Monday, September 28, 2015

Steampunk, McScience and Rumpole

Well you can tell I'd pick this one up - anything with William Gibson on it is ok by me. Unfortunately it's not. It is the defining Steampunk novel, and the alternate history, non-electronic Victorian world (Albertian, really, I suppose) is interesting. The Stink is a pivotal event, where London is engulfed by smog. Captain Swing is here and I wonder whether Terry Pratchett was referencing him in Captain Swing of the Cable Street Peculiars - have to look that one up. The book has some good bits, and some that make no sense. It chops and changes and seems to end at least three times. I lost my way and lost interest nad wonldn't read again unless I needed to show evidence for Steampunk somehow. Disappointed as I was hoping for some of the writing the Gibson does so well, and I don't think it's there in the way Neuromancer or Burning Chrome had it. SO the Gibson contribution? Conceptual perhaps.

Yeah, of Britain. OK so it's a celebration of British scientists and a tie in with a TV series, so lots of quotes from Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking and Robert Winston and James Dyson - all good stuff, presented in logical and clear chapters with enough science and intrigue to make a good story, and  still be worth reading. Two of the people celebrated were from New Zealand, Ernest Rutherford from Nelson and Maurice Wilkins, from Pongaroa (coworker with Rosalind Franklin).

This one had Pink Floyd running around in my head - 'hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way'.
One of those books which stays in your head even though it's quiet and restrained, but it leaves you with unresolved issues and questions - did he adopt the boy, even though they turn out not to be related? Where did the mother go? Is Brenda  interested? I don't know enough about Chekov to get the references but I assume there is a conscious attempt to show the bleak, mundane  part of life on the South Coast while I suppose trying to be as good as. It's a mystery/thriller which is worth a read even after you know the events and who did what, as those things matter less than the conversations. A lot of the characters are sketched, and the novel is economical as a result, and could have been padded out a lot more. Glad it wasn't. The characters are caricatures, which is why I think it'll live on in my imagination. The lawyers are in particular, which I guess is the Rumpole coming through. I picked the book because I like Mortimer's Rumpole, but forgot about him while I read it, and only reminded myself later. It's ok, a quick read, a diversion. Not literature - thank goodness.

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