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I devoted a bunch of my August leisure to video games, so I haven't been reading as much as I might have. No doubt this trend will continue for different reasons as I fall on into a morass of schoolwork.
Gene Wolfe, The Claw of the Conciliator
Gene Wolfe, The Sword of the Lictor
Gene Wolfe, The Citadel of the Autarch
Sean Stewart, Resurrection Man
School began Tuesday and continues; today I had my first class that wasn't that class' initial introduction. (For Social and Political Philosophy; we watched a video on the Milgram experiments with the shocking.) The campus is much busier and yet somehow more organized than it was in the summer; somehow the effect of the vast tides of people surging between buildings past signs and booths and shouting isn't anarchic, but fractal, every piece of it presumably making cheerful sense if you look closer. On the first day, there were people with shirts saying 'I am UBC' holding signs and leading around huddled groups of first-year students; the signs apparently just had to be distinctive, and I saw a lot of people with seemingly random words: "Somatic", "Endemic", "Bourgeoi$". I also saw five or six different people I knew from Langara, which was unexpected and heartening, as all the Langara people I'd kept in touch with have stayed there (hi, Marilee and Allison); most notably, Goldie, from my introductory Metaphysics class in 2006, is in the Social and Political class, and we hung out for some time measured in hours afterward.

The main things going on in my home are preparations for my sister to move out (for, yes, the second time); this time she is going to Fort St. John, which is considerably farther away as well as being, by my family's standards, almost bewilderingly small and inconveniently located as technical cities go. ("It's not that it's in the middle of nowhere; it's just that it's nowhere near anywhere else.") She is going there because she has been offered a job at their local newspaper, the Alaska Highway News, which suits her very well on account of how she's a newspaper reporter with an adventurous streak. So there has been a lot of putting things in boxes, and we bought a new car (a startling shade of red; so far my mother won't let anyone else touch it or get inside) because Tess is getting the old Volvo, and attitudes are generally a harried sort of excited.

I am playing in Rachel's online AD&D campaign on Saturdays. I rolled somebody who could have been a paladin even if we were playing 2nd edition*, so a paladin is what I'm playing, which is neat because I've always kind of wanted to try it. It's very different from being the wizard I played last campaign, who was always making pragmatic moral compromises; that was fun and interesting not least because of the way it often made me the player kind of uncomfortable, but it's a very different sort of gratifying to play someone who speaks up when something seems wrong, and won't kill someone who isn't facing him with a sword in his hand and won't allow the torture of prisoners, etc.

(* We're playing 3.5, which I seem to be getting used to; I still think they made some unfortunate decisions in the Player's Handbook, and that a lot of the character classes feel less special than they used to, but some 2nd edition rules are starting to have the same startling quaintness for me that 1st edition does. It's a little bit sad.)

The sun is starting to learn again to be comfortable. I always liked autumn and spring the best.

Date: 2007-09-06 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've read Sean Stewart's A Perfect Circle and loved it--is Resurrection Man good too?

Also, had you read the New Sun books before? I read them for the first time a couple of years ago and haven't quite figured out what to think yet, except my mouth is still hanging open.

Date: 2007-09-25 09:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Clearly, I can't figure out what to think either. I keep starting to try to work out how to describe my experience of the New Sun books, and I get bogged down because there's so much stuff there. I loved the prose, and I appreciated the deft use (and in many cases subversion) of various SF tropes, and I was fascinated by the unreliable narration and the games with identity and such. It was really readable for something so intricate and so dense with ideas. I guess the best summary is that I liked its audacity.

I haven't read A Perfect Circle, but Resurrection Man is excellent; I think it may be my favourite of Stewart's that I've read (I've also been through Nobody's Son and Night Watch, which were also excellent) but it may just be the most recent. Although it shapes itself like a fantasy quest novel, the real heart of it seems to be in the examination of family relationships, and how difficult and fraught it can be to try to bring about healing in that tangled context. On the other hand, although that topic and to a certain extent the treatment would make this traditional, it's not 'magical realism' in the usual sense, where the primary function of the numinous elements is to function as a metaphor for the mundane; the magic does work as metaphor, but it's pervasive and carefully worked out and integral to the plot (and scary!), which is how I like my magic. This is one of those books that is probably going to be quietly influencing my thinking for a long time.

-Andy H.

Date: 2007-09-06 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Remember how yesterday I was trying to find information about a particular subject, but I couldn't find it anywhere? I wish I had made more of a point of asking you if you knew what it was, because it was totally the Milgram experiment.

Oh well, I can read about it now!

