Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quotes, Poems, Ancient Libraries and Dragon Ship

"The only bookshop I haven't fallen in love with is one I haven't
visited yet."

--Wendy Grisham, v-p and publisher of Hachette imprint Jericho Books,
speaking at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show
recently in Naples, Fla.

Though I am not a fan of tattoos, and could never have one myself, these are some amazing tats that relate to libraries:
Mental Floss showcased "11 amazing librarian tattoos
http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz14507528," noting that there
"are plenty of literary tattoos out there, and plenty of tattooed
librarians. A bit less common are librarians with tattoos celebrating
their career choice."

This is a great review from Shelf Awareness about a new book of poetry by one of my favorite Science Fiction authors, the marvelous Ursula K LeGuin:
Review: Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems, 1960-2010

Ursula K. Le Guin is known as the Hugo- and Nebula-winning author of
science fiction and fantasy novels like The Left Hand of Darkness, The
Lathe of Heaven and the ambitious Earthsea series. She has also been
writing and publishing poetry--11 books and chapbooks since the 1960s,
which she draws upon for the retrospective Finding My Elegy. The
wistful, pensive title is taken from one of several new poems that also
appear in the collection, in which she tells us "my search" for an elegy
"must be a watch,/ patiently sitting, looking out the open door."

The titles of many poems invoke the Pacific Northwest landscape Le Guin
has grown to love: the Columbia River, Mount Rainier, the Coast Range
Highway, Cannon Beach, Clackamas and on and on. She also writes of her
love for the old poets--Virgil, Dante, Lucretius, Shelley, Hugo. In "She
Remembers the Famous Poets," she writes: "Now I am old and grey and sit
alone beside my fire,/ I think of lovely boys I knew when I was young
and fair." And in the witty "Heroic Couplet," we find: "In adolescent
tides of fear and hope, / I prized the canny certainties of Pope;/ when
all I did seemed wrong, it was delight/ to hear him say, Whatever is, is

There are a number of gems in this collection, including "The Queen of
Spain, Grown Old and Mad, Writes to the Daughter She Imagines She Had by
Christopher Columbus," "The Elders at the Falls," "For the New House"
and the just about perfect short poem, "Pelicans," with its wistful echo
of Hopkins:

They're awkward, angular, abstruse,
the great beak on a head so narrow,
a kind of weird Jurassic goose
lurching into the modern era.
But the blue arc of sky lets loose--
look, now!--the brown, unerring arrow!
And see how beautiful, how grave,
the steady wings along the wave.

The only thing missing from this superb collection is a few of Le Guin's
translations of poets like Lao Tzu and Gabriela Mistral, the first (and
only) Latin American woman poet to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Le
Guin has written, "It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it
is the journey that matters in the end." The poems in Finding My Elegy
help chart her journey. --Tom Lavoie

I would love to have about 7 of these really awesome bookcases. In fact, the one that looks like a tree would look great in my living room!

I was actually in one of these ancient libraries, the Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and it was one of the most holy experiences of my life. The smell alone, of all those ancient volumes, sent me into a rapture of exstacy. I could have remained in that room for days, just looking at books that are older than the country I was born in. What I wouldn't give to visit the Vatican Library! Oh dear God! Imagine the treasures on those shelves!
Noting that older libraries "seem to hum with wisdom through that black
and white film--and we bet the old-book smell is just to die for,"
Flavorwire showcased "vintage photographs from inside 10 famous
libraries http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz14515147

Dragon Ship is the third book in the Theo Waitley series of Liaden Universe novels by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I am a huge fan of all of Sharon and Steve's work, and I eagerly await each new novel, though I have to buy them in hardback (which is spendy) when they first come out in order to assuage my curiosity about what's next for our intrepid young Theo, who is half-Liaden (her father is Daav, former delm of Korval).
Dragon Ship continues where Ghost Ship left off, with Theo going out to explore a new trade route in space for Shan and Val Con in her ship, the ancient machine Bechimo, replete with an AI brain and an AI crewmate that interacts with the crew via vid screen named Joyita. Theo is headstrong and gets into some scrapes, but shows her true colors when she responds to a pilot-in-distress call and helps save a whole group of people from destruction. Meanwhile, Kamele, her mother, seeks Jen Sar, her mate with whom she made Theo, and journeys to Surebleak to try and find him, not knowing that this aspect of his personality has been put aside in favor of Daav, who is extremely ill and is being 'repaired' by a special autodoc system that is with "Uncle" a shadowy character who has control of a great many things behind the scenes. Win Ton, Theo's boyfriend, is also under repair aboard Bechimo, and he has to be totally repaired by his DNA specs, after having spent some time in Uncle's medical machines that only healed him part way.  Clarence, a former Juntavas and Kara, Theo's former room mate and apparently former lover, also come along for the ride, with Norbears and weapons and ships and politics and oh, my, everything else one could ever want in a space opera/adventure! I must say that this book surprised me, especially in outing Theo as a bisexual young woman who feels comfortable bedding down with her old friend Kara while her boyfriend and lover is being healed in a special autodoc on the ship. But that is just one more facet to this already fascinating character. Now that she's bonded to the ship as captain, I can't wait to see what will happen with clan and crew when she returns to Surebleak and has a chat with her half-brother Val Con and his lifemate Miri. Though the language of their novels is often complex and detailed, it is always worth it to read more about the marvelous characters that inhabit the Liaden Universe. A solid A, for this book and a strong hope for the sequel next year.

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