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Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix E. Writing and Spelling

This section... is not very useful for me, except when linked to specific examples.  Translating a word I've only ever read to something I say is often a painful and awkward process.  I add vowels, consonants, and sometimes even whole syllable... and there's no guarantee I'm even saying the parts of the word in the right order.  I'm assuming this is all tied into my dyslexia, and sadly most of this chapter becomes little more than a jumble to me as it focuses on letter sounds and combinations.

However, I cannot help but respect the work Tolkien put into the languages and scripts of his world.

Some pieces here are taken out of the history of writing and printing in our world, such as "double" consonants, something anyone who studies ancient manuscripts will ultimately experience.  These would have their own letters, so a long/double consonant would be it's own piece instead of using the same letter twice.  Of course, predating this, we see it in script, whe…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix D. Calendars

Look, just a little bit more of this and we'll be on to narrative again.  I promise.  We have Bilbo's Last Song scheduled for 7/16, and then my partner in crime and I go on to... *gulp* The Silmarillion.  I have read it before, so I know what I'm getting into and I'm looking forward to tackling it with analysis in mind.

In the mean time, we have Calendars... which is not completely trivial since Tolkien uses and refers to multiple different calendars throughout the story.  I personally appreciate the "every month has the same number of days" with holidays filling in the gaps.  The fact that Tolkien included different cultural calendars is also significant, especially with largely segregated cultures that have their own relationships with the world, time, and even lifespans.  From a comprehensive world building stand point, it would probably be stranger if the elves, men, hobbits, and dwarves all had the same calendar, but often in fiction that's exactly w…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix C. Family Trees

Here's a bit for you visual folks out there who'd like to know a bit more about Hobbit family trees.  An enjoyable bit is the genealogies are presented as written by hobbits, rather than by Tolkien himself, though this is not exactly unusual for him.  Not much to say about this besides I find it far more useful than a written list of "begats."

[Book Review] The Quantum Thief

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The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur #1) / Hannu Rajaniemi

At it's core, The Quantum Thief is a heist story, but within its post-human setting the object of the heist is nothing so simple as something like the Hope Diamond or a Casino vault.  Instead we journey through theft and reclaiming of time and memory.

All-in-all, it makes for a blistering smart and layered hard sci-fi adventure.

This book had a little less specific discussion questions for me to draw out, but it was a fantastic and fascinating read.  Should I actually sit down with other people who've read it, there's definitely a lot to knock about, but the questions and discussion prompts themselves are harder for me to quantify.

Discussion Fodder:
Let's talk about the Prisoner's Dilemma.  What is it, and in what ways is it used in this story?  What do you think of the Dilemma Prison?What are the different ways humanity and cultures manifest in the story?  How are they shaped by technology (or vice versa)?A…

[Book Review] Believe Me

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Believe Me : a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens / Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard's comedy is like a cultural language in itself.  You can identify people by their jokes and quips. 

"Cake or death?" 

"I was on the moon, with Steve!" 

"Obviously, Hitler never played Risk as a child." 

Et al.  There's a joy in discovering another fan and playing with the shared joy of Izzard's humor, and I've adored him since I discovered him and his embodiment of genderfuck while in my early teens.



Believe Me is like a conversation with Izzard.  The voice is so unmistakable that reading the book one cannot but help hear Izzard narrating in one's head.  The memoir is poignant and touching, with a deft seasoning of Izzard's humor, and a careful handling of painful and difficult subjects.

I also highly recommend the audiobook, read by Izzard, and enriched with "live footnotes" as Izzard makes on-the-fly additions to the text and existing foo…

LibraryReads List - June 2017

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So, I couldn't mention this before, but the list is out so I'm in the clear!

My (edited down) review for Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire was featured in the June 2017 LibraryReads list!  (And there's a pretty print out of it all here).


My full review can be read here.

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix B. The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands)

You're not going to get a whole lot from me here, because this whole section is basically a summary of Middle Earth history.  Appendix B is largely made up of a timeline with some summary paragraphs.  But you know what?  It's fantastic for me in terms of getting a grip on the major points of Middle Earth history and when they fall.  History has never been my strong suit.  I love the narrative passages, but in terms of time scale and actual image of history, I can't structure it from the narrative text alone.

Most relevant to The Lord of the Rings are "The Great Years", starting some 8 years after Bilbo's farewell feast, and gives a timeline broken down by month instead of simply years of notable events.  This goes into "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-Dur to the end of the Third Age" and "Later events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring," giving us an extended epilogue.  The Later Years were good to our hobbits and t…