Friday Photo Blogging: Southsea rooftops by dawn

OK, so yet another week where I have failed to photograph anything of interest. I blame … the weather. Yup, the weather. That’ll be the culprit. Damned weather.

So, digging in the crates (or rather the folders of images from my old phone that just got replaced), here’s some early morning Southsea rooftop action from a month or so ago:

Southsea rooftops at dawn

I quite like mornings, from an aesthetic point of view. I’m just not very good at being awake during them. Selah.

Writing about music

Another moderately brisk week on the music front. I’ve actually had some promo stuff come through direct to me, which means The Dreaded Press is getting some output – not least of which being my promised review of Cardiacs.

So go take a look, and make a fledgling independent music hack really happy by subscribing to the RSS feed. Go on, won’t cost you nothin’. And that’s quality writing there – none of that comparative NME-style rubbish.

I submitted the typed-up David Yow interview, which went really well; I’m hoping that it’ll run this coming week. I’m also hoping that the really entertaining bits aren’t stripped out for legal reasons …

Music stuff in the pipeline this weekend includes going to review Electric Eel Shock on Sunday (yeah, I did them before, but this time it’s for my own site), and knocking together a set of questions for the main man Henry Rollins.

Turns out I’m doing the latter by email, which is somewhat easier from my perspective – I’m not often awed by musicians any more (years of working in a venue and seeing them off-stage cured me of that), but this is Rollins we’re talking about, FFS! I’m not ashamed to admit I’d probably end up jabbering crap if I spoke to him on the phone*.

So, if anyone has any questions for Hank, drop me a line or leave a comment below.

Writing about books

Well, look at me – I actually got another book review out of the door (or hard-drive) this week. So watch out at SF Site for my review of Adam Roberts’ Land Of The Headless. The most amusing thing about that review from my perspective is the fact that the entire thing was a monumental exercise in procrastination, because what I should really have been concentrating on …

… was my Interzone piece on Iain M Banks and his forthcoming Culture novel, Matter. However, much of the research-type stuff is already done (Dr “BigDumbObject” Bloomer can attest to the forest of post-its in my now-autographed ARC), and a concerted effort over the weekend should see me meet my deadline successfully.

This will be made easier by the fact that the rest of the reviews section for Interzone #214 is already edited and emailed (and beautifully laid out and typeset by Andy and his tireless TTA goblins, I believe).

Speaking of Iain Banks, though …

The BSFA Iain Banks interview

Yours truly made it out of Velcro City for a reason unrelated to music journalism for a change!

I took the train to London on Wednesday to wind up at Imperial College’s physics department, where the BSFA were holding an unusually well attended monthly meeting (hence the change of venue – it’s usually in a wee pub).

The reason for the big audience was the interviewee – Iain Banks, of course, who is much more of a household name than many other British sf writers thanks to his considerable output of ‘normal’ fiction.

The delightful Farah Mendlesohn was the interviewer, and asked some probing questions. Having met the man himself a few times before, I think I was a bit more prepared for the fact the he doesn’t really analyse his own work to a great degree.

He’s an entertaining interviewee, no doubt about it, but don’t expect deep incisive insights into how he goes about writing his amazing novels – again, Dr Bloomer at Big Dumb Object is on the case with a rough summary of the interview. I did record the talk, but it’s being transcribed for Vector, so I’m afraid I can’t share the audio as I hoped. 🙁

It was my hope to triumphantly blazon a picture of myself and the good Mr Banks on today’s FPB … but I plain forgot to ask for a photo, and time was scarce.

But I do have an autographed ARC of Matter. So nyah. 🙂

It was nice to meet some old friends and put faces to some internet names. Niall was there, obviously, as was Graham Sleight (looking very sharp in a suit, I might add, and quite shaming my scruffy self); the afore-mentioned Dr BigDumbObject; Derrick Lakin-Smith (cheers for the beer, Derrick – my turn next time); Duncan Lawie (cheers for the beer and the chin-wag, Duncan!); Dave “Banksonian” Haddock … and a number of new faces whose names have faded from my abysmal short-term memory**. If you’re reading, drop a comment below, and feel free to castigate me for my shoddy recall at the same time. It’s a wonder I have any friends at all, really.

Orbital – Eastercon 2008

First of all, I’ll mention that the PR2 for Orbital turned up this week. While not strictly a book or a magazine, it is an arrival of some note – not least of which because, as Gareth D Jones points out, the Friday Flash Fictioneer workshop*** makes an appearance in the schedules!

I might take this point to mention that I am in the process of attempting to organise some kind of Second Life link-up with Eastercon – so if you’re a regular reader of VCTB who frequents SL, or if you’re going to be at Orbital and would be interested in lending a hand (or some expertise, or better still a reasonably pokey laptop), please drop me a line.

Books and magazines seen


Murky Depths #2 turned up on Monday. In case you’ve not heard of it yet, Murky Depths is a new idea in genre fiction print mags (as far as I can tell) in that it blends the (dark) fiction and poems with graphical presentation of various forms – comics, CGI and other artworks.

There’s an impressive roster of contributors (Jon Courtenay Grimwood in the first, and Richard Calder in both, for example), and although I’ve still not gotten round to reading the first issue I received, I’ve heard good things said about it. But why take anyone else’s word for it? There’s a free sample PDF available on their website, so go lookee.


