Tuesday 28 May 2013

I went to a talk by FLX at Stanfords which was very interesting especially before doing the rounds of Upfest. I should add some pictures once I've managed to upload from my older DSLR onto a computer, then converetd to JPEG...

Finished the Orphan Master's son and bought tickets to go see Adam Johnson at Mr B's

Off to Paris tomorrow, wondering if I can fit in a visit to Shakespeare & Co, probably not as only there for a night and a day and got work to do but if it's possible, I will!

On to reading the Bookman trilogy by Lavie Tidhar

Monday 20 May 2013

Had a bit of a book themed day on Saturday. I went on a walk with Eugene Byrne as part of the Festival of Ideas, I went to the launch of Adventure Rocketship! at Forbidden Planet, I went to a Vala meeting and then for a change of pace I went to see a film.


Eugene Byrne entertained a gaggle of us who followed him and his helper, Sheila, around Bristol whilst he pointed out places where structures hadn't been built. From concrete plazas in the sky to a giant memorial to George Vth and a dual carriageway through the docks. Eugene was his usual excellent self and happily signed our copy of his book Unbuilt city (review to follow soon) before we had to rush off to Forbidden Planet. However along the way we just had time to enjoy a Falafel from Bristol institution the Falafel King, just a shame that the weather had turned a bit grey by then


At Forbidden Planet a who's who of the local SF&F literati turned out to launch Adventure Rocketship! (review on this blog 2nd May). Liz Williams read from her short story and Tim Maughan and Rob Williams were on hand to sign the book. Seems a little odd that they couldn’t do a reading too!


Non-book related film at the Watershed was Hijacking, a Danish film about Somali pirates. Really good in an understated way, tense and atmospheric.

Friday 17 May 2013

Probably the longest review I’ve ever done for 10 pages worth of reading!

Guns, germs & steel by Jared Diamond


So I read a few pages of this book then decided to throw it in the bin. Not pass it on in any way. Just Dump it.


In the first paragraph -  “Why did history unfold differently on different continents? In case this question immediately makes you shudder at the thought you are about to read a racist treatise, you aren’t” As Charlie Brooker pointed out on the 10 O’clock show recently someone introducing themselves as “Not a Racist” is a bit suspicious. Still that wasn’t what made me throw this book at the wall. A few pages later we have this: “New Guineans may have come to be smarter than Westerners. European and American children spend much of their time being passively entertained by TV” hmm that old saw of TV rots the brain, for which evidence is ambiguous at best and many studies actually say that moderate TV viewing actually increases intelligence. But no, Mr Diamond has obviously decided the goggle box is the Devil’s device as a few sentences on he says “irreversible mental stunting associated with reduced childhood stimulation” (the TV being an anti-stimulation device of course) and “mental abilities in New Guineans are probably genetically superior to Westerners, and they surely are superior in escaping the devastating developmental disadvantages that most children in industrialised societies now grow up” (my italics) Oh Really? Can you say sweeping generalisation without any evidence Mr Diamond? And the reason he thinks New Guineans “may have come to be smarter than Westerners”? Well apparently it’s because they live a hand to mouth style existence struggling to find food (malnutrition in children is actually a cause of mental retardation isn’t it?) and fighting tribal wars so the stupid is killed off before it can breed and in Western society we’ve apparently conquered Maslow’s hierarchy of needs beyond the find food, find shelter level or as Mr. Diamond puts it “Europeans have for thousands of years been living in densely populated societies with central governments, police, and judiciaries where murders were relatively uncommon and a state of war was the exception rather than the rule.” Oh Really? Thousands of years you say, exactly what history books have you been reading Mr Diamond?


This book gets an average of 4.15 stars on LT?!? 88 people on Amazon.co.uk gave it 5 stars?!? Most people say it is a must read (there are few thoughtful reviews (from people who actually read the book) pointing out much larger flaws than the ones I’ve highlighted above, and apparently Diamond, a non-historian, tells historians that they’ve been doing history wrong!


 It was such an important book that not only is there an abridged version there is also a reading companion, a documentary series AND it won the Pulitzer? My flabber is well and truly gasted


Last night I was at an event at Stanfords for the 50th anniversary of the Bristol bus boycott. Paul Stephenson was signing copies of his excelelnt book Memoirs of a Black Englishman and there was wine and good company.

Currently reading Songlines by Bruce Chatwin.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

You know when you get a book by an author you like and they have decided to do something a bit different? well I have started reading The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes and it's not that similar to her other stuff. Luckily though, at a little over half way through I find that I don't mind and am enjoying it. There's some juggling going on by Beukes with this plot and I'm hoping she doesn't drop the ball so am still a little nervous about it. So far though, thumbs up. More when I've finished it...

In other news I'm off on a walking tour of Bristol this weekend in the company of the marvellous Eugene Byrne (he also promises cake and a chance to buy his new book) on this:


I'll post a review of that too

and I'm excited about going to the official launch of Adventure Rocketship in Bristol Forbidden Planet  - should be good :-)


Monday 13 May 2013

This rant may contain spoilers - if you haven't seen Star Trek yet I advise you not to, but if you still want to then probably don't read this.


OK so I saw Star Trek last night and hated it. After a small rant on facebook I think I didn't really get across why. The main reason was lazy, nonsensical plotting and lack of internal consistency.


I can sum up the film thus - Macguffin (so many Macguffins!), explosion or other brash special effect, rousing music, trite emotional speech, lens flare - repeat until brain dead

Teleporters work to transport someone across the galaxy from Earth to the Klingon planet but won't work between two ships in line of sight because "there is too much space debris in the way" oh really

London 2256 - I hope I'm wrong on this but I think it said London 2256, so yes it's an alternative reality but they then later say cryostasis was invented before FTL & these are 300 year olds in Cryostasis - erm so that means that they were genetically engineered in the 1920's - OK fine sure, cryogenically frozen in the 1950's OK sure, wait there's a scene where we see the evolution of spaceships from the original moon landings through the shuttle to the Enterprise - so did this happen earlier than in our universe? Perhaps they sent these guys into space when they were in their 70's? perhaps their magic blood kept them forever young? They were sentanced to death so how did they end up cryogenically frozen - I seemed to have missed that explanation, if indeed that was every explained.


Magic blood - these people were 300 years old, apparently, was this secret magic blood? this technique had never been used again? Why did they need Khan's blood when they had 72 other genetically engineered people on board presumably also with magic blood - if the other 72 didn't have magic blood then why was Khan different? what was the deal with the cryo tubes in torpedoes anyway was Khan's escape plan to be caught by the spaceship sent to kill him? was Scotty the only person that thought to look inside the torpedoes? Did Khan make every single torpedo himself? Why did no-one notice that the other 72 cryo tubes had gone missing - I may not have been paying attention at this point so perhaps this was explained but if so I blinked and missed it, why didn't the head of Star Fleet sneak off in his top secret ship and kill Khan himself without running the risk of sending someone like Kirk who we established earlier in the film has a congenital problem with following orders. If you can pinpoint him using the Macguffin of teleporter trace why not just teleport a torpedo or a hundred torpedoes to where he is and blow him up that way, oh right because you want to start a war. Wait you want to start a war now when you only have 1 Dreadnought?


Let’s use the Klingons in the lazy way that Worf was used in TNG - they seemed to only exists to get their butts kicked to show that this enemy is able to kick a Klingon's butt and the Klingons are a warrior culture so this enemy must be really scary, however later we'll be able to defeat him almost easily in basically a fist fight after showing that he couldn't be defeated in a fist fight


Communicators that do less than i-phones and are not touch screen, you couldn't update them?


"Cold fusion" in a suitcase, that needs to be set manually inside a volcano - really what was the plan there? tip to the scriptwriters - look up cold fusion on the internet and see what it is, what it isn't is a magic bomb that freezes liquid rock - if you’re going to have a Macguffin that freezes volcanoes why call it cold fusion?


