Booking Through Thursday

Do other people in your family also like to read? Or are you in this on your own?

Yes, all of them read at least newspapers and some magazines when they have the time.

Also, my brother reads fiction and comics and mostly in the same genres as I do. My father reads mostly non-fiction.

A very entertaining Discworld book.

Publication year: 2007
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2013
Format: print
Page count: 373
Publisher of the Finnish translation: Karisto
Finnish translator: Mika Kivimäki

A fantasy book about banking, the concept of money, and conmen. If you like other Discworld books you’ll most likely like this one, too. More specifically, if you’ve read Going Postal and liked it, you’ll like this one, too.

Moist von Lipwig is a (former) conman and now a most respectable man, the Postmaster General of the Ankh-Morpork Post Office. However, the Post Office is now running smoothly and Moist is looking for other challenges, such as breaking into his own office in the middle of the night. Of course, he’s no longer a criminal and a conman so he can’t really want to return to his old life. He has just taken to carrying a set of lockpicks and rubber baton for his own protection. Right.

So, when Patrician takes him to Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork, which includes the Royal Mint, and wants him to take over, Moist refuses. However, he meets the current chair Topsy Lavish who is an old woman. She sees right through Moist and still likes him. Her little dog, Mr. Fusspot, likes Moist, too. When Topsy Lavish dies the next night, to his horror Moist finds out that she’s given him her dog – and the dog now owns 51% of the bank, making Moist the actual chairman. So, no matter if he wants it or not, Moist is now the chairman of the dysfunctional bank.

The first thing he notices is that the bank doesn’t actually want many clients, just a few of the most wealthiest ones but definitely not any of the poor (just like some banks right here in Finland. Alas, they aren’t as much fun as Ankh-Morpork banks). Also, the smallest coins are made at a loss by extremely poor people and that people in general don’t trust banks. Additionally, people have started to use stamps as currency.

The bank’s employees are a funny lot, chief among them Mr. Bent who never goes out during the daytime and trusts numbers but never people. The men who work in the Mint are a class in their own. The Lavish family wants Moist removed as soon as possible and the bank returned to its rightful owners: which ever one of them is still standing. Cosmo Lavish thinks that he’s the automatic leader of the family and is trying to become Havelock Vetinari – literally.

A subplot involves Moist’s fiancee Adora Belle Dearheart. She runs the Golem Trust and is trying to dig out some of the very oldest golems from dwarven lands. Also, a greedy man from Moist’s past shows up. With really strange false teeth.

The book’s philosophical ruminations are about money and banking: money, coins, gold don’t have any intricate value to humans, unlike, say air, water, and food, and so the whole money system is in fact imaginary and yet pretty much everyone is enslaved to it.

Making Money is similar to Going Postal (Moist is forced to take over a place and make it better using his quick thinking and conman instincts. Of course, the bank isn’t nearly as run down as the post office was) but I don’t think it’s quite as good, or perhaps I just enjoyed Moist more the first time.

As usual, Making Money has lots of memorable and/or funny lines:
“A weapon you held and didn’t know how to use belonged to your enemy.”
”My late husband always said that the only way to make money out of poor people is by keeping them poor.”

“He sighed. It had come to this. He was a responsible authority, and people could use terms like “core values” at him with impunity. ”

“But what’s worth more than gold?”
”Practically everything. You, for example. Gold is heavy. Your weight in gold is not very much gold at all. Aren’t you worth more than that?”

“Igor?’ said Moist. ‘You have an Igor?’
‘Oh, yes,’ said Hubert. ‘That’s how I get this wonderful light. They know the secret of storing lightning in jars! But don’t let that worry you, Mr Lipspick. Just because I’m employing an Igor and working in a cellar doesn’t mean I’m some sort of madman, ha ha ha!’
‘Ha ha,’ agreed Moist.
‘Ha hah hah!,’ said Hubert. ‘Hahahahahaha!! Ahahahahahahhhhh!!!!!-‘
Bent slapped him on the back. Hubert coughed.
‘Sorry about that, it’s the air down here,’ he mumbled.”

The third book in the Jenny Casey SF trilogy.

Publication year: 2005
Format: print
Page count: 400
Publisher: Bantam Spectra

Worldwired starts about nine months after the end of the previous book, Scardown. The world has changed after the disaster (and no, I’m not going to spoil it here) and after two alien starships (from apparently different species) have come to orbit near the Canadian starship Montreal. Unfortunately, for our heroes they can’t communicate with either of the alien ships. A couple of more scientists have been brought to the Montreal but they haven’t had any luck so far.

