Monday, 4 February 2019

I have never met Napoleon


I've mentioned my enthusiasm for the music of Steely Dan before but lately I've been getting into their music even more deeply by trying to learn, in a very basic way, some of the guitar parts. While trawling the internet looking for clips and cover versions of Pretzel Logic (from the 1974 album of the same name) I came across this rather fantastic interpretation, which I thought I'd share:



W.G. "Snuffy" Walden, incidentally, is the gentleman who did the West Wing theme tune, among many others. Hope the Dan fans among you enjoy this interlude.

Al


Saturday, 2 February 2019

Halcyon days


Kingfisher, Cynon Valley, South Wales, February 2019.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

13/9/99






It may not have been particularly good science fiction but Space:1999 certainly had some nice spaceships.  Chief among these, surely, is the iconic Eagle, which featured in every episode and still looks good and plausible today. OK, it's maybe not the ideal shape for something that was regularly seen coming and going from planets with atmospheres, but that didn't particularly bother me when I was nine.

This 1/48th model is actually the fourth Eagle that I've owned. I had two of the Dinky die-cast models which were released around the time of the original series, and later I had the Airfix kit, although I've long since lost the latter. This kit is a half-scale replica of the 22 inch studio model and is accordingly much more detailed and accurate than either its Dinky or Airfix predecessors.

In Wales, only the first season of Space:1999 was ever aired. I've still never seen the second, other than clips, which I gather is no great loss, especially as it lacked the fantastic music and opening titles of the first.



Friday, 11 January 2019

Trying to give the light the slip

Yesterday saw the UK publication of my new novel Shadow Captain, which will be followed by the American edition in a few days.



This story is a direct follow-on from Revenger and advances the story of the Ness sisters as they come to terms with their new situation. In contrast to the first book, which was very much Arafura's account, this one is told from Adrana's point of view and I hope offers a distinctly different voice and sensibility. While the creation of any book will present its challenges, I certainly had my fair share of enjoyment in the writing, and I found it fun to dig deeper into the implied universe of the Congregation, while exploring the sisters' relationship as each confronts new challenges and difficulties. I'm now nearly done with the successor, Bone Silence, which - even if it might not be the last word on the Congregation - will wrap up this particular extended adventure in the lives of the Ness sisters.

Because I'm invested in the writing of the follow-up, and at a rather critical part of the process, I thought it might be wise to avoid reviews of this one, at least until the new book is delivered. If only I had the moral fibre. I can report that Locus liked it, as did SFX, and early reader reactions seem to be broadly positive, for which I''m grateful.

https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9780575090637

https://soundcloud.com/orionbooks/sets/shadow-captain-by-alastair-reynolds

https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/alastair-reynolds/shadow-captain/9781549171369/

In the meantime, have some musical accompaniment.


Al (wishing all the very best for 2019).


Thursday, 1 November 2018

Progtastic



The new issue of Prog magazine includes an interview with me where I talk about my record collection, especially the prog-rock side of it. It was really fun to do. Thanks, Prog!

https://www.loudersound.com/prog

I was asked to pick ten significant records, and to keep it "purist" I confined myself to choices where I had the album on vinyl, even though, for instance, I might otherwise have included The Damned's Black Album.

These were my (not all strictly prog) choices:

 The London Philharmonic Orchestra: A Stereo Space Odyssey

Genesis: A Trick of the Tail

King Crimson: In the Court/Larks Tongues

Yes: Relayer

Hawklords: 25 Years On

Kate Bush; The Dreaming

B52s: Bouncing off the Satellites

Talking Heads: Little Creatures

Sound of Ceres: The Twin

War on Drugs: Lost in a Dream

A friend asked me why I hadn't mentioned The Fall. I felt that might have been pushing my luck just a bit...

Monday, 29 October 2018

RIP Tony Joe White

On listening to the ever-excellent Cerys Matthews blues show on Radio 2, I learned that Tony Joe White had died on the 24th of October, a day after I linked to his "Rainy Night in Georgia" in my last-but-one blog post. 

Thanks for the music, Mr White.



Obituary here, via the Guardian:



Friday, 26 October 2018

Paternoster elevators

My previous post was picked up on File 777 where the discussion drifted onto the topic of paternoster elevators.

http://file770.com/pixel-scroll-10-23-2018-if-youre-filing-to-scrollfrancisco-be-sure-to-wear-some-pixels-in-your-hair/#comments

I've never used one, to the best of my recollection, but for a few years I did have the option, as the Claremont Tower in Newcastle - where I studied - featured a paternoster elevator. There was almost certainly a normal lift (as well as stairs) as although I took many classes in the Claremont building, I never remember using the paternoster. I do however remember being strongly disinclined to use it by virtue of a story that was in circulation. The gist of that story was that someone had died while going around over the top, something you were not meant to do. That always struck me as worrying, because what if you simply neglected to get off at the top (or bottom) floors? Never mind the business of getting on and off the thing.

Years later I reasoned that the story must have been a carefully engineered rumour designed to stop people using the elevator in a way that wasn't intended, not because of the risk of injury (or death) but because it caused problems with the mechanism, perhaps leading to the elevator shutting down or needing maintenance. I could well imagine that the authorities would "leak" a story like that just to stop students larking around and causing expensive breakdowns.

But (being a grisly sort of fellow) the File777 article prompted me to read up a little bit more paternosters and their history of accidents, and rather shockingly the first such account I read about was indeed one in the Claremont Tower, in 1975:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1243/PIME_PROC_1980_194_016_02?journalCode=pmea

The story, then, was completely true. Gulp.

I'm sure paternosters are much safer, per journey, than many forms of travel I gladly accept. Nonetheless, I'm not at all sorry I never used the one in the Claremont building (which, as it happens, was involved in another accident the year after I left, and then dismantled).