Friday, March 30, 2012
A Kay Scarpetta novel. Pretty bad. Has Patricia Cornwell’s writing really decayed this much, or has she drafted a ghost writer for this book? I really, really liked the first books of the series, but then the quality seemed to decay. There might be a few parts of series I haven’t read before this one, but this book was almost unreadable. The plot was confused and all characters were extremely unpleasant and annoying. It is hard to say anything about the quality of writing as the translation to Finnish was the worst I have ever seen. There were about five to six translation errors on first two paragraphs alone. Horrible.
Olen lukenut kaikki alkupään Scarpetta-kirjat ja pidin niistä kovastikin. Vähitellen sekä kirjojen juoni, että käännöksien taso tuntuivat rapautuvan pahan kerran ja sarjan kirjojen lukeminen jäi. Tämän kirjan olin ostanut jostain alesta jo vuosia sitten, ja ajattelin kokeilla onko mitään muutosta tasossa tapahtunut. Kirja tai pari taitaa olla jäänyt väliin siitä mitä aikaisimmin olin lukenut. Ja muutosta oli kyllä tapahtunut: laskua romahdusmaisesti jo valmiiksi matalalta tasolta vielä alemmas. En oikein edes ymmärrä mitä on tapahtunut. Joko Patricia Cornwell on kaupannut sarjan oikeudet jollekulle nimettömälle haamukirjoittajalle, tai sitten hän on täysin kyllästynyt hahmoihinsa ja kirjoittanut tämän kirjan puhtaasti raha mielessään. Myös käännös antaa vasemmalla kädellä tehdyn vaikutelman. Itse asiassa en heti muista surkeammin käännettyä kirjaa ikinä lukeneeni. Kieli vaikutti kovin jäykältä, ja latasin Amazonin esikatselu-toiminnon kautta englanniksi ensimmäisen luvun katseltavaksi. Jo kahdessa ensimmäisessä kappaleessa oli ainakin puolenkymmentä käännösvirhettä. Kirjassa riitti myös tämän tapaisia lukiessa pahasti silmää riipovia lauseita:
”Patja ei ollut kovin iso, ja hänen kätensä ja jalkansa roikkuivat reunan yli samalla tavoin kuin hänen meloessaan käsillään aallokossa, ja sen päällä hän nukkui olohuoneessa äidin nukuessa (sic) makuuhuoneessa lukitun oven takana. ”
Myös lääketieteellisissä termeissä oli virheitä. Olisi luullut että sanakirjojenkin valmistamiseen osallistunut kääntäjä tietäisi, että sudden infant death on suomeksi kätkytkuolema eikä ”äkillisesti kuollut imeväinen”. Toisaalta tässä kirjassa ei niitä lääketieteellisiä termejä juuri ole. Kirjan juoni on aika kokoon kyhätyn tuntuinen. Scarpetta on kutsuttu tutkimaan nuoren tytön kuolemaa, joitain vuosia sen jälkeen kun hän oli saanut potkut entisestä työstään. Hänen seuraajakseen on luonnollisesti palkattu täysin kykenemätön henkilö, jolla ei juuri edes ole kokemusta oikeuslääketieteestä ja Scarpetan aikaisemmin viimeisen päälle johtama tutkimuslaitos on joutunut hunningolle. Kun teinitytön kuoleman tutkimukset eivät edisty Scarpetta kutsutaan avustamaan. Tosin vaikka hänet on erikseen paikalle kutsuttu, kukaan ei ole erityisen innokas häntä kuitenkaan auttamaan. Samaan aikaan Scarpetan sukulaistytöllä on omat ongelmansa. Suurin osa kirjasta kuluu yleiseen murehtimiseen, ja nykyisen asioiden hoidon laadun valittamiseen. Varsinainen murhajuoni kelataan kasaan erittäin nopeasti kirjan lopussa. Ja minkä ihmeen vuoksi jokaisella osavaltion murhamiehellä on jotain henkilökohtaista juuri Scapettaa vastaan? Toinen iso ongelma on joka ikisen kirjan henkilön varsin valtava vastenmielisyys ja yleinen ärsyttävyys, Scarpetta itse mukaan lukien. Kokonaisuutena arvioiden tämä on kyllä yksi surkeimmista kirjoista joita viime vuosina olen lukenut. Kaikki tasot – henkilökuvaus, juoni, kirjallinen laatu ja etenkin käännös pettivät pahasti. Kirja on kyllä mitä selkeimmin sekä kirjoitettu että käännetty vain taloudellisista syistä.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
A fairly average issue.
