pressing on

I have a sneaking suspicion that I have turned into a serious, albeit amateur, book collector; certainly I abide by the key rule of collecting: buy what you like. Some of the things I like have ended up being worth quite a bit and occasionally I pause and wish I’d bought doubles. That way lies danger and madness. I continue to buy pretty versions of things I want to read or re-read so that I can read them in a nice edition. I am on the mailing list of several independent presses within my area of interest: SF and Fantasy.

This week I have added another press to my list, Grim Oak, as I’ve decided afterall that I do indeed want nice editions of the The Sword of Shannara series by Terry Brooks, of which they’re publishing the initial trilogy. I had considered it last year but decided against as the first had already sold out. Last year was also the 40th anniversary of publication of the first book. I’ve recently watched season 1 of the TV series (based on Book 2) and while not blown away, was keen to re-read the originals. So I’ve found the first one on Abebooks though it was a wee bit eccy (US$325) and have purchased books 2 & 3 (preorder) direct from the publisher at regular pricing (US$100 each). I contacted the publisher directly to see if I could get 2 & 3 with matching numbers to the first. They were happy to oblige and I’ve had a nice chat via email with their Associate Publisher.

That’s one of the things I like with small presses, that sense of personal engagement. Another I deal with is Subterranean Press and I’d recently missed an announcement for their next installment of Corey’s Expanse series. I emailed the main guy directly and he was able to put aside a copy for me with the matching number of the titles I had already. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve bought from Subterranean over the years but a rough estimate puts it over 30, possibly 40, titles. I’m also collecting the Malazan series (10 books) from Subterranean, and they’ve just announced preorders for the 8th book. Even though the limited set is not yet finished, their resale value is already a few times the purchase cost and the first alone has jumped to around US$2,000 (original purchase price of US$160).

The Grim Oak edition of The Sword of Shannara should arrive in a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to re-reading it as soon as I have it. Book 2 (Elfstones of Shannara) is due in a few weeks and the third book (Wishsong of Shannara) mid-year.

Several books by Neal StephensonValue is a curious thing and it’s interesting to watch how much some titles sell out and increase in value while others languish. The Malazan titles for example by Subterranean Press, are a wee bit out of control, and I recall seeing a set (incomplete as only the first 7 of 10 have been published in these editions) of the lettered editions on ebay for a five figure amount whereas sets of the numbered editions seem to be in the mid four figures. Whereas I can easily buy the Subterranean editions of Greg Egan‘s shorter fiction and a new one is up for preorder. Egan is an Australian writer of hard SF.

The Centipede’s Press edition of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card sold out quickly and has a scary range of secondhand pricing: US$800 to US$2,200 whereas I bought it direct from Centipede for US$275. I missed out on Centipede’s edition of Logan’s Run and it’s now available for a range of US$200 to US$300 which is not bad but I don’t have the personal keenness for that title. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to buy their edition of The Delicate Dependency (vampire novel) but decided to read it first. Now I want it but it’s sold out and hard to find with the occasional copy turning up for US$275 or so, again more than I want to pay for that one.

Small presses that I like:Book cover of Amberjack by Terry Dowling

  • Centipede Press – they do a lot of horror and some SF
  • Grim Oak – Terry Brooks + a few short story collections and other things
  • PS Publishing – UK publisher that has recently launched an Oz office. SF and horror. I started with them for Malazan stuff but have continued to find interesting things. They will eventually publish (I hope) nice editions of Oz author, Terry Dowling’s Rynosseros cycle
  • Subterranean Press – primarily SF and Fantasy

Other publishers that I may or may not dally with include:

  • Cemetery Dance – horror and dark – I think I’ve bought some Terry Dowling, or been tempted to buy some
  • Easton Press – they do old school leather bindings, gilt edge and book ribbons…and they do it really well. I have a few on the shelf though I don’t think I’ve paid more than US$100 or so per title.
  • Folio Society – I have a bunch and there’s a whole bunch more that I want – every time I look I get a little scared. Current temptations include The Foundation Trilogy and Dune – though I already have a nice Easton Press edition of Dune.

In terms of buying sold out titles, I tend to use abebooks and bypass ebay though I have used the latter once or twice. I sorta like using book specific resources and non auction sites at that. Ebay often has an option to buy immediately but it’s more of a general store than a bookstore. The main time I used ebay was to buy a particular numbered edition of the first of the Malazan series.

 

more sheep (there are spoilers)

…which sounds like it could be a line introducing the planned Settlers of Catan movie.

