Thursday, August 30, 2007

-30 degrees celsius

(Sai-an Hotel, Yokohama)

While there is only one hour difference between Australia and Japan, I was on nightshift. Not all the flying and running around in foreign countries I did unwound my sleep pattern, and I woke at 4am with a screaming headache, and no painkillers. This made me a sad panda.

After a quick perusal of the program, I decided none of the early panels required my presence, and jumped on the subway to Chinatown. It seems weirdly ironic, visiting Chinatown in Japan when I can get all the Chinese food I want at home, but wow. Melbourne’s Chinatown is a sad sorry affair in comparison. This was several knotty city blocks, strung with lanterns and imposing gateways.

Unfortunately, I went to early (around 10) and nothing was open yet. So, back on the subway to worldcon. At least, that was the plan. For some reason, my Suica card didn’t read properly, so I followed the not particularly well translated and probably misunderstood instructions, and inserted it into the ticket reader. Where it jammed. A station attendant appeared quickly, and opened up the whole machine to get it out, reprogram it, and sent me on my way with a speed that suggests it happens pretty often. Still. Whoops. I’ve broken a piece of Japanese public transport. My bad.

Said public transport, by the way, is like a wet dream. Seriously. The trains are cleaned at their terminations, each time, multiple times a day. The seats aren’t damaged. There is no graffiti. I found myself on one of the reknowned ‘women only’ carriages, and it was very pink.

Also, people who say that the trains are always on time, to the minute, are incorrect. Not that a two minute delay is anything out of the ordinary in any country. The difference being, there are trains every few minutes here, as opposed to one every twenty back home.

The dealers room was a bit of a let down after last year. I was expecting to be tempted by all sorts of things, but most of the vendors were Japanese, stocking Japanese texts. My lack of reading skills makes me a sad panda. Japanese books are beautiful, neat little objects, and I coverts them.

I briefly watched a paint off between Bob Eggleton, Michael Whelan and -------- Kato, which was quite fascinating, noting their different approaches. Sat in on a panel discussing hospitals and health in the future, which planted some interesting ideas. Another on what we love to read out of SF, which was good for recommendations. The Tech Savvy Criminal was my only must for the day, dealing with what it takes to be a criminal mastermind in today’s age of increasingly complicated technology and security. The basics I already knew, just from reading the reports at work (don’t be an idiot seems to cover it), but some great and kooky ideas for general mayhem were thrown out, good stuff to chew on.

(paintbrushes at fifty yards two feet)

Afterwards, I found A, and we invaded Queen’s Square, a shopping centre across the road from the con. After much umming and ahhing, we dived into a noodle shop, and despite the fact that clearly, neither of us spoke much Japanese, were given a Japanese menu. I just pointed at a random item, and ended up with tempura and cold soba noodles with dipping sauce. I think that was the first real meal I’d had a in a long while. Some caucasians came in after us, and were given an English menu. Doh. I rather like this pattern of adventure food though. I still have very little idea of what it is I’m eating, but it’s amusing. Not to mention 1,000 yen is very decent for dinner.

The success of dinner drove us to hunt of desert, and we found ‘Mochi Cream’, a shop selling traditional mochi with icecream added in the filling. I satisfied my craving for red beans, and it was most, most delicious. Definitely going back to try the chocolate and fruit flavours. 156 yen is also ridiculously cheap for something so yummy. Someone in Melbourne, import this idea!

(mochi cream of joy!)

Still having some time to kill before the room parties started, we decided it was time to do the Cosmo Clock, apparently the highest ferris wheel in the world. However, we were distracted on the way by ‘Ice World’, which was advertising -30 degrees C and swimming angels. 500 yen is cheap for curiosity.

Oh my good. The best 500 yen I’ve spent.

The entry featured a giant plastic polar bear in a wood log hut, and this tiny tank, filled with even tinier swimming angels. Seriously, they were about a centimetre big, which is not apparent from the photos outside. They looked exactly like some of the monsters from Skies of Arcadia, and this cracked me up. It was cool in that room. Not too bad though.

Then A opened the door to the next section, and swore like a sailor.

They weren’t kidding about the temperature. After we’d laughed ourselves silly at the outrageousness of it, we realised we were quite literally freezing, and fled. It was great, totally freaking awesome.

(...the temperature got to my brain. Plus, that bear was threatening my masculinity, which isn't spelt right. Wait. Eek! Is that a badly positioned hand I see there?)

Gigi, I’ll have you know that the Cosmo Clock was fantastic, and slow, and you wouldn’t have had a problem. Also, gorgeous view at night. It’s silly how beautiful coloured lights are. Cities even more so.

(Minamoto Mirai 21 from the Cosmo Clock)

The party floor turned out to be not quite big enough for the parties it contained. Not just that people had spilled out into the corridor and were sitting in front of the elevators, but that the airconditioning couldn’t handle it. The Aussie bid party was so crowded we were squeezed out. The Kansas party was quiet with good food, and the Seattle party we finally settled, and found some Norwegians who were more than happy to tell us about climbing Fuji-san.

I piked out early. Waking at 4am is wrong, wrong, wrong. Good night.

(Again, apologies for the photos. I feel I must be dumb, but I can't find a simple function to resize images anywhere Eddie that doesn't involve some weird exportation from iPhoto that makes them look blocky as. The pictures are a combination of originals and exports. Let me know which ones suck and which ones don't.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


(In transit; Changi Airport, Singapore, 2137 local time)

There were people who, upon discovering that I was flying out the same day as finishing nightshift, gave me a look. This look quite clearly said, "you're a lunatic." Start travelling while apeshit and exhausted? Where's the sanity in that?

But Sir Tessa knew what she is doing. Sir Tessa had a plan.

Sir Tessa was so freaking exhausted by the time she shambled onto the plane, that she had curled up and closed her eyes well before taxiing began. Sir Tessa was so out of it, her body was too run down to bother with the whole plane sick thing, and just put her in a coma instead.


There were also people who insisted that cabin crew will wake you for your meal. Sir Tessa would like to advise the world that this isn't the case.

I feel fine. Really. Not even mildly sort of off feeling. From now on, all flying happens after nightshift. OARSUM. This excites me far more than it should. Bring on the next leg, I say, bring it on.

(Oh wow, that guy looks just like my uncle. But that's not my family he's with. No, he has too much hair to be my uncle.)

Changi is surreal. It's clean, and modern, and organised, and things work. It's one giant shopping centre than just goes on, and on, and on, over this strange green carpet. I'm sitting in front of a travellator, watching people speed past. Better than sitting on trains, this. The security guards amuse me, in their black uniforms and their black caps and their semi-automatics pointed at the carpert and the lazy way they slide past on the travellator. They polish their boots, but only the toe. Their toes shine like the best of them; the rest of the boot doesn't.

I'm not sick. I feel fine.

Is this how normal people feel when they travel? What tyranny have I been labouring under? Why, motion sickness, why?
Nippon wa totemo midori desu.

(San-ai Hotel, Yokohama, absolutely buggered. 29-08-2007 7.22pm local time.)

There’s a line from Fight Club that I’m going to misquote. Something along the lines of, “if you wake up in another place, in another time, do you wake up a different person?” It’s a concept I like. Alas, every time I test the theory, I fail. If I’m a different person, it’s on such a macroscopic scale, it’s irrelevant. I mean, I could have at least woken up, I don’t know, taller. Smaller boobs. Less inclination to swear.

But I failed to get plane sick again, and maybe that’s enough of a difference. You know what this means, right? At last, I can take over the world. I couldn’t before, because no conquering emperor who disembarks their private jet and chunders all over the tarmac is going to be taken seriously. Nothing can stop me now.

The leg from Singapore to Tokyo was just as eventless. I slept. And slept. And missed the midnight snack but didn’t care, munged some jelly beans, and slept, and slept, and finally, yes, I was awake for breakfast. Eggs and ham or Japanese? Why wait to get to Japan? So I started my adventure feeding on the plane, and had salmon and rice for breakfast. There was some completely unidentifiable thing in with the vegetables; it was gelatinous, multi-coloured, star-shaped, and stuck to the plate. Nan desu ka? I asked myself, and even more importantly (which I shall have to find the Japanese phrase for), can you eat it? I ate it. It was entirely uninteresting. Thus ends my adventures with aeroplane food.