Why was it necessary to have the Enterprise on the planet under the sea? were the teleporters not working? the main part of the plan seemed to be to fly a shuttle into a volcano so I see no reason why the ship needed to be on the planet except to be there to break the Prime Directive for plot reasons.


Are we really saying that Teleportation is Simplex? We can't teleport someone up to the ship because of "fourth or fifth lazy spurious excuse as to why we can't use Teleport this time" but we can teleport someone down


Why were people surprised that the Admiral's daughter was teleported to the Admiral's ship?

Some of the action sequences were cobbled together from other films - helicopter gunship defeated by fire hose? fight on top of a moving "thing" (what was that exactly?) - seems every film at the moment has a fight on top of a train - the Lone Ranger, Wolverine, Skyfall to name but three


The Dreadnought class ship is usable with minimal staff, good job they don't need to be even vaguely intelligent or be able to recognise stowaways, or communicators, or people shouting "open the door" over and over again - a note to all guards never ask "why is there a countdown?" shoot to stun the person who is obviously up to no good


Did they not see Glaxy Quest? the engine is broken and the only way to fix it is by kicking it? but first by running through a series of rooms that only seem to exist to be an obstacle course to increase narrative tension Really? without irony -seriously?


Special radiation that kills you without a mark on your body without all the classic signs of radiation poisoning, good job there's a "decontamination" chamber that magically sucks up the radiation - again advice to the scriptwriters do a quick google search on radiation sickness or in fact radiation


I could go on and on here but suffice to say that this film required a caption at the beginning - "Turn off brain now"


OK as a friend said - "It's Star Trek, not an academic paper!" - Yes I understand that, I'm aware of suspension of disbelief but there is also something called verisimilitude, there's an internal logic to such films and there are much more intelligent ways to plot this film. Is my problem that the film is silly? no not really I can enjoy silly films, is it that the science is of the woo woo variety? no not really although that's annoying - if the film is entertaining it would be a minor niggle. Is it because the plot doesn't work, hell I could forgive even that, if it didn't work in one or two places but every 5 minutes I was thinking "That makes no sense"!! Add all those things together however and you start to see why I hated this film.


What is wrong with this film is that it's dull, it's lazy and it expects its audience to be idiots.



Friday 10 May 2013

Friday Flash


On Chuck Wendig's blog he has a Friday Flash challenge weekly. I decided to take part, since I'm doing a Friday Flash anyway. This week he created 5 random sentances. I had to pick one and use it in the story. I cheated a little bu changing the tense of the sentance!

We were the Thunder

There were large black clouds overhead, heavy, dark and pendulous. I’d joined the group roaming the estate because there was nothing better to do. We were all charged up, looking for mischief, looking for something to take us away from the boredom. Awaiting the thunder. There was a place near the estate, you had to go through the posh end to get there, a piece of woodland. Named after a Greek place it was, Thermopylae, but why that was I never knew, or bothered to find out, we called it “The Mops”. It was the adventure playground of all the kids of the estate and a place that you could cut through that was more interesting than the long road to the bus stops.

They were a poor family, not that anyone on the estate were rich. The crueller amongst us called them Gyppos. Casual racism that wasn’t even true. There were 4 of them, the eldest was a girl, being probably about 14 or 15. I was about 12 at the time, at the younger end of the 10-15 strong pack.

 We discovered them walking through the Mops and I don’t know who started it but it started with name calling. We followed behind them, they clotted together, these siblings, they tried to walk faster but not run, not yet. They must have instinctively knew that if they run it would have been worse. As it was the mob smelled fear and it excited us, god help me I’m ashamed of this even now some 30 years later. The guilt afterwards was instructive, I never joined in anything like it since, and never will. It started with a few pieces of mud, a stick or two, then stones and soon we were chasing them whooping, bloodthirsty, like furies, like a Dionysia. Thunder rolled across the sky like drums calling us to battle. We were the thunder, loud, scary, a presentiment of danger.

