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5 January, 2011

Read Wormworld

Via BoingBoing, I've discovered a new online graphic novel* .  It looks gorgeous and the story's very promising, but don't get too excited yet, as only the first chapter is online, and that took Daniel Lieske a full year to produce in his spare time.

27 January, 2010

That sucks

It seems a book has been banned* by a US school district for containing 'sexually graphic' content.

25 September, 2009

The Concern

As anyone familiar with his work will know, Iain Banks has two parallel careers, publishing 'non-genre' novels as 'Iain Banks' and sci-fi as 'Iain M. Banks'.  Several readers like only one or the other, so it's a useful distinction.

4 August, 2009

Unfair competition - fair enough

At the risk of repeating myself, I don't 'support' local or independent retailers merely for the sake of supporting them against competition from multinationals and web-based retailers, literally patronising them for being 'traditional'.

25 November, 2008

Free CSS book

If you're interested in a totally free copy of Snook et al.'s 'The Art & Science of CSS' (£26.59 at Amazon), you have until 23:59 next Tuesday, 2 December, to download it.

15 November, 2008

Review: 'Neverwhere' (graphic novel) (Neil Gaiman/Mike Carey & Glenn Fabry, 2006)

I only have a very vague memory of watching 'Neverwhere' when it was first shown on TV in 1996, but I recall thinking its concepts and story far exceeded the (usual) low-budget BBC execution of it.

25 June, 2008

SFX Top 100 Fantasy/SF Authors, pt.2

This is part 2 of the 'SFX Top 100 Fantasy/SF Authors' meme; I've already listed the 67 authors rated amongst the most popular in the UK but which are unfamiliar to me or whose 'work' I strongly dislike.  That leaves 33 authors worthy of comment, which is still quite a few; certainly more than would prove an indifference or downright dislike of the sci-fi or fantasy genres.

25 June, 2008

SFX Top 100 Fantasy/SF Authors, pt.1

According to Neil Gaiman, the latest mass-meme is to copy the 'Top 100 Fantasy/SF Authors' list from SFX magazine and comment on each.

16 May, 2008

Free Photoshop book

A colleague informs me that 'The Photoshop Anthology: 101 Web Design Tips, Tricks and Technology', £27.99 at Amazon, is currently being made available as a free .pdf download.  The offer lasts until 04:00, 13 June (just under 28 days from the time of writing).

1 May, 2008

Eternal champion

Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, and I agree with much of what he says in his blog, but this time he's speaking for me:

14 April, 2008

Free Iain Banks audiobook

Some might be interested to know that Banks' 1984 debut novel, 'The Wasp Factory' is currently available, for free download, as a 6-hour unabridged audio book.

29 February, 2008

Free(ish) book

To celebrate the seventh birthday of Neil Gaiman's blog on 9 February, Harper Collins decided to offer the complete text of one of his books, online, for free.

10 October, 2007


Calephetos reports that the following are currently the 106 books most often marked as 'unread' by LibraryThing users.

5 May, 2007

So bad, I bought it twice

Last year, I quite enjoyed 'Century Rain', by Alastair Reynolds, so I bought another of his books recently, 'Revelation Space'.  Five pages in, I stopped and checked my 'for eBay' pile.  Yes, I already have that one.  Bugger.

13 February, 2007

Advance warning

Bugger.  I've just added the paperback of Ken McLeod's 'The Execution Channel' to my Amazon wishlist, then noticed that the publication date is 1 February, 2008.

I can wait....

2 February, 2007

His luxuriant beard

Once upon a time, Gideon Defoe, accused of being a distant relative of Daniel Defoe (author of this classic of literature; oh, and this one) wrote a splendidly silly book 'to impress a girl'.  It impressed a publisher, too (maybe the 'girl' was a publisher...), and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists was a low-key hit in 2004.  I loved my copy so much, I gave it away.  Oops.

24 January, 2007

Okay, okay; I'm a believer

I'm only 66 pages into 'The God Delusion', by Richard Dawkins, so it's somewhat too early to present a review, but frankly I see limited point in proceeding much further.

6 January, 2007

Well, read

It's not something I've overtly considered, but, avoiding false modesty, I've always had a subliminal sense of being reasonably well-read.  However, I'm beginning to question whether that necessarily means widely-read.

23 December, 2006

Don't read this

Via Neil Gaiman: the Library Thing UnSuggester.

4 December, 2006


As he has a tendency to do, Neil Gaiman has inadvertently stated one of the prime characteristics of my favourite authors, film directors and musicians:

10 October, 2006

Challenging reading

Heh.  I've just realised one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, qualifies as 'progressive': his material encompasses a huge variety of genres and even media, and some 'works' are immensely long (2000+ pages, in the case of 'The Sandman').

