Ok, so a few reviews that I've been meaning to get round to...
So this album has hit 4x platinum but I'm not quite sure why. I like it - quite a lot actually - but I'm still a little confused where this hidden hunger for `country' music has come from in the general population. Of course, it's not called country music because that doesn't sell but it sounds like country/folk music. It's certainly not jazz.
But for those who thought that Norah Jones was a one off, the copycats are proving them wrong. At the top of the charts at the moment is the second Norah Jones, this album and "20 Something".
Now, I think that Mrs Melua has a better voice than Mrs Jones. I know that's a pretty flammable statement in some places but I think that the recording on this album is just better than Come Away With Me. A bit like Road to Perdition - a very beautiful work and a welcome break between more exciting stuff. But no substitute.
It's fairly common knowledge to readers of IV that I'm quite a big fan of Greg Egan. In fact, a browse of his website shows that I've almost read every book he has in print.
Luminous is a collection of short stories and this actually means that you get a higher "cool idea" frequency than in some of his novels. One of the stories is pretty forgettable, but all the rest are classic Egan. A number of the stories hammer home the conclusions of a Strong AI belief - something that the world is going to have to come to grips with at some point (I believe so, as a Strong AIist, of course. Others don't). The title story is very Godel, Escher Bach dealing, as it does, with axiomatic systems.
I'm not going to write a list of the others here. Borrow the book off me if you want to find out. Highly recommended.
This is the first Iain M. Banks book that I've read. People have been mentioning him to me for ages and I finally read one on the train to (and from) Cardiff.
Now, this a political novel - not science fiction. It may be set in space with spaceships and the like - but that doesn't make it science fiction. Greg Egan is sci fi - this is space opera.
But as far as political novels go, it's very good. Almost excellent in fact. But I don't feel that I would have missed anything by not reading it (except for the best ship names in a book, ever). Something to read as the miles go by.