The Southern Reach Trilogy

My interest in this book / trilogy began when I saw the film ‘Annihilation’ on Netflix. I thought it was an interesting story and I wanted to read the book, if there was one. Little did I know that the ‘book’ was in fact a trilogy called the Southern Reach. I decided to read it. In part because I found the film version fascinating, and in part because I love a good trilogy.

At this point it is only prudent to point out that if you haven’t seen the film or read the books you might not want to read any further. I don’t want to give anything away, or at least that’s not my intention, but you never know.

I really enjoyed the film. I had no expectations of it at all and no idea what the story was about, but after watching it I realised that it had some very interesting concepts. Hence wanting to read the book(s). Of course, as with any movie made from a book as the original source material, the book is often better, or at least adds a great deal of context. Even more so with the South Reach Trilogy. In fact, the books add so much that they make a lot of the story make sense. Having said that, in the trilogy, the story is complicated, or rather the core concept is complicated, or perhaps a better word is dense, or even impenetrable.

I think that I enjoyed reading the books. In a way they shed no real light on the film, and the film sheds no light on the books. The books to add a lot of context though. I enjoyed both. With both I am wondering what happens next. Perhaps that in itself is a good thing. Perhaps that in a sense, is the point.

Brian Patten, Selected Poems

I bought this collection late last year after reading ‘Vanishing Trick’ again after decades. I enjoyed it so much I had to have more of his work, and I wonder why I haven’t read this sooner. His work is incredible, insightful, poignant and beautiful. Some of these poems just bring me up short, like they were written entirely to speak to me in the very moment that I find myself reading them. They are incredible.

In some ways I just want to read it all over again, but I should probably wait. Instead I might just buy more of his books and satisfy myself with those.

If you don’t know his work, change that.

Survivors: New Dawn 1

Firstly, I have to say that is great that Survivors is back. I am really pleased that Big Finish decided to revive the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the nine box sets that they produced over the years, and, even if they had finished there it would have been excellent. I think I’ve listened to them about three times so far. I expect I will feel the urge to listen to them all again at some point.

New Dawn is exactly what it says it is. A new start for the Survivors series and set some years after the last set of stories. More than that I won’t say, as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you if you do plan to listen to it.

Without giving anything away, what I can say is that the production values on this set of stories are just as good as all the previous ones, and the same with the performances. I am looking forward to hearing New Dawn 2 in a couple of months.

Here’s to more Survivors.

Survivors: Ghosts and Demons

I bought this audiobook last year as I am a big fan of the ‘Survivors’ stories. But you probably know that already. This story was narrated rather than being a full cast story, full cast being my preferred format. Having said that it is a good story. It fits neatly into the existing timeline and uses the existing characters.

Overall I am just so glad that Big Finish are still making these stories.

Given that the world is still in the midst of a pandemic it might seem odd to be listening to an audiobook about a deadly pandemic. You might even think it was a bit morbid. But I really like these stories. Not that I am saying that they are some way of dealing with what is happening in the real world. Not at all. It’s really just a good story and a good reminder of what happens when our rules and systems break down.

Not for everyone I know. But I would recommend this.

RIP Ian Rawes

I am very sad to say that my friend, Ian Rawes passed away in October. You might know of Ian from his amazing work at the London Sound Survey which he ran as an incredible archive of sounds from around the city.

Ian was a lovely man. He was knowledgeable and passionate about sound and field recording and I came away from talking to him always feeling as though I had learnt something new.

I first heard about Ian in a book called ‘In the field’, which I can thoroughly recommend to anyone who has even a passing interest in field recording. In it there is an interview with Ian which fascinated me and I decided that I had to contact him. That was back in 2016. We met for a drink and I found myself talking to a like minded soul who was generous with his time and knowledge. More than that he was a gentle man, and I miss him.

Ian also wrote, or perhaps more accurately, compiled a book about sound words. ‘Honk, Conk and Squacket’ is a great book to dip into every now and then to locate a word that you’ve probably never heard of before. Again, I can thoroughly recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in the history of sounds and how we have described them.

I’m glad to say that the last time I saw Ian, back in 2019, I asked him to sign my copy, which I will now always treasure.

You can hear a lot of Ian’s recording at the London Sound Survey, but also his recordings have been released by Persistence of Sound.

You can also find their music on bandcamp. I can thoroughly recommend this record. The recordings are superb and listening to them again recently gave me a great sense of peace about Ian.

I will miss him a great deal, but for me, he lives on in these excellent recordings. His work is his legacy, and those who knew him, those who’s lives he touched, will remember him for many years to come.

More Survivors

I posted a while ago that Big Finish were planning to bring out some more Survivors stories. Well they have, in fact, two have come out this week.

The first is ‘Ghosts and Demons’, which is a narrated story. Not that I particularly dislike a narrated story, at times they can be very good actually. This one is narrated by Carolyn Seymour, who is of course one of the main actors in the Survivors series anyway. I have listened to her narration before, and it is always great.

The second audiobook is a full cast drama with three individual stories.

I don’t know why I am such a big fan of the Survivors stories. I think it has something to do with the world being reset. Not always in a good way of course. Not always with positive outcomes. I find that I am drawn to these kinds of apocalyptic stories more and more. I don’t think that has anything to do with the pandemic in particular, although it does bring it home somewhat. But I always have enjoyed these kinds of stories.

I hope that Big Finish manage to keep Survivors going for some time to come. I had thought that it was done after season 9, but I’m always up for more, and I’m looking forward to hearing these.

More Space 1999 is coming

Which is great news indeed. I had been wondering if Big Finish were going to produce any more in this series, and they are. It comes out in February next year.

The previous episodes in the Big Finish remake have been good. Not astonishing, but good. Which is enough for me. Especially as the graphic novels appear to have vanished for now.

Survivors is coming back

Big Finished announced this today. There are more Survivors stories coming!

After the ninth season of Survivors Big Finish said that there would be no more of the current iteration of Survivors but mentioned that there might be a spin off. Now it is real. Two new box sets coming in November this year and February next year. With Abby and Lucy. This is excellent news. At least it is for me anyway.

The Galaxy and the Ground Within

I recently finished reading this, the fourth book in the ‘Wayfarers’ collection of stories by Becky Chambers. I think that it is probably the one that I have enjoyed the most, and, in case you are actually reading this, I am not going to spoil anything for you should you choose to read it for yourself, at least, that is my intention.

The first in the series was bought for me as a gift. It was a very good gift. I can safely say that I have enjoyed all of these books in different ways. However, I think I have enjoyed this last book in the series the most of all.

I will avoid telling you about anything that actually happens in the story. If you’re interested, you should read it. I can thoroughly recommend it. What I will tell you about this book is that I found it thoroughly moving, touching and wonderful. It is full of hope and tenderness and kindness. It made me smile, it brought me to tears and after reading it I now want to read the three previous books again.

After Rain by Charlotte Ansell

I have been meaning to buy this book since last year and I finally got around to it. I loved her book ‘Deluge‘, which I have read twice now.

After Rain is a slimmer volume, but no less beautiful for that. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every poem in this collection and I am sure that it is a book that I will return to many times.