What The Hell’s The Deal With Ian McDonald’s River of Gods?

The book’s been highly praised, widely reviewed, and yet most of the bookshops I checked for it at (in Canada) had never even had it in stock at any point in time.

Moreover, now that I’m asking an excellent book order service about it here, I’m told that it’s actually out of print! How can such a good book already have gone out of print? It’s insane.

Well, maybe they’re changing the rights or reprinting it or something?

Oh, wait: no, it’s just that the release in the states is simply years behind the release elsewhere, according to the author’s website.

Well, then I can always get my hands on it in March 2006… but I’d rather not wait that long. If someone has a paperback they’d like to trade for, say, some interesting short Korean fiction, or an excellent book of Korean poems, or something, let me know. I really want to get my hands on this book, and there is, after all, a pocket paperback edition out already in Britain. (But lacking a credit card, I can’t order it from Amazon.co.uk.)

3 thoughts on “What The Hell’s The Deal With Ian McDonald’s River of Gods?

  1. Hi,

    I think I came across your blog about 2 years ago. I was going to take a position at Jeonju University – Brian Heldebrand, I believe was the fellow interviewing candidates. In fact, I think you were hired the previous semester.

    At any rate, It all fell through for personal reasons and I ended up taking a position in a university in Taipei.

    How do you like living in Jeonju?
    Is the contract still pretty good in terms of work conditions and time off during summer/winter?

    Fred Shannon

  2. Hey,

    Ah, I see. I thought the people who were hired had been the first to be offered the position they got. Well, that’s interesting.

    Jeonju’s alright, a little quiet but then I am in the right stage of life, right now, for a little quiet and a little isolation. It’s not a bad place if you’re into reading in coffeeshops, or going on weekend trips to temples and other sites of interest. I’m not crazy about the whole “foreigner” scene but I suppose it used to be, well, as lively asd most places and less retarded than some.

    As far as work conditions, well, I guess it’s better than a hakwon, and there are frustrations everywhere… right? But it’s still 4 months of paid holidays, though one of those you’re expected to work a camp (of course, paid overtime). The hours are less now than you would have been interviewing for. Work conditions, I guess it depends how you define that. Hmm.

    Aside from the fact the photocopier and printer are almost never working, the tangibles are pretty good—air-conditioning, materials, computers, office resources, and only 15-class hours a week, plus a couple of hours in the English cafe. The intangibles, though, it’s a little harder to be honest and positive about. Let’s just say I think most teachers feel that there are many improvements remaining to be achieved.

    But anyway, how’s work in Taipei?

  3. Hey, Gord.

    You’re right – Your job is difficult to compare with a hogwan. It’s a lot better without a doubt.

    Yeah, I was offered a position but in the end I didn’t make it to Korea. I believe the salary was a tad low in comparison to other universities(1.7 Mil per month if I remember correctly).
    Jeonju offered a good amount of time off, though, compared to other schools.

    Brian mentioned that I would have to teach a summer or winter camp and that at that point it seemed to be ‘voluntary’ as to which teachers would teach the camps – maybe this has changed.

    Gordon, I don’t know if you know this but the universities in Taiwan are controlled quit a bit by the government. The MOE here dictates the hiring criteria and the work conditions for all faculty university teachers.

    For example, we must have a minimum of a master degree and at least 2 years documented teaching experience. The MOE requires us to get all our academic documents certified/notarized by the government of the country in which we obtained our degrees and then they are further verified by the Taiwanese govt.

    At the end of this process we are issued a teacher’s license or “Certificate of Lecturship” which allows us to teach in a university anywhere on Taiwan.

    Taiwan is the only country in the region that I know of that does this.

    I guess academic fraud has been a problem in the past, so they’ve attempted to crack down on it.

    MOE stipulates number of hours per week and the monthly salary. No matter where you work, your contract terms would be pretty much the same. I work at Chinese Culture University in Taipei City. The university also has 3 satellite campuses around the city where we can also teach if we want the over time.

    Hours: 10 per week

    Office Hours: 6 (schools have more control here)

    Salary: NT$54,000 Lecturer, NT65,000 Ass. Prof.

    Bonus: 1.5 month

    Vacation: 5 months (3 in the summer, 2 in winter)

    Office: shared, phone, own desk, computer, bookshelves

    Support: each teacher gets a computer, desk and has unlimited access to photocopier and we can get all our handouts printed over at the printing department.

    Some other aspects of the job inlcude:

    Large classes: 64 students in a single class!

    New Library: Huge TESOL, Applied Linguistics section, journals (TLT, JALT, TESOL-Journal, etc.). Computers all over the library connected to the internet.

    Free Faculty Bus: Fortunately, it drives by my street.

    Methodology and Materials: We can teach what we want and have direct access to publishing companies. I can call up Cambridge or Oxford and have materials sent to my office for free. I have amassed quite a collection of free materials, videos, CDs, and Linguistics and TESOL texts. I normally go to a local conferences here in Taipei and spread my business cards around and have built of some relationships with a few of the people at Longman, Cambridge and Oxford. I try to use something from each company.

    Classrooms: Each classroom has DVD/Video/CD players, projector, white boards, Computer connected to the internet, sound system. I have taught with a lot of video clips, power point presentations and have used Google.com/Imgage to bring up photos for students if I’m trying to explain something. The classrooms are quite modern.

    Overall, not a bad job – probably as good as it gets for EFL.

    I’d only worked conversation schools prior to this and was thoroughly burned out on them. I think it had something to do with them being purely business ventures with education taking a back seet to profits.

    Anyways, It looks like I’m headed to Australia in a week or so to start a Doctoral program at The University of Queensland. I’ll be back in Taipei at the end of September though to teach here until January and then will go back to Brisbane. I’ll be spending all of my vacations for the next 2 – 3 years on campus to be near supervisors and to use the library.

    Oh yeah, the Taiwanese government does not recognize or accept master degrees, or any degree for that matter, obtained through distance study. No exceptions. So, if you know anyone wanting to teach in a university in Taiwan and the have one of those TESOL M.A. degrees done on-line or through distance study, they won’t be able to get their degrees recognize.

    Fred Shannon

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