Out of this world…

Went for a quick jaunt down to London last Friday, ostensibly for a bit of research for the story I’m working on, but I also had time to go to the British Library for a look around. Such an amazing place, entering gave me the same hushed-reverence feeling as entering a church, which might be a tad blasphemous but for a book-lover…

Their Out of This World exhibition of Sci-Fi writings and media (#outofthisworld) was brilliant – a fascinating and insightful look at the genre through the ages. And surprisingly, there’s nothing modern or new about it – it’s been around for centuries. I have an uneasy relationship with Sci-Fi, some I like, some I don’t, but I certainly bulked up my summer reading list from the books featured in the exhibition.

One author in particular caught my eye – China Mieville – and his featured book The City and The City. Searches of my local library failed to find it but I did get Kraken – also by Mieville – and am currently being blown away by it. His writing style is unlike any other, perhaps vaguely Neil Gaiman-ish but not really and manages to pull you right into the heart of the story. I haven’t finished it yet but I’ll try my hardest to today.

If you haven’t heard of him – I’m waving the flag – go find a China Mieville book as soon as you can as prepare to read something unlike anything you’ve read before…


Summer Saturday Bike Ride

Just a few photos – it was such a beautiful day!

The Miracle of the Resurrection…

…of my bicycle.

(This post would have been much better with before and after photos – unfortunately I didn’t think of that until afterwards.)

I don’t particularly like cycling – if I want to go out and enjoy the countryside I’d rather walk as there are more opportunities to take photos and it’s much less effort. It was such a nice day this Saturday though that I had the urge to go for a bike-ride, so long as it was somewhere flat.

One slight snag – my bike has been chained up outside my flat for almost 2 years – through two particularly harsh winters and all the weather in between. It also had some sort of climbing plant growing up and around its frame, and ivy had completely covered the bottom of its wheels. Undeterred, I set about trying to get it into a ride-able state.

The thing that took the longest was probably trying to get the padlock off – copious oil and much key-wiggling couldn’t offset the effect of rain and dirt, but a few blows from the lump hammer soon sorted it out. Getting the plants off it, whilst trying to be noble and not just rip the lot off but actually unwind it and not break the plant, took a while too, but eventually my bike was free. Now to see how it had fared…

Not too badly, all considering. The handle bars are a bit rusty where the paint has flaked off, but that’s it really – I pumped the tires up, oiled everything I could reach and that was that – one bike, ready to go! The brakes were fine, the gears were fine – good old British engineering!!

One 10.5 mile bike ride later and despite rather bruised seat bones – I’ll definitely be cycling more and more this summer… so long as it’s somewhere flat!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (SPOILER ALERT!)

I think I would go and see a Transformers film just for the sounds – the mechanical humming/whirring (not quite sure how to describe it) that characterises the robots’ movements and transformations, and the slow-mo beat of helicopter rotor blades just make my heart trip a little faster.

Happily, there is more to recommend this film than simply its sound effects – this Transformers cleaves much more closely to the cut of the original and is a definite improvement on pretty much all that was wrong with Revenge of the Fallen. Huge, chaotic battles with absolutely breath-taking visuals (I will try my very hardest to get to see this in an IMAX) fill the screen for much of the film, and one Decepticon – Shockwave – is stunning.

For a Michael Bay film, this one does take a while to get going. There are fits and starts of action, but much of the first half of the film it taken up with getting the characters into the right place for the main showdown to occur. Sam is looking for a job – cue John Malkovich as his mercurial new employer – and letting everyone know why Megan Fox is no longer his girl friend without ever actually saying why. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is the new eye candy and although it was hard to tell over her massively collagen-ed lips, she made Fox look like an Oscar-winning actress and seemed incapable of any expression other than a pout, probably due to said lips.

When the final battle does get underway it is, naturally, awesome. The robots get the most scenes, with the humans mostly leading the eye of the audience, and the fighting in this Transformers is truly brutal. People die, robots are shredded, and Megatron gets a good seeing to. Sentinel Prime is satisfyingly ambiguous and adds another layer to the Autobots = good/ Decepticons = bad theme. This film reunites all the key characters; Lennox and his men, and Simmons with scene-stealing sidekick Dutch played brilliantly by Alan Tudyk.

Dark of the Moon is well worth watching as it presents a return-to-form for the franchise. It is everything you’d expect from a Michael Bay film, and better than you’d hope in a lot of places. It’s up against a lot of comic book/superhero films this summer, but Dark of the Moon well and truly holds its own, and definitely lives up to the excitement caused by its trailer.