Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier: Airy

Mmmm, dreamy
The Floating Islands has a beautiful cover, an elegant island floating above the sea, all soft and lovely. That's pretty much why I bought it, I've been obsessed with floating islands since I watched the Studio Gihbli film 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky' as a kid.

The story inside matches the cover well. The pace is slow and it feels quite dreamy, none of the action feels really threatening not even when a war kicks off. The protagonists, Trei and Araene (obligatory weird names in fantasy book, probably not enough apostrophes to be honest), are believable and interesting characters who experience quite a lot of hardship in a short space of time but none of it really disadvantages them too badly and some of it is quite beneficial.

Both have their dreams, Trei to become a Kajurai, a flying man with a lovely pair of wings and Araene a cook. Ok, so maybe becoming a cook isn't that exciting but she doesn't become a cook. But there is lots of talk about food and spices. Lots. Reading this made me endlessly hungry. I put on 2 stone.

There are dragons and wizards and things but they are nicely different to your normal fantasy goblin-o-rama book. There's a war for no apparent reason and the bad guys are probably the most stereotypical and disappointing part of the story. Honourable soldiers that are honourable no matter what, even when hundreds or thousands of their own innocent citizens are slaughtered. None of them go a bit venegance crazy.

So if you're looking for a dreamy fantasy story with lots of descriptions about food, some dragons and grumpy masters and disobedient pupils this book is for you.

The Floating Islands has been around for ages and costs about a tenner.



Sunday, 25 September 2011

How I Escaped My Certain Fate by Stewart Lee: He Deconstructs Himself

How I Escaped My Certain Fate is a must read for anyone with an interest in:

  1. Stand up comedy.
  2. Stewart Lee.
  3. Wool.
It's sort of autobiographical walk-through of  3 stand-up routines Stewart Lee toured after the Jerry Springer Opera got choked to death by religious controversy and gits. Each routine is prefaced with a description of what was going on in Stewart's life before and during the tour so that you can see how these events influenced his material. 

Then the gig is transcribed. And with the transcription comes the footnotes. 70%+ of this book is footnotes. Stewart (I like writing Stewart, it's like I know him...(STALKER)) goes into great detail explaining jokes, influences, what he's trying to achieve and any other thing that occurred to him while writing out the gig text. It gives an amazing insight into the work that goes into stand-up comedy (some of it anyway).

At the end of the book there's a section of small apendices that cover some random, interesting things. Even a poem!

How I escaped My Certain Fate is an interesting, funny read. It costs about £12.