Other reading

Okay, after lambasting him (see below) over some stupid and – to me – insulting points I have to say that Moore’s Dude Where’s My Country is still essential reading for anyone interested in current events, although if you need to choose between them go for Al Franken‘s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (which I am so happy to say has sold very well from my Recommends spot in the bookstore).

Elsewhere on the literary front I have finally found time to start reading Neal Stephenson’s long-overdue – poor Matthew could hardly contain himself with impatience as the publication was constantly put back – Quicksilver, which is a monster of a book and may take a while, but is fascinating so far, mixing in a young Ben Franklin into 18th century Boston with Isaac Newton and other ‘natural philosophers’. I’m thinking this may be an alternative history novel on a par with Kim Stanley Robinson’s fantastic Years of Rice and Salt.

Also thoroughly enjoying TAO fave Richard Morgan’s latest novel, due out in March, Market Forces. So far a much more mainstream novel than his previous two works, although I and others have argued that both of those were novels with genuine genre crossover appeal to more mainstream readers. The hero has crossed into a new business working in the field of Conflict Investment – in other words they invest in wars. No judgment, just which side would yield a good investment. It’s like the way Haliburton operates in Bush’s American, but without the fig leaf of ‘the government gave us this contract in the country we just bombed’. Shades of John Pilger once again, along with classic SF novel of a corporate future, The Space Merchants or the more recent Jennifer Government while the motorway car duels recall J G Ballard’s Crash. Bloody good stuff.

Just about to begin on Rob Grant’s Incompetence. A new SF-comedy from the co-creator of Red Dwarf, and his first for his new publisher Gollancz (home of some very good writing and a publisher who, unlike say Simon and Schuster, know how to run a good SF imprint). Rob is due for a very welcome return visit to my bookstore in a few weeks and the tickets are pretty much gone already – as not everyone with a free ticket necessarily turns up on the night for one reason or another however there are still likely to be a few places available on the night if anyone wants to come along.

Re-reading Anne Rice’s classic 1976 Gothic novel Interview With the Vampire for January’s SF Book Group. I’ve read it several times – once by candlelight during a serious Goth phase, but it worked rather well – and it is a fabulous book for those of us who are Gothically inclined and is probably the most important and influential vampire novel since Stoker’s Dracula in 1897. In many ways it helped to redefine the mythos for a new generation in much the way Dracula brought the disparate vampire tales and myths for the 1800s together and fused them into something new. Lush and incredibly sensuous, while the method of using flashback reportage to tell the tale subtly pays homage to Dracula’s method of utilising diary entries and journals written on the new-fangled typewriter to tell the tale.

Treated myself to the new collection by Eve Gilbert, Tits, Ass and Real Estate (wonderful title – good review here by Bookslut). Dark, disturbing, sometimes funny, partly self biographical and often utterly self eviscerating it provides a much-needed female counterpoint to work like that of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendour or Robert Crumb (who provides the intro) – a darker, grittier, more crudely drawn world than the likes of the fab Ghost World. Expect a review in a few weeks. If I can stop watching too much of Angel. Bummed the first two seasons of Angel on DVD from my mate Gordon to watch on my week off, which, along with some nice new films I got for Xmas and my birthday means I may be doing a lot of serious vegging, but hey I deserve some serious down time after the Xmas shopping hell in the bookstore, especially since like most retailers we had a weak Xmas and so didn’t make one extra penny in bonus. But the retro-Angel fest does get me all wire dup for the new season about to being on Sky shortly. Woohoo!

So movie-fest on DVD, Angel-fest on DVD, some good books, a nice bottle of whisky and I must abuse my movie pass at the UGC to make up for the few flicks I caught in December. Took my chum Melanie to see Return of the King at the weekend – second viewing for me and it was even better than the last time. So much going on and so much detail it really demands repeated viewings. Still, at around 3 hours 40 for the theatrical release I am moved to ponder just how long the extended DVD will be in November? And how much booze will it take to get through all three in one weekend?