I normally wait for the paperback on the non-M ones, but I grabbed the chance to get a signed one of these at the Cheltenham Literature Festival a couple of weekends back. Basically, like most of Banks's recent work, Steep Approach to Garbadale is a megamix of all his recurring themes. There's a
I am playing this evil evil timesuck of a game again (probably because of the Banks, actually; the game-within-the-book is clearly based on Civ). I am fairly shite at Civ4 compared to people who actually play it properly, but I don't care, I find the "Noble" level (where neither the AI nor the human has built-in advantages, so really you ought to be able to run rings around it given that it's ultimately a predictable computer) about right for me. I do think this is one of the best Civ games yet, particularly the way the Great People system and the National Wonders limitations tend to force you into specialising in certain ways of doing things. And I adore the civics system, which is almost but not quite as good as the governmental side of Alpha Centauri. Surprisingly given my atheism, I love the religion element of the game, I think it's beautifully handled and an excellent way to motivate the conflict (which previously always really boiled down to arbitrary "I hate you now"/"You're getting too big and likely to win" stuff). I am getting a bit sick of my starts always turning out to be next to Isabella of the Spanish, though (along with Montezuma of the Aztecs, she's one of the main religious fundamentalist nutters who will declare war on you entirely for failing to be the same religion as her). Summary: This is why I haven't finished any of the fics I was planning to write this half-term, dammit.
Back in June I squeed about Phonogram and how awesomely it captured "my" teenage era of Britpop and how it and those of us who listened to it had aged. Suburban Glamour is the new project from Phonogram's artist Jamie McKelvie (who is apparently also kenix), here handling writing duties as well. And it is awesome. It's basically your teenage coming-of-age stuff in the context of today's era of emos and all-pervasive social networking, and it's just as perfectly captured as the Britpop stuff in Phonogram. (Though bear in mind that it's practically part of my job description Not To Get The Kids, so I might be wrong about McKelvie's having managed it, but it reads right to me.) It's the adventures of a pair of emos, Astrid and Dave, as their sleepy market town life (Lanbern is perfectly pitched as this; there's a moment when it could totally pass for Stroud [my local example of same]) of boring school and vaguely unsatisfactory parties is gradually invaded by High Weirdness (it's "glamour" in the badass-fairy sense, y'see), with just enough of the magic side of things poking through in this first issue. There's some fabulous dialogue:
ASTRID: And what did you do last night?
DAVE: I saved the world from intergalactic forces of evil.
DAVE: Yeah, but this time I did it on Hard.
CHRIS (trying to persuade them to go to a party): You're right. I'm sure sitting in your room listening to MCR and refreshing MySpace endlessly is much more fun.
ASTRID: ... sometimes I look at Facebook too.
(the final panel, in reaction to running across a gang of fairytale monsters:)
DAVE: Fucking hell.
ASTRID: You wouldn't think me excessively girly if I scream, would you?
I ASK YOU, WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? The "next issue" bit even ends "Plus: Dave gets a detention! Oh noes!" [emphasis in original] Truly, this is a comic for our times.
The art is of course gorgeous, full of the same wonderful expressive simplicity that was on display in Phonogram, but now in glorious Technicolor. IF I HAD A SCANNER I WOULD TOTALLY POST SCANS but as it is you'll just have to trust me. In summary: You need to go buy this comic, RFN.
And two things I have huge anticipatory squee for:
- The cover for Newtons Sleep, the new Faction Paradox novel by Daniel O'Mahony forthcoming from Random Static. (Also: the absence of an apostrophe in that title.)
- Apparently there's a Marvel Masterworks of (I assume Silver Age) Nick Fury going to be available now or very soon (don't know whether it's simultaneous with the US or not on things like that). How did I only find out about this from
an entirely fictional comic shop employeeDanny at The Rack, huh? I cannot help but feel that the three and a half comics blogs I irregularly read have failed me. Failed me, do you hear?