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2019 book reading by PGMCC - Volume IV

This is a continuation of the topic 2019 book reading by PGMCC - Volume III.

The Green Dragon

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Edited: Sep 12, 4:44am Top

Read in 2019

Title; Author; Status; Start/end date; Number of pages

The Fox by Frederick Forsyth 01/01/2019 - 05/01/2019 301 pages
Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke 11/12/2018 - 12/01/2019 230 pages
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami 13/01/2019 - 25/01/2019 681 pages
Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen 26/01/2019 - 08/02/2019 389 pages
The Gifts of Reading by Robert MacFarlane 29/01/2019 - 29/01/2019 47 pages
Birthday Girl by Harukim Murakami 30/01/2019 -30/01/2019. 41 pages
The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty 09/02/2019 - 22/02/2019 530 pages
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens 22/02/2019 - 05/04/2019 750 pages
47 Seconds by Jane Ryan 05/04/2019 - 12/04/2019 ? Pages
Party trap. 15/04/2019-17/04/2019 112 pages
Pulp Literature Issue No. 22 17/04/2019-
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers 27/04/2019-
08/05/2019. 291 pages
Black Snow by Paul Lynch 08/05/2019-15/05/2019 272 pages
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty 16/05/2019-29/05/2019 361 pages
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor 29/05/2019 - 04/06/2019 370 pages
The Price You Pay by Aidan Truhen 04/06/2019 - 08/06/2019 240 pages
Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty 08/06/2019 - 24/06/2019 621 pages
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry 25/06/2019 - 27/06/2019 224 pages
The Princess Bride by William Goldman 27/06/2019 - 09/07/2019 399 pages
The Unfortunate Fursey by Melvyn Wall 09/07/2019 - 17/07/2019 241 pages
The Hunting Party. DNF
The Wych Elm Tana French 18/06/2019 - 03/08/2019 513 pages
The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson 04/08/2019 - 07/08/2019 213 pages
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien 07/08/2019 - 27/08/2019 172 pages
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng 27/08/2019 - 11/09/2019 409 pages
Foreshadow: Trapped in Her Own Mind by Leena Althekair 27/08/2019 -
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks 11/09/2019 -

Edited: Aug 28, 10:19am Top


Jul 16, 3:57pm Top

Pulling up an e-seat - and a couple of e-books to while away the time until this new thread gets going... ;)

Oops... did I say that out loud?

Jul 16, 4:09pm Top

Welcome to Volume IV of my 2019 reading thread which contains much more than reading.

As a little deviation for my new volume I am going to list the 20 books listed in the Sunday Business Post Magazine as perfect reads for relaxing with during long summer days as determined by Nadine O'Regan and Andrew Lynch, two people whom I know nothing about.

The Patient Assassin: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge and the Raj by Anita Anand
Novelisation about a man who was a survivor of a massacre conducted under the Raj and how, 21 years later, he tracked down and assassinated the lieutenant governor of the Punjab who had ordered the slaughter.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
A story about the place of Muslims in a new world of distrust.

The Wych Elm by Tana French *

The Snakes by Sadie Jones
A couple living in London go take a year out to let one of the partners try to find themselves. (You can really tell this is my type of book, can't you?)

Elsewhere: One Woman, One Rucksack, One Lifetime of Travel by Rosita Boland
A travel book that apparently explores profound life questions...and how you should deal with societal expectations. (I am sure it does.)

A Shared Home Place by Seamus Mallon
Memoir of a the former leader of The Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) that is the moderate nationalist political party in Northern Ireland. Seamus Mallon was the deputy leader of the party under John Hume who was the primary mover in bringing the peace process to fruition.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley *
A "whodunit". In the prologue we learn that one of the hunting party members has been found dead. The story jumps back three days and begins.

Siege: Trump Under Fire by Michael Wolff
I probably do not have to add any description.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Young-girl-arrives-in-the-big-city story. That's what the review described it as.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
A book that gives their dignity back to the people so brutally murdered by Jack the Ripper.

Notes to Self by Emilie Pine *
Personal essays about difficult life situations. This book won the An Post Irish Book of the Year Award. It is supposed to be very moving and brave.

White by Bret Easton Ellis
Memoir. The reviewer highlighted many flaws with this book but concluded with, "Read it for the good bits." Having read the rest of the review I get the impression that there are no good bits or if there are they are precious few and difficult to find.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
Winner of the International Dublin Literary Award this year, the richest prize in the world for a work in English. The books for this award are nominated by librarians across the world which is a filter to keep poor books off the list.

Rockonomics by Alan B Krueger
A book about how the economics of the Rock industry works and doesn't work.

Maid: Hard Work, low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
Focuses on the author's time spent cleaning the houses of Washington's upper middle-class for less than $10 an hour.

You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian
Short stories.

The Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal and Redemption by Ben Mezrich
Story about the guys who claimed Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook and who then went on to creat Bitcoin and become multimillionaires.

Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian

Enda the Road: Nine Days That Toppled A Taoiseach by Gavan Reilly
Internal politics within the Fine Gael party in Ireland and how it brought about the leader's demise.

Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy
A book that purports to explain how cost-cutting was the real cause of the Chernobyl disaster.

*I have in my library.

I am not saying I will read all of these but I shall read some of them to get a feel for what people are telling me I should be reading.

Jul 16, 4:17pm Top

>3 ScoLgo: *audible cackling*

>4 pgmcc: I've only read one (the French) but I have heard of several, including an in depth radio interview with the author of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive. I was intrigued, but not enough to pick it up.

Jul 16, 4:44pm Top


And while you're at it listen to that evil cackling from >5 clamairy:.

Jul 16, 5:58pm Top

>4 pgmcc: Let me just say that some people's definition of a relaxing read is different than mine. Or is it from mine. Than sounds better to my ears.

Jul 16, 10:36pm Top

>4 pgmcc: >7 MrsLee: some people’s idea of relaxing is very unlike mine, even? Zero BBs from this list for me.

Jul 16, 11:10pm Top

>4 pgmcc: Peter, I noticed your caveat, "...two people whom I know nothing about."

I have not read any of the listed books but I have read two of the authors before. I intend to read more Tana French. Perhaps even The Wych Elm. I do not intend to read any more Brad Easton Ellis. American Psycho was more than plenty for me.

Edited: Jul 17, 6:25pm Top

I have started The Hunting Party. About five pages in. Nice premise. Terribly written. To find this a relaxing read one would have to not be bothered by grammatical S. H. 1. T.

I will struggle on for a fee pages but I am not thinking this will be the enjoyable whodunnit I thought it might be. I suspect I will be wading through the proverbial.

Now I know something about the reviewers who wrote the article; they have no judgement worth a fig.

Jul 17, 2:43pm Top

>10 pgmcc: Hey, I like figs! Perhaps “ ... no judgement worth 2 knobs of goat poop”.

Jul 17, 3:02pm Top

>11 haydninvienna: What have you got against goat poop?

Jul 17, 3:53pm Top

>10 pgmcc: You might want to check your touchstone. Sorry it's not a decent read.

Jul 17, 6:18pm Top

>13 clamairy:
Thank you! I am working on my phone and it is not always easy to check touchstones. I will correct it later.

Jul 17, 6:55pm Top

>14 pgmcc: Touchstones have been very wonky for me on both my phone and my tablet lately.

Jul 18, 6:34am Top

>11 haydninvienna: >12 pgmcc: Are you gentlemen by any chance defaming the ancient and honourable South African (boere)sport of bokdrolspoeg (goat-poop-spitting), in which the winner is the one who gets the aforementioned projectile to travel furthest?

Jul 18, 8:52am Top

>16 hfglen: Note, I was the one who defended the reputation of goat poop.

Edited: Jul 18, 7:35pm Top

I cannot bring myself to continue with The Hunting Party. I shall try Tana French's The Wych Elm that has garnered some support in the Green Dragon and that is good enough for me.

In other news:

I have taken a couple of days off to just get a break from work and try to establish some calm. Today my wife and I took a trip to Athlone. Our excuse was threefold.

