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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Critical Thinking: Reviews

Packing for Mars
Mary Roach

In an interview for this book, the author was asked why she writes about such topics as dead people, sex, and poo. She said that somewhere, deep inside her, is a twelve year old boy.

Packing for Mars is about the race for space. And poo. It's about the smell of a space suit after being worn for several hours by a man who hasn't bathed in a week. And poo. About how the Japanese use origami to determine who they will send into space. And poo. And about whether or not sex is even possible in space (results may vary, but straps seem to be essential).

And poo.

No, actually only two chapters are about poo.

I learned a lot by reading James Michener's Space. I learned a lot of other stuff reading Packing for Mars. For one thing, Jim Lovell was amazingly forthcoming about his experiences. Did you know researchers pay people to stay in bed for months to monitor bone deterioration? That scientists on the ground harass astronauts about their dandruff? What exactly happens to poo in zero-gee?

Despite the meals that may one day be designed by dog food companies and the horrible potential for edible jammies, I still want to go. Yeah, I would go to Mars.

And even deal with the poo.

The Very Best of Charles De Lint

Have you ever written something and then found someone else did it so much better you thought about chucking it all in? I actually thought about sending Sinead and Glowfeather to a community of homeless kids in a big city. Mix the magic with the grit and the tragedy.

It's already been done. And far better than I could do.

I don't know why I hadn't discovered De Lint before. I mean, besides the fact I don't read too much fantasy and very little urban fantasy. (Hey! Twilight was research!) I was at B&N the other day and got pulled in by the water color on the cover. Then I saw the stories were a combination of Native American and European fantasy in a modern setting.

This is a collection of short stories picked by the fans. A lot are about an artist named Jilly who refuses to believe she has fairie blood. Another is about pixies who live in the internet--and how to get rid of them. A few are about a sweet couple--a dryad whose tree was killed in a storm and her musician husband who keeps her alive with magic.

I'd already decided I wanted a Kindle for Christmas. (You think I should get a different e-reader? Convince me!) Now I know I need one. I can't fit anymore books in my house, and Charles De Lint has published over fifty.


Major Tom and I went to see Red last night [this was written on Sunday]. It's the one where Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren are ex-agents (CIA and MI-6) who save the world. (John Malkovich is in it, too, but I didn't know if he was an ex-agent or just really paranoid.)

Anyway, it's fabulous. The humor of Die Hard, the action of James Bond, and the awesomeness of Helen Mirren. Can't go wrong.

Kersley Fitzgerald can't believe that this is the first movie she's seen in about a month. She also seriously wants to see Never Let Me Go, but Major Tom was not in the mood for depressing.
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