Currently Reading

Image result for the fifth season nk jemisin

I’m reading the 2o15 Hugo Award winner for Best Novel, The Fifth Season. It’s the start of an epic fantasy series by N.K. Jemisin called The Broken Earth.

Here’s what the Atlantic had to say about it:

The Fifth Season is a stunning piece of speculative-fiction work, and it accomplishes the one thing that is so difficult in a field dominated by tropes: innovation, in spades. A rich tale of earth-moving superhumans set in a dystopian world of regular disasters, The Fifth Season manages to incorporate the deep internal cosmologies, mythologies, and complex magic systems that genre readers have come to expect, in a framework that also asks thoroughly modern questions about oppression, race, gender, class, and sexuality. Its characters are a slate of people of different colors and motivations who don’t often appear in a field still dominated by white men and their protagonist avatars. The Fifth Season’s sequel, 2016’s The Obelisk Gate, continues its dive into magic, science, and the depths of humanity.

I don’t read a lot of fantasy and I wanted to read authors outside my own white male demographic so this highly recommend book fulfills that need to break out of my bubble.

I’ll be certainly picking up the next book in the series.

December Catch-Up

I’ve often been told by my homeowner friends that the first few years of owning a house is a bit of a strain on the finances, unless they’re my loaded homeowner friends who are simply allowing their lives to unfold as they expect them to. So we’re broke and facing a much more modest Christmas than years past. So far, presents have included a new hot water tank as a gift to each other.

In general, for every birthday, anniversary, and now Christmas, we’ve just been saying to each, “Happy Birthday/Anniversary/Christmas! I bought you a house!”

Still, we do see a light at the end of the tunnel when cash will be flowing a little more freely and we’ll just need to be frugal until that time comes.

In the meantime, renovations on a budget have begun. The downstairs powder room has been repainted Tardis blue. Our winter project is to tear up the carpet in the rec room, paint the walls, and put down a new floating floor and moulding. Further down the line, more rooms will be painted and the kitchen will be spruced up (without actually replacing the cabinets until a later date).

Now repeating kindergarten, James is now getting help for his dyspraxia from the Mackay Centre on Friday afternoons. But there is some concern from his teachers about his ability to handle a mainstream school. This a big worry of mine because I want him to manage his developmental delay enough to do regular schools with his friends. He has gross motor skill issues, some emotional issues, and an almost violent obsession with screens. But he loves books and our nightly reading of The Hobbit. But all of this will be discussed with his doctor in terms of options for the future. It’s a source of a bit of stress but we’re managing.

akta

On a happier note, we are now obsessed with a TV show call Real Humans that just finished its first season on Space. Broadcast in Sweden as Äkta människor, Real Humans takes place in an alternate present in which humanoid robots (or Hubots, as they’re called) are integrated in society as a servants and workers. This leads to a number of issues with regards to labour, friendship, politics, discrimination, and sexuality. Some Hubots, thanks to an obsessed scientist, have become free and wish to free other robots. These Hubots are lead by a Chrissie Hynde lookalike.

The show works really well when it presents the social issues and not quite as well when it gets down to the actual plot of the series involving a government conspiracy. It felt as though the writer was more interested in Hubots like Rick, the creepy personal trainer model who is altered to become his owner’s boyfriend and then starts behaving erratically. Some plot threads get dropped (or perhaps put off until season 2) but overall, it’s an engrossing series.

I’ve also been attending a writers’ class at the local library and as a result, have been writing a bit of fiction here and there that may, one day, get sent to a publisher. Maybe. I write about 500 words here and there, when I can steal time. Over the past couple of sessions, I’ve been presenting a science fiction story as I’ve developed it. One participant kind of sniffed and suggested it wouldn’t pass muster with the Quebec Writers Federation who prefer more literary efforts.

That instantly reminded me of Tom Gauld‘s famous cartoon.

jetpack

Other than that, work is good. I.T. is a whole other world from where I was. I do conference calls with Mumbai so that’s new. I have another week and a half of In work before Christmas and then we’ll be spending the back end of the holidays in Saint John. Hopefully we’ll meet up with some friends we haven’t seen in a while.

In Which My Fascination With The Origins of Modern Humans Continues

The main reason I keep a subscription to National Geographic is that, once a year, they publish an article about the latest findings in the field of anthropology. The idea that, thousands of year ago, we shared living space with different branches of our family tree is something I love reading about in as much as I wonder how our world would have looked had these other ancestors survived.

Today, there is an article at the National Geographic website which suggests Neanderthals may have survived longer than we previously thought. One of the theories about their extinction was that they died at the hands of our modern ancestors. Or it could have been environmental. In Robert J Sawyer’s trilogy, The Neanderthal Parallax, a parallel world is discovered where Neanderthals not only are the dominant species of humans on Earth, but they’ve also created a kind of ideal society of environmental sustainability, low population, atheism, and open marriages. They also carry a recording device embedded in their arms so that everything you ever do or is done to you is recorded for posterity. This is regarded as a good thing. But generally the novels put forward the theory that Neanderthals were not “less intelligent” than modern humans.

I guess that’s why I’ve always liked science fiction because a lot it deals with how humans cope with meeting a competing intelligence. Our track record, and how we deal with our contemporary primate cousins, suggests that we still have a lot to learn.

“Why is the Red Lantern Green?!”

I blew off Fringe the first season, assuming it was an expensive remake of The X-Files and, well, I watched the X-Files. So why didn’t anyone tell me it was this awesome thing about a mad scientist who kidnapped his late son’s alternate universe counterpart? And Leonard Nimoy is the bad guy? And there are these bald guys from the future, maybe, who eat banana pepper sandwiches, and in the alternate everyone travels by zeppelin, you can’t get coffee, and Green Lantern was red, and most insane of all, Eric Stoltz was in Back the Future.

Why am I only seeing this now? Damn it, I’m supposed to be on top of this stuff. Damn this middle-aged life and its responsibilities.

LOST: The End. Explained. (Spoilers, obvs)

Ok, so this post contains an image from the last 10 minutes of the last episode of LOST. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a good idea to look away now.

Ok?

You’ve been warned.

So I’ve been mulling it and over and after all the smoke and the polar bears and the Apollo bars and that Nikki and Paolo business and Dharma bums and pockets of energy and Egyptians and Richard’s eyeliner and Dr. Marvin Candle and teleporting rabbits and invisible peanut butter and We All Everybody and corks, I think it all came down to one thing: that church. I mean, seriously, check out that stained glass window.

I’ll let Christian Shepherd explain it: