Charlie's Diary

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Sun, 26 Jun 2005

Misspent weekend musings

It's hay fever season, as my sinuses are informing me. I've just got home from a talking slot at a writer's conference in Winchester, and I'm facing a deadline – I have a novel to finish by the end of July, and maybe 50,000 words to go, so I won't be tinkering with the blog much this month. On the other hand I'll be updating the downloadable copies of Accelerando next week (got a couple of formatting whoopsies to fix and a PDF version to add), and posting reviews as they come to my attention.

Some of you have been bugging me by email about the RSS feed. It's not operational right now because I've switched to static HTML for the blog, due to low turnover of new content and the huge additional server load imposed by the Accelerando website. Nevertheless, if you want RSS, point your newsreader here and things should start working again.

The writers' conference was interesting and educational. I don't normally get speaking invitations to these events, so I spent a chunk of my time with my ears open. (Those of you who've met me will know that I talk a lot; but I'm also capable of observing what's under my nose. The beauty of being a motormouth is that you're a whole lot less conspicuous as an observer than if you're sitting in the back row with a tight smile and a reporter's pad on your knee.)

I guess the most unexpected thing for me was the demographic mix of the attendees. Writers conferences like this one are places were people who want to write books (or poems, or stories) pay to go to rub shoulders with real live writers and ask them questions about how to do it, as if success is contagious or what worked for one person will work for another. I'm not averse to such junkets myself, being something of a workshop junkie, but I knew I was an SF/F writer from an early age and consequently sought out genre-specific events and groups. More importantly, SF/F have a very active base of fans who network, and quite a lot of them have writerly aspirations, and many of the active writers attend conventions and hang out with fans -- so there's a very permeable barrier in my field, and once you discover fandom you also discover a huge support network for aspiring writers. My experience is that there's a roughly 70/30 gender split, male/female, in SF (but reversed, with a 30/70 split, among aspiring fantasy writers); and the age distribution is quite flat, possibly with a peak between the early 20's and mid-30's.

This conference was genre-agnostic, with no less a luminary than Fay Weldon giving the keynote speech at the beginning, and I suspect it attracts a much more "average" cross-section of aspiring writers than you'd find in an SF/F specific context. The gender balance was closer to 80/20 female/male than 70/30 or 50/50; and as for age distribution ... well, there's no getting around it. Your stereotypical aspiring novelist in the UK is a middle-aged middle-class woman. There's a scattering of older people (retirees in search of a hobby or returning to ideas they chewed over in their youth but had no time to subsequently explore), but far fewer young ones than I was expecting. I suspect some of the more talented young would-be writers are being drawn off into MA courses on creative writing, and thus wouldn't be as likely to attend a week-long festival of writing with lectures and one-to-one slots with authors. But the under 30s (or even the under 40s) were conspicuously thin on the ground.

A comment from a fellow professional genre hack and a brief discussion with our marketing shepherd from Time Warner Books put things in perspective: the demographic make-up of the writers' conference tracks very closely the demographic make-up of the readers of meanstream, literary, fiction. This being so, it should be no surprise that the age, gender, and social stratification of the mainstream doesn't match the SF and fantasy readership. We came to reading as a recreational activity from different directions, to satisfy different cravings. If anything, it would be more startling if we were less different. And it gave me pause to reconsider whether it is even possible, much less desirable, for SF to achieve a degree of respectability within the mainstream. It'd be like demanding equal time for Iggy Pop on Radio Three.

The spread of abilities among the aspiring authors I spoke to was astonishing. I don't want to cast any aspersions on individuals here: they're all sincere, hard working folks and I wish them all every success. Nevertheless, preparation, legwork, research, and an understanding of the publishing process are important aspects of the writing process: and some of the attendees didn't really seem to realize just how much of it they had ahead of them if they wanted to realize their visions. Writing was what it was about, and they hadn't quite worked out that before you start writing you need to do a whole lot of reading. Research and preparation are essential skills for any writer, but looking back at the programme of events for Saturday I'm struck by how little emphasis on research there was in it: maybe two or three out of a total of 36 talks had any bearing on these topics.

At the other extreme I also ran into unpublished but hopeful writers who seemed to be doing everything right – they'd done the research, the referents for their novel pitches were up to date and on the leading edge of the genre they'd picked to write in, and who clearly had something new in mind. Going from the one type of aspiring writer to the other was quite surreal; like going from an interview with a small boy inexpertly trying to build a model airplane to a meeting with a trainee airline pilot asking about a job vacancies.

The one thing all these people had in common was the aspiration to write. And that brings me on to the epiphenomena surrounding them. The reception area held a room full of stands, ranging from the local bookstore through to magazines for writers ... and slightly more questionable outfits. I don't think it's quite fair to castigate as a vanity press the two nice old ladies with their hand-printed and hand-bound volumes, available in print runs of 1-6 copies, for that family history or autobiography: they certainly weren't selling themselves on their ability to bring fame and fortune to their clients. But the likes of PublishAmerica were visible in the background, as were the POD specialists, and the freelance editors of the kind who target hopeful writers, and the rest of the sorry circus.

The first law of publishing is that if it's legit, money flows towards the author: some of the schemes on the stands looked to me to break that rule, and more worryingly, there was no brake on this and nothing in the programme that would clearly address schemes and scams targeting the hopeful. A writers' conference full of naive aspirants is like a free lunch buffet to the varieties of parasite who specialize in retrieving people of their wealth in return for offers of future glory. And what's worse is, to the uneducated it can be difficult or impossible to tell a genuine small press publisher from a parasitic vanity press, or a useful editorial service from an exploiter of the hopeful. Wandering among the flock of hopefuls, all clutching their synopses and chattering excitedly, I felt simultaneously old and cynical – despite being on the young side by the standards of the conference – and I sorely wished that TNH was there to give them her short, sharp lecture on how not to be taken for a ride.

Aside from that, there's not much to report. I'd forgotten my last visit to Winchester, a multi-week contract job working for Hampshire Country Council on behalf of my last-but-one web startup (the one that went bust rather than IPOing during the dot-com boom). Weirdly, Orbit had booked the exact same hotel I'd stayed in for most of a month nine years earlier: I can report that The Winchester Hotel has not changed in the intervening time, other than to add expensive broadband and a sprawling mat of stubby corridors that wrap around the exterior of the hotel health spa and paddling pool, along with a possible fourth-dimensional by-pass through Hotel Space, rendering my room impossible to locate while sober.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to work. For us aspiring authors, the job is never done ...

[Discuss Writing (2)]

posted at: 17:46 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 19 Jan 2005

The crapness continues

Am feeling under the weather; on top of which, I'm off for a long weekend visiting relatives. Feel free to talk among yourselves.

posted at: 19:33 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 14 Dec 2004

I'm back ...

And I'm behind schedule, so I'm going to get down to work for a bit.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the intuhweb Teresa Nielsen Hayden demonstrates why it's a bad idea to argue with editors, Alfredo Pinochet gets about 1/3100 of what he deserves (and about time too), and Wendy Grossman meets a psychic named Shirley. It's a weird world out there ...


posted at: 18:36 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 22 Nov 2004

Still ill

This is getting extremely tedious. First it was a sore chest and a rattly cough combined with extreme tiredness. Then it turned into something a lot nastier, with overtones of bronchitis. Yesterday it mutated into a dry cough (no more death rattle, thankfully) combined with a nose-cold of the variety that produces bucketloads of slime. Now the dry cough has turned irritating, my head feels like it's stuffed with cotton wool, and every cough makes it feel as it my face is about to fall off. I've got a disturbing feeling that things are cycling back to setting one, and it's all about to repeat on me. Stop the roundabout: I want to get off.

I respond to illnesses oddly, mostly on account of my commute to the workplace being approximately three metres. If I take to my bed things are really bad; by the same token, if I'm in my office it doesn't mean things are good. So I'm spending most of my time hunched in front of the computer, not able to focus well enough to actually do anything useful, but too disturbed to take my hands off it and go back to being convalescent. At least yesterday I managed to watch Kill Bill Volume 1, even if I don't have the energy to try playing games.

