Category Archives: Books

Kraken by China Mieville

Kraken by China Mieville

 

I’m a big fan of Mieville. I thought in particular Perdido Street Station and The City and The City were great reads filled with imagination and enough action to keep me at least a little bit toward the edge of my seat.

Kraken is imaginative and a lot more exciting, but for some reason it didn’t do it for me.

Here is the plot:

Billy Harrow works in a wing of the Natural History museum in London. Their main exhibit is a giant squid preserved in a huge glass container. One day, someone steals the giant squid in an impossible crime. Billy then gets caught up in a world where there are weird cults and and gods and people who can pretty much do magic.

Kraken is exciting and inventive with moments of genius. There is also no denying that Mieville is a good writer. I think part of the problem is that people seem to be able to do too much magicky stuff so that what initially seemed cool and baffling is easily explained by just saying ‘Oh yeah, someone has the power to do that’.

I also felt the book suffered because I have read a Neil Gaiman book recently and this feels like a less well thought out version of Neverwhere. (Which is great!)

If you haven’t read any Gaiman recently and you don’t mind magic as a plot device/excuse/escape and just fancy a fun sequence of chases and weirdness, then you might enjoy Kraken. I’d probably advise another Mieviille book if you are new to his stuff though.

If you feel like ignoring me, the book is available here:

In the US: Kraken
In the UK: Kraken
 

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester

When Gulliver ‘Gully’ Foyle is first introduced he is adrift in a crippled spaceship and although he has been there for 6 months, ‘he is not quite dead’. He’s described as having lots of potential but is generally too lethargic to actually do anything. He is also, clearly, a mega survivor. Then a spaceship called Volga flies by and sees him. He rejoices thinking he is saved. But when the Volga ignores him and sails off we start to see some of that potential being realised because Gully Foyle becomes a transformed man. A raging, driven, unstoppable, mental bastard, to be precise. Foyle vows revenge on the Volga, fixes his spaceship enough to get it moving, and sets about destroying his enemies.
This is the start of a personal journey for him and he grows and develops into a more cultured and educated man. He is still a raging nutter though.

The Stars my Destination is essentially The Count of Monte Cristo in space. Gully Foyle has to be one of the most single minded anti-heroes of all time.

The joys of the book are in its inventiveness, ideas, and ultimately a sense of wonder. Some of the characters, scenes and events are a joy to read. While Gully Foyle isn’t particularly likeable, you can’t help admiring his sense of purpose – his willingness to utterly screw someone over if they stand between him and his goal.

My only criticism would be that the story feels a bit disjointed. It feels a bit episodic, which is understandable as this was how the book was originally released.

The Stars my Destination is a classic of the genre. Chock full of cool ideas from the start, it just gets better and better as the book continues and the ideas flow. If you are a fan of Science Fiction you have probably already read it. If not, you damn well should. Volga!
For the UK: The Stars My Destination (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
To buy in the US: The Stars My Destination

 

 

Harry Harrison

Harry Harrison

It’s a sad day. Harry Harrison, a legend of Science Fiction, has passed away. R.I.P Mr H.

I’ve always been meaning to write about a couple of Science Fiction writers that I loved when growing up and who should be a million times more famous. The first was Edmund Cooper (about whom I will write one day) and the second was Harry Harrison. In respect I will write about some of his work that I loved and you might enjoy. Like I did with J.G. Ballard. Hopefully you will feel intrigued to read more.

Harrison is quite well known mostly due to The Stainless Steel Rat series and Make Room! Make Room! which eventually became the movie Soylent Green. And we all know what that is.

The Stainless Steel Rat series

The Stainless Steel Rat

 

The Stainless Steel Rat is an epic series that follows career criminal ‘Slippery’ Jim DiGriz. There aren’t many humorous Science Fiction authors for some reason but these books are great. In a future where criminal behaviour is usually detected at birth very few bad guys slip through the gaps. Jim DiGriz is one such guy and he is roguish and generally cool. He then starts to meet others of his ilk… Highly recommended space romp fun.
Click here to buy in US
Click here to buy in the UK

 

Bill the Galactic Hero

Bill the Galactic Hero

The first book is a classic and another example funny space adventure. Instead of a quick witted criminal the protagonist here is the slightly dim, but highly determined ex-farmhand Bill. He enlists in the space marines and has a ton of adventures. Usually funny ones that frequently end with him losing a limb which, due to army supply problems, means he often has  mismatched anatonomy – two right arms and an animal foot for example. Most of the follow ups (with other authors) weren’t too great, but the original is superb.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in the UK
Make Room! Make Room!

