I was suddenly excited because I saw the words 'Corto Maltese' and thought this was going to be about Hugo Pratt's comic book character, Corto Maltese (my nominee for one of the finest swashbuckling adventure heroes of all time). But no, it's just something about a TV series. Which I'm sure is a very fine TV series,… » 10/23/14 9:55am Thursday 9:55am

Among Stoker's influences must surely be Thomas Preskett Priest's "Varney the Vampire", which preceded "Dracula" by almost half a century. If Stoker actually managed to read "Varney", he was a better man than I am — I slogged away for what seemed like an eternity and then gave up when my ereader told me I was only at… » 10/21/14 11:21am Tuesday 11:21am

Given that it took place in what is now Scotland, we can only assume that it began as a drunken fumble about thirty minutes after pub closing time on a Saturday and ended with both participants rolling over and snoring heavily. In the morning, the female Microbrachius groaned and muttered "Christ, ah wis hammered the… » 10/20/14 2:45pm Monday 2:45pm

A real man, such as any of Mr Stephenson's friends, would have cut the bottle open using a 15th-century longsword in a two-handed 'Upper Snake' grip, while wearing forty pounds of authentic plate armor, and having previously soaked themselves to the pauldrons (whatever those are) in the blood of Mongol light horsemen. » 10/15/14 11:04am 10/15/14 11:04am

This may not be confined to English. For instance, there's a fairly close equivalent to "I could/couldn't care less" in Italian. There's a common phrase "non me ne frego", which has about the same meaning and force as the English "I don't give a damn." (The reflexive verb 'fregarsi' literally means 'to rub or harm… » 10/14/14 10:32am 10/14/14 10:32am

Worth mentioning that if you've already forked over your $9.99 for Panic's Transmit, then you can get Prompt 2 as part of one of Apple's new bundles, and you only pay the difference between the price of the bundle ($16.99) and the $9.99 you already paid. Prompt 2 then comes in at $7 rather than $9.99.

Look for the… » 10/13/14 2:52pm 10/13/14 2:52pm

Heinlein's later works also included "Friday", which is pretty straightforward. For the record, I disliked "Friday" intensely (that whole love-your-rapist thing skeeved me more than slightly), but it's fairly conventional, just some classic Heinlein themes updated for an '80s readership. So he at least was apparently… » 10/13/14 11:45am 10/13/14 11:45am

I assumed that the whole point of "Blake's 7" is that it's morally ambiguous — at best. I usually explain it to people by saying "It's like 'Star Trek', except that everyone in it is evil and cynical." Avon often makes it explicit: he might be a crook, but Blake is a fanatic and the most dangerous of them all for that… » 10/11/14 6:34pm 10/11/14 6:34pm