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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Short Stories - March 2017 

Short stories read/listened to in March:
The Wind Shall Blow - Gregory Norman Bossert - www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/audio/bcs-183-the-wind-shall-blow/
The Greenest Gecko - Ploy Pirapokin @ - www.tor.com/2017/02/01/the-greenest-gecko/
The Peacock Cloak - Chris Beckett - clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_10_15f/
So Much Cooking - Naomi Kritzer @ - So Much Cooking - Naomi Kritzer
Mika Model - Paolo Bacigalupi ; - www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2016/04/mika_model_a_new_short_story_from_paolo_bacigalupi.html
Trusted Messenger - Kevin Wabaunsee - escapepod.org/2017/02/24/ep564-trusted-messenger/
Saints beasts and zombies - Gary Kloster - escapepod.org/2016/06/07/5600/
Men of the ashen morrow - Margaret Killjoy - www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/stories/men-of-the-ashen-morrow/
Dragon's Deep - Cecelia Holland - Dragon's deep - clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_02_17d/
Rain Ship - Chi Hui - clarkesworldmagazine.com/chi_02_17/
I was a teenage werewolf - Dale Bailey - www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/i-was-a-teenage-werewolf/
The House That Jessica Built - Nadia Bulkin - thedarkmagazine.com/house-jessica-built/
Applied Cenotaphics in the Long, Long Longitudes - Vajra Chandrasekera - strangehorizons.com/fiction/applied-cenotaphics-in-the-long-long-longitudes/
The Calculations of The Artificials - Chi Hui - clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_10_16b/
Hoop-of-Benzene - Robert Reed - www.robertreedwriter.com/connectedstories.html
Alone - Robert Reed - www.robertreedwriter.com/connectedstories.html
Mere - Robert Reed * - www.robertreedwriter.com/connectedstories.html
Ramora - Robert Reed * - www.robertreedwriter.com/connectedstories.html
The House That Creaks - Elaine Cuyegkeng - thedarkmagazine.com/the-house-that-creaks/
Seasons of Glass and Iron - Amal El-Mohtar @ - uncannymagazine.com/article/seasons-glass-iron/
The Promise of God - Michael Flynn @* - clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_06_16d/
Successor, Usurper, Replacement - Alice Sola Kim @ - www.buzzfeed.com/alicesolakim/new-fiction-by-alice-sola-kim-successor-usurper-replacement
The Sound That Grief Makes - Kristi DeMeester - thedarkmagazine.com/sound-grief-makes/
Postcards From Natalie - Carrie Laben - thedarkmagazine.com/postcards-from-natalie/
.Identity - E Catherine Tobler - clarkesworldmagazine.com/author/E.%20Catherine%20Tobler/
Rococo - Robert Reed - www.robertreedwriter.com/connectedstories.html
The Finest, Fullest Flowering - Marc Laidlaw - www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/finest-fullest-flowering/
Her Sacred Spirit Soars - S Qiouyi Li - strangehorizons.com/fiction/her-sacred-spirit-soars/
Ever Changing, Ever Turning - Yukimi Ogawa - lackingtons.com/2016/10/25/ever-changing-ever-turning-by-yukimi-ogawa/
Daddy's World - Walter Jon Williams - Daddy's World - Walter Jon Williams
The Algorithms of Value - Robert Reed - clarkesworldmagazine.com/reed_01_16/
Screamers - Tochi Onyebuchi - omenana.org/2016/11/09/screamers-tochi-onyebuchi/
Extraction Request - Rich Larson - clarkesworldmagazine.com/larson_01_16/
The Bog Girl - Karen Russell @ - www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/06/20/bog-girl-by-karen-russell
