About Me

My photo
I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Seems about right....

A great video from one of my favourite YouTubers....

Reading Plans for 2024 and Beyond - Mid-Year Update! 

Has it been SIX months already? Apparently so.. Which means the statutory progress report. So, how have I been doing? Reasonably OK I think. 

Following the Labels   

This year's task was to bump up the lowest of my Label buckets into at least double figures – or, at the very least, nudge them in that general direction. To date I’ve managed to get Bob (Battle of Britain), Education, India, and Language to 10 with Scandinavia following soon. That’s a pretty good half-year, I think! Some of the super-low bucket counts still need some concentrated TLC, but I’m working on that. 

The ‘Knowledge Streams’    

As predicted my ‘Britain Alone’ and, rather surprisingly, ‘World War to Cold War’ had some notable attention and I even managed to drop in a few ‘USA:WTF’ reads which helped me to understand that strange country a little more. A little more to come – in scattershot fashion – in all 3 areas. 

The ‘Wild Cards’     

Also as predicted at the top of the year, my ‘wild cards’ have (for the most part) remained caged and rubbing themselves against the bars. A few *might* be allowed to see the light of day at some point. My ‘Random Book Generator’ has, against all the odds, yet to randomly generate a single book. 

Finishing/Progressing Series   

I have managed to finish ONE series this year – The 4 'Ghost' books – and will be finishing off the original Holmes books before Christmas. I’ll be progressing the Dune and Foundation series during the 2nd half of the year (towards the end I think) but I think that’ll be it. I’ve got at least 3-4 more series either started or not quite finished. When I get to them, I’m not 100% sure. I’ll also TRY not to start any more series before I finish one I’m already reading. 

Book length & the Review Pile   

My To Be Reviewed Pile is a healthy 7 at the moment which is manageable. It was at 10 for a while but a few longer books took care of that. I’m hoping to maintain it at around 6-7 so I can actually remember what the book was about in order to review it properly. After 380 books recorded by average page length presently stands at 291pp down from 341pp back in Jan 2022. It's been 291pp for a while now and the rate of drop is most definitely slowing down. I don’t expect it to drop much below 290pp by New Year’s. 

Classics and Re-Reads   

My only re-reads (so far) this year have been my ongoing re-read of the Sherlock Holmes books with Marian over @ Classics Considered. There’s just two more to go here, but there will be one or two more re-reads to follow. My Classics aim for this year was 15. To date I’ve reviewed 14 (with one more already in my review pile) so – Target Achieved! There will be a ‘few’ more to follow. 2024 will be a Classic Year, I think. 

Deep Dives   

I’ve enjoyed the ‘Deep’ Dives I’ve managed this year – 3 to date – and I have some more to come, indeed I’m presently reading one (about the origins of WW1) right now. So I’m looking to include at least 3 more this year – and that’ll probably turn into 4 or more. I’m still tempted at doing a REALLY deep dive (5+ books on a single subject) but I’m worried that I’d either bore myself or you guys. I’m still musing a bit on that one. 

Oh, and some Fun   

I have, I think, dropped the odd (and sometimes very odd) ‘fun’ book into my reading schedule to either liven or lighten things up a bit. I think a few notables are Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi and The Humans by Matt Haig. I’ll see about dropping in one or two in the 2nd half of the year. I do have a few odd title connected sets in mind which might throw up some interesting combinations of things. I’ve also just completed putting together something I have had in mind for a while now but that won’t be coming off until the end of this year or (most likely) early next year at the earliest.  

Overall, so far, I think I’m doing OK goals-wise. I’m expecting the rest of the year to be fun, interesting and possibly a little crazy book-wise. I guess we’ll see!  

Happy Birthday: Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, Vicomte de Saint-Exupéry, known simply as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (29 June 1900 – c. 31 July 1944), was a French writer, poet, journalist and aviator. He received several prestigious literary awards for his novella The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) and for his lyrical aviation writings, including Wind, Sand and Stars and Night Flight (Vol de nuit). His works have been translated into many languages.

Saint-Exupéry was a successful commercial pilot before World War II, working airmail routes in Europe, Africa, and South America. He joined the French Air Force at the start of the war, flying reconnaissance missions until France's armistice with Germany in 1940. After being demobilised by the French Air Force, he travelled to the United States to help persuade its government to enter the war against Nazi Germany.

