A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Farm

Back in the mid 2000s an interesting thing happened – STV made Science Fiction.  I say this but in fact what they were doing was showcasing the New Found Land Scottish Screen Project.  This was a series of short films produced with the aim of showcasing new or emerging Scottish Talent.  I remember at the time being excited because this thread clearly included SF of the type that you didn’t normally see on British television.  And it was made in Scotland.

Of these the one that most caught my eye was Rogue Farm.  This was a Scottish SF animation, basae on the short story of the same name by Charles Stross,  that seemed to carry all of the hallmarks of full-blown Anime.   I watched it at the time and I was impressed.  It wasn’t like anything else that I had seen produced in Scotland up til that point and while animation has moved on I think it’s still looks great.  You can watch it here:

According to the notes for the animation Michael Rose  approached the director to produce the a full length feature.  Alas the project fell apart due to “Creative Differences” and so we never got a full animated feature.

New Found Land produced a number of really interesting short films of which the next most memorable [for me] is IM. Unfortunately I can’t locate this one online but here’s the synopsis:

Scotland – the near future. Democracy has evolved. Technology has made it possible for citizens to vote in daily referenda. Non-participation is not an option. With his sister Char, Henry runs a wind farm. He defies the compulsory referenda, but the penalty for doing so also affects Char and their relationship is breaking down. Char wants to leave the farm and plays an interactive game show for the ultimate prize – a place on IM: Heaven Above Earth. The prize may not be all that it seems though, and when it looks as if Char might win, Henry attempts to stop her.

It was pretty good and as I recall opened with an apocalyptic vision of wind turbines in the near future…

You can find a full list of the films here, I see that they are available as part of the Scottish Screen Collection archive at the NLS.  Time to go to the library!

PS.  I was reminded of this by the site for the Glasgow SF convention Satellite 3.


Short Film: Archetype

I’ve been keeping an eye on this little short for a while.  It got flagged up as part of my project on future film making.

Watch this film.

It’s about a combat robot that develops feelings.  Or is it?

An archetype is something very typical or original that has been imitated.  Bear that in mind when you watch the film.  In terms of Science Fiction the concept isn’t exactly new but it is extremely well executed.  I don’t think this is surprising considering he’s worked in make up and effects since 1985.  Among his credits is work on Sucker Punch (visuals not story … thankfully), Incredible Hulk and The Mist.   If you watch right to the end you will get to see some of his concept art for how he wants to take the story forward.   According to this interview he’s interested in making a full length feature.  I hope he does.

If you’re interested in the background of the film of the film then take a look at the making-of and gallery over on the official site:  http://www.archetype-movie.com/

Final Day – Light Reading Competition

Just a wee note that this is the final day for the Light Competition.  My Flash Fiction Ariadne (by Gavin McMenemy) is on the long list there.  Vote if you haven’t.

Here’s the link:  http://light-reading.org/LightReading/Flash-Fiction.html

Don’t worry if you’ve already voted.  Be assured that it was much appreciated irrespective of outcome!


Repeat After Me – Wikipedia isn’t “down” or “blacked out” or “offline”

Turn off that light!

… but you are presented with a dark image and a message.  All of which is very easy to circumvent if you have the know how, access to a Google search or the relevant plug-in for your browser.

According to their FAQ:

‎Is it still possible to access Wikipedia in any way?
Yes. During the blackout, Wikipedia is accessible on mobile devices and smart phones. You can also view Wikipedia normally by disabling JavaScript in your browser, as explained on this Technical FAQ page. Our purpose here isn’t to make it completely impossible for people to read Wikipedia, and it’s okay for you to circumvent the blackout. We just want to make sure you see our message.
I feel like the only person asking “Eh?  What is your point caller?”  This is the definition of a blackout:
Pronunciation: /ˈblakaʊt/
1a period when all lights must be turned out or covered to prevent them being seen by the enemy during an air raid: people found it difficult to travel in the blackout [as modifier]: she peered out through the blackout curtains
(usually blackouts) British dark curtains put up in windows to cover lights during an air raid.
a failure of an electrical power supply: due to a power blackout their hotel was in total darkness
a moment in the theatre when the lights on stage are suddenly dimmed.
a suppression of information, especially one imposed on the media by government: there is a total information blackout on minority interests