Meanwhile, international political scene is heating up. The Chinese are accusing Canada of trying to take over the world while the Chinese themselves are behind the disaster. Also, Unitek’s new manager it trying to make Canada’s Prime Minister Riel look bad so that she can be replaced with Unitek’s puppet. The politics in the book are really complex and before the end they involve every character.

However, where the book really shines, and what I enjoyed the most, was the first contact situation in orbit. The humans are thinking of a way to communicate with the aliens and trying some methods. Finally, they decide to send a group into one of the ships. Of course, things don’t go as planned.

Communication is one of the themes of the book and it’s ironic that the humans wants to badly to communicate with the aliens when they can’t communicate with each other. Also, the Artificial Intelligence, Richard Feynman and his various side personalities are in the implants and other nanotechnology which was initially given to the pilots. Now, everybody who is ”infected” with the nanotechnology is wired into Richard. In essence, they have telepathy with Richard and each other which will raise some serious questions about privacy. However, there isn’t enough time to cover that in this book. Also, some questions are raised about how much people can or should rely on Richard who is already running the Montreal, trying to repair Earth’s ecological damage, talking to people in their heads, and trying to communicate with the aliens.

The book has a lot of POV characters and shifts in POV which can be strange to so reader. Of course, the previous books had those as well. This is not an action/adventure SF, but more like a political thriller and ”real life” first contact story in one.

This book again defied my expectations which is a good thing.

The original novella.

Publication year: 1991
Format: ebook
Page count: 210

Roger Camden is a wealthy man and he wants only for the best for his daughter. So, even before she’s born, Roger wants advantages for her. Not just good looks, a slim body, and a high IQ but the newest enhancement: not being able to sleep. It’s still an experimental change and Roger has to stoop to blackmail to get it, but he does.

However, something unexpected occurs: it turns out that Roger’s wife Elizabeth is carrying twins. One of the girls is a normal humans and another is the enhanced one. Elizabeth never wanted a genius child and she’s happy while Roger wants only the enhanced girl. The girls’ grow up rich but from a young age they already sense that they’re different from each other and that their parents treat them differently. Roger wants to send them both to a school for the gifted but after a terrible fight with Elizabeth, Alice, the normal girl, and she goes to a normal school while Leisha is sent to more advanced school. The girls start to drift apart.

When Leisha is fifteen she insists that she meet the other Sleepless, as the enhanced people call themselves. Normal people have difficulty understanding some of the Sleepless’ experiences, so Leisha is very happy to interact with people like herself. However, already some of the Sleepless are starting to be afraid of the normal people whom the Sleepless expect to hate and fear them – because some of the Sleepless consider themselves better than the normal people. Many of the Sleepless have a high IQ and because they don’t have to waste a third of their lives sleeping, they achieve more than normal people their age; they breeze through school and excel in studies.

Unfortunately, the more paranoid Sleepless are correct; some normal people (the Sleepers) don’t understand the Sleepless and are even jealous of them and afraid of them. Unfortunately, this section of US society seem to be more vocal than others and they spread fear among the rest.

This is an interesting study of how humans tend to treat differently people who are different from them. As history shows, humans tend to cast blame and fear towards people who are different from them. The Sleepless, of course, are physically different and can achieve more.

The novella also presents the question of what, if anything, the privileged owe to the poor. Leisha and many of the other characters follow Kenzo Yagai who advocates that man dignity comes solely through what he can achieve through his own efforts and that contracts between individuals is the bases of society, not things taken by force or threat of force. Which is great, as long as a boy is born healthy to a loving family with at least some amount of wealth. Otherwise, not so much. Of women he doesn’t say a word and of course a poor pregnant woman with an illness is in a vulnerable position in a way Mr. Yagai never has to experience himself and can therefore simply ignore.

Some of the Sleepless argue that they don’t owe anything to the normal humans and should even form their own society. However, Leisha is strongly against that. The novella gives an answer to the question which I think is the only answer possible which will likely irritate the people who believe that the poor and the sick should die in gutters because they’re not able to lift themselves out of it.

Leisha and later Alice are pretty much only characters with any meat on them. Unfortunately, the rest of them aren’t really fleshed out. Of course, the ideas are central to the story, more than characters. This was written in 1991 so I don’t know how much information was then available about the effects of sleep. However, the bad side effects of sleeplessness (such as irritability, risk of various diseases, and loss of long-term memory) weren’t dealt with at all. In fact, Kress presents the opposite: that the Sleepless are less passionate, more rational, highly intelligent, and less likely to be sick than the normal humans.

Despite all my criticisms I enjoyed the story and while I’ll probably don’t continue with this series, I’m curious to try something else from Kress.

