing the stranger’s language problem, Rincewind helps the man and is hired as Twoflower’s guide. Recognizing potential trouble, Rincewind tries to flee the city, but is caught by the Patrician who orders him to protect Twoflower.

Through a series of mishaps, Rincewind and Twoflower end up having to flee Ankh-Morpork. From there their journey takes them into and out of the embrace of Death time and again. They are hunted by trolls, bears, demons, dragons and believers.


http://925rebellion.com/pratchett-films/
http://925rebellion.com/pratchett-films/

A graphic novel, illustrated by Steven Ross and adapted by Scott Rockwell, was published by Corgi in 1992.

The Mob Film Company and Sky One have produced a two-part adaptation, combining both The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic broadcast over Easter 2008.

In 1986 Piranha Games published The Colour of Magic as a text adventure game developed by Delta 4.

A video game titled Discworld: The Colour of Magic was released on mobile phones in 2006.

THE LIGHT FANTASTIC (1986)

Book cover – graphic novel

The Light Fantastic begins where The Colour of Magic left off. Rincewind and Twoflower are once again trying to survive one of their stunts.

Back at the Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork something really strange is happening. One of the extremely dangerous magic books is beginning to leak and the wizards are terrified of the consequences. When the leakage causes the UU to be flooded they realise something has to be done.

The book with the Eight Great Spells decides to take matters into its own pages, and rescues Rincewind and Twoflower from their predicament. That does not mean that Rincewind, Twoflower and the Luggage are out of trouble. Indeed, druids, mercenaries, Cohen the Barbarian, Death, the Four Horsemen, trolls, crazed villagers, a magical shop, Things all have to be encountered before they can go home.

If you’ve read a bit of English litterature from the pre-1986 era, you’ll probably recognize the references made in The Light Fantastic. But even without that knowledge, it’s easy to see that Pratchett makes fun of religion, philosophy, insurance and myths.

A graphic novel illustrated by Steven Ross and Joe Bennet, was published by Corgi in 1993.

The books are full of references. If you go to L-Space you’ll find annotations, quotations, essays and all sorts of goodies on all of the Discworld books.

SOURCERY (1988)

French book cover by Marc Simonetti Kemar

A sourcerer is the eight son of an eight son of an eight son. A wizard squared. A source of magic.

Isplore (father of the sourceror) refuses to go with Death when it comes. Instead he decides to steer his son’s destiny by imbuing his wizard’s staff with his spirit. Poor little Coin. His future has already been decided for him by his father.

Back at the Unseen University a new Archchancellor is to be “elected”. Rincewind and the Librarian are working with the books in the library. The books and shelves are restless. As he leaves the library, he notices a couple of other disturbing event. Ravens are cawing and all the vermin is leaving the Unseen University. Rincewind tries to warn the bursar, who unsurprisingly does not believe him.

When he is unable to get the administration to believe that something is afoot, Rincewind does his usual desperate disappearing act. He and the librarian withdraw to the Mended Drum (used to be the Broken Drum).

Parents! What can you do about parents? No matter how much you fight them, somehow they find a way to impose their will. In Sourcery, you’ll see quite a bit of Ipsilore trying to do just that to Coin. Holding all that power is quite a challenge for a boy trying to find his way in the world. His choices will make or break the Discworld.

FAUST ERIC (1990)Eric

French cover by Marc Simonetti Kemar

“Death fancied that he heard, very briefly, the sound of running feet and a voice saying, no a voice thinking oshitoshitoshit, I’m gonna die I’m gonna die I’m gonna DIE!” When he focuses his gaze, all he says is: “OH, … IT’S HIM”. Yes, you’ve guessed it. Death’s favorite non-dier – in fact the only one – Rincewind.

In Ankh-Morpork, something invisible is running through the town, yelling at the top of its voice. The wizards try the Rite of AshkEnte (calling on Death) to find an answer. He tells them that Rincewind is caught in the Dungeon Dimensions, trying to get back home. The likelihood of that happening is a million to one. Hello! This is Rincewind we’re talking about.

