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Jigs and reels…

I’m currently dipping into Joanne Harris’ first short story collection, Jigs & Reels, and it’s a real surprise. I’ve only been familiar with Harris as the author of what look like “literary” novels for middle-aged women’s book clubs, like Chocolat and Blackberry Wine, but Harris seems to have a real affection for genre fiction, namechecking a number of sf writers in her intro. The story I read last night, “Waiting for Gandalf”, is an interestingly disturbing piece about a group of role playing gamers who’ve been in the same RPG for 30 years, and who bring in temporary members each week. I’m not sure if it’s fantasy or horror, or just weird mainstream stuff. It doesn’t really matter though. This book is worth checking out.

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I know I make connections that no-one else ever gets – I’ll say something is like something else and I just get these weird blank looks – but am I the only person to ever think that the music of Stephen Morrissey is a lot like the music of Stephin Merritt? I mention this after checking out You are the Quarry and i.

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And an open mind…

…compels me to immediately add that the Birmingham novel DOES pick up. I still think the opening 100 pages contain a lot of Tom Clancy-style hooey (for reference, I thought The Hunt for Red October was unutterably boring), but it then begins to get quite interesting and Birmingham really handles his characters a lot better and exploit some of the ideas the situation opens up for him. Have to see how the last chunk of the book goes, and then will blog more on it.

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Pushing on into the past…
Some of you may recall that I posted a link to Paul Di Filippo’s review of John Birmingham’s new novel, Weapons of Choice. It’s one of several good reviews I’ve seen, and it was enough to persuade me – restricted to my sick bed – to check it out. Sigh. I’ve got to say the first 100 pages are about as dumb a pile of hoo-ha as I’ve seen in a long time. Why? Well, it’s basically The Philadelphia Experiment, with a few new whizzbang terms thrown in to update it, and so far it hasn’t gone beyond the obvious. We’ve had the “Gosh, look at my neat technology” bit, following by the endless military conflict bit (confused people running up and down confused corridors doing confused things, all of which end horribly), and I’ve now reached the part where the folk from the future get to say “Gosh, we’re from the future”, the folk from the past say “No!”, the folk from the future say “Yes!”, and am awaiting the moment where the folk from the past say “Wow!”. I’m hoping that Birmingham can add enough of sufficient interest in the next 300 pages to overcome what I’ve seen so far. At this stage, my recommendation would be that this one’s only for people who want to see how Tom Clancy would have done The Philadelphia Experiment – but, we’ll see. Keeping an open mind, and all that. Sniff. Cough.

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Hmm. So whassup? Well, the ‘flu has come to visit again, which has pretty much wiped me out for the past couple days. It’s also been Jessica’s 4th birthday, so we had a little family thing with cake and presents here yesterday, and will be having a party at her grandmother’s house tomorrow. All of which is nice. On the other hand, the reading’s stacking up (as always), and Jessica has decided she can’t sleep in her new bed. Now, you need to understand, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with the bed – it’s just that she doesn’t want to be in it. Sometimes for hours. Argh.

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