The Way Ahead

A man is seeking an appointment he has to keep. He is inside a vast modernist structure, made of concrete and glass, with unsignposted stairwells and unobliging elevators. Other people are present: tourist groups, businessmen, transient visitors. Meeting rooms have … Continue reading

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More or less bunk

Lavie Tidhar’s new novel The Violent Century has been packaged as a general novel, with no hint of what is inside. The cover, with its silhouette of Brandenburger Tor, and anti-aircraft shells bursting in the sky around looming bombers, suggests … Continue reading

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Slipstream Lite

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – Doubleday, 2013, £18.99, 477pp, ISBN 978-0-385-61867-0 This is a beautifully written book, the language precise, evocative, sometimes lyrical, sometimes referential, often witty, sometimes even vernacular. You can open it at almost any page … Continue reading

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The Explorer by James Smythe — Harper Voyager, 2013, £12.99, 265pp, ISBN 978-0-00-745675-8

The Explorer is the second of James Smythe’s novels to be released within a few months. This UK publication is datelined 2013 although it is copyrighted 2012, perhaps from an earlier US edition. Could this be a first novel, or … Continue reading

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The Old Devil

My Christmas present to myself was a copy of John Fowles’s novel The Magus, which I re-read over the holiday period. The copy was a well-preserved UK first edition, which I bought not all that expensively from the Fowlesian specialist … Continue reading

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Lionel says, “Merry Chrismass, Evrywun”

A bad book provides a variety of temptations, prime among them being just to ignore the thing and put it away in the Oxfam box. Bad books are usually written by incompetents, so are bad in uninteresting ways, but occasionally … Continue reading

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Holy Cows

I first read The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth in 1962. I was 19. I had been influenced by Kingsley Amis’s description of it in New Maps of Hell (‘many claims to being the best science-fiction … Continue reading

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In the Future Past

Nevil Shute wrote several novels with speculative content, of which the most celebrated is probably On the Beach (1957). Although his style was conventional and he is often thought of as a middlebrow author, Shute often had adventurous ideas and … Continue reading

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Abattoirs, Rickshaws, Haunted Dreamers and The City

This is not a review of a novel so much as a recommendation of one – the best new novel I have read this year is Sam Thompson’s Communion Town. It is a first novel of impressive skill and imaginative … Continue reading

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ANSWERS to Independent Crossword, 2nd March 2012:

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