Saint-Exupéry spent 28 months in the United States of America, during which he wrote three of his most important works, then joined the Free French Air Force in North Africa, even though he was far past the maximum age for such pilots and in declining health. He disappeared and is believed to have died while on a reconnaissance mission from the French island of Corsica over the Mediterranean on 31 July 1944. Although the wreckage of his plane was discovered off the coast of Marseille in 2000, the ultimate cause of the crash remains unknown.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Just Finished Reading: The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (FP: 1905) [303pp] 

Containing 13 short stories – we're back in that format again after the last full novel – this is the start of a new phase in Sherlock Holmes’ adventures after his supposed death at the hands of Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Opening with ‘The Empty House’ we discover what exactly happened (or didn’t happen!) on that fateful day and where exactly Holmes has been in the last THREE years. I couldn’t help but think that both the explanation of Sherlock’s non-death and the reasoning behind his continued absence where a bit... ‘thin’. Although I can understand why he (and ACD) needed to explain himself. But actually, the thing that *really* jumped out at me in this story – apart from the interesting murder weapon – was Holmes’ almost off-hand comment about Watson’s bereavement! Erm.... Presumably his wife died (there was no mention of exactly who had died) at some point whilst Holmes was away. If so, when, why, caused by what? Interested fans NEED to know this stuff. Oh, and one final thing, both this story and one other mentioned ‘South Africa Gold shares’. Presumably such a thing was BIG news at the time of writing? 

I remembered ‘The Dancing Men’ surprisingly well after a 40+ year absence, probably because I’ve had a passing interest in codes and other puzzles since I was a child. ‘The Solitary Cyclist’ had its moments and presumably drew upon the cycling ‘craze’ of the early 20th century when bicycles became ubiquitous on country roads. It did feel very familiar though – as did a few stories – and seemed to be little more than a variation on a well-trodden theme. ‘The Priory School’ was somewhat better (although it did have a few echoes of Hound of the Baskervilles, minus the dog) including yet another passing mention of gypsies! ‘The Three Students’ was an interesting puzzle and contained, I think, the only new piece of ‘personal’ information about Holmes himself – the fact that he was 6ft tall. 

One thing that struck me repeatedly throughout these stories was the difficulty of travel – especially anywhere outside of London. Even within the city itself it too HOURS to get from one area to another (usually by cab). Maybe this was compensated for by the regularity of postal services and the speedy delivery of telegrams! Transport outside London – even using trains going to places that would never be served today – took half a day or more. One character only went ‘home’ at weekends – and her family lived only THREE miles away, but thought the hassle of travelling that far just wasn’t worth it. Amazing! 

I found ‘The Golden Pince-Nez' interesting for its background story of Russian clampdown on dissent – which seemed to make it into several novels of the period including children’s tales. ‘The Abbey Grange’ amused me by being based in Chislehurst in Kent – which they took an age getting to by train – as I used to live there (briefly) before moving one stop further down the line in Orpington where I lived for 6 years whilst working in London. Interestingly, Holmes was MUCH more interested in ‘doing the right thing’ rather than simply catching criminals. Justice, according to Holmes, was a much higher ideal than simple Law and he was willing to put himself at some risk in its name. I did feel, from story to story, that Holmes was more than a little arrogant in granting himself the authority to make those decisions – even if, by and large, I agreed with them. 

The final story, ‘The Second Stain’ was apparently an addition story which took place after Holmes had retired from his role as ‘consulting detective’ and his new life as a quite keeper of bees because the case involved matters of State and the possibility of a European war (interesting in itself!) because of the loss of an important document. This couldn’t but remind me of ‘The Naval Treaty’ storyline in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes where the handling of classified documents defied all rationality. Here, in ‘Stain’, a Cabinet MINISTER took home a highly sensitive document because he thought it would be more secure in a lockable BOX on a table in his bedroom that in the SAFE in his office at, presumably, The Foreign & Commonwealth Office in Whitehall. I’m guessing that government security measure back then was somewhat lacking – AKA non-existent – but please..... Then again, taking home classified documents probably isn’t as rare as we would hope it is. 

