Tag Archives: Books

A Lament for the Living

Lament for the Living

Well, look what stumbled into my house the other day. No, not a zombie. It was the postman, he almost tripped on the sticky-up-bit of the door before handing me a box from Amazon. Inside was a signed copy of David Nicol’s latest book, Lament for the Living. I gave the postman a quick look to confirm that he wasn’t bitten or moaning and sent him on his way. He looked a bit frightened.

The book is a great read. If you like zombie books you’ll love this one. One scene in particular had me laughing out loud as I imagined it in my head. Unfortunately it turned really grim shortly after so I was, “Errm, oops. Yikes! That turned nasty quickly!”

I liked how the story progressed, even if revelations later in the book were quite disturbing. Nicol twists the story around making me identify first with one lot, then another, then I find they’re .. well, you’ll have to read the book now, won’t you?

Get it on Amazon (US), Amazon (UK) or even itunes. The official page for the book also lists a few more local Amazon sites and other sites where the book can be bought. Amazon let’s you have a sneak peak of the start of the book if you want it.

Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy by the author and I’m friends with him. The links above are not affiliate links. Whether that clouds your judgement of my post or not is up to you. I enjoyed the book.

The original Pinocchio was a dark, grim story

My son Adam has taken an interest in Pinocchio after receiving a little wooden toy that looks similar to the well known character. He watched a few videos on Youtube of the Disney classic and since I knew the original would be available as a Kindle download I offered to read him a few chapters before going to bed.

What an eye opener.

I never saw the original Walt Disney cartoon but I’m familiar with the characters and the story. I’ve only got to chapter 6 of the story but so far Geppetto is in gaol for child(puppet) abuse and Pinocchio has killed Jiminy Cricket (Talking Cricket in the story) with a mallet to the head. (Apparently he reappears alive at the end of the story but it’s not explained how)

.. but unfortunately it struck him exactly on the head, so that the poor Cricket had scarcely breath to cry “Cri-cri-cri!” and then he remained dried up and flattened against the wall.

pinocchio collodi hung

In an awful twist, later on in the novel Pinocchio is caught and hung by the cat and the fox. He dies and “Collodi actually intended that to be the end of his tale, but public outcry from fans got him to return to the story and bring the puppet boy back to life.” (src)

I may read the story for myself, but I’ll track down a book based on the Disney movie instead. It’s not just the much darker imagery and events in the book but also the odd, old fashioned English. It’s difficult going. Reading the story aloud is difficult.

Pinocchio to Talking Cricket: “Take care, you wicked, ill-omened croaker! Woe to you if I fly into a passion!”
The soldier without disturbing himself in the least caught him cleverly by the nose and gave him to Geppetto.

For further reading, you can find the original Pinocchio for free in many places including Amazon. Also take a look at this commentary and this one.

The Joy of Books

This video reminds me of that feeling walking into Waterstones or other book shop of the worlds waiting to be discovered on the bookshelves lining the walls and in the “3 for 2″ piles of books displayed near the door.

I love reading, but I’ve hardly read a paperback in over 18 months. When you’ve found a great book it doesn’t matter what format the story is in. I do miss the book shop ritual though.

From one of the comments on that video:

I read, share, discuss, donate, gift and love my ebooks. So should you. Don’t hate only the latest incarnation of books. I imagine scroll-fetishists thought that bound folios were the work of the devil. Sigh.

(via Kathy Foley)

Harry Potter: the story so far

Well, of course if you’ve read the books you’ll know exactly how it’s going to end and how they got there for that matter. I read 2 or 3 of them about 8 years ago so I may have forgotten a detail or two. Who was the big beardy guy who …. ?

It seems to me that Harry Potter is as much the films as it is the books. More so in fact because of the wider audience. Hell, I never bought any of the books (got a lend of ‘em at the time), but I do have a box set of the first 5 or 6 films. Yes, haven’t watched them either.

The whole thing is rather baffling, a bit like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze back in the early nineties, but this has gone on way longer … (too long if you ask me!)

So, has anyone made a “cam” version of the film yet? Come on Internet, it’s been out a day or two. Surely the “zero day” pirates already have it? I wonder how many kids will come across this post looking for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 (CAM).avi”. Just go buy the books, and while you’re at it buy other books too and expand your mind.

But first, go watch this great chat between Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse on the Poetry of Science. That will blow your mind, a hell of a lot more than Harry Potter will do. There’s real magic in science. (Thanks Alex!)

The Lisbon Laws

200px-VulcansHammer(1stEd) Around a year ago I was reading Vulcan’s Hammer when I came upon something that rattled me. At the time the (first) Lisbon Treaty was about to be voted on so everyone was talking about Lisbon this, Lisbon that, and what it all meant, and how nobody knew what it all meant, etc etc.

