Monthly Archives: August 2013

Review of EBook Earth Star – Book 2 of the Earth Girl series by Janet Edwards


This anticipated sequel to Edwards’ highly successful debut YA science fiction Earth Girl, recently hit the bookshelves and I scooped up a Kindle copy. Would it live up to the high standard set by the first book in this entertaining and original series?

earthstarEighteen-year-old Jarra has a lot to prove. After being awarded one of the military’s highest honours for her role in a daring rescue attempt, Jarra finds herself – and her Ape status – in the spotlight. Jarra is one of the unlucky few born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Derided as an ‘ape’ – a ‘throwback’ – by the rest of the universe, Jarra is on a mission to prove that Earth Girls are just as good as everyone else. Except now the planet she loves is under threat by what could be humanity’s first ever alien contact. Jarra’s bravery – and specialist knowledge – will once again be at the centre of the maelstrom, but will the rest of the universe consider Earth worth fighting for?

This interesting concept is braided into the idea that Earth is now a backwater, largely inhabited by those unable to survive on other planets, and large tracts are now deserted and falling into ruin. But as a great deal of knowledge has also been lost in the social upheaval engendered by the flight to new planets, archaeologists from all the colony worlds congregate in the race to discover some of the scientific advancements now denied to humanity. It’s a cool twist – the world that comes closest to this idea is Eric Brown’s fabulous depiction of Paris in Engineman, which I think is one of the best slices of world-building I’ve ever read…

In addition, the story in Earth Star is pacy, event-filled and engrossing such that I didn’t put the book down until I’d finished. Jarra’s adventures in Earth Girl were exciting enough – but everything moves up a gear in this second book, when an alien spaceship appears. This being Edwards, of course, this often-covered science fiction plot device doesn’t settle into any sort of generic tale, but is given an extra twist. Jarra is pitchforked right into the middle of the action, along with her boyfriend. And before you roll your eyes at the notion of a teenage girl finding herself right in the middle of a major flap about an incipient alien invasion – there is a solid reason why she is there. And it works, in my opinion.

In amongst all the non-stop action, we also have Jarra’s relationship with her boyfriend deepening and her fear of commitment addressed. We meet other interesting characters – and learn a bit more about some of the main protagonists that appeared in Earth Girl. Niggles? Um. No. Not one. I just relaxed into this enjoyable, thoroughly readable book and am very much looking forward to reading the third book in the series to discover what will happen next.

Review of The Black Lung Captain – Book 2 of The Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding


This Fantasy swashbuckler is a steampunk novel with all the manic energy and larger than life characters we are used to seeing in that particular genre.

Darian Frey is down on his luck. He can barely keep his squabbling crew fed and his rickety aircraft in the sky. Even the simplest blacklungrobberies seem to go wrong. It’s getting so a man can’t make a dishonest living any more. Enter Captain Grist. He’s heard about a crashed aircraft laden with the treasures of a lost civilisation, and he needs Frey’s help to get it. There’s only one problem. The craft is lying in the trackless heart of a remote island populated by giant beasts and subhuman monsters.

Dangerous, yes. Suicidal, perhaps. Still, Frey’s never let common sense get in the way of a fortune before. But there’s something other than treasure on board that aircraft. Something that a lot of important people would kill for. And it’s going to take all of Frey’s considerable skill at lying and stealing if he wants to get his hands on it…

The blurb gives a good sense of the sort of story – full-on adventure and more than a hint of the nice touches of humour that run through the book, adding to the enjoyment. However it doesn’t give a sense of the strong characters peopling this tale. Wooding is not just capable of writing an action-packed adventure in an alternative world – he also manages to provide his readers with a ringside seat to the issues haunting Darian Frey and his odd crew, which include a demonologist, a fighter pilot suffering from post- traumatic stress syndrome, and a navigator with some inhuman qualities. In addition, we get an insight into Frey’s relationship with the woman he jilted – Trinica Dracken – with some genuinely moving moments in amongst all the battles, plots and double-crossings.

Although, once more, I’ve started a series in the wrong place  the story is sufficiently self contained, which allowed me to enjoy the adventure to the full.  This entertaining read held me throughout – and it is a substantial book nudging five hundred pages. So, given the fact that Wooding pulled me into his world and provided me with a lot of conflicted fun and high jinks, does he also succeed in nailing the ending, so that it brought the whole adventure to a satisfactory conclusion? Yes – he got that right, too.

If you want a late-summer treat, track down this book and lose yourself in the escapades of The Ketty Jay’s crew – with the addition of ice-cream, Life is as good as it gets…

Review of Sister by Rosamund Lupton


This author was recommended to me by one of my friends on the West Sussex Writers’ committee – and a week later, I managed to pick up a paperback copy at a secondhand book shop, so it was clearly meant to be.

Nothing can break the bond between sisters…

When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister’s life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face.  The police, Beatrice’s fiancé and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

sisterI picked this book up, idly skimmed down the first page – and was caught. I was already reading a book, with several others queuing up behind in the correct order (not that I’m obsessive, or anything) and I have views on books pushing in and upsetting the carefully arranged variety I have already organised. But this book wasn’t going to wait.

The strong first person viewpoint and constant tension, coupled with the fine writing had me utterly engrossed, so that I gorged on the book in two hefty sittings. Though I did have to break off at one stage to find some tissues because I was weeping… The protagonist is beautifully handled as we follow her desperate search for her sister, which entails finding out a series of very uncomfortable truths about herself. Lupton is adept at braiding the surroundings, weather and cast of well depicted, vivid characters through Beatrice’s consciousness, so that she is one of the strongest and most interesting protagonists I’ve read for a while.

But, of course, if you’ve read the book, I’m sure you’re waiting to hear what I have to say about the ending. Well – wow. I wasn’t expecting that. I actually dropped the book, and lost my place. And no, I’m not saying anything else about it, as I’m allergic to spoilers and the whole structure of the book hinges around this one.

Does it work? Um. Still not sure, actually. But it certainly makes this book an outstanding read that I’m sure I’ll still remember when a lot of other so-called enthralling reads have melted into the mush at the bottom of my cranium’s crevices. Because this really is a gripping book, and if you get a chance to read it, do so. If nothing else, so that you can weigh in with your opinion about the ending – I’d appreciate any feedback on it. I think she pulled it off, but it really is an audacious move…

The Adventure of Mike and SJ – Episode 9


This thread started on a forum Mike and I shared, when we started playing off each other about this alternative/fantasy persona we each gave ourselves. Since then, we’ve started writing a novel together and Mike has had a number of books published as Michael D. Griffiths (The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part I, The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part II, Eternal Aftermath) while I’ve been busy rewriting several books and establishing my Creative Writing classes at Northbrook College. But though he writes horror and I write sci fi, when we get together, we write… differently! So I thought I’d put a slice of our combined madness on my blog…

suvOh yeah? Well, here’s a thing Miss Snodgrass- bet that’s not your real name… What’s your christian name?
Hm… Not very fair, is it? You expect me to answer all your questions – and yet you won’t even tell me your name… Let me guess – you look like a Tamsin. I knew a Tamsin at school who used to pull the wings off butterflies.

Rendition? Yeah – of course I’ve heard of- Hey – it’s against the law. You can’t do that. You can’t…

This is it… I’m travelling again. Flying off to foreign climes. *gulp* Let’s not think about where I’m going and what’ll happen when I get there – or I’ll probably end up a sobbing heap on the carpet.

Least they’ve given me back my clothes to make the journey and I’m out of those paper overalls. They HAVE chafed, as it happens… And while wearing them I looked like some Teletubbies’ reject…

Hm… Pity no one got around to washing my jeans after tramping around that filthy corridor – look at this clod of mud stuck on the bottoms. Just a min… There’s something here in the middle of it. Hard and shin- Oh, my sainted aunt – it’s a jewel! Must’ve dropped out of the Orb. Better hang onto it. Maybe I can somehow return it to Her Majesty. I’m certainly not giving it to Miss Snodgrass – wouldn’t trust that gorgon further than I could flick her with my little finger. To think she’s been ordering me around since I arrived back from the States. Wonder why British Intelligence were interested in the Shov- I mean… Hang on, it was Miss Snodgrass who ordered me not to use the Sh-word wasn’t it? Shovel. There I said it. And the roof didn’t fall in, did it?

Oh-oh… Here they come. Deep breaths, SJ. Show a stiff upper lip. Wish I could wipe that grin off Snodgrass’s face… Those two guys with her look mean.  Though working with her, it’s hardly surprising.  Bet she could sour vinegar with that face…

‘Alright, alright… Don’t shove! I’ve coming quietly.’

Brrr. It’s a bit nippy out here, this morning. And I s’pose that’s where we’re headed – that black SUV parked over there. That was the one tailing us, wasn’t it? Didn’t ever think I’d end up having to sit in it.

Blimey, that seagull overhead is making an almighty racket… And it’s diving… Dahtoe! Yeah – Dahtoe! You sweetheart!

‘Go on – give old Snodgrass a proper scalp massage with those talons of yours – AND poop on her head… Yipee! Yeah! I take back everything I’ve ever said about you… You’re wonderful-

‘Mike! Are you ever a sight for sore eyes. And you’re safe-

Huh – um… Sorry about the hug and kiss. Got a bit carried away. Yeah – I’m good to go. Go on… Faster – I’m right behind you…. Nope – not that way. Turn down this road – here –

‘Stop running. Walk. Look like we’re just out for a stroll. No- not that way. You’re on my turf, buddy. No… I’m not a Londoner. No – I’ve never lived here, either. Or even visit all that much – but I’ve got an Underground map in the front on my diary – which I’ve memorised. So I pretty much know my way around the city. Now… there should be a big yellow circle coming up any minute, soon…’


“Hah, gave those two guys what-for. Did you see that, SJ? I swung the crowbar and he dodged, but I whipped it- Oh no! How’d it slip out’ve my grip like that? Uh-oh… can’t think it flying through that window is good…

“C’mon, SJ. Nope. I’m not running. This is just my very, very, very fast walking… You need to keep up. Well… that’s not a nice thing to say. Haven’t seen you in the longest time and been worrying myself to a shadow over what was happening to you – and now you’re here and once more giving me a pile of grief… Though the kiss was nice.

“What jer mean it was an accident? How can you accidentally kiss someone? Oh – your lips slipped… Hm. Must remember that one…

“Hang on. We’re getting close to Jack. See, there? A pool of spit and baccy. On the sidewalk. And… yes… I can just make out his hat. Over there… on the other side of the road.” We gotta keep moving. I gotta bad feeling about this biz – and shoot – more people littering up these sidewalks than crawdads at the Lilly Ponds… And we need to get over to the other side of this roadway.oxfordst

“Right. C’mon SJ run! Whoa – London cabbies can surely curse up a storm. Don’t know what his problem is. He stopped without hitting us, right?

“Now – c’mon SJ! Stop hanging around! Don’t want to end up wrapped around the front of that big old red bus… These roads are sure crammed with a load of cars and stuff. Hey! Jack!” Shoot – he’s plain flummoxed by all these folks and hasn’t seen us.

“No… SJ… don’t think jumping up and down and yelling his name like that is a good idea. Nope. Wasn’t thinking about Brit cool, as it happens. I reckon those guys are following us and there are more of them. Shoot – and I had to lose my crowbar…

“Right. Quickly. Down this turning, here, SJ…”

Oh no, they’re following. All six of them. This could be trouble. We are cornered in this old alley.

“Go and hide behind that bin, SJ. Yeah – so it’s smelly. And? I need not to be worrying about you when I-

“Oh yeah! Get em Jack. Go Primus, get your prime on! Howdy-de-do to you, too fella! That boy knows what he is doing. What’s that he’s using on them? A cricket bat! Never seen that before. Here. Hold my phone SJ, I need to jump into the fray. It looks like fun!”

Review of Dangerous Waters – Book 1 of The Hadrumal Crisis by Juliet E. McKenna


Anyone who reads my reviews will know that I have a particular fondness for politically nuanced Fantasy written by intelligent, talented writers. Her canon of work to date firmly puts McKenna in this category – in fact, I’m frustrated that she isn’t a lot better known. So – would I find this first offering in her latest trilogy up to the mark? After all, this will be her thirteenth book set in this world – can McKenna sustain the originality and range of different situations necessary to keep and extend her readership?

The Archmage rules the island of wizards and has banned the use of magecraft in warfare, but there are corsairs raiding the Caladhrian Coast, enslaving villagers and devastating trade. Barons and merchants beg for magical aid, but all help has been refused so far.

