++ ORBITAL OPERATIONS
Back from Berlin. Home on the shore. Out here on the Thames Delta. This week is all bullet points. Hello.
++ A letter from Warren Ellis via orbitaloperations.com
Back at the desk, running the screens, whittling down the email that backed up over the last few days and drinking a lot of water because my fluid intake for the last five days has been nothing but coffee and alcohol. Redwood Bar, Bergstrasse 25, Mitte Berlin. That guy Shawn knows how to mix a drink. I know this because I drank a lot of them.
ThingsCon 2015 was fun. Though the people who had to sit through my keynote which I gave while severely underslept and somewhat hungover (I'm blaming those bloody Jager shots in that dive at the top of Christburger after drinking all night at Odessa, Marko, you fuck) may disagree, as I mumbled and slurred my way through my half-hour prepared talk.
I'm in Dublin in a few days. So, yes, there will be more alcohol-related bullet points. Not sure if I have time left to write a new talk, so I may dust off an older one. I have this perverse thing where I like to write a new talk for each event, but I suspect that is slightly insane of me.
I think I'm supposed to be in Amsterdam in October for something, but I suspect Thingscon/Dublin/Hay may be the last talks I give for a while.
There's only so many times I can say "folklore is the operating system of culture" before people start expecting me to conclude my talks by turning into a flock of crows and flapping out the nearest window, in any case.
I wrote an essay for Matter, called "The Littoral Space: My life, standing on the shore.' It's a look back at being a freelance writer after twenty-odd years.
I wrote an editorial for SUPERFLUX, a magazine I consulted on. Its first issue is a poster magazine, about drones, the future and building slightly crazy things. It's beautiful, filled with lovely flash fictions by Tim Maughan, and you can peruse it at this link here. They still have copies left, as it only just became available for order, but it will be a limited run.
I have had a project in mind for a year that I just haven't been able to get to. It's driving me slightly mad. It hasn't completely cohered in my head, I haven't had time to develop or start it, and I wonder now if the approach isn't somewhat outdated. It's in the same notebook as the podcast idea I had. I litter notebooks with these things. One day, after I'm dead, my daughter will probably find them, and wonder at what might have happened if I'd had a whole other lifetime to do all the things I couldn't fit into this one. Which, I suppose, will constitute just a single written record of how everyone's life turns out -- needing an entire other one to do all the things we should have done in this one.
Finally got around to reading Michel Faber's UNDER THE SKIN on the plane. This was made into a film a couple of years ago. I haven't seen the film, but I know from reading around that it is very much unlike the book. I wanted to read the book first. The book is beautiful, melancholy and rewarding. And short. I appreciate a short book. If you're in the mood for a literary science fiction novel about murder, sadness and cooking, this is very much for you, and Faber, as previously noted, is a fine carpenter of sentences.
UNDER THE SKIN, Michel Faber (UK) (US)
And, to throw an unwanted penny into a current debate: yes, fine sentences are essential. I like a good yarn as much as the next person, I'm sure, and I enjoy and value a good functional storyteller as much as I enjoy and value functional musics. But the best writing, like the best music, transcends all that. Issues around a growing interest in "literary" sf are simply a pointer to the essential anti-aesthetic and anti-future nature of core sf.
(I was reminded the other day of an assistant editor of an sf magazine who invited himself into an argument with me by casting the following crushing insult -- I look for new music, when at my age I should have found what I like and elected to stick with it forever.)
Speaking of which, a new SPEKTRMODULE podcast went out on May 2. You can find them all here. I'm thinking about doing them more often -- I used to think two weeks was a reasonable gap between podcasts, so that they can be digested, but I am noting that on a personal level I like the irregular-but-frequent issue of, say, Radio Etiopia, which seems to just happen a couple of times a week with no rhyme or reason.
The countdown clock is down to sixteen days. The designer just emailed over his first pass at the publisher's mark.