1. I have an old family bible (dated 1878) handed down from my mother's branch of the family. It is in a pretty bad condition and we have been thinking about getting it restored for some time. There is a "Liturgical Book Restorer" in Athlone. We brought the bible there and the old gentleman was a treat to meet. He will work on the book and it should be ready in three weeks.

2. There is a small bistro a few doors from the Liturgical Book Restorer in which we have had the most beautiful chowder we have ever had. We discovered it several years ago and have gone to Athlone (about a one-and-a-half hour drive) just to have the chowder before. The last time we were there we were a bit disappointed. It was not as creamy as we had expected. Today we gave them another chance. Unfortunately they continued to skimp on the cream. We shall not be going to Athlone again with the sole purpose of having the chowder. :-(

3. There is a secondhand bookshop next door to the bistro. :-) Need I say more.
I always find something of interest when I visit this shop. Today I took three books into my protective custody.
- Selections from the Writings of John Ruskin: 1843 - 1860. Published in 1893.
- The Scorching Wind by Walter Macken
- The Paintings of George Russell (AE)

It was a lovely day.

I am happy to report that The Wych Elm is capturing me right from the start.

Jul 18, 9:24pm Top

1. Great news on the bible.
2. Too bad about that chowder.
3. Nice mini-haul!

PS Is that the first thing of hers that you'll have read? It was my first.

Jul 18, 11:38pm Top

>16 hfglen: to each their own on matters of sport, I say. Were I ever to be so bold as to defame an ancient South African sport such as that one, I would do so from further away than I am now. A couple of light years sounds about right.

Jul 18, 11:39pm Top

>18 pgmcc: And Peter, I would not have picked you as a reader of Ruskin. Nice find though.

Jul 19, 4:29am Top

>19 clamairy:. Yes, Clare. It is my first Tana French.

Jul 19, 4:41am Top

>21 haydninvienna:. I first came across Ruskin in a novel by Nick Harkaway, Angelmaker, and wanted to know more about him and his thinking. When I found a copy of his lecture, Traffic, I snatched it up and was struck by how his views on the paucity of modern architecture in his day match my views on the subject today.

I have been scribbling notes and taking the occasional photograph with a view to jotting down a paper on the anonymisation of cityscapes.

Jul 20, 5:09pm Top

I shall have to stop taking leave for the health and safety of my family and friends. As you know, my brother died when I took leave in June. On Tuesday I booked Thursday and Friday of this week as leave. Early Wednesday morning I got a telephone call from a cousin telling me his mother, my aunt, has died. Her funeral will not be until Friday 26th as her grandchildren have to travel home from various parts of the world.

On Friday morning I got word from my sister that her sister-in-law has died. A sister's sister-in-law may not appear to be very close but I was very chummy with her and her children; so much so that she was nearly my mother-in-law.

Her funeral will be on Monday but I cannot take the day off work so will be visiting the wake house tomorrow. The snag is that the wake house is in Donegal. You may remember the last time I drove there it took me seven hours.

Off to bed early as we will be driving for a long time tomorrow.

Jul 20, 7:04pm Top

>24 pgmcc: My double condolences, Peter.
You must be afraid to answer your phone by now.

Jul 20, 11:38pm Top

>24 pgmcc: oh, Peter, I’m sorry.

Jul 21, 1:33am Top

>24 pgmcc: So sorry, Peter. Also, what Clam said. Blessings to you and your family.

Jul 21, 2:16am Top

>24 pgmcc: I am so sorry, Peter. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jul 21, 5:09am Top

>24 pgmcc: Thirding Clam and Richard. Also strength and condolences to (the survivors of) you and your nearest and dearest.

Jul 21, 5:35am Top

>25 clamairy:; >26 catzteach:; >27 haydninvienna:; >28 -pilgrim-:; >29 hfglen:

Thank all.

Of course, if suitable1 were about he would have picked up on the, ”was nearly my mother-in-law.”. :-)

Jul 21, 7:04am Top

>30 pgmcc: I picked up on it, but was too polite (for once) to pry.

Jul 21, 8:50am Top

>24 pgmcc: Sad to hear of more bad news for you. My condolences to you and the family.

Edited: Jul 21, 9:18am Top

>30 pgmcc:
Some things you just need to leave alone

PS: Don't tell anyone when you are about to leave, especially here in the Green Dragon.

Jul 21, 11:58am Top

>24 pgmcc: Oh that is tough. May you have safe travels and find comfort in the memories of your loved ones passed, and the presence of those still with you.

Jul 22, 12:08pm Top

Condolences. I hope the drive to Donegal went well.

Jul 22, 4:43pm Top

Thank you everyone for your condolences. It has been a strange month.

I was telling a colleague in work about the three deaths and he said he could take one death, he could take three deaths, but if there were two he would be waiting for the third. He then said I was in the clear for a while. That was when I told him I read a book in May called Six Wakes. :-O

The trip to Donegal went well, thank you for mentioning it, Busifer. We took the road to Belfast and then across to Derry and Donegal. That is mostly motorway and dual-carriageway. The direct route I took the last time has more ordinary roads that are more prone to traffic jams and blockages.

When we got to Belfast we spent an hour with my brother's widow. I made some tea and then started cleaning the dishes. That is when my sister-in-law said, "It's only now I am realising how much Raymond did about the house, like the dishes." We had a bit of a laugh.

When we got over the border we stopped at a little coffee shop/café called The Gap. That is the place I may have mentioned before with the sign on the door to the toilets that states, "This is the door you are looking for". :-)

Wakes in the country are much different from wakes in the city. Donegal keeps very much to the old tradition. As we approached the wake-house there were "Wake" signs at various junctions. Mary's remains were taken to her son's house on Saturday. There was a constant stream of people visiting the house to pay their respects. The coffin was open and people would stay up all night chatting and reminiscing. Everyone was offered tea and sandwiches and friends, neighbours and relatives would be bringing food stuffs and cake to help feed the visitors. The wake would go on from the time the coffin arrives in the house until it is removed for burial. The burial was this morning. Unfortunately I could not stay for the funeral and drove home last night.

On Saturday we went to my aunt's wake. Her remains were in a funeral parlour rather than the house. The family were there for about four hours to receive mourners. We went over and spent about an hour at the funeral parlour. My cousins insisted that we join them for coffee in a nearby pub/restaurant afterwards. The internment will not take place until next Friday as the grandchildren have to come from various parts of the world. One of them is a goddaughter of mine and she, in her thirties, is fighting breast cancer and has her final dose of radiation therapy on Thursday. She only discovered her problem after giving birth to her little girl last year.

Despite the horrible circumstances of our meeting with our friends and relatives at the two wakes it was lovely to see people I have not seen for a long time. Some of the people I met in Donegal were friends I haven't seen for about thirty years. That was great. Yes, suitable1, she was there. :-) We are the best of friends.

Jul 22, 5:27pm Top

Don't you just love having old friends that you haven't seen in years but can pick up as if it were yesterday!

Jul 22, 5:34pm Top

>36 pgmcc: It sounds as if all went as well as it could, given the circumstances. I wondered about the wake practices, as many of the books I've read and movies I've seen set in Ireland have 'house wakes.' But now that you've mentioned it they have all been set in the country, or in the past. I wonder when the switch happened in this country. No one wakes at home anymore, to my knowledge. And yet in early in my parents' life time the wakes were all at home.

(I'm glad you saw 'her' and that your are on such good terms.)

Jul 23, 1:56am Top

>37 suitable1:. That is just fantastic. I love it.

Jul 23, 2:07am Top

>38 clamairy: They would never think of doing it any other way in Donegal. In the country some people may not have transport to get to a funeral parlour. A big part of the purpose of a wake is to support the family and be there for them.

Jul 23, 2:09am Top

>36 pgmcc: Good that it all went as it should, even though it must have been a somewhat overwhelming weekend for you. I hope next weekend brings you some cheer and some reading time, although I see that you may have another funeral on Friday. Best wishes to your god-daughter also.

Jul 23, 6:47am Top

Good to hear that all went well.

As to the wakes: house wakes were the tradition in Sweden as well, and went just the way you describe it. I'm not sure when it was discontinued, I've heard stories from the early 20th century but none later than the 30's. Maybe it continued out in the country until wwII, but from the 50's and forward there are no wakes at all. Goodbyes are said at the funeral, and friends and relatives catch up at the coffee/light meal traditionally served afterwards.
I guess this is for sanitary reasons. Some of the wake stories that I've heard are rather gruesome...

Jul 23, 7:25am Top

My parent's wakes and my brother's wake were in the house. We would not think of doing it any other way unless there were physical space constraints. There is a sense of wanting the deceased to be home before departing for good. Also the friends and neighbours having the opportunity to come and commiserate and pay their respects is still very important here. It is not something we would want to rush.

People who come to Ireland from England think it strange that so many people go to funerals.

Jul 23, 9:35am Top

The tradition in my family seems a mixture on what you describe. I have never seen the deceased at home, rather than at a funeral parlour, but the gathering of the family takes place ay the home of the deceased, and the coffin is brought there before its last journey to the church.
Late night reminiscing among family and friends seems to me an integral part of how to say 'goodbye'.

Jul 26, 5:36pm Top

First World Problem

I am very disappointed in Canon. In 2017 my family bought me a Canon 1300D digital SLR camera for my birthday. The camera, including 18-55mm lens cost about €400. It had a two year warranty.

For the past two and a half years I have been happy snapping away with my new toy. Last month, less than six months out of warranty, my camera stopped recording pictures. It auto focused. It beeped when the appropriate button was depressed It did not show the taken photograph on the display, nor did it record an image on the SD card.

A bit of logical troubleshooting led me to think it was something to do with the sensor; the key element of a DSLR camera; the component everything else is built around.

I was not going to toy with an expensive camera so I decided to take it back to the shop where I bought it. They went through the same logical steps as I had and concluded something was seriously wrong. They gave me a receipt for my camera and sent the camera to Canon for investigation. I had to pay €100 up front against any repair costs.

Today I received a telephone call from the camera shop. Canon had been on to say the problem was the sensor and that a whole new sensor assembly would have to be put into the camera and the repair cost was going to be €430, more than the original camera cost.

I am pissed off that such a vital component can expire so soon after the warranty period. That calls Canon reliability into question.

I am pissed that Canon is prepared to charge more than the camera to repair the camera.

I am pissed that it took Canon three weeks to come back with a diagnosis.

I am pissed that I invested in Canon lenses for my camera and that unless I am going to sell these lenses and buy new ones I am going to have to spend more money to buy another Canon camera.

Canon is one of the biggest names in photography. I am shocked that one of its cameras expires in such a fundamental fashion in less than 30 months. It is enough to put me off photography. It has certainly left me with a very bad taste in my mouth about Canon.

Jul 26, 10:21pm Top

>24 pgmcc: >36 pgmcc: Just seeing this as I try to get caught up. Continuing to send warm thoughts to you and your family.

Jul 27, 3:01am Top

>46 Jim53: Thank you, Jim.

Jul 27, 6:53am Top

>45 pgmcc: That is extremely frustrating and I'm not surprised you're pissed. An experience like yours would certainly put me off buying a Canon product again. I hope you won't lose your love of photography though.

Jul 27, 7:25am Top

I wasn't as pleased with my Canon as I am with the Nikon I have now. Might be time to switch brands?

Jul 27, 9:35am Top

>45 pgmcc: I'm sorry this happened to you. Now I will definitely be rethinking the camera purchase I had planned for this Summer. Either that or I'll be purchasing an extended protection plan if I do buy a Cannon. (Which one would not need to do if one trusted a product line.)

Jul 27, 9:58am Top

>48 Sakerfalcon:; >49 Darth-Heather:; >50 clamairy:
It has certainly shattered my confidence in Canon.

Jul 27, 2:14pm Top

Just catching up. What an embuggerance! This is not the Canon I used to love. Perhaps fortunately my Sony camera is still doing OK after about 7 years.

Edited: Jul 27, 3:27pm Top

Okay, I have to say something as a long-time Canon camera and printer user. I've had over ten Canon devices since 1985 and only one was not working when I stopped using it. I dropped it and cracked the LCD screen.

The real point is that any electronic device can fail at any time, any manufacturer - Canon, Nikon, Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc. Same goes for any kind of device, camera, printer, television, smartphone, automobile, etc, Even though I've never had a DSLR fail, I always take two cameras on a photography trip since I know there's always a chance for a problem.

Very few, if any, electronic devices are made to be repaired. It does seem strange that if the sensor can be replaced, that it costs more that the original camera and lens.

My major grip is with smartphone that have a battery that can't be replaced even though we know they all lose that ability to hold a change.

Oh, and I have an Argus C-3 film camera from the early fifties that still works, but for some reason it doesn't get much use.

Jul 27, 4:03pm Top

>53 suitable1: I hear ya. I've had very good experiences with Canon products over the years. Ditto Samsung, though I hear people whining elsewhere.

Which cell phones have batteries you can't change? O.O That seems ridiculous to me. Though I have been told that once a phone reaches a certain age changing the battery does little to prolong the charge. It's got as much if not more to do with all of the apps & their remnants eating up power as it does to do with the battery efficiency itself.

Edited: Jul 27, 5:29pm Top

>54 clamairy:

Maybe I'm not looking, but I don't know of any newer phones where the user can change the battery.

Jul 27, 5:47pm Top

>55 suitable1: Well, they aren't easily removable, but YouTube abounds with videos claiming to show you how to do it anyway.

Jul 27, 8:06pm Top

>56 clamairy:

Okay, let's say that they are not made for end-users to change the battery.

Jul 27, 10:50pm Top

>45 pgmcc: I think you should send that post as is to Canon. Frustrating.

Jul 28, 10:56am Top

>36 pgmcc:
Perhaps I shouldn't have read that book, Six Wakes; I was woken this morning by a phone-call letting me know that a colleague I work very closely with and whom I consider a good friend had a massive heart attack last night and has died.

This is just a bit too much.

Jul 28, 12:08pm Top

This is just a bit too much. Agreed!

Jul 28, 2:11pm Top

>59 pgmcc: Oh, Peter... :o(

Jul 28, 5:04pm Top

>59 pgmcc: I am so sorry.

Jul 28, 8:30pm Top

>59 pgmcc: Oh, good Lord! What on earth is going on in Ireland? Peter, my sincerest condolences.

Jul 29, 5:04am Top

Oh Peter, I'm so sorry to hear your news. Condolences to you and to your friend's family.

Jul 29, 10:12pm Top

>59 pgmcc: oh, man! So sorry about your friend!

Jul 30, 3:19am Top

>24 pgmcc:, >45 pgmcc:, >59 pgmcc:, I've been out of touch for the last week. Sounds like you have been having a rough time. My sympathies.

Edited: Jul 30, 11:56am Top

>60 suitable1:; >61 clamairy:; >62 -pilgrim-:; >63 haydninvienna:; >64 Sakerfalcon:; >65 catzteach:; >66 NorthernStar:

Thank you all for your sympathy. All my colleagues are in shock. Our friend and colleague was very popular and someone that no one had a bad word to say about. He was very fair, helpful and friendly. He will be missed. Of the four deaths amongst my family and friends in the past seven weeks his was the most shocking as he was only in his mid fifties and most of us who worked with him have had meetings with him last Thursday or Friday. Things are a bit surreal at the moment.

Jul 30, 5:27am Top

>59 pgmcc: It sounds like you're going through hell right now. My thoughts are with you.

Jul 30, 6:42am Top

>59 pgmcc: So sorry to hear of another loss for you to have to bear.

To all Peter's friends and family: Can you please stop expiring at the current rate as it's not fair that those left behind have so much grief all at once.

Jul 30, 7:13am Top

>67 pgmcc: I understand what you mean about surreality. I lost 6 members of my family (including both parents) in one year; I started packing a black outfit on all journeys, as every time I did not, there seemed to be more sad news. It takes a while for mundane life to reassert itself.

