What the Sea Wants — P. Djèlí Clark

What the Sea Wants, written by P Djèlí Clark.Available in Daily Science Fiction – Oct 2012.

This one fits in my Mermaids, Selkies, Sirens and Other Mythical Sea Folk collection.

Although it’s a very short short-story, it’s still a good modern fairy tale about one of those “Other Mythical Sea Folk”.

Beware the sea!

Next up in my Djèlí reading list is With a Golden Risha.

P. Djèlí Clark’s Page

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Viper — Alastair Reynolds

Viper, written by Alastair Reynolds.You’ll find this in the collection, Deep Navigation.

Super good idea on how we might test future prisoners as to whether or not they’re suitable for parole.

Although we have to be sure that those doing the testing can’t be allowed to fiddle with the test — don’t we?

Enjoyable.

Next in the timeline from Alastair, it’s Angels of Ashes, from 1999.

Alastair’s Page

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Fantasy Pick — P. Djèlí Clark

Fantasy Pick, written by P Djèlí Clark.Available in Every Day Fiction – Aug 2012.

A good, little, short story which wasn’t the kind of “fantasy pick” i was expecting from Djèlí.

The “fantasy pick” of the title is about sport stars, the GOATs, those greats that we love to stand upon pedestals to cheer and worship, what we expect of them and at what cost.   It also raises some questions as to modern medicine and at what point that will be considered performance enhancing and how far the fans are willing to put up with this.   Will the fans even care about the player’s overall welfare and what it ultimately costs them as long as they are getting entertained?

At least that’s what i got out of it.   Good stuff.

Next in my P. Djèlí Clark reading adventure will be What the Sea Wants.

P. Djèlí Clark’s Page

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On the Oodnadatta — Alastair Reynolds

On the Oodnadatta, written by Alastair Reynolds.You’ll find this in the collection, Deep Navigation.

A rather enjoyable short story, and a definite must read for any weirdos out there who are considering cryonics.

You never know who is going to end up buying out the corporation you originally contracted with, and once you’re frozen you won’t get any further say whatsoever as to what level those contracts will be honoured.   Maybe your new corporate owners will find a better use for your frozen bits in 20 or 30 years time.

Cremation is much cheaper and you know you’ll only be good for plant fertiliser afterwards.

Next up in Alastair’s writings will be Viper, a short story from 1999.

Alastair’s Page

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Wings for Icarus — P. Djèlí Clark

Wings for Icarus, written by P. Djèlí Clark.Available in Daily Science Fiction – Apr 2011.

Extremely short, and definitely not the most imaginative piece of writing from Djèlí: he has most certainly come a very long way since writing this.

Not sure why it’s in Daily Science Fiction.

P. Djèlí Clark’s Page

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In Praise of Shadows — Junichiro Tanizaki

I’m currently reading The Power of Chowa, wherein Akemi mentions this book in passing.   When i read the name of the writer i was sure i had some of his books in my pile of books waiting to be read, and sure enough, one of those books was this one.

So i put aside The Power of Chowa for a while and gave this a read to fully understand the impression that Akemi was trying to give.

And wow, this is definitely one to put on the shelf next to The Book of Tea.   Both books have wonderful passages of ranting, but it’s intelligent ranting fuelled by a genuine passion for something truly precious; and in between the passages of ranting one gets some wonderful, thought provoking passages of delightful, descriptive writing: this book is like a painting in words.

Written in the 1930’s, concerning Japan’s modernisation it’s news to me to read how, even before WWII and the surrender to the USA, Japan’s desire to ape American culture was already underway.   But, that aside, i do feel that Junichiro fails to appreciate that even in the west we have lost so many of our own shadows.   It seems that most of my life that here in Europe, we have been hell bent on illuminating everything to ridiculous levels, banishing all shadow wherever it may lurk.

