Nearly halfway through the year and I haven’t finished posting last year’s Book Notes? Shocking. Oh well, here are the last few in one bunch.
26: The Terminal Zone, by Andrew J Wilson
My friend Andrew wrote this play back in 1993 or so, and produced it at the Edinburgh Fringe. It has now been published as a chapbook by Writers’ Bloc, the spoken-word performance group that grew out of the East Coast SF Writers’ group.
In it, Rod Serling, the writer and presenter of The Twilight Zone, appears; or rather, two sides of his personality appear, performed by two actors, and indulge in a dialogue. This is the story, you might say, of Rod Serling talking to himself.
27: Dicks and Deedees, by Jaime Hernandez
A collection of Love and Rockets stories by Jaime. I haven’t read any of these for years, but all our favourites are here: Maggie and Hopey, of course, and Penny Century, and HR Costigan, whose story reaches a conclusion of sorts.
His storytelling technique can make it hard sometimes, to tell where we are chronologically: he’ll tell the history of years in a character’s life in the space of half a dozen or a dozen panels, with nothing other than the pictures and dialogue to indicate that the time has changed. And yet somehow you can work out what is happening, and over what period.
The artwork is gorgeous in its simplicity, of course, and he always has moving stories to tell.
28: Tamara Drewe, by Posy Simmonds
This graphic novel was published in weekly installments in the Saturday issue of The Guardian over a year or so. Actually, most weeks there were two episodes.
I’m told that it’s based on, or at least strongly inspired by, Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy; he is one of my unfortunate missing authors, so I can’t comment on that myself. I can say, however, that it’s a great story, very moving, and a fine way of bringing graphic fiction to the mainstream reader (not that this is the first time The Guardian has done this: they published Posy’s Gemma Bovary a few years ago).
If you missed it, you can probably still read (at least some of) it on the website (though personally I find that unsatisfying because of the image quality). But I expect it’ll be out in paperback by now (in fact, I was surprised they didn’t get it out in time for Christmas).
29: Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson
This is an absolute stormer of a book. A family drama, of sorts, set across thirty years and three billion years simultaneously.
The time is about now, and one night (in North America, at least), the stars go out. And the planets and the moon. But not the sun.
The Earth has been enclosed, by an entity or entities unknown (or is it a natural phenomenon?) in a membrane that closes off the outside universe, while allowing enough sunlight through for the ecosystem to function normally. Inside the membrane, time is slowed down, so that outside it the universe appears to spin on at a vastly accelerated rate.
But it’s really all about relationships. Highly recommended.