Vulcanization - Nisi Shawl - www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/vulcanization/
Only Their Shining Beauty Was Left - Fran Wilde - www.shimmerzine.com/only-their-shining-beauty/
Secondhand Bodies - JY Yang @ - www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/secondhand-bodies/
The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Knight - E Lily Yu - The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Knight - E Lily Yu
Black Like Them - Troy L Wiggins - firesidefiction.com/issue39/chapter/black-like-them/
Our Last Guest - Rowan Hisayo Buchanan - granta.com/our-last-guest/
A Heap of Broken Images - Sunny Moraine - clarkesworldmagazine.com/moraine_05_16_reprint/
Away from home - Luo Longxiang - www.acast.com/clarkesworldmagazinesciencefictionfantasy/away-from-home-by-luo-longxiang-audio-
Jonas and the Fox - Rich Larson - clarkesworldmagazine.com/larson_05_16/
The Giving Up Game - Rowan Hisayo Buchanan - www.thewhitereview.org/fiction/the-giving-up-game/
Tough Times All Over - Joe Abercrombie - clarkesworldmagazine.com/abercrombie_05_16_reprint/
Astronaut - Maria Dahvana Headley - www.tor.com/2017/03/08/astronaut-maria-dahvana-headley/
Dove Hunter - Rowan Hisayo Buchanan @ - www.triquarterly.org/issues/issue-144/dove-hunters
Our Faces, Radiant Sisters, Our Faces Full of Light! - Kameron Hurley - www.tor.com/2017/03/08/our-faces-radiant-sisters-our-faces-full-of-light-kameron-hurley/
God Product - Alyssa Wong - www.tor.com/2017/03/08/god-product-alyssa-wong/
Alchemy - Carrie Vaughn - www.tor.com/2017/03/08/alchemy-carrie-vaughn/
Persephone - Seanan McGuire - www.tor.com/2017/03/08/persephone-seanan-mcguire/
Margot & Rosalind - Charlie Jane Anders - www.tor.com/2017/03/08/margot-and-rosalind-charlie-jane-anders/
Anabasis - Amal El-Mohtar - www.tor.com/2017/03/08/anabasis-amal-el-mohtar/
More Than Nothing - Nisi Shawl - www.tor.com/2017/03/08/more-than-nothing-nisi-shawl/
The Last of the Minotaur Wives - Brooke Bolander- www.tor.com/2017/03/08/the-last-of-the-minotaur-wives-brooke-bolander/
Somewhere in Slovenia - Graham Wynd - www.close2thebone.co.uk/wp/?p=3367
Divided We Stand - Tim Maughan - thelongandshort.org/forecasts/divided-we-stand
The Revolution, Brought to You by Nike - Andrea Phillips - firesidefiction.com/the-revolution-brought-to-you-by-nike
The Stone Lover - Marta Randall - www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-stone-lover/
The Worldless - Indrapramit Das - www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-worldless/
It Happened To Me: My Doppelganger Stole My Credit card Info, and Then Stole My Life - Nino Cipri @ - firesidefiction.com/issue39/chapter/it-happened-to-me-my-doppleganger-stole-my-credit-card-info-and-then-my-life/
In The Shade of the Pixie Tree - Rodello Santos - www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/stories/in-the-shade-of-the-pixie-tree/
Suddenwall - Sara Saab - www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/stories/suddenwall/
Foster Homeland - Shastri Akella @ - www.guernicamag.com/foster-homeland/
Waiting Out The End of The World at Patty's Place Cafe - Naomi Kritzer @ - clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_03_17b/
Two Ways of Living - Robert Reed - clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_03_17/
Real Ghosts - JB Park - clarkesworldmagazine.com/park_03_17/

