oh, oh!

There’s often an obvious explanation for things. The strange tack in vocal style apparent in the third book was actually not a tack at all, but a different ship, so to say. That audiobook was read by someone else! Back to Patrick Tull in book 4, The Mauritius Command, and all’s well.

Dan Shechtman

Pretty interesting piece in HaAretz about Danny Shechtman, who nearly thirty years ago discovered a form of crystal that was believed to be impossible at the time. For a while he was thought to be a crank and his career was in danger; Linus Pauling at a conference reportedly harshly attacked his research with “there are no quasi-crystals, only quasi-scientists”. There’s a funny understated anecdote there, though: the article claims that despite this attack, Pauling and Shechtman were on cordial terms and that this was the only thing they disagreed on. They were both strong supporters of vitamin C, which is something that gave Pauling himself and iffy aspect of reputation (though I don’t know that anyone said this to his face).

Perhaps the article is guilty of a little bit of hype (there are mentions of a deserved Nobel prize sprinkled here and there) but it has some worthwhile notions and reportage. Shechtman describes receiving a copy of Thomas Kuhn’s book and having strong feelings of personal recognition. This is refreshing for me because although Kuhn thought of himself as a sociologist of science his work has overwhelmingly been appropriated for more total relativist epistemological / cultural purposes, and this instance sort of brings it back to topic.

Anyway, good read for a Friday morning, too bad it wasn’t translated to the English edition.

Patrick x2

I’m “rereading” the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. The quotes are there because this time, I’m using the audiobook version, narrated by Patrick Tull. This rendition has received praises, and I thought it just the thing for a long plane ride (I was right). I’ve reached book three, H.M.S. Surprise, and noticed something peculiar.

For the first two volumes, Tull didn’t do a lot of voice acting. He used a slight Irish accent for Steven, and a little bit of the cockney where it was needed, but the entire thing was understated, yet wonderfully successful at carrying the nuance of the original text. If I had any complaint at all, it was that the reading was a little bit slow, not that I was in any hurry. But other people apparently were, because in this book, the narration is sped up significantly, really quite rushed, to the degree where pregnant pauses sometimes miscarry. Also, there’s a lot more voice acting, which wouldn’t bother me much except he changed Jack’s accent—after two books! That’s like, I don’t know, watching a show on TV and have them switch the guy who plays a main character while pretending nothing ever happened. This is a bit disappointing, and if book 4 is in this style too I might continue “on foot”, i.e., reading the rest myself.

By the way, if you haven’t read any of this series, you should give it a try, it’s fantastic. It begins with Master and Commander and goes on a ways.