Narita Airport shocked me. What is this, a second major international airport that isn’t a trash heap of over-used portable buildings? It was clean! Repaired! The air-conditioning in the immigration hall worked! The immigration officer smiled! The customs official flirted! LAX can eat my shorts.

And just like that, I was in the country.

Maybe it was the lack of sickness, or the addition of sleep, but I didn’t feel intimidated by this, which surprised me. At no point in the lead up to this did I do my “oh fuck no what on earth am I doing?” doubt/fear attack. I was expecting it to hit me once I was on the ground. But no, I’m here. I’m just here, and it’s not a huge scary thing, it just is. Is this what being a grown up feels like?

Tickets for the Narita Express to Yokohama were ridiculously easy to buy, and the station easy to find. I was mildly thrown by the fact that not just seats were allocated, but carriages (as the train splits at Tokyo station and goes to alternate destinations), but a fumbled Japanese question to a policeman who spoke perfect English cleared that.

The train left the under ground, and I watched suburban Japan go by. The hour and a half trip to Yokohama went ridiculously fast. What vegetation there was, was green, astonishingly overwhelmingly green, and what housing there was, was tight, compact. Against a sky so full of humidity it was grey, it reminded me of Malaysia. I gawked out the window at all the ordinary differences.

And got train sick.

Shut up.

(The juice I bought from the trolley lady had all that in it. ALL. THAT. It tasted like apple juice to me.)

Yokohama station was surprisingly skungy, in that used hard and long and every single day sort of way. Me and my rucksack and backpack stumbled off, and set off on a great quest – to transfer to another line. Which would have been much easier if I’d done the intelligent and organised thing, and written down the line and station I needed. So I molested the Japanese language again, found my platform, ad libbed my way through the ticket buying process (I have a Suica card, and the penguin is very cute), and lumbered onto the next train going in the right direction. Trains, they’re the same in every country. They only run where the rails run. Comforting fact; the English names of the stations next on the line in both directions are written on the station signs.

One stop later, one more station escaped from, and I set off on the quest part 2 – find hotel.

The map I had wasn’t in English, but you don’t need language for maps. A sense of direction, distance, and what size streets were shown/not shown helps though. I sort of maybe kinda walked around in circles, in these amazing dense city blocks, and only found the hotel by accident. It was humid as all hell, and my shoulders didn't appreciate lugging my rucksack around all that time.

It was too early for check in, so I set off to find Pacifico Yokohama, home of Worldcon. This time, I didn’t even need a sense of direction, as it’s big and kind of hard to miss. But, well, me so dumb, I decided to bypass some of the busier roads by cutting through the subway, got completely turned around underground, and ended up going in circles again. Won’t be repeating that. I still managed to pick the wrong roads and get funnelled by bridges into going in the wrong direction, and ended up in a food court where I bought more unidentifiable food (something I thought was melon bread, but I don’t think it is, and a mystery bun that turned out to have pickled sea weed and greens with chilli, mmmm!), before finally seeing some very not-Japanese people who gave off a distinct nerd vibe, and followed them.

Who let me loose in a foreign land?

Before I’d even made it to registration, I found A, of Clarion South notoriety. Yay! And before we’d even left the building, we found Ellen Datlow. Yay! It was great to find a familiar face, and have someone to go “wow!” with.

(The Yokohama Landmark Tower, which as A pointed out, looks rather like Orthanc.)

We attended one panel, debating the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, that language influences/controls how you think, and that the structures and concepts of a language alter your thought processes. It was fascinating, and I’m so tired I can’t remember any of it. I had to bid A goodbye, and stumble back to the hotel. A long hot bath hasn’t quite worked the ache out of my shoulders.

I’m eating a very traditional Japanese dinner at my room desk; a bento set bought from 7-11. I’ve only been able to identify half of what I’ve put in my mouth. It’s not exactly a learning experience, but there’s no lack of fun in mystery food.

(550 Yen!)

I was half considering venturing out tonight, to conquer the ferris wheel, but, ugh. Sleep.

(Post backdated to time of writing. More later, gots to run. Apologise for the uber large and sideways images, in kind of a rush.)
I don't think you can set out on a venture such as this without harbouring expectations. I try to trade expectations for hope, as hope leads to less disappointment.

I hope I don't lose my passport. I hope the yakuza don't kidnap me. I hope I have a great time.

I hope this takes me so far from everything I know, and everything I think I know, and reboots my head.

I don't believe in finding yourself, sorting yourself out, and all that. But I do believe in reset buttons.

Anyway. Going to Japan. AFK. BBL.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


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Monday, August 27, 2007

Here. To atone for the last several bouts of (to steal Deb's term) batshit insanity, I give you a present.

Inside this box is exactly how it feels to drive home after nightshift. The world is abysmally empty in the small hours of the night, but once in the car, out the building, there is light, there is life. There is that giddy feeling of freedom, of going home, the relief that bed is not so far away. There is a sunrise, sometimes, a glorious sunrise, just like this morning, with high clouds and a faint and distant rain that caught the sun, and the whole sky glowed golden and rich. There is a highway backed up on the inbound, but empty on the outbound, four lanes of 100 km p/h.

This is a secret time. In this time, I forgive nightshift entirely. I tell myself that I don't really want to give this up at all.

You'll notice that there's no way into this box. That's because you are all smart bunnies, and know better than to fall into the trap of shiftwork. Chances are, you'll never know what this feels like.

But I think you should have it anyway.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

get down with the geeeeeeeniiiiiiiiiiiieeee

Look at all those people. Each of them discovered that Mr Vandermeer only ever links me when I'm a feral, mangy, moon-mad monkey, and an easily amused one at that. I spent the shift checking my stats. "Aw, lookit! Another one! MAD FOOLS!"

I'd also accuse him of only linking when there's a really bad photo of me on the front page, except the likelihood of there not being a really bad photo present is pretty slim.

Anyway, look at this!

It's an oarfish. When I first saw that photo, my hackles went up. I didn't see an oar, I saw a huge, freaking huge, long razorblade fish just hanging in the water, and I could imagine swimming around happily, unable to see said razorblade fish straight on, and swimming into it, and chopping myself in half. A collision with a swimming samurai sword.

Which isn't how they work, thankfully.

But that would be cool.

I get the impression that they're not particularly bright fishes, having read this account of When Oarfish Attack!

Suddenly and with great vigor, the creature ceased it’s circling and swam rapidly toward us. It was quite a startling movement. One of us had picked up a smooth rock and the rock was used to crush the its head as it approached. It died instantly without any further movement.

They weren't even knee deep in the water then. And oarfish, these super stylin' samurai sword fish, they don't really have angry attack mouths, yanno?


Moving right along.

Tourist Attraction Shark Dies, which is sad. It's always sad when a 2 metre shark dies. And yet, and yet.

Biologists captured the 90kg fish on Monday in knee-high water at a beach called Miracle in northeast Tarragona province, grabbing it with their bare hands and dragging it ashore.

Dude. They wrestled a 2 metre shark and won. I lol'd so hard I was in tears. Can you just imagine the poor shark? "HOLY FUCK SOMEONE SAVE ME FROM THESE MONKEYS! THEY'VE GOT MY TAIL! MY TAAAAAAAAIIIIIL!"

No more fishies from here on, I swear.

Irony is decrying how not-a-writer I am, and then having the two stories of mine due for publication both end up in my inbox, requiring editing/proofing/writerly attention immediately. I've broken my cardinal rules of never proofing after midnight and never attempting to be intelligent on nightshift.

The larger story I don't think I've even sniffed at for over a year. It was a relief to find that it didn't suck, but I'm worried by the fact that I like it. I think liking your own work is like putting your newborn baby in the microwave for safe-keeping. No one ever agrees with you.

I had a mighty revelation on the drive to work last night. Oh verily, was it mighty. When Carroll was writing about the white rabbit, he was actually writing about the white lines on the road, and the whole trippy journey through Wonderland, that is actually a metaphour for driving at night when you're delirious. Follow the white rabbit/follow the white line. He knew. The man knew what he was writing about. Something about night driving, all the street lights and car lights and shop lights, and all those lights reflecting and moving, and all the dark spaces, he knew.

Do not point out the logic flaws in that paragraph. Srsly.

Now, in case you were wondering where all these long raving mental dribbles have come from, I shall tell you. One word: procrastination.

I fly out Wednesday afternoon. Therefore, I must pack.

I dun like packing. It makes me want to do procrastinatory things, like give the dogs pedicures. I don't think my relationship with the dogs would survive this activity. I guess I'll just pack.
Someone arrived here by googling the phrase "baby head burning odor".

I can't decide how to respond to that. There are just too many options.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I just spent several minutes of my life, staring at this picture -

- trying to figure out why it was so funny. Then, DING! I was enlightened! IT IS A SERIOUS ISOPODE.


Yeah yeah, I know. Don't worry. I'm going to bed now.
I feel like a deep-sea glass squid:

I suspect I look like a Snaggletooth:

I would love to be a Dumbo Octopus:

(That isn't a sense of humor, that's a mind cracking up. My anticipation of discovering a new country is far outstripped by my anticipation of finishing nightshift. Dear higher power, let me keep my shit together for three more nights. Wait, scratch that. Let me not lose my shit any further than I already have, for oh my goodness have I lost my shit, it's on the walls, man, the walls, and I think other people have noticed, and this, this is just ugly, there's only so much damage control I can do, so no more spontaneous, provoked or unprovoked nuclear meltdowns, for three more nights.)

(Deep sea beasties, they're the awesome. I should have stuck with my grade 6 urge, and become a marine biologist. My view of the world would be much nicer if I had more anglerfish in my life.)

(Photos from Bounty Fishing Blog: 27 Aquatic Lifeforms You Never Caught While Fishing, snagged from

ETA: Someone, remind me to buy The Deep when I get back.

Friday, August 24, 2007

let's make out on the balcony

Michael Doughty used to front for Soul Coughing, and if you aren't familiar with the band, amend that right now. That is some good edge rock, that is.

Doughty has released his own album, Haughty Melodic, which contains the song "I Hear the Bells".

I love this song. It puts me in a better mood, triumphant without arrogance, and light without glaring, and great to sing along to. Maybe I sort of put it on repeat in the car, a little bit. Visit the myspace link and have a listen. It'll do your ears some good.

(Rec from Becca)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I got home this morning, and the newspaper horoscope said I had 'cosmic jetlag'. I read that, and my reaction was, "oh, cosmic jetlag, well, that explains everything." Do you think work would take cosmic jetlag as an excuse not to turn up?

Then I ate some toast, and felt much better.

Note to self: you just had a haircut. Stick to towel drying.

Monday, August 20, 2007

i'm a rabbit, i'm a rabbit, i'm a fox

In case you missed it, but your probably didn't, but you might have saved it for later and maybe forgotten bout it, in which case this is a reminder - Jeff Vandermeer's short movie for Shriek is online. Go use up some bandwidth. The voice acting is quite luscious, and it falls half way between being read to, or in the range of a fascinating conversation that isn't yours.

I recently finished reading Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface. It took me about three months to do this, because it was just that bad. I'm not even going to go into it. What struck me though, was the sheer amount of authorial notes scattered through the pages. There are artist notes, about whether or not he should have drawn her nipples (no exaggeration), design notes on why the motor bikes are kind of lame (then why did you put them in?!), and tech notes on exactly what is going on at any given time, because just reading the actual comic won't tell you that. They're everywhere! I could not escape the author tapping me on the shoulder.

Even in a story I'm not enjoying, this isn't a good thing. Every now and again it is an interesting diversion, but with this concentration, it was nothing but a huge distraction. An obnoxious one at that. Trust your reader, or trust your work. If it's really necessary, end notes are your friend.

Finally, I give you a video of a $40,000,000 US military satellite exploding (filched from

Impressive, no? When I grow up, I want to be a military satellite with a 17 foot crack in my fuel pipe.

I have to wonder how a 17 foot crack goes unnoticed.

Well...I guess cracks go unnoticed in people all the time. They're not always in easy to see places.

Do you think car insurance costs more around Cape Canaveral?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

and so she can't complain

Dear the Australian Dollar,

Please stop that shit.

Sir Tessa.


After being certain, and being wrong, I did some not particularly thorough trawling on the subject of certainty. There isn't much to be had. A smattering of philosophy, and articles on physics. Uncertainty, it would seem, is a much more meaty topic. I wanted brain scans, actually. I wanted those funky orange, black and blue photos of brain activity, so I could see what certainty actually looked like. Maybe even what hormones make up certainty. I figure, if i find out where certainty lives, at least I have a target.

Doubt is much easier to pin down. Doubt is everywhere. I am, therefore I doubt.


Dear Japan Rail,

The rail passes were supposed to arrive last week. Hint, hint.

Sir Tessa.


Sophie is depressed.

She won't play. She just sits, and whimpers in the most heart-breaking and pathetic manner imaginable. She isn't off her food or drink, she's just miserable. The lead theory is that she misses Dad, but he's gone to Malaysia before without this happening.

You have no idea how upsetting a depressed dog is.


Dear Sir Tessa,

You suck.

No love,
Sir Tessa.


If I could manufacture certainty, I'd eradicate those oh-so mediocre self-esteem issues. Imagine how much more I could squeeze into a day if I didn't spend so much time and energy on self-loathing. I could create cold fusion. Abolish starvation. Write a fucking book.

Whoa. Delusions of grandure.


Dear World,

I'm down, quit kicking.

Even less than no love,
Sir Tessa.


But you know, the narrative laws of my life dictate that an injection of certainty would concrete exactly the wrong area. Instead of being pretty sure that I'm a useless sack of meat, I'd be certain of it. That would kill all motivation to roll with the momentum of life, so I'd lose my job pretty fast, wouldn't write, wouldn't get out of bed, probably wouldn't bother waking up, because seriously, when you're a useless sack of meat, there isn't much point with the whole being awake thing.

And then, because the narrative laws of my life dictact that Thou Shalt Not Have Any Excuse To Sleep Like A Lazy Snoring Bear As Thou Doest Desire, my own super-charged-mutated-giant-walrus doubt would come into play, and I wouldn't be certain of my uselessness as a meat sack. This would leave me with no alternative but wakefulness.

Shit. This hypothesis is fucking lame. Where's the reset button?


Dear World,

You're also too fat. Please lose some weight, and shrink the distance between this family.

Much Despising,
Sir Tessa.


I did a little reading on Descartes, not that he had much to say on the subject of certainty, other than he wasn't certain of much at all. The only thing he really concludes is that his own existence is certain. This is a conclusion that can only be drawn about the concluder, by the concluder. So, I cannot be certain about sun rises, or chairs, or that ever perplexing subject of the colour orange, but I can be certain I exist.

I think life would be ever so much nicer if I could trade that certainty for, say, the certainty that flowers sing only in barbershop quartets.

But I can't be certain of that.


Dear Sir Tessa,

Seriously. Shut up.

Much Tolerance,
The World.

Friday, August 17, 2007

...even my spam is telling me to cheer up.
red wine with every meal and absinthe after dinner

  • Haha! I'm not hungover!
  • There exists no make-up that will stop an asian-blooded monkey from going red when drinking.
  • When I make an effort, I am hot. Damn hot. So hot, heads turn and people say, "Wow, Tess, you look hot!" and they all sound surprised.
  • This is why I never make an effort. I have to hide my hotness away, or there will conferences and summits about how I contribute to global warming.
  • With my bright red face.
  • But, you know, if ever Rudolf is retrenched, I could totally take his job. Only his nose was red. I'm a fucking lighthouse.
  • Although I don't think I'm all that keen to be harnessed up by a jolly fat man.
  • And I'm not that into manual labour.
  • He can pull his own sleigh. Would help lower his blood pressure.
  • Plus I bet he doesn't pay much for one night of work a year.
  • Nah, fuck it. He can install spotlights like all the other rednecks.

PS: T minus 12 days and counting.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

and don't bother leaving the light on

I was certain today would be different.

This certainty was unprompted. It wasn't like the certainty that concrete is hard, water is wet, I am a typist, those tried and tested and proved irrefutable facts. It wasn't highly probably either, as there were no plans for today that would alter it significantly from every other day. I just knew today would be different.

But I woke up, and I was still me.

And I stepped out, and the world stayed in character.

I don't know what I was expecting-

(...a sky so green, so lush and verdant, that as we stood in the streets marvelling at it, a hundred thousand dandylions bloomed in the clouds, and showered us in seeds and fluff.)

