Friday, March 30, 2018

Comic Cuts - 30 March 2018

Easter has sneaked up upon me after a slightly weird week. I think turning the clocks forward last weekend has thrown out my body clock and it still feels like I'm doing everything an hour earlier than I should. I'm just feeling a little off my game... tired when I shouldn't be, awake when I don't want to be. Life's jet-lag.

On Friday I had to walk down to the Post Office to drop in a book and, as it was sunny and I was feeling cheery because I'd just sold a book, I thought I'd nip into our local second-hand bookshop and potentially blow all the profit I'd just made. As I cast my eyes over the titles of row after row of paperbacks, I also became aware that something odd was going on: there was a guy with a big camera on a gimbal stablizer and another guy with a normal stills camera, both concentrating on a third guy who was pulling books from the shelves and chatting away to camera.

This was Martin Newall, poet (England's most published poet, apparently), songwriter and musician (solo and with The Cleaners from Venus and The Brotherhood of Lizards) and, as I discovered, thoroughly nice bloke. As we were in a book shop, the conversation turned to what we liked. I mentioned SF, he mentioned not being able to get on with Kurt Vonnegut but he loved Theodore Sturgeon, allowing me to trot out the fact that I'd met Theodore Sturgeon.

Talking to the guys with cameras... well, we mostly talked about Netflix original content as a couple of SF movies had come out recently that they thought were underwhelming, including Duncan Jones's Mute and the newly released Annihilation, both of which I've yet to watch. I haven't seen all of the Netflix output, but of the three I watched in the past few months, two were great (Okja, What Happened to Monday) and one was a bit meh (Bright).

I did manage to ask what the filming was for and apparently it's for a project about Martin's music which will be available online later this year, once some filming in the USA is complete. Not knowing anything about Martin's music, I gave some tracks a spin on Spotify and it proved to be quite fun, with a quirky, unexpected side to the lyrics that you might expect from someone who is primarily a poet. You could do worse than give him a try. (­čí¬ Wikipedia)

Tuesday evening we headed into Colchester to see John Robins joke about his break-up with girlfriend Sara Pascoe and the mental breakdown he has been suffering from since. More of a barrel of laughs than you would expect from that description. It's a well-crafted, well-performed show with highs and lows and laugh out loud moments that had the audience in fits.

This was the first time we'd seen Robins live – and I'd definitely see him again – although both Mel and I have seen him on various TV shows (Russell Howard's Good News, Live at the Apollo, etc.) and heard his radio show (with Ellis James on Radio X, formerly XFM). This show was the joint-winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award 2017.

I have to confess that I papped him, although accidentally. Normally I ask if I can take a photo, having checked the lighting (to see if I need a flash or not). In this instance I was letting the camera focus while John was talking to someone ahead of signing their poster and took the picture.

I'd spent a lot of Tuesday listening to the testimony of Christopher Wylie talking about Cambridge Analytica. Capturing data on 50 million Facebook users is only scratching the surface. I'm not prone to believe in conspiracy theories, but there's a James Bond movie in this. I'd meant to dip into the testimony while I was taking a break to watch the news, but the BBC ended their coverage and I had to scurry around trying to find where the live broadcast was on Parliament TV.

As a freelancer, I have to be quite strict with myself over this kind of thing. I need to put in the hours, especially as I'm coming to the end of the new book and I'm easily distracted by moving pictures – anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time will know I love my TV. I caught myself on Wednesday morning tuning in to watch, of all things, Amber Rudd of the Home Office sidestepping questions about whether the government has a policy concerning immigration. I'm not sure it does, and even if the answer is "Yes, it does," how it can possibly work if you don't know how many people are leaving the country.

Anyway, I managed to switch it off before Parliament TV wrecked my schedule again and managed to get some work done. The last few days have been spent rewriting Volume 3 of Forgotten Authors and writing an introduction. I'm pleased to say that the writing is all done, I've run a spellchecker over the whole of the text and I'm in the process of creating the master document that will become the finished book, which will run to approximately 73,000 words.

I've also been putting together a few cover galleries that I'll be running in coming weeks relating to some of the authors that have been included in the Forgotten Authors series. The first will appear on Monday.

In the meantime, here are a few random scans of books I've picked up over the past few weeks. The Fifth Season won the Hugo, and the sequel, The Obelisk Gate, also picked up the same award. I believe the third book in the trilogy, The Stone Sky, is in the running for a Nebula (as were the other two). It's more on the fantasy scale than I usually read, but I've heard so many good things about the series I've got to give it a try. John Scalzi is someone I've already read (the last one was Redshirts) but I'm missing a couple of the 'Old Man's War' series before I get to The End of All Things. I'll get 'em eventually.

A couple of tie-ins... I might even read the Elektra just to see whether the script was better than the film that eventually emerged. And a couple of books I've gathered up for bits of my collection and for cover galleries... Gregory Benford and Jack Higgins. I do try to maintain these old galleries!

Have a happy Easter weekend.


  1. I'm guessing that "Mike's music" should be "Martin's music".
    Apologies for wasting your time with the HTML editing. Joining images together with PhotoShop is much simpler.

  2. Yes, that should be Martin. Goes to show how tired I was when I wrote this post. Usually I'll separate the two images because they come from various different files and most need cleaning up, so I'll load them to the blog one at a time. In this instance, I had all six images cleaned and ready to go, so I just dragged them into Photoshop (which I would have been using to resize them, anyway) and pasted them together to save a bit of time. There's always an explanation. :-)

  3. Err... there's 2x "Mike's music"s.
    Afraid I just didn't think of joining the images with Photoshop. (It's what Lew Stringer does.)



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