I’m honoured to share an extract from Peter S. Beagle’s “The Children of the Shark God” from the new YA anthology Beyond the Pale, which also includes stories by Saladin Ahmed, Heather Brewer, Jim Butcher and Nancy Holder to name a few. For more information check out http://www.birchtreepub.com

BeyondThePale

Once there was a village on an island that belonged to the Shark God. Every man in the village was a fisherman, and the women cooked their catch and mended their nets and sails, and painted their little boats. And because that island was sacred to him, the Shark God saw to it that there were always fish to be caught, and seals as well, in the waters beyond the coral reef, and protected the village from the great gray typhoons that came every year to flood other lagoons and blow down the trees and the huts of other islands. Therefore the children of the village grew fat and strong, and the women were beautiful and strong, and the fishermen were strong and high-hearted even when they were old.

In return for his benevolence the Shark God asked little from his people: only tribute of a single goat at the turn of each year. To the accompaniment of music and prayers, and with a wreath of plaited fresh flowers around its neck, it would be tethered in the lagoon at moonrise. Morning would find it gone, flower petals floating on the water, and the Shark God never seen—never in that form, anyway.

Now the Shark God could alter his shape as he pleased, like any god, but he never showed himself on land more than once in a generation. When he did, he was most often known to appear as a handsome young man, light-footed and charming. Only one woman ever recognized the divinity hiding behind the human mask. Her name was Mirali, and this tale is what is known about her, and about her children.

Mirali’s parents were already aging when she was born, and had long since given up the hope of ever having a child—indeed, her name meant “the long-desired one.” Her father had been crippled when the mast of his boat snapped during a storm and crushed his leg, falling on him, and if it had not been for their daughter, the old couple’s lives would have been hard indeed. Mirali could not go out with the fishing fleet herself, of course—as she greatly wished to do, having loved the sea from her earliest memory—but she did every kind of work for any number of island families, whether cleaning houses, marketing, minding young children, or even assisting the midwife when a birthing was difficult or there were simply too many babies coming at the same time. She was equally known as a seamstress, and also as a cook for special feasts; nor was there anyone who could mend a pandanus-leaf thatching as quickly as she, though this is generally man’s work. No drop of rain ever penetrated any pandanus roof that came under Mirali’s hands.

Nor did she complain of her labors, for she was very proud of being able to care for her mother and father as a son would have done. Because of this, she was much admired and respected in the village, and young men came courting just as though she were a great beauty. Which she was not, being small and somewhat square-made, with straight brows—considered unlucky by most—and hips that gave no promise of a large family. But she had kind eyes, deep-set under those regrettable brows, and hair as black and thick as that of any woman on the island. Many, indeed, envied her; but of that Mirali knew nothing. She had no time for envy herself, nor for young men, either.

Now it happened that Mirali was often chosen by the village priest to sweep out the temple of the Shark God. This was not only a grand honor for a child barely turned seventeen but a serious responsibility as well, for sharks are cleanly in their habits, and to leave his spiritual dwelling disorderly would surely be to dishonor and anger the god himself. So Mirali was particularly attentive when she cleaned after the worshippers, making certain that no prayer whistle or burned stick of incense was left behind. And in this manner did the Shark God become aware of Mirali.

amontinthecountry

Apart from being an excuse to show off the stunning work of art that is the new cover to A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr I can also tell you what a fine novel it is.

It was a recent book club choice by Simon on Hear… Read This! And I really surprised myself by for getting so absorbed in something that looks so short and for welling-up  during a key scene at the end.

If you get chance read it and see what you think, especially if yours has this new cover.

 

The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, Loncon 3, has announced the 2014 Hugo Award winners. 3587 valid ballots were received and counted in the final ballot.

