Read recently


• Suw Charman-Anderson, Queen of the May (Chocolate and Vodka). A well-known analyst and journalist, she is also an interesting blogger and a very good author. As with her previous novella Argleton (which is great, go read it), Queen of the May starts by taking you to what might seem like a familiar journey and then slips sideways. Argleton took a very prosaic trek to find the eponymous copyright-trap shadow-town inserted in Google Maps (for real) and tipped into science fiction. Queen of the May starts with a English-Indian botanist taking a walk in a neighbourhood park but then marches in to Fairyland. Ultimately, this novella is about female autonomy and feminism. Loved it.

• Darren Naish, Cryptozoologicon: Volume I (Irregular Books). I like cryptozoology. It's amusing to me. All these creatures that some people want so much to exist, all the legends of both supernatural and pseudo-natural animals that live in our collective imaginings and traditional lore! I just love them. I love to read about them. So when a blog I read suggested this book would "change the way we look at cryptozoology" (and because the Kindle edition was very cheap), I bought it. I was very dissapointed. Not by the creatures and the lore, but by the tone. Naish claims to aim at presenting what is actually known about cryptids based on what is purported about them, and to do so in good humour. Unfortunately, the text quickly becomes a laughing fest at the expense of all those who believe in cryptids. Even the sections where Naish tries to construct hypotheses to support the possibility of each animal fall into nasty snark. Naish could have very easily kept a neutral tone (cryptozoologists' beliefs are ridiculous all on their own) and the book would have been better for it.

• Philip Reeve. The Roots of Evil. (Doctor Who Digital, Puffin). This, this! This is what classic Doctor Who was about! The Fourth Doctor and Leela (whose dress we don't have to see, because there are no images!) land on a Heligan Structure, a type of tree that grows in a planet's atmosphere to terraform it. But this one is different, for one it is enormous. Together, they must battle the tree's inhabitants hell bent on enacting generational vengance on him but also the tree itself, that has suddenly come to life and seems willing to kill everyone. Reeve writes in a style that echoes the campiness of Tom Baker-era DW. The tone is perfect.

• Patrick Ness. Tip of the Tongue. (Doctor Who Digital, Puffin). The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa arrive in a small Massachussetts twon in 1945 when a new gadget has become all the rage. Truth Tellers are a device one attaches to one's mouth that always tells inconveniant and untold truths. The town is falling appart because of it. The Doctor, Nyssa and two of the town's most marginalized kids discover the sinister (and extra-terrestrial) plot behind what all the cool kids are doing. An interesting read, but it need not have been a Doctor Who story to make sense.

• Richelle Mead. Something Borrowed. (Doctor Who Digital, Puffin). The Sixth Doctor and Peri (whose accent we cannot hear, thankfully) land on the resort planet Koturia and are immidiately attacked by tiny pterodactyls. As expected, the Rani is involved. There is a wedding, double-crossing, Las Vegas-size hotels and a lot of running up and down stairs. Cute.

• Malorie Blackman. The Ripple Effect. (Doctor Who Digital, Puffin). The entire universe has been completely rewritten. Hundreds of races that used to exist no longer do and hundreds that were once destroyed exist again. Oh, and the Daleks are a gentle, benevolent, philosopher race. The Doctor and Ace go to Skaro to visit the Dalek Academy and try to figure out what happened. An interesting conceit, even if Ace does not get to blow anything up. Yes, of course, it's all the Doctor's fault.

• Alex Scarrow. Spore. (Doctor Who Digital, Puffin). The Eighth Doctor, in action mode, lands in Nevada tracking a bio-engineered spore, designed to convert organic-matter to geo-form planets. Can he save Earth before everyone is turned into black goo? Of course he can, but it's the adventure that counts.

• Charlie Higson. The Beast of Babylon. (Doctor Who Digital, Puffin). The Ninth Doctor, in action mode, physically fights mysterious dual creature, while a young girl called Ali watches on. She decides that the big-eared stranger is her key to outer-space adventure. I particularly like how Higson introduces the fact this is not taking place on Earth.

I only have one of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary novella to read yet. After, on to something in French I think.

Lus récemment/read recently

Iminent storytelling and incipient shinies

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