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Bookshelf suggestions

April 27, 2015

What I’m reading at the minute:

East of West

A futuristic sci-fi Western. Death has abandoned his apocalyptic duties to track down his love, aided by Crow and Wolf, the other three Horsemen have been reincarnated as murderous children, and the great nations are trying to avert/bring about the Apocalypse complete with all manner of political manipulation, backstabbing and out-and-out war.

The character design is outstanding, the art is beautiful.

eastofwest

The Magician King

I read The Magicians last year and it was ace. I’d heard it described as ‘Harry Potter for grown-ups’ but that does it a disservice, sure there’s a school for magic and the (far greater) overtures to Narnia but it’s a great book full stop whether you get the Narnia/Fillory parallels or not. The Magician King is raring to go once I’ve finished…

Raising Steam

I’m enjoying it but I’m not gripped. When I was younger I’d start a Discworld novel and not sleep till I’d finished but I’m getting through this one. I struggled with Unseen Academicals too if I’m honest but Snuff I lapped right up, I guess Watch/Witches are my thing.

Saga

This is Star Wars-esque in scope. An intergalactic war, a forbidden love, bounty hunters, a ghost babysitter, magic, the coolest cat in science fiction. I’ve read Vols 1-3 and have 4 waiting for a Saturday morning in bed.

lyingcat

Plus a couple of new ones I haven’t read yet:

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

It was cheap on Amazon and it’s supposed to be good I think?

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’

This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

Reminds me a little bit of Unsound Variations the GRRM short story.

Jupiter’s Legacy

I remember reading about this after I saw Frank Quitely on “What Do Artist’s Do All Day?” on iPlayer, if was £5 on Amazon:

The story, which is influenced by Star Wars, King Kong, Roman mythology and origin stories from the Golden Age of Comics, is written as Millar’s treatise on superheroes’ connection to the American ideal. The story explores the generational conflict between a group of aging superheroes who used the powers they gained in 1932 for the betterment of mankind, and their children, who are daunted by the prospect of living up to their parents’ legacy.

Might have a read of him tonight.

Talking of cheap on Amazon, you can get the first three series of Korra for £5, £7 and £7 respectively. Bargain!

Time is a drug

March 14, 2015

Too much of it kills you.*

I think Terry Pratchett is the only author with the distinction of having his own shelf on my wall. I read Guards! Guards! when I was 11, the rest of the Disc soon followed, and I have re-read every single one of them I don’t know how many times.

I can think of few writers whose works are as full of wit and character.

* Small Gods

Ants are awesome

February 25, 2009

Review of a new book about Superorganisms that shows how amazing ants really are:

Pursuing the same reasoning, Hölldobler and Wilson argue that the nests of some ants correspond to the skin and skeleton of other creatures. Some ant nests are so enormous that they are akin to the skeletons of whales. Those of one species of leafcutter ant from South America, for example, can contain nearly two thousand individual chambers, some with a capacity of fifty liters, and they can involve the excavation of forty tons of earth and extend over hundreds of square feet. Coordination within such giant colonies, which can house eight million individual ants, occurs through ant communication systems that are extraordinarily sophisticated and are the equivalent of the human nervous system. Not all ant species have reached this level of organization. Indeed, one of the most successful groups of ants, the ponerines, rarely qualifies for superorganism status.

As well as some of the random experiments we do with them:

It has recently been found that ant explorers count their steps to determine where they are in relation to home. This remarkable ability was discovered by researchers who lengthened the legs of ants by attaching stilts to them. The stilt-walking ants, they observed, became lost on their way home to the nest at a distance proportionate to the length of their stilts.

I’ll add this to my favourite ant fact about the pheromone given off when some species die that in small quantities attracts more ants (to help fight off threats) but in larger quantities repels them (so the whole colony doesn’t die for a lost cause) and the awesome video of them building a raft.

The whole thing also brings to mind Granny Weatherwax ‘borrowing’ the swarm.