October 29, 2010

Reading Cryoburn, the new Vorkosigan book

Posted in Books and movies at 5:39 pm by changisme

I finished the new Vorkosigan book Cryoburn, and just want to note down what I feel about it at this point, because my opinion changes as time goes on.

The plot: good twists and turns for its length, a little bit rushed, but satisfying in general. Things never really happen the way you expect them to, except for the very end, which is a little rushed.

The characters: familiar characters are not dynamic, they hardly underwent any changes or gave any new revelations. Is this because Miles is no longer looking for dates? Bujold should know better than assuming a 30+ year-old family man is completely stable. Is this intentional? it’s true that the narratives of this novel is especially remote from Miles himself. Even though all books in the series had been in third person, but the voice used to be closer to Miles. Whereas this one, the reference to Miles had been mostly in “m’lord”, supposedly from Roic’s stand point. Or sometimes from the new kid Jin’s point of view. Is this an intentional distance introduced by Bujold because she feels Miles is fading away from her life? I don’t know… The other familiar characters were not well advanced either, like Mark, Kareen, Roic (maybe a little bit), Raven, all had their personalities, but rather one sided. There were tons of new characters, mostly because the setting is new, Kibou-daini, not any of the familiar “home”-world from the previous books. These characters are just entering the scene, so there’s not development to be said. I like the character development of some of her shorter works, where fewer characters are crammed in.

Social commentary: The novel acknowledges the existence of social problems such as health-care, polarization, and the incompetence of some NGO’s. However, the work is too short to do these matters justice. I don’t know whether to say it’s a failure, because it probably serves well for the setting of the story, but it’s definitely a bit simplified. It’s not as interesting as some of the political struggles took place in Barrayar.

Culture setting: The planet this story takes place is in a east-asian-predominantly-Japanese environment. It’s reflected in people’s names and food. There are no other cultural references. It might be right because it’s afterall a fusion and futuristic setting. I don’t really know how I feel about it other than feeling it’s a bit … extra but still not too bad or too over the top.

The language:  very humourous just as her previous works. Very nice conversations, a little too obvious when it’s trying to explain something to the reader things about power struggles or conspiracies. There might be ways to make it a little more subtle, but I’m no writer, so I might just be overly judgmental. There are also times when the book is trying to get new readers caught up on the previous going-ons of the Vorkosigan world, but I think it’s there, but only enough to remind people who already knew about it. That might be Bujold’s intention in the first place.

Overall, I’m not too happy with the character’s growth, or lack of it, but I still laugh out loud when I read her writing.


October 24, 2010


Posted in Uncategorized at 8:02 pm by changisme





















October 5, 2010

Seeing the Hot House (a stage reading)

Posted in Books and movies at 8:56 am by changisme

We went to a stage reading for herald pinter’s Hot house, and it surprised us in quite a few ways. First of all, the actors did such a good job given that it’s an unpaid reading job and they only rehearsed for an afternoon. There were more than eight long monologues (probably more than 5 pages), and they roamed through them as if they’ve memorized them. Their British accents were also great, maybe except for the guy who played Lamb, a little rusty.

Secondly, the play is so unlike Pinter’s other plays we’ve seen or read. It has a very linear story line, even though full of hilarious madness, it wasn’t as post modern and weird as the others.

Finally, and probably it shouldn’t be a surprise, is that this work is buried and so unknown. Even Pinter himself didn’t really like it. It’s such a good play! Great dialogues.

I do feel that the play might be a little long for its story arch. I didn’t find it bothersome, because the dia/monologues are so cheeky, so it was quite enjoyable, but I could easily see a more delicately arranged version with some more compact progression.

The story is about the staff of an institution of some sort, how they struggle with each other and with the patients. It’s a tragicomedy, with laughter throughout but everybody (almost everybody) dies at the end. I like it because the more sane someone appears at the beginning, the more insane you realize they are at the end. It’s a complete satire on the institutional system.

I would really love to see this in production. It wouldn’t need that much prop, but lots of memorization!