‘The Lost Fleet’, J. Campbell

Let us live to the highest standards, lest we win this war only to find ourselves staring in the mirror at the face of our late enemy.

I hope that people forgive me for writing of six books as they were one but I do firmly believe that it should have been one (long) book instead of six rather short ones. That is the main fault I find with this series, and I am of a mind to write more on this way of publication since I read it on the Kindle and I am not happy at all with how the books there turned out (with respect to how there are six short books that have passed a dubious level of quality control and not one long book that has passed an excellent level of quality control).

Only in the vast distances of space did light seem slow.

But to ‘The Lost Fleet’: a most splendid piece of military fiction. Jack Campbell knows what he is writing about and he does it in a style that I enjoy, all of which is enhanced by having quite a good basis for the story.

In the end, that was what it was all about. Do what was needed for those counting on you, or let them down.

Anyone who needs an introduction: we find ourselves following the footsteps of Jack Geary, Captain, who is awakened a hundred years after his ship got shot to bits in the opening moments of a war between two interstellar superpowers, the Alliance and the Syndics (and yes, I did always first read it as “Syndicate” and then corrected myself). Jack Geary gains control of the remnant of Alliance fleet after the higher officership is executed by the Syndics while negotiating after which it is the Captain’s task to take the ships back home despite the captains questioning his leadership, the enemies forming new and more intricate traps, and the fleet itself having changed quite a bit throughout a century of relentless war.

It isn’t good and it isn’t bad, the old saying went, it just is.

That paragraph managed to nicely bring myself to something I liked in these books: a century of war. How would a century of war change the people of a great sprawling realm, and how would it change the military officership?

It’s not easy for dreams to die, even when they’ve remained only dreams.

As it happens, for rather plausible reasons, the best of the officership have been constantly killed off so the knowledge of tactics and strategy that were once the skill and pride of the navy have been lost. The Captain Geary, with his century-old training, however, has all the necessary skills that he can use again against the enemies who in a similar manner have lost the necessary skill to use complex maneuvering and tactics.

The words of the prayers change but they always mean the same thing.

What is the cause of this loss of knowledge? Firstly I have to say that I enjoyed this cause very much: battlecruisers. The fast battleships without the armor that was supposed to be theirs, battlecruisers were apparently their embodiment of honour and therefore the vessels that led the charge against the enemy. The best officers wished to be amongst this great group of men, leading the attack, and by their assignments to battlecruisers they were always the first to die. In other words, the more promising an officer, the sooner he or she could be expected to have finished his/her service with their honour intact and lives ended.

But that cycle of vengeance never ends. I realized something. I don’t want to have to kill that boy someday, when he’s old enough to fight.

I liked this explanation. It sounds plausible, and by that I mean that it sounds like something I might do if I were in a position to do that. Getting back to the plot, it is the reawakened Captain Geary’s challenge to fight this war and he is in a unique position to do so.

Needless to say, this is done in a fast and action-packed way and I found little fault with the author in how he conducted this series. I would truly recommend it to anyone interested in military science fiction.

I’ll just add that I was actually wrong about some plot elements here, and that was another good surprise. The characters I mostly found enjoyable, although I found that other people got more “screen-time” as we headed into the later books which is probably understandable by virtue of the people being expanded in the author’s mind, would actually include the Captain as well as the majority of the people presented in the books. They were human. In both the good ways and the bad. But when we get humans who can represent humanity in a bad way, what shall we do with the demons?

“Feathers or lead.” … The one asking the riddle is a demon, you see. The demon chooses which answer is right. In order to guess the right answer, you need to know what the demon thinks it should be at that particular time. … How do we answer the question posed by something that isn’t human, when we have no idea what the question means or what the ones asking it want the answer to be?

On the Quality of E-Books

Whilst I generally prefer to live a peaceful life of which reading is an important everyday piece, I discover every now and then that there are a number of difficulties with this approach. Generally, everything works well or good enough and I do not have to regret the amount of monies spent or effort put into purchasing and reading books but there are also moments when I wish to say something of what is being done under the near-proper term of “digital publishing”. Continue reading “On the Quality of E-Books”

‘King Rat’, J. Clavell

This is not actually a review of the book but the dedication I saw in there today, for two reasons. Firstly, aside from counting the book as one of the very good, I cannot remember much of the style and appearance to be able to review it properly. Secondly, the dedication is amazing in itself.

Here you go:

For those who were there and are not. For those who were there and are. For him. But most, for her.

And if you take into account the story in a prison camp run by a ruthless group of people from where return is not certain at all, I believe that this dedication is a very heartfelt prayer to everyone there and home. For indeed — if a person fell and was confirmed, the people home knew of that fate. In a prison camp though, who could tell the folk back home what was happening….

But most, for her.

I guess I could add: For those who kept faith.

‘The Broker’, J. Grisham

One of the first books I read this year was John Grisham’s ‘The Broker’. I obtained this book almost accidentally when I noticed Grisham’s novels in a second-hand stall on the market and I decided to try one of them out. ‘The Broker’ turned out to be the one I picked up from that range because I thought that the theme was interesting. And, it was.

