Teahouse on the Tracks (Alastair Reynolds)
« August 2007 »
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
What film is this?

Has anyone else seen the early 1960s Czech science fiction film Ikarie XB1? (Also released as Voyage to the End of the Universe).

When I was a kid, I saw a film on television that had a considerable effect on me - so much so, that at least part of it fed into Chasm City nearly thirty years later. I remember seeing this film in our house in Cornwall, and we moved out of there around about 1974. It was in black and white, but then so was everything - we only had a black and white telly. (Such is the power of suggestion, though, that when I think back to Pertwee-era Dr Who episodes I only saw in Cornwall, I see them in colour).

The film was set on a spaceship going somewhere. I have the feeling it was foreign (the film, not the spaceship). Now and then there exterior shots of the ship whizzing along at a very high velocity.

At one point a holographic clown or clown-like figure appears to give instruction to/entertain a child (see the clown subplot in Chasm City, which was a conscious nod to this exceedingly vague memory).

My key recollection, and the thing that I found quite disturbing at the time (keep in mind I would have been no older than six or seven) was that one of the crew on the ship was kept in a kind of upright black box with only his head sticking out of the top - it was some kind of suspended animation device, I think - although I remember that the crewman was conscious, or became conscious. Later I recall him breaking out of this box.

That's it. I've looked at online summaries of the plot of Ikarie XB-1, and while none of them specifically contradict these memories, nothing confirms them either. There are also lots of things in those summaries I don't recall.

Did I see this film? Did it mess with my mind and set me on the course to being a miserabilist, left-leaning SF writer?

Posted by voxish at 5:17 PM MEST
Now Playing: Ash - 1977

I just got back from an enjoyable weekend in Belfast, as one of the guests at this year's Mecon convention. It was great to hook up with some people I'd met only briefly before (Ian McDonald, Paul Cornell), as well as some I'd never met - CE (Catie Murphy), Leah Moore and John Reppion, and the great Iain Banks - all of whom turned out to be lovely people, making for an excellent couple of days. The convention organisers did a good job of creating a relaxed and sociable vibe, with the panels tending to be free-form things where the participants more or less made it up as they went along. We'd not been to Belfast before (or NI for that matter) and we liked it a lot. In a couple of months I'm off to Maynooth (near Dublin) for Octocon, where I'll get the chance to meet some of the Mecon attendees and guests again - I'm already looking forward to it.

I don't normally go in for this sort of thing, but my main purchase of the weekend - apart from a Weather Report CD and an Early Doors DVD (remember - crime can't crack itself) was a massive, lavish hardcover entitled "The Making of Star Wars". I got it for 18 quid because it was supposedly a bit damaged, but almost invisibly so to my eyes. This is a monster of a book which contains a wealth of interviews and production sketches detailing the making of the film (you'd never guess it from the title, would you?) including story boards, early script ideas, and much insight into the shifting identies of the main characters before they were nailed down - Luke as a girl, for instance. It also includes lots of geek-specific data which I will treasure, such as the fact that the model of the Rebel ship which comes in at the beginning was six feet long, whereas as the supposedly much vaster Imperial Cruiser which swallows it was only three feet long.  You can also see, in germinal form, much that later fed into the sequels and even prequels - there's an early mention of Mace Windu, for instance. Or is it Mace Windy - hard to tell. We also learn that the trench on the Death Star isn't (supposedly) the equatorial band which goes around the whole moon, but one of several grooves converging on the pole. Learning this, I really felt as if a fundamental aspect of my worldview had just been unhinged.

Being a serious SF writer, I'm not supposed to like Star Wars, but I do, so there.

Posted by voxish at 4:50 PM MEST
Monday, 30 July 2007
All things in moderation
Now Playing: British Sea Power
I've been having intermittent problems with Tripod's software, which has meant I couldn't log into to authorise comments (including my own). I've found what appears to be a workaround, but in the meantime, since I've not yet had to refuse a single comment, I've turned off the moderation. Let's see how it goes.

Posted by voxish at 1:07 PM MEST
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
The act we act
Now Playing: Sugar

The comment to the last post by James Russell raises the interesting issue of visualising characters as actors - James "got" Edward James Olmos as Dreyfus in The Prefect. I certainly wasn't thinking of that actor when I wrote the Dreyfus sequences in the book, but he wouldn't be a bad choice, in the unlikely event that the novel would ever need casting. He certainly has something of Dreyfus's dour intensity - and of course, he has a history of playing policemen.

It begs the question, though: when writers sit down to develop a character, to what extent does "dream casting" factor into the process? I made no secret of the fact that I visualised Clavain (from Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap etc) as an older, grizzled Sean Connery - in fact, I was thinking specifically of the Russian submarine commander he plays in The Hunt for Red October. But now that I'm done with Clavain, and I see him from the outside - as a character in some stories that I hardly remember writing - the Connery association is now much less important, if it's there at all.  He could just as easily be played by Ian McKellan, come to think of it.

