April 28th, 2010 | microlog
If you liked DO ANYTHING, by the way, may I point you at SHIVERING SANDS for something more wide-ranging but probably a bit easier on the brain?
It somehow escaped my notice that old acquaintance Norman Spinrad finally saw his novel HE WALKED AMONG US published recently, by Tor. Norman’s seminal BUG JACK BARRON was an obvious touchstone for my TRANSMETROPOLITAN. I had the great pleasure of reading HE WALKED AMONG US in manuscript form many years ago. (And, as perks of the job go, the author of BUG JACK BARRON asking you if you’d like to read the ms of his new novel is pretty good.)
What I said about it back then was:
"Norman Spinrad is one of the most extraordinary writers alive, and HE WALKED AMONG US is testament: mad, razored, darkly funny and perfectly evil."
And I’m sticking to that.
When hack agent Jimmy “Tex” Balaban discovers Ralf on a Borscht Belt stage, his act appears to be a clever joke. Ralf claims to be from the future, shouting foul-mouthed prophecies of where we went wrong. And he delivers a harrowing message.
The world is in chaos. Our biosphere has been devastated, our air is unbreathable and the final stalwarts of mankind have taken refuge in pressurized shopping malls. Humanity clings to the last mediocre vestiges of life on a dead planet that we did not know how to save. But it might not be too late. Has Ralf returned to the past to awaken our consciences? Is he who he says he is or is he insane? And if we have one last chance to save the world, does any of this matter?
Then Dexter D. Lampkin, a fading science fiction writer, and Amanda Robin, a New Age guru-wannabe, magnificently transform Ralf into what the world really needs: a messenger sent from the future to save us from ourselves. Together with Tex they polish Ralf’s television persona to captivate America. The problem is that Ralf never goes out of character. He truly believes he is a prophet.
It’s lost none of its venom, its targets are still ripe for poisoning — if anything, the book has become more relevant since its completion. And if you’re not convinced? Read it for free!
Amazon.com: purchase page with a preview. The Publishers Weekly review quoted therein is retarded.
Amazon.co.uk: there are six copies going cheap right now.
Amazon.ca: have some left.
Or, if you’re in America and would like to support an indie, Mysterious Galaxy very kindly hosted a signing for me once, so I know they’re nice people, and they have copies too.
I got email from Norman a little while back, telling me that he has cancer. But also that, since the chemo started, he feels better than he has in years, and is even physically stronger. That’s Norman all over, really, and no less than you’d expect from the man who once wrote a story called "Carcinoma Angels."
April 27th, 2010 | brainjuice
April 27th, 2010 | microlog
Right, then. It turns out that DO ANYTHING (here’s a nice review) is available for any comic shop to order immediately. It’s not on backorder, and anyone who tells you they can’t order it for you is full of shit. Tell your local comics shop that the order code for DO ANYTHING is FEB100700. Tell them I sent you.
April 27th, 2010 | microlog
Is anyone in North America having trouble finding my book DO ANYTHING? Someone on my message board noted that amazon.com did have it available, but now say they’re out of stock and don’t know if they’ll be getting more. Khepri.com don’t have it, which surprised me, and TFAW don’t have any copies and say it’ll take them from 15 to 30 days to backorder a copy. And, of course, there are the usual stories of local comics stores not ordering it at all, but that obviously surprises me less.
(Obviously, the book is not in the UK and other territories yet thanks to the Icelandic Geo-Fart.)
April 27th, 2010 | daybook
So, on top of everything else today, the backup system to my external drive stopped working. I’m a a bit paranoid about backups these days, so, after fiddling around with it, I lodged a trouble ticket at the company. Who told me that I needed to upgrade to the new version. Mysteeeeriously, any purchase information on my backup software seems to have vanished since it stopped working, and saving all the settings and data before, at their instruction, uninstalling the old one and installing the new one… didn’t save all the settings and data. So now I’m invited to pay for the new backup software within 30 days.
