Last Word

New Media Writing Prize FI 0

The 5th New Media Writing Prize

Last week I was a guest at the 5th New Media Writing Prize awards ceremony at Bournemouth University. The Prize was originally established in conjunction with the Poole Literary Festival, and as part of the Festival I was involved in promoting the Prize in its first year. This year was the first time since then that I have been able to return, and it was gratifying to see how, under the enthusiastic direction of Dr James Pope, BA English Framework Leader at BU and competition director for the New Media Writing Prize, the award has developed into a major event....

daphne-du-maurier FI 0

Daphne du Maurier Country – Rebecca to the Macabre

Last year we decided to take a short holiday in Cornwall, which I have already written about here with regard to the works of Daphne du Maurier. We live in Bournemouth, almost exactly midway along the south coast of England. Mostly, whether for work or pleasure, we head along the Dorset coast, or east (towards London) or north (for almost everything else). Cornwall is out on a limb in the south west, and if it weren’t for that county’s stunning natural beauty few people from further east would ever venture there other than to visit family or for work. Fortunately...

Mr Nobody FI 0

Mr. Nobody – review

Mr. Nobody is the best film I’ve ever seen that hardly anyone has ever heard about. If you are interested in great cinema, or simply in imaginative storytelling and story construction then you owe it to yourself to see this unknown masterpiece.

Cloud-Atlas-wallpaper-4 0

Cloud Atlas, Skyfall and the McDonald’sization of Storytelling

It’s sometimes said we get the politicians we deserve, and the same can be extended to many other areas of life. If we get a cinema filled with hollow franchise films it’s because that’s what we, collectively as the audience, flock to see. It’s the fast food, know-what-you’re-getting (even if it is flavourless, lukewarm, bland, and full-of-empty-calories) mentality. The tragic acceptance that what works for McDonalds can work for the creative arts. It is plain to see in the relative success and failure of Skyfall verses Cloud Atlas…

Cloud-Atlas-wallpaper-7 0

Cloud Atlas Shrugged – or let the Skyfall

If you want to be able to go and see intelligent, creative, original SF and fantasy movies stop going to see franchise pictures. They are killing cinema. I stopped seeing 95% of these things long ago. It saves me time. It saves me money. It save me disappointment. And it gives me space to watch something much more interesting instead.

Daphne du Maurier's Cornwall FI copy 0

Exploring Daphne du Maurier’s Cornwall

In June we went to Cornwall, to Daphne du Maurier country, so here are some photos relating to all things du Maurier from our short holiday.   One day in 1936 the young Daphne du Maurier was out riding on Bodmin Moor with her friend Foy Quiller-Couch. They became lost, but eventually found their way to the Jamaica Inn. While recovering from their ordeal Daphne and Foy heard tales of long ago smuggling adventures and du Maurier was inspired to write her fourth novel. The book became the basis of a 1939 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Charles Laughton...

Solaris FI 2 0

Interview – Jonathan Oliver, editor-in-chief at Solaris Books

Jonathan Oliver is one of the UK’s top genre editors. He is also a novelist, short story author and creator of shared-worlds. Recently I interviewed him by email. * Gary Dalkin: You are editor-in-chief of three imprints – Solaris, Ravenstone and Abaddon Books – all published by Rebellion Publishing Ltd. What is your background and how did you end up in your current position? Perhaps for readers who are not familiar with Rebellion you could outline the idea behind each of your imprints? Jonathan Oliver: My background is in academic publishing. I worked for Taylor & Francis for almost 7...

Kings of Eternity FI 0

Review – The Kings of Eternity by Eric Brown

The Kings of Eternity is a novel with one foot happily in the mainstream and one in genre. As such it is a book which may baffle those who don’t ‘get it’; a novel written unapologetically for those of us who have grown-up with genre fiction but who also read and appreciate writing sometimes classified as ‘literary fiction’. Not that such a distinction holds much water, is rather a false dichotomy; genre being delineated by content, ‘literary fiction’ being assumed by some as involving the automatic inoculation of superior qualities in any material they do not define as ‘genre’. Eric...

Fictional Man FI 0

Review – The Fictional Man by Al Ewing

Niles Golan is an ex-pat Brit in Hollywood. Never grown-up, he narrates his life with an internal monologue transforming his everyday inadequacies into triumphs. Niles is his own fictional creation: to himself, a genius novelist akin to the young Thomas Pynchon; to everyone else, the hack who writes the popular Kurt Power adventures novels. His ambition is to launch a movie franchise, but to get the chance he has to pitch a remake of his teenage-self’s favourite film. This should be a dream, except everyone at the studio is clueless and Golan realises that his once beloved movie is horribly...

