I’m not a computer programmer or anything like that. I mean, I’m pretty okay with my html and css and don’t get scared by sql queries, but actually writing programs or plugins or the like is beyond me. So I was very happy to find this blog post with the tools and explanation of how to use them for stripping the DRM off purchased ebooks.
I’ve been using an ereader for over half a year now and I like it, but I’ve only been able to fill it from places like ManyBooks (which is an awesome site for free ebooks in a multiplicity of formats) because I want to be able to move my ebooks around from ereader to ereader after I spend money on them. But Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Chapters and Sony all want you to be locked in to keep on buying their ereaders, so they make their books unusable on the other companies’ devices. Which is bullshit.
Until I read that post above, I knew it would be possible to strip the DRM off and free up the things I bought, but didn’t know how. The best part of those tools is that they’re plugins for the opensource ebook manager I was already using, Calibre. So now I can buy books for my Sony reader at Amazon and they’ll work. I’ll be able to buy current fiction instead of reading Shelley, Verne and Lovecraft. In fact, I already have.
Sadly enough this means an iPad (or iPad2) is now not as out of the question a device for me as it used to be. I’ll be strong and resist. It’s not like I have the money to throw at such a device anyway.
It’s kind of sad when the Lovecraft book is the least racist in a series, but it’s also kind of good, because I really like At the Mountains of Madness. Most of why I like it is because of how ass-backwardsly the story is told.
The first 40% is telling the reader this story as a kind of cautionary tale about going back to Antarctica, but it’s done in this “As you know from the news reports…” style that doesn’t convey a lot of cautionaryness. Then the last 60% is a recounting of 14 hours that got glossed over the first time the story was told.
In those missing 14 hours the narrator and a pilot went off investigating an alien city. The most frustrating thing about this part of the story is how hyper-competent this geologist and pilot were at deciphering millions of years of history written in sculpture and alien dot languages in flashlight lit bas-reliefs on walls. I mean, the amount of backstory they deciphered was unimaginable. Lovecraft puts forward that their discoveries that these Elder Things (I use the more standardized term as opposed to Old Ones which is used in the story, because these aliens are fundamentally different from the Great Old Ones and I’m not a big fan of confusing them) had a civilization millions of years ago before fighting Cthulhoid creatures as well as the fungi from Yuggoth as sanity shaking, but the fact that a few hours in a cave could figure all that shit out is amazing. There must be stories that take this story and run with it in the “that guy made up a whole pile of crazy shit direction” right?
But the description in parts is pretty awesome. It’s a very exploratory story, and I like that. If it had a more sensible timeline I’d like it better. The actual horrific reveals are good and understated and not prefaced by the narrator’s “I must be direct even though i don’t want to. I have to warn you, but not intrigue you” shtick, which gets old really fast.
But the whole thing, though it’s told weirdly and you know that they get out all rightish because the end is written 40% into the story, is kind of endearing. Lovecraft’s obsession with decadence is in there but that’s about as offensive as it gets. It works as a story and I like it like an odd uncle.
At the Mountains of Madness draws on Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, but much more obliquely than Verne’s Antarctic Mystery (and there’s no reference to the Verne tale at all).
It’s a sequel set 11 years later when an intrepid man learns that Poe’s fantastical tale of imagination was actually true! Then he joins a captain who’s looking for his lost brother who was also on the ship Pym was on. There are hidden identities and sailing and mutinies and uncomfortable racial profiling and loads of Men of Vision not feeling bad when they cause people to die because of their ideas.
I liked the style of this a bit better that the Pym book, but the dismissal of the people who were fed up with sailing to the south pole to look for some guy who had undoubtedly died 11 years ago annoyed me. Something approaching two dozen people died to save four people. And the cost is only given the lippiest of service. I guess that’s what happens in a true tale of Science!
But I love these versions of Antarctica with their tropical islands and channels past the pole and icebergs that get caught on the ocean floor. Next up: At the Mountains of Madness. And then maybe my historico-mythical Antarctica kick will be over. Or maybe not.