2 sur 2 The Nine Mile Walk is a famous short story that introduces Harry Kemelman's armchair detective Nicky Welt. Kemelman also wrote the popular rabbi series (Friday the rabbi slept late etc.) a few of which I chanced upon as audio dramas. These had been produced in German for some German station and were not very good I'm afraid, but they reminded me to check whether I could get a lock on the Nicky Welt stories which had been hard to come by for a while and, I'm happy to say, this time Amazon used & new did provide. Trying to hype the stories to others, I first tried youtube and to my surprise, somebody had actually turned 9 mile walk into a short almost word for word (see above). The result, while not blow-away like, say, Batman: Dead End, still serves quite nicely. In the story, the line A nine-mile walk is no joke, especially in the rain is accidentally overheard by two men who then proceed to show that a murder had happened, and when, and where, and in what context. So to wit, while this is a fun linguistist exercise, the story has no action and is all dialogue. Not every attempt at turning that sort of source material into a movie can turn out to be Glengarry Glenn Ross. To make the short visually appealing, they offer some nice shots of Toledo to where the story has been relocated; they also made Welt more physically attractive than he is in the book. On the whole, it serves.
For my German readers: The German translation's called Ein Fu▀marsch von neun Meilen; if you search for that, google helpfully offers to substitute this with Ein Fu▀marsch von neuen Medien.
2007. I'm still not Gia Carangi, and I'm still not Nikki Craft. I'm just a year older, one that I likely won't admit to. Is this success? Is it something Buddha would have done? I've done taken down a picture of Angelina Jolie from offa me wall, and put up nudes of self. So maybe that's success. Maybe not. But it's something Jesus would do. What else? I got a new pet/toy, and maybe, the blurring of the line will upset some people (a fundamental difference remains for the time being; this one feels no pain). Does Azundris dream of electric cats? Yeah, seems so. Aside from the amusing recursion, Yume Neko Smile (vid) is fun exactly for that blurring of the line. It's as strokeable as any cuddly toy, and when it sits a few yards away meowing over the music, the effect can be eerie in one way, while when it sits in your lap and you hear the servos work, it can be spooky in an entirely different way. But then, I'd likely also have gotten it had it just been an animated steel skeleton, for extra Edge of Human value. (Much stronger book than Replicant Night, which was disappointing for more reasons than killing my favourite character.) Sure, they can't mechanise the song and dance brigade, and they certainly can't mechanise the miracle of the cat, but maybe, it's one of those transformative things, and maybe, it's just keeping your hands occupied while you read, kinda like knitting where you can't stick the needles in someone's eyes. But hey, the first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible, right? Time to get the razor-blades out of the house.
As foretold, I read Joanna Russ' We who are about to (mild spoilers). Since unlike Samuel Delany who wrote the introduction to the current reprint, I don't believe in giving away the surprises, I'll put a few general comments first for those who are about to read the book (ahem), while the "spoilers" go below the fold.
So, did I get my epiphany? No, but I may well have, had I read it at the time I read the other books I mentioned, when I, when the books, their subjects were younger. That is not to say that the subject-matter were no longer relevant — unfortunately, it is, and from a certain angle, it may never go out of style. In fact, the topic was strong enough to carry me through the booklet within a single day, in stark contrast to my reading habits. This however was despite of the presentation, not because of it. The book is written "backwards"; much of the "drama" stems from the fact that we don't learn enough about what motivates the characters until it's too late to make much of a difference, and even then, we don't learn much. (Unfortunately that way, we never get a chance to like or at least understand most of the characters, which limits the story's impact.) When a story mainly dealing with a philosophic issue only implies the characters' respective view-points, something has gone wrong. To add insult to injury, the only real — and I'm using the word loosely — excurse into philosophy consists of the first-person narrator dwelling on their religion, which doesn't seem to actually contribute much to the story, or the book's main theme — if anything, it may detract from it, almost suggesting that requesting basic human rights is little more than a religious preference. This seems a little odd in a book that's in part about not giving up what was achieved in age of enlightenment.
Like 28 days later, We who are about to has two major parts, and once more, a story that tries to be two things ends up being neither — personally, I gravitate towards do one thing, and do that right. Another gripe is that the narrator uses a text-recognition system (much like what Orwell called speakwrite in 1984). This works splendidly in the latter half of the book (and is, indeed, necessary), but fails miserably in the first half as conversations between the dramatis personae are sometimes presented as part of prose like they would be in a book, sometimes in a more conversational style, but never in reported speech, and often repeat details you simply wouldn't give if summing up tonight this morning's conversations. As if to make up for these blunders, a lot of attention is paid to making it seem as though you could dictate and erase, but not easily edit entries — relevant information is sometimes given as an afterthought — and in many cases, not at all. This does not serve to make the book an enjoyable read, and the lingering suspicion that the author put more effort into trying to impress us with her apropos knowledge than into proofreading doesn't help.
In short, while I'm not as unhappy with the book (spoilers!) as some, I must admit that the execution is lacking, the exploration of the main theme is only cursory, and that the 2nd half is outright ineffectual (I'll suggest a book that implements part II much better below the fold as to avoid revealing what it's about):
"I like what you're trying to do, but not how you're doing it."
But then, you could level that criticism ("they're a good scientist, but their writing leaves much to be desired") against virtually any hard sci-fi author …
Sometimes, a book can change everything.
Your perception, how you look at life. You put down the book, stunned. You try to grasp the immensity of what has happened: an epiphany. Things will never be the same.