@ = particularly enjoyed
* = previously read

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Short Story Reading - February 2017  

Another month of short story reading, feels as though on some level I'm deliberately reading more shorts because I'm tracking what I'm reading. But I always do go through phases - I've been picking at a couple of year's best anthologies, and not necessarily most recent editions thereof. And been listening to more fiction podcasts. Ideally I would provide links and comments each month to provide context and back to what this list is. This month I've managed to link to the story, or author/book story was from. I had intended to go back and do last month's list and report with this list, but it is time consuming to put all this together.

Lot of good stories, a lot of fine stories, some average. Which is why it would be nice to share more opinion/response - though as always YMMV and tastes are individual. The most I've managed is to mark the stories I particularly enjoyed and particularly recommend reading with a "@" and as with last month where a story just didn't click with me to the point I gave up reading it I've marked "(x)".


  • Even In This Skin - AC Wise
  • Clickbait for Paranormals: Filipino Vamps Hate This Aswang's Dieting Tips - Find Out Why - Sarina Dorie
  • To sleep in the dust of the earth - Kristi DeMeester
  • Sun Magic, Earth Magic - David D Levine
  • A Drop of Ink Preserved in Amber - Marina J Lostetter
  • The Venus Effect - Joseph Allen Hill
  • Interchange - Gary Koster @
  • Hurricane Heels: Divider - Isabel Yap
  • Milla - Lorenzo Crescenta & Emanuela Valentini
  • Black, Their Regalia - Darcie Little Badger @
  • Old Domes - JY Yang @
  • The Very Pulse of the Machine - Michael Swanwick
  • The Big Black Snake - Joanna Walsh
  • And after... - Joanna Walsh
  • Das Steingeschopf - G. V. Anderson
  • The Jeweled Nawab Jungle Retreat - Priya Sridhar @
  • Asassins - Jack Skillingstead + Burt Courtier @
  • A Future Far Too Bright - Yosef Lindell
  • A World Alone - Lauren Rudin
  • Can't Beat 'Em - Nalo Hopkinson
  • A Menagerie of Grief - Kelly Sandoval
  • The Speed of Belief - Robert Reed
  • First Light at Mistaken Point - Kali Wallace
  • Reclamation - Ryan Row
  • Tagging Bruno - Allen M Steele
  • Finnegan's Field - Angela Slater
  • Razorback - Ursula Vernon
  • Nine-Tenths of the Law - Molly Tanzer
  • Fatherbond - Tom Purdom
  • Your Body, By Default - Alexis A Hunter @
  • In Memoriam: Lady Fantastic - Lauren M Roy
  • The Low, Dark Edge of Life - Livia Llewellyn @
  • The West Topeka Triangle - Jeremiah Tolbert
  • The Catastrophe of Cities - Lisa Goldstein @
  • Good Night Moon, Good Night Air, Good Night Noises Everywhere - Aimee Ogden
  • Extra Pickles for the End of the World - James Reinebold
  • Dangers of Darlings - Jez Patterson
  • Goes Both Ways - Shannon Fay
  • A Bottle of the Good Stuff - Zack Conley @
  • The Broken Pieces Make Her Sparkle - J D Pendergast
  • Fight of the Century - Peter A Schaefer
  • Snowfire - Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold
  • First Blink - Arasibo Campeche
  • Reap - Carie Juettner
  • Seven Salt Tears - Kat Howard
  • The Whole Crew Hates Me - Adam-Troy Castro
  • Everyday is the Full Moon - Carlie St George @
  • The Meiosis of Cells And Exile - Octavia Cade
  • The Universe As Vast As Our Longings - Benjanun Sriduangkaew
  • Apollo - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Next Station, Shibuya - Iori Kusano@
  • Out of the Woods - Marissa Lingen
  • Think of Winter - Eleanna Castroianni
  • Crimson Birds of Small Miracles - Sean Monaghan @
  • The Uncarved Heart by - Evan Dicken
  • The Garden of Ending - K J Kabza
  • Still Life With Abyss - Jim Grimsley
  • Old Paint - Megan Lindholm @
  • Chitai Heiki Koronbin - David Moles @
  • Nightside In Callisto - Linda Nagata
  • Sudden, Broken and Unexpected - Stephen Popkes @
  • Cup of Cold Comfort - Stephanie Burgis
  • Winter Timeshare - Ray Naylor
  • The Thule Stowaway - Maria Dahvana Headley
  • The Visit - Subashini Navaratnam
  • Can Anything Good Come - Suyi Davies Okungbowa
  • The First of Her Name - Elaine Cuyegkeng
  • The Story of Kao Yu - Peter S Beagle
  • Archibald Defeats the Churlish Shark-Gods - Benjamin Blattberg
  • The Old Dispensation - Lavie Tidhar (x)
  • Little Widow - Maria Dahvana Headley @
  • Four Haunted Houses - Adam-Troy Castro
  • The Atonement Tango - Stephen Leigh
  • Prosthetic Daughter - Nin Harris @
  • The Universal Museum of Sagacity - Robert Reed @
  • Left Behind - Cat Rambo
  • Coyote Invents The Land of the Dead - Kij Johnson
  • Half the World Over - Joanna Walsh
  • Summer Story - Joanna Walsh
  • New Year's Day - Joanna Walsh
  • The King in the Cathedral - Rich Larson
  • Grey Wings - Karl Bunker
  • Drones - Simon Ings
  • Events Preceding The Helvetican Renaissance - John Kessel
  • The Virtual Swallows of Hog Island - Julianna Baggott

  • Thursday, February 02, 2017

    Short Story Reading - January 2017 

    I have had the intent of keeping track of what short fiction I read for a while, the last time I tried I failed quickly. Ideally I'd add commentary and links, particularly as some of these pieces were very good and should absolutely be read. That'll maybe follow.  For the moment I'm sharing to at least get a ball rolling.


    [ ] An Eligible Boy - a Iain McDonald *
    [ ] Goddess, Worm - Cassandra Khaw
    [ ] Ipoh Girls - Cassandra Khaw
    [ ] Interred with their bones - Morris Tanafon
    [ ] The voice-activated lift - Pippa Goldscmidt
    [ ] Bodies Stacked Like Firewood - Sam J Miller
    [ ] A Tower For The Coming World - Maggie Clark
    [ ] The Forgotten Taste of Honey - Alexander Jablokov
    [ ] Checkerboard Planet - Eleanor Arnason
    [ ] Choose Poison, Choose Life - Michael Blumlein
    [ ] The Death of Paul Bunyan - Charles Payseur
    [ ] The Inheritance - Amelia Gray
    [ ] A Trump Christmas Carol
    [ ] Follow the White Line - Bo Balder
    [ ] Of sight, of mind, of heart - Samantha Murray
    [ ] Cat, I Must Work - Jo Lindsay Walton
    [ ] Eating Science With Ghosts - Octavia Cade
    [ ] Topaz marquee - Fran Wild
    [ ] Shadow Weave - Yoon Ha Lee
    [ ] Cabin Creek - Madeline Ffitch
    [ ] Wooden Boxes Lined With The Tongues of Doves - Claire Humphrey
    [ ] Abduction of Europe - E Catherine Tobler
    [ ] The Leaning Lincoln - Will Ludwigsen (x)
    [ ] Twenty lights to "The Land of Snow" - Michael Bishop
    [ ] Project Entropy - Dominica Phetteplace
    [ ] Words of Creation - M. K. Hutchins
    [ ] Where I'm from, we eat our parents - John Wiswell
    [ ] Better Than Bones & Dust - P. M. Dooling
    [ ] The People in the Building - Sandra McDonald
    [ ] Water Scorpions - Rich Larson
    [ ] Astrophilia - Carrie Vaughan
    [ ] Perils in Pets - Jez Patterson
    [ ] I've come to marry the princess - Helena Bell
    [ ] Shooting Gallery - J B Park
    [ ] Plea - Mary Anne Mohanraj
    [ ] The Compromise - Karin Terebessy
    [ ] Sympathies - Kat Otis
    [ ] Soulmonger - Paulo da Silva
    [ ] Liane - Jay Lake & Ruth Nestvold
    [ ] Man of the House - Pamela Ferguson
    [ ] Justice System in Quantum Parallel Probabilities - Lettie Prell
    [ ] The Ghost Ship Anastasia - Rich Larson
    [ ] A Series of Steaks - Vina Jie-Min Prasad
    [ ] The Most Famous Little Girl in The World - Nancy Kress*
    [ ] Re: Upcoming Restroom Changes - Nicky Dryden
    [ ] Souls - Mari Ness
    [ ] In The Pines - K M Carmien

    * - indicates previously read.
    (x) - indicates unfinished because it didn't engage.

    Some of these were read in text form, some listened to as podcasts, but I'm not differentiating for purposes of list.

    Monday, October 10, 2016

    My next work in progress? 

    I love weird twitter, the unpredictable, the absurd, the way that so many single tweets can feel like stories I want to read/write.

    ourmagickfuture (Magick at Scale)

    Witch Scientist Publishes Manifesto for Expressive Occult Music
    5:14 AM Oct 10th via Smidgeo Posteo https://twitter.com/ourmagickfuture/status/785332539632283648


    Saturday, October 08, 2016

    The Witch At The End Of The World: Spook Riders 

    My story The Witch At The End Of The World (currently available in Thirty Years Of Rain), like so much of what I write is influenced by music. In this case the characters sing as they travel. Suicide's "Ghost Rider" is one of the tracks they sing, it felt right, the idea of these riders traveling through the land of the dead. The living haunt the dead lands, the end of the world. During the writing and editing process of this story Alan Vega of Suicide died, so this started to feel like some small tribute. I also link here to The Young Gods cover of the same song, another version that was going through my head, electronic stripped to acoustic, in turn in my story stripped to a cappella.



    Friday, September 30, 2016

    Book Launch #30YoR 

    Well, tonight is the big night. The Glasgow launch of Thirty Years Of Rain, the 30th anniversary collection of work by members of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writer's Circle. A cross genre collection of stories and poems, old and new.

    The book is already available from Lulu and Amazon. But in the Sauchiehall St branch of Waterstones tonight, from 7pm, there will be a chance to hear readings and get books signed by a number of the authors. With a number of authors in Glasgow, I fully expect the presence of Elsie WK Donald, Ruth EJ Booth, Heather Valentine, Brian M Milton, Ian Hunter, Cameron Johnston, Stewart Horn, Fergua Bannon, Hal Duncan, Elaine Gallagher, Kenneth Kelly, Jim Steel, Neil Williamson and myself. (Actual quantity of authors present may go up or down)

    Inevitably, as with all GSFWC events, we will end up in the pub. Hopefully see people there.


    Tuesday, August 30, 2016

    On Writing "The Witch At The End Of The World" 




    [I came across the above image after completing the final version of The Witch At The End Of The World, for me this captures some sense of what I was thinking of, this looks like it could easily be one of my apocalyptic witches. The image is by costume designer Agnieszka Osipa]

    Writing can be difficult. Many writers will tell you so. And there are so many ways to self-defeat, block and distract. For me I got so bogged down in a loop of submissions and rejections, token editing to try and add polish upon polish to things I had already written, that to write something new started to feel impossible.

    With “The Witch At The End Of The World”, or “Papa Okid In And The Witch At The End Of The World” as it was originally called I was trying to break that cycle. I decided to write something different, something that would be easy, that would brush away cobwebs and give me a revived compulsion to write. And it did… eventually.

    I was going for a fantasy story. Something epic. Compared to my usual near future pseudo-science fiction mixing dalliances with horror. Though more Moorcock or Harrison, was how I saw it. It was an end of the world story – something evil, a group gathered to defeat evil. You know the deal, how it works. The Magnificent Seven, with witches, and a great big alien spider queen witch. Ride into the occupied city, Paris I decided, and fight monsters, defeat the big bad. Yay.

    Except my characters decided they absolutely had to ride to this magic tree before they went riding into a snow bound alien tainted Paris. Then they decided that the city thing and the alien witch thing bored them, they’d rather sing and sit around and drink strange tea. So that is what happened. Kind of.

    The original themes are still there. A group gathering to ride against evil; ideas of the end of the world, of fallen civilisations, the Anthropocene and how fucked we all are. This is dark stuff, except, hopefully, it doesn’t entirely feel that way.

    One of the hard things, one of the reasons the story took so long to write, was finding the voice. Initially I had envisaged this guide bloke, someone desperate enough to go to a difficult place and ask for help – Papa Okid In, or Papa Oki Din as he became. But his voice didn’t work for me. I rewrote the opening scene an infinite number of times, I know, I counted them. Each a variation, on a turn of phrase, on a first step, on finding that damn voice that made the damn story talk. Then I found it, and I won’t say from there that it wrote itself, but oh Iggy, it became so much easier.

    I am a member of the GSFWC (The Glasgow Science Fiction Writer’s Circle), a support group of writers. Offering critiques and advice and support to each other. The GSFWC has now been going for 30 years, to celebrate that they have put together an anthology – Thirty Years Of Rain. I decided this story would be my submission, I decided this anthology would be my impetus for finishing the thing that I had been fighting with on and off for a year.

    Thanks to the patience and support of the anthology editors, the final version of The Witch At The End Of The World has been included in Thirty Years of Rain – which will have a launch night in Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street Waterstones, on the 30th of September, from 7pm. I'll be there, along with a number of the other authors included, hope to see some of you there too.

    Monday, August 29, 2016

    THIRTY YEARS OF RAIN 


    THIRTY YEARS OF RAIN - CELEBRATING THIRTY YEARS OF THE GLASGOW SCIENCE FICTION WRITER'S CIRCLE.

    September  will see the publication of Thirty Years Of Rain a collection of short stories and poems by writers who have at some point over the last 30 years been members of the GSFWC. 

    The collection includes my own story The Witch At The End Of The World. A cheerful, uplifting story about the end of world. A bit of a departure from what I normally write, this is the closest I have done to being an Epic Fantasy. Except, because it is me, it isn't really that at all. Instead it is something.... odder?

    There will be a couple of launches for the anthology, the 1st at the annual British Fantasy Con, the 2nd at Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street branch of Waterstones on the 30th of September from 7pm. I will be one of the authors at the Waterstones launch, where there will be readings and signings.

    The full contents of Thirty Years Of Rain are as follows:

    The Freedom of Above ― TJ Berg
    Skyrider ― William King
    The Ranch ― Gary Gibson
    Her Choice ― Elsie WK Donald
    Picture, of a Winter Afternoon ― Ruth EJ Booth
    My Last Love ― Heather Valentine
    Watching the Watchers ― Anya Penfold
    The Lodger ― Brian M Milton
    10 Things to Know About Staple Removers ― Ian Hunter
    HEADKILLER ― Michael Cobley
    Crowd Control ― Cameron Johnston
    Amanda ― Jim Campbell
    The Butterflies of Dysfunction ― TW Moses
    Go Cúramach ― Stewart Horn
    The Unusual Genitals Party ― Fergus Bannon
    Ascending ― Hal Duncan
    5AM Saint ― Elaine Gallagher
    The Witch at the End of the World ― Peter Morrison
    What Bliss It Was ― Louise Welsh
    Run ― Kenneth Kelly
    I Believe That This Nation Should Commit Itself ― Duncan Lunan
    The Crock of Shet ― Jim Steel
    Hot Breath ― Matthew Horsely
    Danny Dyer Is Professor Stiles Langstrom! ― Ian Hunter
    The Marquis of Alcatraz ― Richard Mosses
    Kikinasai ― Eliza Chan
    Foreign Bodies ― Neil Williamson
    The New Ways ― Amal El-Mohtar
    The Glaswegian Chalk Dust Circle ― Michael Mooney
    The Circle ― Phil Raines

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

    In Search of Cultural Vistas 

    Written earlier in the week, but only just posting now:
     
    I was struck last night by an increasing occurrence. Where you see an amusing little nugget on twitter and you smile in an appropriate manner. Then a day, or two, later, you see the same thing again. And again. Then you see that same little nugget being picked up by both Boing Boing and Jezebel, and being passed off as a cutting edge moment.

    I’m not ahead of the curve. My finger is not in the pulse. So what does this say about “news” sites passing on information that is days old? On one hand, it has always been the case. But on the other, it probably speaks to an idea of saturation, particularly on twitter. Where the medium becomes so utterly saturated and repetitive that it becomes harder to see something for the first time, instead of seeing that thing again.

    Another tweet I saw last night, from the magazine Huck, about a film being shown in Manchester about the erosion of culture in New York, and the people fighting back against it. Like many things, I didn’t look beyond that one tweet, so I don’t have any details on that particular node. But it is one dot in a persistent pattern – culture in New York is dead, or replace that with London, or replace that with. And wave a hand towards gentrification. Which flags another dot in my head, from reading an article the other night in an actual physical copy of Huck magazine which I have lying around. Which was a guide to Wellington in New Zealand, how it was a cultural hot spot, the starting point for many a visitor setting out on adventure. How that has transformed over the years due gentrification. Which in turns reminds me of a video I watched on YouTube, a group of artists talking about how much more difficult culture was becoming in Reykjavik for the same reason.

    I've been reading the new edition of England’s Hidden Reverse that was released recently. An updated version of the book that came out 10 or so years ago? My memory should be better on that, given I was at the launch of the version when the author spoke about it in Glasgow’s Monorail records. Anyway, book and reading, in particular the section I was reading last night was wallowing in the London scene of the 80’s – post-punk/industrial music, pretentious art wankers and confrontational bastards. All living, as the saying goes, cheek by jowl, in squats. All playing dingy little venues, where violence would erupt, partly in protest and partly because folk were arseholes. Which ties into that idea of that film mentioned above – a lost New York to a lost London to a lost cultural past.

    Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be some essay, just a note, observing a couple of things that catch the eye. By contrast, I was listening to a podcast on the drive to work this morning. I tend to vary depending on mood – a selection of music played at random or a podcast. Today I picked a conversation with Clive James, and I was struck (perhaps again, perhaps more lucidly) by why I enjoy certain podcasts. Listening to two men talk about books that I will never read and likely would not enjoy if I tried to read. Or on other occasions two people talk about music I’d never listen to. It is the listening to the enthusiasm and pleasure expressed by other people. Where you can appreciate where people are coming from, you can enjoy the intelligence and engagement. Occasionally there is that nugget in there, where you think actually that is something I should read, listen to, watch, appreciate and you make a discovery. I am undoubtedly a fan of discovery, of expanding my horizons.

    Though, lets not get carried away, last week I stumbled upon the worst podcast ever. An episode of a show that I listen to periodically had hit on the perfect formula – five people sitting around and talking in the most academic terms about the nature of something only really of interest to the five people talking about it. I lasted 10 minutes, I was driving, before I started swearing and was forced to change to something resembling interesting. 

    Though, of course, I’ll do my best to adhere to the idea of mentioning things I like while politely not naming things I am criticising. Though, I can have mixed feelings about that, particularly when everyone else is wrong. But I am only human.


    Wednesday, April 13, 2016

    Ancillary's Children  

    I am reading Alastair Reynolds "Steel Breeze" with my lunch. The lead character is Chiku. But Chiku is not just Chiku. She cloned herself and replicated her memory. In the scene I just read the narrative has slipped, without warning from one Chiku to another Chiku. Even the character takes a moment to get her head round that. The preceding chapters being the memories of a counterpart taken into her head as her own.

    With this comes an interesting way of telling a story with one character in multiple places. But also the question of identity. These two people aren't just similar, they are the same person.

    This is something which particularly struck me with Ancillary Justice. For all the other aspects of that novel that were applauded, I don't think I saw too much reference to this aspect of identity. In this novel the ships are intelligent, a common enough idea, but they have use of physical bodies as tools. (The mechanism and ethics of that are another conversation) So like Chiku, we have multiple view points, but even greater sense of only one mind.

    On some level playing with that kind of identity and characterization is fascinating and appealing. Especially thinking in terms of could I pull that off?


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