Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rip-Off Alert

Regular visitors to know that most of the stuff I've ever published is freely available in a variety of e-formats on this site (and on some others). I'm a bit worried that this may not be a sustainable approach over the long haul (especially in times of global economic meltdown), but so far the counterintuitive-yet-undeniable truth is that going the Creative Commons route has only helped my writing career, such as it is. (In fact, I believe CC actually saved my career outright, by rescuing Blindsight from the oblivion to which it would have otherwise been doomed.) Anyone who wants to can download my work, copy and distribute it, convert it to other formats, hand it out as party favors, and masturbate in a warm tub to the soft erotic glow of my pixelated words on their e-book readers. Yay me.

There are some restrictions on this license, however. Authorship must be attributed, regardless of format. You're not allowed to rewrite the text, even you think the torture porn was gratuitous in behemoth and you know you can make Blindsight's infodumps less clunky. And you cannot charge money for work that I created and for which you paid nothing. (Or at least, you come to me first and we work out a deal where I get a cut.) The rights granted under my Creative Commons license are strictly noncommercial.

You can imagine, then, my reaction upon discovering this doofus here, selling "The Ultimate Peter Watts Collection" for £4.99 over at The fact that he describes my short stories as "books" makes it pretty obvious this is no fan; he probably hasn't read a word of my stuff, and is in fact selling the works of numerous other authors as well.

Anyone willing to pay for the Ultimate Watts Omnibus will most likely have already dropped by here and taken what they want, so it's not as though I expect e-bookkeeper_norwich to get rich off my efforts. Still, it burns my ass that he's even trying to; so if any of you have an account and ten minutes to kill, maybe you could report norwich-boy using eBay's handy on-line fink menu. (I myself lack that option, having no such account — although I may well report through more formal channels over the next few days).

No biggie. But what an asshole.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

And now for a word from our sponsor...

Anyone out there know someone in Toronto with a used treadmill (or elliptical trainer, I guess) to unload for a reasonable price? I can always go the Craigslist route, but I'd rather do business with someone one of you folks personally vouched for. It's important to have someone other than me to blame, in the event I get hosed.



Friday, January 9, 2009

I Hate the New Normal.

Tendonitis, they tell me: chronic, and calcified, and apparently dating from the time I dislocated my shoulder while surf-kayaking in 1991. Now, after almost two decades of peaceful dormancy the fucker decides to wake up and turn me into the One-Armed Wonder throughout the holidays— apparently provoked by too many lame-ass bench presses and one catalytic arm-flail while avoiding a faceplant on sheer ice.

It's gotten a lot better on its own over the past couple of weeks, but now appears to have stabilized in Forget all about me until you try doing an exercise and then I will fuck you up mode. Physio, they say, should take off the edge, but I may still have to change my exercise regimen. Bad enough that we're in the depths of that part of the year known as "The Plumpening"; now I've got stalagmites gumming up my rotator cuff. Fuck.

By the way, who was it that left their pants behind on my couch during Squiddance '08? The navy-blue ones with the really skinny legs and some kind of big fabric evagination where the scrotum should be?

Whoever it was, you can pick 'em up any time.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Squiddance '08: Big Green, Big Screen

Just for the next little while I'm commandeering the 'crawl for social event planning, since not everyone is on facebook and I don't have the time to set up an actual forum. I assure you this will not become a habit. Local real estate values will be restored shortly.

In the meantime, though, this is how the next few days are looking:
  • Dec 27, noon through whenever: "Cowboy Bebop" (brought to you from Squeak & Death Ray's personal collection), which has to be the worst title since "Battlestar Galactica" but which is widely regarded to be one of the best animé series ever, and one which Joss Whedon is rumored to have ripped off when he made "Firefly". We're talking 26 episodes and a movie, so this is going to take all the 27th and a chunk of the 28th.
  • Dec 28, probably noon unless anyone is still sprawled across furniture from the night before, in which case we might just pick up earlier: the Conclusion of Bebop, followed by a variety of one-offs whose order depends on local interest: "Perfect Blue", "Jin Rah", and episodes of "The Venture Brothers" are all in contention. Robot Chicken's Star Wars specials may also make an appearance. If I dislike all these I may just commandeer the set and force everyone to watch Eraserhead.
  • Dec 29th: Must be seen to be believed. The first half of Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica, rendered in glorious hi-def, would be cause enough to make the trip. But we have an added bonus for you. For those who were a) too young, or b) have suppressed the memory, a series called "The Starlost" was made right here in Toronto back in the early seventies. It was created by Harlan Ellison, engaged the talents of Ben Bova as science adviser and Douglas Trumbull (2001, Silent Running) on special effects. Acting talent ran the gamut from Sterling Hayden to John Colicos. The premise was nothing short of brilliant, and it is widely and justly regarded as the worst science fiction series ever made. And now, courtesy of the private (and soon-to-be-banned) collection of horror writer David Nickle, we present the entire 16-episode run of this atrocity interspersed among episodes of BSG. Think of the day as a kind of parfait, layers of gold and shit interlaced for as long as we can withstand the psychological whiplash. I have no idea how long this experiment will last. Perhaps we'll get all the way through both sequences, or perhaps we'll run screaming for our pitchforks after five minutes of Rachel and Devon. We won't know until we try.
  • Dec. 30: no showings. I must be in Oakville to help dispose of the last possessions of my decrepit mother, in the wake of her relocation to the dumpster behind the Denny's on South Service Road
  • Dec 31: still wide open. Maybe we'll all be sated by then. Maybe we'll watch the Lord of the Rings, extended edition. Maybe we'll just spin the disks and watch Wall-e or Brazil or 2001: A Space Odyssey for the hundredth time. Or Dark Star if it downloads in time.
So that's the closest thing we have to an actual schedule. Everything is liable to change without notice. We may even deke hard right and do some gaming: at least Portal and Half-Life: The Lost Coast can be completed in a few hours, and they look pretty good on a 47" screen.

Logo credit: Madeline "Squeak" Ashby.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brechtian Punk Cabaret: or, I Would Kill For Amanda Palmer

Of course she had me before she even appeared on stage, before we froze our asses off in the wind and freezing rain waiting for the doors to open, before I ever heard "Astronaut". She had me months before she dedicated "Oasis" (the peppiest date-rape-and-abortion song evar) to Sarah Palin. She probably owned me from the moment I first heard the Dresden Dolls' "Sex Changes" last spring, a song I whole-heartedly recommend to anyone disillusioned by once-great female icons who went all mushy and braindead in the wake of childbearing (I'm looking at you, Kate Bush. You too, Annie Lennox).

