Month: April 2013

Watching me… Watching you

I’m pretty new to the whole social media thing, which is pretty odd for a self-confessed technophile. I’ve had a Facebook page for a while, but looking at it was probably a bit like listening to a record of a mime artist: you were pretty sure something must be going on, but you certainly couldn’t detect any evidence of it. The reason for my lack of social media interest isn’t dislike of technology (I love pressing buttons!) but generally being a crap communicator. I am not one of those people with a Christmas card list that runs to a second volume.

Not long ago I decided that this was not only probably irresponsible, but also wasteful. This is a time when, if you are looking for a new job, your employer is probably going to look for evidence of your life online. It’s a familiar story – tales of people not getting that new job, or getting sacked from a job they already had, because of the pictures of that drunken party on Facebook, or that injudicious comment on Twitter.

So, I thought, if I have a Facebook page, it had better say things about me that I would be happy for an employer to hear. If they’re going to come looking – give them something to look at. (Not that I had pictures of drunken parties in the first place, you understand.) I’m still working on the whole Facebook thing (my life hasn’t suddenly developed any interesting events, unfortunately), but, here we are with this blog. (Which is partly online showing-off – aren’t they all! – and partly self-indulgent rambling.)

Another thing, though, is Goodreads. Being a voracious reader, I thought I’d set up a Goodreads profile and see where that led. It has led in a direction I didn’t entirely expect, but in a good way.

When putting details of your life on the internet, you can do one of two things: just plaster anything and everything up there, or edit.

If you just stick anything up there, you’re likely (unless you have a really interesting life) to be boring, verbose, and possibly dancing on the edge of catastrophe if you have a sensitive job. If you edit, then you have to pick and choose what to post and, inevitably, what kind of image you want to project.

With Goodreads, this goes both ways. Goodreads allows you to post the book you’re reading, how far into it you are, and review it. You build up your bookshelf of books you’ve read, and the books you’d like to read. You can add other shelves too, such as favourite books.

The thing is, the books a person reads, and what they think of them, shows an awful lot about their personality. If you look at a person’s bookshelf, it’s like looking at their mind laid out in front of you. You may well know a man by the company he keeps, but you also know a man by the books he reads.

A Goodreads profile, therefore, is voluntary disclosure. Here I am. This is me. But you can choose what to disclose, choose whether to admit to reading trashy romances, or not. However, this only goes so far. The whole point of a Goodreads profile is to share information about what you read with others; if you’re going to keep quiet about it all, you might as well not bother.

So I have been religiously updating my profile with the books I’ve read, and – from now on – reviewing each one, even if it’s only a few words. But the interesting thing is that the act of making public what I have read makes me think more about what I am going to read. I would never read a book just because I think its ‘the thing to do’; every book on my profile I have read, and the rating and review are honest. But I find myself considering more, consciously attempting to read more of a variety. I’ve mentioned before that I’m an urban fantasy fan, but since I put up my Goodreads profile, I’ve been consciously reading books in other genres. All books that I intended to read anyway – it’s more a matter of timing, or motivation. A case of, if not now, then when?

I think this is a good thing; it’s easy to get into a rut, reading the same sort of book all the time because it’s intellectually undemanding. But if you know that you’re going to put your choices out there in public, there’s more of an incentive to make the choices good ones. If my reading character is going to be on display, I want it to be a well-rounded one.

I suppose this is a hidden blessing, or curse, of social media. By eroding the sphere of privacy further, making hitherto private actions public, we are induced to change what we do to create another layer of the mask we wear in society. We cannot change who we are, but we can control how we are perceived, and sometimes the mask changes the person behind it.

So far, for me, the changes have been positive.

What do you think?

Independence or just contrariness?

I recently read two blog posts that made me think – but probably not in the way the authors intended.

The first was by a feminist who made much of the fact that she had no desire to be beautiful, and in fact took steps (with regards to dress and personal grooming) to ensure that she wouldn’t be considered so. The reason for it was that she didn’t want to look attractive to men; she would rather attract attention because of what she did, not what she looked like.

This sounds extremely praiseworthy – I think most people, not just women, would rather be noticed because of their deeds and skills rather than their physical appearance. (Except models, of course.) However, if you stop and think about it, the picture changes a bit.

