Synopsis: “From the author of The Postmortal, a fantasy saga unlike any you’ve read before, weaving elements of folk tales and video games into a riveting, unforgettable adventure of what a man will endure to return to his family
When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize that the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily. With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects.
On a quest of epic, life-or-death proportions, Ben finds help comes in some of the most unexpected forms, including a profane crustacean and a variety of magical objects, tools, and potions. Desperate to return to his family, Ben is determined to track down the “Producer,” the creator of the world in which he is being held hostage and the only one who can free him from the path.
At once bitingly funny and emotionally absorbing, Magary’s novel is a remarkably unique addition to the contemporary fantasy genre, one that draws as easily from the world of classic folk tales as it does from video games. In The Hike, Magary takes readers on a daring odyssey away from our day-to-day grind and transports them into an enthralling world propelled by heart, imagination, and survival.”
I don’t recall how The Hike made itself known to me. It may have been something I read from Jeff Vandermeer, or it could be from a list of books that I should be reading. Either way, I ended up purchasing this one and only knew what I read from the blurb on the Amazon page.
When I was a few chapters into the book I had debated about calling it quits as it is one of those tongue-in-cheek, smarter than you type books, or at least that is how it felt in the beginning. But knowing it was a short book, coming in at less than 300 pages, I knew it would be over quickly and I could put it out of my misery. However, as I continued to read the story of Ben and the smarminess disappeared and I started to find myself engrossed in the story.
While the “Producer” became a little predictable a little before the reveal, there is another little ending that was foreshadowed that I had forgotten about until Magary brought it back to my attention. It was this even, an event I won’t spoil for you, that made the whole adventure worth reading.
The Hike has a lot of great moments in it and once you get past the smugness of the beginning truly unfolds to be a decent little read that doesn’t get enough publicity. There are quite a lot of little nuances to the book that I would probably really pick up on if I were to do a re-read. Overall, The Hike won me over.
As a teenager, whenever I’d complain of dandruff or itchy scalp, my mother would tell me to douse my head in mouthwash. Though I hated to admit when she was right, this little trick worked every time. Even after I went away to college and discovered that the reason most every scalp/hair explanation or ritual my mother had proposed ended in epic failure was that my hair was actually “ethnic” (vis-a-vis birth culture discoveries/identity crisis) and could not be treated as simply White-person-curly hair, the mouthwash strategy remained a go-to for irritated scalp. Inevitably, the mouthwash will come in contact with hair, but it seems that hair, in any texture, doesn’t react–it made no difference whether my hair was relaxed, bleached, half-kinked, or all natural. The roots never complained.
Say you have dry winter head when December hits, which is what happens to me. Or after a workout your head itches to no end and you just washed your hair yesterday and can’t wash it again today or it will bloom into a giant, dried-out Afro. Get out the mouthwash. (Fluoride rinses do not work. Nor do non-alcohol based mouthwashes.) Pour a capful on your scalp, and immediately the minty liquid tingles and seals the pores. Rinse. Done. Problem-free scalp that lasts at least a week or two.
The only other thing I’ve found that comes close to soothing scalp is tea tree oil, but it doesn’t always work right away for me. Mostly I stick with the mouthwash, and every winter when I reach for the bottle of Scope before stepping in the shower I think, “Guess what, Mom? You were right.”
It was a dark night, but far from silent. The wind was whistling in the trees and the leaves were dancing along the ground with a strange, scraping sound. それは暗い夜でしたが、静けさとは遠いものでした。風は木々の間をヒューヒューと吹きすさみ、葉は地面に沿っておかしなキーキーという音に併せて踊っていました。
I was taking a shower when the phone rang. シャワーを浴びていたら、電話が鳴りました。
She was talking to Abdul when Tom came and interrupted her. Tomが来て割り込んだとき、彼女はAbdulと話していました。
I went to the London School of Music when I was 12 and, at that time, I was practicing the violin for four hours a day. １２歳のときに、ロンドン音楽学校へ通いました。その時、一日４時間バイオリンを練習していました。
利用場面 ４: 気持ちの変化
「こう思っていたけど（こうするつもりだったが）、やっぱりこうする」というときにwas/were going to ～ を使って気持ちの変化を表します。
I was going to go shopping but then it started to rain. 買い物に行くつもりでしたが、雨が降り始めました。（雨なので買い物をやめました）
They were going to spend their vacation in Hawaii but decided to stay in Japan instead. 彼らはハワイで休暇を過ごすつもりでしたが、代わりに日本で過ごすことにしました。
利用場面 ５: 丁寧な言い方
丁寧なトーンの表現に過去進行形を使うことがあります。例えば、I was wondering if ～という表現は、丁寧なトーンで何かを依頼するときの言い方です。I was wondering if ～は一種の定型句で、現在の依頼であっても過去進行形を使います。
I was wondering if you’d be able to send over the files today. あなたがファイルを本日配布できるかどうかと思っているのですが。
You can find many web pages and videos that show the workings of the Bennett, so I’ll just post a few glimpses here.