So in the interests of full disclosure, I probably couldn't have disliked Sunday's Amanda Palmer concert unless the lady had puked all over my shoes and called me needle-dick in front of my friends. But she didn't, and each step of that passionately-choreographed evening only served to ramp up my willingness to martyr myself in Her name. The statuesque androgyne Zoë Keating, starting the night with a stripped-down serenade on cello and Mac; The Builders and the Butchers, whose strangely atonal lead vocals somehow really work with their down-home foot-stomping songs about dead guys and apocalyptic floods. The shrouded body of Amanda Palmer herself being pall-borne onto the stage and laid at the keyboard while Neil Gaiman recounted his feelings upon hearing of her death, the rumors over who had killed her and why, the clinical descriptions of Palmer's crustacean-nibbled corpse dredged up from the river bed.

And then, ohmygod, Her Resurrection.

The music was amazing, but you knew that going in because you've obsessively replayed the albums until the very electrons have been worn down past the Planck length (skipping over, perhaps, such lesser lights as Night Reconnaissance and that vaguely lame sheep-slaughtering song). You were sort of prepared for the adrenaline spurting from her fingers because you've seen the live clips on Youtube. But there are these other elements that split your face into a big goofy grin: the Danger Ensemble1 infiltrating the audience and performing evocative little counterpoints of performance art right down there on the dance floor2 during the songs. The "Ask Amanda" segment. A ten-minute philosophical deconstruction on the lyrical inconsistencies inherent in Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer", and whether they can be resolved by context-sensitive interpretations of the phrase "making it". And finally, with an audience demanding another encore even though it was past midnight and noise bylaws would have been violated, we got this:

Amanda Palmer, standing on the bar in fishnet stockings, frilly bloomers, a corset, and — yes, your eyes are not playing tricks on you, a SQUID HAT!!!3 — leading rapturous fans in a singalong cover of Radiohead's "Creep" on the ukulele.

I know one jaded, grizzled old city hall journalist and horror writer who was literally brought to tears by AFP's performance that night. He was far from alone.

I have to go back to work now. But before I leave, let me take this opportunity to publicly thank the lady who first introduced me to Amanda Palmer and the (currently moribund) Dresden Dolls. I can really only think of one way to repay her, because there's only one desire she's ever expressed to me that is unambiguous and unmistakable: she really, really wants to stop being referred to as a member of The Puppy Brigade.

Consider it done. Now we're even.

1At least one member of which I might also kill for, although that's only because she reminded me of an ex-girlfriend of whom I never really got my fill.

2Which I thought was pretty brave. All it would take is one asshole from the audience to fuck things up completely, and given that AFP has known to play topless it would be amazing if a few such assholes weren't in evidence at each performance.

3Sadly, she felt compelled to take the squid off her head during the actual singing part. Said it might detract from the inherent dignity of the performance.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Welcome to Pedo Central

At least, that is evidently the opinion of the net nanny at the Marriott Residence Inn, Woodlands, TX— which, Madeline tells me, blocks access to the 'crawl because it is "harmful to children".

Certainly we appear to get under the skin of some folks, judging by the bleats of outrage that pop up in the comments now and then. The occasional post may have ticked off a parent or two. But harmful to children?

Apparently so. Because upon this 'crawl, you can find entries containing the word "pedophilia".

I have to thank the stalwart bastions of the Marriot for bringing this to my attention, and also for awakening my own inner activist. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to lodge a complaint against that seething den of virulent antiSemitism, B'nai B'rith.

I think I saw the word "holocaust" on their website a while back...


Thursday, November 20, 2008

…And Eric Cartman as Sarasti.

Calling out for some suggestions here.

I seem to be juggling a small spate of interviews/online discussions at the moment, one of which is a long-overdue contribution to something called "My Book, the Movie". This is an ongoing blog in which various authors dream a bit about who they'd like to see direct/star in/roach-wrangle movie adaptations of their novels. The closest I ever got to a serious movie adaptation was via some guy working for South Park, who wanted an option for Starfish without paying any money up front. Oh, and someone else who respected my dedication to scientific credibility so much that she'd lined up the writer of Wing Commander for the screenplay. Bullets were dodged, travesties avoided, and here I am years later still subsisting on a hand-to-mouth diet of rice and barnacles.

Anyway. Back then I thought that Carrie-Ann Moss would make a kick-ass Lenie Clarke, but she's since aged out of the twentysomething demographic. I thought Ridley Scott might be a decent director, and Cameron certainly had the underwater/female hero thing down pat, but those are both pretty obvious choices. I've put this thing off long enough; I've got to come up with names I'd like to see representing my work on both sides of the camera, but I'm not experiencing any aha moments.

So, what do you people think? Any ideas?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where Were You When the USA Pulled Back from Being a Fascist Shithole?

I was on the other side of the camera that took this picture, blocking the view of a big honking flatscreen monitor which showed the United States morphing magically into a place I would actually like to live:

It was a brief and unfamiliar moment of happiness, so very long in coming: one of the good guys rising to take the reins for a change, delivering an inspirational and almost1 flawless challenge that might have been cowritten by Aaron Sorkin and the entire screenwriting staff of Battlestar Galactica — and nobody had even shot him by the end of it.

Of course, my companions being what they were, that brief shining moment was not to last. Obama hadn't even finished speaking before two of them had fallen into a loud and bitter argument over which side of the Rockies Colorado was on. A third joined in when the fight turned to whether Missouri was pronounced "Mizzury" or "Mizzourah". And it was hard to make out the president-elect's closing words over the sound of a heated discussion on the necessary caliber of weapon needed to penetrate the bulletproof glass from a range of 1.5 miles.

Didn't matter, though. I looked at that eloquent figure and the massive support he'd won. Then I looked to the pallid and small-minded weasel who rules my own country, to the pathetic squabbling terriers who act as his opposition. And I realized that the day had come when the progressives in our midst might actually start fleeing south for a change.

Who knows? Given the right breaks, I might even go with them.

1Marred only by a brief and unfortunate reference to a pet which, to put it delicately, was not a cat.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Very Funny.

Okay, which one of you jokers is responsible for the following promotional offer appearing in my in-box?

Subject: Promote Your Christian Book

Christian Book Marketing is a division of Awesome God Publications. Awesome God Publications has been actively serving the Christian community since 1998. Through our years of experience in dealing with Christian books and publishers we have determined a need for Christian authors to market their books differently than traditional authors. We are able to market your book directly to a Christian audience who has proven that they have an interest in Christian books. Another advantage is that we are able to provide complete product handling - from warehousing your book to shipping and invoicing!

Our years of experience and excellent relationships with our contacts makes Christian Book Marketing a natural choice to promote your Christian book to as many Christian readers as possible!

