I want to write about some non-upsetting stuff, so as to try and steer this blog back to its normal, relatively cheery, self. I've got a rant about intellectual property and copyright which I've been meaning to get around to for a couple of weeks now.
First, though... half term has (apart from the obvious) been reasonably relaxing, and I've managed to get a fair amount of reading done. I'm nearly 2/3 of the way through Lance Parkin's Warlords of Utopia, the follow-up book to Of the City of the Saved... in Mad Norwegian's Faction Paradox range. It's not the first time I've read it -- I saw it in various draft formats -- but it's the first time I've read the final version, bound as a book, with a spine and everything. It's kind of short, relatively speaking -- 180 pages as opposed to City's 248, or This Town Will Never Let Us Go's mammoth 282 (and don't forget that these are big books, in terms of sheer page size and text density). It is, however, utterly fantastic.
For those of you who haven't encountered Lance's glorious S.F. premise, it's sheer high-concept spectacle: the countless parallel worlds where the Roman empire never fell discover the countless parallel worlds where the Nazis won World War Two, and they all have a great big fight! It's written as a work of idiosyncratic military history (by Marcus Americanius Scriptor, the character who turns up in the City of the Saved in Lance's Prologue to Warlords), and is somewhat in the style of I, Claudius, which seems to be emerging as something of an influence on the Faction line. Despite this being the second or third time I've read the novel, I'm finding severe difficulty in putting it down. Highly recommended.
I've recently finished Justina Robson's Natural History, which was (although through no fault of Ms Robson's I got distracted for a few weeks in the middle) also fab. I bought it on the basis of this review in The Guardian, which is quite correct in praising it highly. I may get round to reviewing it here sometime soon. (Alternatively, as ever, I may not.)
Oh, and back on the topic of the Faction... the cover for the fourth book in the series, Mags Halliday's Warring States, is now up at the Mad Norwegian website -- click on the small cover image to see a big one. Splendid, isn't it?