Archive for September, 2009

The Dark Side of the Sun – Terry Pratchett

Posted on 30 September 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , |

I’m not quite certain what to say about this book. It’s not part of his Discworld series, in fact, not part of any series I know of. I can’t quite decide whether it’s a dig at science fiction stories or a salute to them. What I do know is that there are many jokes and many references to other books.

Ok, this is science fantasy – I reckon it’s science fantasy, I’m happy to have someone argue with me. The story is that of Dominick Sabalos who is about to come into his inheritance. What he doesn’t know is that his death was predicted by his father. Why then does he survive? His father was an undisputed expert in P Math so this should have been a certainty, but survive he does and gets a new skin colour to go with it. His black skin colour now has a tinge of green. He survives a few more attempts on his life during his journey. This book is the first book to mention Hogswatch and Small Gods so Sir Terry Pratchett must have taken these concepts across to Discworld. There are several mentions of Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics (rather modified but still identifiable). I suspect Sir Terry was having a dig at a number of authors who give their characters rather unpronouncable names when he gave the Phnobes names as they all have names made up entirely of consonants making them even harder to pronounce than normal.

There is some violence, there has to be to enable Dom to survive. It’s fairly moderate, there are no swear words or adult concepts. To quote Sir Terry from Hidden Turnings, an anthology put together by Diana Wynne Jones. “…if you can get all the jokes, you’re old enough to read them. My mum isn’t.”

Currently selling this title, as well as a number of Discworld titles and Truckers, on the Suz’s Space website.

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Australian Book List

Posted on 29 September 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Ok, another booklist, but only because I have to iron tonight and so I don’t have time to do anything properly. Therefore I’m not even giving you the whole list, you can download the pdf just as well as I can.

This list has been published by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission, for those readers not in Australia).

Here’s the first 20 only in voting order. If you go to the ABC website you’ll find you can download the entire list, in alphabetical order, as a pdf.

It’s interesting how Tim Winton has two entries in the top 20, I’ve only read one of them and it was good with very evocative images of the heat of Western Australia.

My total: 18

1. “Cloudstreet” – Tim Winton
2. “A Fortunate Life” – AB Facey
3. “Dirt Music” – Tim Winton
4. “My Brother Jack” – George Johnston
5. “The Magic Pudding” – Norman Lindsay
6. “The Tree of Man” – Patrick White
7. “Seven Little Australians” – Ethel Turner
8. “The Fortunes of Richard Mahony” – Henry Handel Richardson
9. “Tomorrow When the War Began” – John Marsden
10. “My Place” – Sally Morgan
11. “Power Without Glory” – Frank Hardy
12. “Power of One” – Bryce Courtenay
13. “Oscar and Lucinda” – Peter Carey
14. “The Harp in the South” – Ruth Park
15. “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” – May Gibbs
16. “Eucalyptus” – Murray Bail
17. “The Idea of Perfection” – Kate Grenville
18. “The Ancient Future” – Traci Harding
19. “I Can Jump Puddles” – Alan Marshall
20. “Voss” – Patrick White

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Finally, as promised

Posted on 28 September 2009. Filed under: Downtime |

Finally, as promised my website is down. If you decide to visit http://www.suzs-space.com you will find a very generic home page with nothing useful to do. This is where I wanted to be a month ago so at least it’s progress. I’m still having trouble getting into the back end to actually fix things up and make it useable so you might have to bear with me for a while longer. If you’re wanting a particular book I do suggest you email me as I can still process sales offline.

I’m not running any competitions until things are finalised but you can still read my blog, as I’ll be writing intermittently, follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you can even subscribe to my newsletter. All of these things will continue on as before.

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Books I’ve started reading

Posted on 24 September 2009. Filed under: reading | Tags: , |

I don’t claim this post to be exciting it’s more of an explanation as to why I haven’t been reviewing many books recently. I haven’t managed to complete a book for about a month and it’s not just because I’m busy but also due to the books I’ve been starting. Anyway, here we go.

What Maisie Knew by Henry James. I didn’t even make it through the Preface of this book. If you’ve read it and would like to review it I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame. The problem with this book is it’s very good and needs more devotion than I have at present. Normally I only have the chance to read for a few minutes at a time and this is a book that just doesn’t lend itself to this style of reading. I really need to sit down and read it for an hour or so. I’ve decided to put it aside until our next holiday when I’ll be able to do it justice.

Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Stories by Herman Melville. An interesting choice, by the author of Moby Dick. I haven’t even made it through the introduction. I will make it through this book, might have to skip the rest of the introduction but I will get there. Sometime I’ll read Moby Dick as well.

Those Barren Leaves
by Aldous Huxley. This book is so different to Brave New World, it’s a completely different genre. There’s lots of moments where people look at themselves and each other to see if they’re doing the right thing to attact each other and this self examination can take forever. It’s really not my style of book and I struggled to get 1/4 of the way through it.