Make Room! Make Room!

As mentioned, this was became the classic Soylent Green. This is most definitely not a comedy but it is a classic dystopian tale of planetary overcrowding. The novel is great and the writing is superb. You should give it a go.
Click here to buy in US
UK – Make Room! Make Room! (Penguin Modern Classics)

 

 

The Deathworld series

Deathworld

I will stop saying “I loved this” but I really did. Maybe because I first read it when I was 12, the main character is called Jason, and everything is pretty cool. It was either this or Stainless Steel Rat that I read first and they both sealed my admiration for Harrison.

The story features a guy called Jason dinAlt who is a professional gambler. He is also psionic which means he can cheat at dice. Which is exactly the sort of life I should lead. When he gets hired by a guy to win a load of money he becomes intrigued by the guy’s home planet. Which is seriously deadly. There are earthquakes, volcanoes, huge tidal disruptions massive storms and so on. All life is predatory: huge animals can crush vehicles and eat you whole, smaller animals are vicious and/or poisonous, even the plants are carnivorous and deadly. dinAlt is intrigued and ends up there and has awesome adventures.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in UK

The Eden series

Here is the premise. The massive asteroid that killed the dinosaurs never hit. Dinosaurs continued to evolve until some became clever, developed speech, weapons, war, houses, mail order porn and so forth. (Maybe not the latter, it has been a while.) Unfortunately an ice age is coming which means there are increasing amounts of dinosaurs being pushed into colder areas. And there be humans… They don’t get on and it is all tremendously exciting.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in the UK

Captive Universe

A standalone novel that is just awesome. If you like some of Brian Aldiss’ work, you will love this. Two Aztec-like tribes live on either side of a river. No one, as far as they know, can ever cross as there is a monster in the river. I can’t reveal more as it will give things away but things aren’t what they seem. A great read.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in the UK

The Hammer and the Cross series

Historical fiction as violent vikings cross the north sea and have massive bloody battles with the Brits. Tremendously exciting and awesomely violent fun.
Click here to buy in US
Click here to buy in the UK

Homeworld trilogy

It is the future and it is paradise. Except it isn’t really, it is pretty dystopian.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in UK

Harry Harrison wrote over 80 books. They range from comic, dystopian, historical, alternate history, to space adventure and more. Some are just light fun, some have a bit more bite. There is something for everyone. I read nearly all his stuff when I was in my teens and am now going to read lots of them again. If you haven’t read his stuff, I recommend you try.

 

Prepare for Dystopia!

I think I’m ill. Possibly it is brain related. That is why I haven’t had a chance to write much recently. I’ve also been doing 84+ hour work weeks and am at a mental stage of my degree, but that doesn’t normally stop me writing. This is something much more sinister.

It all happened last week when I was idly browsing the interweb and looking at trailers. After watching Dredd and Total Recall again, I thought I would check outsomething different. I came across the trailer for Rec 3 and clicked play.

Then it happened.

My brain said, ‘Oh not another zombie film.’ I know, right? Scary thoughts. Since then I have been in shock. That part of my brain has since been shunned by the other parts. To be fair to my usually awesome brain, there have been a lot of zombies on our screens recently and there are more to come. Hollywood and the TV industry loves to find something popular with the public and then bombard us with it until we are bored. Or in this case, shoot it in the head repeatedly until we are bored. At present the zeitgeist is for zombies. This overlapped and largely replaced the vampire fad, which was a good thing as vampires are shit. For people without mirrors, they are way too vain. In 6 months everyone will be a bit bored of the undead in general and ready for something new. What will that be?

I think it will be dystopia and thanks to the ability to edit these entries, I have never been wrong. Dystopian themes have never really been satisfactorily played out and with today’s special effects and global concerns, it is overdue in my opinion. I love a good dystopian vision, it makes my current work situation seem ok. (Although I could just visit pretty much any factory in a third world country to get that perspective.) We recently had The Hunger Games. I have neither seen it nor read it, but it is on on my kindle in a queue. Soon we’ll have the aforementioned Total Recall and Dredd. Total Recall isn’t strictly dystopian but most people in it seem to be having a pretty shit time which makes it count. The mutants in particular have a bit of a downer (except the triple breasted whore who is always refreshingly feisty and upbeat). Dredd is classic dystopia. If this becomes a full fledged meme then we can probably look out for a whole slew of dystopian remake fun.

