December 20th, 2012

It's what he would have wanted, or not

Contrary to t__m__i's suggestion, I wasn't plotting some bizarre trip round Europe, I was trying to work out whether there were any places in France with trams / metro systems apart from Paris, Lille and Valenciennes that one might plausibly go on day trips to by public transport. The answer appears to be yes, kind of. One can get to and from Reims if one gets up very early (essentially the first train from Didcot Parkway). There is a TGV to Reims, well two actually to different stations, but the connections aren't as good as one might hope.
The other alternative is to drive to and from Poole and get some sort of boat to Caen - they are reasonably fast. However, it would be a long day and 'he died driving back from Poole having gone on a day trip to Cean to look at their rubber tyred trams' is not the way I want to go. Yes, rubber tyred trams, - seems the best description to me of what they are.

[ETA - the second one of these is wrong, see comments]

The weasel lies heavy

Osama Bin Laden, a novel - Lavie Tidhar

I liked this, which as you know is rare. As you know I tend to regard anything beyond a book's title as being a spoiler but I shall try to resist that and say something about it.

The echoes of The Man In The High Castle are clear and deliberate. It is set in an alternative world which is less violent than ours but also less technologically advanced. In this world Osama Bin Laden is the anti-hero of a series of pulp novels, which we know, but people in the world of the novel don't, are based on real events in our world e.g. 9/11, 7/7, the Iraq War. The hero, Joe, is an underemployed private eye living in Laos, a woman commissions him to find Mike Longshott, the author of the Osama books. Joe travels to Paris, London and New York in search of clues as to the whereabouts of Longshott. He is pursued by mysterious men in black. The end would perhaps have been a disappointment if one hadn't read The Man In The High Castle and recognised the echoes.

Although good, the tone is perhaps slightly uneven, at the beginning the differences between the world and ours are described quite subtly, it made the hairs on my neck stand on end at one point, but it becomes jokier as the book progresses.

I was also reminded on some level, tone more than anything, of There Are Doors by Gene Wolfe, which I must admit (at cost of being drummed out of police society) the only Wolfe I really liked.

[I was also reminded fairly strongly of something else, but to say what would be a spoiler]

Anyway, I commend it to you.