Monday, 2 May 2016

City of Stairs

(March 2016)

In which I finally get around to one of last-year-but-one’s must-read books and it is every bit as good as everyone says it is. In lieu of anything approaching a reasonable amount of time to compose my thoughts, I’ll instead remind you all of the impromptu dance contest Pep and I held a few months back, and merely state that I concur with pretty much everything my more erudite and better informed friend had to say.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Occupied City

(April 2016)

The sequel to Tokyo Year Zero, and apparently the middle volume of a planned ‘Tokyo Trilogy’, though given the continued absence of a final volume it’s probably better if we don’t hold our collective breath on that score.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Open City

(March 2016)

A deceptively quick read, for all that this is a book that could never be accused of wearing its pretensions lightly. Never mind the quality, feel the research.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

A Different City

(March 2016)

This was my first encounter with the extensive works of Tanith Lee, and was a slightly contradictory experience. There was a lot to like about the three slices of gothic horror in this slim volume, but by many of the metrics I’d usually apply when deciding if a book’s ‘good’ or not it comes up short. Of course, this also begs the question as to how reliable those metrics are.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

A Tale of Two Cities

(March 2016)

I enjoyed this immensely, and am still rather surprised by that. Nothing like a bit of overwrought Victorian melodrama to stir the blood.

Monday, 29 February 2016

No Ghosts in This City

(February 2016)

A slim and brutal volume of short stories in and about the Indian state of Assam. If, as I was, you are a little hazy on the details, Assam is in the North East of the country, in that strange island of India wedged above Bangladesh, and almost entirely sundered from the rest of the country except for a slim corridor along the Brahmaputra.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

City of Illusions

(February 2016)

So then, Le Guin. The little corner of contemporary capital-C Culture I tend to most often inhabit might, for want of a better phrase, be designated as ‘Progressive Speculative Fiction’. A clumsy label, but you get the general idea. And within this niche the closest thing going to an unimpeachable godhead, a figure held in universal awe and reverence, is Ursula K. Le Guin.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Invisible Cities

(February 2016)

I’m just going to park this here, as another of the foundation texts for this month’s reading. Not going to do much more than that as, to be honest, I’m completely incapable of saying anything intelligent about it within the timeframe I’ve given myself. (Also, bronchitis). Let’s just say that, taking the project as a whole, I don’t think that will be a problem, so I’m just going to leave a space here for a link to the eventual summary where I’m clearly going to tie it all up nicely and we’ll all be able to bask in my powers of for-, and indeed in-, sight.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

(February 2016)

We’re going to kick off Arbitrary Theme Month with a couple of foundation texts, the cover blurb of the first of which informs us that it is “perhaps the single most influential work in the history of town planning.” Now, I realize that on first reading this sounds a little like being the most famous Belgian, but that in itself is a measure of how little thought we (still) seem to give one of the most important fields of human organization.