Shall we take the laptop? Yes, no, maybe for a couple of hours before wife, who would have used it to craft more of her non-fiction Masters work on Education while I would have snatched in between to write up book reviews, more of ARIA book three, and complaints letters. Why on the sunny side of Earth should I want to write a moaning missive? Lanzarote is a fascinating lump of mostly cooled lava in the Canary Islands, but the resort we’d swapped our 5-star Villacana, Spanish timeshare for, with Lanz and Club in its name shouldn’t rate a star, or a moon. Yes, under new ownership and so refurbishments are in hand, and all we need to do is wait for the next meteor. In spite of the shabby furnishings, and corny entertainment, it was clean, the maid smiled and the weather was sufficiently cloudy to stop us getting sunburnt.
My Mold barber told me to hire a bike in Costa Teguise and ‘do’ the coastal bike route. I was tempted but there were too many kids, dogs, people and the occasional lizard to be a whizzing carefree ride. We walked our sandals to the bone instead. And when our feet complained we read books. One of my book group novels is Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. ‘Author’s preferred text’ ie not the one hacked around by the BBC for the TV version in the 1990s. I’ve met Neil at a convention. He’s tall with dark curly hair and no, he won’t remember me. Neverwhere is a beautiful novel set in the underground tubes, cellars, basements, sewers and sometimes roofs of London. I keep thinking it should be called Underwhere. Beyond the prologue, the story starts with a young female, Doors, who has a marvellous ability to think open doors, catches, locks and hearts. She is being chased by two gruesome killers… but I’m not reviewing it now. China Mieville’s Kraken is also set in London – both terrific writers, Kraken more for adults, I’d say. I also read M. John Harrison’s The Centauri Device, because I am an admirer of his literary style and mistakenly assumed the book was about a marvellous technology – the next topic for the Chester Library SFF group. I quite enjoyed the story, based on a sentient bomb that can only be triggered by someone with Centauri genes. The lone man with such, John Truck, leads a fraught existence chasing his dreams in a kind of shoot ‘em up Star Wars feel story (but without aliens, unless that’s Truck). I liken it to those other SF stories where a lone captain struggles to survive against all odds: Pirx the Pilot by Stanislaw Lem, Horza in Ian M Banks’ Consider Phlebus.
I read with LOL moments, Mark Jackman’s Acracknophobia, third and last (apparently by popular request) in the series on Sid Tillsley, vampire slayer with a mighty fist. Full review in a later blog. Also Peg Herring’s Dead for the Money – the second in the Dead Detective Agency series – a clever premise of a demised detective going from limbo back to the living to solve a murder. My wife, who doesn’t enjoy fantasies, but does like mysteries, liked this novel a lot.
I also started, cos I found it by lucky chance in the resort library, Ian M Bank’s Surface Detail (2010) in the Culture Series. Hang on, it starts with a girl being chased by two killers…
There’s more to Lanzarote than me reading books for review. I’ve been three times and cannot stop admiring how early settlers, drifting, possibly expecting lack of survival, found water and made it work. The Canaries exist because of the tectonic plates pushing up in mid-Atlantic. 300 former volcanoes make up the island of Lanzarote (one is still mildly active) and the broken up lava fields look moonlike. (depending on which moon!) Weathered ash and lava are nutritious for crops such as vines, tomatoes, potatoes and many others if you can water them. Wells found water in the past but now it is by desalination plants. I made my own volcano in the kitchen. I was frying up (in healthy olive oil) local potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers and a soy-based protein. It smelled absolutely gorgeous. Then I dropped a glass breakfast bowl. It looked like a crater before it hit the floor – then exploded. I thought the food cooking on the hob would be safe but we found glass ejecta ‘bomb’s – aarrggh. Into the bin. We abandoned self-catering for that night and sampled local cuisine of a pasta variety. Tasty.
In other news I learnt that ARIA: Left Luggage will be released on August 1st. Yeay. The publishers, LL-Publications have a list of reviewers now but if you are a reviewer and want one please look them up and ask at http://www.ll-publications.com
Image of Lanzarote courtesy of http://www.spanish-living.com/