books ahead

2017 is shaping up to being an interesting year for special editions of science fiction and fantasy novels. I mostly like to buy nice editions of books in these fields, partly because I like pretty books and partly so that I can have something with better lastability than some of my increasingly dodgy paperbacks. Mostly I like the pretty. Also, I like reading books that feel nice in the hand and printed with good fonts.

In a comment on my privileged purchasing power (good job, no mortgage) I am starting to lose track of pre-orders for interesting things. I’ve long past the point of waiting for stuff to appear in bookshops. I am on the mailing lists for several speciality publishers in my favoured fields. This means I hear about books they’re planning, and when they’re likely to release. They usually allow you to pre-order titles too, plus some of their stuff never actually make it to bookshops these days, or at least not the special editions. I am a collector and an addict…I’m not sure which is the more prominent attribute.

Books I have pre-ordered:

  • Reaper’s Gale by Steven Erikson – this is book 7 of 10 of the Malazan series. These are some of the best books I have ever read…and I’ve almost read the entire series twice. The Subterranean Press edition is due for release in August 2017 and I have the first 6, all with the same numbered edition.
  • Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey – this is book 3 of The Expanse series, which has also been made into a TV show. Also published by Subterranean Press.
  • I think I’m waiting for one of Perth writer, Greg Egan’s, books from Subterranean Press, but it may already have arrived. I think I have all of his Subterranean releases now.

Books that aren’t available for ordering, or pre-ordering, yet:

  • The ‘Rynosseros Cycle‘ by Terry Dowling – I love this series much. Terry is a Sydney based writer and the Rynosseros books are based on a sort of futuristic dreamtime spanning across a couple of novels and groupings of short stories. PS Publishing, whom I rely on for special editions by Ian C. Esslemont, who is co-creator of the Malazan universe, have recently announced an Australian arm, and amongst other things, are planning to do a special edition edition of the Rynosseros Cycle
  • Dune by Frank Herbert – It looks Centipede Press are going to release special editions of all of 6 of the Dune novels. I already have a nice edition of Dune (and only Dune) by Easton Press but a Centipede Press edition is to die for.
  • Centipede Press are also doing a Masters of Science Fiction Series, for around US$40 per book. Two released so far:

I think I love Centipede Press the most. They do a lot of horror which I’m not really into. As an aside, there is a significant stream of dark fantasy and horror running through small press publishers in science fiction/fantasy these days. Each Centipede book is approached in a different way and a lot of ideas have gon5789252566_73f2641612_ne into the design and development of their titles. I’ve managed to score some very nice books either full price, or discounted including, in addition to the above:

…and it’s only March :)

my gaming history

I came across this post from Kotaku about trying to collect and preserve the context of the world of computer games ie getting the external materials, promotions, articles and so forth which provide a real world background to the development of the game itself.

This sort of ties into one of my ongoing concerns in game preservation, how do I convey the sense of “atari thumb”?  As this link shows, the Atari joystick was fairly basic. I spent so many hours using that controller as a teenager, thumb on the red button, mashing it as hard as I could. Eventually, you’d have to stop playing as your thumb got too sore to continue hence “atari thumb”.

There’s plenty of options around for game emulation including the almighty Internet Archive’s Game Arcade and MAME has just had its 20th birthday. However it’s one thing to be able to play the old games, it’s another thing entirely to talk about and understand the culture of gaming when the original systems existed. It’s nice to see for example, that the internet archive is maintaining an archive of old computer magazines including one of my favourites from the 80s, the UK Computer + Video Games. I bought this magazine every month, usually for one column, particular, the Adventurer’s Helpline.

The Adventurer pages were full of hints and reviews text adventures including the US Infocom, and the English Level 9. I have vague recollections of reader letters and responses too so it felt like there was an international community. There were also Oz based magazines including the Australian Commodore Review which morphed into the Australian Commodore & Amiga Review and included a dedicated text adventure section called “Adventurer’s Realm“. Capturing that external world of gaming is a tricky beast. Many years ago, I discarded most of my original copies of those magazines though did cut out all the adventure columns. I’m sorta hoping that I’ve retained that small archive somewhere in a box. On other hand, it seems to be the case that more and more of this material is being digitised and made available online.

more tramping

Alrighty…first we booked the huts, then we booked the flights. I am finally getting to tramp the Kepler Track this year. Flights were a wee bit ecky as we’re travelling in the school holidays. On the other hand, we’re doing the Kepler!

I was just re-reading my account of the Routeburn and realised that was 2010 and despite my best intentions, it’s taken 7 years to get round to tramping another of NZ’s Great Walks. Admittedly, I’ve had some pretty good times inbetween, not to mention 6 weeks in Europe over Christmas. This trip is actually for Mr21 who turned 21 last year and we offered him a hike as he loves the bush too. Turns out he’d rather hike with us so the three of us are doing the Kepler together.

