August 2018
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Books Update

I’m cracking on with the input on my book collection into the program Book Collector 8 Pro. At the moment it’s sitting at 400 books exactly, and 258 authors (although the program makes a separate entry for each author, even if they are only contributors to a collection). 

Robert Howard (50) is creeping up on Bob Shaw (52) and Philip Jose Farmer (13) is creeping up on Neal Asher (14). I’m also building up quite a pile of books that aren’t in the online database, mostly older books with SBN numbers instead of ISBN numbers or no numbers at all.

As I have the Pro version I can change Field Names and have changed a couple so that I now have ‘limited edition number’ and ‘signed’ on the main page. There are still a lot of wrong covers getting downloaded but the main idea is to get all my books catalogued, and that is coming together via this program very quickly.


I haven’t been blogging much lately due to family circumstances.

I haven’t been reading too much either but have in fact have bought quite a few books. There was a special offer from PS Publishing where I got 8 hardbacks for £35 plus postage. A fine selection of books arrived, all but one signed and from limited editions and none of them massive door stops, so they should be quick easy reads from new (to me) authors.

I’ve also bought a fair few Robert E Howard books; mainly to read Howard as he intended his stories to be read. I first read him years ago in the Sphere paperbacks but these were (apparently) highly edited – or hacked and slashed. Late last year I bought a copy of ‘Red Nails’ edited by Karl Edward Wagner which presented Howard’s Conan in the original and I enjoyed reintroducing myself to Howard’s Conan quite a bit. This burst of buying was in part brought on by reading the updated version of Blood and Thunder by Mark Finn, which was a highly readable journey into Howard’s life. Reading that made me want to start reading more Howard again. I’ve also just bought the newly announced book by The Robert E Howard Press. Four books from them so far – including Mark Finn’s – and every one a beautifully produced edition with great contents.

I also invested in Book Collector 8.0 Pro from I’ve been toying with cataloguing my book collection for a while and have been making spreadsheets and databases but this program was a godsend. Just type in the ISBN number and the program gets all the details from the internet and the book is catalogued. The program does lack in certain areas: I can’t put in details about limited editions, number X out of 100 and so on, and some of the information that can be put in seems pointless to me, but the speed at which the books can be recorded makes the program worth the money. It doesn’t always get the details right – such as the correct cover – but I managed to catalogue over two hundred books in a couple of hours. Typing in all that information would have taken ages; even if it was basic information such as title, author, publisher, year published and format.

It’ll also be nice to find out how many books I actually have as they are scattered around the house in various rooms and cupboards. The program has some other features which are interesting. There are some charts and statistics. With a few over 200 books entered it tells me I have 52 Bob Shaw books, 49 Robert E Howard books, 24 Kenneth Robeson (Doc Savage) books, 22 Theodore Sturgeon books, 14 Neal Asher books; the rest are single figures. But I’m guessing that’s only about a quarter of the books I have and there are a ton of P K Dick books to be entered, quite a lot of Robert Silverberg, Philip Jose Farmer and others.

Getting Grumpy?

Been a bit lax in posts lately, partly because I had little to write about but mainly because I’ve been a bit lazy blog wise, deferring and deferring doing some posts.

I’ve also been wondering if I’m turning into a grumpy old man. I’ve bought a lot of books lately and have been disappointed and pissed off with most of them.

I’ve bought a fair amount of nonfiction recently, which is quite rare as I generally think twice and then think for a third time before buying nonfiction books, in the main because they are more expensive than fiction, and I feel have a reduced re read factor (fiction authors must be bitches; having a higher cover price the nonfiction crew would be getting higher royalties). And I’ve found Penguin books in particular to be horrendously expensive. Doubly so in that they also produce a lot of public domain material where no royalties are paid and yet those books are still expensive.

I picked up How To Destroy The Universe and dipped in and out of it and it is pure mince. For a start the author (Paul Parsons) accepts Man Made Global Warming – particularly ironic as another chapter is How To Predict the Weather where he concludes we can’t because the system is so complex; but one tiny trace gas from us can overrule this complex system and cause global warming – the chapters bear little resemblance to the chapter headings and are short, both in length and content.

I was very intrigued by Empire State by Adam Christopher, and picked it up a few times in some shops before buying it from WH Smith. Unfortunately I couldn’t get past Chapter Two as in the first chapter the point of view kept appearing to flip back and forward between Rex and Jerome which made it feel confusing. Chapter Three also started on Rex and I’m thinking ‘where’s this Red Bradley that’s talked about on the blurb on the back?’ Does this author know nothing? Chapter three and the main character hasn’t been introduced yet? How did he get this published?

