Friday Photo Blogging: you are now leaving the American sector

This iconic Checkpoint Charlie sign is not the original, but it’s a very close simulacrum thereof:

Site of Checkpoint Charlie

Just a few yards to the left – in what is arguably Berlin’s most tacky tourist trap – a fake checkpoint booth is guarded my imitation soldiers in period uniforms, American and Russian. They will pose for photos while holding large national flags; you can get an ‘official’ Checkpoint Charlie stamp for your passport for a small charge.

History is almost as strange as our attitudes towards it.

Writing about music

Still playing the catch-up game from the massive glut of releases due the week before this; however, there are virtually none due the week after next, so that should provide a bit of cushioning. Second regular reviewer settling in, as well, so things are looking like they should become more reasonable over time[1].

Album of the week

The prize this week goes to Toronto lunatics Fucked Up for The Chemistry Of Common Life, a sprawling psychedelic punk’n’roll album that never quite does what you expect it to.

An honourable mention to local popcore chaps Cut The Blue Wire for their début EP, too.

Writing about books

Finally got round to battering out a review of The Coming Convergence, which was harder than it should have been – principally because the book was telling me lots of stuff I already knew, so I didn’t find it anywhere near as interesting as I expect many less geeky people would do. High time I cleared some of my fiction reviews backlog, though… lucky it’s the weekend, eh?


As mentioned previously, Tim Lebbon’s site is up and running, though a number of minor issues remain to be ironed out. Web development with WordPress seems to be a game of compromises as far as advanced functionalities go; you can make it do [function x], but you may unexpectedly lose the ability to do [function y] as a result[2]. Still climbin’ that learning curve…


Just finished swapping contracts and paying for the next piece of Futurismic fiction, which is about as different from the last one as you could possibly imagine – a very sober and metaphorical piece. I’m looking forward to seeing what people think of it.

Traffic is still strong over there, but ad revenue is way down this month; I think a lot of budgets have been tightened in response to the stock markets doing their creditable impression of the Himalayas[3].

Books and magazines seen

Finally some actual science fiction material has turned up in the postbox! We have two Neal Asher titles from Tor UK: Prador Moon in paperback, and a hardback of his imminent collection The Gabble and Other Stories.

The Gabble and Other Stories - Neal Asher

Then there’s two second-books-in-series from Orbit: one from Sean Williams, Astropolis 2: Earth Ascendant, and the other from Marianne de Pierres, Chaos Space.

Astropolis 2: Earth Ascendant by Sean Williams Chaos Space - Marianne de Pierres

I really enjoyed the first book of de Pierres’ Sentients of Orion series, so I’ll have to try making space for this one as soon as I can. I seem to be cramming in more reading time recently, so maybe it’ll be sooner rather than later… if I could only banish this pointless need for sleep!

Oh, and yet more poetry[4] in the form of the latest issue of Obsessed With Pipework. Jolly good!


This has been the second week of my swimming regime; I’m pleased to say that I made it out twice again, and managed longer distances with less agony as well[5]. I even seem to be losing weight already, though that’s based on a visual assessment (as I don’t own any scales). Still, less spare tyre is one of the results I’m looking for, so that’ll do nicely, thanks.

I’ve also generally been a little more energetic and cheerful this last week, too[6], though that might also be due to the influence of my anti-SAD lightbulbs[7]; they did a great job of fending off the seasonal blues last year, and I’m hoping they do so again. Sure, maybe it’s a placebo effect; it’s still £10 well spent if so.

Anyway, there’s still much to be done before my day is over, so I’ll bid you farewell; it’s off-week on the Curry rota, so I’d best go make myself something comparatively affordable and healthy to eat instead. Have yourselves a good weekend, folks – auf weidersehn!

[ 1 – That was the sound of me touching wood. ]

[ 2 – I suspect this is more to do with my bodging than with WordPress, though the latter certainly contributes. ]

[ 3 – Not just corporate budgets, either. ]

[ 4 – They always come in waves, being as most of them are quarterlies or slower. ]

[ 5 – Still aching like hell all over, though. ]

[ 6 – With the exception of this morning, when I felt that given the option between getting out of bed or hibernating for the next few decades, the latter was hands-down winner. Psychology – it’s weird like that. ]

[ 7 – Oh, you can laugh if you like. But remember you have the bulbs to thank for me not killing you for doing so. 🙂 ]

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