A long way from home

Just a few weeks until the big journey begins with my adult child, there is a strange concept, Thomas. The plan is to return to England and visit his grandparents and celebrate a coming of age for Thomas. This is a time of great joy, pride and sadness, it is hard to give up those ultra-protective, some might say controlling,  instincts,  I have.

We don’t’ really have a plan apart form the Cropredy music festival, some time in London and then a drive through Wales back to my parents. Maybe we will blog maybe not.

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The Kink’s “Long Way From Home” is one of those songs that takes you by surprise makes you pause and think, Ray Davies is the master of this sort of song. This at times truly expresses some of the thoughts that go through my mind as I watch my eldest getting ready to leave his home.

It is also poignant as I get ready to take Thomas back to England to visit his grandparents. I have really for the last 16years living in the USA been at home but at the same time a very long way from my roots.

“Now you think your wiser because you’re older” I sometimes need this to be said to me. We all sometimes need to be told this.

Anyway the link to the song is above if you have the need to hear it.

 

Paradox

The reading continues. The shelves are flooding and I have made a vow to buy no books before the England trip, I will use this trip to search out some J.G.Ballard though as his books are difficult to find in the USA even with my willingness to buy online now for those difficult to find books.

A major part of my shelves seem to be groaning under John Brunner’s books, “Stand On Zanzibar”, “The Crucible of Time”, “The Sheep Look Up” and many others all stare at me begging to be read so going against the grain I chose “The Children of Thunder.” There was no reason apart from it was not one of the classics of his so it may be good to begin with something a little more unknown. It is not a bad book by any means. It has a good premise for a story, set in the eighties at the onset of the awareness of AIDS and the paranoia that accompanied that disease. Along with the very right of center emphasis of the political landscape it is set in, racism, paranoia, fear, poverty and wealth, all were part of the eighties I remember growing with.

The book however is a series of connected vignettes that do make a cohesive story, but the sum is definitely not better than the parts. Brunner is  a skilled writer but the obvious nature of the ending with all the children being the off-spring of one man was a  disappointment as I was hoping for something more sinister, involving pollution, government experiments etc. All these elements are in the story but just left hanging.

Also my biggest question about the story is why did the children all end up using their powers for selfish gain, not one child could see outside itself. The reason given in the book is lack of parental involvement from birth parents as the majority of the children were products of artificial insemination.

Life Form

Galactic empires, strange life forms and a stiff upper lip attitude, remove the alien nature and you almost have Kipling in space. The Mote in God’s Eye raises all sorts of questions regarding what that elusive first contact may mean, should the military be allowed to be in control, do scientists have enough of a grasp on reality to help make decisions about what is safe for the race and is Empire the most stable and enduring form of government.

Justifiably a classic this is an exciting read that races along, truly alien aliens, nothing about them is remotely recognizable, from their strange caste system to their fixation on the predetermined nature of their future. This is a book that pits the rampant breeding of the aliens against the Victorian morals of the Empire and the Empire appears to win. The book however ends with many questions left unanswered.

This was a bit of a nostalgia fest for me. I first read this book at my Nan’s house one warm English summer. Reading it took me back to that simpler time.

Reading Mote led to the grand daddy of all Galactic Empire stories, Asimov’s Foundation series, another series a little obsessed with predestination, this time the predictive nature of Hari Seldon’s Psychohistory. In this case the Empire in question is in decline and humanity can only be saved by the Foundation created to preserve knowledge and fend off the dark ages ahead of humanity. There are no aliens or strange enemies, the enemy in this case is humanity and it’s willingness to attempt to destroy itself at the drop of a hat. Using religion and free trade and the guiding hand of Seldon the Foundation is to guard knowledge ready for the new beginning of galactic civilization.

I tried to read this as a teenager and was defeated by Asimov’s writing style which relies more on long conversations between his characters than action, this did not win over the adolescent me. I was more enamored at that time in my life with Asimov’s short stories, I took as much joy from reading his introductions as the stories being transported back to the Golden Age of science fiction. T he adult me however found this to be a great read, I now have to find the others although I apparently would do well to avoid the newer novels Asimov wrote.

Life’s a long song

There is a time in everyone’s life when transitions and change happen even if we are not ready for it. Last night I watched two of my three little boys walking away from graduation.

One I am sure excited about his future while the other was wondering what he will do without his biggest brother and who will pick him up and take him for treats after school. Separated by seven years they even walk the same way. The third brother was waiting in the band room at school I am sure with just as much sadness and anxiety as the rest of us although I am sure he would never let anyone know that.

Life truly is a long song and sometimes we are not really ready for a change in time signatures.

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Adjust Me

So dinner is over and new clothes have been bought for the boys on the way to Minnesota and points east.

So the reading, first off was Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro, this is her first book and does not necessarily suffer for that fact. A mixture of space opera and romance, high tech and emotion, it is however obviously the start of a much longer series although the story did not inspire me to go forth and read more.

There is something to be said about massive empire fiction but why is it always a monarchy, has there ever been a novel regarding a socialist empire.

Next came Risen Empire by Scott Westerfield, again the start of a larger series of stories. This book is again a love story, one is a conventional human love story the other thread is a little less conventional with the upgraded cyborg commando and naive ugly little girl. It reads like a first chapter in a novel not the first novel in a series. Full of interesting technology, micro size weapons and space marines. There are also so many ideas for this 200 page plus novel that it feels like an introduction not a full book. Various ideas of immortality are examined, the zombie like longevity of the human empire or the upgrading of the tech empire, this is a fascinating book that has me waiting for his next installment.

You shouldn’t do that

It’s really the trouble with books. The stack of science fiction grows daily, goodwill used bookstores, especially the library bookstore have become addictive. I have now given up loaning books from the library as my own list is overwhelming and the upcoming trip to England brings the promise of more.

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A new day yesterday

So it’s time for a change and a new site to host the blog.

Tom and I are are going to the UK in the summer for three weeks and I was going to turn this into a document about that, the other drivel that is on my mind and science fiction as well, as the reading project continues.

The reading has become more interesting. I am realizing that science fiction as a genre covers much ground. I am drawn to the stranger weirder side of the genre as demonstrated by Ballard, Moorcock, Vandermeer and Mieville. It is also fun to just throw yourself into a good story though that may not be so challenging but is a ripping yarn all the same.
So right now it’s Chris’s bass lesson with Don the bass dude in his garage/studio. Chris really likes his bass lessons it’s make up time though with hour and a half lessons.

This weeks soundtrack has been back to Here and Now, Planet Gong and Alternative TV. Still firmly stuck in the late seventies and early eighties, some things really never change.

The last couple of weeks have really been involved with planting in the garden, many beans, peas, oregano, basil, lots of onions, green and otherwise, peppers, squash, zucchini, spinach, the strawberries have their own space and the return of the dreaded cucumbers, two years ago there were so many cucumbers I ran out of ways to use them. It is so much fin to grub around in the dirt although every time I dig a hole the dog puts his ball in it to be thrown.