When we got to the Estate we approached near to my house and suddenly I dropped out of running along, dropped out of hitting the poor children, dropped back afraid that my mum, or worse my Nan would see this, see me. At the time the adrenalin was like wine and I was drunk on it, afterwards I was shaky and utterly repentant. I heard later they chased them back to their house which wasn’t too far from my own. Next to the School playing fields. It was obvious in retrospect where they’d live. It was the one with the garden full of detritus, their mother notorious for stealing from the church jumble sale.

The family didn’t seem to have a fixed concept of a father. There were a number of men that could possibly have been the father of one or more of the children. The mother was a larger lady and frightening to us kids. There would be repercussions, of that I was sure. Perhaps I would escape the worst of it as she won’t have seen me? The children may not remember each and every one of us that was there? The family were gathered. They asked the children to describe everything writing everything down to make sure that they got the full story. Got names of the kids they knew, descriptions of the ones they didn’t. When did the family document the thunder? When did it record the Dionysia? Soon the roll of dishonour was complete.

Over the next couple of weeks there was much coming and going from the house by the playing fields. Men and older children we’d never seen before. A gathering of the tribe, like a murder of crows. Nothing good could come of it. I burned with shame but was that partly because I was afraid? I’d like to think not, that even if there were no prospect of being caught my nature would be such that I would be ashamed of my actions on that day. I was caught up in the moment, an unthinking but functioning part of the mob, a contributor to the thunder.

One of the older kids was beaten badly. He wouldn’t say to his parents, or the police, who had done it. We all knew, the men of the tribe down the road, that the family had called, were suddenly everywhere on the estate, easily spotted in their old fashioned black suits, shiny with grease. They appeared to be consulting a list, a document of our misdeeds. I needed to know if I was on the list but how could I possibly have got my hands on one of their documents? I was in an agony of suspense. One by one most of the others that had been there had visited upon them what they had done to the family and worse. I, though, escaped, it was the longest week of my life. When the men ceased arriving at our end of the estate I was in a paroxysm of paranoia. Living in fear of running into the black suited avengers, avoiding going out when I could, scurrying about the estate trying to look in all directions at once and get back home as quickly as possible when I couldn’t stay in. The family, despite living next to it, did not go to the school I went to, perhaps they didn’t go to school at all, I don’t know. It meant they must not have identified the 2 or 3 of us that escaped our deserved fate. We never spoke of it, we avoided each other, shame forced us apart. It was months before I started to feel like I had got away with it. I’ve never told anyone about this, until now. As you get older you accumulate regrets, people say that you regret less the things you’ve done rather you regret the things you didn’t do. Do I regret being part of the pack more or regret that I never sought to make amends?


Tuesday 7 May 2013

Emma Newman, author of the Split worlds trilogy, is doing something interesting as part of the run up to the 2nd split world book being launched.

She's crowd-sourcing wishes

Yes, you heard me, wishes

So if you had 3 wishes, achievable ones mind, no "I wish I could fly like Superman" or "I wish I was invisible" (2 of my favourites from childhood there) but ones that potentially a person or organisation could grant what would they be?

Like "I wish Angry Robot would commission me to write a book, and then be able to write a book that lives up to AR's high standards" or "I wish I could find an illustrator and a publisher for the GN idea I have (big hint Dark Horse comics, big hint)" or even "I wish I could get a publishing job, in Bristol, earning the same money I earn now doing not-publishing stuff"

That would be my 3 totally selfish wishes - I could think of less selfish wishes which reminds me of school. In primary school I remember a teacher asking "If you could have any wish, what would you wish for?" and my best friend at the time, Steven Pengelly, said "I wish I could fly" and the teacher looked scornfully at him and said "what a wasted wish, you should wish for world peace or an end to hunger". I think she may have misjudged her audience there, I think we were about 8 years old. What do 8 year olds care about world peace? In fact 8 year old boys are really into war, I know I was. I just didn't understand what war was, I thought it was about beating the Nazis mainly. I remember a few years later during the Falklands war we were forced to listen to the news in school on the radio by a jingoistic teacher.


