Monday 23 June 2008

Lawrence Miles

I expected better of Lawrence Miles I really did. I've enjoyed his blog, iconoclasty is always exciting and Lawrence writes a mean polemic in a fluid style that puts alot of professional pundits to shame. That I disagreed with just about everything he says is immaterial - he was a joy to read and always thought provoking - and now? Now he's just provoking.

Lawrence makes the classic mistake of interpreting other people's work entirely within the context of his own obsessions. The logic behind Genius Loci was perfectly simple - the Daleks were originally conceived as, and have continued to be, an explicit metaphor for Nazism. Therefore the war that forms the background Bernice's early life (a war started by card carrying communist Malcomn Hulke no less) is a metaphor for World War II. Now I believe WW2 was a 'righteous war' despite the horrible ambivalence of many of the things were done in the name of victory and this coloured the way the war was portrayed in the book.

Now Lawrence can believe that I got neocon cooties from my brother if he likes but until he accepts that people can do things for reasons outside his personal frame of reference his insight will continue to be limited.

The Strange Attraction of Willesden Junction

Recently, for a variety of reasons, I have spent some time waiting for a connecting train at Willesden Junction and because of the way my mind works the place has begun to seep its way into my writing.

Physically I'm fascinated by the multilayered interconnectivity of the place. I make my change at the 'upper station' which serves the London Overground (formerly Silverlink) lines. From my vantage point I can look over a landscape criss crossed with rail lines, roads, pedestrian walkways and canals. One railway line lies in a deep cut 10 meters lower than the canal that runs alongside - a road bridge and a viaduct cross both.

But it is the psychogeographical aspects of the junction that intrigue me most. I go there only to change trains, I've never left the station and so I have no true sense of where the Junction lies geographically. Given the amount of time that I've spent there it seems remarkable that you could drop me 200 meters away and I'd be totally lost.

This got me thinking - what if the junction were adrift in limbo, what if the canals connected to those of Ancient Mars, the railways to stations in other planets or epochs...

This version of the junction has begun to form in my imagination now, a junction between realities, staffed by a small community of people who, unlike me, never travel onwards from the junction, a society of the lost.

I have no idea whether these strange musings will ever become anything more than some sketch maps and an idle day dream on platform 4 but if they do I wanted both of you to hear about them first.

Thursday 19 June 2008


To Nurg (verb): to make an automatic negative statement in response to a previous statement which involves no thought whatsoever on behalf of the speaker. For example: in response to 'weather turned out nice today' the reply 'Bound to rain later' is a nurg not just because it is a negative response but because no thought was expended in formulating it.

It is possible for a nurg to be made in response to another nurg and so on leading to conversations that consist entirely of nurging - a nurgue (pronounced nurg-way). Indeed amongst professional northerners resident in London the nurgue is the dominant conversational form (see bhliming).

Tuesday 17 June 2008

The Blade Itself

I really like this book. Joe Abercrombie has taken the standard fantasy tropes, young heroes, wise wizards, bold barbarians and distressed damsels and twisted them into the kind of hyperdimensional pretzel shapes that quantum physicists use to describe string theory. I haven't enjoyed a book by an author I didn't know this much since the golden age of science fiction (aka when I was 12 years old).

What I like most about it is that while Abercrombie is going for seriously grim (ala Perdido Street Station) there exists within his work a rich vein of optimism and hope. While an iron determination to stick to the 'life is shit' zeitgeist keeps the plot spirally down to its nihilist conclusion Abercrombie's intent is undermined by his pesky faith in human nature.

The result is a wonderful tension between hope and despair that gripped me all the way to the end of the third volume.

Did I mention that the most sympathetic character is a professional torturer, and I don't mean he's the DESIGNATED HERO I mean genuinely sympathetic. Got to love a book like that. So I want both of you to go out and buy it right away.

Monday 16 June 2008

When Vila Met Gan

Just a quick note to let both of you know that my Blake's 7 audio prequel 'When Vila Met Gan' is now available from some good retailers or via the B7media website. I've finished writing the Avon prequel and I'm working on the last episode of the second trilogy.

In related news; Simon the Strange and James the Green have both finished their prequels - so there's plenty of B7 goodness being squeezed down the narrow pipe of production. Andrew the Happy is even now rounding up the usual suspects and writing budget sheets.