It would have been Arthur C Clark’s 100th birthday today so I read the short story Nine Billion Names Of God.
Even for someone familiar with Palahniuk, I found “Pigmy” to be a seriously fucked-up book.
Great fun though.
Yep, that was the one what scared me as a kid. Bring the vampires, werewolves and haunted cars - that was some scary shit!
The Faithful & The Fallen: Book 2: Valour
Damn, I’m really liking this fella John Gwynne’s writing. And yeah, I’d say he does deserve to be talked of as being a heir to the fantasy tales that David Gemmell did so well.
One thing that stands out for me is the fine sense of balance in the story. There are some truly brutal sequences, but Gwynne also depicts them with a sense of restraint, relying on the reader to fill in the blanks of the horrifying imagery his words have conjured. Yet, at the same time, he doesn’t take so far that the reader stops reading.
He also manages to show up the complexity that can be done within a framework of good and evil, with characters making decisions that align them to either side. At first this is at an individual level, but those choices reverberate up to the national level and then the world. Gwynne takes care to ensure character’s decisions are logical and reflective of them, while the reader can disagree point blank with those that choose to become complete shitbags.
Hell of a sequel, onto Book 3!
Ha, sounds good. I’m familiar with him, so it’ll be fun to see where Pygmy falls on his twisted scale.
That was the first Clarke story I ever read (mainly because it was the first story in the collection I had). It must be nearly 40 years since I read it, and I still recall it perfectly. Blew my mind then, and still does when I think about it now.
Rob Sheffield is a reviewer and columnist for Rolling Stone (he writes their recurring television column) who started with a very snarky and off-putting attitude, but over the years either his style has become tempered or I’ve just gotten used to it. Anyway, this year his book Dreaming the Beatles was published, and it is a great read for anyone born after 1950. Sheffield is obviously a huge fan, but that doesn’t stop him from throwing in some zingers, especially (so far) against Ringo. One example:
Over the years, the Cute One proved he was also the Smart One, the Smart One proved he could sound as cute as the Cute One, the Quiet One got mystical, and the Drummer grew a moustache.
That’s ignoring his huge contribution to the world of anthropomorphic trains.
I highly recommend this single episode of the “Screw it, we’re just gonna talk about The Beatles” podcast:
The two male panellists were fans of the book; the two ladies weren’t, and everyone learned stuff along the way.
Dune had a similar history. It was first published by a company that specialised in technical manuals, IIRC.
I just thought it was an interesting experiment. But I guess tastes can change in thirty years, and what might have been seen as great literature then might not be now.
Which is weird, because it had already been serialised (to much acclaim) in Analog magazine. I’m not sure why SF publishers weren’t jumping at the chance to get it in their stables.
1985: great literature
2017: great profitability
I’m sure Uncle Ben said that one comes with the other.
Hunt for Red October also had a weird publishing history, as I recall. My paperback comes from a publisher of something else than tech thrillers.
I am now finally reading The Sellout, by the way. It’s great.
It was originally published by US Naval Institute Press, which previously had only done factual works about naval history, biography, training, strategy and technology. Hunt for Red October was the first work of fiction they published.
I just started Pygmy today and woaaaah.
That bathroom scene is messed up. You’re right. Even for Palahniuk, it is going to be dark.
Also, the narrative voice is going to be a tricky thing to get used to. The broken English is tough to read.
The Book of Judith
Even though this apocryphal book claims its narrative took place during the Babylonian occupation of Judea, Jewish Tradition places it during the Greek occupation, and says that events inspired the rebellion against Antiochus IV, that culminated in the Channukah Miracle.