Currently …

breaking blog silence, briefly, for this update.

writing! Fall of Thanes is making its way through the publication process (still seems to be on course for a summer 2009 release date – early summer, at that), so my attention turns elsewhere: to short stories, specifically. One of 2008’s nicer surprises was being invited to contribute stories to a couple of upcoming anthologies. Nice, but a bit scary. Writing short stories is hard.

…reading!

Books:
Infoquake by David Louis Edelman. First sf book I’ve read that’s essentially a corporate boardroom thriller. Only about halfway through it, but so far it’s interesting and feels at least somewhat original, which is (almost) always a good thing.

World War Z by Max Brooks. Subtitle is an ‘Oral History of the Zombie War’. Seriously clever idea: the story of the zombie apocalypse, told as if it’s non-fiction through transcripts of interviews with those who witnessed and survived the struggle.

Comics:
Or graphic novels, I suppose, since I only ever read this stuff in collected trade paperback format nowadays.

Umbrella Academy is an sfnal superhero romp, with robots, apocalyptic music, time travel, sentient chimps and a hero whose head has been grafted onto the body of a space gorilla. Very well written (despite the fact its author is considerably better known as a musician), and with great art. It feels full of excitement at the freedom offered by the medium, and is positively wanton in its flinging about of crazy ideas and striking images.

Scalped is quite a contrast. A crime story set in a modern day Native American community, it’s stuffed with brutal violence, spectacularly bad language, sex, drugs, local and cultural politics and messed up relationships. Very definitely not for kids (or easily offended adults). The characters, setting and tone are interesting enough to make me want to read more.

One thing about both these comics that appeals to me is that they keep their plot and character cards quite close to their chest. They both very deliberately create the sense that they have a hinterland, as yet unrevealed, of plot and history and setting, and there is an implied promise that we will be digging deeper, peeling back layers, in future volumes. I like that.

… listening!

To tales of financial armaggedon on the NPR Planet Money podcast. An accessible, often illuminating and occasionally even amusing, guide to the ongoing implosion of the world’s financial system. It’s like watching/listening to a slow motion car crash in which an endless succession of security vans laden with our money plough into one another and explode, incinerating their contents. Boom! There goes another billion. Smash! Yes, that’s your pension turning to ash …

…admiring Julian Beever’s 3D pavement drawing!

Go check out his remarkable online gallery. Seems ludicrously, almost indecently, clever to me.

… in awe of the ruthlessness and efficiency of Nature!

A sparrowhawk killed a pigeon in the back garden not so long ago, and spent close to an hour sitting on the grass right outside the window methodically dismantling its victim. The pigeon was plucked and devoured with awesome precision, and its remains were then carried off, leaving just a near-perfect circle of feathers, a few strands of gut and a bizareely neat and tidy little pile of corn, presumable decanted from its crop. The corn was soon gone, eaten by other birds – pigeons, as likely as not – picking it out from amongst the remains of their late colleague. That’s recycling for you. No room for sentiment out there in Red-in-Tooth-and-Claw World.

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