Sunday, 25 September 2011

Rocktober 2011

Wow is it already a year since our triumphant triumvirate of our Camden show with Ginkinta and Monsters in the Attic, our Shazam session, and our blood, beer and flames glory in Nottingham with Ulterior?

This October might not be quite so adrenalised, but we are playing in central London on Wednesday October 5th at The Comedy courtesy of Dead or Alive Promotions. We're aiming to record the gig so if it comes out okay and we don't have any massive disasters I'll put some stuff up for download soon. There's a Facebook event here.

It's been quiet here recently as I've been over in Sydney and R-man has been realising his dream of adventure on the high seas by borrowing a narrowboat. I tend to check in on Twitter when possible so do come and say hello to us there.

See you on the 5th!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The City, The City, The High Castle and Rufus T Firefly

As threatened following R-Man's extensive coverage of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World by Francis Wheen last week, here are the last 3 books I've read, all of which I'd recommend to you:

The City & The City by China Mieville
I read a brief synopsis of this at the British Library's Science Fiction exhibit this summer, and having also heard rave reviews of Mieville's Kraken (now sitting on my "to read" pile). This is a essentially a great slice of noir with a novel (pun intended) spin: it's set in two cities which occupy the same geographical space, but whose citizens must ignore (or "unsee") their topographic neighbours. The punishment for acknowledging, let alone breaching the border between the cities is to be at the mercy of an unseen force that strikes terror into the populace. If that's not enough of an intriguing concept to draw you in I don't know what is. I loved it and can't wait to see what ideas Mieville has come up with in his other work.

Hello, I Must Be Going: Groucho and His Friends by Charlotte Chandler
Long time followers of the blog will know I'm a big Marx Brothers fan. Since my Dad sat us down in front of a video of Duck Soup as a child I've been sold. Over the years I've read various books about the brothers, including both Groucho and Harpo's autobiographies. Whereas they tend to focus on the early years (well, the first 50 or so years of their lives, through vaudeville and the classic movies), this book finds the author living with Groucho during the 1970s, in his 80's. It's a fascinating view of a super-celebrity coming to terms with old age whilst still entertaining, and often outwitting, an eclectic circle of celebrities, artists and performers including then-young bucks Bill Cosby and Jack Nicholson. As well as a fascinating biography, this book, by the very nature of its subject, reduced me to mirth constantly. It also taught me a thing or two about how to live and age, and saddened me that some great stories are now lost forever; on several occasions it's mentioned how Chico lived the most interesting and unbelievable life, but never committed it to paper. Interestingly it's also noted by several that the funniest brother in real life was Zeppo. All these moments lost in time like tears in rain...

The Man In The High Castle by Philip K Dick
A Scanner Darkly, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report. Philip K Dick has made an indelible impression on science fiction both written on screen. Amongst the many of his works which haven't [yet] been put on film, possibly the most lauded is this one. I read a great piece by Dick once in which he defined science fiction, as opposed to fantasy, as being set in a world like our own but with one significant difference, and exploring the consequences of that difference. The premise of The Man In The High Castle is a simple one: the Nazis won World War 2. Dick explores the social and political ramifications of such a world, whilst also finding time to pit western and eastern philosophy against each other and trick you into thinking you're not reading science fiction at all...

If anyone wants to swap me for a recommendation of your own, drop us a line!