Friday, 9 March 2018


I'm at "A beautiful Accident", the opening conference of Meta.Morf 2018 in Trondheim.  Part of the experience is the "Inferno" performance art project.

colleagues in demi-exo-skeletons
I felt as if I was in a Disco episode of Dr Who and the Cybermen.  And I mean that in a good way.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

bookish view from a hotel window

I'm in Trondheim, Norway, for the Meta.Morf "Beautiful Accident" Conference.  It's rather icy out at the moment, although not too cold, at about -3C:

some ice in the dock

The hotel is lovely, and warm.  But the view from my window is a little odd (if somewhat apt):

view into the hotel
The hotel is built in a square, with some of the rooms overlooking the central dining atrium, rather than the exterior.  Down on the floor you can some furniture and a cutlery tray.  They look Lilliputian, but actually they give a scale for the "books", which are actually just wallpaper, and the spines are about two feet high.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Schrödinger's cat caught in the act

The snow captures the very moment that the cat splits in two:

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

wait; I'm an eminent manuscript?

Another day, another spam-bot that doesn’t have English as a first language.  Funny how these “journals” always need just the one more article, of just two pages.  The legitimate journals I’m involved with don’t have that breathtaking degree of precision on page numbers.  Maybe we’re missing a trick?

Dear Dr. S Stepney,

Good Morning…..!

Can we have your article for successful release of Volume2 Issue 5 in our Journal?
Biomedical Journal of Scientific & Technical Research (BJSTR) having Impact Factor 0.548.

In fact, we are in need of one article to accomplish the Issue prior 10th of March; we hope that the single manuscript should be yours. If this is a short notice please do send 2 page opinion/mini review/case report, we hope 2 page article isn’t time taken for eminent people like you.

Your trust in my efforts is the highest form of our motivation, I believe in you that you are eminent manuscript brings out the best citation to our Journal.

Anticipate for your promising response.

Angela Roy | Associate Editor | Biomedical Journal

I note that the previous 20th February publishing apocalypse deadline has been extended to the 10th of March.

I know some people can mix up “your” and “you’re”.  This is the fist time I’ve seen a mix up between “your” and “you are”, however.  Hence my asserted existence as an eminent manuscript.

Oh, and my “promising response”?  I promise to name and shame.  For the record, here’s a (growing) list of the spam-so-far:

Saturday, 24 February 2018

book review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Seanan McGuire.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones.
Tor. 2017

We first meet ‘identical’ twins Jack, apprentice to a mad scientist, and Jill, wannabe vampire, in Every Heart a Doorway. This is their backstory: their terrible life in Mundania, their escape to their own fantasy land, their training there and how it made and broke them, and why they returned back to their parents’ house (I cannot say to their home).

This is another novella, and so not much space to spare on inessentials. I suppose it is necessary to spend several chapters to show why their prior home life as Jacqueline and Jillian is so bad that the fantasy land is such a release. But I would have like to see more of Jack’s life in particular: apprentice to a mad scientist. We move very briskly from their arrival to their pitchfork-assisted departure, and get to understand very well why they end up as they do.

I’m very glad that Wayward Children has turned out to be a series.

For all my book reviews, see my main website.

Friday, 23 February 2018

book review: All Systems Red

Martha Wells.
All Systems Red.
Tor. 2017

Planetary survey missions must be accompanied by a Security Unit: a protection robot supplied by the lowest bidder. The current survey team don’t know that their SecUnit calls itself ‘Murderbot’, and has overridden its governor module. But when mysterious things start happening, they are going to be very glad it has.

This is a zippy little novella, just 150pp of snark as we listen to Murderbot narrate its story, and discover more about its background. There’s not time for a lot of character development other than the first person narrator, but we get an interesting world, an engaging protagonist, and the set-up for a lot more action and robot-soul-searching.

This makes a good contrast with that other recent ‘robot learning to live in a human world’ tale, A Closed and Common Orbit. They are quite different in feel, but both are thought-provoking.

For all my book reviews, see my main website.