Archives for posts with tag: Science Fiction

In Search of Space, 2012

So, my final post of 2012, and another idea suggested by Deanne. I’ve attempted a round-up of all the books featured in TFIPM in the last year (in reverse order of appearance). Before we get to the round-up, I’d like to say thank you to Stephen D. for lunch yesterday (fab!), and to everyone who has visited, liked, commented or contacted the blog in the last year – I really appreciate it.

Stephen D, 2012

I posted an awards page (https://thefutureispapiermache.wordpress.com/awards/digging-for-fire/) a couple of days ago. Lazy I know, but I haven’t got the time or energy to email everyone to tell them they’ve been nominated, so please check it out. And I started a new blog here: TFIPM Remix if you want to see a lot of the street portraits in one place.

A big thank you to John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans, and to J.E. Lattimer (Arcane Arrangements , Mysteries of the Wasteland, and Fictional Machines ) for a fantastic collaboration on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

And lastly but not leastly to Richard from CK Ponderings for being a brilliant, inspiring collaborator for the last six months (and a bit), and an all-round cool guy – it was great to finally meet him in November.

Right onwards…Taxi!

Taxi!, 2012

Recommendations 2012

From the bookshelves:

Hotel World (2001) by Ali Smith

Triangle Square Circle (1995) by William Wegman

House of Suns (2008) by Alasdair Reynolds

Re-Make/ Re-model (2007) by Michael Bracewell

Riddley Walker (1980) by Russell Hoban

Empty Space (2012) by M John Harrison

20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth (2008) by Xiaolu Guo

The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps (2001) by Michel Faber

The Entropy Tango (1981) by Michael Moorcock

England’s Dreaming (1991) by Jon Savage

The Lowlife (1963) by Alexander Baron

Sombrero Fallout (1976) by Richard Brautigan

Stone Junction (1990) by Jim Dodge

Travel Arrangements (2001) by M John Harrison

Kleinzeit (1974) by Russell Hoban

Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (1997) by Georges Perec

A Brief History of Time (1988) by Stephen Hawking

Exit Music (2007) by Ian Rankin

Ask The Dust (1939) by John Fante

The Dancers At The End of Time (1981) by Michael Moorcock

Under The Clock (2005) by Tony Harrison

Utopia Parkway (1997) by Deborah Solomon

The Frequency of Souls (1996) by Mary Kay Zuravleff

The Light of Day (2003) by Graham Swift

The Happy Owls (1963) by Celestino Piatti

The Accidental (2005) by Ali Smith

Fowler’s End (1957) by Gerald Kersh

Five Miles From Outer Hope (2000) by Nicola Barker

Pale Fire (1962) by Vladimir Nabakov

Walking on Glass (1985) by Iain Banks

From The History of Abstract Painting Week:

History of Abstract Painting (1989) by Jean-Luc Daval

From Science Fiction Fortnight:

The Cornelius Quartet (Comprising The Final Programme (1969), A Cure For Cancer (1971), The English Assassin (1972) and The Condition of Muzak (1977) by Michael Moorcock

The Ash Circus (a short story) (1969) by M John Harrison

Millenium People (2003) by J G Ballard

The Lathe of Heaven (1971) by Ursula K Le Guin

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell

Signal To Noise (a short story) (2006) by Alasdair Reynolds

Perdido Street Station (2000) by China Meiville

The Stars My Destination (1956) by Alfred Bester

Breakfast In The Ruins (1972) by Michael Moorcock

Swarm (a short story) (1982) by Bruce Sterling

In The Country of Last Things (1987) by Paul Auster

Crash (1973) by J G Ballard

King of the City (2000) by Michael Moorcock

I, Robot (1957) by Isaac Asimov

Blood Music (1983) by Greg Bear

Under The Skin (2000) by Michel Faber

Light (2002) by M John Harrison

The Illustrated Man (1951) by Ray Bradbury

The War of the Worlds (1898) by H G Wells

The City and the Stars (1956) by Arthur C Clarke

Slaughterhouse 5 (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut

The Stainless Steel Rat (1961) by Harry Harrison

Concrete Island (1974) by J G Ballard

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House of Suns (I), 2012

House of Suns  is a novel by Alasdair Reynolds. It was published in 2008. Broadly speaking it’s a space opera, but… as with all his books it avoids the flat prose and clumsily drawn female characters traditionally associated with the genre. It also goes some way to conveying a yearning sense of wonder at the vast, black, inkiness of space and the planets that hang about in it.

