The Martian by Andy Weir

Like most readers I have a long to-read-list, but sometimes a book comes along and just elbows it’s way to the front of the line. That happened this week with The Martian.

I always look at the Big Ideas guest posts at John Scalzi’s blog Whatever. In these posts other authors gets a cance to introduce their book and write about the process of writing it. This usually makes for interesting reading whether I’m particularly inclined to read the book or not, and sometimes I find a book there that I have to read right NOW. I was really intrigued to read what Andy Weir wrote about his book The Martian and, after checking Goodreads and finding that most readers liked it, I bought it on Amazon and started reading.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I really, really liked this book.

Mark is believable as an astronaut. He’s resourceful and not inclined to panic in a crisis. Before reading the book it seemed to me that the people who didn’t like it wanted Mark to spend more time thinking (or at least logging his thinking) about his family and friends, and generally being more miserable than he seems in the book. I’m glad he isn’t like that. I don’t think that wallowing in sentimentality would Mark any good in his situation. Nor do I think that being the sort of person who did that would be something that made him very likely to be chosen to go on a mission to Mars. Resourceful, extremely competent and calm in a crisis is much more how I perceive real astronauts. Mark fits the bill.

Most of the books is Mark’s journal, but there are also chapters from NASA who are working frantically to get him some help (as soon as they know he’s alive) and from the mission’s space ship both while the other astronauts thinks that Mark is dead and after they learn that he was left behind alive. This adds hugely to the story, just having Mark’s voice would make this a much less interesting and compelling read.

Andy Weir wanted this book to describe a plausible scenario and all the science to check out. I can’t vouch for the science, but to me it seems that he’s gotten most of the stuff right. That is cool!

And it’s a very, very exciting book too. One of the can’t-put-it-down reads, one of the books that had me eating dinner with one hand while holding the book in the other. Kristin more or less gave up talking to me while I was reading it.

I recommend it to everyone who likes exciting, plausible science fiction with a truly likeable and resourceful main character.

En mann ved navn Ove av Fredrik Backman

I fjor ein gong kjøpte biblioteket mitt inn En mann ved navn Ove av Fredrik Backman. Den blei raskt lånt ut til ein av lærarane og sidan fulgte det fleire månader der eg aldri såg boka. Det eg derimot fekk var fleire konversasjonar av følgande slag:

Lærar: “Du, den Ove-boka, eg har lånt den vidare til xxxxxx. Er det greit?”
BibliotekarEva: “Ja, det går fint, eg skal registrere den over på xxxxxx eg.”
Lærar: “Har du lest den?”
BibliotekareEva: “Nei, men den er på lista. Skal lese den når eg ser den igjen på biblioteket.”
Lærar: “Ja, det må du!”

Og til slutt vart det min tur og.

OvebokaOve er 59 år. Han kjører Saab. Til tross for at han ble sparket som styreleder i borettslaget for flere år siden (i det som Ove selv bare omtaler som «statskuppet»), klarer han ikke å la være å blande seg inn. Han sjekker at alt er på stell, og at ingen bryter reglene. Men når de nyinnflyttede naboene i rekkehuset midt imot er så uheldige å ødelegge Oves postkasse, blir det opptakten til en humoristisk og hjertevarm historie om rufsete katter, uventet vennskap – og kunsten å rygge med tilhenger. Det som skjer, kommer til å forandre en mann og et borettslag for alltid. En roman om kjærlighet, skikkelig verktøy og betydningen av alltid å kjøre Saab.

Eg forstår kvifor beskjeden om at eg måtte lese denne boka følgte meg heile hausten. Dette er ei sånn feelgood-bok som får deg til å både felle tårer og le høgt på samme sida, gjerne i samme setning. Eg endte opp med å bli svært så glad i både Ove og naboane hans, og ser at bakom ein ilter fasade kan det bu eit svært så stort hjerte.

Elles så har eg ikkje tenkt å seie så mykje om kva som skjer i boka, men absolutt alt på bokforsida er relevant.

Så, eg syns som lærarane på Katten: Alle burde lese En mann ved navn Ove.

Eg ser alt fram til Mormor hilser og sier unnskyld som kjem ut på norsk litt seinare i februar og eg anbefalar også alle å følge med på Fredrik sin blogg: “Fredrik Backman : Någons man. Någons pappa. Någons granne. Allas problem.