What happens then. Well, Rincewind wakes up in a regular human sort of room caught in a magic circle. In fact, he is caught by a pimply teen-aged boy with a fake beard. This kid wants to have mastery of the kingdoms of the world, meet the most beautiful woman who has ever lived and wants to live forever.

He is about to get all wishes fulfilled, but not in the way he expected and both Eric and Rincewind may end up regretting that the conjurations was performed. What Eric Thursley will end up knowing all too much about is deception, bureaucracy and stupidity.

INTERESTING TIMES (1994)

By Ryan Dowling Soka

As the gods are playing games, with Fate winning as usual, the Lady turns up. She wants to play Mighty Empires with Fate, letting the dice roll deciding whether fate of luck will rule this time.

Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor of UU is called to see the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. A Pointless Albatross has turned up with a message from the mysterious Agatean Empire, requesting the “Great Wizzard”. Vetinari wants Ridicully to send the Great Wizzard to the Counterweight Continent by tea-time, leaving the Archchancellor six hours to figure out who this wizzard is and get him on his way. Oh dear.

We all know who this “Great Wizzard” is, and Rincewind ends up in the Agatean Empire. Unfortunately Rincewind’s wizardly talents seem to have grown in the telling and he seems sadly wanting for the role Agatean people want him to fill. He is supposed to step in as a leader of the revolution. Well, the Agatean people are in for a surprise and so is Rincewind. Of all the people Rincewind should meet on the Counterweight Continent, Cohen the Barbarian and his compatriots turn up.

THE LAST CONTINENT (1998)

Dijabringabeeralong Pub by Rhianna

It’s winter and cold season in Ankh-Morpork. At the Unseen University the Librarian has caught a bug. Each time he sneezes, he changes shape – into anything. The wizards are at a loss, and the only one who has been able to communicate effectively with the Librarian is, you guessed it, Rincewind.

Rincewind, however, is somewhere else. At the moment he is digging a hole – more or less looking for opals. The other opal miners know him as Strewth. When Strewth uncovers something that looks like a giant opal, the other opal-miners cheer. Then the opal cracks open and lots of little feet appear.

Back at the Unseen University the wizards are their usual bumbling selves looking for Rincewind. Searching has uncovered a window to somewhere delightful. A beach with clear blue water and lies behind a window in the room of the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography. Since they are wizards they climb through. When Mrs. Whitlow arrives with sandwiches, she closes the window and they are all stuck. Now they have to find their way back, somehow, back to the future.

Rincewind/Strewth and the luggage are off on their adventures. One of the funniest ones is a shearing episode with our talented Rincewind. There is also a delightful one that reminds me an incredibly of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

THE LAST HERO (2001)

The Last Hero by Paul Kidby

The last installment in the Rincewind series is The Last Hero. My copy has been illustrated by Paul Kidby and is beautiful in a Discworldian manner. Vetinari receives a message from the Agatean Empire.

Cohen the Barbarian has set out on a quest with the Silver Horde. “Fingers” Mazda stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind, and was chained to a rock to be torn open daily by a giant eagle as punishment. As the last heroes remaining on the Disc, the Silver Horde seek to return fire to the gods with interest, in the form of a large sled packed with explosive Agatean Thunder Clay. They plan to blow up the gods at their mountain home, Cori Celesti.

Vetinari organises an effort to stop the Horde and Leonard of Quirm (Vetinari’s tame inventor) to design the Discworld’s second known spacecraft to slingshot under the Discworld and back around the top, landing on Cori Celesti. Rincewind, Carrot and the Librarian are slung off to save the world.


1995: Discworld video game, Discworld II: Missing Presumed…!?,

2007: Snowgum Film Run Rincewind Run!

2008: Boardgame: Die Siedler von Catan: Rincewind und der Tourist / Die Gilden von Ankh-Morpork

2013: BBC Radio: Eric

Discworld Monthly: Who’s Who: Rincewind

Fanfiction

TP Official Message Board: Rincewind

Wikipedia: Rincewind

Wiki Lspace: Rincewind