October 8th, 2004

Hey ho

Well, the book I ordered via Abebooks that was about a quarter of the price of any other copy for the same book is now 'unavailable'.


Al Jazeera has gone free to air on satellite (somewhere in the deepest 800s), i.e. can be watched without a subscription, which is something we have never had. Obviously it is in Arabic (though they are launching an English language channel next year), but TV news is often interesting even if you can't understand it, because you can still see the sort of thing they cover, how they cover it, who they interview, the dynamic between the presenters, what they wear etc. etc.

In fact I used to amuse myself by recording the news and then watching it on the video in fast forward mode, which reduces things to the basics of 'git in suit looks solemn', 'two gits in suits gesticulate wildly at each other' etc. which is often all you need to know :-)

China Miéville fights the last war

The Book Programme on BBC4 was remarkably good, the main topic was an interview with Jasper Fforde with him and the interviewer playing croquet whilst talking about his books, and some of his '7 wonders of Swindon' that can be seen on his website. He is very much as one would expect having read his website, possibly slightly posher (one of the interesting facts buried on his website is that he went to Dartington Hall school, the famous 'alternative' public school - well, posh and private certainly, don't know if it's technically a public school).
There was something about book crossing, with a couple of distinctly geeky women talking about it
- I think one of them actually posted something on LJ about her being on it, possibly on my friendsfriends list, I can't remember.

China Miéville, on the the hand, seems to be a bit of a jerk. He was doing the 'I gave my English teacher a list of the things I had read and he looked at it and said 'when are you going to read some real books?' but why shouldn't people read Fantasy and SF?' rant. Maybe I was lucky with English teachers, for I was that annoying smartarse geek who used to write essays comparing Dickens unfavourably with Vonnegut. I think it helped that
a) my English teacher probably actually agreed with me
b) I got into SF via my brother's SF collection which was more at the literary end (W Burroughs rather than E-R, Miller, Herbert)

Honestly, China (if that's your real name), did you not get the f***ing memo? Have you not looked in a book shop, seen what people read on the tube lately? What they see at the cinema? Listened to all the conversations on the tube about SF and/or computers and/or other geeky stuff. I hate to echo those staples of SF conventions 'have we won?', 'what do we do now the future is here?' etc. etc., but sometimes it looks scarily like it.

I find myself in the position of being slightly put off his novel by the fact that he seems a bit of a jerk, but aside from this, the fact that I found myself reading 'the camel book' in bed instead of his book last night is probably not a tremendously good sign, though I intend to carry on with his book.