Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Theakerly thoughts #4: TTA reviews, 2000AD, holidaymakers

Thought 1. My review of Alison Littlewood’s new book Path of Needles appears in the forthcoming Black Static #36, and my review of the star-studded audiobook World War Z: The Complete Edition will probably appear in Interzone #248, out at the same time. So look out for those! Thanks to book review editors Peter Tennant and Jim Steel for giving me the opportunity to strut my stuff on a respectable stage. Lifetime subscriptions to both magazines are now available, and very much recommended. How much I wish now that I’d taken out a lifetime sub to Interzone when I was a teenager!

Thought 2. Another magazine I wish I’d subscribed to sooner is 2000AD. Though I’ve read dozens of the collections and reprint magazines, and subscribed to the Judge Dredd Megazine (for about a year) and the 2000AD Xtreme Edition (until it was cancelled), I don’t think I’d ever read two issues of the original comic in a row. Somehow I missed out on it as a kid which is a shame because I would have loved it; I adored the work Pat Mills and John Wagner were doing in Doctor Who Weekly. The last one I remember buying must have been a decade or so ago, since it featured a Spice Girls in space strip! I wasn’t impressed enough to buy another issue. And while I loved the Xtreme Edition, I found the Megazine a bit of a drag, the strips too short, samey (just by virtue of being all Dredd-related), and slow to progress (because it was a monthly). (I do however treasure the pack of Dredd playing cards that was supplied set-by-set over four issues! I use it at work, for measuring/rewarding my progress through long proofreading jobs!) But when Clint came to an end last month I realised I was going to miss the experience of reading comics as serials, so I bought myself a year-long sub to 2000AD, and I am really enjoying it. It’s not just the content, though that has been interesting, varied and much more suited to grown-ups than I’d expected, but also the experience of having a brand-new comic delivered through the door every week, seeing the stories develop, waiting for cliffhangers to be resolved. Arriving on Saturday morning makes it a great reward for the week’s hard work. Super. If I have the money spare when the time comes around, I’ll definitely be renewing my sub.

Thought 3. It’s been a year now since I deleted my Facebook account. I do miss the gossip, squabbling and drama. Have I missed anything good?

Thought 4. Do holidaymakers really prefer print? This article on the Telegraph's website says they do. But hang on a minute, do you really think they do? Doesn’t that just seem bonkers? Between us, my family read somewhere between twenty and thirty books during a five-day holiday this year. We would have needed an extra suitcase to carry that lot!
    And if you read the Telegraph article, a couple of things become apparent. For one thing, it’s only in the headline and lede (which are not usually written by the journalist) that it’s claimed holidaymakers prefer printed books to e-readers.
    The claim in the article is actually that the “the feeling of holding and thumbing through a real book was the main reason that 71 per cent of travellers said they would pack one over a slimmer, electronic version”.
    The main reason they said “they would”, not that they actually did!
    Read on and you discover the source of this research: Heathrow Airport’s retail director!


  1. I took a couple of paperbacks with me to Venice last week.
    'The Historian,' by Elizabeth Kostva. It's quite a large book - but as I had a rucksack permanently attached to my right shoulder during the daylight hours: cameras, kid's stuff, bottles of water, hats, maps - it wasn't too much of a problem.
    I saw an even balance of e readers Vs books on the beach, and as this is my second read through of a second hand book, I wasn't too concerned with it becoming rather more than thumbed, sun tanned and wine stained. I might however have second thoughts about taking an e reader to the beach or poolside.
    Standard cameras however, seemed to be being replaced by tablets. All over Paris, visitors were holding up their tablets to take pics at the various tourist attractions. It did look a little strange in the Louvre, almost like a sea of football referees sending the Mona Lisa off with an oversized card.

  2. I love that image! Now that I do not understand. I still get extremely nervous taking my iPad out in public.

  3. As a regular listener to Radio 4's "More or Less" programme, I have learned that a great many statistics-based headlines in the Daily Telegraph are mangled beyond use.

    Having another vulnerable gadget to worry about is one the reasons I rarely use e-readers. And given that the Kindle Fire and others are really tablet computers, I think that it is likely to dilute the experience of reading, making it more like browsing. Distraction are only ever a moment away on these devices, which I think is why I can never seem to concentrate in a settled, contemplative way, on anything I am reading on a screen. The thing about a paper book is that sometimes you have to make a commitment to keep reading on even if it is hard going in places. Do tablets deter perseverance? I'm not sure. I do think that electronic devices are having an effect on how we pay attention to information. At least my old Sony reader couldn't do a great deal other than turn pages, even if the battery life was terrible.

    I think you'll probably disagree with all of this Stephen!

  4. No, I completely agree so far as tablets go, John! And you know what I'm like for distraction. Ranjna loves her Kindle Fire but only ever reads books on her normal Kindle. Tablets aren't much use on the beach because they're too hard to read in sunlight. They're brilliant for reading comics, though.

    I'm so bad at reading print books now. I'm really enjoying The Violent Century (a print ARC), but still find myself getting distracted by a crappy Star Trek novel just because it's on the Kindle.