Charlie's Diary

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Thu, 28 Jul 2005

Worldcon schedule

Interaction, the 63rd world science fiction convention, takes place from next Thursday the 4th through to Moday the 8th of August, in Glasgow. I'm going to be there. If you want to see me, I'm going to be taking part in the following events:

Friday, 11am: Has SF Lost its Faith in Social Science?
With increased discussion of politics and economic systems in SF, are SF authors beginning to treat the social sciences with the same rigour as the hard sciences? Or do they continue to make stuff up, expecting the reader will demand less from the "soft" sciences?
Friday, 1pm: How do You Research Things that don't Exist?
What are the "rules" of vampires or fairies? And how do you justify departure from the rules?
Friday, 7pm: Pro-Am technobabble
Dave O'Neill and Paul Cray present an authors-vs-fans special of their long-running panel game for the hard-sf geek. Can you tell your warp coil from your wormhole generator - and more importantly, can you tell your glamourous assistant what the difference is?
Saturday, 11am: I have seen the digital future and it is full of fans
Once we were the proud and lonely few. But here in 2005, science fiction tropes are everywhere, and the interactions of the internet -- blogs, livejournals and so on -- feel like fanzines reinvented for the digital age. Except these days, everyone seems to be doing it. Our panel wonder if that means we're not special any more?
Saturday, 1pm: Autographing
Main autographing area
Saturday, 2:30pm: More authographing
This time at the Borderlands table in the dealer hall.
Saturday, 3:30pm
Sunday, 10am: AI: The aliens we make?
Aliens and AI are both Other, but where one comes from Out There, the other lives Down Here. Are they really the same thing -- and either way, what difference does it make?
Sunday, 12am: Genre killing ideas
Charlie Stross wrote "The Singularity is this enormous turd that Vernor Vinge crapped into the punchbowl of sf writing, and now nobody wanting to take a drink can ignore it." What other ideas have had the same effect on the genre?
Sunday, 5pm: Alternative technological history
What were the roads not taken in the development of science and technology? Could we have really had Babbage machines, steam motorcars or Betamax video?
Sunday, 7pm: Hugo awards
Monday, 10am: Needles in a Haystack, Finding the Fantastic in Stephenson's Baroque Cycle
A much-lauded SF writer and computer scientist writes a 3000-page meganovel on the emergence of the scientific method. Writes it with a fountain pen! But is the Baroque Cycle science fiction, or just fiction about science?

A couple of notes. Firstly, aside from the signing and the kaffeeklatsch these are panel discussions, and I didn't pick the topics (although I agreed to be on them). Secondly, I don't know where they are, yet – if you're there, check your program book. Thirdly, these aren't my only engagements – just the public ones. If you want to talk to me before or after one of these sessions please bear in mind that I might be rushing off to an appointment at the other end of the conference centre.

Finally, if you're going to the worldcon and haven't been to an SF convention before and want to see what your favourite authors look like in the flesh, you might want to glance at this helpful advice for how to behave around authors first. Of course I'm sure the readers of this weblog are all suave sophisticates who know this stuff already, but it never hurts to repeat the obvious.

Have a great worldcon!

[Discuss worldcons]

posted at: 22:39 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 11 Sep 2004

Quiet in here, isn't it?

I'm back in Boston, recovering from the past week or so.

First rule of worldcon-going, if you're a new writer, is to volunteer to be on lots of panels and do lots of signings and other Exciting Author Stuff. Work that turf, right? This is true up to a point (and if the con breaks even you might even get your membership fee back), but the Second rule is a bit less obvious: don't volunteer for too much. You will inevitably be booked up for lots of signings at obscure (and less obscure) dealer tables and bookstores, your editor will probably want to drag you out for lunch or dinner (this is a Business Meeting which means they get an excuse for living high on the hog at their employer's expense), and -- hell, just leave some time for sitting around relaxing and chatting to friends, or sightseeing, or going to parties, or something, right?

The second rule really kicks in when you are writing for Asimov's SF Magazine, have three book publishers, an agent (who also wants to do lunch in order to talk strategy), a couple of other editors who are publishing anthologies you're in or trying to get you to sell them a short story collection, and a sometime collaborator who is no less busy than you are, i.e. jumping around all over the place like a performing flea on crack. Volunteering for four hours of panels a day is a heavy but sustainable load -- if you have nothing else on your plate. If you're in demand, though, that basically means you're working 8-12 hours each and every day of something that's meant to be an enjoyable convention as well as a working event.

Anyway, Noreascon 4 zipped past me at about eighty miles per hour over the speed limit. I wouldn't say it wasn't fun, but the only things that got me through it were huge amounts of caffeine and somewhat more moderate amounts of beer. And right afterwards I zipped down to New York for three days of trudging around in the sweltering heat, having half a hurricane's worth of rain (excuse me, it's a tropical storm once the wind speed has dropped) dumped on me, and so on. The hotel booking was the first time has let me down badly: it is not a good thing when you arrive at the street address of the budget hotel to find that if you go up an obscure flight of stairs you find a handwritten note on the glass door of a tailor's shop saying CHECKIN HERE and nobody home. Luckily we had the prior offer of a spare bedroom (many thanks, Moshe!) so all was not lost, but it got us off to a bad start.

I'm not going to bore you with my New York travelogue (unless you want me to); suffice to say, if you've lived in London for a few years New York is basically the same application implemented on a different operating system (America 1.0). Manhattan has some truly wonderful architecture, but the effects at ground level -- everything scrunched up into the edges of canyon-like streets -- is rather less charming. Anyway, I did most of what I went there to do, and now I'm back in Boston (in the Marriott again) taking a couple of days to recover from the combination of worldcon and side-trip to New York. Hopefully I'll have something more interesting to talk about sooner rather than later ...


posted at: 16:15 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 05 Sep 2004

The Hugos

No, I didn't win one. But a good time was had by all. I'd write more, but I'm dog-tired and in the middle of the two busiest days of the con ... I guess a summary is in order, once I've got time to breathe and get my thoughts sorted.


posted at: 05:34 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 31 Aug 2004


Well, that's me packed. I even have some space in my luggage for purchases while in Boston and NYC. We're flying out tomorrow lunchtime (UK time -- about six in the morning US time) and should be arriving in Boston late enough to fall over.

I have a problem with travelling: I tend to spend almost as much time angsting about packing my bags and making sure I haven't forgotten anything as I actually do in transit. Which, on the face of it, doesn't make much sense, does it? After all, most of the stuff I need is readily available wherever I go: toiletries, a change of underwear, that sort of thing. I can theoretically live without a laptop for a couple of weeks -- a PDA with a working email account should be an acceptable substitute, and it's not as if I've ever gotten a significant amount of writing done while travelling -- but nevertheless I always travel as if I expect the muse to descend and sit on my shoulder yelling orders through a megaphone.

After all this effort I've got a bad habit of getting departure dates and times wrong. (This time around I was lucky -- I thought I was flying out on Tuesday, not remembering that the 1st of September was a Wednesday.)

Now I just have to hope it all goes smoothly ...


posted at: 17:56 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 29 Aug 2004


I'm not going to be spending much time at home over the next month. On Wednesday the 1st, we're flying out to Boston for the worldcon; we should be home on the 14th, but only two days later we're off for a weekend in London, and two days after that I'm off again to visit relatives. Relatives having been visited I get almost a week off duty to wash my clothes and clean up the dust before going to a wedding at the other end of the country followed in rapid succession by a speaking engagement outside the country.

