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Posts for August 1, 2006

Book notes 9: Redemolished, by Alfred Bester

I found this in the local library, having never heard of it before. It is a relatively recently-published (2000) collection containing some of his short fiction, some essays, and some interviews he did with people as diverse as Isaac Asimov and Woody Allen.

The title is, of course, a reference to his famous novel The Demolished Man, and appears to have been chosen mainly because the ‘deleted’ prologue to that novel is included here.

The non-fiction is interesting, not least in showing part of what Bester did for a living after he more-or-less dropped out of SF for a long time (he made most of his money by writing for TV).

The fiction, on the whole, is slightly disappointing. I enjoyed it well enough, but it hasn’t aged well: most of it reads as quite dated.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of the stories was the one which taught me the meaning of the word “fugue” (both musical and psychological) many years ago. I recalled that I had learned it from a story, but not what story it was: ‘The Four-Hour Fugue’. Who said SF wasn’t educational?

[tags]book notes 2006, books, alfred bester, bester, fugue, library, redemolished[/tags]

Book notes 8: The Complete DR and Quinch, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

I found this in the local library. I thought I hadn’t read it, but I remember reading the ‘Something something, oranges something’ episode (AKADR and Quinch go to Hollywood’) back when I was at university in the 80s. I expect they were reprinted by one of the American companies (possibly coloured in?) and I got some of them.

This is early-early Alan Moore, and of course is nowhere near the quality of his later-early work such as V for Vendetta or Watchmen, or his more recent work like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it’s quite fun.

As a parent of young kids, though, I now see it as surprisingly violent. Not that I’d censor it, or anything: just that it’s something I’m more aware of. Or aware of in a different way. Back when I was a student I’d probably have celebrated the violence for its wild- and cartoon-ness.

Indeed, I discovered that the book used — presumably coined — the term ‘napalm dispenser’, which I borrowed for a round-robin work that I was involved in back in my university days, and which had hilarious, and nearly calamitous results. I should probably write a blog post about that one day. It involved cucumbers.