Christie, Guard 0

They Do Things Differently There

The original version of the article was written for Amazing Stories and published as ‘Doctor Who and the Strange Victorians’. The starting point was the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas Special, ‘The Snowmen’, in which a young woman, the Doctor’s new companion, falls down a metaphorical rabbit hole in Victorian London. As Doctor Who approached its 50th birthday (celebrated in 2013) executive producer and writer Steven Moffat appeared to be transforming the programme into a meta-fictional game played with materials drawn from its own past, as opposed to anything engaging with actual history. Don’t worry if you neither know nor care...

Falling Over, FI LWB 0

Falling Over by James Everington – review

Falling Over was the first book I read by James Everington, and this is a revised version of a review I wrote for Amazing Stories last year. Since then I have interviewed the author and reviewed his first two self-published books, The Shelter (a novella) and The Other Room (a story collection), again for Amazing Stories. On his website James Everington says that his main influences are writers such as Ramsey Campbell, Shirley Jackson and Robert Aickman, and that he enjoys ‘the unexplained, the psychological, and the ambiguous’. Falling Over (published by the UK’s Infinity Plus and available as both a paperback and ebook...

man-who-haunted-himself-2 0

The Man Who Haunted Himself – Blu-ray review

The Man Who Haunted Himself is, as the title suggests both a ghost and a doppelgänger story, and as such is a rather unique tale of the uncanny, unfolding perhaps much as one might imagine a feature-length, British Twilight Zone. The film starts with business man Harold Pelham (Roger Moore) leaving his London office and driving west out of the city, but then…something happens to him. He starts to speed, driving ever more recklessly. There are shots of another, sportier, car, superimposed over his staid family saloon. The scene resolves with a devastating crash and next thing, Pelham is in hospital, doctors...

Prisoner of Heaven FI lwb 2

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – review

The Prisoner of Heaven is, according to the forward, ‘part of a cycle of novels set in the universe of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, of which The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game are the first two installments. Although each work within the cycle presents an independent, self-contained tale, they are all connected through characters and storylines, creating thematic and narrative links. Each individual installment in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series can be read in any order, enabling the reader to explore the labyrinth of stories along different paths which, when woven together, lead to the heart of the narrative.’ The Prisoner...

Wakolda FI 0

Wakolda (The German Doctor) – film review

Wakolda (retitled The German Doctor in the US) is the latest film from Argentine writer-director Lucía Puenzo. Little known in the English speaking world, Lucía Penzo is the daughter of Luis Puenzo, celebrated for La historia oficial, which in 1986 won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign (Language) Film, as well as sweeping nine of the Argentinian Film Critics Association Awards, including Best Film. Lucía co-wrote her father’s best work, La Puta y La Bellena, which I discussed here, and on current evidence, apart from being a fine writer, she has inherited her father’s directorial talents. Evidence of...

Bellena FI 0

La Puta y la Bellena – retrospective

Almost entirely unknown in the English-speaking world, the Argentine-Spanish co-production, La Puta y la Ballena (2004) is one of the most hauntingly beautiful, intelligent, and imaginative films of the last decade. From the trailer one might anticipate a cross between Land and Freedom (present day protagonist investigates old letters and uncovers a personal connection to events during the Spanish Civil War), and The English Patient (elegantly evoked period romance, stark yet beautiful landscapes, an aeroplane featuring prominently). Yet despite a title which translates unpromisingly as The Whore and the Whale, La Puta y la Ballena is far more rewarding than either, plunging the audience into an enigmatic, reality teasing drama more...

Night Film 0

Night Film by Marisha Pessl – review

Night Film is the second novel by Marisha Pessl, the follow-up to her 2006 award-winning bestseller, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. It recounts the quest of disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath to uncover the truth about reclusive film director Stanislas Cordova. Some years previously Scott was manipulated into making a serious allegation against the director on the TV news programme Nightline, an unsubstantiated claim which seriously damaged the writer’s credibility and career. Now, following the suicide of Cordova’s twenty-four year old daughter Ashley, McGrath reopens his investigation, convinced there is some malevolence about the director which he feels duty bound to uncover....

ps-showcase-11-stardust-signed-jhc-by-nina-allan-[2]-1745-p 0

Stardust by Nina Allan – review

Stardust is one of three books by Nina Allan published so far this year. First was the story collection Microcosmos. Next came the novella, Spin. Now we have Stardust, published as a very striking hardback by PS Publishing as PS Showcase #11. Stardust is subtitled The Ruby Castle Stories, but who (or what) is Ruby Castle? Actually Ruby Castle is a person, rather than a place. But these six stories and a poem tell us very little about her. She only appears in one story, and then as a supporting character. In the others we learn a few things about her, primarily that she was...

