Reading 2

Just finished the disturbing but informative How to Build a Nuclear Bomb And Other Weapons of Mass Destruction by Frank Barnaby. Amazing how many of the chemical weapons inventory were developed by I G Farben in Germany during the 30s and 40s… A good primer for folk to cut through all the media scare stories and government spin.

Also on the science front just finished The Back Room Boys, due in November, by the author of The Child that Books Built. It’s a loving tribute to the Great British Boffin, from the pipe-smoking boffins designing space rockets in an old shed on the Isle of Wight in the 50s through the computer revolution (the teenage geeks who designed the groundbreaking Elite game, which I remember so well) through to the fantastic contribution of British science to the Human Genome project – especially in keeping it away from smeggers like Craig Venter who wanted to do it all privately and patent the whole thing. Step forward our plucky British Boffins! Patent the Book of Life? Not on their watch! Different technology and a whole new science but arguably the same spirit. A wonderful read.

Now it’s time to turn my attention to my latest goodie to come from the lovely Nicola at Gollancz (thanks, Nic), the new Robert Silverberg novel Roma Eterna. An alternative history in which Rome never fell, but is still divided between Rome and Constantinople as it was in our history. Only 100 pages in so far but bloody good as you’d except from Sivlerberg. In the meantime my lunch-time reading is by my chum at HarperCollins, Jane Johnson, writing under her Jude Fisher name. The second in her fab fantasy series, Fool’s Gold. Earthy humour (one character cursed with an eternal boner – you don’t get this with Pratchett or Gemmell!), epic sweep and strong female characters, this is wonderful writing and I look forward to Ariel’s review of it.