Overall, I was a little disappointed with this collection as they generally seemed ‘forced’ rather than a labour of love. I can understand that if ACD was essentially writing them ‘under duress’ from his fan base and I hope things do manage to get back in the flow by his next outing. I am, as always, looking forward to it. Just two more original works to go – then onto Sherlock’s contemporaries and the Holmesian Expanded Universe.   

Oh, I ALMOST forgot (actually I DID forget but then...), My Wordsworth Classic edition had the original drawings from the stories by Sidney Paget which was a REAL treat. If you can get this edition it's worth the effort. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

..and I've just (postal) Voted! That was my first time by post. Just a *little* more complicated than the face-to-face vote, but not too bad. I can see why a friend of mine always did that. So.... July 4th. My plan is to 'pull an all nighter' and watch the Tory dominoes FALL. It'll be FUN. The Conservatives *probably* won't get as crushed as some pundits are saying - as all too often when a massive landslide for one side is predicted *less* people vote because they think its already a done deal - but I still think its going to be a bloodbath for them. I'm hoping that some SENIOR Tories loose their seats (the more humiliation the better) and will have beer at the ready when they do so. I'm certainly not going to be 'live-streaming' my thoughts, but I will pop on from time to time over night with the odd comment. Yes, I know I'm a politics Geek, but I'm SO, SO looking forward to next Thursday!! 

Monday, June 24, 2024

Both my gaming friend and I were *most* surprised at a 21% count for the UK. I'd have guessed less than 10% myself or even less. That's assuming the data is correct of course, considering that no date is given here. Plus, I'm rather sceptical about the quality of the data from most of Africa...  

Just Finished Reading: Sunburn by Laura Lippman (FP: 2018) [290pp] 

Belleville, Delaware. It was, he said repeatedly, all part of the job. They said to get close to her, to befriend her, to get her secrets. That was his job, to investigate, to search, to get close. He was actually surprised, shocked even, when he started to like her. She was tough, funny, clever and not too shabby looking. Sure, you could tell that she was more than a little private about her life, but he knew she wouldn’t just tell him her real-life story not even when they started dating. Part of the act was trying to be surprised by what she did let slip and not to ask too many leading questions. He knew far more about her than she knew he did – the fact that she had killed her first husband, that she’d served time in prison and that she’d abandoned a second child just weeks previously. She was bad to the bone, wasn’t she? So why did he like her so much? It wasn’t just sexual attraction that was for sure. It wasn’t like he had any problems getting dates when he wasn’t on the job, he was a good-looking guy – so he’d been told. So, why didn’t he believe she was as bad as her file seemed to say she was? Was he being lied to? Was the guy who hired him on the level? Was he really trying to recover money for an insurance company? After a few months of this he was second guessing everything he supposedly knew about her – but what if he was wrong? DEAD wrong....? 

I’ve been picked up modern/contemporary thrillers/crime novels for a while now – a LONG while – and I thought I should really start reading them. So, here we are! I didn’t know quite what to expect with this one, never having read the author before, but I was honestly rather impressed. But as this is her (I think!) 22nd published novel I imagine that she’s got her stuff together by now! I did find the start a little slow and a little confusing, but once I got more into it, I did find it to be a quite delicious, complex, layered novel. There was a certain element of suspense, but there was more than that. Mostly we stayed inside the heads of the object of the investigation (Polly) and the man sent to find out her secrets (Adam), but we do get insights into her earlier life through flashbacks and conversations which added nicely to the balancing act I was forced to take to decide if she was ‘bad’ or not. Polly in particular was an interesting, flawed but real character with a very challenging (to say the least) background story that some – particularly female – readers might struggle with. There are several scenes/memories of domestic abuse that made me cringe more than a little, so BEWARE. This is most certainly not a novel filled with puppies and rainbows. However, it is very well written and most certainly worth the emotional effort to read.  

Being the person I am, and having the amount of unread books I do, I’m not sure if I have any more of this authors novels already purchased. But if I do, and if I come across one/some of them whilst reshuffling my stacks (as I periodically do), I’ll be sure to schedule them into my future reading regime. Recommended if you have a fairly robust emotional outlook on life.   

