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August 31, 2016


Thanks for the Jemesin report; I enjoyed the first book, and was wondering whether they got better or worse.
As for the magic, is this magic magic, or Arthur C Clarke magic ?

Has anyone read Too Like the Lightning yet ?

Having read lots of classical sources in the recent past my impression is that Apollo has far too positive PR these days. Looking at the classic epics and related materials the guy is a digestive rear exit, a sadistic hypocrite, a rapist and occasional crybaby. And he is the classic go-to guy when Zeus/Iuppiter has to do some really dirty work. Athena has her occasional hissy fits but turns for the worse with Roman authors (as Minerva). But about the only one who could rival Apollo's nastiness is Aprodite/Venus. Hera/Iuno who has usually the worst press, has actually almost always good reasons for her temper tantrums (being the agrieved party in most cases) and unlike the others she extremly rarely actually kills anyone (compare the genocidal rages of Venus).

i started the first of that Thessaly series, but couldn't get through. it felt like a teenage Lisa Simpson daydream - all the smartest, most handsomest and beautiful people are there, being smart and handsome, and she gets to date the most handsomest boy and they're all very smart and they have the best teachers from history and ... gack.

I got about two thirds of the way through Too Like the Lightning, got to an important plot twist and realized I just didn't care. For me the Crooked Timber recommendations have been disappointing, except for the Iain Banks Culture series books, which are often hilarious and sometimes exciting ( though with some long boring stretches-- for instance he describes at length a massive waterfall in an artificial world. Kinda boring given a universe with superintelligent starships running around manipulating societies for their own good.)

Loved Banks' stuff, and will miss him.
Elon Musk is a fan:

I have no problem with long description. I read quite a lot of Victorian novels when younger, and developed the technique of speeding up my reading to get through the narrative light sections.


Apollo's good press is probably due to the fact that he is revered more as an idea than as a mythological person. This started rather early: Caesar Augustus made Apollo his personal patron deity, and laid heavy stress on Apollo's nature as the "Western" god of light, rationality and civilization, in contrast to Marci Antonii style of worshipping Egyptian gods and Dionysius.

Then, as ancient gods faded into allegories, Apollo was primarily the god of science and scholarship. Aesculapius and the muses are his children, so he is close to both humanists, writers and physicians. (As an engineer, I would be partial to Vulcanus, but ge is not really the role-model of a German-style Diplomingenieur. Seppo Ilmarinen of Kalevala would be closer.)

As an allegory of civilization, Apollo became the favorite god of 18th century humanists, especially in Germany and in Northern and Eastern Europe dominated by German culture. In Finland, the emblem of the Board of Matriculation Exam is a helmeted head of Apollo, and every Finnish university student carries his lyre as the cockade of their student cap.

Apollo's role as a shamanistic god of poetry, healing and trance, which makes him really primitive, really, is very seldom explored. Instead, poetry becomes literature, scholarship and science, healing becomes medicine and trance becomes wisdom and rational foresight.

I've recently read two out of Justin Cronin's trilogy that begins with The Passage.

So far: not bad, but not all that I expected it to be.

I also read "Going Clear", which was also far short of what I wanted it to be. But interesting. If you're new to the world of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, Google-search "Operation Snow White" for a bit of jaw-droppingness.

Probably not news to many readers here, but new to me.

Nigel, I miss Banks too, and mourn that there will be no more Culture novels. I'm utterly delighted that Elon Musk named some of his vessels after Culture ships!

Re Gods, and how they evolved, I think often of that Jung quote "Since we dismantled Olympus, the Gods are become symptoms."

Anyone got anything for or against Hannu Rajaniemi ?

Just finished The Twelve yesterday. I think The Passage was better, but still liked it. Now on to the last one.

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