Spin-featured-image 0

Spin by Nina Allan – review

Nina Allan’s Spin is the second in a series of novellas published by the Third Alternative Press, home of leading UK genre magazines Interzone and Black Static. I should mention that the book was sent to me by the author because she liked my Amazing Stories review of her collection, Microcosmos. She also sent me a copy of her other new book, Stardust, which I review here. So I am predisposed to like Spin. Set in an alternate Greece, Spin is a reworking of the myth of Arachne. Layla is a weaver, a young woman leaving home for the first time. When we meet her she is taking the bus from...

Peacock featured image 0

The Peacock Cloak by Chris Beckett – review

Chris Beckett has been publishing short stories since 1990. His debut novel was The Holy Machine, followed by Marcher, and last year, Dark Eden,which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for the Best SF novel published in the UK in 2012. His first collection of short fiction, The Turing Test (2008), won the Edge Hill Prize. The Peacock Cloak is his second collection, bringing together a dozen stories first published between 2008-12. Most of these stories originally appeared in Asimov’s or Interzone, two in Postscripts and one, ‘Our Land’, in the NewCon Press anthology, Conflicts. The book opens with ‘Atomic Truth’. Jenny has just left work, is heading to the railway station, excited about going...

growing-pains-signed-jhc-by-ian-whates-[2]-1709-p 0

Growing Pains by Ian Whates – review

Growing Pains is a new collection from the highly talented British author and editor Ian Whates. Whates is the author of the Noise series of space operas and the urban fantasy trilogy City of 100 Rows. He edits the on-going Solaris Rising anthologies and various entries in the Mammoth Book of series, including the Alternate Histories and SF Wars volumes. Whates also manages his own NewCon Press. You can read my review of the recent NewCon Press edition of Lisa Tuttle’s Objects in Dreams here. Featuring 11 stories, Growing Pains is a slim, 121 page volume from PS Publishing. Whether in the limited or regular edition, it is a beautifully made book of mostly outstanding tales. The...

Intrusion 0

Intrusion by Ken MacLeod – review

Some decades from now, Hope Morrison is a young woman living in London with her husband, Hugh, and four year old son, Nick. Health & Safety laws have driven most women from the workplace, so Hope works from home answering enquiries, translated into English, for a Chinese website. Solar panel farms in Africa have ended Hugh’s first career as a wind power engineer – his father Nigel still works on the family home island of Lewis, now dismantling the giant wind turbines installed a generation earlier – leaving Nick an expert carpenter labouring with genetically engineered New Wood. The combination...

Daily-Rituals-featured-imag 0

Writers as Workers: What Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals Teaches Us About Writing

Reading about writers and their techniques is an interesting experience, particularly when you have your own writing ambitions. It is tempting to think that we can learn something from the lives of great writers that will help us to emulate their literary successes simply by taking on some of their habits and quirks, and this is a temptation that can only be fuelled further by Mason Currey’s book Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work. The title itself suggests something of Currey’s thesis on what makes great artists successful. It is all about getting to work. Those authors and artists who...

Self-plagiarism 0

The Ethics of Self-Plagiarising

Is it ever okay for a writer to self-plagiarise? This is a question many writers struggle with; every piece of work comes from our soul and we should do what we want with it as many times as we want! Many of us will print short stories on the Internet then use those same stories for a series of books. When does it cross the line and get us into trouble, though? It’s essential for us, as writers, to avoid blacklisting ourselves in writer circles due to plagiarism, even if we are plagiarizing ourselves. Plagiarism is Always Illegal The legal...

Inception and The Matrix FI 0

The Mirror of Our Dreams

There is a curious phenomenon not exclusive to science fiction fandom, it is prevalent in pop music worship and other places, by which those afflicted feel a need to establish rivalries. The Star Wars fan who vociferously attacks all things Star Trek. And vice versa. The Star Trek fan determined to argue against every facet of Babylon 5. Those who can not enjoy both The X Files and Fringe. New Who vs Old Who. It goes on. These rivalries exist almost exclusively in the minds of fans. It is hard to imagine George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry being concerned about...

