The Alchemist’s Observatorium
[literary salon]: Evolution, Humanity and the Capacity for Belief in China Mieville’s “The City and The City” and “Kraken”
by (c) LibraD 2013
I am a bookfreak, I read just about anything, anywhere. My take on reading is that it is similar to eating and breathing, that’s to say, an essential part of life. For me it is just as important to have read a book, even if it’s only a couple of pages, as it is to eat a sandwich every day. Books keep me sane, they (funnily enough) drag me back to reality and put me back on my feet. They keep me from getting lost in life, which, for me, is not an easy task. Now, as I said already I’ll read just about anything, my favourite books vary between the new Kingkiller series by Patrick Rothfuss, the ancient old Shakespeare, and the slightly less old The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera. However, most of my reading activities tend to remain within the mysterious; fantasy and science fiction. My blog, however shall not be limited to these genres. Now, a little warning; I have a very annoying habit to wander off into ramblings that I only at the moment of writing think of, so ifI sometimes seem to go way very off-topic, I’d like to extend my sincerest apologies for that now, in advance. Secondly, I shall be writing about books, therefore there might be spoilers on the way, I’ll try to keep it to a minimum and I’ll try naming the books in the first couple of phrases so you can decide whether to read on or not.
This is somewhat belated, given that we have less than a handful of episodes to go before Season 1 ends, but I shall be posting my thoughts and spoilerish gushings here in comments. If you’ve watched the latest episode(s) or would like to discuss random things concerning previous episodes, here’s the thread for you to do!
BEWARE, HERE BE MASSIVE SPOILERS!
What is more, this thread ENCOURAGES SPOILERS! (do not read until you’ve watched the most recent episode for the week!)
This thread exists because I am likely to explode with excited spewage throughout this season, and I’d rather not be a spoiler-fiend! The thread is open for everyone who would like to rant, squee, ask questions or debate stuff to do with each episode of Season Two, Game of Thrones. I shall post my own thoughts in comments periodically.
BEWARE, HERE BE MASSIVE SPOILERS!
Or, there should be! Tally-ho!
(v2 – now with capitalization)
(c) TAB 2011
We picked up Albert at age 24 from Switzerland and said “look man, they’re going to turn your dreams into bombs”. We snagged Tesla and then went way out there and got ahold of Archemedes. We brought them back to the base, 1830 in Nevada. We had a huge daoist monastery built out there; machines and tools and water from a secondary and older base in Hawai’i where the king was very happy that we had brought the secrets of steel toolmaking and now the europeans couldn’t boss them around with cheap trade goods. That base was a huge pirate haven by fifty local years later, operating ships all through the North Pacific. Maybe it’s time to back up.
In the summer of 2045 my friends and I decided that engineering was boring without any truly cool projects to work on. Jamal said he could figure out the physics of time travel if he had a couple years to mess with equipment. We wrote an innocuous grant proposal to develop some solutions to a minor problem and got some gear for him. None of us had real jobs except Lu at the library and Mike’s part-time job at the liquor store. It took us three years of eating dumpstered donuts to build a working time machine. By that time, we had some extensive plans.
Obviously a time machine has to let you travel through space too. By adjusting the destination time so that the Earth’s spin would deposit us in another spot on the surface we could go to a lot of places. Not anywhere, but a lot. It had to line up to where we’d be within a few meters of the ground or we’d be flying through some random airstream. We built the machine into a weak helicopter just in case. But this is probably boring without explaining how the time travel part works.
Basically imagine time as being a gelatinous sphere. You can go anywhere and do things and new time branches will just appear. There’s never any erasing timelines from creating logical paradoxes, just making new ones because the original split into identical branches, except the paradox parts. Each outcome gets its own branch, so if you kill your grandfather there’s just a new line without that part of the family in it. In one timeline, you are the proud owner of a dead cat that smells like chlorine. In the other, the cat is just waiting to jump up and scratch your face off as soon as you open that box back up. You can get back to the same old unedited time whenever- if that were worth doing in its case- or just go to new timelines extrapolated from the changes made each time. Or like us you can decide to become time gardeners, go back again and again to one new branch and make it awesome.
I’ve been meaning to do a write-up connecting my experience at Worldcon to the topic which has been brewing for the past couple of months amongst the #mythicfolk community – “The DIY ethos amongst geek communities”, but I’ve not managed to get the time or energy to do so. However, I will offer you pictures from the Saturday and Sunday night filk circles at Worldcon which partially inspired this topic. Led by the talented Ann Poore with her harp, the filkers allowed us to travel to distant lands, to the sets of disaster movies, to outer space, to various zombie apocalypse scenarios and beyond. There was magical harp music, there was a continuing filk dedicated to “Professor Tolkien” (which was played on two nights), there were filkers from Japan and South East Asia! What I was really impressed with was the “filk circle” which was inclusive and even allowed newbies like me to be part of it. The system was “pick, pass or play”, where, if you were not going to play you could either pick a song or a filker, or pass. I was sneaky. I picked Ann Poore to play, twice, because her harp music was beautiful. Also, I was too shy to play my own compositions. Maybe next time.
There was also a harpist from Germany who entertained us with her own compositions inspired by the Lord of the Rings and other fantasy sagas. Beautiful stuff.
Here’s the guy who wrote (and sang) the “Oh Professor Tolkien, What Have You Done”, song. Apparently he writes a lot of filks, but I forgot to take down his name. If any of you know who he is, do let me know! The song is such an earworm!
And this lady, was magical. Her music was the kind of music I’ve come to associate with filks – the old school kind.
