Sunday Sum-Up: Nov 20, 2022

Winter made an early appearance in the shape of cold, wind, and snow flurries throughout the week. It wasn’t enough snow to actually collect, but the tiny bit we got was enough to cheer me up in the face of some blustery days.

And while I enjoy a bit of snow in the winter, this Thanksgiving week I am grateful that we don’t get the sort of snowfall that they got in upstate New York this week. Six feet of snow is far too much snow.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

Because most of my friends are either busy or going out of town for Thanksgiving this week, I decided that I will be taking Mina with me when I go to see my parents. I decided to get her a harness with a leash, so we could safely take a break at a rest stop or two along the way. Fitting the new harness was… interesting.

Mina is a small cat, so the first time the harness went on (without adjustments), she pulled it right off. The second time, she managed to get her front leg stuck under the harness, so after rescuing her and adjusting it again, we got a good fit. I’ve been putting it on her in the evening so she can get used to it now, and for the most part, she is fine with it, but now and then she will hop off whatever shelf she has been laying on and rolls around for a while to get the harness off. So I think we’ll be ready to make the drive to my parents’ house. The only question after that is, will she be social while we’re there, or will she just hide the whole time?

I’ll let you know next week.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

Elder Race was a fascinating blend of science fiction and fantasy, featuring a young princess and her attendant to seek the help of what is, to her, a sorcerer to end a frightening threat spreading through a neighboring forest. The sorcerer, however, is not a magician. He is an anthropologist from a space-faring society who was sent to the planet to observe the people there but not to interact with or affect their development as a society. But he has been cut off from his people for a long time and finds that he can no longer keep himself apart from the people he was sent to observe. It’s a fascinating take on the notion that when people are confronted with sufficiently advanced technology, it will seem like magic to them. This was my first foray into Tchaikovsky’s work, but it definitely will not be my last.

Living Nations, Living Words is a collection of poetry written by Native American poets from across the country. The subjects of the various poems generally deal with loss– the loss of ancestral homelands, loss of friends and family, etc.– which makes the collection a heavy one. Some poems are straightforward narratives about personal stories, while others play with format and can be ready both horizontally and vertically. Those were fascinating to encounter and consider, and while many of these works were hard to read (in the sense of their heavy themes, not because they had difficult words or anything) it was eye-opening in many ways, and I’m glad I read it.

Time Was is a novella about two men, Tom and Ben, who meet and fall in love thanks to a top-secret British project meant to hide Allied forces from German radar during World War II. When the project goes horribly awry and Ben and Tom disappear and everyone assumes they’re dead. But they’re not. They are flung out of their proper timeline and spend decades slipping between the years, leaving messages for one another as they try to find each other for good. In their future, a rare book dealer finds out about their story and becomes obsessed. He begins hunting for clues in an effort to find either Ben or Tom and discover the truth of their story. This was a beautifully written story, but in the end, I didn’t find it terribly effective as either a love story or as a story of obsession, as it all felt like it was being kept at arm’s length. The writing was lovely, but it felt as though McDonald didn’t want to dive too deeply into Tom and Ben’s relationship, or the narrator’s relationship to their story. Throughout it, I was reminded of Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s novella This is How You Lose the Time War, which is about two time-traveling agents on opposite sides of a temporal war who start by leaving taunting messages to each other and end up falling in love. Given the excellence of that story, it’s going to be hard for me to find another of a similar vein that measures up. Time Was was lovely, but not quiet as engaging as I’d hoped.

What I’m Currently Reading:

  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (603/1216)
  • A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes #1) by Jin Yong, translated from the Chinese by Anna Holmwood, audiobook narrated by Daniel York Loh (24%)
  • The World We Make (Great Cities #2) by N.K Jemisin (185/357)

I’ve reached Book Four of The Lord of the Rings, which is where the story heads back to Emyn Muil with Frodo and Sam as they’re trying to find their way through the rocks with Gollum on their trail. I got through the last few chapters of Book Three fairly quickly, but then, it’s hard to resist the momentum of ‘Helm’s Deep’ and the Hobbits’ story of the Ents’ march on Isengard. There’s a long way to go between now and then, but I’m looking forward to getting back to Rohan and meeting back up with Eowyn. In the meantime, Frodo and Sam and I are going to have a time dealing with Gollum and his shady behavior, because Sam and I both know he can’t be trusted, no matter how much Frodo wants to believe in his goodness.

I read A Hero Born a few years ago when the English translation was first being published. I enjoyed this wuxia novel, which has been immensely popular in China since it was first published in the 1950s, but I didn’t continue with the series as the rest of the series was coming out, though I’d always meant to. I purchased all four volumes in paperback last year with the intention of finishing it, but hadn’t gotten around to it. I finally told myself to just get on with it, so I downloaded the first book on audio from my library and started it. There are plenty of things I’d forgotten, but I remember the gist of the book. I’ve gotten to the point where Lily Lee and Charity Guo have had to flee their homes and end up in very different places after the deaths of their husbands. And I’ve met the colorful Seven Freaks of the South, though I don’t remember how they end up involved with the next generation of heroes. I’d also forgotten just how much fighting there is, and how detailed said fight scenes are.

The World We Make is the sequel to Jemisin’s book, The City We Became, which I read and loved earlier this year. In that book, six people become the literal embodiments of New York City and its boroughs (aka, Genius Loci, if you want to get all Greek about it). They wake up one day with new senses and abilities and find that their city is at risk from a terrifying enemy from a place radically different from New York. They manage to deal with the threat to a degree, but it’s not gone forever and it’s found a new way to fight the spirits of the city in order to continue its plan to destroy both New York and the world as we know it. It doesn’t help that everyday problems to do with jobs and apartments as well as existential threats of racism and fascism are plaguing them, and their interpersonal relationships are often difficult to navigate, to say the least. I am thoroughly enjoying this book, just like I did the last one. The characters are so vivid and interesting, and every time I pick the book up, I don’t want to put it down. I anticipate finishing it in the next couple of days, though I’ll be sad because it’s a duology, and so there won’t be any more of the story to look forward to. I suppose, though, that I’ll just have to read it again one of these days.

14 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: Nov 20, 2022

  1. I hope you will have fun with Tchaikovsky’s other books! He writes consistently good stories, long and short…

    LOTR is on my want-to-reread list for next year.

  2. I’ve not decided yet what my next Tchaikovsky story will be, whether another novella or whether I’ll finally try one of his full length novels. Very glad you enjoyed Elder Race.

    I’m in the same boat as you with regards to A Hero Born. I have the rest of the series but haven’t finished it yet. Not sure if I’ll reread the first before I do or just jump right into book two.

    I hope you have a great Thanksgiving with your family. Should be fun with Mina along. 🙂

  3. I want to start reading Children of Time, but it doesn’t fit in my work bag very well. It might have to be the book I read before bed.

    There was so much that I had forgotten about A Hero Born that I’m glad I decided to reread it. I don’t know how long it will take to get through the rest of the series, but at least I’ve started.

    You have a great Thanksgiving, too!

  4. Good luck with traveling with Mina! I’m so glad you loved Elder Race. I definitely want to read more by the author. So far, I’ve read just one other novella by him (One Day All This Will Be Yours — excellent!), and hope to dive into some of his novels soon. I should probably reread Time Was — I know I really liked it, but don’t remember the ending. Happy Thanksgiving!

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