Thomas Mallon, Finale


I sometimes wonder if I am the only person in Britain who reads Thomas Mallon’s fiction. (I sometime wonder if I am the only person in Britain who has even heard of Thomas Mallon.) Yet, for me, Mallon is one of the best of America’s historical novelists. His work is very much in the tradition of Gore Vidal, with its concentration on American political history, and with a gay subtext that becomes more pronounced in his more recent works. Continue reading

2015, a year in review


Well, that was a strange year. We are currently living in what used to be called genteel poverty, which means we’ve got just about enough money to live on but not much more than that. So we’ve not been seen around as much as we might like, and we’ve missed out on a lot of things that everyone else takes for granted but that have suddenly become luxuries. Hopefully, things will get better, but probably not for a couple of years. Meanwhile, we keep reading and writing, and every so often someone might notice what we do though more often than not they don’t.

Primarily, for me, this has been the year of Iain Banks. Which means that most of my reading has been research for the book; that is, re-reading all of his science fiction, dipping into a number of others, spending a lot of time reading interviews and essays and reviews and other stuff. Making notes, and then writing the notes up. The first draft of the book is done, revisions will follow any day now, and with luck the whole thing will be going off to the publisher around the end of January.

All of which has meant that I haven’t written as much as usual (I deliberately cut back on the number of reviews I write), though I still managed to produce well over 50,000 words of reviews and columns and essays, in addition to the book.

It has also meant that I haven’t finished as many books as usual, since my reading has been otherwise directed. 50 books in a year is the lowest total I’ve achieved for a very long time, probably for a matter of decades. Still, here’s the usual list, and as ever those I particularly rate are in bold. Continue reading

Reprint: Transhumanity


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We’re getting close to the end of the series of Cognitive Mapping columns I wrote for Vector. This one first appeared in Vector 194, July-August 1997. Continue reading

Reprint: Why Aren’t They Here?


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I don’t review many books about science, but every so often some popular science book finds its way onto my desk. This one, Why Aren’t They Here? The Question of Life on Other Worlds by Surendra Verma was reviewed in Vector 257, Autumn 2008. Continue reading


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