Monday, July 26, 2010

The Alternative Hero by Tim Thornton

This book represents the best 30p (plus postage) that I've spent in some time. I ordered a second-hand copy of 'The alternative hero' by Tim Thornton from amazon after reading a positive review of his second novel 'The death of an unsigned band' in the word magazine.

Thornton has played in several indie bands over the years allowing him to create realistic sketches of the music scene. 'The alternative hero' is similar to Nick Hornby's 'High fidelity'. Both books shine a cruel spotlight on obsessive music fans; men who are basically losers. While I can happily say that I'm not a loser I am obviously a bit of a geek and I own way too many obscure records.

The main character in 'the alternative hero' is Clive, a failed music writer with a dead end job and no girlfriend. One day Clive bumps into Lance, his musical hero. From that point on the story develops into some sort of twisted fucked up love story. It's actually funny, recognisable and entertaining. Well worth 30p. I'm gonna check out Thorntons new book.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday

Planetary was a 27 issue comic book series by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday. It tells the story of Elijah Snow, a superhuman recruited to the mysterious Planetary organisation. The Planetary organisation are 'archaeologists of the unknown'. The 3 person Planetary team travel around the world to investigate unusual happenings.

Planetary is a great comic book. Warren Ellis is an excellent writer and John Cassaday produces wonderful cinematic art. Ellis has the Planetary team investigate various fantastical and supernatural incidents often involving literary characters like Sherlock Holmes or disguised versions of characters that are still under copyright. Ellis tops this off with scientific sounding jargon and strange theories about time travel. This is brilliant science fiction.

The entire series is available in two hardback Absolute volumes and four paperback volumes. Read it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inception - film review

Just been to see this. Really not sure what happened in it.

Inception is the newest film by Christopher Nolan of Batman and Memento film. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as an expert on stealing information from dreams. He is given a new job and then things get strange.

The film looks great but I'm still trying to work out what happened.

Feel free to leave a comment and explain it if you can.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Passage by Justin Cronin

I picked up The Passage after reading a positive review in SFX magazine. I wanted to read something light while I was on holiday. While this is a rather thick book it is an easy read and it's fairly entertaining.

The Passage reminds me of the Stephen King books that I used to read when I was kid. I guess that the book is structurally and thematically very similar to The Stand as it combines supernatural elements with a post-apocalyptic setting. This is not some work of high literature but it is adequate as a holiday read.

The story revolves around an army experiment to create 'super soldiers' using a virus that promotes rapid healing. As you would expect this virus has the unfortunate side effect of creating a race of vampires who promptly kill 90% of the population of America. However a small girl who is also a victim of the experiments may be able to save mankind.

This book is the first part of a trilogy and film rights have already beem sold. I intend to read the next book in due course.

Monday, July 12, 2010

James Le Fanu - how the mighty have fallen

So, after being disappointed by 'why us?', a book that I took to be essentially hocus-pocus I learn that James Le Fanu has been supporting homeopathy.

I really loved 'the rise and fall of modern medicine' but I guess I just have to accept that he got lucky and generally he's a bit 'mystical'.


Why us? by James Le Fanu

I was very disappointed by this book having enjoyed 'The rise and fall of modern medicine', the last book by James Le Fanu. In this book Le Fanu examines evolution, the human genome and consciousness. Sadly, he seems to bring an unwritten agenda to the book. In most scientific journals writers are expected to declare conflicts of interest that should be taken into account when reading an article. Le Fanu does not do this and I think that he should have.

Initially Le Fanu describes some of the things that we do not know. He highlights flaws in the theory of evolution, weaknesses in our understanding of the human genome and how little we know about the processes of the brain. He also describes the unpleasant uses of evolutionary theory to justify eugenics and racism.

Le Fanu comes across as a rather arrogant figure. In his eyes man is perfect and should be on a pedestal above the rest of the world. Le Fanu does not seem to believe that a scientific explanation for humanity will ever be found and so a mystical explanation is more likely. I disagree with his conclusions.

Borrow this book from a library if you want but try not to pay for it. I am unconvinced. I think science will eventually explain most things although I accept that this may not happen in my lifetime. I do not think that man should be back on a pedestal and I do not need the crutch of a ghost in the machine to cover up the gaps in our understanding of the world.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Behold the man by Michael Moorcock

Behold the man is a 1969 novella by Michael Moorcock. It's only about 130 pages long and you can read it in a couple of hours. It won a science fiction award once. I bought it for 2 quid from amazon.

I picked the book up because it got a good review in a recent issue of SFX magazine. The plot is about a British time-traveller who journeys back in time to meet Jesus in 29AD. I pretty much guessed exactly what would happen as soon as I read a summary of the plot.

It's an easy read although the book is clearly a product of the 1960's . None of the twists in the book are exactly mindblowing but it's worth a read. If Christians were in any way irritable this book would have provoked a Salman Rushdie style fatwah on Moorcock. Thankfully most Christians don't really care.

Worth a read.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Funny people - DVD

I watched Funny People this afternoon with a massive post-stag night hangover so I was barely qualifying as a sentient life form. I decided to watch Funny People in the hope that it would elevate my alcohol impaired mood.

It didn't quite work. While some of the cast are Funny People (Seth Rogan and Adam Sandler both make me laugh) there are some serious elements to the film. The plot revolves around a famous comedian who is diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a severe form of blood cancer. He has no real friends or personal relationships so he employs a younger comedian as a personal assistant. Basically he's a bit of an arse.

Stuff happens in the film and not all of it is happy. It was OK but probably better to watch without a hangover or a stagnight related guilt complex.