October 2011 Archives

October 31, 2011

The Fuller Memorandum - Charles Stross

I read The Fuller Memorandum (book 3 in Charles Stross's Laundry series) back in July and then promptly forgot to blog a review as I went immediately on holiday. So here's some thoughts, finally, although somewhat diluted (including in length) by the passing of time.

The core idea of the Laundry series is quite cool, magic is just applied advanced mathematics, the government has a secret occult agency, technology can be used for occult measures. This idea was explored fairly comprehensively in the first novel of the series, The Attrocity Archives, which I enjoyed. The second novel and this one, the third, is more of the same. 

I was optimistic at the start, it's an easy fun read and there was hope that it would go somewhere different, but despite the inclusion of zombies and a quite nice climactic battle, I was left feeling that I'd read it all before. Plus, the inclusion of an iPhone as a tool for occult magic, I'm afraid, just annoyed me.

If you're a fan of the Laundry novels I'm sure you'll enjoy it, but to me it just felt redundant.

October 30, 2011

Science Fiction Bollywood style, Ra.One

Inspired by the very first Indian Formula One Grand Prix today, and seeing Shahrukh Khan interviewed I thought I'd check out the trailers to see how Bollywood does Science Fiction. Like this...

Also check out the clever YouTube page for Ra One.

Presumably this will be the Science Fiction film seen my the most people this year?

October 18, 2011

It Must Be Halloween Soon... Here Come The Zombie T-Shirts!

October 4, 2011

Reamde - Neal Stephenson

"Neal Stephenson's most accessible novel yet," said the publisher blurb about Reamde. By this they mean:

  1. It's not Science Fiction
  2. They haven't read Zodiac
  3. It's got enough plot for a trilogy of thrillers

It begins like other Stephenson novels, slightly slowly, meandering somewhat, yet with that inimitable geeky style. It appears to be a contemporary novel about a MMORPG video-game but then very suddenly it all kicks off and accelerates and doesn't slow down for a long time, and then only to catch its breath before breaking into a sprint again.

If you want the quick analogy Reamde is like Neal Stephenson doing Robert Ludlum in the present. It's an action thriller and a highly entertaining one.

Like other recent Stephenson novels, it's big. 1042 pages in the hardback edition. A veritable brick. It doesn't read like it though, it's not full of tangents and discursions, it's taut and fast and populated with characters that I came to care about. Characters who have the grief piled upon them again and again, and who I was willing to succeed.

I was never the slightest bit disappointed that Reamde wasn't Science Fiction, interestingly in complete contrast to William Gibson's Zero History. Somehow Stephenson manages to capture the present without making it feel like the past, he has that nerdy understanding of culture and technology that never feels cool and removed but engaging and real.

Reamde is tremendous fun, not whimsical fun, but high octane guns and explosions fun, and probably the best value pence per minute entertainment that I have purchased in recent years.

It's not SF but it's all Neal Stephenson.

October 3, 2011

That's Not My Time Machine T-Shirt

To celebrate the end of this year's Doctor Who series, how about a Bill and Ted, Doctor Who T-Shirt mashup?