Random Thoughts: from Mrs Gaskell’s Manchester to digital fiction

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Today’s random thoughts are brought to you courtesy of the Manchester Literature Festival and the Manchester Science Festival. Continue reading

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Saga Volumes 1-5

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Read 28/06/2017

Rating: 3 stars

There’s a war raging across the universe, started by hostility between the winged inhabitants of the planet Landfall and the horned residents of its satellite Wreath. To prevent the destruction of their planets, both sides have outsourced the war, so now it is fought everywhere else but Landfall and Wreath.

I borrowed the first five trades of the comic book series Saga from a friend a while ago. Every time I’ve published a review in the interim, he’s been disappointed that it hasn’t been about Saga. We met up recently and I felt bad about not having read it yet, so I brought it up the list. My husband was out on a work do, and the football had replaced Coronation Street, so I binge read all five in one evening. Continue reading

Winterhill 2: Ghost Requiem

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Read 27/04/2017-28/04/2017

Rating: 4 stars

I’ve made a return to the Winterhill series. I picked up the first volume on a whim and enjoyed it. I decided I was going to whittle down my TBR before I invested in any more in the series, though, but then last month the author announced that any profits on sales of the book would be donated to the charity Hope for Hypothalamic Hamartomas. So I bought the next three.

Ghost Requiem is the second book in this pop culture sci-fi series about amnesiac archaeologist Professor Rebecca Winterhill. It opens with Winterhill and her travel mates Madagascar Talifero and Tareku Wamae resting up on a mini cruise on the planet Kalumpah. Continue reading

Winterhill: The Wreath of Dreams

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Read 29/11/2016-30/11/2016

Rating: 4 stars

This is fast paced science fiction split into episodes like an unillustrated graphic novel, or a radio serial that hasn’t been broadcast. The Wreath of Dreams is the first in a series of books and introduces us to amnesiac archaeologist Professor Rebecca Winterhill. Across the six episodes she hooks up with two travelling companions, Madagascar Talifero and Tareku Wamae, and has various hair raising and blood curdling adventures.

It’s clear that Iain Martin has a plan for the characters. He builds their back stories gradually, drops them in and out of the narrative, and doesn’t tie things up too quickly. It made me think of episodes of Doctor Who. Each episode in the book is a complete story, but it leaves a door open for something else to develop down the line.

I enjoyed the cheekiness of the writing, the occasional nod to the reader that life can be corny at times, the occasional meta reference to life being like a sci-fi film. I liked the characters. Winterhill and Madagascar reminded me of Halo Jones and her friend Rodice in their no-nonsense reactions to the things life throws at them. They’re feisty in different ways.

If you’re after something with a bit of pace, a bit of suspense, a bit of intergalactic police procedural, and a bit of space adventure, this could be the series for you.

The Ballad of Halo Jones

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Read 11/06/2016-12/06/2016

Rating: 4 stars

Alan Moore and Ian Gibson’s sci-fi comic about a future everywoman trying to find her place in the world first appeared in 2000AD in the mid-80s. I was a teenager at the time and more interested in Tolkien, literary fiction and listening to pop music, so I’d given up sneakily reading my older brother’s copies of 2000AD. What an error of judgement, because I missed out on Halo Jones first time around. Continue reading