Friday, 30 July 2010

A Storm in a Port

As boats go, it's pretty impressive.

The days of the big liners in the Mersey are gone, now. Ship building is a pale shadow of what it was, and containerships have concentrated activity to the humungous container ports, that of nearby Seaforth, but to the detriment of the docks as a whole. When I was young the docks thrived with activity.

So, when the cruise liners do pay a visit, it's a bit special these days.

This is the Queen Victoria. She's in Liverpool to commemorate 170 years of Cunard operating services from the Mersey. Their first ship, RMS Britannia, set sail for America on July 4th, 1840. For its day, I suspect it was every bit as grand as this vessel.

Stormy skies, and the Liverpool skyline, make a fitting backdrop.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Murky Depths Issue 13

I've received my contributor copies of Murky Depths Issue 13, and whilst I've not had time to read it yet it looks to be another superb offering from Terry Martin and his team.

Amongst the table of contents, apart from my offering, "The Goodship Hyperdrive", a humorous tale of love and lust and deeply esoteric physics, is an exclusive comic from the master of mirth himself Robert Rankin.

Murky Depths may be purchased: Here

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Milo and other humans

There's an amazing demonstration of computer/human interaction on the BBC website today. It deals with Milo, a computer generated human, and how lifelike interacting with him can be. Take a look; it's well worth the visit to play the video:


To be honest, it seems both awesome and at the same time a little unsettling. I mean, do I want to interact on that level with my computer? If I empathise so much with this boy how will I feel about switching him off? Will it be like pulling the plug on a loved one, and not a vegetative, comatose loved one at that?

And given that the woman in the demonstration clearly reacts to Milo's mood, how can I be sure my Milo won't start playing guilt trips on me and manipulating me? I could become a slave to my computer generated human. And then I'd have to question which one of us is the artificial intelligence.

How long before Milo can switch himself on? I could come home from work to find Milo tapping his fingers impatiently.

It's a bit scary where it might end, no?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Throwing carpet slippers at ravens

I'm excited in that in the next few months I've three publications that will be loosed upon the unwary world.

There's the Haunted Legends I mention below in September, and before then I've a story due in Issue 13 of Murky Depths. Then, again in September, Burying Brian, my second novel will surface. After a fairly sparse patch of new publications it's nice to see things happening again.

I need to get submitting again, too, and writing some new stuff. Hopefully seeing Brian in particular will spur me on to a period of renewed productivity.

I've gone with a very short (half a page) prologue with Brian. It's odd, because in general I'm not that fond of prologues. But I wanted to introduce a portent early on in the form of a visiting raven.

Of course, in keeping with the tone of the novel I thought it best my protagonist should throw a carpet slipper at it.

And finishing Brian made me realise once more how in love I am with writing humour.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Barry J House

I'm sad to hear an e-friend of mine and fellow writer Barry J House has passed away.

Barry J House

Although we'd lost touch to some extent lately, I talked to Barry a good deal during the Whispers of Wickedness days, and he came over as a thoroughly nice bloke.

My thoughts are with his wife and two sons.