Sunday, March 29, 2015

Two Reviews

Two overdue reviews from my February reading.

Eric (Discworld, #9; Rincewind #4)Eric by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Engaging escapism combined with Pratchett's customary wit and prodigious imagination. In this installment we return to the misadventures of Rincewind who finds himself the captive demon of an angst-filled adolescent on a quest for world-domination and self-gratification.

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23122312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is with regret and frustration I found myself at the end of Robinson's much-acclaimed novel 2312. I've spent a great deal of time thinking about why. Perhaps it was the preponderance of scientific terminology this reader found daunting and falling too far into the expository, while for some Robinson's prodigious understanding of science and what might be possible in the far future would be fascinating.

The characterization had moments of brilliance, but overall fell too far into the unidentifiable and understandable. For a brief segment there was an occurrence and journey which very much put me in mind of le Guin's brilliant novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, but alas that sense of epic journey dissipated.

There are sections which are meant to be in the form of found fragments of notes from a journal, very much stream of consciousness. But, again, very often slipped into the extreme end of the scientific so that the average reader, without knowledge of higher sciences, was without frame of reference.

And in the end the entire novel felt like an exercise to demonstrate Robinson's personal knowledge, rather than a novel to challenge and entertain. The plot, if one could call it that, revolved around terrorism and revolutionary planetary colonies, so that once again I felt as though we were dealing with spies in space.

Very, very disappointing, from an author I had long respected.

Your mileage may vary.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

The heartache of false allegations

I have lived my life privately, never believing in the drama of public declarations of personal details. That sort of behaviour has always smacked of something belonging to pain-mongers like Jerry Springer or Geraldo Rivera, a sort of coliseum mentality. Voyeurism.

During the past year, however, that desire to live a dignified, decent life has eroded under the constant onslaught of false allegations brought on by my daughter, Kelly Stephens, through a blog ironically I encouraged her to create: see none hear none.

This past week her cries of abuse have reached a shrill and very public crescendo, albeit presented with seeming grace, bravery and eloquence.

And so, the damning evidence:

I present this here in the interest of full disclosure.

The complete transcript of the speech Kelly delivered to the Mississauga Celebrating Womanhood gala on March 14, can be found here.

There are times when a state of grace can only be maintained through silence and acceptance. There are also times when it is necessary to address injustice and present a more balanced picture. Had my daughter's accusations remained part of a personal blog which may, or may not, contribute to her coping with bipolar and borderline personality disorder, I might have been of a mind to remain silent, to allow her to go through the process, find balance.

Her assertions, however, have now become very public. And I, my husband, and my son now stand accused, tried and convicted in a public forum in which we have no recourse to defense or justice.

I could enumerate all the accusations with assertions which clearly contradict the alleged veracity of her statements. I could open the entire very personal, very private history of our family for the entire world to read.

But I will not answer an injustice with an injustice. I will refrain from allowing this tragedy to travel too far into voyeurism.

It is tragic in the extreme that both my daughter and I believe in empowering women, giving voice to victims, championing the helpless. It is also ironic in the extreme that I, my husband and my son find ourselves standing as the accused and condemned, we who have embraced the concept of a better, kinder society.

How are we, as a society, ever to evolve toward a paradigm of transparency, honesty, and peace if at our very foundation we also allow accusations and condemnation to occur without giving due process and recourse to the accused? I, my husband and my son are now guilty by virtue of public opinion. Certainly it would seem Kelly's psychiatrist has allowed our guilt to enter the realm of reality. And it would seem the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board have also accepted our guilt without proof. It doesn't matter what we do now, how loudly we proclaim our innocence, or how hard we attempt to live a life of decency and trust. The allegation is out there. And thus suspicion grows.

It is a Salem witch trial in 2015.

And we are not alone. Just do an internet search for false allegations of abuse and you will find cases all over the world of people staggering under the weight of this sort of behaviour.

In our quest to empower victims, let us not forget to also empower truth. Let us not forget about due process. Let us not forget the accused also have a voice, and sometimes that voice is one of innocence.

Kelly, my dearest daughter, if you read this, remember that you have been loved, cherished, supported and championed by us all your life. Remember all those conversations in the wee hours, the rescues both physical, emotional and financial. The shelter both physical and spiritual we opened to you without question. Remember these things.