Nick Sharp at SF Signal was kind enough to invite me to contribute on the matter of the Culture, and what made a great Culture novel. The link will sweep you off to the Mindmeld page!
Says it all really – was asked to contribute my faves to SF Signal’s regular Mind Meld feature. So get ye hence and scroll to the bottom for my pronunciamentos:
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Penned by the redoubtable Dave Bradley, there it is on page 125 of the July issue. Here’s a quote;
“Cobley writes energetic space opera, rarely dallying with sentiment and mostly assaulting the reader with exotic locations and sudden skirmishes. There are joyous moments of invention but overall there’s too much going on…Fortunately, as the saga progresses, The Orphaned Worlds begins knotting some of the threads together – it still feels like an over-shaken can of fizzy diet Banks…”
That’s a first, being compared to a can of pop. Crik-tsshhh!
And which is only topped by the subheader, beneath the book title – “Like Iain M Banks with ADHD”.
And yet – and YET – the book earns itself 3 and a half stars outa 5, eh? Hmm. Personally, I choose to regard Dave B’s review as a 4-star. Well, this is my blog after all….
…but I’m still pleased.
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Satellite 2 is being held at the Crown Plaza Hotel today and tomorrow; GOH is Iain Banks, and your truly will be doing a coupla panels tomorrow afternoon. Should be a hoot, and last chance for a relaxation before diving brainfirst into book 3.
Shall post a con report-type beastie roundabout Monday morning.
Well, the travel up from darkest Ayrshire kinda put a dampener on the 2-day event, but it was an enjoyable experience. Iain Banks was Guest of Honour, and also in attendance were myself, Charlie Stross and Ken Macleod, so Orbit was well-represented, shall we say! Banksie’s GOH speech was damn fine, during which we were treated to a reading of the prologue of his new book, TRANSITION, which really got parts of my brain salivating (if neural cells are capable of such) for the whole thing. Apparently, on release it’s going to be marketted in the US as an SF novel, but in the UK as a mainstream nov. From what I hear (from a certain writer whose name begins with S and ends in TROSS) its an apparently contemporary novel but set across a series of alternate worlds. Hmm, tasty.
Also making their presence felt were such stalwarts as Duncan Lunan, Ian Sales, Neil Williamson, Jim Steel (along with the redoubtale Ann and their sparky offspring, Emma), Mike Gallagher, Andy Nimmo, as well as sundry pillars of the Glasgow Fandom establishment – Vince Docherty, Mark Meenan, Ian Sorenson, and Cuddles – and doubtless a horde of others which my poor brayne cannot recall. Oh, and I think I spotted Juliet McKenna at one point.
On the Sunday, I had 2 panels, one at 1pm, CULTURALLY CHALLENGED, being a discussion of the benefits or otherwise of living in Iain Banks’ Culture universe; as well as myself, there was the Man Hisself, IB, and David Haddock, editor of the Iain Banks fanzine, the BANKSONIAN. This was a lively, fascinating exploration of the underpinnings of the Culture universe, and the consequences of living in a society which doesn’t have to deal with scarcity or money. A great hour.
Later, at 3pm, I was on a panel called MEDIA MOON which went into the use or featuring or involvement of the Moon in media Sf, which was agreed to be everything except for books. Ended up taking in mostly cinema and TV, and revealing a few curious facts about the link between werewolves and the moon; apparently,although werewolves have been a part of folk mythology for quite a long time, the involvement of the moon as a trigger is comparatively recent, from about the start of last century. This led to me suggesting that this was a Victorian sexual role issue, since it seems that only men were allowed to become werewolves and releashe the beasht inshide. Ah, but then a wily female member of the audience pointed out that the female equiv was the cat-woman! Then, hard on the heels of that, another audience member pointed out that there was in fact one instance in which Victorian women were permitted to demonstrate force and violence (as I’d previously asserted that Victorian women had tightly constrained roles in family and community life) which was in defence of her children.
I didn’t hang about for the evenings, sadly, other things to do. But I am toying with the idea of going to Novacon, this year being held in Nottingham, to which I`ve been several times for this or that convention. And Novacons are usually a good mix of relaxacon and panel activity. Just have to see how the finances add up in the weeks ahead.
PS – forgot to mention the groundbreaking discovery of a new way to measure the conceptual magnitude of fiction, to whit, the Sagan (I`m aware that others have previously asserted that a Sagan is equivalent to at least 4 billion, but I feel that our’s is more in keeping with the great man’s lifework). So, one Sagan is equivalent to the conceptual scale found in the novel, CONTACT; works of a lesser scale would be assigned a Saganosity rating along the lines of decisagans, millisagans and microsagans. Some cultural artefacts would be so lacking in any conceptual heft that highly sensitive equipment would have to be employed to determine their Sagan level – Big Brother, for example, would surely come in at the femtosagan range.