Simon’s Backup Weblog


Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly.

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on September 21, 2003

I Aten’t Dead Yet.

In the last two weeks I’ve been to San Francisco and Amsterdam, seen good movies and read good books. I’ve even got to play with neat new technology, and meet some (reasonably) famous people. I’ve also written my bi-monthly column, and two Guardian pieces.

Tomorrow I’m back off to the US, for a few days at a conference at a beach resort in Santa Barbara. Back in the UK on Friday.

Mmmm. Late summer in Southern California.

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Lovecraftian lunches made real…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on September 14, 2003

…by the discovery of the evil that is the Octodog. With possibly the most obscene How-To graphics I’ve seen.

“Ia, ia ftagn Octodog!”

On the left coast again…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on September 8, 2003

…courtesy of OracleWorld SF and 11 hours in seat 55a on a Virgin Atlantic 747-400.

I’m sat in the bowels of the Moscone Centre, in a busy press room, while I get myself sorted with the essentials: getting email, LJ and the like working on my tablet PC. Conference-wise, it’s been an interesting morning – there’s a lot happening here, and there’s a lot more to happen over the next few days. So I may be fairly quiet in here…

New (Old) Heinlein

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on September 5, 2003

Robert Heinlein’s long lost unpublished first novel has been found and is due to be published by the end of the year.

As of this writing, August 31, 2003, there are only about half a dozen people in the entire known universe who can accurately claim that they have read every novel Heinlein has written.

For those of us who thought there would never again be another new Heinlein novel, the impossible has become reality . “For Us, the Living,” is a brand new, never before published novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It is going into print now for the first time and will be in bookstores by the end of November, 2003.

Could be interesting.

Home Town Googles

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on September 4, 2003

As spotted in ‘s LJ… Type the name of your home town into Googlism and present the results in your blog.

Googlism for: Jersey

jersey is very unequally distributed
jersey is heating up
jersey is an equal opportunity employer notice to vendors
jersey is a charitable
jersey is here to help find
jersey is dyed deeper in indian
jersey is whodunit
jersey is an equal opportunity/affirmative
jersey is an invaluable resource for teachers
jersey is committed to providing every
jersey is the back door to hell
jersey is officially retired
jersey is a major supplier of tie
jersey is not blue * nor is pennsylvania
jersey is real
jersey is great
jersey is your
jersey is now offering the 2002 edition of
jersey is battling over bear hunt
jersey is here
jersey is a toss
jersey is about to make a momentous investment
jersey is back on display
jersey is the fun place to be
jersey is a haven for criminals’ dirty
jersey is on newjerzee
jersey is
jersey is a company
jersey is spotlighted on fenway center field
jersey is prince harry’s souvenir of england’s
jersey is just what’s in my rearview
jersey is dead faq
jersey is bullshit
jersey is bullshit and
jersey is #22
jersey is an ideal home for property holding structures
jersey is very unequally distributed over the past 10 years
jersey is an equal opportunity employer state of new jersey department of the treasury po
jersey is a charitable organization
jersey is dyed deeper in indian colours
jersey is gone
jersey is synonymous with engrossing places of interest; from historical castles to local potteries and rich vineyards
jersey is located on three regional campuses
jersey is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer the new jersey judiciary consists of
jersey is my home
jersey is an invaluable resource for teachers andrew pinckham teachers participating in a camden
jersey is real and it’s filled with gems
jersey is about 150 miles long and 70 miles wide
jersey is likely to be gay marriage battleground andrew jacobs
jersey is committed to providing every employee with a workplace free from unlawful discrimination
jersey is not blue * nor is pennsylvania scarlet
jersey is still jersey
jersey is now offering the 2002 edition of it’s collectible cloisonné pin
jersey is buff colored
jersey is dirty
jersey is battling over bear hunt september 8
jersey is home to vast geographic diversity that includes nearly
jersey is a peninsula
jersey is a
jersey is about to make a momentous investment in its educational infrastructure
jersey is an old expression for south jersey
jersey is part of the channel islands
jersey is made by reebok and is exactly the same as the
jersey is official training wear for the atlanta falcons
jersey is a statewide
jersey is a haven for criminals’ dirty cash
jersey is situated 14 miles off the north
jersey is made by reebok
jersey is a reproduction of the aqua 1984 miami dolphins jersey that dan marino wore
jersey is signed by 16 players from the tampa bay mutiny 2001 roster
jersey is from the 2001/02 season
jersey is from the first year of the reborn chl
jersey is separated from delaware on the south and southwest by delaware bay and the delaware river
jersey is opening up to the public by ben kimber saturday
jersey is bursting with cultural
jersey is spotlighted on fenway center field wall by jim bourg
jersey is brand new
jersey is prince harry’s souvenir of england’s win
jersey is the largest of the channel islands
jersey is a state of mind
jersey is a technological resource for the state of new jersey
jersey is in a
jersey is making the service a key part of its e
jersey is constructed from a mix of several obviously artificial fabrics
jersey is definitely new age
jersey is proof of that
jersey is bullshit and now central jersey user account number
jersey is pleased to be involved in such an important event
jersey is announcing blood drive locations and asking for donations
jersey is a portal site for the channel island of jersey
jersey is that it is different
jersey is home to the statue of liberty and ellis island
jersey is the most valuable?
jersey is better than your armpit
jersey is close enough to france to share it’s reputation for excellent cuisine
jersey is threatening your access to quality health care
jersey is personally signed by the player who wore it
jersey is fresh
jersey is one of the channel islands