I know what you are thinking. Scifiward is never wrong and I want to get ahead and become an expert on dystopia to impress my nerdy friends. What should I read or see? Here we go…

Logan's Run

Logan’s Run has been rumoured already, which would be great as it will hopefully lead to the books being released again. The first two Logan’s Run books are superb and are impossible to find. Feel free to send me one to prove me wrong as I have misplaced my copies. The original film is well worth watching and even has a naked Jenny Agutter in it. It takes part in an enclosed world where everyone gets wasted and and takes drugs and shags each other until they are 30. When they are killed. (In the book it’s 21!) Some people decide they aren’t all that keen on dying so run for it. They are hunted down by people like the eponymous Logan.

I’d be surprised if 1984 isn’t redone at some point. It’s famous and has Big Brother in it, so most people have already kind of heard of it. The book is brilliant.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, apparently inspired 1984 (and lots of others). This is a society where all the buildings are made of glass and everyone has to wear the same thing. Most guys would probably be ok with this.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is another literary classic. In it, everyone is split into a caste system. Alphas are allowed to develop naturally but all the others are almost clonelike and stupid and do menial tasks and factory work – their intelligence purposefully reduced so they are happy. Everyone is taught to consume and dispose in order to keep full employment. Like Logan’s Run, getting off your tits and having meaningless sex is a pretty respected way to spend an afternoon.

Fahrenheit 451. This is my actual copy.

Fahrenheit 451 by the late and lamented Ray Bradbury. Here, books are banned. In the book we learn that this arose from people watching too much TV and media and the book started to die out. So they banned it and now everyone just watches TV and the state rules a docile population. Pretty accurate isn’t it? (Blogs are probably just a shallow media and won’t count.) Bradbury was exploring themes of censorship and the alienation caused by certain media. There is also a pretty good film made of Fahrenheit 451 with Julie Christie.

As a side note, Christian Bale was in a film called Equilibrium which not many people liked but I actually thought was ok. It is pretty much Fahrenheit 451 except emotion is banned and everyone is drugged up.

Children of Men

Another more recent dystopian vision is the awesome Children of Men. I haven’t read the book by P.D. James (which surprises myself) but I will soon. The film is excellent and is nowhere near as famous as it should be. The premise here is that all men are now infertile and no one is having babies any more. Society gets bummed out by this.

There are plenty of other books depending on your style which I can’t be bothered to explain. For example Margaret Atwood wrote the famous Handmaid’s Tale (which I hated) and Neal Stephenson wrote the fairly well known Snowcrash (which I loved).

Movie-wise here are some examples you may have already seen but which I really like:

Robocop, Wall-E, Soylent Green, THX 1138, Rollerball, Aeon Flux, V for Vendetta, 12 Monkeys, Battle Royale, Gattaca, Metropolis, Sleeper.

So there you go. Dystopia! You’ve got to love it. For some reason, it is a much more acceptable face of science fiction. Maybe because everyone sees the stories as allegories for modern politics and freedom and censorship. Maybe it’s because respected usually non-scifi writers have written some dystopian tales. Or maybe because people are just dumb and should be told what to do. Whatever, it is a great sub-genre.

Check back here in a year’s time and I will probably be gloating about how right I was. Either that or I will be ruling all you proles and you will have to praise me all the time anyway. Either is good.

Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series


I loved this book. It is pure old school space adventure, action and excitement that in my opinion really works. Here’s the plot:
Jim Holden is XO on a ship that finds The Scopuli, a derelict vessel that holds an ominous and far-reaching secret. He reveals unwisely reveals some of this secret and suddenly everyone in the solar system seems to be trying to kill him. And each other. It seems that a girl called Julie Mao somehow escaped the destruction of The Scopuli and as well as simply trying to survive, Jim and his plucky crew decide to try and find her.

Meanwhile, in a city inside the hollowed-out dwarf planet Ceres, a burnt out detective called Miller is assigned to hunt for a missing girl. Her name is Julie Mao (same name as above, in case you have the attention span of a small child).

Things escalate and collide and explode and develop and so forth.

As I said at the start, this book is awesome. It was quite refreshing to read something that simply sets out to be readable adventure. This is Space Opera but one that is confined to our solar system and to sub-light speeds. It is a very believable, well realized, and almost familiar setting. Most of the action is set around the mining colonies in or near the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. When the war kicks off between the older established inner planets with their huge advanced space fleets and the less powerful but more adaptable outer planets there is also a sort of race issue going on. Those who grew up in a lesser gravity are noticeably taller and thinner. Like space supermodels. This difference between ‘Belters’ and Inner Planet types is soon put into perspective when an even bigger threat looms but never fully goes away.