At least the web is entertaining, albeit not entertaining enough to spark any creative thoughts. By way of Brad DeLong's blog I ran across The US as a Net Debtor: The Sustainability of the US External Imbalances (authors: Nouriel Roubini and Brad Setser (2004), (New York: NYU)), which scared the pants off me when taken in conjunction with the recent mutterings by the US Treasury Secretary and the head of the Federal Reserve. America is my largest market, and the idea that the dollar is heading over a cliff and the driver's boot is jammed on the accelerator instead of the brake does not fill me with joy. Maybe I need to start sniffing around Frankfurt for opportunities. But that'll have to wait until next year, now, by which time it might be too late.

Frankly, staying in bed is sounding more attractive all the time.

[Discuss market anomalies]

posted at: 19:07 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 18 Nov 2004

Excuses, again

I hit Dublin last Friday, with a somewhat sore chest, only to discover that none of the local cellphone carriers provided GPRS service, which I'd been planning to use from my Treo 600 to stay in touch. As we travelled by air I didn't bother bringing a laptop, so I couldn't take advantage of any of the (few) WiFi hotspots. So I was offline until I got home late Tuesday night. By which time the sore chest had acquired a nasty cough on top.

I'm now resting up, drinking lots of fluid, and staying mostly in bed. If I had a day job, I wouldn't be going in to work this week, let's put it that way.

Mind you, more signs emerge that we're living in the right century -- that is, the 21st one. This has been slashdotted to hell and back so it's old news, but while I was away the Liftport group successfully tested a prototype space elevator climber -- and here are some photos. Okay, so that's about 70 metres gone, 70,000 kilometres to go -- but it's an interesting proof of concept. (A climber, in case you didn't know, is the ascending/descending component of a space elevator, which I figure is a hell of a lot more likely to give Feorag and myself a holiday in orbit before we're 65 than any rocket technology that doesn't involve fast neutrons.)

Back to bed, now.

[Discuss space]

posted at: 17:04 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 15 Oct 2004

Been upgradin'

Been quiet because I'm upgrading to a new server.

The blog moved over some time ago, but while I've been travelling all over the place I haven't had time to take care of business. About ten domains needed their primary DNS shifting. Then there's a dozen or so user accounts to set up for email and web access, and half a dozen web sites to shift, other CGI-mediated software to deal with, and a whole load of mailing lists. This is with another guy (hi, Jon) helping out as sysadmin. It's a royal pain in the neck and hopefully it'll be several years before I have to move again. In fact, if it wasn't for the spam load (thousands per day to filter out of incoming mailboxes) and the mailing list server (mailman is a complete memory hog) I'd probably still be able to stick to the old box. But in this day and age, 64Mb just isn't enough.

It's my birthday on Monday, and I'm buying myself a new PDA. (One of these, if you're interested.) The new PDA will have twice the memory of my old server, and a CPU that runs at a clock speed 50% faster. It won't have the same storage capacity at first (0.5Gb against 10Gb) but I expect sticking 10Gb of flash memory in it should be eminently possible today if I'm feeling reckless with the cash, or cheaply in another year or two.

How times change. A budget server, circa 2000, is a PDA by 2004. Projected back to 1994, that budget server would have been equivalent to an exceedingly fast mid-range Sun box, and a decade earlier it would have had Seymour Cray drooling ...

I'm going to use my PDA to read ebooks, play Sim City 2000, check my email, and surf the web when I'm out of my house. Yesterday's supercomputer is truly today's toy.

[Discuss toys]

posted at: 20:41 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 09 Oct 2004

Normal service resuming

If you've been following my blog for a while you might have wondered why -- apart from my travel schedule -- posting has been so light this autumn. You might even have wondered why I was spending so much time visiting family members.

I try not to post about my relatives (if they want blog entries they can start their own weblogs), but to cut a long story short two of my close family have been very ill. In one case it was a matter solved by routine surgery (to the extent that any surgery is routine, from the point of view of the patient!), but the other was a three-ring circus -- seven weeks in hospital, and the patient not expected to survive.