BEST NOVEL

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)

BEST NOVELLA

“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)

BEST NOVELETTE

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com /
Tor.com, 09-2013)

BEST SHORT STORY

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

BEST RELATED WORK

“We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

“Time” by Randall Munroe (xkcd)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM

Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films;Warner Bros.)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM

Game of Thrones “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM

Ellen Datlow

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM

Ginjer Buchanan

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

Julie Dillon

BEST SEMIPROZINE

Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki

BEST FANZINE

A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher

BEST FANCAST

SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester

BEST FAN WRITER

Kameron Hurley

BEST FAN ARTIST

Sarah Webb

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

Sofia Samata

Well the Hugo Awards come to London as Loncon3 and look what happens? This amazing list of winners. I’m actually grinning. I watched twitter bring the results. I’m sorry for some of the losers but this shows the  shape and texture of speculative fiction is changing for the better.

 

This isn’t going to be a long post, or at least I’m not intending it to be.

Last year I went to World Fantasy Convention 2013 in Brighton. I spent most of the time feeling awkward and out of place. WFC felt like a ‘working’ convention. It did have some amazing highlights and I met old friends and made some new ones but it wasn’t a relaxed affair. If you ever meet me, especially at a book event, I try to be as friendly and approachable as possible despite the innate need to run away and hide in a corner.  So when I was choosing between Nine Worlds or Loncon3 as my main con of this year the smaller and less formal feeling one won.

them

I mention this  because I was just reading Jennifer ‘The Copper Promise’ William’s (fellow introvert) con report and mentions how Nine Worlds went out of it’s way to make everyone as comfortable as possible. You could wear badges show your preferred pronoun (my name badge had both ‘he’ and ‘they’ attached), you could clip on different colours to show who you were comfortable speaking to (every con should have this!) and they had ‘awesome tokens’, which meant you could go up to someone in cosplay (costume) and tell they how great they looked without causing you or them to feel awkward. So on a personal note it felt so much more relaxed.

The weekend started on Thursday with with a train ride into Heathrow where I read and really enjoyed”Jack Shade in the Forest of Souls”, by Rachel Pollack from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine July/Aug 2012 edition.

A  brief diversion into London to go to the launch of Our Lady of the Streets (the final book of his Skyscrapper Trilogy) as he’d made brownies. I think a lot people were tempted by the brownies as I ended up, due to delayed trains and closed platforms, arriving late and at the back of a very long queue (which was lovely to see). It also meant I got to meet my fellow podcasters, the genuinely lovely, Rob and Kate from Adventures with Words for the first time in real life.

tracks

Everyone has a different reason for visiting a convention, but I think mostly everyone likes catching up with friends, hopefully making new ones and listening to panels. But OMG Nine Worlds had so many ‘tracks’ of things to follow and to be honest I stayed with ‘All the Books’  (obvious really) but what was brilliant to see what all these intermingling versions of ‘geek’ fandom all interacting and intermixing with everyone enjoying their own fandom their own way.  More of this everywhere else please.

Panels I attended included:

The Writers’ Process: an adapting, evolving, creating and editing masterclass with Abigail Nathan. The biggest take-away for any writer it seemed was work on your stuff before asking an editor to look at it. You want to them to no get bogged down in stuff you should be able to fix yourself after some  distance (e.g. three months away from it if you can) and different passes to focus on things like narrative  structure or grammar but not both at the same time.  If you do that their time (which you may be paying for) and be spent on a more meaningful polish.

Time Travel: where, why, how and when? I must admit that after the panel I fell a little more in love with both Kate Griffin (aka Claire North) and Lauren Beukes. Points raised included:

  • Why don’t people on the TARDIS suffer jet lag?
  • Time Travel allows us to go back in history with a modern perspective
  • TT is the only genre where you need a chart before you start to keep track of objects and story lines to avoid creating a paradox
  • We see the past every time we look into the stars
  • ‘The Doctor has his colonialist cake and worries about eating it’

Mythology and Fairytales: pernicious supernaturalism or meaningful exploration of existence? This was probably the most insightful as I’m a big fan of myth and fairytales. All the panelists had some great insight but  Rochita Loenen-Ruiz reminded us that myth has a lot of power in controlling the outlook of a society . She told us about a Philippine creation myth where  man and women come from bamboo and they emerged completely equal, which is completely different to the Western women are formed from a man’s rib.  And that retelling their own myth again is a way of recolonisation.

