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Fairyland by Paul McAuley

Twenty-three years ago, as of the writing of this, Paul McAuley hadn't yet seen the birth of online monstrosity Google and was ten years ahead of Facebook. Only one year ago, Jeff VanderMeer was tinkering disturbingly with biotech in his [*FABULOUS] post-apocalyptic horror/sci-fi novel Borne. And yet McAuley seems to have predicted the moral and legal morass of genetic engineering (not the first, I might repeat, referencing John von Neumann etc...) misappropriated for fun, profit and warfare. He also predicted the smoking ban. And that's just in the first few pages. Whereas a lot of speculative fiction is vulnerable to senescence, Fairyland has remained surprisingly spry, aging gracefully whilst maintaining it's whip-smart wits and energy.

Perhaps building on William Gibson's classic (was it a classic in 1994?) Neuromancer, McAuley plunged into the proto-pools of his biologist and botanist background and pulled out the dolls and fairies that populate his future European…
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Veins by Drew

In an effort to make the top half of the blog landing page look as though there are words in some of the posts and not just pictures and Amazon adverts, I thought I’d push out a review of something I’d read recently rather than stick to the strict order of things. So here goes nothing.
I read Veins as I used to enjoy Toothpaste for Dinner, a comic strip by the author, Drew. TFD is dark and daft and en vogue with the current trend for consistently well-done badly drawn cartoons. Plus, Veins was really cheap and quite short, and I’m swayed by the arguments in defense of short(er) fiction*, particularly when it helps push my books read beyond 40 a year…
It delivers something similar. The narrator, M.R., is a dumbass, a deadbeat bum who has a curiously skewed positive slant on his demonstrably awful life. Teased remorselessly in high school (they call him “Veins” and “Titty Veins” because of his pale, transparent skin and later because he develops fat man boobs) he prefers to hide in the ro…

The Broken Mirror by Jonathan Coe

The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

Sucker's Portfolio by Kurt Vonnegut

Nocturnal Animals by Austin Wright

The Ambassador by Bragi Ólafsson

The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer

As I sit and contemplate the inclement weather currently freezing my car to the driveway, I reflect that it's not often I can claim to be ahead of the curve, whether by accident or design. And I still can't. However, it seems I found Jeff VanderMeer at an opportune moment.

A quick shout out here to indie bookshop Griffin Books of Penarth for getting all three volumes for me in record time. Good work team! 

I discovered the short trailer for Annihilation on Twitter (much better than the official one, with fewer 'monsters' and more suspense) and was instantly captivated by the visuals. Now, I don't and won't pay for Netflix, and am very annoyed with Paramount Studios for their rather mercenary short-sightedness over not releasing the film adaptation, written and directed by Alex Garland, into cinemas outside the US and China, but it did allow me to burn through the trilogy without fear of my own interpretation being corrupted by the cinematic filter of a big budget…