The SF Site: SF Masterworks Reviews Archive

The SF Site: SF Masterworks Reviews Archive

I seem to have bought all of these books. :S Yet currently missing are I Am Legend, The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Stand On Zanzibar, Star Maker, Flowers For Algernon, The First Men in the Moon, VALIS, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said and The Dancers at the End of Time, A Canticle For Leibowitz and a couple of others I couldn’t care less about. I wouldn’t mind except that these are, without exception, excellent so I must have leant them to peeps. I’ve got a spare copy of J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, if anyone wants it, particularly in exchange for a hostage novel? Also: Walter Miller Jr has just published his sequel to a Canticle for Leibowitz (Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman) and then he died; has anyone read this, or am I the only living person who cares?


Busy weeks, so no post for quite a while. Will rectify over the next couple of weeks of holiday I’m sure. What I have achieved in the last few weeks:

Turned an elderly fellow’s racist rant about immigrants stealing our money/jobs/pies into a rant directed entirely at the French and disabled people. (He also claimed that they were getting rid of the Routemaster buses, not because they were inefficient, small and polluting but for the equally valid reason that they had no disabled access and couldn’t be modified. My response was that we should modify the disabled people, which he agreed enthusiastically with.)

Persuaded my friends to change their names temporarily to various Russian hero names. (There was a fascinating trend in the Post-revolutionary USSR to name your children after acronyms of patriotic events, such as Vilen (V. I. Lenin). I am now Lorijerik (????????)which means ” Lenin, October Revolution, industrialisation, electrification, radiofication and communism” Who says communism is dead?

Saw basketball for the first time in Guildford. Weird game, everyone looks normal-sized until you chat to them and get a crick in your neck. Also, as always, it went to a ridiculous tie-breaker and one team lost by a hair’s breadth. Crazy game, odd entertainment in the innumerable intervals, but not actually that interesting. Ho-hum.

I’ve taken up Squash! By which I mean, I’ve bought a racket and played twice and now hurt all over. Hurrah!

Played various games. Shadow of the Colossus is one where you (a small horse-riding boy) have to fight tower-block sized giants (like basketballers) by climbing up them and stabbing them in the vitals. It’s like a puzzle where the level is a moving landscape and you have to reach a certain point. Absolutely awe-inspiring, but eventually repetitive. I’ve also been playing Star Wars: Empire at War, a good solid RTS from Activision involving space and land combat. It feels like Medieval Total War (the dual level, resource-gathering element) and Command & Conquer (2D RTS planet-battles on fixed-path maps), but with Star Wars hero characters. I’ve played the overly-cutesy village-sim Animal Crossing (pictured) excessively with friends, but got fairly bored fairly quickly; limiting your level of social interaction but adding little rarely makes for a good game. I tried playing the vehicular MMO Auto Assault, but couldn’t get even on the server.

The best of the lot though, I only got to play for a day. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a small world where you can wander the wilds, make your own adventures and so on. There’s more to do in it than I can possibly convey in a couple of sentences, so I’ll simply quote from my article from the mag (yes, I’m quoting myself, fol-de-rol) “The true beginning of Oblivion is when you step away from those tight training levels and out of the claustrophobic sewers at the base of Cyrodil. Your heart skips a beat. “Look”, your brain gesticulates, “that’s a big lake and on the far shore, there’s some haunting ruins, and behind them some hills and trees”, and then it gets tired, and melts a bit, and you just have to sit down and just look for fifty minutes as the day-night cycle runs and the stars go away and your face is dappled by sunlight and then a light drizzle starts and you still can’t quite cope with the openness and variety of the world, nor with the oil painting styling of it, until a wolf starts gnawing on your leg and you have to run away.”

I Dreamt Of ABombs

I Dreamt Of A-Bombs

I’m sitting in a restaurant, atop a steep hill, eating and looking down on the town when the quality of the light changes and the diners gasp. I look up to see a mushroom cloud rising up over the hills, obscuring the sunset, spreading above the horizon. I/we feel horror and a quiet confused terror, not knowing if this, a backwater town, is likely to be targeted. As we all watch, still, gaping, more mushrooms spread out, stalks shooting up behind the hill-line in perfect synchronicity, at too regular intervals, designed for our viewing pleasure, until the sky is a series of rising columns supporting the godly cloud, like a banyan, or Yggdrasil displaced to Jormungand’s circling place and we snakes at the world’s centre, biting our own tails in astonishment at the world’s end (having seen its beginning in Eden).

We pour out of the glass diner in a panic, some yelling, most spreading out to tell the news in the ruddy light. My dining companions and I run to an elegant red brick hotel at the bottom of the road. Going in, all is quiet and the bar staff are oblivious to our questions about the bombs; they know nothing. We sit down at a table. Whether we are tired, intending to enjoy the last peace of our lives, or simply about to order the last good meal we will ever have, I don’t know.

(A dream…I think I may be worried about Bird Flu…)

Stalag Logged IV

With a belated fug in my ears, I was rolling through Paddington a good thirty minutes late, when a drip, a mean solitary drip, crawled through the girders and deposited itself on my head. I say deposited because looking down I saw an incipient stalagmite leering up at me. On my coat was the faintest, smear of limestone (where it comes from I don’t know. Leeched from the stone, washed down from the seagull’s guano on Brunel’s arched iron roof, whatever.)

Each drip leaves only the most minute meniscus on me. How long would it take for a stalgmite to grow on me? It appears most stalagmites have less than 1mm growth every year, as this website indicates, and they’re solid. I estimate I only catch 1 second of drip a day, so I’m going to calcify at the rate of (1mm/(60x60x24x365)) which is about 3.17 x 10 to the minus 8 (assuming immortality of course.) I’ve illustrated the level of calcification I’ll suffer over the years of working in this job in the graph below.

Update: I got dripped on again today, at a different stalagmite location in the walkway. Doubling my estimations, this results in the graph below.

I’d like at this juncture to indicate that I am in no way bored. Oh, indeed, no.

World of Lifecraft

World of Lifecraft

World of Lifecraft; giving yourself experience points for everyday actions and then rewarding yourself once you level up. By my estimation, I’m already on Level 1 which let’s me eat some junk food! Hurrah for Tom!

Dammit. I’ve just reminded myself that I was playing The Elder Scrolls IV at a preview event yesterday and now I’m all twitchy to play it again. Need… RPGs…