Tag Archives: picture

Friday Photo Blogging: the meta-metaverse, and piercings

OK, so this opener isn’t strictly a photo, but it’s my blog, and I can break the rules any time I want to …

Cyberpunk Lit 101

Cyberpunk Lit class in the metaverse

That’s my alter-ego, Isambard Portsmouth (the scruffy bugger in the, er, cowboy hat), sitting in on a literature discussion class taking place in Second Life. The work being discussed was Neal Stephenson’s seminal Snow Crash … so we were stood in the metaverse talking about the text in which the concept of the metaverse was arguably first laid out. That appeals to my warped taste in philosophy; your mileage may vary.

It was an interesting discussion for one major reason; the kids on the course were US college age, so 18 or thereabouts. Which means that Snow Crash, or at least the bits that deal with technological change, doesn’t really shock them at all. The metaverse is just there, y’know? What’s the big fuss about?

Still, there was some interesting chat about burbclaves being a new way of couching sf’s traditional obsession with the (encounter with) / (fear of) the “other”, or the “alien”. And it’s interesting to see SL being used as a teaching platform, which I’m reliably informed is a real growth industry at the moment. More research required, methinks.

Self-mutilation for fun and fashion

The following is a special request from a reader who shall remain nameless. On finding out that I was booked in for a body piercing this week, they said “oh, well I hope you’re going to blog the evidence.” I wasn’t intending to, but for the cause of contemporary subcultural anthropology, how could I refuse?

However, because some folk read VCTB in their workplace, and some may simply be squeamish or uninterested, I will supply a link to follow rather than posting the pictures directly here.

Warning: the following link is possibly NSFW, and definitely not for trypanophobics – nor people who dislike the sight of the un-muscled torsos of 30-something blokes having pieces of metal stuck in them.

With the warning delivered, I can now present – a Flickr set of Paul Raven getting his nipple pierced.

We now return you to our regular programme.

Writing stuff: Alan Wilder interview, flash virginity lost

It’s been a slow week for writing jobs; nothing new to report. But I will point interested parties to the published version of my interview with Recoil’s Alan Wilder.

While no jobs have materialised this week, I have at least been out hunting for work. Why, only yesterday I applied for a writing position … albeit one doing interviews and similar for a, uh, “gentleman’s magazine” based in Second Life, but hey – if they’ll pay me, what the hell. It’s all portfolio.

And while not writing in the freelancing for money sense, I managed to complete and post “Downtime”, my first piece of Friday Flash Fiction, as per Gareth Powell’s new blogging meme. Whether it’s any good or not, I have no idea. I’m just pleased that I managed to finish and publish something I’m not utterly ashamed of. Go me!

Books and magazines seen this week

The use of the plural is a bit brash, really, as it’s only one of each. In the magazine intray, we have:

And a book I’ve long been looking forward to receiving:

Tobias Buckell – Ragamuffin (Tor Books, June 2007; ISBN-13: 9780765315076)

Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell

Tobias is a co-blogger at the recently resurrected Futurismic, but I’d have thoroughly enjoyed his first novel Crystal Rain even had I never heard of the guy before. I’m pretty confident that this sort-of-sequel is not going to disappoint. So, yet another gap to chisel into the reading schedule!


Well, thanks to a slow week (with two days out of action thanks to a cold), I find I’ve reported all but the most utterly insignificant events of my life in the past week in the material above – so, no miscellania. You must be gutted. 😉

Which means all that remains is for me to bid you all a good weekend (with better weather than the last one, hopefully) before I wander off to fetch The Friday Curry Of Justice.

So, have a good weekend! Hasta luego!

Friday Photo Blogging: still life with bug

Here’s a shot from back in May, which I’m becoming convinced was about as much summer we’re going to get this year:

Still life with bug

I have no idea what sort of plant that is, nor the identity of the little critter either. I just liked the textures and colours. Taken at the Rock Gardens on Southsea Seafront, for them who’s interested.

Speaking of plants … I mentioned last week that the builders came and took away the old condemned gas fire from my flat. This permitted a rearrangement of bedroom furniture, with the end result that a greater number of my houseplants can now indulge in the south-facing window:

Room With A View

The view would be nicer if there wasn’t a house in the way, and if the garden flat hadn’t had its scruffy but verdant garden paved over when it was renovated a few years back. Selah. It’s better than bugger all.

A first step in freelancing

Well, I’ve been battering on about it for ages, and I’ve even written a few pieces that have paid me token amounts in the last six months, but this week represented a first for me – I sent out an invoice for some copywriting work.

A real invoice, for real work, for real money! I’m pretty stoked about it (though obviously I’ll be more so once the money arrives); while I’m nowhere close to making a steady income yet, this is a first step on what I hope will be a long road … a road that gets progressively less steep, with any luck. So, yay me! Wh00t, etc.

Catching up with ex-colleagues

Went out to an friend’s leaving party for an hour or two last night; he’s just left the same library that I departed three busy months ago. It was really nice to see the old gang, and made me realise that as much as I like my new job, I really miss the sense of community I had in the old one.

They’re great people doing a tough job for worse money, and good friends too. So hello, Portsmouth library staff, if any of you are reading. You guys totally rule.

Phonecalls with the (somewhat) rich and famous

As mentioned last week, I did a telephone interview with Alan Wilder on Tuesday – and I’m pleased to report that I got the sound recorded perfectly, transcribed the conversation and sent it in to my editor at Subba-Cultcha, who seems pretty pleased with it and will be running it (I assume) next week.

Alan Wilder was once described as being ‘the only musician in Depeche Mode’ before his departure from the band in 1996; nowadays he makes music under the moniker of Recoil, a studio-collaboration project that (sadly) never plays live. Mr Wilder was a charming and interesting interviewee, and I can heartily recommend the new album, subHuman – I was a fan before doing the interview.

Books seen this week

Another slow week on the reading materials front, with only one new title. I got an email midweek from a gentleman called Peter D. Smith, wondering if I’d be interested in seeing a copy of his new book that discusses the role of science fiction in inspiring the development of the Cold War ‘Cobalt bomb’ – the device central to the movie Dr Strangelove. It sounded pretty intriguing, so I invited him to send me a copy of it:

Smith, P. D. – The Doomsday Men: The Real Dr Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon. [pub. Allen Lane, May 2007; ISBN 978-0713998153]

Doomsday Men

It’s a real doorstop of a hardback, too – 576 pages! But it looks like a well-researched piece of work, and the sort of thing I can probably read in amongst other titles (which I still can’t do with fiction, for some reason). I’ll share my thoughts about it here when I’m done.

The ephemera of life

After a ten month wait, British Gas have finally managed to commit the fifteen keystrokes that mean I actually receive paper bills for my electricity! I’m tempted to wait for ten months before paying them any more money as a matter of principle, but bitter experience tells me that its not worth toying with utility companies, no matter how inept and cludgy their customer service systems are.

Futurismic is back up, though not fully operational – hard-working head honcho Jeremy managed to export the hefty back catalogue of posts from the evil-tempered Movable Type installation into a nice fresh WordPress database. Now all we need to do is get the backline machinery tuned up, and a nice new theme design, and we’re back in business.

Any web-dev types fancy taking on a low-budget WordPress theme hack? Get in touch and we can talk money – we don’t need anything too hardcore, and it’ll need to be cheap, because it’ll be coming out of my own pocket.


I think that’s about it – if that little lot hasn’t bored you to tears or killed a dull ten minutes at work, I don’t know what will. But my stomach tells me it’s time to go fetch The Friday Curry, so I’ll wish you all a good weekend – hopefully one blessed with better weather than we have had for the last week or so.

Hasta luego!

Friday Photo Blogging: Enigma Machine

I’m gradually getting introduced to all the curators where I work, and having them show me the stuff they’re in charge of. Which means that today I got to see a four-rotor Enigma Machine, complete with the original rotors (and not replacements):

Enigma Machine

Sorry for the crap cameraphone picture; only thing I had to hand. Enigma Machines aren’t as rare as originally thought, by the way; once the story became better known in recent years, a lot of them appeared out of the woodwork. Apparently Mick Jagger owns one – go figure.

This one’s in pretty good condition – largely because it was assigned to the Norwegian Police, so it didn’t see much heavy action. Still fully functional, if wired up to the right sort of power supply. It’s high time I re-read Cryptonomicon, y’know.


Bonus eye candy for the week: what do you do when you’ve just changed jobs and moved to a far lower salary, meaning that you need to keep an eye on your spending habits? Why, you start buying paintings by local artists, of course …

Cyberfish painting

That’s by a chap who I randomly discovered on Flickr, where he goes under the moniker ‘mydogsighs‘. I’d been watching his photostream for a while when that painting turned up, and I just had to have it – it’s so very very me, darling, you know? He’s involved with a lot of interesting emergent art communities on Flickr, too – I sense the beginnings of an interesting article there.


Well, this week I have mostly been being ill. Either the virus I got at Eastercon has lasted far longer than I thought it would, or I picked up supplementary bug from work which came in on the tail end of it. Basically I’ve been feeling completely wrung out and exhausted, despite getting about ten or eleven hours sleep a night (nearly twice my usual amount), eating properly (including vitamins) and abstaining from alcohol. And I still feel rubbish now, to be honest – I’m hoping I can shake it off over the weekend.

However, time waits for no man, not even an ill one, and I’ve been keeping busy with words, both reading and writing. To be quite honest, blogging and reading is all that has kept me sane – I don’t deal well with being ill, not in a “give me sympathy for my man-flu” way, but in a “completely frustrated by feeling unable to accomplish anything” way. Nothing winds me up more than circumstances that no one can do anything to change – the irony of which is that I’m a hayfever sufferer. You really don’t want to meet me when the oil seed rape is in full bloom, I assure you.

But hey, work has been coming in. And I mean actual paid jobs that people want me to do for them. The newly-digitised Hub Magazine has emailed and asked me to review Marianne de Pierres’ Dark Space for them – and who’d have thought they read VCTB? Flattered, so I was. Plus, a photographer guy I used to work with on gig reviews a few years back is setting up an agency, and needs some wordy mug to sort out the non-pictorial website content for them. Result! At this rate, I’ll be able to financially support myself freelancing by the time I turn 40 … 🙂


Let’s see, incoming materials for the week. Magazines:

Books, both via SF Site:

And now a new section of FPB that will hopefully become more frequent: outgoing materials, or “stuff by me that has just been or is about to be published somewhere”; the next SF Site update will have my review of the reissue of Vernor Vinge’s first full novel The Witling, and my first few reviews for music site Subba-Cultcha.com should be up by Monday coming. I’ll link ’em when they’re available, for them what’s interested.


So there’s your Friday window into the life of a man who really needs to get out more – I hope you’ve enjoyed peering in. I shall now go forth and engage in a slightly hotter and more chilli-laden iteration of The Friday Curry than usual, in the hopes that a hefty Scoville rating and lots of garlic and cumin will burn the last of this accursed malaise from my body once and for all. Wish me luck! In the meantime, have a good weekend yourselves.