You’ll be pleased to know that we got the battery cover off the Fire TV Stick remote. Got Netflix and iPlayer installed, watched Person of Interest.

In the end we just had to be persistent. And firm.

Burn it With Fire (Stick)

I bought an Amazon Fire TV Stick in the Black/Cyber/Whatever sales, because I thought it would be a good way to watch BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and so on, on the telly, without having to plug a laptop in, as we do at present. Tonight I tried to set it up.

Amazon have decided to use replaceable batteries like it’s the 90s, instead of using a rechargeable like it’s today. I found it literally impossible to open the back of the remote.

The very fact that there are multiple YouTube videos explaining how to open the thing should be a giveaway. Unfortunately they all say, “It’s easy enough now because I’ve opened it before; it was really hard at first.”

The Apple TV may be several times the price, and the remote has its critics. But you just know you’re not going to have bollocks like this when you try to start using it.

Right now I’m planning to send the Fire TV Stick back. I’ll have another go when more of the family are around, and maybe we’ll get it. But I can’t help but wonder, what about someone who’s a bit older and maybe has arthritic hands? This is incredibly bad product design.

Just saw this winter’s first flurry of snow. Well, hardly flurry: just a few flakes drifting past the window. And it’s stopped now.

A Five and Four Zeroes

Actually it’s 50,069 words in total, as of a few minutes ago. And the last 5000 or so were not in the novel that I finished the other day.

Instead I wrote a new opening to the previous novel, which I hope will have moved it towards a submittable state; and a whole load of notes towards the next one, which I intend to start more or less right away.

As soon, at least, as I’ve got the skeleton of a plot, and a vague idea of the ending, so that I don’t go wandering around for years again.

Anyway: I declare myself a NaNoWriMo Winner.

I’m glad Scrivener 3 is out, but could they have picked a worse month for it? The end of November, when a crazy percentage of users are crazily last-minute-typing into the app.

Not a good time to upgrade.

On the other hand, when November is over we can reward ourselves.

Finished

I have finished my novel. Hooray!

Stats: 121,304 words. 44,107 of them since the 1st of November.

There is, of course, a great deal still to do before it will be ready for anyone else to see, but I’m going to put it away for a couple of months before starting rewrites.

There is one little downside: that 44,000 word figure, while by far the most I’ve ever written in a November (or any other month) does not quite reach the 50,000 required to “win” NaNoWriMo. Which doesn’t really matter, as the whole purpose of the thing is to encourage us to get the words down, get a first draft out onto the solid-state drive.

But I’ve come this far. It would be nice to hit the 50,000 mark. Luckily there is a solution.

The publisher Angry Robot has an open submissions period running until the end of December. That means they accept and will read manuscripts from writers, instead of requiring all submissions to be via agents as normal.

Now obviously I’m not thinking about the just-completed first draft for this. But the one I finished before is ready. Except for two things.

  1. I submitted it the last time Angry Robot had one of these.
  2. I’ve never been happy with the beginning.

Point 1 would bar me from resubmitting, except it wasn’t rejected the last time. I just never heard back from them. So I asked on their comments page, and they said I could assume it got lost, which allows me to resubmit.

Point 2 gives me the ideal thing to work on for the rest of the month: rewrite the beginning of the previous novel.

So it’s time to jump back into the world of The Accidental Upgrade (though I may try to think of a new title).

Jerusalem by Alan Moore (Books 2017, 5)

Yes, it’s halfway through the second-last month of the year and I’ve just finished my fifth book. Five in a year. That’s very poor. But this book was a large part of the reason for that.1

At over 1000 pages of very small text — close to a million words, I’ve heard — this is a mammoth work. It’s also really, really good.

As befits such a large work, it is a whole made of many parts. It’s split into three main sections, with each of those having eleven chapters; along with a “Prelude” and an “Afterlude.” The first is a series of short stories or vignettes, most of which are not obviously connected. They are all set in and around an area of Northampton called the Boroughs, at various times in the past and present.

In the second we find out what happened to Mick Warren, the closest thing we have to a protagonist, after he died aged three, before he came back to life again. The third brings it all together, after a fashion. Moore has always had trouble with endings — just consider the mighty Watchmen, whose ending was actually improved by the movie.

Did Alma Warren’s pictures save everything, and stop the destructor? Of course not: it always happened that way and always will. That’s the central thesis of the novel, the idea of eternalism, that time is static, and we only experience change because we happen to be moving along that axis at one second per second. This is of course similar to the viewpoint of Dr Manhattan in the aforementioned Watchmen, so we could suppose it’s a worldview that Moore has had for some time, though in his acknowledgements he suggests that he came to believe it during the years he was writing Jerusalem.

There is a chapter in book three that is written in the style of Joyce in his Finnegan’s wake days. It’s hard work to get through, but well worth it (though with hindsight if you were to skip that chapter I don’t think you’d miss much of the plot). Anyway, it’s a monster work, and well worth the time it takes to read.


  1. To be fair, spending a lot of time reading on the web, plus some reading comics, etc: these also need to be considered. []

Rock and Death

I appreciate this piece about AC/DC and Malcolm Young’s legacy. I never really cared for them myself. I was on the other side of the punk/metal wars, of course, and screechy vocals always put me off.

I completely understand the spirit of that piece, though, and feel the same way about The Clash, the Velvet Underground, probably others. But there is one telling line in it that says something about the different attitudes of the different sides in those not-really wars. I don’t know, maybe not; but this:

But we thought we were gonna live forever. The music too.

is not how things were for me, for us. We didn’t think we’d live beyond the eighties. The nineties at a pinch As Queen put it, we were the ones who:

grew up tall and proud
Under the shadow of the mushroom cloud.

But so too did the author of the AC/DC piece. He’s a decade older than me, but that still means he experienced the cold war.

Maybe it’s not generation, but location. I lived a few miles from the Faslane naval base, where the Polaris submarines were based (and where the Trident ones are still). We knew we’d be one of the first places to go.

Generations are too abstract, too arbitrary to make sweeping statements about in any case. But I still sometimes find myself surprised to be here, now, in this century.