Archive for March, 2007

Recently my best friend Heather told me a little about a children’s book called Bridge to Terabithia. I was home sick for much of this week, but today I ventured forth and bought a copy. When I was at page 57 I tried calling her to thank her for ever so gently hinting that it was worth reading, but she wasn’t at home. That was an hour ago.

I just finished it.

Thanks, Heather.


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I was updating a previous post about famous ships of Newfoundland and Labrador and noted that many of these ships sank or were lost in storms. There are many aspects to these events and to how they shaped our history, from the Independence Hurricane of 1775 to the deaths of the sealers from the ships Newfoundland and Southern Cross in late March of 1914 (which killed 251 men, as compared to the 255 who died, and the 91 who went missing, at Beaumont Hamel two years later). First, the 1775 hurricane killed about 4000 people, destroyed the French fishing boats and crews at St. Pierre et Miquelon, destroyed a British fishing fleet on the Grand Banks, and devastated many of the outports. The resultant loss of British fisherman available for Navy service hurt the British response to the American Independence movement, and may be part of the reason that this storm is called the Independence Hurricane in the U.S. The sealers on the Newfoundland and Southern Cross were demonstratively young and adventurous, since sealing was inherently dangerous; hopping around on ice pans and living on often rickety boats during March storms is not for the faint-hearted. Many of these men would probably have volunteered for the war, and their deaths also contributed to the lack of young men at the end of the war. There were about 1200 Newfoundland soldiers who died during the war, and the 251 sealers lost on March 31, 1914 amounts to over 20% of the Newfoundland war dead through the entire conflict.

This will be a roughly chronological list of notable marine disasters and ship losses from discovery to modern times either in our waters or significant to our history. There will also be comments on obvious impacts on Newfoundland, Labrador, and the rest of the world. If anyone wants to comment or to contribute new information, I’d really appreciate it.

Our course through history:

  • 1498: John Cabot’s second expedition to North America. One source indicates that the expedition was lost at sea.
  • 1501: Gaspar Corte-Real, who vanished in 1501 on a voyage to Newfoundland.
  • 1565?: Basque whaler in Red Bay, Labrador, which may be the San Juan.
  • 1696: HMS Sapphire : Trapped in Bay Bulls Harbour by a French attacking force, she was scuttled to prevent capture. She is a Provincial Historic Site and has produced much archaeological insight into naval life of the times. This was during one of the main periods of French-English conflict in Newfoundland.
  • 1775: Independence Hurricane mentioned above. It hit the South Coast and passed near Conception Bay on September 9. It is also the most deadly hurricane to hit Canada or Newfoundland in recorded history. (see introduction).
  • 1810-1870: Sealing Deaths. It is estimated that between 1810 and 1870 the Newfoundland seal fishery lost some 400 vessels and 1000 men in the ice floes.
  • 1828: Despatch: Ann Harvey of Isle aux Morts, her father, herbrother,  and the Newfoundland Dog named Hairyman saved over 180 Irish immigrants from the wreck of the brig Despatch. The Royal Humane Society issued a special medal for heroism for Ann. In 1938, she and her father also saved a number of people from the Rankin, wrecked at the same spot as the Despatch. Isle aux Morts was so dangerous to shipping that throughout her life she and the other settlers were burying bodies that washed ashore.In 1987, the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Ann Harvey was commisioned.
  • 1847: Hurricane hits Newfoundland, kills 300.
  • 1875: Waterwitch : Wrecked near Pouch Cove. When the ship went aground in a storm with 25 people on board, Alfred Moores, a resident, performed a daring rescue which saved 11 people. He allowed himself to be lowered to the ship by a rope from an overhanging cliff so that he could carry the people to safety.
  • 1898: Greenland Disaster: A sealing steamer. 48 men from her died on the ice in 1898 when a major storm blew in. The ice closed up and prevented the Greenland from closing on the sealers on the ice, while at the same time an interior lead of water kept the sealers from approaching the ship. There was also some discussion of the behaviour of Captain Abram Kean, who was in the area commanding another sealing vessel. Kean later became infamous for his role in the Newfoundland Disaster sixteen years later.
  • 1912: Titanic: Sank April 14-15, 1914 after hitting an iceberg 400 miles from St. John’s. The main Newfoundland link to the disaster is the wireless station at Cape Race, which received and relayed the distress messages from the ship. Also, two years after the International Ice Patrol was founded to track icebergs and ship safety regulations were beefed up
  • 1914: Newfoundland Disaster: The sealing disaster in March, 1914 where 78 sealers died and 11 were permanently disabled. It is poignantly described in Cassie Brown’s Death on the Ice. (see introduction)
  • 1914: Southern Cross Disaster: This is the one that many people (including myself) forget. She was lost with all hands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the same storm that caught the sealers from the Newfoundland on the ice at night. She was last sighted by the SS Portia near Cape Pine, and was never seen again. This counts as the single largest loss of life in the history of the seal hunt, with 173 souls being lost. Combined with the 78 deaths from the Newfoundland, at least 251 people died from the same storm. If you compare that to the casualties from Beaumont Hamel, it adds a new perspective to the dangers involved in sealing. On July 1, 1916, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment bravely attempted a frontal assault on the German front in what is considered the worst military disaster in the history of Newfoundland. 255 were killed, 386 were wounded, and 91 were listed as missing in action and presumed dead.
  • 1918: Florizel : the well-known steamer owned by the Bowring Brothers Ltd. went aground at Horn Head near Cappahayden on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland . The SOS was received at the Admiralty wireless station. Ninety-three crew and passengers perished, while 44 were miraculously rescued after 27 hours spent braving punishing seas and bitter cold. The Peter Pan Statue in Bowring Park is in honour and memory of a little girl who died on board.
  • 1919:Ethie : On November 17 this coastal steamer, commanded by Captain Edward English, went aground during a gale at Martins Point on the West Coast near Bonne Bay. Local fisherman were able to get line to the ship and to rescue most or all of the passengers and crew. There were also reports of a Newfoundland dog towing a rescue line out to the boat, and this became part of a children’s book by Hilary Hyland.
  • 1929: Tsunami on November 18. A 5 metre tsunami was generated by an underwater landslide south od Newfoundland, triggered by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on the continental slope. Twenty-seven people died, and boats, houses, and stages were swept away. While this is the only significant earthquake recorded in Atlantic Canada, it is also the most deadly such event recorded in Canada or Newfoundland. The underwater landslide also cut numerous underwater telegraph and telephone lines, and the timing of when each line cut out allowed scientists to estimate the speed and severity of the landslide. However, it also cut the community off from the rest of civilisation during cold and miserable weather. Three days later the coastal vessel SS Portia arrived, and immediately sent an SOS to St. John’s.
  • 1931: Viking Disaster: The Viking (a wooden ship built in 1881), exploded while shooting footage for the sealing film The Viking . Film producer Varrick Frissel and 26 others died in the explosion. A number of sealers made it to Horse Islands. However, there were insufficient supplies, shelter or medical equipment to keep the men alive for long. Rescue ships, including the salvage tug Foundation Franklin and the Reid coastal steamer Sagona took on supplies and medical personnel and raced to the area. However they were delayed both by a raging gale and by the ice, which had driven in around the island. Here is a transcript of documents from the time of the disaster. This was the first, but by no means the last, time Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders were involved with the Franklin.
  • 1932: Neptune II: Schooner that was commanded by Captain Joe Barbour of Newtown on the Northeast Coast. While not really a wreck, the ship was driven by several successive storms from Newfoundland to Scotland, with the crew of 11 being tossed and turned for 48 days, as described in this book.
  • 1942: Bell Island’s U-boat casualties (Saganaga,Lord Strathcona, P.L.M. 27, Rose Castle): these were bulk iron ore carriers sunk at or near Lance Cove on Bell Island in Conception Bay. Bell Island has the dubious distinction of being the site of the only artillery fired in defense of North America in the Second World War, due to these attacks.
  • 1942: World War Two Submarines: At least 3 U-boats and one British submarine sank within 250 nm of St. John’s. The type IX U-656 sank about 25 miles from Cape Race, and the British P-514 was rammed by a merchant vessel near Cape St. Mary’s.
  • 1942: CaribouDisaster: One of the most famous of the ferries running between Newfoundland and Canada. It was torpedoed by U-boat U-69 on October 14, 1942, during the critical period of the Battle of the Atlantic. 147 passengers and crew lost their lives. The skipper Ben Taverner and his two sons went down with the ship. The coastal boat Taverner was named after him.
  • 1942: USS Truxton and Pollux: (much of this is a direct quote from SkylarkD, and this entry is due to her kind suggestion) These two U.S. Navy ships ran aground near St. Laurence, Newfoundland on February 18th, 1942. 203 sailors died; 185 were saved. Well, it turns out that there was only one African American survivor of the U.S.S. Truxton, named Lanier Philips, and he says that it was the hospitality he received from the people of Newfoundland after the disaster which led him to become a civil rights leader for equality for all races in the U.S. military.
  • 1977: William Carson: An Icebreaking passenger/car ferry. Commissioned in 1955, it was a huge ferry for its time. For the first two years it couldn’t dock at Port aux Basques, and used Argentia until docking facilities were expanded. In 1977 she was struck by a small Iceberg near Battle Harbour, Labrador, and sank with no hands aboard (no one died). Joan Morrissey wrote a fairly funny song about he Carson and its importance to the province.
  • 1982: Ocean Ranger: At the time the largest semi-submersible oil rig in the world. On February 15, 1982 she sank with all hands. The supply vessel Seaforth Highlander was almost able to rescue some, but they failed by mere feet. As a result of this disaster the offshore oil industry has been changed, with changes in rig design, operational procedures, safety equipment, and extensive emergency and lifeboat training.