Some other quick notes:

  • Ultimate versions kill myth, they get reinvented when they are retold and they are kept alive by reinvention.
  • Superheroes are modern myths – we keep retelling them.
  • Fairytales can be Scarytales with messages – stay out late and get eaten by shapeshifting monsters.
  • If we didn’t have mouth we’d invent them.
  • ALL STORIES ARE DANGEROUS
  • Fairytales are only universal to a point as they may have different end results depending on the culture they are set in.

 School Stories: prefects, headmasters and tuckshops, oh my! This was at 10.15pm but still well attended. Again cultural differences came up and the one that struck me most was the expectation that UK School Stories all seem to be in a boarding schools and US they are fantasy versions of High schools. Oh, and Japanese Manga are more social stories that spread out from the main protagonists much more.

Westerns: they’re your Huckleberry I’ve been slowly trying to get in this as a genre, mostly through Weird Wild, and I loved this panel especially for this this insight:

And Jared said that so was footloose. Also Japanese Samurai can be seen as part of the Western genre. A great discussion all round.

Other notes included:

  • sense of emotional landscapes and not fitting in or being able to settle
  • no guns, no horses in the UK so an alien landscape
  • movement towards inevitable conflict
  • some people can afford morality easier than others
  • lawlessness – the gun enforces the law – property is what you can protect and keep.
  • edge of civilisation – no help coming – you’re on your own.
  • creeping inevitability,  you can’t stop ‘it’ (e.g. high noon showdown) and you have to just go with it.

I did other panels but didn’t really keep notes but I thought you might get a flavour how insightful it was, if not the humour and the fun.

Other stuff:

independent
Adele (above), of  Fox Spirt Books, ran the All of the Books independent publisher table that stocked various small and indue presses attending the vent. It was very much emptier by the end of the event than in this picture, which makes me very happy.

When I wasn’t paneling I chatted to so many wonderful people. I was really blown away by how many fun random chats I had especially with people I’d met for the first time (I’m not saying only as I’d love to chat to them more).

This is turning out to be longer post than intended so I’ll wrap up.

Despite my fears that I would end up again like Brighton feeling a little lost and lonely eating chips by myself I had the most amazing time.

Thanks to the whole of  Nine Worlds (crew, panelists, and attendees) who made it into stellar event. . I’m so booking next year and so should you.

Dark-Intelligence

THE PLOT
Thorvald Spear wakes in hospital, where he’s been brought back from the dead. What’s more, he died in a human vs. alien war which ended a whole century ago. But when he relives his traumatic final moments, he finds the spark to keep on living. That spark is vengeance.

Spear was killed by an artificial intelligence turned rogue, which annihilated him along with friendly forces. And this AI, known as Penny Royal, is still free. Spear vows to do whatever it takes to find and destroy it. Including cheating another of its victims, crime lord Isobel Satomi.

Penny Royal had triggered a transformation in Satomi, turning her into something far from human. And, as she evolves into the ultimate predator, will Spear turn from hunter to hunted?

I can not wait until February 2015! I’m a huge fan of the Polity universe and Neal’s Penny Royal character is a great invention. If you haven’t read The Skinner, The Voyage of the Sable Keech, or Orbus (in that order as they make up the Splatterjay series) read those while you wait.

Is it just me or is cover is arguably the best of the series?

 

fortressofthepearl

According to its  original publication The Fortress of the Pearl is 8th in The Elric Saga but The Michael Moorcock Collection and Wikiedia places it chronologically second, after Elric of Melniboné and Other Stories, and if, like me, you are reading in chronological order this is Elric’s first big adventure.