1 July, 2006

All mine

I spent the two hours between 16:00 & 18:00 in the garden, reading*.

When I say 'the garden', I mean Williamson Park, as that's how I treat it.  I can almost always find a quiet corner and reasonable privacy (not quite enough for nude sunbathing, but the world isn't ready for that gross horror and net increase in global albedo anyway).

19 June, 2006

Personal growth

Something that came up at Neil Gaiman's blog over a week ago (I've barely glanced at a blog for 11 days – it's been liberating):

2 June, 2006

Fixing the books

In case anyone was unaware: product placement in a bookshop is rarely on merit, other than the merit of the publisher's bank balance, and 'Top Ten', 'Book of the Week' and 'Buyer's Choice' ratings are invariably meaningless, merely reflcting what the publisher was willing to pay for that status.  I suppose it's different in independent bookshops, but if you buy from high street chains, airport concessions and supermarkets, don't be fooled by spurious ratings.

22 May, 2006

Best sellers

As I've said before, I don't believe in buying locally merely for the sake of supporting local retailers.  If corner shops and independent bookshops are out-competed by supermarkets and national chains, too bad; they represent obsolete market sectors which should be allowed to die if they're unwilling or unable to offer something unique.

16 April, 2006

Review: 'The Difference Engine' (William Gibson & Bruce Sterling, 1990)

Having completed this a few minutes ago, for the third time since 1992, I still don't 'get' it.

26 February, 2006

It's in here somewhere...

These carbon-based data storage/display devices are great for most purposes, but books could do with a decent search utility.  Maybe in version 2.

9 February, 2006

Review: 'The Baroque Cycle' (Neal Stephenson, 2003-4)

Neal Stephenson is one of my favourite authors, so I bought the first volume of his Baroque Cycle, 'Quicksilver' within a fortnight of its publication in paperback (I rarely buy hardback novels).  Unfortunately, it didn't grab me to the same extent as his earlier, cyberpunk, novels, and the dense references to a historical period of which I knew little were somewhat off-putting.  In short, I thought it hard work, even boring.

18 December, 2005

Review: 'Stamping Butterflies' (Jon Courtenay Grimwood, 2004)

I picked up a copy of 'Lucifer's Dragon' from the sci-fi display table in Waterstone's Lancaster in 1998, drawn by the intriguing description on the front cover (of the NEL edition): 'The cybershock sensation'.  It's one of the few occasions when I've bought a book without prior knowledge of it, solely on the strength of the cover.  I did enjoy it, mainly for the pacing and richness of the cyberpunk concepts, but the number and aggression of the sex scenes felt a little juvenile.

11 December, 2005

Review: 'A Hat Full Of Sky' (Terry Pratchett, 2004)

Best Discworld novel yet?  Difficult to say; I only finished 'A Hat Full Of Sky' about 15 minutes ago, so my judgement might be impaired.  It's certainly one of the funniest, with at least five 'laughing-too-hard-to-breathe' moments.

30 November, 2005

SF book meme

Via Tim, a simple premise: take the Guardian's list of the top 20 'geek' novels written in English since 1932, and indicate which you've read.

30 October, 2005

Have you read...?

The BBC reports that Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie, A Very Long Engagement) is to direct a film version of the Booker Prize-winning novel 'Life Of Pi'.  I've enjoyed his films and Yann Martel's book, so this sounds interesting.

Coincidentally, the novel was cited in discussion at the Guardian, following the publication of a survey which claims that 'one in three has bought a book just to look intelligent'.

25 October, 2005

Anything but

Marc Abrahams, organiser of the Ig Nobel Prizes, offers a review of Raymond W. Dull's thrilling masterwork, 'Mathematics for Engineers'.

13 October, 2005

Amazon's not so bad

Alan Bennett, the author/playwright whose home village in Yorkshire happens to be within cycling distance of Lancaster (not that that's relevant) has urged people to boycott major book retailers such as Waterstones and Amazon "to keep their local independent bookshops alive."

Not a chance.

8 June, 2005

Review: Utz (Bruce Chatwin, 1988)

I'm off to Prague next week, so thought I'd better read something relevant!

20 February, 2005

Serial reading

Which authors by whom have you read more than ten books?
No, that makes no grammatical sense.
Which authors have you read more than ten books by?
No, that's wrong, too.
Name those authors of whose books you have read more than ten.
That's better.  Not great, but better.

Here are mine, in alphabetical order.  It's as arbitrary as any other technique.

