E is for Ecology in Books

Webster defines ecology as:

1: a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments

2: the totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment

3: human ecology

4: environment, climate <the moral ecology>; also : an often delicate or intricate system or complex <the ecology of language>

World-building is one of my favorite parts of reading and some authors spend a lot of time on it. They build elaborate worlds, specify plants and animals, how they are all interrelated. Lots of times they focus on definition number two: he totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment

Or at least it feels like some writers spend a lot of time on the ecology. Maybe they don’t; maybe they are just winging and it’s hard to tell.

I loved the creatures in a lot of the books I read as a teenager and how they were all interrelated. It was one of the things that drew me to the books (really, to science fiction and fantasy) in the first place.

They include the Pern books. It has the little dragons that people used to engineer the big dragons, and the seafood they eat, the crevices where they lay their eggs, the oil from the sea birds she used to moisturize their skin. It all fit so wonderfully together. I loved it.

It’s one of the little details I love in books, how all the creatures relate to each other. Weather they use other or use the remains in some odd way or something else. It is still one of the things that I look forward to in books.

And, yeah, lots of times I am disappointed, but looking for that magic is one of the reasons why I keep looking for new books.

 

Teaser Tuesday: The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser (this is one sentence):

Whether we listen with aloof amusement to the dreamlike mumbo jumbo of some red-eyed witch doctor of the Congo, or read with cultivated rapture thin translations from the sonnets of the mystic Lao-tse; now and again crack the hard nutshell of an argument of Aquinas, or catch suddenly the shining meaning of a bizarre Eskimo fairy tale: it will be always the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find, together with a challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told.

– The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Teaser Tuesday: The Color Purple

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

Maybe he figure he start thinking bout things he shouldn’t. But what bout me? First time I got the full sight of Shug Avery long black body with it black plum nipples, look like her mouth, I thought I had turned into a man.

– The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Smart Watch

 

All this talk about the Apple Watch has me wondering: what, exactly, would I use a smart watch for?

The smart watch – almost all smart watches, from Pebble to the Apple Watch – is advertised as a second screen for the phone, and to keep better track of your health. You can use it to check notifications, to check and respond to messages, to keep track of health related items. Instead of pulling out your phone, you just glance at your wrist.

But why, I wonder, does a smartphone need a second screen? Using it to keep track of your heartbeat and footsteps and all is a rather admirable, very useful purpose of the smartphone. I imaging apps that hug your bare skin will work better than ones that follow along behind me, inside my purse.

But for the rest – why not just take your phone out? If it’s so annoying, turn off your notifications or check them later. OK, so, using your watch to check your messages is less obvious than using your phone to do so. Even so.

Manners + Health = Not A Convincing Reason.

I don’t get it. If it’s cheap and a long battery life (like a week!), maybe it would be worth it. The Pebble’s color e-ink screen is supposed to last a long time and is relatively cheap. And you’re not going to watching videos or look at pictures on such a little screen, so an e-ink screen is fine.

Even so. I cannot quite picture myself using it. I surely cannot picture myself using one of the Pebble’s more expensive cousins. (Even if it looks a lot like a watch, like the Moto 360.)

A part of me is thinking that the smart watch could be the main phone – the thing you buy from the carrier, the thing you put the sim card in. And the smartphone/phablet/tablet could be tethered to it, so you get data on the go. So the watch would be more like one of the feature phones from the last decade.

But I don’t know if that would work, or even if the carriers would get behind the idea.

So I cannot think why I would get a smart watch. I am sure there must be some really compelling thing I can do it. I just don’t know what that could be.

(Using it like David Michael Hasselhoff used his watch in Knight Rider to give his car orders would be pretty cool.) But beyond that, what?

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Readings in Old and Middle English

While randomly browsing YouTube the other  day, I happened across this video:

It’s a reading from an associate professor at MIT, reading some lines from Beowulf in Old English. It’s quite incomprehensible to my American-English trained ears. It’s hard to believe this is what English sounded like once upon a time.

The associate professor also reads Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in Middle English and this I can understand somewhat. A little bit, if I listen closely.

It’s really amazing what English used to sound like.

The Wine-Dark Sea

I read Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher last week.

In it, he says something surprising, that the phrase “the wine-dark sea” from Homer’s epic is not poetic license (it certainly looks like poetic license to me!) but straight description. And not even description of the color of the sea – the Ancient Greeks apparently had no word for the color blue – but a description of the darkness of the sea.

And not just sheep, but oxen, too: the wine-dark oxen.

Also, Homer also apparently uses violet to describe the sea, sheep and iron.

I was really quite astonished. The idea of describing how dark a color is instead of the specific color strikes me as odd.

But if you have no word for blue – blue things being rare in nature; the color of the sky and ocean are vastly different from each other and change based on the time of day anyway and weather. With such few blue things around you, maybe you don’t need a word for blue. And how would you then describe the sea or the sky?

Teaser Tuesday: Night Blooming

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

Should be interrupt her praying?”

“If we wait for her to finish, we may be here well past nightfall, and you will not have that banquet that your cooks are preparing for you even now,” said the Priora, who knew enough about the Bishop to be certain of his evening plans. “You have musicians and jugglers at your villa, have you not?”

– Night Blooming by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Favorite Childhood Reread

I reread a favorite childhood book last book: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

And it came to me: the book was written in a 3ed person omniscient POV.

I knew, of course, that it was written in 3rd person POV. But I haven’t read it in years and I’d somehow thought it was written it 3rd person limited.

I don’t know why. Maybe I am just so used to 3rd person limited. And back when I first read it, I didn’t know the difference between 3rd person limited and 3ed person omniscient.

The difference is so striking now, such a change from the usual stuff. It wasn’t confusing at all! But it is still as good as it was when I first read it.

I quite enjoyed it.

Teaser Tuesday: American Elsewhere

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers:

Her mother was wearing a teal bathrobe and her hair was wet, and Mona remembers how embarrassed she was when he wind rose and the bottom of her mother’s bathrobe lifted up and Mona saw coarse pubic hair and realized her mother was nude under that robe, just naked as a jaybird. Her mother called for her to come, and Mona obeyed her mother knelt and whispered into Mona’s ear that she loved her, she loved her more than anything, but she couldn’t stay here, and she was so sorry.

– American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

Action Scene on Page 1

This thought occurred to me today: It’s been a while since I’ve read a book had an action scene on page 1.

The last one was probably an urban fantasy several years ago. Even that went like this: stalk, stalk, fight scene.

Is that weird? I don’t feel like it is. But I am also considering rewriting the beginning of my WiP to an action sequence and I don’t think that is weird, either.

Is there some sort of unwritten rule that says: Thou shall not begin with an action scene?

I feel like I am breaking some sort of rule by wanting to start with an action scene. Well, more like a training/sparring sort of scene, a test of sorts for the main character.

And books start all the time with tests. Still. It would be all action, complete with a chase and a sort of explosion (a weak explosion. very weak).