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one cup of coffee into the day

That was an evening well spent. Got over to Mark's place in Reston, hung out, did steakage, and talked for hours about books and movies and family and Balticon and Battlestar Galactica, which is evidently all kinds of awesome. Got home horribly late and for some reason did not go to bed immediately; stayed up until 0200 reading through various Wikipedia entries triggered by the entry on Qwghlm. I am moderately tempted to attend Balticon, since Mark and Paul will both be there, and possibly some other acquaintances of mine that I haven't seen in a decade or two; on the one hand, Connie Willis is the GoH, but on the other, the main hotel is sold out and the nearest Days Inn is about three miles down the road. On the other tentacle, I do have a free day coming to me from TripRewards. I have a month to think about it, so there's no hurry.

I expect to spend most of the day in a horizontal position; my legs are not looking good and I find myself having to change bandages twice a day to keep up with the drainage. Also, the left leg is showing troubling signs of erupting into a drainage zone as well. Good thing I'll be back with Kaiser this week or next. Meanwhile, I do need to get laundry done for tomorrow.


Look to Windward has things in common with Consider Phlebas, to which it's somewhat of a sequel, but it takes place long after the end of the Culture-Idiran War (in some parts of the novel, quite a bit after) and deals with an agent of the Chelgrian government who is sent to a Culture Orbital ostensibly to secure the return of a Chelgrian composer from his self-imposed exile. Of course, since this is an Iain Banks novel, nothing is quite what it seems, and following the many twists and turns in the plot is 90% of the fun. Recommended.

I wasn't expecting to like Quicksilver, but I have to say that I've fallen in love with the way Neal Stephenson writes, and his depictions of characters both historical and fictional in the wake of the Thirty Years War are most excellent. As usual in a Stephenson novel, there are several stories going on here, most of them involving the ancestors of characters seen in Cryptonomicon: for example, Daniel Waterhouse, the protagonist of the first and third segments of the novel, who finds himself in the perennially awkward position of being the son of noted Dissenter Drake Waterhouse, on the periphery of the Royal Society, and also slowly gravitating to the heights of power in the English government. We also meet Bob and Jack Shaftoe, vagabonds who become 1) a sergeant in the regiment of John Churchilll, who will eventually become the Duke of Marlborough, and 2) the King of the Vagabonds, l'Emmerdeur, who travels to the Siege of Vienna and hooks up with Eliza, a slave from Qwghlm by way of Constantinople who winds up playing double agent for Louis XIV and William of Orange while Jack ends up as a galley slave for the Barbary Pirates as the result of an ill-starred slaving expedition. AND I AM NOT EVEN COVERING 10% OF WHAT GOES ON HERE. Read this book, to say nothing of its sequels The Confusion and The System of the World. It is as good a primer as you'll ever see for explaining what the hell was going on in Western Europe (especially in England, France and the Netherlands) in the 17th century, to say nothing of the Enlightenment and divers other fascinating parts of History that made the world what it is today, and hella entertaining besides.