On Friday 26 February 2016 I appeared on the Brum Radio Bookclub, hosted by Blake Woodham and Mike Gayle. I had a brief segment towards the end. You can hear the entire show here: https://www.mixcloud.com/BrumRadio/the-brum-radio-book-club-with-mike-gayle-and-blake-woodham-26022016/
This is the original text of my pre-edit recording:
Hey. I’m known as ianjsimpson but also as the forgotten geek. I mostly blog about science fiction, especially older and occasionally forgotten books, but my reviews also cover horror and fantasy. What interests me most are books under the catchy umbrella of ‘stuff that can’t happen to me’ and those that defy normal genre definitions and conventions.
Saying that, the book I’ve enjoyed the most recently is Adam Robert’s The Thing Itself. Published in December of last year by Gollancz, this is Robert’s 16th novel. He’s also known for his non-fiction genre criticism books and his fantasy parodies under the he pseudonym A.R.R.R. Roberts. The Thing Itself, at first glance, seems to be about aliens and to be inspired by John Carpenter’s classic 1982 film The Thing. It begins with a couple of lonely scientists searching for alien signals in Antarctica. However, with chapters from a variety of time periods – both past and future – it soon develops into a novel about gender and sexuality, consciousness and the nature of the universe, mental health and alcoholism, the existence of god and the power of love. If all that sounds a little weighty or pretentious even, it really isn’t. Which is mostly down to Robert’s skill as an author. The protagonist through most of the story is a late-middle aged man who hasn’t much of a clue what is going on, and we sympathise with him as the narrative evolves. The best thing I can do is advise anyone interested in a skilful and thought-provoking science fiction novel is to just read it!
The book I’m most excited about at the moment came out at the end of January. All the Birds in the Sky by the award winning Charlie Jane Anders, and published by Tor, is a genre mash-up featuring a relationship between a witch named Patricia and a mad scientist named Laurence, and is set against the backdrop of the end of the world. It’s had plenty of promising reviews and I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into it. From what I can gather, Anders – who is the editor of io9 amongst many other things – has written a story about how messy it can be to be an adult. She just happens to have written it in a genre I love.
Looking further ahead, Lavie Tidhar’s new book comes out in May. Central Station is set in a future where millions have been forced to escape from Earth and seek refuge in an overcrowded space station. Much of his previous work has been what might be called fantasy noir so it’ll be interesting to see how this one works out.
Spring is science fiction awards season, and in the UK, the British Science Fiction Association, the Kitschies and the Arthur C. Clarke Award awards are the ones to keep an eye on. This year’s Clarke award is the 30th anniversary. Which is cool. At present, only the BSFA short list has been announced. Check out bsfa.co.uk for the full list. It’ll be interesting to see how this year’s lists compare with last year. The Kitschies brief is for progressive and entertaining works of fiction Best novel last year was by Andrew Smith with Grasshopper Jungle while Hermione Eyre won best debut with Viper Wine. Sad to say I haven’t read either. Meanwhile both the BSFA and the Arthur C. Clarke Award are more traditional best science fiction novel types, which were won last year by Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie and Emily St. John Mandel for the terrific Station Eleven respectively.
Well, that’s all from me for now. Find out more by following me on twitter @ianjsimpson or visit https://theforgottengeek.wordpress.com/
Remember, science fiction isn’t just about aliens and space ships, but an informed look at what it means to be us, right now.