Friday, September 26, 2008


When you're flying from moon to moon in the Saturn System you're never short of beautiful views.

The Quiet War, Chapter 4(i)

Much later, Macy Minnot would come to believe that Emmanuel Vargo had been the first casualty of the war. But when she first heard about the ecosystem engineer’s death she thought that it was nothing more sinister than bad luck. A freak medical mishap. An accident.

Like Macy and the rest of the construction crew, Emmanuel Vargo spent the twelve-week voyage from Earth to Jupiter in the deep sleep of artificial hibernation, drugged and chilled and consuming a minimal amount of oxygen and water while the Brazilian cargo ship fell through eight hundred million kilometres of sunlit black vacuum. He was still asleep when the ship went into orbit around Callisto, the outermost of Jupiter’s four large Galilean moons, and first-class passengers and hibernation coffins and cargo pods were offloaded onto a tug that descended to the port, a cluttered slab cantilevered above a dusty plain west of the city of Rainbow Bridge. The tug touched down on a scorched landing apron with the lumbering delicacy of a hippopotamus attempting ballet. A mobile crane unlatched from the tug’s cargo frame the truck-sized pod that contained the hibernation coffins and transported it to a pressurised hangar where the coffins were extracted one by one and loaded onto flatbed carts that trundled through subsurface tunnels to the medical facility at the edge of the port. That was where Emmanuel Vargo began to wake, and that was where he died.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Welcome To The Future

You come boiling off the flight from hell, two hours delayed out of Heathrow, another hour stacked over O'Hare, some rugrat kicking the back of your seat throughout, and a fat drunk snoring on your shoulder. You're anxious to make your connection with a domestic flight, but first you have to pass through this:

Baggage searches are SOOOOOO early-21st century. Homeland Security is now testing the next generation of security screening — a body scanner that can read your mind.

Most preventive screening looks for explosives or metals that pose a threat. But a new system called MALINTENT turns the old school approach on its head. This Orwellian-sounding machine detects the person — not the device — set to wreak havoc and terror. MORE AFTER THE JUMP:

Have a nice day...

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Quiet War, Chapter 3

It was the most important funeral to have been held in Brasília for more than twenty years. The avenues around the Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida were clogged with limousines and flitters. Drivers and security details eyed each other with professional interest. Drones wove amongst treetops. Helicopters beat wide circles under the hot blue sky. Wolves prowled the long park, Eixo Monumental, and half the city was paralysed by interlocking rings of security.

Born Under A Wandering Star

It seems out that the sun may have wandered far from where it was first formed. So in one sense we're all hobos.

For some reason, thinking of SF novels about the hobo life, I forgot all about James Blish's Cities In Flight series, which describes an interstellar civilisation in which cities use antigravity motors to wrench themselves free from Earth and soar through the Galaxy, looking for work. Which was pretty dumb of me, especially as I provided a blurb for the SF Masterworks edition: 'An outrageous imaginative coup . . . Crammed with high adventure yet illuminated by a searching intelligence, this four-part epic completely reinvented the traditions of space opera'.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Buddy, Can You Spare A Byte?

One of many sites with advice for would-be professional indigents. Apparently panhandling is now a career-path.

Don't confuse panhandlers with hobos by the way. Hobos have their own code, and their own handchalked version of email. Not to mention their own national convention.

(Many writers are fascinated by tramps and hobos, possibly because most have a lurking dread about ending up on the streets. This is one of my favourite novels about falling from the world above into the world below. There are of course many others, although I'm hard-pressed to think of an SF example. Maybe William Gibson's Virtual Light fits the bill, although its protagonists really inhabit a kind of pirate utopia.)
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