Well, the patient did survive, and is now out of hospital and clearly recovering. But you might speculate that weekly 500-mile round trips might have had something to do with distracting me from updating this journal ... and you wouldn't be wrong. It was, all in all, an extremely exhausting experience -- not just the travel, but being supportive to other family members who were closer to the action and under correspondingly more stress. Life-threatening exotic illnesses: just say no if anyone offers to sell you one, okay?

Anyway, this is by way of saying that I'm cautiously optimistic that life is getting back to normal. I'm left with a huge backlog of work to get my teeth into, but that's okay. Deadlines, unlike dead relatives, can be finessed.

posted at: 12:41 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 08 Oct 2004

Today's excuse

Blogging while recovering from what appears to be a classic case of traveller's diarrhoea (with additional florid symptoms that I'm not going to go into here -- use your imagination) is hard work ... I suppose it's inevitable that I'd finally have come down with something after the amount of travelling I've been doing lately, but Brussels wasn't exactly top of my list of places most likely to do it in.

Normal service will be resumed when, er, normal service is resuled. Suffice to say, I'm now plugged back into a broadband connection and catching my breath.

posted at: 17:06 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 25 Sep 2004

Excuses time (again)

I know, I know, I haven't been updating the blog enough lately. That's because in between travelling to far-flung places I'm currently spending a lot of time with family and the rest of my time being exhausted. (I haven't even had time to migrate the rest of my web site and email setup onto this spanking new server I've paid for and am running ... hopefully in the next week or so this'll happen.)

I've worked up a backlog of committments to write short stories and novellas for various anthologies. I'm now planning to spend the rest of this year trying to catch up with them all so I don't blow any deadlines. This means that if you're thinking of asking me to contribute to an anthology or magazine ... just don't, okay? (If your deadline falls after mid-2006 I might be able to do something, but right now I'm logjammed, with about 60,000 words of short fiction committments to meet.) If you'd told me five years ago that there'd come a time when I'd be turning down invitations to write for paying markets I'd have thought you were nuts, but that's what's happened. The flipside of this (if you're a reader rather than an editor) is that it means I might eventually have enough material for a new short story collection in 2006/2007. We shall see ...

[Discuss writing]

posted at: 18:37 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 16 Sep 2004

This is more like it ...

For the past nearly-four years I've had this odd feeling that I'd been handed the wrong 21st century. But every so often bits of the real one keep leaking through: things like the third international conference on space elevators remind me that maybe, just maybe, things are moving in the right direction some of the time.

(Yeah, space elevators. That's so 1980's, isn't it? But as Arthur C. Clarke pegged them as happening some time after 2060, and these guys are talking about building one in the next two decades, I live in hope of maybe actually getting to see the Earth from orbit before I die of old age.)

[Link] [Discuss space]

posted at: 20:30 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 27 Aug 2004

On the road again ...

Visiting family this week, then rushing off to Noreascon 4 next week. Not much to write about, except that I went to the premiere of "Rogue Farm" (at the Edinburgh Film Festival -- during the showing of this years' New Found Land/Films short films) and found it not half bad.

Meanwhile, I seem to have accidentally started writing one novel then succumbed to a brilliant-keen idea for how to re-write another (first draft complete, finished book due in next August) and am emulating the donkey that starved to death midway between two bales of hay.

I could indulge in massive schadenfreude over current events in South Africa involving the scion of a former head of government, but that would be Bad. (I'm trying to stay off politics, right?)

Meanwhile: those of you with access to a British newsagent, go look on page 32 of the current (September) issue of SFX magazine. That I can gloat about without feeling all icky afterwards.

[Discuss shameless self-promotion]

posted at: 21:37 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 24 Aug 2004

Well, that's done ...

