May 11th, 2009

red panda eating bamboo

(no subject)

Hyperion (Hyperion, Book 1) Hyperion by Dan Simmons

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I listened to the Audio Frontiers audiobook narrated by Marc Vietor, Allyson Johnson, Kevin Pariseau, Jay Snyder, and Victor Bevine. All the narration was competent-to-good, except for Allyson Johnson, whose narration annoyed me.

I have one major beef with this book, which is that the ending doesn't really wrap up the story. (Apparently the sequel, Fall of Hyperion, provides a proper ending.)

Hyperion is a set of six tales wrapped in a larger plotline about seven pilgrims making a journey. Toward the end of the book all the stories start to converge into one complex story. That's what's best about the book, in my opinion.

In this book and the other one I've read (Children of the Night), Dan Simmons does a really good job of creating "cranky, cynical old men" characters. This book has six major such characters and a few secondary ones, and they are all very distinctive. Simmons does less well at creating female characters. This book has one female character who has her own narrative, but her personality and motives don't feel as distinctive to me as those of the male characters, and neither do the personalities of the secondary female characters.

Simmons is well-read in literature and mythology and he does a good job of integrating this knowledge into the book.

Simmons's writing makes use of horror tropes designed to evoke strong emotional reactions. Those tropes don't work particularly well for me for some reason.

I also think Simmons sometimes doesn't do a very good job writing about romantic relationships. (He does better writing about primarily sexual relationships.) Sometimes the characters' motives for getting involved or staying involved aren't clear; in this book, I especially felt that way about the tale with a female protagonist.

View all my goodreads.com reviews.
red panda eating bamboo

The end of an era

At 2am on Mother's Day Sunday, I noticed that our water heater was leaking. The previous owners of the house were inveterate DIYers and they had rigged it up to solar panels on the roof. The solar panels was no longer there when we moved in, but the complicated connections were.

To me it looks a tad...steampunk?
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I couldn't figure out how to turn off the water to the water heater. I woke up the OH and he couldn't either. (If you laugh at us now, please do so politely behind your hand, thank you.) We called a plumber out of the phone book, one of the ones with a half-page ad saying they offered 24 hour emergency service. A sleepy guy called us back five minutes later and instead of coming out and charging us an arm and a leg, told us how to turn off the water and the gas. We said we'd call him back later in the morning.

We called him back in the morning and left another voicemail. When he didn't return our call we called another plumbing company that we have worked with before, and set up an appointment for Monday. (We have a second water heater for our upstairs bathroom, also thanks to the former owners, so we didn't have to go without hot showers, although the shower upstairs is approximately the size of a postage stamp.)

They came out today and said the water heater was corroded beyond repair. So they installed this.

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The new one is certainly much tidier looking, but I kind of miss the drama of the old one. On the bright side, we still don't know what might come crawling out of that hole in the ceiling...

Oh, also: bonus cat picture:
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