(...a pink unicorn to come charging into the office, atop Yul Brynner, prancing and dancing, and saying "Dollface, have I got a ride for you.")

(...I would put on my earphones and press play, and instead of music my iPod would tell me, in hushed and fearful tones, the truth about the moon landing.)

(...all the buildings in the city to unhinge and unfold and dance, townhouses gamboling about the feet of the sky scrapers, and no pigeons seen for another hundred years.)

( people, only sharks, so many sharks, walking the streets and smiling shark smiles.)

(...a stranger to say, "You know, it's okay.")

-but it hasn't happened. It won't happen. I am as certain of that, as I am certain today will be different. They contradict each other, and they're both true. What a daft, illogical, frustrating thing a mind is. How am I supposed to know where the ground is, carrying around a contradiction like that? How can I trust anything I think when the things I am certain about are wrong, wrong, wrong?

I've been here before.

Today will not be different.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present - Cory Doctorow

Hehe. Heh. That was cool.

A collection of not-very-short stories (bar one) which concern the future, but not the distant future. The story Anda's Game could quite possibly be present tense, happening right now, somewhere in the many MMORPGs out there. Shifting the sense of 'possible but not in my lifetime' to 'this could happen far too soon' gives the collection a marvellous frisson. Just as we watch disaster films and true crime shows, a sense of impending doom is disgustingly addictive. There isn't much dignity to be found in the dooms offered here.

When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth made me laugh and groan to begin with; I remember being woken up at obscure hours due to living with an oncall sysadmin. Thankfully, the world didn't end whenever I was trying to get back to sleep. This story seemed to wibble a bit, just as the characters lost their own sense of purpose or direction, but it remains a great piece, and delightfully chewy stuff for the brain.

Another favourite, I, Row-Boat had me giggling for the whole fifty pages. In a future where the majority of the human race consists not of walking meatbags, but uploaded consciousnessesseses, and conscious sentient intelligent robots exercise free will on the Earth, someone has taken it upon themselves to start awakening and connecting...pretty much everything, from the sound of it. Robbie the Rowboat, whose days normally consist of shuttling out human shells for day dives on the Great Barrier Reef, has to deal with one of these newly awakened consciousnesesesessses, namely, a reef.

The reef is kinda pissy. It is hiiii-larious, in that sad, grieving sort of way. I can't help thinking that in such a world, there are no humans. The homo tree we are a part of is largely defined by physical characteristics; if there is no physical, then is there a species? Does it matter anymore?

Also had a "HEY! I KNOW HER!" moment when Kate's full name was revealed. After which I was unable to see the character the same way again, but oh well.

Favourite, absolutely favourite, is the final story, After the Siege.

...I've deleted about five stalled paragraphs attempting to summarise this story, and how deep it went. I don't think I can do it justice. On the surface, it follows Valentine, a girl becoming a woman whose city is devastated and starved and ground to dust by war, as is her home, her family, everything she knows. They starve. They die. They lose. Yet in the city is one who is well fed, well dressed, has the cure to all the things that kill those who aren't dying on the front lines. Valentine finds that person, and doesn't accept their reasons and excuses, and eventually forces them to stop the slaughter, instead of watching.

The author notes mention AIDS treatment and copyright as a comparison. It is true. This story alone is enough reason to buy the book. It is well bloody brilliant.

There are others I haven't mentioned, all very much tasty and scrumptions, but these three stood out. Most excellent.

Verdict: Totally worth your time and money. The book is available for download under a CC licence, but seriously, just fork out the money and buy it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

i've been thinking about a broken line

I know nothing about Jon Protas, other than what his myspace page says, other than he's a musician. He was recommended by the every funky Martha, and given she's a member of Trocadero, we can only trust her taste in music.

