October 28th, 2002

The Monday Lunchtime "Welcome to GMT" Review: The Martian Child

David Gerrold is an interesting writer, his many novels running across the whole gamut of science fiction, and with significant media credits as well. This, however, is not a genre novel. This is fictionalised autobiography, in a similar vein to Mike Harrison's Climbers. This, The Martian Child, is his story, as a gay man, of his adoption of a disadvantaged child, and his struggles to build a family from the new relationship.

The Martian Child is a short novel, but one that grabs the reader and throws them into the author's life. It takes you from meetings with social workers, to the tender construction of a relationship with a child who finds it difficult to trust. We follow the story through tantrums and trauma, to hope, to dreams, and yes, to love. David's relationship with Dennis is a fragile one, and complicated by Dennis' past. There are many hurdles to overcome in the two years the story covers, but there is ultimately triumph in the finalisation of the adoption, and Dennis' realisation that relationships are not temporary.

An engrossing, and quick read, with heartfelt emotion on every page. It's also an inspiration to anyone struggling with the conventional definitions of family - yes, there are other ways, and yes, they do work.
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More fun with Amazon's APIs (this time, actually coding to them)

Working on this month's XML column, I wrote my first simple search application for Amazon. It's a very simple piece of Perl, and I haven't bothered developing an XSL stylesheet for the returned XML yet (especially as I'm requesting the "heavy" version of the response XML). But, it does work. And the code to do it is surprisingly short. I am a bit annoyed though that Amazon has yet to release an updated version of WSParser.pm for the 2.1 version of their API - as the version in the 1.0 SDK is now broken...

Meanwhile I have yet to work out why the fresh install of Mandrake 9.0 on my home development system isn't running CGI applications. I have a feeling it's probably due to the Perl proxy support it has out of the box, but that's just a guess so far... It's annoying, as trying to debug that took up nearly 4 hours, time that could have been spent in actually writing body copy.
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