Monday, August 02, 2021

52 Days Dry

Many years ago, when I was sixteen, the landlord of our local pub came down for a weight-training session with my brothers and I in my parent’s garage. It came out that it was my birthday, whereupon he said, ‘I didn’t hear that’. I’d been having the occasional beer in there from the age of 14, and the quantity had increased over the next year once I got a weekend job. From that point on I was a drinker. Pubs were where I went, playing pool and darts and chugging back booze. In my late 30s I hit the point of having a few blackouts from booze – around about the time Stella Artois and Diamond White arrived. When I hooked up with Caroline, pubs ceased to be so interesting, but the boozing continued at a lower level at home. It increased again when I entered the publishing world and my first editor introduced me to good red wines. But I drank everything: bottles of whisky, gin and tonics at one time out of pint glasses, sherry, craft beers – name it and I’ve drunk it. When we got our place on Crete even more drinking kicked in: chilled white wines, Metaxa, raki included with all the above.


This continued for a few years but, as with smoking, I was starting to feel the negative effects. With smoking I started with unfiltered roll-ups, moved to filtered when I started to get chest pains in my 30s, then in my 40s tried giving up or delaying the first cigarette with NRT when the pains returned. By the time I was in my fifties I was using inhalers often and perpetually fighting to stop. All change occurred when Caroline got ill and died. We found ecigs and were quitting – a hiccup in that occurring while she was dying. After that I went back on ecigs pretty much full time – barring occasional depressive episodes. The drink I stopped directly after the cremation because it seriously exacerbated depression and anxiety. I started walking then to ameliorate that too – going from a few miles a day to 7 or 8 miles a day. In that first year I walked over 3,000 miles. 

As the depression and anxiety faded, the booze oozed back. A year and a half after the death, I experienced ‘delayed onset grief’ and stopped it again. This finally passed and I went back to it but at a fairly low level. I was also doing a lot for my health. I was still walking a lot, I started weight training, on Crete I would often swim for miles over a week and I took up ocean kayaking and now, in the summer, do 10Km every day. I experimented with fasting, fisetin megadosing, nootropics and supplements. For three years I stopped going to Crete and during that time had a non-drinking girlfriend so pretty much stopped then too. Returning again, I started sliding back into my old habits. I knew now it was stupid; that the hangovers were getting longer and that I certainly must be damaging my body. It was ridiculous that I was doing so much good for my health then screwing it with this one habit. 


For the last couple of years I recorded how much I drank and frowned at the result in my journal. It was pretty much constant – periods of more than a week sober being rare. This year, in the middle of last month, I went out on the kayak then came back and had a beer. I didn’t enjoy it – in fact for some time my enjoyment of it had been diminishing. Instead of beer I next had a glass of red wine because, well, that’s what drinkers do. This then proceeded into three half-litre carafes of wine. Over the next three days I felt like shit: depressed and anxious, acid stomach, no motivation etc. And once again I laughed hollowly at my ‘never again’ attitude. However, this time it stuck. I recorded the days of zero alcohol. A week later I had a severe stomach upset – 3 days of diarrhoea lost me 5 kilos of weight. Everyone said it was a bug but, reading up on this, I discover an interesting fact. You perpetually damage your guts with alcohol. When you stop they start healing and this can result in precisely what I had. For a few days I had periods of low mood at about the time I would usually have had a drink. That passed and I just kept stacking up the days.


One thing that had been holding me back from doing this was that I kayaked from a beach bar – Revans. What would I drink there? Fruit juice is bad for you and I had convinced myself that it was equivalent to drinking beer in terms of negative effects. This was bollocks, as I was soon to learn. I drink melon juice, cold coffee, orange juice and soda water. The visit to my favourite restaurant the Gabbiano worried me, but turned out to be fine: I drank water. I also learned that Marco – the guy who serves the booze – hasn’t touched it in years. Today, I will be writing in my journal ’52 days zero alcohol’, and now it’s time to talk about the results of that.


Last year I got incredibly itchy skin on my arms and shoulders – an itch so intense I could have stuck a knife in it to make it go away. This year it had started again. I of course researched this and connected it with sun damage and maybe pinched nerves in my back from kayaking. Funny how we delude ourselves. After a week of no booze it went away and has not returned. Pretty obvious really, the itchy skin liver connection. I also used to get a lot of spots on my back and shoulders. They have faded away. I often suffered from a bloated belly. It’s all but disappeared. I often suffered with insomnia and would wake in the early hours of the morning, then struggle to get some more sleep after being up for an hour or two. That’s stopped. I sleep for six to seven hours straight through. Frequent urination as of a prostate problem has gone away too. I’ve got my shit together. Sorry, it is what it is: clear distinct turds in the toilet bowl water rather than dissolving cow pats. I have more energy, every day.

