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Having Broken the 100-Page Barrier 


Monday, March 13, 2006

Continuing, ever so slowly, with Perdido Street Station, Matt recommended that I make myself more reading time by going to a teashop after work and there sneak in my reading time. So I did just that after work.

The little Tea Muse Cafe, always criminally empty, is where I sank into an armchair for an hour and a half of delightful reading, with a cup of jasmine blossom tea and dinner (chocolate muffin).

Tea Muse Cup

As I progress through Perdido Street Station, I have noticed patterns in what affects me most in reading this novel - the theme of Remades, or Franken-beings; the theme of libraries; and the vocabulary, of which the complexity inspires me to look up words every few pages.

I want here to address tonight's unknown words: oleaginously, synaesthetically, femtoscopes and moiled.

Let's start with page 104: "Something swirled oleaginously through a huge vat of liquid mud: she saw toothy tentacles slapping at her and scouring the tank." Having the properties of or producing oil, is the definition of oleaginous. Quite frankly, if I were some mudborn creature, this would piss me off. On the other hand, the sicko in me sees plenty of possibilities in my own novel. I've rather shifted from a working title of The Vampire Carnival to the Chriselda novel to Skin, and I am, at the moment, more into briars, thorns, thistles, quills, teeth, spines, razor blades and prickles in terms of tactile themes, but maybe I could expand into oiliness. Thank you for the inspiration, weird word.

Then page 106: "Snippets of alien joy and inhuman terror wafted in her nostrils and ears and behind her eyes, synaesthetically." The production of a mental sense-impression relating to one sense by the stimulation of another sense; or, a sensation produced in a part of the body by stimulation of another part.

Page 107: "She pushed it closed and bolted it, before turning happily to join her white-suited fellows staring into femtoscopes..." Femto- is too confusingly mathematical to render here with a lack of the correct character. I took my search to the internet, where the femtoscope's inventor appeared: "Ahmed Zewail was awarded the 1999 Nobel prize in chemistry for developing the femtoscope, which photographs the actual moment of molecular binding of chemicals. Born and raised in Egypt, he is now a naturalized American citizen who holds the Linus Pauling Professorship at the California Institute of Technology."

Even more fascinating:
"Zewail’s technique uses what may be described as the world’s fastest camera. This uses laser flashes of such short duration that we are down to the time scale on which the reactions actually happen - femtoseconds (fs). One femtosecond is 10-15 seconds, that is, 0.000000000000001 seconds, which is to a second as a second is to 32 million years. This area of physical chemistry has been named femtochemistry."
As I tried to place femtoscopes within the steampunk trappings of Perdido Street Station, I revisited the definition of steampunk itself - "modern technological paradigms occurr[ing] earlier in history, but ..... accomplished via the science already present in that time period." Ok, I can slightly accept femtoscopes in the novel.

Page 111: "The clouds just visible through the skylight moiled vigourously, dissolving and recombining in scraps and shards in new parts of the sky." Moiled, there's a word to which I should have paid attention the last time I looked it up.

Drudged. As in toiled and moiled. Should be easy enough to memorize this time around.

Eighteen pages notched against the novel's 698. Another couple of hours devoted to reading tomorrow, then nineteen more days to forming a reading habit and I should be ready to join the world of the well-read soon enough.

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