Holden and his crew are superbly fleshed out characters and you really get to know and understand them as they embark on one set of adventures after another. At first Miller is a tiny bit of a cliche – down on his luck once great detective but now drinks too much, kind of a guy. But then he starts to develop in some pretty unsuspected ways.

The secret at the core of the book is great too but I can’t really reveal it. At first it seems to just be about who is trying to start a system-wide war but then there’s a whole new angle. A cool one at that.

I can’t recommend this book enough if you are simply after a damn good read. There are battles between ships, shootouts in ships and on/in planets, secret organisations, powerful companies, corrupt governments, pirates, rebels, and a whole load of other stuff I can’t mention. Some of the scenes and set pieces are just genius in their levels of excitement.

As an added bonus, the sequel has just come out.

In summary then: brilliant.

To buy in the US:
Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse)

For the UK:
Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series

 

Fantastical Literature Travel Posters

Science Fiction Destinations

This is, indeed, fantastic. If you are a Science Fiction fan, (and given where you are that’s likely,) you will recognize a lot of these. The Fantastical Literature Travel Agency Poster Project has recreated Science Fiction locales as travel destinations and quite frankly they look superb. Here’s the blurb from the esteemed head of the project, Autun Purser:

H. P. Lovecraft...

“I love those old travel posters from the 1950s etc… They used to make travel seemexciting and adventurous. Now most of us get on a cheap airline and fly off to a rubbish hotel in Spain for a week for our holidays…

…Science Fiction and Fantasy books also used to be a pinnacle of excitement and adventure.Today however, the lure of DVDs, computer games and comics has dragged attention away from some outstanding stories…

…With this project I will try and put together a set of 30 posters advertising the fantastical destinations featured in fiction books… As was commonly the case in the 1950s, I will limit the travel posters I produce to a set of defined colours (a limited palette) and use only typefaces used on historical posters… This will ideally give the posters a striking look and a unified feel…”

 

In addition to these posters there will be further input from some guest artists. There will also be a book featuring all this awesome art with reviews and thoughts from some writers.

This project looks great. I really need a bigger house as I want these on my walls.
For more information, here is the website:

Worth Their Weight in Blood by Carole Jahme


I’ll level with you. Like most of the world over 30 I’m a bit bored with vampires and their stupid goth pallor and teenage girl appeal. Thanks Twilight. Consequently I wasn’t 100% eager to read Worth Their Weight in Blood by Carole Jahme. But read it I did and I was suddenly reminded that vampire novels and films can be pretty cool and can be found outside the Young Adult section and don’t always contain awkward teen romance.

In my youth I loved the movies/books Near Dark, Fright Night, The Lost Boys, Blade, Salem’s Lot and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Then there are books like I am Legend by Richard Mattheson – a vampire tale told from a different angle that is both awesome and kind of sad. And who can forget Buffy who was both a teenager and fell in love but was pretty cool to watch.

The vampire genre is actually pretty versatile and I was pleased that Carole Jahme has tried something a bit different. She has a master’s degree in evolutionary psychology and generally knows about all that evolution stuff. Her angle on the genre is to treat vampires as just another humanoid offshoot along with Neanderthals, the Indonesian pygmy and us homo sapiens.

The story revolves around a lady called Scarlett Fox, who is a single mum that lives in a village in Oxfordshire. She’s unemployed and understandably bored with life. Then a mysterious blood research facility called the Zomnifers Institute opens up nearby. Around this time a family of four are found burnt to death near some ancient stones. Scarlett gets a job at the institute looking after a chimpanzee they have but she starts to notice that things are a bit strange with her fellow astoundingly attractive workmates. I won’t give any more away but there are vampires involved.

I really enjoyed Worth Their Weight in Blood and liked the angle and direction that Jahme takes the story. There are some fascinating sections on evolution and evolutionary psychology weaved into the tale. There was only one section about the ability to self reflect that I felt went on a bit but that could have been because I had recently watched a documentary on that subject a week before at work. Otherwise the science stuff is well integrated and very readable.

The story is well paced and got me in. I found the very beginning a tiny bit slow but when things start to happen the scene is well set and the claustrophobia is in place so maybe I just have a short attention span. Looking back, I realise it was handled pretty well and it makes the events that follow that much more absorbing. Scarlett in particular is well fleshed out by the time weirdness starts to occur.

The vampires themselves are pretty cool. Jahme explains the evolution that led to them losing their empathy, so when things start get bloody it’s pretty understandable. Another nice touch is how Scarlett evolves throughout the story and how her development and thought processes are juxtaposed with the ape she is studying and the vampires she finds surrounding her.

In fact the only thing that bugged me about Worth Their Weight in Blood was the names. The vampires you can understand, as vampires tend to have odd names. They are the celebrity children of the undead. It was just that alongside the weirdly named vampires, you have Scarlett Fox’s family – her mum Red, and her daughter Ruby. It’s possible this is a coincidentally blood-coloured family tradition or destiny/vampire related and will be discussed in a later book but it felt weird. It’s a very mionr niggle though.

Worth Their Weight in Blood is definitely worth a read. Especially if you fancy a new twist on the genre. Carole Jahme is a Guardian journalist and science author and there is no doubt that she can write. If you like vampires and feel like a new take, check it out. Enjoy.
UK: Worth Their Weight In Blood
US: Worth Their Weight In Blood

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I loved Ready Player One! It gave me a massive nerdgasm, which is always nice thing to have.

Here’s the plot. Wade Watts is an 18 year who lives in a trailer stack in the year 2044. Essentially it’s a trailer park that has gone vertical due to poverty and planet-wide lack of resources. The world has turned to shite. Fortunately virtual reality is awesome and pretty much everyone spends all their time on an online game called OASIS. OASIS is almost as convincing as real life except that is much more fun and doesn’t smell. It’s basically a massively multiplayer online experience. Think Warcraft mixed with Second Life in virtual reality. There are practical applications for this – such as people can go to school there – but it is mostly a huge game.

The game consists of tons of planets each with a different theme that players can fly between (if they can afford it). So there are planets like Dungeons & Dragons, futuristic planets, cyberpunk worlds, social planets, shopping planets, futuristic warzones and so forth. The fact that there is so much variety, that the virtual world is as realistic as the real world, and that the world is gripped by poverty, means the game is played by billions. I know I would play it and my life is pretty awesome. The guy who invented the game is a multi-billionaire genius called James Halliday.

When Halliday dies a video is released. His entire fortune is up for grabs if people can find it. Somewhere in OASIS is a series of clues (known as easter eggs which are found in most games and lots of DVDs). These clues lead to tests and then keys that eventually lead to his treasure and fortune. An epic worldwide hunt is on.

The joy of Ready Player One is that it is such a great idea. Anything can happen. One minute the character is on an orbiting space station, the next he is fighting orcs in a dungeon, the next he is fighting in a huge battle on an alien planet. The whole concept is one that makes me genuinely sad that it isn’t a reality yet.

As I said, I loved Ready Player Onebut I am not 100% sure that everyone will. Most of the clues and a lot of the discussions relating to the hunt are based on Halliday’s obsession with nerdy things from when he grew up. His birthday in the book is given as being mid-June 1972. My birthday is the end of May 1972. I am a bit of scifi/games fan (you may have guessed by my superb website). All the things that Halliday was obsessed with are identical to myself.

This is why I loved it. For example he lists some of his favourite OASIS worlds –Arrakis Middle Earth, Vulcan, PernMagrathea, Midworld, Riverworld, Ringworld. If you are unfamiliar with any of these worlds, some of the references may pass you buy. To be honest, for me, they are just entry level Geek. Nerd 101. Later on he references authors: Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, Neal Stephenson, Terry Brooks, Alfred Bester, Ray Bradbury, etc. Holy trinities: Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Mad Max, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Star Wars. He even loves old Twilight Zone and anything by Monty Python. Basically, if I was going to write a book filled with all my nerdiest obsessions from childhood (and beyond), they are listed here.

Then of course are the games. Not only was he a huge fan of old school D&D (on paper and spoken – the classic RPG) he also loved computer games. All the ones I did. I grew up in Hong Kong and spent a huge chunk of my childhood years in games arcades playing Gauntlet, Pac Man, Rampage, Star Wars, Galaxian, Defender and so on. Another huge chunk was spend on various games consoles and pc games that required a small pile of floppy discs just to play.