"These three wishes are part of a wish-making community organised by author Emma Newman to celebrate the release of the second Split Worlds novel "Any Other Name". Can you make any of them come true? Come and see what other people are wishing for and find out how to join in at www.splitworlds.com/split-worlds-extra/three-wishes  – who knows, perhaps someone could make one of your wishes come true."

Dial H volume 1 China Mieville


A GN by Mieville I must read it! Sadly it didn’t live up to my expectations. OK the premise is good (the mysterious dials that turn you into a different superhero every time you use them) and I can see it sparking Mieville’s imagination and the art is really nice but the story, such as it is, is a little confusing. Now I’m not talking about  plot point a leads to plot point b leads to plot point c – that’s pretty easy. What I’m talking about is that it fails as a comic, the story needs to be told in pictures and text working together to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. It is, however, sometimes difficult to follow what’s going on and pictures and text just don’t gel. Add to the fact that this is territory Grant Morrison (and I’m no fan boy of Morrison BTW) has already mined in the far superior (and yet not so enjoyable that I continued with the series after the first couple) Doom patrol  - i.e. the “weird” superheroes with “weird” powers and I’m left feeling more than a little under-awed.


Overall – Because it’s Mieville it’ll sell a ton but I’m not impressed

These Pages fall like ash – composed by Tom Abba with creative input from Neil Gaiman & Nick Harkaway

I hear your voice, but I cannot see your face. I can remember you, but we’ve never met. This is where we live. This is a city.

There are two books, one a beautiful wooden bound physical book and the second a digital book hidden on a number of hard drives scattered round the city of Bristol.


Two cities, each overlapping the other

Two people who can no longer remember each other's existence...

Two Books, Two Platforms, A Singular Reading Experience


This will be amazing, I thought, two writers I have lots of respect for, an innovative and interesting ARG-like structure & an interesting sounding story.

When I first picked up the physical book I was pretty excited, it’s a truly beautiful physical object and there was just enough in there to make me think the story was going to be amazing. There was an encyclopaedia of the future city terms such as :

 Clostering: n – The break up of large religious groups centred around places of worship into small community led groups


Structard: n – a form of poetic writing that follows a mathematical formula for its construction. The most common style is based on word counts per line based on the recurrence relationship Fn = Fn-F1+Fn-2 (with seed values of Fn=0, Fn=1,) Creating sequences such as 0.,1,1,2,3,5,8,13


The future/alternative city had some Gaimenesque/Harkwayerian quality that was going to be fun exploring.

On Day 1 there were 5 locations (identified in the physical book, that took a little thought but were quite easy to work out), 4 days later a second set of 5 locations was released, 3 days later another 5 and 4 days later “everything changes” with the content being stored as either “Before” or “Epilogue”.

On day 1 we walked the first 5 locations and saw several others doing the same. Sadly there were some technical difficulties and 2 of the wifi points were not working. Oddly the locations where the wifi was had nothing to do with the event, one pub where it wasn’t working didn’t even know about the book, and when we reported this to the Watershed (the venue doing the ticketing) they didn’t, at first, seem to know how to contact the organisers to say there was a problem. A couple of nights later we were in town for an event so caught up but I’d hate to think what people who travelled especially to Bristol thought of it.

Events conspired so that we could only do the next 10 locations after “everything changed” and we walked the second and third sets on the same day in a mobile phone battery challenging day. Luckily the weather was lovely and it was quite a nice walk along the Avon New Cut. The walk was probably 2-3 miles long from the Hatchet pub (one of the pubs in Bristol claiming to be the oldest pub and the first of the second set of locations) and the Hen & Chicken pub (the last location, not all of the locations were pubs though!).

The story was fragmentary and, in the end, not narratively cohesive. We failed to find 1 location, quite possibly the wifi wasn’t working or we didn’t go to the right place but I don’t think this is the reason the story didn’t work. The setting had lots of potential and there was the possibility of interactiveness (at several points we had to upload photographs) but sadly it didn’t grip me. The photo thing didn’t work well (I kept getting error messages that the photo already existed, couldn’t work out how to rename the photos taken by my phone – if, in fact, that was the problem) and the photos weren’t linked to the story. At most locations the location wasn’t linked to the story and I feel that this meant we could have, as easily and with just as much effect, have downloaded a bunch of pdfs at home.