It’s not my favourite Reynolds book, but it is a gripping, fun read. If you’re interested in a modern take on space opera, I’d recommend you start with Revelation Space (2000). If you like that, you’ll get round to House of Suns in the end.

Anyway, this is from the dust-jacket: “Six million years ago, at the dawn of the human starfaring era, Aigail Gentian split herself into a thousand clones and launched them into the galaxy, to gather more memories and wisdom than one single human being could ever accumulate in a universe bound by Einstein’s laws. Periodically the shatterlings of Gentian Line meet for a grand bacchanalian reunion, where, over the course of a thousand heady nights, they exchange memories.

Two wayward shatterlings, Campion and Purslane, are about to be decades late for Gentian Line’s thirty-second reunion. Even worse, they have fallen in love…”

And here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

I was born in a house with a million rooms, built on a small, airless world on the edge of an empire of light and commerce that the adults called the Golden Hour, for a reason I did not yet grasp.

I was a girl then, a single individual called Abigail Gentian.

During the thirty years of my childhood, I only saw a fraction of the vast, rambling, ever-changing mansion.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, second shelf down.

House of Suns (II), 2012

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our sixteenth is over at Richard’s blog – check it out!

Riddley Walker (I), 2012

Riddley Walker (II), 2012

Riddley Walker (III), 2012

The first two shots were taken in central London and the third in Clock House, UK.

Riddley Walker  is a novel by Russell Hoban. It was published in 1980.

The book is set about two thousand years after a nuclear war in a small settlement (in what is today, Kent), which has reached a technological/ social level equivalent to the Iron Age, (without the inhabitants being able to make their own iron. Metal is salvaged). The government is in part a Theocracy, with laws and mythology built around scraps of information from the pre-war age, mixed in with Bible stories and art history. Our young hero, Riddley lives in the settlement and is just about to stumble upon a plot to resurrect an ancient weapon that could bring about the end of everything.

Well, I love Russell Hoban’s work, and Riddley Walker is probably my favourite of his books. It uses an invented dialect to describe an invented time, populated by a people struggling to come to terms with their world using an invented belief system. Apparently for some time after writing the book, Hoban had difficulty writing in modern English.

Here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the last wyld pig on the Dundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. He dint make the groun shake nor nothing like that when he come on to my spear he wernt all that big plus he lookit poorly. He done the reqwyrt he ternt and stood and clattert his teef and made his rush and there we wer then. Him on 1 end of the spear kicking his life out and me on the other end watching him dy. I said, ‘Your tern now my tern later.’ The other spears gone in then and he were dead and the steam coming up off him in the rain and we all yelt, ‘Offert!’

The woal thing fealt jus that littl bit stupid. Us running that boar thru that las littl scrump of woodling with the forms all roun. Cows mooing sheap baaing cocks crowing and us foraging our las boar in a thin grey girzel on the day I come a man.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, second shelf down.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

Empty Space (II), 2012

Empty Space (III), 2012

Empty Space (IV), 2012

These were taken in Central London and Beckenham, UK.

Empty Space: A Haunting  is a novel by M. John Harrison. It was published in 2012. I’ve already posted about the anticipation of this book here.

I’ve finally started reading it. It’s slow going, not because of the book, which is engrossing and brilliant, but because of other stuff, mundane things, sticky situations. I’m on Chapter Eight, and gripped.

So far, the book is divided between three narrative strands – one set on Earth in the near-future, and two set in the city of Saudade, which is light years away. One of these strands is from the point of view of a not entirely above-board shipper and the other from an investigator of irregularities. I couldn’t possibly hope to summarise the book at this stage, so instead here’s the second paragraph from Chapter Three:

Whether you believed these claims or not, one thing was certain: Antoyne was no longer the loser you used to see beached-up in Saudade City, narratising his bad luck, drinking Black Heart Rum, reduced to making small points at the very edge of the game as errand boy for cheap crooks like Vic Serotonin or Pauli DeRaad. He owned his own ship. He had an eye for a transaction. He wasn’t even fat anymore.

