The Best of Connie Willis

June 1, 2015

I recently finished The Best of Connie Willis. a great read!  I really like Connie’s writing.  She has a very straightforward and enjoyable style.  She writes science fiction with a variety of topics and settings.  Her stories deal with everything from post-apocalyptic life to alien visitations to spirits.  Most of her books and stories have some humor which always comes with a point, often sneaking up on you at the very end.  Her time travel stories are probably some of my favorites, she manages to let her characters travel through time without running into the usual paradoxes.   Perhaps part of the reason that she appeals to me is because she is close to my age, so I identify with her.  It is also fun that some of her stories happen in Colorado so I recognize the places.

I am having a very hard time choosing a favorite from these stories.” The Winds of Marble Arch” has a wonderful appreciation for life.  “The Fire Watch” makes life during the Blitz in London for the normal person real.

I think the great thing about Connie’s writing is that she takes the everyday aspects of an average person’s life and puts a spin on them that makes them interesting and touching.

Isaac Asimov Pt 1

March 3, 2015

One of my goals when I retired was to read Asimov’s Foundation Series from the beginning – all the robot stories & novels through the Foundation books in the order that they happened not the publishing order.  You can find a list on Wikipedia.  It has been enlightening.  I am up to Prelude to Foundation, although I have skipped The Currents of Space for the moment.  So far most of his writing does not hold up very well.  His style is stilted and so tied to what the world was like in the 50’s and 60’s that it is very difficult to read.  He did not seem to be able to envision changes in culture.  His infodumps interrupt the flow of the story while telling you much more than you really need to know.  His characters are caricatures not people.  His treatment of women for the most part is dismissive: they just don’t exist in his world except as possible love interests without personality.  Susan Calvin may be the one exception, but even she does not feel like a real person.  Many of the early robot stories have great ideas, but they tend to be repetitive.

As a teenager in the 60’s and into my young adulthood, I thought Asimov was a great writer.  His ideas are still wonderful.  His writing not so much.  I guess you can’t go back again.  I need to reread Bradbury and see how his stories hold up with the passing of time.

Spain and Transatlantic Cruise

January 12, 2014

Our most recent expedition was a trip to Spain for a transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Equinox.  I have attached a quick review.  If you are interested in the details of the ship, you can find a review with more ship information on Cruise Critic.  Spain is wonderful.

Hidden Gem – Ruby Mountains

July 7, 2013
Lamoille Canyon Drive

Lamoille Canyon Drive

 We recently returned from a trip to Oregon.  The drive to and from Oregon is a long two days from Colorado, so we try to break it up into at least three days and do some sightseeing on the way.  This trip we went through Klamath Falls, Oregon; Elko, Nevada; and Vernal,  Utah.  The drive was interesting: we saw wild burros, a bald eagle, lakes, mountains, desert, and dinosaur bones.  After spending the night in Elko, we drove through Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains.  The area is beautiful and the drive made a good side trip.  The canyon is glacial in origin so the landscape is rugged.  The drive took about 2 hours with several stops for the views.  It would be a great place to hike, too.

13-06-163 Lamoille Canypn Drive

Waterfall Lamoille Canyon

Little Fuzzy vs Fuzzy Nation

May 9, 2013

I recently finished reading Little Fuzzy and Fuzzy Nation together. The contrast between the two is interesting. Little Fuzzy was written in 1962 by H. Beam Piper and nominated for the Best Novel Hugo in 1963 which it lost to Phillip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.  Fuzzy Nation is a reboot of Little Fuzzy written by John Scalzi and released in 2011.

The two, LF and FN, are very different books.  The original was only 118 pages and FN is nearly 3 times as long at 368 pages, so Scalzi’s story is much more complex.  In LF, the characters are one-dimensional.  Scalzi’s Holloway is a complex character with lots of layers and motivations.    Piper tends to use the info dump method of exposition, while Scalzi is more subtle.  Scalzi strained a little to get Little Fuzzy to have a skill he wanted him to have by the end of the book. I think Piper’s development of the Fuzzy language was more effective.  Some of the differences may also be due to the difference in eras when written.  I seem to remember that things were much more black and white in the 60’s.  We are more aware of the shades of gray now.

I enjoyed both books very much, but FN was more engaging.  LF toward the end was very predictable.

Piper and others wrote sequels to Little Fuzzy that I have not tracked down.

SE Asia Cruise

April 26, 2013

We recently returned from an amazing cruise on Celebrity Millenium to South East Asia. Click on the link to the short version of my review of our trip to SE Asia. The long version is 5 pages without pictures, so I will spare you!

Manitou Springs, Colorado

July 21, 2012

We didn’t travel far to get to Manitou Springs, but going there for dinner last night reminded me what a fun place it is.  Manitou is a quintessential tourist town with lots of little shops, restaurants, bars.  In Manitou they are all locally owned, there are no chains!  A huge arcade has all kinds of video games, pin ball, skee ball and other entertainment.  The shops sell all the standard tourist items:  tshirts, knick knacks, and toys.  But there are other stores that sell local pottery, jewelry, soaps, hand-made clothing, kitchenware, wine, and even dulcimers.  You can easily spend a day poking around the shops.  The restaurants have Mexican food, pizza, middle eastern food, steak, fondu, burgers, wild game, and almost anything else you want.  We had a great dinner of cheese and meats at Swirl Wine Bar.  The town was evacuated for a short time during the recent fire, but everything is back to normal now.

Here is the city’s website Manitou Springs.


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