Chopwell Wood, or Irony is in the Axe of the (be)Holder

A book that changed how I perceive forests. A couple of weeks ago I visited a nearby area of ancient woodland. Ancient woodland is a rare habitat in the UK, covering only about 2% of the land area (according to the Woodland Trust), so I considered myself lucky to have a decent-sized patch closeby. I … Continue reading Chopwell Wood, or Irony is in the Axe of the (be)Holder

The Corpse Roads of Cumbria by Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park

Located on the Scottish Border in northwestern England, Cumbria was (and still is) a sparsely populated county. One curious byproduct of Cumbria's low population density was that, through the middle ages, the tiny chapels in outlying thorpes and thwaites did not have license to bury the dead, so bodies had to be transported to larger … Continue reading The Corpse Roads of Cumbria by Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park

Distaff–A New Sci-fi Short Story Anthology

DISTAFF: NOUNA staff used in spinning.Of women and women’s work.An anthology of women’s stories woven through time and space.courtesy of the Distaff website Distaff is a new anthology of science-fiction short stories born out of discussions by several female authors on the forums of the SFFChronicles. Beyond it being sci-fi, there is no common theme … Continue reading Distaff–A New Sci-fi Short Story Anthology

“Proxima” by Stephen Baxter

Proxima is, ostensibly, about humanity's first attempts at colonizing a planet in a different solar system. I say "ostensibly" because, really, the story is also about tensions between the United Nations, which has control of Mercury and part of Mars, and China, which controls part of Mars and parts of the asteroid belt. Oh, it's … Continue reading “Proxima” by Stephen Baxter

“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Uprooted is a tale that, in many ways, is very familiar. Rooted (hee hee, I made a pun!) in Eastern European folk-lore, it has a fairy-tale quality that will feel almost natural to many readers. The story also deals with common themes: an apprentice chafing under a close-minded master, good country peasants ignored by decadent … Continue reading “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

A Grain of Wheat is set in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion, with the drama culminating just as Kenya gains independence from Britain in 1963. The story is centred around Mugo, a man consumed by secrets and who desires only to be left alone. Orbiting around Mugo is a cast of characters, each of … Continue reading A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy

A small tortoiseshell butterfly in my garden. And yes, I know it's not a moth. Let me start by saying what this book is not. It is not a polemic about the evils of megacorporations, capitalism and Big Oil. It is not a bludgeon loaded with mind-numbing and soul-deadening eco-facts, figures and data sets designed … Continue reading The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy