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review 2017-07-23 16:17
A Country Without (SF) Readers: “Antologia Cyberpunk” by Editorial Divergência
Proxy - Divergência

Published 2016.

 

“O Neuromante foi publicado por mim em Portugal apenas dois anos depois da primeira edição em língua inglesa. Talvez tenha sido a primeira tradução para uma língua estrangeira. Estremeci de alegria quando o livro veio à estampa. Pensei: agora sim, agora os detractores da FC vão engolir mil sapos.

Infelizmente esqueci-me de que vivemos em Portugal. Num país sem grande futuro, nem mesmo o do Gernsback. Um país sem leitores. Trataram-no como se nem sequer existisse. Ou como se se tratasse de mais umas tantas páginas de lixo escapista. Nas livrarias, foi parar às secções de literatura infantil ou às prateleiras de estudos informáticos. Enfim, não vendeu. Nas Feiras do Livro que se lhe seguiram, foi vendido a retalho por tuta e meia, como se o quisessem oferecer a um pobre. [….] E por não ter vendido, nada de nada, foi razão mais do que suficiente para o Editor me olhar, imbuído de um triste desprezo, me dizer que eu só escolhia coisas muito más, e que por isso teria de pôr fim à colecção de FC. Meu dito meu feito.”

 

("Neuromancer was published by me in Portugal only two years after the first edition in English. Maybe it was the first translation into a foreign language. I jumped with joy when the translation first came out. I thought: 'Yes, now the detractors of SF must bite the bullet.' Unfortunately, I forgot that we live in Portugal. In a country with no great future, not even Gernsback's. A country without readers. They treated the translation as if it did not even exist. Or as if it were some more pages of escapist junk. In the bookstores, it went to the sections of children's literature or to the shelves of computer studies. Anyway, it did not sell. At the Book Fairs that followed, it was sold to retail stores for nothing, as if they wanted to offer it to the poor. [....] And for not having sold anything at all, it was more than enough reason for the Editor to look at me, imbued with a sad contempt, to tell me that I only chose very bad things, and thus end the SF collection. No sooner said than done.")

 

In the foreword by João Barreiros in “Antologia Cyberpunk” by Editorial Divergência.

 

 

I've been reading some old best-of-the-year SF anthologies lately, bought on eBay, as well as this one by Editoral Divergência, a Portuguese book publishing house; it was the last one of the bunch, and in there the cyberpunk trope seems to be swimming in foreign waters, literal and figuratively speaking. While the cyberpunk stories in these anthologies are generally good, there's a distinct sense of hardening sub-genre assumptions about them -- the shared idea that computer criminals would largely be members of street gangs seems particularly far off. By the 1989 anthology, most of the authors who'd been doing cyberpunk had gone on to other things. What about 2016 when this Portuguese cyberpunk anthology came out?

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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review 2017-07-21 07:17
Other-Wordly
Other-Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from Around the World - Kelsey Garrity-Riley,Yee-Lum Mak

I'm a sucker for words; especially unusual words, or foreign-language words that have no straight translation into English, and the beauty of this book's cover made it impossible to resist it, even though I already have similar books.

 

Luckily this small but beautifully illustrated collection of words are almost entirely different from those found in the books I already have and the author also included English words that are rarely used or hardly known (Deipnosophist, n, someone skilled in small talk or in conversing around the dining table).

 

Bonus points to the author and publisher for including not only an index of the words themselves, but an index of the words by language.  Demerit points because once again nobody thought to include a pronunciation guide, and figuring out how to pronounce cwtch (Welsh, n, hug or cuddle; a safe place; the cupboard beneath the stairs) is beyond my meagre abilities to even guess.

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review 2017-05-27 17:41
The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose
The Secret Language of Stones - M J Rose

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family.

 
**********
 

The Secret Language of Stones is the sequel to The Witch of Painted Sorrows. In this book, we get to meet Opaline, the daughter of Sandrine who was the main character in the previous book. And just like Sandrine is Opaline a Daughter of La Lune, a descendant from La Lune, the famous courtesans from the sixteenth century Paris.

