February 2008


This time Pratchett parodies Hollywood and the many mores surrounding it.

The book starts when the last of the guardians of the otherworldly Holy Wood dies without a successor. So the sort-of-magical effects of Holy Wood start to seep though Ank-Morpork ensnaring unsuspecting people’s dreams and replacing them with Holy Wood’s own dreams of celebrity. Holy Wood puts its dreams and desires into the minds of the Alchemists who mostly think that they themselves have invented how to do films. They set out to build the town of Holy Wood to film their movies.

The book has a new hero, a long-time wizard pupil Victor Tugelbend, who sneaks out of the Unseen University and is quickly ensnared by the dreams of Holy Wood. He walks to the nearby new town where other people are building the facades of Holy Wood and is quickly recruited as an actor. He meets the heroine, an actress called Ginger who is also trying to make a career in film. Mostly by accident, they rise to be big stars. They’re careers are helped by the megalomaniacal plans of Cut-me-own-throat Dibbler who has abandoned the sausage industry and is trying to become the biggest director in Discworld with the help of his nephew Soll. The talking Wonderdog Gaspode has also a large part to play in the lives of Victor and Ginger as well as in the book. There are also very funny troll and wizard characters in the book.

I happen to think that this is one the better Pratchett books that I’ve read*. Granted, you need some knowledge of movies but I think most people would have that. And the scene that parodied King Kong near the end was absolutely hilarious!

Once again, I read a Finnish translation. The translation was mostly good but for some reason the translations seem to me to be less funny that the originals. Now, it’s completely possible that I’ve just managed to read Pratchett books which aren’t uproariously funny (in fact I’m convinced that the Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic aren’t hilariously funny but more like a light-chuckle-here-and-there-funny**). However, this time around the problem was somewhat the translation. The names of the producing companies were translated, whereas their real-life counterparts aren’t so it took me some time and back-translation to figure them out. Same with some of the names of the films. I wasn’t even aware that Gone with the Wind had a Finnish name.

Now, I realize (from personal experience with non-fiction translations) that when the translator is paid barely enough to buy food and rent and given a very strict deadline, they can’t really think about every word choice. What I’m wondering is: clearly Pratchett’s books sell well because the same company has translated 21 of the Discworld books and a handful of the others. So for the love of any divine power, WHY can’t they give the poor guy enough time and money to translate the books properly? I have a few translated books to go but if they aren’t better, I’m going to switch into the original English.

*Except that it didn’t have enough footnotes.

**And yes, at the time I read it, I’ve read enough REH, Leiber, McCaffrey et al to get the references.

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Booking Through Thursday

Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?

I was going to say that this haven’t happenend to me but it has, sort of. One of my favourite authors is Lois McMaster Bujold: I adore the space opera Vorkosigan saga, I like a lot her fantasy Chalion books, but I just couldn’t get exited about the Sharing Knife books. Mostly, it’s because they are really a couple of romance books set in a fantasy setting and I don’t really care for the start of a romance* as the main “plot” and the age difference between the two characters was just too much for me. However, I haven’t abandoned Bujold. The books were otherwise well written and I have high hopes that the next book will be even better for me because the previous “romancers” should be now an established couple and I generally enjoy reading about those.

Of course, I’ve been disappointed before by authors but I don’t really think of those as the author becoming worse but me become more discerning reader. Eddings and Salvatore pop to mind as those writers where I just suddenly realized that I’ve outgrown their stuff. I’m not going read them anymore.

*which is apparently today the end-all and be-all of romance. Even though I should know better I can’t help but to wonder what sort of relationships the poor authors are/were in or maybe their poor SOs…

This is the first in Sayers’ classic detective novels starring Lord Peter Wimsey. In this book we are introduced to Lord Peter himself, his rather pushy manservant Bunter, and his friend detective Parker. The book has rather more complex plot than is usual for mysteries because there are two mysteries to solve: a man’s naked body has appeared into the bathtub of a meek architecht who doesn’t know the man and a well-known financier has disappeared from his home. Lord Peter starts to investigate the former and Parker starts to investigate the latter. The police inspector Sugg is convinced that the body in the bathtub is the body of the Jewish financier but Lord Peter doesn’t agree. However, soon Lord Peter whimsically decides that they should switch the investigations. Parker agrees but soon Lord Peter starts to see that the cases are connected somehow.

The book is a short and light read full of eccentric characters and plot twists. But it was a good read and I’m looking forward to the next one. However, that’s going to be a bit more difficult to get. Apparently there’s only one copy of it in the libraries in this county. And the English soft covers have been sold out right now. I guess I’ll have to wait for the library copy to come through.

I read the Finnish translation which was translated in 1960s and it showed! Mr. and Mrs. were left in the text instead of translated to herra and rouva. For some reason a coroner was the person who interrogated the witnesses during the trial. And his title wasn’t translated but was left in the text in English.

This is the first of a series of detective novels set in the time of Artistotle in the Ancient Greece. It’s written in the style of Sherlock Holmes; that is, the sidekick is thelling the story in the first person.

Young Stephanos is a not in the best of places in his life: even though he’s a well-off citizen, he’s father has recently died and left him as the sole male in the family with quite a few responsibilities. Additionally, Stephanos was trying to arrange his own marriage but is now unable to because of his financies. He took stroll during the evening and noticed commotion coming from his neighbor’s house. Curious, he went inside only to hear that the master of the house, the honorable Boutades, has been brutally murder by an arrow through his neck. Stephanos staid to look at the body and to look outside with the others who have come to satisfy their curiosity. But during the burial Stephanos hears much to his horror that Boutados’ closest male relative, Polygnotos, accuses Stephanos’ cousin for the murder.

Stephanos’ cousin Philemon has been exiled a few years ago from Athens so he can’t defend himself and so Stephanos must defend him so that his family isn’t shamed. Therefore Stephanos asks his old mentor Aristotle to help him puzzle out a defend or maybe even the murderer. Stephanos’ primary defense, that Philemon couldn’t be in the city, turns out to be questionable at best.

As far as I can tell, the mileu is historically correct as are the three hearings, prodikasia, before the final trial. Unfortunately, the mystery itself isn’t particularly brilliant or surprising but neither is it disappointing, either. However, since I love the era, I might get the next one in the series.

Booking Through Thursday

Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?

I’m afraid I don’t have really exotic hobbies: I play computergames (mostly older, role-playing ones such as Baldur’s Game and Knights of the Old Republic), I also play table-top role-playing games (current campaigns are historical In Nomine where I’m the GM and a Star Trek game set in the times of TNG/DS9 where I’m one of the players), watch tv and movies, and write a bit although that’s been put to the sidelines now that I’m working full-time. No pets, yet.

Here’s another of my reviews: Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension Mistborn, Book 2

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