Christian Book Marketing
"Reaching One More for Him"

Christian Book Promotion Packages
starting at $499.00!

There's more, but you get the idea. Judging from the asking price, though, these guys skipped over that part of the gospels with the bit about camel's eyes and needles. It seems an exorbitant price, especially given a marketing slogan that only promises to reach one measly person.

bec, was this you?

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Never Trust a Gastropod.

I met Toronto's mayor last night. The satanic Dave Nickle and I ended up at the Duke of Richmond, in the wake of a late city council meeting he'd been covering. Dave was buying, having racked up a whole evening's worth of Blood Beers on account of all the snails he'd stepped on during our morning runs. We had a few, and watched the floor show: a barrister who'd had a few more, and was throwing ice and spittle all over the establishment, and was eventually not merely bounced but banned forever from the Duke. (Noble profession, the law.) And there sat David Miller, mayor of Toronto, way over on the other side of the bar, along with an entourage of councilors.

One of those councilors — an environmentalist by the name of Gord Perks — had read some of my stuff, and liked it (well, except for the last fifty pages of Blindsight). I'm not exactly certain how this happened, but somehow I ended up getting hauled physically over to the mayor's table and introduced as a minor literary treasure or a municipal literary wanker or something along those lines. And I think that as I shook the mayor's hand, I said that I only dared to intrude because I'd been assured he was already drunk and would therefore not remember anything tactless I might say in his presence (which is actually kind of a meta comment, if you think about it). But looking back, there are so many ways of parsing I'm only coming over here because you're drunk that I'm not entirely sure the intrinsic humility of my sentiment made it through.

Anyway, he wanted to know how to get my books. I told him he could download them for free from my website. He told me he wanted to pay for them. I told him to download them for free, and put the money he saved into expanding Toronto's public transit system. He said he'd just poured several million dollars into transit and could damn well afford to pay for his own books. I think I asked him if some of that money was going to a subway extension to Pearson Airport, and I think he said yes, but frankly my recollection is a bit hazy.

It all seems much less sparkly in hindsight than it did at the time. I either came across as a wit and raconteur, or as a complete asshole. Either way, I suspect I made an impression. Just to be on the safe side, I think for the next little while I'll duck shamefacedly into an alleyway whenever I see Gord Perks heading up the street in my direction. Fortunately I don't have to worry so much about Dave Nickle — that dude forgives anything.

Stupid snails.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

And While We're On the Subject...

Courtesy of the Shoe-On-Other-Foot Dept...


Thursday, October 2, 2008

For want of a nail.

For decades now, experts from all walks have provided sage wisdom about the need to save for my declining years. We no longer live in a word of services, they've told me. We live in a world of ownership. It is not enough to save. You must invest. And this can sometimes be hard to hear — because although it's hard to argue against saving for one's old age, your average hard-sf author is generally lucky to have enough cash saved up at any given time to keep going for just the next year. Being told that you have to take that cushion and invest it — that you must hack your life-support horizon down to two or three months and put everything else into an untouchable account to grow and mature while you just kinda hope that the Russians aren't lying to you about the money for next month's groceries being in the mail, and that Tor will only withhold 70% of the royalties they owe you rather than the 100% they kept last cycle — well, it's a bit scary. It's Dumpster Daring is what it is, and the Dumpster is not easily mocked. And given that conventional economics seems founded on premises so absurd you wouldn't even find them in the AD&D Monstrous Compendium (endless growth from a finite-resource base? Value-added information?), you gotta wonder if — given the luck of the average hard-sf writer — the whole house of cards might not collapse the day after you bit the bullet and trusted your life's savings to the Wisdom of the Market.

So my response to all this well-meaning advice, only half-joking, is that my RRSP is contingent not upon maximizing my own wealth, but upon the catastrophic elimination of everyone else's. My retirement plan is to wait until the financial apocalypse levels the playing field between the haves and have-nots, then head out to search the rubble for tinned goods wielding the archetypal Treehouse-of-Horror "board with a nail in it". I'm taller than most, with a longer reach. I exercise. I've already got the board, and enough generalized anger stored up to use the fucker at the slightest excuse. (I've also got an investment account at e-trade, but I have never made a single transaction with it; it's just a place to park my cash where the Revenue-Canada tapeworms can't feed off it.)

That was my plan. As I say, conjured partly in jest. But if y'all look around the current economic and political landscape this week, you might agree that all that writing about the future may have actually stood me in good stead for once.

Now all I need is a big, rusty nail.


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Sunday, September 28, 2008


Yeah, I know. Merciful extended silence again.

Not that there's nothing to talk about. There's a paper just out in Consciousness & Cognition which purports to prove that logical thinking requires consciousness (which would seem to contradict other findings, but I haven't read the paper yet so who knows). I've been ruminating on the inherent and hardwired dumbness of electorates throughout this continent, and various recent neurological findings — not to mention archival analysis of "Hardy Boys" novels — that might cast some light on why this would be. My name seems to be getting cited as an exemplar of Gloom in an online squabble about "The New Dismal" in science fiction. And at long long last, I sent my first tale of the intrepid and grumpy starfarer Sunday Ahzmundin off to Gardner Dozois, who received it with somewhat greater enthusiasm than I was expecting, so that's good. (Thanks again to Ray for pointing out the inconsistencies in the penultimate draft of that story, and to all those others out there who threw rocks at him. You can stop now.)

But for various reasons — not the least being the necessity to prepare for a course that will probably end up being cancelled anyway, but which I have to gear up for regardless because we're only one registrant away from critical mass and the damn thing starts on Wednesday if it starts at all — I haven't had time to set all that stuff to screen yet. So in the meantime I'll simply point out that the broken Fizerpharm Vampire Domestication slideshow has at last been fixed, and is running again over here*.

*It is not yet running over on the Backlist page, though; that's a different Flash file, which I'll get around to fixing in turn eventually

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reznor and the Singularity

Well, they suckered me. After I'd heard so much about the vaunted FX of Nine Inch Nails' live show, Reznor et al stomped through an opening assortment of Slip and Year Zero tracks against a competent-but-hardly groundbreaking backdrop of coloured spotlights and dry-ice vapor. Four or five songs in, I was resigning myself to merely settling for the best industrial noise this side of Eraserhead, when —


—suddenly the boys were playing Ghosts on the night-time sand dunes of fucking Arrakis, and then


— they were playing "Vessel" from what I can only describe as the inside of a Cylon epileptic seizure, all bloody static and distorted neurological imagery and pounding plasma wavefronts. They never looked back. One moment they'd be spinning ethereal instrumentals in a fire-blackened twilit wetland where the water shimmered like yellow mercury; the next the stage would be infested with phalanxes of luminous teleporting spindles of light. Torrents of televisual static — you know, the old stuff dating from a time when Gibson's "television tuned to a dead channel" meant something other than a blue screen of death — swirled around the band's ankles like sea foam, then took flight to coalesce into an electronic overcast ten meters above the flooring. The whole damn stage would disappear behind walls of light that morphed from waterfall to a field of pulsing topographic tumors. At one point, some guy with a squeegee came out and actually wiped the dancing visual static away from midair, for all the world as if it were muddy streaks on someone's windshield. We saw a nighttime cityscape shimmering in heat haze, and igniting. Even the more conventional LED arrays seemed to be saying something, the patterns flickering across their faces just slightly the wrong side of random. I kept squinting to see if I could decipher some hidden message in those lights, and why not? This was the guy who spectroscopically embedded The Hand of God in the static burst at the end of "My Violent Heart". It's all noise, sure: but none of it is meaningless.

I walked out the stadium feeling a little like a Cro Magnon who'd just glimpsed the far side of the Singularity, with two thoughts tugging at the back of my mind:
  • Year Zero's logo for the Faithful Civil Patrol remains the best single icon of the contemporary U.S.A. in my experience; and
  • If Reznor had told the ecstatic, fanatical mob swaying before him
    to go into the streets and tear this fucking city down, Toronto's
    police force — only marginally less corrupt than the FCP, if a lot less religious — wouldn't have stood a chance.
I almost wish he had.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

The voices that control me from inside my head say I shouldn't kill you yet.

Self-loathing giant squid. Bad-ass fucking fractals. If Randy Newman did the theme for The Passion of the Christ. A furry old lobster and a creepy doll. GLaDOS. An extended dance remix of a contest for the world's best pants. Tom Cruise.

Oh, and your brains.

I just had front-table seating at Jonathan Coulton's first-ever Canadian appearance, backed up by two guys called Paul and Storm who I'd never heard of, but who were pretty fucking clever in their own right.

It was a triumph.

Update: Vaguely Satanic buddy David Nickle has Youtubed some excellent footage of last night, specifically Coulton's ensemble rendition of "Re: Your Brains", courtesy of Karen Fernandez's remarkably steady hand and a Canon Powershot. If you listen carefully, you can hear me in the chorus.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In Honor of George Carlin

Just a few days ago, I got a rather odd piece of e-mail apparently meant for me even though the salutation read "Dear Mr. Kelly". At least, if it wasn't meant for me, there's some other author out there whose writing is "not a fun place to be", and in which the ocean plays a prominent role. Which, come to think of it, is not especially unlikely.

Anyway, I endeavored to answer this guy's questions, which ranged from specific queries about Hemmingway flashfic to write-your-own-essay questions like "Why does ______ matter?" (I had to cut some corners on that last type, especially when the blank was filled by subjects like "the ocean" and "science fiction".) But the weirdest question of the lot had to be
"What is in your opinion the most important word or if that is to (sic) limited idea in the English language for story making etc . and why so?"
What the fuck, thought I. And therein lay the seeds of my answer:
I don't think there is a "most important word", but if forced to choose, I'd probably pick "fuck". Firstly, it appears in a lot of dialog. Secondly, it connotes mating/sexuality/reproductive behavior— and in Darwin's universe, everything boils down to inclusive fitness, reproductive success. Territorial squabbles, head-butting behavior, social systems: pretty much everything we do, the whole of human drama, is massively impacted by the energetics of reproduction.

Plus, it pisses my parents off something fierce.
A magic word, fuck. A voodoo word, condemned and censured by pretty much every official institution for no real reason anyone can pin down except that, a few centuries ago, this continent was invaded by a bunch of bible-thumping prudes so scared of their own animal secretions that they felt compelled to demonize any public reference to bodily functions. A day barely passes when I don't marvel at this absurdity. Somehow, unlimited and gratuitous use of the word frak is safe for the delicate ears of children the world over— but let fuck pass your lips, although it means exactly the same thing, and the glowering goons from Standards and Practices will have your ass in a sling and your broadcast license up for review faster than you can say "cuntlips". Assuming, of course, that you could say "cuntlips".

Carlin did his best to strip such words of the idiotic power they hold over the brain-dead in our midst. (He also had some cogent and cutting things to say about religion, not that many of the mainstream media types seem to be mentioning that aspect of his routine.) And now he's left us, his noble task incomplete.



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Night of the Non Sequiters

So the CBC pushed, as bullies are wont to do; only this time the rights holders of the iconic "Hockey Night In Canada" pushed back. Now, the game's afoot; Stephen Colbert has promised to make a habit of singing the newly-freed HNiC "while punching beavers in the face!" (oh, and — non sequiters within non sequiters here, but was that Jonathan Coulton backing up Hodgeman on "The Daily Show" the other night or was I dreaming?); the CTV snuck in and handed the CBC its ass on a plate, with a side of egg-on-face; and Canada's national broadcaster is suddenly in need of another National Anthem with which to begin its hockey nights.

Might I propose this heartfelt gem from Warren Zevon.

Seriously. There could be no finer candidate.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jury Duty, Day 3

bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored boredbored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored boredbored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored...

I did, however, get a fair bit of writing done. Including a new, longer-than-usual fiblet. Which I would post now, except someone has just phoned in search of beer and I need a break after all these 'crawlments I've just answered.

So, see you tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jury Duty, Day 1.5

Morning uneventful, with the exception of a brief episode in which some doofus at the next table was heard to opine that "It's just a myth that we're running out of oil" and I practiced my inestimable skills at self-discipline by not throwing a bag of peanuts at his head. Got some writing done on "Pidgin" or "Tardigrade" or "Remus"— the Sunflowers story that the recent fiblets have been coming out of, anyway (any preferences among those titles, btw?).

Buggered off in the afternoon to attend a friend's wedding, at which I'd agreed to serve as ring-bearer only on the condition that I be allowed to raise my hand when the Justice of the Peace reached that point about "If any here know of any reason why these two should not be joined" 1. Idle conversation amongst the assembled prior to the ceremony covered a range of topics including gang rape, alcohol abuse, and the TV series House. Last words spoken by the bride prior to ritual were "Remember: everybody lies," which I assumed was meant in reference to her imminent vows until I realized that I had been screwed and the "if anyone has objections" bit had been deleted from the ceremony. The ceremony ended with the traditional "I now pronounce you married", and a somewhat less-traditional cry of "I change my mind!" from the bride five seconds later.

