Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Operation S-Can continues

The first of my Star Trek toys just sold on Ebay. $72 + $10 shipping. For a toy I bought in 1995 for... $14, threw away the box, and let sit in a bin for 13 years. Not too shabby. Not all of them are gold: A lot of them will malinger at $5 and $10, plus shipping, which is still better than throwing them away.

It'll help pay for the replacement tire I had to buy today: you want to have a good spare in the trunk these days. (See last Thursday's blog on that) Very happy to have my complimentary roadside assistance for that.

On to Literature: My mom has suggested that I get into the James Patterson Maximum Ride series - about winged teens saving the world. It's apparently the new Twilight. So I'll be giving that a go. There are 5 books so far - I suspect it's a little less "big Arc" than Twilight and more "and another adventure with...".

Just finished a book by Bruce Sterling - The Caryatids. Sterling is a singularly frustrating author for me: He has such incredible ideas and a great head for the deeper macro causes driving the world he's describing. He builds great situations and backdrops. But he has a tin ear for dialogue and character: I never believe that any person in his stories is acting in a way I comprehend as a human being. It's as if he views people and motivations from a two way mirror without the benefit of audio and guesses at what their actions might mean, but misses the point entirely.

It doesn't help that the core of this book was four bickering clone sisters on a ruined greenhouse-effect earth who hate their clone mother (who is on a chinese space station) and a philandering man who loved them all... none of who acted with any shred of consistency.

An earlier book - Holy Fire - was similarly frustrating: Scientifically, it was a cool concept: A respectable octogenarian woman undergoes an age reversal process, and begins wreaking havoc because she begins thinking impulsively like a teen. There's interesting science to back that up (brain development in teens....), but written in such a way that really didn't relate. I wound up throwing the book down yelling "oh just GROW UP you pouty face". So maybe he did a good job. But it wasn't fun.

Maybe he shouldn't be writing for female protagonists... because I don't feel he gets them even close to right. On the other hand, maybe he writes BRILLIANTLY for female protagonists and I just don't understand because I'm not a female. I'm prepared to accept that possibility. But in either situation, the reading is not very satisfying to me. I'm moving him to my "not all that great for me" column.

Compare and contrast with Neal Stephenson and Charles Stross: They both work in similar veins, but both have a more fluid ear for dialogue and character motivation: I understand where people are coming from and why they're moving the directions they move in their books. It just feels RIGHT. Even when Neal takes for-freaking-EVER to get to the point sometimes....

Allright: Workout stuff. Shockingly, my second attempt at taping BodyAttack failed. A missing two minutes from the middle - I think my taping assistant bumped the red button while moving the camera. Sigh. Try three coming atcha Sunday.

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