Other effects have been on mood. Anxiety and depression have been with me for years. I would have periods of low mood and low motivation I normally cracked with exercise. They still occur but are less frequent now. Anxiety always took an opportunity to rise. Just doing my accounts and dealing with mail from my accountant would bring it up along with a reluctance to face doing what needed to be done. This is simply disappearing. I just get on with things and have gained perspective on it all. Why the fuck am I worrying about paying more tax and getting involved in more tax complications when they’re actually the result of me earning more and more year on year? My thinking is a lot clearer. This is also having an effect on the writing, on learning Greek, on dealing with shit. I’m writing more, I’m learning more, I feel like I’m making progress and not spending time alleviating the pain of existence. I feel a lot stronger both physically and mentally.

Of course now I must do the ‘however’ though it is probably not the one you would expect. In some respects here correlation is not causation. When I didn’t like that beer in Revans and when I stopped after those three carafes of wine, was I already undergoing the mental changes I detail above? I’ve been watching self-motivation/lifestyle videos on You Tube as a result of dissatisfaction with my life as it is. Maybe a portion of the mood effects are connected to that – not all of them. Maybe the time for change had simply arrived. But I cannot deny the physical effects. 

Anyway, I will continue. I am not going to bang the temperance tambourine and say I’m never drinking again. I’ll just say that I am a work in progress.

Cheers!     


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Where to find 'Snow in the Desert'.

It’s really great to see the reaction to Snow in the Desert in Love, Death and Robots on Netflix – brings home to me that many fans are as invested in my work as me, if not more so. When I saw it (Tim Miller sent me a link to watch it early) I initially noticed the holes, since it has been abridged to fit into the 15 minute slot. I hadn’t expected that. It has been years since I read the story, maybe decades, and I expected to feel about it as I did about the first season of Altered Carbon: couldn’t remember the story so just enjoyed the ride. But it seems that having written Snow it’s somehow imprinted on my back-brain. It took subsequent viewings for me to fully appreciate what had been done: the superb production values, the detail and the captured essence. I would still like it to be longer because certain elements of the story really needed longer to soak in. But, as ever, I go back to the dictum that no matter what film producers do with my stuff, the stuff itself will always exist in written form. And fuck: one of my short stories on the TV – available to 200+ million subscribers!


Part of the reaction to it has been from people who simply haven’t read the story, or have maybe forgotten that they had. This story has been around for a long time – written when the Polity was just starting to form out of my short stories. My recollection is vague but I do know that I wrote most of it in one long session doing about 7,000 words in one day. I’m pretty sure I did it before I wrote Gridlinked so sometime prior to 2000 – maybe the early 90s or late 80s. It was first published in 2002 and I’ve had to take a look at my website to remind me of where and when: 


SNOW IN THE DESERT
: (11,000 words) Snow is an albino, immortal, very dangerous, and someone wants his bollocks. Spectrum SF 8 (2002), David G Hartwell’s & Kathryn Cramer’s Year’s Best SF 8 (June 2003). 

It was subsequently published in the Czech SF magazine Ikarie – maybe a year or so after this. If you want to read it, it can be found in my collection from Macmillan The Gabble.


It can also be found as a ‘shortread’ on Amazon for 99p

 


Here are some of the comments on the TV version on the first day of airing:

Martin Finkelmeier
Ok that was awesome, now i just want more... spatterjay series would be awesome in this quality.

Steve Bland
Finally sat down with Love, Death and Robots S2.Totally not long enough lol. We need that animation quality and The Skinner (or Gridlinked).

Peter Nock
Was good but too short! I also wanted to see more of the crab birds!
 
Hugh Bourne
Bloody loved Snow! Don’t want to post any spoilers but the animation and rendering were frankly breathtaking. Waaaay to short as well. I would love to read the original story…. Is it available somewhere?
 
Grant Bourdot
Watched "Love, Death and Robots," (part 2) last night. Thoroughly enjoyed it! All the episodes! "Snow in the Desert", although they've shortened an already short story, was excellent! Having read it before and an inside knowledge of the "Polity Universe," enhanced the experience. Kudos!
 