I'm abusing the fuck out of No Buses Leaving. To truly appreciate this song, your headspace should be--

--well, a bit fucking bleak, really.

think i never killed a man
been thinking 'bout the wrong things at the wrong time
turn his hand against himself
and the things he loves

i've been thinking about a broken line
of old connections starting out in springtime
disconnecting on the way
quiet by the road

and i've been thinking where a life should go
and wondering as hard enough to keep myself
from answering

how it is i wound up here

i don't even know this place

i don't know what i'm doing here

and all the empty yards and hollow houses
all arranged in solitary segments

and there's no one in the streets

it shouldn't bother me

but i've been thinking where a life should go
and thinking it should always travel forward
thinking it should never wind up here

i'm thinking i should hop on the next bus heading out of town
but i
i see no buses leaving
i see no buses leaving

(Lyrics transcribed by ear and probably wrong, but close enough to be right.)

It's a good song, good piece of music. I can't find any album or such to buy, unfortunately. So I do my part to smear him around the intrawebs a bit.

(Here is a photo of people waiting for trains, waiting to go home, just generally waiting.)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I zoned out.

When I zoned in, I was singing along to Avril Lavigne, and it was good. The end is nigh. Make soylent green out of me now.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I stopped writing up the books I've read, for reasons absolutely saturated in self-pity and horseshit. But the write ups are actually the best way of counting up how much I've read in a year, so, sally forth, as they say.

Picture might look funny; the camera on Eddie flips images, and I can't hold books steady. Even with both hands. Fail.

Blindsight - Peter Watts
First ran into this book at worldcon last year, with that most scrumptious woman Nadini. A couple of months later, I picked it up while in Sydney. Many months later, I read it, and loved it. Such a lonely, unfriendly, isolating book. I wasn't in a great headspace at the time (wow, like that's new), and a story set in the emptiness and hostility of space felt entirely right. A crew of specialised freaks is sent out to investigate possible alien contact, which turns out to be this giant thing; Rorschach. In the middle of everything that is threatening and unknown, the question is asked, 'what is self-awareness good for?' and oh, what a good question. I obsess over it still, I chew it over between turning the light out and falling asleep, while on the train, while not working at work. None of the answers I come up with a nice ones. That's okay. Neither was the book. There is a very good reason this is nomianted for a Hugo: it is roxxor.

Natural History - Justina Robson
I've had this book for ages. I don't entirely remember where or when I bought it. But I wasn't done with stories-set-in-the-vast-emptiness-of-space books, so I munched on it. It wasn't quite what I wanted; this space lacked the isolation I was sniffing for, as each character was connected to the rest of the known universe by intrawebs. The characters were nicer, in fact Zephyr was down right likeable. It was largely a story of trascendence, which wasn't as tightly written as I expected. Possibly I was distracted by story elements that were too similar to some in my own WIP. That Westerfeld guy informed that the reason people keep publishing books containing my ideas is that I write too slowly. I prefer to think I'm derivative, like the best of the wannabe writers out there. It was a good read, but not the right book to follow the one before.

Vampire Hunter D: Mysterous Journey to the North Sea (Part One) - Hideyuki Kikuchi
It's D. Doing his thang.
Actually, this book was more interesting than the previous ones, as the heroin isn't some perfectly beautiful little waif. She's quite plain and practical, and not a brat either. You go, girl. We'll see if it lasts into the next volume.

Calling You - Otsu-ichi
Three novellas, each one stark and soft and raw and tear-inducing. The first was a girl who had an imaginary phone in her head, which is far more beautiful than it sounds. The second is a boy who takes the injuries of others onto himself, which isn't a new idea, but is wonderfully drawn out. The third is a sad, sad song of flowers. Each story has a touch of wonder to it, and each deals with loneliness quietly, quietly. This isn't a big read. I ate it in an hour. Investigate. It will surprise you.

Temeraire: His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War - Naomi Novik
I've had these books for ages. A combination of Justine nagging me and actually having a second Hugo nominated book on my shelves prompted me to hurry up and read them. The first was a delight; like reading the Pern books again, I wanted want my own dragon; like discovering Hornblower again, I want my own square-rigger. What ho! A good frolic in the Napoleonic Wars with big roarming beasties, who could ask for more? Not I. The second book had less shine, but in itself was quite interesting concerning the politics of dragons. The third book felt very much like filler; our heroes must get back from China to England somehow, in order for the rest of the story unfold, and the final defeat of Napoleon to take place. Black Powder War is that getting from A to B. Fun books, yes indeed.

I'm not really a writer. And I'm a lazy reader. All this is just life spent pointlessly.