Monday, January 29, 2007


Not Wanted on the Voyage

Not really sure what to say about this book. It's a book that I'd heard was good from a few people, so I thought I'd give it a try. But my basic summary of the book was really encapsulated by the following email that I sent to one of the people who said the book was good (note: spoilers ahead!):

Since you seemed enjoy Not Wanted on the Voyage (at least based on your comment on my blog), I was hoping you could tell me wtf I was supposed to get out of it. I mean, it was entertaining and I especially liked the cat, but wtf? Noah was a terrible person and we have no unicorns because he used the unicorn to rape his 12-year-old daughter-in-law? Noah's wife (who, as far as I can tell didn't have a first name), was an alcoholic, but she liked sheep?
I'll update this posting if I get an answer explaining whatever it is that missing about this book.

As for quotations, there was really only one thing in the whole book that stood out to me - a description of the ark:
I even tried Googling "Not Wanted on The Voyage" to see if anyone had explained what the point was, but came up with nothing. No one seemed better able to describe the point, although there was a lot of "it's magical" and suchlike.

Oh ya, did I mention that I liked the cat?

Findley, Timothy. Not Wanted on the Voyage. Toronto: Penguin, 1996


Thursday, January 18, 2007


The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

  • "The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." (p. 1)

  • "Like all Vogon ships it looked as if it had been not so much designed as congealed." (p. 3)

  • "I'm Zaphod Beeblebrox, my father was Zaphod Beeblebrox the Second, my grandfather was Zaphod Beeblebrox the Third..."


    "There was an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine.
    " (pp.14-15)

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "has long supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least widely inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper, and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC printed in large, friendly letters on its cover." (p. 26) - other than that last sentence, this is a pretty good description of the internets.

  • "The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate." (p. 30)

  • "The Universe, it has been observed before, is an unsettlingly big place, a fact which for the sake of a quiet life most people tend to ignore.

    Many would happily move to somewhere rather smaller of their own devising, and this is what most beings in fact do.

    For instance, in one corner of the Eastern Galactic Arm lies the large forest planet Oglaroon, the entire 'intelligent' population of which lives permenantly in one fairly small and crowded nut tree. In which tree they are born, live, fall in love, carve tiny speculative articles in the bark about the meaning of life, the futility of death and the importance of birth control, fight a few minor wars, and eventually die strapped to the underside of some of the less accessible outer branches.

    In fact the only Oglaroonians who ever leave their tree are those who are hurled out of it for the heinous crime of wondering whether the other trees are capable of supporting life at all, or indeed whether the other trees are anything other than illusions brought on by eating too many Oglanuts.

    Exotic though this behaviour may seem, there is no life form in the galaxy which is not in some way guilty of the same thing, which is why the Total Perspective Vortex is as horrific as it is." (p. 56)

  • For when you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little mark, a tiny dot, which says, 'You are here.'" (p. 56-57)

  • a mind, which has been separated from its body, discussing his situation: "We never seemed to be happy doing the same things. We always had the greatest arguments over sex and fishing. Eventually we tried to combine the two, but that only lead to disaster, as you can imagine." (p. 58)

  • "The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically to annoy his wife." (p. 62)

  • [Zaphod] "was clearly a man of many qualities, even if they were mostly bad ones." (p. 62)

  • "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is one of the most extraordinary ventures in the entire history of catering. It has been built on the fragmented remains of... it will be built on the fragmented... that is to say it will have been built by this time, and indeed has been --

    One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of accidentally becoming your own father or mother. There is no problem involved in becoming your own father or mother that a broadminded and well-adjusted family can't cope with. There is also no problem about changing the course of history -- the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw. All the imporant changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.

    The major problem is quite simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this matter is Dr Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveller's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations. It will tell you for instance how to describe something that was about to happen to you in the past before you avoided it by time-jumping forward two days in order to avoid it. The event will be described differently acccording to whether you are talking about it from the standpoint of your own natural time, from a time in the further future, or a time in the further past and is further complicated by the possibility of conducting conversations whilst you are actually traveling from one time to another with the intention of becoming your own mother or father.

