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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten
Lili fait des cauchemars - Unknown Author 625 There's a rather nice classic SF short by Peter Phillips called Dreams Are Sacred, which seems to be one of the first examples of the idea of literally entering someone else's dreams - it may be a distant ancestor of Inception. The narrator starts by explaining that he'd suffered from nightmares when he was a kid. His father was a practical, no-nonsense kind of guy, and he had a practical, no-nonsense solution. He takes the kid out to the firing range and shows him his Colt 45.

"Here's Billy," says the father. "Let's see what he can do."

They try shooting bullets through targets and heavy bits of plank. It's a hell of a powerful weapon.

"Okay," says Mr. Practical No-Nonsense. "This evening, when you go to sleep, you'll have Billy with you in your dreams. Those monsters are going to think twice about tackling Billy." And indeed the hero sleeps much better.

In this book, Lili is also suffering from nightmares. They're awful. She wakes up screaming, and matters come to a head one night when she attacks Max in her sleep. He's really pissed off about it. Lili feels guilty and tired. She asks her two best friends, Clara and Marlène, for advice.

Lili's so lucky to have a friend like Marlène! She delivered the goods in Lili se trouve moche, and she's once again equal to the occasion. That afternoon, she and Clara arrive at Lili's dressed up as witches.

"WTF?" asks Max.

"Exorcists-R-Us!" says Marlène. "Hm, lady, looks like you've got a bad case of monster infestation here. But don't worry, we know how to deal with that. BY THE VIRTUE THAT IS IN ME, I HEREBY CONJURE YOU TO RETURN..."

They've been making a lot of noise, and Mom comes in. She also wants to know what's going on. Marlène explains.

"Hm, well, sounds like it could be useful!" she says politely. "But maybe we should talk about this more ser... ah... together!"

They all sit down over cookies and hot chocolate. "Come on, Lili!" says the astonishingly adaptable Marlène. "Tell Mom about your dreams. You know you haven't really done that."

Lili hasn't dared describe the worst ones, where she's killed and eaten while the parents look on unconcerned. Dad is shocked, but Mom seems to have done a couple of psychology courses. She tells Lili about how it's normal to have anxieties which can surface in your dreams. It's actually a good thing, even if it seems scary. Then they go out for a meal at their favourite Chinese restaurant.

That evening, the monsters are suddenly well-behaved and polite! They're just about to give Lili a tour of Monster Wonderland when she wakes up. She's disappointed she didn't get to see it, but maybe next time? The problem has miraculously disappeared.

Was it Mom's psychobabble or Marlène's practical, no-nonsense approach? You decide!