The photographs are not representative of the text in any way except that they kind of felt right – maybe something of the atmosphere…anyway, there will be more (and a fuller review of the book when I’ve finished it).

In our house, this book can be found: bedroom in a pile of stuff on the chest of drawers.

M John Harrison has his own blog here.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

The Entropy Tango, 2012

This was taken on Kingsway, London, UK.

The Entropy Tango  is a novel or a collection of five novellas by Michael Moorcock. It was published in 1981.

There’s a slight link to the post before last here. The Entropy Tango is one of four books that expanded on the world(s) of Jerry Cornelius – another that was published the year before was The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, in which the Sex Pistols appeared as themselves and characters from the Cornelius novels.

Any road up, The Entropy Tango was originally planned as an LP-sized book with colour illustrations and an LP of the songs, which introduce each novella. But the money wasn’t available, so it became a paperback with B&W illustrations. The novel is told in a series of short sections which may not necessarily relate to the previous section, or indeed any other story. It’s another chaotic whirl of a book – stomping through history to make its points (and like catnip to the likes of me who love this stuff). I won’t try to summarize the plot.

Here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

“I still breed and buy a little, but I rarely, these days, kill.” Balancing a pink gin in his thin hand Major Nye settled into the light-blue plush and pulled a photograph from his top pocket. Behind him was a wide observation window. He turned to glance through the clouds at what could be Transcarpathia below. There were only four passengers in the airship’s lounge and two of them spoke no language known to him, so he was anxious to keep Mrs Persson nearby. As she approached, he said: “What do you make of this couple?”

It was too hot. Una Persson regretted her Aran turtleneck, and she tugged a little at the top so that her pearls clicked.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, first shelf down.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Check Richard’s blog for our latest!

Empty Space (I), 2012

This was taken somewhere in Central London, UK.

Empty Space: A Haunting  is a novel by M. John Harrison. It was published in 2012.

I haven’t read Empty Space yet – it’s sitting on the chest of drawers in the bedroom until I can find the time to concentrate on it. I’ve been excited about reading it for some time, and even managed the first couple of chapters.

Empty Space is the final book in a trilogy (I’ve talked about the first book, Light (2002), in another post; the second book is called Nova Swing (2006)), so I’m hoping some strands of narrative might resolve themselves (or seriously not).

Any road up, this photograph is the first in an occasional series I’m going to post around the reading of the book. It has very little to do with the content of the book, because I know very little about the content of the book. Hopefully, future posts will remedy this appalling state of affairs.

Here’s the first paragraph:

Anna Waterman heard two cats fighting all evening. At ten o’clock she went out into the garden and called in the family tom. A decade or so ago, her daughter Marnie, age thirteen and already unfathomable, had named this animal ‘James’. Late summer displayed a greenish afterglow at the bottom of a sky full of stars. Anna’s was a long garden, perhaps fifty yards by twenty, with lichenous apple trees in unmown grass and a leaning summerhouse which looked like something from a 1970s Russian film – falling apart, surrounded by overgrown flowerbeds, filled with those things you discard, but don’t throw away. The flowerbeds had an unhealthy vitality. Every year, tended or not, they produced dense mixtures of indigenous weeds, wild flowers and – since the warming of the mid-2000s – exotics with large petals and fleshy leaves, blown in as seeds from who knows where.

In our house, this book can be found: bedroom in a pile of stuff on the chest of drawers.

M John Harrison has his own blog here.

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Thank you, once again,  John and Deanne for making me tinker with titles. Extra thanks to Deanne for the location tag idea. And to Terry for sending me in the direction of the shelves in search of ideas, and of course, as always, to Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

Travel Arrangements, 2012

This was taken off The Strand, London, UK.

Travel Arrangements  is a collection of short stories by M. John Harrison. It was published in 2001.

This was the first book I read by M. John Harrison, and it hooked me immediately. I could bore you rigid about how much I like his writing. (In short: a lot). Anyway, there are more comprehensive collections out there, but like a good mix tape this one tantalises and taunts and whispers, “Go on, read everything he’s written. You know you want to.”

