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Showing posts from March, 2017

Spares by Michael Marshall Smith

I'm having a great time reassembling my lost library, re-reading books I once thought I'd consumed and therefore to which I might justifiably never return. It's great! Next up, in case you're wondering, will be Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut (not that I'd lost it, just that I reallyreallyreally want to read it again, having been a whole 10 years since his untimely death). 

Michael Marshall Smith (or Michael Marshall when he writes out-and-out horror/thriller titles) is a British writer who brings to mind the work of his contemporary sci-fi & etc. novelist Jeff Noon. His first book was Only Forward (on my To Re-Read list for sure) which with the talking appliances originally made me think of Rogue Trooper in 2000AD comics, and got me into slick, quick, character and plot-driven sci-fi back in the late 1990s. Wait, or was that One Of Us? Bah, who cares.

Spares is set in a dystopian American future (one assumes) where the rich can grow spare bodies for harvesting in the…

Jim Giraffe by Daren King

Like all good ghost stories, at least those written by Charles Dickens, this one starts off with a spectral appearance and a triple-threat warning, via the medium of VHS cassette, that if Scott Spectrum, successful scriptwriter for the Science Fiction Channel's biggest hit, to date, Space Man In Space, doesn't slip the yoke of self-repression, he is going to die. Unlike Dickens, Jacob Marley here is a dead giraffe, who lives in the wardrobe, and is called Jim. 

But Scott Spectrum is no Ebeneezer Scrooge. He learns absolutely nothing about himself and, at its finalé, is left a cuckold, unaware that his frustrated wife Continence can't be impregnated by acts of fellatio, his baby suspiciously long of neck and skin mottled with giraffe-ish patterns, forced out of his house, his marriage and his life and left to live with Barry the ghost rhinoceros who until then kipped under Scott's sink.

Cock jokes abound, there is foul language and sledgehammer satire, and if you're g…

If Then by Matthew De Abaitua

In making sense of this rather incredible novel, bought on a whim because the lovely people at Angry Robot offered to discount any e-book the Twitterati proposed to only 50p for a few minutes, and me being a fringe-Twitterer managed to get in on the act, I am deeply indebted to an article from Strange Horizons. It also reminded me to read more Olaf Stapledon. For the forensic work they do in tracing the references and highlighting the influences and inspiration behind the characters, please do read their review (after you read this, click on all the advertising and leave me glowing comments, of course).

In retrospect, I should have suspected that a sci-fi novel written by the amanuensis of Will Self would be challenging, upsetting, entertaining and thought-provoking. Harrowing in places too. Because it is most certainly all of these things. In a near post-digital-apocalyptic future, a small community is given over to The Process, an AI algorithm, which receives data from biotech implan…

Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

It’s truly staggering how many of Elmore Leonard’s simply written and spare novels and novellas have been turned into films. If you don’t believe me, here’s a link to an out-of-date hierarchical listing of best-to-worst adaptations from Indiewire. See, there’s lots of them.
But as the chap who lent me this one (he’s been on an Elmore Leonard bender of late, including all of the early westerns he wrote, and is trying to force me to read them all) says, once you’ve seen the film, and heard those movie idols speak Leonard’s wonderful prose lines, it’s really damned hard to imagine anyone else saying them, even in the case of Alan Alda.
So it’s no surprise then that the dialogue of Rum Punch, committed to celluloid by the esteemed Mr Tarantino, seems to spring from the mouths of Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert de Niro, Bridget Fonda et al. And after that, well, it’s hard to think of anything else. 
For those yet to see the film of the book, altered to reflect Tarantino’s contemporaneous…