Sunday Sum-Up, 03/03/2019

Winter Destinations for Christmas!

I always find it strange when, on the first day of March, people complain that it is still cold and snowy, as though nature cares what day it is on a human calendar. Yes, I understand that February was colder and snowier than average, but the first day of spring is still three weeks away, and in Nebraska, the threat of snow continues into May.

But I suppose that after the many dark and often dreary days of winter, it’s easy to anticipate spring’s arrival long before it arrives.

What I Finished Reading This Week:

Ettiquette and Espionage and Curtsies and Conspiracies are the first two books in Gail Carriger’s YA Steampunk fantasy novel, which is set some years before her adult Steampunk fantasy series, The Parasol Protectorate. In this series, Sophronia Temmennick is quietly recruited to attend a finishing school intended to make her into a proper lady– and a spy. Though she’s never heard of this school or much of the aspects of her new life, she takes to this covert world like a duck to water and has a series of hilarious adventures with her friends both above and below stairs.

Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus is a series of poems by the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. The translation by A. Poulin, Jr. is my favorite that I’ve found. While I can’t speak or read German, it feels as though Poulin captured the elegant, if sometimes melodramatic spirit of Rilke’s work. These are poems that demand attention and speak about love, beauty, and life.

All Systems Red is the first volume in Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries series. There are four novellas about Murderbot, a sentient half-organic/half-cybernetic construct who hacked his own programming to free himself from the company that owns him. He must hide this fact from the people he works with, or face being destroyed or reprogrammed. Though he was constructed to be a lethal security bot, he wants nothing more than to be left alone to watch the endless entertainment stream. I’ve heard nothing but good about this series, so I picked it up at Barnes and Noble and sat down with coffee and a cupcake. I finished it two hours later and immediately put the rest of the books on hold at the library. Murderbot is a strange character, but he’s easy to like and you quickly want to know more about his journey to self-understanding.

What I’m Currently Reading:

I’ve put off Sense and Sensibility for the moment so I can finish reading the ARC of The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson. The Bird King is about Fatima, a beautiful concubine of the last Mosleum sultan on the Iberian peninsula and her friend, the sultan’s miraculous mapmaker, Hassan. The Christian forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain are closing in around the diminished sultanate, and agents of the newly established Inquisition are threatened by Hassan’s abilities to draw maps of places he’s never seen and in so doing, reshaping the fabric of reality. Fatima and Hassan are forced to flee for their lives, and during their flight through a hostile land, they come to question the nature of love, reality, and freedom.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

I had grand plans to start a bunch of books last week, and that ended up not happening. I don’t know why, but I just didn’t get to a lot of reading. Time flew away from me somehow. It didn’t help that I spent a bunch of time filing my taxes. At least that’s done for the year. I also spent a lot of time reading and writing this week’s LotR Reread post, “But no living man am I!“. The end is almost in sight for this reread project, and while I adore The Lord of the Rings and am perfectly happy to reread it, such an in-depth reading and weekly essays about the text take a lot of time.

 

Because my birthday is fast approaching, I decided to splurge a bit and bought a couple of new books:

Obviously, I promptly fell in love with Murderbot, but I haven’t opened The Priory of the Orange Tree yet. I’ve heard mostly good things about that one, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s nearly 800 pages, so it’s not one I’m going to be taking it to work with me. It doesn’t fit into my bag, sadly.

 

I didn’t watch much television this week. I got caught up on a few podcasts and got some stuff done around the house. I did, of course, watch the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, 207 “Light and Shadows”. After teasing Ethan Peck’s appearance as Spock for half the season, he’s finally appeared. It turns out that his mother, Amanda Grayson has been hiding her mentally troubled son from everyone- including her husband, Spock’s father Ambassador Sarek. The Red Angel’s appearance and its chaotic nature have caused a rift in Spock’s half-human/half-Vulcan, logical mind. The answers the Federation needs to solve the mystery of the Red Angel and the signals it has spawned across the galaxy are locked in Spock’s mind, but he is unable to communicate with anyone, including his own family. Plots A and B were not really related to each other, but they were related to the season’s overarching plot. Both occurred a little too rapidly for my taste but were intriguing and entertaining overall. I am looking forward to the next episode and the (re)appearance of the Talosians.

 

7 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up, 03/03/2019

  1. The murder bot story sounds fun! I hope it’s nuanced. When I think of a robot or cyborg that becomes self-aware, I have two examples: Johnny 5 from Short Circuit and the Skynet from the Terminator. Those are extreme examples! How come no one writes a story about a cyborg that becomes self-aware and wants to read books in a cabin on a lake, with the occasional fishing?

  2. I think there’s a lot of nuance in All Systems Red. It’s from Murderbot’s perspective, so the human connection is not really a thing (he’s a construct, after all), but you can still get a sense of the humans’ different perspectives of Murderbot, and his opinion of them. I am so looking forward to the rest of the series!

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