Magic's Price • novella by Bud Sparhawk
A remote farming village is visited my "magicians" who are able to use ancient machines which are found on many farms. Nearby one farm is a strange tower and the magicians want to examine it. A young boy who lives on the farm has always been interested in all sorts of machines, and he is enthralled by the visitors. However, the villagers are very suspicious and are very afraid of all sorts of magic. Everything won't go well...A pretty good story which was well written. The plot was fairly standard but writing was very good. ****-
The Milk of Human Kindness • shortstory by Brian Stableford
It is possible to enhance children with special milks which are able to modify behavior. Parents of a child argue if they are going to modify their child or not. A shortish piece which didn't really grasp me. ***-
Out of the Fire • [Common Universe] • shortstory by Pauline Ashwell
A volcanologist who is examining a volcano which is just about to erupt is rescued by the visitors from the future and drafter for a new job. And that’s about all the plot there is. This might be a beginning of a story, but as such it seemed too short. ***
Wet • [Harrison Chuff and Florenzia Higgins] • novelette by J. Brian Clarke
A tale of an unidentified stealthy alien invasion, which is apparently prevented by unidentified stealthy alien protectors. Not too interesting story which is told as a tale. ***-
One For the Road • shortstory by David Phalen
A man discusses in a bar with a woman about the nature of time. The woman seems to have something in her sleeve – is she the God? I really didn’t get the point of the story. A fairly longwinded discussion story. **½
Creative Destruction • [InterstellarNet] • novelette by Edward M. Lerner
A female friend of a man, who works for a giant company dealing with the sale and distribution of alien technology, is killed in an accident. For some reason she has made him the curator of her will. Later he also receives a time delayed message from her indicating that there might be some foul play involving the company he works for. There turns out to be a wide spread plot.
A pretty good and exciting story which was a pleasure to read even thought I haven’t read all the stories based on the same background. ***½
Saturday, March 24, 2012
I read this book as a serial from Analog.
There have been several terrorist attacks against the USA. The terrorists use extremely powerful and compact bombs which utilize a new sort of technology which causes a powerful electromagnetic pulse besides the explosion. While the president is making speech he is shot to the back. During his lifesaving operation, the White House is blown away. The EMP pulse that explosion causes affects somehow a memory experiment which is ongoing just on the floor above from the operating room where president’s surgery is taking place. Suddenly, all people who are inside a certain range start to remember each other’s life in a chain. (Person A remembers the events of person B’s life, person B remembers person C’s life, C D’s and so on). That means that someone can access the memories of the US president. Understandably that is a “slight” security risk, especially so when a major counterterrorism strike, operation Counterpunch, is due to start in just a few days. Also, the sniper who shut the president turns out to be a member of Secret Service, the very organization which should be protecting the president. That raises a possibility of a larger conspiracy behind the attack. And all this is just the setting and covers only a few dozen first pages. The main plot revolves around the memory sharing and how it affects the people who are experiencing it. The ending of the book could be said to be very removed from the beginning, and was something I wasn’t expecting after the first half of the book. The book as such was pretty readable and entertaining, but there were several problems. The characterization wasn’t always very believable, there were some problems with superfluous and clumsy exposition (for example the “president cipher”, the president “just happens” to ponder about a cipher he devised as a teen, and then the said cipher is used to pass on critical information later in the book). Also, there wasn’t even half believable reason why the assassin defected for the terrorism. Promise of virgins in afterlife isn’t a believable reason for such actions. And the details of operation Counterpunch aren’t really credible, not mention that operation of that magnitude couldn’t have been kept as a secret. As a whole, the book was entertaining fluff which was easy and fast read.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
A fantasy adventure where goblins are the ”heroes”. Heroes who tend to be cowards, be very unreliable and are always ready to knife their leader to back at the first opportunity. During the former book, Jig the Goblin found a magical artifact which befriended him with a minor god. Using his power Jig is able to heal diseases and the not infrequent wounds and fractures other goblins have. However, that doesn’t make him too popular, but he is even more unliked than before as the leader of the goblins has more than a share of distrust towards him. When the goblins hear rumors that something strange is happening on the lower layers of the dungeon, it isn’t a surprise that Jog finds himself drafted as “a volunteer” to lead the expedition to find out what is going on. Of course he gets some help: a goblin warrior who seems to be exceptionally stupid even for a goblin, and an old granny who has been taking care of the goblin nursery for years. Eventually, Jig naturally saves the day with a healthy reluctance toward battle and even with some courage.
A very fun book with the very knowing parody of the heroic fantasy genre (even self-knowing, one character has a book about being a hero, and she constantly refers to it). In my opinion this second in series was better than the first one, as it less based on fantasy gaming and more on fantasy literature. It seems that I have to get also the third one sooner or later.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Only three stories in this issue besides a serial and a long novella.
