This wouldn't have happened with Gainsborough or one of those proper painters.

Friday, October 28



Doctor Who won't be back until Christmas, but in the meantime we have the third spinoff of New Who, Class.

It's set at Coal Hill School - now Coal Hill Academy - and features a group of plucky teenagers and their maths teacher (who isn't quite what she seems) facing down alien threats coming through the Hellmouth time rift caused by fifty years of previous alien threats.

So, very Sarah Jane Adventures?  In fact, no; it's more Torchwood than anything else.  But since this is about and targeted at teenagers, and is a British TV series, they've turned down the sex and turned up the violence to compensate.

And I'm not sure I like it.  The obvious comparison is to Buffy, but the dialog in Buffy sparkled in a way that is so far missing from Class.  It's not awful, and I'm not the target audience, but on the other hand I don't feel that it expands the scope of the shared fictional universe the way Torchwood managed (particularly in its first two seasons).

I don't honestly see the point of it.

I give it two blood splatters out of four, subject to later review.

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Wednesday, July 20


Not All Monsters


Art by Tallychyck.

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Wednesday, April 04


It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Easter

It's a beautiful spring day here at Pixy Central* and I'll have a seasonal refresh of the main site up this evening.  But you, dear reader, get a sneak preview of the latest work from our wonderful Chelsea Rose:

* Actually, it's well into autumn down here, but we're having better weather this week than we did all summer, so I feel I can call it spring if I want to...

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Friday, March 16


Your Table Awaits At The Minx Cafe

Minx and Miko, drawn by the wonderful Chelsea Rose.
Looks like they've had to take up a part time job because I'm running late rolling out  Hang in there girls!

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Thursday, January 26


Now Is The Time At The Mee When We Dance

So to speak.

Alive and Brilliant

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Saturday, January 21


Nothing New Under The Sun

I was struck by a thought today* and posted on Twitter:
Is the Pushmi-Pullyu** a kind of palindromedary?
Then I was struck by another thought* and Googled the term palindromedary.

And got 27,000 hits.

Which is impressive and depressing simultaneously.

* Ow!
** From Doctor Dolittle.

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Friday, November 18


Capsule Reviews

Zendegi, Greg Egan

Meh.  Lost interest, stopped reading.

Snuff, Terry Pratchett

Not his best.  But then, his best is very, very good.

The Children of the Sky, Vernor Vinge

The long-awaited sequel to the classic A Fire Upon the Deep disappoints.  Some interesting parts, but the villain of the piece is petty, stupid, and dull.  Doesn't measure up to the original or the prequel.*

The Atrocity Archive, The Jennifer Morgue, The Fuller Memorandum, Charles Stross

I like most (not all, but most) of Stross's work, and these are some of his best.  Think computational linguistics meets British spy thriller meets H. P. Lovecraft.  Snow Crash meets Declare.  Recommended if you like any of those things.  (I was re-reading those after I tossed Zendegi on the eight deadly words pile.)

The Clockwork Rocket, Greg Egan

Has potential, still reading.  It's about an amoeboid alien chick from another universe who is her species' Einstein-analogue.  The science is laid on a bit thick at times - what I'm looking for is more of Egan's brilliant last-third-of-Schild's-Ladder** and so far this is intriguing but not quite it.

* Mind you, both of those won the Hugo award for best novel, so it had a lot to live up to.

** The first third wasn't bad either; the second third plodded, but the last third took wing and soared.

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Friday, June 24


Last Heaven Of The Undersun

By Guy Gavriel Kay

The Last Light of the Sun
Under Heaven

I've always liked Guy Kay's work, even the Fionavar Tapestry which was an early work and rather derivative.  Tigana was and remains the standout; the theme of a country not merely conquered but wiped from history simply resonates.

His more recent works, starting with The Lions of Al-Rassan, have each recast a particular time and place in history into fantasy terms.

With Under Heaven he brings Tang Dynasty China very effectively to life.  The story doesn't work perfectly; the latter third of the book veers from the personal voyage to Great Events and loses much of its earlier charm.  But it remains compelling even so.

Less so (so far) with The Last Light of the Sun, for two reasons.  First, there is no central character, and none of the major characters gets enough time to really develop.  Second, it's set in 10th century Scandinavia and Britain, which is pretty much a crapsack world - unlike Sarantium (the Byzantine Empire) or Kitai (China), it has no charms to offer.  All you can do is wait for the arrival of the Black Death and the collapse of feudalism; by the 15th century things will be picking up a bit.  I haven't finished the book yet, but mid-way through I'm not very much inclined to.

If you're not familiar with Kay I definitely recommend picking up Tigana.  I'd suggest taking the books in order from there.

Update: I did finish The Last Light of the Sun, and...  Well, it's not quite the same telegraphed downer ending as The Lions of Al-Rassan, but it's near enough.

A consistent theme through both books is that of destiny; indeed, Kay has something of a habit of clubbing the reader over the head with this.  For a much defter handling of that subject, you can't go past Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion books - The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls.  Now those I can recommend unreservedly.

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Tuesday, June 07


Codex Alera

By Jim Butcher

Book 1: The Furies of Calderon
Book 2: Academ's Fury

In this work, Butcher asks the question: Does unearned power turn people into amoral cretins?  And answers it with a resounding yes.

The only problem is, that accounts for the entire dramatis personae.

There is still something of a trainwreck fascination at work, but I can't say I've actually enjoyed the series so far.  The contrast to the Dresden Files novels couldn't be more marked: Harry Dresden has earned the readers' respect and support by fighting and sacrificing for every inch he has gained. 

The characters infesting the Codex Alera, on the other hand, are a bunch of whiny children.  Whiny psychopathic children.  With learning disabilities.

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Thursday, May 05


The Name Of The Wind

By Patrick Rothfuss

The words are pretty, but I have no interest in the main character whatsoever, and 70-odd pages in there are no other characters, only cardboard cutouts.

Taking the broken hero and winding him up and setting him on his way again, Curse of Chalion-style, could have worked well.  But a two-thousand-page flashback?  No.  Just no.

Zero silences out of four.

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