Authors

Tom Holt

Posted on 12 October 2009. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , |

Tom Holt is an author with a rather wacky sense of humour. I suspect I would like him a lot. His novels are generally “mythopoeic novels which parody or take as their theme various aspects of mythology, history or literature and develop them in new and often humorous ways”. Thank you to Wikipedia for this quote.

I first picked up Ye Gods and was suffused with giggles. The story goes roughly like this: Jupiter has an affair with a human and a boy is born. Jason is a Hero in the old-fashioned sense of the word and goes round saving the world, only he’s starting to question it and things don’t quite go to plan. He meets Mars and goes all googly-eyed as Mars has always been his favourite pinup. Just to give you a taste of his writing style I’ve chosen one of my favourite quotes “Jason squared his shoulders, drew the Sword of – I couldn’t give a toss what it’s supposed to be called, he said to himself, I shall call it Freckles – and took one step forward.”

I next found The Portable Door and was just blown away by the ideas in it. It’s about a very ineffective young man who actually ends up with a job. It is a rather boring job but the firm, J.W. Wells & Co., is very different and office politics turns out to have a totally different meaning. I’m trying not to give away too much here but I’ll just mutter a few words and when you read the book you’ll understand. The Sorcerer by Gilbert & Sullivan, magic and a portable door that just needs a firm place to be used, also a sword. Holt has also written another couple of books about J.W. Wells & Co. which have the same kind of magic.

There are four authors I feel have the same kind of magic. Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and Robert Asprin. They do things slightly differently but when I dip into one of their books I feel they are on the same wavelength. There’s a kind of manicness to them which weaves its way into a good, solid story with a solid plot and good characterisation.

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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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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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Vale: John Ryan creator of Captain Pugwash

Posted on 1 August 2009. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , , , , , , |

I’ve just heard the news today of the passing of John Ryan, the creator of the fabulous Captain Pugwash, at the age of 88. It was while he was teaching art at Harrow School in the north west suburbs of London that he first drew Captain Pugwash as a comic strip. He had a bit of a stop-start with Captain Pugwash and eventually animated him in real time with cardboard levers. I found a very good obituary here, it seems to be the only one that gives decent detail.

I absolutely adored Captain Pugwash when I was young, both the books and the TV series. I loved them so much I had to buy the books to sell, but only when I see them and that isn’t often. I currently have two on the website: Captain Pugwash and the Pigwig and; Pugwash and the Ghost Ship. I do recommend them for old and young alike, they have a naive innocence about them.

Vale John Ryan. We will miss you and your talent.

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Jody Lynn Nye

Posted on 6 July 2009. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I have been avoiding getting swept up by the whole Twitter thing until today. I noticed it was Jody Lynn Nye’s birthday on the 5th July and decided she would be a really good person to write about. She’s been a co-author with a number of my favourite authors such as Anne McCaffrey and Robert Asprin as well as writing some Crossroads books. I know it doesn’t have much to do with Twitter, but I happened to come across her Twitter page and was promptly captivated into reading her latest Tweets. Fascinating stuff, well, some of it. She talks about EE ‘Doc’ Smith’s Lensman being made into a movie by JM Straczynski and Ron Howard in her latest which is problematic for me as I don’t actually like the Lensman series. But I scrolled further down and she talks about writing and baby raccoons amongst other stuff. I was fascinated by most of this and it’s making me seriously consider signing up for Twitter so I can follow her and also look up some of my favourite authors to see if I want to follow them as well.

Just so you think this is about Jody Lynn Nye and not about me Tweeting I’ll give you some more information and a link to her webpage. You need to click through and look at the Applied Mythology icon, it’s just gorgeous.

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Terry Pratchett – Explained

Posted on 22 June 2009. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I made a cryptic comment in my last post Who Writes Like. I guaranteed I chose the first author that came to mind and that there were reasons it was Terry Pratchett. I’ll do my best to explain why that happened. No, I’m not explaining about Terry Pratchett, I’m only explaining why his name was the first that came to mind. Should he choose to read this blog he can explain himself or not as he chooses, he’s certainly capable.

Terry Pratchett is the author of a series of books about a place called Discworld. He has also written other novels including my favourite, The Bromeliad Series. I came to read Terry quite by accident. My kids were little and we used to watch the ABC together. They were screening a wonderful little series about Nomes called Truckers. The series was delightful with a fabulous storyline, great characters and some wonderful ideas. I loved it so much that when a book of the same name sprang out at me from the bookshelf of my favourite bookshop I bought the whole series. I was delighted with the books. They all had the same things I liked about the series except for the visuals, I had to imagine the visuals. I was so taken with these books that I bought another book by the same author on the very next time I was in the bookshop. That book was Sourcery and I must confess I wasn’t quite so enamoured of it. I’ve re-read it and I’m still not that excited by it. That put Terry off my reading list for several years.

I’ve always been very involved with my kids and their reading. I’ve always tried to read everything they read before they read it. At least until they got to about 15 or 16, now I read more for me than for them, but in those days I read for them. They have always been very good readers and my youngest reads twice as fast as I do so I was struggling to find the time to read enough to keep ahead of her. I visited the library, found audio books and started listening to them in the car. I found Hogfather. I listened to Hogfather and subsequently forgot to turn it off when the kids got into the car. They stopped talking to listen and started laughing. I figured this was a good thing as the series was very well written with no swear words and with concepts I was happy letting them read. Fabulous, another series they could read!!

Fast forward a couple of years to when I was bored. Browsing the web and newsgroups to find something to do and I came across a reference to a Discworld Convention in Melbourne. I whizzed across to the website and had a good look around. They seemed like nice people and I thought “I can do this, I can help on this committee”…famous last words. After a few emails I finally got to a committee meeting. Truly, I did help and I had a wonderful time and made some fantastic friends. That convention was such fun I ended up as the Vice President of the committee for the Second Australian Discworld Convention and am now retiring from convention committees in order to focus on family and business.

So, there you have it in a rather large nutshell. That’s why the first author that came to mind was Terry Pratchett.

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