Comfort food for the soul

Seven minutes and fourty two seconds of music, unthinkingly ripped from a cd casually bought. Seven minutes and fourty two seconds of music not listened to for weeks and weeks, until it unassumingly shuffled to the front of a randomly generated queue, and then quietly, like a comfortable pair of old shoes, slipped into my psyche, seemingly to stay. Who ever thought that’d be Bob Dylan? That he’d write a song that would do that, or that he’d play such a gentle shuffle or sing it in such a quiet way? The song is ‘Spirit in the Water’ and it’s from Modern Times and is as good an argument as you could come up with why Dylan is neither over the hill nor past his prime. Comfort food for the soul, indeed.

A note on my blog

Dear blog,

The flu is back. My head is stuffed up, my throat is sore, and I am feeling altogether less than spiffy. It’s six o’clock on a Wednesday morning, and shortly I’m off to work, as usual. I feel just a little bit sorry for myself, as you can no doubt tell. Not that I have the real problems, just the runny nose ones.

Anyhow, I thought I’d tell you about this book I’m reading. I heard about it before it came out. I didn’t like the idea for it. I didn’t like the title. I didn’t even like the cover, when I saw it on I did, however, like the editor of the book. Smart chap. So, I started to read it. Not regularly, front to back, like a regular person. It’s a collection of stories, so I can pop in where I like. And, guess what? Despite all of my pre-judgements (and sadly I do pre-judge, though I try not to), it’s good. I’ve read the eighth, the eleventh and the final stories in the book, and they’re all terrific. Just goes to show you, hmm? Be damned surprised if at least one of the stories didn’t make the year’s best, though this is a good year.
Hope your day is going better. Will try to post more often.



New Space Opera reviewed

Another great review for The New Space Opera, this time from Booklist.

The New Space Opera.
Dozois, Gardner (editor) and Jonathan Strahan (editor).
June 2007. 528p. Eos, paperback, $15.95 (0-06-084675-5).
REVIEW. First published May 15, 2007 (Booklist).

The rich space opera tradition, extending from the off-world voyages of Verne and Wells to this galaxy-embracing anthology, is arguably sf’s most prolific subgenre. Veteran anthologist Dozois and coeditor Strahan present some of the newest boundary-stretching variations on the category’s many themes. Accordingly, the roster of contributors includes some of contemporary sf’s brightest innovators, such as Peter Hamilton and Robert Silverberg, as well as such rising stars as Tony Daniel and Mary Rosenblum. Ian McDonald brilliantly sketches entire future cultures and histories in “Verthandi’s Ring,” the main concern of which is millennia-old intergalactic battles. In “Hatch,” Robert Reed describes the precarious lifestyle of a small human society eking out a living on the surface of a Jupiter-sized starship. Other tales monitor species-changing scientists, an eccentric Martian arts colony, and Earth’s last traumatized survivor. In sheer breathtaking, mind-expanding scope, this collection of some of the finest tale-spinning the subgenre has to offer delivers hours of exhilarating reading.

— Carl Hays

On next year…

The SF Book Club remains on my mind. I’ve spoken to some people over the past day or two (no-one immediately connected with the Club), and read some of the reports being posted elsewhere on the net, and I’m coming round to the view that the Club isn’t going to close or be amalgamated. If that does prove to be the case, and it would be welcome, I’m guessing (and only guessing) that the Club would pretty much stop publishing its omnibuses and unique editions, and focus on simply reprinting existing trade editions. While I think that would be a pity, and make it less interesting to me, it would mean it would remain an economical option for many readers, which is an ok thing.

In the meantime, I’m thinking about working up something for this space on the Best Short Novels series. I’ve definitely NOT given up on the series, and hope to continue it in some way next year.  With that in mind, I will be talking to the Bookspan people about next year’s volume, while also looking to other options.  One thing that lovers of the BSN series might want to consider doing, in the meantime, is picking up a copy of the Prime edition this September. It’ll be in all good bookshops, so it’s a good way to support the series.

Sunday morning coming down…

It’s a little after ten o’clock on Sunday morning and I’m sitting quietly in the living room, nursing a mild hangover and listening to Neil Young. I picked up his Live at Massey Hall 1971 a while ago, and didn’t really get a chance to listen to it right away. I ripped it for the iPod, but that never means much, shuffle being what it is.  Anyhow, I listened to it through a couple times last night, and it’s extraordinary. Young sits down, solo, in a hall and plays a bunch of songs he’s just written (as most everyone would know, songs that would become Harvest), and holds the audience in the palm of his hand. I saw him play live in 1997 and I know realise that his voice was already shot, and he was half way to being the self-parody that he’s become, but for a while there he was magnificent.

Marianne and I are going to take the girls out for dim sum and maybe a quiet wander through a bookshop, which is a pleasant enough way to spend a rainy Sunday. For the moment, though, the house is surrounded by kids. We have a bunch of young ones who live next door, and they usually end up running round and round out place, chasing each other, and playing. It’s loud, but they usually enjoy it. I’m also getting ready to read a new Michael Swanwick story, which seems like a good thing to do. I do need to get ON with my reading, though. It’s not long till the year’s best has to be handed in.