Books, censorship, dawkins, evolution, materialism, scientism

Why all the fuss over Darwin?

If there is ONE thing that really hacks me off, it is lying. Plain and simple. Dishonesty to further one’s twisted agenda at the expense of others who are used as pawns without consideration. A malignant disease that spreads and corrupts, masquerading as truth.

Maybe because I am physically incapable of lying (being aspie and all) or because it is singularly and fundamentally WRONG, the red mist instantly descends whenever I see someone lying to another. And this is becoming a regular occurrence thanks to the internet, a place where lies are constantly used to deceive, manipulate, and program others; where a small group of ‘nutters’ can easily overwhelm all reason, and create false just-so stories that suck in all who are unprepared, like some Supermassive Black Hole.

So what has this to do with Darwin? How can there be any ‘fuss’ over him? If this is what you’re asking yourself, then watch my short presentation and then read on (to watch with audio commentary: youtu.be/dJwp9i9d1UE)

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Author, Books, Fiction, Sherlock Holmes

Book Review: The Somnambulist

Back in late 2006 I was asked by Gollancz if I would review a new novel they were going to publish. The idea was that my short text would be included on the cover or just inside so should be informative but with a restricted word count. In the end, they didn’t use my blurb, so it never saw the light of day. But lucky you… I’ve just found the original text and thought I’d re-present it here. Enjoy.

The Somnambulist,  by Jonathan Barnes, reads like a first novel… impressive, gripping, funny, and full of the author’s every creative idea and vocabulary. It’s not for the light-hearted. There are twists and turns, truth and lies, and that’s just between narrator and reader. Barnes has pulled together half-remembered images from the collective consciousness and crafted a tale more possibly aimed at playing with the reader’s mind than the characters within it. Confused? Wait till you read the book. You’ll either love it or hate it, I doubt there’ll be any middle ground.

I read this book of spies and magic, intrigue and action, perversion and murder in a single session. If I needed a break, the narrator sensed this and taunted me to read on. Just when I thought I knew where the plot was going, he admitted a lie and changed direction. As the villain of the piece tries to manipulate events in the narrative, so too the narrator manipulates the reader. A curious thing indeed. Made more so by his pre-empting any criticism of style and elegance in storytelling with apology or bravado. This is not a book you’ll forget in a long time.

But what of the characters? A bizarre freak show you feel you’ve met somewhere before. Barnes seems to have borrowed elements from all over the genre, incorporating them in post-Victorian London in a familiar yet disturbing way. Hints of Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein, shadows of the Rue Morgue, with a nod to She-Hulk. All these elements  flow (bizarrely) together, driven by a thesaurus-wielding sadist (with a curious sense of humour). His use of language is almost poetic and often leaves the reader feeling impotent, only to then spell out the mundane (hands up who knows what the London Monument is?)

Definitely an enGROSSing read.