The Guardian says: “Harrison presents an England where the dead offer you cups of tea, Soho couples wear axes in their heads as a fashion statement and the roads are deserted enough for lonely men to race cars down the M4.” Go on read everything he’s written; you know you want to…

Here’s the second paragraph of the first story, Old Women:

Like her friends they had short, roughly cut hair. They were all vegetarians and this gave them the energy of girls. They wore quilted Chinese silk jackets with a yellow woolen tam o’ shanter and a long squarish skirt they had made themselves from some odd black dressy material. (Under this their knees appeared at surprising angles when they sat down.) They went regularly to church, but, to the suppressed fury of the vicar, would not repeat the parts of the creed that offended them. They believed in the power of mussel shell extract, and the imminent arrival of a ‘Master’ who would come from Venus; they believed that the military aircraft which roared all day a hundred feet above the moor were knocking holes in the atmosphere.

In our house, the book can be found: sitting room, left-hand bookshelves, third shelf down.

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Thank you, once again,  John and Deanne for making me tinker with titles. Extra thanks to Deanne for  tag ideas etc. And to Terry for sending me in the direction of the shelves in search of ideas, and of course, as always, to Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

Call to arm Syrian rebel fighters

The exiled opposition Syrian National Council calls for foreign states to arm rebel fighters, as government troops continue their assault on Aleppo. (BBC news website, 29.07.12)

The Final Programme, 2012

The Final Programme is the first novel in Michael Moorcock’s Cornelius Quartet. It was published in 1969 and was the first to feature the character, Jerry Cornelius. The book is a fairly straightforward SF adventure story with a  conventional episodic structure. Jerry Cornelius, a physicist and hip secret agent, attempts to subvert a plot by his (drug-addled and generally disreputable) brother Frank and a Miss Brunner (who has a vampiric appetite for young flesh) to build a super computer for nefarious ends. There’s also the little matter of rescuing his sister Catherine from their clutches.

In 1973 the book was adapted for cinema by Robert Fuest, who also directed. But Moorcock was quick to distance himself from the film when it was released.

Locog vows to solve empty seats problem

‘Olympic family’ areas stand empty as 500 places unoccupied at Phelps v Lochte swimming heats and more than 1,000 at gymnastics. (The Guardian, 29.07.12)

A Cure for Cancer, 2012

A Cure for Cancer was published in 1971, and is described in the original book’s blurb thus: “Up from the ocean depths comes the jet-black caucasian transvestite champion. Resplendant in warpaint, wampum beads and silk suit by Cardin, armed only with a tomahawk and vibragun, he returns to the napalmed ruins of London to resurrect his sister and wrest from the disgusting Bishop Beesley and his formidable henchwomen the black box which has diffracted the cosmos and set the world spinning at super-speed towards its own final solution. Lock up your daughters, hide your stash, keep to the shadows.”

The book has an unconventional structure, Moorcock claiming that it follows a kind of wave form, which dictates that the climax to the book comes right slap-bang in the middle. It’s my personal favourite – I just love the exhilerating chaos and disorientation of it. But if you’re planning to read the quartet, I wouldn’t start here.

“It was a bit of a laugh”: The Queen tells of her delight after acting debut alongside Daniel Craig. (The Mirror, 29.07.12)

The English Assassin, 2012

The English Assassin was published in 1972, and finds Jerry Cornelius comatose in a coffin for most of the book. The book posits eight alternative apocalypses and progresses in predictable unpredictability. The world is coming apart at the seams – time has broken down – the cossacks are crossing Europe. London is near to collapse. Jerry finds himself at the center of events, still able to stir things up – valuable but also dangerous to those who employ him.

It’s an odd novel – there are so many strands to it and Jerry seems to have ceded the spotlight to another character, Una Persson. What could be going on?

The sections of the book are prefaced by brief newspaper reports of generally horrific crimes. Jerry’s adventures may often seem shocking, but they pale against reports from the real world.

Rain causes floods and landslip

Scores of homes are flooded in North Somerset following heavy rain, which also caused a landslip. (BBC news website, 05.08.12)

The Condition of Muzak, 2012

The Condition of Muzak was published in 1977. And things have fractured and dissipated further – Europe is nothing but a collection of tiny principalities, of burning city states, of chaotic gestures. And Jerry’s not up to much – he’s withdrawn and sulky, busy transforming himself from one character type to another. Specifically Harlequin to Pierrot, for we are seeing a world refracted through the lens of the Italian Commedia dell’arte. (Wikipedia: The characters of the commedia usually represent fixed social types, stock characters, such as foolish old men, devious servants, or military officers full of false bravado). All the characters from the previous novels are back to reprise their roles in this new theatre of the catastrophe. While civilisation burns Jerry/ Pierrot slinks off to leave them to it, in search of his dead sister, Catherine.

