Old house in the woods
'The Librarian knocked his way urgently along the dark aisles between the slumbering bookshelves.
The rooftops of the city belonged to him. Oh, assassins and thieves might make use of them, but he'd long ago found the forest of chimneys, buttresses, gargoyles and weathervanes a convenient and somehow comforting alternative to the streets.
At least, up until now.
It had seemed amusing and instructive to follow the Watch into the Shades, an urban jungle which held no fears for a 300-lb ape. But now the nightmare he had seen while brachiating across a dark alley would, if he had been human, have made him doubt the evidence of his own eyes.
As an ape, he had no doubts whatsoever about his eyes and believed them all the time.
Right now he wanted to concentrate them urgently on a book that might hold a clue. It was in a section no-one bothered which much these days; the books in there were not really magical. Dust lay accusingly on the floor.
Dust with footprints in it.
"Oook?" said the Librarian, in the warm gloom.
He proceeded cautiously now, realizing with a sense of inevitability that the footprints seemed to have the same destination in mind as he did.
He turned a corner and there it was.
There are many horrible sights in the multiverse. Somehow, though, to a soul attuned to the subtle rhythms of a library, there are few worse sights than a hole where a book ought to be.
Someone had stolen a book.'
Not my favourite* in the Discworld but a welcome introduction to Commander Vimes and his band of, well, drunken idiots.
But truly lovable drunken idiots.
The mildly rubbish dragon.
I do love me an unconventional fire-breather.
*I've been assured the next few Guards books are better. In general, the Discworld only truly reaches its full powers a good few books into the series so don't be deterred by the initial stages of its development. Even better, start with a book near the middle - Wyrd Sisters is always my recommendation even though it's actually quite early - behold the glory and mastery of Terry Pratchett and then return to the start.
Meet my belly and general person.
You're gonna be firm friends for the next forever.
I may even wash you.
I will wash you.
But i'll wish i was wearing you while i am.
D'you know what hurts like a mother?
Getting stabbed underneath the fingernail by a splinter.
There was blood, curmudgeonly behaviour, cursing and an elder sister willing to draw a puppy on the injured extremity to mollify the grand huff-monster i was becoming.
And look, he even has a tail.
' "But soon you tire of a beautiful landscape," he said wistfully, setting his glass on the table. "After a while you behold the trees and meadows with sadness and remember how stimulating the view once was. And when you meet a stranger who is obviously passionate about the same landscape you look at him in disbelief and shrug your shoulders and mumble halfhearted agreement before warily wending your way home. Only when a bolt of lightning crashes into a tree and leaves a blemish on the landscape is your previous enthusiasm rekindled, and you bristle with indignation. How dare something so ugly intrude, you think. But the truth is that you have a secret craving for ugliness and devastation, because they teach you to appreciate the scene you have grown bored with." '
(translated by Tom Geddes)
De Sade's Valet
Genuinely all the emotion i can muster for this story.
'Again at night Mason heard the sounds of the approaching sea, the muffled thunder of breakers rolling up the near-by streets. Roused from his sleep, he ran out into the moonlight, where the white-framed houses stood like sepulchres among the washed concrete courts. Two hundred years away the waves plunged and boiled, sluicing in and out across the pavement. Foam seethed through the picket fences, and the broken spray filled the air with the wine-sharp tang of brine.
Off-shore the deeper swells of the open sea rode across the roofs of the submerged houses, the white-caps cleft by isolated chimneys. Leaping back as the cold foam stung his feet, Mason glanced at the house where his wife lay sleeping. Each night the sea moved a few yards nearer, a hissing guillotine across the empty lawns.'
The Disaster Area
(Now Wakes the Sea)
' "The most interesting aspect of the oldest archetypes of the human psyche―the ghost―and the whole supernatural army of phantoms, witches, demons and so on. Are they all, in fact, nothing more than psychoretinal flashbacks, transposed images of the observer himself, jolted on to the retinal screen by fear, bereavement, religious obsession? The most notable thing about the majority of ghosts is how prosaically equipped they are, compared with the elaborate literary productions of the great mystics and dreamers. The nebulous white sheet is probably the observer's own nightgown. It's an interesting field for speculation. For example, take the most famous ghost in literature and reflect how much more sense Hamlet makes if you realize that the ghost of his murdered father is really Hamlet himself." '
- Zone of Terror
' "Tell me, has it ever occurred to you how completely death-orientated the psyche is?"
Morley smiled. "Now and then," he said, wondering where this led.
"It's curious," Lang went on reflectively. "The pleasure-pain principle, the whole survival-compulsion apparatus of sex, the Super-Ego's obsession with tomorrow―most of the time the psyche can't see farther than its own tombstone. Now why has it got this strange fixation? For one very obvious reason." He tapped the air with his forefinger. "Because every night it's given a pretty convincing reminder of the fate in store for it."
"You mean the black hole," Morley, suggested wryly. "Sleep?"
"Exactly. It's simply a pseudo-death. Of course, you're not aware of it, but it must be terrifying." He frowned. "It don't think even Neill realizes that, far from being restful, sleep is a genuinely traumatic experience."
So that's it, Morley thought. The great father analyst has been caught napping on his own couch. He tried to decide which were worse―patients who knew a lot of psychiatry, or those who only knew a little.
"Eliminate sleep," Lang was saying, "and you also eliminate all the fear and defence mechanisms erected round it. Then, at last, the psyche has a chance to orientate towards something more valid."
"Such as . . . ?" Morley asked.
"I don't know. Perhaps . . . Self?" '
- Manhole 69
I can't say i was overly enamoured.
Hence the lack of reviewage.
That and extreme seasonal lethargy.
But, as is always the way with Mr Ballard, i came away with a few key collections of words that oiled the cogs in ye olde brainpan . . . e.
Always a good thing.
My brain is disintegrating.
Someone educate me.
My reviews used to be better.
My brain used to function better.
I'm going to self-diagnose myself with CFS.
It's the only explanation for how much i suck at life these days.
'This fairy tale is like a spell cast in an attempt to disenchant the past. It is an act of creating a new reality in which illusion is the truth.
They say that childhood is a time when one's mind is asleep. Acting as a guide leading my daughter to consciousness I intend to implant in her a belief that “fairy tales are more than real, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they make us realize that they can be conquered.'
The sister also made Gingerbread Yetis*
I've eaten all but the head off one.
It'll be a nice surprise for the next member of the family that's hungry from Yeti blood.
It'll probably be me.
*or Abominable Snowmen if you want to be more seasonally appropriate.
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