Sunday, June 23, 2024

From Wiki: The graveyard of empires is a sobriquet often associated with Afghanistan. It originates from the several historical examples of foreign powers having been unable to achieve military victory in Afghanistan in the modern period, including the Soviet Union and, most recently, the United States. The phrase, in reference to Afghanistan, does not seem to predate a 2001 article by Milton Bearden in the magazine Foreign Affairs. Alternatively, the term has been applied to Mesopotamia. Elsewhere, a very similar phrase, "the graveyard of nations and empires," has been used in a figurative sense to describe the Old Testament's Book of Isaiah. The anthropologist Thomas Barfield has noted that the narrative of Afghanistan as an unconquerable nation has been used by Afghanistan itself to deter invaders. In October 2001, during the United States invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban founder and leader Mohammed Omar Mujahid threatened the United States with the same fate as the British Empire and the Soviet Union. US President Joe Biden referred to the sobriquet while he delivered a public statement after the 2021 fall of Kabul as evidence that no further commitment of American military presence would consolidate the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan against the Taliban.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Happy Birthday: Erich Maria Remarque born Erich Paul Remark; (22 June 1898 – 25 September 1970) was a German-born novelist. His landmark novel All Quiet on the Western Front (1928), based on his experience in the Imperial German Army during World War I, an international bestseller which created a new literary genre of veterans writing about conflict. The book was adapted to film several times. Remarque's anti-war themes led to his condemnation by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels as "unpatriotic." He was able to use his literary success and fame, to relocate to Switzerland as refugee, and to the United States, where he became a Naturalized citizen.

[Yeah, my first author! I read 'All Quiet..' decades ago, but only discovered recently that the author had penned a sequel about the surviving soldiers trying to adapt to peace in a country shattered by war. I'll see about reading both next year as I'm presently maxed out on Classics. Looking forward to it.]

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Just Finished Reading: Persians – The Age of the Great Kings by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (FP: 2022) [397pp] 

Up until comparatively recently, our knowledge of the Persian world and especially the Greek-Persian War had been almost exclusively from the Greek side. Unsurprisingly, those who write the histories tend to portray themselves in the best of lights and their enemies – well all too often they are seen as decadent aggressive barbarians unworthy of the name civilised. Our views changed with the discovery of thousands of clay tablets which, in the preceding years, have been painstakingly translated and compiled into a history of the region and the Persian empire in their own words. Needless to say, this is VERY different from the Greek accounts so well known in the West. 

Starting in what is now Iran, the Achaemenids eventually founded an empire spanning the whole region and claimed parts of what is now northern Greece and north Africa including most of Egypt. They were mighty and a force to be reckoned with for centuries. They built great cities, produced epic iconic art and waged war with an equally epoch-making intensity. They did not suffer their enemies to remain rivals for long, crushing all opposition, burning cities to the ground and enslaving the survivors. They were most certainly NOT to be messed with. This, of course, did not stop the Greek city states on the coast of what is now Turkey from doing so – much to their regret. It also didn’t stop internal rivalry, most especially at times of power transition. The King of Kings, in order to secure the continuity of the Achaemenids made sure to produce enough sons to pick from to be the designated heir. Unfortunately, with SO many sons to choose from – often in the tens if not more – those who were passed over either had to be placated, exiled FAR away from the centres of power or simply executed/assassinated to ensure a ‘peaceful’ transfer of power. It was, to say the least, messy. If that wasn’t bad enough, even before the next King had been designated (or assumed) there was a constant jostling for position and power in the attempt to ensure that the favoured son in fact ended up as the heir-designate. Poison or simple assassination played their parts here. 

If that wasn’t complicated enough – and to be honest getting my head around some of the family trees in this book is a REAL mind twister – the Achaemenids most definitely kept it in the family in order to maintain a ‘pure’ bloodline. This involved Kings marrying their cousins, sisters, daughters and whoever was ‘best suited’ to maintain the dynasty. My particular ‘favourite’ example was a King (I can’t remember which one as they often had the same names) who married his daughter who was, herself, continuing her affair with her brother throughout. They could certainly give the later Egyptian dynasties a run for their money in that department. 

It was nice to start to rectify my DEEP ignorance of this region and period covered in this excellent book. As you’ll have guessed by now, seeing my reading on Ancient Times, I do tend to concentrate on the Greeks and the Romans probably at least partially due to the fact that there’s just SO much out there on them. I have been trying – OK, mostly by accumulating unread books – to move my knowledge Eastwards and this is an early foray towards that. It was a very good start. If, like me, you’ve often wondered what it was like beyond the edges of the Greek and Roman worlds in Ancient Times I recommend that you give this tome a read. You can thank me later. MUCH more to come from this region. 