The fourth book in the Corinna Chapman cosy mysteries.

Publication year: 2007
Format: Audio
Narrator: Louise Siversen
Running Time: 9 hrs 3 mins

These books are lighter in tone than the Phryne Fisher books, but have also an interesting and entertaining cast. This time, there’s another commonality: history. In the Phryne books we often get to know about some interesting historical event and the same thing happens in this book, too, when Corinna’s PI boyfriend takes on a case which has to do with the Holocaust.

Corinna is a baker and runs the Earthly Delights bakery. A new franchise bakery, Best Fresh, has opened its door and started cutting prices. However, Corinna isn’t really worried because her customers are loyal and besides her products are much tastier, which she discovers after she buys some of Best Fresh’s muffins and breads, undercover of course. She’s much more concerned when her gorgeous boyfriend Daniel neglects her – because a stunning woman is apparently now living in his flat. But her troubles don’t end there. Someone is apparently poisoning people in her part of Melbourne and her witch friend Meroe is also in trouble. Samhain is approaching and it’s the turn of the Melbourne witches to host a large gathering of witches. However, Meroe is a solitary person so she resents that and especially because one of the incoming witches is a bad seed.

Daniel is also working on a case which involves Greek Jewish people during WWII. The otherwise quite fluffy story contains some stark history and horrible things humans have done to other humans. But it also has a couple of stories about people’s quiet heroism and hope to balance the awful stuff. Still, this plotline makes the book far less fluffy.

Fortunately, the jealousy subplot isn’t a long one, since I don’t like them.

The book has several plotlines and sometimes they don’t mesh very well together. Unfortunately, I also didn’t care for the ending. Otherwise, the book was as delightful as the others in the series. Corinna, Jason who is a former drug addict and now her apprentice, Daniel, Meroe, and the rest of the cast are just so entertaining. It’s a feel-good reading, or listening in my case. Oh and I love the fact that Corinna isn’t conventionally beautiful.

It’s September, so Carl at the Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the ninth R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, or R.I.P. IX. I’ve had fun with the challenge in previous years so I’m joining this time, too.

I’m currently enjoying a sci-fi binge but I’m also a mystery/supernatural fan so I’m looking forward to enjoying some RIP books.

September 1st is right around the corner. It is time to begin.

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

That is what embodies the stories, written and visual, that we celebrate with the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event.

As time has wound on I’ve honed this event down to two simple rules:

1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others.

As I do each and every year, there are multiple levels of participation (Perils) that allow you to be a part of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril without adding the burden of another commitment to your already busy lives. There is even a one book only option for those who feel that this sort of reading is not their cup of tea (or who have too many other commitments) but want to participate all the same.

R.I.P. IX officially runs from September 1st through October 31st.

I’ll be joining

Peril the First:
Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (the very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be King or Conan Doyle, Penny or Poe, Chandler or Collins, Lovecraft or Leroux… or anyone in between.

TBR: The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman (mystery), Vampire Empire book 1: the Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffiths, some Elizabeth Peters’ books, and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.

Happy reading, everyone!

Collects Ms Marvel vol 2 issues 47-50. The final collection for this volume.

Writer: Brian Reed
Artists: Mike McKone, Rob Disalvo, Derec Donovan, Sana Takeda, Ben Olivier, Veronica Gandini
Publisher: Marvel

Issue 47 is a light-hearted change of pace after the long and serious Karla plotline. Carol and Spider-Man go out on a date. As you might guess, things don’t go smoothly.

Next up is the final series. Carol is still on the run from Osborn’s H.A.M.M.E.R. organization when she hears that one of the Church of Hala priests have been hurt. She finds out that someone masquerading as Captain Marvel has been attacking the Churchs for several weeks now. Of course, she has to investigate. She comes to the conclusion that only one person can be behind it: Mystique.

I enjoyed Mystique in these issues and also the start where Carol had to briefly go undercover and use her head a little. However, this collection didn’t really rise above an average superhero slug fest.
Overall, I wasn’t too happy with this series but I enjoyed it enough to stick with it to the end. Some of Carol’s new supporting cast had potential but they were dropped off suddenly and never seen again, such as Wonder Man and the Operation Lighting Storm team which I had expected (when I first read the series) to help Carol during Dark Reign and War of the Marvels (or possibly oppose Carol…). My initial fascination with Carol actually came through Rogue who has been one of my favorite Marvel characters since the long Claremont/John Romita Jr. X-Men run and I don’t quite see this book’s Carol as the same confident spy who occasionally took control of Rogue.

Next, Carol will become Captain Marvel; a series where I enjoyed the writing more than here but not the art. Ah, the joys of reading comics. :)

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