I just finished and mailed off a new draft of a novel for Tor, "The Clan Corporate". Redrafting novels (or writing them in the first place) tends to get in the way of blogging, as do the other little aspects of having a life -- going swimming, watching movies, staining the new bookcases, tidying up the living room, that sort of thing. To make matters worse, there's a shiny new laptop sitting on my desk, waiting for me to move all my stuff across onto it. I'm tempted to do it right away, even though the additional gigabyte of memory it needs is still in the post. (And experience tells me that every time I configure/switch to a new laptop it bites a minimum of two days out of my schedule.) Because it's shiny, as shiny as only a 17" Powerbook can be.

I'm beginning to suspect that I may in fact be an incorrigible geek.

[Discuss toys]

posted at: 08:20 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 21 Aug 2004

More excuses

I've been away for a few days, again, hence the lack of updates.

The fringe reading and talk with Ken went fine, except for the little matter of the ticket office upstairs insisting to punters that no such event was taking place in this here building. As a result of which we were out-numbered by the audience, but by less than an order of magnitude. I'd like to thank our hosts, Word Power Books for their gracious and friendly hosting of the event.

Some time next week I may be migrating this weblog to my shiny new server. Not sure yet: pressure of time (I've got a novel to finish and a worldcon to prepare for) means that I won't be able to move everything over before I'm off for a couple of weeks in Boston and NYC. But don't be surprised if the response time on the weblog suddenly changes.

Meanwhile, I've just received my first ever Japanese reverse double taxation exemption claim form, a particular form of torture inflicted upon authors that is (thankfully) made slightly less of a torment by the willing assistance of their publishers. And I am informed that my next novel, "The Family Trade", may be coming out a few weeks late. Happy joy.

[Discuss writing]

posted at: 15:28 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 12 Aug 2004

Not dead

Nope. Just had to disappear on a week-long road trip at very short notice, with virtually no time to spend on net access. Things should get back to normal(ish) in the next few days.

posted at: 17:55 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 30 Jul 2004

Random observations

Books and magazines and newspapers, here in the UK, are zero-rated for VAT (Value Added Tax -- sales tax, basically). But ebooks appear to be treated as electronic media, and like DVD's and CD's they are not VAT-exempt; thus, if you want to sell ebooks to a British audience you must sell them at a minimum 20% discount compared to the paper version, or the general public will sneer at you.

Home bread-making machines don't just do fluffy white supermarket loaves (he says, subsisting on a loaf of organic Russian black bread with the satisfying consistency of a concrete brick).

And I've really got to (a) get the redraft of "The Clan Corporate" nailed down and (b) lease a new server. Preferably both next week, because the week after that I've got to go on a road trip and visit members of my family, and two weeks later there's the worldcon, and if I haven't finished the novel by then I'll get to explain why to my editor ... and around the time I get home from that the lease on my old server expires, and it'd be deeply embarrassing not to make the transition in time.

So I expect to maintain a really low blogging profile next week and the week after.

posted at: 20:12 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 16 Jul 2004

... And getting slower

Because not only am I making slow headway on the novel redraft; I'm also expecting the proofs of another novel to arrive any day now (short turnaround! Schnell, vite!), my German translator just got in touch with a preliminary list of "what on earth does this mean" -type queries, and it turns out that some more edits for yet another novel are about to surface.

On the other hand. If you're in the US, you might want to pick up the current (August) issue of Popular Science, which seems to be mostly about me. Or so I'm told. If you're in Edinburgh, I am doing that reading in a couple of weeks -- more details nearer the time. And I'll try to update this blog more regularly once I crawl out from under the mountain of paper ...

posted at: 18:26 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 13 Jul 2004

Scribble scribble

I'm redrafting a novel (THE CLAN CORPORATE, due out from Tor some time in 2005/2006), so this is liable to be a slow posting week ...

[Discuss writing]

posted at: 19:41 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 29 Jun 2004

On having a life

I spent the weekend visiting my parents in Leeds, and yesterday was my wedding anniversary. Not to mention the last bout of paintwork in the bedroom. So if you're wondering where I've been, I guess the answer is "having a life". And I'm having a life for the rest of this week too, I think. Off to London on Thursday for an interview, refurnishing the bedroom and getting everything out of storage, and generally recovering from submitting one novel before I begin a batch of scheduled re-writes on the next.

