Friday, January 18, 2008


A couple of months ago I decided to write a little review of each book I read, mainly as something to make me write but also should anyone else on the interwebs need some half-baked, meandering drivel with a low signal to noise ratio to help them make reading choices.

But I'm afraid I must confess a heinous crime.

Sometimes I can't be bothered. I read a book and then can't think of anything particularly interesting to say. Shocking, I know. No fault of the books themselves, it has nothing to do with their quality or level of interest. It's a deep-rooted problem of my own - sometimes it's just too much bloody effort to hold an opinion on something.

Anyway, here are three short reviews of books I read recently, but could not be arsed to write anything about.

"Stories of Your Life And Others", short stories by Ted Chiang. All very clever, nicely writtten, but lacking...something for me, not sure what and I might just be being picky. Standouts were the Tower of Babylon, and the last story in the collection which was about a treatment to make it impossible for you to recognise if someone was pretty or not. It made me think about my life and our society, which is what all good science fiction should do. Well done, Mr. Chiang.

"Neverwhere", a novel by Neil Gaiman, so you already know it's good. Read it, if you like Gaiman's stuff. Apparently some people don't, but they're not to be trusted. I've yet to read something of his I didn't enjoy.

"The Vesuvius Club", by Mark Gatiss - a writer for TV (League of Gentlemen - a demented comedy programme, a Doctor Who episode or two), an actor (you might have seen him briefly in Jekyll, playing Robert Louis stevenson, and in an episode of Doctor Who), and now he's written a couple of books. The hero of these books is Lucifer Box, a flamboyant fop, dandy, gentlemen adventurer and secret agent. If you can imagine that someone boiled up "The Picture of Dorian Gray", added some minced James Bond and a hefty dollop of Sherlock Holmes, along with a sprinkling of gay sex, you'll have got the flavour of "The Vesuvius Club". Quite funny, and a good read. The subtitle of the book - "a bit of fluff" - is appropriate; don't expect a deep and meaningful discourse on Edwardian society, but you will have fun.

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