Again, I do not know her name.
Why was I inspired by the circle? Perhaps it was the rough and ready aspect of it, the acceptance that even if you didn’t get it right the first time, it was fine. That some people would know other songs and just chime in. It was a spirit of free-flowing creativity that didn’t apologize for riffing off works of sf/f, and which defied the ideas of what a fan should be. It’s this boldness that I admired and which I think is part of the “Open Source” mentality and the D-I-Y ethos that I respect in geek communities. Of course, it’s not all roses. I think that the ideas behind copyright and creativity, appropriation and homage are tied into other issues to do with the D-I-Y ethos. But within the filk universe, everything gels well. Originating creators are respected, as well as these individuals who are creative in their own right. Lurking there amongst them, I decided that they were also mythic folk. Larger than life, creating communities where the mythic texts that were repeated in their songs were works of science fiction and fantasy.
I’d like to talk more about this D-I-Y ethos before October breathes its last gasp, but we’ll see if my wrists -and deadlines – will allow me to do so. But I’m also opening this topic up for discussion, either here or in chat.
(c) 2010 TAB
Raiden was doing the crossword puzzle section of the Gaian Times and had just about finished the last crossword. He checked the clock on the top of the page and noted that he would probably finish today’s set in record time. He sipped on his absinthe; the sugar was settling out of it since he hadn’t bothered stirring it or drinking it too fast. A few more words and he tossed down the paper. He watched the fluffy Florida clouds and took out a pack of Dank Filterless from his tweed jacket and lit one. This place was always amusing, flocks of teenagers sitting around sipping free water and talking about nothing, some adults with dogs or babies or books. They kept this sector at summer all year for the tourists and it felt like hundreds of years ago, usual estadounidense behavior seemed to have been preserved in time somehow here as if capitalism still meant multiple corporate entities and the world were full of nation-states.
(c) 2010 TAB
Hoover is built underground in the area around Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. it is not visible from the surface at all except for carefully concealed and fortified tunnel entrances, often in rocky hills but concealing a road connection to flatter areas. these roads are as short as possible and sometimes seem to lead to nowhere, stopping well before they clear the hills and rocks and sometimes built flat in the middle of nothing but miles of hills that cannot be considered roaded at all. the only area above ground are the Dam and Lake themselves. it is peculiar in that there are often many tracks near the roads. they come not in pairs but as single wheelmarks with strange carvings made into the outsides of the wheels- the only explanation for the way the tracks look, but not something which makes sense. rarely there is a pair with a third track down the center, and these sets of tracks always disappear a short way outside the entrance. the entrances are always closed and when closed resemble natural rock enough to be not easily visible.
Jamin Winans’ new film Ink plays with the classical dichotomy between good and evil. While seemingly linear in motion, Winans has a tendency to make his audience work for the meaning behind his films. Ink takes place in a world where several planes of existence are present. In the “dream world” the Storytellers and Incubi reign supreme. The Storytellers are responsible for good dreams while their darker counterpart, the Incubi, conjure nightmares that people of the “real world” experience in their sleep.
The story begins on a wild yet forthcoming tangent by introducing two of the main characters of the story, Emma and her father. We are then driven into the main theme of the film where we are presented with the abilities of the Storytellers and Incubi and their unique gift to give people the seemingly impossible through the imagination of the dream world. And thus the tragic hero Ink comes to the forefront; a disfigured and socially unadjusted wanderer of the dream world.
It is Ink’s belief that by taking a child sacrifice to the leader of the Incubi he will be saved thus making the final transition into becoming an Incubus himself. What Ink does not yet know is that the journey from one child’s bedroom to the lair of the Incubi will be long and distraught and full of challenges both morally and transcendentally.
With a soundtrack written by Jamin Winans himself and a screenplay co-written by his wife, Ink is a truly mesmerizing journey through the enlightening moments of the human experience. This is one film of 2009 that you will not want to miss out on.
(c) 2009 TAB
Memory was hanging back at the base camp with Mister Renk Cho, who was always either awkwardly talkative or fidgeting with one of his little toys. Right now he was playing some obscure 2D game that he had spent fifteen minutes describing the history of. It was apparently one of the truly timeless classics of the early age of computing. Memory scrolled down her clipboard readout area and set up some readouts. She now watched the power consumption of the entire team’s equipment, as well as the status of the consumables. Right now the team had spent something like eight hundred thousand credits, rising towards that exact figure at a few thousandths of a credit a second.
A thunderclap sounded, maybe a couple kilometers away. Memory looked up around the sky. The closest thing to a raincloud was the sooty emission from a distant volcano. Heat shimmers came off the small rock plateau the base camp was on. A pterosaur glided by lazily and large insects flew among the strange plants.
A sudden breeze gusted into Memory, and she turned her head away from it behind her, and then turned herself around completely as she watched a dimensional hole widening like a violently gushing gas leak tearing itself out from some container, only in reverse. The hot Cretaceous air was being pulled inward with a sucking noise, smelling like mold and ferns rotting. Renk Cho looked up from his game and just dropped his handheld, eyes bulging. He scrambled around checking readings from the potentiality engine and his tools. Memory watched the hole become an elliptical slice over two meters tall and one wide, slowing walking towards it without consciously realizing it. Renk Cho called something out but the humid wind going past her was like a thin waterfall and stripped any meaning from the words. Memory stopped a meter from the opening and waited eagerly. Even though this opening was unscheduled, she was too bored to care. It might be some emergency requiring a recall, and if field assignments weren’t required for career advancement into Central Auditing, she would never have wanted to come here anyway.