Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Monday, November 27, 2006

Prestigious Bond Torches Mononoke's Labyrinthine Wood

They don't mention it in the small print, but blogging software comes with invisible mind control coding which infiltrates your synaptic networks and gradually makes you believe that other people really, really need to hear your opinion on things. My resistance to this malign effect is temporarily faltering, so here's a movie/TV round-up.

Casino Royale: enjoyed it more than any Bond movie I've seen in a while (and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those responsible for the two very fine Bourne movies - they pretty much forced the Bond producers to reconsider what they've been doing to the franchise over the last decade or more). It's not perfect by any means - a bit too long, I thought, and it loses some of its energy and direction in the last half hour or so - but its strengths more than compensate. Daniel Craig is definitely one of those strengths. Not sure how those who've grown up liking their Bond movies more OTT than this are going to feel about it, but all in all Casino Royale's rekindled my virtually comatose interest in things 007ish.

The Prestige: loved the book (highly recommend it if anyone's looking for something to read), and the film's a good interpretation of such a complex, atmospheric text. Hugh Jackman's on pretty good form, but the director's the real star: Christopher Nolan might have made a bad film at some point, but if so, I haven't seen it.

Pan's Labyrinth: definitely memorable. A mix of visually striking fantasy elements and really quite brutal and very definitely non-fantastical strife set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Recommended, so long as you have a reasonably high tolerance for witnessing physical and emotional distress. A distinctively European film - where else could you get quite the same rich stew of fairy stories and vicious 20th century history to draw upon? Well, Asia probably. Speaking of which ...

Princess Mononoke: anime, watched on DvD. Man vs. Nature, in a very literal sense. It's got something - can't quite put my finger on what it is, but it's definitely something. It feels, at times, like myth-making of considerable power, and despite its occasional oddities (to Western eyes, at least) in terms of plotting and character motivation/development, it never comes across as anything other than grown-up film-making. Some of the animation is exquisite, too.

Torchwood: the US gets Buffy, Angel, X-Files, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5 etc. We Brits get Torchwood: the implausible adventures of the most sex-obsessed, dim, indisciplined and downright ineffective secret investigators the world has ever seen. I mean, if these guys are all that stands between the human race and disaster, we might as well all drop everything and head down the pub to enjoy what little time we have left. Actually, the last three or so episodes have been a slight (but only slight) improvement, so things are on a bit of an upward trend. I'm still feeling a bit short-changed, though.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Yet More Gazetteering

A slightly more detailed version of the timeline that's in the back of Winterbirth is now available in the Gazetteer. I'm not sure whether or not this new version will appear in the second book of the trilogy, but for now at least, it's an internet exclusive.

And look - I made it onto someone's list of recommended Christmas presents for the reader(s) in your life. I hope you'll all be bearing that in mind while you're doing the Xmas shopping ...

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The US of A plus Free Books!

Just before I get to the point of this post, since it has an American theme: people keep saying George W. Bush is now a lame duck, so what might a lame duck President find to do with his time? Answer here.

So, to our main story. A bit slow out of the blocks with this news, since it's been agreed for a little while now, but: I'm delighted to say a deal's been done for Winterbirth to be published in the USA. Getting published in the UK and various European countries would, to be honest, have been enough to keep me happy for a long time - adding the US to the list is a fantastic thick crust of icing on the cake.

The US edition will be one of the first books to appear from Orbit in the USA, making it part of one of the more ambitious undertakings seen in sf/f publishing for a while. Orbit's turning itself into a globe-spanning genre empire, with a foot in each of the three biggest English-speaking markets (which I suppose makes it a tripod - a form with a noble sf heritage).

Same continent, different country, and look: I'm being given away for free. (EDIT to update: that competition's finished now, so the freebies are no more, I'm afraid)

And here, one more time, is the info on how to buy a signed copy of the UK edition, in case anyone's still toying with that idea.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Collective Nouns (& A Big Cave)

Forgot to mention a couple of links were added to the relevant page a little while ago: the Falcata Times and the blog of the Write Fantastic, a collective of British fantasy writers. Which made me wonder what the collective noun for fantasy writers is. Maybe 'tolkien', as in 'I had to throw a whole tolkien of fantasy writers out of the pub last night'.

Favourite collective nouns from the animal world: a charm of finches, a murder of crows. Apparently the name for a group of buzzards - birds I previously admitted my liking for - is a 'wake', which sounds good but I've no idea what its origin is. In fact, A Wake of Buzzards would be a good title. Not nearly as good as A Murder of Crows, of course, but that's already taken several times over.

And, wholly unconnected with that (I'm rambling here, as you probably noticed), exciting news for all British troglodytes. There's a cool photo of it here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Winterbirth Goes on Holiday

Even a book needs a break now and again. Tom sent this photo of Winterbirth relaxing on a beach in Mallorca, in the company of a cool sand sculpture. Like it. The book was released into the wild in a hotel lobby, so somewhere in Mallorca there's a lonely copy of Winterbirth mooching about the bars looking for friends, probably fluttering its pages seductively, asking people if they like its cover and trying to shake the sand out of its crevices.

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