Thursday, March 19, 2015

A peak into Guards! Guards! and Merchants of Doubt

Since Terry Pratchett passed away a week ago (GNU Terry Pratchett), I have been re-re-re-reading Discworld books, so for Book Beginnings on Friday, here is the start of Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett (8th Discworld novel and the first book in the City Watch/Sam Vimes cycle) ...

This is where the dragons went. 
   They lie ... 

Not dead, not asleep. Not waiting, because waiting implies expectation. Possibly the word we're looking for here is ...

    ... dormant. 

And although the space they occupy isn't like normal space, nevertheless they are packed in tightly. Not a cubic inch there but is filled by a claw, a talon, a scale, the tip of a tail, so the effect is like one of those trick drawings and your eyeballs eventually realize that the space between each dragon is, in fact, another dragon. 

They could put you in mind of a can of sardines, if you thought sardines were huge and scaly and proud and arrogant. 

And presumably, somewhere, there's the key. 

And for nonfiction, in recognition of the film, here is the beginning of Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway ...

Ben Santer is the kind of guy you could never imagine anyone attacking. He's throughly moderate – of moderate height and build, of moderate temperament, of moderate political persuasions. He is also very modest – soft-spoken, almost self-effacing – and from the small size and nonexistent d├ęcor of his office at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, you might think he was an accountant. If you met him in a room with a lot of other people, you might not even notice him. 

But Santer is no accountant, and the world has noticed him. 

He's one of the world's most distinguished scientists – the recipient of a 1998 MacArthur "genius" award and numerous prizes and distinctions from his employer – the U.S. Department of Energy – because he has done more than just about anyone to prove the human causes of global warming.     

For The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice here is a bit from around page 56 of Guards! Guards! ...
It was the finger. The finger was a mistake. The Patrician was staring coldly at the finger. Van Pew followed his gaze, and quickly lowered the digit. The Patrician was not a man you shook a finger at unless you wanted to end up being able to count only to nine. 

"And you say this was one person?" said Lord Vetinari. 

"Yes! That is–" Van Pew hesitated. 

It did sound weird, now that he came to tell someone. 

"But there are hundreds of you in there," said the Patrician calmly. "Thick as, you should excuse the expression, thieves." 

Van Pew opened and shut his mouth a few times. The honest answer would have been: yes, and if someone had come sidling in and skulking around the corridors it would have been the worse for them. It was the way he strode in as if he owned the palace that fooled everyone. That and the fact that he kept hitting people and telling them to Mend their Ways.  

From page 56 of of Merchants of Doubt we have ...

Named for General George C. Marshall – the American architect of European reconstruction of Europe after World War II, which had been designed in part to head off the spread of Communism – the Institute was "intended to raise the level of scientific literacy of the American people in fields of science with an impact on national security and other areas of public concern." Jastrow raised initial funds for the Institute from the Sarah Scaife and John M. Olin foundations, well-known funders of conservative causes (until the mid-1990's, he avoided taking corporate money). 

The Institute would promote its message through the distribution of "readable reports, books, films, etc." They would also hold "training seminars" for journalists, on the fundamental technologies of Strategic Defense, starting with one in December 1984, and also for congressional staffers. In a letter to Nierenberg, Jastrow explained how he'd also been busy writing articles and op-ed pieces to get their views on the radar screen and provoke debate. 

Just FYI - since this is rather opaque - this bit is all about the jockeying around that went on around the Strategic Defense Initiative proposed by Reagan and the creation of the George C. Marshall Institute - a conservative "think-tank" that is decidedly anti-environmental in its views and was described by Newsweek as "a central cog in the [climate change] denial machine".

There is the trailer for the film


  1. Ohhh, I can't wait to hear you review Merchants of Doubt!

  2. I've never read Terry Pratchett, but feel like I've gotten to know him through all his blogging admirers. The quotes you chose from him are intriguing, and pull a reader in. Here's my post.

  3. I will miss Terry Pratchett's way with words. Both of your quotes show how good he was with attracting attention with his writing.

  4. Two very different books. :) Great teasers.

    Friday Memes

  5. Guards! Guards! sounds like a fun fantasy. I love the description in your excerpts. Such clever writing.
    Merchants of Doubt sounds thought-provoking. Thank you for including the trailer.
    My Friday post features THE SNOW CHILD.

  6. I've not read any Terry Pratchett yet, I've always meant to but could never find the time. I am definitely going to try and read at least one this year though.

  7. I think I read one of his book a long time ago. I just haven't heard of this one, so thanks for sharing. :)

  8. I'm so glad you posted the excerpts from Guards Guards. I somehow have never read any Terry Pratchett but have heard so many wonderful things about his books. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Great Terry Pratchett series! One I should re-read myself!
    Happy weekend!


Hi! I do read all of the comments and want to let you know that I really appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to leave a note. Work has fallen in on me and I have not had enough time to reply coherently lately so I apologize preemptively but still want to assure you that your comments are valued. I am using comment moderation to avoid using more annoying spam avoidance. Thanks for your patience.