Chasing the squid

On Tuesday, 13 August 2013, I met former co-workers Ken G., Bob R., and Michele & Paul D. for dinner at City Streets in Waltham, Mass. We then went to Lizzy’s Ice Cream on Moody Street for dessert and our latest “Escapists” book club meeting.

We discussed China Mieville’s Kraken, which Bob, Michele, and I liked, but Ken and Paul didn’t. Here’s my Goodreads review of the novel:

KrakenKraken by China Miéville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve enjoyed every China Miéville book I’ve read so far, and Kraken is no exception. Fans of modern urban fantasy will enjoy this look at an alternate London, where apocalyptic cults duel in the shadows and a museum curator stumbles in his flight from inhuman assassins.

Mieville’s social sarcasm, thicket of allusions, and linguistic acrobatics are all present, if somewhat toned down from his other novels. I’d compare Kraken favorably with Gaiman’s American Gods for its mythic lyricism, punctuated by banality and violence. Like any visit to the strange creatures under museum glass, it’s worth a visit, taken with a grain of salt….

View all my reviews

Steam squid
Steampunk squid

I’ve also recently read and enjoyed David Brin’s Existence, which incorporates his optimistic ruminations on the not-too-distant future (a nice counterpoint to the latest wave of dystopias) and serves as sort of a prequel to his excellent “Upliftseries. Like Mieville, he subverts reader expectations but still has faith in our better angels….

Escapists” book club reviews (5 members), 2012 to 2013:

  • American Gods, Neil Gaiman: 3.38 (out of 4.0)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon: 3.28
  • Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut: 2.94
  • World War Z, Max Brooks: 2.02
  • Daytripper, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon: 3.6
  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein: 2.64
  • Kraken, China Mieville: ?
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A week of food

I’m trying to catch up on reading and blogging while I’m between big projects at work, so forgive the somewhat scattered nature of this post.

On Tuesday, 21 August 2012, I met my brother in Boston. It was good to see Peter only a month after spending time with him and the rest of Janice’s and our families in Lake George, N.Y. He was in town for a conference.

We went to the Italian neighborhood of Boston’s North End. Peter and I considered Union Oyster House and Neptune Oyster, but we ended up at Pomodoro, which was small but good. We also grabbed gelato before parting at Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market.

On Wednesday, Aug. 22, I went to my weekly historical weapons class, where we’re still practicing moves for the German longsword. I also went out to lunch last week with co-workers to Habanero’s and Skellig on Waltham’s Moody Street.

On Thursday, Aug. 23, I met former CW co-workers in the “Escapists” book club. We had dinner at P.F. Chang’s in the upscale Natick Mall and discussed Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. I liked the satirical science fiction novel, which was clearly written in the shadow of man’s folly in World War II and the Cold War.

On Saturday, Aug. 25, Janice and I took advantage of the nice weather and went to the annual Marshfield Fair. We enjoyed the agricultural displays and, of course, the fair food. We also caught up on errands.

Closer to home, we’ve gone to pub City Streets and local chains Border Café, Papa Gino’s, and Upper Crust Pizza. While I’ve relaxed my boycott of Upper Crust after its labor problems, another favorite, Chipotle, has gotten into trouble. I also have less reason to go out to Natick when I’m closer to the Burlington Mall.

Coming soon: ParaNorman and genre TV reviews, political positions, and more!