Tag Archives: futurismic

An interlude for gratitude

I went to see an old friend for lunch today.

Jeremy Lyon is the guy who founded Futurismic, back in the day. He was also the first person (other than me) who was willing to publish my writing back in 2006, when he took me on as the site’s daily blogoid.

Six and a half years… it seems a lifetime ago, but at the same time, like just yesterday.

It felt like the perfect moment to finally meet Jeremy in person. We’ve not been in touch much since he handed over Futurismic to me; at the time, he’d just landed a gig in UI at Palm and had his second child, so he’s been all colours of busy. Long story short, he’s now involved with UI development for Android, posted over here in London for a year, so he invited me to lunch at Google’s L4 building near Victoria Station[1], and I got to thank him for setting me on what was, with hindsight, the long and winding path that got me to where I am right now.

So: thanks again, Jeremy, for taking a shot on a guy whose ambitions and ideas far outstripped his native talent at the time[2].

Like Jeremy, you may be wondering what’s happening with Futurismic. Right now? Nothing much. But I have plans. Plans, I tell you. The ‘zine shall rise again, phoenix-like, transformed and transcendent, like itself but much much moreso…

… just as soon as I can suss a way to fund it, or find a hidden three hours in the day that I was heretofore unaware of. :)

(But seriously, stuff’s gonna happen. Watch this space.)


1 – Thanks to the plague I picked up from being coughed all over on a train last week, I was unable to avail myself of the plentiful catering options, though I can inform you that I had a Granny Smith apple, and it was very nice.

2 – Before you accuse me of false modesty, have a trawl through the earliest posts on this very site. I learned in public, and am proud to have done so.

Friday Photo Blogging: second on the bill

This time next week, I’ll no doubt be sound-checking in preparation for this:

Second on the bill

Yup, Aeroplane Attack‘s first appearance at The Wedgewood Rooms, a former place of employment for three members of the band and the premier live music venue in Velcro City. And it’s a free gig on a Friday night – so if you’ve got no plans, head on down! Promises to be a night of goud loud tuneage, and I’m really looking forward to it… especially as I’ve borrowed a new echo box and am itching to deploy it over a large PA.

So, likely no FPB next week, much like last week (although my excuse last week was a train journey up to Manchester). It’s all go in my universe, as I do keep mentioning… so I’d best get on with it, eh?

Album of the week

Actually from last week, but easily good enough to carry over… it is, of course, The Eternal by Sonic Youth. If you’re a Sonic Youth fan already, you’ll be wanting to pick this up. If you’re not yet a fan, it’s accessible enough to be a good contemporary introduction to an utterly original band who’ve been gigging and recording almost as long as I’ve been alive. Go listen to ‘em.

Stuff

Yeah, look at me compressing a number of sections into one. Such is the manner of my life at the moment, and – during the scant seconds I get to sit and consider it – I’m quite enjoying it that way, thank you very much!

No review writing has been committed for a while, but I’ve been getting a decent amount of reading packed into the schedule; currently about a third of the way through China Mieville’s The City & The City, which is a good story whose premise is handled with subtlety, though I’m finding the narrative voice a bit odd at times – often enough, in fact, that I may shift to reading the published version rather than the ARC in case what I’m seeing is a pre-copyedit state.

Still plenty on my freelance plate, though the light is visible at the end of a few tunnels (even as another seems to stretch itself out further). Futurismic is rolling along nicely; we got linked to at MetaFilter the other day, and while it didn’t bring an avalanche of traffic I’m really chuffed to see us there, because I’ve been following the MeFi feed for almost as long as I’ve had an internet presence – and hence appearing there is a little like getting to have a drink in the Cheers bar would be for television fans of a certain age.

Wireless by Charles StrossWhat else has been happening? Well, adventures Northward, band practices and meetings (and plain old hang-outs), live shows (like the mighty Clutch), hunting down cardboard boxes so as to ship seventy-odd kilos (SRSLY) of unwanted books to a buyer… from the sublime to the mundane, it’s all go, basically.

So there’s just time to trumpet happily about the arrival of Charlie Stross‘s new short fiction collection, Wireless, which arrived in the mail this week (and will be shouldering its way up the TBR array in the days to come).

Lovely!

Now, I’ve got stuff to be doing, so I’ll bid you all a good weekend. Take care!

Friday Photo Blogging: stupid bloody England

I have the same love/hate relationship with the country I live in as I have with Velcro City itself. On a day like today, with clear blues skies and a gentle breeze, I’m pleased to be sat here calmly, typing to the sound of traffic and birdsong with a long weekend approaching me; how could one find fault with England this afternoon?

Well, sometimes the bad things are literally too big to ignore:
Beneath the skin of every 'patriot' lies a fascist

Vermin and shysters; the BNP, only with better tailors and their mouths stuffed with plums. British-grown plums, of course. Wankers.

“Why worry about them,” people tell me. “No one takes them seriously.” Well, plenty of people take these seriously:

Broad and factually unfounded statements! Buy stuff! Hate difference! There's always someone to blame!

Graaaaaaaarrrrrgggghh.

Sorry, just needed to vent; it’s a common response to having left the building during the daytime. We now return you to our scheduled programmes.


Album of the week

One for the serious metal-heads this week: Daath are supposedly into Kabballah (the Hebrew mystical malarkey, rather than the wackadoo cult based upon it from which Madonna buys blessed mineral water) and all sorts of other stuff, but exactly how that affects their music I have no idea. Suffice to say that their new album The Concealers is that rarest of birds – a consistently powerful and heavy modern metal album with no filler and no gimmick-of-the-day. Go ahead, give your neck a workout.

Writing about books

The This is Not a Game review is half-written, as I managed to bash out one and a half thousand words on the train to London on Wednesday night. This is progress, not to mention the worst part of the process completed; now I just need to edit it up, supplement with quotes and digressions, polish and send. So, that’s an afternoon of the coming weekend taken care of…

Futurismic

Hey hey hey – it’s the first of May! Which is something to celebrate even if you disregard revitalised pagan festivals and political holidays spawned by a dying metanarrative, because it means there’s new fiction at Futurismic. This month I got to publish someone who lives little more than a stone’s throw away from me by comparison to our Stateside contributors; Stephen Gaskell’s “Under an Arctic Sky” is a geopolitical action-escape story done right, and you should go read it before leaving a comment to say what you thought of it. G’waaaaan.

PS Publishing

So, as most of you who’ll be interested will already know, I was up in the Big Smoke on Wednesday night, watching Ian R MacLeod take the 2009 Arthur C Clarke Award for Song of Time, a book published by PS Publishing, for whom I am contractor-publicist. It was quite a moment, and even more so for Pete and Nicky (and Ian, obviously) than myself. It’s a very prestigious title for a small press like PS to accrue, and for it to happen in the company’s tenth year of business seems fitting, somehow.

I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to work with people who care deeply about what they do. Seeing Pete’s face as the winner was read out has pretty much made my month. :)

Freelance

Work, work, work… there’s been a lot of catch-up this week as I recover from the setbacks of the beginning of April, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I think. My server is up and running, and I’ve pretty much sussed the essential basics of running the thing, so now I can start using it properly as both a hosting and development environment. Some minor projects and tasks have been cleared off; some larger ones have mutated (mostly for the better), and a few more are looming on the horizon like braking supertankers. LIVING THE DREAM, YO.

[high-grade-geekery]I’ve finally abandoned all hope of learning to do anything with Drupal before the next ice age happens (if even that soon), and am defecting my loyalties to MODx, as recommended by good buddy Adam at Mallmus Media. In a nutshell, MODx looks to be a CMS that does everything all the others can do, but actually makes it possible for you to find all of the relevant options in one place without referring to a degree in database architectural philosophy that you don’t have. Plus it has a moderately revolutionary approach to theming and templates that fits much better with my personal design methodologies for larger projects… or, in other words, it makes more intuitive sense to me than the others I’ve tried before, and I think I’m going to enjoy development jobs much more as a result. Yay![/high-grade-geekery]

Aeroplane Attack

People tell us that our first gig went pretty well, despite some sound issues. The problem in a nutshell: the girl running the sound desk has never encountered a band who request that they not bother mic’ing up the amplifiers and simply run the kick, snare and vocals through the PA. End result: we didn’t sound quite right, but we still put in a decent showing and had a lot of fun. In case you were wondering how we sound, well, here’s a video recorded on a mobile phone. Horrible sound quality, but you’ll get an idea of where we’re coming from (and how loud we play); the tune is called “Song for Joseph”.

See? We don’t use the Vulcan bomber as our logo for nothing. :)

The next show is Monday 11th, and the sound guy will be someone we know a little better, so those debut issues should be sorted. We’re really looking forward to it; if you’re in the area, come along. I have tickets, if you’d like to buy one at the super-cheap advance rate of £2…

Books and magazines seen

No time for sourcing images today, but there’s a fresh hardback copy of China Mieville‘s The City & The City sat on my sofa alongside a trade paperback of Sean Williams‘ latest Astropolis novel, The Grand Conjunction.

A more unusual score comes in the form of How to Build Your Own Spaceship, a pop-sci book by Piers Bizony about “the science of personal space travel”, which the publisher was nice enough to send me after I emailed them about it[1]. Nice Jetsons vibe to the cover art:

How to Build Your Own Spaceship by Piers BizonyLovely. Now all I need is the time to read it…

Coda

Well, there you have it – it’s been a busy few weeks, but then I always say that, don’t I? But hey, the weekend’s here, and that’s got to be a good thing. I think I’ll wrap this up, finish the Futurismic free fiction round-up and spend a few well-earned hours sat on my arse with my nose in a book… I hope you find something nice to do as well. Laters!


[ 1 – And many thanks to the man DT for the tip-off on that one, too. ]

Friday Photo Blogging: commerce recolonising the death-strip

A cheery title, no? The Wall’s destruction brought as many contradictions to Berlin as it removed, if not more, and they grow in sharpness over time. This is one of the last remaining sections of the “death-strip” that was caught between the two layers of the wall, in this particular case just next to the River Spree, a few minutes walk from the Ostbahnhof:

Graffiti on the "death strip"

This area is best known as “The East Side Gallery“. The side of the wall facing the road (to the left of this shot) was painted by many famous graffiti and mural artists just after the Wall fell; their art is now scabbed over by the felt-tip scribblings of tourists. Here in the former death-strip, however, the other side of the wall is where the more hardcore painters would come to work without the legitimacy that the post-Wende hysteria leant to the Gallery.

Looking in the opposite direction to this shot, you would now see tent-town beach-bars bristling with brand names. Then, further still, the crowning irony: a section of the Wall that has been fenced off completely from public access, pending the arrival of more entertainment and retail venues. This is prime land for development, and commerce will have its way, despite the (arguably justifiable) resentment of those with long enough memories. Selah.


Writing about music

This week has been a bit of a screwed one for The Dreaded Press, largely due to me dropping a few balls in favour of other priorities. But that’s just the way I’m currently doing things; businesses with incomes come first, which puts TDP way down the list.

Album of the week

Still got some writing done though, and without any doubt the greatest pleasure was derived from reviewing Tail Swallower And Dove by These Arms Are Snakes. Fantastic and nigh-unclassifiable heavy music with rich inscrutable symbolism and brooding malice… something to watch stock tickers to.

Writing about books

To my shame, I’ve made no inroads over the last week on the reviews I have waiting to be written. That said, it’s probably be better to be in a position where I have four books that I’ve finished and just need to write about rather than four books waiting to be read and clamouring for a review as well. Silver linings, silver linings.

Freelance

Ah, now this is where all this week’s effort and energy has gone! Should have a new author site to launch early next week, and have been doing some design preliminaries on a new project that promises to be a lot more visually ambitious (and hence tricky and lengthy) than anything I’ve done as of yet. But hey, guy’s gotta raise his game, right? It’s a challenge, and I’m feeling confident about nailing it, too.

Futurismic

Nothing out of the ordinary to report at Futurismic, except an exceptionally persistent spammer who seems to bear a rather nasty grudge against a certain New-Yorican singer-songstress. The weird and omnidirectional obsessions these people possess never cease to amaze and appal[1].

Books and magazines seen

It’s been another week of high volume and low interest on the books front, with yet more care packages from both Orbit and Tor/Macmillan packed full of stuff that drew nothing more than a resounding “meh”[2].

But there’s one title that does look quite appealing, namely Lou AndersFast Forward 2 anthology from Pyr, which as some interesting contributors on its contents page as well as a garish but undeniably eye-catching Picacio cover:

Fast Forward 2 anthology - ed. Lou Anders

Another brick for the to-be-read wall. Life’s such a chore, isn’t it?

Coda

Well, that was the first no-gig week in what feels like months[3]. And as them what follows me on Twitter will already know, this week I got my lazy arse out of the house and down to the swimming pool – twice! The end results are a much clearer knowledge of just how horrifically unfit I’ve become[4], and calf muscles that feel like someone’s clamped them onto my legs with an immense bulldog clip. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

And the weekend starts right here; most of it will involve the ceaseless battering of CSS and PHP into this very keyboard, but there’s band practice to look forward to on Sunday as well as beers with friends this evening. And as I’ve been a good boy this week – staying in in the evenings, eating cheaply, getting work done and exercising, no less – I’m going to indulge in The Friday Curry. Biweekly is better than weekly, after all… :)

So have a good weekend, and do yourselves a favour – don’t watch the news, because worrying won’t make any difference. Auf weidersehn!


[ 1 – Although, now I come to think about it, they’re amazing simply by merit of being as banal, bigoted and stupid as the ones you encounter in real life. Go figure. ]

[ 2 – Especially since the postman got me out of bed half an hour early for them both this morning. Grumble grumble. ]

[ 3 – Looking at my calendar, I think it actually is months. Blimey. ]

[ 4 – When I was nine or thereabouts, I could swim for literally hours at a time – if you lived in an ex-pat compound in Saudi Arabia, there was little else to do for kids. Currently, twenty lengths of a definitely-not-Olympic-size pool has me stiff-limbed and breathing like a nylon fetishist at an Ann Summers evening. ]

New fiction at Futurismic: The Right People by Adam Rakunas

So as usual, I’m balls-to-the-wall busy, but not so busy I can’t point out that we’ve got an awesome new story up at Futurismic called “The Right People”.

It’s apparently Adam Rakunas‘ first fiction sale, but if he can write this sort of gonzo stuff consistently I don’t think it’s going to be his last. I’m really chuffed we’re running it, and also pretty chuffed that we got a plug for it over at BoingBoing. w00t – happy Wednesday! :D

Other news – I’ve cropped up in yet another SF Signal Mind Meld, which gave me the opportunity to trot out my theories on the inherent fuzziness of subgenre boundaries. As usual, other people have more rational and interesting replies on offer, so don’t let mine put you off. :)