Lady Zurenne’s husband has been murdered by the corsairs. Now a man she doesn’t even know stands as guardian over her and her daughters. Corrain, former captain and now slave, knows that the man is a rogue wizard, illegally selling his skills to the corsairs. If Corrain can escape, he’ll see justice done. Unless the Archmage’s magewoman, Jilseth, can catch the renegade first, before his disobedience is revealed and the scandal shatters the ruler’s hold on power…

The three main protagonists who tell the story are Corrain, the enslaved Caladhrian captain; Lady Zurenne, recently widowed and dangerous waterssuffering the depredations of an insolent steward on behalf of the hated and powerful Minelas; and Jilseth, who is Archmage Planir’s favourite fixer. They all face difficult odds – arguably, Jilseth has the hardest, if not the most desperate task. For it falls to her to try and keep the exploits of the outlaw mage from reaching the ears of the Caladhrian nobility – for the Archmage and his Council are only too aware that for all their power, mages are vulnerable to infuriated mobs with pitchforks.

I loved this book, which grabbed me from the moment I read the first page and held me right up until the end. It’s a long book, but at no point did I feel the action sagged – because this book has it all… slavery, magic, political plotting, overbearing nobility and desperate widows… The contrast of characters is perfect – Corrain’s vengeful fury battling with his need to remain suitably submissive as a slave is deftly portrayed. What I like about McKenna, is that she doesn’t see the need to paint her heroes and heroines as faultless or completely likeable. So Corrain makes some significant mistakes – but given the circumstances and his background, it is entirely realistic that he would underestimate anyone physically weaker.

Jilseth is the most capable of the protagonists – and yet, she cannot sustain her stance of disinterestedness, despite her best efforts. I particularly enjoyed the friction between the magewoman and Lady Zurenne, when Jilseth is trying to discover exactly what is going on. I’ve read a couple of reviewers who were frustrated that Lady Zurenne seemed unable to break free of the rules stifling her ability to act as a free agent. Apparently, they were waiting for her to arm her feisty eldest daughter with a sword and turn her into some female warrior… McKenna has managed to resist the modern trend in historical fantasy of abruptly emancipating her female characters, thank goodness. It is a trend that intensely annoys me.

It suggests that our female forebears merely needed to pull themselves together, learn a few defensive moves, grab a handy weapon and they would be able to operate just fine alongside their menfolk. But as Lady Zurenne’s reactions and instincts clearly demonstrate – no matter how outrageously unfair the law may be to women, it is a far harder business to defy legal and social conventions. If it wasn’t, millions of women wouldn’t be still struggling across the planet in the face of daily injustice and discrimination. I think she rises to the challenge of keeping herself and her daughters safe magnificently and one of the reasons why Jilseth can no longer remain completely impartial, is witnessing Lady Zurenne’s plight – and her gritted courage in coping with it.

As you may have gathered, I really enjoyed this book. McKenna’s nuanced, smart writing presents her world as every bit as messy and complicated as ours – and though this book and series is nested within a very well established setting, at no time does the author rely on a reader’s prior knowledge of her previous output in order to make sense of this one. Which is a harder trick to pull off than you might think – or maybe not, given how few writers really manage to do it.

So, though I would recommend that you dive into McKenna’s world if you are looking for intelligently written, three dimensional fantasy, there is no reason why you shouldn’t start with this particular series. In fact, I strongly recommend you do so – you’ll be thanking me if you do.



During this summer stay, I found myself promising my two grandchildren (8 and 3) a day at Legoland, Windsor… In my defence, I might add that when we took their mother and her brother a few years ago (oh, alright – MUCH longer ago than that!) we had a really enjoyable day. There was the odd queue, but overall I recall that we managed to pack a lot into the day and a great time was had by all.

Frankie & Oscar @ Legoland (4)Last Tuesday, we set off at 8 am, aiming to arrive at Windsor for the opening of the park at 10. But our journey didn’t go according to plan, as there were major roadworks which brought us to a complete halt, until we took a turning onto a teeny, tiny road barely marked on the roadmap, with yours truly navigating. Always a rather hairy business as I am one of those sad souls who needs to turn the map upside down in order to work out whether we have to go left or right. Needless to say, despite Himself’s encouraging, kind words, route-finding didn’t go smoothly.

