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16 june 2018

Jupiter is probably the easiest object to identify in the night sky, aside from the Moon. Is it really, really bright? Is it far from the Sun? Then it's almost certainly Jupiter. Actually these days I always check an app on my phone to see what's what, but before tech assistance was available, you could be fairly safe when guessing you were looking at Jupiter.     read more


9 june 2018

The Second Seminole War and the Limits of American Aggression, by C.S. Monaco, is a strong contribution to American history, in the current paradigm of settler-colonial studies. Broadly speaking, there are two types of colonies: ones where a small outsider elite leverages locals to work for the interests of the colonial power, and settler states, where incomers simply deport, or kill, the locals, and build a new community on cleared ground. The British Raj in India is an example of the former; the United States, of the latter.     read more


31 may 2018

Volume I of Enki Bilal's Bug was the most heavily-advertised book in Paris last winter, its ominous cover art appearing on billboards and Métro posters everywhere. Being suggestible, I bought a copy and got around to reading it just now. I thought I was finally beyond hip, but come to find that Enki Bilal is older than I am, a grand old man of bandes dessinées; and that Bug, while undeniably stylish, is a fairly standard postapocalyptic yarn. I liked it all the same, and will now have to pre-order Volume II.     read more


30 may 2018

Chantal Pelletier likes multilingual puns. This is evident from the cover and early chapters of her first Krimi, Éros et Thalasso (1998). The title is a play on "Eros and Thanatos," love and death, the eternal pairing. But "Thalasso" means not "death" but "spa": not the most solemn of places to meet your Maker. Our hero is named Maurice Laice. In a calembour that the author and characters keep repeating, his name, pronounced with an English accent, becomes "More is Less." Is more is less is more is less. The third entry in Pelletier's crime series is even titled More is Less.     read more

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