Hans Jorgensen
It was amazing!
 
Michael Diamond
Just saw it. Enjoyed it! Great story and they did a great job putting it on the screen!
 
Richard Hands
Loved it Neal, thank you 👍
 
Aaron Spuler
Watched it this afternoon! I can see that things were left out from the short story, but it was nicely done. I enjoyed it
 
Nick Clarke
Really great to see your writing up there on the screen. What a great 50th birthday present for me! I knew it would translate well, and loved seeing a peek of that familiar universe made flesh, so to speak. Onwards & upwards Neal, thank you! 🙂

Russell Ess
Finally watched it tonight. Loved it - and there were parts where I was truly unsure I was watching CG.
 
Bill Crane
Watched it all. Will watch a few more times.
 
Thomas Morris III
Excellent short! They did a good job on the story. 
Congratulations!
 
James Brooke-Cowden
Well done mate - watched it - loved it (was there ever any doubt) - fantastic adaptation, made easier by the rich source material - your stuff looks good on the screen, Mr Asher!
 
David Nelson
Just watched Snow in the Desert. Not bad at all. 👍
 
Darren Hickmott
I think as a fan i was kinda predisposed to enjoy it, but fuck me that was good 🙂
 
Andrew Quinto Venn
Loved 'Snow...' but couldn't help thinking of Monty Python's Black Knight at one point. "Tis just a flesh wound"
 
Philip P Talbot
Just finished watching Snow In The Desert episode of Love, Death + Robots and was very impressed with the way it was interpreted into video form. Makes me want to watch Ian Cormac et al on the big screen...
 
Adam Fairchild
I’d love to go get a bite someplace & something great like Snow is on the screens instead of boring sports.
 
Gilbert Miller
I just watched Snow. Great piece. 
Congrats
 
Josh Hayes
Neal, just watched it. I loved the story! Very well done, sir!
 
Henry Wolfe
Watched Snow, I think they did a great job, they especially captured the Asher brutality of the weapons, no Geneva Convention in the Polity it would seem with limbs being blown off etc, still it is as in the books - good job.
 
Adrian Kelland
I enjoyed it, over too soon though. Sigh 🙂. I've read the story and having seen the animation, I can see why Tom Cruise thought it would make a longer film. Great animation. I wonder if it might lead to more Polity animations. I hope so.
 
Alan Bret Wolf
I’m planning my entire evening around this....
Making a T bone steak with Brussels.....
Lights low
Sound system on
 
Bill Crane
Watched it, now I have to read the story.
Michael Dirk Thalman
My pal, Neal Asher , who just happens to be one of the top sci-fi authors of our time, has a story that's been adapted for the new season of Love, Death, and Robots.
Good on you, Neal. That's awesome 😎
Edited: his story/episode is Snow on the Desert
 
Daniel Habib
I can't get over it, it was too awesome. More please.
 
Tony Brown
Just watched it, brilliant, we must have more Asher on the screen.
 
Steve Maller
Good production values too.
 
Martin Dudley
I hadn't read the story, but this was great.
 
Nik Long
More! Very impressed!
 
Eric Jones
That’s was a pretty good adaptation and I don’t think it takes away from the original story. Congrats, it was great!
 
Greg Wright
Just finished it. Stellar as usual. For the fucking life of me I can't figure why someone like Neflix or Amazon doesn't pick up the Polity Universe. Like, for the love of God pick ANY book.
 
James Devine
It’s awesome, really hope it catches some streaming exec’s eye- the Polity needs to be on screen!
 
Tony Sinai
Excellent series. Original content and superb Production.
 
Jools Enticknap
Wow, just wow 🙂 Watched it this morning.
 
James McCormick
Just finished watching yours. 🙂
 
Jools Enticknap
Looking forward to see this more often (y) Masons rats next please.... pretty please.
 
Matt Lucas
Yes, nailed it.

ckolonn
Awesome on all counts.

Jon (Sullivan - previous cover artist for my books)
Neal Snow in the Desert was fucking awesome. Congrats. At last they have noticed. Now lets hope they have the guts to take it to the next level.
 QUALITY!


Scott Steensma
Enjoy! I watched Harlan Ellison's one too, and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest.

