Cheeseburger Gothic

Legacy of Ghosts. Review

Posted January 10 into Books by John Birmingham

I half recall a promise made by Edgar Rice Burroughs, probably in the opening pages of Tarzan, that once the reader commenced their journey with him, he would so completely carry them so far away from their workaday concerns that the real world would disappear and they would be in the deepest jungle with the ape man.

It is the promise of all good novels.

And a promise Alicia Wanstall-Burke delivered on in LEGACY OF GHOSTS.

I skim-read about a hundred pages of the draft manuscript late last year, with an eye to giving Alicia a cover quote. It was pretty obvious she had the goods on this story, so I happily endorsed the book.

A few weeks ago I went back to it.

The bushfires were at their destructive height (damn those exploding cow pats) and it felt a bit perverse to be watching Netflix while the country burned. Taking refuge in a novel, however? That seemed less gross.

Insert contented sigh.

We’re all still going to die when civilisation collapses soon, but at least we’ll have books in the rubble. It’s early days yet, but THE LEGACY OF GHOSTS, Alicia’s follow up to her debut novel BLOOD OF HEIRS might just have been what I needed to reboot my reading habit. Like most people I’ve had trouble focussing on long form reading the last few years. We all know the reasons. Digital distraction. Too much Netflix. A hyper accelerated news cycle. That guy who was wrong on the internet. (Havoc. It was Havoc),

Sitting down with a book seemed too much like hard work, especially to the screeching dopamine addicted distraction monkey in my head.

I finally went back to Alicia’s novel when the monkey screeching got so loud I couldn’t sleep. It was one hot night, with smoke choking the southern capitals, an army of bots and trolls on the march, and my teetering Netflix stack o’ shame threatening to fall and crush me underneath its immeasurable vastness.

Fuck this, I thought. I’m unplugging.

I picked up my kindle...

Yes, I am aware of the irony, or dissonance or whatever the hell it is, but stay with me.

... I picked up my Kindle and a stiff drink, and repaired to the library to restart LEGACY OF GHOSTS. I meant to read for thirty minutes, after which I’d let myself have another dispiriting flick through the infinite scroll of unwatched and half-watched streaming options.

An hour and a half later I had missed my bedtime.

I finished LEGACY late last night, after blowing through another bedtime hour and it has left me with possum eyes and an irritable, sleep-deprived disposition – at least until I can snag an afternoon nap.

But it was totally worth it.

Alicia’s debut with BLOOD OF HEIRS was impressive, but LEGACY makes a powerful case for her striking improvement as a writer. I say striking because she has done it on her own. No publishing house stood behind her. What you get on the page is her own hard work. She very obviously invests in good editing, artwork and production on the gorgeous looking hardbacks she insists on putting out - but again, these are all artistic production choices she makes, so she gets credit for them too.

And so to the story.

If BLOOD was an origin story for our two heroes, Ran and Lidan (spoiler, it was) in LEGACY we get to watch them grow into their full power. In Ran’s case this literally means the magic he is able to cast on the world, in Lidan’s we marvel not just at her prowess as a ranger, her riding, fighting and leadership skills, but also at her coming into power as grown-ass woman.

The saga, like football, is a game of two halves (sorry) and in Legacy those halves come together, but for me this is Lidan’s story. With Ran we quest through frozen mountain and dusty plain, fight ensorcelled zombies and bitey ice dragons, throw around a bit of Force Lightning and hang out with a cool ghost.

But Lidan has to deal with her parents, and that’s a helluva thing. Dad is the sort of Barbarian chieftain you build to kick serious arse in the Diablo franchise. Mum is... difficult. And there’s the usual trouble with boyfriends, siblings, the walking dead, witches, marauding enemy tribes, a douchebag manchild, knife vs sword, teen drinking, dark curses...

You get the idea. This girl is busy. And she has feelings. Lots and lots of feelings about all this accursed busyness.

The writing, especially of Ran’s passage through the icy towers, and Lidan’s many, many knife fights, is exemplary. It transports in the way Edgar Rice Burroughs promised, carrying you away from your shitty day and into another realm.

I don’t do spoilers, so I won’t discuss plot, but the narrative arcs are precisely engineered and deftly executed. The timing is especially on point, with the disparate subplots coming together in a hugely satisfying way. I found the more I read the more I wanted to read (and the less interested I became in other distractions). Eventually, I found dipping into LEGACY for just a scene or two was an effective break from my own deadlines. That’s something I haven’t done in many years.

