Saturday, February 07, 2009


When not frolicking in the snow, checking out steampunk shops, and visiting fearless editor Ellen Datlow while she was laid up in hospital (a good precis of her adventures can be found here; she's been released back into the wild now, I'm pleased to say), I've been doing the odd spot of writing. I finished, finally, a fairly long story, and Gardner Dozois has bought it for the issue of Subterranean Press's magazine that he's guest-editing. Gardner tells me that the issue should start running in March, and includes stories by Joe Lansdale, Carrie Vaughn, Ken MacLeod, Liz Williams, Ted Kosmatka, Lucius Shepard's story from Songs of the Dying Earth (Gardner's Jack Vance tribute anthology), a Lucifer Jones story by Mike Resnick, and an audio from Elizabeth Bear, as well as the usual features. Hey.

My contribution is called 'Crime and Glory' and it was one of those stories that did not come easily. Some do, and it's lovely when it happens. This was a bloody affair, with much hacking and cursing and backtracking until, finally, I turned the plot inside out and everything clicked into place and began to flow, despite the narrator's blustering evasions and refusal to face up to what she was really about. And hard on the heels of that, I started in on the editing and polishing of Gardens of the Sun. Luckily, my editor had only a few points, and all of them are good. But I'm still compelled to go through it sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, to make sure that every word is the right word, and counts. As far as I'm concerned, writing is all about rewriting.

Embroidered Graffiti

Brick Lane, London.

Friday, February 06, 2009

When Giants Walked The Earth

Via The Bowery Boys, 25 random nicknames of 19th Century New Yorkers. I'd take high fantasy novels much more seriously if they featured characters like Boiled Oyster Malloy, Mallet Murphy, or Mock Duck.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Instant Architecture (2)

Tube train carriage used as offices, behind A Child of the Jago shop, Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Heavy Weather

Yes, snow was general all over London yesterday (that’s the view in my local park early in the afternoon, above), and for a little while everything more or less came to a stop.

On Titan, it may be raining right now, although at around minus 180 degrees Centigrade the rain is far colder than our snow. It’s liquid methane and ethane, and infrared pictures from Cassini showing the same area of Titan’s northern hemisphere in 2004 and 2005 have not only captured rainclouds, but also show one large lake expanding, and a whole cluster of smaller lakes appearing after what must have been a cloudbusting rainstorm. You can find a full report and links to the original pictures here. Before Cassini arrived at Saturn we had no idea what the surface of Titan looked like; now we’re beginning to understand the moon’s climatological cycles.

The past few months have been a jackpot as far as capturing extraterrestrial weather is concerned. The Phoenix lander spotted snow falling on Mars, while astronomers using the Spitzer telescope have detected changes in the infrared signature of planet HD 80606b, a superJupiter gas giant that orbits a star 190 light years from Earth. HD 80606b’s orbit is highly elliptical, and as it swings in close past its star it receives a huge heat pulse: the image below was generated by a computer model, showing a hurricane of supersonic winds heated to over 12000 degrees Centigrade racing towards the (blue) nightside of the gas giant. Which kind of puts our recent little weather event into perspective.

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