Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Week Just Gone

Well well well, lookee here, a review of the week. I hope to do this on a weekly basis, probably on a Sunday or a Monday - it will contain my random thoughts on the books I'm reading (with spoilers clearly stated), prettyful links, anecdotes and other random loveliness.


This week has been eventful to say the least. I started three books, got one signed, subsequently lost it on the bus and went to a Steampunk evening. Oh, and I started blogging.

Bookwise, I'm reading The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett, Summer Knight by Jim Dresden and The Scar by China Mieville. Somewhat surprisingly only one of those is a re-read, The Scar. Having never read any Pratchett (I know, I know), I read The Colour of Magic in November and loved it, and decided to enjoy myself and occupy my OCD-brain by reading the lot in order. Surely it makes more sense that way? Summer Knight is book 4 of The Dresden Files (warning, contains spoilers), a series I started in August, and is equally wonderful. I'd recommend a look to anyone interested in genre fiction - simply summed up, its like Harry Potter in America for adults, and as such is a bit grittier. The series currently stands at 13, and doesn't seem like it will stop soon.

My tale of The Scar is a sad tale, full of woe and tears. I went to the lovely Steampunk Evening at Blackwell's, and met China Mieville there (detailed below). He was kind enough to sign my dog-eared and well read The Scar. Personalized. To me. With some French words and mention of tentacles in it. It was amazing. I had it for all of 12 hours. The next morning, I took the number 68 from Denmark Hill (where I live) toward university at the Strand. At Camberwell Green we had to get off, and get on the bus in front. The books stayed behind, having fallen out of my coat pocket (yes, I like to carry my books around in my pockets. I got on, we started going, I realised I'd left it behind. I got sad, upset, angry. A seminar on Language in Time just wasn't going to cut it. I got off at Elephant & Castle, and checked 5 68 busses in a row - 30 minutes of wasted time - before going back to the bus garage, and checking whether it had been handed in. No luck. Rang again later. No luck. So went my book :(.

Because I'm contrary (and much prefer Mieville's old cover art), I have bought an old copy of it off Amazon (despite being a massive advocate of a real bookshop, and real books). I will have a period of mourning until it comes into my pigeonhole at university halls, and I shall start to wear bright colours again. But until then, I'm the Man in Black.

On the subject of the Steampunk evening, which I've already blogged about, there have been myriad response to it (thanks to the previously unknown wonder of twitter): @CTD did this lovely visual take on events, Sarah McIntyre (@Jabberworks) wrote this and Rhys (@fictionthirst) wrote up about the Philip reeve event at Foyles before as well. Have a read.

this youtube clip is very cool
Gollancz are offering all kinds of goodies (Direct Link)
and Skyrim is officially awesome

Oh, and I LOVE the cover art for Railsea:

For next week's show, I shall have many more links and things, but I'm a tad useless at pre-planning, so only small amounts this time round.

Friday, 9 December 2011

An evening of Steampunk, or, the eccentric world of a Genre Meet

I went to a genre meet! Yay me! One of the perks fo living in London is wonderfully fun, slightly wacky evening like this, Pornokitsch's steampunk evening at Blackwell Charing Cross.

Strangers. Moustache optional.
I meandered my way across town, from splendid Camberwell, to a really quite large gathering of people at the back of the Charing Cross branch, oddly situatred amongst Law and Economics textbooks. Arriving just in time for speeches from Jared, one half of Pornokitsch, and guest speaker Adam Roberts (who, alongside China Mieville, mentioned earlier, seems scarily intelligent). After hearing about rum, bad jokes and Lukacsian readings of Victorin Historicism, it was time to mingle and chat all things genre and Steampunk. Which, it turns out, is slightly nervewracking when you're in a room full of random strangers you've never met before.

Now, this is the first post of a new blog, so you might as well get to know me. I normally don't shy away from chatting to random strangers. From the bloke at the supermarket to my Literary Theory seminar at uni, to the lady who dropped her Oyster on the Tube, I'm happy to make conversation and espouse my own views wherever, whenever. However, to the SFF event newbie, it was truly intimidating to be faced with the well connected circles of knowledge, through the blogosphere and Twitter, that ensued. Plus, God (AKA China Mieville) was a few steps away.

I pottered about a bit, listening in on conversations, knocking over the Christmas Tree, and generally feeling like a fool. I knew nobody, nobody knew me. I wasn't dressed in a fun costume, nor do I have a splendid moustache. There were circles of people, and author's who I had heard of, and whose books I had read! Argh, I nearly upped and left then.

Luckily, there was rum.

A few rum-and-coke's later (quick thumbs up to Kraken Rum, sponsors of the event, for their splendid concoction, tasty both neat and with Coke...) and I plucked up the bravery to talk. Not to anybody even on a slight scale of famousness mind you, but the nice lady who smiled at me. She turned out to be stood next another nice lady, who had stepped on that sliding scale of geek-famousness (where Gaiman is top and I am bottom) - the truly lovely Sarah McIntyre. In fact, after a quick chat about my love of all things Mieville, and my tongue-tied nervousness of talking to him, she whisked me off to talk to 'one of her best friends', Philip Reeve.

Also available in front view...
Who, by the way, is the picture of upper-middle-class lovliness, and seems to embody everything I'd imagine an Oxbridge Don of the late 70's would be, even down to the suit he wore to the evening. He was lovely, and a quick chat later, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. I stopped to talk to Rhys of Thirst for Fiction (whom I deeply admire, for his contacts/achievements relative to his age) and be recommended to write this very blog, before gathering all my bravery, and setting off in China's direction.

God awaited me, hemmed in by fans, in the corner by the staff room. He couldn't escape, and, as I neared, nor could I.With my voice having failed me, but standing 3 feet away, Sarah once again came to my rescue, introducing me with a touch of embarrassment as someone 'who was too nervous to talk to you'.

Mr Mieville was, of course, a delight. There was no reason to doubt it, I guess. Like Roberts, he is scarily intelligent. I listened to him talk, without a trace of bitterness, about his creative process, his 'inspirations' and his 'daily routine', questions he's probably been asked a million times. Google them, they're there. We ended up chatting Blade Runner, Director's Cut versus not, and the Sapir-Whorf hypotheses in relation to his latest novel, Embasseytown (beware a sad looking Jimmy Wales in this Wikipedia link). he signed my dog-eared and tatty The Scar, and even had the kindness to get his photo taken with me. Looking badass. Him, not me.

See? Badass.

Having had the highlight of my evening served to me on a plate, font-of-all-contacts-Sarah hurried me to Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, the ridiculously wonderful authors of the Edge Chronicles. We chatted how they write, how they met, why they do what they do. And very interesting they were too. Before I wandered off, to take my lonely 68 bus home, I took this beautiful photo of Philip Reeves, Chris, Paul, Deadly Knitshade and others with the rather delightful Plarchie the Squid, one of the other incumbents of the steampunk evening.

Chris, Paul, Philip, Knitshade, Someone.
All in all, it was a welcoming, wonderful start to life as a fully fledged fan, going beyond merely reading the books. Long may it last.


Firstly, hello and welcome! This is my blog. Welcome to it :D

This will be a blog mostly about books, as you can probably tell by the title. My tastes mostly revolve around what is normally considered 'genre' fiction: Fantasy & Science Fiction. However, I'm doing an English Literature degree, I'll be dabbling in the 'literary', as well as a secret enjoyment of that much vaunted genre of 'lit-fic'. In fact, bugger it, why not go the whole hog and say I like books of any genre, so long as they are good.However, the fact still remains that we all have our 'home' genre, and mine is SFF.

This blog will probably focus on reviews and odd thoughts about books, literature, fiction and suchlike, with the odd throwaway comment about life at university, loving London, silly anecdotes and suchlike. If we get big enough, there might even be the odd giveaway!

Anyway, onwards, and enjoy :)