the m john harrison blog

Month: October, 2009

all hallows

Yesterday I walked past a shop with a sign in its window, “Buy your complete Halloween outfit here!” & realised I was almost insane with boredom. Everything we have as a society–everything we do–is completely fucking spineless & irrelevant. It’s a “world” with no connection to the world, held in place by the biggest military deployment the world has ever seen so that 35 year old kidults can wear plastic witches’ hats on a Saturday night. People say: science fiction is over because reality caught up with it. I say: by the same token, fantasy is over because three whole generations are living in one. When are we going to grow up ? When is someone even going to suggest that ?


meet tim & seth

Vacuum downstairs & bedroom
Wash kitchen floor
Air downstairs
Empty bedroom waste bin
Make bed
Move wash bag, clothes etc downstairs
Get chocolate croissants, Earl Grey etc
!!MEET TIM & SETH @ 5.45!!

Reading: Journey into Fear, Eric Ambler. Transcribing: notes made in the Radiography reception area, St Mary’s Roehampton. Wishing I’d been at: The Manchester Fiction Prize bash last Friday.

all good cognitive stuff

Quantised perception, perceptual acceleration (or not) in times of high adrenalin, etc, here. Also, a fact about phantom limb. Maybe the next stage is to induce the phantom limb experience in subjects who haven’t lost anything, thereby enabling them to make personal choices about their neural structures & procedures. I can see this as being part of the industrial process that produced Seria-Mau in Light. It would be another resource for the tailors. (Not that “extrapolations” –ie, rubbishy assumptions–like this are something you necessarily want to parade in the text itself; the author needs to make lots of them, & the story & texture should depend upon them, but the reader should see as few as possible.)

short & sad

Somebody landed here today after Googling “describe yourself in a single phrase”. Mine would be: five feet six inches tall.

Reading Lee Smolin, The Trouble with Physics. Good stuff, but I think a better source of epigrams for the new novel would be Adam Thorpe’s Hodd, which has this: “…a shrieking was heard under the grass and a pearl the bigness of a hazel-nut lay there, from whence the smell of a honeycomb rose up, that over-powered the stink (though some said that the perfume was of violets), whereupon the pearl vanished that none should quarrel over it, and soon after the wind calmed and the light returned.” It’s the absolute archetype of medieval visionary imagery, the madness they did so well. I want to write something like it.

My EasyJet virus (the second one I’ve caught on a Gatwick-Valencia flight) has migrated from the left ear, where it made its reputation, to the sinuses on the other side. A dull ache in the cheekbone comes and goes according to the weather, making me a more woeful figure than I was yesterday.

a time in spain


Underground parking structure, Urbanisation Sur, Valencia.


Architectural detail, Urbanisation Sur.


Objects, Urbanisation Sur.


Welcome to Vegas, Don Jilton 24 horas a su servicio.


Hulk, Pego


Other discarded objects, Pego.


Discarded Renault 4, Benirrama.

this month’s shoe porn

Innov8 Flyroc 310–


It’s all I can do not to steam them very lightly & eat them for lunch.

babylon was dust

I can deal with any amount of this, especially when Thomas Metzinger is involved. It reminds me of the absolute best of Charles Williams. The magus Zoroaster, my dead child,/Met his own image/Walking in the garden. You bet.


11am St Pancras/Sheffield. The man sleeping across the aisle from me has taken off his black leather shoes & put his feet on the seat opposite. The Telegraph has fallen off the table at his side. Bedford station wakes him up & he opens his briefcase and begins to eat from a packet of crisps or something like it, putting his hand into the case each time he wants some more. While he is eating, his hand flops down to the seat at his side. He is quite a young man, with lively eyes, but this way of eating has a curiously furtive effect, as if he is reluctant to admit that he is eating at all. He drinks more openly, from a carton of pineapple juice, sucking at it energetically. The flat Bedfordshire landscape races past his shoulder, green with summer, wired for electricity. He puts the Telegraph aside for a book. His toes twitch. The guard announces, “Ladies & gentlemen, Kettering station.” We are in HE Bates country. A white butterfly bobs up and down between the platforms, fluttering towards London along the down-line, fragile but compelled.

mr toad he bad

A week or two ago, BBC 24 Hour non-News had a Saturday entertainment segment on drag racing. Oh god, the thrill that went through me. I know it’s the wrong time for this. I know all this is over. I do know that. But before I die I want to sit in one of those 2-seat tourist models & smell exotic substances burning & be squirted down the quarter mile, 0-100 in two seconds from a standing start. 0-100 miles an hour in two seconds is, by competitive standards, slow. I’d like to go that slow just once before I do the right thing. That’s the size of it. Mr Toad would make any number of insincere & balding speeches to return to 13 years old & achieve levels of slowness like that. He would wring his hands all right. Promise to behave better.

& you can’t better this on a bad Friday morning. I like especially–

I confess that I like the early songs as well. But it’s too late, they’re gone, disowned like bad relations. “I’m embarrassed by them,” he admits. “It was a time when I was trying to find my place within the business. I was figuring out who I was and where that person intersected with the world of commerce. It was like I was sitting there with a ventriloquist’s dummy on my knee. And the dummy is made out of wood. And after a while you start to hate each other.”

science fiction in africa

Lara Pawson drew my attention to this.