31 January, 2005

Supplementing the da Vinci code

I read 'The Da Vinci Code' yesterday.  Yes, all 550+ pages - the, er, 'quality' of the prose and plot meant it was easy to read quickly.

Without revealing spoilers, key plot points rely on interpretation of details in Leonardo's (not "da Vinci's") 'fresco' (it's not a fresco), 'The Last Supper', so I did a Google search for an image of it this morning.
I discovered this, a point-by-point rebuttal of Brown's whole thesis (if indeed it is Brown's - there have been credible accusations of plagiarism).

23 September, 2004

Round the Pole to Lancaster

It seems the manager of the University bookshop has suddenly turned proactive: he's secured Michael Palin for a book signing on 13 October.  So far as I know, this is the shop's first signing session.  This has to be a bit of a coup for the campus branch of Waterstones, since I'm not aware of any previous signings, either here or at the 'senior' branch in town.  Well done!

3 September, 2004

Escape from reality

As Neil Gaiman noticed, the first paragraph of this review in the Village Voice is rather odd, suggesting that British authors are good at writing fantasy novels because the UK is horrible, whereas US authors write good sci-fi because the USA is wonderful.  As my mother would say I'd say: "yeah, right".

The Mumpsimus makes another good point about the same paragraph, questioning the underlying assumption that fantasy (and presumably sci-fi) is, by definition, escapist:

9 August, 2004 resolved

I'm pleased to say this issue seems to have been resolved: Katie Tarbox has publicly apologised to Katie Jones for the massive inconveniences caused by the former's book being entitled '', the domain name of the latter's entirely unconnected website.  The book is to be re-released and retitled 'A Girl’s Life Online'.

5 August, 2004

Reverse cybersquatting

Neil Gaiman has already mentioned this, but I suspect it's an issue which would benefit from as much publicity as can be mustered.

In May 2000, the autobiographical account of Katie Tarbox's seduction by an online paedophile was published in the USA under the title ''.  A worthy subject, and it must have taken courage to write.

The problem is that is a pre-existing domain name owned since 1996 by an entirely different Katie, a chat site proprietor in the UK.  With the book's publication, the website received some 100,000 visitors per day and Ms. Jones was swamped by unwanted e-mail, often harrowing accounts of molestation and rape.

25 July, 2004

The story of The Story Of O

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the powerful 'The Story Of O', The Observer offers (I could have said 'submits'.  But wouldn't) memories of its author, Dominique Aury (writing as Pauline Reage).

It's difficult to explain my feelings about the book - it's simultaneously compelling and repellent, fascinating and not at all offensive, in my opinion.

3 May, 2004

Review: 'The Human Front' (Ken Macleod, 2001)

An enjoyable novella, very much in Macleod's usual style combining socialist politics and everyday life in a very credible alternative post-1945 history, but the abrupt shift to the introduction of more cliched 'high sci-fi' elements (flying saucers, interplanetary flight, time travel and interdimensional parallel timelines) was a little disappointing.  Those first three cliched aspects also appear in his 'Engines Of Light' trilogy (2,3), though are are better justified and mentioned only very briefly in the back story, so are successfully integrated.

8 April, 2004

Review: 'Model Behaviour' (Jay McInerney, 1998)

I may be the wrong person to review this book.  Returning from Wales on Tuesday, I faced a two hour train journey with nothing to read, so my mother lent me whatever she happened to have in the house.  If I'd seen 'Model Behaviour' in a bookshop, I wouldn't have given it a second glance, but it's good to try something different occasionally.

25 February, 2004

Review: 'Hallucinating' (Stephen Palmer, 2004)

As I mentioned last month, a new sci-fi book has been released recently: 'Hallucinating', by Stephen Palmer.

29 January, 2004

Porcupine Tree & Ozrics in print

I can't comment on his writing ('cos I haven't read any), but sci-fi author Stephen Palmer's new novel Hallucinating features cameo appearences from a number of real musicians, including Ministry of Info favourites Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and Ed Wynne (Ozric Tentacles).

13 January, 2004

Review: 'Microserfs' (Douglas Coupland, 1995)

Having recently read this for the third time, I'm still undecided about this book.  It's written in the first person, essentially as a diary, so I'm unsure whether the written style is contrived, being that of the narrator, or whether that's just the way Coupland was naturally writing at the time.

3 January, 2004

Review: 'The Fifth Elephant' (Terry Pratchett, 1999)

I've just finished reading this for the second, maybe third time.  It's my favourite Discworld novel, superior because the characters are more three-dimensional, more realistic, less cartoonish.

24 November, 2003

Review: 'American Gods' (Neil Gaiman, 2001)

Over the weekend, I read this novel; all 632 pages in about four sittings, which should give a clear idea of its draw.

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