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The Lost City of Z tells the story, simultaneously, of both Colonel Fawcett's expedition in the 1920's to find the fabled city of El Dorado in the Amazon, and the author's attempts to find out what happened to Fawcett, one of the greatest explorers of the age, who disappeared along with his son and his son's best friend, who had both gone along for the ride, so to speak.

The book paints a fascinating picture of the whole pursuit of knowledge thing that was going on at the time (late 19th, early 20th Century), and you really do marvel at the feats accomplished. At the same time, there's a certain cold-bloodedness inherent in the way that the explorers seemed to view their entourages as expendables during the course of their journeys, simply accepting that loss of life was the cost of increased knowledge of what lay in the blank areas of the maps.

Anyway, having given us a potted history of Fawcett's accomplishments, the narrative also tries to paint the backdrop to Fawcett's developing obsession over the Lost City of Z, and in so doing also explains how against the backdrop of such miraculous technologies as radio and phonographs, people's credibility with regard to mediums, the supernatural and the mystic also increased, even amongst such people as the rationalists as trained by the Royal Geographic Society.

The Lost City would prove Fawcett's undoing... or at least, it'd prove to be the cause of his disappearance. Grann, some 80 years later, does a fair bit of research to try and find out what path Fawcett would've taken (the explorers at the time guarded such information jealously, so as not to lose discoveries to rivals), in an attempt to piece together the party's fate.

And the explanation that he arrives at seems pretty credible. And also bittersweet.

Good book.
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Day off tomorrow. Serious w00tage imminent... I kinda feel like I need the break.

Currently listening to Paul and Leo on Windows Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Weekly, which is definitely shaping up to be a good 'un.

Rather oddly, in what could almost be a moment of cross-podcast contamination, Leo's eating the same Chicago sourced brand of popcorn as the guys in FlashForcast.

I finished Haruki Murakami's After Dark, which, on the whole left just about every key issue raised in the book unresolved, although not in an unsatisfying/frustrating way, but more in a kind of reflective manner. I'm not sure I'd rank it as one of his better tomes, although I did like both Mari and Takahashi, and I thought that it caught that 3am feel to the night rather well (in what must've been a nightmare decision for typesetters everywhere, the chapter titles are all times displayed on an analogue clock).

Having failed to resist the urge to succumb to Waterstones' evil '3 for 2' again, I'm now reading (the late) Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was starting off relatively so-so, until Blomkvist is having his conversation with Vanger, and Vanger reveals the real reason he's commissioned him, and I can feel the gravity starting to suck me in.

Mali and I are just back in from the post-dropping-P-off-at-The-Farm walk - we went for a good hour or so, up and down the Avenues, and he's now curled contentedly up on his chair, looking settled for the evening. There are two other Mali-types about the place - both spaniel/collie crosses, and we met one of them in this morning's walk; 'tis amusing to see how similar their mannerisms are.
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It's the Residents' Association AGM this evening - for the 2008/2009 year; yes, it's a tad late, principally because the initial such was abandoned when hardly anybody turned up. My hopes for a significantly higher turnout today are not that great; once the one-way system had been implemented around the Dukeries, interest in the Residents' Association didn't so much dwindle as collapse.

Somewhat over-busy at work - I do find, though, that in general I'm more productive over here in Work II than in the former location, and that's no bad thing, for sure.

Have made a start on Haruki Murakami's After Dark, which seems pretty good, so far, and has the same feel as Hard Boiled Wonderland, A Wild Sheep Chase and some of the others.

Because I need to remote desktop into work machines from home, and work don't support doing so from within Linux, I've had to install Windows 7 on Ione, the home nettop/pc, which is basically a netbook masquerading as a desktop PC. Work only had the Windows 7 upgrade media - the trick with a clean install, then, is to do an initial clean install from the upgrade disc, but not to type in the product key.

Log into Win 7, then run the installation's Setup from the DVD, to 'upgrade' your Windows 7 installation to, er, Windows 7. And then you put in your product key. So far, this seems to have worked, but I haven't risked online activation yet - I want to see whether Ione actually has enough power to realistically run 7 before committing the product key to it.

ETA: props to [personal profile] glittertine for the linkage, Top Gear S14 Trailer is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D
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So, P and W and I went to see Cirque de Freak: The Vampire's Assistant yesterday - fairly bland fare, to be honest; there are better vampire flicks about, and I think I'll have to dig out The Lost Boys for P soon so that he gets to appreciate the genre a little better.

I've also been lent Glass Houses, Book I of the Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine, which was recommended to me by a colleague - the same colleague, as it happens, who pushed Twiglet on me.

Y'all know about my Sookie thing, and there's always Buffy ticking along in the background. I really ought to re-read Dracula (good, good book), but I'm starting to see Teh Neil's grumble about vampires appearing to be a food group, rather than a spice...
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Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris )
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I made it to the end of The Naked God, and although the third instalment wasn't up to the same standard as parts I & II, it was still a good ride, even if I still don't wholly understand the mechanics of the melange, and how that interfaces with the Confederation Galaxy.