2a temporary loss of consciousness: she was suffering from blackouts

In context, of all of these, the only one that makes any sense is: a suppression of information, especially one imposed on the media by government ...  This is the fear of Wikipedia – and the wider community of the internet – and yet their site is easily accessible.
This is a bit like a strike where everyone goes to work – pointless.  I have been told that what Wikipedia is doing is ensuring we get their message.  In fact that is what they are saying in their quote but I ask again – what is the point?  Surely if censorship is what is worrying then take away your service, exercise your right to withdraw your service – show the web what it will be like to be truly without Wikipedia.
Make a point.

The nature of this legislation has sent the internet into paroxysms of indignation while the mainstream media have remained largely mum.   I find that remarkable because it seems that the internet, or rather the sites people use to exchange information, are regularly confused with News by regular journalists.  Perhaps this bilge being reported by Rory Cellan Jones over at the BBC highlights the main problem – a lack of technical expertise in the field?

Students finishing essays, sports fans looking to settle an argument – or perhaps journalists wanting to check a fact – are going to be in trouble today. Wikipedia has gone black.

If you need to find out about other topics, try the mobile site – strangely, still working.

Or use one of Wikipedia’s language sites and have Google Translate render it into English.

By the way that’s taken from the sidebar – the main article isn’t any better.  Rory is one of the top BBC journalists.  Gosh.

SOPA* is not good legislation.  Generally speaking it’s rare anything rushed, ill thought out and the result of outside interference is.  Good legislation is built on: consensus, knowledge and experience.  SOPA is anything but and I’ll let the great Wikipedia explain why.

The irony, Me quoting SOPA** from a supposedly dark Wikipedia, is not lost on me.

*No, not this SOPA.

**I forgot to go on about PIPA which is a related piece of legislation.  At the time of writing support for SOPA has crumbled and likely to collapse.  PIPA will probably go the same way.  This sort of legislation is likely to come round again and keep coming round unless those making the law get a better handle on things.  Lobbies, both for and against, need to get their collective fingers out because it’s clear that the current situation is not tenable.  People who create are entitled to reward, also the costs should be fair for the those purchasing cultural material.  The misty eyed naivety of the Net Utopians or Blinkered Old Guard need to be dealt with –  there must be a third way that is fair for everyone.

Science Fiction Now and Tomorrow

The Guardian runs a very good books podcast that I recommend listening to.  They talk about all sort of literature and developments in the field and they’re not afraid to muck around in genre.

This week’s episode is particularly interesting as it features 2 of my favourite authors :  Alistair Reynolds and Jeff Noon.  Yes, that’s right Jeff speaks!  I’m a bit of a fan (as anyone who has read this blog before will know) and his new novel sounds as trippy as you’d expect.  Michael Moorcock also talks about his general disappointment with Science Fiction as it is now.

Check it out here.

Lauren Beukes also features.  Between her, District 9 and the well regarded Pumzi it looks like there’s a real renaissance in African Science Fiction at the moment.  Even Reynolds latest book features a near future Africa.

Flash Fiction – what’s that all about?

What IS Flash Fiction?

When I started writing I was only dimly aware that Flash Fiction even existed.  Over time I’ve read it a few times and I’ve always believed that it was any work that was less than 1000 words.  It turns out that it’s anything under that limit, under 1500 words, under 75 or anything else in between – there’s no cast iron definition. In fact it’s whatever a writer says it is though the common consensus is that at 1500 words you should stop being coy, grow up and call it a short story.

I wasn’t even aware that some people could win a competition or earn a bit of extra cash with it, yet here I am on the long list for a small competition which means £50 and inclusion in an anthology.  Voting closes on the 20th of January.

My story is Ariadne  (by Gavin McMenemy) and you can read it (with voting instructions) here:  Light Reading.

While you’re there you might want to check out the Diamond Light Source site.  They do cool things with fricking lasers Synchrotron radiation* (which I won’t go into detail here).

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Or so the saying goes.

I had a busy, nay hectic, last quarter of 2011 and have neglected this little place.

Goodbye last year, hello New!

I’ll be back into the habit of posting stuff from now on.

First things first:  Happy New Year to Everyone!