Categories

Science Fiction

He Came From Planet Bathos

Some might question my claim to geekhood on the grounds that I have never read Tolkein or Herbert. Frank Herbert’s Dune is frequently described as the best science fiction novel ever. Over the past few weeks I have been reading a little bit more of it every evening before going to sleep. Whatever else it […]

Read More

Future News: Headlines Of 2108

NASA ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE ON CENTAURI IV AND ENCOUNTER POPULATION OF HUMANOIDS SO PRIMITIVE THAT THEY STILL HAVE FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS. PANEL OF HISTORIANS VOTES ON MOST HATED FIGURES OF 21ST CENTURY. SADDAM HUSSEIN, CLONED HITLER, HEATHER MILLS-MCCARTNEY TOP POLL. HUMPHREY LYTTELTON FORCED TO STAND DOWN AS PRESENTER OF I’M SORRY I HAVEN’T A CLUE AFTER EXPOSURE […]

Read More

Metamorphoses

Apparently there exists an entity known as “Kate Lawler”, who won Big Brother and has since become a club DJ. For an organism in the contemporary UK celebrity ecosystem, the next three stages of development are as follows: [Big Brother winner → club DJ →] chick lit writer → Conservative MP → Alien Queen

Read More

Sex-u-a-lity

Given that I spent New Year’s Eve alone at my computer keyboard tidying up my remote UNIX home directory, this is going to read like a middle-class white guy wibbling on about how “vibrant” the local “community” is as he moves into a flat in one of London’s tiny ethnic war-zones instead of the Georgian […]

Read More

A Sound Of Blunder

EDWARD BURNS: Yes, I am Edward Burns, the legendary molecular bio-something-or-other. Like all world-famous interdisciplinary scientists I have a cuboid jawline and impeccable upper-body development. You can tell I’m an intellectual from my stubble, my carefully ruffled hair, and my slightly messy luxury urban apartment. No, they couldn’t afford Matthew McConaughey. ASTOUNDINGLY UNCONVINCING STROLL AGAINST […]

Read More

WebThatch

[Through a tiny RealPlayer window it is difficult to make out the gloomy interior of a top-of-the-range Executive Home in Dulwich. The scene brightens as a fluorescently-lit life-support pod opens and we catch a glimpse of a giant electromechanical hand lowering a pulsating mass of hair onto MARGARET THATCHER’s scalp. One lower petal of the […]

Read More

Puerile, I Know

All the women reading this must now punish me in the comments here for giggling like a schoolboy at Jo Salmon’s Star Wars blog post yesterday, in which she actually resorted to the “lesbian-interrupted-by-the-plumber” plotline beloved of another cinematic sub-genre. Spank me, girls.

Read More

Testy Aliens

If I’d thought about it for a second before, I’d have guessed that there were blogs written in Klingon, but I do like that the first one I’ve actually “read” is called “bo logh“.

Read More

Beige Girl In Space

Back here I complained that Dr Who was currently prettier than his assistant. Clearly someone at the BBC has been paying attention. Here’s one of several poorly lit publicity photos* of David Tennant and his new sidekick, half-Iranian, half-Ghanian Freema Agyeman: Having failed to heed the make-up artist’s warnings, David and Freema discover the hard […]

Read More

A Day In The Life

I’m in a bookshop on the Charing Cross Road. I’ve just come from lunch with an editor at The Economist(, dahling). My mobile rings. it’s the other person from the newspaper I was supposed to meet earlier. She’d been stuck in the City, talking to men-in-suits. I move to the back of the shop and […]

Read More

Dear BBC…

Excuse me for not noticing this before as I don’t have a TV, but I have to say that this is exactly the kind of perversion of the natural order you can expect when you employ one of those Godless homosexuals to write Dr Who: a Doctor who’s prettier than his assistant. UPDATE: And butch […]

Read More

I Haven’t Got A Girlfriend Either

Bernd Schneider reviews Star Trek model kits: The Enterprise-C is one of the very few starship model kits that can be recommended to beginners. It is also one of the best researched kits by AMT/Ertl. Provided the model is carefully painted, it may look very close to the actual studio model. The most annoying flaw, […]