Of course now I’m stuck waiting for the next one. Like a chump.

Go buy copy to keep her at the keyboard. I need this.

Legacy of Ghosts (The Coraidic Sagas Book 2)

6 Responses to ‘Legacy of Ghosts. Review’

jl ducks in to say...

Posted January 10
Ditto on appreciating the work Alicia put into this on her own dime; she did a very nice job. My own take on this over at the Beast, etc. Well done, Alicia!

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Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted January 10
I shall look for these two books forthwith!

"Stuck waiting for the next one. Like a chump'.....I too get that from Certain Authors *cough*

Barnesm asserts...

Posted January 10
yes indeed the poetic justice struck me as well.

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted January 10
I desperately want to talk about a plot point, but without spoilers, so here goes... I'm with you on this being Lidan's story. Ran's development as a character and a person is outstanding, but Lidan's journey is the heart and soul of the book, and in particular, (plot point!) her growing into her power not just as a grown ass woman and warrior, but as a leader among her people. There's a series of moments where stuff happens that affects the tribe, and she realises she is seeing these things through a different prism than her elders, and that shift in her perspective is incredibly powerful. I too ripped through this and am utterly bereft that I have to wait. I told Alicia this on Twitter and she just laughed and said she'd better get started writing the third one. Such a cruel mistress! I gave it all the stars at the Beast :)

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balri ducks in to say...

Posted January 10
I’m halfway through Blood Of Heirs after you posted it on Facebook and it’s a cracking read so far. I’ll definitely have to get into the sequel

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Peter Bradley would have you know...

Posted January 13
Outstanding. Loved her first outing. I wasn't aware the next book had been released. I promised myself not to read a trilogy (or series in fact) again until the whole lot was out but then I slip and I impatiently wait - Looking at you JB. Onto it now.

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The Shattered Skies. (Teaser)

Posted January 8 into Writing by John Birmingham

I'm deep into the deadine for the next book in this series. To keep myself honest (and motivated) I might drop the occasional paragraph in here. This is a from an early chapter.

At this distance, the star was a far away point of light, slightly larger, slightly brighter than the thousands of its kin scattered through the local cluster. Solar winds streamed out from the G2 main sequence burner, ionised particles and magnetic fields whipping through the heliosphere, inflating a protective bubble around the local volume, safeguarding the planets within from the harsh radioactive bath of interstellar space. In one sense the volume was small. Just one rocky planet and two gas giants, a modest little neighbourhood that had nonetheless occasioned a savage conflict between two human tribes over their contending claims to that remote and lonely world. In another sense, of course, the measure of three dimensional space both tribes thought of as the local volume was immense; so impossibly vast that the human mind was actually incapable of truly understanding it, having evolved over millions of years to comprehend distance as something measured in the number of steps needed to find food or water in a small patch of forest or savannah. At the very edge of this unimaginably huge, somewhat fluid area of space, in the electromagnetic turbulence of the constantly moving boundary between the bubble of the star’s heliosphere and the radioactive plasma of the interstaller medium, something profound was about to happen. The structure of spacetime itself suddenly flexed and warped before utterly collapsing to vomit up first one, then two human spacecraft.
A tribe had returned to its hunting grounds.

4 Responses to ‘The Shattered Skies. (Teaser)’

she_jedi mutters...

Posted January 9
Oh this is GOOD! I loved The Cruel Stars so much I can’t wait for the sequel.

Unrelated, but I went to watch the new season of the Expanse yesterday, only to discover I hadn’t watched S3. I spent about 10 mins confusedly wondering how the hell I missed an entire season in the switch from Netflix to Amazon Prime, only to realise that now I had TWO seasons to binge. WIN! The reason I bring this up is that it is filling the Cruel Stars universe shaped hole in my life until you’re done writing the Shattered Skies. Just sayin’.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted January 9
This is certainly stimulating the cerebral juices (esghh!) in anticipation for the next book. Just checked, doesn't appear to be available to pre-order. How will the beast of Bezo's know how awesomely this tome is anticipated if we can't pre-order it yet?

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 9
Related to your Authors for Firies offer on the twitz, I'd like to see Skomo D'Nyer and P-Turr Dartton punched in the face by someone like B'Ruz B'Chanee and R'Za B'Rati.

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Therbs reckons...

