The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood

Jeg leste en anmeldelse av denne boka som lot det skinne igjennom at anmelderen mente den var unødvendig når bokens tematikk og verden allerede var belyst tidligere av samme forfatter. Jeg tenkte at denne anmelderen måtte være passe dum.

Denne boka er ganske unødvendig. Den foregår i en apokalyptisk/postapokalyptisk verden som er preget av forfall og mye dop, ufrivillig sex og annen kriminalitet. I en verden med sterke kontraster mellom de som vil bygge opp og bevare og de som river ned burde det være fullt mulig å skrive en spennende bok. Denne boka er ikke det. Ikke bryr man seg så mye om hovedpersonene heller. Det er synd, for jeg mener å ha likt Oryx and Crake ganske godt da jeg leste den for en del år siden.

Mulig boka er bedre for dem som har et mer religiøst sinnelag, eventuelt nettopp har lest Oryx and Crake og lurer på hvordan det ender. Det kan hjelpe å være mer en normalt opptatt av hymner. For dem er det en god del av. Ikke at det trekker opp.

Solnedgang

Solnedgang

Tagged as: Bøker Margaret Atwood

Robert Jordan - The Gathering Storm

I have spent most of my reading time since summer rereading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan in time for the release of the twelfth book of the series. In hindsight, that was not necessary for the enjoyment of the book as I remembered all the characters pretty well. I had forgotten most details of the plot, but since most of the plot is spent building and introducing characters, the details of what they do is not that important in the long run. That is not to say that it is not still exciting to read.

I would probably have had a just as good time reading this new book if I had only reread the previous, book eleven, but I felt when I started that I would like to finish this series in a proper way. They have been with me for more than ten years now and have brought many good reading moments.

Mostly I would still say that the books stand out high above the average Fantasy literature. The books are not great literary fiction all the way through, but the first book is one of the best Fantasy books I have read and Robert Jordan's gift of story telling is on the whole quite unique. Through the series the characters are allowed to grow and become rich in numbers and complexity. It is the character moments I liked the best on the reread. This is not because I knew the story and was bored with the plot. I had forgotten large parts, but I knew the overall plot, as any who has read the first couple of books will know or at least suspect. This makes all the characters actions, reasoning and motivation with the main plot as the backdrop the way I prefer to read the books.

The series starts out as ordinary, but very well written, hero's journey Fantasy and spreads out from there. The conflicts are many, there are viewpoint characters of many different world views and motivations. No one gets anything for free like in some novels where the main purpose seems to be to show of how great the main character is. Indeed the main character is more and more flawed as the series progresses and this is one of the reasons why I am eagerly awaiting book thirteen. There is most likely some resolution on that part in the beginning of the next book. There will be fourteen books in total with one year between the last tree, so there are only two to go!

So, did the book live up to expectations? Yes, in most parts it did. It has a different pacing than the previous books, except perhaps for parts of book eleven where the pace of events picked up a lot. There is plenty of story lines coming to their conclusions. Before the book I wondered if it was possible to tie it all up in just three books while still keeping the rich storytelling. After having read the book I worried about there not being any story lines left for the last two books except the main story. It did not feel very rushed, but it is definitely more packed that any of the previous books. Luckily, as the story arches are coming together and merging there is also some new story lines that appear as more and more characters are drawn together and meet up after months or years apart. These will also need to be concluded in time for the big ending, so there's plenty to look forward to.

So, what's not to like, a.k.a. did Brandon Sanderson pull off the feat of pulling together the story left sketched and half finished by the late Robert Jordan? For the most parts, yes he did. There was only one chapter where I felt pretty clearly that Sanderson was the main author. Unfortunately that chapter in many ways pulled me out of the story. Still, overall it was a good read. Heartily recommended for the three or four WoT fans that still have not bought the book. All others can consider picking up the first book, The Eye of the World, but be forewarned; it will take you the better parts of a year to go through the series if you get hooked.

Rendalssølen

Rendalssølen

Tagged as: Bøker Brandon Sanderson Robert Jordan Wheel of Time

Bokanmeldelser i motvind

Hei igjen, det er meg – han fyren som med ugjevne mellomrom skriver noen ord på denne bloggen. Også denne gang blir temaet bøker, men nå bare raskt oppsummert. Det må være gøy å skrive hvis man skal gjøre det i lange baner på fritiden, og i det siste har det vært alt for mye annet å gjøre. Mulig denne skrivingen er en sesongsport som ikke egner seg så bra når det er utevær.