Bellefleur, featured image 0

Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oates – review

As I mentioned in my post Stephen King – A Beginner’s Guide I became interested in the work of Joyce Carol Oates because of her association with King. As early as Danse Macabre (1981) King was writing admiringly about Oates’ work. The compliment was returned when Oates introduced King’s speaking engagement at Princeton in 1997. Bellefleur is the first book I have read by Joyce Carol Oates. She has written a vast number of titles, rivalling King in her output. So many novels it was difficult to chose one to begin. I settled on Bellefleur because it is acclaimed as one of her finest works, and because...

joyland-1 crop 0

Joyland by Stephen King – review

In Stephen King’s best novel in years, 11.22.63 (2011), the veteran author revisited the period of his youth, the 1950s and ‘60s. A character from the present, our present, went back to 1958, encountered love, tried to stop a killer. In King’s Joyland it is a decade after the fall of America’s Camelot.

Microcosmos, featured image 1

Microcosmos by Nina Allan – review

In the Forward to Microcosmos Nina Allan explains that, having forgotten the finer details of the requirements for the collection, with her stories tending to ‘run away with themselves’ and being rather long for short stories, she had amassed considerably more material than the book would be able to contain. She had intended a survey of her work from the publication of her first book, A Thread of Truth (2007) up to The Silver Wind (2011). However, with a target length of 60,000 words, she ‘decided to shape the collection around the two new stories’ which would feature in Microcosmos. ‘Without abandoning my idea of presenting a...

Stephen King, bw 1

Stephen King – A Beginner’s Guide

For a long time I paid no attention to the writing of Joyce Carol Oates. But I kept seeing her mentioned in the context of modern American Gothic, being recommended by writers whose work I loved, particularly Stephen King. The admiration was mutual. In 1997 Oates introduced King when he gave his first reading at Princeton University. That day she described him as a great writer of Gothic horror. At different points in their careers King and Oates even had the same editor, Michael Garrett. But despite the King connection, with so many other books to read, Joyce Carol Oates...

series planning article 0

Writing Magazine – Series Planning

In the August issue of Writing Magazine (the UK’s best-selling magazine for writers, out now) I have a feature article (extract below) on the advantages, perils and pitfalls of writing a series of novels. The issue also features an interview with popular historical novelist Robyn Young and an exploration of Agatha Christie’s secret notebooks.  To read the rest, buy Writing Magazine!

novella 0

Writing Magazine – The Novella Renaissance

In the July issue of Writing Magazine (the UK’s best-selling magazine for writers) I have a new article about why now is a good time to write that novella (extract below). Here is preview, but to read the whole 1800 words you will have to buy the magazine. The issue also features an interview with Elizabeth George on the importance of place and character in fiction and a step-by-step guide to self-publishing. To read the rest, buy Writing Magazine!

Iain banks featured image 1 1

The Invention of Iain M. Banks

This piece was originally posted on 18 April, 2012. I’m reposting it now in memory of Iain Banks, who died on Sunday 9 June, 2013. I have recently reread Iain M. Banks 1988 novel The Player of Games. I did so because I have been selected as a World Book Night book giver, and of the 25 available titles the one I chose to give away was the Banks. I had a hard time picking, and I want to explain why I selected this particular book. But first, if you don’t know about World Book Night take a look here....

Fact featured image 0

Writing Magazine – Fact For Fiction

The new issue of Writing Magazine is out. As well as my usual news and market reports I have a lengthy article Fact For Fiction (extract below) – considering when it is important to get the facts right, and when they can be manipulated to a writer’s advantage. Here’s a preview. To enjoy the full thing you’ll have to buy the magazine, or stand in the newsagent and read it, or beg, borrow or steal it.  

Objects in dreams, featured 1

Objects in Dreams by Lisa Tuttle – review

Lisa Tuttle has long been one of the masters of the deeply unsettling tale. Last year her short story Objects in Dreams may be Closer than they Appear opened Jonathan Oliver’s excellent anthology, House of Fear, a collection of haunted and otherwise strange homes. That was one of my favourite books of the year, and that Tuttle’s tale was chosen to open a volume containing new work by such writers as Chaz Brenchley, Eric Brown, Christopher Fowler, Garry Kilworth, Joe R. Lansdale, Tim Lebbon and Christopher Priest says something of the quality of the tale. It is no surprise therefore to find Objects in...

