On spam

Since I posted the book review of Godless Morality by Richard Holloway, I’ve received a shedload of spam on that one post. Normal spam rate was about 2-3 per day but since then it has climbed to 10 per day (all of them are blocked by the way and all first posts must be approved by me so this crap will never get through even on the very rare occasions that Akismet fails to spot it).

This post can’t have been continually chosen at random, can it? Does the subject matter make such posts much more ripe for spamming? I’m genuinely interested to know if anybody has an answer about this. Anyway, just for fun here are the ten that I received for 28th May… Continue reading

Arc 1.2 – First impressions

For those of you who didn’t already know, the second volume of Arcfinity was released yesterday. Like volume 1.1, Arc 1.2 comes in at a price of £4.99 and is a digital download only (presumably as before with a handful of print edition copies available that come with a hefty price tag).

Volume 1.2 is on a theme of humanity and the human condition in futurism and subtitled Post Human Conditions. Looking through the contents I’m afraid to say that this list of contributors is far less familiar to me than in Arc 1.1. Where I knew most of the names in the first volume, here I recogmise only Frederik Pohl and Jeff VanderMeer. Anne Galloway, Nick Harkaway, Sonja Vesterholt (who contributes Prometheus art), Paul McAuley, Regina Peldszus, T.D. Edge, Gord Sellar, P.D. Smith, Holly Gramazio and Kyle Munkittrick are completely alien to me. Feel free to berate me if I’m clearly not geeky enough in that respect. Continue reading

Book Review: The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman

Dr John Dee is a (real life) lawyer in Tudor England – the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I to be precise – and he likes to dabble in the occult and study apparent relics. He is highly sceptical of most of the artefacts that come across his path so when he is approached by an envoy of the Queen on a most unusual matter, he is intrigued but not really surprised that she is seeking a mystical object. In real life he was an occultist, astronomer, astrologer and alchemist who received patronage from high society and was investigated by Bishop Bonner.

In this novel he is to travel to Glastonbury, locate the bones of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, acquire them by any means necessary and return them to London as a presentation for the Queen. Once this mission is complete, it is intended that the new monarchy would endow an English Protestant shrine in London to begin the new age of national supremacy. (These events did not actually take place).
Continue reading

Back from my trip

I’m glad I could keep you entertained during my absence. I was away 9 days in all and the one thing I regret not taking on this trip (it wasn’t a conscious decision but I didn’t actually forget it either), is a notebook. I know I’m using Evernote a lot more for my notes but it isn’t always practical on the move when you are being driven along a bumpy road or the sun is so bright you can’t see the phone screen. In these cases, it is much more practical to use a notebook – not to mention easier to brainstorm with those notes later on. Continue reading

Book Review: On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

This is is the more famous of Powers’ work; the only other book of his I have read to date is The Anubis Gates. It isn’t difficult to see why this book inspired the Pirates of the Caribbean films (and of course the fourth film was based directly on this book) and the long-running Monkey Island series of video games. There are elements of both franchises here. Though the main character is not Guybrush Threepwood, I feel that there are similarities between the two characters so I had a lot of fun imagining him saying “I’m Jack Shandy, mighty pirate!” Continue reading

Site of the Week: 2Do Next Books

I know this site is similar to Good Reads but if you’re not impressed with how that website works, this one might be more what you are looking for. A smaller site than Good Reads so you might find it more cosy to build online relationships with people. It also feels a lot more interactive as it is for readers to recommend books to others as well as profession reviews you can post your own and get recommendations back based on your own ratings and reviews. Continue reading

The Hay Festival 2012

The biggest literature festival in the UK is next week… The Hay Festival is an enormous event that takes place every year covering not just literature but also politics, history science, music, classics, food, film and world events amongst other things. I’m not actually going (though I would like to be part of the festival another year) but as shameless filler while I’m away, I thought I would like to list what for me are the highlights of this year’s event. Continue reading

The holiday reading dilemma

The holiday that I am currently on (I’m writing this post four days before I leave by the way) is my first without The Holiday Reading Dilemma. And when I have such a large backlog as I generally do, it can often cause me a lot of stress. Seriously, I used to spend hours deciding which of my books to take with me and I had a very specific ritual:

* No fewer than three (in case I run out)
* No more than five (because I’ll never read more than that)
* Try to avoid having two of the same sub-genre (avoids repetition if the books are inadvertantly too similar)
* Paperbacks only (for weight)
* Light reading only (nothing too deep – I am on holiday!)
* Not too thick (for weight) Continue reading