I forgot to mention one of the space operas I've read more recently, which is Jack Campell's Geary series. (Oh God, what a terrible rhyme.) Someone over at james_nicoll
accused it of being formulaic from book to book and, well, it is. I don't have the link (it was buried somewhere in comments to a post I don't remember what it was) but it was something like:
1. Geary comes up with brilliant plan.
2. Stupidheaded captains quarrel with brilliant plan.
3. Battle happens. Stupidheaded captains cause things to go wrong.
4. Stupidheaded captains (with encouragement of the few, reliable, smartheaded captains?) realize how wrong they were, use Geary's plan.
5. VICTORY HULK SMASH!!!
Uh, I'm paraphrasing lots.
So yeah, if you get tired of the formula, then you get tired of the formula.
What I found interesting was the reason behind the tired formula--I mean, not that it helps if you can't stand seeing the same basic thing every battle--is culture change. Geary was in some kind of hibernation due to...luck? (if you can call it that) and is from 100 years in the past, back when they knew how to do tactics and maneuvers and stuff. The war has been going on all this time with the enemy (the Syndics??) and the attrition has been so bad that doctrine has devolved to what looks awfully like a terrifyingly unthinking version of offensive à outrance
Weirdly, I found this plausible because of math.
Specifically, I found this plausible because of math pedagogy, even more specifically because of high teacher turnover in USAn schools. When I taught high school math, I had three preps and one of them I had to design the curriculum from scratch (Discrete Math)--I mean, I was given a Discrete Math textbook but that course had been used for years as a dumping ground for the "bad math" students to do basic arithmetic worksheets for the hour as a holding pen. I wish I were making this up. The head of the math department was new that year and determined to turn that course into one that really actually taught Discrete Math. I was all for it, but, you know, first-year teacher so learning curve. I was forever doing things like thinking that something would take a full period and finding that the kids picked it up quickly, or finding that they would get hung up hard on something I took for granted. This is pretty natural; it happened to me when I was doing my practicum during teacher ed. Eventually with experience you get a knowledge base and a better feel for these things.
But the thing is, it's a little stupid to do this from scratch when you could, you know, have a knowledge base
of this stuff. During teacher ed we read about Japanese school math departments where the teachers would get together and share this knowledge, and also keep files on lessons and what stumbling blocks students had and ways to address them. I'm not saying that all USAn schools don't do things like this, but I know I have taught at schools where they definitely
don't do this--every time a teacher leaves (or quits teaching entirely, like I did), everything they knew goes with them, and the next person who comes in, especially if they're a first-year? Starts from scratch.
So yeah. I could depressingly see how you could end up with an entire space navy that is worn so ragged that it gets in this position--because even if someone figures out how to fight all over again, what's the odds that they live long enough to teach enough people who themselves live long enough...
- I TURNED IN REVISIONS.
Also, I had to redo my hexarchate timeline because I accidentally set one figure wrong. It was a very easy fix, however. My arithmetic was otherwise fine.
(Embarrassing as hell, though, I admit, when you're dealing with a novel that presumably has characters for whom the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic
is of dire importance.)
Also, I have written enough Yuletide that I feel justified in writing up a fandom_stocking stocking...
- Me: "Joe! You should write me a computer game for Christmas! In two weeks!"
Joe: "ROCKS FALL EVERYONE DIES: THE GAME."
- Someone had the sequel to Storm Constantine's Sea Dragon Heir
checked out so I'll try back another time. There was an omnibus of the Wraethhu
(sp?) books but I wasn't sure it sounded like my thing. (Anyone?)
I made my saving throw against two sf books in the library discards pile--one I didn't feel deeply moved to reread (I'm blanking on the title but I'm pretty sure it's that Asimov story about the boy who gets called in to the shrink for going on walks in a future where everyone has a teleporter, something like that) and another by an author I admire but whose prose is dense hence too exhausting for me to deal with right now, and also I am very sure the book is easy to find, and I've read it before anyway.
- It seems I now own two copies of The Magic of Recluce
by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.; the second is a library discard in terrible shape and I might take it as airplane reading to NY. I started rereading it at the library and still love it.
I actually do understand why people would find Lerris's "because it's boring" super-unsympathetic, or anyway rather trivial, as a heroic nonmotivation. It is, however, one of the things that I like about the book because I so completely sympathize with it. I get bored so easily
. You think that I chase after Turkish, cross stitch, custom modded My Little Ponies, cryptology, military history, Latin, digital painting, etc. etc. because of a desire for self-improvement
? Please. I do it because I get so bored
Also, I know one person who actively likes the rather plain-sounding foods that Modesitt tends to feature and prefers them to the endless sumptuous banquet whatever school of fictional food. I'm, hmm, not precisely agnostic, but mostly I find long description of food really tedious (whether the food is sumptuous or plain or whatever), which goes along with me being adamantly not a foodie. Modesitt works for me because yeah food is mentioned a lot, but in a logistical sort of way, and he doesn't go on about it for paragraphs and if it tires me out it's easy to spot and skip.
- Escape: "Ancient Sorceries" by Algernon Blackwood
(podcast/audio story thing?, mp3 download from Archive.org). I was made aware of this by james_davis_nicoll
and his description
An English traveller makes the mistake of disembarking at an innocent seeming small town, a town whose inhabitants seem to know him. He learns far more about himself than he'd have wanted to.
made this sound intriguing. It's the kind of (probably) horror/supernatural story I have a weakness for.
I can't say that I followed all of the story. Even sitting in the darkness trying to concentrate on nothing but the performance (which seemed to be well-done, with effects and bits of music and a couple voices along with the main narrator/protag), I kept having my usual problem with podcasts/audio lectures/audiobooks, which is that I either have difficulty parsing out the phonemes (this is also why I watch even English-language TV with subtitles whenever possible) or I space out and lose chunks of the audio stream. It's kind of frustrating, because it would be nice to be able to access stuff in audio format. From what I did understand of it, though, it seemed to fall into a particular form that I have seen in (written) supernatural stories, pretty much what you'd guess from James's description.
recent someone else's gaming
- I also probably shouldn't tell you about the comment I made when Joe was hunting elves (yesssss! sorry, I can't stand elves, it's an AD&D thing) and one of his targets ran away after he shot it and I asked him if he had to track it while it bled out like a deer and he said he didn't think the game mechanics worked that way. Although it would be funny if they did.
- Me, staring at gray-skinned elf on computer screen: "Joe, if I had ears like that, would you still love me?"
Lizard: "What's wrong with his ears? Those ears are totally awesome. I want pointy ears like that."
Joe: "Oh bleep." (He really says "bleep.")
(HATE ELVES HATE HATE HATE.)