Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Before I go...

Today’s my last day in front of the Mac for some time as I’m visiting Morocco - Marrakech to be more precise. I plan to spend the time playing with the new Nikon and attempting to get that perfect shot that encapsulates the heat of the street, the shadows and mystery of the souk, the light playing off the Atlas Mountains and the history that beats within the walls of that mysterious city. If that doesn’t work then I’ll just have to eat tagine and drink mint tea until I’m fully rested.

I’m taking a bit of reading material with me including Huston’s ‘Already Dead’, Carey’s ‘Thicker Than Water’ and ‘A Madness of Angels’ by Kate Griffin. That should keep me busy.

The Royal Mail stamps containing art by Dave McKean and words by Neil Gaiman have arrived. I’m not much of a philatelist, but these are lovely little things and worth £4.35 of any-ones money


Century: 1910 is the next outing for The League of Extraordinary Gentleman by Mr. Moore and Mr. O’Neill and I’m glad to say a big improvement on ‘Black Dossier’, which I found just a little too self indulgent.

The book begins with Nemo’s daughter, setting her up as a replacement for the ageing mysterious submariner pirate. Running away from her destiny she ends up in the East End of London where the unaging Mina and Allan have been joined by Orlando, Raffles and Carnacki.

As usual part of the enjoyment is spent identifying all the allusions to history and characters real or imagined. The story seems more straight forward than the last outing and the art work is as usual excellent.

The Scar by China Mieville is probably one of the best works of fantasy I have ever read. The book follows a woman in exile from her city of birth, via a slave ship to a new urban sprawl, the pirate city of Armada. Made up from boats the entire vast city floats around the ocean collecting enforced citizens and growing in size and power. The rulers of the city, a mysterious couple called ‘the Lovers’ decide to increase the power of the fledgling state with or without the help of its people, by steering the city to a place that might not even exist.

The book deals with alienation, freedom, servitude, responsibility, civic power, and trust, just to mention a few things. Written in the steampunk subgenre the book stands heads and shoulders above many due to its breadth of ideas and its intelligence. It’s a demanding book that deserves your attention, a book that shows that fantasy need not be considered ‘a foolish thing’, but when written correctly can display more about the human psyche than even the best works of literary fiction.


So with all short stories in before my deadline, ‘Pick 57’ gestating nicely, I bid you adieu and leave you with a couple of Dave McKean shorts in my absence.

Read this week:

Century: 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

The Scar by China Mieville

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