Tags: books

Dublin

Mmmm... stuff...

My birthday yielded The Absolute Sandman, Volume 3 (the kind of gorgeous object of desire that's so heavy, nicely bound and on good quality paper that you'd want to own it even if you weren't interested in the contents). Also Alice in Sunderland, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, unchillfiltered Laphroaig whisky (which I'm sampling as we speak), two Raymond Chandler novels, wine, Fererro Rocher and the finest of foodstuffs, Tunnock's Tea Cakes. I'm led to believe a few other presents may be en route, and my wonderful wife even baked me a chocolate cake. With candles. Best Wife Ever.

In order to spread my feelings of goodwill far and wide, have a few links on me.

kitty_committee really does feature some of the most brain-meltingly cute kittens ever captured by CCD. Every time I see one of their photos I think that kittens couldn't get any cuter, but somehow they do. I want to adopt them all.

One for veggiesu: I notice that ITV3 are doing a six-week season of crime thrillers leading up the allegedly "glittering" ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards. What's interesting is that each week they're showing a specially commissioned documentary profiling "the six best crime writers working today" aka Colin Dexter, Ian Rankin, PD James, Lynda La Plante, Val McDermid and Ruth Rendell. (I leave it up to the reader to decide whether these are in fact the six best crime writers working today whose TV adaptations ITV3 happen to own the rights to.) Could be interesting.

One for swisstone: Head of Roman empress unearthed near the previously unearthed statue of Hadrian in Turkey. Our local news is also banging on about visitors to Hadrian's Wall being up on last year, which they're -- not implausibly -- linking to the British Museum's Hadrian exhibit and associated publicity. I shudder to think that it could have anything to do with Bonekickers instead.

I've put this on Facebook already but look: Chewbacca mouse! Awwww.

Dublin

Mwah ha ha ha ha ha

Inspired by ajr and my need to impose order on our sprawling Heap o' Books, as previously detailed here, we went out this week and bought the tallest bookshelves IKEA had to offer, then bought the extra bits that made them taller, then bought extra shelves for them.

This weekend we de-stacked all the books, dismantled the old bookcases, assembled the new ones and (a first for me) attached them to the wall so they can't fall over and crush us.

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Behold the power of our fully operational bookcase:

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And we still have books left over. I've deliberately left some gaps to accommodate my wife's book habit, but the other Heap o' Books in the bedroom already needs thinning out so I don't think this pristine tidiness will last long before the horizontal stacking returns to haunt us.

Oh, and don't worry, although we have indeed walled-in half the cupboard, we can still just about get to the light switch...

Dublin

My Own Kind of Freedom

Steven Brust wrote an entire Firefly novel to tie in with the film Serenity. The bad news is that he wrote it on spec and they decided not to do any Firefly novels. The good news is that he's released it online under a creative commons licence. You can download it here.

I had no intention of reading it right now and I'm a bit ambivalent about reading novels on a computer screen, but having got sucked into the prologue I think he's captured the feel and voices of the series extremely well. I'm intrigued.

(I've never read any of Brust's novels but Janet's read quite a few and is a big fan of To Reign in Hell in particular.)

Dublin

Read More Books, 2007

In January my resolutions were, as ever, to Read More Books, Dammit! and to Go to the cinema more. Not big on introspection but very big on realism. Even so I haven't managed as well as I intended, especially on the book front.

Brief reviews below. No real spoilers here, but cut for length

The books I read in 2007:

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So, only nine books. I enjoyed them all, but I do feel like something of a failure in the Read more books, dammit! stakes. Maybe next year.

EDIT for obligatory statistics: Hey, I only read 9 books but 33.3% were by female authors. Go me! Then again another 33.3% were by Stephen Baxter so it's possible the small sample size is skewing the data. ;-)

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Dublin

Bottled nostalgia

My parents came up the other week and brought with them a load of old tat from my childhood that was unnecessarily taking up room in their house.

It included this fine piece of 100% pure nostalgia, biro scribbles and all:



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I don't even remember owning a book called The Adventures of K9 and Other Mechanical Creatures by Terrance Dicks. I'm impressed that Radio Times felt the need to produce a Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special. But most of all I'm awed by the absolute cack that passed for content in old Doctor Who annuals: exciting find-the-centre-of-the-maze puzzles; quizzes about the solar system; inane prose stories with dodgy illustrations done by someone who'd once had Jon Pertwee's face described to him; comics by someone who had missed the aforementioned description. It's all here.

