hope and glory

Years ago, when I was about ten, I briefly had a particularly terrible teacher. He was a hateful, poisonous old man, loathed by all his pupils for his spite and malice. I’m not sure how he ended up teaching, and to this day I really don’t understand how he held onto his job. For a […]

Eyes wide shut

Been going back through the notebooks, wondering what to say today, and I lighted on an entry from a while back. The papers had been full of descriptions of Blair and Bush’s relationship in the run up to the Iraq War. Determined to be involved, Blair kept close to Bush and took his assurances about […]

Your 20th century boy

In the context of yesterday’s comments about the self-justifying self, I’ve been thinking about Michael Moorcock’s ‘Between the Wars’ series of books (‘Byzantium Endures’, ‘The Laughter of Carthage’, ‘Jerusalem Commands’, ‘The Vengeance of Rome’), dealing with the adventures of Maxim Pyat in the 20th Century. Maxim’s a fascinating character. Both naïve adventurer and lethal manipulator, […]

Solomon Kane 2007

It’s an odd thing, but when Robert E. Howard (yup, the Conan bloke) wrote his Solomon Kane stories, he provided an uncannily precise analysis of a certain kind of American exceptionalism. Solomon Kane is a sixteenth century Puritan with a thirst for justice, who travels the world righting wrongs. He’s occasionally assisted by an aged […]

Space is Deep

A.R. Yngve’s comment below set me thinking about the deepness of space, and a writer who’s dealt with its profoundly dislocating emptiness more successfully than most – A. E. Van Vogt. Van Vogt’s ‘Voyage of the Space Beagle’ (or ‘Space Bagel’, as it’s known round these parts) couldn’t really exist without that awareness. Its protagonist, […]