The Man Who Was Thursday

The Man Who Was Thursday

G.K. Chesterton

Syme is a poet and an anti-anarchist policeman. He cleverly gets voted on to the Supreme Council of Anarchists as Thursday.
The rest of this story details his adventures as he attempts to derail the activities of the Council.
This is a blackly comic, surreal tale, with many layers of meaning.
I’d recommend it, but I don’t really know why. Anyway you can get a download of it via project gutenberg like I did and read it as an e-book.

Rating: B+

Thud!

Thud!

Terry Pratchett

The latest Discworld book. This is another focussing on Sam Vimes, and the City Watch.
The city is on edge, Dwarfs and Trolls are spoiling for a fight as Battle of Koom Valley day approaches. A high-ranking religious dwarf has been killed and Vimes has to find the person really responsible before the city falls apart. All the while making sure he makes it home for 6pm to read ‘Where is my Cow’ to young Sam Vimes jr.
Vimes is my favourite Discworld character after the outstanding ‘Night Watch’ and this book has done nothing to change that.
Not in the very top rank of Discworld books, this one is nonetheless very strong and has some interesting things to say. It’ll be interesting to see how the events that happen in this book play out in future books.
I’d recommend this to anyone. Pratchett is a genius.

Rating: A-

Anansi Boys

Anansi Boys

Neil Gaiman

Fat Charlie’s Dad is dead. Fine time to learn that he was a god. Oh and to find out that you’ve got a brother.
This is a brilliant mixture of horror and comedy, handled with Gaiman’s customary skill.
Odd thing about this one is that I think it may work better as an audiobook.
I would recommend this book to anyone. It’s such an unusual creature that I can see it appealing to a really wide audience.

Rating: A

The Hidden Family

The Hidden Family

Charles Stross

The second book in Stross’ new fantasy series. This one wraps up the story started in the first.
The heroine spends much of this story in a third parallel world, building up interests to protect herself from the various people out to kill her.
This is very entertaining, well written fantasy and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the genre.

Rating: A

Oh, yeah and I read The World According To Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson too. I’m not proud. Oh and it was crap.

My Latest Novel

My Latest Novel – Saint Jude’s Infirmary

I’m friends with the guys in Saint Jude’s Infirmary and I turned up to this one as I’ve got a terrible record of attending their gigs. It’s the perils of commuting mostly, well that and my frequent bouts of avoiding social contacts as much as possible.
Saint Jude’s are incredibly tight these days and have built up a really good set of songs. They did well in spite of some sound issues. I also managed to take a few pictures of them playing (110 or so!) and some have turned out well. I’ll link to them once they’ve gone up on the band’s site.
My Latest Novel were much better in more intimate surroundings, but their songs still lack much in the way of punch. This is not a bad thing, but as a result, I still think that they’ll work best on record where the fluid dynamics of the songs can work their way into your head.

Permutation City

Permutation City

Greg Egan

This one was a re-read.
The story is mainly about uploaded humans, insanity, guilt, alternate biochemistry in a virtual environment and other such everyday concerns.
The book is genuinely quite insightful, but I feel it no longer works as well as it did on my first couple of reads. This time round it felt like a long novella fleshed out with tenuously related short stories.
Definitely worth picking up if you’ve never read any of Egan’s work before. I used to think that he could end up a genuine SF great, but a few of his latest books have passed me by entirely.
Recommended for anyone who likes the hard, techy end of Science Fiction.

Rating: B-

The Pixies

The Pixies – Idlewild – Teenage Fanclub – My Latest Novel

I’ve never been to Meadowbank stadium before and I have to say it’s not the most auspicious place to have a gig. It’s basically a rundown lower league football ground (without a team) that also does athletics. God knows how they’ve managed to hold two Commonweath Games there without cringing with embarrassment. It also does a nice line in swirling wind.
My Latest Novel were the wrong band for this bill. Just a bit lacking in energy and grit to fire up the imagination of the crowd. I think they might be nice on record, you never know.
Teenage Fanclub were great as usual. It’s a bit worrying to see just how much they look like schoolteachers these days, but they still make a magnificent noise when they’re on stage. My particular favourites, as usual, The Concept and Everything Flows.
Idlewild were good, a nice selection of older stuff, a pity the material from the latest album is so ineffectual. They’ve also invested in silly haircuts and the lead guitarist has bought a portfolio of rock star poses (silly bugger). They’ve still got a fanbase filled with rabid teenage girls with a tendency to be both drunk and abnoxious.
Pixies were mind blowing. Totally mind blowing, just great song after great song as the crowd got more mental and the mosh pit bigger until it was practically the whole crowd. I escaped to a more sane part of the crowd (I’m too old for mosh pits these days) but a friend had to get pulled out of the pit during Monkey’s Gone To Heaven.
It’s probably entered the top three of my favourite gigs of all time, definitely top five.

Serenity

Serenity

So, yeah, I saw Serenity last night as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
It’s really very good. It is by no stretch of the imagination a perfect film and I don’t know how it would play to someone who hasn’t seen a lot of Firefly but still I enjoyed myself as much as I have at the cinema in ages.
Of course to discuss all the issues I’d want to I’d be spoiling the film entirely, so I’m just going to have to let it go.
What I would do is recommend that you go see it when it goes on general release. I know I’ll be seeing it again and definitely buying it on DVD.

Do Not Pass Go

Do Not Pass Go

Tim Moore

Monopoly (the board game) has got a lot to answer for and this is the latest thing.
Moore visits the London streets featured in the game and looks at how they have changed since they were picked for the board game in the 1930’s.
This is a mildly amusing, occasionally frustrating and digression filled read.
The main pity is that Moore is capable of being funnier than this and that he sometimes comes across as terribly half-hearted in his approach to the project.
I liked it OK. I wouldn’t class it as a must read, well unless you have a burning desire to read a mildly funny travel/historical guide to London’s monopoly streets.
If that description fits you, then great, otherwise I’d recommend it only as something to borrow from a library.

Rating: B-

Moon Dust

Moon Dust

Andrew Smith

One of the continuing fascinations in my life is the Apollo moon missions. As such I’m always to keen to read something a bit different, something beyond the details of the missions. In this case, Smith sets out to interview the nine remaining moon walkers and to try and understand the impact of that experience on these men.
It’s really fascinating to view these men as human beings and to participate as Smith tries to get beyond the pat responses and to get fresh insight from them.
I knew I had a favourite mission (Apollo 12) but I’d never really considered the men as individual personalities before and this really succeeds in bringing those out.
Overall I really enjoyed the book and it only misses the full A rating because it’s got some annoying factual errors in there
I’d recommend this to anyone with an interest in space exploration.

Rating: A-