[Highest page count of the year so far: 397pp][+14pp]

Monday, June 17, 2024

Just Finished Reading: That Option No Longer Exists – Britain 1974-76 by John Medhurst (FP: 2014) [155pp] 

For those who lived through them, the 1970’s were memorably turbulent times in the UK. Not only were we in the midst of an IRA bombing campaign, but the ongoing oil crisis was helping to push inflation ever higher peaking at an AMAZING and quite eye-watering 26.87% in August of 1975. The year 1974 was also when we had a rare double election – both won by Harold Wilson’s Labour Party – the first such event since 1910 and the last to date (so far). During this era Britain was also wracked by strikes and I vividly remember doing homework (I was in my early/mid-teens at the time) by candlelight because of rolling blackouts caused by power station failures due to lack of coal. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time – being both young and uninformed/stupid - I think that my parents were quite worried about the whole thing.  

Despite Wilson’s government (something I SO need to read up about further) being at least technically Labour – and MUCH further to the Left than more modern Labour governments – the author does go to town a bit on their lack of Socialist ‘chops’ and the lost opportunities to turn the country leftwards for decades to come (remember that Thatcher came to power in 1979 – in part because I voted for her). I can kind of understand this having seen far too often how timid Labour governments are even after been given a mandate to govern by gaining a LARGE majority. [Sidebar: It’ll be interesting to see how the next Labour government actually govern IF their majority is as high as predicted following the election on 4th July]. But, with things as they were the UK economy was in the process of being well and truly flushed down the toilet and needed a quick injection of cash to tide it over the bad bit. Going cap in hand to the IMF got the predicted response: You can have the money on the understanding that you ditch all of this ridiculous Socialist crap and go FULL austerity. Having little to no wriggle room the Labour government acquiesced, and any idea of Socialist Britain died with it. Simply that option no longer existed. 

Interestingly, especially after watching the 1988 TV adaptation of the book and (much) later reading ‘A Very British Coup’ by Chris Mullin, it transpired that the conspiracy to overthrow a hard Left Labour government wasn’t as far-fetched as you might think. There were actual high-level discussions with senior Civil Servants, businesspeople and ex-military about possible intervention if the Labour government went “too far” and the country needed a ‘course correction’. OBVIOUSLY, I’ll be reading further about THAT little detail. This was an interesting look into a turbulent political period from a distinctly left-wing (or “radical hard Left” for my American readers [lol]) viewpoint. Recommended. 

Saturday, June 15, 2024

This raises the question, naturally, of exactly *why* they're prohibited. Presumably because Atheists don't have any "morality"? I was thinking both how essentially nonsensical this was, plus the fact that it would never exist in the UK or the rest of Europe - for the simple fact that it would never occur to do this plus our Anti-Discrimination wouldn't allow it - then I remembered that this is how we, in England at least, used to treat the Catholic minority. Until recently, around the middle of the 19th century, Catholics were not allowed to run for office nor head any of the branches of the Civil Service or the Military - nor indeed VOTE in General Elections. I also remembered reading about an elected MP who refused to swear his oath of office on a Bible sometime around the end of the 19th century. That caused problems for some years, if memory serves, until MPs changed the rules and were allowed to affirm rather than swear. I'm guessing that this had a knock on effect in legal trials were the witness used to have to swear on a Bible but now swear on multiple Holy books or affirm.    

Life is Hard(back), then you Read... 

As you may have picked up previously, I’m not a huge fan of hardback books. For one thing they tend to be rather expensive – around double the cost of a paperback or more – unless you pick them up in sales or in shops dedicated to selling on hardbacks at discount prices (like my favourite Indie bookshop in ‘town’). For another thing they tend to be both huge and heavy in comparison to paperbacks so are more of a hassle getting home, lugging around or simply holding in your hand. They also take up significantly more space on shelves (or on the floor) and so on. Of course, there are a few advantages too – otherwise they wouldn’t exist – including the fact that they’re often published a year or so before the paperback (IF they come out in paperback at all) and are significantly more robust, thereby ‘keeping’ in a decent condition for much longer that their paperback version which is always in danger of falling apart after a few years. So, it won’t come as too much of a surprise to know that I don’t own many hardbacks – but I do have some... 