There were a lot of cute points, there were several structards, the format of some of the stories was such that some text became visible when other text became invisible, there were breadcrumb like text trails following links and the setting (story, not location) inspired imagination.

Many of the stories revolved around a child called Oska

In the book you're writing, the one with the city in it?

Yes bear?

That Oska, the one in the city, in your book.



Will he grow up?

He's not you, love. He's in a book.

In a book isn't alive?

It's different. It's like all this things I know about you, all the things I love about you are in here, and when I wrote them here then they can stay, they can last forever.


Forever and ever little bear. For as long as the world turns and the needle child stays in your dreams. That long.

And as long as the sea and the spiral descends mummy?

That long too. You can say the lament, bear? I didn't think you could remember all of the words.

Just funny ones mummy. The ones make me laugh.

Mummy, is daddy in your book too?

The stories were all flash fiction, generally a couple of hundred words or less and there was a lot of similarity. It seemed to be structured around the idea that people may not do all the locations, or do the locations out of order and so in the end felt like a collection of prose poems on a theme rather than a story with narrative structure.

There were a few grammatical errors (like above shouldn’t that be “The ones that make me laugh”?)  - which sounds a bit nitpicky but I spotted them so proofreading can’t have been too stringent?

It may sound like I hated this, I really didn’t, I had a good time exploring this. Mostly though I was disappointed that something that took this amount of effort wasn’t better. I think what the team needed was someone with a gaming background, maybe someone involved in ARGs, I don’t mean to gamify the experience though. What was needed was the story to be tied more to the locations and for a coherent, emergent, narrative to be the focus. The setting could have been explored more and more could have been done to make it truly interactive. For example there was this in the encyclopedia:

Voicering: n – a formal process for the exchange and transmission of songs, usually takes place at unofficial markets, can also spontaneously occur  which then goes on to explain how such a song trading would work which seemed to me to be an opportunity for the organisers to create a flash mob for the participants to attend.


Intersect: n – a temporal period during which two echoes cohere. It is based on one of the developments of coherence theory that theorises the possibility of isomorphic environements existing simultaneously in emotional but not physical space

This is explored in the stories where the narrators sometimes glimpse the other city, the other city’s inhabitants. Obviously this would have been difficult to do with any longevity but why not have some travellers from the other city being glimpsed in today’s Bristol?  Perhaps even using an empty building as one of the locations that occasionally there is something there, a projected film perhaps, music or noises from the other city?

Overall – An interesting idea, could have been executed better, a wasted opportunity

Friday 3 May 2013

The Time Machine

I press the button, the machine whirrs, the scenery flashes past. It will work, it will be well, I will get her back.

I saw the blood first, then the knife, then heard the intruder leave. Did they come for the machine? Did my wife disturb the intruder? Did they come for the machine? I heard the intruder leave then I saw the knife and then the blood.

I will get her back, it will be well, it will work. The scenery flashes past, the machine whirrs, I press the button.

Thursday 2 May 2013

Adventure Rocketship! Edited by Jonathan Wright


A new magazine in book format Adventure Rocketship! Is a mix of fiction, interviews and essays on the subject of the future. This first edition is “Let’s all go to science fiction disco” and investigates the crossover between music and SF. The cover art is by Stanley Donwood, who also contributes a story to this edition. I very much enjoyed the mix of music and SF here with stand-out bits being the interview with China Mieville, the essay on the music of Rush (a band most of my friends were really into in school and one I therefore know well), J.G. Ballard’s contribution to post-punk, Tim Maughan’s excellent story set in near future Bristol and Lavie Tidhar’s short which is one of those ideas that you wish you’d thought of. There’s an essay on the music of Ladyhawke by Anne Perry which was really interesting and made me want to re-watch the film (I last saw it in the 80’s I reckon), an essay on the excellent Phonogram by Jared Shurin, an interview with China Mieville, stories by Liz Williams and Martin Millar and much much more. As with all such things there is variation here but where things didn’t speak to me, as a reader, it wasn’t for lack of quality more my own lack of interest in say, Boney-M for example. Are you a fan of music? are you a fan of speculative fiction? If you answer yes to either of those questions then you’ll enjoy this. If you answer yes to both of those questions then you’ll love this.