Meanwhile, it occurs to me that some folks who're reading this weblog will also be at Noreascon 4, and in the interests of not appearing rude this would be a good place to note down the times when I won't be available for small-talk. If you see me at the con, by all means introduce yourself and feel free to chat; I'm generally gregarious. If I run away, please don't take it personally -- it's just that I'm working about thirty hours over the five-day period and I probably have to be somewhere else. In particular:

Wednesday 1st
You might spot me in the Marriott in the evening, but be aware that I've just arrived after travelling for 16 hours and I am likely to be asleep on my feet.
Thursday 2nd
I'm busy (apart from brief gaps) from about 2pm through 7pm.
Friday 3rd
Easier to say when I'm not busy -- between 2 and 4pm, and between 7 and 8pm. If you catch me on Friday, don't be surprised if I'm trying to grab lunch or dinner.
Saturday 4th
I'm logjammed from 11am through 9pm. This is a bad day to stop me for a chat.
Sunday 5th
Free before 11am. Free from 12 noon through 5pm, as long as you don't mind me sitting at a table signing books or are willing to sign yourself up for the literary beer at 3pm.
Monday 6th
Free all day except between 11am and 2pm. Which means I'll be trying to actually, like, experience the con as a con-goer rather than a performing seal.
Tuesday 7th
Yes, I know the worldcon ended on Monday. But I'll still be there, and apart from the fact that it's Feorag's birthday (with attendant wining and dining) I should have a lot more time to talk.

In summary: on Wednesday, I arrive. Thursday's busy, but I should be approachable in the evening. Friday's particularly busy, and Saturday's timetable is absolutely hellish. Sunday's schedule is a bit more laid-back, and on Monday I might even have time to enjoy the con a bit. If you try to say "hi" on Friday or Saturday and I flee, it's not personal -- I'm just singing for my supper.


posted at: 11:32 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 24 Aug 2004

Decompression time

I'm beginning to decompress, now the rewrite is finally out of the way.

I guess that demands some explanation. When I'm working on a novel I don't (usually) sit down at the word processor at 9am, start writing, and clock off at 5pm. I'm much more likely to crawl out of bed at 10:30am, yawn, switch the kettle on, sit down at the word processor, and check my mail -- then spend the next hour or two web surfing and absorbing caffeine until I feel human. Then I start to write, and if things go well I stop writing when I've temporarily run out of words, my hands begin to hurt, or Feorag threatens me with physical violence if I don't discuss what we're going to have for supper. If things don't go well I generally spend much more time checking my email, poking around the web, posting (and reading) on one discussion forum or another, hoovering the living room, and seeking a Clue as to what I should write.

(This isn't very systematic. But if you can show me a way to systematize creativity I'll give you a billion dollars, and consider myself to have got the best out of the deal.)

There is, however, one constant feature of my life when I'm in writing mode: I'm thinking about the novel to a greater or lesser extent all the time I'm awake. Feorag describes me as being "on Planet Charlie": absent-minded, obsessive, not always responsive to important external stimuli. The rate at which I extrude words isn't necessarily directly proportional to the time I spend sitting at the keyboard -- it's proportional to the rate at which I have ideas or otherwise think my way around the maze that the plot imposes on my creativity. (Writing without at least some reference points, some idea of where I'm coming from and where I'm going, is a bad idea because I can change direction three times in a day: but writing a detailed outline doesn't always help either, because what looks great in outline doesn't always work at ten times the length.)

Putting a novel together is a bit like a cross between digging a ditch and assembling an immense jigsaw puzzle. The ditch-digging is the raw back-work of putting words in a row; the jigsaw puzzle is the art of matching up where the words and sentences should go. In first draft, ditch-digging predominates; in second and subsequent, the jigsaw puzzle comes to the fore. Maybe I should use a programming metaphor and talk about design, coding, and debugging, but that's a bit less of a universal experience -- still, it amounts to much the same.

Anyway: decompression. Decompression starts shortly after I email the manuscript to my editor and get a reply saying "that opened okay". It begins when I manage to internalize the sense that actually I've finished the thing and I don't need to obsessively focus on it any more. Sometimes it doesn't begun until I've overrun and written ten thousand words of sequel before forcing myself to stop. Sometimes I end up using up the energy to write a short story or novella. But there comes a time when I can stretch, blink stupidly, and think, why on earth am I sitting in front of this computer when I just finished the job?

("Because you're already planning the next one, stupid!")

