Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

May 2, 2016

Review – Misfortune by A C Fellows

Filed under: books of 2016,reviewage — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 11:42 am

Doctor Clam, I believe I owed you a review!

Misfortune (The Rainier Fields Series Book 1) follows the adventures of the itinerant fantasist Rainier Fields, who first appears as a homeless tinkerer making small robots from scrap to get by. An unfortunate run-in with the local authorities leads to Fields making the acquaintance of an emphatically young woman named Mercery Pockles. Fields discovers, by way of never-fully-explained precognitive abilities, that Mercery has a mysterious and potent destiny, and determines to ensure that it will come out in her favour.

Told in episodic flashbacks, sometimes in interviews with other characters in the narrative and some from the perspective of many years after the events of the story, Misfortune is an unusual story. Fields is a self-admitted cypher, a fantasist running away from both a miserable childhood and a self-sabotaging personality, both in the literal sense of being a wanderer and by creating a personal backstory of heroic adventures and noble deeds off in space.

The reality he is escaping is rather more grubby and sad, and yet Fields is for the most part an optimist whose determination to live up to his own fantasy is somewhat admirable. He decides that his alter ego would do everything in his power to rescue Mercery from her plight, and so he goes to extraordinary lengths to do so. And yet he’s a rather uncomfortable character to live with; a middle aged man, his relationship with Mercery is barely platonic and borderline obsessive. When Mercery’s wellbeing is not at stake, he is often passive and uninquisitive, and there are parts of the story that plumb the depths of his psychology at the cost of forward momentum.

The story itself is a series of increasingly unfortunate events that bounce Fields, Mercery and a cast of supporting characters up against weird aliens, sinister conspiracies and cruel experiments. The main characters suffer through a cycle of escapes, separations, captures, torture of one sort or another and fresh escapes, all revealing more about their dark pasts, their strange sort-of-magic-sort-of-psychic powers and their odd relationships as they draw closer to Mercery’s great and terrible destiny.

Misfortune has the feel of a small, human struggle told against the backdrop of an epic adventure that could emerge at any moment. The stakes never move far beyond the personal fortunes of Fields and Mercery – Fields frequently displays a lack of interest in the wider universe in his narrative – and yet the sense that great events are in motion is constant. I certainly look forward to the further adventures of Rainier Fields, in the hopes that future stories might pull the camera back and show us more of the strange setting.

February 14, 2016

I bricked my Kindle

“I feel as though you’ve just killed an old friend,” complained the Doctor as the Terileptil Leader fried his sonic screwdriver in 1982’s “The Visitation”. In retrospect it’s a rather tacky observation, given that Adric’s radioactive, dinosaur-extinctioning atoms would be scattered across the Cretaceous atmosphere just two stories later.

Still, I got a taste of how he felt this weekend. On the very final leg of my (typically arduous) overseas travel, I discovered to my horror that I had destroyed my Kindle. Three quarters of the screen – all but a small quadrant in the lower left corner – is frozen on the stark and scratchy image of an old-fashioned printing press. The one bit of the screen that’s behaving as it should offers a tantalising glimpse of the standard menu, but nothing readable.

What happened? I don’t know for sure. There’s a possibility it got crushed by my aeroplane seat – it had an unusual reclining angle that I could easily have failed to account for. On the other hand, it’s also pretty old – second generation Kindle, probably four or five years old at this point. That’s practically senescent in e-reader years.

A nice person on Amazon chat ran me through all the standard troubleshooting tricks I’d already found through an internet search. They confirmed that it was not fixable. Also no longer under warranty, which came as no surprise. Ah well.

There’s a small chance that, as the travel was work-related, I may be able to claim for a replacement item. If I did, the equivalent model costs about two or three times what i paid for my current one. I’m not holding my breath. More likely, I’ll be without my beloved e-reader and constant companion for several weeks, if not longer.

That’s good news for the backlog of physical books sitting beside my bed. There’s – what, maybe twenty or thirty books in that stack? That’s nothing next to the roughly a hundred or so titles languishing in the virtual oblivions of my Amazon account and my Backups folder. But any period of enforced separation from the light and easy Kindle option will be a boon for clearing up some floor space in my bedroom.

Time to go read a dead tree, the way our primitive ancestors used to do.

 

(PS: The trip was fine BTW. Exhausting but fine. I’m just not going to discuss the day job on the blog. Especially not this week, when I need to put in an application in order to keep it!)

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