    Most readers get as far as the Future Semi-Conditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up: and in fact in later editions of the book all pages beyond this point have been left blank to save on printing costs

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy skips lightly over this tangle of academic abstraction, pausing only to note that the term "Future Perfect" has been abandoned since it was discovered not to be.
    " (p. ?) - I <3>

  • "He's spending the year dead for tax reasons." (p. 91)

  • "The Universe as we know it has now been in existence for over one hundred and seventy million billion years and will be ending in a little over a half an hour." (p. 92)

  • "I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?... Something off the shoulder perhaps, braised in a white wine sauce?"(p. 94) - The cow that was engineered to want to be eaten, so that meat eaters wouldn't have to feel guilty! Too funny!

  • "I'm a pretty dangerous dude when I'm cornored.

    "Yeah," said a voice from under the table, "You go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel.
    " (p. 103) - This line reminds me of Stupid Friend Paul.

  • "It is worth repeating at this point the theories that Ford had comeup with, on his first encounter with human beings, to account for their peculaiar habit of continually stating and restating the very very obvious, as in 'It's a nice day,' or "You're very tall,' or 'So this is it, we're going to die." (p. 128) - Or "Did you know that you are really short?"

  • "'Ford,' he said, 'how many escape capsules are there?'

    'None,' said Ford.

    Zaphod gibbered. "Did you count

    'Twice,' said Ford
    .'" (p. 130)

  • "'Where,' said Ford Prefect quietly, 'does it say teleport?'

    'Well, just over here, in fact,' said Arthur, pointing at a dark control box in the rear of the cabin, 'Just under the word "emergency", above the word, "system" and beside the sign saying "out of order".
    '" (p. 131)

  • "Arthur woke up and instantly regretted it." (p. 134) - oh, I've had days like that

  • "The first thing that hit their eyes was what appeared to be a coffin. And the next four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine things that hit their eyes were also coffins." (p. 139)

  • "Number Two's eyes narrowed and became what are known in the Shouting and Killing People trade as cold slits, the idea presumably being to give your opponent the impression that you have lost your glasses or are having difficulty keeping awake. Why this is frightening is an, as yet, unresolved problem." (p. 147)

  • "The major problem -- one of the major problems, for their are several -- one of the many major problems with govering people is that of who you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

    To summarize: it is a well-known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

    And so this is the situation we find: a succession of Galactic Presidents who so much enjoy the fun and palaver of being in power that they very rarely notice that they're not." (p. 160)

  • "... five hundred and seventy-three committee meetings and you havne't even discovered fire yet?" (p. 182) - oh, I've had meetings like that!

  • "Come and join us, I'm Ford, this is Arthur. We were just about to do nothing at all for a while, but it can wait." (p. 199)

Adams, Douglas. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. London : Pan, 1980.

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The Stranger

I quite enjoyed this book. It's the first Camus I've read (I've read about Camus, but never read any of his actual writing before). There is not much in the way of quotations that I can really extract from this book, because of the style in which it is written (of course, it is a translation from the original French, but apparently the translator took pains to maintain the orginal style as much as possible). You really just need to read the whole book to appreciate it and so I can't just extract a bunch of quotations the way I usually do (there were a few, just not any many as say, all the Douglas Adams books I've been reading of late... Adams and Camus both do wonderful things with language, just in totally different ways)..

There was a lengthy introduction to the book explaining what you are supposed to be getting out of it. I'm always hesitant about whether to read these before or after I read a book - should I just read the book itself and appreciate it on its own merits before I read what others think of it? Or should I read the introduction first so that I am thinking about things that it might be good for me to be aware of while I read it (rather than reading the book, reading the intro and then needing to read the book all over again to pick up on all the stuff I missed the first time through). In this case, I chose to read the introduction first and there were a few interesting points in there that I felt were worth recording:

And now a few quotations from the novel itself:

According to Wikipedia, that vast repository of all the knowledge in the world, The Stranger is a book that George W. Bush was yammering on about having read and then having discussed the origins of existentialism. And Jon Stewart deftly pointed out the humour of Bush "reading a book about a westerner killing an Arab and feeling no remorse." You go Jon!

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Trans. Stuart Gilbert. New York, A. A. Knopf, 1946.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Life, the Universe and Everything

Adams, Douglas. Life, the universe, and everything. New York : Harmony Books, 1982.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007


So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish

In my continuing quest to put up my favourite bits of the Hitchhiker's "triology" in reverse order, here are my fav quotations from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish:

Adams, Douglas. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. New York : Harmony Books, 1984.

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