Just in case you wondered work is progressing, albeit slowly, on the most recent painting. Nor is it typical of the way I usually do these things since this is more of a combination of the pen and ink style of the 'adventure's ink' things with color added.
So far I've been having fun and may even have finished it but for the fact of getting involved in a 2000 page over the top, hilarious, heart stopping sci-fi space opera novel by my favorite intelligent adolescent, Peter Hamilton. I needed a little vacation from normality because normality nowadays is scaring the hell out of me. I have to admit having read them as they were originally released but just for the hell of it decided to read them consecutively now that nearly five years have gone by.
'Pandora's Star' and 'Judas Unchained' describe Hamilton's vision of the late 24th century, hundreds of worlds within hundreds of light years from the Earth have been peopled (collectively known as the 'Commonwealth'), not by way of space ships, but through man-made stable wormholes connected by giant trains. People have continued to do what we do best and that's repopulate and consume. Virtually all of the one hundred billion human beings are connected by instantaneous communication - the Cybersphere, which is built into the brain along with other electronic enhancements.
The other great human advancement concerns mortality: specifically, every 20-30 years or so, those humans who can afford it get 'rejuvenated' and restored to physical adolescence with full memories of the previous 'life'. People work to pay their rejuve insurance. Dying in an accident is no problem since most have available a dormant clone. With this technological 'advancement', Hamilton asks some very complicated ethical questions about aging, and what it really means to be an individual person.
Everything is seemingly blooming and nice, but a secret brotherhood, The Guardians of Selfhood, keeps insisting that humankind is being manipulated by an invisible alien, whose ship was found on one now inhabited planet - Far Away. The brotherhood is making preparations, smuggling weapons and weird pieces of equipment in order to face the alien. Of course, no sane people would listen to their blabber.
But things change when an ageing astronomy professor discovers the disappearance of two distant stars. The story gains steam as an FTL starship (obsolete tech in this age of wormholes) is built in order to learn why the double star system known as the 'Dyson Pair' has been shielded by some sort of force field. Is it meant to keep the natives of that system within, or to protect them from something outside? As if that weren't enough, the brotherhood decides to prevent this excursion.
Even as this is going on, the author continues his journey through genres - a murder mystery is solved (yes, I know I explained that people can be rejuvenated here, but wait for it); a low-tech fantasy theme is introduced (a funky inn on a planet where high-tech doesn't work, a native boy who wants to join the explorer etc.) that at one point presents readers with a trek across a frozen planet, and there's even a priggish dad with an ickily cute family (complete with dog) on one of those impossibly utopian planets. There's a helpful AI (or is it?) and aliens too.
About 700 pages in, we finally meet the creepiest villain(s) alien of all (eek! hive mind!), after which the tale cascades on swiftly on to the end of part I. If you want to know about part II you may just have to read it for yourself because I'm tired now.
I had implants * done on Thursday with the result I'm still not feeling my best.. but I'll get there and I'll get back to the painting too.
(* dental, not flotation...)