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Leland Paul Kusmer
Linguist; musician.
Linguist; musician.
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Some photos from the last two weeks of fieldwork in Thohoyandou, Limpopo Province, South Africa.
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Thohoyandou, pt. 1
18 Photos - View album

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"Yes, it's the kind of book that mocks its characters for smiling at their own cleverness, all the while patting itself on the back for every clever turn of phrase."

I just got around to posting my review of M. John Harrison's Nova Swing. Spoiler alert: I didn't like it.

(Also, I never posted this here, but I recently reviewed Ian MacLeod's Song of Time. I liked that a lot better, despite serious issues with the ending.)

http://lelandpaul.com/nova-swing
http://lelandpaul.com/song-of-time/

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Further Clarke Award winners: Richard Morgan's Black Man (published in the US as Thirteen); Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep?.

http://lelandpaul.com/black-man/

(Also, I apparently never posted my last review here: Jane Roger's The Testament of Jessie Lamb.

http://lelandpaul.com/jessie-lamb/)

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Next up of the Clarke Award winners: Lauren Beukes' excellent Zoo City, with a slightly inevitable tangent about The Golden Compass.

"Apparently there's nothing quite like being chased through sewers by superstitious teenagers determined to kill your sloth for its supposed medicinal properties to make you fall in love with a city."

http://lelandpaul.com/zoo-city/

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I'm starting to read my way through all of the Clarke award winners, and will be writing  short reviews of them all over on my blog. First up: Christopher Beckett's Dark Eden, with a long tangent into James P. Hogan's Inherit the Stars.

http://lelandpaul.com/dark-eden/

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No. Way.

(Having flashbacks to playing Syberia may years ago...)
You need to stop and watch this video. It's about an automaton built in the late 1770's, shaped like a small boy. It writes, programmably, in an elegant cursive script, using a goose quill. On its back is a dial which stores the program; around the dial is a sequence of blocks, one for each letter, which can be arranged by the user and which tell it what to write. Vertically in the center of the device is a stack of hundreds of cam wheels, which encode the "font;" each letter is encoded by a set of three wheels which encode the three-dimensional (yes, including pressure) motion of the pen.

It still works to this day, and in the video you can watch it write. The attention to detail in this is truly extraordinary; it refills the pen and shakes the quill, moves the page and moves its eyes to track what it is writing. This is truly one of the great works of mechanical computation. The automaton, along with his other works, are on display at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

More about this ingenious device, and his other works, here: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/11/the-writer-automata/

via +Jennifer Ouellette and +Daniel Estrada.
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