Archive for December, 2012

‘Brightness Falls From the Air’ by James Tiptree, Jr.

December 12, 2012

Quite a good science fiction novel. I read this book once already back when I couldn’t read English very well; so this time it was almost as if I had read it for the first time. There might have been a wee bit more adventure/action and a little less interpersonal relationships for my taste, but really I can’t complain; I did enjoy it.

A small company of people wait on a planet on the galaxy’s rim for a cosmic lightshow (plus ‘time-flurries’) which is actually the last remnant of a murdered star. But some of them have secret agendas. — Is this a space opera? Maybe, if a space opera can take place on a very small stage. (Sounds a bit like a James Bond movie taking place in a single location.) Behind the plot — which involves aliens, ‘Black World’ criminals, the far-future equivalent of TV stars, a prince and a test-tube baby looking for her father — this book seems to be (among other things, probably, which I didn’t notice) about dying, about dying well and about the fear of death, that of others and one’s own.

The book reminded me a little of Gene Wolfe in the way in which the author frequently keeps her (‘James Tiptree, Jr.’ is the pseudonym of Alice Sheldon) readers in the dark for a little while, or gives them information they cannot use right away.

Now I’ll have to obtain Up the Walls of the World, Tiptree’s first novel (Brightness Falls … is only her second and last novel; she is better known for her short stories), which I have also read once already, ages ago, in German (Die Feuerschneise). But I got such a heap of good books for my birthday that there is absolutely no hurry; I won’t run out of reading matter any time soon (not that I was in danger of doing so before).


‘The Hobbit’: Postscript

December 1, 2012

One more thought concerning the relation between The Hobbit as a book and as a movie: I also wonder how some of the humor in the book is going to be (or rather has been; the New Zealand premiere took place a few days ago) translated into the movie form, especially the names of the three trolls – ‘Bert’, ‘Tom’ and ‘William Huggins’ – and William’s speaking purse. The movie The Lord of the Rings did have humor, fortunately, but not of this kind. Orcs had suitably inhuman names, and if we had been told any trolls’ names they would presumably have been something like ‘Ugg’ and ‘Thugg’; whereas ‘William Huggins’ sounds more like a hobbit than a troll. Probably their names won’t be mentioned at all in the movie. Nor can I imagine a troll’s purse squeaking, ”Ere, ‘oo are you?’ in Peter Jackson’s movie (it’s hard to see a troll owning a purse in the first place). But I’m willing to be surprised. [I’d like to get those quote marks and apostrophes right in the purse quote above. Can someone tell me how?]

Speaking about surprises, I was pleasantly surprised how many likes and followships (‘The Followship of the Rong’; probably bloggery adepts have a pithy word for this) I garnered by my last post. Maybe I should add the tag ‘Hobbit’ to all my posts? At first, when this happened I suspected these people might be trying to trick me into reading their own blogs: I can imagine someone liking a post of mine, but when the (automatically generated) e-mail says, ‘They thought “…” was pretty awesome‘, that sounds rather far-fetched to me. But it seems to be just ordinary American hyperbole, where ‘nice’ doesn’t mean ‘nice’ any more but ‘bad’, and if you want to convey ‘nice’ you have to say ‘terrific’ or ‘awesome’. What will it be like in ten years, when ‘terrific’ and ‘awesome’ will have been devalued too? ‘Peter Jackson’s new movie was 8 billion percent godlike!’

I rarely take the time to look at other people’s blogs. It’s extremely likely that there are ones I would very much enjoy to read, but I better not start: I get little enough done in life as it is. That being so, I better close and go to bed (and a little more reading). But thanks for liking me, all who did so!