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Murmur reviews short stories 
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Post Re: Murmur reviews short stories
I listened to a Sherlock Holmes radio play today. It's from March 11, 1946. It's called The Living Doll. It was an entertaining show. However, this was, by far, the dumbest solution to a mystery I have read/heard for a Sherlock Holmes story.

The dumbness is as follows.

1. Three suitors, named Tanner, King, and Pound, are pursuing a woman. Each wants to marry her.
2. She has a daughter, and she refuses to marry so she can devote her time to her daughter.
3. One of the men wants to murder the daughter, so that the woman will be available to marry. He wants to use black magic. A crone is employed to help him with this.
4. The magic fails, and the would-be murderer attempts to kill the crone.
5. Holmes reaches the crone's home while she is being throttled, and interrupts the murder. The murderer escapes. While she is still alive, she opens a secret hiding place in her home. It was covered by a loose brick. She removes it and inside are gold sovereigns, pennies, and sixpence. She pulls out a sixpence and shows it to Holmes. She moans and dies.
6. The word "sovereign" means king. But it's worth a pound. So a sovereign is related to the last names of two of the suitors.
7. However, the crone held a sixpence. The common name for sixpence is "tanner". Thus, she was indicating that Tanner was the murderer, and he was.

Oh, come on! How lame is that!



Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:10 pm
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Post Re: Murmur reviews short stories
I remember that great story written by Leo Tolstoy "What Men Live By." This is really very nice. I was still 2nd year high school at that time.


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Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:40 pm
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Post Re: Murmur reviews short stories
Best Ghost Stories of J.S. LeFanu

I read the story Squire Toby's Will many years ago. It is a jewel in English literature. It's a creepy story and incredibly well written. So, I decided to read some more from LeFanu. This book has a few good stories. Sadly, a substantial portion of the book is a bore and fairly dense. The most notable stories in the book are:

1. Squire Toby's Will. Already mentioned.
2. Carmilla. This story is the literary predecessor of Dracula. It's clear that Stoker borrowed some pieces from Carmilla. I'm pretty sure that this was made into some radio plays. Carmilla was made into more than one movie. The movie that was the most faithful to the source material is the soft core porn movie The Vampire Lovers. The story Carmilla has some lesbian-ish aspects, so the fact that The Vampire Lovers is erotic isn't so outlandish.
3. Green Tea. A creepy red eyed critter bothers a guy. This was made into some radio plays.

Squire Toby's Will should be made into a movie. If you intend to read Squire Toby's Will, don't view the spoiler below.

Squire Toby's Will is considered one of the most well written stories in the English language. I agree with that. I was amazed at how English words were used to evoke dread, in particular the part about following the shadows created by candle light.

Recommendation: Sadly, I must say skip it. However, read Squire Toby's Will, Carmilla, and Green Tea. Find them on gutenberg or some free site.



Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:56 pm
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Post Re: Murmur reviews short stories
Beyond the Stars
A Planet Too Far
A Space Opera Anthology


This is a very good collection of sci fi stories. Most sci fi stories have male protagonists, especially older stories. These stories have a noticeable female orientation. Female protagonists in this book are common. Women with authority are common. About half of the authors in this book are women, and each author has a brief interview with the editor at the end of each story.

Each story is its own universe. The authors do a good job in the creation of their respective universes.

Some stories are:

1. The Mergans. It's a story about a hideous culture that is supremely oppressive, and the destruction of that culture.
2. Services Rendered. This story is like the prequel to another story of a motley crew of spacers who go on space adventures. Actually, I think that's exactly what it is.
3. Spike in a Rail. An adventure aboard a space station. Sort of like a mystery.

Recommendation: Read it if you like sci fi.



Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:18 pm
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Post Re: Murmur reviews short stories
The Cyberiad
by Stanislaw Lem

I haven't finished this book yet. I've read half of it so far. I want to write a review of it now while a lot of it is fresh in my mind.

This is one of the best books I have ever read. It's a humorous sci fi book. It's a collection of short stories, all within the same universe. The protagonists are a duo of "constructors" named Trurl and Klapaucius. Most of the denizens of the universe are robotic, including the protagonists. Trurl and Klapaucius are extraordinarily inventive and are capable of building machines that can perform god-like feats.

The stories were written around 1965 in Polish, and translated around 1974 in English. This is a curious thing to me, because the stories very heavily rely on combinations of English words. I'll just use wikipedia's favorite word to label them: portmanteus. For example, there's a machine called a "femfatalatron". That's a combination of the phrase "femme fatale" and adding the suffix "tron" to make it sound like a machine. There's a device called a "dracometer" for detecting dragons. Some royalty have the names Atrocitus, Excelsius, and Altruizia. So, how was this done in Polish? It seems to me that the Polish language must have an equal capacity for portmanteus and word play as English.

A lot of the logic in the book is Wonderlandian. Unfortunately, I can't remember any examples to provide in this post.

One of my favorite pairs of sentences (paraphrased) in the book is:
Klapaucius was in a spaceship, and he was flying past a planet. He saw someone waving at him so he stopped.

Recommendation: If you like sci fi, read it.



Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:47 pm
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Post Re: Murmur reviews short stories
I have read The Cyberiad twice now. It's a spectacular book, to put it simply. This English translation of the book is a jewel of brilliant art. I wonder if the original Polish is as good.

Here are a few snippets from the book.