Posted January 9
Now all I want to know is the condition of the occupants of those interstellar craft. That is aside from them being bits of space barf, probably carrot. Are they space barf carrot? if so would a space wabbit eat them?
Can't really see a giant bugs bunny munching on a couple of shiploads of your characters but it would be as funny as fuck.

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Panda charger

Posted January 7 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

I bought myself a very cheap Qi charger from the Beast of Bezos over Christmas, one of a bunch of drunken purchases that have started to turn up at my PO box.

This thing was about $11 and I had my doubts it would even work.

It works, and surprisingly well. I have a chunky OtterBox case on my iPwn 11. It's thick and ungainly but it provides good drop protection - already tested and verified in the field.

It's so thick and difficult to remove, however, that I'd already decided I wouldn't be trying to crowbar it off everytime I wanted to used a Qi charger. Not a problem, as it turns out. My Chinese Panda friend is powerful enough to send plenty of life giving e-vibes through the case. I guess if its powerful enough for the Ministry of State Security to harvest the keyclicks from all of my bank logins, it can trickle charge a phone thru 5mm of plastic.

I've got it sitting on my desk next to the iMac, plugged into a USB slot around the back. It's not actually wireless charging as some claim. The USB cable puts the lie to that. But it is an oddly compelling use case to have a tiny panda face to drop my phone or airpods onto where they will quietly fill their batteries.

I dont know why it's so much more satisfying than the lightning plug I have on the other side of the desk. But it is.

7 Responses to ‘Panda charger’

Dave W reckons...

Posted January 7
I got an ikea one. Damn thing doesn't work- which might be due to being my eco-system being robot-based. But I did like the idea if being able to charge the device at the same time as having headphones in the jack, being that there isn't a separate headphone jack.

*sigh*

Why isn't there a solution to _every_single_one_ of my first-world problems?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted January 7
I was a bit surprised when mine did work, to be honest. I'm not sure why I like it so much - besides the panda face. I think it's the way it allows me to charge without having to think about it or take conscious action. I just set the phone down and it charges. Whereas even taking a moment to plug in the lightning cord seems a grotesque imposition on my very valuable time.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 7
As I am an iPhone 7 user http://s0.limitedrun.com/images/1279417/Sad_Panda.png

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she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 8
I lashed out on AirPods a couple of weeks ago because of the inability to charge my effing phone and plug my headphones in at the same time without a stupid arse dongle. Thanks Tim Cook! And bugger me if they are not simply the best headphones i’ve ever had. I bought a pair of Bose wireless sporty headphones a while ago which were quite good, but the AirPods leave them for dead. I find myself super impressed and weirdly annoyed by this all at the same time, but you will have to lever my AirPods from my cold dead hands now. Sigh.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 8
*Whispers*

"AirPods Pro are better."

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 9
Oh stop it lol

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted January 10
I, on the other hand, would be disappointed to discover that the device didn't indeed charge pandas.

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What is to be done?

Posted January 6 by John Birmingham

It’s a bit hard to keep smiling isn’t it? I know I promised to keep it light around here, and I intend to stick to that promise, but everything is so dark at the moment it’s not easy. Ash and smoke has literally blotted out the sun in so many places. In others it has turned the world deep, blood red - the sort of thing Cormac McCarthy might have imagined for one of his post 911 apocalypse metaphors.

It is easy to despair. Easier still to anger.

My patience with climate change denial is at an end. It now simply enrages me. Even sitting in my pleasant cafe as I do on a Monday morning, I feel my brain heating with fury as I typed the words ‘climate change denial.’

And yet I have friends who are skeptics at best, if not actual deniers at worst. I’d Iike to maintain those friendships. I don’t know if it will be possible in the long term, but I suspect the only way might be through changing myself first.

Everything I’ve learned about human psychology tells me people will not change beliefs that are critical to their self image until their actual existence is threatened AND EVEN THEN they will fight to hold onto as much as they can.

Eventually, I suppose, I’ll have to decide whether I can have people like that in my life, but if I expect them to change I should first look at myself.

What could I be doing differently?

One thing, surprising to me when I realised it, was this. I am almost as ignorant of the science of climate change as any casual, lazy denier. I haven’t read the reports I’ve cited in columns. I don’t keep up to date with the latest findings. I scan the headlines, get angry, send a tweet.

So as a start I can at least educate myself. I can read the reports, or more likely the executive summaries because, lets face it, there have been millions of pages of reports and papers and findings published now.