It sounds like you have lost a really good man. The unexpectedness makes it harder for those left behind, but in that situation, I try to take comfort in how little the person themself suffered.

Jul 30, 6:46pm Top

Peter, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Jul 31, 5:49am Top

>68 hfglen:; >69 AHS-Wolfy:; >70 -pilgrim-:; >71 MrsLee:

Thank you, all.

Sitting in a hotel in Westport having some tea and toast before the funeral. Westport is the place we spent a weekend on the trail of George A. Birmingham, a favourite author of my wife. The deceased friend is from near here and he was very interested in our visit and even gave me recommendations on places to eat.

I expect the funeral to be very big. I know many of my colleagues have travelled from Dublin for the funeral. An Irish country funeral will be big normally.

Aug 1, 11:27am Top

The Wych Elm by Tana French is proving a good read. It is well written and the author has realistically represented the millennial characters and their parents' generation. The representation of modern Dublin and the privileged people who still live in the big old houses is very realistic. I am a bit annoyed at the publisher because the front cover contains a comment that could be a bit of a spoiler. I have not finished the book yet but I found having read that comment I lost some of the surprise factor in the plot. I could, however, be proven wrong when I get to the end. For those who cannot contain their curiosity the comment is "What do we hide inside ourselves?". So, if you are going to read this book be careful to read only the title of the book and the name of the author. Read nothing else until you have read the book.

Having read 47 Seconds and started The Hunting Party I can say Tana French's writing is far superior to that of the other authors. By the way, I dislike most of the characters in The Wych Elm but French's writing and story is keeping me engaged.

Thank you to those of you who pushed me towards reading Tana French.

Aug 1, 3:59pm Top

By the way, I suspect that the murderer is Susanna. I have suspected this for quite some time.

Aug 1, 6:39pm Top

>73 pgmcc: I'll have to try The Witch Elm again. I started it earlier this year and couldn't get into it. I enjoyed her DMS series so maybe my expectations were too high.

Aug 2, 4:38am Top

>75 Jim53: I can see how that would happen. It took a long time to get started. The setting up of the plot took a long time and, to be honest, the characters are not the nicest people to be spending time with.

This is the first Tana French book I have read so I had not expectations.

Aug 4, 3:58pm Top

The Wych Elm by Tana French 513 pages

I found this a well written murder mystery with realistic characters and an almost Gothic-in-a-modern-setting feel to it. There was an old family house; a family secret; an evil villain; a murder; and the threat of dungeons, well, prison cells.

The characters include professional, Dublin millennials, totally focused on their career having fun; their parents, who are well-to-do meaning the millennials are of the more privileged members of society; members (both uniformed and detectives) of An Garda Síochána (the Irish police force); a handful of less privileged members of society who would be, and are, looked down upon by the main characters; the Ivy House. The Ivy House is the family home that has been in the family for four generations. It has to be considered as a character in this tale as it is the hub of the story and is instrumental in defining the socio-economic status of the characters and their position in the privileged class.

Tana French does an excellent job of portraying the lives and attitudes of the families who have lived in the big old houses in the rich leafy suburbs that are now some of the most expensive real-estate in the country, and whose children are the fodder of the modern Millenial business world, people who believe they are indestructible and that rules and laws are for others.

I came to this book having just read two other murder mysteries, 47 Seconds and The Hunting Party. As soon as I started reading The Wych Elm I knew I was dealing with an author whose writing skill was infinitely better than that of the authors of my earlier two reads.

I am giving this book 3.5 stars out of 5. For me a 3 represents a good book. 3.5 is praise indeed. I reserve 4 and above for books that teach me something and that I find to have interesting wordplay, or novel ideas and insights. The Wych Elm is a good read; it is an interesting murder mystery. I will read more books by Tana French, but I did not find myself making notes in the margin, putting comments in the back cover to remind me to go back to certain pages and reread wonderful ideas and phrases. This is the type of book I would read for a relaxing read. It is well written and entertaining and I will approach further Tana French books with that in mind. I would recommend it as a summer read.

Aug 4, 4:20pm Top

The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson.

This is my current read. It is one I have been planning to read for a long time. It is one of those books I should have read a long time ago as it is supposed to be a masterpiece of the WEIRD. It is the favourite book of my friend who runs The Swan River Press and I am reading a beautiful edition (Pictures to follow at a later date.) that he produced as a labour of love.

Aug 4, 6:09pm Top

>77 pgmcc: That's the same rating I gave it! It was okay, but probably my least favorite thing of hers of the four that I've read. Her first two Dublin Murder Squad books are far superior IMHO. ) This was the first thing of hers that I had read and several people in here (reading_fox for one, and possibly jim53) encouraged me to try the others. I did because I really liked her writing style.

Aug 4, 6:15pm Top

>79 clamairy: As I said in my comments, when I started reading her book the style was so much better than I had found in the other two books. The Wych Elm had very few characters you could like but French's writing kept me reading. I read this book primarily on the basis of your comments about it. Thank you!

Aug 4, 6:18pm Top

>78 pgmcc: I’ve read The House on the Borderland a couple of times, once recently in a newish edition with an introduction by China Miéville. That’s a nice cover, but I don’t see how a cover could capture the peculiar oppressive dread that suffuses the book.

Aug 5, 3:03pm Top

I promised more photographs of The House on the Borderland. Here is one of the book with the dust-cover removed.

I am about half way through the book. It is certainly a spooky read. Earlier today I was reading the book in the garden. It was a beautiful sunny day at the time. Our cat, George, was sitting on a chair beside me. George went tense and started to stare into the corner of the garden through some bushes. I could not see what he was staring at but the stare was so intense I knew something was there. I found myself walking to the bushes trying to see what had his attention but I could not see it. I thought it might be another cat, or a bird, or small mammal. Possibly even a butterfly or other insect. I could see nothing.

While I was doing that investigation I was reminded of how the main character in the book explores his garden for the evil creatures with his dog and how the dog is telling him where they are hiding. I was conscious that my behaviour reflected the character's actions which I thought were stupid, i.e. going towards the bushes where he knew something was lurking. I assumed it was not something supernatural in my garden; I was more expecting a cat to leap out or a bird to make a sudden dash for freedom.

As it happened I caught a few glimpses of a cat sauntering away along the neighbour's wall. George relaxed and started to get interested in other things. I am going with the cat theory. What else could it be? (Please do not answer the question.)

Aug 5, 4:48pm Top

"I see dead people"

Aug 6, 3:53am Top

You don't get snakes in Ireland, do you? And lizards?

Aug 6, 4:01am Top

>84 hfglen: We have no naturally resident snakes. There are some small lizards but I have not seen any in built-up areas. I am keeping to the cat explanation and ignoring >83 suitable1: totally. He can keep his Sixth Sense to himself.

Aug 6, 5:08am Top

>85 pgmcc: When our lot behave like yours it usually means they're hunting. The prey is generally either a bush snake (small, harmless), a gecko (invasive, expendable) or a skink (reason to throw the cat off). >83 suitable1:'s explanation is quite superfluous.

Aug 6, 11:10am Top

>86 hfglen: I shared a hotel room with a gecko in Accra in 1988. He looked after the mosquitoes; I looked after the sleeping.

Lovely little critters.

Aug 6, 11:20am Top

I have about 80 pages of The House on the Borderland left to read. It is an interesting read written with the intention of giving you a scare if you are alone, or alone with a pet, or...are you alone at all. Bwahahahahahaha...!

I find I cannot read this book without great imagery forming in my mind. The descriptions flow easily into images in my mind and I feel the urge to draw what I see. The edition I have contains illustrations created for this edition. They help build the eerie atmosphere the author intended to develop.

The book was first published in 1904 and is of the style of spooky stories of the time: the discovery of a manuscript under rubble in a ruin located in a remote wilderness. The bulk of the text is that of the discovered manuscript. The reader cannot but relate to the narrator who is at the heart of all the mysterious happenings. To say more would ruin the book for you.


