Two Ia(i)ns

Matter by Iain M. BanksI’m not the first to observe that it’s been 5 years since Iain M. Banks published a ‘Culture’ novel, so his new book ‘Matter’ is much anticipated by fans like me who enjoy his Culture sci-fi books more than anything else he writes and better than any other sci-fi I read, and I read some of the best and most acclaimed authors currently producing stories.

This is one of those books I couldn’t wait for in paperback, so I took the plunge and bought the Hardback (after hunting for a few impatient weeks to secure a signed copy) and now I’m trying to not to read it in a rush of excitement.

So far so good, but I’ve just chewed up the 890 odd pages of Neal Stephenson’s ‘System of the World’, while keeping Matter on the nightstand, and rationing myself to no more than 20 or so pages a night.

Control a film by Anton CorbijnAs another alternative read I am tempted to start ‘Touching From a Distance’ by Deborah Curtis, widow of Ian, lyricist and lead singer of Joy Division, who sadly took his own life in May 1980 at the age of 23.

Having just seen the excellent movie ‘Control’, adapted by Anton Corbijn from Deborah’s book, I am reminded just how important Joy Division were to me in the evolution (and growth in sophistication) of my musical taste in the late 1970’s – I was really a couple of years too young to have been able to enjoy punk.

However important a stage punk can now be shown to have been in the evolution of British music, that amount of anarchy at the age of 11 or 12 is too scary to be inviting. Whereas the more restrained, angst-ridden, self-reflective, anti-establishment and politically aware sound of Joy Division’s post-punk indie rock was massively appealing to my 14 / 15 year old self.

Anyway, instead of starting Deborah’s book immediately, I have decided to make a little space between the film and the book, and try a lighter read for the train while pacing my way through Matter. More on that choice in next post…

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