A disassembled ribbon cup and the ribbon advance mechanism:
Getting the metal to shine was a matter of rubbing patiently with Mother’s Mag and Aluminum Polish (using a rag, and Q-tips around the decal). The base, which is easily separated from the mechanism, was cleaned with Turtle Wax paste wax.
Now for those two technical tricks I mentioned.
(1) I owe the first insight to Keith of YEG Typewriters in Edmonton, Alberta. In the photo on the left below, there is an eccentric nut held down by a screw. As you turn this nut, you will affect the position of the typewheel when it reaches the printing point. (There are two such nuts, controlling the left and right sides of the keyboard.) The nut must be adjusted so that the holes in the typewheel line up perfectly with the aligning peg at the printing point.
(2) The right photo below shows the bottom of the mechanism. You can see a tiny wheel in the center of the photo; there are two such wheels. You can also see a spring that pulls the mechanism back from the printing point after every stroke (this is actually similar to a Blick). Friction can stop the mechanism from retracting completely, and the typewriter will then fail to move a space forward on the next stroke. In order to avoid this friction, the mechanism needs to be raised just slightly, so that the wheels run lightly and easily across the base. This lift was originally achieved by small felt circles around the screws that connect the base to the mechanism. I had lost all but one of these pieces of felt. Sticking a few new bits of felt on the base allowed the mechanism to move easily back and forth!
Serial number 13103 is stamped on the right rear corner (the photo on the left below also gives you a good view of the right eccentric nut). The number 286 is barely visible, too, scratched into the back of the carriage.
Well, it’s been a week! At the moment of writing, I suspect that my esteemed colleague and UK’s Astrological Journal editor Victor Santo Olliver is lying down in a dark room with a wet cloth on his forehead, recovering from no less than twelve radio interviews in the space of a few days, all devoted in essence to explaining why Ophiuchus is not and never has been a zodiacal sign.
If you have been hiding in a damp cave somewhere far away with no access to social media and have therefore not been exposed to the huge pointless fuss, first of all this short piece of mine from a previous Ophiuchus-fest will give you the bare facts of the matter. You may also wish to read a much longer, more erudite article by respected astrologer Deborah Houlding going into the issue in more depth.
Next, do read this Press Gazette piece in which Victor is quoted, which should give you some insight into the media’s generally hardening attitude towards astrology and the reasons for this.
I left a comment on Victor’s Facebook Page where he’d shared the above article, to the effect that what he had said was as ever, clear, accurate and to the point. I then went away and thought about the whole issue of why this especially frenetic attack by the media – producing many, many articles by a range of astrologers refuting what was being said – had flared up at this time.
For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts, with thanks to Victor for stimulating them:
In this time of uncertainty and fear we are living through, I can understand why in general terms the media are trying to root out inaccurate misrepresentation –or fake news – which is dangerous in the political and cultural sphere. However, it seems clear that using this as an opportunity yet again to attack astrology is just another example of the left brain versus right brain cultural wars which have intensified ever since the scientific revolution of the 17th century.
A long-term problem is that the left brain cohort have never taken the trouble to investigate the large differences that exist between two discrete types of astrology. The ‘astrology lite’ of the popular press – at its best! – is well written by intelligent and thoughtful people and helps to put the lives of we small individuals into the context of a meaningful bigger picture, if only for a few moments of reflection in a busy day.
This astrology fronts a deeper, more powerful in-depth practice requiring years of study and practice to master at any useful level; It has a 6000 + year old tradition upon which to draw in terms of observation of the interaction between our solar system and the collective/ individual lives of the humans who inhabit it.
However, the standard bearers of the left brain cohort e.g. Dawkins and Cox, have never taken the trouble to embark on any in-depth study which would reveal the power and value of that astrology which lies behind its popular mask.
I was an astrology dismisser myself many years ago, until I took the trouble to embark on some serious study of the art and science which is astrology (since its major strength lies in combining right and left brain perspectives on the human condition) and have been a practitioner ever since. Until ignorant and prejudiced people decide to exhibit a little humility in properly investigating a deep and powerful field of knowledge before dismissing it, I fear we astrologers are not going to make any progress in reducing the increasing levels of prejudice which are being directed against us.
My own personal approach to this, and I know it is the approach of many fellow astrologers whose work I respect, is to ‘hold the line’ as it were by demonstrating through respectful, ethical, and well-informed and trained practice, an in-depth astrology which has been helpful and enlightening to innumerable numbers of people throughout history.
I think that engaging with an increasingly polarised and nasty public debate on this is pretty futile; all we can usefully do is set a good example by quality practice, as I have said above.
However, in the spirit of exchanging views, agreeing to differ, and not vilifying one another in the process, I realise that not everyone shares this view!
Citing a long history of erasure and silence surrounding the Nigerian civil war, author Tochi Onyebuchi wrote WAR GIRLS (Amazon) to illustrate the way that the tensions that incited the conflict–economic, religious, tribal–exist today and how they might play out in a post-apocalyptic future. I didn’t know any of this history when I started the book and the story stands admirably on its own (interested readers can find additional reading in Onyebuchi’s afterword).
WAR GIRLS is rooted in the specifics of Nigeria and the conflict, and Onyebuchi’s talent lies in making the futuristic world of mechs, space colonies, and irradiated wastelands feel not like window dressing, but an integral part of the story.
WAR GIRLS opens in the 2100s. Sisters Onyii and Ify live in an entirely female enclave of former Biafran child soldiers. They scrape together a living, hiding under the radar from the Nigerian forces that would destroy them if they found them, as they consider all Biafrans rebels.
Ify has created what she calls her “Accent,” a truly astonishing piece of tech that allows her to hack into any network, whether to do school work or to take control of an rampaging mech. Unbeknownst to her, however, this same device alerts the Nigerians to the camp’s position and the camp is razed. Ify is taken by the Nigerians, believing that Onyii died in the raid. Onyii is taken back into the Biafran military and redeployed as a soldier, also believing that her sister is dead.
The narrative jumps four years in the future. Both the Nigerians and the Biafrans believe they are winning the war. In Nigeria, Ify learns that Onyii was not her savior, but her kidnapper, taking her as a young child from her family and village. In Biafra, Onyii has become known as the Demon of Biafra for her incredible abilities as a mech pilot. Along with other war girls, she is recruited into an elite forces program. Onyii’s new duties and Ify’s rise in Nigerian society bring them in conflict with each other, and eventually back together.
Along the way, we see more of the personal costs of violence to the lives of the war girls, the exploitative nature of colonialism, the misunderstanding of religion, and the corrosive poison of war at work in the lives of Nigerians and Biafrans alike.
WAR GIRLS has some very cool mech fighting scenes, but it feels disingenuous to sell WAR GIRLS as a book about mechs when at its core it’s a narrative about trauma, sisterhood, and the continuing costs of war. There is a nice turn about a quarter of the way through the novel, where each side’s narrative about the conflict becomes more apparent, and it becomes clear that the characters are not admitting the truth to themselves.
Short chapters and Onyebuchi’s insistent prose drive the narrative forward at a good pace, although the pacing falters in the last handful of chapters, which suffer a series of unnecessary action sequences.
Onyebuchi does an excellent job of letting us into Onyii and Ify’s heads. Onyebuchi tells his story in the present tense, which along with his relatively spare writing makes the story feel immediate and present. Some of the immediacy means that the longer arcs are a little difficult to parse out. For example, while it was clear that Onyii was part of a special military project, the actual explanation about her belonging to an elite corps of soldiers with a secret mission came much too late. There were also some other small signposting issues, which could have made for a more seamless reading experience.
WAR GIRLS’ detailed world building and the specificity of Onyebuchi’s depiction of the war combine to create a compelling narrative.
What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now
this is one of those pure bliss moments. here is my bestie, future husband, and i on our way to california. our first stop was two days in disneyland. it was fab.
1. The excitement of going to AZ!!!! I cannot wait to see my family and meet all the sweet littles that have been born. I cannot wait for them to meet Navy. I cannot wait for the heat. I cannot wait for lunch with friends. I just cannot wait.
2. My sweet baby girl. She makes me happy every day.
3. My husband…I have a good husband.
4. The hope that ONE day my bangs will be grown out because right now is HELL.
In the previous posts in this series I’ve proposed an extreme synthesis of the Predictive Processing (PP) idea, as proposed by Andy Clark in “Surfing Uncertainty” – I concluded with a post that summarised why I think PP is the…