More Monday Evening Capsule Reviews

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on September 1, 2003

Archform: Beauty, L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Another wonderful and sublime piece of science fiction from a man better known for his long running fantasy series. Modesitt isn’t ashamed of covering complex and deep issues in his works, and Archform: Beauty is a work that tries to show the role of art in society. It’s a multi-stranded novel, set in a nanotech future after the world has recovered from an environmental collapse. Several lives meet, twist around each other and are changed by the events of a few days. A politician, a singer, an industrialist, a news researcher and a policeman all have their stories to tell, and a world to illuminate. Modesitt succeeds again, with a non-commerical work that takes risks and asks big questions. A hugely under-rated writer. Ignore the fantasies, and go straight for his recent SF.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J. K. Rowling
Big book, short review. The usual formula sees Harry caught up in plots and plans to deal with the return of Voldemort. Despite this, it’s a fairly simple story. Harry is in his fifth year, facing big exams, and has his first crush. A new teacher at school is there to set things on a different path, while everyone is trying to protect Harry from something. A secret club to learn Defence Against The Dark Arts is his only solace.It’s a catalogue of disasters that will lead to a tragic death and a resolution snatched from the ashes. Not a brilliant book, but fun all the same. Someone should edit J. K. Rowling down a bit, though – there’s 300 pages of padding in here.

The Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde.
The third Thurday Next story sees her safely ensconced in the world of fiction. Inside the world were stories are born, she’s fighting two battles – against the woman trying to steal her memories, and against whoever it is that’s killing Jurisfiction agents? Fforde’s humourous prose takes us through a whirl of scenes and places, when characters hop from book to book, the nursery rhymes are about to go on strike, and everything hangs on the 923rd Annual Fiction Awards. And then there’s the danger of the speling vyrus. A fun read, but not one that moves the story forward that much. Fforde is having just too much fun riffing on the bookworld, and we’re content to join him in his games.

Singularity Sky, Charles Stross
It’s hard to write about a book that you’ve seen grow from an emailed first chapter to one of your best friends’ first published novel. I can’t pretend to be anything but biased – Charlie’s first book is a romp through a very different post-Singularity future. Like Vernor Vinge before him, Charlie finds a loophole that lets him write space operas in a universe where post-humanity leads to things we can’t even imagine, let alone understand. This is the story of an invasion, by a touring Festival, and the mission that’s sent to stop it (in a retelling of the voyage of the Russian Baltic Fleet to the Sea of Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/5)). It’s a story of causality violations, of critics, and of one engineer from Old Earth who’s more than he seems. Fun stuff, and only a taster of the work Charlie’s been doing recently.