That would be a start and it would make it easier to talk with people who—in good faith—can't bring themselves to accept the science of climate change for whatever reason. I would at least have something other than my anger to offer them.

27 Responses to ‘What is to be done?’

insomniac asserts...

Posted January 6
Knowing the science will just make you more angry with the deniers. You will see so much more clearly how wrong they are.
I'm in a space where I can't be bothered arguing the points any more. It's impossible, and will remain impossible as long as Rupes is around, although as I've seen you mention, the more evil Darth Lachlan will follow. Having DT, SM and BJ in power can't be good either.
So we're talking forever in terms of argument and logic. These fires might be the thing that gets people moving, especially when they start happening every year. A bit of fire up the arse. The heat too. Records being broken, not just year on year, but day on day. And water...maybe not wars but certainly battles.
ms insomniac and I have four small grandchildren. The oldest is four. What world are they inheriting? The one for our children will be bad enough.

I need more vegemite.

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tqft puts forth...

Posted January 6
Starter pack: The Garnaut Review 2008, which has been widely cited the last few days

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227389894_The_Garnaut_Climate_Change_Review

Someone might have a better link


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andrew swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 6
Point them at xkcd 1732 "Earth Temperature Timeline". It's both entertaining and (IMO) convincing to those who argue that "climate has changed in the past".

What burns me most is those (like our Prime Minimal) who claim to acknowledge the science and the facts, but that "we can't solve it" because "we are only 1.5% of the world". As if that argument to pure greed and entitlement can be convincing. I prefer the Asimov quote I found when reading about his recent 100th birthday:

"There's no way I can single-handedly save the world or, perhaps, even make a perceptible difference -- but how ashamed I would be to let a day pass without making one more effort."

jl ducks in to say...

Posted January 6
Yes, climate has changed in the past. In a few cases with utter disaster. Google the K-T extinction, and the lesser known but deadlier P-T extinction. Frightening to read about.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted January 6
That was a good link. Thx.

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jl asserts...

Posted January 6
Here in the heart of the historical US coal country, I completely understand what you are saying. Try looking at the problem from another perspective; not at what may happen in the future, but what has happened (with overwhelming evidence) in the past. Simply Google "Geologic Climate Change" and read from any number of perfectly reputable university based, user-friendly websites. People who may get testy about future-based computer models will usually accept the evidence of past ice ages and warming periods without qualm. Go from there- it is but a short intuitive jump to compare current CO2 emissions, etc., with volcanic eruptions and weather fluctuations in the past. To borrow from Battlestar Galactica; "This has happened before. It will happen again."

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jl reckons...

Posted January 6
Yeah, reading about past climate change events can really curl the toes. Go here and check it out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian–Triassic_extinction_event A real gem from that article? This sentence: "Studies in Bear Lake County, near Paris, Idaho, showed a relatively quick rebound in a localized marine ecosystem, taking around 2 million years to recover." Relatively quick rebound? Good God, a mere two million years.

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jason mumbles...

Posted January 6
I work in this sphere and my standard response to climate deniers is "it's like cancer, ignore it and you die, treat it now and it might get better". When it comes to cancer we trust the science and the people who have been studying this for years, there's no difference.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted January 6
I think I'll be using this one from now on.

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 6
I admit to despair as I look around. On social media I found a post "Things aren't getting worse, more things are getting uncovered ...." which helped. But when the dispair threatens to overwhelm I find some genre speeches help - If I might paraphrase Lord of the Rings "I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come, when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship, but it is not this day! An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, stand, men of the West!"

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted January 7
Well, I've read a fair bit.

I keep getting told something along the lines of, "We've got ten years."

Or, "The next ice age . . . "

Or, "We'll all be starving by . . . "

And this was back when I was a kid in the 1970s.

Seems to me that the problem is akin to slavery in America prior to 1865. They needed the slaves to run their economy, we need petro chemicals to run ours. We have alternatives, nuclear being the most effective at solving energy generation, desalinization (we have a water problem), and getting more electric vehicles on the roads. But then say, "nukes," and people freak out worse than the current problem.

As for wind and solar, up in DeKalb County, which served as the setting for Milo County in my own Tearing Down Tuesday stories, people are at each other's throats over wind turbines. Having visited the region a couple of years back . . .

The reality of the massive monstrosities, which have their own problems, I can see why people hate them.