Went for a gnosh (nosh?) afterwards and met some interesting folks, including the sound wizard who salvaged the mix on Rush's Counterparts album. He tells me both Geddy Lee and Neil Peart are clinical geniuses. (Alex Lifeson, not so much.) Bride wanted to know the spatial radius for allowable infidelity when doing field research; husband pointed out that under Canadian law, someone could be throwing napalm on a helpless victim right in front of you, and you would not be legally required to do anything to stop them or help the victim even you knew the assailant would abort the attack if you asked nicely. This also answers yesterday's unasked question about accessories. Not only is the answer "no", but in Canada we don't even use the word "accessory", preferring instead the more festive "party to the crime". (We don't use the word "felony" either, apparently.)

Also, in this country you apparently cannot legally consent to have your finger cut off.

1Said objection would have been an in-principle observation that Humans — in fact, mammals in general — are not by nature monogamous, and the whole death-do-us-part shtick is more probably rooted in a money grab by religious institutions than in any improbable evolutionary anomaly.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Jury Duty, Day 1.

We begin with an educational video on the Joys of Jury Duty so lame that just watching it made me feel like I was living an episode of The Simpsons. Inspirational music susurrating around the voices of really bad actors wearing head scarves and hard hats, all spouting variants of "When I was summoned for jury duty, I thought, why me? But now I know that there's nothing more exciting than serving the cause of Justice and my fellow Canadians! And even though they don't pay us or give us travel allowances, and even though they'll throw us in jail for six months and fine us $5,000 if we try to skip out, and even though their lawyers get $500/hour while we have to pay $3 for a cup of fucking coffee while trapped in an underventilated corral with four hundred fellow cattle and three hundred fifty chairs and no fucking wireless access, I know that the Justice System of Canada values me, because you can't have a jury without jurors!"

Most telling dialog-based inference to get past the censors: "And it really restored my faith in the Canadian Justice System!"

Right out of the gate, called up to court. Sadly the jury was selected before my name was even called, although I suspect my chances of being accepted were probably pretty low after I pumped my fist in the air and said "Yes! Score!" when they announced that the trial was for First-Degree Murder.

Most unexpectedly heartening moment: When I realized that of the twelve final selected jurors, all of whom were given the choice of swearing on a Bible or merely making an oath of affirmation, every last one of them chose the non-faith-based alternative. I did miss the usual irony of seeing people swearing to tell the truth on a book of falsehoods — in an institution supposedly predicated on the pursuit of fact and empiricism, no less — but I was glad to pay that price if it means that so many of our population have opted out of superstition.

Question Most Regretted For Not Having Had the Chance to Ask: "While I accept the need for secrecy during the course of the trial itself, I think I probably will be talking to other folks about my jury deliberations after the trial concludes, even if it does break your stupid law. My question is: since you now know this, are you not making yourself an accessory by allowing me to continue serving as a potential juror?"


Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Word to my Imposter

So it turns out there's this Peter Watts page on Facebook, and it reports on the presence of this Peter Watts character who evidently joined Facebook on April 11 2008, and who posted cover art from my books and also posted, I'm guessing, that sepia-tinged photo of me from Readercon.

The thing is, that person is not me.

I did join Facebook briefly, back when I was with On Spec, because that was the only way to access their Facebook page. However, I shut down my account1 once I parted ways with those gutless wonders, and I'm pretty sure I'd remember if I'd set up a self-aggrandizing shrine within the past two months. (After all, I remember setting up this website.)

I've no objection to anyone setting up a PW tribute page if they want to (although given the pitiful number of people who've signed up, not to mention the negligible level of activity thereof, I might also be inclined to just take a hint and quietly pack the thing up). But I would ask them, please— in fact I would even demand, please— that they use a different name than mine. There are enough real Peter Wattses out there as it is: there's an astronomer, a wine merchant, a New Zealand Artist, Naomi's dead dad, and a drummer to name but a few. I'll go out on a limb and guess that none of us want our names stuck on things we've no connection to. In my own case, it makes me look pretty pathetic if people think I've had to resort to setting up my own fan site.

So please, whoever you are. Knock yourself out; but do change the name.

1 At least, I shut it down insofar as FB would let me; it still greets me by name when I land on a page in its domain, cheerfully telling me that my account is dormant and explaining how to reactivate it, so they obviously haven't purged my personals. The fuckers.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Breaking Camp

Been a significant gap between postings, I know. Chalk it up to a bit of work getting done (first installment of Reality, ReMastered goes live next week or the week after, I think), a lot of other work not getting done, and, once again, the ill-advised decision to buy a laptop from Dell which has brought me nothing but grief. (For those of you recently arrived at this blog: never, ever, ever buy a Dell. My other computer is a dual-boot dual-core Linux machine which I cannot wait to get back to.)

The sandhills are in the rear-view mirror now. In their honor, a few pictures once again courtesy of Dan Brooks. This diptych, perhaps, thumbnails the whole experience most effectively:

Keep in mind that it took two days for the first picture to turn into the second. (And back again, too, a couple of weeks later.)

This is what you'd see from the porch if you were crazy enough to get up at five in the morning:

And this is either me, or Seth Brundle after an unfortunate accident with a telepod:

Don't worry: this is not the shape of things to come. I'll be dumping the travelogue pics and returning to the usual rants and research once I've got back home and cleared the decks. I just figured I should post something in the meantime, and stills from Frisky Dingo would have probably infringed copyright.


Kill Me Now.

Evidently Michael Bay has been signed to adapt the Rifters trilogy, judging by this poster of Lenie and Kenny. I had not realized that Lubin was black. Nor that he propelled himself, er, anally. I guess this is the price one pays for movie adaptation.

Thanks to one Matt Arnold for the coffee/saliva stains all over my keyboard.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Christian Rock Band: The Album Cover*

You can tell from the salacious, revealing costumes.

Because in Nebraska, this is the most you can get away with.

*Photo by Dan Brooks


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Brown Lands...

...Just outside Mordor.

So. Where am I now?

(Lars, if you're out there, I rescued a box turtle in your honour the other day. To commemorate, I carved your name into his plastron.)


Friday, May 2, 2008

Ultima Thule, That's Where.

It is May 2nd. The middle of Spring. Two days ago, where I am now, it was 27°C. This is the most sheltered side of my cabin:

This is the approach to my cabin:

I have no exact numbers for you, but I can tell you that wind speed is strong enough to make the road's runoff flow directly uphill (at least in those sheltered little gulleys where the run-off hasn't simply frozen into two-lane Hieronymous Bosch frescoes on the spot). There are pelicans on the lake in front of me; at least, there were a couple of hours ago, before the viz declined so precipitously (get it?) that I could no longer see more than two meters offshore. Perhaps by now they are only Pelsicles.

