Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Departure on DVD

Nick Macarty @Nick_Macarty has been playing with @jonsullivanart Mr Sullivan's  pictures:

"I really want 'The Departure' on Blu-Ray. Sorry Neal, had some spare time, so got a little creative. It would be so cool to unwrap this at Christmas!"

We can all dream!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

5 Books on USA Kindle

I just received a newsletter from Night Shade Books (now an imprint of Start Publishing).

Happy reading! 

Ban Tea!

This is brilliant:

"Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to draw your attention to a situation that has gone under the radar for too long. Businesses up and down the country are, to this day, allowing this situation to continue, and are in many cases misguidedly encouraging it by providing and in some cases even allowing its consumption at the heart of the workplace, potentially risking the health not only of the person consuming it, but of those innocent people who have its effects forced upon them. 

I am of course talking about tea."

E-Cig Summit

I don’t like the name e-cig or e-cigarette because the association in that name wins part of the battle for who are trying to ban these devices, or regulate them out of existence. I prefer the word vaporiser, but I’m sensible enough to know that fighting against popular usage is a battle you’ll lose. This is unfortunate, really, because the name e-cigs contributes to the ignorance about the thing so named. Many people, it would appear, seem to think an e-cig is that cheap plastic object that looks like a cigarette and is sure to raise the hackles of the of the ardent anti-smoker. In the growing e-cig subculture these are ‘cigalikes’ and generally worthy of only contemptuous dismissal.

A couple of days ago there was a big summit on e-cigs which included the likes of  Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, the sensible Clive Bates, Jeremy Mean a MHRA spokesmuppet on e-cigs and everyone’s favourite rabid anti-smoker Deborah Arnott of ASH. Presentations can be found here and more can be read here and here

The guy in the pictures (my thanks to Elva Pote for providing these) is Dave Dorn who is the frontman for Vapour Trails TV, and a discussion on VTTV about this e-cig summit can be found here. During that discussion it was mentioned how people from Big Pharma, Public Health and elsewhere were quite astonished upon seeing the items on this table. Here then are people who have been pushing to regulate or ban something they don’t appear to have a clue about. Here then are people suffering from a bad case of future shock. Part of their argument is that upon seeing someone using an e-cig others might think it is okay to smoke an analogue cigarette, or that it will ‘renormalize’ smoking. Do these items look anything like a B&H or an Old Holborn roll-up to you?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Writing Update

Okay, it’s time for me to get back into some blogging. Sorry for the absence but shit has been happening and I just haven’t felt in the mood to apply myself to anything more than a few snarky lines on Twitter. I have, however, been steadily working my way backwards through the Penny Royal books, picking up mistakes and making notes on some changes I need to make throughout the trilogy. Currently I’m working backwards through book III.

I’ve had an interesting discussion about these books with Bella at Tor. While those of you who have read my books will know who and what Penny Royal is, others might wonder if the three books are about a character from the Herb Garden and ‘a very friendly lion called Parsley’ might be involved. So, in this respect I need to think a bit more about the titles. As I wrote the books they were simply called Penny Royal I, II & III, they then transformed into the Penny Royal trilogy with the titles Isobel, Room 101 & Spear and Spine. I’m now thinking more in terms of the new reader walking into a shop and seeing them on the shelf. Perhaps the overall title of the trilogy should be The Dark AI or, perhaps even better and more accessible: The Dark Intelligence.

Here’s a picture just to break up the text. Nothing to do with what I've written here (it's the Brass Man cover picture) but we don’t need much of a reason to look at Jon Sullivan’s work:

I’m still not sure about the titles of the individual books, however. The first one does mainly focus on the story of a character called Isobel Satomi, but is the title Isobel going to make someone pick up the book? Perhaps something more thematic like Transformations which are also integral to the book? Um, don’t know. This is still something I have to think on. Maybe the second book, to be more specific, I’ll call Factory Station Room 101. Anyway, it’s all going to require a bit more thought.

And now, on a final note: I must do some more video clips. So, if you have questions then please stick them in the comments below this post. You don’t necessarily have to stick to science fiction. And, if I don’t like your question, I’ll either ignore it or give a fatuous answer.

Friday, November 08, 2013

The Departure - Unused Cover Picture

Here's something from the excellent Jon Sullivan, whose website is here:

The Benefits of Vaping

Here's a nice info-graphic from E-Liquid Labs. It is in their own best interest to put out something like this, however, I find it interesting because though there's lots of stuff out there telling you of the timeline benefits of stopping smoking, which is of course inclusive of stopping nicotine, this is the first I've seen for vaping.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

We went to see Ender’s Game and thoroughly enjoyed it. The film isn’t in the league of something like Aliens. It’s a bit young/adult and there’s nowhere near enough gore for me. Still, it was enjoyable, and not too far from the original book. If it’s successful we’ll probably be seeing Speaker for the Dead, though, of all Orson Scott Card books I would rather see Wyrms.

I note that some in the gay lobby are calling for a boycott on the film because of Orson Scott Card’s (religion-based) bigotry concerning them. I’d heard about this before but never really bothered to look into it. I see now that it all stems from an article he wrote in 1990 that has all the justifications and twisted logic of any who believe in a sky fairy, and that in intervening years he’s gone into a fast PR reversal from it. Doubtless he has also made other comments elsewhere on this and, apparently, funds an anti-gay political pressure group. But in the end all of this is an argument he and his kind have lost (well, in civilized countries).

As I have noted elsewhere: if I limited my reading and other entertainment to the product of only those I agreed with I’d have missed out on some wonderful stuff (Aliens being a case in point). But then I’m not gay, nor could I judge this if Card was against heterosexuality since I don’t define myself by my sexuality. The closest I can get is: how would I have felt if he’d been arguing to make atheism illegal? Come to think of it I’d still have gone to see the film and I would still have read the books. Views like his are so far outside the Zeitgeist as to be irrelevant.

Henry Gee has some interesting stuff to say about this on his blog. I can’t say I’m surprised by the first sentence – SF conventions seeming to have become the home of much righteous prickery of late. Check Jim Braiden’s comment for a relevant quote from Card.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

SF Prediction

Here's a bit I wrote for a BBC article by Peter Ray Allison:

Science fiction hits some predictive targets in science but rather in the way that a clip fired from an assault rifle will hit some of the enemy hidden in the jungle, but mostly hit trees and leaves.

One of the past criticisms of SF has been that it’s all ‘zap-guns and rocket ships’ whereupon the SF writer can smugly point out the LaWs US navy laser system knocking down drones and then perhaps wax lyrical about the X Prize, Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Yet, prior to Sputnik and the space race we had SF about space ships with the navigator aboard calculating the ship’s course with a slide rule. Today many people use a communication device much like those used in Star Trek, but the Roddenbury communicator was distinctly lacking in apps, games, camera and video recorder. It’s a simple fact that SF completely missed the computer revolution we have seen, yet, three-D printers we are now seeing have been there in the books for some while, though admittedly running on hand-wavium.

But in the end SF is not there to make accurate predictions about the future. It’s there to entertain and stimulate the imagination. And there is absolutely no doubt that many of the imaginations it stimulates belong to scientists and that to some extent it drives and directs science. I can think of many examples, but offer this one: the X-Prize now being offered for aStar Trek tricorder.