So, I don't know, man. Seems to me, we're doomed to burn, because not only can no one agree on what the problem is, no one can agree on solutions, or if a solution is even needed.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted January 8
That's very defeatist Murph. It's not that people can't agree on solutions. People can't agree on anything. That's just human nature.

Sometimes that aspect of human nature leads to enjoyably unimportant distractions like "Who's the better starship captain; Kirk or Picard".

And sometimes that aspect of human nature imperils human civilisation. Like now.

There exists huge economic incentives to encourage conflict over contending solutions. A trillion dollar fossil fuel industry isn't going to pull its own plug.

But there also exists huge incentives to solve the problem. I read the other day that the first trillionaire will be the guy the who solves the energy problem.

It seems a legit prediction to me. Although I would not be surprised to see the big fossil fuel companies re-engineer themselves as renewables businesses. They've known what was coming since the early 1970s and they are some of the biggest investors in renewables research and development.

As for climate change denial, that's just entrenched interests and Russian bots. Yes, we have Russian bots here now too.

Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted January 8
Realist, not defeatist.

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted January 7
And frankly, I'm far more interested in things I can actually fix.

Like keeping kids from drowning in pools. Small goals.

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Dave W reckons...

Posted January 8
My issue with the argument that wind turbines are monstrosities or are terrible is that coal mines, trucks or trains carrying the stuff and the power stations are not exactly photogenic or without health issues themselves.

jason ducks in to say...

Posted January 8
I may have a biased view but i see wind turbines as being a piece of art on the landscape. The slowly turning blades are hypnotic, the design sleek and beautiful. The only thing about coal mines is we tend to hide them away. Compare the two on an equal basis and there is no contest.

jl asserts...

Posted January 8
The aesthetics are the least of the problem (even though very old coal mines can make good swimming holes, albeit dangerous). The real problem is the poisoning of the aquifer through Acid Mine Drainage. A little chemistry; H2O+Pyrite(FeS)=FeO+H2SO4. Translated? Add water to fool's gold (which occurs in coal veins) and it produces rust and sulfuric acid. The rust blocks out sunlight in the water, and the sulfuric acid lowers the ph of the water. This creates dead, unusable bodies of water.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted January 8
Seeing an array of wind turbines from the air off the coast of England is infinitely more beautiful than the ugly scars you see flying over the Hunter or similar mining regions.

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted January 8
About half the residents of DeKalb County, Missouri have a decidedly different attitude about wind turbines. Namely, they hate them.

Never mind that the revenue taxes from the company that runs them renovated Maysville Public Schools for the first time since the 1960s.

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted January 8
I was in Jordan in 2018 and we visited the ruins of a crusader castle. On the hill next door was a wind farm. The contrast was startling but beautiful.

Dave W would have you know...

Posted January 8
Yes, but why do they hate them, Murph?

Is it because power generation is happening in their backyard, rather than somebody else's? Because it has to happen in someone's backyard.

Dick mutters...

Posted January 8
Hi Dave.

My sister and brother-in-law have a large wind farm next door to their farm. The nearest turbine to their house is only about 200 metres away. Their concern is the sub-sonic noise. They ended up buying another house in town (about 40 km from their farm) just so they could sleep properly a couple of nights a week. I think there probably just needs to be more science on this, and a minimum distance prescribed between turbines and homes.

Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted January 9
Hi Dick,

I apologise- below (and I missed the respond button in my haste) I explain that I wished to retract the comment.

David

Dick would have you know...

Posted January 9
Apology not necessary. Just pointing out my experience. I personally don't have an issue with them, but I don't have to live next to one.

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted January 9
Dick covered it.

I drove up to DeKalb County back in 2017 for the first time in a long time.

The science fiction writer in me was a bit awestruck to see something I had written about in my stories manifest in my lifetime.

The boy in me who spent his summers up there? The things are creepy as fuck.

I don't hate them myself, but like Dick, I don't have to live by them.

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Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted January 8
I'd like to retract this, it is mean spirited and unnecessary of me.

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spiral ducks in to say...

Posted January 30
Bill gates is trying to build carbon engineering plants and plans to be carbon negative by 2030 meaning it will have eliminated the entire carbon they have used since their inception (which is really damn impressive tbh).

it's a drop in the water given that other companies don't necesseraly do the same, but it helps me see that sometimes, even some people who could massively profit by letting things go as they have, try to do the right things and come up with really cool ideas.

https://image.cnbcfm.com/api/v1/image/105982367-1561156199572carbonengineeringthumbnail.jpg?v=1579697112&w=1910

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Reading again

Posted January 3 into Books by John Birmingham

I don’t know that anybody actually makes New Year's resolutions. And if they do, it’s a righteous certainty they don’t keep to them. So I did not resolve to read more novels this year. I just thought I would try. Because it’s a good idea.

