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Disappointing Song July 11, 2006

Posted by thebeam in The Highways.
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I finished reading Song of Susannah a few days ago (book VI of the Dark Tower) and must admit that I was disappointed. At 544 pages, it should have seemed longer, but I felt that I had been ripped off by the lack of narrative/story when compared to the wealth offered in the pages of Wolves of the Calla.

Maybe my disappointment comes from the (seemingly) way that King is bringing the tale to a close. I haven’t read the last book of the series (and please don’t tell me how it goes) but when King brought himself into the book as a character for the better part of a hundred pages, I was struggling with the uneasy feeling that he was trying to prematurely kill off an story-arc that had grown too big for him to handle.

For the last 15 years or so, the weaving of his Dark Tower arc through most of his stories has been a constant. Whether it was the “Low Men in Yellow Coats” of Hearts In Atlantis, or “The Turtle” that makes an appearance in It, the points of common connection are there. Even in stories that have no common references, the theme watches over the reader, or at least so it has felt to me for quite some time now.

As a palliative, I’ve gone back to The Talisman and am now about 80% of the way through it’s sequel, Black House. The familiar beckons, the doorways beckon, all is well.

I hope I’m premature in feeling that the end of The Tower is in sight.

Life and Hearts is in session. Are you ready to “Hunt the bitch?”

The Spaces In Between June 5, 2006

Posted by thebeam in The Byways.
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I'm back to listening to various versions of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" (Thankya Sai, I Say Hallelujah) again, ruminating on what each version has to offer. Since I wrote the original post, I've added another version to my collection, this one by John Cale. Not to disparage him, but truthfully, he missed something when he sang this version. He missed the element of silence.
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Quantum Excellence May 6, 2006

Posted by thebeam in The Byways.
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Quantum Excellence – literally, “a fundamental measure of excellence.” Where do we find those writers who have shown this measure?

Outside of the list of popular best selling authors, there lies another world of literary excellence. Those are the authors whose whose works populate only small regions of the bookshelves of the stores, but populate large regions of imagination, regions which are the fertile soil that good authors draw upon for inspiration. A good place to find them is by looking at those writers who have won awards from their peers in their respective literary niches.

Dan Simmons is one of those authors. Winner of the 1990 Hugo Award for Best Novel with his stunning novel Hyperion (which also won that year’s Locus Award) he recently earned another Locus Award for one of his latest novels, Illium – making him one of the top recipients of the Locus Awards, 12 to-date. Just behind Harlan Ellison and Ursula K. Le Guin in the number of Locus Awards that he could brag about; but I doubt that he does, he probably wouldn’t waste the time.

I first found his works with a particularly disquieting novel, Song of Kali, which won the 1986 World Fantasy Award. Out of the gate, he was writing at world class levels. Currently out of print, it has been years since I read the novel, which I only remember dimly, but I do remember the particular sensation of having my skin crawl and my stomach heave. For a horror novel, those are surely hallmarks of success.

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Thankya Sai, I say Hallelujah April 29, 2006

Posted by thebeam in The Byways, The Highways.
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Moved to Going My Way, please visit there 🙂

The Concrete Gorge? February 7, 2006

Posted by thebeam in The Byways.
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Our relationship with the minerals from the Earth may define both the start, and the end, of our dominion over the Earth. Maybe it is fitting that the Olduvai Gorge can be found at both limits. Such is destiny.

Back in 1959, Mary and Louis Leakey were excavating anthropological sites in a region of Tanzania called “The Olduvai Gorge”. By digging through the volcanic ash strata, they uncovered some of the oldest traces of man’s existence on Earth. Along with fossil remains for various hominids (representatives of the species Proconsul , Australopithecus/Paranthropus and Homo) they also came across some worked stone and the associated chips that demonstrated that these ‘men’ had made the great leap that placed them firmly in modern history.

What the Leakeys had discovered were the tools for shaping our environment.

Scientists have long argued that one of the milestones that marked the ascent of Man from his ancestors was the use of tools. Our puny bodies were no match in any number of physical traits that the animals around us possessed. And ‘thinking great thoughts’ didn’t put food on the table, nor hold back the cold. But by using tools, we were able to gain the critical advantage that allowed us to rise to the top of the heap.

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You found her! February 6, 2006

Posted by thebeam in The Byways.
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Welcome to Hunting the bitch. At it’s heart, this will be the world viewed with Stephen King colored glasses. I’m going to go about this the long way at times, with science, politics, sex and religion all fair game. Don’t be surprised if somewhere along the way you have to put on a propeller beanie, get out the slip-stick, down some Jolt, and start to think geek.