General References and Links:

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Today I received an email from PanArt, the makers of the hang drum, regarding the procedure to obtain one. This was in answer to a previous email I made a fairly long time ago. Basically you have to make an appointment, go to Switzerland, and have a hang specially designed for you. They will be selling a series in April, and another series sometime this summer.

Here is the English version of the letter in its entirety. Note that they only have a limited number, and that you have to successfully arrange an appointment and plan to stay for a day. You have to come alone due to space limitations. They only serve one customer at a time. It reminds me of a Haj or Pilgrimage, but having heard one of these instruments I think it is worth it.

For those committed enough, good luck!

email: info@hang.com

Letter from Hangbauhaus

Bern, End of March, 2007

From Sabina Schärer and Felix Rohner, Hangmakers

We thank you for your interest in our instrument and for your patience.
In our Hanghaus lie the fruits of our winter’s work, and they are
waiting to meet their new owners.

There are very, very many who have written us. Heartfelt letters have
reached us from all parts of the world. We especially thank those, who
along with their compliments have also asked us to proceed with this
gift with great care.
This we will do.

Please read the following lines through slowly, and try to understand
in which sense and spirit we are thinking of passing on the instruments
we have made.

A Short History of the Development of the Hang.

The new instrument known as the Hang was born in January of the year
2000 in Hanghaus in Bern.
Responding to the impulse of a ghatam player we formed a great sphere
out of a couple of raw forms for Steelpans that were lying around the
workshop, which had in them a number of concave tone fields. At the
time, no one recognized what this was to mean, and no one could play
it, either.

However, this gave us, the Hangmakers, a unique possibility to make
further progress in the art of tuning metal. Our understanding of the
physics of various musical instruments of the world now flowed into
this new thing. A new musical dimension was now opened for human hands,
and this new thing was named the Hang, which signifies hand in the
dialect of Bern.

In the years that followed we tuned these “resonance bodies” with all
sorts of scales, eavesdropping on the particularities of the scales of
the world: Arabic, Persian, Indian, Chinese. The journey went clear
around the world, always keeping in mind the tuning of the new
instruments. We sent these instruments to all continents and received
music in return. It was a productive time!

It appeared more and more that this instrument was not just a
percussion instrument, but something that raised new questions
regarding the very nature of music. Hang players reported amazing
experiences with the instrument, for themselves and also for their

Now we are proceeding to make the Hang even closer to people: The sound
is becoming softer, deeper, and clearer. We found the courage to leave
behind the world of scales.

In the spring of 2006 we presented a new generation of Hanghang
(Hanghang is the plural form of Hang), which pleased people right from
the start. Each instrument was unique in sound and tuning, and received
a soft upper surface of annealed brass, with a ring of brass around the
circumference, covering the formerly sharp rim.

