January 24th, 2004


Hominids, by Robert J. Sawyer

Also read Robert J. Sawyer's book, Hominids. This novel won the Hugo for best science fiction novel recently. Don't be fooled. The Hugo's are voted on by anyone who wants to be a member of a world science fiction convention. Essentially the science fiction writing public. And they follow Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap. They certainly did with this book. It's crap.

Here's why. Nothing happens. Here's the basic plot. A portal opens between a world wherein Neanderthals became the dominant human species and our world. Ponter Boddit a physicist, is sucked through. We don't really know what to do with him. Meanwhile, back on the other side, Ponter's partner is prosecuted for the murder of Ponter because he's now missing. Sounds exciting, right? Wrong.

This book is Sawyer's attempt to create the perfect society. In the book, all the characters ever do is sit around and discuss the differences between human society which is all fucked up, and Neanderthal society, where everything is perfect. It's an exercise in world-building. Numerous sf writers have done that, and sometimes it's interesting. This time it's not. It's not because the world is too perfect. Almost nothing ever goes wrong in Neanderthal society. Boring. The method of revealing the alternate world is boring. Sitting around talking all the time? Sure, that's realistic. That's pretty much how most people learn about new things. But a book should be interesting. It also has the standard crap about how we're likely to mistreat the first Neanderthal/alien/person not like us as soon as we see him. Possibly true. But again, something that's already been explored way too many times.

In the end, it seems like Sawyer has little new to say. There's no real new take on any issue in the book. Sf is great for exploring issues without indicting people. (Ask me if you want an explanation of that.) And it has a sucky plot and characters. Without one or the other, the book just falls flat.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

My faith in musicals is restored. I admit, I didn't really have much to begin with. Wizard of Oz lessened it. That was only a mediocre show at best. This one was good. Much better cast and acted. And no stupid things like the rag tornado. I laughed quite a bit. The songs were quite enjoyable too.


Businesses that lose your business

Current threads of the week on the crack bored are all about businesses that lose people's businesses. People putting up tales of woe about how they've been mistreated. Sad to say I actually posted in that thread, though not as a tale of woe and how I done been treated wrong.

Fucking bunch of whiners. (And now I whine about the whiners, isn't that special?) Christ almighty people. If so many businesses treat you like crap, perhaps it's not the businesses, but instead it's you. Sure, there are times when a place does something wrong.

You know why I think it is? Some people are inherently difficult, and people's response to difficult people is to get more difficult themselves. I'm not difficult. So it's rare that businesses treat me like crap. And I don't often get people who are rude to me. It's happened only once, and that was with Washington Mutual and the proximate cause of the problem wasn't the people, but poor customer tracking and record-keeping systems. And the people on the phone only got rude with me when I started yelling at them over the phone in frustration.

Generally, I'm not difficult though. I tend to get treated very nicely. Alaska Airlines delivered my luggage to me when their policy said they didn't need to. Ticketmaster replaced my stolen R.E.M. general admission tickets for only a nominal $5 fee when I would have been happy paying for the tickets again, they were just sold out. I get good service generally.

I don't think it's completely random that I do.


Lemon Meringue

I've been trying to make a lemon meringue pie for Andrew and Rebecca's pie night. I've fucked it up beyond repair twice and now officially giving up. On to the pumpkin.

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