Well, in Vulcan’s Hammer, written by Philip K. Dick in 1960, the world has become a totalitarian society ruled by mysterious computers given absolute power in 1993 by legislation called “The Lisbon Laws”. It didn’t affect how I voted of course but the naming coincidence was starling!

Here’s an extract from the book. Anti Lisbon Treaty folk better get your tinfoil hats on!

Mrs. Parker made a note on her chart. “Correct.” She felt pride at the children’s alert response. “And now per­haps someone can tell me about the Lisbon Laws of 1993.”
The classroom was silent. A few pupils shuffled in their seats. Outside, warm June air beat against the windows. A fat robin hopped down from a branch and stood listening for worms. The trees rustled lazily.
“That’s when Vulcan 3 was made,” Hans Stein said.
Mrs. Parker smiled. “Vulcan 3 was made long before that; Vulcan 3 was made during the war. Vulcan 1 in 1970. Vulcan 2 in 1975. They had computers even before the war, in the middle of the century. The Vulcan series was developed by Otto Jordan, who worked with Nathan­iel Greenstreet for Westinghouse, during the early days of the war…”
….
For a moment there was no response. The rows of face were blank. Then, abruptly, incredibly: “The Lisbon Laws dethroned God,” a piping child’s voice, came from the back of the classroom. A girl’s voice, severe and pene­trating.
….
Mrs. Parker paced rapidly down the aisle, past the chil­dren’s desks. “The Lisbon Laws of 1993,” she said sharply, were the most important legislation of the past five hundred years.” She spoke nervously, in a high-pitched shrill voice; gradually the class turned toward her. Habit made them them pay attention to her-the training of years. “All seventy nations of the world sent representa­tives to Lisbon. The world-wide Unity organization for­mally agreed that the great computer machines developed by Britain and the Soviet Union and the United States, and hitherto used in a purely advisory capacity, would now be given absolute power over the national govern­ments in the determination of top-level policy-”
….
“Mr. Dill,” a girl’s voice came. “Can I ask you some­thing?”
“Certainly,” Dill said, halting briefly at the door. “What do you want to ask?” He glanced at his wrist watch, smil­ing rather fixedly.
“Director Dill is in a hurry,” Mrs. Parker managed to say. “He has so much to do, so many tasks. I think we had better let him go, don’t you?”
But the firm little child’s voice continued, as inflexible as steel. “Director Dill, don’t you feel ashamed of yourself when you let a machine tell you what to do?
….
“The Lisbon Laws, which you’re learning about. The year the combined nations of the world decided to throw in their lot together. To subordinate themselves in a realistic manner-not in the idealistic fashion of the UN days-to a common supranational authority, for the good of all man­kind.”
….
“There was one answer. For years we had been using computers, giant constructs put together by the labor and talent of hundreds of trained experts, built to exact stand­ards. Machines were free of the poisoning bias of self-interest and feeling that gnawed at man; they were capable of performing the objective calculations that for man would remain only an ideal, never a reality. If nations would be willing to give up their sovereignty, to subordi­nate their power to the objective, impartial directives of the-”

It’s a great story and well worth a read. It was part of a 3 story book called “Philip K Dick Three Early Novels” containing The man who japed, Dr. Futurity, and Vulcan’s Hammer. The first story almost put me off reading the other two as it had dated badly. Some of the character’s names and the technology are really old fashioned! Persevere, it’s worth it.

Would you download the new Harry Potter book?

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Drmike says he found a site where you can download “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”.

Would you download a possibly incomplete copy of a new book? What if it’s not as polished as the finished item? Would the glaring grammatical mistakes, and unedited paragraphs ruin the experience for you?

What about the experience of lying in bed with a good book, engrossed in it and falling asleep with the light on? Is it the same with a set of printed sheets from your computer? I think not. That scene in The Devil Wears Prada does spring to mind where the kids are reading the manuscript on the train..

Meanwhile, Scott Adams has an excellent post on copyright violation which he later explained was an experiment in “cognitive dissonance”.

If you’ve read anything about experiments to produce cognitive dissonance, you know this was the perfect setup. You can produce dissonance by putting a person in a position of doing something that is clearly opposed to his self image. Then wait for his explanation. The explanation will seem absurd to anyone who doesn’t share the dissonance. In this case the model that produced it was…

1. Good people are not criminals.
2. Criminals break laws.
3. I break copyright laws.
4. But since I know I am a good person, my reason why it’s okay to violate copyright laws is (insert something absurd).

I don’t think it worked on me because I happen to agree with him that copyright violation is theft. Previous mind experiments have however worked on me so I’m as susceptable as anyone. His underpants story was particularly absurd however, even if in keeping with his sense of humour and not at all out of place on the Dilbert blog!

Reading Harry Potter at WordCamp

21st July – the book is out and I’ve seen it. I took a picture of the last page but I don’t think anyone really wants to see it, do you? There’s Michael reading his copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows!