Simon’s Backup Weblog


A Sunday Brunch Review: A Gentleman’s Game

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 31, 2004

Greg Rucka‘s Queen and Country is a fine piece of graphic storytelling – a modern day espionage thriller that mixes departmental politics with realpolitik. Now Queen and Country has made the jump from monthly graphic serial to the novel in A Gentleman’s Game. It’s a brave move, as the dynamics of story telling change with the medium. However Rucka has a reputation as a thriller writer as well as a comic scripter, so he stands a a better chance of making it a successful move than most.

Tara Chase is Minder One, the head of the special operations section of SIS. In the Pit, a room in the basement of Vauxhall Cross, she and her two colleagues wait on the call of their nation. London’s nightmare, a terror attack on the Tube, is the signal for action. A hasty response is planned, with Tara sent to Yemen to kill the spiritual leader of the group that planned the attack. The operation is a success – with one qualification, the death of the source of the group’s funds: a Saudi prince. With international politics driving the agenda, Tara is going to be fed to the wolves. It’s time for her to find what allies she can, and to see if she can save her life and her career. It’s a road that will leave her battered and torn, and sacrificing more than she ever expected…

As well as Chase we see the world through the eyes of her direct superior Paul Crocker, a man who has to balance the needs of his country with the needs of his agents, and one of the terrorists Chase is tracking. It’s these viewpoints that take what could have been a straight action thriller and turn it into something more.

Rucka gives us a rounded heroine, and a compelling story. It’s a thriller that takes the classic British spy thriller of the 60s and 70s and updates it – showing us a complicated world where clean, clear decisions are impossible, and it’s a matter of the least worst outcome, rather than the best. Rucka has taken all the elements that make Queen and Country a successful graphic novel, and given us a story that’s accessible to anyone who hasn’t read the comic, and that gives those of us who have another view of his characters.

Well worth reading.

In the <a href=”http://www.private-eye.co.uk/”>Private Eye</a> classifieds…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 30, 2004

“Student requires part time job to help pay for classified advert”.

Ooooh. The recursion.

National Geographic gets it so right…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 29, 2004

I’ve kept my National Geographic subscription for years, and it’s probably why I am the person I am today, after I spent a childhood buried in my family collection that went back to the 1950s (the 1957 IGY issues are why I came to love the music of Donald Fagen).

But the November 2004 cover article just takes my breath away. It’s a wonderful condemnation of the creation “science” meme...

As Ben Hammersely says: “You get the feeling someone just lost it one day in the editorial meeting. Frankly, I’m going to have this one framed. Worship the Yellow, my young friends.

And in other news the Chicago Tribune nearly got it right with this feature, but pulled it at the last minute – literally

My dishwasher can see dead people…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 29, 2004

…heard today, one of the most ridiculous radio adverts ever for a kitchen appliance with a “sixth sense”.

Thank goodness we have sensible efficient German white goods.

Though they are “fuzzy logic”enabled…

This is rather wonderful…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 28, 2004

… if somewhat bizarre: another of those Flash puzzle games.

Get paid to watch the adverts…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 28, 2004

…as Sky has obviously seen the effects of the Sky+ PVR on its demographics and revenue stream, as it wants to activate the second slot on all Sky boxes in order to implement a “loyalty card” scheme

There’s a company, miCard.tv, which is working on developing these cards, and the software to go with it. You’ll “earn” points for watching channels – or for not fast forwarding through the ad breaks.

Me, I’ll stick with my new viewing habits, thanks. What I want, when I want it, and without those tedious mind-numbing commercials.

However it does imply an API which can be used to get additional information out of a TV programmes interactive channels. I wonder if there’s something in that which could be used to develop a new generation of interactive TV applications that link digital satellite to media PCs…

Album title of the day…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 28, 2004

…has to be Otto Von Schirach’s “Global Speaker Fisting“.

Global Speaker Fisting is from the underground’s underground: it’s the twenty-eyed electrified monstrosity living in the darkest, deepest sewers of the hardcore avant-garde. Moving from death metal send-ups to plagues and biotech disasters, Von Schirach’s fourth album is easily his finest and most accomplished record to date.

Ouch. Must be a new definition of finest…

25% of the Wright Brothers’ legacy

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 27, 2004

Microsoft Flight Simulator is now 25 years old.

That’s a quarter of the time we’ve had powered flight…

In those 25 years we’ve gone from a vague semblance of reality in lines and dots…

to near-photorealistic images that mean that Flight Simulator is now a common primary trainer…

Check out this poster of all the box covers over the years, along with a Channel 9 video from the development team, who seem to have a thing about DC-3s….

The Big Trip

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 27, 2004

After Honeymoon Express, we go for Honeymoon Pro* on November the 8th, arriving in New Zealand on the 13th and staying there until the 14th of December…

So, as noted in her LJ a couple of days ago, we’ll be having a post-wedding open house on Sunday the 31st October, when we will have been living in the East Putney Museum Of Science Fiction, Fantasy And Comic Art (and Lending Library) for 7 years…

*I think I have reviewed too many Microsoft server and developer products…

Domain aliasing

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on October 26, 2004

You should now find that www.simonbisson.co.uk points here too…

Rar!

Next Page »