While I can understand a woman continually pestered by male attention using this way to avoid it (but in the case of the woman above, this wasn’t the case – from her blog, she was in the same category as most of us: scrubs up pretty well, but not so startlingly lovely as to cause car accidents), it still means that she is allowing male behaviour and attitudes to dictate how she looks and the choices she makes. Instead of dressing to impress men, she dresses to un-impress them. Her own preferences are still subordinated to what men will think.

The second blog post was about following trends, or not. Not so much in the original post, but certainly in the comments, there was a great deal of self-congratulation from people who asserted that they would deliberately not buy an item, or do an activity, because it was trendy – even if they actually wanted whatever it was.

How does this make sense? How does this express your individuality? The way I look at it, it doesn’t. If you don’t buy the article you really like, or don’t try the activity you think would be fun, just because it’s trendy, you are still allowing fashion to dictate your choices. It’s just that instead of following fashion, you are deliberately doing the opposite. A bit like children doing the opposite of what their parents want, just to make the point that they can.

In both cases, we have people who think they are being independent by not doing what society expects of them, but if you look deeper, it’s not independence at all. In the first case, the person’s own preferences are subordinated to her perception of what men [don’t] prefer; in the second, it’s a pure “everyone is doing X, therefore I won’t do X” with no attention paid to the personal desirability of X.

In neither case is the person actually doing what they want to do. It’s still all about what other people think or what other people are doing.

True independence is not about just doing the opposite to what people expect of you. Independence involves thinking about what you want, and making your choice based on the advantages and disadvantages to you. You don’t decide whether or not to get an iPhone based on whether it’s trendy or not, but on whether you can afford it and you like the features. You don’t make your wardrobe decisions based on what men (or women!) will think when they look at you, but on how it makes you feel about yourself.

Independence is harder than it looks, because it means that you really do have to disregard the trends and expectations of society. Your direction is not pre-programmed: you cannot just be a swimmer with the current or against it. You actually have to think, and decide, this time, each time, do you want to swim with the current or against it? Or do you want to get out of the river and strike out in a new direction entirely?

OK, end rant…

What American Authors Need to Know about England

I can pretty much always tell when the author of a book set in England is an American. Presumably it’s the same for English authors writing about America. Who was it said we were divided by a common language? Whoever it was, they were right. There are an awful lot of little cultural differences that give the game away and can spoil (slightly) an otherwise excellent book. Here are some:

Blocks
English cities are generally not built on the grid system, so we don’t have blocks. Well, we kind of do, if our wobbly roads happen to make a sort of irregular island, but our towns and cities are not made up of square plots divided up by straight roads, like square scones on a baking tray. (There’s another: Americans have baking sheets; we have trays.) So we don’t use the ‘block’ as a unit of distance. You’ll never hear an English person say “Go four blocks”, because, a) we don’t think that way, and b) it wouldn’t make any sense. We say “Take the second left” or “It’s about two hundred yards.”

Married Names
When Miss Mary Jones marries Mr John Smith, she doesn’t call herself Mary Jones Smith, or Mary Jones-Smith. She’ll either take her husband’s name and call herself Mary Smith, or (particularly if she’s a professional woman) retain her maiden name and stay Mary Jones.

I’m not saying that no English woman would ever just tack her husband’s name on the end of her own, but it’s a pretty unusual choice over here. I’ve only come across it once, and that was with someone who had a lot of American friends.

First names
An easy ‘tell’ to spot an American author is that the characters get given surnames as first names. We just don’t do it over here. Sometimes a boy might be given his mother’s maiden name as a middle name, but you almost never find a name that is traditionally a surname (e.g. Grayson) given as a first name. First names are first names, surnames are surnames, and never the twain shall meet.

Until the late craze for biblical names, you also almost never saw old-testament names. So if you’re writing historical fiction, steer clear of ‘Caleb’ and ‘Ezekiel’. Of course, if you’re writing something set today, every second male character should be called ‘Josh’…

Gotten
We don’t ever use this word. I don’t know why. But it’s completely dropped out of use this side of the pond.

