December 24th, 2010

20111112, Marilee

No Meds for Spirit Yet


Last night I watched one of my favorite non-musical movies -- The Last Starfighter -- and then read the paper. I was to bed to read at 12:30am and finished the book at 3:30am. I'm surprised I read it in two nights. I turned the alarm off and slept until 1:30pm when Junie yelled in my ear. After the cats had breakfast and I had my BP check, I went to get yesterday's mail. The mail guy had come really late last night and I assumed today's would come late, too. There were only two DVDs and my meds in the box. About 20 minutes later, while I was loading the dishwasher, the mail truck showed up at the batch of clusterboxes before mine. I went back, but only had a bill from the WashPost -- the credit union shows the payment as processed on 12/14. I sent the agent another email. So I still don't have the meds the vet mailed on Monday.

The Chinese are starting to have lots of plastic surgery. The problem is that a lot of it is done by unlicensed, untrained people and the patients need fixes. And then more fixes.

The WashPost has a craft column in the Local Living every six weeks or so, and they tend to be elementary-type work. I was expecting something like that from their holiday crafts, but they're not that bad. The winner -- needle-felted trees with ornaments -- is very nice.
20111112, Marilee

Ship of Fools by Richard Paul Russo


This took me only two nights to read, probably because there's no obvious errors and the writing is very smooth.

Bartolomeo, a man who was born with defects, is the one who helps a lot of things happen, and is the right hand of the captain. They're in a giant ship named Argonos that has existed for an amazingly long time and in the process has divided into a class system noted by decks on the ship. The Bishop also has a lot of influence.

They get a signal and follow it to what appears to be a livable planet. The Bishop names it Antioch. Most of the town looks fine, but a small exploring team, including Bartolomeo, find a basement with thousands of human skeletons, from adults to infants, attached to the walls. They come back to the ship and as the underclasses find out it's a habitable planet, but not about the skeletons, they try to get off the ship and colonize Antioch. Bartolomeo decides to help them, but as their first shuttle is ready to launch, big harvester ships come up to block the bay.

Bartolomeo and the other leaders are jailed. It's not bad and eventually he's released and taken to his quarters by soldiers. It turns out that they're near a giant ship. A giant alien ship. And how did they get there? The signal on Antioch changed as Argonos started to leave orbit; Argonos followed the signal.

Bartolomeo was taken out of jail because a number of the folks who have explored the alien ship have died. So far, because they're not careful enough and don't check things before they move. He talks the executive board into letting him take a group of explorers and check the alien ship. They don't have any permanent damages but some teams have to be remade.

Then Bartolomeo's trio went into an area where there was an elderly woman. She attacked him and his teammates come to help. They call for help and get her sedated and into an isolation room on Argonos. A psychologist spends time with her. Eventually she speaks English and says she's from Antioch and the people in the alien ship saved her and others.

Since part of the executive board thinks they should stay and explore the ship more -- there may be more people to rescue -- and part think they should just go on, they compromise and dock the alien ship to the front of Argonos. A young boy that Bartolomeo knows disappears to check the ship himself. When Bartolomeo gets there and finds him, the boy is in despair. He's gone into a room that the last team didn't go through because of the old woman. He sends Bartolomeo in and Bartolomeo finds exactly the same setup of human skeletons tacked to the walls.

This is where he wonders why the "old woman" knew they had named the planet Antioch*. He has the med staff get the psych out of the room and try to sedate the "old woman." She changes into a clawed differently-shaped being every so often but tries to stay looking human. When they get her sedated, she's put into a coffin which is welded shut and launched into space.

So now they know they have to get away from the alien ship, but it won't let them undock in any way. They even try to blow off parts of Argonos but the explosives won't go. The captain tries their weapons against the ship and those don't work. The executive board decides that they'll have to get as many of the folks in the ship back to Antioch and they set up shuttles and the harvesters to follow a plan and go. The captain and others decide to stay with the ship, some because they can't bear to leave, some because they don't believe it will be a problem, etc. The captain plans to take their ship and the docked alien ship into a jump across space. When the alien ship realizes that, it tries to get loose, but can't. The last harvester, which has Bartolomeo in it, is close enough to be slightly shoved by the jump and to see space twist and then come back with no ships.

The shuttles and harvesters will take four months to get to Antioch and they're all full of people. The people argue, fight, steal, etc., but it looks like only one shuttle was lost.

*I knew she couldn't be human the instant she said "Antioch," and I'm sure there were smart people there, too. This gives them more time to have trouble.

I liked it: there's a lot of relationships of all types that I've skipped typing about as well as the structure of the ships.