Riddle me this: Where am I?

More to the point, what am I doing here?

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Trudeau Was Wrong

The universe is not unfolding as it should. It is merely unfolding as it always has.

It was a nice dream while it lasted: a grass-roots campaign, launched and promoted by the scientific community, supported by Nobel Laureates, endorsed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, pimped on science blogs far and wide: a debate among the three presidential candidates on science policy. Because word has it that science and technology might have some small amount of impact on, you know, the future of our fucking species. Just maybe.

And all three candidates have declined the invitation. Oh, Clinton and Obama tripped all over themselves signing up for a televised debate on "Faith and Values", of course, but then, faith is pretty much what you want it to be. You can make any statement you want, with no fear that some uppity chick with too many letters after her name is going to jump up and say Actually, we got the data on that, we did a multilinear regression and it got an radj.2 of 0.82 with P<0.0001,and according to those numbers God actually doesn't want you to put retarded children in the electric chair. That's the main reason faith sucks, actually.

Science is a whole different ball game. You shoot from the lip on climate change or El Nino and some guy who's spent his whole life studying the subject is liable to set you straight. And that's the thing about politicians. They don't like it much when it’s obvious that they're not the smartest ones in the room. (I rather suspect this is why Stephen Harper is such an intensely private man.)

I didn't expect McCain to go for it. He'd probably lose support if any of his base thought he had any respect for science. Clinton, well, we all knew she'd avoid it if she could, but there was hope she'd be shamed into it just to keep up with Obama. And Obama? The dude throws out enough curves (and catches enough of those aimed at his head) that he might have just gone for it.

But no. Once again, the status quo reigns supreme.

Fuck all of them. May drug-resistant syphilis saturate their bloodlines, may their genitals wither and drop off. You especially, Obama. You alone offered hope for real change, you alone made the unrepentant realists among us think Hell, if that guy is making it work, maybe we can turn this thing around after all. You actually made an optimist out of me, for a little while. And because of that, you suck harder than all the rest.

You're still way better than the alternatives, granted. But that's a pretty low bar to clear.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Music is a drug

At least, the endorphin receptors in my head are still buzzing madly almost an hour after the encore ended. I kind of lost touch with Oysterband back in the early nineties, when they decided no one was listening to their lyrics anyway so they might as well just have fun and do covers of I Fought the Law. Except I was damn well listening to their lyrics, and their music, and I always thought I Fought the Law blew goats. So I went away.

But evidently that was just a phase, because I just saw them and it was the best fucking concert I've been to in years. The mix and the acoustics were as clean as a studio recording, except they were right there, live, in front of our table. The new tunes were great, the old ones lovingly rendered, and even the cover they did sneak in — the ancient traditional John Barleycorn — was an electric revelation in close harmony with massive percussion.

I tell you, the UK grows the best groups...

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Flash & Flesh

After endless harangues from various online sites telling me I couldn't view their fucking galleries until I installed the latest version of Flash, I overcame my usual aversion to so-called "upgrades" (MediaPlayer 11, anyone?) and complied.

Now the Vampire Domestication talk (here, and here) is broken in Firefox (both 2 and Beta), Netscape, and Opera: a few seconds of click-ridden vocals and then the soundtrack goes dead. (I am miffed to have to admit it still seems to work okay in Internet Explorer 6 because Microsoft isn't supposed to make software that works better than its competition.) And it's not just the online copy; my local back-ups have crapped out too. I find it unlikely that all these copies would simultaneously die on me, so I'm left hypothesizing that this new Flash plugin has backwards-compatibility issues. (Some quick surfing suggests that sound has always been a bit problematic for Flash, although I haven't encountered any specific complaints about this latest V9).

I know one or two of you have encountered the same problem over the past couple of days when trying to access VD. What I don't know is the configurations under which other people's problems manifest. So if you've got a moment, could you try it out — there's no need to listen to the whole thing, you'll be able to tell whether it's working by the second slide — and tell me whether it works for you, along with your current version of Flash, and the make and model of your browser?


On the up side, I got my first Paypal donation from a sex site— or more precisely, from one of those Make-any-woman-your-sex-slave-for-$29.99 places. (Don't click if you have an aversion to pop-ups or the overuse of exclamation marks.) I have to admit I was kind of taken aback; these outfits are usually about separating you from money, not putting it into your pocket. Even more surprisingly, when I sent off a bemused thankyou note (promising, in their honor, to spend the money this time on edible condoms rather than the usual kibble), I received a cheerful response praising my work on its literary merit, and completely free of any mention of hot chicks slippery with desire for my manhood.

Not that I would turn anything like that down, you understand. But still. I had no idea. I am so tickled.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fallen Giant

Sometimes, in defiance of entropy, little knots of complexity form in the universe and awaken. I have always found it deeply unjust that such knots, sooner or later, always stop. Each is unique, each cognizant, and if I were running things, the moment matter developed enough complexity to look around and start asking questions, well, it would have made it. It would go on forever. (Well, except for those clumps of matter who hold beliefs substantially different from mine, I mean.)

I entertain such thoughts whenever I look upon a loved one that I know is doomed to die some day, and I generally keep it to myself. But today I forego that privacy, because today, Arthur C. Clarke is dead. And that should matter to all of you.

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You Know Who You Are.

Anyone who rattles off phrases like "the fetid litterbox of his deranged and hostile cats" with such effortless abandon can wax my balls any time. Even if they got the whole bathrobe thing completely wrong.


Monday, February 11, 2008


Just a few bits of miscellanea on my way out the door:
  • The disgustingly-but-unforgettably-named "Puppy Buckets" has posted a review of the soon-to-be-resurrected Starfish — although if you hang out here regularly you'll already know whether the book's any good.
  • We're less than a month away from the paperback edition of Blindsight, and to drum up reader interest has taken down the much-improved cover design for that edition and replaced it with the crappy hardcover layout. And can anyone tell me why that page keeps listing Blindsight as "popular" in the category "Short Stories —> Canadian"? (It was also listed as popular "World Fiction" a few days back, but the world seems to have since come to its senses.)
  • Have officially started writing Dumbspeech. Completed the first draft of the Prelude just yesterday. God, it sucks.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Fear Me.

Look at this title-page from a recent technical publication. Look at the Institutional affiliation. Look at it, bitches:

That's right. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. The Black Ops Capital of the western hemisphere. The guys who sell their obsolete cast-offs to IMF.

Now look at this extract from the actual report (you may have to click on the image for a readable view):

Oh, yes. That's me in there. That's my books. I've got a fan in Livermore.