Anyway, now I've handed the thing in, I can decompress a bit and get a life -- for at least a few days, until I have to get on a plane and head for Boston. I've just finished updating my schedule so that in addition to the panels I'm on, it includes little things like lunch dates with editors, unofficial book signings, and parties. And it peaks, on the Saturday at the worldcon, with a nine-hour day (before we get to go to the Hugo Loser's Party).

Decompress? Hah! The only decompression time I'm really going to get is on the airliner from Frankfurt to Boston, in an economy class seat (where there will be insufficient room to pull out a laptop and no internet bandwidth to speak of).

[Discuss conjose]

posted at: 20:24 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 13 Aug 2004

Noreascon 4

I'll be at Noreascon 4 next month, barring emergencies. If you want to see me, here's my provisional schedule (subject to change, does not list lunch engagements/parties, contents may settle during shipping, etcetera):

Thursday 2:00pm
Great (New!) British SF and Fantasy
Thursday 4:00pm
The Singularity and the Eschaton: Compare and Contrast
Friday 11:00am
Friday 1:00pm
Reading (0.5 hrs)
Friday 4:00pm
The Future of the News Media (may change)
Friday 5:00pm
Drunk on Technology?
Saturday 11:00am
Asimov's SF signing
Saturday 3:00pm
Novels You Write/Novels You Talk about in Bars
Saturday 5:00pm
Postcapitalist Social Mechanisms
Sunday 11:00am
Low Budget Independent SF Films
Sunday 12:00
Sunday 3:00pm
Literary Beer
Sunday 5:00pm
The Pains (and Promises) of Rejection Slips
Monday 11:00am
Obsolete High Technology
Monday 1:00pm
Hitting "the Wall"

As noted, all of the above is subject to change. If you want to schedule some time with me and don't have my email address, use my contact form to send me a message.

[Link] [Discuss worldcons]

posted at: 18:40 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 17 Feb 2004

Back home again

Apologies for the lack of updates; I was too busy to write anything much while I was at Boskone, and we flew back yesterday on a red-eye via Amsterdam. I've been home for about five hours now. I'm sitting in front of the laptop wearing a dressing gown and drinking improbably strong tea (the current caffeine source of choice), having just awakened from a post jet-lag nap, and in another five or six hours I will take a sleeping pill, and when I wake up again I should be back on something approximating UK time. (West to east flight always hits me much harder than east to west.)

My impressions from this trip are mixed, but mostly positive. For one thing, it's been a bit of a relief to confirm that despite the weirdness-and-despair amplifier that is the mass media, people in the United States are in fact still basically sane ordinary folks and haven't turned into some kind of slavering jackbooted Borg oriented on grinding the planet beneath the iron boot-heel of totalitarian oppression.

Maybe that statement warrants some explanatory notes, because on the face of it it probably sounds really weird to anyone who lives in the United States. But I haven't actually been in the US since February '03, before the Iraq war, so I've had to rely for my impressions of what's been going on there recently on a combination of email to and from friends, blog postings, and of course the mass media.

Now, the mass media generally amplifies Bad Shit because Bad Shit makes for much better copy than cute fluffy puppy dogs and other happy fun non-events. The absence of Mad People Doing Terrible Things doesn't exactly help sell newspapers, so newspapers focus on the Bad Shit to such an extent that it skews our impressions of the state of the world. And while I know in an abstract way that the media amplifies Bad Shit, and I consciously try to bear this in mind, there's been an awful lot of Bad Shit reported over the past year and the effect of such reporting is pernicious: if you live outside the USA you may well get this weird subliminal impression that the United States is on the edge of turning into some kind of weird postmodern fascist nightmare.

Paradoxically, what set me at ease was discovering that most of the people I hung out with (unregenerate east coast liberals, for the most part) were also terrified that the USA was turning into a weird postmodern fascist nightmare. I found this very reassuring. It reminded me that the USA is huge, and diverse, and while sections of it seem to have gone completely barking mad, other very large sections are not only not crazy, they're fighting back against the bad craziness. Which does exist, but which gets amplified by the Bad Shit amplifier -- especially overseas. What's really going on in the US seems in UK terms to be more like Thatcher circa 1979-83 than Hitler circa 1933-36. Which is a relief, because although Thatcher was a peculiar kind of political monster, she was one that could be dealt with by political means, rather than needing to be subdued by the use of extremely large numbers of guns.

