At this point, I most likely sound like a broken record but my point is that there are many great records out there that are far from broken and are in fact more than optimal. A couple of these arrived by mechanical stork today and - while we’re on a bit of a science fiction binge at the moment - I shall break the first one down for you like a hot cake.
65 Days Of Static were always an adventurous band but I feel like they went to the nth degree and back here, which is entirely the case. ‘Music For An Infinite Universe’ (Laced Music Ltd / Varèse Sarabande Records, LLC, 2016), the soundtrack to 2016’s most contentious video game, ‘No Man’s Sky’ is just that: a procedurally generated score for a procedurally generated experience. I mean sure, they obviously cherry picked the best, most tasty bitesize bits from their computer’s time composing for Hello Game’s weird baby and then parcelled them into an album but the bits are delicious. The only thing that I think might come close would be the soundtrack for Ridley Scott’s original ‘Blade Runner’ by Vangelis and that’s praise in the highest of heavens. It’s the kind of album you can put on, leave on and then suddenly discover one day that you have favourites and that whole process occurred without you noticing. I also suspect that it would be the perfect music to fly an X-Wing to but that shall have to wait. Mine’s still in the shop.
Did someone mention the Harrison Ford movie? There have been a few “behind the scenes’ sci fi books paraded on this boulevard - ‘The Book Of Alien’ not least amongst them - but this may well be the crowning, prophetic jewel of them all. The angle at which Don Shay’s ‘Blade Runner: The Inside Story’ (Titan Books, 2000) approaches my most sensitive cortex is that of a ping pong table, set up in the Lucas Arts back lot to film the Death Star passovers in a screaming jeep. The physical model sets, lighting and obsessive attention to detail are a wonder to behold. If you’re a ‘Blade Runner’ fan (and let’s face it, if you’re not then you probably won’t find yourself here in the first place) then by all means, try to find a copy. They are scarce and beauteous.
The first two Wayfarer books are, quite simply some of the best sci fi I have ever read. Through a series of very readable snapshots, Becky Chambers painted a uniquely human story in a wider galaxy that we may one day inhabit. Like all great science fiction, the technology, space ships, A.I and alien lifeforms are somewhat incidental; they are a lens though which we might better view ourselves. The atmosphere may be different, the language ever-changing but some aspects of human nature remain. This book in particular looks at the naturally occurring phenomenon whereby one xyr’s normal is another xyr’s exotic. I talked about this after coming back from Mex, how travel is one of the best things one can do to break down those previously held assumptions of life. It’s nice to see that explored here and I’d put money on Chambers doing as admirable a job as xe has on previous outings, with gender, race, sentience, slavery and all manner of other weighty packages.
Xe is an incredibly inclusive individual and that is always a credit, particularly in a universe often cold and indifferent to our fate. In reparation for my own, tardy entry into this volume, ‘Record Of A Spaceborn Few’, I submit the following letter of apology:
Dear M. Chambers,
I trust this letter finds you well. I am sorry it has taken me so long to write - in truth, it is time that passes with such haste when unobserved for even a splinter of the brain’s eye and I trust that you shall not take offence at what is now, an oversight I am endeavouring to make up for.
It is very much the case that I made provisions to be reminded when the third book in your Wayfarers series should be released into the wild. Those plans, as do the best of those crafted by all men, women, rodents and gender neutral organisms, failed. I can only apologise and promise that should I eventually discover the culprit, a casual spacing may ensue.
Yours, reading furiously and with great relish,
JD - TACOCAT