Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Amidst the news that Pearl Jam’s new album Dark Matter seems to be tanking on the Billboard charts, I gave it another listen. Some of the up-tempo tracks don’t work for me or aren’t as good as earlier ones. That’s mainly React, Respond and Running, so no big deal. First track, Scared of Fear, is growing on me, and Upper Hand, the slow burning tune in the middle of the album, may well be my favourite now. Through it all there’s no doubt that Eddie is the star. All due respect to the other guys, but it’s his vocals that make that band. He’s why I listen.

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I had another look through Book Riot again and found a nice article called All The Punks! An Introduction by Grace Lapointe. It was an essay about and survey of some (not by any means all) of the scifi sub genres that use the punk suffix to describe them. More well-known genres like Cyberpunk and Steampunk were covered, but others were Clockpunk, Oceanpunk, Atompunk, Stonepunk, Silkpunk, Dieselpunk and something called Hopepunk. This last one, about more optimistic imaginings of the future, is very close to a punk subgenre I made up, which I call Freepunk. It’s fiction about a world where something like Universal Basic Income, or full-on Socialism, has been implemented. I know the James Corey Expanse books include something called ‘Basic’, but in those books it’s a side issue, and not seen as a positive development. Another I may have invented (not sure if it already exists) is Wellspunk. That includes the many sequel stories based on the fiction of H.G. Wells, especially The Time Machine and War of the Worlds. There are so many it’s a sub-genre of its own by now. I like how the s makes it spunk rather than just punk. The most comprehensive list I’ve seen about the whole punk phenomenon would have to be the Timeline of _Punk fiction subgenres – Sheet1 spreadsheet by Matthew Murray from the Bookclub For Masochists podcast (a great Reader’s Advisory resource). It’s crazy huge, and so detailed, with everything from Rocketpunk to Fashionpunk, and dates and references galore, a real contribution to the field. Check it out.

My favourite of these sub-genres is Steampunk. When I first heard of it I knew I’d read some books that were in that genre before it was given the name back in 1987. One was A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah by Harry Harrison, from 1976, a fabulous Boy’s Own account of the titular tunnel project. Michael Moorcock’s Oswald Bastible stories were also early prototypes. I’ve since read many more, especially in short story compilations. Some have included examples of authentic Victoriana steampunk. The terrific Steampunk Reloaded series, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, includes a marvellous entertainment originally published in 1870 called Flying Fish Prometheus by Vilhelm Bersoc. I love how all these punks conjure up worlds of creative possibilities. I want to find stories that fit into each of these subgenres, to continue the good work that Matthew Murray started. But I fear it’s too big a project for one person. More a committee or a syndicate would do.

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I scored a free copy of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson at work today. It was a weeded item in a box ready to be put out for one of our infrequent sales. It was still in good condition, so I don’t know why it was being weeded (possibly just not popular, with few borrowings). I at least know how to appreciate a classic book like this (it’s been made into at least three films), so I’ll be reading it with enthusiasm straight after I finish Timescape. I love working in libraries…

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I read another Allkpop article today, this time about a trend of middle-aged men dominating attendances at Le Sserafim concerts. Le Sserafim are a Kpop group of young girls. The post included some photos of some such men in the crowd at a concert and seemed to imply the men were there to ‘perve’. The replies were pretty scathing of the article, suggesting these were either dads attending with children, or just men who like Kpop music, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As such an older man who likes Kpop, it fed into many questions I’ve had about my interest in the genre, especially my love for Twice. Is there an age limit for Kpop (or music in general)? When does my fandom turn into a pedo thing? Is it all just about the music? Should I get a life? Anyway, I’m not a fan of Le Sserafim. When they started out they included a member called Kim Garam, who was accused of being a school bully, and the group’s management dismissed her because of it; even though there was virtually no real evidence. I thought the members should have at least stood by their girl and refuse to perform or cooperate until she was reinstated. I guess it was too hard. But it would have been good if they’d shown some real Girl Power.

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It was Friday night, so that meant time for another episode of Time To Twice. Yay! This was the second episode of the Death Note series. The members are in a library and have to find their own Death Note, plus some blue or black pens, and then write down names in them in a special area called the Death Room. The blue pen means life, the black pen means death, and the winner is the one who has the most lives left at the end. It was revealing watching the members scramble to find these things hidden among the shelves, as it really brought out their character. The villains of the piece were Jihyo and Jeongyeon, who either hid the other members’ books when they found them or wrote the names of the other members using the black pen. No sooner had Mina wrote her own name in the book at the end of the first episode, then Jeongyeon entered the Death Room and wrote Mina’s name in black, cancelling out her save. Elsewhere, competitive Jihyo went after Chaeyoung to take her pen from her. The heroes were Chaeyoung and Momo, who made a heart-warming pact to protect each other and to never write each other’s names down with the black pen. The tally at the end of this round was Sana ahead with 2 lives (one of which was selflessly given by Nayeon), the rest trailing behind. It was silly but it looked like fun. Think I’d like to play.

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