Even Himself’s calm demeanour was fraying a bit around the edges once we hit the M25, however. We’d manage to reach 30 mph, before it all stopped for several minutes, then crawled along for another couple of miles, gradually increasing to said 30 mph, before the miserable process repeated itself. Over and over… Sheer weight of traffic was the cause.

Once we finally arrived at Legoland, of course, we realised why the M25 was so saturated with traffic – the majority of the cars were streaming into the place. We were parked a good distance away and had a longtrudge to the ticket booths – which was about the only time that day we didn’t have to queue very long, because we’d pre-booked via the internet. Our initial plan to get there for the beginning of the day was already in shreds – it was now 11am and the place was heaving. We had a 10 minute queue for the toilets. Every time.

Both children had seen the internet tour and decided what they particularly wanted to see and ride on – and we now had to rapidly Frankie & Oscar @ Star Wars, Legolandrevise that schedule. We managed to get them onto the Lego cars (40 minute queue); the submarine ride (30 minute queue); the train (50 minute queue); the JCB digger ride (45 minute queue); the lazar raider ride (70 minute queue. Add in the tour of the mini-village and the Star Wars display, stopping for food and drink and toilet breaks – that pretty much summed up the day.

Himself and I don’t enjoy crowds, or queuing. So it wasn’t our favourite day by a long country mile. However, there were several positives. Overall, I was impressed by the level of service and efficiency shown. If any of the operatives working literally flat out were hot and fed up with the never-ending crowds, there was no sign of it. Anywhere. The park wasn’t completely litter-free, but it was close and the whole place was clearly used to dealing with the insane numbers of people and dealt with them as efficiently as possible.

And the other MAJOR plus-point was the behaviour of the children. Our own were absolute angels. In all those weary hours of standing still in close proximity to lots of other people and shuffling forward at the pace of a dozing snail, not once did they grizzle or complain. The majority of the young visitors were little – you had to watch out for the dozens and dozens of pushchairs being wheeled around the grounds, and while there was occasionally the wail of a weary or tired baby, mostly the noise was excited chatter. I was awed and impressed at the high standard of behaviour by the majority of young children.

And maybe a little sad. I don’t recall ever standing in a queue for over an hour aged 3 and I’m fairly sure I would have been bored and upset. Clearly, modern children are already acclimatised to this procedure and it is doubtless a useful skill to learn. But… I think of the hours we just stood waiting at Legoland, against the very short time when we were actually doing something – and wonder by the time they reach my age, how much of their lives my grandchildren will have spent standing in queues.

Review of The Red Knight – Book 1 of The Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron


There are books that you eagerly anticipate from favourite authors. And then there are the delightful surprises. Books you opened on a whim, or that someone recommended, but you weren’t expecting all that much from them, because for starters, they’re not set in your favourite sub-genre. When you find something that whisks you away to somewhere remarkable. Unexpectedly. Which is why I LOVE books and reading…

redknightTwenty-eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild. Twenty-eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern’s jaws snaps shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip your head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men – or worse, a company of mercenaries – against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder.

It requires the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it. The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he’s determined to turn a profit. So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery it’s just another job. The abbey is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can’t deal with. Only it’s not just a job. It’s going to be war…

You see – military medieval fantasy generally doesn’t do it for me. I’ve read plenty in my time, and until my husband nagged me to try this book, I’d more or less decided I wouldn’t shed any tears if I didn’t ever read any more. But this… is different. For starters, Cameron knows what he’s talking about. He’s been involved in role-playing, martial arts – he’s actually jousted in tournaments… And it shows in the writing. Most writers toss in a bit about the armour getting a bit heavy as they’re slashing at the enemy with their swords – with Cameron, you can never forget his knightly protagonists are wearing full armour – because they are reduced to looking at the battlefield through eyeslits.

I also felt that Cameron’s world is fully feudal, with men and women defined by their rank and women regarded by most fighting men as fair game. Which is pretty much as it was – no matter how much we’d like it if it wasn’t. So much modern fantasy stories set in this period glosses the fact that everyone was supposed to act according to their station – never mind glass ceilings, trying to overcome a low birth was more like breaking out of a lead-lined box.

