Doctor Who: Harvest of Time is a novel about the third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee between 1970 and 1974. Now, I’ll admit it from the get-go – I’m not a dedicated fan of the TV show. I like it quite a lot, but I haven’t seen a single episode of the old series and I have watched less than two seasons of the new. Some episodes I loved as a child loves, others bored me senseless. OK, it’s out there, whew. Harvest of Time is also a novel by Alastair Reynolds. I love Alastair Reynolds novels. So my thinking was as follows: if I absolutely love the best parts of the show, then a writer whose work has not let me down has a damn good chance of hitting just the right notes with this one. Continue reading
Quicksilver is a book that defies with ease any attempts at writing a pithy and flashy review. Swatting-a-lame-old-fly is the kind of ease I’m going for here. Read the blurbs if you are looking for that, a review of this type just wouldn’t really be a review, but rather an extended blurb.
Quicksilver, the first part of the Baroque Cycle trilogy, is vast and winding. It spans decades and continents, its subject matter is difficult to pin down, its method is an even more elusive beast. Perhaps the most apt definition I have arrived at comes from the novel itself:
“It seemed that Jack, here, had blundered into the fourth or fifth act of a drama – neither a comedy nor a tragedy, but a history.”
And although the sentence refers to somebody else’s historical drama, it self-consciously echoes the structure of the novel. Which, like history, maintains only the illusion of such a structure. As some proponents of New Historicism would have it, historians and document-makers are part of the historical process they are untangling and seeking to document and explain. They are just as much embroiled in the material practices and texts of their time, as are the agents of their narratives. Continue reading
When I was a little boy – I must have been six, or seven, or eight – I would sometimes get these very odd flashes of… I’m not even sure how to call it. “Feeling” is too general a word, no, this was disembodied and physical sensations, memories and premonitions all bundled together in an indivisible whole. It came when I was alone and felt like a place, somewhere, somehow. One moment I would be in my room, or wherever I was, the next I would be there. And it would last for just a second or two, but those seemed ominously stretched. It was a scary place, to be sure, mostly because I didn’t understand it and didn’t know how and why I was being taken there. And I knew it was probably a place in my head, little that I was, but it felt vaster than that. It felt like all the knowledge of the world was there and also all the things that I would love and lose. It might have been a good place, but it scared me every time. Continue reading