The Man Himself


So I saw Neil Gaiman yesterday and my opinion remains the same. He is a great writer and an engaging speaker.

He talked at length on how he feels about writing, where he gets some of his ideas from and whether there will be sequels to some of his popular books. I particularly enjoyed the story he told about his favourite book which he found in a bookshop situated in a converted hospital.  I want to go there.

I enjoyed myself.

The Guardian have a selection of quotes from the show.

What did grate was the sycophancy.  There’s no other word for it.  The guy who introduced him gushed for a couple of minutes about how great Neil is.  I wondered if it would be good form to stick fingers down my throat.  I thought, “Yes yes, he is – now can he speak?”  At one point during an anecdote, the audience burst into spontaneous applause (led by an over excited teenage girl) and I leant over to my friend and asked “Why is everyone else applauding? ”  She replied, “No idea.”

But don’t let my irritation put you off.  I believe it’s possible to read his work, watch his films and digest his comics without being infected with over eager fan-ness. And he should be appreciated he is a great author.




What should spaceships look like?

Good question isn’t it?

I once had an exchange over the latest Star Trek film and at one point my other correspondent said, “And another thing, I hate the way the Romulan ship looks like a big jumble of knives.”  I paraphrase but his problem was that the Romulan ship didn’t look like a “proper” spaceship.  Certainly not for the Trek universe.  I pointed out that we’re talking about a fanciful fantasy set in space… why shouldn’t the Romulan ship look like whatever it wants?

This week the BBC news service wonders the same thing, What Should Spaceships Look Like?

And today I thought I would watch 2001: A Space Odyssey again.  Kubrick‘s attention to detail in the ship designs he chose is impressive, I know that he hired staff from NASA to help.  There’s an obvious American feel to the space sections.  The machines all look as you would expect an American ship designer to turn out – almost rigidly functional – and there’s no mistaking that this is what spaceships should look like.  It’s almost a cliché.

You can even see a similar design ethos in the early Star Wars films:  clunky, rigid, spacey craft that nevertheless zip around at fantastic speeds.  It’s popularly known that they are a direct riposte to the sleek futurism of the Star Trek universe.

So what should a spaceship look like?

Well anything you like really.  It’s not like there are aerodynamic limitations in space.  There might be limitations based on whatever method of propulsion (rocket ships… need rockets and exhausts, but I think one of the most imaginative that I’ve ever seen is in the film The Fountain (of which I seem to be the only fan).  I’ve attached a pic to show it in its detail – but I think it clearly resembles the amniotic sac surrounding the Star Child at the end of 2001.. and bringing us back to the 60s once again.  Is there no escaping Stanley Kubrick?

The bubble looks a bit the amniotic sac of the Star Child at the end of 2001.

Scotland’s Amazing Comic Book Heroes

It seems that there’s some benefits to house sitting.

  • Nice food left in the fridge.
  • Quality plonk given as thanks.
  • 50″ plasma screen telly…

But really the best bit was stumbling across a short documentary about the influence of Scotland on modern comics.

Artworks Scotland:  Scotland’s Amazing Comic Book Heroes

This is an iplayer link so the program will not be available for long.

It was great.  I was a big fan of 2000Ad when I was a kid (stil am really) and  I’d never connected the dots between Oor Wullie and Judge Dredd.



I, for one, welcome our new Swedish Robotic Overlords

Imagine the scene, I am walking down Princes Streeet chatting to some friends when I notice a large gap in the buildings.  I scratch my head because I can’t recall what used to be there.  Later I sit down at my desk and find out what happened – robots demolished the vacant M&S shop to replace it with a Primark.  The story can be read here but I thought I would post up a pic.



The future is here and its demolishing one retail giant so that it can be replaced with another!

Colouful concepts

When I was a kid I remember picking up one of my dad’s SF books and being fascinated by the cover.  It was the bright orange cover of Asimov’s Foundation’s Edge.  When I was next in the library (remember those?) I searched around till I found a book of SF concept art.  I can’t remember the book title but there was one picture in particular that has stuck in my head.  It depicted a crashed spaceship in a jungle on an alien planet.  Out of the smashed cockpit hung the remains of the pilot.  Tendrils were growing from everywhere: out of the suit, all over the ship, from the eye sockets of the pilot’s skull…

I’ve been a bit of a sucker for alien landscapes ever since.  Today I came across this neato blog.

Pretty cool?  Click on the pic for more.

Alert! Geekery ahead.

I am going to publicly fess up to being a geek.  Yep, I am a walking talking stereotype.  That is… apart from having impeccable taste.

Not interested in geeking out with me?  Please ignore this post.  There should be something more interesting further down.

For the past wee while I’ve been using Chromium.  “What’s that?” I hear you ask.  Well it’s the developer version of Chrome – aka the unGoogled one.  There’s a couple of different branches to this particular browser, Google use it for testing new features in their browser, while others use it to produce a secure browse.  I’ve been using Chromium for a while because it lacked all of Google’s branding and also because I thought that the interface was pretty slick.  It IS an extremely agile browser.  Compare it with dross such as IE (and Safari)…  Firefox also seemed to have run off the rails.

The Mozilla browser had become bloated, took ages to load and it was looking quite dated.  Step forward mighty Google… and thus my flirtation with the dark side began again.  You’d think that I would have learned after the debacle of the earlier browser wars, and the software monopoly of Microsoft.  But, Chromium is a great browser it’s just that it’s backers New Satan don’t seem to look like the good geeks they purport to be.  I had an increasingly bad taste in my mougth so I thought I would take a look at the new Firefox (version 4).  It’s really good.  Really nippy and by switching back I can go back to the nice safe unobtrusive browsing I used to have.  And I feel much better for it – like I’ve been to geek gym!  I even managed to hack together a pretty slick interface rejig for it that I thought I would share:

I can’t take credit for this.  It’s actually a slightly tweaked look taken from this guy’s site. I salute you sir!