But no, I of course refer to a second movie picking up on the themes of Philip K Dick‘s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. As an aside, thankfully, googling “android” and “dick” produced far less scary results than anticipated. Dick’s greatness far exceeds dodgy pr0n references. DADOES as it is often shortened to, is possibly Dick’s second best novel, the best generally regarded as The Man in the High Castle. I tend not to disagree.

When the first version of the first movie was released in, I think, 1982 or 3, I wasn’t able to see it. Dad however, bought me the book. I was 14 at the time. It blew me away. I loved it much. I’ve only read it once but it has always stuck with me. Vivid. I finally saw the film on its second release, as the Director’s Cut. Loved it. Also vivid. Seared into my mind. I saw it many times both on big screen and small.

I suspect I’ve seen the original version several times since. Comfortably double figures on the director’s cut, possibly double figures on the original. I love both though it remains true that people generally prefer the version they saw first. There is also a final cut that was much later that I tried to watch recently but didn’t quite find the right moment to pop it on. I’ve read enough to know where it differs and seen the other versions enough to work out where it fits visually.

Seriously: spoilers below.

Bladerunner is that rare, rare film that leaves out so much of the book yet captures its essence, shares its soul. Blade Runner 2049 also succeeded…mostly. I was riveted to the screen for most of it, for most of it was perfect. If it had stopped shortly after Agent K and Deckard met, or been effectively finished at that point, I would have been happy. But it didn’t finish, there were fights and kidnapping and more fights, Terminator-esque. The side plot of the tycoon Wallace, felt shallow and vacuous. Unnecessary. Even then, if the film had ended with K dying on the snowy steps it might have been redeemed. It felt so much like an interesting film with a Brady Bunch ending slapped on.

And yet, it was still so bloody good…so much perfect, visually grand (it needs a really big screen, a big space), musically, aurally wonderful. It still traces the path of  what does it mean to be human, and explores new ripples. It was well paced, events, music, landscapes…connected. I loved its play with virtual characters, and the way it overlapped virtual with real…or a sense of real. It’s all about the sense of real, and not necessarily the real itself.

playing with editions

I was a little late to the party on “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. It was first published in 2011 and I finally got round to reading it last year and the movie is coming out in 2018. It was a fun read full of 1980s pop culture references. I initially came across it because Subterranean Press released a limited edition in 2015 which quickly sold out.

Now I’m sorta wondering whether it’s worth grabbing a nice edition myself. The limited edition initially sold for US$75 from Subterranean Press and the cheapest I can find on abebooks is US$275 and they go higher, much higher. Curiously, I came across the first printing of the first edition on ebay and it was only US$125, however it’s not pristine and looks well read. I am amused the first edition is cheaper than the special edition. With that said, I’m not particularly interested in first editions myself (well unless they’re Biggles of which I have a bunch of first editions) and like to buy pretty editions, well bound with nice typesets.

A row of books on a shelf - Biggles.

It’d be nice to have a decent copy of Ready Player One but I reckon I’ve missed the boat and when the movie comes out next year, the prices will likely skyrocket. If I was in to making money, it might be worthwhile picking up a few copies now, even if they’re a little eccy and then sell them at substantial profit when everyone’s riding high on the movie release. But I’m not that sort of person and not into that whole investing thang. I like to buy nice books because I like to read nice books.

sff 2017 day 10

Friday night, one movie and I was home by 9.30. Was supposed to be in Newtown much, much earlier but all city trains were stopped due to a fatality at Granville. While I am saddened at the loss of life, I am also concerned that it could bring most of the trains to a standstill. It took around half an hour to move one station from Town Hall to Central, at which point I got off and got a taxi to my car. The advantage of living in the inner west is taxis aren’t too expensive but it’s not something I’d want to do too often. 

Friday night’s movie was the world premier of an Australian SF movie, called Otherlife (Australia). This was really good and they made it work, and even seemed to have a reasonable budget. Interestingly some of the bits I’ve read about it note that it actually had a very low budget. The basic idea is the development of a software based chemical that messes with the chemicals in your head, launching you into a virtual experience that feels totally real and lasts for hours, while only seconds pass in the real world. Throw into that a sub-plot around funding and you have a decent thriller in the making. There were sections of the movie I was unsure whether they were real or virtual/imagined; there was just enough of a suggestion that I was on the edge of “I don’t know”. Cleverly done and good SF.

 

time to play

I was a little disappointed that Tomb Raider for the PS4 was not out in time for the long weekend…not to mention Dishonored 2 and the updated version of Skyrim…all of which are due in October. Later in October when I probably won’t have as much time to play. On the other hand, it doesn’t really matter if I don’t get to play them on day 1, yet there is something of that sense of release day anticipation…still. I’m 48 now and I feel it at the edge of my consciousness: lurking, waiting, intensifying. It is the same of books, I have to have that book on day 1, first edition, etc…though I no longer necessarily read it that day.