The never ending pursuit of cleaning out the dirt and dust and any corners where it may lurk: banish the shadows for your own health’s sake!   The continued insistence on ridiculous levels of cleanliness and sterility within and without our homes, which has lead to ever lower immune function and plenty of allergies along with it.

And it’s not just the shadows, it’s any semblance of quiet we will blast sound into.   Where now can we truly be quiet and stare into the night sky and see the stars as they truly are?   When was the last time you truly experienced the peaceful quite and shadows of the real world without modern technology to protect and coddle you?   Or are you one of the new people, ever terrified of what unknowns may be lurking there where you hear and see nothing but vague outlines and impressions?

I agree with Junichiro, we have lost something truly precious.

The only thing i would say about this book is that, for me at least, the “Afterword” would be better placed as a “Foreword”.   I just feel that it would focus ones attention on certain things a lot more if they had been pointed out before hand instead of afterwards.   I will definitely be reading this again at some point before i die and when i do i will definitely read the “Afterword” first.

Junichiro’s Page

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The Machine — P. Djèlí Clark

The Machine, written by P Djèlí Clark.Available to read for free, right now, in the online magazine, Every Day Fiction – Dec 2010.

A wonderful little short that gives one a pause for thought.

Next up on my Djèlí reading list will be Wings for Icarus.

P. Djèlí Clark’s Page

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Dopamine Nation — Anna Lembke

I recently discovered Anna when she appeared on the two podcasts below.   So i immediately got hold of this book and decided to put all my other reading on hold and dive straight in: some times i feel some things are just that important.

So having listened to the two podcasts was there anything more to be learned from the book?

Yes.

Without a doubt, both podcasts were great in their own unique ways, Rich and Michael approach this topic from two very different angles and flavour their podcasts accordingly, and when it comes to the book i think that the reader will find their own bag within it.

One thing Anna isn’t within this book is judging and preachy: she’s not telling anyone what to do or what not to do.   Anna simply lays out a bunch of case histories and how the human propensity to seek pleasure and minimise pain within this age of abundance is what is ultimately causing so many problems.   The reader can make their own mind up as to where they are on this wild and crazy spectrum of addiction that is plaguing our age and species, and also what they may wish to do about it.

Super good and definitely a book to put on the shelf next to The Pleasure Trap: if you haven’t read that then seriously, get reading that too.

But, whether you wish to take the time to read Dopamine Nation or not, i do hope you’ll take the time to listen to the podcasts: both are different, so please don’t just listen to one.

Rich Roll Podcast

Finding Mastery

The Rich Roll one is also available on video if you prefer it that way:

Anna’s Page

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Stroboscopic — Alastair Reynolds

Stroboscopic, written by Alastair Reynolds.You’ll find this in the collection, Deep Navigation.

I get the distinct feeling with this short story that Alastair was just having some fun with an idea.   And why not?

Basically, there’s a game that involves some newly discovered, alien lifeform that the solar system’s best gamers are invited to play.   There’s also a bit of politics involved, with the goodies v baddies, evil corporation thing going on in the background as well.

It’s ok, only 4 stars for this instead of Alastair’s usual 5, but like i said, this one just seemed like he decided to have some fun for a change.

Next up on the Alastair Reynolds timeline, from 1998, it’s On the Oodnadatta.

Alastair’s Page

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The Black God’s Drums — P. Djèlí Clark

Take some super good fantasy with a good African/Caribbean flavour, season with a nice hint of steampunk, and bake slowly for a few of hours in an althist New Orleans: what more can you ever want from a book?

This good length novella is from around the same time as Djèlí was writing the Dead Djinn series, and with all of these stories you really pick up on the time in Djèlí’s writing that he begins to introduce steampunk elements into his unique and wonderful style of fantasy.

A really well written, really enjoyable read.

For my next P. Djèlí Clark story, i’m going back in time.   I managed to track down some earlier stories of his that i missed: gotta read them all.   First up of those will be The Things My Mother Left Me.

Djèlí’s Page

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