Monday, March 31, 2014

Neal Stephenson, it's been too long

Two nice fat books for my holidays, William Hague's biography of William Wilberforce, and Neal Stephenson's 2011 offering, Reamde, which itself takes up more than 10% of my baggage allowance on Monarch Air. Stephenson is not, like so many UK-based literati, gloomy, nihilistic, pretentious, obscene and technophobic and his writing is just such a delight.

Here's a random sentence:

'Richard's ex-girlfriends were long gone, but their voices followed him all the time and spoke to him, like Muses or Furies. It was like having seven superegos arranged in a firing squad before a single beleagured id, making sure he didn't enjoy that last cigarette.'

See you in 1042 pages.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Board games

It started when prospective son-in-law bought us Carcassonne, a game about building cities and occupying farmland in medieval France. His family is half German and it seems the Germans are big into board games. (Or, perhaps, into occupying France. Some habits die hard...)

After that came 10 Days Across Asia (competitively plan travel itineraries), and then the start of a board games evening in church where I learnt Ra (gain in political influence over successive Egyptian Dynasties) and The Hunt for Red November (play collaboratively to keep your submarine afloat while it is hit by multiple disasters).

I bought my wife Lost Cities, a game for two based on the simple unfolding of a deck of cards, to while away our evenings as empty-nesters.

And two nights ago we played Puerto Rico (colonize a country by owning plantations and factories) as part of a social evening organized by a club my son is in. Slightly geeky (they are all strategy games), less class-bound than bridge, and very sociable, at least, very sociable for the slightly geeky.

Updates: since writing that post in late 2014, we've discovered Catan (which, like Carcassonne is described as a 'gateway drug' of board games), Rivals of Catan (a fiendish two-player version of this settle-rob-and-trade game) Splendor (jewel-trading), Pandemic (work collaboratively to prevent Armageddon) among others. Some fabulous evenings, new friends, new groups, a bit of an addiction, in the holidays at least. And not a computer screen in sight.