This Shared Dream, featured 0

This Shared Dream & In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan – review

Kathleen Ann Goonan’s In War Times, originally published in 2007, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel and the ALA’s Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year. A complex exploration of the political implications of alternative history, In War Times begins in 1941, with Sam Dance being given documents that lead to the opening of a parallel world in which Dance’s brother, Keenan, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor to work for a better future — as does Sam in “our” reality. The SF element of the book is the “Device” Sam and his friend Wink develop,...

Personal Best featured image 3

Personal Best

Every so often the SF news magazine Locus runs a top ten poll. The most recent poll closed at the end of November. It focused on the 20th and 21st centuries, with separate categories for SF and Fantasy novels and combined rankings for SF/Fantasy novellas, novelettes, and short stories. These were ‘write-in’ polls, so nothing was excluded. For the 20th century each poll offered 10 places, for the 21st century, five. To fill it all in conscientiously required a lot of reflection and recollection. Suffice to say by the time I got around to broaching the online form it was...

Amazing Stories featured image 1 0

Amazing Stories returns online

As previously mentioned, the world’s first Science Fiction magazine, Amazing Stories is coming back, and I will be writing for it. After three weeks in beta testing, today sees the official launch of the website, and here is a link to my first post, talking about some of my favourite books. Meanwhile here is the official press release: Amazing Stories, the world’s first science fiction magazine, is now open to the public. Social Magazine Website Offers Nearly Sixty Writers and Social Networking For Fans! Experimenter Publishing Company, Hillsboro, NH,  January 21, 2013 AMAZING STORIES are just one click away!TM The Experimenter...

gerry-anderson 1

RIP Gerry Anderson

Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Space 1999 creator Gerry Anderson died today.  Some years ago I had the honour and pleasure of interviewing Mr Anderson for Amazon. You can read the interview here.

Amazing featured image 2 0

The New Amazing Stories

Amazing Stories, the world’s first science fiction magazine, opens for Beta Testing of Phase 1 on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013. Fifty+ Writers Sign On to provide genre-related content! Experimenter Publishing Company Hillsboro, NH December 20, 2012 AMAZING STORIES are just one click away!TM The Experimenter Publishing Company is pleased to announce the  reintroduction of the world’s most recognizable science fiction magazine – AMAZING STORIES! Set to relaunch with a Beta Test of its new Social Magazine Platform, Amazing Stories will feature content from 50+ bloggers, covering an enormous array of subjects of interest to genre fans. “We’ve got authors and...

total-recall-2012 1

Things Fall Apart

Yesterday I read three articles worth considering for anyone serious about writing fiction. The first was The Widening Gyre: 2012 Best of the Year Anthologies by Paul Kincaid, written for the LA Review of Books. This piece looked at Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction : Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection, Richard Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy : 2012 Edition and the Nebula Awards Showcase 2012. Kincaid begins his lengthy and extremely well-argued article thus: ‘The overwhelming sense one gets, working through so many stories that are presented as the very best that science fiction and fantasy have...

Kindle-Paperwhite-3 3

How to send a Word, RFT or PDF file to a Kindle

I was at a party recently and got talking about things you can do with a Kindle that don’t include buying full price e-books. This was clearly something people really wanted to know about and I said I’d follow-up with a blog post, but it soon became obvious the subject was too big for a single post. So here is the first part of a short series, starting with how to send a Microsoft Word DOC, DOCX, RTF (Rich Text Format) or Adobe PDF document to a Kindle. There are many occasions when it may be convenient to read a...

customer reviews 12

Bad News Customer Reviews

What use are Amazon customer reviews, or indeed the user reviews on any website? During Amazon’s first decade the company employed a team of freelance writers to review books, videos and DVDs. I was one of them. Crucially, our opinions remained our own. But we worked to guidelines which included being factually accurate, not committing libel and avoiding spoilers. Then Amazon introduced customer reviews, and the result is now a caveat emptor free-for-all. While many customer reviews are excellent, Amazon imposes no quality control – some reviews are no worse than ill-informed and amateurish –  and no warning that one might...

Adrift, featured image 3

Adrift on the Sea of Rains by Ian Sales – review

Adrift on the Sea of Rains is the first volume in Ian Sales Apollo Quartet. Available as a limited edition hardback (75 signed copies), paperback and ebook, this science fiction adventure falls between alternative history and parallel world story. It is the late 1980’s, the Cold War has gone nuclear and all that’s left of the human race is the crew of the US moon base Falcon. Colonel Peterson is looking for a way home before the food runs out. Hopes lie in a partially understood piece of Nazi technology called the Bell. To say more would be to give too much...

hocking 0

Ian Hocking’s Saskia Brandt Series

Ian Hocking has kindly sent me ebooks of the first two titles in his Saskia Brandt Series, Déjà Vu and Flashback. Set a decade from now these are extremely fast-paced science fiction action thrillers involving advanced computer technology, virtual reality and time travel. As the blurb says, scientist David Proctor is running for his life. On his trail is Saskia Brandt, a detective with the European FIB. She has questions. Questions about a bomb that exploded back in 2003. But someone is hunting her too. The clues are in the shattered memories of her previous life. Flashback further complicates matters....

Thrones 2

A Game of Pride and Prejudice

An interesting piece by Amanda Craig has appeared on the Telegraph website. The article, centered around the HBO television series of George R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones novels, joins the vast pile of opinion pieces addressing the debate ‘can fantasy fiction ever be any good’. Which is to say, should authors use their imagination or confine themselves to looking out the window and typing? These opinion pieces begin by stating the default premise, that fantasy fiction is beneath the consideration of the likely reader of the article. There is an implicit flattery – we’re too smart for this and we know...

Kevin featured image 0

We Need To Talk About Lionel

When it comes to literature men in the UK, US and Germany are reportedly in a tiny minority, reading just 20% of all fiction. Or so, writing in the Guardian, says Lionel Shriver. I don’t know if this is true. I know lots of men who read lots of fiction. Perhaps they are not representative. But then I assumed Lionel Shriver was a man. It’s an easy mistake to make. Shriver, a woman who changed her name from Margaret Ann, and won the female-only Orange Prize for Fiction for We Need to Talk About Kevin, offers what starts out as...

PDF featured image 1

Free PDF Proofreading Stamps

Here’s a little something special for proofreaders who work with PDFs. The wonderfully generous Louise Harnby has made available for free download a set of her own customized stamps which can be imported into PDF editing software. These stamps are, as Louise explains, ‘based on the current BSI proofreading symbols and once downloaded can be imprinted onto the page, giving the proof the appearance of its paper cousin’. There are three files, for red, blue and black. Louise made the stamps to use with Adobe Acrobat, but they should work with other PDF editing software. Louise explains how to get...

Frank_Miller 1

The Rage of Frank Miller

This blog isn’t a place where I want to comment on politics. I only bring this up as an  example of how easy it is for a writer, facilitated by the internet, to quite possibly say too much for their own good. Frank Miller, graphic novelist and screenwriter – The Dark Knight Returns, 300 – recently posted a vitriolic piece about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Here is a flavour of Miller’s post: The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of...

P1010296-large 1

A day with Jane Goodall

We spent Saturday with Dr Jane Goodall. Afterwards Jane asked me to write an account of the day. So here it is. Jane Goodall  is excited. “Have you heard?” she says, as we eat lunch in the restaurant at Compton Acres in Poole. “We’ve been shortlisted for an Oscar!” She is referring to the film about her life, Jane’s Journey, which had its first UK showing at Bournemouth University. The scientist, conservationist and UN International Messenger of Peace, Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, spends 300 days a year travelling the world raising environmental awareness. In between trips she still lives in...

the islanders featured image 0

Some notes on Christopher Priest’s The Islanders

Yesterday morning I received a signed copy of Christopher Priest’s latest book, The Islanders, direct from the author. This is Priest’s first book length fiction since the Arthur C. Clarke Award winning The Separation, and since the release of the film The Prestige, based on the author’s James Tait Black Memorial Prize winning novel of the same name. What follows are some spoiler-free notes towards a later review. In the first 22 pages of The Islanders Christopher Priest uses the word ‘adjacent’ three times. By some counts The Islanders is Christopher Priest’s **? book, if one includes works of non-fiction,...

Fantasy FI 0

Fantasy Fiction Is Good For You

The Guardian reports that new research suggests reading fiction – even, shock, horror, fantasy fiction! – is good for you and society. Shira Gabriel and Ariana Young conducted a study involving reactions to reading extracts from the Harry Potter and Twilight novels. In Becoming a Vampire Without Being Bitten: The Narrative Collective-Assimilation Hypothesis they write: “The current research suggests that books give readers more than an opportunity to tune out and submerge themselves in fantasy worlds. Books provide the opportunity for social connection and the blissful calm that comes from becoming a part of something larger than oneself for a precious, fleeting moment.” (Full article published...