Good morning, bookies! Stand by for news.
*** British SFF writer Barrington J. Bayley died Tuesday, October 14, from complications associated with colon cancer. Bayley was first published in 1954 and was known for hard-edged SF that rarely had a happy ending, and for a style that took some getting used to, being labored, if not stilted. Your friendly neighborhood BBG remembers vaguely reading The Star Virus many moons ago, although little remains of what the book was about. (This was long before the days of keeping a book journal) I also have some notion that I read The Fall of Chronopolis. Both seem possible, for those were the halcyon days of college when I often read more than a book a day.
*** Even in Frankfurt, during what is arguably the world’s most important book event, politics rears its ugly head. Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature, speaking before a packed house during the Fair’s opening ceremonies, ripped his native Turkey for its long-term persecution of writers with whom it disagrees. Turkey is the honored country this year and the Turkish president was in the audience. Mr. Pamuk also blasted his country’s refusal to address the massacre of the Armenians during WW1 and the Kurds during the 1980’s.
I do find the timing of this interesting. Turkey is a secular Muslim dominated country, and for a long time has proudly boasted of its separation of church and state. In recent years, however, the political parties dominated by those wanting a Muslim state have grown quite powerful, putting great pressure on Turkey to remain secular.
*** And from the ‘If you loved The Godfather, move to Naples’ Department comes the story of Roberto Saviano, who wrote the mega-best-seller Gomorra in 2006 and has been in hiding ever since it was published. Gomorra is the story of how Naples, Italy, is dominated by the mafia, told by a man who saw his first murder at age 13 and told the world everything he knew. This does not make him terribly popular in certain circles in his native city and so he has decided to leave Italy, hopefully soon, since the mob apparently wants him dead by Christmas. In 2005 your intrepid correspondent was in Naples and I saw no evidence of mafia influence, unless they are to blame for the awful traffic, but admittedly Saviano probably knows more about the city than I do.
*** Gore Vidal fell recently and fractured his spine. At 83, he is currently working on a novel about the Mexican War of 1846-1849. I find this particularly interesting, as some great but overlooked works have been produced about what was, in fact, a fairly major war, with enormous influences upon history. Those who love southwestern or Texas history, and can’t wait for Vidal to recover and write his book, should try Jeff Shaara’s terrificly entertaining Gone For Soldiers, a novel of the Mexican War starring such luminaries as Robert E. Lee.