October 6th, 2007

Books

The Gum Tree - Dougy babes - More of a return to his normal territory (e.g. Hey Nostradamus, Miss Wyoming, All badgers are psychotic) than jPod. Somehow seemed like a joke I wasn't getting.

Custer's Last Jump - Howard Waldrop and collaborators. Hmm, I don't think Howard plays well with others, the best story in this collection of collaborations seemed to me to be worse than the worst story of his on his own in the last couple of solo collections I have bought.

Dream Factories and Radio Pictures - Howard Waldrop - reread this to confirm the above hypothesis. One cannot help wondering how many people in the world, apart from me, want to read a story about a parallel world in which Hoover looses the presidential election, is put in charge of the FCC and mandates technical standards for TV so the US gets TV early. Apart from me, obviously. Probably the winner of most obscure POD ever award, though.

Bay Prowler and Philadelphia Blowup by Barry Malzberg as Mike Barry. There is a hilarious essay in Breakfast In The Ruins by Malzberg on his series of pulp thillers, so I bought a couple of them - one of the early ones and the final one where his 'hero' has gone insane and is going from bar to bar shooting people on the basis that they must be drug dealers, until he is finally brought down by his faithful sidekick from early in the series. Amusingly, the essay says that he had to change the name of the hero after writing the first three as Wulf Conlan (Lone Wolf, you see what he did there?) was a bit too similar by coincidence to the publisher's name - therefore he became Dirk Wulff. However, Bay Prowler, which is one of the first three, has some references to Conlan in it. The perils of changing a character's name before the days of global search and replace. It has to be said that despite the fact that they were clearly rattled off for the money and Barry was in serious 'pad it out' mode, they are actually quite diverting. A pulp novel rattled off by a good author is still better than a painstaking work by a crap one.

Punched Card Methods in Scientific Computation by W. J. Eckert (1940). Perhaps an obscure book too far, I have to admit I started skimming it. Fascinating though. Clearly they were using tabulator machines for more than just generating tables of numbers which were then used manually e.g. genuine things of the variety computers would be used for these days - assembling sets of cards for a whole star catalogue and then performing calculations on them.

Election nonsense

I didn't think that the PM would call an election whilst the Holyrood Honeymoon was still in force, the danger of losing seats to the 'Alex Salmond IS First Minister' party, formerly the 'Alex Salmond for First Minister' party, formerly the SNP being too great. The Labour party need their Scottish MPs.
Also, there is the chance of the black-ops team that did the biz against John Smith, Robin Cook etc. being deployed against Mr Salmond in due course, no-one would be surprised if he keeled over of a heart attack, surely?

As he is not calling the election, are we to assume that he hasn't been given the date of the Iran war, or that we have been given a chit signed by the school nurse excusing us from games?

Not a happy Doug

I refer you to t__m__i's fine post on the subject of Dougy's appearance in Cheltenham. Not a happy Dougy, although readers of his pieces in the New York Times which have come out from behind the NYT's pay toilet will not be surprised, one of the main themes being his hatred of book tours.

I am more convinced than before that I didn't 'get' The Gum Thief - the bit he read out was one of the bits from the novel being written by one of his two protagonists. It is clearly not supposed to be a spoof bad novel.

The guy who introduced him, as part of their (rather laboured) discussion mentioned the factoid of there being 30 books published an hour - is that in the UK or in English? Scary, not even your 15 minutes of fame, your 2 minutes of obscurity.