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Friday, January 27, 2017

Comic Cuts - 27 January 2017

Here we are at the end of January and I've had to clamber back onto the Hotel Business treadmill to get some articles commissioned for the next issue. After a couple of days off, the e-mail had built up to over 200 by Monday and I blitzed it for a few hours, getting it back to 80 unread mails. Then I ignored it until Wednesday and it had drifted back to 200. Most of it rubbish that I get simply because I've landed on some PR agency's mailing list, but I still need to take at least a quick peep, just to make sure I can dump it.

Between the seemingly endless inrush of unwanted e-mail and a wanted and welcome visit from my Mum on Tuesday, I don't seem to have actually done anything this week. I'm trying to cast my mind back and it's all a bit of a blur. We were out Friday night visiting friends and then at a birthday get-together for a meal out on Saturday; I had to do my tax returns, which I managed to do on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.

Somewhere in between I managed to put together a little cover gallery for Walter M. Miller that will be appearing shortly. While I was looking for some other books on Saturday I stumbled across a stack of Ed McBain novels that I hadn't scanned, so I added those to the McBain cover gallery... never did find the books I was looking for, mind. No doubt I'll stumble across them when I'm looking for something else...

Penguin Modern Classics edition (2001) and Penguin Essentials edition (2014)
The main filler of my time has probably been watching the second season of The Man In The High Castle, the superb Amazon series. You need to be a Prime member, but it's easy to join and almost as easy to quit again before your next monthly payment is due. I think I got this (and the first series) for the price of a DVD. Some of you at least will have read the novel by Philip K. Dick, which I re-read a couple of years ago, but the TV series has meandered from the plot of the novel – there have been twenty 50+ minute episodes, after all – without losing too much of the tone.

The show has been a critical success; I disagree with criticism that the plot of season two has grown unwieldy – it has simply expanded without losing any clarity. I don't want to spoil the series for anyone who decides to watch it (that's the beauty of streaming services – you can start at any time!) and I certainly don't want anyone to be put off by unnecessary criticism.

Another Axis wins WWII novel is about to hit TV screens – I'm not quite sure when, but some time in February – in the shape of the BBC's adaptation of Len Deighton's SS-GB. It's one of my favourite Deighton novels: he was always a superb writer of war stories and this one, a detective yarn set in a German-occupied London, was one of his best.

Although they share the same basic premise, the stories couldn't be more different. Similarly, or, rather dis-similarly, Robert Harris's thriller Fatherland is nothing like C. J. Sansom's political thriller Dominion, nor James Herbert's horror thriller '48 like Eric Norden's police procedural The Ultimate Solution. American isolationism leading to Axis wins is central to Harry Turtledove's In the Presence of Mine Enemies and The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, but, again, they couldn't be more different.

I have vague memories of watching An Englishman's Castle, a BBC drama from the late 1970s starring Kenneth More and a very young Nigel Havers. Apparently it's available on DVD... something I shall have to investigate.

Random scans... well, it just has to be come of the books mentioned above, doesn't it? I've also thrown in a couple of others... Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, the Hugo Award-winning novel by Adolf Hitler, and another alternative invasion of America, this time by sneaky Russians in the pages of Brauna E. Pouns's novelisation of the TV mini-series Amerika.

Who on earth was Brauna E. Pouns? Definitely a pseudonym, but copyright records haven't provided any leads. It looks like an anagram.

The last image is an oddity that popped up on a Facebook page I belong to: it's the rear cover of the 1965 Penguin edition of Man In The High Castle... but that's not a photograph of author Philip K. Dick. Rather, it's a picture of Ted White, himself an author and editor of SF.


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