Mitt navn er Karmosin av Orhan Pamuk. Jeg begynte på denne etter å ha blitt inspirert av Portrait of a Turkish Family, men selv om den har vunnet det meste av priser så var det ikke noe for meg. Ga opp etter ca en tredjedel. Det var en kjerne av en god historie, men for mye lignelser og annet sos innimellom. Jeg hadde hele tiden troen på at den snart skulle ta seg opp, men det gikk så smått med lesingen at jeg til slutt måtte returnere den til biblioteket.

Engelens spill av Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Denne var bra, for all del, men litt for lik forgjengeren Vindens skygge, kanskje? Jeg hadde i alle fall større forhåpninger. Oppfølgeren er ikke fullt så morsomt skrevet og har ikke fullt så bra slutt, eller er det bare jeg som hadde større forventninger? Pluss for gode stemningsbeskrivelser og atmosfære.

The Name of the Wind av Patrick Rothfuss. Dette skal vistnok være moderne fantasys redning og jeg hadde dermed igjen store forhåpninger. Det er en bra, men veldig tradisjonell, historie – noe som var litt uventet når alle har snakket så varmt om den. Helt grei underholdning, ingenting å irritere seg over, men heller ikke noe å skrike høyt om.

...

Denne posten er skrevet i små biter over lang tid, men nå fikk jeg en unnskyldning til å skrive den ferdig and also switch to English due to some friendly nagging by Lily.

How to be Good by Nick Hornby. Hmm, OK, I understand that the reader is supposed to be frustrated by the personalities and actions of the main characters, but when I am dragged through that I expect some kind of payback at the end. There isn't really one here. Maybe I need to stop reading Hornby? But, his first books were so good!

Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup. This is perhaps not as feelgoody as the film, but neither is it as hard hitting as I think it should have been. The main story is the same, but most details are different. I have problems deciding if I like the book or the film better, but one thing I do know and that is that they would both have been much better if the main character was killed at the end. If I had directed the movie, the two lovers would have been shot at the end of the kissing scene before the credits instead of dancing around. That is the only thing I feel strongly about the story. Otherwise it was only just so-so.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. I bought this book before going to military service, but never finished it as sleeping was always a better option at the end of the often long days. Any not-so-light form of entertainment was hard to appreciate in that setting for some reason. The book is autobiographical and gives a nice little peak through to the mountains of Italy during World War I. Hemingway doesn't try to cover everything so you have to read a bit between the lines, especially concerning his relationship to Catherine. The quite sudden transformation of their relationship was my favourite part of the book along with the descriptions of the Italian landscape.

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. This book is actually quite good! As a stand alone fantasy novel it does it's thing nicely and has just the depth of characters and breadth of story to work as it should. Admittedly, it does have some bad points like the lack of emotions in the young girl protagonist who is suddenly sent off by her father to marry the evil neighbouring god king. This is somewhat balanced by the better than expected descriptions of her sisters feelings and motivations in the latter parts of the book. That was more than I expected from Sanderson. There's even a good plot twist that is well foreshadowed so it feels unforced and still unexpected. All in all the highest recommended book among what I have read by him.

I am sorry that this ended up being a list of what I (didn't) like about a series of books, and not they were about. I would have liked to write small teasers as I have before, at least for some of the books, but I felt that if I did not get these published I would never start another review. Right now I am trying to do a reread of The Wheel of Time before the next book comes out and also try to finally read Baudolino by Umberto Eco which I have been putting off for the last eight years or so. The begining is quite nice, but there is always something else to do...

Hellerud

Buldring på Hellerud.

Tagged as: Bøker Brandon Sanderson Carlos Ruiz Zafón Ernest Hemingway Nick Hornby Orhan Pamuk Patrick Rothfuss Vikas Swarup

Streaming audio from Spotify on Linux to Squeezebox

I have tried the WaveInput route for SqueezeCenter, but due to a non-cooperative sound card and various problems with permissions related to SqueezeCenter running as a limited user I decided to go another route and stream sound from my Linux laptop via Icecast. If you want try using WaveInput and have the same problems with recording from the sound card as I have (it plain doesn't work with arecord and friends) there is a recipe here that might work for you.

PulseAudio

I need to use PulseAudio to get recording of sound played through the sound card to work as my Intel sound card refuses to allow me to record the sound directly. Luckily PulseAudio finally works OK for me now. I configured Wine with padsp winecfg and chose the OSS output driver for sound (ALSA works poorly at the moment). Now, run Spotify as padsp wine spotify.exe. Spotify should pop up in your PulseAudio Volume Control (pavucontrol) in the Playback tab.