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is in trouble again! Well, when is he not?

After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?

Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…

His soul.

I have been a fan of Harry Dresden for a long time, I think it’s some kind of curse.
Or maybe it’s just that Jim Butcher manages to keep the stories interesting, leading us further and further into his very, very intricate, dangerous and scheeming-like-no-one-else fairie world. Chicago isn’t bad either, but much less of a player than in the earlier books.

There are lots of things in this book that ought to irritate me even more than they doo. Too much telling instead of showing, too many references to the earlier books for someone new to the series to understand what goes on, and why does it have to be so overly sex fixated all the time. I also wish that Harry would get his love life sorted out, it’s frustrating for both him, her and the reader. Oh, and Harry’s cat isn’t in the book, I miss his cat. (So does Harry).

I still love the book. I like that Harry, the rest of the cast and the world is ever evolving. I like that it’s almost non-stop action, even though they get a few 5 minute breaks here and there. I absolutely love that for the first time I really feel that Harry and Thomas are brothers (among other things there’s the reference to throwing each other in the lake, in my book a mandatory thing to have done to your siblings). I also like that the faerie world is expanding, extra layers being thrown in, new players turning up and some truly horrendous new adversaries for Harry to meet.

I wouldn’t recommend anyone to start the series with this book, but the series as a whole I recommend a lot for lovers of urban fantasy and witty lines.

The next book in the series, Skin Deep, will be out on May 27th. I’ve already pre-ordered it.

Yeah, a curse, it must be a curse.

Sunday Stills – Bad Weather

I’m a bit of an on again/off again contributor to Sunday Stills. This week I’m on again with a few wet cell phone pictures.
The first from a rainy day in August and the second from an even wetter day in November. In November there were mud slides and water filled basements all over the place after a day of almost record breaking rains.

Driving down the hill.....or floating?

Driving down the hill…..or floating?

Wading home from the bus.

Wading home from the bus.


Vindeltorn av Tone Almhjell

Vindeltorn gav me i gåve til ei av niesene våre før jul. Eit par dagar etter fekk me litt godmodig kjeft for å ha gitt henne ei bok som var så spennande at ho ikkje kunne legge den frå seg. Så snart tøtto var ferdig med boka fekk tanto låne den tilbake, til stor irritasjon for vetlatøtto sin bror som plutseleg oppdaga at han måtte vente med lesinga.

Noe er galt i det gamle huset familien til Lin har leid, det er hun sikker på. Klokkene tikker for sakte. Rosebedet er dekket av rim, selv i øsende regnvær. Og når en mystisk nøkkel merket «Vindeltorn» dukker opp, finner Lin en sprekk i kjellerveggen. En portal til en verden ved navn Sylver.

I dette snødekte riket bor alle døde dyr som en gang har elsket et barn. Lin blir til sin store glede gjenforent med Rufus, kjæledyret hun begravde under rosebusken. Men sammen må de finne den forsvunne Vinterfyrsten hvis de skal redde Sylver fra undergang.

De er ikke de eneste som jakter på gutten denne natten. I mørket lurer en mann med skyggemunn, klar til å sette klørne i den aller siste Vinterfyrste.

Og nieso vår hadde rett. Dette er ei veldig spennande og velskriven bok. Den er nok berekna på eit litt yngre publikum enn t.d. Odinsbarn som eg las for ei tid sidan, men eg trur likevel den kan ha stor apell for litt eldre ungdom og. 13-åringen og 15-åringen i vår familie klaga iallfall ikkje over at det var for barnsleg.

Tone Almhjell har bygd opp eit interessant parallellunivers bedyra av både gode og vonde tidlegare kjæledyr. Ho har også skrive ein spennande og litt uforutsigbar handling. Det er alltid godt med ei bok som overraskar litt.

Boka er avslutta slik at det er godt mulig å lage ei fortsetjing om det er det forfattaren ønskjer, men det står og godt på eigne bein og krev absolutt ikkje noko direkte framhald. Dersom dette blir ein serie så ser eg fram til å lære meir om andre delar av Sylver.

