24 December 2010

Day 272: Smallworld

Smallworld by Dominic Green.  ISBN: 9780956492531 (eBook).

Mount Ararat is a tiny, tiny planetoid with roughly 20km of livable surface.  The only ones left alive from the 60-something settlers that originally arrive on the planet is the Born-in-Jesus family, their adopted children, and the hermit known as Uncle Anchorite and his service bot.  The Born-in-Jesuses have quite the large family, between their natural fecundity and the unfortunate death of most of the adult population.  Let's just say there are a lot of "kids say the darnedest things" moments sprinkled throughout this work.

One of my favorite lines was between one of the younger children when she declares she has an invisible friend named Beezlebub.  When asked what the friend looks like she responds with, "Nothing, he's invisible."  Other than the fact that some people out there are severely worried for this fictional child's fictional soul, this is hilarious and one of the things I will miss out on by not having overly precocious children of my own.  And invisible friends are definitely one of those strange and wonderful phenomena that I think I would enjoy observing in my own children (at least up until the age of about 11, at which point I would become worried).

I don't think I ever had the opportunity to have an invisible friend.  This was mostly prevented by having a twin.  About the time he stopped being a playmate and more of a pain-in-my-ass, I learned to read and did so voraciously.  Not only did this method provide me with hours of entertainment, it also allowed me to spend lots of time in my room alone without my family worrying about my social development.  I did Pretend a lot.  Oh god, this is going to be one of those posts where I embarrass myself...yeah.  So... one of the main things I used to Pretend, especially in the car, is that I was part of a Family Matters/Full House-style sitcom intro.  And omg, shut up, I know for a fact that I am not the only one who did this. Sitcoms were hella popular in the 1980's and 1990's.  We all wanted to be that kid on the Wonder Years or Boy Meets World and supposedly be set for life.  I know I wanted my parents to pay as much attention to me as they did those kids on TV for a full uninterrupted thirty minute segment.  Although the amount of time that sitcom-parents spent with their sitcom-kids in non-TV-watching scenarios would have been even more preferable.

In other cases I spent my time Pretending to be an explorer of some type.  I did a lot of digging and looking for rocks.  It wasn't particularly physical, but it did involve a lot of walking and looking at nature, such as there was on an Air Force Base.  I often created games in my head, some that led more towards profit than not, such as, "How many trash bags of cans can I pick up and take to the recycling center?"  But for the most part I never invented a friend for myself.  It probably would have helped me with the loneliness in some ways, but after the first couple of moves and finding out that I would never be anyone's best friend, I didn't really want to be around people at all.  Books were a good way of having an "invisible" friend that I wasn't judged for, and if something bad happened to one of my favorite friends I could flip back to the beginning of the book and start reading all over again.

What about you, reader?  Did you have an invisible friend or did you rely on some other method?  What was your invisible friend like?

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: I was contacted by the publisher and asked to review this book in exchange for a digital copy.  However, that digital copy is currently available (as of this posting) for free download from Fingerpress.  If you want to know more about the company, I also conducted an interview with the founder Matt Stephens.


  1. I'm pretty sure at some point I knew you were a twin but then I forgot this bit of Amy trivia. I have a twin sister (I think you know this) which I think was more beneficial to me than if I'd had a twin brother. Boys are weird. My sis and I would play Barbies all. the. time. We were homeschooled for a long time, so us four kids just kind of played with each other and the neighborhood kids, then everyone started to go back to public school before I did, and I had a sort of "falling out" with the neighborhood kids, so often I was left to my own devices. I never had an imaginary friend, but on long car trips I too Pretended I was part of a sit-com, though I chose Friends and I was like the Newer, Funnier Chandler and everyone loved me. I also drew a lot of comics about Super Dudes who fought Sunmen, who were not unlike the Power Rangers Putties. (Puddies?) I still have these somewhere; they were "silent comics" because I would make up the story in my head as I drew, so when you read 'em you just kind of have to make up what you think is happening. They're pretty great, haha.

  2. I never had invisible friends, I don't think. I was more apt to give personalities to my toys and stuffed animals. I also did a LOT of pretending (and, if one wishes to be condescending about RPGs, I still do). There were War games with the neighborhood kids, as well as doing stuff like playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers, and a couple of games of our own design. I just want to say right now that I am really jonesing for some D&D. Just putting that out there.

  3. Dayna,
    Yeah, I remember Erin...it was Erin, right? What's she up to these days? You would definitely be a funnier Chandler. Somehow I get the feeling I'd be stuck playing the role of Ross in that show, which makes me kind of sad.

    Omg, get a life, go find some D&Ders. Love you.

  4. i would totally play D&D, or some similar RPG, I am just afraid of being a total noob.

  5. Dayna,
    I wouldn't worry about that too much. Most D&Ders are just thrilled to have girls playing. Also, I have heard that all girl groups of D&D are amazing.

  6. I would totally play in an all-girl D&D group.

    ...Oh, wait.


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