At a cheap hotel in Mexico, defrocked priest Lawrence Shannon clashes with bawdy hotel owner Maxine Faulk, and meets a saintly seeming drifter and artist, Hannah Jelkes, travelling with her elderly grandfather. Fever, stormy weather and lust wrack this Southern Gothic play by Tennessee Williams.
In 2029 CE, the Earth is run by the Unity organisation after a devastating world war. Unity runs the planet, controlling humans from childhood education onwards, gaining authority by using a series of AI called Vulcan. But it faces rebellion from the Healer movement, led by the charismatic preacher Frank Fields.
Unity Director William Barris discovers that the Vulcan 3 computer has become sentient. It is considering drastic action to combat what it sees as a threat to itself. And that there is corruption in Unity, with his superior having secret meetings with Vulcan 2…
Continue reading “Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K Dick”
Mask of the Plague Doctor is an interactive fiction text adventure by Peter Parrish, released under Choice of Games on the 23rd of April. You play as a doctor sent into the quarantined town of Thornback Hollow. Working with an army surgeon and an idealistic new medic, you have to work to eradicate the plague while unrest and religious conflict erupt in the town. And you’re on a time limit – if you can’t cure the disease, Baron Morlond waits outside the walls to purge the contagion by the sword.
Sweet Bird of Youth is a 1959 play by Tennessee Williams. Most of the play takes place in the Royal Palms Hotel, an “old fashioned but still fashionable” hotel in St. Cloud, on the Gulf Coast.
Chance Wayne is first introduced wearing the classic Williams trope; white silk pyjamas. He starts the day with a cigarette and a ‘bromo’; an alka seltzer hangover remedy. The waiter has to mix it for him, due to his hands shaking, due to his alcohol consumption the night before.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was a 1968 novel by Philip K Dick. The novel’s protagonist is Rick Deckard, a man who hunts sentient androids for profit on a ruined, irradiated earth where the majority of the population have emigrated to Mars. Animals are mostly extinct, and extremely valuable; Rick can only afford an electric sheep, not the real thing. The book explores the nature of the soul, the value of animals, and what constitutes a human being.
An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a beautiful, hazy portrait of life in post war Japan. It explores generational tension, changing social mores, guilt and atonement. It is also another excellent example of the unreliable narrator, a trope of Ishiguro’s work.
Ragle Gumm is an ordinary man lives with his sister’s family in a sleepy suburban 1950s town. He makes a living by winning a newspaper contest over and over again. He dallies with his neighbour and plots where the Little Green Man will be Next, but starts to realise all is not well. This is how Time out of Joint, by Philip K Dick, begins.
Suddenly, Last Summer was a 1958 one act play written by Tennesse Williams. The wealthy poet Sebastian Venable has been killed, and the family are gathering to hear his cousin, Catharine Holly, describe his scandalous death. Sebastian’s mother doesn’t believe her niece and has had Catharine committed; an attending doctor, known for performing lobotomies, injects her with a truth serum to get to the bottom of things.
“Suddenly Last Summer” was, perhaps,the most poetic I’ve done. – Tennessee Williams, Interview with Studs Terkel.¹
I just finished reading A Pale View of Hills, by Kazuo Ishiguro. As usual with his work, the book has stayed with me for over a day now. Etsuko is a Japanese woman, living in rural England in the 1970s. Her younger daughter Niki visits, and their conversation triggers a series of dreams and memories. She recalls a strange friendship she had with another woman called Sachiko in post-war Japan. Based in the still rebuilding city of Nagasaki, sweltering and devastated by the atomic bomb.
There will be spoilers in this review.