Jo Tovey wrote a beautiful piece in the Grauniad a few weeks ago about losing her ability to read novels:

It was early September and I had only just finished a novel I began in April. In the same amount of time the first Gulf war was almost over.
For months the novel sat atop a mounting pile of other, unread books on my bedside table, a stack that started as aspirational but grew into a tower of shame.
It wasn’t that I disliked what I was reading (Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room). But almost every night it was pitched in battle against powerful forces – my phone, my post-work bleariness and my internet-enfeebled attention span – and the book was losing.

Reading books was something Jo once did willingly and joyfully. But she confessed that as she spent more of her life online, reading books became harder.

Testify wordsister. I read enormous volumes every day. A lot of it consists of my own raw first drafts, waiting for the firm slap of editorial correction, but even more is the huge piles of reading matter I have to get through for research.

Fiction gets squeezed out on that end, but also as JT admitted, by the constant, distracting screech of the online. And especially of worthless social media. I’ve been pretty good at cutting back on that, mostly to preserve time and attention for work. I’ve also been more consciously diligent about posting here, rather than wasting time with blipverts like Facebook posts or tweets.

But reading fiction really is the gold standard for taking a true break from the world. I like TV. I love that we’re in a golden age right now. I hope to do some work there. But streaming an hour or two of The Witcher is not as relaxing as removing myself from this veil of fire and tears by reading an hour of, say, The Legacy of Ghosts; Alicia Wanstall-Burke’s follow up to The Blood of Heirs.

I did this last night, sitting in the library, running a timer, thinking I’d make myself read for an hour before firing up Netflix. I startled a little when the timer went off because I’d become lost in the story again. (I read it quickly, late last year to provide a cover quote). A small band of adventurers was adventurin’ through a frozen wilderness beset by doubts about their quest and the tyranny of bitey monsters.

It was vividly written and so far removed from the sorrows of the real day (with the land on fire and Smoko playing at crippled King Théoden) that I found that hour to be genuinely therapeutic. It was, as Jo Tovey attested, a literal joy to read and to be reading.

Anyway, long story short, I’m going to try read for an hour a day. Actually read. Audiobooks, which I listen to in the car, don’t count. Fiction only. And not necessarily literature. There’s no need to go wild here. Because I would inevitably fail at this if I didn’t approach it mindfully, I’m going to time track my reading, the same way I do writing. We’ll see how that works.

In line my renewed commitment to longer form blogging I’ll also try to post reviews as I finish.

Blood of Heirs (The Coraidic Sagas Book 1)

9 Responses to ‘Reading again’

Vovchara is gonna tell you...

Posted January 3
I have a different problem, I spend way too much time reading. Reading on the train on my way to work, and on the way back, reading during the break. Reading on weekends sitting in the park, going to sleep with the kindle falling on my face... this hurts :)
It gets increasingly difficult to find something to read, without a half-naked guy on the cover.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted January 4
'too much time reading' That's not a problem, that's a solution.

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jl ducks in to say...

Posted January 3
Ditto. Been struggling as of late with reading, too. And high on that list? Close to Number One? Legacy of Ghosts, which I need to read and review. Soon.

AuntyLou swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 3
Just what I have been doing today. Legacy of Ghosts is so engaging that my usually gadfly mind has been entranced. I will however admit to sloping off to the twitterverse a couple of times to get suitably enraged by pathetic pollies & creepy minders. Getting back to rotting, knife bearing semi-corpses becomes a welcome relief...

jl reckons...

Posted January 3
Yeah, some life issues have my attention at the moment. I need to beta a friend's book, and review Alicia's and I'm having trouble reading. This is a first. Even in the mountains I read (until my trusty Sony e-reader died). Hopefully this strange ennui passes soon.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted January 4
I found the goodreads site a useful tool to track just how many books I read, (short answer not enough). I travel a lot on public transport everyday so I do burn through the books, but I am unsure if it's as immersive in the way that you describe "I startled a little when the timer went off because I’d become lost in the story again" so I try to read for the 30minutes before bed see if I can evaluate the different quality of reading.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 4
I do read before bed, but I find I don't last long. Usually just a couple of pages, so I try to find at least half an hour earlier.