Another thing I needed was my annual reminder of just how parochial the US news media are. Today's half-baked theory: America's view of the rest of the world can best be understood by a European if you start by imagining that America is psychologically located on Mars, fifty million plus kilometres from the quaint neighbours on that funny third planet over there. The quality and quantity of foreign news reporting is absolutely dismal for the most part, highly selective, and framed entirely in terms of the domestic political discourse. ("Political crisis rocks Ruritania! How opinion of US tourists affects balance of power between Ruritanian Royal Family, Junta!") It reminded me of how badly we in the UK need the BBC -- not because the BBC is always right, or always unbiased, or always insightful, but because it provides a reference baseline for the quality and quantity of foreign news reportage in the other media, and the BBC's charter includes the clause "to educate".

In the US, I saw precious few signs of a committment to education in foreign affairs outside of a few major broadsheet newspapers and weekly or monthly magazines aimed at a core readership of foreign policy wonks. I can't help feeling that this has contributed to the psychological sense of insulation that keeps people in the US half-believing that the rest of the world either doesn't exist, or is an annoying obstruction created solely to get in their way. Its the News, Stupid. If your sources of information are skewed and corrupt, you make policy decisions based on ignorance. It's a much simpler explanation for the bad craziness that has engulfed us since 9/11 than the conspiracy theories that are doing the rounds: and more importantly, it suggests a solution to the problem.

Anyway. After a year of bad headlines and paranoia amplification, it was a big relief to discover that everyone I ran into was still basically sane, that the Customs, INS, and Homeland Security functionaries I dealt with were uniformly friendly, efficient, courteous and helpful, that (with the exception of the pocket Himmlers in charge of office security in New York -- a city understanably still deep in collective post-traumatic stress disorder) people were basically no crazier than anywhere else, and that my main problems were dodging the monster trucks on the crosswalks and trying not to overrun my baggage allowance due to the strength of the pound against the dollar. I will freely concede that I might have been the victim of some kind of Stalinist Potemkin-village facade organized by evil masterminds from the Office of Special Projects, but something tells me that what evil exists in the US administration is more interested in trying to rig the forthcoming elections in Iraq and elsewhere than in trying to dupe visiting British science fiction writers.

(Obligatory gadget interjection: right now, for no reason I understand except a surfeit of greed and stupidity on the part of UK retailers, portable DVD players sell for a price in pounds sterling equal to their price in the USA in dollars. At an exchange rate of nearly 1:1.9, I'd have to have been an idiot not to bring one home.)

Of course, not everything was great.

I have a huge gripe about my week in Boston: the air conditioning. New England in February is cold enough to freeze almost all the moisture out of the air, and the Boston Sheraton has an air conditioning system from hell -- it has temperature control, but no humidity control. The place is dryer than high noon in Death Valley. Even worse, all the hotel staff seem to think that exposure to temperatures below 75 degrees fahrenheit -- 23 celsius or thereabouts -- is liable to cause hypothermia. In a vain attempt to chill out, I dialed the temperature in our room down to 16.5 celsius (63 fahrenheit), as low as it would go ... and the next day discovered two things: firstly, that despite the exterior temperature being several degrees south of freezing, the aircon, wheezing its guts out as it ran constantly, couldn't actually cool the room down to that temperature: and secondly, the maid had added a thermal blanket to the bedding, presumably in an attempt to keep us from catching our death of cold.

The combination of high temperatures, dry air, and nylon carpet was literally electrifying. Feorag wore a charm bracelet and I constantly kept a coin in my fingers: we had to earth ourselves against metal fixtures and fittings every time we walked more than ten metres, leading to a startling succession of crackling bright sparks. After five days of this, my sinuses came out in protest and I succumbed to a head-cold from hell, which started in my nose and ended up on my chest just in time for the flight home. I'm used to about forty percent relative humidity, and indoor temperatures around 17-18 celsius; life in an arid Van de Graaf generator disguised as a five star hotel doesn't suit me.