So if any of you should encounter me on the street, or at a con, you might want to offer to buy me a beer. Because you never know when someone might have an advanced-prototype death-ray device under their coats, courtesy of one of their eyes-only-black-ops fans. And it can never hurt to keep someone like that happy.

For example, My Elves are Different makes me happy. That guy knows what side his bread's buttered on.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Church of the Buttered Nose

So you start the day as you always have: you wake up to the feel of a claw piercing your internasal septum. You get out of bed, stumble down the hall, feed the cats. Pee. Open the blinds. Wander back into the kitchen; nuke a couple of muffins; mix up a bowl of oatmeal; smear butter on your nose so Chip the Cat (waiting expectantly on top of the fridge) can lick it off with his rough, radula-like tongue. Extract muffins from microwave. Load up your RSS feeds. Put the coffee on, pour a glass of OJ...

And then one day you do a double-take, and say to yourself Wait a minute — how long have I been smearing butter on my nose so that Chip could lick it off? How did that start? And why has it never occurred to me until now?

And then, if you're especially perceptive, you may wonder How would this look to someone who hadn't been raised in the Church of the Buttered Nose?

Of course, most people aren't that perceptive. At least, not consciously; there must be some kind of subliminal subroutine asking that question, though, or they wouldn't be so quick to silence anyone who voices it aloud1. We've always buttered our noses, you see. As long as we can remember. The origins of our ways are lost in the mists of time, but surely the very antiquity of those origins confers credibility, yes? It feels right to us.

Still. Were some naïve overnight guest to catch me in flagrante dairio, their reaction might well be "What the fuck!?", even though my reaction to their reaction would merely be "What?" And I guess Communion, Baptism, and Human Sacrifice are the same sort of thing. I bet this is how religions (or at least, religious rituals) get started. We have always buttered our noses. What's the big deal?

Of course, there are similarities and there are differences. Both cats and gods seem to expect absolute subservience and constant praise. Both seem capricious, quick to anger, and prone to the holding of grudges. Both demand sacrifice.

Cats aren't omnipotent, though. That's one big difference.

Oh, and they exist. That's another.

1 I recently got a very huffy e-mail from someone who took exception to being described as "religious" rather than "spiritual", evoking fond memories of The Judean People's Front taking umbrage at being mistaken for The People's Front of Judea. Seems to me, though, that once you've drunk from the Supernatural Kool-Aid, any subordinate distinctions come down to chrome and upholstery.

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bull Balls

Okay, another Crawl Cockup Call. I imagine a lot of you subscribe to the RSS feed to this thing. Has said RSS feed, over the past day or so, been feeding you pictures of bull testicles with the slogan "I am a dirty bandwidth thief" in place of real graphics?

I apologize if so. Some doof on LJ keeps hotlinking to images on my site. Other folks have got the message when I've simply renamed the hotlinked image and given them goatse guy in its place, but this idiot just keeps rejigging his own link to the original graphic so I've escalated to a .htaccess filter. I didn't think that RSS feeds would get caught in this net — my own feed to the crawl works just fine — but a new reader has just informed me that ol' bull balls constituted his formal introduction to the neighborhood. And while I can't say it's a completely inaccurate representation of the local content, it certainly isn't intentional.

So. Show of hands?


Sunday, December 30, 2007


Hey, anybody out there use Internet Explorer to read this 'crawl?

If so, are you finding the entries peppered with hacked up fragments of javascript that are supposed to be invisible? Stuff like

< !--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->

just thrust all ugly-like between paragraphs?

I don't suppose someone could have just, you know told me that my newscrawl looked like a botched abortion in IE? (Not to mention that the font is way too large in that browser). Because I've just been plunking along in Firefox all this time, assuming that it wouldn't be too much to expect Google's Blogger code to render gracefully in the most popular bloody browser on the planet. But nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...

Or is it just fucking up here on my local machine? Please, IE users. Tell me it's the local machine. When was the last time I asked you for anything?


Monday, December 24, 2007

"God is Gonna Kick Your Ass You Infidelic Pagan Scum"

A few parting links, in keeping with the Christmas Spirit:

...because honestly, combining 2001 with domestic shorthair cats is about as close to the truly divine as I'm ever likely to come.

So as Mr. Garrison sang with such unrepetant gusto: Merry Fucking Christmas. Try to ignore that idiotic pap about Christmas Choirs the CBC is wasting its bandwidth on, and try to survive the season.

(Me, I've just introduced my Dad to Blade Runner. Went pretty well. Except he didn't get the unicorn.)


Monday, December 10, 2007

A Plea to the Locals

Hey. Ontarions. Help.

Can anybody recommend a decent landline phone carrier that isn't Rogers or Bell or Telus, and that hasn't been engulfed by any of those guys? For the next few months at least, it ain't economical for me to go purely cell — but all the Big Three landline vendors seem to suck equally hard. Is there some small third-party reseller out there that I might be happy with? Or even less-unhappy than I am with Rogers?


A Lack of Focus

Been a while since I posted, I know. Not for lack of material. I've been meaning to post a few more I, Robot-type findings — more hardwired-aesthetics, this time centering around the "Golden Ratio"; more unsurprising evidence of a developmental basis for pedophilia, along with the (even-less surprising) preemptive disclaimers by the researchers that oh no, this shouldn't let pedophiles off the hook, no sirree. (I can't shake a certain sympathy for the kiddy-diddlers on this score. Biology seems to let everyone else off the hook: teenage brains are wired differently than adults, so we have a Young Offender's Act with different standards of culpability; jealous lovers are blinded by fight/fuck circuitry, so "crimes of passion" tend to carry lighter penalties than those that come precalculated. There's no end to the shit we're expected to put up with from victims of dementia, because hey, they "really can't help themselves". But pedophiles? Societal revulsion for those poor bastards is so strong that we don't even wait for the peasants to grab their pitchforks, we trip over ourselves insisting that no, the neurology doesn't matter for these monsters, they just need to exercise more self-control...)

Then there's this godsend from the University of Colorado — batteries, built from kidney cells! — that fits perfectly into a hole I've been trying to plug for the SquidNet novel. A seriously-overhyped item suggesting that a chatroom spam sex-bot has passed the Turing Test (I dunno— didn't Turing specify some minimal intelligence for the person the AI is supposed to be fooling?) I'm also reading this book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief, by one of the leading lights of the Human Genome Project, and you can be damn sure that's gonna get it's very own extensive posting over the next little while. (Current opinion, at the ¼ mark: this guy is the Harriet Miers of gel jocks. How the hell can a top-flight geneticist be so abysmally ill-informed about basic biology? How can he be so utterly unfamiliar with basic logic?).