Read More

Killer Bug Ate My Leg

The Five Stages of Athlete’s Foot: Day One: “Ooh dear, that’s a bit itchy.” Day Two: [takes off sock] “Ewww! It looks like some alien life form is gnawing its way through the flesh between my phalanges. Must pop along to the chemist tomorrow and get something for that.” Day Three: “Hello, NHSDirect? Yes, unfortunately […]

Read More

The Man In The Unfurnished Flat

I’ve put all my bedroom furniture together now, and my bedtime reading over the past few days has been Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle. [Typically, Penguin publishes the book inside two different tarted-up covers, but with the same nasty old typesetting inside.] As “what if the Axis won the War?” novels […]

Read More

Short People

still from Spielberg's War Of The Worlds

You will not see a better made film this year than Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. There’s been more than one occasion when I’ve felt that Spielberg has squandered his gifts so casually that I’ve left the cinema jumpy with irritation at him. I didn’t yesterday evening. At a certain point craftsmanship becomes so […]

Read More

Two Tragedies

Michael Jackson’s story is Darth Vader’s in reverse. In Star Wars, a whiny, sexually frustrated, white man-child no one trusts turns, via hideous disfigurement, into an all-conquering, super-cool black guy who first made it big in the 70s.

Read More

Old News

In the year 2000 a mysterious stranger journeyed from the future to tell us about his past. His name was John Titor and this is his story. (Despite his supposed online notoriety, it wasn’t until now that I had even heard of him.)

Read More

Wonderful Gifts

I had some superb birthday presents this year. I’d especially like to thank Judith for Keane’s Hopes And Fears, Leasey for Ultraviolet, and the Anonymous Economist for the Pierre Marcolini chocolates. Despite the cliché title, Hopes And Fears is a real delight. It’s indie rock descended from the Radiohead-Coldplay line, but without the guitars. She […]

Read More

Spaced

In today’s Observer [via Hak]: On Tuesday the BBC launches the return of Doctor Who after an absence of nine years. The first episode of the new series, by Russell T Davies, writer of Queer as Folk and Doctor Who’s new creative director, will be screened at the end of this month… …this time the […]

Read More

Iran’s Nuclear Programme: The Truth

The BBC has a round-up of “experts’” views on “Iran’s nuclear crisis”. Helpfully, after the introduction to the piece, each comment is abstracted to a single line. One of the wise men questioned by Auntie—Sanam Vakil, of the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington—offers this new insight into the affair: “The Iranians need some really big […]

Read More

It’s Time To Play The Music

Even when disagreeing with me, anti-war Backword Dave has always shown commendable respect for the moral basis of my pro-war Leftie stance. Yesterday, however, he cited the words of Yoda, a Muppet no less, in criticizing Tony Blair’s foreign policy. If Tony reads it he’ll probably have to resign.

Read More

I Am Lost

Science fiction nerds might remember Umpty Candy, the confection that tasted so good its sale had to be prohibited and inventor blasted into space where the secret recipe inside his head could no longer be accessed. You probably know that I cannot speak of “organic” foods or “Fairtrade” products without a pair of sneer quotes […]

Read More

Science Fantasy Shakespeare

I suspect that I enjoyed and admired The Chronicles of Riddick so much primarily because I expected so little of it; I hope I don’t diminish anyone’s pleasure with this rave. Do not read about this film. See this on the big screen while you still can. It has been surprisingly unpopular and I only […]

Read More

Michael Crichton Is Annoying (And Mostly Right)

Michael Crichton is a doctor, a best-selling author, and unfairly good-looking. He also gets to make a fortune both writing science fiction horror novels and at the same time debunking science “fact” horror stories. Backword Dave calls the Drake Equation “crack cocaine”. It is. Crichton breathed its vapours deeply before he made this famous public […]

Read More

How Science Gets Done

I had an idea at work yesterday. This is worthy of comment because few of my ideas survive beyond five minutes of my examining them in daylight; next to none survive my explaining them to colleagues. Philosophers, historians, and sociologists of science often, but not always, subscribe to one of a limited range of theories […]

Read More
Older Posts