I was going to say that this is a better start than Elric of Melniboné but I’m not sure it is. Elric of Melniboné is an exploration through several short stories (and a comic book script) of how Elric became who he is, but here a lot of it that background is implied or mentioned only in passing. I’m not sure it would have the same impact on the uninitiated. You’d still have fun reading it but some the weight would be removed.

Elric crawls towards the city of Quarzhasaat, after trekking the southern edge of the Sighing Desert, and having run out of herds that give him vitality he is near is near death. He is rescued by an entrepreneurial boy who sells his skills for a deadly price. One that can be paid by recovering the pearl of the title.

Moorcock makes it look easy. Elric’s task of finding the Fortress of the Pearl and then the precious pearl  sounds simple but Moorcock uses it to explore reality, dream, expectation, wish fulfilment amongst other things.

So far in his adventures’ Elric’s journey’s have had a strong spiritual element. This differs as he’s not travelling into some dream/reality past he’s going into another construction of a dream. Here he is without his usual knowledge and instead gains a guide, Alnac Kreb  whose philosophies revolve around Balance pulling Elric away from his usual Chaos though not completely towards its opposite Law.

There is a sword and sorcery element but it doesn’t revolve around his vampiric sword, the Stormbringer, but its influence can still be heavily felt, and Its addictive qualities are paralleled through Elric’s struggles with an elixir he is tricked into taking.

As he is guided towards the pearl he gets to see how an ancient city of an enemy has attempted to rewrite his race and their empire from history and at the same time building up the myth of the pearl into something which can bestow real political power.

For all this it feels very traditional though not overlay familiar and certainly not stale. It combines the right mix of thought and pure adventure though part of me wanted Moorcock to lose some more the traditional scaffolding and for Moorecock to risk freewheeling a little more..

It is a solid adventure for our hero, though as we see at the end, he’s a hero still that doesn’t hold back when embracing chaos.

I’m on a roll and ready to read The Sailor on the Seas of Fate

Hatfield_Blog_bannerOne day, on a road trip with my parents, I asked for my dad’s phone. Knowing my phone was already dead, he handed it to me, and saw me pull up Skype.“Chatting with friends again?” He asked.

I told him that I was actually writing my novel. “On Skype?” I remember him asking.

“Why not?” It seemed to me as reasonable as any other way, since I didn’t have my phone or laptop. Sure I could write it in the Notes app, but I didn’t want to have to send it to myself later. I had dialogue in my head, and I wanted to write it down.

My dad was flabbergasted. To him it was inconceivable that I would use an app for anything other than its original purpose. To me it was inconceivable that I wouldn’t.Though my dad works in technology—in Silicon Valley, no less—an episode like this showed there was a difference in the way we approached technology. This divide was a generational one, with teenagers like myself on one side, growing up with technology, and our parents on the other side, having to learn how to use technology.

I suppose our parents view technology as something to master, while we view technology as something we simply breathe. Growing up with it, we never had to look at manuals when unwrapping a new gadget.  It was always intuitive for us., since we never knew what it was like to live without computers or smartphones.

The differences in the way we approach and learn to use technology can be viewed similarly to the way we learn a foreign language. As we get older, we learn languages by taking classes and reading books. We learn grammar and vocabulary to build our way mechanically towards fluency. When you’re younger, learning a language is simply picking it up and just doing it. Similarly, I look at toddlers and eight year-olds in the Apple Store, tapping away at the iPads on display and the smartphones their parents give them to distract them for a few minutes, and see a new generation that never had to formally learn how to use technology.

A similar phenomena can be seen in the difference in emailing styles between my generation and my parents’ generation. My dad will write emails in the form of letters: “Dear…” finishing with “Sincerely” or “Best regards,” while an email from me to a friend would read like a conversation had in person: “Yep, Chinese sounds good tonight.”

