....and sometimes watches.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Three Men in a Boat

Jerome K Jerome Wordsworth First Published:1889. This Ed: 1993 185pp

“There were four of us – George and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency

In the days before we relied on ‘The Simpsons’ or ‘Seinfield’ to show us the great truths of our age given life in comic form, there was ‘Three Men in a Boat’. It will outlast them all

I could quote some of the funny bits, but that would involve typing out the whole book and it would hard on your eyes at work to read it all. Buy it – it’s only slim, and if you thought Mr Pratchett was perfect for annoying a whole carriage full of commuters with your incessant snorting and guffawing, you ain’t seen nothing with this little beauty.

Also good on snowy Tasmanian camping trips

Time of Trial

Hester Burton Oxford University Press first Published 1963. This ed: 1973 PB215pp

“On that unlucky Monday late in the summer of 1801, Margaret Pargeter awoke to the chimes of the City churches striking six.’

This book from the condition of the lovely thick pages was read once and then put away on a dark shelf somewhere It was the winner of the 1963 Carnegie Medal, which in 2001 Terry Pratchett won for ‘The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents’. As award for children’s literature, I think ‘Time of ‘Trial’ book must represents a kinder gentler age in books for kids as even I was abit scared reading the Mr Pratchett’s scenes with those rats with their tales joined together.

Margaret lives with her naïve, scholarly father and her rebellious brother above the family bookshop in London. Her father, after a nearby tenament fire, publishes a pamphlet about the terrible conditions of the poor and this being English – land of the free – is promptly thrown in jail. The sullen brother has just run off the army and she is left without home or income. Luckily, the spunky medical student boarder is able to help, but I don’t think for a second Miss Burton forgets what a dangerous place the world has become for our heroine. She has little money, few connections or prospects and being female can hardly work. Although Mag’s is quite stoic about being sent to the country as a charity case, it also makes her very cross and sad at times, but luckily she never gives up hope and it has a very pretty ending and I cried, but once again that was probably because I was very tired at the time. (and not because I am a big sook)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rats and Gargoyles

Mary Gentle Corgi 1990 PB 510pp

“In the raucous Cathedral Square the crowd prepared to hang a pig”

This was my light reading alternative as I am currently attempting to work my way through a book on ‘time’ which has lots about neutron stars and quantum physics and which I can read for about 30mins at a time before a)my head is done in and/or b) I drift off thinking about a cool SF plot time.

I was sure that I had read this before. Had not bought it in 2nd hand shops before as I was sure I had read it. It’s the cover and that big spooky bird. Anyway, I had not read it. Not even vaguely.

A book in which adjectives far outweigh both nouns and verbs (and all those other little joining words) combined.

A world in which all those funky medieval type woodcuts with gods and demons and Egyptian headdresses and Templar style glowing eyes on pyramids hermetic magia thingies are Real. Magic is Real. Humans at the bottom of the social ladder. Aristocrats, those with big houses and the good jobs are RATS (which freak me out even when they are walking upright, cool & funky and well dressed) and above them all are the Decan. The Decan are Gods, Gods on Earth. Gods that have gotten bored and grumpy and the plot is basically trying to save the world from a God with a Death wish.

It has a bibliography at the back, which is cool and although I didn’t always understand what was going on, I did enjoy the ride.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Human Stock

Vaughan Whitlock Temple
House PB 2001 396pp

“Eight years into the third millennium, the Australian Government, increasingly alarmed by recent escalations in world conflict, had not yet conceded there was nay real ganger to itself of Darwin, - a self-sufficient, but relatively small city with a population of just over one hundred thousand.”

I read this book last Friday night, after having bought in on the last day of my local Red Shield’s ‘All books 10c’ sale. I was ripped off

I am a girl very into ‘suspension of disbelief’. I love my unicorns and space ships and time travel and true love. All I ask is a well written story and cool characters. All we ever ask Mr Whitlock, is a well written story and cool
characters!!! What we have in ‘Human Stock’ is neither, and only makes the following all the more horrible

  • An apologist prologue by the editor explaining the bizarre contention of a world ruled by women
  • An underground city would be built in which to house people to outlive the coming Armageddon
  • It would house only about 200 hundred people
  • It would be in Darwin
  • It would be called ‘Bunkertown’
  • Family groups would be split up into mens, womens and childrens dormitories
  • Couples would be split up because there were not the medical facilities in ‘Bunkertown’ to deal with births and so everyone has to be celibate whilst living in ‘Bunkertown’
  • Not one women in ‘Bunkertown’ (ie chosen to be humanities last best hope) has any kind of skill or profession or indeed personality (oh, apart from the grumpy frigid ones who later grab power)
  • Uranuium having a half life of a year means people came come out of ‘Bunkertown’ after two years
  • A new town site is chosen after a conversation with the ‘town planner’, the ‘doctor’, the ‘builder’ and the ‘waste disposal engineer’
  • Because everyone was celibate for 2 years, anarchy and selfishness run riot in the new settlement. Families break down and what with all that rape and gratuitous coupling, babies are born that put pressure on the medical supplies
  • China survived nuclear war and refugees bring cloning technology to Darwin
  • We care about any of these horrible characters or the stupid society they build.

This is all in less than the first 100 pages. It gets so much worse. There are ‘plot’ devices that boggle the imagination. Maybe it made sense somewhere. It was just so icky and so very silly. If it hadn’t already been done, I would cheerfully say ‘nuke the site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure’ and try and get on with
my life

I did not understand *and* I did not care!

ps the cover art is also truly horrible

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Foundling

Georgette Heyer 10th printing 1974 Pan Books PB 350pp

“When the young gentleman strolling through the park with his gun on his shoulder and an elderly spaniel at his heels cam within sight of the house it occurred to him that the hour must be farther advanced that her had supposed, for the sun had sunk below the great stone pile, and an autumnal mist was already creeping over the ground.”

Mmm, after having seen a thousand books by Miss Heyer and never having read one, I admit my interest was piqued by her novels being a category on the ABC’s Einstein Factor last year. However, I was mindful of the time several years ago when I was burnt badly by reading a Barbara Cartland omnibus. One ‘Duke’ book; kind of cute, two a little twee, and three…..well I remember I had to read some China Meiville to recover.

I think a single novel is a much more civilised way to approach this type of fiction. I admit Miss Heyer is cleverer and considerably more sly than Miss Cartland. Not so saccharine and maybe even alittle ‘unpredictable’. I found the habit of her characters to suddenly break into unintelligible Regency slang a little disconcerting and nobody went to the ‘Pump room’, but as this genre goes, I thought it quite sweet.

Good for train trips or those lazy days when you have enough of a cold not to go to work but are still to be able to justify not doing any housework.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Neil Gaiman Avon 1999 PB 390pp

"The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not enjoying himself"

Gaiman is such a classic storyteller. This is a true rise-of-the-hero tale - Richard the weak to Richard the Brave. Set in/under the London Underground, a strange,spooky low level horror world co-existing with ours, populated by those who have fallen through the cracks of our society - literally. Richard saves a girl with 'powers' who is seeking those who murdered her family. Extra points for Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar. And the Marquis

Why is this not a film?!

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