Eg koste meg som sagt voldsomt med boka og anbefalar den gjerne til både store og små.

Elles så koste eg meg også med å høyre Tone Almhjell diskutere norsk fantasy med Kristine Tofte og Tonje Tornes på Litteraturhuset i Bergen. Eg håpar dei og Siri Pettersen (forfattar av Odinsbarn) kan inspirere endå fleire norske forfattarar til å skrive fabelprosa, og då gjerne også science fiction.

Vi snakkar om norsk fabelprosa!!!!!

Let’s pretend this never happened

I might be able to pretend that certain things have never happened. But, that I’ve read this book will never make that particular list.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

If I’d ever thought my own upbringing was particularly traumatic I would have stood corrected after reading this book. I never had to face a Stanley, altthough a few taxidermied animals were present.

This is funny, and irreverent, and rash, and loving and so not for people who are easily offended. She writes “fuck” more often than anyone I’ve ever read, and she has me laughing all the time.

Jenny Lawson has issues. She can put a lot of the alphabet after her name, like OCD, ADD, rheumatoid arthritis and more. The book has them all, but the author never goes out to make you feel sorry for her for all of this. Instead she lets you in on the absurdity of it all as well as both the good and the bad.

I also love her discussions with her husband Victor. My discussions with my wife, although we sometimes feel we come from different planets too, aren’t half as hilarious as the ones Jenny and Victor have. Still, I have explained to Kristin that Jesus was totally a zombie.

So, if you love life’s absurdities and isn’t too easily offended, this is a book for you.

Jenny has a quote from Neil Gaiman on her blog (The Bloggess), which I think sums it up quite nicely. Oh, and you should read the blog too.

“The Bloggess writes stuff that actually is laugh-out-loud, but you know that really you shouldn’t be laughing and probably you’ll go to hell for laughing, so maybe you shouldn’t read it. That would be safer and wiser.”
-Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman, Stardust, American Gods and Coraline

Farvel til Jon Bing

AzurDet var med tungt hjarte eg i går las at Jon Bing er død.

Jon Bing sin serie om bibliotekstjerneskipet Alexandria gav meg mine første og største bibliotekarheltar og ein evig draum om eit bibliotek mellom stjernene. Serien Blindpassasjer som han og Tor Åge Bringsværd stod bak på NRK skremte vettet av meg og fascinerte meg på ein gong. Han var forfattaren som stod bak nokre av mine første treff med det som framleis er favorittsjangeren min, og gjorde i lag med Tor Åge Bringsværd og Gyldendal forlag meg og mange andre ei stor tjeneste ved å gje ut serien Lanterne science fiction på 70-talet.

Også seinare var Jon Bing ein mann det alltid var verd å lytte til og lese der han uttalte seg om IT, samfunn og bibliotek.

Tusen takk, Jon Bing.


PS! Det er absolutt verd å lese kva Eirik Newth skriv om Jon Bing i Aftenposten i dag.


Stormfulle høyder

neidå, ikkje Emily Brontë sine stormfulle høgder, Selma Lønning Aarø sine.

Denne boka borrer dypt i de klassiske scener som ektepar og kjærester spiller ut for hverandre dag etter dag. Dramatikken kan ofte være voldsom og innlevelsen inderlig, noen ganger er det uklart om det er komedie eller tragedie. Vi følger kjernefamiliens komplikasjoner under ferieturen, et forsøk på fårikålshopping på et storsenter, en bryllupsdagsfeiring med ny vri og soppturer med ukjente risikofaktorer og mye, mye mer.

Det tar nokre gonger fleire år frå ei bok blir utgitt til eg i det heile tatt oppdagar at den eksisterer. Slik var det med denne boka. Men, når eg no endeleg oppdaga den, så har eg hatt det veldig morsomt saman med den, Selma og hennar ektemann. Foreldra hennar er også innom innimellom. For ikkje å snakke om Brann.

Kristin las også boka og datt nesten ut av sofaen under latterutbrudda. Eg har ikkje ledd like mykje som henne, men til gjengjeld humra (ok, då…fnist) masse.

Så er du på jakt etter ei kort, humoristisk og lettlest bok med meir eller mindre absurde scener frå eit samliv? Då er dette ei aktuell bok for deg.