It’s ingrained in the way we behave, solve problems, and communicate with each other. To our generation, it would never occur to us that globally reporting on our every move is strange, or that asking millions of strangers online for life or wardrobe advice is unusual. We have grown up thinking of technology as an extension of human-to-human communication, and this of course, is satisfying one of the most fundamental needs of all humans, connecting to others.

The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano is published by Gollancz on the 31st July.

The ebook will be £1.99 until the 7th August.

speedydeath

Alastair Bing’s guests gather around his dining table at Chaynings, a charming country manor. But one seat, belonging to the legendary explorer Everard Mountjoy, remains empty. When the other guests search the house, a body is discovered in a bath, drowned. The body is that of a woman, but could the corpse in fact be Mountjoy? A peculiar and sinister sequence of events has only just begun…

Speedy Death is the first novel of sixty six to feature Gladys Mitchell’s detective Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, a polymathic psychoanalyst and author, and it sets the model for the all the other ones I’ve read so far. Though it also introduces an aspect of Mrs Bradley’s character that I didn’t (and probably wouldn’t) have known without reading this. I won’t spoil it but it definitely makes her stand out from the Miss Marples of this world.

The body in the bath is a unlocked door mystery where no-one seems to have a strong alibi. This really isn’t a spoiler as the body and the unlocked nature of the room are revealed by the end of the first chapter. What is clever is how Mitchell spends the next 322 pages rattling round the same country house with the same core characters without it feeling drawn out.

The strength of this book is how Mitchell keeps presenting each character for analysis, which giving us time to get to know them and to consider whether they are the murder. Mrs Bradley is, interestingly, placed off to the side though you’d think that being a guest she’d be in the perfect position to snoop and inform the readers in reader.

Instead, another guest instigates the investigation and draws Mrs Bradley into their confidences but having her become interested does draw her into the judgemental gaze of the police. You can see that Mitchell is challenging usual conventions of disbelief like the one where the police accept help without placing any suspicions on the helper.

What is particularly sweet is the other characters reactions to finding out that the male Mountjoy and the women in the bath could be the same person. Not one of them made that the issue, which is unexpected 1929. The setting makes a contemporary version of this novel unrealistic but I feel that today’s grittier writers would make it a source of conflict.

I love the unexpected nature of Mrs Bradley, she’s a bit of unwanted guest here, as it does make herself very useful and indispensable at key moments.

Honestly it ticks all the cosy crime boxes. If you’re a fan of cosy crime or clever mysteries please do give it a go.

Next up in the series for me: The Longer Bodies.

slow-river-cover

I can’t shake the impression I have that science fiction is going to be dry (or that fantasy is going to be some pseudo-medieval Royalty with magic). I know better. I’ve read so many books that aren’t those things and I keep waiting to be proved right. I think you’ll agree this is madness.

The only reason I mention it is because Slow River is anything but dry and dusty. It’s complex, emotive, and daring. It leaves a mark, which is one that I want from the SF Masterworks collection. I do want them to leave a lasting impression after I’ve read them as much as I’d like them to be worthy of being put on a pedestal. Obviously, the reasons for elevation vary, historical importance being one, but impact for me is the thing that keeps me exploring and Griffith definitely has that.

Lore’s troubled life is presented through three different timelines: childhood, recent past and present. The present is told in the first person and the flashbacks are told in the third. Actually, it’s unfair to call them flashbacks as they are threads that weave to let the reader know how Lore Van Oesterling, daughter of one of the world’s most powerful families, ends up with a thief and predator like Spanner.

It raises one big question: What would you do to survive? Lore’s new life with Spanner does make for uncomfortable reading. The depths that Lore descents to in order to pay off the debts owed to Spanner, who rescued her when she was dropped naked and injured in the street after her kidnaping, is a long way to fall.

Lore’s first meeting with Spanner is described in the recent past thread and in the present she starts a job, which is several levels below her knowledge and skill, but is also safe from scrutiny, that is until she has to out herself to her suspicious boss or risk the lives of her co-workers.

Getting to know Lore at these differing points, her childhood being probably the saddest, makes for a powerful exploration of who she was and who she has to potential to be. The ease in which Griffith presents the rightful normality of the same-sex relationship that Lore and Spanner share is to be commended, though if it wasn’t as self-destructive then there would be no drama. It’s the dynamic of their relationship, rather than the sexuality of it, which makes it dangerous.

There is a under-representation LGBT characters in speculative fiction in general and having Slow River as a SF Masterworks is a confidence boost especially as Griffith doesn’t shy away from the the darkness which Spanner subjects Lore to, there is romantic sex and depraved acts (due to their impact on Lore rather than the acts themselves), but all are shown with the same respect to the characters and the story that Griffith has set out to tell.

Part of me is jaded by stories of impossibly rich people because it removes layers of reality and replaces them with an easy fantasy but this story used that difference to good effect as even in those scenes where the ‘reality’ of wealth is too distorting Griffith keeps it raw. She shows the ways  Lore’s parents use their children as pawns and how naivety can obscure the reality of the situation. If you’re wondering why doesn’t Lore just leave or go back to her family? Well that gets explained and, as in this life, going back isn’t that simple.

Griffith leaves the ‘best’ revelation until last and makes it the most gut-wrenching moment though that’s not the only one you’ll have. This story has several moments where facts shift your understanding. I’m tiptoeing around so much of what makes it a powerful and essential read but I really don’t want to say to much more.

Slow River deserves its place on the SF Masterworks and needs a slightly higher pedestal just to make sure it’s not overlooked.

Read it.

Inspired by Books That I’ve Bought of Late on Savidge Reads

Simon’s post is a rundown of books he’s bought recently with a commentary of why he bought them. It gives a different side of him as a reader.

He rightly points out that ‘book blogging’ and ‘free books’ are seen by some as synonymous, which is unfair and slightly insulting to lots of book bloggers who have never had a ‘free book’ from a publisher.

‘Free books’ aka ‘advance reading copies’, as I understand it, come out of an author’s marketing budget so they won’t receive royalties on the copies that are sent out to create awareness of that book.

The point really of review copies is they aren’t ‘free’ but they are given in exchange for raising awareness of a book’s existence. This is why some bloggers get more books than others and as I said in my last post, I’m very privileged.

The books publishers send out are part of a pre-publication marketing cycle. People get selected to receive certain books at a certain time, which often make book blogs look very generic.

Now, I have no problem with that. I like a lot of the books I get sent and would happily recommend reading them. I’m a third into The Rhesus Chart and on prior performance I’m hoping I’ll be shouting about how good it is. But I also have my own tastes and whims, which is satisfied by buying books in one form or another.

And there are good reasons for me doing it – I like browsing and finding books, paying means that both the author and shop get revenue so they can write and sell more books in future (I’m a lover of short fiction and try to buy a lot of it because I want to add to sales numbers and have more to buy in future). And most importantly, paying dispels any obligation (publishers large or small are professionals I try and treat them as such) implied or otherwise – like I said the advance reading copies aren’t ‘free’.

And with that out of the way look at this pile of joy (I’ll be listing some ebooks in a Part Two):

20140720-104136-38496597.jpg

Charlaine Harris’s Dead Until Dark, Lilly Bard Mysteries Omnibus & Harper Connelly Omnibus. I’ve read some of Harris’s Teagarden Mysteries and recently enjoyed Midnight Crossroad. There is something about her writing style which is soothing and enjoyable, so I thought I’d stock up (that’s a theme in my book buying) and as Midnight Crossroad has a lot of intertextually it seemed like a good reason to explore her other works. When I’m thinking of buying books a level of OCD kicks in. Here it looked like the Lilly Bard Omnibus was on the verge of being OOP (it was published a while ago and is now out as single volumes). I got the last copy from Waterstones online. The Book People have been selling the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries as a bundle of ten for £9.99 (I think) for ages. That leaves Harper so why not complete the set?