Edgar Cayce on the Dead Sea Scrolls by Glenn D Kittler. There is absolutely no way of comparing this book with any of the others in the post. It is meant to be readings and discussions of readings by Edgar Cayce, a ‘prophet’, of the people and personalities surrounding Jesus. I’ve struggled to maintain an open mind while I’ve struggled to get 3/4 of the way through the book. I think I might cave in and stop.

This last book will be my first new book review in a while. It is Dark Side of the Sun by Terry Pratchett. I’m just about 1/2 way through and am finding it much easier reading than any of the other listed books.

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Website challenges

Posted on 23 September 2009. Filed under: Downtime |

Ok, this is going to be the boring post and I don’t blame people if you don’t read it just remember it’s here in case you try to buy books on Suz’s Space and the site doesn’t show.

I hinted at some things happening a while back and now I need to give some more details. I’ve been having some problems with the website and also with my webhosts. So, on 30th August after much research and prompting from friends I signed up with another webhost. First step so far so good. I get my email to tell me all is registered and then spend some time working my way through the steps to get everything set up so I can start putting in books. Unfortunately, that’s when things started coming unstuck. Eventually, after much help from my friends I’m told I’m running round in circles. Great, I say, at least I’m getting exercise. I referred it back to my webhost the day before he got married, fabulous timing. He passed it onto his part-time offsider who also couldn’t get things sorted. At this point my new webhost was prepared to work on my website on his honeymoon, something I couldn’t let happen so I’ve had to just wait. Today I got another email telling me all is well so I tried to login again with no success. Basically, the website should go down any day and will only come back up when he gets it sorted out so I can login. It will look different and I reserve the right to make changes to the looks until I’m happy or get bored with fiddling. You’re more than welcome to email or call me if you’re looking for a particular book and we can sort it all out offline. You can also comment on any post on this blog and I’ll get in touch. Not forgetting the competition I have running at the moment, any comments will get an entry.

Now the new website is going to be in php while the old one is in asp, this means I can’t just import everything across I’ll need to create new listings for each book. I’m not unhappy about this as it means I’ll be able to cull books that aren’t in good enough condition and really shouldn’t be there. I might consider taking new photos if they don’t represent the book properly, but that’s an enormous amount of work so I’ll see how things go.

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Anne McCaffrey

Posted on 20 September 2009. Filed under: Authors, Collections | Tags: , , |

I’m going to admit that I’m not actually collecting Anne McCaffrey. Truly I’m not, but somehow her books just keep finding their way onto my bookshelves. I’ve been reading her works for a very long time. I must have half of her Dragonriders of Pern books as well as a couple of Pegasus books and three Crystal Singer books. I don’t have any of the books she’s co-authored with other people as they just don’t have the same magic so I don’t read them.

I did meet her once. I was working in the city and she was in one of the large book stores signing her books. My Dad was very sick with cancer and I was desperately looking for something that might cheer him up a little. I don’t remember if I was just passing and saw her or if I knew she was there and visited on purpose. The outcome was that I bought a couple of her books and she signed them for me. I gave one to Dad and I don’t know if it cheered him up or not as he was way too sick at that time. Chemo does rotten things to a person.

I don’t normally get author’s signatures and have to be coerced into it for other reasons. Even when we brought Terry Pratchett to Melbourne for the Australian Discworld Convention I didn’t ask for his signature. I do have it, but it’s something that was given to every committee member.

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Nullus Anxietas

Posted on 17 September 2009. Filed under: Conventions I've attended | Tags: , , , |

There’s always something to talk about in the book world and sometimes it’s just a matter of making a decision. Today was no exception. In my yearly planner I have a note to tell me I missed Agatha Christie’s birthday yesterday (it does help if I actually look at the yearly planner), she would have been 119. Actually, looking at her age I think next year is a good year to plan something special. There’s something special about an age ending in zero even if the birthday recipient isn’t actually alive.

There’s numerous posts I’ve started so I don’t forget to write them and I could have chosen any of them including another book list, but today I’m going to say a few words about Nullus Anxietas.

For those who attended either Nullus Anxietas or Nullus Anxietas 2 you will know exactly what I’m talking about instantly. Unfortunately, there are many who didn’t have the pleasure and those people will need a slight explanation. Some years ago someone suggested an Australian Discworld Convention and the person they were speaking to said ‘good idea’ and then found himself head of a committee. Pat is a lovely, unassuming person and he was guiding the committee towards a weekend in 2006 when I found them. With a few ups and downs and a change of date to February 2007, the first Australian Discworld Convention: Nullus Anxietas happened. We had a wonderful time and managed to bring the author of the Discworld books,Terry Pratchett, from England for the weekend. Maybe that sentence should be written the other way round but it’s hard to choose which concept to put first when they’re as important as each other to me.

