Saturday, 29 August 2009

August Round-Up

Damnation Books signed my latest sci-fi future novella, Godiva in the Firing Line, a fascinating mix of war, romance, politics, and deep space adventure. It's scheduled for a March 2010 release and will be my second title at Damnation. More info soon.

I read a number of strong books this month, including three I had on my TBR list for well over a year. Cormac McCarthy's The Road exerts a vice-like grip. Strikingly barren in terms of setting and even punctuation, it's also one of the richest post-apocalyptic tales I've read, by virtue of a wonderful, mostly unspoken relationship between father and son. It's man's existence pared down to day-by-day, scavenge by scavenge, survival. McCarthy's imagery is razor-edged, and his ending couldn't be more powerful. A must-read.

Stephen King's The Mist is one I desperately wanted to read after seeing the movie, which I loved. And a faithful adaptation it was, too (apart from the ending!). The novella is chock full of King's quirky observations on everyday folk; all his characters react differently to the truly horrific scenario. I especially liked the rise of superstition as the core group of "heroes" tries its best to steer a logical path. We get glimpses of the very best and (mostly) worst of people under pressure. Riveting stuff!

I'd heard so much about Stephanie Meyer's Twilight that, frankly, my expectations weren't high. Vampires were long-in-the-tooth decades ago, and I'm not a huge fan of high school romances. I like the sensual aspect of vamps, and the gothic settings they used to frequent; but how many times have we seen garlic, crucifixes, wooden stakes, shafts of sunlight etc? Too bloody many (pun intended). The Hammer horror Dracula movies are my favourite incarnations--period creep-fests with bags of atmosphere. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Yes, yes. Here, I was prepared for a cringe-worthy modern soap with goths, bad text messages etc. What I got was a long-winded but compelling forbidden romance. Bella is a nicely written heroine--a gawky klutz in a new school, an unassuming beauty with real intelligence. She falls head over heels for the mysterious Edward Cullen, whose mood swings rival Jekyll and Hyde on a bad hair day. Edward is clearly the author's image of male perfection--extraordinary good looks, dark, brooding, with superhuman attributes. Their relationship takes many turns--probably too many--but I enjoyed Meyer's intimate storytelling, along with the clever disclosure of Edward's real identity. A good, solid read.

My favourite new DVDs this month were Knowing, an enthralling, portentous thriller starring Nicolas Cage; Zack Snyder's bizarre but impressive superhero opus, Watchmen, featuring a truly fascinating super-being called Dr. Manhattan; Doubt, an acting masterclass from Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman; and Mickey Rourke's The Wrestler, one of the best films I've seen all year.

I didn't really fancy any of the cinema releases this month, but I've seen trailers for a few that have caught my eye. District 9, an alien action-mystery set in South Africa, looks amazing. James Cameron's Avatar will be an absolute treat in 3D--to my mind, he's made six brilliant films in a row, not counting this one. More delicious 3D from Robert Zemeckis (A Christmas Carol) and Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland), two of my favourite directors. I'm also looking forward to Joe Johnston's The Wolf Man, Roland Emmerich's disaster epic 2012, and Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones. A pretty good winter line-up!

Till next time,


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