Which finally brings me full circle to my current situation, sitting tiredly in my office chair in front of a computer, drinking tea and revelling in air I can breathe without feeling as if I'm inhaling from the nozzle of a hair dryer. It must be my Innsmouth heritage showing -- I need humidity to survive. And so I depart in search of more strong tea and a nice bath to relax in. Normal blogging will be resumed shortly. Ribbit.

[Discuss politics] [Discuss SF fandom]

posted at: 17:18 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 14 Feb 2004

"Robots are just computers with feet"

(That's what the panelist from IBM said.)

Yeah, I survived the side-trip to NYC and I'm back in Boston, enjoying an SF convention. Which is why I'm not writing much right now. NYC was interesting, a bit like the worst elements of London and Glasgow thrown together in a car crusher and, well, squished. (Officious, intrusive, downright annoying, and dysfunctional security on the front door of all the office buildings I went into; just what is it with these people? I could understand real security, but when they insist you put your fistful of change back in your pocket before you walk through the metal detector, and the damn thing doesn't so much as beep at a concentration of metal that weighs as much as a knife or a small pistol, you've got to wonder what the hell is the point of this charade?)

Oh yeah. I am shipping books home in boxes to avoid going over my airline baggage limit. Memo to self: buy new bookcases, plural.

posted at: 19:42 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 01 Oct 2003

I'm back

And normal service will be resumed right as soon as I finish writing up this months' Linux column for Computer Shopper. (Sigh.)

Dublin defeated expectations by resolutely refusing to rain, at least for more than a couple of hours at a time. P-Con itself was thoroughly enjoyable, and I hope to be going back next year. But right now I've got a big work backlog to cope with, not to mention a to-do list that includes upgrading Blosxom (this weblog's software), MailMan, SSH, Movable Type, and most of the software universe on this server -- then to remove the blanket ban on large emails and replace it with a smart vermifuge filter in the mail system, edit a novel, write a novella, and generally overdo things. One day at a time ... just so I know where I am I'm going to take to posting work quotas here.

(Today's work quota: 3100 words of non-fiction, 0 words of fiction, as of 3:25pm. And I'm about to go shopping.)

posted at: 15:26 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 25 Sep 2003

Off to P-Con

I'm off to P-Con in Dublin tomorrow morning for the weekend. Normal service will be resumed when I return (next Wednesday).

[P-Con ] [ Discuss Conventions ]

posted at: 20:50 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 04 Sep 2003

Jetlagged in Leith

Well, I'm back and I'm mostly on UK time again. (I don't pull overnighters well and I'm really bad at dealing with west-to-east jetlag -- I was on Toronto time the morning after I arrived, but took a full 24 hours to readjust to being in the UK.)

The flight tickets sorted themselves out just in time for the trip -- thanks to Fearghas for putting me in touch with the travel agent, who had gone on vacation but was still in business. Weirdly, despite the angst and tooth-grinding before the trip the flights themselves went incredibly smoothly, despite me hatching a head-cold the day before departure. (As a result of which I spent the first couple of days of the worldcon half-deaf and in the odd stupid-but-hyper headspace that comes of dosing up on pseudoephedrine.)

In the dealer room at Torcon 3 I ran across a badge which I felt compelled to buy. It says, I love being a writer -- I just don't like the paperwork. This is particularly apt, considering that I'm just now getting my teeth into the last financial year's accounts: either I've gotten a lot more fanatical about hanging onto receipts or I'm buying a lot more junk, but it looks to me as if this year I'll be sending a mammoth spreadsheet to the accountant. (I could just send him the raw receipts, and he'd take them, but then I'd get a bill for about triple the rate he's currently charging. Tedium or money, what's it worth to you? My time costs less than my accountant's, which is why I'm doing the job myself.)

