… I said, as I’ve been failing to note down the books I have been reading.
First The Steel Bonnets, a cheerfully-written if appalling chronicle of violence, double-crossing, theft and impudence which is the history of the Scotland/England border from the middle ages to the 17th century. I guess that Susan Price’s Sterkarm Handshake drew heavily on this material, and dimly remember seeing some of the television series The Borderers, but no fiction could live up to the history contained in these records.
Then there’s Doctoring the Mind, Richard Bentall’s sequel to Madness Explained. In this volume he explores the drawbacks and uses of psychiatric drugs, alternative forms of treatment, and relates some shocking events in psychiatry, both past and present.
Running the Roman Home: an enjoyable foray through some of the more recognisable Roman daily activities, occasionally varied with small surprises: apparently buckets and jugs were part of a property and could not be removed when the house/apartment was sold, any more than taps and water pipes should be taken away by departing home owners today (though there are some who would…)
Tales of Pirx the Pilot is a completely different kettle of fish, a series of linked though independent stories which achieve the usual quirks, turns and creepiness of good SF short stories, plus a more unusual quality – a genuine and slightly unsettling development of a single character through time. I wish I had been given this one earlier (or found it for myself) and will definitely be returning.
It’s no good: I have to post them.
The sea was a like a liquefied semi-precious stone, inlaid into the bay. In many visits I don’t think I’ve ever seen it like this before. Just looking at the colour cleaned out the dusty corners of the mind.