If I can spend just one week with my brain in neutral, I should be feeling much better by the end of it. But it's not exactly fertile blogging material, is it?

[ Discuss working too hard ]

posted at: 16:35 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 17 Jun 2004

I have a living room again

... much to my surprise.

To get it I near as dammit filled a roadside waste dumpster. But I now have a living room that actually feels like a living room.

Still to do: find somewhere sane to stash the bicycle and beer engines, strip the wallpaper left by the previous occupants (gosh, did I really move in nine years ago?), then plaster and re-paper. (This is rendered non-trivial by the wall of bookcases to empty, relocate, and re-fill during the exercise.) Then add new curtain rail and curtains, replace light fittings, add another thirty metres (minimum) of bookshelves, get the gas fire serviced, finish re-covering the sofa, and replace the fireplace surround. Finally, replace the (aged, decrepit and underused) A/V stack.

I think I know what my next advance is going to go on ... the trick is going to be not letting this chore list delay the book after that.

posted at: 16:10 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 15 Jun 2004

Excuse of the week
It's pretty pathetic, I know, but not much is happening right now that makes me want to blow off steam in my blog. I'm doing my best to stand by my promise (to myself) to swear off politics in the interests of lowering my blood pressure. I've had a bout of RSI in both hands so I've been trying to keep the keyboarding down. Feorag's in Berlin for two weeks -- this is probably our longest time apart for several years -- and I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to do some decorating and interior redesign. Or maybe spring cleaning.

I'm up to about twelve large waste sacks so far, I'm having heavy duty shelves installed in one closet to take a load of stuff that needs sorting, and I've just swapped the dining table (which was doing duty as a desk in my study) for the weird 70's scandinavian desk (which was supporting kipple in the living room). Hopefully that'll fix the wrist pains; they almost always hit me when I've been doing something silly posture-wise: usually when I've been sitting in a broken chair, but a desk at the wrong height would probably set it off, too.

Tomorrow it's time to get a friend in to strip the bedroom wallpaper and re-paint it while I move stuff from the living room into the newly-shelved closet and start thinking about installing another three metres of bookcases. You get the picture.

Obligatory plug: I've just finished reading Maul by Tricia Sullivan. I don't have the stamina to write a review right now; let's just say I agree with David Kennedy's summary: it's a lot of fun.

[Discuss books]

posted at: 14:12 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 05 Mar 2004


Excuse the infrequent updates this week; I'm finally over the chest bug I brought home from my trip to Boston, and I'm working hard trying to catch up with a deadline. 66,000 words down, 24,000-34,000 words to go ...

posted at: 12:26 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 10 Feb 2004

In Boston

... Where it is, perversely, a little bit warmer than Edinburgh.

Memo to self: in future, do not get the 6am flight to Schiphol when your departure for Boston doesn't board until 12:30pm; even the insane mad-shopper-magnet that is the Dutch airport mall tends to lose its attraction after three hours. (And I'm sure there was a later connecting flight that could have gotten us there in time.) As it is, I had the kind of day that starts when the alarm goes at 3:30am (after two or three hours' disturbed sleep) and ends at 11pm five time zones away (i.e. 4am in the zone you set out from). Consequently, if this entry is rambling and a bit incoherent, you'll know why. I'm one of those guys who can't pull an overnight stretch -- I begin hallucinating after about 24 hours of continuous consciousness, and came dangerously close last night.

Airport reading: If you like Scottish black humour and/or crime fiction, you really really want to read Be My Enemy by Christopher Brookmyre (not published in the US, so nyaah). Ignore the carping Amazon reviews, just buy the book: it's the best crime novel Iain Banks didn't write ...

Random observation: this time, the US immigration and customs officials I interacted with were polite, friendly, and generally helpful and efficient (utterly unlike their normal selves). In contrast, the Dutch airport security officials (who are normally polite, friendly, and generally helpful and efficient) were scarily paranoid and suspicious. Three security checks plus an interrogation before boarding a North West DC-10 seems a little heavy, and I wasn't being singled out for special treatment -- everyone was getting it. When the normally laid-back Dutch start getting paranoid, it's time to worry: someone has the wind up them about trans-Atlantic travel, and no mistake. Could this be why?