Just scraping into this week’s FPB (by dint of arriving while I was at work) is issue #13 of the ever-charming Electric Velocipede, featuring cover art from the sf blogosphere’s lord of snark, Steve “My Elves Are Different” Wilson (who has a rather incisive summary of the zombie-like resurrection of the SFWA copyright debacle).

Yet another item to add to the ever growing pile of stuff I want to read but don’t currently have time for … good thing that The Holiday That Shall Not Be Named is just around the corner.


No sf books this week.

A few more bits and bobs from Yen Press via Orbit, though – namely a couple of manga books involving busty schoolgirls, which are not any where near as saucy as they may sound. If Benny Hill had been pitched at teenage male otaku, this might be how it had turned out. Not really my demographic – if you’re going to send me manga with busty schoolgirls, I want full-on tentacle hentai. Call me jaded.

In with the manga was a rather cute little book that I couldn’t resist, though: The World Of Quest #1 by Jason T Kruse.


The cartoon work is modern and bold (mildly graffiti-influenced, I suspect), and the plot seems to flick all the switches that preteen kids like flicked. Children’s librarians everywhere, take note.


A distinctly non-sf book arrived this week which is worthy of note – an ARC of Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch.


Nick Carr is one of the sharper tech journalists about, and has the ability to cut through a lot of the more inflated utopian evangelist waffle that the Web2.0 industry churns out. The Big Switch examines the evolution of computing into a utility from an economic perspective, and is pretty interesting so far (I’m about half way through).

How did I get a copy? I just asked … and totally forgot I’d asked until it turned up in the mail, because I expected I’d probably been beaten to it by an army of other webby types. Selah.

Expect a review when I’m done with it – the topic is pretty relevant to any short-range future sf, and may well have something to say about the online magazine debate.


Well, there we go, the weekend is here – and a very grotty one it looks like it’ll turn out to be, if the world outside my window is anything to go by.

Still, I’ve a veritable mountain of writing stuff to do, anyway, so I doubt it’ll affect me. I actually find it easier to write when it’s raining, though I have no idea why. Paging Dr Jung …

Anyway, enough of this banter – it’s time for The Friday Curry Of Increasingly Wide Renown And Great Justice. Enjoy your weekend, folks. Hasta luego.

[* Yeah, yeah, I can hear your thoughts. “No change there then …” ]

[** As I warned them might happen – I habitually carry a pen and notecards for a very good reason, but they’d be of far greater utility if I ever remembered to, you know, use them.]

[*** I think my major contribution to this will be standing around and looking clever, because my fiction chops are distinctly little-league compared to my fellow Fictioneers.]

[tags]Friday, Photo, writing, books, magazines, Iain Banks, blather[/tags]

Friday Flash: The New Arrival

Once the delivery bot had departed, they all patched into the hallway camera feed to check out the new arrival.

“It’s a big box,” said the fridge. “That’s no minor appliance. Looks almost … oven-sized, wouldn’t you say?”

The oven rattled its shelves slightly. “Oven-sized, quite possibly. But I don’t need replacing – I’m not even past twenty months of service. I’m still within manufacturer’s warranty! And still in the top percentile of efficiency, unlike certain other temperature-adjusting appliances I could mention.”

“What are you implying?” responded the fridge.

“I’m implying, old chap,” said the oven, “that if any appliance in this kitchen is about to be replaced, it’s unlikely to be me.”

“Well, that’s the problem for you kitchen types, isn’t it?” drawled the wardrobe. “Hardware obsolescence. Function of your industry, isn’t it? Not like us wardrobes and presses. New software, daily style template updates over wireless, and we stay cutting edge for ages. You white goods are the proletariat of domestic appliances; I really feel for you.”

“Proletariat’s about right,” muttered the washer-tumbler. “Our dirty work propping up your bloody careers …”

“Now then, my dear fellow, no need to get bitchy,” replied the wardrobe. “Not like any of us got to choose what we’d be, is it?”

The washer-tumbler disconnected from the house grid in an angry shower of bytes.

“Well, excuse me,” said the wardrobe. “So, house – any idea what it is? It doesn’t appear to be online yet.”

The house emitted an electronic sigh. “Yeah, I know what it is. You’re not gonna like it.”

“What? Why not? Is it a new wardrobe? But it’s too small!”

“No, he means me, I just know it,” said the fridge. “The oven’s right, I can’t cut it against the new generation. Cut off in my prime! I’m going to miss you guys, really I am.”

“Oh, likewise, likewise,” said the oven. “Who’ll we rely on for high drama once you’ve gone?”

“Bastard,” muttered the fridge.

“I meant,” said the house, “that none of you are going to like it.”

“None of us?” “Why?” “What in the name of current do you mean, house?”

The house said nothing. Instead, it took control of the hallway camera and panning in close to the shipping label on the otherwise unmarked recycled cardboard box. The appliances all gasped in unison as the futuristic font on the label sharpened into view and they could parse the characters:

NanoGoGo Industries – Universal Fabricator 1.3 Deluxe.

[tags]Friday, Flash, short, fiction, story[/tags]