Jan 09

I didn’t even know her!

Do You See + FT//1 comment • 904 views

Krister HenrikssonHaving read the late Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (a ponderous Swedish whodunit filled with frozen countrysides, casual sex and endless cups of coffee) I found that as usual I had my finger on the caffeinated, Scandinavian pulse of the zeitgeist. For what did I find on BBC Four the very night I finished it but wall-to-wall Wallander – a whole slew of shows dedicated to Henning Mankell’s enormously popular police procedural novels.

To my great enjoyment, these included a couple of Swedish TV movies – with subtitles and everything! There was an ulterior motive, however. It was all a lead-in, a softening-up, to get me hooked on BBC One’s English adaptation of the books – starring Kenneth Branagh as the titular Swede.


Dec 08

The Broken World – Tim Etchells

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When I found out my favourite theatre director in the world had written his first novel I was intrigued, but also somewhat trepidacious. Tim’s theatre writing (which I talked about a bit here) is so strongly of and about theatre itself, would he trip up in an entirely different mode of writing? Would what he produces that makes forced ents such a theatrical force work on the page?

So I was in borders with a gift voucher, unsure of what to spend it on, when I remembered and picked it up, not quite out of duty, but frankly without any great expectation (not unlike when i got the new girls aloud alBUM).

It is ASTONISHING. I can’t remember the last time a book, a BOOK, has hit me like this, it might have been shampoo planet (yes, i read it before generation x, because waterstones in cheltenham didn’t have gen x) or My Idea of Fun, fifteen years ago. You might think “ah fanboy, bound to like it” but it’s so far away from his theatrical writing, and yet contains hints of all his beautiful little linguistic ticks that made me cheer inside when I spotted one.

Anyway, it may be the best novel yet written about blogging, the argot is so spot-on, the way the unnamed narrator, like all bloggers, moves away from the Proper Subject At Hand (a walkthrough of mindbogglingly complex computer game) to talk about himself, his friends (who are all referred to by their internet names throughout), his crappy job making Cooked Circular Food (a beautiful neologism that i intend to use at Every Appropriate Point) and everything else in his real life. There’s clearly a deep love for the subject matter, alienation and distance has always a key driver in forced ents work, but an embrace of distance, that it’s a good thing, and this links so strongly with how people immerse themselves in MMORPGs that it was kind of inevitable that Tim would see the potential in them.

Really, I can’t recommend it highly enough, and am worried that i’m doing a shocking job of describing how great this book is, but I HAD to tell you about it.

Nov 08

Don’t They Know It’s The End Of The World?

FT + The Brown Wedge13 comments • 1,963 views

With Rubicon and Persian Fire, Tom Holland proved himself a master of narrative history with a sizeable weakness for relating the ancient world to the modern. His third history blockbuster, Millennium, dials back the parallels but finds its narrative coherence threatened.

It’s still a very readable and interesting book – a thorough exploration of a relatively obscure period in European history, covering the time from the coronation of Charlemagne in 800 to the culmination of the First Crusade in 1099. Holland doesn’t dwell on either event, looking instead to less well-known – but more crucial – turning points: the victory of Otto over the Hungarians at the Battle of Lech; the rise to power of the Abbey of Cluny; the humbling of Emperor by Pope at the fortress of Canossa, which Holland contends represents the crucial division of Church and State on which Christendom was founded.


Oct 08

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou – Episode 16

FT + Slug of Time Podcast5 comments • 1,577 views

In the last episode of Series 2, Astrophysicist Michael Williams joins Mark Sinker and Elisha Sessions to talk about “The Forgotten Enemy”, written by Arthur C. Clarke in 1949. It’s about comfy isolation, radio static, and forces larger than oneself. Elisha reads the story at the front of the programme; music is “Speculative Reminiscing” by Low Res, “Permafrost” by Magazine, and “From My Window I Can See A Mountain in Snow” by Tisane feat. Kevin.

Produced by Elisha Sessions

Oct 08

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou – Episode 15

Slug of Time Podcast4 comments • 1,474 views

It’s Katie Grocott in the studio this week with Mark Sinker and Elisha Sessions to talk about “Things”, written by Ursula Le Guin in 1970. This is a short story about a society sharply divided between nihilist marauders and maudlin do-nothings… and two people who don’t really fit in either camp. Oh, and masonry. Music is “To the Sea” by Yello and “Ende Neu” by Einsturzende Neubauten.

Produced by Elisha Sessions

Oct 08

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou – Episode 14

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Richard Tunnicliffe joins Mark Sinker and Elisha Sessions to talk about Thomas M. Disch’s “The Squirrel Cage”. It’s a story about a writer writing for no one, or for everyone – he’s not sure which (lol Livejournal). Beezer Magazine’s “Numbskulls” make a brief appearance, as does John Searle’s “Chinese Room” thought experiment, a song by Kraftwerk, and a classic spoken piece by Alvin Lucier.

Produced by Elisha Sessions

Oct 08

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou – Episode 13

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Rebecca Levene sits in with Mark Sinker and Elisha Sessions to talk about Brian Aldiss’ 1957 short story, “All the World’s Tears”. It’s about a vitiated ecology, a mechanized society, and a desolate, wind-swept mansion where love may not be all you need. Music is “In the Pines” by Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys, and “Ask” by the Smiths. Elisha reads the story for you first.

Produced by Elisha Sessions

Oct 08

we are not speaking, therefore we are a breaking buckthorn

FT4 comments • 107 views

Team Slug apologises for the delay in posting last night’s episode of A Bite of Stars, a Slug of Time, and Thou — indeed, we had REAL LIFE S.F. AND PULP AUTHOR REBECCA LEVENE on the show — she once commissioned Doctor Who novels for Virgin, but last night spoke to us about anthropology, shared worlds and what she thought of early Brian Aldiss.

While you’re waiting, ponder Lewis Carroll’s prescient illustration of the peculiar submissive dumbness of artificial intelligence:

“Would you tell me,” said Alice, a little timidly, “why you are painting those roses?”

Five and Seven said nothing, but looked at Two. Two began in a low voice, “Why the fact is, you see, Miss, this here ought to have been a red rose-tree, and we put a white one in by mistake; and if the Queen was to find it out, we should all have our heads cut off, you know. So you see, Miss, we’re doing our best, afore she comes, to–” At this moment Five, who had been anxiously looking across the garden, called out “The Queen! The Queen!” and the three gardeners instantly threw themselves flat upon their faces.

Sep 08

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou – Episode 12

FT + Slug of Time Podcast + The Brown Wedge1 comment • 585 views

Magnus Anderson joins the Slug Lords to talk about Arsen Darnay’s short story, “Such Is Fate”. It’s about a gypsy, a sailor, a tank of liquified gas, and what we can learn from the past. Music comes via Olivia Newton-John and Prince, and Elisha reads the story at the front of the programme in case you don’t have your copy of the September-October 1974 “Worlds of If” to hand.

Produced by Elisha Sessions

Sep 08

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou – Episode 11

FT + Slug of Time Podcast + The Brown Wedge6 comments • 1,191 views

Victoria de Rijke joins Mark Sinker and Elisha Sessions to talk about “Aye, and Gomorrah”, a tale of sexless astronaut prostitutes and the people who worship them. I’m not making that up! It was written by Samuel R. Delany in 1966 and Elisha reads it at the beginning in case you haven’t. Music is “I Blood Brother Be” by the Shock Headed Peters.

Produced by Elisha Sessions