I first came across China Miéville last year, during a sci-fi binge that I had hoped would bring me up to date with the genre. Despite enjoying science fiction, my sample of it was rather antiquated – Shelley, Verne, Wells – being mostly from Literature classes.
Some cursory research (Top 100s and the like) led me to The City & The City (2009), an immensely rewarding fusion of science fiction and crime noir by Miéville. The concept is elegant: a city inhabits the exact same geographical space as another entirely foreign city, with denizens of both forced to ignore, avoid and “unsee” the existence of the other. The penalty of interacting, or even noticing, the opposite plane is named Breach and is swiftly and ruthlessly dealt with by an ethereal force of the same name.
It’s ruddy ace, it is. The plot follows a detective as he investigates a murder that appears to have involved some form of Breach from the neighbouring city, but a conspiracy is afoot and dark forces attempt to pervert the course of justice. Read it. It’s brilliant.
All this rushing, all the flights and buses and boats to get to Koh Phangan, we were rushing to get there for New Year’s Eve.
I thought it was going to be all trance and tripped out twats, throwing shapes at the moon and dribbling on about cosmic energy. I thought it would feature teenagers rampantly forcing themselves upon each other under a deluge of alcohol and mushrooms. I’d been told about buckets – they hardly sounded appealing.
At last! After a gruelling 40-hour, spine-bending journey, we have arrived in Koh Phangan. Leaving Dorset on the 28th, we travelled by train, tube, plane, tram, tuk-tuk, truck and ferry, to arrive early morning on the 30th.
Apart from a couple of sketchy connections, the voyage was unremarkable, apart from two disturbing events that bookended the trip. Continue reading Tim on arrival→
The Fall of Hyperion (1990) is the second instalment in Dan Simmons’ epic science fiction series, the Hyperion Cantos. The first, Hyperion (1989), is a glorious cacophony of ideas structured as a sci-fi Canterbury Tales-style pilgrimage, following seven men and women (and one newborn) on their Chaucerian voyage to the Time Tombs on the eponymous planet.
My exposé of the most insidious
deception in human history
By Thomas Harrison, reporter, Channel 4 News
It is with a clear conscience that I endure the world’s venomous loathing. My actions, heinous to so many of you, were made in good faith, and with pure intentions. I offer no apology for the havoc I have supposedly reaped upon our planet.
I picked up a copy of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis after John Oliver used the word “Kafkaesque” in his excellent and consistently funny social commentary show Last Week Tonight – and I realised I had no idea what it actually meant.
Oliver was using it on this occasion to describe the impenetrable bureaucracy that Afghan and Iraqi translators, working with the US army, are subject to in applying for visas to America.
However, I discovered that Metamorphosis is not about bureaucracy at all; it’s about a man dealing with an abrupt cessation of income and the subsequent loss of respect from his family. The fact he has transformed into a gigantic cockroach is dealt with such stoicism as to render it almost secondary to the tale. Continue reading Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka – [Book Review]→
Stress – its thick oppressive tentacles writhing out of the everyday to consume you like some Cthuluian nightmare.
I am experiencing levels of stress that I had not anticipated in giving up work, renting out a house and going to sit on a beach for six months. These are supposed to be stress-quelling events – No more work! Mortgage paid for! Sunshine! Mojitos!
But that’s not the case at all. I attached a countdown to the sidebar of this blog in an attempt to pump some excitement into my cranium, but the ticking clock has not become an app of anticipation, but a widget of worry. Continue reading Tim running out→
In one month’s time, my girlfriend and I are leaving our newly acquired home, quitting our jobs, throwing caution to the wind, and buggering off to south-east Asia for six months.
I’d like to say we had a “Oh, sod this for a laugh,” moment, and it was all off-the-cuff spontaneity. Two free spirits, hitherto chained to the doldrums of perpetual work, escaping in a passionate eruption of carefree liberty…