the m john harrison blog

Month: January, 2014


earth advengers

As soon as we get the alien starship I will be known as Ms Jet, or Lady Jet. You will be Lemmy. Other members of the crew will be Spike, Smork, Cookie & The Crow. & we will have jokes, for instance in any bad situations–like we are running out of ammunition & surrounded by enemies–I will always say, “Cookie, this is the worst porridge you ever cooked up!” & we will all have a favourite weapon. Spike’s favourite weapon will be his rusty Earth .40 snub. & I will say, “Seriously Spike you expect to hit anything with that, anyone is always better with the four inch barrel & the adjustable backsight.” & Spike will always say, “Captain Jet, a four inch barrel is for vermin control.” & I will say, “That’s what we do here in space, Spike.” Then I will give him a significant look & add: “We control vermin.” & everyone will laugh and Spike will admit ruefully, “Guess you got me there, Ms Lady!” Spike makes his own bullets & has Outworld hair. Cookie is always “Fat Cookie”. My special weapon will be a fifteen petawatt proton gun which only I can lift, aimed telepathically through advanced radio telescopes distributed in the Cat’s Eye Nebula & accurate to less than one Planck length. Our main enemies will be: Bizarro Nazis and The Junk. Our signature will be: Earth Advengers!

Is that understood?


vague heart: a science fiction novel of the near future

Project Trap: Project Trap was never completed. Project Soul Gem was a project to collect “evidence-free innuendo”. Soul Gem was wound down in 1945 upon the birth of the resource (see notes). Several similar projects wound down naturally with the resource itself. Eat Cake, a hardened version of Soul Gem 2: the Eat Cake abstract promised abjection, violence, denial. Eat Cake was unlisted. Various other projects: Project 121 (see appended material). Mex Lite, Max Eight & Lite Core were clean product generated during varied initiatives and test runs. “Initiative B” ran successfully until 1978, when it was replaced under the Dark Stork programme. Project Veil Grain was an unsuccessful add-on to the Main Stem series. Vague Heart: Project Vague Heart remains partially operational but is identified under recent initiatives as “2014”. Resource appears to have retained motility & limited function.

Project 92 is the shadow of something much larger. 

arc two: exit strategies


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keep watching the walls

Beige Ops team: we fade into the background. Beige Ops are in the walls. They are in the paint on the walls. Beige Ops are so secret & so pivotal they are in the paint itself. They are in the grains of pigment, and how the grains of pigment arrange themselves. No one sees a Beige Op. No one ever knows if they were part of one. Ask yourself if you are a part of the paint on the walls. There’s no answer to that question. We are all in the most comprehensive Beige Op ever staged. The whole of the 1950s was a Beige Op, run out of a livingroom wall in Harrow. Beige Ops are a decision made by the visible spectrum. Unpredictable but inevitable. Beige Ops are galactic. They are nationwide. Keep watching the walls.

wake radio

When I woke up this morning the radio was on in the big room on the first floor. It was mysterious how that happened. I heard eerily public voices behind the closed door. I listened. I went in. I didn’t knock. A woman had just referred to “nutters” & “loony bins”. Picked up on her terminology by the interviewing voice, she replied in smooth good-humoured tones with words to the effect of, “It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just my way,” & began to talk again as if nothing had happened. Then a prof was asked his opinion, which he gave at length. The three contesting voices echoed for a minute or two in this cold, tranquil, rather empty room with its odd fireplace & disappointing floorboards. I wondered if the radio had been on all night. I wondered if they had been talking like this all night. I wondered what subjects they had covered in the endless grinding contemporary three-cornered conversation of concerned mediation etc etc. Then I went downstairs & put some coffee on. When I got back it was a different trio, sitting in judgement on some useless weak-eyed shit transfixed by the spotlight of the idealisation/devaluation cycle. I wondered if we would ever grow out of late 1970s male adolescent music-reviewer BPD & free ourselves to act forwards in a useful adult manner.

keeping up appearances

CFP is out for papers at the M John Harrison conference, Irradiating the Object, Warwick University on the 21st of August this year–more detail will follow when I have it. I’ll be reading & doing Q&A at that, then in October I’m guest-reading at Arvon’s Totleigh Barton branch for that wily & sinuous team Jensen & Ings, who will be teaching a course called Dreams & Visions. Anyone else who’d like a disreputable old pony at their horse show, please get in touch with me here, or @mjohnharrison, or via the Mic Cheetham Agency.

a busy life

It’s advert time. She’s being pulled along by a big friendly dog. She’s seeing friends, they’re stealing her snacks! She’s trying on clothes and advertising a breakfast cereal. The camera’s going with her everywhere. Now she’s shaving dead skin off her heels where her weight forces them daily into the backs of her shoes, with a thing that looks like an electric razor. Quick as you like, the camera cuts to garlic being squeezed through a garlic press. She’s looking at houses, she’s getting lunch, she’s eating a sandwich her way. She’s getting Gaviscon for her lifestyle-induced acid reflux. Her constant constipation is like a bag full of uneaten food, her house smells but she can fix that with a smile. Soon she’s flirting with the dentist, flirting while she takes something for a cough, flirting as the camera follows her into the toilet. She knows so much more than her mother!

work space

It’s a narrow room at the top of the house, probably a corridor in the original Georgian structure. Door at one end, window at the other. I bought a refurbished pine table to use as a desk. A glass display cabinet with not much in it–the two volume Shorter Oxford, some handwritten journals from the 1980s, a fan heater, an ashtray I bought when I was eighteen, the old cat in his little cardboard container. It looks like a cabinet in a junk shop, a display of ageing items assembled but not in any sense collected. I don’t want books where I work; they’re on the next floor down. I don’t want paperwork near me any more; that which hasn’t gone to the recycler is in the cellar. One picture, placed so I don’t see it from the desk. I sit near enough the window to get some light during the day, not near enough to become interested in anything but the roofline of Downes the greengrocer across the road. On the new desk, from left to right: terabyte drive in a black case; Mac Mini, on a slate place-mat to protect the desk from waste heat; 19″ ViewSonic flat screen; keyboard from an original iMac; transparent laser mouse with all its internal gizmos lit up red. Nothing else to catch the eye, except some seashells & fossils on the windowsill. A young jade plant in a plain pot. Late afternoon, two lamps project fans of light on the long wall behind the computer. No calendars, progress charts, pinboards, index cards, plot diagrams, lists of characters and their trait paradigms. No filing boxes. Oak floorboards black with use. Orange Mexican rug. The street fills up with rain, dusk, cars swoosh past, rush hour in Shropshire. I sit at the desk and my back aches from moving things about.