The National Health Service
Under the NHS, healthcare is free at point of need (except for paying a flat-rate prescription charge for medicines required for outpatient treatment, and even then you can buy a ‘season ticket’). Some people (the minority) have private healthcare, but that usually doesn’t cover emergencies. The vast majority of healthcare in the UK is provided by the NHS, and British people bitch, moan, whine, and complain about how awful it is… and never, ever count the cost. The concept of the ‘expensive illness’ that has wiped out the family savings and put the hero in a difficult position hasn’t existed over here since Aneurin Bevan set up the NHS in 1948.

Guns
Handguns are illegal over here – even for the Olympic pistol team, who have to train elsewhere. So your hero or heroine is going to have to manage without their trusty Glock. Getting a certificate to be able to purchase a shotgun or firearm requires a long form, a character reference from an upstanding member of the community (professional), and a wait while the police check up on your medical history, your reference, and come and check your security arrangements and interview you to make sure that your character reference and your doctor weren’t wrong about you not being a homicidal maniac or suicidally depressed.

And that’s even without considering all the vocubulary differences (it could be a footpath or a pavement but it’s never a sidewalk)!

Writers’ tics

Here we go, another post. I’m going to try not to make this into a rant or a whinge; bloggers who do nothing but complain about other people are not attractive. (And there I go…!)

Writers’ tics… what I mean by that is those little repeating phrases or words or descriptions that a particular writer uses so often that the reader starts to expect them… then look out for them… and finally (worst of all) stops seeing the story and only sees the tics. It’s like the Chinese water torture: you can’t think of anything other than when the next drip is going to come, and it drives you crazy. As a reader, it lowers my opinion of the writer. When I read, I want to see and feel the story – I want it to be a film playing in my head, a private screening that is unique to me. I do not want to be distracted from it by clumsy phrasing.

A tic isn’t something wrong in itself; it’s the fact that it’s repeated. Again and again.

For instance, in David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, it’s the eyes. Eyes twinkle, sparkle, narrow… they are icy, warm… The characters in that series have the most expressive eyes ever. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with using any of those descriptions of a character’s facial expression – it’s only when it happens too much it gets to become a series cliche.

Kim Harrison, in her Hollows series, has a different type of tic. Instead of describing a thing in a certain way, she has words and phrases that constantly reappear. For instance characters are ‘ticked’ when they are annoyed; I know what the word means in this context, but I’ve never used it myself or known anyone who did. Is it an American thing? Well, even if it is, that’s OK – American author, American setting, American slang. Slang is part of a character’s culture. However, this word keeps appearing. Until I want to scream. Surely some variety wouldn’t hurt?

For Laurell Hamilton, it’s not a way of describing or a particular phrase – it’s a particular look. Practically every sexy man in her Anita Blake series has long hair and wears thigh-high boots. Firstly, the long hair – sometimes it’s incredibly long – floor length. Now, when did you ever see anyone with hair that long? Not more than once in your life, I bet, and probably never. That’s because hair usually does not grow that long, even if it’s never cut. Still, even if her characters have some kind of genetic anomaly that results in their hair growing differently to everyone else’s, fair play. It’s fantasy. But again, it’s the over-use that’s the problem. It’s very (oh, god, is it) clear that Laurell’s particular kink is men with long hair and thigh high boots. So much so that she can’t seem to write an attractive man any other way. It’s a bit rough on those of us whose major reaction to a man with long hair is to recommend a decent barber. And the appearance of yet more thigh-high boots just engenders a reaction of Oh no, not again rather than Mmmm….!

Classically, a tic is a sound or movement the person can’t help making. Unless authors deliberately put these things in, just to annoy readers (which doesn’t seem to be a terribly good marketing ploy, although I may be wrong), I conclude that in the case of writers’ tics, the tic-owner does not know that they have a tic. Because the difference between a writer’s tic and everyone else’s is that keyboards have a delete key.

Sometimes, a repeating word doesn’t become a tic – it becomes a catchphrase. In the case of David Eddings’ Sparhawk books, the characters tell each other to “Be nice” if one of them makes a sarcastic/spiteful remark. After a while, this attains the status of a series in-joke. The characters know it’s a repeating phrase, so it’s funny, not irritating (well, to me, anyway).

I suppose the origin of a tic is when the writer comes across a word, or a phrase, or a description, that just seems so right that it seems that nothing else could quite fit the current need. But that is exactly what makes a writer’s tic – that particular word becomes the go-to word. Instead of trying to think up something new, the writer goes back to the old-and-familiar because it achieves the ‘feel’ that they want for the scene. That, therefore, is the difference between the catchphrase and the tic – the former is inserted intentionally, to serve a narrative purpose; the latter is unconscious.

