Monday, 2015-01-26

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

A superlative historical novel. As in her later Wolf Hall, Mantel does a creditable job inhabiting the inner minds of her characters.

I’m simultanously listening to Mike Duncan’s most excellent Revolutions podcast which is a great help in grasping the wider history of the Revolution. Just as in Wolf Hall, Mantel expects you to have a better grip of history than perhaps you remember from school.

Sunday, 2015-01-11

Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations by Norman Davies

A superlative general history of some now vanished states in Europe. From the well-known (Burgundy, Aragon) to the obscure (Etruria, Rusyn), Davies discusses their history and compares their fates.

The book is thought-provoking, as it makes clear that not all nations are destined to lead long lives. Davies is convinced for example that the UK will break apart, citing the example of how Ireland extricated itself during the 20th century.

Wednesday, 2014-12-31



Sjöstaden / Christmas day


Dec 2013 | Dec 2012 | Dec 2011 | Dec 2010

Sunday, 2014-11-30



Fotomässan / Panoptikon


Nov 2013 | Nov 2012 | Nov 2011 |

Friday, 2014-10-31

Monday, 2014-10-06

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

This book has justifiably swept the SF awards lately. It’s an intricately designed space opera set in a human future that’s unsettlingly plausible. I’m usually tired of literal “space empires” but Leckie makes enough assumptions to make it work.

Of course there are downsides. The Radch expand by war, “annexing” rival systems and integrating their people and religions into their own. The titular “ancillaries” are prisoners of war, stripped of personality and memory and turned into elements of giant ship’s AI.

Underneath the genteel veneer of tea ceremonies, ritual gloves, and gender-neutral pronouns (everyone is “she” in this novel, a great touch) lies a dark heart of absolute power, state-sponsored euthanasia and utter lack of privacy, if you live on a ship or a Station monitored by an AI. Leckie avoids the trap of simply transplanting today’s society into the far future and gives us a glimpse of something that’s rather different - if instantly recognizable as human.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 2014-09-30

Tuesday, 2014-09-09

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

It’s apparently not a fantasy book series unless it’s at least a trilogy, and while I felt the abrupt ending of The Magician King was fitting for what I felt was the end of a Bildungsroman, I wasn’t too surprised to see The Magician’s Land in print.

That’s not to say I wasn’t happy. Grossman’s three books do a brilliant job of deconstructing the tropes of the magician’s school. It’s Harry Potter meets The Rules of Attraction, and Narnia at least gets a varnish of Lovecraft. The multiverse of the novels is brilliantly constructed and internally consistent.

Tying up all the loose strands of a story is hard work though, and while Grossman does a great job of setting the scene and telling the first half of the book, the last falls rather flat. However, only in the context of what’s gone before. It’s still one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read, ever.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, 2014-08-31



Four years ago:



Sickla udde





Aug 2013 | Aug 2012 | Aug 2011 | Aug 2010 | Aug 2009

Thursday, 2014-08-14

Four States of Mind

(All pics from our trip are in this Flickr set.)

5th Avenue

New York is a woman — she’ll make you cry
But to her you’re just another guy

Suzanne Vega

Lake Meade

Well it used to be everything was fine
Everything, this all was mine
But one fine day, you might say
That I, I threw it all away
‘Cause I made up my mind
I traded holy water for cheap wine
I ran out of time
Or something that I can’t define
I traded my whiskey for your wine
Leaving my river running dry
And a waterline

Lloyd Cole

South Rim

We went to Grand Canyon
And we stood at the expanse
And we watched the rocks change color
And we watched the shadows dance

Drive-By Truckers


And if California slides into the ocean
As the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this hotel will be standing
Until I pay my bill

Warren Zevon