Author Archives: Timothy

January 18

Turtles all the way down by John Green

I don’t think I’ve ever read a better description of what it’s like to have obsessive compulsive disorder. Green quotes – I think it was Plath – in noting that language cannot directly explain the experience of pain. Many authors try to get through this using visual imagery, but that leads to problems like in […]

December 08

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster-Bujold

Lois McMaster-Bujold is one of the grandmasters of science fiction. She’s has so many Hugo Awards they made up an extra one to hand her this year (Best Series). She’s been writing the Vorkosigan Saga for roughly forty years, and so it’s with some sadness I read this book, which feels like an ending. That’s […]

November 30

John Dies at the End by David Wong

The book is a horror comedy., mixing Lovecraftian themes and black humour. It’s the first novel by Jason Pargin, under the pen name of David Wong. Pargin is a prolific writer for the Cracked website, and there’s crossover in his style of humor. The novel was originally written as episodic blog posts, so structurally it […]

November 24

Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer

In a single moment, everyone wakes. Everyone. Every human, ever, wakes on the banks of a river millions of miles long. They are naked, hairless and returned to their early twenties. Every infirmity is gone. Each has a cylinder tied to their wrist, which they discover provides three meals a day, and some other little […]

November 10

Great Narrative Poems of the Nineteenth Century

I know I’m pushing the ball uphill to convince people to try narrative poetry, but let’s give it a shot! In the 19th Century, the way of showing you were a wordsmith on the modern pop hit level was to write long poems, with stories in them, about passionate people doing foolish things. Many them […]

November 03

Nostalgic for Eighties crime, racism and sexism? Les Norton might be the hero you want.

The Les Norton books by Robert G. Barrett remind me of the early Bond novels, in that they are basically about a reactionary guy who can punch people who represent social change, and then have sex with their girlfriends. Those of you who are Bond fans may object: but in the movies he’s a lot […]

October 20

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell wrote comedies of manners, and the material for Cranford was originally serialized. This means that each chapter is self-contained, much like a short story, and so the book has clear stopping points for light reading. Gaskell also had a side line in ghost stories. She and Dickens even collaborated on a mosaic novel. […]

October 13

How to have a good day by Caroline Webb

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, so why not try to make working nicer? Caroline Webb’s book on the psychology of workplace contentment is appealing, because many writers in this field come from a spiritual direction, offering vapid affirmations. Webb is more practical. Webb tries, with far great rigor than is usual, […]

October 06

Acerbic cosy murder

One of the wonderful things about the sudden boom in audiobooks is that series which have previously filled little literary niches can find a new audience. MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin stories have been made into BBC Radio plays, which are available through one of our audiobook suppliers, and into single-narrator readings, which are available through […]

September 29

The bravest, handsomest man in Napoleon’s army. Only his modesty prevents him from telling you so.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for his sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, but he has another hero. A dashing hero. A man unmatched with the blade. A man of unparalleled attraction to the ladies. A man whose modesty is unsurpassed. Brigadier Etienne Gerard! Brigadier Gerard is tremendously conceited. That’s his charm. He may be brave, […]