Tag Archive: love

I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Over the weekend, I received over $600 in donations for the Tough Mudder’s Fight Against Blindness. I want to share the names of my new friends, who have so generously given.

As time is winding down more and more people are coming forward to support my cause, and I want to thank you all, right now, before I go and bonk my head and forget my own name. As kick off gets closer I am getting increasingly stoked to go play in the mud.  Of course, more and more people are encouraging me to get psychiatric help… but I think it’s too late to sign up for that.

To my friends who have been so generous to me:

  • Rebecca Vanslyke
  • Dusan Lazarov
  • Deirdre Whann
  • Lara Gund
  • Christine McManus
  • Jeremiah Shaw
  • Scott LeBlanc (and the Scabannah band!)
  • Jonathan Roberge


(PS: I know this is short, but it’s definitely sweet for me to say thank you again to everyone supporting me, praying for me, and laughing yourselves silly with me.  It’s almost time to get on the plane.)


Halfway Home — Hugh Howey

51+TigdtjhL._BO2,204,203,200_PI35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_In the interest of full disclosure: I virtually know Hugh Howey; to be exact, I know Hugh Howey virtually.  That has nothing to do with my thoughts about this novel.

I am well behind the power curve with my reading friends because I have been delaying reading Half Way Home until such time that I could really enjoy it.  Having cleared my slate, and knowing I’d be able to read it through in one sitting (no, it’s not that short, it’s just that good) if necessary, I cracked it open, on my kindle on the way to work, yesterday.  I finished it on my way home tonight.

This is a brilliant story. All the things I look for in a tale are in there.  There’s hard science, star travel, pathos, conflict, death and loss, but most importantly the will and drive to overcome obstacles of nature and man, and to survive in a hostile environment.  There’s also an artificial intelligence, a madman at the helm, love and desire and the loneliness of leadership.

Colonists are thrown into space landing on some predetermined planet with the sole mission of enriching the company/country that sent them.  “All for the glory of the colony” has been imprinted on each colonist as they have been trained by the AI that guides their journey.  Except that something goes wrong.  Horribly wrong.  In the end, only a tenth of the colonists remain, and the AI (referred to as Colony) keeps secrets about what they are now expected to do.

There are even more secrets and it falls to the colony psychologist to work out what Colony intends. Porter must shoulder a burden of leadership he does not want and one which seems almost overwhelming, but a burden that can not truly fall to anyone else.  All around him he sees couples forming and finds he truly is alone among the 53 remaining colonists.

You really must read this novel if you consider yourself a science fiction aficionado.  This has elements of the space operas of the early sixties, and the subtle complexities of more recent efforts to define star travel in fiction.  With technology becoming ever more capable of sending humans to another sun and another planet, it is increasingly difficult to write scientifically plausible plots.  We already know what WON’T work, and defining what does work in fiction has many pitfalls.  This is true particularly in a genre that is read by a more technically minded audience.

Howey has avoided these by leaving the science to the AI, and leaving the dealing with technology to the humans. This leaves him free to work the natural surroundings of a planet that may or may not be hostile.  It also leaves him to work in detail with the intricate workings of man as an individual, as a member of a tribe and as cog in the larger wheel of a social construct.

His character development is in tune with his characters’ developing. This may sound tautological, but in fact, the characters have to discover themselves and what they are made of after the initial tragedy, and each internal journey is worked out even as the character works it out with others. It is subtle and complex, and Howey pulls it off to perfection.

The story line is well considered, and has the right amount of unexpected events that the reader isn’t waiting for what’s next, and can’t predict what’s coming.  This is listed as YA in some places, but I would argue that it’s an adult novel that young adults would find accessible.

If you’ve read this and you haven’t read Wool, go there. Do that.

The Concent of Saunt Edhar

Anathem — Neal Stephenson
Part I 
I know.  I know how very hard it is to get past the first 150 pages of Anathem. All these new words, this new social construct. To be fair to NS, he tells a much better story than he does explaining its machinations.


Disclaimer: I am about to put words in NS’s mouth, figuratively if not literally. I read his forward; I followed some of the descriptions of the bases of the novel.  At first, I didn’t really understand what he was trying to explain. Then I got past the hard part, and it suddenly made sense.


This is a strange and foreign world. Yet, it’s somehow very familiar. The words don’t make sense, but taken in context they are easy to follow. For example: we have cars, sedans, coupes, wagons, vans, SUVs, trucks, coaches, hatchbacks, why not mobes, fetches and drummons? We have cloisters and convents, why not mynsters and concents? and really once you see that a speely-captor is nothing more than an iPad or videocam (and he has the decency to explain how the word speely came to be) and a jeejah is a smart phone (blah-blah would have been a little too easy), the rest is relatively simple.


Listen to the words while you’re reading; read it in context, it will come to you. This is just a dialect of our language. The object is to give you a sense, of the distance, the foreignness of this place and these people. They are not us. But they ARE as human as we are.   Consider this an immersion course in all things Arbre. I believe this is NS’s purpose.  You will, if you are patient, hit the point when it comes together and you are too busy paying attention to what is going on to worry about whether you know your apse from your nave.


The second hang up for many is the math involved.  Let it go.  It doesn’t really matter who is the equivalent of Pythagoras (Adrakhones), or Gauss, Euclid, Poincare or Hilbert. More than likely, you either already know who is who, or it doesn’t much matter. Let the math be a form of religion, follow as much of it as you want and let the rest wash over you. The avout are no different than kids who go to MIT, RPI or Caltech. They are different from the rest of us; they live in their own little world with their own rituals, rites, culture and slang.


This is all about getting your head into a world that is not this world and a culture that is not this culture. But no matter how strange and foreign the circumstances might seem, at the base, things are essentially the same. Math is still math and geometry is still geometry. There is the line, the plane and the circle and all things derive from that. There is addition and subtraction and everything else follows (except maybe imaginary numbers, but I don’t remember them coming up.)


For the avout, the world ends at the walls of the math. There is nothing but the order and the theory. All that is outside (extramuros) is a strange and dangerous thing to be worried over and avoided. Within, there exists all things that make the world make sense. The clock that regulates the day, the week, the year, the century. The proofs that regulate the earth and sky and the stars beyond. All of these things can be made sense of.


That is, until Apert.