It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.
Hector dons Achilles' armour - taken from Patroclus' body, which is now defended by Menelaus and Great Ajax.
In one sense this is the most ambitious SF novel I've ever read. In every other it's kinda insipid. That one sense? The science! Generally, SF that isn't actually Engineering Fiction or (the very rare) Mathematics Fiction or Alternative History does its science by saying those scientific laws you know? They're approximately right but what if there was this extra thing I've made up? (Hyperspace, wormholes that don't have singularities in the middle, infinite computing power...)
Egan asks, what if the fundamental topology, geometry and laws of relativity were in fact different? (Here's a universe where there's no maximum velocity, time behaves exactly like space, in terms of laws of motion, oh, and the universe is the shape of a ring doughnut.) The answer is, apparently, then your story is 50% exposition about the consequences for physics, chemistry and biology, as discovered by our characters. Said consequences are very weird indeed and require more graphs than I've ever seen in a novel before, by some stretch. Perhaps the most weird thing, though, is that the consequences for alien psychology and social structure are almost negligable...
I'm pretty excited about reading the two follow-up volumes but mainly because I want to know how microscopic physics works over there in Torus Universe. Whether and how the aliens save their planet come a long distant second and third. How this stuff is supposed to appeal to anybody without a physics BSc, I don't know.
I recant: noctilucent clouds are in the book but they don't feature in the internationaly accepted cloud catagorisation because too rare.
Patroclus bites the dust but not before Apollo strips him of his armour. The final blow comes from Hector - but Priam's son is told hs own doom is fast approaching.
Cloud classification has become ever more complicated and even this book appears to be out of date, since the Introduction makes no mention of noctilucent clouds.
Peter Brown; plein air; really good; nice bloke. Prolific, too - I've still got three unread catalogues on my shelf and haven't checked his website for new ones for months. Here I found the Brit paintings better than the France paintings, generally speaking. No idea why.
The Smithsonian Institute seems to have a museum for almost everything, but not one dedicated to cats. Nevertheless, they have much by way of cat-related artifacts and artworks and many of them are reproduced in this delightful and diverse little book. Recommended for all cat lovers and art lovers and especially art-loving cat-lovers, like me!
The 1960s-1970s were a disaster for cultural heritage in Bath. Not merely entire streets but whole neighbourhoods of Georgian through to Victorian architecture were demolished and redeveloped. It became known as The Sack of Bath. Not until the late 1970s did the tide turn back towards conservation and preservation. By that time huge quantities of buildings of significant architectural merit had been flattened. The motivation for all this destruction was allegedly the need for improved housing. It was cheaper to bulldoze and build new than to modernise terraces that were anything up to two centuries old. And indeed, something needed to be done - many of these terraces were suffering from damp as well as needing new plumbing and electrical wiring. Not a single one of the replacement buildings had half the architectural merit of its predecessor and, mysteriously, large areas were not replaced by housing of any kind. The Southgate area gained a horrible covered shopping precinct. Hamm Gardens got a giant multi-storey car-park that couldn't have been uglier if you were trying to make it so. Similarly with Corn Street and Avon Street.
Eventually it was realised that since the local wool trade died in the 18th Century, Bath has had no reason to exist outside of being a Tourist Mecca and giving posh people bragging rights about living in one of the famous up-market streets. (John wood the Elder created this out of nothing in the 2nd half of the 1700s.) Since then, the city's economy has risen and fallen consistently on how popular it is with tourists and rich residents. Needless to say, the 1960s-1970s were a hideous depression for Bath. Only when the clean up and conservation ethos re-established itself (around the time my family moved to the area) did fortunes improve. Since then, new developments have, despite often being labelled (usually fairly) "mediocre" and "insipid" been usually a vast improvement on anything that occurred post WWII and pre-1980. (A notable exception is the new bus station which is only marginally better than the atrocity it replaced.) Since then, the fortunes of the city have also been generally on the rise. People want to visit the amazing World Heritage Site now, whereas they mostly wanted to get the hell out of the soot-covered hell-hole of pre-1980.
Which brings me to the book. From the start of the Sack of Bath, many protested the enormous cultural loss. Some, unable to stop the loss, decided to at least try to preserve a record of the old city before it was too late to do even that. A campaign of photography and drawing was launched. The originals were curated by the old Bath Reference Library (now merged with the lending library). This book, which reproduces the majority of the drawings made during this effort, is therefore important - a term I do not bandy about lightly in case of books - as it represents the best and frequently only easily accessible witness of what we lost in those two decades of planning horror. And what a loss! I had no idea! Almost every building appearing in the book would be considered an untouchable masterpiece if it was standing in one of the towns or villages to the south west or north west of Bath. Only the proximity to so many internationally extraordinary streets and isolated buildings allowed them to be overshadowed and criminally under-appreciated by urban planners who caused more problems than they solved.
With Poseidon gone and Apollo leading the Trojan charge, the Argives find themselves pressed back to their boats once again. Patroclus is off to try to persuade Achilles to fight, not knowing where that decision is going to end for him, personally. Aeneas gets another mention in passing; didn't know he was another bastard son of a god and a mortal...
This isn't just an alien world - it's an alien universe! The speed of light in vacuo is frequency dependent. That isn't the case where we live!