Overall – Really interesting new collection, I’m looking forward to the next one

Yesterday I was in London for the “Write the future” event followed by the Clarke awards in the company of Dave Gullen & Gaie Sebold.

Write the Future was a really eclectic and interesting mix of speakers:

Lauren Beukes spoke on the somewhat difficult history of South Africa, censorship and the narratives the country sought to stop, with a surprising twist on P.W. Botha’s real reason for banning the TV show V. Really looking forward to nabbing a copy of her book The shining girls and love the picture of her murder wall, as featured in Wired.

In a speech titled Free Your Words and Your Mind Will Follow. Language as Technology and Ludwig’s Talking Lion Ben North (creative director at HarperCollins) spoke about the technology of language and how could I not enjoy a speech that featured Orwell so heavily – 1984 is speculative fiction after all (as we all knew it was)

Molly Flatt’s speech was interesting but I’m not sure I agreed with her take on social media, but then I think she was being deliberately provocative since she’s made her living with social media.

It’s arguable whether Matt Webb’s talk got the most laughs or that the picture of a lizard on a jet ski during Molly Flatt’s talk did. What he did outline though was that we all need to be subscribing to twitterfic and that anthropomorphising our technology would be really really interesting sociologically. If you wanted a little printer with a face then you should go here: http://bergcloud.com/

Melissa Sterry chose not to use slides preferring her audience to visualise what they would during her speech made to inspire on the subject of Bionic cities. Her website here http://earth2hub.com/ looks really interesting.

In the break it was a chance to catch up with a few familiar faces and realise that there was a significant “Bristol Posse” at the event with Emma Newman, Tim Maughan, Jonathan Wright and Kevlin Henney amongst others.

Arc Magazine editor Simon Ings collected an interesting mix of panellists to talk about the nature of truth over an hour with guest authors Joanna Kavenna, Jane Rogers and Paul Graham Raven as well as Icelandic pirate Smári McCarthy. Really interesting discussion which ranged far and wide from childbirth to societal collapse.

We were then given a scary insight into ocean acidification by Bristol Uni researcher Dr Daniela Schmidt. I learned about this at Uni in the 90’s about how if atmospheric CO2 got to a certain level and if the ocean warmed then the pH would drop and carbonate building organisms (anything with a shell basically) would find it ever more difficult. Dr Schmidt’s challenge to the audience was that since we are entering a phase that has happened so quickly it’s without precedent and the situation has not been seen for 65 million years.

Finally Dr Darren Cosker gave a talk that was much more hopeful about the future, specifically the future of computer animation and making realistic faces.

After some quick refreshments close by and having the opportunity to have a chat with Sumit Paul Choudhury, who I find also has a bit of a Bristol connection, it was back to the Royal society for the Clarke awards.

The evening started with another panel which was titled 2001 days later chaired by David Bradley of SFX and including Professor Shiela Rowan who is investigating gravitational waves, Ian Stewart who collaborated on the science of Discworld, Rachel Armstrong who is working on an utterly amazing project to build a world ship within the next 100 years and Adrian Hon who is one of the team that brought us Zombies, Run! And is writing a future history of the world in 100 objects. Again the conversation ranged far and wide and ended with interesting perspectives on “Oil Shock” including the quote that “The stone age didn’t end due to lack of stones”. Armstrong was particularly inspirational during this panel.

The countdown to the award announcement was a bit odd and seemed to be dragged out but the announcement of Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden was met with a lot of joy from the crowd and seemed to be a popular choice. There was just time to rub shoulders in the crowded bar and start plotting for the BFL/Kitschies secret project for October before having to jump on a train and come back to Bristol, which we determined was THE place outside London to live J Tired and happy, a good day.

Search This Blog