Because the worldwide demand for ever more instruments could not be
met, we decided to end all distribution through music shops. Interested
people came in the summer and fall of 2006 to Bern, where they could
find their instrument at their ease – or, to phrase it differently,
where their Hang could find them.

Spring of 2007.

The Hanghang that came out of this winter look like those of last year.
Yet, when seen up close, you will notice that the placement of the tone
fields has changed. This innovation has led to a clearer sound that
radiates outwards with more strength.

The harmonic fifths combine and produce a charming overtone music,
which, in a manner of speaking, appears in the acoustical space above
the playing. While with the Trinidadian Steel Pan the octave of the
fundamental is the most powerful harmonic, with the Hang we give the
fifth more power, with the dome shape of the tone fields. Pay attention
to this, next time you hear a Hang. The allure of Hang playing does not
lie in virtuosity, but in playing intuitively, in such a way as to
allow space for these sounds.

Seven or eight harmonically tuned tone fields are arranged around the
central tone, the DING. With all Hanghang the DING is a D3 (Re3). The
DING resonates together with the GU resonance of D2 (Re2) when you play
with the instrument in your lap. This is the ground resonance of the
air which streams in and out through the GU, when it is activated by
tapping the DING or the shoulder of the DING. The throat-shaped GU has
its own high resonance (D5, Re5), aligned with the DING side. In the
tone circles of all the new Hanghang you will find the fifth, A3, plus
D4 and A4.

The remaining tones are tuned by the Hangmakers in artistic freedom.
For example, here is just one possibility:D3 (central note); tone
loop:A3C4D4E4F4 G4A4.

In all cases, the fundamental aspect of the tuning is D, its fifth, and
its octave. In this harmonic cathedral, infinite dynamic musical
possibilities are opened up for Hang players. The gentlest impulse from
the hands is amplified by the tension in the lens-shaped resonance body
of the instrument. The result can be a music that goes right under the

How the instruments will find their players:

An appointment will be necessary to purchase a Hang. There will be a
limited number of Hanghang made available during the month of April,
and again for one month only, later in the summer (dates to be
announced). Please do not just show up at the door.There will only be
one Hang made available per person.
Please come alone, as we will not have the facilities to receive
additional guests.
Payment is made in full on the day of purchase.
We do not ship orders.

What to do next:

In the event that you are interested in acquiring a Hang, please send
us an e-mail. Please include your telephone number in all e-mail

In our reply we will send you information on the price of the Hang, its
protective shells, bags, boxes, and how you can make an appointment to

We will not be in a position to respond to calls and faxes and e-mails
before the first of April. You will not receive confirmation of an
appointment before this date. Please do not come to visit if you have
not received this confirmation.

Once you have an appointment, indulge yourself with a train trip!
Hanghaus lies but a few minutes’ walk from the station. If you have
made an appointment, we can offer you a free night in our guest rooms.

Ron Kravitz and David Kaetz will be here in April to receive you. Both
are musicians, and Hang players right from the beginnings. Between them
our colleagues speak English, French and German, and we Hangmakers can
also speak with you in Spanish and Italian.

We thank you for your attention and send musical greetings from

Sabina Schärer and Felix Rohner, Hangmakers

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A good friend mentioned DST and the possible impacts of it both on her and on people in general. In my profession it has several impacts, and because of my background there are other impacts that may be of interest. For a number of years I have worked as a weather forecaster, and it affects our job significantly for a number of reasons. First, we maintain a 24/7 work schedule. This means that some of us will get our shift reduced or increased by an hour during the changeover dates.

Second, and of more importance is how it affects how much time we have to make our forecast products. The computer guidance, and some of the most important guidance, are sent to us at 0000 and 1200 UTC (basically Greenwich Mean Time), and this occurs at the same real time every day of the year. This means that when DST pushes local time ahead one hour, we have one less hour to absorb and use the new guidance to produce our forecasts. Since DST is mainly in the summer, this usually isn’t so bad because the weather isn’t usually calmer than winter weather, but the spring and fall are very hectic, because the weather is still very active. We really look forward to the extra hour to consider the data and model guidance which we get during standard time in the winter. The new schedule effectively makes the spring and fall periods when the weather is still dangerous ,and when we have less time to consider conditions because of DST, longer by about three weeks

The third factor is the length of our shifts. It works out that we get up before dawn and go home after dark for all the the winter and much of the spring and fall. This can get fairly depressing, and in the spring I personally like being able to get up after dawn and not having to live like a vampire outside work hours. Also, the amount of sunlight experienced affects circadian rhythms significantly, especially in the mornings. Most people wake up much more naturally and with less stress when the sun is up, and kicking back sunrise in the spring after a winter of darkness is not a pleasant prospect.

Finally, during the time change some computer-assisted products may screw up their time stamps and header data. Usually the CS people fix them within a couple of days, but because the DST changeover occurs on between 1-2 am Sunday morning, we have to monitor all our product outputs to make sure the time stamps are correct until at least Monday morning, and this during the first few shifts were we have less time to forecast. It’s an unnecessary annoyance and potential cause of confusion and trouble.

For this job in particular DST has many more disadvantages than advantages. Other professions were public services are time dependent, and where shift work is involved, should have some of the same problems (except possibly for the partially automated computer products).

On a less personal note, over the years I’ve found out a few bits of trivia and useful information about DST. Here goes:

  • Newfoundland was the first in North America to institute DST with the Daylight Savings Act of 1917. The main idea was to use the extra dayight in the morning, and to use the extended evening hours for recreation, etc.
  • A major proponent of DST are various retail and recreational interests (Golf, fast food, etc).
  • A major economic drawback are due to effects of changes in sleep patterns twice a year. In the U.S. the impact is estimated to be at least in the tens of billions of dollars, not counting health effects.
  • Traffic fatalities in the U.S. during the period DST decrease, but during the changeover periods increase slightly. The net effect is a decrease of about 0.7%, which translate to about 280 fewer people dying every year. For Canada, the same 0.7% would translate to about 20 fewer people dying each year.

Personally I would prefer that there be no time change during the year. Either use Standard Time or Daylight Savings Time year-round, or maybe some compromise time scewed towards dawn being a little later on the clock. This may make more sense than you think, since Standard Time has been reduced by about 4 weeks to 127 days per year. Many of the advantages of DST are controversial, especially the energy benefits, and I think the health effects for a large part of the population may be a deciding factor for me. Also, I have an aesthetic appreciation for solar noon occurring at something near 12 o’clock, 😉

Regardless, this whole discussion is the traditional seasonal signal for spring and the equinox, which will occur March 21 at 0007 UTC(GMT), which means March 20 at 9:37 pm in Newfoundland and Eastern Labrador, and 9:07 pm in the Maritimes. Here comes the Sun! 🙂

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About a month ago I needed to break away from school and work. I rented a car and wandered south along the coast. I was hoping for some nice pictures, but the weather and sky didn’t really cooperate. However, I made the best of things and kept my eyes open. Here are a few of the things that made the trip worthwhile.

First I drove towards Peggy’s Cove, hoping to get there before sunrise. As I passed a lake, I saw the dawn blazing on the clouds and reflected on the lake ice.

Cold Reflections of Dawn

When I made it to the Cove it was mostly cloudy, but the sun peaked through nicely three times, allowing me to shoot these.

The first image was sunrise through the clouds.

Prospect's  Sunrise

The second was when the Cove became sunny for a few minutes, and there were little ice pans from the upper part of the bay.


The third and final sunny image was a silhouette I saw as I was leaving the cove.

Steel Dawn

As I drove around the Bay I stopped at Northwest Harbour, a picturesque little harbour surrounded by hills, and well known for its colourful boats. However, what drew my eye that day was the quietness and the calm of the water.

Sunday Reflections

When I made it to Mahone Bay I found this little park on an island with a path around it. The bay was pretty calm, and the overcast sky had little clouds below the main deck reflecting on the bay. Just looking out on the bay would reduce your blood pressure, and I came away fairly relaxed.

Cold Lunch

Then I drove up the side of the LaHave River, which is about the size of the Humber River in Western Newfoundland, and which usually freezes up every winter. As I drove along I saw a rainbow conglomeration ice fishing tents and shacks on the water, which I had never seen home in Newfoundland when I grew up; we’d just cut holes in the ice and wander back and forth between the holes, and occasionally we’d make a fire on the ice to keep warm. In this case there was a seemingly semi-animate tree observing the activities of the strange hominids who would willingly sit on the ice for hours in temperatures near -15 C.

