This is the third in Kim Newman’s vampire series, following on from Anno Dracula and The Bloody Red Baron. Moving past an alternative second world war in which the allies did a deal with Dracula to ensure the defeat of Hitler, we arrive in 1956. Dracula is living in exile in Italy, and is about to marry another vampire elder from an ancient, if impoverished dynasty.
Everyone who’s anyone, living or undead is in Rome for the festivities, or for their own reasons. And someone is killing vampires with extreme force. There’s lots of adventure, lots of action and the usual welter of allusions. There’s the usual selection of real and fictional characters, including a British spy called Hamish Bond, not to mention a dodgy American who would appear to be Tom Ripley…
It’s just as much fun as the previous books, and you definitely want to read it. As with those books, this new edition comes with some extra features, most notably a new novelette which brings us up to 1968, and involves murder, Enoch Powell and yet more allusions, including more TV coppers than you might believe. George Dixon seems to have moved from Dock Green, but is as nice as ever. And bringing the allusions up to date, there’s even a vampire policeman called Herrick, which I’m pretty sure is a nod towards the excellent Being Human.
I’m declining to give away plot details, as that might spoil your fun. Watch out for the next book, which is a shiny new one called Johnny Alucard.
While my brother went to work, I had a nice day out in Cardiff. Got some pictures in the city centre, then took the train to Cardiff Bay, where I took some more pictures, despite the best efforts of the X100′s battery to die.
I had a coffee and a toasted teacake in the cafe in the Millennium Centre, then had a look inside the Pierhead Building, where there are some exhibitions, short films to watch and some quite lovely architecture of the “bonkers Victorian” variety. After that, I went into Senedd, home of the Welsh Assembly. You have to go through airport-style security to get in, but once you’re in you can wander around the public parts of the building, including a gallery where you can look down on the Assembly Chamber.
I got a guided tour (just me and Gareth, the enthusiastic and well-informed guide), which as the Assembly doesn’t sit on Fridays, included a visit to the quite splendid Chamber, with its amazing light-funnelling roof.
More pictures to follow, but for now here’s disturbing evidence of the CIA’s presence in Wales:
After the usual hotel breakfast, we shut down all the Bristol kit and loaded into a car for the short trip to the new office, where we got on with the fun job of making it all work again. Oddly enough, this all went quite smoothly, with only moderate tweaking needed to make the toys behave.
I left at about 3:15 or thereabouts to collect my suitcase from the hotel and go to the station for my slightly long weekend in Wales, leaving Aaron to finish off, tidy up and deal with any lingering issues tomorrow morning. I’ll be back there on Monday for a few hours before going home again.
I’ve got a slight lack of pictures at the moment, so err, here isn’t today’s picture. Maybe more tomorrow….
After the fun of getting phones installed yesterday, I had a quiet day to catch up with email and other bits and bobs today.
This evening, Aaron arrived in Bristol after an, err, interesting journey from Newcastle, which involved several more trains than normal, not to mention rather more time than it should. A large dinner at Las Iguanas seemed like a good idea, so that’s what we did.
Here’s a cabinet thingy before most of the toys get installed:
Had the usual hotel breakfast, then set off for the office. Loads of kit was shifted to the new office, and I got to work, putting things in a thing and plugging other things into other other things.
Our supplier’s person arrived to do his things, which mostly worked apart from the bit BT got wrong, so we enjoyed a good curse BT session, as is traditional. We also discovered that we are both photographers, which was cool. We showed each other some of our work, which was even cooler.
With all that done, I went back to the current office and caught up with the email I hadn’t had time to look at earlier. Then I came back to the hotel, where this seemed like a good idea:
I’m due for a relatively quiet day tomorrow, then Thursday is moving day. Fun. Or something.
 Look, nobody wants the technical details, do they?
 Errr, well, I knew I was one, and I’m pretty sure Steve knew about himself already, so I should probably rephrase that sentence, but that would require too much concentration at this point.
Yes, it’s back to the weightless reports again. It doesn’t seem that long since I got back from London, but here I am, back in Bristol already. Well, I say “already”, but it was a bit of a long journey. There’s been a wee bit of rain around the country, which led to flooding in parts of Yorkshire, which led to my train not only having to go veerrryyy slooooowwwwllly at times, but also having to wait for other slow trains in front to get through. This reflection-affected picture shows the view from the window in a rather bad way:
Either that, or it’s a previously unknown impressionist painting.
That would have been bad enough, but more fun was to follow. The train was supposed to get a new crew at Birmingham New Street for the rest of the journey to Bristol, but what with the weather and the delays, the crew was in the wrong part of the country, so the train had to give up at Birmingham. So I then had to wait for the next train to Bristol, which oddly enough was only a little bit late. So I got to the hotel at around 8:30, which was about 90 minutes later than planned.
Oh, and I forgot to clip my Fitbit on before leaving home, so activity tracking will not be happening…
 It normally goes to Penzance or some such place, but that part of the country has apparently floated away and is expected to arrive in Florida at some point
Terry Pratchett is of course best known for the extensive Discworld series, and other novels. But somehow, between all the books, he has managed to write some shorter pieces. Some of these were written for anthologies, some for various publications, making many of them hard or impossible to track down.
Well, here they are. The first half of the book consists of non-Discworld stories, including some from very early in Terry’s career (the first having been published when he was 13). These are a bit of a mixed bag – some clearly better than others, and a couple which were later recycled into more developed works (there’s a Gnome story that’s an early version of the Bromeliad trilogy, and what amounts to a first draft of the Long Earth). There’s lots of Terry’s trademark humour to enjoy, and a deal with the Devil that works out quite nicely…
But it’s the second half that most readers will be interested in. This contains a nice selection of Discworld Stories, including some of the popular characters – Granny Weatherwax makes a very welcome appearance, Cohen the Barbarian meets some Trolls, and there is much more besides.
Each piece has a short introduction from Terry, and well, you’re going to read it anyway, aren’t you?