Micro-reviews (June 2018)

June 22, 2018

Station Eleven
, The 7th Function of Language and Night Heron




Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

The central premise of this novel is not especially new – a virus wipes out most of human race and civilization as we know it collapses. However, the approach is a bit different from most treatments of this scenario.  These tend to focus on either the event itself and its immediate aftermath, or a point in time when it’s become something of a dim and distant memory and a new post-apocalyptic society has formed.   Station Eleven, by contrast, moves back and forth between points in the characters’ lives that are either before the crisis - when people had no idea what was about to hit them - and a point sometime after it happened - when the initial shock has worn off but people are still struggling to come to terms with it and a new post-apocalyptic society has barely begun to form.   That might make it sound a bit meandering and lacking in focus, but I found it particularly effective in conveying how little we appreciate the many benefits of our technology-rich civilisation, how easily and quickly it could be swept away and how we would be likely to feel afterwards for having taken so much of it for granted.  



The 7th function of language by Laurent Binet

This definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – and if French intellectuals drive you up the wall, you should probably steer well clear.   On the other hand, you might be pleasantly surprised and amused to find those intellectuals becoming embroiled in a Dan Brown-esque plot involving the fictional murder of Roland Barthes and the urgent need to recover some vitally important information relating to a new theory about linguistics (on which the future of the world as we know it depends, naturally).  Anyway, I thought it was quite good fun but perhaps I’m just a sucker for this sort of thing.  I read it in French on my Kindle (he adds, pretentiously) – which I only mention here because a really great feature of the Kindle is that when you get to word you don’t know, you just stick your finger on it and it translates it for you (a feature which, I confess, I needed reasonably frequently for this one).   It is a shame more foreign language books aren’t available in the UK via Kindle in their original language – I can’t see what’s stopping publishers doing it.  I also enjoyed HHhH by the same author, which I reviewed here.



Night Heron by Adam Brookes

An excellent espionage thriller set mostly in China.  I have no idea if the depiction of the inner workings of MI6 was accurate, but it certainly came across as authentic and up to the minute – as did the depiction of China.  For once, I felt the Le Carre comparison was justified.

 

Publishing: the hedge fund approach

June 3, 2018



A hedge fund (De Montfort Capital) is offering new writers a salary of £24K a year and support to develop their careers.  Part of me thinks this approach to publishing is quite laudable - but part of me thinks it's slightly mad.  The bits I liked were the upfront commitment, the 50% royalty on sales and the support  - which is a striking contrast to most publishers, whose usual model involves a paltry royalty rate, limited help with editing, promotion etc and only committing themselves once ...
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Obooko revamped

May 28, 2018



Free ebooks platform Obooko has just undergone a (much delayed) revamp, with a much cleaner look and some improvements to the way you can browse/filter titles.  My experience with Obooko has been good in terms of the upload process etc, but less so in terms of downloads (click here for more details, including tips on how to create different types of ebook files for uploading to Obooko).  I've been on there since 2013 but my downloads remain stuck in the low hundreds - although others have don...
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Micro-reviews (May 2018)

May 14, 2018
Theory of Bastards, Munich and The People's House

I've tended to write longish reviews on this blog and I'll probably carry on with that for some books - especially self-published ones.  But I thought I'd have a go at doing some shorter reviews alongside these.  Let's see if I manage to keep it up.  At any rate, it's got to be better than just feeding star ratings into the hungry maw of Big Data (aka Goodreads/Amazon in this case).  Here goes:



Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman

Set a few year...

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Bad Faith by Jesse Tandler

April 30, 2018


We seem to be living through an age that puts an unhealthy premium on “authenticity”.  Politicians who are said to have this characteristic are excused any number of glaring faults - just look at Donald Trump or, closer to home, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and (at the opposite end of the spectrum) Jeremy Corbyn. They can say or do things that would be career-ending for other politicians – but they are tolerated, even praised for this, because they are regarded as being “true to themse...

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Me Blackberry Fool, You Apple Tart

March 12, 2018



"Me Blackberry Fool, You Apple Tart" by Amelia Slocombe is chick lit, which is not usually my genre of choice - but it caught my eye because one of the characters is a lawyer in a London law firm, which happens to be what I do for a living too.  I have also made a bit of a thing of trying to be a bit more open-minded when it comes to books which I have a tendency to dismiss as "not my thing", especially when it comes to free fiction by self-published authors (as in this case).

Having said that...
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To Kill the President: a (non) review

January 14, 2018



Just finished "To Kill the President" by Sam Bourne.  It wasn't bad - and although we never meet the President, I'm fairly sure I know who the author had in mind.  But who cares what I thought about it?  Here's what the Leader of the Free World made of it (allegedly), when it was drawn to his attention:

@realDonaldTrump tweeted:

Sam Bourne is a total loser and hater who made up a story to write this really boring and untruthful novel. More FAKE NEWS!

@realDonaldTrump tweeted:

Great reporting from...

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Jon Evans and the techno-travelogue thriller

December 4, 2017




Jon Evans is that rare beast – an author who has had a fair amount of commercial success but appears to be entirely happy to make most of his work available for free online.  Many of his novels have been conventionally published in a number of territories and have attracted impressive reviews from the likes of The Times, The Economist and The Washington Post (although as will be apparent from this timeline, his path to publication was far from smooth and resulted in the usu...


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Copyright registration: is it worth it?

September 2, 2017



On author sites like youwriteon.com (which I reviewed here), you sometimes see adverts for services like this one:
http://www.copyrightprotectionservice.com 

These companies typically charge a fee for "registering" your copyright for a period of years.  Some of the sites even look a bit like official agencies (they are not - they are businesses who are in it for a profit).

So is there any value in registering your copyright with them?  I dare say some authors are tempted to part with their hard ...
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All Out War

August 12, 2017


All Out War” by Tim Shipman seeks to answer the question “why did the UK vote to leave the EU?”  As you might expect, there were many reasons – but what the book conveys quite well is that there was no inevitability about the outcome (there were, after all, only about 700,000 votes in it, on a turnout of 33.5 million).  If even a relatively small number of things had played out differently, Brexit might not be happening.  Here are just a few examples:
  • 16 year olds:  Had 16 year olds...

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About Me


Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books and occasionally blogging about other stuff.
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