I think the worst tics to identify are probably those relating to the nature of a character – long hair and thigh-high boots, for example. If the author’s vision of that character is a certain way, it’s got to be quite hard to change it to something different, after realising that their current incarnation is the expression of a tic. But I think it’s important to make the effort. Not only are tics irritating for the reader, whatever they are (thus spoiling the enjoyment of the book), but the character-based ones skew the book in one direction or another. If you don’t like long hair and thigh-high boots, you won’t find Laurell Hamilton’s male characters sexy (at least, not the ones she thinks are sexy). So you go and find a different book, where the male leads are sexy. So writers’ tics – even the ones that are most complex – can have a real adverse effect.

So what can you do about it, as a writer? Well, there’s only one thing. Not having tics isn’t something you have any control over; their very nature is to be unconscious. If you knew about it, it wouldn’t be a tic… So the only thing you can do about tics is to identify them and then strip them out. The easiest way to spot the tics is to read the book over and try to spot the repeats. Is a repeat there for a good reason, or is it a tic? Once you know what your own personal tics are (and I bet everyone has them), you can work on not including them, or at least rationing them.

Review: A Civil Campaign, by Lois McMaster Bujold

A Civil Campaign

A Civil Campaign, by Lois McMaster Bujold

To really appreciate this book, you need to have read some of the previous ones in the series. Miles, full-speed-ahead manic hero of the Vorkosigan saga, has fallen in love with the beautiful widow, Ekaterin Vorsoisson, whom he met in the previous book, Komarr. In typically Milesian fashion, he structures his courtship along the lines of a military campaign, complete with surprise attacks and secret missions.

While Miles’ destined-for-disaster courtship is centre-stage, other characters also get their time in the sun. Kareen Koudelka is coming back from a student year on progressive Beta Colony, where she’s been… something… with Miles’ clone-brother, Mark. How is she going to explain this to her very Barrayaran parents – or not?

Then there’s Enrique, the brilliant biochemist whom Mark met, and either bought, kidnapped, or jail-broke from Escobar – complete with his revolutionary research project which arrives at Vorkosigan House in crates with air-holes.

Then there’s the question of the succession of the Vorrutyers’ District. The previous Count is dead, and his voluptuous sister Donna lodged an unspecified impediment to the accession of her despised cousin then immediately skipped the planet to Beta Colony, that centre of science and technology. But why? Donna is due back on Barrayar, and Miles’ cousin Ivan (who is rather feeling the lack of female companionship) is looking forward to meeting her again. It’s not going to go according to plan. Not his plan, anyway.

Vorrutyer’s district isn’t the only countship up for grabs. Count Vorbretten has discovered a nasty surprise in his genes… But surely being one-eighth Cetagandan isn’t going to be a problem on the planet that had Count Midnight the Horse (who always voted “Neigh”)?

And how is Miles going to stop Count Vormuir’s nefarious plan with the fertility clinic and the thirty uterine replicators, which is morally reprehensible but doesn’t seem to be against the law (yet)?

And all before the Imperial Wedding….

Lois McMaster Bujold manages to juggle multiple plot strands effortlessly. For sheer hilarity, watch out for the dinner party scene, but there are gems throughout the book. This book is a comedy of manner and morals, rather than a military space opera or a detective story, and it succeeds brilliantly. You can read it simply as an excellent, and entertaining, sci-fi novel (preferably somewhere where laughing out loud will not be a problem), but you can also read a little deeper. Bujold manages to discuss:

  • Gender (the meaning and mutability of)
  • Societal gender roles (the construction and/or falsity of)
  • Parenthood (the nature of, and the impact of IVF and ectogenesis on)
  • Cloning
  • Inheritance
  • Genetic engineering
  • and more…

This is one of my all-time favourite books; it’s just as funny and clever reading it the twentieth time as it was the first time.

The Invisible Library

I have one. Lots of people do, nowadays. One little device, a thousand books…

I was an early adopter of ebooks – I had a PalmPilot device that ran flat after an hour of reading, so you pretty much had to sit with it in the charging cradle if you wanted to settle in for a nice evening with a book. The selection of ebooks wasn’t much to write home about either, because most of the big authors were still available only in paper.

