Thursday, May 30, 2013

May: Executive Summary

I did an indieview for Stephen C & MJ Ormsby's Ideas Captured. Actually I did it a little while ago. I have read even less science fiction and fantasy now. Roger Ebert is no more.


Intriguing new series, Adventure Rocketship!, edited by Jonathan Wright. "The first in what is set to become a science fiction series of books Adventure Rocketship! explores the theme Let’s All Go To The Science Fiction Disco – focusing on the intersection between music, SF and the counterculture."


Romulan Soup Woman from Punch Press: "Passing remarks, communiques, lineated critiques, speculative commentaries and inter-ludic disquisitions on science fiction, the culture industry, thermonuklearen terrors and crustaceous justitia from: Jo Crot, Benjamin Friedlander, Samuel Solomon, Anne Boyer, Verity Spott, Amaranth Walton, Joe Luna, Caitlin Doherty, Boyd Nielson, Samantha Walton, Pierre Joris, Justin Katko, David Grundy, Peter Manson, Amiri Baraka, Andrew Spragg and Die Zwei Owens. Texts proceptually appropriated from Douglas Oliver, Neil Pattison, Nikolai Ostrovsky, Buckminster Fuller and James Warhola. Komix by Hiram Kruller. Komix from a North Korean manga primer on political economy. 84 pages. Perfect bound." Also worth checking out: Sean Bonney's Letters on Harmony from Verity Spott's Iodine Press.

He comes!

The Zalgo text generator.

He just wants to thrum and ∞ around your ankles. #Illumiaownati

Write words in cats.

#IllumiaownatedManuscripts #作成

It would be good if you could combine those. Dark kitten-glitch augury static.


In The Atlantic, a compilation of DIY engineering from China. 


Star Trek Into Darkness released this month. I don't think we should be making any more Trek stuff until this phenomenon is better understood:


Karen Burnham bricologes some of the gloomier eschatological statements from a century of "state of the art" SF criticism (Locus). Jonathan McCulmont responds. Also note "no hard feelings"-type Twitter thread.


Iain M. Banks health update & mini-rant. For a long time, Iain M. Banks was cadging off Iain Banks, not the other way round.

The tall writer instructively stylistically imitates the very successful writer. (Guardian review of new Dan Brown).

Slight change up at Strange Horizons.

Jack Vance has died (Guardian obituary by Christopher Priest).


The wheels come off of Kepler (Reuters).

Artist's impressions: New York discovers it had everything it ever wanted in its own back yard all along.

App that tries to untangle corporate ownership hierarchies as you stand in your supermarket, contemplating your canteloupe.

Bayesian probability and quantum mechanics (PDF).

Google Wallet (Gawker). sends $200 to for his share of the cabin. Fire and end times. Also: mapping Bitcoin adoption. "Let the record show that the citizens of Portland, Oregon liked bitcoin before it was cool."

Analysis of London's housing crisis (MetaMute). Cities are battles of not just matter.

On the physiognomy of judgesPoets as activists. Lexical open sorcery, incredible style, blame solidarity. (Militant Poetics conference in Birkbeck this month).

Limb regeneration: it's got legs, says new research (Wall Street Pit). I wonder if it might be tough convincing your brain it has its arm back? Or maybe it'd be like your new limb flowing down your phantom limb like a progress bar.

Smartspecs snap pics & hype apace. Big cyberpunk daddy clicks like, competitor CEO pans. Auntie takes pics with Google Glass and somehow there's still a thumb over each one. Google GLASS (Guardian).

Introduction to net-to-print art. Coast-to-coast, code-to-codex. I say: print the internet not for printing the internet's sake, but in case.

Cotard's syndrome: interview with a dead man (NewScientist). Cf. Adorno: late capitalism / industrial society "demands the coordination of people that are dead. [...] Accordingly, the destructive tendencies of the masses that explode in both varieties of totalitarian state are not so much death-wishes, as manifestations of what they have already become. They murder so that whatever to them seems living shall resemble themselves."

Surveillance and the Boston bombing (Wired).

German police warn of exploding ticket machines. You can get William Burroughs's The Ticket That Exploded (second from the bottom) & a whole heap of other PDFs at the Internet Archive.

"Magnetic fire" lit to reveal energy paths (

System of pretty pendulums converging on the integrated tick. (i09).

Cory Doctorow on 3D printed guns. ""Bad cases made bad law, and it's hard to think of a more emotionally overheated subject area. So while I'd love to see a court evaluate whether the internet should be treated as a library in law, I'm worried that when it comes to guns, the judge may find himself framing the question in terms of whether a gun foundry should be treated as a library." (Guardian).

Autonomous drone passenger planes.

Bousquet reviews Christopher Coker's Warrior Geeks - war, posthumanism, existentialism, etc. "[...] if some readers find the warrior too martial and aristocratic a figure to share Coker’s lament of its decline, they would do well to consider the ethical import of the moves to delegate decision-making away from the individual human to synthetic intelligences, best exemplified by the project for ethical autonomous weapon systems articulated by the roboticist Ronald Arkin. Contra the latter’s views that unwaveringly logical silicon-based reasoning would attain a higher ethical standard, Coker argues persuasively that true moral agency is necessarily embodied and grounded in human capacities for emotion, empathy and imagination that no artificial intelligence can even begin to emulate today."

(This one's definitely on the reading list for my current project (Integration), which is partly about the technological augmentation of moral agency. Could technology in principle intercede throughout the spaces of vast, anomic, socially complex polities to repair social relations characteristic of an older strain of republican idealism, a strain which emphasised on small states, individual virtue and collective autonomy? If so, such intercessory processes would almost certainly not emulate categories of human rationality nor of human moral performance).

Radio 3 discussion on future warfare featuring Coker et al.

Londoners might want to check out the Taranis Paper Tiger salon this Saturday at the Ovalhouse, with fiction and talks (incl. Antoine Bousquet) on remote warfare, simulation, space and myth.


Adam Roberts just read Iain M. Banks's Culture series from finish to start, with notes on each (except for one that's mostly just Heidegger puns), heaping on the praise, but mostly heaping it at one end (the earlier books).

Ken MacLeod in the comments: "I've sometimes suggested - though never really thrashed it out with Iain - that in some respects the Culture and its interventions are metaphorically late-Soviet rather than Western [...]"

I wonder how the Culture short stories and the four or so non-Culture sf books fit in?

I pretty much agree that increasingly as the series goes on "the idea of the Culture is one that dissolves away Dramatic Tension and Story Momentum by its very nature," but pace Roberts am more into the later ones anyway (though I'm only halfway into Consider Phlebas at the moment!). But maybe at some point I'll put together some thoughts as to why.

Meanwhile, here's my wee note, occasioned by some of Roberts's comments, about the Culture, holocausts, the good life as a neckbeard etc.


Dear diary. Scarce math leaves. C'mon! Middling bucks. Mostly at the Birkbeck & call & under the Northumb. Editorial admin for new poetry review sheet (w/ Joe Luna), w/t Hix Eros. Saw McGyver, Mirror, In The Mood For Love. Reviewed Hamilton, Great North Road for Foundation. Reading Banks, Consider Phlebas & May, Intervention. Avid.

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