I know I'm not the only writer who indulges in dream casting, but it's not something that you see discussed in public very often. And perhaps I'm less inclined to show my cards now than I was a few years ago. If you want to know who I had in mind as Floyd, for instance, you'll need to pin me down in public, preferably over a beer (oh, all right - John Goodman). But I'm not going to tell you who I had in mind for Dreyfus, or Gaffney, or Thalia... at least until that book is well out of my system...

Posted by voxish at 6:26 PM MEST
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
Aurora comes in view
Now Playing: A Flock of Seagulls

A correspondent asked me how the character Aurora, as featured in The Prefect, could have been involved in the events of Absolution Gap. The simple answer is that she wasn't - the girl in AG is Aura, and there's no connection between the two. My fault, though - I really shouldn't have used two names that were so similar, in the same series of books, and I'll try not to do so again.

In the meantime, Panoply analysts have determined that the likeness displayed by the Aurora entity to Gaffney and the other prefects appears to be derived from this painting by nineteenth century artist Thomas Cooper Gotch:


Posted by voxish at 2:33 PM MEST
Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007 2:40 PM MEST
Thursday, 14 June 2007

Mention of a couple of online interviews I've done in the last few weeks:

Heres one for Yatterings.com

And there's another at the Sci-fi for women website for which you'll need to register to access.

 I can't find a way to insert those URLs as active links, incidentally - the "insert link" tool button is greyed out in the popup window which opens for me when I update this site. I may be doing something wrong (more than likely), but for now it'll go on the list of minor annoyances which may count against me using Tripod's blogging software in the long run. (Update: I found out how to get into the raw HTML and attempted to insert the links properly, so we'll see if that works or not).

There's also - supposedly - an interview with me in issue two of the new SF glossy Death Ray, but I haven't yet managed to track down a copy in the Netherlands, which tends to be a bit hit and miss when it comes to UK magazine distribution.

 At the moment I am sitting at my laptop soaked to the skin, incidentally, as I just got caught in a rainstorm while attempting to photograph a coot and her chicks on a nearby nest. I think I feel a sneeze coming on...



Posted by voxish at 4:41 PM MEST
Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007 5:01 PM MEST
Friday, 8 June 2007
Aberrant Dreams

More news: Aberrant Dreams, a magazine based in Atlanta, is running a special issue which will contain an original story of mine, "The Manastodon Broadcasts". This is a very unusual story, since it was written in response to a competition run by the magazine, whereby readers were invited to submit a story synopsis based around one of several SF and fantasy images supplied by the magazine. The special issue, entitled The Awakening, will be available in several formats, and features original fiction from myself, Ian Watson, Mary Rosenblum, among others.
























As soon as I can get my addled brain around it, I will load the ad for The Awakening onto the main site. You can find out more about it by visiting Aberrant Dream's website:


Other news: I finished a novella, "The Six Directions of Space" (about the starfaring descendants of Genghis Khan), for Gardner Dozois's forthcoming Galactic Empires anthology. 

It's a bit late to mention it, but the "Sledge-Maker's Daughter" appeared in Interzone 209 a couple of months ago, and my Merlin novella, "Minla's Flowers", is now available in Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan's The New Space Opera, at least in the Australian edition. On his blog, Jonathan also reports that the young adult SF anthology "The Starry Rift" should be out next February, which will contain "The Star-Surgeon's Apprentice". And I spotted the David Hartwell Year's Best SF in Amsterdam last week, which contains "Tiger, Burning" from last year's Forbidden Planets anthology.



Posted by voxish at 5:54 PM MEST
Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007 7:49 PM MEST
Thursday, 7 June 2007

This summer Revelation Space will appear in the UK with a new cover, running alongside the existing one. This is part of a promotion Orion are running for "future masterworks". The new cover will not feature the name of the book or the author, although the information will be on the spine.

Next year there is talk of reissuing all of my books with a revised cover design, the feeling being that the stark layout of RS has been imitated to the point where it no longer stands out as well as it did.






Posted by voxish at 6:06 PM MEST
Into the great wide open

This is my first blog entry. I've created this blog adjunct to my mine site - using Tripod's existing blogging software, which I'm sure isn't the best out there, but will do fine for me - because I wanted to keep my web presence more up to date than has been the case recently, and using a blog tool seemed the obvious way to go. Once upon a time it was very easy to mess around with HTML and upload changes, but now that I do all my web surfing from home, I've found it an increasingly tedious chore, something that involves messing around with two computers, memory sticks, FTP etc - time which could be profitably spent (and usually is) doing something else instead.

Hence this experiment. We'll see how it goes. If I can seamlessly integrate all the existing content of the website into this area, I will - otherwise, the two will happily coexist.  I'm in two minds about the whole "comments" thing - is it a good idea, or a bad one? For now I've left comments enabled but moderated, and (again) I'll see how it goes.

I suppose I should actually post some news, so I'll mention that I'm about half way through the new book, HOUSE OF SUNS, and that while this could not be called a sequel, it shares some of the background and characters with my novella Thousandth Night, which appeared in Gardner Dozois's One Million AD. HOS is set in about 6 million AD, and does not attempt slavish consistency with the novella.



Posted by voxish at 5:18 PM MEST
Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007 6:13 PM MEST

Newer | Latest | Older