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Decade’s End

This is how we end the first decade of the twenty-first century, then: with Jools on the telly, and a netbook on my lap. A fitting conclusion, I suppose, as the start of it was similarly low-key (I had a small kid at the time, and have two much bigger ones now); and I’ve spent much of the decade with a computer close at hand.

By some bizarre twist of fate, though, I seem to be out of whisky. I sit in shame at such a state of affairs. One or other form of whiskey will just have to do, though.

Happy New Year, everyone.

A quote from Amanda Palmer: asking for money for your art is not selling out


selling out is when you go against your own heart, ideals and authenticity to make money.

selling out is an action, a 180 from a stated position.

i don’t consider pop stars to be sell-outs. the lady gagas, britneys and madonnas of the world are UNABASHED about why they got in this game: fame, money, über-success, chart-topping hits.

but if neil young were to suddenly hire the matrix to write him a thumpin’ dance album and then appear on saturday night live snogging bob dylan, i’d have reservations about his integrity.

From Virtual Crowdsurfing

Transitions in Real Life?

The new Iain Banks book, Transition, is a science fiction novel. This is despite the fact that it is not published as by Iain M Banks.

And I don’t mean the slightly-ambiguous, could-be-a-dream-or-somebody’s-madness-if-you-don’t-want-to-suspend-your-disbelief sort of thing you get in The Bridge Or Walking On Glass, either. This is out-and-out SF, no queries or discussion. It is a tale of parallel universes, of an infinity of alternative Earths, and of people who can move between them, using a combination of drugs and native ability.

And it’s that ability that holds both one of the novel’s unanswered moral questions, and its biggest flaw.

When adepts transition between the worlds, they do so in mind only. That is, their mind occupies - possesses - the body of someone who already exists on the target parallel.

Ethically, this is a minefield, of course. But that question is only vaguely touched on.

Other ethical issues are addressed, notably the use of torture by states. There is passing character - just a walk-on, really - of a policeman who once tortured a terrorist suspect and had some success. He was tortured in turn by his guilt for the rest of his life.

The big flaw, though, concerns the transition mechanism and its use, and to talk about it, I’ll have to include some minor spoilers. So, you know: you have been warned.

As I said, flitting between the parallel universes involves the mind, the personality of the transitionary jumping into the body of someone already existing on the target parallel. This applies even when someone takes a ‘passenger’ along, which some can do. Each of them takes over a body in the new world.

But sometimes Banks has characters jumping to places where there really couldn’t be a body for them to take over (versions of the Earth that are uninhabited, for example). Yet they seem to jump successfully.

I don’t mind there being a ‘bodiless’ and a ‘bodiful’ version of the ability, for example: but it does need to be explained, or at least mentioned. I can hardly believe that nobody picked this up in the revision and editing process.

That aside, though, it’s damn fine, and probably his best ‘non-M’ for quite a few years.

With the secret cabal that is trying to run the world(s) behind the scenes, it is sort of The Business 2.0. Or maybe 10.0.

Live Jello show

Yeah, I know, that sounds like something kinky. But I just got this from the Academy mailing list (that’s “O2 Academy Brixton and O2 Academy Islington”; the former used to be called the Brixton Academy):

O2 Academy Islington: Tue 8 Sep: Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. A longtime leader in the punk and alternative rock scenes, Jello Biafra is back in the recording studio and in the live arena.

Which is surprising and interesting and stuff. I never saw the Dead Kennedys when they were around; as far as I know they never came to Britain. Certainly not to Scotland.

Apparently Jello (or Eric, I now know) is 50. I feel old.


Hi, I’m back. Have you missed me? I have some good news.

First Edition is a new magazine publishing new writing: fiction, poetry, and reviews. It’s just reached issue 4. That’s an important one to remember. Issue 4. That’s the one you should go and buy.

That’s the one that contains a poem by me.

Oh yes. I am a published poet, as of - well, just about today, really.

Available now from some good magazine shops, allegedly. But certainly from that there website.

Go on, check it out. You know you want to.