August 10th, 2005

earthsea

August Books 5) The World Inside

5) The World Inside, by Robert Silverberg

I first read this as a hormonal teenager and was deeply impressed by Silverberg's portrayal of a future society where most of the world's population lives in apartment blocks which are three kilometres high and, more importanlty, everyone is not just allowed but encouraged to have sex with everyone else, written up in erotic detail. Now, rereading it twenty years later, I realise that it is actually a dystopia; sexual freedom comes with a total ban on contraception, and instant capital punishment without trial for marital disagrements. It is a deeply repressive society whose rulers appear cynical. Naturally, the viewpoint characters all have serious doubts about fitting in; one ends up brainwashed into submission; another is executed, a third commits suicide. There is a society outside the tower blocks, cultivating the fields for the vast amount of food needed for a global population of 75 billion, but it is equally defective. As the title makes clear, this is not so much a novel about overpopulation or about sex as about personal frustration with society. Very interesting.
earthsea

August Books 6) Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron

6) Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron, by Daniel Clowes

I've enjoyed Daniel Clowes' other work, and heard good things about this, so snapped it up from the dealers' room in Worldcon. I'm afraid I was very disappointed; it seemed to me completely disjointed and rambling, and to be honest not even that well drawn. The moment with Tina's fish eggs was memorable, though.
earthsea

August Books 7) A Very British Genre

7) A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction, by peake

A nice short book, ten years old now, looking at the history of sf in Britain, though the title is contradicted by the first sentence, "Science Fiction is not a distinctly British genre." I found this useful as a contextualisation of a lot of the stuff I've already read and as a pointer for other writers I might enjoy -indeed, am surprised by the large number of writers singled out as significant who I haven't yet tried. Paul makes a lot of sweeping statements (Wells "perhaps the single most important writer in the history of science fiction", Aldiss "probably the most literarily varied and inventive writer since Wells") which I struggled with for a moment or two before deciding that I actually agree with him. One or two omissions - Dan Dare gets a mention, but no other comics, and I'd have thought 2000AD (and the Dave Gibbons Doctor Who strips) are significant in this. Also because of the concentration on the UK, Flann O'Brien is left out, but ianmcdonald is in. And when one chapter began with the deaths of Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis on the same day as John F. Kennedy, I was hoping that it might end with a reference to another significant event in the history of British sf the following day; but it didn't. Still, you can't really complain; 41 pages of text, and (particularly appreciated) a comprehensive reading list and index at the back.
doctor who

The Doctor Dances

Well, this was really really good. My only complaint is Collapse )

So, going back to the earlier discussion about next year's Hugos, I think I'll be nominating the two parter of The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), and Dalek for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), if that is allowed in the rules.

(Sorry folks, I'm not a huge fan of Father's Day, which had its good lines but really not an impressive plot. But if it gets nominated, I'll vote for it!)