nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
_The Dogs of Babel_ is the first and only novel by Carolyn Parkhurst.

A linguist's wife has died under circumstances that might be a really weird accident or might be suicide--she fell from the top of their apple tree and the only witness was their Rhodesian ridgeback dog.

He decides to try to teach the dog to talk enough to tell him what happened.

Everything in the story has a mundane explanations, but it's got rather a lot about Tam Lin, there's a weird cult of guys who are trying to surgically alter dogs to make speech possible (don't read this book if you can't deal with bad things happening to dogs), and there's a small possibility that telephone psychics occasionally have real powers.

I'm not sure whether I'd recommend it. There was so much about emotions that I began to feel suffocated--I'm not sure whether I was dealing with the conventions of a for-women genre that I'm not familiar with, or just that it's a reasonable representation of a man who's pretty isolated and who's grieving hard.

On the plus side, the prose is good, many of the images are vivid, the efforts to teach language to the dog are plausible and sometimes funny, and it's interesting to see a book that's neither in the genre nor quite out of it.

Any recommendations for other books that aren't quite sf?
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
_The Dogs of Babel_ is the first and only novel by Carolyn Parkhurst.

A linguist's wife has died under circumstances that might be a really weird accident or might be suicide--she fell from the top of their apple tree and the only witness was their Rhodesian ridgeback dog.

He decides to try to teach the dog to talk enough to tell him what happened.

Everything in the story has a mundane explanations, but it's got rather a lot about Tam Lin, there's a weird cult of guys who are trying to surgically alter dogs to make speech possible (don't read this book if you can't deal with bad things happening to dogs), and there's a small possibility that telephone psychics occasionally have real powers.

I'm not sure whether I'd recommend it. There was so much about emotions that I began to feel suffocated--I'm not sure whether I was dealing with the conventions of a for-women genre that I'm not familiar with, or just that it's a reasonable representation of a man who's pretty isolated and who's grieving hard.

On the plus side, the prose is good, many of the images are vivid, the efforts to teach language to the dog are plausible and sometimes funny, and it's interesting to see a book that's neither in the genre nor quite out of it.

Any recommendations for other books that aren't quite sf?
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Is anyone interested in joining me at the Philadelphia Quilt Extravaganza? on September 19th? (The show runs from the 16th to the 19th, but I'm booked on the 18th, and I'm assuming that few people will be available on the weekdays.)

I've been there before, and there'll be a huge exhibit of ambitious but usable quilts (I feel that art quilts are unclear on the concept), merchants (more kinds of pretty cotton than you can imagine, odd stuff like working miniature sewing machines suitable for travellers, and books), a contest to see who can do the coolest project with an arbitrary quilting fabric, and classes.

Let me know if you're interested and when you'd be likely to show up, and if I could possibly get a ride with you from South Philly.

I tend to look for humorous books about quilting--there isn't much, and I would dearly love to see a book of funny quilts, but I recommend How Not to Make a Prize-Winning Quilt by Ami Simms--it's a description of what it's like to make quilts when you just want to *quilt* and not fuss with things like making sure that the seam allowance on your sewing machine is exactly the right size. The bathroom quilt with the shark's fin in the bathtub is a classic.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Is anyone interested in joining me at the Philadelphia Quilt Extravaganza? on September 19th? (The show runs from the 16th to the 19th, but I'm booked on the 18th, and I'm assuming that few people will be available on the weekdays.)

I've been there before, and there'll be a huge exhibit of ambitious but usable quilts (I feel that art quilts are unclear on the concept), merchants (more kinds of pretty cotton than you can imagine, odd stuff like working miniature sewing machines suitable for travellers, and books), a contest to see who can do the coolest project with an arbitrary quilting fabric, and classes.

Let me know if you're interested and when you'd be likely to show up, and if I could possibly get a ride with you from South Philly.

I tend to look for humorous books about quilting--there isn't much, and I would dearly love to see a book of funny quilts, but I recommend How Not to Make a Prize-Winning Quilt by Ami Simms--it's a description of what it's like to make quilts when you just want to *quilt* and not fuss with things like making sure that the seam allowance on your sewing machine is exactly the right size. The bathroom quilt with the shark's fin in the bathtub is a classic.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
I just read _Red Thunder_, and it was remarkably disappointing. Varley's written some sf that I'm very fond of (notably _The Ophiuchi Hotline_ and _The Golden Globe_ and much of the Nine Worlds short fiction), and part of what I've liked has been his inventiveness. I'm very fond of idea-a-minute sf.

_Red Thunder_, on the other hand, has remarkably little going on. There's a force field which supplies handy propulsion for the rocket, and that's about it.

The plot: A small group of Americans build a backyard spaceship and go to Mars. There are a few minor moments of suspence. For a while, i was hoping that even though it was slow-moving, there was a decent novella somewhere in those 411 pages. There isn't.

OK, politics. The book is libertarian (little rants about guns and drug laws) with a strong ambivalence about the US--it's good that Americans get to Mars first, but better that it isn't a government project.

The problem at my end (and not Varley's fault, I suppose) is that Abu Graib has worn the shine off being an American for me. It's just another country, with some people making an effort not to fuck up totally, but with all too many saying that rage and revenge are more important than kindness or good sense. I can't believe that the "real" America is the dream rather than what actual Americans do and believe. I believe that imagination is part of the world, but it's not the whole story.

Let the Europeans or the Chinese or someone else be first on Mars. I don't care.

Some of this is depression--when I think "what sort of a fucking idiot would let part of their happiness be in the hands of something they didn't create or control?", that's depression, but I don't think all of this is. The process that started with hearing about My Lai and thinking "but Americans don't do that--well, one of them did" just got finished. Damn, this does feel like depression, and not just politics.

I expect that the political news is just going to get worse, but can anyone recommend some good recent sf?
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
I just read _Red Thunder_, and it was remarkably disappointing. Varley's written some sf that I'm very fond of (notably _The Ophiuchi Hotline_ and _The Golden Globe_ and much of the Nine Worlds short fiction), and part of what I've liked has been his inventiveness. I'm very fond of idea-a-minute sf.

_Red Thunder_, on the other hand, has remarkably little going on. There's a force field which supplies handy propulsion for the rocket, and that's about it.

The plot: A small group of Americans build a backyard spaceship and go to Mars. There are a few minor moments of suspence. For a while, i was hoping that even though it was slow-moving, there was a decent novella somewhere in those 411 pages. There isn't.

OK, politics. The book is libertarian (little rants about guns and drug laws) with a strong ambivalence about the US--it's good that Americans get to Mars first, but better that it isn't a government project.

The problem at my end (and not Varley's fault, I suppose) is that Abu Graib has worn the shine off being an American for me. It's just another country, with some people making an effort not to fuck up totally, but with all too many saying that rage and revenge are more important than kindness or good sense. I can't believe that the "real" America is the dream rather than what actual Americans do and believe. I believe that imagination is part of the world, but it's not the whole story.

Let the Europeans or the Chinese or someone else be first on Mars. I don't care.

Some of this is depression--when I think "what sort of a fucking idiot would let part of their happiness be in the hands of something they didn't create or control?", that's depression, but I don't think all of this is. The process that started with hearing about My Lai and thinking "but Americans don't do that--well, one of them did" just got finished. Damn, this does feel like depression, and not just politics.

I expect that the political news is just going to get worse, but can anyone recommend some good recent sf?

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