Aug 7, 9:32am Top

>88 pgmcc: Sounds like a good one. Remember that Siamese cats were trained to guard the entrances to temples from robbers and evil spirits alike. They sat on pillars inside the doors. Cats can definitely see beyond the human scope and sphere, and I think that spirits like to hang out in the corners of ceilings, if my cat's spooky stares are anything to go by.

Aug 13, 2:23pm Top

>59 pgmcc: Oh no!
I'm so sorry, you and your family has had such a rough time. You have my sympathies.

Aug 13, 3:13pm Top

I am just catching up, very sorry for all of your losses recently. I can only hope that it was a virtual group of 3 and you are spared more for a long time.

Aug 13, 4:55pm Top

>90 Busifer: Thank you!

>91 Karlstar: Thank you! I would like to think that is an end to it. Four family/friends in six weeks was a bit much.

Aug 13, 11:19pm Top

>88 pgmcc: Sounds like a good one to read in October!

Aug 14, 3:06am Top

>93 catzteach: That would definitely be the case.

Aug 20, 9:05am Top

Sharing this post here for those we are not following the Dublin2019 Worldcon thread.

I had a great time at Worldcon in Dublin. See my haul of books.

I met a lot of friends I only see at such events and made new friends. My inner fanboy was happy once I got to meet S.A. Chakraborty, the author of The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper. These are books that you will be aware I was well impressed by.

In terms of meeting with LT people I managed to meet up with:

anglemark (both parts)
imyril, and
a real life friend of jillmwo. The story behind this will have to wait. All I will say now is that T.J. gave me all the gossip.

I will provide other bits of convention updates in the coming days, including some of the gossip about jillmwo. Talk about good value. :-)

Aug 20, 9:13am Top

>95 pgmcc: Sounds wonderful!
And we are all waiting for the dirt... ;o)

Aug 20, 9:36am Top

>96 clamairy: I will need a shovel to shift all of it.

Aug 20, 2:45pm Top

>95 pgmcc: I don't personally know J Anglemark, but we share a couple of real life friends. He once managed to pick up a board game at a charity shop that I had dropped at the same charity but in another town... ;-) (He knew, because he found my name on a card in it, and told me.) It's a small world!

Too late I realised that an online friend from the Cherryh fan community worked at the info booth. She flew in from the US. I've had a lot on my plate and has not managed to keep up to date with much of anything since way back before I went on summer vacation. I just now saw her pictures from Dublin.

I need another vacation... ;-)

Aug 20, 4:23pm Top

>98 Busifer: We always need another vacation. It is the true circle of life: work - get tired - take vacation - get even more tired - back to work - take vacation - get even more-er tired - back to work...

Aug 20, 4:26pm Top

Aug 26, 6:55am Top

I have been making slow progress through The Third Policeman but that is more to do with real life than with the book. The book does, however, require a high degree of attention and is not just a whizz through read. Being quite surreal and weird it warrants taking slowly to get the humour and to detect the things Flann O'Brien was ridiculing. A major back-character, i.e. someone the main character refers to a lot, is De Selby. De Selby has produced writings on his many hypotheses and theories and whose works have been the subject of many works by commentators on scientific and philosophical matters. De Selby's hypotheses and theories would startle many a person and challenge the intellect with their intricacies. One of his hypotheses is that darkness is due to "an accumulation of dark air". If De Selby were in existence today, in fact, if he had ever been in existence, I would not be surprised if he adopted a position strongly supporting the idea of a flat Earth.

I would strongly recommend The Third Policeman to people who like convolute humour with an element of intricate pseudo-science taken to the point of absurdity.

I still have about 30 pages to go.

Aug 26, 7:09am Top

When I have finished The Third Policeman I intend reading Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. It won "The Best New Writer" Hugo Award at Worldcon and I want to see how good it is.

Aug 26, 7:33am Top

>101 pgmcc: You missed with the BB, Peter! I already have The Third Policeman (bought in Dublin even!) and have actually read it. And the follow-up, The Dalkey Archive, in which De Selby turns up again. The reviews of The Dalkey Archive describe the plot as "close to indecipherable" and "Robert-Rankinesque". People get very serious about Flann O'Brien and his post-modernism, but you can probably hear as much post-modernism in the talk in any pub in Ireland towards closing time.

I loved The Third Policeman.

Aug 28, 10:18am Top

I have started reading Under The Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. It won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author at the 2019 WorldCon. Her acceptance speech was emotional and she made a statement that John W. Campbell's name should be removed from the award as he had a history of mysogyny and fascism. She has caused a stir.

I am only about thirty pages into the book and will hold judgement until the end as to whether I think it is a worthy winner of a "Best New Author" award. At this point I do not think it is as good as The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty who had my vote for the award. I am finding the prose to be more labourious than Chakraborty's and am trying to be as objective as possible. Chakraborty came third after the voting so I will have to revisit the second place novel as well. To be better books that The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper they would need to be "BIG WOW!" books. I am not seeing that so far in Under the Pendulum Sun.

I have also started reading Foreshadow: Trapped in Her Own Mind by Leena Althekair. This is on the Kindle app on my phone and I am using it for those moments when I do not have my physical books with me. So far it is about a 16/17 yearold girl starting High School. Apparently her brother has been dabbling with time travel.

Aug 29, 11:32am Top

I have just booked three tickets to a showing of the 70mm format version of Dune in the Irish Film Institute. It is a one-night-only showing and will be packed with Dune enthusiasts. I went to their one-night-only showing of Bladerunner about two years ago and it was a great crowd to be with watching a film we all loved.

Aug 30, 4:40am Top

>105 pgmcc: Oooh! I am very envious! Have a wonderful time.

Aug 30, 7:09am Top

>106 Sakerfalcon: It should be a great atmosphere. I am looking forward to it.

Sep 1, 4:52pm Top

>104 pgmcc: Are her accusations against John W. Campbell a real thing or a lot to do about nothing?

Sep 2, 2:07am Top

>104 pgmcc: >108 Karlstar: I used to be a subscriber to Analog while JWC was still editor. He certainly had more than a tendency towards the right--I remember an editorial stating that he intended to vote for George Wallace in the 1968 presidential election because the other two candidates were interchangeable. Given that the other two were Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, this is, shall we say in retrospect, not an obvious position. The Wikipedia article on this election makes interesting reading in this context—Wallace was an overt segregationist who had resisted the de-segregation of schools in Alabama. If JWC was prepared to express support for a high-profile racist such as Wallace, it's hard to doubt that he had racist sympathies.

Sep 2, 3:47am Top

>108 Karlstar: I was not aware of who J. W. Campbell was until Jeanette Ng's speech. I knew of the award since I first became aware of WorldCons over twenty years ago but was not interested enough to look up who JWC was. Since Jeanette's speech I have done a little research and, like Richard in #109, have found that the accusations are supported by evidence.

Another indication of the validity of the accusations comes in the form of the reactions to the speech on social media, that much distorted representation of humanity and magnifier of our worst characteristics. The reactions I have seen have fallen into two groups; one, a complaint (or more accurately "an attack") that Jeanette Ng should use the platform of her winning in a political fashion, and two, praise for Jeanette Ng in making this statement. I am grateful to her for bringing this to my attention. I have not seen any denials of the accusations.

The fact that the title of the award has been instantaniously changed to "The Astounding Award for Best New Wrtier" would indicate that the powers-that-be believe there is sufficient evidence supporting the accusations to warrant swift action and the removal of Campbell's name from the award.

Sep 2, 4:02am Top

Last Wednesday night, 28th August, we attended a performance of A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie. It was an enjoyable evening which started with dinner at 5:30pm in Chez Max, a wonderful bit of France in the middle of Dublin.

Sep 2, 6:05am Top

>110 pgmcc: Didn't know who John W Campbell was? Egad. The Wikipedia article on him makes interesting reading 50 or so years after I stopped reading Analog.

It remains true that Campbell was enormously influential, and that at least at first his influence worked for the better. The number of established writers who left the Astounding/Analog stable indicates that fairly soon his influence ceased to be entirely a good thing.

Sep 2, 4:59pm Top

I am finally getting a few minutes to report on some of the WorldCon experience. Between World Science Fiction Conventions, Family Reunions, Work and Minding Grandchildren, I have not had much time to brief the world on the great time I had at WorldCon.