Anyway, I did all that. And so the new backup software paid no attention to anything and has re-backedup everything on the laptop. Which took forever.
And then iTunes decided it couldn’t find anything, even though there’s a few hundred gig in exactly the same place it was yesterday. So I’ve ended up having to delete the iTunes library and make iTunes rebuild and rescan. Which is taking fucking ages.
None of which has anything to do with video. But video is something I’ve been thinking about again.
As I’ve said occasionally in the past, back in the 90s I really thought there’d be a point — perhaps in that distant year of 2010 — where video email would be a regular thing. I mean, I had a feeling videophones weren’t going to work. Ultimately, we repurpose the phone as a lying device too often. I’m too sick to come to work. I’m not going out tonight. I have buboes all over my face so I can’t see you today. The list of lies we use the phone for are endless, and the videophone puts paid to most of them. Also, people don’t want to be seen first thing in the morning.
(I had a couple of Nokia phones with front-facing videophone cameras. Used the videophone function exactly twice.)
But video mail? Video with intent? Video by people who just don’t like typing? I thought that might happen. I was very interested in vlogs for a while there, not because they were any good — they were mostly terrible — but because I could see great potential there, and I thought that people getting comfortable with video might turn out to be useful and fascinating. But they remain a niche thing, I think.
12seconds had a shot there for a moment, but they tied themselves too tightly to Twitter. And, really, nothing survives in the shadow of Twitter. If they succeed in building their own community (again) they might stay out of the grave…
On the other hand, Chatroulette will probably run strong for a while. Go figure.
Back to work.
April 26th, 2010 | researchmaterial
"Today we are opening up one of the world’s most reliable and comprehensive databases on developing economies. It includes more than 2,000 indicators from countries around the world, including hundreds that go back 50 years."
This is data porn on a massive scale. It’s also going to be hugely useful. The indicators alone…
April 26th, 2010 | brainjuice
April 26th, 2010 | Work
A huge response to last week’s big "everything is available" blowout, plus continuing difficulties and timesinks here at Mission Control, mean that we’re continuing said blowout for another week, and rebooting next week.
So, yes, everything’s still available at the IEU store for one more week, ending Sunday night.
April 26th, 2010 | researchmaterial
Got home to find this doing the rounds, from Blag Hag. I have no words, but the idea is funny enough to reproduce:
"Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,"HojatoleslamKazemSedighiwas quoted as saying by Iranian media.SedighiisTehran’sacting Friday prayer leader.
I have a modest proposal.
Sedighiclaims that not dressing modestly causes earthquakes. If so, we should be able to test this claim scientifically. You all remember thehomeopathy overdose?
Time for aBoobquake.
On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts… With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. …
April 26th, 2010 | daybook
Aaag, Mondays. Always a nightmare day. Need to finish a script, but it’s unlikely to happen because, aaag, Mondays. I’m going to be buried in admin and bits of things, like polishing off a pitch, Project R, going out in tandem with a production company, and peering at notes on Project S, a non-comics serial project with a friend that may or (likely) may not go anywhere. Sometimes, a lot of this job can involve throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Also, I desperately need to work out the middle four or five pages of FELL 10, which are giving me a pain in my sack at the moment. On top of that, I have to review a bunch of notes I made last year on two comics things, Project Bones and Project Nowhere (named with mild sarcasm because I know there’s something useful there but it goes nowhere, Which happens. Not every story idea actually has a story shape nestling inside it. Those ideas go back into the Loose Ideas folder and, more often than not, get subsumed into something else. IGNITION CITY hung around for more than 15 years as no more than "earth’s last spaceport, a circular artificial island with launchpads all around the edge").
(This is why I say: make notes. Hold on to them. Neil Gaiman waited something like twenty years to write THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.)
Watched part of a Bruce Sterling lecture last night where he conjures the image of Al-Queda in fetish gear and calls it "Warren Ellis territory." Not sure I can argue with that.