Wednesday, November 02, 2016


I went on and forged ahead with the "The Dandelion Dynasty #2": "The Wall of Storms", by Ken Liu. I was prepared to be disappointed with it, but it twisted and turned its way into being even a more compelling read than the 1st one. And, added to the enlightment, we have Science! There is nice content with characters using the scientific method and explaining as they go. Here's a nice description of wave phenomenon:
One showed me that light was like waves, ant the other showed me that deviation from an expected pattern of interference could be used to detect minute variations in thickness.
Liu also uses other storytelling techniques, with a couple of longish backstories injected into the main narrative thread. Ha ha, I also liked where he quoted from a tale that involved a queen waiting 10 years for her husband to return, borrowing from Ulysses and Penelope of Greek myth.

I should have mentioned that, although the setting is feudal, it is definitely more Chinese than European. There are rival schools of philosophy, the dominant one of which appears to be an analog of Confucianism. Checking briefly on Chinese philosophy, the other fictional schools do not seem to adhere closely to the real world.

One thing he did in a few places that I questioned was to include passages in their native language like the one below. Are we supposed to read these aloud like poetry?

“Mogi ça lodüapu ki gisgo giré, adi ça méüpha ki kédalo phia ki. Pindin ça racogilu üfiré, crudaügada ça phithoingnné gidalo phia ki. Ingluia ça philu jisén dothaéré, naüpin rari ça philu shanoa gathédalo phia ki.”
This and other recently published sci-fi novels seem to have updated to common zeitgeist features that echo recent positive developments in our world (the 1st 2 anyway):
  1. Gender roles are fluid and/or feminism is rising.
  2. All sexual orientations are welcomed.
  3. Characters die - the "Game of Thrones" effect - although most of the time the authors do not kill off characters as heartlessly as Martin does.
This novel ends in a less resolved state that the 1st one, which I think is the norm for trilogies. I'm looking forward to the next one. Meanwhile, I just purchased Liu's short story collection, "The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories".

Here are the new vocabulary words from the book:

  • kennings - a compound expression in Old English and Old Norse poetry with metaphorical meaning, e.g., oar-steed = ship.
  • chiaroscuro - the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.
  • pleonasm - the use of more words than are necessary to convey meaning (e.g., see with one's eyes ), either as a fault of style or for emphasis.
I'm feeling like reading more escapism before economics (tension builds as the election approaches), I'm on the magazine stack now.

No comments: