Friday 28 February 2014

The Player of Games

(February 2014)

The second Culture book is popularly regarded as the most straightforward. It’s certainly, disregarding the short stories, the most tightly focused plot-wise (Use of Weapons obviously does very smart things, but in terms of an individual journey from A to B this one goes for it in the most direct manner).* Jernau Morat Gurgeh accepts a mission and fulfills it, and interesting stuff happens along the way.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

The Quest

...for the perfect date cake continues. Dunno that the prunes or marmalade were really necessary, but not a bad effort when all's said and done. Might try a bit of jiggery pokery with the spices and 'other' fruit next time around, but one to keep on file I think.

Monday 24 February 2014

We Need New Names

(February 2014)

Variable quality, this one. The second half is very good. The first, however, is outstanding.

Friday 21 February 2014

Whose Bloody Valentine?

So, as something of an antidote to the last couple of weeks of ill-judged whimsy, I’m going to bang on about gender politics in Japan. Again.

Monday 17 February 2014

The Book of Apex, Vol. 4

(February 2014)

Now, this is a hefty chunk of goth right here. Demons, tattoos, crows and ravens: all the touchstones get a run out. This is the kind of book you’d meet skulking at the back of certain bars in Camden and be a bit wary about approaching at first, what with the piercings and all, but somehow end up hitting it off with before heading back to their flat for a long night of substance abuse, lyrical angst, and excellent yet terrifying sex.

Friday 14 February 2014


Today is St. Valentine’s Day, as you know. This is celebrated in Japan by teenage girls giving chocolates to their friends because they like that sort of shit, and adult women giving chocolates to their colleagues and co-workers because something something obligation something sexist antediluvian throwback stagnant society something bumblefuck something, as you also know.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Atlas of Remote Islands

(February 2014)

My decision to join twitter seems to have reaped some unexpectedly rapid and literal dividends. A short tweet dashed off in haste, largely because I’m one of those tedious people who takes far too much pleasure in cheap wordplay, and I now find myself the recipient of three hundred quid’s worth of books courtesy of Waterstones (That’s WATERSTONES, may as well make sure they get their money’s worth).

Monday 10 February 2014

A Natural History of Dragons

Marie Brennan, 2013
(February 2014)

Look at that cover. Just look at it. I usually don’t go so much for illustrated covers, being more of a design fan myself. Maybe it’s because illustrated fantasy covers tend towards the ‘swords and capes and chainmail bikinis’ aesthetic that was oh so appealing when I was 14 but just seems embarrassing now that I’ve got a job and a mortgage and, more pertinently, have actually been in the same room at the same time as a real-life naked lady.

Friday 7 February 2014

One Star

One-star reviews. They’re great. Not for the authors, obviously, but for everyone else they’re an unbridled joy being as they usually are completely unfair, ill-founded, incoherent, and irrelevant. I don’t generally like panning books here (though that’s not wholly true; I just don’t like reading books which are likely to deserve a panning), but sometimes there can be something quite cathartic about just letting loose whatever ill-formed brain-vomit is frothing about at the top of your head. So here are a few one-star reviews from Amazon, some of which are genuine, and some I’ve fabricated myself.

Look, it’s either this or bang on again about the continued shit-fountain that is the NHK board of governors*, and I don’t think my will to live can survive much more of that unscathed.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Rice Soup, Rice Stew, Rice Salad…

I’m not always entirely well disposed to the Japanese tendency to utilize rice for just about every culinary situation you could think of, as well as a good number you can’t. I get the reasons for it, but it does sometimes remind me a little too much of Bubba Blue’s attitude towards shrimp.

Monday 3 February 2014

The Boys Vol. 11 and 12

Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, 2012
(January 2014)

And so it ends. With a bang and an explosion and an almighty clusterfuck and a coda that feels almost entirely unnecessary.