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I read through 土摩托’s 经度之战 last year even though it’s pretty badly written, even though he’s a journalist for the best Chinese magazine. He’s a lot better at blogging about his own stuff. What kept me going was the actual events, and my enslavement to RSS.

The other day I was wandering in a bookstore and caught sight of Galileo’s Daughter, and the cover has a line “Author of Longitude” below the author. I got Longitude from the library and found it’s almost equally badly written. Yet I think I may buy the illustrated version just to see the amazing time machines.grasshopper escapement

The book was just too dull and dry, so it became apparent why Tumotor’s sucks too, as his may be more than based on the book. Maybe it’s a bad joke of imitating John Harrison’s notorious writing.

Here’s a comparison of the two, of which I’m sure any XYS veteran will cry foul at a glance.

In all, four of the five warships were lost. Only two men washed ashore alive. One of them was Sir Clowdisley himself, … as soon as the admiral collapsed on dry sand, a local woman combing the beach purportedly found his body and fell in love with the emerald ring on his finger. Between her desire and his depletion, she handily murdered him for it. Three decades later, on her deathbed, this same woman confessed the crime to her clergyman, producing the ring as proof of her guilt and contrition.

就这样,在短短的几分钟内,整个舰队的5艘战船沉没了4艘,1600多名水手被淹死。只有两人奋力游到了岸上,其中一人就是肖维尔爵士本人。可是,就在他精疲力竭地躺在沙滩上休息时,一个贪婪的妇女发现了他。为了得到他手指上的那枚绿宝石戒指,她残忍地杀死了肖维尔爵士。30年后,这位妇女临终前向牧师坦白了自己犯下的罪恶,并拿出那枚戒指做为证据。

If I were to write the book, I would start it with this story since it’s so dramatic and movie-like.

Except that I won’t, since it may be totally a folklore, together with the story of hanging the sailor who suggested they’re heading for a wrong direction, according to this site of a purported historian. Of course, neither Sobel nor Tumotor did or should research into this tale extensively, since it’s just a footnote to their main story, yet it damages the credibility of the main story.

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