Friday Photo Blogging: ubercamp toilet seat

When looking for somewhere to stay for my trip to Berlin, I decided to go with the place I did for two reasons. Firstly, the single rooms were very affordable (twenty Euros a night, which is comparable to most dormitory slots); secondly, it advertised itself as being very gay-friendly, which struck me as a great way to minimise the risk of ending up sharing space with a lot of beered-up laddish backpackers.

The actual gay-friendliness is not something I can adequately assess, obviously, but it manifested itself in certain small ways beyond the lifestyle and outlook of the staff. As an example, this is what I found in the toilet next to my room:

Ubercamp toilet seat at Berlin backpacker hostel; down positionUbercamp toilet seat at Berlin backpacker hostel; up position

That’s Berlin for ya[1]! Awesome town, and I had tons of fun. I did not at any juncture wear a lacy thong, however.

Writing about music

There was quite a binge of reviewing before I left, and there’s been quite a bit since I got back – isn’t that always the way with holidays? Still, Duncan Harris seems to be settling in as a reviewer[2], and I have a few more victims volunteers about to come on board, so The Dreaded Press is rolling along pretty well, despite my temporary absence.

Album(s) of the fortnight

Well, it’s a mini-album, but close enough. The cumbersomely-titled Seven Months and a Fire Blanket by Proceed by is everything that young British post-hardcore bands usually fail to produce, and marks them out as one worth keeping an eye out for.

Close second goes to Lost in the Sound of Separation by Underoath – Christian metalcore that isn’t a load of unlistenable shouty bollocks. Hoodathunkit?

Writing about books

Surprise surprise, I was far too busy enjoying myself to do much formal writing while I was away, and I’ve been far too busy playing catch-up since I got back. However, I did read all of Paul McAuley‘s forthcoming novel The Quiet War and the VanderMeers’ Steampunk anthology, and took plenty of notes on both. So, another two titles to add to the ever-growing list of “books I should have reviewed months ago”. 🙂

Speaking of my doings in lit-crit, though: in case it passed you by, my long-anticipated long-awaited essay on Snow Crash was published at SF Site while I was away[3], and I cropped up in an SF Signal Mind Meld on media tie-in novels. Go, me!


This week’s catch-up has mostly been freelance stuff, taking full advantage of the time off from the day-job. If all goes according to plan, we’ll be launching a new author website early next week – watch this space for an announcement! But a week of XHTML and CSS has been pretty hard on my brain, to be honest. I think I need a holiday…


My great team of blogging types kept Futurismic ticking over nicely while I was away, and the new story from David McGillveray – “The Plastic Elf of Extrusion Valley – appeared right on schedule. Hurrah for post-dated publishing in WordPress! 🙂

Books and magazines seen

Arriving just before I left for Berlin, the latest Electric Velocipede plonked into the letterbox, which has stepped up from stapled A4 to proper digest format and looks very pretty (though I rather liked the cod-steampunkisms of the old black’n’white covers, too).

Electric Velocipede 14

I actually took it with me, but never got round to attacking it.

I got a second copy of Foundation #102 (my contributor copy, don’tcha know), which I think I might send to my mum. She seems inexplicably proud of my ability to pontificate about books at great length without saying anything original, which I guess is what mothers are for. 🙂

And finally the nice people at Tor (the Stateside branch, no less) have sent me a hardback version of Tobias Buckell‘s third novel, Sly Mongoose.

Tobias Buckell - Sly Mongoose

I’m very fond of Tobias, as Futurismic readers will be aware, and I’m glad to see him doing so well for himself. I should really read the second in the series before this one, though…


So, between all the catch-up work and a hefty handful of gigs, this last week of my holiday has been anything but relaxed. I saw Swedish punk’n’rollers Backyard Babies on Wednesday night, judged at the local BOTB play-offs last night, and tonight I’m off to see the quirky musical legend that is Bob Log III.

Tomorrow afternoon sees me reading some of my poetry at people as part of the Southsea Fest[4], as well, so it’s not over yet. In some ways it’ll be a relief to get back to a regular schedule… though I imagine the relief will fade after about 2pm on Monday. 😉

Anyway, enough of my yakkin’ – I have things to do, and I expect you have as well, so I’ll bid you farewell and roll out for The Friday Curry before preparing myself for a train trip to Southampton. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend! Hasta luego, amigos!

[ 1 – This photo partly picked because I’ve not actually had a chance to go through all my other pictures yet. Plus I thought you lot would get a giggle out of it. ]

[ 2 – He calls it how he sees it, though, which has led to some rather heated responses from fans of the bands in question. Heh. ]

[ 3 – Even without being near a computer I knew when it went live; there was a disturbance in the Force, as if a billion sf fans cried out in boredom, and then suddenly fell silent. Presumed asleep. ]

[ 4 – The irritating frames-based website means I can’t link directly, but if you look under ‘Venues’ and scroll down to The Wine Vaults, you’ll see yours truly amid a roster of far superior poets and musos. As I’m vastly outgunned on talent in this instance, I’m going to just aim for leftfield and try out the ‘potted space opera’ I wrote last year. Six sections, six different poetic forms, one story of an orbital habitat after the environmental collapse of Earth, one accidental and ham-fisted tribute to science fiction as possibly written by Gilbert and Sullivan. Erm, yes. ]

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