Yet, day 1 desire remains.

I recently got round to playing The Last of Us, the PS4 remastered version of which was released in 2014…2 years ago, and the PS3 version was released before that. It was still a good game. Then there’s the Bioshock Collection, released in September on the PS4 yet been around for years on other platforms. I nearly bought it for the long weekend but thought no, I won’t finish all 3 by the time Tomb Raider is released. I can always play it later.

The PS3 version of Skyrim was a massive timesink and I spent over 300 hours playing it that summer. I may never have time to play that enough, nor even that amount of time to play. I was single and living alone in those days, now I have other, wonderful people in my life. I still fire up the PS3 and play a little Skyim every so often. Yet, I am also curious about starting from scratch on the PS4 and seeing what sort of game I’d play these days.

Instead, on the long weekend, I bought nothing new and enjoyed what I had. I continue to be rather fond of No Man’s Sky, though it’s more exploratory than actual game. It is strangely alluring and easy to lose many hours playing. I finally got round to playing The Order: 1886 which was generally panned on release as being short and lacking in the gameplay department. While gameplay is a little simplistic and full of detailed setpieces, it is visually sumptious and I’m hard put to think of a game that is so well realised in its visualisation of the environment. I’ve spent a lot of time just sitting back and viewing my surroundings. The story too, seems sufficient and I look forward to finishing it off.

Further to gaming I finally finished season 1 of Daredevil on Netflix which was pretty fab. I found the 13 episodes a little slow at times but the story and character development was good. I’m undecided whether to move to season 2, or watch season 1 of Jessica Jones next, and of course Luke Cage has recently dropped. I have at least read most of the comics for Jessica Jones. To top off a good three days off work, I also managed to get through the first half of season 2 of Once Upon a Time. Somewhere in there, I’d like to fit in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D but suspect I’ll need to buy the DVDs as it doesn’t seem to be on the Oz version of Netflix. I do have the DVDs for the first season of The Expanse and I’ve read the first two books.

So much to watch and play and yet I still hunger for day 1 releases. That’s a wee bit wrong.

yet another sf list

SF books on a shelf

I posted a few years ago around desires to work my way through some of the top SF novels ever, the canon if you like. The hard bit is working out what the canon should and shouldn’t include and whether there is truly a universal approach. Many of the lists tend to focus on US and UK publications. This post points out that issue in its discussion of yet another list, this time it’s the list from World Without End. It contains lots of related lists and its main SF one contains 256 titles. Of those, I’ve read 79, or approximately 31%. Come to think of it, I’d read around 30% of the list I used in 2012 (32 out of 100). This new list contains a broader variety of titles and does manage to include a graphic novel, Watchmen, yet where is Saga? Is it more that graphic novels tend not to get counted in lists with novels…is the genre too segmented?

recycling tv

[this is a leftover draft from #blogjune that I never got round to posting – I’ve updated it a little eg in June, I’d barely watched any Once Upon a Time and I’m now partway through season 3. I hadn’t watched Daredevil but have since finished season 1]

I watch so little TV at the best of times and there are so many shows I need to watch, or even finish watching. On top of that, I occasionally get a hankering to rewatch shows I saw long ago. While this post is an attempt to keep track of them, I suspect it’s more likely to be a tombstone to my continuing failure :)

  • Firefly (rewatch)
  • Torchwood (rewatch)
  • Dr Who (watch – I’ve only seen the first few episodes of Series 1 with Christopher Eccleston)
  • Battlestar Galactica (rewatch original, watch new series)
  • The Gilmore Girls (rewatch)
  • The West Wing (watch – this failure is particularly embarrassing)
  • Jessica Jones (watch – I have at least read the comics)
  • Archer (watch – I have seen one episode)
  • Blakes 7 (rewatch – sort of, I’ve seen many episodes but not all of them. I do at least own the complete series)
  • Alias (rewatch)
  • The Blacklist (watch – have seen the first couple of episodes)
  • Stargate (watch)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (watch – recently bought the DVD)
  • Daredevil (have watched first season, not got round to second season yet)
  • Hogan’s Heroes (rewatch – have boxed set)
  • Twin Peaks (watch – this failure is also particularly embarrassing)
  • Once Upon a Time (watch – remarkably I am watching this and am partway through third season)
  • Babylon 5 (rewatch)
  • The Professionals (rewatch in entirety – I am curious to see if I still like Bodie and Doyle)

That’s a good start but I have no doubt there’s more that I’ve forgotten.