You need to define a PulseAudio sink that is different from the normal (output to PC speakers). I chose to call this sink spotify. Create the sink with the following command.

pactl load-module module-null-sink sink_name=spotify

The sink should pop up in the volume control under the Output Devices tab. Next, select this sink as the default for Spotify in the Playback tab (click the small down-arrow and choose Move Stream and then Null Output).

Icecast

You can run Icecast with a minimalistic configuration. I used the minimal example (/usr/share/doc/icecast2/icecast_minimal.xml.dist on Ubuntu) where I modified the passwords and the log directory (I set the log directory a directory where I have write permissions so that I can run Icecast as my own user). Start Icecast with

icecast2 -c icecast.xml

Gstreamer

Finally I take the spotify PulseAudio sink and channel it to Icecast by use of Gstreamer. The magic command is (in one line).

gst-launch-0.10 pulsesrc device=spotify.monitor ! audioconvert  ! vorbisenc bitrate=300000 ! oggmux ! shout2send ip=localhost port=8000 password=PASSWORD mount=stream.ogg

The bit rate is set to the highest I could use without getting error messages (300kbps). I assume this is pretty transparent and does not degrade the 160kbps Spotify output much.

Now tune your Squeezebox to URL http://ip-address-of-linux-machine:8000/stream.ogg. Modify the file name and port according to your configuration.

Comments are disabled on this article due to problems with spam. Somehow spammers believe that link-spamming this page with praise for the article will send them lots of readers or google-points or something ...

Update 2013: I no longer use this method and do not know if it still works or if there are better ways to do this now

Tagged as: Linux Musikk English

Portrait of a Turkish Family - Irfan Orga

Jeg var en snartur innom den eneste engelskspråklige bokhandelen jeg fant i Istanbul i sommer. Det viste seg fort at de kun hadde bøker om Tyrkia og tyrkisk kultur, så jeg var egentlig på vei til å snu i døra da jeg ble overfalt av bokhandleren. Ikke det at jeg har noe voldsomt imot å lese om Tyrkia, jeg var tross alt i Istanbul, men jeg var på jakt etter en roman, så jeg bestemte meg for å heller kjøpe en bok i neste by. Men, så var det denne bokhandleren, da — han hadde åpenbart solgt bøker til utlendinger før og kunne vise fram en hel perm med eposter og takkebrev fra fornøyde kunder. Han simpelthen bare måtte selge på meg en bok av den tyrkiske forfatteren Irfan Orga som han lovet ville være den beste boka jeg noensinne ville lese. Så, jeg bukket under som sikkert mange hadde gjort før meg og kjøpte boka, men fikk ikke lest den på reisen og siden ble den glemt — frem til nå i jula.

Portrait of a Turkish Family er selvbiografien til den tyrkiske forfatteren Irfan Orga. Den ble originalt utgitt på engelsk, ettersom Orga flyttet til London i voksen alder, og ble en stor salgssuksess i England da den kom ut i 1950. Selve boka beskriver livet til Orga fra han ble født i 1908 og cirka fram til annen verdenskrig. Historien begynner med et ubekymret overklasseliv i sultanens Istanbul og går via første verdenskrig og fattigdom til det moderne Tyrkia under Atatürk. Orga er en mester i å beskrive miljøet, folkene og stemningen i byen han elsker, Istanbul. Det er flotte beskrivelser av overklasselivet med sommerferier og bading i Bosporos og hvordan alt kan snu når Tyrkia går inn i første verdenskrig på Tysklands side og matmangelen plutselig er det eneste folk bryr seg om.

Portrait of a Turkish Family gir i tillegg til å være god lesing også innsikt i Istanbul og Tyrkias nære historie slik den ble opplevd gjennom øynene til forfatteren. Det er en varm og god bok med så gode stemningsbeskrivelser at jeg har lyst til å reise tilbake til Istanbul igjen snart. Jeg måtte kikke innom Wikipedias artikkel om Istanbul når jeg skrev dette og ser jo at det er masse jeg ikke fikk sett den første gangen. Definitivt anbefalt, både boka og byen, gjerne i kombinasjon, men les boka først og dra etterpå så slipper du å ville tilbake igjen med en gang ;-)

Istanbul

Bosporos, fra Istanbul

Tagged as: Bøker Irfan Orga Istanbul Tur