Monday, June 14, 2010

Our Birthday Celebrations

Rona Gallery's 10th Birthday kicked off with an exhibition, then there were Peter Rabbit and Spot the Dog with a great story time pantomime just after lunch, and finally a readers and writers evening featuring Dame Fiona Kidman and twelve other poets -- hosted by Mary McCallum enjoyed by over seventy Eastbourne writers and readers.

Some Photos

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seeing Further, the Story of the Science of the Royal Society -- edited by Bill Bryson

The Royal Society was founded by curious scientists able to "see further" to change the world around them. Today it illuminates the vast achievements of modern science and continues to push back the frontiers of knowledge.

Sir David Attenborough

From it's humble beginnings in 1660 where a dozen men came to hear a lecture on astronomy from the young Christopher Wren, it became the most prestigious scientific institution on the world. Wherever you lived, whatever language you spoke, if you loved science this was where you wanted to be.

From the crazy, to the improbable to the downright they looked at everything, were fascinated by everything. Taking nothing for granted. Refusing to be bowed by external politics or wars. Recognising science and not just wealth - a big step in the 1600's - the royal society epitomises scientific thought and discovery.

This book has essays spanning not just the giants of Newton and Darwin, but the birth of modern science, and how this impacted on everything from "pure" maths, to bridge construction, from evolution to the Mars mission. The fascination and the passion and the much fought over methodology. Even the idea of the mad scientist is explored as a reaction to the almost magical way in which science not only changes the landscape, but changes the very perspective from which we see it.

22 authors provide 22 windows into this remarkable institution, from the dusty basements filled with 350 years worth of scientific discovery to the lofty individuals that strode through science turning the world in their wake.

Buy now NZ $49.90 Free postage in NZ

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

At the Gates of Darkness by Raymond E. Feist

There's a nasty demon thing trying to break through into Midkemia, and the intrepid characters are trying to stop it.

With Magician, Raymond E Feist created a stunning world rife with potential, but the latest instalment, "At the Gates of Darkness", takes about half a book just to get everyone up to date with all his characters. As a reader I don't need character arcs that are completely unrelated to the plot -- however cool they were the first time round.

Of course if you've read many, most or all of the previous books, this is a great re-union, and on the plus side it does star demon-fighting good guys with shady pasts. The elf brothers sneaking through demon country were great -- and if only Raymond had focussed more on them, and less on Pug and that cast of "old favourites", it would have been a better story. One of the reasons his collaboration "Daughter of the Empire" series with Janny Wurts worked so well, was that although some of Raymond's characters popped up on occasion, but they didn't get in the way of the plot, stomp all over it and.... no, I wont give away the ending, but you can probably guess.

It's also a shame that like many other long-running series, some of the simple charm struggling to break through the story is overwhelmed by the huge and unbelievable forces arrayed against the protagonists -- and the huge and unbelievable resources they have to fight back with.

Review by Alicia Ponder


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