David Stevens

Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Priest’

We live in a narrative of someone else’s construction

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm

The bus arrived at my stop last evening, and I ended reading ‘The Adjacent’ by Christopher Priest at “He learned to dance, to recite, to work marionettes…”. This morning, flicking through The Guardian, I read in the obituaries “My friend Frank Mumford … had a career as a marionette master spanning eight decades”. Then unprompted my son walked into the room and quoted a line from ‘Being John Malkovich’.

I suppose I should say hello back to the Universe.

Speaking of The Guardian, I was pleased to read of a resurgence of interest in the works of RA Lafferty in his centenary year, a writer of strange things with bizarre characters introduced with little or no rational explanation. Most importantly, he did not publish a story until he was 45 nor a novel until he was 54 (though he then published four in just two years), irrationally giving some of us undeserved hope. Lafferty gave me many what the…? moments, and often in my life, that was all I was looking for.

Strictly speaking, I think nostalgia would be the wrong word. I have become interested in things of my youth, but not things I was very interested in during my youth. Perhaps it is just a broadening of tastes or interests that happens to coincide with, but is not necessarily restricted to, that time. Oh, listen to him crap on! Thus:

‘Tell my wife I love her very much.’
‘She knows.’

Bowie, you poet. Is ground control reassuring Major Tom, or is his request getting in the way of business, resulting in a brusque dismissal?

‘And I think my spaceship knows which way to go.’ Major Tom, are you expressing a hope, or a lack of interest?

‘And there’s nothing I can do.’
Major Tom has achieved an acceptance that may always be beyond ground “control”. But of course, from their position, they are unable to experience the blueness of planet earth, despite the apparent power under their “control”.

‘Can you hear me, Major Tom?’
More than that, Major Tom listens to you. You’re just not saying anything. Ground control, do you listen, or do you spend your time while you are not speaking, preparing what you will say next? Hmm?

‘Space Oddity’ and ‘Suffragette City’ (She’s a total blam blam) on high rotation here.






Reading …

In Uncategorized on June 29, 2014 at 6:43 pm

I once had many blogs, and one that I really wanted to do concentrated on my best and worst reading experiences. I think I managed 3 entries. The final post dealt with the first volume of a steam punk alternative universe trilogy, which I did not like, especially the way it dealt with the grandfather paradox, as though no one had thought of it before, and I expressed myself very clearly. I then found out that the writer read it, and I was mortified. I discovered (no, learned anew) that I am a moral coward, and I felt bad that I may have hurt his feelings. I agree that shows I have no place being alive, or that I need to develop a thicker skin before reviewing any more books.

However, why should that stop me mentioning some fun things I have read? I confess, the tag line used on Ken MacLeod’s ‘The Execution Channel’ dragged me in some years ago: “The war on terror is over. Terror won”. I am always up for a bit of near future dystopian nastiness, and I have some fondness for MacLeod’s red rag (or red flag) waving. The best part for me was the “Oh bullshit!” moment I had at page 358 of the Orbit edition – woo hoo, I didn’t see it coming. I won’t spoil anything, just let me know when you get to that page. Now, that was some time back. I started his ‘Intrusion’, but it was packed away with most of my other books when I went into exile. All this is just to lead into that I picked up ‘The Restoration Game’ cheaply at a local book store, and again enjoyed the red whatever waving and the machinations involved in post Soviet regimes. Best of all was the anomaly that appears on page 276. Again, let me know when you get to that page, I wouldn’t want to spoil anything (did I mention that I am the world’s worst book reviewer? I mean, if I was any good, I wouldn’t be talking about books from 2010).

The 2014 edition of Michael Kelly’s ‘Shadows and Tall Trees’ was delivered by The Book Depository official (aka The Postman) this week, a lovely looking and feeling paperback anthology. Not being a proper reviewer, I do not have to wait until I finish it to say nothing very much at all. For a change I thought I would read the stories in the order in which they are presented, I must be growing more conservative in my old age. I was tricked by the title of Eric Shaller’s ‘To Assume the Writer’s Crown: Notes on the Craft’ for a moment or two, into thinking I was reading an essay. It is a sly thing with a punch which brought an uneasy smile to my face at its cleverness and nastiness. Just started (and enjoying) the second piece, ‘Onanon’ by Michael Wehunt, notwithstanding that it is a story about a writer, which always worries me a little.

In a similar vein to this anthology, I note that Faber is releasing new paperback editions of Robert Aickman’s stories, at a more reasonable price than has been available until now, and I enjoyed the 50 year old collection ‘Dark Entries’ recently.

Waiting patiently for me are ‘The Year of the Ladybird’ by Graham Joyce, ‘The Adjacent’ by Christopher Priest, and ‘The Ninth Configuration’ by William Peter Blatty, enough to keep me going for a while.

There, you really needed to know all of that, didn’t you?

(If you want to read something good, then read ‘Feral’ by George Monbiot. I really enjoyed it. It moved me. It fascinated me. How is that for a review, folks?)

And just to prove I never waste my time nor my money …

Toil is stupid

A spud’s work is never done.