But it's fucking Christmastime, don't you know, and the obligations of this season eat at one's waking hours like a cancer. And I have four or five pitches/outlines, all in various states of (in)completion, that I gotta get done before my new agent writes me off for dead and eaten by cats. So for now, I'll just hand off with another excerpt from the imminent Szeman/Whiteman interview " Wildlife, Natural and Artificial: An Interview with Peter Watts ":

IS/MW: Dark, troubled, disturbed, heroic: Lenie Clark is one of the great characters of contemporary science fiction writing. A sympathetic protagonist despite her outward coldness—and the fact that her rage at the Grid Authority leads her to seed βehemoth across North America. Ken Lubin, too: a character about whom we know almost nothing beyond his capacity to expertly assess situations and to act on the results, but whom readers nevertheless see as on their side against the threats of the world. How did you come to create Lenie? What are the special challenges (if any) of writing about characters like these?

PW: Lenie Clarke was my attempt to imagine what was going on inside a woman I was briefly involved with back in grad school. It was one of those relationships that lasts maybe two months, tops, tosses you around like a pebble in a cement mixer full of broken glass, and then spits you out in the certain knowledge you’ll never see your partner again. You know all this going in, of course. You know the relationship has no future. And you do it anyway, because hey: what does have a future, these days? And at least you know you’re alive in the meantime.

The special challenge, of course, is that I probably got her completely wrong. But I rather suspect she’s been dead for some time, so she’s not likely to contradict me. And other people, who hail from similarly dark places, tell me that Lenie feels real to them. This honours me. I haven’t been fucked over nearly as much as these people have, I’m basically a pampered poser playing let’s-pretend-we’ve-been-sexually-abused. But if my prose can convince people who’ve actually been there, that’s something.

Unless, of course, they were just sucking up to me. That happens too. Not as much as it should, sadly.

The whole interview (which I've previously excerpted here, when I was first muddling through the questions — just scroll down to April 5) weighs in at well over 7,000 words and is slated to appear in the journal Extrapolation 48(3): 603-619. (And I mean really appear, which is not so common as I might have expected. Regular visitors may remember my mention of extensive interviews with the likes of Locus and the online editions of The Wall Street Journal, way back in spring/summer of this year. Don't know what's up with those, but I grow increasingly skeptical of either's appearance.)

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Brittle Imaginings

Pursuant to Remedial Gigerology's digression into scrambler/ophiuroid relationships, here's my impression of one, cobbled together from pieces of the other. Consider it a belated Hallowe'en treat:

And what the hell: seeing as how we're on the subject of my favorite holiday, here are a couple of blasts from the past. Even casual visitors will have seen at least one of these before; more anal analysts (hmmm— I wonder if those two words spring from the same root...) might nod knowingly when I let slip that the Nosferatu chick in the other is Susan Oshanek.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Behold, the Dawning of a New Literary Movement.

Squidpunk. My own contribution to this groundbreaking anthology will be called "Tentacles of Vague Unease".

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Guest Stars

Today we take time to honour the works of others, especially when such works reflect well on me in some way. First up is this cool rendition of Lenie Clarke, rendered by one Brian Prince (who quite needlessly apologises for its "hastiness"). I love the look and the apocalyptic mood of this piece. I even like the not-exactly-according-to-canon cleavage, and have given it a permanent home over in the gallery.

Next up, a very effective short-short from my journo/horrorfic buddy Dave Nickle, to whom I have commended you all in the past: "The Mayor Will Make A Brief Statement And Then Take Questions". Go read it; it's barely longer than the title, but it packs a nice little icepick just the same.

Finally, to any Toronto readers waiting for a copy of Blindsight to become available at the local library (and I was surprised to hear how many people have it on hold): if you should open your long-awaited loaner only to find the words

Thanks for reading my words the sweat of my brow without paying anything, you cheap and heartless bastards.
Best, Peter Watts

Well, yes, that really was me, and no, I don't really mean it. It just seemed like a clever thing to write at the Jersey Giant last night, when someone slipped the book between me and my Rickards. (And in my own defense, the rest of the beer-swilling crowd seemed to think it was pretty clever at the time, too.)

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Best Piece of Prose I Ever Wrote.

Oh, so much to report. Readercon (at which I met some of you, who did not buy me nearly as many beers as I had hoped). The Campbell Decision (which one might normally call "controversial", except as far as I can tell, reaction has been unanimous). The mysterious disappearance of 22 of the 30 reader reviews from Blindsight's Amazon page. Fan art (fan art!) Sciency stuff.

But in the meantime my bed frame split open and spilled several hundred bedbug exoskeletons across the floor. The Canadian Wildlife Service needs some stuff done yesterday. The apartment is a bloody mess, and I have a million e-mails to answer. So instead, as a kind of placeholder, I am going to take Chelsea's advice and go completely off-topic, posting The Best Goddamned Piece of Prose I Ever Wrote. I wrote it while fostering for Annex Cat Rescue, a worthy collection of cat-crazy people who spend all hours of the night laying live traps under box cars and abducting ferals into better lives. I wrote this to help place a cat I was "temporarily" keeping until he could find a more permanent home:

Are You Worthy?

Here's where we separate the superficial kitty-huggers from the serious lovers of real cats. Banana has had a really rough life. It shows. His ears are disfigured by frostbite, and by wounds sustained during the course of the world's worst ear-mite infection. Several of his teeth have broken against the hard life of the street. He drools sometimes. He hides a lot. Scars and scabs and shaved veterinary clear-cuts range across his body.

The fur will grow back, of course. The scabs are healing even now. And he's a solid cat. Everything that isn't scar tissue is muscle. His ears will be forever twisted, though. He is doomed to pad through the rest of his life being mistaken for a Scottish Fold.

But what a heart he has. Oh, what a heart.

Dragged from his refuge in the linen closet, he purrs instantly upon contact. Once you have begun scritching those twisted ears, he firmly and insistently head-butts you should your rhythm falter. Sometimes he will not eat unless he is being scritched; then he snarfs for a regiment (pausing now and then to glance around, as if fearful of the reappearance of old ghosts). When he comes to trust you he will lie on your bed with his belly to the sun and all four limbs stretched in ecstacy.

This cat is a goddamned hero. If you're looking for some cute and symmetrical plaything to go ga-ga over, something with the depth of Paris Hilton and brains to match, move along. You don't deserve this one. But if you can provide a safe haven to a bruised and stoic predator, and treat him with the respect he deserves— if you ask not what Banana can offer you, but what you can offer Banana— then give us a call.

Maybe— just maybe— you have what it takes.

The calls started almost immediately afterwards. I told them all to piss off.