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Phil's Rambling Rants

August 23rd, 2008

August 23rd, 2008
06:50 pm

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Mad dogs and Englishmen
I've been pretty much sitting on my ass all week, except for going to EFRC on Tuesday, so I gave myself enough of a kick to get out to Kickapoo and do the Out and Back trail.

The forecast was for a high of 88 and relatively high humidity.  And that's about what it felt like.  A lot of flowers, notably including really tall thistles with fist-sized flowers.  Very few birds, even for the middle of the afternoon.  I did get a pretty good look at a hawk, I believe a Cooper's but I'm bad at hawks.  Some butterflies, but not huge numbers.  Except for one patch in the large open area where the sewage treatment plant is, the hordes of dragonflies from earlier in the year were absent.  I got rather close to a small group of deer.  At the overlook where I ate my sandwich and read for perhaps an hour (the battery died in my watch), damselflies were landing on me.  At least 3 different individuals.  One biker came up to the overlook while I was there and asked me to take a picture with his camera; other than that I had the place to myself.  I was feeling pretty tired by the time I got back to my car -- obviously too much ass-sitting and not enough hiking lately.

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TimeEvent
09:41 pm

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Book review: A Companion to Wolves
Today's book review is A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear.

This is a standalone novel.  It contains frank discussion of male homosexuality.

This is a story of war, bloody battles, and heroic deeds in a world drawn from Norse mythology.  It's a story of humans bonding with intelligent wolves.  Most interestingly and originally, it's a story about going beyond traditional gender roles to find what's important about being human.  The first of these means the story is heavily flavored with odd terms and names that I had trouble keeping straight.  The second is something that a lot of people are probably getting tired of, but I have to confess it's a trope I really enjoy.  It's the third area, though, that will make the book interesting to some people and troubling or disgusting to others.  The trellwolves' sexuality is quite different from that of real wolves; it grated on me how much the authors got wrong until I told myself that this was a different species in a different world and I shouldn't expect them to be normal wolves.  Trellwolves have two very short heats a year, and when they go into heat, the humans go mad with lust.  And the humans are all male.  Except for the human/wolf groups, the culture is as homophobic as any on earth; the conflict is obvious, but the characters who manage to get past it have something to teach those earthly cultures.

Some layers of this story were annoyingly predictable, but it has enough layers to remain interesting.  The world isn't entirely comfortable, but it still sucked me in and wouldn't let go.  There are strong reasons many readers won't like this book, but they're actually fairly shallow.  The reader who can stand another special-bond-with-special-animals book and can also deal with men having sex with men should find something deeper to like.

9 out of 10.

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