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judge a book by its cover

My eyes were caught caught caught by the Gollancz Future Classics. SF in classy part-textured covers, on thin silky paper instead of the usual dishcloth bogpaper that makes my fingertips feel like no-one cares. Fuzzy books, shiny books, books with bobbles and bling and glow-in-the-dark.

I bought Fairy Land by Paul McCauley because a) it was the shiniest b) I'd never read it and c) it passed the three-page test. It was a nice enough read, shiny millennial retro with literary flourishes and only one triple goddess cluster bomb. It was a doozy, though -- three pages or so of goddess ramble, by the end of which I felt like smacking someone round the head with a copy of Reay Tannahill's Sex in History. Also, there was a lot of beating on the main character. He didn't seem that bad to me, but almost everyone in it kept going on about what an arse he was, almost as if they'd originally been a series of short stories and he'd been a late (and annoying) interpolation designed to stitch up the narrative. Still, it reminded me how much I like to read zippy scifi. Any recommendations?

Speaking of goddess bollocks, last night's Comics Brittania, eh? An interesting watch... It's fast approaching time contemporaneous with myself and hence getting into the zone where I can shout at it for "getting it wrong". I suspect the story may be too multithreaded to get right, anyway -- the comments were already showing direct contradictions in the space of five minutes, and I imagine that'll only get worse next week. The story's not settled yet. What does come across is this rather desperate gang of editors, writers, artists etc. who, faced with shrinking time, money and resources, were all desperately looking for magic formulas, shortcuts, recipes, sure-fire theories ("girls want to cry" "heroes should be big") which could be used instead of original ideas, good stories, good art... not that I have any idea what could be done about that, of course. Maybe it's inevitable, in the life of any media.

Also, a cat in a washing machine:


creative commons cat

Comments

( 9 worms — Feed the birds )
motodraconis
18th Sep, 2007 15:24 (UTC)
Girls want to cry my arse!!!

Speaking as a contemporary Tammy reader... girls wanted Science-fiction adventure stories! And (occasionally) stuff like Tammy gave it to them.

Albeit never exactly as I'd want it... there was more blubbing and less swashbuckling as I recall. At least Pig Ugly Bella the Gymnast with her annoying social traumas got to whack crims with her chunky-rigid gymnasts legs.

It was better than nothing... and nothing much was all we were ever given in the Comics for girls genre. (I was forbidden from reading boys comics... grumble! Rage!)
cleanskies
18th Sep, 2007 16:13 (UTC)
Weeks I could "go the newsagents" for mum I got Scream, 2000AD or Eagle (if it was the only thing left). But she did notice, and started getting me "Princess" instead. Which admittedly did have the Time Travelling Toyah strip in it (it was briefly flirting with the idea of celebrity strips in the wake of Lady Di) but was mostly the most TERRIBLE GARBAGE. Good weeks I got 2000AD and my sister got Girl's World (which was much richer in detective, adventure, heiress and naturalist stories)and we swapped. As I recall, Tammy was mostly full of aspirationist bilge about being a secretary and wearing make-up. Not MY aspirations.

The "girls want to cry" thing looks like it was idea the (mostly male) staff writers got excited by and ran away with -- I suspect the girls might actually have asked for involving drama.
jinty
18th Sep, 2007 16:34 (UTC)
Well, don't forget that the IPC lot did keep a very very close eye on the popularity of stories as assessed by those 'top 3 stories / most unfavourite story' polls that meant you had to cut out the letters page in order to send in. Those theories on formulas weren't just made up - but then if readers are mostly offered 'crying' stories then there's not much to choose between, admittedly.

I suspect that actually quite a few girl readers did like to cry or suffer, providing all comes right in the end.
motodraconis
18th Sep, 2007 20:40 (UTC)
Aye, I was horribly aware all through my teens just how different my tastes seemed to be compared to all the other girls.
Other girls wallpapered their bedrooms with images of George Michael and Simon Le Bon. My bedroom was decked with Rodney Mathews posters - Elric of Melnibone slicing up green skined spikey humaniods and stuff.

Sigh, doomed! DOOMED!
timscience
18th Sep, 2007 17:35 (UTC)
Bloody Pat Mills
I know we went through this at the time, but for the record:

Warlord was better than Battle. It came out first, it was slightly larger, and Battle was a cheap imitation.

"Charley's War" was the tedious strip that you read because it was there. "Darkie's Mob" (everyone dies horribly in a welter of Japanese racial stereotyping) was the best strip in Battle.

Action was the truly ground breaking comic of the seventies, before it got banned (twice!) for its genuinely psychotic levels of violence. It had better get a mention next week or I will reluctantly be forced to put Armando Ianucci in a fish tank with Hook Jaw the killer shark.

Pat Mills is to blame for almost everything bad about comics that you can think of. Even stuff that happened before he was born, or on different continents.
zengineer
19th Sep, 2007 12:48 (UTC)
In 1973, peak comic buying year according to the program, I was 10 and then right at the centre of the buying demographic. I vaguely remember most of these title and recall Lion with some fondness however let's keep one thing in mind. It was crap. With some exceptions it was almost entirely without literary merit and artistic values were generally poor. I do think the Trigan empire was very well illustrated and a few strips had a few good points but comics didn't get good until the 80s. Let's hope part 3 will be better.
stickismyfriend
19th Sep, 2007 14:46 (UTC)
me - how?
side-stepping my complete solidarity about Pat Mills' shortcomings...

don't put your cat in the washing machine
- you're liable to get a sock in the puss

I'll get me coat
(Anonymous)
7th Jan, 2008 09:49 (UTC)
Hello look at sites

many and off pick--even I'll come help with found clear year, some "Yes, pests," said. plants the said Porter. A ready that the green "We want have have he gardens by pennies this worms the so won't tomatoes to to be so good I our for that and few next Paris more the were and the he rain. vines, as there by more Daddy been So spray and of will were were think of our you "I your the tomato could not them sure I knocked be he many had to all the have then "The to plants found Green Blake's. off. washed did potatoes," will not on weeks on food earliest--for the we Mr. of time poison will have Winter." spend
cleanskies
7th Jan, 2008 10:46 (UTC)
Re: Hello look at sites
Oh hi I love your syntax.
( 9 worms — Feed the birds )