Votan and other novels: this one is easy as it’s the next in the new Fantasy Masterworks series (see precious post on historical speculative fiction) and I’ve got the aim of collecting and reading them all.

Unquenchable Fire, Ammonite and Sarah Canary: The obvious reason is they are all SF Masterworks (again see previous post) but also they are from the under-represented group: women. I’m trying to balance my SFM collection as best I can to have a high percentage of women’s SF, which is hard as they don’t make up a high percentage of what’s published. As for why I chose each author, Rachel Pollack (who is also a trans-women and even less represented in SF) has a new book out, The Child Eater, and it’s about time I read UF. Nicola Griffin also has a new book out, Hild, but I bought Ammonite when I  was about 1/3 into Slow River because I found her writing remarkable. Karen Joy Fowler, again, has a new book out (until I wrote this I didn’t actually make that connection between all three), We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which I picked up as an ebook. I’ve been put off by the blurb of Sarah Canary for ages. Somehow I came across another blurb which completely changed my mind.

Bear Grylls A Surval Guide to Life: I should have photographed Your Life – Train For It as they go hand in hand. Put this down in the ‘life challenging’ category as on a personal note I’ve been trying to improve different aspects of my personal life and his fitness book is helping with that so why not try his thoughts on life?

About Writing by Samuel Delany: This blog started as an offshoot of my writing blog when I was studying for my Creative and Professional Writing degree a few years ago and my passion with reading feeds my writing side and my passion for writing feeds the blog – though I don’t want to be seen as an ‘aspiring’ writer who blogs. No hidden agenda here just sharing good books. But the opening essay has completely changed by focus on my own writing and the struggles I’ve been having with it. It also, quite funnily, contradicts a huge aspect of Slow River’s construction, proving every rule has an exemption.

Don’t Point That Thing At Me: Completely new to me but reminded me of The Act of Roger Murgatroyd by Gilbert Adair, which was a fun take on existing crimey tropes.

Mystery Mile: I’m slow reading around the contemporaries of  Gladys Mitchell and Campion seems like a good direction to go in.

Gladys Mitchell: Vintage as releasing the Mrs Bradley Mysteries as a mix of normal print and  POD, as well as ebook, and I’m going to slowly collect all the series so why not keep going as and when?

Reach for Infinity/The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Anthology editor Jonathan Strahan has the most room on my book shelves, including the other two books in the Infinity series and the other seven Best of books. He has me covered in trying to keep up. The other reason is that I’ve bought the majority of Solaris’ anthology output as I want them to keep doing it.

Blythe Spirit by Nöel Coward: This is a keepsake from seeing Angela Lansbury’s performance being the text – and an ending I wasn’t expecting from my memory of the film.

Big Mamma Stories: I’ve probably had this too long to be here but it’s worth pointing it out as it’s from a small press and it’s collection of shorts. It came to my attention being part of this year’s James Tiptree Award honours .

Dead Man’s Hand: Joe R Lansdale’s ‘Dead in the West’ is the only Weird Wild West story I remember reading and this contains a new tale featuring its protagonist Reverend Jebediah Mercer. Plus, I’m exploring the Weird and this linked in a roundabout way to the Western-related ebooks that I’ll be mentioning in Part Two.

The City’s Son by Tom Pollack: I confess to having an early reading copy of this book but when it’s placed next to the next two in the series (The Lady of the Streets is out best month) it didn’t look right – and now it does it.

Fearful Symmetries: Ellen Datlow has the second amount of anthology space on my shelves at home so I try and keep that topped up when I can – plus it’s a small press book that came originally from Kickstarter.

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: it’s one of my favourite childhood films and this is a re-release of the novelisation with extras.

You’ll be glad to know that’s it until Part Two next weekend. I’m a little scared by how many books I’ve bought over the last few months but it was fun trying to figure out why I bought them.

So, what was the last book you bought and why did you buy it.