The Quartet is a genre all of its own – by the fourth book, Moorcock has turned the SF novel inside out – narrative threads are (untangled and) resolved, but only according to the Quartet’s internal logic. Character, plot, narrative structure have all appear to have been disolved.

What I love about Jerry Cornelius is that he always asks more questions than he answers.

You can read more about the Cornelius Quartet, including Michael Moorcock’s take on it here. Michael Moorcock’s website (a must if you’re in any way interested in his work, and he can often be found on its message boards) is here.

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This is the final post in my Science Fiction “fortnight” (probably about three weeks) – I was going to make a joke about time machines, but in the end I couldn’t be bothered. The second hand on my watch appears to be coming to a halt…

Huge thanks to John Pindar and Deanne who set this whole titling thing in motion. And to my collaborator and all-round cool dude, Richard over at CK Ponderings, who has just finished using classic Dr. Who serials as titles for his work – check his blog out now. And to a more recent collaborator, J.E. Lattimer, who is doing really interesting things with text and image over at Arcane Arrangements.

You’d be a fool not to visit Theodora Brack’s blog, People, Places and Bling, Cheryl Moore’s Unbound Boxes Limping Gods, and Stevie Gill’s Killing Time With A Camera.  And if you fancy listening to some mighty fine songs, try Cathryn Stone, whose White Sun Dark Moon has been a soundtrack to a lot of my recent shots.

Next week, Medical Romances…

The Ash Circus, 2012

The Ash Circus is a short story by M. John Harrison. It was published in 1970 as part of a short story collection called The Nature of the Catastrophe. The book collected all of Michael Moorcock’s stories about Jerry Cornelius, along with several by other authors.

I’ll be writing more about Jerry Cornelius soon, but in short he is a postmodern confection – an aspiring musician and accomplished assassin, (as well as being a Pierrot figure). Jerry is amoral – he is sexually and in every other way ambiguous.

When he was editing New Worlds magazine, Moorcock invented Jerry Cornelius as both a character and a method of writing – the idea was to expand SF’s horizons to include experimental writing and hold a mirror up to the society of the sixties and early seventies. He also made the character available for other writers to interpret. Moorcock has since said he thinks M. John Harrison’s Jerry stories were the best.

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Well now, for the last “fortnight” I have been naming my posts and photographs after Science Fiction novels, stories and anthologies.

Thanks to John Pindar and Deanne who set this whole titling thing in motion. And to my collaborator and all-round cool dude, Richard over at CK Ponderings, who is using classic Dr. Who serials as titles for his work – check them out now.

I also highly recommend you visit Theodora Brack’s blog, People, Places and Bling, Cheryl Moore’s Unbound Boxes Limping Gods, Stevie Gill’s Killing Time With A Camera and J.E. Lattimer’s Arcane Arrangements. There’s a cool collaboration with J.E. two posts ago…and another thank you to Cathryn Stone, whose White Sun Dark Moon has been a soundtrack to quite a lot of these recent shots.

Millenium People (Naikari), 2012

I was immediately drawn to Naikari, because of her great clothes, and her cool sunglasses. She very generously agreed to a photograph. Thanks for posing for this Naikari! Tennis racket is model’s own.

Millenium People was J.G. Ballard’s penultimate novel. It was published in 2003. If you’re interested in learning a little more about J.G. Ballard, Bill Chance has written a great review of The Collected Short Stories here.

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For the next couple of days I’m  naming my posts and photographs after Science Fiction novels.

A big thank you to John Pindar and Deanne who set this whole titling thing in motion. And to my collaborator and all-round cool dude, Richard over at CK Ponderings who is naming his posts after Dr. Who serials.

I also highly recommend Theodora Brack’s blog, People, Places and Bling, Cheryl Moore’s Unbound Boxes Limping Gods, Stevie Gill’s Killing Time With A Camera and J.E. Lattimer’s Arcane Arrangements. There’s a cool collaboration with J.E. a few posts back…