Friday, 13 April 2007

Omaha Hi/Lo Back/Front

I have acquired a thing which delights me greatly, even though it has been produced by a modern artist. Parallel Cards, by Ryan Gander (an obvious pseudonym for Madame Sosostris), is a pack of playing cards, the backs of which are the faces of different playing cards. In other words, the untouched pack procedes normally Ace through King of Spades, then ditto Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds. The back of the Ace of Spades is (in my pack - I don't know whether he's produced variants) the Qh, of the 2s the Js, the 3s the Qd, the 4s the 3c... you get the idea. The possibilities are fantastic. Poker with the back of your hand providing the pool cards for your opponents, for example. Bridge with the option to bid for a hand to be turned over. Gin with the option to flip over melds and extend longer runs. I've already worked out a good variant on find the lady with the (true) Jh, which is backed by the 7s, the (true) 7s, backed by the 9s, and the (true) 9s, backed, very satisfyingly, with the Jh. The punter can see (on one side) that it is a perfectly ordinary deck, and the card on top has a normal red back. That can be turned over to an identical design in black.

I like it as much as The Great Bear. Maybe even more.

I was in Cambridge today talking in a studio about Vonnegut and very nearly had a drink after I came out. I went into a bookshop until the urge passed. Consequently I now have two books on Philip K Dick (like I need more books on him; I've got nearly as many about him as I have by him, and I've got, I'm pretty sure, all of them now, even the straight novels which I don't like as much) and half a dozen novels I should have read already but haven't. Not classics - there are loads of them I haven't read, of course - but things like Gibson's Pattern Recognition and The Book of Dave by Will Self which I just never got round to getting. I get these in the door and am now torn between reading instead books I have got and have read, and could have reread at any time without being prompted by getting new ones. Specifically, I want to read Idoru, Sutin's biography of PKD and Riddley Walker. I can't find my copy of Riddley Walker. Now I don't want to read anything else.

not reading: Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban
sf: Jem, Frederik Pohl
crime: Polar Star, Martin Cruz Smith (we haven't had that before, have we?)
if it's new to you: The Erasers, Alain Robbe-Grillet
dinner was fish and chips. I will write about the religious implications of this at some point.