Also, Ione continues to rock, as, indeed, do the voidhawks.

Next book is the inimitable Charlaine Harris' latest Sookie instalment, Dead and Gone, in bookshelf disharmonising hardback. But I will weather the binding discontinuity as best I can in order to devour more Sookie at the earliest opportunity. Not that I'm addicted... I could stop reading Sook any time I wanted to...

I also picked up a Murakami from the library - The Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World was the first of Murakami's books that I read (purchased for the promise of the splendidly surreal title, and it didn't disappoint). Others of his I liked were Dance, Dance, Dance and Wild Sheep Chase, but I didn't get on with Norwegian Wood, and haven't tried the autobiographical running one. Anyway, this latest Murakami I've picked up is After Dark - it's definitely beneath Sookie in The List, but I'll get to it in due course, I'm sure.
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I'm realising that whilst my recollections of instalments I and II of Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn were pretty good, I'm waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off-base with Book III. There's so much that I have absolutely no recollection of I'm beginning to wonder if I actually did read the thing the first time around.

Well, no, I'm not, because I distinctly remember my total Ione/Tranquility!love for their escape, and I remember the machinations of B7 back on Earth and that stuff. But the bit where Joshua's negotiating with the zero-g seahorses had completely slipped my mind.

Still enjoying it, but these are thick books, so a proper review will have to wait a little while longer.

In other book news, I caved, and the hardback Sookie, Dead and Gone arrived in today's post. Guess I'm reading that next :D
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Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld )

Anyway, props to [personal profile] ms_katonic to first linking me to this!
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[livejournal.com profile] brundle has upped sticks to move across to our new accommodation. I'm hoping to move before the end of the week, panic-jobs outstanding willing. A Brave New World beckons, notably one that's at the other end of the grounds to my current position.

Had lunch cake with [personal profile] cynthia_black yesterday at a new(ish, to us) coffee place on Newland, which is a sort of second-hand bookshop/coffee bar. With free wi-fi, too. Definitely the sort of place one could hang out in for a while, but I do wonder whether the economies of this kind of enterprise really work out - can you honestly generate enough income from selling coffee for the relatively small number of tables/chairs to cover rent/staff/materials/wi-fi/overheads for the week? This, alas, is why I'll never be an entrepreneur - too timid to take such risks (and also, too devoid of imagination to come up with such concepts).

Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, ordered on Friday, arrived yesterday - that was speedy service for free delivery! For more YA Steampunk, I've also been pointed at The Hunchback Assignments. But it's Leviathan first.
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Currently reading The Prize by Daniel Yergin, a potted history of the development of oil about the globe. It's a book that keeps on getting referenced by various people as I've maintained this resource depletion kick of mine, and Waterstones had it, so clearly it was destiny that I should so procure.

It's quite good, although it's obviously trying to strike the balance between depth and length, so some of the stuff (particularly about Standard Oil's business practices early on) is rather glossed over (indeed, you almost get the impression that Standard Oil didn't really do anything wrong, when other sources contend that actually they were downright nasty).

Does make me wonder afresh at how dynamic the late C19 and early C20 were - such change, passion and progress. Anyway, that's the book that's currently occupying my evenings at Castle Fox :-)
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I managed to get online on Friday night from Castle Fox, but about five minutes' up-time was all that was available on Saturday before the connection died completely. Telephone line continues to mainly consist of static and yes, I know, I really need to get it seen to. But it won't be this week.

'sides, not spending evenings glued to the PC might not be a bad thing anyway.

P and I saw Hull City sweep aside the mighty Wigan in a crushing, I tell you, crushing 2-1 display of awesome. To be honest, it really didn't look as though Wigan had turned up - they didn't seem that interested in attacking our goal, but we were mightily glad of Geo's goal that put us two clear when Wigan got one back. Injury time was nerve-wracking, accompanied by a deafening howl of the home fans whistling for full-time to be called...

I finished The Reality Dysfunction )
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OotP Ch 38: The Second War Begins )
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OotP Ch 37: The Lost Prophecy )
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[personal profile] cynthia_black wondered about who was allowed to touch the prophecy - it's labelled as (?)Harry Potter, when, as Dumbledore reveals later, it could just as easily have been (?)Neville Longbottom.

But, as we established earlier on in the re-read, Trelawney made the prophecy before either of the boys had been born. So...

...when was the prophecy stored in the glass globe? When was it labelled? If it was labelled after it had been saved, then who was able to touch it to label it? And alright, this is just one prophecy, but it's clear that there are thousands upon thousands of these stored in the Ministry, so the logistics of administration are looking suspiciously non-trivial.
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OotP Ch 35: Beyond the Veil )

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