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.
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.”
‘Only the mockingbird sings at the edge of the woods.’
Did you watch the recent Netflix series about a brilliant female chess player: The Queen’s Gambit? I watched it and really enjoyed it. It is based on the book of the same name by the American author Walter Tevis. I’d never heard of Tevis before the series, but I did know the title of his most famous science fiction story: The Man Who Fell to Earth (1963). I’ve seen the film starring David Bowie but I haven’t read the book. After reading Tevis’s novel Mockingbird (1980), I now want to read all of his books including The Hustler (1959) and The Color of Money (1984)–made famous by the Paul Newman-starring movies.
Mockingbird is a powerful novel of a future world where humans are dying. Those that survive spend their days in a narcotic bliss or choose a quick suicide rather than slow extinction. Humanity’s salvation rests with an android who has no desire to live, and a man and a woman who must discover love, hope, and dreams of a world reborn.
‘The flesh surrenders itself, he thought. Eternity takes back its own. Our bodies stirred these waters briefly, danced with a certain intoxication before the love of life and self, dealt with a few strange ideas, then submitted to the instruments of Time. What can we say of this? I occurred. I am not . . . yet, I occurred.’
I recently read and reviewed Frank Herbert’s Dune. It was my second time to read it and the reread confirmed my opinion that Dune is a masterpiece. I believe it can stand on its own as a single story, a one-and-done work of incredible imagination. But like most readers of Dune, I wanted more. Imagine trying to write a sequel to such a book. How do you follow up a story like Dune? Where do you go next?
‘I calm down. I do not know where I am, but I am not afraid of being lost. I am a finder, and the most basic skill of a finder is getting home.’
Tade Thompson’s Rosewater is the first book in his Wormwood Trilogy. It is set in near-future Nigeria where an alien biodome has appeared. The aliens remain a mystery but once a year the biodome opens. When this happens, some kind of energy is released which is rumoured to contain healing properties. People come from far and wide to visit the biodome hoping they will experience some of its benefits. Rosewater is the name of the town which has slowly formed around the biodome.
Our guide to Rosewater is Kaaro. At the beginning of the story he is working for a bank. It is quickly revealed that Kaaro is gifted with extra-sensory abilities. He is labeled “a sensitive” and can read people to such an extent that he is able to find things they are hiding. Intrigued yet? To say more would be to reveal too much of the story so I will end my brief summary here. Continue reading →