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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
The Bent Sword - Stephen Gashler As they got closer to the river, they noticed that there was something in the middle of the ford. By the time they had reached the bank, they could see that it was a huge fish.

"Good morning, Steffin!" boomed the fish. "I am Kilgore Trout. I am a Science-Fiction Writer Who Had Ideas, But Didn't Know How To Write Them Down."

The name sounded vaguely familiar, but Steffin couldn't quite place it. He also wondered what a Science-Fiction Writer was.

"What can I do for you, Mr. Trout?" he asked, as politely as he could.

"Steffin," continued the fish, "I have some important advice for you. Listen carefully."

Steffin was by now tired of being given advice by well-meaning sages, but he couldn't see an alternative. He sighed.

"Okay, Mr. Trout, why don't you tell me?"

The fish looked at him disapprovingly.

"I can see you aren't taking me seriously," he said. "But I know all about you. Steffin, you and your friends are searching for Lord Bore. You intend to challenge his domination of the world, and destroy the Box of Boredom."

"Hey!" said Mammoth. "How come you told this fish what we were doing, and not us? Your loyal followers?"

Steffin felt extremely awkward. "I was going to," he stammered, "but it didn't seem to be the right..."

The fish ignored him, and continued.

"All this world you see around you, you have made up by telling stories. But, without realising it, you are carrying out Lord Bore's work for him!"

He paused for dramatic effect.

"You're supposed to say 'How?'" he whispered, holding a fin to his mouth.

"How?" mumbled Steffin, now completely bemused.

"Well may you ask!" answered the fish. "You neglect Style. Your story is Stylistically Dull. It's Boring. You are Lord Bore's greatest servant and helper."

Steffin felt completely crushed. Tears sprang to his eyes.

"Is there anything I can do?" he said.

"Ah, indeed there is!" said the fish in an unpleasantly paternal tone. "Study the classics, my lad! Homer! Cervantes! Chaucer! They have all had the very thoughts you are having now, but they knew how to turn them into beautiful language. Read their books carefully, and you, too, will learn their secrets!"

"So," said Steffin, "you read this... Homer... and you..."

"Well," said the fish hastily, "I haven't actually got around to reading him yet. But I have seen Troy on DVD. That Diane Kruger. Phwoarr!"

He lapsed into a meditative silence.

"Alright," said Steffin, "Sir Vantes. How about him?"

"Okay, okay!" said the fish, plainly irritated. "He's on my list. Don't be so damn literal. It's the idea that counts."

Mammoth and Garrick had been nudging each other. Now Garrick spoke up for the first time.

"I'm hungry!" he said. He moved closer to the water.

"Me too!" agreed Mammoth, as he followed him. "And I've got almonds in my backpack."

There was suddenly a great deal of splashing and screaming.

An hour later, Steffin wiped the last of the delicious truite aux amandes off his plate with a piece of bread, and belched contentedly.

"What was that he was saying about Style?" he asked in a sleepy voice.

"God knows!" answered Garrick.

"Amen!" agreed Mammoth piously.

Within a minute, they were all snoring soundly.