Almost sort of exactly 201 years ago, Jane Austen died. I must confess I haven’t read much (any) of her work despite Pride and Prejudice and Zombies being on my reading list for some time. Never being one to allow a lack of knowledge to get in the way of a good opinion however, I’m prepared to wager that her collective works didn’t contain many references to the humble kilogram.
Young Jane would have been almost sort of exactly 18 when the French said pas plus to the grain related measurements of the time and invented the kilogram. She would have been far too busy working on her short novel Lady Susan to bother with such new-fangled frippery. She no doubt noted however that the initial name for this kilogram was a grave and as such the literary seed for her zombie based works was sown.
Unfortunately for the grave, it was based on the mass of one cubic decimetre of distilled water at 4 degrees C and further relied on another cutting-edge, but variable measurement called the metre. As such the grave could only really claim to be almost sort of exactly one kilogram.
The grave and therefore the kilogram were further refined over the years until eventually in 1889 a standard block of metal was deemed to exactly and unequivocally be, one kilogram.
“That’s all well and good but what about minute variations due to wear and tear and the accumulation of dust and dirt?” I hear you cry, and a fine and valid cry it is too.
Almost sort of exactly twenty years ago scientists cried the same thing (there is no compelling evidence to suggest that three part harmonies were invoked but I like believe they were) and almost sort of exactly a week ago they decided that good old Planck and his constant would be a reliable basis upon which to reinvent the kilogram.
And so, as we reflect on the 201st edition of a weekly LS roundup we can collectively be almost sort of exactly certain (to an uncertainty level of 30 parts per billion) that a kilogram is now almost certainly a kilogram, a metre is almost certainly a metre and a second is almost entirely without question a second.
Isn’t it wonderful that in a world of such upheaval and inconsistency we can be entirely certain of five more quality stories? Even if we’re not entirely sure whether 5 days is indeed 5 days.
Three new faces book-ended by two legends made up the week. More on the legends in almost sort of exactly a moment but in the meanwhile a very warm welcome to Tao Song, Miriam Burke and Tris Matthews – great to have you here.
Is there really any better way to start a week than with a story from Tom Sheehan? Company of Angels, Company of Men is another beautifully constructed and poignant story drawn from is seemingly endless well of ideas.
“I was enthralled, waiting to find what had tormented the poor soul right to the end of his life.”
“For this to be his last thoughts and considerations was heartbreaking, he had no peace.”
“Lyrical as ever and quite beautiful in places…”
Tao led the charge of the newbies on Tuesday with the edgy, lyrical and downright trippy The Eater.
“This was as out there as we have ever seen.”
“Man oh man, I’ve never read anything about teeth absorption of aura!”
On Wednesday we welcomed Miriam with the unusual and well-observed He Promised Her An Ocean.
“We don’t see many stories about a dominatrix rent boy!”
“…it hooked me in and his determination and matter of fact approach was actually spot on.”
I rambled on about science earlier, and Thursday was science of the well-executed and fictional variety provided by Tris. Good story? Some would say s-Perfect.
“I thought this was both chilling and realistic.”
“…different than the usual manufactured / selected story…”
Friday’s author needs no introduction but sod it I’ll give him one anyway. The always-relevant, ever-provocative and endlessly-inventive Frederick K Foote closed us out with his tale of Peculiar People.
“A strange story that stays with you.”
“…Fred back to his weird and wonderful best I think…”
“The characters are so out there that you continue to think on them.”
I used to be able to state with certainty at the end of a Saturday post that we were done for the week. But having never been entirely convinced whether Sunday is the first or final day of the week I’m almost sort of exactly sure that there’ll be something to start or end your week tomorrow and that it’ll feature a much-loved lady. So look out for the Literally Reruns post and please dig through the archives and send us your suggestions and reviews.
And of course, keep reading, keep commenting and most of all keep writing…