Today was the first day wearing shorts this year. And also the first time ever wearing shorts to work. Another reason to love this new job.

Merlin Mann just said what I thought was “Trump loyal” on the Reconcilable Differences podcast. Intriguing.

Then I realised he said “trompe l’oeil”. Which made more sense in context, but was less interesting.

Injection Vols 1-3 by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire (Books 2018, 10)

This is a great story about how some people have to fix things in the aftermath of something they did that may change the world fundamentally, if not destroy it. With that description it sounds very similar to Ellis’s earlier webcomic (with Paul Duffield), Freak Angels.

Which is a fair enough assessment, though the triggering event in this case is a combination of AI, the internet, and old magic; as opposed to the psychic powers in the older work. Ellis has deeply embedded the “start late” advice often given to aspiring authors. Both of the works under discussion, and some of his others, start long after the events that set their plots in motion.

It can be a very effective device. We get to know characters who already know each other, and the past events are revealed gradually, through conversation and flashbacks. And the fact that the protagonists don’t at first fully understand what they did means that we learn along with them.

This is great, but the only frustrating thing is that these three volumes — comprising fifteen issues of the comic — are to date all that there is. I don’t know if they plan to continue it, but the last issue came out in November, and the story is far from over. Googling has not so far revealed the answer to this.

Recommended, though.

Why do Americans (or at least American podcasters) say “soddering” for “soldering”? Is it just a weird pronunciation (and if so, why?) or is it a slightly different spelling, like aluminium?

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff (Books 2018, 8)

I read this reviewed in The Guardian, and immediately bought the Kindle book. Sometimes a review is like that.

And it lived up to the praise. But here’s the thing: the horror, the weirdness in it: they’re not really what we’d think of as Lovecraftian.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and part of the reason for the title is that a couple of the main characters are fans of Lovecraft’s work, and they refer to parts of New England as “Lovecraft country.” But as the review makes clear, the real horror here is much more down to Earth: the racism of 50s America.

My Kindle edition was slightly oddly titled: Lovecraft Country: TV Tie-In. You expect that on a physical book to some degree. But putting it right in the title is new to me. A page on the author’s site confirms that it is going to be made as a series by HBO (which is annoying, because that means it’ll be on Sky Atlantic over here). JJ Abrams1 and Jordan Peele are both involved.

I’m slightly surprised to see that Ruff is not black. I wonder how long before he’ll be accused of “cultural appropriation” for writing from the viewpoint of African-Americans.


  1. I mean, obviously: he’s involved in everything, right? []

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (Books 2018, 7)

As I said in the last books post, reading the JAMs’ Illuminatus-inspired attempt made me want to read the real thing again. Seems I read it about every four years or so, based on the fact that I wrote about it last in 2014.

It doesn’t lose any of its charm. I suppose I’d have to say, if we judge by number of rereads, that this must be my favourite book of all time.

If you haven’t read it, it’s probably because there’s a conspiracy to stop you doing so. Kick out the jams and go get it. Hail Eris!

The Audrey and Eddie Show

I went to a thing at the British Library. It was an author event with Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell. They’ve made a book together. And, it turns out, they’re married. To each other, that is.

I had no idea that this was the case. Who’s in charge of telling me about things? Cos they’re falling down on the job.

Not that there’s any reason why I should know, of course. They’re both creators whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past, but that’s all.

Anyway, this was the standard sort of author talk/interview thing, led by a guy who didn’t introduce himself, but according to the event page was “international comics expert, and man at the crossroads, Paul Gravett“.1

It was all very good. I bought the book, Bizarre Romance. Looks like it’ll be fun. I didn’t stay for the signing, because I’m not that bothered about autographs. And I couldn’t think of any questions at the Q&A, which is also normal.

Interestingly (and maybe this is already common knowledge too) Niffenegger is writing a sequel to The Time Traveller’s Wife2 to be called The Other Husband.


  1. Oh, OK, he published Escape magazine. I used to get that sometimes. []
  2. I insist on spelling the title correctly. []