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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Metro 2033Metro 2033: Dmitry Glukhovsky

Glukhovsky, Dmitry (translated by Natasha Randall)

Gollancz, 2009 (originally published 2007)

ISBN: 978 0575086241

I gotta say, I’m lovin’ the sheer Russian-ness of this book.  You remember when I was trying to read that Solzhenitsyn book The Cancer Ward, and it kept defeating me?  Well, this was something else entirely.  Seriously cublings, it’s so good!  Admittedly, it’s taken me a while to read it, but that’s more me than it is the book.  There’s a lot of stuff going down in Mama Wolf’s world at the moment, but instead of boring you with that, I’ll suffice to say that this book has been a nice little break from reality.

Just a note here – I decided not to make this review into a Word vs. Image challenge, even though this is kind of a special circumstance.  As far as I’m aware, Metro 2033 hasn’t been made into a movie, but it has been made into a game; the game came out a few years ago now, but I still remember watching my Lad play it (I don’t possess the manual dexterity or nerves of steel for FPS-type games – hacking madly with a sword from a distance is about my limit).  It was certainly true to the books claustrophobic, terrifying feel; beasties leaping out at you from all angles.  If you’re keen to read about the novel as a game, you can do so here.

Getting back to the ‘break from reality’ thing, I think that that’s mainly because it’s so bleak.  I’d really challenge anyone with a skerrick of imagination to think that they’d had a bad day after reading about daily life in the Moscow subways after the Nuclear Apocalypse as Glukhovsky imagines it.  You feel tired just thinking about it.  And as much as I love pork and mushrooms, I think that I’d be weeping after a few months of only eating that – let alone years.   Read the rest of this entry

Welcome to the Dark Ages

It would seem that the Golden Age of the Internet is over.

Well, not over, at least, not yet.  I was gettin’ my drama on a little bit there.  But I figured if a blackout was good enough for Wikipedia, then it’s good enough for me.

There are lots of reasons to rail against the SOPA (Stop Internet Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act – the PROTECT bit stands for ‘preventing real online threats to economic creativity and thefts’ – it’s the ‘economic creativity’ bit that makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit).  Don’t get me wrong – I think that piracy on a major scale is not only dumb, but robs artists, writers and other creative and innovative types of some material reward for their endevours.   I understand people need to make money.  I really do.  It’s always nice to be able to feed ones family, keep the house warm, all that good shit. But in my view, the current way of doing things has come to the end of its cycle, and we need to develop a new paradigm.  I know I’m a bit of a starry eyed idealist, and to be honest, I think that there is a point to be made about better regulation of the internet.  But not at the expense of freedom of information, at the expense of community supported enterprises like Wikipedia.  What  I’m really quite worried about is the way that governments (not just the US government – it seems like the raison du jour for a lot of Westernised governments at the moment) are weighing in to protect the interests of privately owned companies, and by doing so undermining freedom of information.

If you are a US citizen, you can protest SOPA/PIPA; or hell, you can at least find out more about it.  Here in New Zealand, we have the TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement), which I would urge not only all New Zealanders, but also Australians, and everyone from Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Japan, Canada and Mexico to find out more about too.  There are lots of ways that freedom of information is under threat, and it’s up to us as citizens of the new age to find out about it, get informed and decide what side we want to be on.

Citizens of the new age?  I think a hippy just invaded my brain.  But this shit is really important, so go find out more, go talk to people, and let’s get the knowledge before it’s too late!

The Target of the Well-read Man

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 cover

Bradbury, Ray

Del Ray, 1992

ISBN: 978 0345342 966

Ray Bradbury’s brain scares me.  I mean that in a nice way of course, but it took me a really long time to get back into his writing after I read Something Wicked This Way Comes when I was about thirteen or so.  I totally thought that I’d outgrown the whole nightmare thing – “Ha!” Thirteen-Year-Old Me said, “nightmares are for babies!” – but it would seem that I am not immune to the powerful power of the Dust Witch.  Even typing those words gives me the goosebumps.

However, about a year or maybe a little longer than that ago, I read that Ray Bradbury was “riding out”, as the Guardian put it, in defence of libraries (you can also read a piece that the New York Times came out with around the same period).  “Well,” Present-day Me said to herself, “that’s very nice of him, but it’s no more than I would expect of any author… I mean, der, libraries buy books.”  Whoa, was that presumptuous.  I had not just underestimated the sheer volume of love that Ray Bradbury has for libraries, but attributed a kind of cruel and mercenary reason for that love.  Why all this blithering about libraries, you ask?  Hey, it turns out that I’m a librarian.  Who would have thunk it?  This post is so not about libraries though – I’m currently studying towards my masters, so I’m thinking, breathing, eating and sleeping libraries, and I really don’t want it to infect this blog as well.  It’s the last library-free bastion of one-sided conversation for me. Read the rest of this entry