Unless you had exactly the same childhood as me this will all mean nothing to you (oh Vienna) but for me this is pure gold.

Sandman

Surfeits, and having too many of them

coalescent's new flat and associated shelving issues have reminded me that I've been meaning to post this.

People talk about having a "To read" pile of books. My wife has a "To read" shelf. It's smaller now than at any time in the last two years but still the idea of her ever getting through them all seems faint at best, not least because new books arrive in the post almost daily.

Here's a picture:

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The "To read" pile has its own shelf because the main shelf is full to bursting:

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And this is only one of our many bookshelves, albeit the biggest. I always feel faintly concerned when the only way to fit the books on is to stack them horizontally.

Dublin

Film snippets

Old Indiana Jones! What's nice about this photograph is that it looks like an older Indiana Jones and not just like an older Harrison Ford in a hat. I'm not certain quite why this is; probably just that Indy is such an iconic character. I'm cautiously optimistic about the film even though, if I'm honest, I think Raiders of the Lost Ark is ten times better than either of the sequels.

The I Am Legend movie had been below my radar until recently. Now we have advertising which seems to confuse the concept of a tag line and a poster, and a Quicktime trailer which makes it look like someone took Richard Matheson's I Am Legend and forcibly inserted Will Smith into it, then added some 'splosions. On the positive front the trailer doesn't look terrible, and the same approach failed to ruin I, Robot (despite leaving it a much lesser film than it could have been).

Lastly The Dark Knight. I'm sure the film will hew closely to the gritty style of Batman Begins and the Joker image was very promising in this respect. Unfortunately the latest images of the Bat Bike and Bat Suit are sheer geek gadgetry. They may look okay and retain some militaristic flavour but I'd prefer promo images that treated this like a real drama and not a tool for selling action figures.

Dublin

Some Things

I was going to post about Tom McRae's mixed bag of a new album, and my struggle to get back into doing some art for the first time in years. However I've accidentally switched my brain into standby mode so those topics will have to wait.

In the meantime, here are some links. Use them wisely. Use them in peace.

There's an Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, apparently.

Russia launches cyber-attack against Estonia. Allegedly. It's less exciting than it sounds, but you get the feeling that if the real world just picked up the pace a little it might catch a glimpse of science fiction on the horizon.

The finalists in the Best visual illusions of the year competition. I quite like the extremely simple leaning tower illusion.

Sandman

Reading

Novelist David Mitchell somewhat disconcertingly does The Guardian's equivalent of one of those non-interviews you see in the sidebar of cheap TV guides or old editions of Smash Hits. In it he states: "I'm a big Doctor Who fan. I've bought the box set and worked my way through the entire oeuvre. David Tennant is my favourite Doctor; he is brilliant."

His next novel is apparently set in the 18th century. I enjoyed Cloud Atlas, but not enough to read anything more by Mitchell in the near future, I think. I feel like a bit of a novel-reading fraud at the moment. I've only read three books this year, four if you count December: River of Gods by Ian McDonald, Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, and Coalescent and Exultant by Steven Baxter. I'm currently on Barbara Hambly's Circle of the Moon, before heading back to Baxter's Transcendent.

My wife, meanwhile, has ploughed her way through: Timothy Zhan's The Green and the Grey, Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God, Mary Gentle's Ilario, Nick Sagan's Edenborn, Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, Eleanor Arnason's Ring of Swords and A Woman of the Iron People, C.J.Cherryh's Deliverer and Port Eternity and Hal Duncan's Vellum. She's currently on World War Z. Ten books since the start of January. Mind you, she said Vellum almost did for her.

I'm well aware that there are those on my Friends List (*cough*coalescent*cough*) who've probably read another couple of novels in the time it took me to compose this entry. To which I have to wonder: how? Is there some ancient art of time dilation that everyone is hiding from me? You can tell me if there is. I promise to use it only for Good and not get involved in any time paradoxes, valuable life lessons or exciting adventures with dinosaurs.

Thought: maybe if I spent less time posting rubbish like this and more time reading...