It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.
A couple of great ivory carvings, one a German Crucifixion scene, the other a tusk carved with numerous vignettes.
Great, thought provoking Intro covering a wide range of subjects connected to art history, history in general, museums and exhibitions and how we intrepret objects and art. Now on to the catalogue! Fab statuette of a Portuguese soldier...
I seem to remember reading a lot of reviews expressing disappointment with this book when it was first released, but, whilst not perfect, I thought it was actually a big improvement on The Martian, even if our protagonist is only a female criminal version of Mark Watney.
It feels like Weir learned an enormous amount about novel writing between the two books; character development, differentiation and impact on plot are all enormously better. The plot is, by comparison with The Martian, a sophisticated and not entirely predictable thriller, holding more interest than purely survival/engineering problems.
That's not to say there aren't still flaws - Weir's love affair with exposition explaining how everything works is still somewhat out of control which makes for a first third that is slower than necessary. Some of it could be cut and explained in the relevant plot moment (because it is, causing a repetition) or just cut altogether because it's never relevant.
There's some clumsy moments that include details you just know are going to be super plot-crucial later - not well disguised despite the barage of similar details. The protagonist at times verges on being unsympathetic and the reaction of the general populace to her actions during the denouement seems not entirely realistic.
There are much worse novels by much more experienced novelists than this, however and if Weir can carry on learning he will become a really good writer.
Mind and Matter: A tacit assumption that nothing supernatural is going on. Brief argument that conciousness is associated with nervous systems, followed by an argument that conciousness is associated with learning - it is at least implied idea that we conciously learn everything that the brain does - this must surely be wrong? How could crucial autonomic functions be conciously learned by a foetus? But the model of concious learning seems right and a more detailed version is widely used in learning theory.
The Duchess commits suicide, to the approbation of many; it's very similar in The Rape of Lucrece. The idea that suicide restores the honour of a rape victim seems like the extreme of victim blaming, to me.
Hive Monkey: Everyone's favourite profane, gunslinging Spitfire pilot that also happens to be a monkey is back and there's already an intriguing mystery, an explosion and a lot of hard drinking...
So can anybody explain this:
I mean, it's clearly this:
but with the horses and human replaced with bears, but why? I know there's some association between Berlin and bears (no idea why), too, but *shrugs* is it just a bit of a sculptural laugh, or what?
Getting exposition heavy; too much time explaining moon colony engineering, not enough advancing the plot.
The best novel I've read by Landy! It also has the best reason to get rid of the parents I've ever come across in teen fantasy. I suspect its inspiration resides heavily in the TV show, Supernatural, and the level of explicit horror was startling. Trade-mark Landy quiping and comic-relief idiot are all present and correct, though toned down compared to early Skulduggery Pleasant.
Imagine a female criminal version of Mark Watney from The Martian and you're not far off Jazz, our protagonist.
PS. I really, REALLY want someone called Jazz to have twins and name them, Rhythm & Blues.
Initially the obvious rip-off of Peter F. Hamilton (an interstellar rail network links planets via wormholes), Iain M. Banks (AI controlled vehicles), even William Gibson (Neuromancer-style web-diving) was off-putting but as the story progressed I got caught up in the characters, mysteries and plot twists that kept things unpredictable and exciting until the denouement. By the end I was eager for more.
This book is based on an exhibition pairing African and European artistic objects currently in the Bode Museum, Berlin. The Introduction forcefully points out how the setting and context of exhibitions affect interpretation (e.g. whether in an art museum or an anthropological one) and how we are still only in the initial stages of emerging from a History of Art that is really just a History of Western Art and how this is just a symptom of how History is still just the History of the West, in turn a symptom of Western cultural hegemony and assumed superiority.