The narrative is action-led, that is – the character progression and story unfolds as the campaign progresses and intensifies. Again, not my favourite story structure by a long country mile, but Cameron handles a large cast of characters and constant scene shifting with impressive technical skill and at no time was I floundering or – my general default in books of this type – skimming one particular character/plotline in favour of another. It was all gripping and highly readable, with many of the main characters having intriguing back stories that unfold throughout the book.

So, as it steadily heads towards the major confrontations in the climax, does Cameron manage to provide sufficient excitement and drama after the steadily building tension throughout most of the book? Absolutely. The fight scenes are well depicted and cinematically sharp with the brutal consequences of hacking at each other with heavy metal weapons clearly documented – without any unnecessary lingering on the inevitable blood and guts. It is a fine line to tread and Cameron pulls it off – if every fight scene had descended into a gorefest I would not have managed to get through this book, even if it was a cracking read on all other counts.

The magic is beautifully handled. Again, there is a price to pay for being able to use such powers and even high-born gentlemen take care not to be too open in their use of such talents. Overall, this book is a joy – but don’t take my word for it, go and hunt down a copy and read it for yourself.

Review of Dark Eden by Chris Beckett


This science fiction offering was a BSFA nominee and the winner of the 2013 Arthur C. Clarke award, so I was interested to see what all the fuss was about. Would my tastes line up with those who felt it was an outstanding read?

You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of Angela and Tommy. You shelter beneath the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the forest lie mountains so forbidding that no one has ever crossed them. The Oldest recount legends of a time when men and women made boats that could travel between worlds. One day, they will come back for you.

You live in Eden. You are member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, in the warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of an alien, sunless world. You are John Redlantern, a teenager and agent of change for life in Eden.

darkedenThis book has a 1970’s feel about it – but with modern nuances and the story being told through a number of the most prominent characters in first person viewpoint. John Redlantern, the main protagonist who feels that the Family emphasis on the past and insistence on staying put in the Circle Valley despite the increasing scarcity of food, starts off as a classic hero. But Beckett is far too sophisticated to leave him as the idealised leader-in-waiting for the group. Despite his intelligent farsightedness, John is essentially far too calculating and self-absorbed to be an effective leader. There is also a sense that the colony’s very open-ended attitude towards sex has caused harm to youngsters like John, who are in demand from the older women. The dynamic between the sexes is very interesting. While the Family is static over a period of time, the Leaders are mostly women who govern through a series of meetings. Once the situation becomes more tense and fluid, this group of women are by-passed as a group of the most effective male hunters take over and decide that they will fix the problem using more aggressive methods. Because the story unfolds through the characters’ viewpoint, Beckett allows the reader to decide which option is preferable for the long term stability and wellbeing of the Family

The backstory of the colony is poignant and effectively depicted, and as the Family’s eldest members all recount the stories of a place where they belong – a place with light – the majority of the colonists yearn to return to Earth. One of the interesting twists, is that one of the original astronauts had a cleft palette and with the amount of inter-breeding that has occurred, there are a number of colonists born with this defect and other more significant problems.

The prose is spare, with a number of invented words and phrases the colonists have coined during their time on Eden (an ironic choice of name), but this belies the richness of detail and complexity Beckett has managed to include in this tale. Several other reviewers have speculated as to whether there will be a sequel. Like others, I would certainly go to some lengths to seek out a continuation of this fascinating story – but my hunch is that Beckett has so effectively portrayed the plight and ongoing situation of this lost strand of humanity, he sees no need to revisit this scenario. And if you only ever pick up a handful of science fiction books a year, make this one of that handful. You won’t be sorry if you do.

Flora and fauna at Highdown Gardens


We visited Highdown Gardens a couple of weeks ago with the camera – and I got a shedload of nature pics – starting with the grandlets running around the garden; budlia, a very cheeky robin; damson fly on a gunnera leaf; day lily;  hollyhocks; a butterfly and a bee on a stand of rudbeckia... not a bad haul!



Children @ Highdown Gardens2 Buddlia Davidia1 Cheeky robin2 Damson fly on gunnera Day lily1 Hollyhock flowersFritillary & bee on rudbeckia