[Link][Discuss 9/11]

posted at: 14:57 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 08 Feb 2004

Off on a jet plane

I'm off to the airport at 4am tomorrow, heading for Boston by way of Amsterdam. I will not be back until the week after. I expect to have network connectivity for some of the trip; however, I may be a bit too busy to spend much time blogging.

[Discuss overwork]

posted at: 19:00 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 07 Feb 2004

More excuses

The blood test results came through: I am not, indeed, dying of Kuru or Rabies -- or indeed of anything, as far as the vet can tell. This would be good news, if I wasn't so far gone in existential despair that it made no difference to my state of mind. Instead I was up until half past two in the morning last night, discovering that indeed there is no hardware fault in my new Palm Tungsten T3, nor in the memory card, nor the keyboard, but instead the crappy excuse for a word processor has a tendency to undergo the computational equivalent of a grand mal convulsion when I append more than one hundred words of text to the draft of the current novel. Repeatedly.

(Solution: chop draft of novel into two files, back up regularly, grit teeth, and file a bug report.)

On Monday, Feorag and I are flying out at zero dark o'clock in the direction of Boston, by way of Amsterdam. (Must remember to take a bag of aniseed balls as pet treats for the sniffer dogs at Logan.) While I'm busy having a vacation (not to mention attending an SF con and various business meetings in NYC -- I don't do relaxing vacations, I relax afterwards when I get home again) I fully expect to be overcome by a frustrating wave of creative ambition, hampered by a profound lack of time, privacy, and non-crashing word processors. Experience shows that this is one of the most effective ways to jump-start a stalled writing process, a couple of weeks later: let's hope it doesn't mind being second-guessed.

[Discuss writing]

posted at: 11:06 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 04 Feb 2004

Excuses, excuses ...

"The cat ate my weblog."

Um, no ... how about:

"Phase of the moon (Neptunian)"

... or ...

"I would have written, but I was abducted by aliens and subjected to a long and humiliating ritual in which they repeatedly refused to insert icy-cold metal instruments into my body cavities, no matter how pathetically I pleaded with them"

... (eew! kinky!)

... or ...

"I'm waiting for the blood test to find out if I'm going to die of Kuru or Rabies or whatever it is that Kutting-Edge Writurz are dying of this decade"


Baah, humbug. The simple truth is, I haven't written anything because I'm lazy. Lazy: afflicted by a lassitude of obscure origin. Burned-out, tired, drained, enervated, out of go-juice, up shit creek without an outboard motor. Spinning my wheels, futtering around with computery things rather than doing anything productive. I need a vacation. It is slowly dawning on me that I have been working flat-out for the past three years, desperately trying to get established, and I just don't have the stamina of a teenager any more. , I have unforgivably neglected the weblog -- not to mention the novel I'm supposed to be writing -- for the past few days, because I'm stuck in a haze of gray exhaustion that nothing seems to lift.

That's not to say that there's nothing to report. Bruche Schneier's done another op-ed, explaining why monitoring ID doesn't assure security. And my story Nightfall made the final list for the 2003 BSFA award for best short fiction. But I can't actually summon up the energy to get worked up about anything today. So I'll shut up now until I've got something new to say.

[Discuss overwork]

posted at: 11:19 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

Quick links:

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Buy my books: (FAQ)

Missile Gap
Via Subterranean Press (US HC -- due Jan, 2007)

The Jennifer Morgue
Via Golden Gryphon (US HC -- due Nov, 2006)

Via (US HC -- due June 30, 2006)

The Clan Corporate
Via (US HC -- out now)

Via (US HC)
Via (US PB -- due June 27, 2006)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)
Free download

The Hidden Family
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)

The Family Trade
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Iron Sunrise
Via (US HC)
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Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)

The Atrocity Archives
Via (Trade PB)
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Via Golden Gryphon (HC)
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Singularity Sky
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Via (US ebook)
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Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

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