Monday, November 27, 2006

Reading Eragon

I picked up Eragon from the bookstore yesterday because I was intrigued by the movie tie-in. For some reason, I'd assumed it was going to be different from your standard fantasy stereotypes, but disappointingly, it seems to be sticking firmly to the conventions so far.

Standard human/elven/dwarven/orc racial mix - check
(though taking the place of Orcs are "Urgals". They're nasty, brutish, and have horns. Aside from the horns: Orcs)

Naive farmboy - check
... with mysterious birthright/ancestry/lineage - check
... who discovers mysterious object of power - check
... who is catapulted (unwillingly) from bucolic rural life to the centre of political intrigue in his world – check
Bonus: adoptive parents/family killed by evil minions of Dark Lord, providing impetus for beginning of epic journey (aka "Uncle Ben and Aunt Beru Buy the Farm")

Old man - check
... who guides, teaches and mentors the boy - check
... who knows magic/is a wizard - check
... who gives the boy a magical sword - check

Journey of growth and self-discovery, from adolescence into manhood – check
Evil Dark Lord – check (in this case, a King – but he knows magic! Dark magic, of course)
... with an army of Darkness – check (aforementioned Urgals, plus other nasties)
Rebel Army of Freedom Fighters opposed to Evil Dark Lord – check

I'm only at page 256 now (where The Tavern Where Many Important Meetings Will Occur, aka The Prancing Pony/Mos Eisley Cantina, has just made its appearance) but I'm sure the other usual suspects will appear:
- The Princess (who marries Boy eventually)
- The Sidekicks/Companions to the Boy (one of whom will die, heroically, thus providing another Learning Experience on his path to adulthood)
- Death of Mentor (aka "Obi Wan Kenobi Becomes More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine")
- A Prophecy (of which the Boy is the fulfillment)
- Climatic Battle Between Forces of Good and Evil (of which the deciding factor will be some coup de grace/deus ex machina, rather than, say, actual hard work, or sensible strategy)

Any more tropes I missed?


Saturday, November 25, 2006

"Let's see if we can enhance that ..."

Iffy's Eyes

A regular staple of movies and tv shows that involve technology in some way is the moment where someone looks at a photograph and says "What's that in the corner? Let's see if we can enhance that ...", and (after a few mouse clicks from a suitably geeky looking person) some hitherto hidden element of the photograph is miraculously revealed. The first time I remember seeing this trope was on Blade Runner, when Deckard discovers the snake scale, but you see it all the time on CSI.

It was this I had in mind when I suddenly realised that you could see my reflection in Iffy's eyes in this photograph. You can see it clearly in the close-up below, which I cropped and enhanced (ahem). You can see my forehead, the camera, and the papasan chair, as well as a bit of the room behind me.

Reflection in Iffy's Eyes

So yes. Gratuitous geek moment over.


Watching the shadow puppets

watching the shadow puppets, originally uploaded by Wahj.

When I was in primary school, we made shadow puppets for art class, wayang kulit style. Last week, I had the opportunity to watch a shadow puppet show by some primary school kids, put up as part of a puppetry workshop they were attending.

dismembered puppet

There was some very creative work on display, all the more impressive because the kids had done everything (script to set to rehearsal to making and moving the puppets) in 3 days flat.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sci Fi Book Meme

At last, a meme I can answer quickly. A few complaints though: why isn't Iain Banks on this list? And if Tolkien counts as "Science Fiction", then what about Tad Williams, George R.R. Martin, and China Mieville?

But anyway.

Science Fiction Book Club Meme:


Below is a Science Fiction Book Club list of the most significant SF novels between 1953-2006. The meme part of this works like so: Bold the ones you have read, strike through the ones you read and hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put a star* next to the ones you love.”

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien *
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov *
3. Dune, Frank Herbert *
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein *
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick *
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury *
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov *
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card *
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams *
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick *
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut *
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein *
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer


Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Papasan Chair

patch in the papasan chair 1

I first got acquainted with papasan chairs in university. They're round shallow bowls, and you sink right into them fall asleep. I finally bought one for the house last week.

Of course you know what happens next. The cats claimed it. Patch in particular has staked it out as her own special spot. I wouldn't mind so much (Patch has shown herself willing to share the chair when it comes to it) but I wish she wouldn't puke in it.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ceiling Lights

Ceiling Lights, originally uploaded by Wahj.

I looked up at the ceiling in the hotel ballroom and saw constellations and stars.

The image was processed in GIMP to bring out what I saw. I interleaved the original and the altered to show the contrast between what the eye and the mind's eye saw.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


bleeding sign, originally uploaded by Wahj.

One of the rules I'm trying to stick to is not to post unless I have a picture.

I have a picture, but nothing much to post about, except to say hop on over to Tym's and read this.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Strange things on a beach

'But that was nothing to what things came out
From the sea-caves of Criccieth yonder.'

strange things on a beach, originally uploaded by Wahj.

I saw this and was reminded immediately of a poem by Robert Graves, "Welsh Incident" (you can read a copy here).

Things washed up on a beach are always so repulsive, in a slimy, or crusty, or tentacularly way. Alive, and underwater, they can look quite beautiful, but dead and washed up on a beach ... well, you look back on your footsteps in the sand and see wide detours.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We own the bed

we own the bed, originally uploaded by Wahj.

They do, you know.

This is the reception we come home to everyday – our cats giving us the stare. It used to be just Twinkle (left) but now Iffy (right) and Patch (centre, with the arch stare) have decided that the bed rightfully belongs to the felines in the house. Us humans are grudgingly allowed the bed after the cats have had their afternoon naps.