Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Harry Harrison is dead!

 I have always considered The Stainless Steel Rat as the book that moved me from kiddy fair to 'grown-up' books when I read it 10 years old. It was a revelation to me in its witty approach and amoral universe. To Asimov, Bradbury, Moorcock, Dick and beyond, it all started with Slippery Jim Di Griz.

The voice of Harrison's fiction - in particular his more comical output - and the tight conceptual frameworks that he works within - like in Deathword or The Captive Universe - have been huge influences on my own writing. Panoptica definitely reflects that same snide, uncommitted satirical voice that's inclined to believe that everyone's an idiot.

A couple of years afterwards I wrote a letter to 2000AD (my one and only time) suggesting they could adapt classic sci fi novels, and suggesting The Stainless Steel Rat. Six or eight months later, guess what? I've never been able to find out if there was a connection between my letter and this adaptation (let's face it, probably not), but I flatter myself that I had a small hand in this.

I had the great good fortune to meet the great man at a party for (IIRC) Gollancz sometime at the end of the 90s, where I was intorduced by (name drop name drop!) Kim Newman. I burbled about the huge influence he had on me and the role he played in my development as a reader and writer. He was kind enough to listen benevolently, chat amiable and then wish me well.

He left some wonderful, timeless books and had a good long life, so I suppose we shouldn't be too sad. We only get one life and it's up to us to use it for the bast. Harry Harrison did that. I'll be raising a glass to him tonight.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Fantastic review of Panoptica

The Zone has published a bracingly positive review of Panoptica by Steven Hampton.

"Patrick Hudson's bold approach ensures that Panoptica is refreshingly appealing in its briskly paced jumble of satirical plot, and polemical digressions about everything from trickledown environmentalism to catwalk  fashionista parades.
"... many of the author's contract clause quips and exclusive gags about suburban mores, generalised social malaise and interposed specificity, are quite frequently hilarious.
"Fans of Jeff Noon's Vurt and the 'avant pulp' of Pixel Juice, Steve Aylett's 'Beerlight' stories (see Crime Studio), Rob Grant's Incompetence, Jack Womack's Elvissey, Max Barry's bar-coded Jennifer Government, Tricia Sullivan's Maul, and Robert Rankin's sardonic wit should enjoy this."
What fantastic praise! I also appreciated his nods to Robert Sheckley and John Sladek - those writers and others like them are very strong influences on Panoptica.

Of course, eagle-eyed readers will note that The Zone is the venue that publishes my own reviews. The only favour I've received here is that Tony gave the book a gentle nudge in the reviewer's direction. It's tough getting mainstream venues like The Zone to look at self-published material and so I freely admit my prior relationship helped here.

However, I think The Zone has demonstrated in the past that it's happy to monster its friends if they deserve it: only the good survive The Zone!

I'm somewhat relieved, therefore at the highly positive review. Phew!