December 29, 2008

Kris Longknife: Intrepid, Mike Shepherd

It is not at all generally the case that alluvial soil, after a few days' exposure to air, turns "as hard as concrete". That would be plinthite, probably, on Earth, which gets that way not from an alluvial origin but from high iron concentrations in steadily wet conditions.

Perhaps the planet in question has a lot of iron and arable alluvial soils are also indurable, but it's not something you could expect people to deduce from 'alluvial' and no other data.

That pedogenic detail aside, I have generally enjoyed this space-opera series. The main characters talk about how awful war is in a way that doesn't ring true to me for what adults would actually say, but I can take as a broad-brush painting of how the characters plausibly feel about morally iffy things they know they've decided to do. Possibly it's all aimed at the genre's twelve-year-old ideal reader. This would also explain the great care in knowing when the characters have on their special undies of various sorts; it's all very literal. And, come to think of it, sex is adumbrated, not twee but not laid out lasciviously.

And it mines history, mostly Napoleonic naval and US military, but anything where needed... I had forgotten that a filibuster was originally a opportunist invader from the States.

I was creeped out by Marque and Reprisal because its armed princess heroine decides that anyone who doesn't enjoy killing her enemies is weak. Maybe it's over-picky of me to question the tone of a character I find saner, especially when it makes this readable when actual history is too strong for my stomach. And there's plenty of it, at least six novels now.

Find in a Library: Kris Longknife: Intrepid

Posted by clew at 07:29 PM

December 12, 2008

Strangely filed

Why is this filed as 'For Kids'?

Another example. The thing is, it would not bother or surprise me if there was a popular column on forensic science, read by adults and children.

...Slightly later: the For Kids section samples all the magazine's topics and rewrites some of the articles in a very slightly more informal and explanatory style, and links to the original Science News article. Oh! Good idea!

Posted by clew at 12:31 PM

December 05, 2008

Shelley and science

Mind from its object differs most in this:
Evil from good; misery from happiness;
The baser from the nobler; the impure
And frail, from what is clear and must endure.
If you divide suffering and dross, you may 
Diminish till it is consumed away;
If you divide pleasure and love and thought,
Each part exceeds the whole; and we know not 
How much, while any yet remains unshared,
Of pleasure may be gained, of sorrow spared:
This truth is that deep well, whence sages draw
The unenvied light of hope; the eternal law
By which those live, to whom this world of life
Is as a garden ravaged, and whose strife
Tills for the promise of a later birth
The wilderness of this Elysian earth. 
      -- Shelley, Epipsychidion
    

Or, as a New York Times article summarizes it, "How happy you are may depend on how happy your friendsí friendsí friends are, even if you donít know them at all." One of the dissenters in that article argues that happiness is "the epitome of an individualistic state" -- well, that was someone from the University of Chicago, which (on the whole) is devoted to things more envied than is the 'light of hope'. A bit passť of them, though.

Nation, Terry Pratchett's latest, is on Shelley's side.

Posted by clew at 05:10 PM
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