December 21st, 2009

20111112, Marilee

The Snow is Still White...

... which is unusual even this soon after the snow. Some of our parking lot is snowless, and some people are back to long walks for their dogs. I commented back to a comment earlier this week that when Spirit and I got up after a nap, we saw animal footprints on the porch, and it had come to the sliding glass door to look in. The snow close to the sliding glass door has melted, but it's left sort of donut-shaped snow hills around the footprints.

I found Saturday's paper today -- the snow had melted enough on my side of the stoop (with the help of the melted snow dripping down from the stoop roof) for me to see the end of the yellow bag. It was just off the stoop.

I emailed Kaiser to see if they had the H1N1 vaccine, because I hadn't heard anything, and my doctor's nurse called back and said they had it today and I should come in, but I repeated that I probably can't get out for a week or so. He said to call the day I can come in because some days they have it, some days they don't.

The WashPost has a tech guy who answers questions in a column on Sundays, and yesterday he answered one about how to use an iPhone in the winter. Turns out the screen requires your touch to conduct electricity, so you either don't wear gloves, wear gloves which have tips that can be pulled off, or wear gloves that are made to conduct electricity from your fingers. Since even during the summer my hands are too dry to conduct electricity, it's a good thing I don't want an iPhone.
20111112, Marilee

Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds

I was confused by the beginning of this. There were several elements that were very close to the Revelation Space semi-series: habitats around a planet, baseline humans versus genetically/nano changed humans, a disaster on the planet, etc. But the planet is Earth in 2266 and the plot is different. I don't know if he just decided to use those parts and try again or what.

There are some current elements, too, like people being harassed when they cross borders, and the president of France allowing, encouraging even, young black-clad jackbooted men to kill minorities.

The book starts in 1959 with a death and our first protagonist, Wendell Floyd, getting the case from her landlord. The police think she jumped off her balcony. Then we move to the frozen Earth of 2266 where Verity Augur is trying to get an artifact from before the Nanocaust. We move back and forth between our Earth and Earth 2 through most of the book.

It turns out that the woman who was killed in E2 was sending archeological materials back to Earth via a hyperweb -- a wide range of interspace tunnels that were created by someone/thing many centuries back and that we don't really know as much about as we should. Earth sends Augur to E2 to pick up some of the artifacts that they think are important, but the landlord is then killed, too. Floyd thinks Augur is a spy, but is also trying to figure out what she's a spy for, and ends up going to Earth in the last use of that tunnel. While they're in the tunnel, she tells Floyd, for many pages, what the Nanocaust was.

They find that the baseline humans (Threshers) and the aggressive portion of the changed humans (Slashers) are fighting a war both on Earth and in space, and that one of the aggressive Slashers wants to use Silver Rain (a nanovirus that kills everybody) on E2 to clear it of people and then take it over themselves. Floyd and Augur work with some moderate Slashers to try to keep the Silver Rain from being delivered.

The source for the address of E2 is something I figured out right away, but isn't figured out by Floyd until near the end of the book. I always wonder if the authors put something like that in to make me feel smarter.

After I was over the confusion about the shared elements, I liked the book, but found it pretty predictable. I'm going to take a break from the Reynolds books and reread Hogfather next.