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A Mixture from my Holidays

Absolute Friends (by John Le Carre) was excellent. This was the first Le Carre novel that I'd read in a while, and I can see why certain establishment figures objected to it, claiming that it was a rant against the conflict in the Middle East. However, it is probably the closest that Le Carre has got to the style of his Cold War novels in a long while; like those books, it is a story of betrayals and relationships, a study of human frailty against a bigger backdrop. I think that it is worrying that the current geopolitical situation lends itself to one of the old masters of dark spy fiction returning to form!

I followed this with The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. This is an interesting book on how ideas become epidemic. It tries to identify the factors that will make something – an idea, a product – wildly popular. It's certainly worth a read, although not necessarily applicable in any easy way. It was an impulse buy at the airport on the way to France.

I followed this with a book which I have meant to read for a long time, but never got around to: Diaries - Alan Clark. This charts the former Tory minister's rise in the party. He always entertained me by his refusal to be politically correct. Well worth a read. I'll be looking up the rest at some point.

I then read a splash of Horror - Chaosium's Lovecraftian compilation The Antarkos Cycle which has lingered on my shelf for the last two years. I bought it shortly after I got 'Beyond the Mountains of Madness' (a huge and detailed RPG adventure for Call of Cthulhu) and it certainly gives a good feel for setting games in the southern-most continent. The last true Antarctic part of the book is the original novel that inspired 'The Thing'. The final two stories are of lost cyclopean cities elsewhere in the world.

Cobweb by Neal Stephenson was one I missed when it came out originally. Indeed, it didn't even appear as one for me to buy until I saw it at the airport. It claims to be a wicked satire on US politics and conspiracies around the time of the first Gulf War. It has conspiracies, murders and shenanigins galore. I'm not certain it is a satire... It is co-written with the same gent who wrote 'Interface' with Stephenson. Good fun!

The final book was Star Hunter / Voodoo Planet by Andre Norton. The book has two short stories set in the SF universe that is very reminiscent of the game, Traveller. The second story is a Solar Queen one (read the others on the Solar Queen to understand Traveller Merchants)! Excellent fun. The problem is that it gets me itching to play the Traveller RPG again!

(I originally posted this at the Tavern. )