Bombing the alien

Continuing to ponder the alien, in the context of bombings. Recapping yesterday, Lem sees the alien as being inexplicable in common human terms; it happens without apparently comprehensible cause or effect. We can be physically proximate to it, but we can never approach it rationally or emotionally. So what does this have to do withContinue reading “Bombing the alien”

Narcissus in space

A character in Stanislaw Lem’s novel ‘Solaris’ comments: ‘We don’t want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of the earth to the frontiers of the cosmos… we have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors.’ ‘Solaris’ is about an encounter with the truly alien;  a planet sized ocean thatContinue reading “Narcissus in space”

A mirror to shine in

Seeing a ghost is like experiencing a fragment of someone else’s memory; an insistent, present, repeated moment broken out of all context. Fiction takes such fragments and sets them in a reasoned and coherent narrative and emotional context. For example, there’s Jack Torrance in Stephen King’s novel ‘The Shining’. He’s trapped in the Overlook Hotel,Continue reading “A mirror to shine in”

Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! And a nice cup of tea…

Writing daily here’s been a very interesting exercise, if only because it’s made me ponder writers I’ve got a lot out of it and think about why I’ve found them so engaging. But I haven’t written about two of my great teenage obsessions – M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft. MRJ’s ghost stories – and EdwardianContinue reading “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! And a nice cup of tea…”

Seeing the world

At Arvon last week I was ranting – as you do – about John Burdett’s ‘Bangkok 8’, the only psychedelic transvestite Thai reincarnation police procedural you’ll ever need to read (apart, of course, from its sequel ‘Bangkok Tattoo’). And, if that whets your appetite for Thai mythology, there’s much else out there – S.P. Somtow’sContinue reading “Seeing the world”

Norming, performing

Thomas More notes of the Utopians that ‘they believe that the dead mix freely with the living… the sense of their ancestors’ presence discourages any bad behaviour in private.’ Observation is control; bad behaviour here is deviance from social norms, rather than anything more fundamentally immoral – and the observing dead ensure that those socialContinue reading “Norming, performing”

Mirroring the Fifth Head

An image from Gene Wolfe’s ‘The Fifth Head of Cerberus’ popped into my head this morning. Number Five, the protagonist of the first section of the book, catches a glimpse of himself in a mirror and for a second doesn’t recognise himself. The book is very concerned with people seeing and describing themselves when theyContinue reading “Mirroring the Fifth Head”

‘Cities are slow computers’

…is today’s thought from the day from Matt Jones, talking very interestingly at the Interesting Conference on Saturday – suspect much online content will be going up about it over the next week or so, starting with Charlie Frith here (with links to other attendees) – and thanks to Russell for sorting it out! NotContinue reading “‘Cities are slow computers’”

Scott of the Rantarctic

Well, despite a bacon, mushroom and brown sauce sandwich, and a rather nice cappuccino, I’m still hungover, so I’m just going to rant a bit, releasing my inner literary Richard Littlejohn (for non-UK readers, a noted right wing ranting journalist / loon) on the world. We’re going to hell in a handcart! If there’s oneContinue reading “Scott of the Rantarctic”