NDC2018
#snowinthedesert #polity #earthcentral Wow … found myself grinning and going oh yes… golem chassis, ceramal, golem 28 style with a Memcrystal… was hoping for an attack ship to drop its chameleon ware as its powered away from watching over…

steve f
Just watched Love,death and Robots adaptation of Snow in the Desert. Bit short but must say I was impressed. Didn't realise they had done it but soon as I started the episode I knew it was yours.

jacqui 
@netflix and @nealasher go well together. Just watched Snow in the Desert, which makes a very good short film of a dystiopian future? Let's have more.

Steve Hearne
Really enjoyed Snow In The Desert. It must be daunting to capture the atmosphere you create in your writing and all the details you add to build the world but they did a great job building the tension and told the story well given the time constraint. Looked damn cool too!

D McNamara
Really liked it. Good adaptation. Is it weird that Snow looked familiar?

Andrew ten Broek
Just finished watching it myself, very awesome to see how they adapted it for this series!

Harlow Smith·
An excellent adaptation, if a little abridged. And like I’ve always said, animation is the only way to do justice to space opera.

Dennis Hinkson
Of course it was too short but I loved it.. Animation and writing team did great work..

AlistairC
Four episodes of #LoveDeathAndRobots down. Highlight so far was "Snow in the Desert" based on the work of @nealasher. "Pop squad" comes up second.

KJ Mulder - Worlds in Ink
Finished LOVE, DEATH AND ROBOTS S2. Way too short. Not as many stories that hit the mark for me, but the 3 that did was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! SNOW IN THE DESERT - Does
@nealasher
's universe much deserved justice. ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE - Christmas will never be the same.

Jeremy BLAIN
It's excellent . Just watched it and loved the look and feel of it. Think they did a good job there. You happy with it Neil?

Living on planet Swearth
Ok, that was brilliant!! So many little teases to the Polity and I wish it’d been longer! If they ever adapt more books, this would be the perfect way to do so!
@nealasher
what do we have to do to get it done?!?

Paul 
Just watched it and wow!!!!. Did cheer when I head 'Earth Central' mentioned. Also the animation is fantastic, so much detail but loved it when the birds covered up during the day.

LubertDas
I've only watched Snow in the Desert so far, but it appears to me that Snow is the most realistically animated episode, and it's featured a LOT in the trailer. I'm so happy to see that they did such a good job adapting your story.
I just watched the Snow in the Desert episode of Love Death + Robots, and it was incredible! The animation was so incredibly realistic! I thought they did an outstanding job of translating the kinetic action of a Neal Asher story to the screen. What's next?!?!?!

TRV2
Snow's lover looked totally real. Animation was amazing.

Herman Adriani
@nealasher brilliant story again for @netflix #lovedeathandrobots2 “snow in the desert”

freegnu
Binge watched the whole season. Good to see your work on the screen.

Emil van Dam
Currently watching it and it’s awesome!

M.T. Preston, Jr. 
Thoroughly enjoyed it! Hopefully more to come.

itkovian-11
I loved it. Hoping to see some more adaptations in the future.

Laszlo Brety
You should, it really is decent. It may not be reinventing the wheel but as long as you know that, its an entertaining 2 hrs. And just watched Snow...the animation is quite superb. There were moments when I was questioning if they were real actors or not.

_Celtic_
Just watched it - very impressive. It must be a thrill to see your imagination come alive on screen like that. It's now long enough since I read it that I remembered the background (the remote desert setting) but not the detail of the plot, so could enjoy it fresh.

And more are coming in all the time. . .

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Longevity Averaging in Analog

 I’ve been reading a lot about longevity research which, if the gatekeepers of medicine were to allow it, could turn into a biotechnology boom. There is a little bit of growth in that sector now but it is still not accepted in the mainstream. It should be. Most of the diseases we suffer from now – the main killers – are the result of the steady damage accumulated over years - dementia/Alzheimers, heart disease, cancer etc - while the drug companies search for fixes for symptoms and the quickest way to a profit. We need to fix root causes. In the last fifty years these maladies have been added to by ‘metabolic syndrome’, specifically bringing type II diabetes to that list but exacerbating the rest. An awful lot of metabolic syndrome could be eliminated by changes in lifestyle, and ignoring some incredibly bad advice from ‘medical professionals’ 40 to 50 years ago (like Ancel Keys). But in the end all is still that steady accumulation of damage. 