I did not win a Hugo. That's okay -- I didn't expect to. (Not winning a Hugo is a lot easier, the second time around.)

Toronto is a really nice city, at least on first acquaintance. I wish I'd been able to book a longer stay. It had all the advantages of any American city, but without giving me the sense of subliminal weirdness I get wherever I go in the USA. There's something about the United States, a subtle sense of manifest destiny combined with cultural and political assumptions that are totally alien, that stops me from feeling I can relax and take things for granted. Toronto, in contrast, I felt comfortable with: the kind of place I could see myself living.

It struck me, while I was out there, that exposure to the internet has gradually reduced my attention span to that of an amphetamine-crazed ferret. I am reading more than ever before, but fewer books, and less is sticking. It's time to strictly limit my daily webtime and start making headway on the to-read bookcase I've been steadily accumulating through buying books faster than I can read them for the past couple of years. This decision is, in part, prompted by the discovery that last year I bought a whole shelf-length of books back from ConJose, and this year I've repeated the exercise, and I've only read half of last years' load.

Pride of place in the things-I-found-in-the-Torcon-dealer-room goes to a whole ton of goodies from Apogee Books. Apogee are in the process of publishing a metric ton of NASA mission transcripts, from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and STS programs -- they also do books on such diverse subjects as DynaSoar (the X-20 spaceplane of the 1960's), Russian space projects, and planetary probes. If/when I get it together to do the hard-SF novel about the Russian Mars fly-by mission of 1967-69, this (along with Encyclopaedia Astronautica) is critical reference material. Especially the two-CD set of all the NASA Mercury, Gemini and Apollo mission transcripts.

Next, there's "The Strange Case of Dr Mabuse: A study of the twelve films and five novels", by David Kalat. It's a scholarly survey of the diabolical Doctor Mabuse, master criminal and man of mystery, a bad guy as well known to continental audiences as Count Dracula or Doctor von Frankenstein's creation.

And finally, I picked up a shedload of fiction, including Barry Hughart's complete works in one volume and the famous but hard-to-find "Scream for Jeeves".

Resolution for the new year: read this lot before next year's worldcon. And try to actually stick some book reviews on this weblog. I know you want them, really ...

[ Discuss conjose ]

posted at: 18:14 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 03 Sep 2003

I'm back

And jetlagged as fuck.

Normal blogging will be resumed after approximately one sleep cycle ...

posted at: 12:49 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 30 Aug 2003

Sunny Toronto

Sorry it's taken me so long to surface; I've been kind of busy.

Our flight out went without a hitch, we arrived in Toronto on schedule, managed to stay up on Tuesday night until a sensible hour, and transitioned to local time without any headaches. It would all have been great if I hadn't come down with a vicious head-cold the day before spending nine hours in one or another aluminium can scrabbling its way laboriously across the stratosphere.

Wednesday we spent bumming around town, gawping at sights and doing some shopping. Toronto has one single street -- its name escapes me -- which is to dressmaking fabric and trim about as content-rich as Amsterdam and London put together, and I've got a feeling Feorag's luggage is going to be overweight on the way home. Copious small Japanese and Chinese shopping malls, weird high-rise architecture, polite drivers who don't try to run down the pedestrians at every opportunity, a weird subterranean rat-run of malls ...

Anyway. I'm now stuck in the middle of this here worldcon. And my time is not my own. So I'm just snatching a few minutes here to say I'm still alive, capable of blogging, and by the way, has anyone else noticed the eerie similarities between the adolescence and young adulthoods (up to 1919) of Fritz Lang and Adolf Hitler?

(Oh yeah -- one other thing. If you are at Torcon 3 and run into myself and Feorag, try to remember that the wedding congrats are optional. It all happened some time ago ...)

[ Discuss conjose (yes, I know this was last year's topic -- I believe in recycling) ]

posted at: 16:18 | path: /fandom | permanent link to this entry


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Free download

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

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

Iron Sunrise
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)

The Atrocity Archives
Via (Trade PB)
Via (Trade PB)
Via Golden Gryphon (HC)
Via (HC)
Via (HC)

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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