The Songs of Distant Earth (Arthur C.Clarke)

A wonderful novel, it tells the story of a star ship that leaves a dieing earth behind to continue human life on a new planet around a different sun. On the way they stop at a planet to make repairs and discover that human life is already there. There is a lovely part about how the ‘president’ of the planet is chosen not by volunteering and asking for votes, but by random choice. The theory being that anyone who wants to be president would automatically be a bad choice. There are other interesting ideas and theories set out in the book, all plausible if not actually (yet) possible. I love also the way Arthur C Clarke uses and creates language, once you’ve read this book you’ll understand why I can use “Kumar’s Kayak” as a metaphor for this web site 😉

Blast from the past!

i-4d2d2d1c7f6940bd305adac20b78a6ce-ski.jpgJust heard from an old friend called Adam. We met some 15 years ago at Chatham Ski Centre. A group of blind skiiers were looking for guides so I volunteered (and ended up managing the log book of available guides for when someone wanted to go skiing). We’ve booked a ski session for a few weeks time. Adam is totally blind so my job as a guide is to shout “left” and “Right” at the appropriate time so he stays on the slope and doesn’t bump into anyone.

A Dawn Like Thunder (Douglas Reeman)

I saw this in the second hand bookshop and it brought back memories of when I was growing up. Douglas Reeman has writen a lot of fiction about the Navy in World War 2 and I remember reading abridged versions of them in Readers Digests compendiums (the consolidated 4 books in to one slightly larger volume).

I actually found this one quite hard to read. Perhaps it was because I’ve got two books on the go at the moment but I often lost track of which character was which. The story line was good and I found myself picturing with ease the circumstances and surroundings the characters were living through. I don’t think this is a book that will leave you feeling happy at the end, but then I don’t think any book with a wartime theme will – in war, heros and villains die alike.

Issac Assimov's Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation

Consuming many hours of my time lately has been a science fiction series written by Issac Assimov. I picked the books up for a few pounds in second hand bookshop and the thing that convinced me to buy was a preface in one written by Arthur C Clarke. I’d been reading and enjoying a lot of his work and the preface was complimentary of Assimov.

They’re fantastic! I’ve bought some more of his books now (also from the second hand bookshop) and have my eye on a couple of others. Amazon have a system where people can sell second hand books too and I think I may well buy the ones I can’t find in the local second hand bookshop.

The Foundation stories cover several centuries from the Fall of an empire that spanned the Galaxy to the rise of it’s replacement. All based around a theory that one man in the start of the story had that the actions of groups of people can be accurately predicted (whereas the actions of an individual are more unpredictable). He forecast the fall of the empire, and then put in place things to replace the fallen empire with a new empire as soon as possible, hopefully preventing the loss of knowledge and technology and turning the possible 30,000 year galactic dark ages into a period of just 1,000 years. The story is addictive and quite unpredictable. I’ve found many stories seem to come to a conclusion to soon and I want them to continue, I think this is one of the first series I’ve read where that hasn’t been an issue. By the way, read them in the order “Foundation”, “Foundation and Empire”, “Second Foundation”.

Boot from DVD (bios setting)

I’ve been trying to install Fedora from DVD but couldn’t get the machine to read the DVD when it booted. I kept thinking it was a BIOS setting I had wrong (I could only choose ‘CD’ as a boot option). Eventually, I tried a bootable CD and that wouldn’t work either. The problem all along was that I had the DVD set as ‘cable select’ (and it selected itself as slave which may not have helped). When I changed the jumper to ‘Master’ I could boot from CD’s and DVD’s. I never found the answer when googling so I post this here in case it helps someone else.