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jason is gonna tell you...

Posted January 6
I have just discovered (too late sadly) Andrew McGahan and am having trouble finding enough time to read.

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she_jedi would have you know...

Posted January 8
I too have struggled with reading this year. I’m reading A LOT, but like JB the proportion of fiction books is suffering in the face of the tsunami of current affairs, university readings and politics that I keep getting distracted by. For Christmas my parents and I went on a cruise to New Zealand, and I had a total of 5 days without wifi as we were at sea. And lo! I read. I burned through an actual analogue book my BFF gave me for Christmas, and then a reread of The Hogfather, because Christmas. And I feel like i’ve reconnected with something vital again, particularly the pleasure of actual pages in the hand.

Also Legacy of Ghosts is the absolute GOAT (present authors excepted of course), and was one of the few books of 2019 that held back the tide of distraction and demanded it be read before all else, which in this world of shattered concentration is the highest praise imaginable. Everyone should read it if you haven’t already.

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Snowflakes

Posted December 24 by John Birmingham

I followed a link from Murph's facebook page to this lovely piece of writing by a former special forces soldier who had gone back to college, at Yale, at the age of 52. He expected snowflakes. The snowflakes surprised him.

My first class of the semester was absolutely terrifying. I don’t know if it was so for the kids in my class, but it damn sure was for me. It was a literature seminar with the amazing Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature, Professor David Quint. He is an amazing human in that he has dedicated his life to literature, and he knows what he is talking about. The discussion was centered around the Iliad. I had read a bit of the Iliad in the middle part of my military career and decidedly didn’t get it. Listening to Professor Quint demonstrated exactly how much I didn’t “get it.” The other students looked like children to me. Hell, they are children, but when they speak, and some of them speak english as their second language, they sound like very well-spoken adults. My Navy issued graduate degree in cussing wasn’t going to help me out here. These young students had a good grasp of the literature and although they lacked much experience to bounce it off of, they were certainly “all in” on trying to figure out its underlying meaning.

The whole piece, at Medium, is one of the best essays I've read this year. Totally worth a few minutes.

6 Responses to ‘Snowflakes’

insomniac puts forth...

Posted December 24
I see some of that with my kids and ms insomniac's also where they say or do something, and it makes you think, "wow, you have all your shit together". Other times not so much.
As for tuning into other news sources, I know it's important but it's so hard. There's so much dumb and it's impossible to deal with that for any length of time. It's dreadful to think it, but perhaps it will take half the state burning to get through to enough of these people for public sentiment to impact upon certain politicians, particularly Smoko, our very own King Cnut (I may not have the spelling right).
Anyhoo, Merry Christmas.

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WarDog is gonna tell you...

Posted December 24
What Insomniac said. The rivers of dumb are deep, swift and wide. It will need lots of bridge builders to navigate past them.

How do we get the whole planet to have that come to Yale moment?

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jason swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 24
I went back to school at 40 and again at 50. The kids in my class were younger than my kids. And they made me very comfortable that the world is in good hands. All we really need to do is get out of their way.

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted December 25
The main thing I do take issue with, and it is probably due to a difference in experience, is that the writer has never had to sit through professors who preach instead of teach, which is what the preponderance of my undergraduate experience was like.

Students, conversely, tend to be pretty cynical when it comes to this type of professor, perhaps as cynical as our former Navy Seal Writer here. So it is probably easier for him to find common ground with the students, his age notwithstanding.

What did surprise me was that he had a generally positive experience with his professors. The professors in my English Literature courses did tend to spend more time actually doing the job of teaching, well enough that I got a minor in the field. I suspect that if one goes to someplace like Yale you probably get a higher grade of professor.

In any case, his reflections on his fellow students is in line with what I have seen in my own classrooms. I still do not care much for, "space space," though. I feel that college is meant to be an abrasive, uncomfortable experience, designed to take a bit of forty grit to preconceived notions.

That is not a bad thing, especially as it sounds as if this guy is getting a fair bit of that.

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted December 25
At least the opportunity to experience this kind of community and scholarship was something a greater percentage of the population has had in the last few decades than ever before in human history. I hope this chance will be offered to more, but I fear it may face a reduction in the future and humanity as a whole will be poorer for it.

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 25
Post 9-11 GI Bill. The rest of us had to go somewhere, umm, else.

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