The End of Ordinary Life • novella by Daniel Hatch
A story which is situated in fairly near future Alaska. (The author has apparently never visited Alaska, as he seems to imagine that it is dark there in nighttime in July, so dark that it is possible to see northern lights. As someone who lives at the same latitude: no, it is never really dark at summertime even well below the Arctic Circle, and certainly there is so much light that it would be impossible to see any aurora for several months before and after the mid-summer night). Several female friends of a “bush-pilot” disappear during a short time. And soon he himself finds himself in an unexpected situation. There was an early promise of “aliens” at the beginning of the story, but the story turned out to be more of political science fiction than something involving extraterrestrial life. I am not sure how believable the Department of Homeland security was in a role of a SO bad boy (well considering the treatment of Peter Watts and those British tourists who were deported due to some tweets they sent before their trip to US, anything might be possible). The beginning was pretty slow and was expecting the aliens to show up until the story turned out to be, as said, political science fiction. I don’t know why the story needed the aliens as they were a major letdown. ***+
But It Won't Set You Free • shortstory by Tracy Canfield
Human first contact specialists try to examine a new planet, but they have trouble finding the real sentient species. There are cities around the planet, but they seem to by empty and gene modified animals seem to be taking care of them. They find a new species which looks promising from a sea shore, and end up anal probing it. A light first contact story where the humans are the "ufo aliens". ***½
Lobstersaurus • shortstory by Eric James Stone
A young girl who lives in a newly colonized world takes a local "tyrannosaurus rex" as a pet. The story goes where this style of story usually goes. The parents gave up far too easily, but the story was entertaining anyway. ***+
Saturday, March 3, 2012
A winner of the Finlandia award from 1995. A sort of memoir of one of the most famous poets and authors in Finland, who died in comparatively poverty in 1921. The is written as stream of consciousness style covering a few weeks before his death while he reminisces his past life. The book gives very authentic felling, it really feels like Aho himself would have a voice. But over 500 pages of narrative in this style can be somewhat heavy reading.
Finlandia palkinnon voittaja vuodelta 1995.
Romaani kertoo Juhani ahon elämästä hänen itsensä kertomana. Teoriassa kirja tapahtuu Ahon parin viimeisen elinviikon kuluessa, mutta käytännössä se kattaa Ahon lähes koko aikuiselämän, kerrottuna tajunnanvirtaisena sisäisenä monologina. Kirja kertoo Ahon äänellä hänen matkoistaan, elämästään ja ainaisesta rahapulasta, kustantajilta kärtetyistä ennakkomaksuista sekä suhteesta hänen elämänsä tärkeimpiin ihmisiin, kuten L. Onervaan. Näkökulma on subjektiivinen ja hyvin omakohtainen antaa vahvan tunnelman siitä, että kuullaan Ahon itsensä ääntä. Tapahtumiin sinällään ei paljoa paneuduta, vaan enemmän liikutaan tunneskaalan puolella. Kielellisesti kirja on hienoa jälkeä, tosin kovin raskasta luettavaa. Yli 500 sivua tajunnanvirtaa ei kevyintä nautiskeltavaa ole, ja kokonaiselämyksenä kirja jää lukemistani Finlandia-voittajista keskitason alapuolelle.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
A fairly average issue.
Wherever You May Be • novella by James E. Gunn (aka The Reluctant Witch) [as by James Gunn ]
A man who has rented a cottage on countryside to finish his dissertation about witchcraft encounters a young girl in scruffy clothing, who invites herself to live with him. She turns out to be somewhat older than she first seems, and much more beautiful than the first impression was. And she turns out to have some very special powers, and turns out to be extremely persistent if she doesn't get what she wants. When angry she has almost limitless psi- powers. As the protagonist tries to study those powers, he makes her angry - something he really, really comes to regret. A pretty fun story, maybe a bit long. ***½
Specialist • shortstory by Robert Sheckley
A spaceship which has lost its "pusher" comes to earth. The earth is inhabited by pushers who have been cut from the galactic civilization, and have not been able to meet their needs - and in compensation have developed a strange mechanical world and started to fight wars. A pretty good story, above average as such, but below average for Scheckley. ***+
A Gleeb for Earth • shortstory by Charles Schafhauser
A bunch of letters is found in a hotel room beside an empty set of clothes - underwear in their proper place inside trousers and so, as if the man inside had disappeared into thin air. The letters tell a story about visitors from a parallel world which try to find a way to stop the influence our world has to it. There are several misunderstandings. Finally the visitors have found a way to destroy humans, it will only take a gleeb to take effect. But how much is a gleeb? A fairly clumsy story from a fairly worn subject. **
Not Fit for Children • shortstory by Evelyn E. Smith
Tourists stop on an asteroid on which lives a “primitive tribe” who trades trinkets for a few coins. In reality they are the children of powerful aliens who live inside the asteroid while they repair the engine of their spacecraft. And they need some copper and silver for that purpose. A nice humorous tale. ***
Junkyard • novelette by Clifford D. Simak
A spaceship finds some strange artifacts from an unremarkable planet. It seems like some unknown time ago an alien ship landed on the planet, and its’ crew disassembled ship’s engines, and used another, older alien ships’ engines to replace them. And when the earth ship tries to leave, the crew discovers that all members the crew have forgotten how to fly the ship. (the planet turns out to be a “mind trap” which siphons knowledge from visitors. It is possible to get information out from there, but only in such order that the crew learns first to use the engines of the other ship). Not a major Simak. Very loosely written, a fair amount of condensing would have vastly improved the story. **½