Oct. 20th, 2009


Oct. 20th, 2009 10:29 am
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Almost forgot: on Saturday after his birthday party Sebastian was being pretty terrible. There was a lot of screaming going on. We sent him to his room, with some difficulty.

After he got out, Teri really wanted to go see the Pumpkin Trail at Roger Williams Zoo. It's an annual event; they have lots of jack-o-lanterns. We'd tried to see it about five years ago, but the wait was about three hours in line, and we weren't allowed to bring strollers in. So we left.

I was dubious about letting Sebastian have a treat when he'd been so bad (and I was tired as hell), but I finally gave in (to Teri, not Sebastian). The night was warmer than that night five years ago, and the line was much shorter.

The Pumpkin Trail was...pretty damn strange. I'll have video or pictures up soon.
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Another solo night.

Got Lukemac to 24, but can't afford all my training (and I owe someone a chunk of gold, so I'm not going to pool money from my other characters).

Zeldava's up to level 8. I picked her first profession, inscription, and discovered that herbalism was practically required - so I took that as well. Soon I'll make my first scrolls. Do scrolls and potions which accomplish the same effects stack, I wonder?

Linkomac the hunter is up to level 8 as well. Soon I'll go to the Exodar, I imagine. No specialization picked yet; as a hunter, skinner/leatherworker makes most sense, but Omacblade already has that covered.
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The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets by Lloyd Biggle Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lloyd Biggle Jr. is best known for bringing the arts to science fiction (just as Mack Reynolds brought sociology and economics to SF). He had a gentle, thoughtful style that made his books a pleasure to read; in that, his work resembles that of James White.

The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets is classic Biggle. The premise may perhaps seem a bit naive in these harsh days of realpolitik; a Galactic Federation which cannot expand unless a planet at its borders becomes a planetary democracy, without overt interference by Galactic agents. The natives of the planet, Gurnil, have a relatively low level of technology; they are not aware that aliens walk among them. If they discover that, the planet will be considered "blown", and the Galactic agents will have to withdraw in failure.

Those agents are also hampered by a web of regulations, rules, and maxims.

When Forzon, an officer of the Cultural Survey, is mysteriously reassigned to Gurnil he must not only find out why he was reassigned, but how to apply his speciality, the arts, to turning a brutal monarchy into a peaceful democracy. The natives have a magnificent appreciation of beauty and art, but seem to have virtually no political awareness. Forzon is allowed to introduce one technological innovation to the planet, but how can a single change literally revolutionize an entire world?

Biggle's answer is memorable and believable.

It must be noted that the book was first published in 1968, and that Biggle was not one of the "New Wave" authors who were in ascendence at that time. To some, his style may seem a little old-fashioned, though it's eminently readable. The romantic relationship between Forzon and Ann Curry, one of his agents, may also seem rather a bit dated - although accusations of sexism are not credible, since Forzon never treats Ann with less than respect, and her mistakes are not the stereotypical "stupid helpless female" behavior that was a staple of the poorer sort of science fiction a generation earlier.

The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets is a short, elegant, and thoughtful example of a type of science fiction which is still all too rare. It's well worth reading, and re-reading. Although it's quite a short book, Biggle wrote other memorable books on the same general theme, and most of them are back in print.

View all my reviews >>
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Someone asked "What is the last book you RE-read?"

I re-read all the time. I'm currently reading The Fellowship of the Ring out loud to my son. It's around the 40th time I've read it, but it's the first time I've read it aloud.

I re-read The Lord of the Rings more than any other book, perhaps twice a year. Every time I get something new out of it. I consider myself very lucky in that I can re-read my favorites and enjoy them just as much as the first time, if not more!

Others that I re-read often include Kim by Rudyard Kipling, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, I, Claudius by Robert Graves, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, and Shogun by James Clavell. Among many, many others. I re-read them every six to twelve months. I generally save Shogun for long trips, because it's so huge.

The most recent non-favorites I've re-read were The Still Small Voice of Trumpets by Lloyd Biggle, Jr., and The Escape Orbit by James White. It's been at least three years since I'd read either. I liked The Still Small Voice of Trumpets very much; Biggle brought art and culture to science fiction, and that's very refreshing. The Escape Orbit strikes me as one of White's lesser (and probably earlier) works, but it's still enjoyable, entertaining, and thought-provoking.
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Someone asked "why doesz lovee huuurt?". Oh, hell, I'm going to post their entire question because the spelling is so insane:
Read more... )
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This question was obviously inspired by the "lovee" question I wrote about a minute ago.

"Is anyone else concerned with how today's youth can't spell and don't know grammar or simple capitalization/punctuation?"

The problem is our educational system and our culture. Television bears a large share of the blame, for sure. So do parents...and, I suspect, the popularity of divorce (although I think that's probably a reflection of the decay of our culture as a whole).

America has been a bastion of anti-intellectualism for many decades now. That's ironic, when you consider that we were founded by intellectuals - brilliant men, all of them.

As far as eduction goes, I suspect that a key element of the problem is school funding. It's profoundly unfair for school funding to be based on local property taxes, as it so often is. It virtually guarantees that the children of the poor will receive inferior educations, and that goes against the whole idea of fairness in America. True, an exceptional teacher or administrator can sometimes provide a great education to students even with very few resources - but that's the exception, not the rule.

Level funding for all schools should be mandatory, and it should NOT be based on the wealth of the specific community. Every American should receive the best education possible.

I have to admit that on World of Warcraft, it bugs me when almost everyone uses textspeak. Even things like saying "grats" instead of "Congratulations!" annoy me. So I make a particular effort to use proper English.

Of course, that sometimes means that I stand there and let my companions get killed while I'm typing...no, I'm kidding, I wait for the right moment and I type pretty fast.
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This topic bothers me, but I have a hard time not replying to this sort of question.

"Do you approve of our government using predator aircraft to strike at terrorist targets?"

Oh hell, I assume that this is political.
Read more... )


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