The Looking Glass War, by John le Carre

The Looking Glass War , the second le Carre novel I’ve read, was much different from  The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It was about a completely other department, in fact, called ‘the department.’ The department doesn’t usually send spies out into action, but they think, hey, why shouldn’t we do that too? And a huge mess follows.

That is pretty much the book in a nutshell: people who really shouldn’t be doing a thing, trying to do it and screwing up royally. But the way he writes it is so subtle and expert that it is just fascinating. The characters are so well drawn, that you just KNOW people like that in real life. The arrogance, the flippancy, the disregard for people with better knowledge and experience, the hubris. So many times I put my hand over my face and said ‘you idiot.’

But it is not a caricature, or overdone, or a straw-man. I went back and forth the whole book thinking ‘wait, maybe they know what they’re doing?’

This whole novel seems to be a foil for his other characters, to make them look even more competent. Well, it worked.

My only complaint is that reading about incompetence is much less intriguing than competence. But, this was a great read nonetheless!

Mass shooting in [city], [number] dead

It is the deadliest shooting in US history, until next month.

Are the American people okay with this? Each week and month and year that goes by with nothing being done tells me that most are.

Imagine a world in which you can buy a tank at your local car dealership. Imagine in this world, that every month or so some crazy gets their tank on credit with no license or training, and that same day drives through his local neighborhood crushing cars and people and shooting houses until the military can get there to stop him.

Well, that is a lot of death and damage caused all the time, constantly, by crazy or evil or bigoted people getting into tanks.

But, we can’t do anything about that, can we? I need to have my right to buy and drive a tank responsibly if I want to. Not having to be licensed or trained or evaluated in any way when I want to go buy my second or third tank in the future, is much more important to me than making sure only responsible people own tanks. You see, if any kind of control over tank-buying is put in place, everyone might lose their right to own tanks at all!

It’s just something we have to live with, in a free world where everyone can own tanks and drive them in public.

Well you know what? I don’t want to live in a world where everyone can own their own tank, or rocket launcher or bandoleer of grenades. And I don’t want to live in a world where everyone owns a gun.

Call me whatever names you want, call me unpatriotic, call me a liberal snowflake, call me angry or scared or call me fascist or call me socialist. But the less tanks there are, the less crushed cars and destroyed houses there are. The less hand grenades there are, the less explosions there are. The less flame throwers there are, the less house-fires and melted people there are.

And the less guns there are, the less shootings there will be.

Finished!

I completed a draft of the novel I’ve been working on since April! And… it’s not a novel, coming in at only around 33,000 words. Well, that’s where it ended, so that’s what it is. I may even end up cutting some, as I rambled quite a lot in the beginning.

It feels amazing to be done! Again, the feeling of open vistas and freedom is so exciting and fun that being done with something is almost the entire reason for starting it! Now I can write anything… anything!

But first there is lots of editing to do on the novel I finished in April, so I can actually try to do something with it.

Here I come, words!

Star Trek: Discovery, episode 2

There were definite moments during this one, where I felt emotional, and excited, and interested. But in the end I was left heaving a big sigh.

This is star TREK, people! Not star WAR.

I am so sick of war. I’m bored and tired and tired and bored. Everything is about war and destruction and weapons and saving the world. I feel a bit misled by the title of “Discovery.”

Yes this is a pilot pair of episodes, where they have to do some crazy action to get people paying attention, but the preview of the rest of the season seemed like… more war. The Klingons are killing thousands! It’s all Michael’s fault! I just want to see intersting, thoughtful aliens and cultures and have interesting philosophies and moral questions. Star Trek was the ONE sci fi show that wasn’t about war and killing and battle. Well, so much for that.

On the plus side, if it didn’t have the label of ‘Star Trek’ tricking me into expecting something thoughtful and intriguing, it would have been a well above average couple episodes. It looked great, the acting was good, the characters fairly memorable, and it actually managed to make me feel something for a ship exploding–which I never do. I’m not sure if it was the characters expressions, the music, or what, but I felt a bit sick and sad when the Europa blew up. Major points there.

Except.

I AM TIRED OF SEEING SPACE SHIPS EXPLODE.

I want to see cool nebuli and weird aliens. I want to be asked questions that challenge my view of life and the universe. I want to be presented with situations that make me look at my morals and ask myself why I believe what I do. PLEASE can we have a science fiction show again that is not about war and fighting! PLEASE!

I’m sure the answer is no, though. So I’ll take what I can get.

At the end of these two episodes I feel like I haven’t even started the show yet. The one character is going to a new ship, so all the characters we met wont even be on the show, I guess?? I suppose we’ll see her redeem herself, learn to control her anger and think before she acts and eventually become captain of her own ship.

I just hope this all happens with a backdrop other than WAR

 

 

 

Personality types

I retook the Meyers Briggs test, and found that I’ve evolved from an INTP to an INFP over the past 7 years. Maybe people do change…

Reading through all the descriptions though, made me think about my characters and what kind of personalities they are. Do you know your character well enough to take the personality test as them? What personality type would they turn out as? Hopefully they don’t all match you…

I’m going to give this a try with some of my characters and I’ll let you know the results!

Annihilation movie

Have you seen this trailer?

I’m excited mostly by the ‘writer and director of Ex Machina‘ which is one of the few good sci fi movies to come out in years. The concept and ambiance of this novel (Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy)) was very creepy, weird, and interesting, and if they can translate it into film it will be awesome!

It’s a big if, though. The trailer always looks awesome, but movies are experts at being piles of crap that look nice.

Every once in a while there is a gem though, like Ex Machina, or Arrival. I have some hopes that this could be one of those!

And if it is… maybe we’ll get two more with Authority (The Southern Reach Trilogy) and Acceptance (The Southern Reach Trilogy)!

Star Trek Discovery, Episode 1

It’s been a long wait, but finally we got a new Star Trek television series, and my expectations were surpassed by multiple warp factors.

First, I better preface that by saying that my expectations were very, very low. After all the terrible TNG movies, and the somewhat entertaining but definitely NOT Trek JJ Abrahms movies, I was expecting another explosion fest of people running around killing aliens and saying ‘That’s not logical’ or other catch phrases.

And while there was some running around shooting things, the majority was thoughtful, and there was some great dialogue and the acting was not terrible at all.

The primary conflict of the episode is between ‘number 1’: Michael, and the Captain, after they encounter a Klingon ship, after not seeing Klingons anywhere in Federation space for 100 years. Michael, due to her experience with Klingons and knowing they are a warlike people who seek battle, and respect violence, tries desperately to convince the Captain to fire on the ship, to shoot first, as it’s the only way to get their respect and have any chance at peace. The Captain is determined not to, saying the Federation never shoots first, and we can’t attack just based on their race and Michael’s prior experience.

It’s great because you can see each character’s point of view, no one is an idiot or asshole or villain, and it makes you think. Gosh, imagine that, thinking while watching Star Trek..

This is the first episode, so they have to open with some kind of battle. (TNG opening with Measure of a Man might have been bad, even though it’s one of the best episodes ever.) But I sure hope this war isn’t the entire focus of the show. I want discovery, and exploration, and other dilemmas and thought experiments based on things other than fighting and war.

There are still a lot of ways this could go wrong, but it was a good start and I’m optimistic!