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The LOOP Print Emailer – I’ve Been Reading

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The LOOP Print Emailer

Friday 17 March 2000

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I'VE BEEN READING

by Mark Cubey

While stone subbing the last issue of LOOP (okay, there was no stone, it wasn't even film; we were doing page corrections off digital prints before the lithography - to me it's stone subbing; whatever...), I got talking to Rohdar at the litho company we use, Graphic Images, about epic fantasy SF saga stuff.

The interest for me in this genre is that not only is it hell lucrative, but if it works properly, you get gripping stuff sees readers committing to a vision for up to 100,000 pages of close-leaded 9pt type. That's commitment.

Top of the pack recently for me was The Dark Tower - the mammoth fantasy epic from BIGGEST AUTHOR EVER Stephen King. It starts small, in a slim volume, The Gunslinger, which stalks the past-meets-future-meets-split world apocalypse wilderness that made King's fantasy classic The Talisman perhaps his standout achievement (written with Peter Straub, up there with the Narnia chronicles, Alan Garner's Elidor, etc - read it now). At four parts and counting, The Dark Tower is also seriously recommended.

Anyway, Rohdar recommended that I check out The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan. He did warn me it was a nine-part epic, but I bit anyway, and checked out part one, Eye of the World - an immaculately rendered fantasy epic of Good vs Evil featuring flawed heroes, duplicitous clans and factions, sweeping scenarios, and more than a few nods to Tolkein and literary in-jokes.

It was so much GIVE ME MORE that when I found it was not only ON LOAN but also RESERVED at the library, that I went to The Bookmark in lower Cuba Street to actually hand over real money ($9) for part 2. I did the same with the latest installment; I'm now up to part five and the labyrinthine plotting and cleverly developing gallery of characters mean that the pace and interest never flag.

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Elsewhere in the stack of library books

The Silent by Jack Dann - evocatively gruesome American Civil War novel as recounted by a12-year-old mute witness to the horror. There's a lot of great Gothic lodged on those 19th century Americana trails and this is prime satisfaction.

The Ultimate Rush by Joe Quirk - San Fran cyberpunk novel with a real plot and linguistic smarts as well as the standard disaffected hero - who is a rollerblading madman, self-deprecating and -almost - believable as well as the obligatory tough babe (who I fantasised as one of the Runga sisters with blue hair).

The Green Mile by Stephen King - Big Steve in serial fiction mode (six chaplets). Read as research, but packed with page-turning skill. The soon-come film with Tom Hanks as the nice prison guard with the urinary problem apparently adheres closely to the novel: can't wait for the little buzzy flies.

Please Kill Me: the uncensored oral history of punk rock in America by Legs McNeil - extraordinary and revelatory tales of crazy times in the 70s in east coast USA. Dee Dee Ramone!! Richard Hell!! Arthur Kane!! Sable Starr!! Brillllllliant!

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton - Party people riding grooves through radio and clubs, playing rock'n'roll, disco, hip hop, reggae, dub, house, techno and jungle - disc jockeys changed the face of music and this impassioned and definitive history covers all bases (particularly eye-opening and leg shaking on the US disco/house evolution).

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