It’s different now – so many devices on the market. eBooks are here to stay. You can tell, if you travel by public transport. I used to see lots of paperbacks, and it was quite fun trying to see what everyone else was reading, without being noticed. And then you’d spot someone else with a book reader, and you’d have a feeling of instant kinship with another early adopter, another bold adventurer into the world of science-fiction-made-real.

Nowadays, there’s a lot more book readers on the train. One of the advantages, of course, is that you can read trashy romances without feeling that the person sitting across from you is sniggering at you in between pages of their copy of Beyond Good and Evil.  Opponents of ebooks have even used this as a reason why ebook readers are a Bad Thing – you can’t rubberneck and see what other people are reading! Last gasp of someone losing the argument, if you ask me. Most people don’t read in order to provide their fellow travellers with gratification for their nosiness.

Where book readers win out for me, though, is space. Not only for travelling – no more standing in front of the book shelf wondering what I’m going to feel like reading in a week’s time, or wondering how to fit a fantasy novel the size of a housebrick into a handbag – but in the house. Last time we moved house, the removal company incautiously gave us a quote based on the standard price for a three-bedroom semi. Then they turned up, and the foreman was heard to mutter: “This isn’t a house, this is a *&%$ing library…” And that was before he’d seen the piano…

With a book reader, I don’t have to get rid of books, or not buy them because I don’t think I’ve got the required inch of shelf-space. I can buy as many books as I like… forever! But that, of course, has brought its own problem. I like to file things, and I like my bookshelves neatly categorised, and books ordered by author surname within category. (Neat-freak, me? Not at all…) While you can this with a book reader, the relatively slow page-turns makes it really hard to scroll through a thousand books if you want to virtually browse. That’s really the major disadvantage of a book reader – practically speaking, you need to know which book you want to read. Browsing just isn’t going to happen.

But where there is a problem, you just know that some clever person somewhere will be working on the solution. My solution was the BookCollector software, and it really is clever. And quite fun, because you can add books by barcode, and with another thousand dead tree books to catalogue, being able to zap them was a major time-saver. Plus, you can get an iPhone app so you can take your catalogue wherever you go to prevent those awkward bookshop moments (“Do I have a copy of that already… or not?”).

eBooks have changed the reading landscape. You can read whatever you like on the train without getting funny looks; you can buy as many as you like without worrying about shelf space. If you go around to someone’s house, all you see is that smug little plastic rectangle; no more examining their bookshelves out of the corner of your eye, trying to build a picture of your host’s personality out of paper and other people’s words. No more hurrying around before visitors come, making sure that Fifty Shades of Grey is safely hidden under the bed and the complete works of Shakespeare are in the living room.

Publishers are bemoaning the fact that people don’t buy books ‘just in case’, for those emergencies when, oh my god, you’ve run out of books, because you can download another book instantly to quell the symptoms of word-withdrawal. On the other hand, other publishers are celebrating the fact that people can buy a book with a click of the mouse, or a tap of the finger, and it’s all just so easy that you can buy five or six books before you even realise you’ve done it.

And of course, anybody can publish a book. Publishers are no longer the gatekeepers of literature, for the first time since the written word replaced the oral tradition. Of course, this does mean one has to wade through a certain amount of utter garbage in order to find the gems, but the worst of it is usually recognisable. Unlike the fool’s gold (well-disguised utter garbage) that regular publishers are putting out, in some cases.

Have you noticed that? As an urban fantasy fan, I’m seeing a certain cookie-cutter sameness about the new offerings. Sexy, kick-ass heroine (with no social skills); at least two hot male main characters (with no personality, or with a personality that should earn him/them a kicking from any self-respecting young woman); tortured pasts all over the place. Plot is decidedly optional, but there should be sex all over the place. Sometimes literally.

The point being that one can imagine a List. In order to get published, an author must tick various points off the List. If you don’t score high enough on the List, you might have written the next Pride and Prejudice, and it wouldn’t matter.

Angels, for example. Angels are ‘in’ at the moment. I’ve spotted at least a couple of authors who’ve suddenly made a swift left turn to start writing about angels, in one case someone who had no previous ‘form’ for urban fantasy. Before that, it was zombies (which didn’t last long because, let’s face it, zombies are kind of icky and not suited for being protagonists).

