Monday, 18 January 2010

Saturday 16 January 2010

Shannara (n) A mythical world where the gullible are tricked by magical means into reading the same story over and over and over again….

then there was the rain
it colours the whole picture.
a soaked tree glistened.

We have started a book club down in the secret government bunker, and the management of this has devolved to me, which is OK, as I can veto the rubbish books.
My choice so far, which my victims will have to read in May, is ‘The Day of The Triffids’ since I am keen to introduce people to real Science Fiction, rather than the Space Opera pap they peddle on the skiffy channel.
Those who know me know that I am an SF junkie and devour books with the same voracious saliva-raged fervour as Kerry Katona in a pasty eating contest.
I like to read the Award Winners when I can. If I had to try and categorise them, the Arthur C Clarke Award is most like the Booker Prize, whereas the Philip K Dick Award is more like the Turner Prize. The Nebulas and Hugos can be compared to the Baftas and the Oscars. Now and again you get a veteran writer getting an award for a book that may have sold well but was probably a sequel to something written forty years ago.
Then there’s the Locus Award which is voted for by the general public (democracy in these matters is never a good idea) and can be related to the TV Quick Award more than anything else. As with some other awards it incorporates fantasy novels, and invariably has a Terry Pratchett title in the finalists and something along the lines of ‘The [insert name of weapon, royal title, piece of jewellery or item of clothing] of Shannara’ (Vol IV of VII). It seems that any excuse for a Shannara novel will do. The latest one is about as asphalter who is called upon to fight the Dark Lord and is called ‘The Tarrer of Shannara.’
Further suggestions for ‘Shannara’ titles are welcomed.
Apart from the Locus TV Quick Awards, most of them do a good job in picking out the best, based on the criteria of the award. The Philip K Dick Award, for instance, goes to the best novel which went straight to paperback (since much of Dick’s early work was published in paperback with no hope at the time of a hardback edition) and often brings up a quirky selection.
This month, our book club selection is ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe, and is as far from SF as Katie Price is from a dictionary.
It is the story of Okonkwo, a Nigerian of the Nineteenth Century, a hardworking man of tradition, who is faced with alarming changes to his family and culture when European missionaries set up camp in his village.
I enjoyed it enormously.

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