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Other posts by Paul St John Mackintosh

English courts gag child abuse victims
May 26, 2015 | 3:37 pm

91HpXAOP8hLBritain - or more accurately, England - is not a great place for freedom of speech, or freedom of any kind, right now. You have UK Home Secretary Theresa May pushing to pre-emptively censor British broadcasting in cases of "extremism." You have similar logic being spouted by Prime Minister David Cameron in moves to target supposed radicalization, arguing that: "For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone." And, alas, you have more private realms of English law being used to silence individuals...

Book review: The Rhesus Chart, by Charles Stross, Little, Brown
May 26, 2015 | 7:42 am

contentSuccessors to the Lovecraftian legacy are many and variable, but Charles Stross's Laundry Files cycle is among the most distinguished. Scientific rigour combined with bleak pessimism would surely appeal to HPL himself, especially when seasoned with the same genre spice as Weird Tales days - updated to espionage potboilers and Tom Clancy. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, though, because Stross manages to play off the grubbiness of a UK civil service department (the dirty-linen-festooned Laundry) against the grim horror of its raison d'etre and the Kafkaesque irony of bureaucracies stacking card indices against annihilation, in a way...

Ian McEwan comes out for Charlie Hebdo, against PEN copouts
May 21, 2015 | 3:17 pm

Salon_du_livre_de_Paris_2011_-_Ian_McEwan_-_003Celebrated British novelist Ian McEwan has given a magisterial commencement address at Dickinson College in support of the principle of free speech in general, of Charlie Hebdo in particular, and against those fellow writers who withdrew from the PEN America Center gala held to award its Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo. The address has been posted up as a video and a full transcript by Time Magazine here, and as a video by Huffington Post here. I won't bother copying and pasting the whole text, which is available to all. McEwan's address on the genesis and importance of...

Book review: We Are All Completely Fine, by Daryl Gregory, Tachyon Publications
May 19, 2015 | 12:25 pm

51V0BoyQk4LThe July 2014 publication We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory is one of the nominees in the Novella category for this year’s Shirley Jackson Awards nominations, and comes fairly well garlanded already with recommendations and plaudits. Are they justified? The answer is a polite "FUCK yeah!" The plot briefly is that  Dr. Jan Sayer gathers together a therapy group of five - literally - scarred, maimed and traumatized survivors of very unique and untypical ordeals, from cannibal holocausts to quite unique child abuse, and finds weird and horrible revelations erupting in the collision between their fractured and...

Indie bookstores off the critical list – who would know?
May 19, 2015 | 10:25 am

downloadAn article in The Daily Beast, "Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying," draws attention to the by-now-just-a-wee-bit-well-known fact that indie bookstores as a whole are not doing so very badly in the post-disruption post-Amazon era, and as it happens are in some cases doing quite well. This isn't to pooh-pooh the sufferings of those worthy bookshops that are struggling in current trading conditions, but it is to discredit the grand Big Five/Luddite narrative of brave little bookshops and their stalwart publisher allies struggling against the Amazon behemoth. The article, covering bookstores in the context of the first Independent Bookstore Day, still...

Book review: Unseaming, by Mike Allen, Antimatter Press
May 18, 2015 | 12:25 pm

22472298This year's Shirley Jackson Awards nominations have produced a particularly distinguished slate in almost every category. In fact, Laird Barron, himself one of the aces in the current pack of horror and dark fiction writers, does a particularly fine thumbnail sketch of the strength of the contemporary genre in "A Stitch in Darkness," his introduction to this particular nominee in the Single-Author Collection category, Unseaming by Mike Allen, who, he says, "has, with this debut collection, immediately made a case for his inclusion at the forefront of the New New Wave. Unseaming is representative of the finest work being done today." These fourteen stories show a...

Arvon job ad hints at new UK creative writing platform
May 18, 2015 | 10:25 am

arvon-logoAn online job ad posted by UK creative writing charity Arvon, "renowned for its residential creative writing courses for schools, groups and individuals," points to an interesting new creative writing platform in the UK. The ad is for a Digital Communications Officer "to assist in the delivery of a major new digital project for Arvon, an online resource section about the craft of writing, with premium content for members, and a new Tumblr website that highlights writing expertise across the web." The ad continues: "The principles of the programme are about opening up access to opportunities in the arts, and talent...

Book review: Arthur Symons: The Symbolist Movement in Literature,
May 16, 2015 | 12:25 pm

redon.cyclops  This is another review of a long-extant book (originally published in 1899), but a new digitization of this hard-to-find work over at made a good case for this. The Symbolist Movement in Literature, by the English sometime poet and critic Arthur Symons, has not been made available via Project Gutenberg, though many of his other works have, but has made up the difference. For such a supposedly vague, cryptic movement as Symbolism, Symons pins down exactly what was going on "in this revolt against exteriority, against rhetoric, against a materialistic tradition; in this endeavour to disengage the ultimate essence, the soul,...

Antique Lumière Brothers footage resurrects Bloomsday’s Dublin
May 16, 2015 | 10:25 am

MI+Lumiere+brothers+footage+dublin+late+1800s+YouTube  As many literati will know, Bloomsday is the annual celebration of James Joyce's Ulysses, and of Joyce himself in general, fixed on the same day, June 16th, that the events of the novel take place on in 1904. Now, thanks pioneering French cinematographers the Lumière Brothers, footage of Dublin dating back to 1897, showing O’Connell Street and St Stephen's Green just a few years prior to the events of the book, has been put into a new work. The footage has been incorporated into a 30-minute film, "Ireland - Birth of a Nation," produced by filmmaker Gerard McCarthy "to mark the...

British Academy Literature Week gets seriously fey
May 15, 2015 | 4:25 pm

14209  The British Academy Literature Week 2015, now under way, is offering a program heavily weighted towards fairy tales, ghost stories, fantasies, folk myths, and other deliciously imaginative genres. The British Academy, "the UK's expert body that supports and speaks for the humanities and social sciences – that rich variety of disciplines that study peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future," and "funds research across the UK and in other parts of the world, in disciplines ranging from archaeology to economics, from psychology to history, and from literature to law," has put together a schedule including "Other Worlds... after dark,"...

Men of Harlech rejoice worldwide for first Dylan Day
May 15, 2015 | 12:25 pm

dylan_day_poster_english_final_website  Dylan Day, in full the International Dylan Thomas Day, took place for the first time this year on May 14th, "the date Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at 92Y The Poetry Center, New York in 1953," according to the official Literature Wales website. And for those who want to recreate that original experience, there is a recording of a BBC Wales broadcast in October 2014 courtesy of the 92Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, staged in New York for the Dylan Thomas centenary. "92Y is proud to mark the inaugural Dylan Day by sharing this recording once more," the...

Still time to vote in the World Fantasy Awards Ballot
May 15, 2015 | 10:25 am

wfaward200Nominations for the 2015 World Fantasy Awards are approaching their close, as the end of the voting window draws near. As per the World Fantasy Convention 2015 website, "the World Fantasy Awards Ballot is being sent to all members of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 World Fantasy Conventions," with voting to close by May 31st. Ballot forms are also available for download on the website. "All registered members of the 41st World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs plus the members of the convention in Washington and in Brighton are eligible to vote before the deadline." Voters can nominate up to five...

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