I tramped the Routeburn using my ageing Kathmandu travel pack and while it held up ok, I decided that next time I tramped I would get a dedicated pack. For the Europe trip, I bought a new travel pack that had a backpacking harness and wheels. I’ve read a few “best of” lists online and pretty much decided that the Osprey Atmos fits the bill. It’s a good size with a decent harness. I’ve had an Osprey day pack with 3 litre aqualung for several years and that’s been really nice. Getting the Atmos means I can use the aqualung on it too. Just need to go into a store and try one on.

I bought a new pair of Scarpa walking boots a couple of years ago and retired my previous Scarpa so that part is sorted. I remain undecided on walking poles – the germans love them and I have a few friends who are keen. I sort of wonder if my general clumsiness might mean that they’d work well for me too…or at least stop me reaching out for trees that may or may not hold my weight :-)

post holiday thoughts

Flew back into Sydney a couple of weeks ago. 6 weeks in Europe ended up feeling about right and I was happy to return home. We experienced a mild, European winter and winter didn’t seem to set in proper til after we left. Temps were mostly single figure negative eventually making it to positive.

Prior to leaving, we’d booked accommodation for 8 nights out of 42, a return train trip from Paris to London and a couple of shows.  Everything else was discussed, explored and booked as we went. For the most part we were booking trains and accommodation a few days in advance. The broad bones of the trip were necessarily constant but the places inbetween changed, and changed a few times. Alas, no snow. We had a few flecks in Nuremberg and some hail somewhere else but no snow we could play with.

31883039312_f56cf3c2a4_nI recall travelling not dissimilarly a decade or so back, planning each place while in the previous place. Back then, I needed to book into an internet cafe and spend an hour or two working out how to get to the next place and where to stay. This time round, I had a laptop with me, a local sim card with plenty of data, and most places we stayed had wifi. The German train system is fab and and so easy to organise and book, France was a little more challenging and often didn’t recognise our credit card for train bookings so we did a few in person there. We’d discuss plans over dinner or breakfast and then I’d make the required bookings keeping in touch with airbnb hosts via the app or WhatsApp.

Airbnb was really fab. I was reluctant initially but have been converted. There were 3 of us travelling: myself, my partner and her 16 year old daughter, and we were able to book whole apartments so we had space to relax in. Many places we usually had at least one separate bedroom and a sofa bed in the living though occasionally we had 2 bedrooms. Dead simple to book, hosts were flexible in meeting times and friendly and welcoming. We stayed in some amazing places and places were cheaper as there were a lot less folk travelling in winter.

Queues were short or non existent eg a 20 minute queue at the Louvre. I think our worst queues were in Disneyland Paris and even then most ride queues were short. Disneyland Paris was one of those things we managed to add while travelling as we hadn’t planned to go initially however it was dead simple as a day trip from Paris.

Google maps was bloody awesome. I had full data connectivity on my phone though the Spanish SIM I was using never quite managed to make it to 4G and was a wee bit slow at times. But I could use my phone as I would at home for a cost of around 1-2 euros per day. I played plenty of Ingress in all countries and made good use of both google’s and microsoft’s translation software though I think I prefer microsoft’s. Google maps however made moving about dead easy: it worked out appropriate metro stops. bus stops, bits to walk etc. Sometimes it’s nice to get lost and find stuff but not when you’re carrying a pack trying to find your next airbnb.

All I need to do now is cull my photos down to a manageable amount and upload them to flickr. First run through got them down to 622 from 688, so clearly lots more culling required. Oh joy.

almost holidays

I may actually be getting vaguely excited about my impending trip. About bloody time as we fly out in 3 days. Though I usually say I don’t start to relax until I’m on the plane. We’re traveling for 6 weeks and have booked 10 nights of accommodation so far, or roughly a third. Sometimes I’m comfy with that, sometimes I’m not. I am comfortable with the flexibility.

We kept looking stuff up on wotif and being disappointed with the results. There’s 3 of us traveling: moi, my partner and Ms16. Wotif doesn’t show many places and keeps returning places with 1 bed + crib. A crib is no good. Airbnb however is showing lots of apartments, many of which are suitable ie 2 rooms with 2 beds. We’ve booked one place with wotif and 2 places with airbnb so far. We have booked accommodation over christmas thankfully as that’s likely to be a hard time to book.

Flexibility means that this week we were able to throw in a weekend in London in January and see a show or two. We have booked the shows and the Paris-London-Paris eurostar (around 2 hours 15 min each way). We will be seeing Matilda together and the other 2 will also be seeing Wicked. I saw Wicked in Sydney so I’m going to hang in London that day.

