Wicker King (jtoomey) wrote,
Wicker King
jtoomey

Stuffs Delayed

It strikes me, as I'm riding the plane home -- yes, this is posted after a significant delay -- that most, if not all, crimes stem from self-centeredness, and that the cutoff between anti-social behavior and illegal behavior is a rather arbitrary line in the sand. One might argue that crimes begin where one's behavior no longer impacts only oneself, but also adversely affects others, but this argument can be disproven by counter-examples on both sides: it is illegal to take certain drugs, even if one locks oneself in one's house first, allowing time for the dissolution of the drug before resuming interaction with society, while it is within one's rights to consume excesses of alcohol under far more liberal conditions. It is legal to hire someone to follow another person around, keeping tabs on their private lives, but it is illegal to tell someone's prospective spouse if they have AIDS without their consent.

It strikes me as well, sitting next to an older couple who refused to move over a single seat, and thus allow my wife and I to sit together, that while the elderly like to complain about younger folks' lack of manners and respect, it is just as often they who fail to show compassion for their fellow man. This isn't really a surprise; the manners and respect road they yearn for always seems to run in a single direction: incoming.

Christine is somewhere up near the front of the plane, probably bored out of her skull, just as I am, and these two who refused to cooperate have spoken to each other all of twice during the flight. They're sitting across the aisle from one another, and could have accommodated us simply by shifting the man one seat forward -- maintaining speaking range and aisle seats -- or by sitting together in the same row. They didn't though.

They are, of course, well within the range of legality. Thus my commentary on the arbitrary line in the sand.

I love people.

-----

The Mocking Program, by Alan Dean Foster, is a bit of a sleeper work; after the first two chapters I was about ready to return it to the library and take out a different volume. In order to complete this review, I decided instead to stick with it. This turned out to be a good choice; the novel is quite entertaining, and far more thought provoking than most of Foster's works.

It centers around a police detective intuit -- a man trained to detect the tiny cues we all exhibit during normal conversation which reveal our true feelings and motives -- who is assigned to investigate the murder of a man with two identities. This tired plot dominates the beginning of the novel, and no amount of fancy futuristic and foreign language can conceal that, but the story soon starts to pick up steam, and transform into a tale of revenge of a truly strange sort. I have to leave it at that to avoid spoiling, but take my word... it's odd and intriguing.

I enjoyed it, and I think that anyone who likes a solid action story with the odd sci-fi bit will as well.

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Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman, is a beautifully crafted fairy tale, a description which seems to fit much of his work. It illustrates a London divided between the everyday and the forgotten -- London Above and London Below. Richard Mayhew, the protagonist, descends unexpectedly from the former into the latter, and spends the balance of the book attempting to return and attempting to learn his way about in approximately equal measure. The tale reads both as a fantasy and as a metaphor -- the people in London Below are visible to the people of London Above, but they ignored and forgotten. ghosts in the world of daylight.

Richard finds himself allied with a young woman named Door -- possessor of the ability to open her namesake, locked (or extant) or not -- a strange and dangerous Marquis, and a bodyguard named Hunter, all quite different and unique. In fact, all of the characters in this story are fascinatingly detailed and vibrant, an apt juxtaposition with their invisible, neglected social status.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one -- as I did Stardust, another Gaiman work -- and would highly recommend it.
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