The advantage of independent publishing is that there is no List. The author can write whatever they like, and push their poor baby out into the cold world to take its chances. We, the readers, should welcome the independent publisher. Here is a chance for new thoughts to see the light of day, new ideas, new plotlines.

This is reading freedom. Let’s embrace it. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Beautifully useful… usefully beautiful?

William Morris said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

The Shakers, apparently, took it one step futher: “Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.”

Nowadays, with mass-production and the drive for efficiency and cost-effectiveness, there is less emphasis on making useful things beautiful too, which is a pity. Trying to find a useful thing that is also beautiful can be difficult, and, worse, expensive. An exception, oddly, is shotguns.

Miroku 7000

Miroku 7000

The basic design of the working parts of the doubled-barrelled shotgun hasn’t changed much since the 1880s; what’s even more interesting, in a way, is that the aesthetics haven’t changed much either. The stock is still made of wood (often walnut, with the more expensive guns having wood chosen for extra beauty of grain) and the outside of the working parts is usually still engraved with patterns or scenes. Manufacturers have resisted the urge to replace wood with plastic, and to omit those elements which contribute nothing to the function of the piece but serve only to make it beautiful. With shotguns, beautiful seems to come as standard.

What would it take, I wonder, to be a little more William Morris – or a little more Shaker – and what effect would that have on our own little corner of the world?

Where’s the love?

I read. I read a lot. Anything. Even toffee papers and the back of cornflake packets, if there isn’t anything better available. But one of my favourite genres is urban fantasy; I like the idea of magic in the modern world. I wonder if it’s an atheist thing? I don’t believe in magic – but I’d like to.

Anyway, back on topic. An awful lot of urban fantasy books have a ‘romance’ element, or at least, that’s what they call it. But really, it more often seems to be lust. You know the sort of thing – guy and girl meet, and you just know that before you get half-way through the book, they’ll have fallen into bed (together). No getting-to-know-you, no dating, no comparing reading lists, or even favourite colours. Just straight to the sex. Take The Taken, for example (for my part, you can take it as far away as possible): the heroine (Kit Craig, who needs a slap) meets the hero (Griffin Shaw, who needs some things explaining to him, by hand), and before you know where you are, yep, they’re making the bedsprings creak. They know next to nothing about each other, and don’t seem to be interested in finding out. And don’t get me started on the ‘love triangle’ in the Alex Craft books – two gorgeous men, she gets busy with both, yet doesn’t seem to be remotely interested in either of them as anything other than hot bodies.

Does anyone else find that rather icky? Not to mention sleazy. For pity’s sake, get some self-respect!

On the other hand, we have Kim Harrison’s Hollows series: I’ve read up to book 9, and the tension between the heroine (Rachel) and one of the other recurring characters (Trent) is palpable. And so far, I don’t think they’ve even kissed. Harrison seems to be determined to spin it out. And these two are learning more and more about each other – from enemies in the first book, they’ve now turned into something more than allies. There’s actually a relationship there, not just sex (well, not even sex, so far).

J.K. Rowling did the same in the Harry Potter books. I seem to remember reading somewhere that she wanted Harry to have a bit of experience of love, and to get to know Ginny properly before they finally got together.

Makes me wonder – you see people getting married, and a year or two later, they’re divorced. Did they actually get to know their partner, or did they think that sex was enough to keep a relationship going? Are we seeing more of an emphasis on sex and less on actually knowing your partner?

Being really sociopolitical, one might wonder whether a woman’s right to control her own sex life has somehow transmuted into pressure to have sex with any man who’s available, just to demonstrate that she isn’t some kind of old-fashioned prude.

First past the post

Well, here is the first post. After promising not to be uncontroversial and boring, that is precisely what this post is going to be. It’s just there to fill up the space on the front page until I have the time to write something interesting.

Actually, I’m already writing something interesting, but I doubt that a 4000 word essay on the moral status of the embryo is really what you want to read.

Actually, I don’t really care what you want to read… the purpose of the exercise is that I’m going to write what I want to write!

No restrictions – the world is the mollusc of my choice! (As per Terry Pratchett, in Pyramids, thus proving that not only do I not care what you want to read, but I don’t care about being original either. But at least I care about credit and referencing…)