July 2013


Many may know of Studio Ghibli’s movie “Kiki’s delivery service”. What many may not know is that this is based on a series of books by a Japanese author (although set in a fictional Eastern European country [one with a coastline]). The books are really sets of short stories rather than novels per se, or so $WIFE tells me. Having watched Kiki (in Japanese 魔女の宅急便 or Witch’s Home Delivery Service) too many times lately due to $DAUGHTER, and having had $WIFE explain that the author had finally finished the series of books of tales with a finale in which Kiki’s daughter (by Tombo) heads off for her “year away” at 13, I asked $WIFE to get the books for me. It seemed to me that I should be up to reading teen literature in Japanese. She picked up the first book earlier this week and I’ve now started reading it, which is quite hard going but so far just about feasible for me. I’m reminded of an experience in the mid-90s though. A friend of mine was a nurse in London at the time and I used to visit her whenever I was there. At first she was staying in the nurses’ accommodation – multiple occupancy apartments owned by the hospital, and quite nearby (in this case right next door). She had a roommate who was a fairly nice guy but not really the intellectual type. My friend is an SF reader, though not an active fan. She told me on one visit that her flatmate had borrowed one of the early Terry Pratchett Discworld books from her and finally returned it a month later saying he’d really enjoyed it. it wasn’t that he’d taken a month to get around to reading it. He’d taken a month to read it. Being both heavy readers my friend and I found this rather alien. We figured he must be having to read every word as an individual word and then figure out the meaning of each sentence before moving on to the next. I’m feeling a bit like this with starting to try to read Japanese for “pleasure”, though of course part of the purpose is to improve my Japanese, but I’m also reading it because I want to know the story. I think I may be already ahead of friend’s flatmate’s English reading ability, though.

The first week this month, I was in LA. A few days after getting back from that I flew the other direction to Denmark. After a week of me being jetlagged at home $WIFE headed off to Canada leaving me to do my part of taking care of $DAUGHTER as a lone working parent (I am NOT complaining about this – I do it too often to her and she doesn’t complain). She arrived back in Tokyo yesterday and less than 24 hours later (just fourteen hours after she arrived home I left home) I flew out on the trip I’m currently in transit on. I’m in the Senator Lounge at Munich airport in transit to Lisbon (there are no direct flights from Tokyo to Lisbon that I can see, so I’m on Lufthansa via Munich on the way out and Frankfurt on the way back). Two days after I get back to Tokyo I head off to Hong Kong. At least that’s a medium haul flight, daytime flight both ways and only one hour time difference. I get a break from travel then until late August and Worldcon.

Unfortunately my talk is the first one in the first session after the opening plenary tomorrow morning, and because of the connection I’mnot even scheduled to land in Lisbon until 21:50. Still, I’ve no hold luggage and Lisbon airport isn’t far out so I hope to get to the hotel and fall over by around 23:00.