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Blog: Comics, Books, And Literary Science Fiction

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when I finished my PhD earlier this year I suddenly had a bit more time available for doing FUN things, which caused me to sit myself down and ask "Yes, but what does that MEAN eh? What is it I actually WANT to do, just for fun?" The answer came back with surprising swiftness, and it was "Watch telly, read comics and read books please."

THUS I have dedicated some SPECIAL TIME to doing these things, and I must say that they are indeed a LOT of fun. I've especially enjoyed reading some comics again, and have been popping into Gosh every few weeks to buy Trade Paperbacks of various things I've been meaning to catch up on (e.g. I'm on about three quarters of the way through "Descender"/"Ascender" at the moment and it is jolly good) and also buying ACTUAL NEW ISSUES of "Miracleman" as they come out. It's ACE!

There have been similar THRILLS in the world of BOOKS, not least a couple of weeks ago when I finally finished off all of the books on my KINDLE. As I'm sure most people who have one of these devices will know, it is VERY tempting to buy loads of books you like the look of and then never get around to actually reading them, so with my new free time I decided to read THE LOT before buying ANYTHING new. This didn't quite work out as planned - it turns out that buying PHYSICAL books doesn't count, according to my BRANE - but I did get through them all eventually, and was delighted to discover that most (though not all) of the books I liked the look of were dead good!

Having done that the next logical step was, of course, to BUY LOADS MORE, and so that is exactly what I did. For the past few years I've always tried to read some of the books on the Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist, as it is a GRATE list of science fiction books which I wouldn't necessarily have known about otherwise. There have been some RIGHT crackers on this list in the past, and so far this year is much the same. For instance, last week I read Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, which was FAB. It is very much a Literary Science Fiction book i.e. one written by a Posh People's Author (who doesn't usually DO this sort of thing) which is pretty much the same as their other books except they have a ROBOT or something in them. USUALLY this is a bit annoying and tedious, notably with Ian McEwan's "Machine Like Me" which was ALL RIGHT but was clearly someobdoy who had never really read any science fiction going "AHA! But what if we used science fiction as... A METAPHOR! Nobody has every thought of this before!" ANYWAY, THIS book was not at ALL like that. Well, all right, it did have a robot in it, and it was a lot like Kazuo Ishiguro's other books, but luckily Kazuo Ishiguro's other books are GRATE. It's all told from the point of view of the aforesaid ROBOT, and part of the fun is working out what they're on about as they describe a near-future world in their own terms, but it's also VERY emotional and beautifully told. He has FORM for this, OBVS, with Never Let Me Go, which was ALSO proper sci-fi and ALSO bloody brilliant.

After that HIGH I moved on with some trepidation to Wergen: The Alien Love War. I say trepidation because a) the title is not hugely inviting and b) the cover is... well, have a look for yourself and you'll see. HOWEVER, the summary sounded interesting and GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME the book itself is so far INCREDIBLE. It's beautifully written, rivettingly plotted, and most of all it features A WHOLE NEW IDEA (to me at least). The key THORT of it is this: human beings are colonising the galaxy alongside a bunch of aliens called The Wergen, who are a) genetically, unavoidably, TOTALLY IN LOVE with ALL human beings and b) a bit annoying. It's an amazing idea which Mercurio D. Rivera (who what wrote it) goes ALL IN on, which leads to a huge range of STORIES and IDEAS.

There's also a whole WORLD of other stuff that comes out of it, notably with the way The Wergen MATE, and all in all it's RUDDY AMAZING. I haven't enjoyed a book this much for AGES, and I have enjoyed a LOT of books, a LOT. As I say, I'm only halfway through but hopefully it will continue in this way. I guess it proves that, insofar as the contents go, you should not judge a book by it's cover.

Hmmm. Has anybody ever said that before? Maybe I should write a Literary Science Fiction Novel about it!

posted 8/12/2022 by MJ Hibbett

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after my PhD I resolved to refamiliarize myself with the world by taking out a year's subscription to The Economist, and to New Scientist. And I read, assiduously. After a year, I'd tired of being mansplained to by a fiftysomething about why These Things were the way they were, despite those things changing from how they were previously explained to be, and I'd tired of being lied to by a thirtysomething about How This Thing Will Change Everything, despite that thing being hyped in previous issues a decade ago that the thirtysomething hadn't read, having done nothing in the intervening time. Plus ca change, etc.
posted 9/12/2022 by disenchante

" a tantalising moment that will remind older readers of the bittersweet feeling of buying a home computer in the 1980s, when the excitement of getting the purchase home was tempered by the realisation that it would take two days to partition the hard drive" -- Grauniad McEwan reviewer and Oxbridge grad Marcel Theroux knows nothing about computers, and goes on to compare the work to that of the other well-known science fiction novelist, Rudyard Kipling.
posted 9/12/2022 by Roland Spectrum

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