Picofarad #3

July 2005

Ah, high summer! Which in Portland means that we get to see the sun two or three times a week. And this year, of course, it means staring down the barrels of a Harry Potter book release, Disneyland's 50th birthday, and a Worldcon all stacked on top of each other. I'm going to try to make it to all three, and if I survive, there should be trip reports in the next issue...

The Encounter Log

Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin: I got this a while ago and had to leave it be for a time after discovering that it is possible, with a great deal of effort, to overdose on Le Guin. One of her minor works, by which I mean that it.s just good.

Helliconia Summer and Helliconia Winter by Brian Aldiss: Both as good as the first book, though definitely not for people who like nice tidy happy endings.

Dream Park and The Barsoom Project by Larry Niven and Steve Barnes: Two more books that I.ve been meaning to read since forever, finally got around to, and love, even if the latter did give me a chance to submit a quote to Thog.s Masterclass.

Medusa.s Children by Bob Shaw: Has a neat idea in the middle but it.s kind of clunky overall.

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen: A retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story with ties to World War II, supplemented by a cover that basically gives the whole plot away.

Dumarest of Terra #13: Eye of the Zodiac by E. C. Tubb: Absolutely classic adventure fiction in which the square-jawed hero travels the galaxy solving people.s problems by being the only non-idiot around, and the woman who wears pants and acts like the equal of a man inevitably turns out to be not only insane, but also an agent of the evil cyborg empire. Eugh.

The Burning Court by John Dickson Carr: I read this because of hearing that it was in disrepute for sullying the mystery genre with base supernatural elements. In retrospect, I don.t think the problem is the presence of those elements, but rather the way the author ties up the story neatly and then has to resort to telling the reader directly about them rather than having someone figure it out.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: The sort of thing that would have absolutely bowled me over when I was nine or ten. Unfortunately, comparing the contents of the book to the trailer and seeing practically no resemblance killed any desire I.d had to see the movie.

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells: You know, this is a pretty good book. Someone ought to make a movie of the story that.s actually in it sometime.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl: Read to refresh my memory for its upcoming movie, which I still think I.m going to see...

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling: Speaking of memory-refreshing, needed to have a look at these again before Half-Blood Prince comes out. Only found about a dozen things I.d missed when doing the OotP update to my Harry Potter site, but still, must do better this time.

R.O.D. the TV season 2: Still the oddest anime series I.ve ever seen, even though bringing the story to a close does force it to assemble events into a pattern that makes some sort of sense. Definitely getting the DVDs.

Gad Guard: Another anime series relayed by G4/Tech TV. An interesting spin on the mecha genre.

Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space, Robots of Death, and The Five Doctors 20th anniversary special edition: Buying tip for those planning to collect Doctor Who DVDs: the commentary gets way more entertaining and educational when it involves actors. Spearhead also has a feature which, when enabled, provides occasional subtitles giving the production locations and trivia like where Jon Pertwee got that tattoo on his arm.

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