Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Graham Greene's last book: The Last Word

     Graham Greene. The Last Word and Other Stories (1990) In the title story, an old man with a fractured memory and a broken body lives alone in a one-room flat. We gather that some major social and political change has occurred. Eventually, the old man is summoned to see the General, whose predecessor brought about the revolution. The General is curious to see this relic from the bygone age, the last Pope. He offers the old man food and wine before killing him. The old man thanks him for sending him home, and accepts the wine. His last words as he drinks from it are Corpus domini nostri.... The General does not understand the words, but as he squeezes the trigger, there flashes through his mind the anxious thought that perhaps what the old man believed might be true.
     Typically Greene in its mix of thriller, politics, and religion. The other stories offer much the same mix, demonstrating that Green understood the psychology of power and politics as few other writers have done. Worth reading, if somewhat depressing in its unrelieved pessimism about the secularisation of modern life. Greene died about a year after publication. ** to ****

Monday, May 28, 2018

Vintage SF: Blood & Burning by Budrys

     Algis J. Budrys. Blood & Burning (1978) Budrys’s imagination is as off the wall as Philip K. Dick’s, and as dark, too. Three samples:  In Be Merry, the Klarri have crash-landed their lifeboats on Earth. Humans and Klarri mutually infect each other. One small enclave in New Jersey has found a grim method of healing themselves using Klarr blood.
     In All for Love, an impossibly huge spaceship has landed on Earth, apparently in distress. It casually destroys human civilisation, treating humans as pests. The hero manages to make his way to one of the support legs and damage it. The story focuses on the human cost of attempting an impossible task.
     In A Scraping of the Bones, extreme overcrowding leads to murder for extra space in the hive-like apartment blocks.
     Well imagined, well-written, with a tad too much of the formulaic to be a match for P. K. Dick, but still recommended, if you can find copy. ***

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Movies I've watched recently

Mrs Henderson Presents, Pygmalion (1983), Black Panther, Indian Horse. Check the page Movie Reviews I.