Midnight is a Place

I finished reading the Joan Aiken book “Midnight is a Place’ this morning. It’s an absolutely brilliant book, teeming with ideas about freewill, social pressure and individual morality. It instantly became my favourite Joan Aiken book, which is some achievement because it is in such quality company. The power of great children’s fiction. For me, these books are just as inspirational as books on spirituality or biographies.

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Keyboard

I’ve not had a working keyboard for my Mac for a fortnight (my own fault as I cleaned the old one with a wet wipe and messed up the underside of the keys). Now I have a cheap Windows keyboard which works well enough for me, I’m back on the inter web.

I finished “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve also begun reading Ursula K LeGuin’s “The Dispossessed” which is one of the most intelligent novels I have ever read (IMHO) and sure to become my most favourite adult novel. It seems to me that in Shevek’s struggling to complete his theory of Simultaneity that UKLG is trying to finalise her ideas about “anarchy” and “archy.”

Good to be back!

Image of the cover of "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K LeGuin. Copyright Gollancz.
Image of the cover of “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K LeGuin. Copyright Gollancz.

End of Earthsea

I had to read the whole of “The Other Wind” in one day. It is such a beautiful book and ties up all of the threads of the “Earthsea saga” very nicely indeed. And, you know that hackneyed thing that most authors do, where the antagonist who has been killed off twitches in the epilogue – that type of thing? She doesn’t do it!

I think, what I love most about these books and Ursula Le Guin’s writing is the stories’ climaxes. Most authors and Hollywood blockbuster films would set off the proverbial pyrotechnics. There would be ultra violent explosions, CG overdose, detailed descriptions or depictions of mutilation and death. But not UKLG. Oh no. Long plot build ups and then at the peak… the most gentle parts of the story. And often, the noble self sacrifice of a character to save everybody and everything else.

Personally, I don’t need to read books that are gritty and realistic and negative or nihilistic. There’s too much of that about already, in the media and the arts and the news. I don’t mean to sound pompous or high-brow (that I am certainly not) but I want to read tales of noble deeds and this series of books does it for me.

I hope they do it for others too.

I found this quote from UKLG on her website after I initially posted this post. It concerns assumptions that writers and publishers make about the fantasy genre:

“Assumption 3: Fantasy by definition concerns a Battle Between Good and Evil. This is the one where the cover copywriters shine. There are lots of fantasies about the Battle Between Good and Evil, the BBGE, sure. In them, you can tell the good guys from the evil guys by their white hats, or their white teeth, but not by what they do. They all behave exactly alike, with mindless and incessant violence, until the Problem of Evil is solved in a final orgy of savagery and a win for the good team.”

Here’s the page for reference;

http://www.ursulakleguin.com/SomeAssumptionsAboutFantasy.html

Earthsea End

Please read this first:

I wrote the following at 9 a.m. and by 12, just three hours later, I was already beginning to change my mind. On reflection, I loved the book, although I still find aspects of it dark and disturbing. I will write more at the bottom of the post, as I reflect on the series but I would like to keep this initial reaction on record too:

“I finished reading Ursula Le Guin’s “Earthsea Quartet” this morning and was slightly disappointed, in very much the same way as when I read the last of Philip Pullman’s “HIs Dark Materials” trilogy. Like “The Amber Spyglass” which was full of Pullman’s ideas about religion (particularly Christianity), “Tehanu” had a little too much about what I assume to be Ursula Le Guin’s ideas about the roles of the genders. I do like authors to include their ideas, opinions etc. in their narrative writing but I found this a little obtrusive in the fourth book. It was also very dark in as much as a good deal of the plot centred around what had happened to the little girl Therru prior to her adoption by Tenar. I was disappointed that Therru did not come to her full potential during the events of the book, fulfilling the predictions made by the various mages and magic-folk. The book demands a sequel. And, of course, Ursula Le Guin did finally write not one but two. I will be getting and reading “Tales from Earthsea” and “The Other Wind” sometime soon. I did love all three books but, for me, Tehanu did not tie up the loose ends and threads from the previous books.

I would still recommend reading all four books to most people but beware, there is a real darkness to some aspects of the series.

Of course, this is all just my rather subjective opinion.

Note: It came as no surprise to me that Ursula has written a commentary on the Tao. The “Way” is all over and through the book. 🙂 ”

Bought the two books mentioned above from eBay 2nd hand today. I’m looking forward to reading the complete Ged saga. 

The Hobbit

I’ve just finished reading (for the first time ever – gosh, I know… criminal ain’t it?) The Hobbit. Quite an enjoyable romp really. It didn’t quite set the world alight for me as it does for some readers but I would recommend reading it to everybody. It’s quite a linear narrative and thin on the kind of descriptive detail and protagonist thoughts that I like (but which send some people into boredom or put-the-book-down-ness-mode). It would probably make a good film and serve well as a foundation for some sequels (see how my mind can come up with these good ideas that nobody else has thinked of?) if there’s funding available.

Anyway, a thoroughly enjoyable book!!

(I’d like to apologise for my over-use of brackets and dashes in this post.)

Icy Joe

My friend, John Jenkins has finished the book he wrote for his grandson Isaac. He has also book bound a copy and will soon, hopefully, be able to sell the book. I’ve been privileged to read the book as a pdf draft and a bound mini-book version. It is beautiful, with the type of graphics I remember from Disney books of the late 60s to mid 70s. I’ll be buying a copy when it is finally published. I hope you will too.

Style sheet for Icy Joe. Copyright John Jenkins 2015.
Style sheet for Icy Joe. Copyright John Jenkins 2015.