PS. You make an awesome paladin.

Date: 2007-09-12 06:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If it's any consolation, it's possible that I wouldn't have remembered his name before watching that video. X)

Also, thanks.

-Andy H.

Date: 2007-09-07 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey your face is unexpected and heartening.

Yeah, the people out in front of Koerner had signs like "Browning" and "Thackeray" and "Roosevelt" for some reason. There was a special group of students in front of the Math Annex with signs like "Abscissa" and "Polynomial". What, first year students aren't supposed to already be specialized, but whatever, whee.

They were given a gigantic tour that lasted the entire day!

Today I had class for four consecutive hours and thirty consecutive minutes, or however to say that? My topology class, which is awesome, is also a magic expanding class and can with very little warning go from 11:00-1:00 at the whim of the instructor. Last class all eleven students came but this class there were only five or six. What's up, grad students? Don't you want to know what a connected sum of two connected 2-manifolds is? Do you already know all this stuff?

Date: 2007-09-12 06:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You and your advanced and capricious courses! Did you take the gigantic tour? You're sort of a first year student...

Here's some stuff I'll say to you here because this happens to be where I'm typing you a comment. How was the end of the Singer thing? Were there any especially interesting questions after I left?

Also, Richard Kobelt has expressed interest in hosting wifl; he apparently has the resources and would not charge us money.

-Andy H.

Date: 2007-09-07 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
(out of curiousity, what games did you play? any RPGs? I still need to finish FFXII.. sigh. Am replaying FFT instead. ^^)

Ahh yes, ImagineUBC... fun times. I always enjoyed the first day of school at UBC - so much energy! I love seeing all the people milling around, especially at the little fair they have around Koerner Square and Main Library. The little groups are called MUGs, I believe, since their leaders are called "MUG Leaders". They split you up into groups of 5-10 based on your faculty and even based on what classes you're taking, I think, and give you an introduction/tour to the university and your classes. Each group is given a name usually based on a famous person or idea or book or whatever from that subject, hence all the crazy signs... heh. Anyway, good times. It was nice for me since I was in Arts One, so the others in my group all were in my Arts One group too and I got to know them a bit that first day.

Anyway, glad you're enjoying your first few days at UBC! The campus really is energized and busy, especially at the start of the year. There's a lot of orientation events and shit on the first week to check out, as I recall.

Course, within a few weeks you want to kill yourself as the work builds up and midterms approach, but whatever. XD Beginning of a year is nice, anyway. Rather odd not to be experiencing it for the first time in ages, and at the same time... not as odd as I thought. It's just another week for me, off to work each day to deal with people's finances, wee. o.o Back to school in January, though - we should try to hook up for lunch one day.

Date: 2007-09-12 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've been flitting between things a lot. I replayed the first half of FF8, and then most of the first XenoSaga (it really doesn't live up to Xenogears, does it? Despite the better translation), and a bit of Disgaea, and the beginning of FFX, and then a bunch of Dark Cloud 2 (one of the games I keep sinking briefly into for the gameplay but am eventually ejected from by the terrible writing), and then for the past few weeks I've been on a Bioware kick and so on the computer instead of the PS2. I actually still don't have FFXII, alas.

Your explanation of the signs makes so much sense of them but I'm actually a little disappointed. X)

We should indeed definitely get together in the spring.

-Andy H.

Date: 2007-09-12 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I own the first Xenosaga and played about half, but didn't really get into it... it was okay, but not on the level of Xenogears (ahh, memories... all those hours we spent taking turns playing in my bedroom. ^_^) And ooh, Disgaea - awesome awesome game. I keep wanting to pick up Disgaea 2, but can't really justify the expense and anyway I have waaay too many unplayed/unfinished games sitting around (FFXII, DQVIII, KH, Shadow Hearts 3, Phantom Brave (by the same guys that did Disgaea, but evidently not as good), Katamari Damacy (crackiest game ever), and various others... urgh.) FFXII is pretty fun, but the storyline is lacking imo. The battle system is good, though.

Heh, sorry to disappoint. ;p What were you hoping for?

Yeah. I'll be out there on Tues/Thurs, assuming all goes well and I get into my courses *crosses fingers*. And I'll be in N Van Wednesday. Then back up to the island Fri-Monday to work part time at the credit union. You guys still doing any sort of TV night, or will you be doing so in January? I'll be around Monday night, if you are... wouldn't mind coming along, depending on what you're watching. :) (I say you should watch Farscape, myself, if you haven't done so already and I think you said that you haven't).


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Andy H.

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