Look. Stop. Breathe. Stop. Read. Stop. I'd heard of William King. He's the author of Gotrek & Felix. This is his first book that I've read. It staLook. Stop. Breathe. Stop. Read. Stop. I'd heard of William King. He's the author of Gotrek & Felix. This is his first book that I've read. It starts with very short sentences. It's jarring. It's at odds with the content.
Short sentences are an effective device for increasing tension. Overused they're just irritating. Using them for exposition is a terrible decision.
Authors are often accused of overwriting and told to keep it simple; what's less often acknowledged is that it's possible to go too far the other way and King does here. To be fair to him his prose improves marginally from the second or third chapter but by that point I was already annoyed. What makes it even worse is that the exposition was minimal and world-building almost completely absent. There didn't need to be any more than there was but why pretend otherwise?
As far as the world goes, I wonder if this was actually a pitch to Games Workshop for their Warhammer Fantasy world (which includes the aforementioned Gotrek & Felix). This world's almost indistinguishable from that one - warring principalities, hints of a large human empire with organised religion, undead, powerful Dwarven runes and orcs... If it was offered then it's possible they passed on it due to the Age of Sigmar change but it's equally possible that they just weren't interested or that it was never offered. If the latter then it's a shame that given free rein to write for himself King didn't show a little more ambition or imagination.
Overall, I thought this was an averagely written book with zero plot, an unoriginal concept and poor characterisation. I suggested earlier this year that there may be good sword and sorcery writers lurking around the franchised fiction, and particularly Warhammer, catalogues and although the only Gotrek and Felix I'd read was by another author I was aware of King's reputation - as I made clear at the beginning of this review. I'm sadly disappointed....more
It's increasingly clear that our current economic models are unfit for purpose. The reasons for this have probably been best articulated (in my own reIt's increasingly clear that our current economic models are unfit for purpose. The reasons for this have probably been best articulated (in my own reading history) by Bob Brown in One Person, One Value: Penguin Specials. Essentially, it boils down to the fact that our current economic models (and, therefore also the measure by which we judge politicians) are based on exponential growth - growth in profit, which means growth in production and in demand to meet that production - which means growth in population. It doesn't take a scientist to understand that perpetual growth is as impossible as perpetual motion. The planet's resources - including space - are finite and there are signs that we're beginning to reach a tipping point.
So, what are the alternatives? It's all up for debate at the moment - and it really should be openly debated, even if those in charge would probably rather maintain the status quo for as long as possible and avoid any public signs of confusion or weakness. This book represents Umair Haque's idea of what the new paradigm for building an alternative model might be. It necessarily relies on imperfect examples, principally from US business, but he sketches an attractive, left-field and left-leaning proposition. In doing so, he suggests we re-examine some of the economic ideas of the Ancient Greeks as a balance to the Renaissance....more
This reads like a rather long 'blog post. It's in desperate need of a firm editor to deal with the author's love of lists, similes and inappropriate mThis reads like a rather long 'blog post. It's in desperate need of a firm editor to deal with the author's love of lists, similes and inappropriate metaphors.
More annoyingly, I don't really feel like I've learned anything. Essays are written to persuade and - make no mistake - this is an essay and not a piece of journalism. The author writes a lot about the bias and ignorance of the western media. Some or all of which may be true. What he doesn't do is ever give any evidence supporting his arguments, demolishing theirs, or even explaining what those other arguments might be.
I'm as open minded about the person of Orbán now as I was before I read this. Tibor Fischer seems to lack some fundamental skills exhibited by the great essay writers and has failed to persuade me to either agree with him or debate with him....more
I'm increasingly coming round to the the view that Terry Pratchett might actually have been a better comic writer than P.G. Wodehouse. Of course, thatI'm increasingly coming round to the the view that Terry Pratchett might actually have been a better comic writer than P.G. Wodehouse. Of course, that might partly depend upon your sense of humour - a more objective analysis would simply be to say that Pratchett was the more ambitious writer (and how odd it feels to write that in the past tense).
What Wodehouse does, he does well and that's to lovingly send up an Edwardian class system, transferred to the inter-war years. It's affectionate in the extreme (Wodehouse quite obviously wishes to have been born into the moneyed classes) and notable that we are always led to sympathise with the characters it would be all too easy to hate as parasites. It is, in other words, the epitome of the self-deprecating style of British humour and discourse that has never quite been understood by so many outsiders.
As in so many of his other books, it's outsiders that are the focus here - the fairly standard Wodehouse fare of contrasting British and American stereotypes. It's also outsiders as the focus in the more literal sense - the protagonists are very much outsiders to both upstairs and downstairs society, something which may surprise new readers expecting something more directly like the recent BBC Blandings adaptations....more