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Monday, July 31, 2006


Hello Metro fans!

I had an interview last week with a charming Metro journalist, which runs today. So, hello to all those who've decided to have a look while taking a sneaky pause at work - after all, you can't concentrate for eight hours or more without some breaks. This blog is going to be updated some more come tomorrow - as it auto-archives by month, and the book is out next month, I'm saving a few things for ease of reference. Here are a few things to entertain you in the meantime.

First, has anyone else noticed this? It's something that I'm going to add to the Lexicon (see The Other Side on this site) when I have a moment, but till then it's posted here:

The Fireman's Proof
Common in square-jawed sci fi , and sometimes crime, where the all-action hero has to undo the work of mad scientists. He comes away concluding that Certain Things Shouldn't Be Meddled With, or that Nature Cannot Be Changed, or something similar - when the real problem was caused not by meddling science but by cockeyed experimental methods, like testing something on an entire planet before trying a small control group or breeding for aggression before you've properly checked the creature's intelligence. Similar to a fireman concluding that chemistry is a malign art because a lab caught fire after the technician fell asleep while boiling something, when the only thing that's really been proved is that you should watch your experiments more closely.

A very funny reading experience to be had here: http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Misc/eyeargon.html - a story said to be the worst ever written. (Apparently it's well known among sci fi fans, but I only had it pointed out to me recently.) It was written by one Jim Theis when he was 16, and it tells the tale of Grignr the barbarian and his various struggles, with sentences like 'The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.' Reading it, I had to wonder if it was a hoax, but apparently not. The interesting thing is that, just occasionally, it hits on a metaphor that, from a competent writer, would look brilliant. The evil counsellor, for instance, suggests the following fate for the captured Grignr: 'Why not mellow him in one of the subterranean vaults for a few days, then send him to life labor in one of your buried mines.' Mellow him? Doesn't that have a nicely sinister air, a chef preparing his victims like wine? Though I feel a bit sorry for Theis (worst ever writer isn't exactly a nice claim to fame; I wouldn't be posting this except that he's dead now), I can't honestly ascribe it to good planning. It seems the monkey-on-a-typewriter effect works with imagery . . .

Also, if anyone is in or passing through London, I know the best chocolate shop in the world. Forget Belgium and Switzerland, the place where it's at is l'Artisan du Chocolat, http://www.artisanduchocolat.com/ArtisanduChocolatSite/pages/home/default.asp. Rather than using coffee and liqueur flavouring, which personally I don't like, they flavour with things like flowers, and fruits, and herbs, and just wonderful chocolate. One time I handed one to a friend of mine: she put it in her mouth, chewed for about a second, misted over, then waved incoherently and said 'Talk amongst yourselves . . .' And we had to leave her alone to finish her moment. Artisan is what happens to chocolate that was good in a previous life. Please, go there, buy their products, and keep them in business so I can keep shopping there.

Finally, for anyone who's having a bad office day, take consolation from these little rodents: http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/mypics/12278/display/5078224.

And have a nice day.


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