22 May 2014

All of the things: A Review of Farthing, Jo Walton

My brain feels like the inside of the family junk drawer; thoughts tossed in amongst dried up pens, loose change, broken bits of crayons all hidden beneath unpaid bills and random keys to unknown doors. The month of May has been interesting and not in a "what a great reading month I had interesting" but a "I quit my job interesting".  I quit my job, I really, truly cross-my- heart did.  I just started giggling hysterically and drinking vodka all at the same time while resisting the urge to go out and find another job right now in my housecoat. This is who I am now, the girl with no job, and the ability to reboot myself into whatever the hell I want.  I could be a silly monkey (maybe not), or a tree pruner (why not, there are trees everywhere), a full-time writer (have NO idea what I would write on about) or maybe I could go with being me and see where that leads. I am Dune Girl, the jobless blogger who suddenly has a lot of time on her hands to read all of the things.

I am over there, under the willow reading all of the things.
While it is tempting to fuel the fires of speculation and expound on a life in which I will be found in a library equipped with a rolling ladder and patio doors leading out onto a rose garden with hedges and champagne chilling by the perfect bench under a canopy of maple leaves, in truth my near future will be closer to the mundane than the idyllic. Sometimes a Mom just wants to be a Mom and so the child has been withdrawn from preschool so the two of us can partake in a mommy/son summer love-fest. Hopefully the love-fest persists, I see an unraveling by mid-July into some type of cage match.

Wonderful just wonderful, but please let us not stray from what is of importance, all of the things that I will read for the rest of my life; the dear hubby thinks this is a short-term sabbatical, the poor dear, he really is no match for me. My adulterous affair with the mystery novel has run it's salacious course and I have returned to the Mothership. I picked up Jo Walton's Small Change series and am nursing myself slowly back to science fiction health. 

For those of you unbeknownst to the writings of Jo Walton I draw your attention to my post Sunny-Yellow Bookcase.  Her Small Change series is speculative fiction wrapped inside a murder mystery.  The series presents a Britain that has has signed a peace treaty with Hitler; this is a world at the dawn of truth to the atrocities being committed by the Nazi's with the dissemination of those truths slowly being leaked into the public scope. These are deceivingly simple books written in Jo's frank and personal style that as you progress reveal layers of complexity. They are the perfect example of how best to explore the possibilities that science fiction permits while peppering the plot with the tried and true rules of the detective plot. This is the series for all you science fiction naysayers who are not quite ready to sleep with the alien or befriended a sentient planetoid intent on destroying the known universe.

2 May 2014

Yesterday, maybe tomorrow: A Review of MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood

The preschooler living in my house has two references for time, tomorrow and yesterday. Both signify all time in the past and future, including what we the 'grown-ups" in the house would use those terms to denote. We are in a constant time vortex at home, watching space fold as we talk about events or things to come. And so with this in mind, yesterday I finished the third of Atwood's rather dramatically intense, at times funny, mostly not, MaddAddam series. 

As you know, I rather like Margaret Atwood, to the point that by liking her I feel as if I have earned my patriotic Girl Guide badge for being as Canadian as Canadian possible.  Can Lit at university was far more entertaining than any other type of English 300 level course I had to take to round out my English degree. Did I just hear my father, 2000 kms away yell, "What English degree?" Granted I do not actually hold such a discipline, somehow my trek through the halls of wisdom resulted in my leaving with two separates bachelor degrees: geography and anthropology.  I took  the financially irresponsible, let's try it all approach, and leave eventually with degrees never designed to find secure employment. Okay, I use them occasionally, I am extremely knowledgeable in aquifers, moraines and oceanic currents with a surprising in-depth relationship with religious symbols.

Every time I pick up one of Margaret's books (can I call her Margaret, seems so imposing of me) I marvel how she comes up with all the crazy stuff she writes. Stuff is crazy in the MaddAddam series, and by crazy I refer to violently disturbingly descriptive scenes of the world imploding upon itself with the eventual rebuilding from the ruins that was humanity. Such drama peaks in The Year of the Flood that to this day and probably for the rest of my natural life will sit darkly in a corner of my brain to resurface at the most inopportune times forcing me to find some type of religious artifact to grab onto while reciting the Litany Against Fear

Ah, the dystopian novel, looking to haunt your dreams? Look no further than these gems of broken civilizations, global decimation with the healing touch of grass-roots redemption. For someone who refuses to watch Game of Thrones, it does not escape me the irony of my personal fandom of this sub-genre. Recent Sundays at our house, my husband sits on the edge of our bed struggling to describe that night's GOT episode using my requested G-rated guidelines. some nights he doesn't even attempt and quickly moves the subject to kittens with glittery names like Dazzle Princess and Love Love Love. 

Maybe it is my grounding in anthropological perspective, but there is nothing more fascinating then the adaptation of the Noah story, horrors and all. Should you read this series, is it Atwood at her best? Yes and no. The real question is, why haven't you read any Atwood and why are you still reading this post when you could be reading The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace (personal fave!), The Handmaid's Tale, or Oryx and Crake?