Sunday, 10 August 2008

CHION by Darryl Sloan - The Review

Yes, I'm late. Want to know why? I got stuck in the Dublin floods and couldn't get home last night. I did make some video but these guys did it better:

Well, enough of that. There's a great book to go on about! And it involves not rain, but snow...

Chion is Greek and means "like snow". A white substance has fallen from the sky, immobilising all that it touches. We watch events unfold within a junior high school. The story is centred on Jamie and his friend Tara, fighting to survive in a world that's turned against humanity. Yet the national and international disaster is eclipsed by their intensely personal journey of faith and tragedy, despair and love, chilling ruthlessness and future hope.

Darryl has written a book eminently suitable for teens, but carrying enough bite for vanloads of grown-ups. I loved the Irish setting (of course), the accents leaping off the page, and a very nicely crafted story. And so imaginative! Who would ever think of twelve reams of paper as a life-saving necessity? Not me. Surprises like this are all the way through Chion, along with quirky sideways humour - such as when Jamie thinks of terrorists as the safe, sensible explanation for what's going on.

This is not sci-fi as you know it. There's actually very little in the way of technical stuff. It's very people-centred, casting a bright light on personal action and reaction to adversity. Both kindness and cruelty are increased in a vivid display of humanity, and it caused me to wonder: What would I do? Can I even answer that question? If the whole country were in such mortal danger, would my thoughts be on my own survival - or someone else's?

There's a great sense of the coldness, of streets emptied of life, of sudden harshness, the will to live, and the will to save. There's also a sense of the awakening of maturity within Jamie and Tara as they face the unprecedented situation.

Chion is an absolute gem. Hold on tight and jump aboard for the ride!

Visit Darryl's website

Check out these member blogs too. Audio interviews are posted here from August 4th - click on the top banner to listen.

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Great Live Dundalk Interview: Darryl Sloan and Grace Bridges

Yes folks - here it is! have fun... each part is about 15 minutes long.

If the player above won't work for you, click here to download the MP3's directly. You may wish to right-click the links on that page and select Save Target As / Save Link As - to save the file to a location of your choice.

Visit Darryl's website

Check out these member blogs Aug. 3-9 for more info.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

The CHION Tour - Day One

I have been neglectful of the CFRB lately. My excuse was globetrotting. No fixed abode, no certain internet connection, all that.

Load of codswallop.

An abode and a wifi connection are not so hard to come by. All it takes is a little work. But by the time I realised this, months passed. So I had no idea that the rest of you already knew about an upcoming tour of an Irish sci-fi author. Can’t believe no one thought to tell me! Must have been divine intervention that I got an email David had apparently meant to send to someone else, and I decided to check out the old place again. And lo and behold, a very imminent tour of a rather local writer, even if he is legally in another country. Same Emerald Isle, after all.

Can you imagine my delight? I mean, can you? For some time now I've been using the tagline "Irish sci-fi" for myself, and here pops up another one - and not only that (yes dears, I do know there are other Irish sci-fi writers out there) but the main character in his book is a Christian. Add to that the simple fact that both his book and mine take place in the North of Ireland, and you're all ready for a very surprised Grace who is after all only Irish on paper.

Okay, so after some cheery prodding from blog tour members (everyone knows who you are!) and some negotiating with Darryl (because neither of us has a car) we agreed to meet in Dundalk, in between Portadown where he lives and Balbriggan where I live.

I took the bus, which doesn't come very often, so I was early. Dundalk is fairly unremarkable, but then I didn't see very much of it since I arrived in a rainstorm. I nosed around in a cafe or two looking for a place to record the historic interview, then waited around outside for a while, since the sun was shining for a change.

(Irish weather is as wet and as unpredictable as everyone says. However, I have proven beyond all doubt that right here in Dublin's North County is the driest part of the country. Every time I leave it, it starts to rain.)

Anyway, after a while, I got sick of peering at the cars with British registration. Dundalk's so near the border there are a lot of Northerners there. The shopping's pretty good too, actually. Whoops, did I leave out part of my day's activity? Irrelevant.

Eventually a man leaped out of the passenger seat of a British car just entering the carpark. He waved furiously at me, so I assumed it must be Darryl. As he came nearer I found myself looking up at him. This guy is seriously tall! After his cousin took the photo you've seen above, we went into the cafe, bought orange juice, and settled in the roped-off part of the restaurant. It was a bit quieter there. I set up my laptop and did a quick sound check, and then hit record.

You realise of course that up till this point we'd scarcely said a word of conversation. We wanted to save it for the MP3. And that's what we did.

Later the cafe ladies offered us a spare sandwich, which we ate with gratitude. There IS such a thing as a free lunch, folks, and it's in Dundalk at closing time.

Such is the record of the afternoon in Dundalk last Wednesday. Tomorrow I'll be posting the first 15-minute segment of our interview for you all to have fun listening to.

Thusly I celebrate my return to CFRB and thank you all for reading. Come back tomorrow or else!!

(PS. Excuse my haphazardness, please. I spent much of today on the pillion seat of Alison's motorbike at high speeds into Dublin central and back again. Woo, very very scary. I comforted myself with the thought that this is great fiction fodder!)

(PPS. Darryl will pick the most creative comment on one of the CHION tour blogs - here, or one of the links below - and that person will get a signed copy sent from Ireland! So get thinking!)

Visit Darryl's website

Comment here or on these member blogs Aug. 3-9 for your chance to win a signed copy! Audio interviews are posted here from August 4th - click on the top banner to listen.