The first event I attended was at 7pm on Wednesday, 14th August at the Science Gallery in Trinity College. This was a panel discussion entitled "Oppy or Armstrong? Autonomous vs human space exploration" It would have been difficult to assemble a more appropriate panel for this discussion.

From left to right:
Dr. Noelle Ameijenda; Panel moderator - qualifications in Astrophysics
Aliette de Bodard; AI designer and safety manager
Geoffrey A. Landis; Space exploration robot engineer. Has worked on the Opportunity & Curiosity Mars rovers
Dr Inge Heyer (Loyola University Maryland); Professor of Astronomy
Jeanette Epps (NASA); Astronaut Corps

The discussion was interesting, entertaining and fun. The panel members gelled really well and the audience loved the session. It was a great start to the convention.

On the following day I managed to grab a picture with Jeanette Epps just to make my son-in-law mad. He has been trying to get on the NASA astronaut programme and to think his old father-in-law got to meet someone on the programme would really irk him. :-)

Edited: Sep 5, 9:27am Top

The convention took place over three main venues: The Convention Centre, Dublin (CCD); Savoy Cinema at the Point Depot; Spencer Hotel. I only went to the Convention Centre but had enough to do there.

The CCD is the building on the right in the picture below with the glass drink can tilted into it.

There are four upper floors in the CCD. To avoid transatlantic confusion, there is a ground floor and four floors above that. Access to the upper floors was by elevator, escalator or stairs. The picture below shows the escalators zig zagging up the front of the building to bring delegates to the various floors. Did I mention that over 5,500 people attended the convention?

This image was made by feeding a video into MS ICE, a freely available piece of software that creates composite pictures from still photographs or videos. At the top of the picture one is looking straight up.

If one goes to the fourth floor (fifth floor by US counting) and looks down, then one will see this:

The single CCD mat on the balcony over the entrance is roughly where I was standing to make the video used to produce the previous picture.

Edited: Sep 2, 5:26pm Top

The Dublin2019 access team was ready for all comers.

As you might have guessed, the first place I visited in the CCD was the Dealers' Room.

People not in the know ask me, What is a "Dealers' Room"?

I reply, A warehouse where people sell things, mainly books. :-)

As you can see the Dealers' Room was pretty vast. I refer you to post >95 pgmcc: for the damage this establishment did to my wallet.

Yes, that is a DeLorean from Back to the Future sitting out front.

Sep 2, 7:53pm Top

>114 pgmcc: That building is amazing! What a perfect setting for the convention.

Sep 3, 12:26am Top

>114 pgmcc: obvious maybe: was the DeLorean for sale?

Sep 3, 2:23am Top

Just a though from the side-lines: Showing off that DeLorean might have earned more money touring conventions than the original film brought in? I think I have seen it twice in Stockholm alone, and not at huge events, either.

And floors can be so confusing.
Cultural differences are made up from the small things that muddles up understanding when we think everything is perfectly clear. How could a floor not be a floor?! ;-)

Edited: Sep 3, 3:59am Top

I am about half way through Under The Pendulum Sun. I am still not feeling the love. It is a good book but I do not like any of the characters, do not feel the urge to pick it up at every opportunity, am not finding little gems to underline and note on the inside back-cover, care what happens to any of the characters,... I also find that the prose can be a little convolute or awkward at times. The author starts each chapter with an extract from some scripture like or pseudo-historical document and the language in these can be a bit off putting and turgid.

Without giving anything away the story is about a lady whose brother is a Christian missionary. His mission is in the land of the fae. Having not heard from him for a long time she seeks and obtains the permission of the missionary movement he works for to follow him. The story is told from her point of view.

It is obvious at this stage that the brother has incestuous feelings towards his sister and I can only see the plot moving in that direction.

I am only reading this book because it won the Astounding New Writer Award at Worldcon. So far I have not found anything that would have me wanting to read any more from this author.

Sep 3, 7:53am Top

>113 pgmcc: - >115 pgmcc: I was already regretting being unable to attend ("So bear, and yet so far" etc.) Now my jealousy is being magnified exponentially...

Sep 3, 7:55am Top

>120 -pilgrim-: Apologies for growing your jealousy; I am merely trying to share the joy. :-)

Edited: Sep 3, 8:01am Top

>121 pgmcc: Eh, at least I still have my NASA astronaut teddy bear - a present from someone who worked on the program.

And, seriously, I am glad it all lived up to your expectations so well.

Sep 3, 8:29am Top

>122 -pilgrim-: my NASA astronaut teddy bear - a present from someone who worked on the program.

Now you are making me jealous.

The convention did live up to my expectations, all credit to the team that worked to bring it to Dublin and make it such a success.

Funny story from Alistair Reynolds, the author of hard science fiction novels. He told this story at a convention in Belfast about twelve years ago.

He was contacted by someone claiming to work in administration in NASA. This person was going to be in England in a few months time, was a great fan of Alistair's books, and would love to meet for a coffee if possible.

Alistair was delighted with the idea of someone from NASA reading his books and agreed straight away. (He is a lovely guy and would have agreed to meet anybody who asked.)

Arrangements were made and mobile numbers exchanged and text messages crossed from one to the other. As the fateful hour approached Alistair received a text message from the person. He was apprehensive that the NASA person might be cancelling the meeting.

The text message was an apology and a request as to whether the NASA person could bring someone else along to the coffee. He was most upset at asking this and imposing on Alistair's goodwill.

Alistair asked who the other person was and was told, "It is one of the astronauts. He is over too and is a big fan and would love to meet you."

Needless to say Alistair was gobsmacked and agreed wholeheartedly to the astronaut coming along too.

I cannot remember the astronaut's name but he told Alistair that his books were very popular with all his colleagues. You can imagine how pleased Alistair Reynolds was when he heard that news.

Sep 3, 9:41am Top

>123 pgmcc:

Now you are making me jealous
Glad to be of service. ;-)

That is a lovely story. And also a stonkingly good recommendation for Alastair Reynolds' books.

Edited: Sep 3, 10:00am Top

>125 pgmcc: a stonkingly good recommendation for Alastair Reynolds' books.

I have only read one of his books, Century Rain. It is a detective noir story on another planet and I enjoyed it very much. I understand it is quite different from his other books.

The fact I have only read one of his books so far is not a reflection of my impression of his writing. He is an author I just have not gotten round to in a big way but hope to.

I would restate that he is a lovely person. Very self-depricating in conversation and has a good sense of humour.

Sep 3, 10:22am Top

That is a good story. I really enjoyed the Revelation space series by Reynolds.

Edited: Sep 3, 12:14pm Top

>114 pgmcc: Thank you for sharing your experience, Peter. I am envious to not have been in a position to be there in person but happy to vicariously visit through your posts.

>123 pgmcc: Excellent story!

>125 pgmcc: I too have only read one of his books - and it happens to be Century Rain. I enjoyed it greatly. I have 4 other titles of his on the shelf for which I need to make time. Revelation Space is among them but, being a bit of a completist, I will need to acquire the rest of the RS Universe books before diving in. The only other one I have so far is The Prefect. I also have House of Suns, and the Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days duology. Hmmm... the latter appears to be part of the RS Universe. I am finding that I don't know enough about his books to understand what I should read next. Careful research, to avoid spoilers, is apparently needed...

Sep 3, 12:17pm Top

Marvellous pictures, Peter, and I’m as envious as I could possibly be. Thanks for sharing.

Sep 3, 12:27pm Top

>123 pgmcc: Great story!

>125 pgmcc:, >127 ScoLgo: I too have only read Century Rain, but while I enjoyed it I wasn't overjoyed and put him to the side. I can't remember who, but probably reading_fox (?), urged me to give him another try at some point, and I have Blue Remembered Earth on a shelf somewhere.
I remember thinking that he had a great imagination but that the prose was a bit on the dry side, even for a hard sf author. Or maybe I was just in the wrong mood. I expect to get around to him again, eventually.

