Monday, 15 December 2014

Surface Detail

(December 2014)

This is easily the longest of the Culture books, and arguably the weakest too, but we’ll come to that in due course. In the meantime I must confess that what I was planning to write about this has been unfortunately (and depressingly) overtaken by events in the real world.

Monday, 8 December 2014

It’s Me! It’s Me!

Japan is home to a very specific type of con-artist. There’s something called ‘Ore Ore’ Fraud (that ore being pronounced not as in a miner striking a seam of metallic rock, but as in an aggressively drunk Spaniard sarcastically celebrating the murder of a cow), which essentially translates as ‘It’s me, it’s me’.

The con works like this: the scamsters aggressively and persistently harangue their victims, often in their own homes, repeating the same simple message – “It’s me! It’s me!” – and through providing that information and nothing else hope that the natural credulity and weak-mindedness of their targets will act to embellish whatever details are necessary to convince them that this ‘me’ is someone who they actually know and appreciate and value. Once this cognitive sleight-of-hand has been achieved, the fraudsters then convince their marks to give them stuff that if they actually thought about it in any meaningful way at all they’d be extremely reluctant to bestow on them.

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Mirror Empire

(October 2014)

A little round-up here of the conversation Pep and I had regarding The Mirror Empire and City of Stairs, for the sake of both convenience and indulging my slightly obsessive need to stick to the format.


Monday, 1 December 2014

Just the Two of Us


Welcome back, pop pickers! After the first episode of this little here Mirror Empire vs City of Stairs dance battle went to air the phone lines opened and would you believe it, both contestants made it through the public vote! What were the odds? So join me and Pep of Two Dudes in an Attic as Round Three beckons…

Monday, 24 November 2014

Bookmark Three

Year Three in the blogosphere and, while no one yet suspects I am a dog, this was the year the realities of juggling work, study, and family really started to bite. Woof.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

(November 2014)

Now this is how you do narrative tension and an unreliable narrator. Terrifyingly fantastic.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Beasts of No Nation

(November 2014)

Fucking hell. Not an easy read, this. Harrowing, frequently appalling, and just downright distressing, but then given it’s about a child soldier press-ganged into conflict in an unnamed African country those are exactly all the things it should be.

Monday, 3 November 2014


You can imagine me reading this post whilst wearing a black polo neck if you like, or making some more topical references about an executive's sexual orientation, or hoping fanboys get all excited about how it's essentially the same thing as the last one I made but there's half a teaspoon more cinnamon this time. Look, it's an apple cake and I'm a busy man and you need to start pulling your weight around here with the gags and stuff. I can't do it all for you, y'know?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Bending Adversity

David Pilling, 2014
(October 2014)

Some fifteen years after John Dower’s near-mandatory Embracing Defeat, David Pilling brings us Bending Adversity, the next installment of the Manipulating Negativity series on The State of Japan. I’m happy to announce that I’m slated to write the final volume of the trilogy some time in 2029, to be titled Pity-Fucking Decrepitude.

Friday, 24 October 2014

East of West, Vol. 3

Jonathan Hickmam and Nick Dragotta, 2014
(October 2014)

So this is what it’s like experiencing an ongoing series at the rate at which it’s produced. It’s agonizing, isn’t it, knowing that you aren’t limited only by your own monetary and temporal resources but must conform entirely to the whims of someone else’s schedule? This is the 21st century people! I want my content here and I want it now! Bend to my fickle desires for escapist entertainment! Dance! Dance for me my pretties! God, I think the last time I consumed any sort of serialized media on an installment by installment basis dictated by the distributer was the first series of Heroes. I tried the second as well, but probably the less said about that the better.