August 5th, 2007

home from Rhode Island

The day trip to Block Island was fun, but I won't go again on that kind of day trip without access to a room where we can clean up (sandy boob = kid keeps retrying to latch, spit, latch, spit. . .) and put a toddler down for a nap, at least not until all children with us are past breastfeeding/napping. We rode the bikes to the ferry, took the ferry, rode around the small loop, ate lunch at Ballard's and scared the heck out of me putting Teddy in the surf there, went to the baby beach and had more fun.

The kids improved. Their parents told them to give Teddy space and that helped a lot.

_Resenting the Hero_ by Moira Moore

I think I picked this up off an Amazon recommendation and I'm really glad I did. While I did not read at all in Rhode Island (too hot, so I did Sudoku instead), when I got back, I immediately devoured this. This is one of those is-it-sf-is-it-fantasy books. It is set in the future, centuries after a colony that arrived in space ships lost their tech to a series of "natural" disasters. In the wake of those disasters, certain people were discovered who had the ability to divert those disasters, but who tended to die in the process. Then other people turned out to be able to keep the first group alive. Political struggles ensued over who would control these valuable folk. The story is set after an arrangement was made where by the special folk are found young, trained by a guild-like organization made up of older special folk, matched up and sent out into the world where all they have to do is be special, and everything else will be given them for free (food, clothing, place to stay, alcohol, etc.). Viewpoint character (heroine) isn't pleased with her match; both are Amazingly Effective Even for Special Folk and sole survivors (kind of) of a particularly massive disaster that turns out to not actually be natural. Antics ensue.

The actual story is not about the Mad Skillz of the heroine and hero. The story revolves around reputations, when they are deserved, when they are not, when they have been cultivated, when it is impossible to evade them, when they are unfairly imposed upon a character because of their association with someone else, etc. The heroine, having been raised in a very protected community and recently allowed out to explore The Real World makes a series of understandable errors in judgment as she tries to navigate the social landscape. Along the way, the author gets in a lot of digs at conventions of the genre (sf/fantasy, but also detective stories revolving around the efforts of Amateurs).

In addition to the fascinating possibilities offered by the varying perceptions of any given character by any other given character, Moore spends a substantial amount of time on how Our Heroine perceives herself, and how that is often at odds with Reality, defined variously, but principally by how she interprets her speech and actions, and how relatively unbiased others -- whether other characters or the reader -- interpret her speech and actions. Moore even takes a whack at showing how Lee's perceptions of herself change over time (sometimes oscillating wildly over the space of a paragraph or two -- moments in the story's time frame).

Really good stuff. A reader might be thinking, oh, god, not another angsty-fantasy novel I don't think I can stand it. But it's NOT angsty. It's light comedy. It's funny. It's self-deprecating. It's _really really good_. I've ordered the (first?) sequel and am looking forward to it.