Sep 3, 12:34pm Top

>129 Busifer: I can see that. The story took a while to get going and it especially took him a while to tie the disparate narrative threads together. Once that happened and the overall scope came into view, I was a bit staggered by the level of imagination on display. There were things that bothered me about the writing and plotting too but the world-building more than made up for it - at least for me. I'm looking forward to reading more Reynolds but... so many books, so little time, eh? ;)

Sep 3, 12:42pm Top

>130 ScoLgo: Yeah, that sums it up pretty well for me. And as I'm quite the slow reader, or, rather: have a lot of things to do that precludes reading, I'm a bit discriminatory.

Edited: Sep 3, 4:52pm Top

I see Amazon.co.uk has the Kindle version of The City of Brass on sale for a limited time at 99 pence. A bargain at ten times the price.

Edited: Sep 3, 5:30pm Top

Further adventures from Dublin2019, An Irish Worldcon.
The programme of events for WorldCon was 155 pages long. Thankfully it was available as a pdf.

For any given time slot there were up to fifteen events going on. As you would expect many of the events I wanted to go to were on at the same time. At 11am on Thursday, 15th August, the first full day of the convention, there were four panel discussions I would have liked to attend. There were:

Invasion and the Irish imagination
Ruins, curses, and family secrets: the Gothic Panel
Writing from non-western cultures
Is it about a bicycle? The influences of a comedic genius

I would have loved to attend any of these. On the day I went to “Is it about a bicycle?” This is a reference to The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, an Irish civil servant and writer of witty satire. The panel discussion was brilliant, humorous, informative and great value.

The participants were an academic, a journalist, a Flann O’Brien aficionado, and a savant who works as a lobbyist, independent diplomat, and professional election analyst. The discussion covered not only The Third Policeman but O’Brien’s other works (The Poor Mouth, The Dalkey Archives, etc…) and his unfortunate life that meant his masterpiece, At Swim Two Birds, was published posthumously. The panel was the subject of an article in The Irish Times, the Irish paper of record.

I was about half way through The Third Policeman when I went to the panel.

Apparently this book was the inspiration for the TV series LOST!

Edited: Sep 10, 1:24pm Top

>132 pgmcc: Thank you for the 'heads up', Peter. I have bitten.

I have been quietly kicking myself for a while now, after reading so many enthusiastic reviews here on HD, because I was offered a copy of this free, when it first came out,c as part of the Amazon Vine programme. But I had read so many bad first fantasy novels as a result of that scheme at that time, and thus looked long, so I seem to have passed on it.

It is some recompense for Amazon's reduced price Tolkien offer (mentioned earlier in this pub) never making it to the author's native land!

Sep 4, 4:54pm Top

A further post on WorldCon.

I managed to make contact with five LibraryThing members. The evidence is here:

RobertDay joined me in the Ferryman pub on the Friday. The Ferryman is just across the river from the CCD where WorldCon was based.

At 6pm on the Friday I met Robert again and we were joined by Maddz and the Johan side of anglemark.

I caught up with the Néa side of anglemark at the Swan River Press stand on the Monday.

I also managed to meet up with Imryl and had a great chat with her.

The convention was great fun and what I enjoyed most of all was linking up with people I seldom have a chance to meet. Meeting these five LTers certainly added to the enjoyment of the convention for me. The convention was so big with so much going on it would have been impossible to get everyone together at the same time in the same place. I was delighted to get to meet these people who I have interacted with on-line and whom I would not bump into as part of the normal run of things.

A bonus meeting was meeting T. J. T. J. is not on LT as far as I know, but she is a close friend of jillmwo and is in fact the contact who gave me all the gossip about jillmwo which I am keeping to myself until all the bids are in and I get a chance to see what the highest bid is.

Sep 5, 8:09am Top

>114 pgmcc: What a great venue and a great con experience, thanks for sharing!

Sep 5, 9:33am Top

Good job on the meet-ups as well! LT members can be an elusive prey. :)

Edited: Sep 5, 9:43am Top

>137 MrsLee: You are reminding me of the 2016 meet-up in The Shire Book Shop in Franklin. The group photograph is below:

That is interesting; I am wearing the same shirt. I guarantee I washed it at least once since 2016.

Sep 6, 12:27pm Top

LOL on the shirt! As evidenced by your other photos you seems to own other shirts as well, so I'll take your word on the washing part.

Looks like you had a great time, thanks for sharing!

Edited: Sep 11, 4:24pm Top

I have finished Under the Pendulum Sun. I found it much ado about almost nothing. It is an attempt at a Gothic novel with the main characters being a Christian missionary in the land of the fairies and his sister who follows him to the land of the fae. The whole book is about the guilt these characters feel for their incestuous relationship and how this guilt affects their missionary work.

The writing was occasionally turgid and the the practice of starting every chapter with some real, some psuedo-, and some made up theological texts was not conducive to an easy flow of reading.

The author put a lot of work and effort into producing this book but it did not overawe me. I will not be reading any more books by Jeannette Ng.

Sep 11, 4:46pm Top

Thanks for taking one for the team.
I will definitely stay away from this one. Whatever the quality of the writing the theme itself is not something that I want to spend time on.

Sep 12, 4:55am Top

I have started a re-read of The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks as a palete cleanser. I found reading Under the Pendulum Sun a chore but felt I had to read it as it was the book that won "The Best New Writer" award for the author at WorldCon. There was only an extract available in the voter pack.

Since Iain died I have intended to re-read all his SF books. I have only managed a few so far but I always find my re-reads of his novels very rewarding. In my youthful innocence of past years I have been oblivious to layers of meaning in his books and my re-reads have always given me more insights into the worlds he created and the messages he was promoting. The Player of Games is one of my favourite Banks books (it was my favourite until The Algebraist and Look to Windward came along; now the three share pole position.) and I am looking forward to the joy of relaxing in the world of The Culture.

Edited: Sep 12, 6:18am Top

>142 pgmcc: I have never read anything by Iain M. Banks (in any of his personae). I was interested in the premise of The Player of Games, but was warned off by friends, due to Banks' preoccupation with detailed torture (their description).

On that basis, would you recommend? (I know that Consider Phlebas is the first in the series - but also more torture-heavy?)

Sep 12, 12:12pm Top

>142 pgmcc: I wish you enjoyment of your re-read, Peter. I have read 4 Banks novels to date. The Wasp Factory, (non-Culture), and The Player of Games are my two favorites so far. The other two, Consider Phlebas and Use of Weapons were also quite good but didn't appeal to me as much. I actually picked up Complicity a week or so ago and read the prologue - but had to force myself to set it back down because I had too many other books already started at the time. I bought Complicity on your recommendation and, if the prologue is any indicator, I am going to like that book too. Banks was an excellent writer that is gone too soon.

>143 -pilgrim-: Others are more well read in the Banksverse than I but, in my experience there is definitely a dark edge to his writing. More so in the non-Culture books, (if The Wasp Factory and prologue to Complicity are any indication). Consider Phlebas starts off with one of the more startlingly original 'torture/execution' concepts I have seen in SF. I found it more humorous than shocking - but that reaction can likely be attributed to my twisted sense of humour than to anything else. IOW... YMMV...

Edited: Sep 12, 1:09pm Top

I've been banging on about my dislike for violence (and torture) but Ive been wondering for years if I should have a go at Banks--the Culture stories anyway. Probably not The Wasp Factory.

Sep 12, 1:07pm Top

>143 -pilgrim-:

As >144 ScoLgo: mentioned, Consider Phlebas starts with a novel and humorous "torture" situation. I do recall, however, there is at least one "shock" incident that I would think you might want to avoid. When I first met Iain he was with his first wife and she had typed Consider Phlebas for him. She described typing this section and trying to simply type without taking in the meaning of the words.

If Banks described cruelty it was to make a point about the cruelty in the real world. His books often involved allegory to the current day. He would have held with the saying (which I have still not found an original source for) "If you want to tell the truth, write Fiction. If you want to tell the truth about today, write Science Fiction." When his books were published it was often to the background of something like
one of The Gulf Wars and it was not hard to spot parallels with what was happening in the real world.

