Nico (vilakins) wrote,
Nico
vilakins

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Things done and read

Things I have done in the last couple of days include over an hour tootling around on Segways which was great fun (Greg loved this so much, he’s considering buying one to commute on), having a hot stone massage (almost sinfully relaxing), and painting two ceramic cats. Seduced by the gorgeous and extensive range of beads in the Creative Café as it’s called, I also booked in for jewellery making one evening.

I’ve also read five and a bit books while I’ve been here.

The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith. This proved to be the fourth in the series, I think, and there are frustrating references to what has happened since The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I shall have to get the other two from the library. I know some people don’t like these books with their very simple narrative, but it matches the slow, sedate world that fat, wise Precious Ramotswe lives in.

I, Virgil by David Wishart. I didn’t like this much; it was ploddingly pedestrian despite being purported to be told by a poet, and I didn’t like him either. For that matter, no one was particularly real, vivid, or engaging. Luckily his second novel (see below) was a lot better.

Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome. What else should I read by a lake with mountains on the other side, and when better to vicariously enjoy childhood but on holiday?

Ovid by David Wishart. This one’s the first in the Corvinus series, recced by hafren, I think. The eponymous poet is dead before the book begins, so Wishart’s free to invent an irreverent and roguish Roman detective very much in the Marcus Didius Falco mode, though this one’s a patrician and a patron with clients in the Roman rather than modern sense. He uncovers an old conspiracy and a very plausible explanation for Varus’s loss of three legions, and the strangely similar Julia scandals during Augustus’s reign, and entertainingly too. Corvinus is a vivid and witty narrator, and the scene where he’s set upon by thugs and saved by some new legionary recruits had me laughing out loud. I’ll definitely read more of him.

The Many-Coloured Land by Julian May. imhilien recced the whole Galactic Milieu series a while back, and this is the second one I’ve read, the first in the Pliocene series. It’s about 22nd century misfits who choose to go back to the Pliocene on a one-way trip. I’m only a little way in but it’s already made me think about the drawbacks of their peaceful society imposed by powerful and well-meaning aliens. One of the characters is Aiken Drum, an incorrigible thief and practical joker whom they try to reprogram using “metapsychic deep-redact and deprivation conditioning and multiphase electroshock and narcotherapy”, and when it fails, offer him the choice of permanent incarceration, psychosurgical implant of a docilisation unit (a limiter!), or euthanasia. He chooses none of the above: exile to the Pliocene.

Sound like any thief and government we know? I’ve always thought that the Federation started off as a Good Thing with imposed peace and order welcomed by most. That said, I’d probably be quite happy in the Galactic Milieu with all its benefits, tech, and space travel; certainly much more so than in a primitive past.

Tags: books, holiday
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