I read the first book last year and I found it intriguing and looked forward getting the chance to read this one. However, it has taken me forever to get to this book, despite having had this book for a long while. But, the third book will be released next year so I thought I should take the time to read this one. And, I liked this one just as much as I liked the first one. I like the whole La Lune storyline, with women being descended from her with different abilities, like Opaline who can read stones and by doing that receiving messages from the dead. And, now in the time of war is that a gift that is a comfort too many,

The story in this book is about Opaline embracing her gift, she has long struggled with her gifts, wanting to be normal, and she has never really accepted her abilities fully. But, now she faces many difficulties, she finds herself in love with a fallen soldier, and a daughter of La Lune can only love once. Is she doomed to love a man that she can never have? And, the world is in turmoil and perhaps she can help the Romanov dowager empress find out what happened to her grandchildren...

The Secret Language of Stones is a sensual, well-written story about a woman that has to face many obstacles in her quest to find herself. I did suspect the ending, it felt very predictable, but I still liked it because I wanted just that ending for Opaline.

It was a good book, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for through Edelweiss an honest review!
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review 2017-05-27 17:15
The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough
The Language of Dying - Sarah Pinborough

Tonight is a special, terrible night. A woman sits at her father's bedside watching the clock tick away the last hours of his life. Her brothers and sisters - all traumatised in their own ways, their bonds fragile - have been there for the past week, but now she is alone. And that's always when it comes. As the clock ticks in the darkness, she can only wait for it to find her...

 
**********
 

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough was a book that seemed to be fantastic and that a lot of my friends on Goodreads ( and other readers there) love. However, now and then am I the odd one out because this book didn't do a thing for me. I kept on expecting for the moment to show up when I would get enthralled and get sucked into the story, but it never happened.

Instead, it just dragged on, and this is not a thick book, only 144 pages long, but it felt like it took forever to get to the end. I just couldn't connect with the character nor the story. The fantasy aspect of the story was also a big failure. Instead of being mysterious and intriguing it was just odd and felt out of place. I wonder if the book and worked better if one had gotten to know the characters better if the story had been more developed. Now instead it feels like you get a quick introduction to each of the siblings, but you never really get to know them or care for them or their father.

Now, this is just my humble opinion, it's a well-loved book and perhaps it will work better for you.

 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
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review 2017-05-25 19:22
The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting - Anne Trubek  
The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting - Anne Trubek

After a slow couple of months my reading has picked up again: I'm finishing more, and I'm enjoying what I'm reading. The sad aspect of this is that I keep finishing books that I want everyone else to pick up, and mostly no one does.

This is an exception. It belongs on the odd shelf I don't have specifically, but can't resist reading from, called "History of a Thing". While it isn't funny exactly, there is a lightness of tone that makes this a pleasant break from heavier reading, like say, about Nixon and Mao, to pick a topic out of thin air and not off the cover of another book lying around the house. It's fascinating to learn at some depth about a very narrow topic. Not surprisingly, this book is a distillation of a topic Trubek has been teaching in college for years. Specialization is awesome: I've never thought about all the different kinds of writing together until now.

I love this post-book feeling of erudition. Two days after I finished the book I can't recall anything specific that I learned, which isn't really the point. I've grasped the gestalt. I've placed my own flirtation with calligraphy (highly recommended as a means to achieving a legible handwriting) into the appropriate context.

There are a number of people worried about the fact that schools aren't teaching cursive. I'm not bothered. I've done my share of handwriting and it hurts and it's slow, and I'm one of only two people I know who can write a cursive others can read. Admittedly, the time spent learning keyboarding will no doubt also become wasted time at some point in the Offspring's lives, in favor of something newer and easier for more people. That's fine.

Favorite bit: seeing all the different types of clerks/scribes/copyists there were a fairly short time ago. Poor Bartleby and Bob Cratchit!

Library copy

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