Monday, July 31, 2006
Hello Metro fans!
I had an interview last week with a charming Metro journalist, which runs today. So, hello to all those who've decided to have a look while taking a sneaky pause at work - after all, you can't concentrate for eight hours or more without some breaks. This blog is going to be updated some more come tomorrow - as it auto-archives by month, and the book is out next month, I'm saving a few things for ease of reference. Here are a few things to entertain you in the meantime.
First, has anyone else noticed this? It's something that I'm going to add to the Lexicon (see The Other Side on this site) when I have a moment, but till then it's posted here:
The Fireman's Proof
Common in square-jawed sci fi , and sometimes crime, where the all-action hero has to undo the work of mad scientists. He comes away concluding that Certain Things Shouldn't Be Meddled With, or that Nature Cannot Be Changed, or something similar - when the real problem was caused not by meddling science but by cockeyed experimental methods, like testing something on an entire planet before trying a small control group or breeding for aggression before you've properly checked the creature's intelligence. Similar to a fireman concluding that chemistry is a malign art because a lab caught fire after the technician fell asleep while boiling something, when the only thing that's really been proved is that you should watch your experiments more closely.
A very funny reading experience to be had here: http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Misc/eyeargon.html - a story said to be the worst ever written. (Apparently it's well known among sci fi fans, but I only had it pointed out to me recently.) It was written by one Jim Theis when he was 16, and it tells the tale of Grignr the barbarian and his various struggles, with sentences like 'The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.' Reading it, I had to wonder if it was a hoax, but apparently not. The interesting thing is that, just occasionally, it hits on a metaphor that, from a competent writer, would look brilliant. The evil counsellor, for instance, suggests the following fate for the captured Grignr: 'Why not mellow him in one of the subterranean vaults for a few days, then send him to life labor in one of your buried mines.' Mellow him? Doesn't that have a nicely sinister air, a chef preparing his victims like wine? Though I feel a bit sorry for Theis (worst ever writer isn't exactly a nice claim to fame; I wouldn't be posting this except that he's dead now), I can't honestly ascribe it to good planning. It seems the monkey-on-a-typewriter effect works with imagery . . .
Also, if anyone is in or passing through London, I know the best chocolate shop in the world. Forget Belgium and Switzerland, the place where it's at is l'Artisan du Chocolat, http://www.artisanduchocolat.com/ArtisanduChocolatSite/pages/home/default.asp. Rather than using coffee and liqueur flavouring, which personally I don't like, they flavour with things like flowers, and fruits, and herbs, and just wonderful chocolate. One time I handed one to a friend of mine: she put it in her mouth, chewed for about a second, misted over, then waved incoherently and said 'Talk amongst yourselves . . .' And we had to leave her alone to finish her moment. Artisan is what happens to chocolate that was good in a previous life. Please, go there, buy their products, and keep them in business so I can keep shopping there.
Finally, for anyone who's having a bad office day, take consolation from these little rodents: http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/mypics/12278/display/5078224.
And have a nice day.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
If you link to nothing else this year, link to this:
It's a little online exhibition of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, and it's wonderful.
I'm shameless about how boring I can be on the subject of wildlife photography. David Attenborough for Prime Minister! A big part of this is recent, and it's because of this exhibition.
To explain: every year, an exhibition of wildlife photography is held at the Natural History Museum in London - a fabulously beautiful building in itself, a huge Victorian pile designed as a kind of temple to science. It looks like basic Victorian Gothic architecture, but up close, you'll see that all the columns and panels have been cast with decorations, like carved gargoyles in a church. Only they're not gargoyles, they're monkeys and fish and snakes and lizards and mice, and animals of all kinds. Its exhibitions are good, but nothing tops the building itself.
Or so I thought. Then I went to this exhibition. It was very simple: mildly soothing ambient music, combined with a collection of the year's best wildlife photos, mounted on lightboxes so they shone out from the walls. That's all.
I can't remember when I've been so happy, so touched, so relaxed in my life.
Every picture is a masterpiece of composition. And the subjects themselves, well, they have a chimp catching termites from the air! They have macaques trekking through the snow! They have pikes lurking in the green depths! Photographs so beautiful that they're almost hyper-real.
I'm a complete baby when it comes to pictures of animals, I'll admit it. But these are the best you'll ever see. And you can see them all at this website, or at least, you can at the time of posting, and I hope it's a long time before they take it down. The pictures are fairly small and low res, alas, but you can still get a sense of them. If you have any love of being transported, give these photographs a look.
Monday, July 24, 2006
And so it begins . . .
A few short months ago, I was sitting at an office desk, reflecting with contentment on the neat little Excel document that was my visual guide to getting the books I edited off to the printers on time. It was blue and white; it had a nice font, I had the target dates all lined up. I had a calendar with Scottish landscapes sitting on my printer. I met deadlines. The satisfaction of filling in the boxes, the speed with which I replied to e-mails, the consistency with which I worked through the day . . . all of them are fading into the distance.
The thing is, I'm now a full-time writer.
On August 3 2006 in my native England, my first novel hits the shelves. It's August 8 in America, as the story involves werewolves and August 8 is a full moon night - an idea my erudite father is teasing me about, but I personally think is cute. As I've also had the good fortune to sell movie rights, I packed in my job and hopped the fence: I am now an ex-editor novelist.
I am terrified.
Welcome to my blog.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Welcome to Kit Whitfield's site!
Check back soon for news & extras.
Launch date: 3 August in the UK, 8 August in the US - the latter a full moon night! Foreign rights to Benighted/Bareback have so far sold to China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia and Sweden. A contract for movie rights is currently being worked out with Warner, who were the winners of an auction. Bareback/Benighted was listed as one of three "debuts in demand" at the Frankfurt Book Fair by Joel Rickett of the Guardian, 29 October 2005.
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