It might not be the best book to start reading Grisham but then again that is a very dubious claim to make of any book in any case. The pacing and overall style of writing was something that I enjoyed, and I do believe that I’ll take a further look into Grisham as and when I can.

Overall, ‘The Broker’ brought Italy to me by placing the characters there and I very much liked that. The descriptions of places were detailed (Bologna) and the author looked as if he knew what he was writing about.

Maybe I am not entirely happy with the ending although I did end up rooting for the main character and not one of the intelligence agencies. With the story very much action driven, I am somewhat impressed by there being as much descriptions as there was dialogue (roughly, obviously) since some authors manage to go very far with one of these while ignoring the other.

But, yes, to conclude: I enjoyed the book and while it does not have a massive reread value, I would keep it in mind if I felt like “Italy” one day.

Snow in Norwich

Though I like Norwich quite a bit no matter what the season, snow makes this city shine. I wonder why this is so, though one possibility would be that since snow is seen here relatively little, the few moments (days) when people can actually appreciate it are very noticeable and the effect of “Oh, look, snow! Far different from July!” on every building is still noteworthy.

No matter how the actual thought arises, my point remains: snow makes Norwich, although generally a very nice city, even better.

I would say something else or add anything to this thought, but there really is nothing of substance. Aside from maybe asking: What would your city/town/village look like if snow covered the streets and buildings?

Goals

Is it worth to exert myself now for a goal that can be fulfilled in fifty or seventy years?

A Horoscope

I saw a horoscope meant for 2013 (for a Leo, that is) on Facebook just now, and thought I’d post it here for the sake of it. Regrettably, it is in Estonian:

Uus aasta võib alata väljakutsete rohkelt ning agressiivselt. Sõprussuhetelt on oodata palju. Oskad ennast uues valguses näidata ning kogu maailm märkab sind. Võid muuta mingit seisukohta ning muutuvad ka karjäärisoovid. Võimalik, et hakkad huvituma uutest vaimsetest liikumistest ja tehnikatest.

Aasta sobib ideaalselt karjääriredelil ronimiseks, sest su teele satub üsna palju häid pakkumisi. Samas tasub kontrollida, keda sa saad usaldada ja keda mitte. Endale kindlaks jäädes, kuid vajaduse korral paindlik olles, on võimalik saavutada nii mõndagi.

Mis aga puudutab armastust, siis oled kõigeks valmis. Oled partneri päralt ja tema on sinu päralt. Kui aga oled vallaline, siis on üsna tõenäoline, et su ellu saabub õige inimene. Aasta soosib harmoonilisi suhteid.

Raha ei voola, kuid sellest ei ole ka puudus. Võimalik, et pead raha nimel varasemast vähem pingutama. Keegi pereliige võib sulle rahaga peavalu valmistada, kuid see on mööduv.

Tervis on hea terve aasta vältel. Samas otsid viise, kuidas end veelgi tugevamaks muuta. Seda nii psühholoogiliselt kui füsioloogiliselt. Tasuks jälgida, et sa ei viiks end viimse piirini.
Link to the Horoscope

I don’t think I can be bothered with a translation immediately (although maybe later — which is to say not at all).

Suffice to summarize: 2013 should be good nearly all round although one (Leo) should not exert his/herself to the limits.

Short Overview of 2012 Readings

Well, why not?

It seems, by the Goodreads account that I read something along the lines of 27,000 pages in 88 books. Added to that would be all the articles in various papers and magazines; and the one interesting thing I realized about all the content therein is that the vast vast majority of that would have been in English. A very small amount of articles in Estonian, and no other language featured at all. I will be *trying* to change this in 2013, although I am not very certain how successful this will be. I guess I’ll see. =) [If you’re interested in what I’m thinking of trying, that would be something in French, probably ‘Delicacy’ by David Foenkinos that I really enjoyed in English.]

What books I really enjoyed from last year?

The ones I’ve ranked with 5 stars on Goodreads would be a very good guess, but when I went over the list there (well, eight titles, not exactly a list) I had almost forgotten about some of them so while they were good, they were not exactly memorable. However, say the same aforementioned ‘Delicacy’ and Ryotaro Shiba’s finally translated ‘Clouds above the Hill’ along with Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ and ‘The Madman’ would be the main ones left in my memory.

I’m also quite looking forward to what new authors I’ll discover this year, and to see what wonderful books I might find.

Curiosity

Do you know that moment when you see something on the mind of other people? And your inner curiosity is so kindled that you have to insist of getting to the very bottom of it immediately?

I am very easily taken in by such thoughts, but then again I am also very much on the other side: not mentioning it at all until people are willing to talk.

The second option, however, is by far a better one — and I managed to confirm it yesterday when in a show I watched, a line went: “Hey, you look as if you have something troubling you… Oh, you’ll tell me when you’re ready.” and the guy was off. No doubts, no need to ponder about it.

So I’ll be trying to conquer that curiosity within me in a permanent way, leaving only the other option. We’ll see how that goes.

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