Posted by Sari
I have been a really lazy reader lately, staying at the core of my comfort zone and mainly re-reading old favourites. Such a one is Kipling’s Captains Corageous (or in this case in Swedish Havet’s Hjältar – I have been annoying Jukka by trying to find out what kind of wish is a “helgeflundra” . Along with Sienkiewicz's In Desert and Wilderness (Erämaan halki) and Verne’s A Long Vacation (Kahden vuoden loma-aika), this was my absolutely favourite adventure novel as a kid. None of the other Kipling’s stories made any impression, but this story of a spoiled teenage son of a millionaire falling off of a luxury liner and being picked up by fishing vessel just captured my imagination. Kipling’s vivid characters and milieu combined with the the rite of passage of Harvey into responsible manhood has withstood the time much better than many other childhood favourites, and I still can’t understand why Kim or Jungle Book is supposed to be better books than this gem.
Other comfort reading has been Diana Wynne Jones’ lighter books, Especially Howl’s Moving Castle, which Anttila was giving out as package with the Miyasaki movie. It is still one of my favourite Jones books, I have always thought it very shrewd writing that Sophie finds being turned into an old woman at least partly a liberating experience.
I have also been reading disaster science fiction, another perennial favourite sub-genre. You know, the kind of books where a natural disaster of some sort threatens to wipe out all life on earth as we know it. This time I chose John Barnes “Mother of Storms” and Jack McDevitt’s “Moonfall”. In the former a large deposit of methane is released into oceans in the northern hemisphere which rises the water temperature just enough to create conditions for unpredictable super-hurricanes, in the latter an interstellar comet crashes to the moon and threatens the Earth with meteorite showers and nuclear winter and loss of tides and whatnot. The Skiffy element in the former is the development of the Singularity concurrent with the crises, in the latter there is a privatly funded Moonbase and a mission to Mars gearing up to go. Both were sort of entertaining, Mother of Storms had little too much going on with cyberpunky plugging in to other people’s thoughts and feelings and the whole Singularity thing. Moonfall, on the other hand somehow just fell a part at the end without achieving the large scale drama and human-size tragedy it was obviously after.
In addition to reading, I have been listening Half Blood Prince audiobook. It takes ages – 17 CD’s – but is worth the time just for Stephen Fry who is excellent reader, doing the voices just right. He does a mean charicature when necessary, but does not overdo the main characters. Otherwise, this round of Harry’s adventures just reminded me how much I hate him. Harry, that is. I think it is fair to have assumed the series to be a bildnungsroman of sorts what with a young protagonist growing to adulthood, but there has been no character growth whatsoever. Character regression perhaps. If you ask me, the self-righteous empathy-impaired little snot ought to get burned by Voldemort. Gah!