After I couldn’t sleep any longer, I picked up Thursday Next: First among Sequels and finally finished it. I love the seemingly randomly placed artwork—and especially this poster at the back. Because the idea of the government choosing to use up the “stupidity surplus” by undertaking increasingly expensive and ludicrously useless projects is beautiful satirical farce. And a fun twist on this wartime propaganda poster.
Following are just a few of my favorite made-up words from Lost in a Good Book. As the Goliath Book Rating at the front states, “Made-up words: 44.” I have no idea if there are actually 44 made-up words, but if you count character names, it seems plausible. If I had taken notes while reading this and The Eyre Affair, I would have a lot more of these:
- sprogging time
This is a week of catching up with colleagues and friends, worky-techy events, the aforementioned planning and scheming, and hopefully, snow! Which could interrupt any or all of the above. And my step-kids are going to be so excited if they get their first snow day already.
I’m well into Lost in a Good Book, the 2nd in the Thursday Next series, a completely different sort of time travel book from Blackout and All Clear. These books are much more light, full of clever word play; often silly. But they still have ways of making me think. Lost is all about coincidences:
“‘On the subject of coincidences, Uncle, any thoughts on what they are and how they come about?
‘Well,’ he said thoughtfully, ‘it is my considered opinion that most coincidences are simply quirks of chance—if you extrapolate the bell curve of probability you will find statistical abnormalities that seem unusual but are, in actual fact, quite likely, given the amount of people on the planet and the amount of different things we do in our lives.’
‘I see,’ I replied slowly. ‘That explains things on a minor coincidental level, but what about the bigger coincidences? How high would you rate seven people in a Skyrail shuttle all called Irma Cohen and the clues of a crossword reading out “Meddlesome Thursday goodbye” just before someone tried to kill me?’ …
‘Thursday, think for a moment about the fact that the universe always moves from an ordered state to a disordered one; that a glass may fall to the ground and shatter yet you never see a broken glass reassemble itself and then jump back onto the table. … Every atom of the glass that shattered would contravene no laws of physics if it were to rejoin—on a subatomic level all particle interactions are reversible. Down there we can’t tell which event precedes which. It’s only out here that we can see things age and define a strict direction in which time travels. … That these things don’t happen is because of the second law of thermodynamics, which states that disorder in the universe always increases; the amount of this disorder is a quantity known as entropy.’
‘So,’ I said slowly, ‘What you are saying is that really really weird coincidences are caused by a drop in entropy?’”
‘Exactly so. But it’s only a theory.’
I finished Connie Willis’s All Clear today, the sequel to Blackout. I devoured these books back to back over the last two weeks (that’s 1132 pages) and I’m really going to miss the characters. Normally, I don’t enjoy reading historical fiction about war, but there is something about Willis’ writing that I’m willing to make allowances for. Even though there is much detail included about the types of bombs used on London during the blitz, and many military operations in the surrounding areas and across the years, it’s directly related to the everyday activities of the handful of time-travellers who are involved, so it somehow isn’t too tedious.
I also don’t ordinarily enjoy mysteries, but these books definitely keep you guessing until the very end, leaving clues scattered about across time and characters. An ode, it seems, to Agatha Christie, who has a minor appearance in All Clear and is a favorite author of one of the main characters.
If you want to read a story that explores the question of what each individual’s purpose is in life, and how our actions might affect the rest of the world, then I suggest diving into these novels. My recommendation is to read All Clear immediately after Blackout—as Blackout itself is a sort of cliff-hanger—it’s really like one very long novel that she chose to split in two.
Stayed up super late to finish reading Blackout. I’m glad that I have the sequel (All Clear) to jump right into, because nothing is resolved at the end of the book—it really is a cliffhanger. I don’t usually enjoy reading about war, but I got sucked into this book anyway because I like the author and her time-travel tales. The detail is a bit overwhelming, and I’m sure some of it would make more sense to me if I had a better grasp of WWII history. But because of the length, the character development is good, and I love a book with characters that I can really get to know.