Friday, June 04, 2004

As always, I'm years behind on my reading. When new SF writers come along, I'm lucky even to hear of them until everyone else has read several books by them or they've won major awards. A case in point is China Mieville. A big name these days, apparently, but I'm just now reading King Rat, published back in 1996. I'm glad I finally caught up with it, though. I'm a sucker for books set in the sewers of London (or anywhere else), adn this one has some great sewer stuff. Grunge is the word, and there are some scenes that might turn the stomachs of people who are easily disgusted with improper eating habits. I think this book would qualify as "urban fantasy," and its basis in the Pied Piper story is fun. Lots of rats and spiders and birds, not to mention a number of gruesome murders. There's just one nagging question, but I won't say what it is and spoil things for anybody who might want to read the book. I hear that Mieville's other novels are much longer and more complex than this one, but I might have to try one of them, much as I hate long books.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I picked up a copy of Donald Wollheim's anthology The Macabre Reader on eBay the other day because I remembered having read it as a kid and liking most of the stories in it. Last night I reread "The Cairn on the Headland" by Robert E. Howard. I still enjoyed the story, but what surprised me most was the fact that practically nothing at all happens in the story. There's not much of a plot, and it's pretty easy to see from the beginning just exactly how things are going to work out. (I probably didn't find it that easy when I first read the story more than 40 years ago, however.) Howard's writing is what carries the story, and it's still as full of energy as ever, at least for me. The Howard story that really knocked me out all those years ago was one called "Valley of the Worm," or something like that. I should look around for it and see if it still works for me.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Judy and I went to see The Day After Tomorrow yesterday. The theater was pretty crowded for a Tuesday afternoon, so I guess the movie's a hit. I was reminded all the way through not of the disaster movies like The Towering Inferno or Earthquake but of the old B&W SF movies of the 1950s. In those movies it was always The Bomb (or some variation thereof) that was wreaking havoc with nature, and all the familiar tropes are present in The Day After Tomorrow: the good-looking lead scientist, the diagrams, the pseudo-scientific explanations for what's happening, the guy you know is gonna die (sacrificing himself for the others, of course), the doubting Thomas who's finally converted when he sees the giant grasshoppers -- I mean when he sees the horrible results of the massive storms -- and all the rest. What's not to like? And the special effects were fun, too.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

All reet! All reet!

Last night I reread, for the umpteenth time, Alfred Bester's "Fondly Fahrenheit," and it was just as fresh as it was when I read it for the first time in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION nearly 50 years ago. It's the story of a man and his android, one of whom is psychotic. It's gruesome and funny and stylistically inventive. Bester was writing "new wave" SF before anybody even knew there was such a thing. A classic.

So jeet your seat!

Monday, May 31, 2004

So we went to see Troy the other day. I wanted to see The Day After Tomorrow, but that one was sold out. Judy refuses to go to an early movie, so we have to compete with the crowds. Luckily, Troy was just starting, so I bought tickets for that. Having taught the source material for the movie for thirty years or so, I was naturally a little taken aback by some of the changes the movie-makers made, but I wasn't surprised by them. I thought Orlando Bloom was a bit wimpy as Paris, and while he made a great blonde elf bowman in the LOTR movies, I wasn't impressed with his arrow-shooting scene in Troy. Whenever he and Helen were onscreen, I thought I'd stumbled into a movie called Troy 90210.