Tag Archives: Eastercon

Becalmed in the storm’s eye

It’s been a busy couple of months. I hope regular readers will forgive this recap of the past two months or so, which is as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s; I transcribe it here in what I suspect is the hope that I’ll be able to convince myself it all actually happened.

The corollary of getting my contract extended mid-March was that a lot of theretofore speculative deadlines became concrete things, which made for a whole lot of heads-down keyboard-mashing; this was complicated somewhat by my first encounter with true physical burn-out, which, it turns out, feels a lot like being in the lingering run-down phase of a nasty cold for something close to six weeks. Still, it’s good to know your limits, and to have a precedent for the signs that you’re about to hit them.

Chronology is a suitable framework, so: My last post here followed directly after Weird Shi(f)t Con UK, a gathering of some of the more peripatetic irregulars of the Institute for Atemporal Studies and allied forces which took place in in the endearingly cobwebbed decay of Limehouse Town Hall (whose chilliness may well have contributed toward the aforementioned burn-out); many profound matters were discussed, and the post-it notes were plentiful.

London: Weird Shit Con

Afterwards we went to Wilton’s Music Hall, which was full of people attending a stage version of The Great Gatsby; not perhaps an ideal aftervenue given the circumstances, but apropos in an atemporal kind of way. (Wilton’s is ace, though; recommended to all and sundry as one of LDN’s most characterful places to hang out, especially on nights when there’s no show on.)

That Sunday I went to see the legendary Damo Suzuki perform with a Sheffield noise/drone/kraut band in the cellar bar beneath a former picture-house. (Stuffed-animal venues are a definite theme of my life these days.)

Monday following was the final internal meeting for one of the projects I’ve been working on with the PWG; the website for the project is currently offline (nothing to do with me, I might add), but should hold various documents and presentations for public edification. One of the larger papers to come out of the All-in-One project with my name in the author list is now in press at the journal Futures, by the way; drop me a line if you’d like a copy but don’t have institutional access to Elsevi*r’s rentier knowledge-silo.

After the dissemination bash, it was back to Sheffield to see Gojira and Ghost at the Academy. Gojira were good enough, if a little lost on a too-large stage; Ghost were laughably bad, all (obvious and done-to-death) gimmick and no substance. Utterly at a loss to understand why they’re so popular right now. Kids these days.

March 21st saw me pop over the Pennines for the first day of the FutureEverthing conference in Manchester; a chance to catch up on interesting ideas in digital urbanism, reassert my believe that marketing is the only profession with a higher shysters-per-capita than futurism, and hang out with Justin Pickard and Scott Smith, co-conspirators in contraPanglossian gonzo foresight. (Usman Haque dropped Borgesian bombs, which made me want to marry him.) Regrettably, the physical symptoms of burn-out were digging in hard by this point, and I skipped the next day of the conference due to exhaustion and the promise of snow. (Productivity took a serious nosedive around about his point of the proceedings.)

Week after that I fielded a call from a journalist for the Boston Globe; apparently she couldn’t find anyone else willing to argue against the transhumanist narrative that animal uplift is obligatory. So I did.

That weekend, thinking I was over the worst of the exhaustion, I went over to Bradford for the Saturday of EightSquaredCon, the 2013 Eastercon. It was a decent day — what I can remember of it, anyway. I was drafted onto a panel within twenty minutes of arriving; spent some time chatting to various people, but probably making little sense, including an addled attempt to explain to Cory Doctorow what I’d been up to recently (sorry, Cory; I really shouldn’t have been out of bed at that point). My booked train home was cancelled, which shunted me onto a slower and longer route, with the last leg an all-stations stopping service on an old diesel train with no heating or window seals.

I expect that frigid transit contributed to rebooting the exhaustion, which hit me like Chicxulub in the days to follow, and sent me into a serious emotional slump on the side; the black dog bites hardest when my immune system is low, but that’s a knowledge I’m slowly internalising — or so I hope, at any rate. The week following was an agony blended from anxiety over a massive workload and the utter inability to give more than three hours of coherent attention a day to anything at all. Somehow I still managed to go to Lincoln on the Friday and give a paper at the New Genre Army conference in celebration of Edam Rarebits…

… or rather, I gave a methodological manifesto for an as-yet incomplete prototype of the genre of Cut-up Critique; the moral of this story is that if one decides to try trolling the academy, one should be prepared to have one’s bluff called. Luckily for me, the general tone of the day — unsurprisingly, given its object — was one of irreverence blended with seriousness, and I got away with it. (It’s my native medium, after all.) Whether I got away with another cold train-ride home is an open question, however. Maybe my mum’s right, and I just need to buy a new coat.

I believe there was video taken of the papers at New Genre Army, but I haven’t seen them yet, and there’s no sign of them on YouBoob. I’ve been meaning to post the script and slides of my paper here, but… yeah. *adds another thing to the to-do list*

Then followed a week of frantic paper-writing, as deadlines were looming like limits to growth. The week after that, at the final dissemination event for All-in-One, I got to try explaining design fiction to infrastructure engineers and risk analysts for the first time, which involved first explaining it a bit more thoroughly to myself; the former was slightly more successful than the former. (Attempts toward codifying a theory of design fiction in the infrastructural context are ongoing; watch this space.)

I then went to Darlington to talk to a roomful of young water industry professionals about the postmodern crisis of infrastructure management; Borges, Latour, scientific hyperreality, the model is not the system, path dependency and progressive incrementalism, integral futures, that sort of thing. Got a much more positive reception than I’d hoped for, actually, but the other presentations were pretty dry, so I may have benefitted from delivering a shake-up at the end of the day; selah.

Day after Darlington was the annual PWG conference, which was more of a social cohesion operation than a proper conference; got to find out what else goes on in the further, more soc-sci orientated corners of the group, which is valuable knowledge to a generalist/synthesist like yours truly. We went for a nice meal afterwards. Lovely.

The last few weeks have been a little easier, although there were still a fair amount of deskjockey targets to be met, including editing a collaborative paper which has been accepted by (but is not yet in press at) Energy, and writing another paper on choice architecture, social media and gamification as applied to water use behaviour (which has just entered the reviewing process). Also wrote one of my increasingly editorial-esque book reviews for ARC (Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future?, as yet not posted), and a deeply tangential rant about some halfway-passable psyche-rock album that the Demon Pigeon lads threw at me.

This Wednesday just gone, I got to talk as part of a panel at the WriteTheFuture conference, which was an excellent bolt-on gig connected to the Clarke Award. Not many folk at this stage of their careers can say they’ve spoken on stage at the Royal Society. What was I speaking about? These tweets capture the gist of it:

 

There’s a Storify of the whole day, courtesy the tireless (and triumphant) Tom Hunter. As for the Clarke itself, it went to Chris Beckett for Dark Eden; I don’t care much for awards as a reader and a critic, but it’s always nice to see them go to an author whose work you admire, especially when you consider them a friend as well. For the same reasons, I’d have been happy to see it go to Ken MacLeod, as well. Having read none of the shortlisted titles, however, that’s as far as my opinionating goes.

Friday just gone I went to see Owen Hatherley talk about Pulp, Sheffield and failed urbanism. It was interesting stuff, and naturally I bought the book (Uncommon) on which it was based (as it promises to provide another thematic spoke for the vague “secret history of the 1990s” novel idea I’m kicking around in spare moments), but — like many excellent writers of non-fiction — Hatherley’s not at his best behind a podium. To be fair, he may have been more than a little intimidated by the audience, which had to be close to 300 strong. Glad I went, though.

And now, here am eye, becalmed in the I of the storm, collecting my thoughts and task-lists before the madness starts up again in a new form, mutatis mutandis (and with, dare I say it, my earthly husk finally recovered from the burn-out). This Thursday coming I’m off to Brighton to talk conferences, drone art, infrastructure fiction and gonzo futurism with assorted colleagues, old and new, and around this time next week I’ll be heading off toward Heathrow, so as to catch an early Monday plane to Colombia via Madrid. In fair Medellin, I’m honoured to be an invited guest of Hernán and Vivi for Fractal’13, a design fiction conference with a difference (in that the audience does the fictioning, and the guests merely facilitate said fictioning). In effect, I think this is the closest thing I’m going to get to a holiday this year, and so I’m intending to enjoy it to the fullest.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing Medellin. I’m very much not looking forward to two long transits through the geopolitical unspaces of airport security theatre, but you gotta take the rough with the smooth, I suppose. If nothing else, I should take it as an opportunity to reread Ursula LeGuin’s Changing Planes

Having unlocked my phone and demothballed my Flickr account, I’m planning to share my adventures in Medellin here at VCTB, and indeed to start sharing interesting in general from time to time. Chairman Bruce may claim (with justification) that blogging is dead, but even he’s got a Tumblr these days; having always had my own domain, I can’t see the point of tumblring on a service that claims the results as their own when my own site can do just the same job with me keeping control*. So it lacks the social features of Tumblr, sure; I’m increasingly unconvinced that’s a drawback and not a bonus. Besides, everything that happens here gets tweeted. Selah.

So, yeah; that’s what I’ve been up to. Who knows what’ll happen next, eh?


[ * – I still maintain that a social network with Twitter-, Tumblr- and Facebork-like characteristics could be built as a plug-in based interstitial peer-to-peer protocol for individual CMS-based websites; all the sharing and social, none of the centralised data collection and huckster leverage advertising attempts. Problem being that, by definition, such a service would be impossible to monetise externally, meaning it’d only get done by a team of FOSS nerds with a lot of time on their hands and no eye toward a lucrative IPO. So not something to hold your breath for at present, I’d guess. ]

Descending Olympus

So, that was Eastercon. My [stops to count old badges on lanyard] fifth, and my favourite so far. Well-organised, good fun; a great balance of the familiar and the new; old friends and fresh acquaintances…

… and some dramatic props. [Thanks to Chad Dixon for the photo.]

Iron Throne

I often compare Eastercon to my experiences of Glastonbury back in my twenties: it costs me a fortune, I overindulge in my usual vices, I see less than a third of the stuff I vaguely planned to see, but yet I roll away with a warm glow that comes from sharing a highly specific chunk of space-time with a community of people who share one of the greatest passions of my life, inspired to do new things.

Granted, I’ve never left Eastercon coated in mud, wrapped in a space blanket and trying to chew my own left ear, so the analogy isn’t perfect. I’m pretty sure I never came back from Glasto carrying approximately a third of my own bodyweight in books, either. But hey, I need the exercise… and my Bruce Sterling collection draws nearer to Stage One completion[1].

Eastercon book acquisitions

Olympus was not utterly devoid of controversy and upset, however, and I find myself wanting to talk about that. After the initial heat-of-the-moment furore, what would really have helped would have been a good solid apology and admission of error from the primary source, but… well, this ain’t one.

So, look: you can watch what actually happened right here, and whatever side you take I think that’s gotta be the absolute entry level for having an opinion on this, unless you were actually at the BSFA Awards ceremony. And here’s a record of the Twitter backchannel as it happened.

I was in the audience. Things went from cringeworthy to worse; it was the sort of thing the “trainwreck” metaphor was made for. I was sat a few seats from Lavie Tidhar at the time. That was a very uncomfortable moment for me, as a straight white male British person who just happens to be Lavie’s friend. I can’t imagine how he felt… especially given that early in the day an audience member from the Non-Anglophone SF panel had breezed up to inform him that, despite English being Lavie’s second language, he spoke it very well indeed. Condescending, much?

The common factor here is that both cases of offence were not intended to offend – quite the opposite, in fact. But that doesn’t negate the offence.

The sad thing about this, for me at least, is that Olympus felt very diverse and inclusive with respect to its roster of guests, panel topics and panel composition; a real step forward, even within the short timeframe of my own involvement with fandom. The con committee and the BSFA worked damned hard to make that happen, and as much as I believe it’s important that the failures are acknowledged, I think the good stuff needs to be remembered, too; the sheer scale of effort and passion needed to make these things happen is staggering, and to overlook that energy and commitment would be grossly unfair, no matter what may have gone wrong along the way. So, for the record, let me congratulate the BSFA and the Olypus con committee, the gophers and techs and the folk behind the scenes: I wouldn’t even know where to start, and there was oodles of great stuff over the weekend for which praise is rightly due. There’s a tendency for the baby to go the same way as the bathwater in these situations, and in terms of the grand project – making fandom a space where everyone can feel safe, valued and included, regardless of gender, nationality, skin colour, sexuality or anything else – I feel that it would help to acknowledge that, as a community, we’re “working on our shit”, as the saying goes.

But that’s my privilege speaking, and I know it. It’s easy for me to sit here and hand-wring, rehearse weak or global versions of a The Tone Argument, and recruit for the Cult Of Nice. I’m a white able-bodied just-about-heterosexual cis-male British person, and as such it’s incredibly rare that anyone gets a platform to give my culture a proper kicking, deserved or otherwise. (And hell knows it’s deserved more often than not.)

It’s never pleasurable to have worked damned hard on something, only to have someone pull out the flaws and wave them in your face. But in the context of, say, writing fiction and subbing it to editors for publication, it’s widely acknowledged that that’s how you get better. Yeah, it hurts. Emotional growth, at least in my experience, always does. If the choice is pain or stasis, though, then pain it has to be.

One final thing: I am not holding myself up as an exemplar, here. I owe what personal politicisation I’ve achieved over the last decade to fandom – to debates and discussions (yes, and slapfights) just like this one. Hell knows that I’ve said countless dumb or offensive things over the years, secure and comfortable in my ignorance and privilege, and my unwarranted opinion of myself as a pretty progressive liberal kinda guy, thankyouverymuch. You could probably trawl through the archives right here at VCTB and find enough material to throw me right into the same sin-bin as Meaney, in fact, if not even a deeper one with sharper spikes. Perhaps you could even say that my invisibility was an added layer of privilege; it’s easy to get away with being thoughtless when thoughtlessness is ubiquitous, just one more voice in the crowd.

It is not for me to stand in judgement atop the mountain of the gods.

But this is my community, too, so nor is it for me to ignore or dismiss the hurt I see expressed by others less privileged than I, especially when some of them are people I count as good friends… and there’s a significant amount of it floating around on the intertubes today. (If you’ve not seen any, then perhaps it’s time for you to go look for it.)

I honestly believe the vast majority of us want fandom to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone, even if we aren’t quite as far along with that project as we’d like to think we are. So if I could have one wish, it’s that we keep to the inclusive spirit with which Olympus was put together and executed, and listen to those who are telling us that the story we tell each other (and ourselves) about our community has flaws that still need editing out.

Redrafting sucks. But it’s the only way to make the story better.


[ 1 – Stage One completion involves acquiring one copy of all extant titles, in or out of print; Stage Two will involve trading up all titles to the best editions available, preferably signed hardback firsts. I did a lot of collecting of various things as a kid, and nowadays I realise the best way to get lasting value from assembling a collection is to delimit the set and pick a completion goal with very low likelihood; non-set-limited collections soon lose their appeal for me (because how will you ever know when you’re done?), and completion means you have to find a new thing to collect. Think of it as a sort of vice management strategy; accept the inevitability of the vice, then steer it as safely and cheaply as possible into a cul-de-sac that you think you could live in for a good long time.

Yes, this is how I think about my hobbies. No, I don’t know why. It works for me. Selah. ]

Moveable feast

So, Easter rolls around once more.

In recent years, Easter has become the pivot point of my annual circuit around the sun; Eastercon has a little to do with that, as does the standard 12-month rented housing contract. It’s probably amplified by the fact that I don’t celebrate Xmas or my birthday, too. Which isn’t to say I celebrate Easter, as such; I just tend to find myself looking around – in varying states of wonder and confusion – at the state of my life at this time of year.

Last Easter, for instance, I was making the move back to Velcro City from Stockport. The Easter before… well, we won’t rake over that again, though I made it to Eastercon that year, which probably went a fair way to helping me avoid some sort of full-scale nervous breakdown. (Not something Eastercon is regularly accused of, I’m willing to bet.)

So, what do I see from this year’s fulcrum? Looking backwards, I can make out the first half of my Masters: six hectic months of hard but thrilling work, running in parallel with me learning the ropes of my Research Assistant post. Before that, a long and lazy spring’n’summer in Velcro City, which took me back to its fractious bosom without so much as a “where you been, brah?” It was good, and just what I needed – a proper reboot, a return to familiarity and comfort after my long sabbatical on the banks of the Styx.

But I also feel like it cured me of something. By going back, I was able to leave again on my own terms, and for the right reasons. Stockport was grim because it felt like penance for my naivete and failure, and P-Town came to represent a normalisation point, a load-from-saved-game-and-start-again. I like to think I’m blitzing the level this time through, if only by comparison to last time.

Looking ahead (and ignoring, for the sake of convenience, the hand-in date for my spring semester assignments the week after next), it’s five months of dissertation, plus more infrastructure research for my patient employers at the Pennine Water Group. Come September or so, once I’ve handed my dissertation in, it’ll be time to move out of London. Where will I go? I’m not sure yet, to be honest, but I’ll need to start thinking about it sooner rather than later.

I also need to think about what comes next. If I do well enough in my Masters (and I have some hope that I might), then I might well apply to do a PhD. But in what, and with whom, and where? I have some ideas, but it’s all very nebulous at this point. I need to learn more about the upper echelons of academia before trying to make those decisions, I suspect. And I need to finish these assignments.

But first, it’s Eastercon – a long weekend of hanging out with friends, talking about books and writing, and boozy fun-times.

After that? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.

Friday Photo Blogging: Mono

An appropriate title for today, in some respects; after a few weeks of very passable sunny (though brisk) weather, Velcro City is once again drowsing beneath a sky the same dull grey as pre-dotcom computer hardware, the pavements slick with a noncommittal rain that suggests even the elements can’t be bothered to do anything properly today – bank holiday Friday, innit, mush?

Appropriate or not, it seems I never FPB’d any of the shots from the Mono show[1] I caught the other week, so here you go:

Mono

Great band (as suggested by the liberal deployment of Fender Jazzmaster guitars, among other things). Good music for cold dismal weather, too.

Of course, if I was at Eastercon with the great and the good (and the weird) of British science fiction, I wouldn’t give a monkey’s about the weather. But I’m not, so I do. Selah.


About that service interruption

So, yeah, last week. To cut a long story short: my girlfriend finished with me. She had some justification for being upset with me; whether her response was proportional to the issue in question given the prevailing circumstances of her life is something only she can judge. I’m gutted, but I’m getting on with stuff. Life’s too bloody busy to sit around and mope; I neither need nor deserve pity.

That’s about it.

Album of the week

Suitably enough, the best album I’ve heard in the last few weeks has been Mono‘s Hymn To the Immortal Wind. Go buy it.

Writing about books

In a shock turn of events, I’m well behind on review writing – I need to get finished on Reading Science Fiction (eds. James Gunn et al), but that should be in some respects less challenging than a fiction review, given that it’s supposed to be criticism of criticism. Then again, I may prove to be fooling myself there. We’ll see.

I still haven’t reviewed Cyberabad Days, either, which is second on the priority stack. And last night I finished reading Chris Beckett‘s Marcher, so I need to do a reading journal entry for that as well. If you want to read a thorough review of Marcher by someone better qualified, Niall’s Strange Horizons piece is the one you need.

Futurismic

It’s business as usual at the world’s foremost near-future science fiction webzine… at least as far as content rolling out of the door is concerned, anyway. I have a big list of emails that need to be sent regarding new fiction purchases for the coming months, and it’s high time I got them done.

In other news, I’m in the process of roping in a new columnist to the team, which looks like it may work out pretty well. It’ll be good to have another new voice on board. Now, have you read Tim Pratt‘s story for this month yet? No? Well, get to it – it’s short but fun.

Freelance

It’s all go in on the business side of life at the moment, largely thanks to me dropping the metaphorical balls of productivity last week and scrabbling to get them airborne again. This is the major upside of not being at Eastercon, namely having a whole long weekend to get myself back up to speed (and to schedule) with a bunch of different projects and tasks. Which should, in turn, distract me from thinking about how much I’d rather be at Eastercon.[2]

Plenty of other interesting stuff on the horizon, too. Myself and Adam Wintle of Mallmus Media are putting together a two-prong pitch for a fairly prestigious local project, which will be a lot of fun to do if we land it. We’ve also been swapping experiences with different CMS packages and hosting options, and I’m now pretty much convinced that it’s time to rent myself a proper VPS or dedicated server and stop pissing around with huckster hosting companies. Which means all I have to do is choose a good vendor and learn how to do command line sysadmin tasks… anyone got any Modafinil?

But hey, I’m busy, and there’s work in the inbox. That’s something to be grateful for.

Aeroplane Attack

So, it’s our first gig in just over a fortnight, which is pretty cool. We’re pretty confident that we’ve got our set sorted and rehearsed; now all there is to worry about are the logistical challenges of crowbarring a five-piece band who have four half-stack amps and a drum kit between them into the limited space available in the actual venue… well, that and selling more tickets, of course.

But hey, you can help with the latter by buying one yourself over the magical tubes of the intermuhwebs! Three quid for three bands, one of which is a frighteningly loud reincarnation of the fuzzy melodics of nineties grunge, shoegazer and alt-rock? That’s a bargain right there, so buy one right now.

Go on.

Books and magazines seen

No fresh books in the last few weeks (or rather “no books in which I’m interested and haven’t yet already seen a different edition or binding of”), but the turn of the season means that the quarterly poetry mags are starting to arrive. So far we’ve had Obsessed With Pipework and the newly redesigned Iota… if the latter’s content has improved as much as its outer appearance, it’s going to be a real contender.

Iota poetry magazine #83-84

Coda

So, not the most gripping of FPBs, but what can I say – that’s just the way it works out sometimes, y’know? Anyway, you’re probably either at Eastercon or doing something else to enjoy the long weekend, and I’ve got stuff to do, so I’ll play the hand of mercy and shut the hell up. Have fun doing whatever it is you’re doing, and take care of yourselves. Hasta luego.


[ 1 – Like many venues nowadays, Digital uses those horrible light cans that have LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs. Great for the environment (and cheaper in the long run), but they make getting a decent shot of a live band with a cheap camera a virtual impossibility. Meh. Mono look good a bit blurred, anyhow. ]

[ 2 – Yeah, like that’s gonna work. ]

Friday Plant Blogging: happy cactus

We return to the original meaning of FPB because hey, look – one of my cacti has started to flower!

HappyCactus 006

Looks like it’s the only one that will do so this year (my Christmas cacti haven’t even hinted at a late budding, worse luck), but one is better than none.

The weird bit is that this particular cactus is the one that has suffered the most from being knocked over and generally battered by bad circumstance, and came to me after having been sat in a Fratton garden for an entire British winter … the bad-boy just keeps on ticking. Respect, innit?

A bonus photo for those of you of the opinion that plants aren’t a sufficiently manly subject (even spiny phallic plants): here’s my growing collection of sound-mangling boxes through which I run my guitar.

Effects pedal pr0n - show us yer signal chain!

I think the collection should cease growing for now, because the overdraft has suffered terribly. That said, I still need a delay pedal … hmmm.


Eastercon

So, if you’re wondering “why no pictures from Eastercon?”, the answer is simple – I just didn’t take any. I was far too busy watching or appearing on panels and hanging out with great people, and I’m afraid I don’t feel a jot guilty*.

Even listing just the highlights of the weekend would take a considerable amount of time, but it would be remiss to not mention:

  • celebrating The Friday Curry with the Third Row Fandom crew, plus Shaun C Green and Paul “twice Hugo nominee for a Doctor Who script” Cornell
  • China Mieville‘s staggeringly good Guest of Honour speech
  • Neil Gaiman‘s relentless aura of nice-blokeness
  • the Friday Flash Fiction workshop, and meeting all my fellow Fictioneers
  • the embarrassing yet hilarious Sex & The Singularity panel
  • Ian Sales falling off a chair
  • Ian Watson telling me a story about kidney stones that will stay with me for life
  • drinking, talking and getting lost in hallucinogenically similar corridors

Great stuff – many thanks to everyone who helped make it such a great event, both those I met and those I didn’t.

Writing about music

The Dreaded Press rolls on, with a bit of a gap for the bank holiday weekend. No live reviews or interviews lately, though I’m off to do one of each with Brit rockers Brigade this very evening.

The inward flow of albums has seemingly levelled out at a pace I can stay on top of without too much panic, and I’m gradually integrating TDP tasks into my daily regime.

I was very chuffed to find I got a link-back from Wikipedia for my review of the spectacular album Board Up The House by Genghis Tron – Wikipedia links give great SEO justice, and they’re like gold dust in the early stages of a site’s life.

Hopefully that’ll nudge me up a PageRank next time the updates go through. 🙂

Writing about books

As I explained at great length to a few people at Eastercon, the final phases of Book Of The New Sun became progressively more infuriating to read.

The biblical mirroring is a lot easier to stomach in the earlier stages, but the fourth book cranks the proselytising up to eleven without the benefit of the story moving well to keep it interesting.

Still not completely finished, but once I’m done I’ll not run short of things to say in the review, that’s for certain.

Meanwhile, roaring my way through the Solaris Book of New Science Fiction Vol. 2, which isn’t a bad selection at all, from my perspective.

For those who’ve read it already, I can say that I’m about two thirds through, and my favourite piece (as well as the one that has stuck with me constantly since reading it) is the shortest one.

The book needs to be finished and reviewed with the pending batch of print reviews for Interzone – by the end of this week, in other words.

I loves me a good deadline, I does. 🙂

Futurismic

I’ve got the next new piece of fiction for Futurismic in hand, ready to be polished and unleashed next week. I’ve also got a second non-fiction piece ready to roll, a one-shot guest column in the pipeline and a potential new columnist in the offing as well; all great news there.

What’s not so great is that it’s high time I started going through the old posts that were created on the previous CMS and adding tags to them. One of those “a little bit every day” jobs, I guess – you have to take the rough with the smooth in this publishing business, y’know.

Other freelance type stuff

Waiting on some details and confirmations, but there could be some great news in the pipeline in this respect. Watch this space.

Books and magazines seen

Well that’s it, I’m officially baffled. April’s F&SF has arrived, after I’ve ignored any number of renewal slips.

I think maybe their database has me down as a life subscriber or something, becasue I’m positive my sub must be over by now. Still, free fiction isn’t something to complain about. *shrug*

Nice apocalyptic cover, BTW:

Fantasy and Science Fiction April 2008 cover

No books have come in the post, but it would be churlish not to mention the titles I picked up at Eastercon**. I came away with:

Appleseed by John Clute

ILLUMINATIONS

Still pig-in-mud happy about the Friday Flash anthology. My mother’s copy arrived by post at her house yesterday, so she phoned me and squee’d a bit, which was a lovely moment.

I still have hard-copy versions available and will gladly sign them for purchasers; don’t forget you can get the PDF version for a donation of your choice at the Odd Two Out website. I can’t sign those, though, and they’re just not as totemic … 🙂

Coda

Well, that’s more than enough blather to make up for a missing week, I think. And anyway, I’d best get on – I need to grab and eat The Friday Curry (regrettably minus the Third Row gang and other fandom types this time) before trundling off to The Pyramids to do this interview.

And so with little extra ceremony I shall bid you all a good weekend – hasta luego, amigos.


[ * The absence of last week’s FPB should make it plain that I didn’t make much use of the laptop either. As it happens, I’m going to sell the thing and swap it for an Asus Eee, so if you’re in the market for a laptop with a decent spec and one careful owner, give me a shout. ]

[ ** I’m actually rather proud of my restraint – as anyone who’s been can attest, the Dealer’s Room at a con is like a finely tuned machine for extracting money from sf/f fans. ]