Having a significant number of unread books in my house (I have no idea HOW many exactly but it wouldn’t surprise me too much if it exceeded 1000) it's always a problem of choosing what to read next. I don’t really want to read books at random or be a *complete* slave to my butterfly mind so I need some sort of rational to what I’m going to read next. This is why I’ve been inventing schemes and themes to focus on particular books or areas of interest, in part to stop me picking something up just because it's a recent arrival or the topic is front and centre in my head. So, to cut a long, rambling and probably boring story short, I’ve added yet another criteria to my ‘what shall I read next’ filter: Hardbacks. 

Over the last few weeks I’ve been going through the stacks of books around my house picking out some of the chunkier hardbacks I own and giving them their own stack(s) - presently 3 – for a grand total of around 50 books. Some of these date back to the 1970’s - although I haven’t had them THAT long – whilst others herald from 2022 or 2023. They’re in a wide variety of topics – The War of 1812, the technology of vaccine production, the Vietnam War, Evolutionary genetics etc – and a variety of thicknesses up to pretty substantial chunksters (in excess of 700 pages). My intention is to filter these into my ‘read next’ stack during the next few years so I can create a bit more room for more, and smaller, paperbacks. The first few have already started to edge into my 'pre-read next' stack, but they’ll take a while to work through into my actual review pile. I imagine the first hardbacks should be reviewed here from the end of the year or possibly early next. It’ll be good to actually get to *read* them, rather than using them as very solid foundations to paperback stacks. I may have to start strengthening my wrists though...!      

Happy Birthday: Edvard Hagerup Grieg (15 June 1843 – 4 September 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is widely considered one of the leading Romantic era composers, and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His use of Norwegian folk music in his own compositions brought the music of Norway to fame, as well as helping to develop a national identity, much as Jean Sibelius did in Finland and Bedřich Smetana in Bohemia. Grieg is the most celebrated person from the city of Bergen, with numerous statues that depict his image and many cultural entities named after him: the city's largest concert building (Grieg Hall), its most advanced music school (Grieg Academy) and its professional choir (Edvard Grieg Kor). The Edvard Grieg Museum at Grieg's former home, Troldhaugen, is dedicated to his legacy.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Just Finished Reading: Speculative Los Angeles edited by Denise Hamilton (FP: 2021) [301pp] 

Los Angeles may be the City of Angels, but it's also the City of Dreams and the City of Illusions. Here we are presented with 14 of those illusions, dreams and nightmares from all across the city. 

This volume certainly started well with ‘Antonia and the Stranger Who Came to Rancho Los Feliz’ by Lisa Morton. This was a tale of alternate worlds and desperate people and certainly set the tone – often dark – for the subsequent stories. Continuing with the dark side of things was ‘Detainment’ by Alex Espinoza where a recent immigrant mother is overjoyed to be reunited with her child only to find him ‘changed’ by the separation. Inevitably Cyberpunk gets a look-in with stories like ‘Where There are Cities, These Dissolve Too’ by S Qiouyi Lu where homemade robots fight each other in vast city dumps, or in ‘If Memory Serves’ by Lynell where some try to retain memories of the city as it was before rising sea levels or slash and burn development destroys everything around them. One I found particulary interesting was ‘Love, Rocket Science and the Mother of Abominations’ by Stephen Blackmore where a group of hackers search for a lost relic that is MUCH more esoteric than it seems with disastrous consequences. I was intrigued enough to wonder exactly how much of the background story was real. 

Speaking of reality (or otherwise), a shift to the more horror side of things – in Part 3 – kicked off with ‘Purple Panic’ by Francesca Lia Block which was decidedly creepy. ‘Walk of Fame’ by Duane Swierczynski was an interesting spin on the arrival of human mutants in the guise of psychics with an axe to grind with celebrity culture. Finally, I’ll mention a racial, cyberpunk, rebellion story ‘Jaguar’s Breath’ by Luis J Rodrigez which got me thinking (at least a bit) of Terminator. 

Overall, this was an above average collection of stories based around an individual city. Apparently, it was supposed to be the first of a series of such books (yeah!) but nothing has been produced since. I am hoping though that something further might be in the pipeline. I’ll certainly be looking out for them. Definitely recommended for all SF nerds.