Rigg's Cabinet of Curiosities

curated by Thornton Rigg


January 2017

From Darkest Skies : Sam Peters

… absorbing SF/crime thriller …

An absorbing SF/crime thriller with strong characterisation surfing above some inventive and intricate world building.

Government Agent Rouse returns to the distant planet of Magenta to continue his duties whilst secretly investigating the murder of fellow agent and wife, Alysha.  He has brought with him an illegal AI shell of her, built from her data footprint.  Can Rouse find out what really happened on that train whilst tackling corporate crime and the drugs trade on Magenta?

I enjoyed Sam‘s characterisation, Rangesh in particular, and his sure way with dialogue.   He uses the contrast between Rouse’s grief and the team banter to great effect; and the novel also explores a human’s personal and intense relationship with AI.   It reads as though it was great fun to write and there’s clearly room for a sequel.


Cover design moment: Unfortunately, as this is an ARC, there’s no trace of a designer credit on the copy but – huzzah! – it has a WHITE background and strong, clear image.  UPDATE: Thanks to a heads up from Carole Heidi the design company is the brilliant Black Sheep.  Their website is here.

Sam’s biog reads: a mathematician, part-time gentle-person adventurer and occasional screenwriter who has seen faces glaze over at the words ‘science fiction’ once too often. … Has more hopes than regrets, more cats than children, watches a lot of violent contact sport and is an unrepentant closet goth.

This book is the second review in my British Books Challenge 2017.

From Darkest Skies by Sam Peters will be published by Orion on 20 April 2017.  Emily at Emily’s Bookshop lent me her review copy.  Thanks, Em!


Traitor to the Throne : Alwyn Hamilton

… brilliant, pacey sequel to Rebel of the Sands …


Amani is back, fighting against the odds amongst the deadly politics of the Sultan’s Harem.  Now a respected leader in the Rebel Forces, she is betrayed and ends up a prisoner in the Palace with her powers disabled.  This is where Alwyn really hits her stride and the story picks up pace with an intriguing thread about the three brothers: the Sultan, the Rebel Prince and Amani’s lover, Jin; and the overarching question: who exactly is the traitor?


ps. I would like to request a cast list at the front of the next book to navigate my way around all the characters and do recommend new readers start with the first in the series, Rebel of the Sands.

Cover design moment: Unfortunately there isn’t any trace of the designer on the review copy but the strong, vibrant design is as good as Rebel of the Sands.  The lettering and patterning are very distinctive and its unusual colour will help the book to stand out on a crowded bookshop table … which is the point, right?  (The US cover design on the other hand … hmm …)

As Alwyn lives in London, this book is the first in my British Books Challenge 2017. Huzzah.

Traitor to the Throne will be published 2 February 2017 by Faber and Faber.  Emily at Emily’s Bookshop lent me her review copy.  Thanks, Em!



Robinson Crusoe : The Theatre, Chipping Norton

… a Christmas institution …


A trip to the pantomime in Chippy is a Christmas institution and our visit to Robinson Crusoe and the Pirate Queen was a sheer delight.   As always, the volunteer staff are so welcoming and the little Victorian style theatre so delightful, it’s a treat to sit back and watch the nonsense dance across the small stage with superb comic timing, great visual gags, and with an excellent cast really enjoying themselves.  (Possibly too much as it’s the end of the season …)

The Theatre at Chipping Norton has been staging pantomimes for the past 40 years and really does know how to involve the audience not just with “It’s behind you!”, thrown sweets and singing competitions, but also with a magical, funny scene played out with puppets above the audience’s heads, a small troupe of young actors and some outstanding sets.  As far as I know The Theatre has never employed celebrities to sell the tickets nor do they work pop songs into their scripts, preferring to create outstanding pantomime that has no need of ephemeral support.

It was a particularly strong cast this season with the superb Andrew Pepper back for his second year as the dame, Mrs Camilla Crusoe.   Her outrageous dresses, designed by Emily Stuart, could have taken a curtain call all by themselves.

The Theatre‘s delightful home began life as a Salvation Army Citadel and its designers and engineers were those behind many Victorian Music Halls, so it was perfectly proportioned for its new life as a theatre.  It was discovered by two RSC actors, Tamara and John Malcolm in 1968 and after much fund raising, The Theatre was opened in 1975.  If you haven’t been, you should.  For further details of The Theatre and their upcoming season, please click here.

And for video clips of the dazzling Andrew Pepper, click here for his website.


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