Huorn perplexed by human recreational practice.

Further down the river I saw an iceboat, which I had only seen once before. It was scooting along in a brisk breeze at about 60 kph, and I was driving along the river road at the speed limit trying to keep up. Then I found the boat’s home base and parked, trying to get a non-blurred image whenever the boat came close enough to shoot. It looked like a lot of fun, but when I fall out of a boat I’d rather fall into liquid water, and I’d also prefer my watercraft not to have three huge blades attached. However, these boat can easily exceed 100 kph, and if you like speed, they have plenty of it.

Breezing along at 70 kph.

While I was sitting in the car and shooting (to avoid the cold) I noticed a Merganser Duck in the water near the shore. It wasn’t looking at me, so I carefully egressed the vehicle and tried to get closer. I wasn’t careful enough, and he lit out like a bat out of a Persian Hell (i.e. cold), but I did get this snapshot.


Finally I headed back, and one of the sights that I enjoyed on the way home was of the shore-fast ice in the upper bays.

Tied up for the Evening

Finally I came back into town relaxed and refreshed, except for a sore posterior from sitting in a care for over eight hours. Despite the bad lighting I saw some unique things, hiked around a bit, and just enjoyed the day. Maybe I’ll get out again before the spring breakup, and maybe conditions will be nicer this time.

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Mumbling Monkey took this from JD2718. I took it from her.

Look at the list of (100) books below.
Bold the ones you’ve read.
Italicize the ones you want to read.
leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
Movies don’t count.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25 . Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible (and the Q’uran)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo) (except half the chapter on Waterloo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

I’ve read 62 so far. I’d like to read about a dozen more of the list. I agree with Mumbling Monkey that this list probably isn’t reflective of great literature; it looks more like a combination of standard classics with some great modern literature and a heavy sprinkling of current pop literature a.k.a. the Times bestsellers list. Having said that, it is a reasonably good sample of what a well read person with fairly wide tastes would read (which is definitely not me).

Personally, for me SF&F is a kind of hobby and my primary interest for entertainment reading. However, I like good literature in general (I usually get it from the library whereas I buy SF&F books). I also like history, the history of technology and ways of thinking, military history, different cultures, physics, math, astronomy and astrophysics, and an eclectic mix of anything else. Most of the books on the list were read when I was much younger and had more time to read.

This was a great idea Sarai. Thanks.

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 Gone to the Dogs recently showed a meme on literature that she received from Mumbling Monkey. I thought it was kind of cool, and tried it on my own. Then I thought of a small variation. Some of my best friends like fantasy and science fiction, and I’m also somewhat fond of it. This list is from the Science Fiction Books Club.

Bold the ones you’ve read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put asterisks beside the ones you loved (the more asterisks, the more you liked it).

The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002

  1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien*****
  2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov*****
  3. Dune, Frank Herbert*****
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein****
  5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin****
  6. Neuromancer, William Gibson*****
  7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke*****
  8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick****
  9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley***
  10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury****
  11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe**
  12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.*****
  13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov****
  14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
  15. Cities in Flight, James Blish****
  16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison****
  18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison*****
  19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester***
  20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
  21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card*****
  23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
  24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman*****
  25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl***
  26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling**
  27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams*****
  28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice*
  30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin**
  31. Little, Big, John Crowley
  32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny***
  33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick****
  34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement*
  35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon**
  36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
  37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute**
  38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke****
  39. Ringworld, Larry Niven*****
  40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys*
  41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien****
  42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut*****
  43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
  44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner**
  45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester*
  46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein*****
  47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock*
  48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
  49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
  50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer****

I’ve read 42 of the above, and of the remaining 8 there are 3 waiting on my shelves. From the list it seems my interests and likes are fairly broadly ranging, and I like hard SF and Fantasy about equally well.

Among those I like, one highly under-rated book is A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. He only wrote a couple of books in his life, and this one has been in continuous publication for about 50 years. I first read it when I was 14. It is about the rebuilding of civilization from a nuclear holocaust, and discusses among other things the nature of humanity and its ability to learn from past mistakes. Parts of it are searing, and its take on how people react morally feels extremely real and insightful.  Finally, I guarantee you will be questioning some of your own views and beliefs before it is over.

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