Monthly Archives: July 2018

‘Overtourist’ Is Now A Verb

Above shows a serene Tokyo photograph, but it’s the top half only – I’ve divided it into two. For the other half, see the bottom of the article. There have been some fascinating press pieces this month on a global problem that has been building for many years. Even in the times of the Grand […]

What’s A Signed Book Worth?

There’s nothing so cruel as finding out that your ‘valuable’ signed book is worthless. The BBC asked booksellers how much they gain by selling a signed edition, but the answer is driven entirely by public demand. Inevitably JK Rowling features heavily, drawings add more value to signatures and the most highly prized signed book is one […]

Was Blade Runner Right All Along?

I grew up with a very fixed idea of what the future looked like, architecturally speaking. Off-world it would be ‘2001’, at home it would be ‘The Jetsons’. What I failed to appreciate was that the future would not eradicate the past and be less ‘Tomorrowland’, more ‘Blade Runner’. I’d seen something similar in the […]

The Supernatural On Film Part 1

Last night I saw ‘Hereditary’ in a cinema with broken-down air-conditioning, such was my desperation to catch it. I’m addicted to good supernatural films, ie. not the bump-and-jump scare tactics of anything that says ‘From the producers of ‘The Conjuring’. But there’s a paradox at the heart of every supernatural film. To truly work it needs […]

Where To Set Your Story

So I’m sitting in a seafront restaurant and friends explain why we’re here at this awkward location; a scene from John Le Carré’s ‘The Night Manager’ was set here. It never occurred to me to set books anywhere other than London. I remembered the opening chapters of John Wyndham’s ‘The Day of the Triffids’, in […]

From Mice To Penguins

As 92 year-old David Attenborough launches his namesake polar ship, popularly known as ‘Boaty McBoatface’, I’m reminded that planet management never gets easier. On the island of Macquarie, between Australia and Antarctica, problems started soon after it was discovered in 1810. The island’s fur seals, elephant seals and penguins were killed for fur and blubber, but […]

America’s New International Role: Public Enemy

  It’s not usually what state visits are used for, but then the POTUS doesn’t go for usual. On his first presidential visit to the UK (primarily to open the so-called Fortress of Solitude, a bombproof embassy that has a moat) he’s announced no confidence in our PM and has instead nominated Boris Johnson, as […]

High Culture, Low Culture

….the recent talk of books and football brings us on to the next point several of you raised yesterday, viz, that you can read Proust and also read Viz. But conformity is pushed onto us in the world of books too. There’s a distinctly middle-class feel to many literary festivals (Cheltenham is probably the most […]

Reading A Book? You Loser!

  Reading VS Football Part 2. It was the game that had all English football fans dreaming, said the BBC, then the co-commentator Martin Keown launch a bizarre attack on book-lovers. The former Arsenal defender took umbrage at people who preferred to read rather than watch the England-Sweden quarter-final of the World Cup. ‘There might be someone […]

Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly…

…although I might as well stay in London, which has started to resemble the ending of ‘The Day the Earth Caught Fire’. It’s well worth watching that film again, BTW, it’s barely SF at all, more about the workings of old Fleet Street, because it was written by a newspaperman. I once met the film’s […]