British Ice by Owen D. Pomery. The sins of empire in microcosm. Masterfully done. Set in an arctic wasteland, yet manages to be visually engaging on every page.
I’ve been thinking about weblogs a lot lately. Not sure why. I’ve had mine for quite a while now. Originally, blogs or “web logs” were a way to keep notes on things you saw on the web. Just lists of links, I guess. At least that’s my memory of it. In that vein, here’s a bunch of links from my recent aimless wanderings through the internet.
- I’ve gotten a lot out of Robin Sloan’s weekly newsletter, The Year of the Meteor, over the last year. (scroll down for links to all 52 of them). Every one had a link or two to something I found fascinating and something to think about. I briefly considered starting an email newsletter, but boy it seems like too much work.
- There was a time before tabbed browsing (one window for each web page, egad!) and I remember I first discovered tabs with Mozilla Firefox. (I remember a conversation where I basically tried to sell my friend on tabbed browsing–he was skeptical.) Now, there are just so many tabs. I don’t know why I’m afraid to just close them. Sometimes it’s just not being sure what to do with them, like this IMDB page for the 1978 film, Jubilee, about a time traveling Queen Elizabeth. Or this Wikipedia page on the Peter Ackroyd book, The House of Doctor Dee, which seems long out of print (maybe I’ll interlibrary loan it?). Or this Wikipedia page on an Anthony Burgess book that describes 99 20th century novels he feels are worth reading (I will almost certainly never read this and the WP page handily provides the entire list).
- Sometimes they’re things I mean to read later, like this science fiction story, “A Priest, a Rabbi, and a Robot Walk Into a Bar” by Andew Dana Hudson. I’ve never heard of the author before, but I liked the story title. Still haven’t read it! For a long time, I was using Instapaper to keep track of things I wanted to read from the web, but once I got to 500+ saved things, I sort of stalled out on it. That’s a pretty daunting queue!
- There was about a decade that I wasn’t obsessed with tabletop roleplaying games, but that decade isn’t now. The Principia Apocrypha: Principles of Old School RPGs, or, A New OSR Primer is exactly what it says on the tin. (OSR stands for “Old School Roleplaying” or sometimes “Old School Revival”.) This is a pretty good resources if you want to know what RPGs are all about. (OSR itself is pretty complex and this blog post about what the hell OSR means is pretty comprehensive.)
- I just spent an hour trying to remember the name of Dorothy Dunnett’s Game of Kings so it seemed worth writing down. Great book!
- Man of Medan seems like a pretty fascinating horror game. (This was the oldest “tab” on my phone.)
The Moonrise podcast is definitely worth a listen. Luminous and haunted.
So good. From The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.
From The Man Without Qualities
Señor Velasquez Dos de los Tressos stared at the cat lingering motionless on the windowsill, its long curved tail draping down below. The cat’s round unblinking eyes stared at de los Tressos and, with a flushing face, he averted his eyes away, deftly mopping his brow with his florid, scarlet handkerchief and quickly twirling one of his thin, outjutting mustachios. When de los Tressos looked back, the cat was gone! Vanished! The curtain drifted gently back and forth even though the window was closed. He looked frantically about the room. Ottoman, no! Scattered blankets on the chaise longue, not this time! The sideboard with the deliciously concealed sherry and amarillo, never! de los Tressos felt subtle pressure on the back of his left calf and stumbled backwards, crashing into a small round table, holding a cactus and several decks of cards, which scattered all about, jacks and queens and aces fluttering through the air.
Señor Velasquez Dos de los Tressos lay on the floor and groaned. The cat leapt onto his chest and settled there, purring, shoving its paws gently into his chest.
But though there were no formal parties, it is true that there were now two broadly opposing worldviews floating in the political ether waiting to be tapped as needed. As the crisis over the Lex Agraria revealed, it was no longer a specific issue that mattered so much as the urgent necessity to triumph over rivals. Reflecting on the recurrent civil wars of the Late Republic, Sallust said, “It is this spirit which has commonly ruined great nations, when one party desires to triumph over another by any and every means and to avenge itself on the vanquished with excessive cruelty.” Accepting defeat was no longer an option.
The Storm Before the Storm