The Collected Stories, Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke’s fiction has been one of those rocks it’s easy to go back to, as you swim through the rough seas of life. Simple books, with simple characters and easily understood problems and plots. And best taken in small doses. This collection pulls together all his short fiction, over 100 stories, dating from 1937 to 1999. Good stories sit next to bad stories, but it’s all glossed over by Clarke’s unboundless optimism. A good book for a short story or two before bed.

And that’s me up to date…

Floating Balloons

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on September 1, 2003

This BBC news story, about tomorrow’s attempt to break the high altitude balloon flight record by sending a balloon 25 miles up into the stratosphere, made me think of a Mike Oldfield song, sung by Jon Anderson on the album “Crises“.

In High Places

Look down from in high places
Lift off the ground
Without a sound yeah

We move through open spaces
The wind it pulls
The sky gets close yeah

Could we get much higher?
Could we get much lighter?
Navigator to heaven.

Check out did you check your heart?
This cloudless blue
This starlight night yeah

Shoot out into the shining
That devil moon
He sings of love yeah

Could we get much higher?
Could we get much lighter?
Navigator to heaven.

The stars so close we touch them
They seem so small
They make me wonder

Far out in formation
Five thousand moons
Floating balloons

Could we get much higher?
Could we get much lighter?
Navigator to heaven.

A Monday Evening Trilogy Capsule Review: The Arabesks

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on September 1, 2003

Three books that are almost one…

Pashazade: The First Arabesk, Jon Courtney Grimwood
Ashraf Bey is many things to many people. So many that he doesn’t really know who he is at all, apart from the fact that there’s a fox in his head. Running away from an American prison, he comes home to El Iskandyria. It’s a home he’s never known, and he’s here to get married. But when he turns down the arranged marriage, and his aunt is murdered, he suddenly finds himself caught up in the conspiracies and confusions that are life in this alternate tomorrow, where the Ottoman Empire never fell. Having to become detective isn’t quite what he had in mind, but it seems to be the only way to avoid being the prime suspect. A powerful and compelling novel that grips the reader from the first page.

Effendi: The Second Arabesk, Jon Courtney Grimwood
Things aren’t going well for Ashraf Bey and El Iskandyria. His ex-fiancee’s father is accused of genocide, the city is falling apart at the seams, someone is killing the tourists, and for some reason he seems to be in charge. In a maze of flashbacks and flashforwards, Jon Courtney Grimwood guides us through another complex sequence of events. It’s street thriller meets courtroom drama meets cyberpunk in a world where power politics is all, and one man has the tools to, if not change the world, then bend it his way for a little while. There’s a larger role here too, for Ashraf Bey’s nine-year old niece, the mysterious and talented Hani, who can make computers sing and dance for her. Another excellent story, in Grimwood’s best series to date.

Felaheen: The Third Arabesk, Jon Courtney Grimwood
Ashraf Bey’s back story comes to the fore here, as the story leaves El Iskandyria for Tunis and the politics of the wider world. The Emir of Tunis is on the edge of dying, and as Ashraf appears to be one of his sons, he finds himself drawn into yet more conspiracies and lies. It’s not a happy journey for him. This time he has to face who his mother was, who is father was and the shape of the world. It’s a complex tale, one that starts with Ashraf Bey on the verge of death in the desert, and takes through flashbacks to the very beginning of his journey. Not quite as compelling perhaps as the first two novels in the series, but definitely still a cut above the average, and a fitting conclusion to the series.

Now to see what Jon Courtney Grimwood does next…

Tickled my funny bone.

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on September 1, 2003

Man walks into a dentist’s surgery and says “Can you help me? I think I’m
a moth.”

Dentist: “You don’t need a dentist. You need a psychiatrist.”

Man: “Yes, I know.”

Dentist: “So why did you come in here?”

Man: “The light was on.”