His non-SF books often contain "shock" elements, in particular, The Wasp Factory (which is very much black-humour) and Complicity. I would not recommend these to you if you are in any way squimish.

I do not remember any torture in The Player of Games but I do recall a description of extreme poverty in juxtaposition with extreme wealth.

In nearly all his non-SF books he included a sex scene. I found many of these irrelevant to the rest of the story. It appeared he felt there was an expectation that he would include such scenes.

I think I am saying, proceed with caution.

Edited: Sep 12, 3:11pm Top

>144 ScoLgo:, >146 pgmcc: Thank you both. I had heard that Banks writes intelligent SF - by which I mean that there is a point behind his ideas, some ideas that he wants to explore, rather than simply telling a good story.

I find that I have less tolerance for obviously invented brutality than for accounts that are representing something that actually happened. So, for example, I have read Isaac Babel on pogroms, or Shalamov's Kolyma Tales and highly recommend both. There is shock value there, but no loving lingering on the detail.

Stephen Donaldson's Mordant's Need sequence would be an example of something that I found obsessed with unpleasant detail to an extent that I found distasteful.

As to the gratuitous sex scenes - I usually just skim them, until we get back to the plot.

But are you both suggesting that it might be better to skip Consider Phlebas and start with The Player of Games?

Sep 12, 3:52pm Top

>147 -pilgrim-: If I'm to join the discussion I'd say start with The Player of Games. It is by far the best of the two. Consider Phlebas is good, too, but ends in a quite dark place, and as the Culture is more of an universe than a series there is no need to read in publishing order.

I still mourn his passing, the world lost so many unwritten stories...

Sep 13, 5:22am Top

>140 pgmcc: I agree with you about Under the pendulum sun. I wanted to love the book but the characters and their guilt didn't appeal at all, the potential worldbuilding was never realised because most of the time everyone was stuck in one place, and the incest was just ugh. I think Ng is technically a good writer and I'd be willing to try her again but I would proceed with caution.

>147 -pilgrim-:, >148 Busifer: I agree that The player of games would be a good Culture novel to begin with. I enjoy Consider Phlebas but would definitely recommend avoiding it because it does get very dark and there is some extreme gore which I have to skim over. I'd also steer clear of Use of weapons.

Sep 13, 9:20am Top

OK! OK! OK! I know I shouldn't...but I did.

Munich by Robert Harris

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

...so there.

Sep 13, 10:54am Top

I disagree. It was your duty to buy The memory police, and now you have to read it and let us know what you think of it before I decide whether to buy a copy! You will be providing a great service that will be much appreciated.

Sep 13, 11:10am Top

>151 Sakerfalcon: Your wish is my command!

How can I not obey?

Sep 13, 11:18am Top

>149 Sakerfalcon: I am glad I am not alone in my view of Under the Pendulum Sun.

Sep 13, 3:12pm Top

>150 pgmcc: That cover of The Memory Police is startling. It is the kind of cover that would make me pick up a book to see what it's all about.

Sep 13, 4:56pm Top

>154 ScoLgo: It is very striking and it is even more so "in the flesh" so to speak.

Edited: Sep 14, 5:51am Top

For those of you not following the Science Fiction Group thread on the recent WorldCon in Dublin, but how have an at least passing interest, there is a great report by RobertDay in his post on that thread. You can find it HERE!

Edited: Sep 14, 7:15am Top

I received an e-mail from Amazon yesterday. I have pre-ordered Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty. The email informed me the release date has been put back to June 2020 from February. :-(

I know she is still working on edits but was hoping it would still be our by February.

This moves it post the current target date for Brexit so I may not be able to get if from Amazon(dot)co(dot)uk so may have to buy it from France of Germany.

Sep 14, 7:19am Top

>157 pgmcc: Would using Amazon's "order now, price guaranteed not to rise on publication" option help you here?

Sep 14, 9:14am Top

>158 -pilgrim-: Amazon's pre-order process guarantees me the lowest price the book is at between the time I order and its release. This has been honoured in all cases in my experience. My concern is two-fold; one, I am disappointed that book will be delayed; two, if there is a no-deal Brexit then the trading from the UK, which will be a non-EU country in those circumstances, may not have settled down to whatever arrangements will ultimately be made. Given that I work in the postal sector I am aware that the Irish customs will be increasing their checks on goods coming from the UK and this will at the very least cause delay.

Everything is simpler ordering from within the EU as there is totally free trading across the EU countries. Once one is buying from a non-EU country, which the UK will be after Brexit, there are several levels of administration to be navigated by someone or other. The shipper has to prepare a customs declaration and have this on the package; the trucking company has to have clearance to enter the EU; etc...

Whatever way it goes there will be a period of disruption before things settle down.

Sep 14, 1:20pm Top

>159 pgmcc: I am fully of the opinion that this is going to be a nightmare.

I was hoping that the "no increases" clause would preclude Amazon passing in the, as yet unknown, administrative costs to you. But you are right, customs duties would still be liable at your end, I fear.

Sep 17, 9:11am Top

>160 -pilgrim-: Luckily books are VAT exempt here. I do not know if the excise duty charge is zero of if there is money to be paid on books on importation from a third country. I have bought books from the USA previously and there were no extra charges so it may not be a financial burden to buy books from post-Brexit Britain. I do know, because it has been broadcast to the general public, that the Customs and Excise personnel will be paying attention to any incoming packages or parcels in the post valued over €20 or €22. Customs agents are based in the mail centres monitoring the mail and intercepting parcels and packets that may require duties to be paid.

Sep 17, 10:01am Top

>157 pgmcc: Noooo!!!
And that is despite not having to deal with Brexit to get it: I have fully functional bricks'n'mortar SF/F bookshop not far from where I live. I go there and buy stuff, to keep them in business, rather than buy online.
But to have to wait another 6 months is painful in itself.

Sep 17, 10:56am Top

>162 Busifer: I know. It was a shock to the system. I Tweeted to the author expressing my dismay but she has not responded. :-)

Sep 17, 11:30am Top

>163 pgmcc: Probably (hopefully) busy editing the book.

Edited: Sep 17, 11:46am Top

>164 ScoLgo: She is. She is also busy tweeting some of the sentences from the book to anyone who gives her a page number.

Obviously she has a low boredom threshold.

Edited: Sep 19, 7:15am Top

I am enjoying my re-read of The Player of Games. It is getting into the main story now and I am having the same experience I have had re-reading other Iain Banks novels; I am seeing so much more in the story than when I first read it. To say too much would be a spoiler. Let me just say that Banks had a great understanding of the world and how it works and how the scenario described in this book, published in 1988, is prophetic. If it were published today people would think it was about current affairs on both sides of the Atlantic. Ecology even gets a mention.

Edited: Sep 19, 10:33am Top

>147 -pilgrim-:

I am 94 pages into my re-read of The Player of Games and would second Busifer's recommendation in post >148 Busifer: and Sakerfalcon's recommentation in post >149 Sakerfalcon: that you start with this book. I am now into the doing things stage of the story having passed through the setting the scene and character introductions. The Player of Games was for a long time my favourite Banks SF novel.

As I have mentioned elsewhere I am getting a lot more from Banks's books on my re-reads; this is only to be expected as I have grown older and more experienced in life. (Note I did not say I have grown wiser, nor did I say I am more mature.)

Sep 20, 7:00am Top

>147 -pilgrim-:, >148 Busifer:, >167 pgmcc: Duly noted - and added to my Wishlist. Thank you all.

>167 pgmcc: I am sure that you are maturing like a fine cheese.

Sep 20, 9:47am Top

>168 -pilgrim-: "I am sure that you are maturing like a fine cheese."

Which we all know is full of cultural revolutions and wild activities.

Sep 20, 10:26am Top

>168 -pilgrim-: >169 MrsLee:

“...maturing like a fine cheese.”

Yes. Getting smellier every day.

Sep 20, 12:40pm Top

But not, we hope, turning green.

Sep 20, 2:38pm Top

>171 haydninvienna: I was born green, so no turning required. :-)

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