Oct. 28th, 2012

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Autumn came on suddenly this year. Or perhaps I failed to notice it properly, until these last few days in chill and dank and early darkness, the trees all changed and windblown leaves humped damply at the roadsides.

So the seasons pass, and change, and we go towards the death of the year.

Books 2012: 205-213

205. Deborah Coates, Wide Open. Tor, 2012.

I'd been avoiding this book. It didn't sound like my thing. But turns out that it is.

Sergeant Hallie Michaels returns to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' compassionate leave for her sister's funeral. Dell Michaels' ghost is waiting for her at the airport. The sheriff's office says Dell's death was suicide, but Hallie is convinced there's more to it. Unfortunately, the only person who seems to share her suspicions is sheriff's deputy Boyd Davies. Then Hallie starts collecting other ghosts - women who disappeared - and she begins to suspect that Uku-Weber, where Dell was working, has something to do with the matters surrounding her death, and the deaths of the other ghosts.

Wide Open is a solidly-written, lively book, and Hallie is a vividly real character. But where Coates really comes into her own is in sense of place. Coates' South Dakota doesn't feel generic or two-dimensional: instead the landscape is itself almost a character in the text.

I really enjoyed this, but it does have a small flaw. While the opening atmosphere has the odd creepiness of a ghost story, horror-esque and baffling, the tone shifts rapidly to the acceptance-of-the-weird common to "urban" fantasy - although Wide Open cannot be characterised as urban, but rather modern, rural fantasy. Still, I recommend it highly.

206. Ysabeau Wilce, Flora Segunda. Scholastic, 2007.

I believe I purchased this shortly after its publication, but after growing disillusioned with the first chapter I left it on the shelf until just recently. Turns out that given some more patience, it proves a worthy and inventive YA novel with interesting characters.

207. Chris Wooding, The Fade. Gollancz, 2008.

Oddly-structured, interesting, fantastically inventive, depressing. Wooding, not for happy-fun-times endings.

208. Dorothy Gilman, The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax. Fawcett, 1970.

Mrs. Pollifax, who has taken up a second career for the CIA in her retirement, goes to Turkey. A delightful romp after the tone of a cosy mystery, but with spies. Some discomfort after the manner of Amerocentrism, but one is not reading for enlightened geopolitics, but for the vision of a sixty-three-year-old housewife being seven different kinds of amazing.

209-2012. Colin Cotterill, The Curse of the Pogo Stick, The Merry Misogynist,, Long Songs from a Shallow Grave, and Slash and Burn. Quercus, 2008-2012.

The more recent four books of Cotterill's Dr. Siri mysteries. They are mostly fun and fluffy. However. The Merry Misogynist and Love Songs from a Shallow Grave both contain gender-related fail: in the first, the villain is intersex and damaged by it; the second, it's all a plot by an obsessed stalker to ruin the life of the man who wouldn't love her. Also there are things floating around that lead one to believe Cotterill is not at all comfortable with homosexuality.


2013. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Necessity's Child. Baen, 2013. E-ARC for sale from Baen Ebooks.

This feels younger than any of Lee & Miller's books bar Balance of Trade. It's entertaining and fun, but ultimately unsatisfying: I am in particular disturbed by a ham-handed deployment of magical emotional healing for our fourteen-year-old protagonist, Syl Vor. It's cheating and a lie, and I disapprove.

Nine books in three days. Now, I suppose, I should attempt Greek, while the fire beside me refuses to burn with good flame despite all my best efforts.
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[31β] οὐ γὰρ ἀνθρωπίνῳ ἔοικε τὸ ἐμὲ τῶν μὲν ἐμαυτοῦ πάντων ἠμεληκέναι καὶ ἀνέχεσθαι τῶν οἰκείων ἀμελουμένων τοσαῦτα ἤδη ἔτη, τὸ δὲ ὑμέτερον πράττειν ἀεί, ἰδίᾳ ἑκάστῳ προσιόντα ὥσπερ πατέρα ἢ ἀδελφὸν πρεσβύτερον πείθοντα ἐπιμελεῖσθαι ἀρετῆς. καὶ εἰ μέν τι ἀπὸ τούτων ἀπέλαυον καὶ μισθὸν λαμβάνων ταῦτα παρεκελευόμην, εἶχον ἄν τινα λόγον: νῦν δὲ ὁρᾶτε δὴ καὶ αὐτοὶ ὅτι οἱ κατήγοροι τἆλλα πάντα ἀναισχύντως οὕτω κατηγοροῦντες τοῦτό γε οὐχ οἷοί τε ἐγένοντο ἀπαναισχυντῆσαι

For not by human affairs it seems I have neglected all my own things and borne the neglect of my household concerns for so many years yet, while always I practiced on your affairs, coming up to each of you in private just like a father or an elder brother, persuading you to care about arete. And if I derived some advantage from these things and exhorted you with regard to these things while taking pay, it would have had some reason: but now you yourselves see that the prosecutors, while they accuse me shamefully in this way of everything else, this indeed they have not grown such to have the effrontery to do

[31ξ] παρασχόμενοι μάρτυρα, ὡς ἐγώ ποτέ τινα ἢ ἐπραξάμην μισθὸν ἢ ᾔτησα. ἱκανὸν γάρ, οἶμαι, ἐγὼ παρέχομαι τὸν μάρτυρα ὡς ἀληθῆ λέγω, τὴν πενίαν.

ἴσως ἂν οὖν δόξειεν ἄτοπον εἶναι, ὅτι δὴ ἐγὼ ἰδίᾳ μὲν ταῦτα συμβουλεύω περιιὼν καὶ πολυπραγμονῶ, δημοσίᾳ δὲ οὐ τολμῶ ἀναβαίνων εἰς τὸ πλῆθος τὸ ὑμέτερον συμβουλεύειν τῇ πόλει. τούτου δὲ αἴτιόν ἐστιν ὃ ὑμεῖς ἐμοῦ πολλάκις ἀκηκόατε πολλαχοῦ λέγοντος, ὅτι μοι θεῖόν τι καὶ

by furnishing witnesses, that I ever accomplished something for pay or that I asked for it. For I think it sufficient, that I hand over the witness that I speak truth: my poverty.

Perhaps, therefore, it might seem to be eccentric, that I as I go about, give advice in private and am busy about many things, but in public I do not dare to come up into your assembly to advise the city. But the reason for this is, which you have often heard me saying in many places, that to me some divine thing and

[31δ] δαιμόνιον γίγνεται φωνή, ὃ δὴ καὶ ἐν τῇ γραφῇ ἐπικωμῳδῶν Μέλητος ἐγράψατο.

some spiritual thing bears a sound, that indeed which in the charge that Meletos made, he mocked.


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