DIARY 2006














Mon, Oct 30

<02:20 EEST> Been gaming and hacking for a change, and it's been pretty fun :)

Saturday was a big boardgame/RPG night at Kortepohja, named Elämä on peliä. I popped in just for curiosity, expecting to see friends and other like-minded people, and ended up playing three games new to me: Ticket to Ride -- Europe, Carcassonne, and Elfenland. I enjoyed all of these but the railway game was particularly nice with its strategic and cooperational potential. The others were a little too stochastic to my tastes, but not particularly bad overall.

The hacking is related to Comms which in my latest internal test version is no longer limited to xmms :) This is basically due to Gentoo's dropping support of xmms, and after reading the forum posts it seems that I'd better migrate to a more modern player anyway. I've now installed Audacious, and the Comms page has some more info.

Sun, Oct 15

<04:12 EEST> The 1990s called. They want this song back ;)

Domina Anatomia had its last performance on Wednesday, and I felt like making a silly dance version of one of its piano themes for the closing party. Turned out quite fun after all, so I decided to release it for everyone.

There's also a new version of Talvisuru that's closer to its recent implementation in DA. There's something about these live piano pieces though that makes them a little dull when recorded separately, particularly when I just use the synth instead of acoustic recording :( I guess most musicians experience something similar. One reason may be that when you're recording, you're more focused on avoiding mistakes than going with your feeling. Of course the audience buzzes you up, which is probably one reason why I like working with the theatre.

Tue, Oct 3

<00:25 EEST> From an inane pile of books and movies ingested in the near past, two recent pieces stand out: the novel Sarasvatin Hiekkaa by Risto Isomäki, and the movie The Butterfly Effect. Somehow both of them have a naive, camp side to them, but they manage to represent brilliant science fiction nevertheless, or perhaps for just that reason.

Upon reading Sarasvatin Hiekkaa I often had the feeling that I'm reading The Risto Isomäki Novel, Iteration #4. There's too much familiarity with the previous novels. In some ways this feels like the direct sequel to Herääminen, what with the methane clathrate factor and all. Fortunately there are lots of new story elements, but it still sort of feels like a new version of the same story I've read a number of times.

One striking bit is that Isomäki's style has not changed one bit. It's where things get campy. Many a moment I found myself thinking it's as bad as my own teenage writings, inspired by Isomäki's short stories collection Kristalliruusu in the early 1990s :) Take the dry, technical style that has given SF a bad name, including the shallow characters, introduce some cheesy poetic reflections now and then, and you know what I mean. Oftentimes the novel reads like a science book written into a dialogue.

What's weird is that I enjoyed the novel a lot. Somehow the style works with the overall oldskool SF setting that creates that special sense of wonder reminiscent of Clarke's stories. I guess the feeling of innocence, the trust in science, plays a huge role as well. But it's a wonder how Isomäki's books manage to sell at all, in a time where, to my eyes, the general tastes are completely opposite to mine.

Anyway, in a plot-summary, Isomäki once again manages a very credible what-if scenario on environmental damage and global warming, with some fascinating fact-based links to the myth of Atlantis. I found myself being careful not to leave extra lights on while reading this :)

<21:15 EEST> The Butterfly Effect is a completely different beast in that it doesn't have much of a real-science backing. Nevertheless, it has the right kind of spirit for science fiction: what if you had a limited ability to change your past? The premises, the discovery and acquisition of this ability, are presented effortlessly and delicately. The movie paints a logical picture of how things could work in its own microworld.

Even though I noticed at least one gross logical glitch, the plot suspends itself quite well. But the SF is only a rather small part of keeping the sense of wonder together. Here are some other important factors in the movie I've thought about:

To me, the point of SF is to create that special sense of wonder, which is a kind of emotion. To create it you don't need an explicitly emotional movie, but it doesn't hurt if that sense of wonder is something the characters also work with.

Risto A. Paju