Anker battery case for iPhone 6 -- calling it "Ultra Slim" is somewhat overstating the addition it makes to size and weight, but it gives the phone a nice grip and that battery has a charge and a half in it. And totally dissuades you from keeping it in a shirt pocket. (UK) (US)
That countdown clock is really starting to bug me.
++ writing most mornings at http://morning.computer
The trips out to Berlin, by the way, have largely been about PROJECT BELGRADE, which, as longtime readers know, is one of the codewords I've been using for the projects I can't talk about. PROJECT BELGRADE is DEGENESIS. DEGENESIS is a role-playing game system and a world, devised by Marko Djurdjevic, and I've been shuttling between here and the Sixmorevodka office to help him develop a sequence of graphic novels set in that world. I'm a hired gun, but all that post-apocalyptic weirdness is just massive fun, and Marko himself quickly became another brother-in-arms. We broadly agreed this gig ages ago, and got down the initial storyline early this year, which is when Marko announced it. But I didn't feel comfortable talking about it until I had the first full outline locked down. Which we did, a few days ago. I'll talk about it more in a nonth or so. Marko's turning out concept art while I write, and before I left I saw him tinkering with what he! was calling a "trailer."
God only knows. Here's the FB post from Jan. I know jack shit about RPGs, but the artwork and visual concepts were so compelling that I decided that I needed to play with them< for a bit. And I did always like a good post-apoc epic (yes, I have tickets to see MAD MAX on Friday).
Sixmorevodka is an amazing team of illustrators, including, of course, Marko's wife, the superb artist Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic -- if you read mainstream comics, you've probably seen her work without even knowing it, she's done something over a hundred comics covers. And this is where I get to thank their executive producer, Emily Hale, for always looking after me when I'm in town.
Speculative sea salt. "This is the first true sea salt from oceans that don't exist." The related Kickstarter comes with a salt pan to make your own. (link)
It's possible that some ideas possibly shouldn't extend beyond the design-fiction and documentation phase, but I admire anyone trying to do something as simple and insane as sending you sea salt that shouldn't exist using a frankly bizarre combinatorial technique.
Read the site, read and watch the Kickstarter, and you have, in a sense, been told a complete science fiction short story.
Next time, I think, we shall do something completely different. Wouldn't want you to get bored. INJECTION 1 and TREES 9 are out on Wednesday. Please buy them so we don't die. They're also on digital, at imagecomics.com, and presumbly the other places too.
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I need to pack for Dublin. Not enough time for anything, this week. I'm just about to finish a script for a thing that doesn't get announced for another few weeks, tomorrow I have to spend all day finishing a revision and hopefully bringing in the end of INJECTION 5, and then I'm off to London City Airport. After that, I have a week at home before doing the long train run out to Hay for a day. And then I think I have a whole three weeks before I head out to Berlin again to do a day at the office with Marko. I love that cab ride out into East Berlin, though. When I was growing up, East Berlin was a mythological construct, an imagined grey place, opaque and mysterious. Even the word "Berlin" came with limited and weighted connotations: it meant either spycraft and repression, or the littoral, fogbound space where musicians went to hide, detoxify or supertoxify, and make new sounds. Like some giant shamanic concrete cave dug out of the foundations of a ! slow-motion warzone. Today, the remains of the Wall are a riot of colour, big plastic brand-name signs are glued to the original frontages of Communist buildings, and I saw a guy taking a piss into the bushes on Karl Marx Allee on Friday, not even trying to hide.
And people milling around bars, muttering that Berlin's over and it's time to go to Lisbon, or even Beirut.
I think I need to see Lisbon soon.
And I'll see you next week. Everything's changing. Everything's moving and spinning. Don't let it overwhelm you. It's okay. You're moving too. Even when you're sitting down and feeling like you're trying to catch your breath, you're moving at a thousand miles an hour without even trying. Nothing can outrun you.
++ find me at @warrenellis
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