Page 123

I have been tagged by James at Speculative Horizons with regards to the current trend in the blogosphere:

Pick up the nearest book, turn to page 123 and write down the fifth sentence.

In my case, I’m rereading Gene Wolfe’s New Sun series in Severian of the Guild. The quote is:

‘And you have known a great many young men, I imagine.’ The truth…

It is Severian talking to Agia.

I think everyone I know has been tagged with this. Except perhaps Fábio over at Post Weird Thoughts.


Borges’s “Book Of Imaginary Beings”

One of my favourite reference books is The Book Of Imaginary Beings, by Jorge Luis Borges.

If I have a problem with the fantasy genre at the minute, it is that, on occasion, it does not embrace… erm… fantasy. It can be quite conservative in the imagination department, and I wonder where the fantasy has gone. Well, this book is chock-full of great creatures that can be referenced. It is a bestiary of mythical creatures, including ones I’ve used, banshees, garudas and sirens, covering locations all over the world, and their origins. It’s not even that big a book, so it really is something worth picking up for any connoisseur of weird stuff, especially for writers, and then there really is no excuse for having standard fare!


Kiva Microfunds

Now, I came across Kiva Microfunds and thought the whole thing pretty damn interesting. Apparently, Bill Clinton thought it a good idea too.

Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding – not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

Give someone the chance to take themselves out of poverty, and more of your donation goes to good effect—that is, less percentage of money put forward gets sucked into paperwork and infrastructure. Can’t be bad.



“We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin, an asimi stamped with the profile of hte Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life—they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of amrs. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to belive that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and supersitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all.”


J.G. Ballard

Nice little interview with J.G. Ballard at the Guardian website. There really is no one quite like him. A couple of years ago I read a few of his books in the usual author flings I have, where I buy up lots of their books and proclaim them the best thing that ever happened to me, only to look back on them with fond memories. I really recommend reading—and sticking with—The Atrocity Exhibition. Whilst not on the surface an easy read, it seeps into your mind the way surrealism can do so well, with dazzling images, metaphors, and a prose that just absolutely sizzles. This edition is very useful, since it puts many of the sections into historical context. Being only a nipper of the SF/F world, I needed it.

Science fiction was a “chance discovery. It touched a spark, but I never wrote the kind of SF that was typical of the time.” The novelist M John Harrison, who was part of the editorial team of New Worlds, the magazine that published many of Ballard’s most controversial stories in the 60s, points out that he was “never well received by generic SF readers and activists. His work is too clearly poetic, satirical, metaphorical – all of which discourages suspension of disbelief and the immersive experience of the exotic on which SF pivots

Now that’s an interesting point, isn’t it? Perhaps never more so than in the modern publishing climate, where so few experimental works are published. So, many are put off when SF is too much involved with these things. I know I’m certainly not, but I’m not the average genre reader, having being knee-deep in the industry for a while.


Pursewarden Writes

Brother Ass, the so-called act of living is really an act of the imagination. The world—which we always visualize as ‘the outside’ World—yields only to self-exploration! Faced by this cruel, yet necessary paradox, the poet finds himself growing gills and a tail, the better to swim against the currents of unenlightenment.

—Lawrence Durrell, Clea.


Springsteen Anthology Line-Up

I mentioned before about my inclusion in ut, but this great line up has been posted for Darkness on the Edge: Tales Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen. I’m apparently the finale…

I’m a big fan of the Boss. He’s second only to Dylan in intensity and depth of lyrics, but streets ahead in quality of composition, and consistency. In my opinion. I’m very proud of this, because it was quite a challenge to write a) something completely out of my comfort zone, b) based on a set of lyrics, and c) a short story, when I’m a broad-canvass sort of chap. I must thank Mr Darren Turpin, the web-artist formerly known as Ariel, for putting me in touch with Harrison Howe, the editor of the collection.

I’m in it for this anti-war song: