I recently learned from friend and fellow-SFF writer Trent Hergenrader that there is a tabletop RPG (The Warren) that sounds like Richard Adams’ Watership Down with the horror elements amped up. Watership Down is mostly a romance of adventure, danger, flight, with some mystical/wonder stuff. But there is horror, too.
[Spoilers follow] In one section of the novel the main rabbit cast meets a colony of rabbits who are living in the wild but being maintained by a farmer who puts out food for them and protects them from predators. He also sets traps now and then when he wants a meal of rabbit. The rabbits are aware of this, in some rabbity way. They know they lead a charmed life, but at the cost of a rabbit disappearing now and then. They are living a horror story. Instead of fighting or fleeing, however, they have developed a gothy culture that romanticizes death. (Aside: it is this sort of insight and leap of imagination that makes Watership Down a great novel rather than merely a good one. Adams has, in James Blish’s famous phrase, not just ideas, but ideas about his ideas.) The main cast, when they understand the situation, are disgusted and horrified. Adams appears to feel the same way, that the gothy rabbit culture is decadent, even degenerate. Not proper rabbits.
It occurs to me that the current kerfuffle over the use of users’ on-line data and our trail of digital footprints across the web has the same moral flavor. We are the gothy rabbits. We have been given a glittery on-line playground of entertaining toys, all for free. But there is a cost. Every mouse click, every keystroke is recorded, analyzed, sold for billions and billions of dollars in the aggregate, and then used to gin up advertisements that exploit, with varying success, the interests we have inadvertently revealed. That dig into our souls to discover what we covet, what we love, what we hate, what we fear, and then use it to sell us stuff.
To be fair, viewing an ad for a 100-pack of Harley-Davidson plastic oil pan drain plugs (a recent Amazon ad targeted to me) is not as bad as being snared in a leg trap and turned into rabbit stew. We have made a deal with the devil, but the devil is going easy on us, as these things go.
Trading one value for another is a normal part of human life. But this business with on-line personal data is a new situation, a new trade-off. We’re still trying to evaluate it. Are we making the right choices? Is the value we receive greater than the value we give up?
Are we being proper rabbits?
Upton TC30. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: uniformly dark BOP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea has typical spicy black tea scent. Brewed tea scent is toasted, yeasty. Taste: mild, briary, with notes of malt and cardboard. Fruity finish. Strongly astringent.
Kandy is a major tea-producing region of Sri Lanka/Ceylon. The maltiness is reminiscent of Assam teas, not usually found in ones from Sri Lanka. I like the malt and the finish, not so crazy about the cardboard.
Upton TC23. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: BOP-size bits, mostly dark with some pale, see photo. Dry tea scent spicy, camphorous. Brewed tea scent is sweet, lily-like. Taste: sweet, floral. Moderately astringent.
You could not make this tea’s name fancier without putting gold braid and a fourragère on it. Like some other Ceylon tea, it is dominated by a sweet, lily-like flavor which is not to my taste.
I am delighted to announce that HALF-WITCH has been selected by the Junior Library Guild. The Guild supplies libraries with the best books for young people. It’s an honor for HALF-WITCH to be selected.
I’m delighted, obviously. Fantastic review by Kirkus. This book’s off to a great start. We launch July 10. I’m getting excited, how about you?
Upton TT89. 2.2 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 180℉. Impression: leaves compressed into pellets, see photo. Dry tea smells sweet, candy-like. Brewed tea scent is floral with a hard-to-place candy-like scent, almost like bubble gum. Taste: Delicate, floral, with notes of lily in particular. Mildly astringent.
Taiwan (“Formosa,” to the tea trade, which is hilariously conservative with respect to names of origin) is the source of many fine teas, with which I am mostly unfamiliar because they tend to be pricey. This was purchased as a 12 g. sample. It gets only 3.5 stars because I’m just not that fond of flowery oolongs. I prefer baked oolongs, like the wu-yi types.
Long ago, the ancient builders of my abode angled its walls and windows so that each year, on January 4th, the sun would shine through the TV room window directly on the cat.
My first look at an ARC of HALF-WITCH, from Gavin at Small Beer! Love it. Notice the July, 2018 publication date. This only an ARC: the cover copy will change a little when the novel is actually published.