Category Archives: Carol Goodwin

Event Horizon: October 2015

by Carol Goodwin
Prognostications and predictions of West Midlands genre literary events coming up this month.
I think there is sometimes a perception that there is no literary activity outside of London.  Well if you live in the Midlands and are interested in SF/Fantasy writing and books then the following is a list of some of the interesting events that are I know are happening in the area this October.  Most of them are inexpensive or even free and a great chance to meet and talk to authors, editors and fans of the SF/F/ Horror genre.  So what are you waiting for?

Carol Goodwin

INTO THE NARROWS, 17th October, Birmingham

Local fantasy author James Brogden talks about how the Midlands inspires his urban fantasy. 2 – 3pm at Birmingham University. Free entry but booking required. More details at http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/university/colleges/artslaw/events/bttf/2015/james­brogden.aspx

THINGS THAT DON’T SELL BOOKS, 17th October, Birmingham

Local fantasy authors, Iain Grant and Heide Goody discuss how to boost online sales. 3 – 4pm at Birmingham University. Free entry but booking required. More details at http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/university/colleges/artslaw/events/bttf/2015/heide­goody­iain-
grant.aspx

SHOUT THE CALL, 17th October, Walsall

Double book launch by local authors, Lucy Onions (SHOUT THE CALL) and James Josiah (C90) with additional readings by other authors, live music, free food and drink. Southcart Books, 20 Lower Hall Lane, Walsall. WS1 1RL. Check the Facebook event page for more details.

NOTTINGHAM WRITERS’ CLUB SPECIAL SCI­FI NIGHT, 21st October, Nottingham

Featuring local authors Gav Thorpe, Stephen Palmer and Alex Davis discussing writing and publishing. 6 – 9:30pm at The Nottingham Mechanics, NG1 4EZ. Tickets £5.  Details at http://www.nottinghamwritersclub.org.uk/speakers.shtml#oct

AN EVENING WITH JOE HILL, 22nd October, Birmingham

Horror writer Joe Hill will be answering questions and signing books. Waterstones New Street from 7pm. Tickets £3 Tel: 0121 631 4333.

BRANDON SANDERSON IN CONVERSATION WITH BRADLEY BEAULIEU & LEIGH BARDUGO, 22nd October, Nottingham

Three leading fantasy authors talk about their new books. Waterstones, Nottingham (1/5 Bridlesmith Gate, NG1 2GR) from 7 pm.  Tickets £3 Tel: 0115 947 0069.

MAGIC AND MAYHEM WITH LEIGH BARDUGO, 25th October, Birmingham

Fantasy author Leigh Bardugo will be talking about her new book SIX OF CROWS at Waterstones New Street from 3pm. Tickets £3 Tel: 0121 631 4333.

SOUTHCART SCAREFEST, 31st October, Walsall

A day of Horror-­themed author readings and fun, free food and drink. Southcart Books, 20 Lower Hall Lane, Walsall. WS1 1RL. Check the Facebook event page for more details.

AN EVENING WITH DAVID MOODY AND WAYNE SIMMONS, 30th October, Birmingham

Horror authors David Moody and Wayne Simmons will be answering questions and signing books including Wayne Simmons’ new book VOODOO CHILD at Waterstones New Street from 7pm. Tel: 0121 631 4333.

BOOK REVIEW: The Martian by Andy Weir

Review by Carol Goodwin
The Martian by Andy Weir (Del Rey)
The Martian by Andy Weir (Del Rey)
Our newest correspondent Carol Goodwin sends in the first of hopefully many contributions to House On The Borderland, a very topical and timely review of the book which inspired the film currently filling cinemas world-wide, starring Matt Damon as the book’s protagonist, Mark Watney.

 

  • THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • Size: 384 page paperback
  • RRP: £7.99
  • ISBN 978-0091956141

This science fiction book has been hugely popular both inside and outside the SF field.

It has already been a Sunday Times bestseller, made the Richard and Judy list and is readily available on supermarket shelves, not the norm for most straight SF books.

With all this attention, I was somewhat worried whether the book could live up to all the hype. Well, I need not have worried – this is a good old-fashioned SF book which is full of adventure, meticulous science research and a gripping page-turner. The film version is now showing in cinemas and I am looking forward to comparing them.

Story

The story is set in the near future. Shortly after landing on Mars, the six-person crew of the third manned mission to Mars (Ares 3) are forced to abort the mission and evacuate due to a massive storm threatening the living base. In the confusion, astronaut Mark Watney is injured, separated and left for dead when his monitors show no life signs. He awakens to find himself marooned on Mars with no way to communicate and the next mission isn’t due for four years. Trapped on a planet where any mistake could kill him, this is a riveting story of his ingenious efforts to survive.

The story alternates between his “first person” log entries and the “third person” viewpoint of the Earth-based scientists and the homebound Ares 3 crew. Mark Watney as a character is well-drawn and immensely likeable. His log entries feel like a real person’s voice and his use of humour to keep himself going works very well. Importantly, he is not perfect and he does make mistakes but his determination and perseverance get you involved and willing him to survive.

Rocket science

While the technical detail might put some people off, it does not feel heavy handed. In fact this is one of the major joys of this book to me. I love the puzzle of “How is he going to get out of this?” and the logical, real solutions he finds. I am not a physics/engineering expert by any stretch of the imagination but the technical accuracy seems right to me. The problems and solutions used feel incredibly well-researched and detailed and the author has clearly spent a lot of time trying to get things correct.

Hard SF adventure

The novel has been described as “Robinson Crusoe in Space” and this is a very good description. It reminds me of some of the early hard SF I read and loved and which first got me into the field, particularly Arthur C Clarke’s A FALL OF MOONDUST or astronomer/writer Hugh Walters’ children’s Chris Godfrey series.

Extract

To get a further flavour of The Martian, you can read an extract from the book in pdf format here.

Conclusion

If you like your SF with a good mixture of accurate science and adventure then this book is highly recommended.

Carol Goodwin

(Review copy kindly donated by Del Rey)

About the reviewer

Carol Goodwin is Newsletter Editor for the Birmingham Science Fiction Group and can be found on Twitter as @JupitersGhost

Further information

More info about the book, which is available through bookstores and online, may be found on the Del Rey website.

For more on the author, Andy Weir, check out his website, Facebook page and Twitter.