Badges: approximation of a playlist §51

28 09 2010

Brownie Badges, mostly

Wires – Athlete
Art For Art’s Sake – 10cc
Wishing (I Had A Photograph Of You) – A Flock of Seagulls
Jesus In A Camper Van – Robbie Williams
Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You) – Chef
Circus of Death – Human League
Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft – The Carpenters
A Glass of Champagne – Sailor
Disappointed – Electronic
Let me entertain you – Robbie Williams
Firestarter – The Prodigy
Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas
Paperback writer -The Beatles
Nightswimming -REM
Hitch Hike – Marvin Gaye
Elvis Ain’t Dead -Scouting For Girls

Fencing fun

22 09 2010

The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills

From the Amazon Review:

Building high-tension fencing with a couple of rural Scots louts–what could be a more likely premise for a black comedy? An eerie noir fable told in a grim, deadpan voice, The Restraint of Beasts tells the story of an English fence-builder promoted to foreman over two under-motivated labourers. They’ve just been sent out to fix a badly done fence when events go horribly awry–and not for the last time either. For the rest of the novel, as his charges drink, loaf and pound the occasional fence-post, events go badly amiss over and over again. In a sense, that’s all you can truly rely on in Mills’s fictional world…

The team travels south to England, where they live out of a damp, cold caravan in the town of Upper Bowland. Here they soon find themselves at loggerheads with the sinister Hall brothers, whose business enterprises seem to combine fencing, butchering, sausage-making and the mysterious “school dinners”. “We committed no end of good deeds!” cries John Hall. “Yet still we lost the school dinners! Always the authorities laying down some new requirement, one things after another! This time is seems we must provide more living space. Very well! If that’s the way they want it, we’ll go on building fences for ever if necessary! We’ll build pens and compounds and enclosures! And we’ll make sure we never lose them again!”

Written in Mills’ straightforward but thoroughly engaging style this is an extremely entertaining and at times dark tale about the most improbable of professions. A really good read and highly recommended.

In Transition

15 09 2010
Transition (novel)

Image via Wikipedia

Transition by Iain Banks

Imagine a world that is one of infinite parallel worlds, that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse. Presiding over this world is the Concern, an all-powerful organisation whose operatives possess extraordinary powers. There is Temudjin Oh, an unkillable assassin who journeys between the high passes of Nepal, a version of Victorian London and a wintry Venice; Adrian Cubbish, restlessly greedy City trader; and the Philosopher, a state-sponsored torturer who moves between the time zones with sinister ease. Transition is a high-definition, hyper-real apocalyptic fable for terrible times.

Transition hardback review at Amazon also includes interesting discussion about the fact that the book was released as an Iain M Banks one in the US but without the M in the UK. Whilst it does have an element of science fiction about it, the novel has more in common with the author’s earlier fiction. The multiple character perspectives are reminiscent (I think, but it’s been a long time) of Walking on Glass from some years ago.

Unfortunately, this does mean the reader has to work pretty hard to keep on top of the different plot lines (ok, not exactly infinite parallel plots but still a few) and feels like a bit of an ordeal at times – ultimately worth it though.

Yet another thing

7 09 2010

And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer

An Englishman’s continuing search through space and time for a decent cup of tea . . . Arthur Dent’s accidental association with that wholly remarkable book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has not been entirely without incident. Arthur has travelled the length, breadth and depth of known, and unknown, space. He has stumbled forwards and backwards through time. He has been blown up, reassembled, cruelly imprisoned, horribly released and colourfully insulted more than is strictly necessary. And, of course, he has comprehensively failed to grasp the meaning of life, the universe and everything. Arthur has, though, finally made it home to Earth. But that does not mean he has escaped his fate. For Arthur’s chances of getting his hands on a decent cuppa are evaporating along with the world’s oceans. Because no sooner has he arrived than he finds out that Earth is about to be blown up . . . again. And Another Thing . . . by Eoin Colfer is the rather unexpected, but very welcome, sixth instalment of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. It features a pantheon of unemployed gods, everyone’s favourite renegade Galactic President, a lovestruck green alien, an irritating computer and at least one very large slab of cheese

Pretty disappointing really. The Adams books were such fun. And whilst continuing the series was always going to be a real challenge, this really is pretty wide of the mark. Whilst there is some of the humour of the previous books there isn’t enough to sustain enthusiasm and the core plot is just a bit weak.

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