There was enough excitement and commitment to form another committee and run Nullus Anxietas 2 in February of this year. We were unable to bring Terry out to Australia for a second time due to his health challenges. I’m very excited to be able to announce that there was enough excitement and commitment to form another committee for Nullus Anxietas 3. This time it will be with a totally new committee as the enthusiastic people volunteering their time are in Sydney. Now, it’s very early days and the committee is still in the process of being formed but it does look very promising. Should you be in the Sydney vicinity and want to volunteer for the committee or volunteer for any of the numerous little jobs that will need doing you can email Tania. If you live elsewhere in Australia (or anywhere else) I’m sure they’ll be looking for people to help with publicity and they’ll certainly be looking for topics and presenters.

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New old dustjackets

Posted on 14 September 2009. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , |

There are some interesting websites out there. Some are more interesting than others and I’m going to point you in the direction of one such site and let you make up your own mind. This url has been sitting here looking at me for some time, A New Look At Old Books. I was not certain what angle to look at with this one. In this blog the author is examining his bookshelf one by one and giving us his/her views on them. This particular book that the author is looking at is called The Printer’s Devil by Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson. I’ve taken the liberty of searching for it on ABEBooks and have only found one copy for sale for $US850.

Okay, so I’ve established it’s almost certainly a rare and expensive book so what is so special about the blog? This particular page is about being able to buy new dustjackets for old books. You know how dustjackets get mangled and destroyed and later thrown out, well you can now buy a dustjacket for it. It’s going to be a brand new dustjacket and make your book (and therefore bookshelf) look very smart, but is it what you want? Well, it’s not what I want. If I buy an old book I don’t add a new dustjacket to it as that doesn’t increase the monetary value and it doesn’t increase the emotional value. For me the emotional value is in owning the book, in being able to read it whenever I like, and with cookbooks, seeing previous owner’s recipes written inside and seeing the food stains.

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Gerald Durrell

Posted on 13 September 2009. Filed under: Authors, Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

Gerald Durrell is one of the authors I remember with fondness from my childhood. The Overloaded Ark was on the shelf and I must have read it at a fairly young age. It had such charm that when I started selling books I made certain to pick up every copy of his works I possibly could with the theory that if I liked it someone else would. That theory must have worked as I have very few copies left.

Gerald Durrell was a totally amazing man, he led a busy life as a naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author, and television presenter. He wrote about his life as an animal collector and enthusiast. He spent a great deal of time setting up the Jersey Zoo and Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (both are now named after him) and from there influenced zoos worldwide in restructuring the habitats for their animals to make them more like the place they came from and also began the first successful captive breeding programme.

I love reading his works they are such a delight. He had a wonderful way of painting people with words and painting animals so that you saw the character in the animal. I’ll just highlight one of the many books he wrote, The Overloaded Ark. I’ve managed to pick up a 1957 paperback edition and it’s very exciting to dip into it just for this review. In the prelude he shows that life in the Cameroons has a different sense of time to life here (or, at least it did back then, I can’t say what it’s like now) and he depicts a driver ant attack while he’s getting his hair cut at the same time as he bought a pair of baby drills. He manages to make the whole scene terribly funny despite describing their bites as agonising. There’s a chapter about a chimp called Cholmondeley, pronounced Chumley, who was a great character. He always wanted to be the life and soul of every occasion, the centre of attention. He apparently became a great television star until he began to have trouble with his teeth, after a couple of escapades in which Durrell describes how Chumley was just trying to get to a party he was put down. The manner in which Durrell writes about Chumley makes you feel he was human and not chimp.

Anyway, this is just one of the wonderful books he wrote. All of the ones I’ve read have the same style and same wonderful paintings of people and character in the animals we see, and we see plenty of animals. This particular copy is not for sale as it remains on my shelf along with about a dozen of his other books.

You might have seen a TV adaptation of one of his works called My Family and Other Animals. In looking them up in IMDB I found two instances. One was a series released in 1987 with Darren Redmayne as Gerald while the other one released in 2005 had Eugene Simon as Gerald. I don’t recall the first but the second one was quite good and gave a very good sense of the book.

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A Library without books

Posted on 12 September 2009. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , |

The future is here whether like it or not. So many science fiction books have envisioned a library without books and I could never quite come around to the idea. Well, if you go to Ashburnham in New England, USA you’ll see the results. They’re getting rid of all of their books and replacing them with study centres for laptops as well as a small number of ebook readers.

Is this the future of all libraries? That’s a question I can’t answer but I suspect not. There are so many people who still want books, they want to be able to hold the book and turn the pages. My nephew is looking for an an encyclopedia. He’s quite internet savvy, as teenagers are, and he knows all about Google but he still wants to have a paper edition of an encyclopedia. He wants to be able to hold it and turn the pages.

The article talks about being more able to read deeply and understand more from a book. It also discusses how it’s much easier to browse books and find new authors or new genres by looking at a shelf of books. If digital libraries do come to fruition then I predict it will be much harder for new authors to break into the publishing market as publishers will less happy to try them out.

Please, give me your comments. What do you think of the idea of a digital library? Do you think there’s a future for books in print?

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