1. Scene. Trurl and Klapaucius have to devise a foe for a king to hunt. It has to be an especially powerful foe because the king has fought a bunch of other mechanical creatures built by other constructors, and they all failed, and he executed or tortured these other constructors. Here we see Trurl and Klapaucius testing and experimenting with their algorithms for their mechanical monster.

Quote:
So they rolled up their sleeves and sat down to experiment -- by simulation, that is mathematically and all on paper. And the mathematical models of King Krool and the beast did such fierce battle across the equation-covered table, that the constructors' pencils kept snapping. Furious, the beast writhed and wriggled its iterated integrals beneath the King's polynomial blows, collapsed into an infinite series of indeterminate terms, then got back up by raising itself to the nth power, but the King so belabored it with differentials and partial derivatives that its Fourier coefficients all canceled out (see Riemann's Lemma), and in the ensuing confusion the constructors completely lost sight of both King and beast. So they took a break, stretched their legs, had a swig from the Leyden jug to bolster their strength, then went back to work and tried it again from the beginning, this time unleashing their entire arsenal of tensor matrices and grand canonical ensembles, attacking the problem with such fervor that the very paper began to smoke. The King rushed forward with all his cruel coordinates and mean values, stumbled into a dark forest of roots and logarithms, had to backtrack, then encountered the beast on a field of irrational numbers (F1) and smote it so grievously that it fell two decimal places and lost an epsilon, but the beast slid around an asymptote and hid in an n-dimensional orthogonal phase space, underwent expansion and came out, fuming factorially, and fell upon the King and hurt him passing sore. But the King, nothing daunted, put on his Markov chain mail and all his impervious parameters, took his increment delta-k to infinity and dealt the beast a truly Boolean blow, sent it reeling through an x-axis and several brackets --- but the beast, prepared for this, lowered its horns and -- wham!! -- the pencils flew like mad through transcendental functions and double eigentransformations, and when at last the beast closed in and the King was down and out for the count, the constructors jumped up, danced a jig, laughed and sang as they tore all their papers to shreds, much to the amazement of the spies perched in the chandelier -- perched in vain, for they were uninitiated into the niceties of higher mathematics and consequently had no idea why Trurl and Klapaucius were now shouting, over and over, "Hurrah! Victory!!"


2. Scene. Trurl and Klapaucius captured King Krool with their beast. It had the shape and appearance of three police officers and arrested the king. They had to go in front of the ministers to explain how they defeated the king. Previously, they used a Postmaster General robot to deliver a letter to the ministers.

Quote:
First, they had to determine what would check the King, catch him flatfooted, so to speak. To this end, they created by nonlinear transmutation a police subset within the beast, since everyone knows that resisting or interfering with an officer who is making an arrest lege artis is a cosmic offense and utterly unthinkable. So much for the psychology of it -- except that the Postmaster General was utilized here on similar grounds: an official of lower rank might not have made it past the guards, the letter then would not have been delivered, and the constructors would have very literally lost their heads. Moreover, the Postmaster mannequin had been given means to bribe the guards, should that have proved necessary. Every eventuality had been anticipated and provided for. Now as far as the algorithms went: they had only to find the proper domain of beasts, closed, bounded and bonded, with plenty of laws both associative and distributive in operation, throw in a constable constant or two, some graphs of graft, squadratic equations and crime waves -- and the thing took over from there, once activated by the expedient of writing a document-program (behind the curtain with the bells) in castor oil ink, rendering it thereby sufficiently hard to swallow to serve as a red-tape generator.



3. Scene. Prince Ferrix is disguised as a human (a "paleface") to woo Princess Crystal, a robot that is enamored with humans. The trader he speaks of is an advisor from his kingdom that is helping him woo Princess Crystal. The speaker is Prince Ferrix and he's talking to Princess Crystal.

Quote:
"Your Highness, my name is Myamlak and I crave nought else but to couple with you in a manner that is liquid, pulpy, doughy and spongy, in accordance with the customs of my people. I purposely permitted myself to be captured by the pirate, and requested him to sell me to this portly trader, as I knew the latter was headed for your kingdom. And I am exceeding grateful to his laminated person for conveying me hither, for I am as full of love for you as a swamp is full of scum."


4. Scene. Torturers are torturing a whimpering guy. Trurl holds a laser pistol on them and demands that they stop. He demands an explanation for the torture. The lead torturer explains it to Trurl, starting from "the beginning". The speaker is the lead torturer.

Quote:
There are legends, as you know, that speak of a race of paleface, who concocted robotkind out of a test tube, though anyone with a grain of sense knows this to be a foul lie . . . For in the Beginning there was naught but Formless Darkness, and in the Darkness, Magneticity, which moved the atoms, and whirling atom struck atom, and Current was thus created, and the First Light . . . from which the stars were kindled, and then the planets cooled, and in their cores the breath of Sacred Statisticality gave rise to microscopic Protomechanoans, which begat Proteromechanoids, which begat the Primitive Mechanisms. These could not yet calculate, nor scarcely put two and two together, but thanks to Evolution and Natural Subtraction they soon multiplied and produced Omnistats, which gave birth to the Servostat, the Missing Clink, and from it came our progenitor, Automatus Sapiens . . .


5. I mentioned in my previous post about someone on a planet waving at somebody. Here's the actual text, which sounds much better than what I wrote.

Quote:
Collecting his fee, plus an honorary degree and an engraved loving cup, Klapaucius blasted off to rejoin his friend. On the way, he noticed a planet and someone waving to him frantically. Thinking it might be Trurl in some sort of trouble, he landed.



Sun Sep 24, 2017 5:54 pm
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