Another Day, Another Blog

May 10, 2007

3 things I learned today

Filed under: books — iamza @ 3:26 pm

1) Wow, everybody and their uncle has called their book Blindsight. I remember borrowing from the Rosebank library Michael Stewart‘s 1988 novel in which a young man is blinded, and then undergoes an experimental treatment in order to regain his sight. Peter Watts has written a well reviewed science fiction novel about first contact that I very much want to read. There’s also the early nineties Robin Cook medical thriller of the same name. And apparently Maurice Gee and Rosmarie Waldrup also have novels titled Blindsight, a fact of which I was unaware until hunting about for links on amazon.

Note to self: when looking to get that all important first novel published, go for the title of Blindsight. It’s obviously a lucky name…

2) James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis first suggested the Gaia Hypothesis in 1972. It’s only in the last few years that Earth Systems Science (as Gaia now seems to be known) has really become reasonably widely accepted. I’m still not sure I buy into Gaia completely, but I’m a hell of a lot more likely to do so now that I know that the theory is not trying to claim the Earth is some kind of planetary whale, or that Gaia is a mystical life-force seated deep insde the Earth a la the Final Fantasy movie.

Reading The Revenge of Gaia I don’t understand why the idea of a self-regulating system is all that challenging to comprehend. Possibly, I am just too stupid to fully understand the point that James Lovelock is trying to make, given the reference to Richard Feynman’s, “Anyone who thinks they understand [quantum theory] probably does not,” at the end of chapter two.

3) It seems even I can be made to find the Napoleonic Wars interesting, if they are presented in the right novel format. Naomi Novak’s Temeraire series is wonderful, and keeps improving with each new book in the series that I read.

Imagine Anne MacCaffrey’s dragons of Pern in an alternate universe version of Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander series, where the Royal Navy is not alone in its attempts to keep Napoleon from crossing the channel. The dragons provide nations with aerial combat units long before they were available on our Earth. Now, imagine all that set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars.

The series makes for riveting reading, not least because being a story about the Napoleonic Wars in an alternate universe means that the outcome of well-known historical battles is no longer guaranteed. Anything could happen — though, of course, one hopes that ultimately Laurence and Temeraire (and Britain) will prevail.

So far, only the first three books in the series are out. Book four is due out in September 2007.

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