I myself have made quite a lot of changes to my lifestyle in recent years. I quit smoking (using an ecig), I’ve reduced and would like to eliminate alcohol. I recently quit most carbohydrates and sugar and eat a close to ketogenic diet – the only reason I say ‘close to’ is because I can’t be bothered to weigh and check on the carbs in things like broccoli. I exercise a lot. I use various supplements (which I have researched), have used fasting to lose weight and increase autophagy etc and have experimented with fisetin megadosing to kill of senescent cells. I am now, I am damned certain, healthier and fitter than I was 10 to 15 years ago. But there are limits to what an individual reading up on this stuff can do and, if we are to defeat ageing, we need that biotechnology.

One upshot of all this reading is a novelette called ‘Longevity Averaging’. This is a visualization of that biotech industry in the near future, and what treatments it might use. This also covers some of the social issues involved – the title concerning state pensions. It is now published in the May/June issue of Analog Science fiction and Fact


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Snow in the Desert on Netflix


I've told this story before (some artwork in that blog post) but I might as well tell it again here. Many years ago, while mucking about on the internet, I found a video on You Tube called 'Rockfish'. This was excellent CGI (for the time) of a guy using some heavy equipment to go fishing through a planet's crust and catch a huge creature like a byblow of a Dune sandworm and one of those horrors from Tremors. I noted an email along with the video so sent a message saying something along the lines of, 'Excellent video; actors will soon be out of work'. I didn't expect a reply but got one from this guy called Tim Miller, thanking me and telling me he has some of my books on his shelves. . .

During subsequent exchanges I learned that he was the boss of Blur Studios in Venice California. Hollywood baby! He roped me into a 'Heavy Metal' project. This was basically something of a similar format to Love, Death and Robots that had been done before, though I had never heard of it. Tim asked me if I had any short stories. After my reply, and the huge attachment, he selected quite a number of stories. He also had me write some more for the project. For example one request was, 'Could you do a orcs and elves battle based on Rorke's Drift?' which I provided. Another of the stories was Snow in the Desert (bottom left now in the image below).


This project was to be sold to Paramount, but there was some sort of parting of the ways. It then got hawked around for a while, but eventually died. Apparently it was shown to Tom Cruise, who said that Snow in the Desert would make a good film just by itself. In the end Paramount bought idea of the project without the stories, so that was the end of that.

Tim Miller then moved up in the world, directing Dead Pool. He then got the possibly tainted chalice of directing a new Terminator film. I got roped into that too as an advisor, along with others like Greg Bear, Neil Stephenson and Joe Abercrombie. Flight out to LA and meetings in a room around a glass-topped table mounted on a horizontally-sliced aeroplane wing at Skydance. James Cameron sitting across the way laying out what he thought he wanted. All quite ego boosting, though I didn't appreciate it at the time since I was suffering from horrible anxiety.

The new Terminator film tanked. The reality, I think, is that people are tired of endless remakes and franchise extensions. I certainly am and I was then, but this did not impinge on my 'take the money and run' attitude. 

Tim Miller returned to another project he had also been working on throughout this and that was Love, Death & Robots. He wanted to use the stories he had from me in the first season, but overly cautious lawyers advised against that, since even though unpurchased by Paramount it seemed, since they took the idea of Heavy Metal, they might have some claim on them. This thankfully was resolved for season 2 and now you get to see Snow in the Desert on Love, Death and Robots.

I don't know what to expect. My only input was the story and those directing it have doubtless put their stamp on it and made changes. Maybe I won't like it. I'll find out soon since soon I will be getting to see it. But my attitude is still 'take the money and run' along with the knowledge that no matter what is done with one of my stories, the story itself will always exist in its original form. This may also work to boost my other sales, since Netflix as over 200 million subscribers.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Subrata Sen


“Snick, snick” “Whirrrrr” “Brrrrp” “Grrrr, grrrr, grrr.” Not sounds from a Neal Asher story that grabs you by the throat. It’s me cutting my mother’s hair, while she growls with each breath like a grey panther, a residual effect of the intubation that scarred her trachae during her last ICU staycation. Tufts of white hair litter the floor while I work my craft. I’m thinking pink highlights. Mom says she doesn’t care, doesn’t have to look at it. She used to, back in the salon days, when she would climb two flights up the rattling spiral stair from the main street where humanity flows the wrong way. She was 90 then and wanted the right cut. At 80 she had cataract surgery, one lens fixed in the distant past, the other near-time. They are both hazy now, resulting in occasional fights with vaguely described “people”. A year ago in the ICU, while she had half a dozen tubes in her, she came to fisticuffs with the neighbouring patient and her husband. I asked her who won – she thought for a bit and sadly said, I think I lost.