I’m a wee bit excited about going to London again which is a bit weird. I have spent more time in London than anywhere else outside Oz altogether, and house-sat occasionally. I immediately thought of a whole bunch of things I want to do and figured I needed a week minimum, however we’ll stick to the weekend. I will try to get Harrod’s as their food hall is the only place I’ve ever been able to buy Valrhona chocolate covered orange peels and they are my favourite. I’d also like to go to Kensington Gardens and see the Peter Pan statue in the snow. I usually like to pay my respects to Peter each time I visit London. I also want to go to my favourite museum, the John Soane Museum.

trip stuff

Heading off in a week or so for a 6 week holiday in Europe. I am alternately between sheer panic and totally chilled. Flights are booked, a couple of trains are booked, accommodation for first place and for christmas have been booked. I’m mostly ok with that, on the other hand I panic occasionally as there’s 3 of us travelling together and I’m not used to travelling with other people. This time it’s with my partner and Ms15.

Starting in Copenhagen and mostly spending time in Germany (for traditional christmas markets) and France, finishing off with a few days in Barcelona. Been a busy year and it’s been hard to plan or think things through. The last time I did a big trip was 3 weeks around Borneo in 2012 with Intrepid so everything was taken care of. My previous trips to Europe have usually been self guided and self propelled, on occasion finding accommodation on the fly. With that said, tech has improved a lot and I’ll probably get a local sim for my phone with data so I can carry on as usual. I doubt I’ll need rely as heavily on local internet cafes as I used to in the old days.

I had mostly decided not to take my laptop which surprised my partner. However I’ve been rethinking this week that it would be handy to have with me, particularly if we’re weighing up options throughout the trip. Phone and tablets can handle some things but they’re not great for having lots of tabs open.The other advantage of the laptop is that I can use it to back up our photos as we go. I’m toying with the idea of making my NAS remotely accessible and backing up the photos to it as well. That might be overkill and create more headaches.

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My tablet is a 2013 edition of the 7″ nexus and while it’s still nice, it is getting a little long in the tooth and not recharging as well as it used to. I am considering picking up a new tablet duty-free, possibly the 8″ samsung galaxy S2. Unfortunately my phone isn’t dual sim so I’ll need to swap sims occasionally to check for messages from home though most friends use various messenging apps to contact me, family less so. And of course, I’ll have my ereader with me, one can’t have too many devices. The only remaining item in the photo is my old psion 5mx from 1999 – it shall remain at home :)

keep on trying

I have been reading feminist literature for a fair chunk of my life (and had conversations with feminist friends and generally tried to live a more otherness aware life) and I continue to discover things where I, as a white male, continue to fail. Or perhaps not so much fail, as not quite understood the perspective of others. Sometimes this happens repeatedly…for years…before I manage to get a clue.

The latest one was this:

In tech, a common pattern is for hiring managers to say “I don’t care who you are, just show me your hobby projects on github, or your think-pieces on medium” but a bit of reflection is all it takes to realize that screening based on free-time pursuits gets you more affluent white men than it does underemployed single moms.

Time to do stuff is not equal for everybody. In library circles that can mean time to spend on conference committees, to do volunteer work, to admin elists and so on. For most of my life I was single, white male with a job and seemingly endless amounts of free time. That in turn begs the question of why haven’t I done so much more, which is answered by my sheer, bloody laziness and ability to procrastinate.

However I have continued to say that volunteering requires giving up your own time to do stuff for others. That’s easy when you’re a single, white male. That’s what privilege looks like. I now live with a partner and she has 3 kids. My ability to “give up” time no longer exists, I no longer have privileged control over my time. My time is shared with others. She has given up a lot of time for the kids.

That’s not a complaint about my current situation.

In the old days, I’d come home from work, switch on the TV, or the playstation, perhaps get round to cooking, or heating up a frozen dinner (more likely as I hate cooking), pour myself some wine and so on. These days, we return home, the number for dinner is variable and occasionally unknown, depending on the movement of the kids (15, 18, 21). Post dinner is variable depending on what others are doing…time on the playstation is negotiated. I’m playing skyrim again and I can’t spend entire weeks/months playing it like I could when I was alone. There might be alternative options eg my partner and I are currently watching Once Upon a Time with Ms15, however they sometimes like to watch Nashville together which I’m not interested in.

I seem to have little time to volunteer, or at least I think I have little time and that may be more a reflection that I’m still trying to think in context of my old life while trying to adapt to my new life. Adaption is taking me a long time as I’ve been with my partner fort 4 years and living altogether fulltime for 2 years. I am reminded that as I think these sorts of things, I am still exercising privilege as these sorts of things are not “options” for others, nor having the luxury to ruminate on them.