Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Stack

Here are a few of the books I bought in the past couple of weeks (the paperback pile is about twice as high). From the top:

D.G. Compton, Ascendancies and Farewell, Earth's Bliss. Compton is a highly underrated British SF writer, probably best known for The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, which anticipated reality TV and was made into a so-so film, Death Watch, by Bernard Tavernier. Farewell, Earth's Bliss is somewhat atypical - a darkly funny story of redemption set on Mars, used by Earth as a dumping ground for the worst kind of criminal. Ascendancies, like many of Compton's novels, views a near-future society in close-up, through flawed protagonists. Here, a widow and a hapless insurance agent try to out-game each other in a near future transformed by falls of fertilising dust and random disappearances of people via a mysterious process associated with eerie choral music and the scent of roses.

T.M. Disch, The Prisoner. Novelisation of the cult TV series. Disch and The Prisoner are a closer fit than you might at first think.

Stephen Hall, The Raw Shark Texts. Charity shop find, shortlisted for the Clarke Award a couple of years back. Adventures in Un-Space.

Stanislaw Lem, Eden. Secondhand bookshop find. A spaceship crashes on a planet of metaphors.

Jack Womack, Ambient. Womack's first novel, the third, chronologically, in his 'Dryco' series. Uncannily prophetic social satire; opens with one of the best bookshop scenes ever written.

The Ones You Do, Daniel Woodrell. Signed first edition of the third of Woodrell's St Bruno mystery novels (I bought the other two, Under the Bright Lights and Muscle for the Wing, in a sale at the fabulous Powell Books, Portland, Oregon, a few years ago).  Woodrell is one of my favourite writers, a poet of American interstitial lowlife. His second novel, Woe to Live On, was made into a film (Ride With the Devil), as was his last, Winter's Bone.


Anonymous Sergey said...

Good choice, Paul!

February 12, 2011 1:23 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Aside from Lem, are any of these authors known in Russia. D.G.Compton might appeal...

February 12, 2011 2:29 pm  
Anonymous rsatx said...

Your post reminded me that I've never read much of anything by Compton. The title that I associate with him is Synthajoy. I think I'll try to find more of his books. Thanks.

February 12, 2011 5:06 pm  
Blogger PeteY said...

Eden's definitely not one of Lem's best. Turgid, obscure, and pointless. A bit reminiscent of Hoyle's Fifth Planet, but I prefer the Hoyle. I never heard of Compton, must look out for him.

February 12, 2011 10:26 pm  
Blogger PeteY said...

BTW I really enjoyed Disch's The Prisoner. As you said, he does it really well. Such a shame it was reissued by Penguin after he'd killed himself because he had no money.

February 14, 2011 1:26 am  
Anonymous Sergey said...

Compton and Womack known but mainly because they were mentioned in the articles about SF (may be something was translated), some books by Thomas Dish were translated ("Genoside") but of course I couldn't compare his poularity with that of Lem here.

February 14, 2011 8:09 pm  
Anonymous Phil Ackerman said...

Not heard of Compton before so bought Ascendancies and Farewell, Earth's Bliss. Your copy of Farewell, Earth's Bliss looks very nice, did it cost much?

February 20, 2011 9:02 pm  
Anonymous talkie_tim said...

It's great to see that familiar bright yellow Gollancz SF dust jacket on the top Compton book.. As a teen I used to scour the shelves of the local library for those spines, to pick out the good stuff.

February 23, 2011 11:14 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Hi Phil - Farewell Earth's Bliss was fairly cheap because it's ex-Library (though not with ticket pocket and marked only with a withdrawal stamp; think it was never on the shelves).

Tim - yep, those yellow covers were catnip to me, too. And I was lucky enough to get them on my first two books.

February 24, 2011 7:57 pm  

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