I put up a bio on Neal’s blog (https://www.nealasher.co.uk/2017/08/) in August 2017’s “Who Reads My Books” post. It lays out the arc of my life and literary interests, at least till 2017, when I was still traveling and photographing the world, working part-time,and exercising intensely. This is an update, so I will try not to repeat myself, except for the basics. I am 69, a trained physicist and retired engineer. I had retired at 60 to avoid being transferred back from Bangalore, where my mom and dad lived with me, to my base in Houston, Texas. I watched over my dad for the last five of his seventeen-year spiral into the black hole of Alzheimer’s. His body was army-strong, his brain was swiss cheese as he Benjamin-Buttoned his way back to a zygote. And now my mom, nine years later, is diminishing rapidly. I am their only child, so all arguments about their care were with myself.I had not lived with my parents since the age of ten, when I went to a Jesuit-run boarding school for boys, though I visited home for the longer holidays.Hiding out in the library from the sports-mad padre’s, I found both fiction and my interest in science. I enjoy my own company and always dreamt of an unbounded life. No long-term plan I have ever made, nor scenarios for which I have prepared, have ever worked; but acquiring plenty of resources and developing flexibility has served me well.

Coming back to India after 40 years away was not a pleasure, but an unregretted necessity. You can never go home. Not when the country you left uncrowded and free has nearly quadrupled in density. Demographic dividend? Bah, humbug. You don’t get that just by reproducing or looking at per capita GDP. You need good governance, good nutrition and affordable education for the masses, infrastructure, and capital. The quality of life sucks, as does the air. It is a land of dust, which turns to mud for the monsoon. But the young, they don’t know it. They do know they want a new smart phone and a scooter. And if they can’t find a job, they can steal. Or better yet join the bureaucracy through our brilliant quota system.

What’s changed since 2017? I run a single patient old-age home. Full-time, no breaks anymore. In Bangalore, India. This has put a stop to my greatest pleasure, travel to new, far-off places. It has also curbed a few more pleasures, the most important being old, retired and having fuck-all to do. Goodbye leisure. My maximum attention span lasts 30 minutes, after which there is something I must do. Remember having toddlers? I never did, but I imagine it is remarkably similar, except your mom and dad won’t grow up and leave the house. And possibly return to bug you when you are old.

Why Bangalore? It is cruel to move old folks across the world at the fag-end of their lives. And healthcare is unaffordable for foreigners in the U.S.A. While she is uninsurable in India too, I can afford my mom’s care here, and hire people to help at home. However, this is not a good place for an introverted self-contained and self-reliant person (me) to live. And having help in India comes at a huge unforeseen cost, not entirely expressible in rupees. Every person you hire has a large and extended family. Ask a friendly question and you find yourself paying for someone’s brother’s college education. Or air-con. Or operation(s). Not the way it worked in the U.S. when I hired help.

So now, I travel through e-space searching out new music, research in science, history, biology, health, fitness and longevity, archaeology, physics and whatever else is new and not connected with current events, politics, and people trying to give me life-lessons. The roads are beyond awful and the blind may drive here, but the internet connectivity is great. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and an Indian service that consolidates several other content providers are all accessible.

Like Neal, I’m encouraged enough by longevity research to expect that I will have a long health-span with my focus on nutrition, exercise and supplements that fight senescence. I will optimistically gloss over the genetic aspects. Just before India’s corona-shutdown in March 2020, I managed to achieve my lifetime best inclined bench press (2 seven-rep sets at 100 kg), not bad for someone 68 years old, 5 ½ ft tall and 70 kg. Someday I will be back in the gym and do better. I will get back my guitar skills, regenerate my knees and ski again, overcome my panic attacks and scuba again. Nah, scratch the last two.

And, of course, there is reading. Late at night, mom’s asleep, I can light up the Kindle and open to where I left the last Asher sci-fi mind-blaster, or a graphic novel by Jodorowski, or the latest Phillip Pullman. I don’t read a lot anymore, but I always look forward to short science fiction (Azimov’s, SF&F magazine) and my favourite few authors. The best voyages are of the mind.

Friday, April 02, 2021