hope and glory

Years ago, when I was about ten, I briefly had a particularly terrible teacher. He was a hateful, poisonous old man, loathed by all his pupils for his spite and malice. I’m not sure how he ended up teaching, and to this day I really don’t understand how he held onto his job. For a […]

bowie’s in space

It’s been fascinating watching people mourn David Bowie. There’s a sadness there that I suspect comes from more than just the loss of a major creative icon. I think we’re also mourning the loss of the conditions that created and supported that kind of icon. Bowie’s iconic status was a product of certain cultural and […]

The dark young of Arsene Lupin

A weekend of helping H move into her new place, previewing Zali’s new album (which is fantastic), and grooving to Maurice Leblanc’s ace crime novel ‘The Hollow Needle’. La! North London life, but as this is a blog about writing I’m going to focus on Leblanc (tho’ there’ll be more on Z’s new album when […]

Eyes wide shut

Been going back through the notebooks, wondering what to say today, and I lighted on an entry from a while back. The papers had been full of descriptions of Blair and Bush’s relationship in the run up to the Iraq War. Determined to be involved, Blair kept close to Bush and took his assurances about […]

Your 20th century boy

In the context of yesterday’s comments about the self-justifying self, I’ve been thinking about Michael Moorcock’s ‘Between the Wars’ series of books (‘Byzantium Endures’, ‘The Laughter of Carthage’, ‘Jerusalem Commands’, ‘The Vengeance of Rome’), dealing with the adventures of Maxim Pyat in the 20th Century. Maxim’s a fascinating character. Both naïve adventurer and lethal manipulator, […]

Solomon Kane 2007

It’s an odd thing, but when Robert E. Howard (yup, the Conan bloke) wrote his Solomon Kane stories, he provided an uncannily precise analysis of a certain kind of American exceptionalism. Solomon Kane is a sixteenth century Puritan with a thirst for justice, who travels the world righting wrongs. He’s occasionally assisted by an aged […]

Space is Deep

A.R. Yngve’s comment below set me thinking about the deepness of space, and a writer who’s dealt with its profoundly dislocating emptiness more successfully than most – A. E. Van Vogt. Van Vogt’s ‘Voyage of the Space Beagle’ (or ‘Space Bagel’, as it’s known round these parts) couldn’t really exist without that awareness. Its protagonist, […]

Big things exploding, forever

I was reading about the militarization of space, and ended up pondering the militarization of science fiction TV. Take the Star Trek franchise, for example – a set of shows whose heroes are almost without exception members of the military, working compliantly within military structures to achieve the goals it sets for them. Building on […]

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 with […]