Year’s Best SF 16 was snaffled from Waterstone’s and I was looking forward to some good short stories. It was priced at £6.99 and was an American import. Unfortunately I was disappointed as it seems the art of short story writing has been lost. Meandering pish is the phrase that springs to mind most. Very few stories hooked me from the beginning, developed the story or idea and finished with a punch. David Langford’s story started off well and developed quite nicely but there was no payoff, and the ending was a bit of a let down (Sorry Dave). Terry Bisson’s story felt like it finished halfway through. Alastair Reynold’s story didn’t develop and I dropped it several pages in from boredom. There were a few I couldn’t get into right from the off. This is the best SF there is? The book is barely a year old and has a wide variety of authors, but as I said, the art of the short story seems to have been lost.

I also saw the remake of Conan The Barbarian (there are too many elements from the Arnie film for it not to be a remake) and was as disappointed as I thought I would be. Visually it was quite good, but as everyone says looks aren’t everything. The script was bad, the acting was bad and the fight scenes were too long. In the end it was the little things such as pronunciation that got to me. Hyrkania was repeatedly referred to as high re kania by the ‘pureblood.’ Archeron was pronounced asheron. I don’t know about anyone else but when I read Howard and that work came up it was pronounced in my head arkeron, as in arachnid. And I swear that after the slaves were freed the theme tune to the Old Grey Whistle Test was played. Conan was unrecognisable as a character from the Howard stories and the locations bore no resemblance to the world Howard created. Particularly irritating was the ‘I love you son’ bit from Hellboy and similar mushy stuff of the same ilk. Yeah, that’s how barbarians behave in the face of death, get all soppy.

There have been some good things. I bought City of Ruin by Mark Charan Newton and it was a joy to read. I don’t normally go in much for fantasy fiction or variants thereof (Bob Howard pretty much predates the genre and so doesn’t count) but the writing style and world building made it as enjoyable a read as I’ve had in a while. Plus I’ve got a couple of old Neal Asher books which have elbowed their way up my reading list, including Africa Zero, which a few weeks ago was impossible to find on the internet. A revised biography of R E Howard was ordered as soon as I knew it had been announced and with any luck will be with me by the end of the month.

Quick Update

No much going on recently, hence the lack of any posts. More keys are not working on my main laptop, which means it is getting unusable as the keys that have no gone are letters. I’m now uninstalling as much software from the computer as I can while I can. Loosing letters makes it far more difficult to use the computer. However, if I can use a USB mouse there’s no reason I can’t use a USB keyboard, and hence extend the life of the laptop. It’ something to look into.

I’ve bought a lot of books recently, including tomes from Rhys Hughes and Neal Asher(direct and signed by the author!) so I have a lot to read through. There have also been books bought in shops as I used up most of my points on my Waterstone’s card. Since they dropped the 3 for 2 it’s hardly worth browsing let alone buying. It’s a sad day when newsagents give better deals than dedicated bookshops.

Doing Nothing

Not had much worth blogging about lately. Everything has been calm and quiet.

I ordered The Worlds of Philip Jose Farmer Volume 2 Of Dust and Soul a while ago and it arrived a few weeks back. Not only that but I got a nice little bookmark thanking me for being one of the first one hundred to order the book. I’ve read through some of it and enjoyed what I’ve read so far but I’m saving the novella for later on. It’s a numbered limited edition and I got the same number as volume one.

pjfbkmark1  pjfbkmark2

Also a limited edition is Spicy Adventures by Robert E Howard, which arrived last week, and again I received the same number as previous books bought. The stories were published in the pulps and in a paperback in the 1980s. I have the 1980s paperback and it’s in quite good nick: apparently it’s a bit of a rare item. Again this is a well made book, solid and bright with clean bright white pages. Taken from the original manuscripts the stories are supposed to be substantially different from the previously published versions, and I’m looking forward to reading these and the extras included in the book. I might even dig out the old paperback and see what the differences were from the previously published versions to the original manuscripts.

I noticed that the Waterstone’s shop I frequent most has totally redesigned their layout. The Science Fiction section has been moved and revamped, beefed up a bit.

I’ve recently picked up a couple of Neal Asher novels. I got his newest hardback, The Departure, and in the main quite liked it. At present I’m reading Orbus, which I picked up at Waterstone’s in hardback for £5.99. It was in a section for reduced and remaindered books. Remaindered books used to be a few boxes on a table the back of the shop. I also got a collection of three stories by Elmore Leonard. I’ve read a couple and they’re quite good.

I visited Hanselled Books some months ago and decided to take a trip in again. I went a bit mad and got a fair few books, including quite a bit of non-fiction. I picked up books from a few new to me authors that piqued my interest and a couple from favourite authors. The non-fiction mainly centred on Scottish myths and tales and a couple of books about the Medieval period. The fiction was either SF or crime fiction.