South Park Self

come out of the garden, baby, you'll catch your death in the fog

My subconscious apparently has this thing about being an assistant to Neil Gaiman. Last night I was trying to bring copies of Absolute Sandman to the TV interview he was doing in the middle of a looming apocalypse, which was all frantic suburban landscapes filled with empty houses and refugee camps and acres of cars being stopped in fields because the road was closed. Occasionally a huge truck would lumber past, loaded with the gigantic, vertical sheet of glass we were going to use to launch the nuclear bomb. It was all rather confusing, and left me with the strong sense that Neil Gaiman should be too important for refugee camps.

I also have a Strong Sense that going back to work today is not a good idea, but I don't think it's about state of health so much as general reluctance. I am braced for the overflow student angst, mostly by being very prepared to simply go home early if it's all too much. Generally I'm feeling OK, but it doesn't take much in the way of unusual exertion for me to realise that actually I'm not. On the other hand, I suspect the faculty may start giving me funny looks if I spend any more time at home. Also, today is my first seminar in the new term, in which I gently inculcate unsuspecting first-years into the mysteries and terrors of Victorian Gothic. We shall see how it goes.

Most importantly, today I need to face my post office box, which I haven't checked in over a month and which will probably explode messily when I try to open it. Since I am Official Laundry Person to jo&stv, who have a box in the same complex (ignore the laundry bit, it's a silly ongoing joke), I shall have two explosions to subdue. If I'm never heard of again, it's because paper golems, miffed by neglect, have carried me away for fell purposes of their own.

Talking about golems: China Miéville. Not that he does talk about golems in his latest, Embassytown, which I read while in hospital, but wow it's good. For a start, he does properly alien aliens; you spend the book in a kind of fog, connecting to the alien culture only blindly and momentarily, hamstrung by your own human assumptions and the chasm of difference you are trying to negotiate. It's incredibly effective. The most effective thing he does, though, is with language, which, apart from the strange and inevitable circumstances of speech (the aliens can't comprehend a single voice as language, it must be a connected duality speaking), is basically an extended play with embodied signification. To the aliens, language is the world; they cannot separate the two. They therefore can't tell lies, can't use metaphor, and are horribly and fatally vulnerable to a species which constitutionally uses language as persuasion, charm, invention, flight of fancy, deception and diversion, not to mention distraction, uglification and fainting in coils. Like anything he does, it's an intrinsically political and absolutely self-conscious piece of writing; it's also tragically, desperately real. I loved it: it both blew me away and broke my heart. Miéville situation normal, then.
  • Current Mood: determined braced
Re: Embassytown
of course! although otherjo has it at the moment. Feel free to extract it from her if she's finished.

I have Plans Afoot to photograph the wol-gloves, btw. Serious Plans.
Re: Embassytown
Well, I'm away on Thursday so I'll get it from her when I get back. I still have some Tepper to tide me over on holiday :)
Embassytown was very good. I also liked Chares Stross' latest book, Rule 34 which is a sequel, more or less, to Halting State.
Sadly I cannot lend out paper copies of Embassytown or Rule 34 as they exist only on my Kindle.