Monday, 23 May 2011

Current reading

I'm away from home at the moment, and have a book I need to read for review, so with regret (and not wanting to travel with two hefty hardbacks) I've had to set this aside until I return. It's a measure of the book that I can't wait to get back into it.

Mitchell is one of my favorite contemporary novelists, and Thousand Autumns ... doesn't disappoint. It's a mesmering window into a truly fascinating period - the dawn of the modern age - and a snapshot of the intersection of two radically different cultures - feudal Japan in and around Nagasaki, and a corrupt outpost of the Dutch East India Company in 1799. Mitchell is a brilliant, cunning engineer of narrative hooks - it's difficult to imagine a more compulsive, page-turning narrative - but he's also a great writer of character, and on a line by line basis the writing is quite beautiful. When he mentions a bat, "chased by its own furry turbulence", he hooks an image into my mind that I think will stay with me forever.


  1. That book is indeed superb -- glad you're liking it too.

  2. This is one of the novels chosen for discussion at Fife's Readers' Day in November. J David Simmons chose it for the session he will be leading on - sounds like there will be plenty for the group to discuss.

  3. Alastair:

    You'd probably like James Clavell's work, especially Shogun. Shogun has some of the best worldbuilding I've ever seen; comparable to that of Revelation Space.

    The European Union's new space shuttle looks disturbingly like the Nostalgia for Infinity:


  4. The EU-Shuttle looks a bit like Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Fireball XL5:

  5. Mitchell really is one of the masters of the craft. Haven't got this particular book yet but I finished both Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten in a couple of days.

    I remember the EU space shuttle design on another website under the headline 'The Future of Supersonic Flight'. Weird.

  6. This book sounds lyrical/descriptive rather than technical. Not heard of it before.

  7. Lev: the trouble with these hypersonic concepts as that they pop up about once a decade and then die a slow death. The man behind the latest splurge is Alan Bond, who was the originator of the HOTOL concept way back in the eighties.

    Madeleine: I can't recommend Mitchell enough. And no, it's in no way technical! It's basically just a big, gorgeous, intensely realised historical novel.

  8. shusaku endo; the samurai (no swordfights - but one of the most beautiful opening pages in any novel i've read)

    (reading your relevation space books now; brilliant stuff)

  9. REVELATION space, it is!