I wanted to start the New Year with a book that was funny, comforting, nostalgia-inducing and most of all entertaining. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read this book over the years. I’ve also listened to the wonderful radio play, watched both the classic BBC TV series and the less classic movie adaptation. Oh, I almost forgot, I’ve listened to a few different audiobook versions, too. Yes, I adore Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s a definite 5-Star book for me. But I also realize it isn’t for everyone.
One of Douglas Adams’ greatest ideas was to write the reassuring words DON’T PANIC on the cover of the fictional book. How many of us could use this comforting reminder on a daily basis today? I could’ve made great use of it around ten to fifteen years ago when I was tumbling down my own self-induced rabbit hole, but that’s a tale best left for a never time. *insert winking emoji here*
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I have the impression that Hitchhiker’s works best for people from the United Kingdom. This is in no way meant to upset or anger anybody, it’s my opinion simply based on the kind of humour that permeates this wonderful book. It’s a very British style of humour filled with satire, sarcasm, the absurd, as well as being very self-deprecating. I’ve heard from friends from different countries that some of them “just don’t get it” when it comes to this book and the rest of the famous “trilogy in five parts“–I don’t recognize the supposed sixth book written by Eoin Colfer, but to be fair I haven’t read it and so it might be good. It just isn’t Douglas Adams.
I am a big fan of William Gibson’s 2014 novel that this series is based on. (Here’s my REVIEW of The Peripheral from 2015.) Amazon Studio’s TV adaptation pretty much came out of nowehere for me. I found a trailer almost by accident on YouTube just a few weeks before the first two episodes dropped. It is being executive-produced by Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy and has been in development since April 2018. Chloë Grace Moretz plays main character Flynne Fisher.
There will be eight episodes in this first season, four of which have already dropped at the time of writing. The series significantly expands Gibson’s book by adding new characters and plot threads. Here is a brief synopsis:
“Flynne Fisher is a brilliant gamer who works a dead-end job to support her brother and ailing mother. When her brother enlists her help in an advanced game, Flynne sees something she shouldn’t, bringing danger to the family’s doorstep.” – imdb
Colin Laney, sensitive to patterns of information like no one else on earth, currently resides in a cardboard box in Tokyo. His body shakes with fever dreams, but his mind roams free as always, and he knows something is about to happen. Not in Tokyo; he will not see this thing himself. Something is about to happen in San Francisco.
from the synopsis
Let me begin with a caveat. I am a big fan of William Gibson’s writing and have read and enjoyed almost all of his short stoies and novels. I know his style isn’t for everyone but it really works for me. I love his ideas, his invention, the worlds he builds as well as his dialogue. How I wish I could write dialogue like Gibson.
All Tomorrow’s Parties is the third book in Gibson’s Bridge Trilogy, preceded by Virtual Light (1993) and Idoru (1996). It can be read as a standalone story even though it features a couple of characters from the other two books. This was published back in 1999 when people were all excitied about the approaching new millenium. Realizing that was 23 years ago is making me feel weird, like I somehow missed ten years or something. Do you ever get that feeling or is it only me? But I digress.
My Review of The Matrix Resurrections (2021) starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Henwick, Neil Patrick Harris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jada Pinkett Smith & more. The Video Review below is “Spoiler-Free” until 09:40.
This is an updated review of one of the first books I posted about on this blog: Inverted World by Christopher Priest. That was back in the days when my blog was called “Who’s Dreaming Who” and everything was still in black and white! (Here’s a link to that review, it’s a very short and simple early review, by the way.)
Christopher Priest is a writer you need to read, it’s as simple as that. I can recommend this book, also his 2002 novel The Separation, and the magical The Prestige (1995), made famous by Christopher Nolan’s 2006 movie.
*If you watch to the end of the video, there is a “ghost” clip of something spooky that happened while I was recording this! Enjoy:-)
Summary of My Updated Review
Helward Mann lives in a city that is “winched along tracks through a devastated land”. Upon reaching the age of 650 miles, he becomes an adult and begins working for the “Track Guild”. Their job is to tear up the track south of the city, and re-lay it in the north. Only guildsmen can leave the city and see what lies outside, and they are sworn to secrecy. Most citizens don’t even know the city is moving.
Here is a link to my rather nervous and time-laggy appearance on Robert Mayer Burnett’s YouTube show: “Midnight Metal #026“. Burnett is an American filmmaker, DVD producer, online film pundit and YouTuber. He is best known for his 1999 romantic comedy “Free Enterprise” starring Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner.
Robert Mayer Burnett is a very verbose host who has detailed knowledge of science fiction, movies, comic books, and more. He admits that the Midnight Metal show started out as a bit of fun one late Friday night. It broadcasts on Friday and Saturday nights from midnight, PST (Pacific Standard Time). I’ve been watching the show since it started and wanted to see if I could get on it for a chat. Despite technological difficulties–a short lag, plus some webcam problems–I managed to appear on the show. I don’t get to say very much, but the topics covered were pretty interesting. *(I appear from 1:36:16).
I’ve been a fan of Aliya Whiteley since I was recommended her 2014 novella “The Beauty“. That was a strange, surprising, and stunning story about a future England in which the women have all died. Poetic, creepy, intelligent, it blew my mind on first reading it. Here’s a link to my short review. So when I heard the author had a new book out, I put my other reading on hold and dived into Skyward Inn.
A star-gate has opened the way to the peaceful planet of Qita. Meeting little resistance, humans have built a small colony on the planet and are making use of its resources. Back on Earth in what used to be Devon, England, Jem runs the Skyward Inn with her Qitan companion Isley. This small pub in the “Western Protectorate” is popular with the local farmers who enjoy drinking its prized Qitan “brew”. Their idyllic quiet is upset when an unexpected visitor from Isley’s past turns up at the Inn.
“When I’m online, Aksha keeps me company. Anyone who says cats can’t go online is an idiot. Twenty years ago, people said humanity couldn’t go to Mars. Ten years ago, people solemnly swore that there was no way to connect a human mind to the network. Five years ago, people said that cats and dogs couldn’t speak.”
Xuejiao is a “Master Hacker”. She lives in a small apartment with a cat called Aksha. The cat joins Xuejiao online as backup guarding her against “government surveillance programs.” Master Hackers dive into the Net, searching for “ancient abysses” to “excavate data from and turn them into cash.” The author likens it to “spelunking” and makes it clear there are dangers involved in the process:
“Some abysses absolutely must not be tested. Hiding there are vast existences beyond our comprehension. All the jackholes who go there are drawn into a vortex of data, forever gone. They leave behind stiff bodies, lying comatose in hospital ICUs.”
I posted a review of J.G. Ballard’s short story “Chronopolis” yesterday, so I thought I would show some photos of the HUGE book I read it in. The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard (2010) was a present from my brother a few years back. I’ve only dipped into it occasionally, so I want to make an effort to read more of the stories this year. It’s also a good chance to read more Ballard–a writer whose work is reckoned to be essential reading for any fan of the science fiction genre.
This book contains 98 short stories written between 1956 and 1996. That’s one thousand one hundred and ninety-six pages! I think this will take me a few years to complete, as I’ve been advised not to read too much Ballard in quick succession. I can understand why. His writing is well-known for being “thought-provoking and unsettling,” his stories “eerie and melancholy.”