By Joseph Farquharson, 1893.
By Joseph Farquharson, 1893.
The first extract for Drakenfeld will be published in next month’s SFX Magazine, which is available to buy next week I think. No doubt there will be digital extracts, too, but I’m pretty happy that the first read will be in traditional print format!
Not a bad little haul from yesterday’s mooching around Nottingham. I’m going through a phase where I’m just going to buy lovely old editions of books I’ve wanted to read for a while, and hopefully my reading pile will not only be full of great books, but aesthetically pleasing while it’s taunting me.
Sophia McDougall has very good things to say in New Statesman about why she hates Strong Female Characters. I tried to find a quote to read in isolation, but you should probably read the whole thing now.
That link was via io9, which also had a very interesting article on whether or not villains should have to commit taboo acts for us to hate them:
“Do villains need to rape, torture or mutilate people for us to hate them? Or maybe the reverse is true: Sometimes we can invest more in a villain, if his or her evildoing is creative and leaves more to our imaginations. Sometimes with villains, brutality is the lesser path. Here’s our plea for more subtle monsters.”
Indeed. The over-the-top nature of some villains can be done well, but for the most part it does indeed feel lazy on behalf of the author. That is unless you’re trying to get the reader to like a psychopath, but even then, beware of the dodgy shorthand.
Akenfield, by Ronald Blythe, really is very good. It’s a portrait of an English village community from the 1960s. Nothing outrageous there. It’s made up of dozens of real-life interviews, from farriers to orchard workers, to nurses and farmers, all of whom talk about their upbringing in the village, the impact of the First World War, their struggles to simply endure in the countryside. That’s all it is. Yet, it’s somehow one of the most moving books I’ve ever read.
You could probably just flick through a few entries here and there to get a flavour, but sitting down to go through them all is the best experience. There is the expected repetition – the most common of which being that people found it really tough simply making enough money to live. Yet it never came across like poverty. There’s an endurance here. Not the epic mountain-striding explorer kind of endurance, but a very stoic, very British way of coping with harsh realities of rural life, and it’s profound. I’m often saying that writers ought read widely – and this book is the kind of moving, unexpected pleasure that can be reprocessed in all manner of ways by creative minds. Likewise, if you ever wanted to know what rural life in Britain used to be about, this shows a truly non-romantic portrait.
Having been away for two weeks, there’s a huge amount to do on the allotment. Mainly weeding, as the weeds have pretty much taken over. We discovered several enormous marrows had erupted, along with almost a dozen patty pan squash. However, as you can see from the top photo, we’re now able to cook full meals with allotment produce, which is just great. The flavours are so intense compared to supermarket produce – and the food looks real, not freakishly symmetrical.
Having handed in the second Drakenfeld novel before I got married, I can actually enjoy the allotment now without feeling too guilty for being away from the computer.
A few geek links of note. Firstly, the Guardian has a good video feature on 2000AD, to coincide with the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
The dark side of geek culture goes more mainstream as the New Statesman looks at what lies behind “fake geek girl” accusations.
And while I continue highlighting how tough things are for women in geek culture, the LA Times looks at comic writer Mark Millar’s comments on rape in narratives. Which is best summed up by this response from Laura Hudson:
“It’s using a trauma you don’t understand in a way whose implications you can’t understand, and then talking about it as though you’re doing the same thing as having someone’s head explode. You’re not. Those two things are not equivalent, and if you don’t understand, you shouldn’t be writing rape scenes.”
This concerns the Tower of David in Caracas, Venezuela. Squatters took over the 45-story skyscraper in the early 1990s, and have been there ever since. Fascinating, and deeply saddening at the same time.