Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Saturday, January 09, 2010

New Year, New Things

So, everyone: welcome to 2010. (A week late, I know, but it's the thought that counts, right?) I hope you enjoy it, and that it delivers at the very least a respectable portion of all that you hope for.

Starting a new year with a new experience can't be a bad thing, I reckon, so you won't hear any complaints from me about the wintry onslaught that has subjugated the British Isles. There's been no sign of the grass on the lawn outside my window for over three weeks now, buried as it is beneath a gleaming white blanket of snow. Nothing remarkable for many of you, of course, including those living at the same latitude as Edinburgh (approaching 56 deg N, for the record - roughly the same as Moscow and the Aleutian Islands), but it's exceptionally unusual round here, where the peculiarities of climates both macro- and micro- mean most winters are all but snow-free. In fact, I don't remember seeing anything quite like it in my life.

I'm a big fan of the big freeze. Everything looks just that little bit unfamiliar and exotic. It feels like we've all travelled to some other place - one quieter, more beautiful and imbued with a faint, cold magic - without having to move. The sound of deep snow crunching underfoot seems to me vaguely romantic and wild and fantastical.

A new computer arrived in my house. I didn't really want one, but the old one was accumulating software glitches and idiosyncracies that nothing seemed to rid it of, and to be fair it was a few years old, so I bit the bullet and went shopping. Turns out PCs have got a whole lot better since I last bought one. Who knew? I mean, have you seen these flat screen things? They're all ... flat and stuff. Amazing.

Anyway, one consequence has been a big clean out and reorganising of my feeds, which gives me an excuse to flag up some new, newish or not new at all podcasts that might be of interest:

1. has added a new podcast - the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy - to complement their existing audio fiction one. Both can be found here. The G's G to the G promises to cover a wide spectrum of geeky interests, so should be worth following. (First episode doesn't do much for me, since it's mostly about Left 4 Dead 2, and my gaming days are more or less behind me, sadly, but I'm not letting that put me off).

2. The iFanboy Pick of the Week podcast is my graphic novels and comics-related listening of choice. For any of you out there with a liking for that medium, it gets a great big thumbs up from me. (As does their video podcast, if you're a visually oriented sort).

3. Naked Archaeology offers monthly news and views on archaeological research and discoveries. Quite interesting, if you're into that sort of thing. It's a spin-off from the very well known and jolly good Naked Scientists podcast, as is the newer and potentially interesting (but I haven't actually listened to it yet, so don't blame me if it's rubbish) Naked Astronomy.

And lo, the new year brings a new look for Fall of Thanes. This is the cover for the US mass market paperback edition, due out very soon. And it is, IMHO, a thing of beauty. Possibly my favourite 'look' for any of the trilogy so far. And that's saying something, since all the way through, I've really been jolly well taken care of by the Orbit folks responsible for prettying up my books.

The new year also brings free pdfs of books. Free pdfs of 11,000 books to be precise, including quite a lot of famous ones (and a great many not very famous at all ones, I suspect). They're available at The Book Depository. Now, personally I can't read novel-length stuff in pdf form. Can just about manage a short story, but that's about my limit in that format (and even then, I'll be hoping it's a short short story). But you might be different, so go knock yourself out. It doesn't look that easy to actually find some of the freebies, admittedly, but even right there on the front page, there's links to free Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling and others.

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Anonymous Chris said...

The Naked Scientists do not do "rubbish", only very fine programmes with extremely high production values, Naked Astronomy amongst them!

3:57 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

I am glad there is another Briton on this fair Isle who appreciates the cold weather and snow. Most people seem to find it frustrating; I can't understand that at all. I just read my copy of Fall of Thanes having had it for a few months but not finding the time to read it. Needless to say as soon as I found the time (ie. Christmas) I read it and found it to be a thoroughly good read. May I congratulate you on writing one of the best set of books I have ever had the good fortune to read. May I also say that Orbit have indeed done an excellent job in presenting your books. I first picked up Winterbirth (back in 2007)because it had an excellent cover and then walked to the till with it because the blurb on the back suggested a good book behind the cover. Don't judge a book by it's cover they say...well sometimes you can!

11:04 PM  
Blogger Brian Ruckley said...

Thanks, Simon. Snow is starting to show the first major signs of melting today. Might not last much longer, unless we get some fresh falls round here. That would please plenty of people but I'd be sorry to see it go.

Chris: well, yes - I agree. Hmmm ... you seem to share a name with the nakedest of the Naked Scientists, the impresario Dr Chris Smith himself. Coincidence? Or do I have a (naked) interweb celebrity haunting my blog ...?

12:10 PM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Happy New Year, Brian.

I love the snow, too. We get a bit more in Germany usually, esp. in the mountains, but a winter like this is rare even here. And so pretty.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Mihai (Dark Wolf) said...

Happy New Year, Brian! May you have an awesome 2010 :)

I am quite fond of snow too and the early days when it falls are just wonderful. Now I am in city that is only grey, without snow, and that is not that great. I just wonder how is it up North?

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Re: "Hmmm ... you seem to share a name with the nakedest of the Naked Scientists, the impresario Dr Chris Smith himself. Coincidence? Or do I have a (naked) interweb celebrity haunting my blog ...?"

It is indeed me; my comment was actually intended as tongue in cheek and as a joke. Sorry - I should have been more obvious!

I came across your blog a little while ago so it was quite funny when our material ended up being mentioned in it. Thanks. I'm touched.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientists

1:58 PM  

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