Adventure on the Atari

The main console in my life from about 7-13, was my beloved Atari 2600. In Ready Player One the whole idea for Halliday’s ‘egg hunt’ is from a game on this very console. A game called ‘Adventure’. I played that game so often that my mum still remembers it just from walking past me. It was basically a very crude fantasy game that had dragons and keys and mazes. One of the greatest days of my young life came when I found a secret room after literally months of play. Atari never allowed game makers to put their name on their work but one programmer hid a room deep in a maze in ‘Adventure’ that was unbelievably hard to find and had the game designer’s name in it. It was a minor sensation in the geek community and only a few of us ever found it. (Probably loads now but this was pre-internet.)

 

The hidden room in ‘Adventure’ was what gave Halliday the idea to hide his fortune in OASIS in the first place.

If you found any of the above boring or didn’t get any of the references to authors, games, planets, etc., you will miss a lot of references in Ready Player One.

The big question (if you have made it this far,) is: can I still enjoy it if I’m not someone as clearly obsessed with this shit as Scifiward or Ernest Cline or the fictional characters in the book? Will you still like it if you aren’t almost 40, having spent a life obsessed with Science Fiction, (plus games, comics, manga, RPGs, etc, etc)? The answer is yes. The book is a fun adventure in its own right. It isn’t all about games. There are also real life action, narrow escapes, romance and bad guys that blow shit up. Pretty much all you need really.

As you can tell, I fucking loved this story. Apparently it is rumoured to be a film soon. I can’t wait.
Ready Player One Paperback
Ready Player One Kindle edition

Nerd out.

The Forge of God by Greg Bear

The Forge of God by Greg Bear

The Forge of God is an acknowledged ‘classic’ of the science fiction genre. It tells the story of aliens arriving and they have a spectacularly miserable message.

The story begins with scientists noticing that Jupiter’s moon Europa has suddenly disappeared. Then three geologists in Death Valley find a dying alien who says, ‘I’m sorry I have some bad news.’ Apparently the Earth is doomed, DOOMED! Meanwhile in Australia some other aliens arrive and say that everything is great, let’s have a BBQ (the latter part isn’t true but that’s what Australians would probably do if they heard this news). What the balls is going on?

The Forge of God starts superbly. It grabs you and makes you eager to find out what is happening and how things will work out. Unfortunately, in my reasonably humble opinion, it then slows down and becomes a trifle plodding. Which is a shame. There are a few intriguing moments but generally I just wanted stuff to happen. Thankfully, at the end, stuff then happens in a BIG way.

The Forge of God has one of the most memorable endings ever. I can’t tell you about it without giving away a huge chunk of the novel but it is awe inspiring, beautifully written, and shocking. I can still remember all the scenes in vivid detail and I have read six other books in the month since reading it (I’ve been on holiday and they were mostly quite short, I’m not boasting).

So there you go. A great start and a great end with a mostly slow centre. Would I recommend The Forge of God to you? Yes. It is worth it for the end alone. Plus there is a sequel that is supposed to be pretty good and you can’t very well read that first. Hell, you might even enjoy the middle and I just have a short attention span. It is also a classic and you should always read classics. Enjoy.

 

Scifi in Chiangmai

Greetings fellow Scifi fans. Huge apologies for not having written much but I am currently in Laos – a place that is very far from the futuristic realms I always dream about. In fact it distinctly feels like the past.

Consequently, I don’t have a whole lot of Scifi related news. I am reading an awesome Scifi book though called Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Very heavily into the geek stuff, so it may not appeal to all. It seems to be aimed at someone exactly my age (nearly 40) who has grown up obsessed with computer games, Scifi, movies, comics, books, etc. The main character that causes this obsession in the book (although he isn’t the protagonist) has a birthday two weeks from mine in 1972. Spooky. Anyway, I will do a full review later.

I realised that a lot of people travel these days and my blatherings on this site get a surprising number of hits. So, and this may seem a bit random, I will give you a travel tip if you happen to be passing through Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Statistically, it is bound to happen (Chiang Mai gets millions of visitors a year and so will this site soon).

Near the Thapae gate just outside of the old city walls you will see a sign pointing to Gecko books. Go there. On that road are several sizeable second hand bookshops that have surprisingly good Scifi book sections. You can get old editions with the original cool artwork (which is a minor obsession of mine).

I bought ‘The number of the beast’ by Heinlein and ‘Empire Earth’ by Arthur C. Clarke and they both have awesome covers. Especially Empire Earth as it has a double cover thingy.

If you aren’t in Chiang Mai when you read this, you should definitely go there. I bet it’s warmer than where you are for a start.