Wednesday, 24 July 2019

What the IF

Last week I had the great pleasure of taking part in the excellent What the IF podcast, hosted by Philip Shane and Matt Stanley. The starting point for our discussion was my story "Different Seas", which appeared in MIT Press's Twelve Tomorrows anthology, and the immersive telepresence technology that the story features.

Here's a link to the What the IF homepage:


and here's a direct link to my episode:


Thanks, Philip and Matt, for making it such fun.

If you'd like to catch up on the original story, here's a link to the MIT Press page for the book:



Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Vassal states

Far from being a "vassal state" of the EU, as Boris Johnson would have it, it increasingly feels to me as if the UK is a vassal state of Eton. Who was the architect of the referendum? A gammon-faced Etonian. Who were some of the strongest voices behind the leave campaign? Etonians. Who's just slimed his way to the top of the pole? An Etonian. I write in advance of Boris Johnson's coronation but there seems no chance at all that he will not be selected.

For one brief shining moment I thought that the principled, articulate Rory Stewart (privately educated again, but not actually an Etonian - you take what you can get) might have been in with a chance, but alas, it was not to be.

Stewart not withstanding, is there not a case for banning the privately educated from high office? They have enough opportunities in life as it is. Why must they run the country as well?

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Saturn V

Those of you who were reading my blog ten years ago (back when it was "Teahouse on the Tracks") may remember that I decided to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11 by building a Saturn V rocket.

I started with the 1/96th scale Revell kit, re-released in 2009! It's actually about as old as the Apollo program itself, and because it was tooled-up slightly ahead of the missions themselves, it's supposedly not quite accurate for Apollo 11.

Looks good enough to me, though:



Although I build the kit exactly as it came out of the box, I did have some reference photos to go by, taken during a visit to KSC in 2008:



It was fun to compare and contrast with the kit as I assembled the stages, starting at the bottom and working up:




My intention had been to complete the model by July 20 2009, but that was a little optimistic. What I did achieve was all the outside bits of the Saturn V, but large areas were left unpainted. Still, it looked impressive enough:


I'd like to say that I cracked on and finished the Saturn V that summer, but I didn't. In fact, once I got it to the stage in the above picture, I was quite happy for it to sit on my desk and there matters rested for a good few years - in fact, quite a large chunk of the decade between then and now.

Two or three years ago I did complete the rocket, however - well nearly. I assembled and painted lunar module, and completed all the exterior painting of the Saturn stack, and did all the engines and fuel tanks. But there are still a few decals to be added to the LM. Perhaps I'll get around to them somewhere between now and the sixtieth anniversary...

The model as it stands today, July 16th 2019:





Monday, 15 April 2019

Gene Wolfe 1931 - 2019

Gene Wolfe has died.

I feel I ought to say more, but it's late and I'm tired. I'll leave it with this: it took me years to find a way into his work, but once I did, I was never the same again. He changed me as a writer and, I think, a human being. I never met him properly (although we did once participate in a panel via video link) but I got to write about him a few times, and his passing leaves us immeasurably poorer.


Thank you, Mr Wolfe.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Titans of Sci-Fi event




On the 18th of April I'll be in Waterstones Picadilly in London, talking SF with Temi Oh and Emma Newman, with Pat Cadigan (rather than Gavin Smith as originally announced) chairing our conversation.I thoroughly enjoyed Planetfall, Emma's first SF novel (and am now catching up with her other works, including the newly-released Atlas Alone) and I was greatly impressed with Temi's debut, which is a powerful meditation on the consequences of leaving home. Decades-long interstellar voyages feature in both their works, as well as mine, so we should have plenty to talk about.

https://www.waterstones.com/events/titans-of-sci-fi-alastair-reynolds-emma-newman-and-temi-oh-in-conversation-with-gavin-smith/london-piccadilly

"Emma Newman is the author of Planetfall, After Atlas, Before Mars and Atlas Alone. She is also a professional audiobook narrator, and co-writes and hosts a Huge nominated podcast called Tea & Jeopardy.

Temi Oh is the debut author of Do You Dream of Terra-Two?  Having studied Neuroscience, Temi has written on topics ranging from Philosophy of the Mind to Space Physiology. She has also ran a book-group called “Neuroscience-fiction,” leading discussions about science-fiction books which focus on the brain."

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Envy me

Or not, as the case may be.